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There’s a zoo about an hour away from us. Used to visit it as a kid a lot but it’s been changed significantly since I’ve been there. This week I went there again since it’s been heavily remodeled.

On the whole the set designers deserve serious praise they really made the place look cool and interesting. Though I found the general information about animals to be seriously lacking. Supposedly there’s a phone app you can download and use but I would have liked some info on the screens as well.

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Recently I started watching both the Highlander modies and series. From a conceptual level it’s a great idea but the execution really leaves a lot to be desired.

The idea of ancient men running around in our modern world lopping off heads and taking power is pretty sweet. But since there’s a lot of nonsensical stuff going around it sort of gets muddled.

So let’s start with the basics:

  • They don’t age and they can’t have children.
  • Nothing kills them except decapitation.
  • They can’t fight on hallowed ground.
  • Decapitating another gives the Quickening a transfer of experience and power.
  • There is some sort of gathering when there are few left.
  • In the end there can be only one.
  • The One gets a prize.

Where both the series and movies kinda get vague is how it’s decided who becomes an immortal. Both Connor and Duncan and others just randomly die and get back up again an immortal. If they’re lucky a friendlier Immortal will show up and train them. Otherwise they just lose their head again.

The problem with this is if random new immortals keep popping up how can there be a one. How can there even be a gathering of the last few remaining.

Then there’s the vow of not fighting on hallowed ground. Doesn’t matter what religion though. In the series they sort of go with the idea that no Immortal would break the vow of not fighting on hallowed ground. In the third movie Connor’s sword breaks when struck. Now the idea of having places were one can be safe without fear of having to fight is not a bad one. Just hard to justify. Mysticism isn’t bad, but it’s also rather vague.

Watching this I sort of had an idea for how to re-imagine this into something a bit more ‘sensible’.

The re-imagining

Keeping in mind the above rules I had an idea of how to rework the whole lore to make a sort of sense.

Let’s start with the catchphrase “There can be only one.”. In order for that to work you need a finite pool of immortals. Having new ones popping up at random doesn’t really work. For that we need to go to the origin of the immortals.

In my idea somewhere in the distant past, possibly stoneage, or perhaps some forgotten age (think Hyborean age in Conan) an event occurs that creates 1000 immortals.These immortals can only die from decapitation but they don’t have Wolverine style super healing. They can get wounded and need recoverytime.

This sets up a limited number of possible immortals, the number is fairly arbitrary and could change. This immortality could be some kind of power housed inside the immortal and is released when killed. When released it will inhabit the closest mortal it can find, unless the head it decapitated by a special type of material that channels the power into the wielder. Thus the swords remain, because that’s just such a huge part of the property.

When an immortal kills another immortal this way he/she gains his memories, experiences, etc. Thus he will become far stronger, it’s even possible physical traits increases are added. Such as better reflexes or getting stronger. (it’s entirely possible to go overboard and give each immortal an ability, but I’d rather not).

However if an immortal dies without such a quickening the power will find a new host transferring the knowledge as well.

This in turn allows for the Hallowed Ground Safety to remain. Such a vow could be so ingrained that even if a new Immortal is born, he or she will have this vow ingrained into them. Including sword fighting abilities. This also motivates immortals to remain secret because otherwise mortals would hunt them down for the immortality.

As a result the number 1000 remains in play, but will start to diminish as Immortals start killing each other. But the total power and experience is not lost. Thus eventually there will be only one, and he or she will have the knowledge and experience of ages.

The gathering is a bit of a toss up. It could be that if the number reduces they’ll start seeking each other out. But nothing should force them to go around killing people.

That concludes my basic re-imagining of the Highlander concept. It’s one of those fun thought experiments.

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9780553418026Every now and then something pops up that has everyone raving about. Recently one of those things was The Martian. Everyone from John Carmack, Chris Hadfield to Adam Savage were raving about this book. Normally when things get a lot of attention I tend to get skeptical, but these are also people I respect for their body of work. So picked it up and started reading it.

Oh boy. This book really IS that good.

I started reading it on the train and was annoyed I had to stop when the train arrived. When I got home at 1 A.M. I just kept reading until it was 2 A.M. and I really needed to try and sleep.

There are many reasons this book is so good. Firstly all the science is about as accurate as it gets. As I recall there was one thing that wouldn’t have worked that the author found after finishing it but oh well. The rest is pretty much all based on information available from NASA and the internet.

Another reason is that this book, more than anything, reminded me of books from the early 20th century. Stuff like Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Invisible Man, John Carter (sort of) and many others. Those books were always written in a journal fashion by people of a specific profession. One that would make sense of getting them into that situation.

Modern stories tend to focus on the everyman or the ‘kid’ as a sort of surrogate for the reader. This book doesn’t do that. Instead the main protagonist keeps a log in case anyone finds it, in which he details his story. All the science is explained in a way that is understandable without being too simple.

All this is covered in a healthy dose of dry humor that makes perfect sense for the type of character writing it.

All in all I can absolutely recommend reading this book.

Let’s leave off with a video of Adam Savage interviewing the author Andy Weir.

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This is a project that has been on my to do list for a very long time. A painted Maverick Nerf Gun

Basically I had bought everything I needed then forgot about it. Remembered it, took it appart, put it in primer, couldn’t find the grey spraypaint, forgot it again. It was only recently during the move that I located the spraypaint and put it in a place I could find it again. With an event involving cosplay coming up I decided to finally finish it.

Thankfully I still had another one as a guide for putting it back together. After I did the gunmetal grey I used copper paint to add highlight and black model paint to make the grip look cooler.

It’s funny how the gun has stenciled on it that you shouldn’t modify it. This is of course to cover their asses in case of accidents. But even so these guns are made for grown ups to mess around with. They could have easily used Glue to put them together and still have a decent device. But instead this thing can be taken apart and changed easily.

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When it comes to ‘cons’ in the Netherlands there aren’t many, and not many allow for any kind of cosplaying. There are however a few events out there that allow it, which attract all manner of crazy cosplays.

One of those is Castlefest which started as a music festival and grew to a huge 4 day event with all kinds of activities. I wasn’t in cosplay because I didn’t have time to fix any kind of outfit. But I took pictures.

One thing I noticed was the veritable swarm of middle-aged men happily photographing young women in dresses and other revealing attire. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I didn’t want to constantly be busy doing that but I managed to ask some amusing and/or impressive cosplayers if I could take their pictures. Along with some other fun shots.