Tag Archives: fantasy

The Power of Stories like Star Wars

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Let the Wookie Read! It is so exciting to me that communities across the world get to connect the power of reading with the awe of Star Wars for the entire month of October. How will you celebrate? Let’s start by commenting below and sharing with us some of your favorite Star Wars stories told in print.

I think a lot of us here at Grey Havens understand the power of a good story. Some of our young and older adults, including yours truly, didn’t really like reading until we came across Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. One good story was all it took to enlighten our minds and spark a passion for more. Star Wars can do that too. Because of Star Wars, countless families will go to libraries during the month of October and probably find new and exciting books to read, maybe for the first time.

Grey Havens celebrated on October 15th at Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone, Colorado. It was a delightful day of droid racing, light-saber making, dramatic readings from William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Jedi-training, and more — including an Interactive Viewing of The Force Awakens after hours. It was wonderful to put our nerdy love of Star Wars to good use by engaging people in reading and community.

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Here at Grey Havens YA, a part of the Grey Havens Group, Inc, we do not separate “low” and “high” art, all art can be meaningful and inspire discussion. We take films, television shows, and YA novels as seriously as we’d take the work of Shakespeare. That’s why it was so fun to combine Shakespeare and Star Wars, to talk about the fictional Jedi and their unique way of life, and to have engage the imagination by interacting with a movie we all know and love.

If you want to learn more about Grey Havens, check out our parent website at GreyHavensGroup.org, and come visit us on Halloween. We love to host fun discussions and events for adults too, and we’re kicking off our adult programming with a Hobbit Halloween and Harry Potter DeathDay Party at our new adult venue: Local Editions in Longmont. Stop by  anytime between 6pm – 8pm for a flyer, some candy, and a chance to learn more about getting involved in this amazing and nerdy organization.
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The Last Stand: Jim Kraven’s Diary #4

Círdan’s Note: Did you know that Grey Havens YA created its own roleplaying game called The Last Stand? In the game, our young adults (and leaders) get to play as any character they chose, some are original creations and others are personal takes on existing fictional characters. Our very own Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian) is the group’s chronicler. He travels with his son Timmy as he journals about each gaming session to keeps us all up to speed. We’d like to share with you now the latest entry from Jim’s journal. Note that “limbo” refers to the times when we’ve stopped playing the game…our poor characters get stuck there a lot! 

When you support Grey Havens YA through our Saturday fundraiser at Menchies, you are helping us to continue to provide these young adults with the environment they need to be imaginative in community.  Be sure to read Jim’s latest diary before diving into this one, and check out the end of our post for the Menchies flyer and a FROYO Challenge. Enjoy!

Day 5

I wonder if anyone else here knows about Limbo. We’re all here, stuck frozen in place. Timmy is standing next to me. He looks like he’s about to cry. He can be such a baby some times. I should ask him why Limbo makes him cry. We all just gained these powers. Must be the GM’s (Game Masters) at work again.

Mango MemeWe’re all back now. Timmy’s crying. Calvin is here. He’s on a search for some quality content. Alas, he didn’t find anything. Everyone is doing their thing. We’re all still recovering from the Nightmare attack. Nova still isn’t back. He’s been gone a while. A small party is going out to go find supplies. And by a small party, the GM’s mean all of us. I threw Timmy up into a mango tree. He got some mangos! But he didn’t come back down. He can’t climb down, and I can’t climb up.

We can now read the book to summon the heavenly beings. We need to draw some symbols on the ground……I’m just gonna leave that to the rest of the group. Right now I have to get Timmy down. The two heavenly beings are here. But some rain and thunder followed. Shelter. We need shelter. There’s a cave. Somewhere. The rain is acid rain! We have to get to that cave! Good thing it isn’t far.

We all get there and Feather finds out the cave is incredibly deep. She also found a book tied to Bucky. Some sort of red book that alters Bucky’s mind. Bucky has the bunny though, so we aren’t going to read them yet. Bucky doesn’t want us to have the book. But we don’t want to destroy it. Feather is gonna hold onto it. It appears to be in Russian. Bucky sets down the bunny and goes after Feather’s backpack. Bucky’s aiming a sniper rifle at the backpack. Feather’s lute calms down Bucky. Duke Brilliance found bones rattling around deeper in the cave. The sounds are getting louder. They’re coming our way. They’re murderous. I grab Timmy and position him behind me. I tried to use my newly gained powers, but I still don’t have a handle on it. A couple of us are going to sneak around them. If we can get behind them, then we can have the advantage. I messed up. They noticed me and Feather. I left Timmy behind in the mango tree. He doesn’t need to be here during the fighting. Hopefully the tree protects him from the rain. I dodged it’s attack, then proceeded to hit it. There’s still all five skeletons. One of them lost an arm and a leg. One of the skeletons is dead. One of the skeletons hit Feather and dragged her back to the fight. She looks pretty bad.

We need to kill these skeletons. The skeletons are fighting back now. We can’t seem to kill them. Calvin’s sick roasts made the skeleton more powerful. Skeleton tears. Odd. They seem to heal them. I wonder if we can use that to heal ourselves. The skeletons hit Calvin back and he went down in one hit. He’s laying comatose in a lambo with a skeleton. I’m just watching right now. The skeletons are attacking everyone else. The demon fire flew over and hit us. There are only two skeletons left. The goddess of light is helping, but the dead skeletons are coming back to life. Bucky smashed the stone.

All the skeletons are dead now. Let’s see if our healer can be useful. The healer healed everyone. Calvin is out of his coma, but he isn’t looking good. A couple of us are pretty beat up. We’re gonna go deeper into the cave. At least, that’s what I thought. Everyone is freezing. Limbo is back. Timmy isn’t here still. I’ll write more tomorrow.

