Monthly Archives: February 2015

RIP Leonard Nimoy

28 February, L A.S.

Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy

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I’ve been a Star Trek fan since my dad introduced me to the original series when I was very young. It’s a show that represents an optimistic view of human progress and the future, and that reminds us to keep our eyes and minds open to the possibilities of great leaps in exploration, science, and imagination. To be brave, and to boldly go.

Mr. Spock is a great character, who was portrayed by a great actor and man. I was saddened yesterday to hear of Mr. Nimoy’s death.

Below, Magus Peter H. Gilmore expresses my thoughts on the matter better than I could myself:

Here was a man who lived life to the fullest—actor, director, poet, photographer, author, and teacher. He actively explored his talents and made our lives richer through his creativity. Uniquely, playing the role of Mr. Spock and breathing life into the fascinatingly logical character devised by Gene Roddenberry, Nimoy brought forth a new and resonant archetype that remained a focal point of the television series and films comprising STAR TREK, boldly moving beyond that fictional universe into our culture.

His Vulcan-Human hybrid being was meant to have a devilish mien—the original plan even had red skin to accompany the pointed ears and eyebrows that was swapped for a touch of green when camera tests were not successful. This role embodied an intriguing paradox, offering a personage of alien ancestry from an advanced culture whose savagery and self-destructiveness was only tamed via the discipline of logic and restriction of emotion. From Spock’s mother came the challenge of untrammeled human emotions that at times were shown to surge forth in defiance of his rational strictures, often in ways that proved even to him that perhaps a better balance needed to be sought. It was his ongoing journey, an inner odyssey towards self-mastery that went in tandem with the Enterprise’s trek to where no one had gone before. 

With consummate skill, wisdom and humor, Nimoy portrayed the lone partial alien as First Officer of the ship’s crew, a poised outsider who, through observation of his comrades, thus offered fresh perspective on what it meant to be human—the aspect of his self that needed to be acknowledged and integrated. His brash but equally brilliant commander, Captain James T. Kirk, and the ever irascible curmudgeon, ship’s surgeon Dr. Leonard McCoy, proved delightful foils which throughout the series brought insight into the bonds of friendship that shall remain deeply touching to any who take the voyage with them into the final frontier.

The New York Times has a detailed obituary enumerating Nimoy’s many varied achievements, and a more personal response may be found here on The Collinsport Historical Society blog by Patrick McCray.

While Nimoy at times in his long career resisted his identification with Spock, he came to embrace that destined melding and felt that supporting the fundamental Vulcan philosophy of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” was a worthy endeavor. And there can be no more Satanic a hailing of the fellow consciousnesses whom one respects than “Live long and prosper.” Leonard Nimoy certainly did that, and touched and inspired many of us in the course of his eventful journey. We are better beings for that.

 

 

More free books for honest reviewers!

Hey! You there! On the Internet!

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Do you like free books?

Books dripping with gruesome tales of the undead, the monstrous, and the mysterious?

Books sure to entice, shock, and perhaps even disturb?

I, G.R. Wilson, have a couple of those books ready for you today!

But you don’t have to take my word for it regarding their quality!

Write to me at authorgrwilson@gmail.com, subject line: “Books”, and receive one of three copies of either Right Behind You or Paranoia! All I ask is for an honest review of your thoughts on the book, on Amazon, when you’re done with it. I’ll sign your copy, of course, and send you an email when your copy has been shipped.

Plus, anyone can receive a free copy of my ebook Hand Full of Horror, available only through this website!

Best wishes,

-G.R. Wilson

Quick book recommendation: “Sgt. Reckless”

20 February, L A.S.

Quick book recommendation:

Sgt. Reckless

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Believe it or not, I do read books outside of the Horror genre. I read just as much History and Historical Fiction…if not more! (Don’t tell anyone though!) One such non-Horror book I recently finished and thoroughly enjoyed, is Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse by Robin Hutton.

Hutton tells the true story of a little Mongolian mare who served with U.S. Marines, hauling ammunition over rough terrain in the Korean War. I use the term “served” here intentionally: Reckless the horse, after her training and induction into front-line military life, truly did earn her place in the Marine Corps. Her handlers and friends came to refer to her as a marine, and after her amazing service hauling 25 pound recoilless rifle shells up and down steep and rocky ground in the middle of a massive Chinese attack, she was inducted into the Corps as a sergeant. A sergeant with actual papers and a special uniform blanket and everything! In parades back in the states, where she quickly became famous, only a Marine of higher rank could lead her.

