31 March 2007

Coming To A Planet, er... City Near You

As the convention season is starting to spin up again, I thought I would add my list of shows where we will be recruiting... um, I mean selling fine anime products. We might be adding one in St. Louis, but I think it is too close to the date, and I might not be at the one in Boston, but should be at the others, and will most definitely be at Sakura-Con, Anime Matsuri, AnimeCentral, and A-kon. We are also doing a small show this weekend in Columbus, (Anime Punch), but the boss is handling that.

Anyway, if I disappear for a few days (aside from family concerns), these are the reasons why... nothing to do with the Rebel Alliance, nothing at all :)


29 March 2007

Matters Of Time

Again, sometimes you just have to write and let it all out... a little stream of consciousness, not quite a departure, but just a little something I was thinking about in relation to time and other things that seem to step outside of time every now and then.

'Memory... Moment...'

Fades with the instant
lost between seconds uncounted
Heralding calm that endures
yet drifts listless restless
So wondrous
This gift a spark never
yielding but fluid
elusive and constant...

Memory and moment brush
glance caress
yearn seek need...

delicate movement inured
beyond simple passion
though waits in words
brilliant enfolding
tenuous though tender
lost between seconds...

Future and moment collide
bespeak embrace
In memory of ecstasy...
Memory moment future
glance caress
yearn seek need.


27 March 2007

Books That Changed This Life

First off, I would like to thank M for inadvertently inspiring this post for while commenting on her most recent post I thought a little bit about books that inspired me/changed me for the better (worse could be for another time, I suppose, but I really can't think of too many books that have done that... depressed, sucked, needed to be used for toilet paper, yes, but not made me a worse person). So, I thought I would talk about a few books that have helped inspire the person I am, sort of made me think about some of the deeper things, and allowed me to really see. Of course, much of this change comes from within, but certain writings can show us the door that needs to be opened. Whether we open it or not is up to us.

1) Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter by Thomas Cahill: I did not read this until fall of 2005 (I think it came out in 2004 anyway), but since then, this excellent book, especially the first two chapters, have stayed with me. Cahill proposes that the Greeks showed us how to Fight, Feel, Think, and Party, and that is why they matter... for some, the bit on partying alone might make them matter. However, the chapters 'How to Fight' and 'How to Feel' deal with the Iliad and The Odyssey respectively (and shows the order, unlike many American high schools, in which they should be read), and the idea of such emotions in Western literature. From a philosophical point of view, the books are the thread of Homer's life, first as a young man reaching into the world and doing what young men do. The words and images of The Iliad are that of a young man, and you get a sense of hopefulness that is borne of youth throughout the poem/book, even as you know that most of the participants are doomed but a few.

Some of those few are chronicled in The Odyssey and I need not explain the tale for it is one of those books that we all know (or should know). The interesting thing about The Odyssey is the fact it seems more primitive (hence it being taught first) or not even written/composed by Homer. What Cahill proposes, and what seems to be the real sense after reading the book/poem again, is that The Odyssey is the work of an older man, one who has seen much, and one who simply longs for his rest, one who longs for home. The wanderer that is Odysseus, after so much travail, earns his rest and the horrors of war, the rage of Achilles is finally stilled in the land and woman he loved so much. In many ways, this is the essence of life, the journey that we all undertake and so many times falter, but we are always seeking, longing, and that emotion, that hope, was borne amid the waters of a wine-dark sea.

2) Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke: Fiction can do as much to alter the perceptions of the soul as non-fiction (especially if one feels holy books fiction more than non-fiction, but that is something we all must decide individually), and Arthur C. Clarke has been one of those authors that has continually made me question the ideas of time and memory, and the beauty of Childhood's End was that it was written 20 years before I was born. Clarke proposes the idea of racial memory for the past and the future and that things in our past that we fear are not necessarily borne of the evils of the past, but the tide of the future. The book also preys upon the fears of nuclear holocaust and ufos in general at the time, but it remains a classic for the questions it forces the reader to ask of itself and humanity in general.

3) Robots and Empire and Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov: I must discuss these books together for they are linked in plot and theme, and one is the direct inheritor of the other, finally linking Asimov's Robot novels with the Foundation series. As literature, it is masterful, as philosophy and ethics, the novels are examples of what we can be if we truly put our minds to it (in some cases literally). While these books were written in the 80's, they are borne of the mindset of the 50's and the novels from that time. In that, both books are classic science fiction, though a little updated. Still, they keep the feel of those fantastic stories of a generation past.

