Friday, December 28, 2012

You're So Gandalf?

Hey there WYMOP Nation! Sorry, but before I move on to this week's post, I have to make a plea.

Some of you may know I have a short story titled Photo Finish in the Horror anthology The Ghost IS The Machine, from Post Mortem Press. I recently found out that the anthology is up for an industry award, the Preditors & Editor's Reader's Poll Award for 2012.   I was very excited. I later found out that not only is the anthology up for an award, so is my story.

Excited is no longer the word. 

Please, take a couple of minutes to go to the site and vote for me, and the anthology. It takes, literally, two minutes of your time, and you don't have to be a member of their website to vote. No joining, no getting on a list, nothing like that. You can just vote. 

The voting is open until midnight, January 10th. Please, take the two minutes to help me out, then you can forget all about it. One vote for me, one vote for the anthology. It couldn't hurt you, and it means a lot to me.

Here are the links:

Short Story Category (voting for Photo Finish) ->

Anthologies Category (Voting for The Ghost IS The Machine) ->

Every single vote helps.
Thank you in advance for your support.

Now... on with the post!

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Every group, be they family, friends or simple co-workers, tends to create a special language all their own, with words and phrases that no one else would understand. They may understand the words, but not their meaning.

I’ll give you an example:

In one place I once worked (nothing to do with my current place of employment, I assure you) there was a man who came in to work some of the Saturday mornings that he worked still at least a little drunk from the night before. He would be rumpled, unshaven, bleary-eyed, with a little wobble in his step and breath that smelled like Satan’s balloon knot. We’ll call this man, at least for the purposes of this example, Scott. Eventually we began to refer, at least among ourselves, to people who exhibited signs of great inebriation to be ‘Scott-faced’, as in ‘Wow, you should have seen this guy at the party, he was totally Scott-faced’. No one outside of our group would have had the background to understand that. They may have picked up the intent through context, but we all simply understood the phrase ‘Scott-faced’.

Got it?

Now, with the understanding that these little secret phrases happen spontaneously all around us… here’s the story:

Recently Handsome and I watched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. What with each of the three movies being more than three hours long, and Handsome being just ten years old and not exactly famous for the longevity of his patience, I sort of spread the movies out a bit. We watched them pretty much one a week for the first part of the month, and Handsome was a little thrown by a scene in the beginning of the second part of the trilogy, The Two Towers.

SPOILER ALERT!! — I am about to describe and remark upon things that happen in the movie. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want me to ruin it for you, you might want to skip the rest of this episode of WYMOP and just get back to us next week. If you’re looking for something to read, however, you can try some of the fiction that can be found on my website, The Storyteller. See you next week!

Okay— are they gone? Cool. Okay… back in the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, we saw the wizard Gandalf fall from an underground cliff while locked in battle with a demon called a Balrog, where he is assumed dead. Bad, right? It sure is. Well after watching that first movie Handsome and I had a little discussion on who the toughest in the group was, the toughest in the Fellowship of thirteen who set out with the Ring. Handsome spoke of the Ranger Aragorn, Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf. I, on the other hand, maintained that Gandalf the Wizard was the toughest. Handsome wasn’t sure, but he could see both sides of the Gandalf argument. Yes, Gandalf appeared to die, to be the first of them to die, in fact, but he had done it while locked in single combat with a thing that the others dared not face even as a group. Did that make him tougher, or just suicidal?

“Just wait,” I said. “You’ll see.”

Wait he did. And then, in the beginning of the second film in the trilogy, The Two Towers, there is a scene, sort of a flashback, where we see the Balrog falling deeper and deeper into an apparently bottomless chasm inside the Earth, Gandalf falling above it. We see Gandalf gain control of his fall much like a sky-diver, narrow his body’s profile to allow himself to pick up speed, pluck a sword (dropped earlier in the battle) from the air as it spins past in the void, then actually catch up to the twelve-foot demon and begin fighting it again, hacking at the beast with the captured sword while thundering out words of abjuration. All this while they fall endlessly through the Earth.

Back in the real world I pointed dramatically toward the action on the screen.

“There,” I said, “you see that? While the others are all running from the Orcs, Gandalf catches up with the Balrog and actually rides it all the way down into Hell while beating it about the head and shoulders with a sword! He doesn’t even have his magic staff or anything, just a sword! That, my friend, is a tough guy.”

Handsome was laughing at my exuberance, but I ignored that and leaned in, trying to make my point.

“Those other guys are tough, alright. They are.”

I leaned in closer.

“But Gandalf is a bad-ass!”

More laughter ensued.

Fast forward about two and a half weeks.

It’s Christmas day. Handsome has gotten exactly what he wanted, a Play Station 3 with the Assassin’s Creed package. Yes, I know Assassin’s Creed might be a bit of an adult game for a ten-year-old, but I’m trying to monitor it. Also, please bear in mind that this is a kid who watches NCIS, Bones, and Risoli and Isles on television. It was later in the morning and he had opened his presents hours ago. He had immediately asked me to set up the Play Station, and I had… and that was just about the last we saw of him for the day. He’d been in there for a couple of hours already the first time he emerged for supplies. I saw him rummaging through the fridge, wished him a merry Christmas and asked him how the game was going.

“I’m Gandalf in this game,” he said as he disappeared back into his room. I followed, leaning in the doorway to watch the screen for a moment.

“What do you mean,” I asked. “Your character is named Gandalf?”

“No,” he replied. “I’m Gandalf. You know.”

He dropped the controller to raise his hands in the air for a second.

“I’m bad-ass!”

“Hey! I— you… look, when…” I said, not exactly intelligently. He scooped up the controller again, focusing on the game before him.

“I’m so Gandalf,” he murmured. I chuckled.

Later on as he crossed the kitchen again, the hands went in the air and he pranced a little.

“I’m so Gandalf!”

His mother looked at me for an explanation.

“He’s, uh, he’s pretty Gandalf,” I said.

I think I’ll skip the explanation on this one.

Talk to you later!


  1. "The language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here." (the REAL) Gandalf, on a similar matter.

    1. As the one who started the family tradition of using "Gandalf" as a euphemism, I fully accept any words the real Gandalf has to say on the subject of bad-assery, no matter what the language! ;)