Sunday, August 21, 2016

Take Meta Mars

I almost didn't blog this week. You know, like last week. But I have a lot of good reasons that don't involve wasting my time playing Civilization. Well, I did that, but I finally finished my chapter, did a ton of school work, fought with financial aid, had a busy work week, and am now sitting here with my dog, ready for the attack of the blog.

So yeah, in a nut shell, I went to work and got prepped for the starting of the fall semester. I'm currently halfway through Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. I first read it half-assed when everyone else was reading along to Huck Finn in English class. I didn't really enjoy it the first time around, but I also didn't really understand McCarthyism, nor did I really pay it much attention since I had to periodically pretend that I was paying attention. Now that I'm reading it with a contemporary mind aged about 18 years, I'm noticing more to it. Also, I've never really been too stoked on Bradbury from any of the other books I've read from him (Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, & Dandelion Wine) but something about this book this time around, I'm enjoying the poetry of Ray's prose. While it seems dated in some regards, particularly the romantic Mars of H.G. Wells and E.R. Burroughs, and the pre-space race knowledge of what it was like traveling to outer space, the novel has a certain charm, mingled with a 1950's paranoia and sense of blind optimism.

I don't care who you are, that's a sweet cover.
A Princess of Mars was quite a pulpy and overly dated adventure. Not like I could expect more from Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, but despite its shortcomings by contemporary standards, it still has plenty of things that awoke that boyhood spirit of adventure in me. Even if at it's heart it's a story about a Mary Sue former Confederate officer that basically wins everything on Mars by fortune and force of will. He teaches savage warlords how to love, he rises to the top of the civilized and technologically advanced army in one battle, he ends a bloody civil war, and beds the most beautiful and beloved princess on the red planet. All in a days work for our hero, John Carter. It's one of those stories about the white man's burden that really could be about anyone else, but because it comes from a time of social bigotry and backwards thinking, it's unfortunately really a book about systematic racism and power fantasies. However, it's also just a bad ass, ultra-violent, kinda ridiculous, tell not show, sword and sorcery romp on a dying planet, so it's technically science fiction. The main saving grace is the world building Burroughs does. The world of Barsoom and all it's rich inhabitants are just as much racial space opera expys as all the ones from Mass Effect, but I'll be damaged if they're not both dear to my heart. Speaking of Mass Effect, the Krogan are totally just shorter Tarks missing a set of arms. They even keep Caldor's, aka Varrens. Still, choice read if you don't want to think to hard and just get wrapped up in a dumb adventure story that's fun to read.

Besides my playing Civ (I managed to pull off a culture victory as Gandhi after having to eliminate Kamehameha since I didn't have enough time to wait for Polynesia to come under my influence) and reading Mars fiction, I've been overloaded with work from Spanish class. I wish I had a group of six other ethnically diverse people to form a study group and have wacky online adventures with. Maybe we'd even have a catchy theme song sung by some Alt Rock band. I would type something funny for you to toss into Google translate, but I'm sick of halbar EspaƱol for today, or however you conjugate hablar in Spanglish. I spent most of my time setting up all the ridiculous hoops one has to jump through when learning a language online for credit. The online third party site, with proprietary useless book that's a vessel for the $150 access code so you can participate in the class.

BTW, if you've been under a rock for the last few decades, higher education is a damn grift.

So, book reviews, life update, oh, right... novel chapter. So I just wrote today's chapter. This is essentially a first draft. Not really a rough draft, but definitely all new material that hasn't had much editing. This actually got an upvote on /r/cyberpunk_stories (which is standard), so I've got that going for me. We say it's not about the internet points, but how else am I supposed to gauge if I'm on the right track with the limited fanbase I'm shilling to?

So let's kick some tires and light some fires. Dog:

Monday, August 8, 2016

I'm writing the report.

Clearly my blog is less important than whatever videogame I'm playing all day.

Instead of writing yesterday, I polished off Resident Evil: Revelations 2 last night. So on the plus side, I get to mention it further down the page for your enjoyment. I spent most of last week at work and being really lazy. I tapped away at the chapter a little more, but deleted everything I added, which is something I rarely do. I at least have an outline for the action sequence coming up, but writing it is the eternal hard part. I keep prodding myself and convincing myself my deadline is a real deadline, but producing work with self prodding is left in the wake of fancy flights. And my flights of fancy? Watching TV shows and playing RTS games.

