My first post of 2016

Hello ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, it is I!

“Wait, it’s the 25th of January, how are you just now posting and are so handsome?” You might be thinking to yourselves, maybe not so much that last part, but still, a man can dream…

The reason why I haven’t been so active here is because over the course of December, as we closed out 2015, I came to realize that I was working a lot and not spending as much time with my wife. With every New Year, you set yourself almost the same goals:

  • Write a novel
  • Get published
  • Finish something
  • Learn how to be a blacksmith

And while those are worthwhile goals, many of us get caught up in the minutiae of trying to achieve these goals and zone out on everything else. You write everyday, post everyday, engage your audience, but the ability to be present with your loved ones is usually not a goal people set for themselves.

Except that’s what I set for myself this year.

My wife and I are expecting our first kid, this will literally be the last year it is the two of us and I want to make the most of this by sitting on the couch and binge watching The Flash and reading. Many would think that we would travel and such, and we are going to do that, but the important part of any relationship is being there for the small moments that are forgotten or blur together in the great links between the show pieces that stick in the fabric of our memories. Those small pieces are what help build up to the larger, more grandiose moments that every movie or TV show makes you think should happen on an almost daily basis.

And it was something that I was sorely missing out on last year. So, I decided to still rock the shit out of my writing and creative projects, but do them in concentrated bursts. Does this mean the blog is dead? No, the blog lives. Long live the blog!

It does mean that whatever work I push out will be higher quality rather than quantity. I will be writing everyday in February moving forward, but I am going to be making time for my favorite human in my life everyday as well, my wife.

P.S. If you vomit because of this post, I understand, but do not care.

Fallout 4 Entry 1- Minuteman Bang Bang

We all know the story, scared people running governments with supplies dwindling that ended in atomic fire. Great way to start summer. Hot enough already, but hey, let’s be stupid and add more heat to the surface of our already hot planet.

I could go over the details about who I was before, but those don’t matter here, it is what I do that defines me.

My name is Nick and I live in a Red Rocket gas station with my dog, Dogmeat. It’s a name, nothing morbid about it, but it fit, you know? Also, he wouldn’t answer to any other name I threw at him, so there.

My days are rather routine, go out there, get stuff, bring stuff back, make things. It’s a rather mundane existence, but in this world, I’ll take it over having to deal with slavers or ghouls. Sometimes those bastards pop-up, and when they do, I put them down.

Today was just a day unlike any other, I needed some copper for wiring so I could get my generator connected to my call beacon running and start to attract some local employees. Getting staff in this day and age is just atrocious! And you can forget about checking references because more than likely they’re dead and phones aren’t really a thing. I had an idea of making the Red Rocket to be a kind of farmer’s market for the traveler looking for food that won’t make them grow a third arm or an extra set of balls.

That’s when the minuteman showed up. Said he was looking for some help. I usually don’t talk to door-to-door salesman, but then I remembered that profession probably hadn’t existed in 200 years, so I addressed him.

There was a settlement being harassed by some raiders. Said they needed help. I usually brush off this kind of non-sense, I mind for myself and I at this point in my life; but that’s when the old woman spoke. She looks blind and high, so typical of most who wander the wastes for too long, but she said that I would find the man I’ve been looking for.

“A man who owes you.”

I dropped everything, joined the minuteman, and made my way to the Corvega planet in Lexington, I killed everything in my path that so much as hissed or growled at me.

I never saw the plant where they made Corvega’s before. I heard when you buy one you can pick it up from the factory and road trip it back home. Now, it’s full of raiders who are active readers of the famous cookbook How to Serve Man.

I showed them how I serve dinner: I started with a shotgun appetizer, followed by the main course of 10mm bullets, and topped off with a mini-gun surprise! The surprise part came in the form of an explosion that wrapped the head of the raiders in a fiery blanket of death as I unleashed a storm of bullets that tore through some canisters sitting around the factory.

