Why I blog?

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I’ve been asked several times in my life why I write and why I blog? To give back to a community that has given so much to me while also answering that question, I decided to ask several of my favorite bloggers (sorry Josh, it’s never going to leave my vocabulary) the same question and collect their thoughts as guest posts. There are links at the bottom to each of the articles and there you will find links to these five wonderful blogs. Now it’s my turn:


 

Well, to be honest, I’m one of those strange people born with a need for self-expression. And not so much self-expression, as a need to share the beauty of what I see with the world around me. I see trees, clouds, sky, grass, birds, a magnificent horse, the heart-breaking death of a warrior, a child’s laugh and I feel the need to capture it, package it, and share it with the world. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. What does this mean? Before I’m a writer, at my most inner core, I’m a story-teller. I love stories. I always have.

I tried painting. Oh, how I wanted to be an artist with a canvas and a world of colors. But, paintings never flowed from my fingers. I tried drawing and got an A for coming to class every day, not for any great piece of art—although my doodling improved. I tried music. How I longed to capture what I felt and saw in the stringing of notes together. Is there anything more powerful than music for expressing the human condition? I did okay. But when I reached the crossroads of more practice or dropping my lessons, I dropped my lessons. More practice just didn’t seem worth it. I tried photography. And while I can shoot a pretty picture, I fail to see the story in my own shot. It’s just not there.

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Somewhere along the way, much inspired by Tolkien, and encouraged by my husband, I picked up the one art form I hadn’t tried. I picked up a pen and started writing. It was like coming home. Writing allowed all that I saw in my head to flow out of me. It gave me a means to share the magic of the world that I constantly saw around me.

I couldn’t capture the dust floating like so much fairy-powder in a golden sunbeam in music, paint, shutter lens, or graphite, but I could capture it in words. I could show you how they dust glitters and sparkles. I could let you see the magic through my eyes that would change how you look at the common sun shining through the window. I can turn common into a glowing soldier locking tiny sparkles in an incandescent prison. I can drive common away with mention of Peter Pan, happy thoughts, and fairy dust. I can sit you in a sunbeam and sail you away to Never Neverland. With words, I can paint. With words I can weave together a song all people can cling to. With words I can capture a moment and freeze it forever. With words I can smug just a little gray to make a powerful shadow.

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Words, writing, storytelling. This is why I blog. I blog because blogging is the easiest way in our modern-day and age to share what I’ve always wanted to share. Blogging lets me interact with readers in a way in which I couldn’t if I had to wait until my novel was finished. Blogging lets me encourage, inspire, challenge, and build up in a way that would be impossible in any other time. I could submit articles to magazines, but why not let you just read what pours out of my fingers?

This way, you the reader can sort and find the authors you want to read. You can find people who are like-minded, or very different in their mindsets and beliefs. You can read my blog, or Heather’s, Deanna’s, Raelea’s, Josh’s, or Rob’s and find articles that make you ponder, that help you as you tend to those in your life, that inspire you, inform you, and share a little of each of us with…well…you.

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That, my friends, is why I blog. I blog because I’m a writer, and I’m a writer because I’m a storyteller. So jump in the deep end of blogging. Read, comment, and start one yourself, if you’re so inclined. Take the advice and thoughts from this month’s guest posts and put them to good use. Ask questions. Get advice. Network with other bloggers.

And if you’re not a writer, thank goodness. Cause there’s one thing us writers need: Readers. We need readers to cheer us on, offer a counterpoint and advice, share our musing with others, suggest article ideas, and connect us with the world. We need you! This is why I blog!

 


 

I hope you’ve grown to understand why we bloggers do what we do. I hope you’ve seen that our takes on blogging are as diverse as we are. Maybe you’ve even a little inspired. The blogging world is a pretty friendly place, ready to offer advice and support. Feel free to comment on any of our blogs and ask questions! Thanks again for reading!

Guest Posts:

Heather FitzGerald

Deanna Brown

Raelea Hiller

Josh Magill

Rob Akers

Quote of the Weekend

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“Mrs. Begley’s son once said of his mother, Something in her had been broken, and when he said this I had thought, The ones who were killed were no the only ones who’d been lost.”

- The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters Under the Bed (Part 7)

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Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Blue goo spouted from Rachel’s gun. It splattered the monster freezing it half way to the boy, mouth-hand extended. The boy jerked his feet under him and turned back to Lauren unusually calm. Most children didn’t give a many mouthed monster just a cursory glance…most children weren’t still awake when they came calling.

