I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, but not the kind of reading that gives me spine tingling chills, or makes me laugh, or even allows me to contemplate life as we know it.
Well, perhaps that last part just a bit.
No, none of my recent reading has been fiction related (though it helps to read it for writing fiction). It’s been about the treatment of fictional characters. In particular, GLBTQ fictional characters.
I’ve seen this a lot in different forms of media whenever a gay male or a lesbian is presented. There’s a certain stereotype and it’s played over and over and over again. If a gay male, he is predominantly portrayed a feminine, and will have a certain number of traits that include his likes and dislikes. If a lesbian, she is usually portrayed in one of two ways; either butch with short hair and liking “male things”, or as the “elusive lipstick lesbian. The latter is often times (in fictional media) used as an object of desire for men, and at some point in the narrative ends up making out with another equally gorgeous woman.
In reality, which is the real world around us that we live and breath in, these stereotypes don’t exist. So why do they persist in media? Are they used as something funny? Because to be honest, it’s not very funny. At this point, it’s very, very old and tired. It’s kind of like hearing the chicken and the road joke for the thousandth time. I’ve heard it before, it’s not new, please stop trying to tell it to me.
GLBTQ people are no different from anyone else. I shouldn’t have to say it, but I guess it bares repeating. They, like anyone, has their likes, dislikes, passions, hobbies, careers, and so much more. There is as much diversity with GLBTQ individuals as there is with anyone else.
This point came up recently for me when I received an email from someone who read my book, The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider. They liked it, but…
It was the obligatory “but” that I had often waited for; not a critique about spelling or plot devices or flow of the story (which I really welcome, because it only helps to get better as a writer to hear what people have to say whether good or bad). But (there it is again) this particular complaint was about the portrayal of the two main characters.
Shani Wennemein and Pania Alow are a pair of gunslinging elves traveling through the United States and the Confederacy during the Civil War. Shani is much more the gunslinger, and has a rough and ready appeal to her, wears worn leathers and a pair of Colt 45s that hang low on her hips. She has black hair that covers her shoulders and she drinks whiskey and smokes hand rolled cigarillos.
Meanwhile, Pania Alow is very much a swashbuckler. She like pretty things, dresses in finery, even when she’s in a sword duel or in a gun fight. Has long, blond hair kept in curls, and even takes the time to do up her own makeup before venturing onto the road again.
That’s a very short description of the two main characters. There’s other words to describe them; Shani is tall and thin, Pania is curvy and outgoing. All of that is fine and good, but the writer of the email didn’t like one particular aspect of the two. The writer felt that one part should have been reversed.
You see, Shani is straight, while Pania is a lesbian.
The writer of the email felt it should have been the other way around, citing that Shani seemed more “butch” than Pania. Quite frankly, I never imagined Shani as “butch”. She did wear clothes that seemed more suited to a man, but that was how she felt most comfortable. The writer went onto to say that Pania seemed more feminine (which she does and feels completely comfortable that way) and should have been straight, or at the very least bi.
Sorry to burst bubbles, but no. I will take critiques and suggestions of how to present the story, but how I present the characters is completely up to me. Pania is gay. Gay gay gay gay. Lesbian! In Shani’s words, “gay as the day is long”. If Pania wishes to dress in a frilly dress with a matching floral hat, then she’ll do so. If she wishes to dress in a pair of thigh high boots, soft leather leggings, a corset and a silk poet’s shirt, then she will. Pania is an entertainer, a singer, an actress and a teller of tales. She knows very well that a colourful style draws in the eye, and she knows very well that her shapely figure will draw in more attention, especially if she accents it with pretty clothing and finery. How she dresses does not dictate what her sexual orientation is. And the same goes for Shani.
The stigma surrounding gay and lesbian people in fiction (as well as bi, trans*, queer, asexual and so on) really needs to stop. People should be presented as people first, their orientation a very distant second. GLBTQ people should be displayed in fiction as people, nothing more, nothing less.
So, sorry writer of email, Shani will stay straight and Pania will remain a lesbian because that’s how they are, no matter how they dress or act. As are all GLBTQ people.
I’m not an expert on such things, as I have never experienced what it’s like to be gay. I’m pretty much a standard straight male, so if anyone wants to add their experiences and observations (especially treatment of GLBTQ in fiction), please do so.
- In the News: LGBT Pride Month (theipl.wordpress.com)
- Bill would outlaw “ex-gay therapy,” Obama sides with humanity and other musings (newblackwoman.com)
- Become a YouthResource Peer Educator with Advocates for Youth! (uchicagolgbtq.wordpress.com)
I’ve had a soundtrack bouncing around in my head for Black Mask and Pale Rider. So, I thought I’d share. The first book is still available in trade paperback and digital download.
- Shameless self promotion of the evening. (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – rewriting the adventures (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
The rain from earlier.
