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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Exclusive interview with fictional berserker from everyone's favourite book


Hello and welcome to another crazy article on my blog. Today we have a very special guest for you (he surely thinks he is anyway), a fictional character from Svartalfeim who became one of the most beloved characters in my book - The Last King of Shambhala.  His name... Eirik Lodbrok.

Me: Hello Eirik.  Good of you to join us. How are you today?

Lodbrok: Pleasant evening, Mr. Daniel Grant Newton.  Great to be here. One thing though, I go by Lodbrok... Lodbrok the Magnificent, if you will. Or Lodbrok the Great. Or Lodbrok the Amazing. Or any fitting descriptor, I am not that fussed, but Lodbrok, son, not Eirik. Only my mum ever used that name Eirik that slipped from your lips this fine day. And if I were naughty, and no doubt deserved a smack, she would call me Eirik Lodbrok.

Me: That's fine - I can call you whatever ... I did create you. Now, Lodbrok - if you prefer, some of the readers will be wondering who you are, could you describe...

Lodbrok:  Mr. Daniel Grant Newton, how naive and wrong you are. Everybody who lives upon this fine green planet of yours would surely not only know me name, but revere it and consider calling their kid by the same name - if they didn't think the pressure to live up to my brilliance would ultimately crush their said child into a small crushed thing.

Remember, you are not talking to a small time celeb. A flash in the silver screen pan. A minor paparazzi favourite like Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie or some-fing. You are talking to the greatest swordsman to ever pick up a sword. The best bandit to ever steal a gem. The Padival Village cheese rolling champion two years running. And of course, every young lady's heartthrob - who could resist a cheese roller, right?

My picture is no doubt the most recognised facial representation in your world, as is the case in my world. Swordsman keep my picture in their wallet for inspiration. Law enforcement officials post my picture around every town in hope of an impending arrest - although, let's face it, no amount of back-up is EVER enough. And then there is the ladies, again. They keep my photo by their bedside for sighing at, holding against their chest, and gazing wistfully at while reading a Jane Austin classic - or lustfully if they are instead reading 50 Shades of Grey.

Me: Yes, that sort of talk could land you in lots of trouble.

Lodbrok: Is the adage "trouble is my middle name" a common adage in your world too? If it isn't, perhaps just write that I said that with a cool expression on my face, and that you threw your head back in fits of laughter, appreciating my wit and agreeing with the spot-on sentiment.

Me: One thing that actually might be a surprise to you, Lodbrok, is that you are not known outside of the readers of my book.

Lodbrok: Are you meaning to tell me only you and your mum are blessed to know me in your world?

Me: Are you implying that only my mum and I have read my book?

Lodbrok: Look, it's a great book - I should know, I am the main character - but nobody reads all those words. The movie on the other hand shall be fantastic if someone were to buy the rights. It would make millions and be a good investment for sure (hint hint).

Naturally I could play myself, and perhaps you could write a romantic interest for me... Or two, I wouldn't dare restrict your creativity. I have seen two little known actresses who could play the part.  Have you heard of Halle Berry and Jessica Alba? Perhaps you should look their numbers up in that phone book you people have and give them a holler.

Me: I hate to break you when you are just finding rhythm, but I assure you, only my readers and now blog readers know who you are.

Lodbrok: No I am pretty sure I am a big deal in Israel and Australia. And Russia, too. They love the Lodbrok in those countries. It is hard to walk down the road without being mobbed by incredibly attractive women, or men. And there's a billboard of my face on every corner.

Me: Yeah, I think you are living in some sort of imaginary world, because that is not the case.

Lodbrok: Oh, I am living in an imaginary world, am I? That is novel, excuse the pun because if you don't like it, there it still is. Not taking it back. I live in an imaginary world, do I? I don't think I am the one interviewing the imaginary friend. Now I am no shrink or nothing, but don't that sound just the little bit mad to you?

Me: I am NOT a shrink, but DOESN'T that sound a bit mad to you?

Lodbrok: You are fixing my grammar, which is your grammar.



Me: Hmmm... Maybe you are right. Maybe I am a little mad. But it is nice that you referred to yourself as my imaginary friend. It's nice you consider me a friend. Even if you did call me mad.

Lodbrok: Just telling it like it is. Anyway, enough of you. Let us enjoy much better a subject matter so your audience don't click to another page... like me and my book. Yes, bad grammar, I know. But do you realise how many of them typos you make on your blog?

Me: Yes, thanks for that. One thing I need to clarify with my casual readers - you are not actually the main character.

Lodbrok: If I didn't know you were joking, I would throw my head in some soft pillow like object and bawl man tears that would no doubt be collected by some entrepreneurial type, and sold at a rare collector's auction in Israel, Russia or Australia.

