2007-12-25

Merry Yuletide and a Happy year MMVIII

Ditto, have a great time and may MMVIII get us all closer to happiness...

KALLISTI!

2007-11-29

"Undefeated", Nanowrimo day 29, Victory




wordcount widgets

By the end of the looooooooong Chapter 7, during the night of the Sunday, August 8th 1588 to Monday (Gregorian calendar already working in Spain), the English have launched their best strike to the moment, while the Armada is stationed at Calais.

Now, we'll go on from here, this time to finish the damned novel... :-)

I'll keep you updated.

Jay! :-)

KALLISTI!

2007-11-27

Undefeated, Chapter 7, Nanowrimo 27th day, The English Channel


wordcount widgets

Things are going pretty well this year, I think, and I'm confident about this year's Nano... We'll see!

Meanwhile, I have updated my Nanowrimo Author's Profile with an excerpt from Undefeated's First Chapter.

It's in Spanish, sorry.

Anyway, if you can read it I hope you can enjoy it: it's not exactly brilliant, but I think it offers a different point of view from what you may have learned from your History lessons...

Anyway, it's almost over! :-)

Good luck to everybody!

KALLISTI!

2007-11-16

Undefeated, Chapter 5, Nanowrimo day 16, Lizard Cape


wordcount widgets

End of July, 1588 (Gregorian Calendar)

The first exchange between the Spanish Armada and the English Fleet has just happened. Things have finally started to heat up in the Ocean.

The second part of this chapter will set up some very dramatic happenings that will set the tone for the rest of the expedition through the Channel.

Meanwhile, Flanders is boiling up, with almost 20,000 infantry soldiers piled up in Dunkirk and Nieuwport, while the Duke of Parma is keeping the English diplomacy unbalanced though the Bourbourgh Conferences and ither delaying tactics, with problems in the Bravant province.

I'll keep you updated, but this year things are going pretty smoothly and I'm enjoying it a reat deal!

Good weekend and good luck nanonovelists!

kallisti!

2007-11-06

So far... July!


wordcount widgets

So far, things are going pretty well, I'm having lots of fun, learning lots of things, and, well, Chapter 2 is happening in July, so in a month (novel time) we'll be ready for the action!

:-)

I have just seen that a movie about Elithabeth I will be released this Friday in Spain, and it's bank holiday in Madrid... Hmmm... Well, the images I have seen from the Armada in the trailer, they seemed pretty impressive: I don't know if it will be good (or too partial, propaganda-loaded) but I think it would be foolish for me not to watch it, eh? Beautiful actress, gorgeous ships... Yup, definitely! :-)

Have lots of luck in your writing ventures!

KALLISTI!

2007-11-02

Chapter 1

Don't you love those words? :-)

Well, we have made a discreet start in Nanowrimo this year, 1900 words, which is more than necessary for day one, but less than I would had hoped.

However, I had the typical distractions of Samhain and New Year, and of starting the novel, you know, selecting the starting locations precisely and so on.

One thing I'm particularly proud of: almost finishing page 4 and I haven't yet described one of the main starrings, at least not physically... Hehe.

And, well, yesterday I left with less-than-half the Armada at the harbor of the Galician town of Coruña, with lots of doubts and trouble, and the rest of the ships missing and only slowly arriving...

Hehe... :-)

Well, Blessed Samhain to everyone, good luck on your Nanowrimo novels and kallisti!

2007-10-27

Nanowrimo D-5: Undefeated Synopsis

Well, 5 days for Nano and counting!

I am almost ready to start. There are some things still to fix, but nothing that cannot be solved through the writing or even during the revision. And, well, most of it will need to evolve, anyway.

I offer you the 'synopsis' of Undefeated, that is, what you'd read on the back cover (I am thinking it may have a proper term, but I cannot recall which one).

Undefeated:

Fate tampers with the paths of Francisco and Jaan, estranged brothers, to get them together again in the most dramatic circumstances, the England Venture of the King of Spain, His Most Catholic Majesty Philip II.

Francisco is a veteran soldiers from Betanzos who's serving in the Tercio of Flanders under the command of don Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, fighting to recover the lost provinces after the raising of the Dutch protestants, led by William of Orange-Nassau.

Jaan, born in Flanders, is a failed Medicine student who, after going back to the parental home, is forced to embark in the Spanish Armada that, commanded by don Alonso Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno, Duke of Medina-Sidonia, leaves at the end of July, 1588, with the mission of protecting the cross of Duke of Parma's army from Flanders to England, where --by the force of arms, if necessary-- will compel the heretic Queen Elisabeth to return to the True Faith and desist in her backing of the protestant rebels in Netherlands and Zealand.

However, the Venture won't reach any of its goals, and only through great suffering and works untold will manage the brothers to get together again, almost by a miracle.


What do you think? The Spanish version reads much better, to be sincere.

Anyway, I'll let you know how this goes...

KALLISTI!

2007-10-17

Measurements Conundrum

Can you possibly guess what was the best (by far) consequence of Emperor Napoleon's worse nightmare?

Yup, you guessed: the metric system.

Those unblessed with traditional measurement systems (which, well, it's just the USA, Libya and Burma) know perfectly well what I mean. But, well, most countries still keep some traditional measurement units in common-day use, although not in any formal written texts, except, maybe land surfaces. UK and other Common Welth countries still use pints, pounds, and so on, but...

Anyway, when writing Historical Fiction, when we have to describe any measure we know we are in deep trouble. How much was a talent worth? A gold talent? A silver talent? And where? In Persia, in Athens, in Alexandria? In Rome?

And, well, armies walked pasasangs, stades, miles (roman miles? nautical miles? which ones of the many kinds of miles?). And here we have the fun of weights: grans, talents, grams, gallons, tons --yes, some look like volume units, but they were pretty much all fussed up and you never exactly know when a primary source is using one or another, and if when describing other peoples' units, they use their meaning or the author's meaning or which other one!

Argh!

Now I'm exploring the fun of lists and lists of food supplies, medicine supplies, water and wine and vinager volumes, number of cannon balls, with different weights, diameters, for cannons (and other strange-named weapons, like falcons, falconettes, culverins, and others) for the different type of ships (which, well, was also an exercise of imagination, becasue you could find ships described as urcas from almost 900 tons to 60 tons, and they are all tucked together... !!!).

BTW, how many tons? Castilian tons, volumetric tons? Similar, but not quite...

And the trouble, the fact that you have to manage about 130 Spanish ships and more than 200 English ships! So many facts, names, data, measurements, crew sizes, number of cannons, displacements, sails and whatnots!

Argh!

I can firmly say that measurent (and monetary systems) are the suckiest aspects of writing Historical Fiction.

But, somehow, we'll manage.

Somehow.

Kallisti!

2007-10-03

El Felicissima Armada

"I sent my ships to fight against the English, not against the elements."

Phillip II (1588, allegedly),
King of Spain, Naples, Sicily, Portugal and the Algarves


Well, finally I'm showing off:

During Nanowrimo 2007, I'll be jumping 21 centuries to the future, and I'll be writing a Historical Novel (not Science Fiction, eh?) about the events of the:

Spanish Armada (so-called "Invincible"), what Spaniards called la Empresa de Inglaterra (the England Venture) and el Felicissima Armada or Gran Armada (the "Happiest" Armada, actually a Fleet, or Great Armada).


Do not think, however, that this will be a Victorian Era novel: it will be a Phillipian Era novel! (Let's end with the British-centric POV, shall we? :-) I'll be fending off the Black Legend (wikipedia) as well: I'll try to be true to the past.

Alright, what do you think? This was my first HF idea, so many years ago. I even started to write it, but it's a pretty daunting venture (pun intended), and I preferred to get some experience writing before getting my hands on this one. Besides, I have so many wonderful ideas when studying my favorite time periods well before now (specially my preferred Near East cultures!) that I have a couple of pretty interesting novels I will be finishing, anyway. Eventually.

But, November will be a time for fire and powder, gales and battles, hardships and illusions. November will be the time for glory.

I do hope to make a good one about this, I have a couple of novel ideas about the storytelling, and everybody I have talked to has thought it sounded pretty good, we'll see.

Be ready (be warned), from now on, to read on this blog, about sails, cannons, muskets, and most things seafaring related.

And now, a beautiful (if rather partial) gift by Dutch painter Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg, which depicts the Battle of Gravelines (courtesy of Wikipedia):


Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 8 August 1588 (1796)

Be well, KALLISTI!

PS- please note that the Spanish name is correctly written, even if armada is feminine, they did used the masculine form of the determined article, el (don't ask me why, it's in the records)... I think we should be historically true when it doesn't get in the middle of understanding; I mean, my overuse of Old Persian names for satrapies and peoples is probably way too much, but this must be right... :-P

2007-10-02

NaNoWriMo 2007

Well, new Fall and new Nano!

I have signed up for NaNoWriMo once again.

My novel will be Historical Fiction, with working title Undefeated (in Spanish, Invicta), which is not very informative (yet) but it has some strength, uh? ;-)

I'll let you know more about it when I get closer, and fear not, I'll keep on my other novels, it's just that I need a fresh start, and this is my first HF novel project ever, it's a kind of a debt.

besides, this November looks promising: I'll be oh so busy!

(hehe, but seriously...)

Anyway, anyone interested, I'm Excalibor over there, add me to your buddies list and I'll be there... :-)

Cheers and KALLISTI!

2007-09-26

Ships, ships, ships

I cannot fail to note that, for a seaside boy like me, I do like infantry formations, specially in ancient times.

I love to depict, describe, and play with phalanxes (both classical and Macedonian), legions, and other similar armies, with mixed arms (light and heavy infantry, light and heavy cavalry, if available, and so on).