Asimov was the first science fiction author I read, and I think I read the first Foundation books initially, then I was swept up in the later books as they came out when I was a teenager. Asimov opened a door that already existed thanks to movies and tv shows like Star Wars and Star Trek, but it helped me realize a love affair with science fiction writing that has hardly abated even in the face of my love for non-fiction and history.

4) Timeline by Michael Crichton: I must mention this book for I would never have read the book that comes after this had I not read this book first. Timeline was a brilliantly executed piece of fiction (even if the movie was a poor imitation of the novel) that pushed the bounds of the ideas of 'time travel' but those of the common notions of the Middle Ages. At the time, I enjoyed Medieval History, but nothing like the hold it has over me now. Something about the clarity of discussion in the novel about Medieval society and the Hundred Years War clicked, and when I turned to his bibliography, it was clear he had done his research. Many of the books he recommended I have since used in papers and found them to be amazing books in their own right, and Crichton led me to another author that I might not have read otherwise, the eminent Medieval historian, Norman F. Cantor.

5) In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made by Norman F. Cantor: Dr. Cantor has been writing about the Middle Ages longer than I have been alive and has written several books I highly recommend for the casual historian and for those who study intellectual history (meaning the history of a history). His book Inventing the Middle Ages is a seminal work on Medieval intellectual history, though I recommend it only if you are serious about history. It is a tough read. As for as In the Wake of the Plague, this was a book that really cemented my love for the time period, not so much because it is a plague history, but because it treats the plague as the many things it was: a history altering event as much as it was a pandemic as it was a cultural shift. The plague caused many events that seemed little at the time but would shape the world as we knew it. One example is the migration of the European Jewry to Poland and Eastern Europe, which would have enormous ramifications to say the least in the 19th and 20th centuries. It altered the economy from one of predominantly agriculture to a wage and town economy thanks to the population shifts, and it created a reactionary thinking toward the Church, leading to works such as The Decamaron and the insight necessary for the Renaissance. Alas, it did not alter war as it only created a small hiccup in the Hundred Years War, but the plague had a subtle hand in creating the modern world, for good or ill. For me, this has always been important, this shift in understanding, for without such death and suffering the world we know might never have been.

Well, this has run longer than I thought, and five books should do, though I could list a couple of others, but it is not necessary. As I mentioned before, the books have helped illuminate the passageways. How I proceeded has always been up to me.


25 March 2007

A Quick Update

Why? A) The season finale of BSG... B) I am wiped out from the craziness of AggieCon, since I had to do everything solo this weekend (though many of my kind neighbours at the show helped out in a pinch) and C) I am wiped out mentally from so many awesome conversations about philosophy and LARPing and philosophy in LARPing... but more for another time. I owe y'all some comments of course, and I will get to them once I get some sleep :)


21 March 2007

On Writing

note: I thought I would leave you great folks with something a little more substantial than saying, 'see ya in a few days' since I will be mostly without Internet access while at A&M during AggieCon (that's Texas A&M for the unfamiliar :). Therefore, I thought I would wax philosophical or tangential about one of the subjects most dear to my heart: writing.

For some, this might be a little repetitive, especially if they have read my entry, 'The Poet', but this incorporates newer and perhaps more refined thoughts about the subject of writing as a whole and not just the art of poetry. Admittedly, most of my writing has been poetic, even when it has not been poetry. Even my non-fiction papers have been accused (is that the proper word?) of being poetic at times. I will also say, I do not write as much as some, and less than I would like, but even when I am not writing, I am thinking about writing. In my mind, it feels as natural as breathing. At times, I see the words and how they should form before I even question if the form is proper. To me, this is how it always was. That might sound a little arrogant, but it is not intended. It is really the best way for me to describe the process, a process that has always been so instinctive, once I knew it existed.

I often wonder what is so unique about humanity compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. Some might say language, the ability to communicate. Well, we are not unique in that regard. Many species can communicate with one another even if we do not understand them. Perhaps it is the ability to make tools. That certainly separates us from most, but not all species (some chimpanzees and other primates can make primitive tools, and I suspect cetaceans would be able if they had hands instead of flippers... or they do not care.). Some might even say that we build communities, and while our community building is complex and incredible, again, not unique. We are, however, the only species that can put our voice to page, or the only species that has shown the ability to do so. That, to me, is our uniqueness, and our incredible beauty. But what about the concept of the soul? Without writing, I think our sense of the divine, or of the soul would be primitive. The ability to create pictures, words, symbols and phrases upon stone, papyrus, clay, vellum, and paper has enhanced our ability to understand the soul and reach for the divine, however we interpret such things. Without writing, our divine spark, our connection to the universe as a whole, is diminished.

