42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek Feb10

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek...

It’s the time of year for Love Potions, Heart Pieces, and those three magical words. (No, I’m not talking about “Use the Force” or “Beam me up.”) Whether you’re looking for a geeky way to ask your date out to a video game symphony, or planning to print your affections on a Luvdisc-shaped Valentine’s card, here are 42 ways to say “I love you” in Geek. (Why 42? Because it’s the answer to all mysteries in the universe, of course. And love may be the greatest mystery of them all.) 1. If you were a starter Pokémon, I’d choose you. 2. Are you a fairy? Because you fill all my heart containers. 3. All my base are belong to you. 4. I’d travel there and back again for you. 5. You’re my final fantasy. 6. I’d take an arrow to the knee for you. 7. I-it’s not like a l-like you or a-anything… b-baka—! 8. Be my Beka/Faye/Vincent Valentine. 9. Ruby is red, Neptune is blue, hope I get put on the same team as you. 10. You’re the hero Gotham deserves, and the one I need right now. 11. When I looked in the Mirror of Erised, I saw you. 12. You’re my precious. 13. SoH Dughajbe’bogh jaj rur Hov ghajbe’bogh ram. 14. Hello, Sweetie. 15. You are the center of my mind palace. 16. I know. 17. I’d volunteer as your tribute. 18. You were expecting Dio, but it was me—your Valentine! 19. Without you, who else will I have ice cream with? 20. With you, my life is 20% cooler. 21. *Wookie sounds* 22. You’re my player 2. 23. You fill me with determination. 24. Like a Headcrab, you’re always on my mind. 25. You’re the arc reactor to my heart....

Questing for Deus Ex Machina Jan30

Questing for Deus Ex Machina...

Deus ex machina, literally translates from Latin as God from the machine, is used to describe a magical or technological intervention of the Divine that saves the day, generally in an implausible way. In the plays of the Greeks, deus ex machina was actually a machine (often a crane) that lowered a saviour into the midst of trouble to rescue the hero. One could, for example, describe the many appearances of the giant eagles in The Lord of the Rings as deus ex machina because it is a contrivance which conveniently rescues hapless heroes from fates like lava, fire, or tall towers. In addition, the well-written, but implausibly “magical” endings to most of the Harry Potter books make J.K. Rowling a master of deus ex machina. It has been postulated that the appearance of a phoenix with healing tears carrying a magical sword hidden in a hat is the best example of a deus ex machina in the Harry Potter universe. How do I find hope despite all the chaos that comes with the machines crumbling around me? While we can scoff endlessly at these contrivances in ancient literature and as they pervade current popular culture, it is impossible to live in the real world without wanting, even questing after deus ex machina moments. If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we are desperate for these events to happen. We come to the end of our money and we yearn for someone to rescue us from financial ruin by being lowered from the rigging above. Our son, our daughter, friend, or lover lays in the hospital, dying from accident or disease. And we weep at the end of the bed, desperate for an encounter with the “god from the machine.” Every so often, we...

A Biased Father and His Not-So-Cursed Child Dec21

A Biased Father and His Not-So-Cursed Child...

In the first seven Harry Potter books, sometimes I forget I’m in Harry’s head and can only see things through his perspective. Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play written by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, causes me to question just how much bias colours Harry’s outlook. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and his friends are grown up with children, and his son, Albus, is one of the main characters. Unlike its predecessors, the play spans several years, highlighting the life of a Potter who is placed in Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. To Harry’s dismay, Albus becomes best friends with Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, who—despite the fact that he’s a sweetheart—many despise simply because of his heritage. As it is not told through the lens of a single character, the play provides a more objective look into the wizarding world than the seven novels detailing Harry’s childhood. It addresses some of the bias I didn’t even realize was happening in the original series. Harry vs. Slytherin Harry’s prejudice against Slytherin started to bother me when I re-read the Harry Potter books as an adult; I realized that there couldn’t possibly be a house that only churned out evil witches and wizards. The world isn’t black and white; it’s a whole lot of grey that can be tricky to navigate. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid says, “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad that wasn’t in Slytherin.” This has to be an exaggeration, and one that Harry takes to heart. As Hagrid is his first guide to the wizarding world, Harry has no reason to doubt the statement. He learns later on that Hagrid isn’t...

