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Frozen Friday: One Year Later

Wednesday marked Frozen‘s Paper Anniversary.  It’s been with us a year now and local stores finally have some merchandise now and then.  We’ve only been fans for about half that time and yet it somehow seems much, much longer.


For the anniversary, Disney made us something.  They’re releasing, “for an extremely limited time,” a sing-along dvd edition for the holiday season.  All of the songs are accompanied by their lyrics with time marked by a bouncing snowflake.  So, if you still don’t know the words to the ice harvesters’ “Frozen Heart,” here’s your chance to learn them.

In return, they’d like some of your paper.

The sing-along premiered Monday at London’s Royal Albert Hall with three showings.  More than two hundred choralists lead thousand strong crowds through “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” “For the First Time in Forever,” and all the rest.

The Telegraph posted a review of the final show along with a video of the crowd’s rapturous rendition of the unstoppable juggernaut “Let it Go.”  It’s really quite something to hear so many people, children and adults, coming together over a song I’d have no relationship to if not for my toddler.


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Book Review – Willful Child

Willful Child by Steven Erickson

Willful Child

These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the…

And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space.’

The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.

So, this is my first Steven Erickson novel.  He’s a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and the author of the bestselling ten volume Malazan Book of the Fallen, a complex and controversial epic fantasy; the kind of series that’s hard to get into at first and incomparable once you’ve finished.  When I got the opportunity to read something shorter, I figured it’d be a good barometer.

It’s probably not.  Willful Child is a tongue in cheek parody of Star Trek that shines a harsh light on the entire history of the franchise and its fandom.  The title is simultaneously the name of the ship and a description of the protagonist Hadrian Allen Sawback, cut from the same cloth as one James Tiberius Kirk.  He’s the kind of manly misogynist you’ll hate to love as his unbridled exuberance and unflagging confidence propel his ship into episodic mayhem.

I’ll admit that my affection for Trek has slipped the surly bonds of canon from time to time. Thise fanciful forays were often disappointing because they lacked any real affection for the source material. That isn’t the case here.  While skewering the photogenic bridge crew, the breathlessness of the episodic action, and the unfortunate socioeconomic political landscape of a colonial navy, Erickson finds and nurtures the beating heart beneath.

It’s not all fun and games, though.  The book, at least the beginning, is almost unbearably sexist. Given the source material, it can’t be avoided.  But readers should go in knowing what’s coming. There’s a decent amount of self aware commentary on that as the story progresses, but it never disappears entirely.

Instead, the narrative is clever enough to work the reader into the, well, show, for lack of a better word.  Just like the caricatures and melodrama of television often lull us into sympathy, so does Willful Child.  That is a pretty neat trick.

This is definitely a book for Trek fans.  There’s joy in recognizing the obvious parallels and delight in the subtler ones.  It also has something to offer folks who just want a good laugh at the expense of space opera or scifi television generally.

Recommended for Zapp Brannigan, Malcolm Reynolds, and Kathryn Janeway.



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Lessons of the Wolf (of Wall Street), a Video Essay

I always have my ear to the tracks to pick up the sounds of oncoming film analysis in the easy to digest package of video essay. Most are under 10 minutes long–easy for YouTube upload and a short attention span. But some films deserve much, much more. Martin Scorsese’s divisive The Wolf of Wall Street is one such film.

The Wolf of Wall Street

I am grateful to discover, then, that Milad Tangshir has constructed a deep look at Wolf, building off of the analysis offered by David Bordwell in essay form, comparing with the cinematics and themes of many of Scorcese’s other works as well as classics like Citizen Kane, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and Psycho, and excerpting multiple interviews with Scorcese and his partners-in-filmmaking. Tangshir’s look is a full 30 minutes, allowing it to analyze the narration, the 5-part plot structure, cinematic structure, controversy, and theme.

I find myself especially grateful because the original blog posts by David Bordwell ran a bit over my head. Having Tangshir’s edit of visuals, both from Wolf and other complimentary films, to help explain the concepts apparently makes all the difference. The original essays Tangshir used as research for his piece can be found at David Bordwell’s site: “Understanding Film Narrative: The Trailer” and “Scorcese, ‘Pressionist”

This is Tangshir’s graduate thesis, and it shows the well-considered research and deep study of a graduate thesis while still being easy to take in and digest for a wide audience.

