The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #151: The Five Elements (“Godai” or 五大) and the Imperial Rangers

Episode #151: The Five Elements (Godai or 五大) and the Imperial Rangers

https://archive.org/download/Podcast151_201807/Podcast%20151.mp3

After my brother and I finished the D and D campaign we’d been playing for the past few months, I started thinking about other elements of Thirteenth Hour lore that I’d largely edited out (mostly in the interest of brevity).  This episode is about the Imperial Rangers, the group of 8 special forces soldiers that are specially trained and tasked to find the answer to eternal life for King Darian IV, who nearly gets assassinated in the recent campaign.  While we know the most about Logan, the main character of the book, the others are also important despite having only brief mentions since they serve as contrasts. I did have other scenes planned that I ended up cutting, so the original idea of having each Ranger with a special ability fitting with their unique personality and physical makeup was only hinted at, never really fully developed.

In this episode, we use a bit of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism as an analogy for the explaining the different alignments the Rangers had. I’m not sure that’s what I had in mind when I originally wrote the story (the idea of different elements was definitely there, since it’s referenced in games like Ironsword and shows like Voltron and Captain Planet – I was familiar with those when I wrote the initial draft of the story at age 19.)  But the godai, literally “big five” from the Japanese esoteric tradition (referenced in texts like A Book of Five Rings) sums up what I was trying to convey more accurately.

Below you can see a quick sketch/watercolor showing the eight Rangers. Their names are color-coded to correspond to their elemental alignment. As you can see, there are five categories: earth, water, fire, wind, and void. There are plenty more details about this philosophy in the book Ninja: Spirit of the Shadow Warrior by Stephen K Hayes; however, here’s a quick rundown.

Earth personality qualities are stable, traditional, and rooted. Water is flowing, changeable, and reactive. Fire is energetic, driven, and explosive. Wind represents growth, freedom, and open-mindedness. Lastly, the void is any one of those four elements that best fits a particular situation and typically goes with creativity, imagination, and things in our experience that we understand intuitively but are difficult to explain – such as spirit, soul, and consciousness. There are more details in the episode about the individual qualities of each ranger and how he fits the elemental color coded in the picture, so I won’t repeat myself here. But the fifth element, often (somewhat problematically) translated as “the void” is the most abstract and amorphous, just like how in the book the fifth “corner of the world” was actually the dream world where the mysteries of life and death finally made sense. Logan is the only one of the eight to make it there and due to his particular makeup, is the one most aligned with the formless form that characterizes the void.

Ironically, as the youngest and physically smallest of the group, Logan ends up having trouble with much of the training and has to spend more time on basic skills than the other seven. As a result, he ends up never really having the time to pick up a specialty, though the flip side is that he actually becomes more well rounded at basic ranger skills than his teammates just due to repetition. I’d originally envisioned a ceremony scene where each ranger was presented with his weapon of choice based on his special talent (I guess the soldier equivalent of finding out one’s spirit animal), and Logan isn’t given anything, which disappoints him and gives his teammates yet another thing to tease him about. In the end, I ended up not including that scene (maybe it will become a short story one day), but the essence of it, that having a special sidearm was less important than utilizing one’s inborn gifts to their fullest potential, was hinted at in the book in a few conversations a confused Logan has with the wizard, Wally. For the other seven men, the weapon served as an extension of themselves, but for Logan, whose greatest assets were creativity, imagination, and persistence, none of those qualities really fit a weapon. In fact, one might say another career choice would have made more sense. Or, another interpretation might be that those qualities didn’t need a physical reminder. However, although those are all things an older Logan would have been able to appreciate, I always imagined that the eighteen year old Logan would have been somewhat jealous that his teammates got something special, and he ended up having to do the same old drills over and over 🙂

An Imperial Ranger “class portrait” showing each ranger with his special talent and weapon of specialization

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #108: Chad Derdowski, Author/Illustrator of Fortune Favors the Bold, Part 2 of 2

Episode #108: Chad Derdowski, Author/Illustrator of Fortune Favors the Bold, Part 2 of 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast108_201709/Podcast%20108.mp3

Today, we conclude our 2 part conversation with author and illustrator Chad Derdowski, who came on the show last week to talk about his book, Fortune Favors the Bold: The Saga of the Scissorwulf.  This episode picks up right after Chad did a short reading from one of the story lines from the book, which if you missed last week’s show, is essentially a tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek R rated Choose Your Own Adventure style with a Conan style hero:

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And if you’d like Chad to do a personal reading for you, perhaps in the same faux-English accent, follow the links below to get a copy of the book for yourself, write a review on Amazon, and send proof to Chad on Instagram.  Just for podcast listeners and until the end of September 2017!

Much of today’s episode touches on Chad’s creative process.  If you’ve ever wanted to create a book (or something similarly creative), but have gotten forestalled along the way, you may find quite a bit of motivation in this week’s show.  Speaking of which, here’s a link to the book, Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics, Chad was referring to by Dirk Manning.

Image result for fortune favors the bold chad derdowski

Get a copy of your own by clicking here or on the cover above: https://www.createspace.com/6289426

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fortunefavors_the_bold/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/TheScissorwulf/?ref=br_rs

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32842665-fortune-favors-the-bold?from_search=true

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wnHPfV

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

 

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!  Next week, Brent Simon!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #107: Chad Derdowski, Author/Illustrator of Fortune Favors the Bold, Part 1 of 2

Episode #107: Chad Derdowski, Author/Illustrator of Fortune Favors the Bold, Part 1 of 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast107_201708/Podcast%20107.mp3

In this week’s episode, author and illustrator Chad Derdowski comes on the show for a two part episode to talk about his book, Fortune Favors the Bold: The Saga of the Scissorwulf, a blast to read and even more entertaining to learn about.  It’s basically an R rated Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style book  with lots of references that former children of the 80s will well appreciate.  If you want a Cliff’s Notes version of the podcast, the main hero, the Scissorwulf is basically as follows:

 = 1uefrazetta-thebarbarian Warduke from Dungeons and Dragons by MassimoAtlas + Darkwolf (Fire and Ice)... + 

Scissorwulf = Conan (by Frank Frazetta here) + Warduke (from D and D, redrawn on deviantart by MassimoAtlas) + Darkwolf (From Fire and Ice, drawn by Frank Frazetta) + Jack Burton (from Big Trouble in Little China)

And Fortune Favors the Bold is basically a mix of HP Lovecraft, comedic parody, pulp men’s fiction, comic book, and Choose Your Own Adventure all mixed in one (plus probably a few other references I’m missing):

AstonishingTales25.jpg + GEORGE GROSS - Nightmare in New York (Executioner 7) by Don Pendleton - 1971 Pinnacle Books + Related image + Image result for hp lovecraft + Image result for shaun of the dead + Image result for choose your own adventure

Chad also does a reading of one of the storylines in the book, so you get a preview of the writing and the beginnings of one of the adventures.

