10 Top Dogs from Fandom Aug31

10 Top Dogs from Fandom

There’s something special about faithful, furry companions in our favourite stories. And how do we make a top ten list when there are so many wonderful canines in geek culture? Let the fans decide! We ran daily “Dog Days of Summer” matchups over August on our Facebook page to make the following countdown. 10. Cosmo Marvel’s spacedog is a liaison to the Guardians of the Galaxy, helping them plan their wild adventures. Former test animal of the Soviet Space Program and current head of security in a city called Knowhere, the talking dog hides the city’s citizens in a dimensional envelope on his collar during the events of Nova comics. Plus, he’s telekinetic and telepathic; as long as his psionic blast isn’t directed at you, you couldn’t ask for a more protective friend. “That does it. That enough. No more Mr. Nice Dog. Now Cosmo will hurt everyone.” —Cosmo 9. Wolf Link All right, all right, he’s not technically a dog, especially since he’s a human in disguise, but we still want him as our best friend. Playable in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wolf Link can also be summoned in Breath of the Wild as a companion for Link. “Wolf Link is summoned from another plane of existence and can’t be seen by other people in this world.” —Breath of the Wild Loading Screen Tip 8. Gromit Wallace’s loveable companion in the Wallace and Gromit movies, Gromit was originally going to be voiced by Peter Hawkins, but that idea was dropped when creators realized how expressive he could be just from his eye movements. Gromit is skeptical of Wallace’s inventions and tends to do most of the work for his bumbling friend. He also reads books, listens to Bach, and is great at solving puzzles. “Er, Gromit, old pal? It happened again. I’ll need assistance.” —Wallace, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit 7. Zwei It’s not every day you find a dog that happily fits into a small package along with enough food to last him months. He’s also apparently fireproof and incredibly tough, as seen when he destroys an Atlesian Paladin-290 in “No Brakes.” His name is possibly a reference to Cowboy Bebop‘s Ein, also a Welsh Corgi. Eins is the German word for “one” and Zwei means “two.” “Are you telling me that this mangy… drooling… mutt… is going to wiv with us foweva?” —Weiss 6. Underdog As long as you don’t mind him speaking in rhyming couplets and phone booths exploding after he changes into his superhero outfit,  Underdog seems like a handy canine to have around. Able to move planets and fly, among many other superpowers, there doesn’t seem to be much he can’t do. “There is no need to fear; Underdog is here!” 5. Snowy Tintin’s companion, Snowy sometimes struggles making th e right decision when bones or Loch Lomond whisky are on the line. He originally had a dry, cynical personality to balance Tintin’s positivity, but eventually morphed into light-hearted comic relief. “Tintin! Are you dead? Say yes or no, but answer me!” —Snowy, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets 4. K-9 First appearing with the Fourth Doctor in “The Invisible Enemy,” K-9 is known for his ability to beat the Doctor at chess and as Sarah Jane Smith’s companion. Apparently, the writers originally wanted to name him “Pluto” after the Disney character, but Disney refused permission. They also considered calling him FIDO (“Phenomenal Indication Data Observation”). “Affirmative!” —K-9 3. Huan Given to Celegorm, Feanor’s third son, Huan is as large as a small horse and has special powers granted by the Valar. He took pity on Luthien when she was captured and helped her escape, assisting her in killing Sauron’s werewolves and even winning a battle against Sauron’s wolf-form. A prophesy stated Huan could only be killed by the greatest wolf that ever lived. “Arise! Away! / Put on thy cloak! Before the day / comes over Nargothrond we fly / to Northern perils, thou and...

