Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's Year of Usagi Yojimbo!

Look out Thomas Edison,
this dude invented pants.
Dear Emperor Huangdi,

Happy New Year! Hey, congratulations on inventing the Chinese calendar, and you know, ruling ancient China. Also, I see that you invented carts, boats and clothes (thanks Wikipedia!) which I'm sure is totally true. You must be very proud. I mean, yeah, you did live like 4,500 years ago so none of the obvious inventions were taken yet. All I'm saying is that if you were around today you'd probably have to come up with cold fusion or hover cars or some kind of special yogurt that keeps Jamie Lee Curtis regular. Don't get me wrong though, boats are nice too.

Chupacabra: can't catch a break.
Anyway, I want to talk to you about your calendar. I was born in the Year of the Goat. Yeah...what's the deal with that? I mean, I know it could be worse but there's a Year of the Dragon and I'm a goat? I realize that you lived in ancient times, but surely you must have been aware that there were more than eleven non-mythical animals out there. And since mythical animals were clearly on the table, why did you stop with Dragons? There could be a Year of the Minotaur or a Year of the Unicorn. That would have been rad.

Don't worry though, I'm not interested in assigning blame (to you), I'm here to provide solutions. So, for the sake of everyone who got stuck with a crap animal, don't you think it's time we re-evaluated the Chinese Zodiac?

This is not my sign...
...this is. See the problem?

After all, the western zodiac got a huge overhaul whether people wanted it or not, so why not the Chinese system? Look, Dragon, Monkey, Snake, these are all awesome animals. I'd even take Dog, but the Pig, Rooster and Goat? Less than thrilling. Seriously Emperor Huangdi, some of us got pretty screwed. To right this wrong, I propose the following substitutions:

Here, the Hercules battles the Boar...
at least I think that's what they're doing.
Pigs are a little lame as zodiac animals go. It's not that I have anything against them as animals, it's just that they're not terribly intimidating and tend to make people think of bacon rather than quake in fear. I suggest replacing it with the Erymanthian Boar, a legendary monster-pig. According to myth (and Wikipedia), the Erymanthian Boar obeyed the will of the war-god Aries, could lay waste to the countryside, killed a god and battled Hercules. So, Year of the ancient Greek god-slaying Boar-whatta ya think?

Yeah, sometimes, the truth hurts...
Then there's the Rooster, or 'cock' for those who haven't progressed beyond 7th grade (like me). Yes, like all birds, roosters evolved from much more intimidating forms of life. However, I suspect that most dinosaurs would be a little disappointed that we eat buckets of their descendants covered in 11 herbs and spices. Here, Chinese myth has us covered. The Chinese Phoenix is basically a more badass version of the Rooster and a match for the Dragon. It's the difference between Cringer and Battle Cat, so trade up cockstars.

Better roll for damage,
Year of the Monkey.
As for my own sign, let it not be said that I am anti-goat. They are famous for their stubbornness and I can get behind that. But in a Chinese Zodiac Battle Royal (why is this not a movie?), stubborn is probably going to lose to immortal flying-fire-lizard. It is for this reason that I've decided to go with the Displacer Beast from Dungeons and Dragons. For those of you who have moved out of your parent's basement, a Displacer Beast is a panther-like creature with six legs, poisonous tentacles, and the ability to bend light to confuse its victims. Also, I'm going to estimate that it's got like four or five times as many hit points as our stubborn barnyard pal, the goat. And did I mention the poisonous tentacles? I did? Good, because it's got poison tentacles.

So there you have it Emperor Huangdi, I think you'll find my casual and ill-researched critique of a time honored part of Chinese culture and identity a vast improvement. No need to thank me. You're quite welcome. Also, love the hat.



Everything is better with swords and  top-knot.
p.s. I understand that this is the Year of the Rabbit and you should know that I totally approve of Rabbits. However in the spirit of Badass-izing the zodiac, I think it could use a little jeuge-ing. I say we use Usagi Yojimbo from TMNT. Sure, It may seem inappropriate to use a Japanese image for the Chinese lunar calendar given you know, history. But Usagi is from a parallel universe version of ancient Japan run by anthropomorphic animals, so it's cool.

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