Thursday was the first time since 2019 that I made it up to my grandfather's house for Thanksgiving. Although I had a great time, afterward of course I waxed nostalgic and depressed about how those three years have zipped by and how much has transpired within them, good and bad. Back then it was my grandmother's house too. Back then nobody had heard of Covid-19. Back then the girl next door hadn't yet sent the police after me. Back then I hadn't even applied to graduate school. Back then I had zero nieces instead of two. And when all is said and done, back then I was three years younger. Not that I'm old, but I'm significantly closer to the end of the prime of my life than the beginning. After thirty-five, if I'm lucky, I'll spend the rest of my life physically deteriorating. That seems like a really perverse ratio to me. A majority of people in developed nations - not me, I'm sure, given my state of health, but a majority - can reasonably expect to live into their eighties or beyond. So in my view, they shouldn't start actually being old until they turn sixty or thereabouts. They shouldn't start losing their hair or their eyesight or their bladder control until then. But nobody asked me.
Getting old is going to be a major theme of Indiana Jones 5, which is one of the things I'm grateful for this year. Of course I'm being a little premature because it might suck, but I'm confident that it will be at least moderately entertaining and that I'll prefer its existence to its nonexistence. Give me a few chases and explosions and I'll be happy. It will be set in 1969, the year my dad was born. It's going to heavily feature the moon landing and the Nazis who ran the American space program. (On the one hand, casting Nazis as the villains again feels ridiculous, but on the other hand, Nazis are still villains in real life and it will be more cathartic than ever to watch them get what they deserve, which, in case I wasn't clear enough, is death. Nazis deserve death.) I hope it also touches on the Stonewall riots, the civil rights movement, anti-Vietnam War protests, and second-wave feminism, just so the people who complain about everything being too "woke" will have aneurysms when they watch it. But I digress. Indiana Jones is canonically 70 years old in this movie (though Harrison Ford is pushing 80, and is older than George Hall was when the latter portrayed 93-year-old Indy in the highly underrated Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which shows that at least people are aging better than they used to even if they still spend most of their lives looking old). He's an old man in a time of immense change and upheaval and as he approaches retirement, he's becoming obsolete.
This angle is especially interesting to me in light of the character's origins. He is, of course, based on the action heroes from old adventure serials and was never meant to be taken altogether seriously, yet he's always been a little more realistic than them. He gets hurt and he gets tired while they never did. He's firmly a product of the 1930s and 40s just as they were, yet unlike them, he stuck around and aged through subsequent decades, and that's just cool to me. Meta, almost. And Disney has promised not to recast him or reboot the series with a different actor. When Harrison Ford is done, Indiana Jones is done (even though he's already been portrayed at different ages by multiple other actors - the aforementioned George Hall as well as River Phoenix, Corey Carrier, and Sean Patrick Flanery). So more than likely his goddaughter Helena, introduced in this upcoming movie, will get her own spinoff series instead, and the people who complain about everything being too "woke" will weep and wail and gnash their teeth that this icon of masculinity has been replaced by a woman. I see no downside, though. If her series sucks I can just pretend it doesn't exist. I don't anticipate that, though, because as long as it gives me a few chases and explosions I'll be happy.
Another thing I'm grateful for, one that's actually been released, is the first season of the Star Wars series Andor. Now again, because I have very low standards, I found Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi worth watching, but in some ways they were disappointing. They fell short of their potential. Andor is just phenomenal in every respect - great plot, great characters, great dialogue, great music. It dares to be original instead of nostalgia bait - so much so, in fact, that the first three episodes didn't feel like Star Wars to me and were hard to get into, but once I got used to it, hoo-boy it was great. So much political intrigue, but done better than the prequel movies (which I also liked), punctuated periodically by just the right amount of action. Likeable villains, despicable protagonists, and just regular people trying to make it in the galaxy with no Force and no lightsabers. Great debates and doublespeak and monologues. Electronic music that sounds more modern and different than the usual scores, but works beautifully. And the thinly-veiled parallels to real life give the people who complain about everything being too "woke" a lot to complain about, so that's a plus. I recommend it to everyone because I've seen multiple people say that they're not really into Star Wars but they love this show. They say it's just a great show, period.
Last but not least, I'm grateful now and always for music, my love, my drug, my lifeblood, my precious, my escape from whatever disappointments or existential horrors life can throw at me. I hope and pray that whatever happens as I age, I won't lose my hearing. Which means that I probably will because God doesn't seem very concerned about what I want.
Crisis struck last weekend. Prudence, which it runs out I am capable of possessing once in a while, dictates that for the time being I keep it to myself apart from a half dozen friends and all of my Fiction Writing classmates who deserved an excuse for why my second story is garbage compared to the first. For a few moments after seeing the news I never wanted to see, I tried to wrap my brain around the fact that my life and my faith were about to shatter beyond repair. Then I ran into my bedroom to pray but discovered that I couldn't speak. I tried to pray silently but discovered that I couldn't think. So my prayer was just Help me, help me, help me, help me, help me.
I reached out to this guy in the ward that I know a little bit for a priesthood blessing. I didn't want to be too much of a burden on the guys I usually ask. While waiting for him to get back to me and then waiting for him to arrive, I cooked a frozen pizza and force-fed myself half of it, despite my complete lack of appetite, because I was starving. I offered the rest to him when he arrived, and he said it would be a good idea to make himself eat, and he appeared to have an even harder time doing so than I did. He wasn't doing well. He asked if he could stick around for a while after the blessing so he didn't have to be home alone. He asked if I've ever had questions about my faith, and I outlined the most recent one in very vague terms. I didn't want to tell him about my situation because I just wanted comfort from the blessing; I didn't want to open the channels for advice that I wasn't ready to accept. And he gave me the shortest blessing I've ever gotten and I appreciated that. He cried afterward. I think it helped him more than me. So that was cool.
I invited him to accompany me to Come Follow Me with people from the ward. While there, I went through mood swings and wasn't in hell the entire time. I sat there for half an hour while two girls and four guys discussed the proper care and washing of different kinds of hair, a topic that I found altogether uninteresting but still better than being home alone, and then as I was poised to go be home alone again some others arrived very late and we played Werewolf. I threw myself into it with gusto. When I figured out that my in-game lover was a werewolf, I protected her with as much zeal as I would a real-life lover who murdered people. When others falsely accused and killed me, I was only upset that it would lead to her death as well. I can be selfless like that.
I didn't look forward to bedtime because past experience had given me some idea of what I was in for. I'd gotten the obligatory blessing, and I would pray, and I would get sufficiently calm and peaceful to fall asleep, and I would wake up an hour or two later in a cold sweat with my heart doing its best impression of the ungodly screaming over the bridge of Rammstein's creepy and inappropriate song "Mein Teil", and there would be no more calm or peace or sleeping for the remainder of the night. Well, I did wake up and fail to get back to sleep until the sun rose, but the rest didn't happen. I didn't feel good by any means, but I felt all right. I soon came to the realization that God was shielding me from the worst of the pain. And He continued to shield me throughout the week, and I thanked Him and prayed more and tried harder and got better. Wednesday morning I woke up from a nightmare that ruined most of my day, Thursday morning I woke up from a nightmare that ruined the next half hour, and Friday morning I woke up from a nightmare that I was able to put out of my mind right away.
It's not like I'd never thought to pray for comfort before. I'd just rarely noticed any of this magnitude, no matter how hard I pleaded. I don't know what's so different this time, if the nature of the situation has made me more desperate or more deserving or what. I do know that whatever suffering remains is a part of life that I shouldn't try to avoid or expect to be exempted from. Now I feel like I'm in a good place where I haven't stopped hoping for and believing in one specific outcome based on God's previous communications to me no matter how unlikely it looks at the moment, but I'm also patient and trying to be open to any outcome and the necessary understanding that will come with it. I know, I hate having to be so vague too. I'm annoying myself.
One thing I've consciously done to enhance this effect is listen to a playlist I started nearly two years ago, which has taken on ever greater significance. Sometimes, like in the mornings when I wake up feeling like a dead battery and vulnerable to all manner of negative emotions, songs like "Head Above Water" and "Echoes of Andromeda" and "Boasting" have returned to my head.
I canceled my Tuesday morning classes so I wouldn't have to get out of bed until I felt like it, which greatly disappointed my students, I bet.
My ex-neighbor and dear friend Steve drove up from Salt Lake on Monday evening. We talked a little about what happened, but mostly watched Disney+. We watched Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and then some of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons - "Bart Sells His Soul", "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace", "The Springfield Files", "Lisa the Skeptic", "Bart on the Road", and possibly another that I forget at the moment. He went home around noon on Tuesday, which I later realized was his birthday. He gave up a third of his birthday for me. And I couldn't believe it was two years to the day since we went to see Jojo Rabbit, aka one of the finest films ever made. Where does the time go?
My classmate and colleague Kylie also offered to hang out, so after our class on Tuesday I went up to ask if she was still good to hang out that evening. As soon as I started to speak, she put her hand on mine, and I thought about how USU's sexual misconduct prevention trainings told us not to touch someone without permission, even though we know full well that's not how neurotypical people live their lives. And I thought about my old friend Bracelets who used to touch me on the shoulder a lot until she saw the Temple Grandin movie and decided I didn't want to be touched. And I thought about a girl in my ward who came up to give the closing prayer after I had spoken in sacrament meeting, and touched my knee as she walked by. I think, in fairness, that this isn't just about neurotypicals vs. autistics but about women vs. men. Because women are raised to be more affectionate and nurturing, I think they can touch men's hands or shoulders or knees without these automatically coming across as romantic or sexualized gestures, whereas the reverse is not true.
I remembered when a friend in high school was crying about her grandmother dying, and I needed to comfort her but I didn't know what to do but I didn't want her to think I didn't care so I finally admitted, "I'm trying to decide if I should put my arm around you or not," and that made her laugh through her tears a little so I guess it was better than just putting my arm around her. Speaking of dead grandmothers, I was at the funeral of mine a couple months ago, seated right next to my grandfather, who howled with grief a couple of times. If ever there were appropriate contexts to touch someone without permission, these were them. And it was still hard, it still rebelled against my conditioning, to put my hand on his wrist. And then I felt awkward. Should I take it off now? What if he wants to move his arm? I'm not really letting him move his arm. I envied a little Kylie's ability to put her hand on mine all casual-like just because she knew I was having a rough time.
I couldn't think of anything more exciting to do than watch a movie, but fortunately for me, Kylie hasn't seen any Star Wars except for Rogue One and both of SNL's Undercover Bosses skits with Kylo Ren, so I picked the original Star Wars movie to guarantee that I would get invited back at least eight more times. She observed that Darth Vader is a jerk for kidnapping his own daughter, that stormtroopers don't aim very well, and that the use of computers in warfare was a pretty new idea in 1977 and that's probably why the movie was so popular. After the next movie, she reiterated that Darth Vader is a jerk for strangling his own men, and also reflected on the lack of women and racial diversity that's been somewhat fixed in the more recent movies. She said Princess Leia is an interesting character - specifically, it's interesting that she's a strong character but she still has to be sexualized. I hate myself for using that word twice in one post. Anyway, Kylie wasn't judging; she said the movies were fair for their time. I should have apologized in advance for what happens to Leia in the next one.
She made me watch the SNL skits, and I made her watch the Robot Chicken sketch that introduced the world to Gary the stormtrooper.
I also talked to my old friend Eliana on the phone a couple times, and the first conversation mostly turned into her complaining about the Church. Kylie has left the Church too, but we have nuanced and mutually respectful discussions about it, and I look forward to reading her folklore paper about how patriarchal blessings might have roots in the Smith family's fascination with folk magic. When Eliana left a couple years ago she still believed in the Book of Mormon and stuff but didn't trust the leadership because of their past mistakes and current LGBTQ policies. Now she sees nothing good, wholesome, or true in any of it. I didn't try to argue and I hoped that my listening allowed her to let off some steam. But I kind of wanted to ask, Can you live with yourself knowing that I'm still in the Church because of you? I used to tell her about all kinds of issues that bothered my testimony, and she was so chill about all of it and confident that the Church was where God wanted her to be. She was my anchor many times. You never can tell what the future holds, can you? Anyway, we don't talk much anymore but I appreciate that she's still there for me.
For Thanksgiving, I was going to visit a nearby great aunt whom I shamefully never visit because I'm always welcome but that means I have to kind of invite myself at any given time, but she got sick. So I went to my bishop's house. Although I haven't always cast him in the most flattering light, he is a great guy. I wish I could say the same about my last bishop. Some others from the ward also showed up, and someone else in the ward had a friend who wasn't in the ward but was going to come, but he went to the wrong house so we started without him. He showed up fifteen minutes in and guess what? He was one of my students. So he saw me without a mask on and sat right next to me and that's kind of funny, isn't it? I hope he didn't take it as a personal jab when I said that I like teaching college students because if they don't want to be there, they don't show up.
Today I tried really hard to pay attention in church and be open to the Spirit, and I did pretty well. I didn't even close myself off when a couple of people in Elders' Quorum said a couple of things about gender roles that made me want to stab my eyes out.
Y'all, the internet is not a safe place. On the 24th I received three identical form entries on my site from email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com (all from IP address 22.214.171.124, Zurich, Switzerland).
Your reputation and business are at stake!
We on your behalf in the message your website address christopherrandallnicholson.com and your contact information (including in social. Networks and messengers) will send:
+ on 15,897,318 sites, threats with insults to site owners, US residents, Europeans, LGBT and BLM.
+ 790,000 messages to bloggers with threats and insults
+ 2 367 896 public figures and politicians (from the USA and Europe) with threats and insults
+ 70,000 negative reviews about you and your website christopherrandallnicholson.com
+ 23 467 849 contact forms of sites with threats and insults
+ 150,000 emails messages to people with disabilities with threats and insults, many of them will definitely sue you
+ 57000 emails of messages to veterans with threats and insults, FOR THIS YOU WILL BE EXACTLY SITTED
Following from all of the above, you will get a lot of losses:
+ an abuse from spam house, amazon and many webmasters (for spam, insults and threats) will come to your site christopherrandallnicholson.com, as a result, your domain will be banned and blacklisted
+ people will sue you because you threatened and humiliated them
+ in court you will not prove anything, everything will look as if you did it all, MOST YOU WILL GO TO PRISON
+ internet will be inundated with negative reviews about you and your website christopherrandallnicholson.com
+ threats and reprisals from BLM and LGBT community members, in fact, these are dangerous community guys
Total: you will lose your business, all your money, you will spend on lawyers and compensation for court decisions, you will go to jail, your life will turn to hell ...
We already have everything ready to launch all of the above, but we decided to give you a chance to avoid all this, you can buy off a small amount of money.
Make a payment, transfer 0.39 Bitcoins to this address
We are waiting for the transfer from you until November 27, on Saturday November 28, if payment does not come from you, we will begin to destroy your business and you along with it.
So, let me get this straight... since the deadline has passed and I didn't do anything, he's going to publicize my painfully obscure website, for free, to 42,800,063 people? Oh no! And then nobody will believe me even though I have three records of him spelling out his evil plot in excruciating detail? Oh no! It's really not worth the effort to dissect every self-explanatory reason why this scam is unbelievably stupid, so I'll just focus on one more. I believe I've been very vocal about some of the people I heartily dislike, and BLM and the LGBT community have never been on the list. Not once. If the scammer had done a modicum of research to make his scam just a teensy bit less unbelievably stupid, he would have instead threatened to send threats and insults and threats with insults to All Lives Matter, police unions, bootlickers, anti-maskers, and Trump cultists. Even though most of those are the same person. One thing creeps me out a little, though - the reference to politicians from Europe. I've never told a soul about my profound distaste for Angela Merkel, so how did he know? I hope it was a lucky guess.
I don't know if there's a connection, but the same day I received this from one "Tom Sawyer", firstname.lastname@example.org, (IP address 126.96.36.199, South Bradenton, Florida).
There’s no such thing as high functioning autism you sick [redacted]. God said retards should be punished. Mormons are disgusting. You’re a retarded white supremacist. You’re ugly. I consume cock.
Oh no. Someone I've never met in South Bradenton, Florida, who obviously has fewer brain cells than fingers, doesn't like me very much. I may never recover from this crushing blow to my self-esteem.
I don't know if there's a connection, but someone hacked my Spotify account. They were apparently logged into it from another device, and every time I came back after a break from using it, it was playing some random single from 2019 or 2020, from some artist with no other tracks and no biographical information on the internet. Sometimes they were added to my Library or Liked Songs without my permission. An obvious money-making scheme, though from what I've heard about what Spotify pays artists, surely there are better money-making schemes available.
I don't know if there's a connection, but someone allegedly named Pablo Salcedo from Don Torcuato, Buenos Aires, Argentina hacked my Facebook account, sent himself a friend request, created a page called "Super discount toy shop", added himself as an admin on my Ads Manager, and ran ads for a post on the page which linked to a fraudulent website that purported to sell heavily discounted Nintendo Switches for Black Friday (which will, of course, fail to arrive). I know exactly who did this - or I know what profile he was using, at least, which may very well be fake. Yet Facebook provides no option whatsoever to report this. I can report that "someone" hacked me and take steps to secure my account (which I already did), but I can't report that this exact person is the one who hacked me and used my profile to run a scam, and that he should be removed from Facebook and reported to local law enforcement. I'm disputing the ad charges now - he actually used his own credit card, which was thoughtful, but I stupidly removed it from my Ads Manager so now Facebook is going to try to bill me on Monday and I'll be damned if I'm going to pay it.
Really, Pablo, is this what they taught you at Universidad Tecnológica Nacional Argentina and Instituto María Reina (Lomas del Mirador)? Surely you could put your hacking skills to better use, like making Trump's Twitter account say "Me gustan Mexicanos y Musulmanes."
For three weeks I had a sore throat and occasional dry cough that fluctuated in severity from day to day and hour to hour. At first I thought nothing of it, since the cold air and pollution often afflict me like that, but when it wouldn't go away I became concerned. I got tested twice. The first time I was told to stick the swab up my nose until I felt "resistance". I wish they had defined "resistance" more clearly, because I suppose I did feel a bit for just a moment but then the swab kept going until it felt like it would touch my brain, and it came out pink. A few days later when I got tested again in case the first test was wrong, they just said stick it up about an inch, and that direction was a lot easier to follow and a lot less unpleasant. I was then also able to participate in a blood test for Quansys Biosciences, which is planning to mass-produce a mail-order blood test kit and wanted to see if the instructions were clear. I was given a $20 gift card to "Stacked", a pancake restaurant that I've never been to and won't go to as long as Utah's case load continues to skyrocket.
For Thanksgiving this year, I stayed home and ate ravioli by myself because I'd like for my grandparents to still be alive next Thanksgiving. There were some people in town I could have hung out with, but I've seen how seriously most college students don't take social distancing and mask wearing when they aren't being forced to, so no. That's okay. I really enjoyed the time off school and work and I really enjoyed my roommates not being here for most of the day. Will things be better by Christmas? Not likely.
The other day a friend in Uganda asked me what Black Friday is. I and many if not most Americans have long recognized that Black Friday is a sickening orgy of consumerism that brings out the worst in humanity, but when he asked me about it I realized I have no clue what the original paper-thin excuse for its existence is. To my knowledge, it literally is and always has been nothing more than a sickening orgy of consumerism that brings out the worst in humanity. I didn't use those exact words in my explanation but I felt, as seldom before, profoundly embarrassed to be an American. I saw that one company this year started its Black Friday sales at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
So speaking of Thanksgiving, this year I decided to try something new and revolutionary: giving thanks. Here are some things that I'm thankful for this year. The list is biased toward the latter half of this year because I habitually try to block out most of my memories.
* Not being in school.
* Becoming dependent on melatonin.
* Finally getting endowed.
* My sister getting married (albeit on my graduation day) so I can finally have those adorable little nieces and nephews I've been praying for. Better get on that, Heather.
* The development of effective Ebola vaccines and treatments.
* My friend Terrah doing my apartment search for me because I would have rather stuck a dirty needle in my eye. And also giving me food.
* Being forced to move into this great little apartment complex with only one roommate who's frequently gone and the best neighbors I've ever had. Excluding Barky McBarkerton next door, who needs to die.
* Sixteen new temples and eight new missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being announced, to say nothing of the long-overdue death of the stupid Young Women's class names.
* Millennials finally getting their revenge on idiot boomers who have been relentlessly mocking them for struggling to survive in the economy that the boomers ruined.
* "The Mandalorian" TV show demonstrating what Star Wars is supposed to be. Even though the unnecessary existence of yet another streaming service is really annoying.
* Hong Kong voters coming out in record numbers to overwhelmingly displace their pro-Beijing council members with pro-democracy ones.
* Congress passing and Trump signing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Suck it, China. Whatcha gonna do, stop manufacturing all our cheap plastic crap?
* My crush giving me stimulating conversation and an unsolicited hug.
* Not developing any serious illnesses or injuries that would put me into life-ruining medical debt because my country has the worst healthcare system in the developed world and I don't have insurance.
* "The Rise of Skywalker" coming up and looking like it's going to have enough epic battles and stunning visuals to compensate for the plot holes, SJW preaching and lame Disney jokes.
* Not wasting time or money on any dates.
* Trump's wall still conspicuously failing to be built.
* 2019 thus far (knock on wood knock on wood knock on so much wood) having been a much, much, much, much, much better year for me than the crapstorm from hell that was 2018. Largely because Kristin Pike wasn't part of it.
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.
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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.