Sunday, August 30, 2009

Epic Wallpaper FTW

I happen to enjoy changing my computer's wallpaper every few days. I thought I would share some of my favorites. There are several others if anyone is interested in seeing another wallpaper post. Just let me know.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Psalm of Life, or A Young Man's Dream

I think I've mentioned before that I visit, on occasion, a site that allows people to stream live webcam video of themselves in various states of dress/undress and in various activities. Well, I don't really go there anymore, for multiple reasons, but I did make a couple of friends while there, people who I would describe as not being like the vast majority of viewers/performers there.

I was chatting with one of them yesterday, a remarkably intelligent and handsome man, when he introduced me to a poem by H. W. Longfellow that I was not familiar with. This in and of itself is not unusual in that, despite being a fairly educated man, I have never been much for poetry. I have always attributed this to my hiding who I was from my family and friends, afraid that people would see who I was deep down inside. One cannot appreciate poetry and the emotions it invokes when you are masking your feelings and self from the world.

Well, he recited a portion of the poem, A Psalm of Life, from memory and told me it was his favorite poem. When I explained that I wasn't familiar with it, he sent me a link so that I could read it in its entirety. We then discussed at length what Longfellow was saying, and it struck me that this poem truly resonated within my internet friend. He told of how he wants to make his mark upon the world, how he wishes to be a hero and set an example for other people to follow just as Longfellow suggests.

I have to admit that my eyes teared up during our conversation, though I can't tell you why. Perhaps it was because I realized I was speaking to someone with passion and goals who had a plan for his life. And I don't mean a silly or nebulous plan, such as "I want to be a police man", or "I want to be the next Donald Trump". No, he has a solid plan with attainable and measurable short and long term goals, and he will be embarking on the first part of his plan in a few months.

Or perhaps it was because I could sense greatness in him and was glad that I have had the opportunity to meet him and share some of my own thoughts and views of the world with him. Perhaps it was because he had shared with me the hardships of his life as well as his hopes and dreams, and I knew that he is a far better man than I. Perhaps it was because I can see in him a gentle soul, a man who wishes to do good works in the world, who sees good around him, and yet who is scheduled to leave to the military in a couple of months, an institution not known for its appreciation of beauty or individuality. And out of all of my jumbled thoughts and fuzzy observations, everything he said seemed to me to be connected back to the poem that meant so much to him.

I, too, must admit that I feel a pull from the words of Longfellow, though I think it has as much to do with its powerful message and wonderfully crafted phrases as it does with the dreams and possibilities it inspired in a remarkable young man. Though I cannot say that my eyes and heart have now been opened to the beauty of poetry, this particular poem will remain with me for years to come.

The poem is below. I hope you will take a moment to read it for yourself.



Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o'erhead !

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Search of Shadows

I am a Dragon Slayer. Have I ever mention that?

Well, those of you who know a little about me are well aware that I am a very private and humble person. I don't like talking about my accomplishments and I refuse to name drop. Just like the time when I accepted an award from the High Chancellor's office in ancient Mesopotamia for taking care of that Giant problem they were having. The brutes were everywhere and I told Gilgamesh that I simply had to do something to help those poor people. You all know Gilgamesh, don't you? He was a ruler and a hero in his own right, not to mention a close and personal friend. But I hate to name drop.

Well, my experience with the dragon was somewhat similar in that I was at the right place at the right time.

I was visiting the isle of Avalon at the time and learning Shadow Magic. The followers of the deity known as Dagda were, and still are, considered to be the absolute masters of the Shadows, and their college on Avalon was the easiest to access for a being such as myself.

It was during one of our infrequent breaks that I found myself on a day trip along with a few other students to the furthest point on the island. I remember the day as being crisp and bright, a light breeze blowing in from the ocean water bringing cool air and a briny scent to where our party was camped. We had stopped because Master Brisinger, one of the college instructors, had grown tired and hungry and demanded a break. Though the rest of the group had wanted to press on, Master Brinsinger was adamant.

So, we had set up a temporary camp to heat water for tea while others who had brought instruments began to improvise songs. With the shade pavilions, tea, cookies, and fruit, the delay became a bit of a party rather than the inconvenience it had started as. With Master Brisinger eating and telling stories to an appreciative audience, I began to suspect the old man had something like this planned all along and had not really been fatigued as he had claimed. But still, everyone was having a lovely time, so what matter did it really make?

I, personally, was enjoying the company of one Lord Josiah Pendragon, cousin to the current king of the isle. Josiah was a lovely thing in his skin tight leather trousers, silk shirt open at the neck and his deep brown eyes. Ah, how I used to get so lost in those eyes. The beautiful Josiah had taken off his shirt owing to the heat of the day, or so he said, and had his head in my lap. We were discussing the trade routes from the Isle to the closest mainland town while consuming our afternoon repast. Josiah was so handsome and virile, I would have loved to have been eating something else at the moment, if you know what I mean, and I think the rascal knew it. He kept adjusting his head on my lap, oftentimes brushing against my most private of areas, causing a thrill of pleasure to shoot through me every few moments, and would then make a show of adjusting himself within those tight black leather pants. Before too long we were both showing ourselves in a way that would have left little doubt in the minds of the others just what Josiah and I had on our minds. Luckily, though, he and I were in a corner of one of the pavilions and were not easily seen.

Well, we were just finishing up a bit of rough and tumble adult play, if you know what I mean, when I heard a shrill scream cut through the air. Josiah and I stood up to scan the area hoping to see the source of the cry, and I saw my friends and colleagues do the same. Suddenly, appearing at the top of one of the surrounding hills was a figure running towards us and waving its arms. At the distance the figure was from us, I could not tell if it was a man or a woman, but the body language and speed at which the person was moving, it was clear that they were very afraid.

