L is for Love

Today’s A to Z writing challenge is the letter “L” for love. As I near the age of 53, my view of the world is different than it was at age 21. In my 20’s, my type of books or movies would consist of action and science fiction. I was more attracted to the special effects than to the story. What can I say – I was young! Nowadays I am more intrigued with the underlying personal interactions in a story. I tried reading a few young adult paranormal love stories – I truly did. If you are reading this blog consider “The Notebook” by Nichols Sparks. Although I haven’t read the story, the movie is fantastic as it deals with the maturation of people and their love. We see the passion filled physical nature of love, then the binding affects of love as life nears its end. A true love is never broken, regardless of the pains endured…never!

When we are young we are attracted first by the physical appearance. As we age, our love matures and our mate of choice almost becomes a part of us. We cannot stand to be apart for too long. However, short periods of time apart from each other are good for rekindling feelings. When we are young sometimes our love is defined by physical attributes and almost a dependence on another person. That dependence on the other person can lead to some poor choices that leave regrets. Some awaken to realize it was never love at all.

In my trilogy, “The Chosen One of Allivar”, I used my knowledge of my own marriage of 31 years and many that I have witnessed in family and friends to arrive at a plot for the love story that would develop between Arimar and Elissia. Although this trilogy deals with the battle between good and evil, love is a central theme and especially a love for others. Arimar has been chosen to free the beings of the seven races. In his task he is not allowed to love a woman until the completion of his task. Even though he is to be veiled for forty years, he has his first encounter at age seventeen with Elissia. By his young and foolish actions he brings pain and suffering to the world and to Elissia. Guilt ridden he contemplates suicide, not just for his action, but for the need of love. This is how many young adults face the world today. It is only at the wisdom of a beloved character that he finds the strength to endure another twenty three years of maturation.

As Arimar ends the first part of his journey, he is reunited with Elissia. Elissia almost immediately falls in love with him and cannot understand his lack of the same feelings. Arimar does indeed have the same passion, but his task is greater than himself and his needs. The task creates the plot of forbidden love. This forbidden love is tested on the second leg of the journey when Arimar is somewhat distracted in his attempt to keep Elissia alive.

In the final book Arimar’s purpose in life is tested to the very end, including keeping his emotions for Elissia secret. Many of the females who read the trilogy love the story, but found it difficult with regards to the plot of the forbidden love. They felt it would be difficult to continue to have interest in a man that constantly shunned their affections and intentions. With this in mind, I refer to a woman’s motherly instincts. At times a mother would sacrifice her life and separation from her spouse, to protect the life of a child. They would sacrifice all that they are for a greater purpose than their own life. Consider this as you read the story.

Love has many characteristics that we begin to see clearly as we mature.

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Hydrocarbon the Villain

As you may recall, I am a big fan of Monty Python. One of their movies, “The Life of Brian” has a scene called “What have the Romans done for us?” You can watch it here first before reading on.

So now that you have perspective, lets talk about the villain – hydrocarbon. Hydrocarbons are the chemical combinations that bring us oil and natural gas. But what has hydrocarbons ever done for us?

Gasoline
Plastics
Medicines
Fertilizer
Waxes
Solvents
Cosmetics
And so on and on…

My point is this – we vilify hydrocarbons today, but they are responsible for much of the industrial growth of the world and ability for mass food production. How we address the proper use of the remaining supplies for the truly important aspects is to be seen.

The chief complaint is the rapid release of CO2, Carbon Dioxide into our air and resulting climate change that greenhouse gases create. You should recall most of the CO2 had been trapped by vegetation millions of years ago by the natural process of photosynthesis. Also know that water vapor is the largest source of greenhouse gas. Photosynthesis is nature’s way of filtering our air. A plant takes in H2O and CO2 and release O2 (oxygen). So, you might want to get busy planting A LOT of vegetation.

And next time you get into a conversation about the petroleum industry, remember what it has done for you, and the world, and (sing and whistle along with me now) “always look on the bright side of life.”

Thanks Mom!

When bloggers comment on my posts, it always sparks the need to write a new one. One blogger asked, “How did you survive watching Tom and Jerry as a child and not become a serial killer?” This is due to all the violence in the world. The answer is clear; I was grounded in reality versus fantasy. I turn 53 in June, so I saw the world before it became so high-tech with “virtual” reality. We had a black and white television when I was a child and only thirty minutes of cartoon TV per day after school. We only had three television stations, not including PBS if you could get the reception with rabbit ears and tin foil. This is true, I swear. This is how I was able to be corrupted by Monty Python.

The rest of the time I was kicked out of the house by my mother to go play. My childhood was GREAT! I was allowed to be imaginative (unless it was dangerous). Kids met in the middle of the neighborhood (their moms kicked their butts out too) and we began to play. We played football, basketball, stick ball, popped wheelies on our ten-speeds, flipped out on skateboards, had water balloon wars, picked on GROSS girls, had sleepovers watching falling stars, played cards, etc, etc. We dug deep holes and covered traps, built tree houses, tore apart old things and tried to invent new things. We made plastic models of battleships and tanks in the winter, and blew them up with firecrackers in July. And guess what? We were thin, athletic and could deal with our elders. We did some truly stupid things to get GROSS girls’ attention and we wrote notes to GROSS girls like this one:

Will you go steady with me? Select answer below:

A. Yes
B. No
C. If B, please, puhleeze reconsider.
D. Pay no attention to things Susie said about me and select A
E. If B, get ready to be bombed by a water balloon or select A.
F. If B, I’ll ask Diane, your best friend, or select A to save your friendship.
G. Maybe

Nothing like giving a GROSS girl options to think about, since they are so complicated anyway. Now we guys always play like we are uninterested. It drives GROSS girls crazy. That was fun too, except when we landed on our backs trying to pop that truly knarly wheelie. Not cool!

Today too many people rarely experience the world except through their digital connections. They walk and look at their smart phones as the real world passes them by. These devices have become the babysitters of many parents, who are more interested in their own “time.” Too many have a distrust of their elders. Too many can only deal with the virtual world, where it is safe, controllable and almost risk-free of hurt feelings. My parents’ friends were more fun than mine. They loved life and being around people of all ages. At times GROSS girls I dated hated that I spent time conversing with their parents.

So as I look back at the times of my youth, I feel somewhat sad for today’s youth. You have been brought up in a period where every thought and action must conform to some sort of political correctness or psychological standard. Your sense of self-worth is dictated more by clothing, music, tattoos, implants, transplants, and gadgets. You have not been given the opportunity to see a world where your neighbors conversed and the neighborhood was the testing ground of your ability to deal with the world and the people in it. Most of the time I didn’t want to go back inside and ignored my calls from my mother. But when my dad whistled, like a tornado siren, I could have qualified for the Olympics 100 meter sprint.

So thanks, again, mom for kicking my butt out of the house. My wife continues that tradition as she tells me to mow the lawn.

By the way, my wife selected “A.”

Squirrel APB’s

I joke endlessly about the squirrel I actually killed while playing golf. It’s how I deal with the tragedy. Squirrels are amazing rodents. They taunt and haunt me. Many years ago while living near Dallas, TX a band of squirrels found a way into the eaves of the house and eventually into the wall crawl space. Now squirrels are over-sexed. They have sex three to four times a night in the wall crawl space – whilst keeping awake this king and his queen most of the night in HIS castle. So I had to do something about it because the spot where the rodents had found the way in was just big enough to poke their heads out and they would stare down at me. They were taunting me, “Now go away you silly kniggit, or I shall taunt you a second time!” (Image this sentence with an outrageous French accent.)

First, I bought fox urine, thinking the smell of their mortal enemy would scare them off. Now any urine smells, but fox urine…Holy Cow! You’d think the smell alone would evict the little rodents. It didn’t. I think it became an aphrodisiac for them.

Second, I bought humane traps and loaded them up with peanut butter. All this did was to empower the little rascals. They’d chatter on the roof top issuing All Points Bulletins (APB’s) on my latest trap. I swear some of those chatters sounded like laughter.

Third, I bought poison that supposedly they would ingest. That didn’t work either, just more APB’s were chattered (laughed) out.

Finally, I had to call animal enforcement and was given the go ahead to shoot the squirrels with a pellet gun. Yes, I had to shoot them; they were causing damage to the house and could spark an electrical fire. So the only place for me to gain an advantage was to set up a sniper position out of my son’s second story bedroom window and pick them off as they scrambled across the roof.

Do you know how odd it might appear to your neighbors when you are seen aiming with a rifle out a second story window? The first squirrel that came into my sight halted immediately stared at me and made a chatter that sounded a lot like “Oh Crap!” Well over a period of five weeks, the squirrel band of gypsies finally decided to move on. A few weeks later they were replaced with a hive of honey bees. It was my turn to yell, “Oh Crap!”

So next time you hear a bunch of squirrels chattering in your neighborhood, know that it could be an APB for author EW Greenlee and you might want to stay away from second story windows.

E is for Evil

Today’s A to Z writing challenge is the letter “E” which is for Evil. Evil means something different to just about everyone you discuss it with. For some it has a religious meaning, for others it does not. Now my grammar is horrible, so I researched the definition of evil a long time ago to learn its numerous meanings not only as a noun, but as an adjective. I also have to refresh what nouns and adjectives were. So here are the definitions:

Adjective
1. Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.
2. Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.
3. Characterized by or indicating future misfortune; ominous: evil omens.
4. Bad or blameworthy by report; infamous: an evil reputation.
5. Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.

Noun
1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.
2. That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: a leader’s power to do both good and evil.
3. An evil force, power, or personification.
4. Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice.

My trilogy, “The Chosen One of Allivar”, has at its basic theme, the battle of good over evil. It is not only the battle over ethereal powers, but the evil that resides in our minds towards others different than ourselves. Racial bigotry is evil. Bullying is evil. Sloth is evil. Greed is evil. The list could go on and on. The chief antagonist in my story is Haggarfuse, a Charafuse (an angel guardian of the light) who realizes he has power by being granted immortality. He sees himself at the same level as his creator – The Unseen. When he is directed to be a steward over mortals, he is insulted and evil is born. Before the Unseen created anything he pondered evil and its path. He made the decision that all his creations must be endowed with free will. In the end it is that will he hopes his creations will exercise and turn away from evil. This is the mortal dilemma – to do what is right.

