On Heroes 1: The Importance of Being Funny

I love funny superheroes.

I’ve been writing out a lot of dry details– with some fun stuff mixed in– about funny heroes and their history, their meaning, their successes and (many many) failures for more than a week now.

Then I thought “what do they mean to me?”

Why do I love funny heroes? Why am I excited that we have so many of them?

Superheroes dominate pop culture in the U.S. today. How lucky did I get? My stupid obsession is culturally significant! Well, one of them– you probably don’t care about the Fairy Faith in the Celtic Counties as much as I do. And yeah, super people have been steadily taking over the media– well, television, movies, video games, and the internets– for the last several decades. Comic books were already conquered, of course, but also considered marginal and weird. Now, somehow, the success of their more motion-oriented brethren has made even 4-color pages filled with men in tights brawling… somewhat cool. So yes, a good time to be me.

In the last couple years, though, something bigger changed.

I’m not saying there was no humor in the early X-Men films; Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man had some great dorky fun throughout. Today, though, the majority of superhero films are comedies, featuring heroes who are champions but also colossal doofuses. I love Rocket Raccoon, for example– I have for decades. Never thought anyone else would remember the character, though… and while the lovable monster from Guardians of the Galaxy is considerably less of a hero– and has fewer jetpacks– than the funny animal freedom fighter I remember, it’s still thrilling to know that people know his name. These things that were orphaned and adored inside my head are finding new traction, new audiences, new love. Even Captain Carrot, the superhero rabbit I adored in 6th grade, found new life in Grant Morrison’s recent Multiversity series. When I spoke to the Captain’s creator, Scott Shaw!, at Comic-Con few years back he was working on a Captain Carrot mini-series that he thought would be the last we’d ever hear from the Captain and his Zoo Crew. But they live.

Cartoon physics never dies.

It’s not all beer and skittles, of course. I’ve never been a big Deadpool or Ant Man fan, and they’re probably the best known comedy heroes right now. I enjoyed their movies. I’m happy they’re out there doing their thing, paving the way for more funny stuff. Still, funny heroes were always cult favorites or complete failures– Herbie Popnecker, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, Terrific Whatzit, the original Red Tornado, the Sensational She-Hulk, Frog-Man, The Heckler, The Inferior Five, Darkwing Duck, Super Goof, Pureheart the Powerful, Howard the Duck, The Detective Chimp, Inspector Gadget– Okay, not Gadget. Gadget is the exception, not because he’s the best or worst. He just is. Gadget endures.

It feels like a confession, talking about these freaks affectionately. It’s like I’m coming out of the closet as a funny heroes fan; basically no one talked about these guys for my 40-odd years on Earth. Howard the Duck wasn’t mentioned in the last couple decades except as a sideswipe at George Lucas. It’s bizarre to be laughing at The Guardians of the Galaxy along with everyone else and not just because Charlie-27 is so damned funny-looking.

No joke, his known aliases in include "Chunky" and "Extra-Large."

No joke, his known aliases include “Chunky” and “Extra-Large.”

What changed?

Well, video games changed superheroes. Yes, there are plenty of great dark and savage superhero games out there– Batman’s Arkham Asylum franchise, Infamous, even God of War might count. That said, video games provided the template for goofy heroes very early in their development. Quite possibly the world’s best known character (according to Jeff Ryan’s Super Mario, well worth your time) is a pudgy plumber in overalls with the power to jump high (when he’s not racing go-karts). His descendants include bizarre but fun heroes like Earthworm Jim— a worm in a humanoid robot suit with the power to literally crack his slimy little body like a whip– Sonic the Hedgehog, Banjo and Kazooie, Bentley Bear, Parappa the Rapper, Rayman, Bub and Bob, Sackboy, Manny Calavera, Sam and Max (also the heroes of a less famous comic series), Kirby, Crash Bandicoot, Abe of Oddworld,  Guybrush Threepwood, and The Crimson Tape.

Like Indiana Jones, if self decapitation was a feature.

Like Indiana Jones, if self decapitation was a feature.

Video games showed millions of people that sure, it’s fun to be a badass, but it’s also fun to identify with a flawed or ridiculous hero. Heroes whose virtues are in their quick wits and absurd sensibilities, heroes who embrace or ignore their own flaws, appreciate the absurdity of their existence, and turn their weaknesses into strengths. You’ll notice that, just like in the case of funny comic book heroes, a lot of these characters are funny animals, and that their powers tend towards the “super farts” end of the spectrum. They are not the heroes we deserve but the heroes who won’t be too embarrassed to fight Purple Tentacle when he tries to take over the world.

