Why Avatar: The Last Airbender is worlds better than Legend of Korra (Part 1)

*SPOILERS* If you haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender all the way through, you really should watch it before reading this. I don’t care if I spoil Legend of Korra for you.

I just did a quick search on my blog, and somehow, I apparently have never talked about Avatar: The Last Airbender. Which is just inexcusable because it’s absolutely one of the best cartoons ever made. There are few shows that have sucked me in more than this one.

You should know that my love for Avatar isn’t just nostalgia goggles talking. I wasn’t even allowed to watch the show when I was a kid because my mom didn’t like the Eastern mysticism aspects of the show (I showed it to her a year or two ago, and now she loves it too). I watched it the first time when I was 16. I also recently rewatched it with The Boyfriend a few months ago, so it’s pretty fresh in my mind.

Like most fans of the original show, I looked forward to Legend of Korra, which told the story of the next Avatar, an older teenage girl named Korra. It was… dull. In it’s first season.

korr reaction.gif

Accurately depicts my feeling about this show.

Compared with Avatar, it was a huge disappointment for me, especially as the series went on. I want to talk a little bit about why I believe that A:TLA is way better than LoK (I’m going to abbreviate them from now on).

My first point is an issue of organization. This is a somewhat nitpicky complaint, but it’s so obvious that LoK was only ever supposed to have one season. The first season is not great, and not even the best of the series (I’ll talk about that later), but at least it had a definite ending. The villain was dead, and Korra’s struggles and relationships were resolved.*

If it had been just one season, it would have been a little disappointing, but I wouldn’t dislike the show as much as I currently do. But after that first season, it was so popular that I guess that the network thought they could make some money off a few more seasons. That’s what the later seasons felt like, a cash grab. Each season had a new villain or set of them (there were some good ones, don’t get me wrong) and a new issue to deal with and no cohesion.

Now contrast that with the original show. From the beginning of the first season, the problem was Firelord Ozai and the Fire Nation. That recurring villain and threat helped to tie the seasons and the show together. Watching A:TLA is like watching an epic told across a number of episodes. Watching Korra was like watching a bunch of short stories that kinda connected.

A:TLA did have multiple villains in each season too. In fact Ozai wasn’t even the most visible villain** until the third and final season. For the first season and a half, it was Zuko, and for the second season and some of the third it was Azula (both Ozai’s children, by the way, for those of you who haven’t seen the show and ignored my warning). There were a few different more minor villains, but most of the time, both the minor and major villains eventually led back to Ozai. This led to consistency in A:TLA that LoK never had.

Speaking of characters, that leads me to my next gripe with LoK. Despite having four seasons, one more than the original show, the characters were far less interesting and entertaining.

Let’s start with Aang from A:TLA and my least favorite character in Legend of Korra: Korra. Okay, that’s a lie. My least favorite character is Mako, but Korra’s more important, so I’m going to talk about her first. I really hate to compare Aang to Korra, but they were the main characters in both of their shows. I think the biggest problem with Korra is a problem of motivation and conflict.

Aang goofy.gif

The thing that made Aang interesting to watch was the that his personality conflicted heavily with the world he was thrown into. Aang was a sweet, innocent cinnamon roll of a monk who just wanted world peace and to have fun with his friends. He’s thrown into a world that is dark and war-torn, and he’s told that his mission is to stop a 100-year war, by force if necessary. Almost every situation he finds himself in forces him to measure his principles against reality.

Now let’s look at Korra. She a tough bad*ss who’s thrown into situations where she has to punch things. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which of these two situations would be more interesting to watch. The lack of contrast between her personality and korra punch.gifthe forces around her are part of the reason that I think the second and third seasons are better than the first and fourth. In the middle seasons, she was trying to deal with the spiritual side of being the Avatar, which at least was conflicting with her personality.

My biggest problems with the character were actually more based on how she was written. One of the dumbest scenes of the show was the defeat of the best villain of the series, Zaheer, by a bunch of children without the hero. That’s right, Korra didn’t even get to defeat the villain in season 3. It’s just sooooo unsatisfying. Seriously, you have no idea how much I hated that ending.

