Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cyber Monday Book Discounts!

Whelp, I decided to jump on the bandwagon of Cyber Monday, the sequel to the horror-movie sounding capitalist holiday Black Friday, which sounds like a zombie movie, and offer my humble books at major discounts for all of you!

My novellas will be cut down to a mere one dollar apiece whilst my giant novel Kapar's Mark, my latest and greatest, will be knocked down to three dollars. So if you want some epic rip-roaring adventures between man and beast, facing the unknown and exploring the fantastic, then follow the link below and treat yourself and others to literary spectacles following in the honorable footsteps of the wondrous pulp genre of lost worlds and strange beasts!

And to those of you who have read my books or buy them in the future, I would like to thank you now. I am grateful beyond the description of words. Every page read, every kind word, every purchase helps me on my journey of becoming better and becoming independent.
Every purchase, review and recommendation helps like you wouldn't believe. If you like what you read, I implore you to leave a review and recommend it to fellow friends and family. Heck, recommend them to your enemies too! A writer is nothing without readers, and I consider each one to be precious.

Thank all of you for reading this. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas and overall awesome set of winter months. Try not to get run over on Black Friday and spread some joy to others!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Frontier: The Amur River

The American West wasn't the only frontier, just the most famous. In reality the breadth and scope of frontiers throughout history are infinitely more expansive and yet all contain that same flavor of chaos that we all recognize in the Old West.

And recently a new one which had heretofore escaped my attention has been brought to light. And what's more, it is new for almost everyone! Released just this March a gentleman by the name of Victor Zatsepine, we are granted a spectacular glimpse of a heretofore little known frontier region known as the Amur River and its many tributaries which flowed between Eastern Russia and Northern China. It was a wild and sparsely populated area with radical geography and rapidly shifting waterways which defied the expansion of two empires for centuries.

To those familiar with such frontier areas, it has many familiar traits: Bandits on the run from the law, hunters and trappers eking out a living off of the furs of local animals, tiny settlements struggling to survive brutal conditions, native peoples intermingling with strange interlopers and new cultures emerging from the fantastic circumstances of the territory.

This stuff is frontiersman cocaine. In this book I found another entire plane opened to me in the Wild East! Russian Cossacks competing with Chinese migrants, two empires struggling to secure territory amidst icy winters and barbaric terrain. What more could one wish for? Any student of history, territorial expansion, evolution of culture and the frontier will find this book most rewarding.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Joaquim Guato The Tigrero

The Amazon has never been short on figures of myth and legend. In fact the frontier history of the Amazon basin and its surrounding territory mirrored the Wild West of its northern cousin well into the twentieth century. Droves of cattle wandered through water-choked swamps and rivers while pursued by vaqueros armed with revolvers, Winchesters and machetes, serving their own cattle barons as they hacked through smothering jungle. Men of all varieties panned for diamonds in the rivers and fields that stretched for innumerable miles of wild jungle, much like the gold-panners of American southwest. And of course the gunslingers were in no short abundance. Life was wild, blood was spilled freely and danger was never in short supply.

But the cattle barons of Brazil faced an additional enemy in addition to wild natives, rustlers and disease: Jaguars, or tigres, as the Brazilians called them. An average tigre easily outweighed even the largest of pumas, regularly reaching three hundred pounds of rippling muscle, and some reaching four hundred pounds, landing the cats in the same realm as African lions. Although they never achieved the man-eater status of lions, Indian tigers or leopards of the Old World, for reasons I can't fathom, they were never the less impressive predators that could disembowel any man or dog that sought their dappled pelts, or crunch the vertebrae of the largest steer they crossed paths with.

And unlike the grassy veldts of Africa where one might hope to hit a lion at a hundred yards or more should one spot a patch of tawny hide, tigres concealed themselves in the green mazes and morasses of the jungles and swamps, where they might hide within mere feet of a hunter without being spotted.

Its not difficult to see that hunting a tigre, or jaguar, even under good circumstances with a good rifle would prove difficult.

And it is here that we come to the subject of this article, an exceptionally rare man who not only made a living out of hunting the deadly tigre on its own terms, but did so with naught but a handful of good dogs and a spear!

Joaquim Guato was a pure-blooded Indian of the Amazonian interior, predictably of the Guato Indians. All we know comes from who would become his student, a Lithuanian emigrant who traveled to the steaming jungles in search of diamonds and more importantly adventure, a gentleman by the name of Sasha Siemel, who has thankfully listed much of his activities in books that survive to this day. However, Senor Siemel is not the subject of this article, but his esteemed teacher.

Joaquim was not just a casual hunter of tigres, but pursued them with such deft skill and precision as to defy the belief of ignorant civilized man. He was of an extraordinarily rare breed of men known in the jungles as a "tigrero", a man who specialized in hunting the beasts with only a zagaya, a six foot long spear with a broad head of pounded iron and cross bar to prevent the feline from wiggling its way down the shaft and to the hapless wielder, not terribly unlike a boar spear.

Sasha had heard of the mysterious hunter from a number of people, and found himself hopelessly fixated with seeing if the tales were true. After a great deal of travel and searching the European found his hut, and with grand anticipation called upon the occupant. Joaquim was not what he was expecting. A tiny man of indeterminate age, likely sixty years or older, and tottering from enough booze to land him on the verge of alcohol poisoning. The tigrero was distraught at the audacity that a nearby Dom had offered him simple money in exchange for his prized hunting dog, Dragao.

That Joaquim loved his ruddy pooch was evident from his unmasked affection, going so far to kiss the mongrel in front of his guests. Senhor Siemel at this point was unsure what to make of the little man, but accepted an offer to join him on a hunt the next day. Siemel doubted the little man could sober up in a week, let alone under 24 hours. However it became evident that Joaquim had a liver of cast iron, for the next morning he was as fresh as could be, ready with his proud spear and dog. His method at first seemed simple: Go to where cats were likely to be about, let his dog Dragao pick up the trail and lead them to the puma or tigre, and spear it.

It is worth noting that Siemel, while not tall, was extremely strong and physically fit. Although under six feet and had the appearance of a professor, he became well known for his feats of strength, toppling two men of immense physical stature and power in boxing and wrestling, nor was he a stranger to long walks and enduring the elements. But as they set off through the early morning jungle he found himself lagging embarrassingly behind as the little Indian set a straining pace, seeming to glide through the foliage as if it were mere fog, appearing to be immune to fatigue whilst the European panted for breath and was basted in sweat.

Siemel was understandably astounded by the little man's endurance and frequently lost sight of him. For more than an hour the three followed the trail of a wily mountain lion until at last they found it at bay in a tree, Dragao snarling and glancing impatiently at his human companions who seemed to delay. Siemel wished to have a picture, but as he unfastened his camera he was stricken with the change that seized Joaquim: Although relaxed he was alert and prepared, soaking up his every surrounding with wilderness-carved instinct, but focused absolutely on the cat in the tree. It is difficult to convey they all-encompassing sense of comprehension and concentration the little Indian exhibited, sensing everything around him and yet not relaxing his focus for a moment. For as Siemel would learn, to be distracted for even the shortest time when spear hunting the great cats would spell death.

After securing a picture Joaquim gestured for him to shoot the puma, and as he aimed his Winchester the cat leapt from the tree. In a flash three figures moved: The cat, Dragao jumping for its throat, and Joaquim lunging with his spear at the cat. All three met at the same time. The tragic result was poor Dragao being mortally wounded even as the cat was slain. Although the Guato offered no tears or words, the expression on his face as he embraced his dying companion gave voice to his anguish greater than anything else ever could.

One might suppose that this would mark the end of his hunting career, for hunters and their canine companions are truly inseparable, and often hunting loses its charm after one has passed. The sting of grief is invariably cruel. But to Siemel's surprise Joaquim showed up the next morning with two other dogs. Although neither was an equal to Dragao, for there could only ever be one of his caliber, both new dogs were exceptional hunters. Siemel was touched by the old man's generosity, and found he had made a positive impression on him. What money could not buy, his efforts and friendship had earned, and gained his own hunting companion named Valente.

Months later they once more set out on the trail, this time bound for a tigre. Honed by countless hours hunting Joaquim dazzled the experienced Siemel with his unerring knack for finding the correct trail out of the confusing morass of leaves and mud, able to read sign as if it were spelled in plain lettering, what sort of cat it was that he was following, how long ago it had passed, what mood it was in, and almost anything else he could wish to know. So sure was his jungle sense that he seemed absolutely at home in the green nightmare. The dogs were equally excited as their masters, taut muscles quivering with anticipation.

After a chase, listening to the dogs bark and howl in the distance, the two broke upon them, the quartet of dogs growling at a copse of palms, the tigre unseen, hidden like a viper amongst a bed of dried leaves. Joaquim boldly approached, the tigre growling angrily, swiping at one daring dog and then another as they darted in with chastising snaps and barks.

