Are we special?

In science fiction and fantasy, non-humans have super powers. Some can read minds, many have fantastical strength, and others can fly or cast spells or manipulate energy. But humans alone have no special abilities. We’re all just human smart or strong.

So why aren’t we all subject to the will of aliens, elves or robots?

Almost every instance of humanity coming in conflict with hostile aliens, us Terrans are victorious. In a fantasy world, there often times is a theme of the end of the time of magic, and therefore the end of elves, dwarves, unicorns, etc.

Now, I’m solidly on the side of humanity, which is a little self serving I’ll admit, but if all these amazing species are basically superior to us, then how and why do we win?

Apparently being human is special. So special in fact, that many non-humans strive to achieve an understanding of humanity. (Star Trek, I’m looking at you.) There must be something pretty unique about us.

Many times, our non-human opponents lack our ability to improvise, to adapt to the changing nature of conflict. Which begs the question, how did their civilizations arise? They must have had to evolve, to adjust to the worlds they came from.

Perhaps this is just a way to telling ourselves we’re special. The universe is a big scary place, just like the forest was way back in simpler time. (BTW, the forest at night is still super scary.) So I like to think that the unknown is just as scared of us as we are of them. Unless they can read minds, then we’re in big trouble.

Posted in Thoughts

That Guy

I just spent the weekend at Pax Unplugged, the first tabletop convention sponsored by guys at Penny Arcade. It was a lot of fun, but the organization needs a lot of work, until my friend Richard showed me where the game signup area was, I felt a bit lost.

Nonetheless, it was very enjoyable, due in part to having quite a few friends attending. Also I met many new folks who were a blast to play with. Tabletop games are inherently social and since everyone there loves the hobby, it becomes easy to start up conversations.

On Sunday, my friend Scott and I signed up for a game. There were also three other guys at the same game who all went to law school together, who were a friendly and funny bunch, a joy to chat with before the game started.

Also, there was That Guy. We’ve all met That Guy. He makes jokes that aren’t really funny and slightly off color. He can’t read the room, in our cased bafflingly so. He told us that he had written a parody of the song from Disney Pocahontas song, Colors of the Wind and did we want to hear it.

We all to a man said no but he sang it anyway as we all stood there looking uncomfortably at each other. This made everything he said during the game potentially cringe worthy. We got through the game, it was awkward at times, but very fun overall.

I do have to say that the That Guy we met seemed to be a genuinely sincere and nice person who had no idea where the line is. I’m sure he doesn’t know he’s That Guy, that’s part of being That Guy.

That Guy can ruin things if you let him, but just be patient and try to gently guide him away from his worst impulses. Because the only thing worse than interacting with That Guy is being That Guy.

Posted in Thoughts

Make Thanksgiving Great Again.

It’s the Holiday season. I know this not because Thanksgiving is next week but because a fair amount of commercials and online ads are telling me so. However, they all seem to be for Christmas, the Godzilla of holidays, large, inexorable and well-nigh unstoppable. (For those who want to point out that Godzilla HAS been stopped, his franchise will not be denied.)
It maybe that Christmas just has better marketing, so here are a few suggestions to give turkey day a little extra something something.

1-Tom Turkey is Santa’s brother. Is this a retro-fit or do we really know that much about the Claus family? Sure they are completely different species, but there is lot of magic in the stories we tell. Perhaps Tom was hunter who loved turkey so much he was enchanted by a wizard to be a turkey so he might learn a lesson. I can see the Rankin Bass animation in my head, it writes itself. Also dress up real turkeys in an autumnal colored Santa suit. No way that will end in tears or years of therapy.

2-Leaf and Twig People-Most places haven’t got snow yet but ground is lousy with leaves and other tree detritus. After you rake, use some ingenuity, string and wire and fashion a non-gender specific Leaf and Twig Person, decorate it festively, and make sure to take plenty of pictures. Then burn it to the unknowable and cruel gods of the coming winter, and perhaps you’ll live to see the spring. It’s never too early to teach your children about the capriciousness of the unseen forces that play merry hell with our lives.

3-Presents-Everybody loves presents! So why not exchange presents on the big day. It will help the economy, or so I’m told, and it will perhaps ease tensions at the dinner table. Hard to be mad about politics or who married that loser when you got something shiny and new, we all know material possessions fill the bottomless hole in the core of who we are, at least till it’s time for everyone to get the hell out of your house.
For the kids, hang Cornish game hens over the fireplace the night before so Tom Turkey can fill them with presents! Bonus, if you have the fire going all night, you’ve gotten part of your cooking already done. It’s call multitasking. But make sure those presents are in some sort of insulated bags or the birds will be ruined as well as the toys.