Send us an owl: What’s your favorite roleplaying game? 

And now for the promised FroYo Challenge! Visit Menchies in Longont this Saturday August 27th any time between 11am — 11pm and make a frozen yogurt sculpture! Tweet us or leave a comment in the Facebook announcement, and we’ll let the likes judge the winners! Make sure to present this printed flyer during your purchase so that Grey Havens can receive 20% of the proceeds. Thanks, everyone and enjoy! menchie's full pagejp

Nerd Rock: Rush

Círdan’s note: Welcome back music lovers. On Monday, we kicked off our Nerd Rock series with the psychedelic Pink Floyd. On Wednesday, we tuned in to the revolutionary Led Zeppelin. Today, we take a listen to the band Rolling Stone called, “Geek Gods” — Rush! This blog series was developed by one of our high schoolers, Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528. Hopefully he will continue it in the future, but for now we hope you walk away with at least a few new favorite songs. Let us know in the comments! Also, make sure you read the introduction and his explanation of what makes rock music nerdy in Monday’s Post before continuing to this one. Enjoy!

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Rush

Rush is the nerdiest band of all time. Other bands may feature themes that nerds can connect to but the members of Rush are nerds in the same we are nerds. Because of this, the Canadian progressive power trio has a large and loyal fanbase big enough to rival wp-1462844629413.jpgthat of the Grateful Dead. The band is made up of three of the greatest musicians of all time. Geddy Lee not only plays the bass like a boss but also sings and plays the keyboard at the same time causing him to be rated the #1 bass player of all time by WatchMojo. Alex Lifeson’s guitar skills are legendary (rated second best underrated guitarist by WatchMojo) and (depending on who you talk to) Neil Peart is the greatest drummer of all time using a straight-up orchestra of drums that John Bonham or Keith Moon never used. Peart also served as the main lyricist, writing epic sci-fi and fantasy stories while addressing other elements of nerd culture. The music of Rush is everything a nerd could want:  intelligent, perfectly calculated and downright epic.

Rush formed in 1968 in Toronto. The original lineup consisted of high school friends Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson along with drummer John Rutsey. They were mostly a heavy blues rock band taking cues from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. wp-1462844647848.pngThey released their first album in 1974 where it achieved moderate success with the song Working Man. However because of health problems, Rutsey had to quit the band leaving Rush without a drummer. They recruited Neil Peart who easily surpassed Rutsey as a drummer. Peart also became the band’s primary lyricist. Peart was a major nerd and wrote songs based off works of fantasy and sci-fi. On the band’s next album Fly by Night the group experimented with longer and more complex songs, such as on the song By-Tor And The Snow Dog, which told the epic tale of two fantasy creatures fighting. The album also featured Tolkien references on the song Rivendell.

By Rush’s third album, Caress of Steel, they had gone full prog (progressive rock), now telling epic fantasy stories on over-10-minute-long songs, such as The Necromancer and The Fountain of Lamneth. This obviously put them at odds with their producers who wp-1462844600867.jpgwanted shorter and more accessible songs. Rush refused to comply and released 2112, an over 20 minute long seven part science fiction epic set in the future where rebels battled the evil “Priests of Syrinx” with the power of music, on the album of the same name. The album proved successful, and Rush was beginning to make a large fan base with young nerds who connected with their music. Throughout the rest of the 70’s Rush released more albums filled with songs about greek gods, robots, space travel, immortality, talking trees, and black holes, and though critics either ignored or bashed them, Rush had reached “cult status” with fans.

Listen to the second movement of 2112:

Listen to the nerdy The Trees: 

By the 1980s, Rush began to incorporate synthesizers into their music — meaning Geddy Lee had to add a third job to his role in the band. They began to get radio airplay as well with songs like The Spirit Of  Radio when they started writing shorter songs. In wp-1462844590355.jpg1981, the album Moving Pictures came out which features (at least what critics will tell you) their best set of songs. Rush gradually used more and more synths on their next four albums. However, the use of synths didn’t mean the music got any less awesome. Songs like Natural Science and Countdown show Peart’s geeky love of science and the excitement of space travel, while the song Subdivisions discussed the struggle of not fitting in, basically being a nerd.

Watch the music video for Subdivisions: 

By 1989, Rush had returned to a harder guitar-driven sound with the album Presto and continued this throughout the 90s with albums like Roll the Bones and Counterparts. Though it looked like the band was over after Peart suffered a major personal tragedy, the band returned wp-1462844548883.jpgin 2002 with Vapor Trails leading to Snakes and Arrows in 2007. Rush latest album, Clockwork Angels, released in 2012, was an epic concept album later adapted into a steampunk, dystopian fiction novel. In 2010 the documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage was made telling the story of the band and their struggle of being constantly overlooked. They were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years later and recently celebrated their 40th anniversary with the R40 tour, rumored to be their last major tour.

Watch the trailer for the R40 tour: 

Watch the trailer for Beyond the Lighted Stage:

That’s it for now. I hope you all will check out these awesome artists!!! Nerd (and Rock) On!

Coming Soon: The Beatles, The Who, Queen, Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden, and David Bowie.      

For one final video, take a listen to the epic The Spirit of Radio:

Send us an owl: What is your favorite Rush song and why? What other bands do you consider to be nerdy? Leave us some song suggestions in the comments. 

The Last Stand: Jim Kraven’s Diary #3

Círdan’s Note: And now we return to the mind of our very own Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian) as he recounts our latest foray into The Last Stand, a roleplaying game invented by your young adults. When you support Grey Havens YA through Lucky’s Bags for Change this quarter, you are helping us to continue to provide these young adults with the environment they need to be imaginative in community.  Be sure to read Jim’s latest diary before diving into this one. If you want even more explanation, check out this video as one of our GMs (Game Master) catches us up on the story so far. Enjoy!