This realization that it’s fun, even poignant, to be a super goofus is an important one for the zeitgeist. For me it’s important because, in spite of 30 years practicing kung fu, it’s a lot closer to the way I see myself. It’s the old problem of Superman or Galahad– in competent hands, a nearly flawless hero can be interesting– he can have secret flaws, flawlessness can become a flaw. I think it’s easier to appreciate Batman or Lancelot, though– heroes that make mistakes, feel pain and get their hands dirty. By this same virtue, it’s even easier for me to appreciate Howard the Duck– not at all super, a small, frustrated, reasonably smart, angry guy who can barely make a living and can’t have a conversation that doesn’t begin with “You’re– you’re a duck!” He’s depressed, mean, and half the time he’s hard to be around, and sometimes he only holds on by the skin of his teeth– and ducks don’t have teeth. He still never gives up, amazingly, and even though it’s a thankless job he saves the world– a world he never made– as often as it needs saving.

And then he runs for president.

And then he runs for president.

We need heroes who are halfway ridiculous, halfway losers. I think most of the smart people I know have spent more time than they should seeing themselves in exactly that light. That’s why people like a good underdog story, and that’s why it’s satisfying to see someone as ridiculous as Ant-Man holding his own in a fight with Tony Stark in Civil War— though he should’ve flooded the Iron Man armor with ants, just sayin’. And that’s why we need these heroes to remind ourselves that, losers or not, we can make a difference. We can win.

Who we definitely aren’t is Superman. It’s good to have aspirations and inspirations; as long as we don’t imagine that some hero– imaginary or otherwise– is going to save the world without any work on our part. Believing in the best in all of us is always worthwhile. We still aren’t Superman, though. We are Frog-Man, blundering into villains and never quite giving up. We are Deadpool, dark humor pouring out of every orifice as we sit in traction in a hospital bed. We are Howard, we are Darkwing, we are Ma Hunkel, we are Guybrush, we are Rocket.

When we are very very lucky, we are Groot.

On Madness 1/ On Guns 1/ On Death 1

I have a complicated relationship to guns. I don’t own any, currently, but I grew up around firearms– target shooting, skeet shooting, dove hunting. My father collects guns, has a huge safe full of guns that overflows into a small room that houses not only rifles, shotguns, and pistols but also ammunition, bayonets, sheath knives, hand axes, tonfa, kukri, bo staffs, ax handles, staves. My dad is a black belt in an obscure Chinese martial art. At his peak he could break six 1′ x 1′ x 1″ unseparated, dry pine boards with his bare hand, so the weird weapons make sense. My father’s weapons often have a pedigree– guns from WWI and WWII predominate– and he can tell you their history, their caliber, their bullets’ velocities and weights in grains. He used to load his own shells. He goes target shooting very occasionally, goes hunting maybe twice a year. He enjoys his collection quietly; if you show interest, he’ll happily show them to you, and he can talk for hours on this (or any other) subject.

I kind of wish he didn’t have the guns. Barring a zombie apocalypse, I don’t see anything good coming out of it and I can imagine some very bad scenarios. Without going into details, neither of my parents have had a perfect history with guns, lovely people that they are. And I know an expensive collection like the one in their basement makes them a target for thieves– armed thieves, I’d assume, or just my cousin with his tendency towards jail terms and bad company. He’s a gun collector too. I don’t think anything’s going to happen, but I don’t like it. My dad doesn’t go in for assault rifles, cannons, grenade launchers or the like, though. He is an officer of the court and has no criminal history; I figure he’d own the guns he owns even if there were a few gun ownership restrictions in place in this country.

Which, let’s face it, there aren’t. The few we have aren’t meaningful. No matter what day I’d written this in the last year, I could say that recent events prove this, and I’d be right. As it stands, the massacre in question was at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando. So there’s a catalyst for this essay.

More than one catalyst.