8 Characters Who Impact My Faith from Comic Con Christianity Aug24

8 Characters Who Impact My Faith from Comic Con Christianity...

How does geek culture impact faith and vice versa? Geekdom House is all about answering this question, and Comic Con Christianity by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry contributes wonderfully to the conversation. A Catholic and nerd, Perry connects geek stories to her experience with the Church, and made me think about these characters in a new light. All the quotes below are from her book, and only brush the surface of the hero-inspired journey contained within its pages! 1. The Tick: There’s Space for Everyone The City has tons of heroes to defend it, but they’re constantly “at odds with each other, causing one another to fail.” The Tick sounds kind of insane, but he showed them that they could get things done together instead of wasting time squabbling. This reminds me of the Church—full of really good people, but often too concerned with petty arguments or who they should be shutting out of their doors and not concerned enough about modeling Jesus’ welcoming behaviour. Sometimes I’m ashamed to call myself a Christian because of this public behaviour. “Everyone is necessary. Everyone is welcome. Everyone has a place,” writes Perry. Exactly! “Sometimes, it’s enough to just be willing to step out in faith and show up because something that is whispering in our hearts calls us to be greater.” 2. Aragorn: Jesus is Humble Jesus “was sort of like a Ranger—he was the True King of Israel, but remained incognito until it was time for him to act.” He did miracles of healing but would often tell the healed not to spread word about him, sharing God’s mercy with people who needed to hear it. I think this humility is important for me to model in relationship with others. “It was vital to our understanding of God’s...

Without Great Power Comes Great Opportunity Aug20

Without Great Power Comes Great Opportunity...

It’s the ultimate nerd personality question: what superpower would you want? I wonder whether people’s answers are actually an indicator of personality—like healing powers for a nurturing person—or whether it’s about the side benefits, like using telekinesis in a magic act to make lots of money. I’m not sure I want a superpower at all. Some of the most beloved characters in the geek world are the non-gifted teammates on a team of heroes. Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Marvel’s Agent Coulson, and Tolkien’s hobbits are “weak” and unskilled compared to other characters, but their deficiencies give them experiences other heroes don’t have. As someone without superpowers, those experiences are pretty familiar. When I’m not the strongest or most efficient person at home, at work, or with friends, I can learn how to value my unique attributes and use them well, focusing on what I can offer. Sokka and Contentment All Sokka ever wanted was to become a great warrior, protect his tribe, and find his father. “I’m just a guy with a boomerang,” he says when he and Katara discover Aang and meet Appa. “I didn’t ask for all this flying and magic!” But he agrees to help Aang, and becomes a valuable member of the group, even though he’s the only one without bending powers. Sokka rarely complains about feeling useless, but in the episode “Sokka’s Master,” when he can’t help put out a forest fire, he begins to despair. “All you guys can do this awesome bending stuff, like putting out forest fires and flying around… I can’t fly around, okay? I can’t do anything.” To encourage him, his friends suggest he train under a sword master, and he hones not just his fighting skills, but his creativity, resourcefulness, and...

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings Jul20

Cross-Fandom Characters Who’d be Siblings...

Although each fandom has its share of brothers and sisters, the dividing lines between franchises have prevented many sibling relationships that should have been. Here are some characters that definitely belong in the same family: Wonder Woman and Lady Sif Not only do Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif look like sisters, but they share the same skill on the battlefield and the same passion for protecting other people. They even carry the same weapons: a sword and shield. Westley and Jack Sparrow In The Princess Bride, Westley begins as an unassuming farm boy and ends up taking the mantle of the Dread Pirate Roberts with such gusto, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an actual pirate in the family. Although, Jack would be the awkward brother whom Westley doesn’t talk about, but demonstrates an uncanny habit of showing up at the worst times. Elrond and Spock They may be from totally different times, places, and races, but Elrond and Spock share the same pointed ears, black hair, and affinity for calm logic. Plus, they’re also both downright scary in a fight. Mantis and Odin’s children (Hela, Thor, and Loki) Odin’s bombshell in Thor: Ragnarok—that Thor has an older sister, and she’s intent on conquering the universe—is apt to make anyone a bit paranoid. Many fans have joked that Thor should suspect Mantis of being kin, due to her clothing’s green-and-black color scheme and her horn-like antennae (characteristics shared by Thor’s other siblings, Hela and Loki). Add these hints to Thor’s tendency to adopt everyone—even strange rabbits—and it makes total sense for Mantis to join the family. King Thranduil and Lucius Malfoy Same long blond hair, haughty attitudes, and penchant for strutting around carrying a staff. Definitely related. Amy Pond...

