Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Retro Gamer's Lament.

Guys.  I’m kind of mad and frustrated.  It’s about video games.

You may have heard about the Super NES Classic Edition.  It sold out in record time.  Just like the NES Classic Edition did the year before.  I didn’t try to buy one because I saw it coming and saved myself the effort.  But what I’d like to talk about is the extensive and sometimes ridiculous lengths you sometimes have to go to in order to play older video games.

I’m a bit of a retro gamer myself and I’d like to show you all the various ways I’ve attempted to be able to play retro games.  See picture below.

Crazy, right?  Old hardware and software, after-market consoles, plug-and-play devices, little working collectible arcade cabinets, compilation games and even card reading peripherals.  This doesn’t even show cell phone apps or virtual console downloads.  I’ve tried each of these things and they all have their own significant strengths and flaws.  The plug-and-plays are difficult to store and are limited in what games they carry.  The miniature cabinets and cell phone apps have awkward controls.  The after-market consoles don’t quite get the colors of the visuals right and rely on having working software, which is a problem in itself.  The virtual console downloads are arguably overpriced for a software download of an older game.  And as much as I loved my e-reader and cards back in the Game Boy Advance days, I’ll admit that the whole card scanning gimmick is actually kind of ridiculous.

And that doesn’t even cover emulators and roms.  Emulators are probably most people’s first choice for playing retro games.  An emulator is a program that emulates the workings of a video game console on a computer.  To play games on emulators, you need to upload a game’s rom (read-only memory).  Emulators and roms are big in the retro gaming community.  The reasons being that they’re usable on pretty much any modern PC, facilitate the playing of fairly authentic retro games, are easy to get a hold of and also allow for some flexibility in terms of what control scheme you use.  Some people have even been loading emulators onto small computers called Raspberry Pis in order to hook them up to their TVs.  There is a big problem with emulators and roms, though.  Emulators are great pieces of software, completely above board, and some like MAME (the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) are devised as a means of preserving and archiving gaming’s past for the future.  Roms on the other hand, are usually only attainable by illegally copying copyrighted video games and distributing them.

So, that’s the deal.  Usually the only ways there are to play retro games is to fiddle around with outdated technology, endure ridiculous gimmicks or break the law!  If you’re breaking federal law in order to play Super Mario Bros., there might be something wrong with this system.

You know what I’m waiting for?  The day that the home video game market is like the home video market for movies.  Think about it.  If you want to watch a movie from 20 years ago or more, it’s relatively easy.  Almost every movie or TV show is put on DVD as a matter of course.  There’s also no exclusivity.  Unlike dealing with the Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo video game systems which have their own console exclusives, you can play any DVD on any DVD player.  If you want to watch one of the Spider-Man movies which are produced by Sony, you don’t need a Sony device to do it.  There are very few unnecessary gimmicks or hoops to jump through in order to watch a movie on home video.  The problem is, as my brother (who’s more of a gamer than I am) rather passionately reminded me once, the market for video games just isn’t there yet.  And the truth is that there was a time when home video wasn’t there either.  During the early days of VHS, companies used to sell VHS tapes of movies for around a hundred dollars.  It wasn’t until they started running ads on tapes right before the movies that they started to become affordable (like this Diet Pepsi ad that was on the Top Gun VHS tape).  I  think the video game market will get to that point someday, but whether it’s 20 years away, 50 years away or 100 years away is something that I couldn’t tell you.

