Sunday, June 30, 2013

Special (2006)

Special (2006):

Les: “I’m important and I keep this city running.”

Boss: “Good. Now, repeat.”

Les: “I’m important. I’m important. I’m important…”

Don’t we all wish we could be a superhero? A bored meter maid named Les wants to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. He’s tired of reciting his boss’s mantra “I’m important and I keep  this city running.” without really believing in it. So, he takes an experimental pill called “Special”, and now finds that he can walk through walls, fly, and is telepathic.

    But, his friends all think he’s crazy. And that’s because he is. See, the drug only reduced his capacity for self-doubt. Thus, critical thinking as well. In reality, he’s just running into walls, but he thinks he’s going through them. One time, he stops a robbery at a convience store, and his behavior starts to get more bizarre, and psychotic.
 When he reveals his powers to his friends (who own a comic book store.) they both laugh and play along, so he thinks they witnessed his powers, too. Soon, he jumps off a gas station rooftop and saves a lady’s purse from getting snatched; the friends start to realize that Les is psychotic.

     Meanwhile, Les’s delusions of grandeur only become bigger. He is confronted by men led by “Jonas Exiler” in suits who want to hunt him and use his DNA to clone an army of super soldiers. He successfully battles them off, and rushes to his friends to tell them they are in danger. But, as his friends become more disturbed by Les’s mania, they try to tell him it’s not real. He pulls a gun on them and accuses them of being brainwashed by “The Suits”. And what started out as a very comedic underdog tale becomes insanely darker as Les’s is tortured by his delusions and continues to lash out at the real world. He holds up his doctor at gunpoint, and in another scene is beaten by his delusions with a 2x4 though it’s apparent Les is only beating himself up.

    Having seen elements of psychosis before in others, I’m not entirely sure how accurate the film is, but it seemed to me to be that way. The delusion starts off as innocent, almost like a game (maybe I AM a superhero.) and then before you know it, he’s dressing in costume and beating up “Suits”. The recent influx of superhero movies kind of made me believe it’s a superhero story; so it makes you suspend disbelief for a minute. But, it’s not. It’s a “disability movie” about the nature of schizophrenia.

 I never once thought Les was a bad guy. On the contrary, his delusions reveal him to be a man of a sweet and good nature who only wants to make the world a better place. Before he’s beaten (first) by the Suits, he yells at Jonas Exiler “Who do you think would care if you disappeared, huh? You think you’re so much better than everyone else! Well, you’re not!” (I wonder if he was merely talking to his self-doubt. He wants to doubt himself again, almost.)

I have probably given away too much already, but this is a deeply touching character study about a man tortured both by his everyday life, and then his escape of it. It’s an emotional roller coaster that will keep you rooting for Les all the way through, even in his more psychotic moments, which reveal themselves to be manifestations of his humane motives. But, people don’t have superpowers. To believe otherwise is crazy, right?  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013



“Next time Stark asks for help…I’ll put a bullet in him.”

- The Punisher

Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is a Marvel anime that begins with Tony Stark developing a satellite named Howard (After his dad.) from which S.H.I.E.L.D can watch the world. Are we meant to think of cyber threats and whistleblowers? I sure thought so! Anyway, after unveiling his satellite, things go wrong. Without giving spoilers, Technovore arrives in full force. He has these orbs full of “technovores” that can eat through technology as well as human biology. He doesn’t zap people, he just utterly dissolves them!

When Tony Stark gets too close to uncovering who Technovore is, Nick Fury sends Hawkeye and Black Widow after him in Pakistan for acting without his authority. But, in Pakistan, Iron Man finds an unlikely ally in Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher! Here, he looks a little too pretty for my taste though. At least his dark humor and Iron Man’s wit are in tact. Iron Man warns everyone not to make the man in the skull shirt angry…and…when the chase begins, Punisher scoffs at Hawkeye: “Arrows? Really?”

As usual with Marvel animes, the villain kind of twists and turns, and I’m trying real hard not to give spoilers. In my view, the big treat here is seeing all these superheroes in action in anime form. I will say though, the females (Black Widow and Pepper Pots) range from “Girl with light red hair” to “Girl with dark red hair”. There’s not much development of either, except Black Widow stuck in for fan service.

The film takes us from New York to Pakistan to Beijing in search of this biotechnological terrorist Technovore. He is not at all who he seems to be, and the climax seems to take cues from Akira…but in the Marvel universe! Some old adversaries come back, some new allies are made, some heroes are wiped out! It’s good if you want more Iron Man and you want to fill in plot gaps!

