Monday, December 31, 2012



“I’m going on an adventure!”

- Bilbo Baggins

Yup, that about says it all. No pun intended, but long story short: I’m very undecided on how I feel about Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit. First off, I have never actually read The Hobbit. But, I’ve got plenty of secondary sources: Ralph Bakshi’s 1970s animated version (Now, I’m a secret animation geek, as well as a bonafide Master of Communication and Media Studies…so I notice the effects of different animated media on storytelling…more on that later.) several audio tapes and CDs, and of course, accounts from people who have read the book.

   In Peter Jackson’s version, all the characters look great. Martin Freeman is a great Bilbo, Ian McKellan is once again wonderful as Gandalf, etc. Mainly, my complaints about this movie are not so much in visual aspects; Peter Jackson always succeeds there. But, in storytelling and pacing, I got more of Jackson’s usual slow story development and battle scenes so fast and confusing you miss all the CGI chaos if you blink.

 I get what Peter Jackson is going for. He’s under pressure to keep the Tolkien geeks happy, connect to a regular audience, and connect this film to his previous Lord of The Rings Trilogy. He pulls it together well! By comparison however, Ralph Bakshi (to my knowledge.) was never under pressure to make The Hobbit look like a prequel; so we don’t get lengthy scenes of Sarumon talking to Gandalf, or even learn the significance of the ring until Bakshi’s The Fellowship of The Ring and The Return of The King. In that way, Bashski’s versions work as standalone films, and part of a series. And, since it’s all animated, nothing really feels out of place. This is not my impression in Peter Jackson’s half CGI half live-action series. Granted, this
modern version  is essentially a prequel, so the connections must exist.

    Jackson’s scenery is awesome to look at, but there are moments like meeting the Goblin King where it was just disgusting to look at; the goblins, far from little green things, are pale and look like ugly bipedal hairless cats. The Goblin King is fat and grotesque. As far as the monsters go though, I will say Gollum was better this time around, and I thoroughly enjoyed his scenes. As I said all the scenery and characters are great, and it really puts you into that magical world. But, then along comes a battle scene, and it’s so quick I had no idea what just happened. One minute, Bilbo’s just talking to trolls; the next, the dwarves jump out and Bilbo’s fighting them too.

    If I remember my Hobbit correctly (And I probably don’t. Feel free to correct me.) I thought Bilbo just tricks the trolls by throwing his voice and pretending to be a troll until Gandalf rescues the dwarves. Although Martin Freeman plays a great nervous little homebody Bilbo (And his house is exactly as I imagined; as it was in Jackson’s Lord of The Rings, too.) there were little moments such as the aforementioned troll encounter where I didn’t expect Bilbo would behave the way he did. He seems a little too battle-ready; such as when he is swinging his sword around at Gollum.

    Gollum’s performance in the riddle scene was very good. You can really see how the technology of face rendering in 3D has changed over the years. I love Andy Serkis, and his wild-eyed Gollum character. He’s energetic, and fun, with a little less dark side this time around; but it’s still there because he loses “the precious”. And even Bilbo’s trickery is fun to see. I guess the sneaky nervous little Bilbo is the one I’m used to. This Bilbo character is good, but has little moments where I don’t think he behaves like he should, as I’ve said.

   But, that’s all part of the delicate balancing act Peter Jackson is trying to do here. Appeal to Tolkien geeks, and long-time followers of his versions, vs. keeping a regular audience interested. Overall, I haven’t had such fun at the movies since The Avengers actually (Though The Avengers was better!) and there were several moments where I laughed out loud. And of course, I just like the world of Middle Earth and it’s magic! Another thing I liked is that they were able to keep in the songs, starting with the dwarves trashing Bilbo’s house. It’s a really good illustration of Bilbo’s homebody nature vs. these strange ruffian dwarves. But, because there is no inner dialogue here, you don’t really see his motive to leave his house. It’s just: “I’m going on an adventure!” Sure, he explains later. But, you don’t see him stirred by the songs.

   Anyway, I enjoyed the movie! Anytime I’m reminded of a fantasy-adventure is good! Martin Freeman’s Bilbo is a little more adventurous I’d say than Ralph Bakshi’s classic animated one. That may have been a good thing, given the initial slow pacing of the movie. And I think Bakshi was a little less disadvantaged because he wasn’t doing The Hobbit as a prequel. Nevertheless, if you want fantasy-action, you go with Peter Jackson. If you want the storytelling elements, you go with Bakshi. These are just subtle differences I noticed, that do help to appreciate either of the films.