But what’s the big deal?  Why is retro gaming important and why do all these retro systems keep selling out?  Well, just respecting the medium’s past is part of it, but I think there’s more to the idea.  I can’t tell you for sure, but I think it may have something to do with the demographics of gamers and how the gaming market is evolving.  On the internet, it’s easy to see the gaming community split into two groups.  There are the hardcore gamers who are really into gaming and love having the newest games and the most up to date technology while investing a lot of time and attention into the hobby.  Then, there are the casual gamers who like mini games and party games and really like smart phone games that they can play on the run.  Basically, they like games but don’t get that invested.  Naturally, this is simplifying everything because nuance is hard to depict on the internet.  I think there’s a middle ground that isn’t getting credit.  A middle ground that I’m probably a part of.  Let’s call it the semi-casual gamer.  In this case, I’m talking about people who grew up with video games, who want video games as an entertainment option but don’t have the time or energy to make it a major daily pursuit.  These are people who can’t imagine not owning a video game console but probably wouldn’t buy all three competing consoles.  These are people who may choose to watch TV or surf the internet before playing a game but are still glad the option is there.  For people like that, retro games are probably pretty important.  Why?  Because retro games are a known entity that they can take advantage of when they do fit gaming into their schedule.  Playing a little bit of Mario, Contra or Street Fighter II is probably a lot more appealing than taking a chance on some new game they don’t know.  It also explains some of the continued popularity of Nintendo among adults.  Nintendo arguably makes games for a primary audience of kids, but they also provide a familiar product that adult gamers can get behind without doing a lot of research or taking a lot of risks.  I’d bet anything the NES Classic Edition and SNES Classic Edition pulled in a lot of these kinds of gamers.  The existence of this gaming demographic also says a lot about how far video gaming has come.  Imagine, video games have become such a major presence in some people’s lives that they’ve always got to be an entertainment option even if they’re not always first choice.

So that’s my deal as a retro gamer.  Too many hoops to jump through and a market that’s taking too long to get to the easy part.  But it will probably get there.
Of course, there’s also part of me that just wishes I could own my own ‘80s arcade complete with big, bulky arcade cabinets.  But that’s another thing entirely.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

It's a Duck-Blur.

So, it’s finally happened.  The brand new Duck Tales series has premiered on Disney XD.  The series that once defined the course of Disney cartoon shows on TV for an entire decade is getting a new chance at life.
Now, I’m a big fan of Duck Tales.  In fact, I’m a big fan of the old Disney Afternoon in general.  Those shows were practically required weekday afternoon viewing when I was a kid.  In fact, I think I may have more nostalgia for the Disney Afternoon than for Disney’s animated movies.

For the uninitiated, Duck Tales is a cartoon series loosely adapted from the Uncle Scrooge comic books created by cartoonist Carl Barks (that’s right, Disney doesn’t even adapt its own stuff all that faithfully).   
A couple of collections of Uncle Scrooge comics that were adapted for the show
The show and comics focused on Donald Duck’s uncle Scrooge McDuck, the richest and cheapest duck in the world, as he travels around the world with various family members in tow on adventures largely aimed at finding treasure and making him even richer.

I recently had the chance to rewatch the original series and I thought I’d write out a few of my impressions of the original show as well as first impressions of the new show’s pilot (Yes, I know this is coming right after my Smurfs post.  I promise this blog won’t be just about ‘80s cartoons.  Well, less than 80% at least).
My Duck Tales DVD collection
First of all, let’s go over some observations I had of the original show.  In the original Duck Tales, the set up is that Donald Duck has to go off to do a tour of duty in the Navy and has to leave his three nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie with his own uncle Scrooge McDuck.  Donald would only appear on the show in a guest star status.  Anyway, this situation leads to the previously mentioned adventures.  One of the things that I particularly noticed in the old show is how every character is useful to some extent.  Even the characters who don’t always get the acknowledgement they should.  One of the most notable is Webbigail Vanderquack.  Webby gets a lot of flack because she comes across as a cliché, girly-girl, tag-along type of character that no one wanted around for the adventures.  And that is true to an extent.  However, it also seems to me that Webby was intended to be younger than the boys early on (in one episode they ride bicycles while she rides a Big Wheel), so naturally she’d need a lot more looking after in dangerous situations.  That at least explains some of the other characters’ attitudes toward her.  But when she was on adventures, she was usually a big help because of her amazing knack for befriending animals.  Kangaroos, hounds, baby dinosaurs, etc.  In one episode she even made friends with a yeti.  Webby was always the first character to solve problems through communication and friendship.  While that may be a stereotypical trait for the “token girl”, it’s also something we could probably use a lot more of in the world.  That’s not all, though.  Mrs. Beakley, the boys’ nanny, is remembered for being a disapproving old woman but she’s shown to be brave, a quick thinker, former world traveler and an accomplished opera singer (and yes, that does prove useful in one episode).  Even the butler Duckworth leads a mutiny on an alien spaceship in one episode.  The funny thing is that this is something fans should have seen all along because it’s the case with a lot of the characters.  Their best traits aren’t always their most memorable traits.  Heck, one of the most beloved characters on the show is Launchpad McQuack.  The defining trait for Launchpad is that he’s a pilot but a really bad one.  He crashes pretty much every plane he flies.  However, Launchpad is also daring and willing to try anything to get out of a jam.  Those are his good points.  Mainly he’s remembered as a really bad pilot, though.  So, why do fans love Launchpad so much even though he’s possibly the most dangerously inept character in the show?  I guess maybe because he was played as the comic relief. 