I grabbed my enchanted walking stick and began to head towards the person only to be brought up short. Coming up right behind the running figure was an enormous creature I recognized as Dragon, one of the ancient creatures of legend. I think the figure knew the Dragon had appeared because I could hear the screaming increase as they tried to run faster. Before I recovered enough to do anything, the Dragon opened its mouth, blue tinged flames erupting out of the wide maw to engulf the poor soul heading towards my group.

As the unknown person crumpled into ash, the party of students scrambled into action. Some of us grabbed swords or bows while others ran to hide under the wooden wagons. I, of course, merely stood my ground, watching the beast to see what it would do next. I am proud to say that Lord Josiah stood next to me, his sword in one hand, his other on my rear end, that feisty devil. I was surprised to see that Master Brisinger was one to run and hide. His command of Shadow Magic should have made him invulnerable to the Dragon, and yet he hid. It was quite curious.

Catching sight of our party of students, the Dragon rushed towards where we were camped, its mouth open wide and its eyes rolling in their sockets. Several of the sword wielding boys ran to intercept it, but I knew they stood no chance against the beast. Quickly gathering my thoughts, I pointed my stick at the ground and cast a quick spell, the grasses and vines reacting to my will. In a flash, the Dragon was tangled up in layers of grass and twisting ivy, giving us valuable seconds to plan a defense.

The swordsmen began to hack at the immobile creature as the archers fired arrows, but I knew we needed something more powerful than mortal weapons. I ran to where Master Brinsinger was hiding and dragged him out into the open. We needed Shadow Magic to confuse the creature and he was the only one amongst us able to wield it with any skill. Again, I was puzzled at his fear of the Dragon. Shadow Masters are known for their skill against magical beasts.

Dragging him behind me, we moved towards where the Dragon was still standing, though he was not as trapped as he was before. His tail and two front legs were already free and I saw three of the brave sword wielding students down on the ground. I shook the nervous Brisinger and demanded he do something to hold the Dragon. To my surprise, he raised his hands and spoke in the magical language of the Olympians, yards of grape vines spiraling around the Dragon's legs and body. The creature began to thrash around, ripping through the vines and growing more violent as he focused his eyes on the Shadow Master.

Or rather, the fake Shadow Master. At his words and spell, I knew this was no Avalonian Shadow Mage, but was someone else entirely. It was Dionysus, Olympic God of Wine, far from home. I knew that the Dragon kin had no love for the Olympians and would go out of their way to kill any Greek god, no matter how minor, they could find. I suspected this creature had been tracking Dionysus for some time already. Olympian magic was useless against the Dragons so Dionysus would be of no use whatsoever.

I went to Josiah and grabbed his sword. No, his metal sword, people, get your minds out of the gutter! I placed a quick enchantment upon it and gave it back to him. With a quick kiss, Josiah ran into battle, his weapon glowing with eldritch flame. Josiah hacked away at the Dragon's flesh, jumping around to dodge its tail and teeth. Meanwhile, I began to gather myself for a mighty spell.

I focused my strength and magic on the ground beneath the Dragon's feet. With a mighty burst of energy, the hill cracked open directly beneath the beast, sending it and a couple of the students toppling into a dark hole. With a final snap, the crack closed and the dragon was no more.

Needless to say, I was hailed as a hero by the surviving members of the party and each insisted on thanking me personally. Josiah's thanks was, of course, delivered that evening in my bedchamber and was wrapped in silk thong, if you know what I mean. Before we left, I looked for Dionysus, but the god was nowhere to be found. Everyone assumed that "Master Brisinger" had fallen to the Dragon, but I knew otherwise.

The god was obviously on the run from some sort of trouble and was hiding on Avalon. I resolved to look for him as soon as we returned to the city and before he could stir up any more trouble.

Little did I know just how much trouble that god could cause.

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Birds of a Feather...

All images from Natural Wonders Photography at Flickr

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fractalius FTW!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Cinderella Tale

During what I like to call my "Getting to Know You" phase, I spent quite a bit of time living in mortal villages and towns, rubbing elbows with both the rich and the working classes. My goal was to get an idea of what motivated mankind, figure out what he strove for in life, and understand what really made him tick. After all, spending so much time with the Olympians had left me with a rather warped sense of honor and motivation, and I was afraid that I had grown someone apart from humanity.

Now, it was always my intention to keep a low profile and not bring any attention to myself whatsoever. Those who are familiar with my adventures will attest to the fact that I am the very incarnation of discretion and subtlety. However, as seems to occur so often in my life, events transpired on occasion that forced me to take action, though I always strove to minimize my effect on humanity's development and history.

One such event occurred while I was living in the city of Dreblin. I was masquerading as a nobleman who was traveling and exploring the world before being forced into a politically expedient marriage by my ailing father who had been poisoned after being bitten by a poisonous asp. (I like to keep my cover stories simple; it gives the casual listener less reason to check into the truth of your tale.) Upon calling at the castle, I meet a very handsome young man named Prince Todd, the designated heir of the Kingdom. Well, because of my wit and tales of the lands beyond, I can truthfully say that Todd was intrigued by me and invited me to stay at the castle during my visit. Needless to say, I accepted the invitation forthwith. I mean, if my choices were to remain at some musty inn with straw filled mattresses or the well appointed guest quarters of Castle Flemion, the decision was an easy one to make. Besides, this also gave me a chance to get to know the beautiful Todd a bit more intimately.

