Death, Accidents & Travel

First I decided to take a break from everything writing related.
You see, I am not a writer by training and out of the blue in 2012; I simply sat down at my computer and wrote a book, Dear Tiz. It took me about three months to write, not including the editing phase. I thought, “That was easy” so I decided to write another one. Since then, I have started writing quite a few stories and each one is in some stage of development. Some are over 90% finished, but for some reason I haven’t given those the final push to get them done.

I think part of the reason might be burn out. I took writing as a profession too fast and did not spend one single day in 2013 or 2014 doing much of anything else but writing and searching the internet for something book related. It was all too much, too deep, too fast.

So I decided to take a break. This said “break” however has not been a book fast. I have traveled to places I would like to use as settings in a book, I have bought history books (non-fiction) to use as research, I have read, read and read books by authors that I like in order to get a greater feel for the kind of storytelling that I wish to emulate. I did take a break from writing though; at the beginning it was by design, then it became a forced break.

A couple of months ago, I had to go to a funeral, during which I was computer-less, because I didn’t take mine. By the way, is it just me or are vast quantities of people dying? My nephew says, “People are dropping like flies”. Not just random people who you don’t know and would never meet, but actual acquaintances if not friends, people I grew up with and friends of my children or friends of friends.

Then there are the accidents. Just in the span of one month in my family, there have been three broken legs and a broken shoulder, each one happening separately to different people and even in different countries. Not to be left behind, I was walking down the street, I mean just walking down the street, and I fell (for no reason at all). Seriously, one minute I was walking and the next I was on the ground. Anyway, I banged up my left arm so bad that it has been incapacitated for the last two months. As I sat there in the middle of the street and realized that there was something really wrong with my arm, the realization came to me that I couldn’t get up, not at all. I had just realized that fact, and I was about to tell my youngest son, who was with me, that I would need his help in order to get to my feet; when suddenly without warning a man came up behind me and set me on my feet and onto the sidewalk. He asked me if I was ok (how do you respond to that?) and then he was gone. I thought that he must have been driving a car, and since I was sitting in the middle of the road, had helped me out of his way. My son says not. He just came out of nowhere and disappeared the same way. Weird. 

As the man left, I looked down at my arm and tried to see what was wrong with it. I couldn’t move it much, but I could move it some. I could move my fingers just fine. As I tried to bend the elbow it would only go so far and then it got stuck. There was no protrusion of any kind, so I figured that the elbow was dislocated. Straight in front of me was a metal fence. I grabbed a hold of it with my left hand and pulled as hard as I could and although it hurt a lot I felt the elbow pop back into place.

For the first time, I turned around to take stock of my surroundings. There were practically no people and in any case no one was paying the slightest bit of attention to us. Neither my son nor I had a cell phone (don’t ask) so we began walking to find a place where we could make a call to my oldest son to come pick us up. I hadn’t gone more than a couple steps however, before I realized that I needed to sit down. After a few minutes rest I was able to continue walking the two blocks necessary to where we found a phone. It happened to be the very place we had been heading towards, a museum where I was going to do some research. When we got there, however, it turns out that the museum had moved, not two weeks prior, and the very place where they moved to was the building with the metal fence where I had set my arm. Amazingly, my arm no longer hurt (if I didn’t move it) so we went into a nearby restaurant to eat lunch and wait for my oldest son and his girlfriend.

Over the next few days, my arm turned the brightest shade of purple that I have ever seen skin turn before and continued to be painless unless I tried to use it in any way. It is strange all the ways a person really needs their left arm that when it is just fine you don’t think about. Washing your hair is the hardest with just one hand, but also opening a bottle, or lifting a pot off of the stove, etc. Writing is the most painful, I guess because it uses so many little muscles in the forearm; so I have had a forced vacation from writing for the last few weeks.

Although, the purple turned to green and eventually faded entirely (why do they call it black and blue?). I do notice improvement though. Each day my arm has a little more strength in it, but there are still a few things I can’t do like put my left hand to my mouth.  It makes pill taking harder since I can’t have the pill in one hand and the glass of water in the other.  Definitely an adventure, though. This is the first time that I have tried to write anything very much since my fall and although I can do it, it still is somewhat painful. So I think story writing is still on the back burner for now. 

Advertisements

The Best Story, Ever – Oh. My. Goodness!

First of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

It has been a while since I wrote my last article for this blog. Yes, I have been busy writing my stories, several of them; but I also have my “real” work that I need to get done. I must confess that I am not a multi-tasker, especially as a writer; because I lose myself into whatever story I am writing, it is hard to come back to real life. The opposite is also true, if I am too concerned about something in real life, then it is hard for me to really get into my story.

In December, of course, I went with my family to watch the last movie of The Hobbit series. It was such a bittersweet experience. Before we went to see the movie, I came across the song that Billy Boyd, aka Pippin, wrote and sang for the final credits scene. I have to admit that listening to it made me cry, even before I went to see the movie. Of course, I had read The Hobbit as a child, and so I knew the ending and I wondered if Peter Jackson would stay true to it. I had fallen so deeply in love with Thorin Oakenshield (not the actor, but the character) in the first movie, I almost wished that Peter Jackson would disregard Tolkien’s version and allow him to live happily ever after as King Under the Mountain. I knew that would not happen though. So I consoled myself with the idea that maybe, since Tauriel was a made-up character anyway, just maybe it was Peter Jackson’s plan that she and Kili would end up together, with Kili as King Under the Mountain. Well, you know how that ended. I knew going into the movie, that I would cry when Thorin died, and I did. But I have to admit that Tolkien was right in his decision, and I ended up being satisfied that Peter Jackson respected Tolkien’s ending.