One might not care whether writing allowed us to create the words that might have enlightened or repressed us, depending on the view, but writing has allowed our species to grow, as it has allowed me to grow, as it has allowed anyone to grow who seeks such knowledge. When I write, it is not enough for me to simply put the words to page and be done. I have to know why I did it (and perhaps unfortunately tell everyone else why too :) as much as I am satisfied that I have created something. I have to be sure I created something from the divine part of myself, the part of the universe that is manifest in me (I was planning to work that in somehow :). Maybe I am a perfectionist in that regard, but it suits me fine. I cannot seek the divine through religion or nominal spiritual means. My path, while similar, does not lie along that road. It is not a road less traveled by any stretch, but it is my own. Of course, this does not mean that my writing is divinely inspired, hardly that. It means that in order for me to be satisfied with writing, I must reach back into the heart of the universe itself, or that is at least how I perceive it. Writing is as much an act of love for me as illuminating manuscripts was to monks in the Middle Ages. I would not call it sacrosanct, but it is the best part of me.

Even in something so small as a blog entry (or so large, since in essence I share it with the world, regardless of the number of people that see it), it is my intent to give my all to the words. Even still, I do have entries where obviously this is not so. Clearly, my lists and minor updates have little to do with my seeking the divine, the manifestation of the universe as a whole in myself and all of us. But for the most part, I mean it when I say in my little 'about me' blurb that all you really need to know about me is the words. They are what I know and what I can give to you, dear readers, and to the universe at large.

Everyone have a great weekend in advance,


20 March 2007

The Universe Made Manifest

We are the universe made manifest... to me, a simple, endearing truth. It is a thought borne from the cradle of all existence. Nothing so much in trying times gives me comfort. Knowing such things (as much as one can) allows me peace when all around me is complicated at best and falling apart at worst. Not that such things are occurring at the moment, though I am dealing with the same family issues as before, and I worry about the coming end of the week as I always do before a convention. Still, I can set it all aside, and call it meditation, thought, or something deeper... it washes away. It is what I can do to when life appears to fail and I can do nothing about it save this... let the knowledge of what we are, were, and will be comfort me. Perhaps that is my solace, if you will (since I asked the question about it some posts back).

I think if more of us understood this simplicity, we might be more peaceful about things to come, what we have suffered, and even the day to day that consumes us. Besides, I would rather write about something hopeful like this... melancholy has its place, I suppose. So long as I wonder about the beauty of the universe as a whole, I am not sure melancholy is needed. I realise how idealistic that sounds, but sometimes one has to be a little idealistic now and then.


16 March 2007


Sometimes I feel as if I have written as a young man, reaching toward all that should or could be. Others, as someone older, perhaps not so wiser, but yearning for the home that was. I think that is the curse of wanderers such as myself, and other more famous wanderers throughout history...

'Toward Ithaca Home'

A thought of gentle solace,
Grants so little respite
Within such unrelenting carnage,
Amid the pyres of the dead.

A brush of a delicate hand,
Yields a wealth of distant hope
Through desolation and fortune,
Beyond even the river of the damned.

A simple word or two remembered,
Quiets the thunder of rage
That set so much of a world alight,
Borne from the promises of the dead.

A memory of a life forgotten,
Gives way to present joy
Within the welcoming embrace of love,
That always rested...
Upon Ithaca's gleaming shores.


15 March 2007


Sometimes it is the waiting that gets you. Anyway, I thought I would update a little, so it does not appear I have dropped off the face of the planet entirely. I did manage to see '300' (excellent film... perhaps more on that another time) and got to see a friend I had not seen in awhile, but mostly, just wondering and waiting. One always hopes for the best, but time is ever our enemy, so to speak.

Anyway, I will try and get more composed over the weekend, as I do need to add something more substantial, no, I want to (if I treat it as a need, then what is the point of doing this?), especially before I head to AggieCon next week, where my contact will be limited, since I am the only one going and I do not have a laptop (I know, blasphemous, but I would rather have a better desktop :)

I hope everyone is having a good week.


