I’m at the age where I enjoy Christmas for getting together with my family and eating delicious food far more than I need presents. That being said, however, it is always nice when you get gifts from people who know you *so* well. This year, my favorites were a box of teeth and a big ol’ book of Voltron.
A gilt box of human teeth may seem a bit macabre, but I love bones. It is an ode to “Berenice,” a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, and to the PC game, “The Dark Eye” based on Poe’s stories. In my early 20’s, I played through all of that game the same way I devoured the “Choose Your Own Adventures” books when I was a kid: every time there is a choice, take the first one (or the left one) until you reach the end. Then backtrack (or redo) everything the same, except for the last choice, where I would take the other path. Then I would continue this until I had experienced all endings.
“The Dark Eye” had a great feel and art design to it, including clay animation figures. But what I liked about it is that you could choose whether to be the victim or the murderer, and you could change your mind by looking into the eyes of the character you wanted to switch to. You could be Berenice, fainting and then waking up buried alive, only to have Egaeus open up the coffin and extract all your teeth. Or you could be Egaeus, waking up in the study to find your clothes covered in mud and gore, and the accusing box of Berenice’s bloody teeth scattering on the floor.
Of course, many of the stories that showed up in the game were well known, like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Even knowing what the stories were about, it was still neat to play through them. I played every character, did every story, because I wanted to experience every cut scene. I even started some digital art pieces based on teeth, which alas, are stuck in the limbo of old Zip disks. (I think I may still have them somewhere, but they are relics now of a different age!) I may have to do a new painting based on teeth. They’re just so interesting. In a mouth they are always half hidden, but apart, you see their long roots like phalanges. I like them.
The Voltron book goes back to my childhood. I really loved that cartoon. I look back at it now, and it’s terrible. Terrible animation, the same story every episode. But it had my first cartoon crush, Prince Lotor. I loved that dude. He was evil, and obsessed with the Princess. I wish I could claim I was cooler, but as a kid, I ate it up. I loved his voice too. Sometimes things that get to you at a young age manage to keep some of their appeal.
Of course, it’s interesting to look back at all that stuff and wonder how it colors you. I do still think giant robots are cool. I really dug the first Transformers movie when it came it out. I have a thing for really good voice actors. I like long white hair on guys (Raistlin, Prince Nuada, etc). But Prince Lotor should have been named Prince Stalker, because in real life, his nonstop pursuit would have been creepy. In the original Japanese version (Go-Lion), Prince Lotor was obsessed with the Princess because she reminded him of his murdered mother (a slave in his father’s household). In Go-Lion, he was supposed to be a creepy psychopath. In the US version, he ended up more like the romantically-obsessed bad guy. Luckily, that’s why there’s fanfic for when you want to change the ending. Well, in any case, the book can go right with my Voltron Omnibus.