Over the next few days, I spent virtually every waking moment with the young Prince. I don't think I would be far from the mark if I said he was quickly becoming enamored of me, and I certainly couldn't blame him. I had tales of far away and mystical places to regale him with, a fanciful and biting wit, and, not to put too fine a point on it, I was something of a looker back in the day. For Todd's part, he did everything he could to catch my eye. Everyday, his trousers got tighter and more form fitting while his tunics got shorter, to show off his tight bum and the neckline lower, which showed off more chest. Though I found his behavior somewhat amusing, I certainly was not going to complain.

Well, the day came when he decided that he wanted me to meet some of the nobles of the Kingdom and give them a chance to meet me as well. A ball was organized and invitations sent to all of the best families as well as the higher class merchants in the city. I was anxious to meet these people, in fact, since I had spent the majority of my time with the Prince. I really needed to meet other people if I was going to get a sense of mankind. As the day grew closer, I began to feel a bit apprehensive about the whole ball and couldn't shake the feeling that something sinister was afoot. Having no proof, though, I kept my uneasiness to myself and resolved to keep my eyes open for anything unusual.

I must admit that my dear Todd was certainly able to organize a lovely ball. The music, the decorations, and the food were all quite lovely. I did not have an opportunity to meet as any people as I had wanted since Todd had his arm locked with mine the entire evening. It was very sweet of him to parade me around like that, but it had the unfortunate side effect of limiting my chances of mingling with the crowd. I suspect Todd would have held on to me the entire evening if she had not appeared.

It was when Todd released my arm and took in a shocked breath that I realized something had happened. Standing at the top of the staircase was a young lady dressed in a blue gown and shiny glass slippers. Her blonde hair and wide eyes made her look quite beautiful and very innocent. I could see that every eye in the room was on this late arrival.

Without a word to me, Prince Todd hurried over to the young lady, bowed, and took her hand. He then proceeded to dance every dance with her, taking no time to continue speaking to his guests or spending any time with me. I must admit that I was slightly irritated at his behavior. After spending the last several nights in his bedroom and putting up with his games of horsey ( I could still feel the burn of the riding crop on my butt) as well as his aversion of personal hygiene coupled with his love of oral pleasures, I was surprised that he would be so willing to ignore me like that. Ah well. It was clear to me that my fairy tale romance was drawing to a close, so I decided to take my leave of the palace at once.

As I was walking towards the back exit, there was a sudden commotion that stopped me in my tracks. As the large castle clock began to chime the midnight hour, Todd's new girl pal began to run towards the main exit, the Prince hot on her heels. Now, that was most definitely an odd occurrence, and so I turned around and followed the crowd out behind Prince Todd. When I finally managed to reach him, the girl was nowhere to be found, but the Prince looked stricken as he held on to one of her shoes, a shoe that seemed to be made from glass.

Taking it from him, I examined the glass slipper with both my sight and my Sight, and recoiled at what I saw. What appeared to be a clear glass slipper to sight was in fact coated in writhing color; blue, deep purple, and black swirls of energy moved continually over the surface of the shoe. It was in fact not a real slipper, glass or otherwise, but rather was an enchantment, an enchantment whose purpose I could not yet determine.

Well, the love crazed Prince Todd snatched the slipper away from me and shouted for his personal guard. He was determined to find his lovely lynx if he had to force every young woman in the kingdom to try on the sour smelling shoe. (The lass obviously had not bathed before the ball.) Though I was feeling a bit disgruntled at having been brushed aside for the young blonde, I simply could not let the prince carry on with that enchanted shoe without my expertise to assist him. So, I joined the search party.

As we traveled from house to house, I was able to watch Prince Todd placed the shoe on women's feet. Or rather, attempt to place the shoe. I noticed that the enchantment on the slipper grew violently bright each time someone tried to put it on. The enchantment would force the foot away and no one was able to get it on. It was clear to me that the slipper would only allow one person to wear it; our frisky blonde girlie.

Unobserved by the royal guard, I began to nose about myself, using the signature from the shoe as a beacon, hoping that it would lead me to our young mystery lady. I followed the trail to a small but well maintained cottage on the very outskirts of the town. The very home itself seemed to throb with dark light, so I was very certain I was at the right place.

Before I could even knock, an aged and hideous old crone came around from the side of the house and gasped upon seeing me. She was wearing a blue hooded cloak over a light blue dress, her short white hair sticking out from the edge of the hood. As we stared at each other, I could feel waves of power coming from this odd character, power remarkably like that from the enchanted slipper.

I began to walk towards the old woman to find out who she was when she shrieked, "You shall not stop me, Wizard! My popkins WILL be princess!" And with that, she drew out a silver wand and pointed it at me. Needless to say, though I am somewhat of a sedentary soul, I found the speed and energy to jump to one side as a spear of blue-black energy sizzled through the air right next to me. I managed to block three more bursts of power with my enchanted walking stick, all the while walking closer and closer to the old woman.

As she screamed and cursed at me, the door opened and the blonde girl I had seen earlier at the palace exited the house. No longer dressed in finery, she looked tawdry, dirty, and unkempt. "Godmother!" she screamed, "what are you doing?"

With that interruption, the old woman looked away from me and towards the girl for a fraction of a moment, and I used that moment to my advantage. Pointing my stick at her, I unleashed a blast of purple lightning that struck the old woman in the chest. She fell to the ground, jerking and jiddering as I continued to pour my magic into her body. Finally with an ear shattering shriek, the old woman burst into flames and disappeared.

