The one book that every nerd needs to have read – for the sake of their own mental stability

tl;dr: It’s Neverending Story by Michael Ende, a story about the dangers of nerd-dom. No, not the movie. Definitely not the movie.

“Wait”, you say, “Neverending Story? Isn’t that this old movie with crappy special effects about this little Indian kid and a fluffy white dragon?”

Well, yes and no. That movie is an adaptation of a novel by the German author Michael Ende.

“Great,” you say, “I’ll just watch the movie then.”

…oh God, please don’t. The movie does the worst thing any adaptation could possibly do, and completely turns the story on its head.

No, you actually need to read the book.

Let me repeat: if you like stories and fantasy worlds like I do, you need to read this book. It changes your life.

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Pokémon: 7 Genwunner Birthday Wishes

(tl;dr: There are actually things in the first generation of Pokemon games that would improve later generation games)

Over the course of seven generations of epic games, the Pokemon series has changed and, for the most part, improved. New features have been added constantly, some of them so obvious and reasonable that it’s difficult to imagine how we ever lived without them. Like, how did we ever not breed the damn things? You younger kids, do you realize that if you wanted to complete the dex in generation one you had to get two starters from someone else? Someone else had to start over an entire game (and save it!) to give you a Bulbasaur if you wanted one. And then give you their starter before it ever evolved. In practice, obviously, you had to do this with additional copies of the game that you only used for this purpose, but having several copies of the same game, let alone two game boys, was a real luxury for us.

Now, before I go off on a rant about how hard life was in the trenches of the 1990s, let me just summarize: it is a blessing we no longer have to deal with some of the shit mechanics generation one used, and new graphics and sound are a gift from Arceus (remember the sprites in Gen One? Horrifying.).

However, despite the abundance of new features that were added, there is also a distinct list of old features that were lost over time. I’m sure we agree that many of these deserved to be scrapped (musicals, anyone?), but I am here to defend the point that some of them didn’t.

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The mysterious case of Middle-Earth’s self-cloning horses

(tl;dr: a list of the ten named horses in the Lord of the Rings, and the one unsurprising feature they all have in common)

Since the members of the fellowship of the ring travel mostly on foot, horses are relatively rare in the Lord of the Rings novels. A few do appear, however, especially once the story reaches Rohan. I tried to come up with a complete list of all the named horses in the entire LOTR, and I can count all of ten:

Tom Bombadil’s Fatty Lumpkin that Merry’s four ponies befriend and eventually escape to.

Bill, the starving pony named after Bill Farthing.

Asfaloth, Glorfindel’s horse that saves Frodo on the way to the Bruinen ford.

Shadowfax, who probably doesn’t need an intro.

Snowmane, Theoden’s horse that ends up accidentally killing him.

Hasufel & Arod, the two steeds Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are given by Eomer.

Roheryn, Aragorn’s own horse brought back to him by the Rangers.

Stybba, a pony given to Merry by Theoden.

Windfola, Dernhelm’s horse.

So, as the click-bait title implies – what do all of these have in common?

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Pokémon: Gotta Bash Them All!

(tl;dr: Make collecting great again! Why is Pokemon only about battling these days?)

In an analysis titled The Unfulfilled Potential of Video Games, the awesome Youtube channel Pop Culture Detective explores the range of current video games and finds that there are hardly any games left that do not have combat as their main theme. Even RPGs and cartoonish Nintendo games use combat as the dominant method of conflict resolution and advancing plots.

This reminded me of something that has been bugging me about one of my favorite gaming series of all time: Pokemon.

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Making a case for: Dragon Ball GT

(tl;dr: GT has a bad rep but actually provided the well-rounded ending that the series had lacked)

After eleven years of drawing the Dragon Ball manga, Akira Toriyama decided he’d had enough of constantly-resurrected flying supermen saving the world from strangely colored bad guys. He finished the Boo saga, attached a short epilogue, and the series ended with Goku flying off to train Uub and a helpful little note to tell the readers that the story was over now.

Thus ended Dragon Ball, or DBZ in the anime.