As the show wore on, they tried adding some new characters to the show.  Some worked better than others.  The first one they tried adding was Bubba Duck.  Bubba was a Caveduck that Scrooge and family brought back from the distant past.  Bubba was an okay character, but the problem was that he didn’t really bring a lot to the show.  Bubba was crazy strong and had a pet dinosaur named Tootsie, but that didn’t necessarily add much story-wise.  The other character they added was Fenton Crackshell aka Gizmoduck.  Gizmoduck worked a lot better.  The idea was that he was McDuck Enterprises’ new head of security and own private superhero.  This is kind of neat, because he’s actually an Iron Man parody from the days before Iron Man had the mainstream popularity he has now.  But the real strength of Gizmoduck is that it gave Duck Tales another story option before the show ended.  They could still do their treasure-hunting adventure stories but they could also stay in Duckburg and do more of a crime-stopping sort of story featuring Gizmoduck.  Those two options were now there.

In terms of story, the show was usually really solid.  Some episodes are based on Carl Barks comic stories but a lot aren’t.  It’s actually fun to watch as a culture savvy adult, because a lot of episodes will focus on one specific type of adventure fiction and drop multiple references to it.  For example, there’s one episode that’s entirely a riff on Alexander Dumas novels.  There are references to The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask and The Count of Monte Cristo throughout the episode.  Another episode does the whole “boy raised in the jungle” thing and references both Tarzan of the Apes and The Phantom.

Now, the new Duck Tales is a different matter.

Only the pilot has aired so far, but it shows a different set up.  This time, Donald Duck is trying to go to a job interview but finds that he can’t leave Huey, Dewey and Louie alone because their mischief will invariably lead to calamity.  So, with no other babysitting options left, he calls on his Uncle Scrooge who he hasn’t talked to in ten years because of some mutual bad blood between them.  The Scrooge we see here is someone who, as the boys say, “used to be a big deal”.  He hasn’t adventured in a long time and the boys and Webby manage to draw him into one.  The whole story manages to culminate in Donald and the boys all moving into McDuck Manor with Scrooge with more adventures surely to follow.  The interesting thing about the new Duck Tales is how well thought out it seems to be.  While family was always present in the show, here it becomes the main theme of the show and the characters’ personalities are written to emphasize this and drive character interaction.  Huey, Dewey and Louie, while good characters in their own way, are usually depicted as being the same in terms of personality.  However, that changes in the new Duck Tales as their personalities are defined by their birth order.  Huey is the smart and responsible oldest boy.  Dewey is the eager, adventurous middle child who wants to stand out.  Louie is a laid back youngest child who embraces the chance to get away with what he can.  Other attempts have been made to differentiate the boys (see Quack Pack), but this seems a lot more deliberate and intended to drive story and character interaction.  Webby is also revamped.  Instead of being the little sister who wants to tag along with the big kids, she’s a peer of the boys who’s spent her life being prepared for any eventuality by her grandmother while likewise being sheltered from any danger.  So, her desire to go along on adventures isn’t simply a desire to go along with the big kids but stems from the frustration of spending your life being prepared for something that likely isn’t going to happen.  I will admit that I will kind of miss the old Webby and her gentler ways, but I’m also interested to see what they do with the new Webby.  Here’s hoping she still has her way with animals.  Probably the biggest change is the inclusion of Donald Duck in the main cast, something that was part of the old Uncle Scrooge comics but not the old show.  Including Donald as well as the bad blood between Donald and Scrooge adds not only a new dynamic but also provides a mystery that the show can develop: What exactly happened 10 years ago to drive Scrooge and Donald apart (there’s a bit more to it, but I’m not going to spoil it).