The other day, I was playing board games with some acquaintances– hopefully friends, in my new Left Coast home. The massacre had happened the night before. When one gentleman started complaining that politicians had the gall to talk about guns in the wake of a mass shooting. I politely asked him to stop talking politics and buy fake buildings for his fake suburb. After a couple false starts, he did, but he clearly resented my “restricting his freedom,” even though he understood that when people get killed by assault weapons emotions run high. If I’d wanted him to really understand my feelings about guns, I could have told him about my father, so he’d know I’d been taught to shoot when I was growing up, how to clean guns and store guns after firing them, to never point a gun I didn’t intend to fire.

And I could have told him about my friend C.

I’ve always hated the convention of replacing someone’s name with an initial, but I don’t think C’s family has fully explained what happened to their daughter/sister, and I respect their privacy. I also think her story deserves telling. Some of you might recognize the details. Let’s refrain from filling them in for the Internet’s benefit.

C was my friend from college. Always an odd bird (I am an odd bird, too) she was also smart and interesting to talk to; tall and beautiful, I was always flattered by her attention. She drank too much even for a college student– I was a teatotaler until after my 21st birthday, so I’m a poor judge… but it’s true– and she had a hunted quality to her that kept me from seeking out her company early and often. Still, we were friends, always happy to see each other and I liked her. I cared about her. She went on to get her PhD and I was proud of and happy for her. We emailed occasionally, friended each other of Facebook, lived far apart but kept in touch.

Her return to our home state seemed sudden. Her emails got very strange immediately before– references to an ex-boyfriend, to her father, to someone poisoning her, to a vast confusion that she was trying to run from that she always blamed on external forces. She said she’d called the police for help; she was furious they’d confiscated the pistol her father had given her.

We met over Christmas, hung out. It was good to see her, but something was off with every interaction. She couldn’t do her academic work anymore, couldn’t seem to concentrate. She floated between jobs, always needing help, food. She flirted with me outrageously, asked to meet my parents. I tried to keep my distance, but ended up introducing her to my family even as I avoided any other entanglements. Even though she had moved away from the home she thought was surrounded by secret intruders, her previous fear of mysterious stalkers and her father crept back into her life. Her behavior got stranger, coded with intense symbolism. She left sharp knives on her dining room table, so her imagined intruders would know they were not welcome. She forgot she’d hidden a knife in her car for self defense, was terrified that someone else had put it there. I recommended Tai Ch’i; she attended a couple classes. My old school’s sensei, a full-time airplane mechanic that I knew had harmlessly restrained much larger men at his workplace when they discovered his hobby, told me he was afraid of her after she lost control and slammed him into a wall. The eventual diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia made too much sense when it came. It broke C’s heart to know that I agreed with it. All she could hear was that I thought she was crazy. For the record, I thought she was ill and, because of her denial, hard to be around.

Listening to a show about a veteran with PTSD in a podcast this morning, I could hear C’s story too. Her illness was less about hallucination than complete forgetfulness, coupled with the terrible way a brain can fill in the details it has forgotten. In that podcast, I could hear the stress that having a brain that thinks it’s under attack gives you. I could hear the pain that comes with knowing that the world can turn into an attack at any moment, that meaning might slip away at any moment. The soldier’s story had two big things in common with C’s: a precipice and a gun.

In the soldier’s story– part of Snap Judgement’s “Voice of Reason” episode, so we’re clear– he has a friend nearby. He finds the strength to throw the gun off the cliff after his PTSD is violently triggered. C was alone, and her precipice was the highway overpass she hurled herself off of after a minor fender bender. She hit a woman’s car in a parking lot, and the lady lit into her. She just wanted to get away from the constant attacks she thought were always coming at her. Schizophrenia traumatizes a brain just as surely as military combat; it didn’t take much to set her off. When I spoke to her next she was trying to learn to walk again. I lived a couple hours away, and was a little bit afraid of her besides. She claimed to hate her family, lied about her problems to mutual friends, was terribly alone.

Always conscious of her appearance, C despaired when she started to gain weight because she couldn’t walk around. I was not there; I was in fact beginning the relationship that led to my marriage, my daughter– to this day, the best things in my life– spending 5 days a week with the woman who is now my wife. C had broken both of her legs, much of her spine. The pain was terrible. Her father and brother were both in law enforcement. They couldn’t stop giving her guns, taking them away again, giving her another one because she was so afraid and in their world guns cure fear. It wasn’t a relief or a surprise when I got the voicemail from her brother, saying I was on a list of people she’d asked to inform, my parents and I. There was no reasonable world where she should have had access to a gun, but she’d shot herself. Of course she had. I’ve imagined it many times, her tears or her cold certainty as she pulled the trigger. Sometimes I’m still angry about it. I hope it was over fast.

I don’t want to “take away people’s guns.” I don’t support gun control because of some abstract ideology, but because guns are too easy to find; they kill people. I’ve lost more friends to accidental overdose than to guns. Some of them I miss more than C. Still, as of this writing, there have been 186 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2016 alone. The year’s half over. Every time, there’re multiple people injured; there’s usually someone dead. When people talk about guns and the politics of guns, I think about C. Some people shouldn’t have guns, any guns at all. And yes, any change at all might cause new problems.

I’m done with the old problems. Bring on the new.

On Youth 1: Lydia speak

My daughter is almost 3 now. She’s quite a talker– a huge vocabulary, articulate and funny. But language is culture; culture has a lot of quirks.

For example, this sentence appeared this morning, living in a context all its own:

Lydia, spontaneously at the breakfast table:

“I’m gonna make a snowman and give him eyes and ears and nose and a head and a vulva and butt.”

I don’t think I could get away with that one.

Similarly, it’s funny when she says this:

Mustachios

She’s better at dad jokes then I will ever be.

Why so stupid, philosopher?

Humans live better lives with purpose than without. My purpose here is to share my thoughts on humanity, morality, and art while simultaneously reminding myself that arrogance is everyone’s problem. So yes, I have strong opinions. I also can maybe remember that my opinions are not the Word of God. The Grunt of my Personal Demiurge, maybe.

I’m not a philosopher by training. I have an MA in English Literature, which means I have studied the big Western philosophers. I wasn’t particularly good at it– I was too busy disagreeing with people like Nietzsche to listen to him– but the ideas aren’t alien to me either.

My Masters in Library Science carries a kind of philosophy with it; it’s less formal but it involves bibliophilia, freedom of knowledge, and the power of organization and information.

My knowledge of Eastern philosophy is more hobby-based. I’ve studied and practiced Southern Chinese kung fu and Tai Ch’i since I was twelve– more than 30 years. Semi-mystical kung fu styles come with their own philosophy lessons and reading lists, and I have an undergraduate’s/Hong Kong movie buff’s understanding of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Shintoism on top of that. My sifu (kung fu master) is an ordained Mohel and not shy about his roots; it’s safe to say some Hebrew philosophy crept in as well.

I’m Christian in a low-level, let’s-not-scream-at-people way; I’ve read my share of Christian philosophers (and heretics) as well. Who doesn’t like C.S. Lewis? Fantasy villains and rhetorical straw men, that’s who! Weirdos like Philip K. Dick got me interested in Gnosticism; Grant Morrison keeps me thinking about post-modern morality while enjoying the idea of chaos magic; Derrida is funnier than he gets credit for. I managed to make it more than halfway through Davidson’s Dictionary of Angels — the history of angelology is eye-opening– but I finished Briggs’ Encyclopedia of Fairies, the only reference text I’ve read cover-to-cover.

Philosophy’s more my hobby horse than my wheelhouse. But I have a lot of words that’ll probably tell you more about me than the world outside of Plato’s cave. Plus I like to talk about comic books and cartoons, so I’ll probably do that a lot.

We cool?

On Memory/Nostalgia 1: Is There Life in Oz?

This post is time-sensitive, so I’m putting it up before the site is really ready. So forgive my very basic website. As always, the perfect is the enemy of the ‘good enough’ as well as the good.

You may have heard the news. Oz has returned… for a limited time.

The Land of Oz was a theme park in the mountains of North Carolina, open from 1970 to 1980. Time and vandalism have taken their toll on the eerie recreations of the Judy Garland film, but its basic structure persists. The buildings, rides, sets are still there, strange and alone more than 90% of the year. It has been opened up to tourists since its closure– in the 1990s the cabins could be rented; tours have been available for special Beech Mountain events. Since 2012– maybe? It’s really hard to tell when this started, but it was following a 1970 park cast reunion in 2011– the park has hosted “Autumn in Oz” and was open for a weekend. Similar events have been scheduled since– in 2015 it was sold out, but also canceled due to a statewide state of emergency– hurricanes don’t really reach the mountains of NC, but I guess they were playing it safe… following the law… that kind of thing. Sadly, I only started looking into this when I was getting ready to leave the state of North Carolina for… an extended time, if not necessarily forever.

