Warning: this post contains content that non-nerds probably don't give a crap about
November 17 marked the fortieth anniversary of the worst film of all time. "What?" you may be saying. "'The Emoji Movie' isn't that old!" No, I'm talking about "The Star Wars Holiday Special". What can I say about "The Star Wars Holiday Special" that I or someone else hasn't already said? Just that I arranged a viewing of it and had one person show up, who said that it fully lived down to his expectations and that he might make all his friends and family watch it. This was my fourth or fifth viewing, but my first time with the commercials included, which certainly spiced it up. I learned, for example, that Tobor is robodT spelled backwards and that pantihose with real panties in them are superior to pantihose without real panties in them. The version without commercials that I watched last year has been removed from YouTube for a copyright violation. Why anyone gives a crap about a copyright violation on a film that hasn't been broadcast or released in any format in forty years is beyond my comprehension, as is the fact that the version with commercials was allowed to stay up. But I downloaded the non-commercial one last year so I still have both.
My favorite part is still Bea Arthur's big musical number in the cantina, but my favorite part to show someone else was of course the part where virtual reality Diahann Carroll makes it seem like the film is transitioning into a bizarre Wookiee porno. Neither of these scenes make much more sense in context than in the previous sentence. Also, he said that the Jefferson Starship scene gives him hope that the crappy music playing on the radio today won't be remembered in forty years. "Jefferson Starship has two good songs," he said, "and they went with this one instead." As I said to him and as I've probably said elsewhere before, it really is amazing that this film didn't kill the Star Wars franchise in its infancy. Make no mistake, the film is far worse than anything Disney has put out, yet "The Last Jedi" and "Solo" have somehow done more damage. It's the darndest thing.
The Legend of Zelda franchise has its own version of the Holiday Special - three terrible third-party games for a forgotten piece of hardware called the CD-i that resulted from Nintendo backing out of a deal that led to Sony developing the Playstation and becoming its primary competitor. Nintendo doesn't have as healthy of an attitude about these games as Lucasfilm does about the Holiday Special. While the Holiday Special has informed several other Star Wars projects, especially those involving Wookiees, including "Revenge of the Sith" and even the upcoming TV series "The Mandalorian", Nintendo wants you to forget that the CD-i games exist. They are absent from official sources like The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia even though it includes a section on non-canon spinoff games, and "Spirit Tracks" was advertised as the first time you could play as Zelda even though she's the protagonist of two of these three. The first one came out the year I was born and had its twenty-fifth anniversary sometime this year that I can't be bothered to look up. But that's not what I came here to talk about.
Ocarina of Time, widely regarded as the greatest video game of all time, turned twenty on November 21. Conveniently I was at my grandparents' house for Thanksgiving and they have a copy and I celebrated by playing it as much as possible. That's where I was introduced to it in the first place. Let me back up: I was introduced to the Legend of Zelda franchise via an ad in the back of a Super Mario Advance choose-your-own-adventure book that I got through the school book order in second or third grade for another choose-your-own-adventure book based on Oracle of Seasons. Of course, this being the first time, I viewed it through fresh eyes that I never could again. "Legend of Zelda"? Zelda was a person's name, so it was Legend of some person. Who the crap was Zelda? What was this about "Link's latest quest"? That made little or sense to me, since Link isn't a name. I didn't give it another thought until we went to visit my grandparents and on the way we stopped at my mom's friend's house and I watched my mom's friend's kid play Majora's Mask.
So I still didn't know who Zelda was or that the little guy I saw running around mostly as a Deku Scrub was named Link, but I saw what the franchise was and so the mystery I didn't really care about was solved. And more to the point, I was entranced by the fascinating world, plot and characters. I had so much fun just watching my mom's friend's kid play, and that obviously indicated that it was a darn good game. So when we got to my grandparents' house, and my aunts (they're twins) who I guess technically own the Nintendo 64, or maybe it's one of their brothers' (my uncles'), I forget, asked if I wanted to use it, and I asked if they had any Legend of Zelda games and they said they did have one, and though I didn't know it at the time, it happened to be the best one. It also happened to be the rare original release with some glitches and details that were almost immediately changed (e.g. the atmospheric Muslim prayer chanting in the Fire Temple). Since I wasn't allowed to have a Nintendo 64 and could only use this one for two weeks every two years, I spent every second I could playing it. On Sundays when I couldn't, I pored impatiently over the Strategy Guide.
