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 

thor-ragnarok-end-credits-avengers-infinity-war-870508

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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Loish

A lovely old art post.

Catch a Falling Star

I want to talk about a living artist for a change.  I know that the artists I have talked about on this goofy blog-that-doesn’t-seem-to-know-what-it-is-really-for, Norman Rockwell, William Bouguereau, Paul Detlafsen, Thomas Kinkade, Fontaine Fox, and Maxfield Parrish, are all quite dead.  But conversely that is a good thing because it means their art has stood the test of time.  But today I want to plug a working artist I find absolutely fascinating.  This is the first artist I ever seized upon as an example of a true master whose chosen medium is primarily digital art.

This is Loish.  You can find her at http://loish.net/ or http://http://loish.deviantart.com/.  Her name is Lois Van Baarle and she is a Dutch citizen by birth.  She has worked as both an animator and a commercial artist/illustrator.  She has lived all over the world in countries like France, Belgium, Germany, and the United States, but…

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Humor Me (Humor? Me?)

Another odd old post.

Catch a Falling Star

I am wondering now if it is appropriate to call what I do in my writing and my cartooning humor.  I tell stories.  As a school teacher in both junior high and high school, I told stories in class and made kids laugh.  (Okay, I admit, kids that age mixed with hormones, experiments with sex and alcohol, and under-developed frontal lobes in their brains will laugh at practically anything.  I know a teacher who crosses her eyes when talking to kids about their mistakes, and she has them rolling on the floor with giggle-fits.  This is now my fourth longest parenthetic expression, also known as an aside.  They would probably laugh about that.)  But is it fair to call that humor?

Mark Twain

I write stories filled with feel-good crap.  I’m as likely to make you cry as I am to make you laugh.  (At least, that is my intention…

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Write Until Your Hair Catches on Fire!

My computer is misbehaving again in a rather large way, so let me share with you this old post about what happened once before when my computer inserted itself into my novel-writing by misbehaving.

Catch a Falling Star

I was trying to write a post and my computer had to have a brain fart and blow it to pieces.  It began because the mouse pad froze and I had to try to do everything by key commands while trying to save what I wrote.  That’s gone, however.  In its place is a cryptic question in German that asks if you want to be a swan.  How did that happen?  More than one wrong key got pressed.  As I write this, two people have already liked the computer brain-fart post.  Let’s see how this will get fixed.

Fools  I intended to write a post on my attempt to finish my novel in November, the novel The Magical Miss Morgan.  I was inspired to do that because my niece, Stephanie Bisinger, is currently involved in the NaNoWriMo project to write 50,000 words in November and complete a rough draft…

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Withering Heat and Naked Truth

The Texas heat is putting stress on me in more ways than one. Economically, I can’t make ends meet if I don’t earn extra money each month. And it is too hot for me to survive driving in the heat with passengers and food deliveries for Uber. My household air conditioning is laboring hard to keep the house livable. It could give out from old age. And if the electricity goes out during peak electrical usage hours, that could bring about the end for me.

I have, in the past, found some relief by being a nudist inside the house and behind drawn window curtains. But it is illegal to go outside that way. And if I do get a job at either the school district as a substitute, or at Walmart, I will most likely have to put on clothes to go to work and earn money. Unless, of course, the whole society decides to go clothing-free due to the oppressive heat effects of climate change in Texas. It could happen.

But when I joke about naked truth, I am not merely punning around about physical nakedness. I am talking about exposing what’s underneath, revealing the truth that was previously cloaked under something artificial. That’s why the truth underlying my 1990’s monster-movie poster above reveals a hidden thing that is truth about me as an artist and a writer. I am not only the mad scientist (admittedly a much younger version of me) creating a robot girl in my evil castle laboratory, but I am figuratively also showing you how I write or draw a character, using an underlying mechanical structure to give a semblance of life to an un-living thing, namely, a fictional character.

