Beekeeper Review: Zelda’s Bee Guy

Today we head back into the Zelda franchise for a beekeeper less obscure than the previously reviewed Conly, but only just barely so. The fact that this one is only known as the “Bee Guy” tell you that this is not a prominent character. But Zelda is a game franchise, and the Bee Guy, unlike Conly, actually has been in one of the games.

Appearing in “A Link Between Worlds”, the Bee Guy is a bee-pun spewing fan of bees who, from what we’re shown anyway, seems to focus more on the capture of bees than the keeping of them. There are no hives visible around his home and he claims to have been catching bees for a long time. Indeed he has a lot of nets around for just such a purpose, one of which he gives to Link to help him capture wild bees. So what’s the deal here? Why no hives? I have a theory:

This guy clearly loves bees. So much so that he dresses like one and seems to be putting great financial resources toward his bee collection project. What if the Bee Guy is the first real beekeeper in Hyrule? Or at the very least, he’s learning how to do it without knowledge passed down from previous beekeepers. He may simply not know how to keep bees, rather he’s learning as he goes. For decades, perhaps, he has been capturing wild bees one by one and getting them to like him and work with him, but he hasn’t had a means to actually start a real colony of bees of his own. You see, the rarest of the bees, the ones for which the Bee Guy gives the highest rewards, is the Golden Bee. He says he’s never seen one. When Link does bring him a Golden Bee, the Bee Guy describes it as “a queen of bees”. This could actually be his first time acquiring a queen, and thus the one thing he needs to start a beekeeping operation in earnest. He’s known they exist, but never had one until now.

It’s important to note that when Link gives him a Golden Bee, he gives Link a Bee Badge. When Link wears the Bee Badge, the wild bees of Hyrule will no longer attack him. They’ll actually go out of their way to attack his enemies. It’s clear that the bees recognize the badge as the Bee Guy’s mark, and they respect him enough to respond to it. His decades working with bees one on one have not been in vain. I have a feeling that his beekeeping operation is going to be alright.

Three Honeycombs out of Five. With the disadvantage of not knowing what he’s doing, the Bee Guy has still made impressive strides in the apiary field.

Weaknesses are Superman’s Kryptonite

Let’s say you’re writing a Superman story and you want to make it seem like Superman is in danger. One of the most persistent complaints about the character is that “He’s too powerful!” and “He can do anything!” Basically, the idea here is that he has no weaknesses, so it’s unbelievable that he could be threatened. The thing is though, Superman has weaknesses. Hell, everybody knows he has at least one weakness. His most famous weakness is so well known that we actually use it as a term for weaknesses that anyone has. Next to saying that something is your “Achilles Heel”, saying something is your “kryptonite” is probably the most well known way of describing a weakness without just using the word “weakness”.

But if you have to work kryptonite into every story, you end up repeating yourself every month, which means things grow stale. It’s good then that kryptonite isn’t actually Superman’s only weakness. The second most often cited weakness of Superman, by those in the know anyway, would be “magic”. Now, if a stage magician were to walk up to Superman and pop a flash paper thing in his face, that wouldn’t hurt him. No, it’s “real” magic that can hurt Superman. Essentially, if something can defy the laws of physics, nobody is going to deny that that could hurt Superman. That’s handy for characters like Mr. Mxyzptlk to befuddle our hero. So that’s another weakness, but still, he’s pretty overpowered, though, right?

Well, it turns out that if someone, or something, is strong enough, they can just beat the heck out of Superman. Really. That happens a lot for such an “overpowered” character. Look at the whole Doomsday thing. You know, that time Superman was beat so badly by some alien monster that he was declared dead. That was just some alien that happened to be strong enough to take on Superman. No magic or kryptonite involved. Other such monsters can and do exist in Superman’s world. You want Superman to feel threatened in a story? Throw some monster in there. Bam, he’s threatened.

But apart from that Superman is still overpowered, right? He can fly, he can shoot lasers from his eyes, he can see through walls, and more. What kind of villains are supposed to compete with that? Well, here is where I will remind you that Superman’s gallery of villains includes about a dozen people with the exact same set of powers that he has. The Phantom Zone is full of other Kryptonians who’d just so happen to love to kill the guy. Some, like General Zod, have Superman’s powers plus the tactical skills of a military leader. Some, like Faora, have Superman’s powers plus extensive training in martial arts. Some, like Nam-Ek, have Superman’s powers plus other mutations that actually make them more powerful. Some, like Jax-Ur, have Superman’s powers plus a scientific mind that could probably come up with clever ways to use those powers like regularly Clark does. They are at least Clark’s equal in powers and they outnumber him on top of that.

Furthermore! There’s all the other supervillains with powers. Bizarro has as many powers as Superman, but with bizarre twists. Parasite can drain Superman’s own powers at a touch, weakening the hero while buffing himself. The Cyborg Superman can whip up whatever technological nonsense you want to use that week. Toyman or Prankster can design any kind of wacky scenario in which Superman is threatened by some weird doomsday device. The list goes on.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think every Superman story should be about villains. I prefer to see him in stories that aren’t about who wins fights. But let’s suppose you want to tell such a story. And you don’t want it to be one where Lois or Jimmy or Ron or even Metropolis as a whole is in danger. You want to make it seem like Superman himself is threatened by a supervillain. But you don’t want the villain to have Kryptonite, or magic, or to be particularly strong, or have any interesting powers or to create an interesting scenario. In that case, I would suggest you just make Superman say “Man, it’s strange, but I’m feeling really weak right now.”

Yeah, that would be bad writing, but it sounds to me like you’re aiming for a bad story, y’know?

Movie Thoughts: Timer

Yesterday I watched a movie! Here are my Movie Thoughts about Timer.

With that woman from that show that had that vampire hunter.

Full disclosure, I didn’t mean to watch Timer. When I started watching it, I thought I was going to be watching In Time. I was aiming for a sci-fi story about people with clocks in their arms that tells how long they have left to live and uses that gimmick to comment on wealth disparity, but what I got was a movie about people with clocks in their arms that tells them when they will find their one true love. But hey, I liked Timer fine, so it’s all good.

The Movie Thoughts that came to me during Timer is this: I think there may be a whole genre of movies that I recognize but which hasn’t quite been codified yet. Timer is a movie in which a company has a fancy new sci-fi device (which is more magic than science, really) and we aren’t exploring what the device means for humanity or anything, we are focused on a emotional arc of the characters. The sci-fi magic, presented via some company’s gizmo, is just a plot device to allow us to play through the character study and apart from that one element, the world resembles our own. It isn’t a future timeline or a fantasy world. We might get some offhand commentary about how the world is changing because of the device, but that isn’t the focus, and it hasn’t progressed enough to make society unrecognizable. (For example, I disqualify the movie the Lobster because the society in there has different laws and mores than our own. It’s too different.)

Other examples of this sort of thing would be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where there’s a company that can erase memories. There’s also Cold Souls, where there’s a company that can remove souls and put them in different bodies and such. Both are stories not about the science, but about the characters who just happen to access the science via the miracles of capitalism.

I may not be big on capitalism, but I like this gimmick for a genre. The idea that one could wander down to the strip mall and go into a shop and have some magic device that can power an emotional story arc. I can’t pin down a name for this genre, but it’s definitely related to Magic Realism or Fabulism, but with a corporate component. Capitalist Fabulism? Eh, someone will find a better name, so long as we get more movies of this ilk. And I hope we do.