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cartoon_goblin

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For the record... [Jan. 2nd, 2013|09:26 pm]
cartoon_goblin
There's something wonky with the WordPress plugin that automatically ports my blog posts over to LJ, so I disabled it. Which means I'm not really posting to LJ anymore. If you want to read the shite that comes out of my head (via my fingertips), you'll have to actually go to my blog to read it.
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Pretty Good Year [Dec. 31st, 2012|06:47 pm]
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I had a few blog posts I was working on, but everything seemed to be somewhat negative, and I don’t want to end one year and begin another on a sour note, so instead…


I’ll admit, 2012 was a pretty rough year for me, but there was a whole lot of good, too. I suspect 2013 will be more of the same, both difficult and lovely, but overall, I feel as if I’m getting my act together and moving forward in life. I have an abundance of wonderful people in my life, I have a job, I have a roof over my head, I have food in my belly, and I have a storm inside of me that promises to electrify my world. Life is pretty amazing and wondrous and mysterious. I like it that way.


I hope we all have a stupendous new year. There will be darkness, but I hope you never let it overwhelm the light. Let’s get out there, light our candles, and kick some major ass!




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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Joshmas XLIII [Dec. 24th, 2012|09:13 am]
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I woke up this morning to lots of wonderful birthday wishes from friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. I love being alive, I love living in the future, and I love you all. Thank you for making my life so rich and strange and delightful.


43




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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“I am Involved in Mankind” [Dec. 14th, 2012|03:23 pm]
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From John Donne’s Meditation XVII:


No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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Turkey on Wry, Hold the Karma [Dec. 10th, 2012|08:07 pm]
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Ellie Di‘s recent blog post about positive thinking and why it is often a load of banana oil reminded me about the thoughts that have been bouncing around my noggin recently on the subject of karma.


Regardless of the traditional concept of karma in Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions, I see it most often used today as a fairly basic, cosmic cause and effect thing. “Karma’s a bitch,” someone will say when they see someone who’s done bad things having bad things happen to them. Or someone will say, “I’m racking up good karma,” because they’ve helped someone in need. Why do bad things happen to bad people? Karma. Why do good things happen to good people? Karma.


Frankly, I think this is bullshit. The idea that the universe is, in one way or another, keeping tabs on our actions and putting them in a “naughty” or “nice” column is truly offensive to me. If something bad happens to me, it’s because I did something bad at some point and I deserve what is happening to me? The best reason to do good to others is to accumulate cosmic brownie points so that we’ll get rewarded in life? How horrible! I don’t help people to get any kind of reward, temporal or cosmic. I do it because I was raised to revere life and to help those in need solely because they’re in need. I do it because it makes me feel good to help people. And in general, I don’t see any way to get through life happily unless we help each other out, because none of us are alone, and trying to get through life alone is monumentally more difficult than trying to get through life together.


To quote the character of Marcus Cole in the TV series Babylon 5,


I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, “wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?” So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.


A universe where life is fair, where our actions bring us good or bad karma, where the good and bad things that happen to us happen because we deserve them is not a universe I would want to live in. I don’t want to live in a universe where my friend gets cancer because at some level they deserve it.


Now, I do believe that if you treat people poorly, you can’t really be surprised or upset if people treat you poorly in return. Our social contract tends to be “treat others the way you wish to be treated.” But even people I think are assholes and bastards (say, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, or Donald Trump) seem to have friends and people who love them. I know kind, loving people who have had difficult, troubled lives. If you look for evidence of people being punished for bad karma and rewarded for good karma, I think it’s easy to find it. But I think it’s just as easy to point of where this popular view of karma has had no bearing whatsoever on things.


And of course, karma isn’t exactly something you can prove. In the end, it’s about belief. You can believe in karma if you want to, but it’s not something I want to believe in (any more than I want to believe in a diety who cares about the gender of the people you fall in love with and/or have sex with). I prefer my universe to be a cold, impartial, unfeeling place where we love each other because it simply feels good.




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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The Dynamic Duo [Nov. 21st, 2012|11:55 am]
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Yesterday was my brother Jeremy’s birthday. Not all siblings get along well, and goodness knows, Jeremy and I have driven each other crazy and infuriated each other any number of times. We’ve teased each other, belittled each other, ignored each other, hit each other. And yet, through all of that, we’ve generally stuck by each other. We’ve both helped each other out financially, emotionally, and in many other ways. We can go for weeks without saying a word to each other, but when we get together, it’s difficult to to shut us up or get a word in between us. In many ways, he’s one of the best friends I’ve got.


