Friday, July 31, 2009

More Cool Art

I found these today and thought I'd share.

Hope in a Storm

“Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things - with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope.”

Corazon Aquino

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Visitor

Mark Delgado shuffled slowly towards his kitchen, his slippered feet making almost no noise on the polished wooden floor. Though there was a time in the past when he used to make fun of his mother for wearing slippers instead of proper shoes indoors, he found that, in his old age, wearing shoes all day was simply too much strain on his aging arches. Now, it was he that was being made fun of for the comfortable house shoes he always had on. It had become a favorite jibe of his nephew who loved to remark on his Uncle Mark's pressed corduroy slacks, laundered button down shirts, and flimsy slippers.

Still, Mark's visits from his nephew Vic were always the highlight of his week. Being a gay bachelor who was always too afraid to meet other men, Mark now had no one in his life with whom to share his old age. No children, no companion, and not even a pet due to his allergies. At 65 years of age, Mark held no delusions that he would find anyone who would be interested in him now. Once a very handsome young man, Mark now joked that his beauty had faded away with his feet.

Upon entering the kitchen, Mark turned the flame on under a tea kettle filled with water and headed towards his pantry to grab the tin containing his precious Heritage No. 42 Earl Grey tea. Even though it was a bit of an expense, he had it shipped to him every month from Harrod's in London. Having experienced this particular tea blend while visiting London as a younger man, Mark found that its delicious citrusy flavor still reminded him of his time in England and thought the expense was justified.

Just as he placed his slippered foot onto the first step of the pantry stepladder, Mark felt himself lose his balance and fall forward, striking his head first on the wooden shelving and then on the corner of the stainless steel Viking range. For a moment, he felt as if he were floating away before his eyesight failed him, and he blacked out.

Returning to consciousness, Mark found himself laying on his back on his kitchen floor. His head was slightly achy and he had trouble focusing his eyes at first, but eventually he managed to get back to his feet. Chuckling ruefully at his clumsiness, Mark resolved not to tell his nephew Vic of his fall feeling that the news would only worry him. Grabbing the boiling water off of the stove for his cup of Earl Grey, Mark settled into his favorite leather chair and looked out towards the cul de sac to people watch. Oddly enough, he saw no one outdoors. The children who normally rode their bikes on the rounded street were nowhere to be seen. Their parents weren't outside watering their carefully maintained yards and gossiping across the hedges either. Now, that was unusual.

Suddenly, movement from across the street caught his eye. There was a man standing on the sidewalk across the way. He was oddly dressed for a summer evening, Mark thought, with his black suit and black fedora. Surely those dark clothes just absorbed the sun's heat. As the old man continued to watch him, the oddly dressed stranger crossed the street, walking very casually as if he had no particular destination in mind. But even so, it appeared to Mark that the dark suited man's eyes had locked on to his own. Mark began to feel slightly apprehensive, his heart beating faster and his palms growing moist with perspiration.

For some morbid reason, Mark found himself remembering one of his grandmother's old Mexican folktales. She used to say that she would know when it was her time to die because death would come for her dressed in black. "I don't know exactly what he will look like, mijo," she used to say, "but he will be dressed from head to toe in the darkest black and carrying a silver guadaña, a scythe, to separate my soul from the ties of this world."

Looking quickly at the approaching figure, Mark could see that the man was younger than he had originally thought, looking like he was in his mid-twenties. The severely dark suit had given him the air of someone much older. He had pale skin and pale eyes that were set in the most beautiful face Mark had ever seen. From what Mark could tell, he was slender without being thin. It was more of a physique typical of an Olympic diver than anything else, and if anyone could make that comparison, it was Mark. He had always loved the summer Olympics, not just for the competition, but for the simple reason that he had always admired the sleek and muscular forms of the swimmers.

His reverie cut short by a knock at the door, Mark put down his cup of Earl Grey and rose to answer the front door. Opening the heavy mahogany door with a small amount of trepidation (Thanks Grandma, he thought) Mark saw the man in black standing on his porch. Looking quickly for a large scythe, he chuckled slightly when he didn't see one in evidence.

Frowning at Mark's laugh, the man said, "I'm sorry, is something funny, sir?"

Shaking his head and smiling, Mark answered, "No, no, I am sorry for that. I meant no disrespect to you, young man. Is there something I can help you with?"

Looking at him up close, Mark could see that his original assessment was correct. The person at his door was the most attractive man he had ever seen. His eyes were actually a light blue and his skin pale enough to be almost translucent. It was clear to Mark that he didn't get much sun. As the stranger removed his hat for politeness sake, Mark could see that his hair was blonde.

"I hope so, sir," the man responded. "My name is Gregory Sterling, and I am looking for Mark Delgado. I am hoping that he lives here. You see, I've been asked by an acquaintance of mine to find him and deliver this letter." Pulling a buff colored envelope out of his coat pocket, the man continued "You see, he dictated a letter on his deathbed to Mark Delgado, confessing that he had loved him for years in silence and wanted him to finally know."

Mark stepped back in shock. A man had loved him? Loved him without his knowledge and didn't want to take that secret to his grave? Intrigued at the story the young Gregory had related, Mark invited him in. Once they arrived into the parlor, Gregory sat in one of the armchairs, his black clad legs draped casually one over the other. As Mark sat in the other armchair, he cast his admiring eye over the young man once again. Seeing the way he moved, the way he carried himself, and the way he spoke with his hands, Mark was certain that young Gregory was gay himself. Gregory's "acquaintance" very well may have been an older man who enjoyed the younger's companionship and love. It was possible.

Grabbing his reading glasses and unfolding the letter, Mark read the words in silence. He recognized the name of Gregory's mysterious companion, an old college chum named Sebastian Moran. According to the letter, Sebastian had fallen in love with Mark almost immediately, but was too frightened to admit his own homosexuality. He had eventually married, had children, and refused to acknowledge his attraction for other men. As a result, he had suffered anxiety and depression throughout most of his life, and shared a bitter and loveless marriage with someone who deserved better. Now that he was dying, he wanted to finally tell the world about who he really was.

Mark put the letter down in his lap. He couldn't believe what he was reading. He remembered Sebastian quite clearly. He had been a beautifully built blonde man, very attractive and quiet. He remembered even having a slight crush on him for a while. Now, wasn't that ironic. If only one of them had admitted to their attraction, each of their lives may have turned out so differently. Perhaps he and Sebastian would have fallen in love and even spent their lives together. Mark wouldn't have had such a lonely life; perhaps Sebastian would have had a happier one.

