Pith Helmet

With A Name Like “Hey Oscar Wilde! It’s Clobberin’ Time!!!”, It’s Gotta Be Good.
July 1, 2008, 4:00 am
Filed under: Books | Tags: ,

With A Name Like “Hey Oscar Wilde! It’s Clobberin’ Time!!!”, It’s Gotta Be Good.

At Hey Oscar Wilde! It’s Clobberin’ Time!!!, Steve Gettis has assembled “a personal art collection of various artists interpreting their favourite literary figure/author/character that has been accumulated since 03.1998.” Among my favorites are Dale Berry’s Sir Harry Flashman, Tim Bradstreet’s Nosferatu, Mike Mignola’s Jacob Marley and Dracula, Leland Purvis’s Sir Richard F. Burton, Steve Skorce’s Doc Savage, and Walt Simonson’s J. R. R. Tolkien and Michael Moorcock.


Pulp Post
June 8, 2008, 5:09 am
Filed under: Books

When I went to the public library last week, on their “For Sale” book carts, I noticed Mage: The Ascension (2nd Edition) and Chaosium’s Call of Cthulu. Since neither the lint, the cough drops, nor the gas pump receipt in my pocket are considered negotiable instruments, I had to pass up these rare finds. When I went back today, I managed to get Mage, but some other small-town geek had netted Call of Cthulu. However, as I browsed further I managed to find quite a few books (some of which were first editions) that more than made up for my missing out on the Cthulu book.

  • Rohmer, Sax. Grey Face. New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1924.
  • Price, E. Hoffman. Far Lands Other Days. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Carcosa, 1975.
  • Hartley, L. P. The Travelling Grave and Other Stories. Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1948.
  • Jacobi, Carl. Portraits in Moonlight. Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1964.
  • Derleth, August (Ed.). Fire And Sleet And Candlelight. Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1964.
  • Van Ash, Cay and Elizabeth Sax Rohmer. Master of Villainy: A Biography of Sax Rohmer. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1972.
  • The Worlds of TSR: A Pictorial Journey Through the Landscape of Imagination
  • Greene, L. Patrick. Fire And Other Stories of The Major. Bloomington, Illinois: Black Dog Books, 2000.
  • Robeson, Kenneth. The Polar Treasure: Doc Savage. New York: Bantam Books, 1963.

    I got them all for the low, low price of two dollars total!!!

    However, I wouldn’t have minding getting a piece of the mother lode that hit today.

    Walk on The Wildey Side
    Tip o’ the pith helmet to Jay at Drawn!: The Illustration & Cartooning Blog for recommending Jeff Parker’s original graphic novel, The Interman. With praise like “it’s ’60’s Hanna-Barbera Alex Toth/ Doug Wildey vibe,” The Interman is a must-read. You may remember Parker’s writing talents in Agents of Atlas.

  • Enter The Interman

  • He Will Be Mythed
    May 23, 2008, 9:40 am
    Filed under: Books

    h/t Boing Boing
    One of the phrases bandied about in gaming and writing circles is “world building.” Some writers become so obsessed with the perfecting the art that they never actually produce the work for which the world was created. Still others, realizing the difficulty of the task, abandon the notion altogether preferring to set their fantasy work in the real world. Robert Asprin was a World Builder among World Builders. He created Sanctuary, a literal thieves’ world, a city that makes Mos Eisley look like Stepford, Connecticut. It was a place that managed to lure in such masters of the craft as Poul Anderson, Philip José Farmer, Andrew J. Offutt, and A. E. van Vogt. He also gave us some delightful non-Thieves’ World characters as well: Aahz, Skeeve, and Captain Willard J. Phule.

    When I discovered Thieves’ World, I was already deep in my attempt to be involved in some aspect of gaming every waking moment. My own campaigns drew heavily on Asprin’s world and were made better for it. As a DM, I felt like a well-sated remora feeding off Kamohoali’i as I “borrowed” from his little corner of the Rankan Empire.

    Later, Aahz and Skeeve (admittedly along with some time spent in Xanth) convinced me that fantasy could have a sense of humor. And, years later, when my gaming time gave way to responsibility, the adventures of Phule & Company gave me some great short, light entertainment.



  • Myth Adventures Home

  • Crile, George. Charlie Wilson’s War, New York: Grove Press. 2003.
    May 12, 2008, 3:22 am
    Filed under: Books | Tags:

    As anyone who has ever typed in my url into their Windows Address Bar can attest, I love The Great Game. No, I’m talking not talking about foosball, jai alai, mumbleypeg, or even Lunch Money. The Great Game I refer to is the nineteenth and early twentieth century struggle for domination of Central Asia between the British and the Russian empires. The rivalry has been touched on by many of my favorite authors: George Macdonald Fraser, Peter Hopkirk, and Rudyard Kipling. Though nonfiction, Charlie Wilson’s War comes across as the perfect sequel to the books of that era. It addresses the genesis of what former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzenski suggested was the “New Great Game”: the U.S. involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War.

    Grile’s book is filled with all of the cloak-and-dagger derring-do one would expect to find in the works of one of the great chroniclers of the original Great Game. The cast of real-life characters as colorful as any spawned by the imaginations of Fraser and Kipling. The central figure is skirt-chasing Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-Texas), whose love of whisky was exceeded only by his hatred of Communist oppression. Wilson emerges from the story as having played a larger, though less publicized, role in the collapse of the Evil Empire that Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II combined. One of Wilson’s colleagues, a fan of George Macdonald Fraser, even likened the Congressman to Harry Flashman and presented him with a copy of at least one of the novels. It was a comparison that Wilson embraced wholeheartedly:

    Curiously, Charlie took immediately to the Solarz analogy and declared that he was indeed Flashman. It may be that he l iked the cover; Flashman was, after all, a man caught up in great historical dramas. Even if he were a lout at heart, he did come through in the pinch, and Charlie found it easier to make this identification with his Afghan role than he did trying to define himself in a serious vein. He was just not able to dwell on himself as a hero without first loudly proclaiming that it was a lie. He actually began promoting the Flashman image. He created his own elite club of “Flashman’s Raiders.” Those he chose to initiate into this inner circle would get copies of the novels and a leather jacket with the club’s name embroidered on the back. He even wrote Gust at Langley describing the new organization and granting his old friend honorary membership.

    Other colorful characters in the dramatic history include the ultra right-wing socialite who seduces Charlie Wilson into the mujahideen cause, a CIA agent who would have been right at home at a Velentzas family reunion, a Playboy cover girl, a Knight of Malta, and an eccentric filibustering B-movie actor from Cherokee County, Georgia. While Allah’s intervention may have insured the mujahideen victory over the Soviets, it was Charlie Wilson who wrote the checks and who forged alliances between players as diverse as Islamic fundamentalists, Israeli gun merchants, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army that made it all possible — in the process, building an arsenal that included everything from high-tech Stinger surface-to-air missles to Tennessee mules.

    While it is full of intrigue and adventure and could stand alone as a jolly-good ripping yarn, Charlie Wilson’s War is enlightening as well. It provides vital information necessary to understand the events of September 11, 2001. Also, having read the story of Charlie Wilson, I can understand why my father and generations of men before him remained registered Democrats until the day they died. In spite of his many flaws, Wilson is a larger-than-life hero who understood politics and patriotism and successfully made the two work hand-in-hand.

    I’m Deviant Now
    I have a deviantArt account at http://oldcontemptible.deviantart.com. I don’t have anything in my gallery yet, and possibly never will. I just mainly made the account to keep track of my favorite artistes.

    Just In Time To Make War on Rock Starships and Scissors Starships
    Double tip o’ the pith helmet to for pointing me to Paper Starships, a now-defunct source for cardboard make-your-own models of starships from Homeworld, Star Trek, Star Wars, and other sources. Thanks to his info and my good friends at Internet Archive, I am now the proud owner of an Imperial Tie Fighter and a ship from some German TV show.

    Bond, Obama, & Joe
    April 19, 2008, 3:03 am
    Filed under: Books, Politics | Tags: ,

    May 28th, this year, marks the centenary of the birth of the man who gave the world James Bond, Ian Fleming. To celebrate Fleming’s life and lasting contribution to British culture, the Imperial War Museum will present the first major exhibition of Flemingiana. The exhibition runs from April 17, 2008, through Marc 1, 2009. Then, starting May 4, BBC Radio 4 will present a dramatization of Dr. No. Already, back in January, the Royal Mail began commemorating the Fleming centenary by issuing postage stamps featuring different editions of six of his novels.


  • Ian Fleming Centenary
  • For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond

    Smerconish on Obama
    After the Reverend Jeremiah Wright hit the fan, Barack Obama gave a speech on Race in America that was lauded by many as greater than the Gettysburg Address and “I Have A Dream” combined. Personally, I’d have preferred him give the following, addressed to The Reverend himself:

    I know thee not, old man: fall to thy prayers;
    How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
    I have long dream’d of such a kind of man,
    So surfeit-swell’d, so old and so profane;
    But, being awaked, I do despise my dream.
    Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace;
    Leave gormandizing; know the grave doth gape
    For thee thrice wider than for other men.
    Reply not to me with a fool-born jest:
    Presume not that I am the thing I was;
    For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
    That I have turn’d away my former self;
    So will I those that kept me company.
    When thou dost hear I am as I have been,
    Approach me, and thou shalt be as thou wast,
    The tutor and the feeder of my riots:
    Till then, I banish thee, on pain of death,
    As I have done the rest of my misleaders,
    Not to come near our person by ten mile.
    For competence of life I will allow you,
    That lack of means enforce you not to evil:
    And, as we hear you do reform yourselves,
    We will, according to your strengths and qualities,
    Give you advancement. Be it your charge, my lord,
    To see perform’d the tenor of our word. Set on.
    Henry IV Part 2, Act V, Scene v

    Still, Obama’s professed refusal to abandon the hunt for Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, which I learned of while listening to conservative talk radio guy Michael Smerconish, is almost enough to have me return to the party of my forefathers. If only I could quit clinging to my carbine and Christianity. While I don’t think our government should be deploying troops around willy-nilly within the borders of our allies, Obama makes some excellent points.
    Still, who is to say what’s going on in the cloak-and-dagger world? Just as the CIA was setting up the play that would finally allow the mujahideen to send the Soviets packing, Senator Gordon Humphreys (R-NH), totally unaware of a massive upgrade in weapons systems, unintentionally threatened to upset the whole apple-cart by mouthing off to the press that the Agency wasn’t doing enough. Still assuming the CIA was arming the insurgency with old AKs and even older .303 Enfields, Humphreys was unaware that the boys at Langley had secured everything from modern rifles to anti-tank weapons to surface-to-air missles with the help of everyone from the Swiss to the Israelis to the Chicoms.


  • Smerconish on Obama

    Quote of The Day
    “Old soldiers never die, your mom just throws them away.”
    -Anonymous G.I. Joe collector

  • Heraldr of The Secret Wars
    March 31, 2008, 3:10 am
    Filed under: Books, television

    Today, while watching Book TV on C-SPAN2, I discovered a book that I’m definitely adding to the readling list: I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World by Trevor Paglen. Paglen addressed an audience of scruffy-bearded Lone Gunmen types and black-clad Wonkette wannabes from a Brooklyn bookstore, giving them a lengthy powerpoint presentation on the information he uncovered. Among his revelations is that the National Reconnaissance Office has its own Hubbell telescope, only its pointed toward earth instead of away from it.

    Rule 303 (Canadian-style)
    February 4, 2008, 4:18 am
    Filed under: Books, Firearms

    A couple of additions to the reading queue:

    The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange by Mark Barrowcliffe

    The blurb from Amazon.com:

    It is Coventry, 1976. For a brief, blazing summer, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had the chance to be normal. He blew it. While other teenagers concentrated on being coolly rebellious, Mark – like twenty million other boys in the ’70s and ’80s – chose to spend his entire adolescence in fart-filled bedrooms pretending to be a wizard or a warrior, an evil priest or a dwarf. Armed only with pen, paper and some funny-shaped dice, this lost generation gave themselves up to the craze of fantasy role-playing games, stopped chatting up girls and started killing dragons. Extremely funny, not a little sad and really quite strange, “The Elfish Gene” is an attempt to understand the true inner nerd of the adolescent male. Last pick at football, spat at by bullies and laughed at by girls, they were the fantasy wargamers, and this is their story.

    Achtung Schweinehund!: A Boy’s Own Story of Imaginary Combat by Harry Pearson

    And, once again, from Amazon.com:

    This is a book about men and war. Not real conflict but war as it has filtered down to generations of boys and men through toys, comics, games, and movies. Harry Pearson belongs to the great battalion of men who grew up playing with toy soldiers—refighting World War II—and then stopped growing up. Inspired by the photos of the gallant pilot uncles that decorated the wall above his father’s model-making table, by toys such as Action Man (according to Pearson—not a doll) and board games such as Escape from Colditz, dressed in Clarks’ commando shoes and with the Airfix Army in support, he battled in the fields and on the beaches, in his head and on the living room floor, and across his bedroom ceiling. And 30 years later he still is. This hilariously self-deprecating memoir is a celebration of those glory days, a boy’s own story of the urge to play, to conquer, and to adopt very bad German accents, shouting “Donner und Blitzen!” at every opportunity. This is a tale of obsession, glue, and plastic kits. It is the story of one boy’s imaginary war and where it led him.

    I’ve always prided myself on knowledge of historical obscura, but, until today, I had never heard of the Canadian Rangers until today. Sure, Canada’s got some crappy gun laws, but they provide a very interesting way to get one’s mitts on a .303 Enfield.