The Wizards’ Plan


The Wizard’s Plan

By

L.P. Stribling

The-Wizard-S

They’re the ones to blame,
Singing in silent voices, making the world rain,
They parade in the daytime, take flight at night,
They watch us when we sleep, and sleep not themselves.

Violet robes, long noses, wild hats, peaking above us all,
They carry staves, of course, what wizard would be
without one? And they read, you see? Read, read, endlessly.
Spells, or songs (although those are mostly for the bards),
Incantations, curses, and give no care,
Unaware, perhaps, of right and wrong.

Yet we’re the ones who suffer, aren’t we?
We bare the brunt of their frivolity, their unbidden wizardry.
They are the voices in our heads,
The man in the moon,
The mischief under our beds,
And the men behind the Rune Witches.

I can provide one reason upon another,
Hoping that you’ll understand,
But you’ll never look past my own responsibility,
When I know the truth,
It’s all a part of the Wizards’ plan.

Thoughts of a Beginning


We came upon the temple early in our expeditions. We were a relatively new band of travelers, yet fate had assembled us both with the tools of wanderlust and bloodlust. Not necessarily two words I would have fashioned together artfully, but my reasons for joining the band were simpler than that, and they were my own.

I had left the Mountain earlier than most of my tribe, but I had received permission from Master Grunsi – I alone, one of only a handful in the past ten years. My thanks to him, even now, years after his passing, are still inexpressible, and doubtless just as so in any form of human tongue.

“Charin,” he said, I remember vividly, sitting on the high seat of the Old Oak, his hands together at the tips, and his eyes closed lightly, pensive, but not sleeping. “The world beyond these boarders does not favor the female.” And upon opening his eyes, he said these words to me, the last I remember from his lips, “let not their judgments mask your good sense, even less, your will to be everything your heart calls you to be. You are in this world,” he said. “But not of it. Make what living you must to exist here, but follow always only the road of your innerness.”

The next morning before the sun’s light, I walked out; I descended the Mountain, leaving my tribe and the routine of my life of the previous 20 years.

I drifted among towns, the names of which are all now to me a blur. I made what living I could, practicing my Forms in the bits of the morning where most humans were still dreaming. I stayed low, just as I was taught, allowing those of this place to see me as a servant, an animal, a filth worker, even at times (their thoughts were clear) a whore. I did chores, menial, often sub-human, making what this new world (they called themselves ‘civilized’) called coin. They would pay for anything, even the most simple of duties. I raked hay, cleaned stables, collected eggs and firewood. I even spoke to the blind, told them stories, allowed them to listen to my voice. I collected several coppers each time, giving them only my company, an ear for their voices, a voice for them to hear as well – allowing them to still feel that they weren’t altogether ignored. That they were still acknowledged, part of the village and the people there.

In the morning, under the stars, my Forms were flawless, strong. I was faster than they knew. And I was just as much a part of the quiet that bolstered their sleep as was the silent air around their pillows. When they woke, I was there, dirt-covered, homely, not worthy of rivaling their own self-defined status.

But Wanderers are not made to keep to one town, one group of people, one view of the same. This was something I felt, and a feeling that, although a part of my innerness, with which I was ineffably intimate. I moved when I was called. Left. My belongings were scarce, but far more than sufficient.

Then came the one town where I found a stream of adventure to quench (at least dull) the cravings of my Wandering vessel’s soul.

It began in a small tavern of uninteresting description. It was a regular day, but an irregular late night.

There was a brawl beginning far after midnight. To an outsider, this was perhaps a shocking occurrence. But I had, at the time, been working there for more than several months, toiling behind the bar top, washing unwanted food and spit from used platters and food tools, and the brawl to those of us there, was quite commonplace.

Patrons in the common space were few, which, the barman was pleased reduced the number of lost platters and less clean up.

The initiators were a small group of drunk heroes who had drawn their swords and, for reasons still unknown to me, began swinging wildly.

Without noticing a man in the back suffered a large slash down his back and across his arm at the shoulder.

When he yelled, I jumped from my duties into the center room, grabbing free-standing mugs as I went. The mugs went first with one throw, each tagging the men above the neck with a string of cracks. My flurry of blows was invisible, but heavy in damage.

I recall the breaking of two jaws and more than ten ribs. The men were soft piles of unthreatening whimpers as I went over to the patron of the tavern. I went to check on his status. He had been slashed wholly on the back, but made no mention of it when inquired.

