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.
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.