Image result for fire and ice frazetta darkwolf

Dark wolf says: stay tuned for more 80s references next week in Part 2!

Image result for fortune favors the bold chad derdowski

Get a copy of your own by clicking here or on the cover above: https://www.createspace.com/6289426

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fortunefavors_the_bold/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/TheScissorwulf/?ref=br_rs

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32842665-fortune-favors-the-bold?from_search=true

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wnHPfV

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

 

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!  To be continued …

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #106: The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Six Swans

Episode #106: Reading of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Six Swans

https://archive.org/download/Podcast106_20170820/Podcast%20106.mp3

Today’s podcast is the double fairy tale reading of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Six Swans” (a version of which was featured on episode 97) from The Candlewick Book of Fairy Tales by Sarah Hayes and illustrated by PJ Lynch (see the some of his wonderfully detailed illustrations below):

 

By the way, there’s a new section to the show: if you ever have a question or something you’d like to hear addressed, read, or discussed on the show, just comment in the show notes or email.  Same goes for a guest you’d like to see on.

Speaking of which, in the next few week, we’ll be hearing from author and illustrator Chad Derdowski as well as musician and now drone pilot Brent Simon, who we first heard about in the interview with Jeff Finley!  Stay tuned!

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/ or Spotify.  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!
  • Ask a question or make a suggestion for the show!  Email or comment below.

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #105: Author/Illustrator Missy Sheldrake Returns Part 2 of 2

Episode #105: Author and Illustrator Missy Sheldrake Interview #2 Part 2 of 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast105_201708/Podcast%20105.mp3

Today, fantasy author Missy Sheldrake returns in part 2 of her interview as we catch up on all the things she’s been up to this past year (find her first interview here).

We spend the first part of this episode talking about podcasting, which Missy was thinking about doing.  Indie author Angela Chrysler (who came on the show back on episode #35) has been doing a youtube storytime reading series.  Putting shows on youtube would probably be one of the easiest way to put out a podcast.  If you are interested in learning more, here is also a quick start guide on producing a podcast quickly and without spending a lot of money that I put together here.

We also talked about making the transition to doing live events and a recent cover commission Missy did for one of her fellow authors, Christina McMullen.  There is a time lapse video of how she created the picture here.

A Space Girl From Earth Kindle Cover.jpg

We talk about our fantasy art influences and bemoan the loss of old-school hand painted covers in favor of the emphasis on hyper realistic, photorealistic digital photo covers that all end up looking the same.

Case in point/aside – take this movie poster/cover for the 80s scifi movie Solarbabies and a more generic photo cover to the right:

Image result for solarbabies Image result for solarbabies

Anyway … follow Missy on Instagram gallery for more pictures and updates on her illustrations.  I’m sure we’ll see more as she works on her fifth book in her Keeper of the Wellspring series.

There’s also a fun little easter egg for those who stick around until the end of this episode!

 

Click on the banner below to learn more about the series on Amazon.  If you haven’t read them yet, Missy let me know that this week, on 8/16/17, the first book, Call of Kythshire, is free, so take the chance to grab a copy!


Thanks again, Missy, for coming on the show, and good luck writing book #5!

Website: http://missysheldrake.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/missysheldrake

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/m_sheldrake/

Tumblr: http://etsyfairydawn.tumblr.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/MissySheldrake/and https://www.facebook.com/muralsbymissy

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13672249.Missy_Sheldrake?from_search=true&search_version=service

Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B00UVLQWGY

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

 

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs and movie soundtracks from that era.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #104: Author/Illustrator Missy Sheldrake Returns Part 1 of 2

Episode #104: Author and Illustrator Missy Sheldrake Interview #2 Part 1 of 2

https://archive.org/download/Podcast104_201708/Podcast%20104.mp3

In this week’s episode, fantasy author Missy Sheldrake comes back to the show to catch us up on all the things she’s been up to this past year (find her first interview here).  We spend much of this episode talking about the creative process, how writing takes on a life of its own, illustrating books, and what a shame it is that books for former children tend not to have pictures anymore.

Here are some screenshots from Missy’s Instagram gallery, where she posts pictures of works in process:

tib

This progression is of her character Tib, who was introduced in Call of Sunteri.

guild 0

guild 2

guild

This guild portrait is the one we’re referring to in the podcast (the one that took 59 hours).  Click on the picture above to go to the actual post on IG.

Click on the banner below to learn more about the series on Amazon.  If you haven’t read them yet, Missy let me know that on 8/16/17, the first book, Call of Kythshire, is free, so take the chance to grab a copy!

 


Thanks again, Missy, for coming on the show, and good luck writing book #5!

Website: http://missysheldrake.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/missysheldrake

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/m_sheldrake/

Tumblr: http://etsyfairydawn.tumblr.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/MissySheldrake/and https://www.facebook.com/muralsbymissy

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13672249.Missy_Sheldrake?from_search=true&search_version=service

Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B00UVLQWGY

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Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  Podcast listeners can still download the album until 8/10 (minus the bonus track) here http://bit.ly/2txyAaM  (access code is on episode 100 at ~31:30).  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

 

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #103: The Tinder Box

Episode #103: Reading of The Tinder Box Fairy Tale

https://archive.org/download/Podcast103_201707/Podcast%20103.mp3

Today’s podcast is the reading of a fairy tale called “The Tinder Box” from The Fairy Tale Book by Marie Ponsot (translator) and Adrienne Segur (illustrator) from The Golden Book of Fairy Tales.  You can read the tale in full (as written by Hans Christian Andersen) here.  There is even a commentary with history and analysis here.


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One of the illustrations from the tale:

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By the way, there’s a new section to the show: if you ever have a question or something you’d like to hear addressed, read, or discussed on the show, just comment in the show notes or email.  Same goes for a guest you’d like to see on.

Speaking of which, next week, we’ll be hearing from author and illustrator Missy Sheldrake, who came on the show about a year ago.

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/ or Spotify.  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!
  • Ask a question or make a suggestion for the show!  Email or comment below.

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #98: The Thirteenth Hour Sequel Updates

Episode #98: The Thirteenth Hour Sequel Updates – Fanciful Fantasy Vehicles and Zork Choose Your Own Adventure Style Reading

https://archive.org/download/Podcast98_20170625/Podcast%2098.mp3

In today’s show, I’m talking about some previews coming from a draft I’m working on for the sequel(s) to The Thirteenth Hour, some of which takes place in a technologically advanced world with strange aspects of future life, like fanciful ways to get around.

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A vapor rider is basically a magic powered boat with hydrofoils that allows it to skim across the surface of the water.

