Tags: collectible


Thaumatology 101: The Velveteen Rabbit

Continuing my rather eccentric defense of stuffed animals, we have the following:

It is a matter of basic magic that any object which is often handled by a specific person will begin to store some of the energy that is focused on it. With this in mind, Margery Williams wonderful little story "The Velveteen Rabbit" can be seen to operate on sound magical principles; an inanimate object which is loved will eventually develop, to some extent, an ability to love back.

There are, of course, people who will argue this point, and even find it absurd, and for them I have nothing but pity.

Uncle Hyena

More Cluelessness

Got a call from the Electric Gnome just after noon, saying that if I wanted to catch Clueless in all his drunken glory, I should come by, or at least call. I called ten minutes later, hoping to get Clueless, and got the gnome again, saying I needed to get there ASAP, things were out of control.

I took a shower and fed Dementia, and got there around 2:30. We were met on the front porch by a smiling gnome, and found an equally smiling and happy Clueless inside. It seems that our friendly gnome had applied a liberal amount of high grade herbal anesthesia.

Much mutual love was expressed, after which Dementia and I took Clueless out to see "50 First Dates", which was quite watchable (for an Adam Sandler movie)(and it had several nice shots of a beautiful blue water yawl, for which I will forgive much...).

Clueless announced he had had next to no alcohol since Thanksgiving, in spite of the nearly empty vodka bottle on the living room floor when we arrived...

He expects me to give him his guns back on March 1. Between now and then I will have to explain that he will not get them back in the foreseeable future. I am not looking forward to that particular conversation...

Uncle Hyena

The Movie Update

In the hopes of a post with more meaning, later...

This weekend we saw three movies about elaborate heists, all of which went wrong for one reason or another, and yet turned out well enough in the end. Quality was all over the place. As a former second story man and life long student of con games, well... Educational, these weren't.

"The Perfect Score." Acting award: Scarlett Johansson, who is just amazing. One of these days I will see her in a movie that I actually LIKE. Not that this one was awful, it was just by the numbers, with occasional bits of idiocy.

"Catch That Kid." Acting award: Kristen Stewart, 13 year old surfer chick who seems REALLY likely to grow up to be the next Jennifer Garner, if not more (always assuming the fashion of the day presents her with roles worth having). Otherwise... even more obviously by the numbers, even more idiocy.

"The Big Bounce." Acting award: Morgan Freeman, who can make ANYTHING work, with special mention of Sara Foster, who is both amazingly beautiful AND competent. Lots of talent in the cast, but... Elmore Leonard writes stories with great dialogue featuring hard cases whose most likable feature is their bravado and flash, Rupert of Henzau types. Luke Wilson fits this profile like a tuxedo on an ape. And then there is the dialoge... Leonard's novels tend to be adapted to the screen by people who don't understand them. The story goes that John Travolta, a Leonard fan, had to fight line by line to get the insipid garbage out, and Leonard's original dialogue back in, when they were filming "Get Shorty". Travolta knew what he was doing. Caper wise... the poor and stupid robbing the rich and stupider; anything is possible.

While I am being critical of caper and con movies, I was recently reminded of the grossly over-rated "The Usual Suspects", which always leads me to the even more grossly over-rated "The Spanish Prisoner". "Suspects" is fun to watch, if you enjoy that sort of thing (and I usually do), but its reputation hinges on the Big Surprise at the end, which is so broken and hokey and unbelievable that I always wonder what the critics were smoking. As a student of con games, I just found it offensive. All of this goes twice (except the "fun to watch" bit) for "Prisoner".

Uncle Hyena

Invisibility and Other Things

I've talked about Clueless is a master glamour-caster. Dementia has a similar trick with invisibility; she used it to avoid Clueless in the Dealer's Room at the convention. How good is it?

My chiropractor's office has an inner counter/ outer counter set up; they are two adjacent sides of a ten by ten cubicle. I was standing at the inner counter, making my next appointment when a women came to the outer counter and signed in. She was attractive, somewhat shy of 40, and seemed to project vivacity. We turned pretty much simultaneously to go through the door between the inner and outer counters, and I held the door so she could come in before I went out... and she was Dementia. I had been staring at her from a distance of ten feet for about 30 seconds, and I hadn't recognized her. And I am GOOD with faces... Scary.