It was in this arena of nature that Siemel finally saw the tigrero truly at work. The little man held his spear level with the ground, held firmly in his iron-thewed hands, eyes locked on the gold and onyx dappled cat which glared at him from the shade of the foliage, watching, waiting. It was here that the true game started, for one does not throw a zagaya at a tigre, nor does one simply prod him and hope that he conveniently bleeds to death. Joaquim had learned that one must goad a tigre into charging, and it is at that moment that a tigrero must read the cat's body language perfectly to anticipate what he will do in the fraction of a second before he makes contact. Will he rush and come in low, sweeping up at the legs? Or will he leap into the air and pile onto the hunter, rending and tearing with teeth and claws? The tigrero must understand which will come and then deliver the spear thrust. Misjudging the movements would swiftly result in a singularly messy death, looking not unlike a meat-stuffed pinata torn apart by half-starved pit bulls.

As the Indian settled into his stance, spear tucked firmly at his hip where he could throw his full weight into the thrust, he kicked a clod of earth into the tigre's face! Although animals rarely understand insult as we humans do, the tigre understood this one all too clearly. No longer did it heed the snapping dogs. It was out for the blood of this human who had dared antagonize it. It snarled and shook itself, working into a rage, until it was again taunted by a swift prick of the spear. A second prod and the cat moved, three hundred pounds of angry feline muscle launching at a man well under six feet and less than half of its weight, armed only with a spear.

Suddenly the iron head was buried in the cat's neck, the animal roaring and flailing almost in the air, tearing at the little man. It was a fantastic tangle of golden limbs flailing wildly in an attempt to rend the Indian to ribbons of gore, and yet impossibly Joaquim held the massive cat at bay, able to keep it just barely out of reach although it looked as if it were on top of him. Somehow he held back the terrific weight and fury of the animal until it yielded to his blade, attempting to free itself from its edge. The moment it gave ground he withdrew the spear and drove it home again, a mere flash of movement, this time burying the blade in its chest. In a moment the fortunes had changed, and before Siemel understood what was happening the cat was on its back, pinned to the ground, holding it there until at last it expired.

Senhor Siemel stood aghast, hardly able to credit his senses. Joaquim only grinned, undoubtedly pleased with himself and for once having someone around to witness his work. It had been a battle purely between man and animal and won with pure skill, a mastery of self, weapon and understanding of his quarry. The tigrero understood his prey so completely that he could understand them as a person understands the expressions and language of his best friend. Rather than being repulsed by this magnificent display of primal combat, Siemel was hopelessly hooked. Joaquim seemed to understand the European's sensations, for he grinned knowingly the rest of the day. Without even being asked Joaquim then sought to train his young friend.

Although the differences between the two in blood and culture were as wide as the ocean that separated their homelands, they were linked by the undying love for wild places and deeds that burns in the breasts of all adventurers. Without prompting Joaquim taught young Siemel in all he knew. Why he did this even Siemel didn't know. Perhaps he wanted to be remembered. Perhaps the tigrero knew that his breed was a rare one and wished to pass his skills onto another, for he lived apart from his tribe and had no children or other friends to inherit his knowledge. Then again, maybe he simply knew his friend wished to become a tigrero also and wished to make him happy. Who can truly know? Whatever his intentions, he succeeded beyond his greatest expectations, for in time Siemal would become a tigrero all his own and immortalize their deeds in books that would captivate the men and women of the civilized world for decades.

Sasha Siemel and his zagaya

If the first true tigre hunt had not been enough to convince Siemel of Joaquim's prowess, the months of practice together would remove whatever infinitely small shreds of doubt remained. Time and again Joaquim was summoned by the various Doms who held thousands of cattle under their sway. Tigres would prey on their herds, both large and small, and when their daring vaqueros proved incapable of handling the wily beasts, or if one developed a terrifying taste for human flesh, the little tigrero answered the call, slaying tigre and puma alike with his furry companions and his shining zagaya.

Sadly, like all good things, Joaquim's legendary trail came to an end. Siemel, having been gone on his own business for a period of years, returned to the tigrero's haunts and came upon a rotten canoe and a skeleton with a broken spear nearby. With a nauseating realization he found the body of his friend and mentor. The scene was easy enough to read. The hunter had been in pursuit of a three toed tigre
that had been preying on a ranchero's herd, following it over the river, and as he had entered the shallows and began pulling his canoe in by hand the cat had charged him. Unable to resist the charge it had slain him and left his bones to molder on the river's edge.

It was only some small consolation that Siemel would beat his friend's slayer, for some years later he answered a similar call and killed a jaguar with three toes.

While Joaquim's death was unspeakably tragic to all lovers of brave men, he thankfully found lasting memory in the yellowing pages of books written by his friend, even now found on used book websites and aging on the shelves of used book stores. Had it not been for the writings of Senhor Siemel, we may have been denied the priceless knowledge of this elite class of hunters, those who willingly and joyously hunted and fought the dreaded jaguars upon their own terms in the dripping jungles of the Amazon. And while it pains me to say that there is no known photo of Joaquim Guato, we have his memory. His love for his friends, his dogs and to his prey, the tigre, permeated his every action when on the trail, and it is perhaps some small consolation that he died in pursuit of the great cats that he so dearly loved to hunt.

Although it is almost assured that there are no more tigreros today, stalking the the great dappled cats through the tributaries and shadowy palms with spear in hand and dogs at their heels, we may hold the small hope that one or two still survive. But if not, they will always live in the memory of those who burn at the thought of treading the wild lands, and so long as these brave men are remembered, they will never truly die.

Monday, October 16, 2017

That is NOT perfume...

A quick tip to you young ladies out there. Perfume and pleasant smelling things most often come in very pleasant looking containers with bright colors. Most often the bottles have smooth and visually pleasing contours with nice gold colored caps and suave sounding names. However, if its a dull, non-reflective black canister that looks like it should be used by the CIA, it is unlikely to be perfume. Or anything remotely nice smelling.

Also take note, if it has the word Spitfire on the side, the odds are lowered even further.

Oh, less noticeable but still important, usually perfume doesn't hook onto a keychain. Now, if the little container has a safety mechanism on it, it is definitely not perfume.

It's at this point that you should realize that this is something that is probably not meant for nice actions and should be left alone. And certainly do NOT spray it at nearby unsuspecting people in an enclosed space.

Because guess what? It isn't an aromatic siren call to attract people. It's meant to make you cry and cough uncontrollably while wondering what sin you committed to deserve such a terrible fate. It's pepper spray.

NOT perfume

Why do I go to all the trouble to explain this? Well, someone at work didn't get this memo. Ohhhhhh yeah. That happened. At work.

That was a fun day. Never before have I ever desired milk in my eyes so badly. EC, out!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

How many pages?!

Well then! I was pleasantly surprised by what's happened with my latest book, Kapar's Mark, lately. I saw two purchases recently, which pleased me. I know that sounds pathetically small, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere, right?
Then I see the pages read from one person. I don't know how precisely it tracks who and when, but the KENP and stuff sometimes does so. And somehow, one of these dear purchasers read the entire sodding book, 372 pages, in just three days! Good grief!

Look at this visual evidence, with the bar on the right representing the largest portion.

I was not expecting that. This book is paced more slowly than some, being more of an adventurous journey rather than an edge of your seat nail-biting extravaganza meant to keep you welded to the book. But somebody evidently thought otherwise! Honestly, one of the greatest indicators of a book's quality is if someone can't put it down. And boy oh boy did this reader give his or her opinion on that! I'm in awe of this accomplishment.

Thank you very much mystery reader for this needed morale boost!

And for the rest of you, this should be an indicator of how fun of a book this is. I don't expect anyone else to read it at this sort of a pace, but I would be much obliged for any additional readers! Only five Earth dollars!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Massacre in Vegas

Folks, this one is going to be a bit more personal. While I was born in California, I grew up in Las Vegas. From childhood I grew up in that concrete jungle with the mountains in the distance, the heat beating down on me like fiery fists and the glow of the casinos and hotels flashing in the distance. Honestly, I never liked Vegas much. I was never one for cities, even though I grew up in it. But it was none the less my home.

I walked into work yesterday morning at the crack of dawn in a decent mood, until someone eerily asked for a moment of silence in honor of Vegas. A feeling of dread crept over me. While I no longer live there, I moved North almost exactly a year ago, I still have many friends and my family there. Then I learned of the carnage that had taken place not even twelve hours before. Perhaps my emotional distance dampened the blow, but pretty quickly I was edgy. While I sincerely doubted anyone I knew was at that concert, my mind conjured ideas of someone I cared about somehow being there at that time and suffering. Thankfully I didn't put my fist through anyone or anything, and upon arriving home I received relief in the form of calling my mom and learning that everyone we knew was completely fine.