So, Duck Tales is back and truth be told, it’s just as good as ever.  It’s different but it still has the sense of adventure the original show and comics had.

So, what could be next for Disney television animation?

 Maybe giving a certain mouse the comedy adventure show he should have had a long time ago?
 Who am I kidding?  Disney would never do anything that interesting with Mickey Mouse.  But at least we have Duck Tales.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Insert Coin.

So, last week was the equivalent of the Super Bowl for pop culture junkies and the geek set: San Diego Comic Con (well, except for the pop culture junkies and geeks who actually like the Super Bowl, but you get what I mean).  There were a number of different announcements made over the course of the con.  However, one that caught my attention was the showing of the first trailer for the movie adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One.

For those who don’t know, Ready Player One is a 2011 sci-fi novel set in the year 2044.  2044 is a world where everything is so bad, that most people would rather spend their time in an immersive virtual reality world called the OASIS.  The OASIS itself is a world designed by a reclusive pop culture obsessive named James Halliday.  When Halliday dies, it’s revealed that he hid an “Easter Egg” within the OASIS.  Whoever finds that Easter Egg inherits Halliday’s company, fortune and control of the OASIS.  Being the pop culture obsessive that he was, all clues to Halliday’s treasure are hidden within references to the pop culture that Halliday loved growing up in the 1980s.  This becomes the quest of the book’s main character Wade Watts (aka Parzival), a poor kid from an abusive home in a trailer park where the trailer are stacked one on top of each other.

I’ll admit it, I am rather fond of the book.  Partly because it was one of the first books I’ve read in months that wasn’t just for reviewing on my other blog (, tell your friends about it).  But I thoroughly enjoyed the book regardless of the reason.

But I am also keenly aware that there are some people who really, really don’t like the book.  Probably because I follow at least one of those people on Twitter and they liked tweets from pretty much everyone else who doesn’t like it after the trailer dropped.  There are a number of criticisms of the book.  The author is accused of using various characters as self-inserts.  The obsession with ‘80s pop culture is seen as grating by some and soulless and self-indulgent by others (after all the main character is mainly interested in this stuff so he can win a contest and get rich).  And there are others.  I think I’ll just link to this article from TheRinger, which sums it up.

But let’s look at the trailer and address one of the more glaring things that might have set off the backlash:

“Ernest Cline’s Holy Grail of Pop Culture”

Sounds like a bit much, doesn’t it?  A whole world of pop culture and a reference stuffed treasure hunt story is what gets branded a “holy grail”?  Really?

The problem is, it might not entirely be wrong.  Not if you consider the possibility that the trailer might be playing the same kind of game the book did.

Consider this situation: a group of knights set out on a quest with high stakes to find a relic belonging to the creator of the universe.  Now imagine that the knights are replaced with video game avatars and the universe in question is a virtual reality game.  The first sentence can describe the quest for the holy grail in Arthurian legend.  The second tweaks it to sound like the plot of Ready Player One.  And that’s just the thing, Ready Player One is more or less a grail quest made out of pop culture (well, part grail quest, part Willy Wonka golden ticket nonsense).  And the book isn’t really shy about this.  Late in the book, the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail plays a big part.  And probably the most on-the-nose bit of all, the main character’s avatar is named Parzival.  For those who don’t know, Parzival (also known as Sir Percival) was the original grail knight.  In many later versions of the story, that role is often given to Sir Galahad, who’s depicted as some sort of perfectly pious knight.  Parzival on the other hand, is often depicted as either a commoner with a lot of potential or as someone of noble blood who was raised in the forest, ignorant of the ways of men.  In either case, he’s meant to be an unlikely hero to find the holy grail.  A poor boy who made good.  And that’s probably what Cline intended with his main character of Wade Watts.

