Addiction in Fantasy

I started reading Dune again.

I’ve said it before, but I encourage you to read it if you haven’t.

To catch up those unfamiliar, a central theme of the books (though I keep primarily to the first one) is a commodity known as melange, colloquially known as “the spice,” in a science-fiction future set approximately 24,500 years after the 21st Century. Melange is a naturally-occurring substance from the fictional planet Arrakis (otherwise known as the titular Dune) that proves to be the focus of high politics and war, being of pivotal economic importance. When consumed, the spice provides life-extension and, in some, a degree of prescience, which is essential for deep-space travel.

Basically, the concept is that mechanical computers are, to put it lightly, long since out of fashion, and calculation of warp-drive jumps through space is done by human minds. The spice is required (to augment the navigators with prescience) in order to predict whether or not the ships will collide with obstacles (such as asteroids, planets and suns) as the travelers careen through the Known Universe.

In other words, no spice, no interstellar travel, no empire. It was important stuff, oft-cited that one briefcase of the spice could buy you a planet.

But apart from granting extended lifespans and the ability to peer into the future (to a limited degree), melange also had the effect of being highly addictive – and withdrawal is fatal. Extensive, long-term use apparently had the effect of warping the human body, turning the Navigators into beings that were simply “human once.”

Frank Herbert was not afraid to make a variety of drug references in his work — some of an experimenter himself — and it is the use of these things in storytelling that I write about today. Addiction is a powerful thing, something not to be discussed lightly, as it is in our lives – all of us – even in its most minute forms. Johann Hari talks about how we look at and treat addiction in our world now in his excellent TED Talk.

But in Dune, not only is a major plot device a mind-expanding drug, but the use of addiction as a means of controlling an individual is employed in another, less over-arcing plot point. Another drug, called semuta, is the apparent addiction of choice for the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen’s guard captain, Nefud — an interesting study all its own, as the drug taken alone doesn’t do much, but after taking semuta, it is triggered by listening to “semuta music,” which apparently activates it while in your body. In any case, it is also highly addictive, and the baron uses this as a means of controlling Nefud.

The Dune novel is about many, many things, and cannot be summarized easily. A soul once asked whether the book was an allusion to marijuana — it isn’t, at all, and one guy does a damn good job summarizing what the book really is about here. But when we talk about addiction in terms of a plot device, or as a motivation (incentive?), or even simply something to spice up the story or character, we have the makings for something that is very believable and convincing.

There is even a website dedicated to geek-themed cooking recipes, not least of which this Dune-inspired one.

And if your idea of drug addiction is associated primarily with the so-called hard-drugs like cocaine and heroin, consider that non-outlawed drugs are bloody everywhere, from caffeine to nicotine to alcohol.

Humans are flawed and prone to fill the void (or as Johann Hari from the TED talk would put it: the lack of connection) with something – anything – whether its the chemical response to the artificial euphoria of cocaine, or what I’ve heard described as the contentedness bestowed by marijuana, or the pleasurable escape from reality provided by video games, television and Facebook. These are real things the likes of which each of us, or just as often someone we know, must contend with at some point or another in our lives.

Speaking from experience, and without any official medical testing, I’ve come to believe I have something of an addictive personality — that is, I’ll latch onto something as a means of escape even when I know I ought not be doing it, and it usually takes the form of video games. It’s all too easy for me to lose more hours than I can count at a game such as League of Legends and World of Warcraft, both of which are expertly crafted games made for the express purpose of forever being uncompleted.

As something of a pseudo-ex-gamer, I found myself going into a relapse not very long ago, and then it hit me – if I had enemies who would seek to control my activities (or lack thereof), what would they do to exploit my weakness? What would be a subtle, sinister way to prevent me from being productive, or otherwise prevent me from treading down a path that someone might otherwise not want me to do?

Disclaimer: I know I’m not remotely important enough to have an individual enemy of that caliber.

But if I did, they would probably see to me having in my possession a powerful computer system, like the ones I used to build for myself in the past, loaded with easily-accessed and notoriously addictive games, like the aforementioned LoL and WoW. Hell, I even went through a Hearthstone phase a few months ago.

Would it that I were to win a lottery, the prize of which being said gaming PC, for example. The world probably wouldn’t hear from me for some time in such a scenario.