I have to say that it was Legolas that brightened the day and made the ending not hurt so bad. I don’t care if they used too much cgi and made his eyes a weird shade of green, I loved Legolas in each and every scene. Peter Jackson was 100% right to include Legolas in The Hobbit movies.

dos

 

I mention The Hobbit here, not because it is The Best Story, Ever, referring to the title of this post. Instead I mention it here, first because I am giving an account of my latest activities; but also as a base qualifier for the next part of this post. That said, Tolkien was a genius, and LOTRs, as well as The Hobbit, are two of the greatest stories ever told.

leaf65

As you know, I like Historical Fiction, specifically Historical Romance. Recently, I came across a Latin Telenovela, in Spanish, that I had heard about but had been unable to watch until now. I don’t usually watch telenovelas. In fact, I had never watched a single one in its entirety and have only watched random episodes of three other telenovelas in my life – La Pezuña del Diablo, La Potra Zaina and Viviana. Of the three, I was only interested in La Potra Zaina, because of its older world look, the horses and cowboys, and because the storyline was like a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. I never had time to watch it when it aired, maybe someday I will watch it. Since then I have developed an aversion to telenovelas.

novela-pola

 

In spite of it being a telenovela, from the time I first heard about this more recent one, I knew that I would have to watch it someday; not only because it was a Historical Romance, but because it included the important history of the struggle for independence in the country of my birth. I came across the first episode quite by accident as I was searching You Tube for something else. I watched the first episode, and I was hooked. If I was convinced before that I had to watch it, now I knew that I had to watch it, at once. It gripped me and drew me in just as every truly good story does. However, this time it was different. This time, it was personal.

As anyone growing up with a multi-cultured childhood can tell you, the struggle to find where you fit in, and into which culture, is an ongoing identity crisis. A few months ago, I wrote about my own struggle with this issue, which you can read here, if you wish.

leaf65

The old man riding a horse pulled up on the reins to bring him to a stop in order to survey the land as it spread out before him. The hill to his right was bare, but for the lush green grass that covered it as neatly as if it were a deep, thick carpet in a king’s palace. The flowers bloomed brightly, each one more colorful than the last. Everywhere he looked life was vibrantly calling to him; the sounds of crickets, the frogs and the birds overhead. He could hear the trickle of the water as it fell down the mountain behind him, flowing across the dirt road where he was as it made its way down the mountain until far below it joined the river set deep in the valley. The horse, taking advantage of the man’s distraction, dropped his head to drink deep of the crystal clear and refreshingly sweet liquid. The man’s eyes moistened as he looked upon this land for which so much suffering had been endured, wars fought and blood had been spilled. It had been worth it, the man thought. This land, that he loved so much, for which he had been willing to give his life and for which he had spent half of his life imprisoned; it was worth it. Its people were worth it.

The sun was shining, and it was truly a new day; a day of freedom, rest and recuperation. The man wiped a tear away from his wrinkled face and taking the reins he urged the horse to continue their journey. A journey that was almost over and then he would never leave his beloved country again. He couldn’t wait to see the faces of his son and daughters again. Just a couple more small towns left before he reached the capital with all of its enchantments. What would he find there?  What kind of government had been set up, he wondered. He would dedicate his last years to make sure that it would be the best country in the world. As he came into one of the little towns, he stopped for a moment to listen as a woman spoke to her children. The sound was to him one of the most beautiful in all the world. The sound of his language being spoken without a foreign accent; it reminded him of his wife’s voice as she spoke to their children, rich and musical. He hastened to continue as the tears now fell down his cheeks unchecked. That is the moment when it hit him; he was home. After everything that had happened, after overcoming all of the obstacles, he had actually made it home. He almost couldn’t believe it to be true.

I wrote the above in tribute to the emotions that this telenovela made me feel, and in honor of a truly great man. I wish I were a better writer in order to do them both justice; but in spite of my inadequacies, I have done the best that I can. I revel in the knowledge that I am greatly enriched for having had the privilege of watching this telenovela.

leaf65

3811_policarpa Bancolombia

Policarpa Salavarrieta (1795-1817) is a much beloved historical figure in the country of my birth. She is on our money, she is immortalized in statues and paintings, and she is the symbol of true female heroism for our young girls to emulate. Notice that I don’t use the word feminism. Yes, she did fight for equality, but her fight was not against the male population; she wanted equality for all people, no matter their gender, race, social position or ideology. She was against oppression in whatever form it presented itself. In that regard, I would call her more enlightened than many other female historical figures. Personally, I have always despised the suffragette movement because instead of fighting for equality for all, they turned it into a ridiculous gender war. I guess I was lucky to grow up in a country where the fairer sex was valued, even treasured, as the second most valuable national patrimony, the first being our children.