So, there’s the off chance that the trailer is doing the same thing the book frequently does: dropping a reference.  But if it’s not just dropping the reference, then it sounds like some rather big hyperbole.
But now, looking at the book itself, I find myself asking “Is Ready Player One a great, well-written book?

Honestly?  No.

Rudimentary Arthurian references aside, while the book references a lot of things it never goes much deeper than that.  It doesn’t transcend the things it references.  It doesn’t use them to transform into something wholly different.  It also doesn’t embrace any deeper themes from any of them.  The love for past popular culture is essentially a love for these things as artifacts more than anything else.  Overall, it’s just a simple wish fulfillment treasure hunt story starring a young adult everyman protagonist.  There are even moments where I look at things in the book now and think they could have been handled better (for example, his courtship of fellow player Art3mis could have come across as a little less desperate on his part).

The book is flawed, but it’s still a lot of fun.  It’s essentially a beach read for those who don’t read romance novels or cozy mysteries while on vacation.  It’s also a beach read that may introduce you to other stuff you may want to check out.  I had never played Joust or listened to a Rush album before in my life, but I did after reading that book.  And while those things might not be my favorite things ever now, I’m still glad someone put the idea in my head to try them.  And overall, (and keep this phrase in mind, because it’ll probably become the credo of Universes Beckon) it’s okay to love flawed things.

But that’s enough for now.  Here’s hoping the movie is as entertaining as the book.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Smurfing Awesome.

It seems that all the movies I wished I could talk about a while back are coming out on DVD.  So, I now have a second chance.

So, let’s do it.  Let’s talk about Smurfs.

Yes, Smurfs.

Don’t go quite yet.  Here in the United States, Smurfs get a bit of a bad rap.  The two movies featuring Neil Patrick Harris certainly didn’t help.  Even before that though, the Smurfs were regarded as little more than a cutesy ‘80s cartoon made more to sell toys and merchandise than provide quality entertainment.

That’s not the whole story, though.  You see, the Smurfs weren’t always an ‘80s cartoon.  They originally came into being as a Belgian comic book by the cartoonist known as Peyo.  Known as Les Schtroumpfs in French, they first appeared in a comic storyline called “The Flute with the Six Holes” in the series Johan and Peewit (Originally Johan and Pirlouit) about a medieval squire and his foolish sidekick.  They were given their own series later.
The thing is, the Smurfs and Peyo deserve more credit than they get, at least here in the US.  While many of the stories were cutesy comedy stories for kids, Peyo realized the potential of writing about a non-human society.  Namely, that he could introduce concepts from human society into it and play them in an exaggerated manner for the sake of comedy and commentary.  In other words, the Smurfs were capable of being used for satire.

No, really.

One of the most notable satirical Smurfs stories is one entitled “The Smurf King”.  It’s a story about how dictators legally rise to power.  I’m not kidding.  The story starts with Papa Smurf having to leave the village for a few days.  Figuring there’s no need to, Papa leaves without putting anyone in charge, just telling them to be good Smurfs while he’s gone.  With no one in charge, the Smurfs start arguing about what to do and ultimately who should be in charge.  Over time, they come to the idea of an election.  Initially, they all want to run and be in charge, but one nameless Smurf realizes something: if he promises to give people what he wants, people are more likely to vote for him.  So, he starts making campaign promises, even promises that contradict other promises he’s made.  He does win and what happens is that this Smurf starts taking more and more power over the other Smurfs’ daily lives.  One of the first things he does is have the other Smurfs build him a palace.  Things escalate quickly after that.  He starts imprisoning Smurfs just for doing things he doesn’t like.  A revolutionary group forms.  There’s even a rebellion.  Except it all ends when Papa Smurf shows up again.  One line Papa Smurf says is particularly memorable when he’s lecturing his little Smurfs “Aren’t you ashamed?  You’ve been acting like human beings!!”

