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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Greetings, Bearers!

And so the fun begins!  The NFL Draft is underway, and our teams are loading up!  So far, my family seems to be pleased with our picks.  My Packers chose Nick Perry, which was a good selection.  The kid looks like he can handle the defensive end slot pretty well.  My son the Bears fan was happy with the pick of Shea McClellin, but he’d like to see Lovie and the boys get a good tight end for the team.  Yes, I am a Packers fan, and my son is a Bears fan.  Those of you who know NFL stuff are probably wondering how we get along.

You think that’s bad?  Try this-my wife is a Lions fan!  To be fair, she’s not exclusively a Lions fan: she’s got soft spots for pretty much every team outside of a couple I won’t list to reveal her football prejudices here (You should have heard her and I feeling sorry for the Indianapolis Colt radio broadcasting duo last year.  They were the unofficial spokesmen for Prozac, I think).  She liked their acquisition of Riley Reiff.  Speaking for myself, I would have thought that Schwarz would have been chomping at the bit for some better secondary personnel a little sooner.  But hey, I’m not the coach…. and I want Green Bay to win the division! 😀

That all being said, we don’t take pro football as seriously as college, so we’re pretty good sports about winning and losing to each other at the NFL level.  And we’re all Wolverines  here, so there’s never a problem with that.  Of course, if either of my children turn out fans of those schools in East Lansing or in Columbus, I might have to write them out of the will (I’m kidding… maybe).  For the record, my daughter isn’t that big into football or sports in general (although she knows a bit about it, and gives the nod to Seattle whenever she does get the urge to cheer… who knows, maybe Matt Flynn will make them better).

But all talk aside, it’s only a game.  We love it, experience it when we can, and miss it in the off season, but it is just a game.  We take it for what it is and remember that there is plenty more on this earth that God intends for us to pay attention to besides football.

But for now… we’re gonna enjoy it! 😉

Anyway.. dinner… I choose pizza.  So there.

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

Well, for the moment I can come out of the sports closet and proudly announce my love for the Chicago Cubs, as they lead Cincy while I write this, hoping that they’ll win this game  (Don’t worry… there’s still time for them to muck it up 😦  ).  I grew up a Detroit Tigers fan, and still have a love for them as well, although right now they’re down by seven against the Rangers.  People have asked me what I’ll do should the Cubs and the Tigers meet up in the World Series.  I’ll have to let you know when that happens 😀  .

(And who knows, it may happen before I reach 80…)

One of the things I do as a writer is listen to, and give advice to, other writers.  We bounce a lot off each other on message boards, and especially with regard to the specifics of our craft.  I thought I’d share a few of those with you in this post.  Even if you’re not looking to pursue writing as a full-time endeavor, you may find some of these helpful in any situation where you have to sit down and plink out your thoughts on a keyboard or write them on paper:

1.) The better a vocabulary you have, the better you can write.  Improve your vocabulary with a thesaurus.  If you see a word you don’t know, look it up on a dictionary (the widespread availability of portable tablets makes this easier than ever to do).  

2.) When you walk through a mundane activity, try to think of a creative way to describe it.  Suppose you’re the one in charge of taking the trash out to the curb every week.  How could you write about it and set it up in a way that makes it sound bigger and more enticing than just “I took the trash out”? Think about the sounds, the sensations, the color of the sky when you walk out the door with those garbage bags in your hand: what do they look like?  How can you tint your script with an innovative or poetic shade?  Doing so will draw in your reader, give him/her something to think about and enjoy, rather than saying in an apathetic tone “Oh, nice story.”

3.) Read good writers, especially the classics.  From Shakespeare to Melville to Milton to Ray Bradbury to Stephen King, fill your mind with the words, the descriptions, the structors of these and other embraced writers.  Even if they don’t fit your style or genre, give them a look. Remember: there’s a reason why some books and authors have the enduring legacy that they have.  They know something about putting together words and phrases.

Well, that’s it for now.  Only two and a half innings left, and we might break this six game losing streak!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

What started out for me as a tight and hectic week has ended with a great personal burden being lifted off my shoulders and time spent with the family today at Michigan’s Spring Football Scrimmage, which was a blast.  Check out the link and enjoy!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers (and first time visitors),

So I guess the news has come out that Bobby Petrino is no longer with the Razorbacks.  Instead, he’s been sent packing, having been told to pick up his last paycheck before finding something else to do with his life.  Apparently, to add to the fact that he had his alleged mistress along for the motorcycle ride, he wasn’t completely forthcoming to his superiors after the event, which also gave Jeff Long cause to dismiss him.

