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Archive for January, 2019

R.I.P. Stan Lee

After listening to a piece on NPR about the passing of Stan Lee, the man who helped create who knows how many Marvel Comics characters, I had to wonder how exactly he influenced me. He and others like him in the comic book world.

I’d always thought my main writing influences came from science fiction writers like Andre Norton, Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury and them. Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan was a big one. But, as I dig deeper, comics have as well.

I was lucky growing up, unlike a number of my friends, my parents didn’t believe comics to be ‘evil’. My Dad gladly gave me comics. He didn’t read them himself, but I was the recipient of boxes of comics from his fellow workers when they moved to another post. Very occasionally, I’d get a brand new one with stiff pages and the smell of ink still wafting from it.

In those boxes, were DC and Marvel comics. These were different from my regular diet of Little Audrey, Baby Huey, and Archie. I had my favorites like the Fantastic Four and Captain America. Superman was rampant in the donations. Regular superman, Superboy, and the green monsterish one. I read them all, Thor and Aquaman and Dr. Strange, whom I never quite got.

All those stories seeped into my head along with the fairy tales my parents read to me. I do like writing about superheroes and prefer superheroes with faults. While I like Superman he is, well, Superman. He’s invincible even with the kryptonite weakness. So, I guess I’m more of a Marvel reader. Which leads me right back to Stan Lee.

Thanks for the stories.

I’ll miss your cameos.

Thanks for the legacies and all the people you’ve inspired to carry on.

Thanks for the positively, the hope that everything will come out okay in the end.

Excelsior!

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Scythe

You can live as long as you want. You can reset your body if you wish to be young again. You will not die a natural death. You can die. And you can come back. Unless a scythe comes to glean you.

Thunderhead

Some of the scythes enjoy the killing a little too much. Is it murder or gleaning? Thunderhead, the AI overseeing the world sees, but there is little it can do. It cannot meddle with the scythes.

 

Two books of the trilogy are out, the third one is due 2019. I cannot wait.

Scythe is a Michael Prince Honor book and I usually don’t write about those because there’s already heaps of praise on them. I like to pick out more obscure books, but this one was on the South Carolina Book Award Nominee List and I read it, and I was like, wow.

The first book, Scythe, introduces us to two apprentices, Citra and Rowan. They didn’t set out to be scythes, don’t think they are cut out for it, but that makes them good candidates. They are chosen by the same Scythe and only one will become a scythe and the other set free to go on with their life, but that’s not what happens.

I won’t say much about Thunderhead because I don’t want to give anything away, but there are a number of OMG moments that left me gobsmacked.

This is chilling take of what many may see as paradise. No disease. No death. Easy work. But what happens then?

One can use either book in school, or both, to teach about ethics.

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Dear Hamish,

Thank you for the pictures. It is always nice to see the pasture and all the familiar faces. I am sorry to hear about the extra sour pickle you bit into. The twins, who are no doubt responsible since no one else ate a sour pickle, were coated in brine sauce. Me Grandmums, both, had to take them home and wash and wring them out. One can only hope they learned a lesson.

Your pickle story reminded me of a pleasant memory. It actually started with me calling Pawnee a picklehead. The silly ewe thought it was a complement even though she doesna eat pickles. She thinks I adore pickles. I was thinking of the hot stuff pickles floating in brine in their own individual pickle bags at the grocers. As if I would ever eat that.

It brought back memories of Pickle Day in the pasture. Remember, how we waited, and then danced about when eight to twelve sheep carried the pickle to the pasture. We lambs would crowd around, watching, waiting with excitement, our eyes trained on the pickle glistening with drops of water after having the brine washed away.

‘Twas almost as good as Cucumber Day.

Then your da and his mates would come to saw slices off the pickle. As if it were the logs they sawed, aye. When each disc fell from the main piece, it’d be distributed, first to the grandmums and granddas and then to the wee lambs.

Pickle Day.

Gets me right in the mood for a pickle.

Must go and find one now,

Yours, from the Colonies

Angus. McSheep.

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Lost Landmarks

There’s a spot in West Columbia I always wanted to stop at and take pictures. They used to make bricks there and the brick kilns stood as monuments of the work.

I drove there a little while ago and they were gone, the ground dug up, paved with bright new sand and flattened and bulldozers standing ready to continue their work.

For a moment I thought, maybe I have the wrong road, but I didn’t think so. I looked it up when I got home and saw I was right. Someone bought the land and bulldozed them over.

Did they move them? I googled the brickworks, but there was no mention of their demise or relocation, only that more high end apartments were going up.

Progress. Good for some. Sad for me.

I’ll double check again when I go by, but I’m sure they’re not there because I made a point of looking and thinking that I should have brought my camera with me so I could stop and take pictures.

It kind of reminds me of my Great-Aunt’s house. She lived in a small house with a tin roof in Germany, it wasn’t much to look at, but it was one of the few of its kind left. Since she was old, and with no children, the bank or town offered her a place in a senior’s home in exchange of the house and they’d safeguard it. Not to long after, gone it was. Torn down.

Progress.

P.S.

Did go back by and, hooray, they are still there, the kilns. The rest of the area has been bulldozed down.  I did see that developers have torn down one of the few remaining buildings in the historic African American business section along Washington St. While, yes, it wasn’t much to look at, it was part of history and a unique bit of commercial architecture.

 

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Rose lives in an orphanage, St. Bridget’s, where she learns to tend house. She expects to stay there awhile, but is chosen to be a maid for Mr. Fountain who lives in a great mansion with his younger daughter. In a short space of time she’s gone from nobody to a servant in an alchemist’s house. But strange things are happening. The stairs move, the cat talks. And there’s danger in the air.

I admit, I picked this book because it had a plucky girl in a dark orphanage. The rest of the story, the magic, and a talking cat came as an added bonus.

There are more books in the Rose series. Alas the library didn’t have them all, so I’ll have to see how I can get them so I can read the whole series.

Freddie, who’s all snotty and superior because he’s Mr. Fountain’s apprentice is a great character. So is Isabella, the spoiled rotten seven-year-old. And Gus, the pampered cat, who has a glamour so people will like him and better yet, feed him.

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