In the kitchen, I was putting away my water bottle and keys and stuff, when it hit me: nothing is perfect, and never will be. And I got to thinking, so what’s the fucking point? If it can’t be perfect, why even bother? There will always be injustice, there will always be suffering, some people have it better than others for no reason and that’s always going to be the case and it’s totally not fair so why do we even fucking put up with it? Worldwide suicide. We’re not good enough, and we never will be.

There’s gotta be something wrong with this line of thinking. There’s a quote. “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” I think that’s what’s at work here. In focusing on the perfect, you minimize all in the world that is good and just, and there are some of those things. You should boost the good, not castigate it for being imperfect. Perfect is never a thing, literally can’t be. It’s just an idea that poisons and rots and cheapens everything. Everything. Yeah, I gotta get outta this shit. I think I just wrote myself out of it, so that’s kinda cool. Writing as therapy. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Time Out

Time Out
You cast the spell, and it sucks you out of the world and out of time. Everything goes black instantly, as though a big bag were put over your head. You lose consciousness.

You awake on a bed. It’s an Alaska king. Which is a mattress that is nine feet square. It’s an actual thing; you can buy them from multiple sources. But never mind the bed for now. You are in the House. The House is in an extradimensional space outside of the world. For you see, from your point of view, time has stopped in the world, and you are getting extra time in the House. You are most fortunate.

The House always has a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen/dinette, and a living room. There may be other rooms; each House is different. All rooms are fully furnished and fixtured. It’s like the coziest place you can imagine, and it’s clean. It’s difficult to offer a blanket description of the shit because it’s different for each person. Suffice to say, the House suits your tastes perfectly, and it is a place you can really enjoy staying in. So it may or may not be nice or luxurious or whatever, but you’re gonna like it. The magic makes it work. Nice, isn’t it?

Everything is stocked. The kitchen has the food and gear you need to feed yourself. The living room has everything you need in order to do the things you like to do in a living room. Same with the bedroom and the bathroom. All your rigmarole in all the areas of your life can be tended to seamlessly with the things you find in the House. It’s not really your stuff; it’s magical duplicates. But it is all the comforts of home. Using stuff in the House will not deplete your possessions in the real world.

There’s climate control. There are also nice windows that can be opened. You know, if that’s your thing.

You never have to clean the House. It just stays nice. I mean, if you spill something you’ll want to wipe it up or whatever. But for the most part, the House just doesn’t get gungy like regular places.

You can go outside the House. There are extensive grounds. You can wander around all you want, and you will never find a boundary edge. Outside the House, it is whatever season it was in the real world when and where you cast the spell. (More on this later.) The wilderness and geography matches that of the area you were in when you cast the spell. There are a variety of hiking opportunities, beginner to advanced. There is climate-appropriate outdoor gear in the House. You can’t control the weather, but it usually works out okay without you having to worry about it much. It is impossible to get lost in the grounds. You are able to maintain your sense of direction effortlessly. To the point you don’t even think about it.

There is a body of water in view of the House. Could be a pond, a lake, a sea, the ocean. It’s gonna depend on your tastes. Both the sunrise and the sunset are reflected in the body of water as seen from the House. What I mean is, the sun rises and sets at the same point on the horizon. It comes up in the morning, climbs to noon, tracks a circuit around the sky, and sets back down where it rose from. So you can see both the sunrise and the sunset over the water, if you are so inclined.

There are no pests and no biting insects. There are animals, but they won’t bother you. Even if you go up and try to engage them, they’ll just run away. Unless you wanna play Snow White, in which case the birds and friendly herbivores will hang out with you.

There’s a porch. It’s not screened in, but there aren’t many bugs so it mostly doesn’t matter. The body of water (and sunrise/sunset) is visible from the porch. There’s nice patio furniture that doesn’t stay wet if it rains.

