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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On Sketching White Alligators

They're called Leucistic Gators for a reason: this rare species has even less skin pigmentation than albino alligators. Lacking pigmentation makes direct sunlight harmful to them. Hence, they are kept in a environmentally-controlled enclosure at Gatorland.

It's interesting how artificial lighting affects our vision. The interior lighting seemed to imbue the Leucistic gator with color, as does the water he bathed in the day I sketched him (see yesterday's post). So I tried to imbue the gator in my sketch with that coloring. Oh, and I made two mistakes: 1) I gave my gator brown eyes, when Leucistic Gators, as a species, all have blue eyes; and 2) I couldn't get the dark water right, so he ends up looking like he's laying on grass instead. 

This photo, taken from our previous visit, gives you an idea of how colorful he looked while relaxing on the wooden deck.

Notice anything else? In the photo, the deck looks green. Yet when I sat there sketching, the deck looked light blue, without a hint of green. Strange, huh?

If and when I return to Gatorland, I'd be interesting to sketch the Leucistic Gators again. Perhaps I'll get closer to drawing them as they really are, color-wise. (Or lack-of-color-wise). In any case, if I want to see them, I'd better hurry up. There are only thirteen known Leucistic Alligators in the world, and none of them are female. But at least Gatorland has four of them, which gives me a good chance of seeing one upon my (potential) return.

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Behind Blue Eyes (a short documentary on Leucistic Alligators)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Leucistic Gators of Gatorland

While on vacation, it's tempting to flit from attraction to attraction, never spending more than the minimum amount at any. After all, there's so much out there to see, right? But my wife and I have visited Gatorland before, and on this trip, we wanted to spend more time there. For a little more than the price of a single-day ticket, we purchased an annual pass. It gave us the option of coming back again, and as an added bonus, we also saved money on food and in the gift shop. 

On our second visit, the weather was cold. So we hung out inside the White Gator exhibit, and enjoyed sketching our reptilian friends. There we learned that the White Gators are not Albino, but called Leucistic Gators. This term has to do with the reason behind their lack of pigmentation, but the only obvious difference is that these White Gators had colored eyes, whereas those of an Albino would be pink.

It was interesting to study our White Gators, and as other visitors stopped by, they even asked us questions about them. As my wife had read the signs, she handled the latter like a seasoned professional. But then, I have a high regard for her advice and counsel. 

After awhile, it was time to leave our new friends, as my wife wanted to warm up, and catch the Gator Wrestling show. So we left it to other human visitors to keep the White Gators of Gatorland company, and celebrate the holidays with them. 

But then, who wouldn't jump at the chance of spending some quality time with this adorable little fellow?

Dragon Dave

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Gators of Gatorland

At Gatorland in Florida, you'll see:

1) Lounging Gators,

2) Festive Gators,

3) Resting Gators,

4) Tasty Gators,

5) Gator-buddies, and

6) Bird-Loving Gators.

All of this begs two questions:

1) Do I naturally put alligators at their ease? Or...

2): Are the Gators at Gatorland just happy to see me?

Dragon Dave

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Dragon of San Diego Airport

Hulk: Hulk want to fly off for holidays. Not watch other planes go by.
Spider-Dalek: Don't worry, Big Guy. Soon it'll be...say, what's the commotion?

Hulk: Hulk see nothing. Hulk get angry. Hulk want to be only Big, Green Guy on flight!
Spider-Dalek: Hey, keep the Christmas spirit. Besides, there's always going to be someone bigger and greener than you.

Hulk: No one bigger or greener than Hulk, not even dragon. Hulk smash dragon!
Spider-Dalek: What can I say, folks? Spidey did his best to make this a relaxing, nonviolent Christmas vacation.

Hulk & Spider-Dalek

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Evocative Christmas Ornaments

This year, we didn't decorate the house until the week before Christmas. With our busy schedule, we debated whether we should even bother. But ultimately, we did, and the process of setting up the tree reminded me of some people who had once been very special to us.

A few years ago, my wife and I made some animal-shaped ornaments, and gave them out as presents to young couples in our Sunday School class. One couple, whom we had grown close to, couldn't make it that Sunday, so we took it by their house. They were intelligent, charismatic people, with two young children continually bursting with energy. 

