THE VIPER (first draft of scene)
Maugham walked back over to Steinthal.
Steinthal asked him, “Who is that?”
Maugham was uncharacteristically blunt, and voluble.
“That is the toughest son of a bitch I’ve ever met in my life,” he told him.
Steinthal almost flinched. He had never met anyone tougher than Maugham and wasn’t much sure he liked the idea.
“Also,” Maugham went on almost to the point of being prolix (for him anyway), “he is meaner than hell and he may even be your equal in cunning and craft.”
Steinthal whistled appreciatively, just barely above the whisp of a dog-whistle. He looked hard at the man Maugham had just been conversing with when suddenly the guy looked over at him. Had he heard Steinthal’s whistle? Steinthal wondered if that was even possible.
The guy rose up from his table and just stood there, unmoving. Was he waiting, just watching, or coiling? He was short, shorter than Steinthal, and wiry, with cords of muscles that stood out up and down his neck. He had a couple of facial scars, one a long straight slice and the other maybe a burn, and sported a multiply broken nose and the look of a man who had been stabbed a few times to the point of aggravation.
He was dressed so that you couldn’t tell if he was a day laborer or an informant. Or both. His clothes looked washed out, as if they could fade smoothly into the backgorund, and like they didn’t quite fit. Or he did. Or both. He carried himself as if he could have been concealing no weapons, or any number of them.
He looked directly at Steinthal and he smiled, only it wasn’t really a smile. It was more like when a snake’s jaw unhinges and its flat lips curl back to swallow something. Steinthal wasn’t really sure if that was for his benefit alone, or just directed at the world in general, but whatever the intent it was threatening, and patiently sibilant – all at once. And about as creepy and surreal a disposition to strike as possible for anything shaped like a man.
Steinthal looked at Maugham and Maugham looked at him.
“Do you know this guy?” Steitnhal asked.
“Yeah,” Maugham said, in his typically taciturn manner.
“Know him well?” Steinthal asked again.
“Well enough,” Maugham replied.
“How?” Steinthal said seriously, more in the way of an interrogation than a friendly question.
Maugham shook his head like a bull being called in from the field. Steinthal knew that that meant and just nodded.
“Yeah,” said Maugham. “When we first met I thought you might be related.”
Steinthal furrowed his brow. Steinthal raised his hand horizontally so that his forefinger pointed at Maugham and his thumb pointed back at himself.
“You thought we might be related?”
“No,” Maugham said flatly. “I thought that you two might be related. Why I didn’t kill you immediately.”
“You didn’t kill me because you happen to like this guy?” Steinthal asked, fishing for the reason.
“No,” Maugham said shaking his head as if the question were silly and somehow self-negating. “I didn’t kill you because if you two were related then I wasn’t absolutely sure I could.”
Steinthal nodded, accepting the comment, but was doubtful that was the whole story. It was Maugham though, so what could ya really do?
Then Steinthal looked back over at the stranger. For all he knew the guy was still breathing, but if he was then he showed no signs.
Inside his own mind Steinthal shook his head while watching the guy, but as far as anyone else knew he just stared silently at the stranger.
“Why’d you set this up Maugham?” Steinthal asked. “Couldn’t have been easy to get him to play along.”
“He’s not playing,” Maugham replied. “And no, it wasn’t. But I thought that maybe, just this once, we could use him.”
Inside his own mind Steinthal nodded, but to Maugham he shook his head so that no one else would notice.
“So,” Steinthal asked. “What do I call it?”
“You don’t,” Maugham answered. And it didn’t seem contrived at all.
“Well then, should I approach it, or let it approach me?”
“Yes,” Maugham said. “That should work.”
Steinthal nodded still intently studying the other man.
“Well then,” Steinthal finally said. “Best clear the room. If we’re gonna see what happens.”
But when Maugham made no reply, and Steinthal glanced over to check on him, Maugham was already gone. And when he turned back to look for the other guy the other guy was already in his face.
“Anybody can be ambushed,” Steinthal told her. “By some evil-souled, sneaky, cowardly little sonuvabitch. That is never the victim’s fault. However being naive enough to think that you will never be ambushed, or reckless enough to never prepare for the possibility, that is the victim’s fault. By victim I mean you,” he said pointing directly at her.
“You just got lucky tonight my dear. And that’s good, but that’s all. Cause luck ain’t a plan and there ain’t much of a future in habitual bad habit. So learn from this mess. And next time you be ready to do the killing. Understand?”
She nodded slowly and then looked up at him.
“I understand,” she said.
“Good,” he said. “Because that was the point.”
from The Detective Steinthal
HOW MEDIEVAL THEURGY WENT COMPLETELY WRONG AND HOW I INTEND TO CURE THAT
Recently I have been reading The Sacred Magic of Abra Melin the Mage, one of the seminal texts on Theurgy and magic from the Medieval Ages. I have a personal library of many of these texts and this book is one of my favorites.
However it also highlights one (or even some) of the great failings of Medieval Theurgy and related forms of “magic.” And as many of you know I have a very different definition of magic than is the popular conception. Which I won’t detail here as it is described in my other writings on the subject and in the books I intend to publish on the matter.
But to return to the question at hand: The failure(s) inherent in Medieval Magic.
Before I describe that however (or one of the two most glaring ones) I must say what Medieval Theurgy actually got right.
First that all “magic” is really theologically and supernaturally based (and this has been the case and the basic conception of Magic throughout human history, up until very recently, Magic is not the result of a parallel force or inanimate source of “magical” energy running parallel to the natural sciences), secondly that natural sciences used to be a part of magic (until it split away and became its own discipline and concern), and thirdly that Theurgy should concern itself primarily with understanding both the world (as it actually exists) and how God created the world to exist in that way, and why. The Fourth conception, the one I will mainly address, that there are Good Beings and evil beings (other than human beings) that exist in the cosmos (regardless of the fact of whether or how often they interact with men) is a point I shall address in a moment.
That is what Medieval Theurgy got right.
Where it went off course, and in this case badly so, is in a related idea but a wholly different sort of practice.
Medieval Theurgy was big on the invocation and summoning of Angels and benevolent spirits, a development hearkening back to ancient times and one I think that was primarily positive. However it was also big on the summoning and invocation of demons and harmful and malignant spirits.
Here are my basic problems with that suspect concept. The summoning of Good Spirits and Angels (those who remained faithful to God, to God’s morality, or were in direct contact with God) is to me primarily a good thing. Medieval Theurgists summoned angels to converse with, to seek advice from, to have transmitted to them God’s Will, to have prophecy or scripture explained to them, to seek to understand the physical universe and creation, to have various phenomena explained to them, to have dreams and visions interpreted, to receive moral guidance, to be healed of injury and illness, to be protected from evil or disaster, etc. All of the things commonly associated with angelic beings in Scripture.
All of this I applaud and think very positive. I wish more people tried this kind of thing nowadays.
Two important side-notes however: I think Medieval Theurgists erred in thinking that simply by employing certain techniques or rituals that they would be able to automatically invoke, evoke, or summon angels (or any other kind of being) and have them respond almost mechanically to such a summons. That is a very juvenile and even idiotic assumption in my opinion. First of angels, like any other creature or being, has a free will. This is obvious and self-evident or none of them would have ever rebelled against God. And secondly if a Theurgist sought advice or action contrary to the Will of God (which I think is very flexible by the way) or malignant in some way then no angel is required to respond in any way.
The second side-note I would make is that God, being the Prime Source of All Things, including Being itself (not to mention angels and creatures), well, God should always be your first point of contact. That just seems self-evident to me – always first seek the Prime Source, not any secondary or tertiary force. And if you can communicate with and/or more importantly understand the Prime Source (which will not always be the case) then stick with that, and if not, then seek other assistance.
And to a Christian the Holy Spirit should always be your first “Being of Consultation, Explanation, and Guidance.” Angels are almost superfluous as a result of this condition and this Being, except as Allies, if direct communication with God and direct Guidance by the Holy Spirit is possible. However I am also well aware of the fact that there are times when it is very difficult to properly discern the will or intent of God, and it seems as if the Guidance of the Holy Spirit in uncertain or confused (if only in our own personal reception or interpretations of what is trying to be communicated to us). So one should always seek Theurgic Communication first with God, and then only if confused, lost, or uncertain, with Godly allies or assistants. Though I also think angels make extremely good allies and will do their very best to truthfully explain and expound upon God’s Will and Nature as they understand it, though no-one fully understands the full Will of God but God Himself.