    Peter Jackson was obviously under pressure to show everything fast and visually with CGI. Bakshi could take time because his cartoon just wasn’t as expensive as Jackson‘s, and  Bakshi  used narration both to make it seem more like a book (Jackson couldn’t; although Bilbo is writing the on-screen events in his version, so… I actually don‘t see why not!) and Bakshi captures the characters’ smaller details: Like green goblins, instead of weird hairless cat goblins.

   One last thing is that I figuratively rolled over laughing at the end, and how shocked most people were. But, I can’t give spoilers. I’m a little like a hobbit myself; I don’t want to spoil the adventure. I love movies that have a fantasy/sci-fi angle, and seeing that big reveal was definitely an indicator of a bigger, faster, more action-packed sequel! This was definitely The Hobbit…but definitely epic and definitely Peter Jackson’s take on it! Big, action-packed, and over-the-top: 3 stars for this Hobbit adventure! It really made me take a second look at Ralph Bakshi‘s Hobbit, too. Sit down, have some popcorn, and watch both, if you can…when Peter Jackson’s comes out on video. Happy New Year everyone!
                                                              (Hobbit movie poster.)

(Slick Bilbo.)

                                                                  (Meeting Gandalf.)

                                                      (Meeting Gandalf...Bakshi's version.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012



Well, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (or holiday)! As usual, I was back in Athens. I got many gifts to do with the X-men! Particularly, I had wanted X-men comics/graphic novels that dealt with Civil Rights issues. To my surprise they were all done by the best modern X-men writers! Mark Millar (Ultimate X-men) and Joss Whedon (Gifted). I guess my parents’ overheard me in the bookstore. I didn’t really want any of that stuff to do with civil wars and vampires. Back to the roots for me!
   I’ve been trying to get my reviews up on AbleGamers, starting with my X-men review. Videogames are a whole new venue of advocacy for me. It’s quite fun. Any social changes we affect as advocates, will have to effect all new forms of media. In particular, these new motion controls make things inaccessible for mobility impaired gamers. But, I’ve accepted that this is just a stage that videogames are going through, like memory cards in the late 1990s, early 2000s. I predict motion control will be replaced by touch screens. Though touch screens have their own issues, it’s still better than disenfranchising 33 million disabled gamers who may not have full mobility: Thanks to AbleGamers for that statistic.
   Speaking of accessibility in the media, prepare for more reports from me on OSU’s Cartoon Library. I realize there’s a whole lot of comics and such there, but many are available by appointment only: including all the X-men. So, as fueled by nostalgia and social justice as I am, I grabbed a copy of MAD magazine, spoofing the Twilight Saga (that was pretty funny.) I also sense Twilight is responsible for the X-men’s turn turning vampires and demons, and supernatural romance, when it really should be about Civil Rights. (Yes, I know Joss Whedon did Buffy the Vampire Slayer; but thus far he hasn’t brought it into X-men.) A huge concern for me is what these media are saying that people should pursue.
That’s why in Hollywood right now, it’s sort of epic monsters vs. epic heroes. Are we more interested in self-preservation than justice? Now, I realize the driving force in Hollywood is money; but, it will be interesting to see where these myths go. I can remember watching the 3rd X-men installment with vague disappointment as characters were killed needlessly, and the movie made odd winks to Internet Culture, concluding with a lackluster “showdown” with only a teaser of a sentinel’s head in sight! Hollywood thought it gave people what it wanted, but it backfired. A good sign that the audience still has power.
   Fortunately, for every X-men 3, you have The Avengers movie; good superhero epics. It will be interesting to see if this decade gives us another Lord of The Rings-type trilogy in The Hobbit, for example, or if this will be considered just a re-hash. I’m going to see The Hobbit tonight, so we’ll see what I think of it.  In the meantime, I hope everyone’s holiday was good, and regenerative and a sign of good times to come!

                                         (Enjoy this video of one of the graphic novels I got!)

