Sunday’s Wisdom #343: Forgetting Responsibility

“Sometimes it’s easier to forget what we are responsible for and what we are supposed to do. Remembering means choosing.”
– The Moon Goddess, The Memory Thief
Thirteen Witches, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

As this quote comes near the end of the book, under circumstances which are a bit complex and filled with spoilers, I shall simply say that a young girl in need is getting some counsel from a divine being at an hour when she stands at the crossroads of her life. The choice she has to make is simple enough: now that she understands the evil of the world and the responsibility to stand against it, she can either forget it all and live a life as happy and peaceful as she might, or she can do something about it, accepting all the risks and sacrifices that come with the doing.

There is something very profound in that choice, something that rings deeply true and simple.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how there are many people who don’t really remember the significance of some of our holidays. Memorial Day is just another day off, I don’t recall at the moment if we even get Veterans’ Day off, Thanksgiving is crushed in the rush of Black Friday, Christmas and Halloween are severely commercialized… the list goes on. The meaning of these, the reminders they are meant to be of what matters and what we are supposed to do, is being buried and forgotten.

That seems to be a trend these days. The lessons of history are being lost, or rewritten. The past may never have been perfect, but it carried forth the values which helped previous generations make the world a better place around them. Now, those values are trampled under, and with them the virtues that encouraged people to act like human beings, to be upstanding individuals within their communities. Good and evil, and truth itself, are becoming fluid and unstable in the eyes of many, causing many to drown in the morass of the world, with no sure footing to stand on.

Because it’s easier to drift and to drown than it is to stand against the torrent.

Standing takes effort, as does the act of supporting others who also stand, to find sure footing, and whether endless buffetings.

It is easier to be selfish and lazy, to not remember, to use and cast people aside, to be carried along any and every little current, to judge quickly and never ask questions, never learn more, never think for oneself, to feel no love or connection with our fellow creatures.

It is far easier to forget ourselves and forget the world entirely, rather than to take the world onto one’s shoulders, which is what responsibility is.

It is sadly common for many people to do what is easier.

However, there are also many who make the hero’s choice, the harder choice: to remember, to take responsibility, and do what they know they should do.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #342: The Dawn is Promised

“The night is long
And the path is dark
Look to the sky
For one day soon
The dawn will come”
– from “The Dawn Will Come,” from Dragon Age: Inquisition

This is the refrain of a song that sings of having hope when things seem hopeless, having faith when it is easy to give in to despair, and standing with courage even when fear and terror are gripping at our hearts. It is the promise of day and night, the most natural, inevitable thing in the world:

Night will always end and dawn will always come.

Even the deepest, most terrible, and enduring darkness must pass.

Most people might think the lyrics about “one day soon” makes it quite obvious that dawn comes, but I grew up in Alaska, and I can promise you, dawn does not come every single day. You go far enough north or far enough south, far enough away from the central regions of the planet’s surface, and you will experience months of winter where the sun does not rise. However, on the flip side, you will also experience months of summer wherein the sun does not set.

There is something to learn from that. No night is eternal. Day and night, light and dark, good and evil… they have their time, their season, in every corner of the world, and sometimes they last quite a bit longer than usual. Still, even at their most fleeting, it can be very easy for us to think that whichever one we are going through right now is how things always were and how they will always be. We despair in our dark times, and we grow complacent in the light. But just as every golden age on Earth is doomed to end, so is every long night of agony.

I find myself lately much preoccupied with the darkness of the world, and how it is quite obviously on the rise in many ways. I most especially seem to be burning with a desire to roar at the darkness, as if the volume of my voice might make manifest my will and save all that is good and right and innocent from the evils of the world. But while my courage (such that I can claim) and love of goodness is… well, good, I am forced to admit, upon honest introspection, that there is more than a nugget of my own darkness in my would-be defiance. There is fear for my loved ones, sorrow for suffering and loss of liberty, and anger – no, worse, hatred – towards those who inflict such agony on their fellow man. In short, despite my faith, my zeal is fueled partially by my despair.

But when I hear the words of this song, and other such inspiring material, I ask myself: why do I despair? It reminds me: goodness has endured terrible ages of darkness, and light, also, is on the rise, as surely as is evil.

Ok, so the times ahead will not be easy. They will try us incredibly. So what? I am not a god, to try and keep the night from falling. I am a human, and I can trust in the promise of the dawn.

The night is dark, but I have the moon.
And if I even if I don’t, I have the stars.
And even if I don’t, I have a torch in hand.
And even if I don’t, I have the torches of my fellows.
And even if I don’t, I have the sun, which will rise again!