He’s 23 months younger than me. I can’t really remember a time when he wasn’t in my life. We look very different–Jeremy got all of our parents’ dominant traits (dark hair, brown eyes) and I got the recessive ones (fair hair, blue/green eyes). I’m delicately pale, while his skin is naturally tan. But we were also around the same height when we were little kids, so people sometimes thought we were twins. (Now he’s a few inches taller than me, the cheeky bastard.) We’ve always been charismatic in very different ways. I was a shy kid, lost in my own dreams, but for some reason, other kids often wanted me around. Jeremy was the kid who always took charge of a situation, becoming the leader through sheer force of will, and nobody minded, because his first concern was always justice and fairness. I was terrified of confrontation, but could often get away with things with a smile and a charming innocence. Jeremy was blunt, direct, full of righteous indignation and completely unafraid to confront older children and adults if he thought someone was being treated unfairly. He often won people over with his honesty and integrity.


Our parents split when I was four and Jeremy was two. We moved a lot after that, living in five different places from pre-school to middle school. Wherever we moved to, he and I were generally the only friends each other had at first. He and I weren’t always interested in the same things, but we had enough similar interests–and were close enough in age–that we played together a lot growing up. In elementary school, our mother took us on long road trips, when Jeremy and I had no one but each other to play with. We would generally sit in the back of the car, making tape recordings of weird “radio shows” we made up. In middle school, we both started playing guitar and writing horrible songs together. There were only two years between kindergarten and my high school graduation that we didn’t live with each other, and those were the two most difficult years of my pre-college life.


Happy Birthday, Jeremy! I’ve very thankful to have you as my brother and my friend.




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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Dream a Little Dream With Me [Nov. 13th, 2012|04:23 pm]
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I’ve been happily playing board games, in one form or another, since I was a little kid. Watching TableTop has reminded me just how much fun it can be to play a well-designed board game (or card game) with a group of friends. But as much fun as I have playing board games or card games–or video games, for that matter–nothing comes close to the experience of playing tabletop role-playing games.


I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons in 1980 by my friend Luke Johnson. We were in fourth grade. I played a dwarf fighter who died from a magical trap. It was like getting hit by an amazing drug. I was instantly hooked. Soon after, a high school kid who went to my dad’s church ran me through an adventure, then decided he was giving up RPGs and gave me all of his game books, which was very much like a heroin addict saying, “Hey, I’ve decided to quit cold turkey. Want all of my leftover smack?” In middle school, I bought and played D&D, Gamma World, RuneQuest, Traveller, Boot Hill, Top Secret, Champions, Villains & Vigilantes, Tunnels & Trolls…and it just went on from there, into high school and college and beyond, up to today.


What is it about RPGs that I love so much? Why is it that no matter how much fun I have playing other games, nothing gives me the satisfaction that RPGs have?


It’s because I’ve really been playing them all my life, long before I ever knew about Dungeons & Dragons. During recess in elementary school, I would lead my friends in games of “superheroes,” where we made up our own superheroes and pretended to save the world from supervillains and natural catastrophes. In pre-school, my friends and I used to pretend to be the Six Million Dollar Man, the Bionic Woman, and other TV show characters, making up our own stories and play acting as our heroes.


Role-playing games are about getting together with your friends and playing Let’s Pretend. There may be some game tactics involved, there may be elements of competition, but it all boils down to playing Let’s Pretend. Imaginary characters in an imaginary situation, and from this comes collaborative stories and experiences. It’s really nerdy improv. It’s fiction writing for extroverts with ADD. It’s collective dreaming.


Sadly, it’s not as easy to get my friends together to play regularly these days. We’re not in grade school or college these days. We’re adults with full-time jobs and family responsibilities that take up a lot of our time. It’s been months since the last time I played an RPG. Getting together once in a while to play a board game or card game is logistically much easier. But that just wouldn’t be as satisfying to me, so I keep trying to get a game going or get in on some friend’s game. Because it’s not just about getting together with friends, it’s not just about having fun playing a game, it’s not just about rolling dice or calculating your chances of hitting an orc with a sword, it’s about dreaming out loud with fellow dreamers.