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A cloud rider is magic powered flying wing to skim above the clouds.

You can see both vapor riders and cloud riders in the title graphic above.

Over the next few months, we’ll occasionally be reading from these old Zork stories, which essentially function as Choose Your Own Adventure style game books.  Just like that series, there are decision points requiring you to go to different points in the book and black and white inked illustrations for many of the pages.  I think these books are long out of print, but click on the image of the book below to see if you can find a used copy of your own.

The synthesizer music in between the sequel updates and the Zork reading is courtesy of Brent Simon, an internet sensation from the mid 2000s (yes, his music clips from his old MySpace age still miraculously work).  You’ll hear more about him in a few weeks.  Jeff Finley, who made a documentary about his friend that made it big a number of years ago, will be coming on the show in a few weeks!

Speaking of music, episode 100 will have more details about an upcoming EP, the sequel to Long Ago Not So Far Away.  Podcast listeners get first dibs!  Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.  Check it out!

 

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #97: The Wild Swans

Episode #97: Reading of The Wild Swans Fairy Tale

https://archive.org/download/Podcast97_20170616/Podcast%2097.mp3

Today’s podcast is the reading of a fairy tale “The Wild Swans” from The Fairy Tale Book by Marie Ponsot (translator) and Adrienne Segur (illustrator).  There’s an updated version called The Golden Book of Fairy Tales.


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We’ll read from it a few times in the future.  It was one I recalled from childhood and has some wonderfully detailed illustrations with a number of traditional fairy tales, meaning that they aren’t the sanitized Disney versions.  In fact, the worlds the characters inhabit are often cruel, and although they often do have happy endings, the characters really do go through a lot of pain and suffering to get there.  Case in point:

 

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As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #96: Visualization for Healing

Episode #96: Zen Visualization for Healing and Learning + New Synth Track Preview

https://archive.org/download/Podcast96_20170610/Podcast%2096.mp3

Today’s podcast about focusing the power of the mind to help heal injuries goes out to Ryan, a friend of mine who sustained an unexpected injury.  Hope it helps (at the very least, it can’t hurt!)  Get well soon!

We talked about zen in archery back in episode #62 and a year ago back in episode #44.   As before, we’ll be reading from a chapter in the book, Zen in the Martial Arts, by Joe Hyams:

Image result for zen in martial arts

Click on the picture of the book above to find a copy of your own.

If you’re at all interested in martial arts or philosophy (or both), I’d highly recommend reading it.  I first read it when I was introduced to martial arts at age 13.  There was a lot I didn’t understand or only understood partially at the time but have found that with each re-reading, I take away a new lesson.

The chapter I’m reading from today is about using positive visualization to make changes in your life: i.e. not letting negative thinking get the better of you, maintaining a positive outlook while injured, or learning something new.  It’s important to remember that before our bodies can do something, our brains must plan it out first.  It may happen unconsciously, but the body does do what the brain sees first!  Sounds simple (and it is – though that does not necessarily mean easy), but that’s zen for you.

In case you don’t have access to the book, here are a few snippets from the chapter:

The version of the book I have has black and white photographs accompanying the chapters.  For this chapter, there’s a flame, probably to accompany Bruce Lee’s idea of imagining negative thoughts burning up in his mind.

And since today was all about fire and focus, we’ll end with the first half of a new song I’ll be releasing in the next few weeks called “Ember.”  I wrote it years ago and have been trying to rework it into a synthesizer track for the sequel to Long Ago Not So Far Away (which, coincidentally, you can now find for streaming off Spotify).  It’s been a slow going process (as these things often are), but so far, I’m pretty happy with the way it’s been going.  It’s about growing up, which involves a certain amount of questioning who you are and what you believe.  But it’s also about believing in yourself and not losing the fire that drives your passion.  In the words of Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid 3), “Daniel-san, focus!  … Best karate still inside!”

Join the mailing list for an upcoming EP with “Ember” and number of new tracks!

As always, thanks for listening!

Glowing ember photo courtesy of Anastasia Zhenina.

 

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  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #68: It’s Been One Year – the Adventure Show

Episode #68: What is Adventure?

https://archive.org/download/Podcast68_201611/Podcast%2068.mp3

Today marks one year of continuous podcasts in this format, and it’s a been a fun adventure.  So today’s episode is all about adventure – or rather, the side of adventure that doesn’t often make it in the pages of adventures books or memoirs – the deliberation that sometimes occurs prior and the calamities that happen in everyday life that, when looked back on years later, make one think – “you know, that was quite the adventure.”

So here’s a segment from The Thirteenth Hour about this:

“I don’t know what to say,” she murmured. “What do you say to a story like that?”

“I dunno, you tell me.”

It seemed like she had not moved since I had started. “Well, you always dreamed of seeing the world, and now you’re doing it. And on a quest – just like something out of a faerie tale, isn’t it?”

“I guess …” but a pretty messed up one, I added to myself. And then I continued, “But characters in faerie tales always seemed to know what they were doing, with a genuine purpose, for good reasons. Not just for a selfish King who wants to live forever. That just seems like such a dumb reason. I mean, I guess I’m not supposed to question my orders, but it’s just so hard to get riled up enough to risk your rear when you think the goal’s a waste of time. And men.”

She nodded.

“It’s okay. I guess, that’s the sort of thing Kings and Queens do, it’s just that … I dunno.”

“So, Logan, why not just leave? What you care about Darian? Nobody would stop you; as far as they know, you ate it along with the rest of the crew at sea.”

I sighed, picked up a stone, and threw it, feeling the tension ripple through my muscles. I watched it fly through the air, spinning unevenly, and finally disappear into the morning fog.

“I can’t explain it, really. You’re right, I could just leave, and nobody would know. But there’s something holding me back … I guess I kind of feel I owe it to the others to finish what we started … since we all trained together, and they were good guys overall. I guess I feel like if I finished, they wouldn’t have given up their lives in vain. You know? And …”

I looked around the marketplace. There was a dead soldier lying not more than twenty feet away. He had also died for King Darian. There had to be a better reason than glory, civic duty, or patriotism. Or was it just the sense of adventure?

“Logan?”

“Sorry. Anyway, I made this promise to Wally right before he died. I promised we would finish the quest so he wouldn’t have to hear Darian’s complaining in the afterlife.”
Aurora giggled. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah. Well, kind of.”

“But it’s just a legend.”

“Yeah.”

“Finishing the quest for your friends is one thing, but, Logan, what do you want?”

“I’m starting to think that is what I want. I’ve always … liked to think of things, but doing them was another matter. Let’s face it – I’m a dreamer. You know?”

“Don’t I,” said Aurora knowingly.

