How Boston Got Its Name

The first defining moment in the history of a place is when it gets its name. When it was named, why it was named, and what it was named for all say something about the place itself and the thoughts of the early settlers. For someone in the seventeenth century, the adoption of “Old” English names for places in “New” England must have seemed somehow surreal. For example, at least five modern Massachusetts towns are named indirectly for rivers a continent away. These associations are very distant today, but settlers closer to Lincolnshire than Massachusetts Bay took these connections seriously. The naming of Boston was no exception.

(This is a reprint from a project that I worked on in 2009, but never published.) 

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My Marvel Adventure – Reading Every Silver Age Comic in Order (1961-1966)

Over the past two years or so, I’ve found myself with an unexpected hobby: reading every Marvel Silver Age comic in order. I’m not doing it quickly, but when I would tuck in my son at night or have a few minutes in a waiting room with nothing else to do, I’d fire up Marvel Unlimited and continue this trek. What I found was occasionally frustrating, frequently amazing, and all very eye-opening. So much of the current Marvel media boom started right here, in the early 1960s.

It’s a great trip through some of the most formative comic books of all time. Read on for more.

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Crazy Person’s Guide to Watching Dragonball In Order

So, let’s say you are crazy. SUPER crazy, with a lot of time on your hands. And let’s say that you (like me) are the kind of OCD completist that wants to watch Dragon Ball the “right” way: as it was experienced by its original Japanese fans at the time that it came out. How might you do that? I’m glad you asked, because this is the list that I came up with:

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Marvel’s First Failure: Doctor Droom (Amazing Adventures #1 – #4, #6)

For Marvel Comics, every fan knows that the Silver Age began with the release of Fantastic Four #1 in November, 1961. But even as Mister Fantastic and his family were taking to the streets, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were retiring their first unsuccessful attempt at a modern serialized super hero: Doctor Droom, later known as Doctor Druid.

So who was this unknown super-failure? And why did he fail? Well, read on for more.

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The Three Lives of the Boston Stone

The Boston Stone is a monument like no other in the city. Although inscrutable to most passers-by, the Boston Stone tells a story of three eras in Boston history. It speaks first to the industry of Boston in the late seventeenth century and the early eighteenth. The stone tells us something about the wily shop-owners and proto-capitalists of the 1730’s who gave the stone the reputation it has today. And finally, the stone serves an an example of the rediscovery and myth-making that took place in Boston in the 1840’s which gave the stone its true prominence as a Boston landmark. Although the monument tells of two centuries of Boston history, it does this without the benefit of a plaque from a historical society or a register of historic places. Only a low-class gift shop marks the importance of the landmark.

(This is a reprint from a project that I worked on in 2009, but never published. I’ve recently been asked by a friend to share some of my Boston Stone research and this may be of interest to a wider audience.) 

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Disney Diary: Fantasia – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” is the first of eight musical shorts released as part of Disney’s Fantasia in 1940. It was selected to introduce Walt’s  unique mix of animation and symphony, as well as provide us with our first look at Leopold Stokowski, the conductor; Deems Taylor, the narrator; and the players of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The short contains no plot, but transitions smoothly from a live-action blend of music and color to abstract animation. It ends where it began, with a brilliant image of the conductor silhouetted in front of the rising sun. It is one of the most iconic images of the Fantasia experience.

This “Disney Diary” is the first in a series on Fantasia (1940), one post for each of the musical shorts contained in the program. These will be followed by a wrap-up combining and linking them together to provide a full assessment of the film. Read on for part one of Fantasia!

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Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction, Part Two: The Brink of Disaster

“As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves.” – The Doctor

As the third serial of Doctor Who comes to an end, the show finally reaches something of an equilibrium. No longer are Ian and Barbara prisoners, but rather full-fledged “companions” in the modern sense of the word. If the show had not been picked up for a full season, it would have ended here: as a fun little science fiction adventure told in thirteen parts. But, as we know, what they really did with these early episodes was launch a sensation.

As the strange happenings continue on the TARDIS, our companions argue with each other until the true danger is discovered. With their collective lives in the balance, only then do they come together to save themselves. It’s a deep dive into the nature of our key relationships, both with the Doctor and with each other. The tension is high, but the ultimate resolution is surprisingly low tech. We are also left with a key but enduring mystery: is the TARDIS alive? More thoughts on this after our recap.

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Questprobe Featuring Spider-Man (1984)

Over at The Adventure Gamer, I just completed my most recent series on Questprobe Featuring Spider-Man (1984), an early Marvel adventure game by Scott Adams and Adventure International. It’s a fantastic look at mid-80s adventure gaming and the Marvel universe and well worth a play today.

More generally, yes. I have been away. My guest work on “The Adventure Gamer” has consumed all of my free cycles. I am still committed to continuing Doctor Who and Disney posts, although at a reduced frequency depending on my work elsewhere. In the meantime, I will be sure to post here as I complete TAG games from this point so this blog isn’t a complete ghost town.