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Sunday’s Wisdom #341: Honoring the Fallen

“The world bemoans the lifeless hands
The dwarves who died to keep their lands
The valiant souls of Hammerdeep
Shall echo in eternal sleep.”
– from “The Song of Hammerdeep,” by Clamavi de Profundis

I really enjoy a good song. Who doesn’t? This one was written about dwarves in a fantasy world, talks about their strength and nobility and such, and how fiercely they will fight for their homes. This particular stanza, of course, is about the ones who die in battle, and are mourned, their loss felt, their sacrifice remembered.

It seems fitting to share these words when my country is remembering its fallen soldiers. Or, at least, taking an extra day off work in their honor. As with most holidays these days, most people forget what it’s about and just enjoy themselves instead.

In a way, there’s nothing really wrong with that. The men and women who died in service to our country probably did so for our freedom, so we could enjoy ourselves as human beings. They didn’t do it so other people would remember them. That is our own choice, the choice of the living to remember the dead and what they died for. So, it’s not a bad thing to enjoy the holiday. It’s just better, I think, to keep in mind what the day is really for.

There are a number of ways to honor the dead. Going to their graves, tending them, leaving flowers, saying a few words, those are all good. There’s also having a party, a feast, a day of relaxation and recreation, to enjoy the peace and freedom that they died to give us, complete with a toast to the fallen, and thanks given together. There’s quiet study and contemplation, remembering our history, honest conversations, and a personal pledge to support the principles these soldiers died for, and to support the country and soldiers which still defend us. There’s showing some respect, every day, for the flag, and for the surviving veterans.

And there’s simply saying… thank you.

Thank you, brave soldiers, countrymen of generations past and present, for everything you endured, and everything you gave, that we might be free.

I pray that your sacrifices may never be in vain.

May you rest in peace.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #340: The Meaning of Friendship

“Friends don’t let friends ride towards dragons alone.”
– Douglon, Siege of Shadows
The Keeper Chronicles
, by JA Andrews

Douglon is a dwarf and he is speaking quite literally in this instance. He made some unusual friends a few years prior, and it seems like every time he journeys with them, somehow, in some way, for some reason, they always get attacked by a dragon at least one time. One dragon, really, in particular. He hates it, and gives them grief over it, because he possesses a certain sane desire for self-preservation. And yet, no matter the risk to his own life, he is never going to let his friends go into such danger, or any danger, without him there to watch their backs.

Isn’t that just real friendship summed up in a nutshell?

“I think this is super dangerous and the odds of dying are incredibly high, but I am never going to leave you to face it alone. I may die, you may die, we all may die, but I will stand beside you, charge into danger beside you, and ride into death beside you, because you are my friend and I am your friend! FORWARD!”

(…I think I’ve watched one too many of those YouTube videos where they ham it up to get their points across…)

I can say, with gratitude and humility, that there are people who I count as such friends that they would go into danger with me, as I would go into danger with them. (mind you, we are smart enough to also look for ways to avoid that) But more to the point, they have already stood by me when the “dragon,” so to speak, was metaphorical.

Dragons are formidable and dangerous, but rarely are they physical. And physical dangers may certainly kill us, but it is usually the more personal, less physical dangers which can simply destroy us, and leave our souls more broken than any crippled body. We need our friends in such times, as surely as we would need them if we were facing down a literal dragon. It is when we can’t simply run, or hide, or even hit something to solve our problems that we most need help.

I have heard it said that everyone is fighting their own personal war in life. But with our friends on hand, we need not face that war alone. We can call on each other for strength, for guidance, for insight, for laughter in the face of despair, for a shoulder to cry on, even if we just need to say something aloud and talk our way through it. And friends, real friends, will build one another up instead of tear one another down, that they might face their wars with power and might. Mind you, when I say that, I am very much aware that sometimes, as friends, we do need to humble each other with hard doses of reality, but that is not the same as tearing someone down. No, that is simply addressing a weak spot, covering it, aka, watching each others’ backs.

Now, success is never a guarantee, and sometimes all a friend can do is pull their friend back and away from a certain dragon. Then again, sometimes one can ride towards the dragon but cannot truly face said dragon alongside one’s friend. And, of course, you will find fewer more zealous advocates than myself for avoiding dragons as much as is feasible. But these are simply details. The point remains: whatever the danger, the threat, the foe, the personal demon, the tribulation of life, whatever it is…

A friend does not let a friend fight their war alone.

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An Unexpected Revelation About What Makes the Male Lead Attractive

Lightning suddenly struck in my brain, sparking a connection made between reality and fiction. Without warning, I found an answer in a most unexpected place!

“…oh my gosh, THAT’S IT!” I exclaimed, “THAT’S what women find so attractive about them!”

Do I dramatize? Of course I do! 😉 But, in this case, not by much!

It is no secret that men and women alike will ogle, pant after, and fantasize about the people they see on the screen or read about in books. However, there has always been a certain amount of debate concerning what it is, exactly which makes those lead characters, and the people who portray them, so attractive to their target audience. I have wondered about that myself on many an occasion.

