Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Birthday, Xandr!



So, the other day, one of my fans sent me a message on Facebook, "Happy Anniversary!" I was confused, until he told me that, on June 28th, 1999, I posted the very first Aenya related story; hence, Xandr was born (OK, this post is a bit late). It comes as a bit of a shock to think that a character I brought to life is older than most teenagers. Real human beings were born and are now old enough to drive since I first wrote about Xandr in the swamp, fighting a giant snail. 

Of course, when it comes to fictional creations, the final result almost never resembles its inception. Try searching "original Mickey Mouse" on Google. Characters grow and develop, just as people turn from babies into adults. Originally, the world Xandr inhabited was conceived of as part of Masters of the Universe fan-fiction. This was something I tended to keep secret, because in those days, the word "fan-fiction" was an embarrassment for any serious writer. The thing that people did not understand is that even the most creative minds have to sometimes play in another person's sandbox, because nobody on the Internet has the capacity, or desire, to search for unknown work. Before writing any He-Man related stories, I had boxes full of ring-binders of original material. I preferred my own ideas, since fan-fiction, I felt, put limits on my creativity. But who was going to look for "Alimonos" or "The Nomad" without an established fan-base? And so, in 1997, I sought to build that base using a cherished childhood memory, and even then, took so many liberties with the franchise, readers complained that I deviated too greatly from canon! At the same time, on the other side of the literary spectrum, I was being labeled an unimaginative hack. It was a no win situation. Still, a handful of He-Fans appreciated what was, for them, not necessarily based on but inspired by He-Man, and in 1999 I started work on my second novel, The Dark Age of Enya. It was still set on "Eternia," 500 years before the events of the show, though Xandr was still called He-Man (a distant relative). This way, I hoped to keep my old fans while charting new ground. Basically, I tried to have my cake and eat it too, but it didn't work out, as I ended up alienating myself from both camps (not He-Man related enough for He-Fans, too cliche for traditional readers). 

And yet, there was one person, David Pasco, who stuck with me, and consequently became my best friend. His contribution was this first ever custom Xandr figure, made from a 1980s He-Man,

Xandr "He-Man" 1999

If anything kept me going during those dark ages (both in my fiction and in my life) it was fans like David. Of course, Xandr didn't stay this way for long. To avoid copyright infringement, and to free myself from the limits of childhood programming, Xandr went from being "the He-Man" to becoming "the Batal." For my other major change, I had to take a huge leap of courage, because I wasn't just a lover of Masters of the Universe, but a lifelong nudist. 

This was a secret I kept from most everyone. What would people say if they discovered my writing was pro-nudism? More than likely, they would assume I was either a closet nudist, or very sympathetic to the lifestyle. Also, what would publishers think? Was the world ready for non-erotic, natural nudity? It now seems strange that I should have been so apprehensive, considering that most Greek and Biblical heroes are depicted sans-apparel in European museums, but in America: nudity = sex, and male nudity almost always = gay porn. Still, it felt wrong to believe so strongly that clothing is unnecessary, and to spend much of my summer days in the buff, while forcing my barbaric heroes to dress up. It's one thing to argue in favor of armor, but a loin cloth? It has no practical uses, other than to protect from shame, and Xandr is anything but ashamed! So I took the plunge, society and prudishness be damned! Sci-Fi and fantasy were meant to explore taboos, after all, to challenge our notions of right and wrong, and if Captain Kirk can engage in alien sex, I could write about a nudist hero, a protagonist who would become, consequently, unique. Fantasy novels are saturated by cliches: the mysterious elf, the lone rogue, the all powerful but misunderstood wizard. But just try typing "naturist hero" into a Google search engine and see what comes up. Not much. Other than Xandr and Thelana. 

