October 12th, 2008


Oh, Mario, the pipes, the pipes are calling

I checked out the bonus material on the third disc of the Super Mario Bros. 3 DVD set. I don't think that stuff really needed its own disc, but what are you going to do? Nothing all that amazing, and the back story was really self-congratulatory (it claimed that the minor characters were all three-dimensional, which is a bit of a stretch), but some of the back stories were cool. I liked the biography of Toad, which claimed he worked as a pizza delivery boy and encyclopedia salesman before coming into Princess Toadstool's service. I really can't buy that the Princess is only seventeen years old, though, and not just because Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time suggests that she's about the same age as the Mario Brothers (because, really, I kind of take issue with that as well; it's really too much of a Muppet Babies scenario for me), but because it seems unlikely. Besides, that would presumably have made her even younger during the Super Show. I guess it WOULD explain her fondness for Milli Vanilli, though (more on that once the relevant episode comes up). The Writers' Bible also identifies Bully (Roy) as the oldest Koopaling, although most other sources seem to say it's Ludwig/Kooky. I'm not sure the birth order has ever been officially established, though, any more than the identity of their mother has. Another interesting thing about the bonus material is that there's concept art of Mario wearing a Tanooki Suit, which he never actually did in any of the cartoons.

Anyway, I re-watched two more episodes last night.

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Which Magician Is Witch?

As I'm sure you can tell, I enjoy fantasy, and fantasy books tend to be full of magic-workers. I tend to prefer the books where magic is more of a practical thing than a spiritual one. For instance, I always thought it was stupid when people criticized the Harry Potter books for promoting non-Christian religions, when magic in that world doesn't really appear to have a religious component. In the Discworld books, there are a few statements that say that witches and wizards are well aware that gods exist, but they don't see the need in actually BELIEVING in them. Of course, all fantasy universes are different, which is why, for instance, gnomes can be garden pests in one series, tiny warriors with Scottish accents in another, metal-and-jewel-mining rock fairies (and spelled without the G) in a third, and inhabitants of a land deep underground where you can get juice out of a ruby in a fourth. Overall, though, I get a picture of witches being largely homespun magicians who work with herbs and such, while wizards are book-learned and scientific in their approach to magic. Traditional gender roles dictate that the former is usually female and the latter typically male, but I don't see why this would be strictly necessary. Terry Pratchett's Equal Rites deals with a girl's challenges in enrolling in a school for wizards, although The Colour of Magic suggested that countries elsewhere on the Disc already had female wizards. I believe there's some historical precedent for "witch" and "wizard" being gender-specific terms for the same sort of person, but it doesn't really seem right to me.

So what IS the appropriate term for a male witch? Maybe there doesn't need to be one, as both men and women were accused of witchcraft in the past. As a kid, I asked my dad what a male witch was called, and he said they were warlocks. That largely works, although there's more of a negative connotation for that word (it literally means "oath-breaker" or "liar"). As for female wizards, I've seen the term "wizardess" used before, most notably at the beginning of The Land of Oz: "Mombi was not exactly a Witch, because the Good Witch who ruled that part of the Land of Oz had forbidden any other Witch to exist in her dominions. So Tip's guardian, however much she might aspire to working magic, realized it was unlawful to be more than a Sorceress, or at most a Wizardess." This seems to imply that a wizard/wizardess is more powerful than a sorcerer/sorceress, which is kind of odd. It seems to be the general rule (at least in what I've seen, which admittedly is only a small fraction of all the stuff written about magicians) that, if a wizard and sorcerer are being ranked, the latter is the more powerful one. That even seems to hold true for Oz, where the most powerful magic-worker is the Sorceress Glinda. But then, Glinda was originally called a witch, so we can see that L. Frank Baum was pretty loose with these terms. I think the point of that passage isn't so much to rank magic-workers as it is Mombi trying to find a loophole in order to practice her witchcraft. We see much the same thing in Ruth Plumly Thompson's The Purple Prince of Oz, in which Ozwoz claims that the laws of Oz don't address his form of magic, wozardry. Anyway, while "wizardess" seems valid enough to me, -ess endings to denote femininity have been falling out of favor as of late (actress, waitress, stewardess, etc.). So I don't see why a magician like the book-smart, scientifically-minded, modern-thinking Hermione Granger wouldn't just go ahead and call herself a wizard, instead of a witch. But I guess it's mostly just semantics.


This post is devoted to three of the more detailed planets I invented while in elementary school: Kravoo, Hoosshka Boosshka, and Nvxton.

Kravoo was, basically, a planet the size of a galaxy, and was known for its mineral deposits. I didn't do too much with it as a kid, but I returned to the idea when I took a creative writing course in college, and tried to come up with some explanations for stuff I hadn't really considered when I was younger. I often preferred writing descriptions of fantasy lands and alien planets to actually coming up with plots, and this turned out to be one of those descriptions. I'm not sure what I did with what I wrote in college, but if I can ever hunt it up (and that might not be for a long time, mind you), I might post it here, if anyone is interested.

The name of Hoosshka Boosshka was just a bit of nonsense I made up, and occasionally exclaimed when I was frustrated. It's located in the Galaxy of Kawoosshka, which I initially considered to be a galaxy overlapping the Great Galaxy, but I later decided should really be the same galaxy. I didn't initially spell these words with the double S, but I thought that was a way to make them look weirder. Anyway, I had grand plans for a story about my class visiting Hoosshka Boosshka, but I only ever wrote very small parts of this story. I had plans to incorporate a whole host of creatures based on stuff I'd recently learned, or obscure inside jokes. For instance, my dad once saw a car containing a guy and a dog, and said it initially looked like a man with a dog's head driving a car, so there was going to be a dog-headed man on this planet. Other characters I remember dreaming up included a lung-fish, a man made of gold who was an expert on treasures, an elephant who led the military for the great walled nation of Kooska, and Crud Copy. This latter character was an inside joke that I don't think anyone else on the inside would have gotten. When I was a kid, I was in my school district's gifted program, which was called DEEP. When I was in third or fourth grade, my DEEP class had a newsletter called "DEEP News," and every week someone would help the teacher make it. When I was one of the people helping out, he said we could keep what he called "the crud copies," a term that I found really amusing for some reason. (Honestly, I still kind of like it.) The logo for the newsletter was an eagle with a speech balloon containing the letter's name, so, as a joke, I drew a poorly-conceived bird saying, "Crud Copy." Later, I decided that this bird should be NAMED Crud Copy, but I don't remember too much else about the character, other than that he was always nibbling on his own furniture.

Nvxton was the setting of a story I wrote in sixth grade. I had to write a Christmas story, and I liked writing about alien worlds, so I came up with "Christmas on Nvxton." Why this alien civilization would celebrate a holiday with the same name as one of ours presumably wasn't something I considered. Anyway, in order to celebrate this holiday, the King of Nvxton built an amusement park, but it ended up coming to life and terrorizing the planet. I also remember that traditional Christmas foods on this planet included ice cream covered cheese biscuits and something involving algae. When another kid in my class edited the paper, she said that I'd misspelled "biscuits" and "algae," when I'd actually gotten them right.