Then I came across this video, which is a reaction to this video, which is a response to this article.

To summarize, the article lists nine qualities that it suggests a woman look for in a man as indications that she should keep him and never let him go. The video which reacts to this article offers a very different list, pointing out that there is what women say they want – in an effort to make themselves look good – and then there’s what actually attracts them. Of course, the two lists are not mutually exclusive, but they certainly are very different.

It is the second list, and the first video I watched where a beautiful woman gave honest, thoughtful feedback and explained exactly why each quality on the second list was so attractive, which made me suddenly realize: if we take that second list and judge the male leads we see in books, movies, etc. by that criteria… then that explains a lot of exactly what makes certain male leads so attractive to the women!

…hey, I’m a story-geek, my brain runs that way. 😉

This is, of course, not a hard and fast rule that I am talking about, as women and men are much more complex than that. Women are attracted to different things, they want different things, they feel connections with different men and different male characters. But it is a theory, a general rule of thumb, and like any good theory, it can be tested!

Now, the first list, offered by the article, what it recommended a woman look for, is as follows, and I am, for present purposes, calling it the Beta List:
Smart
Makes You Laugh
Supports Your Career
Makes Effort With Friends and Family
Emotionally Intelligent
He Respects Your Opinions
Willing to Put the Work In
Celebrates Your Achievements
Shares Your Values

Most of those are fairly obvious in what they mean, though I had never heard the term “emotional intelligence” before. Between the article and this video, I figure it to mean, being aware of and able to talk about one’s feelings, to communicate them clearly, and be considerate about the feelings of others, especially one’s romantic partner.

The second list, the one offered of what makes a woman want a man to start with, is as follows, and I will call it the Alpha List:
Hot
Tall
Good in Bed
Wealthy
Preselected
Status
Body Confidence
Older
Independence

Again, most of those are pretty obvious. However, “Independence” refers here not just to being on one’s own, but to having one’s own goals and purpose, perhaps even some ambition, but something where they direct their own life forward towards something that they want to achieve in this life.

Also, I have never heard the term “Preselected” before, but it means having already been picked by another woman, particularly of some higher caliber, who deemed them to be worth their time. After all, if such a woman (or women) has already invested in him, then certainly that man must have something to offer. It’s that sort of thing. For present purposes, as we’re gauging the interest of people in the audience even more than in the story, we may need to bend the rules slightly. Not every male lead has a previous love, but they do have the female lead, which the audience sees, and that can become their preselection.

Oh, and “Older” does not have to be especially significant. They don’t have to be separated by decades or even by years. Just “older than the girl.”

So, we now have the two sets of criteria in the Alpha and Beta lists. Now let’s look at the famous crushes that females of all ages have had! 🙂

Now, as my brain stalled out after the first two or three male leads I came up with, I am indebted to some friends on a Facebook group I frequent for their assistance in drumming up several of the classic male leads with whom many a girl and woman has fallen in lust with. With the help of this wonderful little hive mind, I have compiled a list of several famous male leads from across cinema, television, literature, and real life.

Let’s see how they all measure up, eh? 😉

First and foremost, and because I have long since wanted to figure out what it was that made this one so freaking popular with the girls, I present: Edward Cullen of the Twilight franchise.

Let’s look at how he scores on the Beta List first.

Is Edward Cullen smart? Debatable.
Does he make Bella laugh? Hm, I don’t recall much of that, actually.
Does he support Bella’s career, or any equivalent thereof? Nope.
Makes effort with her friends and family? Heck no.
Emotionally intelligent? Not really, which is ironic for a mind-reader. He’s much more controlling than that.
Does he respect Bella’s opinions? See previous answer.
Willing to put the work in? Hah, no!
Does he celebrate Bella’s achievements? Well, she doesn’t really have any, does she?
Shares her values? Hm. Do they ever really go into what they value?

So Edward Cullen strikes out all nine times on the Beta List. But what about the Alpha List?

Hot: Check.
Tall: Check.
Good in Bed: Check (apparently).
Wealthy: Double check!
Preselected: Check. No previous lovers, but interested girls and he couples up with the female lead.
Status: Check, tentatively. He is a formidable member of the formidable Cullen family, which has a good deal of prestige, including diverse, powerful, international allies and ties, albeit strained ties, with the rulers of the vampire world. Not to mention they stand at the forefront of what could be a remarkable transformative movement among the vampire population. (have I mentioned how all of this potential was wasted by Stephanie Meyer?)
Body Confidence: I will say check.
Older: absolutely check. He’s a hundred and some change and gets a teenager to marry him.
Independence: …hmm, he doesn’t really have anything to live for outside his family, his wife, and eventually his daughter. I’ll say this one is unchecked.

So, scoring a zero on the Beta List, but an easy 8 out of 9 on the Alpha List. He is an outstanding proof of this theory, and I finally have an explanation as to why females of all ages go freaking gaga over him despite everything that’s wrong with him.

