Hidden Kingdom (Chapter 2-adding page 9)

To see the complete Chapter 1, use the following link;https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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An Unexpected Gift 

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This post is a movie review for Thor : Ragnarok , though I don’t really plan on talking about the movie very much.   It was an excellent comic book movie in the same tongue-in-cheek comedy tradition as Guardians of the Galaxy.   It made me laugh and made me cheer.   It was the best of that kind of movie.  But it wasn’t the most important thing that happened that night.

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You see, I spent the weekend in the hospital thinking I had suffered a heart attack during the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought I was facing surgery at the very least.   I knew I might have had an appointment to play chess with the Grim Reaper.   It is a lot to worry about and drain all the fun out of life.

Well, one of the things that happened that day, Tuesday, my first full day out of the hospital and, hopefully, out of the woods over heart attacks, was that I received my new replacement bank card because my old one had a worn out, malfunctioning chip in it.  So, I took my three kids to the movie at the cheapest place we could find.  I tried to run my bank card for the payment, and it was summarily declined.  I had activated it previously during the day, and there was plenty of money in the account compared to the price, but it just wouldn’t take.  So I had to call Wells Fargo to find out whatever the new reason was for them to hate me.  It turned out that it had already been activated, but a glitch had caused it to decline the charge.  While I was talking to the girl from the Wells Fargo help desk, the lady who had gotten her and her husband’s tickets right before us put four tickets to the movie in my hand.

The middle-aged black couple had lingered by the ticket stand before going in to their movie just long enough to see a sad-looking old man with raggedy author’s beard and long Gandalf hair get turned down by the cheap-cinema ticket-taking teenager because the old coot’s one and only bank card was declined. They were moved to take matters into their own hands and paid for our tickets themselves.

That, you see, was the gift from my title.  Not so much that we got our movie tickets for free, but that the world still works that way.  There are still good people with empathetic and golden hearts willing to step in and do things to make the world a little bit better place.  The gift they gave me was the reassurance that, as bad and black as the world full of fascists that we have come to live in has become, it still has goodness and fellow feeling in it. People are still moved to pay things forward and make good on the promise to “love one another”.  I did not have a chance to thank them properly.  I was on the phone with Wells Fargo girl when it happened.  The only thing that couple got out of their good deed was thank-yous from my children and the knowledge that they had done something wonderful.  I plan to pay it forward as soon as I have the opportunity.  Not out of guilt or obligation, but because I need to be able to feel that feeling too at some point.

I do have one further gift to offer the world.

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After we got home from the movie, I opened an email that contained the cover proof for my novel, Magical Miss Morgan.  Soon I will have that in print also if I can keep Page Publishing from messing it up at the last moments before printing.  It is a novel about what a good teacher is and does.  It is the second best thing I have ever written.

Sometimes the gifts that you most desperately need come in unexpected fashion.

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Tarzan and the Timeless Valley of Nostalgia

There was a time when Tarzan was one of the ruling heroes of my boyhood fantasies of power and self-fulfillment. And, while Tarzan was a cartoon show on Saturday morning, comics by Burne Hogarth, movies in the theater in color with Mike Henry, or a weekly series on TV with Ron Ely, he was always Johnny Weissmuller to me. Weissmuller who played both Tarzan and Jungle Jim in the Saturday afternoon black-and-white movies.

I have to admit, I didn’t identify with the character of Tarzan as much as I thought of myself like the character “Boy”, played by Johnny Sheffield in movies like “Tarzan Finds a Son”. It was a significant part of my boyhood to imagine myself being like Boy, free from practically all restraints, able to gad about the dangerous jungle nearly naked with monkey pals and no fear. If I got into trouble by believing my skills were greater than they really were, I would save myself with ingenuity, and, barring that, Tarzan would rescue me. And, believe it or not, sometimes there were fixes that Tarzan got into that he needed me and Cheetah to be creative and get him out of. I knew in my heart that one day real life would be like that, especially once I grew into Tarzan and stopped being just Boy. That idea was in my head so loudly that several times I went to Bingham Park Woods, stripped down, and played Boy in the Jungle.

As in the previous essay about Heroes of Yesteryear, I learned important things from Johnny Weissmuller on Saturday TV. He taught me that all you really needed, even in the darkest jungles of Africa, was confidence and courage. You could stand up to any deadly danger without the protection of any armor, practically naked, in fact, if only you had that heroic goodness of heart. The little boy I was then still believes that whole-heartedly even in the aging body of an old man.