Yet, he offered more than his thanks. He had no name to go with his red eyes – they glowed in an odd inhuman way. He left that night with few words to me other than his brief gratitude. I returned to my chores, ignoring as best I could the surprise and incessant questions from the barman. “Lucky,” I said. “Just luck.”

The man, however, the red-eyed man, found me again the next morning, shortly after sunrise. Four others were with him. F’nor, Wen, and a short woman among them, greeted me as I was already one of them. There was one who spoke very little, another woman. Maynith. She had powers. Inhuman powers. Psionic, they called them. They recruited me into their travellings, persuading me (with relative ease) of the boons of this life. It was for their own benefit, but many would do well during the course of which. We would help others, as well as ourselves. Coin, prize, and the unknown.

I left with them then.

A temple of bandits was our first encounter.

I write this here deep into the long road I have traveled in the shadow of this choice. I have witnessed the death of several of those from this, my original company of friends. I have gained coin and my team glory. We have encountered feral oddities beyond words. And here, and now, I know not whether I’ll be able to see again the quiet stars of an early morning where the ‘civilized’ knew nothing of my origin, my quiet Forms, and my heart’s desire to roam. I have chosen to follow my way as a Wanderer – to face risk of death if it would allow me to see other lands, other people, and breath the air of other sides of this world.

I have made my choices, and I suffer no regrets. Not even if this be my final entry in the script of man.

A Farewell to Saturday Morning Cartoons


bravestarr

So, I’m just now finding out about this, and I’m thoroughly distraught. Distraught!

Did any of you know about this?

No more Saturday Morning Cartoons?! I’m finding it difficult to process this at the moment, and I thought I’d get some thoughts down and have a discussion (even if that means me being the only one talking – a uniscussion?) with you (those of you out there reading this) to see if I could put this in some box in my life.

Growing up, Saturday Morning Cartoons were my weekend meal before I really put anything substantial, anything real, into my tummy. I would oftentimes eat some shitty sugar-loaded cereal to add to the comfort of watching the shows that filled the imagination of my youth.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and it was the Golden Era of cartoons. It was when all things in the animated world were good and right, and everything on the outside seemed to function just fine on its own.  What happened? Well, in as much as I don’t want to say it, the truth was there probably simply weren’t enough ratings anymore – not enough to justify keeping everything on the air, at least.

The kid in me wants to pull back time, wants it all to stop. At least it wants to ask, ‘why?’ And the easy answer, as sad as it seems to that voice inside me, is simply because the world has moved on from Saturday Morning. There are just too many other things to do, too many distractions. We just don’t have the desire or the patience to sit and watch the same thing, the same channel, the same kind of stuff for several hours in the morning on one of our free days. We’d rather just do other stuff: go on Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, play video games, get on our cell phones, etc.

I’m not saying SMC weren’t distractions. They were. But they were entertainment as well. But I guess it’s because it was controlled entertainment. You knew when it started, and you knew when it stopped. You were able to get your fill and go about your day.

That’s all changed now.

Now it’s endless. We bounce from screen to screen. Cell phone, computer, television, cell phone, iPod/iPad/e-reader/Kindle, cell phone, repeat until sleep. We’ve transitioned between controlling the time we spend in front of the screen to now being controlled by the screen. We like to say that we can stop, but I would venture to guess we’re not being as honest with ourselves as we can be.

Saturday Morning Cartoons were one of my childhood’s fondest joys. And there were some beauties in those hours. I am tempted to go for a quick search on Google to see which cartoons were those that caught my attention and heart during those formative years of mine. But, I’d like to simply see how many I can remember here as I write this.

There was:

Gobots

Transformers

G.I. Joe

My Little Pony

Smurfs (I always wondered how Smurfette serviced all those other Smurfs…she was the only girl)

Thundercats

Silverhawks

Tigersharks (all those three were basically the same cartoon)

Darkwing Duck

Ducktales

Looney-Toons (a classic)

He-Man

She-Ra

Garfield

Heathcliff

Inspector Gadget

Care Bears

(Now I’m asking Kerrie)

Tom & Jerry

Bravestarr

Snorks

Muppet Babies

Strawberry Shortcake

That’s what I got at the moment. Can you think of any others?