The second thing that struck me about this franchise was how unapologetically weird it was. Why were chickens called "Cuccos"? What the crap did "Deku" mean? What was an ocarina? It's originally based on medieval Europe, but I didn't notice that. I saw it as just a pure one-of-a-kind fantasy land. It's interpreted through a Japanese lens and evolved beyond its roots and it's got words and creatures and mythical elements with little or no basis in medieval Europe. The weirdness was a huge part of the appeal for me. I was a weird kid who thought outside the proverbial box, and this world matched. I still have that attitude and it extends to Tingle, a character who in Japan is loved but in the U.S. is the Legend of Zelda franchise's version of Jar Jar Binks. I don't understand the hate at all. He's weird. So freaking what? I don't escape into fantasy worlds because I want to make small talk with boring people. Sure, I'd keep him away from my children if he existed in real life, but this isn't real life. That's the point. Tingle isn't in this game, but he made his debut in Majora's Mask, so that's kind of still relevant.
Again, I don't want to recap stuff that's already been said about how groundbreaking and influential Ocarina of Time was on its own franchise and video games as a whole. That can hardly be overstated. Some people will say that the game is overrated. Those people are wrong. True, it's obviously a product of its time. The vast and expansive game world of 1998 is small and linear in 2018, some of the graphics now look like they were drawn by a seven year old, and the tinny MIDI arrangements of Koji Kondo's impossibly good music pale in comparison to almost any orchestration or cover version. None of these things, in my judgment, make it any less enjoyable (and the graphics were vastly improved in the 2011 3DS remake anyway). I'm sure the fact that I was able to play it within a few years of its release helped me see it the way it was intended. I rarely find Navi annoying and I think most people who claim to are just regurgitating what they read on the internet so people will like them. I do concede that the Water Temple is a massive pain in the butt (though it was vastly improved in the 2011 3DS remake anyway).
Two polar opposites - the worst film and best video game ever. But I'm grateful that they both exist. In closing, here's the best song from "The Star Wars Holiday Special" (among not many options) and the best song from Ocarina of Time (among literally dozens of strong contenders). May they keep bewildering and entertaining us, respectively, for decades to come.
To recap: I used to have ass burgers syndrome, but in 2013, the people in charge of these things turned it into high-functioning autism. And that upset me because I didn't want to be autistic because I knew that the stigma against autism was even higher than the stigma against ass burgers. I refused to self-identify as autistic until one day I was silently mocking some people for insisting that Pluto should be a planet based on their emotional attachment to it rather than any legitimate scientific reasoning, and I realized I was a hypocrite doing the same thing. So I reversed my position and threw my lot in with the other autistic people. I adopted their stigma, and I adopted their mindless hatred from anti-vaxxers, and I adopted their fight. Maybe it's just a little bit misleading for me to say "I'm autistic" when someone on the internet makes a "joke" about "screeching autistically", since I don't screech (I just swear), but if it causes the person in question to recognize that he's a jackass, then I have no regrets. If someone has a problem with it they can go argue with the scientists.
As we noticed earlier this year with "Black Panther", it really has a strong psychological benefit for people to see protagonists in the media who look or think like them. I never sought that out myself. I never yearned to see any explicitly Aspie or autistic protagonists, probably because I'm a white male and have seen enough white male protagonists to last twelve lifetimes and nullify any other psychological need I might have. But last semester in my Advanced Fiction Writing class, Maria Allen wrote a story with an Aspie protagonist. A male Aspie protagonist who may or may not have been white. And I'm not the litmus test for autism by any means, but the unmistakable similarity of his thought process to mine proved that she had done her research. And it felt really, really good. It healed something in my soul. What does that have to do with "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"? I'm glad you asked. Let me tell you.
