Stacey’s Pop Culture Parlour | Episode 57: Doctor Strange: Mega Good Surgeon Guy
I have watched the Star Wars films, am watching them with my son, will no doubt watch them again, but I am one of those people who accepts that they are entertaining, but not particularly well made. I enjoyed many of the episodes of Star Trek and their respective films, but I accept that there’s a lot more about it that’s bad than is good. Babylon-5 is also deeply flawed and Stargate SG-1 is very so so.
Now that all those fandoms are after my head, the reason I say that is that Science Fiction on television is more often than not thought of as those franchises and little else. Between them this counts as over 17 films, half a dozen animated series, a couple of one off specials (read: failed pilots) and at least 10 ongoing TV series and counting. There’s an arguement to say that these four franchises (am including B5 to be generous really) have dominated the market, much to TV’s detriment.
So on the TV side, have not watched a full episode of any of them in months, yet have been watching at least 5 different sci fi series. So I wanted to take a quick look at them, because in the franchise dominated entertainment industry, smaller shows, less budget and less big names can be missed and these gems can be forgotten.
I missed the Vertigo boat during the first flush of my comic collecting back in the 90’s. As I looked for different things later on, the vertigo fans put me off the comics. Years passed and I read Preacher and the Neil Gaiman Sandman and others and in the Sandman run was a story where the devil just said “F**k this!” and quit his job and moved to LA to open a piano bar. This series is based on that idea. Tom Ellis plays Lucifer Morningstar, the fallen angel often known as the devil, Satan or others. He’s lived in LA for 5 years with his bar manager an ex-demon called Mazikeen. He gets caught up in a murder investigation headed up by former actress and detached detective Chloe Decker, given the job by her ex husband Dan Espinoza (father to her daughter Trixie) and he’s fascinated by Chloe. Chloe is played by Lauren German who matches Ellis well with some amusing chemistry. Add in a conflicted angel called Amenadiel and a quirky psychotherapist called Linda and this is a hilarious little series found on Amazon Prime. The whole show hangs on the hilarious performance of Tom Ellis as an unrepentant and charming devil who is smart enough to understand tact, but sees no point in it. It’s funny, exciting and while it uses a religious back story, I don’t see any mocking of anyone’s genuine faith. In a very sensitive time, that’s a positive.
One of a handful of SyFy shows on this list, Hunters uses allegory quite heavily to tell a story about those who battle fanatics, becoming as bad as fanatics.
Really it’s the story of Flynn Carroll, an FBI agent and veteran of war, who still bears the scars of his experiences. His wife disappears, upending his life and the life of the daughter or his dead partner, who he has adopted. His wife was being investigated by the Extraterrestrial Terrorism Unit, a very black ops anti-terrorism unit run by the US government, who recruit Flynn to find a terrorist group made of aliens, hiding in human form. The characterisation is at times slim and there feels like there’s no one to really root for, but it’s tense, well paced and the themes of xenophobia and stressing security over freedom is disturbingly relevant in a post Sept 11 world. The effects are good, but very reminiscent of Aliens, or Predator and the archetypes are easy to see. But this series is interesting and well worth looking at, a nice reminder than when you think you’re the good guy, you’re willing to do almost anything to get what you want. Thing is, no one thinks they are the bad guy, do they?
3: The Expanse
Am only halfway through this, but it’s fascinating. It’s 300 years in the future, Mars is colonised and is a super-power in it’s own right and it’s dealings with Earth are tense at a cold war level. In the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars is more people, very much seen as an underclass by the two worlds. These ‘Belters’ do a lot of the work that keeps these two worlds going, but benefit little from their endeavours. Yes, this series is about class as much as space. On a space station inside this belt, a cop in a very corrupt system is investigating a missing person and it’s heading into strange and dangerous place. Outside of the belt, an ice mining ship investigates a distress call and get caught up in a plot to kick off the war between Mars and Earth that some on both sides want, but both sides know will cause untold loss of life. Like many dramas with a large cast, we get pieces of each plot thread and spoon fed info to keep us interested. I’m back on watching it this weekend.
4: Dark Matter
Another SyFy series, this is an ensemble show set in some undetermined future. Man has colonised much of the galaxy and industry and crime is everywhere. 6 people wake up on a ship, no memories, no idea who they or each-other are on a ship they can barely fly, with an artificial intelligence android that’s also amnesiac and a little ‘perculiar’. They learn that they are criminals, mercenaries and runaways and try to make their way in space, taking what jobs they can, trying to work out who took their memories and what they should do.