Much the same can be said of his romantic rival, Jacob Black. …no, wait, let me rescind that. Just at a glance, I’d say Jacob scores several points on the Beta List: he’s fairly smart (albeit in an average way), makes her laugh, respects her opinions, has some emotional intelligence, supports and celebrates her, is willing to put in the work, has a good relationship with her father… yeah, he does pretty well.

He also scores a few points on the Alpha List (appropriate for a wolf): hot, tall, status as a chief’s grandson and an alpha of his own pack, body confidence, all checked. Not older, though, and not so rich, though his family is well enough off. No idea how he is in bed, though, and he is not preselected, though an argument can be made that he is admired by girls in the story and in the audience. Oh, and he doesn’t have the “independence” either. He even “imprints” on Bella’s own daughter. So, not a bad showing, but not nearly as high as Edward.

And which one does Bella choose?

While we’re on the subject of vampires and werewolves, there are two especially famous vampires from the televised universe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, namely: Angel, as portrayed by David Boreanaz, and Spike, portrayed by James Marsters. They each score sporadically on the Beta List, with Spike, I would say, being smarter, funnier, and more emotionally intelligent, whilst Angel is more supportive, more respectful, makes more of an effort, etc. However, both of them absolutely crush the Alpha points, all of them, with the exception of being wealthy, though they seem to be well enough off to never be wanting for anything, most of the time.

In a similar vein, there’s Adam Hauptman from the Mercy Thompson series, and Charles Cornick from the Alpha and Omega series, both written by Patricia Briggs. And these two alpha-level werewolves… well, apparently, they are the perfect men! They check off every Alpha point, including wealth, and, as far as I can tell, they even check off every Beta point, too! Considering how many other male leads in similar literature seem to only check off the Alpha points and not the Beta points (like Edward Cullen), I find myself surprisingly appreciative of the men Briggs has created. 🙂

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. The pattern is emerging and, while it isn’t universal, it certainly seems to dominate.

Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files: most of the Beta points and all but one (wealthy) of the Alpha points, check!

The Winchesters and Castiel from Supernatural: generally score low on the Beta points, but check off the Alpha points. Heck, they might not really be wealthy, but they always have money, and they have access to resources which a number of rich men put together.

Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie): most of the Alpha Points – we don’t know about preselection, and given that he’s after a teenage girl, we shall be glad we don’t know anything about his skills in bed, but he can certainly dance and charm – and not many of the Beta points.

Han Solo and Indiana Jones: both score many Alpha points, but only a few Beta points (though Solo scores higher than Jones, I’d say).

Legolas and Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings movies: many Alpha points (they are definitely older and of status and wealth), though there’s not much to go by in judging their Beta points.

Batman and Superman both knock the Alpha points (except Superman not being too rich) out the park, though Superman has more of the Beta points than Batman. And which one do the girls like more, eh?

Lucifer Morningstar: all the Alpha points and, oddly, for being the Devil, checks off quite a few Beta points as well.

And the list just goes on and on, with Beta points being sporadic while Alpha points remain practically a constant.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt): all checks across almost all the Alpha boxes and several Beta boxes as well.

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman): yep.

Doctor Who (David Tenant): yep.

Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill): yep.

Rhett Butler (Clark Gable): yep.

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson: yep.

Ryan Reynolds: yep.

Liam Neeson: yep.

Keanu Reeves: yep.

Frank Sinatra: yep.

Bruce Willis: yep.

Sean Connery: …need I say more? 😉

“By all means, say more.”

With so many examples to choose from, I’d say this theory holds some pretty serious weight. Again, it’s not an absolute, but a general rule of thumb: if the male lead has the Alpha points, they are much more attractive to the ladies of the audience. They don’t need all of them, but a good majority of them will apparently draw a good deal of feminine attention.

So, the question then becomes… how can we use this? How can this piece of knowledge be applied, especially by those of us who want to become professional storytellers?

…well, obviously, when we create the male leads, if we want the girls to be attracted to them, the Alpha points make for a pretty good frame of reference. On the other hand, a lack of Alpha points could make the male lead more of an underdog, especially if part of their character is that they are overlooked by the girls in favor of boys who do have these attributes.

Or maybe one wants to actually explain why a girl likes a certain boy or a man. Yes, a revolutionary concept, I know. But toss in the Alpha points, and boom, instant attraction, something they can fixate on, and then add in other qualities, like intelligence, humor, and other Beta points or entirely different attributes.

Personally, I think the anime industry could do with taking some cues from this! I mean, how many harem leads do we have who are basically blank slates with no real personality? They certainly don’t strike many of the Alpha points, even when they (on rare occasion) somehow have all the Beta points in spades. They aren’t very interesting, but, then again, they aren’t actually the point of the harem show, are they? It’s the girls that are the emphasis there.

