Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ooh. Looky Here: "Animated Scarecrow Unit"

NOW HERE'S A ROUGH BUNCH!  I like the lower left one with the jack-o-lantern head.  Nathaniel Hawthorne would have been proud!

>>>> http://theminiaturespage.com/news/168189/

Monday, November 29, 2010

"The Olympians"


By Kenneth Grahame


"Looking back to those days of old, ere the gate shut behind me, I can see now that to children with a proper equipment of parents these things would have worn a different aspect. But to those whose nearest were aunts and uncles, a special attitude of mind may be allowed. They treated us, indeed, with kindness enough as to the needs of the flesh, but after that with indifference (an indifference, as I recognise, the result of a certain stupidity), and therewith the commonplace conviction that your child is merely animal. At a very early age I remember realising in a quite impersonal and kindly way the existence of that stupidity, and its tremendous influence in the world; while there grew up in me, as in the parallel case of Caliban upon Setebos, a vague sense of a ruling power, wilful and freakish, and prone to the practice of vagaries--"just choosing so:" as, for instance, the giving of authority over us to these hopeless and incapable creatures, when it might far more reasonably have been given to ourselves over them. These elders, our betters by a trick of chance, commanded no respect, but only a certain blend of envy--of their good luck--and pity--for their inability to make use of it. Indeed, it was one of the most hopeless features in their character (when we troubled ourselves to waste a thought on them: which wasn't often) that, having absolute licence to indulge in the pleasures of life, they could get no good of it. They might dabble in the pond all day, hunt the chickens, climb trees in the most uncompromising Sunday clothes; they were free to issue forth and buy gunpowder in the full eye of the sun--free to fire cannons and explode mines on the lawn: yet they never did any one of these things. No irresistible Energy haled them to church o' Sundays; yet they went there regularly of their own accord, though they betrayed no greater delight in the experience than ourselves.

On the whole, the existence of these Olympians seemed to be entirely void of interests, even as their movements were confined and slow, and their habits stereotyped and senseless. To anything but appearances they were blind. For them the orchard (a place elf-haunted, wonderful!) simply produced so many apples and cherries: or it didn't, when the failures of Nature were not infrequently ascribed to us. They never set foot within fir-wood or hazel-copse, nor dreamt of the marvels hid therein. The mysterious sources--sources as of old Nile--that fed the duck-pond had no magic for them. They were unaware of Indians, nor recked they anything of bisons or of pirates (with pistols!), though the whole place swarmed with such portents. They cared not about exploring for robbers' caves, nor digging for hidden treasure. Perhaps, indeed, it was one of their best qualities that they spent the greater part of
their time stuffily indoors.

To be sure, there was an exception in the curate, who would receive unblenching the information that the meadow beyond the orchard was a prairie studded with herds of buffalo, which it was our delight, moccasined and tomahawked, to ride down with those whoops that announce the scenting of blood. He neither laughed nor sneered, as the Olympians would have done; but possessed of a serious idiosyncrasy, he would contribute such lots of valuable suggestion as to the pursuit of this particular sort of big game that, as it seemed to us, his mature age and eminent position could scarce have been attained without a practical knowledge of the creature in its native lair. Then, too, he was always ready to constitute himself a hostile army or a band of marauding Indians on the shortest possible notice: in brief, a distinctly able man, with talents, so far as we could judge, immensely above the majority. I trust he is a bishop by this time,--he had all the necessary qualifications, as we knew.

These strange folk had visitors sometimes,--stiff and colourless Olympians like themselves, equally without vital interests and intelligent pursuits: emerging out of the clouds, and passing away again to drag on an aimless existence somewhere out of our ken. Then brute force was pitilessly applied. We were captured, washed, and forced into clean collars: silently submitting, as was our wont, with more contempt than anger. Anon, with unctuous hair and faces stiffened in a conventional grin, we sat and listened to the usual platitudes. How could reasonable people spend their precious time so? That was ever our wonder as we bounded forth at last--to the old clay-pit to make pots, or to hunt bears among the hazels.