4-Potent Potables-Sure everyone drinks more over the holidays but why not make a game of it. Every time someone offends or irritates you, take a shot of your favorite alcoholic beverage. Very soon, you won’t care if the cranberry sauce is the weird canned glop or how burnt it is. The kids will be traumatized, but that sounds like a tomorrow problem.

If you follow these suggestions, it will be like preparing for two Christmases, one right after the other. Fun and not at all stressful. You’ll give thanks once it’s all over. Isn’t that what this holiday is about?

Posted in Thoughts

The thought does not count

A lot has been written about the power of prayer, I can’t say if there is any is any effect on the world by an entreaty to an unseen entity.

When people are suffering, they need your help, whether it is a helping hand, a sympathetic ear, or whatever else is needed. If you want to pray, go right ahead, but if that’s all you’re doing, stop right now.

Prayers and thought that are not followed by action are done only to sooth the one praying, they do nothing for the subject of said prayer. If you’re outraged by the violence that seems to occur on an increasingly regular basis, then do something, then do something. Donate to a reputable charity, or volunteer your time, let those who represent us know that you have had enough.

Calling or writing them is a solid first step. But Tuesday is an election day, it’s an excellent way of letting your opinion known. If you don’t, well then, you get what you ask for, nothing.

Posted in Thoughts

What comes after Five?

She smiles and solitude will vanish.

Darkness or light, both will seduce.

Think about this, door locks behind.

Island volcano lair, explosions, oh James!

Atomic experiments, finally the sleeper awakens.

Monster versus Monster, always humans in-between

Not missing you, missing lost happiness

Villains destroy, heroes create redevelopment opportunities

A heart unbroken, is dead cold.

Posted in Short Stories

Rudigar’s Journal 16th Entry

October 1st, 2946

Things have taken an unexpected turn. Let me detail what occurred.
We had resupplied and were heading north towards what is called the Elf path. Rather ironic given my companions distaste for all things Elven. Apparently, there is another way, the Old Forrest Path but it is said to be not safe. The Woodsmen would say no more except that it is unwholesome.
Having stopped a bit on the early side, I took my bow and entered the Mirkwood to see if any fresh game could be found. As I was moving, quite quietly I might add, I heard a noise.
In a clearing, I saw a prone figure, insensate. Not just any figure, but one of the big folk. He was dressed in chainmail, bore a sword at his hip and a black tabard, with a white tree on it. Despite being girded for battle, he was dirty and ragged, and his face was gaunt. If I had to guess, he had gotten lost in these woods and had succumbed to exhaustion and starvation.
As quick as I could, I returned to our camp, if I were to save this poor fellow, I needed help! However, my Dwarvish companions were uninterested in aiding me. All pleas for aid were met with refusal. The gist of their argument was that it was “none of our concern.”
“I will not leave someone to die in these woods whilst you confuse cowardice for caution! This is where we part.”
And with that, I took my things and left. One of the Dwarves, I think it was Lindir tried to get me to stay, for my own safety, but I was having none of it.
I returned to the clearing, made the warrior more comfortable, which was not easy, the big folk are aptly named, and once that was done, I was able to hunt a bit and caught a brace of coneys.
The smell of stew woke the warrior, who said, “Greeting, I am Celepharn of Gondor.”

Posted in Short Stories

Rudigar’s Journal 15th Entry

September 28th, 2946
We have arrived at a place called Wood-Man Town, named so because the big folk who live here call themselves Woodmen. We have stopped here to refresh our supplies and the Dwarves are hoping for news of doings in Erebor. I suspect that I will hear little if anything of what is going on in the shire but one never knows.
It is a rustic place, and the people are friendly enough even though they keep mistaking me for a child. Apparently, none of them have ever seen any Shire-folk. Even so, I spoke to an elder by the name of Heriwulf, who told me that Hobbits used to had live in this area near the river, though those who seen them are long gone. Not news from home but still, news.
Hobbits this far east and living by the river? We are not fond of water, unless it’s for a nice hot bath. It seems on the surface to be too fantastic, but considering what I have seen on my journey, perhaps not so unbelievable. It certainly bears further investigation.
Speaking of investigation, we are having venison stew tonight for dinner. I wonder how they season it?

Posted in Short Stories