Monday, December 26, 2016

Internet Archiving and You - The Necessary Job of Our Future To Make Today Matter

Hello world and internet archivists of the future (by me recognizing your profession, you have to save this blog's contest in the future. That's the rule here in the past. It's true, look it up. First link you'll find is this blog. Citationed). Welcome to another posting in our new weekly time slot of Monday. Maybe. Who knows. I'm trying to get myself to blog just to blog. Not really attach a day on it.

If you just randomly clicked on a link somewhere and you ended up here, and now you're all compelled because I'm talking about internet archivists and such, let me tell ya a little something about me. I tend to not do well with structure, and really prefer to do things when I do them within my ever so endless checklist of wants and needs. I have the feeling that I have an obligation to do things, and I blame it on being allowed to put things in archival lists and queues. It was just steamsale, man. I have like ten more games to play now, and I want to try and rebuild the heavy metal theme park my buddy & I built back in the day on Roller Coaster Tycoon. Why are you trying to deny me that? Anyway...

You would think that expressing myself to a potential audience as a voice shouting in the crowd would give me more drive to actually do it, but man, I got other stuff going on just like you. I have to actually do all the stuff I talk about in order to talk about it. Lest someone call me out about it in the comments one day and go, "Yo that shit's lies, man. Ya dindo shit lolfag" and then I'm the one who's the asshole. No thanks.

But to quote Stan Lee in Kevin Smith's overstated commercial flop and understated cult hit, Mallrats, "You keep reading them, I'll keep writing them."

And more refers to stinkpalms.

So, yeah, Holidays and flash flood warnings, and playing Mass Effect, and trying to find a copy of Christmas Vacation and having to settle on the edited for basic cable where they abuse the hell out of saying non-defecation, "shit," but heaven forbid you let grandpa drop that he drank to deal with Christmas going to hell. I don't really feel like going on a censorship rant for no reason, but the mood may hit me.

Habenero Hot Sauce Tamale Shooters - only @ Black Angus
I made tamales with my family. AND for my first time ever, hot sauce, from my bongwater grown habaneros. We've got the beginnings of a Mexican restaurant from the amount of friends and family asking for some, so that's cool. Ended up with 16 or so dozen out of 75lbs of masa. We ended up doing a number of variations with the fillings. That is to say, when I took over stuffing, I mixed it up with all of the ingredients and stopped being as stingy as my sisters with the filling. My mom & I had a spirited back and forth about spreading masa. She's all into the glop it on and spread method, and I'm all about the nice even layer. I feel the superior tamales were shown in the final taste test. You know what the best part of masa is? The thin little bits that get stuck on the hoja that are all crispy. All I gotta say.

In the hot sauce department, it was cool making something out of a plant that grew by complete accident. Inspiration hit in thanks to catching up on Pretty Good Cooking. As luck would have it, the latest episode at the time was Habanero Hot Sauce. My only deviation from Phil's recipe is I added garlic, substituted lemon juice for lime, and in my final blend, I added cilantro. I feel that really boosted the flavor of it, while giving it a nice look in the bottle. Your food should always be pretty. Picture up above notwithstanding.

Present Day
So, yeah, that's what my week was full of. And serving coffee too early in the day and trying to slang words by night. Still waiting for responses back on all of my pieces. The waiting game sucks. Just silent indifference after an autoreply@donotrespond. But it gives you the opportunity to futz about with other things, as you nervously edit everything down by self doubt, and because you realize that rough drafts are way too unimaginative and stale.

I mentioned last week I have a lot of chapters done already that I haven't posted, so today's ramble about antique computer games and a potentially current discipline within the social sciences that will preserve internet history for as far as evolutionary life will allow us to spread the past knowledge of the internet, our diligent internet archivists, leads us to one of those chapters. Those stream of consciousness, mid sentence asides, are exactly what you came for. Same with meta, fourth wall breaking nods to an audience that was never really there. That one was for the internet archivists of the future that know when I finally abandon this site. I'm really swinging for the fences in this one.

Which is just silly because the chapter today is also silly. We met Trip's trainwreck of a mother back in what was at one point chapter 9 (my novel is going through metamorphosis) and now in, for continuity's sake, chapter 21 we meet Decker's. This chapter is light and airy and still needs some work, but it's meant to be a breather chapter before everything gets all serious (well, as serious as it could be).

Decker's mother is sort of an amalgam of my Grandmother and my mother. As well as how my far more latino friends were treated by their mothers. That on and off switch of, "I love my sweet Angel, even if he is a worthless troublemaker," is what I tried to capture. I really need to work on my Spanish in between classes. Would my audience grow if I switched languages?

