Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Some excellent books... do yourself a favor, go read em...

(Many thanks to Russell R. Stewart for his assistance with some of the series chosen.)

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”   J.R.R. Tolkien

The great success of Game of Thrones on HBO and the movie franchise Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit have brought fantasy into bright focus.  Sadly, for some, they like aspects of these works but long for more depth of characters, less violence, more fantasy elements such as magic, faeries, and "love".

“It all goes back and back," Tyrion thought, "to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance in our steads.”  George R.R. Martin

I was asked if there were any good fantasy books that are NOT like either Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien or George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones.  They also asked that works such as the Shanara Terry Brooks series and the Mithgar series by Dennis McKiernan not be considered, as the person asking wants fantasy but nothing like the quest or struggle for power.   The sets here I am going to show therefore are fantasy, born of different mothers, and not of the sort of quest or war of the Roses situation found in the two series above.  There are many.

“All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Erol and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.”  J.R.R. Tolkien 

The first series of excellence is the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series.  While some books preceded the arrival of Lin Carter as editor of the series, he was very much an eloquent and erudite champion of the books chosen.  Along with writing introductions and explanations for whichever work in question, he additionally wrote some guides for the series that were deep, entirely accurate,  and made the series as much a celebration of great fantasy works as it was nearly a scholarly enterprise.  I learned about Lord Dunsany's work through this series, William Morris, E. R. Eddison, as well as the art work of Gervasio Gallardo and Frank Utpatel.  

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.” 


Robert E. Howard 

Robert E. Howard was a master of the pulp fiction genre.  He was also a product of his time.  He was imaginative, bright, and, despite some critical reviewers finding him limited, I think he had an ability to tell stories that was immediate, intimate and felt true, however odd or weird the setting.  He moved me, and the series from Glenn Lord as editor and commentator, the Berkley Books, are without any doubt on my part the very best.  Swords, antiquity, guns, action are all that you need to know.

Another aspect of Robert E. Howard that I like, is his wide look, at everything exciting, and his primal, powerful poetry.  For a tough guy he had a very complicated and diverse heart.


There are many series to consider, with some having dragons, some high magic, some with brutal struggle, some are deeply serious, others, light and fun.

Anne McCaffrey's work had/has a huge following.  I cannot say I liked what I read, but at the time I read it I was not inclined to enjoy it.  I wasn't stupid or chauvinistic, I didn't like the idea of the work, so whatever followed wasn't bound to succeed.  But from a very close friend who I trust, the works are not the same plot over and over, and he said, he fell in love with the lead character with every new book.

I bought this series for my wife, she loved it, shared it with family, and those books made the rounds.  I read them and liked them in a way that I find hard to describe.  The characters were real, the motives felt real, and while the level of action was somewhat less than most fantasy, the stories were rich with detail and the world concerned was lush.

“So you do believe in... true love? she whispered.
I took a deep breath, I think I have to, I said, blinking back tears. Without it, we're all going nowhere.”  Juliet Marillier

A long time ago, while in college, I was told by a woman I didn't know well, to read Katharine Kerr's work.  The stories were said to be complicated, intricate, but, compelling.  I tried reading these and, the writing was excellent.  But there was a story aspect that I didn't really enjoy.  However, others probably do.  The work follows heroes and others living and reincarnating over the course of long stretches of time.  And that isn't a horrible thing, I just wasn't about that. 

Jonathan Thomas Meriweather is from the planet earth of our reality.  He is somehow is transported from it to a magical land where animals speak, have intelligence on a level of humans, or more.  Humor and wit fill this series.   Since Alan Dean Foster is a favorite author of mine I think you can deduce whether or not I liked this. 

Ursula K. Le Guin moved my heart deeply.  Her writing is beautiful, and the world of Earthsea is one that is lavish in detail, and beautiful in fact.  The world is a water world with no great continents.  The humans upon the world have lives that are directly related to the oceans, harvesting and trading.  Another aspect of life on the Earthsea world is the central role of magic in the lives of the occupants.