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Day 4
I can see the GMs now. That must mean we’re about to get out of limbo. Timmy is going to cry again. I can already tell. Every time we come out of limbo, he cries. Maybe he feels something we don’t while in limbo. I wish my wife was here. She always knew how to calm down Timmy when he cried. We’ll see her again someday. Hopefully.

*BAAAANG* I run to the window. Nothing in sight, but Timmy’s crying even louder so I know I’m not the only one who heard that explosion. Bucky’s back! He must’ve caused the explosion. The zombies are gone. We can finally go outside again!

“Come on Timmy,” I said, extending my hand to him. He grabs it, and I lead him to the door. There’s a new guy. Galahad is his name. Timmy and I stare up as a flash of light fills the sky.

“Daddy,” he says, “What is that?”

I stare down at him. “I don’t know.”

The light is getting closer. It crashed into a hill near the village. It’s binging now. The light is stuck in a crater.

There’s some sort of creature inside it. It wants out. Who would’ve known! It crashed into a strange place, and now it wants out of the wreckage. Bucky ripped the door off. Istar is the creature’s name.

Gunfire rings through the valley. It’s coming from our base!

The group is heading back. I’m still here with Timmy and Eadlyn. I think they forgot about us…

They’re coming back. Our healer actually did something useful for once! She healed Eadlyn’s broken legs.

Timmy is gonna go across the river on the gorilla’s corpse. I’m glad the gorilla is dead. Timmy didn’t like him very much. I’m gonna walk across. Timmy is floating slowly over to us.

We’re heading back to the base. This’ll be quite the walk. I can hear Timmy running to catch up to us.

Woah. I feel really tired all of a sudden. Unknown fell asleep. Everyone is starting to space out and sit down. Istar stays awake. People are starting to pass out. Something is forcing us all to sleep.

Timmy is out like a light. It’s the first time in years that he’s slept without me reading him a story.

I heard Duke Brilliance yell, “There’s something in here!” — then I fell asleep.

——————–S-L-E-E-P-I-N-G——————–

I see my wife. She’s holding Timmy in her arms. Am I dead? No. No, not dead. I must be dreaming. I remember getting back to the inn, then passing out. I just stand there and stare at her. She’s so good with him. Part of me wishes that she was the one here with Timmy, not me. I walk over to her and smile.

“Shhh,” she says, “Timmy is sleeping.” I sit down next to her. I miss her so much. I don’t know when I’ll wake up. Maybe I won’t. I’d be ok with that. Either way, I’m going to savor these moments for as long as possible.

“How have you been?” I ask her.

“I miss you both so much,” she utters through her tears, “I’ve been doing ok….lonely, but ok.” I lean down to give her a hug. As I lean out, I notice blood all over my hands.

“No…” I utter, “Not again!” She collapses as I get transported to some sort of waiting room.

—————————————————————————

Looking around here reminds me of the day when my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with Timmy. It was a great day.

Everyone is here in the room. Well, most everyone. Other than us, the room is empty. None of us know what is going on. All we know is that the Nightmare put everyone to sleep. Nightmare. I guess that’s what’s doing this. That probably explains the whole thing with my wife. People are starting to mingle and move around.

Timmy’s crying again. I pull out his story book and read him his favorite story. The same story that I’ve been reading for the past couple years. I don’t even need the book anymore. I know it by heart. I keep the book so that Timmy has something to look at. Something to distract him from all the violence and chaos going on around us.

Duke Brilliance just informed us that the Nightmare is watching over us, controlling us. The Nightmare can kill us. It doesn’t kill often, but it isn’t very comforting knowing that it can do so.

We know of a remedy to this sleepiness now. Garlic, vinegar, and mint can help counter getting pulled into this world. The walls are full of weak points. It appears that the only way to expose them is to get everyone into the dream world. Istar just summoned a puppy. It’s chasing the bunny around.

There’s a way to summon Siri, a goddess of light. They did it! She’s here! She’s confused. Pure light can be used to destroy the Nightmare. We’re all here now except for Nutmeg. Well. We’re all here. The Nightmare says that she’s lonely. She wants to play a game. Doorways start opening up for us. Three people for each door. A white light emits from each of the doors. I guess we’ll have to break up into groups now. The group is erupting in chatter. The games consist of a bunch of puzzles.

I tried to send Timmy through one of the doors. The door pulled me in too. One more person for our door. I hope we can get out of here.

——–S-L-E-E-P-I-N-G—D-R-E-A-M-S-C-A-P-E——–

A room just materialized around us. It’s me, Timmy, and Feather. She has the bunny with her. I hope our puzzle has nothing to do with dexterity. I’d assume by now that everyone is breaking off and going into their doors. The Nightmare is here. Must be giving Feather and I our puzzle. Here we go. Well that was easy. All we had to do was create three squares using some lines. Feather is gone. Now Timmy. The world goes black again.

——————–R-E-A-L-I-T-Y——————–

We’re awake again. Feather, Timmy, Bucky, Istar, Lunefasentia, and I are the only ones awake so far. Istar’s puppy came through to the dream world. The bunny’s back as well. Gell and (Nick’s Character) are awake now. Let’s see if anyone else can get out of the dreamworld. Duke Brilliance, Lisa, and Kaylen are awake. Bart and Malone are awake. There are still some people asleep. Ok. Everyone’s awake! The Nightmare left since we all played the games.

Here comes limbo. I’ll write more tomorrow.