Also, while Tony and S.H.I.E.L.D are fighting across the globe, Technovore takes control of Howard, so it definitely raises the stakes! If you liked the other Marvel animes, this one is a welcome addition. And definitely opens up some new possibilities. Will we be seeing a Punisher anime soon? I sure hope so! Stay tuned!

iPad Accessibility Game Review: UNDEAD SLAYER


Undead Slayer is an iPad hack n’slash game with an Ancient Chinese/anime style. This means lots of blood, too. After a while the zombies start coming in mobs and you have to take down armies! More than most iPad games, I found that with Undead Slayer I had a really difficult time distinguishing between taps and hold-and-tap techniques. This is super important because hold is to charge up your weapon…I only got a samurai sword, but you can buy more in-game. With the zombies coming in mobs and following your tracks, one little accidental second charging instead of attacking and your brains are zombie breakfast.

    Usually though, the charge attacks and special techniques are good at clear the screen. You’ve just gotta charge with no zombies around. Early on, you can buy a fireball ability with an area effect which is nice. Just make sure it’s charged before you meet a wave of zombies. With the tapping being so rapid, and the movement being so fickle (tap your destination, but if a zombie’s in the way, in turns into attack.) it’s a very intense game. I would say that alone would make it inaccessible to some. But, I love the intensity; what I hate is the tap sensitivity, which often had me charging my sword with a mound of zombies on my heels, so I’d run into a corner turn around and unleash the charge…and it still wouldn’t do the trick by then!
If you die, you can come back with all your stuff if you spent jade, which are thankfully collected in-game and not exclusively through in-app purchases. If you don’t have jade, you lose your equipment and skills. Overall, it’s a challenging game. It’s not particularly accessible if you don’t like getting mobbed or having to tap really fast. Like I said, this is a problem in this game specifically because of it’s tendency to mix-up commands. I’m afraid I only like it for the anime art style and action! I’m biased. But, there’s really not much in the ways of accessibility unless you count the screen-clearing charged attacks! And there’s lots of zombies and blood…so there’s that!

I thought it was fun, but it’s definitely got it’s own niche. It can be frustrating. Just remember to charge your attacks really, and you’ll do all right. Take on smaller mobs by regular attacks. If all else fails, run and use a charged attack. It can take time, but it can also be well worth it. The game itself, in terms of physical accessibility, is kind of at war with it’s own control system. But, on a slightly morbid upside, it also means when you die, you die quickly, and can re-enter the game without wasting time, if you have jade. You see, I really want to recommend this game, but if you’re not into over-the-top anime zombie hunting action, then why even download the game, right? Happy zombie hunting!


ACCESSIBILITY GRADE: B+ (Visually, it is pretty simple, except for some complex shop and skill menus.)

FORGIVENESS FACTOR: D (No jade? Lose everything.)

TOUCHSCREEN CONTROL: F (Charge, run, and attack easily get mixed up, and you must move quickly before you get eaten by zombie mobs!)


                                           HERE'S WHAT IT NORMALLY LOOKS LIKE.
                                                      (EXCEPT I DIDN'T PLAY A GIRL.)

                                            VARIOUS SHOPS LET YOU IMPROVE STATS!

Friday, June 21, 2013


When I was in 2nd grade, I used to write "books" on an electronic typewriter of usually 1-5 pages, each one or two lines, and bound with stapled construction paper. I loved to write these. One such story was Ted's Secret. Written in February of 1994, it was the first story I ever wrote that was an attempt at an epic adventure story.

Looking back on it, I was amazed because it incorporated epic themes, and played off of Nintendo games, computer games, and cartoons...where I would've gotten stories at the time. It even had a coherent moral: That you can ask for people to help, but never trust blindly. It's only drawback was the 2nd grade grammar I used at the time.

Previous morals for these "books" included: "And that's why you never ask what pancakes are being made!" (On second thought, that could've been me being silly!) and "That's why there is a rainbow at the end of the rainbow." (That was definitely a mistake.) But, this one ended with "And Ted went home happily." (But, I forgot to mention about half the story until now.) Ending aside, it was my first coherent epic!

On the 19th anniversary of this little "book" which encapsulates my early love of adventure stories, cartoons, and videogames...particularly Legend of Zelda! I decided to edit it, expand it, and change the grammar to make it more accessible to others. But, I still wanted young children to be able to read it, and maybe better understand the moral. So, I kept it simple. If alien anthropologists discover my body thousands of years from now, I'd want them to discover Ted's Secret on me. It is one of the best I've ever written.

Without further ado, Through Alien Eyes presents: Ted's Secret!