Even so, I had intense rage pulsing through my veins. Someone evil had murdered people in my home town. Dozens. Fifty eight dead, over five hundred wounded. The urge to paint myself and take scalps was like a living thing inside me, crawling to get out, to avenge the dead. To protect those I cared about. Folks, I do my best to be a nice person, even to those who I don't like. But when my family is in danger, my veneer of civility is burned away like paper in a gust of flame and I am ready to do things that are not so civilized.

But right now that doesn't stick out to me. What stays with me at the moment is what my mom told me over the phone. Us Southern Nevadans are an odd bunch. We have cowboys, gamblers, weirdos, church goers, and a mess of people who are downright odd. Myself included. I expected to hear of rage, retaliatory violence, terror, greed, and a bunch of other poor behavior.

But I was utterly blown away by what they actually did.

Instead, in less than 24 hours the folks there raised over a million dollars to help the victims and their families. Blood donors lined up at every plasma donation center in the entire sodding city, backed up around the blocks. People waited in line for up to six hours, ready to donate precious plasma to those in surgery. And some others noticed how long and determined these people were, standing for hours, and brought them snacks.

I am utterly stunned by how the community has come together down there. The positivity and love being shown to one another in a place I regarded as being slightly more civilized than Thunder Dome has shown its true colors: And they are infinitely more pleasant than I ever imagined.

I am a firm believer that people show their true selves when things get bad. When the pressure is on, you see how good or bad people really are. And apparently the citizens of Vegas showed just how many good people there are. In the sharpest contrast to an act of absolute savagery and evil we have countless acts of selflessness and caring. I feel like Batman at the end of The Dark Knight when the two ferries spare each other.

I don't know why this man, no, not man, creature, did what he did. And I don't care. What I do care about is that so many people have pulled together and overcome. The next few weeks will doubtless be filled with pain, grief, and political savagery, but for now I will enjoy the love that has been shown by the citizens of my home town.

People of Las Vegas, I am proud of you.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tipu: The Master Bowman

Peter Capstick, professional hunter, writer and one of the most artistically sarcastic men to ever grace the written word, left behind a wealth of entertaining information and stories behind in his books. After much work as a cropper, elephant hunter and other risky business ventures, was roped into writing magazine articles for Saga and sampling the hunting of various safari camps abroad. These ventures regularly brought him into contact with isolated places, people and beasts.

One very noteworthy trip brought him to the Xingu jungle of Brazil where he was introduced to the finest bowman he had ever seen, Tipu of the Tapirape Indians. His guide, Count Andre Rakowitsch, a most colorful character whom I will discuss more of later, brought him along on a puttering boat and told Peter the story of the Tapirape.

According to the Count, who had spent many years in the deep jungle, the Tapirape were once residents of the deep interior, hunting for food with bows and arrows. But in a cataclysmic turn of events two tribes, the Caiyepo and Tchukurami banded together and ambushed the Tapirape at night, resulting in a bloody and almost absolute massacre. Out of thousands, less than a hundred managed to escape, hiding and sneaking their way downriver. Now in an unfamiliar environment they had little idea how to deal with the river and fish for their food. They had no skills to deal with such obstacles. But fortuitously for them a cadre of Portuguese nuns heard of their plight and found them, and somehow managed to teach them the basics of boating and fishing. Once they got a handle on these queer tasks things got better for their natural instincts took over.

Unlike other tribes of the region which used nets and traps, the Tapirape used the bow exclusively. The Count himself said that they were among the best bowmen he had ever seen. Peter, much interested, was only too delighted to get a glimpse of these fishermen at work. He was then introduced to Tipu, a youth of indeterminate age, but when asked if the weird white man might see him fish he only smiled.

They set out in a tiny dugout canoe with gunwales less than an inch high. These light craft were very handy, but extremely easy to upset. Although the water in which they were paddling was very shallow, more of a swamp than a river, it was filled with piranhas. Don't let the elites trick you into thinking that these tiny fish are only occasional killers. All too often people fall and are half-flayed by piranhas even when close to shore, their internal organs dangling from their shredded abdomens. Yet Tipu balanced upon this frail craft, bracing his feet on each gunwale with a six foot long bow, taller than he was! And he did this with no more concern than you and I cross a stoplight, even with the risk of being splattered by a semi-truck.

Peter watched with interest as he drew back one of his four foot long arrows, one of a quartet only, and let fly at a seemingly empty stretch of water ahead. It slammed into the water, and a moment later began zig-zagging downstream! Paddling alongside it Tipu grabbed the arrow and yanked a peacock bass from the water, still impaled on the arrow. The boyuant arrow and shallow water made retrieving the arrows and their pray exceptionally easy to retrieve, especially since these were quite difficult to make. Our dear spectator was dumbfounded! Although he had much experience in fishing, everywhere from North America, South America and Africa, considering himself a superb eye for fish, he hadn't the slightest idea that the fish was there fifteen yards away!

Not only did Tipu spot it, but hit it directly behind the head in just one shot as easily as if it were a bulls eye. All day Tipu nailed one fish after another at all distances, either directly in the head or in the gills, missing but only once. And he did so all while balancing on a most precarious craft in moving water with very inconsistent equipment. Was it any wonder that our dear writer was so dumbfounded?

Although I haven't heard of the Tapirape archery skill elsewhere, we have at least one grand account of their masterful archery prowess and young Tipu, who blew away a man who was by no means ignorant of weapons and skill.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Reaction to Failure

In the course of life, we will inevitably face failures, some more grievous than others. Failure at a game is but a small and flighty disappointment. Others are more serious and have more lasting consequences. These potential failures loom over many of us like a cloud ready to burst. But it is how we react to these failures that truly show what kind of people we are.

Although I have long known this, I didn't think about it when I recently faced a particularly painful failure. I was in line for a new job. One that would pay well and actually help me get some things I need in life. A bit more clothing, some repairs, more food, maybe even some more comforts like movies and books. It was yesterday when my spirits were high that I learned I had been denied the position that I wanted.

And this was right before I was about to go into my current job for the closing shift. This bad news set a bad tone for the rest of the night. While I didn't take my disappointment out on my co-workers or customers, I was still in a quiet, dour mood. And yet when I broke the news to my friends there, I found myself not lamenting not getting shoes without holes or not being able to repair my bike, but saddened that I wouldn't actually be able to do something for someone else. The day I was anticipating my new job start was also coincidentally the birthday of two of my sisters, twins.

The week before I had spoken with the wee girls on the phone, and hearing their excited voices as they chattered to me voicing ideas of what they wanted for their birthday I couldn't help but feel overwhelming love for them. I wanted to make them happy. I wanted to make all of my friends and family happy. I wanted to use my new potential wealth to help others. But with the job denial, I wasn't able to do that.

It was at that time of sadness that I realized that I was sad about what mattered most to me: Bringing joy to those I care about. Granted, these were items that wouldn't save their lives or stave off hunger, but they were things I knew would make them happy, and their happiness meant more to me than my own physical well being.

As the day wore on my mood softened and I reconciled myself to the job hunt once more, even as I plodded about footsore and hungry. But I steadily grew more hopeful that I would find another job. Something better, with less stress and better pay.

How we react in defeat reveals our true nature. And while I wish I had reacted better myself, I could have reacted far worse. And somehow I find that what I cared about the most at the cost of the job oddly comforting. I will get back on the trail once again and hopefully with help move up in the world.

And today some of my patience and optimism was rewarded. A pair of close friends heard of my plight, and actually volunteered to help mail these gifts to my little sisters. That act of selflessness took most of the sting out of my loss, and warmed my heart. It only reinforces my belief that some of the biggest impacts in life can be made with the smallest of heartfelt gestures and good deeds.

So even when things get bad, try to look for the good. And when you see someone suffering, a simple act of genuine kindness might turn them around. Never underestimate the power of caring.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Deforestation Reversal

I came across this article quite by accident and while I haven't dug into it too deeply with cross-referenced information, I none the less find it most interesting and very uplifting!

According to this the dumping of orange peels in a desolate lot over the course of over a decade resulted in an absolutely remarkable reversal in deforestation! As a lover of nature I find this to be absolutely fascinating as well as wonderful! Rainforest is historically quite vulnerable to fixing itself back up once the initial trees have been cut down. In India deforested areas are swiftly replaced by legions of nasty thorns. Hardly a fitting plant worthy of gorgeous rainforest.

But this may provide an impetus to reverse such dreadful destruction. Now I don't give a single hoot about global warming. I think it's an elaborate scam. But I am entirely in favor of conserving and even rebuilding nature! If this is explored further and taken down to a science we could once again have flourishing forests and jungles that we previously tore down. Imagine rejuvenating the landscapes of the Amazon, North America, India, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Africa, and others! And just as importantly give homes to wildlife species that are struggling.