The point is they’re gone. I got away from them a long time ago. I don’t recall the last time I was in the living room early in the morning on a Saturday with a bowl of sugar cereal and a remote control; it’s been a while. I’ve often had the thought run through my head, “I should really get up early one Saturday and watch a session of Saturday-Morning Cartoons.” It was actually just recently that I had the thought again; I was convinced that one of these days I was going to do it.

Then, as I was leaving work today, one of my colleagues gave me the bad news. The kid in me wanted to throw up. This was a very bad piece of news.

If you clicked on the link above, you’ll see that the author described this closing as the end of an era. I agree. Everything moves in and out of cycles. This is just another one of those things that has come full circle, I guess.

I don’t know if this is something I’ve finished processing at the moment. There’s no getting around it for the moment; I’m still bummed. Maybe it’s sort of a huge slap in the face telling me that I have to accept growing up, or that I have to accept being in my 30s with responsibilities and duties, and chores. Maybe it’s telling me to stop looking in the past.

But, sorry, that’s not going to happen. I can be in my thirties and still be a kid. Now I think it’s about me convincing the kid in me that it’s okay, that there will be other beauties to hold on to; Macaroni and Cheese, maybe, or fantasy novels, and video games.

No, my childhood’s not dead; but it’s not the same. That’s for sure.

Anyone else broken up about this?

Murder-cast


serial-social-logo

There’s this serial podcast that we’ve started listening to. The name is original enough – Serial. It’s good. It’s about a murder case told over the course of maybe eight or nine messages. This is the first one. I’m not sure if there will be more or not, but I hope so. It was a recommendation of a friend, and it’s something we’re grateful to have. Thanks, Grimey.

As of this writing, we just finished Episode 7. Pretty entertaining. My friend asked me today what kind of serial podcast it was, seeming to think it was something similar to those which were broadcasted all over the nation in the 1940s and 50s. No, it’s nothing like that. This is delivered in documentary fashion, that is, taking a real case from the 1990s and cracking it open again – going back over it, first as a favor, and later as a full-time job.

If it’s not something you think you’d be interested in, but you still want to keep reading what I have to write about here, then please look away for ONE PARAGRAPH so I can give the others a nice little intro. ** I’ll try not to give anything huge away, but I will be giving some background and just some insight into the case and how the case is portrayed here.

The reporter here, whose name is Sarah….something, begins work on the case as a favor to a friend. It develops into something a bit more and then, by the time you reach Episode 3 or 4, I’m going to guess you’re really into it. It goes over a murder case which happened in Maryland in 1999. The victim was a high school girl named Hae Lee (I believe), and the convicted was her then boyfriend – a guy named Adnan Sayed (again, spelling is something I’m not going to worry heavily about here – yes, I realize can just go to the Internet and look up the information, but I’m not going to do that because I’m not feeling particularly excited about doing something like that). ANYWAY. The deal is that after school on February 13th, 1999, this girl, Hae, was murdered. She was found in a local park, several miles from the high school. There is a handful of suspects, but after a long trial and lack of evidence to point to the other side of things, Adnan is convicted and given a life sentence at, I think, the Maryland Correctional Facility. Now, this reporter has spent more than a few hours to try and see, if she can, what really happened that day, and if Adnan really did it, or, if not, who the real killer was. The thing is that nothing’s really going well for Adnan. Some days we think that he was totally the one who did it, and other days we’re just not sure. There’s something going on with his friend (who wasn’t really a friend, but more like an acquaintance), Jay, but neither of us know what that is.

I’ve never really put a lot of thought into the idea of murder. Not that I’ve

The big fat POINT is that it’s a podcast that’s interesting and one that I think you all would enjoy.

Not that I’m saying it gives you any insight into the mind of a psychopath, but it’s interesting all the same. I think it helps me look a bit more at how murder cases work, how interesting the clues can be and how the unlikeliest of things can really turn out to be something pretty interesting.

Okay, so really that’s all I have for you. Go out to your favorite web browser and type in the words ‘serial podcast,’ and click in the first link. You’ll realize that all you had to do was type in serialpodcast.com and you would have been home free.

Enjoy the episodes. It’s not like your life isn’t already full of distractions. But, at least this one’s educational.

Off you go, then. Go learn about murder.

MNC


mandc

I just ate two boxes of Macaroni and Cheese. Can you believe that nastiness?

I’m not proud of it.

