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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Work on hold

For six years I could sit and write in an office and even get paid. Then I broke my hand, hurt my back, lost my business. While I was healing I did some editing on books already in print, but not much on my works in progress. I'm recovering right now from cataract surgery with another one to go. I've been doing a lot of reading, blogging and posting on fb. Maybe I need to get back to some writing again. Here's what I was working on:

Stephanus -- The sequel to Optimus: Praetorian Guard. I have Optimus's eldest son as a freedman in the palace with Domitian, his other son Sextus on the German frontier. Optimus is exiled to Patmos where the Apostle John is exiled.
I've done a good job with the palace intrigue setting up Stephanus to assasinate Domitian. Sextus fighting in Moesia and Dacia leading to the Praetorians turning against Domitian after he negotiates a weak treaty with Dacia.
I've bogged down with Optimus as he acting as a scribe to the aged John while he writes his Gospel, three epistles and Revelaton. In twelve years since the novel Optimus I've researched Revelation putting the apocalypse in context with the first century Christians. 
My problem is trying to make the writing of John interesting and not dry or boring. Spacing out between Rome and Germania helps some, but it's been a long process. I think I've got a reasonable explaination of Revelation for the time period, now its butt in seat time.

Matthew Fontaine Maury: My wife's maiden name is Maury. Her father has a family tree book and it is full of articles on Matthew Fontaine Maury.
MFM is known as the pathfinder of the seas. I had never heard of him, but he is the father of oceanography, meteorology and the inventor of naval mine warfare.
There have been two naval vessels named the USS Maury, both were research vessels mapping the floor of the oceans.
I found a biography and read it. His life is absolutely fascinating, but there are a number of biographies, one by his daughter. I thought I would try my hand at fictional history. Historical fiction is like Optimus. Not a real person, but he carries the story in the time and setting with historical people around him. Fictional history is where every character in the book is historical and everything in the story actually happened.

Here are a few of the facts about MFM:

  • His grandfather was the Rev. James Maury. James Maury was the tutor to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Both of whom were living with him when MFM's father was born and were witnesses. My wife's ancestor was the second son of James while MFM's was the youngest son.
  • As a midshipman in the Navy MFM was onboard the ship that took the Marquis de Lafayette back to France after his tour of America twenty years after the revolutionary war. The ship went on to be the first US warship to circumnavigate the globe.
  • He injured his leg in a stage coach accident and was unable to return to active sea duty.
  • He was assigned to take over the newly built Naval Observatory in Washington DC. (Now the residence of the Vice President.)
  • He organized all the captains logs naval and merchant aquired over the previous years. With two assistants he compiled and tracked the flow of the oceans. This revealed and he charted the Gulf Stream. Creating new charts and distributing them in 1848 to all sea captains this cut the time for sailing from the Atlantic to the Pacific by six months just in time for the gold rush in 1849.
  • He oversaw the first sounding across the Atlantic and laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable to England. The first telegraph message was addressed to him congratulating him for the accomplishment.
  • He took part in the first meeting of scientists to chart and graph weather.
  • He wrote the Naval Academy textbook on oceanography used until 1927.
  • He sided with the confederacy in the Civil War, which is why history is a little silent on him.
  • He developed the first naval torpedo as it was called at the time. They were used to mine the rivers and ports of the South keeping the Union from taking Richmond by ship. The famous saying of Admiral Farragut when taking Mobile bay was, "Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead.
  • He's buried between James Madison and James Monroe.
There are many more things that he accomplished. It's a daunting task to try and fictionalize his life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wednesday challenge

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

Today's challenge is books we read in school that we didn't like.
Having taught English the number one reason students don't like a book is that they have to read it.
1. The Biological Basis for Human Freedom by Theodosius Dobzhenski  -- My sophomore English teacher made us read this to blend with our biology class. I re-read it after graduating college. It was way too difficult at that age.
2. Don Quixote by Cervantes -- Had to translate it in Spanish class and then read it for World Literature. Bombed both tests and it kept me from getting an A in WL. Grrr.
3. A Separate Peace by John Knowles -- I could suffer no more than ten pages. 
4. Silas Marner by George Elliot -- I read after college and grew to like it.
5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens -- I was in 9th grade and was out with strep throat when the teacher showed the movie. When I got back I had to read it and take a different test. That would ruin any book.
6. Pilgrims Progress by Paul Bunyan -- My mother made me read it as punishment when I was suspended from school (8th grade) my one and only time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday

Today's top ten is literary characters I want to be besties with.

