Super Bowl XLVIII

I have many thoughts about the just concluded Super Bowl that have clouded my mind for the last few months.  Back in August when the Denver Broncos came to Seattle to play the Seahawks during the preseason, many prognosticators touted it as a possible Super Bowl match up.  Both teams took it that way too, they played this game more like a regular season game, in fact the starters played longer in this game then they would normally have–Peyton Manning played most of the first half, and was behind 27-7 when he left.  The Seahawks continued to dominate the game of reserves after that, closing out a 40-10 victory.

Let me go back a bit further in time.  The year 1974, when the city of Seattle was awarded an expansion franchise to join the NFL in the 1976 season–the American Bicentennial.  The rumored team names waffled back and forth between the Kings–in honor of King County which was also the name of the first home of the team, the concrete behemoth known as the Kingdome, and the Pioneers.  The Kings became the front-runner, and my brothers and I, along with our neighborhood friends formed our own team–the North Bank Kings.  We lived in the neighborhood around North Bank Road in rural Central Park outside Aberdeen, Washington.  We played seven man, old school, backyard-tackle football against all comers, on our home field, the massive grassy yard of my distant cousins the Hilliard’s.  We won the Fifth Championship of Central Park, 77-63 over the aptly named Central Park Champs that hailed from across the highway in the Deer Park neighborhood.  That game was a mismatch, we were the plucky underdogs in our homemade reddish-pink outlined,  green numbered, white t-shirt uniforms, and they were the larger, faster, more experienced and older team.  I recall at halftime, as we trailed by two touchdowns, that it would be a good time for our parents to call for us to come home, forcing an end to the soon-to-be rout.  But during our short halftime, we found resolve in each other and pulled out the improbable come from behind win.

Our roster was:

1    Gary Campbell, our center and defensive tackle–biggest guy on our team.

10  Mike Daniels, our quarterback.

18  Ray Simpson, our back-up quarterback and receiver.

54  Guy Simpson (me), offensive line and defensive end, also the youngest player on the team.

77  Randy Simpson, our most explosive offensive player and hardest tackler.

80  Lynden Cooper, our second receiver and defensive back.

99  Norman Cooper, the oldest player on the team and jack-of-all-trades player.

That win was a highlight of my early life.  We would follow it up with a 63-12 victory in the Hoquiam Championship played in historic Olympic Stadium against the N Street Hawks.  By July of 1975, the official name of the expansion team was revealed and the Seattle Seahawks were born.

They played their inaugural year in the old NFC West that included the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, and San Francisco 49ers.  They finished the year with a 2-12 record, but I loved them despite finishing last.  The Seahawks gave me a bond with my father, a man who could be gruff and difficult, quick to anger, and hard on his boys.  We found common ground watching the Seahawks play, and together we rooted for “our” team as father and son.   The Seahawks switched conferences after that first year, joining the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, and Oakland Raiders in the AFC West.  The closest our team came to the Super Bowl in those early years was in 1983 when they lost in the AFC Championship game to the Los Angeles Raiders.  Those were good years, and some of the last I  spent watching the team with my father.  I moved out in 1982, and my parents moved away by 1983 back to Western Washington.  My father and I didn’t watch more than a few games together after that.

He died in February 2004, two years before the Seahawks would make their first appearance in the Super Bowl.  I have never spent a day without thinking about my father.  I would not be the man I am today without him, or the influence he had on me as a youngster.  We didn’t win the Super Bowl, and it took a lot to heal from that wound.

But during the last four years I have seen something growing in the Northwest, a fever for the team of my youth–no, not the North Bank Kings, the Seattle Seahawks.  I believed they could make it to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, but they fell short in Atlanta–never score too quickly and let Matt Ryan have an opportunity to win.  But in the off-season the team made some excellent moves, enhancing the defensive line, and bringing in the multi-talented Percy Harvin.  I looked at this team as one of destiny.  I watched what they did to the Broncos in the preseason and was reassured that it was all possible.

When the season played out, that destiny seemed to be coming to fruition.  My lovely wife and I attended the NFC Championship game and celebrated the Seahawks victory over the 49ers, I cried tears of joy for the history of the moment shared with the love of my life, and I cried tears of sadness for the man who I used to sit on the couch and watch this team with all those years ago.  I so miss my father.

I immediately went back to that game in August, that score defined the outcome I foresaw.  I could not see the Broncos getting more than 14 points, and saw the Seahawks scoring somewhere in the 40′s for a similar spread.  Though few agreed with me.  Prior to the game, I donned my stinky Earl Thomas jersey that I wore all season–I never washed it because the mojo was working, and I talked to my father.  This time, this one was going to be ours.

The game began with the safety, the ninth in Super Bowl history, and third during the last three games.  The Seahawks dominated on defense, holding the greatest offense in the history of the NFL to no first downs in the first quarter.  They opened a 5-0 lead, and I recalled the 5-0 lead the Seahawks had opened on the 49ers earlier in the season, and the outcome of that game.  Now, some have said that opening safety made the Broncos off their game.  But if you watched the NFC Championship, you saw the Seahawks fumble on the first play of the game and give up a  field goal to the 49ers.  But rather than crumble they slowly, methodically climbed back in that game and eventually took it over–that’s what champions do.