“Even if a tamed wolf makes a good sheepdog, he will never understand how the sheep feel....You are most fortunate. For having been, as you thought, a coward, and helpless to fight - you know what that is like. You know what bitterness that feeling breeds - you know in your own heart what kind of evil it brings. And so you are most fit to fight it where it occurs.” Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon's Deed of Paksenarrion and Legacy of Gird were excellent.  The people of the planet were of the standard fantasy variety, elves, orcs, humans and others.  A farm girl, Paks leaves home due to an upcoming arranged marriage.  Her strength makes her a very likable character, and Moon's writing shines as this work, extended into the second series with Gird, is parts military fantasy, an individual path of the warrior becoming realized, and, most interestingly, religious.  Moon made certain, for me, that other writers of the day were just waving their hands at issues, Moon made each issue worthy, and that she did so with three vital themes when others might have just done one, was extremely impressive.

A fan of Lois McMaster Bujold told me to read this series, but sadly, I hadn't time to do so.  But the person who did read it said LMB writes well, makes characters that live on the page, and there is a undercurrent of love, and fantasy romance.

Katherine Kurtz series following the Deryni is clever in many ways.  The characters feel real while the canvas Kurtz paints upon makes the political and religious intrigues for power thrilling.  This world has humans and a race called Deryni who have mental and magical abilities, and as a race they have been hounded and outcast from society.  The stories concern life in the Eleven kingdoms, and these works are very satisfying.

Raymond Feist's Riftwars and other works are all worth reading.  The cities and states are incredibly well conceived, the Rifts in question revolve about the wars of magic users created portals between worlds and clashing.  If this is less deep in characterization it makes up for it with devastatingly well written action. 

I think the Wheel of Time series is similar in some respects to the epic quest works I suggested would be ignored for this entry into fantasy, however, it is an enormous series with an ending birthed with help of a new writer, as Robert Jordan had a disease that took him away prior to ending.  I know people who told me they could read a dozen more books like this, they love the detail and idea of it all.  I really liked Jordan's Conan the Barbarian new works, so I am sure they were written well, but, if I smell out a long ongoing perhaps never finished series, I don't begin reading it. 

Robert Silverberg's alien planet Majipoor series was not one that I've read.  It is, however, considered by people I deeply respect to be excellent.  The planet is enormous and is populated by many different humanoids species, all in direct competition for various artifacts and power.  Also, it is considered by many to be science fiction more than fantasy due to the quality of writing that brings out the sense of alien.

“Are you a storyteller, Thomas Covenant?"
Absently he replied, "I was, once."
"And you gave it up? Ah, that is as sad a tale in three words as any you might have told me. But a life without a tale is like a sea without salt. How do you live?"
... Unconsciously, he clenched his fist over his ring. "I live."
"Another?" Foamfollower returned. "In two words, a story sadder than the first. Say no more -- with one word you will make me weep.”  Stephen R. Donaldson 

At the time I read the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant I was not comfortable with a lead character who I rather disliked.  There was also too much yakking not enough whacking... OK maybe not.  It had a fast pace, it was vivid, and the depth of characters was highly impressive.  At the time I read these I was not used to, perhaps not ready to enjoy psychological versus visceral fantasy.  Though it is well, oh, far beyond well written, it was extraordinarily complex,  at times abstract, and always bleak.  This is the kind of story that I've always thought should exist, but I am guilty of expecting and preferring the less intense and more "fun" works.  Anyone liking that challenges you, would love this.  If you are bored by anything easily,  you might pass on this.

“What was that?" Belgarath asked, coming back around the corner.
"Brill," Silk replied blandly, pulling his Murgo robe back on.
"Again?" Belgarath demanded with exasperation. "What was he doing this time?"
"Trying to fly, last time I saw him." Silk smirked.
The old man looked puzzled.
"He wasn't doing it very well," Silk added.
Belgarath shrugged. "Maybe it'll come to him in time."
"He doesn't really have all that much time." Silk glanced out over the edge.
"From far below - terribly far below - there came a faint, muffled crash; then, after several seconds, another. "Does bouncing count?" Silk asked.
Belgarath made a wry face. "Not really."
"Then I'd say he didn't learn in time." Silk said blithely.”   David Eddings

David Eddings wrote well, and his characters are vivid, well motived and interesting.  But, by the third book of this series I found myself less and less interested.  I am not complaining, I just recognized it wasn't for me.  Magic and sweeping tales of Garion and his companions to find and use a stone also sort of violates my "epic quest" aspect of this, but what the hell.