But appearances can be deceiving, and no one, not even talented individuals with telepathic abilities, can predict the future. As time passed, we learned that they continually argued with each other. At first, these arguments didn't seem important. But over time, it grew clear that neither was happy with the other. Eventually, she asked him for a divorce. He asked her to stay with him for the sake of their children. 

In the United States, no person can force another to remain married to someone they no longer love. So she pursued the divorce, and he reluctantly accommodated her desire to ensure joint-custody of the children. In our conversations, he asserted that, had he lived in a country that required both parties agree to the divorce, he would have refused her request. But he didn't, so he decided to end their marriage amicably. 

She hooked up with her BFF, a young woman with two children who was also extricating herself from a failed marriage. Meanwhile, he maintained that he would never marry again, that it was wrong to remarry, regardless of fault or circumstance. Then, he joined the Catholic Church, and met a beautiful young woman with three children from a previous marriage. A priest there told him he could get an annulment and marry again, that it would be okay to do so. After investigating Catholic teachings on this matter, he concluded that the priest was correct, that he and his wife had never truly been married in the eyes of God. So he sought an annulment, and married for the second time.

For a variety of reasons, we lost touch with these intelligent, charismatic people. So I don't know what happened to the ornament we made for them, or if either of them still have it. But wherever they are, and whatever they are doing, I hope they're happily and harmoniously celebrating Christmas with the special people in their lives.

I'm glad I took the time to decorate the house for Christmas this year.

Dragon Dave

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

J Michael Straczynski & Robert Silverberg: Lend a Helping Hand

Gray says:
Maybe I should start my own version of PsiCorps.
You know, to help my fellow Daleks.

In J. Michael Straczynski's TV series Babylon 5Psi Corps monitors and controls everyone with telepathic abilities. Its members regard Psi Corps as their true mother and father, because of the mentors who educated and trained them in their youth. As a result, they were able to properly employ their powers build decent lives for themselves, and to also serve others. Unlike Talia, David Selig has no career or job satisfaction, and no friends or anyone to love. David Selig thus serves as an example to us all, of someone who had a tremendous talent, but failed to properly build upon it. But this is a common failing, and only makes him all the more human. Often, the reason we end up off-track and lost, is because we have great talents and abilities, and are seeking to utilize them to fulfill a great dream. 

The biographies of most truly great people testify that, at one point or another, they had to spend a few years in the wilderness, until they found themselves, and discovered a way to get back on course. So if you find yourself wandering and lost, remind yourself that there are no straight paths to success. Practice patience, and refuse to give up. 

Oh, and amid your wanderings, show pity to others. People like David Selig in Robert Silverberg's novel Dying Inside, may be totally confused about what path they should have followed in the first place, and what destination they should have chosen for themselves. If you can, give them a helping hand now and then. After all, we all get a little lost sometimes. 

Yes, even during the holidays.

Dragon Dave

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Robert Silverberg on Ruthless Ambition

Gray Dalek says:
Come on, David.
Show me your ruthless streak.

In Robert Silverberg's novel Dying Inside, David Selig feels isolated and alone. Purposeless, he drifts along, in the hopes of eventually finding a real career. Even more, he dreams of finding someone who truly loves him. 

It wasn't always this way. There were times that he felt like he had firmly grasped hold of friendship and love. While working as a researcher for a professional writer, he met Toni, a junior editor at the author's publishing house. David looked into Toni's mind, learned that she was attracted to him, and employed all his charm. The mad passion of their seven week love affair only makes their breakup all the more devastating. He gave her his heart and soul...and she left him. 

And then there was Tom, a man David regards as the "the least neurotic person he ever knew." Tom is a pure predator. He doesn't simply latch onto people's minds for the simple pleasure of riding along, but raids their minds, and uses what he learns for his advantage. He uses the information he gleans from businessmen to make inspired investments in the stock market. He lives comfortably on the proceeds of his investments, enjoying a string of one-night stands with beautiful women, without a thought of contributing to the world or bringing joy to others. For a time, Tom functions as David's friend, and when David insists upon working, Tom scans the minds of those in Wall Street and finds David a job. But David's mind isn't built around numbers and investments; he cares about Franz Kafka, Aldous Huxley, Fyodor Doskeyevski, and all the other great writers whose stories have become a part of his life. Really, he should have decided to become an educator during his university years. He would have been a wonderful college professor.