Círdan’s Note: What an enchanting tale of a Nightmare who’s only wish was to not be alone. Thanks for a great recap, Jim! 
Send us an owl: What do you think of the story so far? Are you excited to see what happens to the company next time? I know I am!

The Last Stand (Jim Kraven’s Diary) #2

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Círdan’s Note: It has been quite a busy 2016 already for Grey Havens YA and Grey Havens Group, Inc. Make sure you’re following us on Facebook for the latest news and Phone the TARDIS if you’d like to be added to our email list. We have some exciting news to share with you this April, but for now we want to take a moment to showcase why we do what we do. One of the reasons Grey Havens YA exists is to help foster the creativity of young adults. Not only have they have blown us away with the invention of their own Roleplaying Game, the game itself has also helped to foster community and inclusion among the group, and it’s a blast to get to watch them work. Today, we get the chance again to peak into one of our member’s imaginations as he recounts the recent events of the game through his character’s diary. Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian) serves as the group’s guard and carries his child around in his backpack. (Find his previous account here.) For this game, we split the party in two and switched back and forth for gameplay. Let’s take a brief glimpse into Jim’s mind and see what he’s thinking while in and out of this strange limbo…

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Sitting here staring at all these ropes for the last few months has been driving me insane. I say months, but I mean minutes. Feels like it though. Hopefully our GM (Game Master) lets us move soon. I wonder where Timmy is…

Oh goodie. Our overlords started with the base group. Now I’m stuck here in limbo for another couple minutes.

“My throats are at your necks,” the new person said. There you go everyone. That’s our overlord. Thank GM we have such a great person ruling over us!

It’s been twenty minutes. Still stuck in limbo. I can’t help but wonder where Timmy is. I hope he isn’t playing with the dead lion corpses. That would be gross. I might disown him if I find him doing that. That’ll show him.

All I can do is stare straight ahead, right into this mirror. At least my locket popped open. I miss my wife. Looting this place reminds me of when she and I went shopping for our new home. Oh…the good ol’ days. Now I’m here. She’s not. Timmy is though…somewhere.

Yes! Out of limbo!

Oooook. Weird noises outside. I don’t see anything from the windows. Well, nothing but fog…and a mob of zombies in the distance. A figure is running to the hardware store out of the fog. It’s Timmy! And…oh…good. He isn’t covered in blood. That’s good.

Gell went to the supermarket. I’m gonna stick around here at the store for a bit. It gives me a good view of the street incase I need to fire shots at the mob. I’m watching the supermarket with my sniper scope. The zombies are close. Dangerously close.

“Timmy,” I whisper, “Go hide behind the counter.” Timmy goes. Unknown is helping carry everyone up to the roof of the market. Good idea. Those zombies are getting really close. Apparently there is a  ladder inside. I’m gonna stay down here to watch the streets.

Timmy started crying. I got his storybook from him and started reading it to him. He stopped. “It’s ok Timmy,” I whisper, clutching him in my arms, “It’s ok.”

I un-barricaded the door to let Eadlyn in, barricading the door behind her. A loud horn just sounded out. The zombies are leaving! Timmy is gonna use his bone knife to fight off the remaining zombies…at least, he thinks he’s going to. I’m not going to let him.

Well, back into Limbo. I’ll try to write more tomorrow.

Círdan’s Note: No, Jim you can’t end it like that! I need to know what happened!! — Ahem. Excuse me. Well, hopefully we can find out next week as Grey Havens YA returns to gameplay in The Last Stand. P.S. Did you know that sometimes we want to roleplay at Grey Havens YA, but we forget to bring dice? When that happens, our members cleverly decide to use either rock-paper-scissors or a handy dice app to get the job done. We don’t let a silly thing like dice stop us! We hope you enjoy these forays into The Last Stand and all it’s zombie-goodness. 

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Send us an owl: If you were there, can you explain the parts of the story that Jim leaves out? Otherwise, what’s your favorite part about roleplaying games?

What Is Geek Philosophy?

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Grey Havens YA is many things. We are geeks and nerds. We are readers, writers, and artists. We are philosophers. Our group takes its name from a harbor in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, a place where ships depart to the Undying Lands, a place that connects the everyday to the extraordinary. The idea is that we are learning to live our lives with one foot in this world and one foot beyond it so that we can look upon ourselves with philosophical distance, seeing what we might not notice until we step back from it, understanding what we might not understand until we look at it with both logic and imagination. This is how we become philosophers or lovers of wisdom (philo-love, sophia-wisdom).

At Grey Havens YA, philosophy is part of everything we do, whether it is our weekly book discussions, Fandoms Unite, Hogwarts Preparatory Academy, or our recent Multigenerational Philosophy Discussion at the Longmont Senior Center. We approach all our endeavors with a spirit and method of inquiry that we call Geek Philosophy.

These are the principles that make Geek Philosophy work.

Philosophy is for everyone. Geek Philosophy is based in a rich tradition that is probably as old as humankind but that, in the West, can easily be traced back to the classical and Hellenistic philosophers.  Pierre Hadot said of these philosophers that they practiced “philosophy as a way of life.” The first principle of Geek Philosophy is that it is not an ivory tower pursuit for professionals, not something just for academic journals or for the big decisions made by governments or corporations; it is for everyone, all the time.  Everyone has a philosophy, a system of propositions according to which they live. Sometimes, these propositions are confused and contradictory. Often, they are unconsciously held. Geek Philosophy helps us to identify our beliefs, hold them up to the light, and change them when they do not stand up to examination. It helps us to live rich, examined lives.