But all of that being said, and with the caveats explained above, I am in no way hostile to communication with and alliance with angelic and good spirits. Just don’t expect them to be automatons or servile in any fashion or just waiting around to serve you like a paid employee or worse, like a slave. They have an existence independent of you just as your human friends and allies do. They are obligated to you and in service to you in the same way your human friends and allies are, meaning, of course, it is a two-way street of mutual respect and benefit.
But where the Medieval Theurgist really went off track is with the practice of invoking, evoking, and summoning of demons and malignant spirits.
Let me explain the basic idea and concept involved in this odd practice. The ancients (in the West anyway) had an idea of spirits that revolved around the Greek term daemon, which basically meant “spirit.” Now a dameon could be either good or bad, and often was both. Though some tended to be mostly benign and some tended to be mostly malignant. But all were capable of both aspects of behavior, just as one might think of a human being or human companion. In other words a daemon was just like a pagan god (only less powerful for the most part) and open to capriciousness and emotionalism (it was not driven by a Universal or Inherent system of logic and morality, as our concept of God, but only by temporal circumstance or relativistic morality) just as the ancient pagan gods were.
By the Middle Ages, especially with the advent and ascendancy of Christianity and Judaism (and the Triumph of a Monotheistic God who is bound by his own sense of Morality and Virtue) that notion had become split into the idea of angel (being Good Spirits) and demons (being bad or evil or malignant spirits) and of a whole race of beings directly tied to Virtue and another whole race of beings decidedly and intentionally tied to vice. There were also other and more complicated notions involved such as Spirits that were a specific aspect of God’s Nature or of specific Godly Virtues but let’s leave that aside, as it is not germane to the current discussion.
(As a personal sidenote I should also say that I am of the opinion that there are sprits that are open to both good and ill, as are human beings, and that there are specific classes or races of Beings who are definitely and definitively good, such as Angels – a parallel case among men being Saints – and races and classes of beings dedicated to evil for their own reasons, such as is the case with some men – serial killers, habitual violent criminals, tyrants, warlords, terrorists, and so forth.)
In any case the general Medieval idea was that it was acceptable to invoke, evoke, and summon demons or malignant spirits as long as they were carefully controlled, and that the techniques used to control these beings or entities were the same techniques employed by angels and God to control them. That’s a very nice sounding theory, in theory.
My problem with that theory though is threefold. First of all demons and malignant spirits are obviously possessed of their own free will. Or they would not have and could not have revolted or rebelled against God. Secondly even if they could be controlled by some technique or in some fashion then there is no reason to not suspect that at the very least such a spirit would surely attempt sabotage of the aims of the summoner, or would most certainly attempt deception and misdirection in the execution of any “orders or commands” given it by such a summoner. Third I do not believe it is any more possible to gain summoning (or actionable) control over a demon than it would be to gain summoning control over an angel. Each kind of being has an existence beyond us and is not in any way open to manipulation or control unless they voluntarily decide to grant such a thing to another. It seems far more likely and far more logical to conclude that a demon would seek to gain control over another (forced or pact-ful or agreed upon possession) than to voluntarily grant control to another over itself. It is simply illogical to conclude that malignancy exists to allow itself to be enslaved for the purposes of third-party control.
(By the way one of the true differences between the Medieval Magician, Wizard, or Theurgist, and the Medieval Sorcerer or Warlock – and to a certain degree the Medieval Witch – was on this very point. The Theurgist or Magician believed that demons were bad but could be controlled and forced to “do good” through the agency and techniques of the summoner. The magician or Theurgist made “no pact or agreement” – other than demands and commands – with the demon but rather sought control or enslavement of the same.
The Sorcerer or Warlock, on the other hand, did seek to make pacts with such beings in exchange for personal power, wealth, or desire fulfilment. The Medieval Magician believed in alliance with angels but control of demons, the sorcerer or warlock in alliance or pacts with demons – for personal gain – and often in order to harm enemies or to exercise his own personal malignancies or evils, and in opposition to the commandments of God. It is a real and distinct difference, of course, but in all practicality it seems an extremely subtle, and pragmatically speaking, a superficial one. Yes, personally I also would like to be able to control evil and force it to do good. Merely because I so will it. But is that, in itself, not also a form of evil and enslavement, and far more to the point, could I really trust in the results or validity of such an enslavement? Even if I could “successfully” enslave evil, if it were truly evil, could I ever then entrust it? I am extremely doubtful I could. I suspect that this may be one reason God does not seek to enslave evil either. It’s just speculation on my part, but it seems reasonable to me. God could never trust enslaved evil. And neither can I. Though I would see it destroyed.)
Which brings me to my last point in this matter. Whereas I do believe that God can control anything if he so wishes, and that no demon is really a match (on a one to one basis) for most angels or for a Saint or even most truly determined good men (that is to say demons are limited in their power and scope and do not possess the ability to control angels or even men unless this is done willingly or in fear or ignorance on the part of the man) this is not to say that demons are powerless or helpless or under the subjugated control of others. That is to say that God confines the abilities possessed by a demon but he does not enslave demons (force them under his control, rather they fear him if he is provoked and can exercise no natural power over him) or he would have enslaved them already and long ago. If God was in the enslavement business (and he is certainly not, even if that seems illogical towards evil) then he would have reduced demons to mere robotic automata long ago and resolved evil in that way. He could, if he so desired, simply enslave or destroy evil and evil beings and creatures, but he does not, he merely confines them in some ways.
That being the case it makes no sense at all to me to have any truck with any being (or creature) that one knows to be habitually and intentionally evil. At the very best you could only exercise an untrustworthy, suspicious, and limited form of semi-confinement against their natural impulse to do wrong, with the likely sabotage of your true objectives to closely follow, and at the worst you would become the unwitting or willful subject of the manipulations and deceptions of such a malignant being.
Why then attempt such a reckless course as communication and truck with demons?
Well, I think for two reasons. First of all many Jewish Theurgical texts, whereas warning about such dangers, had an idea of demons that lay somewhere between the ancient pagan one of daemons (spirits being both good and bad) and the Christian conception of a demon that is wholly malignant. That is the Jewish Theurgists and magicians and Qabalists and even rabbis understood that demons are malignant (and warned of this fact often) but still felt they could be controlled with the proper techniques or knowledge. And perhaps they are, to a very few, but I have no interest or desire to test this presupposition for myself. I am too naturally suspicious and repelled by the aims of evil. So whereas I do not fear demons or malignant spirits I also have no interest in them and would rather avoid them or if necessary simply cast them away, banish, or exorcise them.
Many Christian Theurgists though, many, but not all, (some were influenced by the Jewish Theurgists and others – and by the way not all Jewish Theurgists thought it wise to consort with demonic forces or beings either) said simply that you should avoid them, abjure them, or eschew and cast them away as a source of power or trustworthy information.
(Or, as Isaac Asimov once wrote in a science fiction story I read as a kid – when the Devil came to his story character to bargain for his soul in exchange for power and long life and what the man most desired, that character replied,
“Why should I bargain with you for long life and success and power and my desires? I shall have all of those things anyway due to my own efforts and with the assistance of God. It will take long but I will owe you nothing in exchange and there will be no real cost to me other than that of patience.”
Indeed. My thoughts exactly. I am paraphrasing the reply of course; I don’t have that old story in front of me. But that was the gist of the response.)
In any case these types of theurgists (those who thought you could control demons or malignant spirits) wanted to control such beings as essentially “forced or enslaved labor.” To do Work. To execute commands and to grant favors. To accumulate wealth or power for the Theurgist. Now even if you wish to do this and your motives and aims are entirely good and beneficial you still face the very daunting and real problems I outlined above.
But even the Medieval Theurgists knew that you could not force an Angel to “do your bidding,” no matter how beneficial your bidding might be. At best you could only request the assistance of an angel (which is fine by me, I cannot force another human being to assist me either, and I cannot force God to act on my behalf, only request such assistance, but that is fully acceptable to me as a fact of life) but you could not “enforce servitude.” But many Medieval Theurgists did believe you could force or enslave a malignant spirit to do as you wished.
Or put more simply, angels and other such allies were for Information (guidance, discernment, and Wisdom), but malignant spirits could be employed for Action (forced or enslaved labor against which they would be powerless to resist).