With her death, the neatly kept house disappeared as did the trees and plants surrounding it. All that was left was a sad looking wooden stoop and the young woman standing upon it. I was about to go and comfort the shaken young lady when I heard horses clopping closer to where we were standing. Accompanied by the jingling of tackle and bits, Prince Todd rode into view with his guard. Recognizing the young woman, he jumped down from his horse and rushed towards her with the slipper. I noticed that it no longer glowed with eldritch light.

Slipping the shoe onto her grubby and unwashed foot, Prince Todd carried the young woman, whose name apparently was Ella, back towards his horse, placed her in the saddle, and rode away.

I watched the group ride off in the direction of the palace as I stood alone by the edge of the road. It was now evident to me that the enchantment had already taken hold of the prince and forced him to fall in love with the young lady. I wasn't certain what would have happened had he placed the shoe on Ella's foot with the enchantment still in effect, but I was fairly sure it would not have been good.

I could easily have broken the spell that drew my beloved Todd to Ella, but I decided against it. After all, I could not stay here forever in Dreblin. My destiny existed outside this provincial town. Besides, my lifespan was immense compared to Todd's. No, it was better that he be happy with a wife rather than be unhappy and alone. The spell made him believe he was happy. As far as he knew, he was. There was no difference between being in love and feeling like he was in love. Isn't that was mankind strives for anyway?

And so, I called my things to me with a muttered spell, my black satchel appearing upon my shoulder, my cloak fluttering in the light wind. I considered Summoning a carriage to continue my travels but decided to walk for a bit instead. I looked back towards the palace just once before setting off and smiled. Mankind, it seemed, was going to be quite fascinating.

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

Monday, August 17, 2009

Opposites Attract

Beware! Here There Be Dragons!

As I have mentioned before, I like to spend some of my free time talking and visiting with people over at camforit, a site designed for people to be camwhores, not to put too fine a point on it. I, of course, do not cam, since I don't own a webcam, and so just chat to anyone willing to put up with my nonsense. To be honest, and I know people aren't going to believe me, but I don't like watching the guys, er..., "perform" on camera. I much prefer to just visit and talk. There have been several times that the person whose room I am visiting in will talk for an hour or so to people and then proceed to "take matters in their own hands", if you know what I mean, and so I leave.

There is just something not quite right about you laughing/talking to someone, seeing a family member or two pop in to say something to them, etc, and then watching them disrobe and touch themselves. Now, don't get me wrong. Watching a handsome guy undress is always fun. But the sex part makes me feel like a pervert, and I simply cannot watch.

Throughout my couple of weeks there, I have met some really interesting and funny people on the site, but there is also a contingent of real nutjobs on there as well. As an example, enter: DragonBoy.

This guy doesn't speak outloud on camera and rarely even touches his keyboard. It's all about the show, or freak show, to be more exact.

As you can see, DragonBoy wears a Pokemon Charmander mask and a pair of orange dragon wings while on camera. He also likes to sit in various erotic poses and likes people to talk dirty to him. And by dirty, I mean immerse themselves in his insanity.

For example, one of his fans kept writing that he wanted to put himself inside DragonBoy's mouth, but he was afraid that DragonBoy would breathe fire and burn him to a crisp. DragonBoy assured him that he would offer up delicious oral pleasure and would keep his fire breathing under control.

What, I thought to myself, are you kidding me? He's not a dragon! The only burning sensation anyone would feel from DragonBoy would come later from the STD they contracted from his nasty ass. Not that I am being judgmental, mind you.

Another person said that they wanted to have anal sex with DragonBoy while he flew them both through the air. He wanted to mount the dragon from behind and "ride" the skies.

Really? Because nothing says "soaring majestically through he skies" like orange plastic wings, do they. Suddenly, the mile high club doesn't seem quite so extreme.

I pretty much giggled my way through about 5 minutes of this blue-tinged madness, thinking that if we added a couple of midgets, we'd be watching a Federico Fellini movie. I took a few screen shots because I know people wouldn't believe me without proof.

Pics or it didn't happen, and all that.

To be fair, the guys I talk to on a regular basis are all normal, good looking people. Some perform on camera and some do not, though they all endure the screams of the masses to "stick it in your pooper" and other such nonsense. I've tried to stick around during "showtimes", but my prudish nature kicks in. One of the guys, a very handsome fellow in New Jersey, was doing his thing and then decided to take his plug, place it on a leather chair, and starting going up and down on it. I felt panic start to kick in and I ran off, thinking to myself, That was real leather, you fool! What are you doing? Think of the stains! I haven't visited his room since.

I suspect I will not see them as much soon because most are returning to college in a couple of weeks.

At that point, I guess I'll have to befriend DragonBoy.

Hey, DragonBoy, I'll type, wanna see my mystic staff?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Poor Children Not Wanted in Public Library Says Rich People

I just read this article from the School Library Journal and am utterly appalled. Take a gander at it yourself.

Library Expansion in Posh NY Hood Goes On
By Rocco Staino -- School Library Journal, 7/31/2009

A year after SLJ reported on the contentious dispute over a proposal to add a children’s room to the East Hampton Library in New York, the kids of the posh summer community are no closer to seeing it become a reality.

Library Director Dennis Fabiszak has said that the East Hampton Village Board of Zoning Appeals has expressed concern that an expanded children’s collection would lead to more library usage by those who live in the less affluent areas of Springs and Wainscott.

As recently as July 2, the village zoning board is still requiring that the library submit to an environmental review, adds Fabiszak. The local zoning board has taken this position despite a statement from the Office of Counsel for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) stating that the library is an “educational institution” and according to regulations is exempt from such a review. The NYSDEC letter to the zoning board reaffirmed a prior determination from the state’s Department of Education.

The proposed 6,800-square-foot addition to a community that includes Martha Stewart, Rudolph Giuliani, and Katie Couric as summer residents would enable the library to add 10,000 additional children’s books to the library’s collection. Last year, the Long Island library ranked last for books available per child.

In the past, the zoning board had raise questions regarding the children who would use the library and the communities from which they came. The library serves not only the Village of East Hampton but also the less affluent communities of Springs and Wainscott.

The $4 million price tag for the expansion has been entirely raised through private donations. The planning process has cost the library $200,000 and the dispute with the zoning board has added an additional $60,000 expense.

“We do not think it is fair for the library to waste more time and money complying with a state law from which the state says we are exempt,” Library President Doreen Niggles told the East Hampton Star. “Since the village will not abide by the state determination, the library will seek a legal ruling on the issue.”

Despite the disagreement with the village government, its celebrity-laced community supports the library. On August 8, Alec Baldwin, Candace Bushnell, and Jay McInerney will be joined by more than 100 other authors to support the library expansion at an authors’ night.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Pensive Reflections

I love photos that have a lot of green and gold, and brown in them. Perhaps that is why I am attracted to nature photos. It certainly can't be the subject matter since I really dislike being outside.

Red Card, Ref!

Because that's a foul if I've ever seen one.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yet Another Fractalius Post

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Mona Lisa

I read on the news feeds this morning that a woman threw a ceramic mug at DaVinci's famous Mona Lisa. Since the painting is protected by bullet proof glass, the lady with the world's most fascinating smile (Stay thirsty, my friends....) emerged unscathed, and the mug wielding assailant was arrested and subsequently remanded to a psychiatric facility. The incident gives a whole new meaning to "mug shot", don't you think?

This got me to thinking. What would trigger a person to attack a painting? Was the woman insane, or did she know something that the rest of us do not? What if the painting of Mona Lisa was more than a painting?

Samantha Dowling was walking through the Louvre, enjoying her day off. After the high pressure job of securities exchange, she was allowing both her mind and her nerves to rest in the quiet and beautiful museum of art. She was well aware that this vacation was long overdue; her nerves and mind both were fast approaching the breaking point when her boss suggested she take some time off. Though her performance was not yet suffering from her stress-filled state, her department head, Tim Jones, could see that she was on the edge of a breakdown.

"Take some time off, Sam," he told her. "A week, maybe two. The break will do you some good."

And so, Samantha Dowling found herself roaming some of the most famous places in Italy and France. After touring the Vatican and all of the history that it had to offer, she was now seeing wondrous works of art by names like Donatello, Michelangelo, and now she was headed to DaVinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. She had seen pictures of her since she was a little girl and was looking forward to finally seeing the enigmatic lady for herself.

As she neared the painting, she was surprised to see that no one was around it. She was going to be able to see it up close and personal all by herself. Now, how often did that happen to people?

As she got up close to study the painting, shivers of delight went up her back. She was in front of one of the most recognizable paintings in the world! She studied Mona Lisa's eyes, seeming so bright and alert for oil on canvas. He hair was a lustrous black that flowed down her shoulders. And her smile? Well, what could she possibly say about Mona Lisa's smile that had not already been said by countless people before her?

But despite Samantha having one of her dreams come true, the experience was being marred by her own internal voices. Seeing the serene and beautiful lady up close only served to remind her that soon, all too soon, she would be back in the stress-filled world of the securities exchange. Why couldn't she exist in a happy and quiet world? Why couldn't she simply sit, and smile, and enjoy life as Mona Lisa apparently had while still alive?

Getting as close to the framed painting as she could, Samantha Dowling whispered, "I wish I could be more like you, Mona Lisa, happy and smiling at the world."

"You can, mia caro," sounded a voice in her head. "All you have to do is want it badly enough."

Samantha jerked back and looked around her, embarrassed that someone had heard her whisper and even more embarrassed that they had answered.

"I beg your pardon," she began, but then didn't finish. As she looked around, she saw there was no one else there. She was still all alone by the painting of Mona Lisa. Looking around her yet again, Samantha could see no one even remotely close enough to her that could have spoken.

"Hello?" she whispered again. "Is someone here?"

She heard a soft laugh followed by, "Of course there is, mia caro. Were you not just speaking to me?"

Samantha paused. The voice she was hearing seemed seemed to be coming from the direction of the painting. Slowly turning to face the Mona Lisa, Samantha looked once again into the smiling face and saw the painted eyes in the beautiful face staring back into her own. One of Mona Lisa's hands came up and gave her a brief wave before being placed back on her lap.

"You desire a happier and quieter life, do you not? Or did I misunderstand what you were saying a moment ago?"

Samantha stood frozen in place. Was the painting of the Mona Lisa actually speaking to her? Samantha passed her hand over her face and took a deep breath. She was obviously under a great deal more stress than she had realized if she was imagining things like this! Shaking her head to clear it, Samantha chuckled at herself and rubbed her eyes. She wondered if she may just have to request an additional week off if she was that far gone!

Samantha looked at the painting again, knowing full well that she had imagined the picture talking. Now how crazy was that! As she continued to admire DaVinci's masterpiece, she found herself drawn once again to Mona Lisa's eyes. As she stared at them, the left eye winked.

Laughing softly yet again Mona Lisa said, "You aren't daydreaming, mia caro, nor are you crazy. I am speaking to you."

Samantha simply stood and stared. This couldn't be happening, could it?

"I wish to help you achieve your dream, Samantha," Mona Lisa continued, "to see you happy and content within your own world. Wouldn't you like that?"

Samantha nodded dumbly.

"And I can help you attain that dream, little one. All you have to do is follow my directions perfectly, and we can trade places."