Looking up at Gregory, Mark finally noticed the resemblance the young man had to his memory of Sebastian. "You are his son, aren't you, Gregory."

Gregory didn't answer. He just stood up and held out his hand. "I was asked to dance with you once before I left, if it's okay with you, Mark."

With tears in his eyes, Mark placed a CD in his stereo system and punched in the track number of a slow song. Feeling Gregory's hands on his shoulders, Mark turned and put his arms around the beautiful young man. Deep down, Mark was thinking that he should be feeling weirded out about what was happening, but for some reason, he felt relaxed and happy in Gregory's arms. With his eyes closed and his head upon Gregory's shoulder, Mark didn't see Gregory take a silver blade out of his coat pocket. Even when the spectral cords that bound him to the mortal world were severed, Mark continued to dance in the arms of the beautiful man in black, imagining he was young again.

Vic Delgado, Mark's nephew finally arrived at his uncle's home. There were two police cars and an ambulance parked there already. As Vic entered the familiar home, he steeled himself for what he was about to see.

"Mr. Delgado?" one of the officers asked. At Vic's nod, the officer said, "If you would come into the kitchen, sir, we are waiting for you there."

In the kitchen, thought Vic, how ironic. It was Uncle Mark's favorite room in the whole house. As soon as he walked in, Vic could see his uncle's dead body lying on the floor. He was dressed in his favorite pants and house shoes. Vic smiled slightly at that. He never could understand how his uncle, always so neatly dressed, could love those ratty looking shoes.

After identifying his uncle's body, Vic asked if the police could tell what had happened. They explained that they couldn't say anything officially, but that it appeared the old man had fallen over his stepladder and hit his head twice, once on the pantry shelves and once on the stove corner. The blows, or perhaps even just one, had killed him instantly.

Vic looked down at his uncle. He knew that Uncle Mark had never been truly happy. He had always regretted not exploring who he was. But even so, Vic was happy to see that his uncle's face didn't look pained. In fact, the old man was smiling. Vic hoped this was because death had come for him in the shape of a good looking man.

Wouldn't his uncle have loved that.

The History of Gay Civil Unions

Gay Civil Unions Sanctioned in Medieval Europe

By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 27 August 2007 08:50 am ET

Civil unions between male couples existed around 600 years ago in medieval Europe, a historian now says.

Historical evidence, including legal documents and gravesites, can be interpreted as supporting the prevalence of homosexual relationships hundreds of years ago, said Allan Tulchin of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

If accurate, the results indicate socially sanctioned same-sex unions are nothing new, nor were theytaboo in the past.

“Western family structures have been much more varied than many people today seem to realize," Tulchin writes in the September issue of the Journal of Modern History. "And Western legal systems have in the past made provisions for a variety of household structures.”

For example, he found legal contracts from late medieval France that referred to the term "affrèrement," roughly translated as brotherment. Similar contracts existed elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe, Tulchin said.

In the contract, the "brothers" pledged to live together sharing "un pain, un vin, et une bourse," (that's French for one bread, one wine and one purse). The "one purse" referred to the idea that all of the couple's goods became joint property. Like marriage contracts, the "brotherments" had to be sworn before a notary and witnesses, Tulchin explained.

The same type of legal contract of the time also could provide the foundation for a variety of non-nuclear households, including arrangements in which two or more biological brothers inherited the family home from their parents and would continue to live together, Tulchin said.

But non-relatives also used the contracts. In cases that involved single, unrelated men, Tulchin argues, these contracts provide “considerable evidence that the affrèrés were using affrèrements to formalize same-sex loving relationships."

The ins-and-outs of the medieval relationships are tricky at best to figure out.

"I suspect that some of these relationships were sexual, while others may not have been," Tulchin said. "It is impossible to prove either way and probably also somewhat irrelevant to understanding their way of thinking. They loved each other, and the community accepted that.”


So, apparently Pat Robertson and his hate-filled Moral Majority are wrong. His organization argues that the push for gay marriage is a new phenomenon and that gay marriage has never been legitimized by a community. Hence, he says, history is on the side of hetero-only marriages and should stay that way. It turns out, though, that gay unions have existed in the past and were given the legitimacy of the government. Furthermore, the community around them recognized these unions as respectable and binding and observed them as they did the unions of heterosexuals. Interesting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Very Cool Art

I found these interesting images whilst trolling around the chans the other day. I was holding them as inspiration for a story but realized that I don't really write about animals. Plus, they are so very awesome, I thought maybe a few of you guys would want to use them as wallpaper. I'm currently using the Phoenix as my background image.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shadows of Things to Come

The sun sparkled on the flowing water and apple blossoms fluttered through the air as young Frodo Baggins cast his line into the water yet again. He had promised his Uncle Bilbo freshly caught trout for their second supper that evening, and he was not about to make himself a liar. He knew that Uncle Bilbo had not made any other plans for second supper because he was counting on the river trout. Should the young hobbit fail to come through, they would both go hungry that evening.

Feeling a tug on his line, Frodo grabbed his fishing rod and gave it a quick tug, hoping to set the hook firmly in the mouth of the nibbling fish. He pulled once and felt some resistance. Definitely a good sign. He pulled a second time and saw a large rainbow-bellied trout leap out of the water, his hook and line firmly embedded in its mouth.

Frodo yelped with boyish excitement and held on to his pole tightly, his fingers clenching as hard as he could, his eyes opened wide. Even though the sun’s reflection was sending painful reflections into his eyes, Frodo refused to look away or even to blink. He just knew that, should he look away for even a moment, the fish would escape, and he just couldn’t let that happen.

He watched as the line began to move erratically through the water. Though it was difficult to get a clear view of the trout in the quickly muddying river, his sharp young eyes were locked on to the large fish and refused to be distracted. Water splished and splashed onto his feet, the fine hair on their tops going limp with the weight of the water.

Hauling with all of the strength in his small arms, Frodo slowly but inexorably dragged the struggling trout onto the bank. Once the fish was securely on land and was in no danger of leaping back into the water, Frodo collapsed onto his knees and admired his catch. The trout was beautiful. Its body was covered in shiny silver scales that sparkled on land like sequins; its belly was colored with splotches of colors like a rainbow, blue, red, and yellow dominating the scaly palette. In total, counting its head and tail, the trout would have to measure five feet.