Ripping her tablet out of her pocket, Rachel punted the sealed monster out the window and marked it. She bent over Lauren.

“Not good, not good,” Lauren said through gritted teeth.

“Get me some light,” Rachel hissed at the boy.

He dashed to a desk lamp and flipped it on spilling light over Lauren’s trembling body. Rachel jerked her night vision goggles off. She wanted to see Lauren’s wound in real colors not the night vision glow-in –the-dark green. Soft-as-spring white scales crawled up Lauren’s arm from the wound and down her wrist to her fingers. They grew up out of the skin one at a time and popped into place under the previous scale.

“Rachel,” Lauren whispered.

“Yes, Lauren, yes,” Rachel said bending over her sister. Tears blurred her vision. Was this it? Was Lauren’s name going on the wall in the Hall of Heroes?

“Get the silencer before we wake up the house. It hurts and I might need to say something bad.”

Rachel hiccupped. She smiled. A bite wasn’t going to take her brave sister that fast. She pulled out the Silencer and gave the room a quick shot of it. A red beam flashed over the room and muffled all outside noise.

“We should put a tourniquet on that?”

“A what?”

“I saw it on YouTube,” the boy said brushing his black hair out of his face.

“What does it do?”

Her phone rang.

“It’s Sam,” Lauren groaned.

The boy jumped up and rushed to his closet. Throwing open the door he grabbed an old leather belt that looked like it probably came with a pair of uncomfortable Sunday slacks. Rachel watched him while she answered the phone.

“What’s going on? Why aren’t you back with Tom?”

“Lauren got bit by one of the bed monsters . . . and the boy in the room was awake.”

“What? Did he see you?” Sam said so loudly both the boy and Lauren heard him.

“No, we’re hiding in the closet,” Lauren said.

The boy smiled.

“Of course he saw us,” Rachel said. “He’s putting a turn-something on Lauren’s arm.”

“A tourniquet? Why??”

“She’s growing scales.”

“Scales?”

“That’s what I said. I’ll send you a picture. We’re gonna need an extraction.”

Sam switched from incredulous to doing his job. “On it. Get that tourniquet on, and bring the boy with you. We’re gonna need to debrief him. I’ll get Rob and Dee.”

“Reading you loud and clear. Thanks Sam. Over and out.”

Rachel hung up the phone. The boy gently lifted Lauren’s arm and slid the belt under it above the wound. Lauren took in a sharp breath. Rachel gripped her other hand. The boy tightened the belt as tight as he could and tied it by tucking it through itself in the back. The popping scales s l o w e d and stopped.

“Get over there by the window. Our extraction team should be here in a second,” Rachel said to the boy.

“What about her?”

“I’ll get her.”

“You’ll need help.”

Rachel glared at him.

“Let him help,” Lauren said. “You get the team in.”

Rachel searched her face and nodded. She hurried to the window, whipped back the curtain, and phoned the extraction team.

The boy grabbed Lauren’s good arm. He hooked it around his shoulder and pulled her to her feet. The room swayed, but the boy kept a tight grip on Lauren and she didn’t fall.

“What was in that bite?” Lauren muttered.

“Something not good, I imagine,” the boy said. He maneuvered her through the minefield of GI Joes, army men, and a few Legos. Three lights shined in the window blinding them for a moment. The boy blocked the glare with a raised arm.

“Someone order an extraction team?” A cocky voice asked.

“Someone named the Best Team of the Year, perhaps?” said a snarky voice.

“Someone who thought they would never need us?” said a third very-pleased-with-themselves voice.

“I hate the extraction team,” Lauren whispered trying to see through the wild curls in her eyes.

Rachel brushed them out of her face.

“Thanks.”

“Come on, we’re not getting any younger,” the snarky voice said.

“Take Lauren first, she’s wounded,” Rachel said. She helped the boy edge Lauren closer.

The lights dipped down letting them see their rescuers. Three teens with large black jet packs grinned at them. Wild hair, wild jewelry, and wild clothes plus their age set the extraction team apart. Most agents their age had been retired or put to work behind a desk. Not these three. The extraction team had been a staple of the Agency for ten years. Rumor was that Carmichael had promised them they could keep their job until they slipped up.