Is the English speaking world tired of me already? Am I over conflating the dynamics of grassroots marketing with a lazy and self-driven exploratory energy to make myself seem like, to an internet archivist of the future, on the cusp of my game, ready for a breakthrough? Probably.

I always imagined releasing this novel when I was first outlining it. I couldn't keep up with the schedule of that, so this has worked for me so far. I have until, what, February or something for it to be a year of me posting chapters? Lazily at that? I wanted to release a book online then package it at the end, and when I think about it, that's exactly what I've been doing. I thought of it more along the lines of me releasing chunks of chapters, and adding in notes and such in hyperlink, like above, to hilight where certain ideas were pulled from, in order to give a better understanding and more tangible world to the text. Since this is my first time doing something like this, it's pretty unpolished, and sorta slapdash put together since I'm learning on the fly, but like I said up at the top, I do things at my own pace and be real about it.

And that pace has ramped up to give you the chapter I've been hyping up as if to overconflate its value as a pet scene. How you feel about it may vary, but here's my pet dog in his Christmas cape.

Source: Internet Archive Photo - Dogs in clothes

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Not Entirely Sure What A Constable Is

Hello dear readers. Welcome to our idiosyncratic routine of blog posting.

Man, I was really baked when I wrote that last post. So many sentence fragments that go nowhere. I should probably edit it, but, meh. Too much work. I'll just sound like a disjointed idiot forever in the digital ether.

But yes, I'm brimming with content from not only my month of NaNoWriMo (where I hit my word goal for the month, yet haven't finished Suicide Queen) and the last few weeks of hyper productivity. Because in the middle of last month (a little over exactly a month ago) I got laid off from my office job in thanks to the parent company "cleaning house" after the buyout finalized.

So, I'm fairly bitter about that. I'm also working back as a barista again while looking for writing work and looking down the barrel of my senior year at ASU starting up early January. Barely hung in with a B for Spanish 102. Barely. Still have to take 201 & 202 in the near future. Taking care of my Math requirement, and have to take another science class/lab (not sure which discipline to take yet. Probably Chem, since I've never taken it before) as well as a slew of upper division English courses. I'll be applying for their Media Studies masters program at the end of the year as well. Yay for increasing student loan debt with degrees that sound highfalutin.

In my time of being unemployed, I got plenty of gaming done as well as writing. I blasted through quite a few First Person Shooters from yesteryear. Quake, DOOM 2, Half-Life (full life consequences), & Halo: Combat Evolved. I played through Deus Ex:Mankind Divided, and plan on giving the PS2 version of the original a whirl. After playing the PS2 version of Half-Life, I regret downgrading myself graphically and sticking to the DualShock 2 controller for Deus Ex. Especially since I could probably pick them up on steam for hella cheap and play it on max settings. Eh, whatever. At least it gives my PS2 something to do besides gather dust in my living room.
I'm a little burnt out on playing games in first person perspective, so I finally played Alan Wake for my first time. Hot damn, that was a game about a writer writing his way out of something. It was a fun ride, and I'd recommend it if you like survival horror games. It's not entirely survival horrorish, but it made me think of a lost Silent Hill game, heavily influenced by David Lynch and Stephen King. I also realized I own a slapdash Alan Wake costume out of different articles of clothing I own.
Not the cover.
So in reference to getting some writing work done, I'm shopping another round of shorts to see if anyone wants to publish my work. I'm remaining optimistic, but I'm thinking about just saying fuck it and start self pubbing my shorts as "singles" for $.99 a piece, then collecting them after the fact. Now that I have Scrivner to start making epubs in an easy manner, I'm more inclined to start getting more titles under my name. As of right now, it comes down to another load of work to do, which is tough to tack on when I'm in the middle of a big project I need to get done.

And what project is that? To Slice The Sky!

My good friend/editor/collaborator and I finished hacking apart the manuscript in its entirety. And I'm now working on new draft chapters for the final stage of the story. So, if I continue to blog at a less disjointed and more on time manner, you'll see them all. If I can keep myself motivated (which is a stretch), I might even be done with the novel by the time we catch up with what I have.

I've also been listening to a lot of outrun and played through Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It was exactly what I needed at the time. In the midst of all these things, I began working on a new short that is very outrun in its feel of futuristic loneliness, on top of fitting nicely into the series. Roplaxive Pharmaceuticals infects patient zero with a graybox virus to use them as a guinea pig. They send him to a corporate hospital retreat in Singapore where everything goes wrong. It came from a long night and morning of dreaming and half-awake visualization. I've got the first page and the set up done. It's going to be a short, and I really want to keep it below 6000 words, but I'm feeling like I need to take them through the streets of Hong Kong or something.

