Korrasami Confirmed

I wanted to write something about this but getting it straight from the author is always better.

Mike DiMartino

Now that Korra and Asami’s final moment is out in the world, it seems like an appropriate time to express how I feel about it. I didn’t want to say anything right away so the audience could experience the finale for themselves.

The main themes of the Avatar universe have always revolved around equality, justice, acceptance, tolerance, and balancing differing worldviews. In subtle and maybe not so subtle ways, Avatar and Legend of Korra have dealt with difficult subjects such as genocide, child abuse, deaths of loved ones, and post traumatic stress. I took it as a complement when Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair called the show subversive. There were times even I was surprised we were able to delve into the really tough stuff on a children’s TV network. While the episodes were never designed to “make a statement”, Bryan and I always strove to treat the more difficult…

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Episode 136: Roy + Laurel = Arsanary

A recent Facebook conversation over what the future holds for the nontitular characters of Arrow led to some interesting speculation. If you haven’t seen the midseason finale there are a few spoilers ahead so beware. Basically, with our protagonist being (temporarily) lost then Roy Harper aka Red Arrow aka Arsenal is going to step up from his sidekick identity and try to become the hero. At the same time we have Laurel, who has been training almost nonstop to avenge her lost sister as she takes the guise of Black Canary in Sarah’s honor. With a direct mission from her mother upon learning the truth, “then you hurt them” this inexperienced vigilante is about to take the streets. With both characters taking the spotlight, the picture below made sense, which of course brought to light the possibility of a relationship. Notwithstanding the age difference, Arsanary was born and thus a cool possible story came to mind.

Arsenary in Action

It’s not so much age as how they compliment each other. I can imagine Roy stepping up during Ollie’s absence and trying to be the hero the city needs. Every so often he is about to get to a crime only to find that the perps are already beat up. A conversation with Diggle leads to them trying to find who this vigilante could be since they don’t want any loose cannons. Roy eventually finds Laurel as Black Canary and tries to stop her from taking things too far. Small fight ensues. Laurel is good but she is nowhere near Arsenal levels of awesomeness. so he subdues the rookie would be heroine. He reveals her name and mission. He says that they should be on the same team but Black Canary refuses. Cat and Mouse, or rather arrow and bird, chases ensue as Roy wants to protect her. She has that passion to do the right thing that he has never really shown, a drive that Oliver has tried to instill in him since day one. He knows the value of teamwork and planning, after a few scrapes where he saves her life.and vice versa, she decides that they should work together, but he refuses to be part of the Arrow team outright because of too many painful memories.

Roy may be younger but he has the skills and knowledge that she needs if she wants to be a hero and so they learn from each other. She wonders if this is what it would be like had the Arrow decided to train her from the beginning. With Ollie, there would always be these trust issues from past tragedies and betrayals that she doesn’t feel towards Roy. Little does she know, that Arsenal is helping her get closer to Merlyn but keeping the information about Thea a secret (the person who maybe under mind control killed Sarah). He still cares for the woman he once loved and wants to save her and the secret will drive a wedge between the Arsanary partnership. During a rainy night on a forgotten rooftop, Black Canary finds Merlyn and some hooded figure and she tells Roy before going in to take the chance before they both get away. Merlyn “suggests” to Thea that she fight this would be foe. During the battle, a flash of lightning reveals Thea’s identity and Laurel finally puts the pieces together and in a rage forgets her training and just goes straight at it. She almost wins until Merlyn intervenes. Roy comes at the last second to save Laurel. At a safe enough distance away. Laurel, takes his bow and aims straight at Thea only for another flash of lightning to reveal that Arsenal is standing in her way. Their targets escape safely as Thea yells at him and the normally calm Roy screams back and leaves her stunned in shock. For the first time, he opens up about the truth and reveals all of the emotions. During an epic stare down, they finally let their guard down in front of each other , remove their masks, and embrace into a passionate kiss.

Now this would be the big moment just before the final commercial break. If you thought your emotions could handle what happened, just wait. Once the show comes back we return to Roy and Laurel walking around the secret HQ. Roy finishes giving the impromptu tour as Laurel says something to the degree of “I can see why you guys always hang out here at the arrow cave.” Roy responds with something like: “You know, Oliver hates it when we call it that.” Then a figure emerges from the dark corner, saying “I don’t know, it has a nice ring to it.” The familiar voice is indeed Ollie as he limps into the light with a lot of bandages still on most of his torso but with his coy smile. This is the first time he has been seen since in the show since the duel so the feels are now up to 11. “You will not believe, what’ I’ve been through.” Cut to credits and next week’s promo full of flashback goodness.

From Imagination to Creation: How Popular Culture Redefines and Restructures Our Reality

Call for papers

From Imagination to Creation:

How Popular Culture Redefines and Restructures Our Reality

(Friday, March 13- Saturday, March 14, 2015)

The notion that art reflects life and vice versa is constantly reshaping how we see meaning. Does fiction react to real life events or does the fantastic acclimate people towards change? This recursive cycle of influence dates back to the dawn of literature and is seen today through the lens of popular culture. While the news informs what the world is; films, television, comics, and books show the world as it could be. Whether it be Star Trek showing a post-racial future or the new Captain America showcasing what happens when drones are taken to the their illogical extreme, popular cultures shifts perspectives in many ways. Conversations at the local, national, and global scale use examples of one to explain the other, and we want your voice to be included The English Department of the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus and the Popular Culture Student Association (PCSA) invite you to share your scholarly research and works at their first Popular Culture Conference in Puerto Rico. We invite students from all departments within the UPR system ranging from freshmen to graduate students, professors and independent researchers to submit proposals that address these issues. Possible areas include but are not limited to:

  • Language/Linguistics and Pop Culture
  • Literature
  • Film and Television
  • Comics and Manga
  • Video Games
  • Race, Gender, and Class
  • Science Fiction
  • Pedagogy and Pop Culture in the Classroom
  • Music

Submission Directions: We are accepting submissions for individual papers, panel proposals, round table discussions, workshops, and poster presentations. Please submit all abstracts and proposals of 200-250 words, as well as the required contact and biographical information to pcsarum@gmail.com

Deadline for receipt of proposals is December 30th. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by January 31st.



Episode 135: Reverse Flash Origin Speculation

I’m a big fan of Flash and the CW show is awesomesauce and a half.They’ve been doing some good things, especially with putting Reverse Flash as a key antagonist even in the origin story of the scarlet speedster. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this villain and tonight’s episode might ruin my current theory so I might as well post my thoughts on it now rather than later. Craziness based entirely on my own imagination follows, consider yourselves warned.

According to future newspaper, Barry/Flash disappears in around ten years. In that time he becomes a great hero but he still has a few enemies and people who don’t like him. In my version, and again I emphasize that this is my crazy imagination/speculative superpower that has come up with this plotline, big things are going to happen. Prior to the to the future disappearance, something happens to Eddie, Iris blames Flash for not saving him, he confesses that he is indeed the speedster she once loved but the revelation just separates them even further. At this point, she’s pregnant with Eddie’s child and definitely wants to stay away from all the danger so she leaves the city.

Ultimately, she returns years later with her son Wally West, who at a young age starts to develop speedster powers. Iris knows that these powers are a curse and shuns him like an X Men foster kid. (As for why he was powers, I’m guessing Barry saved the kid or Iris while she was pregnant during a huge electrical storm, lightning passed through him and thus into Wally, replicating the connection to the Speed Force). Flash disappears into the future/past/alternate dimension which leaves the city without a hero and even more metahumans popping in and out. The little boy who has heard the heroic clamors of the Flash echo even as his mother disparages that which makes him different, decides to take up the mantle and the city rejoices as this new Kid Flash has come to be a new savior. However, His connection to the speed force is minimal, sure he’s fast but nowhere near Scarlet Speedster levels. He can barely slow down all the bad guys who keep popping up (think future Trunks vs the Androids before all the time travel). Wally is forced to grow up too fast and has too much responsibility thrust upon him without any of the praises that would make it all worth it. The one person who knows his secret, his own mother basically says “I told you so” to any complaints or cries for help. Years, go by and he gets better, way better but he ca’t shake off the “Kid Flash” moniker. He grows to despise his heroic heritage, his responsibilities, and the city itself.

In the process, he learns what happened to The Flash and decides to replicate the event to bring him back so he can finally retire and give the care of the city back to him. However, the same thing happens and he gets lost in the speed force. Luckily, he had a device that could bring him back but it malfunctions. He pops in different times Quantum Leap style, each time trying to return to the speed force. His healing factor doesn’t let him age so he is effectively trapped for years as he slowly loses his mind. Wally eventually pops up in the distant future, where Flash is still the great hero and he has been forgotten. His psyche finally snaps and he thus becomes the Reverse Flash, wishing to not only undo the original’s legacy, but also his existence. Wally is able to figure out a way to jump into the Speed Force and appear in the past. He goes back to kill Barry’s mom but then zips him out to cast doubt and torture the crap out of him. He pulls an incredible Batman style gambit by threatening to kill his own mom to make sure that his grandfather would come to doubt in the Flash as well and that any kind of help would bring about something terrible. And now he will pop in one more time to tell Flash the one thing he fears most: “You’re too slow” as he shows him what true power really is.

Episode 134: In Remembrance

Over the last few months if you’ve been paying attention to my posts/stalking me then you’ve probably noticed that things have been off with me. At first glance you could imagine that I had a tough time writing, was a little overwhelmed with teaching, or that a pretty girl wasn’t talking to me. While it was business as usual for most things, the situation in my life was in the midst of a big change as my family’s focus was shifting rapidly to someone whose time was running out.

Loss is something that we all experience. It’s a fact of life. Over a year and a half ago my maternal grandmother passed away. I revisited my previous blog post going over those emotions as my family and I face a new test of wills (if you want to go through that whirlwind flashback of feels here you go). My paternal grandfather is no longer with us. It’s been a week since that moment and I feel that if I don’t write this down now then I’m not sure when this will whenever get written. This is not the raw despair I felt last time, maybe it is because of that previous experience, maybe because I was more present this time, maybe it’s something completely different that I can’t explain but maybe I can figure out while writing this.

Grandpa Mariano, aka Nano is the prototypical grandpa figure. A few months ago I mentioned to a cousin how he was looking more and more like the old guy from Up which was this weird realization of “awwwww” and “oh…” The man used  catch phrases at regular intervals which for a while used to drive me up the wall but I must admit that I’m gonna miss. That and his violin playing for every birthday is going to be strangely absent for all us grandkids. It’s always been Nano and grandma, married for over 62 years, raised four kids through adventures in Columbia as he ran a sugar cane processing plant before returning to their hometown back in Puerto Rico to still be an engineer with way too many ranks in appraise, and a penchant for taking pictures of everyone, especially a photo or two when you were dozing off after a big meal. Grandpa had an eye to figure out value and if you didn’t see it he could take a picture of it, not as the front we show with our planned smiles but in our unguarded moments that feel so fleeting. He captured these memories like a Pokemon Snap perfectionist and he then gave you the shot. I’m sure that he kept the local photo developing place in business single-handedly even as the world transitioned to digital cameras. He did get a digital one and that just turned into constant pilgrimages to the local Walgreens to develop pictures to keep sharing what he saw. I hope that I inherited that vision for my own forms of analyzing stories and speculating on what can happen next.

