Thursday, March 31, 2011


(Completely unrelated: Look! Look! I posted over there!)

From an advertisement on the back of the entertainment section of a local newspaper:

FREE Exhibition

Frank Stella:
Irregular Polygons
Opens... etc.

Frank Stella has been a consistent innovator at the forefront of abstract art. Though based on simple geometries, his Irregular Polygons series of 1965-66 comprises one of the most complex statements of his long career. Each of eleven monumental compositions combines varying numbers of shapes and colors, resulting in daringly asymmetric canvases that play with illusion.

I hate to say this (not really), but sticking a bunch of shapes together isn't really a complex statement. Look at this, and tell me that it's something more complex than a triangle sticking out of a not-exactly-a-square. What, it symbolizes suffering or some silliness like that? (And what's wrong with using, say, actual forms found in life for symbolism? I don't like people reading into every teeny tiny detail too much either, though, so... eh.)

I don't have a problem with modern art on general principle (in fact, I rather love futurism) but talking about abstract art as anything other than aesthetically pleasing shapes is just a bunch of pretentious bull. (I know I'm hardly the first person to voice that opinion, but whatever. It's not like I'm trying to make a statement, unlike some people.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Robo Force: The Revenge of Nazgar (Part the Third)

When we left off, Hun-Dred's goon robots had surrounded Dina Deena. (I only figured out the official spelling-with the help of this page-after writing the last one. Incidentally, why does it have to be such an ugly spelling?)

And they presumably captured her, because it cuts away to a new scene.

Apparently, Hun-Dred's base is a literal underwater castle, which is pretty awesome (though admittedly also pretty silly).

Maybe the script called for an underwater fortress, and got interpreted literally.

Anyway, Maxx Steele and Mark Fury and company have come to invade it.

They split up, with the robots going to blow the place up (!) while Mark Fury checks the place's prison cells in hopes of finding his father, Dr. Fury.

Instead, he finds Deena, of course. (The Doctor was in another castle.)

And then some guy with a hilarious mustache threatens him from behind.

Fortunately for him...

...Maxx Steele thought he'd keep an eye on him, just in case.

Then he leaves to finish wrecking the castle.

We see something of a gunfight between the good robots and... these guys.

That's right, unreleased toys (Plundor, Fangar, and Arsenal) got an appearance in this, albeit as nameless, all but faceless goons who get slaughtered by the hero bots. (You can find more information on them on the page I linked to earlier, or here if you're too lazy to scroll back up.)

The castle has been sabotaged to explode (or something) and everybody escapes, with Mark Fury carrying off the mustache guy to interrogate later.

I mean that pretty literally, by the way-Blazer the flamethrower bot has a few words with the guy.

He grills the guy for information (not quite literally).

These robots... are starting to strike me as being rather bad role models.

Anyway, since I haven't remarked on it yet, I might as well address it here: There's a rather odd bit concerning the robots. All robots have exactly the same basic design, no matter their origin. Hun-Dred may be hundreds or thousands of years old, and is virtually identical to Coptor, who was built by Dr. Fury, and to Maxx Steele, who was built by Mark Fury (though admittedly, probably from Dr. Fury's notes or something). There is absolutely no reason for this. I suppose I might be able to accept the idea that this basic design was so ingrained into these people that they couldn't even imagine building them differently, or maybe this simply being the most efficient robot design (snicker), but it's still rather odd.

Anyway, nitpicking aside, after they get their information, mustache man jumps out the window, and I'm pretty sure they were in a plane or a skyscraper or something, so... Yeah, he probably splatted.

Next time, we get to join Hun-Dred and the goons on his search for Nazgar's brain.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Game Reviews: Mytheria

Mytheria is a free flash game that is designed to simulate a TCG/CCG-a trading/collectible/constructed card game.

It's obviously based (very) heavily on Magic: The Gathering, but eschews the use of cards as resources, instead tracking "power" (essentially the same thing as Magic's mana) automatically, letting you either increase your power or draw a card every turn.

This lets you quickly play out your hand in exchange for keeping a strong power curve (this phrase makes excellent sense to a TCG player) and you rarely have to worry about not having what you need.