I'll rip out your heart with love!
Speaking of RTS games, I spent a better part of this week and last trying to gain access to my copies of StarCraft and WarCraft III.
 It was me going back and forth with Blizzard's lackluster ticket system to try and get my old account info tied to my new battle.net account. All so I could use my already registered CD keys from the discs I had when people still used CD-ROM's. So after constant pestering my request was granted, and I've been beating Orcs with a 2h Warhammer, "For Honor," ever since. It's a good thing Blizzard makes incredible games, because otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered being stonewalled and just called it quits on them forever. But they make games I really really like playing, so here I am, after wasting hours and energy from my day, playing a 13 year old computer game.

In other bouts of unexpected frustration from life, apparently the TAP cards for LA Metro fares have expiration dates. Didn't know that until Friday, when I found out my card I'd been putting money on for--apparently--three years, was no longer active with a freshly loaded balance stuck on it. Of course there's no easy way of knowing this. I didn't find out until it happened and did multiple searches (after checking the not at all helpful website on the back of the card) and read an LA Weekly article. The article also confirmed my suspicion that the city of Los Angeles has no intention of me seeing the remaining balance ever again.

But you know what, I'm glad those are the most remarkable hardships I had this week. Writer's block, sloth, persuading corporate employees to do what I want for videogames, and being cheated out of bus fare by an uncaring Department of Transportation. At least I'm no longer feeling the soul crushing weight of existential worthlessness laced around every moment of my day. I could be living in one of those villages where a warlord comes and chops off body parts from people and eats them to gain their strength.

My story has built empires.
Who knows, maybe we'll all be under police state martial law this time next year and I won't even be able to write this blog without heavy [REDACTED] sections. Who knows what kind of patriotism we'll be faced with in this dystopic future scenario? Dare we hazard guesses lest we speak them into being?

Many lulz were lost in The Meme Wars.

And speaking of nightmare scenarios, I I watched the first half of Buffy season 2. Basically up to the first two parter, What's My Line. I'm not sure if I want to do another review write up of it halfway through the season. I was planning on doing a two part season review, but it's been weeks since I watched What's My Line, and the analysis would be surface level at best.

That and I've been watching other TV shows in full/finishing up shows I've been hanging on. I finished watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force in all its iterations. Analysis: It is the most consistent show at being inconsistent. Basically after the movie came out till episode 100, the show isn't even playing hit or miss anymore. Some episodes are forgettable as hell, other's are clearly violence for violence sake, and the show is always that [adult swim] brand of over the top and avant garde humor/animation. It was an experience, and I'm glad I finally finished the show. Aqua Teen Forever.

I'm now watching Invader Zim on Hulu, because Jhonen Vasquez is awesome and hilarious. I'm exactly halfway through the show (and I love that Hulu has the episodes remaining counter now) having just finished the Halloween episode before I typed this sentence. Concurrently, I'm taking advantage of Animaniacs being on Netflix. It truly is zany to the max.

So, since I'm wasting my brain watching cartoons I used to watch as a child (well, Invader Zim didn't come out until I was already a legal adult), my ability to add any intelligent discourse to the topic of popular culture is wasted on the focus of Buffy at the moment. And when I do write my Season 2 review, it will give due diligence to a slice of culture. Like anyone cares about what I have to say about Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2 anyway. Am I going to crack open some secret gem that will make everything in the world make sense? Will I unearth some kind of metaphoric overlaying that is a reoccurring theme through all of human storytelling? Who knows, probably not. I guess we'll find out when we get there.

Oh, I kinda forgot to talk about REvelations 2.
Well, I definitely haven't cursed at the television like that in a while. The game's concept of difficulty fluctuates between overloading you with too much ammo that you can never conceivably carry with no enemies, and then waves of shooting gallery style moments where you have no resources whatsoever. While it encourages one to use resources available to you in the area, it leads more to headbanging do-overs because of bad misses at critical moments, or the trademark weak controls that has plagued the series since the original. Well, to be fair, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has really smooth combat controls for a resident evil game (which is needed since combat is intense and plentiful) but the contextual controls are wretched. Particularly near ledges, and any time you have to manipulate boxes for simple puzzles. Apparently the Revelations series is supposed to bring back the feel of  classic Survival Horror Resident Evil gameplay, and it has that in some regards. But both the first one, and the sequel still lack the atmospheric tension of the original that the REmakes hold onto. It relies more on the, "How the hell am I going to get out of this?" style gameplay, which has its fun and merits, but when I'm just trying to breeze through a game to see the convoluted story arc play out, dying a lot just keeps the ending away from me.

Anyway, here's a dog picture.
I get the feeling we've been here before.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The First Breath After The Coma...

I feel like half the openings of my blogs are me apologizing for missing weeks.

So, yeah, I was MIA. Not like I really have much of an excuse. I was at home for a couple weeks, being lazy and lethargic, and mostly playing Civilization when I was supposed to be writing. But life has regained structure. I'm no longer just a blob of matter that likes to day drink and play turn-based strategy games, I have dusted off the ashes and am in my reborn Phoenix form, ready to punch words at you like so many concrete blocks. KIYAP!

So, like I mentioned, I've mostly been playing Civ.
To think they adopted Tit Worship so early.
I've also plowed through a few other games, particularly the original DOOM, which I haven't played... since it came out on PC and had to be started with boot discs. If you're a faithful reader (and why would you be?) you know I'm fond of playing videogames in self-constructed sequences. So, finishing off DOOM was a part of my "history of the FPS" playthrough. Next up is DOOM 2, and I've played through the first few levels of hell on earth. I've never played DOOM 2 without cheat codes, so we'll see how this goes. The first game is actual genius. While Wolfenstein 3D is intense and has some survival aspects to it that add to its difficulty, DOOM is at some points a survival horror/ platformer/ FPS. There's a reason why every FPS that came out after was called a DOOM clone. The action is intense, the enemies are tenacious and frightening, it throws curveballs at you at just the right time. It's free form in regards to how you can attack combat. There's even stealth elements to it at times, and actual tactics you can use to make the game play in your favor, which are necessary on higher difficulties, which are absolutely unforgiving. And it's ridiculously ultra-violent and as overtly satanic as Wolfenstein 3D is overtly nazi, because shock value, like the dollar, had better mileage in the '90s. If you dig retro games, or if you're old enough to where me talking about this is giving you nostalgia, fire up a copy of DOOM. If you weren't counting, including this sentence, I said DOOM seven times.

I fired up the Vault-Tec Workshop in Fallout 4. Haven't really dug too deep into it. I'm building my atrium and have to clear out the rest of the workshops in Vault 88, I've assembled four brave young souls seeking solace from surviving in the Commonwealth. I plan on shooting at least one of them out of a canon into a rock outcropping. There's a lot of space to play with, so we'll see what kind of trouble I can get into as I become the ultimate overseer.

So I started up at the office last week and am acclimating to that environment. I feel it's going well, and everyone around me seems cool. But I always have that sneaking suspicion of paranoia that everyone is merely tolerating my presence while talking shit behind my back. Living in LA definitely breeds that into you. Every social circle is like a house in the great game of acquaintances. Because in the game of acquaintances, you win, or I am like totally calling everyone I know right now. Did you see her shoes?

So far I've gotten mostly compliments on my desk decorum.

Roll for initiative.
It's in its larval stage, and I imagine it will evolve into a sprawl of kitschy gifts and posters I'll receive on birthdays and end of year gift exchanges. Much like my fy-ance made the mistake of becoming a teacher, and as such will receive teacher memorabilia for her desk till the end of time. Gift giving is such a weird thing, as is nesting.

So, I kicked around a bit, avoided my blog for two weeks, started a new job, played some videogames, I watched the first half of Buffy Season 2 and will do my write up of it next week. In all of my confessed sloth, I've also been busy on rewrites for To Slice The Sky. I'm currently working on the subterranean fight scene I've been excited for/dreading. So far it's a lot of talking in the dark, but I'm right on the cusp of the climactic moment where all the world building and heavy handed class war metaphors pay off with a distraction moment. I should be working more on it, but I'm procrastinating with other duties at the moment. What that means for you? Well, the chapter I'm writing now comes after the one I just finished. So today is new chapter day! Yay!