Anyway, I don’t want to summarize too much, as much as I do love talking about this book. Hutton clearly did great research, both in the library and in interviews with Korean War veterans who knew Reckless. The writing style is clear, direct, and easy to follow, with flashes of humor that don’t distract from the history. There is a lot of humor in Reckless’ story, (the men frequently fed her beer, and, a couple times inadvertently, a hat and some poker chips,) but also much heroism, and the tragedies inevitable in any war.

The reader will enjoy the full telling of Reckless’ story, from her birth and raising by a young Korean man, to her days training at “hoof camp,” to her retirement in the U.S., to the birth of her offspring, and to the 21st century erection of a monument in her honor, brought into existence thanks to the dedicated efforts of Hutton herself.

If you like stories of great horses, or if you like Military History, I highly recommend Sgt. Reckless to you!

A lesson from lifeguarding: Being a regular

16 February, L A.S.

Unrelated to the story! Just made me chuckle.

Unrelated to the story! Just made me chuckle.

A lesson from lifeguarding: Being a regular

Last week, I shared with y’all one of the lessons I’ve learned from my experience life guarding. I want to share with you another such lesson. This one, I owe to a frequent visitor to my pool. For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll call him Devin. Understanding the point I’m going to make requires a basic understanding of Devin.

Devin is mentally slow. I’m not sure why or with what exactly, but he’s clearly not “all there.” I’ve heard rumors of a sad history that I’d rather not repeat. He doesn’t have any speech impediment, and he can hold a conversation, but he frequently stares at people without blinking, can’t remember what day it is, and holds a generally child-like view of the world. He lives with more mentally-able adults (maybe adopted parents) in a home within walking distance of my pool.

Devin swims with incredible frequency: I’ve been working at this pool for about three years, and any day Monday through Friday that I’m there during daylight, Devin will show up, or already be there. He’ll stay from mid-morning until dinner time, swimming laps, back and forth and back and forth for most of those hours. He used to wear a blue flotation belt whenever he swam, but recently, after encouragement from me and a few other people, he swims without it. I could tell for months that he was physically a good enough swimmer to not need the belt anymore: it was clearly only a mental need. Devin’s obviously a heck of a lot happier now to be able to swim without the belt, including diving down underwater and coming back up to the surface on pushes off the wall.

He does more than just swim. Devin also helps out with basic tasks around the community fitness center the pool is attached to, such as sweeping, and setting up tables in the cafe we have for seniors. When I need to move the pool’s lane lines to accommodate different activities, Devin will automatically raise his hand and offer enthusiastic help without me even asking. Sometimes he knows lane lines need to be moved before I do. He always goes about his work with a smile on his face, happy to contribute to the smooth functioning of the place where he spends most of his day.

You see, Devin is the textbook definition of a regular. Everyone in the building knows who he is. Why? Not only is he there nearly every day, improving his fitness and having fun, and contributing to the smooth running of the place for others, but he also greets everyone. Whenever a new person enters the pool area, he’ll give them a hearty “Hello,” and if they don’t respond the first time, he’ll repeat verbal and visual greetings until they return the gesture. If given the chance, he’ll introduce himself, and he’ll especially make sure to greet people he knows, by name. The effect is that Devin is a part of the character of the place, and everyone who visits even semi-regularly knows him. Some find him odd and perhaps vaguely threatening at first, but that first impression soon melts away. (Well, actually he is still a bit odd, but likable, and the farthest thing from threatening.)

The lesson I learned here is that there is value in being a well-known regular at the businesses, fitness clubs, restaurants, and bars that you frequent. I honestly can’t say I’m a regular anywhere myself, but I came close to that level at my college’s coffee shop. If you are a regular, it seems you get a simple emotional benefit of being welcomed, showing genuine gratitude, making new friends, (Devin has a few with whom he talks about professional wrestling,) and even getting special treatment here and there. For example, when Devin helps out in the cafe, he occasionally gets a free lunch. You don’t have to go to Devin’s extreme of friendliness to strangers, but there’s surely a happy median between that and the polite coldness with a customary smile that I think many of us employ even at places we frequent. Get to know a bartender, waitress, mechanic, or fellow member, just a bit. At least know a few people’s names. Admittedly I haven’t done this a ton myself yet, but, Devin reminded me of it. So, thank you for being you Devin, keep it up. You’re damn good at it.

 

Best,

-G.R. Wilson

 

The book signing went great! Here are some free books and scary Youtube videos!

13 February, L A.S.

Thanks for your support on Saturday! 

I had a great time as usual at Simply New York when I held a book signing there on Saturday the 7th. I sold and signed copies of both my published print books, met fans, and handed out juju hearts. Because those are good.

I just wanted to remind you all that I still have three free reviewer copies of my newest book, Paranoia, left. Shoot me an email at authorgrwilson@gmail.com, and one of them can be yours, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review on Amazon.com. And I’ll sign your copy, of course! (And, if you haven’t yet, signing up for my newsletter will get you a free copy of my anthology ebook Hand Full of Horror, featuring the work of many other authors!

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Furthermore, I wanted to scare some spooky short videos from Youtube with you! I don’t think they need any further explanation, except that they’re creepy as all hell, and a bit fun. The last one especially. 🙂

Sweet dreams!

 (Look at the Youtube comments for the Many Doors one above. I didn’t get it at first. Gotta review my demonology!)

New illustrations based on “Paranoia!”

10 February, L A.S.

New artwork!

The kick-ass Fiverr artist known as MadScientist just delivered these commissioned pieces of artwork to me, based on the creatures in my newest book, Paranoia!

I’m quite pleased. 🙂

-G.R. Wilson

The angel of the Devil's Den.

The angel of the Devil’s Den.

The trans-dimensional reptilian horror revealed by the spectacles.

The trans-dimensional reptilian horror revealed by the spectacles.

The delightful hybrid of a spider and a wasp.

The delightful hybrid of a spider and a wasp.

A lesson from lifeguarding: Jumping in with both feet.

9 February, L A.S.

:D

😀

A lesson from lifeguarding: Jumping in With Both Feet

I’ve been a lifeguard since I was 17 to the present day, and I’ve learned a lot of things on the pool deck in that time. I want to share some of the wisdom, however small, that I’ve gained on the job in those hot, humid, and chlorine-scented rooms where I’ve made so many good friends, and tested the limits of my endurance in multiple ways. This essay is my first shot at sharing said wisdom.

As a lifeguard, you get a lot of time and social freedom to watch, and think. I’ve met a wide variety of interesting characters at the community pool where I work, people of all ages, races, shapes, sizes, swimming abilities, professions, income levels, tattoo coverage, swimsuit coverage, and temperament. War veterans, gynecologists, barbers, college professors, janitors, and cops. Blacks, whites, Ethiopians, Cambodians, Jews, Italians, and Hondurans. Many have interesting stories to tell, and many have boring stories to tell. Many are friendly, a few are surly, and many are just there and keep to themselves, as I tend to do. Recently, I’ve taken particular notice of the kindergarteners from a local charter school that take swim lessons during my afternoon shift.

One of the most daunting tasks the kindergarteners face (besides resisting the apparent siren call to run full speed barefoot across the slippery pool deck) is that of jumping into the pool. I don’t use the word “daunting” here with any mockery: I remember what it was like to be that small, next to a pool as big as Lake Ontario, waiting in line behind my shivering comrades to be cajoled by the giant and all-knowing adults into throwing myself off that seemingly massive height into the cold water, that, even in the shallow end, easily covered the top of my head were I to stand on the bottom. I, like most of the kids I’ve seen go through swim lessons, learned to love swimming and jumping into the pool, and I went on to swim competitively from age 8 to 18. Learning to swim enormously built my confidence in my ability to navigate life, to survive, and to prosper. Mastering skills is vital to the development of a healthy and successful human being, and I owe my parents a debt of gratitude for their support in my swimming career. But, I never forgot that jumping was scary at first!

The swim lesson teachers emphasize that when the kids take on the challenge of jumping into the water without help, (being caught, hand held, etc.) they need to do it right: toes curled over the edge of the pool, feet hitting the water first, and making sure to jump straight out into the water. Doing otherwise invites injury: I’ve never seen a serious injury from such errors as twisting at the last second to face and grab the pool gutter, or bending low at the knees to almost-slide in, but I’ve seen kids hit their feet or arms painfully on the sides, and I can easily see how concussions could occur.

Many of the kids are brave and confident, and jump in the right way the first time: feet first, straight out. But many instead react to the challenge with distress and anxiety, without any confidence, and they’re the ones who, if they jump at all, do it halfheartedly and therefore risk injury. I find it interesting that showing instinctive caution here is one’s enemy, and is actually the riskier option than leaping into the challenge with a reasonable amount of bravado.