Highly recommended for fans of Scorcese, anyone who walked out of Wolf not sure what they thought of it, or those attempting to learn more about visual storytelling in film.

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Early Observations About “Smash the Mirror”

There’s something for everyone.  There are games and rock operas.  And Outlaw Queen shippers activate chakras.

Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.”

The Who’s Tommy “Smash the Mirror”

You don’t answer my call
With even a nod or a wink
But you gaze at your own reflection, all that
You don’t seem to see me
But I think you can see yourself
How does the mirror affect you?

Can you hear me
Or do I surmise?
That you fear me
Can you feel my temper
Rise, rise, rise, rise, rise, rise
Rise, rise, rise, rise, rise, rise

Do you see or hear or
Do I smash the mirror?
Do you hear of fear or
Do I smash the mirror?

Star Wars



“For the First Time in Forever” Chocolates

I wanna stuff some chocolate in my face

Elsa orders a coronation worthy dessert table to welcome her sister home.

“Let it go!”

While they reconnoiter the dusty room in the East Wing, we’re reminded that the past, well, “It’s in the past.”

Anna’s manacles attached to the floor in the dungeon are similar to the ones that held Elsa in Frozen, though they don’t entirely enclose her hands.


Speaking of hands…

Elsa’s wearing her gloves from the movie, and they’re Ingrid’s from last episode.  The gloves haven’t been part of the Arendelle scenes before, but they feature in Storybrooke in the deleted scene ABC released; so their prominence makes a little more sense in that context.

LiG sub

While Anna and Elsa are sneaking around, plotting to trap the Snow Queen, the elder sister halts in reverie before the painting of their parents. The music that plays in the background draws heavily from “Let it Go.” Knowing what she now knows about their intentions in Misthaven, Elsa has to come to terms with that.  The music is a nice touch.

After Anna’s captured Elsa in the urn, she snaps out of her trolden funk with a classic, “Wait… What?

And at the end Emma creates an Aurora…

The Magic Kingdom

…that morphs into fireworks.



A DEnchantedisney-esque princess travels through a portal from fairyland into the big city.

Both Ingrid and Giselle enter in full fancy dress.




It’s 1982, and this foam rubber and computer animated classic is in the theaters.  Hopefully Ingrid chose to chill with one of the most fascinating movies of the decade before setting up her foster home.

Kingdom HeartsKingdom Hearts

Okay, I suppose I have to admit that this might be a bit of a stretch.

There’s plenty of portal fiction to draw from with homeless doors sitting in lonely landscapes.  The Dark Tower and The Chronicles of Narnia both come easily to mind.

But the darkness of the cave and the absurdity of the door’s colors and patterns, despite being kind of Arenedellian seem like an intentional and intentionally cartoony reference.  And the conceit of the game, a mash up of all the company’s trademarks adventuring together really makes it seem like this is what they were pointing to.




Every instance of the hat technically counts, but we got a very good look at the colors going on inside it and stretching out from it.  I gotta say it looks a lot like some of the frames from “Night On Bald Mountain.”  I wonder if we’ll see Chernabog.

Bald Mt

BackCat Hat in our post about “Family Business,” I made a quip about the cat with the hat, referring to Rumple.  I even wondered if something like, “A lot of good tricks. / I will show them to you. / Your mother / Will not mind at all if I do.” could be teased out, but it felt like I was going to far. But, but, but:

“My tricks are not bad,” said The Cat in the Hat.

Paradise Lost

One of the Charming parents is in dark grey at all times now.  And they keep letting their judgement be clouded by rationalization and negativity.

This evil from good theme is so deeply interwoven by now that it’s getting difficult to tease out individual threads.  Mary Margaret blurred the line between grace and indecency during her pep talk with Regina.  Robin’s code is nowhere to be found.  Henry ended up injured for trying to help.  Rumple’s using an artifact that was only attainable via an act of goodwill for the most dire of purposes.  Hook’s love for Emma has been subverted.  And the Arendelle parallel was the perversion of Anna’s (apparently not so) indomitable optimism.

Marvel Comics

Regina and Henry read Wolverine and Hulk comics while they avoid talking about Emma.

Once Upon a Time

Henry was first seen reading Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk in 1×09 “True North

Page XXIII of (which might also be a Lost reference) of the Once Upon a Time book depicts the scene from 3×03 “Quite a Common Fairy” where Regina walks away from true love.