1. Mike Hammer: This is a guy you can have a drink with talk sports, women, and politics. Just be sure to have your back to a wall facing the door and be ready to duck for cover if need be.
I the Jury by Mickey Spillane 

2. Rhett Butler: This is a guy who knows what he wants and how to get it. Riding his coat tails could get me rich.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

3. Aslan: He may be a lion, but he's willing to lay down his life for others.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

4. Blood: The telepathic dog. It would be cool to have an intelligent conversation with a faithful friend. Even if in a post apocalyptical world.
A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison 

5. F'Lar: Oh how I would love to talk about having a telepathic link with a dragon, flying between to get from place to place and fighting thread, and how to become a dragon rider like him.
Dragon Flight by Anne McCaffery. 

6. Killishandra Ree: To have a conversation with someone who has perfect pitch and can sing for crystal that is the key to all communication in the universe. Maybe be with her while she's doing it and is sexually turned on.
The Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffery

7. Pappy Zack: Oh the tales he could tell about discovering Little Fuzzies and the fight to keep them from being treated as slaves by unscrupulous mining companies.
Little Fuzzie by H.B. Piper

8. Faerowyn: What a joy it would be to travel with a half dark elf trying to find her father and claim her royalty in an enchanted world.
Dark Blade by Tony Roberts.

9.Sextus Casca Longinus: To have a drink in a bar and listen to just one of his adventures ranging from the time of Tiberias in Ancient Rome to the present day. What a trip.
Casca The Eternal Mercenary by Barry Sadler

10. Hillary Ashton Pellham-Martin: To meet and know someone who could fit into the world of Hindu and English. Married a princess and live to tell the tale of fighting in Kabul against the Afghans. What a conversation that would be.
The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kay

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Wednesday Challenge

Today's challenge is top ten books I've never reviewed.

Little Fuzzy by H. Bean Piper
  A series of books dealing with a sentient species called Fuzzies, great books, prototype for Tribbles.

The Trouble with Tribbles --David Gerrold
    Interesting telling of how Gerrold sold the screen play to Star Trek for Trouble with Tribbles. It includes the screenplay.

Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlein
     Learn how to Grok religion

An Innocent Man -- John Grisham
     A factual account of how an innocent man spent years on death row and how he was exhonerated.

Ultimate Punishment -- Scott Turow
     Arguments for both sides on the issue of Death Penalty. Sophistry at its best. Recommend listening to the audio with Turow reading it. He doesn't give his oppinion until the last sentence.

The entire First Man in Rome series by Colleen McCullagh
     From the rise of Marcus Crassus in the First Man in Rome through the fall of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra. Historical, political, social, military understanding of ancient Rome.

The Discourses -- Niccolo Machiavelli
     Everyone focuses on The Prince, but The Discourses are one of the documents that influenced the U.S. Constitution.

No Rust Swords -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 A compilation of sermons by a great mind killed by Hilter.

Worthy is the Lamb -- Ray Summers
     Amillennial interpretation on end times. No rapture, no mellinnial reign. First half of book explains appocolyptic literature the send half is an interpretation of Revelation.

Sun Tzu -- The Art of War
     Ancient Chinese philospher who in 13 short chapters still influences military, business and romantic thought.

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus -- John Gray
     This was a game changer in my marriage. When I taught sociology and pschology in high school it was a textbook.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Fifth Element

Ever had a really bad week? I mean a week where by Friday night you're dragging and wanting to do nothing but curl up in bed, watch a movie that will take you into an escape world that will make you forget all your problems?

My wife and I found such a movie. For years whenever we've decided both of us have had a meatgrinder week and need to escape and forget; all either one of has had to say was, "Big Badda Boom."
We pop some popcorn, snuggle under the covers and watch The Fifth Element.
There's just something about the universe this movie displays. It has technology galore with flying cars crisscrossed in layers from the ground to the stratosphere. Aliens helping an ancient evil intent on destroying all life. A super rich guy, superbly played by Gary Oldman. An ex-military guy (Bruce Willis) turned cab driver; divorced, living in a dump and out of nowhere a woman drops through the roof of his cab. All he can understand of her gibberish is, "Boom, big badda boom."
The woman is Leeloo (Milla Jovavich), she's the fifth element sent to Earth to stop the ultimate evil. It gets crazy from there.
Chris Tucker plays a DJ named Ruby Rodd, and when he's broadcasting is non stop jabber. I wanted to stuff his mouth with a dirty sock by the end of the movie the first time I saw it. Now he's the funniest part of the movie.
There's one scene where a Diva is singing she's about ten feet tall and blue with tentacles for hair, but has the most amazing voice and in one spot she runs the scale from deep bass to high soprano effortlessly. Amazing.
This did the trick for us for many long years before we retired. Now we're not under the weekly stress of having to put up with nit-wit administrators and passive aggressive students for me and for her a weekly deadline to put out a paper when she was the assistant editor--the movie is now something we enjoy about once a year just of the hell of it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wednesday Challenge: favorite food & recilpe

Wednesday challenge: Favorite food and recipe

I don't cook. I heat. For a couple of years I lived alone and got by with doing easy to fix stuff like Hamburger helper, tuna helper and such.

Here are a couple of things I came up with to heat.

1. Barbeque sloppy joes: Brown a pound of hamburger, smother with French's Cattleman's BBQ sauce, add diced bell pepper, chopped onions or dehydrated onions. Make sandwiches out of it.

2. Pineapple angle food cake: 1 can shredded pineapple, box of angle food cake. Mix pineapple in the cake mix. Bake as directed on the box.

3. Cheese and olive spread: Take a package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, mix with a small can of diced ripe olives. Mix and let set in the refrigerator of an hour. Use as a spread on bagels, on crackers, as a sandwich.

4. Green Chile dip: 1 package Philadelphia Cream Cheese,  tub of sour crème, package of diced green chili. Mix ingredients, dive in. Got this from a Mexican Restaurant in Farmington, NM.

5. Pan fried fish. Take fileted tilapia or salmon or thawed frozen shrimp (I like larger ones with the tails off) Cook in a skillet in butter or olive oil cover with rosemary and garlic.

6. Spicy spaghetti: Fix noodles, instead of using tomato sauce try on can of El Pato sauce. Add frozen meatballs or ground hamburger or chicken strips.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Top Ten Harlan Ellison Books

For my top ten Tuesday I chose Harlan Ellison one of favorite authors.

Three essays on television: The Glass Teat, The Other Glass Teat and Watching. The first two are full of fire and vinegar as he lambasts the medium, politicians and society. He gives them both barrels. Watching he toned things down and stuck to just critiquing  television.

Short story anthologies of some of the weirdest, depressing, funny and  downright strange. All of them take you on a wild ride. His titles are say so much. A number of his top awards are for stories in these books. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Paingod and Other Stories, Deathbird Stories, The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World.

An absolute must have for any Harlan Ellison aficionado. I got mine from the SF book club for a song compared to what is would cost today. The Essential Ellison a 50-year retrospective.

Memos From Purgatory. An autobiographical work telling of him as a young man joining a street gang in New York before writing his first novel. It was turned into a teleplay as the first episode of Alfred Hitchock Presents with a young James Caan playing Harlan in 1960.

Lastly is Strange Wine another anthology of short stories.

This only scratches the surface of all the books of his I've read, and there are so many yet to read.