Frodo punched the air in triumph and laughed, his head thrown back to look up at the sky. If only his dad could have been there to have seen that! An avid fisherman before his death, Frodo’s father would have been amazed and proud of his son’s angling abilities. He had often spoken of taking his son fishing once he was old enough to hold a rod. Unfortunately, both of the boy’s parents had died in a boating accident before that could happen. But still, he was happy with his Uncle Bilbo and that’s all that mattered now.

Cleaning the fish quickly at the river’s edge, Frodo swung the two trout fillets over his shoulder and began the walk back to Bag End, his uncle’s and his residence. As he neared the edge of The Shire, though, he walked past old Mr. McGrubber’s house. He saw the elderly hobbit sitting outside and watching the other hobbits go about their business. Frodo knew that Mr. McGrubber lived alone and rarely had visitors. Stepping up to the old hobbit’s gate, Frodo greeted him and regaled him with the tale of his recent victory over the trout. Mr. McGrubber laughed and congratulated him. He told Frodo about his own fishing exploits and said that he hadn’t tasted trout in many years since he was unable to make the walk to the river anymore.

Feeling sorry for the lonely old man, Frodo handed him one of the trout fillets and wished him a good day. This meant, of course, that he and his uncle would have less to eat that night, and Frodo was already anticipating the hunger pangs he would be feeling later on. But even so, he knew the lightness and joy that came from being kind to Mr. McGrubber would more than quiet whatever discomfort may come. Whistling under his breath, Frodo continued his walk back to Bag End.

Stepping out from the cover of the gnarled and ancient tree, the grey-clad man took off his overlarge hat and wiped his hand across his perspiring brow. Gesturing toward Frodo with his staff, the man ran the fingers of his other hand through his long grey hair and said, “So there he is, Doctor, the one who may be called upon later in service to Middle Earth. What do you think?”

Looking quite different from the robed wizard, the man referred to as Doctor stepped away from the tree as well. Dressed in black trousers, a silver waistcoat, and a long black coat, the second figure leaned against a walking stick and replied, “I think you’ve made a good choice, Gandalf. The boy is strong, determined, refuses to give up, and shows great compassion. I don’t see how you could find anyone better.”

Nodding in agreement, the grey wanderer known as Gandalf said, “He’s just so young and kind hearted. I shudder to think of the burden that will be placed upon him, and the scars that burden will leave.”

The Doctor looked at his old friend in concern. The burdens Gandalf himself had carried down the ages were enormous. He knew his friend felt the loss of each and every one of his mortal friends who had fallen throughout the countless years.

“As you are fond of saying, old friend, ours is not to question our tasks. Ours is but to decide what to do with the time that is given to us. And so far, you have made exceedingly great choices in extraordinary circumstances.”

Smiling at the Doctor’s words, Gandalf pulled out his long pipe and filled it with tobacco. Placing his finger in the bowl, he conjured a spark of fire and lit the dry leaves. Through wreaths of smoke he glanced at his companion and asked, “Shall we see what is on special today at The Green Dragon?”

Wrinkling his nose in response, the Doctor grabbed his chin with his thumb and forefinger and stared up into the sky. “Tell me, Gandalf, have I ever shown you my collection of dragon eggs?" At the wizard’s shake of his head, the Doctor continued, “Then let me play host this evening. Let's retire to the castle, and I'll show you wonders beyond compare. Besides", he said with a wink,"my sixth sense tells me you could use a night out.”

And so saying, the Doctor gestured with his hand, causing a thick fog to rise from the ground and envelope them both. Moments later, when the wind blew the small cloud away, both men were gone.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Dr Mandragora: From the Maudlin to the Macabre

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nurse, Bring Me A Bottle of Febreeze, Stat!

I just realized something.

I've mentioned a couple of times that I have been wanting to do a skaters post here but have been unable to locate pictures that I found suitable. Well, just a few moments ago, I had an epiphany.

I can't find what my mind deems "suitable" pictures of skaters because the boys in the photos all look like they smell bad.

That's right. They look stinky.

I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell, so much so that I can smell food that I'm cooking and determine if it needs more salt. Well, that sense of smell was even more powerful when I was younger. You can imagine how that wreaked havok on me as a child in elementary school. Kids don't brush their teeth well, kids fight against bathing regularly, or they bath at the end of the day, get dirty, and go to sleep a bit smelly.

I remember one time when I was in the third grade, my class was lining up to go inside and I got stuck behind this one girl who always smelled. She smelled so bad that her nickname amongst us all was Stinky Jeanette. Well, I had to stand behind her and, against all hope, it was not one of her better days.

I felt my stomach start churning and I started coughing (never a good sign) which was followed by dry heaves. As the line started to move inside the building, my best friend Joe asked me if I was okay. As I nodded and tried to say yes, I vomited on the pavement.


Needless to say, I was sent to the school nurse, who I swear was the real life inspiration for The Trunchbull from the book Matilda. She didn't like kids, and she definitely didn't like me. Truth be told, I hated her right back. You see, I was always getting sick to my stomach at school due to my issues with extreme anxiety. She always thought I was faking to get out of school and grilled me like a Reichstag interrogator whenever I went in there. Damn white smocked cow.

Anyway. Where was I..............oh yes, smells.

As I look around for photos of skaters, every one I find shows a sweaty, grimy looking character wearing pants that look like they need to be washed, underwear showing that to my insane eye look like they reek of butt b.o. Their hair is slicked with sweat, their caps have a sweat ring that I know is bitter and foul, and their shoes are old and ratty. You just know there are some nasty smells wafting off of those babies.

Each skater photo I come across is ripe with imagined body smells and stinks that turn my stomach slightly, so I wind up thumbing past and, eventually, find nothing that I want to put up on the blog, much less even right click and save. So, with that bit of therapy-worthy info in your possession, I think it is very safe to assume that you will not be seeing a skater boy post after all unless I find some guys that are into skating, not sweating, and wearing clean clothes.

Yeah, I don't think so either.

Just Because I Found It Funny

I lol'd

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Unbelievably Sensuous and Sexy

The Gate of Eternity

The Angel stood at his post at the Gate of Eternity. He had been the keeper there for millenia, chosen for his dedication to duty and his love for mankind. He had made it a point of honor on his part that no minion of the Dark One had ever snuck past. Now, there had been instances when one or more minions had battled their way though the Gate to cause death and destruction on Earth, but those were the rules by which he had to abide. Any spirit, good or bad, that entered the mortal world through the Gate could do as they wished with no interference from the Angelic Guard.

The Gate he guarded was one of four main entry points for spirits, both good and evil, to enter the mortal world and gain access to man. The evil spirits, the Spawned, reveled in tempting mankind to perform misdeeds, to harm their fellows, and to turn away from the Light. The Host, on the other hand, did whatever they could to bring as many mortals as they could towards the Light, by encouraging kindness and compassion. And despite the fact that the Angel, as a representative of neutrality, could not interfere in the affairs of either the Host of the Spawned, he secretly wished the Host well.

The affinity he had for the Host, however, did not keep him from challenging and blocking their passage through the doorway, just as he did for the Spawned. As an Angel, his job was to keep mankind safe from the manipulations of either side, to give mankind the chance to make their own destiny and choose their own paths. The interference of the Host or the Spawned both made mankind's decisions false and forced. That was not what the Creator had planned.

Hearing a slight sound behind him, the Angel turned his head and saw four glowing figures rushing towards him, each holding a weapon. Two glowed a bright white while the others glowed a purple so deep that it looked black. Bringing up his sword, the Angel fended off the attacks of the two Host with the white auras and one of the purple Spawned. The second Spawned circled around behind him, making for the unprotected doorway.

Parrying the three attacks and pushing the smaller figures back, the Angel stepped towards the Gate, barring the evil spirit passage. The Spawned fell back and crouched, its cowardice in the face of the mighty Angel robbing it of the ability to flee. As the Angel raised his sword to dispatch the foul creature, he felt a stabbing pain in his shoulder and staggered forward. Spinning around, he saw that one of the Host had drawn a bow and was fitting another silver arrow to fire.

The Angel leapt towards the archer, giving the cowering Spawned an opening towards the Gate. With a glee filled shriek, the evil spirit bounded through the arched Gate and disappeared. Frowning in anger, the Angel struck at the Host armed with the bow, snapping the shining weapon and striking the Host in the arm. In an explosion of silver dust, the archer was no more.

The remaining Host and Spawned came towards the Angel, weapons weaving a pattern around them. As one, they attacked the Angel in an attempt to drive him away from the doorway. With the silver arrow still in his shoulder, the Angel was hard pressed to stand his ground and was slowly forced back. When he was pushed far enough from the glittering archway of the Gate, the two spirits turned and ran towards it, each hoping to make it through, to either tempt or save mankind as per their natures.

Making a quick decision, the Angel threw his sword like an oversized dagger, impaling the Spawned between the shoulder blades and watched as the spirit exploded into black dust. Throwing itself forward, the last of the Host jumped through the Gate, disappearing into the void beyond, its baritone laughter echoing back to the wounded Angel.

Walking over to pick up his weapon, the Angel shook his head in disappointment. Two spirits had managed to make their way to mankind, to interfere with the Creator's Great Work. Well, at least he had kept the balance in check once again, with one Host and one Spawned making it through. Ultimately he knew that he could never keep them all away from mankind. He was one Angel; the spirits, on the other hand, numbered in the tens of thousands. But, he could try his best to keep the interference to a minimum and to keep their manipulations balanced.

He knew that allowing one side or the other to gain an upper hand would spell disaster for the easily influenced mortals. Darkness and Light. The truth was that each had a place in the world. Light cannot exist without casting dark shadows, and darkness would be nothing without the light to define it. The Creator knew this and so allowed the two forces to continue to battle for the attentions of man.

The Angel again began to pace around the Gate, keeping his eyes open for more interference. It was not his place to question the Creator, but he would do his utmost to help mankind make their own choices. Vowing to allow no more spirits through that day, the Angel planted himself at the Gate, his eyes searching the darkness.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gratuitous Hotness

This blog is not meant to be a picture blog filled with photos of scantily clad guys looking hot and steamy. But, as I've explained before, as someone who has been closeted his entire life, I am finding it refreshing to openly admire good looking males. So, with that in mind, here is another post with gratuitous hot bodies.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Colorful Birds

The abundance of color in nature has always amazed me. Flowers, animals, fish, birds, and even the seasons themselves are filled with such wondrous beauty. Though I myself am not, nor ever have been, a lover of the outdoors, the sights that you see almost make up for the sweat running down your back and the unpleasant odors that accompany it.

I was going to write about the various birds we used to have when I was a child, but I suspect everyone is tired of hearing my inane stories. Lord knows I'm sick of remembering.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Curious Case of the Girl in Red

One of my most trusted mentors once gave me this piece of advice: never work with kids or animals. He was so adamant about this that I made it a point to never get involved with cases involving mortal children. As to the animals, sentient Creatures are so rare, I didn't think that would be a difficult ban to maintain. Well, as my life so often goes awry, I should have known better than to count on smooth sailing. There was, as you probably guessed, one time that I had no choice in the matter and was stuck working with both. Now don't get me wrong. I love children, and I love animals. It's just that I don't like them around where I am. In pictures, they are very precious. In person, not so much so.

Well, it so happens that, once upon a time, I was visiting my dear friend Wilhelm Grimm at Kassel. Being the chief librarian there, he had written to inform me that he had found a copy of The Codex of Solomon, one of the most infamous books of black sorcery ever written, and wanted me to take it away from the library for safe keeping. He knew, as did I, that any mortal trespassing within the pages of the book would be transfigured into something frightful and evil.

Between the time his letter found me and the time it took for me to ride to Kassel in my private coach, 3 weeks passed before I was to be found knocking on the door to Wilhelm's residence as the moon was rising that cool autumn night. As soon as he opened the door, I knew he was going to deliver some sort of bad news, since he was looking very grim, if you'll pardon the pun. Ushering me inside, Wilhelm informed me that The Codex had been stolen from the safe in the Kassel library, so he no longer had it in his possession. Even worse, he feared the book had been taken by a certain Mrs. Annabeth Gower, an old widow who the town suspected of being a witch. Should she read through The Codex of Solomon, she would surely gain enough knowledge and power to become more than a simple hedge witch and be twisted to the book's evil purpose to boot. I knew I could not allow the evil of the Codex to be loosed upon the world.

