It’s Time to Elevate the Arts!

Every year, the Comox Valley hosts an awesome event called Elevate the Arts, where thousands of people get together to be creative in a myriad of different ways. Painting, drawing, dancing, circus arts, puppetry, storytelling, film making, watching and doing inspirational things. The streets and alleys fill with music and laughter. The buildings tremble with the roar of thrilled crowds. Really, it makes for one amazing Saturday.

If you’re coming the Elevate, drop by the Underground Craft Market and say hullo! I’ll be reading onstage at 10:45 am and 2:00 pm, but I’ll be there all day signing and selling books.  Come and chat about transformational mythology, or werewolves, or history, or Victorian medical procedures, or whatever strikes your fancy.  You know me – I’ll gab about pretty much anything.

For more information about Elevate, visit their website and check out the schedule of events.  And before you come visit, take a peek at this, which is brand new and only appeared yesterday and hints at what I’ll be reading this year…. awooooooo!

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The Existential Journey of Steve

To my shame, I have killed them all. 

I found a lovely village, with a little castle tower in the middle and lush gardens of carrots, potatoes and wheat. Multitudes of sheep grazed in the surrounding meadows, and the inhabitants were friendly. They wanted to trade goods with me – nothing I didn’t already have, I’m afraid, but I still found them charming.  Only the priest in his burgundy robes treated me with suspicion.

Despite his misgivings, I built a home on the outskirts of the village and decided I would join the town, infiltrate their culture, become one of them. I would try to learn their language and befriend them. I wasn’t going to be alone anymore, and that filled my heart with joy.

But then the zombies came, and while I was a mighty warrior with my sword and armour, these simple sheep farmers were no match for the hordes of undead. The priest was the first to fall. I tried, again and again, to beat back the waves of skeletons, spiders, and cannibalistic monsters, but nothing I did could stem the tide of evil now battering the houses and castle wall. Plus, I have to admit, the farmers were kind of stupid — unfamiliar with the undead, they opened their doors to welcome them. Bad plan, farmer man. 

No matter what I did, I could not explain to them to change their ways, to take up the sword and fight. I could not save them from their own gentle nature. In only a few days, the town I had adopted as my own was a wasteland. The sheep still grazed and the wheat still grew, but now no one remained to tend or gather. I collected my supplies and left with my head hanging in sorrow, knowing that I had brought this plague upon these poor simple souls. 

I think I seriously have to stop playing Minecraft for a while. It’s too depressing.  Why bother to build, when death comes for all of us? What’s it all for? Why dare to love? Our endeavours are all for naught, in the end.

Groovy!

I have no idea who made this, but I love it.

Go on. Stare at it. Allow yourself to be hypnotized by that pant suit. Soon, you’ll start shaking your booty and humming Abba’s Dancing Queen. You can dance! You can jive! Having the time of your li-i-i-fe!

Colonialism & the Observer Principle in Minecraft

You know what’s addictive? Minecraft. So much fun! I build and mine and travel, and my most favorite thing to do is design complex railways systems that take me deep into unknown territories.

The first time I stumbled across a village, I was thrilled. The humm humm of the villagers offered endless amusement, and they had plenty of gardens which I could pillage for potatoes and carrots. I built a road leading from my home (a massive stone complex with high walls to keep out the zombies) and started visiting the village every few days, to interact with these strange little big-nosed people who spoke in a funny language I couldn’t understand.

After awhile, I noticed that there were fewer and fewer villagers, and they were becoming less and less pleased to see me. The reason soon became clear: zombies were visiting the village and killing the villagers*. I tried my hardest to save them – I even stayed in their houses to battle the hordes of undead and red-eyed spiders – but nothing I did stopped the inevitable tragedy.  Soon, the village was deserted, and I was left alone. Just me and the zombies, many of which now looked like villagers.

I started to see this whole episode within the context of a historical tragedy: a colonizing interloper with invasive technology, consuming vast amounts of natural resources to re-order the environment, who sweeps in to trade with the indigenous people, only to bring a plague, ruin, and death. If I had not approached the village, the zombies would never have come there.  The Observer Principle states that that measurements of certain systems cannot be made without affecting the systems; it was by interacting with the villagers, observing them, that I changed their fate for the worse.  I had rejected the concept of living in harmony with the natural world, thereby causing imbalance, and unleashing terror on the lives of those who had learned how to live – and thrive, by the number of gardens – in this particular biome. The game exhibits a strong colonialist attitude, and places value in resources not for their intrinsic place in the natural world, but for how they can be consumed, reordered, and used.