Over the course of the Super Bowl, I was so cautious not to celebrate the outcome until deep in the fourth quarter when the Lombardi trophy was being carried over to the Seahawks side of the field.  The scar of the 2005 season, and the stigma of watching something so dear be taken from you by blown calls, and an apparent agenda by the league to send one of its all time greatest players–Jerome Bettis–out on top, made me so tempRM1_2779--nfl_mezz_1280_1024leery of this game.  Time and time again, the Seahawks would bust a big run, and it would be called back on a holding call mostly against pro-bowler Russell Okung, while on the other side, the Bronco linemen where literally tackling the Seattle defensive linemen, laying on them to keep them from Manning.  The officiating was not balanced, but like I tell the teams I coach, “You cannot rely on the officials to do you any favors or call anything right, in fact you need to be prepared to overcome bad calls, you must play well enough to not let the outcome be in doubt.”  Win it so big that the officials cannot alter the outcome.  The Seahawks did that, 43-8.  For part of the 4th quarter I thought they might be able to eclipse the record 55 point performance by the 49ers, but Coach Caroll let up on the accelerator and even put in the second string to finish the game.  He did not run up the score, even though he could have quite easily.

For all of those who aren’t fans of the sport, or sports in general, I give you this quoted dialogue from the 1985 movie Vision Quest, one of the best sports movies of all time:

Louden (Matthew Modine): ”I was at the hotel, they told me you took the night off. Thought you were sick or something.”
Elmo (J.C. Quinn): ”Of course I took the night off, dummy, isn’t this the night you wrestle Shute?”
Louden: ”You took the night off for that?”
Elmo: ”Yeah, shaved, got a haircut and everything.”
Louden: ”You never took the night off to see me wrestle before, they’ll dock you for that.”
Elmo: ”Hey kid, money ain’t everything.”
Louden: ”It’s not that big a deal, I mean it’s six lousy minutes on the mat. If that.”
Elmo: ”Ever hear of Pelé?”
Louden: ”Yeah, he’s a soccer player.”
Elmo: ”A very famous soccer player. I was in the room here one day. I’m watching the Mexican channel on TV. I don’t know nothing about Pelé. I’m watching what this guy can do with a ball and his feet. The next thing I know he jumps up in the air and flips into a somersault and kicks the ball in, upside down and backwards. I mean, the goddamn goalie never knew what the fuck hit him. (laughs) And Pelé gets excited and he rips off his jersey and starts running around the stadium waving it around over his head. Everybody’s screaming in Spanish. I’m here, sitting alone in my room. I start crying, yeah that’s right, I start crying. There’s another human being, a species which I happen to belong to, can kick a ball, and LIFT himself and the rest of us sad-ass human beings up to a better place to be, if only for a minute. Let me tell you kid, it was pretty goddamn glorious.  It ain’t the six minutes… it’s what happens in that six minutes.”

tempRM2_8998--nfl_mezz_1280_1024It was more than a game.  It was the match-up of the best offense in the history of the league against the number one defense of the season.  The Seahawks victory was the most watched Super Bowl, or television event, in its 48 year history, Twitter witnessed some of its highest traffic ever during the 12 second, 87 yard Percy Harvin kick-off return for a touchdown, and I cannot help but think Elmo would have said, something about it being, “pretty goddamn glorious.”

The victory brought solace to me, my family, and the spirit of my father.  I cried tears of joy, and only tears of joy, for on this day, my father celebrated the crowning of the new kings of professional football, the Seattle Seahawks, with me, my wife, and my children.

 

Been a While Since I Last Wrote Something Here…

I have been so busy recently, with the holidays, school, family, working on edits and doing illustrations for the Brotherhood of Olympus and the Tower of Dreams, planning for a state leadership conference, planning for my upcoming appearance at the Emerald City Comicon, planning for our second Love Assembly with my amazing colleagues–Ryan Healy and Sarah Mulkey–that includes filming and editing a couple videos, making a full color poster and clothing that will be available for sale afterwards that emblazon our message, and preparing to coach my basketball team (today was the first day of practice), that I have completely fallen off the wagon of doing my blog posts.

So I am making a pledge to fix this.  And fix it I will…

The Wizard of Oz, or the Odd Adventures of Toto? (Play Review)

1379881_652437724776906_135563446_nstars-4-5._V192238104_I had the honor of watching a Standing Room Only theatrical production of The Wizard of Oz today, in Yelm, and thought to myself, if ever there was a production worthy of your review this would be it.

