Jun
29th
2016

I have to admit, it's interesting getting back into the groove of writing AAG again.  It feels both different and at the same time, putting on an old, comfortable glove (mixed metaphors for the win!)  This is going to be (hopefully) both the climax of the first part and the end of Book I, and there's a lot of trepidation on this end.  Hopefully, the wait will be worth it.

And maybe it's a bit maudlin right now, but I'm writing a scene between Twilight and Dawn and listening to Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed".  Go fig.

Here's hoping seeing you guys in a few days! :twilightsmile:

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Jun
28th
2016

That the time on the clock was the time I usually retired

To the place where I cleared my head of you

But just for today I think I lie here and dream of you

I've got you under my skin where the rain can't get in

But if the sweat pours out, just shout

I'll try to swim and pull you out

A howling wind that blows the litter as the rain flows

As street lamps pour orange colored shapes, through your windows

A broken soul stares from a pair of watering eyes

Uncertain emotions force an uncertain smile

I've got you under my skin where the rain can't get in

But if the sweat pours out, just shout

I'll try to swim and pull you out

Jun
17th
2016

Something is Coming · 11:53pm

Everything within a square mile of the damaged hospital had become a national emergency zone as more ponies were being moved in to secure the area.  A block beyond that, most of Canterlot’s sheriff’s department had been deployed to keep the curious and the troublesome out.  It had displaced more than a few residents, but given the circumstances, there was little that could be done.  Given that within a few minutes that Blueblood was going to be given temporary comprehensive authority over the realm as the royal in charge, there were bigger problems to be had in the halls of power.

Lyra knew those problems well: she was dealing with the aftermath of them at the moment.  Seated in the office that had been reserved for her during the few times she was in town, she was looking over the paperwork that would give her the commensurate emergency powers to run the government as a counterbalance against someone she didn’t trust and, if the paperwork was right, neither did the princesses.  That little fact alone scared her: as a musician, she never thought she’d ever be here, and now as a diplomat, it horrified her to see the amount of power that they were giving her.  She’d grown used to human-style democracies and constitutional monarchies, and while she wasn’t going to gainsay the absolute authority wielded by the alicorns, she dreaded seeing that same power in the hooves of someone like Blueblood.

Or me, she mused as she stared at the paper.

Jun
4th
2016

See Mrs. Gray · 3:17am

She's proud today

Because her roses are in bloom

Mr. Green he's so serene,

He's got a TV in every room

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May
26th
2016

Stay in the shadows

Cheer at the gallows

This is a round up

This is a low flying panic attack

Sing a song on the jukebox that goes

Burn the witch

Burn the witch

We know where you live

Red crosses on wooden doors

And if you float you burn

Loose talk around tables

Abandon all reason

Avoid all eye contact

Do not react

Shoot the messengers

This is a low flying panic attack

Sing the song of sixpence that goes

Burn the witch

Burn the witch

We know where you live

We know where you live

May
24th
2016

Due to a combination of personal emergencies (I'm fine, but it's in the family) and getting ready for the mess that is Balticon (yeah, I'll be there) so I haven't been able to work much on 7DSJ, so it's going to be pushed off for a week.  Sorry, but it's been hell in my life the past two weeks.

Additionally, one of the personal emergencies was the death of my laptop, which had the most recent copy of AAG.  The drive is unrecoverable, so what I was planning to put out on Memorial Day is now gone.  We're looking at a 4th of July launch, hopefully.  And if you think you AAG fans have got it bad, at least you're not one of my graphic design clients - they're going to kill me for the delay there! :twilightsheepish:

I'll give an update later this week on what's going down at Balticon.

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May
13th
2016

I think I have this thing sitting here, ready to press the button....

the bright, shiny, candy-like button!

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May
5th
2016

I am not here to talk about ponies.  Today is too important for that.

