April 29, 2014

Hockey Blues

 
 
Well, what a year for hockey, and for the Ottawa Senators. They had a few great games here and there, but what a shitty season. So shitty I barely bothered to blog about the games. I wasn't surprised that they didn't make the playoffs, though I always wanted them to.
 
Since they didn't make it through, I went for the St Louis Blues as my playoff hopeful. Now they're gone.
 
Speaking of playoffs and hockey, The Rivalry will happen again this year: Montreal vs Boston. And I say, go Boston.
 
Pittsburgh will most likely play New York (go Pitts), Chicago will play either Colorado or Minnesota (the playoff underdog), and Anaheim will play either LA or San Jose.
 
From here on out till the Cup, we should have some interesting hockey games.

April 28, 2014

Essential Fantasy Novels according to Chapters

I believe it was when season 2 of Game of Thrones was beginning to air that Chapters, a national bookstore (a Canadian version of Barnes and Noble) featured tables and displays with some Thrones merchandise, as well tables and displays marked as 'If You Like Game of Thrones, Try These...' and I can recall seeing some titles on display such as The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham, Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell, and some by Ken Follett (I forget if it was Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, or Fall of Giants. 

Anyway, now that the newest season has begun, Chapters has a similar section on their website. Here are the books they list:


April 24, 2014

Third Film of 'Hobbit' Trilogy Gets Official Title



Peter Jackson officially made the announcement today:


Our journey to make The Hobbit Trilogy has been in some ways like Bilbo's own, with hidden paths revealing their secrets to us as we've gone along. “There and Back Again” felt like the right name for the second of a two film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo’s arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced—after all, Bilbo has already arrived “there” in the "Desolation of Smaug".

When we did the premiere trip late last year, I had a quiet conversation with the studio about the idea of revisiting the title. We decided to keep an open mind until a cut of the film was ready to look at. We reached that point last week, and after viewing the movie, we all agreed there is now one title that feels completely appropriate.

And so: "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" it is.

As Professor Tolkien intended, “There and Back Again” encompasses Bilbo’s entire adventure, so don’t be surprised if you see it used on a future box-set of all three movies.

Before then however, we have a film to finish, and much to share with you. It’s been a nice quiet time for us—Jabez and I happily editing away in a dark cave in Wellington—but those halcyon days are quickly coming to an end. It will soon be time to step into the light. Expect to see and hear much about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in the coming months.

And there’s also The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Cut, which we’re in the process of finishing, with over 25 mins of new scenes, all scored with original music composed by Howard Shore.

It’ll be a fun year!

April 23, 2014

An Update





So I bet you're wondering how The Saga of Kalvel is coming. 

It's going well, but slow. I'm not putting into as much time writing the series as I'd like. It's still being thought of in my head, and I'm only able to get to it part time, but I'm still planning and writing at the same time. This weekend I'm hoping to binge through some. 

I'm working on the third chapter for one character, and would like to start the first chapter for another character. I begun as early as Dec. 2011, and my deadline is August of 2016, but so far I have approx about 40 completed manuscript pages that I'm thinking of going back to until the first draft is completely done. 

Now.

That's manuscript pages. 

If I were total everything I'd ever written about Kalvel, it would be closer to around 100 (give or takr about 15 either direction, some things are in various states.)

I've said before and again that the most difficult volumes I forsee will be the first (tying everything together from drafts, outlines, geography, timeline...) and the final volume (wrapped everything up in a conclusion).

So in short it's coming slower that I'd like. I wouldn't say I have writers block, but there is enormous thought, background, planning and research before the actual writing begins, or to allow it to progress forward up to my satisfaction. Once I have my first volume done, I'm anticipating it should be better and easier as I go. 

I know where in the story certain things will happen, so my next order of business for the first volume is to start outlining the character chapters and add detail, flesh it out... I already know which characters will be easier and harder to write. 

I'm hoping that the writing will go well, and I'll be able to make that August '16 deadline. I'd want and to not let everyone down. That's the soonest I would like to realistically estimate it being done. 

My range for manuscript length per volume is 800-1050 pages. Anything longer than 1050, I'll cut out (of the main series, not for future....), use later, or, depending on the volume, merely extend into two parts. 

Before I end, I'll upload some pictures I added on the facebook page, for those who don't have nor use facebook.