There is a small barn behind the House, in which can be found anything you seek. So if for some reason you need something that isn’t in the House already, you can rummage around in the barn until you find it. Depending on what it is, it may take some digging. Simple things like, I don’t know, bubble wrap, you can find pretty quickly. If you need a DeLorean, you’re gonna be searching for a while. You might run out of time before you find it, honestly.

There can be computers, if you want, but there’s no internet. How would that even work? You’re in an extradimensional space outside of the world, and the world’s on pause. So yeah, no internet. But you can have your computer with you in the House, and you can do anything you can do with a computer without internet. Me personally, I’d be writing in my diary.

If you get lonely, you can reach out to people and pets you love and ask them to join you in the House. You think about the person or animal, reach out with your feelings, and there’s a nonverbal connection and the invitation is made. If they agree, they will show up somewhere, usually the bed, usually unconscious, and then you can wake them up and hang out or whatever. If they don’t agree, they will go on about their day and have no awareness that they have been queried. You can invite multiple people, too. You can almost certainly find air mattresses or stuff in the barn to accommodate additional visitors. I mean, if you run out of room on the Alaska king.

When you bring other people in, the House will not magically alter itself to suit them, but it will accommodate their living needs. Dietary stuff in the kitchen may get augmented, for example. More shelf space in the bathroom, possibly. Maybe more closet space. But overall, the House will change as little as possible from how it first appeared to the person who cast the spell. It is still very much that person’s space. That person is referred to as the “host”, and everyone else are the “guests”.

There is cell service in the House, but only amongst the current residents of the House. So you can call or text the people staying with you, but you can’t reach any other people or numbers. And again, no internet.

You can spend up to a year in the House. In that time, you won’t get any older. You won’t get sicker, but your health can improve. If you stay long enough, the seasons will change to match what they would be doing if you were spending time on Earth. Sunset and sunrise times also change to match those on Earth at the location where you cast the spell.

How do you leave the House? At some point, you will decide you’re ready to go back home. If for no other reason than your year is up. (If you weren’t keeping track, the House will make you aware of when your last day will be.) The next time you sleep after making this decision, you will have a dream that you are back in the situation you were in before you cast the spell. You are reminded of all the details of what you are doing, etc. Then you don’t wake up from that dream. It just becomes your life again, and your real life continues. All benefits you gained from your time off are retained as you go forward refreshed and ready for life.

Everyone doesn’t have to leave the House at the same time, but if the host leaves the House, so does everyone in it.

Once you’re back in the real world, you can’t cast the spell again until a number of days has passed. That number is equal to the number of days you just spent in the House. So if you were in the House for ten days, you can’t cast the spell until at least ten days have passed. If you stay the full year, it’ll be a year before you can get in the House again. Basically, each day spent in any House (no matter if you’re the host or a guest) must be paid for in time spent on Earth before you can go back to any House.

The spell is tied to Earth and Sol. If you are not on Earth, the spell has no effect. Other versions of the spell could theoretically be created for other planets around other stars, and those would have a time limit of one revolution around their star. Not an Earth year.

About the Magic

Getting It Out There

Here’s the thing. I think I write good content on the blog. I think I’m at a point where I wouldn’t mind reaching a wider audience. But I don’t have the will or the energy to publicize. I won’t go on social media. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. I have an Instagram, but I never post, I just look at other people’s posts. I’m not gonna go out and sell myself. I’m not gonna put myself out there in a way that tries to induce people to check out my blog. I’m not gonna go say provocative things on social media trying to get attention. Just, I don’t wanna do any of that shit. But I think I can make people’s lives better, with fiction and philosophy and generally entertaining and/or quirky shit. It’s good stuff on this blog. I fear I am doomed to obscurity, however.

Perhaps you can help, my readers. There are a few of you. Do you know anybody who might like one of my stories or posts or magic items or culture snippets or whatever? You could send them a link. Or post on the dreaded social media platform of your choice. It would only take a second, and then perhaps more people would come and read and comment. I think I’m ready for that, but I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to promote my content myself. That’s where you could come in, if you felt like it.