It was incessant matter for amazement how these Olympians would talk over our heads--during meals, for instance--of this or the other social or political inanity, under the delusion that these pale phantasms of reality were among the importances of life. We illuminati, eating silently, our heads full of plans and conspiracies, could have told them what real life was. We had just left it outside, and were all on fire to get back to it. Of course we didn't waste the revelation on them; the futility of imparting our ideas had long been demonstrated. One in thought and purpose, linked by the necessity of combating one hostile fate, a power antagonistic ever,--a power we lived to evade,--we had no confidants save ourselves. This strange anaemic order of beings was further removed from us, in fact, than the kindly beasts who shared our natural existence in the sun. The estrangement was fortified by an abiding sense of injustice, arising from the refusal of the Olympians ever to defend, retract, or admit themselves in the wrong, or to accept similar concessions on our part. For instance, when I flung the cat out of an upper window (though I did it from no ill-feeling, and it didn't hurt the cat), I was ready, after a moment's reflection, to own I was wrong, as a gentleman should. But was the matter allowed to end there? I trow not. Again, when Harold was locked up in his room all day, for assault and battery upon a neighbour's pig,--an action he would have scorned, being indeed on the friendliest terms with the porker in question,--there was no handsome expression of regret on the discovery of the real culprit. What Harold had felt was not so much the imprisonment,--indeed he had very soon escaped by the window, with assistance from his allies, and had only gone back in time for his release,--as the Olympian habit. A word would have set all right; but of course that word was never spoken.

Well! The Olympians are all past and gone. Somehow the sun does not seem to shine so brightly as it used; the trackless meadows of old time have shrunk and dwindled away to a few poor acres. A saddening doubt, a dull suspicion, creeps over me. Et in Arcadia ego,--I certainly did once inhabit Arcady. Can it be I too have become an Olympian?"

Pablo Picasso:  “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

WIKI LINK for Kenneth Grahame

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Questions & Answers

I have noted that some fans who have specific questions about my works, history, etc. have been posting at the Old PPP Forums.  Unfortunately I do not frequent them with any regularity and do not wish to continue to post at YUKU as the information posted there cannot be retrieved.  Repeat:  Yuku traps your information and there is no way of mining it off of the site so far as Scottz and I have determined.

If you have questions please either e-mail me (click my profile here for the e-mail address); or, post your questions on Dragonsfoot in my Q&A section.  Though PPP's boards were established in 2002, I have been active on DF since 2004, so there are lots of questions already answered and a lot more to come.  If you don't already have an account there it's pretty easy to get one.

Here's the LINK.

Thanks for being great fans, by the way!! :)

Considering Monday? Enjoy A Different Kind of "Song & Dance"

Friday, November 26, 2010


News from the Orlando Skolarlee Review!

In an openly closed meeting, members of the Orlando Skolarlee Review previewed some of their most strikingly striking case studies to date!  Here is the minutia of the meeting as overseen by Jimmie Cracked Corn and fellows.
Commentary by JCC unless otherwise noted.

Greyhawk Stonefist Research.

Note an advertisement (left) that I have been studying for the past 2 years.  It's an old one from a Pleasure Faire.  Did I ever tell you that I never attended it?  But I would have liked to.  I would have been the guy on the balcony overlooking the courtyard, of course, but that is neither here nor there, now or then.  I just like those sort of Faires, of course.  Do you like Faires?  Please tell me and maybe I'll pen an article or fifteen on them!
But back to my latest discovery!  Of course you can tell me if it is a discovery or not, but I sure think it is.  I really love discovering things, you know.  Don't you?  I believe it relates to curiosity the more I think about it.  Curious thing curiosity.  Don't you think so?

Now for the meat.  I just knew that my continuing research might pay off.  Note the upper left shield and its heraldry.  Seem familiar to you?    Take your time, let it sink in; I know I had to as I'm not really a Greyhawk fan, though at times I believe I could be if I tried hard enough, I'm just not sure, you know? This shield just bothered me.  Of course I think I mean not in a bad way kinda bothered, but in a good way.  You know what I mean, right?  Well, I came to the conclusion that this shield, this very shield, may be the start of the inspirational chain that induced Gary Gygax to create Stonefist (please note comparative illustration, above right).  There are two shields and two hands, you see.  What do you think?  Am I onto something?  The research continues as we try to find attendees from that faire and see if they can recollect noting a person of Gary's general description in attendance.  Stay tuned!

