I stumbled across this quotation from Chuck Palahniuk (a writer for whom I have no use, anyway). I don't know if this should be attributed to a character, or the man himself, and it matters, because the speaker is REALLY clueless...
"What is the real purpose behind the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus? They seem like greater steps toward faith and imagination, each with a payoff. Like cognitive training exercises."
As I said, REALLY clueless. In reality, the lesson taught by those three is that NO ONE can be trusted, and that belief is for suckers, and that there is no such thing as magic anywhere.
Institutionalized metaphysical child abuse is still child abuse...
I run cold; normal temp is 97.8, with some variation. At 98.2, I am unhappy, but soldier on. At 98.6, I cancel recreational plans; at 99.0, I cancel EVERYTHING and go back to bed. This morning, I was feeling a bit off, took my temperature, found that it was 99.8.
I don't feel nearly as bad as that temperature would imply, but obviously something is very wrong below the surface. Not going back to bed, but taking it REALLY easy, pretty much waiting for the other shoe to drop. Grrr.
So I may have just read my farovite Robert E. Howard story for the first time. I have read a lot of Howard over the years; he is seldom less than good, and often excellent. He was also amazingly prollific during his short career.
A while ago Dementia gave me an e-book, a collection of ALL of Howard's "horror" stories (though how one makes that distinction with someone like Howard is hard to tell). I was reading it over lunch, and consumed a story called, "The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux" (also, apparently, sometimes called, "The Apparition in the Prize Ring). It's a ghost story, a triumph of the underdog story, and it was set in Howard's own present.
This is not a big story, not a flashy story. I have never seen it listed among Howard's best. What it is, though, is PERFECT. And you just don't run into that very often.
"A street wise attitude doesn't necessarily make me a cynic. In fact, if anything, life on the streets serves to open you up. When you're out in the open, you begin to realize that it IS all here-- the good and the bad, the clean and the dirty, the solid and the imaginary. It all exists, so how much more is ALSO possible? It's the MIDDLE classes, trapped inside their two-story ranchers that put the ironclad mold on what CAN and CAN'T be. The streets LET you believe." -- Matt Wagner, in the character of Edsel, "Mage: The Hero Discovered"
Steve Lortz (Stephen L. Lortz) died yesterday. I have SO much to say about him, and it will be turning up here in the next day or two, but for now, we have the following from Dementia:
"If there is ANY justice in the universe, Steve is playing Dark Worlds with Tom and Kurt about now."
Remembering Stephen L. Lortz, Part Two.
Sometime in the autumn of 1976 I was wandering through the Raven's Haven, the gathering area within the student union of Anderson College. I walked past a booth near the middle of the east wall, and my eyes were drawn by a pair of beautifully painted 25mm medieval knights in the center of the table. The booth was occupied by a stocky fellow with a full brown beard, an even stockier fellow with enormous red muttonchop sideburns, and a skinny fellow who reminded me of Maynard G.Krebs. I expressed interesst, and the conversation began.
The game on the table was called, "Knights of the Round Table" by Phil Edgren out of The Little Soldier. We talked about it a bit, and then the redhead waxed rhapsodic about another game called Dungeons & Dragons. Contact information was exchanged, and I made arrangements to join them for gaming the following week. (As it happened, a couple of hours later I ran into Maynard again, and we ended up talking for several hours; I didn't learn that he was the same person I had seen earlier until years later, but that is another story.)
One fifteen minute conversation, and my life changed irrevocably. Not because of the content, but because of the people. "Maynard" resolved into Bob Buehler, who would perform my marriage ceremony eight years later, and remains one of my best friends. The redhead was Kurt Lortz, whose friendship was a light in the distance until his death in 2006. And the third fellow, the one with the full beard, was Kurt's brother Steve, who died yesterday (April 24).
I spent a lot of time talking to Steve during the next several months, while I was at Anderson, and we remained in contact over the years. In early 1979 I flew out to San Francisco to attend Dundracon 4 and hang out with Steve and his co-workers at The Chaosium, a gaming company. We spent a lot of time wandering around the bay area and talking.
We stayed in touch, vaguely. After Kurt died, I made a significant effort to vist Steve at least once a year, and managed to do so through about 2010, when life got in the way, again. But by then there was Facebook and the lines of communication stayed open.
Steve didn't so much influence the content of my thought as the shape of it. He was something of a compulsive systematizer, as well as a compulsive teacher, and I was always a willing sponge. We talked about gaming and drawing and math and epistemology and metaphysics. He was one of the VERY few people who actually managed to get inside my head, and I will miss him terribly.
Dredged from 2013:
Discovered in a journal entry from 2006: "I've never liked improv; it's sort of like watching someone you hate play Russian Roulette. You know there is probably going to be a big payoff, but he keeps spinning the cylinder and it never seems to happen."
"Never confuse reality with the truth, and never let either get in the way of the story." ---From the movie "Their Finest", on screen writing.
“Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry.” Terry Pratchett, from "The Thief of Time"
It's Sir Terry's birthday, today, and the world is poorer without him. I wondered how hard I would have to look, starting with, "The paint wouldn't even have time to dry," to get the quotation above; the answer is, Not at all; it was the first several responses. In a world full of horrors, this strikes me as one thing that is wholeheartedly RIGHT.
Last day of class today; I have spent about 300 hours with these people (and a few others) since the first of the year. Six of us spent another three hours at the bar next door talking about everything under the sun. I'm going to miss these people...