Either way, I’m not gonna stop posting. I derive benefit from writing this blog, even if it is never widely read. And I’m not putting pressure on you to publicize my blog for free. It’s just something nice I thought of that you could do for me, if I have brought you any pleasure over the years with my work. But like yeah, you totally don’t have to, and I don’t really expect it. It’s just an idea I had.

Culture 16

“Two Knights and Maidens” by Crash Test Dummies. I posted this song in a post called Culture 15. You can check that out to listen to the song and read the lyrics. To me, this is a profoundly tragic song. But there are other ways to interpret it. I showed the song to Steph, and she said,

“Do you think they get eaten by the tigers? Maybe the maidens befriend the tigers and get them to eat the clueless knights so the maidens can wander the beautiful garden in peace with their rockin’ pet tigers.”

Steph isn’t the only one with this type of interpretation. In a YouTube comment, somebody going by Charlotte Webster said,

“Best track on the album with a brilliant story. No idea how near or completely far off the mark it is but I’ve always assumed the Maidens are lovers but couldn’t be openly, so having been pestered to death by the randy Knights, decided to do away with them in a way that nobody (including the Knights) would suspect anything other than a tragic accident. Have the best mental image of them both being a little dark and sinister in enjoying seeing the fate of the Knights unfold but at the same time feeling justified in at least having them trip balls and believe the tigers weren’t there at all.

“Touché Maidens…”

So before I made the Culture 15 post, I had no idea these interpretations were possible. I don’t like these interpretations though. I mean, of course I like them. They’re great. But they’re not how I experience the song. I think the maidens had the best of intentions with their potions. I always picture them fleeing the tigers and then watching in helpless horror from a balcony or something as the tigers maul the knights to death, and it’s sooo sad.

There’s an anti-drug sentiment you could come away with in the song too, but I don’t interpret it that way either. I see it as a tragic tale of incautious use of psychedelics. It’s tripping 101: don’t do it in a place where tigers can be. You want a safe and comfortable setting for your trip. Especially the first one. Nothing wrong with dreams and lights. Just don’t be stupid. But now, of course, it’s too late, and the maidens have to live with their mistake forever.

Well, I mean, until they die too. It’s a sad song for me, but I temper that sadness with these new, fun interpretations from Steph and Charlotte. That’s what I call a successful Culture post.

P.S. How does it change the song for you if you learn that it’s Tony the Tiger that shows up with a couple buddies? The knights share their potions, and they all eat Frosted Flakes out in garden. The maidens watched them together.

Culture 15

This is one of the saddest songs I know. I’m not saying it’s like super ultra sad. It just gets to me. “The maidens watched them together.” The pain. It’s a dull ache in my chest. Meanwhile, the music is transcendent. This song is a complex emotional cocktail. It is not unchallenging for me, but I enjoy it profoundly. Full lyrics below.

Once there were two knights and maidens
They’d walk together
Out in the gardens
In all kinds of weather

The knights always pestered the maidens
To love them together
Out in the gardens
And they could watch each other

The maidens had other plans for the two knights
They’d give them potions
And make them see dreams and lights

The knights took the potions gladly
They laughed at their visions
But outside the garden
Tigers smelled them together

The knights only laughed at the tigers
They thought they were visions
Out in the garden
The maidens watched them together

Ah, but for the two knights
Ah, but for maidens
Who gave to them dreams and lights

— Crash Test Dummies, “Two Knights and Maidens” (1993)

Culture 14

Do you see the way that tree bends? Does it inspire?
Leaning out to catch the sun’s rays. A lesson to be applied
Are you getting something out of this all-encompassing trip?

You can spend your time alone re-digesting past regrets
Or you can come to terms and realize you’re the only one who can’t forgive yourself
Makes much more sense to live in the present tense

— Pearl Jam, “Present Tense” (1996)

Wand of Biopsy and Extraction

Wand of Biopsy and Extraction
Wand of B/E for short
This is a wand that was created by Dr. Jennifer Hartmann Wallace, the famous artificer and surgeon. It is based on the Wand of Hysterectomy (Wand of H for short). As the Wand of H is heavily referenced in this write-up, it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the Wand of H before continuing.

