Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heroes of the Fallen Cover and available for pre-order

Here is the cover for my book, Heroes of the Fallen. I have the tentative release date of around October 15th, but that might even get moved up a hair. You can click on the picture on my sidebar to pre-order from Amazon, which is cool if you're so inclined but I would like it if anybody local could come to a signing when the time comes. I've been arranging things with Borders and Barnes and Nobles, so it's an awesome feeling to think I will be available within some of my favorite haunts. And I also know my publisher is working toward getting me into Deseret Book as well.

Heroes of Art

I was intrigued by a post from a site I visit over on the sidebar, Alex Bledsoe's Down in Lucky Town, I am going to review his noir fantasy novel The Sword Edged Blonde very soon. He mentioned the idea of meeting one of his literary heroes and how the thought brought fear if he should get on the man's bad side. That made me start to wonder about how I would deal with meeting my literary heroes.

Most all the ones I can think of immediately are dead. No chance of meeting them and being intimidated. Robert E. Howard died in 1936, Hemingway in 61, Tolkien in 77, Karl Edward Wagner in 94, Hugh Nibley 2005.

And now that I think about there are still lots of my favorite authors alive, but I seem to think of the dead ones first.

I normally wouldn't think that I would be intimidated by a fellow writer, but I went to Brandon Sanderson's signing for Warbreaker to buy a copy and ask him if he might take a look at my novel for a possible back-cover quote, and I got a little nervous, everybody behind me in line looking and going "Hey,what's he talking about his own book for?" So yeah, I was a bit nervous and apprehensive, probably came off like a goon.

But he did say I could send him an ARC. No promises after that, which is to be expected, he has a lot on his plate. I like to think that if the cover art (which I will post soon) attracts his eye enough and he just opens to the first page, the first paragraph, the first sentence that I would have him. But we'll see.

I have met quite a number of other writers, probably 99% LDS but nobody else made me as nervous. I think because I was asking for a big favor in front of people and I just don't do that.

I will say right now that once I have a large prestigious name in writing that anybody reading and commenting on this post will have my support that I will at least read their work. Endorsing is another matter entirely.

Anyone else have a meet and greet with an artistic icon?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Swords of the Ancients or the Riddle of Steel

Sword styles have always depended upon the technology and cultural leanings of their day. For instance by the time of the Renaissance all gentlemen wore expensive fencing swords at their side as a mark of prestige, as if they were all knights from the romanticized days of yore. Of course fencing swords are not what knights of yore carried at all, they carried big heavy broadswords or hand and a half bastard swords. You had to have something like that if you expected to fight someone wearing fifty pounds of armor and let them feel it.

Fencing swords came about because the entire environment of the battlefield was different. Archers, scraped from the bottom of the barrel of the peasants could now slay heavily armored knights, wearing what cost the equivalent of an expensive home. More wealth than that peasant would ever see in his lifetime. So wearing heavy armor no longer made sense, you needed to be fast, hence the fencing blade.

Going way back when bronze weapons were the standard, you could not make long swords because bronze was too weak. Short stocky weapons was the way to go to lessen the possibility of bending or breaking your sword, which still happened often enough. You didn't get long swords until you got steel. And now the true point of my post.

The Sword of Laban was made of the finest steel. It had a hilt of gold. This is not a regular occurrence for the time frame of 600 B.C. This is a special sword. I cannot say how much I hate the representations of the Sword of Laban when it is made to look like a short roman gladius. Gladius's were the style of the day for the old world sword-makers IF they did not have steel.

By telling us that the sword was of steel, we can most assuredly know that the Sword of Laban would be a long sword. You have greater reach over your enemies and greater cutting power. Bronze weapons needed to be constantly resharpened, they cannot hold an edge with any amount of real use. I argue therefore we can know that anyone with a steel sword had a much longer sword that those of bronze.

Making steel is not so hard a thing as armchair researchers would have us believe. The ancients knew very well what different ores were and that once heating up the raw iron ores in blast furnaces they could add the necessary carbons to create steel. Trade secrets among guilds easily explains why some societies took longer than others to learn the craft of making steel.