Ted’s Secret:

  One day, a man, Ted went hunting. “Eh?” He asked as he opened his secret chest. My secret isn’t where I put it! Maybe someone knows where it is.” He couldn’t hunt without it, so he went to the church to see if the nun could help.

"No, I'm sorry, but I cannot help you." said the nun. "But, my brother, the hermit collects such things. Perhaps he can help you. He lives in the Hills of High Fire." The nun bowed, leaving Ted.

So, Ted climbed to the Hills of High Fire, where flame surrounded the hermit. "Beg your pardon, sir. Are you the nun's brother?" asked Ted.
"Why yes! I am." said the squinty eyed old man, peaking through the fiery walls. "And what would you be seeking?"

"I'm looking for my secret." Ted explained. "The nun said you might collect such things."
"Why, yes, I might have that in my collection." The snaggle-toothed crone stepped out from the fire, and said. "Can you tell me what it looks like?"

Ted thought for a while, and whispered to the old man. “It is a treasure of unimaginable wealth. It took me sixty-one weeks to find it.”

“Ah!” said the hermit, digging around in his hovel. “A treasure, big with lamps and rubies on it!” cackled the nun’s brother.
    Ted shot the old man a look. “Do you have it, old hermit?” Ted wondered how the nun’s brother could be so crazy.

“No, I don’t have anything like that!” shouted the hermit. “But, maybe the willows have such things as you seek, adventurer. Beware, the willows can be nasty, and will throw apples at you.”

“Then, give me what I need to go see the willows!” Ted protested.

The ancient hermit coughed and wheezed in insane laughter. “Here is a shield to block the apples. And a gas mask. The Willow Woods are smelly.” He smiled toothlessly, and handed Ted the things. “Now, leave me be! I have to call the firefighters!” Hermits collect such strange things! Ted thought, and put on the gas mask, bidding his friend good-bye.

Away Ted went to the Willow Woods. The tall dark trees made him look small. They hunched down to speak with hideous, crooked faces.

“Who are you, little man?” They demanded.

“I’m Ted, the hunter.” said Ted. “And I seek my secret that I lost this morning!” Yelled Ted back at the willows.

“Go away, we don’t have it!” Said the willows altogether, and threw apples with their hand-like branches.
   “Amazing!” Thought Ted, blocking the apples. “A forest that attacks travelers! What are you, knaves?”
     Suddenly, those trees sobbed and said, “You may pass! We are only slaves to the warlock in the Grey Tower.”

“Amazing!” said Ted. “Does the warlock know where my secret is?”

“A warlock knows many things.” said the eldest willow. “And if he did have a secret, he would keep it to
himself. Yes! He could have it, and if you face him, we could finally be a peaceful forest! Go, Ted!” The
trees cracked woody smiles, and made a road.

And Ted went down the road happily. Then, he went to the warlock’s tower, and knocked on the big door.
“Who are you?” asked the warlock.
“I’m Ted, and I came from the forest looking for my secret!” Exclaimed Ted to the warlock.
“Come in.” said the warlock. “I have many secrets.”
“Have you seen mine?” asked Ted.
“You defeated the willows. You must be a warlock too. Is it magic?” said the warlock
 “No,” said Ted. “It’s a treasure of unimaginable wealth. It took me sixty-one weeks to find it.”
 “Ah!” said the warlock. “Yes! I have magical treasures. What will you give me for it?”
  Ted showed him the shield and gas mask.

 “Wow!” shouted the warlock. “I have never seen things like that. Now, I will show you my mirror.” Then, Ted went to the mirror room, and saw himself in it.
  He looked weird and strange. The mirror was shiny, but didn’t look like a treasure.
“Aha! A trick, old man!” Yelled Ted.
“It’s no trick, the mirror shows the truth.” said the warlock. “It knows where the secret is!”
“Where?” asked Ted, “But it only shows me, and I emptied my pockets!”
“Ah, look inside!” said the warlock. So, Ted jumped inside the mirror. The sky was green and the grass outside was blue and sunny. Of course, Ted thought. In the mirror world, it’s the opposite! He will find the secret instead of losing it! So, Ted went back to hunting, and remembered the secret.
 On a white cliff, near a green lake, Ted  found a chest. Ted opened the lock, but right there was a girl who snatched it away.

“There it is!” she said. “I found it!”
“Hey!” said Ted. “That’s my secret! Who are you?”
“I’m Theodora, the huntress.” She said. She looked just like him.
“Of course!” said Ted, “If I’m here, and I remember, then you forgot it.”
“It’s mine now!” said the girl.
“Yes, but you’re just a mirror illusion.” said Ted. “I’m going to leave now, and believe that I still have it.” And Ted walked out of the mirror with the secret chest, that he didn’t have before he entered.

