Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Toto Can Talk

You remember Toto, right? He was the little dog that was the very best friend of Dorothy in the Oz books. Did you know that he could talk? If you had read as many Oz books as I have, you'd find that out early on. 

Oz is a fairyland, and all fairylands have their own rules. When an animal moves from our realm into Oz, they are then given the gift of speech. This happened many times within the Oz series, but the one thing that many would take note of was that Toto did not do anything but bark and whimper.

It was not until the eighth book entitled "Tik-Tok of Oz" that Toto said his very first words, and it came about because Dorothy started to wonder why all the other animals could talk... but Toto never did. And even though he finally did say something, he went back into his usual dog noises afterwards. The reason he did this was because Dorothy could always understand him anyways. When he barked, she knew what it meant. She did not need to hear it in English to understand anything.

It was a very clever moment when he finally spoke. He pretty much just confirmed that he could talk and then ran away. Just knowing the truth really helped me understand how Oz worked and what being there meant. Things just work differently there. The rules and laws of the universe don't always apply there.

As I continue reading far into the series, there is a bit of escapism to Oz. I do often find myself thinking about what it would be like to visit. I think some of it might be a bit scary, but the adventure and exploration aspect seems a bit too tempting for me not to stop by.

Just imagine what it would be like to talk to any animal you find. In fact, you could bring your own pet and then have a conversation with them. It's a pleasant thought. I hope you found this little sidestep amusing.

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Ori and the Blind Forest [Game Review]

I think it would be silly of me not to review this game after playing through it. I think I know a fairy tale as obvious as this one. Ori and the Blind Forest is a video game developed by Moon studios and released back in 2015. I was given it as a Christmas present in 2020, and only recently finished playing through it.

This game is a side scrolling metroidvania style game that puts much emphasis on skill, technique, and precise movement in order to complete the game. I am not usually very good at these types of games, and I might have stopped rather early into the experience if it wasn't for the extremely compelling story found within the game.

Everything in the story just screams fairy tale, and the imagery is so well pictured that it makes it very difficult to look away at any one moment. Although it seems this story takes place in another world or some sort of alien planet, the creatures within the world all seem fairly familiar. But the world itself is a sort of dangerous fairyland, and Ori seems to be something of a fairy himself.

The story employs a sort of pagan approach, giving much of the world's energy to the plants and animals that live there. There is a guardian tree who can talk in its own language. (It sounds a little like hearing Jabba the Hutt speak.) Everything seems to have a spirit and seems greatly integrated into what appears to be a massive world of natural energy.

Dangerous fairylands are a thing. I've talked about them before. They are magical worlds infested with strange creatures who kill at a whim. This contrasts with Ori who is a very adorable, innocent looking creature. He comes across sometimes as a child who lost in a seemingly impossible quest to right the wrongs of the world. His only companion is a floating orb named Sein which seems something like a guide for Ori.

You may notice that I haven't really been spoiling the plot at all. This is one of those cases where I think I'd rather let the game speak for itself. The opening cinematics are very powerful and dark. The flow of the game has many twists and turns, and you will fail quite often. In fact, I spent most of my time failing.

But the more you fail in this game, the more you learn. It's all a matter of picking yourself up and trying to get it right the next time. There are many moments where the game demands what seems like too much from little Ori. There were times where I thought I was going to tear my controller in half. I made it though, and I feel pretty good by the end of it.

I do recommend the game, but not really to a casual player. This game takes patience and skill, but if you can take on the challenge, there is a beautiful fairy tale to explore here. It is a beautiful, immersive,  and extremely atmospheric journey worth taking if you are willing to face some very trying circumstances along the way.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger [Review]

[Heavy spoilers for this story, but I still encourage you to read it for the sake of nuance.]

"The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger" is a short story written by L. Frank Baum in 1913. It was a part of a canon series of Oz short stories released in a book entitled "Little Wizard Stories of Oz."

This is my favorite of the short stories by far. It tells the story of the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger on a day they decide to simply put aside there holdbacks and be as ferocious and violent as their species is generally known to be. The Hungry Tiger decides he is going to go out and eat the first fat baby that he sees within the Emerald City, and the Cowardly Lion intends to roar, frighten people, and tear a person into sixty pieces with his razor sharp claws.

What is fascinating about how this story begins is that they very much agree with one another that this will be done and then proceed out of the palace together to go do it. At that point in the story, they are talking about very horrible things that they want to do. The Hungry Tiger is tired of being hungry all the time and finally wants to set out and eat a person. And the Cowardly Lion is tired of being so sweet and cowardly and wants to take his place as an alpha animal.