Today's chapter is very heavily edited from it's original version. It didn't play too well when I posted on r/cyberpunk_stories either. But I'll let you decide how you feel about today's offering, after the dog pic.

80% of my life is spent sleeping in weird positions.

Monday, July 11, 2016

"I may be dead, but I'm still pretty."

Alright, let's try this again.

So yesterday I had to format my computer and restore from back ups, all from a virus I got back in April from a bad link in my French New Wave Film class. Had I done that from the getgo, I'm sure the issue would have been resolved easier than what it turned into. But the important part is I'm back online and ready to serve up blogoriffic action.

I haven't written much since the 2-fer last week, and that's mostly from a cavalcade of events that sprung up last week. My life has been event and milestone filled for the last couple of months, and the general shape of things makes me look like I'm doing things right. I finally secured a, "real job", and don't have to languish in a retail environment anymore. I just got engaged to my girlfriend of 6 and a half years. No date set, but everyone has ideas for plans. One of those things I suppose comes with the turf.

Where everything is colorful and fabulous.
I just got back from Palm Springs. We were celebrating my fiance's birthday, and graduation with her Masters in Education. I guess our engagement as well. As for my own schooling, I'm between sessions. Fall starts up middle of next month, and I have a stack of Martian fiction to read for a Science Fiction studies class. I've made a lifestyle out of reading and studying the shape and flow of science fiction over the years and now I'm finally getting some credit for it.

Now Kith.
In gaming news, I'm taking a break from Fallout 4 until the Vault-Tec Workshop DLC is released. I need to go farming to build my conveyor belt musical apparatus anyway, and that's more work than I feel like putting into a videogame all for the novelty of composing a song in the most complicated manner possible. If I understood Logic gates, I'm sure I could make a much crazier one than the one in my head. It's going to take an awful lot of time, patience, and copper. And I still have my "Machete" playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas I started now that it's backwards compatible.
Machete doesn't do rides. 

So in lieu of playing Fallout, I'm playing another Post-Apocalyptic FPS. I'm in the last third of Metro 2033, which I've been meaning to play for a while but kept buying other games first. I was doing a Fallout 1 playthrough, but with having to reformat, I have to redownload it from Steam, so until then, I'm getting my irradiated Russian mutant killing ya-ya's out. It's a pretty fun game, nothing ground
Moscow in 17 years.
breaking. I like the mix of FPS with survival horror where you really need to resource manage, and the staggering difficulty comparison between fighting humans and mutants is a great way to show narrative through gameplay. It's not the best game I've ever played, but I can see why it warranted a sequel (which I may play next).

In case you were wondering about my abandoned Resident Evil playthrough, I'm stalled out on REvelations 2. The game really does a great job of bringing the series back to its survival horror roots, but it also means I'm constantly out of ammo and healing supplies. Until I get better with the dodge and melee mechanics, I can see myself cursing at the TV much more next time I fire it up. I'm only halfway through episode 2. I still have episode 3 and the two DLC episodes to play. On top of RE6, which I've still yet to play more than Leon's opening missions. And now Resident Evil 7 is on the horizon, and the trailer looks pretty freaky.

For writing, I'm staring down the barrel of a fun car chase scene, and a complete scene rewrite/addition. It's been daunting, but during the rewrite process I've taken to rewatching one of my favorite shows of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And with this in mind, I'd like to invite you to follow me past the dog picture and page jump and I'll let you in on the results of the start of this rewatch.
You like what you see?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A savage journey to the heart of America.

Welcome, welcome. Come in, grab a seat, get comfy. Beer, wine, toad poison extract? Wow, gotta get my blogging fingers moving again.

So, last month was pretty non-stop action with some quick gasps for air. I unfortunately found zero success in my expected output endeavors, yet I managed to blossom in other manners. I went back to the Midwest to visit my dad's side of the family in the middle of nowhere southern Minnesota. I hadn't been back to the farm in about four years, so it was great seeing all my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents all over again. We ate great food, had stoic and reserved conversations that were rude enough for family but polite enough for company, drank beer, shot guns, rode four-wheelers, and blew shit up. Good old fashioned 'merican fun.