But a naked hero isn't just a gimmick. Naturism is a deeply complex philosophy, encompassing environmentalist and feminist themes, staples of fantasy approached at a different angle. I was excited by the prospect and still am, which is why, sixteen years later, Xandr and Thelana are alive and thriving in my mind, and in the minds of my fans, many of whom are nudists or nudist-curious, or who simply agree that our society has advanced beyond body taboos. So, off went the boots, and that excessive loincloth, and Xandr was transformed into his true self,

Xandr 2015
Ahh, so much better! My only real problem: my fan and friend could find no way to accommodate this change in his own art. Action figures don't come with removable clothes, and sculpting them off isn't an option. The real irony is that, toys have been made in the same way for thousands of years. Children in ancient Egypt played with animals made from clay. The techniques used to produce these toys, as well as naked statues of Heracles, were also used to make He-Man. So, perhaps someday, these two traditions will merge to form a nude Xandr figure. Who knows? 

Heracles, 4th century BCE

Our world is seeing rapid change. Who could have imagined, sixteen years ago, that a young adult vampire romance fan-fic turned bondage porn would become the most successful book in history? Or that a survival show featuring two entirely naked people would become so popular, or that gay marriage would be legalized throughout the country? Right now, nudism attracts far more readers, followers and fans than anything else I write, something I could not have predicted. There is a growing undercurrent of interest in the heroic nude. Maybe, after a decade and a half, Earth will be ready for Aenya.

To commemorate the occasion, David sent me the first few paragraphs (a very rough draft from 16+ years ago!) that started us on this long journey, a journey, I believe, I will be taking for a lifetime. Enjoy!



****


Five hundred years before the common age, before the rule of Randor and the
construction of Eternos, Queen Hatshepsut ruled atop a throne from the Dark
Side of Eternia, her general, Nessus the Dark Centaur, spreading her armies
of goblins over the developing Bright Side. But this is the tale of Xandr, a
man whom the people called He-Man. Raised by monks, he forever wandered the
barren wastelands of the Bright Side, driven by a terrible, magical sword
left to him by a giant eagle, after his temple burned to the ground and his
foster father's blood spilled from a goblin's dagger.

Masters of the Universe
The Dark Age
City by the Sea
by
Nick Alimonos

Chapter 1:
A Stranger in Akkad

Wrestling to keep seated aloft the slippery, blackish-green surface,
He-Man planted his double-headed battle ax once more into the skull of the
giant swamp snail, gripping a slime-coated antenna with his other hand as
black blood spattered against his naked, broad chest. With that, its head
splashed down into the cold, murky bog, and He-Man slid of the slain snail's
head, freeing his ax before trudging to a beach of dry, black earth. There he
stood, a lone figure under a turquoise disc, the planet, Infinity, masking a
quarter of the wine dark, Eternian sky, and its small violet companion, the
cratered moon, Eon. Gazing back over his kill, he could make out the
gold-brown hill that was the snail's body, and the serpentine neck protruding
from it, now submerged. The sword strapped to his back, the Sword of
Grayskull, whose hilt reaching over his shoulder was the face of a yawning,
sharp-toothed skull, quivered for lust of battle, magic fire running down its
smooth, steel shaft to his ankles, singeing his hairs. But it was
unnecessary. The attack had come by surprise and from below, and the
hungering snail that was the death of many travelers, had met its own fate by
his ready ax.

Shaking off the horror, as well as mud, He-Man spotted a winged,
man-like creature soaring over the reddening horizon. He gripped his ax's
handle. But as the creature came closer, he loosened his grip.

"Stratos!"

The gray-skinned bird man spread his blue feathered arms apart,
touching the ground softly no more than a yard from the lone, grizzly warrior.

"Stratos," he called again. "What brings you from the cloudy peaks of
Avion?"

The man called Stratos stared hard into the warrior's soft, blue
eyes. "Moons ago, a messenger climbed the cloudy peak of Avion, seeking our
aid in our splendid, golden city. He was a groundling, such as yourself, from
the great city of Sarnath, the city by the sea. They are at war, he said, the
groundlings with the waterlings, the people he called, 'mer-men'."
With a stroke of his hand, He-Man wiped another layer of mud from his
body, beautiful as a nude god, save for the fur cloth at his loins and the
leather boots strapped to his feet, revealing a great scar across the muscled
creases in his flesh, from his left breast to his right hip. "What does this
have to do with me?"