As they tread through the Emerald City, they happen upon a crying child. This, of course, gets the attention of the Hungry Tiger who leaps over to it. The Cowardly Lion fully expects the Tiger to devour him up and even asks him if he is going to do it. Completely shocked, the Hungry Tiger ridicules the Lion for even suggesting that he would hurt a little crying baby who is obviously upset for losing his mother.

Soon after, the mother in question bursts out of a nearly house, crying out for the safety of her child... when she trips and falls, hurting herself. Here, the Cowardly Lion sees his opportunity to rip someone into sixty pieces. He leaps towards the woman... before asking her if she is all right and offers to carry her back into the house. When the Hungry Tiger asks him if he is going to tear her into sixty pieces, the Lion ridicules him for even suggesting that he could ever tear up a woman who hurt herself while trying to rescue her child.

In the end, the two return to the palace and resign themselves to being who they are. The Cowardly Lion will forever be cowardly, and the Hungry Tiger will forever be hungry. They will always be what they are for the simple reason that they are good and wonderful. And possibly the only satisfaction they will have is that they have one another to sulk about the fantasies they have... but will never achieve.

The story is available online, and it is very much worth reading. I hope you enjoyed my review.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Cowardly Lion

I felt like I would be missing an opportunity if I did not mention the very best friend of the Hungry Tiger. The Cowardly Lion is an extremely well-known character from the Oz books mainly because of his appearance in the 1939 film. I understand how little the books are read, but if you had read them, you would find there is a bit more to this fellow than was presented on the screen.

It seemed to me that the reasons that the Cowardly Lion was so close to the Hungry Tiger was twofold. It was simply because of the fact that they were both very large cats. A simple "birds of a feather" situation there. The other reason was due to the duality of themselves. That was the real connection that drove them together.

Where the Hungry Tiger wants to eat people but refuses to, the Cowardly Lion fears being courageous but shows courage regardless. So one won't do what he wants to do, and the other does what he doesn't want to do. Interesting, yeah?

The Cowardly Lion is actually very courageous. If put into a position where one of his friends are in danger, he will leap to the rescue and do so with great violence. However, when he is not directly in danger, he will appear to be extremely terrified of everything. And here we have a very interesting distinction between bravery and courage.

The Cowardly Lion is not really all that brave, wanting to shrink away from frightening circumstances. No one in the world is brave if they act like he does. But courage itself is the ability to fight despite that lack of bravery. He dives into the fray for the sake of all the things that he loves. This leaves him a tad traumatized, but he will still do it over and over as needed.

I think, to a degree, that the Cowardly Lion was not represented as well in the movie as he had been in the books. He really is a strong character. You may also find it interesting that he and the Hungry Tiger actually pull the carriage of Ozma, the queen of Oz. They are almost always together and seem very much to love each other, and when you consider it, they really are quite similar... but for very different reasons.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Hungry Tiger

One of my favorite characters from the Oz universe is The Hungry Tiger. You may not know of him, if you have only seen the movies. He only appeared in the books. He is the very special friend and companion of the far more famous Cowardly Lion.

The hilarity of the Hungry Tiger has always amused me. He is a sulking sort of person because he was born a predator with far too much compassion. He has an obsession with the idea of eating people... and he loves talking about it. He especially likes the idea of eating fat babies. He mentions that as often as he can because he is clearly always thinking about it.

The reason he is called the "Hungry" Tiger is because he can't actually do the thing he wants to do. If he did eat a fat baby or... you... he would go into a spiral of depression because he hurt someone. This is an aspect of him specifically. There are animals and monsters in Oz that will not think twice about devouring you up. But they do not have the compassion that the Hungry Tiger has.

Even so, this Tiger is still very depressed because he cannot do what he wants to do. His stomach is always rumbling. He does still eat, although it's more of a vegetarian diet. This never really satisfies him though. As much as I love him, I do feel bad for him. Because of his compassion, he cannot truly be himself. This hurt him greatly... yet he is proud of himself for his restraint. He loves himself for his ability to rise above his carnal desires for the sake of others.

For these reasons, the Hungry Tiger should be revered and loved. One should also have compassion for his own inner aches. He denies himself those selfish desires because he refuses to hurt others to sate his own lusts. He suffers for the sake of freedom and friendship of others. If only we could have compassion for the Hungry Tiger!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Secret Garden

[Mild spoilers ahead for this book.]