“Amazing!” said Ted to the warlock. “I’ll go home now.”
“No! I’m a warlock! I keep all the world’s secrets!” said the warlock.
“Why, yes, you do.” said Ted. “But, only if you teach me your magic.”
“How dare you!” Yelled the warlock who raised his wand. But, Ted blocked it with the secret chest. The warlock sobbed. He was turned into a frog. “Okay, I’ll teach you my magic. Just turn me back.”  And the wizard taught him all his magic, and Ted flew back to his house and put down the big chest. “What an adventure!” said Ted.
A little while later, Ted passed by a wandering merchant.
“Would you like to sell your secret?” asked the merchant.
  “No.” said Ted, and smiled. “This secret is mine, and it has gotten me all the magic and collections of the land.”

“What is it worth to you?” asked the salesman.
“Everything.” said Ted. “It took me sixty-one weeks to find, and the nun couldn’t help me get it back. I freed the willows, and learned magic to get it back.”
“What about some gold?” The man asked.
Ted nodded finally. “I can use gold. You can have the chest, but not the secret.” Ted took the gold, and the merchant laughed.
“Deal!” But, he looked inside for the secret and saw nothing.
And Ted went home happily, with his secret inside his head.

Monday, June 17, 2013


                                                 MAN OF STEEL REVIEW:                        

Jor-El: “What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?”

How do you update a patriotic-bantering Superman from the 80s? (Let’s face it: I’m a 90s kid, but Superman’s been trying to escape the Reeve image for a while!) You completely underplay it!  Instead of making the Good Guy the Boy Scout…make his enemies irrevocably evil. That seemed to be the formula for Man of Steel, and I think it’s one that works well. Zod is a dictator bent on exterminating inferior beings such as Earthlings, which recalls America’s villain when Superman was first made: Hitler. But, the scenes were all as much a product of their time and place as Superman is here. Krypton looks like Starcraft brought to life. The source comics are well-followed to a point, without me revealing spoilers.
Yes, Superman is conflicted, but he’s the kind of good guy that’s understated, as I said. Maybe that was a little cheap narrative out, but I liked it. Suffice it to say, the action destroys entire city blocks, but is a bit fast-paced to keep up with, much in the style of The Dark Knight times 10 with flying through buildings and shooting heat rays. I found a little bit of the commercialism hokey, but those are modern movies. I secretly hoped the Sears they kept having me look at would be destroyed.

    I especially liked the snippets of Clark’s childhood, which were taken seemingly from 2010’s Secret Origins graphic novel. Which makes sense, since David S. Goyer wrote it. In some ways, having Superman talk less, meant that when he spoke, it meant something. And I was really impressed with Superman’s ethics. Contrary to what some critics say, I never felt that he was responsible for all of the destruction Zod caused. Rather, Zod doesn’t think the humans and Kryptonians can live together, and so Superman is the only one who can stop him. I think throughout the film he saves as many lives as he can; in fantastic ways!

     I was a little bothered by the comment by a villainess that Zod was acting on behalf of evolution, and by Martha Kent’s comments about Clark’s Earth father in the end. It could be insinuated that Superman isn’t a man of science, when in fact he is a super genius. But, the movie seems to take “less is more” to a new level in terms of Superman’s dialogue. As I said though I was impressed with the fights and his ethics. His first fighting words to Zod are: “Stay away from my mother!” When the chips are down, he defends himself, which is all we really need from a Good Guy like Superman.

   People throughout the film are always trying to get him to choose between Earth ways and Krypton. So, I didn’t think that the “angst” was all that misplaced. It was a symptom  of a bicultural background and his body adapting to an alien planet. Remembering what that shaman said to me about being from another planet, I couldn’t help but think, “That son of a gun made me Superman!” the adaptation was well-depicted. As I said, the “angst” is there, but it doesn’t overshadow his heroism in the alien invasion…and I got the sense that he tried to save lives. Rather than speaking about what both parents taught him, he acts on the idea that he can represent the best of both worlds.

     The action is super. Zod is a perfect counterpart to Superman…even though its decidedly a different one from the 80s. He will never stop to protect Krypton, so he must kill Earth. He is what new Khan should have been. BUT, on the same side, he never stops talking either, which makes it so that Superman is his PERFECT opposite…but gets a little tiresome. Superman is purely good because Zod is purely evil gets repeated in some way over and over!