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture Jun15

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture

I love the reveal of a good character secret—especially those that come out of the blue and involve something integral to that character’s identity. Whether a character was innocent when thought of as guilty, a woman when it was assumed a man, or has a backstory that no one knows about, here are my ten favourite reveals from geek culture. 1. Sirius Black — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban This is my favourite book from the Harry Potter series, and I remember being completely surprised by the twist ending when I read it for the first time. This murderer, Sirius Black, had been set up as Harry’s worst enemy and then turned out to be a loyal and loving character. Harry realizing he wouldn’t have to live at the Dursleys anymore, followed by Wormtail’s escape, is a heart-wrenching moment that I felt to my core. 2. Samus Aran — Metroid Many gamers were totally floored by the reveal that Samus Aran is female that the end of the original Metroid game (released in 1986). During a time where female characters were often the princesses waiting in castles for rescue, this was a stereotype-blowing move, one that wasn’t even planned at the beginning. Partway through development, one of the developers asked, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” And the rest is gaming history. 3. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings It might be common knowledge now, but Strider’s identity as the king of Gondor is a neat twist in Tolkien’s masterpiece. He may have paved the way for other fantasy characters struggling with their identity as royalty, and his struggle with following in his ancestor’s footsteps, afraid he’ll make the same mistakes, is a real issue many can relate to. 4. Luke & Leia – Star Wars Oh, that awkward kiss. George was certainly determined to keep this one a secret till the last possible moment. I always liked the fact that, though Leia discovers she’s a Skywalker and is Force-sensitive, she doesn’t drop everything to become a Jedi, but continues in her role as leader and diplomat—the things she’s actually passionate about. And thankfully her “romance” with Luke didn’t go past a kiss, which means we didn’t have an angsty “I love you, but you’re my sister” side plot to sit through. 5. Shou Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist This one should be categorized as “worst-kept secret,” as in the most horrendous, I-want-to-puke-at-how-horrible-you-really-are-when-I-thought-you-were-nice kind of secret. Possibly the most hated person in anime history, the fact that Tucker doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong is what gets me—”I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” he says to Ed. “This is how we progress. Human experimentation is a necessary step.” 6. Merlin – Merlin This whole show revolves around Merlin’s secret identity as a magic user, which creates so many fun scenes and jokes. Merlin constantly has to humble himself and pretend to be stupid and powerless, even though he is always the hero who saves the day. His secret also adds a lot of heartache for Merlin, who believes Arthur will hate him if he discovers the truth. 7. Light – Death Note Another show that revolves around a secret identity, Death Note gives us the perspective of a villain who thinks he’s right. The cat-and-mouse game he plays with L is the reason I kept watching, not because I liked him as a character or thought his secret was worth keeping. 8. The War Doctor – Doctor Who This one came as a surprise to everyone, and I’m still confused about what it means or why they inserted an extra regeneration into the story—as if all the timey-wimey plots weren’t confusing enough! Does it mean THIS doctor is number 9, shifting all the other numbers after? Is he number 8.5? Whatever, John Hurt is cool. 9. Sheik – The Legend of Zelda:...

Samwise and Bob: Pages in a Greater Story Dec06

Samwise and Bob: Pages in a Greater Story...

From the moment I met Samwise Gamgee on the big screen, he has been beloved to me. Seeing Sean Astin bring one of my favourite Tolkien characters to life made the actor inextricable from Sam in my child’s mind. And through the years, as I have grown older and more aware of the beauties and horrors of the world around me, the roles which Sean Astin has played have stood the test of time, largely due to their redemptive qualities. So, when I saw that Astin would be playing Bob Newby in Stranger Things 2, I was sure that I’d find something to love about him. Both Bob the Brain and Sam Gamgee are vehicles for a universal truth, helping to show that there is in fact, “light and high beauty forever beyond” like Sam notices in The Return of the King. This hope is beyond the reach of the dark, even when the characters themselves seem fairly insignificant in their respective worlds. Bob and Sam are aware that they are in a larger narrative, that their role in their worlds and their small acts of goodness can reverberate through eternity. Sam’s revelation comes in the latter chapters of The Two Towers: Sam acknowledges that the truest and most memorable tales include some suffering, some sacrifice, and a heap of courage. “The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, the...

Introducing Non-Geeks to Your Fandom Aug04

Introducing Non-Geeks to Your Fandom...

