Category Archives: Fantasy

Humiliations Galore!

YA and I are working on another puzzle right now; it’s taking longer because I haven’t quite committed yet and now the workweek has come around and we don’t have as much time.

The last time we worked on a puzzle it was a Sunday and neither of us had anything on our schedules.  We settled in and we watched movie after movie as we progressed.  We took turns picking the movie; YA was very understanding of what I would stomach and what I wouldn’t.  In fact, at one point SHE chose Princess Bride – she said she knew I liked it.

I do love Princess Bride; I think I’ve mentioned here before that when it came out in the theatres, I went four nights in a room, dragging a different friend each time.  I couldn’t guess how many times I’ve seen it but suffice it to say we’re talking seriously into double digits at this point.

About halfway through the movie YA said “you know that you’re mouthing all the words?”   There aren’t too many movies for which I know huge tracts of the dialog:  When Harry Met Sally, Romancing the Stone, Blazing Saddles, Death on the Nile.  I also know the first few minutes of Laura by heart:

“I’ll never forget the weekend that Laura died.  The silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass.  It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection.  I felt as if I were the only living being left in New York.  For Laura’s horrible death, I was alone.  I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her.”

But I’m pretty sure that I know more Princess Bride than any of the others.  I did attempt to stop narrating along with the movie, although I’m not sure I was 100% successful.

Do you have any irritating movie habits (well, irritating to others…)?

Too Late?

Asteroid 1994 PC1 whizzed past us yesterday at 43,000+ miles per hour.  Apparently compared to the asteroids that swing by almost every day, 1994PC1 is fairly large to be so far outside the asteroid belt.  NASA has been watching it for years (I’m guessing from it’s name, since 1994) and since none of us got warnings about impending asteroid/earth collisions the last few days, they are quite aware that relatively speaking while it’s coming close to us, its closest pass will be five times the distance between us and the moon.  According to scientists “if you aren’t worried about the moon crashing into your house this week, you shouldn’t be worried about this either”.

I guess we might have a closer call with a much larger asteroid in 2028.  That news actually hit the stands back in 1997, just a year after a big scare when 1996 JA1, an asteroid the length of two football fields, passed by at only 300,000 miles with not much warning.  This might account for a bunch of the asteroid movies that came out in the next couple of years (Deep Impact, Armageddon, Asteroid, Judgment Day to name a few). 

I’m not a big disaster film buff (although technically if they divert the asteroid, it’s not really a disaster flick, is it?) but I did see a couple of these.  It’s an interesting concept – pushing off an object that is traveling 43K miles an hour.  And I don’t really follow this stuff closely so I don’t know if there is an object that NASA is actually worried about.  And I wonder, would they tell us if there were?  Not sure what in heck we, as citizens of the planet could actually do to prepare.  I mean, I assume we’re smarter than the dinosaurs, but there sure wasn’t anything they could have done differently.

Which do you worry about more – asteroids or a zombie apocalypse? 

Prehistoric Critters

I don’t remember why I asked for a DVD of The Cave of Forgotten Dreams from the library.  I had to get it through InterLibrary Loan so it took awhile.  I have a vague memory of seeing something recently about cave art so that is probably it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever remember for sure.

It was captivating to see the cave art (from the Chauvet Cave in southern France) – the public is not allowed in the caves so it felt a little like getting away with something although the scientists and camera crew did have permission.

The film got weird in a few places, a little disconnected and then at the end it got REALLY weird.  In a “postscript”, the film introduces a nuclear power near the caves and then continues to show the crocodiles who have been added to the warm waters of the plant.  Not only that, but some albino crocodiles became the final focus with the film clearly suggesting that they are mutants from radiated water.  This, of course, captured my interest in a big way.  First off, they weren’t crocodiles, they were alligators – classic u-shaped alligator snouts.  But more importantly, why in heaven’s sake would a nuclear power plant build a crocodile farm?

Of course all my questions were answered when I actually looked up at the screen just in time to see “Written, Directed and Narrated by Werner Herzog”.  I don’t know a lot about Herzog but I have seen enough comments over the years to know that he doesn’t use the same definition of “truth” that I do.  This made it incredibly easy to fact-check the crocodile farm story.  The power plant did NOT build the croc farm; it was built by two crocodile enthusiasts.  They are close to the cave and they do use the water from the nuclear power plant but the water is consistently tested and has never shown any radioactivity.  And the albinos?  Imported from a croc farm in the Southern U.S.; they were albino before they even reached the French waters.  Not radioactive mutants.  None of this really explains the purpose of the postscript of the film, but it was interesting research.