I think that is a mistake in both cases. You cannot really force demons to “do your bidding” (be it for good or ill – without facing the difficulties described above)) and it is a mistake to think of angels as “Intel only” and not as agents of Action, though the assistance would be voluntarily granted, not given by command.
Nevertheless there were Medieval Theurgists who thought you could control demons and that it was the actions of these enslaved spirits who accounted for the Actions or achievements (or “workings”) of Theurgy.
I think those two propositions and ideas to be entirely in error and wholly wrong in conceptualization.
I think rather that the true motive force or the actions of Theurgy are not achieved by enslaved spirits, but rather by the manipulations of beneficial probability forces (the best possible outcome being caused by the best possible set of operational principles functioning at optimal capacities in each circumstance) within the field of all quantum possibilities. I also think that God and angels willingly assist in these efforts no matter how they are undertaken (by mechanical work, by science, by prayer, by theurgy, by thaumaturgy, etc.), but that these efforts are never willingly undertaken by demons or malignant beings or creatures because evil and malignant beings desire the very opposite outcomes. Not the best possible outcome, but the worst, or the most disastrous or destructive, or at the very least a decided corruption of the best possibilities.
Therefore my personal practice of Theurgy will involve and has involved seeking the best possible outcome in every circumstance (as an operational principle of Theurgy) and will involve benevolent alliances and contact with beneficial allies and forces and beings and creatures. That is to say that I do believe that there is a parallel force to the Natural (or put another way – the Mechanical) Sciences (of which I am a very big proponent) but not that it is demonically or supernaturally based (though I do have great faith in the supernatural, depending on how you define the term) but rather that it is based upon the operational field of Quantum Mechanics – with the underlying intent being, “the best possible and most beneficial and benevolent outcome in every possible circumstance or set of circumstances”).
On the other hand I will eschew and discourage any contact or involvement with malignant beings or forces as I think of them (with good and logical evidence) as sources of curses, not Blessings, and of failure and harm and malignant probabilities, not Success and Benefit and Benevolent Probabilities.
Being a practicing Christian Theurgist I had intended to write this essay some time ago, but delayed doing so as I wanted to go back and re-read some of the Medieval texts I had read long ago.
Now that I have done so, and now that I have written this essay I think that I may very well adapt it and use it as an introduction to my book The Christian Wizard (or Theurgist or Genius).
Anyway I hope you enjoyed this essay and found it useful.
WHAT I NOW DO ON THE WEEKENDS
How and Why My Weekends Are Now Totally Different
I used to save my weekends for my entertainments. Watching TV and occasionally (very occasionally) playing video games, or just sitting around and relaxing. Because I don’t do these things during the week. Occasionally I’d also go somewhere, like to a movie. Or a bookstore, or library, or I’d work on one of my novels or books. The idea being that I used my weekends for relaxation and entertainment.
Now I have a totally different weekend routine and schedule.
Because I realized that my weekends were not advancing me. At all. As a matter of fact they often allowed me to regress in my progress so that come Monday I often had to intensify my efforts to make up for lost productivity or advancement on the weekends.
I used to think my weekends were for entertainment and relaxation.
Now, instead, I think of my weekends (and conduct my weekends) as an opportunity for recreation, fun, and enjoyment.
I take pleasure and enjoyment now in different kinds of things, some very different from my prior weekend schedule, some subtly but still noticeably different from my previous weekend activities.
So let me now sketch out some of the activities I currently engage in during the weekends:
1. I continue my physical training from the week before. Not as hard, but in a relaxed form. Often this involves things that stretch me out, enhance my flexibility and my reflexes (very helpful considering my prior injuries), or allow me to recover from weight lifting and hiking in heavy packs. Things such as boxing, sword fighting, working on stealth, climbing, throwing the discus, hitting baseball, yoga, tai chi, etc.
2. I am teaching myself to play the guitar and to play far more complex chords on the piano than I normally do.
3. I spend time with my wife and kids and pets
4. I have gone back to drawing and sketching and architectural design
5. I learn new languages or improve my mastery of languages I already know
6. I practice and study Theurgy
7. I continue listening to the lectures I had been listening to during the week
8. I play games (board, role play, wargames) either with family and friends or by myself
9. I walk in the forest, explore, or Vad
10. I listen to my scanner or radios or monitor other communications (HAM, shortwave, etc.)
11. I study mathematics and physics (and other sciences, such as epigenetics, chemistry, biology, etc. as the mood strikes me)
12. I read for pleasure ( have returned to genre reading, such as sci-fi, detective, mystery, horror, fantasy, historical fiction, children’s literature, etc. – basically the same kinds of things I write)
13. I write a poem or song (if I’m in the mood)
14. I make notes in my notebooks to prepare for the upcoming week
15. I listen to music with a special emphasis on discovering music that is new to me
16. I work on my wood-craft and soon I plan to buy a small forge and master some of the arts of metalcraft (knife and sword and axe-head making)
17. I am taking up working with drones and 3-D printers and small robots
18. I try to come up with a new business idea or review our investments
19. I invent, build, or repair something, or renovate the house
20. I travel locally, throughout the state, or into nearby states
Now I’m not able to do all of these things every weekend, of course, except spend time with my family (assuming they are not somewhere else), teach myself guitar, and every weekend I try to study and practice Theurgy and explore or spend time in the woods.
But the point is that my weekends are far more active, enjoyable, productive, profitable, and refreshing (they are now Recreationally- oriented) than they are entertainment-oriented. And usually by Monday I am far more energized and ready for the new week than was previously the case.
My advice to you, and I know we live in an entertainment driven culture (movies, video-games, sports, etc.) that promotes entertainment above all else (in many cases), is to skip or put aside the entertainments as much as possible and focus instead on Recreation and more Beneficial Activities.
Personal activities, physical ones, social ones, educational ones, acting on your true goals and objectives, on your hobbies and avocations – focus on the things that bring you the greatest pleasure and fulfillment rather than upon those things that merely distract and entertain you.
For mere entertainment is a time-consuming and life-wasting trap. And more often than not it is a profit-wasting venture rather than an enriching one. And I mean that in both the financial sense (think of how much money you piss-away on bad films, group sports – where you don’t even play, you just sit on your asses watching others play, and mediocre video games) and in the general sense concerning the fact that you are wasting your perishable time and life-span on essentially useless activities.
Now before anyone thinks that I will say that I am not against all video games, or films, or even spectator and group sports. I am merely saying that far too much time is uselessly and profitlessly expended on the pursuit of these things as mere distractions and entertainments from actually living and accomplishing truly worthwhile endeavors and enterprises. Hell, even just a casual weekend hobby – such as rocketry, flying drones, exploring, , reading for pleasure, etc. is likely to be far better for your mind, body, and soul than merely sitting for hours upon your ass passively consuming (for the most part) films, television shows, spectator sports, and video games.
Finally, and not to be overlooked, by being more active on the weekends your sex drive increases. So, more sex with the wife. Sometimes a lot more.
And that never hurts a man…
NOT THE REASON I SHOULD CARE
Steinthal looked at the picture. Then he handed it back to Williams.
“What do you want me to do?” Steinthal asked.
“Shadow him,” Williams replied. Steinthal almost laughed at the term then caught himself. Curiosity got the better of humor.
“Maybe I can do it, but who is he, and why would I track him?” Steinthal said.
“You don’t recognize him?” Williams seemed truly dumbfounded.
“Why would I recognize him?” Steinthal said flatly. “I’ve never met him or seen him before.”
“But that’s Dale J. Soggs,” Williams responded.
Williams waited to see if the name would have an effect but when it didn’t he tried again.
“He’s the football player! First draft two years ago. Very first first draft,” Williams said.
Steinthal looked at Maugham and Maugham looked at Steinthal and then Maugham casually shrugged his shoulders.
Steinthal looked back at Williams and then, unable to contain HIMSELF anymore, laughed out loud. When he stopped laughing he scratched his neck and shook his head.
“Williams, what do I give a shit if he plays football?” Steinthal replied. “Is that supposed to be your pitch to me? You think I have nothing better to do with my time than watch fucking football? I’m a grown man Williams, not a little school girl. Look at Maugham Williams. You think he’s got nothing more important to do with his time than watch fucking football? You think he’s never done anything more dangerous than fucking football?”
Williams looked up at Maugham. He towered over them both.
“You don’t watch football either?” he asked Maugham. “Guy like you? Big as you are?”
Maugham looked down at Williams, smiled thinly, and shook his head dismissively. Then he went back to chewing his gum.