Not exactly Alphas, these boys.

In contrast, I notice that the reverse-harem boys tend to easily strike off the Alpha points, most commonly with their copious wealth and status, but they also tend to be driven in some way (independent), tall, handsome (hot), older than the girl, popular with all the girls (preselected), and confident (in their body and otherwise). The only thing lacking is a demonstrated quality in bed, which, all things considered, I think is better left to the imagination, more often than not. With all that established, the Beta points are merely a matter of character development, and, if I may be blunt, aren’t usually that much of a priority.

But, I digress, and I’ve gone on for quite awhile now.

What do y’all think? Think this could explain some things, and thus offer some guidance to future storytellers?

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So! Much! Pressure! The Peer Pressure Tag

Never Argue With a Fish.

Valid advice, I’d say, but it’s also the name of the blogger who tagged me with this back in February. Thanks! And sorry it’s taken so long to finish up! Life is… interesting, ya know?

Rules

-Link back to the creator, which is Random Thoughts of My Fandoms.

-Provide a link to the person who tagged you.

-Answer all questions honestly

-Come up with 5 questions of your own. (4 have to be about peer pressure; 1 can be   random and about whatever)

-Tag at least 10 people and provide links to their blogs. Please no “you!”

-Recommend at least 5 books or songs you see everywhere/are very popular that you’ve read or listened to.

-Use the hashtag #peerpressuretag for easier visibility

Well, I’m going to have to disappoint slightly. I don’t seem to have any good peer pressure questions in me, so there’s not much point in tagging anyone either. Apologies!

The Questions:

– What was the last thing someone tried to pressure you into watching/reading?

Let’s see… I believe, most recently, that was my nephew. He’s always saying, “You should read/play/do this thing that I like and which has my momentary attention because the thought of it just flitted to the surface of my mind right now.” Not in so many words, mind you, but he’s socially domineering that way, without a bit of subtlety. So, the latest thing he told me I should read is, I think, the works of the Percy Jackson universe.

– Did you watch/read it? If so how’d it turn out? New favourite or are you questioning that person’s personal taste?

Nope. Not yet, anyway. But I can assure you, we are way past merely questioning my nephew’s taste. 😉

– What was the last thing you tried to pressure someone into watching/reading?

I am trying to wean my mother away from Twilight, so I thought to use another paranormal romantic drama kind of thing. I got her Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs, for Christmas.

– Did they watch/read it? If so how’d it turn out? New favourite or are they now questioning your personal taste?

In her own words:
“I must admit I am kind of surprised how much I did like it. I had not expected that, as I am sure you well know. I like fantasy vampires, the kinds that sparkle in the sun ya know Didn’t much care for the kinds in this tale…kind of nasty and sneaky. But the werewolves grew on me and it was a unique concept of a coyote being the heroine. She did annoy me from time to time, but overall, she was an interesting character—flawed, yet loyal and willing to do what she could for her friends. Will I read another one? Not sure… maybe… but probably not un-encouraged by you know who. Still, it was kind of fun to give my beloved historical  ol’ Tudor England reading a rest and take a flight of fancy into pure imagination.”

So, I’d say it’s turning out well! 🙂

– When was the last time you listened to Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’? Marks out of 5?

I don’t remember when the last time I heard that song was. But I’d give it a 3, not great but not terrible either.

Recommendations

Asking for recommendations from a blogger whose entire blog is basically unending recommendations? Heh. 😉 My only hesitation is… I have no idea how “popular” something has to be in order to be “popular.” But, oh well! 🙂

As for books, I can highly recommend The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson. I am working my way through the latest installment, Rhythm of War, and thoroughly enjoying it. 🙂

There’s also The Monster Hunters, by Larry Correia, the next of which, Monster Hunter Bloodlines, is due to come out on August 3rd, 2021.

Wearing the Cape, by Marion G. Harmon. It’s difficult doing superheroes without the visual media of comics, shows, and movies and such, but this one does fairly well! I eagerly await Harmon’s continuation of it! 😀

Project: Nemesis, by Jeremy Robinson is a kaiju thriller, a giant-monster horror story that absolutely reinvigorates and redefines the genre, and, like superhero stories, is not easy to pull off without visuals.

Let’s see, that’s fantasy/sci-fi, urban fantasy, superheroes, even a kaiju thriller… perhaps a love story to finish things off? …do I know any popular love stories? Does The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renée Ahdieh count?

Oh, to end with a song…well, I’ve been seeing covers for The Wellerman popping up everywhere for months now. I personally prefer this version:

 

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Sunday’s Wisdom #339: The Cost of Wrath

“Grand ideas of peace evaporate very quickly in the face of a chance to make your enemy pay.”
– Killien, Pursuit of Shadows
The Keeper Chronicles
, by JA Andrews

This is one of those quotes which is given extra weight by the context surrounding it, but is also so simple and potent that is has power on its own, even without any context at all.