a1

As I said before, I was hooked from the first episode. Actually, the first twenty-three minutes or so were good, but it was after that. When the story goes back in time, and we meet La Pola’s parents, that is when it happened to me. Their house looks very similar to several of the neighboring houses where I lived as a child, with its thatched roof and humble structure; actually the house I grew up in, had dirt walls and a dirt floor. Then her parents spoke, and it was as if I was suddenly transported back in time to my childhood. I have read in a few books about the powerful effect that hearing the language of your childhood has on a person who has not heard it in a long time. That is exactly what happened to me when I heard the main character’s father speak. I knew this guy; he was my next door neighbor. I played with his daughters and drank lemonade made by his wife. La Pola herself, was a personal friend of mine, as her facial expressions and her hand movements, as well as her innocent delight in asking questions, were all just the same as those I grew up seeing in the faces and gestures of my childhood playmates. The actress that plays her when she is young did a wonderful job. Watching this telenovela is the closest that I will ever get to going home in my lifetime. Now I live in the city, and people speak differently than what I grew up hearing, life is different now. I long to be able to go home, even for just a short time, but that life no longer exists. Thanks to this telenovela, I was able to get a glimpse of it.

la-pola-1_590x395

There has been some criticism that this telenovela added a lot of fiction in order to make the love story, as well as the dates and the order in which certain events happened. It is true. I was on episode twenty-something when I decided it was time to find out what truly happened. So, I went online and googled the biographies of the major characters. Although the two main characters, La Pola and Alejo, are both executed on the same day, and it is true that they were partners in crime, so to speak, in that they were both spies and were in league with the rebel forces, maybe even leaders of the movement. It is evident that they knew each other and worked together. There is no proof that they were in a romantic relationship. Although the idea is not a new one, as the first rumors, that they were lovers, is almost as old as the story itself. The first written account of their romantic relationship emerges two years after their death, in a play written in 1819, to commemorate her life and death. More recent historians claim that was a fabrication, and there is no proof to corroborate it.

29

Personally, I don’t care if the love story is complete fiction. I am in awe of the ability of writer, Juan Carlos Pérez Flórez, to write the most amazing love story that I have ever known, and the ability of director, Sergio Cabrera, as well as the four actors (two young and two adult) who brought it to life. As a person who has read a ton of love stories and watched another great amount of them; I realize just how absurd this statement sounds. I stand by it however. The story of Romeo and Juliet doesn’t hold a candle to this one. As much as I hate love triangles, the one in this story doesn’t leave a bad taste in the mouth or make you lose faith in true love. The important thing is that the two never stop loving each other, and never set their affections on anyone else, even if at times they might pretend to do so. This is, by far, the greatest love story I have ever seen, heard or read.

27

 

Besides, there is more than one amazing love story in this telenovela. The story of Antonio and his wife Magdalena is just as tear jerking as it is sweet and powerful. Speaking of Antonio Nariño, I fell completely in love with his character. Now there is a true hero and to whom I dedicate my opening story—A dreamer as well as an idealist, a philosopher as well as a pragmatist, a general as well as a pacifist. Known in his time and in two continents as having one of the most brilliant minds; I think he is the most well-balanced specimen of a man that I have ever seen. I really truly believe that the real Antonio Nariño was not much different than how he is portrayed in this telenovela; hats off to the actor who portrayed him in the telenovela. Of one thing I am certain and that is that they got the facts of his life correct. Sure, they added some padding to the story, but not anything important. The people know and love him too much to let them get away with any blatant errors.

laPola07abr11

 

I wasn’t going to post this on my blog, but this telenovela has had the most amazing impact on my life that I will never be the same again. Another ridiculous, yet true, statement. When I finished the final episode, number 98 (each one is 45 minutes long) after a total of 75 hours of viewing time; it was 5 am. I was tired, but I was so stunned that I could do nothing more than sit there looking at the blank screen for about an hour. This was not because the ending had taken me by surprise. No. Like I said, I googled all the biographies, even those of the bad guys, and read them all completely before I was more than a few episodes into the story. I knew the ending right from the start. Still I was so impacted by the story that I was left stunned. It has now been several days since I watched the final episode, and all I can do, is think about it. I haven’t had a good night sleep since I began watching it.

33

 

I have work to do and things to get done, but my mind is still back in that era with those people. I know that writing about something can sometimes dislodge it enough from a person’s mind for them to move on and get back to real life. That is why I decided to write this post. Maybe now, I can get back to doing what I need to do, although I have no desire to do so.

lapola26julio

 

I do beg your pardon that so far I have not been able to find this with English subtitles. Here is the first episode, and even if you don’t understand Spanish, you might want take the time to watch the opening theme which gives you a taste for what I have been talking about. I mean you were interested enough to read this far, right?

I finally decided to write this after trying to explain to my sons why I think it is so important for every Colombian to watch this show, telenovela or not. This is their heritage. I can identify with the poorer characters in the show and I can feel great national pride in their accomplishments; and yet I will never be any more Colombian than those Españoles who were “manchados de la tierra”. Which is a derogatory term given by the European Spanish to those people of Spanish blood who were born in this country, making them second class citizens in Spain. I am proud to be “manchada de la tierra” which means stained by the earth. I don’t do tattoos, but if I were into getting tattoos, I would tattoo it across my arm in a prominent spot.

5882c5b46b19

Fight Scenes

Now that NaNoWriMo is upon us I have decided to try and finish at least one of my several stories that are all in some stage of development.  I am not sure if I will push to write the full 50,000 words or if just finishing at least one of my stories will be the most that I accomplish this time.  Either way, I want to have that sense of accomplishment.