There’s more than a little taste of Firefly here, the less than legal mixed with a bit of decency and nobility. These strangers to each other and themselves working together makes this series very much it’s own thing. It’s mostly bottle episodes, adding to the feeling of claustrophobic tension and the writing is decent enough for each character to have his/her own voice. After a cracking first season cliffhanger, the series was renewed and I’m looking forward to watching season 2.
When the most famous person in a TV show is the guy who played the second worst Jimmy Olsen on TV, it’s not really inviting. But to be honest, this is my favourite of this 5. It’s not the best, technically or otherwise, but it is one thing that a lot of Sci-Fi TV is missing. It’s fun. Balls out ridiculous fun. Aaron Ashmore plays Johnny Jaqobis, who works for the RAC, which is halfway between marshals and bounty hunters in a planetary system known as the Quad. He works with/lives with his estranged brother D’avin, a former soldier, suffering PTSD and Dutch, a fighter with an enigmatic past and a temper. They live on a spaceship called Lucy (which does seem to be in love with Johnny) and take warrants for all sorts of criminals and materials. From the plush elite run world of Qureshi, the garden-like Leith, the abandoned moon of Arkyn and the working class mining colony of Westerley, the team go all over, taking all sorts of jobs and having a lot of wacky adventures.
The action is heavy, the drama well put together and the comedy is sarcastic and at times light hearted. This is fun, it’s the spiritual successor to shows like Farscape with it’s cheeky tone and less than clean cut cast. The first season struggled with it’s tone, but near the end became much more consistent and that consistency has been all over season 2. I would highly recommend this season for fans of action in all it’s forms. This is a fun show and I hope we get more of it.
Ta ta for now internet people.
I just wanted to have something down, so here are a few random thoughts.
1: We have seen the most divisive votes on both sides of the atlantic in many a year, yet still the hate, vitriol and rhetoric clog up the internet like it matters at all. Can’t fix the past, can’t undo the election in the US, Trump won for many reasons, so the thing to do now is to try and minimise the damage he does through political means and hope that good comes out of this. It might, not likely, put also not impossible. In the UK, we’re out of Europe, we just have to makes the best of it and that means knowing whats going on, stay informed and figure out what to do next, not constantly harp on about a decision made by the nation as a whole 6 MONTHS AGO. Deal with now, because that’s what we’ve got.
2: In that vein of thought, maybe we should be treating each other a little better. There’s so much anger and upset in the world already, maybe we don’t need to go looking for reasons to get upset with people. Was on the internet last night, saw a post on now internment camps weren’t good things (a no-brainer I thought), but got caught up in an argument. We’re a better people than this, if not, we should be.
3: Christmas is coming, now before we get into the whole too early thing, consider this, after the parade of hate, misfortune, loss and disappointed of this year, isn’t it nice to have something positive to look forward to? No matter what culture, faith or community you belong with, that time of year has many positives. After this year, we need that coming together and celebrating, no matter what you call the celebration.
4: Found a new Tv series on Netflix called the Expanse. Well written and compelling.
That is it for now internet people, I promise I will try to have something to say next time.
Ta ta for now
A super hero’s publishing career can be long and quite repetitive, often in search of creative interest and sales, comic characters are often sidelined in their own books and a substitute is brought in. If that character has legs, they often go on to do other things. When I started really collecting comics, it was the 90’s and it happened a LOT. Iron Man, Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, the entire Fantastic Four, Captain America and others all were replaced/succeeded/filled in for. Since I am trying to be more frivolous on this blog, I wanted to have a quick look at this comics trope.
So here are 5 comic book heroes who were temporarily replaced. Now I haven’t included the sidekicks groomed for the role (such as Kid Flash, Robin, Speedy or Wonder Girl) since that was their original purpose. Nor am I counting impersonating hero replacements (hence no Reign of the Supermen characters or Iron Fist’s stint as Daredevil) I am only thinking of heroes who filled in for a hero and did sort of well enough for us to keep watching out for them later. The heroes in training, I may look at later.
1: James “Rhodey” Rhodes.
Filled in for: Tony “Iron Man” Stark.
First Appearance: Iron Man #118
Took the job: Iron Man #170
Why did he take the job? Tony Stark’s descent into alcholism.