     And this summer the park is reopening for a short while. There will be tours of the park every Friday in June. Tickets go on sale the previous Monday; the park is accessible only by ski lift, so there is a $10 lift fee on top of the $12.50 park entrance fee. It’s still cheap. You should go. I can only urge you to go. I just moved to the state of Washington, so the odds are diminishingly small that I will make it this year. East Coasters can visit, though, and if you do please tell me about it. I have dim memories of my own trip to Oz, a child’s memories. In spite of the fact that the park is an obvious location for a low-budget horror film, I’ve always wanted to return. If you get the chance, then make the journey. You won’t forget the experience.

     I’m not sure how old I was when I traveled to the fairy country beyond the Deadly Desert– yes, I am a book nerd, so if you feel like you’re missing a reference, just assume that a book did it. I was old enough to form long-term memories, but I don’t remember my baby brother being carried around with us, so maybe four? My father’s first guess was 1982, when I would have been 10, but the park had already closed by then. His next guess was 1979. My brother, born in 1976, has no memory of the place, so… sounds right? I can’t know and my mother had no guess at all. The fact is this was an event both hybridized and set apart. I don’t have any mental landmarks to attach to the trip. I have multiple readings of (some of) the Oz books and multiple viewings of the 1939 film to help confuse my memories, though. Some confusions are worth embracing.

     After my family left the park, I begged to return. We never did.  At some point my parents told me the park had closed down, and I wasn’t able to comprehend what they were saying. Narnia can’t be closed for repairs; Heaven never has a fire sale. The Land of Oz wasn’t a place in the real world to me. If I concentrated I could remember the park’s flaws and frustrations, but I assumed I was the problem– my ears were too weak, my eyes too small to really understand the depth of the drama unfolding between Dorothy and the Witch. I like magic is what I’m saying and The Land of Oz felt like magic to me.

     I remember entering the park through Dorothy’s farmhouse, a tornado raging behind every window. It was just a movie, of course, and even at my young age I found it more clever than convincing. However, the next step was perfect– walking out of the farmhouse into Munchkinland, the colors suddenly more vibrant and alive than anything in the real world. Plastic flowers and lollipops, pastel-framed houses, and of course– starting in a spiral of yellow and red at the center of the tiny town– the Yellow Brick Road. I could hear eerily high-pitched voices singing and laughing, sounding very far away, and I remember becoming aware of a woman with a wand and a shimmering princess costume speaking to our tour group– Glinda! The Good Witch! Where was her bubble? Had I missed it? Why didn’t she float away when we left? Oh crap, was that the Wicked Witch? Why wasn’t I closer to the action? Why couldn’t I hear what they were saying, on the other side of the YBR? I had so many questions.

     I remember my parents pointing back to Dorothy’s cottage as we walked out and seeing stripe-stockinged feet sticking out– not rolling up but twitching and kicking forever in animatronic glory. I remember wanting to follow the Red Brick Road, because I knew where the yellow bricks led and I wanted to go someplace new. I remember following Dorothy towards the Scarecrow’s crossroads. The Scarecrow was different than the one in the film. Instead of Ray Bolger’s makeup, this Scarecrow’s face was invisible underneath a shaggy giant of a straw head. I think the head was supposed to look friendly, but it was mostly featureless. Jarred, I was still fascinated when he joined the party, dancing and singing alongside Dorothy. Things still felt right for me.

     Soon we were striding up to vocal but immobile Fighting Trees– my parents had to point out their faces to me– and across the way was the Tin Man. I don’t think he had an actual funnel on his head, to my disappointment– children have zero tolerance for variation– but he was a closer match to the film version and he held still until the ritual of the oil can freed him; I felt like things were going the way they should. More dancing followed, suddenly interrupted by the Witch’s laughter! At this point, perfection reigned. The Witch of the West was standing on the roof of a small, overgrown house near the path. She harangued us, projecting beautifully even though she was outdoors– they may have had some sort of amplifier in the house– threatened the Scarecrow with fire, and flash pots exploded near the performers. I was less than 10 years old and I was in awe.

     THIS. WAS. AMAZING.