Williams looked back at Steinthal who was still waiting for a reply to his question. Williams still seemed confused so Steinthal backtracked.
“I didn’t ask you what he did Williams, if you can call that doing something. I asked you who he was and why you want him surveilled. Now who is he that you need him watched? And don’t give me any bullshit about him being a football player because I don’t give a shit. In case you missed it I don’t watch fucking football. And if this is about football then you’re killing your time and my interest. Now who is the man that you want him followed, and why?”
Williams looked stunned, then shook his head and exhaled loudly. He seemed to deflate as he did so.
“They said you’d be just like this,” he finally said.
“Like what?” Steinthal asked almost disinterestedly.
“Straight to the point,” Williams answered.
Steinthal ran his hand through his beard.
“Look, you want a play-runner or a ballet dancer then get another football player to chaperone him around. They can take notes on him, carry his little athletic bag, scrub his cleats, and type up his itinerary. Maybe take him to his pedicure or his oil bath where he can meet his side-chick. Assuming that’s what you’re after. But if I’m going to follow the man then I’m going to know exactly who and what he is and why he actually needs to be followed. Get me?” Steinthal said.
Williams blinked, then nodded. It was completely silent for a moment, except for someone vacuuming up at the far end of the hall.
“Now Williams, now,” Steinthal said. “I’m not here for the psychoanalysis and the ambiance.”
Williams blinked again and cleared his throat.
“We think he,” the team rep began. “Well, we’re not sure, you see, but we think he could be, maybe, a foreign agent,” Williams finally admitted.
This time Steinthal blinked.
“A football player?” Steinthal asked incredulously.
“Well, it’s just that, you see…” Williams answered, but Steinthal set his jaw and shook his head for silence. Then he ran his hand through his beard again, scratched his chin, nodded, and motioned to Maugham. Both men turned and walked towards the door.
Surprised Williams watched them reach the door before he thought to respond.
“Wait a second?” he blurted out. “Are you gonna do it? Will you follow him for us?”
Steinthal stopped at the door and turned to Williams.
“We will,” Steinthal replied.
“Well,” Williams continued confused. “Don’t you want any details on the man? Like where he lives, what he drives, that kind of thing…”
“No, I don’t,” Steinthal replied. “I’ll gather my own intel, and details. Call you in three days.” Then he and Maugham left, walked to the end of the hall, and punched the button for an elevator.
When they were inside and descending Maugham looked at Steinthal.
“Think this is what it appears to be?” he asked his friend.
“Hell no!” replied Steinthal. “No one would.” Maugham smiled.
“Think this Soggs guy might actually be dangerous then?” Maugham asked.
“If he is,” replied Steinthal, “we’ll find out soon enough. But in any case it won’t be because he’s a football player.”
And Maugham nodded and they both laughed.
from The Detective Steinthal
I was working on a sci-fi story last night called, The Seas the Skies, when this scene popped into my head about a new case for Steinthal and Maugham. Something I’ve been thinking of doing anyway given all of the crap hysteria about foreign agents and all of the crap about professional football in our modern society. So I wrote this scene instead. First draft. If you’ll excuse the pun.
I’ll punch out the sci-fi story today after my hike with Sam.
Have a good day folks.
I’ve been teaching myself to play the guitar. Today at lunch and while screwing around and learning a particularly tough set of chords (for me to master – I’ve had my left wrist broken and it makes me slow) I thought about Tom Petty and the lyrics to the following song came to me. I have the basic chord structure, and the progression, and the flourishing but haven’t yet begun to write down the music.
This is only the second song I have ever composed on the guitar. By that I mean I usually songwrite by creating the lyrics first, then compose the music on piano. Because I’m a slow composer.
But in this case I composed the music first, on guitar, which as I said, I’m teaching myself and I’m new to playing it or working off of it.
Nevertheless I hope you like it.
Well where you think you go
Or you find you stay
The time will come
For the wind will blow
In the bitter cold, and
Your heart will slow
Well, the years seem deep
And the days are sweet
But the night still comes
Can’t wake up…
Yes the dreams are clear
In the lonely air
When you lay it down
Yet a man is through
And his heart is too
When he’s breathed his last
Then his future’s past
See another world
Where your soul’s unfurled
For just another day
What would you like to say?
Doesn’t matter much
What you cannot touch
For the wind will blow
Then can you ever know?
Well, see my friend
First you start, then end,
And if you want to go
Or you wish to stay
Still the time will come
Paul Gauguin, “Portrait of a Young Woman. Vaite (Jeanne) Goupil),” Ordrupgaard, via Wikimedia.
The trouble with writing endings is that endings don’t actually exist. Not really. Instead there simply comes a moment when we stop telling the story.
Knowing when to stop has always been hard for me. In my head, I can’t help but carry the narrative on. What happens to the hero after she defeats the evil king? What happens after the protagonist gets married? What happens to the soldiers who were part of the losing army? What happens to the rest of the universe when the brightest star in a galaxy explodes?
There is always an after. And an after the after. And another after after that.
But the writer still has to stop telling the story at some point.
Where we decide to place the ending changes the meaning of a narrative. Does the tale…
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Boulder, Colorado-based Susie Lindau recently celebrated six years of blogging on Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride, where she publishes on a wide range of topics — from surviving breast cancer to her travel adventures. To make her blogiversary meaningful for others, Susie posted her 18 best blog tips, providing frank, time-tested ideas. Below, you’ll find three that resonated with us.
Write what you are passionate about.
What excites you? I post about the events in my life that rile me up or touch me in some way. I also enjoy reading great stories. Ones that move me to tears or that make me think differently about a subject. Ones that open my heart or make me laugh. There used to be a lot more laughter here in the blogosphere.
How much are you willing to share? I draw lines when considering other people, but anything that happens to me…
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The Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery were books I read in primary school; those thin $6.00 paperbacks (I believe from Bantam Books) with those lovely covers. I remember a couple of adaptations to the screen over the years, most notably the one with actress Megan Follows was probably the most popular among fans. I was therefore thrilled to finally get to see a new version come to a series from CBC, simply called ANNE. Living in Canada, we got to see the series last month before its premiere on Netflix, which was a bonus in its self. 🙂 Having finished watching the first season and hoping it gets renewed for a second, I have to say I’ve found a new favourite in my collection of period dramas. I love the new take on the series, everything from the cinematography, to the cast, and costumes. It’s a…
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As mentioned in my last post, I have a new publication out – an entry in the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, on the Vespasian Psalter, the manuscript now shelved as London, British Library Cotton MS Vespasian A. i. So how better to celebrate this than by dedicating a blogpost to the manuscript – with some images, something which I obviously couldn’t include in the encyclopaedia?
In brief, this manuscript is a copy of the Book of Psalms, originally written in the eighth century probably at Canterbury. In the ninth century, some texts about the psalms were added to the start of the manuscript, and an Old English gloss above the Latin words of the main work. Yet later, in the eleventh century, other prayers and canticles were added to the end of the manuscript.
The Vespasian Psalter is particularly special because the ninth-century gloss…
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We often think of maps as utilitarian tools that help us get from A to B without too many detours. For many a cartophile, however, they’re at once a beautiful object, an inspiration for storytelling and adventure, and the product of incredible craft and care. Here are three stories from the Discover archives exploring the power of maps.
Adrian Daub, “Here at the End of All Things”
Ready for your own domain name, advanced design options, and more? Find the right WordPress.com plan for you.
In his recent Longreads essay, Adrian Daub weaves together the history of fantasy maps — the kind you encounter in Lord of the Rings and the Song of Ice and Fire series — with the personal story of growing up as a map-obsessed Dungeons & Dragons geek in 1980s Germany.
They were all around us growing up, stitched into the texture of adolescence: a…
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ESSAYS ON GAME AND WORLD DESIGN
I had originally intended to write and post all of these essays in the order listed below. But life, hurricanes, a heath problem with my child, work, seminars, my novels, start-up ventures, college (my children going to and entering college), and attempting to get my work published interfered with that intention.
Nevertheless, on the weekends, I have been working on these essays, poco-a-poco, and most are already finished though not yet posted or published. I’m working on that though.
Most of these essays deal with fantasy gaming, role playing in general, and even specifically with Dungeons and Dragons and those types of games.
My overall ambition in writing these essays is to give the game designer, the game master (or DM/GM), and even the player a basic (and hopefully very beneficial) philosophical and design basis for the construction of their own backgrounds, characters, milieus, worlds, and works (from a gaming and design point of view, of course).