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.”

W.B. Yeats

Monday, August 28, 2017

Set Backs, Life considerations

Recently I've had a number of set backs.  I have really no way to defend myself against them, due to the fact that they were unexpected, without any sort of prior warning, and attacking me in areas I have no ability to respond.  As such I am slowing the work on works in progress, I am taking stock in what I do have that is positive, and I am approaching a milestone of 2000 poems on my poetry blog.

This is not uncommon.  Every creative talent has issues to deal with.  Among mine are the desire to be true to the voice in me rather than that of others.  If I am perceived in a way others do not appreciate, it is not up to me to fix it.  It is actually unfixable.

Below is a reprint of a status I posted on Facebook.  I've edited it for the audience, because it was not meant to be sent to a larger audience than to my friends.  It is, however, honest, and by saying such, I wish to reduce my vulnerability to insult or attack by being so, so portions have been removed.

Original post begins

What Social Anxiety actually is... When I am getting vomits and chills and feel my heart breaking from the pounding, it is not being Nervous. I am not afraid of people. I am not afraid of speaking to people. I enjoy speaking in public. What I cannot accept is the way I see conformity forcing me into untenable compromises. I have been places and in situations where who and what I am is the one out of step with the masses, but I am the only one stepping in time. I am forced by my ethics and morals to resist, but the hate, the belief that I am wrong or fucked up because I refuse, ends up in my making stands that harm me and my future.  I've had numerous experiences in the world of poetry, the world of academia/history, and the world of comics, where what I am is unacceptable. If I exist, I am mocking everyone else's choices for the better.

I was asked to pitch ideas at various publishers over the years. Few ideas moved forward, but in a couple cases I was told the ideas I had would never be able to be made into a work that the public would buy. In one of those cases the publisher released a strangely familiar concept, by a person who had formerly been a friend, with a strange similarity to that which I've pitched. I have nothing to say, because by the time I was told that my ideas were without merit, and they used them, I had abandoned the projects. I am unwilling to fight when industry that asks me to participate proves to be more interested in theft.

This portion is edited from the original, greatly, because it is not necessary to go into detail here, it should be evident that a screwing was done.  I also had an artist ask to work with me, ask to be the artist on projects that I had a publisher for, and then, after the time had past and the work needed to happen, he came up with nothing.  And then he came back, 2 years later, and asked to do various projects and do them this time, but didn't.  He had screwed me on a total of 7 projects, and I am not mentioning his name, because any sort of serious recrimination would lead to considerations of legal consequences, and that just isn't worth it.

I say all of this because I am not willing to be someone's rape victim. You can assault me. You can injure me. But I am not interested in you doing this with my permission. I am in a position to publish my own work now, and that means if I am fucked, it was me doing the fucking. I've come to love a vast number of creative friends and to work with them on an equal basis. If you know anyone out there who says I've ever fucked them, they are lying to you.

I have reached a place where people might well say or believe that my work sucks, but if it does, I am content that I've given far more effort, far more time, and the greatest sort of devotion to my craft. I've been told my work is not academic in quality. Well I think that is good, actually, because I use words like bleeding, rather than exsanguinate, I use concepts like universal truths and ethical consideration of what is the norm. I make an effort to use words that are absolutely clear, rather than "beautiful". I believe that clarity and purpose is by far more important than beauty. Actually, I believe this is beauty defined. Who ever saw a rose and said, it has too many petals?

And I want to say, the number of people who screwed me is greater than those who helped. If you wonder why I seem dark and depressed, take a think on that one.

End original post.

In retrospect, while what I said is honest, it isn't altogether true in one area.  The number of people screwing me might be greater than those helping me, but, the degrees are not equal.  I was/am deeply blessed by the people who helped, far greater than any amount of injury done by those who hurt me.

