Opinion

Nerd Factor: The Voice of Batman

Dr Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

On November 10th, Kevin Conroy passed away after a fight with intestinal cancer. You may not recognize Conroy’s name or his image, but you have heard his voice. For the past three decades, Conroy was the main voice actor to play Batman. To me, Conroy will always be the voice of Batman. 

No disrespect is intended to the many other fine performers who have been a live-action or animated version of Batman. Adam West’s distinctive style, for example, was a key component to the campy success of the 1960s Batman television series. Other actors such as Will Arnett and Diedrich Bader have excellent Batman voices. Michael Keaton has a very serious style. And, of course, Christian Bale has that raspy Bat-voice that was always a bit off to my ears but still fun to imitate. 

Conroy became the Batman voice thanks to his work on Batman: The Animated Series. The series debuted in 1992 and it had kids rushing home from school to catch the next exciting episode (me too, but at the time this kid was in grad school). The show was visually moody and film noirish. It had clever plots and great action. Best of all, it did not talk down to its audience. Every episode was a mini-movie of sorts. 

Conroy’s portrayal of Batman was the glue that held all of this together. His Batman had the deep and serious tones needed to intimidate Gotham City’s criminal element into surrender. Yet, he could also deliver a clever deadpan joke or remark. At times, his Batman could shift from stern leader to a caring, almost parental figure to those in his charge.

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Wakanda Forever: The Perfect Tribute

Rylee McDonal ~ Copy Editor

The newest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was recently released and was dedicated to the late Chadwick Boseman.

Wakanda Forever was a long awaited sequel to the Black Panther movie from 2018 and had many fans concerned.

With the unexpected passing of Boseman, who played the original Black Panther, many fans of the Marvel movies were wondering how they would continue with the storyline.

What was proven with this movie was that Boseman’s legacy, while difficult to live up to, will never die.

With many of the original actors returning, there were also many new faces that made their premier along with brand new and beloved characters from the comics. 

The movie itself takes place a year after the death of T’challa, who died from an unnamed disease.

While Wakanda has continued to prosper, there are still countries around the world that fear their power,

This does not change when the villain, Namor, played by Tenoch Huerta, attacks a rig searching for vibranium with others from his kingdom. 

Namor has been an on-again-off-again hero and villain in the comics, and was the first mutant to be introduced into the comics, as well, was the second mutant to be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Nerd Factor: The New Black Panther

Dr Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Marvel Studios’ decision not to recast another actor into the role of T’Challa in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was the right one. Chadwick Boseman left an indelible mark on the character and the franchise. Boseman would be difficult for anyone to follow in the role and any attempt to do so would seem like an insult to our memories of Boseman. 

Commercial pressures mean that popular culture must move on though. While we speculate about who the new Black Panther, or Black Panthers, will be, this decision highlights the difference between the way time moves in the Marvel Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

In comic books, time has always been a strange thing. Take, for example, Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. When Peter first appeared, he was fifteen. This year marked the 60th anniversary of his debut. If comic book time matched real time, Spidey would be 75. He would be well passed retirement age, but knowing him he would probably still be in constant trouble. 

Yet, comic book Spider-Man has aged. When I was born, Peter Parker was already an undergraduate. When I graduated college, Peter was in graduate school. I passed him, getting my graduate degrees before he did. That’s not bragging. I had a lot less supervillains to fight. But now, I’m in my mid-fifties and Peter is in his late twenties. In roughly a half-century, Peter has aged about thirteen years. 

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Nerd Factor: Lo, the Sub-Mariner!

Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

While we are all anxious to see how the Marvel Cinematic Universe will go about choosing a new Black Panther (or Panthers because there can be more than one), the upcoming film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will also bring one of the very first Marvel heroes to the big screen—Namor, the Sub-Mariner!

Namor first appeared in the very first superhero comic published by Timely Comics, the company that would become Marvel Comics. Published in 1939, Marvel Comics #1 (August 1939) was an anthology book that introduced some characters who would go on to be legends. By order of appearance, Namor was technically the third hero introduced after the Human Torch (not the one you know from the movies) and the Angel (definitely not the one you know from the X-Men). 

From the very outset, Namor acted with very different motivations. He sought revenge against the surface world that had wronged his submerged civilization. In his debut story, he killed some divers and then set about on more attacks on the world above. 

Even though there was something regal about him, it was hard to see Namor in a purely heroic mold. Later, he attempted to destroy New York City in an epic battle that pitted him against the Human Torch in the crossover fight that would later come to define Marvel’s shared universe. Eventually, Namor realized that the fascist threat was a greater menace, joining in the Nazi punching escapades of heroes like the Human Torch and, of course, Captain America. His super-strength, his ability to breathe underwater, and his uncanny ability to fly using wings on his ankles made Namor into a potent force for good. 

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Christian Corner: Tremble and Do Not Sin 

By Faith McCray ~ Copy Desk Chief 

Photo Taken In The Friendship Circle at The University of Lynchburg Taken and Edited By Faith McCray.

Psalm 4 is a Psalm of David. 1 Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. 2 How long will you people turn my Glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? 3 Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. 4 Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. 5 Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. 6 Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. 7 Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. 8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. 

In v.1, David informs that he knows that God is his source of righteousness. He is also aware that God is righteous, and in response he can do no wrong. 

Christians have righteousness too. However, their righteousness is not of their own making. The righteousness comes from God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus died for all of the past, present, and future sins. We can put our trust in Jesus as our Savior, and God sees us as righteous (Phillipians 3:9; Ephesians 1:3-10). 

Christians can rest in the fact that God always does what is right. Whatever occurs in our lives is for our good and His Glory (James 1:2-4). 

David prays that God will answer his prayers. God has helped relieve him from his enemies, and ask for God to be gracious by answering his current prayer. 

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How Majestic Is Your Name?

By Faith McCray ~ Copy Desk Chief 

Picture Taken at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center Taken By Faith McCray 

Psalm 8 is a Psalm of David. 1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. 2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? 5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. 6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, 8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

David tells us in v. 1 that the Lord’s name is majestic in all the earth. 

The word “majestic” is from the Hebrew ad’dir, which is translated to be “wonderful”, “great,” or “exalted.”

David views the Lord’s creation and is so astonished by how wonderful, great and exalted God is. 

In v. 2 the Bible explains that God is so strong that he can obtain praise from children. 

However, there are many reasons why God is worthy of this praise. An example is because of how God accomplishes his will. 

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Nerd Factor: What? What?? What???

By. Michael Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Ncuti Gatwa – image from https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/08/entertainment/doctor-who-ncuti-gatwa-intl-scli/index.html

SPOILER WARNING: This article gives away information from Doctor Who “The Power of the Doctor”

Last week, I wrote a column about regeneration in Doctor Who. This important device has allowed the series to continue since 1963 by using science fiction ideas to allow new actors to inhabit the role. This past Sunday, I anticipated a traditional regeneration story, with Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor passing away in epic fashion and being replaced by Ncuti Gatwa’s Fourteenth Doctor.

Wow, did that not happen! Instead, we got one of the great surprises in the history of popular culture. 

The episode was full of great moments for fans. We got three sinister foes– the Master, the Daleks, and the Cyberman—working together to destroy the Doctor. Also, two traveling companions of the Doctor from the classic era of the series returned in important roles. I have always liked Tegan, who traveled mostly with the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) from 1981-1984. And I was thrilled to have Ace back. One of my all-time favorites, Ace traveled with the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) on television from 1987-1989. There were also a number of cameos by former Doctors and companions. 

All of that gave the episode a nostalgic and celebratory feel in anticipation of the show moving into its 60th anniversary in 2023. If that were all that happened in “The Power of the Doctor,” the episode would have been a great finale for an incarnation of the character.

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The Start of the ‘Midnights’ Era: A Swiftie’s Review of Taylor Swift’s 10th Album

By Caroline Gilmore ~ Marketing Manager

Photo Credit: “Anti-Hero” the music video, Taylor Swift (2022) 

Caption: Swift has described her 10th album, Midnights, as being inspired by ‘self-loathing’, ‘falling apart’, ‘falling in love’, and ‘wondering what might have been.’

On the eve of the debut of Taylor Swift’s 10th original album (not including the re-released “Taylor’s Version” albums), my sister and I met over a video call and shared all of our theories, including what songs we thought would be the best and what they might sound like. We were completely wrong.

After Swift’s last two albums, folklore and evermore, featured more folk music and extensive figurative language centered on mostly fictional narratives, I think a lot of fans were unsure what to expect in these new tracks. Rather than continue down the path of the last two albums, it seems Swift has backtracked to her Reputation, Lover, and 1989, pop-style sound. What emerged was a deeply personal, introspective autobiographical work about Swift’s sleepless nights. This concept album contains a lot of information about Swift’s perception of fame, the music industry, feminism, and plenty of her own struggles as an artist and as a person.

