Saturday, August 19, 2017

Solar Eclipse Public Service Announcement


Monday, August 14, 2017

Wolf Hunter: A Short Story

What happens when you combine Norse mythology with Japanese manga? I'll let you decide.




Wolf Hunter
by Alan Loewen
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


My name is Vidar, the son of Odin.

You do not remember Ragnarok, the final battle between the Æsir, the gods of old, and the Jötnar, the forces of chaos. I remember it well.

I saw the cosmos destroyed and reborn and so very few survived. Then the Fates decreed the new world arising from the ashes would never remember the old. They changed the memory of mortals, even in dreams, so no evidence existed of the glory of Asgard except as tales for children.

Yes, I remember Ragnarok when god and giant slew and slew and the killing ended because there were no more to kill. The only survivors were myself, my brother, Váli, and Magni and Modi, the sons of Thor.

We had given ourselves up to the Fates, to let the Norns play out their cruel hand, but we have not died. We have watched the eons flow by us like water and, to our surprise and delight, Mjolnir, Baldr, and his brother Höd have been reborn. As Asgard now lies in uninhabitable ruin, the reborn have joined us in Idavoll.

Hod still stands gifted with prophecy and, some moons ago, he cast the wooden slips. They revealed to us that, as we have returned, the monsters will also someday return: Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, and the giants, Surtr and Garmr. And the divination has also revealed the ultimate cruelty of the Norns. Fenris the Wolf has already risen from Hel to walk Midgard once again.

At Ragnarok, I saw Fenris kill my father, Odin. In my grief and fury, I tore the wolf's jaws apart. Hod told me that Fenris was reborn in a far away land called Japan, so taking the guise of a mortal, I walked Midgard determined to kill the demon again.

This new land was strange. The people, the customs and their gods were peculiar and I tried my best to walk unseen. Yet, I delighted to discover the people in this island nation have an understanding of honor that I treasure.

Hod's prophecy and my oath led me like a beacon. In my inner self, I could sense Fenris lurking in this place. I could smell him. Having already killed him once; I was eager for the opportunity to kill him again.

Finally, in a busy city the people call Tokyo, my senses told me to sit in a park and wait. Taking my place on a bench I ignored the people walking by keeping my eyes on the park entrance where I knew Fenris would appear.

The moment I sensed him near, the old grief and rage drove me to my feet, but then I stopped in disgust and dismay.

A group of silly young girls had entered the park, giggling and laughing and blocking my view of the monster surely behind them. Yet, I could feel the demon wolf's presence as you mortals feel the hot summer sun on your skin.

It was when the Japanese school girls reached me, I realized the beast was in their midst. I clenched my fists and searched the group for it, but when it met my eyes, I froze in surprise.

And then I laughed. For the first time since I buried Father Odin so many millennia ago, I roared in my sudden knowledge that the Fates can be capricious to those who are evil as well as those who stand on the side of honor.

The dark eyes of a young school girl met mine filled with surprise at my outburst, passed over me in ignorance, and I watched her continue on her way.

I will not kill a child, no matter what her soul may have been in eons past. Maybe someday when she reaches adulthood, she may remember what she is, and if that happens, I will be ready.

Until then, I drink mead in Idavoll and I and my brother gods toast the Fates who we now know have a sense of black humor to temper the horror they weave of our lives.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Meet My Inugami


Courtesy of Hero Forge Custom Miniatures, I designed a 3-D image of my Inugami based on my description in The Shrine War and its sequel, The Inugami.

Depending on size and quality, I can purchase an unpainted figurine from $19.00 all the way to $219.00.

If you're a gamer, you can waste a lot of time at this website designing and playing about, but it sure is fun.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Is It A "Poisoner’s Cabinet" Or A Home Medicine Chest?

Imagine if you will that, having won the lottery, I used the monies to open a little museum of morbid curiosities. Allow me to show you the first exhibit:


This is quaintly known as a "poisoner’s cabinet" and when a German auction house made it available for bidding it was described as follows:
“A Hollow Book Used As A Secret Poison Cabinet. Historism, 17th-century style. With original, finely embossed parchment cover. Intact book clasps, the pages glued to a solid piece with a central rectangular cavity. The inside finely worked, providing eleven drawers of various sizes and one open compartment. The front of the drawers covered with colored paper and fitted with flame-carved frames, the knobs of silver and ebonized wood. Handwritten paper labels with the Latin names of different poisonous plants (among them castor-oil plant, thorn apple, deadly nightshade, valerian, etc.). Incl. greenish bottle bearing the label “Statutum est hominibus semel mori” (“It is a fact that man must die one day”). Glued to the inside of the cover an old etching of a standing skeleton bearing the date “1682”. Size of the book 36 x 23 x 12 cm [14.2 x 9 x 4.7 inches]. Elaborately worked Kunstkammer [cabinet of curiosities] object with strong reference to the memento mori [a reminder or warning of death] theme.” (Bookaddictuk, 2014) 
However, it may not have been all that it was advertised. The eleven cabinets were marked with names of herbs that were certainly poisonous, but they were also herbs used for medicinal purposes. The listed herbs are:
  1. Hyoscyamus niger (Henbane) 
  2. Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy)
  3. Aconitum napellus (Monk’s Blood, aka Wolfsbane)
  4. Cicuta virosa (Cowbane, aka Water Hemlock)
  5. Bryonia alba (Devil’s Turnip, aka Mandrake) 
  6. Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed, aka Devil’s Snare)
  7. Valeriana officinalis (Valerian)
  8. Daphne mezereum (Spurge Laurel)
  9. Ricinus communis (Castor Oil Plant)
  10. Colchicum autumnale (Meadow Saffron, aka Naked Lady)
  11. Atropa bella (Deadly Nightshade aka Belladonna) 
Aside from the Valerian, all of them are considered deadly, but in minute doses, they served as important medicines for serious illnesses.

So what do you think? A tool for the professional assassin or a convenient way to keep one's medicine cabinet close at hand?

(Note: Most information on this intriguing find was taken from this article.)







Thursday, August 3, 2017

My Road Trip - Day 344

I found this vignette by accident with some old computer files.

Some literary attempts were meant to be lost forever, but I was never that smart...



My Road Trip - Day 344
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



It's Day 344 of the road trip searching for Stauros, my long-lost twin brother who had been kidnapped at a young age by Amish gypsies. I had heard a rumor he was making a comeback on the Amish Rake Fighting Circuit and Pinto and I were heading out to Cleveland where we heard we could get into the secret Amish games if we dressed in suspenders and wore black hats.

Now, however, Pinto and I sat facing each other across a booth in some seedy greasy spoon named Joe's Armpit and I'm on my fifth bottle of vanilla flavoring.

"Well, Pinto," I said, "Ol' buddy, ol' chum, we just might be at the end of this quest." I downed the rest of the bottle and motioned for the waitress. As usual, Pinto, being the silent type, just sat in the booth across from me and stared at me stupidly. He was a man of few words, but had an overpowering presence, normally, because in the 344 days we had been together, I had never seen him once shower or shave.

The waitress came over. "Hey," she said. "I need to know if you're driving. You're hitting this vanilla pretty hard."

"Not to worry, pretty lady," I slurred. "My friend's driving."

She gave Pinto the once over. "Sir, you do realize your friend is a sheep?"

I reeled back in sudden anger. "Lady, I'll have you know Pinto and I have fought side by side against octogenarian Harley-Davidson riders and shared the same bunk in Baghdad! He ain't no coward."

The waitress rolled her eyes. "I didn't say he was a coward. He's a sheep. A Merlino. A woolly quadruped. Technically a ewe."

I pointed at Pinto and laughed. "Hey, Pinto! This pretty lady's got all metaphysical on me. She says I'm you!"

At that, Pinto rolled out of the booth and wandered away on all fours. I never saw him again.

The angst hit like a ton of bricks. "Well then just walk away!" I blearily screamed at his receding woolly backside. "Go ahead! Just ... walk away or ... trot or ... or whatever."

I burst into tears. "Ya think ya know a guy," I wept to the waitress. "You share everything, your toothbrush, your eyeliner, and then your best friend turns out to be a sheep and he leaves ya in some dive!"

The waitress looked at me, pity in her eyes. "Here," she said putting a bottle of vanilla flavoring in front of me. "This one's on the house, but you should know we only serve imitation here. There's not a drop of alcohol in it."

She turned and walked away.

I wrapped my fingers around the bottle, my knuckles whitening in my fury and determination. I was going on to Cleveland. I was going to find my long-lost twin brother.

Suddenly, the front door burst open and about twenty beautiful women somersaulted into the diner. They parted and another woman walked through their midst, her sequined cheerleading outfit blazing so brightly I had to squint against the glare.

"We are the Victoria's Secret Cheerleading Squad," she announced loudly, "and we're here to take a hostage!"

Every man's hand shot up and the diner was filled with cries of "Take me! I'm available!," but the pretty lady was having none of it. She saw me in my booth and pointed. "You!"

A blow from a pompom sent me into darkness.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Just a Reminder About Reviews and What I Can Do For You


Writing in relationship with today's Internet has brought about significant changes in the relationship between writers and readers. Though I make no bones about writing solely to entertain my readers, I would love to garner a larger audience as well as income from my writing.

 Please consider the following:
  • For any independent author a review is pure gold. The more 3 or 4-star reviews, the better. Five stars should be rare, kept for works of literature that have changed your life or outlook. If you have read any of my works, please post the review on Amazon and Goodreads. Please.
  • Are you involved in a family friendly non-profit or club like a church, library, literary group, women's group, writers group or anything similar? I'm a professional speaker and former radio personality and stage actor (and former stage magician). I know how to speak in public. I can do book readings, storytelling, or lectures on writing memoirs or self-publishing.
  •  I would love to speak at your convention or similar activity. I've spoken at many conventions in the past: Morphicon, Doxicon, Anthrocon, Capclave, and the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. And I once spoke at the Library of Congress!
  • Interview me for your blog! Linking to it from my own blog and other social media, I can increase your traffic flow.
Feel free to contact me at magic.by.alan@gmail.com and let's work out the details.