Killien is a man whose people are deeply flawed: extremely violent and aggressive, prideful and self-superior, engaging in the slavery of other peoples, including the theft of children from their homes and families, with a nonchalant assurance that there is nothing at all wrong with it. But for all the brutality, Killien’s father carried a hope for peace, for the uniting of all their splintered clans into one, and perhaps even an equal coexistence with their neighbors, in due time. But the man was betrayed and murdered, leaving his son to inherit his hopes and dreams, which have been repeatedly burnt to ash. Killien has always sought for peace and unity, but he learned that power is needed in order to resist their oppressors and deal with traitors, and he has always been angry at how his father was betrayed, and at what has been done to his own clan. So, when he, too, is betrayed, and his newborn son threatened, it unleashes his fury, to the result of much destruction.

In fairness to Killien, he was also being influenced by an outside force, another traitor who thought to take him entirely away from the path of peace onto one where they simply rain death on everyone around them. When he’s freed of that, and his mind is cleared, he is horrified, and he does not balk at the task of righting what he has done wrong, to try and salvage a chance for peace out of everything. However, that is simply a poetic way of looking at what our anger does to us.

Bit by bit, it festers and boils and grows until, one day, it finally has the chance the erupt. It burns our souls in fury, freezes what’s left in hatred, and drowns it in darkness and pain and blood and sorrow. That is the work of wrath whenever we let it have free rein over us.

Now, an argument can be made that some of what Killien does is perfectly justified. And one can always make an argument that since power is needed in order to bring the mighty to heel, then pursuing that power may seem to be worth any price. Peace can only be won through war, after all. Not to mention the further argument, that ever so human phrase that comes up every single time: “They deserve it.”

Perhaps.

Perhaps everyone we hate really does deserve everything we can possibly do to them and more. Perhaps our anger is always fully justified and perfect in its aim and never does any harm to any innocent. Perhaps the fury born of sorrow is always right, and our moral outrage is never, ever mistaken.

Or perhaps not.

Perhaps it’s not actually about what “they” apparently “deserve.” Perhaps it isn’t, and can’t be, and must never be, about what “they deserve.”

Mobs have destroyed cities out of anger, out of a mad desire to make someone pay for all the injustices of the world. Those cities were filled with innocent people, people for whom the mob is the injustice. Clearly, simply lashing out does nothing but shed more blood, and all because of the fear and anger which come from wanting something good but ultimately being helpless.

Everyone goes through life feeling helpless in some way. Even people who think they rule the world, and who we also think rule the world, cannot entirely escape being powerless. For some, it drives them to seek power, more and more of it, as a method of survival. For others, they have no idea how to go about that, and so they endure, day after day after day, feeling helpless to do anything as their world burns around them again and again and again… until one day, maybe, they finally get a chance, just one chance… to strike back. And from there, it becomes so easy to fall so quickly, to forget entirely that all we really wanted, in the beginning, was to live in peace.

There are times I scream at myself for being so helpless, for not knowing anything about how to go about becoming powerful enough to help my people and my country. And there are other times, quite often, where I am thankful that I have so little power, because with so much anger in my heart… I sometimes fear what I would do, and who I would hurt, if I simply had the chance.

Some people are slaves to their lusts, or gripped with envy, or victims to their own pride, but I fear my greatest sin, the one most difficult for me to let go of, would be wrath. And not much has actually happened to me, as of yet. I fear what I may become if ever my anger is truly unleashed, if I have the opportunity to make my “enemies,” such as they are, pay. How much blood would stain my soul? How much would my soul be twisted as I delighted in their pain and misery? Who would I become?

That’s why this quote speaks especially to me, because it speaks to something I have not yet faced, and yet in everything similar to facing it, I have not done so well.

As much as I long for peace, I hate my helplessness, and as much as I hate my helplessness, I fear to find out what I would do if I had power and chance to use it. Would I hold to my ideals, or sink into my hate?

I don’t know.

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The NEW Shortcut for Using Classic Editor in Creating Posts

Hello fellow WordPress bloggers!

So, a short while ago, I posted A Note For My Fellow WorPress Users. I gave a brief set of instructions to guide anyone who wanted to know in how to access the increasingly-elusive Classic Editor.

Then they changed things again. I suddenly found the setup changed again, such that I couldn’t get back to that wonderful Classic Editor without going through a pretty impressive routine of cyber-gymnastics that I discovered largely through accident and stubbornness.

Seriously, WordPress. You had something that worked quite well. Then you messed it up. STOP MESSING IT UP MORE.

As I went through this new rigamarole, however, I noticed something. The website address that I was being directed to first, in accessing WP Admin, was slightly different than the one I finally managed to end up at, where I could actually create my posts the way I freaking wanted.

