The Spirit of the Thing

“Okay I give up…”

“AHH!”

“Seriously WHAT is your deal?”

“A ghost! Jesus fucking -”

“Oh NOW you notice there’s a ghost? Pff.”

“I don’t – Sorry… what?”

“I’ve been haunting you for months, fucko.”

“… really no need to be rude.”

“Sorry.”

“We just met, is all…”

“Yes. Sorry. It’s just been…”

“… hardly know what I’ve done, but I really don’t think it warrants…”

“…really frustrat- you don’t know what you’ve done?”

“… did you say you’ve been haunting me?”

“YES. And you’ve ignored. All of it.”

“I haven’t.”

“No one’s that good an actor.”

“I’m not saying that, I’m saying I haven’t noticed a haunting.”

“… You…”

“No offense.”

“You didn’t notice?”

“… I don’t think so?”

” I’ve been randomly shifting furniture around your rooms for the last three months!”

“… You have.”

“Yes!”

“That was you.”

“Yes!”

“Huh…”

“Who did you think it was?”

“… Me?”

“WHY WOULD – Sorry…”

“Salright.”

“Do you… Remember… Moving any furniture?”

“Ha. That’s funny. No.”

“Then -”

“I just assumed I did it when I wasn’t paying attention.”

“… I-I can’t even process that.”

“Same.”

“Okay forget the furniture for now. What about the lights?”

“Lights?”

“I turn on every light in the house before you get home from work and all I get in response is it kind of tired sigh.”

“That was you?”

“I think we’ve established that.”

“I thought I just left them all on my the way out the door.”

“You NEVER do that.”

“Really? That’s a relief.”

“HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW THIS.”

“Dude I’ve got ADHD. All this is just… How my life works.”

“You’re telling me I cover every flat surface in the kitchen with half full glasses of water, and open every window in the house, and you figured it was something you did and forgot about?”

“I mean… Probably?”

Standing on the Shoulders of a Giant (named Garnet)

Something “interesting” about the Avatar series, both of them, is that people get grumpy with Korra for having a little bit of representation that didn’t go far enough, early enough, while Last Airbender has NO representation and everybody’s okay with that.

It’s like catching heat for getting a D in trig while your sibling didn’t even take trig (and no one had the guts to even TRY trig when they were in school) but they’re still everyone’s favorite kid.

Or… Steven Universe. A in trig. A+ maybe. People complain their freshman year math wasn’t great. “Why did they take so long to take trig? Why didn’t they take it when they were freshmen? Why didn’t they take it when they were in junior high?!?”

Or they point out the B in art. Or the C in the Life Skills they took senior year to finish out the last semester after they already had enough credits to graduate.

“They could have been MORE.”

Yeah. But instead they were brave enough to be first.

If another show goes further, later, consider the possibility it’s because these other shows moved the starting line.

Balanced Scales

“Ready to go?”

“Two seconds. Need to feel Amalia.”

My wife nodded, checking her phone while I rooted in the fridge.

“We’re low on greens and fungus.”

She swiped the screen. “Those sliced toadstools? I can put it on the list.”

“And mustard greens.” I checked the tupperware next to the reptile enclosure. “We’re good on grubs, which is great since I’m not going to be anywhere near the store this week.” I fished the blind, scaly, larval worms out of the grainy bedding in the feed container, then tossed them into the enclosure for Amalia to snatch up. Which she did, energetically. It always impressed me how she generated such loud smacking sounds with no lips.

My wife came over, dividing her attention between the shopping list on her phone and what she called our ‘alleged pet.’

“You’re impressive, Amalia,” she said to the inattentive, rainbow-scaled reptile – one of the largest any of our neighbors had seen outside a zoo, “but if I’d known how much work a basilisk would be…”

“The kids like her. And we don’t have rats.”

“We never had rats. And the kids, I can’t help notice, don’t feed her. Or clean the enclosure.”

I paused, trying to remember if I was at thirteen grubs or an even dozen, then shrugged and put the lid on the container. “I don’t mind, though it’d be easier -”

“Don’t say pixies.”

“- if I could give her pixies. All the books and the kids at the store recommend it.”

“Sweetie. I love you. The kids love you. Probably even Amalia loves you, since you feed her, but I lived for too long in New York apartments to ever let pixies in my house, knowingly. Line drawn.”

