Me, too

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Per the United Press Syndicate:

Nov. 25 (UPI) -- A hunter in the Czech Republic was charged by a deer that snagged the man's gun on its antlers and fled into the woods with the weapon, police said.

Police said another hunter reported spotting a deer with a rifle dangling from its antlers more than half a mile from the scene.

Investigators said the hunter was required to report the loss of the rifle under the Czech Republic's Firearms and Ammunition Act.

I'm not going to lie; it's kind of comforting to know that not *everything* has gone upside down in 2020.

The Great Deer Uprising: continuing unabated since 2010.

They're smarter than we give them credit for
"Hunter Holding A Rifle Looks Peevishly At A Deer" by Edward Koren

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Lately, I've been watching a lot of movies I've seen before and liked. But I still have time for some new-to-me movies like these:

176. (1830.) PT 109 (1963)
This biopic is too long. While watching it, I had ample time to consider a scenario in which the evil land baron who made Patrick Swayze's life hell in Roadhouse was secretly J.F.K., who had survived his "assassination" and moved out to the sticks. I mean, that's not any crazier than anything else you'll hear in 2020.

177. (1831.) Enter the Ninja (1981)
Oh. My. God. Where has this movie been all my life? A gaijin ninja returns to help his best friend by sleeping with his wife and combatting the minions of an evil corporate raider. It's balls-to-the-walls crazy. I can only imagine how much better my life would be if I had seen this action/adventure ninja-exploitation film when it came out. What a wasted childhood.

178. (1832.) Revenge of the Ninja (1983)
Not a sequel so much as an anthology installment, this is a pale reflection of its predecessor. (A rogue gaijin ninja begins killing mobsters, unintentionally revealing himself to the rival ninja whose life he ruined. Oh, and there's also some child endangerment.) If you have the opportunity, watch Enter the Ninja again instead.

Drink Coke! (Revenge of the Ninja)
That's a very familiar clock on the wall of that, uh, Y.M.C.A. dojo?

179. (1833.) Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019)
As a live-action adaptation of a young children's cartoon, this film should be terrible. But it's not. By leaning into the source material, it actually manages to be quite charming. I recommend it.

180. (1834.) Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death (2020)
One of the worst aspects of 2020 is that the pandemic has robbed me of these Hallmark mystery movies that I love to hate watch. The formula is as tired as ever; I identified the killer literally the first time he appeared on screen. I'd watch as many of these as Hallmark could make in a year.

181. (1835.) Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
The third and final movie in the "Ninja Trilogy" fully embraces the supernatural in all its absurdity. To sum up: a cable repair woman is possessed by the soul of an undead ninja who goes on a killing spree against all the policemen who (justifiably) tried to kill him, a rampage that can only be stopped by the swordsmanship of *another* ninja. Better than the second but not the original. Boy howdy, Enter the Ninja was good.

More to come.

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Now that I'm no longer tending for a sick dog, I finally have some time to get stuff done. Stuff like publishing a novel!

Apprentice to Murder

Apprentice to Murder: The Tale of Robin the Rascal in the Wizard's Own Words, my latest novel, is now available in both a $15 paperback edition and a $2.99 Kindle eBook on Amazon.com. Just in time for Christmas!

This is my fifth novel, after the Central Kingdoms Chronicles quadrilogy (The Wizards of Ranaloy, Prince Thorgils' War, A Quest Before Dying, and Specter of the Lich). Those were all about wizards. I admit that this one is too. But it's also a cozy murder mystery!

According to the book cover (which I also wrote):

Life is easy for young Prince Robin. Growing up with the luxuries afforded members of the royal family, he dreams of one day becoming a knight like his late father. But the young nobleman’s dreams are derailed when his cousin, heir apparent Prince John, dies under questionable circumstances. Fingers quickly point to Robin, who inconveniently happens to be the next in the line of succession and the last person to have seen John alive.

To prevent civil war, Robin abdicates his birthright for an apprenticeship under Royal Wizard Septimus. Robin’s sacrifice saves the kingdom, but one by one, the inhabitants of Windwick Castle begin to die, each new death seeming to further incriminate the fallen prince. The only way for Robin to save himself is find John’s real killer.

The apprentice wizard is going to learn the hard way that even magic has its limits.

If that's not enough to whet your appetite, you can read the first chapter of this or any of my other books for free at JamesWalterStephens.com.

Thank you to all who have supported this project.

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2020 killed my dog.

July, R.I.P.

July beat cancer for the first time in 2016 after having her toe amputated. She beat it a second time when she had a portion of her ear removed in 2019. This past July, she had a mammary tumor removed. Three times seems to be the limit.

In late October, she got wobbly in the legs. We crossed our fingers that it was a spinal problem. She initially responded to treatment, but she took a turn for the worse about two weeks ago when she lost even the ability to stand with assistance. It was downhill from there.

So long as she was lucid and had an appetite, I felt it was my duty to support her however I could — I couldn't justify killing my dog simply because she had become inconvenient. But I realized late last night that we had probably reached the end of the line. (I'll save the gory details except to say that cancer can be a real bitch.) I had her euthanized this afternoon, and she died in my arms.

For the better part of the past decade, July had been my shadow. Her sister, Victoria, wanted to be near me; July *needed* to be near me. She followed me everywhere and complained to whoever would listen when she couldn't see me. I can't blame her. Who else was she going to get to take her for walkies or hand her a slice of pizza?

I already feel like I'm missing something when I walk into a room and don't hear the tappa-tappa of toenails trailing behind me. I keep looking for baby, and she's not there anymore and never will be again. That will take some getting used to.

Thanks to Kelley for bringing her into my life and thanks to Mom for being a substitute Walter when necessary over the years. Thanks to her vet, Jeff, for helping me keep her around as long as we did. (Fourteen years is a good, long life for a standard poodle!) And especially thanks to July for doing your best to make 2020 bearable for as long as you could.

In happier times

I loved my girls.

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I will

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There's a learning curve

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Giving thanks for a full life

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I tell a variation on this joke each year

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Dogs are so much wiser than people

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To be continued...

 

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