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Friday, August 24, 2012

Mailvox: on flaming swords

Kickass wonders about a well-known image:
Could I get an explanation on the flaming sword picture? I thought it was a joke but googled it.
I've  explained this before, but for those who didn't know, this picture was one of many from a Star Tribune photoshoot for an article one of its writers was doing about my Eternal Warriors novels. He moved onto one of the big New York papers before he'd finished the piece, if I recall correctly, so it never ran, but the photographer liked them so much that he emailed a few of them to me.

I still remember laughing when he called me up after the interview with the writer and asked if "my characters, like, did anything interesting?"  I mean, what was I supposed to say, no, they all sit around and discuss their boring lives?  He got really excited when I mentioned that there were these angels and they got in big battles with flaming swords, until he realized that he was, after all, dealing with a writer.  Which led to his next question: "You're not, like, fat or anything, are you?"  When I reassured him that I was not the pudgy little novelist he was expecting, he asked me to come down to the Star Tribune building in Minneapolis the next week and bring a sword if I happened to have one.

I didn't, but there was one at the house at which I was staying - we'd already moved to Europe  at this point - which led to the funniest part of the whole thing.  It was winter, so it was cold, but it was also a bright sunny day, which led to my walking into the Star Tribune reception wearing a long black overcoat, black gloves, black shades, with a shaved head and carrying a katana.  The two female receptionists freaked out and called security, at which point I explained the situation and the guards had a good laugh.

We didn't end up using the katana, however, as the photographer obtained a few swords from a nearby theatre as well as some flame-paste, so he just picked out a rather Conanesque sword, gave it a quick coat of paste, then set it on fire while I held it.  It was a little trickier than it looked because the burning paste tended to drip off, so I had to try to hold still for the photo while dodging the dripping flames at the same time.  It was more fun than the usual photo shoot and I shared the photographer's disappointment that the piece never ran.  The reaction to the photo, however mockingly it may be intended, only tends to show that his instincts were correct as it made for a much more interesting author's photo than most.

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62 Comments:

Anonymous TLM August 24, 2012 8:35 AM  

Much improved over that 80's band photo where you looked like The Fixx.

Anonymous Pablo August 24, 2012 8:46 AM  

The value of this photograph resides in how feminists who see it get oddly aroused but don't understand why, therefore you must be an a$$---e.

I take it SB carries a small copy of it in her purse?
If that was me in the picture, I'd be handing out copies to perfect strangers. DHV indeed!

Anonymous Zbignu August 24, 2012 9:05 AM  

Flame paste? I always assumed those were flames of righteousness.

Anonymous Josh August 24, 2012 9:11 AM  

which led to my walking into the Star Tribune reception wearing a long black overcoat, black gloves, black shades, with a shaved head and carrying a katana.

So, basically, the last big fight scene in the matrix, sans guns?

Anonymous Azimus August 24, 2012 9:17 AM  

Whoa I thought only the Yamato Class had 18" guns!

Anonymous Daniel August 24, 2012 9:49 AM  

The Red Star Tribune security guards weren't wearing Soviet-style ushanka hats were they?

Anonymous jack August 24, 2012 9:59 AM  

I've always loved that photo. Its in my collection. Maybe it could be used, somehow, in the new books promotions?

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 August 24, 2012 10:04 AM  

That should be your pic on WND.

You'll have more readers in no time.

Anonymous Daniel August 24, 2012 10:07 AM  

Oh, and flame paste on a real katana would have been an act of cruelty against the katana.

Blogger jamsco August 24, 2012 10:30 AM  

Vox, can you say - which house and what year?

Anonymous No_Limit_Bubba™ August 24, 2012 10:38 AM  

Flaming sword?

Yeah.... had that once (appeared about a week after a Gary North demo of anti-free trader's tactics...)

Penicillin put out the fire, if you will.

Anonymous VD August 24, 2012 10:47 AM  

I think it was right around the time Shadow was released, but I'm not sure.

Anonymous jm August 24, 2012 10:54 AM  

It seems fortuitous for you to make this post, as I was wondering about your interesting Twitter profile photo. Too much Mushroomhead?