However I believe that many of these principles can also be easily and readily applied to the creation of fictional worlds and systems for genre writers of fantasy, science-fiction, horror, and pulp type works. Therefore these essays can also be looked upon as providing the philosophical and structural basis for fictional world design as well.
At present my total number of Essays on Game Design stands at seventeen (17), with most of these having already been written and the rest already sketched out. However this number may very well increase over time. Actually I expect it to, and eventually I expect to collect and publish all of these essays in a book on Game and World Design.
ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN
Essay One: Crawling into Oblivion
Essay Two: To Hell With Balance
Essay Three: Where Has All the Magic Gone?
Essay Four: The Heroic Impulse – Where Have All the Heroes Gone?
Essay Five: The Tomb of Myth
Essay Six: Why the World Exists
Essay Seven: Why the Game Exists
Essay Eight: What is Modern Fantasy Anyway?
Essay Nine: Where Has All the History Gone? On Heirlooms, Legacies, and Inheritances
Essay Ten: U Plus (U+)
Essay Eleven: Luck Be Not Lazy
Essay Twelve: The Blood of Uncanny Monsters: Parts One and Two
Essay Thirteen: Scientifica Magica
Essay Fourteen: The Ability Hoard
Essay Fifteen: The Interactive Essay
Essay Sixteen: Where Have All the High Homes Gone: The Heröon, the Hometown, and the Mansion or Fortified Keep?
Essay Seventeen: Where Have All the Liturgists Gone?
THE ECLIPSE OF THE LIGHTLESS MEN
From the face of the moon do the gods watch the sins
Of the dim absent dreaming in the darkest of men
Do the stars in their orbits, falling to flare
Alight in the cities, or ignite in the air
To illumine the blindness, unruly console
When the blackness eclipses the depths of their souls?
The mirror is silver, the heavens are deep
The eyes of the lightless like death do they sleep
Their tribes all afire, rimmed by the blaze
Yet their hearts are all stone, and their minds all a maze
Where the light cannot shelter, nor sun still abide
No thread to remember, no savior arrives,
For the men who are lightless grow great in their herds
Yet of hope or of Wisdom nothing is heard
An Eclipse of the Silence, the cold and the still
The Furies unfrozen, a debt to fulfill
For the Plague that was promised is spoken again
The Cure long abandoned, a whispering wind,
The masses are metered, each measured alike
For man is as nothing when compassed by night
The Earth is ill-favored, the moon eats her share
The darkness within us escapes to the air –
Though who bothers to repent, or lust for the light
When the lure of the eclipse burns yet so bright?
Encased in our Eclipse who yet occupies
That nature eternal that never can die
Or wonders to wander where darkness is rare
Where men yet make marvels, not terrors declare?
I would I could tell you, I would that I knew
For the lies of the lightless have eclipsed me and you…
My poem commemorating the Solar Eclipse in the year of our Lord, 2017, and the current (and constant) nature of man…
I began it around midnight yesterday and concluded it about 0200 hours today (8/21/17).
#writing #poetry #eclipse
WE’LL WORK ON THAT
The place was dark. Very dark, all things considered. The whole house seemed closed off into small compartments. However there was still light streaming in from a full moon by a window to the right of the room.
Precisely why Steinthal had chosen this night. He knew that because of the full moon his night vision equipment could make good use of the available ambient and residual light and he could operate “in the dark” without giving himself away.
Time to put on my googles he thought.
He heard a small creak.
Instinctively he ducked low but something still hit him from behind and from his left. It had struck the top of his shoulder, the backside of his neck and the base of his skull. It was wide whatever it was. And it had only been a glancing blow but Steinthal saw a flash from the impact, heard a ring in his ear, and stumbled forward a few feet. Then as he caught his balance he ran forward another five or six feet and swirled as fast as he could recover.
Someone stood there. A big someone. Big and dark. If it had growled Steinthal might have taken it for a bear. As it was Steinthal thought it might be even more dangerous.
The thing seemed to just pause there as if considering what to do next. Steinthal’s head cleared completely and he started to make for his gun when the shape charged. It came in close almost instantly and surprised Steinthal, not with a jab or a horizontal swing, but with a ferocious right uppercut. Steinthal barely had time to react but twisted some and got his left arm stiffened and intercepted the shot down low. That took most of the punch out but the guy was still so strong that he lifted Steinthal onto the balls of his feet just from the sheer momentum.
Steinthal counterpunched furiously with his right. Hit the guy solidly on the left side of the front of his neck. It should have rocked the guy on his heels, caused him to splutter and choke. He hadn’t hit the trachea but it still would have stunned most men.
As it was the only two things that seemed to happen as far as Steinthal could tell was that it made a sound like the guy had been hit with a wet fish, and the man stepped back one step. He hadn’t even bent over.
Realizing fully what he was now facing, Steinthal swiftly backtracked three or four feet and grabbed his revolver with his right and his combat knife with his left. He had only glanced down for an instance to retrieve his weapons but when he looked up the guy already had a semiautomatic in one hand and a shiny machete in the other. Where the machete had come from Steinthal had no idea but it did impress him.
The guy was now closer to the moonlight. You could partially make him out. Steinthal decided he wasn’t big after all. He was monstrous. But he didn’t look stupid. No, there was a kind of set to his face and a sort of light in his eyes that Steinthal took for real and raw intelligence. Even more dangerous.
There were several moments of tense silence while they pointed their weapons at each other.
“That kind of hurt for such a little fella,” the big guy suddenly said and spit. There might have been some blood mixed in but it was too dark to tell. “What’s your name?”
“Huh?” Steinthal said.
“I said, ‘what’s your name.’ I don’t like having to repeat myself.”
Steinthal cleared his throat.
“John,” he replied. “But most everyone calls me Steinthal.”
The guy seemed to mull over the answer.
“Yeah, you’re the one,” he said as if mentally verifying a fact-sheet.
“What one?” Steinthal asked.
“The one I’m meant to kill tonight,” the big guy said.
“Well then,” Steinthal said. “You’re one up on me. I usually know nothing about most of the people I kill until it is all over.
“Why is that?” the big guy asked.
“Because they tend to ambush me,” replied Steinthal.
The big guy chuckled quietly.
“Well then, are you going to shoot me?” he asked.
“I’d rather not,” Steinthal said warily. “But at this point anything seems possible.”
Seemingly to spite himself the big guy chuckled again.
“I like you.” The big guy said. “You’re funny.”
“Trust me,” Steinthal said. “I’m not trying to be, but if helps any then let’s just go with that.”
The big guy seemed blithe. “Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to snap your neck, but now I sort of like you.”
Steinthal noticed that despite the relaxed and easy going tone of the man’s voice his aim had remained absolutely fixed and his breathing so steady that he seemed motionless. Even while he spoke.
“Yeah, well,” said Steinthal “We all do what we can.”
The guy laughed again. If not for the circumstances then to Steinthal this would have seemed ridiculous.
When the guy finished laughing he said, “Seems kind of a shame now though.”
“Don’t it,” said Steinthal. “But, you know, the guns and all…”
The big guy looked at Steinthal’s revolver.
“I’ve been shot before you know,” he said. “By a lot bigger and more powerful weapons than that. Never killed me.”
“I’ll bet,” said Steinthal. “But there’s always that first time. And I’m pretty damned determined.”
“Also I’m armored,” said the big guy, as if he hadn’t noticed Steinthal’s reply.
“Thanks for the heads up,” said Steinthal. “Now I know where not to aim.”
There was silence again. But no movement.
“Say,” Steinthal finally said. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the distinct feeling you’re not just playing for time here. Do you get the idea that there might be something else going on with this whole affair that neither of us are quite square on? And that maybe we should skip the strangulations and compare notes about in private?”
More silence. But then the big guy shrugged nonchalantly and holstered his gun. It kind of disappeared entirely into the huge black mound that was his chest. But the machete remained. And the guy had never even shifted his gaze.
“Maybe… Probably… Yes. I’ve had that idea for some time now,” he said. “But I didn’t want to make any snap judgements.”
“Yeah,” Steinthal said. “It’s one of the things I appreciate most about you.”
“People think I’m stupid, you know. Because I’m so big,” the big guy said. With a kind of sad resignation that seemed almost fatalistic.
“Well fella,” said Steinthal. “I’m not most people. And whereas you are stupefyingly big, you are most definitely not stupid.”
The guy chuckled again. Then sighed softly.
“You going to lower your gun now?” the big guy asked.
“I’m thinking about it, but, you know, I’m not exactly stupid either.”
The machete clattered to the floor.
“Very nice. Now can you do that with your hands, arms, and most of the rest of you as well?”
The guy smiled in the dark. And it seemed completely friendly.
“Probably not. I come this way,” he said.
“Alright then. I’ll just take your word for it.” And Steinthal holstered his gun and knife.
“Say,” Steinthal said relaxing a little. “Since you know so much about me what say you tell me your name?”
“You’ll laugh,” the big guy replied.
“Well, if I do, then don’t take it personally. I have an excellent sense of humor.”
“Okay then. It’s Maugham,” said the big guy. “William Somerset Maugham. But my friends call me Angus.”
Steinthal whistled. “Well I’ll be damned. I’ve read all your books!”
“Yeah,” the big guy looked sheepishly at the ground. “My mother was real big on literature.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” Steinthal said. “But say, you’re a lot bigger in person than you look in the papers. Or the history books.”
“Yeah, I hear that a lot. Well, not a lot. Not recently anyway. Most people don’t read anymore.”
“Yeah, that’s a real shame, ain’t it? But that being what it is I’m not calling you Angus or Bill either,” Steinthal said.
“Well then, what are you going to call me?”
“I’m gonna call you Maugham,” said Steinthal. “Because you remind me of W. Somerset Maugham. If, you know, he had been as big as a damned Angus.”
“What say though we get outta here now Maugham?” Steinthal asked. “Before they send in a troll?”
Maugham shrugged. “Okay. I’m game if you are.”
As they were sneaking out Steinthal said, “Say, what you said back there. Is that true?”
“Is what true?” asked Maugham.
“Do you really have friends?”
Maugham stopped in his tracks and seemed to mull over the question quietly in his mind before replying.
“You know, I’m not really sure.”
“Well,” said Steinthal. “The night is still young. We’ll work at it awhile. Then see what we can come up with. One thing’s for sure though.”
“What’s that?” asked Maugham.
“After tonight I owe you one. If you’ll take friendship as payment then I’ll sure call it square.”
(This is the first meeting between Steinthal and Maugham.)
From The Detective Steinthal.
MAN HAS ALWAYS BEEN…
a morally risk averse creature. Men will certainly do what is right and good when physically forced to do so, or for the pursuit of self-interest, or when they feel truly and personally endangered, or because others insist that must be the case (society, the law, those whom they allow to exercise power over them).
But the percentage of men who will do what is right (or even argue for or wish to do what is right) in every circumstance, and no matter the risk, the danger, or the opposition – simply for the sake of doing what is right – is at least as low as that percentage of men who seek to do harm or wrong or evil simply for the sake of doing harm, wrong, or evil.
(And trust me, there are huge numbers of people so naive and sheltered and willfully ignorant about both life and human nature that they cannot even believe that such men exist. Though they most certainly do.)
So to me the real tragedy of the entire history of man, and probably one of the highest real reasons for his need of salvation, is not that the extremely small percentage of men who are consistently dedicated to doing evil are consistently dedicated to doing evil, but rather that there is such an infinitesimally small percentage of men consistently dedicated to doing what is right simply because it is always best to do so.
(My observation for Maundy Thursday.)
Today I leveled Up. Several years ago I began directly applying the various gaming and wargaming techniques I have practiced most of my life directly to my “Real Life,” – to improve my character, nature, abilities, and to help me with my overall human accomplishments.
Lately I have improved that system.
Today I made another Rise in my Accomplishments. Or, put in simplistic gaming terms I leveled up in Real Life.
This is basically my System and how I use it to advance myself (and those around me, like my wife and children).
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: (Rising or Leveling Up)
PROGRESSION – a minor accomplishment such as; making a ten pound increase in weight lifting routine, cutting time off of a sprint, climbing higher, faster, and farther, winning a sparring match (boxing…
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DEMOCRACIES AND THE REAL REPUBLIC
In a democracy (especially a socialistic one) the general idea is that every man ought to be free enough to be able to do precisely as he will any time he chooses, be that for good or for ill.
In a Republic (especially a Christian one) the general principle ought to be that every man should be trained from birth to will himself to do only what is Good, Just, and Wise.
If you don’t understand the difference between these two radically different concepts and modes of governance (the one commanded by mere herds of mortal men, the other of the True Self) then it is probably because you have never been seriously or long trained in what is Good, Just, and Wise, or because you have made such an idolatrous fetish of liberty at all costs that what is Good…
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“…the Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
to reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.”
Most people think that Paradise Lost is first and foremost the tale of the Fall of Man and the loss of his Paradise on Earth.
In Truth Paradise Lost is first and foremost the tale of how Lucifer forever lost Heaven, Earth, Paradise, and eventually even hell to become a mere romantic hero, a fool, a failure, and a ruin of his former Self. All because he mistook license for Liberty, revolt for Responsibility, fervor for Freedom, and wrong for Wisdom.
For the Fall of Man was but a worldly incident of a Fall Unmade by a Better and far more Universal Man.
The Fall from Heaven was a universal…
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For those of you, like me, who are historical novelists.
The idea of a militia – that is, groups of armed citizens that enter military service in time of need – has a long and contentious history in the United States. The idea of what constitutes the militia under the Constitution is has stirred up a lot of debate these past few years, and was reinvigorated by the so-called militia that took over federal land in Oregon in 2016. The topic is fraught with Constitutional, legal, political, and societal issues that go all the way back to the nation’s founding. However, although the issue is complicated, with a little effort we can trace how the fundamental idea of the militia has changed over time to where it exists in State and Federal laws today.
The idea of militia goes back to English traditions beginning with the Assize of Arms in 1181: “He will possess these arms…
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I GOT SAD TODAY
Rarely do I actually get sad. Well, not about myself anyway. But today I got sad about myself.
Oh, on occasion I become melancholy, but I enjoy being melancholy. But I do that primarily for aesthetic reasons (it helps me with creativity) and for personal enjoyment. But I do that intentionally. That is, I intentionally, from time to time, put myself into an intentional state of melancholy.
But rarely do I get sad and only on very, very, very rare occasions do I ever get sad about myself.
Today, however, I got sad. After taking Dorett to pick up her car I stopped by 2nd and Charles and Mr. K’s.
At Mr. K’s I picked up Les Fleurs Du Mal by Baudelaire in English translation. (The Flowers of Evil.) Perhaps my favorite foreign book of poetry read in college. I tried to get it in French to practice my French (I’ve been getting old texts in Latin and Greek and other foreign languages to work on my language mastery) but no such luck.
At 2nd and Charles however I got four CDs – the 36th and 38th symphonies of Mozart, the 6th symphony of Mahler, the 2nd symphony of Enescu, and four symphonic poems of Bax including Tintagel and the Happy Forest.
I was riding home listening to Tintagel (a favorite symphonic poem) when I suddenly thought of all of the symphonies and tone poems and concerti and operas and far lesser musical compositions I have either already sketched out or are in various states of composition and it made me very sad.
For lately I have felt a really pervasive, almost all-pervasive, desire to compose music. (Maybe because it is springtime, I don’t know, or maybe it is just one of those phases that hit me occasionally.) But I know I have no time. Certainly not the time I would need to do the kind of quality compositions I wish to do. For I am a self-taught and slow composer I have great ideas but am slow in execution.
And between my attempting to become a published fiction author, an established poet, a song-writer, seeking funding for my inventions and start-ups, and helping my wife establish her career and getting my kids through college (or into college) I simply have no time for anything else, and often not enough time for any of the things I am already doing. And that saddened me.
As a matter of fact I have come to the conclusion that I may never have enough time to do all that I wish. For their will always be other things that will also demand my time (children, family, friends, grandchildren, etc. and I am not complaining about those things, as they bring me satisfaction and joy, but I acknowledge the truth that they are a drag on my work efforts) and if I live to be one-hundred or more I may still not do all I have assigned myself to do. Or simply wish to do.
And unfortunately, given my current situation, music and art must take a back-seat or go completely ignored for the sake of my other efforts (which are likely to prove far more profitable and important anyway).
(I often, still to this very day, wonder if I did indeed choose the right careers to pursue, and should or will I ever be able to pursue all of the things I so very much desire to pursue. I guess only God knows, as I suspect I may never know. Not, perhaps, in this world anyway.)