Now, I have to be honest and say that I am probably too critical to be a critic, since my expectation–as my students know, is for everyone to strive for perfection.  I am also going to admit to being partial to a number of the performers since they belong to what is known as “Team Simpson.” However, this community theater production has a lot of heart, some serious brains, and a dash of courage, but did stray a bit too far from home. 52a22ebae654f.preview-300

Directed by the Drew Harvey Theater alumnus, Nancy Tribush Hillman, the show was not just an unpackaging of the 1939 Movie classic, since it includes musical numbers from Wicked and The Wiz to showcase the singing talents of the witches and the wizard.  The alternate numbers were deftly included in the show in a way that they didn’t distract, but did take some courage to roll the dice and include them in the production since many in the audience could have easily sung along with the actors for much of the show.  The brains included in the show were evident in the minimalist staging, stark backdrops, and clever makeup effects by Taylor Simpson.  The children in the audience, and many adults around me were amazed at the transition made through makeup to the principals–Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Wicked Witch.  It was also evident that some of the casting was brilliant–the Wicked Witch, Scarecrow, and Dorothy seemed born to play these roles, and some of the parts were played by actors making their theatrical debuts, including many of the Munchkins–local elementary school aged kids and younger, the doorman of Oz, played by Nicholas Byers a magician by trade who did yeoman work in his role, and another, the Tin Man was portrayed by community theater veteran Alexandria Longshore who took over the role in typical Wizard of Oz fashion for the ill Kieran Keeslar, in the days before opening night.

The principals–Jan Van Hess as the Wizard/Professor Marvel, Shelby Gebb as Glinda, Rae Simpson as the Wicked Witch/Miss Gulch, James Page as the Lion/Zeke, Guy Simpson, III as the Scarecrow/Hunk, Alex Longshore as the Tin Man/Hickory, and Kate Simpson as Dorothy–really carried the show with their renditions of the classics.  Watching the opening left little doubt that Dorothy was in the house, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” was sung beautifully.  A few older women in front of me said, “That’s how it’s supposed to be sung,” and “she’s amazing,” and they were both right.  However, I was left feeling offended that the child playing Toto, took it upon herself to bark during the song, and actually howled during the closing line of the song… Completely disrespectful for the actress singing her heart out, and for the message of the classic song. munchkinsThe set change during the tornado actually got a round of applause, and the seventeen plus Munchkins did their parents proud as they fumbled and bumbled through the scene without too many errors.  The appearance of the Wicked Witch brought the audience to the edge of their seats, as Rae Simpson owned the role. As Dorothy began her journey to the Emerald City the rest of the principals began to emerge.  The Scarecrow, takes over the stage as the lanky 6’9″ actor nimbly does pratfalls and tumbles in a Ray Bolger/Jim Carrey hybrid.  I had seen an advance showing of his “If I Only Had a Brain,” number with Dorothy when they appeared at a Triad Theater benefit a week ago, so I knew the audience was in for a treat.  However, today, the child in the role of Toto was never where she needed to be, making the Scarecrow look less animated than the rusty Tin Man as he tried to avoid stepping on her, and waited for her to get in place for the choreographed dance.  All of the audience was robbed of the opportunity to see the comic genius and rubbery moves of the Scarecrow.  Alex Longshore did her best as the Tin Man and was in a tough spot playing a masculine role with less than a week to rehearse, she did not disappoint, though she did go a bit high when she first started her song.  James Page, playing the role of the Cowardly Lion, like Dorothy, the Wicked Witch, and the Scarecrow, had the perfect voice inflection for his character as it was first portrayed in the Technicolor classic 74 years ago.  He was very believable in his role, though he too had difficulty with the child actor portraying Toto, at one point he actually stepped on her as she laid on the stage. 903872_652364264784252_698697510_oThe inclusion of “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,” from The Wiz gave the opportunity for the multi-talented Rae Simpson to sing as the Wicked Witch, and made many in the audience say she was a “stunning witch.” The Scarecrow, Lion, and the Wicked Witch did a lot of interaction with the crowd getting lots of little kids to cheer, yell, and shriek.  One mother said after the show that her daughter, who has only said a few words, pulled out her pacifier and said “Dorothy!” during the performance.

The chemistry of the leads was evident after the Wizard had floated away in his balloon, leaving Dorothy to find her own way back to Kansas via her ruby slippers.  As she turns and says good-bye to each of her friends, she hugged the Tin Man and tears began to well in her eyes, making the Lion and the Scarecrow join her in the emotional moment as they took their turns hugging her.  After delivering the classic, “I’ll miss you most of all,” with red glistening eyes Dorothy returned to center stage and began to tap her heels together and repeat those five famous words, “There’s no place like home.” I would recommend this show for people of all ages, and especially for those who have never seen a live theatrical performance so that they can see the magic of live theater.  The only thing keeping this from getting a full five-star rating was the annoyance caused by the child Toto.  The director missed the boat on this one, letting a child have card blanche, and do anything she wants was the only real flaw in this show.  When she was talking during “If I Only Had a Brain,” telling the Scarecrow where his hat was, etc., or missing all of her choreography and messing up her fellow cast mates, or barking and yapping during songs or key pieces of dialogue, or especially when she howled during the signature song of the show I kept thinking that it might have been better if Miss Gulch had given Toto to the Sheriff to put the dog down.  I kind of felt like if the director truly wanted to cast a more interactive/human-like Toto, she should have gone the Scooby-Doo route, or even cast the dog in a canine version of Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, with a vest and pocket watch once he arrived in Oz, but instead the dog is portrayed as a honey badger, without the comedic narration.  The Wizard of Oz is an American classic, it is not the Odd Adventures of Toto, the dog is not meant to be the star, and in fact might have been better cast being a stuffed toy like Sylvester the cat.  Toto is important to the story, but the dog really isn’t anything more than a device to advance the plot. This is a good show, not a re-tread of the movie, and the efforts put forward by the cast and crew of this production raised the bar because it was live and interactive, and many of the individual performances were outstanding.