So, Tarzan continues to live in my memory, a part of me, an essential part of my education. He is me and I am he. But only in my mind. Me in a loincloth, swinging on a vine now… and probably going splat like an overripe melon on the jungle floor… well, that is too ridiculous to even imagine being real anymore. Yet he lives on in me. And he battles the metaphorical leopard-people of modern life through me. Unarmored. Confident. And unafraid.

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One Simple Saturday

Today is a day I normally take it easy, relax a bit, and do some thinking and reflecting. On Simple Saturdays I simply post old artworks that I hadn’t thought of in a while. Now that I am going blind, losing the ability to travel, and possibly facing the last days of my life, it is important to pace myself and not rush anything. The finish line is near. And this race isn’t won by crossing the final line first.

Not all works of art are done with pen and ink, or colored pencil. Some require dolls and camera.

Some require camera and colored pencil.

Some pictures require a little Chopin in the background.

Is this both funny and creepy at the same time?

Sometimes the individual pictures I select seem somehow strange and off-kilter.

But mostly, I think, it’s just about the weird way my stupid old mind works.

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The Curse of the Empath

You will have to forgive me for the nude art in this post, but empathy is something that makes you emotionally naked before the whole world. Especially if you are fool enough to write about it. And I am definitely fool enough.

Part of what makes a teacher good at her or his job is the amount of empathy they are cursed with. I have to admit that some people who work with kids are demanding, strict, harsh, and have absolutely no empathy at all. And some of them are among the best teachers there are, especially if they are sports coaches, foreign language teachers, or math teachers. They put you firmly through the discipline and make you know your stuff. Or they break you down and rebuild you so that you are stronger than before.

And there are those teachers who, on rare occasions, have too much empathy. Those teachers are the ones that cry hard when the principal has to bail them out of jail because they confessed to the crime of burglary at the motel because they happened to learn that Jose actually did it and Jose’s home life is hard because his family is so poor they have a dirt floor in their home and no working plumbing. Jose can’t possibly deserve prison, and they feel it in their hearts. And somehow they believe that, if only given a break, Jose will be an angel. Their hearts tell them things that a working brain could never accept.

But the average to good teachers, the ones who can lay claim to the appellation of “competent,” have to have a very clear idea of what it feels like to be a kid in their classes. They have to know what hurts and what heals and how you have to talk to a kid to make him feel better when he accidentally pooped his pants in class due to medical challenges. Or how to make that shy girl who rarely talks in class feel empowered when she correctly identifies Scout’s motivation when she defies Calpurnia, her nanny, to help out a friend in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird. Average to good teachers always walk into the classroom knowing that every kid in the room is mentally and emotionally naked for most of the school day… no matter how many layers of clothing they may be covering it up with.

And it is not easy being in rooms full of naked kids every day if you have more than the minimum share of empathy. Empathy makes you feel what they are feeling, all the anger, disgust, fear, sadness, anticipation, joy, and sorrow… all the embarrassing feelings brought on by being emotionally naked in front of peers and teachers… and that hot-looking new girl from California. You feel their pain. You feel their awkwardness. And if they are a wicked little pervert, you feel sick to your stomach as you realize you are seeing them as their least-acceptable, naked self.

And the curse doesn’t just end at the close of the school day.

You have to know going in that if you watch that Disney movie on TV you are going to cry at least three times, possibly endure heart-wrenching angst twice, and laugh unattractively like SpongeBob more times than you can count. And those are only fictional people. Curse it, you even cry during telephone commercials. Your daughter tells you about seeing the cyclists in the park almost run over a skunk, and you can practically smell it and feel the nausea in your gut. Your dog whines about the empty food dish and you feel that too. All because of the curse of empathy. If you have it, you are going to feel whatever they feel, whoever they are. Even if you don’t really want to.

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Thanks for the Memories, Mr. Disney

This post is going to sound an awful lot like stuff and nonsense, because that is what it primarily is, but it had to be said anyway.    Last night my family took me to see the movie Saving Mr. Banks, a deeply moving biographical story of P.L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins, and how she had to be convinced to surrender her beloved character to the movie industry which she so thoroughly detested and distrusted.  It is also about one of my most important literary heroes, Walt Disney, and how he eventually convinced the very eccentric and complicated authoress to allow him to make her beloved character into a memorable movie icon.

“We create our stories to rewrite our own past,” says Disney, trying to tell Mrs. Travers how he understood the way that her Mary Poppins character completed and powerfully regenerated the tragedy of her own father’s dissolution and death.  This is the singular wisdom of Disney.  He took works of literature that I loved and changed them, making them musical, making them happy, and making them into the cartoonish versions of themselves that so many of us have come to cherish from our childhoods.  He transforms history, and he transforms memory, and by doing so, he transforms truth.

Okay, and as silly as those insights are, here’s a sillier one.  In H.P. Lovecraft’s dreamlands, on the shores of the Cerenarian Sea, north of the Mountains of Madness, there roam three clowns.  They are known as the Boz, the Diz, and the Bard, nicknames for Charles Dickens, Walt Disney, and William Shakespeare.  These three clowns, like the three fates of myth, measure and cut the strings of who we are, where we are going, and how we will get there.  They come to Midgard, the Middle Earth to help us know wisdom and folly, the wisdom of fools.

Why have I told you these silly, silly things?  Do I expect you to believe them?  Do I even expect you to read all the way to paragraph four?  Ah, sadly, no…  but I am thinking and recording these thoughts because I believe they are important somehow.  I may yet use them as the basis of a book of my own.  I enjoy a good story because it helps me to do precisely as Mr. Disney has said, I can rewrite my own goofy, silly, pointless past.

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How Do You Do?

“How do you do, Mickey?”

“How do I do what?”

“I just meant to say, hello, how have you been?

“Well, I thought I was gonna die last night.”

“Is something wrong? Heart maybe?”

“No. Just an ugly premonition. I get them all of the time. And I woke up alive this morning anyway. The joke is on whichever trickster god or goddess it was that gave me the neck-prickling premonition last night.”

“Well, I, for one, am glad you didn’t have the information right. What would the world be like without you in it?”

“Well, I often think it wouldn’t make any difference if I were not here. Other people draw pictures like I do. Other people write stories. Theirs are probably better than mine.”

“Actually, I think you are one of a kind. Your artistic vision is unique and no one I know of writes stories quite like you do. Didn’t you just get another 5-star review on Snow Babies?”

“Yes, but it was just Amazon putting back one they had removed because they thought it wasn’t real.”

“Why did they do that?”

“Well, Amazon never explains anything. But I think it was because of the word complexing that the reviewer used. The way it was used made you think he was illiterate or something. But then the most recent reviewer explained the central metaphor of the quilt and made it clear that it was a story with a complex plot. Apparently they gave the complexing-guy the benefit of the doubt. Complexing is a real word. It was merely used very awkwardly.”‘

“So, you’re not dead or dying, and you are apparently a good writer, at least, according to your reviewers.”

“Actually, I’m just making a lot of nothing out of something. It’s what I always do. I am also not unhappy with my life the way it is. Even if it all ends today, I am satisfied that it was a good life, well-lived. Not everyone can say that.”

“You once had a spirograph like the one in the picture, right?”

“Yeah. In fact, you see that spiral drawing in the top diamond-box?”

“Yeah.”

“That was the hardest one to do without having your hand slip and messing the whole design up. I worked for days with many hours in them before I finally got one perfect. And after that I didn’t really care so much about doing Spirograph any more. Though I wish I still had that old thing.”

“You are going to write more stories, aren’t you?”

“Are you worried that because Snow Babies is so good, I’ll lose interest?”

“Yeah… kinda.”

“If that were gonna happen, I would’ve stopped at three published books. Number 20 starts a free promotion tomorrow.””

“So, when is the book free?”

“From Friday, June 18th until Tuesday, June 22nd.”

“Wow. Say, do you know who you’ve been talking to this whole time?”

“Hmmm…. Either the cardinal in that first picture, Cissy Moonskipper herself, or maybe me. I do talk to myself like a crazy old coot.”

“Yes, I’m very much all three. I am the self-examing side of you, your other me.”

