’23 & Me

Happy (Belated) New Year!

It’s been so long since I’ve posted, there have been two.

I didn’t celebrate western New Years and unfortunately couldn’t do anything for Chinese New Year this time either. There has been entirely too much going on, and we are still recovering from the Holidaze. Our Xmas tree was trimmed down a bit this year with a new cat that likes to climb things, but it did survive the twelve days of Christmas, and also hung around for twelve days of New Years while I procrastinated putting it away. Maybe next year we can add a glass ornament or two back on.

I’ve been working on a couple of things since last checking in on the blog. After the website crash, we found that not all of the posts in the backup file were able to be recreated, but we did find some alternate sources for all of them, including in the internet archive. Once we’re further along in bringing the old posts back I’m really going to have to throw a few coins to the Witchers over at the Wayback Machine for preserving them!

So in the first half of 23, I’m sending my editor the manuscript for the follow up to Counterfeit Collective and will start work on it again when I’ve received the edits. It may be about twice as long as the first collection, if most of the pieces I’ve written for it stay in. Besides that book, there are a couple of projects in gaming that should see some progress this year. One is a series of interlinked table top roleplaying campaigns, and the other is an indie video game concept I’m writing for.

It’s been challenging to keep moving forward with any creative impulse with everything else going on. Things are improving, but other things often come first. Once there is more to share about any of these projects and where you will be able to find them, I’ll post a more detailed update.

Wishing all a happy and prosperous new year!



This is a Regeneration Episode

Good morning!

Friday morning there was a critical failure and this website went down. Admin got it back up, but had to reinstall some very important things in the process. As a result, we’ve lost five years worth of blog posts and over seven thousand registered readers. We should get most of those back in due time.

So, this is a regeneration episode. Not as dramatic as the one my wife just watched while I was gaming, but an episode nonetheless. There was no viable back up for the site on our host’s servers (not their fault, that’s on me) nor was there a secondary backup in any of our external file storage places. Fortunately, I did download a back up fairly recently, so recovering the old posts and user data should be possible. This place will be under reconstruction for at least a little while. Old posts should begin resurrecting themselves sometime this week, and I’ll look over them as they come up, if some are corrupted, or break anything, or are just wonky in some way, I’ll just delete them and try again. 

In other news…well, there really isn’t any news from me at the moment, but I am preparing to flee Twitter along with several million of my closest total strangers, acquaintances, and friends. I’ve started a Mastodon account to check that out, and so far I like it. It’s doubtful I’ll host my own instance here, but it is nice to know that it is very possible to do that. For now, I’m @phantasmagician over there.

I hope all of you have a happy Thanksgiving!

May the Force be with you.

Striking Thoughts

“Pride is a sense of worth derived from something that is not organically part of us, while self-esteem is derived from the potentialities and achievements of self. We are proud when we identify ourselves with an imaginary self, a leader, a holy cause, a collective body or possessions. There is fear and intolerance in pride; it is insensitive and uncompromising. The less promise and potentiality in the self, the more imperative is the need for pride. The core of pride is self-rejection.”

–Bruce Lee

I keep coming back to this quote.

Bruce Lee is one of my idols. He was one of my inspirations to begin training in martial arts, and later–more importantly–the example I followed when trying to rehab my back injury. I needed his example when I was going through physical therapy in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2012. Not just his wisdom, but his embodiment of the possibility of overcoming that kind of injury to become an even better martial artist than before.

Back in high school, I was studying Tang Soo Do, Moo Duk Kwan, Fook Chin Kenpo and Kung Fu with a very good teacher. We went as a school down to El Paso for a tournament which turned out to be enlightening in more ways than one. I won some, lost some, watched the rest, met my future favorite kickboxer Cliff Magic Thomas and got his autograph. It was a good time.

When I was paying my dues the next week, one of the higher ranking students commented on some of the women we had seen at the tournament and expressed some dismay that several were dating black guys. “Do you believe in that?” he asked. “Believe in what?” was my thought at the time. That was when I started feeling like I didn’t want to be around that school anymore.

That experience has been repeated at times whenever I’ve come across someone that is prejudiced. I knew even back then that I did not want to associate with people who were like that. Many of the people I’ve distanced myself from were not necessarily raging bigots themselves, but they were all bigot adjacent in some way. They were either raised by racists or did associate with them and had their own attitudes warped by that xenophobic worldview.

The pride that Bruce Lee was talking about manifests itself in many ways in all of us, and in our society. I used to try to persuade people when we disagreed, but I’ve long since given up on that. Some can’t be persuaded, even when they are as wrong as they can be. It’s the pride factor. Some of us can never admit when we are wrong. Some of us are so dependent on external approval–or in being a contrarian– that even when it is proven that we were incorrect, we can’t change. If you took away the flag, the church, the political party, what is left? At their core, some don’t have much else.

How does this happen? I wish I knew. But as Lee pointed out, it may be that there is not much promise or potentiality in them. Many of us don’t excel in anything. The sheer numbers of people who aren’t the smartest, strongest, fastest, or most skilled in any area of expertise is stunning to consider. Some of us then struggle with self-esteem vs. pride in the ways we go through life. Some blame convenient scapegoats for all of their problems.

If someone didn’t reason their way into whatever opinion they have of something, they can’t be reasoned out of it.

It is times like these that I’m grateful for the different perspectives and view of history I’ve been exposed to through studying Kung Fu and Capoeira. It is helpful to consider some of the problems of today through the lens of what we know of our predecessors in history. The Boxer Rebellion, and all the political strife of China in those days, the realities of the slave trade and the roots of Capoeira in Brazil. In the book Capoeira: Roots of the Dance Fight Game, there are many tales of Capoeiristas from the old days and the troubles they faced.