Whereas the last season of the original show was the culmination of everything we’ve been waiting for with a massive amount of character development (mostly in the form of Zuko’s adventures), the last season of LoK was… boring. And Korra didn’t even SHOW UP for a few episodes. It was like the show forgot about its main characters for a few episodes of the final season.

I’m going to end part one of this post here because it’s getting really long. But I wanted to say a quick word about the writing. I don’t think that the writing in Legend of Korra was particularly bad. In fact, I think there are some very good moments.

I looked up who did the writing for most of the episodes, and compared what they did on the original show. To my surprise, I didn’t hate the episodes they wrote in A:TLA. In fact, Tim Hendrick (LoK seasons 2-4), wrote one of my all-time favorite episodes, “The Puppetmaster,” Joshua Hamilton (LoK seasons 2-4) wrote the second part of “Boiling Rock,” and Katie Matilla (LoK seasons 3-4) wrote “The Beach.” These are all great episodes (not that Avatar had any truly bad episodes, just less great ones).

They are clearly skilled writers, but I think that the problem might have been that they didn’t have the plan or the vision to keep Korra going for four seasons. I just wanted to acknowledge that I didn’t hate the writers before I continue to tear apart their creation in the next part.

*Quick sidebar: the ending of the first season of LoK is one of the few great things about the series. Not many cartoon shows have the guts to kill their villains by way of murder-suicide. It was gutsy, and I appreciate that.

amon death.gif

This shocked the crap out of me when I first watched it.

**I mean that Ozai wasn’t a very visible villain literally. In an excellent example of how to make a villain more mysterious and ominous, the show creators didn’t even animate Ozai’s face until wayyy far into the series.

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I’m NOT allergic to kiwis

So in the last few months, I’ve been having a lot of problems with my digestion. Every couple of weeks I eat something, and then my intestines attempt to escape from my body.

Let’s just say it’s not fun. Basically, I seem to have developed a food allergy. I haven’t quite figured out what is causing the issues. I’ve gone through thinking it was milk and then thinking maybe it was soda, and now I’m back to milk again.

So I’m not going to drink soda or milk for a little while, and see if can avoid the pain. Which sucks. Because I like both of those things.

But this post isn’t about me complaining that I can’t drink soda and milk for while. Actually, this post is about something entirely different, something I’m not allergic to.

Kiwis!

Evil Kiwi

An evil fruit.

I love kiwis. I don’t eat them very often, but I was grocery shopping the other day, and I saw some kiwis. I thought they would make a nice snack in their raw form, and I could freeze a few to use in smoothies. Which was a good plan.

Until I tried to, you know, eat them. I made myself a bowl of pineapples and kiwis to go with my dinner tonight. I ate most of the bowl and then I noticed that my tongue and my lips were burning.

You know that feeling you get after you’ve burned your tongue on something hot? That sort of itchy, stinging, raw feeling? Multiply that by four or five times and that’s what my tongue and lips feel like right now.

My first thought was, “Oh great, I’ve developed another food allergy. Is there any food that isn’t trying to kill me?!”

I Googled “what does a food allergy feel like?” That… wasn’t super helpful. So I Googled “why does my tongue hurt when I eat kiwis?”

That was significantly more helpful. Suddenly, all I found was articles about people who burnt their tongues with kiwis. And pineapples. Apparently, it is very common for people to have bad reactions to pineapples and kiwis in particular.

It wasn’t that I’m allergic to the fruit. I just so happened to eat two of the most acidic foods on the planet. And they tried to eat me back.

Now I’m stuck with a half-eaten bowl of kiwis and pineapples and horribly itchy, stinging lips.

Oh, and two of things that I found online that could help with the pain were Coca-Cola and milk. In other words, two things I can’t eat right now. Awesome.

Here’s the most horrifying GIF I could find related to kiwis. Because they hurt me.

horrifying kiwi.gif

P.S. I still love kiwis. *cries*

When Interns Saved the World – A Flash Fiction

I wrote this in twenty minutes as an exercise for my writing club. We had to come up with a story based on three words: chaos, clock, and explosion. This is what I came up with.

