Dare to be yourself

On my desk at work, I have a fortune from a cookie – you know the kind, they come with take out Chinese food. Normally, I throw these out – the fortunes, not the cookies. But this one struck me and hung around long enough to be taped to a framed picture of my kids.

It says, “One must dare to be himself, however frightening or strange that self may be.”

For someone who grew up in a generation that was discouraged from standing out when they were young, this complex yet simple quote really resonates. It resonated so much, in fact, that I couldn’t believe it was made up by someone trapped in a cookie factory. So I looked it up.

It turns out that it is a fairly common fortune – or at least that it resonated with others – as I found may references to it as coming from a cookie. But I also found a very similar quote from the poer May Sarton, a quote that I can only assume inspired the fortune (or perhaps the other way around, but somehow I doubt it):

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may be.”

Daring to be your own strange self isn’t sufficient. We must all dare to be who we are.

In recent years, I’ve learned the value of transparency and of working toward self-set goals. Be honest about who you are and work toward what you want – not what you think others want you to want. Now to be clear, being yourself isn’t a license to be a jerk. I also believe that being kind and considerate is critical. But somehow, when I sincerely focus on either one of those, the other comes more easily.

So that’s what has inspired me to start this potentially frightening and strange blog. I’m going to try to write what I want, not what I think others are looking for. I’m not going to look for comments or validation, but I will welcome discussion.

I’ll be honest. I’ve started blogs before. But in the back of my head, those were about the stage face me. This, to the best of my ability to put into words, will just be me. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. It may just be me capturing ideas or putting concepts on a page. It may be fictions or snippets of fiction. It’s likely to be strange and possibly sometime frightening.

It will be whatever I dare to be.

 

In honor of the Thin White Duke

Ziggy Warlock and the Spiders of Infinity
Ziggy Warlock is an artificial being created on Earth but who traveled into space after conflict with Terra’s heroes. After encountering several cosmic beings, Ziggy obtained the Soul Gem and after defeating the consort of Death, formed the Spiders of Infinity to protect the Infinity Gems. In addition to Ziggy Warlock, the Spiders of Infinity include: Bolder the Destroyer, Ga-Dana, Mick Woodragon, Mick the Troll, and a mysterious sixth member unknown to the others. At some point in the future, Ziggy Warlock will become the evil Aladdin Magus.

Jareth Pryor, the Goblin King
A clone of David Grey, Jareth was an off-and-on antagonist of the X-Men with a reputation for kidnapping infant siblings of known mutants. He dwells in a mystic Labyrinth in another realm.

Major Tom Victory
Lost in a space-walking accident in the 20th century, Major Tom Victory woke up over a thousand years later to lead a team of freedom fighting musicians: Mick T’Naga, a crystalline guitar player from Pluto; Captain Herbie-27, a bass player from Jupiter; and Yondu Cox, a blue-skinned drummer from Centauri-IV.

A cross-over than should have never been born

In the mid-80s, one Doc Emmet Brown invented time travel. After a handful of adventures in the past and future in and around Hill Valley, California – he mastered movement through space and time and began travelling further afield.

One of his first stops was San Dimas, California where he inspired and in return was inspired by future time travelers Bill Preston and Ted Logan. Some time after this meeting, he made a time machine that was bigger on the inside and shaped like a phone booth.

Later, he travels to Sunnydale, California and learning of the Slayers and the Watchers, travels back to ancient time to ensure the first Slayer is created. (Much later, one of these Slayers will become his traveling companion.) As a side effect of creating the Watchers, he himself gained the ability to “regenerate”, restoring youth and vigor, whenever his body suffered sufficient damage.

Eventually, he makes his way to the 1930s where he meets one “Indiana” Jones and his father, Professor Henry Jones. His adventures with the pair lead to him seeking out similarly inclined men in other eras: James Bond, Jack Ryan, certain members of British royalty, Rick Deckard, and eventually travelling into the far distant past to meet a scruffy smuggler known as Han Solo.

(While in England, he develops a love for the country that will influence his legacy for a very long time to come.)

While in the distant past, Doc forms a new society on the planet of Gallifrey. He raises them out of the primitive warlike state and teaches them the secrets of time. Eventually, the title “The Doctor” becomes one of great importance to these Time Lords.

At some point, he takes a female Time Lord as a companion and returns to Earth. When they part ways, she takes on a number of different appearances and identities including “Mary Poppins” and “Lisa”.

After a very long career, he retires to run a candy company using the psuedonym “Willy Wonka”.

How the Eighth Ocean came to be.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been scribbling down bits of ideas that I’m starting to think may be the under-structure of something larger. What follows is a bit of mythology that might come from the urban fantasy setting I’m starting to percolate in my head.

In the beginning, there was the land and the seven seas. There was no sky above and no underworld below. The land was formed in seven parts, but no creatures walked about the land because there was no sky to hold them in.

Each sea was the domain of a different elder god. Each of these gods was mighty in their own right, able to create creatures, birth lesser gods, and foster followers. But despite their power, none of the elder gods could foster followers upon the land and so mankind remained in the depths.