The new site address goes like this:
https://wordpress.com/posts/%5Byourblogname%5D.com

The one I want goes like this:
https://%5Byourblogname%5D.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?post_type=post

A little experimentation and I have discovered that bookmarking the latter allows me quick and easy access to the Classic Editor! Yay!

Oh, and if you want to access your pages and such the same way, simply write “page” instead of “post” at the very end. I imagine that can work for a number of the other tools as well, but for now, I thought I’d just share this little shortcut.

It’s simple. It’s easy. It works!

Happy posting (with Classic Editor) everyone! 😀

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Sunday’s Wisdom #338: I Will Always Need My Mom

“I need her to make me some cocoa and tell me that everything that is going badly in my life will sort itself.”
– Kathleen Kelley, You’ve Got Mail

It’s been awhile, but I seem to recall that Kathleen says this when she’s at a point in her life when she is feeling the dread and pressure of the very real possibility that she might soon lose something truly important to her. When that happens, when the shop she inherited from her parents, the shop she practically grew up in, the shop she has dearly loved for as long as she has been able to love anything, and in which she still has her closest friends, when that shop closes down… well, it’s a devastating loss. As she puts it, it’s like a part of her has died, and her mother has died all over again.

Her mother was, as mothers should be, her hero, her role model and champion, her steadfast, immovable, unshakeable support. Kathleen remembers the good times in her book store, in the car after school when they would just talk, and all the times her mother gave her the comfort she needed to be strong. The world may not understand how something as simple as hot chocolate and reassurance (for instance) can be such a powerful influence, such a source of enduring strength, but there you have it.

It is often in the smallest, most everyday of gestures that we find our greatest comfort.

And who is there more consistently, to offer such support, than our beloved parents, especially our mothers?

I do say that knowing that not everyone has that most wonderful blessing. Some parents are atrocious. Some mothers are awful. And even when one is so blessed, sometimes the tragedy of loss strikes all too soon.

In that light, I want to just say how grateful I am that my mother is still here, and that she has always been awesome. She has always been supportive of her children, as long as we do not hurt either ourselves or those around us. She endured all the travails that come with motherhood, guided and taught us as best she could, and she spoiled us (especially me) so rotten that it has only been exceeded by how she spoils her grandchildren. 😉 Most of all, I have always known that she loves us.

I have always known I am loved.

What a truly wonderful gift!

Though I am a fully grown adult, working and supporting myself as best I can, there will always be some part of me that, every so often, for no reason or any reason at all, just needs my mom, with all of her comfort and love and support.

Thank you, God, for my mother.

Thank you, Mom, for being my mom. I love you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Captain Falcon and the NOT Winter Soldier Anymore

As human beings, we have a tendency to deify or demonize almost everything we see, including each other, and especially the people who stand out, like our heroes and villains. Now, there most certainly are such things as good and evil, but the truth is that people can be much more complicated in ways which are not readily obvious to a public eye. Everyone is, in their own way, wrestling with the darkness of the world around them and the darkness within themselves. Not everyone walks away from that as purely good or evil, purely villainous or purely heroic.

That is one of the more profound themes which is repeatedly explored in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

As Marvel’s second Disney Plus show, there are inevitable comparisons to be made with WandaVision, but, really, the two shows are so distinct from one another, much live the various film and television franchises within (or loosely connected to) the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that I don’t think there is much good that will come from such comparisons. Each show is its own thing, and we may be better served if we just leave it at that.

I am going to say, though, that this show had much more powerful episodes, and a great deal more character development.

Following the two titular characters after the events of Endgame, the show is largely about their personal journeys, both together and individually. In the Falcon’s case, that of Sam Wilson, we see how and why he decides to take up the mantle which Captain America left in his care. As for Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, he is still trying to move on from being the Winter Soldier, and the trauma of remembering all the harm he ever did. As the two of them are both “Cap’s best buddy,” there is a good deal of friction between them, but they also have a lot in common: they both loved their friend, they’re both trying to cope with everything, they’re both trying to do good, and they’re both angry when the shield of Captain America, which Sam donated in good faith to the Smithsonian in the hopes that the example of Steve Rogers would inspire people for generations to come, is immediately taken and given to some military stooge, someone the government believes they can control.

Said stooge comes in the form of a much-decorated soldier, John Walker. He is everything the government wants in a good soldier, which is precisely what would have disqualified him in the eyes of Dr. Erskine, the scientist who turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. He is loyal, capable, and highly skilled, but also aggressive, egotistical, unstable, short-sighted, and stubborn. He simply does not have the strength of character to bear the mantle of a legend. He proves himself lethally merciless in front of the entire world, but he is also a soldier just trying to do his job, and he even chooses to cast vengeance aside at one point, in favor of saving lives. In short, he is extremely dangerous, but it is while he is trying so hard to be a hero that he becomes villainous.

The found the perfect cocky, creepy smile.