I did some of the digging and created this review for each track on Midnights. It was not quite what I expected, but overall I would rate this album 4.5/5 stars. This was not my favorite Swift album, but I have really enjoyed some of the catchier tracks and dissecting all of the things they might mean along with the rest of the internet. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

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Nerd Factor: Goodbye Doctor, Hello Doctor?

Image from: https://blog.sciencemuseum.org.uk/the-science-of-doctor-whos-regeneration/

Dr. Michael Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

When it became clear to the producers of Doctor Who that their star actor was too physically ill to continue playing the role, they embarked on a creative plan to save their popular show. Reasoning that the Doctor was not actually a human, the producers decided that their main character could fall into a kind of emergency restorative state and then emerge with an entirely different physical appearance and some personality differences. And so, after a challenging battle against the Cybermen at the end of part four of “The Tenth Planet (1966),” actor William Hartnell gave the role over to Patrick Troughton. 

The process, eventually called “regeneration,” became a regular feature that allowed Doctor Who to survive from 1963 until today. The various incarnations of the Doctor are typically numbered in an ordinal fashion (there have been some unnumbered Doctors too). Hartnell was the First Doctor. The current Doctor, portrayed by Jodie Whittaker, is the Thirteenth Doctor, although not for much longer. Airing on Sunday night on BBC America, “The Power of the Doctor” will bring her time to an end. 

Within the narrative of the show itself, regeneration stories are often sources of heightened drama. The Doctor leads an extraordinarily dangerous life battling against evil throughout time and space. The story that often takes a particular challenge, forcing the Doctor to endure great physical harm and/or make considerable sacrifices to save the day. The Thirteenth Doctor had an amazing run. The first female incarnation of the character in the show’s history, this Doctor brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm back to the series. She also demonstrated a powerful commitment to her traveling companions, which she calls “her Fam” (short for family). There is also some unresolved romantic tension between this Doctor and her traveling companion, Yaz. Normally I am not much for romance subplots, but I really buy into it on this show. I really do not want to see heartbreak here, but I do not know how it can be avoided. 

Outside the narrative, the process of regeneration is always fascinating to me. Regenerations are not surprises. The hunt for a new actor to play the Doctor is an involved and much hyped affair, involving fan speculation, producer teases, and even pub wagering before the big announcement. We have known since May 8th that Ncuti Gatwa will become the Fourteenth Doctor. Gatwa will be the first person of color in the role as well as the fourth Scottish actor to play the part (so President Morrison-Shetlar, I hope you will be watching!). 

What is so exciting about these moments for me though is that beyond the identity of the actor, the fans have no idea what the new Doctor will be like. Something very old is about to become new again, but the exact details elude us. The time the details are being kept particularly close to the vest. Producer Russell T. Davies, who in 2005 brought the show into the modern era of television, is coming back to the series he loves but he is not telling us much. 

All we know right now is that there will be three specials in 2023 (which will also mark the 60th anniversary year of the program). We know that David Tennant and Catherine Tate will be returning in one of those stories as the very popular Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble. We know that Neil Patrick Harris will be a villain in that story. It is such a wonderful mystery and I cannot wait to see what happens next!

Opinion: LGBT Imagery in  Bros

Photo From: https://www.brosthemovie.com/synopsis/ 

Em Maxey ~ Assistant Editor

[Minor Spoiler Alert] On Friday, September 30th, Bros directed by Nicholas Stoller was released, but did the movie live up to expectations? 

The movie feels like a typical rom-com, regardless of the overarching “homosexual relationships are not like heterosexual relationships” arc. 

With an impressive slate of actors like Bowen Yang, Dot-Marie Jones, Miss Lawrence, Ts Madison, and other LGBT icons and activists, the movie’s directors and producers were obviously intentional with their casting. 

However, my issue was that when non-cisgender and gay characters were portrayed, they were overly consumed with their identity and role in the LGBT community. 

It is debatable if this was intentional or not, but that does not invalidate the overarching crisis experienced by members of the community who struggle with their identity because they do not adhere to a stereotype. Therefore, I believe the approach to creating overly eccentric characters was in poor taste. 

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Christian Corner: Confidence In The Lord’s Protection 

Written By Faith McCray ~ Copy Desk Chief 

Picture of Lake Gaston Taken From Highway Taken By Faith McCray 

Psalm 121 is a song of ascents. 1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

The psalmist in v.1 is enjoying the view as he looks up at the mountains taking in the beauty that is Jerusalem.

The psalmist is currently on a journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem. 

He and his group were considering camping in the hill country overnight, which was common during this time. Therefore, it was not unusual that the psalmist would take their protection into consideration as well. 