When Haggarfuse fails his task he is transformed into a horrible creature (a Charamorg). His hatred leads him on the path to destroy all that the Unseen has created, including having direct influence over mortals to where nine of the ten heavenly worlds fall to utter destruction and the death of all living beings on them. For all my characters that represent evil, I wanted to make sure a reader was to be repulsed by their actions. By doing so, the reader will clearly pick sides and no gray line exists.

This theme is not new, but what makes my story original is the journey of self exploration. In the end, good and evil will battle and there will be a meaning conveyed in its conclusion. I love religion and philosophy, because it demonstrates how we humans deal with our own actions and mortality. I wanted as a writer to leave the reader with many provoking thoughts. For Allivar means “The One Family”, of which consists of seven different races. A messenger named Arimar is delivered to bring back the message, not by words, but by his actions of his own free will.

Defining Epic

A fellow author asked me via Twitter what made my trilogy epic. For a moment I paused. Did I truly understand the meaning of “epic”? I was inspired by “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Silmarillion” and “Paradise Lost”, which are all referred to as literary epics. But did I truly know the meaning? Here are the definitions of the word:

n.
1. An extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero.
2. A literary or dramatic composition that resembles an extended narrative poem celebrating heroic feats.
3. A series of events considered appropriate to an epic: the epic of the Old West.
adj.
1. Of, constituting, having to do with, or suggestive of a literary epic: an epic poem.
2. Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size:
3. Heroic and impressive in quality:

With this definition in mind, here is why my trilogy is definitely an epic tale.

It is an extended literary narrative for sure at approximately 273 thousand words. It covers the beginning and ending of time, so its scale and scope with regards to time is definitely epic. The story focuses on the trials and tribulations, and feats of an epic hero – Arimar.

The story surpasses the usual and ordinary. I have created, as had J.R.R. Tolkien, my very own mythology from the creation of my own imagination. This is not a spin-off nor a cleverly emulated story. I wanted to write something completely new.

This much I can promise you. The epic battle scene in “Last Stand of the Living” will rival any ever written. We have grown to expect epic drama whenever mortals and immortals clash.

F is for Flammable

To continue on with my A to Z blog writing challenge, we cover the letter “F”. “F” is for flammable. I was once a young budding rocket scientist testing out the explosive capabilities of various household fluids. For many guys, there is just something about the allure of watching something burst into flames. This is why today there are so many “blow-em up” movies. We are just revisiting our scientific youth.

My first experiment involved using a magnifying glass to incinerate ants. They burned of course, but didn’t explode or create even little mushroom clouds. Soon the entire bed of ants was in offensive mode and laid siege to my bare feet.

My next experiment was with rubbing alcohol and Blackcat fireworks. I used to build plastic model airplanes, tanks and battleships. Not to admire them on a shelf for that would be silly. No, they were used for military experimentation. Simply insert a couple of plastic army men, an ounce or two of rubbing alcohol, and light one Blackcat. Not only do you get an explosion and miniature fire, you get untold carnage and a backyard grass fire. It was cool but not cool at the same time. Now if you placed multiple Blackcats, you get flying flaming plastic shrapnel. THAT’S cool!

However, the final experiment with flammable fluids WAS NOT COOL. Let me set the scene. A friend and I were in my garage when a large Tarantula came innocently walking by. Of course, we wanted to see how a Tarantula burns so I poured just a small amount of gasoline on the spider. Well, that alone was enough to kill the mighty creature. Oh, but noooo, I just had to see it burn. So looking around feverishly for a match, I finally found one. I lit it and placed it on the spider. Problem was the gasoline had evaporated so no flame. So being a brilliant child prodigy, I open the gas can again and started to pour. It never dawned on me the match might still be lit. Well, guess what? It was and a huge flame flowed upward. I dropped the cylindrical shaped can and it began to roll out of the garage, spilling gasoline and laying down a trail of napalm. Oh, but wait…it doesn’t end here.

The can rolls under my parents’ Cadillac and wedges right under the engine with flames rising ominously from both sides of the car. Now my friend is running down the street with arms flailing in the air and screaming like a young girl. My neighbors are frozen and can’t move (early version of reality TV – I should have followed up on that one, but I digress). I’m on it and simply run to get the water hose to put out the fire. Fear of death? No – if I didn’t die getting the fire out my parents, who were inside taking a nap, would definitely have killed me. Luckily there was not too much gas in the can and it burned out quickly before the car could catch fire.

With all sincerity – never play with flammable fluids. I was lucky. In that instance, “F” was for FOOL. To this day I have a healthy respect for electricity and flammable fluids. Life is about learning from mistakes, if you are lucky enough to survive them. I cannot imagine a more horrible fate than death by burning. So please don’t be a fool like this pyromaniac blogger.