     When the Witch disappeared in a cloud of colored smoke– she must have fallen through a trapdoor into the house– I was convinced. This was magic, scary magic. I wanted to live in Oz.

     The follow-up encounter with the Cowardly Lion was similarly arresting. The Lion was more of a dude in a straight lion costume, less the jovial human-hybrid thing from the move. The result was, when we heard a growl from the woods, what came out looked enough like a giant cat that it freaked me out. Now I wasn’t disappointed with the differences between the park and the film– I was learning to fear them. Yes, the Lion was still easily cowed by Dorothy and Toto, but I wasn’t convinced. I made it my job to keep an eye on the giant feline, just in case it turned on our group. It didn’t, but I can’t be certain that isn’t just because I didn’t afford it the opportunity.

     Oddly, I don’t remember the rest of the trip very well. I’m certain we made it to the Emerald City and rang the bell, only to have a weirdo with amazing facial hair poke his head out and tell us to knock because the bell was broken. I’m equally certain that I was a little mad that the Emerald City wasn’t made of emeralds, just wood and green paint. That said, the Emerald City exhibit actually burned down in 1975, so it’s possible these memories are real… but I don’t have any other memories as a 3 year old, so I doubt it.

    If they are real, I have no idea why I don’t remember the Wizard. I should remember meeting Oz, the Great and Powerful. Instead, I just remember a lame play in the 6th grade, where the Wizard was represented as a ball of fire– and by “ball of fire” I mean piece of cardboard with red and yellow marker scribbled on it. No booming voice– maybe there was a shimmering throne room? Open flames? These things should have left an impression if a melon-headed dancing straw man did. But now, nothing. I’m not even certain if the Witch’s castle existed. In contemporary photos it looks like a structure meant to be viewed from afar, but I’ve seen references to it in articles claiming that you used to be able to tour it. I know I wanted to visit it, asked to visit it, but I merely have a vague impression of viewing the castle from afar, waiting for a cloud of monkeys to spiral out of its tower with a growing sense of dread.

 

     I suppose that this confirms that the park was creepy. Yes, the park was creepy… and whimsical and fun. That’s a perfect description of what anything based on The Wizard of Oz should be. I know the park wasn’t perfect but… it was perfect. L. Frank Baum wrote 14 Oz books during his lifetime; I devoured the 3 in my parents’ library when I was a child. I’ve since read another 4, with mixed results– Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz features the dream team of Dorothy, Professor Marvel, and Princess Ozma but still stinks of a book written because the author needed to get paid and isn’t worth readers’ time. I’ve only read one non-Baum novel, Edward Einhorn’s Paradox in Oz, which was a hilarious and worthy successor; the graphic novel series Oz-Wonderland War is flawed but enjoyable, and features Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew at its center– always a winning trait, at least if you ask pre-adolescent me.

     Also, it implies that the Flash villain Grodd the Super Gorilla was somehow allied with Ozma’s adversary Roquat the Red, king of the Nomes. What can I say? Sometimes we just need stupid things to make ourselves happy. Nerds know this better than most, I think. It’s just wrong to deny ourselves our stupid, stupid things.

     I enjoyed the novel Wicked but I have yet to familiarize myself with the musical. Which is weird, because I like musicals. Ah well. Digression.

     All that to say: my love for and interest in Oz has never diminished. I credit the half-remembered adventure of the lost theme park for a goodly portion of my love for Oz.

     Maybe that’s how kids feel when they visit Hogwart’s in present-day Orlando; maybe that’s how my daughter felt when I took her to a comics convention and she met Spider-Man and Rainbow Dash. Maybe “Mister Toad’s Wild Ride” inspires a lifelong love of The Wind in the Willows for some. I can’t know. I’m a nerdy adult, but an adult; the magic is muted but never gone. The Land of Oz is one of the places that taught me about magic; encouraged me to seek it out, not wait for it to come to me. Yes, that magic only existed inside books’ pages– also a great lesson, since just because something is fictional doesn’t mean it isn’t also real. Oz only had a sort of a short half-life, but it mattered more than some random tourist attraction should. Which is to say, it mattered to me.

     So, if you can, go to Oz this summer. Go there and take a lot of pictures– I have none. Take a lot of pictures, take a lot of notes, and then when you’re done… send them to me.

#memory #earlynerdlife #landofoz