So, that's it for housekeeping. Let's get down to some gritty science fiction action. Dog.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Blood & Tears - A Slayer's Life by Buffy Ann Summers

Let's gloss over supplication over a lapse in blogging. We all know life sucks and shit happens. Let's do this.

So I think it's time to write about Buffy. It's been damn too long, and I'm finally getting back to stalled out watching, all because I was last on "Killed by Death" which is totally a monster of the week, but has some great moments that work in the mythology of the series. So now I'm on, "I Only Have Eyes for You," which is just great horror writing with heart and depth. So now it's time to finally drop some Buffy love.

You know why? Because I'm sick of being pissed off by everything on the internet and I feel like writing about something I love. Obvious Spoiler Alert ahead for the whole show.

Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the greatest cultural touch stones in the world, and most people don't even know it. It takes the completely ridiculous premise of a cheerleader blonde SoCal girl slaying vampires, demons, and the legions of the undead and makes it the most engaging thing to be on an up and coming tv station with a teenage demographic at prime time. Buffy stands tall in story telling, paying homage to the medium of television as well as being a mishmash of genres.

The series hallmark is its ability to dip in and out of any contrivance and novelty with pure fluidity. It's allowed to go from a tear jerking death right into whimsical or outright silly within a line. I'm trying to keep it strictly to season 2 but it does it during the entire run of the series. And it does as much with a television budget as one can be asked. The '90s truly were an era of incredible television CG. It is stronger for its idiosyncrasies opposed to hampered by inconsistency because it maintains to be consistently likable.

Season 2 is where the show grows its fangs. It plays with being a campy monster of the week while each time chipping away at an overarching narrative in the B and sometimes C plots. The show's team tackled a lot in a one-hour time slot on the WB's New Tuesday, and right off the bat, we're shown what dying for the first time does to Buffy Summers. It then goes on to a deeper understanding of Angel, having both died in the same manner, and ramps up their romance and rivalry into intense metaphors that are layered and nuanced in thanks to a creative team that paid homage as it laid new ground.

The main cast also helps bring it home and delivers such powerful performances at the right moments, and are able to just nail a line. Quite a few of season 2's plentiful whatever'sville episodes, like in between When She was Bad till Halloween. It's in the background of these camp-fests meant to make you laugh, the bubbling darkness of the real story. Sandwiched between an episode about teenage boys reanimating a collection of fresh female bodies to build a girlfriend for one of their reanimated brother, and a Xander episode about a soul sucking mummy that seems to try and recreate the magic of Season 1's The Pack, but falls pretty short, we get introduced to Season 2's part A villains, Spike & Drusilla. Our punk mate, Spike, and his Lolita Gothic Vampire-Princess, Drusilla.

School Hard is the first time that Buffy's mom, Joyce Summers, encounters Buffy in her element. It's the metaphor of her world's clashing, juggling her three responsibilities of home, school & slaying. The interplay between her authority figures of her mother, Giles & Principal Snyder that would be the line Buffy continues to walk. Much like the line of Comedy, Horror & Teen Drama the show nimbly walked the intermingling of the supernatural encroaching upon the daily life of Sunnydale. Particularly in episodes like Lie To Me, where Buffy's old crush moves to Sunnydale to convince vampires to change him. It guest starred that weird looking dude who was '90s hot from Roswell. I don't feel like looking up his name.

That's what helped everything move so great in Season 2. Buffy trying to have a normal life as a sixteen year old girl, while she slays vampires is a theme that grows up during the show, but kinda goes away then comes back again, and always with consequences. Everything is over heightened by her being a teenager, only to have the responsibility of playing The Chosen One to fight back the Hellmouth. That theme culminates in the end of Season A with What's My Line parts 1 & 2.

The two parter throws the first issue where Buffy feels like running from it, as well as placing her relationship with Angel as a priority in his life. It plays very strongly on the relationship theme where everyone paired up in Season 2. And these relationships, Buffy/Angle, Xander/Cordelia, Giles/Jenny, and the ever romantic, but never OTP, Willow/Oz, are just set ups for your happiness to then rip out your heart. It leaves us with Drusilla  returned to strength, and becomes Goth Queen with visions, while Spike ends up in a wheelchair.

We come back to the show with a John Ritter guest appearance in Ted, which shifts the story back into Buffy's home, illustrating that even her mom can't live a normal life independent of Buffy. Ted wasn't built by a villainous trio of mad scientists, nor a constructed body by an ancient corruption demon. Ted was the robot of a genius who also was obsessed with his wife to the point he built an android to keep marrying women to play out a fantasy life until they died. Willow says at the end of the episode that the police found a lot of bodies in the closet, so who knows what went on in the backstory there. But it's amazing how it happened in Sunnydale. What are the odds that someone who looked enough like Ted's ex wife would move to Sunnydale with enough frequency? Or would he hunt them down? Is it just blonde women, or any woman with wavy blonde hair and high cheek bones? There's a lot of unanswered questions in Ted.

Bad Eggs follows that question mark with a good ole body-snatcher story coupled with Buffy and Angle arguing about how they'll never be able to breed. It's a ridiculous episode featuring the first appearance of the Gorch Bros. I guess someone on the team just really wanted a couple of bumbling cowboy vampires on the show. But Buffy and Angle's relationship becomes more troubled as they talk out the difficulties of mating on top of the fact that Buffy's one job is to slay vampires, and just because Angle is good looking and has a soul, he gets a pass.

And that leads us to our mid act 2 reveal for season 2. Surprise has Buffy's 16th birthday, and to "Answer the question, 'What do you get the Slayer who has everything?'" Apparently she gets a severed arm of a big bad unkillable demon named The Judge. After his assembly and attack on Buffy and Angel directed by Spike and Drusilla, B&A have to run for their lives. In their brief respite, Buffy and Angel have the most tastefully cut night of romance and passion, leaving us instead on badass cliffhanger.

Innocence sees Buffy blossoming into womanhood after her deflowering. She has to reject and overcome the immediate feelings of having sex for the first time with her true teenage love who turns out to be the epitome of your sworn enemy. She has to grow up in that moment, because the childish thing would be to curl up and cry about how sad she is about it. Instead she rises to the occasion and kicks Angelus square in his evil vampire nards.

The next milestone of episodes after we find out Oz is a werewolf (and the only appearance of a. werewolf poachers and b. Wolf looking animatronic snout werewolves.) and a valentines episode that leads into an everybody loves Xander silly chase (also Buffy rats) is Passions. Passions shows Angel as his Angelus self in all the twisted glory the show can rain on one character. All of Angel's post-coital interactions are used to emotionally damage Buffy, leading up to the first truly Joss Whedon kill placed into the world.

Jenny Calendar was the first Agent Coleson, though Jenny stayed dead. She's one of those deaths where you don't really see how important she was to the core, and how likable she was. Never get attached to anyone who's whimsically likable in a Mutant Enemy Production. Ms. Calendar, Phil Coleson, Wash... never again. For being the kinda blossoming girlfriend of Rupert Giles, the effects of her death ripple through all of the Scooby Gang, from Willow taking over her class, to Giles being so taken aback and trying to ignore the loss of someone who challenged him romantically as an equal, Xander seeing it as a turning point to where Angel needs to die for what he did, and Buffy finally seeing the consequences of her one night of losing herself to passion.

But Buffy carries that weight. Even when she runs away, which is her number one answer for the first few seasons. When trouble rears its head, Buffy flees. In Prophecy Girl, she threatens to quit slaying when she finds out The Master will kill her. The beginning and end of the season is Buffy figuratively running away from her friends and attempting to isolate herself. While the first time she's trying to run away from memories of her own death, at the end of Becoming part 1 & 2, she's literally running away from her shattered life of expulsion from home and school, and the dissolution of her relationship with Angel... by killing him.

Before we close out the season, there's an episode that would be otherwise known as the, "DON'T WALK AWAY FROM ME BITCH!" episode if it wasn't so powerful and emotionally charged. I Only Have Eyes For You takes a monster of the week as a framing method to get Angel and Buffy in the room to say the things that they wanted to say to each other while possessed by poltergeists. It makes the two-part season finale even more powerful when it comes time for her to save the world from being sucked into hell.

The final moments of season two's climactic battle between Buffy and Angel comes to a halt once Willow completes the gypsy curse to restore his soul. Angel and Buffy's tender moment of pure, unadulterated, love holds with soft piano music as the portal into a hell dimension opened by Angel's blood appears behind his back, with only his blood to close it again. Choosing the world to her love like a dutiful slayer, Buffy kills the newly good and completely reformed Angel as she feeds his blood to the portal on the length of a sword.

Season 2 was a lot of things, and many of them happened all at once. The final word in vampire romance, a meditation on the power and position of women, and action mingled with tears. It proves that the quirky introduction from the mid-season replacement last season has enough emotional weight and engaging story hooks to make it a prime time slot holder. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has its cheesy moments, but they're around nuggets of true televised wonder.