Friday, June 1, 2018

JUST RELEASED- WITCHES' GAMBIT

      Aidan Ray, successful attorney—and psychic—secretly communes with the dead in a fascist Christian society that would call her “witch” and wipe her mind.
      Earth is split into separate warring theocracies who want to dominate the planet. They are on the verge of expanding their conflict into outer space.
     Michael Good, an executive who likes to live dangerously, leads a secret insurgency in Aidan’s home state.
     Fate places them together. And together, they must face a crisis that could destroy the earth.
     A mediating alien, concerned about the future of their shared universe, has come to Earth.  His galaxy is on the verge of making a preemptive strike to prevent the spread of a species that resolves its problems by murdering each other— a diseased specimen that may have to be exterminated before it infects other worlds:  humans.   
     He ponders if Earth is worth saving? And asks Aidan and Michael to plead humanity’s case to the Council of the Seven Worlds, before the Earth is destroyed.
     But to do that, they must brave the hazardous passage to another galaxy from which they may never return.
      Or have anything to return to.


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Book One of the AWARD-WINNING Seven Worlds Series
Book Two, INDIE BOOK OF THE YEAR FINALIST, DANCING WITH THE DEAD, Book Three, NEXT GENERATION INDIE GOLD MEDAL WINNER, ALVAR’S SPEAR, are available online or at select bookstores.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Woodcock in the Back Yard

Last evening, just after sundown, one of my Maltese dogs started barking furiously at something behind the garage. He looked like he was about to attack it. (For those of you who have only seen Maltese Show dogs on TV, they are one of the oldest known breeds, carried on ships by the Phoenicians and later the Maltese as effective rat-killers. They are lightning fast and can jump very high, so a short-cropped Maltese dog can easily kill a fairly large rodent, or in this case, a bird). 

I called him off and hustled out there---to find a large woodcock doing what woodcock do when threatened--staying perfectly still and depending on their amazing camouflage to protect them. Unfortunately, their scent is not camouflaged. I moved all three dogs into the house and approached close enough to see that it appeared uninjured, and since it was about three feet from my grass clipping compost bin, which is full of earthworms (a Woodcock banquet)--earthworms are their preferred food. They have a beak that is fixed at the back with a movable tip to help them root out worms in the soft soil they frequent), I decided that was why it had paused in my backyard on its migration back up north. Woodcock tend to fly at night, so I told the bird "No one is going to hurt you--enjoy your feast." 

I just left it alone, went out this morning to see it had moved on. It's probably gone across Lake Erie into Canada by now.

Monday, March 5, 2018

An Evening at the Chess Club

I don’t know what your image of a chess club is, but chances are, it’s erroneous. For one thing, it’s not overstuffed leather chairs and brandy. Most chess clubs manage to scrape a meeting location together thanks to a local school, service club or business. And not all chess players are geniuses. (Einstein was a mediocre chess player). But, chances are, you will probably meet a bunch of local characters, male and female, young, old and in-between. And it’s not stodgy. Unless you come into a rated tournament, when silence and concentration are the rule, you’ll encounter some interesting conversations, behaviors and some very interesting chess moves.
Like "The Screw" --screwing the piece firmly into the square which gives the impression of great scientific solidity--as practiced by the past World Champion Smyslov.
Or the "La Delicatesse" move, where, pinky in the air, the piece is not lifted at all, nor touched with the forefinger, but delicately slid with the two middle fingers into a crushing mating position guaranteed to make strong men weep.
Or its antithesis, "The Sledgehammer" gambit, where you have a hopelessly lost game, so you lift a piece high in the air and bring it down on the board with such force that all the other pieces are sent flying and you hope your opponent cannot reconstruct the position so you have to start over.
You may witness "The Sucker Punch", where one player maintains a constant patter of comment on the game, suggesting better moves for his opponent, and ultimately suggesting a worse, in fact, a terrible move, after which he sweeps the piece off the board with a loud chuckle.
Maybe you will encounter one of my favorites to watch: "The Whirling Dervish", where a piece--preferably a Knight--is lifted from the board and flown around in circles through the air, finally coming to rest on a square it could never have reached from its original position and forking your King and Rook.

Or maybe, you'll just have some fun and play a few games of chess with some new friends.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

BREAD AND CIRCUSES

This phrase began around 100 AD, when the Roman poet, Juvenal, pointed out the erosion of civic duty among the Roman population, who no longer cared about its historical birthright of political involvement—republicanism. (In the sense of creating a republic of representatives).

In the Roman Empire, it was bread, chariot races and gladiatorial games that filled the belly and distracted the mind, allowing emperors to rule as they saw fit.

The notion is particularly apropos today, Super bowl Sunday. The culmination of a season of NFL contests that more and more resemble gladiatorial combat—just look at the lifelong injuries if you doubt that. We have NASCAR, the modern chariot races, with death and dismemberment as spectacular penalties, cable and satellite TV with 300 plus channels, mega-lotteries, offering the tantalizing hope of becoming millionaires, at odds worse than being hit by lightning. Supermarkets crammed full of junk food, filled with sugar---six times more addictive than cocaine—and salt, and chemicals designed to tickle the taste buds and distract consumers from the reality of what they are putting into their bodies.

Please note, I am not opposed per se to football. Nor NASCAR. Nor lotteries. Nor TV. Nor junk food. I am opposed to what they are used for by today's emperors-- politicians and the power-elite. Diversion, distraction, satisfaction of the immediate, shallowest desires of a population, as a way to keep them ignorant, complacent, and slaves to debt while those politicians and powerful persons continue to rob them of their money, health, intellect, and moral backbone. To make them no longer care about the historical birthright of the human race-----to grow wiser, stronger, more loving, more inclusive, more—dare we say it?—godlike in our imitation of greater beings we claim to exist and care for us.

So, while you’re watching the Super bowl spectacle, picking up a six-pack, Cheetos, and a mega-lottery ticket—or not—take a moment to wonder----does this resemble the decline of the Roman Republic? Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.





Sunday, January 14, 2018

WHO AM I?

Writers are artists. Our medium is words. And as artists, we have to ask ourselves, “Who am I?” What defines me? Am I a Glen Campbell or a Tommy Smothers? Am I a Maurice Chevalier or an Edith Piaf?
During the Vietnam conflict, Glen Campbell decided he was an entertainer and it was not his role to take part in the politics of pro or anti-war factions. Tommy Smothers decided otherwise. And Tommy paid for that decision. His TV show was cancelled. For his activism, he gained some fans and he lost others. And for his decision, Campbell gained some fans and lost others.
During World War II, Maurice Chevalier decided he was an entertainer and it was not his role to do other than entertain, even if it was for those who had overrun his country. Edit Piaf was an active member of the Resistance. Obviously, she was not found out, for she would have paid a far more serious price than Tommy Smothers. After the war, some Frenchmen accused Chevalier of collaboration, which, he denied.
In these days of trumpery, artists must also ask themselves “Who am I?” And in asking that question, I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.  He who accepts evil without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it.”
I believe in the power of thoughts and prayers. I believe in the power of becoming myself what I want the world to be. I believe in the power of words to place people in positions where they can change their own minds about something. I believe, as Viktor Frankl pointed out, you cannot make anyone do anything they truly do not want to do. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Choice always intervenes. So I choose.
I'm done with trying to not alienate GOP voters, Trump supporters who otherwise might be amenable to changing their views. Time is up. I'm done with that. The man is deeply disturbed and objectively reprehensible. If you can't see that, it's time to think long and hard about what that says about you. Whatever price I pay for this decision, in my mind, is better than the price I would pay for silence in the face of evil.