Sunday, December 25, 2016

Into the Land of Frost

I've always lived in the American South, but my heart resides elsewhere. What exact location, I know not, but my home state of North Carolina is simply too muggy for my liking (among other things...); I long for the snowy, gusty north. Perhaps Ireland, or Scandinavia, or the United Kingdom, or Canada?
But if I remain a citizen of the United States - and I might yet - then I suppose I'll relocate to a major city after college and eventually find lodgings in the upper latitudes of Middle America after I tire of urban life. I'm considering Boston or Seattle or Denver or Chicago, followed by some living abroad in both hot and cold locations - options include France, Finland, Thailand, South Africa, or Iceland - and eventually settling somewhere in the Midwest or Rockies. Preferably in a small cabin packed with mounds of books and a nice hearth.
Currently, I'm in Kane County, Illinois (roughly an hour west of Chicago), and I just walked outside for nearly an hour. It's Christmas Day, four days after Yule (winter solstice), and about 35 degrees Fahrenheit last I checked.
I probably could have been out there for several more hours, if I'd brought earmuffs. I'm naturally extremely tolerant to cold. ( sub-optimal diet might play a minor role there.) People think I'm a polar bear in a human hide, or of Nordic descent, but my ancestry is more Celtic--primarily Irish and Scottish, with a bit of English on my mother's side and a tiny drop of German on my father's. I suppose that's why I "pink" instead of tanning--I become a great scarlet lobster in the sun!
But cold is truly my comfort zone. I do intend to travel - extensively, in fact, and I'll be sure to blog about it - but I'd prefer for my base to be somewhere nice and cool, like Alaska or Montana or Michigan or Ohio.
In other words, I'm having a good time right now.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lesser-Known Books

Christopher Paolini once gave excellent advice to those seeking less famous readings: ask published authors directly, or browse used bookstores. Both are good ideas, and I have benefited from both--but especially used bookstores.

Plenty of those abound where I live, and I've befriended at least one cashier. At this store, I have found past installments of Year's Best SF, Penguin Classics editions of The Lair of the White Worm and The Jewel of Seven Stars, The Glass Dragon by Irene Radford, several Rachel Neumeier novels, poetry collections by Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson, The Mummy by Anne Rice, Secret Windows (a rare nonfiction volume by Stephen King), The Stonor Eagles by William Horwood, Sorcery Rising by Jude Fisher, and The Dragon Queen by Alice Borchardt.

Of course, author recommendations don't hurt. These include The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison and The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, among others.

So don't just stop at what you know--go and explore! You never know what's waiting.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Image: The Rose

Painting a Rose and Other Matters

Earlier this morning, I did what I had resolved to do several days hence: I painted a rose. Using acrylic paints - green and red, with a splash of blue for the petals' shading - I did so in a remarkably brief amount of time.

It was far from perfect. Having said that, it was a step forward for me. Lately I've been trying to achieve more. One can get so stuck in planning things out that one neglects to actually put ideas into practice; I try not to fall into such ruts, but doing very little is startlingly easy. Indeed, I have many passions and interests across the arts and sciences, and so it often requires little effort to leave out something. An average day for me ought to include reading, writing, blogging, drawing, painting, exercise, piano practice, guitar practice, and some coding. It's more difficult than it sounds, jamming all of that into every single day.

Perhaps I need to simplify my days by cutting out a few of those activities, or maybe I just need to become accustomed to them. I suspect both will help.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Greetings, friends! As of yesterday, I am now done with my spring semester at school. Many who know me ask, "What will you do this summer, Danny?" Well, I have plans to travel a bit--this weekend I'm going to the mountains of North Carolina, and I intend to go to New York City and Toronto with a friend in mid-July, plus a hopeful trip to Florida to visit some old friends at some point before this autumn.

I also intend to resume either music or art lessons, as well as something physical--maybe sword-fighting or ninjutsu, or fencing or archery. A friend recently invited me to take circus acrobatics lessons with them, so that's certainly something to consider. As for guitar, piano, painting, and drawing: I can practice on my own, but lessons may not hurt, if I can afford them.

Believe it or not, I'm even beginning to consider singing once more. It might help my speaking voice, if anything.... I eventually want to be able to sing and play a few basic instruments (piano, guitar, violin) as well as some less "mainstream" ones (bagpipe, mandolin, taiko, erhu). I don't need to be perfect at all of them, but I do enjoy variety. The 'pipes might prove difficult, not only due to being a tough one to play, but due to potential complaints from family or neighbors--those things are loud!

As for painting, I recently painted a flower in a field with oil paints and acrylics (the moral is, don't mix the two if you want an easy task!), and an acrylic dragon head (pictured above), based on a  pair of identical bookends I own. Having bought several more canvases of varying sizes, I fully intend to paint more.

The other great thing? I have more time to read and write (and blog) now! I have several novels and screenplays plotted out or in the works, a bit of which I've actually written in some cases, and a heavy reading list. My own writing is mostly epic fantasy - my first love - but I've also got urban fantasy, science fiction (mainly inter-dimensional stuff and one dealing with neuroscience and cognitive psychology), supernatural horror, and even a few realistic pieces--both dramatic and comedic. Summer will be a good time to write more.

For those interested, my reading list includes the following:
  • Elantris, Warbreaker, The Way of Kings, and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Wish, Fairest, and A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine
  • Inkspell, Inkdeath, and Reckless by Cornelia Funke
  • How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker
  • Cosmos by Carl Sagan
  • Hyperspace and Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Holy Bible (King James Version)
  • The Qur'an (modern English translation)
  • Druid Power by Amber Wolfe
  • It and The Shining by Stephen King
  • Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  • ...and more!
I may or may not finish all of those, and it's subject to change, but I'm excited to have more time now!

Additionally, I'm going to see if I can access any horse farms, local or otherwise, within the next few months. I haven't ridden in a couple of years.

One can only hope that all this distracts me from the blazing Southern sun.