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We are all natural philosophers. In the 1960s, philosopher Matthew Lipman developed a program called Philosophy for Children or P4C that has been replicated successfully many times since. The idea central to P4C is that all humans, even small children, are natural philosophers but it takes years to master the technical jargon that allows us to play the “word games” of professional philosophers. P4C uses literature as a launching pad for jargon-free discussions of the questions that occupy us all: Who am I? Why am I here? Why am I me instead of someone else? What is the good life? What is truth? Beauty? Justice? This leads us to our third principle.

Stories are philosophy without discourse. This includes the stories told by movies, TV shows, video games, music and other visual and performing arts. Behind every story, there is a set of propositions about the world. In story, these propositions are communicated to us in a way that transcends words. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote of the pregnant or poignant instance, an instance that contains all other instances. There is something that can be understood about flowers by watching a single flower grow that can never be understood by consuming all the world’s texts on flowers.

Nature acts through soil, seed, sun, and water to grow the flower. J.R.R. Tolkien believed that stories grow in the human imagination in a similar way. He called this subcreation. A good story contains even more than the author intended. It is more than a construct; it is an expression of the same reality that expresses itself in the growing flower. Goethe wrote that the phenomenon, such as the flower or the story, is the theory. He believed that all of the things people have said about a phenomenon can crowd our minds and keep us from really knowing the thing itself. Know the flower (or the story), he urged, not the abstract idea of it.

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Stories provide us with poignant expressions of love, truth, beauty, justice without abstracting these phenomena. To grasp what a story is communicating is the practice of philosophy because philosophy is about understanding more than it is about explaining. Discourse, or a set of spoken or written propositions, is one result of the practice of philosophy, not the practice itself. That is why we begin each Geek Philosophy gathering by experiencing a story.

In this scene from Doctor Who, the great artist Vincent Van Gogh has traveled through time and space to visit the Musee D’Orsay where a retrospective of his work is being held. To use discourse to communicate everything that this scene communicates about life and art would require volumes and would likely yield less understanding.

This does not mean that we do not value or practice discourse. At every gathering, we benefit from making explicit our implicit understanding of a story. We benefit from visiting each other’s perspectives on the same story but we try not to let our interpretations stand as the last words on the subject. We strive to avoid using discourse to strip the story of its richness, just as discourse should not strip life of its richness. What we feel, what we apprehend through the experience of the story is a more direct experience of philosophy than anything we can say about the story. When we can connect this to our actual lives and create an emotional and intellectual touchstone that we can access when we need to understand something, we have succeeded as philosophers.

Philosophy depends on the imagination. Our discussions do not begin with just any stories but with the imaginative tales of fantasy and science fiction. Memory sees, or purports to see, what we have already seen. Imagination sees things differently. The practice of philosophy demands that we cultivate different perspectives, that we look beyond our day-to-day concerns. Seeking philosophical distance helps us to extend our minds to perceive a problem as it might appear through the eyes of another or even across time and space. The problem is that we tend to get stuck in our own experiences, expectations, and desires, including seeing the theory rather than the thing.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that human beings usually experience the world through “appropriation.” We approach the world with our minds already made up about it because we see it as existing for us, rather than for itself. He believed that we free ourselves from the habit of appropriation through the practice of Recovery.

Recovery, or the ability to perceive without prejudice, can begin when we see ordinary things in an extraordinary setting. Tolkien wrote that we should not weary of painting because we see only the colors we know. Instead, we should make paintings that help us see those colors anew. This kind of thing happens when we see a strange wizard smoking an ordinary pipe or when we see an ordinary blue box surviving the vibrant tumult of the time vortex. What Tolkien called the “arresting strangeness” of the fantastic story wakes us up so that we pay renewed attention even to the story’s familiar elements, like pipes and blue boxes. Fiction that engages the imagination wakes us from the slumber of appropriation.

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A 2009 study by Proulx and Heine suggests that encountering what first seems to be a nonsense scenario, a blue box in the time vortex or a lamppost in a snowy wood, causes us to try to make a deeper sense by looking harder for meaning and coherence. If we are so entrenched in our appropriated world that we cannot imagine anything but only recall what we are used to seeing, we will not get very far in this process. Fantasy primes us perfectly for philosophy because, once our imagination is engaged, we can use it to conjure up all kinds of new possibilities. Geeks are great at this because we are drawn to otherness and entranced by the unknown. We are not afraid of the strange so it doesn’t frighten us to see the strangeness in the everyday.

Have you ever wondered if there is a place where breathing oxygen and walking about on two legs would seem preposterous? If you haven’t, it is because you have gotten used to these things. Probably, it has never occurred to you to do anything but take them for granted. Being used to something or taking it for granted is not the same as understanding it. Until we look at our own two legs with as much amazement as we would look at the wings of dragons, our ability to understand will be circumscribed. Geek philosophy begins with the alien out there and ends with the alien in our own hearts. That is not as frightening as it might sound, not to us, because, in our story, an alien is the one who shows us how amazing the universe really is.

come with me

“Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Outside those doors, we might see anything. We could find new worlds, terrifying monsters, impossible things. And if you come with me… nothing will ever be the same again!” -The Doctor

Now it’s your turn. Let’s start a Geek Philosophy discussion about the clips below. Send us an owl (comment) with your thoughts and try to look at the world anew.

What is true?

What is beautiful?

What is just?

The Last Stand (Jim Kraven’s Diary)

Círdan’s Note: Hopefully you’ve heard by now all about the surreal new gaming experience created by Grey Havens YA titled The Last Stand. Here it seems I’ve found the remnants of a journal written by one of our quest members, Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian). Let’s take a quick look inside Jim’s head and find out what happened the last time our members got together to fight for survival in The Last World… (P.S. Catch up by reading the first game here.)

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Day 2

I apologize for not writing yesterday. I was…preoccupied.

Our table is leg-less. But on the plus side, we got a new gate!