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" stars an autistic boy named Christopher who loves animals. Huh. I don't want to ruin the play by saying too much about it, so suffice to say that it was really good. Like, I was worried about whether I could set aside my current Legend of Zelda obsession enough to care about something unrelated for three hours, but that turned out not to be a problem. I was able to see it because it was shown for free by a small theater troupe known as the Restless Observers. It was in the USU Fine Arts building, and I've been in the Fine Arts building many times but not in all of its approximately two thousand rooms, so I wasn't expecting such a small and intimate theater to be so small and intimate. There were still a couple spots open right in the middle of the front row, and I grabbed one. Suckers. What possible reason could anyone have for not wanting a seat right in the middle of the front row? So it turned out that one possible reason why someone may not want a seat right in the middle of the front row is that when two characters walk to opposite ends of the stage while holding a conversation, you have to be like
I was so close to the action, though, that four of the ten actoresses violated my personal space at one time or another. And sometimes I looked at someone who wasn't talking and noted that they were still acting even though they weren't supposed to be the center of attention, and I know that's just basic stuff but I found it fascinating. It's especially important because maybe someone illegally filmed this and if they watch it five dozen more times, you don't want them to suddenly notice "Hey, he's texting!" Anyway, the actoresses were all very talented and there were also skillful effects that made good use of the small intimate space, and some live animals, and by intermission I was impressed enough that I vowed to start a standing ovation. And when the time came I stood up, and nobody else did, until I telepathically yelled "Stand up, you jackasses!" and they did, and the next week one of the actoresses was like "You were there the day we got a standing ovation" and I thought Lucky me.
The most impactful thing about this play, of course, was the protagonist. Despite being lower-functioning than me and also fictional, he had some unmistakable similarities to me and I felt a kinship and a piece of his pain. The first time he screeched autistically I felt uncomfortable because, you know, in the real world you don't imitate an autistic person unless you're mocking him. This was different. I got used to it. This is the first and only time in my life that I've seen low-functioning autism portrayed in a positive light. While I have thankfully seen plenty of people sticking up for autistic children against anti-vaxxers, this comes more from a place of pity and isn't quite the same as just acknowledging their existence. To see a non-autistic actor pretend to be autistic just as if he were pretending to be a lawyer or a police officer or a brunette, as if these traits he's emulating are just part of being a kind of person, not something to be vilified or shunned or pitied or eradicated, is more impactful than I can put into words. And I'm usually pretty good with words. So watch it sometime, or maybe read the book, because as good as the play is, the book is usually better.
Here's something for all you Americans out there to keep in mind when you're disappointed that you didn't prevail in democratically imposing your political views on everyone else: someday we'll all be dead and it won't matter. Seriously, do you think Jesus gives a flying flip who you voted for? I don't. And if that doesn't comfort you, look at the president Brazil just elected. He makes Trump look like Gandhi. Look, if you have any faith in any form of politics or government eventually solving more problems than it creates and making the world a place of peace, prosperity, liberty and justice for all, then all I can say is you're going to be very, very disappointed. At least until Jesus returns and institutes a theocracy. The good kind of theocracy, not the kind where human rights are abused. Until then we're all screwed and may as well accept that.
My feedback that nobody asked for: I'm grateful that the Democrat Party took the House of Representatives, and I'm crossing my fingers that they'll create enough gridlock to prevent either party from getting anything done. Of course, given the Republican Party's incredible track record of failing to repeal Obamacare for the last two years, that might not even be necessary. I do still slightly favor the Republican Party, in the same way that I slightly favor being shot over being stabbed, but there's no way in hell I want them to have a monopoly on every branch of government. I have this crazy idea... what if we had more than two options to choose from? It sounds crazy, I know, and it would require Americans to have more than two opinions, but just think about it for a moment. I think it would be glorious. Alternatively, we could use the additional options we already have and stop pretending it's against the laws of the universe for them to win.