Imbolc has come and gone, but since I am posting these this year, here is the Imbolc poem from my Sabbat Cycle. It was (I think) the only one of the first seven poems that was not finished for the day, mostly because I couldn't get a handle on the holiday; it didn't mean anything to me. And then I took a second look at the Christian overlay holiday: Candlemas. And I thought: Light bringers. Tricksters. THAT, I could work with.

Uncle Hyena

III) Imbolc/ Candlemas/ February 2: Trickster's Song

We brought the light from the Darkness;
We brought the fire from the cold;
Though our deeds of valor are many,
It's our deeds of betrayal you're told.
They tell you we're not to be trusted;
That our way can bring only pains;
But THEY think you're nothing but cattle,
And we want you free of your chains.
We taught you to stand on your own legs;
We gave you language and tools;
We would have you find freedom in danger,
Not wallow in safety like fools.
We know that the Light needs the Darkness
Just as much as the Darkness needs Light;
Our way winds and twists through the twilight,
With no end to the journey in sight!


Capricon and Craziness

So another Capricon has come and gone. As is usual, I got sick leading into the convention (more on that later) and never really recovered. We had every intention of going down on Thursday night and staying until Sunday afternoon, but ended up not getting there until Friday afternoon and leaving Saturday evening. The con seemed pretty good, but I was unhappy enough physically that I couldn't enjoy it much.

We DID get to have some face to face conversation with the Dreaded Macdonald, he of tarkrai fame. That was very, very good; he is very much a kindred spirit, and I feel bad that I have not kept closer ties with him.

On Wednesday or Thursday I was talking to CeeCee on IM, and mentioned that I always get sick the week before conventions. She suggested I see a shrink; I responded that without respect and trust, counseling is pointless, and I don't, for the most part, do either respect or trust very well, and never when I am PAYING the other person to talk to me. This leaves me to solve the riddle on my own, though it isn't really very difficult.

I am hugely ambivalent about conventions; they represent an opportunity to do many things I truly enjoy, and to see many people that I might not otherwise. On the other hand, they involve dealing with people in large groups, which I hate, and inevitably dealing with a variety of broken people whom I would happily flush out of the gene pool.

There is also the fact that preparing for conventions takes energy I don't have, and the fact that I am pretty much ALWAYS fighting some minor bug or other, that is just waiting for me to lower my guard. The end result is that I usually turn up sick the day before the con. Usually I go; if it is boring, I spend a lot of time sleeping, and come home more-or-less glad I went. If I have a really good time, I usually spend the following week on the verge of hospitalization. Such is life.

Uncle Hyena

Pagan Interlude

Lacking a sound system, I often sing in the car. Tonight, in preparation for Capricon, I was singing "Wild Hunt's Justice", which I may inflict on a filk circle next weekend. This led to thinking about the Wild Hunt, which in turn led me to Artemis.

Artemis has always embodied an element of rebellion; she is very much the goddess of the Road Less Traveled. Back in the day, she was perceived as a virgin because celibacy was a way for a woman to break free of the patriarchal, fertility oriented mainstream. But at the same time, celibacy in OUR culture is warped and prissy and pretty much everything that the Huntress is NOT.

And then it occurred to me. Sometime in the last few hundred years, Artemis MUST have gotten laid... and thus become the goddess of contraception, and by extension, abortion.

This new insight re-establishes her dominion over the Road Less Traveled, and makes me like her a WHOLE LOT better.

Uncle Hyena

Take Up Your Cross...

Dementia and I were discussing the storyline of "The Da Vinci Code", and in the process, found ourselves trying to separate what WE had been taught in Sunday school from what actually happened.

The history of Christianity is pretty well documented through the end of the first century CE, and then again after Constantine usurped it and turned it into what would become the Roman Catholic Church in the early fourth century CE. In between, the message continued to spread and gather a few converts along the way, and always there was a conflict between people who actually GOT the message and wanted to do what Jesus had preached, and those who wanted to stabilize it into a real religion, usually one that provided them with a meal ticket in the process.

Christianity was intended to be a mad, destabilizing kind of thing. What Jesus actually preached was, "Do good, spread the word, die." (See my journal on 10/26/2003 for an essay named "The Call" which will expound on that...)

The thing that came out of today's discussion was a visual concept: The juxtaposition of two contemporary images. On the one hand, you have the Via Flammia heading away from Rome, with the road lined with crosses on which hang slaves in all states from screaming and writhing to rotting and disintegrating, and on the other hand you have a preacher who is so charismatic that PLANTS listen to him standing on a hilltop in Palestine saying, "Take up your cross and follow me." If you can't see the Via Flammia when Jesus talks about "taking up your cross", you are missing the point.

Christianity is a death cult. Do good. Spread the word. Die.

Uncle Hyena

Twenty Nine Years Ago This Moment...

I decided to take a walk.

I strapped on my super-heavy-duty hiking boots, put on my parka (EVERYONE had a parka in those days...), and left the house at about 1:00 AM. There were about six inches of clean snow on the lawns, but the roads were clear; it was about 10 degrees out (F; call it minus 12 C). There was a full or nearly full moon. Four and a half hours, and fifteen miles later, I came home.

I don't really remember what I thought about on that walk; I do know that I saw VERY few cars (four, I think...) and had a moon shadow for most of the walk; the forest preserves start about a mile and a half from my parent's house, and I was surrounded by woodlands and swamps for most of the trip. For one three-quarter mile stretch, North America's largest cemetery was off my left shoulder. Cemeteries make INTERESTING sounds in the middle of the night in the middle of winter...

It was pointless, exhausting, painful, and utterly magical, and I truly wish I had done similar things more often, and that I had more memories to compare with it.

Uncle Hyena

Auld Lang Syne

It's that time of year again; pretty soon everyone will be expected to sing that strange song that most people can't pronounce, and pretty much nobody understands.

I just went through a couple of online bios of Robert Burns, and while there is much talk of the conflict between the high and low church during his lifetime, there is not one mention of the event that shaped the Scottish countryside, and was most influential to Scottish behavior, during Burns lifetime.

Burns was born in 1759; in 1746, Scotland had lost a civil war. Kilts were outlawed; swords were outlawed; military rifles were outlawed. Scotland was subject to SEVERE anti-sedition laws.

Burns loved Scotland, and he hated the English, and he spent most of his life "laying it between the lines."

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Two old friends meet in a tavern, and one says to the other, "You pay for your own drink, and I'll pay for mine, but we'll remember the old days."

In other words, "There's no point in making a toast that will break the law, and get us both into trouble; I know what you want to say, and I agree with you, but not in public, and not today. But the day will come..."

Should ancient insult be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should honored dead forgotten lie, in this more peaceful time?
Let's raise a glass to friend, and foe, and let it be a sign,
That freedom's still worth dying for, as in days of Auld Lang Syne.

A few night's hence, a significant portion of the English speaking world will greet the new year with a toast to Charles Edward Stuart and the fallen of Cullodden in complete ignorance of what they are doing. And somewhere, Bobbie Burns will be grinning like a fool.

Here's to you, Mr. Burns; rest in peace.

Uncle Hyena

Best "Lord of the Rings" Story

At WindyCon in November 2001 (just before "The Fellowship of the Ring" came out), there was a panel called "Lord of the Rings Memories". It was intended as a forum for people to tell their stories about what the book had meant to them over the years.

The showstopper:

One fellow was reading "Return of the King" by the light of parachute flares while on duty on the bunker line at a fire base in Viet Nam in 1970. The Rohirrim had reached the edge of the Pellenor Fields, saw the devastarion, and had a moment of doubt. Our boy read that, and was SURE that they were going to turn around and go back the way they had come. And then Theoden made his best speech in the book, blew on a borrowed horn so loudly it burst asunder, and the Rohirrim charged ahead. And then our boy jumped to his feet, fired his M-16 into the air, and shouted, "Ride Theoden! Ride to Gondor!" The Viet Cong responded with a burst of (fortunately inaccurate) rifle fire; our boy realized that he had gotten a BIT carried away, and ducked back under cover.

It's quite a book, it is...

Uncle Hyena