Anonymous VD August 24, 2012 10:56 AM  

I was wondering about your interesting Twitter profile photo.

It just amused me to see how closely it resembled my old WND pic. They don't have a lot of songs that I like, but those that I like, I really like a lot.

Blogger Nate August 24, 2012 10:58 AM  

So VD...

When is the VPFL draft?

Anonymous VD August 24, 2012 11:05 AM  

I'm working on all that later tonight. Have to push it back from this Saturday because the WB won't be around.

Blogger Nate August 24, 2012 11:10 AM  

no worries.

Anonymous alexamenos August 24, 2012 11:15 AM  

You have a flaming hot, erect sword emanating from your crotch that you're grasping with both hands....

Surely I'm not the first to question the freudian implications?

Anonymous VD August 24, 2012 11:29 AM  

Surely I'm not the first to question the freudian implications?

Nope. But think about it. What other poses were really in play considering that FIRE WAS DRIPPING FROM THE BLADE? I mean, it's a little difficult to do the classic Conan or heroic Luke Skywalker pose when you're saddled by that little handicap.

Anonymous Daniel August 24, 2012 11:32 AM  

No swords, but Arcadia's fourth track on their only able probably accounts for this bit of flaming.

"To raise some magic wind in my world, strange coincidence each time you look my way, this sinking feeling scares me, you know my weakness. Call it deja vu." - John Scalzi

Anonymous No_Limit_Bubba™ August 24, 2012 11:33 AM  

Flaming sword?

Yeah....had that once. Showed up about a week after a Gary North demo on anti-free trader's tactics.

Shot o' penicillin put out the fire, if you know what I mean.


*Thought I had posted this earlier....but it disappeared (or I forgot to hit submit). Hope I haven't pi$$ed of anyone important....*

Anonymous E. PERLINE August 24, 2012 11:43 AM  

Didn't know VD was a promoter. Got some laughs out of it.

Anonymous antonym August 24, 2012 11:45 AM  

Do you have a larger version of the photo? The sword is a little hard to make out, the flames look like they're photoshopped in.

Anonymous D. Helmet August 24, 2012 11:50 AM  

I see your Schwartz is a big as mine.

Anonymous A.Handle August 24, 2012 11:55 AM  

Cool swords anyone?

Anonymous Spectator August 24, 2012 12:16 PM  

Needs more mohawk

Blogger Desert Cat August 24, 2012 12:24 PM  

Every time I see a photo of you it makes me wonder if the percentage of English blood in my family is underestimated. There are no Beale's in the "lost part" of the family that I am aware of, but if someone told me Vox was a long lost cousin I wouldn't bat an eye. You look too much like my Dad's side of the family.

No one has arms like that though. Heh.

Anonymous realmatt August 24, 2012 12:28 PM  


It just amused me to see how closely it resembled my old WND pic. They don't have a lot of songs that I like, but those that I like, I really like a lot.


What group?

Anonymous Clay August 24, 2012 12:32 PM  

Mushroomhead, realmatt.

Blogger Exarch August 24, 2012 12:39 PM  

You got some gunz Vox, you spent too much time at the gym. My peek was 2 hrs/6 days a week. And I'm not even gay...imagine if I was tho...erk

Anonymous patrick kelly August 24, 2012 1:46 PM  

Vox, what is the routine/diet/suppliments is responsible for them gunz? I've been doing almost exclusively body weight, core functional strength and conditioning exercises, have put on some good pounds, but I'll consider adding some weight training to bulk up the arms a bit if I can retain mostly functional strength.

Keep in mind I'm a bit older and likely more fragile than you.

Anonymous Noah B. August 24, 2012 2:10 PM  

Sword violence is not the kind of thing that should be trivialized, especially not with all the Keynesians who are being hacked to death with machetes in their villages lately.

Anonymous Daniel August 24, 2012 3:12 PM  

Lifting muscles are not bulk, Patrick, it's power. Weights are an old man's equalizer. I don't know what you mean by retaining "functional" strength, though.