Somewhat parallel to that is Karli Morgenthau, leader of an anarchist group called the Flag Smashers. She is the young idealist who falls, escalating from the thievery of things her people need to survive, to premeditated murder and bombings, to outright international terrorism. She had a good cause, namely the welfare of a legitimately displaced people, but she let the pressure of it all – her cause, her losses, her enemies in the shadows breathing down her neck – get to her, and went about it all wrong. Perhaps most tragic of all, she manages to box herself into a situation where her surest comfort is her confidence that she and her closest friends could all die and her cause would still continue.

That’s two people in this show who fight for hope but lose to despair. There are others who have simply given up on such entirely. There’s yet another Captain America, of sorts, who was treated most heinously by the very same government he was sworn to serve as a soldier, an trauma that left his angry and bitter. There’s Baron Zemo, the man who truly defeated the Avengers in Civil War, and he does not join the fight for any illusions of hope, but simply because it serves his own ideology to hunt the Flag Smashers into oblivion after they have taken super serum. And then there’s Sharon Carter, who once stood foremost in the fight against Hydra, in Captain America and the Winter Soldier, and was both a valuable support and a romantic interest in Civil War. Since then, she’s become jaded and nihilistic, and, as it turns out, a criminal overlord in a kingdom of thieves. She is quite arguably the worst of them all, the hero who becomes a villain that is wearing the mask of still being a hero.

So, following all of these characters, and more, all across the world and through the depths of their various souls is indeed a riveting experience. Marvel did that part quite well. Yet… well, there are certain pronounced imperfections, things that they tried and failed to do.

For instance: the fights.

They did a fair job with the last few fights, but the earlier fights were a bit lackluster. Even Sam’s first aerial mission as Falcon, as flashy as it was, felt like it dragged on a bit and displayed his limits even more keenly than his strengths. Outside that, however, was the first time Sam and Bucky (and Walker and his partner) fought the Flag Smashers. Sure, there were several of them, and they were juiced up on super serum, but Bucky, of all people, ought to have held his own best of all in that fight. I mean, he was a one-man army in his Winter Soldier debut, and he held his own again in Civil War, but now he’s easily overpowered by a pair of amateurs? Nah, not buying it.

“Did they actually power us *down* a bit for this show?”

For another: …uh, just how easy is it to break someone out of prison by smuggling them a key card in advance, walking through a prisoners’ area and dropping a note that starts a riot? Because that, along with anything else that just needed to happen to advance this particular plot, was always pulled off pretty dang easy. Like when the Flag Smashers easily defeat Sam, or Walker’s friend is easily killed, or a new suit with new wings is made.

Speaking of, small detail: having a vibranium shield and vibranium wings does not make Sam’s flesh vibranium. Taking a blow from Karli head-on ought to have seriously hurt him, even more because he stood and took it with the wings holding him in place. He ought to have been a Sam sandwich!

For another instance: the politics.

Disney and Marvel definitely live on the Left, but they still have to cater to the Right in order to sell their movies and shows and make money. As such, there is an irritating tendency for them to preach at their audience. That was, I will admit, more balanced in this show than one might have expected. I adore the part where Sam says, “We can’t ask people to step up without meeting them halfway,” but it is immediately preceded by making excuses for people who can be labeled as terrorists and thugs (not to mention “refugees”), so I wonder what “halfway” Disney would have in mind.

Don’t misunderstand, I appreciate shows which talk about the difficult subjects, and this one was far better than it might have been, but, still, it got a bit ridiculous at times.

And what was with Karli talking about being citizens of the planet? There are is no such thing as a planetary citizenship. There are national citizens, but not global ones. Or is there supposed to be some sort of New World Order at work here?

A final instance: the setup for the future. I mean, it’s pretty clear that things are just barely getting started for the Falcon, now the new Captain America, and the Winter Soldier, as well as for the villainy of Sharon Carter, and for the escapades of John Walker, the USAgent, under the auspices of a woman who, in Marvel lore, is Madame Hydra herself. So, will things continue in the form of a second season, or in the next movie?

We must wait and see, but the sense of this as a beginning rather overshadows how the ending feels… as an ending.

“We are just getting started, boys.”

What this show did best? The moments where the characters just talked about what was important to them. There’s something powerful in that, especially in how Sam’s character shined especially bright. That was his wheelhouse, after all, just talking to people, helping them. The reason Cap chose him to give the shield to? Because he is a good man, first and foremost.

That comes through, I just want to say, because the casting in virtually every role, major and minor alike, is absolutely brilliant! These are fantastic actors who have great material to work with and with fairly competent direction behind them. I mean, I just have to give a shout out to every member of the cast. They were fantastic.

So, is it a perfect show? Um, no, certainly not. But it’s pretty good, especially because of the characters.

Rating: 7 stars out of 10.

Grade: B-Minus.

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