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winter 2013-14 075

Someone was told that they were a “force of nature” and they wondered if that was a compliment or not.  Good question.  It could be meant kindly, I believe, but then…maybe not.

I am sure we have all met at least one person whom we could categorize that way and maybe we loved them for it and stood back in awe watching them work, or maybe we got steamrolled which would affect our thinking about this theme.

There is also the literal meaning for characters in some fantasy stories.

I have been reading a fantasy series by Jane Lindskold.  I am reading the third book, now, and I have the rest of the series at hand. Wiki says her mentor was Roger Zelazny, a favorite writer of mine.  The main character of the series is Firekeeper who fits my idea of a force of nature.  

The Firekeeper Saga

Through Wolf's Eyes (2001)
Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart (2002)
The Dragon of Despair (2003)
Wolf Captured (2004)
Wolf Hunting (2006)
Wolf's Blood (2007)

Firekeeper was rescued and nurtured by wolves as a young child.  Others helped her survive, but we don’t know who they were, yet.  An exploration team who came to find out what happened to the lost settlers takes her home with them as the possible heiress of the Hawk Haven Kingdom.  A Duke adopts her and a young man, Darien Carter, is assigned the job of teaching her how to speak and behave.  She brings with her a huge wolf, Blind Seer, and a peregrine falcon, Elation, who can speak to her and she to them.  

Firekeeper is a force of nature in the literal sense.  She wishes to remain part of her pack.  Watching her grow and learn, and face the dilemma involved in being human and yet staying true to her pack is interesting.  She is fierce and refreshingly outspoken.  Her ability to see in the night and climb walls is useful for her friends.  Of course, those who know her and those opponents who fear her have differing views of her talents.  I am enjoying spending time with this character and her friends.

A short story that I love with two forces of nature:

A Pride of Seven by Robert W. Krepps

PDF file...I put the size to 13 at the top and then you have to look at the top by the zoom button to click to the next two pages.

Other characters that I think are forces of nature are:

Gandalf from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.  He and his horse Shadowfax, both.

Wiki says:

Shadowfax ("Sceadufæx" in Rohirric) was the Lord of all horses. He was a descendant of Felaróf, of the race of the Mearas, the greatest horses of Middle-earth. Shadowfax was capable of comprehending human speech and was said to run faster than the wind. Originally belonging to the House of Eorl, Lord of Rohan, Shadowfax was too wild to be tamed by the Rohirrim. Eventually he was given to Gandalf the White by Théoden, the then-king of Rohan.

Shadowfax's coat is described as silvery-grey in daylight and hardly to be seen at night.

Gandalf the Grey first rode Shadowfax during the events preceding the Council of Elrond, after his escape from being imprisoned at Orthanc. When asked by a suspicious Théoden to take any horse and be gone, Gandalf chose Shadowfax (much to the King's displeasure), tamed him, and used the great steed's speed to cross the vast wilderness between Rohan and the Shire in only six days…

Puck from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Wiki says:

Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow, is a character in William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream that was based on the ancient figure in English mythology, also called Puck.

Puck is a clever, mischievous elf or sprite that personifies the trickster or the wise knave. In the play, Shakespeare introduces Puck as the "shrewd and knavish sprite" and "that merry wanderer of the night" in some scenes it would seem that he is longing for freedom and he is also a jester to Oberon, the fairy king…

Puck is then instructed by Oberon to use the love juice to fix the love entanglement occurring between the Athenian lovers who also happen to be running about in the forest. He mistakenly administers the charm to the sleeping Lysander instead of Demetrius. Puck provides Nick Bottom with a donkey's head so that Titania will fall in love with a beast and forget her attachment to the Changeling Boy, allowing Oberon to take the child from her. (Oberon does so successfully.) Later, Puck is ordered by Oberon to fix the mistake he (Puck) made, by producing a dark fog, leading the lovers astray within it by imitating their voices, and then applying the flower to Lysander's eyes, which will cause him to fall back in love with Hermia. The four lovers are then made to believe that they were dreaming what took place in the forest.

At the end of the play (Act 5 Scene 1) Puck delivers a speech in which he addresses the audience directly, apologizing for anything that might have offended them and suggesting that they pretend it was a dream:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Robin Hood and his Merry Band, especially Little John.

Little John appears in the earliest recorded Robin Hood ballads and stories, and in the earliest chronicle references to Robin Hood, by Andrew of Wyntoun in about 1420 and by Walter Bower in about 1440, neither of which refer to any other of the Merry Men.  In the early tales, Little John is shown to be intelligent and highly capable. In A Gest of Robyn Hode, he captures the sorrowful knight and, when Robin Hood decides to pay the knight's mortgage for him, accompanies him as a servant.

In Robin Hood's Death, he is the only one of the Merry Men that Robin takes with him. In the 15th-century ballad commonly called "Robin Hood and the Monk", Little John leaves in anger after a dispute with Robin. When Robin Hood is captured, it is Little John who plans his leader's rescue. In thanks, Robin offers Little John leadership of the band, but John refuses…

The earliest ballads do not feature an origin story for this character; but according to a 17th-century ballad, he was a giant of a man (at least seven feet tall), and introduced when he tried to prevent Robin from crossing a narrow bridge, whereupon they fought with quarterstaves, and Robin was overcome. Despite having won the duel, John agreed to join his band and fight alongside him. He was then called Little John, in whimsical reference to his size and in a play that reversed his first and last names (as his proper name was John Little).

Nathan Fillion in both the Firefly and Castle TV films.  I truly wonder if he is not like this in real life.  Is he acting or?  (I mean this label in a respectful way, honest).

In 2002, Fillion starred as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in the Joss Whedon science fiction television series Firefly, for which he won the Cinescape Genre Face of the Future – Male award by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA. Fillion also won the Syfy Genre Awards in 2006 for Best Actor/Television and was runner-up for Best Actor/Movie. Fillion called his time on Firefly the best acting job he ever had, and compares every job he has had to it.

Malcolm's main mission is to keep his crew alive and to keep his ship flying. As Firefly writer Tim Minear stated in an interview: "It's just about getting by. That's always been the mission statement of what the show is — getting by." In Serenity, Mal says of himself: "[If the] Wind blows Northerly, I go North."

Fillion shares his view on the motivations of the character he portrayed. Mal has lost so much that each character in the crew he has gathered on Serenity represents an aspect of himself he no longer has. "In Wash, he has a lust for life and a sense of humor he's lost. In Jayne, he has selfishness. In Book, he has spirituality. In Kaylee, he has innocence. Everybody represents a facet of himself that he has lost and that's why he keeps them close and safe, and yet at arm's length."

Mal generally retains a close relationship with his entire crew, regardless of how much he might try to distance them from him or argue with them; when Simon Tam once asked Mal why he came back to save him from being burned alive by angry villagers, he simply replied, "You're on my crew." When pressed again, with Simon citing the ease with which they could have simply been abandoned and the problems caused by their presence, Mal reiterated, "You're on my crew. Why are we still talking about this?" Mal expressed a similar sentiment when he confronted Jayne over his betrayal of Simon and River, saying "You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me!"

… In Fillion's new series Castle where Fillion plays crime writer Richard Castle, there are numerous fan Easter Eggs and references to Firefly and Malcolm Reynolds hidden around Richard Castle's office. In the second season Halloween episode, Castle dressed in full Mal Reynolds garb as a costume; in a further metafictional reference, Alexis Castle - the daughter of Fillion's character - comments that he wore the outfit five years ago (The real-world time that had elapsed between the release of "Serenity" and this episode airing).

Also, when he and Beckett visit a warehouse with Mandarin Chinese-speaking workers, Castle speaks clear and correct Mandarin Chinese (with a little foreign accent) to the workers, telling them his partner was crazy and would start shooting, prompting them to quickly reveal the location of a Chinese spy and run away. When Beckett asks him how he knows Chinese, he responds "TV show I used to love", referencing Firefly, other hints and allusions include him shooting a gun out of a thugs hand, upon being complimented for his marksmanship he comments "I was aiming for his head" mirroring a line Jayne Cobb had said in Firefly.

In the episode Setup, Richard Castle's mother was going to a spa named the Oasis of Serenity, he asked what this was and his mother replied "Haven't you heard of the Serenity?". In episode 4 season 2 of Castle, Fillion is seen wearing two blue gloves and miming "two" by "two", a reference to the actions and gloves of the Blue Sun Corporation.

Castle follows Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, a famous mystery novelist who has killed off the main character in his book series and has writer's block. He is brought in by the NYPD for questioning regarding a copy-cat murder based on one of his novels. He is intrigued by this new window into crime and murder, and uses his connection with the Mayor to charm his way into shadowing Detective Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic.