Rave, with his shaved head, took Lauren in his arms and zipped off into the night towards where Tom kept the car running. Remington grinned. He pulled his long hair back in a pony-tail held out his hand to the black-haired boy.

“I’m not being carried.”

“Can you fly?”

The boy looked down at the ground. “Better yet,” he said. “I’m not going.”

Rachel pointed her Super Soaker at him. “Either go or be taken. I don’t care. I want to make sure my sister’s okay and you’re holding me up.”

The boy stared at the gun and gulped. He climbed out the windowsill and let Remington carry him off.

“Good work,” Remy said reaching for Rachel.

Rachel flicked her jet pack on and shot out the window. The clean-up crew swarmed over the house making sure the monsters were picked up and the family stayed sound asleep until they were ready for them to wake up. Rachel hooked herself to Remy’s pack and let the older girl guided her back to Tom. Worry for Lauren crowded her mind. Would she be okay? Would she have to deal with lasting effects? What had bit her? What about that boy? What would they do with him?

Her phone rang. It was Sam.

“What?”

“Tom had to leave. Lauren’s worse. He had to bring her back now. Remy will get you home ASAP.”

Rachel looked down between her dangling feet. Sam was right. Tom was gone.

“Hurry, Remy.”

“Cut off your pack,” she said.

Rachel followed her direction. Remy pulled her close and thumbed her nitro tanks. They shot off in to the night headed straight for the Agency.

Please be okay, Lauren, Rachel prayed. Be okay.

Extraction Team: The Oldest Special Agents

Extraction Team: The Oldest Special Agents

 

Guest Post: Rob Akers on Blogging

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Rob, with only mild kicking and screaming, agreed to be the last guest blogger talking about why they blog. I can understand the fear of being the last one in a row of excellent writers, but I trusted Rob and that trust wasn’t unfounded. On his blog, Rob shares personal thoughts, which are always amusing, and he also shares the story of his time in the Middle East. I found Rob through a mutual respect for our men and women in uniform and have enjoyed reading his posts. Now he’s asked me to do the first Alpha Reading on his novel. I have his permission to bleed all over it. I took him at his word.  He may regret it later, but it’s too late for that!

Rob is a husband and father residing in Culloden, West Virginia. An airline pilot by trade, he served twelve years in the West Virginia Air National Guard at the rank of Major. He deployed to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan among other foreign nations and earned multiple medals including three Air Medals, four Aerial Achievement Medals and two Meritorious Service Medals. He is a freelance writer for the Putnam Herald-Dispatch and the online magazine The Magill Review. He hosts his own blog and has been published in a collection of works including the Words for Warriors Project. He is working to complete his first fictional novel.

Check his work out!

Next week will be the last installment of this series where I will talk about why I blog. But for now, enjoy Rob’s thoughts.


 

Hey Y’all,

If you are thinking that the usual link to Abby’s Gentle and Quiet World took you to a strange place, don’t be alarmed. This is only a temporary phenomenon that will soon be replaced again by the quiet and wonderful musings of the beautiful soul that is Abby. Unfortunately, Abby made a poor decision; she invited me to take control of the airwaves for the day. Let the record state that she approached me, offering me a seat at the motherboard of one of the most wonderfully peaceful places on the internet. Initially, I declined the invitation. But she persisted and we all know how a persistent woman can get what she wants. Is that called preaching to the choir or saying it like it is?

Abby told me that she wanted a man’s perspective on blogging. I always welcome comments from a professional and Josh is the walking embodiment of a professional writer. But Josh likes to wear those little biker shorts while pedaling his mountain bike in the hills of Colorado. I know from experience that it is really tough to be a man while wearing spandex. That is what my friends said when they caught me walking down Bourbon Street, dressed in a fishnet shirt and biker shorts. My friend, Mercedes kept calling me “En Fuego.” I still don’t know what that means and this is a story that I probably should cut short.

My point is that I refused Abby’s request to write this article because I didn’t want to be responsible for leaving man smell in the boutique. She said that potpourri and candles work wonders. Then I asked what does an audience of respectable women want to hear? She said just to be myself and we all see where that took us. I asked what could possibly go wrong. She said that y’all would immediately know that my wife is a lady of honor, full of the Spirit, compassion, integrity and that you would bless her soul. Out of excuses and ideas, I took a double dose of testosterone, a cycle of steroids and a shot of Five Hour Energy before I summoned up the courage to say yes. Ladies, strap in tight and hold on because we are going behind the curtain.