I'm all for genuine and healthy sustainability that doesn't kick humanity in the groin. If this is utilized correctly it could be a boon for both man and nature, making good use of our waste and rebuilding our beautiful planet for us and other life.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Nazis, Communists and the Cult of Victimhood

How I long for older times. Not because they lacked the cruelty and hardship of today. They still existed, sometimes much more acutely than today. But unless one dumps their possessions in the river and trudges all day and night into the woods, they can't escape the relentless bombardment of hatred, vulgarity and plain mean-spirited spite that invades every form of media available today. A hundred years ago one might simply stroll about town and see newspapers of stuff in the world and people gossiping. But it was a simple matter to walk down the town road and leave all of those troubles behind.

Not so today. Today almost everything is under attack. Evil is crawling out from pieces of woodwork I didn't even know existed. Sad as it is to say, there isn't a simple good versus evil right now. At least not as the world sees it. Oddly enough the media sees only one side as good, and one side as bad, without any middle ground or other sides. What we see often today are multiple evil sides fighting one another. The conflict in Virginia may seem to many to be something new, but in reality we are seeing a repeat of history. As has often been said, those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

This may come as a shock to many, but this was not a case of the hard left and the hard right coming at each other. Both sides were hard left. In the 1910's, World War 1 was raging, and the Bolsheviks seized power in the Communist Revolution. Instead of creating the utopia they desired, they instead began one of the most despotic regimes in the history of man. It was a direct application of the ideas espoused by Carl Marx. The Soviet Union came to power, and they couldn't satiate their desire for more. When they were done slaughtering their own citizens, they opted to invade and kill the citizens of other countries.

In the 1930's the Nazis came to power. They were unashamed socialists. They believed that capitalism was an evil system which allowed the conniving greedy Jew to amass vast amounts of money and control things at the expense of others. The Nazis went about purging companies and corporations unless they pledged their loyalty to the new regime. Whereas the Soviet Union took control of absolutely everything, the Nazis allowed some level of freedom for their workers, provided that they served well.

While today we recognize the Russians as being a monumental force against the Nazis, that wasn't how it started. In fact, from the start the two factions were quite chummy. They conspired to take over Poland together and split it. They attacked many countries together, which is part of what gave both sides so much power and momentum so quickly. The Germans were efficient, innovative and fast at applying their power, whilst the Russians used overwhelming numbers of unfortunate soldiers to drown their opponents under the weight of their dead. Even as most of Europe took to fighting the Nazis, Russia busied itself with invading Finland in the notorious Winter War.

So what happened? Simply put, neither group was willing to be subservient to the other. There could be only one true ruler, and there was no room for two despots in Europe. Both planned to strike at one another even as they espoused oddly similar ideals. Germany struck first is all.

But the two still shared far more in common than they had apart. Stalin and the Soviet Union were hardly friends to minorities either. They too purged millions of gypsies, gays and Jews with the slow, trundling gate that they handled all things. Part of what set the Nazis apart is that they simply did it faster. If Hitler and Stalin managed to set aside their quests for power and combined, they would have continued exterminating people with the rigorous determination of a farmer purging his crops. The Nazis murdered many of their own citizens either to keep the gene pool pure in accordance with their beliefs in eugenics or because they were suspected of not supporting their ideals, while the Russians purged millions of their own because they were seen as enemies of their regime or simply not supportive enough. Anyone perceived as being a threat to their power was killed. Both had their secret police, the Gestapo and the KGB, and both murdered anyone who dared to even hint at any imperfection of their leaders.

It was ironic that the Russians took to calling the Germans fascists, since that was exactly what they were as well. Both brutally suppressed any and all angles of opposition with the tenacity of religious inquisitors. Both did the best they could to ensure that there was only one party: theirs. Anyone with any brains who disagreed made sure that they didn't voice it in the least. They kept their heads low and hoped no one noticed.

Both groups were rigidly atheist as well. Religion was at most tolerated under extremely burdensome regulations and heavy persecution, and at most actively purged. What were a few more people thrown into concentration camps? Hitler in fact despised Christians, feeling that it was only through their charitable actions that Jews were enabled to survive. Stalin would tolerate no one looking up to anyone but himself and possibly Lenin. There was only the party. No sense of self. Anything less than fanatical devotion was unacceptable. Even some of the most dedicated were unable to live up to expectations and were summarily executed. Hitler was quite notable in murdering many of his early supporters shortly after coming to power. In fairness, Hitler wasn't entirely atheist, but mixed a strange variation of paganism, mythology and witchcraft into his beliefs, but certainly didn't attribute any of his success to any of that.

This rigid atheism again stems from Marxism. Marxist doctrine states that religion only exists in the ignorant and unfortunate, who in their stupidity and plight hope that a higher power might deliver them sanctuary. He believed that once they were enlightened with modern conveniences and education that religion would disappear. Nevermind that some of the most scientifically and culturally advanced civilizations in history were deeply religious, and in fact I would contend that a strong religious relationship coincides heavily with overall advancement. There are exceptions of course, but one finds that especially in older times, it was the more religious groups that were innovative and cultured throughout the world.

But with these two regimes such petty superstitions could not be tolerated. That diverted the hearts and minds from the party to the petty concepts of morals and individual spiritual advancement and caring for one another. Russia in particular engaged in a unique variation of cultural genocide by annihilating any sense of cultural, spiritual, tribal or individual identity. While it is true that homogeneous cultures typically have greater cohesiveness and peace, the level to which they forced it is truly breathtaking. Contrast this with Britain, which while it too enforced some level of homogeneity amongst its imperial followers, still allowed an infinitely greater level of freedom. They demanded loyalty to the crown and to the English Empire, but were still dazzlingly diverse. Contrast the typical English soldier with the Indian sepoy, or Nepalese Gurkha, or Sikh warriors. That doesn't count the Commonwealth soldiers of Canada, New Zealand and Australia. While all have markedly different backgrounds, they were all held together by a love for the crown while still having different identities.

Another part of the desire to eliminate religion is, I suspect, the lessons learned from religious persecution and intolerance, which certainly has been and even still is a problem. However those who seek to impose atheism on others are blind to the fact that they are in fact engaging in the exact sort of behavior they hope to eliminate. If there are no differences, there will be no quarrels, right? And if those beliefs or lack thereof won't be accepted willingly, then they must be forced to or be purged, exactly as has been the case with religious wars and dogmatic enforcement of religion.

And that brings us to today. What we are seeing today in these violent conflicts is the result of two radical fringes of Marxism clashing. One comes from the idea of those who have been wronged and must be righted, and the other stemming from the idea of inherent superiority that must rule over others. Both have long held roots in Marxism and the deep left wing politics. While we aren't quite dealing with communists, we're simply seeing another version of the same song. Same beat, rhythm and tone, but different lyrics and a different singer.

The oversimplification of one group being good and the other bad in the media shows either a willful ignorance or a terrifying lack of logic. Both groups have demonstrated that they are willing to kill to make sure that their ideas are imposed, and if they can't do it through political enforcement, they will do so through anarchy and disruption. The Nazis we saw are an inbred strain of the German Nazis who believe in their own inherent superiority and the inferiority of other races based off of eugenics and older racism. They want their ideas enforced by any means they can get away with. They want this accomplished through rigid government control or mob rule. They are evil.

But the BLM is no better. It focuses on an unnervingly narrow ideal of what it considers to be racial prejudice. In contrast to the Nazis, their ideals stem not from an idea of superiority, but that they have been wronged in such a determined and systematic manner over centuries that they believe the only way in which they can truly be free is to take from those who have oppressed them and even murder them to get even. They claim that they care for the lives of their own, no matter the cost. But have you heard them complain of black people killing other blacks in Chicago? Over five hundred murders have taken place there in this year alone, just eight months, and the overwhelming majority of them are committed by blacks against other blacks. Do you hear them complaining about the systematic genocide enacted by Planned Parenthood, invented by Margaret Sanger with the explicit purpose of controlling and reducing their population? That evil organization has murdered millions of black babies before they could even take their first breath.

This is because this group is less concerned with preserving the lives of the members of their race, rather than leading a war against another. Any opposition or perception of opposition is seen as the highest of racism and therefore the highest of evil, and it should be annihilated without hesitation.

They bluntly ignore the remarkable social strides that have been made over a remarkably short amount of time. Sixty years ago seeing a black person on TV was considered almost unimaginable. Today it's so common we don't even think about it. Every day black and white people work together, play games together, watch movies, even get married and it's not seen as unusual. That's considered normal. It's a level of social integration that has succeeded beautifully in less than a century! While pockets of racism obviously still exist, it isn't nearly at the level which it existed even a few decades ago.

But through government interference, mismanagement and poor decisions, a large portion of the black population hasn't integrated at all, and has in fact been systematically indoctrinated with the idea that all white people are secret conspirators, and that they must be fought. The BLM doesn't want peace. It wants blood atonement. Notice how they are tearing down statues of not just men who were racist, but abolitionists. Robert E. Lee was not a racist. He was in fact an abolitionist, but it was the people of his home state, the place he grew up in and filled with people he knew and loved, that he sought to protect when he led the Confederacy. He hoped that after the war he could dissolve slavery over time. But seemingly no one realizes this.