Not all of Peyo’s satirical ideas hold up, though.  In this case I’m talking about “The Smurfette”.

You’ve probably heard of Smurfette.  You may have even heard of “The Smurfette Principle”.  However, you may not know where Smurfette came from.  The story “The Smurfette” centers on a plot by Gargamel to once again capture the Smurfs for his usual ill-defined purposes (either eat them or turn them into gold.  It varies.  The main point is that he’s there to create conflict).  So, he comes to the notion of creating a Smurfette.  He does this by fashioning her out of clay Galatea-style and bringing her to life.  And what is Smurfette like once she’s alive?  Well, she’s flighty, fickle, vain, flirtatious, easily scared of creepy crawly things and a bit preoccupied with pretty things like flowers and dresses.  In other words, she possesses nearly every negative stereotype lobbed at women over the years.  She is more or less a parody of femininity.  Granted, she was created by Gargamel who doesn’t exactly strike me as a feminist.  He even has this long incantation where he says all the negative traits he’s giving her.  It’s a little much.  You’d think they might have at least given her some of the positive stereotypes associated with women (She could have been Nurturing Smurf.  Or Empathetic Smurf).  Ultimately, it’s supposed to be a story about introducing sexual or gender politics into a society that never had known it before and it kind of takes a dim view of it.  I don’t think Gargamel even checks in on his little blue agent.  He just unleashes her into the world and figures Smurf society will just naturally be destroyed.  The male Smurfs don’t exactly come out of it looking that good either.  They treat Smurfette awful at the beginning when she looks kind of frumpy but fall all over themselves to impress her later when she gets a makeover, making them look awfully shallow.  But still, like I said, it’s a bit much.   And I’m pretty sure Peyo received some flak for this characterization.

Luckily, new people are free to take another crack at the character.
The movie Smurfs: The Lost Village isn’t fantastic by any means.  More of a standard, entertaining kids’ film.  There aren’t an abundance of layers that will appeal to a number of adults.  It even has the things that too many animated movies have like an abundance of pop songs and a dance party ending.  However, it tells the story it’s trying to tell pretty well and provides a rather solid character arc for Smurfette.  Beware, some spoilers lie ahead.

The story of Smurfs: The Lost Village concerns Smurfette feeling out of place in the Smurf Village.  Everyone knows she was created by Gargamel, so she’s different on that front.  But she’s also one of the few Smurfs whose character and place isn’t defined.  Unlike Clumsy, Hefty, Brainy, Handy, Jokey and even Nosey, her name doesn’t say anything about her except that she’s an “ette”.  Anyway, during an escape from Gargamel, they find out about a lost village out beyond a giant wall in a part of the forest they had never been in before.  Knowing that Gargamel knows about the lost village too, Smurfette heads off into the unknown forest to warn them.  She’s soon joined by Clumsy, Brainy and Hefty.  A number of really gorgeous animated scenes happen until they reach the Lost Village, where they discover it is a village entirely of female Smurfs with somewhat Amazonian attributes (Note to DC Comics fans who might be reading this: I am fighting the urge to make a comparison to the Guardians and Zamarons right now).  Anyway, along the journey Smurfette really steps up and shows what she’s capable of, even to the point of saving the day.  Mind you, it helps that the movie Smurfette is written in a more well-rounded manner and not like the flighty flake Peyo first dreamed up.  But the big takeaway is the ultimate message.  When the other Smurfs are asked how to describe Smurfette, they all have a different answer.  The reason ultimately alluded to is that Smurfette doesn’t have a traditional Smurf name because it couldn’t possibly define her.  She can’t be defined like that because ultimately, Smurfette can be anything she wants to be.

So, she went from flakey stereotype to well-rounded feminist (or at least semi-feminist) character.  That is the journey of Smurfette.

So, I hope I got some of my American readers to reconsider those little blue people called the Smurfs.  And if I’ve bored any of my European readers, then I’m just sorry.  If you have any observations, comments or questions, leave them in the comments section below.  If you just want to ask me how an all male society of creatures manages to reproduce, I guess you can do that too.  But if you like what you read, please spread the word on Universes Beckon for more pop culture related content.  It also never hurts to subscribe.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doctor HER.

