Showing posts with label Ohio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ohio. Show all posts

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Mansfield Reformatory - Silent Hill Ohio

Pain is caused by pleasure! Visit OSR

With the recent cancellation of “Silent Hills” many of us are feeling the urge to immerse ourselves in the Silent Hill ambience. Short of dangerously, visiting Centralia PA or the DeJarnette Sanatarium (Staunton VA), where is one to go? I highly recommend the Mansfield Ohio, Ohio State Reformatory (OSR).Ohio has lots of abandoned places, though most cannot be toured officially: 

But there is an easy-to-tour, must-see that is safe and cool: Mansfield Ohio, Ohio State Reformatory. It will satiate the need to experience the Tocula Prison, Nightmare realm, Chapel, and even a bit of Midwich School! OSR is huge, affordable, and has official tours (including night ghost hunting). So it is safe and cool. It is known for the filming location of movies like Shawshank Redemption, Tango and Cash, Air Force One, and even music videos for Godsmack and rapper Lil Wayne.

Some interesting perspectives with images below:
  • Built in 1886, not long after the fictionalized 1866 Tocula Prison of the Silent Hill world
  • It was originally a reformatory, so it’s design included a huge chapel and school.
  • It was converted to a prison sometime (less reformation focus), and then eventually shut down in the 1990's
  • The architect ensured the inmates could see the outside to have more hope; cells were put in the interior-center facing out. 
  • Since it was shutdown, many broken windows allow the weather to deteriorate the building--> especially the lead paint which peels off the walls. 
  • The warden lived in a beautiful central area. The wood was engineered due to fire codes the railings were made in steel, but look like wood.
  • The East cell block is the largest fee standing steel cell block; very loud too; this side had more grates to ensure inmates could not fling material at guards. The West cell block was quieter at night. 
  • The Chapel is fitted with iron bars lockable chambers inside the sanctuary
  • "Pain is caused by pleasure" - Godsmack Awake video graffiti (a call out to Moon Baby lyrics)








Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Relic Hunted - Guest Post by Ohioan Terry Ervin

Today we welcome author Terry Ervin as guest blogger as he announces his newest novel Relic Hunted (released - January 18th, 2016).  Here he discusses his inspirations for writing.


Terry W. Ervin II is an English and science teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction. He hails from central Ohio. His First Civilization’s Legacy Series (fantasy) includes Flank HawkBlood Sword, and Soul ForgeThe Crax War Chronicles, his science fiction series, includes Relic Tech and Relic Hunted (his most recent release from Gryphonwood Press). In addition to writing novels, Terry’s short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies, magazines and ezines. Genre Shotgun is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories. You can get his work from a variety of vendors and sites (link).




What Ifs


Readers, and occasionally writers early in their careers, ask where I come up with ideas, because indeed, some of my ideas are out of the mainstream, even for fantasy and science fiction.

Thoughts strike me when driving and thinking, or while watching a Discovery or History Channel program on TV. Sometimes it’s the news or something I’m reading, or maybe simple curiosity on my part. Now, a lot of people have ideas and ‘what if’ questions that strike them. But a writer is someone like me that types (okay, word processes) them out, and gets them published for others to read.

My first published story “Tethered in Purgatory” originated from pondering what might happen to souls of individuals placed in cryogenic preservation. I was curious—heck, aren’t you, at least now that I brought it to your attention? So, after a research and reflection, I wrote a story that explored one possibility.

I read about and study history and follow modern politics, after a fashion. Recalling an episode of Space, Above and Beyond (a short-lived and moderately interesting series) that featured a black hole as part of its plot-line, while doing a little research on Winston Churchill, I came across one of his quotes:
"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
From that combination of thoughts (black hole, Churchill quote, modern politics), I wrote “Seconds of Eternity” where humanity, through shortsighted leadership, is on the brink, facing its twilight. Enter Mac ‘Race’ Parson, a second line fighter pilot with his green wingman, Bronco Bob, in their antiquated Starfury IVs. What will Mac Parson risk—be willing to endure—on a long shot bid to stave off humanity’s extinction for maybe another six months?

