Friday, March 30, 2012

Transformers Feature: Reveal the Shield Special Ops Jazz

A couple of weeks ago, I featured a toy from the Reveal the Shield line without really getting into what the Reveal the Shield line was all about. There's really not much to tell. Reveal the Shield was something of a filler line between the line dedicated to toys related to the second live-action Transformers film and the then-still-upcoming line dedicated to the third. Its main gimmick was a return to using heat-sensitive rubsigns such as had been used back in Generation One and a few times since. This time, instead of being some kind of mark of "authenticity," the nominal idea was that you didn't know what faction the character was aligned with until you rubbed the heat-sensitive sticker revealing the faction symbol.

Yes, this was arguably the worst-kept secret of all time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ratbat: Teaching Kids to Conserve

It's no secret that children's entertainment often incorporates education about important values. This is certainly true today, but it was even true of the shows I grew up with. Some shows were more explicit about this than others. No one had to give themselves a headache wondering what values were behind shows like Captain Planet or The Care Bears, but I doubt anyone was truly surprised when a show like GI Joe offered public service announcements at the end of each cartoon, or when He-Man did much the same thing, with the added bonus of having the lesson be an important plot point of the preceding episode itself. Even shows that weren't quite so over-the-top about teaching life lessons would nonetheless routinely work them into the stories.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Reaching Out to Ex-Evangelicals: A Response to Frank Schaeffer

Church DoorEarlier this month, Frank Schaeffer posted an article commenting on his observations that there are a lot of people out there who, having grown up with evangelical backgrounds, now find themselves disenchanted with that tradition (especially its connection with right-wing politics), and who have left that tradition in search of some other way of living out their faith. Schaeffer further observes that, by and large, these ex-evangelicals are not coming to older mainline churches, despite the fact that (as he puts it) "in terms of world view the older denominations should be a good fit for the progressive former evangelicals." When he has asked if the mainline churches have made any attempts to reach them, the response is usually "no."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Manifold Ministries, Ordained and Otherwise

This picture of my shelf at work, featuring the trolley from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, is one of my favorites, and I've used it both here on the blog and on my Twitter site for some time now. Over the years, I've devoted entries to a couple of the other items visible in this picture: the Transformers M&M's dispenser and the black-and-white Mickey Mouse Transformer. The other item in the picture that's of particular importance to me is the little piece of paper just to the right of the trolley. You can't really tell from the picture (even if you click on it to get a larger version), but that's a quote from The World According to Mister Rogers that I've always felt could have been written especially for me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not-Quite-Transformers Feature: KO Minerva

A few months ago,the folks behind Reprolabels decided to launch an online message board. In order to encourage Transformers fans to give their new board a chance, they offered fans a free set of Minerva and Go-Shooter Reprolabels to anyone who either had the original Japanese exclusive toys (which are notoriously hard to find), or a recently-released knock-off set emulating either toy. I wasn't especially interested in Go-Shooter, but I went ahead with the KO Minerva, since it seems unlikely to me that Takara will ever get around to a proper reissue.

Monday, March 19, 2012

On the Difficulties of Praising God, but not "Him"

For years now, I've kept an informal policy on this blog. When writing about God, I try to avoid using male-specific pronouns such as "he" or "his" in my work. I say that this policy is "informal" not just because I've not made explicit mention of it before now (to the best of my recollection), but because I expect that I slip up every now and again.

I doubt that I'm alone. Last month, when I commented on John Piper's "Masculine Christianity," I suggested that most people—even those who advocate for strict gender roles within Christianity—would not consciously argue for a male God. However, there is little point in denying that if one was asked to draw a picture of God, one would not only draw a male image, but probably one with a flowing white beard. I expect that this is nearly as true for those who are advocates of gender-neutral language as it is for those who see nothing wrong with the usage of "male" terms for God. Although I know that the image of a white-beared male God does not come from the Bible, it is deeply embedded in my understanding of the deity. And if I find it creeping into my consciousness from time to time, it is hardly a surprise that so many others simply take it for granted that God must be male (and certainly not female!), even when and if we know better.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Transformers Feature: Reveal the Shield Windcharger

For anyone who's spent any meaningful amount of time collecting things, it is quickly understood that some items are harder to come by than others. Transformers are certainly no exception. Convention exclusives, "Lucky Draw" toys, items sold only in markets outside of the United States... these are simply an understood part of the hobby. The limited nature of such items means that no one has a 100% "complete" collection. That's not to say that some folks don't come pretty close, of course!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In a World Where Fire Chiefs Drive Lamborghinis...

When quintessential movie trailer voice Don LaFontaine passed away a few years ago, perhaps the single most common thing that was said about him was his penchant for beginning his narratives with the phrase "in a world...". Especially in the science fiction genre, such a phrase helps to set up the important differences between the world of the story and the world in which we all live.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Video Game 30th Anniversary of the Month - Pac-Man (Atari 2600 version)

Although most of these monthly video game features will be about games you would have had to pump quarters into to play, the rise of the home console was an important facet of an earlier generation, as well. And since I can't properly feature Pac-Man's 30th anniversary this year (not that I let it go by completely unnoticed at the appropriate time), celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Atari 2600 home version (which, according to an article in the April 5, 1982 edition of TIME Magazine, came out this very month 30 years ago) seems to be the way to go.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Money's Gotta Circulate!

For years and years, Scrooge McDuck—Donald Duck's uncle and well-established as "the richest duck in the world"—was strictly a comic book character. First introduced at the end of 1947, Scrooge didn't appear in animated form for twenty years (excepting a brief cameo in a crowd of characters as part of the opening of The Mickey Mouse Club in the '50s), until he was used in a 1967 educational short called Scrooge McDuck and Money. It took another 16 years after that for McDuck to to be used again, in 1983's Mickey's Christmas Carol. Finally, in 1987, McDuck showed up in Sport Goofy in Soccermania a few months before the beginning of DuckTales, after which McDuck was finally firmly established as a cartoon character, in addition to being a comic book icon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Mail More Than Once a Day?

USPS-Mail-TruckThere's been a lot of talk for quite some time now about the possibility that the United States Postal Service might stop making home deliveries on Saturdays, in an effort to balance their budget with so much of their former purpose now being served via online communications. While my own personal preference would be to have some day in the middle of the week knocked out (Mondays, perhaps)—in recognition of the fact that for those of us who work, Saturday is the one day of current service whereby we might actually be home to receive our packages—I recognize that it really is only a matter of time before six-day-a-week deliveries are a thing of the past.

That said, I was more than a little surprised to learn that it wasn't that long ago that the Post Office used to make multiple home deliveries in a given day!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Finding Hope in Failure

A classic Peanuts comic strip opens with Charlie Brown lamenting the loss of yet another baseball game:
Charlie Brown: Another ball game lost!! Good grief! I get tired of losing... Everything I do, I lose!

Lucy: Look at it this way, Charlie Brown. We learn more from losing than we do from winning.

Charlie Brown: That makes me the smartest person in the world!!
Of course, we don't feel very smart when we lose. In fact, I imagine that most people would just as soon forget their failures. Sure, we learn valuable lessons from those failures, but the price of that knowledge is so high that few of us bear it willingly.

I'm reminded of a speech originally given by a Senior Professor in Fuller Seminary's School of Psychology, Dr. Archibald Hart, to a group of students about to graduate in 2002. I don't believe I was actually there for the speech when it was originally given (although I actually did graduate earlier that spring, I believe I had attended the previous year's Baccalaureate service), but I definitely must have heard it not too long thereafter, as it was one of the speeches I was asked by former Provost Russell P. Spittler to transcribe for Fuller Voices, which itself was published in 2004.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Ten of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Nine, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Ten begins after the jump.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Nine of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Eight, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Nine begins after the jump.


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