For the past year, I have begun at least eight different stories.  There is a reason, different in each case, why I haven’t finished any of them.  Mostly it is because when I have written about half of one story, I suddenly get this awesome idea for another story.  If I don’t stop writing the first one and at least write up a synopsis of the second one, I can’t concentrate on the first one because my mind keeps wandering off to the second story.  Then I find that I am having such a vast amount of good ideas for the second story, that I just have to write a few paragraphs, which turns into chapters, and before I know it; I am waist deep into my second story, which is when I begin having ideas for a third story.  So far, I haven’t stopped writing a story due to the realization that it is not as good a story as I first thought.  I have, however, stopped writing because I realize that the story is so good that the plot I was going to spin the story around is not worthy of the characters that I have created.  This has only happened once, but to continue that story, I am waiting until I can think of a better plot.

So at this moment, I am trying to write a fight scene.  As I mentioned previously, I am not very good with those.  I was staring at the screen wondering where to begin, when I realized that one of my problems was that I didn’t know if I wanted my hero to kill his adversary or not.  It was not a moral dilemma, as I have no problem with a man dying in battle in any of my stories, but it was more a question of whether I wanted the guy to appear later in the story.  I am still not entirely sure about that.  So, about the fight scene, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to envision it enough to do it justice.  I decided to ask my son to envision it and tell me what was going on while I furiously copied down all that he said.  He even acted it out for me.  So yeah, my son gets copyright on the fight scene.

Writing my stories, I have discovered some interesting things about myself, even remembering events in my past that I had totally forgotten. I find that I am not as enamored with the tedious writing process since I find that I can’t write as fast as I can think, but I really do love the envisioning process of developing a story.  I also find that it is much easier to write a scene with guns than it is to write a scene with sword fighting.  Of course, that is because sword fighting is something of an art, whereas almost anyone can shoot a gun with little to no training.  Hand-to-hand combat is even harder to write than sword fighting.  Well, at least it is for me.

Speaking of guns, I have a true story to tell that frankly I had totally forgotten about until just the other day.  When I was about fifteen years old, my father gave my sister and me each a gun with a box full of bullets.  Let me back up and say that a couple of years before that my older brother had taken me to an outdoor shooting range.  There were probably ten guys there all shooting an assortment of guns.  For a couple of hours, I just stood there watching while my brother shot at a target tacked onto a few bales of hay.  In order to check his progress, and change his paper target, he had to walk all the way over to the bales of hay.  He kept changing guns, and the last gun he tried out was a six bullet revolver.  As an afterthought, he decided to let me try my hand at shooting.   I shot once and only once, and then we immediately left the range.  I didn’t find out until years later that the reason we left so abruptly was because, with my one and only shot, I hit a perfect bull’s-eye.  My brother was so chagrined, since he hadn’t gotten a bull’s-eye during the whole afternoon of shooting that he didn’t feel like shooting anymore, so we left.

When my father gave my sister and me each a gun with a box of bullets, it totally took me by surprise.  I really had no wish to own a gun.  My sister was several years older than me, and I thought that since she was an adult, she probably was old enough to own a gun.  I wasn’t sure about myself, though.  My father took the time to explain the gun to each of us individually.  He took us out into the countryside, and we each shot our guns a couple of times. My sister’s gun I think must have been a six-shooter.  Mine was the cutest little gun that could only hold two bullets at a time.

I was never quite sure of my father’s reasoning for giving us each a gun, but it was obviously for personal protection.  As it turned out, that very first night my sister had the opportunity to use her gun.   She woke up at about 4 a.m. and heard voices just outside of her bedroom window.  Just as my father had instructed us to do, she issued a verbal warning first.  She said, “I have a gun, and I am not afraid to use it.” The soft murmuring voices stopped for a moment and then continued, now louder and laughingly accompanied by stupid taunts.  My sister pointed her gun out the window, aiming for the moon, and let off four shots into the air above the guys’ heads.  Six men ran off into the dark, muttering about stupid, insane women.  Although successful in scaring off the men, I think the incident scared my sister so much that she gave the gun back to my father and refused to keep it.

I, on the other hand, kept my gun for several years and never fired it, ever.  What is funny is that I carried my loaded gun everywhere I went, with the safety lock on, of course.  I would either tuck into my waistband, or into the pocket of my dress.  I especially liked to have it with me if I went out on a date.  Walking home at night, I would sometimes cut through this little park that was known as a place where people went to hook up.  In fact, it was the place of employment for a prostitute.  The park was not really a “park” in that it was not kept up.  It was just an overgrown empty lot with a few trees and lots of bushes and tall grass.  It was the size of two city blocks and had absolutely no electric or artificial lights.  There was a footpath that went across it diagonally.  I almost had to use my gun there once.

I came through there alone at about 9 p.m. and was confronted by a scruffy looking character.  He wouldn’t let me pass by him, and I was just thinking that I was going to have to threaten him with my gun, but then my future husband just happened to walk up behind me.  The guy fled when he saw my tall, tough-looking friend.  My friend / future husband asked me why I had not drawn my gun, and I explained that I was just reaching for it when he showed up.   I eventually left the gun behind when my husband and I moved to the states; it is not easy to travel internationally with a gun no matter how small it is.  I never saw it again.  I never took a picture of my gun, but it looked similar to the below picture.  You can’t tell how big it is from that picture, but I would estimate about 6 or 7 inches.  It was small enough to comfortably fit into my dress pocket or the small of my back without anyone noticing it if I wore my shirt un-tucked.

