Monamas

November 16, 2017

I’m planning on compiling the three Temple of the Exploding Head books into one deluxe volume. In going over the material, I re-discovered the Monama people who figure heavily in those books. A pet project of mine, their lore has expanded greatly since I completed the Temple books.

THE HORNED GOD:

 

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The Horned God, by Fantasio

A celestial being of immense power, the Horned God was worshipped by the Berserkacides for ages. By his command, they built a temple for him and buried it deep underground where they gave him torn and burnt offerings unabashed for centuries. Reveling in the carnage, the Horned God lured in unsuspecting alien beings for the Berserkacides to slaughter.

 

When he snared the alien beings who came to be known as the Gods in Jade and Sapphire (GJS), the Horned God thought they would make easy prey for his Berserkacides. They proved to be much more resourceful than he anticipated, building cities in the cold north of Kana where the Berserkacides couldn’t get to them. Additionally, the GJS began experimenting on the Berserkacides, eventually developing them into what became the Monama peoples. Unable to compete with the prolific Monamas, the Berserkacides went extinct. Forsaking him, the Horned God haunted the Temple alone for a vast period of time, and, like a spurned lover, he swore vengeance on the Monamas.  He eventually replaced the Berserkacides with the Golden People, whom he bade torment them without mercy.

THE GODS OF JADE AND SAPPHIRE:

Modern Monamas are creations of genetic engineering undertaken by an alien species  whom the Monamas referred  to as the Gods in Jade and Sapphire (GJS) for the clothes they wore. These were a decadent people who were at an evolutionary dead end in their development and were mostly infertile. Their lived in windowless cities in the northen reaches of Kana. In the fertile but savage Berserkacides of south Kana, they found possible surrogates to bear their offspring. Too brutal and blood-thirsty to be of any use, the GJS began capturing and experimenting on them with the goal of toning down their bloodlust. After several generations they successfully engineered what would become the Conox Monamas (Mo-Na-Ma meaning the “Bearers of Children”) who were much more docile that the Berserkacides, were extremely fertile, and only had a single pair of arms. Continuing their experimentation, they eventually created the larger Anuian strain, whom they considered to be more successful than the Conox.

The GJS were eventually made extinct by the Horned God’s shape-shifting Golden People, who stole their forms, slaughtered them, and occupied their cities.

THE TEMPLE OF THE EXPLODING HEAD:

 

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The Temple of the Exploding Head, by Carol Phillips

The Temple was a place built deep in the ground by the Berserkacides. Under his direction, they hacked out and shaped each brick with nothing but their bare hands. A colossal structure more than a mile long, they worshipped the Horned God there unobserved by the gods for ages without pause or rest. The Temple became a temporal anchor point due to the rage and suffering that went on there that was eventually discovered by the time-traveling Golden People. Given that the temple created a tunnel into the past for them to harvest slaves and brood-stock for their children, the Golden People continued the practice of worshipping the Horned God there, sacrificing Monamas there by the untold score.

 

THE GOLDEN PEOPLE:

Sinister and inscrutable people, the Golden People served the Horned God as his “Dark Angles” for many ages. Shape-shifting entities from far in the distant future, they rode the waves of time searching for temporal anchor points to latch onto and explore. When they discovered the Temple of the Exploding Head, they found a place rich with potential victims to exploit. Pretending to be subservient to the Horned God, they found the Monama people of south Kana ideal, prolific and disposable warriors for their various conquests, and even developed the ability to revert them in time, transforming them into Berserkacides.

KILLANJO:

Servants of the Golden People, the Killanjo were hideous beings and primary tormentors of the Monamas. They were invariably victims abducted by the Golden People and placed into a caustic substance that would prime their bodies to the rigors of time travel. This preparation created hideous results and put the victim into a rabid dream state which caused them to behave in a sadistic fashion. They were then sent back in time to do the Golden People’s bidding. They were often skinned and bleeding, with additional parts attached to their bodies. They could cast spells which would render the Elders immobile. They could not bear the sight of their own reflection.