“I know.” I grinned. It was a familiar conversation. “You don’t think you’d enjoy watching her eat them?”

“No. Ugh.” She shuddered. “They crunch. No. Never.”

“Fair enough.” I slide the enclosure door closed. “Ready to go?”

She gave me a look. “I am. You need to wash your hands.”

Great. Again.

Nothing wakes you up from a dead sleep more effectively than the sound of a pet quietly retching on your new carpet at five in the morning.

“SON of a -” I stumbled toward the kitchen while my wife rolled out of her side of the bed and led the dog to the backyard. She was already dropping back onto her pillow by the time I’d got back with paper towels in hand.

“Ugh…” I wiped at the viscous puddle, giving thanks for the stain resistant carpet coating. Extra cost – SO worth it. “And what a surprise – a big clump of cloth.”

“Wha…” my wife’s voice crawled muzzily out of the comforter. “Where’s he getting that stuff?”

“I’ll give you one clue,” I said, plucking the wad off the carpet. “Red felt.”

She groaned. “Gnomes? Again?!”

“Looks like it.” I peered at the fuzzy, soggy glob. “Maybe two or three.”

“And just the hats?”

“Just the hats.” I pushed myself to my feet. Maybe their clothes are some other … thing. Substance. Whatever.”

“Digestible?”

“Maybe it’s just… skin.” I shrugged. “Explains why there’s never any belt buckles.”

No reply from the bed while I shuffled into the bathroom and dropped the wad of sogginess into the trash. She sat up as I turned around.

“Well, I’m not going back to sleep with that image in my head.”

“Sorry.”

Skin? Really?”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

She stood, and we headed back toward the kitchen, breakfast, and an apologetic dog by the back door.

“Maybe he’s making a political statement,” I said.

“… what?”

“The red caps. Maybe…” I trailed off, staring down at the dog through the screen, trying to turn MAGA into Munch A Gnome… Something.

I shook my head and opened the door. “Nevermind. I need coffee.”

Hobsmythe

“Officer Hobsmythe, in your report, you state you subdued the… irate hobgoblin with a binding spell.”

“Yessir.”

“… You reported your service wand damaged beyond use after the incident last weekend.”

“… Yessir.”

“So, if you don’t mind my asking…”

“I improvised. Sir.”

“You improvised. A wand.”

“Yessir.”

“And that… Worked.”

“Yessir. Fairly well, actually.”

“Did the… Improvised device… Survive?”

“Yessir. I have it right…”

“Officer Hobsmythe.”

“Yessir.”

“That’s a pink, plastic…”

“Chopstick, sir.”

“Chopstick. With some kind of toy -”

“Shopkin, sir. A cabbage, I think.”

“- shopkin. Stuck to the end.”

“Yessir.”

“For pity’s sake WHY?”

“Needed a way to make the wand ‘notable and unique’, sir, per crafting guidelines, and it’s what I had to hand.”

“How -”

“My niece, sir. She’s mad for the things. I still had one in my pocket from babysitting last week.”

seven league

As they walked, the grass border along the pavement grew shaggy, then positively neglected. He commented on it, just to have something to say, but she only scowled harder at the ground in front of them.

It felt to him as if Wilderness and Times Before crept in wherever he wasn’t looking, trying to act casual and “always been here” when he gave them a straight on glare.

It got worse.

Worse? Probably unfair. Say it progressed.

They’d lose sight of the path ahead, because of a curve or a rise or a particularly aggressive shrub, and as it came into view, there was both less and more to see.

Less path. More wild.

Pavement became paver stones, became gravel, became groomed dirt, became a thin line of flattened grass in a sea of whispers.

Mountains rose in the not-so-distance, which he felt sure he would have noticed earlier, had they BEEN there earlier. “Where are we going?” he asked, too late for it to matter very much.

She kept walking, leading the way along a single file barely-trail, her gaze still on the ground ahead of her, calling to the next change, just around the next turn.

“Away,” she murmured. “You’ll see.”

Some Thoughts on Black Panther, from a White Dude

So.

I love this movie. Love. I think it’s probably the best overall film Marvel’s come out with, viewed holistically. I might like a certain action scene or the humor in another movie more BUT, taken as a whole, Black Panther is STRONG. Top three, if not top of the list.