Throughout the years, grandpa’s health was declining in ways that could be expected. The stairs were getting to be too much so he moved with grandma to a nearby single story house. His reaction time was slowing down so after a bit of spirited debate, he stopped driving. He started using a cane but never really relied on it. Over time the pangs of age translated into an accumulation of “ácido viejúrico” as he would call it. The loose translation would be geriatric acid but that doesn’t do the term justice. He was getting slower but that was nature and it was expected. But what happened next was also nature but it caught us by surprise.

You see, like every Romaguera, my grandfather had a pretty voracious appetite. Plates that were even a challenge for me he could scarf down in an impressive manner. But then a few months ago he suddenly wasn’t that hungry. The man was diabetic so I thought he was just being more responsible with his food intake. But then the leftovers portions were getting bigger and so too were our worries. Tests were made, doctors were visited, family was called. To make a long diagnosis short, the treatment would be extensive and ultimately deemed to be not worth the sacrifice of quality of life for whatever time he had left. That realization was like a punch to all of our stomachs, a heavy blow of a harsh reality. Still, this was not the time to spread despair of falling skies and woe. As grandpa said almost to the dear end when asked how he was feeling, “aqui en la lucha” (here in the fight). And so, we were there in the fight, knowing what the outcome of the battle would be but we faced together as a daily struggle, not as a dwindling march to the end.

The changes in his condition were swift but each one gave just enough time for us to adapt accordingly. Over the space of less than two months he shifted from occasional cane, to necessary walker, then wheelchair, then mostly in the house but with kinda the power to move from wheelchair to his favorite recliner, and then to being in bed. I’m sure that I could theoretically help lift him out of the bed but the nurses advised that the strength to do so could easily injure him in his frail state. Nothing worse than being bedridden except for that with some cracked ribs so we went with caution. Luckily, my uncle and aunt basically moved back into the house from far away to help with everything as things were looking extra grim. He was the handyman of grandpa’s four kids and thus the only one proficient to handle a lot of the changes that needed to be done. As the only grandkid around I became an assistant of the “please explain everything, I know less than John Snow” variety. Still, I helped and we changed the layout of the house slightly to make  things more accessible.

There were changes, perhaps the biggest one was the choice of getting grandpa into hospice care. If things got bad there would be no hospital this time. It was a lesson we learned from grandma, the doctors there are there to keep you alive. If your breathing shortens or your heart rate goes down then they are there to bring it back to normal. The ensuing process becomes extended and you can’t very well get them out of the hospital at that time. Part of the awareness of grandpa’s situation was that no ambulance coming. Nurses and doctors would come to help and ease the transition (for the patient and for the family), nothing more.

During the last few days, I held his hand and witnessed how his grip became weaker and his warmth diminished. For a long time I wanted to do something to ease whatever pain he was in. Maybe something to liven his spirits. But as time went on I realized he didn’t need saving. This was a part of life. There is a safety that comes with distance when facing death. You don’t go through all the logistics and changes, you just hear the reports. Proximity on the other hand leads to grim realities and doing all of the hard work but in the end it leads to a sense of ease. In the end, grandpa led an amazing life and he left it surrounded by loved ones. My grandmother had been praying for a long time to St. Joseph, patron of good deaths as she would say, so that he would leave us peacefully and so he did. Like a candle, his light grew dimmer as we realized that it was no longer shining. It was tough but the family has been at peace fairly consistently during the ordeal. We have cried as we should but we kept going on. Hell I even went to teach the next day and didn’t even break down.

Luckily, no one else was being observed at the funeral home because that place was packed. Grandpa and grandma always took care to visit and give condolences to people during their tough times in that long life a lot of people wanted to return the favor. Over the past few days a lot of people have been saying “sorry for your loss”, people I have never met before and may never see again but they wanted to share that emotion. The only response I can really come up with is some utterance of appreciation. One week later and I am still strangely fine, maybe I’ll break down soon enough. Maybe not. It’s a weird feeling as I catch myself calling the place grandma and grandpa’s house. We are changing our definition of normal, especially as we help grandma get through not having the man that was always next to her physically nearby. It’s tough, but we’re here, en la lucha.

RIP Nano