“I like to sit and dream about the things I would like to do. But then I realized in real life, I just sorta let things happen to me, without ever knowing why. I’d like that not to happen so much anymore. I’ve always wanted to see the places that I’ve read about in faerie stories and legends. But now … now I can actually see those places.”

Aurora nodded.

“I think if I walked now, I’d always wonder. Wally would often say that even if something appears impossible doesn’t mean that it’s meant to stay that way.”

“Well, that makes sense to me. You know, I never told anybody this, but … I always hated that inn job.”

“What! Well, you were a damned good actress then! I thought you loved it.”

“Well, I liked the horses. And Mr. Cromwell made up for a lot. He was like an uncle to me. But that was it. The smell of the stable, cleaning up after the horses, difficult customers, washing the bedsheets, cleaning the rooms, serving the drinks, cleaning up the bathrooms, with the stench and the vomit after a celebration … yuck.”

“From that to the coal mines. Living the high life, huh?”

“Well, you know how I landed that mining job? Well, they needed people, and honestly, I think they would have taken anyone, but the foreman said it wasn’t a good job for women, and no woman could ever expect to make it because she didn’t have what it took. Women, he said, were weak. I thought, how does he know? Of course, deep down, I was scared. But, just to spite him and prove him wrong, I made him take me; I was so mad. In the end, he just shrugged, and said, ‘Well, it’s your life.’ He was right; it was just as bad as I thought it’d be.”

“How bad’s that?”

“Well, it was worse, if that’s any indication. Damp, claustrophobic, lots of dirty, sweaty men, black air all around, always risk of explosions … I’d rather shovel manure for the rest of my life than go back there.”

“Well, you’re still alive,” I said at last.

Aurora laughed. “I’m just venting. I’m not a total cynic yet, Logan. Besides, this was about you, not me. I just wanted to say that I think it’s good you’re thinking like this. Maybe I need to start, too.”

“Oh, so there are things you’d like to do,” I said.

“Of course! I’m not dead yet, Logan. I still want to explore some, live some, and see some of the world. And then, one day, I don’t know when, maybe when I’m a doddering old lady, settle down in a little cottage in the forest in a place with a lot of open space and some purple mountains, and live the rest of my life. I hope that’s not too much to ask.”
Wait … the open fields and the purple mountains that seemed to call out to me … the thought painted itself onto the canvas in my mind. And another with it.

“Hmmm. Lemme make a suggestion.”

“Sure.”

“Come with me. On the quest.”

I expected Aurora to say something, to laugh, or at least to show some indication of surprise. But she didn’t. She cocked her head to one side, looking silent and thoughtful. She stared off, absently, into the cool morning mist. She was silent for a time.

“Yes,” she said, with a nod that added an air of finality to her reply. “How did you know, Logan, what I was just about to ask?” she asked.

I smiled. “Well, I have known you for a pretty long time.”

So that’s how Aurora joined me on the quest. And because she did, our lives were changed forever.

The next clip on the show partly concerns these hardy little vehicles, called matatus, commonly found in East Africa, that are an important source of public transport.  They’re Japanese made minivans that officially hold 15 people but more often carry somewhere around 20-30.  My wife and I have been on them many a time while in the region while there for work … but this time, we ended up on an adventure.  Note this one (just a picture I found randomly on the internet) even has the word “HERO” emblazoned across the front (i.e. the hero’s journey usually involves some discomfort).

Image result for matatu

The last clip is a karaoke version of the song “Love, Grey Dresses, and Other Things” from Long Ago Not So Far Away.

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
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  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podast #65: Morgan and Yew – a Serendipity Book Read Aloud

Episode #65: Reading of Morgan and Yew

https://ia601508.us.archive.org/7/items/Podcast65_201611/Podcast%2065.mp3

Back in the 70s and 80s, there were a ton of these little softcover books published by author and artist team Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James.  They were short illustrated books intended to be read to children featuring animals in a fantasy setting and a little moral at the end.  They were, in a sense, short fairy tales.

One of the nice things, I always thought, were the beautiful illustrations accompanying each page done by Robin James.  I’m sure they provided inspiration to many a young artist.

Interestingly enough, these books were an early successful foray in self publishing.  Apparently, the author, Stephen Cosgrave, initially couldn’t get anyone to publish his books so he decided to take the process on himself.  I can imagine that must have quite an undertaking at the time, since even today, it is expensive to get books printed in color while keeping the price point at something reasonable a parent will be willing to spend.  Good for him for sticking with it long enough for it to take off.

In any event, this is a particularly cute one I read with my daughter about the unlikely friendship between a unicorn and a sheep.

morgan

Here are some pictures from the book:

file-nov-03-12-40-06-pmfile-nov-03-12-42-24-pmfile-nov-03-12-45-26-pmfile-nov-03-12-43-57-pm

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • Free online streaming of the growing Thirteenth Hour soundtrack: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Stay tuned to a full 45+ min album coming 11/13/16.  Join the mailing list for a free copy.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #62: Zen in the Art of Archery

Episode #62: Zen in the Art of Archery

https://archive.org/download/Podcast62_201610/Podcast%2062.mp3

On today’s episode, I’m reading from a little book called Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel.  We talked about Zen in episode #44, and while that episode focused more on empty handed martial arts, this one is about the practice of archery, and how that can be used as a pathway to understand Zen.  It’s a book I first read when I was about 13, didn’t really understand, and re-read a number of other times afterwards, each time taking a slightly different set of ideas from it (never entirely understanding it, I will say).

I can say for sure, though, that the best shots in archery, and perhaps this is so with many things in life, come from that place where Zen resides, the land of no conscious thought, that retreat your mind wanders to when it’s fully present and occupied by what it’s doing at the moment.

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • Free online streaming of the growing Thirteenth Hour soundtrack: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Stay tuned to a full 45+ min album coming 11/13/16.  Join the mailing list for a free copy.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #61: Reflections on Replaying Jordan Mechner’s The Last Express

Episode #61: Replaying the PC game, The Last Express, after 19 years

https://archive.org/download/Podcast61_201610/Podcast%2061.mp3

Today’s episode is all about storytelling in a slightly different form than the books usually featured on this site.  It’s about how the 1997 adventure game created a sense of being an international traveler dropped in the middle of a web of intrigue and mystery in the days leading up to WWI and what it was like replaying this game almost 20 years later.  My brother and first played this game on the PC in 1997, shortly after it came out.  Interestingly, we both recently replayed the updated version and have now both written about our thoughts.  My bro’s are here:

http://pixelgrotto.tumblr.com/post/148786767031/favorites-murder-on-the-orient-express-i-had-a

This was one of the first games I ever played where characters move about independently regardless of what you happen to be doing.  They speak English, Russian, Serbian, Arabic, French, and German, not all of which your character understands, and much of the game consists of overhearing conversations and downright spying on your neighbors.  Doesn’t sound like it’d be interesting – but … it is.  The ever present ticking clock (which can be rewound to replay a sequence and try out new actions) running in the background as the Orient Express makes its way to Constantinople becomes a character in itself, just like the train, loving re-created from an actual Orient Express passenger car.  Little touches, like the clink of wine glasses and silverware in the dining car, the glint of gold in the art nouveau style decorations in the bathrooms, and the period paintings on the walls really capture the feel of what the gilded age must have been like and do just that much above the ordinary to create an immerse experience.