I take this lesson of learning to jump into a pool as relevant to other life endeavors. Love, war, and business are all things that one cannot safely enter into with just one foot, and then the other, or in a desperate twisting motion back the way one came, or with a gradual and halfhearted lean-and-bending down over the water. Decide on a goal, figure out the proper way to achieve that goal, and leap in, feet first, straight out, to actually achieve that goal. If you lack confidence: review your plans in order to get said confidence halfway there, then fake the rest, and jump. To do otherwise is to risk cracking open your skull at the worst, and looking foolish in front of your peers at the best. Potential marital partners, globally ambitious presidents, and would-be business tycoons (not to mention ambitious fiction authors!) should all remember this lesson: jump straight and all the way with both feet, otherwise, stay on the deck!

-G.R. Wilson

My board game collection!

A few of you have asked me about my collection of board games, which I have mentioned around this site and on the author description for my books. So I wanted to take some time today to take photos of and write about my collection, and talk a bit about my interest in board games, especially war games!

My gaming experience

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(Listed from top to bottom, left stack first: The Guns of Gettysburg, Axis and Allies, a House Divided, In Magnificent Style, A Distant Plain, Twilight Struggle, and Paths of Glory)

My love of strategic and tactical board games, and especially war games, stems from my experience playing PC games such as Starcraft, Civilization, Age of Empires, Warcraft, and Outpost 2 starting at around age eight. I was honestly quite shitty at those sorts of games back then, but still enjoyed them, and quickly got better as time went on, and my patience grew. Though I started off with a greater interest in science fiction and fantasy games, historical war games have both reflected and fostered my love of military history. I buy, play, and master games about conflicts that I find interesting, and I learn about conflicts through playing games, and reading up on the different generals, soldiers, politicians, cities, and events involved. Games have always been closely tied to books and movies for me, in learning about different wars and battles. I like the feeling of playing a well-designed game, for example The Guns of Gettysburg (pictured below) and having those “Aha!” moments like “So that’s why Little Round Top was so important!”, or strategic experiments like “Hm, what if we try a long flanking maneuver rather than a frontal assault, as was tried in real life…”

An amazing game, I'll post pictures of it all set-up soon.

An amazing game by the brilliant Bowen Simmons, I’ll post pictures of it all set-up soon.

I love playing games with friends, or with groups such as I did during my time in college. I will also play games solo, either playing both sides to the best of my abilities of objectivity and neutrality, or by using flowchart solitaire “AI” systems that many games contain. For example, Volko Ruhnke’s A Distant Plain and Fire In the Lake, (part of his counterinsurgency series,) and Labyrinth by the same designer.

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The game company Victory Point games publishes many games that are solitaire only, I have several of these:

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It’s both relaxing and stimulating for me play a game solitaire. I enjoy spending a couple hours alone with a board, some cards, some dice, and my imagination. Nothing beats playing against a live opponent though, or better yet a group of friends divided into teams. I have a couple zombie games that fit that description:

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Zeds is another solo one actually. Zombie State is a global zombie apocalypse game in which each player leads a different region of the world, and Last Night on Earth lets one player control the zombies while everyone else scrounges for supplies, and shoots, hides, and chainsaws their ways to victory as a motley crew of rural townsfolk.

The many topics in my board game collection

I own games from the smallest tactical level (controlling individual survivors in Last Night on Earth) all the way up to the grand strategic (controlling industrial production and planning amphibious invasions in Axis and Allies.) I have games set in historical conflicts from the American Civil War, to WWI, to WWII, to the Cold War, to modern conflicts against terrorism. I have games about zombies, and about hobbits. I’m lacking in pre-Civil War games, unfortunately. I have no Ancient or Napoleonic games, a situation I hope to remedy soon. Below are more photos of covers from more of my games:

 

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Classic

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Another solitaire one, where you act as a campaign manager.

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Detailed game on the under appreciated early stages of WWI in the West, when the war was still mobile and a decisive victory was still possible.

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One of the best games I own. Play as the US or USSR and struggle through 50+ years of subterfuge, influence, proxy wars, espionage, and near-nuclear war. (And yes, you can start a nuclear war, but then you lose.)

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Actually not one of my favorites. A bit “Meh.” Not because of the topic, just the design.

 

A few closing thoughts

Board games are fun both solitaire and as a social activity. They can take you back in time to change the course of old battles won and lost, to the far future to manage a space shipping company, or to the struggles of a zombie apocalypse. I highly recommend boardgamegeek.com to anyone wanting to learn more about what’s out there. I’m active on that site.

I plan to design games of my own someday, I have a few ideas bouncing around my head. I’ll post more pictures in the future of my games, (I didn’t show all of them here,) including with the board and pieces set up. There is some amazing art on these. The company GMT does an especially good job on the quality of their components! Thank you to all the designers, artists, and publishers who make some of the awesome games I’ve derived so much pleasure and learning from!

Until next time,

-G.R. Wilson