 My favorite part was when Superman first tackles Zod and it turns into a big fight, with clear good and evil sides. I was admittedly a little disappointed that they kept pressing the hope message (on the Superman symbol; hope in a movie is just fine.) but I can accept that this is a new interpretation. I was a little disappointed in the new Superman theme, which seemed to contain nothing but a sleepily rising trumpet sound. I kept waiting for the theme to rise with the signature three notes, but it does so very flatly. It leaps, but doesn’t fly.

    All in all, the film has a solid sci-fi background, plenty of good action, and a fair story if a bit nebulous at times due to Superman’s sparse dialogue. It seems the filmmakers wanted us to see all the Good things in him by comparing him to pure evil. Which to be fair, has worked before. I just didn’t get the sense that Superman was proactively good. His ethics are a superbly demonstrated ying-yang. Less is more again!

    I’d definitely recommend this movie to everyone. It’s not perfect, but it’s a new interpretation. Scenes and dialogue (including some Grant Morrison-inspired lines!) are readily visible! This is a good Superman for a new era! Action-packed and sci-fi heavy. I loved the action! But, was I inspired? Well…I was inspired…in leaps, not bounds! A good re-boot, but I could’ve used a little more heroic banter; I’m just more Marvel that way!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Star Trek: The Animated Series Reaction

Star Trek: The Animated Series Reaction:

“How come we always end up like this?”
                 - Kirk to Spock after being captured by the natives in “Bem”.           

The animated series of Star Trek ran from ‘73-‘74, and had a great Scooby-Doo-like animation style. The animation in this case is meant to explore possibilities that wouldn’t have been possible in the old show. As such, we revisit some characters and locales like Harry Mudd, The Recreation Planet, and Vulcan, which now has towering spires in the desert, and doesn’t just look like California.
Also, I enjoyed some of the alien creatures, though many exist to re-hash old themes in the older show. The point of The Ambergris Element is re-hashed from The Cloud Minders. The point of The Survivor is pretty much the same as The Man Trap. But, the true reason you’ll want to watch this series (Apart from seeing the conclusion to the original 5-year-mission.) is the animation itself, which allows the crew to visit strange new worlds.

    There's plenty of far space episodes, an episode on Vulcan, (“Yesteryear”) a "we're all tiny" episode (“The Terratin Incident”) and an underwater episode. The first episode “Beyond The Farthest Star” is particularly effective in showing a vast alien civilization in outer space with the animation. It was written by sci-fi author Samuel Peeples. Other returning writers include D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, and even in a first, Walter Koenig (Chekov; who wrote a great episode “The Infinite Vulcan”.) The series itself even adds to canon. It’s here in the fantastic episode “Bem” (The crew deals with an alien who can disassemble his body!) that we first learn Captain Kirk’s middle name is Tiberius.

    Despite the fact that the animation is used to good effect and adds incredibly to the “alien” environments of the series, the medium itself has a few pitfalls. For example, it has re-used shots, all the voice actors sound tired, (But, it is the original actors! Legend has it Shatner spoke his lines into a tape recorder while on vacation.) Scotty provides his best impressions for all the other aliens they meet…he even created Lieutenant Arex, the alien navigation officer. But, it is all noticeably James Doohan.

   What I’m saying is, this series deserves another look. It was, in a sense, the first successful re-boot of the classic Star Trek. Which I might add, was able to re-visit episodes, keep the morality of the show, and add to canon! And the animation is something to look at! (It’s Rotoscope, I think. Anyway, it reminds me of Scooby-Doo.) Look, the notion that somehow the animated series isn’t canon is ridiculous. J.J. Abrahms, this is how you re-boot. It has the original actors, some original writers, preserves the morality tale format, and uses the “effects” to explore new alien possibilities, not re-tread old ground. Without the  animated series, we’d have no Star Trek movies, and without those first movies, no Next Generation!

    If you get a chance, you should watch Star Trek: The Animated Series. You can watch all 22 episodes for free on, or do what I did and watch it on Netflix. After Into Darkness left a bitter taste in my mouth, it was good to see a re-boot that could be faithful to the original series. And it manages to be funny, and adventurous and add to canon! Give it a watch, and visit some alien worlds that finally don’t look like California!  

                                      ("Yesteryear"; Spock neck-pinches a Lamancha on Vulcan.)

(The series adds Arex and M'ress, alien officers.)

                 ("Beyond The Farthest  Star"; The "force-field belt" never caught on in later Trek series.)

Monday, June 10, 2013


As I said before, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen when it comes to disability portrayals is 1993’s The Secret Garden. Colin, the disabled character is typecast as a sour young man, who is even rumored to be a hunchback. He is described as crippled, (Yes, I know it’s Victorian times, but this set up the pathetic portrayal.) and his father doesn’t want anything to do with him or children. That being said, his father Lord Craven takes her cousin named Mary after she loses her family in India. She takes him to the Secret Garden in this castle.

    Everything about this character’s image rubbed me the wrong way. His own caretakers lock him away and Maggie Smith’s character scolds Mary for even being with him. When he becomes hysterical, they tie him down to the bed. Re-watching this movie even for the purposes of analysis was extremely hard, though I did. It is a clear case of “curing” a disabled character for “love” by magic. After Colin starts having fun in the garden, he discovers that in fact he can walk. Then, they contact his father via “magic spell”. Yes, I know. It’s meant to symbolize the beauty of “natural” life vs. the isolation of modern times. Why prove it supernaturally? Why can’t Colin just be disabled? And it’s just so darn sappy in its message. For example, after Colin walks, his father decides he loves him, AND the kicker, MARY LOVES HIM TOO. The message is clear: if you are disabled, no one will love you.

   If you’re cured though, and have the right attitude and the right body…then you can be loved! Surely, Colin’s disability was all in his mind, and had nothing to do with his intense mistreatment by those around him. No, all he needed was a little girl to show him how to have fun. It’s not like he’d never tried walking before. I apologize for my tone, but it is really difficult to watch if you have a disability. The clear implication is that a disabled life is not worth living or somehow the cause of Colin’s hysteria. Besides the fact, (and I know it’s an old book, but that doesn’t excuse it!) that the movie maintains the “You can do it…” attitude towards physiology, it also has one of those scenes where Colin hobbles over and hugs his able-bodied buddies. Such scenes were dated by 1993, one would hope, but there is a strong presumption of able-bodiedness, as Dickon and Mary watch Colin hobble; wide-eyed and smiling like goons.

    Suffice it to say, I hated this movie and its able-bodied presumptions even as a kid.Worst disability portrayal ever. But, come to find out, the movie even engages in casual racism against Indian natives, and passes off British imperial aristocracy as just part of the charm of the movie. Of course the Yorkshire girl is happy to be a maid! Of course, Mary launches into a tirade when she dare presume she’d be an Indian native. I know it’s done for sentimental purposes, ostensibly…but re-watching was a real eye-opener into how offensive this film really was (and is.) to me.

    Magic is something I have nothing against. But, only when it inspires me! This film is selling magic that isn’t really there. In fact, it’s quite nasty. And yet, it hopes to cover up its inhumanity with a pretty garden. I said I’d watch this movie because of the deep impact it had on me as a child. Now, as an adult it still has…perhaps even deeper impact. This was 1993...and attitudes like this exist. And they persist! Having seen such attitudes up close, still makes me think of Colin. But, you know? In a sense, this film is refreshing. It shows me exactly what kind of negativity I’ve been up against: The presumption that the aristocracy knows best, and a disabled life is not worth living. I’m proud to work with organizations like VSA to prove that wholly wrong. Thanks VSA Ohio! Keep up the fight for disability rights!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Game of Thrones Update and Thoughts


Game of Thrones Updates and Thoughts:

Game of Thrones: I’m finally caught up. Yes, everyone’s talking about the Red Wedding thing. Personally, I wasn’t really attached to any of the Starks that…well, were in the Red Wedding, so I’m not losing sleep over it. Rob Stark chose to be a tactician and marry a Frey instead of building up his own House. And I feel that, at this point, the people…in the Red Wedding…were just getting in the way of the story of what I think will be a showdown between House Targaryen and House Baratheon. I was shocked more at the very ending of the last episode, but I’m not losing sleep over it. Rob Stark was just too politically weak to be valuable.

    On the other end, it looks like Bran is pretty well held up by a siege of people beyond the wall in Castle Black. Seems Hodor might have given them away with all his “Hodoring” (Hodor! Hodor!) I have high hopes that the Stark children at least might survive. The ones that do survive seem to be the ones who surround themselves with protectors, which Rob Stark never did. Bran has protectors. John Snow HAD protectors. Though many might as well have turned on him. A lot of people say this is a kind of amoral show, where if you try to do good, you lose. Although I thought that at first, I’m beginning to disagree.

    For example, look at Danaerys. She has an empire basically of freed slaves, and treats them all as equals. Wherever she encounters cruelty, she conquers and sets the rules so that people are given rights and respect. The Dothraki were complete barbarians at first, but by assimilating to the culture, understanding Dothraki, and ultimately making them play by her rules while respecting the host culture, she changed it. That’s an important lesson in intercultural communication: Assimilating to another culture does not mean you have to give up your native values. It does however, mean you need to understand how the rules of the culture work. The Khaleesi has consistently employed intercultural communication to her benefit.