I am saddened but not surprised that Andrew Cuomo won another term as New York's governor. I've never met anybody who likes him, and I'm not sure what kind of charisma he has to compensate for his personal and political shortcomings when in every photograph he looks like an exceptionally unpleasant bureaucrat of the Galactic Empire, but he must have gotten a good turnout from the sex offenders he pardoned so they could vote for him. It really is a shame that you can't pick your home state on aesthetics alone. You can't say, "I think I'll live in upstate New York because there are few neighbors and lots of pretty trees" without also taking into account the highest taxes in the nation. And the mosquitoes. And the humidity. And the drugs. And the sex offenders. In fairness most of those things have nothing to do with Cuomo. I have no intention of going back, anyway, since there are next to zero job prospects and fewer every year.
This also happened:
I mean, honestly, how delusional to you have to be to keep telling yourself that the United States doesn't have a problem here? Flags at half mast used to mean something. Now when I see one I just wonder where the shooting was today. It's basically the default position. I don't pretend to know all the solutions, but OUR CURRENT APPROACH OF IGNORING THE PROBLEM ISN'T -------- WORKING.
In other news, a recently released study has corroborated what studies have been saying for decades: that hitting children, colloquially known as "spanking", more often than not messes them up for life. I can vouch for the study's accuracy from my own anecdotal experience. It's interesting/annoying how this is one of those areas where people flaunt their ignorance as a badge of pride. "I don't care what the studies say, my dad beat me half to death and I turned out fine!" No, you didn't. Anyway, I'm not sure why we require studies to figure out that it has a detrimental impact for adults to hit people several times smaller than them, as I would have considered that to fall under the category of "No duh", but whatever. It hasn't really been that long since we stopped feeding children cocaine.
Almost every day, on the way to campus, I walk through one of the graffiti tunnels. People draw all over the walls and floor in chalk and then once in a great while somebody washes everything off and they start all over. The University and all other normal people see this as a bit of harmless amusement. The City of Logan sees it as A CRIME, and prohibits GRAFFITI OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING CHALK, in the tunnels it owns, and VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED. Yes, I realize it's just taking precautions against the slight risk that the weight of the chalk dust could cause a concrete tunnel to collapse, but at what cost? They're missing out on profound religious insights like this:
Somebody also wrote on the wall recently, "Questions? Ask the Missionaries!" I have my doubts as to whether anyone will ask the missionaries because of this blurb, but it's a nice thought. Next to it, someone else (or an alternate personality of the first person) wrote "Cult". That was it, no context, no punctuation. Technically "Questions?" isn't a sentence either, but it does have more of a feeling of completion to it, you know? Still, somewhere some self-identified "free thinker" is undoubtedly still patting himself on the back for coming up with the word "cult" all on his own, and spelling it correctly, no less. Now I'd like to say that I'm all for the frank exchange of ideas, and would have been intrigued to read a counterargument against asking the missionaries. But stupidity offends me. I had a tissue in my pocket, and I had saliva in my mouth, and I deleted this spam with little trouble and still made it on time to where I was going. Christians 1, Atheists 0. I jest, but really, try paint next time.
Next post: A review of "The Mysterious Case of the Canine After Dark"
For months I've wanted to actually get a Halloween costume for the first time in my adult life, specifically Link from "The Legend of Zelda", but since a parasite took all my money and then some that was not feasible. However, the LDS Institute of Religion had at its Halloween party a table full of random costume pieces, so I picked out some that more or less matched and made whatever this is. Maybe it's just as well, since the many options for Link costume had me gripped by choice paralysis and a fear of not choosing the best one at the best price. Next year, though.
Also, in case you can't see, the bag I'm holding has a Triforce drawn on it. There was candy in it and I don't know whose it was or where they got it but they left it behind when the event was over so it became mine. I don't know if it's just a Utah thing, but I've noticed lately that there's a surprising number of Triforces around if you're looking for them. Earrings, shirts, chalk drawings on the sidewalk. Other Zelda references too, but especially Triforces, probably because very few shapes are so iconic with such simplicity. It's a beautiful epidemic.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.