39145-derringer-great-gun-cal-54--3

It is strange now to think about it.  I haven’t thought about it in decades.  At the time, I thought it was normal for a father to give his daughters guns, I guess.  My brothers each had several guns and as far as I know they never shot anyone.  Well, except for my oldest brother did once, but the guy didn’t die, and you would have to read his book where he tells about it.

Anyway, it is funny that each of us, even my father, separately came to the conclusion not to carry guns.  Not because we are afraid of them, but we came to realize that if our trust is in our physical weapons, then we are not truly trusting in God.  Besides, we would rather be killed, than kill someone else.  I am not so sure that I would rather be raped than to shoot someone, if I could be sure that I wouldn’t kill him.  It is a tough call.  Ultimately, I think I would rather trust in God than in my own ability to wield a weapon, though.

The Enigma of Jane

One of the first rules of writing fiction is to make your main character someone with whom your readers can relate; therefore, make them not too perfect and probably not an alien or even a foreigner. But is that really what readers want?  I suppose that most readers who have grown up in the United States do fall into the above stereotype, otherwise why insist that so many UK actors speak with American accents, and then criticize the hell out of them for not doing it perfectly. While I prefer that actors speak in their native accents; I also like learning about other cultures, and so I have no problem reading stories where I cannot relate to the main characters, that is kind of the point.

So, about Jane; Jane is a normal human with no super powers, and although most of us do not have doctorates in science; she is the one person in the Thor movies to whom we are suppose to be able to relate.  So then, why do so many Thor fans hate Jane?  I just got off a forum where everyone was wishing Thor would just forget about Jane and fall in love with Lady Sif “who clearly is more suited to him”.  Well, the obvious answer is that one does not choose who to love, but that is not the point.  The point is that the one relatable character in the movie is also the same character that so many fans don’t like and wish to see less of in Thor 3. maxresdefault If Jane is supposed to represent the character that we all relate to, does it even matter who plays her, what she looks like, or what her profession is?  Is it not true that she is just a filler character, holding the place for each and everyone of us who wishes we were the character of Jane?  In that case, the less personality the actress portrays the better, so as to not clash so much with any of our own personality traits. But she needs to be there so that we can all pretend Thor is in love with us, doesn’t she?  It is highly unlikely that many of us are going to be able to pretend that we are Lady Sif. BmCPJlECMAEeJZt I guess that I could say “there are two kinds of people, those who like superheroes and those who don’t”.  But is that all it is?  Or is there more behind the like for Lady Sif and the dislike of Jane?  Let’s take a look at another similar pair of women, namely Lagertha and Aslaug in the Vikings.  Last episode when Aslaug comes upon Porunn practicing swordplay; she asks her, “Why does everyone want to be like Lagertha?” Kraka-Aslög I am going to give a little history on Aslaug, given that she is my namesake and all. The TV show gets her lineage right in that she is a princess; however, they get so much of it wrong or out of order.  She was not raised by her parents or even any of her relatives; instead to protect her identity, she was raised by peasants as a peasant, and therefore would not have known the life of luxury and priviledge, as is referred to on Vikings. Contrary to Siggy, who was the wife of an Earl for so long, it is more likely that Aslaug would have had to teach Siggy how to live rough.   Second, she was said to have a higher than average wit.  She was also a seer, in that she had dreams and premonitions that came true.  Third, she refused to have sex with Ragnar Lothbrok before marriage, and refused to marry him until after he had accomplished his purpose in Norway.  The very name Aslaug means “god’s fiance”, before this she was known as Kraka, meaning crow.  Then when she does marry him, she cautions him not to have sex with her so soon after marriage, because she has fears about the child they will make.  True to her sight, since Ragnar refuses to wait any longer, she bears him Ivar the Boneless, who is their 1st child, not their 4th child like in the TV series.  She is the mother of Bjorn Ironside, not Lagertha.  Finally, some sources state that she was in fact Ragnar’s first wife. le-triangle-amoureux-ragnar-lagertha-aslaug Now, about everyone wanting to be a shieldmaiden like Lagertha.  I think that might be true for TV’s modern viewers, but I highly doubt that was the case for the time in which they lived.  Seers were held in higher regard, not to mention princesses; even so, Aslaug had no reason to be jealous of Lagertha.  Brynhildr, Aslaug’s own mother, not the peasant woman who raised her, was a shieldmaiden.  Aslaug could have been a shieldmaiden if she wished to become one; she obviously didn’t view it as something she wanted at that time.  Later when her sons were grown, she did go to battle with her sons Björn and Halfdan Hvitserk.