    Another example I’d like to point to is Tyrion Lannister. Though he plays at being an amoral hedonist, he has actually revealed himself to be quite noble at times. Even empathetic. He refused to bed Sansa. He opened up to Shae about his personal conflicts and struggle for dignity as a dwarf. He defended King’s Landing! Maybe he’s not so amoral. I was particularly uplifted by his decision not to bed Sansa. This was done for multiple reasons, probably. Number one is that he knows he’s being wed to Sansa for his own humiliation, as she’s 14 and he’s a dwarf. He’s not going to let them have the last laugh. Finally, he loves Shae, so…maybe also he’s not the polyamourous type as we were led to believe either.

    Finally, Milsandre has the blood of kings and people think she’s a powerful priestess. Never mind how she gets the blood, which was painful to watch. She sort of uses her position as priestess as a form of religious cultural domination. As such, when people see her victories, she attributes it to her god and her blood, so people fear her. I guess I can’t really say what’s coming for her yet…but she seems to me to be quite the opposite style as the Khaleesi, who assimilates to her conquered cultures…I predict a showdown between the two women. At least Bran and Arya still have protection.

I have no idea what’s going on with the Blackwatch at this point. Samwell’s last scenes felt a bit unnecessary. But, that’s Game of Thrones! Political intrigue, backstabbing, and sometimes magical creatures pop out! Should be exciting to see how long these characters can last. Is it all just secretly a straightforward morality tale? Somehow I doubt that. In Game of Thrones, those who have power make the morals! Stay tuned! And yeah, I know this is going to be out of date as soon as I post it, but I had to put down my observations!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Vulcan Phrases and Sources

Long ago, I tried to put together a Vulcan phrasebook, because I like Spock, and I had (at the time.) little desire to learn Klingon. Though when I do imagine Klingon spoken, I imagine Commander Kruge instead of Worf. Weird, right? Kruge is something of a poet, I guess. He nailed the Klingon! And he's Christopher Lloyd! Anyway, without further ado, here's my little phrasebook, complete with cited sources.

Ben val navun - Grant us success. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Dif-tor heh smusma - live long and prosper. (formal greeting/farewell. Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Sochya eh dif - Peace and long life.(greeting or reply to the "live long and prosper" greeting/farewell.) (Vulcan Language Guide)

Romhalan - Farewell. (informal) (

Tsi-veh - one particular person - that one. (Vulcan Language Guide)

Tonk’peh - hello, hi, greetings. (Vulcan Language Guide)

Kol-Ut-Shan (VOY) - Concept of  Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.
  “IDIC” in Federation English; first introduced as “iddick” in TOS; Vulcan religion.)

Kash-nohv -Mind-meld/mindmeld (Vulcan Language Guide)

Lasek! - Thanks! (informal)

Nemaiyo - “Thank you!” - a term of appreciation. (source: Vulcan Language Guide, Starfleet Training Manual, copyright 1977; Vulcan Dictionary, 1992 by Bill Richmond)

Ni'droi'ik nar-tor -“I am sorry.” literally translated means "asking forgiveness.” (

Ong -“and” e.g. Spockong Kirkong (Spock and Kirk); Spock kreylaong plomikong spacura. (Spock eats Vulcan biscuits and plomik soup.)

Ora - “Honourable what?” Phrase meaning “what is this regarding?” []

Translated Sayings (VLD& VLG)

  “Ozhika -- palik t'kau, ri shaht.”  “Logic (is the) beginning of wisdom, not (the) end.” (Spock in Star Trek VI: “The Undiscovered Country“)

 “Isha nash-veh Vuhlkansu - pontal na'sochya. English: “I too, am a Vulcan. Bred for peace.” (Spock in "The Savage Curtain" Star Trek: TOS Season 3 Episode 15)

 “Gishen worla ihk-banut.” English: “He's never what I expect.”  “Wakli ak'wikman - ot-lan?”English: “What surprises you, lieutenant?” “Ish-veh ni -- komihn.” English: “He’s so…human.” “Kling akhlami buhfik - Saavik-kam.” English: “Nobody’s perfect, Saavik.”

(Spock and Saavik regarding Captain Kirk, Star Trek II: “The Wrath of Khan”)

 If anyone can spare some time for a Klingon lesson, qapla! I'm up for it! Also, let me know if you find other sources of Vulcan language/culture. Star Trek Into Darkness does NOT count, so anything from there or future J.J. Abrahms properties I'll not be accepting! Star Trek 2009 I thought was okay. Next, I'll let you know some of my favorites from Star Trek: The Animated Series, and highlight some disability issues. I should probably review more disability movies too, but it's been a rough week! Dif-tor heh smusma, until then!