Monday, December 17, 2012



 The app store description of Minecraft: Pocket Edition says, “Imagine it. Build it. Create worlds on the go, with Minecraft: Pocket Edition!” I would add: (If you’re able-bodied.) Let me describe to you my first experience playing Minecraft on this device. Minecraft is like Legos, except you build and “craft” things from the environment around you, usually found underground (Hence, “Mining”+ “crafting” = Minecraft.)  or if you need wood, you chop down a tree, which gives you a block of wood, etc. First rule of Minecraft for me, (In the game’s Survival Mode.) is to build a shelter first, to protect myself from monsters.

   Ordinarily, this means chopping down a tree. Fair enough. But, here you have something worse than a virtual joystick or compass: A virtual keypad. I understand there’s always a learning curve with Minecraft, but the bottom line is the control of the keypad is just too sensitive, and not well-spaced. A jump button is in the middle. As if the keypad wasn’t bad enough, you have to swipe to move around the camera. Holding down the tap for just a second switches from using an item (Like an axe to chop wood.) to examining items. The end result was I was half dancing around this tree while trying to cut it down.

   Which is bad not just because I could barely control it, but because the monsters come out at nightfall. I wasted time dancing around a tree and getting my blocks. I had no shelter. Several zombies emerged, and I hastily dug a ditch in the dirt to protect myself, which meant swiping the camera down to look at the ground and several fast taps to dig, lazily shuffling into my ditch while looking at the ground. Yeah, the zombie knocked me out of the ditch.

   So, you’re thinking: “Well, you have an axe. Just turn around and whack him!” I was thinking the same; except I instead of you. This means I had to tap back to the axe, swipe to the right, swipe to look at the zombie and tap, no! don’t examine the zombie! Tap to attack it. Oh, and it was attacking me all the while, so I was being knocked around. I died. Re-spawned. I died again. Re-spawned. And again! From the same single zombie! So, when I re-spawned the fourth time I just ran far away into a nearby tundra. From there, I built a ruddy little log cabin with naught but two spaces to move around in over the course of two game days. Now, ordinarily, building in-game takes patience, I understand that. Sometimes, you click the wrong places; things get built wrong, whatever. But, the interface between: use item, build, and examine all done with taps really creates a problem. You’ll be destroying things you built, looking at them, and building where you want to destroy.

    Now, once I had my little ramshackle roof over my head (it had a door even!) I wanted to go hunting. As luck would have it, the tundra had plenty of sheep and pigs. Pigs can be hunted for meat, and sheep for wool. Maybe I’d make a bed! (Bed = 3 wood planks + 3 wool.) But, as usual, I found myself examining sheep, and even being pushed (not attacked, though.) around by pigs once I attacked. Only one sheep dropped 2 wool blocks. I ran back to my log cabin. Pushed around by pigs, for crying out loud! Seemed like I’d have to avoid every critter in the game on top of monsters!  

    I like the idea of Minecraft. I just think the iPad, with its tap formats (which you can’t change around at all.) are really ill-suited for those of us with mobility impairments. I have to say I did enjoy building things and crafting tools, when it went right! But, when it came down to I can’t even dig a ditch right (while staring at the ground!), or attack a zombie because my swipes and taps (upward or downward.) don’t register; that’s not a patience issue. That’s an accessibility issue. If I had a mouse and keyboard, I would’ve seen that zombie, and killed it in three clicks. I’d have had a bed from all the wool (maybe.) and I would’ve made those bully pigs into pork instead of dancing around them awkwardly.

    Now, there is a “Creative Mode” aside from “Survival Mode”. Creative Mode gets rid of the monsters, gives you infinite resources, and lets you fly around instead of jump. It basically just lets you build. This mode was slightly more enjoyable. Did it make the controls any less frustrating? No! But, no monsters to worry about. Building is still awkward. In Creative Mode, I just carved a dwelling out of a cave, and put a door on it. I wasn’t even in the mood to imagine! I just wanted the controls to work!
      Hunting was still as abysmal. Only this time, I had ducks that kept getting through my door. (Some kind of game glitch?) I will say Creative Mode is better for exploring, but then: Why build shelter? I know, I know. To exercise your imagination. But, with a control system this bad, and half the challenge gone, the only thing I could imagine was playing a better app!

  Creative Mode does offer more accessibility, but at expense of half of the game, and the controls are still the same; that horrible keypad! The terrible tap sensitivity! (And, no re-mapping is available.) It does feel a little less stressful, but the controls just try to do to much with the various taps and motions, and don‘t appear to have had the mobility impaired in mind. A sad thing for such a creativity-based game.