Samantha gasped quietly. Trade places with the Mona Lisa? Was that even possible?

"It is more than possible, Samantha," the painting said as if it could read her thoughts, "it is easily attainable. You see, I am not who I appear to be. I am actually an angel, an angel trapped within this painting by Leonardo DeVinci hundreds of years ago. Acting on misplaced loyalties, he used magical paints and materials to capture my essence and lock it within this frame, trapping me here until someone released me. And I think that someone could be you."

An angel trapped in the painting? Samantha felt as if her grasp on reality was slowly weakening. None of this conversation could possibly be real.

The Mona Lisa slowly stood, her hands coming up in supplication. "It is real, Samantha, very real. You want the peace and serenity that can be found in my painting? The quiet and contemplative existence I have? It can all be yours. I just need you to do two simple things."

"What simple things are those?" Samantha asked curiously. A chance to leave the crazy and stressful world behind her? How could she possibly not find out more?

Mona Lisa's smile grew wider, and she said, "Two simple things, mia caro. Come closer to me, place your hand on the glass."

Samantha looked around nervously. Putting her hand on the glass could earn her a one way ticket to the local police department, yet there didn't seem to be anyone around who would notice. So, Samantha stepped closer to the painting and placed her palm against the cool glass.

Samantha could now see Mona Lisa's teeth, her smile had grown so wide, and she was surprised to see that they looked liked the teeth of a shark, pointed and jagged. She gasped when she saw them.

"Now, I will explain what you must do, little Samantha. For us to exchange places, I will need to taste a drop of your blood, and you will need to taste a drop of mine. Then, when we have both tasted from the other, you must crack the frame around the painting so that I can exit and you can enter."

Samantha was confused at these directions. Taste blood? Give up blood? What kind of an angel did that? And what about those strange teeth. Something was not quite right here, but Samantha was starting to feel light headed and was having trouble concentrating.

"Wait," she managed to get out. Even her tongue seemed to be slowing down. "Who are you? I've never heard of an angel with teeth like yours, or needing to drink blood. Angels are supposed to be good and protective, not fanged and bloodthirsty.

Samantha watched in horror as the bright brown eyes of the Mona Lisa began to shift color, turning from brown to orange and finally to red. The usually sublime smile was now a huge tooth filled grin, the jagged edges even more pronounced.

"Who said I was one of those angels, mia caro?"

Samantha screamed as one of the painted hands emerged from the frame and grasped her hand that was still placed on the glass cover. Claws emerged and sank into the soft flesh, a hollow laugh echoing around the gallery.

Samantha screamed and wrenched her hand away from the picture. What was happening here? She felt her stomach heave when she saw the blood dripping from her mangled hand. Screaming again, only this time for help, Samantha reached into the bag dangling from her uninjured hand and brought out a souvenir mug she had just purchased. Throwing the mug at the twisted and laughing face before her, Samantha began to back away from the abomination filling the wooden frame.

Just as she turned to run, she felt arms grab her and push her to the floor. Thank goodness, she thought, security was finally here!

"Look!" she cried, "Look at the painting! It's a monster, a devil trying to escape!"

As Samantha was pulled roughly to her feet, her hands cuffed in front of her, she looked at the painting again and gasped. There was no devil in the frame, no clawed hands, no fanged mouth. It was simply the Mona Lisa, calm and serene, smiling unfathomably back at Samantha. Looking down at her hands, she saw that both of them were whole and undamaged. There were no scratches, no blood, nothing out of the ordinary.

As security hustled her away, Samantha glanced back one final time at DaVinci's masterpiece. It may have been a trick of the light, but Samantha thought she saw Mona Lisa's eyes glint redly above her mystic smile.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blogs and Blog Links

To those of you who run blogs of your own, I am curious. How do you decide what blogs to put links to on your home page?

As with most of you, I subscribe to multiple blogs but don't put links to them all on my blog roll. For the vast majority, I receive their RSS feeds and read what they have to say, oftentimes commenting on something in particular that I liked, or found interesting, or drooled over. But there are only a few that I have links to, and those links are constantly changing.

Just today, in fact, I deleted a link to a certain blog that I am growing increasingly frustrated with. The author of the blog never has anything positive to say about his life, his circumstances, or himself. I have a left a few comments in the past in encouragement, but all I have seen posted for weeks are "Poor Me" posts and pity party moments. It's all about how he hates himself, how he knows that everyone around him makes fun of him, and how he is an ass to everyone and then feels bad about it. Now, I realize we all blog for different reasons and for different audiences, and if this person wants to fill his corner of the interwebz with this sort of stuff, I am not going to gainsay him. But I'm not going to continue to read about it either.

We all go through dark patches, unless your name is Polly Anna, and I recognize that people need to vent at times. And your blog is your blog to write whatever you so wish. But my life has enough dark places in it that I don't need the self-indulgent of the world making my corner that much darker. So, a quick edit, delete, and save, and the blog roll is minus one entry.

Here recently there was a blog I looked into that I found particularly obnoxious and was prepared to fire off a lecture about appreciating what your family does for you and explaining that the world owes each of us nothing. We make of our situations what we choose to. But then, I decided against it. Who am I to level rants against strangers? And there was also an element of "Who really cares" in my decision as well. Needless to say, I didn't subscribe.

As I look at the blogs that are still posted in my blogroll, I find that some of them are there because I like the people who run them. Some are there because I like what they have to say, though I don't know the authors all that well. A couple are there just because I find them funny. But there really is no rule or rubric which determines what I put up there. They are just a collection of things I like that don't really relate to one another.

I guess that's why this place is called Sine Logicum, without logic. It describes my posts, my blogroll, and myself. Isn't that convenient?

A Beautiful Face

What is it that attracts us to certain people? Is it the shape of their face? Is it the color of their hair? Is there something in their eyes? Or perhaps I'm being to romantic. Maybe all we are looking for is someone with a nice ass. Ha okay, I'm being shallow and silly, but still, as I was floating amongst the picture blogs today, I saw this picture and gasped.

He is, to my eye, a gorgeous man, but if I were to have to explain why, I couldn't tell you. Is it his eyes? Yes, it is, but besides the obvious (the dilated pupils which signal attraction) I couldn't say why they attract me. His forehead, his hair, his smooth skin, the narrow shape of his jaw, all of them make me want to look at him longer.

But I couldn't tell you why.

Peace Shall Be Granted

In the days that you seek Me, know that I am there with you.
And the days in which you do not seek Me, know that I am here.

I am always with you.
I hear your every cry, your every worry, everything that troubles you.

And I still say to you: Fear not, my beautiful children, for when you come to me in peace, peace shall be granted in those times of worry, fear, and doubt. Be one with my Will, for my Will is filled with an abundance of happiness and victory.

So, do not fret about unnecessary worries. All your fears are surrounded by My loving hand and resolved easily by your faith, a faith that is growing into obedience to My will.


The Words of God as spoken to me by a prophet
Does God talk to you? And if He did, would you even hear it above the noise in your life? We worry about money, our health, whether our favorite sports team will be victorious this afternoon, if our friend is still mad about what happened yesterday, etc. etc. etc. until all else is drowned out over the noise of our own internal chatter. We allow our problems, real and imagined, to take over our thoughts.

I'm not saying that God expects us to pretend that our problems don't exist, or that we should go about the day blissfully unaware of the world around us. What I am saying is that God is with us every second of every day, and that He has the ability and the power to help us. It is our responsibility to ask for help, to trust that His help will be given to us, and to be patient and filled with faith.

Notice that I am not talking about a specific faith or a specific denomination. God is beyond man's attempts to categorize Him into a a rule-bound religion. Religion was created by humans, faith and love were created by God.

So, where will you find solace? Will you go to church on your designated day, sit there looking at your watch, and then rush out to deal with the rest of your week by yelling, getting frustrated, taking medications for the stress and anxiety? Or will you pause and talk to God when things start getting stressful, asking him for strength and guidance, and knowing that it will be granted?

I can't tell you what to do. We each have a choice to make, we each have our own perspective on the world. My belief, though, is that we all have someone on our side who wants to do good things for us if we would just learn to talk and listen.

God is knocking. What are you going to do?

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Do You Remember Your First?

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”
Oscar Wilde

Do you remember the first book you ever read? How about the first book you ever owned? I've been told by my mother that, even as a small child of three years old, I loved reading books. Obviously a three year old cannot actually read words, but I would look through the pictures and turn the pages. Or I would ask for a book to be read out loud to me. I do remember sitting in my mother's lap while she read stories to me, snug and secure and happy, and absorbing the tale being woven around me. I couldn't say how old I was, but those memories are surely some of my oldest.

My reading ability has always been far and beyond my strongest skill. Even though I was a year younger than my classmates (I entered Kindergarten a year early), I generally read better than everyone else. At the end of first grade, I was even given a book as a prize, of sorts, for being the best reader in the class. That is the first book I remember owning.

It was a thick cardboard book made for children; I'm sure you all had something similar. This one, though, had moving parts. It was a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Each left hand page told the story while each right hand page had a moving scene. As you flipped each page, hidden tabs in the cardboard pages would move cut out figures of the Goldilocks, the bears, of pieces of furniture. The cutouts just shifted back and forth, but I remember thinking it was the most amazing thing ever.

I also won a book at the end of fifth grade year for being the best reader in the class. It was a red leather bound collection of all the original Sherlock Holmes short stories. I even remember what my teacher wrote inside. She said, "May the joy of books forever enrich your life." Now, to be perfectly honest, at ten years old, the tales of the incomparable Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson didn't exactly tickle my fancy. Though I eventually read the book cover to cover several times, it took a couple more years of maturing before I was able to do so. I have this book and Goldilocks and the Three Bears in my library still.

I know this will sound insane to more than a few readers, but my personal library now consists of 1,243 books, and I've read each one. Though some stick out in my memory more than others, and some really never should have bee published (in my opinion), I really have read each and every one of them, some more than once. That seems to be the question I get frequently, for whatever reason. Whenever anyone saw my collection, the first thing out of their mouths invariably was, "Have you read all of these?" No, I would reply, I buy them and put them on shelves like cheap porcelain knickknacks to feign intelligence for morons like yourself.

Okay, I never actually said that to people, but I thought it. I'm very passive aggressive, in case you haven't noticed after reading all of my ramblings. Passive aggressive is fun. You should try it. (John: I am so sorry, Dr Mandragora, I accidentally dented you car door with mine this morning. Me: That's all right, John, accidents happen. John: You are a very understanding man. Then the following week comes. Me: John, why the long face? John: Somebody lit a bottle of gasoline under my car! It's ruined! Me: Oh, how terrible for you. Don't worry, I'll give you a ride until you get this sorted out, that is if you don't mind riding in a car that has a dent in its door.)

Ha, okay that never actually happened..................or did it?

I try to promote reading to my nieces and nephews, but my words just don't seem to take. Or perhaps they do, it's just that none of them have the powerful love of reading that I do. To be truthful, they all have very balanced lives whereas I lived in my book-filled cave at their age. They are cheerleaders, sportsmen/girls, band members, horse riders, and group leaders, school editors, etc. and don't spend their time sitting around in a comfy chair with a book in their lap. They are active and responsible people, and don't have that time to sit quietly. And that's probably a good thing.