This line of thought inspired me for a character I’m writing, a flaw of whom is a penchant for drinking. Now, what would someone of power need to do in order to keep this character under control? Provide the easily accessed alcohol, of course – and in a manner so as to not rouse the character’s suspicions. Here’s a glimpse into the character, as well as a bit of a plot-element for my Work-In-Progress:

Radh lost someone dear to him, and not for error of another, but that of his own. He is convinced she died because of him, and unable to come to terms with overwhelming guilt, he crawls into a wine bottle — but before doing so, he also saw something he shouldn’t have, something that a trusted ally would otherwise want to keep secret.

The ally, a high-ranking and influential individual, is threatened by Radh’s possible recollection of the Thing He Shouldn’t Know. Thus he sees to putting Radh in a safe, secluded location and, rather than simply having Radh killed, the undoubtedly more secure of options, the ally will instead engineer an environment in which Radh will take to drinking himself stupid again.

Out of context, and written purposefully vague as it is, I would expect readers to look at the above few paragraphs which fingers scratching their heads. It’ll be clear when the novel is released, which is also why — as I’ve said in the past — I’m so paranoidically avoidant of sharing specific details.

In any case, addiction is a powerful character trait; old school Sherlock Holmes was a cocaine addict, and the otherwise extremely likable Jonathan Clemens from Alien 3 had battled with a morphine addiction. Not to mention Dr. Gregory House.

Do I draw that addictions are required to make a successfully interesting character? Not necessarily — but they can add depth to an otherwise shallow one in need of it, or provide a glimpse of another facet to someone we thought we knew. A character trait like this can help us paint the picture of a Functional Addict or, if used (arguably) lazily, supply the motivation for just about any nefarious activity.

I know what I’m doing with this information. Have you any ideas for yourself?

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Review: Tomorrowland

There’re spoilers in this post, because it’s as much an impression as it is a review.

This’s a movie for kids, which means a few familiar children’s movie tropes are there that bug me: the super-strong robot that looks like a child, the boy-genius, the 20-something actress who is supposed to pass as a teenager.

They didn’t have teenagers like this when I was growing up.

I don’t even necessarily mean her physical appearance; growing up, my school was full of dullards, and as a living definition of “late bloomer” myself, I only ever met one or two prodigal-type kids.

They were mostly pompous dickheads.

Whenever I see movies, particularly those by mega-companies like Disney, I find myself always looking for the agenda. It’s not to say having one is bad, but I’m always curious what it might be. Usually the basic agenda is to entertain you; to tell you a fun and exciting story long enough to keep you from walking out of the theater. Possibly so you can tell your friends it was worth paying the money go and see. But sometimes there’re are deeper things, particularly in children’s movies, which is one reason I’m rather fond of the messages that are found in all of Pixar’s animations.

Monsters, Inc. was about the importance of alternative energy sources.

WALL-E talks about our increasingly corporate-master-dependent society as well as neglect for the environment. However you might recall a group of “malfunctioning” robots who, I have no doubt, represent the artists and creatives of a society.

Bug’s Life retells the Seven Samurai like a boss.

If you haven’t, you must see this movie.

But Tomorrowland isn’t a Pixar production, it’s just plain-old Disney, a movie-rendition of one if it’s theme park rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.

Gods, they are really scrounging for ideas. The cynic would argue that there’s the agenda right there: endorsement of theme park rides, packaged into an entertaining adventure complete with tropes and warm fuzzy familiar family fun.

And yet I’m not saying I disliked the movie.

There was an interesting premise that I found to be an interesting choice of ideas to explore: the whole “the world is what you make it,” thing, which smacks a little bit of the The Secret. Optimism really does make a difference in your life, even if that difference is as subtle as noticing the good things instead of focusing on the bad, but this goes a step further.

Latching onto a cool-sounding science term (tachyons, hypothetical particles that travel faster than light) and playing with a question of “What if?” This is actually the foundation of true science fiction – taking a scientific concept and running with it to explore what might happen within the context of a fictional story. In Tomorrowland, a device is invented that can see the future and the future is bleak. We see imagery of the end of the world, gleaned from the future, by monitoring tachyon particles and apparently glimpsing what will happen, is revealed to the audience.