After the killing had been completed, I found the rat bastard among the dead. Could hardly recognize him, but when I found my alien toy on his body, I knew I got him.

I might have some anger issues, possibly some slight problems upstairs, maybe. Only thing that matters is I got my toy back! Teaches him to borrow and not return! You know what you get when you do that? Shot!

I went to the settlement being harassed and told them the bad guys were very much dead. They mentioned something about joining the minutemen, and we parted ways…after I took some gourds to start my farm.

Business is looking bright, but the copper I need is still out there somewhere. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get it.

Why the Oxford comma is the best

The future is an interesting place to live because while we have magical techno-wizard tablets in that fit the palm of our hand, and contain the sum of human knowledge, we are still puzzled by questions like: “Why does it rain right after I get my car washed?”

No matter how ‘progressive’ you think you are you probably still have a foot in the past in some shape or form.

My old timey love besides working with my hands, no bloomers on the beach, and bottling my man tears in case of a drought is the Oxford comma.

For those of you who do not know of this simple yet elegant tool, the Oxford comma is the comma that appears before ‘and’ ‘or’, or ‘nor’ at the end of a list. It is used to keep the universe of words in order and to allow a reader to time their voice with the end of a list; which can give them a more natural sound when finishing a list rather than a dead stop. The Oxford comma is the human element in a medium that can be cold and black and white with no gray in-between; unless you are reading on a Kindle.

It’s been around for a century and for some reason modern style guides for ‘professional’ writers state that this comma is an abomination, and must be snuffed out. They claim that the comma causes confusion and ambiguity and should be done away with so that the simple ‘and’ can act as the break to a list. They see the narrative as a cleaner state without it and it saves space.

They claim this because they are stupid.

The Oxford comma is, like I said, the human element in writing. I say human because humanity is messy, crazy, beautiful, and awesome. Our lives are bizarre messes on the canvas of the world and each piece completely different from one another. We should be embracing this mess rather than suppress it, and that’s what the Oxford comma does, it allows humanity to appear on the page.

Granted, in the 17th and 18th centuries, grammar and punctuation usage was out of control (See The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman). Through the years we have figured out the proper use of punctuation and have paired that down into the simple and elegant forms we have today. The Oxford comma is one of the last outlandish punctuation’s out there.

Why outlandish? Because it is technically true that you do not need it. It is a flourish. An extra keystroke that is unneeded in today’s world of foodie blogs and unchecked facts that circulate as news.

Just because something is technically true doesn’t make it correct, at least in writing, in science not so much. The beauty of writing is knowing the rules so well that you can break them in tiny pieces and watch those who love rules cry.

I’m not saying that the Oxford comma is this renegade punctuation or something, but rather it is like that old man sitting on his porch and flipping off people who are trying to tell him that bacon causes cancer. He knows that he can do without it, but life wouldn’t be worth living at that point.

Back to the Future- Why we need it

The Back to the Future series has a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of millions of fans around the world. It is a film series that has struck a cord with anyone who has ever set eyes on it. The music, acting, story, and car make this series an amazing mix of awesome that we have yet to see again. After 30 years, this film still gives kids and adults alike chills when they are watching it, which begs the question: Why?

Back to the Future sticks around and is so good because it has hope for the future.

We live in the future, it’s 2015, and in a few days it will be the 21st of October 2015. The film predicted that we would have flying cars, Pepsi would be perfect, and yes, we would have the damn hover boards too. When it made these predictions the film was looking at how humans came to the present when it was made and assumed we would keep on dreaming toward this better tomorrow.

Only, that tomorrow never came. Granted, the movie didn’t see the events of September 11th coming either, but neither did we as a country and world. Since that day, our future has been one to be afraid of in film, books, and comics. The future isn’t a gleaming ball of hope, and granted in Back to the Future 2 it had its problems with gangs, terrible neighborhoods, and cross-dressing Michael J. Fox’s; but the difference between BttF and today’s films is that the future is something to be excited about and race toward.