Much the way that New Zeland stands in for Middle-earth, and some parts of our planet stands in for Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms, so do some locales for Kalvel.....  




 

New Editions of Tolkien Books, Because It's Anniversary Time



There seem to be new editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings headed our way in the fall [but not for The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales or Children of Hurin?]
 
They are different from each other.
 
 
 
For The Hobbit, it was a reproduction of the very first edition ever published - before Tolkien revised it to better tie-in with Lord of the Rings [I'm not referring to his planned re-write after Lord of the Rings came out which he abandoned]. Most of us know of the current revised 'second' edition, as it had been in circulation longer than the original first book. 
 
But now we are given a chance to read the complete original 1937 text. The description officially reads as:

The Hobbit was published on 21 September 1937 with a print run of 1,500 copies. With a beautiful cover design by the author and a coloured frontispiece painting, the book proved to be popular and was reprinted within three months, and history was already being made.

The scarcity of the first edition has resulted in copies commanding huge prices, way beyond the reach of most Tolkien fans. In addition, subsequent changes to the text - particularly those to chapter five when Tolkien decided to expand the text to marry it up to events in The Lord of the Rings - mean that the opportunity to read the book in its original form and format has become quite difficult.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of publication, this special edition reprints the first edition, so that Tolkien’s book may be enjoyed in its original form. Included in the box is a CD featuring recordings of Tolkien reading extracts from the book, including more than half an hour of archive recordings only recently discovered and never before released. In addition, a full colour booklet traces the origins of The Hobbit and its publication history, complete with a gallery of artwork and covers for this remarkable book.
 
(ISBN: 9780007440832 )
 
Also, in November the newly-illustrated edition by Jemima Catlin will be published in paperback. ( ISBN: 9780007497935 ) 
 
 
 
Lord of the Rings is also being given 60th anniversary treatment. It appears that the edition published for the 50th anniversary, which features Lord of the Rings as Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King in hardback, with the Reader's Companion, all in a box set.
( ISBN: 9780007581146 )
 
ed note: Special treatment has been given to The Hobbit lately: Art of The Hobbit, History of The Hobbit, as well as new illustrated editions and deluxe editions. 
 
I also fully expect additional variations of the facsimile Hobbit, (paperback? non-deluxe?) and the new 60th anniversary, 2014 editions of Lord of the Rings to be sold out of the box. 
 
My favorite are the illustrated paperbacks I've linked and talked about throughout my blogging career, but it's nice to have variety. 

April 21, 2014

My Favourite Beer





As some members of my friends and family can attest to, I drink a lot of beer that's not quite run of the mill to the average person. To the beer afficindo, they could be considered greats...hell I love them. 

If you've been reading this blog for a while, it should come as no surprise that I quite enjoy Mill St, Beau's, and other craft breweries (keep an eye on Whitewater). A good number of them are Ontario microbreweries, so I apologize for mentioning something you can't have depending on where in the world you live. 

My favorite beer, however, has to be the 'Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale'. It is brewed by Beau's, however, it is not their recipe from what I understand. It is thus far the only beer in the 'B-Side' brewling label. Uusually Beau's bottles are engraved with the famous tractor logo; Kissmeyer bottles are engraved with a record patterning. So Beau's basically brew's another recipe and that's the distinction.



I myself am not that familiar with Kissmeyer, but this is a Nordic Pale Ale, so perhaps they are based off of Denmark somewhere. As of this writing I'm unsure. 

So what about the beer, you ask?

I'll merely copy + paste from Beau's description of the ale here, for they can describe better than I can:

B-Side Brewing Label 5.6% alc/vol Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale is an imaginative interpretation of the Pale Ale style and features a unique northern-inspired medley of ingredients. Sweet Gale, Yarrow, Dried Heather Flowers, Rose Hips, and Cranberries comprise its balanced fruit-and-herb bouquet, while a Maple-Syrup addition rounds out the complex character of the beer. The Nordic pale ale features intricate herbal nuance, moderate hop presence, pleasant dryness, and a crisp finish.
A one-man gypsy brewing company, Kissmeyer Beer creates innovative beers with a distinct personal and unique character, brewed to an exemplary degree of technical quality, inspired by and often brewed in collaboration with world-class brewer friends and colleagues. Nordic Pale Ale is a pioneering style for Kissmeyer, intended to fuse the best in modern brewing techniques with ingredients that reflect Nordic and Canadian traditions.