Of course, you have heard of "The Secret Garden" by now. Not only is this book widely considered a classic, but it has been adapted into movies, television, and plays so often that it is very hard to miss. There was even a new film made in 2020. This was the primary reason I wanted to read it. It's all over the place and seems to be a story that the world just doesn't want to let go of.

"The Secret Garden" was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and published as a book in 1911, although it was first serialized in "The American Magazine." I did not actually look to see when it was written before I read it. This might have been a good idea, because I have to say that it is written in a very easy to understand way. It could have just as easily been a modern book.

But enough about the little details about its production. I am here to ask this question: Is "The Secret Garden" a fairy tale? Well, it might be. If you read this story from cover to cover, it certainly brings up the question of what is really going on in this story.

The book never perfectly says that there is magic in the world... it merely suggests that there might be. It sort of offers fairies and magic on a platter and gives you the option if you want to accept it or not. It's easy to come to either conclusions by the end of it. You might come out of it thinking that magic is real, or you could just chuckle at the suggestion and push the platter away for something more realistic.

Nevertheless, the sorts of things you will find in this book certainly seems to suggest that the author, at the very least, seems to believe that there is some sort of spiritual force at work in our world that makes everything function the way it should. Let me explain some of it in the context of the book.

The story, on the surface, is about a spoiled little girl named Mary who loses everything (parents and caretakers) and ends up in a huge mansion filled with closed doors. Over time, she gains a better outlook on life as she is allowed to play and enjoy the sunshine. She finds out about a secret garden that the owner of the estate apparently locked up after his wife died 10 years ago. She finds this garden and, with the help of several friends, proceeds to revive it.

Among those she meets is a sort of fairy boy of 12 years, named Dickon, that can talk to animals and seems to know just about everything about people, plants, and things. There is also Colin, the supposedly crippled son of the man who owns the estate. He is interesting in his own right, and I'll go a bit more into Colin in a bit. As interesting as Mary is, the characters of Dickon and Colin provide the "magic" for the story.

There is no point within the story that Dickon does not feel like some sort of fairy person. Now I don't believe he was. I don't think he was any sort of demon or angel. He was just a human boy who had his eyes wide open to the world around him. He could see beyond seeing. And yes... he could clearly talk to animals within the book, and they could talk back. I don't really see how this is particularly unrealistic. The animals were still animals. They still did animal things. He was simply able to befriend them and communicate in the same manner of which they communicate with each other. Still, you have to admit, there are few in the world that could claim to understand exactly what he was doing.

As for Colin, his revival ultimately leads him into running, what he called, scientific experiments into the nature of magic. He seemed to believe that magic was the cause of why everything in the world worked correctly and that dark magic was when things were put out of place. Magic could be caused by humans when they would join together and chant in the affirmative for something they wanted to happen, and the book rather subtlety suggests that this influence can extend to areas of the world without any sort of personal contact. You could influence someone without the need to actually be there.

I did find the authors concept of magic fascinating, and there are sentiments presented in this book that I already agreed with, such as the transfer of energy through inspiration. I did enjoy it. The whole book for me really was it's ideals on how magic actually works. The whole world is, in its own way, powered by magical forces provided through God. And we have ways to redirect that magic ourselves. This is mainly what I took away from the reading of this classic piece of literature. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Strange Brigade [Game Review]

When I first saw screenshots of the 2018 video game Strange Brigade, I actually thought I was looking at shots from another game I like called Uncharted. It certainly got my interested because I actually love the Uncharted games. Where it is true that this game does have similar gameplay, it is actually it's own thing and terrific fun as well.

The concept of Strange Brigade is that there is a group of adventurers in the 1930s who fight off ancient supernatural forces, while at the same time getting a lot of treasure for their troubles. They are a wildly internationally diverse team that have their own dirigible, which acts as their home base. I don't normally like things done with diversity in mind, but the way the game works actually favors this setup.

You see, Strange Brigade is intended as an online co-op game where you can play whoever you want. I chose to play an American cowboy who happened to be on the team. My friend played a snobbish British guy. We made for a fairly motley couple as we gunned down zombies while raiding an ancient Egyptian tomb.

There is also a hilarious narrator that frequently will remark at what's going on. He is constantly making puns about whatever is happening on the adventure. He comes across more like a radio program announcer, and usually ends with something like, "Just another daring feat brought to you by... THE STRANGE BRIGADE!" It's very charming and entertaining.