I’m not a Razorback fan.  I appreciate the fact that under Petrino former Michigan QB Ryan Mallet was developed into a great offensive weapon, but beyond that I don’t have a lot of say one way or the other regarding this particular SEC team, so please understand that my motivation for expressing thoughts here isn’t from a pro or anti Arkansas position. 

It is, however, coming from a pro-character position.

Some are criticizing the fact that Petrino’s contract has a clause that, if I understand it correctly,  essentially permits the University to fire him for inappropriate character matters, even if those matters would be deemed private.  This, they say, is wrong because a man’s private life should not affect his public one (Those old enough to remember the Clinton/Lewinsky ordeal have heard this before). They believe that public and private activities should be divorced for the most part, and that one should not be used in judgment of the other.

My response to this: if Petrino hadn’t been fooling around, none of this would be an issue.

Just like with Joe Paterno and Jim Tressell, the issue of character has come to haunt coach Petrino, and whether or not one agrees that the consequences for these coaches were too strict (or not strict enough, as a few have voiced), the simple fact remains that if Petrino had not strayed from fidelity, the story would have been about the motorcycle accident (supposing it would have happened at all) and not the 25-year old Ms. Dorrell riding with him. 

It also brings to light our inborn suppression of our own guilt.  If we’re honest, when we do something wrong, we’re more apt to get defensive about it and find ways to justify it or tell the offended party to just “get over it,” rather than admit that we’ve sinned and that we deserve the consequences.  It’s pretty sad when people don’t feel much of a sense of shame about doing wrong, but instead spend more effort and time criticizing others for addressing it.  We either don’t admit we’re wrong, or we soften the blow with excuses (“Well, maybe, but YOU shouldn’t have…” and the like). 

Again, just some thoughts about the situation.  Feel free to send a comment my way!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

As promised, another installment from the Vein Omnibus has arrived!  This one tells the details of the scythe, the weapon of the Sect members.  Enjoy!

J. Dean

Scythe-The Scythe is the primary weapon of the Sect members, and is incorporated into both religious and combat-related activities. The scythe’s overall design consists of a handle attached to a two-edged blade that extends upward and forms a C-shape and generally carries a dull, grey hue, although the range in color and sheen ranges from a highly polished silver to an obsidian-like black.  Lengths and weights of each scythe also vary, as the weapons are customized for each Sect member by metalsmiths trained for and dedicated to the sole purpose of scythe-forging.

Scythe blades are composed of an alloy containing seventy eight percent qeridium, a common metal ore found in all of the Seven Worlds as well as the Meridian.  Beyond this, the details of scythe-forging are known by none other than the Sect’s metalsmiths, and the tight-knit group of weapon makers refuse to divulge the details of the process, as this prevents Orders and other rivals from learning how to fashion their own versions.

As a weapon, the scythe can be wielded in primarily two ways.  The first is in hand-weapon combat, as the scythe’s effective and durable double edged blade can cleave through the flesh and bone of any being with ease, and can also cut through some of the various types of wood used in the fashioning of Order weapons.   When combined with the hours of intense combat training undertaken by Sect members, this makes the scythe a formidable weapon, as Sect members are trained to not only cut with the scythe but also block and disarm opponents.

The second use of the scythe comes in the ability of the scythe wielder to deploy surges of energy by use of a small thumb stud located on the scythe’s handle.  Depressing the stud causes a buildup of energy stored in the handle’s hidden power cell, which manifests itself in the form of a swirling, turbulent mass of bluish-white light contained within the inside area of the scythe’s C-shaped blade.  When the wielder strikes the outer edge of the scythe’s curved blade against a solid surface such as a wall, a floor, or natural earth, the surge is released and rolls across the surface in a straight line, releasing occasional bolts of straying energy in random directions.  When a surge has rolled between six to fifteen paces away, it explodes into a haphazard cascade of energy bolts, rendering any being within reach of the bolts unconscious.