But due to its relentlessly devoted fanbase and the resulting fact that more money could be squeezed out of the franchise, it later received a sequel called Dragon Ball GT. This follow-up, like the DB movies, has been lapped up by fans thirsty for more spiky-haired muscle machines, but doesn’t enjoy their full appreciation – maybe because, like the DB movies, it was created with the blessing but without the involvement of Akira Toriyama himself. It’s been called stupid, exaggerated or juvenile (which is saying something considering the other parts of the series). Fans have criticized the character design (no arguments there), the disregard for side characters (nor there, either) and the deep dark plot holes (nope, no arguments). Interestingly, some fans think everyone is ridiculously overpowered, others think the characters have become ridiculously weak – and the sad thing is, due to the messed-up GT power relations, both of them have a point…

And now I am here to tell you that GT is not only a valuable addition to Dragon Ball, but even a necessary one from a story-telling point of view. (“What?! First the worst episodes of Star Wars, now the worst part of Dragon Ball? God, this blog is going to shit…”).

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Understanding Harry Potter: Language and the educational choices of Victor Krum

(tl;dr: Respect for foreign(ers and their) languages has no place at all in wizarding Britain. Featuring Krum, tweezers and giants.)

After my post on racist and deplorable simplifying attitudes in the Harry Potter series here, I would like to go more in depth on one topic in particular (or, in other words, this half of the rant didn’t fit into the first post anymore). This topic is education and language. Shut up, that is one topic.

Let’s start with a question that may seem irrelevant but is symbolic for the stupidity of the attitude towards Europe presented in the series: why oh why does Krum go to Durmstrang? Read More

Peeves’ Pets: Voldemort’s Wand

(tl;dr: Pretty sure this is a gaping plothole that annoys more people than just me)

As well thought out as the Harry Potter books are, with most loose ends tied up very neatly, there are still some plotholes to spot if you take a careful look. And since I spend my days doing nothing but taking careful looks at books I’ve read a hundred times, these holes tend to bug me more and more as time goes by.

Some of these are well-known and have become a standing joke among fans – Peter Pettigrew and the Weasley twins, for example. If Fred and George have had the Marauder’s Map for years (btw: how exactly did they figure out the specific words you had to say to activate it? Or do they randomly “solemnly swear they are up to no good” on a daily basis?), how did they miss the fact that Ron’s rat kept showing up under the name of Peter Pettigrew? Or did they just not care that this stranger shared a common room with them and a bed with their brother?

Those are small details that don’t really bother me since the overall story continues to make sense (side note: the setting makes no sense at all, but that is a story for another day). Even the logical flaws in the Goblet of Fire I can tolerate. However, there is one thing that I keep thinking about, trying to find the solution that I’m apparently missing, and I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere else.

And that is the fate of Voldemort’s wand. Read More

Peeves’ Pets: Yardrat

(tl;dr: A post about the plot of Dragon Ball that consists mainly of unanswered questions.)

On this episode of Peeves’ Pets, a.k.a. small things I like to complain about, I want to address the plot holes in Dragon Ball.

Unlike plot holes in other fandoms, which are mainly unexplained details you can find if you squint, Dragon Ball simply leaves whole parts of its plot completely blank. There is a time skip and the story goes on – which would be fine, but everything that happened in the mean time is briefly skirted over and then simply never addressed again.

Case in point: After Goku miraculously escapes from planet Namek before it explodes, he finds refuge on a planet called Yardrat. Where people wear wide cuffs and have taught him the Instant Transmission technique.

And this is all we know. Literally.

About an alien planet where our main character spent an entire year.

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Understanding the Lord of the Rings: Eagles – if all else fails

(tl;dr: plothole shmothole; eagles are a symbol for divine intervention)

Probably the most heated discussion among (pseudo- and real) Tolkien fans is the apparent plot hole of the eagles in the Lord of the Rings novel. If the eagles are so helpful, people say, why not just fly over to Mordor, possibly coming in from the less protected East side of the country, and drop the stupid ring right into the volcano? Defenders then go on to say that eagles are really powerful and dignified beings, and you can’t just use them like that – which is true but seems like a pretty thin argument, considering the eagles did help both Thorin’s group of dwarves and later Gandalf by carrying them on their back. And then, there is the abominable theory that Gandalf wanted to use the eagles all along, and that his plea “fly, you fools” was a hidden message… yeah… sure. Because Tolkien literature is that crude. Read More

Underrated: A Series of Unfortunate Events

(tl;dr: awesome piece(s) of postmodern literature, not only for kids)

In honor of the upcoming Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (pleasedon’tsuckpleasedon’tsuckpleasedon’tsuckbtwareyousupposedtoaddapostrophesinthesethings?), I’m going to introduce this wonderful series of books to those of you who may not know it yet, and just do a little advertising for one of my favorite series of all time. Read More