Black Oil Advertisement Linked to Keoghtom's Ointment!

In our endeavor to uncover the facts we are pursuing an anonymous tip that Gary Gygax was indeed influenced to create the magical concoction "Keoghtom's Ointment" from this very information.  Research has been slow going as Hamilton is such a common name, and thus locating the family and their sales records for the Midwest region has been fruitless to date.  Note that the prime factor here is not so much verifying that fact, but in extrapolating the easily understood matter contained in the phrase, "Healing Liniment."  Though a poser, we will provide updates as breaking suppositions occur!

EGG's Afterword in D&D's Volume #3 Reinterpreted in Light of Present Day Facts! Source:  OPI News Wire.
According to the Orlando Skolarlee Review they have broken the "code" in EGG's afterword to D&D (1974) and have reinterpreted this in light of present day realities.

EGG's TRUE THOUGHTS From the Broken Code...
"There are no areas which have been glossed in these rules.  We have included all the essentials and no trimming is needed by you or your players.  We have provided more than an ample framework and no building is necessary for you to have fun.  In this light, we urge you to go to our forums, blogs and other fora where you can be guided in what to do next, as everything herein is fantastically confusing and the best way to understand it all is just to ask us or folks at these official sites.  Don't just make things up, don't make adventures, ask us first as we have everything you'll ever need!  We don't mind answering your questions and love doing all of your imagining for you!  Write us and tell about your experiences and opinions as we could always use another laugh on the way to the bank!"

NEWS UPDATE:  Due to this revelation the Orlando Skolarlee Review and its subsidiaries ordered the immediate increase in published material, thus doubling and even tripling their FRP adventure titles for the upcoming months.  When asked about this, one member was heard to exclaim, "Eureka!"

Apology Demanded By Irate Earthling Regarding Eldritch Enterprise News!  From OPI News Wire.
A recent email exchange occurred between Jimmie Cracked Corn and the Adjutant General, U-Duhm Feck, who administers to flea-bitten elders near the Tesherite community of Drakensfuht, sometimes recorded (according to Baron Munchausen) as being located in either ancient day Mesopotamia, or in the Bronx.  The transcript of that exchange follows:

U-DF:  Your negative slant on this news was less than hospitable to my ears and my elders here have now contracted a case of the hives because of it!  I demand an apology for all elders worldwide.  Despicable,  I say!  Utterly despicable!
JCC:  Yes, but...
U-DF:  Oh.  Don't start that outmoded rhetoric with me, Mr. "I Don't Care!"  An apology is an apology!  A "yes" will do.  Keep your But, for now...
JCC:  Yes, but...
U-DF:  You seem to have a dualistic nature, eh?
JCC:  Yes, but...

The remaining transcript was edited by OPI to extract repetitions...  END

Orlando Skolarlee Review's Brew of Choice?

Of course it's "Old Judge" Irradiated Coffee!  What a silly question!  When all of us get together in our secret meetings (otherwise known then as the O.S.S. meetings of choice; see member patch below), we can't stop drinking it!  I am thinking of having something similar to this concocted and made available for sale (look to my "What I am Selling/What I am Drinking" menu when it's available).  The name will  change to "Old Judgmental," though!  I like the name, don't you? -- JCC


More Ground-Breaking Research Ahead:  Werebear, Irish Deer and Gorgon Origins!

Triumphant news for our quarter!  We'll let the pictures speak for themselves! -- JCC
Inspiration for the Irish Deer?



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some Updates and an Upcoming Interview

I have lots on my schedule and have been finding it difficult to blog; and though I have a plethora of articles finished and unedited or in various other stages, my writing and design have been taking precedence these days.  I hope some other authors can stand in for me, but if not I will post when I can.

Part of the down time will be spent affording time for an interview I recently agreed to do; and this will no doubt eat up a couple or three days while it is started and concluded.  The interview will be posted at another blog and I will link to it from here.  I am readying for it by rereading the "Sardonic Humor of Ambrose Bierce..." :)

In the meantime I will be posting a new spell I contrived, this towards the end of the week, Andy "Atom" Taylor is doing some art for three projects and possibly more (as of 3 days ago) one of which I will post as soon as Andy has them all finished.  The writing on the Machine Level continues and Black Blade Publishing and I have been discussing the cover art and artist for the project.  And the "Give Thanks Even Though You May Not Have Done So In Between-DAY" is upcoming and the "Mrs." and I are celebrating by having lasagna shaped as a turkey (kidding), but we are having lasagna.  I wish you all well in between and be looking for more down the road.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gertrude Barrows Bennett (pseudonym: Francis Stevens)

"Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883–1948) was the first major female writer of fantasy and science fiction in the United States, publishing her stories under the pseudonym Francis Stevens. Bennett wrote a number of highly acclaimed fantasies between 1917 and 1923 and has been called "the woman who invented dark fantasy." Among her most famous books are Claimed (which H. P. Lovecraft called "One of the strangest and most compelling science fantasy novels you will ever read") and the lost world novel The Citadel of Fear. Bennett also wrote an early dystopian novel, The Heads of Cerberus (1919). ...

"Bennett wrote her first short story at age 17, a science fiction story titled "The Curious Experience of Thomas Dunbar." She mailed the story to Argosy, then one of the top pulp magazines. The story was accepted and published in the March 1904 issue. ...

"Once Bennett began to take care of her mother, she decided to return to fiction writing as a means of supporting her family. The first story she completed after her return to writing was the novella "The Nightmare," which appeared in All-Story Weekly in 1917. The story is set on an island separated from the rest of the world, on which evolution has taken a different course. "The Nightmare" resembles Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot, itself published a year later. ...

"Bennett has been credited as having "the best claim at creating the new genre of dark fantasy." As such, Bennett's writings influenced both H. P. Lovecraft and A. Merritt, both of whom "emulated Bennett's earlier style and themes." As for Merritt, for several decades critics and readers believed "Francis Stevens" was a pseudonym of his. This rumor only ended with the 1952 reprinting of Citadel of Fear, which featured a biographical introduction of Bennett by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. ...

"One of Bennett's most famous novels was Claimed (Argosy, 1920; reprinted 1966 and 2004), in which a supernatural artifact summons an ancient and powerful god to 20th century New Jersey. Lovecraft called the novel, "One of the strangest and most compelling science fantasy novels you will every read"). ...

"Critic Sam Moskowitz said she was the "greatest woman writer of science fiction in the period between Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and C.L. Moore.""

Source:  WIKI Article LINK.

LINK to short stories compilation at Amazon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On the Etymological Sources in Some of EGG's Fictional Names

In recent discussion with David Witts (in my estimation one of the, if not the only, true researchers and scholars of Dungeons & Dragons and related TSR game historians active today) and Allan Grohe (himself a Greyhawk enthusiast with many years of accumulated knowledge on the subject) the topic turned towards EGG's battle report published in Wargamer's Newsletter #116, "THE BATTLE OF THE BROWN HILLS."  This was a Chainmail/Fantasy Supplement battle played by LGTSA members, myself included, in EGG's basement on our constantly maintained 6' x 10' sand table (of which many of those battles, not only Chainmail but also Tractics and others I discuss in depth in my upcoming memoirs; and as played there and as later played at Don Kaye's garage where the table was eventually transferred to in order to make room for EGG's shoe repair equipment).

In going over the text I noted at least 3 interesting names that Gary had chosen, one of which only, out of courtesy to the ongoing research being done, will I post here.

One side has a giant leader named Verdurmir, which I recognized right off, and I actually laughed at the joke-reference EGG was using here:

Etymology of "verdur-" is simply a foreshortened "verdure" meaning "green" or lush.

"-mir" has Germanic and many other cognates, but overall may be translated as "leader," "lord,"  or grosse (large) or "big," etc.

