The Golden Compass just became a better movie.

Last week, I was meeting up with a few of the literary ninjas in Edmonton, and had a good time -- ate a few ice cream sundaes, shared a few stories, tried my hand at Beastie Boys karaoke -- but there was one thing which I hadn't expected. One of the people at my table was a palm reader, and specialised in telling people what sort of animal spirit they channelled. (Is that the same thing as "spirit animal"? I'm out of touch with my New Age terminology.)

Naturally, ten seconds after finding this out, I had my palms out and ready. Going over them, she said I had "water hands" (very creative), and that my friends were very important to me.

Given that I had driven six hours to see my friends at a writer's meeting, a skeptic might suggest that it wasn't just my palms that gave her these clues. But let us put these spurious claims aside for a moment, and accept that this was all in good fun. Long life, health, heartache... she went through all of these, but what I wanted to know was my spirit animal. What apparition would appear to me in a feverous dream some day, to share its wisdom with me?

"A lizard," she said. "A really big lizard."

Huh. Well, I guess we can't all be dragons, I said.

"Actually, I am."

Huh. Well, maybe it's something like a crocodile, I said.

"No, that's a reptile, but it's not a lizard."

Huh. Well, I guess iguanas have their charm. I guess.

I thanked her, and rejoined the party, now secure in the knowledge that I had a lizard spirit watching over me. Or maybe it was just sleeping on a warm metaphysical rock. The conversation turned to other things, but as we were discussing trips to Drumheller, a wonderful thought occurred to me. I turned to a nearby friend.

"So, tell me," I asked, "What does "dinosaur" mean in Latin?"

"Well, isn't it something like thunder liz-" and she stopped, suddenly aware of what that meant.

Oh yes: that's EXACTLY what it means. Have I mentioned the mascot for my writing region yet?

I think it means something.

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About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.