In the fullness of time, the seven gods held a conclave and each gave up a portion of their power to wrap an eighth sea around the world and to create an eighth elder god to have dominion over this sky sea. EO was he Named and for a time, he stood among his brothers and sisters as an equal.

With the sky sea in place, mankind was able to walk upon the land and flourish. In time, eight tribes were formed, each worshiping one of the eight elder gods and their kin. To each of the tribes, a place was given, a land suitable to their worship.

Down the Black Streets

I’ve recently returned from Balticon and am feeling creatively rejuvenated. I’ve been participating in #the100dayproject via Instagram for the last 7 weeks and am gearing up for submitting stories to a couple different audiences.  As time allows, I will share some pieces here as well.  The first, which follows below, was inspired by explicitly by the Balticon experience.  

Down the Black Streets

by David ‘Doc Blue’ Wendt
(With apologies to Paul E. Cooley)

An inky black entity, roughly the size of a bull elephant, blocked the only exit from the alley. It stood on six tree-stump-like legs, and its hide shimmered like an oil slick on water. A pair of thick eye-stalks and a half-dozen tentacles protruded from what passed for the creature’s head, though no mouth could be seen.

* * *

Trapped on the wrong side of the black thing, the only other inhabitant of the alley was hunkered down inside his trash can. He had already emptied his gun into the entity and even sacrificed his last bottle of Tuaca to create a largely ineffective molotov cocktail.  The only bright spot was that the creature seemed unable to digest the metal of his can, but it was only a matter of time before the thing simply decided to tip over the trash container and shake him out.  “I hope I give that bastard indigestion.”

* * *

The grouchy can-dweller did not hear the breakers snap as the industrial flood lights clicked on. He did not see the black entity flow away from the light to slink into the shadows. He did not smell the stench of burning from where the illumination touched the monstrous thing.

He did hear, however, the thunderous pounding on his can. His sensitive ears could tell the difference between knuckles and tentacles so he cautiously lifted the lid.  Through the inch-wide gap, he could see his visitor holding up his empty hands to show he was unarmed. One of the man’s palms had some disturbing scars that the grouchy P.I. didn’t recognize.

Lifting the lid higher, he examined his would-be rescuer. The man had a black and grey goatee and long, similarly colored hair pulled back in a pony-tail. Glancing into the now-well lit alley, the furred can-dweller could see no sign of the creature that had trapped him. He gave the human another look-over, this time with a small amount of admiration.

Then he saw the man’s feet.  Big fluffy slippers with poor approximations of the P.I.’s head on each foot. “Great. Another deranged fuppet mucking fan….”

Setting Noodling III – The Current State of Things

N’Humans have been on Kenorland for only about a decade and though they have arrived in non-trivial numbers, the five races (dwarves, halflings, orcs, n’humans, and elves) are more or less balanced in numbers. Elves are slightly less populous than the other races, but are not notably rare.

While there is some mistrust and prejudice, the races are not in conflict at a macro level. Any conflict that exists is at the individual level. There are bullies of various races who won’t forget old misconceptions, but most folks are accepting of other folks.

Kenorland is largely unpopulated, a frontier open to exploration and settlement. There are also a large numbers of ruins and lost relics for adventurers to discover. As a result, many small towns have sprung-up in-land, typically to support dungeon-crawling.

Though each individual is unique, a number of distinct “professions” have started to be recognized and grouped by the population. Open to all races are: healers, spell-slingers, shape-shifters, and tinkers. Tinker is a nice title for individuals who specialize in opening locks and disarming traps.

Each race also has a fairly unique archetype: Dwarven Earth-Borne, Elven Dryads (also known as Treants), N’Human Law (or Lore) Speakers, Orcish Beastmasters, and Halfling Hosts/Hostesses. Earth-Borne and Dryads can drawn on the strengths of their respective elements. Law Speakers are battle-trained healers. Beastmasters forge bonds with wild beasts. Hosts have gifts around providing food and comfort to their guests.

Setting Noodling – Part II – The Return

STANZA FOUR

In the fullness of time, Odintala and Damkwibalch turned back to one another and were able to heal the homeland of the People.

The halflings were the first to return to the surface of Kerguelen, which is now known as Kenorland. They were small of stature but quick of mind and body. They tamed the plants that had sprung up in the ashes of the old world and planted seeds that they had saved from the time before. They made their homes in hills and carved fields out of the soil. By this time, they had among their numbers none who were bound to the old gods nor any who were bound to the element lords. So their numbers remained small despite their growth.

Next to emerge were the dwarves, from the depths of the earth. They had healers among their numbers and those bound to the earth, the mightiest of whom who could become like living stone. They were not used to the light of the sun and the open air, so few of them walked upon the surface of Kenorland. The dwarves and halflings lived in peace for a generation for they each understood the trials of living beneath the earth.

The memories of elves are long, but the memories of trees are longer.

STANZA FIVE

When the time was right, the orcs returned to Kenorland, guided by the elves who walked among them. They brought the children of Artileo with them and animals returned in abundance to Kenorland. For a generation, orcs lived in peace among the halflings.  But the orcs did not understand the constrained ways of the dwarves and for two generations the two peoples turned their faces away from one another. The dwarves also turned their faces from the elves who had brought the orcs to Kenorland.

The orcs had among them healers who could offer the blessing of the old gods to plants, animals, and the peoples alike.  These healers kept the balance between the peoples and all creatures flourished.

Though they had been all but forgotten, shapeshifters also walked among the orcs. And then, they also walked among the dwarves and halflings, inspiring many tales told to children in the dark of winter and cold of night. These, too, helped to keep the balance between the people for three generations.

The memories of elves are long, but the memories of trees are longer.

STANZA SIX

Finally, when the time was right, nhumans returned to Kenorland, guided by the elves that walked among them. Nhumans (or men as they were called by the other peoples) had not forgotten the ways of the elements or those of the old gods. Among men walked healers of their own, who sought to teach the words of the old gods as they remembered them.  This caused much strife as the peoples each had their own words, but it also caused much healing as the peoples found much in common.

Also walking among men were magi, male and female, those who were bound to the elements.  Where these men walked, so walked strife, for each strove to prove his or her power superior to others of their kind. Many magi died within year of maturity. Those that survived to the graying of their hair were powerful indeed.

The magi, male and female alike, would teach their secrets to any who could meet their price.  And so it came to pass that magi walked among all the peoples, though some in greater frequency than others.

The memories of elves are long, but the memories of trees are longer.

Setting Noodling – Part I. How the Races came to be.

STANZA 1

In the beginning, Odintala and Damkwibalch created the world and all that was in it. They set the great lands in the seas and made the People to populate Kerguelen, the Land of the People.

They also gave birth to the five Elements: Terra, Lady of Stone; Selvans, Lord of Trees; Artileo, Lord of Animals; Teshub, Lord of Storms; and Kojin, Lady of Flames.

None of the Elements were good and none of them were evil, but sometimes they forgot.

And ten thousand years is like a day in the eyes of a god.

STANZA 2

In the fullness of time, the People became Tribes and filled completely the Land of Kerguelen.

And the Tribes were Seven and they were called: Durin, Hauflin, Orcneas, Bildung, Alfar, Seth, and Zurvan. With each Tribe, the families were of similar mind and temperament.

Among the People walked those with affinities to the gods and the elements. The strength of these affinities varied by tribe, with those of Zurvan showing the greatest connection to all of the elements.

Those that bound themselves to Odintala or Damkwibalch were granted the gift of healing and were able to drive disease from their tribes. Those that bound themselves to one element or another were granted gifts in accordance with their binding.

When they were of a mind, the Alfar dedicated themselves to Selvans and were thus blessed with the lifespan and nature of trees. It is the Alfar who remember the tales we tell.

And ten thousand years is like a day in the eyes of a god.

STANZA THREE

When any coupled pair spends time enough with one another, there come times when they must separate or come to blows.  It was so with Odintala and Damkwibalch and for a time, they turned away from one another, one to face three of the Tribes and the other to face three more. And one Tribe was left without parent.

It was during this time, that the Burning Scourge emerged, threatening all life upon Kergeulen. Those People who had bound themselves to Lady Kojin were blamed and were hunted down by all the Tribes. In the end, however, the People were forced to flee from their homeland.

The Tribes of Durin and Hauflin fled below ground where the flames could not reach them. They took no other Tribe with them and they closed their great stone doors behind them. The Tribe of Durin dug deeper into the world, mastering the secrets of harvesting and crafting minerals, and they became the Dwarves. The Hauflin burrowed only shallowly, growing small in stature but crafty in agriculture, and the became the Halflings.

The Tribes of Orcneas and Bildung fled upon great ships to the jungle Land to the south known as Gondwalla. Upon each ship, they took with them three of the Alfar that the children of Selvans might survive the Burning. The Tribes of Orcneas and Bildung each dedicated themselves to Artileo and were granted gifts according to their binding.  The Orcneas bound themselves only shallowly and took on the traits of the jungle animals: the tusks of boars, the markings of great cats, and the strength of arms of the apes.  But far from being the brutes they appeared, they became a spiritual people, in touch with the life around them and respectful of their animal kin. And the Tribe of Orcneas became the Orcs. The Bildung bound themselves fully to Artileo and were granted the ability to take on the form of his children. Each of the Bildung dedicated themselves to one totem whose form they could take. The greatest among them could bind themselves to many totems. The Tribe of Bildung lost their name and diffused into the world, becoming Shapeshifters and emulating the people among whom they lived.

The Tribes of Seth and Zurvin fled upon great ships to the Western Land of Rodinia. And upon each ship, they also took with the three of the Alfar that the children of Selvans might survive the Burning. The Tribe of Zurvin married into the Tribe of Seth while in the Land of Rodinia becoming a new people: The NHumans.

And ten thousand years is like a day in the eyes of a god.