The five colors, red, white, blue, purple, and black, aren't entirely equivalent to their Magic counterparts-in fact, where blue in Magic is control-oriented, blue in Mytheria is mostly similar to Magic's "White Weenie" archetype. (Not to mention that Magic has green, not purple.)

A further distinction is that Mytheria has very few cards by comparison to the venerable Magic. This lack of variety keeps numerous replays from being as interesting, but one supposes that the programmers only had so much time on their hands.

(Edit: Something I intended to mention but forgot is that while Magic allows a lot of flexibility in building decks, in Mytheria you're pretty much stuck playing a single color due to card design and game programming disfavoring otherwise; there are a tiny handful of "multicolored" cards, but they're all but unplayable, as are multicolored decks generally. Further, there are two or so cards which, while they are designed to "fit" certain colors, they don't actually need to be played with those colors, and are pretty good cards in the appropriate strategies because they aren't limited by normal play considerations, because you aren't limited by power when playing them. This also limits deck variety and pushes everything towards being more similar. Not a problem if you're playing casually, but...)

In short, Mytheria is a fun little game if you're interested in TCGs, but don't expect more than a few hours of play out of it before it gets really repetitive.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Golden Age Moment of the Day (69)

From Fantastic Comics #7's "Captain Kidd" story...

Actually, I'm not quite sure why "unicorn men" aren't a little more common. (Sparklelord from Dr. McNinja is the only other one I can think of, and they didn't actually call him a unicorn man, just a unicorn. And of course, in his non-flashback appearances, he was a motorcycle, but that's not the point.)

-Signing off.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Micro-Face: Still Awesome

I've only mentioned Micro-Face in a non-offhand way once, but he's seriously probably my favorite no-longer-published Golden Age character. (All images from random issues of Clue Comics; he showed up mostly in the early ones, disappeared for a bit, and then came back for a while.)

Why do I like him?

He's creepy.

It's not uncommon for him to stand in that rather lazy looking slouch, and when he's wearing what looks like a gas mask which obliterates all trace of his human face, it rather compounds that.

His facelessness could potentially make him difficult to make sympathetic, but Golden Age stories never worry too much about that sort of thing, and so he barrels through his adventures with nary a care.

His enemies never see him sweat.

Micro-Face is essentially a detective with some of Superman's weakest powers, to a mostly weaker extent-he has "photoelectric lenses" which grant him "x-ray vision" (all of that is essentially a crock of bad technobabble, but we can let it slide), enhanced hearing, and electronic ventriloquism-all of them tied up in his freakshow mask. (Ironically, it was stated that the patent office, government, etc. had no interest in his inventions, which is madness, even if they needed to be tied up in the silly mask. You're telling me they would have absolutely no interest in a group of tools that would absolutely revolutionize espionage, even now?)

And he uses ventriloquism as a combat power.

Maybe you don't think you'd freak out if a voice repeatedly taunted you from somewhere out of sight, but if it just won't go away, and it keeps sharing secrets nobody should know, and it caps off its taunting by threatening to call the police on your criminal butt, you'd probably freak out a bit too.

Obviously, his costume is a bit silly, but no more so than any other super type's, and I think it's completely workable (and quite charming) myself.

-Signing off.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Game... Critical Comment Thing: Soldier On

Well, I wanted to do some kind of game review or something here, but I didn't have quite enough time to come up with something; however, somebody is looking for critiques of this game here, so I thought I'd just pass it along.

My own two cents are that it's just a little too easy for there to be too many of some particular kind of monster, which is a gameplay issue because you essentially have to use the same kind of "bullets" to shoot them. (There were at least four green monsters at one point, which require green block gathering to kill, and more blocks than could be gathered.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Super Sentai Whack-A-Mole

Some say that older Super Sentai is better than the newer stuff, because of something or another.

I have to admit, this was funnier than the newer sequences inspired by it...

...and so was this...

...but I'm not sure if this is the kind of stuff those people mean.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Robo Force: The Revenge of Nazgar (Part the Second)

(Part the First is here.)

In the last three minutes, a relatively large amount of stuff happened that will be the backstory for a character who will be important for the rest of it. In the next three (or so), it will establish a huge amount of backstory for the world it's set in (which cannot be Earth, by the way).

Anyway, we left off after ten years had passed between scenes.