The most noteworthy fact I found is that the French croc farm is not the only place on the planet where crocodiles are benefitting from nuclear waters.  Apparently 25% of the crocodiles in the U.S. thrive among the cooling canals at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant south of Miami.  They are protected, having been encouraged there since the discovery of the first nest back in the 70s.  Fascinating.

Have you ever held a baby alligator or crocodile in your hands?  Snake?  Tarantula?  Anything?

In Peril

I took some strategically placed personal days between Christmas and New Years; combined with the paid holidays from my company, I was off for eleven days straight.  It was a very low-key holiday with not much going on so it’s not surprising that I watched a lot of tv movies.

Diversity in movies isn’t high on my list of priorities but I did watch a bigger variety than usual, including several films that could be considered “thrillers” – Die Hard, Murder at 1600, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, North by Northwest, several Tarzan movies and pretty much every Japanese monster movie ever made. 

You wouldn’t think all of these movies would have much in common but you’d be wrong.  The one thing they all had in common was screaming/squealing female characters.  In scenes of danger or violence, the women all scream or squeal.  The men in these scenes?  Silent as the grave (except for the sound of fists smacking flesh).  Even in Murder at 1600, which has a very strong female lead (Diane Lane), in the two scenes which qualify, while she doesn’t scream, she makes grunts and exclamations while the male lead (Wesley Snipes) is silent.   I will admit that a couple of times Bruce Willis did grunt a bit in Die Hard but when you consider the near-mortal injuries he sustained, you’d think he’d make a bit more noise.

Having never been in any situation even remotely like the ones in these films, I don’t want to speculate as to whether or not I would be a screamer or a squealer.  However, based on the fact that language fit for a longshoreman regularly pops out of my mouth almost automatically when I drop something, spill something or even just stub my toe, I’m guessing I might be making noise of some kind!

Do you have any “Pavlovian” responses?

Never Enough Dragons

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned dragon books.  Right after that, one of them came up for check-out at the library – Here, There be Dragons by James Owens.  It’s part of a series called Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica and true to it’s title, we had imaginary creatures (dragons) on the first page. 

As the story unfolded we also got references to King Arthur, Captain Nemo, Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, trolls, dwarves, centaurs, Pandora’s box, Stonehenge and, of course, talking badgers.  Although the story starts out in WWI London, almost all of the story takes places in the “archipelago of dreams”, a world which is apparently one of many alternative realities. 

As the first in a series, this one was a little bogged down by all the explanatory bits related by various characters, but the fascinating weaving of all kinds of myths and stories into the plot was just enough to keep me going as well as the quote: “Did he now?” said Charles as a smile began to cheshire over his face.”  That alone was enough to make me want to pick up the next volume.  And no spoiler alerts but the last chapter was worth its weight in gold, in terms of pulling together the strands of the story and leaving you with a tingling feeling that you should have known it all along.

If you could make one fantasy/imaginary place come alive, what would it be?

Light My Fire

In searching for something on my laptop last week, I came across a list of books about dragons.  Looks like I made this list six or seven years ago (last time it was saved was six years back) and I’ve read a few of the books on the list since then.  I’d completely forgotten that I had this list.

Dragons, of course, are widely varied in literature.  My least favorite kind are the mindless, evil dragons (think Smaug in The Hobbit).  I prefer intelligent dragons who can communicate if they choose (like Ramoth in Dragonflight or Temeraire in the Novik series).  My current car is named after a dragonrider of Pern (Brekke – one of the rare dragonriders who can communicate with all dragons, not just their own). 

I also like dragons who adore treasure – not sure why, maybe because it’s such a longstanding bit of dragonlore that it feels right when it is included.  It’s interesting that the Greek dragons who were set to guarding treasure have morphed into beings who lust after gold, diamonds and jewels.  Of course I also read somewhere once that gold is a good conductor of magical energy and that dragons NEED it to exist. 

The biggest problem with this list is that I have already reached the limit of books that I can have on hold at the library – with probably be at least a week before that changes.  Hopefully in a week, I’ll remember I have this list of books I want to read! Maybe I’ll start yet another tab on my reading spreadsheet.

Tell me about a mythical animal that you think might improve our world if it existed!  Or just if you have a favorite mythical animal.

Sold Out!

One of the types of programs that I have are called Warehouse Runs.  Winners come here to Minneapolis and run through our extensive merchandise warehouse.  There is a lot of energy around these programs and I love the participants who are all very excited and appreciative.

