Memorial Day – 2016

I am so ridiculously busy.  Too many things to do, not enough time to do it all, and even less motivation to get it all done on top of that.  Sometimes it’s hard to keep moving when it feels like your outnumbered, outgunned, and the whole world is out to get you.

But you know what I always have time for?

Memorial Day is a holiday to cherish the blood lost for our freedom and our nation’s ideas.  This year is an election year and we will most likely have the choice between a rat and a fink; which makes it just like every other election year.  But one thing we must always remember is…no matter who sits in that oval office, no matter who bickers in the Capitol halls, no matter what asinine robed monkeys slam gavels in the hallowed halls of our courts…there are brave soldiers fighting at home and abroad to make sure that the fight never makes it home.

My military record is not what I had wished it to be when I signed those enlistment papers…cripes, thirteen friggin’ years ago!  Nonetheless, I still call those men my brothers.  I may not have had the opportunity to serve alongside each and every one of them in the fields of Afghanistan, to have their back at Fallujah, or even to shovel papers across their desk at Norfolk (the only one of those three I’ve even been to).  But I work with them in the civilian market every day, and every day I know that they did what I wasn’t allowed to – defended our nation, whatever the nation may have been or may become.  Luckily most of the jarheads I signed those enlistment papers alongside made it home.  And to the ones who didn’t…that’s what this holiday is all about.

I might not have a military record to put any pride in, but thanks to those who do I have the luxury of sitting on my stupid ass and writing for a hobby and maybe eventually for a legitimate living.  The least I can do is offer up a story, right?

I’m not saying its good, I’m not even saying it’s worth your time.  But it’s what I came up with in the heat of the moment and it will give you something to pass the time while the hotdogs are grilling.  It goes best with Peter Hollen’s rendition of I See Fire from a few years ago, since I had it on repeat while I wrote it a year ago.  You see I had shelved the idea, because I didn’t think it was good enough to warrant the thought behind the holiday.  But then I figured…nothing I could possibly do with a keyboard would amount to what the men and women who sat beside me and signed those same papers promised to do.  So why not just suck it up and give ’em something to read, right?

Here it goes…

“13 Hours of Fire”

