Friday, May 16, 2008

It Could Have Been Me: Indiana Jones and Riddle of the Real World

Back in the late 1970's, I was in college as a cultural Anthropology major in a major Northeastern University and had no idea that my chosen profession was about to become popular and even sexy to some. The year after I graduated I went to the movies and was stunned to have accidentally encountered a role model, the unconventional archaeologist, , Indiana Jones, and he was at least superficially just like me, or more appropriately, just like I wanted to be. While I was studying archaeology back then, Indie was actually doing the exciting fieldwork and retrieving the relics, idols and artifacts. While I had been attending the lectures about exotic cultures and civilizations, Indiana was feeling the warm desert breeze on the back of his neck and coming face to face with adventure and intrigue. Yes, there was quite a contrast there, and perhaps more than a little imaginative fantasizing about role reversal, so that I could be the one wearing the Fedora and having the adventures.

Actually, I knew several archaeologists and anthropologists. None of them had a Fedora. One did smoke a pipe, though, but that wasn't anywhere near as dashing. After the first Indiana Jones movies came out, there was actually something of a conflicted backlash by professionals within the industry. You see, the dirty little secret was that Indie was breaking all of the rules during his exploits. While he was being dashing and exciting, he was also frequently ignoring the fragile and precious nature of the objects of his quests, and certainly disregarding the rights of the governments or indigenous people whose artifacts he was plundering, for his University back home. Yes, back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were a few archaeologists who sometimes behaved that way, but by today's standards, they are hardly looked upon as role models. They were not Indiana Jones. For Indie, the adventure always ended with the retrieval of the fantastic and the revelation of what it meant.

Well, decades have passed and yet another Indiana Jones movie will soon be released in a few days. My own archaeology/anthropology career had managed to take a sharp left turn as well, taking me into directions I would never have anticipated. Yet, I still remember Indie fondly and actually owe a lot to him. In a way, he was responsible for me wishing to equal his exploits in archaeology. Much to my surprise, I have.

Instead of recovering lost artifacts, I created a hero who would do that for me. Rather than visiting exotic lands on this world, I created a land so exotic that even Indiana Jones would be amazed by it. You see, in my spare time, I became a writer of fiction . My adventures, so firmly rooted in archaeological realities, took flight into amazing fantasy and mystical realms, that would have made Indie's hair stand on end if he could have seen them.

Where the Indiana Jones movies traditionally end, with the retrieval of the amazing mystical artifact, my novel began. I was much more interested in the mystical after effects of the initial adventure than the retrieval process. Thus, the world of Asharra was born and my longing to trade places with Indiana Jones ended. I had created a world where even Indie would be amazed. It was on Asharra that I could endlessly adventure, even without a Fedora.

In my 600 page novel, the Winds of Asharra, professor and archaeologist, Evan Durant discovers a strange pulsating cube but the real adventure begins when his teenage son and his female friend ignore the professor's request and touch the artifact, which promptly transports them to a strange sensual and enigmatic land. This young adventurer, then follows the footsteps of Indiana Jones and his ilk, but into clearly uncharted territory. You see, Asharra is an adventurer's dream, a land filled with evolved felines, intelligent telepathic trees, musical dragons and even a mysterious dream inducing crystalline being. The fact that Asharra is a highly sensual place and filled with a rich and complex New Age philosophy further takes my decades long wishes and extends them into an entirely new arena.

When I was pursuing a cultural anthropology degree (dual major with comparative religions) back in the 1970's, I never imagined that I would be influenced by the Indiana Jones movies. Looking back on it, what geek wouldn't be? Still, the strange part is that, years later, I was able to channel my professional training and expertise and meld it together with my love for adventure, something I credit to those hours in the theatre, rather than the lecture hall. My adventure is one I can hold in my hands, a copy of the Winds of Asharra. I'm as grateful to Indiana Jones as I am to my degree in his field. Who would have thought that both of them would have lead me to the world of the purple sky, the land of Asharra? The best part is, I can visit and adventure there anytime I want. I don't even need the Fedora any more.

The Winds of Asharra is available from and other fine online book retailers.

