Catching

Alistair,

My father-in-law-to-be, otherwise a reasonable guy, wants me to bring him a Phoenix feather to prove that I’m worthy of his daughter’s hand in marriage. I fail to see exactly why bringing feathers shows that I’m good husband material, but I’m willing to play along. Any advice?

Catching Fire in Nebraska


Catching,

Your failure to understand your future father-in-law’s intended point here is due to the fact that you know little of his daughter, little of phoenix feathers, or know little of either. 

You need to be okay with getting burned, is what he’s saying. 

So since you’re asking for advice, take the time to evaluate your commitment to this relationship.

Alistair

Draconic

Alistair,

Strange mutations showing up all over my body. We’re talking spikes, horns, maybe even some wings. When should I get worried, or see a doc?

Draconic in Lancashire


Draconic,

As long as your spikes, horns and wings are healthy, I can’t imagine why a medical practitioner would need to be contacted. Rub a heavy grease into horns to avoid splitting or flaking. Leave your spikes alone – draconic spikes should be self-oiling through glands at their base. If you’re growing wings, just be sure to exercise them regularly as they come in to avoid stunted development.

Your doctor will not know how to take care of any actual problems that might develop with your new anatomy. Worst case scenario, contact a veterinarian. 

Alistair

RIP

Alistair,

I’ve recently taken up ghost hunting as a hobby. Stumbled into it, sort of, and I’ve sent six of them their eternal rest, if you know what I mean. I’m wondering when a good time to consider going pro is?

RIP in Wyoming


RIP,

Taking a hobby and making it a profession is one of the most precarious decisions that one can make, especially when you’re relying on something like ghost-hunting. You need there to be a high volume of nuisance ghosts that people are willing to pay you to remove. Sadly, while dead people are no rarity, ghosts are. More than that, less than 30% of “nuisance ghosts”, which are already a small minority, affect humans. Of those people affected, most are either in denial, oblivious or tolerant. So frankly, the market’s not there.

If by “going pro”, you refer to relying on this venture as a source of income, I would say that the time is never. Unless, of course, you find a way to change the factors contributing to the market. Then you might have something.

Alistair

Always Wondered

Alistair,

What is the origin of the saying: “A gargoyle sallied, a banshee’s cry”?

Always Wondered in Bristol


Always Wondered,

Worry less about its origins if you’ve actually heard this saying. The day a man uses this within your earshot, leave immediately. Take nothing, communicate with no-one. Just run and don’t stop.

Incidentally, it’s from Celtic story about a Gathering of the Fae. There was a misunderstanding with some mead, and it all went uphill from there.

Alistair

Just Curious

Alistair,

If you’re hiding in a closet, say, and there’s a group of faceless men in black looking for you, what’s the best hypothetical way to escape? All just theoretical, but if you could answer really fast that’d be great.

Just Curious in Flagstaff


Just Curious,

My personal first instinct would be to immediately extricate myself from the aforementioned closet for two reasons. The first is that closets are the favored lairs of most species of boogeymen; you’d feel daft if they went wandering in there with nothing more in mind than a quick lurking break only to accidentally find their prey awaiting their arrival. The second is that The Faceless hunt primarily by telepathically detecting intentions. If your intention is “hide from The Faceless in this closet” they will pick up on that and zero in on your location with breathtaking efficiency. So in this hypothetical situation, I would recommend that you leave the closet and start really focusing on your immediate need to do something mundane and unrelated to the events transpiring. Focus your intentions on shopping, cleaning or finding a bird of a specific color. This should throw them off the scent, whereupon they will likely retire to a nearby closet to regroup.

Alistair

Brain Day

Alistair,

I have a friend who keeps insisting that she sees evidence of a greater intelligence at work in historical sites/artifacts. I keep telling her that our less evolved ancestry cannot have been more intelligent than we are and insisting that there’s no evidence of any outside influence that could explain prehistoric ingenuity. She remains unconvinced. Could you perhaps weigh in on this discussion?

Never Skip Brain Day in Sioux Falls


Brain Day,

As Hekate always used to say before she stopped saying things, “Hard work suffers sloth; great virtue suffers iniquity; abundant wisdom suffers stupidity.” It was the kind of thing she said. Existing in a quasi-triunal form tends to make you think in hendiatres. The point is, elaborate tech (like paper, cloth and cigarette lighters) makes life simple so people don’t have to be as smart anymore (abundant wisdom -> stupidity… you get it). It’s only when things are complicated or difficult that we get to see people approximating brilliance. Fortunately for humanity’s self-respect, life is always able to ascend new levels of both complexity and difficulty. 