Hagrid and his animals in Rowling’s Harry Potter.

I love Hagrid the best of all the characters in the story.  He is so rugged and loves and cares for such interesting animals like Buckbeak and Norbert, the dragon that hatches in his house from an egg.

The character of Hagrid and conversations between him, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in his hut are expository through the series, due to the fact that the trio frequently discover things about Albus Dumbledore and Hogwarts by talking with Hagrid, as he has a habit of letting slip bits of information...

Rowling has stated in an interview that Hagrid was in Gryffindor house during his time as a student. When he comes into possession of an acromantula, he is expelled from Hogwarts as his pet is supposed to be the "monster of Slytherin". However, persuaded by Dumbledore (who at the time was Transfiguration teacher), Headmaster Armando Dippet agrees to train Hagrid as gamekeeper, allowing the boy to remain at Hogwarts. By the time Harry attends Hogwarts, Hagrid is also the Keeper of Keys and Grounds: the former, according to Rowling, means "that he will let you in and out of Hogwarts." Part of his job includes leading the first years across the lake in boats, upon their initial arrival at Hogwarts…

Buckbeak, along with eleven other hippogriffs, is introduced during one of Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures classes. Hagrid explains that hippogriffs are very calm, powerful, proud creatures, but are sensitive and demand respect. Harry successfully approaches Buckbeak, who allows him to ride him around the paddock…

Fang is a large boarhound (portrayed in the films by a Neapolitan Mastiff) that, aside from his enormous size, appears to be an entirely ordinary dog. While Fang's appearance is intimidating, he is, in Hagrid's words, "a bloody coward." Boisterous and loving with people he knows, he seems to enjoy licking Harry, Ron, or Hermione around the face or ears…

Fluffy is a giant three-headed dog provided by Hagrid to guard the trapdoor leading to the underground chamber where the Philosopher’s Stone was hidden until the end of Philosopher’s Stone. The only known way to get past Fluffy is to lull him to sleep by playing music. Fluffy is based on Cerberus, the three-headed dog from Greek Mythology that guards the gates to the underworld. As with Fluffy, Cerberus was lulled to sleep with music by Orpheus…

Norberta, previously named Norbert, is a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon that Hagrid had acquired as an egg from a mysterious, hooded stranger in the Hog's Head…

Of characters who really lived, I believe that Henry II of England was a force of nature as was his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and William Marshal, too.  There are many true and fictional stories about these three colorful and enormously powerful individuals. Thomas Becket should be included, too.

Henry II (5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189), also known as Henry Curtmantle (French: Court-manteau), Henry FitzEmpress or Henry Plantagenet, ruled as Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Nantes, King of England (1154–89) and Lord of Ireland; at various times, he also controlled Wales, Scotland and Brittany. Henry was the son of Geoffrey of Anjou and Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England. He became actively involved by the age of 14 in his mother's efforts to claim the throne of England, then occupied by Stephen of Blois, and was made Duke of Normandy at 17.

He inherited Anjou in 1151 and shortly afterwards married Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose marriage to Louis VII of France had recently been annulled. Stephen agreed to a peace treaty after Henry's military expedition to England in 1153: Henry inherited the kingdom on Stephen's death a year later.

Henry was an energetic and sometimes ruthless ruler, driven by a desire to restore the lands and privileges of his royal grandfather, Henry I. During the early years of the younger Henry's reign he restored the royal administration in England, re-established hegemony over Wales and gained full control over his lands in Anjou, Maine and Touraine.

Henry's desire to reform the relationship with the Church led to conflict with his former friend Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This controversy lasted for much of the 1160s and resulted in Becket's death in 1170. Henry soon came into conflict with Louis VII and the two rulers fought what has been termed a "cold war" over several decades. Henry expanded his empire, often at Louis' expense, taking Brittany and pushing east into central France and south into Toulouse; despite numerous peace conferences and treaties no lasting agreement was reached. By 1172, he controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland and the western half of France, an area that would later come to be called the Angevin Empire…

Wiki on Eleanor has a list of the many stories:

Eleanor and Henry are the main characters in James Goldman's play The Lion in Winter, which was made into a film starring Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn in 1968 (for which Hepburn won the Academy Award for Best Actress and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama). The film was remade for television in 2003 with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close (for which Close won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Miniseries or a Movie).