*****************

The command center was in chaos. It seemed to Jimmy that almost everyone was on the phone shouting in half a dozen languages, all of them frantic. The general was running around the room shouting in English, although most of that was swear words.

Jimmy didn’t know what to do. He was an intern. His job mainly consisted of filing paper work the general didn’t want to file, running the general’s errands, taking the general’s calls, and generally being the general’s personal doormat.

So Jimmy sat in the back of the room watching the clock in the far corner of the room slowly count down. He marveled at how calm he felt as he took a sip of the coffee he had made for the general. Half of the country was about to be engulfed in a fiery explosion, but honestly, he was just happy to be off his feet. He impassively watched the numbers on the big clock on the wall count down second by second.

But curiosity slowly consumed him to the point where he wanted to know what was actually going on. He wandered over to a fellow intern, who was also drinking coffee by the edge of the room.

“Jimmy,” the other intern said.

“Bob,” Jimmy replied, leaning on the wall. “Any clue what’s going on here?”

“Some sort of nuclear threat. If my Farsi, Korean, and French are correct, I’d say North Korea is about to blow us up.”

“That sucks,” Jimmy stated.

“Yeah, I’ll miss the game on Saturday.”

“But we won’t have to come in to work on Monday.”

Bob nodded and sighed wistfully. “You got any family?”

“None I care for. You?”

“Girlfriend. But I was going to dump her anyway.”

Jimmy nodded and took a drink of his coffee. The numbers on the big clock turned from green to red and an alarm sounded. Jimmy glanced over at Bob. “Do you want to die?”

Bob shrugged. “It would get General Hardbutt off my back.” He paused for a moment to consider it. “But I guess… not really.”

“Should we do something about it?” Jimmy asked.

“Like what?” Bob responded.

“You still friends with that intern in North Korea?”

“Yeah.”

“He still got that stash of poison? And a death wish?”

Bob nodded, a tired grin on his face. “Give me a sec.”

Bob pulled out his phone and made a call. He spoke quickly in Korean, and although Jimmy couldn’t tell what he was saying, Bob’s smile told him it was going well. “Okay, bye bye now,” Bob finished. He hung up and looked over to Jimmy.

“Think it worked?” Jimmy asked.

“We’ll find out in a minute.”

That minute passed torturously slowly as the interns sipped their coffees. Then, a shout of joy went up from the middle of the room. “It’s over! We’re saved. The great leader is dead! His son has stopped the launch.”

“Great job, Hendricks,” the general shouted as cheers sounded around the room.

“His name is Harrison,” Jimmy whispered.

“Jiminy!” the general shouted. “Where’s my coffee?”

Jimmy pushed himself off the wall and gave Bob a wry smile. “Was it worth it?”

Bob shrugged and yawned. “Maybe.”

Keeping my priorities straight

Last year around this time, I was getting ready to go to Vegas to shoot in a national competition. I was practicing all I could and getting brand new arrows. When I got to the competition, I won 2nd place. It was a ton of fun.

archery back muscles

This year… I’m not going to Vegas. I found out a few days ago that I didn’t make the cut, but you know what, I really don’t care.

I’m not just saying that, by the way. Archery is a lot of fun and a great stress reliever at the end of the day. But it’s not what I want to do with my life.

I could have spent my winter break shooting 300 arrows everyday. I could have done 30 pushups and worked with a resistance band daily. But I didn’t.

Instead, I played video games and board games with The Boyfriend’s brothers and parents as I got to know them all. I started a new podcast series (listed below) and edited ones from the other series. I wrote a lot and worked on the first chapter of a novelization of a show pilot I wrote last year (also listed below).

So I didn’t win in the preliminary tournament. I went into it knowing I wouldn’t win. I didn’t get to practice a lot last semester, and quite honestly, I couldn’t justify the extra expense of bringing a bow as an extra check baggage just so I could try to practice in Michigan.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have enjoyed going back to Vegas again, but it’s not truly important to me. I would rather build my portfolio by creating podcasts and writing my fingers off.