As one might come to expect, at the end of the film the inevitable apocalypse is averted by shutting down the Doomsday (predicting) Device, which has been apparently broadcasting this negative imagery of a dystopian future into the brains of the modern populace. As a result, since everyone feels like the world is ending, on account of having the future-imagery beamed into everyone’s heads, a loop is formed and the world is destined to end (via environmental collapse, unstable governments, nuclear war, etc., all at once).

In other words, the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Destroying the device ends the broadcast, and the movie concludes with an air of extreme optimism. The the world is going to end if you believe it will, but not if you give up. The people who do not give up on their dreams – the artists, the inventors, the curious — the dreamers — will eventually be discovered and shown to Tomorrowland, a pocket dimension existing for the sole purpose of allowing one’s ideas to flourish without the restrictions of politics, regulations, laws…

Sounds great.

So remember kids, if you never give up on your dreams, one day you’ll come across a magical pin that serves as a gateway that’ll whisk you off to a fantasy realm where, essentially, the only limit is your imagination.

Again, sounds great.

Where the hell is my pin?

Anyway, I linger on that concept of focusing on the negative, of humanity’s fascination with the end of the world. Turns out it’s psychological tendency that we have bred into us as mammals. There’s some talk of it in this article, how so-called advanced knowledge both absolves us of responsibility and gives us a sense of comfort in a chaotic, entropic universe (“If there’s an end, then that means there’s an order to things, a plan!”). They touch on this in the film, how the populace embraces this negativity, because it asks nothing of you, as an individual. “If everything’s going to end, then why bother trying?”

One needn’t look far to see all the failed doomsday predictions from religions the world over. Our brains are wired to think, to feel, like the world will end tomorrow. It is a survival mechanism that serves us well, at least those peoples who evolved in cyclical climates like the northern hemisphere.

I couldn’t say whether this idea applies to all cultures and peoples closer to the equator, but the populations of tropical countries – such as Viet Nam, where I have increasingly direct experience with the minds and tendencies of the people – tend to live in a manner that baffles me.

They seem to operate in a manner of near-total disregard for distant future plans; those who actually plan ahead, or think beyond tomorrow, are the ones who get ahead.

So I see this movie as playing on the fears of viewers in the 1st World today, because let me tell you, the other 85% percent of the world’s population is seriously unconcerned with climate change or plastic bottles and bags littering their forests and beaches.

So was this movie made to inspire kids? Or was it made to assure a panicking populace, through the power of fiction, to not worry about real shit?

Perhaps there is some clandestine group of people out there working to make big change. So does that give us, as viewers, the right to dismiss the film as a “movie for children”? To become or remain cynical about real-world problems happening around us?

Or do we change our minds, even just the slightest bit, to think that the world isn’t on the edge of collapse?

Class Progression 1/3: Paladins

Throughout most of my gaming career, I played almost every classic character class under the sun, at least to some degree, in the majority of RPG’s out there. However, there were always certain classes to which I identified as “me,” the job, the career that I felt most represented who I, the Jesse, was and believed and went about life.

There are the archetypal roles in fantasy stories and games; the fighting warrior, the sneaky rogue, the scrutinizing mage, the stoic cleric. As other games came out over the ages, whether in my lifetime or otherwise, other playable classes emerged; things like rangers, paladins, monks, shamans, druids. Nothing here should be new to any experienced gamer, or roleplayer for that matter.

What I’m going to talk about today is how my preferences for certain classes changed as I aged. It came to my attention that there’s something of an arc happening here, as I mature(d). So let’s get right to it, eh?

In short, when I was young, I loved fighters, which eventually bled into paladins. After that, I became fascinated by the samurai, which led to monks, then eventually druids. These days, I favor the bard. It’s been quite the path.

During the earlier part of my life, I had a rosier look on things. I look back and recall that religion was never a central part of family life. I did not believe in a god because it was the tradition to follow, but because the concept was there and it’s something a small-minded child can easily grasp. I can’t say if this, a thing I can only describe loosely as “faith,” affected my decision-making when it came to choosing the character class I played as in games. I’ve known people like that; folks who played only paladins because they were, in life, so religious they could not even put themselves in the shoes of a nonfaithful.

Such people frighten me.

No, rather, I think it was the absence of real faith in my life that lead to my fascination with paladins at an early age. There is something that interests me, to this day, about a warrior who is no mere devotee (i.e., priest or cleric), but the closest thing to a mortal made into a weapon for a deity. Surely there are examples of this in both historical and modern concepts that are regrettably and profoundly stupid, but in a fantasy setting, where gods actually exist, this is big stuff.

