Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jim Gaffigan on Holidays

Here's poking a little fun at holidays in the USA...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jewel Staite of Firefly Fame will be at Fandom Fest 2013!

Another cool celebrity guest and another reason to attend Fandom Fest 2013!

Yes, I'll be there as an author guest, but definately small potatoes compared to the big names, including Stan Lee, William Statner and more.

I'm looking forward to meeting (hopefully), Jewel Staite, Adam Baldwin and Adrian Paul.

(Where/When: Louisville, Kentucky, July 26 to 28, 2013)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

National Geographic: De-Extinction, including the Woolly Mammoth and the Thylacine

I've discussed the possibility of cloning from existing DNA to bring back currently extinct species. National Geographic discusses this possibility, as it the necessary knowledge and technology appears closer than ever. (Link Here: Reviving Extinct Species)

One item that concerns me stems from research I did way back in college as an undergraduate biology major. I recall from one paper that, with mammals, a breeding population of at least 70 individuals--not closely related--is necessary to avoid deleterious genes from adversely impacting the population, with a strong chance of causing the population's demise.

With this in mind, the question might become, are scientists actually bringing back the species, such as the Tasmanian Wolf and the Woolly Mammoth, or are they reviving museum specimens, to be studied and maybe displayed?

I even came across an article discussing reviving Neanderthals. Now wouldn't that effort be fraught with a multitude of ethical issues?

I think two of the factors that should be cosidered when determining if a project should go forward are:
1. If, over time, a self-sustaining population can be created/revived.
2. If there remains an area of the species' natural habitat that can maintain the revived population.

This article, in the UK Daily Mail, touches upon some of the 24 species being considered, and some of the criteria used. It, however, lists the thylacine (the only marsupial on the list) as living until the 1960s.

Article Link: Scientists want to bring 24 animals back from extinction (Dodos make the list... but dinosaur DNA is so old, Jurassic Park isn't an option)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Snow in Ohio, Again

No, these photos are not duplicates of those posted earlier this month (see: March Snow in Ohio). This time we received a only about 2/3 the amount of snow, and it's heavier and melting as fast as it continues to come down (even at the time of this afternoon posting).

Back Yard: March 25, 2013

Yes, it's Spring (my daughters are even on their Easter/Spring Break from school).

Back Yard Juniper: March 25, 2013
It's a good thing I don't mind shoveling ;)

Side Yard: March 25, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Holding Out for a Hero and Babylon 5

I'm glad this video was released and has been posted.

Viewing it, with the music/lyrics in the background, remind me a lot of why I enjoyed Babylon 5. While the heroes mainly depicted are Security Chief Michale Garibaldi, Commander Susan Ivanova and Captain John Sheridan, I think that Marcus would also fit well as a 'hero' in the series.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baseball vs. Football (George Carlin)

A humorous comparison of the the two popular American sports:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Interview with Writer and Poet Monty Wheeler

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Monty. Please, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

In days since college and my writing persona, I’ve always billed myself as “a little old man living out his days in the shadow of the Ozark Mountains,” which is true, and I’m a day older today than I was yesterday; although wiser would be nice too. In my early days, I ignored writing’s attraction even though it was there. It wasn’t until my late-in-life start to college that I again looked at writing creatively. It was in college and poetry classes that I became fascinated with the mechanics of writing in meter and rhyme, and I still love the special challenge today. But throughout most of my writer’s life since college, I would have never dreamed of having a full collection of formal verse soon to hit the shelves. Amazing what turns life might have in store.

What did you study in college, and how did that impact your writing, if it did? Also, what turned out to be your least favorite college course?

Oddly. College was my highway back to an enjoyment that I’d tasted as early as elementary school then set aside for other much less productive entertainments. And by the time I got to college at age 40, I’d long forgotten about writing. I began college with a fantasy of an engineering degree, and calculus burst that bubble. Then, in searching for course content that contained studies that did interest me, I rediscovered writing. I graduated with degree in creative writing and the basics of meter and rhyme and writing formal verse and fiction.

I am guessing then that Calculus qualified as the least favorite course. Do you read a lot of poetry? If so, where do you find it—magazines, ezines, books, blogs? Do you have a favorite poet?

Oh yes, calculus was my bane. Even dropped back to pre-cal before finding my creative writing major, and that was still no better. I do read a lot of poetry. I have collections on my Kindle from poets I know from social networking, and I constantly watch my Facebook and Twitter feeds for bargains and free-for-limited-time offers on fiction and verse. I’d have to say the dead poets, Robert Browning, his daughter Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Emily Dickinson are still my favorites.

When you read poetry, do you read it aloud, or silently? Does it make a difference in the experience?

Ugh. That brings back a painful memory. (And I say that smiling.) The rejection that prompted me to swear off submissions forever and always said about what I thought some of my best works “. . .it doesn’t sing to us.” Now I prided myself on writing meter, and now it doesn’t sing? I was hurt. Near a decade later when I was doing some exploring and experimenting in SoundCloud and recorded readings I had to read aloud what I’d been reading silently or with taps of my fingers counting beats. Guess what. Reading aloud points out flaws. Some words are not meant to go together. The human mouth doesn’t follow some sounds with others. My work didn’t sing after all. I try now in revision to read anything aloud to see how smoothly my sounds flow and work together or clash.

Thanks for sharing that experience, Monty. I wondered as I teach poetry to high school juniors, and I try to tell them, that like Shakespeare, poetry was meant to be listened to. Reading is okay, but it offers a different experience than actually listening. Just like reading lyrics for a song, I guess.

You have a book of poetry, The Many Shades of Dark, scheduled for release in mid March. Would you tell us a little bit about it? Also, if you could pick three people, living or deceased, or maybe even not yet born, what three would want to get The Many Shades of Dark in their hands to read, and why?

Ah yes, March 13, 2013 is the release date for the paperback edition of The Many Shades of Dark. The e-book editions come out a week later. This, my debut collection of poetry, seems to be two things for me. First, a culmination of all the things I’d vowed to not do at one point in my writer’s life (Writing was to be for pleasure only, or so I convinced myself) and second, it seems some sort of transition for the poet. What begins with dark verse, drawn from the horror genre, ends with poems of sin, salvation, and redemption. As if in the poet’s search for something, he finds so much more. And this first collected works seems to lead into what I term as Project 2 already in the making.

Three people I hope will hold and read The Many Shades of Dark are my three children who are named in the dedication. I can only hope that through this collection they know me a little bit more and a little bit better.

I’d like to share an excerpt, a single stanza from one of my favorite works, THE BARGAIN, in this collection, and that I think includes all the elements of this collection.

Thunder cracked as she drew
The blade across her wrists
She raised the red and wounded flesh
To God and clenched her fists.

The Many Shades of Dark
Copyright 2013 by Monty Wheeler
Excerpt appears courtesy of Winter Goose Publishing

A gripping and intense excerpt, Monty.

Are there any suggestions or advice you might have for aspiring writers and poets?

So much has been said before, but like a good song it’s timeless and worth a “Play it again, Sam.” At risk of sounding cliché, never let go of your dream. It might change, somehow alter as time goes by, but never let go and let it float out through the wild blue yonder; you may not get it back. Learn the rules before you break the rules. As in my case, I fell in love with the rules of formal verse and write by them. And write what you want to and about what you want to; that’s a part of that vague, foggy phrase, “Find your own voice.” I enjoy telling a story, using plain and simple diction, and often times in the rather stilted ballad form. I love the contrast of simple contained in the complexities of a form and meter. So write. And write more until you discover both who you are and what you love.

Solid advice, Monty. Have you ever considered writing an Epic Poem—does anyone still do that sort of thing?

I had to do some looking before having the confidence to answer this one. The best definition of “epic” I could find in my own words is “a long narrative up to 500 stanzas long of a hero’s adventures. Most of us think of works such as The Odyssey, The Iliad, and Virgil’s Aeneid when the term “epic” is used. In my quick search, did not find any references to modern epic poems even approaching that length. I love writing narrative verse in different form; traditional ballad stanza, heroic couplets, and blank verse are all common narrative forms. And I’m sure I’m not the last but mine do not near such “epic” proportions. And let’s face it. . .most of us are not Milton. One example of mine, and not for the faint of heart, is my EPIC OF LILITH you can find on my blog. Another example of one of my long narratives is EAST OF EDEN.

One of the things about epics for me is that they’ve been translated to English, and I think something is lost in that process, especially with Beowulf, which is my favorite epic poem.

Could you provide us with a link to your blog’s page with the EPIC of LILITH or EAST OF EDEN?

I call Lilith’s work an epic; it’s narrative and long, but hardly the five hundred stanzas long kind of epic. By her nature, Lilith is not for the faint of heart. EAST OF EDEN is fairly long ballad, which is my favorite type of narrative verse to write. While its thirty three or so stanzas doesn’t come close to an ancient epic’s five hundred, the work fits the criteria of an epic work. Here’s the link to that particular work.

Link: East of Eden

One final question before we wrap things up. Where do the ideas for your poems come from? And, when you get them, how do you make sure you don’t forget before getting the chance to write them—or are you a poet who has a rock solid memory for such things?

It sounds corny, but ideas come floating by oft times. Saving them is the key, and it’s safe to say I’ve forgotten many more poetic works than I’ve recorded. . .and likely the best ones still float out there forgotten and lost in time. I’ve composed many potentially good verses riding my Harley along an interstate highway. And no way to record them they float in the wind never to rend a page of innocent white. And likewise, that no-man’s land we call half-sleep or state of doze. . .how many good verses lost in the pillow never to find clean air again? Now I’d say to you, I may record a good verse or two but how many more blew right through a dazed or dozing mind’s gray goo? In my latest WIP, and in many of the works in The Many Shades of Dark, I look to the Great Book, The Bible for my inspirations. There is so much in that book! I’ve embarked on a front to back reading, no time limits set, but the book is pure joy to study.

As we’re about to wrap up this interview, is there anything else you’d like to add?

You’ve covered all that need be, I think. Sans a page or two of childhood memories that neither time nor place in this chat. But. I will add this…for the chance to talk to you and be a guest on your site is an honor. And one I stand both humbled and grateful for. And to those who’ve dared to read this far, I look forward to meeting you in the land of cyber. Just pick a link included here and find me there 

I appreciate the kind words and I think the readers of Up Around the Corner will really enjoy this interview. Thanks, Monty, for taking the time to chat and share some insights with us.

If you’d like to learn more about Monty, you can follow him on his blog or twitter account. Also, here’s a link to his upcoming release:

Blog: Babbles

Where The Many Shades of Dark is available:
Amazon (Print) & Kindle, and UK 
Barnes & Noble (Print and Nook)


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Daughter Earns Black Belt

To the right is a picture of my older daughter, Genevieve, receiving her Black Belt after passing her Black Belt Test on Saturday (Shotokan Karate). Needless to say many, many of hours of practice and dedication went into earning it. Hopefully, within a year or two, my wife and younger daughter will also be receiving the same honor, as they're both dedicated and working hard as well.

But for now I'll just say that, Gen has blazed the path. I'm mighty proud of her.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Motley Press Posts Review of Blood Sword

The Motley Press recently posted Kevin Tipple's review of Blood Sword.

Here's the link if you're interested: Review of Blood Sword

Friday, March 8, 2013

Adam Baldwin/Jayne Cobb at FandomFest 2013

Adam Baldwin will be a guest at FandomFest 2013
All the more reason to attend.

(Where/When: Louisville, Kentucky, July 26 to 28, 2013)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March Snow in Ohio

Lilac and Juniper Bushes in the Back Yard

 Two storm systems decided to meet over the Midwest and dumped sleet, then snow on the Miami Valley in Ohio as the combined systems moved east. Most schools announced being closed last night in anticipation, which was a good idea. The main roads are okay now, but side roads? Not really favorable for bus traffic. The good news? By Saturday, it's supposed to reach a sunny 50 degrees Fahrenheit and all remnants, except muddy puddles, will be gone.

Other Back Yard Juniper 
I've included a few pics I took of the 8 inches, with about 1/4 of an inch of slush under neath, before venturing out to dig a path for the old Saturn VUE. Got that taken care of for my wife, only to see a trail of green spotting the snow as she drove away. Had to call my wife to warn her, and then got my older daughter outside so we could quickly dig out the truck which I park out in front of the house. She swung back to the local auto repair shop--no room to look at it until Tuesday.

My wife's Camaro doesn't do well in the snow and getting it out of its spot in the alley will be interesting. Maybe I'll catch a ride with a co-worker into work tomorrow and leave the Colorado for my wife--I'm guessing the roads will be clear enough by then. We'll see.

Side Yard
 That's what the weather is like in Ohio, and I guess now along the east coast, where they're getting it worse than we did, as did the central part of the USA last week (with snow). So I'm not really complaining. Just the way it is.

Well, the sidewalks are finished. My older daughter has finished knocking the snow off of our Taxus, Boxwood and Juniper bushes (we have 20 or so) and clearing the front porch. Back out to dig out the neighbor's driveway, then work a little on the alley.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Local Government Presentation


Beginning the Presentation

Those who are acquainted with me know I wear a lot of hats. One of the more recent ones I've donned is as a local politician when I was elected to the St. Paris Village Council in 2011.

But in truth, I'm a teacher at heart, and when offered the chance to talk about local government to some of the students at the school where I teach, how could I pass up the opportunity?

Students filing in for the
day's final presentation
My goal was to make what they've been presented with in their Government class more clear and relevant, and to allow them to ask questions they might have.

As a side note, one of the most interesting and controversial questions was why I chose to ride in my wife's Camaro instead of my Colorado during the Pony Wagon Parade. Go figure :)

In any case I had a good afternoon speaking to groups during five class periods this past Friday--and I think they learned a thing or two.

Instructors who invited me to speak to their classes:
Mrs. Megan Flanagan & Mrs. Julie Roeth