I can't help but imagine that if I had a child of my own, I would be able to introduce them to the wonderful adventures that are out there. I could take them to visit the bright lands of Avalon, I could introduce them to my dear friend Gandalf, we could fly on a starship and see wonders no one else has seen. There are hundreds things to do and see in the world of books. It would be exciting and fun, and they would build upon their own imaginations at the same time.

I would be able to pass on my loves, and my interests, and some part of myself to another generation. But as a member of Alfalfa's He Man's Woman Haters Club, that's not going to happen. Okay, I don't hate women, but there is absolutely no sexual attraction to women for me at all, and not having Michael Jackson's money, I can't pay someone to have a baby for me either. Plus, that's just creepy. So, I content myself with passing on a bit here, a bit there, and retreat once again into my stories.

My library is inaccessible to me right now. It is boxed up and sitting in a storage room with the few other items I managed to save from my previous life. I can honestly say that I miss it and the comfort that it would bring me. I've managed to gather a few things around me right now that will eventually be worthy of additions to the library. I managed to acquire an original 1902 printing of J M Barrie's The Little White Bird, as well as some more recent items, such as Reliquary and Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This may sound odd, but one of my thoughts lately is concerning the welfare of my book collection. What will happen to it when I die? There is no one to leave it to who will treasure it as I do. I can't help but think it's going to be sold at an estate sale bit by bit for a pittance, and the more esoteric volumes thrown away as unwanted.

Ah well, I guess such is life. We are here, we collect stuff, and then we die, unable to take anything with us. I won't be concerned with my library's future once I'm dead. (Estate Seller: I threw the last of those old books in the dumpster, boss, can I go home now? Boss: Yes, just turn the lights off before you go. Estate Seller: What is that strange smell? Boss: Oh my God, your car is on fire! A bit later on the news. Newscaster: A car caught fire today, and eyewitnesses say they saw what looked like a ghost around the vehicle carrying a bottle of gasoline moments before the blaze. A trick of the light, or ghostly vengeance from beyond?)

Ha! Okay, that's not really going to happen.................or is it?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hell Hath No Fury... a woman scorned.
No, seriously, don't piss them off.

So Tell Me, Joey......

You like movies about gladiators?

When the Going Gets Tough.....

...the tough get going.

I, however, have always preferred to find something nice and distracting
to hold my attention until the problem goes away on its own.

I am the consummate marshmallow.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I have always had a very powerful imagination. I'm not sure if my love of imagining led me to read books as a child, or if my constant reading caused my imagination to grow. Either way, the bottom line is that I've always lived in my head; I've had friends in my head, visited far away lands and fantastical places through imaginary journeys, and created and destroyed countless civilizations.

I distinctly remember my very first crush on a man. It was sitting through reruns of the police drama Adam 12 that I discovered the handsome Martin Milner. He played Officer Pete Malloy, one of a pair of cops riding around in the cruiser designated Adam-12. He always wore a rather form fitting uniform, and had a presence to him that, as a child, I found fascinating. It would be untrue for me to suggest I had any sort of sexual fantasies about him. After all, I was in elementary school at the time and had no clue about stuff like that. I did pretend that he was my friend and that we would do things together, though, like riding in the cruiser, rescuing people from danger together, etc. Perhaps what I experienced was more hero worship than a crush, but he stayed with me for years, both in my waking and sleeping dreams.

A shadow of where my sexuality would eventually lie came from another crush of mine in the shape of the cutie Will Robinson, played by actor Bill Mumy. Like Adam 12, I watched Lost in Space in syndication because the show was aired before I was born, but as a child, who cared about that? I remember being totally enchanted by the character of Will and wishing that he was my best friend. Of course, with a little imagination and a large cardboard box to serve as a ship, he was my best friend every weekend and during the summer months. As with Martin Milner, I don't recall any overtly sexual thoughts regarding Will, but I do remember that I loved to look at him. Due to the fact that Bill Mumy was a minor in his role of Will, I will not go into detail of where I liked to look or what scenes seem to be burned into my memories because that is edging too far into creepy territory. But as I said, my fantasies and dreams were not sexual at all. They involved boyish adventures like exploring and fighting, or Lost in Space type of adventures of being stranded on alien planets and attacked by hostiles. Fun stuff for a ten year old kid.

I find that as kids grow up, one of the things that they seem to lose or ignore is their imagination. Suddenly, they are immersed in "reality", whatever that may be, and stop dreaming and fantasizing. I seem to recall a passage in the Bible that even speaks of us having to set aside childish things and entering the world of the adult. Well, sorry mortal bible writers, I disagree. Throughout junior high school, high school, and now as an adult, my imagination has been my constant companion throughout my life's journey. And though I have been told that I run from reality and take solace in what is unreal, I don't believe that to be true. I think my imagination has allowed me to see far beyond what my colleagues can see, to discover weaknesses and problems in plans before they manifest, to find solutions to situations that no one has even recognized exist, and to have words prepared for times of crisis because I envisioned all of these possibilities long ago.

To ignore reality in favor of the unreal is certainly unhealthy. That is most certainly not what I am suggesting anyone do. But, to embrace the imagination, though, is like having the gift of foresight. By playing out all of the myriad possibilities in a situation, I can very often predict what will happen, what people are going to say, or why things will succeed or fail. It's not due to magical powers, but rather to a powerful imagination. I am very glad I refused to set mine aside as society expects us to, and I never will.

Remember what Albert Einstein said. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”