Some people are targeting statues of Thomas Jefferson because he owned slaves. Do they mention that in his initial draft of the Constitution he tried to abolish slavery? Even more shocking, they attacked a statue of Abraham Lincoln! The man who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation! The very man who ended slavery in the United States and fought a war to end it!

What we are seeing is not a group driven by the desire for equality or fair treatment, but the systematic destruction of everything the United States was built upon. In their eyes, as in the eyes of many on the left, the US allowed slavery when it was formed, which was bad. Therefore, everything else about it was also bad. Racists also believed in free speech. That too must be a tool of oppression. The second amendment was allowed by racists. That too must be racist. Any and all results made in this country over the years is driven by a malignant system to oppress them. And the only way to fix that is to obliterate any and all traces of that original government including the founding fathers and all that they believed in. Anyone who disagrees must clearly belong to that secret society of racists and oppressors and must be silenced by any means.

Here again we see a form of cultural genocide enforced by both the Nazis and the Communists. The oversimplification of history, the wiping out of inconvenient facts and even attacking those who helped them is truly stunning, and in fact reflects much more of a cult behavior than a cohesive political ideal. In the end the BLM is a tribe-based militant group, seeing only skin color and anyone who doesn't share it is the enemy. They want nothing short of the eradication of every foundation upon which this country was built, and even the faintest trace of what they perceive to be opposition or racism is to be stricken down without mercy. They too wished to seize political power and have resources redirected from their perceived oppressors to them. Despite billions of dollars having been given to them through welfare and the unprecedented level of social integration and equality achieved over such a small period of time, they demand more. And now that they too failed to secure political power, they too seek to impose their ideals through violence and anarchy.

And I have no doubt that it will only get worse from here. As awful as it is to say, there will be even more groups like this who even now are sharpening their knives. And almost all of them are on the left.

Consider how very recently focus shifted from the oppression of black people to women. Then to gays. And now to trans people. It is a cult born of victimhood, and those who have suffered the most deserve the most compensation and outrage. It is a vicious cycle that even now is spiraling out of control. I hear of gay people being accused of transphobia for not finding the genitalia of a trans person attractive. There are rabid feminists attacking trans people as not being true women. These differences will only continue to radicalize and fight amongst each other even as they attack those who actually aren't doing anything wrong at all.

All of these seem to represent what appears to be a fracturing cult. The similarities are striking. The doctrine stems from who has suffered, not on whether they do good works or what they accomplish. Those who disagree are to be ignored, attacked, disavowed and distanced. Cults frequently isolate themselves from friends and family who don't actively support them in their activities, ignoring pleas to talk. It's a bizarre inbred system of self-pity, fanaticism, a hopeless quest for purity and ultimate victim-hood.

This fracture is in fact inevitable, simply because besides the competition for who the biggest victim is, the ideals sharply contradict and are inconsolable. Another sacred cow for them is Islam. But Shariah Law dictates that gays must be killed as ordered by state law. How can gays defend Islam when it desires their deaths? How can feminists defend it when it dictates that they are slaves to their husbands? How can a feminist claim a man who has transformed into a woman when he is of the oppressive male class by default? The contradictions go on, and they only grow more complex and difficult as they divide themselves further and further into smaller categories and jockey for positions.

It will only grow progressively worse as the groups isolate themselves, dig in and become steadily more dogmatic and aggressive.

All of them share the traits of rebelling against a real or perceived oppressor, which now constitutes each other. And in a world full of so much human suffering over thousands of years, there will never actually be an end. No one will win. I fully expect that they will lash out against one another with ever growing hatred and violence as they seek to become the oppressors that they once sought to abolish.

However, there is hope. While the gloomy is highlighted today, there are millions of average people here and throughout the world with good hearts who genuinely care for others. They aren't mentioned by the news or noticed by the rest of the world, but their actions are felt subtly but firmly by those they interact with. It is these anonymous heroes that we should not only focus on, but join. Flash a smile to someone you might not like. Give a generous tip to your waiter. Ask someone if you can do something to make them smile. Share a bit of your food with someone who has none. These small actions reveal the true love of the world. And what's remarkable about it is that it can be performed by anyone! You don't have to have a badge, a special card or office to be a positive influence. Each and every one of us can positively help others one good deed at a time which produces a ripple effect. The simple act of caring for someone can turn their lives around. I've seen it.

In spite of the darkness of the world, deep down I feel a radiating love for everyone. Even those I find myself growing angry towards, I at least find myself wanting to try to love them. If they don't like me, that's okay. I will still try to be nice and kind. Especially if they don't deserve it. No matter what your religious, ideology or political stance is, I hope we can all agree on this. Show love to those who hate you. Forgive those who wrong you. View everyone as someone who needs love and care.

These are dark times, certainly, but it is in the darkest times that light shines the brightest. Through this some of us will come out stronger and better. While some show the worst of humanity, let the rest of us show the best of humanity.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Own Youtube Channel!

In an attempt to expand further on my sphere of influence as well as taking advantage of another medium to entertain, I've started my own humble Youtube channel, doing lets plays and other very dirt simple videos. I'm still figuring out how to work the audio levels, and haven't actually done any cutting or anything remotely complex in editing, but it is my hope that I will steadily get better and provide some fun for you guys! So if you're interested please take a look and leave comments if you're so inclined. Thanks all!

Also, I sincerely apologize for my recent lack of activity. Things have been... interesting, as of late, and I'm trying to compensate. Aside from that I'm spread across multiple projects from blogging, DA writing, world building for my next book, practicing wood burning, helping out with a major local event and now practicing video making.
So again, I apologize for those of you looking forward for more writing content here. Hopefully I'll have something new up soon!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Primal Frontier: The Kapar's Mark

At long last I finally present my latest book and first full sized novel! I introduce to you The Kapar's Mark!
Primal Frontier: The Kapar's Mark by [Confer, Austen]

Here is the synopsis:

"No problem vexes the adventurer and hunter more than the lack of a challenge. Ansgar Tapio, the dinosaur hunter eternally smitten with wanderlust, is plagued by the thought that there are no challenges left. Until he hears of an island that no white man has penetrated. Whispered to be the home of fearsome beasts, his blood thrills at the thought of meeting what is reputed to be the greatest of them all, the kapar! Rumored to be a terrestrial crocodile deadly beyond all others, that even the local hunters regard it with superstitious terror, Ansgar sets out to find this beast and test himself against it.

And thus he sets out on a grand journey with a motley crew upon a steamboat to reach the fabled island Indannas and penetrate the steaming jungles, braving hosts of venomous creatures, carnivorous fish, hostile tribes and other innumerable perils to hunt what may be his greatest challenge yet! The infamous kapar, the terror of Indannas. And yet, is it something more?

Follow our heroes on an epic journey across ocean, jungle and mountain as they enter a world scarcely imagined by civilized men as they brave countless perils for the thrill of adventure as few men ever dream!"

If that doesn't sound like fun, I don't know what does. In addition all my previous works are up for free for a limited time in celebration of this release. So if you've been interested in my other works but didn't want to pay, well, here's your chance!

I would like to take this moment to thank everyone who has supported my work. It's because of people like you that I write. Entertaining others and spreading joy is my purpose in life. 
I hope to continue doing so with even more stories soon.

In the meantime, happy reading and happy hunting!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Beauty in Simplicity

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This one idea conveys so much. It can be applied to so much in life that it boggles my mind. So much of life today focuses on perfection, finding beauty in that which has no flaw. But this Japanese concept is infinitely more poignant. Beauty in imperfection or repair is such a wonderful concept.

It applies not only to art or objects, but also to people. It is those who have been broken and are fixed who are some of the best in the world. When you see someone making mistakes, don't shun them. Try to help them like this bowl.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth

The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth : Mountaineer, Scout, and Pioneer and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians (1856) by [Bonner, T. D.]

The average mountain man was a cut above most normal men. Tough, rugged, resourceful and burning with a passion for the wilderness, these gents forever cemented themselves as a presence in the American West. While quite a few died in their quest for furs, either through bad-tempered grizzlies, freezing to death, or falling victim to the scalper's knife, it's more amazing at how many survived. And Jim Beckwourth was one of the best.

A mulatto and former slave, Jim set out at an early age with other trappers in the Ashley Company to penetrate the Rockies and secure the beaver pelts that the East so desperately craved. This remarkable man went from being just one of many green trappers to becoming a leading chief of the Crow nation and being accepted into their fold like few other men ever could.

Within this tome he describes a massive volume of his life and his adventures. These are his words, albeit somewhat edited. Even so one quickly gets a great idea of what sort sort of man Mr. Beckwourth was. One gets the impression that in spite of his many achievements and grand adventures, he is soft spoken and is more apt to lay things in a casual manner, yet one doesn't find himself bored at all. On the contrary! His insights into the mindset of the Crows is simply invaluable. He knew them as precious few other men could ever hope to. If you wish to learn deeply of this tribe, then this is essential reading.

I have heard that some of his accounts are inaccurate, so one may wish to take some of his words with a grain of salt. It is always wise to cross reference sources. Speaking personally, I get the impression of absolute honesty, a man simply relaying his accounts as best as his memory can serve him. So while individual details may be incorrect due to the effects of time on memory, I believe that as a whole his accounts are accurate.

Beckwourth was believed by the Crows to in fact be one of their own, kidnapped by the whites as a child and raised as they were raised. And wouldn't you know it? His "mother" found a mole above his eye, which she said belonged to her own son who had disappeared so many years before. Lo and behold, their long lost member had finally returned! And as a great warrior no less! The love these people bestowed upon him is enough to wrench most hearts from their breasts, and it becomes quite clear that Beckwourth himself cared deeply for them. He married many of their women, even when trying to court a lass back in the East, and for the most part handled himself as a wonderful adventurer. Even as his personal wealth in pelts grew, one gets the feeling that he had little desire to return to the life of the East. He could just collect a few more pelts and move back whenever he felt like it. Whenever that might be.

All said, this is a huge but fantastic book. I myself have not yet finished it, even after a few months of flicking through the pages, but I feel that it is well worth the read. Please take a look and see back into the days of the mountain man!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Geronimo's Story of His Life

Geronimo's Story of His Life by [Geronimo]

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the West has heard the name Geronimo. One of the greatest warriors of the notorious Apaches of Arizona, Geronimo commanded respect for his daring, resourcefulness and raw courage that stymied two armies for decades.

So when I came across this gem I felt my heart leap with anticipation. Plenty of books have been written by military men who fought Apaches and others, but a book written by one of the warriors himself? And one of their best leaders no less? This my friends is an absolute treasure.

In this book Geronimo covers many portions of his life, from when he was young, to some of his later battles, and during his many years as a prisoner of war. Many aspects of Apache life are covered, from weddings, domestic life, to warfare and religion. I find it surprising however that Geronimo covers conspicuously little of his fights against American soldiers. He defers far more often to fighting against Mexicans. And he seems to cover his failures more often than his successes. I suspect these may be due to a combination of humility, and perhaps the military editors not being terribly keen on him describing how he gave them the slip for so long. However I have no evidence to support either suspicion, and I could be dreadfully wrong on both. He was a man of strong will, and if he didn't have a mind to discuss something, he simply wouldn't do so.

However, upon reading this entire thing, one truly gets the feeling that they knew not just the warrior, but the man as a human being. One feels his pain and loss, his frustration and anxiety, but also his stoic resolve in the face of difficult circumstances and even love for some of the better things he found later in life. One of my favorite chapters is actually when he visited the fair, meeting people from many other countries and watching performers. Of all his words in the book, it is his last ones that perhaps strike me the strongest: "I wish all of my people could have attended the Fair."

It's in these last chapters that one feels his sorrow and sadness, having born so many burdens, and yet one can feel a touch of happiness and reserved hope for the future. In these words over a century old one can still sense the resolute strength and power that guided one of history's greatest warriors. One almost feels as though they are listening to him speak around the campfire, recalling pleasant and poor memory alike. I find this beyond fascinating, and it is an absolute gem of literature.

I highly encourage anyone and everyone to read this book! I loved every page, and I hope that others can get the same pleasure from it that I did.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Books on the brain

I've been really slow on here lately, what with things being all sorts of chaotic on my end and struggling to maintain my hold on what sanity I have left, but I think I have enough room now to come back and actually make myself somewhat useful. How? Well, I've been hoarding books lately like a miser, and through these many metaphorically dusty tomes I've uncovered absolute treasures of knowledge. So! I'll be recommending and discussing some of these, hopefully starting tomorrow. Some I've read cover to cover, others I'm still getting through. It's hard to be really thorough, just because I have so many to get through, and some of these memoirs are really hefty, but I'll do the best I can. Usually I can get an idea of how good a piece is within the first few thousand pages.

I'll mostly be looking at books written by people who were actually at various time periods or locations. I love meticulously researched books, but first hand accounts are simply invaluable, and thankfully there are many of these floating around for just a few dollars, or even free. So if you want a really good perspective of certain eras, stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kapar's Mark release date!

Yes yes yes! The newest installment of the Primal Frontier series is primed and ready to go! This bad boy is far larger than my earlier works. It's a hair over 100k words long, 30 chapters, and will probably amount to 350 pages once it's released on the Kindle. Phew! This is my first full sized novel, and I hope it will feel as epic as I tried to make it.

This time Ansgar has gotten wind of a creature unlike any other he has ever seen before on a far off island that no white man has yet explored. It's full of dangerous wildlife, disease, hostile tribes, impassable jungle and more. Just the sort of place his wild spirit yearns to go. He must find a ship willing to take him on his crazy errand, brave the interior of the island Indannas and all its perils, to find the legendary beast known as the kapar. Whispered by the local tribes to be demons in physical form, they rarely if ever risk their wrath. But is there more to this beast than simply being dangerous? We shall see!

The book will be released on July 8th, Saturday, for five dollars. Yes, that's a wee bit pricier than my earlier works, but this one is huge. I think it's a fair trade. Also! On the release day I will have ALL of my earlier works put up for FREE for a whole week! So if you've been interested in any of the others or want to share them with friends or family, now is your chance to take full advantage of them. My treat.

So mark your calendars and get the hype train going!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Writing Update

I apologize for the recent lack of activity. Life has gotten ramped up and more challenging. I am glad to announce however that I'm very close to releasing my next book! I'm about 80% of the way through editing. With luck I'll have it finished by the end of the month and have it released by next month.

Sorry for not giving more details, but I have to get back to editing. Wish me luck ladies and gentlemen! This is going to be a big one!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Unsung Heroes of the Wilds

The names of certain hunters, explorers, trappers, soldiers and frontiersmen continue popping up whenever you read about the wild lands. Jim Bridger, Courtney Selous,  Lawrence of Arabia, Samuel Baker, and countless others. Innumerable men cast in these molds braved dangers and feats of bravery that most civilized men of today can scarcely credit as being real. These men live in immortality through not just oral tradition, but through the gift of writing. Some wrote of their exploits, others had their stories written by scribes who wished to preserve their deeds, all of which have been passed down through decades or even centuries.

In reading many of these I found gems of knowledge tucked away in dusty pages that might have otherwise faded from memory. These men were armed with the gift of writing, and allowed themselves to be remembered. However, many of those they encountered did not. African tribesmen, warriors of the American West, local villagers in the remote villages of India, nomadic aborigines in Australia, none of these men had the writing systems or access to distribution that the white explorers had, and sadly many of their own heroes have faded into obscurity. But to my delight many of these explorers shared the same love of heroes that many of us today do and took great pains to document and retell the exploits of lesser known men who might otherwise never be known.

It is here that I hope to recount some amazing feats and tales of these children of nature. Some were wily warriors. Others were simple men but possessed of incalculable bravery.

These explorers found kindred spirits amongst some of these men and women of distant lands and found them worthy of recording. I am eternally thankful that they did, for now in this age of the internet we can honor these heroes better than ever before!

This marks the start of a new series of articles I will be doing: Documenting these lesser known people for us all to remember and enjoy!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Samurai Jack Is Back!

Not many kids cartoons, or even adult shows, can compare to the amazing Cartoon Network original Samurai Jack. Almost unrivaled in imagination and creativity, it has stood proudly among cartoons as one of the most lasting and beloved series out there. It had humor, drama, horror, spectacular action and some serious heavyweight characters. Jack himself is a quintessential pulp character, a jack of all trades adventurer traveling the span and scope of a bizarre world to return to the past. His arch nemesis, Aku, voiced by the legendary Mako, stands as one of the coolest villains ever. With his hacksaw laugh, flaming eyebrows and surprisingly wide array of emotions and abilities, he is a worthy adversary and a hugely fun baddie. He runs the gamut from being a terrifying villain unleashing horrible destruction upon the realm of mortals to being a petty trickster, content to simply taunt and humiliate. He is scary and funny all at the same time.

The scope of the world here is some of the most diverse I have ever seen in any form of fiction. The artists and creators seemingly were given a carte blanche and told to go wild on whatever they wanted. Working on this setting must have been a creator's wet dream. There are seemingly no limits. There is magic, demonic entities, cyborgs, scifi, steampunk, western elements, aliens, robots, monsters, and everything in between. It has more diversity and imagination than a miniature golf course and much more action. While simplistic the art style is very vivid and distinct. It can't be mistaken for anything else. In fact, it was so good that the makers were drafted by Lucas for some of the Clone Wars cartoons, and it shows.

Sadly, even that couldn't save it from cancellation after four seasons. It was never truly finished. Until now. From the grave Samurai Jack has been resurrected, giving us a chance at finishing the epic that was started so long ago. We are now granted a steady stream of episodes, and we may finally see the climax of the running saga.

