Nashville: The Attractions

Nashville, is a tourist city, a state capital, and a center for the music, car, and health industries. All these things lead to a great deal of fun things to do, see, and visit in the city.

Nashville has an almost exact replica of the Parthenon from Athens in the American city’s Centennial Park.

No joke here, the tour guides are awesome.
Beautiful AND COMPLETELY UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW of the Nashville Parthenon.

The Nashville Parthenon is complete, unlike the Athenian Parthenon which seems Continue reading

Bucket List

Around Thanksgiving last year I made a bucket list for myself. A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die (kick the bucket).

So here’s the list along with why I want to do each thing.

1. Finish my Things Fall Apart screenplay and attempt to turn it into a movie.
I read Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, in high school and one of my first thoughts upon finishing it was, “This would make an awesome movie.” I set out to find the movie and… there isn’t one. There is a TV show, but it was produced in Nigeria and I couldn’t find a DVD version available in the USA. I started a screenplay adaption of the book and also seriously considered going to Bard for college where Achebe taught while he was still alive. I’d still like to see a movie of Things Fall Apart and with no one else working on it as far as I know, it’s up to me! I would have to get permission from Achebe’s family at some point though.

2. Have kids.
Pretty simple American dream stuff here. I like children a lot. I want to have some of my own.

3. Coach soccer for my kids.
This was one of the big things that my dad and I did together to bound when I was a kid. He coached my AYSO soccer teams so I got to hang out with him a lot over the years. I’d like to have the same sort of bond with my kids.

4. Attend a dance recital for my kids.
While I played soccer as a kid, my wife did dancing. Since I want our kids to play soccer it’s only fair that they dance too. I can’t teach dancing, but I can still support my kids doing it by going to see them.

5. See Wicked.
People have been telling me how good this musical is ever since it came out and ten years later I still haven’t see it or the movie. I should fix that before I die.

6. Go to a secluded ruin in Greece.
I love ancient Greek and Roman culture. I visited Rome and Athens with my sister in high school. I got to see a lot of the still intact buildings while I was there like the Pantheon, Partheon, Colosseum, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. I’d like to see other ruins that are in more secluded areas instead of being in the downtown tourist places of capital cities. Greece has plenty of secluded islands with ancient ruins in the Aegean, so I’d like to go to one of those. Preferably with my wife coming along.

7. Learn ancient Greek.
Part of the whole loving ancient Greek and Roman culture. There wouldn’t be much purpose to knowing ancient Greek beyond doing it for its own sake. I might be able to read the Iliad in the original language but I have a feeling that I’d still enjoy the translated version better because I wouldn’t need to look up what a word means every five lines. Still! I wanna learn ancient Greek!

8. Have a popular website/attached sites.
This site. The one you’re on right now. And/or the Twitch and YouTube channels I’ve started up.

9. Design something for a video game that is actually used in that video game later on.
I’d like this to be through merit along. Something like designing a champion for League of Legends that Riot Games actually uses in the game. That’s unlikely because A) Riot avoids using fan made ideas to avoid copyright issues, and B) I might not be good enough at designing video game concepts to pull this off. If all else fails a few of the larger rewards for video game Kickstarter campaigns allow you to create something for the game. If merit doesn’t pan out for whatever reason, I can always use money.

10. Buy a house.
More American dream stuff. Pretty simple. I think most people want a place to live that belongs to them and them alone.

11. Do a dance routine with my wife to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”
When I was in elementary school I went to a sleepover camp. One night there was a dance where all the kids and the counselors got together, danced, hung out, and watched movies. Two of the counselors did some sort of choreographed routine to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” that amazed me ever since. I’d like to replicate it in some way with my wife.

12. Finish the novel/novel series I’ve been working on called Light’s Shadow.
I had a recurring dream when I was a kid where I inserted myself into various TV shows and comics that I watched/read. I started writing a novel of it and I’d like to finish it before I die. I’d also like to publish it before I die, but given that the premise of the novel includes about a dozen copyrighted works, I doubt that’s happening. I might be able to put it on a fan fiction website though.

13. Finish the Gurutama campaign setting and create a PDF of it that I can upload here.
In the process of doing this one on here already. The end goal is to have something that resembles an official D&D campaign setting in one document. Illustrations, borders, page numbers, etc. The whole thing.

14. Invent a cool biology thing.
One of my idols is Sir William Lawrence Bragg, the youngest scientist to ever win the Nobel prize at 25 years old. He, along with his father, invented X-ray crystallography which was used to discover the double-helix structure of DNA and many other molecular structures. Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to get the Nobel prize at that age today. Nobel prizes in the sciences are often given ten years after an initial experiment as the Nobel committee waits for others to replicate the work of the original discoverer. Most people don’t have amazing scientific discoveries until they’re at least 25 years old which would make it difficult to copy Sir William Lawrence Bragg. I’d still like to do something of scientific significance. Hopefully something to do with endosymbiosis, but I’ll take whatever the world ends up giving me.

15. Go camping in Yosemite with my wife and kids.
My family did this a lot when I was a kid and I really liked it. Got to keep the tradition alive!

And there you have it. My bucket list objectives as of January 2015.

-Mister Ed

My Campaign World

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That’s a map of my campaign world which is physically based in a completely altered landscape north of the Caspian Sea.