One of the best parts of having a fandom is introducing new people to your favourite characters and worlds. Having someone to share your enthusiasm is great, but take the wrong approach and you’ll ruin it for them. Here are a few things to avoid when recruiting new fans. Never introduce them to the wrong point in the story—especially if it’s a series. You’re not a Harry Potter fan? Oh! Here, let me read you the best scene in book six. You’ll cry buckets! You’re going to love Doctor Who! We’ll start with the first Doctor—William Hartnell—and his granddaughter Susan. The show doesn’t really pick up until the third Doctor, but if you don’t watch the later episodes first you’ll never get all the nuances. Pro-tip: Any episode of The Starlost is the wrong episode to start with—that’s why you’ve never heard of it. Never assume that they’ll love a fandom just because it features actors they like in other properties. You like Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone, right? You’re going to love Demolition Man! If you think Han Solo was a great character, wait until you meet Rick Deckard. Yeah, John de Lancie was great in Next Gen, but he was completely awesome as Discord. Pro-tip: Don’t try to sell someone on Interstellar just because Elyes Gable from Scorpion has a bit part in it. Never use their non-geek interests to introduce them to your fandom. You like weddings? You’re going to love season three of Game of Thrones. Politics is your thing? You’ve got to see the senate scenes in Attack of the Clones. Pro-Tip: Don’t try to sell them on the Saw movies based on their interest in anatomy. Never tell them they’ll like a fandom because they remind you of...

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:...

Call Me Treebeard Jul01

Call Me Treebeard

Call me Treebeard. Hrum, Hoom… If I lived in Middle-earth, I’d be an Ent. Like Treebeard, my motto is “Do not be hasty.” But, also like Treebeard, I might take you for a small orc and step on you if I don’t first hear your voice. I’m also cautious—if I’m going to develop a relationship, I won’t rush into it, and I prefer to ask the questions rather than reveal a whole lot about myself before I know who I’m dealing with. And to make matters worse, I’m a Christian—and not just any kind of Christian, but the slowest of all Christians—I’m Catholic. And nothing is slower than the Catholic Church at making decisions. The language of my faith is “a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking the time to say, and to listen to.” If you don’t believe me, go to a Catholic Mass. Or read an encyclical. Or an exhortation. Like the Ents, we take forever to make a decision—the Church will “room tum, room tum, roomty toom tum” for years and years before we change anything. I recently participated in a three-day meeting as part of a process in my diocese to re-imagine the way we “do Church” on a parish level. It was a response to declining numbers in all things Catholic because, no matter what was going on around us, we were doing the same stuff over and over, hoping for a new outcome. Many of our trees are getting sleepy and less Entish… But, getting Catholics (clergy and laypeople) to think about doing things differently—even when it’s a matter of self-preservation—is like convincing Ents to storm Isengard;...

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...

Galadriel and the Long Defeat Apr27

Galadriel and the Long Defeat...

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. Those are Galadriel’s words at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. I recently re-watched it and, as with every re-watching, something new struck me. First, how awesome it is that the first voice in a movie dominated by men is a woman’s. And, second, that it is actually incredibly fitting for Galadriel to be the narrator, to fill the audience in on all the events that have contributed to the Ring’s birth and rule. A Brief Portrait Not much of Galadriel’s story is told in The Lord of the Rings. For that, readers have to dig into The Silmarillion, several volumes of The History of Middle-earth, and a few of Tolkien’s letters (there’s also a good summary of her life here. Some of the main details: Galadriel was born in Valinor (Tolkien’s word was “awoke”). Her father was Finarfin, youngest of the three sons of High King Finwë.  She defended her mother’s people of Alqualondë against Fëanor and his sons during the First Kinslaying. She made the incredibly difficult journey over the Helcaraxë (the Grinding Ice) into Middle-earth. She settled in Doriath, where she met Celeborn and learned the mystical arts from Queen Melian. She survived the fall of every Elven kingdom in the First Age. During the Second Age, she and Celeborn lived in in Lindon, then Eregion (where the Rings were forged) and then Lindórinand, which became Lothlórien. She is the keeper of one of the Three Rings, Nenya. There are two reasons why I mention these details. One, it is important to know just...

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...

