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Blog of the Black Knight

Splashin' With Compassion 2017: Shuta Multimedia Vlog Episode 162

This isn't gaming related, but we're talking people jumping into ice water in winter. How can that not be cool? (Pun intended.)

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For the fourth year the Friends of Shannon Mcdonough have held Splashin' with Compassion. Held at Montage Mountain, this polar plunge raised over $10,000 for young adults with Cancer.

It's an amazing event run by amazing people, and a great time was had by all!!! Yes, even bythose who leaped into the icy water. And by icy I'm not kidding. It was right around 32F out, with a wind chill of 25F and flurries from time to time.

We're talking cold here folks!

List of those who took the plunge:

  • Just the Two of Us
  • Wishing on a Cure
  • Casandra, Steve, Brent, Bob, Jim, Chelar, Joannie, Kara, Kristine, Nicole and Sue
  • Clare, The Chickens, Capsizer, Uncle Pat and Friends
  • Team Rempeladi
  • Mari, Bob, A shark, and two guys
  • Debbie, Jeff, Another Shark, and a couple
  • No name, but it was for her birthday
  • Bob, FOSM, and Jack
  • Kanya and Kaylee
  • Spices
  • a couple of guys, a guy in a suit coat, a girl with fairy wings, and a girl in a pink bikini
  • Team Keys
  • Corey
  • Team Hooters

Note: I only had the vlog to go by, as something happened to the written list of participants. So this list is really sketchy. Next year I'm going to photograph the list used by the D.J.

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Last Updated (Sunday, 05 March 2017 20:54)


When Last We Left the Tales of the Black Knight

When last we left the “Tales of the Black Knight,” the first book was going to be subtitled “The Orphan’s Search” and I was in the process of shopping it around to editors and agents. I found an agent who, while she didn’t deal with sci-fi, had a boss who did. She gave me some very excellent feedback about what needed to change before she would pass my work along to that agent.

One of the things that was requested was changing the perspective to first person, which involved a lot of re-writing. By this point I had been working on it for about 8 years. I realized I wasn’t particularly happy with the last few re-writes—especially the last one, in which I tried to incorporate everything I’d picked up at the last writer’s conference in a hurry. Some of the mistakes that got to the agent made it obvious I could no longer read the book I had written. I needed to step back.

So I took a break. The book was frozen in my mind like ice, and I had to let it melt so I could work with it again.

Now I’m ready to start in earnest, with potentially bigger changes than the perspective shift. For instance:

  • Fewer characters: The book as it stands has a lot of characters, some of which I began to realize might be redundant with each other. Is there anything the Preacher does that the Black Knight couldn’t do? What about the Whisper and Mischief? Whisper is an older character, actually an adaptation of a character I created when I was doing Microsoft Freelancer fan fiction. But Mischief is a much more interesting character, and again, she can do anything Whisper can. It would require major changes to the plot, but I think less might be more.
  • Lose the nicknames, change the title: I’m a huge fan of the DC universe. Everyone has an alias there. Bruce Wayne is Batman, Clark Kent is Superman, Edward Nygma is the Riddler, etc. And they each behave differently depending on which persona they were using at the time. Batman is really only himself as Batman—Bruce Wayne is a fake persona where he tries to look incompetent. This was my plan for the mercenaries in my book. “The Black Knight” is a persona that Joe Zam uses to do things he wouldn’t normally do. Think of it as “mental armor.” But, so far, switching between names seems to be confusing the readers, so I’m not pulling it off effectively enough. The good news is “Joe Zam” is a perfectly good name for a space mercenary, and “The Zam Chronicles” works well as a title—I think. I will probably leave “The Black Knight” as a call sign, but it will be more of a minor detail. When you read Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger books, Joe Ledger is Joe Ledger—“Cowboy” is his call sign, but it gets used sparingly. Come to think of it, in the same books the rest of Echo Team goes almost exclusively by call signs, so perhaps that’s a structure I can steal from him. (It’s his own fault for stressing the usefulness of deconstructing successful novels to teach yourself to write—and then writing amazing novels.) For the record, I’m not stealing the Joe part—Joe Zam was the shortened version of my Grandfather’s name that he used when selling cars. It was way easier for customers to remember. God rest him, he was an amazing guy that I miss pretty much every day. (So there’s a bit of backstory for you.)
  • More advanced technology: Today I read a story that Duke University created a computer out of rat brains. Most of the stuff I've been planning on including-- neural interfaces, nanotechnology used for human biology, robot cars, etc--is looking like it will happen sooner than later. I've got to start thinking further outside the box.
  • Bleaker setting? : I’m on the fence with this one. Not only do I believe in miracles, I count on them. I lived through the cold war when we were facing nuclear annihilation on a daily basis, and by some miracle we did not get annihilated. When I started writing this book, it was about five years after the fall of the towers. When the towers fell I said that we’d be at war for the next twenty years—perhaps thirty. Things seemed to be working on that timeline. The major powers weren’t crazy enough to start a major war, and the minor powers had no chance of getting enough power to start a major war. So when I wrote massive wars into the history of the book, they were in space. Corporate warfare was the pathway to destruction. And that will stay in the book.
    But now I look at the current state of affairs with dismay:
    • In the Middle East, ISIL is currently burning, beheading and drowning every Christian they can find. Meanwhile Iran is getting closer and closer to nuclear weapons, while Israel may no longer feel any pressure to avoid using force to slow this process down.
    • Former Easter block NATO members are calling for heavy weapons to be set in place because a resurgent Russian is expanding into Ukraine and possibly beyond.
    • China is building artificial islands—think about the commitment required here—to expand its influence further into the oceans. Oh and they’re covering those islands with artillery.

    So what happens next?

    That’s the question I have to answer. I’m creating my own universe for this book, so I don’t have to accurately predict the next few decades for it to be believable. But I do have to make it believable. Will my readers believe that we can get through the next three hundred years without something cataclysmic: nuclear war, a collapse of the global economy, a zombie apocalypse?

    And people are really into apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. Throwing that flavor into the pot might make the soup more popular.

    But do I want to be one more voice warning/predicting of a cataclysm? Do we need another voice of warning or—what I prefer to be to be honest—another voice of optimism? It’s not like we haven’t been close to the edge before. I grew up wondering if the bombs would fall, and by probably many, many miracles they never did. So it’s not like were doomed to destruction. We’re just at a particularly interesting point in history.

    What path serves the story in the best way? Would it be better not to jump on the post-apocalyptic bandwagon so late in the ride? Or will this be the popular trend for the next few decades?

These are just some of the things I’m considering as I go forward. I think I’ve got as much reading to do as I do writing. But I’m going to take my time with it. I think before this I started rushing the process trying to get published. Once it was obviously impossible to accomplish within a certain time-line, I lost some of my motivation.

I’ve got to go back to where writing is a fun thing that I want to do all the time.

I think I’m moving in the right direction.

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Last Updated (Wednesday, 15 July 2015 03:58)


The 2015 Throop Cow Flop: Shuta Multimedia Vlog Episode 134

Yeah I know I'm off topic more than on anymore, but still, come on: were talking cow poop bingo here.

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This block party has everything: The classic summer foods, great music, games, raffles, fireworks, a parade, and of course cow poop bingo.

Not only cow poop bingo, high stakes cow poop bingo.

A grid is painted on part of the baseball field. Tickets are sold for each square. A cow is sent into the field. If the cow "flops" on your square, you win $5000.00.

Proceeds benefit Throop Little League.

This video was taken June 28, 2015, at the 27th Throop Cow Flop. As near as I can tell, a great time was had by all.

Music was by Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax.

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Last Updated (Friday, 03 July 2015 03:58)


St Ubaldo Day 2015: Shuta Multimedia Vlog Episode 132

Yeah there's no sign of a video game in this next video, but seriously, check this out. It's wild stuff.

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This Episode shows highlights from the 2015 St Ubaldo Day, AKA the Race of the Saints or La Festa Dei Ceri in Jessup, PA.


Every year, on memorial day weekend, La Festa Dei Ceri is celebrated in Jessup, PA. This festival celebrates the actions of Bishop Ubaldo Baldassini, who was canonized as St. Ubaldo. St Ubaldo rescued the town of Gubbio, Italy by talking Barbarossa out of sacking the town. Before he could return with the news, the town was overcome with fear and panic. Lacking CNN or any social networking sites, and with his health failing, Ubaldo needed a way to tell the town he was fine--in a hurry. So he had himself carried on a platform carried by young men from the town. They ran through the city, calming the population. In Gubbio, this event was reenacted by carrying a statue of St. Ubaldo along the same route. Later Statues of St. George and St. Anthony were added. When immigrants from Gubbio settled in Jessup, PA, they brought this tradition with them.

Thus, in Jessup, PA, the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend is St. Ubaldo Day, and it culminates in the Race of the Saints.

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Previous St. Ubaldo Day Vlogs

Related Links

St. Ubaldo Day: http://www.stubaldoday.com/

Ginger's Pies: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gingers-Pies/145181788853631

The Caverna: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Caverna/125763114150512

Brewster's Sound Sensations: https://www.facebook.com/BrewstersSound?ref=br_rs

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Santa's Train Comes to Olyphant 2014: Shuta Multimedia Vlog Episode 128

As a way of wishing Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the Happiest of all Holidays to my gaming buddies throughout the world, I thought I'd share this video and photo album of the arrival of Santa Claus in my home town. May God's blessings flow to you all.

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December 6, 2014: Never mind the rain! Santa is in town along with Mrs. Claus, juggler and comedian Robert Smith, and some awesome Christmas Music! (Still trying to find out the name of the band, but I haven't given up yet! :) A great time was had by all, I promise you! Merry Christmas to all, and don't mind the drizzle!

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Last Updated (Sunday, 21 December 2014 05:17)

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