But still, if I had the time then I could spend many a day in composing music and drawing and painting things.
I simply do not have the time.
So I don’t.
But if I had the time it would make me quite happy to do so.
Yet because I don’t have the time it makes me sad that I cannot…
A LIST OF SOME OF THE SUBJECTS AND SUBJECT MATTERS I PLAN TO ADDRESS IN MY BOOKS THE CHRISTIAN HERO, THE CHRISTIAN WIZARD, AND THE CHRISTIAN SAINT
These are more general subjects and not specifically geared towards the peculiarities of any of them. I had planned on further developing these today but my wife needs me to take her to the airport today. These are only recent Subject-Matter additions to the books as they are further developed.
And although these books are addressed to the Christian Layman I think that I shall develop a different term for him/her that shall encompass all of the aspects I mean by Layman, such as: worker, disciple, hero, wizard, (lay or common man’s) saint, and skilled spiritual and psychological craftsman.
I shall have to think on the term first of course, and all that it should imply.
REST AND RECOVERY
WORK – beneficial, good, profitable, productive, clean
FORMS OF BENEFICIAL ENTERTAINMENT, RECREATION, AND
HEALTH AND HEALING
RESEARCH AND STUDIES
RELATIONSHIP TO NATURE
GEAR AND EQUIPMENT
CREATING YOUR OWN OBJECTS AND POSSESSIONS
PURSUITS – ARTISTIC, BUSINESS, FINANCIAL, INVESTED, MENTAL, PHYSICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, RELIGIOUS, SCIENTIFIC, SPIRITUAL
TREASURES AND TREASURE HOARDS
ARTEFACTS AND RELICS
PARCHMENTS, SCROLLS, AND WRITINGS
ANCESTORS AND ANTECEDENTS
CHILDREN AND DESCENDANTS
WHO SHOULD TRAIN TO BE A WIZARD, THEURGIST, OR PSIKONIST
EXPLORATION AND VADDING
GRACES, GIFTS, AND TALENTS
ABILITIES, CAPACITIES, CAPABILITIES, AND SKILLS
ATHLETICS, EXERCISE, PHYSICAL CONDITIONING, AND SPORTS
THEURGICAL SPHERES? AND RITUAL ARENAS
AREAS OF BEAUTY AND LIFE
SIN AND SINCERE REPENTANCE
TYPES OF SIN: INTENTIONAL AND UNINTENTIONAL
THE SEVEN STAGES OF REPENTANCE: RECOGNITION, REMORSE, RECOMPENSE and RESTITUTION, RECTIFICATION, RESOLUTION, REPENTANCE, REFORM
CHRISTIAN LOVE (PHILOS AND AGAPE)
FORGIVENESS: GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND MAN’S FORGIVENESS
WHAT CAN THE CHRISTIAN OR CHRISTIAN LAYMAN TRULY DO ABOUT REAL EVIL?
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ON EARTH
THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN AS MISSIONARY
THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN AS INFILTRATOR
THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN AS AMBASSADOR OF CHRIST
THE OPEN WORK AND THE SECRET WORK
POSSIBLE SPECIALISTS (SUB-CLASSES OR SUB-TYPES)? CRUSADER, EXPLORER, ADVENTURER / SAGE, PROTO-SCIENTIST or NATURAL SCIENTIST, PSYCOPHYSICIAN / SEER, COUNSELOR,
HOW THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN’S HOLY VOCATIONS SHOULD RELATE TO HIS PROFESSIONAL AND MUNDANE OCCUPATIONS AND VOCATIONS
APPRENTICES, APPRENTICESHIPS, AND DISCIPLESHIP
THE LORD AS THE GREAT MASTER
PROMOTING THE GOSPEL
CONVERSION AND THE LAYMAN’S PATHS
THE LAYMAN’S WEAL
THE WORLD’S WELFARE
THE PROVIDENCE AND PROVENANCE OF GOD
YOUR PERSONAL CALLING
OCCULT KNOWLEDGE AND GNOSTICISM VERSUS RARE KNOWLEDGE AND RARELY PRACTICED NOESIS
MYSTICISM AND THE MYSTERIES OF GOD
THE SUPERNATURAL AND HOW IT MAY BE DEFINED
ACTION AND ENTERPRISE
MORTALITY AND IMMORTALITY
YOUR LIFE’S WORK (OPAE VITAE)
SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD
DISCIPLES AND FRIENDS OF CHRIST
HOST AND HOME OF THE HOLY GHOST
The greying King his kingdom scanned, grown anxious for an heir;
Did cast about for sons to bless, then felt his daughters’ stare.
‘Are we not children of your blood, the jewels of your eye?
We sew and dance and sing and sew; and watch the kestrels fly’.
Three girls I have, relents the King, but not a single son;
For all the conquered lands I hold, for all my battles won.
Three wives I’ve had (though now all dead), one black, one red, one gold;
A daughter each they bore me. ‘So, which one of you shall hold
The sceptre cursed, the weighty crown, this trap shaped like a throne?
What challenge shall I set for you to make your talents known?’
‘Why, father!’, said the golden-haired, ‘What need for loathsome trials?
In all the land there’s none to match the beauty ‘fore your eyes.’
The black-haired girl sprang to her feet, and smote them with…
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In a semi-recent podcast on Scriptnotes, they once again answer questions from listeners. One question that caught my attention was, “How long should it take your agent to read your script?”. The answer was ultimately one to two weeks, depending on a few different factors (such as your own notoriety and their schedules), however that’s not what peaked my interest. Something that John and Craig mentioned was that the agent doesn’t necessarily need to read your script. This was actually based on your “level” within the industry. For example, when starting out, agents absolutely need to read your script, because they are advocating for, and ultimately selling, you and your script. However, once you have established yourself within the industry, an agent’s role changes slightly. Unless you’re doing something drastically different than and/or uncharacteristic of your previous works, all the agents need to do is act as a mediator…
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So, you’ve written and perfected yourquery; you’ve written and perfected your manuscript; and you’ve sent both along to a variety of literary agents. Then the waiting game began. You were patient (even though it was painful to wait) and finally, an email has arrived in your inbox! You scramble to open it and scan the first few lines…and it’s a rejection.
Maybe this is your first rejection, maybe it’s your fiftieth. Either way, rejection is never easy to deal with and it can hurt a lot to get your hopes up about an agent, just to find out that he or she didn’t feel the same connection to your manuscript.
So how do you cope?
Dealing with Rejection
Those first moments after reading an agent’s rejection email can be rough. Your mind might jump to all the reasons that the agent is wrong…
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Welcome to this month’s “A Favorite Poem” issue in which I present my current favorite poem to you. Granted, it’s almost the end of this month as I’m posting this, but all the same, I hope you’ll like it!
This month’s issue is from Christina Rossetti, a 19th-century British poet who’s especially famous for her poem “Goblin Market,” of which I read back in college as an English literature major. She’s especially known for her romantic works, along with elegant, metered prose which, on the surface level, appears to be simple in message, but is actually more profound than one might imagine. I came across this poem a few weeks back, of which I’ll share with you:
A Triad (Christina Rossetti)
Three sang of love together: one with lips
Crimson, with cheeks and bosom in a glow,
Flushed to the yellow hair and finger tips;
And one there…
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Landscape photography can evoke a broad range of emotions: from the soothing visual rhythms of rolling hills to the drama of stormy seas and sheer cliffsides. Below is a small selection of photos that recently stood out to us — and that represent a much larger community of photographers, travelers, and adventurers who capture beautiful shots every single day.
Created by Danni Claire and Emily Long, two friends from the UK, jiminy magazine is a lifestyle site that focuses on sustainability, local sourcing, and ethical design and travel, with posts on crafts, food, and other related topics. It also features some powerful imagery — like the shot below, from a recent post about a trip to Machu Picchu, the famous Inca citadel in Peru.
Born in the Netherlands and currently living in Napier, South Africa, Herman van Bon explores the poetic…
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THE NECESSARY MAN
Vlachus laughed at his commander and freely drank of the dark wine.
“Spoken as a true soldier. But let me speak as a former farmer and a monk of God. There is much pleasure, my friend, in the creation of new life. That is indeed true. Yet there is an even greater joy in the fostering of it.
Any man may plow the field, and enjoy the swift and sweet sweat of that labor. Yet only the True Husbandman labors long at the profit and the produce of the fruit. Sow where you can commander, but gather where you may. And if you see another field untended and the crops therein languishing to fail then are you not lawfully allowed to step into it that field and harvest what was already planted so that they are wasted not? Indeed, are you not obligated to do so?”