If David had been a ruthless predator, willing to use and then discard others, he could have made his life into anything he wished. But because he is completely selfless, he ends up being a servant and tool of others. His example suggests that, while it is fine to love and serve others, a small measure of ambition and ruthlessness is sadly necessary to make your way in the world.

Dragon Dave

Monday, December 22, 2014

Robert Silverberg on Getting Your Life Back On Course

Eton College has formed and shaped
some of England's greatest leaders. 

What do you do when you realize that you've gotten off-track? Your first inclination is obvious: just get back onto your desired course, right? But what if every effort you make to steer yourself back toward the road leads you down a false path, and you end up back in the wilderness again? How can it be that you've gotten so lost, when the way ahead seemed so clear?

For David Selig, in Robert Silverberg's novel Dying Inside, life seems to have veered wildly off-course. Because he was able to read other peoples' minds, he knew what those around him were feeling and thinking. He could anticipate their reactions, and structure his interactions with them accordingly. Yet he ends up friendless, and earning his living by ghostwriting term papers for students at his old university. You can bet he didn't plan on that happening!

People may not know that he can read minds, but the way he interacts with them usually puts them on edge, at least in the long term. He's had friendships, lovers, and jobs, but none of them lasted. Perhaps it would have been better had he announced to the world that he could read minds: at least then he would have been a celebrity, perhaps a prized talent utilized by the government. But he always feared the other possibility more, that people would revile him for his gift, and that he would end up an experimental lab rat. It's difficult to fault his logic, as his sister Judith, the one person he tells--or at least, the single nontelepath he tells--ends up hating him as a result. So, while he can immerse himself in the lives of everyone around him, he only ends up feeling more alone.

If only he had spent more time developing other abilities, instead of merely exploiting the gift he was born with. 

Dragon Dave

Friday, December 19, 2014

Rainstorms and Rice Krispy Squares

Last week, a storm blew through San Diego, replacing my normal sunny weather with two days of rain. On the second day, when I brought my lunch plate into the kitchen, I noticed the rain had stopped, but it looked as though my back yard sat amid a cloud. The subdued light brought out all the colors in my back yard, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Then I made up my dessert: tapioca pudding mixed with wheat bran and topped with whip cream, apple slices, a Rice Krispy square with candy corn, and a small handful of Cookie Crisp cereal. I'd share them with you, but if you're interested in the Rice Krispy squares, you'd better hurry. They're going quick.

Dragon Dave

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Robert Silverberg on the Cost of Telepathy

Gray Dalek says:
I like Robert Silverberg stories,
but please, no more talk of dying.

In his novel Dying Inside, Robert Silverberg suggests that no gift comes without cost. During David Selig's teen years, he finds it difficult to enter into relationships with others. He falls in love with the most beautiful girl at high school, but she dismisses him as a geek. Well, why should be bother to overcome his teenage awkwardness, and work to build a relationship with another, when none of his fellow students can hope to achieve the perfection of the girl he adores? Isn't it easier, perhaps even better, to visit the mind of his perfect goddess, and experience everything she thinks and feels during her intimate interludes with the young men she allows into her life?

As David Selig matures, he uses his mind-reading ability to read attractive women, to anticipate their moods and desires, and he says and does the right thing to gain entrance to their bedrooms. Sometimes these romances amount to no more than a casual fling, while other times they persist past their initial entanglement. Yet none of them last, as neither David nor the women he hooks up with find a foundation capable of securing lasting satisfaction with the other.

While David lives in the hope of meeting the right woman, he channels his love of reading into a university degree in literature, and assists academics and students with their studies. But the happiness and stability that others attain elude him. As he ages and matures, he yearns to build something meaningful and lasting with his life. Worryingly, he cannot read minds as ably as he did in his youth. He has trouble picking up on others thoughts and emotions, and retaining his hold on their minds once he's made contact. This ability to read minds is what makes him special, and the ability he's prized above all, yet it seems to be slipping away from him. What will he do if it goes away entirely? How will he carry on without his strongest personal asset? Can he even survive without this ability? Or like Talia Winters, will he become someone else entirely?