What I’m trying to convey is that stupid and smart have a sort of Yin and Yang relationship – the smarter some groups, the stupider some members can be. 

Was higher intelligence holding humanity’s collective hand in prehistory? Sometimes, I guess. Sure. But a lot of the time there was more of a class project atmosphere. Believe it or not, humans were not the lowest sentient intelligence in the days before metallurgy and three-piece loincloths.

Alistair

Uncomfortable

Alistair,

Last night as I stood alone watching my fields of wheat being stroked by wind and moonlight, a cold chill – so cold that it frosted the grass upon which I stood – swept over me. I staggered back and stared down at the whitened lawn in shock. When I looked up, I beheld movement among the stalks of wheat. I soon saw that there were adders – several hundred at least – gliding rapidly toward me. I was transfixed with horror and they soon overtook me, surrounding and covering me. They did not bite and they did not mind when I moved… walked… ran to escape them. They stayed mildly by and are with me even now as I write this to you. They cover my body and watch me with intent concentration.

What is this? Why are they here? What is happening? Will they ever leave?

Quite Uncomfortable in Pozo de la Rueda


Uncomfortable,

It’s a fairly standard set of omens you have going on. In a word, you are probably an ancient pagan religion’s dark messiah, come to engulf the world in pain and make all mankind kneel or be destroyed. Before you do decide to seize your destiny, however, I point out the following: This isn’t unprecedented, and setting a trend of raising new ages tends to bring the other dreamers out of the woodwork.  Second, the more civilized parts of humanity are much better armed. Trying to conquer the world with the power of a man suited for conquering sword-swinging warriors of the days of yore is kind of a suicide-by-lead-and-high-explosives these days. Lastly, most of your warlords had a war to lord over. Given that you have no context whatsoever for your heritage, it’s safe to assume that anyone who would throw in with you with the required amount of devotion probably died of smallpox a while ago.

In the meantime, keep the adders fed until you decide what to do with them. They won’t bite you, but they’ll all start dying at around the same time, which is just a horrific mess.

Alistair

Bleeding Heart

Alistair,

Do angels cry?

Bleeding Heart in San Francisco


Bleeding Heart,

Obviously, the soft ones – packing absurd levels of compassion and empathy – do. The most glorious Orders they ever receive is slaying an evil king; not big on the totem pole of Celestial assignments. Then, while they mourn the necessity of hurrying along villainy to the eternal reward, the rest of them get to test the limits of humanity.

Alistair

Not Royalty

Alistair,

I have recently found myself talking to trees. I admit, it’s not something I ever saw myself doing, but I started onto discussing the weather with an aspen the one time and was surprised by its capacity for conversation. Since then I have taken to chatting it up with all sorts of trees and while some are decidedly more intelligent than others, I find that they’re all worth the time. My family frowns heavily upon this and my neighbor’s mother has – in a rather unfriendly manner – likened me to King George III. So what’s the reality here? Am I actually talking to trees, or am I mad?

Not Royalty in Kensington


Not Royalty,

Yes, you are probably, to employ a medical term, stark bonkers. The good news is, so are most trees; that’s what happens when you spend a significant lifespan in exactly the same area.

Alistair

Buying

Alistair,

This morning a man came crawling out of my microwave. I saw it happen. It was real. I asked him how he got in there and all he said was: “What’s important is that I got out! I never thought I would!” and then he sprinted out of my house, straight through a screen door. Since then, this has happened eleven more times with eleven different total strangers. At this point, I’ve actually just taken to leaving my door open to avoid further damage being done to it. So… What the actual dickens is going on right now?

Buying a Toaster Oven in Vermont


Buying,

This is a known problem with a certain model of Whirlpool microwaves. A particular design of the cavity magnetron accidentally linked the main chamber to that of a side-dimensional shunt, most commonly used as a prison cell. The fleeing characters are the convicted escaping out through the hole. There’s probably an enormous reward on their heads; don’t try to collect it. Odds are, you’ll be the main attraction in a particularly unsettling crime scene. I suggest that you simply dispose of the microwave in the safest possible manner. For instance, drop it into the deepest river you can find, or the main tank of a nuclear power station.

Alistair