"We are a peace loving people, He-Man. We cannot aid them in war. But
the Council of Azrael decided that we should help Sarnath, by sending you to
them. They've heard stories, of your cunning in battle. I was sent to find
you, to deliver the plea of Urukagina, High Priest of Sarnath."

"What is this plea? And why should I help them?"

"Lead their armies into battle against the mer-men, and Urukagina
promises his virgin daughter to you in wedlock, with a dowry such as to make
you a king."

Combing a braided lock of golden hair behind his shoulder and running
his fingers through his short, blonde beard, he answered, finally; "Where is
Sarnath?"

"I could lead you. But you would lag behind without my wings. Whereas I could reach it in a day, you would in a week."

"How will I find it, then?"

"Beyond this swamp, over that hill, is the village, Akkad. Find it,
and follow a road that leads out. Someone there will show you."

***

And so, in the crook of a river beside a series of irrigated fields,
He-Man reached the cluster of huts and dirt roads that was Akkad. The crudely
shaped huts were no more than thatched straw roofs, dried mud and cow dung
bricks stacked for walls with some spaces left brickless for windows, and
single, splintered doors leading to an only room.

Wandering through the streets, He-Man was greeted by no one. Though
there were few villagers moving hastily about, they averted their eyes or hid
stares beneath their hoods, perhaps due to his awesome size or the array of
weaponry jingling with his every step. Children were curious enough to
approach him, but their parents were quick to snatch them away. Most certain,
he was a stranger, and in these hard times villages were unwelcome to
strangers. Two things could be expected of a stranger, that he was ill and
seeking mercy, a beggar, or a poor thief. And he did not look like a beggar.
The first to speak to him was a woman sitting in the dirt, her back
against the wall of an abandoned ruin, a single sheet of earthen cow hide
draped over her. Though middle-aged, lines split her blackened face so that
she looked much older. And strewn across her visage were long strands of dark
hair, as if they'd never been cut, fleas crawling between them. Stooping low
to talk to her, a stench like dried urine assaulted him, and he was besieged
by the flies that lived round her, and the mosquitoes that nibbled at her
flesh. Beneath her veil of lice plagued hair, however, he could see her
perfect, brown eyes unstained, seeming to him as though they'd been washed
too often and no tears were left to fall.

"What do you want?" he asked.

"One copper piece," she answered, rattling the tin cup beneath her
cow hide, "for one hour." She forced a smile, but it was more heartbreaking
than merry.

He reached into the pouch at his waist, tossing four gold coins into
the cup. It was enough to buy her food for a year, and a good set of clothes.
Falling on her hands and knees, she emptied the cup, counting the
four gold coins and two copper pieces, examining the gold, tasting it. She
lifted her eyes to him, then, staring awe-struck as if he were a god.
As he turned to walk away, she touched his shoulder, letting the cow
hide drop. She had been naked underneath it, but now he could see her pale,
sickly green skin speckled with purple and blue welts, her jutting ribs, her
knees like rocks bent inwardly.

"No," he said, turning back again.

"Please," she murmured, "of all the times I've lent this body for
copper, let it now be for gold."

He snatched the cow hide up and thrust it in her arms. "I said no."

"Forgive me." She cast her eyes down. "Would you like . . . my
daughter instead?" She motioned to a bundle laying against the crumbling
wall, in it, a young girl he hadn't noticed. "S-She's older than she looks .
. . and she has experience . . ."

"Sit, you filthy whore!" he cried, pushing her down. "And with this,"
he added, slipping another ten gold pieces in her palm, "buy back, if you
can, her innocence."

At last, finding no inn and no tavern, He-Man accosted a bent,
bearded man carrying a rusty ho and with the other hand leading a
hump-backed, blue ox hitched to a makeshift plow.

"Excuse me. Can you show me the way to Sarnath?"

The old farmer laughed, seeming fearless for what he was. "You mean
you don't know?"

"I am from a land far off and these parts are foreign to me."