It is quite delicious. It's a pale ale, so that means hops & bitter but not unbearingly so. I've had bitter-er, and it's well balanced. I do hope that Beau's continues to brew the Nordic Pale Ale, as well as potentially add to the B-Side Brewing Label. 

Before I close this post, of Beau's recipes that I like the most is the staple Lug Tread Lager, and the Tom Green Milk Stout. Please keep those three coming, boys.

You can purchase the Nordic Pale Ale from the LCBO, Beau's Brewery itself, or have it delivered via http://www.beaus.ca/bybo

Right before pushing 'Publish' I saw this article:

Beau’s All Natural Brewing formally introduced the new “B-Side Brewing Label” in Etobicoke last night at It’s a Beer World, one of many Ontario Craft Beer Week events hosted by the brewery. The announcement, which was made live to hundreds of attendees, detailed a new brewing venture that will see internationally renowned brewers brands produced, sold, and delivered from the award-winning Eastern Ontario craft brewery, under the umbrella of the B-Side label. Beau’s co-founder, Steve Beauchesne, explains that B-Side is “like a record label, but for beer. Not to sound too prolific or anything, but I think this project might totally change the way beer is sold in this province.” He adds: “B-Side is not about new beers from Beau’s — it’s us travelling the globe to meet cool, like-minded brewers, and then working with them to create authentic versions of their recipes we can brew fresh right here in Ontario.”
On hand for the announcement was Ander Kissmeyer of Kissmeyer Beer in Denmark, a brewer who is the first to “sign” to the B-Side Brewing Label. His B-Side creation, called Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale, features a unique northern-inspired medley of ingredients including sweet gale, yarrow, dried heather flowers, rose hips, and cranberries for a balanced fruit-and-herb bouquet, while a maple syrup addition rounds out the character of the beer.
B-Side’s pilot batch of Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale will be on tap at select restaurants and pubs in Ontario in June, and bottled in very limited quantities at the Beau’s All Natural retail store and home delivery in Ottawa through BYBO. B-Side will put Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale into year-round production at the Beau’s brewery this fall, for sale through the LCBO retail chain. More information about the new B-Side Brewing Label will be released over the coming months at www.b-side.ca.
BEAU’S All Natural Brewing is a small, family-run company founded in 2006. BEAU’S brews interesting, tasty beers using the highest-quality organic ingredients, and local spring water. A member of the Ontario Craft Brewers, BEAU’S is a recipient of numerous international awards for brewing excellence, including 2 GOLD medal s at Mondial de la Bière (Strasbourg, France, and Montreal, Quebec), five GOLD medals at the Canadian Brewing Awards, “Best Craft Brewery in Ontario” (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007) and “Best Craft Beer in Ontario” (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007) at the Golden Tap Awards, as well as “Best Beer” and “Best Brewery” at the National Capital Craft Beer Festival. BEAU’S was chosen by CAFE as the 2010 Canadian Family Enterprise of the Year. BEAU’S signature fundraising event, Oktoberfest, was selected as a 2011 finalist for Best Ontario Culinary Tourism Experience. BEAU’S flagship and seasonal beers are available throughout most of Ontario. BEAU's entire line of beer is certified organic by Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd.
- 30 -
To access high-res photo:
B-Side Brewing Label Photo
http://www.beaus.ca/images/bside-logo.jpg
For more information, please contact:
Steve Beauchesne, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.
10 Terry Fox Drive, Vankleek Hill, ON K0B 1R0
Toll-free at 866-585-BEER, (613) 678-2799 x.220 regular business hours
http://www.beaus.ca
 

Farewell, Windows XP.....



It happened not long ago, but Microsoft has ended its support for one of their operating systems, Windows XP. 

Microsoft has had their share of flubs over the years. My own experience consists of Windows 3.1, DOS, (is that made my Microsoft? I'll be sure to check when I'm less busy), Windows 95, Windows 95, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Also, I've used Vista, 7 and a little bit of 8. It was Windows XP that I've used the longest, however. 

It launched way back in the fall of 2001, and built upon and enhanced (in my mind) upon the structure that Microsoft had been building since Windows 95, and were finally able to perfect at that point with technology and resources. 

It used the familiar appearance and engine that began with Windows 95, but upgraded and enhanced it. It went on to further enhancements through Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Windows 8 uses an app based approach. 