Dr. Wallace was always intrigued by the Wand of H, and she wondered if she could expand its powers and flexibility as a medical tool. Turns out she totally could do that. She researched and developed the Wand of B/E over a period of about 15 years. The fruits of her efforts took the medical world by storm in January 1983. Today you’d be hard pressed to find a hospital that doesn’t have at least a few Wands of B/E.

So what does it do? Well, it allows a competent surgeon to explore the patient’s interior and shrink away organs, tumors, bones, masses, whatever. This allows for completely clean extractions of pretty much anything the surgeon wants to extract. Biopsies can be taken during this process; they are immediately teleported to a location the surgeon specifies. Preferably there will be specimen jars or something available. Otherwise, things can get messy and gross.

Right, so it would be super easy to kill someone with this wand, right? Just extract their brain. To mitigate this risk, the Wand of B/E has a consent clause that works exactly the same way as that of the Wand of H. And unlike the Wand of H, a Wand of B/E was never created without the consent clause. Furthermore, you have to be a licensed surgeon to be allowed to use a Wand of B/E.

How else does the Wand of B/E differ from the Wand of H?

1) The Wand of B/E is typically made of stainless steel instead of elm or other wood.

2) The Wand of B/E’s ray is blue-green, rather than the Wand of H’s azure ray.

3) The Wand of H’s effects can be reversed with a regimen of potions and rituals, while the Wand of B/E’s effects are irreversible. So don’t fuck up, right? Much like mundane surgery.

4) You can’t play “yo yo organs” with the Wand of B/E. Once the surgeon makes the decision to biopsy or extract something, it shrinks and continues to shrink until it is gone, even if the wand is pointed away, and even if the surgeon instantly changes their mind. Once you “pull the trigger”, so to speak, there are no take-backs.

Where do the things extracted by the Wand of B/E and the Wand of H go? They don’t go anywhere. It’s magic. The material simply bleeds into the magical fabric of the multiverse, no fuss no muss. You really don’t need to be worrying about this.

About the Magic

Bracers of Cookery

Bracers of Cookery
This is a pair of bracers. (Bracers are protective armbands worn on the forearms.) The wearer of the Bracers of Cookery has the knowledge and skills of an accomplished chef. This knowledge is forgotten when the bracers are removed, presumably after the cooking is done. The wearer retains their normal, non-magical cooking abilities when not wearing the bracers.

About the Magic

Reduced Music Listening

I recently had to reduce the amount of time I spent listening to music. I used to listen to music literally all the time. Not literally all the time. How to put it? During waking hours, it was far more likely that music would be playing than not. Several months after making that reduction in listening frequency, it’s nice to have finally gotten used to not having music on.

I had a similar experience when I stopped listening to music in the car. That was maybe eight years ago. There was an adjustment period that was a bit uncomfortable. Without music, everything just seems so boring. I adjusted quicker to driving without music than I did blogging or whatever without music. Because when you’re driving, there’s always shit to hear. The bumps in the road, wind, precipitation, engine noise, turn signal clicks, resonant bridges, sirens — it’s all varied, all the time. Less variety on the freeway, but still enough to keep you from losing your mind. The sounds aren’t foot-tappable like music, but they are interesting in their way. And driving without music is statistically safer. Plus if you drive without music, you don’t have to fuck around with CD’s or plugging your phone in the car or whatever. I actually prefer driving without music now, which is something I never thought would be the case.

What’s your favorite road sound? The sound of going under a bridge during a rainstorm, the abrupt pause and resumption of rain, and the relative silence between, a “silence” that is full of noise and bridge echo and tire hiss. I’m fond of that one. That’s not a noise so much as a riff. Road riff!