Sometimes we find that the abilities we seek to master, and the goals we strive to achieve, provide less satisfaction than we had imagined. Most of us would imagine that David Selig's ability to read other peoples' minds should have made him a god among men. Instead it diminishes his life, and distances himself from others. So maybe it wouldn't be so great to know what everyone was thinking all the time.

Dragon Dave

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Robert Silverberg on the Pleasure of Vicarious Experiences

Can you guess what this bird is thinking?

In his novel Dying Inside, Robert Silverberg offers us a different vision of how psychic abilities might affect our lives. His protagonist, David Selig, grows up knowing exactly what his parents think of him, and uses this ability to get his own way with them. Well, not quite. Because he seems so quiet and insular, they send him to a psychiatrist, a Freudian who places great import in dreams and fixations. In order to make the man happy, David tells the man what he expects. Yet the psychiatrist surprises him by advising his parents that their son needs more socialization. He should have a sibling.

His parents try for many years, and when biology seems forever fixed against them, they reach out to society and adopt a baby girl. As David has always enjoyed their full attention, he resents her presence, and ignores her as best she can. But unlike their parents, as his sister matures, she begins to suspects the reason he's so adept at reading her moods and anticipating her actions. When she finally accuses him of being able to read her mind, he's so shocked he does the one thing he's never done before: he admits that he can peer into other peoples' minds. She pushes him away, compares what he has done to her with rape, and tells him that she will hate him forever.

As a child and teen, David loved nothing more than to find his own quiet space. He lays down, closes his eyes, and reaches out mentally, and "listens" for new and interesting minds. When he finds one, he latches hold of it, and rides it for a time, thinking the person's thoughts, and feeling his or her emotions. Unlike reading, his second-favorite pastime, this is no vicarious experience. He really is accompanying them in their lives, and gaining an enhanced understanding his world. His ability is not limited to his fellow Humans. He can tap into the mind of an animals, and see or smell the world with the species' enhanced visual or olfactory senses. He can sink into the consciousness of a bird or insect, and feel the sheer exhilaration of flight.

Regardless of whether or not I could read other people's minds, it'd be cool to experience flight from a bird's perspective. Don't you agree?

Dragon Dave

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

J. Michael Straczynski on Reading People's Minds Part 2

Gray Dalek says:
Give Mr. Garibaldi a chance, Talia.
He likes you.

In J. Michael Straczynski's TV series Babylon 5, we meet a beautiful blonde telepath, Talia Winters, when she reaches the space station. She uses her abilities to oversee business transactions, question criminals, and help others. Her PsiCorps training allows her to selectively shut out all the voices of nearby "normals," nontelepaths who can't help but broadcast their thoughts and emotions. Had she not learned this crucial ability, the constant assault of these radiated thoughts and feelings would have driven her mad. Even with her training, she finds it difficult to enter into any sort of relationship with a nontelepath. Even loving another telepath is problematic and worrying. So she clings to the memory of a psychic she had loved long ago, knowing how the toll of entering into a romantic relationship with another psychic--lowering all her mental defenses, and experiencing all her partner's feelings and emotions--requires a higher than she is willing to pay.

Then an agent from PsiCorps visited Babylon 5, and used his psychic abilities to rip aside all of Talia's defenses. Suddenly Talia Winters hates all the friends she's made on the space station, and despises all nontelepaths. She had always been someone else, it seemed: researchers in PsiCorps had implanted an imaginary consciousness in her mind. The Talia they knew had only been a veneer, an actor playing the role of the ultimate spy, someone who utterly believed her new identity and did not suspect that a darker personality hid behind her, watching and waiting for the right time to cast aside this mental mask and regain mastery of their body.

Superhero movie fans are already looking forward to the release of "Captain America 3: Civil War" in 2016. Comic book fans have often wondered how Tony Stark could side with the government and order all mutants and those with superhuman powers to register with the government. J. Michael Straczynski, who has long written for Marvel Comics, is under no illusions about the dangers of blindly trusting others to right by its citizens. He knows the dangers of blindly trusting others. But then, he constantly had to fight the networks to keep his show on the air. If only he could have read the network executives' minds. Then he would have better known how to appease their desires, and Babylon 5 sequel series and spinoffs might still be on TV.