The shard of mirror Ingrid uses to cast Shattered Sight on Anna is exactly the same shape as the piece she was missing in 4×05 “Breaking Glass

Shattered Sight 2

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Will: “She’s really something, all right. If evil queens are your type.  Which I get.”

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

Outlaw Queen

This is the best Outlaw Queen episode ever.

  • outlawqueensmoochRegina’s getting her shoes on. Robin walks in half dressed. Robin: “That was the best…sleep…I’ve had in a very long time. How would you like to come back to my camp and let me cook you breakfast?” She remains all dour about their chances to find a happy ending. He finally makes her smile. Robin: “There’s that satisfying but elusive smile I think about every time I close my eyes.” Regina: “I should have listened to that stupid fairy.”
  • She shows the book to Robin, a sign of trust. Her admittance of failure a sign of vulnerability. They do it again on outlaw logic.
  • Robin goes to Will for help. Will’s answer: Under the magical clocktower? “A libe’ry.” Wherein Robin magically finds alternate page XXIII in his satchel, depicting the meeting that Tinkerbell attempted to make happen but that Regina walked away from.
  • Robin shows her the new page and she starts to believe what Mary Margaret said, that she just has to believe grace is there for her if she makes good decisions rather than evil ones. Robin: “I take it as a sign. Hope.”


Captain Swan

I can’t help but be a little perturbed that Robin and Regina got to have the sex (twice!) before Hook and Emma even got to second base.

  • Hook spends much of the first part of the episode looking very, very worried. Until, of course, he realizes that she’s going to use the hat, and has “trusted the crocodile.” Nice moment: he calls himself Killian on her voice mail.
  • hookpainHook, desperate to save Emma, finally comes clean on her voice mail. “I wanted to be a better man for you, Swan. But I failed… I hope you never forgive because that means you’ll have got this in time to save yourself.”
  • Gold: “Don’t worry. You’ll get over her. Just like you did Mila. That only took how many centuries?”
  • Hook gets his heart ripped out by Rumple. Afterwards, he runs in to find Emma, the look of concern and the knowledge of his own corruption and demise all over his face and actions. Emma, being the lukewarm fish she is, pulls away from his kiss. Emma: “Easy tiger, we’ve got company. I didn’t realize you were such a fan of my magic.” Hook: “Why would you say that, Swan? I’m a fan of every part of you.” Emma: “If you look at me any harder, you’re going to drill a hole in my head.”
  • Unfortunately, no one is ever going to notice that Hook has his heart ripped out, because it becomes ever clearer that there is a love imbalance in the Captain Swan pairing. Hook has far more attention and care for Emma than vice versa. For instance, after Hook and Emma are reunited at the end of the episode, she fails to notice that he doesn’t leave the house with them to be together and enjoy the fireworks. The least the writers could have to done was tag it with some line about him needing to use the “head” or something.

Emma/Elsa = Ice Swan?double-swans

Ingrid: “They really are quite wonderful together…”

  • Elsa saves Emma from giving up her powers, being the one who understands her and is willing to risk her life to save her. Their hands touching make the “true love’s kiss” light show and cures Emma of her overclocked power. There are fireworks.


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Graphic Novel Review: Strong Female Protagonist Book One

Strong Female Protagonist: Book One by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag available November 25th


With superstrength and invulnerability, Alison Green used to be one of the most powerful superheroes around.

Fighting crime with other teenagers under the alter ego Mega Girl was fun — until an encounter with Menace, her mind-reading arch enemy, showed her evidence of a sinister conspiracy, and suddenly battling giant robots didn’t seem so important.

Now Alison is going to college and trying to find ways to help the world while still getting to class on time. It’s impossible to escape the past, however, and everyone has their own idea of what it means to be a hero….

After a phenomenal success on Kickstarter, Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag bring their popular webcomic into print, collecting the first four issues, as well as some all-new, full-color pages!

I love Strong Female Protagonist. I’ve been reading the biweekly pages since almost the beginning. The story of a twenty year old college student that happened to have been the world’s most famous super hero would have been difficult to pass up.  It’s an idea the reconstruction had somehow failed to explore. That that hero was a woman made it impossible.

The first issue was dense, compelling, and emotional right away. It dealt with freshman life, super powered grudges, merchandising, celebrity, the kind of questions Jason Lee asked his dad in Mallrats, heroism, villainy, and identity. Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag had created a vibrant relatable world in shades of gray.

And they didn’t skimp on the superhero action.  The first flashback to Mega Girl’s teenaged superheroics features a battle with giant robots.  They’re no match for someone with autonomic somadynamism.

Did anyone ever say you hit like a girl?  ‘Cause you don’t!

Strong Female Protagonist is a webcomic, which almost always makes some folks wonder why they’d want to buy a print collection.  This same bizarre question gets asked about comic book trades as well.  Having the entire text to hand is incredibly satisfying.  It’s a faster, more coherent, more enjoyable read.  Green has redrawn and colored the chapter title pages and they’ve added a sometimes informational, sometimes clever footnote at the bottom of each page. And, of course, you can loan it to your friends.

I’m pretty sure that’s something you’ll want to do once you’ve read and reread your copy.  The drama, comedy, and tragedy are too much to keep to yourself.

Recommended for fans of Astro City, The First Law, and Once Upon a Time.

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Announcement: Toddler Defeats Once Upon a Time

We typically post some Donaldearly reactions the latest Once episode first thing Monday morning.  This week our observations will go up Tuesday.  While the prospect of a two hour episode was exciting, the lived experience of a toddler needing some extra care took precedence.

Look, ducks!


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Once Upon a Time “Smash the Mirror” Previews and Predictions

Coming Tonight: Once Upon a Time 4×08

CAUTION: promo previews, sneak peeks, & speculations

“Smash the Mirror” In Arendelle, when the Snow Queen tries to pit Elsa and Anna against each other and it proves more difficult than she anticipates, she takes drastic measures. Meanwhile, in Storybrooke Emma’s powers are out of control and her fear of hurting loved ones pushes her away from everyone she cares about. In her confusion, Emma turns to Gold for help getting her powers under control. Gold tells her about a way to get rid of her powers altogether and Hook tries to put a stop to it.  Meanwhile, Regina struggles with her plan to find the author of the storybook until her quest takes an unexpected turn. Robin Hood recruits Will Scarlet to assist him on a mission and Mary Margaret and David search for Emma in this special, two-hour “Once Upon a Time,” written by David H. Goodman and Jerome Schwartz and directed by Eagle Egillson and Ralph Hemecker.

Here’s the promo that aired after last week’s episode:

As usual, two sneak peeks were released for “Smash the Mirror,” despite it being twice as long. In the first, an angry Elsa confronts the imprisoned Anna.

The second, Emma seeks Gold’s assistance in removing her magic.

Surprisingly, I think the promo reveals a lot more than both the sneak peeks put together.  The peeks just flesh out, “Emma turns to Gold for help getting her powers under control. Gold tells her about a way to get rid of her powers altogether,” and, “the Snow Queen tries to pit Elsa and Anna against each other.” Sure, they whet the appetite and show a bit of how those situations start.  But the promo has so much more.

Some of it’s expected: Emma accidentally blasting henry, the ribbons on Ingrid’s bed.  Some of it isn’t.  There’s a lot going on in what we’re still calling “The House of Mouse,” where Rumple and Belle had their honeymoon dance.  Emma and Rumple face off under the chandelier in the ballroom.  Then Emma approaches the door as The Apprentice’s warning, “You have no idea the forces you are dealing with,” plays over the scene.  Finally, Emma and Elsa grasp hands and something we usually only see when she touches Regina happens.



Slipping The Apprentice in there might be nothing more than a clever voiceover, but I think it points to this being part of Rumple’s plan to cleave himself from the wavy knife.  I suppose the sneak peek offers one insight that bears on this.  The spell Rumple presents removes “light magic from those who choose to part with it.”  We’ve seen Emma practice dark magic with Regina in Neverland.  Is that why the Snow Queen isn’t interfering?

The second shock is Anna holding the urn in Arendelle.  Ingrid told Elsa that her sister put her in the urn in the first place, but I still don’t want to believe it.  Once tends to work parallels pretty consistently, though; and since Gerda imprisoned Ingrid, it makes sense.  In the same scene Anna throws the necklace Elsa gave her into the fireplace.  That tells us a lot.  It was taken from her when Ingrid put her in the dungeon.  She gets it back and gets out.  And things go sour between the sisters again.

We also know how the necklace suffered the damage we see in modern day Storybrooke.  I imagine we’ll actually see how both the necklace and the urn come into Rumplestiltskin’s possession in this episode.  Which means we’ll probably see Elsa trapped and some more memory wiping in Arendelle.  Exciting stuff.


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