   In conclusion, if you’re mobility impaired, the touchscreen commands may be a bit much. I know Minecraft has a big world to offer, and it’s fun to look at, but I want to build things and hunt and to survive zombie attacks. The swiping for me to turn around then having to use the keypad to move separately means those pigs will just walk on by you, and the zombies will eat you before you have your first plank laid. It’s very confusing, and frustrating that I can’t build what’s in my mind. I would play this game to escape my physical limits, not to be constantly reminded of them. Because of running from monsters at night, I felt like I was playing a weird 3D version of Castlevania 2: WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE. ;-)


ACCESSIBILITY GRADE: C (Creative Mode has no monsters.)

FORGIVENESS FACTOR: D (Can re-spawn; but not often helpful accessibility-wise.)

TOUCHSCREEN CONTROL: F (Virtual keypad; sensitive-command taps, swipe-based camera.)

                        (AHH!!! A ZOMBIE!!! AHH!!! GRAPHIC/INTERFACE OVERLAP!!! RUN!!!)


                                                       (MY NEMESIS MR. SHEEP.)


Saturday, December 15, 2012


                             IPAD ACCESSIBILITY REVIEW: SCI-FI HEROES

 I got a request to do another accessible iPad game review! Well, I didn’t think I’d be able to find another iPad game as fun as X-men Arcade (which wasn’t designed for iPad in 1992 anyway.) But, I found a “team-up shooter” called Sci-Fi Heroes! Naturally, I like it! But, here’s why: the format is in almost a Secret of Mana-type, role-playing game style that I like; it seems naturally suited to the touchscreen with a minimum of hassle. Though hassle there is!

The characters are pretty limited to RPG stereotypes, or if you‘ve never played Secret of Mana-type RPGs, the intros will familiarize you. (My apologies if you didn’t grow up with any Square Enix RPGs.) You start off with only a space marine named Sarge, and a Healbot, Nightingale. Really my only complaint about this game is that the characters are limited, and don’t appear to me to have much difference other than what you’d expect from a game with limited sci-fi character classes: marines, techno wizard, healers, sneaky types.

    Usually if I’m feeling cheap (Because, why not? Accessibility!), I group the classes (rogue-to-wizard-healer-to-fighter; not so good in boss fights though.) together back to back on the screen so that they can shoot whatever’s coming in whatever direction. So, you just tap for one character to face the back of another character. Though that can be bad for enemies with mind control powers, in which case you’re just asking for one of those guys to turn around and get shot. Or mind controlled, or stabbed, whatever those nasty aliens can cook up.  

   The main controls are fairly common sense, which is why I like it.You control 4 heroes at a time until you either win a battle or lose it. Since this game is an iPad game, you move by dragging a finger (Not swiping, thank goodness!) from the hero to the destination. Response time is a factor, so it might be a little shaky for some, but to me, there is no “Virtual joystick” so that’s the most common sense use of the iPad format, in terms of accessibility. No pause button, I’m afraid though! And no known way to speed the game down. Also, before you land heroes on a planet, there’s a large amount of menus to go through, which can be perplexing. Equipping the crew, spending money on equipment etc. Each character has skills to use in combat, but the skills are in the upper left, which can distract from the flow of combat; particularly for those with impairments like me.

   The game has a sarcastic brand of humor. The character biographies are narrated by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, English/Australian game developer and reviewer of  the “Zero Punctuation” game review series. So, Sarge has never been in a war, but is eager to kill things, the Healbot is a depressed maniac: Sarge will say: “Let’s go kill something!” and the Healbot will respond: “Oh, great. I hate you all.” and the rogue is a self-interested Han Solo or Malcolm Reynolds type: “Why does the Horde want this planet anyway? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice and all, but couldn’t they just move somewhere else?” The banter between the characters really holds the story together, and is another major reason I play it: Click here for Yahtzee’s merciless reviews, which I must warn you, are graphic and contain adult language, but all in wicked fun!