What happened? Jim Rhodes was a commercial pilot for Star International, acting as airborne chauffeur for Stark before becoming good friends with him. An air force pilot originally, Rhodey was cool under fire and didn’t let Stark get away with much. After the machinations of Obidiah Stane took everything from Tony, he hid in a bottle and Rhodey took the role of Iron Man from him and filled in the best he could. He was even the Iron Man during Secret Wars (the 1985 one) and the early adventures of West Coast Avengers. While Stark continued his downward spiral, Iron Man went from strength to strength, until the stresses of using the armour, weighed on his body, causing headaches as well as increasingly irrational behaviour. A recovering Stark returned to wearing armour and stopped Rhodes, reclaiming the identity of Iron Man. Apart from the odd assist in the armour, Rhodey returned to an assisting role, up until injuries caused Stark to fake his death, until his health could be stabilised. Rhodes was Iron Man again, this time wearing the variable threat response battle armour. When Stark returned in new armour, Rhodes quit. He then took on name War Machine and for quite a while became a hero in his own right.
How did he do? He did alright, good hearted and capable, he was a decent Iron Man, till health issues changed that. As War Machine, he has done well enough to have his own title once or twice, serve on several Avengers teams as well as a good role in the Iron Man movies from 2008 onwards.
2: Connor Hawke
Filled in for: Oliver “Green Arrow” Queen
First appearance: Green Arrow #0
Took the Job: Green Arrow #101
Why did he take the job? The death of Green Arrow
What happened? In years past, Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow killed someone. In need of peace and serenity he found himself at an ashram, where he met teenager Connor Hawke. The two became friends and his friendship/mentorship of Connor helped Oliver come to terms with the wrongs he has done and he was able to return to crime fighting. What he didn’t know is that Connor was his son, via a one night stand in college. He met up with Oliver later and worked as a sort of sidekick, wearing a similar costume. Oliver found out who Connor was and left. He went undercover in a eco-terrorism group and was soon after killed. To honour his father, Connor became the new Green Arrow. He joined the Justice League and had several adventures. During the DC One Million event, he learned that Ollie would somehow return and decided to return to the ashram, feeling that since the real Green Arrow would return, he was no longer needed. During the excellent Quiver story, Ollie did in fact return, reconciling with his son and while they wouldn’t be sidekick and hero again, they’d team up from time to time and had a good father son relationship, at least till the Nu 52 started and then none of what I’ve written here mattered anymore.
How did he do? He was a good and fair replacement for Oliver Queen. A chaste and religious man, he possessed Ollie’s charm and attractiveness as well as his affinity for the bow but was very much an anti-Ollie in his personality. Being a similar age to Wally “the Flash” West and Kyle “Green Lantern” Rayner gave him an interesting place in that Justice League line up. A Victim of the mid noughties nostalgia kick, he faded into the background, somewhat undeservedly.
3: The Captains America (post 1960’s we’re going to ignore Patriot and Spirit of ’76)
3a: John Walker
First Apperance: Captain America #323
Took the job: Captain America #333
Why he took the job: Steve “Captain America” Rogers resigned
What happened? The US government decided it owned the rights to Captain America and said that he needed to be under their direct control. Steve Rogers decided to politely and honestly walk away from the job, leaving the goverment to assign the role to the Super Patriot. As time went on, he got more and more unhinged, especially after the death of his parents. Eventually he learned that much of this was the result of the Red Skull, but by this point, he had Steve Rogers so much that he gleefully battled with him. He didn’t win.
How did he do? Strong, capable and an excellent combatant, Walker seemed like a good fit for the job. More right wing than Captain America had ever been, he was more violent and less interested in the niceties, but did ok. Reactionary, but with his heart in the right place, he eventually took the costume that Steve Rogers used in non Captain America days as the Captain and became the US Agent. He’s had some mixed amounts of success since.
3b Bucky Barnes
First Apperance: Captain America Comics 1 (1941)
Took the Job: Captain America #34
Why did he take the job? The apparent death of Steve Rogers
What happened? After the post Civil War assassination of Captain America, Tony Stark honoured his final wish, which was for Tony to help James Buchanan Barnes and to preserve the identity of Captain America. Killing two birds with one stone, Tony helped Bucky to assume that identity.When Steve returned, he asked Bucky to carry on. During the Fear Itself event Bucky was badly injured and Steve retook the job. Bucky became the Winter Soldier again and everyone was happy with that.