Anonymous Joe Doakes August 24, 2012 4:02 PM  

So exactly what "recreational drugs" did you do in the bad old days? Lance Arstrong wants to know.

Anonymous Nate the Great Not The Rebel August 24, 2012 4:04 PM  

Vox, do you have a daughter? Make her post this on her Facebook page. "Um, guys, I'd love to date you but you have to get me home by 9:00. Really, you HAVE to."

Anonymous Josh August 24, 2012 4:05 PM  

I fail to see how benching 1.5x your weight is not functional.

Anonymous Larry August 24, 2012 4:39 PM  

Looks like lambda.

Anonymous DrTorch August 24, 2012 4:53 PM  

There can be only one.

Anonymous JI August 24, 2012 5:06 PM  

You're fairly photogenic for a typical beta male.

Anonymous kman August 24, 2012 5:12 PM  

I am tired of your pro-sword propaganda. Do you know how many people have died due to swords in the history of the world?! It's people like you that scare me and the rest of the civilized world. I weep for the future.

Anonymous Ulmer Miller August 24, 2012 5:21 PM  

So your appearance at the Star Tribune--was this before or after The Matrix?

Anonymous rycamor August 24, 2012 5:53 PM  

Desert Cat August 24, 2012 12:24 PM

Every time I see a photo of you it makes me wonder if the percentage of English blood in my family is underestimated. There are no Beale's in the "lost part" of the family that I am aware of, but if someone told me Vox was a long lost cousin I wouldn't bat an eye. You look too much like my Dad's side of the family.

No one has arms like that though. Heh.


I come from very English lineage. It's amusing to me how much Vox resembles pictures of my Dad and his brothers when they were younger. Not so much me, though as I got the more stretched-out genes from my Mom's side of the family (also mostly British). I inherited my father's short, stocky torso and my mother's longer limbs, so I do look decidedly funny when I get overweight and develop a gut (gone now, thankfully).

Anonymous Stickwick August 24, 2012 6:42 PM  

There can be only one.

Heh. There is a slight resemblance to the Kurgan in that photo.

I fail to see how benching 1.5x your weight is not functional.

There is a perception out there that big muscles are just for show, are not representative of fitness / strength, and inhibit functionality. Looking at stuff like this, it's understandable where that perception comes from. Guys like that move very awkwardly, and IMO they are not athletic at all. But on the more realistic end, all one has to do is look at sprinters and offensive football players to see that big, well-defined muscles can be very functional.

Anonymous Idle Lisper August 24, 2012 8:33 PM  

I just love it when a tough brute man plays with swords.

So long and hard. Handling it; poking around.


Hmmm. Acting like a big silly.

Anonymous Clay August 24, 2012 9:54 PM  

"kman August 24, 2012 5:12 PM I am tired of your pro-sword propaganda. Do you know how many people have died due to swords in the history of the world?! It's people like you that scare me and the rest of the civilized world. I weep for the future."

Forget Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Sigma....etc.

"kman" is an Alpha pussy.


Anonymous rycamor August 24, 2012 11:32 PM  

Stickwick August 24, 2012 6:42 PM

There can be only one.

Heh. There is a slight resemblance to the Kurgan in that photo.

I fail to see how benching 1.5x your weight is not functional.

There is a perception out there that big muscles are just for show, are not representative of fitness / strength, and inhibit functionality. Looking at stuff like this, it's understandable where that perception comes from. Guys like that move very awkwardly, and IMO they are not athletic at all. But on the more realistic end, all one has to do is look at sprinters and offensive football players to see that big, well-defined muscles can be very functional.


"A strong muscle is a big muscle."

-Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee wasn't your classic bodybuilder, but he managed to pack quite a bit of muscle on his slight Asian frame. Not many bodybuilders have a V-back like that.

He recommended avoiding grain and other quick carbs as bad "fuel for the body", and he had to grudgingly acknowledge that some form of dairy is pretty much necessary to build serious muscle. The historical patterns are pretty obvious: put your muscles under some serious strain (body weight exercises are a good start, but weights eventually become necessary), eat good protein, mix in some fats and dairy, good amount of greens (especially the dark leafy ones, and broccoli and cauliflower), and go sparingly on the sugars, grains, fruits and starches.

Anonymous kman August 24, 2012 11:41 PM  

Clay- you're just like your leader Vox. You care nothing for the children by promoting the pro-sword agenda! It's all hack and slash with types. And a FLAMING sword no less this time! How many people have to needlessly die with swords before they are banned? Won't you PLEASE think of the children?

Anonymous Kyle In Japan August 25, 2012 12:07 AM  

It's an okay picture. I prefer the 80s Duran Duran style Vox, though.

Anonymous realmatt August 25, 2012 2:21 AM  

Flaming swordfight.

Anonymous AdognamedOp August 25, 2012 3:30 AM  

I'd love to forge a sword one day but I just dont have the space or resources to do it just yet. I did make a couple of miniature swords using nails and scrap steel. They turned out pretty cool... Check it out:

http://i599.photobucket.com/albums/tt80/Opdawg/DSC00580.jpg

http://i599.photobucket.com/albums/tt80/Opdawg/DSC00502.jpg

Anonymous AdognamedOP August 25, 2012 3:34 AM  


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2zaDG6v_kI&feature=g-upl

Anonymous Idle Lisper August 25, 2012 4:08 AM  

Flaming swordfight.

Oh my Gah-wahd, you saw it too?

Vox is literally flaming. Someone call the fire department, the five alarm is in my tight manly pants.

Careful with the drippings, these pants were on sale.

Anonymous patrick kelly August 25, 2012 3:17 PM  

Maybe I should have been a bit more specific.

So far body weight exercises in a "burst" or "surge" like routine have built up my chest, abdomen, and back out of proportion to my legs and arms. Adding a bit more dairy to my otherwise paleo focused diet seemed to do the trick as far as actually putting a few good pounds on.

I would especially like to focus on bigger, rounder shoulders and biceps to start. My triceps are relatively large compared to those. As far as I can tell these are typical results from combination of varying types of pull ups and push ups I do. I'm not trying to avoid weights all together, but I'm looking to ease into them and focus on specific goal and would like a few tips.

Anonymous Kickass August 25, 2012 8:12 PM  

So this is your story and your sticking to it?

Anonymous Kickass August 25, 2012 8:17 PM  

I love this. Now quick, threaten not to sleep with him.

Anonymous Kickass August 25, 2012 8:20 PM  

My Dad, a long time body builder, says heavy weights low reps for size. I am off to do zumba and disapoint him again

Anonymous Kickass August 25, 2012 8:26 PM  

Vox, thanks for the explanation. Far fetched as it is. Off to light my sword on fire.

Anonymous rycamor August 25, 2012 10:59 PM  

patrick kelly August 25, 2012 3:17 PM

Maybe I should have been a bit more specific.

So far body weight exercises in a "burst" or "surge" like routine have built up my chest, abdomen, and back out of proportion to my legs and arms.

...

I would especially like to focus on bigger, rounder shoulders and biceps to start.


The old tried-and-true: back to basics, lift some weights. Curls (and some say to add cheat curls) with dumbbells and barbells, Bench press, military press, dead lifts.

The only thing to look out for if you haven't been doing lots of weights up until now: guard your wrists and elbows carefully. It might take several months before your wrists and elbows get strong enough to attack the serious weights. That was the mistake I made last year when I got back into lifting. My wrists took a beating and my left inner elbow is still giving me a twinge every now and then, Things got better when I scaled back the dumbbell routines and started over at lower weights, focusing on keeping wrists and elbows in control. I also tend to start every session with a few dumbbell wrist exercises, going in each direction for best joint mobility.

Blogger Markku August 26, 2012 8:13 AM  

Off to light my sword on fire.

STD's are nothing to toy with.

Anonymous Kickass August 26, 2012 12:52 PM  

Thats just flamable paste my friend. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Anonymous John Thomas August 26, 2012 4:10 PM  

So how about explaining the beaver pelt hairstyle pick that always gets posted along with this one.

Anonymous patrick kelly August 26, 2012 4:16 PM  

Rycamor, thanks for a response that was actually somewhat helpful.

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