I always like to get donuts for the warehouse crew the morning of a run.  Having their work schedule and plans disrupted by all the festivities can’t be fun for the warehouse workers so I like to reward them a little bit for their hard work. Yesterday morning was the first in two years that I’ve been down to the donut bakery I like in Bloomington; it’s an old-fashioned kind of shop with all the old favorites and nothing pretentious.  After I picked up the donut order and was leaving the little shop, I noticed that the back of the “Open” sign didn’t say “Closed” – it now says “Sold Out – See You Tomorrow!”

It was a nice change to see that a little local business is not only surviving but apparently thriving.  It must be quite satisfying to be selling out so often that they can rely on a sold out sign.  I’m having to find a new lunch caterer for my warehouse programs since the previous caterer (who was excellent) wasn’t able to hold on through pandemic.  Along with too many others.  So while I was happy to be supporting them again and that they are doing well, it was tinged with a little sadness for the other businesses that have suffered.

You can have your favorite donut or pastry this morning.  No cost, no travel and no calories.  What will you have?

Jumping In

Al the discussion about gardening on Mars and The Martian by Andy Weir made me think.  If I were sure I could get back, would I want to try Mars?  And better yet, if I could beam to Mars and back, instead of spending more than a year on a spaceship each way, would I want to try Mars?  I might, since my biggest issue is the travel part.  And the getting home part.

By now, of course, I’m pretty far down Fantasy Road and I found myself thinking about whether I would want to change places with any other movie character, or tv character or character in a book. 

Again, part of my decision is based on the absolutely certainy that I am not putting my life in danger and I would be able to get back home.  Kinda like the holodeck in Star Trek where you just say “computer, end program” and the door to the ship’s hallways opens right up.

That being said, I can think of LOTS of characters I’d like to be for a week or so.  Scarlett O’Hara from Gone w/ the Wind, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, Ren-Marie from any of the Three Pines mysteries, Frodo from Lord of the Rings, Lawrence from any of the Temeraire stories (except Australia – that one stunk)…. I could go on and on.  Of course there are a lot of stories I prefer from a reading distance – pretty much anything during WWII and Vietnam, anything where the character is scared/threatened/blackmailed through the book or movie. Anything that is too gory or gruesome.  And if it’s a book I really didn’t like then I definitely don’t need to swap with those characters ever.

So what about you?  Any character you’d like to be for a week?

Where No Ketchup Has Gone Before

“First came the billionaires, then the movie stars — now ketchup is making its mark on the space race.”  (CNN November 8, 2021)

At first glance, this seemed like a silly story – Heinz had made “Marz Edition” of their ketchup using tomatoes that were produced in a controlled environment similar to what plants could expect if they were growing up on the Red Planet.

But turns out this was a serious experiment by 14 astrobiologists as part of long-term food harvesting  strategy for NASA.  I guess astronauts and Mars pioneers need a little more than freeze-dried ice cream (which is awful, by the way) to get by.

The ketchup will not be available to the public but there will be a big taste test tomorrow – if you are Twittered or Instagramed, you can watch it at 10 a.m. ET.  For the rest of us, we’ll just have to dream.

If you have a couple of Martian acres, what would you want to grow (and would you want to garden in person or from a distance)? 

Little Cat Feet

Now that the dark is hanging around a bit more in the morning, I don’t really notice the outside work until I step onto the back porch.  Last week, I left the house early, about 6:15 a.m. and as I pulled out of the driveway realized that there are a lot of fog.  Living in the city as I do, this is an unusual occurrence and combined with the dark and traffic-less streets, was quite eerie.

As I was driving along (pretty slowly), it made me think about how often I’ve seen fog described in poetry.  Of course, the most famous is probably Carl Sandberg:

Fog
The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

And I also remember a couple of different fog poems by Sara Teasdale that I like:

Gray Fog
A FOG drifts in, the heavy laden
Cold white ghost of the sea—
One by one the hills go out,
The road and the pepper-tree.
I watch the fog float in at the window

With the whole world gone blind,
Everything, even my longing, drowses,
Even the thoughts in my mind.
I put my head on my hands before me,

There is nothing left to be done or said,
There is nothing to hope for, I am tired,
And heavy as the dead.

White Fog
Heaven-invading hills are drowned
In wide moving waves of mist,
Phlox before my door are wound
In dripping wreaths of amethyst.

Ten feet away the solid earth
Changes into melting cloud,
There is a hush of pain and mirth,
No bird has heart to speak aloud.
Here in a world without a sky,
Without the ground, without the sea,
The one unchanging thing is I,
Myself remains to comfort me.

A quick search on the internet turns up tons of fog poems.  I haven’t done any research whatsoever but I wonder if there are more fog poems than thunderstorm poems or sunshine poems?

Then as I kept driving, I realized that I don’t know one darn SONG about fog.

Anybody?