Oh, and if you've got latent psychic abilities, don't tell me about them. After all, I already know your secrets. 


Dragon Dave

Related Dragon Cache entries
Talia Winters' Plight

Monday, December 15, 2014

J. Michael Straczynski on Reading People's Minds Part 1

Gray Dalek says:
Listen. I'm projecting my thoughts to you.
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me now?

Scientists and Science Fiction writers have often speculated on the capabilities of the human mind. They've wondered if abilities like telepathy lay dormant in the brain, just waiting to be unlocked. Wouldn't it be great, they asked, if you knew what people were going to say before they said it? Wouldn't that be a useful skill? 

Most of the time we don't say what we're really thinking. Sometimes, we're just being kind and thoughtful, and repress our reactions because we don't want to hurt our friends. Then again, sometimes "friends" lie to us, and sometimes we don't learn the truth until years later. Wouldn't it be great if you could read other people's minds?

In his TV series Babylon 5, creator J. Michael Straczynski foresees a future in lots of people demonstrate psychic ability. Eventually this number grows so large that Earth's government passes laws to regulate individuals with psychic or telepathic abilities. Anyone identified with such abilities must enlist in a governmental agency called Psi Corps, be properly trained, and agree to abide by a strict code of conduct. These laws protect the privacy of nontelepaths, and prevents those with psychic abilities from preying on "normal" people. But they also help those with psychic or telepathic abilities to perform useful roles in society, and live a somewhat normal existence.

So if you're hearing voices, and you're not sure where they're coming from, you might very well be a telepath. But don't rush down to your government office and join PsiCorps. At least, not until you read tomorrow's post.

Dragon Dave

Related Dragon Cache entries
John Vornholt's Mars Novel

Friday, December 12, 2014

Breaking Out the Christmas Plates

Red: I'm glad you finally decided to break out the Christmas plates. They make Master's breakfast look so colorful and Red, Red RED!
Christmas Tree: Yes, and my olfactory sensors are overloading on the aroma from this apple fritter.

Red: Look! Master was so overwhelmed with our breakfast, he gave us this little squash to share, after we cook the big one for him.
Christmas Tree: That's the holiday spirit for you. It promotes generosity, and Exterminates, Exterminates, EXTERMINATES selfishness!

Red: My only concern is that Master is eating too healthy. Aside from this half-burger, his plate is loaded with vegetables.
Christmas Tree: Yes, as our purpose is to Exterminate, Exterminate, EXTERMINATE humans, this poses some difficulty.
Red: Perhaps we should seek to Dominate, Dominate, DOMINATE him instead.
Christmas Tree: Good plan. How can we achieve our objective?

Red: By overwhelming him with holiday sweets and treats?
Christmas Tree: Excellent plan. I think he'll find this cranberry white chocolate cookie an overwhelming temptation. By the time we've finished with him, he'll be our devoted slave.
Red & Christmas Tree: Enslave all Humans! Appeal to their weaknesses, and by New Years Day, we shall be the MASTERS OF EARTH!!!
Christmas Tree: Before we serve this cookie, do you think Master would mind if we had a nibble?
Red: I don't see why not. It's not as if one small flavor assessment could lead us, the superior species, to devour the entire cookie.

Red & Christmas Tree Dalek

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Constantine's Supernatural Adventures Part 3

We visited Wales because we wanted to visit Portmoiron, the seaside resort where the 1960s TV series "The Prisoner" was filmed. We stayed in Llandudno because we wanted to explore Conwy Castle. We visited Holy Trinity Church because it was a beautiful church, and because it was raining so hard that Sunday that driving somewhere else didn't make sense. Now, having learned about Saint Asaph from an episode of "Constantine," we have another reason to visit Wales in the future. 

Taking Jesus down from the cross
on the wooden angel carved by Handel Edwards
in Holy Trinity Church, Llandudno.