"I can tell. Still, Sarnath is at the center of the world. All roads lead to Sarnath."

"But where is it?"

"Look there," he said, pointing to the West. "Do you see it?" And
there, against the backdrop of the giant turquoise moon ducking below the
horizon, there was the silhouette of many towers, like mountains in the
distance.

"That's it?"

"Yes. Just follow sight of it till you get there."

"But I thought it would take a week on foot . . ."

"It might," he replied, trotting off. "Those towers are taller than
you think."

"Thank you, kind sir."

The farmer turned back to him. "Tell me, son, why do you seek
Sarnath?"

"I was told they needed me."

"Then be forewarned: Sarnath is doomed! The gods will destroy it for
it is a wicked place. A land of riches, without hunger, without illness,
true, but those who go there hunger for want of the soul. It's easy to love
the gold and forget the love for fellow man. For those who live in Sarnath
live to forever quench their greed, their appetite for wine and meat, their
lust. And soon, forget your brother, forget your sister, forget your mother
and father-"

"Do not preach to me, old man! I have no brother, nor sister, nor
mother . . . nor father."

"Peace be with you, then." And the slow turning wheels of his ox cart
marked his exit.

With the old man's words still lingering in his mind, He-Man found a
shady tree as day turned to sullen night, and with sword drawn ready in hand,
he fell into a restless sleep, dreaming of his mother, of goblins and
daggers.
   

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ages of Aenya Book Trailer #2



Check out the latest trailer for Ages of Aenya, featuring artwork by David Pasco, Evan Kyrou, Alexey Lipatov, Frans Mensink, Mikester65, Tazio Bettin, Julia Bax and John T'lustachowski.    





Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Procession


Inspiration artwork courtesy of artist (?) 
The procession carried on, under a black and swirling sky, where beauty lay in still repose upon heavy shoulders and heavier souls. 
They gathered from every hovel and tier and tower. Sisters saw sisters, mothers daughters and children mothers. From house to house and street to street, whomever was loved most, they saw carried on the bier. They gathered to hold her in their eyes, as if in the beholding she might tarry, every hand reaching as an infant reaches to be known, if only to be assured that she was lost. And despite the very certainty, the procession carried on.
Even in eternity, even in that dreadful sleep that awaits us all, the Taker could not steal away her beauty; her lips like ripened berries, her braids like sun gilded wheat, though a pall of lifelessness lay upon her cheeks. And the people seeing her remarked, is this the face of one that’s dead? Shouts rang out her name. Rise! Give us a sign and rise! But death makes no exceptions. So she did not stand to greet them, nor stir to allay their tears. And ever uneventful, the procession carried on.
A deathly chill befell the land, not of snows giving promise of rebirth, but the bitterness of absent daylight, the sun remote and indifferent and black beneath the moons. It was a blight upon the world, a sickness growing from the root where she was fallen, from where her heart had been cut out. And still they went on seeking, the princess on the bier, hoping where hope was nowhere to be found, in streets where every eye was turned and faithful hearts were broken. And ever the procession carried on.
In the surrounding dell the silence was pervasive, for birds knew no cause for singing, and the mammals in their burrows of decay lay down to darkness, whispering not of children that may come, or of any future spring, but surrendering to dreamless sleep. All was stillness and shadow, but for the crack of timber and hush of falling leaves, the long naked pines standing out like gallows. Wherever things once bloomed, was only shrinking, shriveling; colors muted, fading, gray; petals winking into death. Still in distant Tyrnael the procession carried on.
Across that lonesome sphere, where she was known by other names, they mourned softly her procession. They mourned on dying fields, where rains did not fall, and they mourned her where crops failed to allay the hungry. Storms of dust arose like primordial beasts, to bury the living, and swallow nations whole. On endless plains, devastation moths churned, violent from their cocoons, sweeping homes into the sky. In desert lands, flames devoured what little grew, and mouths went parched by sand swept riverbeds. On rocky shores, waters reddened, and the fishers’ nets were filled with dead. But where the land itself held loosely, the world belched magma and hemorrhaged fire, and the living and non-living alike were indifferently consumed. Even where joy ran deepest, in the hearts of expectant mothers, expectation turned to horror and despair. For on that day, no infant was born but born to stillness. And still in mourning for infant laughter that would never echo, their eyes bent to infant mounds, wives held fast to husbands and carried on.
As they did across the world, so in Tyrnael they toiled and tarried, over earth that would not yield. Yet still they followed, reaching, ever reaching toward the bier where life had fallen, from every roof and window, for every eye to witness, under a swirling cursing sky.