How did he do? Bucky was thought lost in 1945 and had been used as an assassin by a mad Russian colonel with a re-programmed mind. Even freed, he was a darker and more aggressive Cap, to the extent of carrying a gun. He never felt he could live up to Steve and his example, but he also never did anything less than his best in trying. A flawed and relatable hero, he was different enough to be his own man. If not for the movies, his stint may have been longer.
3c: Sam Wilson
First Apperance: Captain America #117
Took the Job: Sam Wilson: Captain America #1
Why did he take the job? The retirement of Steve Rogers
What happened? During the Stand Off event, Steve Rogers was aged to where he would be without the decades on ice and had to hand over the shield and identity to someone else. Sam “The Falcon” Wilson was the best choice, given their years of working together and Sam’s loyalty and integrity. When Steve’s youth was restored, both men served as Cap, up to and including the recent Civil War II.
How did he do? From what I have seen he has been a decent Captain America. My main issue is that he is best as the Falcon. He is being used like a sidekick that graduated, the same sort of thing as Dick Grayson, when he took the role as Batman. But Falcon was Cap’s partner and a hero in his own right. Their relationship was more like Green Lanter & Green Arrow than Batman and Robin. So in a way he went from a great solo hero with a lack of exposure, to the ‘other’ Captain America. I could be wrong and this may be the status quo for ten years or more and people end up forgetting he was ever Falcon.
4: Kyle Rayner
Filled in for: Hal “Green Lantern” Jordan/Every current Green Lantern
First appeared: Green Lantern (vol 3) #48 (Last page)
Took the Job: Green Lantern (vol 3) #50 (Last page)
Why did he take the job? Hal turned into the villain Parallax and destroyed the Green Lantern Corps
What happened? After the destruction of Coast City, Hal journed to the Green Lantern homeworld of Oa and sought power to restore it. He cut his way through dozens of lanterns and after destroying the main battery and merging with Parallax, depowered thousands of others. The last ring was given to the last Guardian of the Universe, who gave it to the first human he could find, a shiftless layabout of an artist called Kyle Rayner, who was getting some air outside a nightclub. Most Green Lanterns get the …… of sector 2814, you have the capacity to overcome great fear, welcome to the Green Lantern Corps, Kyle got a “you will have to do.” He rose to the challenge of being the only Green Lantern. That’s why he’s made this list. Most other Lanterns have succeeded the previous ring bearers or were added as back up. After Parallax, Kyle was the only Lantern. He didn’t replace a GL, he replaces ALL of them. He served as Green Lantern for years, even as a member of the Teen Titans and then the JLA, until the corps could be restored, at which point, he was one of many.
How did he do? Pretty well. Rising to the challenge of the ring after the sudden death of his girlfriend Alex at the hands of crap Capt Atom villain Major Force, Kyle overcame his fear to reach heights that most ring bearers never did. He was relatable in his inexperience and his responses to working with the JLA were very everyman. He was the 90’s iteration of the Spider-Man archetype at DC and it worked very well. He’s still out in space doing stuff and I read the majority of his adventures as they came out. I appreciate Hal Jordan’s place in the Green Lantern mythos, but Kyle was ‘my’ Green Lantern.
5: Thunderstrike/Eric Masterson
Filled in for: The Mighty Thor
First Appeared: Mighty Thor #391
Took the Job: Mighty Thor #432
Why did he take the job? The disappearance of the original Thor
What happened? A supporting character from Thor, Eric was an architect and single dad. Injured several times in Thor’s cause, he was merged with Thor and acted as his secret identity, much as Donald Blake did years earlier. Eric would slam the cane on the ground and Thor would appear. Eric wouldn’t exist again, until Thor changed back. When Thor seemingly slew his adopted brother Loki, he was banished by Heimdall and Eric took on the powers and name of Thor for a short time. His heroic actions and selflessness earned him the respect of Odin and when Thor was returned, Odin told Eric that the world still needs heroes and had a mace called Thunderstrike created for him.
How did he do? He did fairly well, well enough at least to get his own spin off series. Thunderstrike became a member of the Avengers and was a very 90’s Thor, in the good way and bad. He was killed off in the Thunderstrike series and the name Thunderstrike was briefly used by his son Kevin.
There are many more, but those are the ones that came more easily to me.
Comments, complaints, dirty jokes and recipes are always welcome.
Ttfn Internet People.
Hey there internet people, Munky here. This is where I tell you all the struggles and issues that have come up this weekend, or gripe about the state of the world or some stuff like that.