ANUIANS:

The large, bold, more warlike strain of Monamas are, for the most part, gone from the modern Kanan landscape. In the early days of the League on Kana, the Anuians were many, their numbers on-par or exceeding that of the smaller, more timid Conox Monamas. Large, dense, incredibly strong and fast, the Anuians ruled over most aspects of Monama culture, their language and customs passed onto the more primitive Conox. They were bold, stubborn, and passionate. Rejecting weaponry, Anuians always fought with their hands.

Monamas AnuiansThe Anuians also were more inclined to fight back against the enemy: the Horned God and his angels–the Golden People, their constant tormentors. When the League came to Kana, the Anuians were impressed by their technology and presented themselves to their local warchief, a man called Atrajak of Want. They even presented him with a gift: a princess of the Nebulon tribe. Following Atrajak, they embarked on a long series of battles with the Golden People, confident he would lead them to victory. Losing his mind after a failed attempt to attack the Golden People on their home world, Atrajak was executed by the Sisterhood of Light. Without their leader, the Anuians were lost. The Golden People, seeking revenge, hunted down and harvested the Anuians without mercy, wiping them from the face of Kana, leaving only the more easily-controlled Conox.

Today, there is no stable population of Anuians on Kana. Their bloodlines still exist in the Conox genetics, and, on rare occasions, an Anuian will be born amongst the Conox. As the Anuians reqired a six-month gestation persion instead of only three for the Conox, when an Anuian is born, they are severely under-developed. The Anuian Jar is an artificial womb filled with brine, allowing the Anuian to complete their development.

Attempts to cross-breed Anuians generally leads to failure, as they tend to give birth to more Conox. They are also mystically bound to Kana, as they quickly grow sick and die when taken into space. They also are extremely susceptible to cold temperatures and were confined strictly to the south of Kana.

CONOX:

The smaller, more tame, more timid strain of Monamas, the Conox comprise 98% of the current population on Kana. Much smaller than the larger Anuian Monamas, they are slighter in many ways. Their heads are smaller, with, accordingly, smaller facial features. They are not as fast as the Anuians, and not nearly as strong, though they tend to be about four times stronger than the average Elder. They are, on average, only half as heavy as an Anuian.They are more prone to make use of weapons,

Monamas ConoxBut, the Conox are more adaptable than the Anuians. They tolerate cold temperatures much better and they can survive in space much longer. They are incredibly prolific, having ten to twenty young to a litter after only a three month gestation period.

Per Monama writings, the Conox were the original Monamas engineered by the Gods in Jade and Sapphire. The Anuians came later, a second-generation of engineered peoples whom the GJS considered to be superior to the Conox. Concentrating on the Anuians, the Conox were left to fend for themselves, and, accordingly, it was the Conox who had to fend off attacks from the Berserkacides to the south, relying on their weaponry and their sheer reproductive power to thrive and eventually overpower them.

BERSERKACIDES:

Terrifying monsters once the bane of the Monama peoples of South Kana, Berserkacides are extinct in the modern League, though the Monama believe they will one day return to plague them.
Bersekacides.jpgAncient Monama writing states in the primordial days of Kana, the Berserkacide (the word “Berserkacide” is a modern appellation–they had no particular name) was the apex predator of the south, living in the vast tangle of the forests. They were brutal and savage, hunting and killing anything in their grasp. They rejected civilization, had little language and no written word. They worshipped a terrible Horned God who was delighted by their horrendous bloodlust. Adopting them as his Dark Angels, the Horned God brought them victims to slay so he could watch and revel in the misery.
When the Horned God lured in a weak and sickly race of star-faring alien, he thought they would be easy prey for the Berserkacides. However, the aliens proved to be more resourceful than anticipated, and they made shelter in the cold north of Kana where the Berserkacides could not get to them. Furthermore, the aliens found the Berserkacides to be beautiful and fertile. Hoping to quell their blood-thirsty nature, the aliens, using their superior technology, captured them by the score and took them into their northern cities where they experimented on them. After several generations, they were successful, creating what would become the modern Monamas, much more docile, much more fertile and only having a single pair of arms. The Berserkacides loathed the Mo-Na-Mas and made war on them without end, only to find themselves wiped into extinction, as the Monamas were just as strong as they were and reproduced at a staggering rate. So passed the Berserkacide.