Richard C. Shaffer

          Mortars rained down on our position for thirteen straight hours. It got to the point that we actually cherished the bombs dropping almost on top of us. We knew their mortars had a range of five-hundred meters. And we were six-hundred meters away from them. We were also surrounded one two sides by them and two other sides by cliffs. On top of this stupid, useless, pointless hill.
          “Well sure, a thousand years ago it would have been pointless, but now we have radios.” That Rutger, a mind like an encyclopedia. He couldn’t shoot straight, but hell most Riflemen can’t – ironically enough. Nah, that’s not true, the Ready-boys are just the easy targets. Rutger’s actually a great radio guy.
          “Save it, Rutger!” I’d never tell him that to his face, though; don’t want the kid to get a swelled head or anything.
          “Shut up!” When the Squad leader tells a group of marines to shut up after thirteen straight hours of bombardment, you know damn well what the other eleven marines do.
          “Why, you can’t hear the ear-shattering explosions over us chit-chatting?” That’s right…in a group of eleven jarheads, at least one of them will have a smart comeback. In this case it was Santoro. Actually it’s always Santoro. Santoro wasn’t born with a mouth – he was born with a sphincter on his face: It just always spews out crap.
          “That’s the thing…the bombardment stopped.” Sarge was right, his name was Steven. No, not Stevens with an ‘s’, just Steven. He always said it was a typo when his family came through Ellis Island six generations ago. Apparently the guy jotting down his grandfather’s name got almost all the way through Stevenson and then his pencil broke.
          “Did they run out of ammo?” You can always hand it to Jan – pronounced like John – to ask the stupid question. Only guy I knew who we all called by his first name. Probably because nobody could pronounce his last name. I mean, really though, who can remember Lance Corporal Mahajan Krishnamurti? I’m lucky if I can remember my own name, much less all that.
          “I find that highly dubious.” Seriously Rutger, who uses a word like ‘dubious’ in regular conversation?
          “I have a strange feeling they’re getting ready to charge the hill.” Gutierrez at it again, he’s never the bearer of good news, or good ideas for that matter. He was the one who convinced me to wear my drawers into the shower the first day of Basic – told me that’s how everyone did it.
          What an ass I was, walking in there, getting my underwear wet and then a whole crew of naked dudes walk in and give me ‘that’ look. You know the look! The one where nobody wants to laugh, in case you’re a little special in the head and they don’t want to be offensive, but where if they don’t laugh they’ll have an aneurysm.
          Yeah, that look.
          “We laid traps all the way up both accessible sides of the hill.” Finally! Some good news – thanks to Martinez, of course. Second in command for a reason, that man!
          “Rosen, see anything coming from the west?” Sarge asked our best marksmen to poke his head out the nearest window. You see we were in a twelve by twenty-three foot half-bombed out old radio tower.
          That’s why we were here. We were trying to get a good enough signal for an Evac. We got caught up in a firefight we couldn’t handle and pulled out of the engagement this morning. Now it was after midnight – so I guess it was technically yesterday morning.
          “Nuttin’ to da west.”
          “Shepherd, anything to the south?” Sarge asked.
          “Shepherd!” Sarge’s voice was even angrier than usual.
          “Shepherd, seriously…if you’re going to narrate our last few hours alive, could you not talk aloud while you write in that stupid journal?”
          “Oh, yeah, sorry Sarge.” I said, feeling ever the ass I usually did. I glanced out the window just above my head and saw something I really didn’t want to.
          “Two light sources, five-hundred meters out. Moving this way.”
          An explosion ripped through the night in the distance and I watched several flare ups of rifle fire around it. One of Martinez’s mines. I turned back to the group with a dumbfounded smile. “Correction, one light source now.”
          “Those traps won’t hold them forever.” Martinez was fiddling with two rifle magazines – the last two he had – as he spoke.
          “But they will buy us time.” Sarge plopped down to his knees and patted Rutger on the shoulder. “Any signal, yet?”
          “Weather’s cleared up some, but they say its still thundering over the carrier.” Our resident radio man gave a solemn shrug. “The wind’s too strong for the choppers to fly.”
          “No point in killing a whole flight crew to save twelve marines, right?” The hero in me wanted to agree with Gutierrez – the coward in me wanted to swat him in the lip. I chose to remain stoically silent.
          “We’ve got three wounded and twelve total bodies to evacuate.” Sarge summed it up pretty well. “We’d need two choppers, three maybe.”
          “They wouldn’t be able to pick us up here anyway.” I said…wait I said that? What was I saying? That’s terrible news; that’s Santoro’s job!
          “Shepherd’s right.” That was not the thing I wanted Martinez to agree with me on!
          “Between the mortars and the RPGs any chopper that sits still is going to join us on the ground.” Sarge gripped Rutger’s shoulder tightly. “Jets can fly in the rain, see if you can get them to drop something on our friends down there.”
          “Drop what?” Asked Rutger.
          “Something unfriendly.” Gutierrez, you clever dog you!
          “I expect we’ve got about twenty minutes before they get within range to cause us problems.” Rosen fiddled with his rifle. He’d fallen when he tripped over a piece of rubble and landed rifle-first. Something cracked inside and he was stuck firing single-shot. Pull the trigger, rack the bolt, pull the trigger, rack the bolt. Not fun in a firefight against an AK-47.
          “Just enough time to have a last meal.” I said as I pulled an MRE out of my side pouch. It had been breakfast, but I only ate the main course.
          “What you still got?” Asked Gutierrez.
          “Poundcake, some cranberries, and ‘cherry powdered fruit drink’ which all sound less delicious than the last.” I shrugged and tore open the cranberries.
          “I’ll trade you for the poundcake.” Gutierrez offered.
          “What ya got?” I was open to trade – why not, wasn’t like I was going to get the chance to digest it.
          “Twelve bullets.”
          “What am I gonna do with twelve bullets?” I asked.
          “I dunno, but that’s all I got left.” Gutierrez shrugged.
          “Aah, what the hell. Take it.” I was feeling generous. That and I was really digging the cranberries for some reason. “My canteen’s empty, anybody want to split some with me? I’ll share my delicious cherry fruit drink.”
          “I can do you one better.” Carmichael sat up from his spot on the side of the room. He was one of our wounded – took shrapnel to the leg from a rocket. Rutger and Sarge carried him half a mile to this bunker – more like a tomb now, with what we all knew was coming.
          “Oh?” I was curious what could be better than stale water and cherry-flavored kool-aid. “What ya got? C’mon now, I’m a business man.”
          “Somebody do me a favor and reach into my left ass pocket.” Carmichael struggled to roll enough for Jan to pull out a small metallic flask. He held it up with a raised eyebrow. Carmichael beamed with pride for smuggling the booze on campaign. “Eight ounces of the best, cheapest, grain-alcohol I could trade a pack of smokes to a local for.”
          “You don’t smoke.” Noted Jan.
          “That’s why it was a fantastic deal.” Carmichael winked, then winced from the pain in his leg. “I was gonna wait and open it when we got back for a celebratory shot. But I figure no point in wasting good, terrible booze, right?”
          “What do ya say, Sarge?” Martinez snatched the flask from Jan’s hands.
          “Toss it here.” Sarge caught the flask and opened it up, sniffing the contents. He shuddered and looked at Carmichael with the most incredulous look I’ve ever seen him summon. “You sure this is booze and not antifreeze, right?”
          “Eh?” Carmichael shrugged with a laugh. “Same thing, if you get desperate enough, right?”
          Sarge pulled out his canteen and dumped the contents of the flask into it.
          “Hey! Don’t ruin my hooch with your disgusting water!” Carmichael huffed as he laid back to rest his leg.
          Sarge opened the canteen and sniffed it again. Martinez walked over and took a whiff. “What do you think?”
          “I think if we drink this, they’re gonna find twelve dead bodies when they finally get up here.”
          “Shepherd, toss me that pouch!”
          “Cherry-bomb incoming!” I soft balled the drink flavoring to him and he added it to the canteen.
          Sarge gave it one last shake and then offered a canteen cap full to each one of us. We all stared at the pungent liquid with a mixture of unease and tranquility; disgust and desire; want and wanton disinterest.
          “I’ll give it the first taste.” Carmichael was gonna die of liver failure by the time he was forty anyway, he might as well have been the the first to die from his own blood-red poison. He quaffed the capful and shuddered as it spread through his system.
          “How’s it taste?” Rosen asked.
          “Not friggin’ cherries, I’ll tell ya that much!” Carmichael coughed and licked his chops. “Seconds, barkeep?”
          Sarge chuckled and poured the final few drops into Carmichael’s cap. I stood up, just a step away from the window so as not to attract unwanted bullets, and raised my capful. “A toast then, gentlemen. A toast as we sip our last snifter of wine?”
          “What ya got, writer boy?” Santoro sniffed his capful and shook his head in disbelief.
          “Well…” I summoned every ounce of skill I learned in High School Journalism class and gave what we all figured would be the last speech of my life.
          “If this it to end in fire, then we should all burn together. America’s sons, America’s daughters.”
          “Ain’t no girls here, Shep.”
          “Rutger counts.”
          “Hey, I got two older sisters, you think I’ve never been forced to wear a dress before?”
          “I know things about you I never wanted to, Rutger.”
          “You’re welcome, Sarge.”
          I continued… “And if we should die tonight. Then we should all die together. Raise a glass of wine…for the last time.”
          “Should we die…we’ll die together, as brothers.” Sarge raised his cap and emptied it into his mouth. We all followed suit. Never mentioned to them I stole half those lines from a movie’s soundtrack. They either didn’t know or didn’t care. We loaded the last few rounds we had into our guns and came up with a plan.
          We would offer up a fighting withdrawal as we dragged the wounded to the cliff-face and rope down while the enemy was still preparing to rush us. It was stupid, it was deadly, but it was the best idea we had. Martinez and Gutierrez set up their last two mines at the doors of the bunker and we all crept out into the darkness.
          “Stay low, stay quiet.” Sarge ordered as he sent the first man down the cliff, then the second. Then we started hoisting the wounded three down to them. It was straight into the water, but there were some rocks to cling to. We didn’t have much to keep us afloat, but we had a better chance of floating away than we did surviving the impending assault.
          We were half down when it was my turn. I handed my rifle to Gutierrez. “In case something happens, I’ve got a full clip.”
          “Happy trade, Shep.” Gutierrez handed me his half-empty rifle and I strapped the rope to my waist. I was just about head down when one of the mines at the shack went off. We all looked up as the flash of light and smoke lit up the sky.
          The shrubs near the makeshift radio tower lit up like torches; a deathly auburn color. Realization dawned on us about the same time it dawned on them – we could see each other now. Martinez brought up his rifle and opened fire into the group, taking three of them down before they could return fire.
          Gutierrez popped two rounds to the right side of the shack and then tossed a grenade around the left. All I could see were the shadows of limp bodies flying off the side of the eastern cliff. I brought up my rifle, but Sarge stepped in front of me. His eyes shone of fearless protection, like a mama bear with a hunter in her den. “Get going!”
          I felt his hand on my chest as he pushed me off the side of the cliff. It took me a second to realize what had happened before I grabbed the line and slowed myself. It was too rough though, I slammed into the cliff-face and dropped into the water.
          The world moved in slow motion, and to the soundtrack of that damn movie no less. I couldn’t remember all the words as the water lapped over my face and I felt myself sinking.
          Should my brothers fall – then surely I’ll do the same.
          That was close…close enough, at least.
          “I got you Shep!” Santoro’s voice pierced the vale of darkness as my head came back above the water. I gasped for air as he wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “Can you swim?”
          “Y-yeah.”
          “We gotta go.” We made the swim out into the dark waters. It was a rough night, but we were a lucky few. We got spotted by an air crew an hour after dawn. We were rescued.
          Twelve men sat in that bunker, twelve men shared a brotherly toast, and eight made it home. Steven, Gutierrez, Martinez, and Rosen. They were the reason any of us made it home. They are the limbs we walk upon every day. They are the beats of our heart, the air in our lungs.
          They were our brothers. Through the fire, through the night. Brothers, always.

~RCS

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DJ Comic: January Holidays Part 4

DJComic_010

Yep, nothing rains harder on a parade than editing.

IS THERE ANYONE OR ANYTHING THAT DOESN’T THINK I’M WEIRD OR STRANGE?!

It’s a lot easier to teach someone if you pay attention to them, Senpai.

Ͼ-Mimi

Je’Suis Bête!

I just thought I would make a little addendum to yesterday’s post.  I used a tongue-in-cheek joke that several people did not seem to get.

Je’Sui Paris and Je’Sui Humanité mean nothing, because it is spelled wrong.

I was spelling it that way to lambaste the fact that almost everyone on my Facebook feed, the folks I was ripping on in that post, had spelled Je’Suis Paris incorrectly.  The last s in Je’Suis is silent, as is par for the course in French.  As a matter of fact the last s in Paris is supposed to be silent as well.  It would be along the lines of Jah-Swee Pa-Ree.

It turns out nobody got the joke, though, and that makes me look like the idiot, because it just looks like I spelled it wrong.  Which I did, on purpose.  But nobody got it.

Writing comedy is hard.

writing-is-hard-gif

~RCS

 

DJ Comic: November Holidays Part 1

DJComic_007

Sorry it’s late again.  I’ve ending up working on the comics while I was half asleep most of the time so I kept having to fix stuff like remembering that it’s now November and not October and that it’s November not Noverember.  Sleep is reeeeeally important.

This scene happens all the time and I’ve learned to just roll with it.  It’s how Rich writes most of the time.  He can get into a groove that can last hours and I do my best not to get in his way.  One time he was on a really good roll, but I was hungry and had decided earlier that we were going out to eat.  So I kept bugging him and trying to hurry him up.  He finished the paragraph he was on and then we left.  We got home an hour or so later and he couldn’t get back into his groove.  I felt like total shit.  So I don’t break the groove anymore, I do my best to help however I can.

Ͼ-Mimi

Wag Challenge: In Over Their Heads

Remember the game that the Wife kept mentioning all month for why I was so scarce around here?  Well that was the Write A Game Challenge put on by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).  The goal was to make a game in 30 days, that centered on writing.  Only the writing will be judged for the game.  You were supposed to match a theme, too; the theme being “Down The Rabbit Hole”.  The game’s goal was to be 10-20 minutes long.

I dragged out an old game idea I’d toyed with but never been able to make into anything about a 1930’s detective who gets caught up in an occult plot to summon demons and such.  I figured that was a pretty good interpretation of going down the rabbit hole.  The challenge also had three sub-themes that you could try to weave into the story: Mistaken Identity, Empathy, and Birth.  I really didn’t utilize much of the sub-themes, although you could argue the demon summoning could be construed as ‘Birth’.

Anyway, the game is called In Over Their Heads.  It’s about a twenty minute play through, maybe a little less if you find the book quickly in the shop.  It’s got multiple endings and a few interactive choices in its short play time.  It is also free and you can pick it up by clicking on the title picture below.

So if you’re interested in checking it out, give it a shot.

NoirTitleScreen

~RCS

Tekko 2015: Day 1, Friday

So our day started out around 11:30 a.m.  We got into the convention center and, since we had pre-registered, walked right up to the registration booth.  We had our badges and were inside the convention within 5 minutes.

I must say, Tekko has really impressed me with how organized they’ve gotten.  They seem to have improved every year since we started going again.  This year was no different, at least as far as getting inside.

The first thing we did was walk into Con Ops, because both of my panels this year were on Friday.  We checked in and had a little scare.  You see, I had been informed that two of my panels proposals were accepted and that one was on the maybe list.  But when the time came for the convention to start, I had not received anything saying that my maybe was accepted.

So lo and behold when the guy at Con Ops says, “Okay, so you’ve got…3 panels, right?”

“‘Scuse me, wha…?”

I searched the schedule, the Wife searched the schedule, he searched the schedule, he called another woman over to search the schedule, and none of us could find the third panel listed.  So we finally decided that their list must not differentiate between okayed panels and maybe list panels.

So, after a touch of a scare, we got everything checked in and wandered around for a bit until the panel before ours ended.  Then we headed to Panel Room #3 and set up for the How To Avoid Bad Writing Panel.

Now last year I ran two panels and they were fairly average as far as attendance went.  One panel had about fifteen people in it and the other had about twenty.  More than I had expected, certainly, but still nothing super great.

But this year?  There was probably around 40-50 people in each panel.  The only panel we went to that had more people in it than my panels was one of the celeb panels, Uncle Yo’s Magical Girl Bootcamp.  I’ll get to more about that panel in tomorrow’s post.

So, anyway, the panel went off without much of a hitch.  We had a great audience, a lot of great questions were asked in the Q&A section of the panel.  Ultimately I was very pleased with how things went.

Several people approached at the end of the panel and the next panel’s host actually wound up having to chase me out of the room because I was still answering fantastic questions and chatting with people.

As a matter of fact people came up to me all day long to talk about their own writing, ask me for advice on how to handle this event, that style, this character, or simply to ask what I thought about one of their works-in-progress.  It was great!

The next thing we did was a little more roaming to get the lay of the convention center better before going into Panel Room #1 to host the History of Sengoku Japan panel.  Now what we should have done was change out my camcorder’s battery, because I hadn’t realized it only had 30 minutes of recording time left on it.

So we set up for the second panel and once again…room was pretty full.  The writing panel definitely had more people in it, but the Sengoku panel was certainly not empty by any means, a little closer to 40 than 50 in this one.

Once again a few good questions, but for the most part they just let me tell interesting stories about samurai.  And once again a group of people came up to me and chatted about the topic.

I was re-introduced to the fellow who did the RTK panel I watched a few years back.  His panel style is actually what my own are based off of.  I watched what he did and copied it, then modified the system to suit my own presentation style.  And through the whole thing I forgot to ask his name.  Go me, for derping on that.

We hit the restroom and popped a squat in the panel room we had just presented in for the How to Hibachi panel.  The Hibachi chef that was running the panel, Josh I believe, worked for Shogun in Monroeville, PA if I remember correctly.

A regular trick, the Onion Volcano.  Always cool to watch.

A regular trick, the Onion Volcano. Always cool to watch.

It was pretty nifty to watch him do some of the tricks and to give us the low-down on some of the tricks of the trade.  He explained what all the items on the cart were, how much butter and vodka they go through every night (the vodka is for cleaning and setting fires), and how they modified their tools to let them do their tricks.

He had some pretty good jokes and a decent presentation skill.  He ended on this one…

What sound does a White Chicken make? Bak, bak, bak!

What sound does a Chinese Chicken make?  Meow, meow…

Overall it was informative and entertaining, which is how panels should be.  And it made me hungry for a Hibachi dinner.  So, mission accomplished if the restaurant sent him there to represent them.

After that was dinner.  Can you guess where?

You're goddamn right we ate there!

You’re goddamn right we ate there!

Of course it was.  During the weekend the wife’s younger cousin was staying with us and we treated her to some delicious Sharp Edge food.  Got her addicted to the delicious pudding.  Yumm…y’know I really should start charging them for the advertising at this stage.

Anyway, we went back to the convention and sat in on the “I Know Where to Put It” Complications of Rule 34 panel.  In case you aren’t aware the panel is referencing Internet Rule #34: If it exists…here is porn of it on the Internet.

They showed strange occurrences within the porno-sphere of the internet.  Things like Maleficent holding Tinkerbell by the wings, dangling the little faerie above her mouth while she ate Tinkerbell out.  Which was strangely arousing in a weird sort of way (it was very well drawn).

There was some weird shit in that panel.  But the wife and I discovered that we are apparently pretty freaky.  There were people who walked out of the panel in disgust.  The wife’s brother was one of them; he hit his limit when they showed the General Lee (the  car from Dukes of Hazard) ass-raping Boss Hogg.  Yeah, like I said…weird shit.

But it’s nothing as bad as we’ve seen on the internet.  These people have clearly never heard of Shadman, Spazkid, or eFukt.

If you’re at work…please do not do a Google Search with those terms.

All in all Friday was a fantastic day.  Tekko was definitely starting to show how much they had improved over the years.  Not without hiccups, but nothing major that went wrong.

So, come back tomorrow and see what we did and what we thought of Day 2.  Which started pretty early for us because our ward for the weekend wanted to see a panel at 9:30 in the morning.

~RCS

Have I Beat This Horse Enough?

Hey!  Have I mentioned that I wrote a book, coming out in a few days?

Once or twice, yes...

Once or twice, yes…

 

Okay then, uhh, how about we talk about something else?  Something like…

 

TekkoLogo

That’s right folks!  I’ll be hosting panels again this year at Tekkoshocon.  Unless anything changes I will be in Panel Room #3 at 1:30pm on Friday April 17th for How To Avoid Bad Writing.  That’s right, I’ll be teaching you how to not write complete drivel!  Trust me, if anyone knows a bag of crap masquerading as writing, it’s me.

I will then be shifting gears over to History of Sengoku Japan in Panel Room #1 at 4:00pm that same day.  Come by if you have an interest in anything Samurai.

Both panels will have my charismatic Alto spewing forth all kinds of knowledge, not to mention my usual humor (I use the term loosely, in case you’re new to the site), and even some door prizes!

~RCS

Dearest And Sincerest Apologies

Oy, my aching kidneys!  Life hit me with a cheap shot and I’ve been reeling from it for a while now.

First of all, in case you aren’t related to me and therefore weren’t at the Housewarming party for the new house we held back in August:

I am officially a Married Man!

That’s right, my fiancée and I finally got off our asses and signed the papers.  I’ll see about giving you all the full story soon; it’s charming and amusing.

But anyway, long story short: The new Wifey’s been sick, I’ve been hammered at the work and I’m struggling to catch up, I’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work for the Writer’s Chatroom, and I’ve been writing legit manuscripts insanely all month.

That’s the main reason you haven’t heard much of me this whole month (or at all, really; sorry) aside from a bit on Facebook and Twitter.  The bad news is, as I said, I haven’t given you a whole lot of product here on the site lately; for that I apologize.  The good news is that, combined in the three stories I’m currently spreading my time on, I’ve written over fifty thousand words in the month of December.  That’s almost an entire novel worth of writing…except of course it’s spread among a novel I’d just started (which has 40,000 of the 50,000+), and the rest were thrown onto less-full works.

I hope to be getting back into the swing of things.  I usually catch up to things on Holidays, but Thanksgiving was spent normally with family.  Christmas will be spent working, but with very little to do actually do at work, so I should be able to catch up a bit then.

Thanks for your continued support and readership!

~RCS

What Have I Been Doing?

What have I been doing?  That’s a damn good question.  Unfortunately you only have an okay answer, a semi-decent one, really.  Well maybe a bit light on the fantastic, but heavy on the meh, to be sure.  So before you start doing renditions of Monty Python’s ‘get on with it’ shtick, I’ll just clue you in to why I’ve been away so long.

1. New ‘Job’

In case you didn’t already know, I’ve joined the Writers Chatroom as the newest staff member.  I’m basically kind of the technical officer for the group.  I run their new forum and I’m opining to get them to start a podcast and Youtube channel with book reviews, writing advice, marketing and branding advice, publishing news, etc.  I’ve gathered interest, but haven’t convinced them, yet.

2. New Material

My fiance and I have been trying to gather new material for the website and the YouTube Channel.  We’ve been relatively less successful than we hoped to be.  The 10 days without a blog post screams of that fact (sorry again, to my loyal 3 readers).  I hope to get back into the swing of things…soon…ish.

3. New Projects

I’m officially announcing that we have begun pre-production planning (that means we’ve got things on paper but nothing filmed) for two new webseries that we’re going to be looking at starting.  One is a cooking show wherein we will be cooking dishes design for the non-chef.  People who don’t know what the hell ‘lemon zest’ is or who look at a cookbook and say silly things like, “This recipe takes up two whole pages!” and “What the hell are crushed basil leaves?”  The other one is going to be a webseries wherein I teach you martial arts…move by move.  Each episode (posted on YouTube) will be a lesson in the way to perform, and proper usage of, a specific technique; broken down into basic, intermediate, and advanced level techniques.  So look forward to us getting that stuff rolling some time soon.

4. Finished Writing

That’s right…one of the writing projects I was working on is finished.  I just need to edit it and do all that fancy stuff, then I need to find some sucker to publish it for me.  HarperCollins here I come!

5. Vacation!

Not mine unfortunately, though.  I’ve been helping to cover my boss’ vacation.  I’m handling the schedule, payroll, and all the crap the higher officers want to throw at me.  Lt. for a day, or rather a week as the case may be.

6. Giving Money Away

Well not just randomly on the side of the street, like some people.  But I pledged money to these guys who are making a pretty awesome-looking comic.  I pledged $40 to their campaign…as of right now, you have roughly 44 hours to outdo me.  Get to it!  One of the guys running it sent me a personal message on Kickstarter, thanking me (and he read the site, so thanks to him, too!) at 2:30 in the morning.  That was nice.  And considering I’ve been talked down to, yelled at, guilted, jilted, and overworked for the past few weeks…it was just nice to have someone thank me so sincerely and so personally for something so impersonal as giving them money over the internet.  So go give them money yourselves, it’ll make you feel better.

Hopefully we’ll be back to regular updates soon.  Y’know, just as soon as I figure out what defines ‘regular’.  As oon as I adopt a Monday-Wednesday-Friday thing, I run out of material in two weeks.  I adopt a Tuesday-Thursday-Occasional Saturday thing and I overflow with topical posts that need to be up ASAP.  Oh well, I’ll figure something out…or not, who knows?  You’ll just have to keep coming back, every day, every other hour, to see what I’m doing, right?  It’s okay if you don’t…3 readers, times 12, is still only 36 views.

Wait a minute…that’s not right.  My views are more like…

What? Nine Thousand?!

 

~RCS

No, really, thanks for coming and thanks for reading. =D

Alan Wake (PC): Review

I’ve recently purchased and begun playing Alan Wake.  Something about being a writer, playing a writer, searching for a manuscript, and talking about another writer…it just touches me somehow.

Alan Wake, for those who don’t know, deals with a writer going on vacation and his wife is kidnapped and he has to fight what is basically dark-elemental zombies.  All the while he is finding segments of a novel’s manuscript, which he has supposedly written but doesn’t remember writing, which gives you avenues into the mindset and future events of the game.  It’s an interesting touch of foreboding.  It’s survival horror genre, like the Resident Evil or Silent Hill series.  It’s a bit closer to Silent Hill, though, because you’re not playing as an elite SWAT member, you’re just a guy with a flashlight and a pistol.

When Darkness is your main enemy…Light is your only ally.

All in all the game isn’t scary at all, you can only be freaked out by being surrounded and outnumbered by monsters so many times before you look at a clearing in the forest and say, “One logger, two hunters, and a hiker…” only to see them appear from the edges of the screen when you walk into the clearing.  Then hit the next clearing and mutter, “Two hunters, a deputy, and a big guy.”  Oo surprise, one deputy, a big guy and two hikers…ho-hum!

At least Penumbra messed with your mind a bit.  I actually quit playing that game at one point because it depressed me to the point of not wanting to go on (I still need to finish it).  But Alan Wake is kind of, well…boring as far as the scares and mindrapes go.

There’s no shortage of crazy people in Bright Falls, Washington.

Oddly enough I still suggest getting it, if you haven’t.  It has an intriguing storyline, a few really interesting characters, and a pretty cool system.  Although I have to admit once you grasp the intricacies and figure out how to hole-up and pick the enemies off effectively, the game becomes more of a tedious trip from cinematic to cinematic.  But the storyline keeps you going through the tedium, making you almost enjoy the tedium, just to know what happens next.

The game is broken into ‘Episode’ segments, complete with ‘Previously On’ recaps between segments.

All in all, I rate it positively.

I don’t know that it has any replay value, except to collect any manuscript pages you might have missed.

One thing I really found enjoyable about it were the little things…radios scattered about let you listen to some talking and then play a song, too.  TV’s with a funny spoof of the Twilight Zone on them, stuff like that.

All the T.V. segments are live-action.

Not to mention the unnecessarily expansive maps and levels.  You can go for some time in different directions that have nothing to do with the story in the hopes of finding something productive…if you’re willing to risk going off the beaten path and traipsing through the thick underbrush filled with ‘taken’ (the main enemy of the game).

The maps go on for miles at times, even in the misty darkness.

I do like the light-based combat, too.  Illuminate an enemy with your flashlight to remove their cloak of darkness, then shoot them.  It’s nice, although like I said earlier…it gets tedious when you’ve got 4 guys coming at you and you have to illuminate and then shoot each one.  Then you fight another three guys, then another four…and so on.  The game suggests to run when you’re outnumbered, but you are outnumbered 80% of the time in the game and all the enemies run faster than you and have projectiles for sport.  Not to mention the dodge feature really doesn’t work when they come at you from behind, because you can’t see which direction to dodge.

If not for the murderous ‘zombies’, Bright Falls would be a beautiful place to visit.

Anyhow, like I said…get it and play it, if you haven’t already.  It’s pretty cheap right now, I got a copy for $19.99, new (from Walmart, but mine had the PC version for that price, too).

~RCS

BTW, I like the name puns.  Alan and Alice Wake.  A. Wake?  Awake.  The writers had their cheesy moments, for sure.

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