Daily Archives: October 31, 2013

Arrow: I called it

One of the big questions since the beginning of _Arrow_ was whether there would be a “Black Canary,” and who it would be. A lot of people seemed surprised by last night’s reveal, which I took to have been the most obvious scenario.

So far, the show has been very interesting in its use and manipulation of DC “mythology,” though it often feels like an attempt to basically be “Batman” without Batman, to an even greater degree than the Green Arrow has traditionally been. I’ve also contended that it has a feel of _Person of Interest_, with the billionaire vigilante having a list (computer generated numbers in one case; last season’s notebook in the other) and hiring an ex-spy/soldier to work for him. The only difference is that, in practice, Oliver does what Reese does, and Diggs and Felicity play the role of Finch. Of course, John Diggle, a character original to the series, is also Arrow’s equivalent of Alfred. Both shows involve the cops pursuing the vigilante (“the Man in the Suit”; “The man in the hood”), and this season, each show’s signature detective has been demoted to uniform patrol officer. In the case of Det. (now officer) Quentin Lance, he’s taking on a more overt role of a Lt./Commissioner Jim Gordon cognate, complete with a signal.

They chose the Green Arrow for this thus-far “grounded” series (a status that will shift this season with the much-publicized introduction of the Flash for a potential spin-off) because the character has always dealt with more “realistic” enemies and story lines, most of whom have already been used. The remaining cast of villains have mostly been drawn from the Batman or Justice League rogues galleries. Some supporting characters, like Felicity Smoak, are only loosely based upon their comic book counterparts. Then you have characters like Oliver’s sister Thea, who appears to be based upon his current “ward” in the comics, Mia. The introduction of Roy Harper in the latter part of Season 1 has raised the question of which of these two will don the mantle of “Speedy,” or perhaps “the Red Arrow” (Roy is known for wearing a read hoodie).

So that brings us to the Black Canary. As one of the original superheroines, Black Canary has, like many DC characters, a rather convoluted history that has been changed with various individual retcons as well as major “events” like _Crisis on Infinite Earths_, _Infinite Crisis_, _Flashpoint_, etc.

Generally, however, the “original” Black Canary of the Justice Society of America is Dinah Drake, who becomes Dinah Lance after marrying Larry Lance. They have a daughter, “Dinah Laurel Lance,” who becomes the second Black Canary and the love interest of the Green Arrow. With Barbara Gordon, Dinah co-founds the female group “Birds of Prey,” who had their own short-lived TV series on WB (now CW) a year or two before _Smallville_ premiered. For a while, a few years ago, Dinah Lance switched places with a world-class assasssin and longtime Batman foe “Lady Shiva,” who was in “trying to be good” mode so common to Batman villainesses. Somewhere along the line, Shiva picked up a sidekick known as “Sin.” As it happens, Shiva is one of the main villains on Cartoon Network’s new CGI series _Beware the Batman_ which attempts to avoid the obvious complaint that it’s yet another Batman iteration, and even yet another “Batman: Year One” iteration, by focusing on mostly B- and C- list villains, with the exception of Ra’s Al Ghul. I had just read about her in that context a few days before last week’s episode of _Arrow_, so her bio was fresh in my mind as I saw the clues laid out.
In addition to Det. Quentin (as opposed to Larry) Lance, his estranged wife Dinah, and their daughter Laurel Dinah Lance (an attorney formerly of a nonprofit called CNRI), _Arrow_ throws one other character into the mix: Sara Lance, Laurel’s sister.

So, we have, until last night, had several possibilities for who was going to be “the Black Canary.” I thought from the pilot that Laurel was a red herring, that Sara somehow survived and would be the Canary. This season opened with a mysterious blonde woman in black leather and stockings fighting off some thugs with a bo staff and a mysterious sonic weapon. Then we saw her again a few times, briefly, culminating in her rescuing the Arrow from a police sting set up by Laurel (now with the DA’s office), ruling out Laurel as the Black Canary. At the beginning of the episode, I thought it would be Sara, but my view changed with clues laid out during the rest of the episode:
1) regardless of her identity, she hangs out in a clock tower, evoking “Birds of Prey” (even though “the” Clocktower is in Gotham).
2) She has a sidekick named “Cin,” apparently the girl she helped Roy Harper rescue in the season premiere.
3) Most of all, at the ending, a guy comes up to her and says that Ra’s al Ghul is looking for her. I had forgotten that he’d been revealed ahead of time as one of the main villains, with an upcoming episode title being “The Demon’s Head” (meaning of “Ra’s al Ghul” in Arabic).
This had me convinced that the Canary was going to turn out to be “Lady Shiva,” paving the way for Laurel to take over.

Nope, the reveal was, for me, the obvious choice, yet it has apparently surprised other bloggers who’ve commented on last night’s episode, “Crucible”: the mysterious Canary is, after all, Sara Lance, and Oliver knows she survived because she was apparently turned to evil by some mysterious group that held him prisoner during his time “on the island.” So, it’s likely that Sara *is* “Lady Shiva” in this continuity: the writers have already shown a willingness to keep things interesting by mixing and matching different characters.

Here’s a way to confuse people: Dress as St. Nicholas, St. Patrick or St. Valentine for All Hallows’ Eve

I wish I’d thought of this sooner. Hopefully, I’ll be around for at least another three years to apply it.

A friend suggested confusing people by dressing as “Santa Claus for Halloween.” I said, “How about St. Nicholas for All Saints’ Day.”

We know the arguments that get bandied back and forth this time of year:

“Halloween is pagan, and that’s a bad thing.”
‘Halloween is pagan, and that’s a good thing.”
“Halloween is about enjoying the thrill of being scared.”
“Halloween is Catholic, and it’s about mocking evil.”
“Halloween/Day of the Dead prefaces the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls by remembering the damned.”

Regardless, it has certainly been morphed into a time of great evil, and celebrating evil, and that needs to be reclaimed.
What better way to get that dialogue going than by referencing the three saints whose feasts (sort of, in one case) have come to be widely recognized as “secular” holidays?

Santa Claus is coming to Trick or Treat!

If you *really* want to confuse people, and you have two guys available, have one of them wear red “vestments” and say he’s St. Patrick, and have the other wear green and call him St. Nicholas!

I know God exists because I know that “Ghosts” exist–whatever their explanation may be

A writer at US Catholic attempts to address the question “Do Catholics Believe in Ghosts?” in an article which is circulating my Facebook news feed. provides a lot of quotations from theologians and philosophers (including Peter Kreeft), Church documents, the Bible, etc., which collectively present a superficially contradictory picture.
My initial response was that he seems to skirt the distinction between the various definitions of “belief”: a) acknowledging the existence of; b) relying upon; c) seeking out; or d) being obedient to. The Catholic Church “believes in” all sorts of things under category a), but categories b-d apply only to God, and then to “public revelation” and the Church’s interpretation thereof. We’re still supposed to be cautious about applying b-d to private revelation.
Once, I came across a web article by a priest who had a PhD in physics or something, who argued that many phenomena we attribute to “ghosts” may indeed be unexplained scientific phenomena, such as electromagnetic radiation or even wormholes.
It also makes sense that, sometimes, people get apparitions or locutions from their relatives who are in heaven just as people sometimes get them from Jesus or the Saints.
There is debate over whether “malicious” entities that infest homes or possess individuals are always demons or sometimes damned souls. While, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, I’ve always leaned towards the theory that if souls in Heaven have abilities similar to those of the angels, souls in Hell must have abilities similar to demons.
Back in 1986 or 87, a priest who was a family friend, the late Fr. Gregory Kirsch, whom I’ve blogged about before, came over for a visit, bringing a tape he made of an ordination Mass that had occurred the evening before. He had not watched the tape yet before showing it to my parents and me. He had set his camera up on a tripod angled from the sacristy so you could see the altar and most of the congregation. He began the recording before Mass and turned the camera off about 10 minutes after. After we watched the Mass, when everyone had processed out, we left the tape running and talked. Suddenly, someone, I forget who, said something like “What was that?” We all saw “it” briefly while glancing at the screen. If Father hadn’t left the camera on, if we hadn’t kept the VCR playing, and if at least one of us hadn’t glanced at the screen at just the right instant, we never would have seen it, but we rewound it and watched again:

Three or four white shapes floating up from the ground past €the altar.

I’ve always described them as “wisps.” I’d say now that the shape was similar to that of the more traditional “football”-shaped halo in iconography.

It had been a new tape, so it wasn’t an old recording fading through. It was too low to be coming from the candles. There was nothing that could have produced smoke, and no one was anywhere near the camera. This was before the days of computer editing even coming close to being available to home users, plus there was no reason to fake it. I don’t know what happened to the tape. It just *was*. We watched it over again a few times to make sure. All four of us saw it.

Whatever they were, they were definitely the phenomenon that people describe as “ghosts.” Unless they were, as the aforementioned physicist priest suggested, some kind of unknown electromagnetic phenomenon, they were definitely preternatural. The Occam’s Razor answer would be angels. Whatever they were, the proved to me that some things cannot be easily dismissed.