You look at most of the sci-fi genre today, you are looking at teenagers in awkward haircuts and strange love triangles (Seriously, how is this still a thing? Just pick the dude who doesn’t suck. There, you win.). The Martian is the closest, in my memory, to a sci-fi film that wasn’t completely depressing from beginning to end.

Booting up any of the three films, you immediately get the sense that we are going on an exciting ride. That we are going to go on some amazing adventure that will never forget. We live in a world that would make Marty and Doc Brown depressed to see, and to me, making these fictional characters depressed just saddens me. That level of sadness would be on par with disappointing Mr. Rogers, which would be crushing!

The world that made this movie was looking forward to innovations and technology that would push humanity toward a better future. At some point, that world changed and we have been worse off ever since. Every day someone somewhere is talking about the end of the world instead of the fact we found water on freaking MARS! People fret over elections with people running in it that talk about nothing and are surrounded by a media that spins everything into a doom storm of lies.

We have electric cars that cost pennies to run. We have power plants that are run by wind, solar, and water. We have fuel sources from hydrogen power to gas made by algae. We are currently finding out more and more about the human body, our planet, and the universe at a rate that is gonzo!

And yet, we will worry ourselves into the smallest corners when something bad happens. When new ideas come up, we shake our fingers at it and smash our heads into the sand.

Today, more than ever, we need Back to the Future. We need it because we need to be reminded that the future is worth fighting for and that it should be a hopeful one and not a bleak landscape. We need these movies to remember that even when we make a mistake, we try our damnedest to fix it.

This world can do with more Doc Brown’s and Marty’s in it.

Buy my book.

On Writing- Writing Shit

Writing, like any other art, takes loads of practice in order to improve and by practice I mean writing lots and lots of shit. You can be a veteran writer and still churn out crap like a year one typist. You can pound at the keys for hours and forms words into logical sentences, but it will still suck.

And that is part of being a writer and it will never go away.

This kind of process, the process of knowing that you can write well but when you press your fingers into the spine of the keyboard you find the stuff on screen isn’t even fit for a garage sale sign.

Though that would be a bizarre sign, “Come on by for the shit! Lots of it!”

What breaks many people from doing this job consistently is what happened to me last night. This very situation occurred to me as I was trying to finish a short story. I got about half-way through, looked at the words, and was just disappointed in what I had written. I wrenched myself from the keys, looked over the moors, and threw my glass of sherry against the manor window as I pondered what kind of God would give me such a curse!

It wasn’t porn or anything, though I sometimes wonder what that would look like, maybe people having sex on top of balloons or something? That would have been an improvement because it would have at least made a laugh and the one thing I pride myself on is the ability to make myself laugh at my own writing. This may sound either psychotic or extremely prideful, but a good measurement of any kind of comedy is whether or not the writer creating it can laugh at it. You are you’re first audience and if you aren’t laughing at the scene with the scuba driver running a driving school in full underwater gear because he is afraid of his students driving them into a lake and drowning, then no one will.

Last night I wrote terribly, does this mean I am done with writing? No. If I was so easily broken I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have in my career. This goes for you all too, because if you hit the wall, which we all do, it’s your choice whether you are staying glued to it or peeling yourself off and having another go at making a hole in it!

You are going to get torn down by anything with a set of lungs, including yourself, so if you ever stop because of any of them then you never were a writer in the first place. Writing is pressing on, and those who don’t become telemarketers!

The Martian- Some thoughts

Let’s get this out of the way, I love Ridley Scott and most of the films he has made, so it’s a safe bet that I was going to really like The Martian at the very least; but I loved the movie.

Now, I know everyone on the Internet is in a giant warm bubble as the film apparently hand wrote a love letter to science using the finest words in the English language. And I do give the film a lot of credit for being what I thought was very accurate account of a man trapped on Mars, but that isn’t what kept me engaged and to sum up the film as a giant love letter to science would sell it short.

