Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A loving tribute

This evening Janie Turnbull asked me to bring a book to my friend Katie. Of course, just having the book in my hands was temptation enough to open the cover and take a look around. Inside the cover is a wonderful inscription from Janie to Katie, so with each turn of the page thereafter, it felt more and more like I was "stealing" a glance at the pages rather than simply reading. What I found on those pages was truly remarkable. I hope that you will find this book, "A Place Called Home", as rewarding as I did.

"A Place Called Home" is a collection of photographs by William J. "Bill" Turnbull. Janie Turnbull filled the remaining spaces in the 64 page book with a description of their life in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Janie's deft touch amplifies the beauty of Bill's photographs of wildlife, landscapes and shipping in this part of southern Louisiana the way it was when the photographs were taken between the hurricane storms named Audrey in 1957 and Rita in 2005.

My favorite image is "alligator along a Creole nature trail" on page 12. It's an impressionist rendering of a steel blue alligator gliding through the forest green swamp water. The alligator is tipped in silver and dollops of blue borrowed from shelves of Claude Monet's studio in Giverny. Mottled twists of thick sap greens make the alligators focused eyes even more menacing.

"Evening at Rutherford Beach" is a study in glorious blue. It occupies the whole of page 25, and is counterpoised with a study in orange named "Pogey boat at sunset Rutherford Beach".

It's a great book and loving tribute to Bill's photography.

Published by:
Turnbull Ink Press
Box 720447
Norman, Oklahoma 73070

ISBN-10: 0-9799057-0-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-9799057-0-4

Monday, January 28, 2008

A kinetic grab bag

"Realms Of War" is a kinetic grab bag of twelve war stories edited by Philip Athans. It is a cross of dark fantasy and old fashioned sword and sorcery fiction wrapped in the world of the Twilight War trilogy. If you haven't read these Forgotten Realms books before, you'll find that this collection both stands by itself as good reading and is compelling enough to make you want to dive into the Twilight War books by Paul S. Kemp.

Each of the stories in Realms of War is a quick thirty pages long and packed with bigger-than-life heroes, (mostly) pretty girls, exotic places, strange and mysterious villains. These are action stories loaded with magic and they don't disappoint. With settings across "all the lands 'twixt bustling Waterdeep and the sparkling waves of The Sea of Fallen Stars" you get to sample bit-sized pieces of the very best this world has to offer.

The very first story, Continuum by Paul S. Kemp, is magnificent. It's character's are very well developed and are expertly woven into their world. The blend of intrigue, magic and action is only topped by an ending that zings with a really appealing twist.

The other stories in the anthology are also very good, but a couple of them stand out. Changing Tides by Mel Odom has an undersea salvage operation, a titanic sea battle, fiercesome creatures seeking flesh (or simply meat as they call it) and a strange alliance of humans and magical creatures. Chase the Dark by Jaleigh Johnson takes the concept of battle, cause, effect and consequence to an entirely new level. Very well done!

"Realms Of War" is a fast, fun read and doesn't require having read the first two books in the Twilight War trilogy - Shadowbred and Shadowstorm - to slip into the action and enjoy the ride. After reading "Realms Of War", you'll probably find that you'll want to check out Shadowbred and Shadowstorm sometime before Shadowrealm is released later this year.

The stories in the anthology are:

Continuum, Paul S. Kemp
Weasel's Run, Lisa Smedman
The Last Paladin of Ilmater, Susan J. Morris
Black Arrow, Bruce R. Cordell
Too Many Princes, Ed Greenwood
The Siege of Zerith Hold, Jess Lebow
Mercy's Reward, Mark Sehestedt
Redemption, Elaine Cunningham
Changing Tides, Mel Odom
Chase the Dark, Jaleigh Johnson
Bones and Stones, R.A. Salvatore
Second Chance, Richard Lee Byers

Friday, January 25, 2008

Red State Blues

Signs. They're everywhere when you notice them. Like William Shatner in that Twilight Zone episode, sometimes you find they are staring back at you when you look through the window. Other times they are a little further out on the wing, so to speak.

Signs. Sometimes they are as noticeable as the cows in the field behind my neighbor's house. Sometimes it's the Coyote standing at the end of my driveway when I wheel the dumpster out on Monday morning. I tip my hat and say "Breakfast is served." Sometimes its the op-ed piece in the newspaper that tells me that I live in a really, really RED state. But the obvious ones aren't the signs that bother me. Nope, it takes a little more than that to get me.

Signs. Sometimes they show up where you least expect them. We had a Steering Group meeting for the part of the business I work for here that just wrapped up. People come from all over the country (and a few other places too) to get a dose of this quadrennial pestilence. Tradition has it that on one evening of the three day shindig, we hold a dinner event downtown. Excellent food is served. Adult beverages are consumed. Good times are had by all. Life is good ... until I visit the men's room.

There are three urinals uncomfortably side-by-side. No one else in the place, so I take my half out of the middle. Two guys walk in and pull up on either side of me. They've been drinking - a lot. They not only break the unspoken rule and speak - across me - they continue their conversation - painfully oblivious to my presence.

Rulebreaker #1
Oh man, your wife is really drunk.

Rulebreaker #2
That damn vodka.
(a resigned beat)
You know the last time she did this,
(in a gently metered redneck ADAGIO)
she came home pregnant.

I washed my hands and left the city.