Timmy cried…again. Sometimes I wish he would just go away. But then I remember that I promised my wife I would protect him before she died. Huh….I regret making that promise.

We got a new guy here to our camp. Rumor has it he slaughtered an entire army all by himself. One tough dude. I’ve been appointed as our official Gate Guard. Now that we have a gate, it is a  useful role.

~Thump~ What the heck?  There’s some sort of gorilla here. I thought those things were extinct. I’m gonna go see what’s up with him. He seems like a…weird creature. He seems to be salvaging the bear he killed for food. I’m not sure though. Apparently the bear angered him in a game of chess…so he…killed it. Then he showed up here and now he is going to stay. I swear…we are already running out of food. We can’t deal with all of these new people. While I’m speaking, they are ripping the femurs out of the bear to use as new table legs. Our dragon guy went out to go scavenge for wood. The gorilla followed him. I’m not sure why he’s going, but ok. Now we have a gate, a sort of propped up table. Not much else though.

Apparently, there was some sort of bunny in a log they found. It’s the last of it’s kind. Further examination of the bunny is happening. We were allowed by our great overlord, GM, to use our eyes to examine the bunny. What a miracle. I don’t know how we would have learned about the bunny without our eyes. The gorilla used his clumpy pelt from the bear to make a bed for the bunny.

We happened upon a cave like structure. There are two people inside, both human. One of our own is sneaking inside. She failed, but the dragon guy got in. He disabled the trap, clearing the way for everyone to get in. I dismantled the trap, and while doing so, got us a future defense for our base. The gorilla kicked in their door, and shot at them. He was shot in the process though, but our healer is looking into it now.

Timmy tried to put the fire out by rolling in it. It didn’t work, so someone else put it out.

The gorilla was deceived into not burning down the door of the couple. One of them is pregnant. Timmy is going in to talk to the couple. We’ll see how it goes.

Make me proud son……

Ok, I was just informed that the man is pointing a gun at Timmy. That guy is gonna die if I get ahold of him. They won’t let me approach the room, for fear of this man’s safety. I can relate though. When my wife was pregnant with Timmy, I did everything and anything to help her. We gave the bear meat to the couple.

They took meat, so we took their gun. Now they have no weapons.

Ok, so Timmy alerted the man that his gun was being stolen, so the wife pulled another pistol out.

She currently has it pointed at our group. Duke Brilliance is talking with them, hoping to calm them down. So we came to an agreement. We leave, and we get their table legs. Now we don’t have to use bear femurs anymore. That’s ok. Those things creeped Timmy out anyways. Still not sure why we are here.

So we found out about a nearby town. I guess we are going to head out soon. We took the gun from the gorilla. We headed west. There is an office building in the distance. There’s a pack of mutant lions in a river. The dragon Halfling is going to attempt to fly someone over them.

Let’s see how this goes.

Ok. He made it. We used our weapons to shoot the lions, and then harvest their meat. We made it through the river. So our healer can’t swim. Great. The dragonling is going to try flying her across. He barely made it. The gorilla escaped his binds, snapping the rope in the process.

A grocery store, hardware store, and office building occupy the streets of the town. The gorilla completely failed at jumping across.

He broke through the ice, so we’ll have to see if he can get out.

Aaaaaand he failed. He is currently stuck in the water while our dragonling goes back to help him. There are noises in the grocery store. Let’s hope there aren’t any people there. It’s going down at the river. The gorilla is getting into a fight with one of our members.

A man is in the grocery store, thinking about how much food he is stealing.

The gorilla broke her nose with a swift kick to the face. Our healer can’t even. She tired to heal the broken nose, and succeeded in making it worse. On the plus side, she gave her a rag to hold on her broken nose.

The rope collection at the hardware store is just amazing. All kinds of ropes, both thick and thin.

I’ll write more tomorrow.

Check out more on Wattpad.com as the story develops!

https://embed.wattpad.com/follow/Christopher451?type=2

Send us an owl: What do you think our quest members will find inside the seemingly abandoned city? What in the world is going on with the gorilla?? Tune in next time to see if we find out!

P.S. If you love the fact that we’re helping all generations to engage in literacy, imagination, community, and inclusion and want to help us continue, check out this super fun way you can support us this December!

Grey Havens YA’s Last Stand!

RPG Dice

The year is 2602. The planet once known as Earth has been callously re-christened The Last World. America is now popularly known as The Corruption. The Sahara Desert is covered in frozen ash. Days are short and dark. The temperature remains at a stubborn 14 degrees Fahrenheit. There are zombies, dragons, zombie dragons and killer wasps. Who can you trust? How will we survive?

RPG Character Sheet

This is the world of The Last Stand, a role-playing game developed by Grey Havens YA members at last April’s Real Myth and Mithril Symposium. Today, we finally got to come together in one large group to play! Some of our characters are road-weary loners, some are brilliant but aloof and unstable, motivated by self-interest or fear, some are too trusting and kind. Some have magic, others have science and mechanical skill. None of these skills are infallible.

Some have empathy or telepathy, others have trouble understanding what goes on in another person’s head. One carries his small son across the post-apocalyptic landscape in a backpack, wondering at times if the burden is too much. One of us is a Martian, kind but lost and overwhelmed by the thoughts that flood her mind. Another is slightly mad from all she has seen, though we don’t know what memories haunt her. There is a man in the camp who can be quite caustic but hovers around his community anyway. One man has golden eyes and no one knows his name. One is the sole survivor of a recent, terrible war. Our dragon is helpful but he snores. Times are harder than they have ever been. Is this really what we do for fun? Absolutely it is!

