Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Horror Theme Park Dream

            Exceptionally fun vivid nightmare/dream last night.  I seemed to be in some kind of simulation or theme park that was horror themed and all over this park there were numerous scenarios that could play out so that I could live a scary movie.

No, not like that.
But I would like to say this is one of the better Goosebumps books.

            There was an area was a valley in which there is a crashed or landed UFO.  Dependent on where I was approaching it from a different threat would appear, I got cyborgs akin to the Necron or Borg coming into the valley.  I am sure a different angle would have resulted in little grey men or Lovecraft’s Mi-go.
            Another section was a dark neighborhood that I could hear screams coming from one house, shadows moving across the windows in another, an open garage with no light but the sound of power tools revving up, and another with an argument between two people turning violent.  This is one area in which the horror felt a little too human and identifiable, ghosts are fun, spousal abuse is not.
            There were some distant things I didn’t visit.  A spooky castle, a haunted forest, and a more traditional looking amusement park area that I am guessing was patrolled by some kind of actual monster… or more than likely clowns.
            The last thing I visited was the one that was the most subtle and strange.  I was in what looked to be a regular hotel bar.  It was somewhat swankier than typical, as everyone was dressed nicely, but as I moved thru it you could see the horror elements, someone selling mysterious drugs, someone following you for unknown reasons, and two identical women in red dresses that I am guessing one is supposed to be the “evil” twin.


            I guess I should watch more mediocre horror films before bed from now on, I get to wander around a “West World” or “The Game” type dreamscapes.  I woke up with a sort of emotional high from the tension, “threat”, and myriad of possibilities.  As for the movie, I watched to potentially induce this experience it was “Demonic (2015)” on Netflix.  It had several jump scares, which I disliked, and two good actors that were slumming it and given nothing to work with.


______________________________
            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Monday, August 21, 2017

HP Lovecraft's "The Secret Cave" part 2

            Yesterday was the birthday of cult horror icon, HP Lovecraft.  Thru his writing, he has indirectly had massive impact on the world of fiction, so I decided to do another rewrite on one of his old works.  I have done this writing exercise 3 times prior, One, Two, and Three.

Standard Introduction
            I am a fan HP Lovecraft.  Not his god-awful racism of course, but the fact that he wrote in such a stilted un marketable way.  I think it was Neil Gaiman (Though I can’t find the interview) that described HP’s work as "a churning morass of adjectives".  But the ideas in the stories, the mysterious and weird parts that lend themselves so well too modern horror are often great.
            The idea of humanity not being important at all, that the universe is chaotic and hostile, and that even knowing about these things leave the protagonists of the stories insane from the knowledge, those are all cool.
            What is also cool is that all of HP Lovecraft’s writings are public domain.  They can be re-printed, referenced, and even re-written by those (like me) who are fans of the ideas but want to make the writing cleaner, or tighter, or just less racist.  (Seriously, why did you name the cat that Howie?  Did you think it was funny?)

Today’s Entry
            Today’s entry is a continuation of yesterday’s.  As I said, the stub of a story “The Secret Cave” was written by HP when he was 7 and could easily have been adapted to be a much larger story in his adult years, but instead it was only published as the unfinished work of a literal child long after HP’s death.
            I have already proven the story had more legs than the stub gave it credit for as this is Part 2, each part of which is longer than the original.  I hope this story makes sense and is enjoyable.

            If you want to do this yourself, here is a link to HP Lovecraft’s complete works, or at least his work in horror.  I believe he wrote some romance stories too and I have no idea where to find those.
            Anyway, here is the story.  I hope you enjoy it.

The Secret Cave or John Lee's Adventure, pt2


            The melody returned for a moment and then faded.  John and Alice began walking with quick steps as fast as they could without their candles flickering out from the movement.  They could hear the melody again every few minutes, but kept step in a straight line as best they could and eventually reached water.
            “What?” asked John.
            “Look,” said Alice pointing at something, the light of her candle reflected off a metal plate hanging from a chain on the side of a rowboat.
            They moved toward the boat.  It was old but in good shape, there were oars, some dusty bottles, rope that looked stretched from overuse and near its breaking point.  It had all the things a little boat would have.  It also had the small locked box from before.
            “What is that doing here?” asked Alice.
            “I don’t know,” said John, setting down his candle and picking up an oar to brandish like a too long club.  “But whoever put it here must be strong.”
            They stood there thinking over what they should do, “We should get in,” said John.
            “What,” asked Alice.
            “We should get in and leave,” said John.  “If there is a boat it must be able to get in here, so there is a way out.  We should get out.”
            “This shouldn’t be here,” said Alice.  “You said it, we went away from the sound of the ocean, there shouldn’t be water.”
            They heard the whistling melody, it was louder and clearer.  It was closer.
            “Yeah, we should get in and go,” said Alice.
            They pushed the boat into the water and ever aware of the loud splashing sounds they made tried to haul themselves into the little craft.  Alice dropped her candle into the water but John’s stayed lit and they used it to light another, the last candle, from the box.  John began rowing, but being 10 is not being an adult, he was too small and not strong enough for powerful strokes.  They moved too slowly out into the darkness of the still water, away from the shore of the cave, and away as best they could from whatever was making the melody.
            The water was salty, warm enough that they knew it was from outside.  But the water was so still and so dark.  Where was the movement water splashing in from a beach should have?  Where was the current and tide?
            Then they heard it, the sound of something large dive into the water from the shore.  Something was coming for the boat, and they were not far enough away to be safe.  They felt the small waves of something moving toward the boat smack the sides of the craft.  John pulled up the oars and again brandished one as a club but the unsteadiness of the boat kept him from standing for a power swing.
            As the light of the candles reflected off the ripples cast in the water, the figure took shape.  It looked like a broad-shouldered man, weighed down by heavy clothing like a black coat, bobbing wordlessly thru the water toward the boat.
            “What do you want?” yelled Alice at the wordless figure.  The figure’s arms moved him closer to the boat with each wide stroke.  “What do you want!?”
            His hand.  No, it’s hand, clasped to the rim of the boat.  The black skin and blue fingernails of its grip started to tilt the whole thing to one side.
            “No!” yelled John smashing the fingers with an overhead swing of the oar.  The black skinned hand pulled back into the water and everything was still once more.
            “Where did it go?” asked John.
            “Down,” said Alice.  “I think.”
            The water was still and the boat floated along its surface in the darkness with no more sound than a leaf on a pond.
            “John,” said Alice.  “Look up.”
            John turned his eyes to what should have been the blackness of a cave ceiling, what he saw instead were stars.  It was a night sky glittering above them.  “What?” he said.
            “I don’t know,” said Alice.  “We didn’t leave the cave.  And even if we had, it wouldn’t be night time.”
            Gazing harder John saw one star in particular glowing bright green.  “That shouldn’t be there,” said John.
            “What?” asked Alice.
            “Do you see any constellations?” asked John.  “I don’t see Orion or the Big Dipper.”

            “I don’t know any constellations,” said Alice.  “But I don’t see the moon.”


            The boat started listing.  Something was knocking it from side to side from underneath.
            “John!” screamed Alice.
            “Get ready!” John yelled.  “We might have to make a swim for it!”
            “I can’t,” screamed Alice.
            “Just hold on to me!” said John as the boat barrel rolled.
            The candles extinguished as they hit the water, but the world did not go dark, instead the starlight seemed to intensify and the water became clear like the fresh air of a glade with rivulets of light cast thru the surface, like beams of the sun thru a tree canopy.
            Alice flailed trying to orient herself but seemed to be tumbling thru the water in terror.  The heavy lock box sank a short distance and then hung under the water.  The rope unspooled in the water like the roots of a lily pad.  The oars and boat were floating along the surface along with all the bottles.  The man in the heavy cloths outlined against the light of the night sky was still visible, gripped onto rim of the now upside down boat.
            John was a strong swimmer, he was able to dive for longer than a minute and knew a half dozen different strokes. Alice was set to start swim lessons in the summer and aside from treading to the edge of where her toes touched the floor of the beach, she had never swam before.
            I need to get Alice to the boat, she can float in the air pocket, thought John.  The plan was good, but incomplete.  First, I have to get that thing away from the boat.  He lamented that he did not have Alice to advise him on how to do that.  She would have a plan before needing to take another breath.
            As he hovered in the water looking at the flotsam drifting thru the still water in the starlight, it all came to him at once.  His hand snatched out and took hold of the drifting rope and started moving toward the thing while creating a looping knot.  The thing kicked in the water at John, but was slow in the water logged heavy cloths and only succeeded in getting its leg lassoed.
            John dived away from its grasping black hands and toward the heavy box that hovered in the water.  Like the boat an air pocket was keeping it from dropping any lower in the water, John would fix that.  He lashed the other end of the rope to the box while casting a glance to Alice who had managed to reach the surface but was still flailing trying to keep her head above the surface.
            The rope secured he took hold of the latch and yanked it hard.  The skin on his finger broke with blood from an edge on the metal, but he didn’t notice the blood for the whoosh of bubbles escaping the box and it dropping down beyond the reach of starlight.  The rope pulled tight and the figure that had the shape of a man and the black flesh of a monster gripped the edge of the row boat, but it grip was wet and broke from the boat.  But it found something else to grab, the foot of Alice.
            It began to sink ever lower and now Alice was pulled with it below the surface.  They only slid down a few feet below the surface, hovering in the water as if frozen, Alice no longer clawing to get above the surface, just stretching up as there were no more bubbles coming from her mouth and her eyes lost the look of consciousness.
            Dangling below her, caught between the weight of the box and the buoyancy of the girl was the thing stretched out and completely unobscured by bubbles.  Lit by starlight, John could almost see its face.  The skin was black as coal, gaunt as a skeleton, and flesh stretched tight as a leather rack.  The hollows of its skull where eyes should be showed no emotion, and the place where a mouth should be screaming in fear there was only a smooth place where no sign of lips had ever been.
            John floated there in the water taking in the image and another idea came to him then.  He swam to the surface and snatched a floating bottle and smacked it hard against the upside-down boat shattering it, nearly dropping it with his already bleeding hand.  John dove back down, kicking down deeper into the water, and taking hold of Alice’s leg to steady himself.
            John slashed at the creature’s hand with the broken bottle, drawing a small mist of blood but no sign of pain from the monster.  John began driving the sharp glass into the thing’s fingers, sawing at them.  Breaking the flesh, then tendon, and tearing at the joint.  The first two fingers came free with a much thicker gout of black blood clouding the water.
            John was half way thru the third when Alice’s foot slipped free and John and pushed her to the surface.
            Down, down, down, and out of sight went the eyeless, mouthless, coal blooded thing.
            John turned and swam to his sister who was floating face up in the water, eyes shut.  The water remained still as he pulled her over to the upturned boat and shook at her.  “Alice!”
            A sudden spurt of water and gunk sprayed from her coughing mouth as she burst back to consciousness and shrieked with her sore throat.
            “Alice,” John said.  “It’s me!”
            “John?” she was still yelling and flailing in the water.  “It’s here!”
            “No!” John yelled.  Taking her hand and pulling her to the boat.  “It’s gone!  It’s gone.”
            Taking hold of the boat Alice was crying and John was dropping off an emotional high.  They had been stalked, been upturned, fought, drowned, and he had sent something to the bottom of… an ocean?  The water was brackish in his mouth, less salty and warm than it had been in the cave.  It was not ocean water.  Were they in a sea or lake?
            The sky?  The cave?  Where are we?  John thought.
            “Alice,” said John.  “I want to go home.  I think I have had enough adventure.”
            “Yeah,” she said thru tears, almost laughing, then coughing sickly to get more drool and water out of her chest.  “Me too.”
            They heard a ‘thump’ as their boat bumped into a large stone in the water.  It was massive and smooth, the type they might put off shore to break up too strong a wave and protect the coast.
            Alice and John climbed up on the stone, marveling at it, wondering how far they had drifted under the sky of strange stars.  They left the boat to float near the stone.  As they stood atop it the starlight allowed them to look out and see, peeking out from the water were more stones, the children were standing on the out most ring of boulders arranged in some kind of pattern.
            “Wow,” said John.  “What is this?”
            “I don’t know,” said Alice.
            This was when the starlight began to fade as clouds rolled over the sky and darkness covered everything.  John and Alice held hands and sat on the stone to wait out the night.
            “John!” There was a man’s voice calling out.  “Alice!”
            The call echoing as if off the walls of a cave.  It was the voice of their father.  The light of a lantern rested on the two children in the darkness revealing them in their soaking cloths to their parents.
            John and Alice’s mother and father rushed to sweep them into hugs, followed by kisses, and then admonishment for going in the cellar, and then more hugs and kisses, and then more admonishment for going into these tunnels, “This is so dangerous you are not doing anything or going anywhere for months!  Years!” was the ultimate sentiment.
            The lantern’s light also fell on something no one thought to notice till all of the, ‘we’re-so-happy-you’re-all-rights’ and ‘we’re-furious-with-you-twos’ were said.  The lantern light fell on a series of stones arranged in the pattern of a twisted and curling star and the wall beyond the pattern, covered in glittering bits of stone set into the wall and a gleaming green gem as a point of prominence.
            There was a message, written in an old romantic language carved into the rock with some old lost tool.  It read, “Las estrellas son realmente preciosos”.
            The stars are truly beautiful.


            The End



Additional Commentary
            My rewrite is lightyears different than the inspiring material.  So much so that I almost regret associating the two.  If you at all enjoyed this story, please comment below and share it with other who enjoy such adventure stories.  Thank you for reading.

______________________________

            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

HP Lovecraft's "The Secret Cave" part 1

            Today is the birthday of cult horror icon, HP Lovecraft.  Thru his writing, he has indirectly had massive impact on the world of fiction, so I decided to do another rewrite on one of his old works.  I have done this writing exercise 3 times prior, One, Two, and Three.

Standard Introduction
            I am a fan HP Lovecraft.  Not his god-awful racism of course, but the fact that he wrote in such a stilted un marketable way.  I think it was Neil Gaiman (Though I can’t find the interview) that described HP’s work as "a churning morass of adjectives".  But the ideas in the stories, the mysterious and weird parts that lend themselves so well too modern horror are often great.
            The idea of humanity not being important at all, that the universe is chaotic and hostile, and that even knowing about these things leave the protagonists of the stories insane from the knowledge, those are all cool.
            What is also cool is that all of HP Lovecraft’s writings are public domain.  They can be re-printed, referenced, and even re-written by those (like me) who are fans of the ideas but want to make the writing cleaner, or tighter, or just less racist.  (Seriously, why did you name the cat that Howie?  Did you think it was funny?)

Today’s Entry
            While I previously went with his more accessible writing, and shorter stories at that, today I am working from a fragment that is just junk.  I guess his estate or old publisher was just binding together whatever they could at this point, because even though it was written in 1897 when Howard was a literal child and did not know how punctuation worked… it was published in 1959 by vultures attempting to capitalize on Lovecraft’s cult fame.
            “The Secret Cave or John Lees Adventure” is a fragment published after Lovecraft’s death.  Taken for what it is, a short adventure story about finding a mysterious cave in one’s basement as a child it is good.  Howard clearly had a bigger vocabulary and imagination than he knew how to express.  I had to hammer this thing like nobody’s business to work it into anything approaching a complete story.
            This is an exceptionally short work, but could have easily served as the outline for a scary children’s story in his adult life had he bothered to write it out more and put, “inspired by a story I wrote as a child” in the introduction.  You know how I KNOW it could have been more?  Because I turned it into a multipart story, each part of which is much longer than the original story.
            For more info, here is a link to the story, and here is a link to the Wikipedia entry.
            If you want to do this yourself, here is a link to HP Lovecraft’s complete works, or at least his work in horror.  I believe he wrote some romance stories too and I have no idea where to find those.
            Anyway, here is the story.  I hope you enjoy it.

The Secret Cave or John Lee's Adventure
            “Be good while I am away,” said Mrs. Lee “And don’t get into trouble.”
            “Yes Ma’am,” replied John.
            “Bye, Mama,” said Alice.
            Mr. & Mrs. Lee were going off for the day, and for the first time were going to leave John, who last week had turned 10, in charge of his little sister Alice, who was 8 but wiser than her brother.  As soon as the elder Lees were away the younger Lees went down cellar and began to rummage among the rubbish.  This rummaging would have been frowned upon by their parents.
            “John, we aren’t supposed to be down here,” little Alice leaned against the wall watching John.  “Mom doesn’t want us breaking things or getting hurt.  Let’s just go play pretend upstairs.”
            “Mom and Dad don’t let us play down here when they are here,” John said while making a boat out of barrel staves.  “So, we should play around down here when they are not around.”
            “They don’t let us play down here because they don’t want us hurt,” said Alice.
            “We won’t get hurt,” said John.  “And when they get home I can show them that I built a boat down here without getting hurt and after that they will have to let us play down here because we will have shown them that we won’t get hurt.”
            Alice gave a piercing cry as the bricks behind her crumbled away and she fell back into a hidden passage.
             “Oh, god,” said John as he rushed up to her and lifted her out.  “Tell me you aren’t hurt.  We don’t want to get in trouble.”
            As soon as her scream subsided she said, “The wall went away.”
            “Yeah, it did, didn’t it?” said John going to the hole and looking down a long passage.  It looked cold, it looked damp, and there was something else about it.  “Something is weird about this, let’s go down and see what this is.”
            “What?  No,” said Alice, moving to step back into the cellar.  “Hold on.  It’s too dark to just go down there.”
             Alice ran back upstairs to the kitchen and got a box of oversized candles left over from John’s birthday, climbed up to the high shelves for a little box of matches, and then went back to the cellar passage.
            “Here,” Alice said, handing the candles and matches to John.

            “Alice, you are so smart,” John said.  Alice blushed.


            The two once more entered the passage, lit by candles in tiny hands.  They could see the walls were plastered, that this hall had been part of the house ages ago.  They wandered deeper down the passage into what John suspected were bat caves, or when his imagination started taking hold pirates’ cave like from “Treasure Island”
            “We could find a mountain of treasure,” said John.
            “Or we could get bitten by rats or something and have to get shots,” said Alice.
            After walking further in, the plaster disappeared.  Lighting new candles they could see that the walls were hewn stone and the floor was packed earth and sand, signs that this had been part of a house disappeared.  They came to a wider open space in the earth, the light of their candles unable to show them the whole of what must be a cavern of some kind.
            “Where do you think we are?” asked John.
            “In a cave dumb-dumb,” said Alice.  “Did you forget?”
            “I mean compared to the house,” John said rolling his eyes.  “I would have thought we would reach the beach by now.
            “Let me see,” said Alice kneeling to the sandy floor.  She drew a square, “Here is the house,” she drew a long line off to the side, “There is the cliff over the beach,” she then turned her head, stood up and walked around her little drawing, “Which wall was the hole in?”
            John started thinking and pointing first to his left, then his right.  “Here?” he asked pointing.
            Alice nodded, “Okay,” she then drew a long line that was not quite side by side with the line for the beach cliff, “Guess this is the tunnel then,” and she put a wide mouth at the end of the line, “and this is the big part of the cave we are in.”
            “Listen,” said John.
            “What is it?” said Alice tensing and reaching to hold John’s hand.
            In the candlelight they both heard a hiss noise, or maybe more like heavy breathing.
            “It’s the beach,” said Alice.
            “Good,” said John.  “Hey, follow me.”
            “John, we are really deep,” said Alice.  “And this cave is too big for us to know how to find our way out.  We can’t even see one wall from the other.”
            “It will be alright,” said John.  “Here,” he wrote in the sand an arrow pointing to the hall out and started shuffling his feet, “we’ll leave a trail, and every so often we’ll make an arrow to point back the way we came.”
            Alice was anxious, but John’s plan made sense, “Alright,” she said.
            As they shuffled along the sound of the water became clearer and nearer.  Stopping every so often to draw an arrow, to light new candles, or to shake the sand from their shoes as, “I should have brought a stick from the basement for this” got muttered by each of them at various points.
            They finally stopped when they found a small locked box, sitting somewhat deep in the sand.
            “I knew this had to be a pirate cave,” said John.

            “What?” asked Alice.


            “This is a treasure chest,” said John.  “These are pirate caves.  They would come in thru the cave’s mouth on the beach, take their stuff up to whatever building was there before our house and sell it or hide it.”
            “That sounds crazy,” said Alice.
            “This must just be something they left down here and never got the chance to come back for,” said John.
            “Why would the leave it?” asked Alice.
            John handed his candle to Alice and pulled up on the box.  Hauling at it the thing eventually pulled free of the sand as he dropped back on his butt, “they left it here because it is heavy,” he said.  “They probably wanted to get a wagon or something and then just put it off.”
             “Okay, that makes sense,” Alice said nodding.  “How about we do that?”
            “What?” asked John.
            “I think we have gone far enough,” said Alice.  “And the box is too heavy to pull back with us.”
            “No, come on,” said John.  “This is an adventure, Mom and Dad would never let us do something like this again.”
            “That is one of the reasons we should go back,” said Alice.  “The other being we are going to run out of candles.”
            “Oh, yeah,” said John.  “That would be bad.  Let’s go get a lantern and tools or something.”
            “Yeah,” said Alice, in the tone that said she would not want to come back down again, whether they brought a lantern, tools, a team of dogs, or even with a bunch of grownups.
            John began to sulk as they turned back and began following back the trail of disturbed dirt and sand.  Counting the arrows and listening to the sound of the ocean start to fade.  It was of course faster to go back, knowing where you are going and not having to leave a trail is always faster, but something about it was off.  John was starting to hear the ocean louder again.
            “John,” said Alice.
            “I know,” he said.  “The ocean is getting louder.  Is the tide coming in?”

            “No, look,” Alice said, pointing to one of the arrows drawn in the sand.


            John gazed at it.  It looked wrong.  The lines were too wide, and it wasn’t as smooth as his sister’s clean lines.  They hadn’t drawn this arrow.  His eyes turned to the path.
            “This isn’t our path,” said John.
            “How could it not be?” asked Alice her voice raising and the slightest shiver in it forming.  “We made it.  It’s ours.  We are down here by ourselves.  We are by ourselves.  We’re by ourselves.” Alice started shaking and the light of her candle started to flicker.
            Alice became deathly quiet and John’s ears perked as they heard the unmistakable sound of a distant whistle.  It was clear and carried a melody that neither recognized.  The sound echoed and disappeared below the sound of the ocean.
            “What do we do?” asked Alice.  “What do we do? What do we do? What do we do?”
            “Stop,” snapped John.  The sound of the ocean was all they heard.  “Don’t follow the path.”
            “But--” Alice started to retort.
            “Listen,” said John.  “We started hearing the ocean more, so we got turned around.”
            “Okay,” said Alice, her mood cooling.  She took a deep breath and let it all out.
            “So, let’s turn around,” he said, taking Alice by the hand.  “And go away from the sound of the ocean.  We’re going home.”

            “We’re going home,” said Alice.

To be Continued in Part 2 tomorrow.

______________________________
            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "Religion of Orcs"

            In the past, I have talked about Orcs in the context of Dungeons and Dragons and how underwhelming they are as a culture.  I understand why that is, their place in fantasy mythology is that of the barbaric horde which seeks to pillage, rape, destroy, and dominate.  They are all things ugly, dumb, uncultured, and held together only by strength and are always the minions of some greater and more mindful evil, your Dark Lord Sauron or Duke Igthorn and the like.
            I find this boring, and between the presence of Gnolls, Goblinoids, and numerous other evil humanoids I feel that an opportunity was lost to give some dimension to Orcs in more recent editions of Dungeons and Dragons.  It is not like it can’t be done, “Warcraft” has done a lot to flesh out their orc culture and “Warhammer 40k” has at the very least made them alien/other enough that their silly-violence makes them distinct within the setting.
 
