Sunday, August 11, 2019

Quick Thought: United States of Rome

As a boy, I believed that the United States of America was eternal. In fact, it seemed such a permanent thing that I didn’t really give it much thought, only grew into adulthood in the secure feeling of stability a world superpower provides. As a middle-aged man, faced with current events, my mind wanders to ancient Rome, and boys and young men who grew into their adulthood in one of the greatest, most powerful civilizations to ever grace the planet, and how permanent it must have felt. How their home managed to survive as their republic was taken away, to be replaced by the Tiberiuses, Caligulas, Neroes, and Commoduses. And yet, still the great empire endured—until it didn’t. 
Unfortunately, our civilization, that began as an experiment in democratic republican government, is not eternal. There is no inevitability to our success and future. Like all worthwhile endeavors, it must be earned, renewed, and sacrificed for. We cannot allow people to exploit the freedoms our government and constitution provide for greed, power, hate, and misguided individualism. 
"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it."
-John Adams

Friday, July 5, 2019

London's Calling

Checking in—this time with a bit more than the usual books and tv.  I made it over the Atlantic to London in addition to what I've been reading and playing, so I have some pictures for this post.



I thoroughly enjoyed the city that I can best describe, no offense meant by the disparity in historical ages, as an amalgamation of New York and Washington D.C.  Due to rebuilding after the bombing in World War II, London has a very modern city vibe, skyscrapers and all, with that financial, busy people doing business things energy.   At the same time, there are scores of tourists crowding the streets and around every corner is a monument, statue, or building that speaks to the city's place as a capital and the United Kingdom's storied and lengthy history as an Empire, Kingdom, and nation.

I had the Rick Steeve's book for London and he mentioned that for Americans traveling to London, and England in general, there is a sense of the familiar, almost a coming home.  I can definitely relate.  Despite some obvious differences, plenty for those like myself who relish the cultural nuances experienced when traveling, there is a great deal of comfort and ease about traveling in London.  There is of course a shared language, but it goes beyond that.  For many Americans, England provides our roots, not only in heritage, but in the formation of our country, its laws, and certainly in our culture.  In addition, I have seen London so many times on big and small screens, read about it through 56 Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and heard about it in history books, the whole trip had a visiting relatives feel about it.


Saturday, June 1, 2019

And Summer is Knocking

June is upon us: the end of school, outdoor pools have opened, heat has arrived, and I, like many, am reminded that I'm on the wrong end of getting in shape.

Anyway, been a couple weeks and I thought I check in.

Reading


I'm going to start here because in addition to finishing Mythos, I also read Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Landsing, and the later turned out to be one of the best books I've ever read—certainly one of the best non-fiction.  Not to take anything away from Mythos.  If you enjoy the Greek myths, it really was a terrific way to hear the stories of the God and Titans and Stephen Fry is as witty and funny as always.  Despite showing a remarkable knowledge of the subject, his book is very accessible.

As for Endurance, if you don't already know about Shackleton's Voyage to Antartica, don't look it up.  Just buy Endurance and start reading.  You will be riveted by what is not only fantastic writing—the whole book reads like the best of adventure fiction—but by the thoroughly researched true story.  Tears welled up in my eyes at the end and I am not, by nature, a crier.

Currently, I'm onto fiction and at the suggestion of my best of friends (the same friend that introduced me to Joe Abercrombie) I am reading Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

Television

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Check In

In order to make it easier for me to stay in touch, I thought I would borrow a bit from some other other authors and just try and write a bullet style check in once a week.  That way, if you are at all interested, we can stay a bit more connected even if I don't necessarily have something particularly insightful to say or perhaps, I'm busy doing other things and don't feel like I have the time to write a blog post.  This takes away many, if not any, excuses.  Feel free to contact me and gripe up a storm if I don't follow through.  Please.  There is nothing like fan driven pressure.

Without further ado, let the bullets begin:


Writing:
Currently I have three ideas in various stages of conception—I say conception because none of them have risen to draft status as yet.  One is a new young adult trilogy and the other two are not.  Of the adult books, one is contemporary, the other fantasy more along the Abercrombie/Martin line.

As to Scarlet, I am at the mercy of the publishing world at the moment.  Both book four, The Barrier's Fall and book five The Shattered Throne are written, however both are still in editing and post production.

Television:
Like most of the world I currently have Westeros taking up a great deal of headspace in my monkey brain.  While I very much wished I could have waited for the books to finish, the HBO series is just too compelling and I am weak.  Like you, I await the conclusion this coming Sunday with great anticipation and bit of sadness.  Hopefully, someday soon, the Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring will fill the void.

My wife and I are currently binge watching—for us that is the same show, one episode a night—West World.  At this stage, I'm fascinated, but impatient.  Verdict is still out.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Our Modern Myths: 10 Years with the MCU

I have held off posting this, or writing it really, until enough weeks had passed that I was hopeful my musings wouldn't spoil anything for those who have yet to see Avengers: Endgame.  That said, I have no intentions of purposefully spoiling anything, but I might end up strongly hinting and you are smart people.  So, if you haven't seen it, and hope to still be surprised, come back later.

On its opening weekend my daughter and I went to see Avengers: Endgame with quite grand expectations.  A little over three hours, some tears, shouts of joy, and an overwhelming feeling of triumph later, my expectations were exceeded.  This film was brilliantly done and viscerally satisfying.  In the grandest of spectacle and with the most intimate of emotion, 10 years of movie making magic culminated on screen and I was enthralled.

So, it's pretty obvious that I am a fan.  I have been since the moment Robert Downy Jr. first walked on screen in Ironman—and while it is certainly true that one of the major reasons for my being a fan is that over the years these movies have entertained me, I think it goes a bit deeper than that.  You see, I am of the opinion that these comic book movies and the comics from which they were conceived, amount to our modern day myths and legends.  What is amazing about this statement, which I fully accept is not a novel concept, is that we get to witness our legends and myths in a way ancient people could have never conceived.  For us, these character move beyond the grand oral traditions, even beyond the printed word and become fully realized versions first in brilliant art work in the pages of comics and now, 52 feet tall on a silver screen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mr. Dickens

I am astonished, ashamed, and (self)admonished when I see the date of my last post.  I can only blame a combination of life, laziness, and a litany of other excuses that mean little to you, the reader, and will no more excuse my lack of contact than change the date.  I am sorry.  I will strive to do better.  That being said, we are here to speak of Dickens:

How is it, calling myself an author and a lover of books, I have just begun my love affair with Mr. Dickens?  Sure, I was asked to read a Tale of Two Cities in high school, and yes, I skimmed through the lofty pages of expert prose in order to draw only what was vital to regurgitate good marks and participate in class discussion.  Back then I was a great appreciator of plot over all things, including language and character, and as a result, I missed out on much that I still find myself discovering late in life (admittedly in some cases, I did not miss much).  Now—I always had a great affinity for Charles Dickens owing to adaptations of A Christmas Carol that still rank as welcomed mandatory holiday viewing, first in my childhood home and now in the home I share with my wife and daughters, but a twist comes to this holiday season and we have David Copperfield to thank.

Needing an new audiobook to fill the doldrums