At it's best, Constantine inspires and educates me. Unfortunately, the TV series has sometimes treated the supernatural lightly, focusing on spectacle over substance. Some episodes have focused on ratcheting up the action and inter-team, while retaining high levels of danger and graphic violence. They've stylized the colorful aspects of voodoo practices, and portrayed its practitioners like the stylish drug lord in "Miami Vice." We've seen John's incantations result in spectral explosions, his companion Zed's highly visual but unexplained visions, and silly team-up acts like John and his Voodoo opposite breaking into a vault in a graveyard. While they steal a body from a graveyard in full daylight (and no one says, "Hey, don't do that!"), in the next scene they are preparing to ritually burn the corpse in the dead of night. Such antics may look exciting, dramatic, and stylish onscreen, but they sap my interest in the series.

If you believe in positive aspects of the supernatural, such as God, then it naturally follows that you must believe in the accompanying negative aspects as well, such as the Devil and demons. These subjects should be treated carefully, with the seriousness and respect they deserve. They're not cool or fun, silly or inconsequential. As John himself reminds us, dabbling in these areas can significantly injure us and others. 

So, as in all aspects of life, while I like the show, I also dislike some of the things it does. At least I have my cardboard print to remind me of what I like most about Constantine. Framing it presented some problems, as it measured-out at 10"x13." I finally found an inexpensive 13"x13" plastic frame with a 1' interior depth designed for displaying T-shirts. As eight screws spaced along the interior of its four sides connect the front to the back, I had to cut small holes for the screws on the top and bottom edges. Still, it doesn't look too bad on the wall, and when I grow tired of the print, I can unscrew the case and display one of my T-shirts. Perhaps one of my T-shirts featuring Rocket Raccoon.

In the meantime, this lively, colorful poster relates to a current interest of mine, of delving more into what makes Horror literature popular. Its imagery reminds me that any important story that resonates with a large number of people must combine seriousness with fun, spectacle with substance, and levity and inspiration. As in our lives, it's getting the mix right that remains the challenge, regardless of the medium in which the story is told. Otherwise, regardless of its initial popularity, stands a good chance of being shunted into an early grave by the constant flood of stories crafted by more talented storytellers.

Dragon Dave

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Constantine's Supernatural Adventures Part 2

During our visit to Llandudno, we worshipped in Holy Trinity Church. If I'm reading the Church of Wales website correctly, we could have visited another church in the city, and we would have been in the Diocese of St. Asaph. But it was raining that Sunday morning, and the wind gusts propelled us along the slick sidewalks like the insistent hand of God. So perhaps it's just as well we didn't try to venture any father from our lodging that day. 

Besides, the episode of the TV series Constantine that would awaken my interest in Saint Asaph would lie two years in my future. The series features John Constantine, an exorcist and master of the occult. He's aided by a woman with strange visionary powers, and an angel who occasionally advises him.

One of my favorite episodes so far suggested that the angel is actually John's guardian angel, and that he has watched over him all his life. His comments in that episode suggest that John's decision to investigate the occult was prompted by this the way in which his parents mistreated and abused him during adolescence. But John cuts the angel off before he can tell us more, as he doesn't want to get distracted from his current task. He wants to relieve a demon-possessed child from injuring others, and prevent the demon from fleeing to another troubled child. Unfortunately, time is not on his side. 

The Holy Trinity church had a beautiful interior, no doubt rivaling many cathedrals. One object in particular caught my attention. It came, curiously enough, in the shape of an angel.

This angel may look scary, as if it owes more to the occult than Christianity. But each portion of the angel contains intricate carvings to inspire worshippers, and bolster their faith.

Incredible, don't you think?

Dragon Dave

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Constantine's Supernatural Adventures Part 1

Visits to comic book shops sometimes pay unexpected dividends. Like free postcards advertising an interesting book or crossover series, or even the occasional movie poster. One day I picked up this cardboard print advertising the TV series Constantine. It's based on the DC comic of the same name, which enjoyed tremendous popularity in previous decades under the title Hellblazer. As the title suggests, this is a story delving into dark themes, and concerns battles involving the supernatural.

I also bought a comic that contained two stories, one from the new title, and an earlier Hellblazer. In both, John Constantine uses his knowledge of the occult to fight evil. These stories and the poster led me to watch the show. 