I first came to practice the idea of a paladin while playing Diablo (the first one from 1996, not Diablo 2 in 2000, where an official paladin class was introduced). In Diablo, I played the warrior, and consumed as many tomes of Holy Bolt as I could find. At the time I thought turning the warrior into a “holy knight” was the coolest thing ever, even though in that particular game this decision would not be considered effective. But effective wasn’t the point; I loved it, I loved the concept.

https://redamnesia.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/f0fbf-diablooverlord.jpg

Hold on guys, lemme just dupe this Glorious Platemail of the Stars and I’ll be right with ya.

The sound, the feeling of drawing energy from a source beyond, a true source of good, a holy source… this is what I’ve come to understand was, and may still be, one of my deepest desires in life. I am not a man of faith. Heck, I’m not even spiritual.

But I almost envy those who believe, because they have a certain sense of assurance that I will never have. Being spiritual is interesting to me, though it is not me; not anymore. You will much more likely see me subscribe to Buddhism or shamanism/animism than anything else. We’ll get into that later.

Yet still, there remains a certain part of me that thinks, with a mental sigh, “It must be nice to feel one’s place in the universe assured by a cosmic being.”

Naturally, I played Paladin a lot in Diablo 2. But the most defining moment for my exposure to what paladins could be, what they meant, was in one of the most influential fantasy RPGs I’ve ever played.

No, not Cecil from Final Fantasy 4. No, not Arthas from Warcraft 3.

I’m talking about the paladin class from Baldur’s Gate (1998). I can’t say I played the class to its fullest potential, but I did rock that game, and I had a blast doing it; the paladin provided a single-use heal – which in that game was kinda hard to come by – among a couple of various spells that were not so much deity-fueled, but morally fueled. Spells like Detect Evil and Protection From Evil were real things, and to this day I think the Dungeon’s & Dragons description of Evil is the most well thought-out, at least in terms of storytelling.

But what had the greatest effect on me, personally, was the Baldur’s Gate paladin spell Holy Might. Activating this not only provided nifty bonuses, but a rocking sound effect that I can hear in my ears even now, almost fifteen years later. A sort of baleful, angelic warcry that, I imagine, is among the last things you ever want to hear before someone puts a sword through your skull. That one spell, that one effect … that one sound … defined what a paladin is to me.

To this day, I have been unable to locate that sound byte from the original game. When I do, you can be it will be safely stacked away with the others, possibly used as the alert sound for some kind of notification.

There was a paladin character named Bjornin in Baldur’s Gate, who acted as a quest-giver, and to bring him to your attention a scripted NPC would approach the player and complain about him. “He’s just staring at me. From across the (tavern) room. It’s like he’s judging me. Who gives him the right to judge anyone, eh?”

Well, in fact, a god somewhere, actually. A god that exists. And a good one, for that matter, because a paladin is not a paladin unless s/he remains Lawful Good, which is arguably the most boring of alignments, but certainly as Good as they get. Breaking that rule results in becoming a Fallen Paladin, at least according to D&D (I’ve yet to encounter a game where this has also happened, save perhaps Arthas from (World of) Warcraft, but Blizzard’s definition of paladinhood is vague and flimsy at best), which would essentially result in a disgraced being, reduced to a “normal” mortal for falling out of favor of their god, stripped of their power.

All this remains fascinating to me, but as I grew, my preference for such a class changed.

Next time, I’ll talk about the aspects of Eastern-styled fantasy warriors garnered my favor, as I went through a metamorphosis of my own.

Today’s music is brought to you fittingly from Baldur’s Gate, which will be mentioned again in future posts (though I promise not so excessively). This tracks is known as The Lady’s House, a bit that plays when entering certain temples in game. It’s a short piece, and in fact is not something I normally listen to except when in a very specific mood.

That mood? Something along the lines of a peaceful fantasy, letting my brain briefly drift into a state, into a world, where there are in fact anthrocentric self-serving deities out there looking out for us.

And then I come back to the real world. But it’s nice to dream.

The Fall (2006) Review

As a regular listener of the Fantasy Fiction podcast, it’s always nice to hear opinions and suggestions of people I never met, but who share interests and enthusiasms with yours truly. Enter a movie recommendation, which was suggested long ago by one Dominic, co-host/creator of the podcast: The Fall.