Today, I went to the historic Lincoln Theater.  No, I was not there because I had a need for Ben’s Chili Bowl (though I may have to go there someday for that).  Likewise, I didn’t go there because my favorite performer is in town (they’re likely playing at the 9:30 Club anyway and I’ve never been a real big fan of nightclubs, sorry.)

No, what I went there to see today was a Holocaust Remembrance Program, featuring two survivors, people I consider heroes.  Yes, we throw that word around a lot – probably too much.  I’ve been called that once or twice during my military career.  But I’m not a hero.  Just a Sailor (and I won’t brag about that right now) who saw a lot and saw things people shouldn’t.  But still, not a hero, not as far as I think.

No.  Hero should be reserved for people like Ruth Gruber, who was there when it all began to document everything that occurred, and made history herself numerous times; who risked her life and reputation to bring the only group of Jewish WWII refugees to the US, and who extensively documented the plight of those, during and post-war, who were fleeing Germany to try to make a better life for themselves.

Hero should be reserved for men like Rubin Sztajer, who at the age of fourteen was sent to live in a Polish ghetto because of his Jewish faith and ancestry, who tried to smuggle in food and anything he could find to feed his family.  Who was taken from home two years later, separated from his family and bounced from one concentration camp to another, participated in death marches and seen too many people he knew executed for numerous reasons.  

Hero should be reserved for women like Marione Ingram, whose family was split apart because she was born to a Jewish mother and a non-Jew father.  Whose mother attempted suicide because the neighbors happily reported them to the Gestapo and were going to be sent to a concentration camp.  Who never made it because they were trapped in the Allied bombings of Hamburg, attacks that flattened the city and created fires that sucked the lifebreath out of those people.

These are people who faced the worst we’ve seen in humanity and still continue on:

* Gruber is still a writer and a journalist; her son is Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels.  She has written books, and documentaries and films have been made about her life.

* Sztajer came to the US alone, and from there built a life with a wife of sixty-three years, three children and seven grandchildren; he fully intended to retire to a well-deserved life of quiet until his daughter asked him how will the future know what happened in the Holocaust unless someone speaks up?  Sztajer decided it would be him to speak.

* Ingram came to the US at the age of twelve and decided she would stand no more injustice.  It was this that led her to join the US Civil Rights movement and is even today a tireless campaigner against intolerance.

We talk about monsters with a flair of the dramatic and a use of heavy embellishment.  We call Trump, Cruz and the Republicans monsters because their campaign is built on racism and intolerance (Ingram actually voiced this at the event), whether this is true or not.  We call Clinton, Sanders, Obama and the Democrats monsters because they’re clearly enabling people to victimize others in the name of some ill-defined issue, again whether true or not.  These people, hate to tell you, aren’t monsters.  Do I like them?  Many of them I don’t, and I’ll be the first to agree with you that they’re abhorrent.  But not monsters.

Do you know what a monster really is?  A monster is the cute little girl who’s been trained all her life to hate you because you’re different and to report you to the Gestapo because “it’s the right thing to do”.  Those monsters don’t know better and can be fixed easily.  I recall once reading a story about a German skinhead who loved to mess with the Jews, the foreigners and insert preferred target here.  That was until a random event caused him to look at his own history, to find out that some of the folks he oppressed were part of his own ancestry and legacy.  This led him on a journey of self-discovery and hard truths.  Now?  He’s rediscovered his Jewish roots, married a Jewish girl and (at the time of the article) was studying to become a rabbi.  These are the kinds of monsters that can be topped easily.

But it’s the harder monsters – the ones who turn the valves to the gas on, spraying Zyklon B down on countless innocents – eleven million of them, including six million Jews and 1.5 million children – until all that is left are corpses and Prussian blue.  Monsters are the ones who will lynch you because “your kind don’t belong here.”  The ones who say monstrous things without really thinking them through?  They’re enablers.  The ones without knowing better?  They’re tragic, and arguably victims themselves, because they wouldn’t if they knew the truth.  But the ones who knew and do it anyway?

Monsters.  Ungetüm.

Hell is watching a man in his late eighties and should be living the life of Riley, break down in tears on stage to the point that he has to take several minutes to compose himself, because he’s recounting the crimes of countless monsters who committed them, who butchered eleven million innocents and were indirectly responsible for the deaths of as high as eighty million.

Eighty.  Million.  That’s not a lottery jackpot, nor is it just tragic statistics.  Today, just like every day before it, is the number of dead from World War II.  And within that number lies the eleven million of the Holocaust, lives snuffed out because a man with a Charlie Chaplain mustache and a failed career in painting, was reputedly not shot by Walt Disney during World War I (and that’s a whole different story we’re not going to talk about right now) and lead a group of malcontents to cause such an event that not even Godwin’s Law can really account for repercussions still being felt today.

What repercussions?  The fact that even today, nearly a century removed from the events, the worldwide number of people of Jewish ethnicity – not those of the Jewish faith, merely with the genetics – has yet to reach the levels before all this madness began.

Think about that.  In June of 2015 the Israeli Times reported that the numbers of worldwide Jews is just starting to near that earlier number.  The number, had things been different, should be multiples of the pre-1930 count.  But it’s just reaching that, seventy-odd years later.

So today there was sadness and remembrance.

But today I also saw bravery and hope.

Hell is watching a man in his late eighties break down on stage.  Bravery is knowing he’ll do it again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that and however long it takes so that his tears wash away the pain and the ignorance so that monsters drown in saline oceans of truth and justice.  Courage is watching a young girl barely new to a country after having watched her old one torn up by a war caused by monsters, look at another abused class, say “Oh hell no” and wades directly into the battlefront once more, so that no one would ever suffer what she did as a child – and decades on, she still does that.

Hope is seeing them – and the other 500,000 Holocaust survivors still living – face off against the monsters and state plainly that they won’t take their last breaths until the monsters take theirs first.  They fight with tears, they fight with stories, they fight until they have nothing more to give and yet they still continue on.  

Because someone must.  Because as the Holocaust becomes just another dusty annal of history like the Crimean War, the Crusades and countless other pages we skip in the textbook of time, we still have the new reminders to deal with: Bosnia.  Rwanda.  The Middle East.  Maybe even in a bathroom in North Carolina.  New monsters will take the place of the old, and new fighters must rise to take their place amongst the battle-scarred veterans who deserved their peace a long time ago.  

Because the battle isn’t just about defeating the monsters – it’s also about making sure that new ones are stopped before they rise and we talk about another astronomical number of innocent lives taken.

There are, according to the lore of a recent videogame I’ve played, two logics to the universe: Sword Logic and Shield Logic.  Sword Logic says, “I am powerful because I can wield the sword to rend and destroy you, to lord over you because that is how it must be.”  Shield Logic says, “I am powerful because I wield the shield to stop you, because stopping you is how it will be.”

We see Sword Logic all too many times nowadays, whether or not it’s exacerbated.  Regardless, it’s everpresent.  And, if some reports are true, it’s infectious, like breeding like, and hate breeding hate.  And even if Sword Logic is hefted with good intentions, in the end, it’s still a monster-maker.

When will we pick up the shield?  When do we realize that it is we who must pick up the shield, stare at the monster with the sword and do a Gandalf, letting them know that they shall not pass?  That they don’t get to pass Go and collect $200?

Eleven million-plus – not the dead who must be remembered, but the countless ones in the future who may be preyed upon by monsters – hope you will.

Sztajer and Ingram are center and right in the image.

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Apr
30th
2016

Come join us!

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Apr
28th
2016

Haven't really had anything on this in a while, so we're doing it again from 3PM to whenever on Saturday in the Steam BV group!

I'm sure you have questions (like does the guy who was in the Navy know what a hurricane is?  Answer: probably more than you ever will), and we've got answers.

See you there!

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