Here are some screen shots from the game:

2016-10-01-14-55-46

Your character, Robert Cath, is on the right.  In this scene, you’ve taken on the role of your murdered friend (who you’ve come to realize was into some heavy shite) and are trying to get gun runner Herr August Schmidt, the roly-poly gentleman on the left, to buy that you want to do an arms deal with him.  You have to convince him with this briefcase of gold that you can afford the hardware.

2016-10-01-15-08-03

Of course, not everyone is as they seem and not everything goes as planned.  Why so many guns on this train?  The war hasn’t even started!

2016-10-01-15-43-22

Much of the game centers around this mysterious firebird automaton that everyone seems to be after.  They seem to have killed your friend to get it …

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Much of the game consists of sneaking around, trying to figure out who everyone on this train is.  Sometimes, you can successfully sneak into their rooms when they aren’t there and the conductors aren’t looking.  In Herr Schmidt’s suitcase, you stumble upon his porn collection (probably an in-game easter egg) …

2016-10-01-15-59-24

… as well as a few spare Havanas and a small revolver that you can’t actually use …

2016-10-01-16-40-18

… even though, frankly, when it all goes south near the end of the game, a little firepower would probably come in handy.  Here is our hero with dukes up, ready to engage in fisticuffs like it is 1914.

2016-10-01-16-40-34

There are a few of these fights in the game, though this is the only one against an unarmed opponent.  The fighting mostly consists of timing your ducks to evade incoming blows and counter-punching at the right moment.

2016-10-01-16-45-39

In this sequence on top of the train, your opponent has a metal staff.

2016-10-01-16-47-20

If you win that altercation, you can thankfully liberate it from your opponent …

2016-10-01-16-47-23

 … which is handy, since your next opponent wields a sword!  Since this same character was brandishing a rifle earlier in the game, I guess she decided to dispatch you in style rather than just shooting you.

2016-10-01-17-58-14

And if you live through all that, the journey continues …

If you haven’t played this game, do yourself a favor, and give it a go.  You can find it inexpensively on Steam, iOS, and Android as well as old copies on CD on ebay.  Check out creator Jordan Mechner’s website for more info.  Here’s a great FAQ & walkthrough for the game as well as a link to an awesome fan site where there’s a visual walkthough on youtube with translations of even the languages Robert doesn’t understand, like Serbian and Arabic.

Image result for the last express

As always, thanks for listening!

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  • Free online streaming of the growing Thirteenth Hour soundtrack: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Stay tuned to a full 45+ min album coming 11/13/16.  Join the mailing list for a free copy.
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #60: A Storytime Reading of Sleeping Beauty

Episode #60: Sleeping Beauty Reading

https://archive.org/download/Podcast60_201609/Podcast%2060.mp3

This week, my daughter and I are reading The Sleeping Beauty, written/retold and beautifully illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, who also illustrated St. George and the Dragon, which we read on episode #52.  Below are some pictures:

Image result for trina schart hyman sleeping beauty

Image result for trina schart hyman sleeping beauty

As an aside, my brother recently told me that Stan Bush, the man behind “The Touch” created a new 80s-style anthem for the game Shadow Warrior 2 – something that is incredibly awesome on so many levels I don’t know where to start.  You can listen to the EP on Souncloud! (click on the link above to listen).

Speaking of which, the soundtrack to The Thirteenth Hour, Long Ago Not So Far Away is done and will be coming out on 11/13/16.  It will be available digitally and on CD.  If I can find a few cassette tapes, I may even try to make a few cassettes that will be available on the eBay store for the truly old school.  (Remember making mix tapes?  This assumes I actually remember how to do that 🙂  If you want an advance preview in the next few weeks, sign up for the mailing list for a free advance digital copy!

cover-80s-style_edited-33

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast and a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your daily weekday dose of ninjas, martial arts bits, archery, flips, breakdancing action figures, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and occasional pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Free online streaming of the growing Thirteenth Hour soundtrack: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Stay tuned to a full 45+ min album coming in the next few weeks!
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #59: The Thirteenth Hour Soundtrack Preview

Episode #59: Long Ago Not So Far Away: Music from The Thirteenth Hour (Preview)

https://ia601502.us.archive.org/3/items/Podcast59_201609/Podcast%2059.mp3

This week, it’s all about retro 80s, starting with a preview of the upcoming official soundtrack release for The Thirteenth Hour, entitled Long Ago Not So Far Away.

It ended up being about 47 minutes long with a combination of synth instrumental tracks and songs with lyrics played on the guitar, piano, or a both.  Some were songs that I came up with originally when I wrote the book, others were ones that I wrote a few years later but had not fully completed (i.e. had the lyrics and chords for the guitar, making for a skeleton of a song … but all the little riffs and fills that make a song a song, especially a retro style 80s song, weren’t there).  There were two I kept more bare bones (mostly just acoustic guitar with a minimum of electric effects or synthesizers) because I wanted them to sound like folk songs out of the pseud0-medieval world the novel is set in.

It really ended up being a lot of fun.  In contrast to the tortuous process I had creating the cover for the book version of The Thirteenth Hour, making the cover for Long Ago Not So Far Away felt like a breeze, since I decided that the best course of action was to make it look like something out of the 80s.  I have a healthy collection of 80s CDs, tapes, and movies that helped provide entertaining inspiration.  There were also tons of synthwave (neo 80s synth music) covers on the internet (some of which looked more 80s than actual 80s album covers!). I also found this great Instagram page by @synthenebrism which links to a Spotify page with hours upon hours of synthwave music for your listening enjoyment.