That’s a special kind of magic.




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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Nights at the Circus [Nov. 8th, 2012|09:32 pm]
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Have you ever gotten drunk from a story? You read a book or watched a movie or listened to someone tell you a tale, and it poured itself into you until you got giddy and wanted to laugh and cry out of the sheer joy the story gave you?


I finished the audiobook of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern this evening. I’m still drunk from the story. I might be hungover tomorrow (although I’m still reading the paperback because, yes, I decided to start rereading it before I’d even finished it), but tonight, I’m enjoying this drunken state.


I love The Night Circus so very, very much. I’m head over heels in love with it. It’s one of the greatest novels I’ve ever read. There are a lot of novels I love, but The Night Circus joins the select group of books (along with Something Wicked This Way Comes, Winter’s Tale, and The Manual of Detection) that make me deliriously happy (and yet sad when they end, because I don’t want the story to be over, I don’t want the characters to leave me) because they seem to have been pulled straight out of my dreams.


The Night Circus touches on so many things that are near and dear to me: love, sacrifice, time, games, magic (both real and stage illusions), dreams and imagination, mystery and wonder, the interplay between performer and audience, the nature of stories…all wrapped up in a delightful, enchanting circus that transcends time and space (it might even transcend the covers of the book). The characters are endearing, the prose is delicious, and it even has multi-layered references to my favorite Shakespeare play, The Tempest. As I went through the last chapter, tears of joy and sorrow rolled down my cheeks. The Night Circus is something very, very special indeed.


For my last trick, I’m going to disappear into visions of paper birds and magical clocks and baroque cauldrons of snow-white fire. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and this dream will never end.




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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The Work Continues [Nov. 7th, 2012|10:34 am]
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No big surprise, but I’m very pleased with how the election turned out. Not only was Barack Obama elected for a second term, but the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, a number of women senators were elected or re-elected (including Elizabeth Warren, who I think is dynamite, and Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay female Senator), marriage rights were extended to same-sex couples in three more states, and an amendment opposing same-sex marriage was voted down in Minnesota. I don’t know what the next four years will bring, but I would like to see this election as a general repudiation of the reactionary politics of the far-right Tea Party and a sign that the U.S. is moving forward, socially and economically. The future is multiracial, multicultural, and multi-faith. I don’t see how the GOP can continue if it keeps itself the party of caucasian, socially conservative Christians.


More importantly, I don’t want to see the GOP continue forward as an obstructionist party, refusing to negotiate or give ground, working more to make the Democrats fail than to make the country as a whole succeed. I’m a democratic republican, and for a democratic republic to work, people have to work together. It’s not always going to be smooth and easy, but that’s the way it goes.


And it’s not just elected officials. Everyone on the right, the left, and in the middle has to work at this. In his victory speech last night, President Obama said,


The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.


It’s not just America. Any democratic republic is messy and complicated. It requires constant work. It requires you to think about and talk about politics all the time, not just every election cycle. It requires compromise, negotiation, diplomacy, argument, debate, participation, and activism. If you want to live in a democratic republic, you have to be involved. If that seems too difficult, if politics is something you don’t want to be a part of, if you’re not willing to put the work in, life in a democratic republic may not be right for you. If you want to sit back and let other people make decisions for you, go live in a monarchy, a dictatorship, a theocracy. In a democratic republic, you have to get your hands dirty and you have to deal with people you may not like. You have to be willing to give as much as you get, to not always get your way, but to speak up and make your voice heard.


Let’s get back to work, people!




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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Share With Me [Nov. 3rd, 2012|11:55 am]
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What’s exciting you right now? What books, comics, games, movies, TV series, music, plays, art movements, people, places, things are thrilling and delighting you these days? If you’re excited about stuff, please share it with me (and others) in the comments. Let us all know what you’ve been reading, watching, playing, experiencing that is getting you all excited.


Here, I’ll go first. I’m currently reading (and listening to the audiobook of) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I am madly in love with this book, savoring every word and sentence and paragraph. I’m also reading DC Comics’ Earth 2 and really enjoying the hell out of it. The current season of Castle is, I think, the best yet, and the new season of Grimm is really building into a great show. Also, the new crowdfunded album by Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, Theatre is Evil, is so good, I started crying tears of joy the first time I listened to it.


Now it’s your turn. Share your excitement with me!




Originally published at goblin cartoons
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