    As with most iPad games it seems, one half is the game, and the other half is unlockable content and things the creators want you to buy with real money. For example, more in-game money, or equipment. Some heroes are unlockable if you have the right amount of in-game money. Spending actual money isn’t really required, but it can speed up the game a little if you’re sick of going through levels again to beef up your heroes, which happens a lot, especially in boss fights where you have to move quickly!
Overall, I like the gameplay once you get past all the menus. This finger-drag control mechanism looks to me like how an iPad game should actually play. It is real-time though, so dexterity is once again a minor issue. I have to admit though; were it not for my love of sci-fi, wacky humor, and hero stories, I probably wouldn’t play. I just love blasting away alien Hordes, and the witty banter between the heroes. Any game that lets me shoot aliens seamlessly is a keeper!
  Lastly, it’s come to my attention that there accessibility guidelines for videogame developers. I’ll be using these guidelines in the future. The guidelines are quite comprehensive, covering just about every disability from physical  impairments to cognitive. So, it should be quite helpful for all disabled gamers. You can see them here: Special thanks to Ian for pointing it out to me! Also, for reviews of games, game systems, control layouts, message boards and disability issues in gaming, check out Ablegamers:, thanks again to Ian for the info.

  For my ratings, I’ll still just use my own observation of the games. Next, since I’ve reviewed mainly games I like, I’m going to review a game which I think is totally inaccessible…Minecraft! The sad thing is I love Minecraft. But, not on the iPad. Minecraft on the iPad is about as accessible as a staircase. It really showcases the worst of the touchscreen! To my ratings then, for this wacky alien-blaster RPG!


ACCESSIBILITY GRADE: B+ (Complex menus, character stats screens.)

FORGIVENESS FACTOR: B (Can’t always move heroes quickly; see: real-time. Fixed difficulty.)

TOUCHSCREEN CONTROL: A (Drag or tap, not swipe, yes! For most in-game motions.)

                                                     (Battle screen gets cluttered easily!)
                                                             (Character screen.)

                                                                  (Team screen.)

                                                              (Playin' "cheap!")

Friday, December 7, 2012



Earlier, I had promised to review the disability accessibility of the iPad. So, I was psyched (or should I say, “Cyked”) to play this 1992 arcade classic which at the same time ties in with my favorite superheroes. There were some accessibility issues, as there seemingly always are with iPad games. Those of us with less than full dexterity will often tire of taps or swipes that don’t register. But, the one big pro was the game itself!

First off, before we get to pros and cons, I remember this game from Birchwood Mall in Port Huron, MI, when it was new. My memories are extremely vague, but I remember everybody always wanted to play it, and there would be like 5 people crowded around that big X-Men cabinet; lots of shouting and shoving, my mom would hold me up to the cabinet to play. Here was a game that let you be the X-Men. Cyclops, Colossus, Storm, Dazzler Nightcrawler, and Wolverine; this was not the roster from the 1992 cartoon, then new; this was from the 1989 cartoon pilot Pryde of the X-Men!

But, differences in roster aside, you got to fight against the bad guys from the comics. And what could be greater? Translating the format from cabinet to touch screen however, proved a bit tricky. On a cabinet, you have big giant buttons: jump, attack, mutant power, and a big joystick to move around with. On a touch screen, you have small, touch-sensitive icons, which are lumped together in the bottom right of the screen. Lumping together makes perfect sense if you have full dexterity, or are on a cabinet (after a while you just physically feel where each button is.) but on a touch screen, it means you’ll be pressing the wrong icon unless you look down there a lot.

Most curious to me was the joystick translation. Here, you have a small X in the bottom left corner of the screen. With most iPad games you just tap the screen and it goes. This is not so here. The spaces in between the X correspond to cardinal directions that you hold down to move. Especially given that the icon is on the opposite side of the action icons, it was difficult, though not impossible, to do two things at once. Moving and attacking, being relatively close but on opposite sides, is easiest. But, say, jumping and attacking is a bit more slippery, or jumping in a given direction. For this reason, I hated pit levels (which I believe start with level 4 and continue on.)

If there was a pit, I was falling in it, which of course makes you lose a life. So, unless I very slowly walk around it down Nightcrawler or whoever goes. Also, if you take too long…I believe a minute after clearing an area and the game tells you to “MOVE ON! à ” a bomb drops, killing your hero. While this was useful in arcades as a tactic to goad lazy bones holding back the group when arcade goers were spending precious time and tokens, it just feels annoying here. I’m trying to save the world, and the game drops a bomb on me.