It was all the same back in those days. Rich people exploiting others for profit, peasants doing whatever they had to do in order to survive, etc. Racism, sexism, homophobia, superstition, all of it essentially just as we see today. The modern world has made many advancements, but we have yet to update our software. People who haven’t studied these things won’t see that much of the propaganda today is just recycled prejudice from an earlier age.

They won’t know that a number of slaves in Brazil once earned their freedom by fighting–and winning–a war for their former masters. The song “Paranue” tells a part of this story.

“Paranauê! Paranuê, Paraná                                   “Paranauê! Paranuê, Paraná                
vou mi bora desta terra                                             I am leaving this land
eu aqui não volto mais paraná                                  Here, I’ll never return, Paraná
“Paranauê! Paranuê, Paraná                                    “Paranauê! Paranuê, Paraná 
eu aqui não sou querido                                            Here I am not loved,
mas na minha terra sou , paraná”                            But in my Land I am, Paraná”

This is one of the examples I like to point to whenever someone mistakes the art for a dance. Those who made it through this war credited their survival to training in Capoeira.

This episode of history shows that it has real world applications as well as the games that are played in Capoeira. There are many interesting characters throughout the history of the art, Besouro is probably the most famous. He was known for locking the police in their jails and escaping his own arrest a time or two.

One of my favorite historical Capoeiristas is Joao Francisco dos Santos. More popularly known as Madame Sata, his drag persona. He was an illiterate son of former slaves, and gay. He was a skilled street fighter, and became something of a legend for his battles with the police. It is said that he often fought bare handed against police patrols of four officers who were armed with clubs and won. There is a Brazilian film entitled Madame Sata released in 2002 that tells this story.

We don’t know what Madame Sata’s pronouns would be, because they lived from 1900-1976. A generation or two before pronouns became a thing.

All this has happened before. It is not a Hollywood production. It is not a conspiracy, or an agenda that is being forced on anyone. Humanity has always been this messy and diverse. There have always been people who refuse to do anything but be true to themselves. There have always been petty tyrants and cowards who try to rabble rouse and turn communities against people who live their lives in the way they choose.

For many years, I never understood why anyone would side with petty tyrants. Now I think I see one of the original, primal reasons. As noted earlier, some people don’t have much inside them once you take away their flag, their church, or any other external association they have in their lives. These people don’t have much of an individual character of their own. They are threatened by those who do. For such people, conformity is their comfort zone. When that is disregarded by others, they feel challenged.

It will be a while yet before we evolve past this. I believe we will, and sooner than many may think.

This individual will be working for the freedom of all. Like any good Capoeirista would.

The “Other” other story project

A few nights ago I printed out the first script of the story drafts of  another project I am working on whenever time allows. This is an A/V project that I hope one day to film and put out there. It has a diverse set of influences, so the project will involve an original Urban Fantasy storyline, some martial arts choreography, a design aesthetic inspired by Steampunk/Cyberpunk–but is neither, and  a few other experiments I’d like to see happen with special fx and drone footage.

This will be an Indie project, and I am hoping to be involved in every aspect of its development and production so I can learn as much as possible. One of the first steps I am going to take after finishing the next two scripts, is to show them to two of my old martial arts teachers who have both worked on multiple Kung Fu movies and get their opinion on what challenges we might face in realizing the vision for the story on screen. After that, I’ll be moving on to working out the specifics of some of the choreographed fight scenes I’ve been imagining, and commissioning some more high level concept art of some of the design elements that will be well beyond my ability to create.

For now it’s just one of the stories I am working on. When I take the binder with the first three episodes of the story to my advisers for feedback, it will start to become a much more ambitious project with multiple collaborators. I’m looking forward to that.

The story has been building itself in my mind for  a few years now. It has influences from Babylon 5, to the Dresden Files, Bruce Lee movies, Warehouse 13, and some very impressive Indie productions that made themselves look amazing with very little capital behind them. The quality of independently produced entertainment has skyrocketed in recent years. From DSLR cameras that can film cinema quality imagery, to special FX software that is more affordable than ever, effects that were very high end years ago can now be replicated at your house with enough time and effort. It’s an amazing time to be alive!

When it reaches the point that it is more than an idea I have in development at the hacienda, I’ll be sure to let everyone know. Whatever form the project takes, once it’s more than just me and the narrative of the story, it will get its own social media channels, website, and whatever else it needs to reach the audience that might enjoy it. Until then, it may be the subject of the occasional blog topic, because there is a lot that goes into realizing a story in film. One of my primary motivators in considering the idea was that there would be so much to learn, and the opportunity to collaborate with other artists in a variety of areas to realize the story in a multimedia format. That, to me, is inspiring. In this story I have much more to look forward to than just sitting alone in a room pouring words onto a page. There will be other people involved! I hope I remember how to talk to people that aren’t only in my head. That could help. 🙂

Now that I’ve blogged about it, I have to get back to writing the first draft of the next script and then get back to work on the second novel that is making itself difficult for me to finish.

Until next time, true believers!



Today is an empty box on the calendar. It’s Friday, which is great, but nothing is scheduled to happen today.

Things that are in the process of happening:

Writing the first of the final chapters in novel #2.
The Nook release of Hidden Leaves will be soon.
Ten poems are out on submission, five are ‘in progress’ in Submittable.
Three scripts are complete in another project. (Story drafts)

My first beta reader has read through all of my current manuscript and pronounced it good. She reads a lot of mysteries, and her comments were encouraging. It’s important to me that it works as a mystery, leaving aside the elements of the story that are more urban fantasy or paranormal. There will be a few more beta readers added after the manuscript is complete.

That’s it!

Time for more coffee and typing.

I hope everyone has a great Friday and an even better weekend.