I find it a shortsighted and faithless argument that the knowledge of steel was not known in America. It absolutely was, but steel made over 2,000 years ago doesn't last well unless kept dry and free of rust, with exquisite care or luck. For evidence that just such things were undertaken I direct you to a site documenting the existence of iron furnace pits as well as slag piles from the waste in OHIO of all places and the numerous pits in Ohio are certainly not the only ancient ones in the U.S.

Now some may argue that these ancient furnace pits are the work of pioneers, what they fail to understand is there are far too many pits to account for the relatively small numbers of settlers in the Ohio territories. A people, numerous as the sands of the sea were here at one time. They had the need and numbers for just such a far-reaching enterprise.

Numerous mounds that have been investigated contain skeletons of men with the decayed remnants of head-plates and scabbards. Long scabbards filled with nothing but rust. The swords are gone but they were there once.

My argument is for Nephite technology as mentioned with in the text of the Book of Mormon and against the premise that Nephi who made swords based upon the Sword of Laban as a model would have forgotten how to forge iron; that he just done to make a ship, and instead decided he would affix obsidian to wooden paddles. As I have stated in an earlier post (Design, Fashion and Weapons) a Maquahuitl will mess you up. The Spaniards invading Tenochtitlan said one decapitated a horse! But they are an inferior weapon in comparison to good steel.

There is no reason to A$$ume that Nephites couldn't solve the riddle of steel. They absolutely did. What I have not even touched upon yet is they were also hardening copper beyond its usual strength, a feat we still to this day have not yet been able to duplicate. I postulate on how they did that in my historical fiction novel Heroes of the Fallen. But even that is just an educated guess on my part utilizing theories I have found out in the process of sword-making. I am by no means an expert. As for the copper we at least have a vast amount to examine. It is from the upper peninsula of Michigan and was traded throughout the Americas and likely beyond by Phoenicians but that is another post.

So what do I think a Nephite long-sword would have looked like? Here is one that is a little corroded but still, its the best we have. Courtesy of Ancient Treasure Hunter, Steve Shaffer.

It's gone now. An old Indian found it and allowed a picture to be taken but then he said it belonged to the ancients and must remain in the earth beside them. He went back out into the desert and buried it where no one would find it. That's a crying shame to me. As a kid I always wanted to find one of the pits where they threw their weapons of war away swearing to never take them up again. I hope at the least I have given something to think about and opened a doorway to the possibility that there is more to the story than what we have typically been told about Ancient America

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book's Read This Week

Abinadi, by H.B. Moore

I bought this when it was first released last fall at the now dearly departed, Provident Books grand opening. Crom! I wish they were still around. Anyway I actually didn't get around to reading it right away and I ended up getting the audio-book from the local library and listening to that while I was working. I have listened to a lot of audio-books that way. Well this one just didn't do it for me, I was left unimpressed by the lead female character Raquel.

But this is not the end of the story. After reading a discussion at the arts site AMV Heather (the author) made a few points as did a number of other commenter's and I had to stop and think, that I had missed way too much of the book when I listened to the audio - WAY TOO MUCH.

I went back and read the physical book. I never once regret having the physical book, I prefer it, audio is just handy but obviously leaves you crippled at times if you are doing anything besides driving.

I still did not like some of the anachronisms, such as "He is stupid as an alpaca," but that is nothing. (Bear with me Heather)
The thing that got to me, was Heather did not shy from portraying the evils of King Noah's court. That means a lot to me because I don't think we need watered-down fiction that fails to illustrate what those evils are. And in the same light showing what the rewards of doing right are. All too often in LDS fiction I think we are centered on the lighter side and the dark side of life is left too vague. Why? For fear of it looking glamorous? Then it wouldn't be temptation would it? When the evil is too vague, conversion stories are weak, they fall flat, because I don't buy the motivation of the characters.

The most talked about piece of Abinadi is that he is portrayed as a young man, as opposed to the classic Friberg painting of old man winter. I am a Friberg fan. But the young man, who has so much to lose is excellent. I love it when authors take standard tropes and give us a new (possibly more correct) ways of looking at them.