I informed Wilhelm of my decision to track down both the book and Mrs. Gower first thing in morning, and asked him if I might lodge with him during my stay in Kassel. Being a dear and very close friend, Wilhelm readily agreed. That night, since it was rather cool, Wilhelm invited me to share his bed for warmth. I certainly wasn't going to say no to such a tempting invitation. Wilhelm was, in case I have not yet said, extremely handsome. In fact, the last time he had visited me at Castle Mandragora, I told him that he was my sleeping beauty, to which he laughed and said that sounded like the title to a children's tale. I can tell you, though, that what transpired next was not appropriate for children, though there was a bit of tail involved, if you know what I mean. We must have fallen asleep still in each other's embrace because I found myself still grasping his beanstalk when I awoke in the middle of the night.

Come morning, no pun intended, I set out to the library with Wilhelm to examine the safe for any clues that might have been left behind by the individual with stole the book. Before we had even made it halfway to our destination, however, we were accosted by a most disagreeable little girl and her hulking monster of a pet. The child was dressed in a tattered looking greyish dress that had clearly seen better days, her shoulders and head covered in a red hooded cape. Her eyes looked rather wild and, with the axe she was carrying, looked more than a little crazed. Her pet looked even worse. It was a Wolf and stood on its hind legs, towering over us all, its fur matted and smelly, its eyes bright with a cunning intelligence.

When Wilhelm and I tried to walk around the pair, the Wolf growled menacingly and stretched out its arm to block my way. Frowning at the beast's insolence and ignoring Wilhelm's gasp of surprise, I raised my walking stick in preparation of burning the foul creature to ash when the girl spoke.

"I am assuming you to be Dr Mandragora, sir," she said in a rather familiar tone. "The townspeople all said Herr Grimm would call you in to help, since you two are such close friends."

Choosing to ignore her cheeky remark, I introduced myself to her and explained what task was currently occupying my time. When I confirmed that I was going to track down both the book and Mrs. Gower, the girl, whose name was Redaleine, or Red for short, informed me that she would be tagging along with me, since Mrs. Gower was her grandmother. Furthermore, she informed me, she knew that she would be able to talk her grandmother into returning the book quietly with no possibility of anyone being harmed. She just didn't know the location of her grandmother's summer cottage and needed help finding her. I found this to be rather convenient and very suspicious. When I asked her why she was willing to help me, she simply said that she owed her grandmother and this would help to relieve that debt. I wasn't completely satisfied with her answer, but saw no reason to not trust the girl and let her come along.

Using my skills in the magical arts, I tracked the book across several miles of twisted and dark forest, the Wolf and Red following along behind. We eventually came to a cottage tucked away between tall pine trees, its door and windows shuttered up tight. Quietly walking up to the place and checking for magical signatures, I was hoping we had found the right place. As luck would have it, there was the distinct presence of Magick in the home of a strength that I knew could only come from an artifact of extreme power.

Beckoning the others closer, I said, "We must be cautious now. The book is definitely inside."

At that pronouncement, the wild-eyed Red shrieked like a crazed person. "I knew it!" she screamed, lifting her face to the sun and laughing maniacally. "The old woman thought she could keep me from the book, but its power will still be mine! Wolf, kill them both."

At those words, the Wolf turned on my dear Wilhelm and slashed its claws across his chest, blood spurting from the wounds like a fountain. Wilhelm staggered backwards and fell, his hand scrabbling in his coat pocket for something. The Wolf turned to me and growled, "One pretty boy down, one to go."

Behind me, I could hear Red hacking at the thick wooden door with her axe and yelling, "Come out, old woman, and give me what is mine! You won't escape from me again!"

It was very clear to me that I had made a terrible mistake. The Widow Gower had not stolen the book of sorcery to use its magic for herself. She had stolen it to keep its power out of the hands of her crazed granddaughter and to keep her town safe. And now, thanks to me, I had led the fiend right to the book. I knew I had seconds to act before the Wolf attacked me and before Red broke through the door and seized the Codex.

Just as I raised my hand to destroy the Wolf, the creature sprang at me, claws extended, his eyes boring into my own. A bolt of razor sharp ice exploded from my outstretched hand, grazing the Wolf's left side, knocking it off balance enough so that it merely crashed into me without striking out with its claws. I saw the creature jump up in a flash, its jaws opened wide to rip my throat out. I was a bit stunned from the fall and didn't have enough time to compose a spell to defend myself. I thought my life was over. But before the monster could strike, I heard three shots ring out loudly in the forest and saw the Wolf stiffen in surprise. As it toppled over dead, I saw my dear Wilhelm up on one knee, the pistol he had been carrying in his coat pocket still smoking in his right hand, his left clutching his chest. Dear old Wilhelm!

Standing up as fast as I could, I saw Red's axe finally rip through the door, the girl then running inside the small home, her cloak billowing out behind her. Grasping my walking stick in my left hand, I ran after her, hoping to keep her from opening the Codex. The evil locked within its pages needed only a small opening to escape.

As I rounded a corner, I saw the evil child throw her axe towards an elderly old woman who was crouched in a corner, the Codex clutched in front of her. With a sickening sound, the heavy weapon struck her in the chest. Falling in slow motion, the old woman dropped the Codex, its covers falling open as a painful dark light exploded out of its pages. Red laughed in triumph and walked over to where the book lay open on the floor. Bending over, she reached for the book, a wicked grin on her face.

I only had seconds to act, so I did the first thing that came to mind. I raised my hand towards the girl and fired another bolt of ice. When the sharp ice slammed into Red's back, it also pushed her forward. With a terrible screech, the bleeding form of Red and her riding hood fell towards the book and was sucked into the stream of dark light. As her screams faded to nothing, I walked over and closed the covers of The Codex of Solomon.

I got Wilhelm and the book back to town in short order. Deciding to say nothing of what transpired to the towns people, I stayed for several more days to nurse Wilhelm back to full health. After all, he did save my life and was my closest friend. During our conversations, he mentioned that he was considering writing down an account of our adventure with Red and the Wolf. I told him he could do whatever he wanted but didn't think anyone would read it.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Dr Mandragora: From the Maudlin to the Macabre

Portrait in Smoke

What do you see in the smoke?
A woman or a wizard?

Picture "borrowed" from Sarah Schloo's Photostream

What a Boy Wants

I ran across this picture somewhere on the internet and it immediately caught my eye, probably because it initially registered as a guy in undies to me.

This drawing is supposed to represent what most men want in the ideal girlfriend.Let's take it apart bit by bit, shall we.

First off, the girl is sitting around in her underwear playing a Nintendo DS. The bed is unmade and her hair seems uncombed. Her undies are tight enough to let us know she is a female.

If we look at her bedroom, I am assuming that her posters, books, etc. are meant to give us an appreciation for what her interests are. I see right away that on the floor is a PSP as well as two video game systems (an Xbox 360 and a WII) with their handheld controllers, and a Guitar Hero guitar tucked behind the tv. The girl is obviously very much into games.

The posters on the wall suggest she likes Japanese anime, comic books, and lurking around on 4chan's /b/ channel.

She has a rather large plasma television set and is watching The Colbert Report.

There are various and sundry books under the tv, but my eyes or my laptop screen don't allow me to see the titles well enough to read them, but even so, I think I have seen enough to draw a general conclusion.

The artist is suggesting that guys want someone who lounges in bed wearing underwear while watching Comedy Central, loves comics, lurks around and enjoys the irreverent humor of /b/, is into the latest tech gadgets, and who plays video games in their free time. Ok, isn't this describing 9% of guys?

So then, what I am seeing is that most guys want another guy.

Well. Who knew?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Darker Side of Being a Sidekick

Well, his name wasn't Dick Grayson for nothing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things That Go Bump in the Night

There was a time in my career when I became one of the foremost experts on ghosts. This was during a brief time in modern history when the world was overrun with spirits, specters, poltergeists, and spooks. In fact, back then, a day could not go by without one dowager widow or other running through the streets of 18th Century Mulrovia screaming that her old dead husband was returned from the grave. Really, I remember thinking, well perhaps he wouldn't be so upset if he didn't see his wife cavorting with the beautiful 18 year old stable hands. Not that I was against people cavorting with stable hands, mind you. Some of them were rather pleasant company, particularly Francois, on a cold wintry day, when the fire was crackling welcomingly. If there is one thing I love in the winter, it's lounging on a rug by a fire and getting my hands on some warm chestnuts, if you know what I mean.

Well, it so happened that one afternoon as I was seated at my favorite cafe, the Cafe du Flore, enjoying a light snack with my friend Charles, Baron of Tremant, I spied four of King Gerald XVI's Royal Guardsmen approaching at a very brisk pace. Picking up my cup and taking a sip of the Flore's most excellent brew, I watched in anticipation to see what poor soul would be accosted by the dour-faced men. It seemed that more and more people were being detained by the King these days for an ever increasing litany of crimes against the Crown.

With a stamping of hard-soled boots and a clattering of sabers, the Guardsmen stopped right before my table, their captain catching my eye. "Dr Mandragora?" he inquired politely.

Putting my cup down on the table with a sigh, I answered "I am, sir. What seems to be the problem?"

Smiling and looking around at the people watching us, the guard captain merely shrugged his shoulders and in an official sounding voice announced, "Your presence has been requested by the King, Doctor. May I suggest we hasten ourselves back to the palace?"

I was so irritated at being interrupted, I briefly considered incinerating all four Guardsmen right then and there. But, knowing full well they were simply doing their jobs, I bid adieu to my friend the Baron and followed the Guardsmen to the grand and glorious palace of the Mulrovian kings.

Upon arriving, I was quickly ushered into a side parlor where I came face to face with the most hideous woman I had ever seen in my life. Now, to be fair, I am an excellent judge of male beauty, having been an admirer of it for millenia. Female beauty, however, I am not so good at. But I think it fair to say that with her puffed and wrinkled visage, her scowling jowls, and unpleasant body odor, this woman was either very ugly or doing a great imitation of a bulldog.

The woman, I was made aware, was the mother of King Gerald XVI, and had a task for me to perform. The king, it appears, was being plagued by spirits and was forced to sleep in a side bedroom away from his wife in an attempt to protect her from harm. The king himself was waking every morning with puffy lips, bruised spots on his flesh, and was more often than not unable to sit comfortably the next day due to the pain. The night guardsmen had even reported hearing the king cry out, though since his door was locked, they were unable to see what was attacking him.

I was not aware of any spirit that assaulted its victim in such a manner and was concerned that the king had come to the attention of a demonic presence. Needless to say, I could not sit back and allow harm to come to someone when I had the ability to help them, so I accepted the Queen Mother's task with the final understanding that the king was not to know I was on the case. In a misguided effort to protect those around him, King Gerald had forbidden anyone from doing anything at all about the spirit and was content to suffer alone.

For that reason, I was to be found that night standing quietly in a corner of the King's sumptuously furnished room, wrapped in a glamour that made me invisible to sight. I was amazed at the luxury the King afforded himself in his bedroom. There was an enormous bed in the middle of the room with a very comfortable looking mattress covered in pillows and silk sheets. Placed here and there were small tables, armchairs, and even a fainting couch. Candelabras were interspersed around the furniture which gave a warm golden glow to the beautiful room. I could not imagine such a quiet and tasteful room becoming the scene of a ghostly attack, if the Queen Mother was to be believed.

At that moment, King Gerald entered the room, shooed his bodyguard away, and locked the door behind him. The king quickly shed his brocaded and expensive clothes, throwing them carelessly on the floor. I expected him to change into his evening wear, or at the very least a nightshirt, but all he put on was a very small pair of underwear that hugged his nether regions obscenely closely, not that I was complaining. Thus dressed, King Gerald then went to the fainting couch and arrayed himself upon it, one leg on the couch, the other not, one arm thrown artfully over his eyes as if he were asleep. If I didn't know any better, I would imagine that these were not the actions of a man afraid of an impending attack from the spirit world, but rather the behaviors of someone anticipating a romantic tryst.

As if on cue, that thought was accompanied by the sound of stone grinding on stone, and I saw a section of granite wall slide into the room. A figure covered in a dark cloak entered quietly, shoving the secret door closed with one hand. I raised my hand in preparation of defending the King from an assault but paused when the person removed the hood. I knew this person. As the cloak fell to the floor, I saw it was a naked man. In fact, it was my dear Francois, the stablehand from the coach house where my carriage was stored. I would recognize that shapely bottom anywhere.

I watched as Francois tiptoed over the King Gerald and began to nibble at his lips and run his roughed fingertips over the King's chest. Because of his very revealing underwear, it was evident that Gerald was enjoying the caresses and was responding accordingly. Now, not to be prurient, but over the next several hours, it was clear where the King's puffy lips, round mouth shaped bruises, and difficulty walking and sitting in the morning were coming from. As the night progressed, it was abundantly clear that if the Queen Mother really wanted to help her son, she didn't need a magician, but rather someone who could deliver lubricant in bulk.

