Robin Hood and his Merry Men: the Sheriff of Nottingham

ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRY MEN: Sheriff of Nottingham

What is any good story without a villain to drive the plot? The Robin Hood mythology provides the template for all great villain roles. In the movies, the truly great actors, Basil Rathbone and Alan Rickman come to mind, vie for the role of the Sheriff. There’s meat in that role. Robin merely needs to look pretty and athletic.

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Artist in Residence Quarantine Diaries Episode 16: 2020 hates me.

…or Mercury is in retrograde again and this time so is Mars or something and oy vey. This year.

Let me put it this way. We lose power REGULARLY out here – we live in TREES and trees FALL OVER and they take out power lines depressingly often.

So October 13 we had a “wind event” – well, SOMEWHERE, anyway, because the trees around our particular house didn’t go that wild, but apparently up the road a ways they did quite the dance. I saw the photos, afterwards. They were unbelievable, and a full twenty four hours later that particular road was still closed to through traffic because they were cleaning up debris from the fairly narrow road and there was no way anything short of a sherman tank would have got through that mess.

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BVC Announces Chicory Up by Irene Radford

Chicory Up by Irene RadfordChicory Up
Pixie Chronicles 2
by Irene Radford

Being a Pixie King isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Chicory has always been a carefree ditch-weed of a Pixie. But now there’s a war brewing between Pixie tribes, and Chicory has to take responsibility for himself and for a growing group of displaced Pixies. Finding shelter for them means he has to play nice with humans and not play tricks on them. Well, some tricks are necessary so big people don’t take themselves too seriously.

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Wasting Time on YouTube

(Picture from here.)

Okay. It’s the pandemic. It’s been a godawful long time. I just saw one of my best friends, in person, for the first time in seven months. If you can call it that. We were both masked. We stood six feet apart and made grotesque long distance hugging motions at one another.

Who am I kidding? It was the best moment I’d had for months with someone who wasn’t living inside my house. Of course, it was the only good moment I’d had for months with someone who wasn’t living inside my house.

That said, there are some really good diversions on youtube.

(Yes. I’ve been watching a lot of it. For one thing, the news sections pops up effectively in headlines so I can be depressed without the horrid experience of actually watching the news. Small mercies.)

So: these have been good at getting me through the night. Continue reading


Gaia Strikes Back

Deities like to send plagues to, well, plague us. God, the one with the capital “G”, has done a lot of things, but one act is clear, it’s this popular deity who sent 10 plagues to Egypt as payback for Ramses II’s mistreatment of his Israelite slaves. He threw everything at the Egyptian kingdom, sort of a scatter-shot assault meant to convince Ramses that he’d better set his slaves free.

Well, it might not have been Ramses who got on God’s bad side; scholars disagree about the time period and the identity of the responsible ruler. However, Egyptians suffered along with the Israelites.

To get Ramses attention, God had to send 10 plagues one after the other: water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the killing of firstborn children.

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The Rambling Writer Visits Thailand, part 11: We arrive at Our Jungle House

Your virtual Thailand vacation continues as Thor and I catch the ferry from Koh Samui to the mainland and Khao Sok National Park.

NOTE: “And now for something completely different.” Thor and I made our first trip to Asia — the beautiful country of Thailand.  We were lucky to squeak through the pandemic flight closures in January/February of 2020 as we returned from our three-week trip. Since more travel has now become a distant prospect, we hope you’ll take a virtual vacation with us in the following weeks. (This blog series started on June 13.)

After a torrential tropical downpour that we enjoyed watching from the covered deck of our condo on our last night on Koh Samui, we headed for the ferry to the mainland peninsula on the upper Andaman Sea. On the way, we stopped for one more island attraction, the Hin Ta and Hin Yai rock formations that attract a lot of pilgrims. Also called “Grandfather” and “Grandmother,” they celebrate organs of fertility. Continue reading


New Worlds: Gift-Giving

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Odds are extremely high that every single person reading this has given or received a gift at some point in their life. It can be a lot of fun, on both sides of the equation . . . and it can also be a source of major anxiety or stress.

The way we use the word “gift” in English tends to give the idea a connotation of being something optional — an add-on that, if left off, wouldn’t really change much. This is profoundly misleading. Quite apart from the obligations that surround gift-giving, the idea itself is central enough to human culture that one of the foundational works of modern anthropology is The Gift by Marcel Mauss, an essay analyzing the concepts of reciprocity and exchange. Gifts are a major part of how we bond.

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The King of Bad Boys

As we have already seen, the nineteenth century had some pretty memorable bad boys. Appropriately enough, the king of them all was, in fact, a king—Albert Edward (called Bertie by his family), who reigned in the United Kingdom from 1901 to 1911 as Edward VII. I mean, when a recent biography of his earlier years is titled Edward the Caresser (subtitled “The Playboy Prince Who Became Edward VII”, by Stanley Weintraub, The Free Press, 2001) you KNOW he must have been one very Bad Boy indeed.

It seems at first glance ironic that the uber-bad boy of the century should have been the eldest son of Queen Victoria, who remains a symbol of prudishness to this day. But don’t forget that in her first two years as queen Victoria was quite the party animal, dancing at balls till sunrise every chance she could. It wasn’t until she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who hated staying up much later than 9:30 pm, that she changed her ways.

Bad Boy Bertie was born November 9, 1841, eleven months after his sister Vicky and not even two years after his parents married. Continue reading


On Becoming a Professional Amateur: When to Hide the Thesaurus

I recently came across a version of the Eye of Argon online and realized it  made a great inside Science Fiction joke for a scene I was writing in a rom-com. I also realized that it related to the subject of this post: the (ab)use of the thesaurus.

For anyone who is not inside Science Fiction, the Eye of Argon is a manuscript penned by a young fellow of 16, I am told, that is perpetually read at SF conventions as a sort of after-hours game. The rules are simple. You are passed the manuscript and you read as far as you can without laughing so hard you cannot continue. The one who holds out the longest wins.

I participated in one of these when I was seven months pregnant with my second child. Important safety tip: Do not attempt an Eye of Argon reading when you are seven months pregnant.

Here are a couple of samples from the Eye of Argon: The enthused barbarian swilveled (sic) about, his shock of fiery red hair tossing robustly in the humid air currents as he faced the attack of the defeated soldier’s fellow in arms.

Further along we find:

Grignr’s emerald green orbs glared lustfully at the wallowing soldier struggling before his chestnut swirled mount. His scowling voice reverberated over the dying form in a tone of mocking mirth.

I think most readers will see the tell tale symptoms of one of the most dogged diseases in the world of writing.

I speak, dear Reader, of Thesauritis.  Continue reading


BVC Announces Stories from the Left Hand World by Jill Zeller

Stories from the Left Hand World by Jill Zeller
Stories from the Left Hand World
by Jill Zeller

A World War II army nurse experiences the invasion of Bataan in a wondrous way. The sea is rising and a young girl finds magic in a quilt. A woman struggling with depression and her aging mother finds healing via tiny dragons. Read these and Part 1 of the series The Left Hand World. Nothing is as you imagine it to be.

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