In terms of making the cover itself, I found this great step by step tutorial that captured the look I was going for almost perfectly.  It walks you through using Photoshop to create your own retro synth cover.  I wanted an aurora for the cover to fit with the content of the book, so after a bit of searching, found this free stock image (click on the image to go to the page):

scotland-1564096_1280.jpg

Thanks to Blackmoons32 on deviantart for making a great free lightning bolt stock image already with an alpha channel (meaning the background is already transparent), making it easy to paste into your picture.  I thought about adding a rainbow or a unicorn to really round out the 80s fantasy images but thought that might be laying it on a little thick.  Instead, I just added the pixelart Logan on Lightning I made for the vaporware Thirteenth Hour game I started years ago.  In the end, it ended up looking like this:

cover 80s style_edited-33.jpg

It should be out later this fall.  But if you’d like a free advance preview, there are a few ways to do it.  Check out the bandcamp page, which has many of the tracks already uploaded, though not the fully remastered ones.  You can also look for former entries of this podcast or the Instagram page for some live versions or early drafts of songs.  Lastly, if you haven’t already, sign up for the mailing list if you’d like a free digital copy of the album to download with album artwork and all.  Stay tuned!

As always, thanks for listening!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast and a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your daily weekday dose of ninjas, martial arts bits, archery, flips, breakdancing action figures, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and occasional pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Free online streaming of the growing Thirteenth Hour soundtrack: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Stay tuned to a full 45+ min album coming in the next few weeks!
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #58: George Sirois Redux – The Making of the Excelsior Audiobook

Episode #58: Author George Sirois Returns to Discuss the Creation of His Audiobook

https://archive.org/download/Podcast58_201609/Podcast%2058.mp3

Back in episode #36, fellow author George Sirois came on the show for a great conversation, and today, he’s back!

As you’ll see in the show, George decided that the way he wanted to get his young adult scifi tale, Excelsior, out there as a audiobook was to record it himself.  Way back when I was learning about making covers for The Thirteenth Hour, I came to the realization that when it comes to things like this, it all comes down to money or time.

If you decide to go the professional route and outsource parts of the creative process, you might get a professional product but you give up some autonomy and generally pay quite a bit (that you justify to yourself as an investment in quality and peace of mind).  But if you opt to do it yourself, you have to deal with the sometimes exponentially steep learning curve of cramming years of knowledge into the bare minimum needed to shoehorn yourself into getting the job done.  There may still be significant expense (sometimes due to trial and error), and there’s the significant time sink that comes with what a professional might be able to do more efficiently.

However, one thing debates such this sometimes forget when focusing on practical talking points such as these is simply the enjoyment to be had in simply doing.  As sole proprietors of businesses (as independent authors essential are these days), it pays to understand as many different aspects of the business as possible.  There’s no better way to understand those details than by doing them yourself (at least once).

And that’s what George did to make his ideas into a reality.  There’s a lot there in his story, so like minded souls, take note.  What’s the harm in going for something you want, George says in the interview.  And why not?  At the end of the day, who else is there to give the necessary permission?

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Click on the link to check out the audiobook version of Excelsior on Amazon.

And audiobooks seem to be getting their due after years of being the red-headed stepchild of the literature.  Here’s the full text of the Wall Street Journal on the rise of audiobooks.

George will be making appearances (if you’re local to St. Louis, MO USA) at the following places in the next few wks:

-https://www.facebook.com/WritePackRadio/

-http://www.stlwritersguild.org/writersinthepark.html (now since past, though more good info if you’re a writer hoping to connect with others in and around St. Louis, near where George lives)

Connect with George online at:

blog: http://www.georgesirois.com/

GR profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103079.George_Sirois

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+GeorgeSirois/posts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/georgesirois

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/georgesirois/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/excelsiorbooks/

References George discusses on the show:

No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty, on writing a novel in 30 days

The Stressed-Out Writer’s Guide to Recording Your Own Audiobook by Kirk Hanley

On that note, as always, thanks for listening!

P.S. If you have any interest in getting into audio like George did or wanted to start your own podcast, check out this free guide here.  It’s a guest post I did for fellow author Kelly St. Clare on podcasting as cheaply as possible and has a wealth of info on audio production in general, most of which I learned by trial and error!  Check it out, and start podcasting as more than an amateur!  WIN!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast and a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and @the13thhr.ost for your daily weekday dose of ninjas, martial arts bits, archery, flips, breakdancing action figures, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and occasional pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Free online streaming of the growing Thirteenth Hour soundtrack: https://joshuablum.bandcamp.com/  Stay tuned to a full 45+ min album coming in the next few weeks!
  • Website: https://13thhr.wordpress.com
  • Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1VhJhXY
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at writejoshuablum@gmail.com for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #57: Reading Chapter 1 of Mark Salzman’s Lost in Place

Episode #57: Reading an Excerpt from Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia by Mark Salzman

https://archive.org/download/Podcast57_201609/Podcast%2057.mp3

This week, I’m reading the first chapter of perhaps my favorite book of all time, Lost in Place, by Mark Salzman.  I first read the book as a teenager and still find it hugely entertaining two decades later.  It’s probably not surprising that aspects of Mark’s writing style have influenced how I portray characters in books like The Thirteenth Hour.

He writes about his coming of age with an honest, Wonder Years-style of sardonic narration infused with just enough boyish innocence to capture both the magic and despair of adolescence and young adulthood.  That’s not everyone’s up of tea, of course, but when I first opened up the book, I immediately felt at home.  I imagine if John Huges (screenwriter and director of 80s teen movies like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club), had written a memoir, it would probably be something like this book.

On a personal level, I suppose it’s extra special since he writes about his experiences in the martial arts and early desires to be an astronaut (a lifelong hobby and short-lived career aspiration that my mother and father, like Mark’s decidedly earthbound parents, humored for years, for which I’ve always been grateful).

Image result for lost in place mark salzman

I found out a short movie clip of Mark talking about aspects of his writing and some of the themes that crop up in his books as well as this clip discussing his first kung fu teacher in action.

As an aside, you can watch a movie Mark wrote and starred in based on his first book teaching English in China while training in Chinese wushu.  Watch Iron and Silk here.

And, if in the unlikely event that this page makes its way across your computer screen, Mark, PLEASE COME ON THE SHOW!

Ok.

I’ve gotten control of myself and will tone down the rampant fanboyism.  Can’t help it.  =)

As a side note, if you hear a sound in the background that sounds like Darth Vader, it’s because I was reading this episode while holding my daughter, who was sleeping.  Just so you know.

On that note, as always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #56: Labor Day Reading

Episode #56: Labor Day Reading from The Thirteenth Hour

https://ia801509.us.archive.org/23/items/Podcast56_201609/Podcast%2056.mp3

This week, in honor of Labor Day in the USA, I’m reading a few excerpts from The Thirteenth Hour that go out to all those unsung folks doing jobs that keep our world running smoothly, often behind the scenes.  For example, Aurora here is a dishwasher, and how often do they get their due?

That evening, I met Aurora in town at the pub for a meal before our work shifts started. She received a discount on food there and could bring a guest for free, so it worked out better than the soldiers’ dining hall in the castle, which offered no discounts, absolutely no guests, and was awful to boot. When we sat down at a booth, I discovered the book in my back pocket.