The undead are not the true monsters in Minecraft.

The true monster is me**.

humm humm

*Plus, I was stealing their vegetables. That’s never a good way to make friends.

**Yeah, I’m a freakin’ JOY to play video games with.

e*le*vate

On June 8th, we’re going to start filming a new public-participation project as part of ELEVATE, and I hope you’ll come join us!

In a perfect world, you’d be joining a cast of THOUSANDS, so even if you’re shy, there’s no need to worry. And I promise, we won’t ask you to sing or dance or do anything silly, unless (of course) you want to, at which point we might reward you with candy.

I don’t want to say too much more about the project; a sense of mystery is always fun. But join us on Saturday, June 8th in downtown Courtenay, and we’ll turn you into a STAR*.

*To be perfectly fair, there are countless stars in the heavens, so this metaphor still fits with the whole cast of thousands claim. All of you, bright and shiny and beautiful!

12-12-12

Our fascination with numbers is, itself, quite fascinating. What are they, but an arbitrary system of symbols that our little monkey minds have created to quantify the vastness of the cosmos? And yet here I am, wondering if today will be lucky or unlucky, simply because my calendar reads the same three numbers in a row.

Twelve twelve twelve. And at high noon, it’ll be twelve twelve twelve twelve. And twelve seconds after high noon, we’ll have twelve twelve twelve twelve twelve… and on and on it goes. Eventually the letters lose their meaning and the word twelve starts to look like the title of an elf dressed in tweed. A professor elf, with patches on his elbows. A twelve.

I’m taking this class in mytholology, and my TA is a real twelve.

Personally, I’m quite excited to see 12-21-12, not only because of the digits or the roll-over of the Mayan longcount, but to watch people go a little bit crazy with survivalist notions. I predict that the majority of people will pooh pooh this End of the World faldarall, but they’ll still shamefully sneak out to the grocery store and empty the shelves of bottled water. They’ll pretend it’s bosh, but you’ll see on their ruddy, glowing faces that there’s a wee smidgen of enjoyment at the possibility of the return of the Mothership. It happened during Y2K, and I predict it will happen again, and I’m looking forward to it.

People like to appear logical, responsible, and mature, but inside, they’re hoping for a bit of excitement to shake up their daily routine, and what better to achieve that goal than Armageddon? Hey, I’m as guilty as anyone else.

But there’s still a few days before the End Times, enough time to horde cheese and waterproof matches in the bunker. As for today, I’m deciding right now that 12-12-12 will be a very lucky day indeed.

Now 13-13-13… if only it existed! Wouldn’t THAT be a fun date, especially if it fell on a Friday?

Will Satisfaction Bring It Back?

Yesterday, I found myself suddenly addicted to a wee little game called ‘Curiosity’.

Maybe you’ve heard of it? In the last 24 hours, waves of people have joined forces to chip blocks away from a gargantuan cube, constructed of 64 billion microscopic pieces.  At the centre of that cube is… something… and only one person will get to see it. Curious? So are thousands of others.

As for me, I’m not actually all that curious about what might be at the centre of the cube, but the repetitive tapping as I break blocks is remarkably soothing, and I’ve enjoyed clearing fields of cubes to reveal new colours underneath. It’s silly, I suppose, but it’s also relaxing, and I can watch television while I do it.  🙂

Of course, why do I need something to relax me?  Well, frankly, logging on to Curiosity has proven to be one of the most frustrating, infuriating conundrums imaginable.  When I click on the link, I am confronted with a white screen, with joyful grey text that greets me, asks me to wait, tells me to retry connecting to the server, over and over again.  For almost half-an-hour, I wait wait wait to join my block-chipping co-players. It’s maddening!!!!

Curiosity has killed, not the cat, but the servers.

Ah well. I guess that’s what happens when you ask a whole planet full of people to co-operate. There’s going to be a few glitches, and the servers might start to fumble under the pressure.  When we work together, we are powerful. Sometimes, we forget that.