RPG Group 2

Role-playing games are good for the mind, heart and soul. If we can be anything we want, why do we give our characters limitations and problems? Why not just place ourselves in paradise? Why do we harness our imaginations to the roll of a polyhedral die? Because problems are solved, beauty is created and relationships are forged when our limitless daydreams have to fit themselves into a world that, as wild as it may be, is still governed by rules. Every time we roll the die, we risk failure but risk is our business. We don’t just hack our way through trouble either. We have weapons but we also have skills. We have strengths and weaknesses and we use them all to try together to find what each of us is looking for.

Real life is like that, too, isn’t it? Sometimes we have everything we need to succeed but circumstances turn against us anyway. Sometimes, everything goes our way. You can’t have everything you want but you can have adventure–in the game and outside of it. We also have each other.

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Our young adults built this world with all its dire problems and it is likely that they will save it many times over.  They each put nuance and depth into their characters while our game master oversees the whole thing with patience and wit. It is easy to be impressed by this. It is easy to see them going on to do great things in our own world, such as showing compassion for all kinds of characters, finding ways to work together even when the compassion hasn’t risen to the surface yet, solving problems, understanding when things don’t go their way but allowing themselves to feel elation when they do. It is also easy to see how gaming is helping them to fulfill their potential on the way to adulthood.

Gaming is part of a great tradition of storytelling, a myth that metamorphoses in the telling. It is collective storytelling, a tale adapted by each mind that joins the quest, causing the other minds to bend and twist to keep up. In a role-playing game we can see through strange eyes. Each player tries out a persona that emerges from a mix of compassion for their own attributes, empathy for what it must be like to be another, a bit of wish fulfillment and a lot of adapting to everything that comes along, including zombies, dragons, zombie dragons, killer wasps and, from time to time, a bit of luck.

rpg character drawing

RPG Gigi Character

RPG Robyn Jayne Katie

The Last Stand proved so popular with our members that we would like to add regular gaming sessions to our schedule and, perhaps, even invite more gamers to join us but this would require more time and resources than we currently have. Click here to help! Click here to learn about what happens at a Grey Havens YA meeting when gaming is not on the agenda. May fortune fall upon your every roll!

Send us an owl: What is your favorite role-playing game? What is your favorite gaming memory? 

In December, we begin reading and discussing The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. We would also love to know your favorite memories of reading this great author.

martian quote

Notes from an Extremely Geeky Week: Geek Fair and READCON 2015!

who shot first geek fair

Who shot first?

At the end of every Grey Havens YA meeting, we share what we call Fandom Moments, telling each other of the geeky and nerdy things that happened to us during the week. Over time, we have come to realize that our lives are replete with Fandom Moments but some weeks are even geekier than others. There is, for example, the time we went to Denver Comic Con and the time we spent a week LARPing Harry Potter for young witches and wizards beginning their magical educations. The week of Sunday, September 20 through Saturday, September 26 is right up there with the geekiest of our geeky weeks. What a time we had!

geek fair group photo

It all started with Geek Fair, part of the Longmont Museum’s Cultural Resources Fair. Geeky artists and organizations came together from all over the Front Range to help us honor our community’s teachers with a show of geeky solidarity!

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The programming began with a panel of Geeky Educators, featuring two teachers, the leader of the Longmont Public Library’s Animé Club and a parent-child psychologist. They shared how fandom culture enriches their lives and work, helping them to relate to and inspire youth and their families. One educator spoke of the desire to dispel the stigma around intelligence and curiosity. Another told us that she tries every day to remind her students of the Doctor’s words, “In 900 years of time and space, I have never met anyone who wasn’t important.” It is pretty clear why we ❤ ❤ geeky teachers. The conversation continues in our Geeky Teachers group on Facebook!

geeky educators

The panel was moderated by Grey Havens YA members who talked about what their geeky teachers mean to them. 

After the inspiring panel, we danced!! We also sang fandom-themed songs, had a captions contest and answered some challenging fandom trivia questions. This was our first time presenting the full Fandoms Unite program for an all-ages crowd. We didn’t want it to end. It simply does not get any better than seeing members of the Society for Creative Anachronism dancing like Baby Groot in full medieval garb!

dance like baby groot

While all this was happening, guests browsed tables hosted by local cultural organizations. The geeks were well-represented, including the Cerar Clan of the Mandalorian Mercs, The Barony of Caer Galen, the organizers of Myths and Legends Con as well as geeky artists, podcasters and entrepreneurs.

cerar clan  mini painters


caer galen
    beyond the trope geek fair

By the end of the day, we had bonded in that way that geeks so easily bond, through shared enthusiasm and a love of the imagination. We rounded out the day with a kind of geek summit meeting, bringing together representatives from our guest organizations to share their geeky dreams. That conversation continues in our new Geeky Leaders of Colorado group on Facebook. Until we meet again, geeks of the Front Range, stay shiny and may the Force be with you!

geeky leaders discussion

What do you want to do tonight? The same thing we do every night–try to take over the world (or just make it a little geekier)!

The Longmont Museum is a perfect partner for Grey Havens YA. The building is beautiful, flooded with light with plenty of space to play, including the highly interactive Robots Rising exhibition that continues through January. They are a local haven for imagination and creativity so, when it comes to geeks, of course they just get us!

You would think that Geek Fair would be enough geekiness for one week but it didn’t stop there! Just six days later Grey Havens YA was at READCON 2015 at the Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone. You can imagine our relief when we we were assured that all the libraries in the High Plains District are Vashta Nerada free!

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We stayed out of the shadows, just in case. 