An adjustable dial occupies the bottom end of the handle, permitting the wielder to raise or lower the strength and range of the surges.  Low dial settings permit surges to be generated faster, but with a more limited range and less effectual results against enemies (At the lowest setting, a surge energy bolt will do little more than afflict a being with a nasty shock) Turning the dial higher yields stronger surges capable of inflicting more damage and rolling further away before generating larger and stronger explosions, but the drawbacks to such high settings include a longer period of time required for the surge to reach full power as well as the danger of overloading the scythe if the surge is not soon deployed, which carries the risk of knocking out (or even killing) the wielder.   This same risk applies to one who is struck with a charged scythe blade, and even a scythe charged at half power delivered in the form of a blow can have deadly results for both the opponent and the wielder.

In addition to these two primary uses in combat, scythes have been utilized in other combat-related ways.  The boat used by the Sect of Sarphyx contains a slot in its side, intended for a scythe blade to be inserted.  This essentially turns the boat’s underside into a conductor for the scythe’s surge, which repels attacking water-based creatures.  Scythes on occasion have also been thrown in order to impale enemies or creatures, often with success, but this is generally viewed as a last resort tactic and is discouraged by most Sect members.

If the blades of two scythes possessing unreleased charges come in contact with each other, the result is a Nullwave, a “thread” of energy bonded to both blades.  Any being coming into contact with a Nullwave is killed, as the Nullwave draws power from both scythe cells and in effect begins an overload process.  While Nullwaves have been used effectively in fights, they are considered very dangerous, so much so that most Sect elders entirely forbid their usage, as Nullwaves eventually cause overloaded power cells to explode, which in turn cause serious injury and even death, even when the scythes are dialed to low power settings.  In the early days of the Sect, Nullwaves were used by members to settle serious disputes, essentially through a game of chicken, in which a Nullwave was created and the first one to break the Nullwave (via striking the scythe against the earth in a manner similar to releasing a surge) was considered the loser.  These contests, however, were short-lived, as the early Sect leaders forbid any such use of the Nullwave among the brethren.

The scythes also function for the Sect members in a religious capacity.  For meditation and communion times, two or three Scythes are leaned against each other and dialed to a low energy setting.  When the Sect members begin their chants, the energy cells form a sort of “window” in midair, which permits the Sect members to see and commune with Balys-Crahly during their meditation, albeit in an occluded and imperfect manner.  The exact workings of the scythes in relation to this are unknown, and opinions even among the older and wiser Sect members vary as to why and how the scythes, without any external manipulation by the wielders, automatically respond with the window.  While it is recommended that three scythes be used for meditation and communion time, it is possible for Sect members to perform their religious ritual with only two scythes, and even one scythe used by a solitary Sect member can be utilized, although the windows and open communication are far weaker for any number fewer than three.  Conversely, the use of more than three is discouraged, as the interactions between four or more power cells actually serves to “overpower” the window, thus distorting communion and even shorting out the cells if anything more than the most minimum of power settings is used.

Each Sect member carries a customized scythe; as such, Sect members are ordered to guard their weapons with jealous care.  Loss of a weapon often incurs the displeasure of elder Sect members, and metalsmiths often consider it a personal affront, replacing the scythe with a great sense of bitter reluctance.  Spare scythes are rare, and usually do not carry power cells, as they are fashioned for newcomers to the Sect lodge in order to train them with the basics of the bladed weapon without the added danger of an energy surge.  Occasionally, a Bearer who arrives unarmed will be offered one of these as a weapon for personal defense.

Greetings, Bearers!

I wanted to take a moment and wish everybody a very happy Easter season, including this Good Friday.  Tomorrow, I will be posting another entry from the Vein omnibus, so you can enjoy another tidbit of information about the World of the Vein.

I also wanted to add that, if ever you have questions about the characters, creatures, or just the Vein world in general, feel free to ask!  I’ll try to answer as best I can, and even though parts of the storyline are “works in progress,” there’s plenty that is already set in stone, even if it’s not set on paper or computer file (and unlike Mr. George Lucas, I have no intention of botching it up via over-fiddling with it).  So please don’t hesitate to ask me anything; whether the question deserves a personal or public response, I’ll be happy to oblige you with whichever one fits the situation!

Okay, back to writing.   And Han shot first.

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean