Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Bogeyman… (Song of the Week, Halloween 2012)

I love Halloween.

Reflecting that, our song of the week is  “Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Bogeyman” from 1932, by Henry Hall’s Orchestra with vocals by Val Rosing. Enjoy.

Childish Things

Hearing this week’s song of the week today brought to mind a discussion I had with another writer on Facebook a few weeks ago. The release of World of Warcraft‘s latest expansion was nigh and, as many of you know, it was introducing the pandaren as a playable race. The pandaren are basically kung-fu pandas, mystical shaolin-style monks, and their homeland is based heavily in eastern cultural tropes. (They also predate the Kung-Fu Panda movies by several years).

Now, I haven’t played WoW in many years, but my son still does occasionally, and I’d watched him play some of this content during its beta testing. It was fun stuff. the pandaren had a lot of charm and character, their abilities were clever and different than the stock WoW fare, and the world-building for their lands was gorgeous and epic in its scope.

Anyway, this writer snorted derisively at any grown-ups out there who were actually looking forward to playing panda warriors. Why? Because pandas are cute, naturally, and only children could conceivably want to play such cute creatures. I challenged him on it, because not only do I see the pandaren as neither more nor less intrinsically ridiculous than elves, dwarves, gnomes, or any of the other fantasy races you can play in WoW and similar games, but I think a fantasist attacking other people’s fantasies rather unbecoming. This writer makes his living writing face-to-face roleplaying games in which the players pretend to be monsters (as indeed I used to when I was a writer for White Wolf Games). Quite a few people would consider that sort of thing childish.

I wrote:

I just have an innate negative reaction to arguments that denigrate the tastes of others in ways like calling them “childish,” when as far as I’m concerned pretending to be a kung-fu panda is no more ridiculous or childish than pretending to be a stalwart shaman cow. Or a magical mystical mummy, for that matter.

He wrote:

I *completely* accept that the pandaren might be considered cool by players of a given age range, those of commensurately immature taste, and those who engage them as part of spending time with their kids, and I hope you’re right that those folks enjoy playing the hell out of it. But it’s not for me, play-wise, nor for the adults with whom I game on the regular…Pretending to be a bouncing anime panda-person may not be more ridiculous than pretending to be a shambling mummy, but it *is* more childish, and there’s just no way around that.

Note the pointless zealotry, the refusal to accept that any mature adult might be able to enjoy playing these fantasy creatures, while playing other fantasy creatures is presumably quite adult. Pandaren might be enjoyed by players “of a given age range” or “commensurately immature taste” or those playing alongside their children. He couldn’t just take a reasonable step back and think, “Maybe an adult might enjoy this simply because it’s fun and they get a kick out of it.” He had to insist that an adult who liked this sort of thing was not the proper sort of adult at all.

I replied:

To personalize it, I think the pandaren are cool, and were I still playing WoW I’d be looking forward to playing one. To therefore say that only people of a certain age range or “commensurately immature taste” can find them cool is insulting. I seriously doubt my tastes are any less mature than yours, and in fact the tendency to argue the “maturity” of such things seems to me an immature one.

As C.S. Lewis put it, “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

But, to be agreeable, I’ll cede your point that making believe you’re a scary monster is much more grown up than making believe that you’re a panda-esque warrior. Because what the hell.

Don’t try too hard to be a grown-up, folks. It’s something that happens naturally in its course, and it has nothing to do with whether you can still have fun or not.

Here’s James McMurty with our song of the week…

The Spider Is Dead! Long Live The Spider!

For the past few years, I’ve subscribed to Girasol Collectables’ “Spider Pulp Doubles” series reprinting the classic adventures of one of pulp’s greatest heroes, The Spider. Four times a  year, I’d receive a nicely produced magazine-sized trade paperback containing two of these apocalyptic wonders which were originally published back in the thirties, and I’ve enjoyed reading them and watching my shelves sag with my growing pulp collection.

The latest, pictured above, arrived today, but with it came a dire note: Continue reading

Tim Gets Ready To Fix America… [Updated]

As we enter the final lap of the presidential race, my mind is even more on matters political than usual.

That’s saying something, because I think about politics year round, every year. It’s not that I enjoy politics, because I really don’t. It’s just that they’re important, especially when we have only two parties, with power fairly evenly split between them, and one of those parties is on a fairly constant warpath to ruin everything we’ve accomplished in the past couple of centuries. That party, if you are dense, corrupt, and/or uninformed, is the Republican party.

On the other hand, the Republican party has almost simplified the job of being an informed citizen in America. Once upon a time,  issues had to be parsed carefully, and details debated, and the calculus of conscience exercised.  But in the past couple of decades, the GOP has arguably made that sort of effort pointless. Now, you can plot a pretty accurate course by just looking at a candidate or an issue and asking “Are the Republicans for him/her/it?” If the answer is “Yes,” odds are you need to be against him/her/it. Unless, of course, you’re filthy rich and don’t care what happens to other people, or you’re a religious nut who cares way too much what other people are doing and thinking.

This isn’t to say the Democrats are anything near what they should be, but if voting for a Democrat is like inviting a friend into your house who doesn’t like your dog, voting for a Republican is like inviting a crazy hobo with a machete in who promises to kill it and steal all your stuff.

If you argue that both parties are the same, you’re either what they call a low-information voter, too lazy or apathetic to actually pay attention to anything beyond the most superficial available information (Romney was more talkative than Obama in that debate, that must mean he’s a better candidate!), or you’re so naive and/or cynical that you’ve removed yourself to the wilderness of inaction or protest voting. When I see someone cockily post that, in their most wise opinion, it won’t matter who wins, I’m not impressed by their lack of awareness or their world-weary individualism; it’s kind of like watching someone try to eat soup with their fingers.

There is no perfect candidate. There are astronomically different levels of imperfect candidates, though.

Anyway, I come not to praise Democrats, nor to bury Republicans. Rather, in my next post, I want to offer up some ideas I think would greatly improve how our esteemed republic functions, and possibly save it from itself.

Or, rather, from us.

UPDATE: Bit off more than I can chew at the moment, so I guess saving America will have to wait. Maybe after November, when I know whether we’re still moving at least somewhat forward with Obama, or just saying “Fuck it” with a Romney presidency…