And ever the procession carried on.
----

To learn more: The Princess of Aenya

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Greek Pedophile/Pederasty Stereotype



Not exactly child porn.
Were the Ancient Greeks more homosexual than other groups from antiquity? Were homosexuals more commonly found in Greece? Was pederasty, or man-boy-love, a common expression of gay love? And is it even fair to make broad generalizations about any group of people, whether they be Greek or gay? 

This is by no means a scholarly paper. If it were, I would have done weeks of research in a university library. Rather, this is me, a history major using my blog to vent. 

Last night, I had the unfortunate experience of getting into a debate with the worst kind of debater, the type of person I like to call an informed ignoramus. Unlike your typical ignoramus, the informed ignoramus possesses a kernel of knowledge about a certain subject, and using this little bit of knowledge, they often make outlandish claims that are, for lack of a better word, utter bull-crap. What was worse for me, I once considered this person my friend, someone very liberal in his views, and very sensitive when it comes to matters of race and sexual orientation. He would never make broad generalizations about black people, Hispanics, Muslims or LGBT people. Unfortunately, I am none of those things. I am Greek, and being Greek isn't in vogue these days. You don't see anybody on social media speaking out against Greek stereotypes, so my friend could not understand my being offended when he generalized about my ancestors. 

Negative stereotypes exist for Greeks, like any other group, and it hurts just the same. People call us loud, rude, and egotistical. While this may be true for some individuals, it isn't true for everyone I know, just as not all Asians are bad drivers and not all Irish are drunkards. But while making a "dumb Polack" joke or calling a Jewish person stingy is usually frowned upon, when it comes to the Greeks, anything goes. Make fun of us, the world says, our feelings don't matter. Never mind that our country suffered one of the greatest, if not longest oppression in the history of the world---four hundred years---by the Ottoman Turks, or that, after our war of independence in 1821, we were left so poor that over one hundred thousand people died of starvation in a single year. Never mind the daily struggles for survival my own parents endured during their childhoods. Our recent history is swept under the rug, willfully forgotten, to make room for jokes that go back two thousand years. Most of these jokes, as you probably know, involve gay sex and pedophilia. To give you a taste, a friend of mine wrote in my senior yearbook, "How do you separate the Greek men from the boys? With a crowbar!" All I could do is use a black marker to blot out what he had written, leaving an ugly stain on a cherished childhood souvenir. Flash forward twenty years, and I am still dealing with the same kind of ignorance. 

Now I have nothing against homosexuality or homosexuals. I only take offense to the notion that the Ancient Greeks were pedophiles, and somehow "more gay" than any other group. We also must not confuse, as Vladimir Putin has, sexual orientation with child abuse. As someone who has been sexually molested as a child, by a Greek relative no less, this is a sensitive subject for me. 

But like all stereotypes, there is evidence to support it. Plato talked about man-boy love in the Symposium, and we know from other sources that in Athens, pubescent boys engaged in "sexual relations" with their male teachers. But how frequent and accepted was this practice? The answer is, as I often like to remind people about history, complicated.  

This is a problem intrinsic to the study of history itself, and something that came up again and again when I was in graduate school. My professors consistently chastised us for making claims based on too little evidence. I'd write a paper arguing a particular point, with a handful of references, and my professor would say to me, "Yes, but, did you read this book? And did you look at this guy? Oh, and that piece there, that's been debunked." The worst grade I ever got, for this very reason, wasn't even an F. He simply wrote on the back of my paper, "You'd be crucified by any other historian!" Crucified! When I wrote my thesis on the Battle of Thermopylae, I asked my professor how many sources he wanted to see. His answer shocked me. "All of them." And he followed that up with, "And you have it easy, in my day, we had to read every source in every language, including ancient Greek." Shit. This is why our current Google/Wikipedia age infuriates me. YOU CANNOT SUPPLANT ACTUAL RESEARCH WITH A QUICK GOOGLE SEARCH. 

Another problem with studying history can be thought of this way: Imagine a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, but we only have about one hundred pieces, and for some parts of the world, we have almost no pieces. Now let's extrapolate this further, using the United States as an example. Imagine you are a historian living in the year 4015, and you want to know everything you can about life in the U.S. today. So, you dig through some ruins, trying to learn what you can, and what do you come across? Religion everywhere! How many churches do we have? How many Bibles in hotel rooms? How many laws have we passed discriminating against gays based strictly on religion? With this evidence, future historians could make a strong case that America in 2015 was utterly Puritanical. But wait, that's just half the puzzle. After a bit more digging, archaeologists might find bookstores filled with the works of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, and a number of other atheists, which may leave a lot of future historians scratching their heads in confusion. 

My argument, then, when talking to my informed ignoramus friend, was that you cannot make broad generalizations about a loosely organized group of city-states, existing over two-thousand years ago, spanning centuries of time, based on the few books you've read. What I know about Ancient Greece, based on my studies, is that sex between a man and a boy may have been more tolerated than it is today, but that the practice was localized to a specific time, place, and social class. There is also debate regarding what these "sexual relations" actually involved. I have yet to see an image of a boy, in any museum, bent over, in the aforementioned "crowbar" position. What we do see on vase paintings is quite tame, closer to Michael Jackson-type fondling than outright sex. Conversely, there are considerable examples of heterosexual penetration on pottery, images strikingly similar to what you might find on Porn Hub. But again, ancient pornography is no more proof of depravity than pornographic websites prove all Americans have orgies in their bedrooms. While the Greeks did not differentiate between heterosexuals and homosexuals, we know it was socially stigmatizing for a male to be on the receiving end of sex. In times of war, male-on-male rape was often used, much like in prisons today, as a form of domination and humiliation. Given, then, the lack of "penetrative" artwork from antiquity, coupled with the stigma of male penetration, most historians believe pederasty went no further than intercrural sex, or simply, "sex between the thighs." 

Now, if we look beyond Plato, to Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, something as important to the Greek identity as the Torah is for the Jews, we find no mention of homosexuality. It has been suggested that Achilles, who fought at Troy, was involved in a gay relationship with his cousin, Patroclus, but I found no mention of this in the translation I read, and it makes no sense in the larger context of the story, considering that Achilles refuses to fight after his female lover is taken captive by King Agamemnon. No other hero is described as a homosexual, though their love interests are often central to their myths, with Odysseus traveling twenty years to return to his wife in Ithaca (while cheating on her frequently); Perseus heroically rescuing Andromache, a damsel in distress, from a giant sea monster; and Heracles, who was killed by his jealous wife after his infidelity. None of the gods engage in pederasty either, but for Apollo, and Zeus, who seduced 112 mortal women and Ganymede. In the comedy by Aristophanes, Lysistrata, the women of Athens and Sparta refuse sex with their husbands in an effort to end the Peloponnesian War. One must wonder, if male on male sex was as rampant as some stereotypes suggest, why this would have been such a problem.  

This isn't to say that homosexuality did not exist in Ancient Greece; it certainly did and it was probably common, but no more so than anywhere else, and it is an affront to the LGBT community to claim otherwise. Homosexuality is a natural occurrence, not a social aberration. If we limit it to just one part of the world, we suggest it has nothing to do with biology. While the Hebrews strictly forbid homosexuality in Leviticus (which only goes to prove its practice), we know next to nothing about the Celts, the Saxons, or any other European group at the time, nor do we know anything of the habits of the people in Asia, the Russian steppes, or China. The Roman historian, Plutarch, on the other hand, asserts that the Persians engaged in pederasty with boy eunuchs, and modern historians debate how common gay relationships were in Egypt. If anything set the Greeks apart, it may be their propensity for expressing matters of eros, and their tolerance for differences in sexuality

The only thing we can say with certainty about the ancient world stems from the writings that survived, and when compared to more recent history, it is a puzzle with far too many missing pieces. For all we know, Plato and his ilk may have been the Greek equivalent of NAMBLA. Modern historian, Enid Bloch, suggests that Socrates may have suffered trauma from early sexual abuse. Are we to assume, then, that such abuse was both rampant and prevalent, in a society that gave us science, mathematics, medicine and philosophy? 

Even if we were to agree that Plato and Herodotus reflects a large part of Greek life, the writings themselves are suspect, often failing to corroborate with archaeological evidence. Herodotus states, for instance, that 5 million Persians (500 ten thousands) invaded Greece, which we know to be untrue, based on simple logistics; he also claimed that the city of Babylon was 10 miles by 10 miles square, also untrue. When it comes to sex and sexuality, Herodotus writes that "a woman cannot be raped," and that there exists a country where "the men pee sitting down, and the women pee standing up." Thucydides, all the while, who is considered a much more reliable source, says almost nothing about sex or pederasty. Based on Herodotus alone, our impression of the invading Persians may reflect the film 300, but a closer look at Persian art and architecture reveals a much less violent and more sophisticated society. The same can be said of the Vikings, who were no more violent than their European neighbors, but were vilified by the writings of early Christian monks. My friend, incidentally, is Norwegian, but I would never suggest he is the descendant of rapists.  


Not such an evil looking door, is it?


So, where does all this leave us? Were the Ancient Greeks a gay people? No more than anyone else. Were they all pedophiles? No more than anyone else. Were they overly fond of man-boy-love? No, but perhaps, at a specific time and place, were more accepting of it. Does this stereotype carry any weight? Nope. But if we must generalize, let us not say that the Greeks were more or less gay, but like much of the modern world, that they were more tolerant and enlightened. 

AGREE? DISAGREE? SHARE THIS ON FACEBOOK! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

BIOGRAPHIES: Grumblestump

Grumblestump by David Pasco
Grumblestump was born into the warrior caste. Named Grumblor by his mother, who died soon after giving birth, Grumblestump joined in the yearly bogren raids against the mountain city of Northendell. With Captain Sif leading the vanguard, the Knights of Northendell quickly routed the attackers, but Grumblor refused to flee. Believing he was destined for greatness, he fought his way to the outer wall, where he met Duncan Greyoak. The inexperienced bogren was no match for the man-at-arms, however, and Grumblor lost his hand at the wrist, which he crudely replaced with a single spike. He was called "Grumble-stump" ever since, and as a crippled warrior, was consigned to live in the mines among the digger caste, as a foreman. 

Grumblestump would often speak of returning "top side" to regain his glory, despite the fact that foremen never become anything more than foremen. Fallen from the caste they are born into, foremen are bitter and cruel, and Grumblestump was no exception. With his spike hand, he tormented his workers at every opportunity. Slackers, particularly, were "tossed into the magma"---which, in bogren society, served as both a punishment and a sadistic form of comedy. Among those he liked to push around was a little digger named Ugh.

Even by digger standards, Ugh was physically lacking, but he more than made up for it in intelligence and compassion, traits which his kin did not recognize. One day, when Ugh was being called for digging, he met a new foreman named Meatface. "Where was Grumblestump?" Earlier that day, he had insulted Meatface' mother, and Meatface responded the only way he knew how. The diggers were elated, using their former foreman's decapitated head for a game of "kick-head."

Thus, Grumblestump's short and meaningless life came to an end. Ugh, however, used the opportunity, and his relative anonymity, to escape through a tunnel, where he discovered something truly magical, a place that would forever change his fate, and the fate of Aenya.


About the Story: This bio contains story elements from "Ages of Aenya" and "The Princess of Aenya."

About the Artist: This is David Pasco's first, 100% clay sculpt! Good job, David!