Fantasy: A road trip buddy story, with Elves.



Aura Lockhaven Tactical

Over on DeviantArt, the Superheroine community recently hosted a Tactical Heroine Art Jam Challenge. Most superheroines wear skin-tight outfits designed to maximize movement in battle. But what if they wore body armor? I was tagged to participate, and the taggers wanted to see Aura Lockhaven.

That required some thought. Aura’s traditional red bikini serves a multitude of purposes. First, it’s sexy. Second, she is a nudist, but recognizes social customs. Third, it assists her power of seduction as an enchantress. Finally, it permits rapid movement. As a spellcaster, her best defense in a duel is to keep moving. That way, the opponent’s target keeps shifting. In a battle, her duties include serving as medium-range incendiary artillery, healer of the wounded, and counsel to generals. She darts from place to place.

Given Aura’s needs, the light-weight armor of the archer seemed best, instead of the heavy plate of sword or cavalry.

So, I present to you, Aura Lockhaven, Battle Mage.

Tactical Aura

The End of an Era

Hugh Hefner passed away today. He was 91.

Playboy was an institution, and so was Mr. Hefner. But it began dying when they took the staples out. It suffered catastrophic damage when Christie Hefner stepped down as CEO. Now, it’s just another lads mag, nothing like its robust creator had in mind when he was at the helm.

With Mr. Hefner dies the last embers of the Sexual Revolution. Unfortunately, the Prudes won.

The Mood of America

It is yet again, a day of An Eye for An Eye, and America is nearly blind.

In the past few days, the phenomenon that reared its hideous head last year during the election has grown enormous. Friends are now bitter enemies. Likeminded folk now spew the most vile words at each other. Those who are supposed to offer us hope only pour gasoline on the fire.

The United States of America, once the bastion of freedom and opportunity, is a nation mired in mutual hatred and wrath, ripping itself apart with the zeal of the self-righteous.

This cannot be laid at the feet of Donald Trump, as much as you Liberals may wish to do so. It cannot be laid at the feet of Barack Obama, as much as you Conservatives may wish to do so. It can only be laid at the feet of the one who started it all: YOU! ME!

This pattern of fury began decades ago. We did nothing to stop it. No, we fed it. The gloves and masks came off following 9/11. Again, we did nothing to stop it. Again, we fed it. I fear we are now passed the point of no return, when families willingly tear themselves asunder over politics and religion and who has sex with whom. We do nothing to stop that. No, we feed it yet again, by posting memes calling the other side violent and bloodthirsty and traitorous and ungodly and nazi and communist. Let the politicians and preachers wear those labels with pride. What are those vipers to us who do the real living, breathing, working, praying, playing, and dying in America? Yet, we fire those words at each other as so many broadsides from battleships, and do so with great glee.

We hate, in the name of love.

The next step is open war in the street. It is not long coming.

We are a nation committing suicide by strangling itself with its own hands.

Love is the only answer. Kindness is the only solution. Listening to others with an unjaundiced ear our only opportunity. Showing compassion to those who show us none is our only hope.

Is it too late to seek those answers and solutions?

Hard Drive Crash!

Yep. It happens to the best of us. This one is five years old, and that’s about their expected life span. Two crashes and a total blank out (the computer didn’t even recognize that it had a C drive) tell me that this disk is just about ready for the grave.

Fortunately, my father was a TV engineer, and I watched him. Replacing a hard drive is a cakewalk. Also, I was a gamer, and know the gamer’s motto — “Jesus saves, and so should you.” I back up everything!

I picked up a new one last night for $ 79. It’s also a full terabyte. The old one was only 750 G. So, I’m gaining ground. In the process, I remembered that I had a pair of usused RAM chips. Several years ago, I bought a pair to upgrade to 32 G, but the third and fourth slots aren’t active. So, I swapped them in for the have-to-be-worn-out originals. Next month, I’ll pick up an OEM CPU chip, then I’ll have a refurbished computer, all for under $ 200.

Now comes the hard part. Just because I backed it up, doesn’t mean it’s ready to copy over. I have to reinstall all those DAZ modules — shoes, clothes, people, sets, swords — One. At. A. Time.

I’ll be here for a few days.

Internet Meanness Is Cowardice

I read something upsetting today, and it’s all about internet meanness.

Taylor Davis is a phenomenal violinist of considerable talent. Certainly, she plays mostly movie themes, but she puts her soul into them, and reworks them to make them her own. She hosts a YouTube channel where she shares her songs with the world, for free. That’s also good marketing for her CDs and tours. She shares joy and light with all of us. Go take a listen, especially to her versions of “Skyfall” and “A Game of Thrones.”

Today, Ms. Davis went on Instagram Live to show her fans her studio, work process, and answer questions. Well, she was bombarded with mean. As she wrote later on Facebook, she was “really surprised at the number of people who were saying really disgusting, perverted and hateful things to me while I was trying to show my newest project to everyone. It honestly made me feel terrible.”

There is no excuse for that. None.

That is just mean.

If you don’t much care for Ms. Taylor’s style, or that she plays mostly themes from movies, TV shows, and video games, that’s fine. If you’d rather listen to Lindsey Stirling or Jenny O’Connor, that’s great. Your entitled. Not every artist appeals to everyone. Personal taste is acceptable. But the solution is to walk away and not listen. That’s what civilized people do. It’s what adults do. There is no call for insulting Ms. Taylor, or anyone else. Internet bullying is not acceptable, under any circumstances.

No one deserves that. Not the teen posting selfies. Not the mother showing her newborn. Not the grandfather bragging about the bass his grandson caught on a Snoopy rod and reel. Not a violinist trying to make the world a little bit better. No one. As Ms. Davis herself wrote, “They may not know me personally, but I’m still a normal human being who has real feelings and emotions and can be affected by things like that, and it’s still just as mean to say something like that online as it is to say to someone’s face.”

If you would say these horrible things to someone’s face, then you’re a bully. If you wouldn’t say them to someone’s face, then you’re a coward.

It’s epidemic.

Are you going to tell me that the same people who are still talking about the 2016 World Series and the 2017 Superbowl are cowards? The same people who spend millions of dollars of superhero movies and Star Wars are cowards? We like watching heroics, so why don’t we show it ourselves.

We the People of the United States are better than that. In our infancy, we tackled the greatest empire the world has ever known. We stood up to Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan, at the same time mind you. We defeated smallpox and polio. We put twelve men on the Moon. And now, we’re cowards? We’re as mean as those enemies we fought? Yeah, well, apparently so.

We are mean cowards, hiding behind our monitors like vipers behind rocks waiting for mice. This has to stop. Otherwise, it will only grow worse. It’s already begun to creep out from behind the monitor into the streets, where we shoot people just for what they wear.

Turn on the evening news and prepare to be deluged with vomit inducing scenes of meanness. That is our fault. We are all guilty to some degree. You and I. We can stop it today.

Spread a little kindness. Be courageous. Make that clerk at Wal-Mart laugh. Smile at a stranger. Be polite to that person in the Facebook thread, even if you totally disagree with his argument. We can’t stop all the meanness, or defeat all the cowards, but if we remove ourselves from the epidemic, it diminishes just a little bit. Then, the internet will be a bit brighter.


Carrie Fisher

1977 was dismal, especially in the cinema. For ten years, movies were existentialist and fatalist rubbish, with protagonists who were no better than the antagonists. What were the choices? Bonnie and Clyde. The real Bonnie and Clyde were psychopaths. The Graduate. Boring pessimistic garbage. The Godfather. An excellent movie, but everyone except Kay was a murderer. The Sting. Everyone was a criminal. Silent Running and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both made me want to soak my head in used motor oil. I could go on. If there was a good guy, he was a loser, and usually ended up dying miserably.

Star Wars changed that. I will always know it as Star Wars, because I saw it before it was subtitled Episode IV. It was the first movie I saw that wasn’t Walt Disney or twenty years old where the good guys actually stood for something. They also won. A New Hope? Yeah, it was. That 14 year old sitting in the Woodland Cinema in DeLand in the summer of 1977 realized that there were things worth fighting for, and that we could win.

One of the Great Trio was Princess Leia. She was stubborn, tough, and haughty. She also kicked ass and didn’t bother taking names. She sassed Darth Vader and lived to tell about it. She insulted Tarkin. Leia withstood more trauma than Luke and Han combined. Not even Luke had to live with the destruction of his entire planet. She didn’t become an alcoholic in the aftermath, either.

No one could have played Leia with more aplomb and conviction than Carrie Fisher.

I am beyond devastated. I can honestly say that Star Wars changed my life, transforming me into an optimist. Carrie Fisher was a part of that, and her death is beyond words. The Death Star has fired one final salvo. The end scene in Rogue One is now more poignant than ever.

You are one with the Force now, my beloved Princess. And our world is a little less full in the aftermath.