You know, I thought I had hit a bit of a pop culture dead spot and writing on this blog would have to be put off for a couple of weeks or even months.  I even considered revisiting some topics I wanted to talk about in the past when I didn't have this blog yet.  But then, the sky parted and the pop culture gods gave me a perfect topic.

You see, the BBC has just posted this video to announce the new actor cast to play the Doctor on their seminal show Doctor Who:

That's right, folks.  For the first time, the character of the Doctor is going to be played by a woman.

Naturally, some sections of the internet have not responded well.  And while some of it may be genuine sexism, a lot of it is probably people feeling kind of weirded out.  The culture we live in has so often tried to reinforce the idea of sexual and gender identities being hardwired that it's hard for some to believe that in some cases it isn't.

The Doctor with his/her ability to regenerate into a completely different person is one of those cases.

But I'm going to tell you that I find this change interesting.  Why?  Because it could possibly bring something different to the character and how they are forced to operate.  Just like the Third Doctor being stuck on Earth and working for UNIT affected the character.  Just like the Ninth Doctor being the last of his kind affected the character.  This change could bring about new elements of story that could be interesting.  And it's probably going to be our culture's preoccupations with sex and gender that'll do it, ironically enough.

While the various alien races that the Doctor encounters may not react to the Doctor any differently, we must also remember that Doctor spends a fair bit of time in Earth's past.  And Earthlings from the past will probably react to a woman Doctor differently than a man Doctor.  Sometimes in little ways, but also maybe in bigger ways.  Imagine the Doctor suddenly having to deal with sexism as an obstacle.  There will likely be some bullish males in the past for whom waving around a piece of psychic paper is not going to get the Doctor a free pass.

Or maybe it won't.  Maybe they'll just act like this Doctor is the same as every other Doctor.  But the possibility is there.

Whatever the outcome, I'm definitely intrigued.  And it's just nice to see roles like this opening up more to women.  And we're seeing it happen more and more.  Wonder Woman had her first blockbuster movie.  We even had female Ghostbusters and a female Mummy.  While those movies weren't particularly good, it was bad scripting and direction that were the problem not the gender of the stars.

Also, you've got to admit, this is probably the prettiest actor to play the Doctor since David Tennant.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Here it is folks!

So, here we are.  I finally did it.  I finally created that auxiliary blog I've been talking about for a while.

The genesis of this blog has come from a number of things.  Mainly the fact that I've discovered that I have opinions about all sorts of pop culture things that are unconnected to fairy tales, legends and children's fantasy books and that I'd like to have a place to express them.

A short list of things in pop culture that made me say "Man, I wish I had a blog to talk about that" include: Wonder Woman, Funko Pops, Universal Monsters, Power Rangers, Super Sentai, Smurfs, the X-Men, Digimon, Pokemon, Andi Mack, manga, retro arcade games, and cooking shows among others (I can't promise I'll get to all these).

I did manage to use my personal Facebook page to talk about Andi Mack as well as the new Mummy and Wonder Woman movies.  But now I have a place set aside just for that sort of thing.

this blog will be updated more on a "drop-in" basis.  Basically, whenever there's something I want to talk about that doesn't fit on Fairy Tale Fandom, it will get posted here.

You might be wondering about the title of the blog, though.  The truth is that I had the hardest time coming up with a title.  That is, until I ended up reading someone else's blog that had a title drawn from a movie quote.  Figuring that approach would work as well as anything, I pulled an old comic book quote from my memory.  It was from the '90s miniseries DC vs Marvel.  Aside from the dual publishing by two different comic book companies, it was your typical '90s comic book event.  Fun, but nothing spectacular.  In the course of it though, DC and Marvel created a new character named Access who had the ability to move between universes.  And at the end of the series, the narration talks about Access and says something like "For universes beckon.  And when universes beckon, which of us can say no?"

Maybe not a perfect title, but I think it'll work.

So, keep checking back in this space.  You never know what's coming up.