We were proud to be part of the official READCON 2015 launch by helping to host the pre-READCON breakfast at The Brew at Dejalu Books. It’s such a great place for coffee, crepes, and books! Our members came in cosplay to greet guests, talk about books and draw free pictures for anyone who wanted a little fandom inspiration to take home. The walls were decorated with the works of Grey Havens YA artists and the atmosphere was thick with our particular brand of enthusiasm.

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readcon menu

A few butterbeers and a hearty Second Breakfast gave us the fuel we needed for more fun!

After breakfast, we headed over to the library. We were greeted, not only by library staff, but by a familiar blue box. We knew we were in the right place!

 tardis readcon

Arriving at READCON 2015 in style. Allons-y!

Our members served as official judges of the genre book display competition and designed their own libraries using Minecraft. There were things to do and see all over the library, even outside, but, if you were looking for Grey Havens YA’s directors, chances are you would find them inside the incredibly clever “What Would the Doctor Read?” interactive display.

where to go

So much to do and see at READCON!

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What WOULD the Doctor read? He would ask Grey Havens YA for book recommendations!

Just being at READCON was a joy for us but we were also thrilled to present a panel about our favorite books. Grey Havens YA members talked with insight and humor about all of their most beloved young adult fiction. The audience was very engaged and, after the panel, they could check out the books for themselves from the beautiful Grey Havens YA book display!

reacon displayreadcon audienceWe had a great audience!

reacon panel

We tried to take a serious picture. We really did…

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… but it just didn’t work out that way!

We are tremendously grateful to Carbon Valley Regional Library for inviting us to be part of READCON 2015 at their warm and welcoming library. We can’t wait to return with more Grey Havens YA programming! This week, we will be returning to our regularly scheduled book discussions but our imaginations will linger a while longer at Geek Fair and READCON!

TARDIS photobomb

Best accidental photobomb ever! The expression on the face of the kid in the corner sums up our feelings about our amazing geeky week. We can’t wait for next year! Good thing we have a TARDIS!

Click here for a full slideshow of photos from READCON 2015. More from Geek Fair and READCON 2015 – including videos – coming soon! Make sure to like our Facebook page for daily updates and more photo fun!

Send us an owl: Did you attend Geek Fair or READCON 2015? Did you have as much fun as we did?

Yun Tinvok!

(For the purpose of this post, all of the Dovahzul will be in italics.)

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Drem yol lok! Kaeon here. This is my first post and I’m excited to show you all what I’ve been up to. I have always been fascinated with learning different languages (for the reason that languages connect us in the first place), and fantasy languages are no exception. As of late, my new language of choice is Dovahzul, or Dovah. Dovahzul is the language spoken (and written) by dragons in the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. After doing some looking online, I found this pretty neat website with a lot of helpful tools such as a translator, dictionary, games and even lessons. (The website is called Thuum. It’s linked if you’d like to see it. I’d recommend it to everyone interested in the language.) But, before I begin, if you wish to read this post, or any website in Dovahzul, you need to download this font Dovahzul (No Viruses :D) and go here- Thuum Library. Once there, scroll down until you find a resource called Dragon Rune Bookmarklet by Foduiiz. Drag that into your bookmarks bar and now you can just click it, and BAM. Dovahzul runes replace almost everything. (If you did this, try it now and see how it works. If you want it to go away, click the bookmark again or refresh the page.) Now that all of that is out of the way, time to learn some Dovahzul! In this post, I will be teaching you the alphabet and special characters, punctuation, and a few basic words.

The alphabet in Dovahzul is 34 runes long, but this post will go over the english spelling of these runes. Here is a list of the characters in the alphabet:

-A, AA, AH, B, D, E, EI, EY, F, G, H, I, II, IR, J, K, L, M, N, O, OO, P, Q, R, S, T, U, UU, UR, V, W, X, Y, Z

Each of the above letters has a corresponding rune which can be viewed here. Now, there are also special characters, which are combinations of the normal alphabet. These are:

-AE, AU, NG, SH, TH

These special characters will use the runes from the alphabet, but they combine them to mean something else. They can also be viewed here. Punctuation is also available in Dovahzul. The punctuation you can use is:

-A Period .

-A Comma or Pause ,

-A Question Mark ?

-An Exclamation Mark !

Once again, each has a corresponding rune that can be found here. If you wish to memorize these runes and their meanings, you can use this wonderful course that I found on Memrise. (Course!) That course will help you memorize those runes in no time! Another helpful way to memorize those is to play Skyrim. Yep, that’s right. Whenever you come across a wordwall, take the time to write down the runes and try to translate it. You may need a dictionary so here’s a link to one.

There are many words you can learn in the Dovahzul language, over 3,000 of them. They range from cannon to modern. This post will teach you 1 basic phrase and 17 words.

Phrase:

1. Drem yol lok = Peace fire sky (This is a common greeting among dragons.)

Words:

1. Dovah = Dragon

2. Dov = Dragonkind

3. Lok = Sky

4. Aan = A / An

5. Geh = Yes

6. Nid = No

7. Fin = The

8. Faal = The (Formal)

9. Yol = Fire

10. Keizall = Skyrim

12. Drem = Peace

13. Ahrk = And

14. Do = Of

15. Pah = All

16. Su’um = Breath (If you were to write this in dragon runes, you wouldn’t put an apostrophe there, so it would be just Suum.)

17. Dovahkiin = Dragonborn (I had to include one we all knew! :D)

Well, that’s all for this post of Yun Tinvok! If more is requested in the future, I will write more. I hope you enjoyed this and gained some new knowledge about the language of Dragons!

~Kogaan fah fin etaak, (Blessing/Thanks for the read,)

Kaeon

Send us an owl (or a Letter from a Friend): What’s your favorite fantasy language?

NOTE: Painting at top of page also by Kaeon. Isn’t she awesome?! -Círdan