Amazingly enough, by the time this video finished uploading, the rain had stopped, the wind had died down a bit, and the thunder and lightning wasn’t nearly as ominous. Such is the way of weather in Saskatchewan. Just wait an hour and it’ll change drastically.
Not really, but this area is currently under a severe tornado watch and thunderstorm warning. I think with the thunderous sounds outside, I believe they can cancel the warning and just say that it’s completely here.
That may have been unwise, as I was snapping photos while hail started to fall. Rather hard as well. It wasn’t massively sized hail, but then it doesn’t have to be big to hurt.
Unfortunately, I do not have underground parking in my apartment. I park outside in the back, so I got very worried about my poor, little car when the hail started.
There was no way I was gonna step outside to snap photos of my car getting pelted.
It’s still very windy and rainy out right now as I prepare to post this, and lightning strikes not far from here. I’d say three or four kilometers away. The sky isn’t nearly as dark as it was. Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of that.
Do I really have to choose?
After all, each has their own uniqueness about them that makes them awesome.
Brownies, for instance, are merely small cakes.
Cookies are an awesome snack while watching a movie, drinking some milk, or even sitting on the balcony and enjoying the afternoon.
And then there’s cake. Need I say more about cake.
But I do have one question. Why no mention of pie?
Quotes relating to summer, or summertime activities at the very least. As well, a few points to ponder.
“A gardener is the spirit of the garden, the organizing force, the heart and soul of it all.” ~Jeff Cox
“The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” ~Walter Bagehot
“No matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with!” ~author unknown
“Tell the people that you love that you love them…at every opportunity.” ~author unknown
- Quotes about Summer: Summertime is a Great Time to Break the Rules Quote (miscfinds4u.com)
- Quotes to Run By: The Greatest Pleasure? (runningmyles.com)
Click the links above each photo for the original source.
As I often do, there is now an easy to read pdf file to download which contains all of Chapter Eight in its entirety.
And don’t forget, the other chapters are handy to download too, just click the T.B.R. link above (or the one in this sentence).
The shrill whistle sounded out, bringing an end to the practise. Millicent Yarborough waved the players toward her, calling for them to gather around. “It was an early mornin’ practise,” Millicent said with a firm nod to the entire group. “But you’ve done well. That may be in part due ta the fact that getting up at five in the mornin’ is common place for everyone here.” She smiled as the players chuckled lightly at the small joke. In truth, it was a compliment to their dedication as air cadets.
“Here’s what I’ll need from each o’ you before tomorrow’s match,” Millicent said, her voice quieting a bit as she took a more serious tone. “I know that you will all be nervous. But we’ve all worked hard ta get where we are durin’ this season. You’ve all done well. It’s not over, though. We’ve got one game left.”
“And then the final match,” one of the players called out, a tall looking Vulpine with black fur. There was a small chuckle from all of the players at the comment.
“Yes, but let’s focus on tomorrow’s game, Gregory,” Millicent said with a friendly reminder. “Tonight, get some rest. A proper bed time for all o’ you.” She looked to each player for a moment before she concluded her small speech. “Alright, get cleaned up, an’ I’ll see you on the pitch tomorrow.” She let out one more shrill whistle and the players began to make their way back to the change rooms.
“A bit of lunch?” Senia asked of Clarfax and Hardy as they walked together back to the change rooms. “I could go for a good meal after a long practise like that.”
“I’d love that, myself,” Hardy replied. She sighed as they walked along. “Funny, isn’t it. How we’ve been together here for six years. And now it’s all comin’ to an end.”
“Not bitter sweet, I’d hope,” Clarfax stated with a smile. “We’ve still got evaluations, and placements. I’m fully confident we’ll all have the proper choice of where we want to go.”
“Which means,” Senia said with a smile as she lift a finger to the sky. “76th, here we come!”
Lunch on a fifth day of the week was almost always held at The Flying Fox in the village proper. It had become a regular spot for air cadets, visiting pilots and old veterans alike. It wasn’t uncommon to hear one wily old veteran schooling some of the younger cadets on the tactics of air combat, flying the old air craft or even some of the more harrowing escapes that had become legend around the small tavern and diner. Those tales were most often told during the evening hours. During late morning to early afternoon, it seemed much more quiet.
On this day, only a few of the villagers had made their way into the diner for a spot of lunch and maybe some tea. There was old Mr. Crandal, who was always seen at the diner at eleven o’clock, reading his paper and smoking his pipe at the sidewalk tables with a cup of tea at hand. Miss Swifter was there as well, taking a rest from her daily deliveries around the village as she would always complete the mail run in Chattingham. A few of the young kits and cubs from the nearby Chattingham Elementary School would often stop by to purchase sodas. And finally, a few of the Academy students were almost always present.
For Senia, Clarfax and Hardy, they had become just as well known as the others who frequented this place, and they received greetings and salutations as they walked inside and took up their usual table. As was often the case, the proprietor of the Flying Fox would always greet them, as was the case with every customer.
“Just a wee bit before noon time,” Abigail Crenshaw said in her cheerful, sing song tone. “A bit early ta see you three here.” Abigail, or Abby as she was known, was tan coloured Felanus who had come to Foxburrow from the eastern desert of Sandicia years ago with a business prospect in mind. Before the outbreak of the Great Lupine Land War, she had opened her tavern and diner and done quite well for herself.
“Just finished rough ball practise,” Senia informed her.
“Oh that’s right,” Abby said with a big grin. “T’morrow’s the match against House Fennec. Been so busy ’round here I almost forgot.” Abby was the kind of hostess who knew her clientele very, very well, and she could always be able to make dinner and supper suggestions to each customer. “Clarfax, we’ve got a lovely Sandician salad, complete with fresh lettuce, cucumber, a smatterin’ of goat cheese an’ lightly sprinkled with a tasty toppin’ that’s not too spicy an’ not too sweet.”
“I’d love that, Miss Crenshaw,” Clarfax said with a nod as he smiled at the thought of the dish. “And maybe, if I could also have a slice of your famous lemon pie.”
“I’ll get you the pie after the salad,” Abby said, then turned to Hardy. “Thick slices o’ ham, topped with equally thick slices o’ pale cheese, lettuce an’ tomato, with a light sauce, all between two thick slices of rye bread. As an added bonus, a side dish of fresh prawns, lightly battered.”
“Oh, Miss Crenshaw, you make it sound wonderful,” Hardy said, nearly smacking her lips together. “In truth, I know that what you describe is only a teaser for what’s to come.”
Abby grinned and patted Hardy’s shoulder, then turned to Senia. “You look in the mood for a late brunch. A thick, Malayan waffle, topped with rich, whipped cream, strawberries and drowned in a thick Kanatian syrup.”
“Remind me, that should ever I grow despondent, that I just need come here and listen to you speak of food, Miss Crenshaw,” Senia said with a smile as she nodded her approval of the suggested dish.
Abby giggled lightly and clapped her hands, adding one final thing. “It is early in the day, so I believe a tall glass of apple juice would suit. Though, as an added incentive for tomorrow’s match, I just recently procured four kegs of Rose Petal Ale. Come here after the match, and win ‘r lose, I promise one round on the house for the team.”
“Oh, you can count on that, Miss Crenshaw,” Senia replied with a big grin. Hardy and Clarfax nodded quickly in agreement, and Abby, satisfied with her ability to pin point what her customers wanted, hurried back to the kitchen to fill the orders.
“Have I mentioned how much I love this place?” Senia said as the three were left to their own discussion.
“I just hope we’ll find someplace like this when we get our placement,” Hardy remarked. “Though, I’ve heard the main ship that the 76th is often carried on has an excellent diner like this.”
“I thought deep space carriers had large mess halls,” Clarfax piped up as he tried to recall some obscure information from a book he once read.
“I know for a fact that the Tritan has a mess hall, a forward lounge, and a tavern style diner,” Hardy said with a grin.
“But the Tritan is a star destroyer,” Clarfax argued as he tried to think of his old classes in ship history. “They have limited crew.”
“No no,” Hardy said as she shook her head, stating boldly her knowledge of ships in the Vulpine Fleet. “The Tritan is a star cruiser, and has a crew compliment of three thousand, and an additional air craft support of five hundred.” Hardy turned as she heard chuckling from Senia’s chair. “What?”
“You two,” Senia said as she tried to compose herself. “You always do this. It’s either Hardy’s knowledge of ships, or Clarfax’s absolute certainty of spacial anomalies or even stars in the sky.”
“Keeps life interesting,” Clarfax said with a firm nod. The three chuckled in unison for a moment, then looked up as they were greeted by a cheery voice.
“Hello everyone,” Claudia Whitefur said with a smile. “Wasn’t expecting to see you three here.”
“It’s a traditional spot for air cadets,” Senia said as she motioned for Claudia to sit down. “We’ve been coming here every fifth day of the week for six years now.”
“I don’t often make it here too often,” Claudia said as she took her seat, carefully setting down her bookbag. “And when I do, it’s usually on the second day of the week. But today was a good day, so I wanted to treat myself.”
“A good day?” Clarfax asked as he leaned forward. “What did you do?”
“It was my last final exam,” she replied with confidence.
“I take it by the sound in your voice that you aced it,” Hardy said as she nudged Claudia.
“Naturally,” Claudia replied.
“Well, wasn’t expectin’ a fourth t’day,” came the voice of Abby as she approached the table with a tray. She talked as she set down plates in front of the three air cadets. “Let’s see. I think I have you figured out. Lovely watercress sandwiches on whole wheat bread, three lightly cooked farmer sausages, an’ a bowl o’ strawberries an’ fresh farm cream.”