A cage of fear Oct30

A cage of fear

Eowyn is no pansy. Tolkien has been accused of putting his female characters on a pedestal, and the lady of Rohan is no exception. From the moment she is introduced in The Lord of the Rings, Eowyn is pining for battle. With good reason. She was orphaned at age seven when her father was murdered by orcs and her mother subsequently died of grief. Eowyn’s origin story is worthy of Batman’s, and as any Eastern Asian martial arts movie will tell you, violent vengeance is the only solution to such problems. Deciding not to follow in Mom’s footsteps, Eowyn trains diligently in sword fighting and is referred to as a shieldmaiden. Step aside, Xena; there’s a new warrior princess in town. What’s more, she claims to be unafraid of death. My curiosity is peaked then, when Eowyn is asked what it is that she does fear. Her response? She is afraid of a cage. In a world ruled by men, Eowyn dreads the drudgery of the duties assigned to her on the basis of her gender, such as tending to her dying brother. For her, these “womanly” tasks are confining.You cannot truly love someone if you are afraid. Her greatest fear is that she will never be able to accomplish her desires because she is being held back by these obligations. The claustrophobia is palpable. She is trapped. The anime Attack on Titan opens on a similar sentiment. Here, the threat is the monstrous Titans, humanoid giants that look like the muscular system diagrams in your anatomy textbook (if the diagrams came alive and grew to six metres in height). Worse still, they eat humans. Yeah. Terrifying. Small wonder that humanity has retreated behind three concentric sets of stone walls to defend themselves. However,...

That thief, lust Aug17

That thief, lust

In The Lord of the Rings, there are two characters who lose their names. Their names are stolen from them, really. Stolen by that thief, lust. That poor, little dude Smeagol is the first of lust’s victims. Smeagol is the embodiment of lust. The way the power of the Ring works on him is so clear, so apparent, he should be under the definition of lust in the dictionary. It’s downright obvious. And sometimes lust is downright obvious. Smeagol becomes Gollum almost instantly. His lust is so transformative, he kills his best friend within minutes of finding the Ring. His lust is so revolting that it serves as an immediate warning for anyone who meets him. More often, however, I think lust is subtle, more deviously sneaky—and that’s when it is the most dangerous. Both Gollum and Wormtongue lose themselves so completely to lust that they become someone else. Take our second character, Grima, for instance. He’s slimy, he’s creepy, and he makes no bones about what he wants. Like Gollum, by the time we meet him, it’s clear what he’s about and nobody likes or trusts him… except for King Theoden. Theoden has thrown off every good advisor in his kingdom, including beloved members of his family. He used to be a wise, loving person, so we can conclude that something very powerful must have been working on him. But it’s also apparent that what’s happened to Theoden has been a gradual change. If Gollum showed up in the court of Rohan, he would have been imprisoned or killed on the spot.  Grima, on the other hand, better known as Wormtongue, is not only allowed access to the King, but is a trusted advisor. His lust, because of how it is disguised, transforms not...

Beyond Middle-earth: the least of these Aug04

Beyond Middle-earth: the least of these...

“And last came one who seemed the least, less tall than the others, and in looks more aged, grey-haired and grey-clad, and leaning on a staff.” “And being sent back from death for a brief while he was clothed then in white, and became a radiant flame.” ‒ Unfinished Tales Even the smallest can change the course of the world. This theme of “the last shall become first” is central to The Lord of the Rings. Usually it’s the Hobbits who come to mind—those humble creatures who took on the great evil of Sauron (and, in Frodo’s case, the literal burden of the Ring). But there is another, perhaps less obvious, character who embodies this theme: Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf was the last of the Order of the Istari, Maiar spirits who were sent from Valinor to aid in the fight against Sauron. There were five of them: Saruman the White, the head of the Order, Radagast the Brown, the two Blue wizards, and Gandalf. They appeared in Middle-earth around year 1000 of the Third Age. Though Sauron had been defeated at the end of the Second Age, the Valar realized that he would one day rise again. So, they sent emissaries with the sole purpose to “advise and persuade Men and Elves to good, and to seek to unite in love and understanding all those whom Sauron, should he come again, would endeavour to dominate and corrupt,” (UT, 503). Without Gandalf acting as the humble adviser, there would have been no victory. The Valar intended the Istari to take the form of old men so that they would be seen as equals among Elves and Men. Their bodies were mortal, and so they were capable of feeling pain and emotion, and of being...

Jokes to make you laugh and cry Jul10

Jokes to make you laugh and cry...

What doesn’t Tara drink? She’s not a fan of shots. What show does Boromir never seem to catch? Arrow. How much did it cost Dr. Horrible to join the Evil League of Evil? Just one Penny. What is Sephiroth’s favourite food? Shish kabobs. How do Reavers clean their spears? They put them through the...

A ghazal for Gollum Jun30

A ghazal for Gollum

Our only wish to catch a fish so juicy sweet How delicious, what a dish, so juicy sweet Give it to us raw and wriggling I think it’s good We’ll grab its head, it makes a squish, so juicy sweet Fish and bones, they make a crunch, not like bread Bread is tasteless, especially elvish, not so juicy sweet We wants it bad, we needs it bad, we must have it We’ll kill them both, risky to accomplish, so juicy sweet It is the master who’ll take care of us NO he won’t Give in to it, give in to anguish, so juicy sweet SHE could do it, she could kill them, yes she could Then I can take it, it is our wish, so...

The journey doesn’t end here Mar05

The journey doesn’t end here

In the Return of the King, Pippin collapses beside a blood-stained Gandalf as they both listen to the orc army chop away at the final barricade in Minas Tirith. Emotionally and physically depleted, Pippin looks over at Gandalf and says, “I didn’t think it would end this way.” Gandalf looks just about as tired and scared as the little hobbit—and certainly they are in a  seemingly-hopeless situation—but he perks up, sensing the same inauthenticity, the same falseness we feel when a story is too glib or too grim when it portrays death. “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take,” Gandalf says. “The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… and then you see it.” “What? Gandalf? See what?” “White shores.. and beyond. A far green country under a swift sunrise.” “Well, that isn’t so bad.” “No, no, it isn’t.” Death is a truth of mortality that cannot be faked Tolkien explains that The Lord of the Rings is ultimately about mortality. In an interview with the BBC, he claims that all stories are really about death, quoting Simone de Beauvoir, “There’s no such thing as a natural death. Nothing that happens to man is ever natural. His presence calls the whole world into question. All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation.” Death is an important theme in fiction, perhaps the most important theme. The stakes have to be high to keep people’s attention, and there’s nothing more exciting than a battle for life. The reason high stakes are so gripping is because, in the end, most of our art is consumed by thoughts of mortality. And when a character appears immortal, we break free from the narrative. The Song of Fire and Ice series is intoxicating because of its brutal treatment of characters and “no one is safe” rule. Characters are on the chopping block (sometimes literally) almost every chapter. There are no redshirts here, or more accurately, anyone could peel off their coat and find a crimson uniform underneath. George R.R. Martin doesn’t shy away from the brutal truth: we know instinctively, deep down, that our time can be up at any juncture, any chapter. But more than just the fascination with dying, viewers and readers are moved by sacrifice. In the original Transformers film (the 1986 version), the most iconic Transformer, Optimus Prime, dies 20 minutes in. His death inspires Ultra-Magnus and the rest of the Auto-Bots to victory. Throughout the film, your mind returns to Optimus, wondering if he will come back, if he will be rebuilt. But he never is. The Auto-Bots end up winning, but their win costs them. They do not emerge unscarred because Optimus Prime is gone forever. Fast-forward to 2007 and the Michael Bay version of the same franchise. Throughout the film, you hear the quote: “No sacrifice, no victory.” And Optimus Prime himself says, “[I am] a necessary sacrifice to bring peace to this planet” and “If I cannot defeat Megatron, you must push the Cube into my chest. I will sacrifice myself to destroy it.” “No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take,” Everything in the rebooted Transformers points towards the sacrificial death of Prime. But in the end, Sam uses the cube to destroy Megatron and everything is right in the world. Optimus doesn’t die, and the death of Megatron costs so little that the victory feels superficial. Sacrifice is often what makes a good story great. Take Superman’s death; he sacrifices himself so someone else can live. Take Gandalf the Grey, who metamorphoses into Gandalf the White, or Peter Parker, who emerges from the death of uncle Ben changed forever. Death doesn’t...

Opening a geek (not greek) pizza shop… Feb13

Opening a geek (not greek) pizza shop…...

The best pizza shops name their pizzas so we decided to give it a go. Not that we have any intention of ever opening up a pizza shop.. or do we? So what did we miss? Any further suggestions?

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...