Short Version: See it, but only if you can really sit and absorb it. This isn’t something to watch next to chatty friends or with kids running around.

The Fall is a fantasy movie to be sure, which is what immediately got my attention. I had never heard of the film until then (I type my blogs via printing press in a cave), and though chronologically the episode mentioning The Fall was … months ago, at least … I only recently got a hold of it and, as of this post, finished watching it about thirty minutes ago. Needless to say, it’s fresh in my mind.

To put this movie in the fantasy genre would be most apropros, but it may not be what you think when the word “fantasy” comes to mind. We’re not talking gifted adolescents with forehead scars, magic spells or mythical creatures – common tropes for anything worth reading if you ask me. Nay, we’re talking more along the lines of The Cell (which is next on the list of supposedly artsy movies I’ll be viewing shortly) and Hero. We’re talking sweeping landscapes, powerful use of color (I really kept thinking about Hero for most of this) and a plot that has a little going on under the surface.

Keeping spoilers in mind, this is more of a “you should go see this and judge for yourself” rather than a “this is why I didn’t like it” type post. The plot involves a hospitalized man named Roy, bedridden on account of an accident that may have paralyzed him from the waist down, who tells a series of stories – Scheherazade style – to a little girl recovering from a broken arm. Bits and pieces of the real world plot are revealed in snaps between the fantasy plot, and there’s a little Wizard of Oz sense happening where some characters appear to be inspired by people in the hospital or in Roy’s life.

What makes this movie are the visuals, without a shadow of a doubt. Re: Hero (seriously, if you don’t know which one that is, check it out). But I gotta admit, there were a few moments that had me reaching for tissues.

Nah, I’m just foolin’. I used the collar of my t-shirt while pretending I have something stuck in my eye like a real man.

All in all, you should watch this movie if you enjoy:

  • dual-plots
  • stunning imagery
  • rag-tag teams made up of international heroes
  • memorable, distinct characters
  • stories that help you get over a break-up/loss
  • imaginative costumes, landscapes, locales and props

I found very little to criticize about this movie. It has a foreign taste to it, which to me is refreshing, because I’ve since lost patience for many Hollywood films. At times it might have been a little hard to follow, though – as written over at Rotten Tomatoes:

More visually elaborate than the fragmented story can sometimes support, The Fall walks the line between labor of love and filmmaker self-indulgence.

…and as such I’d guess that this one isn’t for everybody. It certainly was for me, though, apparently enough to go run and write a review about it.

Cheers, and happy writing, dear readers.

Catechization

So I love this word in part because it’s uncommon and has excellent fantasy-setting usage. It also happens to sound similar to carbonization, a good old spell I used to use in my Magic: The Gathering days.

 

Anyway, completely unrelated, catechization is, in its traditional form, the “education” of a person in the ways of religion. Looking up the word, it seems to have an association with Christianity, but as a well-bred heathen it may as well apply to any form of religion, as far as I’m concerned. But I like to stretch it further, and for the topic of today, I’m merely musing on the catechization of the next generation in other matters.

Much in the same way that I am curious to one day see generations of elders hovering about with tattoos all over themselves, listening to “classic music of their youth” from the 1990’s the way elders today listen to ancient recordings of antiquity, I am very curious to see how more recent generations are gonna turn out with Gamer Parents. The Millennials, as they’re called, are people who are essentially younger than the internet, and it is interesting (to say the least) to witness the effects of this on modern society.

But what I’m getting at more today is the media to be consumed, the good old movies and videogames that settled twenty and thirty-somethings hail as their favorites, which for many of them (us…) would include movies of the eighties and up. As of this post, I don’t have a sprout-clone of my own bouncing on my knee or gnawing at my heels, but some close family of mine does. My nephew is working on his third year in this realm, and watching his evolution through occasional windows of visitation has had me thinking. The same goes for my niece, who will be a year in a month, and their parents are Gamers, lovers of fantasy and science fiction and lots of stuff in between.

At this stage, the kids are barely reaching sentience, let alone sapience, so I wager it’ll be a few years before their catechization will commence in full, and it will be thorough indeed. I have already heard talk of showing them more recent films (such as Pacific Rim, which I’ll tell you I liked, but there’s next to nothing to tell story-wise), once they are finally old enough to grasp what’s happening, so for now it’s Tony the Tiger and Laurel & Hardy.