I really do love the family farm. I of course couldn't appreciate it when I was a child, spending my summer or winter break visiting my parents. I always managed to have a great time, and viewed the Midwest as a sort of safe haven from my wild and fast Southern Californian daily life. I never had to go to school out there, I pretty much got to do what I want, my dad works at a college, so I got to hang out in the library since classes were always out of session. Though there were a couple instances where I ran into cool Gen X college kids as a teenager, and I was deemed cool strictly by virtue of living in Los Angeles, versus Janesville, WI (home of Speaker of the House, and former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. I know where he lives. His neighbors had Obama signs in their yard in 2012). Those trips to my dad's house, and to my grandparent's farm, weren't always the happiest, as I've always been wrathful and sullen in sweeping fits, but I have far more pleasing, or at least funny, memories than a lot of moments back home in the San Fernando Valley. I guess I have a sort of Bob Crosby, "Way Back Home," mentality about it. Living through it wasn't as cool as I remember it, I'm sure, but being there now was the recharge I needed. And here's a bonus dog picture of my grandparent's farm dog Ben.
"I'LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL!"
Aside from family farm reunions and remembering fond times past of wasting away my days playing Doom and watching cartoons, I got a little work done on editing the first part of Some Call Me... Not nearly enough, but that was in part of enjoying people's company or being distracted by fleshing out other shorts. Well, and popping a Xanny bar on the flight to Chicago. At least I slept a little. I started a new short while sitting at LAX, waiting to take off. Then another as I was in the middle of my layover in Chicago watching Golden State do well while at the bar, but then lose it when I wasn't looking. Not that I'm a super sports guy, but it was a good game of basketball with great room energy (only myself and some dude in a Seahawks hat were repping for the West Coast), and those moments of social effervescence are magical and unique and we as a species should cherish them when they happen. However, once I left that bubble, I remembered I was in O'Hare International Airport, and that place chokes on boners.

In videogame news, I've mostly been building shit in Fallout 4 with the new DLC stuff. I've built myself a bunch of cool settlements, but that means I now have to venture out into the Commonwealth to scavenge more garbage for building components. I've noticed that my entire point of Fallout 4 is to get every single person to think that I'm the nicest guy ever because I murdered everything around the shell of a former town and built up a bunch of shanties with sleeping bags and mattresses, telling people to sleep in huge communal rooms surrounded by automated laser turrets. And I expect them to be happy on top of that. Really only whatever settlement I choose to live in ever gets any cool decorations. But that's because A) I only have so much time available to pointlessly build virtual things no one is ever going to see besides me, and B) I learned the hard way that when you force the game to load so many random items (that you spent hours carefully manipulating into place to give the illusion of life and function to this environment) it starts crashing all the time.

So, yeah, because my game kept crashing on me, I had to pack up and move from my old, super awesome spot, at Coastal Cottage:
Can you believe they're just giving these away?
I support being in control of the guns.

Participant trophies
Support your Local Comic Shop.
Just like the White House.
And now I'm rolling deep at Red Rocket filling station. Yes, I'm showing pictures to validate me spending time doing it:
Open for business.

"Come on, The Cheat. We're blasting off to the MOOOOOON!"

The Blaire Witch must have been here again.

So I went back home, built a bunch of fake buildings that wouldn't pass code, and I wrote the beginnings of a couple short stories. I've also started rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and will be posting season recaps. I don't know if I'm going to do them at a whim on this blog or include them in my weekly posts, but rewatching season one, I have to gush and groan about it. So if I make a surprise post before next Sunday, it'll probably be that. I've noticed that every episode has something redeeming in it, which is appropriate with redemption being a running theme of the series. I can't wait to gush on about it.