While I was much more appreciative of Raquel with my second go through on the book, I was also very interested in the side character of Alma and the relationship with his love interest of Maia, the abused wife of King Noah. I kept waiting for some familiar things to happen and when they didn't it just made me want to read Alma the sequel, all the more when it is released in a couple of months. I really hope there is some resolution there despite the stickiness of the situation. (I became convinced that Maia's stillborn son was actually Alma's but I'm probably wrong on that)

Heather remarked on the AMV post (might lose people here, if so . . .catch up) that she was not familiar with the "chewed gum" metaphor, I always heard "licked butter" growing up. But in any case, I don't like to think of people that way, and if there is a repentance I don't think people should be categorized as such after the fact. Maia represents the perfect example as does Alma, of going beyond the stereotypes of the used, and worthless.

The final scene where (I doubt this is a spoiler alert for anyone) Abinadi is burned alive for preaching the gospel, reminded me of one of my favorite movies Braveheart. I doubt this was Heathers plan but it caused a resonance with me about the idea of sacrifice of which each of these were good examples of men dying horribly for great causes.
All in all, I liked this book and am really looking forward to Alma.

If this was bad Heather, crucify me when I send you 'Heroes of the Fallen'

The Blackfoot Moonshine Rebellion of 1892, by Ron Carter
Crazy Horse, by Larry McMurtry

I am putting these two together because they are both westerns and both rather short. Beyond that they are diametrically opposed in that McMurtry writes that he is not about to tell you what Crazy Horse was thinking and Carter pushes for a good stretching of the truth for the stories sake and telling you what everyone was thinking, and I like both of them for it. Each is strong on relating history of the times and each is very pro-Indian. Perhaps not as pro as Vine Deloria, but then who is? Each give good slices of life about the Indian and it was easy for me to picture things because of the quality of writing and because I have walked the lands of these two books many times. These are tales I will dip into again.

The Legacy: Legend of Drizzt.Book 7, by R.A. Salvatore, adapted by Andrew Dabb and pencils by Rob Atkins and Tim Seely

I want it clear that not everything I read and review get 2 thumbs up. (But you do Heather)
Ok this is the graphic novel and not the original novel which I have not yet read. So being a comic book I will say the art was good, not great, but still above average. Now comes the bitterness. I don't fear reprisals from R.A. Salvatore or Andrew Dabb (like I do from Heather) cuz I don't know them and they don't know me. I must say that I really, really like the previous 6 graphic novels in this fantasy series. So I don't know who is to blame for this one, Salvatore or Dabb.
Salvatore wrote the original novel and Dabb adapted this graphic from it, and here is the problem, for a fantasy the monsters were weak and lame, the most impressive thing was demon that showed up and was killed in a moment of sacrifice by Wulfgar, that's cool. I know he's not really dead but the characters don't. The magic was lame, the motivation of the bad guy Artemis Enteri was weak and halfway through I was thinking this is the dumbest one yet.
Its like somebody was trying way too hard to flesh out these characters and give them depth so they would be real to me but instead pushed to hard and made them caricatures of themselves. I still want to go and get book 8, Starless Night, whenever it comes out but if the story keeps going like this I won't get another.

Last Argument of Kings, by Joe Abercrombie

This is the last book in the First Law trilogy and it is frakkin ace! I can't contain myself this is my favorite book read this year. Such action and intrigue, so many unexpected twists and then how Joe throws his characters into the fire and then pulls them out again, genius. I cannot wait for his next book Best Served Cold, its getting released at the end of the month.
Now before we get to far ahead of ourselves gentle readers, a word of caution. Anything I said about Heather properly illustrating the evils of Noah's court would be to the power of three in Last Argument of Kings. If you are familiar with George R.R. Martin, this is like that, but harsher and better. Yes, I am saying it Abercrombie is better than Martin. Why? Because he springs traps better, he twists the knife at harder angles, and he brings magnificent philosophical presence to his characters beyond just about any writer I can think of.
I daresay I am pained at the thought of besting him, but I will try. The one thing I can think of is the spiritual message I bear that he neglects . . . other than that it is a fight to the death for me to top him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Snake's and Snail's and Puppy Dog Tail's in the Sacred Grove

In the early 90's I went on a Church History Trip for the Youth, we visited almost every site there was except for Hauns Mill. (I didn't go there until 98) The pic is me and friends in Nauvoo behind the visitor center.