What keep me going and what made the film so good is the fact that it was made up of characters whose motivations we understand and are trying to get a job done. These people are just that, people. The head of NASA could have easily been the biggest asshole in the film and if this movie wasn’t adapted by anyone else other than Drew Goddard, he probably would have been. The Martian is a rare film where the makers of it and the studio who produced it were on the same page. No one sat there and said, “Hey, we need to dumb this down for audiences.” and if they did they were obviously, and thankfully, ignored.

This movie does something that no other film has done in a long time, and that’s to treat the audience like an adult rather than a teenager. We don’t get the authoritative dickhole head of NASA, we don’t have a stupid mutiny against the mutiny petty plot on the Hermes, or a potential love triangle between the mission commander and Watney and her S.O. on Earth. We are along for the ride here. We don’t get twists out of no where because of someone cock blocking the plot because reasons. The main enemy in this film are the laws that govern our lives, specifically gravity, thermodynamics, physics, and the uncaring vastness of space.

Are there any problems with the film? I think the extreme use of tarps might be a bit exaggerated, but again, it is plausible.

The one thing that stood out to me in the film was the lack of repeating information, which was amazing to witness. In my own writing, I do not have a scene where the plan is explained to the reader and then repeated again to the character who isn’t in scene, and they do that in this movie multiple times. Films have done this in the past, but for some reason recent films decided to pad their times with scene after scene of unnecessary information exchanges.

To sum up, The Martian is a great movie because it treats us with the respect that if we have any questions we can just go out and read. It doesn’t hand hold and it doesn’t over explain, it tells a human story that we all can connect with and understand.

Lastly, spoiler alert, Sean Bean’s character’s career does not survive to the end of the film.

Dystopian Job Titles

As the world marches toward its Calvinistic end, where Applebee’s is fine dining, new economies will emerge and with these economies new jobs will become available. In this blog post, we will cover just a few of these job titles and what their duties will include.

Influencer

Description: A person who goes around and influences decision making by taking on the role of being a friend you will never meet.

Method of delivery: Video, audio, social media and blogs.

Statistical chance of this being real: 100%, because it is already here. You can find job titles with this name in it and these people do exactly as it sounds, they influence you. They tell you what they think and influence you to think along with them so that all of mankind thinks rompers are a good idea. Usually they are very personable and come off as being genuine as they talk to a camera lens and think the object to be human.

Fact Engineer

Description: Someone who creates facts.

Method of delivery: Anything that will make people see their viewpoint is wrong.

Statistical chance of this being real: 95%, this is different than an influencer because a Fact Engineer is trying to make you change your mind on a core belief rather than make you buy something. They will do this by using statistics they’ve made up and by writing hyperbolic articles that will cut straight through the Spam and into the point of their argument. They will post this information on websites, in emails, and in newsletters that look professional. Professionalism is the weapon of choice and the ability to show people’s opinions as fact in order to push an agenda that means nothing.

Social Terrorist

Description: A person who is hired out by corporations to go into a rival’s community and cause unrest by either spreading misinformation or getting people upset over nothing and dissemble an online community.

Method of delivery: Community forums and social media

Statistical chance of this being real: 85%, the first thought is to think that this is a paid trolling job, but it isn’t. This is something more than mere trolling, these people will come into a community and make it turn on the people who put it together. Their job isn’t to joke and have fun, but rather to destroy. And as more and more business are trying to create an online presence, this type of corporate sabotage will be highly sought after.

Dietary Regulator

Description: A person who tells you what is poisonous for your body today and great for it tomorrow.

Method of delivery: Short video clips on social media sites and blog posts containing infographics.

Statistical chance of this being real: 75%, because we already have this flip flop mentality of what is good and isn’t already in our modern media channels. This position would make that information appear and change at an almost constant rate, making the idea of cooking seem like an ancient Mayan ritual. The person in this position will just tell you how eating a specific brand of frozen food will just make life easier and better. Coincidentally, that brand will also be a sponsor of their show.

Guilt Layer

Description: A person whose job it is to make you feel bad and not want to do anything.

Method of delivery: Social media and video posts with some haunting piano music.

Statistical chance of this being real: 70%, and the reason for this high percentage is that many of us already deal with this guilt. It comes in the form of seeing how your pithy problems are well and truly bullshit, even when they are not. Granted, dying in a 3rd world hell hole sucks, and so does getting your hand cut off in the 1st world, but that kid looking at the camera has given up on life and you’ve done nothing for them except lose your hand in a bread slicing accident. How dare you feel bad for the loss of your limb when you’ve done nothing for those in countries you’ve never heard of you piece of shit. Now go watch some cat videos to make yourself feel better while real issues that you can actually do something about slip past your guilt ridden mind you selfish ass!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour through a possible dystopian tomorrow! If you want to know more about the destroyed future, please read my blog post on THREE SIGNS THAT YOU’RE IN THE APOCALYPSE!

Get a Job! Santiago- Old Man and the Sea

Name: Santiago
Job: Fisherman

Santiago is a fisherman in the strictest sense of the word, he makes his living at it, but for 84 days he hasn’t done this very thing. Looking over the story of the formerly banned book The Old Man and The Sea many a reader would think that this evaluation is an open and shut case, be that as it may, let us see if Santiago should keep his job.

1. Patience

A fisherman must have patience when they are out at sea. Start fishing too soon and you scare the fish, too late and you miss them completely. The fact that so many people hate doing this is why they stay away from it entirely. Fishing, while peaceful, isn’t for everyone.

Santiago has patience, almost too much, after 84 days of not catching anything he should have moved on to another profession like becoming a cobbler or maybe a social media manager.

2. Strength

Leaving industrial fishing to the side, actually fighting a fish on a line takes a lot of strength. There’s a reason why most fishing line can hold 500 pounds, its because physics is a bitch, and that fish doesn’t want to go where so many have never returned.

Santiago fights this giant fish, single handedly, for three days. Three days! To train for something like that today would take weeks on a Shake Weight, because our modern bodies are spongy and soft.

3. Luck

A fisherman can stack the odds in their favor by using technology to track the fish down and bait the hook, but no matter how many times they radar the water, they still might not catch a fish.

Santiago is carved from a slab of wood that was unlucky enough to be cut down in the first place and was sent to a mill to be made into boards, but the place burned down during the cutting process. Luck ran away from him like an atheist from church and it was so bad that people from the village were afraid of catching it.

Should he keep his job?

Santiago sure as hell should! Why? Because he is a fisherman in ever sense of the word. Sure, he didn’t wind up being able to profit from the fish (spoilers), but he still caught it and brought it into town.

Now, get this man a Bass Pro Shop sponsorship and a tie-in video game!

How to ellipses

In our modern day world, we use typing and writing now more than ever in our daily lives. The average person texts more than 3 billion texts a week, I know this as a fact because I made this figure up, but it doesn’t lessen the fact that writing is very important.

Now, clearly showing the facts that writing is important, I have a bone to pick with a lot of you. You see, you think you know everything, you know the stock market will yo-yo and yet you are surprised when it dips? You know every single time we have a presidential election the people running in it are going to say, do, and say some more, the shit you want to hear; and yet you get up in arms about who it is you aren’t head over heels in love with during this rinse, lather, and repeat process.

What you do not know is that when you improperly use an ellipses when you text me, I get just that much closer to sending your ass off to Krampus for Christmas!

Ellipses is a form of punctuation and it is used for a number of formats:

AP Style- To show a quote continues either before or after the mentioned portion.

Fiction- To show a pause in conversation, unease in the person talking.

Anime- When the translation cannot translate the Japanese word for Gasp or Surprise.

Video games- Because the writer couldn’t think of a good one-liner to put in that scene where your best friend turns out to be your mother who was murdered fifteen years ago.

Now, in texting land the rule for ellipses has changed since the introduction of texting itself. When you use an ellipses today, you mean the following:

I’m apprehensive

Example:

“Hey, you coming to my mother’s?”

“Sure…”

I’m angry

Example:

“Sorry I missed fixing your dog.”

“It’s fine…”

I’m secretly trying to destroy the world

Example:

“Hey, they have a discount on Self-Drilling Nuclear Technology. You want one?”

“Okay…”

When I text you, “Hey, we’re going to be at your house in 15 mins.” and I get back, “Okay…” my spine stiffens and my brain runs through a million scenarios that begin with “Maybe that just means ‘Okay'” to “Ah shit, their going to murder me when I get there because I forgot their birthday and texted them a hour later than when they were actually born!”

Just stop. You want to respond to a message, try just saying your word and using a period at the end of the sentence. Using more than one period does not indicate excitement over the ending of a statement, it means utter doom!

Thanks for reading…

Story so far- Soma

I love video games and the stories they can tell. I play them to have an experience and it is here I shall be recording my experiences and thoughts thus far in a game I am playing currently.

I picked up Soma the latest game from Frictional Games and I did this voluntarily. I could have chosen to play Destiny: The Taken King or even Bloodborne, both of which would have been just great, but I wanted to play Soma because I wanted to experience something without any expectation or warning.

And boy, has it been an interesting ride. Possible spoilers?

Now, I probably didn’t make the best decision to play this game shortly after moving a friend of mine across the country and into his storage box, because for the better part of the first 30 minutes of this playthrough I was wandering around the apartment trying to find this vile I had to drink.

Yeah, 30 minutes, but you know what, it wasn’t in the typical spots in an apartment. I check the fridge, the bathroom, everywhere, and I even began to throw around the vacuum because I just didn’t know what to do anymore.

The damn bottle was in the bottom drawer of the desk.

Now, this might seem like a case of “What the hell was the designer thinking?” I took a step back and thought about it some more as to why the bottle was in that drawer.

Storytelling in video games is a tricky beast. You can yap at the player throughout the entire game or try to bread crumb the story with messages, but in either case you wind up being  either too direct or too cryptic with your player. Many games have done both of these methods for storytelling, but both have their problems, because they aren’t really telling the story the best way for the medium.

The best way to tell a story in a video game is to have it be a part of the world. The story has to be in the game for the player to experience rather than just read or listen to as they play through the main story line. What I mean by having a story in a game isn’t just text with VO, but rather integrating the story into the levels and the player experience. By making the story inseparable from the overall gameplay, the player will have a rich experience without being told why things are the way they are.

Let’s cut back to the apartment in Soma. I was being a duffous in thinking that this particular bottle was in a normal place. I was told upfront, in the intro cutscene, that the main character Simon has some brain damage. Playing this game as a perfectly sane man, on a good day anyway, I thought about where the bottle could be logically, but really I should have been thinking from the mindset of a person with a mental issue.

Simon put the bottle in that bottom drawer because he wanted to forget about two things.

A. The death of a possible lover

B. The fact that this was even happening to him

This character is stressed out because of the events in his life. Being stuck in that apartment I found out he runs a comic shop or bookstore of some kind and that he has clearly not been taking care of himself. The bottle being in the bottom drawer showed me that made sense to him to put it there, in some bizarre way, but the interesting part was the newspaper clipping in the drawer as well. It was very specific about the injuries that occurred to everyone at the scene.

I don’t think the clipping is as truthful as it claims to be, I think its a projection of Simon’s damaged mind. In fact, the entire opening scenes from the apartment, to the subway, to the “Doctor’s” office all seem very bizarre. Then think about the opening quote from Phillip K. Dick, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Having the narrative be affected by the protagonist’s state of mind is something that Frictional does very well. Wouldn’t be a long shot to guess that might be the same case here, but let’s see what happens shall we?

I am not going to rant the entire playthrough, the cool stuff is in there, you’ll just have to watch to find out what insanity we’re heading towards.

Here’s the playthrough from last night’s session, see if you like my apartment make over.