It would probably be bought or stolen by an Australian, because they love their beloved criminals, like Ned Kelly and Kylie Minogue.

I think it is because they were founded by convicts. Well, invaded by a kingdom that dropped convicts on the dreadful, endless, empty beaches to go back to the luxurious, cold and crowded Britain. Did you know that?

Me: I am Australian. I did know that. But of course there were people there before said drop-off. And Kylie isn't a criminal, by the way.

Lodbrok: Really?? Because some of those outfits are a crime. If I were her manager I would have the fashion police on speed dial.

Me: I can see Ebben has become a big influence on you. You are dropping cultural references like it's hot.  Yet, not that funny.  I hope people read my book and discover you are much more funny than this!

Lodbrok: You mean you really hope they read your book and discover YOU are much more funny than this!

Me: This whole switching reality thing is very Post Modern. And it also reminds me of one of those creepy puppets who reveals the dark inner thoughts of their weird puppeteer.

Lodbrok: ... And back to me! You do get easily distracted, Mr. Newton. I believe you came with a set of questions, as is the cultural expectation when one conducts an interview of a much admired personality. So far, however, you have asked me how I am and whether I think more than just your mum and you have read your book. Not a good start.

Me: Yes, I do have questions. Here I go. Question one. In your own words, can you describe what The Last King of Shambhala is about?


Lodbrok:  That's easy.  The Last King of Shambhala is about an incredibly handsome, charming and streetwise berserker - yours truly - and his mission to save the universe from Ragnarok - complete destruction. How it ends, you'll just have to read it and find out.

Me: That's not exactly it though, is it? You aren't even the main character. And it isn't your mission.

Lodbrok: It's all a matter of perspective, I guess.

Me: How so?

Lodbrok: Well, if Ebben - 'Universe Saver' - Alexandrov didn't meet me, who knows how long he would have lasted. Not long. Not long at all.

Me: Alright. Question two. What was the hardest thing you ever had to do?

Lodbrok: I once had to save a damsel who looked just like Halle Berry ... or Jessica Alba or Nicole Kidman ... from an army of Block Heads.  For all those playing at home, Block Heads are these incredibly awesome, unbeatable and evil robots.  I don't like to exaggerate, you know that, Daniel, but there were probably a million of them. And I was only armed with my sword, charisma and superior strategy skills.


Me: And let me guess, you want me to write this scene in the next book, make it into a movie, and get one of the aforementioned actresses to play your romantic lead.

Lodbrok: It is like we have the same brain. What is that saying in your world about great minds think alike? Ebben once said it to me.

Me: Yeah, I am not writing that scene though... Next question. What was your most embarrassing moment?


Lodbrok: Don't really have one. Well, there was this one time when a lover's ex punched me in a surprise attack while I was drunk and temporarily blinded by accidentally consuming unicorn poison. That was the first time anyone ever laid a punch on me, and I almost lost the fight. So embarrassing for a warrior like me.  But in the end I ended up winning the duel, and the young lady, let's just call her Halle Berry - it wasn't her name but it might give you some ideas, and her father watched on with candid astonishment.

Me: One last question, before you plug The Last King of Shambhala. And surprisingly, it isn't why on Earth did I think it was a good idea to give you a whole article on my blog.

Lodbrok: I am not sure you are the right one to plug my book to... your book to. I have heard of this woman called Ellen that I should speak to regarding promoting The Last King of Shambhala. Have you heard of her? I think she might have a small chat show somewhere. Probably better to hold off on plugging anything until I talk to her, and promise her the exclusive.

Me: That might be a bit difficult as you are not real.

Lodbrok: Already thought of that, my dear friend. I am alive and well in your mind, yes? Why don't you take a holiday in the recesses of your subconscious, and give me the metaphorical wheel?

Me: Not going to happen. You have already embarrassed me... Last question. Who do you admire most in the book besides yourself and your reflection? Short answer as time is running out.



Lodbrok: Odin ... and his son, Thor (pictured above). And Ebben, of course.

Me: Alright. I think that is all we have time for. Thanks for your time, Lodbrok. And to my readers, please check out my blog and my book. It is available at Amazon and any good online book store.

Lodbrok: Is that it?  I feel that was unsatisfyingly short.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

In a moment of maddness – paint-thrown-on-the-wall madness – and a broad brushstroke of procrastination … I birthed a Modern Art Trailer for my Blog. And this is my ‘unveiling’.


My love affair with art started young.  Crayon scribbles to finger painting to drawing to cartoons to painting … and then off to a private high school and five years of high brow art so that I knew a lot about things that most people never would care about.  Knowledge that won’t get you a job – that sort of thing.

Which naturally makes me both culturally and intellectually superior to the uninitiated who have stupid jobs like being a surgeon, a judge or a quantum physicist.

Actually, since I was drafted to a high-achieving school, the surgeon, the judge and the quantum physicist were probably in my class.  (That sounds like the start of a joke – a surgeon, a judge and a quantum physicist went to a school.  The surgeon said… etc.)

Although, they probably were in my art class, in the case of the quantum physicist, he or she was probably attending all other classes simultaneously in different dimensions while phasing in and out of existence and personifying the question ‘what is real?’ …

Which in the dimension and class I was attending may have been a good topic to explore in one of his or her perspectives, but by the mere act of choosing a subjective lens to view the question, would have collapsed all other possibilities and rendered the study not understood or complete… thereby demonstrating my popular science noob’s view on the subject.

No, but serious (oh, my goodness is this blog going to get serious?!?), learning about art was one of the greatest things I have ever done.  You can really appreciate the creative mind and the era of the time the piece was created during by learning about it … and unfolding the mysteries.  It is like learning another language or opening the wardrobe to another world, like Narnia.

But instead of being a world with boring things like talking lions who think they’re Jesus or witches who directly influence the seasons and withhold the biggest shopping holiday of the year – Christmas…

… it is a world that has artists who cut off an ear to send in the post on Valentine’s Day, or artists who paint pictures of pipes and then tell you that it isn’t actually in reality a pipe but a picture of a pipe.

All I have to say to the first example is that goodness we now have Halmark, Vincent.  (Van Gogh and I are clearly on a first name basis.)

And to the second example, the below is not a pipe either…

 
So, in essence, art is more than aesthetic candy, but exploring psychology and perspectives of the mind, and importantly is a channel for rebellion and making statements.  It is the rebellious Sex Pistols of intellect and society, except that its members aren’t all tools with no talent and no real base (or real bass, as the case may be with the Sex Pistols).

Did I say that out loud?  Sorry that was my upturned nose speaking, not my skinny genes – the DNA of Punk – the place where God gave Rock’n’Roll to you … And to everyone.

Have you got that song stuck in your head now?

But in this exploration of art, I discovered that art isn’t all about rebellion and expressing your individuality.  It also occasionally has artists that I am pretty certain nobody understands, but like the emperor and his new clothes, nobody wants to admit they don’t.  And so they pay millions to maintain the illusion they do.

Case in point…

I once as a young art student went to a small minimalist art gallery with my class and got to meet the artist.  As you can imagine, it was very exciting to pick the brains of someone who does art for a living.  Especially as he delved in minimalist art and I had no understanding or appreciation for his art yet (turns out I still don’t).  Here was a chance to open my fresh-eyed young mind up with a dose of artistic DMT.

To paint the scene, pun regrettably intended, this minimalist artist did artwork like painting a canvas completely white, then dripping white paint down the side.  Or splotching a red dot in the middle.  Yes, that was the piece.  Done.  Now put a price tag on it.  $35,000 plus postage and handling.

Example of a similar piece done by a small child is below.



When we arrived the class were allowed to leisurely explore his gallery, before we met aforementioned artist and asked our questions.  These questions went down like this – no joke.

Student (pointing to white canvas with yellow blob): What is the meaning behind your artwork?  Can you tell us what the meaning behind this art piece is, for example?

Artist:  This piece is about when I had sandwiches on the beach with my teacher, and bla la bla bla, and the yellow dot then related to (insert completely random political message), bla bla bla, and that’s when I said to Mary I’d like to meet her Tuesday, represented by the white.  (Finish)

Class reaction: Different states of WTF.

Student (confused but with humour): When do you know an art piece is complete?

(It was on our minds as the paintings looked as though they’d all been started but perhaps stopped at the first stroke.)

Artist: I know to stop painting when the phone rings.

Teacher (after just two questions): Okay, that’s enough, boys.  We have to be getting back to school now.  Thank the ‘artist’ for his … ummm … time.

Artist shrugs and lights up marijuana in front of us all.  He then proceeds to leer at some of us.

End of scene.

Now obviously this was not your typical artist.  (To protect his identity, and because I’ve conveniently forgotten it, we’ll call him ‘Mr. J’ from now on.)

Minimalist art like Mr. J’s brand of art reminds me not only of my nephew’s masterpieces which we might sell to pay for his future university fees, but also a news story I read once.

This news story tells of a modern art show that came to New York and achieved great acclaim by some art critiques.  Emperor’s new clothes art critiques.

After the accolades, it was revealed the paintings were done by elephants holding paintbrushes.

Not surprisingly, my art teacher didn’t find it as amusing as I did when I enlightened him.  But like me with Mr. J, my art teacher didn’t get what I was about.

Art history has been about self-expression and challenging the status quo or system or governing or establishment…

… so I have no idea why I didn’t ace it when I challenged his governing by not listening to his ideas like the class status quo, creating my own art outside of the schooling system, which didn’t look like the ones in the art text books, thereby challenging the establishment.

Surely any disobedience by students should have been encouraged and seen as a tribute to the art greats before us.

High school art was perhaps less about revolutions and pushing boundaries, and more ironically about following the established curriculum – and copying, or ‘appropriating’, other people’s ideas.  But it was still the best subject at school, don’t get me wrong, AND I even had a good relationship with my teacher who will not be named.  Because James Talmad wouldn’t appreciate it.

That isn’t his name by the way.  Just put a name in there for a laugh.

Anyway, outside of a little bit of drawing and painting, I haven’t done much art since school.  And I definitely haven’t attempted any emperor’s new clothes art.

So in a mad moment where cheeky met procrastination at a right angle, I decided to make a video that Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol and elephants alike would approve of.  An art piece that makes no sense – other than the shameless plugging of this blog with assurances it is awesome – in tribute to the art that nobody really understands.

The unveiling of my Blog Trailer in a Modern Art style…



Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Dear Reader, the Death Star is close to almost somewhat fully operational… perhaps.



I don’t like to blow my own horn but…

No, actually.  What am I saying?!?  I love to blow my own horn.  It has such a unique vibrant resonance that echoes across green valleys with rivers and waterfalls.

My horn blowing is a crystal clear harmonically-perfect masterpiece that is at just the right pitch to make David Hasselhoff gasp and lay the back of his rugged hairy hand to his chiseled forehead, before spontaneously combusting to the tune of ‘Jump in My Car’.  (I love that guy!)

I also love my horn, so much so that I blow my own horn about blowing my own horn.  Cue comedic honk.

But before I indulge in such vocal self congratulatory adulation, I must warn you that if you’re reading David, the avid week-to-week reader you no doubt are, find the strength to stop reading.  K.I.T. can’t save you now, either can a slow motion CJ with breeze blown hair and a bouncing standard issue lifeguard safety float.

We simply cannot lose you, David, king of suave and comedy.  Respect.  Big up yourself.  Comin’ at ya like Cleopatra.

So with that said, here I (finally) go, blowing my own horn, for everyone’s benefit bar the Hoff, trumpety trumpety like the introduction of a king to an archery event.

My novel has been chosen as a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Books of 2012, in the Sci-fi and Fantasy category.  Since I am in North America now, I have the liberty to call it the World’s Greatest Independent Authors of 2012 Championship.

And unlike the World Series, it is an international competition.  Without the drugs.  Actually, I cannot be certain there hasn’t been some Lewis Carol performance enhancers used by any of the other competitors.

(For the record, for complete openness and transparency, I did drink 9 coffees one school night to help me write a short story called ‘The Coffee Whisperer’… it was about a guy who discovered he could talk to coffee beans.  But that was a long time ago and I regret my actions.  Actually I don’t.  But I’m presuming I would if I had a publicity manager on my imaginary payroll.)

Anyway… You can help be my further success.  I will mention you in my Academy Awards speech when the movie adaption wins the best negative cutting category for a foreign film with product placement set in three or more different locations and time periods, and containing an original music score comprised only of horns.

Or whatever award it wins in the hypothetical future.

(Note that that is to say in this particular hypothetical future event … not to say the future is hypothetical, because it invariably and inevitably will happen, but will instead be called the present to those experiencing it.  Don’t ask me why.  I didn’t make the rules… of the universe.  Or the linear timeline we perceive.)

So if I win, your efforts will be recognised.  My movie will no doubt have tough competition though as it will probably be competing with the likes of movies like Dainty Green Tree Frog Man and Google Cars.  Maybe even The Coffee Whisperer.

Anyway, point is, your help will help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  

(Do not be concerned if your name is Obi-Wan Kenobi, I am not stalking you, but merely inserting a cultural reference for comedic purposes and peer approval.  You should be more worried about why your parents gave you that name, and named your little sister ‘The Little Ewok’.  Also, by the same token, do not be alarmed if your name is not Obi-Wan, you have not by some freak metaphysical accident taken the identity of a fictional character.)

Anyway, that is my long winded Hugh Grant way of saying that I … erm … love you.  And am asking for your help.

So how can you help me?  Great question.  I am excited you finally asked the question and won the prize.  The prize being the illusive answer.

By buying The Last King of Shambhala on Amazon and leaving a review, that’s how.  By sharing the love, you will help me (I think) reach the finals, and then perhaps become THE Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Book of 2012 in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy category.  And then we can build a Death Star together with only one small but very important design flaw.

Join me, insert your name here, and leave a review.  I am your father.