The point is that most of today’s viewers and readers seem to want their leading female characters to be “go-to-battle”ready.  I can’t think why they don’t like Jane, after all she uses brain and not brawn; but they seem to prefer characters like Lady Sif and Lagertha.  Personally, I like the quiet ones; the ones who value family and motherhood over going to battle.  Since we haven’t yet seen Jane in that role; I will reserve judgment until I see how she handles motherhood and being a wife.  Given her propensity to slap around the gods and go rushing off to investigate; I highly doubt she will be content to stay home with her barns.  I just hope that Thor doesn’t become one of those hen-pecked husbands, to put it nicely. george-reeves Speaking of superheroes, my favorite has always been Superman.  Before you think that it was because I fell in love with Christopher Reeves, I say that my favorite actor to play Superman was George Reeves, maybe not as popular, but much more likable and believable as Superman. The most handsome Clark Kent has to be Tom Welling, too bad we never got to see him as a full-fledged Superman, though. I liked the old Superman character and what he stood for, sure it was nice that he had superpowers, but his main attraction for me was how good and perfect he was.  So, I guess that ties in with my idea about those of us who like superheroes, as opposed to more realistic heroes. Image1 Now, however, I am seriously split as to which superhero is my favorite – Superman, Thor or Captain America.  Captain America has all of those same good qualities that Superman has, only without the superpowers; well, except for strength.   If we go on looks alone, then Thor wins every day of the week.  I use to think that I didn’t like the character of Thor as much as Superman, because when you think of the god that all of my norski ancestors worshipped and were afraid of, there is a lot to be desired.  Ancient Thor was certainly not the Chris Hemsworth version, as you can see on Vikings with their gods demanding human sacrifices.  However, now that the Chris Hemsworth version does exist, Thor is a serious contender for becoming my favorite superhero.  Notice I don’t say the Marvel version of Thor, because I can’t imagine anyone else filling Thor’s shoes quite so completely as Chris Hemsworth, not even a cartoon version.

I do have one objection regarding the Thor movies and that is that they portray only the modern version of Thor and all of Asgaard.  They admit that their lifespans are about 5000 years, so why not show a ten minute scene (or even a whole movie) having to do with how they dealt with our ancestors.  It is quite impossible that Thor (how old is he suppose to be?) did not have other girlfriends, whether human or Asgaardian, before Jane.  When I mentioned this to my son; he said that maybe Vikings could have an episode where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) comes down to earth to help them defeat their enemies.  I realized they can’t though, because those gods were ruthless, unkind and basically not the same character in any way, as Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. Athelstan-Ragnar In the latest episode of Vikings, Ragnar says to Athelstan, the monk, “I hope someday our gods might become friends.”  It is a nice sentiment, and one that a person does wish could be true sometimes.  Especially, if you think of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, it does not seem so far-fetched that he could be friends with Jesus Christ.

So, now we come to the religious part.  Athelstan has gone through several crisis of faith during the last two seasons of Vikings.  He wants to be true to his religion, but then when Ragnar becomes a friend, someone that he admires, and when Ragnar makes him a member of his family; well, he is religiously confused and doesn’t know what to believe anymore.  Like he tells God in the latest episode, that he has seen that Ragnar’s gods are real, in a way that maybe he has never seen in Catholicism.  His main problem is that he was never able to see Jesus for who He really is.  This is partly due to the beliefs of the times; one of which is that whoever wins a battle it was their god who made it happen. It appears to Athelstan that the Vikings are better warriors, does that make their religion the more true?  Athelstan also speaks of seeing their gods in the storms and at sea.

It is more difficult to try and adhere to a religion when you can’t see or hear the god of that religion.  It can be said, that even a harsh god who demands human sacrifice is preferable to one that you can’t see or hear and you only know by reading dogmas and liturgies.  The reason it could be preferable is the same reason it is said that even a bad parent is better than having no parent at all.  Of course, many will disagree, and I myself will say that it is not always better to have a parent.  If having said parent, means that the child grows up to murder the parent in order to stop their abuse, then NO it is not better or preferable.

Our God is not harsh.  How can He be when He gave his life to reconcile us to Him?  Anyone looking for a real-life superhero need look no further.  He did not hang on that cross for lack of power, He did it because He loves us, and wishes all mankind to be saved from what is coming.  Maybe He is not sufficiently imperfect for some, and yet if He were imperfect, He could not save us. Hebrews4-1516 About a hundred years ago, a missionary came to an African tribe and when he arrived to preach the gospel, a tribal man walked up to him and thanked him for coming.  “I didn’t know if God was real, but I have been praying and telling Him that I need a God with skin on Him in order to believe.  God sent you to show me that such a God does exist in the person of Jesus Christ.”  Sometimes we all need a God with skin on, and I think that is the crux of Athelstan’s confusion.  Unfortunately, he never met Jesus, not the real Jesus.

We have all played the game Telephone in a circle group, right?  You know how just a few people speaking from one to the next can corrupt what the original speaker said. There does not seem to be any written record of Thor that precedes the birth of Christ and I have to wonder if the Norse gods are not corrupted versions of the true.  It is not far-fetched to think that they might have taken fragments here and there and filled in the blanks to make up something they could believe in.  We, humans do this all the time.  Who do we know that can calm the winds and the sea by simply speaking to them?  The god of thunder or Jesus Christ? Jesusinboat Now, I know that in reality it is most likely that any and all aliens that we might encounter are none other than fallen angels.  I said in reality.  However, in fiction I have no problem believing that God created the planet Krypton, as well as Asgaard and any number of other planets with beings on them.  That does not diminish God in any way.  In reality, it might even be so; we just have no proof of it.  No, I don’t believe in Universalism or in Ultimate Reconciliation.

So, about Jane;   What kind of character do readers want to read about?  Is it someone to whom they can relate, emphasize with, or is it someone they wish they could be, however unattainable that may prove in reality?  I sit here trying to think of just one female fictional character that I could wish to emulate.  It certainly isn’t The Good Wife, but I do wish that I would come across a recent fictional character that is a faithful wife and good mother, not to mention a good person.  Thor’s mother is definitely a possibility, at least I would like to try her hairstyle. thor2-frigga

Fan Girl

Right now I am going to do something very uncharacteristic of me, and that is to go all 15-year-old fan-girl.   Normally, as much as I might privately love a limited number of songs; I very rarely like to show any kind of support or approval of the musician or group.  This is primarily due to the fact that I only like one or two songs of any particular artist’s work.  So, I can’t bring myself to come out and say that I like said artist, because I really don’t like most of their songs.

Although this continues to be true, I have decided to make an exception regarding two singers that I have been listening to in the last few years.  While I don’t listen to music while I write, I do like to listen to music while I do other things on my computer, like graphics.  These two artists have been the ones to make me feel happy, even when doing extremely boring things like accounting.

cover-Who I Am

Jason Castro was born to Colombian parents living in Texas.  He speaks Spanish fluently and makes irregular visits to Colombia to visit his extended family and give impromptu concerts.  Although lately he has had quite a full schedule.  He is an outspoken Christian as well.  As I open up my “JC Favorites” folder on my computer, I count 15 songs in there, which totally surprises me that I like that many of his songs.  However, his most famous songs are not in my favorites’ folder.   If I have to pick my favorite of his songs, it would have to be If I Were You.  My next favorite would be Let’s Just Fall In Love Again, followed by Love Uncompromised.  Another favorite of his is I’m Not Who I was, but that one is not available for purchase because he didn’t write it.   Like I said before, I don’t like every song, even from an artist that I consider to be one of my favorites; but I do like most of Jason’s songs, even the ones (or maybe, especially the ones) he supposedly “messed-up” when he was on American Idol in 2007.

vald1

Alexander Rybak is the second musician I will mention.  I have to admit that the first thing that attracted me to him is the fact that he is Norwegian.  Well, actually he was born in Minsk, Belarus, but his family moved to Norway when he was three years old.  The second thing is that he plays the violin.  His critics say that he has a Disney vibe, which is only because Disney made that type of music famous, but in reality it is not so much Disney as an old-fashioned and traditional folk music sound to his music.  Actually, I would say it is more like The Sound of Music, than Disney; and he did play the fiddler in The Fiddler on the Roof.  He got his degree from Oslo’s Barratt Due Institute of Music as a classical violinist, so that makes sense.  Ever since I downloaded his songs, I found that I liked listening to them almost as much or more when not watching him sing, which surprised me because of how charismatic he is as a performer.  Of course, he speaks Norwegian and Russian fluently, but his English is also very good.  My favorite song of his is Europe Skies, but I like some of his other songs as well.  I downloaded seven of them that I enjoy.

Now that I think about it, the two of them are very similar to each other.  Here are the attributes that I like about both of the above artists. They both write their own songs, lyrics and music.  They both give off a happy-go-lucky vibe, as if they just fell into singing as a career by accident, which of course they didn’t.  They both have a joyful innocence about their music that is almost simplistic and yet so endearing.  In other words, they don’t give off that hardened modern professional vibe that I dislike so much.  They both have amazing smiles, and the fact that they are both handsome should not be held against them.  They both appear to be a little goofy and can laugh at themselves.  They both became famous due to Idol, even if on opposite sides of the world.  They both look incredibly young, and yet they are not; there is more depth there than is readily apparent; and still we watch as they mature as artists and as individuals.

So I guess, what I like about the one is also what I like about the other.  They kind of feel like family to me.  Although, all three of my sons are very different from each other; Jason reminds me of my second son and Alexander reminds me of my third son.

Here is Alexander Rybak as a cute anime, singing his award winning song.

Cats or Dogs?

I harbor no illusions about becoming a very well-known author, or that people will flock to my blog.  The reason I know this, is because I don’t like playing by the rules that society or industry sets.  I don’t like to be put into a box, not the “Author’s Box” or the “Bloggist’s Box” and told what I must and must not do, think or say.

So, isn’t it disheartening when no one buys my book or visits my website?  I suppose, but that is preferrable to receiving hateful feedback.  Besides, that is not really why I am doing this writing thing.  I know that putting something out into the internet is kind of like whistling in the dark.  I also, know that writing is therapeutic for me.  Am I talking to myself?  If so, then I might be tempted to overshare, I mean if no one but me is going to read it anyway.  Right?  However, the very fact that someone, even one person might read this makes me try at least, to be somewhat interesting and maybe even coherent.  As opposed to just writing in a personal journal.

divider_vine_all

My father is a dog lover.  Growing up as an only child was made easier for him because he had a dog to keep him company.  As I grew up, I always wondered if my dad liked dogs more than people.  I, however, always preferred cats; and so I was surprised to overhear my dad’s conversation with someone; I can’t remember who it was, but I think it was a guy.

Guy, “I don’t like cats.  I prefer dogs.”

Dad, “The thing you gotta remember about cats, is that they are not dogs.”

My father is a pretty smart guy. No, really; he is. I guess wisdom comes with experience, but I tend to believe that my father was smart since the day he was born; however, I am sure that it took him some time to warm up to cats.  Maybe from living with me and having to deal with all of my cats (when I was 12, I had 24 of them).  Somehow, he learned to appreciate and even love cats, well some cats, maybe not as much as dogs and certainly not instead of dogs; but I truly believe that my father has learned to love cats.  It’s just a different kind of relationship.  You can’t have the same kind of relationship with your cat as you do with a dog.  You can’t have the same expectations from a cat as you do with your dog.  Cats satisfy different needs in their owners and they in turn have different needs from those of a dog.

Personally, I think I am both cat and dog lover; because like my father, I have learned to appreciate both types of animals.  I have to admit that in a small apartment it is much less hassle to have a cat, though.  On a farm, I say let’s have both and maybe some cows and horses, too.

As a reader, I have always felt that the questions, “What is your favorite genre?  Or which is your favorite author?” were kind of the same as the question, “Are you a cat person or a dog person?”.  The questions never seem to grasp the fact that there is no answer possible.  At least not for a thinking and feeling person.  You love each differently, with a different part of your brain and heart.  This is no either/or, there is only love or dislike.  I don’t love all cats, even though I am a cat person.  My father doesn’t like all dogs, even though he is a dog person.  I don’t like every single book by any particular author.  I love some of my favorite authors’ books and MEH others.  I probably like at least one book in each genre, well at least the most commonly known ones.

The thing about most readers, is that if you are reading for the mystery or suspense, maybe you won’t appreciate a little romance thrown into the mix.  However, if you are reading romance, you don’t usually mind a little suspense or drama thrown in.   I think romance readers are more versatile and open to new plots.  As long as there is a good romance thrown in, we pretty much will read any genre out there.   Well, some of us anyway.  I like books that mix everything together, as long as the romance is clean and there is no stupid misunderstandings or one person is keeping a secret from their love interest (that I can’t stand).  I love when the conflict is outside of the relationship and the couple has to work together to overcome it.  In fact, I find that many times suspense or mystery can be quite good for romance.

Checkboxes

We all know that a person is the product of their past experiences, however, each day a person would seem to concentrate on something different.  I know that I don’t always wake up in the same mood.

Let’s say that each of our life experiences were somehow a checkbox on a list, and on any given day when a person wakes up we never have all of the boxes checked, and each day different boxes are checked in a random manner.  I suppose it is possible for some people to only check the negative boxes and live miserable lives.  Or for others to only check the positive boxes, and they must be those happy people who in spite of having had negative experiences in their lives, they live their lives as if those things had never happened to them.   Some people might say that those people are living in denial and that some day it will all catch up to them; I don’t know if that is true.  Granted some days I wake up having feelings like maybe I am Marie Antoinette and I am just waiting for the angry mob to break down my door and carry me off to the guillotine.  Is that too dramatic?  Ok, so maybe it is more like I am a juggler and I wake up some days feeling like the magic will be gone and I won’t be able to keep all of my balls in the air.  In either case, it is a feeling of impending doom.

I don’t know how many of you have played The Sims, but every time they wake up their ambitions spin and they have a different set of wants and goals for the day.

Capture2

This is eerily close to real life.  The difference is that for the Sims it is random and out of anyone’s control to determine or predict what their wants and goals will be for that day.  For us, it can sometimes feel that way, but in reality we are always in control of what we choose to concentrate on.  We can choose to dwell on the negative or on the positive.  We can choose to love or not.  We can choose to be happy or sad.  We can choose to do what it is right or not.

We all have had unpleasant experiences in our lives, some worse than others; however it is up to us to decide which boxes to check and which ones to leave unchecked.   We need to consciously check the boxes next to the experiences that make us better people and leave unchecked the boxes next to the experiences that leave us with negative feelings or which would manipulate us into becoming negative people.

Of course this maybe easier said than done.  One thing that is certain is that the more we meditate upon those negative experiences, the more negative we become.  We become that which we meditate on, or I can put it another way.  If we feed the demon, he gains more control over us.

I wish to concentrate on everything that is positive and uplifting.  If there is no personal positive experience for me to draw upon, then I must turn my attention to some outside source.  One way to do this is by reading a book that is uplifting, whether it be fiction or non-fiction; there are plenty of stories out there with encouraging and positive experiences.

We are responsible to filter what we allow into our minds, and last night was one of those times that I had to make a choice.  I began reading a book that was highly recommended to me.  I had been looking forward to reading this book, since it was a historical romance, written by an well-selling author who is said to pay close attention to historical fact.  I had never read one of her books before, and I was wishing to see what attraction was.   I plodded through the first chapter noticing that the tone of the author was not one that I shared or enjoyed.  Upon finishing the second chapter, I saw that the tone did not change and I was beginning to feel depressed.  I have made the unequivocal decision that life is too short to read books that make me feel depressed.

It is one thing to try and check or uncheck the boxes next to unpleasant personal past experiences.  It is a whole other thing to engage in random negative outside experiences in the name of entertainment.  That is totally avoidable and one in which I can actively choose not to participate.  It is the main reason that I avoid reality shows as if they were the Black Plague of our age; which I am not convinced they are not.  In any case, I need not subject myself to it.  I am responsible for what I read and what I watch, and I had better well make sure it is something that will be helpful to me, either by lifting my spirits or teaching me something useful.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8