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That Bluebird of Happiness

Blue birds

I often go back and re-read old posts, particularly when I discover that someone else has read them.  It is amazing to me how differently I perceive things from when I actually wrote the post.  As you write, squeezing huge, boulder-sized portions of hot, magma-like burning ideas and passions out through writing orifices not nearly big enough to accommodate, you usually hate what you wrote and are still writhing in pain from the creation of it as you try to edit it, trim it and brush its unruly hair.  (How’s that for a mixed metaphor to make you cringe?)  But given time and distance, you can really appreciate what you wrote more than ever before.  Things that you thought were the stupidest idea a man ever put in words suddenly have the power to make you laugh, or make you cry.  You are able to feel the things the writing was intended to make you feel.  You begin to think things like, “Maybe you are not the worst writer that ever lived, and maybe that’s not why nobody ever reads your books.”  But then, of course, your sister reads the post and tells you that you write like a really old, really crabby, really ancient old man.  And you use the word “really” too much too.  I know I deserve that, Sis.  Especially the “really” part.

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Here’s a post that I reread and liked today about Bob Ross.

This is the thing about happiness;  It is elusive and rare as a real-life blue bird. But capturing it for a moment is not impossible.  And as long as you don’t try to salt its tail and keep it prisoner, you can encourage it to sing for you.  (Much better metaphor this time, don’t you think?)  vintage-coca-cola-ad-1950s-1960s-clownb

When I am accused of being gloomy, old, and boring, I can happily admit it and make it into something funny.  I am something of a conspiracy nut, but not so serious that I believe all my own assertions.  For those people who took offense at this conspiracy theory of mine; Coca-Cola Mind Control, I would like to point out that “Hey, I was joking.  I actually like clowns.”  Even though there is a serious side to everything and there can’t be laughter without some tears, I am basically happy with the way things are.

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I started listening to “Live Happy Radio” on Sunday mornings on KLUV in Dallas.  They point out on their program of endlessly droning happy-talk that happiness is something that you can work at.  Like humor writing in blogs, it takes practice and practice and time.  They even asked me to share the word about their happy magazine and products, so I am doing exactly that right here.  Sometimes you simply have to put your cynicism in a jar on the shelf next to the lock box where you keep depression and self-loathing.  So you can find their Live-Happy folderol right here.

So I am bird-watching again with an eye out for the bluebird.  You know the one.  It is out there somewhere.  And I need to hear that song one more time.

Blue birds

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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Some books come along telling a story that has to be taken seriously in ways that don’t make sense in any normal way.  The Alchemist is one of those books.

What is an alchemist, after all?

An alchemist uses the medieval forms of the art of chemistry to transmute things, one thing becoming another thing.

Coelho in this book is himself an alchemist of ideas.  He uses this book to transmute one idea into another until he digs deep enough into the pile of ideas to finally transmute words into wisdom.

There is a great deal of wisdom in this book, and I can actually share some of it here without spoiling the story.

Here are a few gemstones of wisdom from the Alchemist’s treasure chest;

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting…” (p.13)

“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.” (p.17)

“All things are one.  And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  (p.24)

“And when he had gone only a short distance, he realized that, while they were erecting the stall, one of them had spoken Arabic and the other Spanish.    And they had understood each other perfectly well.  There must be a language that doesn’t depend on words, the boy thought.” (p.45)

All of these quotes from the book, as you can see, come from the first third of the book.  There are many more treasures to be found in this book.  I should not share them with you here.  Just as the main character of the story learns, you have to do the work for yourself.  But this book is not only an enjoyable read, but a map for how you can execute your own journey towards your “Personal Legend”.  In fact, you may find that the book tells you not only how to go about making a dream come true, but, if you are already on that journey successfully, it tells you what things you are already doing right.

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Some New Scans of Old Art

Sometimes I just need to update my portfolio in the world of modern technology. Some of these images may be used in upcoming projects. Some are just attempts at restoring things from the past that may never be useful for anything, but that I still wish to preserve. So, all of these pictures, whether you have seen them here before or not, are fresh scans with better color, alignment, and scan quality. It has helped to update software on old machines.

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AeroQuest 4… Appendix 1

Useful Index Updated #1

Dramatis Personae

Gedeliah (Ged) Aero – Possibly the hero of our story, Ged is a moral man, a hunter, a spacer, and soon to be a teacher because of his immense ability with Psion shape-changer skills.  He can transform the cells of his body into anything he desires (at least if he’s tasted the flesh of it).  He has now become the White Spider of the Web of Space.

Hamfast (Ham) Aero – Pilot and owner of the safari ship, the Leaping Shadowcat.  He’s also Ged’s brother and maker of the plan to get Ged into unknown space.  He has foolishly joined the Corsair Rebellion against the Thousand Planets of the Imperium and was captured by Admiral Tang.

Trav (Goofy) Dalgoda – The goofy one is capable of practically anything, and living proof that dumb luck is real.  He likes to blow things up and kill stuff.  His shoulder advisors are called Avarice and Greed.  He is the murderer of Count Nefaria and the enemy of Maggie (the Knife) Blastarr.  He also loves to wear Donald Duck hats and ties with comedy messages on them.

The Madonna – A Nebulon Princess and rescued slave girl, she falls in love with Ham Aero.  She becomes his wife and the mother of his blue children.  She is also the mother of Junior Aero, born in her captivity, so she is not closely attached to her own firstborn son.

Hamfast (Junior) Aero Jr. – Unwanted blue-skinned Nebulon Boy.  He becomes attached emotionally to Ged Aero and also possesses Psion skill.  He is the beloved childhood companion of Sara Smith.

Sinbadh – A Stardog Corsair Lupin (half-man, half-dog) who is marooned at Don’t Go Here for the crime of being a vegetarian.  He has become a trusted crewman and cook aboard the Leaping Shadowcat.

Tron Blastarr – The space-pirate leader of the Pinwheel Corsairs.  He has a scarred eye.  He is also a very capable pirate leader tired of the depredations of the Galtorr Imperium.  He becomes one of the primary rebel leaders. As a former Imperial Space Navy pilot, he became an Ace in the Pan Galactican War against the Faceless Horde.

Maggie (the Knife) Blastarr – The wife of Tron, mother of Artran, and hater of Goofy Dalgoda.  She is also fond of using knives and cutting people like Goofy Dalgoda.  She is the one person Trav Dalgoda most needs to avoid, though he doesn’t see it that way himself.  After all, Goofy Dalgoda is kinda stupid.

Artran Blastarr – Son of Tron and Maggie, a space child who enjoys the adventure of being the son of a famous space pirate.  Goofy Dalgoda made him laugh.  The Star Nomads made him an Explorer and turned him into an instant adult through time-travel.

Hassan the Elf – A Peri, artificially genetically-engineered to be a living creativity generator.  The space elf helps Happy Jack to create his robot child.  He also becomes a favorite sidekick of Captain Tron Blastarr.

Happy Jack (AB-101 Astron 99) – A teacher robot created to teach Artran Blastarr, but fired from his purpose in life by the Blastarrs.  He is the mommy-bot to Tiki Astro.

Tiki Astro – The silver, sentient, child-robot with a working penis that Happy Jack and Hassan created so that Happy Jack can be a mommy.  He is the beloved companion of Artran Blastarr, at least in the last novel.  In this novel, he bounces around between the Star Nomads and the White Spider Disciples.

Scheherazade – The beautiful black-skinned corsair pilot and warrior.  She is loved by all, but has her eye on the King of Killers whom she married shortly before her heroic death in space combat.  Of course, death does not disqualify characters from being in this novel or any others of the series.

The King of Killers – Tron Blastarr’s right-hand man, King is second in command of the Pinwheel Corsairs.  He also is in love with the beautiful Scheherazade who sacrifices herself to save him.  He is somehow supposed to be an important character in this so-called history.  Maybe he earned that right by fighting beside Tron Blastarr and Arkin Cloudstalker in the wars against the Faceless Horde.

Wicked Wanda Pierce – The holo-epic star of such entertainments as All Spaceways Lead to Galtorr, Naked Slave-Women of the Vampire Starport, and the comedy masterpiece You Probably Won’t Believe This.

Elvis the Cruel – The guitar-playing pilot for the Pinwheel Corsairs who is probably the most feared member of Tron Blastarr’s pirate band.  He definitely has scored the most kills in combat going all the way back to the wars against the Faceless Horde.

Dana Cole – An agent of Count Nefaria and also the woman who falls hopelessly in love with Trav Dalgoda, a mistake that gets her boss killed and makes of her a traitor.  She is probably either really dumb or hopelessly evil, either way making her a dangerous character.  Being in love with Trav Dalgoda seriously complicates the problems.

Sorcerer 3, 4, & 6… and maybe 12 – The evil, vicious Syn Corporation robotic assassin who won’t stay dead, coming back again and again to irritate Trav and the Aero Brothers.

Arkin Cloudstalker – The pirate leader of the Lady Knights Corsairs.  Arkin is a heroic, rebel-leader sort of character.  He aspires to do great deeds and save the known galaxy.  He has since he and Tron were rookie teenage pilots together in Pan Galactica, the reason for the white cowboy hat.

 Tabitha Blue-Arrow – The best of Cloudstalker’s Lady Knights, Tabitha has recently retired to own and operate an inn at Aerobase Frieda, the Starport orbiting Don’t Go Here, the planet of the Flintstone Cavemen.

Razor Conn – Leader of the Blackhawk Corsairs of the water-planet, Dancer.

Shad Blackstone – The oriental-looking second in command of the Blackhawk Corsairs.

Carleton Keyser, the Thin White Duke – A sector duke of the Galtorr Imperium who also happens to be the ruler of all pirates and smugglers.

Fez Amin – Tattooed leader of the dreaded Monopoly Brigade.  He is ruthless and violent, and also probably evil.

Grand Admiral Brona Tang – The leader of the entire Space Navy of the Galtorr Imperium.  He always appears in bright red body armor and no one in living memory has seen the actual face underneath.

Emperor Slythinus – The Galtorrian-Human fusion who currently rules the Imperium, at least until everyone learns that he died while in exile on the jungle-planet Stanley.

Ace Campfield – The malevolent Mechanoid bounty hunter hired by Count Nefaria to kill Arkin Cloudstalker and Tron Blastarr.  He is relentless, but also witless, and is now relegated to a mere head and torso imprisoned by Arkin Cloudstalker and kept around to laugh at and gloat over.

Frieda – The intelligence released from the Crown of All Stars by Trav Dalgoda. She helped them take possession of the entire planet of Don’t Go Here.  She turned herself into a sentient starport as well as a beautiful humanoid robot entirely colored gun-metal gray.

Tara Salongi – Cave girl and gifted telepath who falls in love with Ged Aero.  Current whereabouts are a matter of considerable concern.  She may be imprisoned by Mong the Miserly of the planet Mingo.  But she may also be in the custody of Raylond King, one of the ruling triumvirate of the Mingoan Worlds.

Banzai Joe – The owner of a deep-space station called the Arthur Rimbaud Memorial Outstation and Weapons Storehouse.  He is a rogue and a con man well-known to Tron and Trav and many other pirates and corsairs.

Xavier Tkriashav – A Psion Master marooned on Don’t Go Here, planet of the cavemen, and awaiting the foretold coming of the White Spider.  But once liberated he pursues his empire-building passion to create the New Star League.  He is possibly elected or possibly self-appointed as the first Senator Prime of the New Star League.

Dr. Naylund Smith – The immortal who waited for the White Spider to appear on the planet Gaijin.  He pledges himself to the White Spider in order to help him teach the Psion children he will lead to fulfillment of prophecy.  His own daughter is destined to become a White Spider Disciple.

Sara Smith – The daughter of Naylund.  She’s a gifted Psion healer.  She is among the first of the White Spider’s students.

Shu Kwai – The gifted Psion Telekinetic who becomes leader among the White Spider’s students.

Friashqazatla “Freddy” – The Black Wolf, Psion Shape-changer who is among the first of the White Spider’s students.

Rocket Rogers – The gifted Psion Pyro who is a space-cowboy refugee from the doomed Bradalanth Colony.  He is also a student and then a Disciple of the White Spider.

Jadalaqstbr “Jackie” – The gifted Psion Teleporter from the planet Zarane.  Well, actually from a gas giant moon in that planet’s star system.  She is a dusky-colored beauty from the former Psion Space Empire.  She is also a student and then Disciple of the White Spider.

Billy Iowa – The gifted Psion Clairvoyant and refugee from the Pan Galactican Wars against the Faceless Horde.  He is the best friend and protector of Gyro Sinjarac.

Gyro Sinjarac – The gifted Psion Transmuter who loves to invent things, especially with his psionic ability to change one atom into another with his mind alone.  He is a Nebulon and son of the Sinjarac Ambassador who saved the life of Billy Iowa.

Mai Ling – The gifted Psion Telekinetic from the planet Gaijin.  She is a dead shot with any slug-throwing or thrown weapon.  She can throw a pebble faster than a gun can shoot a bullet.

Bres, the Face-Dancer – The Psionic Black Spider who proves to be nearly Ged Aero’s equal as a Shape-Changer and teacher of Psions.  Ged defeated and banished him from Gaijin.

Phoenix – The Psionic Pyro trained by the Black Spiders on Gaijin.  He is the one that surrenders his team to Ged Aero and helps them all join the White Spider’s Dojo.

Taffy King – The Psionic Telekinetic who is, like Phoenix, a racially mixed fusion-race Galtorrian/Human.  She is also trained by the Black Spiders on Gaijin and also defects to the White Spider’s cause.

Alec Songh – The Psionic Un-Healer or Hurter, he is Gaijinese and trained by the Black Spiders to use his healing power to hurt others and break them down in battle.  He defected to the White Spider, but is consistently the one who is most likely to be tempted back to the black ones.

The Crew of the Megadeth – Captain Tommy Lee, Pamela, Pilot Vince Niell, Nikki Sixx, Cold Death, Slash, and sometimes the evil robot T-bop.  They are a motley crew.

Professor Googol Marou – That’s me!  The genius astronomer/inventor/physicist/pie-baker who lived through all of this and decided to tell the story.  Believe me, I am the smartest guy you could ever meet.  Well, human guy, anyway.

The Star Nomads – Some of the original explorers from the Galtorr/Human Fusion Empire evolved beyond bodies.  Men like the famed Martin Faulkner, Dakota Jim, and Stemperus Achs of Galtorr Prime would evolve into bodiless beings inhabiting suits of lead armor to prevent irradiating everyone they meet.  They became Star Nomads with names like the Geomancer, the Magnificent Wanderer, the Black Knight, and the Dark Traveler.

**Yes, I know this is too long for an ordinary post, but it does cover five books.

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Essential Visits to Boo-Hooville

I have been ill this past weekend, a viral infection that I must take care of aggressively because I got vaccinated and survived the Covid pandemic but could still die from complications of the regular flu. So, what can I do about the fever, headaches, and diarrhea? Well, one thing I can do is watch a few Boo-Hoo movies. Seriously, crying cleans out the sinuses better than any medicine you can take. Especially deep-down from-the-bottom-of-the-heart, you’ve-touched-the-wounds-in-my-soul crying.

And, of course, I found some doozies.

Raya and the Last Dragon just became free-without-additional-fees on Disney+.

Wow! Is that ever a good movie for making puddles all over your comforter and pillows while trying to overcome a churning stomach and swimming vision!

The dragon kingdom has broken apart into five warring factions. Each has a broken piece of the dragon stone. And the evil cloud-things the dragon stone was supposed to protect the people from are sweeping across the country, turning everybody into statues of unfeeling stone. Raya, daughter of the last protector of the dragon stone, finds Sisu, the Last Dragon not turned to stone, and together they must reassemble the stone and the country it protects.

Literally everyone sacrifices themselves at some point in the story. The whole story is about how nothing will ever be right again until people trust each other and work together for the common good. Watch it. See if you can prove me wrong.

Sweettooth, the Netflix series based on the comic book of the same name, is another good one. In it the world after the pandemic apocalypse is increasingly inhabited by the animal-children, all of whom are born after the Big Sick wipes out nearly every normal human on the planet. And the Last Men who are still not yet sick are actively hunting kids like Gus, nicknamed Sweettooth, because the only possible cure comes from harvesting the living tissue of animal children.

I have watched six episodes so far. There is something major to weep for in every single episode. And the most amazing thing about Boo-Hoo movies is that most of them are classified as comedies. There are things to laugh at in every movie or every episode. The sobs and the ha-has always seem to go hand in hand.

Remember this one? How many tissues did it take to get you through that bus-ride near the end?

Grief and sadness are the flip side of the coin of comedy. You need them both to completely understand what love is. You need them both to get the jokes. And if you don’t feel them both in a great movie, you don’t know what a great movie really is. You will never see the light if you don’t know what darkness is.

Anyway, I have pretty much cried my head dry this weekend. And I have hopes the current bug will also pass. If it doesn’t, I guess I turn on another movie. Maybe the Incredibles should be next.

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