“Yes please, Miss Crenshaw,” Claudia replied with a smile. She turned back to the others as Abby left once more to take care of the order. “And that is why I like coming here for a treat, because Miss Crenshaw knows exactly what I like.”
“Back to the exam,” Clarfax said as he pulled up his chair to the table. “How’d the others do? Bobby? Gilly?”
“Gilly looked pretty confident,” Claudia said with a nod. “Robert was his usual self, but I think he did fine. He knows the material better than anyone.”
“I heard Robert is more worried about placement after he graduates,” Senia said before taking a sip of her juice. “He’ll have a lot of options open to him, I know that for certain.”
“After the exam, he and Aria went off to the memorial together,” Claudia stated. The conversation paused as Abby returned with Claudia’s order. Once they were all squared away, they began to eat, continuing their conversation between bites.
“I heard Aria and Bobby are going to the graduation ceremonies together,” Hardy said in a quiet tone. “I wonder if Aria’s told Bobby yet.”
“Told Bobby what?” Clarfax asked as he nibbled on some lettuce leaves. Claudia seemed equally curious.
“Hardy!” Senia said as she shook her head. “Aria asked that we not gossip about… you know. It’s disrespectful to do that.”
Clarfax seemed rather confused, but it was Claudia that put two and two together. “Oh, you mean that Aria is the eldest daughter of the Ocata Royal Family?” Hardy looked to Senia and merely motioned to Claudia. “I thought everyone knew that.”
“I didn’t,” Clarfax said with a huff as he finished his salad. “It would appear I’m the last to find these things out.”
“That would be because you have your head in a book all the time,” Hardy teased lightly.
“Why don’t we pop around the memorial after we’re finished,” Senia suggested. “I haven’t walked through there in a few weeks, be nice to remember who came before us. And maybe we’ll run into Aria and Bobby as well.”
The four agreed and continued their meal, chatting about various things such as the upcoming rough ball match, graduation, expectations after school and much more. Including a wish that they never stay out of touch.
We’ve seen the recent food price protests in Nunavut, where some families are trying desperately to budget each month. They’ll pay a little over 100 dollars for a case of water. What’s the rest of the country look like as far as food prices go? MSN Money put the list together from statistics and surveys collected by Stats Canada.
The prairie provinces come in as some of the best in the country.
The cheapest place to buy food is Saskatchewan, where families spend 9.1% of the yearly income on groceries and meals out. Yearly budgets average $6,344, and of that 24% is spent on meals out at restaurants.
Next, Albertans budget 9.2% of their annual income on groceries. While they spend over $85,000 on consumer goods (the most in the country), they only spend $7,570 per year on food.
Ontario comes in next with only 9.5% of annual budgets spent on food, spending $7,284 to fill up the fridge, but of that, $1,645 is spent eating out at diners and eateries.
Manitoba comes in at number four as the annual food budget is 9.8%. The average Manitoba household spends $6,,520 annually.
So those are the top four, with Ontario breaking up the prairies by sneaking in at third. What about the highest places? Unsurprisingly, the territories have some of the most expensive places to budget for food. The Yukon is not one of those (though, families do set aside 10.5% of their annual budget for food). The Northwest Territories is the best of the most expensive, with annual household budgets for food sitting at 11.5%, spending $9,500 a year on food. And that’s only because household spending in the Northwest Territories is on of the highest in the country (total consumer spending is almost $83,000 per year).
Prince Edward Island comes in next, where the annual food budget is 11.8% of the total household budget. While spending $6,720 per year on food may not seem like much, that’s because total consumer spending in the island province sits around $56,000 per year.
Quebec, like P.E.I., doesn’t really spend a lot on food per year (only $7,215 per year), but again, the annual budget has 12% of it set aside for food. Consumer spending in Quebec sits at just over $60,000 per year.
The list has gradually moved up and up, going from 9.1% to 12%, but the highest food budget in Canada takes a massive jump. With no surprise, it happens to be Nunavut, where families have to budget 17.5% of their annual income just for food. Households spend just over $84,000 per year on consumer goods (second highest in Canada, Alberta spends the most); of that, over $14,000 is spent on food. This is more than double what families in Saskatchewan have to pay for food each year.
One has to begin to ask themselves, why? Why is a place like the Northwest Territories, geographically located in a similar situation to Nunavut, paying less for food annually? A great deal less as a matter of fact.
- Alberta a land of wealth, longevity and educational attainment: think-tank (blogs.calgaryherald.com)
- More Nunavut food price protests planned today (cbc.ca)
- How Much Should My Grocery Budget Be? (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
By elves, I of course mean the elves of the book The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider (seriously, I wrote a western fantasy, check it out on Amazon). As most may recall, in Clarfax Billings’ chapter of Rocket Fox, Clarfax reveals to fellow science students the details of research done by a deep space station studying a distant planet. It’s revealed the planet that is being studied is a near duplicate of the one the Critainians escaped from before the Great Conflagration (everything with the Critainians is “Great”, Great Conflagration, Great Crossing, Great Library). Using the taxonomic classification system, I created the full list for the elven people. Like humans, there would be no genetic distinction between Judan Elves, Brytalonian Elves, Myst Elves or Nordician Elves; they would all have the same classification no matter the skin colour or difference in height.
I’m also considering using this in Rocket Fox, having one of the science students (either Claudia Whitefur or Clarfax) read out the entire taxonomic classification. Why use something that is used on Earth and not create something new? Because taxonomic classification is a thing, it’s an already developed science for naming and identifying different organisms. It’s easily recognizable as well.
Without further ado, this is what I pieced together for the elves of Terra-Kal and their taxonomic classification.
Class: Prædictas Fatales
Family: Ispa alta
Species: A. dryadales
I am, of course, open to suggestion and to any possible changes to make this fit a little better.
…at least with Rocket Fox…
It’s the first official day of summer! Yay! Also, I talk about what’s coming up next in Rocket Fox (chapter seven is uploaded at my blog in pdf format).
I also talk about comics. I may be picking up more than just Huntress, Batwoman, Batgirl and World’s Finest.
Oh, and Canada Day.
And because it’s summer…
Those are the most EPIC mutton chops I’ve ever seen.
Rough Ball is, most likely, the most important sport in the entire history of the planet Vulpinia. It’s history alone spans three thousand years. Every match ever played has been recorded, documented, and referenced. Right from the very first game ever played.
The development of the sport was actually used to help end an ancient war between the Vulpine and the Felanus. Not all Vulpine and Felanus races were involved in the war, mind you. But the five primary nations involved were Foxburrow, the Ocata Nation, the desert nation of Sandicia to the east, the northern tundra nation of Kanata, and the equatorial nation of Mayala had hostile actions toward each other for centuries before.
Fortunately, during that time there were those who had developed civil relations that had no affiliation to any government or crown. Yet, they tired of the constant warring between the five nations. They needed to create a contest that would do away with bloodshed. Something that could be used to salvage peace.
A group of twenty creative Vulpinians came together, using bits and pieces of sport from each nation to create something that would resemble a part of each nation. The pitch represented Foxburrow, the central most nation in the conflict. A small net to be used by a goal keeper that represented Kanata. Ten players on the field to represent the ten different races caught up in the conflict. The size and shape of the ball, to represent the ball used in a popular game in the Ocata nation. Sand semi circles near each of the two goals to represent Sandicia. And finally, no matter whether there was rain, snow or shine, the game was always to be played outdoors in the manner that those of the Mayala nation played their own games.
Now, there was a complex series of rules that needed to be made for such a game. Over the three millennium, those rules were modified and amended and changed to fit the changing times. Today, there has been a solid set of rules that has been unchanging for the last one hundred years.
The standard size of each playing field is 105 meters long by 65 meters wide. There is a center line dividing the field in half, and goals at each end. Each goal is surrounded by a 35 meter wide semi circle of sand, and each goal is five meters wide by three meters tall.
Each team has ten players on the field at all times. Five players are offensive and help direct the rush of the ball forward, while four players act as defenders and protect their own end against oncoming rushes from the opposing team. One player acts as the goal keeper and keeps within the area of the sand to guard against any attempts by the opposing team to score.
To begin each game, the center-men from each team, often called the quarterbacks, meet in the center of the field and wait for the head referee to toss up the ball. Each player would ten jump for the ball, hoping to knock it back to their own teammates. This is when the strategies of offense and defense begins. Defenders will try to tackle the ball carrier, while the ball carrier will attempt to pass the ball off to continue the rush up the field. Ball carriers can only take three steps and then must bounce the ball off the turf and catch it again. Forward, overhand passes are not allowed, but an underhand lateral back to a teammate is. A forward motion with the ball is allowed only if the ball carrier bumps the ball with the heel of their hand.
For scoring purposes there are two types. Either a ball carrier may cross the goal line with the ball and have his or her team awarded three points, or skillfull players may kick the ball through the goal posts and that team is awarded six points. In both scenarios, the goal keeper can use their net to either catch the ball if kicked, or push the player down before crossing the goal line. The net cannot be used as a weapon, either to strike at or trip up a player with the ball. These are the simple and quick rules to the game, there are many more which involve penalties, scrums, and player substitution. Suffice it to say an entire book could be written on the rules of the sport alone.
As it stands, rough ball has become the most popular sport in all of Vulpinia. There is the traditional Five Nations Cup, played every five years to commemorate the end of the war those many millennium ago. The Universities Cup, which different colleges and universities participate in each year. The Eastern and Western Leagues each have their own professional level of rough ball. And then there is the college level of play, as students from different houses have their own rough ball teams and compete against each other throughout the course of the school year.