We went east and up through Michigan and into Canada, eh. Then to Niagara Falls and we camped next to Lake Huron. (well my journal says Huron but I don't know how it wasn't Ontario) It was wide big area with some good pines, that we had mostly to ourselves (ourselves being probably 120 people, kids and chaperone's) I remember my chaperon Louis, telling me that I had placed my tent to far away from the others and to come closer. After I had a great spot picked out and everything set up nice and tight.

The next day we went to the Hill Cumorah. It's steeper than I had initially imagined, now imagine pickets and palisades for defense upon it. I can't help but think about the History of every place I go. (Obviously I don't go in for that 2 Cumorah's nonsense)

We had the little tour and movie in the visitor center but I wanted out. Unless ya got ax-blades and arrowheads and other implements of war and archeology (which they don't) I don't wanna spend time in the visitor center. We went up the hill, took lots of pictures-might have had an early-morning fireside (what would be the proper name for that?) Then I went off by myself to investigate the hill and woods surrounding, to get a feel for the place. I was trying to be open to the spirit, whatever I could find.

Yes I wanted to find an arrowhead.

I never found anything, but made my way eventually back down the hill to just behind the visitor center and the gazebo. I met a friend there ( a girl) and we started talking about life and what not, nothing too terribly important and the spirit told me something. I had been wanting to learn something about the Cumorah, some insight to that great battle, that loss and instead---The Spirit told me about my friend. She was pregnant. A month or so. There is no way I could have known this but that the Spirit told me.

My first thought was, I'm not going to ask her if that is true, what I had just been told, but what is the deal here? I can't remember exactly everything that was said, but in my uncouth barbaric fashion I think I must have hinted that I knew. She looked at me and asked if I really thought I knew something about her and what would it be. So expecting a slap and how dare I assume such things, she admitted it.

I was flabbergasted. I could not have known but what was whispered to me on the bottom of Cumorah. She was afraid her family would disown her as soon as they found out, the male (I use the term loosely here) was the only other who knew and had rejected her-he was back in Utah and at least not there.

I told her I would be a friend and do what little I could to help her. Really all I could do was be moral support but its something. She was a popular girl and lots of guys on the trip liked her and wanted something more. I made it my business to keep them away. At the time, I think she hoped I would claim her and take care of her and I feared that was why the Spirit had told me in the first place. What IF that was supposed to be a duty of mine. Why else would the Spirit whisper something like that to me? But to give me a charge, an obligation?

Making our way to the Smith farm and homestead we had lunch and then went to walk the Sacred Grove area. I was still deep in thought over the previous revelation and went off by myself. I pondered what we do with the knowledge we are given. I thought about Joseph and why he went to where I was at, right at that moment. I thoughtabout dark forces that would seek to keep you at a standstill, forces that would make a girl from a loving, caring home so worried that she would be rejected.

I was a good long ways off from the group, thinking of heavy boots tromping through the leaves and brush (that Joseph heard) when I stepped upon a long brown hose. The snake hissed angry and mouth agape, recoiled its head back. I could see the fangs, and it struck.
Did I mention I wear big old biker boots? Cuz I do. The boots saved me, tennis shoes like everybody else and I would have been a feeling it, but my boots didn't so much as quiver. I stood there a moment, my boot down upon the snake and related it to how

I must control the events/problems in my own life-with assistance. I could not have done that without a steel-toed, heavy leather biker boot. My own modern armor. I let the snake go, chuckling to myself that a snake in the Sacred Grove tried to bite me. Of course I had stepped on him first but you never know when other problems will slither under your feet.

I prayed in the grove and made peace that I was to be a good friend to the girl, nothing more. That's all that was needed. Her family did not reject her and she eventually married a good man that took care of her. She had a little boy-hence this posts title.

This is one of those times when I start to write and it goes in a completly different direction than I had planned. Hope thats alright with y'all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Raising My Warriors

I said on another blog that I would post some pics of my kids in armor. Here is a begining of that with perhaps more later.

All three play especially hard and sometimes I worry about what they will do to neighbor kids. The boys are very fond of swords-because they see all the ones I have but theirs are dramatically duller than mine.

When I disposed of the afore-mentioned snake, my oldest son, helped put the two pieces in a bag and then in the garbage can. He was excited to tell Mom about how he helped but she really didn't want to hear about it. All he wanted to talk about during dinner was snakes and Mom finally had to demand that we not discuss snakes at all anymore. I tried changing the subject to spiders, my son's usual chief interest, but it only lasted about a minute until he was back on snakes. Popsicles had to be sanctioned and released to avert the revolution.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Sword's First Blood!!!

My wounding and hurts from the gall-bladder surgery have lain me up for the last couple weeks and I am supposed to take it easy and not pick up things heavier than a gallon of milk. This has really irritated my 19 month old daughter Maddie, she gets mad! Serious Daddy's girl.

But in being laid up I have neglected the usual work around the house, the grass in the back yard is getting pretty long and the neighbors tree roots have sprung up and are already almost 18 inches tall or so. My wife has been meaning to mow the lawn for me and keeps getting distracted with this or that. Today she said she would just go do it.

She was gone maybe five minutes max-I was finishing edits-and she comes running into the office screaming. A snake.
What kind? I says's.
Don't know, I just saw scales and brown!
Next to the gate, it was big.

I changed out of my pajama's, I am a writer don't ya know, that's what writers wear at home. Tried to find my tall steel-toed Harley boots, they oughta impede a snakes fangs if I need them too. But the right-foot boot has disappeared, my middle child Baur as we nickname him (his full name is Baurak-Ale David West but this post is not about my penchant for odd names) really likes to wear Daddy's boots because they are so cool. Well he lost one so I had to find a second pair of biker boots. I am not a biker, I just like the boots.

Now I could have taken my pellet gun out of the closet-not gonna take out the real guns, I live in a nice neighborhood. But being the Barbarian at the Gates that I am took out my big battle ready sword-the Grosse Messer by Cold Steel. I have mentioned in an earlier post that this is the sword I use as a basis for a main character in 'Heroes of the Fallen'.

So I go out to the side-yard where my wife says the snake is. I can actually smell it. I approach cautiously, the grass is deep and the light breeze causes the everything in sight to ripple and writhe. My wife watches from the window, almost in tears-she is very afraid of snakes-but I come on, blade at the ready.

I see a brown and blue-striped tail in the grass beside the gate. Well its not a rattler, because if it was I would not have slain it-no sirree- they are a protected endangered species here in Utah, illegal to kill them. So it was not a rattler! Just so that is clear.

Knowing how worried my wife was -hyperventilating- I separated the last third of
the snake from itself with a graceful flick of my razor-sharp sword. It was about as thick as my thumb, to give you a dimension. It did nothing, no writhing, nothing at all like the innumerable chickens or fish that have met their fate at my dark and bloody hands.

I prodded the snake with the sword tip and picked it up. It had probably been dead for the last few days and we just never saw it in the grass. I actually suspect that I may have unknowingly killed it a few days ago when I went to get the mail and slammed the gate shut. The snakes body appeared to have been wedged and trapped, it may very likely have been stuck and died from the heatwave of the week.

In any case, my sword still cleaved it like a very big knife through a Gadianton's thumb, or probably even easier than that. Here is a pic of my sword again..
And if you like stories about snakes, I have another about a snake biting me in the Sacred Grove.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Books Read This Week

Being laid up with surgery and drugged out of my gourd the first couple days took the joys of reading from me for the most part. That and I stressed about getting my book done on the time frame that I wanted and I also told my editor I could do it during a poorly timed moment of feeling better, I crashed the next day and for the rest of the weekend. In any case, here is what I have read the last week or two.

The Mystery of the Olmecs, by David Hatcher Childress
I love his unorthodox archaeological stuff. I highly recommend his Lost Cities series. I have not read them all but I mean to. I have used a lot of the North American for info and ideas for Heroes of the Fallen and its sequels. This book was no exception, it is chock full of central American weirdness and fun facts that don't automatically fit into the history books from only a couple years ago. One of the most fascinating things to me was how big the area of the Olmecs really is, Childress postulates and I agree with his assertions, that it is bigger than what we know either the Aztec or Maya controlled. And yet for years we have been told they only had a strip of coastline centered on La Venta.This multi-racial culture was massive.
One of the most intriguing things to me was about the Mayan port city ruins of Comalcalco. This city was built out of brick because there was not sufficient stone in the area. Huge structures were built using these bricks and almost 3% of all these city bricks have inscriptions upon them. Here is where it gets really interesting, these inscriptions are in numerous ancient languages not just Meso-American languages-Old World languages too. Such as Arabic, Egyptian, Ogam, Libyan, Phoenician, and Chinese. Some bricks even had pictures of elephants on them.
One more point about Comalcalco that relates to some other thoughts I have had for years now (its always exciting when support for personal theories come from far outside sources)is that the languages found and used at the site don't date from the supposed timetable of use namely 700 A.D. to 900 A.D. what fits according to the languages found is closer to roughly 0 A.D. to around 400 A.D. I have wondered for a long time if the supposed Classic dates were off by several hundred years, all it takes is for one scientific dogma to be taken as fact and anything opposed to that gets thrown out the window as heretical. It's funny how the Inquisition has changed sides.

Chronicles of Conan vol.14-The Shadow of the Beast, by Roy Thomas and John Buscema
This is the 14th (obviously) in the Dark Horse series of reprints of the classic Marvel comics from the seventies and early eighties. Some of the tales were good-some just nuh. I didn't really care for the 4 part take on Sons of the Bear God, but Shadow of the Beast itself I liked as well as War of Wizards which also had Red Sonja guest starring. All in all it is a collection I really like having considering the color is remastered and a comparison to the comics I have from back then that are horribly bleached and frail, is a no brainer.

El Cazador, by Chuck Dixon and Steve Epting
This is another graphic novel collection, this time of Pirate Tales. Graphic Novel's were easier for me to read while drugged. But I must stress this does not diminish their value to me. I learned to read on comics and love the dying art that it is. Chuck Dixon was favorite writer of mine for his work on Batman and the art of Epting does not skimp either. El Cazador or 'The Hunter' (in English) is a tale of revenge and good old-fashioned swashbuckling. The takes on sea battles is great as are some classic escapes. One scene reminded me of the best moments of hide and seek from the Hunt for Red October. It is a shame that the series only got into 6 issues before ending-I would definitely get more if it had not been discontinued. But comic titles come and go so-oh well. I still regret not getting more of Sojourn before it went belly-up, now finding those graphics will become another internet prowl. Back to pirates, I hope W. Everett Prusso's The Pirate Slayers:Ghost Wave series is this good, I am looking forward to that as well.

Friday, July 10, 2009

ZELPH, is Coming

For their 1988 album Rattle and Hum, U2 did a cover of the Beatles 'Helter Skelter' opening the track Bono remarked —"this song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles...we're stealing it back"—

I feel the same way about Zelph, the infamous white Lamanite that it seems too many people would rather forget about than deal with the staggering implications.

As far as I am concerned too many people have stolen Zelph and used him for either mocking the gospel or they have dismissed him entirely because he didn't fit in with their own narrow agenda.

We'll I am stealing him back.

Zelph is a pivotal character in my series 'Heroes of the Fallen' and among the most admirable of Lamanites, ever. (I posit within my series that he is a descendant of Samuel)
I have been stupefied that for a person that has been recorded in History of the Church vol 2. by 8 great witnesses (John Taylor, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff among them) so little has ever been written about him. As if its too touchy, too risky and throws a massive monkey wrench into the whole LGT (which it does). Sorry no amount of backpedaling about what JS knew or did not know can fix what all 8 witnesses said was a Revelation. That's better representation than we have on almost all Church Historical matters-and we aren't even getting to Onandagus yet.

Time to tell the tale, sing the song, and dance the dance, Zelph is coming back.

Pic by Kris Cooper

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Piercing Depths and Unfolding Realms

While in a drugged stupor I have not been able to write. Everything I attempted came out broken up and dense, bleak minds mingling on black seas of infinity. In Zarahemla, Gadiantons carouse and defame, mocking as drums throb and dancers gyrate within THE IRON ROD.

See, none of that made sense.

Anyhow I have given the rewrites a lot of thought and have been determining that people care about books that make them think and feel. Granted I am not coming up with this as a revelation of anything unheard before by any means, just what has been going on while the chest feels like it has four arrow holes. I will be doing a rewrite about wounds based off this.

While doing my rewrites I am going to work on expanding the depth of some of my lesser characters for the sake of dramatic breaks (and or) breathers between the action and warfare. I want to give the sense that despite the travails going on around them, people have the same wants and needs as they ever have, regardless of the bloody revolutions at hand.

Any thoughts from anyone out there on what makes you care about characters beyond identifying with them, what other attributes engender interest? I read somewhere recently that the character has to be kind, but I don't know if kindness makes me want to follow a character by itself, per-se, so what else? If none of this made sense, then I plead that I am still high on painkillers.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Battle of Gall . . . . . . . Stones

Forgive the puns, I am high on Morphine at the moment. In less than 24 hours I'm getting my gallbladder removed thanks to some pesky painful stones. I woke up at almost 6 in the am, in incredible pain in my chest. I never wake up at six if I can help it, I am an unrepentant night owl. In any case it was bad enough that for someone who has never been to the hospital for themselves since birth I gladly went. My biggest regret is that my second run-through on edits is going to be slowed, surgery is a pain-in my time crunch.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Some Weird and Rare Book's I Own Vol. 3

I decided I ought to live up to the esoteric claim on my banner just a little bit and do a post on the weird again, partly because I couldn't think of a post for tonight and also because there is no end to the weird in my library.

The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names, edited by George Hay
Let me start by saying, I was deceived. I thought when I found this at a rare book dealer that I was getting an actual historical analysis on the Necronomicon. If you have heard of it before, either through the work's of H.P. Lovecraft or possibly through the movies=Army of Darkness or Evil Dead, you may be thinking well of course it's not real. I thought what I had from a quick perusal WAS a historical analysis by a number of writers and scholars about the possibility of a real Necronomicon. In depth articles about H.P. Lovecraft's father being a member of the mysterious Egyptian Freemasonry (as opposed to the more common Scottish Rite per-se) tantalized my imagination. I wanted to believe.
Alas it was not true, convincing as it was, it was written as a lark, a fake, just to have fun. Ah well- still interesting reading for old pulp-fiction style horror. Supposedly the real thing was translated by Dr. John Dee, Queen Elizabeth's court magician, from the Arabic. Written originally by the mad Arab El Hazzared, who was also known as the Old Man of the Mountains or King of Assassin's during the crusades.
Though fiction, the book is somewhat hard to find. published in the U.K. 1978

The Key of Solomon the King, translated by S. Liddel MacGregor Mathers
This is one of the most famous or infamous books on magic. MacGregor Mathers prepared this edition in 1889, from seven manuscripts believed to have originally been written by King Solomon. This is almost certainly untrue but they were written at least in the middle ages by practitioners of Kabbalistic magic. I find the whole thing interesting for the sake of understanding the mystical alphabets of the Hermetics and why I originally bought the book = = = the proper way to make magical medallions/talismans.
No I have not made any.
I found that subject of interest because (for my LDS readers) Joseph Smith used to have a magical talisman of Jupiter. This is well established and I am not throwing kindling to the anti's. It is just a curiosity that I wanted to research more about.
Ages ago, a girl I knew somewhat said "I never go out on a date with anyone, unless they can tell me something I didn't know about Joseph Smith." I had not asked her out-nor was I planning too-but just because she said that I replied "Well he wore a magical talisman of Jupiter."
Needless to say she didn't believe that, because no one ever told her that in Seminary. Oh well.
Dan Brown's first working title on his upcoming book was 'The Key of Solomon' now it's just 'The Lost Symbol' Is it going to relate back to the Key of Solomon? Probably. Will he have a hackneyed plot again with problems a fourth grader could figure out? Probably. Will I read it? Probably, just not the hardback.

Caesar's Gallic War, by Julius Caesar, published by Scott, Foresman and Co. 1907
When I found this I was stoked. I've been wanting to read Caesar's journals about his campaign. I have greatly enjoyed other military journals-Patton, Rommel, Sun-Tzu, Skorzeny, Guderian, Marcinko, Suvorov, Plaster, and many more. So I was excited to read more ancient type journals (Xenophon, Herodtus, Josephus, Ibn-Fadlan) and I read that Caesar's actually mentioned two of the main characters in HBO's ROME. I have only seen a few episodes but I liked it for its George R.R. Martinesque ways. Brought it home cracked it open and its all in Latin. My Latin is very poor. So it sat on the shelf until I found an English translation last week. Now its on the sidebar.