The Flowers in the Dustbin (Super Mario 64)

No comics reviews this week. I just can't. We'll see about next week when we get there, but I was thinking of winding down the feature anyway, so peg your expectations accordingly. Instead, here's this week's Super Nintendo Project.

The future arrived in late September 1996, untethered to any major gift-giving occasion. My assumption in hindsight is that my mother, giddily triumphant after scoring one on the sly and apparently correct logic that Toy Works was still a place that would get a shipment but was not a place where they’d sell out in thirty seconds, couldn’t resist giving it to me immediately. It seems as though I must have known the Nintendo 64 was coming, just because it’s hard to imagine myself as a person who didn’t know things like that a new Nintendo console was coming out, but I honestly can’t even remember a trace of anticipation for the future. Perhaps that’s just where I was in late 1996. Certainly it was something of a low point for me, as adolescent depression’s teeth sunk in deepest and my academic performance began to degrade in the face of a simple and blunt inability to drag ...

Hyrule Haeresis 4

Blasphemy, they would have said.

The story of handhelds is the secret story of the video game industry. Always overlooked in conversations about “bit eras” and “hardware cycles” and “console generations”, the handheld side of the medium has from the start been relegated to the kiddie table of the master narrative of history. This is in spite, or perhaps because, of the fact that until quite recently handhelds were the best selling consoles on the market, and even today the “casual gamer” epithet is applied almost exclusively to those who are in possession of smartphones and tablets (that is, roughly 100% of the populace).

It is perhaps not altogether difficult to see why: Accessibility was always going to be a sticking point for a culture fundamentally built around the exclusivity of privilege necessary to have the latest up-to-date technology at any given time, and handhelds are built to be accessible, using older, established kit in inventive new form factors to keep costs down and ergonomics up. And there's nothing gamers fear and despise more than low cost and ergonomic, for to them such things comprise the mark of the weak-willed and the infidel. So shunned was the Game Boy ...

Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart

Judging the first part of a two-parter is always a pain in the neck. (Remember when I thought Under the Lake had promise?) And there are other factors complicating this, like the nagging worry that Class isn’t ever going to transcend the fact that you can snarkily describe it as “The Sarah Jane Adventures with fucking.” Certainly we’re in familiar territory here, both in general and for Class, which is to say that we’re running through a fairly standard set of genre paces with a couple of unique spins. In this case, the basic mode is the mid-season finale, with the most obvious model being the “Surprise/Innocence” two-parter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Class is at least consistently good at throwing itself into whatever it’s doing with zeal, and so four episodes in its reliance on old standards has consistently been outshone by the flare with which they’re being done. All the same, my fondest and most adamant hope for the second part of this, or at least for something in the back half of the season, is that we get an episode that’s actually doing something new instead of adding a bit of spice to a ...

Shabcast 27 - 2016 US Presidential Election Special

Sorry about missing Thursday, but here it is (better late than never).

This time, I'm joined by Kit Power to chat about two Stephen King novels, The Dead Zone and The Running Man, and their respective film adaptations. 

Kit and I think these stories have some application to issues of the day.  See what you think.

Rainbows and Secretary

A couple months ago I was sitting at a bar waiting for my LDR-partner to get into town. We’ve been using the opportunity of long-distance relationshipping to explore the areas between us via AirBnBs. Waiting for their arrival I asked some friends what I should write about while I waited (without getting out my computer, like seriously I pen to paper writing, nothing looked up… and this is my memory we’re talking about).One of my friends said that I should tell all the vanilla folk the real deal with the movie Secretary. It was a challenge to the kink of the movie, less than purposeful challenge to my memory, and little could they have known the levels of emotional resonance this movie continues to have for me. I surprised myself in how I my thoughts presented themselves on the page.

 

I remember the first time I watched “Secretary,” I didn’t quite believe anything like it could exist in real life. To be fair, I still don’t and I’ll get into that more later but I immediately related to the protagonist. The young awkward girl stuck in a seemingly neverending “transition period,” the desire to let someone else ...

Swinging My Dick In My Hand (Super Mario RPG)

One final guest post from Anna Wiggins. Also, just FYI, we're currently $1 below the threshold for Class reviews on Patreon, so if you were enjoying those, you might want to toss me a buck.

It was always going to end like this. When life transforms into narrative, wyrd into orlog, endings become inevitable, foreshadowed in a way they never were at the time. This is the dread magic of stories. And tragedies, in particular, only ever end one way.

In the Spring of 1998, a fourteen year old trans girl, closeted even from herself, tried to end her life in a patch of woods in rural North Carolina. She had run out of hope, her every refuge invaded. No one came to save her, and she didn’t know how to save herself.

Super Mario RPG was released two years earlier, of course. She never even played it; in retrospect this is surprising. It was a Square-made RPG, manifestly her favorite software developer at this point. But it slipped past her radar, probably by being part of the Mario franchise. Playing it now, I think she probably wouldn’t have liked it. The combat system is turned-based, but with poorly ...

Comics Reviews (November 2nd, 2016)

Bitch Planet #9

Righteous and angry the way you want tis book to be, but... who's Eleanor Doane again? I mean, the issue tells me somewhat, but clearly she's a big part of the book's underlying mythology, and, well, that's always rough when a book's as sporadic as this. This would work if it were coming out on an actual release schedule, but the "an issue every once in a while" is just killing it, and I'm increasingly contemplating switching to trade for it. 

Animosity #3

The meta-arc of this one is feeling cloudy - there's a big jump between the second issue and the third, enough of one that I went back to the second to refresh my memory, which was a mistake because I'd forgotten just how clumsy the end of that issue was, making the jump even more jarring. But on a single-issue level this is golden - an unsettling and provocative look at animal-human relationships that's an absolute joy to read. I suspect its problems quite fitting together will eventually overwhelm it, but for now this is a highlight. 

The Wicked + The Divine #23

An ambitious high-concept ...

The Secret Song of Ayarynne Underqueen

 

The Foreseen One

The first song tells of her birth. But this song comes from the Southern Lands, so it isn't really a song. It tells of how the Underqueen was born in 2E 555 to the Devils of the Isles, but fled to travel Nirn instead. She was not the Underqueen at this time, and to the Devils she was their pre-ordained queen and saviour. She knew Mundus needed rulers (though she didn't yet know what that word really means, because it is a Secret Word) and this is why she chose to Wander. It was said she spent lifetimes or ages wandering Nirn before returning to the Isles to claim her queendom, by which point many in the Isles had talked themselves into forgetting her as a Historical error. But some knew and remembered, mainly the very old and the very young.
 
But some other in the Isles remembered the Wanderers from the Before Time, and they were afraid of her return. The Devils feared her dangerous trickery would cause the Isles themselves to Wander, such that they could never again be charted on a map. And because the Devils of the Isles value ...

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