Even the distant planet of Pau Theta II has a group of four teams that play during the regular run of the rough ball season. Sometimes, the champion of the Pau Theta League is invited to participate during the Five Nations Cup.
To become a rough baller, as it is often called, is just one of the dreams of many young Vulpine and Felanus children. The sport helped end a war on Vulpinia, and therefore it holds a great deal of tradition and honour. It brings people together in a way nothing else ever has. Even the smallest community has a rough ball pitch, where spectators bring out lawn chairs and small picnic lunches to watch a match or two. Naturally, some of the grandest stadiums are in the largest centers on the planet, such as Ocata Stadium, the Fox Den or the Mayala Bowl. Those three alone can seat over one hundred thousand fans each.
So when citizens of Vulpinia talk about rough ball, they aren’t just engaged in idle chatter. It’s very important to them, because it plays such a large role in their lives.
Miracles is the theme of today’s series of quotes. Only because it all kicks off with a quote of miracles. Or love, depending upon how you read it.
“Where there is great love there are always miracles.” ~Willa Cather
“Life is 10% what you make it, and 90% how you take it.” ~Irving Berlin, songwriter
“Cherish all your happy moments: they make a fine cushion for old age.” ~Christopher Morley
Here’s one for a belated father’s day.
“The best fathers not only give us life but also teach us how to live.” ~author unknown
And just because the first thing that popped into my head when I read miracles was hot chocolate, I’m now going to make everyone else get this song stuck in their head too.
It's now been a week and a day since I posted the "Lowest Difficulty Setting" piece, and the dust around is finally beginning to settle, so a moment for some final notes on it before I let it go off into the sunset.
1. Overall, it was interesting. If I had to do it over again I would have posted it yesterday instead of a week ago yesterday, because a week ago yesterday I had five days of travel and business ahead of me which kept me away from the site and led to the comment threads not as pruned for twits as I would have liked.
“Alright everyone, gather ’round, gather ’round,” Millicent Yarborough called out as the players of the House Ocelot rough ball team finished their stretches. Millicent was a rather tall Vulpine with long ears and tawny fur. She was a former professional rough baller herself, having once played for the Warrenshire RC in the Nations League. “Tomorrow, as you all know, is the semi-final match against House Fennec. I don’t think I have ta remind any of you that House Fennec only lost one game this year. That bein’ to House Falcon.” The gathered players paid close attention to Millicent as she spoke, knowing full well the grand upset that House Falcon put on House Fennec.
It was considered an easy match for House Fennec, but they let their guard down, and House Falcon went onto take advantage of several miscues from their opponent.
“What House Falcon managed ta do, we’ve got ta try,” Millicent explained carefully. “We’ll be in tough, however, as House Fennec won’t be as over confident against us. Now, we’ll have a wee change o’ strategy and player set up, seein’ how our star striker won’t be with us.” Millicent didn’t need to mention anything else about the events regarding Jada. It was common knowledge now all over campus, and most likely into the village itself. “Hardy Maynard,” Millicent called out with her authoritative voice. Hardy stepped forward quickly, paying close attention. “You’re movin’ ta left inside wing. Yer stronger on the left side I’ve noticed, an’ maybe we can give House Fennec somethin’ ta think about in that area.” Hardy nodded firmly, smiling at the chance to be one of the main offensive rushers.
“Clarfax Billings,” she called out again. Clarfax responded in similar fashion to Hardy. “We’re movin’ you ta the striker position. You’ve got a knack for it, plus the opposition’ll have somethin’ new ta try an’ combat.” Again, Clarfax nodded firmly. “Aria, still jumper. I’ve yet ta see anyone able ta out wit you in the center circle.” Aria smiled with a nod. The jumper was a key position, especially when the match would begin. Jumpers usually set the tone of the match. “Mills, Pinkerton,” Millicent called out again. The two Felanus who had piloted Ocelot Six stepped forward. “I’m movin’ you from second line ta first line. You both will still be on defense, so no change there. As for the rest o’ the line up, no changes.” Millicent tucked a clipboard she was carrying under one arm and held a whistle close to her muzzle. “Alright, everyone. Let’s try a few practice scrums an’ set tone for your game play. This’ll be early practice so no full contact, understood?” The players nodded in reply and waited for the first whistle to blow.
Millicent let out a shrill whistle and the players began moving to their positions like a well oiled machine. Senia took up her position in goal, Aria to the center, Hardy on the left wing, Clarfax on the striker position, as Mills and Pinkerton took their positions on defense along with Margo Talon and Corporal Greta.
The team was quite confident and very professional in their actions. Everything went by the book, and often, Millicent would give several tips on how to better their play. It wasn’t uncommon, after all, for cadets to be offered positions with some of the professional leagues across Vulpinia. Rough Ball was, of course, a planetary past time. The most popular sport among both the Vulpine and Felanus races. It had a long history on the planet, one that held a great deal of tradition.
And I suppose, dear reader, that you might wish to learn something about this. Well then, let us pause as we look to the history and rules of the sport of rough ball.
A good Monday morning to everyone. Looks like rain outside. Again. Especially after we had a lot of rain this way on Saturday and Sunday. Some awesome news, yesterday I got a phone call from my father saying that I have a brand new camera waiting for me. Yay! Twice the megapixel size of my current camera, it’s a Nikon. I believe next weekend I shall make a trip into the city.
And now, even better news!
Here is the seventh chapter of Rocket Fox in an easy to read pdf made for downloading.
The cadets gathered in the main conference room, all taking part in an early morning cup of tea. The sun had risen fully now, and the idle chatter seemed to focus between the training run and the fact that breakfast would be in order. The remaining ten pilots joined Mills and Pinkerton, with Senia giving congratulations all around. Even a welcoming smile was given to Jada as she sat down among the pilots for this final debriefing.
The chatter quieted quickly as Captain Mallard entered the room. All cadets rose to their feet and stood at attention, including Jada.
“As you were,” Mallard announced as she stood before a podium that faced the cadets. She placed a data pad on the surface and read carefully from it before speaking aloud. The cadets settled back into their seats as they waited for Captain Mallard to begin. “As you know, this was your last training exercise,” she began, looking to all of the cadets. “I’m happy to say you performed quite admirably. And if it’s any indication, you’ll have no difficulty dealing with House Fennec in the upcoming rough ball match.” The cadets chuckled lightly to the remark before Mallard continued. “Out of a possible 500 points, I award you 475. The only marks withdrawn was the loss of Ocelot Six. It was unavoidable, but the goal is to attempt to get every craft to the target base in time.” She looked to Mills and Pinkerton. “Individually, I’m awarding each of you 50 points. Quick thinking, and excellent marksmanship.” Mills and Pinkerton smiled and offered a nod in thanks.
Mallard turned to Corporal Greta next. “You kept the communication lines open, Corporal. Key in ensuring that the escort was successful. For you, and for those on your team, I award you 50 points each.” There was a small celebratory congratulations that went around the room as the group that made up command central lightly cheered. Next, came the pilots themselves. “Left-tenant Felix and the remaining pilots. Quick thinking, no hesitation, and lastly, sticking to the transport. You understood the importance of the transport and stuck with it. Excellent work. For that, 50 points for each of you.”
The pilots cheered and there were hugs and congratulations that went around the room. They quieted down again, however, as Captain Mallard raised her hand for some order. “There is one last detail that must be addressed,” she said as she looked to Jada. “You may have been stripped of rank, but you’re still a member of House Ocelot. You kept a civil head during the exercise, especially with the unpredictable nature of the civilian students.”
“It wasn’t that difficult, ma’am,” Jada said with a smile. “Half o’ ‘em went back ta sleep, an’ only Bobby was the most problematic. An’ he just had to pee quite badly.” There was some laughter that went through the group.
“I think from now on,” Captain Mallard said with a smile. “It should be impressed upon Mr. Quickfoot to take care of business before anything pressing need be done. Nevertheless, I can still award you 50 points for your actions during the exercise.” There was a cheer that went up through the room, and each cadet congratulated Jada with a pat on the shoulder. For Senia’s part, she gave Jada a hug.
Captain Mallard held her hands up for order and attention once more, speaking when everyone was paying attention to her again. “Now, that is your final training run of the year. Each of you has done extremely well. As House Liaison, I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of you. Some of you still have some classes,” she said as she looked to Clarfax and a few of the cadets around him. “But also importantly, there is still the rough ball match coming up. There is a practice this afternoon before the upcoming match, so those who are on the team get some rest. All right everyone. Dismissed.”
New stuff in STO (Star Trek Online)! Which is one of the reasons why I haven’t posted anything in a while.
Left the game for a bit (from boredom, really), but decided to come back to it after seeing something new.
They added the race called the Ferasan. Distantly related to the Caitians, the Ferasan are a more feral looking feline race. Longer canine teeth, different fur colouring and patterns. They are a playable race on the Klingon side of the game. Something nice about adding the Ferasan is that now the Caitians also have more additions for hair and fur patterns, so you can make some differences instead of just colour of the fur and eyes.
Displayed above is S’Returru (left) who is currently a captain in the KDF (Klingon Defense Force). On the right is my main character, Vice Admiral M’iaa T’Chall, who up until recently was commanding the U.S.S. Lynx, an Odyssey Class starship for which the latest Enterprise is built for (U.S.S. Enterprise NCC1701-F). But, the devs for STO released a new ship.
Thanks to efforts to match the Klingons with their carrier ships, the Federation has called out to other races to help match the intensity. The Caitians answered, making the Atrox Carrier class ships available.
The Atrox is a larger vessel (a little longer than the Odyssey Class starship) and doesn’t have the greatest maneuverability. However, it is powerful and has decent defensive capabilities. But the Atrox’s main attribute is she is an aircraft carrier.
She comes complete with a large squadron of Stalker Class fighter craft. So she’s basically a point and shoot, not fly in and take part in combat, though she does have her weapons banks.
Wherein I’m too lazy to do a blog post, but have just enough energy to do a video.
Here’s those links!
It’s Tuesday… evening. So here is a small smattering of quotes.
“The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.” ~Confucius
“The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all – doing nothing.” ~Ben Franklin
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” ~Bill Cosby
You know you’re getting old when your back starts going out more than you do. ~Phyllis Diller
The paths of least resistance make man and rivers crooked. ~author unknown
Captain Mallard stood quietly in the communications room, watching the movements of all the cadets and listening to the chatter. Each move was carefully cataloged in her memory for later evaluation.
“Ocelot One, reading confirmed. Four fighter craft with House Fennec markings.”
“Advising House Bobcat airbase of situation.”
“Prepare to modulate communication frequency to 3-4-1.”
Mallard was impressed, and though she tried to remain stoic as she watched, she couldn’t help but smile. After all, she was the faculty liaison for House Ocelot, and many of their training exercises were based her own designs that she modified from her own experiences.
“Ocelot Six is breaking off from formation.”
“Understood, Ocelot One through Five are moving formation to cover the opening.”
“Ocelot Six just took out two fighters.”
“She’s taken damage.”
There was a silence that filled the room with that announcement, then confirmation that Ocelot Six was hit and coming down.
“Have a team meet the pilots at the rendezvous point,” Mallard finally said as she broke her silence. “Bring them to the command center.”
With academy training programs, pilots were always expecting to be fired upon. They went through several drills regarding what to do in the event a craft was about to crash and even if a craft has been fired upon. In this situation, all training craft were outfit with holographic weaponry. The weapon units would target tracers on ‘enemy ships’ and if they hit, that ship would suddenly cease to operate at maximum capacity for the area it had been ‘hit’ in. Under normal situations, pilots could guide their craft into base without problem. However, if the pilot found a majority of the systems were destroyed, the air craft’s autopilot would kick in, and begin to steer the craft back to home base. This announced that the craft had been completely destroyed in the training simulation. In this case, pilot Corporal Vivian Mills and co-pilot Private Harry Pinkerton, had succeeded in destroying two enemy aircraft, but had sacrificed themselves to the four fighters.
Nevertheless, they would still get an evaluation of their actions before their time in the exercise ended. Captain Mallard felt they performed quite well. She turned her attention back to the room, once again listening to the chatter.
“House Bobcat has sent reinforcements.”
“The final enemy ships are retreating.”
“House Bobcat has given landing clearance.”
Mallard’s attention shifted as the doors to the command center opened and the two aforementioned pilots walked in. “Corporal Mills. Private Pinkerton. Excellent work. You may get out of your gear and wait in the house conference room,” she said with a nod to the two cadets. Both gave a nod and a salute, then rushed off to get out of their flight suits. Mallard stepped toward the communications console and punched in her codes, allowing her to speak directly to the pilots and those in the room at the same time. “Excellent work, all of you. Now, if you would, gather in the house conference room in thirty minutes. I’ll give your final evaluations.” She paused before cutting the communication, but decided to add one more thing. “I would also like Miss Hawkspur to be present for this.”
They were called the Indian Head Rockets, a team in the Negro League of the 1950s. Indian Head is a small farming community east of Regina, Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, one might think hockey is king here. But you may find the sport fourth or even fifth on the list of activities most popular in the province. Football, baseball, curling; those three sports have solid following in the province of Saskatchewan. Football comes from over 100 years of the Green and White, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the only professional team of any sport here. Curling can be attributed to such greats as the late Sandra Schmirler of Biggar, Ed Lukowich, Stefanie Lawton and Rick Folk. And then there’s baseball.
Terry Puhl (former Houston Astro), Aldon Jay “Lefty” Wilkie, Terry Donahue (who played with the All American Girls Baseball League), and Ralph Stanley Buxton are just a few of the names that trace back to Saskatchewan with professional baseball. For a time, however, we had the Indian Head Rockets, one of several teams that played in the Negro League. The players who were part of that 1950s team still remember Indian Head. Some went onto the Big Leagues, playing for the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals and other teams in the Majors.
It’s said the story of the Indian Head Rockets would make a great movie. Read more on the Rockets at the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.
“I was scouted, but it didn’t happen. I was drafted for the Korean War and the teams I guess forgot about me. No regrets. Canada was a tremendous experience. Indian Head was the most enjoyable time of my life.” ~Willie Reed, former player with the Indian Head Rockets