If you want to see it, you are in for a treat.  There are four more performances–Sunday, December 15th at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM, and Wednesday, December 18th at 7:00 PM, and Thursday, December 19th at 7:00 PM.  For more information see the link below to the Facebook Event page:

SRO Presents: The Wizard of Oz

Play Description

Orphan Dorothy Gale lives a simple life in Kansas with Aunt Em, Uncle Henry  and three colorful farm hands, lunk-headed Hunk, blustery-but-timid Zeke, and seemingly cold-hearted Hickory. One day the stern neighbor Miss Almira Gulch is bitten by Dorothy’s dog, Toto. Dorothy senses that Miss Gulch will try to do something dreadful, but her aunt and uncle, as well as the farmhands, are too busy with their work to listen. Dorothy yearns for a better place in the song Over the Rainbow. Miss Gulch shows up and takes Toto away to be destroyed, by order of the sheriff, over the impassioned protests of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Toto escapes and returns to Dorothy, who is momentarily elated but soon realizes Miss Gulch will return. She decides to take Toto and run away.

On their journey Dorothy encounters Professor Marvel, a lovable but fake fortune-teller who, out of concern for Dorothy, tricks her into believing Aunt Em is ill so Dorothy will not run away from home. Dorothy rushes back to the farm but is knocked unconscious, inside the house, by a sudden tornado that has already forced her family into the storm cellar behind the house. A confused Dorothy awakens to discover the house has been caught up in the twister. Through the bedroom window, she sees a parade of people fly by. Then she sees Miss Gulch, also caught in the tornado, and pedaling her bicycle in midair, transform into a witch. Moments later the twister drops the house, Dorothy and Toto over the rainbow and into Oz.

Stepping into full three-strip Technicolor, Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, arrives and informs Dorothy they are in Munchkinland. She tells Dorothy she has killed the ruby-slippered Wicked Witch of the East by “dropping a house” on her. Encouraged by Glinda, the timid Munchkins come out of hiding and celebrate the demise of the witch singing “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” among other cheerful songs until her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, appears to claim the powerful ruby slippers. Glinda magically transports the slippers onto Dorothy’s feet and reminds the witch her power is ineffectual in Munchkinland. The witch vows revenge on Dorothy and leaves the same way she arrived, in a blaze of fire and smoke. Glinda tells Dorothy, who is anxious to return home, that the only way to get back to Kansas is to ask the mysterious Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City for help. Glinda advises Dorothy to never take off the slippers and “follow the yellow brick road” to reach the Emerald City. On her way Dorothy befriends a Scarecrow with no brain, a Tin Man with no heart, and a Cowardly Lion. The three decide to accompany Dorothy to the Wizard in hopes of obtaining their desires (a brain, a heart and courage respectively). Along the way the group confronts a forest of angry apple trees and several failed attempts by the witch to stop them, notably the Deadly Poppy Fields which lull Dorothy, Toto and the Lion to sleep. When they arrive at the Emerald City, the populace is threatened by the Wicked Witch, who skywrites a demand for the city to “Surrender Dorothy.” The group talks to the Wizard of Oz–a disembodied and imposing head with a booming voice–who says that he will consider granting their wishes if they can bring him the broom of the Wicked Witch.

The group then departs for the witch’s castle. On their way to the witch’s castle, they are attacked by flying monkeys, who carry Dorothy and Toto away and deliver her to the witch, who demands the ruby slippers. When Dorothy refuses, the witch tries to remove them but is prevented by a shower of sparks. She realizes the shoes cannot be removed as long as Dorothy is alive and plots on how to destroy her without damaging the shoes’ spell. As the Witch is considering on how to kill Dorothy, Toto takes the opportunity to take escape from the Witch’s grasp with Dorothy crying, “Run, Toto, run!” Outraged, the Witch screams at her monkey second-in-command Nikko, “Catch him, you fool!” but Toto manages to escape, much to Dorothy’s relief. The Witch, furious, snarls to Dorothy, “Which is more than you will do,” and runs over to a large hourglass filled with blood-red sand and turns it over, gleefully telling Dorothy “That’s how much longer you`ve got to be alive.” She puts the hourglass down and runs out of the chamber, locking Dorothy inside. Sobbing, Dorothy calls for Aunt Em, saying she is frightened. Aunt Em appears, and Dorothy tries to tell her that she is trying to get home. The witch appears, mocking and laughing at Dorothy. Meanwhile, Toto manages to find the lion, the scarecrow, and the Tin Man and lead them to the castle where Dorothy is awaiting her demise. Once inside they are barely able to free Dorothy and attempt an escape. The witch and her Winkie soldiers corner the group on a parapet, where the witch sets the Scarecrow on fire. To douse the flames, Dorothy throws water on them, and accidentally splashes water on the horrified witch, causing her to melt. To the group’s surprise, the soldiers are delighted. Their captain gives Dorothy the broomstick to thank her for their liberation from the witch.

Upon their return, the wizard tells Dorothy and her companions, “Go away and come back tomorrow.” Thanks to Toto, though, they discover the wizard is not really a wizard at all, just a man behind a curtain. They are outraged at the deception, but the wizard solves their wishes through common sense and a little double talk rather than magic–even telling them that they had what they were searching for all along. The wizard explains that he too was born in Kansas and his presence in Oz was the result of an escaped hot air balloon. He promises to take Dorothy home in the same balloon after leaving the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Lion in charge of Emerald City. Just before take off, Toto jumps out of the balloon’s basket after a cat. Dorothy jumps out to catch Toto and the wizard, unable to control the balloon, leaves without her. She is sadly resigned to spend the rest of her life in Oz until Glinda appears and tells her she can use the ruby slippers to return home with Toto. Glinda explains she did not tell Dorothy at first because she needed to learn “if you can’t find your heart’s desire in your own backyard, then you never really lost it to begin with.” Dorothy and Toto say goodbye to their friends, and Dorothy follows Glinda’s instructions to “tap your heels together and repeat the words, ‘There’s no place like home’.”

Back in sepia tone she awakens in her bedroom in Kansas surrounded by family and friends and tells them of her journey. Everyone laughs and tells her it was all a bad dream, except Uncle Henry. A happy Dorothy, still convinced the journey was real, hugs Toto and says, “There’s no place like home.”

When Dorothy wakes up from her trip to Oz, the issue with Toto and Miss Gulch appears unresolved and left to the audience to interpret, Miss Gulch may be intended to have died in the tornado, possibly in conjunction with the deaths of the Wicked Witches of Oz.

Gateway to Nifleheim (Harbinger of Doom Volume 1) (Book Review)

91M2pOGbCiL._SL1500_stars-3-0._V192240710_Gateway to Nifleheim was a tale I was very curious to read because of the mythology behind the story. It was a quick read, with a few grammatical errors (using “rode” in place of “road” for example). I wasn’t quite sure if it was meant to be a parody of more traditional high fantasy, or if the author was just going for camp. The protagonist in this tale is a mysterious man named Lord Angle Theta, yes that’s right, the trigonometric term for the unknown angle in a triangle. I know naming characters can be a daunting task, but Angle Theta? I secretly found myself hoping for more hidden math references as I read. I also found it suspect that the author included detailed descriptions of nearly everything, the noble house colors, the hues of armor and weapons, but could only say they bore the symbol of Erotrus upon their chests. What were these symbols and glyphs? It’ was almost like the author was afraid to commit to a theme, were they lions? Griffons? Dragons? Wolves?  By not including them he denied the reader the opportunity to relate to the noble house like many of the Game of Thrones fans do–think of how that series would’ve been different if all George R. R. Martin had included were references to the Starks and Lannisters by saying they bore the symbol of House Stark upon their breast, without ever saying it was a gray direwolf.

The use of the mythological back story kept me reading. But in the end I was still confused about whether or not I could take the protagonist seriously with his odd name. If you’ve never taken trigonometry before, and you think a mighty hero could be named Angle, then this book is for you.

 

Book Description

Publication Date: November 29, 2012
Warning to readers: Gateway
to Nifleheim
 and the other books in the Harbinger of Doom series explore religious and political topics that some may consider highly controversial. Proceed at your own risk. The author has written that, “The nature of good and evil is explored in ways that led to the Saga’s banning for either religious or political reasons in much of Western Europe for centuries.” 
 

Gateway to Nifleheim (approximate length 66,000 words) is a revised and significantly expanded edition of the first volume of the Harbinger of Doom saga, which was previously published as the novella entitled, The Gateway (length approx. 25,000 words).

When mad sorcerers open a gateway to the very pits of hell, releasing demons of darkest nightmare upon the world, only the intrepid knights of House Eotrus stand in their way. Claradon Eotrus takes up the mantle of his noble house to avenge his father and hold back the tide of chaos that threatens to engulf the world and destroy mankind. Claradon recruits Angle Theta and Gabriel Garn, mysterious knights of mystical power to stand with him. Theta and Garn take up their swords one last time against the coming darkness–a darkness from which only one will emerge.

The Harbinger of Doom saga centers around one Lord Angle Theta, an enigmatic warrior of unknown origins and mystical power. No mortal man is his match in battle. No sorcery can contain or confound him. No scholar or sage can outwit him. But for all his skills, he is but one of us: a man, a human, who shares our faults, our dreams, and our ambitions. He boldly strides across the land, fearless, peerless, and cloaked in mystery, all his will bent on righting such wrongs as he deems fit.

Until the day the Gateway opened and turned the world on its head. On that fateful day, Korrgonn came and washed away our dreams. And his infernal realms of Nifleheim set their unholy mark upon our world and claimed it for their own.

Only Theta and his companions see the enemies aligning against us. Only they foresee our end coming–the end of civilization, the end of the world of man. Only they can hope to turn the tide of madness and preserve all that we hold dear.

But no man, not even our greatest hero, can stand against the Lords of Nifleheim and the dark armies at their command. Fiends that infiltrate unseen within our ranks, that tear down our temples and our traditions, that devour us from within, unknown, unheralded, and unopposed until the hour grows far too late.

Through the murk and mist that hangs before our eyes, one man only sees true. One man pierces the veil of magic that blinds us all and marks the world as it truly is, revealing secrets, secrets of Angle Theta, so horrifying as to shatter a man’s mind and call into question the very nature of good and evil.

Haven: A Stranger Magic (Book Review)

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stars-4-0._V192240704_

Haven: A Stranger Magic was a compelling read, but seriously lacked in page count. Just as the story began to take shape it ended. The protagonist Sam, is the stereotypical 13 year-old, 98 lbs. weakling and social outcast, with a mean-girl-esque older sister, Sarah, who might actually be the more complicated character. Sam hates his life. His father died when he was young and he has no memories of the man. His mother works double shifts at a diner to make ends meet and she has little time for her high school aged children.

Sam’s best friend and fellow social outcast, Travis, is the only one who tethers him to reality. Together the boys discover a secret in the old abandoned quarry caves outside town that shakes the foundation of what they know to be true. I found it hard to imagine that after the events in the cave the boys walk to Sam’s house and then Travis just walks home by himself. I would have thought they would have stayed together, since it was early summer.

The story then shifts to the perspective of otherworldly beings who begin to explain the backstory of who Sam and his family are, why they are there, and some foreboding about a Viper, that hunts them. And then it ends.

If the story was meant as a prelude to a bigger novel, or as part of a series of novellas that tell the larger tale it should have been advertised as such.

D.C. Akers crafted a workmanlike world where magic exists along the fringes, and the ordinary might not be so ordinary after all.

 

Book Description

Publication Date: November 24, 2013
Sam Dalcome thinks he is so completely average that no one ever notices him. Until he discovers a mysterious stranger outside his home. Bewildered, he tries to uncover the stranger’s intentions. But Sam is sidetracked when he and his friend Travis discover a secret passageway deep in the town’s quarry that leads to a hidden cavern. What they uncover next will not only change their lives forever, but will uncover the first clue to a deadly Dalcome family secret. Sam finds himself drawn into a world of mystery and magic he never knew existed, which brings him closer to a destiny he never knew was possible.

 
HAVEN: A Stranger Magic is the first Novella in the HAVEN series by author D.C. Akers. This Novella contains 28,817 words, and about 172 pages in print form.HAVEN SERIES: Known as a place of refuge, Haven is a sanctuary for those with supernatural abilities. Decades of peace between the Witches, Vampires, Goblins, Elves, and Orcs is coming to an end. Now the once tranquil world is shrouded in deception and corruption. Dark secrets tear at the very fabric of their alliance giving way to an evil that stirs in the shadows. Exhilarating and utterly gripping, the HAVEN series is an action-packed journey full of suspense, magic, mystery, and intrigue.

Blogging

So I thought about it after I had written the rambling tribute to my father on what would have been his 76th birthday yesterday, and I realized that I had written extensive blog postings the last two days.  Does that make me a blogger?

What is a blogger?

According to most online dictionaries, it is a person who writes and updates a blog.  I guess I do that, though not consistently.  I kind of already need a social media manager, though I doubt that would be the case if I was just writing full-time, instead of teaching full-time and writing part-time.  Now some of the other definitions of blogger, especially if you looked upon urban dictionary, are dramatically harsher and pessimistic.  I definitely do not feel I fit that model, or definition.  In fact I think whoever the contributors were to that fine depository of modern culture (sarcasm intended) had been hurt by someone who blogged–like an ex-wife or husband who was extremely bent out of shape by what they perceived to be appropriate interactions.  The definitions there were crass, and even though I know that’s primarily the modus operandi of urban dictionary it kind of derailed what I was thinking of writing, and made me a bit defensive.

I know, that’s not something I should do, if I was above it all, but here’s the thing…  I have a Code of Honor that I have abided by since my teen years when I took a vow–now that is a tale for another time.  The Code includes the following tenet: Protect the weak and defenseless.  How could I just turn a blind eye to such derogatory comments about people who strive to write, one of the most noble of all professions since the creation of language, for if there were no writers, the world would be a very sad, dark place filled with despots and suffering without compare.  There would be no Tolkien, no Shakespeare, no archaic historical texts, no Bible, no Rosetta Stone, mayhaps no history at all…  Humanity would not have evolved much farther from its primate cousins, rabbits, Douglas-firs, or jellyfish, all organisms that have no writers among their species.

So here’s what I have to say about this…

I am a writer, an author, and I chose to use my social media presence to share part of who I am, my process, my writing, my journey, and my destination with any and all who want to learn about it from me.   And if you don’t like it, don’t read it.   But, if you do, I hope that perhaps in the end, if you pay attention to my message you will have the chance at being better.  Because most of my writing is built upon the foundation of love.  Love of your family, love of your friends, love of your people, love of your country, and love of your world.  Should you get that, then you can not help but see that this war against ignorance, apathy, injustice, and intolerance is perhaps the closest thing our species has seen to a just holy crusade, well perhaps ever.

Sorry for my rant, I was originally just going to say, its been three days in a row of writing a rambling blog post… I guess I must be a blogger.  But instead it became, I am a writer, and author, a blogger, and by my birthright I will stand against anyone who would insist that is not a worthwhile endeavor.

Or maybe I’m just a little bit tired…

November 13th, 2013

So today is a very bittersweet day for me.  This day marks the 76th birthday of the man who was most influential in helping me become who I am today, my father, Guy T. Simpson, Sr.

My father was an enigma to many who knew him.  He was incredibly stubborn, not overly communicative with people, a bit of a butthead at times, somewhat difficult to like, and passionately protective of his family.  He was a role model, a guardian to watch over me and my four brothers, a champion of the obvious, and a master of the song–”A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea.”  He pushed many away with his gruffness, but could also shine as salesman in ways I could never mirror.

I never knew him when he was a youngster, where he struggled to fit in, he didn’t grow until near the end of high school and they didn’t have a uniform small enough for him at Montesano High School.  I never knew him when he was a young enlisted man in the United States Coast Guard, or when he married the love of his life after they met at the Harborena skating rink.  All of those parts of his journey were before my time.

I remember him when I was very young, pre-school aged, and I got the HONOR to go to work with him as he drove a bus around downtown Seattle.  I had a lunch packed, and got to sit behind him on his route, and I got to go down the aisle looking for a newspaper for him to read as we stopped for lunch.  I was so proud to be his child.  I recall, sitting and watching “Let’s Make a Deal” with Monty Hall, eating warmed up crinkle-cut french fries on a plate with ketchup, my feet not even reaching the end of the couch cushion–my Dad sitting by my side.

I remember not understanding why we were losing everything, after he was hurt on the job in a bus accident, not understanding why he was so angry all the time, as his livelihood was ripped out from underneath him, and the pain of the accident left him dependent upon prescription painkillers.  I remember the Christmas that almost wasn’t when I was in first grade, in the second of the three schools I would attend that very first year of my social experiment known as public school.  We were the recipients of an adopt-a-family program, and I saw the magic of hope upon my fathers face that Christmas.  The hope that if you try hard enough, keep to your beliefs, and refuse to give up, you would have at least a shot at making it to your dreams.

I remember him challenging the system to help us, when we had no where to go, and as a family we were not ‘part’ of the model for aid to dependent families.  When he told the state worker, that we had no where to go, and the DSHS employee told him there was nothing she could do, my dad did the unthinkable.  He turned to us, his five boys in that cramped little public office, and told us to go play because we weren’t leaving for a while, and we would be staying there.  That gambit, propelled by our obedience to our father as we scampered off in the office building, forced them to act, and we got public assistance without my dad having to leave his family.  He humbled himself in a way few can imagine to seek what we needed to survive.

I recall finding a common ground with him during the year that saw the birth of the Seattle Seahawks–through that football team we bonded, celebrating our pride in the region.  I knew I had found an inside mark on his good side, if I sat with him and watched the game.

I recall the summer before my junior year in high school, when he told me that I would not amount to anything if I just sat around writing and drawing.  He said, “No one is going to come knocking on the door, asking if there was an artist or writer living here and looking to make them rich and famous.  If you want to succeed in life you have to go do it, and not wait for it to come to you.”  Then he told me I needed to get a job, of course…  I went to work for Denny’s and my destiny was sealed.  Many of the stories I am now writing are based upon the people I met at Denny’s from that time period in my life, including a rather special girl, who foolishly stood up to me because of my behavior in the kitchen and within weeks she was swept off her feet, by a charm I never knew I possessed.  All of that would not have happened without that fateful day, and my dad telling me, “get a job.”

It’s funny I can’t recall what my fathers dreams were in life, what his aspiration was, or quite simply what he wanted to be when he grew up.  But, I do know what he did become.  He became my dad, the man I measure my successes in life against–and in my mind I will never fully measure up to him since he has become even bigger than life in my memory, a Titan whose shadow I can never match.  He also became the man who challenged my wife to like him despite himself, and they battled mightily in many things–including a particular game of cards, in the end he had succeeded far more than he dreamed, because she opened her heart and grew to love him.  Most importantly, he became the grandfather to my children.  I will never forget the pride on his face as he held each of my babies for the first time–in that moment I saw my dad the way he was long ago before he was damaged and scarred, I saw him as I once knew him on the couch with me dipping french fries into ketchup on a sunny Seattle afternoon.  If anyone knew my father the way I knew him, you could not help but idolize his singular presence, his unwillingness to bend, because you would understand the root of his passion–the love of his family, and his devotion to us, even though he struggled nearly all of his adult life in relating that to us.

As the tears flood my eyes, I think of my father on his birthday.  My father died in February 2004, nearly ten years gone by now.  There is not a day, where I do not at least think of him in passing.  I look at the things that have happened since he left this place, my graduation with my Masters degree, me becoming a teacher, my children graduating from high school, and one now from college herself.  He never got to see the Seahawks make it to their first Super Bowl in 2005, or rise meteorically to the top of the league like they are this year.  He never got to see his daughter-in-law win her fight against cancer, though I know he was with me when I refused to let her perish when she was so weak and the burden she carried was so great, or see my family break through the hardships and tribulations of that dark year.  Like my father before me, I stood and would not yield.

candleEvery year since his death, I have lit a single candle on his birthday, and on the day he left us, to honor him.  To share my love of the man who forged much of me, in a simple fashion, as a light burning in the darkness.

So on this day, I share this candle with you all, in honor of my father.

May it forever burn brightly…

And I say to the ether, “Look Dad, I got a job, I’m a writer now…”  And I hope somewhere, there is a stern man, who is looking upon me, and as the pride rises within him, a smile forms upon his face.  And his voice echoes upon the winds of time, “I am so proud of you son, I always knew you could do it.”

I love you Dad…  Happy Birthday.

11/12/13 Ponderings

So I was sitting in the district office today working on some curricular alignment and common core progressions with a number of my leadership colleagues, when the topic of the date came up.  November 11, 2013.  Written 11/12/13…

It is the second to the last of a series of dates going back to January 2, 2003, that typify this pattern–the last being December 13, 2014, until January 2, 2103 rolls around in a little over 89 years.

It got me thinking about the power of numbers.  I use numbers, in the form of numerology throughout my writing.  Drake was 13 when his uncle Wally was killed on Friday, January 13, 1978.  Linking the thirteens…  The Tower of Dreams, still unpublished, has a convergence that was set to occur on an anagram of the death of Wally (01/13), that is actually just an inversion of the numerical sequence (10/31).

Little did I know when these events happened–the stories are based on true events, which is why I’ve kept the times and dates true to form–that they would forever be linked within my reality.  I would not have looked for the inversion pattern of Halloween and predicted doom to fall on my family on January 13th, just like I would not have done the opposite.  But after it occurred, it is a challenge to look the other way when the pattern starts to emerge.  One could say it was purely coincidental, or casual, but there are also other instances that link them, that I will not share until I have written those stories…

My point is this, we, as humans do look for patterns, connections, and uniqueness too.  Today is such a day, unique, because there are only 12 such days out of the approximate 36,520 days that exist within a century.  There were probably more than a fair share of weddings today, and some kids who will possess a special birthday when they grow up.  But, in looking for the numerical uniqueness in a day such as today, we overlook the obvious–every day we are here should be special and unique.  Every moment of your life should be devoted to becoming better, to evolving into the best person you can become, to rising to the top of your form, and making the world a better place because you exist.

uniqueRegardless of the date, choose to love one another, choose to see the light that exists within humanity, cherish the ones your love, and celebrate the journey you share together…  for in the end, it’s not going to matter how many unique days you’ve seen, but how many days saw your uniqueness…

Be unique, be awesome!

Olympia Book Fair

Thank you to all the people who attended the Olympia Book Fair on Saturday, November 8, 2013.  Thank you to Stephanie Roloff of the Sounds News for stopping by to interview me, I look forward to seeing your article in print.

The image is of the display I made, free-hand on a sheet of white paper with my color sharpies during the book fair.  I wanted something that made it clear, about some of the achievements I have made since I first started marketing my book series.

Amazon Best Seller BAM!

Olympia Holiday Book Fair

From Mixx 96.1 FM Events Calendar:

FREE! Local Authors Host Book Fair: Local authors Robyn Chance, Guy T. Simpson Jr., Rod Tinnemore, Tami Dahlgren, D.M. Edwards, and Jim Perkins will read, sell, and autograph their books! Books available include mysteries, paranormal/mystery, youth adventure/coming-of-age, children’s picture books, and contemporary fiction. November 9th, 2013, 11am-3pm, Percival Landing Harbor House, Olympia. For more information, contact: Jim Perkins 360-628-1080