Pros for the iPad: Mercifully, the iPad version has a “pause” icon so a bomb doesn‘t drop on you every minute! Also, you can continue as much as you like. While it takes away from the challenge, sometimes it’s necessary to just use your mutant power attack to clear the screen, although it takes two health slots. Honestly, there is such variety to the attacks that the mutant power attacks never made me feel like I was less into the game. There’s a difficulty setting if you want more challenge, which I can assure you the arcade version didn’t have. These are all plusses to the iPad version for accessibility.

In fact, to me, using mutant power in more desperate situations (attacked in mobs, etc.) made the game feel more like a comic book; like you were really kicking butt! Which, I’m sure was the game makers intention even in arcades, when gamers would wait for those situations to pop up. It looked cool, and it saved sweet tokens. And the 5 guys you could play with would thank you maybe. On the iPad, since you don’t use tokens, mutant powers are just shorthand for either “I wanna look awesome!” or “Ugh! Let’s get this fight over with.”

A note on character appearances. As mentioned before, this is the 1989 roster from what I see. Dazzler is basically Jubilee. Professor X has a power chair it looks like, but it is less detailed and it’s ambiguous how he’s driving it, since there’s no joystick. Details, details. Also, the characters retain the badly translated Japanese dialogue, such as Magneto and Emma Frost’s “Welcome to die!” which adds a corny factor. Twice, even! Two characters say that! Also, you know it’s from the 1989 roster because Professor X has no British accent.

Stylistically, the game very much reminds me of an arcade game. (Those token-eating beat-em-ups of the 90s.) but the control mechanism really takes me out of the game sometimes, which is otherwise a good game: I don’t want to see Cyclops getting pummeled because I was punching one guy and forgot to turn around. But, the iPad makes up for that in that it is not as merciless (thank goodness!) as the arcade.

Overall, I’m excited (X-Cited?) to have the game again, and to relive some epic childhood moments. For me, it’s all about story. And now I’m in there again, using mutant abilities to save the world. As the game says: “Here come to the heroes to save the world from destruction. They are X-men!” Oh yeah, I’m an X-man again! Now, if only I could stop jumping against that wall!





(Colossus' mutant power.)

                                                   (Good view of the control scheme.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

X-Mas With The X-Men

X-mas with The X-Men:

To me, there are no better advocates of disability rights in the superhero world than the X-Men. In the real world, it would be places like VSA and independent living organizations, but probably my first experience with my own advocacy was through X-Men. So, instead of looking at doomsday scenarios, I wanted to pay tribute to my first superheroes on the holidays.

There were a couple holidays episodes of at least two animated series. The one in the 90s (Have Yourself A Morlock Little X-Mas.) and the 00s series X-Men: Evolution. Which you can watch above. It’s really good, and deals oddly enough, with Angel who saves a disabled woman in the opening scene! The 90s version is a fairly Christmas Carol version of X-Men. Wolverine doesn’t want to help a Morlock (sewer mutant.) who stole some food, but Professor X invites him to eat with the X-Men. Wolverine sort of plays Scrooge.

But, it’s the X-Men: Evolution episode that really speaks to me, as far as holiday specials go. It stays true to the X-Men themes of fighting for equality even though people may fear and hate others. Plus, there are two disabled people in this episode! Check out Professor X’s wheelchairs between the series! I remember when I was a kid I wanted a hover chair like the 90s version. But, I particularly like the modern power chair design with the Xs in the spokes. Looks comfy.

If you watched that episode, let me know what you thought. To me, it brings up an all too important issue of labeling. Angel’s good actions are first attributed to his mutations (being an “angel”.) then people hate him because of it. So it goes. But, neither is actually true. He’s not an angel from heaven, and he’s not a freak. He’s a good person. But, he’s fighting labels. This is the first episode to show Kitty Pryde as Jewish, and (to my knowledge.) Cyclops as Christian. In this respect, it’s also more diverse than its 90s counterpart.

Personally, I always thought the X-Men were about Civil Rights. And that’s important, because it means that the X-Men want equality; just like we in the disability rights movement do. Our special abilities are what define us, yet we want no special treatment. Our Xavier’s Institutes might well be places like VSA or independent living centers where we learn to use our gifts to benefit others. A big thank you to VSA, which I know always encourages using our gifts. And I love giving people gifts. Especially on X-mas! Happy holidays everyone, and don’t forget to comment on the episode!