Yes, I’m Still Here

I know, it has been a while since I last posted.  I have a couple of post drafts sitting here, on various subjects – most of which will get me in hot water with some group or the other – which I have just not managed to finish yet.

I have been on Twitter more lately (feed in the right column if you want to follow).  My Facebook page has been acting up a little, but all my tweets and stuff still end up there too.

I still can’t quite get my publications tab to look right.  Meh, it works, I will get back to it.

And no, Pilgrimage to Skara is still not up on Amazon yet.  Yes, I know….  But work goes on, along with some short story work.

One of these days, I will get around to posting some more.


I Touch Myself


I was minding my  own business today when I heard this song.  It’s 25 years old so it just kind of came out of the blue but it reminded me of an incident in my youth.  And just so we’re clear, I did go dredge up the video on YouTube (here) so I could refresh myself on the lyrics.

(Muse:  Uh, I am sure your “refreshing” nothing to do with the fact that lead singer was a hot, big-breasted redhead that wore her bangs over her eyes just the way you like, right?)

Don’t be stupid.  That …. had everything to do with it.  Sadly, Chrissy Amphlett was claimed by cancer a few years ago and the world was robbed of her presence.  But back to the point.

Skip back to 1991.  I was visiting some relatives.  This song came on.  One of my relatives (who shall remain nameless) expressed disgust over the song.  I said, “What’s the problem?”

“Did you listen to the lyrics?”  My relative’s face expressed horror that I did not see the immediate issue.  “She’s a lesbian!”

I sat back on the couch, unsure exactly what to say.  The thoughts in my head were 1) the lyrics don’t indicate anything of the sort, and 2) who gives a crap if she is?  I started to say something but was interrupted by my parents entering the room.  In the name of family peace (or cowardice, if you prefer), I let it go.  I also plead the temerity of youth, since at that time, I always hesitated to stir shit up.

(Muse:  You certainly have no trouble now, do ya?)

I spent years honing my curmudgeon skills.  So anyway, why this random anecdote?

Hell if I know.  I just sat here thinking about it.  I wonder if my relative ever came to grips with the prison of their own ignorance and prejudice – and then I told myself that was impossible, since they lack the awareness to know they were in said prison.

Besides, calling someone a lesbian, as a way of insult … Meh.  I think that ship has sailed.  Accuse of them of being a Republican.  It’s probably more damning in these times.

World Go Boom

So, in the course of my daily ramblings, I stumbled on this video on YouTube, titled, “World Battleground:  1000 Years of War in Five Minutes.”  It is a time-condensed animation of battles laid over a world map, all set to Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.  Since the explosions are proportional to the number of casualties, you can guess that Europe just plain disappears under booms from 1939-1945.

It’s not perfect and seems very Euro-centric (for example, the Mongol invasion of Khwarezm circa 1220 which produced some horrific death tolls, doesn’t show), though the creator admits to taking the list of battles from an English-language Wikipedia article and says that may the source of the bias.

What was my take-away?  Humans are very good at killing each other and that is not likely to change any time soon.  Actually, that’s depressing.  I think I need to lay down for a while.

The Pen is Mightier than the Bandage

So ….

(Muse:  Where the HELL have you been?)

Out.  Hey, life is busy, you know?

(Muse:  Harumph.)

Anyway, as I was saying.  So….

A fellow writer and acquaintance, Beth Turnage, shared a link to this article and I thought it was kind of neat.  Briefly, the article goes into some of the non-obvious benefits of writing.  Forget exorcising demons from your head; this is all about the dopamine hit, baby!

Even if not a lick of it is true, I am going to pretend it all is.  All by itself, that makes me feel good!

Killer Artwork

A long time ago (and I am too lazy to go back and link my previous post), I asked about finding some good fantasy artwork – basically, I was looking for something suitably fantasy-ish for hanging on my wall, right over my desk.  Well, that project got sidelined and with the mess at my house, I never got back to it.

But I did stumble across this site:  Hero Complex Gallery.  They have a lot of prints of cool artwork, which are rife with pop-culture references.  I put it in my favorites, just in case I decide to resurrect the fantasy art project.  It’s not all fantasy per se, but still, some neat stuff.

Check it out.

Update on a Burnt House


As I posted a while back, we had a house fire back at the end of January.  Reconstruction has been unbelievably slow, thanks to some less-than-helpful contractors.  But having said all that, things are looking up.  The electric wiring and the sheetrock texture both finished today, which were big steps.  Much of the remaining work is going to be done by yours truly, and his son.  In fact, we’ve been knocking some of those things out, piece by piece, and the house is almost livable.

This has been an exhausting experience – physically and mentally – but I have come out of it with a new appreciation for just how complex a modern home is.  It is not just a matter of tying hammering nails into the right spots (though that certainly helps) but of planning things out and making sure all of the systems are working in together harmony.  A single mistake can undo days of work as you have to tear things out to make up for it.

What does any of this have to do with writing?  Nothing, other than give me a semi-valid excuse for why I haven’t gotten much new writing done this month.

I did get a whole slew of short story submissions out this month and besides 2013, this makes my best short story submission year (by number submitted) since 2009.  So that’s something.

D&D Player Loses Bet, Summons Satan

Saint Bernie, MN –  A college student at Whatsamatter U was playing Dungeons and Dragons Friday night when apparently a bet went wrong and was forced to summon the Prince of Darkness in a spectacle involving a pentagram, the blood of a freshly-killed cat, and a topless virgin coed.  According to witnesses, the spell was temporarily halted while the campus was scoured for a virgin.  Upon completion of the spell, Satan himself arrived at the dorm room and threatened the players with the most unholy vengeance before stealing the remaining beer and vanishing in a puff of smoke.

The Saint Bernie Police Department was notified about the potential animal abuse and states they have launched an investigation.

No charges will be filed against Satan.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Silly, yes.  But hardly any more so than the feeling I had on reading this article on about the “Summer of Sleaze.”  The article discusses the foofaraw surrounding the “disappearance” of college student James Egbert, which was blamed on him being a player of Dungeons and Dragons.  Never mind that he was found living in another state months later (though he did tragically commit suicide); having the narrative out there that this fantasy game was poisoning the minds of young people was just too tantalizing for the social crusaders of the day.  Jack Chick (surprise, surprise) had a field day with this.

This was hardly new, of course.  Fred Wertham penned Seduction of the Innocent back in 1954, warning that comic books were corrupting the children of America and right about the same time, Elvis Presley’s swinging hips were too risque for that newfangled media of television.  In the ’80s, it was about rap music.  More recently, it has been about the violence in video games.  At every turn of cultural development, there is someone waiting to stand up and scream, “Not on my watch!”, though it is, of course, debatable how much of it is “their” watch.  After all, culture is a shared experience, not one cuckoo-cloudlander’s personal preference.

Back to the point.  Egbert’s so-called disappearance spawned a whole series of books regaling people on the evils of role-playing games.  There was an even an atrocious movie based on one of the books, Mazes and Monsters (starring a young Tom Hanks).  For a bit, the whole country was awash with this nonsense.

I played D&D as a kid.  I read comic books.  I read spec fiction now and have read some pretty horrifying stuff, and even written a little.  And you know what?  I turned out okay.

(Muse:  You sure about that?)

Yes.  I didn’t turn into an amoral killer.  I don’t do drugs.  I don’t worship Satan.  I lead a normal life and so do all of the other people I know who engaged in these activities.

It’s about the twin dragons of insecurity and need for importance that drives the people to pick up the sword and prattle on.  And they are dangerous as far I am concerned – more dangerous than some teenage rolling dice in a basement somewhere.  This whole type of malarkey puts me in mind of the C.S. Lewis quote:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

True dat.

And to anyone who agrees with stemming the tide of moral decay and decadence, I say this:

There is a great thing about living in the western world in the 21st century:  you have the freedom to not give a crap what anyone else is doing.  If you see something annoying on TV, change the channel.  If you read something that is abhorrent to your values, put it down.  If you artwork that offends your spiritual convictions, walk away.

But please spare us the theatrics and righteousness of forcing your “proper” views on the rest of us.  Spend that time doing something nice for yourself, since you, like the rest of us, will be nothing but food for worms in sixty years.  Enjoy your worm-free existence while you can.

(Muse:  Where did that come from?)

Someone pushed one of my censorship buttons today.  Sorry, I’ll calm down by the next installment.