Now, far be it for me to ruin someone else's fun, so I certainly wasn't going to report what I had discovered to the Queen. The King, though needed some help in covering his tracks. So, as soon as morning arrived and both King and stablehand dispersed, I set to work. I cast an enchantment over the room to dull any sound that was made within; the guards should not be hearing any of Gerald's cries after that. I also placed an enchantment on his royal ring that sped up healing. The puffy lips, small bruises left by Francois' mouth, and even his sore bottom would disappear immediately upon his slipping the ring back on his finger each morning.

I knew the Queen Mother, however, would not be satisfied with my simply saying the ghost had been dealt with. So, I conjured a whirlwind and sent it careening through the palace, the whole while running behind it and yelling that the spirit was angered. After causing enough damage, I sent the whirlwind out through the front door and declared that the spirit was gone and would never again disturb the palace.

In return for my services, the Queen Mother granted me a parcel of land and the title of Count Mandragora. I was also commissioned as the Court Magician in perpetuity, and with my lifespan, that means something.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Dr Mandragora: From the Maudlin to the Macabre

Smoke Wizard

This is a photograph of a stream of smoke that was then mirrored in Photoshop. I found it remarkable and decided to post it here.

"Borrowed" from Loopsta's photostream at Flickr

It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature

It was the year 2120, and mankind had finally mastered his surroundings. Disease was virtually unheard of, food production had been refined so that there was no inhabited place on earth where food was not available, and now, even the weather had been tamed. Due to a new and ingenious invention by Dr. Scott Robertson, all weather patterns and phenomena were now controlled by the Weather Institute. No longer were there uncomfortable temperatures, hot or cold, and all rainfall was carefully planned out so that areas designated as farmland received just the right amount. As far as the common man was concerned, the earth was now a virtual paradise. Or at least it was yesterday.

"Professor Reardon," called out the young intern. "There seems to be another storm developing in the middle of the Atlantic."

"What?" called out the white haired professor. "That's the third one to stir up in the last 36 hours. That's not supposed to be possible. I wonder if the WeatherNet is malfunctioning."

The WeatherNet, as it was called, was the series of satellites orbiting the planet that both monitored the earth's weather as well as controlled it through directed plasma discharges and energy collectors. It was the WeatherNet that made it possible for mankind to finally exert complete control over his environment.

Scratching his head in thought, Professor Reardon looked at the various readouts on the monitors before him. According to what he saw, there was, indeed, a storm brewing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a storm that should not be able to form considering the WeatherNet was draining away all excess atmospheric and oceanic energy. The fact that a storm cell was developing anyway suggested there was something wrong with the system.

Sighing to himself at the thought of endless hours of diagnostics that were surely in his future, Professor Readon looked at the intern, Santos was his name, and said, "Mr. Santos, target the center of that cell with the 'Net if you please, and drain it of all of its energy. No storm has been scheduled for today."

With a few taps on his keyboard and a thousand computer calculations made in .2 seconds, the WeatherNet locked on to the center of the storm cell and positioned two satellites accordingly. With a flash of plasma discharge, a bolt of blue energy shot from the satellites and struck the center of the storm. At first, the monitors at the Weather Institute showed that the storm was shrinking, it's energy drained by the plasma streams. But as Professor Reardon watched, the storm center began to grow with unnatural speed, the outside edges growing at a rate of a mile a minute. Professor Reardon had never seen a storm react that way before.

Watching the status of the energy collectors aboard each satellite fill to capacity, the intern, Mr. Santos, shut down the plasma stream before they exploded. Looking at Professor Reardon for instruction, Mr. Santos saw that the old man had gone as white as his hair.
"Do you see, Dr Mandragora," snapped the tall lady standing before the large font of shimmering water. "They think they have the right to tell me where and when to send my showers, my winds, my waves of warm air. I have been tending this planet for millions of years, and suddenly they think they can do the job better than I!"

The man known as Dr Mandragora stood up slowly from his seat, his young apprentice scurrying over to help steady his master. Dressed in an old fashioned black frock coat, a silver waistcoat, and black trousers, the aging Mandragora walked to where the goddess was standing, leaning heavily upon his black oak walking stick.

"I know you are distressed, dear Lady Gaia, but their attempt at weather control is not meant to be slight to you. In all fairness, they aren't aware that you exist and are seeking to better their planet."

"Better it for themselves, you mean, don't you, Doctor?" accused Gaia, Goddess of the Earth. "Mankind has used and abused the planet that was placed in their care, they have stripped it of its resources, destroyed any other life that was in their way and all in the name of progress." Her lip curling in a sneer, the Earth Goddess Gaia continued, "And it wasn't just animals and plants they destroyed, Doctor, and you know that. They killed their own kind as readily as they destroyed my defenseless creatures, all in the name of progress. Yes, all sacrificed on the alter of 'science' and for 'the betterment of all'."

Dr. Mandragora watched as Gaia looked back into the font of water and saw what had captured her attention. She was watching a storm cell swirling in the ocean, the Atlantic, unless he was mistaken. "Now they seek mastery of the very elements? Mankind has gone too far." And so saying, Gaia placed her finger in the water, touching the center of the storm and swirling it in a circle, the arms of the storm circling faster and faster in response to her movements.

Seeing the hard look Gaia had on her face, Dr Mandragora asked, "What are you planning then, dear lady?"

"Planning? Isn't it obvious Doctor? I am going to brush them off the face of the earth."
"Professor Reardon!" shouted Intern Santos, "A third satellite has just exploded! The storm is sending large pulses of energy back through the plasma stream. It's overloading the collectors! We are going to lose the entire 'Net if we don't shut down!"

The old scientist, Professor Reardon, ignored the frantic shouts from the staff in the WeatherNet control room. His eyes were glued to the instruments before him. The storm cell had grown to a monstrous 300 mile radius. He had never seen such a powerful storm in his life. The hovercopters sent in to the edges of the storm to gauge the wind had been reporting speeds at 350 miles per hour, an unheard of speed for wind to travel naturally. If he couldn't get the storm broken up, the computer was estimating landfall on the eastern coast of the United States in just over two hours.

"Santos!" Reardon shouted out, "focus all of the remaining satellites on the leading edge of the storm. We have to slow that thing down!"

"Yes, sir," answered Mr. Santos, fingers flying across his keyboard. Once he had finished and no one was looking at him anymore, Jason Santos opened up a small window on his computer, quickly sending a message to his wife's mobile phone. The message simply read, "Get to shelter now!"
Walking in circles around the magical font, Dr Mandragora, hands clasped behind his back, was trying to distract the agitated and ancient goddess. "Now, Lady Gaia, I will grant you that mankind has not been the most conscientious of guardians. They have made some rather large blunders in the past, but they are far from being the villains that you are making them out to be."