Unfortunately, there are others in this world who have used their own technical expertise to create the heat-extinction scenario we now have to live in. And that is not merely a figurative exaggeration of a very real truth.

Fossil-fuel profiteers like the Koch Brothers and Exxon Corporation have known what the consequences of their unbridled exploitation of a natural resource were going to be since studies were done by their own researchers back in the 1970’s. They made the conscious decision to take maximum profits from their non-renewable resource knowing that their own grandchildren would have to face the fire-breathing dragon they created after their own lives of obscene wealth and comfort were already over. (I do hope those evil people’s grandchildren at least taste good when the poor and deceived people eat them.) So, we face a world of flooded lowlands, intense heat, fires like the one burning out of control in the Amazon today, crop failures, food shortages, and societal.collapse a few short years from right now. Thank you, Charles and David Koch.

The naked truth is, like my backyard sunflower, we are all soon going to be collapsing in the unrelenting heat. But I have lovingly watered the root every other day since I got back from Iowa. And it has yielded far more blossoms than any other single sunflower I have ever seen. It grows and thrives horizontally instead of growing upwards. Just like when a nudist wears ugly clothes to work. He can take the clothes off again at the end of the work day. When the day is ending, there is beauty underneath. And that is also a naked truth.

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Son of Fire

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August 21, 2019 · 2:38 pm

AeroQuest 1… Canto 1

Canto 1 – Escapade

When you look out the portal of a space craft, especially a large portal like the main view-port of the Leaping Shadowcat, you get a glimpse of the great orchestra of light and silence that has been playing its music in space since the dawn of time.  The diamond-bright stars glow with an electric melody in a great sea of black, littered with the silent notes of the Galactic Symphony written on the face of the universe, and being conducted by God himself.

Ged Aero stared at this silent music as he contemplated his brother’s plan.  Ham Aero had proposed the impossible.  How could it be the only solution?

“You can’t deny it any more, Ged.  The Galtorr Imperium is no place for a man like you.”

“…but the unknown, Hamfast?  How can you expect to get by beyond the edges of known space?”

“Others have done it in the past.  You know that civilization still has not absorbed even half the worlds that Martin Faulkner visited five hundred years ago.”

“Yes,” said Ged, pulling at the front brim of his dirty brown fedora as if to hide his eyes and the doubt that was in them, “but he was an explorer.  He knew how to live in space without any human contact for years on end.”

“What he can do, we can do.”  Ham pushed a fall of thick yellow hair out of his eyes.  It had been far too long since he had had a haircut, but only their mother had been allowed to do it, and she was now gone.  “We have to.  Prejudice against you has reached the point that it will be fatal.”

“Okay, I know that.  But I’m learning to control it.  I don’t have to change all the time.  I can stop it when I need to, and maybe even start it myself.  I don’t know why it happens, but I think I can make it work for me instead of against me.”

“Yes, well, mutations like yours are almost always fatal in the end.  You’ll slip at the wrong moment, and the Imperials will have your head on a platter.  What did they call your disease?”

“Lycanthropy.  Werewolf disease.”

“That’s my point exactly.  We both know it’s really something else, but the torches will come out to burn you the next time they see you change even a little bit.”

“Unknown space, Ham?  Does it have to be unknown space?”

“Yes, Ged.  Unknown space.  It’s my spaceship.  The decision is ultimately mine.”

It was a beautiful space ship.  It was a safari cruiser of the Xenomorph Class, a smooth airfoil shape with silver skin and a photon drive that could leap across parsecs of space in practically no time.  It could land on planets with atmosphere as easily as it could glide through the electric sparkle of space.  It had a good, sturdy ground ATV and accommodations for as many as twenty-five people.

“So how do you plan to navigate the unknown?”  Ged knew Ham was a capable starship captain, but they had no reliable navigator.  And the third member of their minimum crew of three, the engineer, was not even aboard.

“Goofy can do it.  He’s more gifted than you believe.”

“Don’t tell me your friend Trav Dalgoda is the engineer we’re waiting for!”

“Okay.  I won’t tell you.”

“Are you insane?  You’re going to jump out into unknown space with that Lunar Tick as our only means to fix the ship and set our course?”

“Yeah,” said Ham, grinning.  “It doesn’t sound too smart when you put it that way.  But he is an original thinker and a good problem-solver.”

“He’s also wanted on four planets and owes ten million Galtorrian credits to the biggest Vice Lord in the Thousand Planets.”

“Yeah.  It was easy to talk him into jumping out with us.”

“Oh, I’m so glad it was easy.”

The two brothers had started calling their boyhood friend, Travis R. Dalgoda, “Goofy” when, as an academy graduate, he started wearing an eye patch over his left eye even though he could see through it perfectly.  It didn’t hurt that he always wore that silly Donald Duck sailor’s hat that he got on his one and only leave on the Disney planet.  He also had a thing for ties with weird pictures or sayings on them.  Trav was one of a kind.

“I guess I understand your plan finally,” Ged said morosely to Ham.  “You’re going to bring an end to my suffering by committing suicide in deep unknown space.”

“Yeah,” said Ham staring out the view port at the silent music of the stars, “Something like that…”

At that moment, a blazing piece of space junk trailing sparking debris came fluttering toward them like a wounded sparrow.

“Oh, gawd!  Get to the co-pilot console, Ged!”

Whatever it was, it was maneuvering, using powered flight.  It was apparently seeking them out.

“Any bets that this burning space-ball is Goofy?” Ham asked as he strapped himself into the pilot chair.

As if in answer, Trav’s voice came over the ship-to-ship commo.  “Ham-boy!  You gotta help me.  I picked up a band of followers on my way out of system!”

“Yep.  That’s Goofy,” moaned Ged.

“I’m pickin’ up bad guys!” shouted Ham.  He flipped on the commo.  “Goof?  You got six of them on your tail?”

“Oh, is that all?  My sensors are out.  I figured it was more like fifty.  Pinwheel Corsairs, ain’t they?”

“Yes.  I make them to be Tron Blastarr and Maggie the Knife.  What’s your beef with them?”

“Oh, they’re friends of mine.  I helped them loot a cargo out of Mingo Downport.  They just didn’t like the ninety-ten split I left them with.”

“Typical,” muttered Ged.  “They got the ten, right?”

“Could I split it any less fair than that?” Trav answered. Ham launched the Leaping Shadowcat into an arching intercept course.  Ham had never done a high-speed docking maneuver before, that Ged knew of, but the young pilot was about to learn fast.

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What Next?

So, now that I have finished another novel that I have been working on for more than twenty years, I have decided to turn away from the hometown novels and take up some science fiction/humor again.

And I, of course, am not smart enough by any stretch of the imagination to avoid choosing my disastrous first novel from 2007, AeroQuest. This particular novel is spectacularly in need of a serious overhaul and re-write.

First of all, it has too large of a cast with new characters introduced in almost every Canto (what I inexplicably re-name chapters). Likewise they are interacting in too many different settings and planets and spaceships without enough individual explication of each. It screams out in agony to be divided into smaller chunks and both expanded and simplified.

The first book, Stars and Stones, will be centered on the planet Don’t Go Here. That, of course, is a bizarre world populated entirely by sentient beings who were marooned on the planet by pirates and space wolves. Even more bizarre, the populous has responded to a growing population with limited resources by adopting a caveman culture based on a lone cartoon holovid of The Flintstones.

The characters and the plot-lines will be pared down and simplified.

And, having done some work on AeroQuest 1 already, I also got a headstart on AeroQuest 2 by creating a cover for it.

My daughter, the Princess, created this space background for me.

So, you can clearly see that my daft plan is to re-write that simply awful book as a trilogy. A Sci-Fi trilogy? Wherever did I get a foolish idea like that?

Well, I always claimed that the original was half-inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune trilogy, and half-inspired by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. So, that should make for one seriously off-kilter mutant amalgamation of a book series.

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