However, most of my novels (or novels-to-be, anyway) happen near, and largely, near the coast or in the sea. I can remind, off-hand, the 200 trirremes fleet of the Delian League in The Lybian, or the massive fleets in the Battle of Lade, in Revolt!. I guess I cannot avoid it: I like the sea, and I like to navigate.

I specially enjoy sailing. And sail ships are dear to my heart.

From the early merchant ships found in the Mediterranean in Bronze Age (dromon and other types), to the war galleys known to all (Phoenician and Greek galleys, for example), Egyptian sailing ships, Nordic merchant ships (the Hanseatic League) and then the host of sailing ships after the Portuguese Descubridores (whose English names I don't know, but you probably know the lot: naves, drakkars (et al.), carracas, caravels, galleons, longships, corvettes, fricates, ships-of-the-line, clippers, yatchs, schooners, xebecs, and a very long etc.)

Naval affairs have also have decisive (or at least "key") roles in many military events throughout History, including, for example, the Battle of Salamis (480 BCE), the Battle of Lepanto (1571 CE), the Battle of Trafalgar (1805 CE) or, in too recent times, the Battle of Midway (1942 CE), among too many others.

Many other naval events were probably more important than those above, and how many have I never heard of?

One that involved an important naval affair is the main subject of my First-Ever Historical Fiction idea, the novel I wanted to start writing and was afraid of, and it will be the subject of my Nanowrimo novel.

I won't say anything more for the time being (suspense! :-) but now you know I like sailing ships (my favourite among the ones I have been able to try is the dinghy "four-seventy" or 470, a two-manned monohull sailing ship, of Olympics category, which is really delicious to sail... :-)

Lastly, I can recommend anyone who can sail to do so: it's a really rewarding experience, where the beauty of nature and the harsh "bussiness" mix to produce a cocktail of sport and Zen-like relax that's hard to find.

KALLISTI!

2007-09-19

The End of the Summer...

... approaches quite rapidly. The weather starts to reflect rather strong variations in night and day temperatures, cloudy skies, chilly winds, nightfall arrives suddenly at unexpected times (at least until we get rid of the Summertime Daylight Saving +1 hour)...

The Second Harvest approaches, the Equinox that balances light and darkness (Good and Evil as well? naaah). It's a time for our moods to balance as well, torn between the delights of the leaving Summer, and the ocher shades of the impending Fall (it seems a beautiful word, although Autumn is also nice).

And where does all this lead us? To a time of changes, of memories from a lost recent past, of what could have been but was not; but also to new opportunities, to the chance of shredding our old skins off, like the trees do, to get braced for the Winter.

The Winter which arrives after the Third Harvest (not the Astronomical Winter, but the seasonal one, after Samhain, the Halloween), the announce of the infertility of the soil, the domain of Darkness over Light, of night over day, and the chance to overcompensate with our fertile Muses, comfortably sat before our hearths, hot cocoa infusion close by and writing mitts on our hands; the time for creation when nothing can easily be created, time to spread warmth with our minds when the weather is cold and menacing, to fertilize the Winter landscape with the colors of our mind.

I am talking, of course, about NaNoWriMo.

And fertility this Nano is bringing.

Yes, I know what you are thinking: "Another novel? When are you going to finish one, first?" Well, the answer is: when it's done.

This Nano will give me the opportunity to finally tackle my very first Historical Novel project, one that I have delayed for years of slow investigation, thinking, figuring out... The other day, though, I had a revelation brought to me through the mysterious paths of the Muses, and now I feel confident enough (it's not like I haven't written more than 200,000 novelling words between then and now, I have learned some things, I hope).

I'll let you know as we get closer, for the project deserves it. It will also be a kind of jump to the future for me, which considering my recent trends, is good news in and on itself (I mean, I will be writing about this Common Era, that's more than 1,000 years later, hehe).

So, stay tuned. ;-)

Lastly, I was visiting one of the biggest book stores in Spain the other day, hunting documentation, references, and so on, and went to visit the 'Other Languages' section; I usually go to look for some novels written in English that will probably never see the light in Spain/Spanish: it's more rewarding than Amazon and other online services, you can touch and feel the books, something I undeniably enjoy.

Guess what? I found some exemplars of the pocket version of the UK edition of Memnon, by our top ten favourites writer, Scott Oden. Way cool, I'm very happy for him that his books are getting such a distribution (I mean, if they get in here, they are widely spread out!). No trace of Men of Bronze, though, but I won't lose heart, and, as always, I recommend everybody to get 'em, as they are more than worth their price, indeed!

Well, times are changing: we feel it in our skin, we feel it inside, and Nano will let us get it out in an explosion of creativity and emotion!

KALLISTI!

2007-09-12

Pons Ferrata

Or Ponferrada (entry on English Wikipedia), in the Spanish region of O Bierzo (roman Bergidum), close to the frontier between Gallaecia and the Tarraconensis province, and western borderline between Province of León (from the old Legio VII Gemina fame) and Lugo (of Lucus Augusta fame), at about some 60 km from Astorga (old Asturica Augusta; the remaining capital town of Gallaecia being Bracara Augusta, nowadays Braga in Portugal).

It's a very beautiful region, a big plain surrounded by mountain ranges all around, where the Romans took huge quantities of gold, specially from the mines at Mons Medulium (nowadays known as Las Médulas, an UNESCO World Heritage Site), with important historical facts from the start. The most remarkable feature nowadays is probably the medieval Templar Castle, probably the last one in existance and in good conditions, at least in Spain, and probably in all Europe (although I know there are others in France, but not the state of conservation).

This is a picture taken from the small road to the entrance, where part of the moat can be seen. At the other side, view from this POV, some 60 meters lower, goes the river Sil, which is the main affluent to the Miño river, which forms the natural frontier between Portugal and Galicia nowadays. The other side, to my back when I took the picture, leads to the other side of the hill, where the 'old town' mostly lies nowadays, including the St. Mary of La Encina church, the Major house, etc...

This is a detail of the main entrance, where the Templars "T" (tau) can be easily seen. The castle walls are in pretty good shape, including some architectonical disasters in recent times. The innards, though, are a different story. Until the 40's in the XX century, the castle was in quite good shape, but in those years the inner chambers and walls were destroyed or covered to build a soccer playing field. Fortunately this was cancelled in recent times and recovery or reconstruction works are underway, proviso the council is trying to get some economical return from the investment by constructing a little bit anachronical conventions center, using wood and questionable materials. The final result, however, is quite pleasing and I'm not that sure it's incorrect: heritage is very expensive to care.


This is a pretty wide view of the innards of the castle, with a big square with a water well, at the far end --they look small but the height is well over 20 meters, over a 4 stories modern building-- and the center place, where horse stables and other stores and rooms can be guessed from the rest of walls. At the right end part of the new conventions center can be guessed as well, which is where the residential tower was.

This is a view of the castle walls at the opposite side of the river, almost from the Major square. In order for you to get an idea of the scale, the holes in the tower on the right are about the size of one person, which got perfectly covered when hiding behind the wall.

You can also see the double walls hinted in the first picture, but considering the castle was built in different phases, it's quite logical. That tower has some shields carved on the wall, but only the one over the window can be easily seen from this POV.

Anyway, we got great weather, lots of fun, museums and other niceties, besides being with friends. So, no writing this weekend, but some healthy sosializing activities... :-)

KALLISTI!

2007-09-04

Nauigatio in Auulam

Yep, I returned to Ávila (Roman Avula) this weekend, to the Three Cultures Medieval Fair.

It was fun and very instructive, as I managed to test a mail armor (lorica hamata) and do some bow firing, and visit the local museum, which I managed to miss the first time I went.

Ávila is a very nice city, declared Humanity Patrimony by the UNESCO, with a full medieval wall which is mostly walkable.

Here's the northern wall at the West side of the city. You can easily see (and imagine, right at the far end of the picture) the amount of free space and visibility they enjoyed in old times: it's all basically plain until you hit with the Gredos Mountain Range, far in the West. Down there, crossing North-South, it's a river, the Adaja, which flows down to the Duero, one of the biggest in Spain, which set the separation between the Gallaecia and Lusitania in the western side of Hispania until the creation of Portugal county pretty late in the Medieval times. The river is easily crossed nowadays, with a couple of bridges and little water, but I guess it was wetter in the old times.

Here's the inside view of the Carmen Door (where Carmen is the name of one of the most important virgins in Spain, patroness of sailors, among other important roles). Right at the left side is the Tower of Guzmán (which you cannot see because of that signal), which I visited the last time, it's the tower that defended the door. You can also see a espadaña, which are apparently common in this regions and others in Castilia (I have never seen one of those without the corresponding rest-of-the-church attached before Ávila).

And here you have the wall and door from the other side, a bit later, after a short aerostatic globe trip... :-) The quality is not very good, but my camera deals badly with poor light conditions. The espadaña is at the left side, a bit far away in the picture.

This is the wall on the East side, just in front the Great Square or St. Teresa's Sq., one of the biggest squares in the city, and the southmost door in the East side (where the other two are closer to the cathedral). I did go all the way up there during my first trip and I can tell you it's pretty high and impressive.


From the museum I got this picture of a couple of swords, an antler sword and a falcata iberica from the celtiberic population that lived there in pre-Roman times, the Vettons. They are beautiful, aren't they? I got lots of pictures, it's been hard to select just a few so the main page loads reasonably fast... :-P (I'm not sure what the other thing is, I seem to recall it may be part of the sword sheath, or a cavalry thingie, but...

Lastly, as a bonus, here you have a picture of the archers' pre-exhibition training (warming-up) doing a defense doulble line in three times (set, charge and go!)... It was pretty impressive watching the targets look like a hedgehodge's butt in an instant; it provides for a nice live demo of the defensive capabilities of archer lines: certainly effective!

And that's all for now. So much travel and no play, makes Excalibor a sloooooow writer. Not really a lot more words on Revolt! to report, but I'm on it (and on the driving license, and, and, and... argh! :-P )

Be well. Kallisti!

2007-08-30

Esperanto estas lingvo kun multaj tratoj

Efike, kaj kiel unu da mia vivpasioj (lernanta lingvojn), ĉi tie vi havas retĉeneron al tre interesa video, subtitolata en la Angla lingvo, ĉirkaŭ kio estas Esperanto kaj kio estas ĝia uzo (komparata kun kelkaj naturala lingvo, tio estas).

("Esperanto is a language with many features/uses"). Effectively, and as one of my life passions (learning languages), here you have a link to a very nice video, subtitled in English, about what Esperanto is and what's its use (compared to any other natural language, that is).

Esperanto estas lingvo kun multaj tratoj

(En español: Esperanto estas lingvo kun multaj tratoj)

Aŭ vi povas vidi ĝin ĉi tie:

Or you can watch it here:



Mi esperas ke vi ĝin ĝojas,

I hope you enjoy it,

saluton!

Por la pli bela! (a.k.a kallisti!)

2007-08-28

Father Wolf (or maybe not) and Father (or Mother) Bear

Well, while Revolt! keeps moving ahead over the 60Kw boundary, and we are getting ready for some fun, I'm revisiting an old theme with a fresh look, and I'm afraid I'm getting fond of my digital camera, so it's picture time!

This is the Romantic conception of Attawulf, or Ataulf, the first Visigothic king, founder of the Kingdom of Tolossa, in Gallia. It's displayed in the Oriental Gardens in Madrid, in front the Royal Palace, in the so-called Austria's Neighborhood, in the center of the town. A beautiful visit, with the Opera Palace and the Cathedral of the Almudena in its vicinity, this palace, and its gardens, has seen a great deal of Madrid's history, before, but specially during and after, the Independence War, where the Spanish civilians, police, and military fought Napoleon Bonaparte's garrisons in the (in)famous May 2 uprisings, which set, nowadays, the Official Festivity of Madrid.

The place is really pleasing, and the environment is soothing, specially during the sunset, where lights over the sky play with its reflections on stone and green leaves. The Garden itself is dominated by a huge water font and a labyrinth of green bushes on one side, and the walkside in front of the Palace, Bailen St., with lots of space to walk about, enjoy Madrid's lifestyle in the terraces or bars and the spectacular views of the Sabatini's Gardens attached to the Northwest side, and the view of Spain Sq. (if it were not because the trees in nearby parks we could be the Temple of Debod from this location as well). The Spanish Senate is a mere 100 meters from this place, and walking towards the East you get to the famous Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate) and the center of the city.

Another interesting characteristic of this place is that's full of History: from Ataulf, we get the whole of the Visigothic kings, and then the first 'Reconquest' kings, in an artistic way of legitimating the Monarchy through time. We can see the first dozen of Visigothic kings (in Tolossa and then in Toletum) in the picture, as well as some trees and walkers. The Royal Palace is at the right side of the paved way, and the Opera Palace is just at the left at the far end of the way. We can see Ataulf, then Winseric, and so on. The fun thing is that the dresses change from a vaguely late Roman style to a full medieval style as we walk. At the opposite side the timeline keeps going on, in a counterclockwise movement. We can even find some wueens as well.

Finally, walking up Arenal St. (where arenal is a sandy landscape, and refers to the virgin of the Arenal Conception, yes, "uh?", well, it's one of the classical streets in Madrid, anyway), walking past the Opera Palace, we arrive in Puerta del Sol, where, among many other famous Spanish items, it's the (un)official symbol of the capital of Spain, the Bear and the Madrone (Arbutus). From the bush-tree we get a characteristic liquor and it's the proof that Madrid was inhabited by bears in the past, although nowadays is, I think, basically impossible to find any outside the northern mountain ranges in the Cantabric or the Pirinees. Recent movements state that the bear (oso in Spanish, el Oso y el Madroño) is actually a she-bear (which would make it la Osa y el Madroño). This, besides feministic, seems fit: the Autonomous Community flag sports seven stars like the seven main stars in the Ursa Major (astronomy U Ma) or Great Bear constellation, which in Spanish is la Osa Mayor, like in Latin--ursa > osa, while the masc. ursus > oso). I have decided this is logically consistent enough that it deserves the change of sex, despite popular wisdom or preferences, which I frankly don't really mind... :-P

And well, I don't have a picture handy, but the Royal Palace is in dire need of some serious cleaning up! Walls are dirty and I wonder where the money of the General Direction of Patrimony is going, while we debate about the yearly money assignation to the Royal House, which is not supposed to maintain our Patrimony. Sigh.

KALLISTI!

2007-08-19

Naval mine

One of the things that I like the most about my little town is that it has a wide variety of oddities in a very little place.

I have shown you the medieval bridge built à la roman fashion, now I'll show you a naval mine that appeared floating along the fishing ships in the harbor before I can remember (and considering I arrived to my town around 1978-9...)

I can't really tell you a lot about it, but I think I've heard it could be a WWII mine that moved from wherever it was deployed (maybe the Channel?)...

Anyway, we made a kind of shrine for it, and put it well visible between two of our 4 beaches, and ever since it has been there, acting like a weird sort of beacon and limes... A couple of years ago we put a statue (right in the middle of the sea, at least when the tide is high) of a local mermaid-like meiga (which are a kind of witches, I guess) therefore they mark a high contrast line between our legends of life and death of the sea peoples, and the death instruments of yore...

Things are kinda frozen in the writing front, but I'll get to it, eventually... Lots of travelling around, and I have a small infection in an eye, it's pretty uncomfortable and I'm really sleepy :-P

Anyway... Kallisti!

PD: although it's clouded, we did really have some 4 o 5 days of sun during July holidays, promise!

2007-08-07

Stones

Well, you probably know by now about my fascination for stones (specially those made by our fellow humans of yore).

These are some samples of some stones I have photographed in my last safaris:

This is a ponte romana do Bao (the Roman Bridge in O Bao), in my hometown, a medieval bridge constructed following the examples of Roman bridges in the Province, like those in Lugo (Lucus Augusta) and other places, in Gallaecia, Hispania. It's a beautiful bridge that crosses the river Cobo, and for a long time was the only means to easily transport animals and loads from the harbor towards the center of the parroquia (parish): Nowadays there's a new, bigger, car-ready bridge closer to the river mouth and a bigger one for the train, that cannot be seen on the picture. The other only way of crossing the river (and not getting soaked, that is) was a stones way that crossed it, and only when the tide was low (it's covered in high tides). That's my S.O. over the bridge, who graciously offered herself as a way to compare its size. I took the picture from the middle of the river as it flows as we can see in the picture when the tide was (very!) low, in some rocks that were handy. There's a sign, a snake, made on the right pillar, between the holes you can see in the bigger picture (click it to zoom in) but you'll probably won't be able to detect it. I will probably try and get better pictures for you all to enjoy. The snake (and other marks) are probably the architect's signature of some kind.

Next if the castle of Manzanares El Real, in Madrid, a beautiful medieval castle in the mountain range of Madrid, which has been partially restored and where the current Estatute of Autonomy of Madrid was signed in June, 1982. In a way, it looks like a fairy tale castle, it's quite cute, actually. The place dominates a huge plain with lakes and ways towards the 4 directions.


Finally, we went to a concert last Saturday, where a quartet called Shir gave a recital of classical shefardi romances (shefardis were the Jews who lived in Spain --kingdoms of Castilia and Aragon at the time-- before they were expelled by the so-called Catholic Kings in March, 31, 1492; romances where the traditional, popular poems and songs of the time) and other traditional jewish songs, thus they sung in Mozarab (or español yudió), in Yiddish, Hebrew and English (I think), in a beautiful scenario: the Temple of Debod, in Madrid. The temple was created ca. 2200 BCE by Pharaoh Ptolomeus IV Philopator, and transported to Madrid in 1968 after the rescue missions to protect the remains in the site where the Great Dam of Aswan is nowadays. Here's a picture of it when the night fell and the lights were on. I'll probably write an entry about it later on, with more pictures and so, I'd like to go in daylight and visit its insides!


As for the rest, I'm reading a book by a Catalan author, Martí Gironell, who first published it in Catalan (Els pont dels jueus) in its Spanish edition (El puente de los judíos, "The Bridge of the Jews") about the construction of the medieval bridge of Besalú, in Girona, Spain. Here's a picture courtesy of Wikimedia:
Bridge of Besalú, Girona, Spain As you can see in this picture (and others on the net, Panoramio has a good deal of them) I must say it's a really beautiful bridge, indeed! The book's providing interesting, and it came in an interesting time, because I was planning about writing the story of the bridge in O Bao in galician for the next Nanowrimo... However, I have hardly found any information about its origins, so I guess it will take longer to research than I'd liked... Next Nano will have to go by another subject, but it's in my mind, anyway (not comparable, but my bridge is also very nice ;-)

Well, and I'm slowly learning my driving rules: it's fairly boring!

Revolt! is also shaping slowly, but actually even slower than I'd like, to be sincere. In my defense, it's very hot during the nights, and I'm tired of not sleeping well, and I'm thinking about driving (myself nuts, that is!).

I'll try to give it a boost, though...

Take care! KALLISTI!

2007-08-01

Harrius Potter et Mortis Reliquiæ

Well, more or less, anyway...

My first Potter book was the Spanish edition of ... and the Philosopher's Stone. Then followed the second and third books, and then I switched to the English editions, as they were --obviously-- released sooner (way much sooner, I'll add).

Then I got Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, the Latin version of the book. It's gorgeous. I haven't actually read it yet, only the first few pages, but it's on my list. I plan on getting the Irish edition as well: I need practising, and it's fun and easy to follow (besides I can compare the two editions, and cheat a bit, hehe :-)

Now it was the turn to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I managed to stop and not read it on a single seat, that was good, because they have a little bit more taste that way (books in gneral, I mean; last one I read it on one go: I got it Saturday evening, I finished it Sunday evening!). I won't spoil you the story if you haven't read it, thus I won't say more.

AFAIK, Bloomsbury is not plannig releasing any other HP books in Latin or Irish, but I have seen several of them in Galician (my other native language) so there's always hope... (ah, and an Esperanto edition would be cool! :-)

Anyway, things are going warm (it's actually damn hot in here, we had a Saharian hot air wave struck by the end of last week, and it's still incredibly hard to sleep in the nights) and I'm starting to study to get my car driving license. Yes, I know, but I'm a firm believer of public mass transport as a mean to be nicer to the environment and to save energy and get a nicer world, and I haven't really needed to drive a car in my life, but there are time when it may come handy and, well, I have been kind-of forced, anyway... :-P

Be well, Merry Lughnasadh (or Ostara if you are down there) to those who celebrate, we certainly have the Sun brighting over us!

KALLISTI!

2007-07-27

I Need a Break, I Need a Vacation!

Well, that's me!

Back from holidays, I can tell you that I am exhausted. I slept about one order of magnitude less than I had planned! Yawn!

Anyway, it was nice to be back to my hometown, I made a safari to the local Art Factory, Fábrica de Sargadelos and got a handful of books, about linguistics, galician and even some Sherlock Holmes adventures (in galician, nod)... Hehe :-)

It was nice to be back, to be honest. I did a couple of barbecues (my first barbecues!) of varied success, but overall we had a great time, and the experience was valuable, and even managed to go to the beach and swim at least 3 times (it was damn cold and rainy weather, back in Madrid we arrived to 36ºC in shadows!)

As for Revolt! I managed to add a couple of thousand words and to make a first, quick revision of almost half the novel. Overall, it's surprisingly acceptable, the number of pitfalls and downright errors is fairly small and will be easily corrected when I'm done and start the first real revision. I have to finish some chapters that got left hanging during Nanowrimo, specially the second one (where the rebellion is forged) and the tenth, when one of the starrings gets married, and the failed expedition to Thrace and Macedon by Mardonius.

I have also detected a fundamental disequilibrium between the parts (it's articulated around a three parts concept, and the second part, where the "knot" and the heavy fighting and development takes part is, however, shorter than the first or the third parts. Maybe the problem is that I have concentrated some years of the revolt into that part, which is starred (and finished) by the Battle of Lade. I'll have to think if this is okay or if this is asking for some redesign.

As for the story itself, I have the Persians ready to start taking over the Ciclades Islands and head towards Euboea and Marathon, which is the direct consequence of the revolt.

As I'm planning to getting my car driving license this Summer, it will surely take time from my writing, but I hope to keep advancing at a good pace through the season, while I'm still thinking of a good story to tell in Nanowrimo, which I'll write in galician, my other native language, probably a much overdue opera since my school days writing short stories and poetry. I'd like it a short novel, to be written in Nanowrimo and finished within November, so I can review it in March and start sending it to galician editors in May or maybe even sooner.

I am thinking about late Roman times or even early medieval times in the region (Gallaecia, in Hispania), but I'd like it to also serve to protest about the current situation of inmigrants, Africa in general and Occidental Sahara, something of which the Spanish people should be more informed and more oppinionated than I'm afraid we are; which will probably force me to move to much later times, or do some historical contortions I'm not sure I'll be able to do. I'll let you know through this blog, anyway.

And that's all for the time being, back to Madrid, I'll be reachable through Internet once more.

KALLISTI!

2007-07-06

Back to Ithaca

Well, actually back to Ulysses and Odysseus...

Over there, a Greek visitant left me his input after so long (isn't the Internet wonderful?):
Dear friend,

I have read your interesting story about how Odysseus became Ulysses by a linguistic mistake. Thinking that you should like to know alternative theories, I suggest that you examine the possibility of a non mistaken change of (Δ = delta) to (Λ = lambda). This transformation of delta to lambda is used in other cases also ( δασύς = λάσιος, δάκρυ = lacryma, δαήρ = levir, Πολύ-δεύκης = Pol-lux ). This is what Hesychius of Alexandria says in his Lexicon (5th cent. AD). See also the Liddell-Scott dictionary of Greek Language for the letter (Δ, δ, δέλτα = delta).

Basil Xydias

An now, the reply: :-)

Dear Basil,

thank you very much for your input!

I didn't know those transformations were as usual as you show them, but come to think about it, it's a kind of rotation I may have seen before elsewhere*...

I haven't been able to check those sources, but I'll try to get a hold onto them, it's an interesting topic, inded!

thanks for stopping by!

It's veeeeery warm in Spain today, I'm melting, my mind is melting... My body as well, oh no!

Take it easy and drink a lot of water...

KALLISTI

* well, in arab --the thing I was thinking about--, it's actually the opposite, a gemination of the article consonant al followed by a word starting by some consonsants (dentals, alveolars and postalveolar), eg. d, for example, disappears and dupplicates the next one, eg. *al-dîni), the Sun, is actually ad-Dîni. I haven't been able to find an "antigemination" transformation, but it's obviously there, at least in Greek->Latin assimilation. The other languages I know of don't show something similar that I can think off, I'll have to undust my Sumerian, but I don't recall anything lika that, either... :-P

PS- I made this front page because who's gonna read that story nowadays twice, to check any later replies? I may get a couple of visits more this way, that would make some 40% growth, wow! ;-)

2007-07-05

The Revolt! is spreading!

Indeed, slowly but firmly.

Last status update: 50,119 words

Right Now: 56,223 words

This is, in a DIN/ISO-A5, Times New Roman, 10pt format, roughly 160 pages (YMMV)

Not much but more than before, huh? :-)

I'll keep you updated... :-p

Kallisti!

2007-06-28

Proud? Who, me?

Well, yes, and proud of it.

Spain has leapt light-years ahead in provising all her citizens with the same rights, no matter their sexuality (or, in a lesser way, their sexual identity).

We still have lots to fight, and in other fronts as well, to make Spain a just country, and a place where one can be proud to be from.

In the meantime, let's fight, and let's celebrate (jay for this kind of fights, where blood is not a given).

For all who think that everyone as the same rights, no matter how they are:

Happy Gay (and Lesbian, and Bisexual, and Transsexual) Pride Day!

KALLISTI!

2007-06-26

Some Book Reviews

While I am in the process of having something new to tell you about my novels (I can tell you that I have decided to finish Revolt!), I think I can tell you something about the novels I've recently read, just to keep you interested in my blog (hehe) and because I think they can be interesting for you.

  • The Lover of Pilatus, by Gisbert Haefs (German title is Die Geliebte des Pilatus and in English would be "The Lover of Pilate's", and I haven't been able to find an English edition, so do your homework or ask your editor for it!) is an interesting historical thriller set in the times of the governorship of Pontius Pilate in the Roman province of Judæa. The title is a little bit misguiding, IMO, because she is just a character in the novel, and not even the most important one: the different espionage groups in the early Empire conspire to change the balance of power in the allied (and not-so-much) regions between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Persian Empire.

    The characters are well defined, the political situation is rich and, as always, Haefs manages to create a rich embroidement of different threads that contribute to the final carpet, finely crafted and full of exquisite details.

    While it's not his Hannibal or his Troja, and more in the line of Amilcar's Garden, it's a really enjoyable novel, with different points of view that create atmosphere and provide the story with a high degree of humanity in all its full glory and gory(ness).

  • ¡Devuélveme mis legiones! (Give Me My Legions Back), by Spanish writer José Manuel García Torres. It's a small novel, and it's easy to read. He's not Haefs, but I liked it quite a bit. As far as I know, it's well documented, and it looked fairly natural, which is refreshing, to say the least. His style is light and moving, and while I may have enjoyed a little bit more of weight (I think that story can be fleshed a little bit more) I can say that it's a novel well worth the time, and you finish with a little bit of hunger, which is, I think, the way to finish a good book, almost satisfied, longing for a little more.

  • El candelabro enterrado, (in German Der bergrabene Leuchter. Eine Legende, the translation should be somewhat like "The Buried Candlestick. A Legend") by Stefan Zweig, a short historical novel about the Jewish Menorah which gets robbed by the Vandals in 455, when sacking Rome, and it's recovered almost 80 years later by Count Belisarius, and finally buried to protect it. The story is sweetly told, and Zweig was an excellent writer: there's nothing specially magical about the novel, but the whole story is, as I'm not able to find a different word, precious. Easy to read, it's a good story. You may like it or not, but it's a good one, indeed a book to learn from, and an author who still surprises me as I find his books (because I don't look for them, I let them come to me, this formula is working fine so far... :-)

  • Cartago en llamas, (in Italian Cartagine in fiamme, in English that would be "Carthage in Flames"), by Emilio Salgari, about the Third Punic War. Well, we was a master writer, and this book, written some three years before his suicide, is a novel I didn't know, and it looks to be well documented (at least to the standards of his times) and it's being filled with action and details so far (I'm still in the first chapters, but I wanted to throw it in, as a gift :-)

And as for Revolt!, I am taking my Greeks to the cold waters of Bosphorus, to live the seeds of the Battle of Marathon, when Miltiades leaves his Thracian domains and returns to Athens. Chan-chan-chaaan... :-)

Well, I'll let you know, be well, blessed be!

KALLISTI!

2007-06-21

SOLSTITIVM (ÆSTIVIS AVT HIEMIS)

That is, the Sun Standing in the Summer or Winter.

The longest day is almost upon us (the longest night for those in the Southern Hemisphere of the planet), a magical time of change, a pivotal point in our yearly round trip with our beautiful, magnificent, astonishing, yellow dwarf star, Sol.

Things come and go, and while for some creatures, specially the smaller ones --bacteriae and other microscopic life, including most of our body cells, or many kind of insects, for example--, this Solstice will probably be the only one their lifetimes will allow, an opportunity they will probably not notice the same way as we do; for other creatures, however, Solstices come and go so many times that they simply mark time, in a very special photobiological clock --for example, many types of plants, including bushes, seqoias, etc, also, to a lesser extent, some animals with huge lifespans, specially fish and turtles--; then it's the rest of us (humans, chimpanzees, dogs, cats, elephants, horses,...): for us, years are significant on their own, and every Solstice is a special date...

Last Solstice, in December, my friends had just one daughter, my Daughter-in-Moon, Lena; this Solstice they have another daughter, Maia: that's cualitative change!

From now on (in the Northern hemisphese), days will be shorter and shorter, and as the Sun light covers the fields, crops will flourish and life will go on, until we all get ready for the Winter. Wonderful Cycle of Life.

For me, it's time to spread myself and get ready to gather my forces up, reading, enjoying the weather, more free time, time to read, learn, and grow; time to write (do it, damn me!) and to get ready for what the next Equinox will bring: Nanowrimo.

How's your Solstice going?

Blessed be, kallisti!

PS- I'll get to writing soon, first I'll finish the book about Varus's legions lost to the German Arminius, and I'll post a review of it, and of Haefs's Pilatus's Lover, which I finished the day before yesterday...

PPS- New season, new look; I think this looks fresh, let me know...

2007-06-10

Book Fair of Madrid (take 1,5)

You thought it was over, uh? :-)

Well, somehow, in the middle of the fuss, I forgot to tell you about a book I was gifted from the Fair...

La amante de Pilatos, (Pilatus's Lover, Die Geliebte des Pilatus) by Gisbert Haefs!

I've been after this one for a good while, but I got tired of waiting for the pocket edition: it's time to do some weight pushups... :)

I'll let you know, anyway, as there are many others to attract my attention... But, way cool! :-)

kallisti!

2007-06-09

Book Fair of Madrid (take 3, and 4, and...)

Well, it's almost gone, but I think it's over for me this year.

I went there on Friday and again on Saturday.

It's was a nice bounty (hehe):


  • ¡Devuélveme mis legiones! (Give Me My Legions Back), by Spanish writer José Manuel García Torres, about the Varus's Disaster; it looked interesting, I'll let you know.
  • A nice 1958 pocket edition of Poema del Cid, (Poem of Cid) which is an ancient Spanish and modern Spanish rendition of the 1207 anonymous poem written by Per Abbat: remember this year it's the 7th centenary!
  • Sarajevo, diario de un éxodo, (Sarajevo, diary of an exode) by Dževad Karahasan, about the siege of the city in Bosnia-Herzegovine, and life before, during and after the war over there, it looked to good to miss.
  • Irlanda del Norte, historia de un conflicto, (Northern Ireland, History of a Conflict) by Luis Antonio Sierra, a historical reporter, about the Historical sequence of events that framed the North Ireland conflict up today, and where things can go. I got this one signed by the author, who looked very nice and interested in our studying Irish and our project to create a Celtic culture association... Hehe :-)
  • Mil suspiros, mil rebeliones (A thousand Sighs, a Thousand Rebellions) by Christiane Bird, about the Iraq Kurdistan and its people, the Kurds, before, during and after the War of Iraq, by testimonials and the author's own experience over there. Again, it looked too good to let go (this one was not on the Fair, just on my way, and thus it counts).
  • Conquistadores, emires y califas, (Conquerors, emirs and califas) by Eduardo Manzano Moreno, about the Omeya Dinasty and the formation of Al-Andalus, most of the Iberian territory (including the Balears) since the 711 year (until 1492, although the Omeya lasted until the end of the X Century). The author is a Professor on the CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, one of the oldest Spanish scientific insttutions) and his point of view (war and economic control as keys of social articulation) looked interesting (he tries to critically review the POVs about both christians and muslins of the time), and after reading al-Mayurqy, which I'm about to finish, I got interested in this time period of which we know so little in general in Spain (at least from my own schooling experience!).
  • La cocina del Cid (Cid's cooking), by Miguel Ángel Almodóvar, a book about Cid's routes and his medieval recipes, another really interesting book, which contextualizes History, and the mundane of it, through a delicions plan... ;-) This one is also signed by his author, who seemed a very nice and approachable man, I will certainly try dome of those recipes! Yum!
  • Jamie's Italian (in Spanish), by Jamie Oliver, my last times favourite cooker. This one is a heavy huge book (I can tell!) about, well, you guessed! Italian food. It's also about Italian off-turist culture and peoples, and with Jamie's style, it's gotta be great! :-)
  • La escritura árabe es fácil (Arabian scripting is easy), by Nicolás Weber, a practical scripting book to learn to write using the Arabian alphabet... It's well designed and looks very hands-on, which I liked.
  • Almogávares (Almogavars), by Ricardo de Isabel Martínez, about the Arago-catalonian soldiers that shook the world about the beginning of the XIV Century... I have already read about them, and the book looks easy-going and well documented, I'll let you know... Desperta, ferro!

Briefing, this year's FDL07 Madrid has been really satisfactory, and I have only left a dozen or so books I'd like to have but, well, I cannot have them all, not enough time to read them and to avoid the plot-bunnies, anyway, and it's cheaper this way...

It's raining like it's the end of the world right now, a huge storm over Madrid, it's beautiful, but even the cat has run under the bed, I'm the only silly on the house...

Lastly, I did my Irish exam on Thursday: Ithink it was pretty good enough, but I don't yet know; anyway it was fun to do (specially the talking part, I had to tell a story for some 5 or 6 minutes, and then we had to make a conversation for some other 8 or 10, that was a bit embarrasing at times, but I think we got okay out of it: a little bit of dignity remaining... :-)

And that's enough blogging for a day: I've discharged my backpack of Irish notes and books, and from FDL07 books, and got my trusty Psion 5mx and novel notes back: I dunno if I'll retake The Lybian or Revolt!, but I'll let you know and keep you updated.

ΚΑΛΛΣΤΗ

2007-06-06

Book Fair of Madrid (take 2)

Yup, I was there (again), just for a while, last Friday...

I saw a couple of jewels, like a special edition by the Ministry of Culture of Alphonse X, the Wise's, Cantigas a Santa Maria, poetical work exaltating the Virgin Mary, written in Galician, with wonderful, color plates with partitures and text, accompanied by 2 CDs with the songs; it was really appealling!

The second one is an anniversary edition of the Cantar del Mio Çid, edited by I-forgot-who (I think it was the Spanish Royal Academy), a careful edition and much more approachable in price than the other one I saw...

I got a book this time I was looking forward to, Las lenguas de un reino. Historia Lingüística Hispánica, written by Mª T. Echenique and J. Sánchez, a book about the linguistic evolution of languages on Spain, centered in the ones most currently used in Spain in the last centuries, including Basque, Castilian, Catalan (and family), Galician (and its relationship with Portugese), Bable (as remnants of Astur-Leon language), but also Aranic (from the Kingdom of Aragon) and other less know Romance (and not) languages...

It's proving itself a pretty interesting reading, provided I should be studying for my Irish exam tomorrow (ahh!!!). Well, I am studying, but I should do more, sigh...

This weekend is the closing of the Fair, and my last chance to easily get some other books I'm interested in; I'll let you know if I manage to do it.

Kallisti!

2007-05-30

Book Fair of Madrid (take 1)

Well, it's already here, the 2007 edition of the Book Fair of Madrid...

It's fantastic, 344 book booths, from ministries and other official places editors, editorial booths and many, many bookstores... A huge offer and lots of authors signing in their books, round tables, etc... Really stimulating!

I was there yesterday, but in the two hours I was, I barely managed to see (or should I say 'glance') 1/3 of it... I got some books for my cousin, she's going 14 next month, and one beautifully ilustrated book with tales from all over the globe for my 3 year-old nephew...

I saw lots of really interesting books, including a study of Visigothic tablets and the evolution from Latin to Romance languages all over Hispania (although pretty centered in Castilia), a couple of History books about Persia and Iran, one pretty interesting book about the islamic period in Spain (califates and Taifa kingdoms), some good ones about the History of Africa, some were general while others were a little bit more specific; a book about the Roman army and battles, written by a Spanish writer, a novel about the Varus's Disaster (also by a Spanish writer, I may get this one) and a limited, numbered special edition about the Cantar of Myo Çid celebrating the VII centenary of Per Abbat's manuscript (1207)... Oh, it was awesome! I was drooling all over the booth... ! Facsilime edition, plus a modern version and corresponding study by a modern academic, all in a nice estouche... Ah!!

It's pretty expensive, though (~ €1,200), so I think it's bye-bye for now, and being just 800 exemplars, I don't think I'll be able to get it anymore... Oh, well!

I got a book about a Tuareg's point of view of our modern world, and a couple of language books (Arabic and Italian, for me and my S.O., resp.) hehe...

Once I glance all over the catalogs and references I took, and check the rest of the booths, I'll probably have a really nice bounty for the Summer... hehehe :-)

After reading Curtis's The Sword of Attila (which was pretty good overall, although I will never buy into the 1,000,000 Hunnic army!) I'm now reading Valle's Al-Mayurqy, which is proving really interesting so far!

(Yes, I should be studying for my Irish exam, but I'm doing so as well... I ndáiríre!... After it, I plan on getting back to my books, before I get more plot-vampire-bunnies biting my ankle!)

Anyway, after a quick forth-and-back trip to my homeland, I'll surely have more to tell during the weekend, so stay tuned!

Kallisti!

2007-05-20

BDay

Yep, that's mine... :-)

Let's aim for a new year full of History and writing!

For a starters I got a nice food, picnic-like bag to take my food to the workplace, really nice... :-D

Then I gifted myself some books:
  • Rubicon, by Tom Holland, about the End of the Roman Republic and the Beginning of the Empire, one of my favourite time periods...
  • The Sword of Attila, by Michael Curtis Ford, which looked really promising, and thus I got it...
  • Africanus, el hijo del cónsul, by Santiago Posteguillo, a Spanish writer about P. Cornelius Scipio son, and the Second Punic War... This looked very interesting, and you know I like Hannibal's story so much... OTOH, it will help me to explore Spanish editorial landscape, which is always useful, uh? ;-)
  • A cooking book by Jamie Oliver, one of my favorite cookers: he's great and really fun to watch and easy to follow... I enjoy his cooking programs a great deal, and my S.O. does as well...

Finally, I got a Nintendo Wii and the Zelda game... Way cool, but how the hell do I get a fish for the cute, damn cat?? I've already spent hours and it's getting really boring... :-/

Well, I hope you are having a nice day, I have certainly had one... :-)

KALLISTI!

PS- after a nice, sunny weekend, we are having a huge storm over Madrid, with great electric apparatus, lots of water and a pretty strong wind pushing the trees over the rooftops... Impressive power demonstration by Father Nature!

2007-05-17

Dia das Letras Galegas

Today is a very special day, so please allow me to get a little bit patriotic and endure a bit of multilingualism with braveness and patience... If I get enough requests (or I have some free time) I'll provide an English translation, but the subject is the celebration of Galician culture and language, May 17th is our Day! Thanks!

Hoxe é o Dia das Letras Galegas. Os galegos de todo o mundo celebramos o aniversário da publicación do libro Cantares gallegos da gran autora Rosalia de Castro, en 1863, como cúmio do Rexurdimento da cultura e a língua galegas.

É para poñer-se a pensar, non? Unha língua falada na remota Gallaecia, no fin do mundo (un dos moitos Finis terrae ficou en Fisterra, na galega Costa da Morte), por apenas poucos millóns de persoas, asoballada durante séculos como un triste dialecto pobre do castelán, cando, en realidade, incluso o mais célebre escritor castelán antigo, o rei Afonso X o Sábio (autor ao que se lle adicou o Dia das Letras Galegas en 1980), escrevera en galego as suas Cantigas a Santa Maria: a língua do Camiño de Santiago era a língua dos homes cultos e sofisticados; que ironia!

Tras séculos de persecución, polos de fora, mas tamén polos de dentro, dende os Reis Católicos até o golpista, dictador, galego Francisco Franco Bahamonde, o galego rexurdiu como a revindicación dun pobo pobre mas traballador, loitador, mariñeiro e poético. E tras moitas aventuras chegamos ao punto en que o galego vive, e vive moito, e esperemos que por moito tempo.

Primo pobre do catalán, esquinada língua romance que todos esquecen, falando do dialecto maior, o portugués, produto direito da interacción entre lusitanos, mozárabes e galegos "reconquistando" a Hispania, Portugal --e a sua língua-- naceron como unha província galega, logo como reino independente tras separacións e herdanzas... Mentres os portuguese se espallaron polo mundo con galeóns, pólvora e comércio, os galegos o fixemos con emigrantes, fame e soidades (ou 'morriña', que é mais familiar)... Se o portugués, fermoso, musical, tan familiar (home, logo!), se fala en Brasil, Mozambique e tantos outros sítios, o galego se fala en Santiago de Cuba, na Habana, en Buenos Aires, en Xinebra...

Este momento no que os fillos da democrácia estamos, falamos, lemos, escrebemos, ouvimos, vivimos galego, en galego, incluso fora da terra, é o noso momento: nosa é a tarefa de levar a língua aos nosos fillos, de que non somentes viva, mas que sobreviva, que contribua coa sua particular riqueza à História Universal, à Literatura Universal, como fixera, como fai... Eu usarei as miñas armas, a pluma, a mente e o corazón; e as miñas modestas forzas e enxénio para facé-lo.

Animo, dende aqui, aos xóvenes e vellos, que se unan no esforzo: ningunha língua, por pequena que sexa, merece desaparecer sen loitar, sen pegar un berro de indignación pola indiferéncia dos poderes económicos dos fortes, que impón as suas línguas ou deixan que sexan impostas polo Poderoso Cabaleiro...

En fin, viva a língua, viva a cultura, e vivan as xentes galegas: tontos como somos, perduraremos por honrados e auténticos...

A modo de despedida, deixo-vos a letra do himno de Galícia (en galego a Galiza, en portugués a Galiça, mas na pobre língua asoballada nosa, a Galícia, asi como o "galego" é un préstamo lingüístico do portugués, e nós lle decimos "gallego"). Queixumes dos pinos foi publicado o 22 de maio de 1890, como colaboración entre Pombal e o maestro Pascual Veiga, que pós a música.

Este é o texto orixinal, extraido da Wikipedia en galego, e tamén en castelán (irónico, eh? Claro que considerando que o galego tamén é español, quizáis non tanto...), hoxe en dia é un pouco diferente, mas o senso é o mesmo. O himno oficial é a primeira metade do poema.

É difícil expresar só con palabras a profundidade coa que este poema toca o meu ser, asi que non direi mais.


Queixumes dos pinos
Eduardo Pombal e Pascual Veiga, 1860

Que din os rumorosos
Na costa verdecente,
Ó rayo trasparente,
Do prácido luar...?
Que din as altas copas
D'escuro arume arpado,
Co seu ben compasado,
Monótono fungar...?

Do teu verdor cingido,
É de benígnos astros,
Confin dos verdes castros,
E valeroso clán,
Non dés a esquecemento,
Da injuria o rudo encono;
Despérta do teu sono,
Fogar de Breogán.

Os boos e generosos,
A nosa voz entenden;
E con arroubo atenden,
O noso rouco son;
Mas, sós os ignorantes,
E férridos e duros,
Imbéciles e escuros
No-nos entenden, non.

Os tempos son chegados,
Dos bardos das edades,
Q'as vosas vaguedades,
Cumprido fin terán;
Pois donde quer gigante,
A nosa voz pregóa,
A redenzón da bóa
Nazón de Breogán.


KALLISTI!

2007-05-15

When History Meets Paper

Well, I warned you, and, finally, I did it!

Today, bank holiday in Madrid (also a catholic festivity to St. Isidro, the town's saint), I went to the Old and Sale Book Fair in Madrid, last day!

There were 46 shops in a beautiful, sunny avenue, a classical Paseo de Recoletos, with trees and, right when it starts, the spectacular statue to the Cybeles Goddess, one of my favourites!

Some locals were dressed in the typical chulapo fashion (couldn't find any quality pictures, you better search them yourself) and quite a bit of people were pekking for books here and there; not as many as I would have feared, many peple probably left for the long weekend (they did ' bridge', as we say here).

The less the better, anyway... :-)

Well, it was nice. I usually get a bit nervous, because I cannot even scan over 1/10 of the books, and I usually have to leave behind a good number of interesting titles... This year, however, I was lightheaded, nothing in my sight, no goals, no expectations...

Therefore, uini, uidi, uici... :-)

I got a 1966 edition of an anthology of writings by Alphonse X of Castilia, a.k.a. "the Wise", including his songs to the virgin Mary (Cantigas a Santa Maria) and some others which were written in my native language (one of them, anyway, galician; or the medieval galician-portuguese variation if you want to be a bit anal retentive :-P ) and then some texts including part of his General History... Pretty interesting, in ancient Galician and Spanish, very cool, indeed... :-)

The other one I got is a Historical Foction novel written by Juan José Valle, Al-Mayurqy (the Mallorcan, which is the isle of Mallorca, in the Mediterranean), which is a book about Yahya ben Ganya al-Mayurqy, who was (as described in the book cover, not that I knew!) a hero who faced a similar adventure to Hannibal Barca's in the Almohave Empire (it starts in 1184, but you never know...) Apparently a cool Spanish character not widely known because he was a muslim. I thought it sounded cool enough to deserve a chance. The author is a Spanish Navy Colonel (which would be a Navy O-6 in the NATO ranking) and a specialist in the muslim world of the X, XI and XII Centuries.

They both look promising, uh? :-)

Finally I got a house of minibooks about farm animals for my little daughter-in-moon, just because...

So, do you have any book fair in May to celebrate this beautiful Northern Hemisphere Bealtaine-tide? Any comments on my selection of books?

Kallisti!

2007-05-07

When You Are Ill, You Play

Yup,

I've been most of the weekend home-bound, with a stupid cold/cough that won't let me go, and feeling pretty miserable.

It was a good time, thus, to rescue my favourite games and install them in my less-than-brand-new laptop and play in the sitting room, while cudling my cat and watching some movies.

Thus, I rescued from oblivion Praetorians, Chariots of War, Gates of Troy, Centurio, and Rome:Total War (not in that particular order, actually, but, well... Also, I feel bad enough to ask you to search their webpages yourself, sorry)

Let's go in that particular order (which is memory, not preference):

  • Praetorians is a RTS game where you are one of Iulius Caesar's legati (generals), through several missions, during the War of Gaul and the Civil War. You also play a legatus of Crassus in his particular catastrophic Eastern campaign. Things I like about this game is the feeling of being there you sometimes get, plus action, when happening, is really thrilling, specially the siege missions (both the ones where you gotta take a fortress or where you gotta defend your camp). The battle system is comfortable (similar to Warcraft, but you don't get resources, instead you occupy towns, and people is there slowly growing over time, which simplifies things), but not quite realistic, particularly because troops don't run away (most of your units will stick fighting to the death, which is particularly frustrating, specially with cavalry, because you know they could get away easily... grrr). The units aren't particularly realistic, and cohortes are of 30 units, while alae are of 12, where you will need a fairly big scenario to complete a 10 cohortes legion, so you don't really have great battles, but brief combats... It's cool, anyway, and artillery rocks ;) I didn't really played a lot to this one this time, because I had the others, and it requires a fairly constant attention, which my brain wasn't ready to provide...

  • Chariots of War, one of my favourites, indeed, simple yet thrilling. It's a turn-based strategy game, which is easier to follow when your brain's gone jelly; I started a Complete Campaign as the Kushites, and so far I am virtually master of all the South Nile: problem is I gotta get out of there by fighting Egyptians and other tribes, and resources are scarce once you venture far from the river... It's actually harder when you start on a corner, because no matter what you do, all your neighbours end up hating you, hehe...

  • Gates of Troy it's the continuation (actually a patch, enhanced version of Sparta) of CoW, and it's so much better in many things: you get ships and navy battles, better diplomacy and trade, and finer control over units, plus fighting grounds are huge in comparison: still, it's pretty Greek-centric to me, when I like to play as so many Asian cultures, sigh. I played one of the big campaigns with the Romans, who start from Illiricum/Epirum, and actually managed to win, with lots of cheers and whistles... Next time I'll get the opposite corner and play the Persians... ;-)

  • Centurio is an old DOS game where you start in Italy and gotta get the whole Roman Empire, provice by province... It's kinda fun, specially because battles are based on morale, and you generally have little control over it, beyond the local neighborhood of the general, who has charisma and voice; it's descriptions are a bit silly, and it's diplomatic system is, well, silly, but it's fun, and if anyone knows how to finish a chariot race, please tell me!

  • Rome: Total War, well, I have Shogun: Total Wars and it's Mongol expansion (I have lost the first CD, grrr...) and I liked it quite a bit, specially some Mongol cavalry missions... Could be better, but it's okay. R:TW, however, is nonexistant: I have yet you find a computer that has enough graphical support for it: I would sacrifice some graphics and play the rest of the game, I don't need the uber-super-trooper graphics, damn!


Well, also managed to read a bit, and study even less... My brain is still, basically jelly, and I feel like... you better don't know...

Anyway, what about you? Do you have any opinions on those games, do you have any srtategy games of your own into your favourites? I'd love to get one of these to let me script it somwone to simulate some battles, it would make writing The Lybian and Revolt! so much easier and fun! hehe...

Lastly, also watched some Jamie Oliver programs over the TV, (you have his webpage in www.jamieoliver.com), he's absolutely brilliant, and a delight to watch: direct, simple, effective, and fun to watch and learn! You'd really like to taste my Caesar's Salad now that I know how to do them (yum!)... Completely superb.

Well, that's all, happy Summer (Bealtaine and that, Samhain for those in the South, hello over there!) and take care...

KALLISTI!

2007-04-24

International Day of the Book

So, how was yours?

Mine was a bit of a rush, but nice, overall: after Irish class, we walked down to the town center, where the main bookstores were open until midnight, and music concerts and bands were playing, among many other cultural acts related to books.

We got some books and comic-books: Green Lantern Corps: Recharged (how can't you love a superheroes comic-book where you have all the variety of species as you could get races in the Persian Empire? And where the power is your imagination? You can't, obviously :-), books 1 and 2 of the Spanish edition of Full Metal Alchemist manga (really cool), the first instance of Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle, and La vieja sirena ("The Old Syren") by Spanish writer and Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) of the Language member José Luis Sampedro, an author I am starting to really like not just for his writing, but also for his thinking... We also got a couple of books about the real life of the author's cats, which are written in a very interesting point of view: the cats'.

I'm waiting a bit for the 'bigger' book safari, anyway, when the Old and Used Book Fair opens shortly, hehehe...

Last weekend, also, was interesting because we were in Cuenca, a beautiful town in Don Quixote's famous La Mancha, declared Humankind Patrimony by the UNESCO, with gorgeous landscape, wonderful gastronomy and really tight slopes! I went to the Archaeological Museum, of course, and got lots of pictures, including many remains found in nearby Segobriga, which was a very important town in Roman times, as intermediate point between Complutum (nowadays Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid; which articulated the trade from NW Hispania, specially gold and silver mines; and trade from Caesar Augusta) and Carthago Nova, with its harbors. I couldn't go there (shame!) but it has a wonderful amphitheater, and an almost "complete" circus, and a pretty decent forum, with lots of statues, and so... Really cool! Remnants of the old Almozarab castle (Alcazar), and old medieval town wall that's intimately mixed with the "modern" houses...

We got great weather, and a great time, indeed! We'll be back, yup!

So, how was yours?

KALLISTI!

ADDENDUM (the next day): OK, some afterthoughts, actually... I'll try to edit and post some of the pictures I got, not just from Cuenca but also from those other wonderful places, full with archaeological treasures, I have visited, it may be a monographical pictorial edition of de praeterito tempore... Just let me some time to organize it all, and then to get some bandwidth for uploading them...

And regarding La vieja sirena, the book's about an unusually beautiful and mysterious woman (hence the syren), in the Egypt of the III Century CE, and about her really hard life through the Roman and Persian Empires and how she interacts with, sometimes, unique individuals. . . Well, I'm in page 117 of 711, actually, so you can imagine I can't really say a lot about it... What I can say is that the author has taken special care in exposing the inner world of the main characters, specially the starring, of course, a woman of any names (basically, every time she's sold or kidnapped she gets a new one) and no definite identity; this shows even through the writing, sometimes even the punctuation reflects this inner world, with sentences riding on each other like thoughts in a shaken mind . . . It's not, however, confusing, but after a page, you get the twist of it and becomes natural and it's like a dimension slip, it fits.

The writer is a really good one, and it's shown in his mastery of the language, almost poetical in some fragments (the inner space ones): clear and direct, but effective and complex without becoming pedantic (as a counter-example, the writer of Tartessos, which I've mentioned before, writes in a somewhat pedantic way, he uses a very cult language, but it gets a bit really heavy sometimes, it makes reading it really tiring, and I'm used to old spanish and know quite a handful of anachronistic words myself!) and he's done his research homework so far with good marks: he even manages not to overwhelm the reader (which I have yet to master!) and that's, definitely, a sign of a master.

If you can find it translated to your language, keep an eye on this blog, because I'll probably recommend it to you very soon!

re-KALLISTI

2007-04-17

Updating...

Long time no see, yes, my fault.

Life's got some kicking, I won't moan, though, but... :-P

I've been re-reading my current WIP, Revolt!, to get the twist of it, and I must say I've really enjoyed my description of the battle of Lade! (even if it may be wrong that I say so myself, but what the...) I'll have to review it, of course, but it's got rythm, it's got intensity, the personal twist I learned from writers such as Oden, Durham, and others (where I naturally tend to the aerial, omniview kind of battle description, too much Chariots of War, I guess, hehe). One question, though: I depict some classical trierei maneuvers, like the periplous (etc) and reading in other places (actually a translation of Herodotos's Histories I got in dead tree the otehr day), I got the notion that those maneuvers might not be used at the time of the ionian rebellion... Opinions? I think those could be perfectly used, even if the high numbers of epibatai in some ships may point to a more conventional assault-on-the-waters kind of warfaring...

Second, I saw a book just published in Spanish, written by Michael Ford Curtis, which'd translate back to English as The Sword of Attila, and reading from the back cover, it looks like it can be pretty interesting (not like the one I saw that looked like a love story between Attila and Honorius's sister, argh). Any recommendations? (it's hardcover and about thrice as expensive as it will be on pocket edition...)

I'll try to update a little bit more frequently, and participate on your blogs, I have an ontry on Gabrielle's pending...

KALLISTI!

2007-03-21

QVOD NATURA NON DAT SALMANTICA NON PRAESTAT

I.e. 'what character doesn't give, Salamanca (i.e. culture or study) won't provide'.

This is the motto of the town I've been at this last weekend, the old Salmantica (nowadays Salamanca), the oldest University in Spain (founded in 1218) and one of the oldest Universities around...

It's a very nice motto in a really beautiful stone city. Character can't be learned, and attitudes come from our fabric, not from our learning process (now we could discuss if the socialization process is a part of our fabric as a social animal or not, but we won't do so at the moment, uh?).

It was a very nice weekend, we celebrated lots of things in a single row: coming of Springtime (and Ostara), the officiality of Irish in the European Union, and St. Patrick's Day, the national day of Éire (with green t-shirts that had a huge patch with a seamrog and the sentences, in a very nice gaelic font faces "Tá Gaeilge Agam... Agus Tusa?", and "Lá 'le Pádraig" which roughly say in Irish: "I can speak Irish, and you?", and "The Day of Patrick's Festivity")...

I got a couple tons of pictures, I'll post some when I have them sorted and scaled, but there are tons around on the web, anyway... I also got a couple of books, in one of the many book stores of this Universitarian city:
  • one is a historical fiction novel written by Spanish writer Jesús Maeso de la Torre, Tartessos, which is about, um, well, the end of the Tartessos civilization (it was a very successful civilization sited in the south of the Iberia, around the Columns of Herakles and the Tyrian town Gadir, and it was swamped by Carthage in (or around) the VI BCE Century after Tyre started to lose strength in controlling its Lybian colony.)
  • Hic sunt Trivium, Quadrivium et novum Sexivium, a small book written in "latinam linguam macharronice", published by the Spanish University of University of Caesar Augusta (i.e. Zaragoza). It's a very nice book I found in a kind of rummage sale, flea marcket organized by the Hound Defense Association in Salamanca; they were getting some funds for their cause, and I felt happy to help them and get this very nice book in exchange... I hope they get their goals, it's a real shame what hunters do to their hounds when they don't require them anymore...


Great weather (freezy nights, but at least it was sunny days: yesterday it was snowing at sunset in Madrid!), great feeling (I usually get this when I'm in a primarily University-Town, you know it's like youth, culture and easy-goingness are harmoniouly coordinated in those towns...), the people was very nice, food excellent, the views great... I will certainly remember the visit!

Now, you've been travelling a bit around, alright, what more have you been doing, dear Excalibor? Well, I've been studying, Japanese to be more precise (well, a small pet peeve of mine since my tender youth, and I have recently got tired of reading subtitles while watching Bleach, which I certainly recommend if you have never read/watched it!). I've also been reading about the History of Turkey, about the Mongols and Chingis Khan, and my Irish classes are going well... Oh, yeah, my novel(s)?

Um...

I've re-read what I've written of Alaric: horrible writing, but very nice story so far (short, OK, but kind of nice anyway). I'm still feeling tempted by it... But the star of the moment is Revolt!, and about it... I will definitely leave the Persian wedding for a later time! It's horrible! I can't work out a believable dialogue between the bridegroom-wannabe and the father...

Thus I'll skip it and get down to the recuperation of the Ionian towns and nearby islands, the failed Thracian expedition of Mardonios's and the Second Expedition that will lead us to Marathon and the end of the first draft (pending some Yaunâ part and the damned wedding...)

I'll try to get to it ASAP, but studying and life in general gets in the middle, grrr...

Anyway, I'll let you know!

KALLISTI!

PS- happy Spring and happy Autumn! (depending on which hemisphere you are actually living!)

2007-03-02

GALLIA·EST·OMNES·DIVISA·IN·PARTES·TRES

No, I'm not reading C. Iulius Caesar's De bello gallico, but Rex Warner's Imperial Caesar.

It's pretty interesting! Gaius Iulius has always been one of those historical personalities that irremediably attracts me and, at the same time, I absolutely repel. I am, after all, and despite my efforts to stay socioculturally and anthropologically neutral whe studying History, a product of my times.

When I think of the great heroes of the past, specially the military/political ones (not the only ones I hold dear in my heart, but we are talking about the greatest of them in impact, and let's face it, money makes the world go 'round), I find a mix of fascination and abomination that I find particularly confusing, but irresistible: Kūruš (Cyrus the Great), Dārayawauš (Darius I the Great), Bagābuxša (Prince Megabyzos), Perikles, Aléxandros (III of Makedonia, the Great), Hannibal (Barca of Carthage), Pyrros (of Epirus), C. Marius, L. Cornelius Sulla, Cn. Pompeius Magnus, C. Iulius Caesar, M. Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, Fl. Claudius Iulianus, Alaricus, Attila, Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi (Saladin), Chinggis Khan... All of them share an equal amount of brilliance and countless deaths.

When a modern author (or researcher) dives into such a personality (who was, invariable, a product of his time) I have found that they can fail absolutely, of make a wonderful job, in understanding the personality of the individual in his own time and circumstances. I found that in Gisbert Haefs' Hannibal, or Alexander books, in Gore Vidal's Julian, and I think I'm finding it in this book as well: a deeper connection between the superficiality of brilliance in battles and political maneuvers, and the personal circumstances that pushed them into a direction or another: even the biggest are helpless against the winds of Fate, and we assist to their triumphs and (almost invariably) ultimate demise with anticipation and--at least me--awe.

What do I think of C. Iulius Caesar? Well, I've read his most important books, and some of them with some intensity in parts (including the original latin), and I have read his life several times: the world is as it is today because of his. If we are forced to pick a few men and women that became capital, pivotal points in History, he would be one of the most important points (it's actually a very difficult question, because it's hard to separate cause from effect and new effects as they become causes, but I think we can all agree that, for one reason or another, C. Iulius Caesar was a pivotal point in ancient times, the same way Attila and Chingis Khan were in the middle age, or Napoleon in modern times...). At the same time he was the by-product of a long series of events that we can, ultimately, trace back to pre-History. Some things I can clearly and openly admire; others, however, make my heart feel crushed: I live different times (probably the cruelest, bloodiest times in all History so far)... But I think I can sort-of become a Roman (or a Gaul, or a...) of the Late Republic and like or dislike some things, but also understand him. And I think I'm gonna enjoy the book.

I'll let you know... :-)

KALLISTI!

2007-02-26

Meme time!

(what a stupid use of such a deep concept, but it's kinda standard, anyway...)

So, what's been of me? Not much, sadly, lots of reading (wonderful reading) but not much writing... Gotta take the thing by the horns, as they say, but I'm too emotionally tired as of late to get my hands on the keyboard... I will probably skip an entire chapter on the novel and simply keep pushing, the missing parts will come later...

I'll let you know when I'm back again...

In the mean time, Scott Oden made this thing (but was so kind of tagging no one), and Gabrielle did it as well, but she was not so kind. However, she didn't tag me, and so I'm doing it (convoluted? Hehe, ever watched House? I'm dead simple... :-P )

Hope you enjoy it, I will try to enjoy it (at least I'll try not to scream and cry in my misery and, ... ahem... I will stop. Now.)

Straight Historical, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Historical Romance, or Time Travel?
Straight, undoubtedly (ironical, uh?) I enjoy the occasional Mistery or Fantasy if it's well constructed, but I get tired of them pretty soon, even if I'm the writer...

Historical Figures as Main Characters or Purely Fictional Characters in Historical Settings as Main Characters?
I don't mind... Sometimes I really enjoy the real ones, but others I feel them encased, contrived, and prefer the freedom of a fictional PC... In my historical settings, anyway, most of the guys are hypothetical (specially if your only source is Ktesias!) and I'm sure most of my favourite authors are in the same ship...

Hardback, Trade Paperback, or Mass Market Paperback?
Any, although the lighter the better, I commute with my whole writing office with me, enough weight with my own stuff!

Philippa Gregory or Margaret George?
Uh?

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?
Amazon, because Spanish libraries suck... Really.

Bernard Cornwell or Sharon Penman?
Uh?

(Not repeated, it's a different kind of 'uh?' but I got off font faces... Cornwell promises, but after reading Patrick O'Brian, it will be some five-years before I probably read him... no offense intended... as for Penman... mmm... uh?)

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Mmmm... Neither, but I think I would enjoy Borders if I could go to one... Been in B&N in Sheffield, UK, some 10 years ago, it was okay...

First Historical Novel You Ever Remember Reading?
Not really sure, actually... Probably The Three Musketeers, by Alexander Dumas, but who can remember these things (besides Gabrielle, I mean)?

Alphabetize by Author, Alphabetize by Title, or Random?
First time, by author and subject/historical period (title is irrelevant, I order by size, so the bigger ones are in the bottom of the stack, or in the sides of the shelf), then Entropy takes its reign... I guess the right answer, time averaged, would be "organically evolved"...

Keep, Throw Away, or Sell?
Keep, keep, and keep... If I lend you a book, you can wear a badge showing your proud to the world...

Jean Plaidy or Norah Lofts?
Uh? (third kind of "uh?", yeah... lots of blissful ignorance in here, but I reject most books by time period or guts, that's why I gotta write them, nobody else does!)

Read with Dust Jacket or Remove It?
Either, even without covers and even without pages (at least until my Palm battery died horribly last year...) If they come with 'em (dust covers, I mean), I don't usually tear 'em off (but they are usually left in a very pityful state)...

Stop Reading When Tired or at Chapter Breaks?
Stop reading when I am forced (i.e. whe the train stops and I gotta get off, for example). Good contextual memory here... :-)

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
It's still a dark and stormy night, in which hemisphere do you actually live?

Buy or Borrow?
Buy or not read at all... Who has time to visit the Public Library? Lucky you!

Buying Choice: Book Reviews, Recommendations, or Browsing?
Browsing, Guts, and some (very few) recommendations... Remember, I'm the one writing the books I want to read and nobody actually writes for me!

Dorothy Dunnett or Anya Seton?
Uh?

(repetitive, I know... Let's sort this out once and for all: Patrick O'Brian, Gisbert Haefs are my heroes... Stephen Pressfield is very enjoyable, same with David A. Durkheim (at least his "Hannibal" was), and a certain Scott Oden's never failed my hopes, let's see with his Simba of el-Qahira (sorry, couldn't help it... hehe ;-)

I forgot a closing parens, here it is ----> )

Tidy Ending or Cliffhanger?
If I didn't love Stanislaw Lem... This is History, it's never tidy, not ended... But tiying some knots for the reader is nice, after all...

Sticking Close to Known Historical Fact, or Using Historical Fact as Wallpaper?
As close as sources, time, knowledge and hurry allow: you can't get swamped in research, you want to read the damned novel, after all! (this is, you have been forced to write it, at least finish one off, damn me!)

Morning Reading, Afternoon Reading or Nighttime Reading?
Commute time, mostly... W.C. is my second reading place, and the most intimate one, as you can imagine...

Series or Standalone?
I don't mind some series (just a few, and not too close between them), but I guess I prefer standalones... However some series are too good to resist (O'Brian, for example)

Favorite Book of Which Nobody Else Has Heard?
Revolt! Hehe, OK, I was joking... None at the moment, but let me think harder, I'll let you know...

And, for the Grand Finale, I tag everybody: I tag googlebot, Pierre, Queen Megumi, my little brother, Gisbert Haefs (I know you must be reading!), Gabrielle and Scott (again, hehe), and basically all of my 7 readers... Feel free to reply in here if you lack your own blog (liar... tsk, tsk, tsk...) or if you'd prefer it to be kept off my pawns... which sounds like a pretty intelligent thing to do, anyway...

KALLISTI!