The depiction of Eleanor in the play Becket, which was filmed in 1964 with Pamela Brown as Eleanor, contains historical inaccuracies, as acknowledged by the author, Jean Anouilh.

The character "Queen Elinor" appears in William Shakespeare's King John, along with other members of the family…

She figures prominently in Sharon Kay Penman's novels, When Christ And His Saints Slept, Time and Chance, and Devil's Brood. She appears briefly in Here Be Dragons. Penman has also written a series of historical mysteries in which Eleanor, in old age, sends a trusted servant to unravel various puzzles. The titles are The Queen's Man, Cruel as the Grave, Dragon's Lair, and Prince of Darkness.

E.L. Konigsburg's young adult novel A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver takes place in Heaven of the late 20th century, where Eleanor of Aquitaine, Empress Matilda, and William the Marshall are waiting for King Henry II to be admitted to eternity at last. The Abbot Suger stops to chat with Eleanor and stays to wait, too. To pass the time, the four recall Eleanor's time on Earth. The flashbacks on earth are set during the Middle Ages in France and England, with a brief trip to the Holy Land. The flashbacks trace the highlights of Eleanor's life from 1137 (when she is 15 years old and about to wed Louis Capet, soon to be King Louis VII of France) to her death in 1204. Her life encompasses the rule of England by her husband Henry II and by her sons Richard and John. Originally published in 1973, the novel was put back in print by Atheneum in 2001.

Eleanor is associated with Nicole des Jardins in Arthur C. Clarke's series Rendezvous with Rama. She is often cited as a role model for Nicole along with Joan of Arc...

Wiki on William Marshal

Sir William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1147 – 14 May 1219), also called William the Marshal (Norman French: Williame le Mareschal), was an English (or Anglo-Norman) soldier and statesman. Stephen Langton eulogized him as the "best knight that ever lived."

 He served four kings — Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John, and Henry III - and rose from obscurity to become a regent of England for the last of the four, and so one of the most powerful men in Europe. Before him, the hereditary title of "Marshal" designated head of household security for the king of England; by the time he died, people throughout Europe (not just England) referred to him simply as "the Marshal". He received the title of "1st Earl of Pembroke" through marriage during the second creation of the Pembroke Earldom. He is perhaps the most studied and therefore most famous of the Pembroke Earls in modern popular culture.

James Herriot’s Siegfried Farnon as played by Robert Hardy is a true force of nature as a veterinarian in North Yorkshire.  Robert Hardy has been in so many films such as Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Middlemarch and he seems to always be a force of nature.  As with Nathan Fillion, I wonder if he is acting or if in real life he is one, too.

All Creatures Great and Small is a British television series, based on the books of the British veterinary surgeon Alf Wight, who wrote under the pseudonym James Herriot…

Many scenes were shot on location at some of the Dales' countless farms. This provided hardships in the winter of 1978–79, when the temperatures dropped well below freezing. "The snow was high and the ice was solid," explained Robert Hardy in 2003. "I remember two occasions when we were so cold, from the wind on the tops, that we couldn't speak. We had to stop." Peter Davison recalled: "People would hand me a cup of tea and I would stick my hand in it, rather than drink it, because my fingers were so cold."

Of course, Dorothy Dunnett’s three main characters, Lymond, Nicholas, and Thorfinn fit the definition I have in mind of people who are energetic, courageous leaders of men.  It is an understatement to say they are forces of nature.

Dorothy Dunnett OBE (née Halliday, 25 August 1923 – 9 November 2001) was a Scottish historical novelist. She is best known for her six-part series about Francis Crawford of Lymond, The Lymond Chronicles, which she followed with the eight-part prequel The House of Niccolò. She also wrote a novel about the real Macbeth called King Hereafter (1982)...

The Lymond Chronicles is a series of six novels, set in mid-sixteenth-century Europe and the Mediterranean, which follows the life and career of a Scottish nobleman, Francis Crawford of Lymond, from 1547 through 1558. The series is a suspenseful tale of adventure and romance, filled with action, intense drama, poetry, culture and high comedy. Meticulously researched, the series takes place in a wide variety of locations, including France, the Ottoman Empire, Malta, England, Scotland and Russia. In addition to a compelling cast of original characters, the novels feature many historical figures, often in important roles...

The House of Niccolò is a series of eight historical novels set in the late-fifteenth-century European Renaissance. The protagonist of the series is Nicholas de Fleury (Niccolò, Nicholas van der Poele, or Claes), a talented boy of uncertain birth who rises to the heights of European merchant banking and international political intrigue. The series shares most of the locations in Dunnett's earlier series, the Lymond Chronicles, but it extends much further geographically to take in the important urban centres of Bruges, Venice, Florence, Geneva, and the Hanseatic League; Burgundy, Flanders, and Poland; Iceland; the Iberian Peninsula and Madeira; the Black Sea cities of Trebizond and Caffa; Persia; the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Rhodes; Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula; and West Africa and the city of Timbuktu. Nicholas's progress is intertwined with such historical characters as Anselm Adornes, James III of Scotland and James II of Cyprus...

King Hereafter (1982), her long novel set in Orkney and Scotland in the years just before the invasion of England by William the Conqueror, was in Dorothy Dunnett's eyes her masterpiece.[citation needed] It is about an Earl of Orkney uniting the people of Alba (Scotland) and becoming its King, and is based on the author's premise that the central character Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney and the historical Macbeth, Scottish King, were one and the same person.

Journalists:  Molly Ivins, Edward R. Murrow

In the music world:

Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Phil Ochs


Michael Caine in Sweet Liberty

Novelists without number, but I think of William Least-Heat Moon in his story River-Horse and John Steinbeck and his friend Doc...Ed Ricketts.

The Log from the Sea of Cortez is an English-language book written by American author John Steinbeck and published in 1951. It details a six-week (March 11 – April 20) marine specimen-collecting boat expedition he made in 1940 at various sites in the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez), with his friend, the marine biologist Ed Ricketts. It is regarded as one of Steinbeck's most important works of non-fiction chiefly because of the involvement of Ricketts, who shaped Steinbeck's thinking and provided the prototype for many of the pivotal characters in his fiction, and the insights it gives into the philosophies of the two men...

...but The Log from the Sea of Cortez is regarded as showing the direct influence of Ed Ricketts and his philosophies on Steinbeck, and provides clues to the underlying rationales for some events in his novels.  In particular, "About Ed Ricketts" reveals how closely he was tied to the characters in Steinbeck's novels: parts are taken almost verbatim from descriptions of "Doc" in Cannery Row. The book is also important for seeing something of Ed Ricketts himself. It was the only example of his philosophical writings published in his lifetime.

Who are the characters and historical people that you find to be energetic, powerhouse, forces of nature?  Are you one?  

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! Sub Edition: All's Well That Earns Its Ending
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There is a funny thread in this great diary:

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Robert Fuller says:

Chapter update for The Rowan Tree:

Marisol reaches a crisis in her ballet career.

The Rowan Tree is still free on Kindle, and it will remain that way as long as there's strong interest.

My memoir is also free on Smashwords. I'm not sure why Kindle hasn't matched the price yet.

If anyone is interested, I also revised my blog series on the neuroscience of genomes, menomes, and wenomes (originally posted on Daily Kos). This is also free on Kindle:

melpomene1 is doing a Goodreads give away of her new book, Templum.

In a comment below she says:

Here's the back-cover blurb again:

After losing her job, her boyfriend and her best friend, Brit Colladay thinks she’s hit rock bottom. Then while touring Roman ruins, she’s accidentally transported to the first century. Living as a slave near Pompeii, she fakes a gift of prophecy, but when she predicts Vesuvius will erupt, her owner doesn’t believe her.

Nicomachus, a Roman priest renowned for the “miracles” he engineers, knows a fraud when he sees one, but Brit’s brains and beauty intrigue him, and he’d rather join forces than expose her. In exchange for sharing her tricks, she wants help escaping the upcoming eruption, but helping a slave run away could get him executed.

As time runs out, they try to forge a plan. Is the answer fleeing, traveling through time, or even changing history? And can they stay together, or will survival mean living apart?

I have enjoyed her books and I look forward to reading this one.

In a comment below, Monsieur Georges says:

I beg your indulgence as I promote a book written by a family member, and COMING SOON!  

Fridays at Enrico's

I'm married to another Kossack some of you know as Lulu57, and her father was the novelist Don Carpenter.  When he died, he left an unfinished manuscript that was recently completed by Jonathan Lethem, and it'll be out April 15!

I haven't read it yet, but I've read three of Carpenter's other novels, and in my (not disinterested, but expert) opinion, they are very good!

Hill Country Ride for AIDS - there is no them, there's only us
by anotherdemocrat

NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


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