“Whatcha got there?” She looked the little book over. “Oh, knitting. Interesting. Do you know, I learned how once, at the orphanage, but I never really got the hang of it. Hmm, let’s see if I remember any of this stuff,” she said as she flipped through the manual…

…“Nope, don’t remember a thing about knitting, unfortunately,” said Aurora, knocking me out of my reverie.

Just then, a waitress with a sour expression on her face brought over two bowls of stew, two glasses of water, and a hunk of bread. Aurora invited her to sit down with us while we ate, and the woman’s annoyed expression brightened for a moment as she welcomed the opportunity to avoid work for a few more minutes. She poured herself a pint of ale from the tap behind her and collapsed heavily onto the booth next to Aurora. Aurora introduced me to the waitress, who said, “Oh, so you’re Logan. Aurora mentioned someone like you.” Her eyes came to rest on the book on knitting.

“You were reading this?”

Aurora smiled and nodded.

“What the hell for? You work for a living now, why do you want to go back to this garbage? They got stores for this, you know.” I noticed that the waitress had repositioned herself towards Aurora in the manner that women did when they wanted to create a third wheel.
“Oh … well, sure. I just thought it was, well, interesting.”

“Ha! That’s gotta be the overstatement of the year. More like the most uninteresting thing ever. What the hell’s it good for?”

“Well … you’ll always be able to make clothes if you can knit,” I reasoned.

As the waitress shifted back to look at me, her eyes narrowed to slits. They said, “I didn’t ask you.” But her mouth said, “You know, I once had a husband who said that to me, and look where it got him. Humph.” She gave Aurora a stern, teacherly kind of look as she got up to go. “Get rid of this guy now,” it seemed to say.

Aurora looked embarrassed but shrugged it off. “Sorry, she’s like that to everyone at first.”

Just then, a door at the back of the room swung open and a deep voice yelled, “Aurora, where the hell are you? We’re opening in five minutes! Look at all these dishes! There’s no end to these …” the yelling trailed away as the door swung shut.

“Uggh, I guess I gotta go, Logan. Sorry,” she tossed her hands up a little as she stood and dropped her napkin on the table.

“Ah, it’s alright, Aurora. Tomorrow, at the gym, then?”

“Sure, I …”

“Aurora, did you hear me, dammit! Get your ass in here!” yelled the voice from the back again.

Aurora rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute!” she yelled over her back. I helped her gather the dirty dishes.

“Thanks, I got it.”

“Now, dammit! Do I have to come out there?”

“Jeeze, go on before that guy busts a vein or something,” I said. She kissed me quickly then ran through the swinging back door. In her hurry, she forgot one of the bowls, which I scooped up and placed on a tray of other dirty dishes. The waitress that had sat with us happened to look over and gave me a dirty look as I walked out.

“No tip again,” she muttered. “Bastard.”

I heard her but did not understand. Since I had never been able to afford restaurants before, I was still pretty new to eating in one; perhaps there was some unspoken custom I was not aware of, probably involving money or work – the things adults typically complained of – and my general ignorance about both was probably what had incurred the waitress’ wrath to begin with.

You can hear more excerpts on the show.  Enjoy your day of rest, and know that if you have one of those essential buy thankless jobs, whether it pays or not – stay-at-home parents, take note – there people out there who are grateful. =)

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #55: Storytime Fairytales X 2

Episode #55: The Well at World’s End and Cap ‘O Rushes Fairytale Readings

https://ia601500.us.archive.org/32/items/Podcast55_201608/Podcast%2055.mp3

In this week’s podcast, my daughter and I read two traditional fairy tales.  Illustrations from the book we read them from, Tales From The Enchanted World, are below.  We’d previously read from this book in the reading of the tale, Childe Roland.

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The Well at World’s End

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Cap ‘O Rushes

I’m currrently in the process of transitioning old podcast episodes to a new server, but hopefully, there should be no interruptions and no real change for listeners.  You should still be able to access the podcasts here and on iTunes, as before.

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #54: Falling Leaves Don’t Weep

Episode #54: Reading of The Thirteenth Hour Epilogue Short Story, “Falling leaves Don’t Weep”

https://archive.org/download/Podcast54_201608/Podcast%2054.mp3

This week, I’m reading the short story “Falling Leaves Don’t Weep,” the stand-alone short story epilogue to The Thirteenth Hour.  It’s a short tale about how one night of insomnia leads to a surprising amount of insight for an elderly monarch (actually King Darian IV from the novel as a much older and wiser man who is looking back on his younger days with a mixture of regret and embarrassment).  I figured Darian needed an epilogue since we never really found out what happened to him in the story.

I can’t say for sure, but when I rereading this story, I was reminded of the story The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, a book my mother used to read to me as a child, and am guessing it was an influencing factor in the creation of this story.

As an aside, I’m in the process of trying to transition old episodes of this podcast (episode #53 and prior) to a new host.  This is the first one on the new host.  There should be no change for you, the listener, either accessing new episodes directly here or via iTunes.  But after 8/31, there may be some issues accessing old episodes of I’m not done updating the old links.  But in that case, it should be resolved in a few weeks.

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #53: Rocketeer Reflections

Episode #53: Reflections on Rewatching The Rocketeer and How it Influenced The Thirteenth Hour 

https://archive.org/download/13thHrEps16On/Podcast%2053.mp3

I recently rewatched the 1991 film, The Rocketeer, one of my favorite films from childhood, if not my all-time favorite.  It encapsulated just about everything a kid could hope for – airplanes, jet packs, shootouts between gangsters and Nazi storm troopers – not to mention a great cast of characters with a plucky heroine and a dashing hero that was just enough of an Everyman to be easily relatable.  Sometimes, movies that seemed great as a kid don’t always make for great films for adults.  So although I owned the DVD of The Rocketeer and have rewatched bits through the years, I was always a bit hesitant about watching the film start-to-finish again, I guess out of fear that it would inevitably fall from grace after years had tarnished the nostalgia factor.

Nope.

I’m glad to say that didn’t happen.  Not only did I watch the whole thing, I was glued to my seat and daresay I enjoyed the movie more than I did when I was a kid.

In many ways, it was ahead of its time.  Superhero movies weren’t really as big at the time as they were now, and in this age of global terrorism, it is comforting to think that heroes exists in our midst that can stand tall when they’re needed.  And in many ways, that’s what the Rocketeer (a.k.a. pilot Cliff Secord) was – just an ordinary guy who, though a mixture of good/bad luck (depending on how you look at it) and the serendipity of circumstance, becomes a reluctant hero in an uncertain age (at the dawn of WWII).   Part of me suspects that the original creator of The Rocketeer comics, illustrator Dave Stevens, created Cliff with exactly that I mind – not so much a hero chosen to have superpowers but an average citizen who ends up in the role and has to balance using his rocket pack for the greater good (fighting crime/Nazis, saving innocent people) vs. his own personal agenda (making money, impressing his girlfriend).

