The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Posts Tagged ‘stories

Why An All Female Ghost Busters Cast Matters

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Growing up without my father’s presence might have turned me into a nerd. Not having a stable paternal figure made me look to comics, and escapist TV shows to find my place in the world, which gave me all kinds of unrealistic expectations about the nature of reality.

By far, one of my favorite shows was the Ghost Busters. I loved it because it seemed to be more about people doing crazy and impossible things than about some dudes fighting the monster of the week. I watched the show whenever I could, and ran around the house pretending to be a Ghost Buster in training. In a way, the characters became my roll-models thanks to J. Michael Straczynski’s beautiful writing. He wrote about people, not cartoon characters. When I revisit some of the episodes he wrote, they still hold weight.

While I was trying to figure out my place in the scheme of things, my mother worked day and night to make sure that my brother and I could have a private Montessori education, and that we had activities like Kung-fu classes and regular trips to the public library. My mother believed that she had the duty to get us ready for life. Meanwhile, I kept on having dreams about the Ghost Busters. I’d wake up, only to realize that there was something missing from my life. The world kept on telling me that I needed a father. The looks of pity I got from my classmates confirmed this belief. One time, our teacher decided to treat us to a field trip to the mall, and I wanted money for the arcade. When I asked, my mom gave me the equivalent of a quarter. I held on to it as my classmates feed the Gauntlet machine with coin after coin. Finally, when I decided to play, I only lasted a few minutes. Then, we went to the food court, and everyone ordered burgers. I pulled out a sandwich from a paper bag my mother had put together for me. She was never a great cook so I wasn’t really looking forward to the meal. I remember sneaking to the condiment section of the restaurant, and adding bacon bits, cheese, and other goodies. It tasted great. I don’t remember what I said about bringing my own food, and not having money, but I made stuff up. I lied all the time about my father being away on a business trip. My excuses were inventive, and rooted in shame.

The most memorable fight my mother and I had happened when I was held back a year. The shame of having to repeat 5th grade stayed with me for a long time, but I ended up becoming An excellent student by the time I made it to college. “Look,” my mother would say “I don’t care what you do with your life. l am doing my part by sending you to a good school. Just be the best at what you do. If you become a criminal or a priest just be a good one- Just do your best.”

And so for many years the feeling that something was missing haunted me, and the memories of my imaginary life as a Ghost Buster sorta guided my life. I loved the myth. I love science, and impossible stories, and ended up getting a masters in the technology field, and I love gadgets, and New York.

In my mid twenties, I got some of the GB toys I could never afford when l was a kid. They are still home then in the attic somewhere.

A few days ago, I found out that there was going to be a new Ghost Busters movie, and that it was going to have an all female cast. I was excited, and interested. I didn’t know why, and then it hit me. If I had seen this movie, I would have known that, although the original GB will all ways have a place in my heart, I didn’t really need a father figure as much as I thought I did. My mother did a good job by herself. I wish she hadn’t had to go at it alone, but nothing was missing. kids need loving parents. That’s all, so as I watch the movie, I am going to think about single parents doing the right thing for their kids, and I am going to know that no matter what their gender is, as long as they do their best for their children, they are enough. Thank you for all that you do.

If you repost this, give me credit. As long as you’re not using it commercially, and as long as you give me credit, it’s okay to use this. CC: attribution, non commercial

Written by Hector

February 1, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Posted in Personal Essay

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A list of new Fairy Tales

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Fairy Tales are woven in to our lives. They are the unescapable raw materials of our imaginations. No matter how much time goes by, we continue to refer to them to create our fictitious universes. In some cases, we even believe them to be more than stories, and start religions based on them. Of course, their value lays not in their reality, but in their ability to interact with our minds. A good fairy tale does not have to be real to capture our attention. It seems like there is something about them and their characters which begs for retelling. Newer heroic tales like the ones with superheroes have been told almost as often as their older mythological cousins. What matters, however, is that even after they are told and retold, they continue to charm us. The following short list includes some of my favorite retellings of myths and fairy tales. I hope you like it!

1) Fables, by Bill Willingham

What would happen if every single fairy tale character that ever existed had to move to NY in order to escape prosecution at home? This is the question Bill Willingham sets out to answer in his multiple award winning comic book. Here, we meet a likable big bad wolf, and an overwhelmed Snow White, as well as a not so great Prince Charming. This series takes the idea of fairy tales in to a whole new direction. 

2) American Gods and Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

Mr. Gaiman uses both books to explore how belief may give raise to the existence of Gods. The first one is a lot more serious and ambitious in it’s scope, while the second one is a little bit lighter and more amusing. Both are great reads. 

3) The Madness season, by CS Freidman

This is the only original vampire book in existence. I’ve read many, many books about vampires, but noneof them  come even closer to being as cool and surprising as this delightful science fiction tale. Yes, you heard me, not fantasy, but science fiction. Not hard science fiction, but awesome nevertheless. If you want to see the most original, fun, and exiting take on the whole vampire mythos out there check this book out. 

4) Anything Charles De Lint Writes

 His books are filled with beautiful landscapes of urban fantasy where we meet magical creatures from every possible tradition. One minute we are strolling around the woods with Old Man Coyote and Raven, and the next we find out that the mild mannered coffee shop owner that made our espresso is really a Celtic goddess. His stuff helps you to see magic in everything. 

I know that there are more books that would fit this list, but I’m not feeling well, and I need a break, plus, the ones I mention here should keep you busy for a long time. If you have any suggestions feel free to post them in the comments section.

Written by Hector

November 5, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Thoughts on Dreams and Stories

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I just finished watching the movie Forbidden Kingdom. It wasn’t bad, especially for young kinds. It was action packed and it had a little bit of philosophy and mythology in it. The characters were not very well developed, but were archetypical enough to not need it. Before watching the movie, however, I managed to catch up on my sleep–I woke up at 11. In my dream, I was a warrior from the future. I travelled in a shiny spaceship called the “Silver Skull.” My mission was to help a young medicine student fall in love with a young, and unsuccessful guy. Their marriage was going to somehow save the future world. The dream wasn’t bad either. Again, the characters were not that developed, and there was no philosophy in it. Though  the special effects were better in the movie–which actually begins with a very cool dream sequence–I got to experience the dream from my own perspective. In the end, after both the dream and the movie, my rational mind was amused by the content, but a small part of me felt that strange sort of nostalgia one can only feel for the worlds that never were. 

Although I am a rationalist in the strictest sense of the world, I believe that great stories and dreams are filled with intrinsic value. I do not claim to know why we dream, or even why we tell stories. I have heard that we do so in order to learn. It may be true. Stories teach us things that essays and non-fiction can’t even begin to explain, but even if this weren’t true, I wouldn’t give up the pleasure of dreaming or of a good story simply because there is no rational explanation for their utility. 

Good storytelling and great dreams enliven me. Good stories need not to be “really real” in order to mean something. The realm of the story needs not to be constrained by the bounds of reality, yet, many people try to prove the reality of their mythology, by making up pseudoscientific explanations for impossibilities. That cheapens the myth. It takes away it’s power and value. I think Joseph Campbell might have said something along those lines. The mystery within the story is not it’s hidden literary meaning, but the way it moves us to become better humans. Stories exemplify our ideals by painting them in colors so vivid that we cannot ignore them. As for dreams, I don’t know what they are or what they mean, but they rejuvenate me and amuse me, plus, they are the only way I know to fly a spaceship.

Written by Hector

October 18, 2008 at 6:46 pm