You know what? Can’t be arsed. I turned 40 on Friday and really enjoyed myself. Had a wake up from my favourite people, my excessively excited son (who was happier about my birthday than his) and the Mighty Rosie. After taking my boy to school I took some birthday money (a weird thing to get after you’re 21) and went on a ridiculous spending spree. After failing to buy any comics or trades (I know, right?) I bought a load of Blu-Rays and some of those Funko Pop vinyl figures.
It was nice to just treat myself. Could I have bought myself something useful, practical, or lets be honest age appropriate? Yes. Did I? No. Because I was trying to be nice to me. After a wander around, I went home, watched some Kamen Rider and then went to dinner with my boy, the Mighty Rosie, Mad Hev (her sister) and Hev’s husband and two kids. It was one of the better birthday meals I have ever had. I had a lovely time and really celebrated my birthday. The next day, I had a day with the Mighty Rosie and we went to see Doctor Strange. It was …. ok. It wasn’t the best in the world, but even a an ok Marvel movie is better than a lot of other films. On the sunday, spent loads of time with my son, before back to work this morning. Why am I telling you this? Because it’s what I wanted to do.
Benefits of getting older? Not many from what I can see, but perspective is one. I now realise that the happiest way to be is the zero fucks way. I am an adult, but many (due to my hobbies and overall silliness) may not think of me as a grown up. But how do I feel about it? No fucks asked for, so no fucks given. One of the ego states of Transaction Analysis (Yup, therapy again) is the Parent. That’s the state that tells you off in your head and pushes other people’s ideas and ideals upon you. The more I think about this, the more I realise that my geeky interests are only embarassing, because I allow them to be. I post geeky stuff, write geeky stuff, I wear comic book tee-shirts (got a compliment about one on sat) and even have a comic character tattooed on my right arm. I am very at home with what I like. There’s a ton of comic related merch around the place now, but if there wasn’t so much, I’d still get some.
The point to all this is….. Be you.
Like what you like, do what you enjoy. The judgement of other people can never be as bad as the shit you put yourself through. It’s only their actions that matter. Someone can think you are stupid for liking something, collecting something, reading something etc etc. But here’s the thing, you’re right. Whatever your opinion of something is, if you enjoy it, you’re right. We are surrounded by fears, by worries, by obstacles and by the intolerance and prejudice of others. If there’s something that you enjoy that maybe makes up for it, or distracts you from it, then that’s your thing and you owe no one else. If you have people in your life, share it with them rather than use it to avoid them. If you think that fishing is the best thing, it is. If it’s football (or the American or Australian versions) then you are right. Shit, if it’s My Little Pony, that’s cool too. It’s all ok. This whole acting your age thing is what other people put on you. I am responsible when I need to be, other than that, why should I be any thing other than my silly self? I have never acted my age before, don’t see the point in starting now.
Who and what we love matters, but mostly only to us. It becomes someone elses business when it directly affects others in a harmful way. We shouldn’t feel guilty for liking something, no matter what.
There’s a list of things wrong with me, I could state them, chapter and verse, but who I love and what I like to do isn’t one of them.
There’s a voice on our heads that tell us that who we are and what we are about is wrong. It’s time we turned to that voice and said shut the fuck up!
Whenever I need to remember that, am going to tap the top of Cyclops’ head and watch him bob up and down.
Had this awaiting me at my desk this morning. You’d think I’d be happy, touched at the effort and good feeling that would lead to something like this.
You’d think so, but you’d be wrong. I felt uncomfortable, awkward and wanted nothing more than for the ground to open and swallow it up, or me. I got a bollicking on Tuesday, that was easier for me to deal with.
Now it’s not being 40, getting to the middle age bracket and realising maybe half my life is over is not really my favourite thing to think about. But that’s not it, it’s not that I’m feeling my age, or anything, am still alive. No, it’s because someone has made a fuss about me. I don’t expect it and any form of attention in a social setting makes me feel uncomfortable. How fucked up is that? I can accept getting told off for shit that is not my fault, but a card for a big birthday feels wrong? But that’s where I am.
I have been back in therapy and have learned some of the precepts of transactional therapy (or TA) and it’s view of ego states. Stuff we learn or pick up (the Parent state) the moment we are in (Adult state) and the stuff that makes us feel the way we did about things when we were a child (surprise, the Child state) and these ideas are helping me to identify when I see things in the wrong way. Today definitely had a child state moment as I felt very much like I did as a child, we never wanted a birthday party. It’s a positive step to be able to identify this sort of thing, but it doesn’t exactly make me feel very good about myself.
I’m 40 tomorrow, maybe it’s time to be ok with people who aren’t my wife and son (the MIGHTY Rosie and the irrepressible SGM) treating me well. They tell me I deserve better. I am trying to believe that.
To anyone struggling with their mental health, anxiety or otherwise. Keep going, you’re not going to win every day, but you can move forward. Today is a bit of a struggle, but it’s not going to beat me.
Ta ta for now internet people.
Before we go on, I will swear a lot here, it’s just that sort of day.
I wanted to put my last word on the recent political clusterfuck.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about the EU Referendum https://misfitmunky.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/the-people-have-spoken-they-seem-to-have-said-something-stupid-but-they-have-spoken/
I wrote about how full of divisive language, rhetoric and outright dishonesty the campaign was. It left me with a sense of apathetic cynicism regarding the government of this country. Thing is, no matter how cynical you are, hope creeps in. The US election is one of those things that matter on a global scale, for good reasons and bad. America has this first amongst equals place in the world and often surges forward, so that the world follows. They have helped end wars for the right reasons and also started wars for the wrong reasons (not that there are many good reasons, but heigh-ho) and when they talk, other nations listen. Their president is often referred to as the leader of the free world. Whilst that may rankle those who have lost that privilege of power, it’s not an unfair assessment and as a result, there is a lot of truth to that title and so the US Election matters to far more people than most expect.
When America chooses well, the world benefits, but when they don’t we all suffer. I mentioned after Brexit how bad the campaigns were, but what we saw over here regarding the US made Brexit look polite and agreeable.
So here’s my take on it.
From 2008 onwards, the wool came off everyone’s eyes and the trust in the financial classes was shown to be misguided. Thousands were made homeless, thousands more lost everything else. Millions where harmed in one way or another by a global financial crisis. There were wars, a shrinking middle class and a rich elite that seemed to delight in shitting on the little guy. The worst part of it, was that we as a culture, bailed them out and carried on as before. Our economies started tanking, hundreds of thousands lost their jobs, tensions rose around the world and as a result, people got ANGRY.
This was an anger based on years of being shafted, of being ignored and being manipulated by a political elite and a media run by the same type of arsehole as the banks. These angry people wanted someone to blame. Many of these angry people were white and not really used to the system shitting on them as much as the rest of the people where. People wanted somewhere to put their anger and the media started their usual it’s the foreigner’s fault parade.
We had all the anti-muslim stuff, then the immigrants thing and more and more we were told that those who look different were the enemy. Thing is, we (and I mean both the US and UK) believed them. We were told that hardworking people trying to live in a strange and hostile land and adding value to it were bad guys and the financial and political elite who had created a lot of the economic hardships they blamed on the foreigners, were the good guys.
Eventually we started the take that more and more seriously, blaming all kinds of people for things that were not their fault. People felt better for their anger, but to be honest, it didn’t help them at all. The Brexit campaign succeeded because while neither side has any idea what a post EU future would look like, the leave people knew to play on the Johnny Foreigner angle. People who wanted a different lot in life, a more simpler time and a world that they understood blamed the EU for all sorts of thing, especially filling the country with immigrants. Once the immigrant issue became linked the the EU, then that was all she wrote. I was shocked at the time, but I get it. Bit by bit, we lost the last shreds of faith in our political system and it’s members.
The US has had the same problem. They have a shrinking middle class, a lack of jobs, a world that grows more complex and politically correct (that’s another post right there) and they are scared. Then they’re bombarded with images, ideas, cultures and lifestyles that are just as valid as theirs, but are strange and not what they new. Back scared people into the corner and they get angry and so the list of angry and otherwise disgruntled people grows. Add that to a crumbling education system, a biased news service and a horrifically partisan political culture and that angry group grows bigger and more vocal. Trump got the nomination because he wasn’t a politician, we was unpolished, more open (at least he appears so) and more entertaining. He was a different type of beast, still a beast, but not part of the same shower of arseholes that were the problem. When he agreed with the anti immigration parade, well that won him more support. Again, fear and anger. Hillary Clinton’s part in this, is that she is a politician and a woman. Two things that Trump is not. What the left wing needed was an anti-Trump, but due to some admittedly legitimate concerns people have with her, he became the anti-Hillary. Now a vote for Trump wasn’t just a Republican vote, or a shock to the system vote, but also a fuck you Clinton vote. Add in some third party candidates splintering the vote and it’s easy to see how a fuck you to the system sounds like a positive thing. I don’t blame the Trump voters for choosing him, I don’t agree with it, but I get how valid that point of view is. It was a race to elect the least objectionable candidate at a very trying time.
They did it.
But bad leaders have been in before and bad leaders will get in again. Instead of the rhetoric of hate towards those who voted against Clinton, try doing something more positive with that anger. The election is over, but we are soon going to learn that the great FUCK YOU!!! feeling that voting Trump in, that leaving the EU gave us all, won’t solve any problems that matter and we don’t know what the consequences will be. No matter what many wanted the American people made their choice and have to now live with it.
I fear for the minorities, who have struggled to get this far, but face their victories reversed, I fear for the people who will lose their lives because racism and sexism have been validated more than ever and I fear for the world as it turns to America to see what is to come.
America is better than this, I doubt that this will make anything Great Again.
Another election has descended into a debacle and I’m tired now. After the Tuesday I had yesterday, I just feel low and a little beaten.
I miss talking about geeky shit.
Got to go internet people, I don’t feel like being online anymore today.
Hi de ho internet people.
It’s been a rough year. Won’t lie, doesn’t look like we are going to get a break for a while yet. So it would be easy for me to go on another little rant.
But you know what? Sick of that. I’ve been on an upswing and I’m glad of it. After swapping all the bedrooms around, have moved my comic longboxes into the spare room along with my trades. The last thing I need is my 6 year old son finding some of the horrors in my graphic novel collection. Now he has more room for his own toys and is sleeping like a baby in a bigger room. On sunday, went to a comic mart, met up with Andy Leyland (host of about 7 current podcasts, some of the best are listed below) and had a nice chat with a comic fan and bought an arse load of comics. It reminded me of why I have this hobby and what I enjoy about it. Then me, my boy and the MIGHTY Rosie went for tea and had a lovely time doing so.
As suggested my the aforementioned Mighty Rosie, have met with a therapist for some longer term care and met with her on Tuesday. Easy to talk to, understanding and knowledgeable, without making me feel that my problems were beneath her or anything. I allowed myself to be vunerable and open up to a complete stranger, without having my eye on the fact that in six weeks I’d no longer be their problem. After one session, I felt better, so clearly I am going to go back and have more.
On Wednesday, went back to college and handed my assignment, parts 1 and 2 of Nights Empire, which can be read on this very blog. Got some good nuts and bolts feedback and was quite talkative all night, not the usual unsociable me. Thursday I gave 100% at gym, despite having no energy at all. I even managed to maintain my recent 12lb weight loss.
It’s still a struggle, but every victory matters. I need a break, but have one coming up.
Remember, you have survived this far, even when you thought you couldn’t. You are stronger than you know, braver than you feel and matter more than you can imagine.
So this weekend, see loved ones, laugh, play, watch bad Tv and anything else that makes you happy. It’s what I intend to do.
A year or two ago, watched a japanese film on youtube, like many of the geekier amongst us, I knew that Saban’s Power Rangers were primarily made from imported and redubbed Japanese TV shows, with original linking scenes. As I hadn’t seen any, didn’t really think much of it. After watching this ridiculous film, which had a plethora of characters I had never seen before and had no context for, I suppose I should have been put off, instead I looked at it as ‘here’s another fictional universe I can dive into, looks fun’. This genre of special-effect heavy sci-fi/fantasy TV show (called Tokusatsu has been going since the 60’s and 70’s and fell into several catergories, the main three being.
Metal Heroes: Often space based, with armoured characters, an example is Space Sheriff Gavan, or Blue SWAT. This isn’t a sub genre I know about to be honest.
Sentai: Sentai translates as soldier, or trooper and is best known as the sub-genre that lead to the Power Rangers franchise, from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, we get Mighty Morphin. From Denji Sentai Megaranger, we get Power Rangers in Space and that kind of thing, also not something I want to get into here.
The third is Kamen Rider, which translates as Masked Rider. This follows a fairly formulaic format. There’s a threat (non-human in origin) and a motorcycle rider, who transforms into another form to battle said threat. Again, this goes back a good number of years, but is split into several eras.
The Showa era runs from 1971-1989, there was a ten year hiatus and the Kamen Rider came back into the Heisei era, then the second phase of the Heisei era. Seeing the Heisei era as a good place to start, I tested the waters with a few single episodes of different things and then started with the first Heisei show Kamn Rider Kuuga.
Kamen Rider Kuuga
First aired in 1999, this 49 part series followed Yusuke Godai (I’m going to do the first name/surname thing, simply for ease) a young slacker, who while a hard worker, viewed life as an adventure and travelled the world. He pops by to see his friend Sakurako Sawatari, who works at a local university in ancient cultures and languages. She is Yusuke’s oldest friend and when she is called to an architectural dig in Nagano Japan, he goes with her.
At the dig, there are several dead bodies, a horrible monster has appeared and escaped as well as 200+ new creatures who seemed to erupt out of the ground. The detective in charge Kaoru Ichijo brings Godai and Sawatari to the police station, which is attacked by the first of these creatures, referred to as unidentified creature #1. During the fight, a stone belt from the dig is thrown across the room and the curious Godai puts it on. He is transformed into some kind of armoured warrior and battles #1. He wins barely and is considered by the police #2. Realising this is going to be a thing, Ichijo as well as detectives Norimichi Sugita and Tsuyoshi Sakarai are assigned to a science police division under the command of Sadao Matsukura. When #3 comes along, Godai goes after him, needing more strength, he changes into the Mighty Form and defeats #3, but doesn’t kill him. He’s then seen by the police and considered #4. Ichijo recognises Godai’s value and the two partner up, whenever the police find out about an attack, the woman on dispatch Sasayama, tells Ichijo, who tells Godai, who changes into his warrior mode, which the creatures he battles call “Kuuga”. We have the formula in place and there battles follow on from there, with the bad guys (the Gurongi) killing off huge swathes of people for a game they call the Gegeru. The game is to kill off as many of the descendants of the Linto, or the rest of the human race, as possible. All under the watch of Ra-Baruba-De, who organises the game and creature #0 also known sa N-Daura-Zebu, who is another Kuuga.
Action: There is some form of fight scene with every episode, but not before a lot of regular people and a staggering number of police are killed. Seriously the police in this program get killed off so fast, you think they slagged off the show runner. The battles between Kuuga and the monstrous Gurongi often have Godai transform (or Henshin!) and use of the following forms.
The Mighty form was the default and most battles started with this guy, it’s main value was it’s strength.
The Dragon form was used for speed and leaping, this form could also take poles, pipes and other long objects and reshape it to a bo/quarter staff.
The Pegasus form had heightened senses and could transform a handgun into a ornated looking crossbow.
The Titan form was impervious to many attacks and could change a bike throttle into a broadsword.
Each battle ended with some sort of explosion, most often after a flying kick.
There was a sprawling supporting cast as well as the core cast.
Yusuke Godai: Perpetually cheerful and optimistic, greeting everyone with a thumbs up and strove towards gaining 2,000 skills
Kauro Ichijo: Strait laced and methodical police detective, married to his job, Godai mellowed him out a little.
Sakurako Sawatari: Studious and cautious, expert in ancient languages. She worries about Godai and works to translate any information from the dig to aid him along with her colleague Jean Michel Sorrel.
Police officers: Sadao Matsukura, Nozomi Sasayama, Tsuyoshi Sawatari and Morimichi Sugita. They were the main part of the science police tasked with ending the Gurongi threat. Supported ably by Shuichi Tsubaki and Hikari Enokida who worked medical and scientific respectively. Enokida was also charged with developing weapons to kill the Gurongi.
In his home life, Yusuke lived with his uncle Tamasatura Kazi, who ran a cafe, with a family friend Nana Asahina, an aspiring actress with a severe crush on Yusuke. Also there from time to time was Minori Godai, Yusuke’s sister, who was a primary school teacher, who’s class was often entertained by the entertaining Yusuke. There was also Yusuke’s old primary school teacher Shoji Kanzaki, who got Yusuke through a rough time and returned the favour when he could.
As you can see, this was a large ensemble cast and a narrative that went well beyond a monster of the week series. Themes looked at were social anxiety, the effects of terrorism, depression and work/life balance. Really the series was about how far you go to battle an enemy. Would Kuuga become as angry as the Gurongi, would the modern human race become more like the Gurongi as they battled them. The series ended with a battle between Kuuga and #0 and the last episode was very much an aftermath episode as we find out what happened to everyone.
I’ve gone on long enough and I’m glad I gave this odd duck of a series a go.
Might do more now.
Have Agito to try next.