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A Killanjo with a leashed Berserkacide (Carol Phillips)

The hated Golden People, coveting the Monamas for their strength, discovered a method to revert them genetically, turning them back into Berserkacides at their whim. Using the strength and fury of the Berserkacide to their own ends, the Golden People enslaved the Monamas until the Horned God’s temple in the ground was destroyed, thus ending their reign on Kana. Lord Lon of Probert, researching the matter discovered a method to remove the genetic trigger, thus ridding the Monamas of the threat of being transformed into a Berserkacide forever.
Berserkacides were fast and savage. Any Monama at any time could be reverted into one, and, once transformed, there was no going back. They were cruel and merciless, taking great pleasure at harming and killing those they formerly loved. Their extra set of arms appeared rather crab-like. They did not appear to suffer from cold temperatures and were thought to be able to breathe under water. They had an odd hole between their eyes that was thought to aid them in locating prey. The hole appeared to be an adaptation coded into them by the Golden People.

 

copyright 2017: Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

 

 

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Covers of the LOE Series

October 9, 2017

We’re up to 12 League of Elder books now, and we’ve pumped out some sweet covers over the years, all by the Queen of the League of Elder, Carol Phillips. A lot of times the artwork gets messed up by my poopy text.

I thought we would review all of the covers naked with no text.

But, before we begin–a quick note of comments. Over 5 or 6 years, this blog has received only a handful of comments. I’d love to hear what you think–do you like these covers? Do you hate them?  Say something–let me know all about it.

Book 1–Sygillis of Metatron

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The original Book 1 cover by Pat Larsen

Back in 2009 we put out the First LOE Book: Sygillis of Metatron. The original cover wasn’t done by Carol P, it was sketched by Pat Larsen. I used it for about a year, and then was told, in no uncertain terms, that the cover came up short in a number of areas.

 

I determined that a change was needed. I took to the internet looking for an artist to redo the cover for Book 1.

The very first name that came up on my search was Carol Phillips–fantasy artist. I sent her a note. She responded and it’s been golden ever since. I sent Carol a number of scenes from the book and allowed her to pick which one she wanted to try. Eventually, she settled on the scene in Metatron where Captain Davage is reunited with Syg. I thought the scene needed a little something, so we added Carahil, though, as written, he had already escaped Metatron prior to Syg’s arrival. Little changes that don’t fit in with the narrative are called Nixies. Nixies add a little drama to the scene.

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Sygillis of Metatron, revised, by Carol Phillips

 

Carol’s cover was designed as a front-only image. We used a grab of the city of Metatron for the back cover. Not until Book 9, “Stenibelle”, would we use a front-only design.

 

Book 2: The Hazards of the Old Ones.

Book2

The Hazards of the Old Ones, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 2 is without a doubt the most metaphysical and pastoral cover of the group. We usually select exact scenes from the various books, this one was more abstract, combining several scenes together as one. We presented it as a wrap-around cover, with the scene extending to the spine and the back cover. I thought that the scene looked best all at once–it lost a lot of impact wrapped around, so we eventually revised the cover to the front only.

 

Book3: The Dead Held Hands

Book3

The Dead Held Hands, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 3 is the first in the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy. It carries on the tradition of featuring Carahil on the cover, he has been on all three so far. Carol often places a “surprise” on the spine–in this case it’s Castle Blanchefort in the background. I had to beg Carol for the green flags on the spires of vacant Castle Durst.

 

Book 4: The Machine

Book4

The Machine, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 4 is one of my favorites. Once again Carahil appears on the cover though he’s a little harder to find. Thomasina 19th appears on the spine. The green cars are actually “cable cars” with cables going all the way up to a vehicle in orbit–though Carol didn’t want to have a cable messing up her artwork, thought it was a “Bob Ross” move. I thought the Princess Marilith vending machine was a nice touch. Carol put her initials “CP” on the dumpster.

 

Book 5 The Temple of the Exploding Head

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The Temple of the Exploding Head, by Carol Phillips

 

I remember I was on vacation in Florida when we started working on this one. I told Carol to “Go Nuts”. I think the results speak for themselves.

 

Book 6: Sands of the Solar Empire

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Sands of the Solar Empire, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 6 is the beginning of the Belmont Saga, featuring the intrepid Paymaster Stenstrom. The scene takes place in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Bones Club. I based the scene off of a Masons lodge that was being torn down–they had a central oculus.

 

Book 7: Against the Druries

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Against the Druries, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 7 is one of my personal favs. I’ve had a crush on Lady Alesta of Dare for some time., and there she is. I like the drama in the painting. As per usual, one of the giant Cronins appears on the spine.

 

Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess

Book8

The Shadow tech Goddess, by Carol Phillips

 

The first book in the Shadow tech Goddess series. I think this is one of the prettiest covers–I like the colors. I also enjoy seeing Hannah-Ben Shurlamp on the cover.

Book 9: Stenibelle

Book9

Stenibelle, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 9 sees a return to a front-only cover. Book 9 also sees Paymaster Stenstrom as a woman in an alternate universe. This one seems to be Carol’s fav cover. She likes the color scheme and the various element, like the flying hookers swooping down to pounce on Stenibelle. Stenibelle, who appears as a man in other books, looks amazing.

 

Book 10: The House of Bloodstein–Perlamum

Book10

The House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, by Carol Phillips

 

The House of Bloodstein books add a touch of horror to my usual sci-fi/fantasy. The Machine in the background returns from the Temple books. The silver kingfisher is King, a favored character of mine.

 

Book 11: the House of Bloodstein–Mentralysis

Book11

The House of Bloodstein: Mentralysis, by Carol Phillips

 

This cover features Queen Ghome, one of my favorite bad guys. I just love her. I wanted a really colorful cover, and Carol delivered as usual.

 

Book 12: The 6th Turn–Kat

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The 6th Turn: Kat, by Carol Phillips

 

A return to the Shadow tech Goddess books. This once deals with an alternate version of Kat, who really developed into a cool character over the various drafts. Carol designed her with a massive Mohawk, which I wrote into the story.

We made a conscious effort to make the Shadow tech Goddess sub-books look the same, so the formatting for this one resembles Stenibelle.

copyright 2017, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

STENIBELLE–A MARY-SUE??

January 1, 2017

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Front Cover of LoE Book 9 (artwork by Carol Phillips)

It was bound to happen. Somebody called Stenibelle a Mary Sue.

It’s been over a year since we released  LoE Book 9: Stenibelle. Stenibelle is unique in the LoE series, it’s by far the shortest book of all, ringing in at around 54 thousand words–much shorter than my usual average of 125 thousand (Hey, I write until I’m done, then I stop. I conducted the story I wanted to tell, which happened to be 54k). It’s also the first book in the series told entirely from a female protagonist’s point of view, all of the other stories tend to be  male/female ensembles.

I really don’t like pitting one gender against another, highlighting one while denigrating the other, which seems to often be the case in many books. That approach tends to be extremely polarizing, and, for me, rather annoying. I like Humanist stories featuring positive cooperation and teamwork between the sexes.

 

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The original artwork of Mary Sue accompanying Paula Smith’s  “A Trekkies Tale”

A new term has popped up lately, and, like most things people catch wind of, everybody wants to bust it out and make  bold use of it. The term has gotten batted around the Sociosphere like a piñata. The term in question: Mary Sue, mostly in regards to the character Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

What is a Mary Sue? The term is loosely defined and can mean different things to different people. Mary Sue first came from a piece of parody Star Trek fan fiction by Paula Smith entitled: A Trekkies Tale, where a 15 year old girl named Mary Sue graduates as the youngest person ever from the academy, joins the Enterprise and quickly outperforms Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty,  takes command of the Enterprise, captures Kirk’s heart, out-Vulcans Spock, and dies a hero for which a holiday in her name is remembered ever after.

So, with that in mind, a Mary Sue is:

–A female character who outperforms all other characters in a given platform.

–A female character who has skills and abilities that are out-of-joint with her backstory.

–A female character who exhibits near flawless traits.

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Rey character seems to exhibit all three of these criteria, though her full backstory isn’t known at this point, and, there’s always the wildcard of “The Force” to explain away pretty much everything she does: Rey could just be the greatest Force user …ever. When reading a book or watching a movie, you usually expect the characters you’re watching to grow and change in some way. With a Mary Sue (or as in her male counterpart, the Gary Stu) there’s no room for her to grow–she’s already perfect in every way. Such a character tends to be a product of lazy or just plain bad writing. In any event, such a character tends to be annoying, difficult to relate to and tends to make some people think that the film has a singular Feminist Agenda, and thus the conversation and frequent use of the term “Mary Sue” today when examining strong female characters.

So, back to my original thought–somebody read Book 9 and thinks Stenibelle, the female protagonist of the story, is a Mary Sue. Let’s take a look at the facts and see if that is the case or not.

A Mary Sue is a female character who outperforms all other characters in a given platform.

I honestly can’t see how Stenibelle outperforms anybody in the story. At the beginning Stenibelle is in prison, for failure and malfeasance of command during the Seeker Affair. She was captured in space, clapped in irons, frog-marched off her own ship by Lt. Gwendolyn and thrown in jail. She is saddled with self-doubt, self-loathing, is full of angst, full of self-pity and, though she, as a fully trained Tyrolese Sorceress, has the skills to escape from her imprisonment, she chooses not to as she wishes to hide from her problems.

It takes a monumental amount of tenacity and self-growth to not simply triumph in the end and conquer her personal demons, but to simply survive. Along every step of the way, her skills are put to the test and she fails as often as she succeeds. She also needs timely assistance from her allies around her, otherwise, she might nearly have been either killed or enslaved. Stenibelle does triumph, but it’s no day at the beach.

A Mary Sue is a female character whose skills and abilities are out-of-joint with her backstory.

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The VUNKULA , provided by her benefactor, Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, is one of Stenibelle’s most trusty weapons

Stenibelle has quite a few abilities that a common person about the League probably does not have, but, these abilities are all consistent with her backstory. She has the exact same training as Paymaster Stenstrom, thus, she was trained for nine years by her mother, Lady Jubilee of Tyrol, in the ways of Tyrol Sorcery. As such, she is able to Fade into the Shadows, essentially, to  turn invisible. She is highly skilled at picking various types of locks. She is a skilled herbalist and chemist, well-versed at creating and using Holystones for a variety of effects and can conjure them at will out of thin air, along with her deadly MARZABLE throwing daggers. Stenibelle is also highly proficient at using the VUNKULA of the House of Grenville, which is a powerful weapon she makes use of quite a bit. A former lover, Lord Geryron of Grenville, taught her how to use it.

 

Given all that, nothing Stenibelle does in the  story is out-of-the-blue or unexpected and is perfectly in-line with her background and training.

And finally:

A Mary Sue is a female character who exhibits near flawless traits.

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An unused piece of concept artwork, by Carol Phillips 

Essentially, this point means the character in question is nigh invincible, needs no help, and has no defects. As I mentioned before, Stenibelle is far from flawless. She is highly skilled, but is hampered by considerable self-doubt and inexperience that must be dealt with during the course of the story. She is crippled mentally and spiritually by past failures, and she needs lots of help along the way to discover herself, clinging to her friends, Lord A-Ram and Lady Alesta, for strength and guidance, and to her benefactor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp for financing and the exotic tools she needs for success. Even Bunged Up into a ruthless, heartless person by over-reliance on bolabungs, Stenibelle loses a brief fight with Lady Alesta–who is a monk, a Pilgrim of Merian. By the end of the story, Stenibelle discovers her confidence and her courage to become a truly formidable and seasoned adventurer, but it takes a long time and a lot of assistance to get her to that point.

 

So, given all of that, I’m not certain what story that person read to come up with the notion that Stenibelle is a Mary Sue. Perhaps he didn’t properly understand the term and simply busted it out in a review to sound current.

Who knows.

Stenibelle is a fully-developed human character exhibiting all the flaws, weaknesses, foibles, skills, potential, endurance and capacity for self-growth that we all have … she just happens to be a girl.

Bowl Naked
copyright 2017, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Carol Phillips

 

The Liebster Awards

January 29, 2013

Leibster
I was nominated by my fellow author, the amazingly talented Chantal Boudreau, for the Leibster Award. “What is that?” I asked.

“Dunno,” she said. “Just do it, `kay.” Actually, she didn’t say that, but I just can’t help but tell stories. As you continue reading, I’m clearly one of the must boring humans on the planet.

So, here we go.

The rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you. Thanks, Chantal!

2. Post eleven random facts about yourself.

3. You answer the eleven questions asked by the person who nominated you.

4. You think of a new set of eleven questions and nominate eleven others to answer them.

ELEVEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT REN (and these are all true)

1)–My folks thought I was “Mentally Challenged” as a lad for my inability to keep up with my studies. My teachers agreed and suggested DRUGS to fix my issues. After two years of mind-altering DRUGS, Darth Vader finally discovered my problem. I came out of the theater crying: “I couldn’t see anything!” I babbled. A trip to the eye-doctor and a pair of glasses later, I was fixed.

2)–I used to play ice hockey, goal tender. I’ve been knocked unconscious three times and the one-and-only time I’ve been in a hockey fight … was with a girl.

3)–A trip to a Turkish Brothel was one of the coolest experiences of my life–not to mention one of the most expensive.

4)–During my time in the Air National Guard, I was inches away from being sucked into the intake of a running F16.

5)–I’ve had a loaded gun shoved into my face twice in my life: once by the FBI and once by the Body Guard of the Prince of Saudi Arabia.

6)–I barely missed the following catastrophic events: The F5 Super-Break-out Tornado of Xenia, Ohio (1 Day), the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake: (3 Weeks), and 9/11 (1 Month).

7)–In an abandoned YMCA, I managed to dodge metal girders falling from the crumbling ceiling only to fall into the drained swimming pool in the center of the room.

8)–I was once engaged to a woman 20+ years my senior.

9)–I have a mortal fear of spiders, yet I have a recurring dream of sticking my hand into a tank with a tarantula and letting it bite me.

10)–While cutting through a field on my way home from school, I was chased by an Arabian Horse and bitten in the rear-end as I scrambled under the fence to get away from him. I haven’t liked horses much since.

11)–I’ve been to five places the Ghost Adventurers have been, and I haven’t experienced a thing.

Ok, that was embarrassing, now to Chantal’s questions:

1. What was your favourite childhood show? Gilligan’s Island. Still one of my favs.

2. If you could be a bird, what bird would you be and why? Common Nighthawk–just because the name is cool.

3. What is the best dessert you’ve ever eaten? I’m pretty boring when it comes to deserts. Simple yellow cake with creamy chocolate frosting–or, if I’m feeling frisky, strawberry frosting.

4. If you could pick band line-up for your ultimate concert, who would you have open, follow and headline? I’m totally not into concerts. If I had to pick–Lady Gaga would open for Adam Ant.

5. What would you say is your favourite book outside of your preferred genres? I hate to say it, but I loooove Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I just love it.

6. If you had to sit through the goriest of horror movies of the sappiest of chick-flicks, which would you pick? Gory horror films actually bore me. Probably the goriest film I’ve seen that I enjoyed was John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. My fav Chick’s Flick must be Moulin Rouge by Baz Luhrmann. I actually named the planet Bazz after him.

7. Kirk or Picard? Kirk. Picard’s a $%^^&

8. What is your favourite board game? Talisman by Game’s Workshop. I have all the expansions and they’re worth a fair amount of money these days.

9. If you had your choice, quiet night at home or rowdy night out? Home. I’m not much a of Bar-Guy.

10. What are the top three colours in your wardrobe? Blue, green and white.

11. Have you ever read anything you were expecting to dislike but to your surprise you loved it? Not that I can think of. If I think I’m not going to like something, I pretty much always don’t.

Now comes the hard part–I’m supposed to forward this to 11 more bloggers. Problem is, Chantal knows pretty much the same list of bloggers that I do. I can’t think of 11 more to send to.

Ah me…