Saturday, February 23, 2008

One Year and A Week Ago

I started public Ryanism: this blog. It has only been a year, but it feels nostalgic. We thew confetti, ate cakes, contemplate spoons and a lot more things, awesome. I remember cooking up ideas in the 15~20 minutes walk from office to train station (I was an intern! Wow, that several lines in my resume was what I was doing day in day out).

Let's do a little recap. The first post, this is the first I told the world that penguins will dominate, then cats, then penguins again. But we all know that if we have spoon in our hearts, we can skip all those dominating and go straight to merrily dancing around a tree instead. So, behold, spoon! There are also several adventures going on here, Mister Graham Jonesy and his strange friends, mister adventurer who so far have met a penguin, many cats, and the Magnanimous Pandas of Existence, he really is an adventurer. Oh, don't forget the experiments, any experiment you have done yourself? Lastly, the never ending quest of Our Beloved Fantastic Teacher the Great and Kind Penguin of Passion and Willpower, with his disciple The Magnificent Papa Bear of Passion and Willpower That We All Love, and his pet ice cube, The Noble Ice Cube of Love and Sacrifice, also a little saga in two parts from Papa Bear Willpower's son The Epic Bear Jr. of Courage and Tenacity who was declared dead several times.

Enough recap, I did say it's a little recap, didn't I? Anyone can look around by themselves anyway. Lastly, let me remind all of us that the world takeover by penguins, cats, and penguins again is still imminent. Please have spoon in your heart if like me, you'd rather dance merrily around a tree, and eat lots of cakes, and ice creams. Also our motto is still "To inspire awe in the minds of our peers and to strike fear in the hearts of our adversaries"

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Magnanimous Panda of Existence

"You, what you be carrying there?"

I turned around to find the source of the voice, my gun at the ready. But I saw only bamboo thickets, left, right, behind, everywhere.

*Bam!* My gun flew from my left hand and landed on the ground; my right reaching for the spoon in my breast pocket. "Who's there? Show yourself!" Days of wandering in the forest drained all my strength, but I couldn't show my exhaustion, not to a potential enemy.

*Crack* A heavy mass landed on my gun, making the barrel bend nastily; hope the insurance company can accept damages by a huge panda stepping on it. Wait, what? Panda?

There it was, a panda stood before me, shadows from the leaves hid its face. I would think pandas are adorable, but not that time. Its presence scared the spoon out of me. Oh, spoon. My spoon! I had my spoon, I'd be safe! I swiftly took out my spoon and point it to the panda. "You, what do you want?"

Unlike the penguins and the cats, this panda did not react to my spoon. It just stepped into light calmly to let me see its face. It actually looked reassuring, not menacing, but its presence still pushed hard on my shoulders, as if forcing me to buckle down. But it might had been my exhaustion. "You are young, but you have spoon in your heart. We have spoon in our heart. You follow us, we show you our place." It talked! It even referred to itself as 'we', how shocking. But that was not the end of the surprise. Many more pandas stepped out from the thicket, some carrying something that looked suspiciously like a rifle. Pandas speaking? Pandas with firearms?

They lived in huts. Neat, clean huts that seemed to be cleaner than my lodging most of the time. But having seen them talking, I wasn't surprised with the level of civilization, other thing surprised me: weaponry. All kinds of modern weaponry that were in service, even active in conflicts extending people's hands to sever other people's hands: rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, bombs, classic land mines, even schematics and plans for the most advanced of aircrafts and the biggest of battleships. They were all over the place, as if some panda just strew them over on the ground one bright morning before a stroll to the thicket. It took me a while to notice that they're not just left around for some homicidal panda to pick up; there are pandas everywhere intensely studying the pieces of murderous craft.

"Here we li..."

"What in spoon's presence are you doing here?" I cut in. The panda sighed and looked at me deeply. His glare was scaring away my wits; I would have fainted if I weren't clutching tightly to the spoon in my breast pocket. I know the pandas wouldn't react to me drawing my spoon, but I still needed it to calm myself.

"How brash, human" It sat down on the ground, beckoning me to do the same. "We collect what can be collected of your killing tools here, and study them."

"So you can rise against us? You plan to turn them against us?"

"Oh, how nice it is to be young and don't have to listen to anything." It glared at me. I understood what it meant, but I was feeling rebellious all the more. "We study them, and sabotage them."

"And? What use have sabotaged weapon?"

"Oh, a lot. We sneak them back in your arsenal, and you use them to rip each other's limbs. But they jam time and again and your critical and tide turning murder missions fail."