Marsippius looked at Vlachus in consideration of his speech, but then opened his hands as if in supplication or supposition to the priest.
“And what of you?” Marsippius asked. “Are you unfit to reap what others have sown? Are you not also obligated?”
Vlachus handed Marsippius the wineskin. Marsippius immediately noticed how much emptier it seemed. Then Vlachus wiped his mouth upon his long decorated sleeve, rubbed his hands briskly together, placed them closer to the fire and glanced admiringly upwards at the bright alien stars. Finally he looked back across the flames and drifting smoke at his friend.
“Oh, I am certainly fit to reap and even still to sow,” Vlachus said, his long untended beard casting weird shadows in the firelight and making his face seem momentarily made more of ethereal questions than earthly answers. “Nevertheless I am a monk. I would make a far better grandfather I think than a sire. This child though needs a father. A real father, truly known and knowing. You are an excellent, if sometimes uneven commander of men, Marsippius Nicea. Furthermore I suspect that you are already a fine father as well. And would be so again if necessary. The question you must ask yourself is this: are you now the necessary man?”
Marsippius sighed and rubbed his scarred sword hand through his now lengthening hair. Vlachus’ gaze seemed to him extraordinarily bright and perceptive in the uneven light of the struggling fire.
“You are also, I have seen, an unfailingly honest man,” Vlachus said. “So, if I have spoken in error of you then correct me now.”
Marsippius studied the monk’s face for a long while, and then his gaze fell back into the fire. He would not say what he saw there, and he did not answer his friend.
Vlachus of Armenia (The Myrelaion Monk) to Marsippius Nicea, Commander of the Basilegate
From the Kithariune
This (concept, idea) actually occurred to me as a dream this morning right before I woke. It will now go into my various novels about Iÿarlðma (the Kithariune).
To be used as a plot device.
And it will likely go into my various games and role play games (in modified form, of course) to also be used as a plot device.
KELBRAE, KELBRURAE, and KELBRAE-ILAR
Kelbrae is a certain type of secret writing used in Iÿarlðma that is usually inscribed upon parchment in Eldeven ideographic or pictographic symbols (and far more rarely in Elturgical glyphs) though theoretically it can be inscribed on almost anything. It usually consists of raised letters or symbols not unlike a pictographic form of human braille. However by running one’s hand over the Kelbraec script pictures or symbols or ideas are transmitted directly to the mind of the “reader” rather than “reading Kelbrae” being a process of touch interpretation of letter or word symbols, as with braille. Kelbrae is usually written in an open or visible script (rather than in Elturgical glyphs) though it is still Elturgical in nature and therefore only the intended recipient or reader can usually “read” or interpret it. Others who attempt to read it either envision nothing in the chamber of their mind or sometimes they receive false or confused notions of the real message contained in the script.
If the message is important enough the Kelbraec script can be written in Elturgical glyphs which are rendered invisible or camouflaged from anyone other than the intended recipient of the true message. Kelbrae constructed in this way can be usually be placed onto almost any object or item and can even be written in such a way as to fade away entirely or even to destroy or dissolve the object onto which it has been placed once it is successfully deciphered or the message successfully transmitted to the proper recipient. Kelbrae formed in this way are called Kelbrurae.
There is a final known form of Kelbrae called Kelbrae-Ilar. Kelbrae-ilar is typically constructed and written in such a way as to transmit a deception or falsehood even to the intended recipient or reader. It is designed specifically as a trick, a delusion (sometimes as an actual illusion), or as a form of trap. As a trap the Kelbrae-ilar will sometimes not only convey false information but may also confuse or erase the memory of the reader, convince the reader a false message must be true, render the reader temporally paranoid, sicken or disease the reader, curse the reader, or the message or object upon which it is written may even catch fire or explode. Ilar means, variously, to malign, a secret, to blacken, or a thorn.
BECAUSE A REAL DICK NEEDS PROOF
(A Genteel Homage to our Chief Dick)
Our Comey said homey there’s nothing to see
We just said what you said by not listening to thee
Cause the fact of the matter is the case is still up
But we can’t tell you why, or why not to trust
That we never did do what you think that we did
Though we couldn’t have done so less heaven forbid
We did as we didn’t or didn’t to do
Whatever you think that we’re saying of you
Thus we haven’t and never would do any less
Lessen whatever you didn’t we release to the press
So say what you will but we’ll say to you all
It couldn’t have happened, not ever at all…
It did but it didn’t when we listened to it
But cannot confirm, we submit to admit
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Coincidentally (if you believe in that kinda thing) I happened to be listening to a set of lectures today on Shakespeare by Harold Bloom at Yale.
His topic? – the play Julius Caesar.
Twitter reminded me of this beautiful poetic piece by Shakespeare from Julius Caesar.
Antony speaks over Caesar’s body
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,—
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue—
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
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OLD MAN FUNNY
Maugham laughed at the smartass remark, and then said, “Man, I wish I were as naturally funny as you.”
“Natural, hell,” Steinthal answered shaking his head. “My old man bred it into me. Nothing natural about that.”
Maugham looked at his friend quizzically.
“Seems like to me,” Maugham said almost reprovingly. “That there is everything natural about that.”
Steinthal looked at his friend as if considering what he had said.
“Yeah, you got a point I guess,” Steinthal replied. “But you’d just have to know my old man. He bred funny.”
from The Detective Steinthal
I posted these doodles on the goingtoast.com cartoon blog also. I had fun doing this with no preliminary pencil sketch, just letting it fly. I’m thinking that this could turn into a series incorporating some of the characters from the blog, perhaps following one of them on a journey. Let’s see if this doesn’t turn into another always ongoing unfinished project! Colour would be great too…
If you liked this, here’s more: https://chrisfraseronline.wordpress.com/category/illustration/
What is happiness?
My happiness comes in little poems,
Like the eye of the hurricane:
The moment of rest after one chaotic lifetime
And the next.
I’ve spent time hanging
On to every moment,
Capturing what I wanted to be my own.
They told me, “To find true Joy
Follow Christ on the difficult road that leads
It is not easy, but it is the way
To Truth and Life.
I have sought happiness of my own strength
And have found myself wanting.
I have tangled webs so thick that
I am scared to break them.
I am the one thing between myself and Joy;
Me and my selfish mind
Which wants to run everything for itself.
There is a happiness which is beyond
To the mind,
Which is why I could not grasp it.
It is the happiness of the one
Who seeks God and…
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This gives me an interesting idea for both a science fiction story and an element to add to my fantasy novel…
No, Antarctica isn’t busting out the green beer for St. Patrick’s Day. But a new satellite image of the continent shows strange green ice floating in the Ross Sea.
The green-tinged ice is probably the work of phytoplankton, marine glaciologist Jan Lieser of Australia’s Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center told NASA’s Earth Observatory, which released the image yesterday (March 9).
Photosynthetic plankton called phytoplankton (and…
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This interests me for purely archaeological, cultural, and historical reasons, but it also goes to show that in gaming and in writing fiction, authors and creators (and modern people in general) often overlook the near ubiquitous artwork and coloring that often existed in many Medieval and certainly a great many Ancient urban centers.
The answer seems self-evident to me if you think on it awhile. Lacking things like cinema and film and television, etc. then what would be your source of visual and imaginary stimulation in a world devoid of such things? Indeed, what would be your method of advertising your skill and craft and wealth compared to that of a neighbor or competitor? How would you communicate with foreigners? How would you establish yourself even after death?
Impressed everywhere you could impress it as strikingly colorful and vibrant as you could make it.
I don’t think…
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Recently I have been re-reading the classics. Like I, Robot.
After having re-read the book I soon realized that I too had, over the years, discovered at least two of the (lost) Laws of Robotic Devices.
The Lost Law of Robotic Devices:
“No computer, file, or robot shall function, or allow any function whatsoever to operate as normal, without at least one full reboot. Upon reboot no computer, file, or robot shall fail to function normally or through omission allow a user to come to harm through failed function. Normal biological functions, such as heart attacks triggered by ignorance of this law, are not covered by the workings of this law.”
Second Lost Law of Robotics:
“No computer, file, or robot will ever fail or will ever need to be maintained, serviced, or backed-up until a moment of absolute and optimal disaster and/or complete failure for the end-user at…
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