The truth is that archery is a hobby. Writing, podcasting, and editing are not. Those are things that I can use to show future employers that I am worthwhile to hire.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep my priorities straight when there are so many things that I want to work on. But in this case, choosing to focus on my podcasts, writing, and relationships was an easy choice.

Things that I worked on instead of practicing archery:

 

Deep Hollow CoverAfter moving to a small town in Vermont, a teenage boy uses his special dragon abilities to fight supernatural evils along with a feisty Irish-American boy with similar powers and a genius girl with an eidetic memory.

Deep Hollow is a collection of short stories set in the universe of the Dragon Knights.

Prologue

Chapter 1 – Welcome to Ridgeway

Chapter 2 – Introductions

Just doing my job

I was having an interesting conversation with The Boyfriend on the way back from a friend’s wedding. We were talking about future plans and jobs, and I made the comment that I’m always surprised by employers who are so impressed by me just doing my job. He said he’d had the same experience.

I have had bosses come up to me and tell me how well I’m doing and how much they appreciate me for what I’m doing for the company. Which is odd, because, although I always do my best, I don’t often do much more than I’m told. At least, I don’t think I do.

No, most of the time, it’s not me going the extra mile. Instead, it seems that my bosses are impressed by the sheer fact that I do the job that I am assigned to, get everything done on time, and do it without complaining. It makes me wonder what kind of workers my employers are used to.

It also makes me worry for my generation. I can’t say that my employers have been surprised by my work ethic just because they don’t expect much from me as a Millennial, but I can’t say they weren’t. It does seem, anyway, that my generation does not seem to have the work ethic of the generations that came before.

Honestly, I would understand if employers didn’t expect much from Millennials. After all, I don’t. I’ve been burned too many times in group projects with my peers to trust that they won’t slack off. For instance, my freshman year I had one guy send me his part of a PowerPoint only an hour(!) before the project’s due date

I’ve learned to pick out the people at the beginning of each semester that I know I can rely on to get things done. I’m even a little hesitant to work with new people in my classes just because I don’t know if they can be trusted yet.

It’s a little odd that going to college has made me less trusting of potential co-workers than I was when before I left home. It’s a little sad, sure, but that’s the reality of my situation.

I can only hope that in the future, I can work with people who will be reliable. Maybe I’ll get praised less for just doing my job, but at least I’ll know that I can trust my co-workers. And I’ll take that any day.

Contra Mundum: Episode 12 – The Super Geeks Review the 2017 Super Hero Movies (Part 1)

Hello all. I had planned to get this out before the end of the year, but I overestimated the amount of time I would have to myself while hanging out with The Boyfriend and his five brothers over the Christmas season.

But it’s still January, and it’s close enough to 2017 that this podcast still makes sense.

In this one, I unite with my Super Geek friend Kevin McHugh to review the 2017 super hero movies. We had a lot of fun recording this episode and the next one. The next episode will be far more full of disagreement than this one, but this one is still good.

I hope you all enjoyed this episode. Next week, we return to talk about the last few super hero movies from 2017.

On a related note, I don’t know about you, but I know I’m really looking forward to 2018’s super hero movies, Especially Black Panther and Infinity War. I’m sure I’ll be doing a review of my own for both of them either here or on Letterboxd (which, if you want to follow me there, click here).

Contra Mundum – Episode 11: Traveling the World and Doing Good

Hey guys, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks between the end of classes and flying to Michigan to visit The Boyfriend’s family. But I got this episode done before hand, so now you get to watch it.

Consider it a Christmas Eve present.

In this episode, I sat down with my friend Abby Chennells to talk about traveling the world and missions work. We specifically talked a lot about her recent trip to Mexico and the people she met there.

I think you guys will really enjoy this episode.

 

I hope you all liked this episode and maybe learned something new. I know I did.

On a more serious note, I hope that all of this talk about missions and helping people will inspire you to go out and do some good this holiday season.

Our next two episodes (which will get done as soon as I have time to do some editing in The Boyfriend’s house) will feature the return of the Super Geeks. We’ll be wrapping up the year with reviews for every single super hero movie that came out in 2017!

Until then, Merry Christmas!