Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Only Hurts When I Listen To Insensitive Comments.

You should try working for a living. That one single phrase stands out from my entire day to jab at me like a thick barb looming in my shoe. A day that I can only describe as a whirlwind. Let's review, shall we?

3:00 a.m. - After wrestling Ashes to bed only 3-4 hours prior I am greeted by a wide awake incarnation of said child who proceeds to eat repeatedly.

6:00 a.m. Everyone else rouses to ready themselves for school while my wife and I prepare to venture forth with Ashes for our weekly grocery trip with my Dad and Sister. This is of course after getting my other 3 children on the bus for school.

7:15 a.m. We leave for town.

10:00 a.m. After nearly 3 hours, various stops and Tetris-fu loading of groceries, we return home in time to unload our portion of food etc. In so doing, I must confess I did manage to somehow injure myself. I do not know with any certainty what I did, but I do have some discomfort in my chest now when moving certain ways, coughing, hiccups, etc. Go ahead, laugh, I readily admit the inherent humor.

Rushing, I endeavored to get all our cold stuff stowed away, which of course meant rearranging and removing some other stuff.

11:00 a.m. I Paused to try and get Ashes down for a nap, as she clearly displayed her usual hallmarks of tiredness. While I was preoccupied, Teal went down to get Bryn off the bus and feed him lunch.

12:30 p.m. Trying again to get Ashes down for a nap I am proven victorious.

1:00 p.m. My Dad and I leave to drive 30-45 minutes to go pick up my prescription and then 30-45 minutes back to get it filled and return home.

3:00 p.m. I return home setting myself to taking out the trash, doing dishes and some general clean up.

It is now 6:00 p.m., the kids are fed, and I have bathed the younger three. It seems almost surreal to only just now be opening my little netbook, only to realize this is the first real moment I have had to even reflect on anything.  And yet, even now I have midgets I keep having to juggle, referee, motivate and monitor.

Don't get me wrong, I still recall the exhaustion of brutal labor and long hours. I will never begrudge any hard working soul the right to hold their head in pride for their efforts. But I can't help but shake my head at the notion that raising 4 kids, not to mention my own daily struggles means I don't do anything. I don't claim to do back-breaking work anymore, I can appreciate the difference in type of work as well. But at the end of the day, when some people only have an empty house and perhaps a few pets waiting on them; you may work for a living. However, you should try raising a family, before you judge.

Sorry, even leaving out a lot of little things, my day has been crazy. Apologies for the rant. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

From The Top Shelf - Part 2.

*Sigh* Sometimes I think the various cosmic forces that be have conspired to grant Cthulhu dominion over weekends. I'm not quite sure how it happens, but it seems various events of late keep managing to short-circuit my brain and all possible self-imposed plans. Alas, I digress; let me continue as I proposed to do.

The Coldfire Trilogy by: C.S. Freidman

Much to my own shame and regret the first book of this series lingered on my shelves for a rather lengthy period before I gave it the chance it so richly deserved. As I recall a boyfriend to my older sister left the book with me, hoping no doubt to curry favor I am sure. Sadly I was somewhat hesitant at it's value and it's proposed plot. Coupled with a recently acquired fresh pile of my own additions to my shelves(and perhaps some resentment at the gifts motivations) soon proved to be too much for even common etiquette.

Fortunately, as is often for me, I exhausted my ample supply of new material and once more found the book fresh in my sights. Instantly all doubts were cast aside as I began to read the little beginning glimpse into an event that would prove to shackle me with fascination for one of the two most central figures. A fact I don't deny has shaped various plots and characters for a variety of my own rpg sessions. One I must add has led to many others unfamiliar with it's source to comment on the memorable figure as one of their favorites.

With that said, let's discuss a central element to the whole series, the very foundation of which so many great elements culminate in a wondrous and rich environment. The story takes place on a little planet called Erna, one very akin to earth. About 1200 years ago a colonization ship landed upon the alien world and it's passengers found a new home. Unfortunately some unique characteristics to Erna would prove difficult and puzzling challenges. Namely that of the Fae; a natural force on Erna, one that reacts to the subconscious and is capable of shaping the very fabric of Erna itself.

In a desperate bid to find a way to survive, the colonists sacrifice their technology and all ties to their past. Leaving various moments of curiosity within the story where characters muse over cd's as vast records like books, but with no idea how to read such a thing. However the sacrifice is not without benefit, as the colonists slowly learn to shape some of the very fae of Erna to their own benefit. The end result is a unique and complex system that presents an almost scientific and natural view on something akin to magic.

The greatest strength though in the whole series, and the most enjoyable aspect lies in it's two main characters. Each begins as the anti-thesis for the other and proves as the story unfolds to shape each other just as one might manipulate the fae. Intricate ideals and dogma are touched on and handled masterfully in the books that I found to be a never ending source of fascination and interest.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From The Top Shelf...

For as far back as I can recall it has often been said of me that I am a somewhat picky man in nature. When it comes to almost any topic you'll often find that my tastes are never exactly what are expected. And when it comes to literature, well, let's just say that I've never been able to just pick up the latest best seller and enjoy my weekend. I take my book hunting very seriously, as it is a major source of pleasure for me. One that unfortunately grows ever more difficult with regard to discovering new material worthy of my bookshelf.

At a glance my bookshelf, or at least my primary one(yes, I do have just that many  books), may look like any other bookshelf to the casual eye. But to me, and perhaps the other half of my brain, there is a subtle yet complex system organizing it. Long story short - anything that comes from my top shelf is literary treasure the likes of which I value as if they were priceless artifacts.

Each and every one of them have earned a special place with me, not to mention being responsible for shaping me in a myriad of ways. I thought I might share some of my top shelf, along with some of my own thoughts on them. But, since I've never quite been able to pick favorites or declare a top 10(there are perhaps 43+ titles littering that shelf), I figure I'll just list the contents and go from there. So, without further adieu, let's see what gems await, shall we?

Where to begin... Perhaps with a book I am currently re-reading, one that has proven over the years to be only one of a meager few to bear that claim.

Twilight of the Empire by: Simon R. Green
I found this book some 14 years ago or so, at a k-mart shelf, and immediately it's pages just tugged at my fingertips. In many ways I think it has helped shape my own writing and some concepts that ended up weaving themselves into other projects I have developed. Granted, I am sure a good deal of other readers out there will cite various plot elements and character cliche's as flaws in the book, but this is generally a matter of taste. Now I won't readily deny that some aspects of the book aren't predictable, recurring or lacking originality, but  therein lies one of it's appeals.

The book is a collection of 3 novella's, each one separate but connected to a setting that has come to be known as the Deathstalker Universe. Each story details a set world and group of characters, always returning to their relation to the Empire. Within every tale you learn little facts that you come to expect in the next. For example: Disruptors are vicious and deadly guns that can burn a beam of energy through almost anything but at the cost of a recharge time in between shots. And as is often reminded; it's wiser not to rely on them on their own - as a lot can happen in two minutes.

For me, each of the three worlds were fascinating in their rich detail and description. Green paints a vivid scene and all his characters have memorable traits and qualities that endear themselves to you. Of all three worlds I have to admit I adore Mistworld and Ghostworld the best. Hellworld is a very interesting scenario in it's own right, complete with some very memorable characters. It's only stumbling point for me is an awkward alien antagonistic entity that dubiously lends itself to what I might imagine a really bad acid trip might encompass.

Green does a impeccable job blending a science fiction tale that sweeps countless worlds with wondrous marvels of technology with the gritty determination and drive of fantasy. In the book it isn't just some awkward element when characters draw blades or start tossing daggers, it flows effortlessly along side the blast of disruptors and the hum of energy shields. It just works, in point of fact. And it does so in such a way that it isn't overly complicated with over-abundant trappings of  technology and detailed descriptions that confuse or confound. The whole of the work is just simple, straight-forward fun to loose yourself in.

Well, there is one down. Keep an eye out and I think I'll try and continue this little theme. We'll see what tomorrow holds, shall we?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Briar Patch - Part 1.

Set against the back drop of silent stars and empty space, light glinted along the hull of the Othinn as if it was the rippling of gentle waves. There was no mistaking it's presence as it glided through the void. No one could misinterpret it's intent or it's purpose. Like the motto of it's crew, the Othinn was every bit the embodiment of "the spear's tip." And like the tip of a spear, the Othinn is more than just a weapon, and therein lies it's strength.

Lost in a torrent of thought and memory, Lance Corporal Warren Blake reclined in his quarters, officers manual in hand. Recollection paraded his career before his mind's-eye, highlighting every past opportunity for advancement as he passed in shadow. Not once had he ever even managed to stand out as anything more or less than average. 

"Oh, what am I thinking," Blake sighed. "I'm not cut out to lead anyone," he informed himself as if quoting from an official performance evaluation. To reinforce the point he reminded himself that with a promotion came some measure of spotlight; responsibility he could handle, standing in the spotlight had always terrified him.  Taking an order he could handle, without question, it was giving them that was an issue. More to the point, it was the idea that he was worth obeying.

As Warren Blake contemplated his own self worth, a simple flick of the wrist sent the manual from his hand to come to rest with a thud upon the floor. Unknown to anyone a similar thud was mirrored elsewhere on the ship, an event that fate alone marked, as a stack of papers were dropped beside Captain Jason Taggert. A grim figure in his own right, Taggert was a veteran of both the Rim Wars and the expedition to seek out the Vel-Teh. His gaze never wavered as he studied not the various screens and displays of data, but instead the view of space outside his ship.

Nervously, a mousey voice broke the quiet of the moment: "new orders from fleet, sir." Taggert could almost feel a sense of omen in the words, a slight shift in the tides as it were. With closed eyes and a silent prayer upon his lips, Captain Taggert turned his gaze to the waiting orders. "Very well then, let's see what awaits us this time."