Today, society can be a terrifying place, so many wonder how they will be protected when they are scared or find themselves in a threatening situation. 

That being said, we ask ourselves the same question the psalmist did, “Where does my help come from?” 

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Nerd Factor: To Boldly Go Where No Show Had Gone Before

Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

https://nerdist.com/article/star-trek-next-generation-season-3-iconic-status/

Thirty-five years ago, Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted. Arriving on Sept. 28, 1987, the series ushered in an entirely new era of Trek. In retrospect, it is also amazing that this new era happened at all. Today, Star Trek is a true popular culture franchise, spinning out in a variety of media. Back in ’87 though, Trek was pretty much running on old school Enterprise energy. 

The original television series was a fan favorite but also a commercial disaster. NBC had canceled the show in 1968. A fan campaign saved it for a third season, but then NBC killed it for good in 1969. Spinning out into syndicated reruns, the series was finally able to flourish as a phenomenon. That did not prompt much of a return to television though, leading only to the two season Saturday morning Star Trek cartoon (1973-1974). 

The franchise got a boost when Star Wars ignited an era of blockbuster science fiction films. Trek went to the big screen. By 1987 though, there had only been four of these movies. And every last one of these series centered on the original starship Enterprise and its crew. 

As the name implies, Next Generation was an attempt to put someone else in the captain’s chair. Captain Kirk was gone. Captain Jean-Luc Picard arrived. In hindsight this might seem odd, but the question was serious. Could the Trek formula work with a new cast?

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Unity 

Written By Faith McCray ~ Copy Desk Chief 

Photo of Waterfall in Doswell, Virginia By Faith McCray 

Psalm 133 is a song of ascents, and a Psalm of David. 

1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

This Psalm focuses on unity and the joy it brings. It expresses the blessings of Israel’s tribes living together in harmony. 

Before David’s coronation was held in Israel, the tribes were determined to pursue their own interests and beliefs. There were even some who opposed him and all that he believed in. 

However, 1 Chronicles 12:38-40 informs us that they eventually made peace, and that they were finally able to come together and stand as a united kingdom. 

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Nerd Factor: Men’s and Women’s Sexy Costume Catalog Superhero Holiday Article for Men and for Women

Image From: https://shilpaahuja.com/top-female-superhero-costumes/

Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Halloween has been slowly changing over the past few decades from a holiday largely for children into an event celebrated by the entire family. There was always money to be had in costume manufacturing, but as adults have begun to participate more, new products have arrived to meet their needs.

At the same time, the superhero genre has exploded from nerd culture into the mainstream. No one should be surprised that a genre that thrives on costumed identities would be a source of Halloween fun. Every year though, I find myself amused by the lengths some costume makers will go to avoid paying licensing fees. 

On one popular website, shoppers can filter their choices into male and female superhero costumes. There are 197 of the former and 190 of the latter. So, congratulations to the females for achieving some kind of equality. 

Each of those categories are subdivided into “sexy.” There are 79 sexy costumes for women. There are 2 for men. One is Wolverine and the other we’ll discuss in a moment. Perhaps that disparity is a marketing consideration. Maybe men do not search for costumes looking to be “sexy.” It’s probably old-fashioned sexism though.

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Nerd Factor: Build High for Heroism

Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Image from: https://www.christiesrealestate.com/sales/detail/170-l-83612-f1605878495/217-west-57th-street-114-midtown-west-new-york-ny-10019

I like to look at really expensive residence ads. Like everyone, I guess I’m a bit of a lottery-win dreamer. I also like to do this from time to time because it really confuses the heck out of my advertising algorithms. 

Recently I was looking at an ad for 217 W. 57th St. Penthouse, a new $250 million residence in New York City. To some seriously epic sounding music, the video ad for this place argues that this is the “highest residence in the world.” As one might expect for a quarter-billion bucks, the domicile has a number of bedrooms, all sorts of amenities, and its own ballroom. 

Do you know what’s missing? A place to put your flying car, supercomputer, and space jet. As an old school comics fan, I can’t help myself. I see every skyscraper as a potential superhero headquarters. 

Back in the day, there were basically two terrestrial choices for an urban super team looking to centralize. Superheroes built up or superheroes built down. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had Avengers Mansion, a swanky residence donated to the team by gazillionaire Tony Stark (back when people did not know he was Iron Man). There was something undeniably cool about the fact that a person could just be walking down the sidewalk, turn through a gate and go up to the Avenger’s front door (after being secretly scanned by security devices, of course). In order to make all of this work, the Avengers dug down into the solid bedrock of Manhattan Island to store all of their equipment and vehicles.

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