Winds of Asharra Virtual book tour with Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours coming July 2008. Full details will be posted at

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Heart of the Wolf

In my Heart of the Wolf and the rest of my series, I base the werewolves on real wolves and include information about wolves living nearby. As soon as Heart of the Wolf was released on April 1st, I started receiving fan mail about the delisting of gray wolves so that now hunters can shoot them.
"But the Rocky Mountain delisting gravely worries many environmentalists. They fear "hostile" laws in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming – where ranchers are not happy with the wolf resurgence. Those laws allow killing that could whittle down the canid population to its federally set minimum of 300 for the region."
Because of this, I'll need to incorporate this into future books.

Frankie: The Walk 'n Roll Day by Barbara Techel

When Frankie ruptured a disk in her spine 2 years ago, I thought she would have to be put to sleep. I had no idea she could go on and live a quality life.

A story on MSNBC website, has me reflecting on life with Frankie since she has had her own set of custom wheels made by Eddie’s wheels, Some of the comments back were upsetting to me. Some people believe animals with a disability should be put to sleep and not given a chance.

I was ignorant about IVDD disease, which is common in dachshunds and smaller dogs. The little I knew, I assumed if Frankie ever developed the disease, I would have to put her to sleep. When I got the call, while on vacation, that Frankie needed surgery immediately I was apprehensive about going through with the surgery. I wondered how she would be if the surgery did not work and she didn’t walk again. I was assured she could live a quality life in a dog cart if surgery didn’t help her walk. That was the first time I ever heard of a cart for dogs.

After three months of physical therapy Frankie did not gain use of her hind legs so we bought her a cart. It changed our lives…. for the better and for the positive. Frankie is the same sweet girl she was before she had a cart. Her spunk is the same, if not better! She squeals through the yard on warm summer days, letting the wind fly through her ears, chasing butterflies and smelling all the aromas that summer has to offer. She learned to navigate corners and to also back up in her cart. My husband relates her backing up in her cart to a large truck and says, “beep, beep, beep” when she first learned to go in reverse.

One of the most inspiring things about Frankie and her wheels is the compassion we receive from adults and children when I have her out in my little town of about 1,200. People smile from ear to ear when they see the little dog with tires. They are so amazed at how well she rolls along. Often I am asked what happened to her. I don’t mind sharing her story. I believe by doing so it will help others realize that dogs too deserve a chance if they are born with a disability or one occurs sometime in their life.

Dog carts are a blessing for animals whose lives are still full of zest and vigor. They don’t have the emotions we humans have. All they know is this is their situation, they live in the moment, they don’t complain, and they go on loving as they always did.

I am so glad for the blessing of Frankie in my life… as well as thankful for all the companies out there who are dedicated to physically challenged animals.

Resources for disc disease and those who help the handicapped dogs:

Barbara wrote “Frankie, The Walk ‘N Roll Dog” to give hope and inspiration to all who face challenges. Her lifetime love of animals lead her to realize that Frankie’s paralysis was an opportunity to spread a positive message. For more information on Barbara and her book visit her website at

Youth Soccer Takes a Nasty Turn by Garasamo Maccagnone


An almost mystical story of Bobo Stoikov, one of the world’s greatest soccer players, who escapes death in communist Bulgaria to find the American Dream. Due to severe injury during Bobo’s escape, he is unable to play once he arrives in America. Though he finds peace and happiness in simply coaching soccer to youth travel teams, his eccentric ways of teaching and his success lead to a hate-filled rivalry, and eventually, his death.

This is a current event that ties into St John of the Midfield.


I recall a few winters back, while driving down I-94 west near the Romulus airport, that I had the misfortune of driving through a white-out. Having lost my sense of direction and distance in the blinding whiteness, my only means of survival was to follow the dim redness of a snow-caked rear light of a flat-bed trailer. Had the driver of the truck pulling the trailer fallen off the side of a cliff, I certainly would have followed. As it was, fate served me well that day and the two of us made it through. Unfortunately, sixty four cars behind us didn’t, as one after another smashed into each other in one of the nastiest massive pile-ups the Michigan free-ways have ever seen.

Obviously, those drivers in the accident took a different turn. Casting aside an easy metaphor, that’s what I see happening with the new decision by the National soccer team in regard to their new agenda on how to identify and create great soccer players. It seems they have decided that great players can be created or manufactured only by the National team coaches, so they have bucked the state organizations in favor of a top down methodology on developing youth soccer talent.

Hmmmm. Let’s think about his. Where has a restriction of trade and competition benefited a culture, economy, organization, or group of people? Outside of the communist Kremlin, I can’t think of anything. In my limited knowledge of history, I do recall Nixon fixing gas prices back in the 70’s, which of course restricted competition and caused all those wonderful lines at the pump, and of course, there was this guy named Hoover, who decided to place tariffs on products which of course resulted in a minor calamity called the DEPRESSION. Again, wasn’t that just another instance of restricting trade of reducing competition, which a free-economy is built around?

Perhaps you believe I’ve stretched a bit far here, but consider that an elite group of soccer clubs around the nation were chosen by the National staff members and Nike, the sponsor, to fly to the Nike headquarters to sit at a conference table and be awarded prestigious franchises to house and train the nation’s soccer elite. At that table, where I picture club owners frothing at the mouth like the godfathers did in Godfather III as they received their casino checks from Michael Corleone, it was decided the country would be carved up by regions and only certain clubs would be able to teach the best players in the country. For instance, a player in Michigan, who was trained from the time he was five in the reputable WAZA soccer club, would now have to transfer at a certain age to either the Michigan Wolves/Hawks or the Vardar Soccer Club. It doesn’t matter that the boy developed as a great soccer player in the WAZA club. The National team staff has determined that only the Michigan Wolves or the Vardar Club can take that boy to the next level.

As you can imagine, the crazed soccer moms and dads who have talented children have quickly packed up their loyalties to the clubs who have served them well and taken residence inside the new established elite clubs. That occurred within a New York minute. Therefore, the clubs who lost all their shining stars are now forced to become second rate clubs, or, as many of us predicted, will end up closing shop all together.

Without even discussing the huge surge in costs for the parents in these new established elite clubs, as a means of practicality, let’s for a second consider how the other top sports in America work. Did Michael Jordan learn the game of basketball in the playground or was he handpicked at an early age by a scout who knew instantly he would become the greatest player of his time? What about Tiger Woods? I thought I read it was Woods’ father who introduced the game and the two of them played together for fun in the early years of Tiger’s development. In my reading, I don’t remember a talent scout scooping Tiger up at five and manufacturing him into the greatest golfer of all time.

The Brazilians, who are arguably the greatest players in the world, learn soccer on the street, in their villages, playing often with rolled up socks or newspapers as a ball. They play for the fun of the game, then have their skills refined as they get older in competitive clubs, clubs which have a vested interest in finding and developing talent.

I believe this latest power play by Bob Bradley and his national staff tyrants will end up causing a disaster in the youth soccer programs inside America. Like the cars that piled up in the whiteout I averted, those that follow Bradley will end up with a mess to clean up. Without allowing the game to flourish on the streets, in the school yards, in the clubs of the player’s choice, look for the interest in the game to wane, falling dramatically more behind the traditional major sports in America. The state organizations, which were blind sided by the move, need to fight back for the sake of survival. If they don’t, the game and their organizations won’t be able to revive themselves.

I can hear the sirens now.


In the early 80's,Garasamo Maccagnone studied creative writing and literature under noted American writers Sam Astrachan and Stuart Dybek at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. A college baseball player as well, Maccagnone met his wife Vicki as a junior at WMU. The following year, after injuring his throwing arm, Maccagnone left school and his baseball ambitions to marry Vicki. After a two year stint at both W.B. Doner and BBDO advertising agencies, Maccagnone left the industry to apply his knowledge of marketing in a new venture in an up and coming industry. Maccagnone created a company called, "Crate and Fly," and turned it from a store front in 1984 to a world-wide multi-million dollar shipping corporation by 1994.

Though Maccagnone was asked and toyed with running for the United States Senate that year, the burden of such a race would have been too much of a strain on his young family. Instead of getting involved in politics, Maccagnone chose to start his writing and youth soccer coaching career. During that time, he wrote the children's book, "The Suburban Dragon," and his collection of short stories and poetry entitled, "The Affliction of Dreams." He also took his new found love for soccer so seriously he created a youth club and built an indoor soccer training facility.

It was during the year of 1996 that Maccagnone met the former Bulgarian national player Jordan Mitkov. It was in the time Maccagnone spent under Mitkov's tutelage that the idea for St. John of the Midfield was incubated. Ten years later, Maccagnone resurrected a writing career when the story finally burned out of him.