A fantasy example? That would be where the notion for Flank Hawk originated, which became the initial novel in my First Civilization’s Legacy Series. The initial spark occurred while driving home from work. I was thinking about two books I’d recently re-read, Zelazny’s Guns of Avalon and Turtledove’s World War: In the Balance. One of the main turning points in Guns of Avalon occurs when Prince Corwin discovers a way to get gunpowder to function in the magical city of Amber. In the Balance is about an alien invasion during the height of World War II. The disparity in technology between the invaders and humanity is a major element in the novel’s conflict. Then I began to ponder, what would happen if a dragon encountered a World War II aircraft? Okay, maybe one can see how the line of thought formed. From there I began to devise a world where such an encounter could take place.

Next came the people and creatures that would inhabit the post-apocalyptic world, how it came to be, and the long-running, multi-layered power struggle that would come to influence events in the plot that I was devising. Finally, came Krish and Lilly, Roos and Road Toad—the main characters in the novel.

Relic Tech, the first novel I wrote, but not the first one published (an interesting story there, but not germane to this article), came from a combination of me thinking about socio-economic disparity, and what type of socio situation might segregate humans in the future. The notion of technology, including access to and use of it, took center stage. Also, at the time, I was presenting some literary terms and devices to my classes (I’m an English teacher). One of those concepts was a Frame Story.

From there, Relic Tech was born, with the protagonist, 4th Class Security Specialist Krakista Keesay. Being an R-Tech or Relic, Specialist Keesay uses and depends on late 20th century technology to do his job—serving as a security specialist aboard the Kalavar, an aging interstellar civil transport. With shotgun and bayonet, brass knuckles, and a chip on his shoulder, Specialist Keesay gets caught up in political and corporate intrigue, all while trying to survive an overwhelming interstellar invasion that threatens humanity’s existence. Or, better yet for Specialist Keesay, killing as many Crax as possible before they bring him down.

That brings me to my newest release, Relic Hunted, the sequel to Relic Tech, as part of my Crax War Chronicles. To the backdrop of the continuing Crax War, again meaning plenty of action, the theme of security vs. personal identity is explored.



To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at www.ervin-author.com and his blog, Up Around the Corner at uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com











Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gonji: Red Blade from the East - Book Review by S.E.

Gonji: Red Blade from the EastGonji: Red Blade from the East by T.C. Rypel
S.E.Lindberg rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gonji’s Deathwind – The Godzilla of Sword & Sorcery?
Some splendid reviews already exist for Gonji: Red Blade from the East, in particular Fletcher Vredenburgh’s January 21st 2014 Post on Blackgate is extremely thorough. This provides another summary, and some more complementary information.

Gongi Is A Unique, Entertaining Mashup: Gongi is a wandering, displaced warrior--a Ronin (master-less samurai) roaming 16th century Europe. This is not historical fiction, however. This is Sword & Sorcery in vein of R.E. Howard’s Conan…but it is a solidly unique take on the genre. Firstly, Gonji is a cross-breed of a Japanese warlord and Viking sword-maiden; rather than the Hyperborean continent of REH, Gonji explores a realistic version of Europe’s geography (Ottoman–Habsburg times). Plenty of creatures and magic infuse compelling fight scenes. I half expected Godzilla to emerge on multiple occasions!

Gonji is a mysterious, intelligent character. Stretching plausibility, he knows many languages (Japanese, Spanish, Italian, German, English, more?) sufficiently to converse with everyone. He is a bit moody too, which is ostensibly related to his mixed heritage (disciplined father, wild mother). His allegiances are difficult to predict, sometimes joining mercenary bands, sometimes rescuing weak townspeople. Generally, the blend of cultures and Gonji’s mysterious motivations are engaging.