I was helped by a number of people and I should explain how they helped me, so that it isn't as if no one helped me.  I had gone from covering the world of comics and popular culture as a journalist to that of a creative artist in a manner that I suspect was not normal, or rather, typical.  When I awoke on Thanksgiving morning of 2005 I learned that my brother had had some massive heart attacks and was in intensive care.  We drove down to the hospital immediately, and I was shocked to stare at him, him at the age of 44, and facing the consequences that smoking and drinking can make worse.  He had nearly died, perhaps twice, and he had to change and aim to be better in various areas of excess. 

And I looked at him, crushed by it all, and thought, this could be me in two years.  (Meaning, I'd be the age he was now, and while I drank rarely and didn't smoke, I was a fat fucker, and had numerous issues that if I were to ignore, I'd die.)  However, what made this a critical point for me in addressing my life, was that I had many loves, many things I was a fan of, but, I'd never attempted to do the things in my life that I had talents in.  I was a fine chef, I was an artist, but not as skilled as I was moved by art and had a different way of expressing it.  And, since I was young I'd read and written hundreds, perhaps thousands of poems.  And the poems that I had written were well received.  But, I was not interested in exposing my soul to the public.  Until now... You see, I saw my brother's form in ICU and thought, if I died in two years, outside of being a good father to my son, what had I done in my life?

I had many contacts in the world of art, comics, academia, and more.  I had worked with them or to their benefit with interviews, reviews, commentary.  And I had run a website aimed at a promotion of the world of the creative arts.  And I realized, maybe my work for little reward was not about making a living, but, instead, to establish connections with talented people.  So I sat down, and wrote a many hundred word epic poem, aimed at constructing something that would be for public consumption.  I sent it to Mike Grell, Jamie Delano, Timothy Truman, Amy H. Sturgis, Steve Niles and a couple of lesser known people in the world of Academia poetry and art.  The return comments were stunning.  Mike Grell said I would love to illustrate this.  Jamie Delano said it was worthy of more.  Timothy Truman said, hey this is very nice.  Amy Sturgis said, in response to my request to tell me honestly if I sucked, No Suckage here.  And Steve Niles said, shocking me, actually, I never really read this sort of thing, but I have to say, it was good, you are talented.  This all led to more poems, and Bob Giadrosich, an excellent artist and small publisher said so when are you going to collect these in a book form?  And that led to the forward motion of my life, from watching art being made and talking about it, to now being a creative person, making art, and publishing and being published.

I was invited to work on Josh Howard Presents Sasquatch before the book of poems illustrated by 27 different artists came out through Bob Giadrosich's small press.  And that meant that right off the bat, I was published twice.

One of the artists for one of my poems in the book tried pulling some shit.  He had had his poet wife rewrite my work, and said if you wish to use my art work you will need to use this form of the poem.  I was shocked, horrified, offended deeply.  I didn't read the poem that was rewritten, I was unsure what to do.  So I sent it off to my friends who had first advised me if I should move forward creatively.  All were pissed off at the artist.  Bob Giadrosich said, that is just wrong, first the poem isn't any better than the original, and this is a book of your work.  Mike Grell suggested flying to the state that artist lived in, and doing some unpleasant very violent things in reply... Grell said, first it isn't as good even, second it is a violation of your copyright, third the artist is not so good as to be able to make such demands, and fourth fuck him.  Jamie Delano said about the artist, this fellow is a daft cunt... fuck him.  I had no business experience, and here I had this Pollyanna vision of the world loving this creative work, and this artist had tried to fuck me.  It was only the advice of my mentors and creative friends that allowed me to understand what had happened.

Sure, I was offended, but as I realized short after the replies, rightly so.  I received help from all of these people, to such a degree, that I would be still wondering what I should do with me life, 12 years later.  They did help me greatly.  So, rather than focus upon the bad, I'd like to say thank you to the many people who did contribute to my creative life.

Mike, Jamie, Timothy, Amy, Steve and Bob let me know if I should go further, helped me understand how to go forward, and supported me with advice.  Without them I would not be a person expressing, creating, or even functioning.

Thank you to everyone who helped so very much.

I am in your debt.




“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  
Albert Camus  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Color Power

The Riots in Charlottesville are about racial politics.

I have no interest in defending anyone here, what happened there has many parents but the blame is not claimed by any child.  One said says free speech, the other side says hate speech, one side wanted violence, the other side came for the fights, and whatever and however you wish to apply the blame, it is a mix of shit, stupidity, assholish behavior, political stunting, and politics that barely arose during the previous presidents reign, despite his being black. I want to say though, Nazis, White Power, and the KKK are vile, bestial sacks of shit in human flesh.   But I was begged by a couple people who read my words my opinion.

So, I believe that White nationalists or supremacy or Black nationalists, or revisionists hold up race in a way that is the pit of stupidity.  You can not correct error with more error, and you cannot make up the past if it is a well known fact.  White power people are worshiping something that is an idol, which in my eyes becomes idolatry.  You see, you cannot change or claim a race, you are fucking born with it.  I say if it is righteous to hold up your race, you can justly hold up possessing a liver, or 10 fingers and 10 toes, (TOES!  Show em if you got em!)...  The reason idolatry is wrong isn't just that you mistake who deserves praise, but you are doing so to separate people with a false measure.  We could as easily separate peoples according to penis size (I am in trouble there) or IQ.  And we don't because, every male has some sort of penis, and every human possesses an IQ.  But there is the so called Hung Jury, made up of people who enjoy large penis partners) and there is also Mensa.  But we've never named a college or put up a statue devoted to men with giant cock, or to a College Classroom to George Frederick Smith, member of Mensa.  It is a way to identify yourself, but, it isn't important, and it is another form of idolatry.

Am I saying therefore White Power and BLM are equals? Fuck no.  I think BLM became vital when  it was clear, Black Lives Didn't Matter to non Blacks.  It isn't saying, All Lives Matter is wrong by saying Black Lives Matter.  It is a commentary on how the majority treats or views the Black minority.  I definitely have dealt with educated idiots who seek to raise up the Black race by making up bullshit about the known past.  The Whites have had power, the Blacks who do try to revise known history do this often seek to establish themselves as being agents, not victims, and their agency is praised highly.  But, it isn't really the truth.  So, I understand it, see why it exists, but the reason it happens is due to the hold upon history by the people who conquered, stole, cheated, and won.

I disagree with racism.  I believe it is vile.  But, I do believe that racism is not as powerful in the hands of the people dealing with the power of the dominant race.  Not saying that Whites are all guilty and Blacks are innocent.  The issue is, if a black person hates me for being white, historically it has not helped them, it has barely changed anything.  Whereas, if a White person hates black people, it often plays out in abuse, oppression, theft, and murder.

Some will sniff this out as equivocation. But that is not true.  I am fully aware of race, without using it to demean others.  But many, on all sides, are not so aware nor unwilling to use the structure to enhance their position in society.

I am White.  I am a male.  But I am not someone who thinks the first means anything, and the second is information but, I choose not to be a male asshole towards women.  It isn't because of political correctness, the stupid ass means to reduce labels to meaningless words.  I am not calorically enhanced, I am a sweaty fat fuck.  I am not scalp optimized, I am fucking bald.

Resist the desire for easy labels, by not fucking using them.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Love with a poet

Everyone has a desire to be loved.  I don't have a greater one than other people.  But, I did make a number of choices in life that were stupid, ignorant or bad, because I didn't really have a clue how people seem to be able to just find a great partner, or marry dozens of people in an act of marry em all and let God sort them out.  It wasn't that I couldn't love.  I had lots of love to share.  I didn't trust people enough to enter into a relationship that could take me to a point where I could be IN love.  I had many women in my life who I adored, but liking them is by no means being in love with them.

How then can a person so insular, not selfish but so introspective that he refuses to believe what others tell him, even with regard to body language and things people outright say?  In high school I saw people flirting, playing love games, all sorts of things, and there were so many people doing this I tried to watch and understand.  What I found out was that under no circumstances was I ever going to figure it out.  I was not able to share enough of me with anyone because I couldn't find the other person worthy of entering my secret chamber, because to find them I had to know more than my efforts would or could reveal.  I wasn't willing to try out different partners.  I wasn't interested in going through the social dance that had to be done.

From my perspective, I am a person who is INFJ on the MBTI, an adoptee who felt rejected by the birth mother, birth father as well as his adoptive father, and was raised to be morally perfectionist, would not be able to open his heart enough to let love flow in.  So, knowing I could not experience entry level relationships through dating, I had to assume a position of finding friends who would be my eye upon the world, and hope to find friends who could evolve into romantic loves.  This was not a plan based upon the success of others, but of the exceptionally isolation and alone-ness that being me caused.  I was not/am not gay, or bi-sexual, I truly was never attracted to any person who was not female.  When I realized that my friends were people I could grow worthy of being someone who could be loved, I then was able to take comfort there, and to bask in the friendship, knowing the future was/is unwritten.

My future wife, Beth, was a Canadian redhead, brilliant, big hearted, and both kind and possessed of a mind that fascinated, as well as confounded.  At the time we became friends it was my fear that I was falling in love because she was female, and not because of her many wonderful qualities.  That is, she deserved to be loved by someone for the many great qualities she had rather than due to a vacancy on the list of potential mates.  So, at the same time that I was trying to know her, I was fighting attraction, because she deserved someone who was healthy, happy and whole, and that was very much not me.  For a variety of reasons, I was broken.  I was not able to graduate from childhood to teen, from teen to adult without being wounded and disabled by numerous events and circumstances that caused damage.

I do not care who is to blame.  Blame doesn't make things go away, in fact, it inhibits the desire to overcome the problems.  So, this isn't about blame at all.

I went through a great many emotions dealing with the fact that not only was I attracted to my future wife, she was also all of the aspects of human that I admired, and loved.  Her greatest feature is her enormous love for children and desire to help others.  She made me wish to become a better more moral person.  I aspired to be worthy of her, and never thought the reverse, that she needed to be worthy of me.  When I looked into her eyes I saw my future with her.

I've written this entry to explain myself since there are many people who read my poetry and comments and assume.  I can't say I love you to a friend without it being assumed to either be romantic, towards females, or gay, towards males.  Various women have written to me telling me that they know my love poem was written to them.  It wasn't.  It never was.  And, I joke in many ways that are considered risque, but that doesn't mean there is intent or seriousness behind the words. 

I love my wife.  I have never cheated.  I never will. Whatever the flaws in my wife and my relationship, I could not see anything but us together as a future result.  We agreed never to divorce prior to our marriage.  We vowed it before each other and God.  Because this world assumes that making money is a moral obligation, the role of me as a writer making little money was difficult.  And for about 5 years my wife seemed bitter towards me due to the lack of money.  I felt the lack of love, and I was foolish enough to no longer look at our future and instead only thought of my need for love.  It hurt us, and I was wrong to be anything but her best friend and lover.  I am happy to say, whatever mistakes that have happened, no longer happen.

It requires a mature sort of love to accept vast difference between partners, to survive 30 years together.  I am not easy to love.  Beth is not easy to live with, although she is easy to love.  I am not perfect, nor, even, close to almost perfect.  I am flawed.  But I can say, after all this time, we are still in love, we are happy as a partnership, and I still see her as beautiful as she ever was before we were married.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Politcal shit.

Under Obama Gay people were allowed to marry.
Under Trump Statues of Enemy Generals are people.
Under Obama the president could see his son in the victim of a crime.
Under Trump Corporations are considered more valuable than people.
Under Obama Rich folks were squeezed by taxes at a higher rate.
Under Trump Taxes for all, especially those rich, will be lowered.
Under Obama People learned that transgender people existed.
Under Trump Transgender people are not allowed to serve in the military, despite having served for decades.
Under Obama The highest official of the country was worried for the common person.
Under Trump White Nationalists are not enemies of the state, but unheard voices.

No, I am not a fan of Trump.  I wasn't a fan of Hillary Clinton.  There was a better choice other than Trump.  But, having said this, Clinton was horrible, and so was Trump.  For the people who want to mock Trumpers, this isn't the case.  I'd rather Bernie, I'd rather Pat Fucking Buchanan, I'd rather the dead body of Ronald Reagan over these two lunatics.

Yeah, it sucks, gee, we sure didn't see this coming.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I've been asked what is an epic poem and why do I like the form.

The definition comes from Wiktionary ... An epic poem, epic, epos, or epopee is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation.

I do love epic poetry.  It isn't the sound of the words upon my ear, not the rhythm, but, what they talk about, how they talked about the subject, and how very important most of these have been to the gathering of history, and the placement of each story into the context of their time.

What the poetry in this form does is tell you how a deed was done, in a fashion of verse, that was common to its day.  It might be that the work is factual, or perhaps it is more about the idea of it all.  But what you might not realize, is that these works actually tell the truth, regardless of the events being "truth" or not.

There is a place, far beyond our conscience that understands that Beowulf and Grendel was not about a true king killing a beast, but is an allegory for the rise of some people and the fall of others, or the competition between the religious beliefs of the people of that world.

Whichever metaphor or allegorical subject is closer to the truth, does not matter.  The lessons of such collisions of culture inform us while we read or listen to the adventures of the day.

Gilgamesh was an ancient king and hero, descended from the gods, at least half of his lineage, that is, and he fought beasts, rescued people from disaster, dealt with a world wide flood, and after his great companion Enkidu was killed, he visited the afterlife to fight death and to find eternal life.  These were important concepts of the day.

The world around us today, in the present is far different in many respects from that of the past.  But while I recognize this, being upon a search for meaning, to learn about my spirituality, to find and defend friends, to become aware of the values of being a human are all mutual experiences.  That they are captured in such works allows us a glimpse into the mind of the day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Curiosity rather than evil

As an historian I find the tapestry of human record, event, and public act to be magnificent.  Sometimes even the most horrible thing is packed with information and truth that you otherwise would not experience.  I've read some of the most horrifying facts on record but, due to my interest, I find it without the punch others experience.

My curiosity needed to be satisfied.  Even should it be murder, famine, or massacre, the truth is not harmful.  And in some cases, it needs to be known to prevent repeating of the events.  It isn't just curiosity though.  I have an insatiable desire to know everything possible.  I get frustrated with my flesh when I am too tired to go further.  Sleep is great, but when I do research I find a zen place of reading solidly.  So, it is a compulsion for who knows what reason.

Someone asked me why I want to read about events that are dark.  I think it isn't the right question.  I had come to be fascinated by the rise of and the fall of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.  When my brain wondered why the Nazis didn't work I went to read about 25 books about the history of the Nazis, their organizations, their crimes, and the Holocaust.  After doing so I had no attraction or curiosity about them.  I didn't read this information because I like the darkness, it is because I hate the acts of the Nazis that I had to understand why they did what they did.

Now, as I don't enjoy the darkness if you are aware of what this Kanji says, it is saying I am my own demon.  I believe this.  It isn't me sacrificing to Demons or Satan.  It isn't me practicing evil.  It is, the person who disappoints me the most is me.  I eat things I am not supposed to eat.  I do things I am not supposed to do.  I want things I should not want.  And I lust for things that I should find the strength to fight.

Some people believe any sort of inquiry about a dark subject means you are fantasizing or wanting to do it.  I guarantee that I do not want to be gassed like in Auschwitz or murdered by a madman.  But I am curious what made them do it.   I can listen to a song of Nazi propaganda songs without becoming or even agree with the Nazis.   I do take seriously the Nietzsche quote "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.  And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."  But what I do is not like this at all.  I refuse to be moved by the abyss.

I will say this... it is true that sometimes evil is not recognized for what it is.  If it is beautiful or charming, it can often weasel its way passed your defenses.  Satan was called the Bright Morning Star.   The Portuguese Man O War are beautiful, in their blue translucent bodies.  They can also sting and kill.  A politician is often slick, often of better appearance than others.  But he might well have a dark plan.  Just remember, slavery was legal.  Hitler was elected legally.  And American leaders called for and achieved the Japanese American Internment.  That is, free people who had done nothing illegal were placed in barbed wire enclosures, with machine guns aimed inward.   Because they MIGHT do something.

Beauty is often deceiving.  And when I see it I am often struck, looking very much like the deer in the headlights.  I often say, beautiful women make me stupid.  And it is the truth.  But usually beauty is natural, positive, and hopeful.

So do not focus upon the abyss should you gaze.  But gazing is not always going to end badly.