What is the value of a bad guy who is just a bad guy?
My Change to Orcs: Maltheism
            Orcs are too often portrayed as accepting their role in the world as being the followers of Gruumsh, the orc god who got his eye poked out by the god of the elves starting the whole enmity between the two groups.  This compounds an issue I have with Dungeons and Dragons views on religion in that everyone seems to acknowledge the existence of all the gods and races other than humans have gods tied to them in particular.
            Here is my first change, Orcs are Monotheistic.  They believe in only one god, all other gods are either fictions made up to deceive people, or are powerful outsiders capable of great things that gain power via being worshiped and give out power to certain followers to prove their benevolence.  But, none of these pretenders are the one true god.  Orcs know that there is only one god and they hate that guy.
            They see God as a cruel being.  Pitting people and races against one another, creating monsters and storms to break those who would otherwise live peacefully, and touching many with madness and disease to keep them low and in pain.  God is evil, and the Orcs want to kill God.

I think "Wondermark" is the most underrated webcomic out there.
            Orcs fight and build strength, keeping their minds clear with the purpose of destruction so that when they are faced with god in the afterlife they can attack and hopefully defeat him.  Not all Orcs are warriors, and they too contribute to the effort, an entire army of souls exist waging war on God in hopes of finally ending that bastard’s hold over everyone, to create a world free of calamity and mistrust, and to build an afterlife worth going to.
            Orcs dislike temples and places of worship, seeing them at best as comfortable delusions to keep the masses from seeing the bitter reality, and at worst they see them as tools for God to sow sorrow, mistrust, and false hope.  God pretends to be different deities to send followers to war against people who are deluded by a different pretend god.  Be it Bane or Pelor all “gods” are just God, and he is making everyone hate each other.
            Cults and Temples that use religion to harm people outright, via human sacrifice or oppressive social structures and stigmas are the worst villains in the eyes of the Orcs and are to be destroyed.
 
"Yep, gonna have to take care of this infestation before it starts to spread." -Thori, Orc Warrior
Spiritual Strength
            Orcs believe in the value and power of nature and Druidic tradition permeates their day to day life.  Stone circles which they call Ley Wells draw on and concentrate the power of nature to grant them bountiful harvests and gentle storms, protecting them from a wrathful god.
            Orc clerics do exist, but they are seen as stealing power from God, taking from the malign deity the power to do harm and turning it to good ends.  Eyes of Gruumsh are not God’s chosen in orc culture, but instead are the orcs who saw a vision of God and were able to curse him before the vision passed.
            There are always those who do not follow the path, many orcs find religion outside of their home culture, and some Orc tribes see a pantheon of gods as a likely state of cosmic affairs.  There are also those who are considered the worst of heretics, “True Believers” those orcs who not only believe in God’s evil, but wish to spread it by being a tool of the dark one’s malign whims.
 
"This shit is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with." -Thori, Orc Warrior
Virtues
            Orc culture favors certain key virtues.
            Honor, that is being direct and honest with one’s actions; generally speaking, lies and deception are seen as wastes of effort, being forthright with what they want and how much they are willing to pay for it saves them time.
            Valor, which they see as akin to improving one’s self, this also applies for setting goals and having the drive to attain them; this is not limited to combat, a person who takes risk in one’s job, romances, or exploration is seen as noble.
            Glory is when Valor pays off via talent and ability.  While it is noble to take risks, it is Glorious for those risks to find reward.  Orc paladins are often called “Glory Seekers” for their desire to attain a particular goal.
            Dominance is the final virtue, this is the ability to not only be good at what you do but to challenge others to be better.  Competition between individuals who seek to be the best and fending off challenges to one’s title is seen as a natural part of orc culture.  You cannot win one battle and rest on your laurels till passing in your sleep, you must continue to seek out battles to Dominate your profession.  Not enough to write one book or paint one mural, you must invite comparisons between your works and the works of others and continue to produce work in attempts to produce better and better products.
 
"For the Glory of the Mortal races I shall defeat the cultist chef Guy Fieri."
"Guy Fieri isn't a cultist, he is just a chef."
"Bullshit.  No one would wear their hair like that unless it was the will of their mad god."
            Too often Orc culture becomes consumed with combat.  It is hard to look at the world and see it as being controlled by a giant evil entity that seeks to make you suffer and be driven to do anything other than want to fight back.  There are orc communities that do escape such cycles of violence, those that wish to battle God with works of art that venerate the mortal will to survive and overcome, those that wish to heal the sick and infirm, or those who wish to build structures that can stand against the raging winds and crashing storms of God.
            Orcs are not just barbarians.

(I wrote all this as a sort of break from all the political stuff I have been consuming too much of.  If you would like to read some of my thoughts on current events, here are links to things on Net Neutrality, Immigration, and the events in Charlottesville.)
______________________________
            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Diversity in my Life and My Thoughts on Charlottesville

The Speed of News
            News is happening so fast that I can’t even comment on all of it.  Charlottesville seems more of the moment, so I am going to talk about it in a shallow way to get my feelings out before it is all washed out by the next horrible thing.
            I do feel it necessary to point out, atomic war is something that might have broken outlast week and it is somehow not the top news story illustrating how awful President Trump is.  Also, an issue that promises to hang around for a while.  Keep that in the back of your mind while I reflect on my world view.

Some Context
            Growing up in the 90’s I was exposed to numerous TV shows and movies that wanted me, and I am assuming children in general, to know that the world was in trouble and everyone had to work together to save it.
            Shows like X-Men are perhaps the most iconic and ongoing properties in that vein, the comic having been around since the 60’s and even now being a massive movie franchise about bigotry and alienation when it isn’t about firing as many lasers as possible at a purple cyborg to… You know, maybe we can all acknowledge that “X-Men Apocalypse” did not understand the franchise’s core appeal and move on.
            My point is, diversity in the casts of those shows was not something that was advertised or commented upon, but was something that was there.  Even as a kid I recall having the thought, “Oh, I see, they want to show how everyone is included”.  Sure, it was often clumsy and rarely subtle (for instance the kid in the wheelchair for the Burger King Kid’s Club, was named “Wheels”.  Yeesh), but I didn’t mind.
            When I watched the shows or movies, or looked at the asinine advertising for subpar burgers, I was there to see an adventure.  If not every member of the cast was a cis-gendered-white-male I just accepted that as how the world was.  Because not everyone is a cis-gendered-white-male.

They even included Kid Vid who was really into 80’s new wave pop music… Or was possibly a time traveler from 2080, they were not really clear on the concept.  Apparently his real name is Ryan Mcfarland according to wikipedia.
            When I watched Dr Bashir save Deep Space Nine with medical knowledge, Kwame lead the Planeteers with a level head, or Roland rewire the proton packs to catch more powerful ghosts I didn’t think to myself how unrealistic it was or how the show had to include them for “diversity”.  I accepted that these characters were doing what they were doing and their race was at best a physical description rather than any defining characteristic.
            I know that I had and have biases and prejudices that I am not even aware of, things so subtle that I would not even understand what was being pointed out if someone explained them to me.  I know that I had a resentment toward my schools for putting a huge focus on certain cultures over others (you can read my review/reflections on “Pocahontas” for more of my feelings on that), but I do know that the area I grew up in was not diverse and if not for some focus being put on other cultures and people I don’t think I would have gotten any exposure.
            The best I can do in my day to day life is try to treat everyone as an individual.  Every person has their own little story to tell and is at their own place in this world because of decisions made not only by them but by countless other people.  We will never meet all of those people who caused the dominos to fall, we just know that we are getting knocked over.

Nazis
            With all of this in mind, I have to ask what shows were these guys watching when they were growing up?



            What made them this?  What made them see “Indiana Jones” and think that the guys getting punched were the ones in the right?  What part of Picard’s Drumhead speech made them think that diminishing someone was alright?  What part of “Heart” made them think that having fewer and whiter people was a winning strategy?
            I really do not get it.  What made them think that the “Red Pill” Morpheus (a black man) gives to Neo (a white man) to explain how everyone is being marginalized by a system (whose avatars are all white men) was a symbol of men waking up to the oppression of… Feminism?  Guys, I think you missed the whole point of that movie.  Like all of it.
            Who lied to these weak racist fools so often about the Civil War that they now think it wasn’t about Slavery?  Who lied to them about World War II to make them think the Holocaust didn’t happen (though they seem to think it should have)?  What happened to these guys to make them blame minorities for how disappointed they are in their own lives?

Didn't they see "Fight Club"?
The Credit Card companies are responsible.
             Why do so many of them think President Trump is the answer?  Just because he is racist and hired racist Stephen Bannon to be a chief policy advisor?  Even if President Trump is on their side they still have to look at how comically inept the President is and realize their star player is laughably bad at every task.
            Why is it so many people think every time white nationalists do something horrible at an event celebrating racism it is somehow a false flag operation?  Are they really that stupid, deluded, or just trying to cover it up?  I do not get any of this.
            A few months ago, I decided to coin the phrase, “Not-Zees” as a descriptor of the Alt-Right and White National supporters of Trump who were pedantic enough to point out they were not literal Nazis, which they defined entirely as a political party started in Germany following the first World War.
            I guess I can throw that cute nickname out the window.  Kind of hard for anyone to claim Nazi is such a narrow term when there are guys yelling “Heil, Trump!” and carrying Swastika branded merchandise.  Images of the KKK battle flag sitting next to the Nazi flag also erases any illusions people had of the two being distinct, and curb stomps all future moronic arguments of, “Heritage, not hate” as transparent lies, as if they somehow weren’t before.



My Thoughts
            Like I said, I don’t get any of this.
            I see the world as a big and diverse place full of people who are awful, but I see them as awful on an individual basis and I judge them on their Words and Deeds, as I have explained before.  So here we are, the President shows more deference to a Russian Dictator and Nazi mobs than he does to Senators in his own party.
            What is more, that is not just me exaggerating, I have a quote from white nationalist rag The Daily Stormer who took President Trump’s awful response to the issue and rightly interpreted it as a winking endorsement.

            “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together.  Nothing specific against us.
            “He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides!
            “So he implied the antifa are haters.
            “There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.
            “He said he loves us all.
            “Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.
            “No condemnation at all.
            “When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.
            “Really, really good.
            “God bless him.”
            -Taken from Here


Sleep tight America.  It has been less than 9 months.
______________________________
            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Friday, August 4, 2017

"The New Colossus", Poetry and Americana

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


-----

This poem was written to raise money for the erection of the Statue of Liberty.  It predates the statue being placed on Liberty Island.

Maybe I am atypical, but I was told throughout my primary education that this simple poem, along with many other small speeches (Gettysburg Address), oaths (Pledge of Allegiance), and statements of purpose (Preamble to the Constitution) represent important aspects of Americana and our own internalized mythology (those exact words were not used, I was in elementary school).

I don't know what the general public feels about such things.  I do know that I dislike the casual dismissal of this bit of writing.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

To Senator Rubio (Net Neutrality)

            At the beginning of the year I wrote to one of my state’s senators, Marco Rubio.  The letter dealt with the awful treatment of refugees and immigrants into the United States.  Senator Rubio’s office replied to that letter shortly thereafter, with a reply I found lacking.
            A couple weeks ago, I wrote another letter to Senator Rubio concerning Net Neutrality.  I thought to write another on the topic of Healthcare, and another still on the topic of the Russia, but decided on Net Neutrality as the first to prioritize.
            As I explain in the letter, and this was a physical letter, not an email, it will take up some space on a desk before being read by an underappreciated staffer, and then responded to by an underappreciated staffer.  As I explained in the letter, Net Neutrality is important to keeping the internet the free and open space that is it, and by not enforcing its status as a natural monopoly a dangerous status quo would emerge.
            I made comparisons to the Enron crisis which emerged as a result of a natural monopoly like power supply being turned into a “free market” boondoggle, and how little faith I have in the current head of the FCC.
            Feel free to utilize my letter as a template and send it to the elected official of your choice on the issue.  I am sure there are many state regulations that could be utilized to prevent Net Neutrality from rolling up completely in many areas and many federal officials that could slow the dissolution of current protections.  The Letter is presented below.
            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.
------------



(Name)
Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning
Masters of International Affairs
(Address)
(Contact Information)

July 13, 2017

Senator Marco Antonio Rubio
Junior United States Senator of Florida
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

To Senator Rubio,

Senator, I am filled with a growing concern for the state of net neutrality in the United States.

It is my sincere belief that greater protections for the internet as a utility is necessary for small businesses to thrive within it, and to maintain the free movement of information and commerce thru it.

Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Varadaraj Pai strikes me as an untrustworthy guardian of net neutrality.  If he dissolves the current protections it will hand a tremendous amount of power to large firms in the telecommunications industry.  Far more power than any government or citizen should be comfortable with them having.

The internet, much like water and electricity, should be viewed as a natural monopoly and regulated as such.  Limited competition and price regulation insure a stable and uniform experience for users and preventing internet providers from extorting web based companies for access to their customers.

Control of communications, ranging from what news people can read, to what shows they can watch, and even to what stores they can shop from is a tremendous power.  It would be dangerous to trust this power entirely to the open market without oversight.  The only comparison I could make is to the Enron fiasco, during which the trade of energy was chaotic and resulted in costs exploding and service being erratic.

While I know, that on a philosophical level, choice is lauded by the Republican party and regulation is seen as a burden.  I feel that the choices that would be offered without proper regulation would be no choice for many people.

Regulation in this instance should be seen less as a burden and more analogous to brakes and seatbelts.  Attributes that are needed to ensure greater control and safety.  Regulations should be clear, uniform, and efficient, but not abolished.

One only need look at how Comcast has provided such limited and pricey options for their cable, phone, and internet service to envision how abusive an untethered industry would become.

Ultimately, I would prefer the internet to become as ubiquitous in this nation as phones and TV.  For it to continue to grow into the completely accessible source of information that people can depend upon.  The government should work to make sure the internet is provided to all citizenry in a uniform manner, as an open marketplace of ideas and products, not to be manipulated by those industries who provide access to it.

Thank you for your time,

(Name)
Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning
Masters of International Affairs