Product and Process

As a member of the Transformers fandom, there’s an ongoing debate in the community.  And it is by no means isolated to this community, but it is the debate of inherent quality versus nostalgic quality.  That is, is a given work of art (show, comic, toy, etc) good on its own merits or good merely as an artifact of nostalgia.

If we compare the original 1984 cartoon (‘Generation One’) to most of the modern shows, G1 pales in comparison.  If we compare animation quality, the modern shows are vastly superior excepting a few episodes (and usually then, just specific sequences).  Narrative, plot, and character elements are invariably subpar in the older works.  Acting can go either way, depending on the show, the episode, the character, etc.  This leads people to say things like ‘Gen-1 isn’t that good except for the nostalgia’.

So?Continue reading “Product and Process”

Dollars and Sense

“You’re worth more than what you can give to other people”
– Mara, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

That line’s gotten lost in a lot of the hoopla surrounding She-Ra, and not without reason.  A singular line, no matter how good, can get lost in a powerful scene, in a powerful episode, of one of the best well-written and beloved TV series in the last year.  I stand by my previous assertion that She-Ra and the Princesses of Power will go down as one of the best cartoons ever, full-stop.  I have little doubt it will be remembered along with Avatar the Last Airbender, Batman the Animated Series, GI Joe: Real American Hero, Super Friends, and Speed Racer.

But this little kernel of brilliance really deserves some evaluation on its own, independent of the scene that showcased it.  I’ve been fixated on it since it was utter because I feel like there’s something strangely prescient here, relevant to today’s world.Continue reading “Dollars and Sense”

Just King or Just a King?

I was introduced to the Chinese philosopher Mencius in college.  Living a century or two after Confucius, he’s largely lost in the conversation about philosophy.  I’d like him to Tommy James and the Shondells and how they’re largely lost in the conversation about 1970s rock ‘n roll.  But I digress.

The only thing that really stuck with me over the years about Mencius was his claim that ‘there was no such thing as an unjust king’.  He argued that you could a king – who was just, by virtue of being king – or you had a man pretending to be king.  If a person was unjust, they were immediately and instantly ‘no longer a king’.  It both complicates and simplifies issues of loyalty to the thrown and matters of conflict to justice.  One can never be put in a position to choose to be loyalty to a king or to justice, because the two can never conflict.  If they do, an act is not actually just, or the man is not actually a king.Continue reading “Just King or Just a King?”

Social Contract

It seems like society is collapsing.  Well, society here in the United States.  In other parts of the world were grown ups are in charge, they seem to be managing.  But here in the US, we’ve turned a serious health crisis into literally one of the worst health scares ever.  Like, not being hyperbolic, COVID-19 has cost more American lives than just about any war we’ve fought in and is on-track to be one of the ten deadliest pandemics in human history.  Maybe Top Five.  Let’s not rule that out, especially if our public schools do open.  And we needn’t stop there.  After all, somebody’s gotta challenge Small Pox for the throne someday.

But I digress.  We’re re-evaluating what our rights and obligations are, what our government can and should do for us, and what we can and should do for our communities.  There’s a lot of talk about rights versus privileges versus obligations versus responsibilities.  All good stuff, to be sure.  But I really think we should just go all-in and rewrite the social contract.Continue reading “Social Contract”


A scarcely discussed aspect of mental illness – and like chronic illness as well, I get the impression – is the fatigue of having to describe and rationalize the symptoms.

So last week, I crashed bad.  BAD.  Catastrophically bad.  Couldn’t get out of bed, bad.  The kind of bad that is usually an exaggeration played for laughs in comedy shows.  But it was real.  Agonizingly, painfully real.  I tried and failed to muddle through one day, and then was basically crippled the following day.  It’s taken more than a week to recover, if I can even call this recovery.  There was no catalyst, no real inciting incident.  As near as I can tell, my Depression just rolled a natural 20 on it’s to-hit roll and I went down like a sack of grain.Continue reading “Bedridden”