By the end of this first installment, we know only that he is seeking the “Deathwind,” and we know he gets closer to this goal when he reached the city of Vedun, but otherwise the core of his quest is unclear. There is parallel conflict with some apparently evil occupiers of Vedun; but their motives are not clear by the end either, at times brutally dominating folk and at times letting them live in peace. I would have enjoyed a bit more clarification; the demarcation between the first and second book may just be due to the publication history.

Series: The initial Zebra books of the 1980’s essential split one long novel into a trilogy (I suspect the split was arbitrary). T.C. Rypel’s 1980 series has been released in a more complete forms (more books, eBooks, audiobooks). The newer releases from Borgo Press seem to have maintained this split. I’ll need to read the second and third books to confirm that, and I plan to do that. Actually, Rypel has a lot more Gonji in mind, and has books 4 and 5 available now. Books 1-3 are the original trilogy:
1) Gonji: Red Blade from the East: The Deathwind Trilogy, Book One
2) Gonji: The Soul Within the Steel
3) Gonji: Deathwind of Vedun: The Deathwind Triology, Book Three
4) Gonji: Fortress of Lost Worlds
5) Gonji: A Hungering of Wolves
Gonji  Red Blade from the East  The Deathwind Trilogy, Book One by T.C. Rypel Gonji  The Soul Within the Steel by T.C. Rypel Gonji  Deathwind of Vedun  The Deathwind Triology, Book Three by T C Rypel Gonji  Fortress of Lost Worlds by T.C. Rypel Gonji  A Hungering of Wolves by T.C. Rypel

Social Media, Cover Art, and Maps: T.C. Rypel is very accessible via Facebook(Gonji Page) and the Goodreads Sword and Sorcery Group. If you check those websites you can (a) communicate with him and (b) just read/learn fascinating tidbits. For instance, from these I learned the artwork of Serbian illustrator Dusan Kostic graces most of the new releases, which seem more appropriate than the 1980’s covers that seem to mirror the James Clavell books (contemporary for 1980’s works, but of different genre). Also, The Kindle editions of the Deathwind Trilogy books do not include artist Joseph Rutt's Maps that appear in the front of the print editions.



Ohio Rocks: Incidentally, T.C. Rypel has Ohio roots, as do many Sword and Sorcery authors; in fact, 20% of the original Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA, 1960-80s) came from my home state OH. The unassuming state of OH has ties to many relevant authors including including: David C. Smith, Andre Norton, Stephen Donaldson, John Jakes, Richard Lee Byers, Roger Zelazny, Dennis L. McKiernan, Steve Goble, and more.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tales from the Dark Tower - Review By S.E.

Tales from the Dark TowerTales from the Dark Tower Illustrated by Joseph Vargo
S. E. Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ghostly, macabre adventure; highly recommended for any read reader willing abandon hope and enter an abandoned Dark Tower
“This world in made of stories, to its core. And because the world is made of stories, you must be very cautious which tales you believe, which ones you tell and which ones you listen to. The right story, or the wrong one, can change you forever.” Russell Novotny co-author

Vargo’s History of Splendid, Dark Design:With that quote, a reader should expect a set of well designed, interconnected tales, and the anthology Tales from the Dark Tower delivers. Illustrated and co-authored by Joseph Vargo, this extends to Vargo’s media empire (the illustration portion shared with co-author Christine Filipak who form “Monolithic Graphics” … makers of spooky calendars and The Gothic Tarot, and the music brand “Nox Arcana” discussed below). This book was inspired by James Pipik (another coauthor) who proposed connecting Joseph’s art with a string of stories. Vargo agreed. In all there are eight collaborating authors (six from Ohio) teaming up to deliver thirteen ghost tale/adventures.

Connecting all these tales is the titular Dark Tower looming over the town of Vasaria. Prepare to venture with: ghosts, crusaders, succubi, vampires, gargoyles, and humans (both pitiful and honorable). Each successive story builds on the previous to unveil a rich history of a truly wondrous, dark place. The underlying story-arc is so well designed, the “voice” of the stories seems the same (despite the variety of authors). Some read as classic ghost stories; some as fairy tales; some as high-octane Sword & Sorcery. All are aimed at chipping away at the fantastic mystery of the Tower.

More Dark Tower: You’ll be left satisfied about Lord Brom’s (main character) inclusion into the Dark Tower, and still you will want more! Thankfully, there is an illustrated sequel : Beyond The Dark Tower.

But wait…there is even more! A Dark Tower Soundtrack: Vargo’s music talents fuel Nox Arcana Music, which has decades of experience producing Movie Soundtracks and Concept albums saluting all things weird (Edgar Allen Poe, Lovecraft, Zombies, Haunted Houses, Spooky Carnivals, Bram Stoker's Dracula, etc.). Many horror and fantasy writers listen to his work as they create. One may expect a Dark Tower album, and there is! The music album has 19 tracks, most with names corresponding to the chapter titles.


Tales Dark Tower    Beyond Dark Tower


View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lloyd Library - A Treasure Trove of Scientific Art

Lloyd Library and Museum - Cincinnati, OH

The Lloyd Library is a reclusive gem hidden in downtown Cincinnati (Plum & Court Str. corner). Despite having attended Rieveschl Hall at the University of Cincinnati to study chemistry, and having lived in the region since 1991 while pursing a carrier and hobbies that blend graphic arts with science, I missed this place entirely.  Cripes, I could have seen Rieveschl's lab notebooks in person!  Thanks to the Lloyd Library & Museum (LLM) sponsoring a clip on NPR, I learned about the institution.  It is a small venue, at least to the public; four of its five floors are off limits since they house a treasure trove of antique scientific literature.

I am a confessed bibliophile. In 2012, I had the pleasure of seeing an original, 1665 printing of Robert Hooke's Microgrograhia (thanks to Don Brooks and the McCrone Research Institute; link).  Of course, cameras did not exist then, so early scientists had to draw their data! Leonardo Davinci's notebook is a classic documentation of this, but consider early anatomists who had to draw fast since their non-refrigerated corpses/subjects decomposed (for more on this, I recommend Kemp's beautiful book: Spectacular Bodies: The Art and Science of the Human Body).  Hooke pioneered the use of the microscope and presented his survey of microstructures to the Royal Society in his "Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses (click to browse the interactive book). Hooke had to draw his observations as he peered into strange, microscopic worlds.

So to learn that four levels of books from similar eras were downtown at the LLM, I had to visit.  The first floor is open to the public and features some rotating and some permanent exhibits; calling ahead to arrange a visit may expedite getting inside.  They do host small educational groups, but this is really a place of research in which the librarians are used to retrieving medieval-to-early-19th-century works.  Here are some highlights:

Temporary Exhibit Back from the Brink

Description from the LLM: "This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of the last known passenger pigeon, Martha (shown at right), who died at the Cincinnati Zoo, despite attempts to find her a mate and save the species, which once numbered in the millions...Over the course of human history, we have, unfortunately, caused the end of numerous species...This exhibition features species that have made a comeback, showing those moments when our species has recognized our own folly and done something to make a difference." History of four footed beasts and serpents: 1658 (link to public domain) was one featured book (behind glass of course), turned to the Bison image (image above). The link to the public domain site shows the hidden pages that include mythological  beasts. So the image of the Bison was indeed cool....but to be able to browse through the printed version at the other entries would be remarkable (and possible it seems, especially if one has an academic reason to request access).

Permanent Exhibit: The George Rieveschl, Jr. History of Pharmaceutical Chemistry 

 The George Rieveschl, Jr. History of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Exhibit features a patented Lloyd Cold Still (at right) built in Cincinnati and used at the University of Michigan and at AYSL Corp; a key device use to invent and manufacture Benadryl.  The Cold Still was a neat, patented invention by the Lloyd brothers that heated the surface of an extract to remove solvent, as opposed to heating the bottom; the benefit was that fragile chemicals were not degraded during the separation process. The exhibit features the actual cold still...and Rieveschl's lab notebooks (see photo)!

Permanent Exhibit: Lloyd Brothers

The Lloyd Brothers set up shop in Cincinnati ~1885 and had a rich tradition of researching botantical chemistry and medicines.   Of particular interest to soap makers of past and present (i.e., Cincinnati soap makers Procter & Gamble), was their "clean" long, lasting soap: $1.40 for a dozen cakes!  

Online ExhibitThe Magic and Myth of Alchemy 

This is a very comprehensive website that blends historic drawings of real scientists with the subjective, trippy alchemists.  LLM description: "This is a permanent online exhibit: "The Magic and Myth of Alchemy" exhibit was created in honor of the International Year of Chemistry, an event celebrated by chemists and chemistry associations throughout 2011. In truth, however, there has been a wish to present the alchemical holdings of the Lloyd Library and Museum to the general public for some time. While we do not hold the most ancient treatises from Asia or the Middle East, the Lloyd holds a wealth of materials from the Early Modern and later periods, along with translations and later editions of some of the earlier volumes. A quick search in the Lloyd's online catalog yields no less than some 140 titles pertaining to that topic in some fashion, dating from 1544 to 2010. The collection includes the works of Paracelsus, Maier, Glauber, Hermes Trismegistus, and that alchemist made even more famous through a mention in the Harry Potter ™ series, Nicholas Flamel."



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ancient Ohio Trail - Real and Virtual Visits of Earthworks

Seip mound Ohio - For scale, see children

Explore Ancient Ohio

Ancient, Native American Indian architecture, made of earth, saturates the Ohio Valley.  Much of it was obliterated by settlers (admittedly, many of the earth mounds were covered in trees and were overlooked; others were removed without respect unfortunately).  That said, much remains. My family visits these sites ~annually; I and wanted to share some of the resources we use to plan day trips for: hiking, exploration, appreciation of past cultures, and inspiration...at places like:

Ancient Ohio Trail - Online Travel Guide (click!) 

Interactive Tour Guides Link
Many sites have small museums associated with them (Sun Watch and Fort Ancient have very nice ones).  Many others have been incorporated into rest stops (i.e. Seip Mound), parks, or are hidden in plain site within our cities.

Planning a trip was once complex, but now online mapping and conservation efforts have provided interactive tools.  The Ancient Ohio trail tool works great.  Follow the link and select a city or road you want to travel and it will mark out the earthworks and museums. Not sure which ones to go to?  Then check out the below virtual tours enabled in part by the CERHAS (The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites (CERHAS), part of the University of Cincinnati's Design and Archictecture program.  These are beautiful, realistic tours that have been integrated into the museums.  Check portions of them from their YouTube.com channel:

Youtube Channel Ancient Ohio Trail (click!) 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ohio Renaissance Fair 2012


Jousting


Finally attended the Ohio Renaissance Festival (~45min north of Cincinnati), which has been a big hit for many years.  It lived up to its hype.  Tons of crafts, hecklers, music, entertainment…turkey legs being eaten.  And live jousting, of course! In fact, there is a show on the History Channel called "Full Metal Jousting" and many of the participants have roots to Monroe OH and appear here.  Very family friendly, yet still welcomed the die-hard fans who were compelled to dress in full-plate armor, pirate gear, or druid capes.

Their Entertainment Schedule was buried on their site (linked here) and is useful to plan a visit; the schedule is available at the front gate but it is nice to plan your route first. We were particularly interested the crafts and enjoyed watching one blacksmith and glassblower (images below).  Great place to have your fortune read, purchase armor, or buy a nice leather artifacts (leather bound tomes, capes,etc.).

Glass Blower

You can even ride camels, horses, get trapped in a maze, throw knives, shoot bows, and even mud wrestle…I think.  See my daughter and wife below pretend to be the archer Katniss from the Hunger Games (image).  Highly recommended autumn fun.
Archery

Friday, July 1, 2011

Unassuming Ohio Has Legitimate Sword and Sorcery Roots

See here! Ohio has Authors, Musicians, Illustrators, & Metal-Smiths!

Authors
Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA, 1960-80s) was a group of authors that sparked a revival/growth of the Sword and Sorcery genre--represented by a series of anthologies called Flashing Swords (graced with covers from Frazetta and edited by Lin Carter).   Frazetta’s covers are known for revitalizing the genre. Carter had his own passion to evolve Sword & Sorcery (with L. Sprague de Camp, Carter posthumously “co-authored” several Conan tales in the 1960’s for the Lancer editions that published “all” the Conan tales in chronological order).  By design, each story for Flashing Swords was newly crafted; the idea being to generate and accumulate a new foundation for Sword & Sorcery
So what was the scope of the books? Carter nicely defines Sword and Sorcery in his introduction:
We call a story Sword & Sorcery when it is an action tale, derived from the traditions of the pulp magazine adventure story, set in a land or age or world of the author’s invention—a milieu in which magic actually works and the gods are real—and a story, moreover, which pits a stalwart warrior in direct conflict with the forces of supernatural evil (Lin Carter, Flashing Swords I, 1973)
Sword and Sorcery was coined by Fritz Leiber (Chicago, IL)….though the genre was started by Robert Howard (Cross Plains, TX)…and Frank Frazetta hails from PA.  Could OH actually have any roots?  Turns out, 3 of the 15 SAGA members were from Ohio!  Many awarded, contemporary authors have taken the genre further; a partial listing is shared below:

Author
Ohio Roots:
Work
SAGA member
Andre Norton (1912-2005)Cleveland,OHWitch World seriesx
John Jakes (1932-)Columbus, OHBrak the Barbarian (since known for his historical family sagas)x
Ellen Kushner(-)Cleveland, OHRiverside series, Thomas the Rhymer (Public Radio’s Sound and Spirit)
David Smith (1952-)Youngstown,OHOron the Barbarian series and Red Sonja series (with Richard L. Tierney)
Stephen Donaldson (1947-)Cleveland,OH
Wooster, OH
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever
Dennis McKiernan (1932-)Westerville, OHThe Realms of Mithgar (Iron Tower Trilogy)
Stephen Leigh Farrell (1951-)Cincinnati, OHThe Nessantico Cycle  and The Cloudmages Trilogy
Richard Lee Byers (1950-)Columbus OH (born)Forgotten Realms; Haunted Lands trilogy
David Weber (1952-)Cleveland OHOath of Swords, The War God's Own
Roger Zelazny (1937-1995)

Euclid, OHDilvish the Damned and Chronicles of Amberx
Steve Goble Mansfield, OHShort stories of Calthus and Faceless Sons  



T.C.Rypel

Cleveland, OHGonji Series



Ohio, Dark Fantasy MusiciansProduct Details
  I  stumbled across Nox Arcana (formed ~2005) as I hunted the web for background music to play while composing/drawing.  Lead musician and accomplished artist, Joe Vargo hails from Cleveland.

Nox Arcana has published over a dozen albums with themes rooted in supernatural literature (Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, Poe’s Raven, etc.).  Each would serve as a robust soundtrack to a movie or game.  Check them out: Nox Arcana Music

Nox Arcana paired with gothic author and singer Michelle Belanger (fellow Ohian) to produce Blood and Angels.
 





Ohio, Metal Miniatures

Ironwind metals essentially grew from Ral Partha (1975-2001) based out of Cincinnati.  Their current big brand is based on the sci-fi board game Battletech. Once upon a time Ral Partha was a major competitor to the miniatures from Games Workshop’s Warhammer—as Ral Partha had garnered the rights to produce AD&D miniatures (1987, see the complex history of Ironwind metals).





Ohio Fantasy Illustrators
Interested in drawing or painting fantastical creatures, landscapes, or fairies?  Then you probably have run across the tutorial books from Impact (based in Cincinnati).   A freelance artist who has worked with Impact is Chris Seaman (Canton, OH), who has been busy illustrating for the Harry Potter Collectible card game, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Magazine, and more...
image

Then there is Ohio born and trained John Palencar who has illustrated covers for the popular fantasy Eragon series and the more haunting/horrfic H.P.Lovecraft stories: