Bae of Blood

Item under review: https://www.amazon.com/Bay-Blood- Blu-ray-Claudine-Auger/dp/B003Y3ZHUS/ref=tmm_mfc_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1465678637&sr=8-2

If you want to begin your journey into the world of Italian Exploitation cinema, consider Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve, Carnage, Last House on the Left Part II, and so, so many other alternate titles) your ground zero. Famously constructed around “13 characters, 13 murders” Bay of Blood also set the template for all slasher films that followed its trendsetting run thru Drive-ins in the early ‘70’s. Viewed today, it is still a potent experience, with considerable levels of gore and bloodletting. The genesis of the project was Bava and his screenwriters dreaming up murder sequences, and then constructing a plot to connect these set pieces. While this seems standard for horror films now, for its time this approach was revolutionary.

With a murder occurring every 5-8 minutes, Bay of Blood did more than any other film to set the temp for the modern slasher film.

Concerning the quest for various groups of nefarious characters trying to gain the inheritance of a desirable waterfront property (the titular Bay), no sympathetic characters emerge. Like an insane game of checkers, one group bumps off another after another, characters are introduced in smash cuts while bumping off already established characters. The victims are perpetrators and the perpetrators are victims. The real, true, villain is greed and man’s inhumanity to man.

Mario Bava was a master of economy. When the script required a forest to run through, and the location was barren, Bava glued branches to some stands and ran them in front of the camera to replicate a real forest. To accomplish long tracking shots and dollies, he used a child’s toy wagon that he personally stood in (he also doubled as the film’s director of photography in a further penny pinching move). To create the coveted waterfront Villa the characters are vying for, Bava personally painted a glass matte of one.

There are two blu-rays readily available for Bay of Blood: a domestic release from Kino Lorber and an import release from international genre label Arrow Video. For the purpose of this review, the Arrow release is the one sampled. It contains two crucial supplements to enhance your viewing experience. The first is the slightly longer Italian language version of the film. All scenes containing dialogue were shot two ways: the first was meant for the international dubbed releases of the film, and the second version was shot for the native Italian language release. Bay of Blood plays a bit better in its native language, dialogue is better, character details are more nuanced, and the dialogue exchanges feel less stilted.

For fans of the film, it is a fascinating alternative to the more common dub release (think the difference between watching a Kung Fu film dubbed vs. subtitled). The second crucial supplement is a commentary track featuring the foremost Bava biographer, Tim Lucas (who also runs the essential Video Watchdog magazine). Lucas does an encyclopedic job in tracking all the creative contributors to Bay of Blood, and their careers before and after this film. Lucas also clearly delineates the underlying themes and clarifies some at times confusing plotting.

Bay of Blood also has one of the most nihilistic, never repeated, final shots in film history. Once you’ve made your way through this one, you will know if the world of Italian exploitation is for you or not. The dividing line is drawn here.

Written by Michael Felix

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“Is this movie in 3D?”

“No, but your face is!”

Follow me on twitter @cinefelix

Windows 10 Solitaire- Review

You know, I was going to write about maps, and have it be all whimsical with some light philosophical touches on life, but then my internet went out.

Only misery remains.

And so you, dear reader, are getting a review of solitaire, the classic on hold waiting for your cable companies IT game!

I haven’t played solitaire on Windows 10 yet, but let me just say, wow! The graphics are a huge improvement over Windows 97 solitaire. I mean here the cards are all shiny and new and utilize what seems to be particle effects?

Windows, you are spoiling me here. Particle effects! I feel like I am playing Hearthstone and I don’t even play Hearthstone!

Okay, now that the visuals are out of the way, let’s get down to the mechanics here. And just like every other AAA game developer, Windows 10 solitaire has been dumbed down massively. I get hints all the time, the damn Herpstone effects flash all on my face constantly, and it just keeps giving you hints even when I’ve turned those off!

No! I don’t want to be hand held anymore Windows! Stop holding my hand! Yours is all clammy and moist and blegh!

You know what makes me feel real sick? I take those hints even when I’ve done my damnedest to make sure they don’t pop up! I am the very thing I hate about the hint system in Windows 10 solitaire!

This game, this game, has just cut me to my core. Its revealed something I didn’t know about myself, a flaw that I will now examine until I feel nothing and will never again know what joy truly is.

And the IT guy is back. He’s the step above the previous IT guy, according to this T2 moniker, and he’s having me repeat the steps of the previous guy. I do not blame this man, for he is trying, but I blame myself for being a sponge on society.

A giant hairy sponge that must be burned!

Window 10 Solitaire score: Questioning reality of out Ham

‘Hellhole’ AKA the sci-fi book that I love even though I don’t like sci-fi

I am not normally a lover of science fiction stories. To date I have now read about three books in the sci-fi genre, one being a school assignment, another being a short story in a collection of other thriller/sci-fi stories and the latest a book that I actually chose, purchased and read. That last one if the book “Hellhole.” It is part of a series and I now want all the books because it is a book in this genre that I honestly truly enjoyed.

Written by Kevin Anderson and Brian Herbert, “Hellhole” transports the reader to a futuristic world in which planets are managed like the countries under Roman rule (albeit without the gladiators and religious persecution). The planets are divided into two categories: The Crown Jewels and the Deep Zone planets. The book starts with an attempted and failed rebellion. This sets the stage for a story divided between activities occurring in the Deep Zone planets (where the rebellion leader is exiled to the planet Hellhole) and the political movements among the Crown Jewels. The story ultimately involves multiple characters and has a multitude of twists and turns, all adding to my love for it.

Along with its engaging and well-paced plot, there are a host of reasons why I loved “Hellhole” such as:

The universe is futuristic without being implausible

“Hellhole” doesn’t limit itself by giving a possible date or year for when the events are occurring, giving it a huge amount of freedom. The organization of the planets, travel system and other factors that make up this universe are thankfully tight enough to comprehend but loose enough to make plausible.

The story ties back to humanity on Earth without weighing the story down with the past

Several times throughout the story different details tie back to humanity on Earth. These passing comments or side notes give the reader the implication of the characters’ ancestry and a gauge for how far they have come. Bless Anderson and Herbert though because they don’t waste time with a timeline of how far the story is from where we are now. The relation to humanity on Earth gives a small, brief origin for the characters without diverting the story. Also no mention of race (maybe racism will have actually died out by the time we can fly between planets like countries!)

The planetary system is unique without being overly complicated

As previously mentioned the planets are organized like countries while being governed like the United States: all planets under one ruler. By manipulating trade and transportation the reigning government is able to keep control (to a point as the reader finds out later). It is an efficient and easy to understand system without going into intense details about rules, regulations etc.

Readers get to know minor characters without being overloaded with a billion characters to keep track of just before killing them (cough cough George R.R. Martin you murderous fuck)

Between the con man on the run, the girl on the run from a murderous ex, territorial governors, an unknown alien race and others, “Hellhole” offers a host of different minor characters to get to know. They all play a role in the larger overall plot but don’t interfere with it by diverting the story to focus on their life stories. Additionally they don’t die off in droves so there is no need to always get to know a whole new cast of characters.

The plot includes a few twists that make you want to know (read) more

These include a hidden rebellion, an assistant seeking nobility status, alien consciousnesses joining with human minds, the book is jampacked with events you don’t see coming. It all works with and adds to the main plot though and makes you just want more.

The characters have a good amount of depth that makes them relatable

The characters were great. Love or hate certain character though the reader might, it just proves the level of depth the authors gave them. Each one has layers showcased without going into extensive detail and enough flaws to make them relatable. Its a great balance overall, provides humanity and a sense of reality to the characters and doesn’t give you one flawless hero who you feel you must love entirely.

Looking back after just finishing the first book it is easy for me to see why I loved the book and would gladly recommend it to others, whether they like sci-fi or not. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books that wrap up this story. At this point I don’t have much choice in whether or not I buy them since my copy was signed and I got to meet the author. I couldn’t get rid of it even if I wanted to, and I don’t so I might as well get all of the books in the series and get through the entire story and pray that things don’t tank.

Now I must return to scouring the web for the second and third books (Anderson and Herbert let me buy your books, damn you)!

unnamedWritten by Brianna Gibbons, writer, book reviewer and avid reader. For more book-based talk, follow her on Twitter @Bookworm_ish.

Words in pixels- Tom Clancy’s The Division

My business is one of words, and seeing as I have worked in video games in such a capacity, I figured it would be interesting to go into the mechanics of storytelling in different video game titles. In most reviews, the story is relegated to a paragraph, maybe, and doesn’t get a lot of the spotlight. Really, it’s more like a synopsis than it is an analysis of the game’s story.

What I wanted to do here was give video game stories the attention they deserve. What mechanics did they use to tell the story? Did they work or did they cause more harm than good? Why did this story work or not? These are questions that I haven’t seen the answers for and are usually glazed over in most write ups.

Let’s dive into a title that is currently holding my attention- Tom Clancy’s: The Division.

Summed up : It gives the best argument to never leave the house.

The story is New York (Yes, the city where every thing happens) is hit by an outbreak of a virus spread on 20 dollar bills during Black Friday. This kills almost everyone and while the rest of the nation is dealing with this virus, the government has sent off a majority of its forces to find those responsible. With an almost barren city, filled with corpses, local gangs and militia (Not state run) have taken over the streets and overwhelmed the JTF (Joint Task Force).

You are an Agent apart of The Division, a sleeper cell that is activated during a crisis to help keep law and order going in the face of totally anarchy.

At it’s best, The Division (To be known as DV moving forward) has some moments that really make you feel for this city. The level design only reinforces the despair here, and the random logs, video, and synthetic ‘ghosts’ hit home the humanity of the situation.

At its worst, it’s a bland ‘Thanks hero for stopping the orcs! You’re a great fighter!’


It’s AYSO: Everyone is a hero, everyone gets praise

Division 1At its core, DV is an MMOish/Single Playeris campaign, and this means it’s making the player the central hero to save the world as we know it; while thousands of other players are being cast in the same role. This is wish fulfillment and while many players don’t mind it or even love the crap out of it, I really don’t.

When I play a game, in a huge open world, I tend to be a fly on the wall. I like exploring, helping when I can, moving on to secure and build up either my base or my gear. The central narrative in DV is meh to say the least, there are some great set pieces and awesome moments along the way, but overall the main story is just okay.

Mostly what kills the mood for me is when NPC soldiers say the same thing I have heard in so many games:

-Hey, glad you’re on our side!

-Man, did you see what you did? That’s awesome!

-Wow, you know what you’re doing!

It just feels contrived and frankly my eyes could never roll hard enough when I hear those lines. The JTF are just about the worst thing, I get they’re on the ropes, but the amount I have helped, a single person, in getting them back in order is ridiculous. And yes, I mean me singular, I know this game is about the squad elements, but in the narrative of the story I am the one being acknowledged for putting the city back together.

Which is just nuts to me.

The core of this game’s story is: This is our home, our city, and we are going to take it back.

That is an awesome premise to start from because who is not going to want to want to help? Problem is, you are then cast into the role of a singular savior and that small sentiment of ‘your city’ gets lost. It’s like when I was playing Fallout 4, as soon as I got a hint of being this big damn hero, I lost interest, and if it were up to me, I would just avoid the main story line in DV because it isn’t doing anything for me.

The mechanic of the central narrative is missions, which are actually really fun and cool, but the cut scenes and importance placed on me and the only other agent in the headquarters is just too much to the point of cheese.


What is doing something for me, is the world you get to explore.

E315_TCTD_Final_screenshot_Macys_213016The mechanics in which the game tells its story is through missions, and while the central missions have some wonderful moments, the most impactful part of the game is New York City. Exploring the streets, finding people, and giving them supplies makes me feel like I am helping. It was the experience I was looking for when I originally saw DV and the act of giving someone some water or saving them every once in a while from a thug, hits me more than the central story.

Let’s get this out of the way, I am not from New York City. I have never lived in a big city, so in order to get me to care about this place you have to get me attached. Moments are going to get player plugged in and feeling like they are a part of this world. Video games are experiences and the stories that live in them have to amplify this experience.

Seeing the trash, the sheer chaos in the streets, really gets me attached to this world and trying to help it. The use of side missions is well done, because the dialogue gives just enough flavor and information to make me want to go in and push that button. And it will be pushing buttons because that’s about all you have to do in this game, mission wise.

Do I feel that the actions in the side missions could have been changed up a bit? Oh yes, but as they stand, I’ve played worse ‘busy work’ filler content. What keeps me going here is the movement in game, the combat, and my sweet beanie.

Overall, The Division is more of an experience than a story.

Which is great for a video game, because that is the most important part. The world is well constructed, the movement smooth, the shooting fun, and that it carries me past the meh ‘I am the hero’ story. I really wish I could have just move through Brooklyn and solve problems organically rather than getting put in the center of the rescue effort. I am one of thousands of Agents in this city, how I am I that damn important? And really, I’m not, I just wish I could eke out a small effort of helping to reclaim the city from my stronghold in a subway depot.

In future expansions, there is talk of this feature showing up, and frankly I cannot wait for it. I really do think that this game could do something really interesting from a storytelling aspect. The basics are already there in the form of seeing sections of the town have more patrols and the HQ having more people that don’t look broken residing inside of it. By letting the player feel like they are doing enough to help, and reinforcing that feeling in the world around them, The Division could really make me feel like a New Yorker.

Although, I still wouldn’t be a Yankees fan.

IMG_9638Nick Mazmanian is a content creator and designer on Ironclad Words. He enjoys making things and drinking coffee, specifically the latter, for without it the former wouldn’t get done. He also wrote a book.

Goals

Goals are these elusive things in our life that we have a sometimes vague notion in the back of our minds. They sit there, in a chair, on a porch, and scream at us as we come zooming by on our bike about making too much noise and eventually they fall asleep reading the Sunday funnies. Sitting there, doing nothing, a goal is nothing more than an annoyance. A slap to the face for your day in the sun, thinking of nothing and enjoying life for the moment we are here.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit depressed. I shouldn’t be, things in life have been going, actually, pretty swell. But in my head I hear that old s.o.b. yelling at me, “Get your ass into gear! That book won’t write itself! Or how’s that gaming design coming along? Gonna get that podcast cut yet or would you rather post it next Christmas? How’s about that short film? Have you even outlined the comic? Why aren’t you building that shelving unit you said you were going to do?”

This nagging, annoying, a-hole is something I deal with on an almost daily basis. It has come to the point that I feel like I will never, truly, be done with anything; and that is a terrifying feeling. I always say that I am never gonna stop working, and this is true, but I need to stop worrying about work that isn’t here yet or is in progress. I feel as if I am taking these tiny steps everyday and I am seeing people blow past me with their ability to skip down the lane.

Damnable long legging jerks!

How do you even go about fixing this? Thinking these thoughts?

Firstly, talking about it helps. To God, your spouse, the dog or the infinite universe that doesn’t care about you, but you have to start somewhere! Getting the thoughts out of your head and away helps big time. It keeps you centered just a bit more so that life doesn’t seem so bad or that you’re behind.

Second, do the things! I have started most of that laundry list above, I just have to finish some of it. It will take time, yes, but I am going to be check marking the crap out of that list. Remember, when you hear about someone’s ‘immediate’ success, it takes years or months of work on something that may not do anything at all. All projects are a gamble, some are safer gambles than others, but a gamble to be sure.

Third, stop being dumb. Really, that last part helps a lot. Just keep in mind that what you do matters, even if it fails. If it fails, then you’ve still finished it. You’ve still done it and that says something. Just keep in mind, you can give up on books, video games, or TV shows, but projects need an ending; and sometimes that ending is even a happy one.

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.

Tales of the Mollusk!

I started a new podcast yesterday. A small, simple, and hopefully enjoyable one that I can do more frequently as it requires myself and my rather sick mind to create and publish it.

I am calling it Tales of the Mollusk. It follows the adventures of Captain Eugene Sacks and his pirate submarine The Mollusk as they steal, adventure, and plunder the vast open seas!

We’ll see where this goes, but I got a good feeling about this one. Lastly, pardon the logo, it is a work in progress!

Nanowrimo- A survival guide

Nanowrimo is upon us!

Ready your hearts and stretch those fingers because your typewriter is going to be your best friend for this entire month! Here are some steps to survive the insanity!

PENS!

You will jot down, scribble, and write ideas as they fly into your mind from the dark space between the never ending fold of time and reality. These thoughts must be captured in order to help move your story forward so you better have a pen or maybe even a quill and if you can’t afford ink, just use your own blood!* You can’t really run out as your body just makes more of it! That’s bootstrapping!

*- Be metal!**

**-DO IT***

***-Don’t sue me

THOUGHTS!

These are important as they will help in the writing process. Without thoughts you are pretty much screwed, so get cracking on this front. Of course, many popular writers have been able to write books without this step, so maybe you can skip this step.

AN OUTLINE

Maps are amazing! You will need a guide post in order to find your way out of the woods of your imagination and on to the physical plane that is the blank page. You will plot, sub-plot, and theme the ever loving crap out of your story! Then again, many authors don’t do this either. Some of the most famous writers had, maybe, a point or two and that’s it.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT!

People change, man! Your characters will do the same! Once they’ve conquered the malevolent dust bunnies of Ikeland, your main character will finally know peace as they’ve finally avenged their 5th cousin’s, twice removed, murder by these cretinous creatures! Characters must change, it is the very core of writing, that things change! Unless that isn’t the point of the story. Many books have been written in which the characters do not change in-spite of their situations and this, ultimately, leads to their downfall or salvation.

CONCLUSION!

When it comes to writing, no one way works. If anyone ever tries to sell you on their ‘foolproof’ plan for writing, don’t listen to them. The masters will only point out what worked for them, and even then, pick and choose what works for you.

The only thing that matters is that you have a surface to write on, fuel for the fire, and being absolutely relentless in your efforts. No amount of advice or steps or ‘survival guides’ will get that book out of your head and on to paper. NanoWrimo is a great catalyst to get your feet on the ground and moving, and just know that even the most established author still hits the same road blocks as you.

They just have the nicety of having money, which is the greatest super power in the world.

Buy my book!