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The topic is why do I blog? The easy answer would be because I have something to say. But that isn’t true. I don’t feel like I have to express myself to be happy and complete. In fact, I prefer to sit out of the spotlight and throw verbal rocks at those in the public eye. In times past, I served as an Air Force pilot. Returning from the Middle East, my wife and another lady were interviewed by the local news station while they waited for us to land. They agreed to allow the cameraman to follow them, record the reunion and then interview my friend and myself for the nightly news. When I stepped off the airplane, my wife ran up and gave me a huge hug and kiss. I didn’t mind that by the way. Out of the corner of my closed eyes, I felt the presence of a stranger.

I came unglued yelling at the cameraman and reporter. I told them that they were not allowed to film me and if they didn’t turn off the camera immediately I would break it. As I remember it, the words came out a in a hostile tone smothered with inappropriate language. I have embarrassed my wife before and since but the possibility of being filmed never entered my mind as the ideal start to the reunion. They did stop filming us and walked away. My friend and his wife had center stage for the one minute segment on the local news station. It turned out to be very cheesy, we all laughed later. The moral of this story is that I really don’t want to be on TV. I really don’t want to write for the local newspaper, I don’t want to be a blogger and I don’t want to be famous. I could be perfectly happy living a quiet life, staying in my little cocoon, raising my kids, working nights for my airline, watching TV during the day, doing fantasy football and never venturing out into the public arena.

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Why would anyone do something they don’t want to do? I am a seasoned veteran of life having lived out all seven of the deadly sins to their fullest extent. All I learned after twenty years of excess is that the allure of sin nearly turned me into a dead beat, ex-husband. Fortunately, my wife is a lady of extreme forgiveness and understanding. In the last ten years, I have tried to replace hate with love. It is a hard way to live and I am by no means a finished product. But I began to recognize that love is the path to true happiness. It is the path to forgiveness and to healing. When my life came crashing down, someone told me the secret. The Bible verse Matthew 22:37-40 held the key behind my future life and to my blogging/writing career. I urge you to read it for yourself, I interpret it to say; Love God with all you got and love every human on the planet the way you would like to be loved.

I don’t write for me, I write for others. If you read my blog you might think the main goal of my writing is to write stories about my life in the Middle East. But those stories are for my kids. They are too young to understand today but they should know about the guy that would become their dad. I occasionally write about the novel that I am working on. But the purpose of that novel is to honor the men and women who keep us safe and to serve as a fictional example of how we should deal with evil. That answer is with Love, by the way. I write for the local newspaper. But the articles I write tell the story of the local community in a way that honors and encourages us all. I write for The Magill Review but I write to bring a different perspective that goes much deeper than what we would find in any mainstream news publication. I accept invitations to do guest articles on friend’s sites. But that Abby invited me in and gave me the run of the place. Sometimes smart people do dumb things. Ha Ha!

I am still the same fun loving guy that is documented in the stories above. But now the lenses that I view the world are colored by love. Yes, I still like my music loud and inappropriate. Yes, I am prone to an off color comment in the wrong company. I do get a kick out of the look I get when I say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong people. I don’t enjoy the elbow from my wife and her reminder that I am out of control. But I can’t help if people don’t get my extremely sarcastic, gallows worthy humor. I built a reputation and an aviation career on the fact that if you give me an inch, I will take a mile.

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I will leave you with this. When you come across the guy or gal who doesn’t quite fit in with what is going on in your world. Don’t be surprised if they throw out an unsuitable comment that hangs in the air like a floater in the punch bowl. Just redirect them like you would your five year old. But sometimes you can’t stop a guy like me because his mission to bring a shot of reality to your life. There is a chance that he is doing it because he likes rattling the cage or maybe he is doing it because he wants you to have a greater appreciation of your husband. In either case, never let him know he is irritating you because that is the best form of encouragement. Sometimes all you can do is accept him because even a knucklehead needs love and acceptance. And sometimes, your example can teach that knucklehead to love and accept others. We are all works in progress and when given a chance, that scoundrel might turn into someone that you can trust when life veers off the tracks and will surprise you with a wonderfully positive outlook when times are tough.

I want to thank Abby for the invite and access to all you wonderful folks. Once again she proves that she is a lady that walks the walk. At my heart, I am a writer of fiction. One of the stories I told is 100% true and the other is complete fiction created at 01:30 AM. Choose wisely.

On my site, I always sign off with this phrase: Until next time, keep on rockin. I truly hope there is a next time because I have enjoyed the trip behind the curtain. I hope you did too. Faith, Hope and Love to all.


I think Rob’s article was the most interesting of all my guest posts…if that’s the right word. ;-) Actually, I really enjoyed the fact that he took the more humorous point of view. Again, we see another take on blogging, and we get some good advice: Write for others. Josh said this same thing in his article. Notice the beauty of writing? Josh said it one way while Rob said it another, both made a good point. We are here to love and serve one another. Your blog should be no different even if the themes are as diverse as the guest posters I’ve featured this month. Thank you for reading. Next week I’ll answer the question as our last article on the issue.

Check out the other Guest Posts here:

Heather FitzGerald

Deanna Brown

Raelea Hiller

Josh Magill

 

 

 

Quote of the Weekend

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“So we cannot go there with them. All I think I can say, now, with any degree of certainty, is that in one of those rooms, on a particular moment of a particular day in September 1942, although the moment and the day will never be known, the lives of my uncle Shmiel and his family, of Samuel Jager, my grandfather’s brother, the heir to and rebuilder of the business that t the cautious matrimonial intermingling of those generations of Jagers and Kornbluhs had been designed to enhance, a man who wrote a certain number of letters between January and December 1939, a woman who was very warm, very friendly, a forty-seven-year-old father of four girls, a natty dresser and a bit of a big shot, too, in the small town where his family has lived, it seems, forever, a young girl who was still very much a baby, to whom a seventy-eight-year-old man living in Sydney, Australia, will recall that he once said Hallo, Bronia! over a fence, a man, a woman, a child who have been forced by this point, to live with the knowledge that their third daughter, her older sister, a sixteen-year-old girl whom the father had named to perpetuate the memory of his darling sister who had died, it would one day be intoned, a week before her weeding, was shot to death at the edge of an open pit; an uncle, aunt, and cousin who at that moment, the moment at which he and then they hear, perhaps, the strange hiss begin, have a niece and a cousin whom they have never met but whom he has mentioned, politely, in a few of those letters (I say goodbye to you and kiss you, and also dear Gerty and the dear child, from me and also from my darling wife and children to you and all the siblings too), a niece who lives in  the Bronx, New York, a pretty blond eleven-year-old with braces who, in the first week of September 1942, has just entered the sixth grad (just as her future husband, then thirteen, so much of whose family would be lost to narrative, was just entering the eighth grade, where he played with a boy whom everyone called Billy Ehrenreich, which was not his real name but after all he lived upstairs with the Ehrenreichs, a refugee from Germany who would sometimes say to my father that had fours sisters from whom he’d been separated and whom, he said, he’d “lost”, a word that my father, just a boy then, couldn’t quite understand)–in that room, they had eventually to breathe the poisoned air, and after a period of minutes the lives of Shmiel Jager, Ester Schneclicht Jager, and Bronia Jager, lives that will, many years hence, amount to a collection of a few photographs and a few sentences about them, She called him the krol, the king, she was very warm, very friendly, she was just a baby, playing with her toys, these lives, and many others things that were true about them but which now can also never e known, came to an end. “

-A paragraph from The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

(I thought this paragraph captured the sense of lives just cut off by the Holocaust. I also found it interesting that this whole paragraph is only two sentences. I’ve read few writers with as many long sentences and Daniel Mendelsohn.)

Texas Cousins Adventure: Here there be Dragons (Part 4)

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Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

Spread out under the big Texas sky, seven cousins waited with bright eyes and perked up ears to see if they were safe or dragon dinner. Aunt Abby took her time settling in on Auntie Janet’s quilt. First, a drink of cool water, then she fixed Ellie’s hair, kissed Imogene, growled at Bruce, hugged Jules, seriously examined Joshua’s cars and trucks, tidied Constance’s braid, and at last, after spinning Jude through the air, sat down.

“Aunt Abby,” Jules said. “What about the eyes glowing in the dark.”

“Blue and green,” Imogene said.

“And Max,” said Ellie.

“I’m carrying him,” said Bruce holding out his hands cupped together.

“He’s so cute,” Constance said pretending to pet Max.

“Boys aren’t cute!” Joshua, Jude, and Bruce said all together.

“Well, we better start the story,” Aunt Abby said.

“Once upon a time…”


 

“Who dares to enter my chamber?” a deep, dark voice said.

“Well, it’s really more our chamber,” said another voice.

“Oh right, sorry,” said the deep dark voice sounding less deep and dark. It cleared its throat while the green eyes blinked away and then reappeared. “Who dares to enter our chamber?”

“Quick!” said Max. “Make animal noises. It’ll frighten them away.”

“No it will—” the dark voice started.

Quick as a whip, Constance started making a high-pitched, very demanding guinea pig squeak. It echoed through the cavern. Max shone just enough for all six of her cousins to turn and look at her. Joshua laughed and began barking like a dog. Jules meowed loudly like a very annoyed cat. Ellie trumpeted like an elephant. Imogene cawed like a crow. With each noise, Max glowed brighter and brighter. Bruce growled like a big lion and Jude mooed like a big angry bull.

“I’m not cawing like a crow,” Imogene said.

“Oh, you’re not?” Aunt Abby said.

“Yes, I am,” she said with a smile.

Aunt Abby shook her head.

“I sound like this,” Bruce said with a wild growl.

“Very good. You sound very big and brave.”

Everyone clamored to make their animal noise as big and brave as possible. It took several demonstrations.

The chamber vibrated with the sound of wildlife. Max’s blue glow shined. Suddenly, a scaled, smoking, green nose stuck right into the circle of light.

“Enough!”

The cousins shrieked and huddled together.

“Must you really be so loud? The eggs are sleeping, you know,” said another nose, this one a sky blue, appearing in Max’s blue circle of light.

“Wait! Eggs!” Jules said.

“Do you have Alchemist and Oceana’s eggs?” Bruce said stepping forward and holding Max high.

The light from the glowworm reflected off the green and blue scales of the two dragons somewhat smaller than Alchemist and Oceana. Their wings were not quite as wide and their heads were rounder and less pointy.

“Who are you?” asked Constance.

“Us?” said the green dragon. “Why I’m Cosmos and this is Zephyr.”

“Do you have their eggs?” Jules demanded stomping one foot.

Jude rushed to Bruce’s side raising one eyebrow in an intimidating glare.

“We’re here to rescue them,” said Joshua.

“It’s not nice to take people’s eggs,” said Imogene.

“We’re not afraid of you,” said Ellie.

Cosmos and Zephyr stared down at the line of seven brave children, who despite being smaller than them, much smaller, still courageously tried to help the parents waiting outside the cavern.

“Why should you be afraid of us?” said Zephyr. “We wouldn’t hurt you.”

“You wouldn’t?” Jules said with a frown. “Then why’d you take the eggs? Aren’t you bad?”

The others nodded and growled in agreement.

“Bad? Us?” Cosmos said. “No. These are our cousins. Alchemist and Oceana are our uncle and aunt. We brought the eggs in here to protect them from the evil boy who was throwing rocks at them. When we stepped in here we got trapped.”

“Then why’d you use your scary voice?” Imogene asked.

“Because we didn’t know you were seven brave children. We were afraid you were that mean boy again.”

Someone in the deep part of the chamber where Max’s light couldn’t reach laughed. He laughed a big, evil laugh.

“Mwahahahahah! Mwahahahahah!”

The cousins hurried to the dragons huddling around their knees. Cosmos and Zephyr turned to face the laugh protecting the eggs behind them.

“Now I have all of you right where I want you,” said the laugher. He stepped into the light.

The cousins gasped. He was the biggest little boy they had ever seen. Twice as tall as Bruce with black hair and a snarling face.

“Give me the dragon eggs!”

“Never!” shouted Cosmos.

“They’re not yours.”

“They will be mine!”

Jules counted heads. “Bruce,” she whispered. “There are seven of us and only one of him.”

Bruce counted heads. He nodded. Very carefully he set Max on Cosmos’ shoulder. “Jude, count to three.”

“Jude can’t count yet,” Bruce whispered.

“In the story he’s a little older,” Aunt Abby whispered back.

“Am I older?” Bruce said.

“Older and a little taller.”

“Me too?” Jules said.

“Yes you, too.”

“One. Two. Three,” Jude said.

“Charge!” shouted Ellie.

Constance, Joshua, Jules, Ellie, Bruce, Jude, and Imogene rushed the big, bad boy. They knocked him over onto the floor, kicking and punching him.

“Animal noises,” Max said.

Growling, barking, mooing, squeaking, meowing, cawing, and trumpeting filled the chamber.

“I surrender. I surrender,” moaned the bad boy who didn’t seem so big anymore.

“Huzzah!” shouted Cosmos in triumph.

“Hip, hip, hooray!” said Zephyr.

“We did it!” said Bruce.

“Hurry, we need to take the eggs back to Oceana and Alchemist!” Jules said.

Cosmos and Zephyr took the bad boy by the arms. Jules and Constance grabbed up one black egg, while Imogene and Jude gathered up the other one. Bruce took Max back to light the way while Ellie and Joshua kept an eye out for any other bad children who might spring from the shadows. Max led them out by a different tunnel even the young dragons could pass through. They reached the cave entrance where they had to come through in cousin pairs instead of sibling pairs and stopped.

“How do we get out?” Ellie asked.

“Just asked the cave nicely to open,” said Max. “It’s always better to try being polite first before breaking things.”

“They weren’t polite to me,” grumbled the bad boy.

“Because you, sir, were already being bad,” Max said glaring at him. Turning to everyone else he said, “Now dear friends, I must remain here in the cave. The outside world with all its sunshine is no place for a glowworm. Come visit any time.”

Bruce set Max on a little ledge in the cave walls. Each of the girls kissed him on his cute little head.

“Off with you now,” he said gently.

“Mr. Cave sir,” Jules started. “Please open.”

“What if it’s a girl?” Constance whispered.

The Cave opened wide, wide enough for even Cosmos and Zephyr to get out.

“I guess it was a boy,” Joshua said with a smile.

Oceana and Alchemist rushed forward with shouts of joy. They took their eggs and resettled them in their nests before kissing and hugging their nephew and niece.

“You two,” Alchemist said staring down at the bad boy who looked even smaller out in the sunlight, “take this boy home to his parents, and tell them the trouble he’s in.”

Cosmos and Zephyr told the seven cousins from Texas good-bye and marched the bad boy off into the forest.

“Well children, it’s time I take you home to your own beds,” Alchemist said.

“We can never tell you how grateful we are for all you’ve done,” Oceana said. She kissed each of the cousins on the head, even the boys.

“Now! Home,” Alchemist said. He gathered the children on his back, and, with a few beats of his mighty wings, took to the sky.

The door to their room opened quietly. Outside Jules’ window the street light still shone in the warm night. The cousins all kissed Alchemist nose in farewell and climbed into their respective beds and sleeping bags.

“I’ll leave you each seven pieces of paper with a door drawn on them. If you ever need me and my help, all you must do is tap the door with your finger and say my name. I will come on swift wings.”

They all quietly hugged Alchemist again as they soberly accepted the drawings of vine-covered doors with dragon doorknobs.

“Sleep well,” Alchemist whispered and disappeared.

The seven Texas cousins stared up at the ceiling each silent, thinking, none of them sleeping.

Suddenly Ellie sat up with a wide grin. “That was awesome.”

Laughing, they all agreed.


 

“The end!” said Aunt Abby.

“That was awesome,” Bruce said. “We took down that bad boy.”

“Yes, we did!” said Jules emphatically.

“We got Oceana her eggs back,” Constance said.

“We’re heroes!” Joshua exclaimed leaping to his feet and swinging an invisible sword.

Jude and Imogene joined him in the pretend sword fight squealing and laughing.

“Tell us another one,” Ellie said.

Aunt Abby groaned. “Don’t you ever get tired of stories?”

“Nope.”

The End

 

This is Jules and her Jaguar. Behind her is the picture of a dragon that I drew for her sparking this story.

This is Jules and her Jaguar. Behind her is the picture of a dragon that I drew for her sparking this story.

Constance and Joshua!

Constance and Joshua!

One of my favorite faces!

One of my favorite faces!

Jude, our littlest man!

Jude, our littlest man!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Imogene testing out her first lemon.

Imogene testing out her first lemon.

Bullet to the Head, Homefront, and Escape Plan

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Bullet to the Head

I wasn’t going to even dignify Bullet to the Head with a review, but sometimes it’s just as helpful to think about what I didn’t like as what I loved.

Bullet to the Head is an action flick featuring my favorite, Sylvester Stallone. Many of you might be tempted to think this movie is bad due to bad acting, but I’ve watched enough of Stallone to know he does just fine with his action flicks and he can play even deeper characters, which I think is evident in Rambo First Blood, Rambo (4), and Rocky. Sure, he’s not as diverse as Bruce Willis, but that doesn’t make everything he does bad. I think what we had here was just plain, old, terrible story telling.

The first problem this movie had was its inability to decided if it wanted to be a dark serious movie or a cheesy action flick. Because it couldn’t make up its mind, it was neither. It failed to deliver the cheesy lines with any sort of cheese making them feel stilted and odd. The action wasn’t over the top or continuous–both hallmarks of a good cheesy action flick. At the same time it acted like it had a complicated plot more along the lines of an intense thriller. If it had been an intense thriller it could have thrown out the cheesy lines and played up it’s dark, realistic feel. If it had been a cheesy action flick it would have been way more fun and enjoyable. Instead, it tries to walk between the two and comes across as a bit strange all the way through.

It’s first few opening minutes are very confusing as you have cops undercover acting like drug dealers and you have hit men dressed up like cops only to find out they’re not along with the introduction of several characters without any explanation leaving the viewer to pull out their hair as they try to keep up with who’s who and why they care.

The dialogue was just bad. At one point Stallone’s character accuses his partner of being annoying when he wasn’t being annoying at all. This happened regularly. Lines were delivered with no story to back up their intensity.

The basic plot of the movie is similar to Tango and Cash. But, instead of two cops with opposite personalities forced to work together, you have a hitman and a cop. Great idea! Get Stallone in there and this movie looks like it could be so much fun. It’s not. Tango and Cash was fun because two men who hated each other had to learn to work together and in the end they became friends. This movie forces two actors with zero chemistry together and never resolves them. The hitman and cop never become friends. They save each others skin several times but they never respect each other. They don’t change. Neither man grows through this experience. Stallone doesn’t become a better person and the cop doesn’t become a better cop. They both remain stagnant throughout the movie.

Which brings me to the reason I hated this movie the most: no heroes. Action flicks are an exaggerated form of storytelling that focus on heroes. They’re kinda like more realistic or down to earth superhero movies. Think about Die Hard, Predator, Rambo, Commando, Terminator 1 & 2, Aliens 2. All these movies are about fairly everyday guys doing amazing things for the good and right. They are protecting their wives, their children, their men, and the future. They’re heroes. Exaggerated? Yes. But, that’s the point. That’s what makes them fun. Bullet to the Head had no heroes. Stallone’s character was a hardened criminal with no redeeming qualities and the cop was just really bland. Neither character inspired me or made me cheer. They both left a bad taste in my mouth.

So, if you were thinking about watching Bullet to the Head, don’t. It will only leave you wishing you could get back that 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Homefront

Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay for this movie and it stars Jason Stathem. Now for those of you thinking Expendables 2 off the bat, please remember that the Expendables series is designed to be as silly and cheesy as humanly possible. It is not to be taken seriously in any way. Stallone is a half-way decent storyteller who tells great warrior stories.

Homefront is about a DEA agent trying to settle down out in the country and raise his daughter after his wife dies, but his past comes back to haunt him and he is forced to violently protect his family.

This movie is less of a cheesy action flick and more of a good hero/warrior story. Don’t go into it expecting lots of Jason Stathem moves like Transporter. Oh, he does have a few good fights, but this movie is more about developing his character, his relationship with his daughter, and the dark underside of the small town where he lives.

If you know that going into it, the movie is a lot more fun. It reminded me of the first time I saw Rambo First Blood.  I totally expected to see a movie more like Rambo 2. Rambo First Blood is a serious piece of drama, not a cheesy action flick. While Homefront isn’t really serious drama, it was a good film. Also, Kate Bosworth does an amazing acting job.

This movie does center around the drug industry and has one completely useless and inappropriate scene. Other than that, there is just the normal intense violence and some language and obviously drug use. Homefront did a much better job than Bullet to the Head of balancing the action of the movie with the dark/thriller/realism of its subject. It also supplied the viewer with a hero.

 

Escape Plan

And now for complete cheese. Arnold and Stallone play two men trying to escape from a prison. One is innocent and the other isn’t so innocent, but they work together to escape from an inescapable prison. This movie is nothing but cheese and was pretty fun for what it was. If you go into it expecting nothing, you’ll probably like it. I enjoyed it just because it was exactly what it was: old man Stallone and old man Arnold in a movie together.