While I was watching the film this time, I was struck by how many similarities there are between Cliff Secord and Logan, the protagonist of The Thirteenth Hour. In many ways, it’s not surprising, since The Rocketeer was one of my favorite movies all throughout high school, and The Thirteenth Hour was written the summer after I graduated.  Both have a boyish, child like sense of gee-whiz! wonder about them.  While both are, at heart, good people doing their best, both are getting by on a lot more than special abilities and natural talents.  They’re carried along as much by a combination of pluck, luck, help from others, and just, plain old bumbling incompetence that favors the optimistic, idealistic, and brave … the very image of characters that are holding it together not because they are super prepared or organized but with a combination of chewing gum, spit, and twine.  (In fact, Cliff’s rocketpack is held together by chewing gum at one point.)

So, it’s not surprising that there are some parallels, both in character and appearance.  Here are a few of the latter:

-I think ones of the reasons I drew Logan with the haircut he has was largely due to an the unconscious influence of Dave Stevens.

Logan pushupsWM

This is one of the tamer pictures of Cliff Secord’s do out there.  He usually is a bit more disheveled:

-Cliff also worn a leather button-up jacket that, while looking a real pain to put on and take off, sure looks cool).  I gave the Imperial Rangers in The Thirteenth Hour tunics with a similar aesthetic, though I didn’t opt for the buttons.

logan kick rockWM

-And then, of course, both characters can fly owning to special machines.  Logan’s flying machine, Lightning, is talked about in episode #45.

I'll Fly Away Flying IG_1

I recently found a little replica of the hoverboard from Back to the Future 2 in a thrift store – that made my day.

If you’re interested in learning more about real-life attempts to create rocketpacks, you can check out the book Jetpack Dreams (an excerpt on The Rocketeer is below):

You can also read more in this magazine article:

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More on the Rocketeer in the future!  Listen for the clip from the soundtrack by James Horner on the podcast as well as more postings on social media.

There are many excellent depictions of the Rocketeer since Dave Stevens’ passing.  This is a fine example by Alexey Mordovets.

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #52: Storytime Reading of St. George and the Dragon 

Episode #52: Storytime Reading of St. George and the Dragon

https://archive.org/download/13thHrEps16On/Podcast%2052.mp3

This week, we’re reading an illustrated adaptation of the first part of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queen – the tale of St. George and the Dragon.  The one we’re reading from was illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (check out a tribute and bio on this blog) and penned by Margaret Hodges.  You can find a copy online at retailers like Amazon or you local library.  There are a few pictures and excerpts includes below.  I’d recommend any of the books written and illustrated by this duo if you enjoy fairy tales and/or fantasy art.

The tale is an abridged version for children of the original, which was a lengthy poem.  You can find a summary of the original Faerie Queen tale and a commentary here.  It’s more adult oriented than this version and has more overt allegorical/religious/moral overtones as opposed to this one, which reads more like a traditional fairy tale and mirrors the end of the original poem, a summary of which you can find here.

Personally, I have always wondered why everyone had it in for the dragon, who also fought a good fight, and I kind of felt bad for him.  Here he was minding his own business and … well, I guess that kind of flips the story on its head, doesn’t it.  Maybe someone one day can rewrite the tale from the dragon’s point of view.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Anyhow, I posted a few pictures from the book on Instagram before from the book, which you can find here:

https://instagram.com/p/BDx0pE7Mg4y/

https://instagram.com/p/BDqIyd5sg7d/

Here are some others:

It’s also in these pages that we learn that the name George means “Plow the Earth” and “Fight the Good Fight.”  Georges of the world, take note and take heart.  You have a fine lineage.

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #51: Musical Interlude Piano Ballad

Episode #51: “Love, Grey Dresses, and Other Things” – a Thirteenth Hour Piano Ballad

https://archive.org/download/13thHrEps16On/Podcast%2051.mp3

For this week’s episode, I’ve included snippets from upcoming Thirteenth Hour soundtrack tracks.  I recently wrote an untitled piano theme that I was thinking would become an introspective musical track on the soundtrack.  There’s a preview of it in its infancy on Instagram.  Then, about two weeks ago, I toyed with the idea of turning it into a ballad with words.  Once I got to thinking about it, lyrics came to me in the span of a few minutes and became the song featured in this episode, which I finally titled, “Love, Grey Dresses, and Other Things.”  There’s a a snippet of the final instrumental version and a live performance on the piano included as well.

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Still haven’t transcribed the lyrics onto the computer.  The most I had at the time when the muse hit were a few pieces of scrap paper, so that’s what this “final” version is written on.

The song is written from the perspective of Logan, the main character of The Thirteenth Hour, as he realizes that the friendship he with Aurora, his childhood friend, has changed for both him and her.

logan and aurora together

Final versions of this song, both in instrumental and lyrical versions, can be found in the near future on the Bandcamp soundtrack page.

As always, thanks for listening!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #50: Reading of Robert Browning’s Poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”

Episode #50: Storytime Reading of Robert Browning’s Poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”

https://archive.org/download/13thHrEps16On/Podcast%2050.mp3

Last week, we read the Old English fairy tale, “Childe Roland.”  This week, I’m reading aloud the Robert Browning poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” which was the inspiration for Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  It’s quite different from the fairy tale and from King’s books, though it shares the dark psychological bent he gave his long magnus opus.  I found it a difficult poem to read.  Couldn’t quite get into a good rhythm, so there are parts that seem more staccato than I would have liked.  It seemed more like one of those works that tries to evoke a series of feelings and images rather than telling a narrative tale.  It reminded me of the Coleridge poem, “Kubla Khan” (In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree …).  

You can find an interpretation of Browning’s poem on Sparknotes.  One of the takeaways of the poem is there is always sacrifice in the single minded devotion to a goal and sometimes that leads to some culture shock when others can’t quite understand what the goal was all for.  Logan from The Thirteenth Hour figures that at the end of his own long quest, as mentioned here.

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, by Thomas Moran (clicking on the picture takes you to the Wikipedia entry to this poem).

If you don’t know the story of Roland a la Stephen King, I highly recommend reading them or listening to the audio books (which are excellent).  The first novel, The Gunslinger, has a great opening line.  Below are some pictures from the novels in the series.

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The beginning of The Gunslinger

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Susannah Dean takes aim with Roland’s revolver, by Ned Dameron.

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Jake Chambers and Oy on the attack, by Michael Whelan.

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Jake and Roland at the clearing at the end of the path, by Michael Whelan.

As always, thanks for listening!

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