Making a rude noise, Gaia waved her hands to shush her visitor. "Do be quiet, Dr Mandragora. As if I would listen to you on the subject of mankind. You have spent millennia watching them, nudging them, advising them, and I believe you have lost your objectivity." When it appeared that Dr Mandragora was going to interrupt, Gaia raised her hand to stop him. "Oh yes, Doctor. You have lost the ability to judge their actions fairly. You were sent here ages ago to help them develop into righteous beings and look at what they have done. Look!"

Gesturing towards the font, the clear water within clouded over for a moment before revealing a strip of land that was scarred and dead, three concrete towers looming over everything like dark sentinels. "Look, Doctor, at what your precious humanity has wrought. Nuclear power plants, poisoning everything around them, because man needed more power. More power, more power, they always needed more! More energy to run their factories so that they could dump more poison into the air. More power to run their weapons systems so that they could more efficiently kill each other and everything else around them. More power stripped from the earth, and to what purpose."

Dr. Mandragora stared into the font, taking in the scene of desolation before him. He recognized that power plant. It was famous for being run poorly and for poisoning the land for decades. He didn't know what to say.

"Look, Doctor, at what their drive for more power has accomplished. Radioactive land, warped animal life, poisoned water. I refuse to allow them to continue."
The Weather Institute had been built below ground to conserve more space topside for homes and parks, not to provide it with protection. Ironically, underground as it was, the Weather Institute was immune to the weather which was, at that moment, scouring the ground above.

Professor Reardon had just gotten off of the phone with the Director of the World Government and had given him an assessment of the weather situation. Every satellite connected to the WeatherNet was destroyed. No matter how much energy they had absorbed from the storm front, the clouds, wind, rain, and lightning continued to advance. The storm had hit America three hours ago and already thousands of people were dead. This storm was not like any other ever in the history of mankind. This storm lashed and assaulted everything before it, winds were knocking over buildings, lightning was shattering concrete and stone with ease, and the pouring rain was then washing away all signs of what had been there before. Once the storm had been through an area, all traces of man were gone.

Professor Reardon watched his monitors and saw that the leading edge of the storm was about to pass over the Weather Institute. Even though he was below ground, he could feel tremors in the earth. He had no illusions that they would be spared.
Dr Mandragora stood on a tall outcropping of rock, watching the storm move away from the city. There was virtually nothing left to mark the passing of man. A metal girder here, a slab of shattered concrete there. He placed his arm around the shoulders of his apprentice, who looked around them in horror.

"Master," the boy whispered,"is everybody gone?"

"Yes, my dear lad," the Doctor said sadly. "Gaia chose to leave nothing behind. She wanted to wipe the slate competely clean so that the Creator could start over again."

"Will he?"

The Doctor didn't answer. He didn't know the mind of the Creator. What mortal did?

"Are we the last humans on earth, Master?"

Nodding in agreement, Dr Mandragora said," Well, you are, dear lad. I am not human."

In a rumble of thunder, Dr Mandragora and his young apprentice heard the voice of the Goddess Gaia once again. "It is done, Doctor. With the exception of you and your boy, man is no more." Pausing for a moment, Gaia then whispered, "And I am sure you already realize that I don't dare make exceptions."

Mandragora's eyes squinted a fraction, knowing what the goddess intended.

"I'm sure if anyone understands, Doctor, it is you. Farewell old friend."

With a bright flash and a loud crack, an enormous bolt of lightning struck where Dr Mandragora and his apprentice were standing. The lightning stayed attached to the ground for several long minutes, the energy crackling and spitting as it burned everything around it. Once the bolt was completely discharged and the resulting smoke cleared, Gaia looked at the spot where the last of humanity had been standing, expecting to see the charred remains of Mandragora and his young charge. But instead all she found was the burnt and cracked walking stick the wizard had been carrying.

Of the boy and the aged sorcerer, there was no sign.

Gaia frowned in irritation for a moment. Then her countenance cleared and she broke into a smile. Laughing out loud, she waved her hand and bright sunlight flooded the earth. A new day was dawning, filled with bright promise and excitement. Such things were not meant to be enjoyed alone. Lifting her hand so that a bright red cardinal could land on her finger, Lady Gaia went in search of some company.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Adventures of Merlin

My new favorite show!

The Adventures of Merlin is premised on the idea that Merlin and Arthur were young men filled with the energy, drive, and love of adventure typical of all young men before they became the aged and wise adults everyone is familiar with.

Now, being the non-TV watcher that I am, I completely missed all of the episodes that have already aired on NBC. Thanks to the magic of Hulu, however, I just watched episodes 3-7 and loved them all.

The special effects aren't the greatest, especially considering what is capable by CGI artists today (consider shows like Battlestar Gallactica), but I am willing to overlook them simply because the stories are great.

The Merlin in this series does not yet have mastery over his gift of magic and is having to learn to use it in a society that has outlawed all sorcery as evil. He is being raised by and mentored by the court physician Gaius who is a wonderfully wise character who seems to having a passing knowledge of magic himself. There is a very overbearing Uther Pendragon who for lack of a better description, is portrayed as a hardened and uncaring bastard who is doing his best to pound his son Arthur into his likeness. Arthur, however, shows a streak of compassion for his fellow man, though he does his best to hide that under a veneer of snobbery.

The main antagonist so far in the series is a witch named Nimueh who continuously plots against Camelot in an attempt to kill either the young Arthur or the young Merlin.

The sets and costumes are great. The actors do a very good job. There is even a recurring role of a wise dragon who is voiced by the wonderful John Hurt.

And, in case I have not yet mentioned it, Colin Morgan, the twenty-something Merlin is very good looking, has a great smile, and beautiful eyes. And, of course, I love his accent. My only complaint in all of this is that his costumes are always too darn loose for me to get a good look at his posterior. Well, that's not the point of the series, I suppose. ;)

Are You Ready for Some Football!

I can honestly say I hate sports. I hate playing sports, watching sports, listening to people talk about sports, and the heterosexual male bastion, the sports bar. The only thing related to sports I like are the players themselves. And the most luscious of these are the football gear clad jocks. Mmmm. The lycra shorts, the stretchy pants, the bare bellies. Holy moly, it's gay fetish Heaven!