XP also launched with Home and Professional editions. Professional allowing more control and access into the O/S itself, whereas the Home was more basic and ideal for everyday use. One would use Home for 'leisure' and Professional at work, or over a network. 

Later, 64-bit editions also followed, as well as two service packs. 

Windows XP was Microsoft's operating system at lasted the longest and still was popular. It's only limitations were the fact that the operating system could do so much as hardware got more and more advanced. With the flop of Windows Vista, all the bugs etc, people either kept Windows XP, or 'downgraded' because XP was more stable. When Windows 7, the completed version of Windows Vista launched, there were a few bumps here and there but ultimately it became XP's successor and XP began to die out. 

And now, as of April 2014, support for XP has ended. 

I've used XP since it came out on a few PCs of mine. Hell, it's still on my current PC but this year I will update it and with it, the operating system among everything else. 

Farewell Windows, XP. Thank you 13 years of memories.

"Good times, Bad times, You know I've had them all" - Led Zeppelin.

April 18, 2014

Aegon's Conquest: World of Ice and Fire Sample



George R.R. Martin has posted a sample from the forthcoming World of Ice and Fire book. the sample is entitled 'Aegon's Conquest', and can be found here: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/world-of-ice-and-fire-sample/ . Enjoy!

Spring Beer Season



It's that time of year again - new season, means new beers get rotated. 

There a re a few offerings by both Beau's and Mill St.

Beau's is now offering the "Beaver River", which is their standard spring seasonal IPA. It is quite good, and as most real IPAs go, bitter. But not overbearingly so. This one of the IPAs that got me to be able to drink them. Some can be too bitter if you're not used to IPAs, but this was a great 'gateway'. It's available at the brewery, on bybo.ca , or the LCBO. For info on it, head to here:  http://www.beaus.ca/beer/seasonals/beaver_river



Also, Mill St is offering their Spring Seasonal Mix Pack, which features two types of beer: The Portage Ale (made here in Ottawa, and for a while was exclusive to the Ottawa brewpub, nut now can be purchased in this mix pack), as well as the 'Spring Thaw Maple Ale.' It's good, but not 'maple-y' enough. I recommend the mix pack, but if you could only get the Portage Ale, go for that. The Maple Ale is good, but disappointing in the maple department. Nevertheless, head on to the Mill st Brewpub in Ottawa (where I will be celebrating my 30th) and give it a shot, and if you like it, pick up a growler (if they still sell it as a growler) or the Spring Seasonal Mix Pack.

Portage Ale:

(5.0% alc./vol.)
Born at our Ottawa brewpub this is “old school" cream ale. Brewed in the style of several beers made long ago by breweries from the Lebreton flats upon which our brewpub is located. This beer is an easy-drinking, crisp, thirst quenching ale with a deep golden colour and bright white head. It is fermented twice, once with ale yeast to produce a creamy, robust palate and then again through a secondary fermentation with lager yeast to develop a smooth and mellow character – truly unique to this classic North American beer style!








April 14, 2014

2014 Playoffs



me: Bruins, Lightning, Pens, Flyers, Avalanche, Blues, Stars, Kings. I'm really rooting for the St Louis Blues. With Ottawa out, I'm going for a western team.
 

Dunk and Egg Update



Recently George R.R. Martin provided an update for A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. What follows is a re-post from his own 'Not a Blog'. 

April 13, 2014

TV Alert: "Mad Men" Season 7



Tonight the final season of Mad Men begins. Much like Breaking Bad, this final season is split into two. The name of the episode to watch for is called 'Time Zones".

April 12, 2014

Keep Calm and Carrie On


Aside from reading and writing altely, I've always been watching some TV here and there.

I recently finished up the first season of Homeland, which was quite good. I'm looking forward to Netflix Canada posting the other seasons, as they only have season one. Hell on Wheels, also took care of the first season not long ago. 

I also finished up the series for Avatar, which I liked more than I thought I would initially with season one. Oh, Futurama as well, which is over...for good?

Presently though, I'm watching Clone Wars. I'm not much of a Star Wars fan, but I enjoy the space battles and light saber fights while eating for instance. I'm also working my way through House of Cards. I've only seen the first episode, and I thought it was quite good. Then again, I've been a fan of David Fincher's work since Fight Club and Seven. 

Finally on the shows list which I'm presently watching is Stargate (SG-1). I'm still very early on in, but it's enjoyable so far, and one of 'sci-fi's greats', with Star Trek (up to you to decide which series you like best), the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, and Firefly

I give Homeland a very solid and well-balanced 8/10.

Expect my next TV review to be for House of Cards season one.  Also working on that spring beer entry. But now it's back to Kalvel.    

April 10, 2014

Armourded Company of the Sword Events



Well, mine own writing is going well. I regret that I can only write 'part time' but Kalvel is always being thought of, fear not! It may be a bit before Volume One becomes a BOOK, and I hope (but am not promising) to have the rest out shortly thereafter: approx no more than three years between each book.
 
Anyway, a break!
 
For you Ottawa Citizens (or nearby) that like medieval weapons, armour and what not, Armoured Company of the Sword has some events coming up following this Saturday's which I covered in a post previously.
 
Ottawa Comic Con. Check out the Guild booth: selling swords, armour, and talking about class. Bill will also be holding his panel about armour and swords on the Saturday. I plan on topping by either the booth or panel, depending on times, and discussing weapons and armour a bit; because of the series I'm writing. It is my hopes to have a booth set up (not picky of size or duration) as early as the next con. http://www.ottawacomiccon.com/
 
June 7th - 8th the Upper Canada Medieval Festival. Selling weapons and armour, and the fairgrounds also boast the Chivalric Productions Birds of Prey, potters, leather workers, events and games for young and old, and the always popular Knights of Valour jousting troop. http://www.uppercanadavillage.com/index.cfm/en/activities/special-events/medieval-festival/ 
 
July 12th – 13th is the Kingdom of Osgoode Medieval Festival. Live steel demonstration. After the demonstration there is the “Meet the Knights” portion. There are child friendly events, food vendors, and the Knights of Valour jousting troop. July 11th is education day for children aged 4 to 14. The passport the children will receive will also cover their admission fee for Saturday or Sunday if they come back with a parent.  http://www.osgoodemedievalfestival.com/
 
August 28th – 31st Bill, Brenda, and Jeff are headed down to FanExpo, selling weapons and armour. http://www.fanexpocanada.com/
 
November 8th is the 7th Annual Armoured Company of the Sword Pumpkin Massacre! Created for the purposes of training, mixed in with a little fun. Here students new and old can refine their striking and see how effective the techniques really are. The event is bring your own sword. Snacks and drinks are available throughout the day. A port-a-potty is available, and we ask all participants to donate to its rental. When the sun begins to set and cleanup is done, we then all head out to the DNS BBQ for a buffet dinner. Tickets to the buffet will be available for purchase closer to the event.

The sites is http://www.armouredswords.ca/

April 9, 2014

Game of Dragons

From the How to Train Your Dragon facebook page, here are some great Game of Thrones / Dragons crossovers....

This one is a little less obvious. Kit Harrington who plays Jon Snow on the HBO Thrones, does the voice for this character in Dragon 2, hence this image.  






Lastly, the above image spoofs House Stark's sigil (as seen on HBO posters http://fangirlshub.com/fgh/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/wallpaper-stark-1600-290x290.jpg ).

I enjoy both Thrones and Dragons so this neat to see. And after season 4 ends, I'll get my big fantasy fix by seeing the second film in theaters. 

"Breaking Bad" Complete Series blu-ray



Breaking Bad finally gets the 'complete series' treatment on blu-ray on June 3. Read more info, courtesy of tvshowsondvd.com : 

April 8, 2014

"Hell on Wheels" Season 1 Review...and Why You Should Watch


Not long ago, I finished watching the first season of AMC's drama, Hell on Wheels.

Blades, Beer, and Maple

This Saturday, there's going to be a good 'ol treat to be had.
 
Armoured Company of the Sword and Beau's are pairing up at Temple's Sugarbush for a fantastic day of entertainment. There's going to be swords and knights. There's going to be Beau's beer. There's going to be maple. What more could one want? For full details, head on over to :

Would that I could attend this year, but sadly too much to be done. I'm fleshing out some history on one of the factions, as well as outlining a next chapter for Volume One. It's a character that will be one of the main five, but I haven't written anything about her yet.
 
One of our Partners, Beau's Brewery will be joining us on Saturday April 12th with beer samples at the door!

Then you can try a Breakfast Biscuit with smoked ham, Swiss cheese and egg in a buttermilk biscuit, served with home style potatoes...and a glass of Lugtread.

They are a local, family-run and totally DIY company in Vankleek Hill. Brewing interesting, award winning, tasty beers using the highest quality, all natural ingredients like certified organic hops & malts and local spring water. They are super awesome to work with and we can't wait to have Molly visit us!

MENU http://www.templessugarbush.ca/pancake-house/menu/

NATURE TRAIL http://www.templessugarbush.ca/pancake-house/nature-trail/
Contact Information:
 
 

1700 Fergson's Falls Rd
Lanark, Ontario
K0G1K0
On Google Maps
GPS Coordinates: N, W

Email: Beau's Brewery at Temple's Sugar Bush
Phone: 613-253-7000
Fax: 613-253-0099
Website: www.templessugarbush.ca/pancake-house/
 
 
So go and enjoy!

"Game of Thrones" Double Renewal (Seasons Five and Six a Go)



As you may have heard by now, Game of Thrones has gotten renewed. What's surprising, though, is that it was a double renewal. So the show will go on till at least six seasons.
Meanwhile, no news yet on Book Six, The Winds of Winter in the book series which it's based upon. Although I have a feeling we'll hear something anytime between now and May 29. May 30th is George's first 'major' appearance since about November and I have a feeling that he'll submit the manuscript for The Winds of Winter prior to departure (maybe sooner), with an announcement. Either way, I hope it's going well for him, and that Six and Seven give him minimal issue. 

April 7, 2014

"Two Swords" [spoiler-free] Episode Review

Finally, House Martell of Dorne made its appearance on Game of Thrones

And this is why I watch and enjoy Game of Thrones.

I am first and foremost a fan of the books. They are more enjoyable to me than watching someone's version of it. But that someone has overall been doing  a great job.

This episode had it all for me, as well as all the characters advancing, and introducing some new ones....most notably some family members of House Martell, a house we've never seen up until now (looking forward to actually seeing Dorne.)

The episode begins with the forging of 'Two Swords', which serves as a nice intro to the season, and episode. From there, we meet the Martells of House Dorne....let's just say that Lannister haters have a new house to support.   

All the main characters get re-introduced (and any secondary and tirtiary characters will get caught up with in future episodes.) I've read Blood and Gold, and A Feast for Crows (heck, also Dreams and Dust and After the Feast) so I know what's generally coming...but I look forward to seeing how it will be pulled off, as well as any changes made. To me, as a reader, this felt like the books.

As mentioned, I'm a big fan of the books, but this series passes the time quite well until the next one. Bring on Episode Two, ("The Lion and the Rose") as well as the rest of the season. 

Sometime soon, something fans have been thirsting for will finally happen...that's my non-spoiler tease.

I give the episode a solid:

9/10

 

April 6, 2014

TV Alert: "Game of Thrones" Season Four



As you may well know, tonight Season Four of Game of Thrones begins airing. The name of the episode is titled "Two Swords". The season is expected to finish on June 15. Please see my 'Game of Thrones Goodies' post to help pass the time before the season starts, between episodes, and the wait between Season Four and Season Five (and the wait for The Winds of Winter.... I will write a review of that episode after I see it. 

April 4, 2014

Call to Arms - "Elder Scrolls Online" Now Available



At long last, The Elder Scrolls Online is now available for PC /Mac. Head on over to the official site to download the game. I would if I could, but my PC is somewhat outdated (doesn't meet the specs to play 'comfortably'...you know, fully maxed out). I do intend to get a new desktop at some point this year, so I'll join then.




I will be playing 'Daggerfall Covenant' as a Breton. Have fun, and remember that this is not Elder Scrolls VI, nor is it meant to be.

PC Recommended System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 7 64-bit or Windows 8 64-bit
Processor: Quad Core 2.3GHz or equivalent processor
Memory: 4GB System RAM
Hard Disk Space: 60GB free HDD space
Video Card: Direct X 11 compliant video card with 2GB of RAM (NVIDIA® GeForce® 560 Ti / ATI Radeon™ 6950 or better)
Sound: DirectX compatible sound card

PC Minimum System Requirements

Operating System: Windows XP 32-bit
Processor: Dual Core 2.0GHz or equivalent processor
Memory: 2GB System RAM
Hard Disk Space: 60GB free HDD space
Video Card: DirectX 9.0 compliant video card with 512MB of RAM (NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 / ATI Radeon™ 2600 or better)
Sound: DirectX compatible sound card


MAC Recommended System Requirements

Operating System: Mac® OS X 10.7.0 or later
Processor: Intel® i5
Video Card: NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 650M or ATI™ Radeon™ HD 5770 or better
Memory: 4GB Ram
Storage: 60GB
Media: DVD-ROM

MAC Minimum System Requirements

Operating System: Mac® OS X 10.7.0 or later
Processor: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo
Video Card: Intel™ HD Graphics 4000, NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 330M or ATI™ Radeon™ HD 6490M or better
Memory: 4GB Ram
Storage: 60GB
Media: DVD-ROM
Resolution: 1024X768 minimum display resolution


April 2, 2014

Facebooked

At long last, I've created a Facebook page for...myself! This, of course, is for me as an author and all things writing. I will still blog, but if you want the 'official' facebook page, or status updates (which will be covered via the blog, just not as frequent due to the length of a status vs length of an entry). So head here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jeffrey-R-Hawboldt/717955721550094 if you wish to stay connected beyond the blog. I'll link all my blog posts there, little status teases, a few pics etc.
 

Guy Gavriel Kay



The problem with being a reader, and one who visits bookstores often, is that you constantly discover new books and authors. When your reading pile is large, that can be a problem. However, the obvious benefit is that you get exposure to lets of (hopefully) good books.
 
 
 
That being said, one author who I've heard of in passing a few times over the years but haven't read yet, is Guy Gavriel Kay. Tolkien fans may recognize the name, as he worked with Christopher Tolkien on a little book called The Silmarillion. Wikipedia states:

When
Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien's unpublished work, he chose Kay, then a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba, whose parents were friends of Baillie Tolkien's parents. Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in the editing of The Silmarillion. There he learnt a lot about writing and editing, and later admitted of Tolkien's influence, "to be successful in fantasy, you have to take the measure of Tolkien—work with his strengths and away from his weaknesses"
 
After which, he began work on his own fiction, which includes:
 
 
 
The Fionavar Tapestry (The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, and The Darkest Road) concerning five people from our Earth in a parallel world, "the first of all worlds,"
 
 
 
Tigana Relating to a sorcerer-oppressed realm in a medieval Italy analogue
 
 
 
The Lions of Al-Rassan The story of two military strategists (one an El Cid analogue) in a medieval Spain analogue.
 
 
 
The Sarantine Mosiac (Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emporers) a mosaicist under emperor Valerius II (a Justinian I analogue) in Sarantium (a Constantinople analogue)
 
 
 
Last Light of the Sun  A story based on the Erling (Viking analogue culture) invasions of Anglcyn (which is an analogue of Saxon-England) and Cyngael (a medieval Wales analogue) during the rule of Aeldred (an analogue of Alfred the Great).
 
 
 
Ysabel A modern urban fantasy set in Provence, centering around a teenage boy and his encounters with characters from the distant past. Explicitly if lightly linked to The Fionavar Tapestry, featuring two of its main characters as supporting roles.
 
 
 
Under Heaven A story based on the 8th century Tang Dynasty and the events leading up to the An Shi Rebellion.
 
 
 
River of Stars (set in same world was Under Heaven) A story set in the same timeline as Under Heaven, based on the 12th century Song Dynasty and the events around the Jin-Song Wars and the transition from Northern Song to Southern Song.
 
Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid. Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, though the author himself has expressed a preference to shy away from genre categorization when possible.
 
Some of his work sounds pretty interesting and unique, and not 'staple' or 'formulaic' fantasy. Authors such as Brandon Sanderson, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss have mmixed up the genre a little bit so it doesn't feel like you're reading Tolkien. Reading Tolkien is perfectly fine - if the author's name is Tolkien. Many (but not all, such as Earthsea) fantasy books from the '60s to the '90s have 'imitated' the Tolkien style of writing, so it's good to see different approaches and styles in the field of fantasy.
 
Anyway, not to veer too far off track here...I will most likely check out some of Kay's works once my reading pile calms down a bit - no more 'large' series for instance. So that may be a while yet, but I'm looking forward to getting there.
 
If any of you have read Kay, please share your non-spoiler thoughts below. Oh, and thanks to the Wikipedia page on Kay for assistance for this post.