Sadly the original voice actor of Aku has passed, and it will be difficult to find a truly worthy replacement. It also seems to be taking a more consistent dark tone, as Jack is now haunted by visions of his family and homeland. It's been fifty years and yet age does not tell on his body. His mind however seems to be bending under the weight of constant fighting and failure. And a dazzling array of new enemies are now set before him, most notably The Daughters of Aku, a cultish sect of women dedicated to the evil shapeshifter.

Will the story at last be brought to a close? Will it match its earlier works? I don't know but I'm ecstatic to find out! Check the link below to see the first episode!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

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It's no secret that I'm a fan of King Kong. I watched the original 33 movie dozens of times as a kid and fell absolutely in love with it. It explains a lot about how I turned out. So one may have guessed my reaction upon seeing the trailer for the newest movie, and last Friday I hied myself down to the local cinema and gave it a watch.

First off, this is sort of in strange territory in terms of category. It's obviously not a remake. But it's also definitely not a sequel or a soft reboot. It is purely doing its own thing. In fact, it doesn't even reference the original or the Jackson incarnation! I admit, in this day and age where movie makers are terrified of originality and use their ancestry as a form of merit more often than Tolkien characters, this was rather shocking. Maybe they snuck a reference in there, but if they did I didn't see it. This is far from a bad thing however. For once, a movie actually feels rather fresh and not like it's masquerading as an old friend.

Also refreshing is that this one isn't taking place in modern times. Honestly, it irks me when movies forget that they can exist in other time periods. References to modern stuff rubs me the wrong way. This movie is sandwiched nicely between the old 30's and modern times, just at the early 70's. Techy enough to have some fun gear but retro enough to give it a fresh feeling.

With that out of the way, onto the actual meat of the movie. Within the first five minutes this movie lets you know that realism is not a priority. An American pilot and Japanese pilot fall onto Skull Island in World War 2, fail to shoot each other and get into a melee. The American pilot catches a katana thrust at his stomach with his bare hands and doesn't lose a single finger. First off, ouch. Second off, not happening. I guess this Japanese pilot had a training model and never sharpened it. That should really prep you for what kind of movie you're in for.

Fast forward about twenty years and we're just where the Vietnam War ends and John Goodman is playing... I forget his name honestly. Sorry. But he somehow swindles a senator into giving them the green light to investigate this island. Okay, second thing about this movie. The writing and characters are not the strong points. This is NOT a smart movie. Honestly, I started getting scared pretty early on, because I thought I was in for a crapfest where they had one writer paid in Cheetos and would focus everything on the action. But in hindsight it's more like they realized that it was pointless trying to make this a smart movie, and just want to get you to the island as soon as possible and get the fun going. If so... well, they almost made the right choice, because once they do get there it actually gets ridiculously fun. Honesty, I've spent more time on the first act then the movie did. This is NOT the Jackson movie, where it takes an hour to get to the effing island. I suppose the makers, who also did the most recent Godzilla movie, were paying attention to what people said about those two and tried to correct their mistakes, but ended up over-correcting, so we end up with almost no build up or character and tons of action.

Sorry if I'm not giving much detail on the first act, but honestly there is very little to tell. I think we get to the island within 25 minutes. The scenes race by fast! They rush us into the second act like our lives depend on it. And once we do get to the island, we see Kong within five minutes and you see half of the clips from the trailer. Kong rocks in and begins smashing Hueys out of the air like they're staying still. And that's... awesome actually. Far fetched, but awesome. Honestly, this movie is wonderfully cinematic. It makes brilliant use of motion, shots, framing slow motion and all that jazz. It has rapid bursts of violence punctuated by a few seconds of slow tension with a gorgeous visual to really let things sink in. I wish all action movies showed this level of clarity with their fighting. You're never confused about what's going on, unlike a Bay movie. I thought that this first action scene was a huge mistake. I thought that they showed their hand early and wouldn't be able to top it. I'm glad to say I was wrong.

Kong looks frigging fantastic. They've gone from the giant silverback gorilla look in the Jackson movie to a more erect and solid Sasquatch appearance. Honestly, it works. It's still Kong, but another incarnation. Yet I was still blown away by how expressive his face was. He still looks like a real animal, showing a range of primitive yet palpable emotions. His surly frowning and raging roars will chill you in your seat, yet he sometimes gives way to looks of eerie calm and even pained concern. The movie makes a lot more sense if you treat Kong as the main character. Also, he is a frigging ninja in this flick. He pops up everywhere unnoticed and without making a sound. But like his cinematic rival, Godzilla, he has a presence that is impossible to ignore and when he shows up on screen you are basking in his epic glory.

As for the human characters... I'm sorry. For the life of me I can't remember the names of any. Not the soldiers, not the scientists, not anyone. Yet almost all of them have an identity that I remember. Weird, right? I think the script was a fail because they put in every character's name a grand total of three times, which isn't enough for me to memorize them. It's strange, because the characters are actually kind of memorable, albeit not amazing. Loki for example doesn't feel bad, but he does feel like he wasn't used to his full potential, which is a shame. The same goes for Jackson's character. I feel like he could have been utilized far better. Oddly enough, the best character is the one I was afraid of the most. You know the curly haired guy from Talladega Nights and all those other awful Will Farrell comedies? He is the American pilot from the intro, still alive on the island. I guess my perception was stained from other performances, because I groaned when I saw him. Honestly though he works. Being stranded for so long he feels a bit kookie, but still sane. Comedic but sympathetic. He even managed to pull off holding a katana and whispering "Death before dishonor" in Japanese. Man, I wouldn't have believed that last one, but he sold me on it. He is used for comedic relief, but he actually does have a lot of sympathy going for him. So yay on that.

As for plot, it's your run of the mill stranded on a dangerous island and have to escape story. I was actually reminded of Jurassic Park 3 in how it felt very contrived to get them stranded so quickly. A lot of things feel contrived in this movie, but not to the point that it made me angry. More like lightly annoyed. And in fairness, once they are stranded, the movie is pretty fun. I just had trouble buying that all of these helicopters, at least ten, got knocked down by Kong inside of five minutes. Good grief.

All that stuff being said, I absolutely love when we get to see the local tribe from the trailer. We meet our WW2 friend with them and we thankfully avoid more cultural conflict, and actually get a deep and fascinating look into their society. The scene is almost pure exposition, but I actually ate it up. I guess because I'm a sucker for lost civilizations and stuff. But wow I loved it. We see their beliefs and mythology, the history of the island, and while it doesn't line up with the prior movies, it still feels very believable and unique. Everything from their look and feel is excellent and I sincerely enjoyed their scenes.

Also worthy of note is John Goodman's sidekick, a young African American scientist who jumps on for the ride. Spoiler alert, and to the shock of everyone, he doesn't die. But more importantly, he's one of the more interesting guys and has some of the most fascinating stuff to say in the entire movie. What does he talk about? Hollow Earth Theory. He elaborates on his theory regarding the planet being hollow or having isolated pockets within the Earth's crust which contain isolated ecosystems. Turns out Skull Island is one of these! They don't show it, but they discover through seismic tests that the entire island is hollow with an entire ecosystem underneath. Now, being a lover of Journey to the Center of The Earth and At the Earth's Core, I absolutely devoured this stuff and was delighted that they took the time and effort to put it in. This actually sets itself up very well for a sequel in which we can see what else is going on beneath the already terrifying surface of Skull Island. I guess this also made me really like this character, since he was one of the few who sounded perfectly rational and aware of the absurdity of their situation. Also of credit to him is that they didn't make him a complete pansy. When they get stranded he's shouldering a pump action shotgun. It's a very small detail, but it made me enjoy the cast a lot more in that they weren't all helpless and dependent solely on Loki for protection, even if they weren't proficient. By the by, he's flanked by a young Asian scientist, and while I never learned her name either, I will grant that she gave me enough through her performance to hope that she too made it out alive.

Speaking of firearms, I'm delighted to say that all the weapons in the movie are period accurate and used with more reason and restraint than Hollywood usually exhibits. Again, small detail, but I appreciated it.

As for the island itself, we are greeted with a delightful variety of horrible creepy crawlies that try to kill our characters in a wide number of equally hideous ways. Kong fights some of them, the characters others, and each of these fights are good. Remember the giant spider in the trailer? The characters actually use smarts to kill it, rather than just screaming and shooting. It was sufficiently horrifying that I was actually really tense during that scene. These are really the meat of the movie. As a pleasant change of pace, not every critter on Skull Island is programmed to kill humans on sight. We actually see a few more mundane animals like axis dear. Or in a scene I really appreciated, a giant bovine the size of an elephant and a horn boss that would have required a warehouse to have a wall big enough to hang from lurches up out of the swamp, but it doesn't attack the characters. There is a period of tension as it rises from this pool and confronts them, and several of them are terrified and on the verge of opening fire, but Loki recognizes the body language and gets them to calm down, resulting in the giant buff going on its merry way. I appreciated this, as it gave Loki more bush cred and showed that not all of these animals were mindless monsters.

And, to my surprise, we get another turn of events that gave us much more of a plot besides simply escaping. Remember that underground bubble I mentioned? Well the things living in there have woken up, and now they are coming up to say hi. These reptilian horrors are frigging awesome. It's revealed that Kong is the only thing standing between these scaly critters and overrunning the island with their terror, and thus he is needed to preserve the balance of nature. I was not expecting this! This actually makes Kong a lot more like Godzilla now. He is a terrifying and destructive force of nature that threatens human lives with his mere presence, but he is also a primal guardian that protects us from other far greater threats. This gives him a very heroic edge even as he presents a threat to the protagonists.

Also, thank Odin, there is no stupid tacked on love story. Just brothers in arms trying to save one another.

The overall action of this movie is truly a spectacle, and time after time I was amazed at the ingenuity shown to make each fight unique and engaging. In fact, the final fight between Kong and the king of these reptile monsters has a finishing move is so brutal and grotesque that my jaw dropped. It was worthy of Mortal Combat. Truly, the fights are the meat of this movie.

Without going over every single detail, I'd say Kong: Skull Island is a very fun popcorn movie that is fully worth the experience of seeing in theaters. It isn't a thinking movie or character driven. It is however an adventure that will spoil you with the intensity of its action and suck you into a world that feels like you can enter. For that I think it's worth watching. I wish they had a better setup for the plot and more fleshed out characters, and they do stand out to me, but it's hard for me to notice them when I think of the bloody action. It had all the fights we didn't get in Godzilla.

It doesn't cower and lurk in the shadow of its predecessors. It stands proudly and unapologetically as it's own thing. It isn't afraid to be different and thus lacks the edge of fear that other movies do. While definitely flawed and won't win any awards, it has a glorious fun time with its epic shots and pulse pounding action.

Also, I think this is building up for a Kong vs Godzilla movie. They directly mention Operation Monarch from the last Godzilla movie and the attempts to nuke him. It's also mentioned that Kong keeps growing and won't stop. He's already huge, but still not quite big enough to take on Godzilla. Hmmm. Will he be big enough by 2019? Could be! If they do plan on doing that movie, and they keep this brand of action going, I'm all for it. It would be a brawl for the frigging century.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Conan Exiles

Well then, yet another game has thrown its hat into the survival ring. Surprisingly this one is set in the Conan mythos. I'm a huge fan of Ark: Survival Evolved and the Conan stories written by Robert E. Howard, so when I heard about this my curiosity was piqued. It's an early access game, so obviously it has problems, but if they can be addressed and ironed out then it should be solid. The art design is gorgeous, and things look like they have a lot of atmosphere, which is very appreciated. And there's a story here as well! Precious rare for survival games.

Image result for conan exiles

Look at these screenshots. The design is absolutely gorgeous and it feels very livable. What's more, you can actually explore and investigate ancient ruins! I'm a total sucker for ruin raiding. And the Conan mythos is stuffed to the brim with delicious lore. If these developers have actually read the books and integrate that into the story and ruins, this might very well be an epic game well worthy of your time. Heck, right now I feel like I'm looking at Stygia. I would LOVE to visit Stygia and view their serpent god or fight with their dusky priests. Or plunge into the moldering depths of the Pictish wilderness, fighting bloodstained Picts waving axes and swords. Or see the jungles of Khaiti. Or the infamous icy hills of Cimmeria! The potential here is extraordinary, and I find myself salivating at the idea of a Conan game that truly implements the lore and sets you loose upon the world.

As of yet I haven't bought it, but I certainly plan to investigate further. I might do a follow up if I purchase it. We shall see!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fearsome Critters

Humanity has never been short on imagination with mythical creatures. From things such as the Greek chimera to the European werewolf we have so many strange made up critters on this earth that they could make up an entire phylum by themselves. But while most mythical creatures around the world are done with class and firmly established themselves in the world consciousness, North America has apparently created the most bizarre and least dignified figures of critter folklore imaginable. I'm not talking about Sasquatch or Caddy. Nope! They command respect and intrigue.

What I'm referring to are the likely opium and whiskey-addled tales of old time loggers known as "fearsome critters." I have to hand it to those fellows, they had an imagination I wish I had. The creatures they thought up are so unusual, illogical and strange that one has to wonder what was in the drinking water there at the time. Take for example, the so-called Splinter Cat. Ever wonder where all those snapped branches and broken tree bases come from? You might suppose its the natural work of gravity and the elements. How silly! No, it is actually the work of this cat with a wedge-shaped nose with the strength of granite that rams itself into trees with admirable gusto for reasons kept safely secret in its punch-drunk skull.

Or the Rubberado, a mole-like creature with a wonderfully rubbery hide which if eaten, gives the man rubbery skin that can withstand bullets. That one might be my personal favorite. Sure would have come in handy with the lead storms that cropped up now and again on the frontier!

Another fascinating one is the canteen fish which supposedly haunted my neck of the woods when I was in my larval stage. They must've been drank into extinction, cuz I could never find one despite all my searching and reproaching looks from my family members. That might have done something to do with my prescription dosages now that I think about it.

There's plenty more which make you question your sanity, but I find them delightfully strange. If your life is too normal and you want your daily dose of weird, take a peek at the following link where you will be treated to some good descriptions and illustrations of North Americas mythical critters. Although for the international audience, you will soon realize why we tend to stick to glorifying Greek creatures. >:D

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Folks, book addicts like me and thrift stores just don't mix well. I mean, they do, but only in the same way that a heroin addict and a drug dealer do. Technically both are getting what they want, until the addict runs out of cash and he still needs a fix. Thankfully for the most part I've been able to keep myself strong whilst sorting through various books and things that come through.

But what should happen today on my shift when I help someone out? An entire cardboard box filled with classically written volumes on the multiple facets of the American West. Sixteen books in total, each around 200 pages long, filled with delightful historical pictures and facts with a lyrical prose that makes it feel like a joy to read instead of a chore. Biting my lip to keep from salivating I flicked through the pages, my pulse pounding as I poured over what I realized were veritable treasure troves of knowledge which had heretofore eluded me. Issues which I had seen only barely glossed over in magazines or online articles were beautifully fleshed out here, going on in a level of depth that tickled me to my core.

But alas, I hath not the money to afford them! Even though they are dirt cheap and I can get a discount, I don't have the funds to get even three of them. Such is the curse of fools such as I! Doomed to see such miracles of history and literature dance before me and raise their metaphorical skirts at me, knowing that I cannot partake! What sin have I committed to see such gems slip from my fingers at this time? Also worth mentioning is that they are within that amazing realm of books printed in the 70's, making them new enough that copyrights still apply, but old enough that nobody sells them anymore.

Maybe I'll get lucky and nobody will pay any attention to them until I get my next paycheck. I haven't felt this desperate for many moons. I'm even considering borrowing money, something I haven't done in almost a decade. Pray for me dear friends! I'll either sell a few teeth for a few quick bucks or spend the next few nights weeping into my pillow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dino-Pirates of Ninja Island

Look at that title. Look. At. It. If you don't want to rush off to read anything with the title Dino-Pirates of Ninja Island, you have something fundamentally wrong with you. Man, I know that the world is kinda messed up right now, but it is genuinely hard for me to feel too bad when I see stuff like this floating around. Check this.

I seem to have a kindred spirit here! I've only read a few of the stories, but this gent has some legit talent and makes me want to learn more. Seriously dude, publish something on Amazon so I can throw my money at you!

Anyway, the setup is pretty self explanatory. There are a series of islands inhabited by dinosaurs and being traveled by pirates and various Asiatic cultures. Right off the bat I'm most interested in Two Lions, and no, it's not just because they are attractive women. It's cuz they are hard core warriors on a mission in an awesome setting and get stuff done! The artwork for them is excellent too. Just from their expressions alone you can understand their characters perfectly.

Jihanna is clearly a gal born for adventure and doesn't need much else. So being a pirate is right up her alley. All she needs is a firm blade in hand and an enemy to stick it in. She enjoys her work of combat and rapine. Subtlety isn't her thing. She's an up front spitfire and attacks like a wildfire. What's not to like?
Siu-Wai is much more subdued and finesse-oriented. She's brains and dexterity, attacking cleverly and analyzing what needs to be done. Together they make an awesome team!

In fact, I'd wager Jihanna would be right at home among the likes of Conan, Neal Fargo and other pulpy action characters.

It's not just stories either. This guy appears to have a setup to run tabletop games with rules and even an island designer. (Happy sigh) Folks. It's at times like this where I'm glad the internet exists. How else would an eccentric starved of adventure and seized with wanderlust come across stuff like this? Seriously, it's like this guy and I are on the exact same wavelength, but we're from alternate realities and ended up doing very similarly themed and designed ideas with some variations.

I sincerely hope that this setting continues to get expanded and gathers more fans. It deserves it. Good sailing lads!