Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Get Up - and Keep On Trekking

Well, it was a rough year for heroic fantasy, most of us not getting what we wanted. The Dark Knight was not even nominated for Best Picture at the Academy awards, unlike the rarely viewed Milk. (BTW, both ranked 94% on Rotten Tomatoes - its just that 15-20 times as many people saw TDK). The long-awaited, adult-themed Watchmen appeared at last - only to tank financially and critically.

The bright spots were the J.J. Abram's re-boot of Star Trek and Pixar's Up - both films were scored by Michael Giacchino and both have the distinction of making me bawl like a lost child in the first 10 minutes. The themes of deep love and sacrifice and loss were so deftly handled, they were worth the price of admission alone.

On the American political front: our new president has decided the old president wasn't so wrong about troops in Iraq. In fact, he's decided to bring in MORE forces. So pray for our vets and the people in Iraq, folks.

Lastly, I ended this year with some nice gifts and meetings - including a wonderfully pleasant one hour plus phone conversation with Scott B. Bizar, the Editor in Chief and Head Honcho of Fantasy Games Unlimited; he who gave Jeff Dee and Jack Herman a chance to put out Villains and Vigilantes, my favorite superhero system, bar none! I found out he and Jeff were, contrary to rumor, still communicating well - though Jeff has gone on to do his own superhero game called Living Legends.

I've seen this man's name in print for years - getting to talk to him one-on-one was a real thrill and a privilege. I got to find out that there are plans for even bigger V&V books [like those "100 Pages" comics of the 70s] filled with mini-adventures and "fiend folios", along with scenarios and rules additions.

I pitched the idea of a V&V 2.5 Rules Upgrade - much like ST:TOS Re-mastered - and he said he'd like to see it but more incorporated with the other products; it depended on the material length, etc. He wanted to make sure the old rules were NOT supplanted by totally new ones. He shared his deep respect for creators and his intense dislike of Dave Arnenson's name being dropped from Dungeons and Dragons as rules upgrades came out. [Side Note: Jeff Dee still gets royalties for sales of V&V.]

I was SO excited - and since I had been mouthing off about such a thing for months, I went and told my community what I had found out - and that SCOTT BIZAR wanted their submissions!

I thought they'd be excited with me. We can see our old game come back to life!

Not - ahem - exactly.

You see, I generated the wrong kind of excitement - because some posters do not know me well. Fear, anger and "don't steal my stuff" comments went flying about.

Did I respond kindly? Are you kidding me? I was two steps from apoplexy. I ended up being snide enough to say "If it was WORTH STEALING, its WORTH PAYING for!" I went further, making comments about how most rules suggestions are awful, making the game more complex than simpler and more elegant.

What did I do wrong? I mean, besides the rough remark - that's a failing of style not ethics. No, the great sin was that I was not 'respectful.'

Yes - respectful. Let me tell you where that word came from: the movie Julie and Julia.

Julie and Julia is a neat tale about a stressed-out girl who decides to become more sane by cooking. She decides to cook EVERY recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. She blogs it. The movie also shows a biography of Julia Child's life and all the challenges she and her husband had as she tried to learn cooking and produce the first French cookbook in English. At the end, the girl - Julie - gets some fame and recognition and just as she celebrates in being recognized, she finds out that Julia Childs was told what she'd done [500+ recipes in 365 days] and was not very pleased. Said it wasn't 'respectful.'

The girl adored Julia, learned everything about her - chose her to emulate and learn from - so she was crushed by this comment. What took her a year to do however, was the product of 8 years of Julia Childs' life. And some of her comments on her blog may have been - overly - truthful.

So Julia made her comment that what Julie had accomplished didn't seem 'respectful.'

And I have found that can be a powerful motivator, enough to generate assault when no actual wrong has been done.

Is this truth in the Bible? Oh sure. Jesus - perfect and sinless (unlike moi, natch) - got run out of town for presenting Himself as the Answer to their problems. He'd done nothing wrong morally or ethically. Keep in mind - Jesus also has humbly lived in this community for 30 years as a regular Joe.

That actually causes the problem. They think they know him and they don't. He's nobody special, they think.

Then they find out differently - from His own lips.

Luke 4:20-30 (New International Version)
Then he [Jesus] rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked. [Side Note: "That carpenter's kid?"]

Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "

"I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian." [NOTE: Jesus says, "The question isn't can I do miracles? The question is which of you trust God enough to receive one!"]

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.


What did the community do when Jesus did not give them 'respect'?

They tried to kill him. They wanted him GONE.

Imagine that.

Well, folks, the lesson to learn is: if Jesus Christ was perfect and sinless and STILL hacked people off, you'll probably do it too.

And if they want you dead and gone, its probably best to mosey along.

God has better things for you to do than hang around with crazies.

You betcha.

Amen.

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