This subtitle establishes us as being in someplace called Celestia. I think it's a sort of city-state thing, but it's obviously a smidgen vague.

We zoom in on a large, official looking building, which turns out to have some sort of big council... thing in session.

They're calling Councilwoman Dina Squall (or something like that) to speak on matters of security.

Her first statement, that a group called the Cult of Dre(a?)d poses a threat because of its proclaimed intention of reviving a guy called Nazgar, is laughed off because Nazgar lived 2000 years ago. (Obviously, this is where I realized that it's rather unlikely this planet is supposed to be Earth.)

This guy here...

...even insists that he's actually a legend.

This, despite holographic video archive of a conflict that Nazgar was involved in. (There are references to "Zeton" or something, which I guess must be the planet Celestia is on.)

The same councilman accuses her of fakery, so she pulls out a "message crystal" which apparently came from ancient times and which was apparently captured from one of Hun-Dred's hideouts, and spins it like a top on the table.

This shows off a holographic message from ol' Nazgar, who claims that his brain will survive.

The council is still unconvinced, and chastise Dina with a remark that she ought to be hunting those guys Mark Fury and Max Steele, who have been "making fools" of them.

Now, here's another great little fight scene, this time with human on robot but mostly robot on human violence. (The robot is Maxx Steele, who does seem rather preoccupied with making humans look like fools in this bit.)

Maxx's fighting style against humans is pretty simple: He just stands there and ignores everything they try to do to him, while kicking tossing the heck out of them.

We also see Mark Fury...

...who, by the way, was the kid in those first three minutes whose dad was kidnapped.

It turns out that he was involved in a bar brawl because he found an informant, but the informant gave him bad info and/or arranged for him to be ambushed. Protip: If you're going to ambush a guy with a large robot buddy, bring your own large robot buddies, instead of a punk with a purple mohawk.

But where did Maxx Steele come from? He wasn't built by Dr. Fury in the first part, only that helicopter robot was.

Such questions will have to wait.

Remember that suspicious councilman?

For some reason, we see him in some kind of dwelling, and there's an unsettling symbol on his wall that he seems to be paying respect to.

He calls someone on the phone. And unlike the last time I talked about a suspicious person making a phone call, it's not Cobra Commander.

He tells Hun-Dred (who, in case you couldn't tell, is the leader of the Cult of Dred) that Dina Squall has that highly important message crystal, which is one of three that, when used together, will lead Hun-Dred to the brain of Nazgar.


Wait a minute, if the Cult has had this thing all along, what the heck are they waiting for?

(Don't think too hard about it, and let's move on.)

So, several of Hun-Dred's robot goons pop out of back alleys and off of buildings in order to surround and ambush Dina.

Push the drama button.

And there we are, a great cliffhanger!

-Signing off.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Golden Age Moment of the Day (68)

Today's panel from Air Fighters V.2, #4 makes me question the geography education of yesteryear...

Yes, it's very unlikely they'd be looking for a Nazi base... in Alaska.

-Signing off.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Om Nom Nom Nom

Still pretty under the weather (though not nearly as bad as yesterday), but I thought I'd throw a couple of videos I found a bit back on here.

Many smaller snakes are insectivores, but some larger insects are carnivores.

And before you try to claim that it couldn't really have eaten that snake, despite the narration...'d be wrong.

-Signing off.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Laid Low

I seem to have come down with bronchitis, so I don't think I have the energy to blog.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Robo Force: The Revenge of Nazgar (Part the First)

(Or, Further Proof That I Have Discarded Any Semblance of Sanity.)

It's probably clear by now that I like silly obscure things. (Don't worry-I'm not likely to do anything on Dinosaucers, anyway.) One of the most obscure things I can think of is Robo Force.

My memories of Robo Force come primarily from a total of three toys that I owned (they're still around, most likely) and a couple of Find Your Fate style storybooks with beautiful painted illustrations.

There was more, although not much more: A one-shot animated television special, which is so weird it took me at least a full minute to remember not to call it an "episode" or a "series."

For some reason (preparing for the possibility of additional segments?), it was subtitled "The Revenge of Nazgar," which is an odd title since none of the toys were named that (the leader of the villainous robots, for reference, is Hun-Dred, which is both terrible and awesome).