So we have a giant named Verdurmir whose name means:  "Big & Green Leader," or a variation of such.

This is where I laughed at the exposed matter, as the most popular giant in media during those days was of course the Jolly Green Giant.

Once again exposing Gary's proclivity (and creativity) in adapting what was around him into whatever matter he was treating with at the time.  It also exposes his tounge-in-cheek manner and disguised punning for which he was famous.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dave Arneson's Love Affair With Japanese Monster Movies

From My Gathering Memoirs.  ©2010. Robert J. Kuntz

My friend David L. Arneson moved to Lake Geneva to work for TSR in 1976. He originally roomed at the same complex as my brother, Terry Kuntz (who also worked for TSR as the first manager of the DUNGEON Hobby Shop).  David soon relocated to an apartment on Wisconsin Street .

As I lived on Madison & Wisconsin and EGG still lived on Center & Wisconsin, I would often stop into David's on my way to Gary's house (note map, below).

This was often on weekends, and invariably if I didn't find Dave reading or writing, I'd find him watching his favorite Japanese monster movies.  He usually had a big bowl of popcorn and was just laughing like a kid at these things; and in retrospect they were so  bad they were funny.  Here are some photos and links to the movies that made the designer of so many historical and fantastic games chuckle.


Links @ Wikipedia/Other:

1  2  3  4  5  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"The Necromancer" aka "The Tale of the Black Forest"

 By Ludwig Flammenberg (pesudonym of Carl Friedrich Kahlert)

Here's a mixed genre fantasy tale way ahead of its time as published in 1794.  There was some confusion about the author, his pseudonym and the translator, all explained in the Wiki article.

From the Amazon.com description:  "'The hurricane was howling, the hailstones beating against windows, the hoarse croaking of the raven bidding adieu to autumn, and the weather-cock's dismal creaking joined with the mournful dirge of the solitary owl...'"

"The Necromancer consists of a series of interconnected stories, all centering on the enigmatic figure of Volkert the Necromancer. Filled with murder, ghosts, and dark magic, and featuring a delirious and dizzying plot that almost defies comprehension, The Necromancer is one of the strangest horror novels ever written.

"One of the earliest Gothic bestsellers, The Necromancer was first published in 1794, and after more than two centuries still retains the power to thrill and fascinate readers. This edition includes a new preface which reveals for the first time ever the true identity of The Necromancer's author, as well as an original critical essay by Jeffrey Cass, analysing the novel from a modern queer theory standpoint. The complete text of three contemporary reviews and helpful annotations are also included to further enhance this edition."

Amazon Link

Wiki Article Link

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Have Your Cake and Be It Too"

Robert McKee Interview: On Storytelling

Robert McKee is well known as a screenwriting guru, but his emphasis is on storytelling techniques that are applicable to all forms of writing including those used in the RPG industry.

"Robert McKee, born 1941, is a creative writing instructor who is widely known for his popular "Story Seminar", which he developed when he was a professor at the University of Southern California. McKee is the author of a "screenwriters' bible" called Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. Many of Hollywood's active screenwriters claim him as an inspiration. Rather than simply handling "mechanical" aspects of fiction technique such as plot or dialogue taken individually, McKee examines the narrative structure of a work and what makes the story compelling or not. This could work equally as well as an analysis of any other genre or form of narrative, whether in screenplay or any other form, and could also encompass nonfiction works as long as they attempt to "tell a story"."

Source:  Wiki Article LINK.

The following interview is 61 minutes in length.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clark Ashton Smith Part 1: Art & Cover Art Inspired By His Stories

"Clark Ashton Smith (13 January 1893 – 14 August 1961) was an American poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. It is for these stories, and his literary friendship with H. P. Lovecraft from 1922 until Lovecraft's death in 1937, that he is mostly remembered today. With Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, also a friend and correspondent, Smith remains one of the most famous contributors to the pulp magazine Weird Tales."

Source:  Wiki Article LINK.

Further Reading, Links 1-4:

1  2  3  4

Updated From Question in Discussion: