Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mithril Zeta

I thought I'd share a bit of one of my superhero characters. I first created Mithril using the old Villains and Vigilantes role playing game, then in 'Paladin', a rpg that Griffin, Raven's Path, and I created, and finally recreated him on 'City of Heroes.'

This is his most recent history as Mithril Zeta.

Grand Garou
Zachary Stevens was born in Grand Garou, Wisconsin. His father was a professor at Olympus College, and his mother was a librarian. His upbringing was upper middle class.

Grand Garou and Olympus College was a hot bed of supernatural and superpowered activity. Zach found himself to be the sidekick of many budding superheroes, including Daniel the Blue, Nicquetz, and the Iron Krunch.

Crescent University
He went to college at Crescent University in Kedra, Iowa, majoring in English/Theater and Secondary Education. While in college, his 'sidekicking' continued with Gambler Omega, Voltech X, and the Faux Fox. While helping with a case, he was captured and nearly killed by Verde Lobo and Archon Quo.

MacLeod, IA
When he moved to the small town of MacLeod, Iowa, to pursue his teaching career, he thought his adventuring days were over. He met and married Caitlyn Iversen and settled into teaching three quarters time at the public high school and a quarter time at the Catholic high school. There he met Sister Mercy, the woman who would become Nun Above.

When the Rikti invaded Paragon City and attention was drawn away from any other story, something mysterious happened to MacLeod, Iowa. The entire population disappeared. Zeta awoke in his class room, and found himself changed. His skin, teeth, and bones were all made out of silvery metal that was incredibly strong. He had a 'Z' symbol etched into the skin. It encased a fusion reaction that was centered in his chest. He learned to manipulate the energy and was able to smash, lift, and fly. His fine motor control was shot, which was extremely frustrating to the artist/writer.

Mithril Zeta
Zeta looked for clues and help in finding his wife or any survivor of MacLeod. His searching led him to finding other metal bodies in different destroyed labs. Each time, the body was at the bottom of a dried swimming pool. He found Mithrils Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Epsilon, and Kappa. The clues led up the Mississppi to Minneapolis, and then to Paragon City.

Paragon University
Mithril Zeta registered, but did not find further leads to his case. He registered and started working as a superhero. He started attending Paragon University to get a Rhode Island teaching license. He also started substitute teaching in the area public schools. He also joined the Guardians coalition supergroup. He is currently a member of the Guardians of Might.

While attending the University, he has met several heroes, and has started working with them as well. He fought beside SteelDragon and Kinetic Force.

In an attempt to gain control of his fine motor skills, Zeta signed up for some swimming pool sessions with Dr. Johanssen. It proved to be disastrous; it ended up that he was allergic to the chlorine in the swimming pool. The energy stored up in him exploded out of him with a massive electro-magnetic pulse, temporarily disrupting the campus.

Lady Moiread and Finnarial
When Lady Moiread appeared on the campus, Mithril Zeta was among those who came to help her. He had a confrontation with her 'cousins' Finnarial and Finnrhiod, but grudgingly came to respect Finnarial. When Finnarial sacrificed her power to save Lady Moiread, Zeta stayed beside her to help.

Zeta, Liz Stone, and the Mad Gremlin became Finnarial's caretaker and started helping her learn about human society.

Frat House
The four of them attended a Frat Party. While there, a group of trolls attacked the House. Zeta and the attending heroes took care of the trolls.

While they were attending to that, Arial was drugged and led away by the Frat President Erik Gregory Winslow. He was about to take advantage of her when her faerie powers activated and dove deep into Winslow's mind. She also summoned Zeta, Gremlin, and Liz. Zeta nearly killed Winslow, but Liz intervened.

Nun Above
The FBI contacted Zeta, telling him that they had found a survivor from MacLeod: Sister Mercy. Zeta met them at the airport. The moment he touched Sister Mercy's hand, he discovered that she, too, had been changed. Her body absorbed his energy, and became the insane Nun Above. Other heroes defeated her, but he felt responsible for the many deaths she caused.

Gremlin Manor
Zeta moved into the Old Chancellor's House closer to campus along with Liz, the Mad Gremlin, and Arial.

Currently, Erik Gregory Winslow has embarked on a revenge saga against Zeta and others the pharmaceutical's heir perceives as offended him.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Castle Zierath Artwork

One of the things that I haven't done a lot of in the last year and a half or so is my Castle Zierath artwork. For several years, I had been producing at least four pieces of digital artwork a month based on my fantasy world. While I am by no means a professional artist, my work is not bad for an amateur (although I'm sure several of my professional artist-type friends probably cringe when they see some of what I do, but are just too nice to say anything).

I have finally finished my first picture of 2007. It's a picture from my first novel Castle Zierath (current on sale at my website Plug! Plug!) This scene takes place in chapter 30 "Matriarchy". The picture features the Mad Hatter of Abatwar, his brother Clint the Black Paladin, Baron Kunce, Andreea, and several of their retainers.

My plan is to start working on my hundreds of pictures again and to start drawing again. My next picture to be worked on is for chapter 4 of the novel. I've tried about a dozen different pictures, but I'm having troubles with it; the characters are riding horses, and my horses are terrible. I've never learned how to make them look halfway decent. Sigh.

Oh, as an aside, I have to admit that in the picture above, Fernius, the harvest moon there is actually Mars. It looks pretty good there, though, doesn't it.

Monday, January 22, 2007


In the last couple of weeks, I've been reminded of how much I enjoy Elfquest.

Elfquest is a saga created by Wendy and Richard Pini. It’s a story of a tribe of elves known as the Wolfriders trying to find a new home and then trying to find all the different tribes of elves.

We discussed the first Elfquest book at my fantasy book club last month. My lovely wife, who chose the book, led the discussion. It was the novelization of the first graphic novel. I have to admit, I prefer the graphic novels – that thing of 1000 words and one picture. Wendy Pini is an incredible artist.

This past weekend we found an Elfquest graphic novel that we didn’t even know had come out. We were very excited about The Searcher and the Sword. We had read the most recent series, and things were referred to in there that now make a whole lot more sense.

The Searcher and the Sword featured my favorite elf Treestump, one of the elders of the Wolfriders. It was wonderful seeing him featured, and for once my favorite character wasn’t killed. (My favorite character is usually not the lead character, and if any character dies in the story, it’s my favorite one.)

Also dealt with within the panels is a human character coming to terms with an abusive relationship. Unlike many times in real life, it was nice to see the abuser get his come-uppance.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Jean's Ordination

It's going to be a fun weekend for me. I'm heading up to the Twin Cities this weekend. I'm really looking forward to it. We get to stay with my college buddy and his family. His two boys have superhero questions for me; that'll be fun.

The main reason we're going to be heading north is so we can go to our friend Jean's ordination. It should be interesting. She's going to be ordained in a fairly non-traditional church (it would have to be because of her sexual orientation). This has been a dream of hers for several years. We were in on some of the conversations as she chose to go this route. I find her very brave and I'm very glad we're going to be able to make her ordination.

I'll also be visiting Griffin on the way home. I'm looking forward to watching a little football with him. Maybe he'll forgive me for teasing him about missing the City of Heroes double xp weekend next weekend.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Castle Zierath the Serial

Greetings from Castle Zierath!

I have some exciting news! I am going to publish my novels over the web as an e-book serial.

Go to, and then click on the Castle Zierath novel button. It will take you to the novel page where you can purchase a subscription to the book. You will then find a shopping cart where that uses Paypal and credit cards. Just about every Sunday, I’ll email out the most recent chapter. The Castle Zierath website will be updated with characters for each chapter as a glossary reference.

If you do not wish to use the internet to purchase the novel but still want to purchase the novel, you can send me a letter and a check for $15 (+7% sales tax in Iowa). I only have credit card capability through Paypal.

As of right now, the cost of mailing out a paper copy each month is prohibitively expensive.

Also, if you want the novel as a whole, there is also a button for that. The whole novel will be delivered over email on December 30th, 2007.

Also available for a limited time– the first Castle Zierath t-shirt. Going to be putting in an order for t-shirts in early February, so order them now!

Please, spread the word. I know many of you are not Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans, but you know some. Let those friends know, and direct them to my site.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Facebook and MySpace

After our alumni panel at the Weekend Workshop, I was convinced to try Facebook and MySpace, more so I could stay connected to my alumni than anything else.

I'm glad I did. I'm in contact with former students, former staff, and current students. You can check their friends and find more of your friends. It really is amazing. Out there on Facebook, there was a group for my program.

The problem with it: I can see how it can be addicting. There is soooo much to check - I mean, everyone has comments and/or a blog, and to keeping up with them all would be difficult.

This will be an interesting experiment.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Tigger Attack

I was watching the Today show (or whichever one of those is on CBS - I really should remember that), and my attention was caught by a lead in where a Disney Tigger hit a teenaged guest at DisneyWorld.

I watched the videotape the father had taken, and, yes, Tigger did slap the boy, but it looked like the boy had grabbed the back of Tigger's neck and maybe had his hand in the costume somehow, and the slap really looked like an accident.

The family took the son to the hospital because his vision was blurry, and brought their family lawyer in. It looks like a suing situation.

Disney has suspended the actor and both the Sheriff and the company are investigating.

I have to admit, in this case, my heart is going out to the actor because while he may have been wrong in his reacting, it looks like it started with the teenaged son, and I don't think the kid is going to be held accountable, and the actor will lose his livelihood for reacting.

And this is terrible, I also feel a bit sorry for 'Kramer'. He responded to some very rude hecklers inappropriately, but has anyone called them on their behavior? 'Kramer' definitely should apologize, (and his career may never recover) but so should those young men. Such behavior is unacceptable from them as well.

I guess it always comes down to taking responsibility for what you do.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Tournament of Doom

One of the great joys I have is being on the Council for the Tournament of Doom.

What is the Tournament of Doom, you ask.

Each summer for the past five years, Jason Stonerook has created a 64-person battle to the death (set up on the same brackets as you find in the NCAA basketball play-offs.) The people are a variety of movie heroes, comic characters, wild animals, video game creations, historical people and celebrities, and so forth.

We have the bracketed foes battle each other (in our minds), and then our students vote on who wins. We all have to do research and discuss. There a re 5 members on the Council, and if the Council is unanimous, the winner is announced. If we are not unanimous (which happens a lot), we draw randomly from the brackets.

Some incredible fights are imagined here. In the very first round of the first Tournament of Doom, we some incredible battles, such as Wolverine vs Luke Skywalker (does a lightsaber cut through adamantium?) and Batman vs Aragorn.

There are times when the 'popular vote' makes the highly improbable happen - such as Beastman of the Masters of the Universe defeating Worf of Star Trek, or Tarzan defeating Aquaman (I still get grumpy about that one.)

The winners from the previous Tournament of Doom:

I: Darth Vader
II: Mace Windu
III: Storm
IV: The Power Puff Girls
V: the team of V (from V for Vendetta) and Mary Poppins

We do have a webpage - It has current commentary as well as articles from the various summers, the brackets from the different years, and the Tournament of Doom Hall of Fame.

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Winnie the Pooh

This week end I am in our community theater production of Winnie the Pooh. I am Pooh Bear. I've enjoyed this children's show quite a bit. The way we have it set up is we cast it in August, have one rehearsal in October, two in November, and then three weeks in December, one of them being 6 hour a day rehearsals during the X-mas week. (this schedule works well for students and teachers). We have rehearsal every night this week, and then a performance on Friday night, a Saturday matinee, and then a Saturday night performance.

I do enjoy the stage.

We're going to be doing The Odd Couple this coming spring...I'm going to try out for it, and I hope I get Felix or Oscar. I just don't know which I want more...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

2006 is done. I thought I'd go through a little retrospective of the year from my point of view.

January saw the Junior Senior Weekend, a trip to San Diego, summer staff interviews round 1, and lots and lots of City of Heroes with Griffin and Raven's Path (that continues through most of the year).

February saw summer staff interviews round 2, and a trip to Madison and meeting the Mad Gremlin.

March had Dag's talk on Norse Mythology, staff orientation, and the Mad Hatter's graduation party.

April I finished the class description packets, being a fireman and a UPS delivery guy in the musical 'Working', and another trip to Madison to see the Wangs.

May we finally made it back to the Twin Cities and saw the Mantinis and got my comics for the first time in months. (boy, did I miss them). The class registration pages came back and I started the registration pieces.

June and July, as always, were very busy. I had another trip to the Twin Cities for my youngest cousin's graduation party. The summer program flew by - it was the best summer I've had since the mid-nineties. Excellent summer staff and a trip to Washington DC.

Something else nice was being left in DC, being picked up by my wife and siblings-in-law, and touring DC (although in extreme heat). The AmTrak trip back was wonderful. THAT is the way to travel.

In September we got back on a 'normal' schedule. I read 14 books in six weeks, along with 12 graphic novels. We visited the Twin Cities again, Ka'Senne picked up a few weekend job duties, and I worked away at the yearbook.

I turned 40 in October, helped with a set for the musical Quilters, and headed to Madison again. The grant - a ridiculously difficult process - was due at the end of the month, and got in.

I won't bother with November and December - I covered a lot of my thoughts on those in this blog.

Now - 2007, here I come!