That's neither here nor there, though-the opening segment of the single half-hour episode THING has no mention of the titular Nazgar.

We start overlooking a futuristic dwelling... thing.

I'll note that I quite like the aesthetic and design work of this series stuff pretty well.

It's worth noting that Flint Dille, one of the G1 Transformers cartoon's major writers, called this his "first robot cartoon."

Also, I feel sorry for this guy.

Anyway, the future-y house is being stealthily approached by guys in stealthy clothes...

...and armed with absurdly brightly colored rifles.

And... well...

A gang of rather silly-looking robots. (The one with the grey head, "Vulgar" [yes, really], is among the ones I still own somewhere.)

Inside, the inhabitant of the house is building himself a robot with a propeller on its head (Coptor or something) that looks astonishingly familiar.

Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!

...but it actually apparently totally is, though I'll get to a proper explanation of that later.

The sneaky robots and a few of the ninjas come bursting in, busting down the door.

These robots are Cruel (the purple one), Hun-Dred (the one with the light gray head), Enemy (who looks like a box and is described by his toy packaging as "THE DICTATOR" even though there's no sign he's supposed to have a leadership role), and Vulgar (the drill-nosed one with a dark gray head). It's worth noting, though, that only Hun-Dred will be named in dialogue.

Coptor tries to defend the guy who just built him, but he gets hit in the head really hard.

It presumably hurts pretty bad (assuming he can feel pain), as he gets embedded in a wall.

I'll note here that one of the things this series cartoon does really well is sell the violence. That is to say, damage is generally depicted in fairly consistent ways. I actually find the action scenes in this to be smarter, sharper, and more effective than the ones in Dille's Transformers work.

And yes, I just praised a cartoon for having effective depictions of violence. Granted, it's just about all robot-on-robot...

The evil robots want to capture the scientist guy. He doesn't want to be captured, so he resists, but they threaten his young son one floor up, so he concedes to being captured.


The guy who was transferring this to a digital version from an ancient cassette tape... had to adjust the tracking.

The bad robots take off in their flying saucer just as the tracking is resolved and the kid sees that his dad has been kidnapped.

What's interesting to note here is that, counting the intro sequence, the cartoon up to this point has taken only about three minutes.

It needs to be fast, seeing as how they've only got half an hour counting commercials, but it's very efficient in a way one doesn't see often. Even the opening scene of Robotix is sluggish by comparison.

Here's the crazy thing: In the scene transition, another ten years pass.

In this lonely half hour, more time passes than in the first two seasons of G1 Transformers.

And that is why I enjoyed watching it.

Honestly, though? I think it actually gets better.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stuff I Know Nothing About Beyond Looking It Up: Guyver

It's totally strange to read that Guyver is a series that's been coming out since 1985 (the year before my sister was born), and is apparently still coming out. Very few comics are published for nearly that long (although part of the length apparently comes from the author's health issues delaying it repeatedly).

While I'm only mildly interested in the manga and related anime works (and some live action movies made in America [?!]), I have to admit, the character designs and aesthetic are truly beautiful. (Note that there's rather more graphic violence in Guyver than in things I usually share here on the blog, to levels that put a lot of cartoonish anime violence to shame-which is part of why my interest in it is limited.)

And of course, it just generally has been blessed with nice animation.

A similar aesthetic can be seen in an anime called Betterman, which is notable for being 1) inextricably intertwined in additional material with the Gaogaigar series even though 2) it's a straight up horror (with giant robots) series where the presence of the immensely powerful Gaogaigar characters (who do stuff like punch out moons on a regular basis) would kinda ruin it. I have only a limited interest in Betterman for reasonably similar reasons.

Yay, lazy time-deprived post.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Golden Age Moment of the Day (67)

From Fantastic Comics #9's "Space Smith" feature...

He's running from and shooting at... an industrial process?

-Signing off.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Real Fake-Er, Fake Real? Whatever-Websites

You know what's always fun?

Websites that pretend to be "real" and about subjects that (probably/hopefully) aren't.

Like the site for "The Republic of Cascadia" or the "ZRC."

I've mentioned the first site before here; never heard of the other before today, though.

Hey, what? I didn't have a zombies tag before now? I didn't know that!

-Signing off.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species #13


121. Brosin. Brosin are near-humans with a history of being used as slave labor in dangerous factories.

There's a problem, though-they're supposedly natives of the Corporate Sector, a place that isn't supposed to have natives. You ignorant sourcebook writers, do some research!

Rating: 0/5. It ticks me off.

122. Brownie. Brownies are actually from Willow, and were put up on's database as an April Fool's gag.

Rating: 0/5. Gar, April Fool's Day is less than a month away, isn't it? Curses!

123. Brrbrlpp. Brrbrlpp are a rare species who are shaped like amoebas, can communicate over long distances and love to talk, and were insensitively called Cold Ones by outsiders, supposedly because "Cold Ones" is easier to say than "Brrbrlpp."

It's harder to spell than it is to say, actually-I imagine it's pronounced "brbrlip." Which is actually pretty easy.

Rating: 4/5. Hooray for random amusing mashup aliens!

124. Brubb. Brubbs are tough-skinned desert dwellers from a high-gravity planet. They also look kinda boring. Pretty much their most notable feature is that their strength and toughness made them popular mercenaries and thugs.

Rating: 3/5. Utterly bland, but a relatively good kind of bland.

125. Bruvian. The article on Bruvians probably took less time to type than it will take you to read this sentence in which I complain about the frequency of articles wherein the information is really truncated single-sentence statements.

Rating: N/A.

126. Bunny. The Bunnies are a gag species, made up entirely of Max of Sam & Max and the Energizer Bunny.

Rating: N/A. At least it's an amusing case, though.

127. Buro. The Buro were rendered extinct by careless environmental destruction by a human crew of a starship.

Which begs the question of how stable a species they really were, or whether they were even truly sapient, or blown up as such by propaganda (the story involved an anti-human terrorist group called the Diversity Alliance), or even if they were actually extinct, since it was a poorly known planet and people rarely travelled there.

Rating: 1/5. At least there's information on them, I guess, even if it may be incorrect...

128. Buzchub. Buzchub look like furry muppets. And that's all I have to say.

Rating: 3/5. Muppets are awesome, so looking like a muppet scores you points.

129. Caamasi. The Caamasi are a species of extremely peaceful beings. They would probably be perfectly capable of defending themselves against most threats, but generally choose to turn the other cheek. This makes them the galaxy's greatest diplomats. Unfortunately for them, they earned the enmity of the Galactic Empire, who rendered their planet uninhabitable from orbit, killing the majority of their population. This is often seen as being one of the catalysts that caused the Rebellion to go into full swing. When it was learned the Bothans had helped the Empire, it so upset so many people throughout the galaxy that there was an impromptu blockade of Bothawui by uncoordinated forces from thousands of planets in response.

Which is to say, the Caamasi are deeply involved in galactic politics, in an important and interesting way.

Rating: 5/5. What else would you expect me to rate an important species from a Zahn novel?

130. Caarite. Caarites are described as appearing childlike to others, but being "sly" and profit-oriented. In effect, they're a race of wheeling and dealing scam artists.

Rating: 1/5. Bah, that offends me.

Huh, I guess #13 suffered from bad selection luck.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Evolution of Metal Heroes

Perhaps I should say "championing the obscure since 1983" in my title box.

The "Metal Heroes" are simply a bunch of tokusatsu series (i.e. Japanese special effects-driven live action) produced by Toei.

They start with Gavan, a series about a "space sheriff" who fights a space crime organization.

Considering the resources at their disposal, he's pretty impressive, right?

Most early Metal Heroes were pretty much the same-in fact, the original three series were all thought of as a trilogy, and their protagonists' equipment were functionally nigh-identical.

This continued until Metalder, which has been described as an homage and spiritual remake of an older series called Kikaider.

Incidentally, there was apparently a scene in Metalder where the robotic protagonist forced his enemy to sever his (Metalder's) own arm in order to break free, and then used said arm as a spear to impale the same foe. (A clip was once on YouTube, but that user has apparently been banned.) Note also that Metalder and several of the other early Metal Heroes series were used to create the short-lived Power Rangers-like series VR Troopers, which was originally intended to star the actor Jason David Frank, who played the Green Ranger in Power Rangers.

Similarly off-formula was Jiraiya (no, not that Jiraiya-both characters were based on this folklore character), who showed a portion of his face and didn't even wear full plate armor.

The series then turned away somewhat from many traditional tokusatsu aspects with Winspector and its immediate successors, which were closer to traditional cop/rescue worker series in formula (at least, if what I've read is any indication) in that there was no single enormous villain organization.

It also had several robot characters who would be impossible to distinguish from their human counterpart (in the sense of general appearance) if they didn't act like total spazzes.

The next turn was towards an almost super sentai/Power Rangers-like dynamic, with animal-themed powers and characters, particularly beetles.

This series and its immediate successor, B-Fighter Kabuto, were adapted into Big Bad Beetleborgs, a cheesy, almost Adam West Batman style series that featured kid superheroes hanging out with Universal Monster knockoffs living in a haunted house. (It wasn't great, but it was much better than you'd think.)

And then, it took another turn.

This is where I might go "WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN" if I were being surprised. Kabutack and its successor Robotack (which starred a dog robot) were even more kiddie than the Beetleborgs adaptations, as far as I can tell.

While this isn't innately a bad thing, Metal Heroes ended there, and it hasn't come back (except in the Philippines).

And that's kind of sad, if for no other reason than because it means that there are now only two extremely long running Toei tokusatsu metaseries in Japan (Kamen/Masked Rider and Super Sentai).

I'm not the only person who thinks that's a shame, right? Right?

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Separated at Birth: Creepy Fuzzy Thing Edition

Ferbus and Furby.

This is one of those things that's so mind boggling, I can't believe they both actually exist in the same reality.

Ferbus is a strange little alien pet/sidekick from the American Masked Rider series (which aired from 1995 to 1997 and was not really a huge attention getter, at least not compared to Power Rangers, the series it had been spun off from).

Furby is an even stranger little electronic pet... thing that can talk to people or another Furby (popular from 1998 to 2000).

They have similar appearances and even similar names (though Ferbus actually has arms and real legs, stubby as they are).

And somehow, they aren't related at all?

How is this possible?!

(On a related note, I've heard a funny story about Furbies. A friend of my sister apparently owned several, along with a much more obscure electronic talking toy called an Oogly. [Yes, really, though I may be mispelling it.] Ooglies were extremely loud, exuberant, and downright obnoxious-if I recall the commercials, they basically scream and shout and laugh like maniacs.

And apparently they scare the bejeebers out of Furbies, who "go to sleep" whenever an Oogly is too close.)

-Signing off.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Golden Age Moment of the Day (66)

From Man'O'Mars #1 comes this... epic space battle.

"What! A strange fleet--attacking our ships! Quick--the Visa-screen!" reminds me of these panels full of military men from that Boy King (and Giant) story I talked about one time. No question marks for us!

Honestly, though, I just like those silly retro spaceships.

-Signing off.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I unexpectedly found myself dog-sitting this weekend, so this actually isn't exactly as planned.

But here, have a reference to the thing that makes me think of Zordon as such a schemer (as referenced in the title of my Power Rangers blog, The Zordon Conspiracy).

(The link is to a YouTube video from which I... um, borrowed the reference image that my sister and I used to make it.)

And all these years later, that's probably why I still love Power Rangers: Because Zordon was a sneaky, lying manipulator.

(And yes, that really is how I actually think of him. Well-known Power Rangers fan Joe Rovang once remarked that one of his favorite things about the series is how much it leaves to interpretation; in my opinion, good ol' Zordon is one of them. That's not to say he's evil; he's actually very heroic and selfless. He'd just rather keep his valorous teens out of the dirty, seedy side of this stuff.)

-Signing off.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

He Didn't Quit His Day Job

This guy may be the best Japanese superhero ever:


Actually, he's what's called a "local hero," a costumed superhero particular to a small town or district created by, well, a local person. You can apparently find tons of these guys doing local "plays" and even just wandering around their communities, doing civic-minded things.

Or making tea.

Incidentally, there's a new, short post over at The Zordon Conspiracy. You kind of have to be familiar with the subject matter a little bit to care. (Also, I voice a rather vehement opinion.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species #12

Many Bothans have died to bring us this post.

Speaking of which...