The Definitive Harry Potter Fan Art Collection Aug11

The Definitive Harry Potter Fan Art Collection

In honour of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child‘s recent release, feast your eyes on this collection of amazing fan art from the original Harry Potter series! Share your favourite piece on social media with a link back to the artist and the hashtag #SupporttheGeeks. And tell us what you thought of the play. Did you read it? See it? Hate it? Love it? 1. Back at Hogwarts by Alea-Lefavre 2. Harry Potter by HitoFanart 3. Harry Potter by tsulala 4. Winter Hogwarts by kissyushka 5. HP – Ginny Weasley by dido6 6. Harry Potter VS the Horntail by JoniGodoy 7. McGonogall by Lasse17 8. Hogwarts and the Whomping Willow by danidraws 9. Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy by auroreblackcat 10. Severus Snape =3 by speedportraits 11. The Death of Fred by viria13 12. Harry Potter VS Voldemort...

Keep On Keeping On Jul08

Keep On Keeping On

When Umberto Eco sought the feedback of friends and colleagues for his manuscript, The Name of the Rose, many, while praising the creativity of the narrative, commented on the difficulty of the first 100 pages, which described life and practices in a medieval monastery. Editors, fearing readers would give up reading before the mystery actually began, also suggested Eco rework the dense opening. Eco refused. As he explained in his Postscript to The Name of the Rose, “if somebody wanted to enter the abbey and live there for seven days, he had to accept the abbey’s own pace. If he could not, he would never manage to read the whole book. Therefore those first hundred pages are like a penance or initiation, and if someone does not like them, so much the worse for him. He can stay at the foot of the mountain.” In framing the sort of mindset necessary to get through this part of the novel as a journey, Eco alludes to the kind of perseverance he expects. I got thinking about these difficult 100 pages and the sort of perseverance required to get through them earlier this month when I was loaning some books to a friend for summer reading. I handed The Name of the Rose over and commented on how much the novel means to me. “But the first 100 pages are really hard—the author tried to weed out people who shouldn’t read his book.” After thinking about that for a moment, my friend handed the book back to me and said, “Maybe not.” I’ve seen the same responses for not attempting to read Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, even Stephen King. So what makes some people able to persevere through long and difficult material? Put another way:...

The Sacred Texts of Geek Culture May11

The Sacred Texts of Geek Culture...

There are certain texts (and I am using the word “text” here to encompass TV shows, movies, books, and games) within geek culture that have achieved “sacred” status. Some of these include The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Firefly, Chuck, The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. Offer any critique of these texts and the fandom takes up arms, calling for the heads of those who dare to say a bad word about them. But can’t I critique something and love it at the same time? Engaging a text critically means asking questions about characterization and representation. How are women, people of colour, and body types portrayed? Do the female characters have agency? For people of colour, how many of them appear in the text? Do they have meaningful dialogue, or are their lines just filler? (See these videos of “Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color in ‘Harry Potter’” and “Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color in ‘The Lord of the Rings’“). In terms of bodies, what types are included; are fatness and ugliness signifiers for evil characters? “Critical” also means being aware of the privilege and biases you bring to a text. For example, I recognize that, as a white person, I will read any character as white unless they are assigned a specific race. This is because “white” is my bias, and “white” is also the default race in the majority of books and films. But can’t I critique something and love it at the same time? Big Ideas vs. Subtle Codes I recently had a conversation with a friend about how the portrayal of women as weak in early sci-fi contributes to the larger problem of misogyny in geek culture, and his response was that...

Cheat Taxes, Not Death Apr15

Cheat Taxes, Not Death...

When I was young, I wanted to live forever. That would be so cool, I thought. I could use all that time to learn languages, read all the books I ever wanted to read, see all the movies I wanted to see. Let me be clear here. When I talk of immortality, I mean physical immortality. As in NOT dying. I’m not talking about an afterlife or heaven. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to hang around on earth and continue living this life. Now, obviously my definition of “cool” left much to be desired, but I think there is something quite profound about my childish wish to live forever. Though I didn’t realize it at the time (I hadn’t gotten around to reading all those books), the desire for immortality is at the heart of various myths, legends, and stories: from the Gilgamesh’s question for immortality in the epic that bears his name, to the quest for the Holy Grail, to the stories of alchemy and the mythical fountain of youth. Many people have told stories about the search for a method to cheat that most mysterious of all human experiences, death. And I think that it’s that very thing that makes death so important: it’s something we all go through. They say the only two certainties are death and taxes. Well, some people have been able to cheat on their taxes. No one I know has cheated death. In an attempt to live forever, Voldemort loses his human life. And I don’t think my younger self was out to cheat death. I can’t remember thinking that. Certainly I am not aware of an experience of death that would have triggered that kind of response. I just felt there was so much...

Always: The Immortal Love of Severus Snape Apr08

Always: The Immortal Love of Severus Snape...

“Always.” It’s a word that we overuse. (“I always say ‘thank you.'” “You always eat all of the cheese sticks.”) Most people, in reality, don’t do things so consistently. But when Professor Severus Snape said “always,” not only did he use it correctly, truthfully, and lovingly, he used it in the most perfect way possible. It was a most profound statement that I believe resonated with readers everywhere. For Harry Potter fans, this word has become something of a mantra—particularly when the man who so amazingly portrayed Snape in the movie series, Alan Rickman, passed away. For me, finding out that the actor had passed was like experiencing Snape’s death all over again. He was a great actor and his roles meant a lot to many people, but he will especially be Severus Snape to me for all time. The “always” that Snape says is a testimony to his unending love for Harry Potter’s mother, Lily—but the word only has meaning because of how he chose to live after her death. Snape loved Lily from the moment he met her, loved her through the years that she dated the man that bullied and tortured him, loved her through her marrying that man, and loved her through her death and beyond. She had not chosen him and, in her death, the certainty of her never being able to choose him became a reality. “But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy after all?” “For him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto patronum!” From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: she landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded...

A Misunderstood Redhead Feb08

A Misunderstood Redhead...

A wizard who doesn’t yet know how powerful he is, a genius witch who does, and a poor, often befuddled redhead. One of these people is not like the others; can you guess who it is? I have been rereading (and rewatching) the Harry Potter series lately; inspired in part by a friend of mine who has never seen the movies and by the lack of fiction in my life since beginning my academic studies a few years ago. As I travel through this narrative again, I feel much more attached to the Weasleys, especially Ron, than to any of the other characters. I was a bit surprised when I began feeling this way. In the past, I’ve liked Harry’s personality. I’ve admired his bravery, his dedication to develop himself in his craft, and—later in the narrative—his humble leadership. As well, I naturally connect with Hermione, particularly her drive for academic achievement and her ability to problem-solve. Ron’s more than willing to put himself second to others and to do all that is within his power to help them. Ron doesn’t shine. He doesn’t stand out, except for his flaming red hair. His family is poor and generally looked down on by the magical community. His academic achievements are all thanks to Hermione, and he’s consistently brought along kicking and screaming with Harry and Hermione on their adventures. When you stand him up beside Hermione, the muggle-born witch who is top of her class, and Harry, the Chosen One, Ron doesn’t seem very heroic. He’s not much to aspire to. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that Ron is the very kind of person I want to be. Imagine for a moment that Ron and his family never existed,...

I Must Not Tell Lies Jan11

I Must Not Tell Lies

The first time I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I found Harry’s constant anger, especially at Ron and Hermione, annoying. I wanted to tell him to chill out: didn’t he understand that there were bigger things going on? At the time, I didn’t recognize his trauma for what it was. Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, hosts of the most delightful podcast Witch, Please, have a fantastic discussion about this in “Episode 9: The Cleansing Fire.” Their answer to Harry’s anger is that he is suffering from PTSD, and it totally makes sense. Harry has just gone through the traumatic experience of watching Voldemort come back to life and kill Cedric, and is then made to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle, who barely acknowledge his existence. To make matters worse, he doesn’t receive any news from his friends, who are under orders from Dumbledore not to share anything lest their owls are intercepted. Add to this the mysterious Dementor attack and the subsequent hearing to prove his innocence so he will not be expelled from Hogwarts, and it quickly becomes clear that Harry’s anger is justifiable. Just when we think things are going to get better for him—he’ll be back at Hogwarts and all he’ll have to worry about is Quidditch and OWLs—he discovers that, all summer, the Daily Prophet has been printing lies about him, under order of the Ministry for Magic, in an effort to discredit his story about Voldemort’s return. Do not dismiss the powerless when they come to you with hurt. There’s a term for this: gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which victims of trauma are made to doubt their own stories through others (often the perpetrator of the abuse) twisting...

Small heroes Nov18

Small heroes

War stories are full of great men and women doing great deeds. They stand on the front lines and fight for what’s right and good. They are the heroes we expect to read about, the heroes whose lives we want to emulate. These are the Arthurs, the Aragorns, the Sarah Walkers, and the Harry Potters. But there are also those heroes who are not considered great. They don’t have power and they’re not skilled fighters. To the world, they are “nobodies.” And yet, they are just as important, if not more so, than those great heroes. They carry the strength of simple, pure love, compassion, and humility. They fight for what’s right and good, too, but they do it behind the scenes when no one is watching, and they do it without expecting glory or praise. These are characters like Samwise Gamgee, Chuck Bartowski, Riza Hawkeye, the Doctor’s companions, Merlin, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood.These are the heroes who stick with me because they tell me that I don’t have to be the most skilled, or the most brave. My favourite example is Sam; how could it not be? There’s a moment in The Return of the King where all seems lost and Sam is alone. Frodo has been stung by Shelob and carried off by Orcs, and Sam has taken the Ring so he can continue the quest. As he looks for Frodo, Sam is tempted by the Ring. It shows him visions of himself as Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age; all he has to do is claim the Ring as his own and he can overthrow Sauron or command the valley of Gorgoroth to become a garden of flowers and trees. Sam doesn’t give in. He thinks of his love...

Harry Potter and the Half-Satirical Prince Aug24

Harry Potter and the Half-Satirical Prince...

A few months ago, I discovered a Harry Potter fan-fiction titled Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles. Needless to say, I was instantly intrigued. I know many Christians, some of them esteemed clergy, who have read and enjoyed J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, but the prevailing culture within Christianity is that Christians should be highly skeptical of anything that discusses magic (Lewis and Tolkien are the exceptions to the rule). Enter a self-titled “housewife” brandishing her pen like a cross to ”fix” the problem of magic in Harry Potter. At the very first paragraph of the story, I sensed I was reading something amazing: “[Harry] was a good, obedient boy who did all his chores; but he felt that there was something missing in his life. Something big and special; but he could not quite name it.” It’s readily apparent that the author knows very little about the actual storyline of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. She seems to only be aware of names and basic events… either that, or she just doesn’t care about preserving the original. Also I am fairly certain she was paid by the adverb. “Thank you very much for your concern, sir, but he does not need your religion, he has science and socialism and birthdays.” If you are a die-hard fan of the Harry Potter series, a feminist, a socialist, an environmentalist, a modernist, a Catholic, pro-same-sex marriage, not a 6-day creationist, have a reddit account, or don’t drive a gas-guzzling SUV, there will surely be something in this that will offend you. Therefore this is either a brilliant work of satire or something else entirely. The Weasleys are all sorted into Slytherin (described as an obvious representation of the Catholic church), and they just don’t seem to...

Magic by another name Aug10

Magic by another name...

Sometimes I find myself wishing I lived in Hogwarts or Middle earth. Why? Because of magic, of course. But after a bit of thought, I realized I’m not really missing out on much, because magic exists in my world already. Do you believe in magic? And when I say “magic,” I mean as it is often depicted in fiction: a seemingly all-powerful force which can only be harnessed by a certain number of gifted people. So do you? No? You’re not alone. Magic is generally accepted by our modern society to be an impossibility, and to say otherwise seems like nothing but foolery. However, “nothing but foolery” is my middle name—well, close enough. I believe magic is, in fact, a very real part of our everyday lives. We just know it by another name. I believe that even the most deeply spiritual occurrences can be explained scientifically. In order to dismiss magic as an impossibility, you should first be able to not only define it, but explain why you believe it cannot exist. I would define magic using these words: that which is amazing and unexplainable. In Season 5 of Adventure Time, Princess Bubblegum describes magic exactly how I see it: “All magic is science!” she says. “You just don’t know what you’re doing, so you call it magic!” (Episode 26: “Wizards Only, Fools!”) Take Hermione Granger from Harry Potter casting “Alohomora,” for example. Is it scientifically impossible to unlock a door? Not at all. Can we explain exactly how her magic spell accomplishes this? No. Our quick dismissal of its possibility simply stems from our own lack of understanding. Or consider Vivi from Final Fantasy IX casting “Firaga.” Is it impossible to create a massive fiery blast which has the ability to harm...

Geek songs that amuse us May01

Geek songs that amuse us

Since May is our music-themed month, we will be regaling you with fun playlists every Friday. Up first are our top five picks for silly songs. Give ’em a listen, give ’em a laugh. You can’t really go wrong with these. What are your favourite geek songs that amuse you? Did we miss any?   “Want You Gone” (Portal 2) The epitome of GLaDOS’ character is depicted in this song. We want to put her, Mal Reynolds, James Ford and Veronica Mars in a room together and see what happens.   “Bad Horse” (Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) High-ho, Silver!   “The Mysterious Ticking Noise” (The Potter Puppet Pals) Once you try to perform this “song” in a group you realize how much fun it is. One of the Geekdom House Wandering Minstrels‘ better songs since it didn’t require us to stay on key.   “White and Nerdy” (Weird Al) Also, the original version with the Luigi death stare is high on our list of favourites.   “If I Didn’t Have You” (Howard Wolowitz) Our commander’s certain she’d be a goner if this song was used to serenade...

Geek-surrection Apr02

Geek-surrection

The death of a character can be a powerful storytelling mechanism. From the death of Fives, the murder of Aerith, or Boromir’s sacrifice, death shows that there is always a price to pay and ultimately we do not emerge from our struggles without scars. However, what does it mean when storytellers defy death and bring character back from the dead? Resurrection is dangerous territory for a storyteller and needs to be handled wisely; if someone’s death needs to mean something then perhaps their resurrection needs to mean that much more. Leave it to Joss Whedon to kill off his lead not once, but twice Sometimes, resurrection is confused with other plot elements, so let’s begin by defining what resurrection isn’t. Resurrection != Respawn (or multiple lives) Most video games fall under this category. Should you actually “die” the clock is reversed and you have the chance to redo what you did (or didn’t do). The overarching story is completely unaffected by whether or not you died. Resurrection != Reanimation Zombies are reanimated, not resurrected, beings. In stories that involve reanimation (like that one episode of Star Trek Voyager where Ensign Lyndsay Ballard is reanimated by an alien race), it’s usually clear that what makes a person human goes beyond their memories, mannerisms, and corporeal being. Resurrection != Adding to 0 HP Take the latter Final Fantasy games or even Dungeons and Dragons; just because you fall to 0 HP does not mean you’re actually dead. So when that Phoenix Down hits you or your cleric finally gets their act together, it’s more realistically described as going from incapacitated to capacitated. Moving on, here are a few powerful examples of true resurrection found in geek culture. The Cylons come back, the very next day Toasters die only to wake up with all their consciousness intact in a completely new body. The cycle of death is broken through the blood of a pure innocent.To Cylons, their bodies are completely expendable and their countless “suicide” missions highlight that. Resurrection is a literal way of life for them, but take away the safety net of a resurrection ship and each Cylon has a deep crisis of faith. What it means: The intangible and unexplainable of what make us human is worth more than any physical form. Buffy dies and dies again Leave it to Joss Whedon to kill off his lead not once, but twice (and I’m not even including her “death” in Season 1, because I’m not sure it really counts as resurrection). Season 5 is a different story, however. Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn and she is dead. Like, dead dead. After being ensconced in the after-life, Buffy is unceremoniously ripped from heaven and returned to the land of mortality by her friends. She returns broken. Her friends write it off as damage from the after-life (thinking she had been in Hell) but the truth is, Buffy had a taste of heaven and her mortal life now seems like hell in comparison. What it means: Life after death is greater than we can comprehend. Drogo returns While Whedon seems to prefer quality deaths over quantity deaths when it comes to killing of major characters, Martin’s tactics are the exact opposite. That isn’t to say his characters’ deaths carry no weight—I mean, who wouldn’t want Ned Stark brought back? No Stark is returned though. Instead, it’s Khal Drogo who is brought back, and his resurrection is anything but celebratory. Drogo becomes a fraction of who he once was and the cost of his return was great. Daenerys wanted it all, and instead it cost her the life of her unborn child as well as Drogo’s sanity and self. What it means: The cost of life and death must be paid. Harry Potter rises above death Hit with the killing curse from Voldemort, Harry finds himself between life and death in Harry...

Characters who should have died but didn’t Mar13

Characters who should have died but didn’t

There will always be characters who just aren’t that interesting but are required to help drive the story along. Then there are the characters who do their best to burn the story to the ground. Here are our ten. 1. Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix We’re pretty sure she was more evil than Voldemort. 2. Dawn Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer It was always me me me me. Sure fine she was abandoned (in Joss’s words) by “about six parental figures” but whiny is whiny. 3. The entire Lannister line except Tyrion from Song of Ice and Fire ‘Cept we kinda like Jaime too. 4. Harry Kim from Star Trek: Voyager He’s kind of the Dawn Summers of the Star Trek universe. 5. Navi from Ocarina of Time “Hey, listen!” “You’re dead to me.” 6. The dog from Duck Hunt And now in Super Smash Bros. Wii U, he CAN die! 7. Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom This. 8. Slippy from StarFox Really? You’re in trouble AGAIN!? You need my help AGAIN!? How about no? 9. Rose Thomas from Fullmetal Alchemist Dress up in a frog costume and fly a space-ship already. 10. Jar Jar Binks from The Phantom Menace We made him last so you can channel all your hate there. Okay, so who’d we...

Concerning Writers: Harry Plotter Mar12

Concerning Writers: Harry Plotter...

Harry Potter finds out he’s a wizard and goes to school, keeps to himself, excels at magic but doesn’t have much ambition and ends up working as a janitor at St. Mungo’s. Sound familiar? No? That’s possibly because J.K. Rowling meticulously outlined her books before she wrote them. She thought the story through, she worked through potential problems, she made informed decisions about where Harry was going to go and what he was going to do, while avoiding pitfalls of boredom. And the result was an amazing, interesting, and well thought-out and pun-intended magical story (in my opinion). If you write novels, you might be familiar with the question: are you a plotter or a pantser? A plotter plots and plans ahead while a pantser, as you can expect, flies by the seat of their pants. You can see how important character relationships are to a story. I used to be a pantser, but I got frustrated with the amount of rewrites I had to do and the lack of direction in my plot. That was when I decided to take a course on plotting, not because I thought I would actually learn anything, but because I wanted the kick in the pants to actually do the nitty-gritty work of plotting out my novel. To my surprise, I was introduced to a unique way of plotting that helps me understand my story and characters better before I start writing. The technique, by author Suzanne Johnson, outlines the novel first by figuring out relationship arcs between the characters. Suzanne calls these relationships the building blocks of a novel, and if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. If you take every main character in your novel and write down what their relationship is to each other at the beginning...

The key ingredient to incredible friendship Feb17

The key ingredient to incredible friendship

Good stories require good characters. Great stories require great relationships. Take The Lord of the Rings for example. The fate of Middle Earth depends on the characters and their choices, but what do we talk about most after the story is over? The incredible friendships formed in the crucible of the unexpected journey. Frodo and Sam, Legolas and Gimli, Denethor and those cherry tomatoes—all bonds that the audience gets to watch form and strengthen. While every friendship—from our favourite fictional pairings to our own relationships—looks different, true friendships all have something in common. What is this crucial ingredient, you ask? Read on. The Star Wars universe has no shortage of memorable friendships. C-3PO and R2D2 toe the line between best friends and a feuding married couple. Obi-Wan and Anakin behave like bantering brothers. But the one friendship brought up the most is probably between Han and Chewbacca. Some friends fade in and out of your life, others play pivotal roles for season, and a rare few shape you into the person you are. Han and Chewie bring up a popular dynamic used in the Star Wars canon—the life debt. Chewbacca is a Wookie from the planet Kashyyyk and their culture is built upon a strong reliance on honour. If someone saves a Wookie’s life, that Wookie is honour-bound to pledge their life in service to their saviour. Wookies take this vow incredibly seriously, and to disregard a life debt is to disregard their entire culture. Han was an imperial pilot when he met Chewie, and refused an order from his commander to kill him, later rescuing the Wookie from slavery and sacrificing his career in the military. Chewbacca then becomes Han’s co-pilot and owes him a life debt. But it’s clear that they’ve become something more than obligated partners in a business transaction—they’ve become best friends. They’ve put their lives on the line for one another countless times, forming a bond that runs deeper than any Wookie law. Not every fictional universe has a carefully thought out mythology to a life debt, but this same type of bond between friends exists everywhere. John Watson doesn’t owe Sherlock Holmes his life out of some religious sense of honour, but he still follows the detective into any situation without hesitation, usually at his own peril. Pumba doesn’t save Timon from a rampaging hippopotamus (well, not that we know of), but the inseparable pals still have each other’s backs through lion attacks and rounds of Hakuna Matata. We know true friendships aren’t just about the good times. Malcolm Reynolds, captain of Serenity, doesn’t make friends easily, but when someone earns his trust, it runs deep. When he and Wash are held hostage and tortured, Mal starts to list all sorts of things that he would do with Wash’s wife if they get out alive. Understandably, this gets Wash pretty worked up. We learn later that Mal was keeping Wash conscious by keeping his mind off the excruciating pain. Best friends aren’t just there for the sarcastic banter or the musical number; they’re there for when you’re strung up and electrocuted too. Sometimes a real best friend has to be the “bad guy” and tell someone something they don’t want to hear. How many times did Hermione pull Harry’s and Ron’s butts out of the fire? If not for her obsessive desire for magical knowledge, her wisdom and forethought, the boy who lived would have been killed more than once in the first book alone. Sometimes a real best friend has to be the “bad guy” and tell someone something they don’t want to hear. Hermione not only shows what an awesome friend she is by forcing important but uncomfortable conversations and knowing when to shout, “I’m not an owl!” to inform Harry that he should get over petty squabbles, she gives up everything to help Harry stop Voldemort. Remember that time that...

Beautiful Magic: Reconciling Harry Potter Feb11

Beautiful Magic: Reconciling Harry Potter...

I grew up in a house where my dad was adamantly against magic. While he did let me read The Lord of the Rings, I wasn’t allowed to read the Harry Potter series. My introduction to Hogwarts came in my first year of university when I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for my English class. I was enraptured, drawn in because of how clever the book was. As someone who enjoys textual analysis, I was delighted by how much there was to discover in the book, like the Mirror of Erised, which shows the viewer their heart’s desire, and the fact that “erised” is “desire” spelled backwards. After that first reading of Philosopher’s Stone, I blew through books two through six and then joined the rest of the fandom in waiting for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to come out. I’ve been a fan ever since. So how have I, a Christian, embraced Harry Potter? I think it’s important to understand where the magic comes from. In other fantasy books or TV shows, there’s usually an indication of the original source of the magic. For example, the source of magic in Middle-earth is Eru Ilúvatar, the creator of all things (see the “Ainulindalë” in The Silmarillion). In the BBC’s re-imagining of Arthurian legend, Merlin, magic is woven into the fabric of the earth, and Merlin himself is a being of magic, created by Destiny to help and guide Arthur, the Once and Future King. In both cases magic is very much a tool that can be used for good or evil. The magic in Harry Potter is simply a tool that most often acts as a plot device.It is the same in Harry Potter. Rowling herself has said that she invented...

Real Heroes: The Morgan Grimes Theory Feb09

Real Heroes: The Morgan Grimes Theory

I am tempted to say that Chuck is NOT the true hero of Chuck. It’s hard to admit because he is one of my favourite TV characters of all time, but the more that I think about it the more I realize that Morgan Grimes is the true hero of Chuck’s story. There, I said it, and after admitting it I have come to realize that the same is true for Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Buffy, and even the Doctor. May I present: The Morgan Grimes Theory. I’m quite certain that Chuck would not be sane without Morgan by his side, keeping him together during difficult times (like when Sarah’s AWOL and the CIA dumps Chuck like a week-old Subway sandwich). “Bag ’em and tag ’em, Sarah. I mean, Agent Walker.” —Morgan GrimesOne of the most heartbreaking moments for me in the show is not when Chuck breaks up with Sarah,  nor when Sarah won’t talk to him, nor even when Sarah hooks up with too-good-looking Shaw instead of our beloved Nerdherder. Nope, the moment that gets me most is when Morgan says these seven words (words we never dreamed he would utter): “I’m firing you as my best friend.” And it’s not getting back together with Sarah that puts Chuck at ease and reinstates his ability to flash. It’s when he’s finally able to tell Morgan everything about his spy life and Morgan instantly forgives him. Not only that, but Morgan thinks it’s awesome that Chuck is a spy. You can just feel the tension drain from Chuck as Morgan rehires him as his best friend. The real hero of Chuck: Morgan Grimes. Frodo: “Go back, Sam! I’m going to Mordor alone.” Sam: “Of course you are, and I’m coming with you!”I can’t talk about best friends without mentioning The Lord of the Rings. The true hero of this story might be overweight, easily scared, and not too bright, but he also takes on a giant, man-eating spider by himself, storms a tower full of orcs out to eat him for second breakfast to save his friend, and carries a hobbit on his back up the side of a volcano when all seems lost. NBD. Tolkien himself has referred to Sam as the “chief hero.” I like how Tolkien tips his hat to Sam by giving him the final scene and last words in The Return of the King: “Well, I’m back.” The real hero of The Lord of the Rings: Samwise Gamgee. I’ve applied the Grimes Theory to other franchises, and it  continues to hold true. Who’s the true hero in Harry Potter? Is it Harry? Or is it the one whose wit is constantly getting him out of impossible situations? The one who realizes knowledge is power and even time travels to study more, the one who helps Harry pass his Tri-Wizard tasks, the one who forms Dumbledore’s Army, the one who is always prepared to the point of packing a complete home in a handbag… I could go on. She pretty much keeps Harry and Ron alive throughout the entire series, no question about it, and Harry is lost without Hermione and, to some degree, Ron by his side. The real hero of Harry Potter: Hermione Granger. And let’s talk about that teenager who slays vampires like it’s going out of style: Buffy Summers. Who talked Willow off of her murderous rampaging ledge? “I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me.” —Xander HarrisWho survived numerous apocalypses with no slayer powers, no demon powers, and no magic? Where would Buffy be without the beloved Xander? There are two characters Buffy couldn’t do without. The two that who stayed by her side when the going got rough (and boy, did the going get rough). They even fought her battles for her when she tucked her tail between her legs and ran away to the hallowed life of working at a diner...