At their best, the episodes highlight the importance of respecting the supernatural. And there's a lot to like. There's an angel that periodically advises him. There are all the artifacts from his previous adventures, and the books he has studied to gain his mastery of the occult. John knows which supernatural forces inhabit particular geographic and cultural situations, as exemplified when he encounters Coblynau spirits in a Welsh mining town in Pennsylvania. In the same episode, he also recites a prayer to reveal whether a former pastor is human, or a spirit in disguise. When the pastor begins reciting it with him, and identifies the prayer as St. Patrick's Breastplate, John knows that he can trust the man, and perhaps rely on him to help combat the forces killing those working in the mines. It became a nice story about redemption and reclaiming one's faith, when the pastor takes up his calling again, and reopens his church at the end of the episode. 

Incidentally, the name of the pastor's church was St. Asaph. There's a town named after this sixth century Christian bishop and saint, and we probably drove past it unaware on our visit to Wales a couple years ago. As it happened, we spent a weekend in Llandudno, a mere twenty-five minute drive from St. Asaph, and could have visited the town, had Constantine been on the TV at that time. 

Llandudno is a charming seaside resort, one we'd revisit in a heart beat. 

If we venture back that way in the future, perhaps we can add St. Asaph to our itinerary.

Incidentally, I found Saint Patrick's Breastplate a really uplifting prayer. Like me, most Christians have prayed one small portion of it at one time or another in worship services, but are probably unfamiliar with it. It's worth reading in its entirety, for those of you so inclined.

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
The St Patrick's Breastplate prayer
Welsh Coblynau

Monday, December 8, 2014

Powering Through the Holidays

Iron-Dalek powers up the Christmas tree

At times, we all need a little help to get through each day. Some seek professional counseling, or prescribed medication. A more holistic approach is to seek out humor and inspiration to enlighten you spirit. One sure source is my wife's companion blog, Pocket Dalek and Friends. Last year, she featured a Dalek Advent calendar. This December, she's exploring the Twelve days of Christmas, Dalek-style. 

So before the load of responsibilities and To-Do Lists overwhelm you, check out Pocket Dalek and Friends. I prescribe regular doses of the Pocket Dalek and Friends to alleviate seasonal anxiety and stress. Following Pocket Dalek and Friends may not make the world a brighter place, but it can help you see it at its best, and for all it can be.

Banish your blues! 
Destroy your despondency! 
Massacre your melancholia, sadness, and gloom! 

Exterminate your bad attitudes!
Enlighten your holidays! 
Energize your days,
Pocket Dalek and Friends!!! 

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Daleks Make a TARDIS

Denim: You mean we can make our own TARDIS from paper?
Pocket: We don't have much choice, do we? Our cash reserves are at dangerously low levels after buying Christmas presents for everyone on Black Friday.
Denim: I guess not. But can a TARDIS built from such inexpensive construction materials safely navigate the time/space vortex?
Pocket: I don't see why not, provided we combine quality craftsmanship with generous quantities of fiendish cunning.

Denim: How come it's not bigger on the inside than the outside?
Pocket: Because I haven't built the dimensional stabilizers yet. Now stop fooling around and help me make the rest of the parts.

Denim: I can't wait to finish it. That nasty knitted K-9 refuses to let us use the TARDIS Master won in Brighton last year.
Pocket: Yes, I've put Traveling at the top of my fiendish New Year's Resolutions. Building our own TARDIS will be our ticket to independence!

Denim: Do we need this? Shouldn't we change it to read Daleks Only or something?
Pocket: No, part of my fiendish plan is that it will look like the Doctor's TARDIS. People will flock to see him when we materialize in exotic locales. Then we can exit and Exterminate them!
Denim: Ooh, that's fiendish. I get a ripple all along the inside of my dalekanium-yarn housing, just thinking about that.

Denim: Where shall we go first? My vote's for Tahiti. I hear it's a magical place.
Pocket: No way. With what's happening to Agent Coulson on "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD," any mention of that island sends a cold ripple all along the inside of my dalekanium-yarn housing!

K-9: Back away from that TARDIS. Daleks are not allowed to navigate the time/space vortex independently!
Denim: But we built it!
Pocket: Oh no! Master and Mistress must have anticipated my fiendish plans, and constructed a paper K-9 to keep us here!
K-9: I repeat: Back away now, or I will shoot you with the laser cannon in my nose!
Pocket: Curses! Foiled again!!

K-9 & the fiendish Pocket & Denim Daleks