111. Bothan. Well, what to say about these guys? They're nearly omnipresent in Expanded Universe fiction, as scheming politicians or even in honorable professions like espionage (rimshot). Actually, the Bothans have become one of the very most important EU alien species (after those pesky, boring humans), and can really be seen in most walks of life, including in conventional military roles.

Rating: 5/5. I was waffling between 4 and 5, to be honest, but ultimately, all that stuff about them being schemers strikes me as being as much of a negative in-universe stereotype others mostly impose on them. Granted, one of the most commonly seen Bothans in the EU was Borsk Fey'lya, an utterly unrepentant schemer who caused a lot of trouble, but he also died an honorable death in the end (in one of the better character deaths in the overblown Yuuzhan Vong storyline), and he was depicted as having good reasons for most of what he did, even if he occasionally went too far.

112. Bouncer. Bouncers are weird floating critters that are apparently sensitive to the Force. They apparently play moderately important parts in a number of storylines connected to the planet Ruusan, where a great battle which the Jedi believed had wiped out the Sith (this misunderstanding being orchestrated by Darth Bane) had been fought, and numerous Jedi and Sith had been killed. Most Bouncers were driven insane by the Sith weapon that caused most of the casualties, and their insanity was contagious to Jedi, causing other soldiers to seek them out and kill them. This resulted in a young Jedi recruit touching the Dark Side and later joining Darth Bane as apprentice.

Rating: 4/5. Bouncers have a longer fictional history than I had realized. They're more of an interesting fixture than important to the plot, I think, but their nature is such that non-Jedi don't usually realize they are sapient beings. They're probably borderline in that regard, at any rate.

113. Bovorian. Bovorians... are kinda ugly.

Rating: 2/5. At least it's a (mostly) good kind of ugly.

114. Bpfasshi. The Bppfff... Bpfasss... Bpfasshi are a race of "near-humans" that spawned a few Dark Jedi, one of whom was killed by Yoda. This made the Bpfasshi hate Jedi, presumably including Yoda.

Rating: 2/5. Y'know, that seems kind of an odd stance to take. But the article mentioned Yoda, so they got a point.

115. Brebishem. Brebishem had a tendency to huddle together, which somehow made them look more like a larger creature. Other than that, not much.

Rating: 1/5. I'd rather write about Waru's species, from the same book, but that's neither here nor there.

116. Bri'ahl. The Bri'ahl appeared as incidental characters in a comedy story called Another Fine Mess.

Rating: 1/5. They're not even the good kind of ugly.

117. Brigian. Brigians... are from Brigia. They were enslaved by the Yuuzhan Vong. Their physical description makes them sound rather like Sesame Street muppets.

Rating: 3/5, if only because I'm now imagining them as oversized muppets running around in the Star Wars galaxy.

118. Brizzit. Brizzit are cool-looking bug-headed aliens.

Rating: 3/5. If I'm understanding correctly, a Brizzit was a cantina alien.

119. Brogune. Brogune are apparently considered attractive by some Hutts, who may take them as concu-TMI! TMI!

Rating: 2/5, mostly because it lets me type "TMI!" twice (well, three times).

120. Brolf. We don't know much about them except for mostly extraneous descriptive details. (They come from a Zahn book.)

Rating: 2/5. Those extraneous descriptive details are still intriguing.

Eh, a reasonably amusing interesting batch this time.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Engineering Feats of Yesteryear

Relatively recently, I was perusing the online version of Popular Science and came across this old Popular Science article which details information about a massive "robot" (more what we would now call a "mech") called the Beetle, which was intended to be used to handle nuclear accidents.

(Photo cropped from some site that had "borrowed" it from somewhere else still.) The interesting thing about the Beetle is that it was designed to fulfill a role that my ancient kid's version Encyclopedia Brittanica predicted robots would serve in the future.

The other major prediction? I seem to recall that it depicted kids playing baseball with their (superhumanly powerful) robot buddies.

So that's zero for two, I guess. (The Beetle, while it still holds the honor of biggest "robot" ever built, never actually fulfilled its job, and its predicted more compact successors were never built. I imagine that if there were attempts at building a robot to fulfill the job in the future, it would be a Mobot [that's zero for three] telepresence robot.)

-Signing off.