Monday, June 3, 2013



Well, it’s been an exciting weekend! I had a friend over for olives and beer while trying to explain intercultural discourse, followed a Doctor Who blog, (Blogtor Who); I got a surprise visit from my mom and went to Whole Foods for Indian. Curry tofu. Later, we had curry chicken, but my mom is vegetarian, and so she had more tofu. On the first trip out for lunch, she explained to me that she’d met a “spirit reader”; a shaman. Being a sci-fi nut and a storyteller, I usually take such readings with a grain of salt. This one especially. So, she told me that he said I was an intergalactic warrior from the Pleiades in a past life, and she had been Alantean.

    For me, I guess it was just cool to be pictured as an intergalactic warrior. I don’t believe it for a second except as cool sci-fi. Maybe I’ll write a story about it. What was interesting is that the shaman said that in my “present form” I felt pulled down by the density of my physical body. This is before he had learned that I have cerebral palsy. So, as we ate, I couldn’t stop thinking: If I know the environment of the Pleiades constellation, then maybe I can extrapolate some idea of the weapons and culture that existed there.
 One of the things I had read later on an astronomy website said that its surrounded by a nebula, pulsars, and flare stars. So, I got this idea of people battling in zero gravity with radiation guns, energy shield rings, flamethrowers, light saber-type weapons darken  the bright nebulous battlefield like camouflage  Though I’m sure this is all laughable to a real astronomer: If life existed on such a constellation, wouldn’t it be informed by its nebulous and poisonous environment? Can any real astronomers help me out?

   Also, I got to watch all of Joss Whedon’s 2009 Astonishing X-Men. I especially like Joss Whedon’s depiction of Professor X…although his wheelchair looks like concrete. Looking back on it, I suppose there’s an element of alienation in every Professor X portrayal, because, so far as I know…he has never been designed by a person with a disability. If anyone can prove me wrong, I’d love to be proved wrong. Professor X has always been my hero, but it never really struck me how odd his wheelchairs are until I saw him in Astonishing X-Men.

   The earliest depictions of Professor X as paralyzed were in the 60s. He has a practical manual chair, with a blanket over the legs. In the 90s X-men he has a hover chair, but I wonder if this is reflective of the density of being pulled down by his body. It seems to symbolize the hope of inclusion, but is so impractical. I think in the 80s, he retained the manual chair, but in 1989 it became a power chair in Pryde of The X-Men. Thus, in X-Men Arcade it was also a power chair, but ways were contrived by which Xavier could also walk (in the comics, and 90s cartoon.) The power chair model returned in Bryan Singer’s X-Men trilogy, and the walking power suits stopped; however, Xavier dies. Days of Future’s Past may right this wrong! In X-Men: Evolution Xavier becomes a slave of Apocalypse.

    It seems being both the world’s most powerful telepath and disabled means the writers really don’t know what to do with Professor X physically except destroy him or make him evil. Let’s not forget Warren Ellis’s Onslaught Epic! (Hover chair Xavier; 1996.) But, the Onslaught Epic does raise a good point…that people never say what they mean…Ellis’s Xavier can’t take this anymore, and years of repressed psychic darkness turn him into Onslaught. As a person with a disability, I can say I’ve been upset by the doubletalk I sometimes experience, such as when someone able-bodied says they think of me as “Just the same” as them; but obviously I’m different. Being telepathic and disabled would amplify (and perhaps verify.) this doubt. So, in that sense Xavier has been very strong for 30 years holding back. He is repeatedly referred to as the most powerful telepath on Earth, so Onslaught must be a negative manifestation of all his mental power.

    Indeed, I might not be an ancient alien warrior, but my first experience as an alien was the awareness of the difference between my mental and physical abilities. I’m at home in more a weightless, maybe formless environment. One ruled by imagination. But, at the same time, that means there’s a certain euphoria in every physical victory. Every hang out, every time I give a correct speech, turn of phrase, when my speech inspires ACTION, when I even go to the library across the street; there’s a feeling of victory, going beyond my form.

    Speaking of form, now that The Doctor is set to regenerate this Christmas, I wonder what form he’ll take next. In the sense that he’s a formless super genius unbound by time, The Doctor has always been my friend in disability experience. But, as you have seen, I have a tendency to read disability as an alien experience. Even in disability-based communities. Because no one experience is the same. For every Iron Man, or alien, cyberpunk, or sci-fi experience…there seems to me to be a disabled experience as well. I am able in this way to make the familiar seem strange. I’m comfortable looking into alien spaces.