The combat in the game is incredibly fierce. They throw many enemies at you at one time, and even with another player, you can get overwhelmed. I liked this. It reminded me of the fun I had in Doom. You have to constantly keep moving and roll around to avoid being hit. They really did a great job with this.

The bosses in the game are amazing. They look cool and have devastating yet fun attacks you have to avoid. You really feel like you are going up against ancient forces. My favorite battle was actually with a giant Anubis. He was really intimidating! After defeating him, we experienced a bug that deleted our progress for that fight. This meant we had to fight him a second time, and I didn't really mind it because it was such a great fight.

The final boss was actually brilliantly presented. It was extremely intense and felt large scale. I don't want to spoil it, but there is every reason to look forward to the final boss of the game. It blew my mind and was totally epic in presentation.

Strange Brigade may seem to have a forced diversity message on the surface, but the truth is that you can play it with whoever you want. You can make the experience anything you and your friends want it to be. It can also be played in single player, but be prepared to go up against staggering odds. I recommend this game to anyone who loves the supernatural/adventure genre.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at You can also visit my website at Check out my books! Thanks!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Children, Innocence, and Hell (A Speculative Blog)

[This blog may be rough on people who have lost a child. If you are worried you will be hurt or offended by the subject matter, I would rather you skip this one. I have no interest in upsetting people.]

This is a rough topic and not one that is fully vetted by me. That is why is is mainly a speculative one. By speculative, I mean that I have thought much about it and attempted to get to the truth by merely looking at the way things work. I have not really gotten to a solid conclusion, but I do wish to at least announce a premise. That premise being: Some children might go to hell.

Growing up in a Christian church, there was a common assumption that was not altogether without Biblical merit which was this: If a child died within the womb or before the age of accountability, he is considered innocent and will ultimately go to Heaven. I personally have never been completely comfortable with this assumption, even when I was very young and small.

The reason for my being uncomfortable was because it sounded more like people were just saying it so that we'd feel better. It also assumes that sometimes God does things because it's fair. And it would be fair if He acquitted children before they had the chance to sin. But honestly, I never saw God as a particularly fair individual, and furthermore, I tend to see Satan as more obsessed with fairness than the God he objects to (out of fairness.)

So here we shall leap recklessly into the realm of the speculative. Let's take a look at what we actually are. I once heard someone say that we are not bodies with souls, but souls with bodies. That means that who we are is not necessarily bound to the mechanics of the flesh and blood. Even our memories are subject to the internal workings of our physical brain. The soul which puppets us is the real person, and it is that soul that chooses either good or evil. It is the soul which choses to follow in God's way or to reject Him for the materialism of our physical bodies.

When I think of it in this way, I always see a disconnect with the real me and the flesh the real me inhabits. And if I am to believe that this is actually how it works, I have to assume that it functions this way for children as well. Even in the womb, I believe that those children have souls. They can't really do very much because the physical body of the child is barely developed, but I am assuming the soul is what it is regardless of the body.

Likewise, we have fully grown adults that have severe maladies and mental deficiencies that limits there capabilities much like the child in the womb. And with these unfortunate people, I am still assuming that their souls are perfectly intact. I do not think that the negative status of the physical body can actually injure or negatively change the soul which attempts to guide it through the person's life.

So, just to be clear, the assumption is that the soul is perfect regardless of what the condition of the body is. Got it? All right.

My speculation is this: If it is the soul that chooses or rejects God, does this mean children all go to hell because they never get a chance to learn of His existence? Not exactly... but maybe. Of course, nobody wants to think of their child ending up that way, but this blog isn't about how people feel about it, it's about the children and their relationship with God.

At the moment of death, there is only that person (the soul) and God. That's it. It has nothing to do with anything else. There is a possibility that that soul must still stand trial and make that same choice, and the soul may simply reject it outright in the same way as it would have if it had lived a full life.

The speculation does not assume that all children go to hell; it merely speculates that every child still has to make a choice, and it is only the soul that does this. The physical body has very little to do with it.

God never really seems to worry too much about the feelings of others. I don't particularly see Him as sending someone else to Heaven because someone completely different would feel horrible unless He did. It is possible that every single soul that ever existed had to make a choice to either go with God or reject Him. This is something that goes beyond knowledge and intellect. It is our ultimate choice, and if this speculation is correct, no soul is spared in making it.

Thank you for reading my blog! Did you enjoy it? Either way, you can comment below, or you can email me at You can also visit my website at Check out my books! Thanks!