Frodo vs. Beowulf: A Hobbit’s Heroics Nov22

Frodo vs. Beowulf: A Hobbit’s Heroics...

I’m going to die. Sometimes that thought swirls through my brain as I try to grasp its reality. That’s what living is: slowly expiring. And the older I get, the more frightening it becomes. I don’t want to die, but sooner or later someone will put my body in the ground and there will be nothing I can do about it. I probably won’t even get a say in how I die; it’ll happen how it happens. A similar thought plagued Frodo on his journey through Middle-earth. Though warrior societies view death as a matter of personal honour, what is a hobbit (or a hobbit at heart, like me) to do when confronted by the matter? Many of us are little people, more in love with the shade of a green tree in summer than we are with great deeds and adventure. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo finds his friends under the spell of a vengeful spirit—a barrow-wight. Much like the threat of Black Riders on the road, darkness has snuck up on him and fear grabs hold of him; the Ring also plays a subtle role. Out of sight, the wight chants a chilling incantation that freezes Frodo’s heart. Then a dark thought comes to him: “He wondered if he put on the Ring, whether the Barrow-wight would miss him, and he might find some way out. He thought of himself running free over the grass, grieving for Merry, and Sam, and Pippin, but free and alive himself. Gandalf would admit that there was nothing else he could do.” My respect for Frodo’s character would be reduced if he took this option out of danger, yet the thought makes sense because both the quest and Frodo’s life are at stake. Self-preservation...

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes Sep15

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes

If you’re not looking forward to going back to school, here are some classes you may want to add to your timetables. 1. Steve Rogers – American History Not only is Steve passionate about his homeland, but living through much of its history is one of the perks of being 95. 2. The Tenth Doctor – Physics “Physicsphysicsphysicsphysics physics! I hope one of you is getting all this down.” 3. Galadriel – Astronomy She’s so good, she can put starlight in a bottle. 4. Yoda – Communication Difficult, it can be. 5. Hermione Granger – Literature The type of literature is irrelevant. Hermione knows it all—or if she doesn’t, she’ll stay in the library until she does. 6. Spock – Statistics Nothing illogical will be tolerated in this classroom. 7. Sherlock Holmes – Criminal Justice It’s elementary, my dear students. 8. Rumpelstiltskin – Legal Studies No one’s better at making a deal than the Dark One—just make sure your homework doesn’t include signing one of his contracts. 9. J.A.R.V.I.S. – Computer Science He knows computers inside and out. 10. Wonder Woman – Classical Studies She’s straight outta Greek...

5 Characters Who Made Bad First Impressions Sep01

5 Characters Who Made Bad First Impressions...

When I tell people I was homeschooled, they often ask if I was shy or antisocial as a child. When I tell people I’m a geek, they ask if I have a job and still live in my parents’ basement. When I tell them I’m Southern, they ask why I don’t have a strong accent. When people assume things about me, they often get a first impression that isn’t accurate. It frustrates me because they’ve attributed characteristics to me within the first few minutes, and I have to fight to counter a negative first impression when I shouldn’t have to. I feel hurt when people think they know me from a few stereotypes they heard through the grapevine. But I’m guilty of doing this too, with people I meet and with fictional characters. Sometimes I make up my mind about them before I give them a chance. Here are five characters I didn’t like at first, but changed my mind about later. For some of them, I grew to like them as they changed and adapted; for others, I started to like them because I understood them better. What characters would you add to this list? “GOLLUM =D” by speedportraits (speedportraits.deviantart.com). 1. Gollum (The Lord of the Rings) When I first saw Gollum in the movies as a child, I was terrified of him. I wasn’t sure of what to make of this “gangly creature.” He was an odd schizophrenic who seemed bent on doing anything, including murder, to get back the Ring. But as I learned more about his character and understood his addiction, watched his development I realized, like Frodo did, that he really is a creature to be pitied, not feared. “Cactus Love…” by Moni (moni158.deviantart.com). 2. Sokka (Avatar: The Last...

Curses of Blood in The Lord of the Rings Mar08

Curses of Blood in The Lord of the Rings...

Middle-earth is a bloody place. The generational struggles of elves in the First Age, the War of the Ring, and even the adventures of a certain handkerchief-less burglar are all bloody stuff. Blood isn’t just for wetting swords, though; blood tells us something about who we are. But it doesn’t have the final word on who we’ll be. Middle-earth holds two tales that reveal the powerful pull of blood. In the First Age of Middle-earth, the elven prince Fëanor created jewels of unsurpassed beauty called the Silmarils. Fëanor was the greatest of the elves; he was exceedingly beautiful and unsurpassed in skill and understanding—he knew it, too. It was his pride that drove him to swear an irrational oath of vengeance against anyone who withheld the Silmarils from him after Morgoth, the dark enemy of the elves, stole the Silmarils and murdered Fëanor’s father. But the burden of blood tends to outlive its source; Fëanor’s sons nursed their own pride and took up the oath as the mantle of their house, following their father to war: “They swore an oath which none shall break, and none should take, by the name even of Ilúvatar, calling the Everlasting Dark upon them if they kept it not . . . vowing to pursue with vengeance and hatred to the ends of the World Vala, Demon, Elf or Man as yet unborn or any creature, great or small, good or evil, that time should bring forth unto the end of days, whoso should hold or take or keep a Silmaril from their possession.” (The Quenta Silmarillion.) Pride was the weakness in Fëanor’s blood, first exploited by the subtleties of Morgoth and then passed on to Fëanor’s sons. When pride demands its right and blood is spilled, a...

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...

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide Nov25

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide...

Christmas is coming, folks. And we know gift shopping can be a hassle. What to get your geek buddies that they don’t already to have? What to ask for because no one knows what to get you? We did a Gift Guide to Geek Art already, but thought you might be on the lookout for other ideas too. We did the research for you and have compiled a guide to satisfy every fan’s dream. For the Anime Enthusiast We know RWBY‘s not technically an anime because it’s American; calm down, folks! Calm down. Also, our Small-size editor’s wanted that Attack on Titan hoodie for a long time. Just sayin’. Attack on Titan Hoodie – $34.99 RWBY Ruby Figure – $34.95 Works of H. Miyazaki – $188.99 Crunchyroll Subscription – $6.95/month Princess Mononoke Art Print – $28 Eevee Earrings – $13.16 For the Tabletop Titan No one can understand why the board game organizer is so awesome unless they are a board gamer. Escape: The Curse of the Temple – $70 Dice Bag – $9.95 RPG Dice Set – $9.98 Dungeon Master Screen – $15 Board Game Organizer – $15-$50 King of Tokyo – $39.99 For the Comic Cavalier Marvel’s taking the Star Wars universe to great places… need we say more? Plus some other cool stuff. Star Wars Comics – $4.99 Inky Superhero Art – $30-$75 Superhero Fingerless Gloves – $25 Nimona Graphic Novel – $15.99 Ms. Marvel Comics – $2.99 DC Comics: A Visual History – $35 For the Fantasy Fiend That handmade Falkor, though! Lindsey Stirling album – $9.99 Elf Ear Cuffs – $27.75 The Name of the Wind – $10.79 Handmade Falkor – $131.83 The Grisha Trilogy – $36.53 Game of Thrones Dog Tag – $14.99 For the Sci-Fi Supporter The closest you can get...

Hymns and Heroes: 10 More Matches Made in Heaven Nov18

Hymns and Heroes: 10 More Matches Made in Heaven...

Ask and ye shall receive! Here are ten more hymn-meets-hero matches made in heaven, because we believe in the power of resurrection here at Geekdom House (whether for Jesus, Gandalf, or a mashup list). See Part 1 of this list here. 1. Sonic the Hedgehog — “There is a Green Hill Far Away” Twenty-five years far away, in fact. And boy, do we hope Sonic Mania brings it back. 2. Pit (Kid Icarus) — “The Fight is On” Step 1: Insert Smash Bros. Brawl. Step 2: Select Pit. Step 3: Press “up” on the D-pad. Step 4: Continue as directed until all opponents gang up to pound you into silence. 3. Pick an Age of Ultron Avenger, any Age of Ultron Avenger — “Be Thou My Vision” This isn’t the first time we’ve made this pun, and it won’t be the last. (Maybe next time we’ll apply it to Daredevil instead…) 4. Ichigo Kurosaki — “The Call for Reapers” He answered that call in the dubbed version. 5. Eren Jaeger — “Fire of God, Titanic Spirit” Sink your teeth into that colossal pun. Seriously, though, we just want to hear him rage his way through the lyrics in Titan-ese while he’s on fire. 6. Pikmin — “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” “Except when I see a pellet. Or get stuck behind a bridge. Or decide to get lost 20 seconds before launch.” 7. Glorfindel/Arwen — “Ride On! Ride On in Majesty!” Or, as we elves say, “noro lim!” 8. Solaire of Astora — “Praise the Father; Praise the Son” And engage in jolly charismatic worship. 9. Haruka Nanase — “Take Me to the Water” We bet he only sings freestyle. 10. Thor — “The God of Thunder and the Lightning” “This hymn, I like it. ANOTHER!” We can just see Thor hurling a...

Hymns and Heroes: 10 Matches Made in Heaven Oct07

Hymns and Heroes: 10 Matches Made in Heaven...

Not many fictional characters stumble into church (except to set the existential mood), and even fewer actually practice Christianity, unless we’re talking Nightcrawler or Nicholas D. Wolfwood. (No, Sephiroth, being a Jenova’s Witness doesn’t count.) But imagine if our favourite characters were—for no particular reason—suddenly forced to choose their epic theme songs from a hymn book (or else face cricket-chirping silence during their otherwise awesome advents). We’ve got a hunch that these 10 hymn-meets-hero mashups might, literally, be matches made in heaven: 1. Obi Wan Kenobi —”Higher Ground” He takes “plant my feet on higher ground” literally. Maybe if Anakin had given this hymn (or, y’know, his Jedi Counselors) a listen, he’d have fewer artificial limbs. 2. Prince Zuko — “Thine Honor Save” Change thy haircut whilst thou art at it. 3. Aerith Gainsborough — “Holy, Holy, Holy” That was the plan. To her credit, the evilest seraphim did eventually “fall down before her.” 4. Light Yagami — “Is My Name Written There?” You’ll know in about 40 seconds. 5. The Night Guard (Five Nights at Freddy’s) — “I’ll Stand By Until the Morning” …if I’m lucky. 6. Edward Elric — “Small Things Count” Except Ed isn’t “small”—he’s fun-sized. I hear arms and legs count, too. 7. Gandalf — “He Lives” And now he comes in more colours. 8. Link — “Must I Go, and Empty-Handed?” (1) Yes, though it is dangerous. (2) No, take this! 9. Goku — “Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand” 100,000,000. Now that’s a power level. 10. Ned Stark — “Winter is Coming” Yes, this is an actual hymn, though it’s more about ice than...

Confession of a Tech Addict Sep26

Confession of a Tech Addict...

To most, “addict” is a term defined by drug or alcohol abuse, substances that can destroy physical health and break down relationships. When I think of addiction, my mind goes to Frodo Baggins and Gollum. Both characters experience a physical pain and a mental anguish when they are separated from the Ring for any period of time. They undergo physical transformation the longer they are in contact with the Ring and their relationships with other people are damaged because of their desire for it. Gollum killed his cousin for possession of the Ring, and will stop at nothing to get it back from Frodo. Even Frodo, who shows extraordinary resistance to its powers, is affected as the journey goes on. When he’s separated from it, he lashes out at Sam for doing nothing more than keeping it safe. My addiction, however, is not so obvious. I can relate more to Gregory House from the TV series House. House’s addiction is to the pain killer Vicodin. On its own, there is nothing inherently evil about that particular drug. Vicodin actually serves a very important and good purpose for House. Due to a physical injury to his leg, he lives in constant pain. Vicodin takes away the pain and makes it possible for him to focus on the complex diagnostic puzzles of his patients. I strive for change because I will never be healed if I don’t reach out. But House begins to rely on the drug for other reasons. It becomes more than simply a way to relieve pain or even a way to escape. It’s a soother of his misery and a way to occupy himself when he gets bored. Something that served a purpose for good becomes destructive as House’s relationships with Wilson,...

A Mennonite reads The Lord of the Rings Nov25

A Mennonite reads The Lord of the Rings...

There’s nothing quite like the use of grand and glorious battles in fantasy literature, where massive armies surge and strive to overcome each other, usually in a representation of the eternal struggle between good and evil. Heroes are created and even killed during these battles. Supreme dark lords show their true colours as elemental forces of evil and shadow. There is no ambiguity when it comes to who to root for in these struggles. It is always clear who is in the right and who is most definitely in the wrong. We who read such literature cheer for the heroes when they triumph, gasp when they face defeat, and mourn when they die. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth stories—including The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion¸and all the other gathered tales that his son, Christopher, has collected over the years—are no exception to this. In The Lord of the Rings alone, we know of the story of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men that overthrew Sauron. We read the vivid description of the battle at Helm’s Deep and Merry and Pippin’s recounting of the Ents’ triumph at Isengard. Much ink and paper are spent, especially, on the Battle of the Pelennor Fields before the city of Minas Tirith where the forces of Sauron attempt to conquer the last remaining true stronghold of men in Middle-earth. Wars in epic fantasy are often presented as glorious, wonderful things to be praised. It wasn’t war that won the victory. It was selfless love and sacrifice that conquered evil in the end. For me, a Mennonite and Anabaptist (two Christian groups that are almost stereotypically anti-war and anti-violence), enjoying epic fantasy literature might appear hypocritical. On the surface, Tolkien’s battles may seem to be war mongering, but...