May 25th, 2009

wart

Twitterpated

  • 04:11 I should probably go to bed. I might play Dragon Quest V for a little while first, though. #
  • 15:03 bit.ly/BRRjE
    Laptops for women! (Man, I hate gender-specific marketing.) #
  • 15:04 Boys, don't never, but never, make fun of no cripples. #
  • 15:07 Hey, more gender-specific marketing! bit.ly/GurZT #
  • 23:45 @TheRealTavie Didn't it basically come into being because people got tired of using I as both a vowel and a consonant? #
  • 23:45 @TheRealTavie Oh, and I don't think it's quite as weird as W or Y. #
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Woozy

The Rebellious Dragon

Today's Oz character of focus is the dragon Quox, the Great Jinjin's Instrument of Vengeance in Tik-Tok of Oz. Dragons (or, more specifically, dragonettes) first appear in the Oz series in Dorothy and the Wizard, and make other appearances after that, but Quox is probably the dragon with the largest role. He comes from a land on the other side of the world from Oz, where dragons originated. At the time of the story, Quox is about a week shy of his 3056th birthday [1], which makes him more or less a teenager by dragon standards. As such, he lacks the respect for which most dragons are known, and had been insulting to his famous ancestor, the Original Dragon. [2] The Jinjin punishes Quox by making him travel to the Nome Kingdom and dethrone King Ruggedo.

L. Frank Baum uses Quox to detail the role of dragons in his fantasy universe. It's suggested that dragons are typically good and noble by nature, and it's misunderstandings by humans that cause the two groups to be at odds in much of the world. Baum's dragons also have fire inside of them, which keeps them alive. I'm not sure how well this fits in with the dragon of Spor from The Enchanted Island of Yew, who keeps on living when his flame is extinguished, but perhaps there are extenuating circumstances.

So where did the idea for Quox come from? Well, it's pretty common knowledge that Tik-Tok was a play before it was a book, and I believe that performances of Wagner's Ring Cycle in Baum's time often used a mechanical dragon for Fafnir. It's possible that Baum wanted to use this same device in his own play, but realized it wouldn't be practical, and later wrote the intended dragon character into the book version.

I often like to look up the names of Oz characters to see if they've been used in any other context, and I found a few uses of the word "quox" that have no obvious connection to dragons:

  • A computer virus, described as "a reasonably simple diskette and Master Boot Record infector." I've known some Oz fans to blame the old Nome King for computer troubles, so maybe he created this virus, and named it after the creature who drove him out of his own kingdom. {g}
  • Quox-1, a gene found in embryonic quails. (Does this mean that quails and dragons are related? If so, that could be bad news for Dick Cheney!)
  • Quox & Huong, a restaurant in New York's Chinatown.
  • According to the Urban Dictionary, it's also "[a] word describing a certain state of confusion."


Also, in a usage that IS Oz-related, Gregory Maguire identifies Quox as one of the countries bordering Oz in his own books. I have to wonder if Maguire got the name of the dragon confused with Quok, the setting of one of Baum's short stories.

[1] Quox tells his companions, "Mother was going to make me a birthday cake with three thousand and fifty-six candles on it." I wonder if dragon birthday celebrations involve trying to light all of the candles, rather than blowing them out.
[2] The Original Dragon has no name in Baum's work, but Onyx Madden's Mysterious Chronicles calls him Skanderbeg.
wart

Trek to Star-pidity

So, I finally saw the new Star Trek movie today, with bethje and Uncle John. I have to wonder what the point was of the alternate universe thing. I mean, I'm no expert on Trek continuity anyway, and I'm sure it's been changed somewhat over time anyway. (Didn't Gene Roddenberry's original back story have interstellar flight occurring prior to what's now the present?) Really, I think there's a certain amount of ego involved in deciding you're going to rewrite an already established canon, isn't there? It's not like there aren't already enough incarnations of Star Trek to work with. Was there any particular reason why they couldn't just make a straight prequel? That said, I quite enjoyed the movie. It was a good story, largely focused on showing us earlier versions of established characters, and it had plenty of amusing parts. So, yeah. I recommend the movie itself, but I'm not sure I understand the need for an alternate-reality Star Trek.

Really, though, I guess alternate takes on established franchises are all the rage nowadays. The previews before the film included one for the live-action G.I. Joe movie, and another for a second live-action Transformers flick. Strange that we have yet to see a modern live-action take on Thundercats or Rainbow Brite, but they're probably coming soon. Can't we just let eighties cartoons lie, or at least bring them back AS cartoons?