I know that The Dark Crystal is on the list. I know, maybe when my nephew (or both) reach their teens, Conan the Barbarian will be not far behind. Things like The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, The Beastmaster… well, maybe not The Beastmaster. But there’ll be a pile of games to supplement this, and it’s that part that I find more interesting, because in most of us can simply sit through a movie and forget it later. It’s a bit harder to muscle one’s way through a game unless you like it, and whether my niece and/or nephew will reject video games or embrace them has yet to be seen.

Heck, I even wonder (because it’s more fun to wonder instead of simply ask them) whether plans are in place to catechize my niece and nephew with 8-bit games first, and as they level up, they’ll gradually progress to 16-bit, and so on.

But honestly, I find it more interesting to sit back and watch. There’s more suspense to the story that way.

Badass Evolution

So some of you may have heard the latest bits regarding crocodiles learning to climb trees. Apparently this has been reported in the past, but never really took hold and spread in the public consciousness/media.

The crocs do it more likely to bask in the sun than to hunt though; as predominantly aquatic reptiles, though they might be able to get themselves up a tree, they’re not really equipped for lashing out and grabbing things like birds and inquisitive tourists, unless they’re willing to take the fall on the way, and I don’t see that happening. Anything with a mouth can bite, sure sure, but it’s not like crocodiles suddenly learned to do this anyway.

Here I am speaking like some biologist trying to calm down the masses from the brink of panic. Honestly, I just like animals, and the fact that I happen to be visiting Florida at the end of this week seems to be most apropos.

So here’s to some of the oldest, biggest, and most ferocious reptiles in the world. I’m grateful they’re not the saltwater variety down near Orlando.

The flash of tree-climbing crocodiles, though, brings up an interesting story-telling concept. Take it as a writing prompt, if you will, but the idea of a creature that everyone can recognize and name (the discrepancy between alligators and crocodiles notwithstanding) seemingly doing something unexpected is just a story waiting to happen. What’s next, apes being capable of language?

Oh wait.

What unexpected animal behavior would you love to see? Better yet, what unexpected animal behavior would you write about?

 

Concept: Random Encounters

An element commonly used in stories, in general, is the random encounter.  This is what adds spontaneity to a narrative, and is usually the reason for things happening in the first place.

The random encounter is why peasant boys get tied up in princely politics, or why otherwise peaceful times are disrupted. In many video games, this is simply a mechanic used  to insert action and a means of garnering experience points or money, and in novels it can be used to expand the pages. The well-written ones are either A) those coming from out of left field, or B) those we saw coming, but weren’t sure how.

Take the journey of a caravan along a lengthy route, or perhaps a group of adventurers on their way to complete a quest. In such an event, any unforeseen obstacle along the way, particularly those involving bandits, monsters, or even a natural disaster, might present itself. It is the duty of the author to show meaning in these encounters; otherwise, there is an argument that they contribute nothing to the plot.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Adversity and obstacles are what make life life, and often enough, they serve no obvious purpose. In most any given day, a person will experience a long succession of forgettable moments that did nothing (visibly) to affect them. Minutiae will shape us, to be sure, but this does not make for good writing. It makes for boring text. How many of you remember (any of) those random encounter battles in [Insert_Serialized_RPG_Here]?

I too have fallen prey to this – writing encounters for the sake of encounters, because writing “…and they made it across the desert,” simply would not do. Or worse, because of NaNoWriMo or otherwise, trying to expand one’s word count. I’ll never forget a sequence in a certain line of novels about a certain famous dark elf where a horde of trolls was encountered in a swamp; I remember, even in the throws of enjoyment while exploring this novelist’s rendition of a familiar world, what the point of the sequence was. There was expansion for the sake of expansion, and this can be proven through by asking one’s self this:

Is the scene there because it provides foreshadowing, character development, or otherwise something else that moves the plot along?

Does the story suffer if the sequence were to be cut out via a certain Russian razor I’m fond of invoking?

Or is it there simply because you like it?

What inspired this post was in fact a random encounter in my own life; meeting up with an old High School friend after nigh ten years of, well, not communicating, was an experience both enriching and uplifting. It was not another forgettable event in an otherwise less than remarkable narrative, but something that rekindled memories and spurred a bit of on-the-fly creative juice for a certain blog post.

How’s that for random?