And, I have confirmed, very rewatchable.

I’ve been struggling with what else – if anything – to say about the movie, and honestly trying to decide if I should say anything about it. I love it, and I think it’s great, and I think if you haven’t seen it, and you’re someone in my circles, you probably should, because you’ll like it.

But what else?

I mean, the empowerment and representation in this movie is not mine, and that is an inarguable good, so maybe I should just shut the fuck up about it.

Maybe no one wants to hear that I think Blank Panther also has something important to say to me and other white guys. Maybe I don’t even need to step into the “what Black Panther has to say” conversation at all.

And if you feel that way, I respect that, and you should definitely tune this next bit out.

Because… this movie is about Wakanda, right?

And what’s Wakanda?

Wakanda is, by all accounts (including the exposition in the movie) a pretty blessed country. It has resources and advantages no one else in the world has. It has made advances no one else in the world has, and in fact enjoys benefits no one else in the world even imagines can be.

“You guys have hoverbikes?!?”

It has, in short, all the best stuff.

And, at the start of the movie (and throughout the fictional history of this country) what Wakanda does with these gifts is:

  • use them to protect itself
  • preserve its advantage
  • ensure that everyone else’s problems do not become its problems.

So… basically… white men in the real world.

And without discussing spoilers, I will say this.

The movie demonstrates a healthy, helpful, I think necessary path forward for anyone with those kinds of advantages.

And it’s not more guns.

It’s not war and occupation in every country we don’t agree with.

It’s not continuing the same selfish, inward-focused, personal preservation that has been our go-to move throughout history.

In a time of conflict, fools builds a wall barriers, and the wise build bridges.

Right?

So.

Without (I hope) taking anything away from everyone to whom this movie will speak much more fully, much more emotionally, and much more personally, I hope I can say that it also has something to tell a middle-aged white dude.

And I’m going to shut up and take notes, because it’s got a hell of a good point.

The Internet is Too Big

I’ve spent the better part of two days worth of free time hunting for two posts on two unrelated subjects.

The first, older, was a really interesting discussion about how it would change werewolf stories if werewolves (and lycanthropes) weren’t tied to the lunar cycle. The idea was proposed, and the following conversation broke out what that would look like. It was good. 80% sure it was on Tumbler.1

The second, far more recent1, probably also on Tumblr2, was a shorter thing about how, given what we know about loss and depression, Bruce Wayne, having lost his parents in an event guaranteed to saddle him with CPTSD, would far more likely become an unmotivated, antisocial shut-in, rather than hitting the gym and traveling the world to study dozens of schools of hand to hand violence.3

I still haven’t found either post. It’s driving me to serious distraction.

Update: The original Batman observation was from an article on Patton Oswalt, from Oswalt himself. Thanks to Christian Griffen for the quote:

He said he now saw the lie of so many of his favorite comic books that portray the impact of a death in the family. “If Bruce Wayne watched his parents murdered at 9, he wouldn’t become this cut hero,” he said, referring to the Batman origin story. “He would become Gotham’s most annoying slam poet. How about someone dies, and they just get fat and angry and confused? But no, immediately, they’re at the gym.”


  1. There’s a better than 50% chance I dreamed one or both of these posts, and I’m searching for things that don’t exist. In which case, I should probably write it all down in as much detail as I can ‘remember’. 
  2. Because Tumblr is where fan-theories go to get exposed to gamma-radiation and hulk-out into spectacular monsters. 
  3. My own follow-up on that subject: it would be recluse-slob-billionaire’s child who’d become both a philanthropist and secret crime-fighter while presenting a public face of youthful indiscretion, because parent-issues, but that’s a whole different discussion. 4 
  4. Basically, a DC world where Bruce Wayne hits 70 with a personality somewhere between Trump and the WoW player from that one South Park episode, but his oldest child (estranged, from four marriages ago) is sort of Paris Hilton: early adult years involved a few leaked sex tapes, many tales of wild parties… yet a remarkably savvy business record since then… and maybe a few years of international travel and mystery, and now The Kid is funding urban renewal projects and job initiatives (like any billionaire who really wants to stop crime SHOULD do), and hey there’s this ninja tactician mystery woman in the Justice League. Pick your Batman-analog