10 March 2007


This is sort of a cop-out post, almost to take up space I suppose. What I was meaning to write needs to wait for reasons that will be explained in said post. I am sorry if I have not made my regular blog visits the past couple of days. Those, and the next few will be a little hectic, and it has nothing to do with conventions (for once). Simply a family issue that is taking place, and I will let everyone know as it becomes appropriate.

In the meantime, I looked back briefly at an older piece after writing the poem in the previous post and wondered about some edits. In the end, I changed the verse structure by turning parts of it into refrains, and I think, when reading, it gives the reader the pause they should get were I to speak it (as it should be, but alas, impossible in this medium, unless I podcast all my poetry... mmm, that would be fun :)

Anyway, I offer the link below for those that had read this piece and those that might still be interested... this is my cop-out, just an edit of an old poem... at least it's one I like:



08 March 2007

Poetry Thursday: Stains

This is written in response to Poetry Thursday: the prompt is red. This is the first time I have officially responded to the prompts, so here goes.


I see them... I see it...

Such a small, unassuming space...
to unleash a thousand kinds of hell.
So many places, why this?
when so many others might do.
So many deaths in a callous instant...
for nothing more than a... word.

I shout to them... I yell...

Such a shattered, terrible milieu...
as the madness consumes it all.
So many lost, for what?
when so many others should do.
So many histories fragmented in fury...
for nothing save we asked them to.

I reach...

Such a quiet, calm sound...
to end the horrors of the day.
So many forgotten, and now?
when no one else could do.
So much I needed to say...
for the stains shall never fade.


06 March 2007

Places I've Never Been

For those with a side interest in the normal goings on in my life... I have been gaming a little more lately and had a great game the other night, one of those epic sessions where the dice fall (for the players) in ways that they aren't meant to and the GM(that's me) groans, but everyone still has a great time. I have also been gaming with some people I had not seen in awhile, so that has been awesome too. A nice, refreshing change before my schedule gets really out of whack with conventions in the next couple of weeks.

This post is certainly not a philosophical wonderment of places I long for metaphysically, but a general entry about places I would like to see before the Apocalypse or we are all chasing each other across the landscape in Mad-max style vehicles or running around taking each other out with swords and bows. Seriously, for all my travels, a few places do hold a certain allure to me, and I would like to say, 'I've been there.'. Not much deeper than that :)

1) Fontevraud Abbey, Chinon, France: Not surprising, I suspect, considering my love for medieval history. I have written about this place before in my entry: Fontevraud Abbey. Really, almost all of the medieval sites in France I would love to visit, especially in Normandy, Poitou, Gascogne and the Aquitaine. Naturally, I would need to visit many sites in England as well, to get the full effect, but the final resting place of Richard I and Eleanor of Aquitaine tops my list.

2) Flanders Fields, Ypres, Belgium: I have wanted to visit Belgium for its medieval sites as well, considering its connection to England and France during the Hundred Years War, but at Ypres, several major battles of the Great War were fought, and one of the most famous poems in military history was written about the cost of the battles and the War. Of course, I would like to see other sites from one of the most terrible wars in history, but I would like to begin here.

3) South Africa: Going from the specific to the general, I simply have always wanted to visit the place, more or less Cape Town and the coast, eastward to Durban, but most of the rest of the country would do as well. I am not sure I want to go in 2010, since they are hosting the World Cup then, but perhaps before or after :)

4) Aix-la-Chappelle/Aachen, Westphalia, Germany: Not quite the place it was back in the days of Charlemagne, but, since it was nearly destroyed a couple of times, one can forgive. Again, the historian in me wants to see the ancient capital of the Frankish Empire, now the westermost city in Germany.

5) Japan: Again, not to specific here. I suppose Tokyo is a given, but because of anime, and to some extent history :) I would like to visit quite a few places in Japan, some for historical reasons, others not, but a general roaming about the country would be nice.

6) South Island, New Zealand: I never got to see the South Island, so I thought the next time I go to New Zealand I would make sure and go further south. I also mean to finally get to Wellington as well.

7) Alaska, Hawaii, Kentucky and Maine: No real reason, other than the fact I have been to or driven through every other state in the Union... might as well get to them before we add another state :)

8) Ilios, Asia Minor (modern Turkey): No time traveling (though that might be cool), but I would like to see the sites of the excavations of Troy and its surrounds, (as well as other sites in the Aegean) and perhaps have a chance to look back the millenia and see those fabled shores from a new perspective... one can dream.

9) Carthage, Tunisia: As long as we are on ancient historical sites, Carthage is another place I would like to see, or at least the ruins of said place. Also, a great deal of Operation Torch was fought in Tunis, and I would not mind seeing some of those sites as well.

10) Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, Argentina: I figure if I go to Argentina, I might as well see the ends of the Earth while I am at it, and see the storm-tossed Strait of Magellan, and one of the more isolated regions on Earth.

Well, that's a few of the places I would like to see sometime... maybe I will get to a few of them. Hope you get to where you are going as well. We all deserve it, I think.


03 March 2007

Life, The Universe And Other Mundane Things That Might Or Might Not Equal 42....

With a title like that, expect some rambling :)

As I roam the blogsphere, -nation, -ville, etc, I am always struck by the infinite variety of the way things are said, though not necessarily what is said. In the end, most blogs I have read do boil down to the every days of life. This, of course, is not altogether bad, not by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, it makes me wonder about my writings from time to time. I see so many good people writing about what is good, bad or indifferent in their lives, and see it so often that I am concerned if I have a life at all. Of course, though I have become more and more ascetic (though not necessarily sedentary... so I suppose I would have been a great traveling monk) toward materialism and culture in general, I still commiserate with humanity from time to time; however, I do think about what I might be missing sometimes. On the other hand, I have done a lot of living in these 34 years, so that is not all bad, but so much is left to be understood and so many places yet to go, and secrets to uncover, so to speak.

When I started this blog, I intended to use it as an archive for my writings and poems, and to consider the deeper questions in life, some philosophical, some political, and some historical, these being areas of training and delight in my life. I probably meant to add less lists and data concerning my life and interests, but those simply evolved thanks to my mood and seeing different memes around the blog. It also gave me something to fill up some empty space. I think that I feel a little disappointed if I am not adding an entry at least every couple of days, unless (like two weeks ago) I am unable to for connection reasons. And yet, I keep hearkening back to what I yearn for, a seeking of understanding greater than this simple shell, and not understanding from a religious or spiritual point of view (though some might call my quest spiritual of a sort), but an understanding of the universe as itself, as we are to it, and as it, and we were meant to be. Philosophical and metaphysical, certainly, but less a desire to know a 'god' but a desire to 'know', so more of a gnosis as opposed to apotheosis. What this also does is fuse many of the things I love into a single understanding: science, science fiction, history, philosophy, and to some extent, theology, all these things combine into seeking the heart of the universe without and within our not so mundane lives as we imagine.

Perhaps some higher understanding of self exists within the mundane acts of everyday. Maybe to seek, one has to live, not just in understanding, but in the world around us. I suppose that has always been my concern with monasticism. Originally, monasteries were created to save civilization, and they did to some extent. Later, they existed to set themselves apart from it, to achieve a higher sense of the divine. Supposedly, it works for them, but I wonder if it cut themselves off from the divine, the higher purpose of self in the ebb and flow of life. They lived outside of life, but maybe failed to understand that to understand the life, one has to simply live it. Or at least live it, and open oneself to understanding it.

So, by reading others and the details of their life, I am experiencing a higher understanding? Truly, I do not know, but while I appreciate the idea of ascetics from time to time, it does lack for experiential learning. I admit, if I had to choose between my travels and what I learned from them, or my book learning, it would be a tough call, but I would choose my travels, for the experiences have made me a better man, far better than simple words on a page, or a lecture in a classroom (and I suppose I should clarify on book learning, let us say outside of high school since up through that point, the basics of learning are indeed important). Of course, the fusion of both has been the better path, so I would rather continue along it. Indeed, I have never been so much at my best when I have been on the road, wherever it has taken me and will take me. I suppose that means I should travel more... perhaps, so long as I am seeking the same understanding of the life, universe, and other mundane things as I apparently have always sought :) Or maybe I should answer '42' and be done with it.

I guess I did not ramble tangential as much as I thought. Funny, when I think I am going to ramble, I often do not, and vice versa.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, all.


01 March 2007

The Birthday Edition

The title sounds better than other things that advertise the art of getting older :) In any event, I thought about writing something longer, but I more or less covered the rant yesterday. I also started to write about birthdays past and weirder experiences, but nothing seemed right, or it just seemed too showy, I guess. Not that was the intention.

In any event, my body reminded me this morning that I had entered the mid-30's (34) with a bruise on my foot that keeps aggravating me, and the constant creaking and popping of my joints as I go up and down the stairs. Still, I feel young in mind and soul, and that's what matters... right? :)

Take care everyone, and enjoy my birthday for me :)