But this week is reserved for my own works. In the last three days I've gotten out two quick chapters of To Slice The Sky. Draft two of chapters 12 and 13 are complete, and They're coming up right after this dog picture.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Neglection

Last week and this week were full of hard work, setbacks (the posted chapter today had to be re-written twice since I lost about 2 hours worth of work one night because of it not backing up to my cloud storage) and Fallout.
I finished the Far Harbor DLC and have been wandering around the Commonwealth in my dapper suit, topped in a black fedora and glasses. I've been making tons of Jet, since I have nothing else to use fertilizer for, and been peddling it around, making a ton of caps. If you're huffing Jet in The Commonwealth, it's most likely been cooked up at my chem station. So, essentially, I've become the post-apocalyptic Heisenberg. I am the danger. I am the one who knocks.
Been plugging away at school, managing to keep my grades up. I've been reading Babbitt for class, and the satire is all too real in this day and age, which saddens me because it means it was all too real in 1920, which means it's been all too real for a while. In this election year, all it's been is soul crushing image after soul crushing image, with fears being tossed about like bad race slips. My disillusionment with the political landscape of America is back in the red zone, and that's all the political talk you're going to get out of me.
This is the last chapter of To Slice The Sky I'm going to be working on for this month. I'm switching gears completely to try and shave down and edit my NaNoWriMo book, Some Call Me (Steampunk Django on Mars) since tor.com has opened up unsolicited submissions again, and they're particularly looking for Space Opera and Cyberpunk. While they won't accept anything that's been published before (so By Starlight was out), I feel that Some Call Me has enough elements of Space Opera, with punk grittiness, to qualify. If not, it's not like I'm not used to the, "It's not quite what we're looking for".
So, without further ado, here's your dog picture:
The American Pit Bull Terrier Dream

I wish you wouldn't use me for page views.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

This is a trick

OK blog. You don't like me, and I'm indifferent about you, but we're going to get through this week if you like it or not.

So this week was one full of uplift, upheaval, realignment of goals, and a shot in the arm for creativity. I'd rather not weigh in on the heavier aspects of it, because, well, this isn't a private blog for me to boo-hoo and say casually offensive things about what makes me angry. This is for the hypothetical future fan to stumble upon, and have enough time to kill and read back entries, and think, "Oh, cool, so this is where that part came from."

Or, I don't know, something like that. That's what I do when I look at people's websites. I creep. But that's the type of guy I am, a creeping voyeur who thankfully has an internet connection and doesn't have to stare into people's windows. I'm simply fascinated how varied people live, and have a generally curious nature. At least I have the good sense to people watch in a way where they don't know I'm staring at them. You know, like a polite creep.

There, I avoided telling you something personal with something else personal. I hope you're satiated hypothetical reader.

Anywho, this week was full of getting writing done, both for school and for rewrites. I'm trying to pick up the pace and make up for lost time a few months back. I've been watching Batman: The Animated Series and Superman Adventures concurrently on Amazon Prime. I've watched Seasons 1, 2 and half of 3 of Batman so far, and the first for Superman. I'm normally not much of a Superman fan, and find it difficult to find him interesting, but the Animated Series version works for me so far. It was a pretty solid first season, not amazing, but good. I do enjoy a little more depowered Supes, since I feel everyone just goes right to invincible and can punch a planet type power level, and that stuff doesn't excite me. I did quite enjoy the Lobo episodes. I recall enjoying them when they aired as well. But Lobo is the main fraggin' man, so there is that.

And let me confirm your suspicions, I did get the idea of substituting fuck for frag partly because of Lobo. Also from the old term for deathmatch kills and fragmentation grenades. Skag is '70s slang for heroin, which I've never done, but I think it makes a great defecation word too. Now that I think about it, I think I heard skag used in some show I watched recently. Can't recall which one, but it'll come to me.

I also just started playing Rock Band 4 again, now that the songs from 1-3 are available. I have so many songs already, and there's even more that I still want to download. Rock Band really is one of my favorite game franchises. I've had so many magical moments playing that game with friends, and moments in the middle of parties getting everyone singing along and having a grand ole time. And even playing solo, it's just a fun damn game. It combines two of my loves of music and videogames, and it's one of the few games where I haven't gotten worse at it with age.

So after all of that, here's your dog picture and chunk of story. Chapter 11 is very close to being done as well and may get sandwiched into this post. Later skaters.