Humpday Links for September 21

Good morrow, fair gentles!  Wednesday has arrived, and we needs must get through it to enjoy the slide into the weekend.  Please partake of these links which, if not enjoyable, should at least fill a few long minutes of the day:

– Let us start with some crazy!  According to this gentleman, when Lucas messes with the Star Wars movies he is not just upsetting fans, he is thwarting the will of extra-terrestrial visitors!

– From crazy we go to awesome, and read a letter from a gamer to his as-yet-to-be-born daughter.  My favourite quote? “If at age 30 you are little more than the currency that fools have paid you, spend yourself.” I actually fist-pumped.

– Speaking of fist-pumps: Brian Patterson over at D20Monkey has a new shirt inspired by the latest news surrounding Monte Cook and WotC.  Pre-order now, and get your Sharpie ready to check a box…

– Like Wil Wheaton?  Love animals?  Then follow this link and donate to help Wil and Anne Wheaton raise funds for the Pasadena Humane Society.  And then maybe donate time/money to your local humane society.  Just saying…

– This is geeky, inasmuch as it helps stave off the global food apocalypse.  Eat Local First is a site I discovered through a friend, that provides groceries grown/produced right here in Alberta.  And I’m sure if you nosed around you could find one in your area.

– Ever wonder what exactly goes into fantasy and sci-fi editing?  Here is an interview with Ellen Datlow, esteemed SF editor, that should answer some of those burning questions.

– Though I haven’t discussed it with my Thursday night gaming group yet, I think the idea behind Play a New RPG Month is a good one.  I’m going to give it a whirl, and you should too!

– Another gaming nerd event, this time proposed by The Escapist: Read an RPG Book in Public Week. Or RARPGBIPW, as it is lovingly known.  It’s almost Welsh…

– For those tens of you that, like me, are huge Babylon 5 fans, Pat Tallman’s new book will be of some interest…

Steve Jackson Games is running a new contest; seems they have a game coming out in 2012 and they need help naming it.  To help you along, “Kiss My Buttress!” has already been submitted.

– For those that can’t wait until Christmas to unwrap their Doctor Who news, here are some Christmas episode updates from Bleeding Cool.

– Continuing the Whovering, this has made the rounds a lot lately, but is really damn cool so listen to it again!

– And finally: This ought to shut up every loud mouth who ever said you were wasting your time playing video games (that’s right Mom, I called you a loud mouth. What are you gonna-ow!  Not the ear, ow ow ow!)

Enjoy your Wednesday, and join me tomorrow for something far more serious…though probably not.  As always, share your comments below!

Rock on, Princess Leia!

Carrie Fisher has been in the news recently because of her weight-loss success story, dropping 50lbs since last December.  I remember when I first saw her appearing as the spokesperson for Jenny Craig, and I thought, “Good for her! I hope that works.”  Well, apparently it did, because she is now just one size larger than her daughter, as she reports in an interview.  And in another interview she jokingly mentioned a desire to fit back into her old metal bikini, circa Return of the Jedi.

And I say, good for her!  I don’t really know much about Ms. Fisher beyond what I’ve read on her blog and in her excellent book Wishful Drinking.  But I know she’s had a fair share of personal demons to overcome, and she has done so with wit and grace.  I won’t lie; as someone in the process of overcoming my own demons, she is somewhat of a new inspiration.  And as anyone working at weight-loss and fitness will tell you, you can never have enough inspiration.

The one of Ms. Fisher’s quotes that really struck a chord was, “I thought that was getting old. It turns out it was mostly getting fat.”  There is a tendency, especially for men, to accept a certain “thickening” of the body as we get older.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ascribe the 100lbs or so that I’m over-weight to aging.  But as I got older, I started to feel easier with the idea of being a “comfortable size”.  Or fat, as the doctors call it.

Even after deciding to do something about my fitness level I still have moments of, “Well, is it so bad if I carry a few extra pounds? Maybe I could just lose 60-80lbs, that would be okay, right?”  But reading and listening to her recent interviews has helped me cut away some more of the excuses and little white lies I tell myself.  No, I don’t need to lose 60-80lbs, because I am 100lbs over-weight. So that is what I need to lose.  And if age does mean getting a bit thicker, well…$@#% aging.  Maybe it’s time to exceed my body’s programming a little.

So thank-you, Princess Leia, for giving me some much-needed inspiration.  I still stumble a lot, but its helpful to follow other people on the path.

*     *     *

There seems to be a moderately vocal minority who take exception to the idea of Carrie Fisher wanting to fit back in her “Slave Leia” bikini.  Most of it seems to be a mix of lazy feminism and ignorant ageism. Let me say this: Carrie Fisher is the only woman on the planet with the right to wear that costume.  Anyone else who has dared to do so since has done so as a privilege, and, at least through my eyes, has been mercilessly compared to the original. Now, I am almost certain she was joking for effect when she made the comments, but if she wasn’t then so what?  If Harrison Ford decided to get in shape and wear his old Han Solo costume around the house, would anyone be having even half a fit?  She is Princess Leia mother-#@%&ing Organa of the Rebellion, and she can wear what she Force well pleases.  That is all.

Questions? Concerns? Dirty Limericks? Fire them off in the comments below!

Listen Up, Padawannabes!

Let me start by saying, I would give my room mate’s right arm to have a lightsaber.  I don’t mean the replica Obi-Wan lightsaber I already have.  I mean an honest-to-Force fully functional lightsaber.  I would carry that baby every where!  The look on a mugger’s face the first time I fired that puppy up would be worth the cost on its own.

But I know that isn’t going to happen.  Physics-wise, a lightsaber is a non-trivial problem to say the least.  I will have to settle for bonking muggers with glowing Lucite (complete with film-realistic sound FX!).

Likewise, I know that I can never be a Jedi, and it has nothing to do with a lack of working weaponry.  I don’t want to upset any “jedi” that may read this but…the “Jedi Philosophy” as seen in the movies can not work in real life.  Face it, it barely worked in the movies; if you accept the prequel trilogy as cannon (and I do not. Deal.) it was actions arising from internal philosophical differences that led to the Jedi Order’s destruction.  I mean, are you seriously telling me that out of the entire Jedi Order, no one thought that “bring balance to the Force” might have another meaning?  And why would you think that eliminating the Sith would bring balance? Maybe they need to look up “balance” in the Oxford Jedi Dictionary again…

But inasmuch as the philosophy works, it works because it is a hybrid-construct made to serve its ultimate Master, the plot.  Taken away from its Master and left to fend for itself, that philosophy begins to fall apart and turn feral pretty damn quickly.  Which isn’t surprising, given the inherent conflicts in the three main philosophies used to build it:

Buddhism – followed in many forms in many Eastern nations, the main tenet of Buddhist religion found in most sects is one of dispassion.  Buddhists seek to separate themselves from feelings about the world around them, so they can live in a state of “dispassionate compassion” for the world.  So far, so good, right?  But then we sprinkle in some…

Taoism – followed mainly in China, Taoism is a philosophy not a religion (like Buddhism).  There is no central deity; instead, Taoists believe in a universal tension between “yin” and “yang” which gives rise to life force (finally, we are onto The Force) called “qi” or sometimes “chi”.  And while Taoist philosophy does sometimes include the idea of “dispassionate compassion”, it does not seek to eliminate emotional attachments.  In fact, most Taoist thought includes the need for desire, so that the Taoist can observe the form such desires take, allowing a better understanding of mankind.  So, yeah, we aren’t even out of the Eastern philosophies and already we run into conflicts.  Then we move West and throw in…

Chivalry – Chivalry was neither a religion nor a philosophy, but a code of behaviour attributed to knights in the Middle Ages.  Arguably observed more in the breach, it was tied in closely with Christianity and to a lesser extent Zoroastrianism.  The code of conduct included rules regarding honour, fealty and courage.  Because of its ties to Christianity we get our first introduction to ideas of “Good” and “Evil”, and how good must vanquish evil.  Ooookay…

So what do we end up with?  Buddhism says, “dispassionate compassion”.  Taoism says, “Sure, sure, that’s great. But how about we work to find a balance between passion and dispassion? Then we can tap into the life-force that binds us all.”  Chivalry says, “Balance?  We don’t need no stinking balance!  Do what your lord (or Lord) says, fight with courage and honour, and vanquish Evil!”  Are you seeing the problem?

Now, you can see bits and pieces of all these philosophies/religions scattered all through the Star Wars movies (even the prequels, if that’s how you get your jollies, sicko).  But that is all it is, a loose sprinkling of ideological snippets.  There is no philosophical cohesion, because none is possible.  And while you can ignore that lack and still enjoy the movies, I would challenge you to live the “Jedi Code” in real life without developing schizophrenia.

So kudos, all you padawannabes, on trying to live as a better person.  But self-examination forms the base for any plan to live better, and I think you will find your philosophy has a few stress fractures.

That’s my two credits, anyway.  Discuss.