That’s actually bullsh*t. I’m totally proud of it.

Every single one of those sickle-cell noodles wiggled their way down my gullet until it reached a giddy tummy pool I called (and still call) the Oasis.

Mac N’ Cheese – a favorite of the majority of suave bald men since the 1920s. By ‘suave bald men,’ I mean me. And by ‘since the 1920s,’ I mean since high school, my high school. I used to come home from school, dump two boxes of the Kraft goodness into some boiling water and wait 10 minutes or so, then BOOM – cheesy foodgasm explosion. Who knows how long it lasted. Blacking out wasn’t uncommon at all. In fact, I don’t remember most of my sessions with the processed orange ambrosia.

All I know is that, then and now, it is the stuff of dreams.

I was never a fan of calling it Mac N Cheese, either. I understand how hoi polloi (yes, I’m using it) come to reach that term. I mean, I get how the epithet works, but I’m linguistically a traditionalist and, therefore am not a fan of allowing things to change in the language. I know, I know. It’s not my call. Yes, but it sort of is. I mean, I take care of my speech (for the most part). Sorry, let’s stick to the topic. My fault.

Noodles and cheese – who was it that thought of this gastronomic thing of glory? I’m baffled at how stupidly sapid this dish is.

You hear the stories of where the noodle came from and how it was invented, and how people used it during the Ottoman Empire for sexual rituals, and all that, but you never hear of how truly amazing this thing is. It’s basically bread. Bread! It’s just stretched out really long, and then rolled, dried, and voilà!

I have been a vegetarian for the past more than six months and I can tell you that the noodle is quite the sating foodstuff. It’s small, yet manifold, and is exceedingly enjoyable to insert into the mouth and masticate…fully. Mac N Cheese, although it may be American, like white people, it doesn’t have its origins here. The full history of the noodle (and many will be surprised by this), goes back to my quasi-motherland, China around 200 BC. They were masters at noodle construction and production long before any of the whities got their hands on it. It took some time, of course; and, let’s face it, they had some time (dynasties of time). But, before the world knew it, there were noodles being produced here and there and everywhere and no one was thinking twice about it. Most people think that the noodle came from Italy, but nope; Marco Polo was presented with some of the long wheat-based goodnicks during some of his explorations of the Far East. Then, he took the delights back home and one thing led to another and babies were made….then she probably woke up the next morning and put on a pot of boiling water.

Noodles are omnipresent (ubiquitous gets used so much, omnipresent is really another great word which carries the same meaning) across the globe and it’s no wonder we love them. Go to any Chinese restaurant, Italian restaurant, Spanish, German, Russian restaurant, and they all have some sort of noodle dish.

All over Asia this wonderful meal has satisfied for generations and continues to do so.

We recently had a chance to do a bit of globetrotting, and stopped in several spots in China and Taiwan to see some sights. It was noodles galore! It was like listening to Bubba Gump talk about shrimp. There were noodles with and without mean, noodles in broth, baked noodles, fried noodles, big, fat, short, long, wheat, rice, and egg noodles. It was overwhelming…in the most excellent way! Every city, every restaurant, everywhere we went did it differently. It didn’t matter where we went, there were noodles, and we were never left dissatisfied.

There’s something magical about the noodle, and I’m not just talking about Macaroni and Cheese (Americans give their own name to it, following suit with all other countries). It’s inexpensive. It’s tasty, and it’s filling. Oh, and it is always there. There’s always some sort of dish you can get if you’re craving noodles. The cheapest of course are those Cup-a-Noodle Styrofoam cups. You know the ones; you could buy 80 of them for like $8 in college. Oh yeah, those were (and still are) the tasty ones.

All I’m saying is I love the noodle. Yes, I adore Macaroni and Cheese; and feel that it will somehow always remain a part of my identity (Is that weird? Maybe I misworded that.) But just the noodle in general is a gorgeous, wondrous, sensational food.

The gods shine upon you, Noodle. You too, Mac, but mostly Noodle. You are praised by our kind and loved near and far.

Join me in some Mac N Cheese love tonight. Not real love, but in sort of a solidarity sense…and actually it’s too late now that I write this (10:59 p.m.). But, you know, some symbolic love – love of Macaroni and Cheese, or just noodles in general.

You, Noodle…you’ve made us, in an almost infinitesimal sense, who we are..and, Noodle…we salute you.