"And the conflict continues." I cut in, trying to sound as devious as I could. "More people will die. More ammunition wasted, more money burned. Your doing achieves nothing!"

"On the contrary, human." The Panda shook its shoulder and took a rifle. It began examining it, then disassembling it. "We don't aim to finish your conflict. You see, we hate you for your conflict, and each time you're at it, we want you to get hurt as much as possible. As many of you die, as many wounded, as many go bankrupt, as many lose family members as possible. We don't act out of ideology, this is hatred, human. This is what we, The Magnanimous Pandas of Existence do."

"Oh the irony, for the magnanimous to act out of spite!" I retorted, then quickly taking my spoon out of my breast pocket, pointing it to the panda's left eye. "You said you pandas have spoon in your hearts, but I see no spoon: just malice. How can desiring the pain for other people 'having spoon in hearts' for You, You Malicious Panda of Degradation!"

The panda sighed and gestured to one of the nearest panda, who was writing in something that can only be malicious code into an advanced communication instrument. It glanced at me and shrugged, then came closer. Everything went black.

Morning sun woke me up, how many days had it been since my encounter with the pandas. I was left just outside the forest, near a small village, they didn't think of leaving me to die, maybe they had spoon in their hearts after all; they just don't understand it yet. Oh well, time to continue my journey, we still have penguins and cats world takeover to think about.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Whose What Materials?

Controversy sells. I picked up reading His Dark Materials trilogy after reading some controversy about its 'religious' issues following the hype to the film adaptation. I ended reading the books before seeing the movie, and I'm glad. We'll see why, way later.

This is a proper trilogy, unlike Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which is a trilogy in five books; the longest trilogy. ever. I haven't read many fantasy books before, just Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, and The Hobbit, all by Tolkien. Well I watched some fantasy anime like Record of Lodoss Wars and Utawarerumono, and played quite a number of fantasy games the likes of Suikoden and Final Fantasy. So, It's not entirely right to say I'm new to fantasy fiction. Oh, how I love justifying myself! A proper trilogy has three books, so does this: Northern Lights (The Golden Compass), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. The first one (at least most part of it) is the one that got adapted into a movie, just like everybody and their pet tigers know.

What're the interesting things we have here? The first answer might be daemon, but let's talk about the many worlds visited in the book first. An interpretation of quantum physics says that every time a choice is made (a particle in state A going to state B or C, for example), the universe split, and all scenarios get played out; in different universes. Now, the books take this as setting. We start in a universe in the first book, go around three universes in the second, and visit some more in the last. I'm weak for this kind of setting, because it means that the author must invent some worlds, including their landscapes, intelligent beings, cultures, technologies, everything. He took things from our familiar world and twist and make up things and create another one, and the result was great; it felt like a cultural trip. The things about other intelligent creatures beside humans are interesting too, like Muleva, Angels, and Gallivespians. Then there's Dust. About daemon: I want one.

Story: Grey, as in not black and white. The rebellion that Lord Asriel started, it didn't have to happen. The worlds weren't in an impending doom. The villain wasn't about to explode some serious ultra-mega-giga improved Tsar Bomba and rip the fabric of spacetime, and eat the things dream and hope are made of. Although it was later revealed that the villain had a plan with enormous enormity, the rebellion had started by then, it started without the info, would've started without. And if it didn't happen? Nothing really spectacular would happen to the common herd of people.

The ending. I'm coloring the rest of the paragraph with its background color, highlight if you don't mind the spoiler. Just when I thought everything was going to be fine and all smile, the bad news was broken and uh... *sniff*. It affected me for several days: I felt mellow inside. I guess I'm weak for this kind of thing, even though I very rarely give a good ending to any story I came up with myself.

When I read Silmarillion or The Children of Hurin, the characters were like figures in history books or maybe newspaper report. No one I can relate to, no one I care about. So yeah he's brave and strong and killed many orcs, kill him next chapter, I'd forget about it after a page or two. But here I like the characters much. I find myself thinking of their motives, intentions and things. Not just this overlord is bad, he lives in a cave somewhere and sends out many minions, this brave thing slaughters them, so he's our hero; he's dead next chapter. Okay I'm not trying to bash Tolkien here, I like the world he constructed; I'm still weak for the 'invent a world' thing, see. There's a rebel by choice, someone with pretty hard to read intent, a liar for life, a stranded not-mad scientist, and, of course, CUDDLY BEARS. Iorek Byrnison is a cuddly bear and you know that's true.

Also, the movie is much harder to understand if you haven't read the book. End of article.