Keeping with the theme of D&D Mondays, here is an introduction into the decisions I made while designing the campaign world that my players currently use.

The initial impetus for creating my campaign world came from the gods that are present in the D&D manuals. D&D has a few of its own pantheons and none of them make a great deal of sense to me when compared to real polytheistic religions.

Real religions have gods with relationships between each other. They are often members of the same family with a well known family tree. Stories and personalities exist for each of the gods.

D&D has no such relationships. Each god appears to be its own religion, making the pantheon of gods somewhat irrelevant. There is no well established mythology, and the bare facts that do exist will change based on which edition of D&D is played.

I much prefer the Greek pantheon. They were all related. They had stories about them. I understood why they did things. Best of all, everyone already knows about them! It’s actually required in USA schools to learn about them.

The problem with using the Greek gods in a D&D campaign is all the stuff associated with Greece in the myths. I didn’t want to switch to a real setting, only more realistic gods. So I changed the location of the gods.

Within my world, after the Trojan War, the gods realized that the Greeks couldn’t really handle the gods fighting over them. The gods moved west to the area around the Northern Caspian Sea and created new races to play with.

Elves, dwarves, halflings, and orcs were made for the gods to mess around with along with monsters and more humans. The new races were given far more magical power, so they could survive the gods’ attentions.

I significantly changed the geography around the North Caspian. I didn’t have any reason to do this beyond creative freedom. The name of my campaign world and the area north of the Caspian is called Cimmeria. This is actually what the ancient Greeks called it, so why not keep the name?

The current year in my campaign world is 396BC. The characters wouldn’t actually call it that, but for the sake of unambiguity, we’re using the Christian year system.

I simplified the month system. Every year lasts 360 days and every month lasts 30 days. The full moon is always on the 30th and the 1st of every month and the new moon is always on the 15th and 16th of every month. There are no weeks, instead there are “tendays.” This is just to make it simpler for me, so I don’t have to keep track of months, weeks, and moons. Also, yes, this is the way the world actually works in my campaign. The year is literally 360 days instead of just being measured that way.

Other pantheons do exist in my campaign (Persian, Egyptian, Indian, Norse), but don’t appear very often. Other cultures also exist outside of the ones in Cimmeria, but these other cultures are rarely featured in the sessions of the campaign.

The world is flat and the sun god’s chariot goes around the Earth every day. The other side of the world is inhabited by scary monsters and Atlas, who holds up the world. The planes (those other dimension things) are laid like pancakes on or around the earth. The typical image of Hell below and Heaven above fits very well.

Most of the cities in Cimmeria are city-states, but there are two exceptions. the Xorian Empire and the Aractrash Kingdom. The Xorian Empire has been expanding over the last hundred years. The Aractrash Kingdom has several cities within the Aractrashan Jungle. The jungle was united under one king around one hundred years ago.

That’s all the basic information of my campaign world. More to come later!

-Mister Ed

Alexander the Great

Alexander Movie Poster

I’ve been writing a paper on Alexander the Great over the past two years. The paper compares the ancient sources on Alexander’s life with modern media such as the movie above.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Alexander, he was a Macedonian King that conquered most of the world known to western and near eastern civilizations at that time.

Macedonia is one of the hilly nations north of Greece. The Macedonians had a culture similar to that of Greece. I’d rather not get too deep into the debate about whether Macedonians are ethnically Greeks or not. The debate actually decides some of the territory lines between Macedonia and Greece. I think its safe to say that the ancient Greeks thought of Macedonians as uncivilized rude Greeks. A bit like how Democrats see Republicans and vice versa.

Macedonians were famous for drinking a lot more than the Greeks. Alexander the Great shared this alcoholic problem. The ancient histories about him contain many episodes in which he gets outrageously drunk. He even kills one of his best friends during one of his binges.

There’s also a lot of speculation about whether Alexander was a homosexual or not. This speculation is sparked by Alexander’s close friendship with another man named Hephaestion. The relationship was likely not sexual. Greeks did condone male-to-male sexual relationships, but only if they were pedophilic. The older man was seen as teaching the younger one. When the younger became an adult, the loving relationship transitioned into a lifelong friendship.

Alexander was almost certainly not in such a relationship with Hephaestion. The ancient Greeks do not use the words for such a relationship when describing the two. Alexander and Hephaestion were also the same age, making the pedophilic aspect of such relationships impossible.

Alexander did have homosexual relationships with other men. Additionally, he was married to three women. This sort of pansexuality was typical of a Macedonian king of the time.

The reason I bring all this sexuality stuff up is that Alexander is often dropped as an example of an ancient gay man. For example, one debater says, “There’s no historical tradition of gay marriage. We don’t know what that would do to our society.”

Then another person says, “But the ancient Greeks had homosexual relationships! Look at Alexander the Great and his lover Hephaestion!”

The first statement is the correct one. Alexander was not gay. Its not even clear if he was pansexual. He may have been heterosexual, but pressured into homosexual relationships because they were expected of someone in his position. The homosexual relationships he took part in were not with Hephaestion, they were with pre-teen boys. Using this point in an argument is kind of like shooting yourself in the foot. The Greeks may have had homosexual relationships, but they were pedophilic in nature and they were certainly not marriages.

Just a little nerdy historian bit from me. That’s all for this week!

-Mister Ed