Cyborg Sunday, update 4.15.2018:

A leaf on the wind

Doesn’t care how hard its blown:

It enjoys the flight.

“Fate”

Hey everyone!

Bit of a mixed bag on my end lately, as I’m sure you can imagine, given that I missed last week’s update. A bunch of different events collided at once–visiting a tiny family member for her birthday, accidentally ripping out my Libre sensor, trying to find more gainful employment–and by the time I even realized I forgot my weekly post, it was, like, Wednesday.

Dull news: I got my Google Analytics IQ, so watch out, data! I’m observing you.

Epic writer’s news: My feature screenplay “The Mirror Game” won fourth place in The 2018 International Horror Hotel’s horror category! It was my first screenplay, too, so that was really something. There’s a festival starting May 31st and I don’t exactly have a lot of disposable income, but hell yeah am I going to go!

I also hit my 100th short story publication! Hit it a while ago, actually. I miscounted. My bad. Either way, that’s two resolutions off the 2018 list!

Lastly, stay tuned, because I’m having a cover reveal for Visions from the Veil soon, and it’s going to blow your friggin mind’.

I want to end on the high notes, so that’s all for now. Have an amazing day!

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Free fiction! Planned Obsolescence, a short neo-noir, sci-fi story

Hey everyone!

I recently put up another FREE story over at my patreon! Give it a look, and feel free to keep the PDF for your reading pleasure later. This will go into my annual collection, so be sure to pledge! All patrons get a copy at the end of the year.

The next TWO people to pledge get a free ebook, so sign up soon. This offer’s going quick.

Check it out!

I’m now a reviewer @gametimereviews

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve gotten a gig in game journalism, which combines my two favorite hobbies: the internet, and complaining.

Kidding, of course. As a writer and gamer, I couldn’t be happier that I’m joining this team. For those of you who don’t know, http://www.gametimereviews.com is most well known for adding a touch of the personal to their reviews. While publications like Game Informer focus on the objective things like playability and mechanics, GTR looks at replayability and, overall, if the game is actually fun. 

I’ve repeatedly bashed AAA games like L. A. Noire for being great on paper, but ultimately boring. I’m even a little ticked at Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst for having such a short main campaign (I beat the game and all side missions in probably 10-15 hours, which includes the times I got distracted collectible hunting).

I won’t be reposting my reviews here, but all their content is free, so I’ll be posting links and FYIs every time I’ve got something new up. Until then, have a good one.

@HoltonsHorror reviews #CaptainAmericaCivilWar @Marvel

Okay, so this movie isn’t horror, but who would I be if I didn’t devote a blog post to the heroes I’ve come to know and love?

For those of you that are new to this planet, Captain America: Civil War is about The Avengers coming to a disagreement over the Sokovia Accords, a UN-ratified document that would only allow the team to intervene if and when a UN committee deems intervention necessary. This doesn’t fly with a lot of the members, but it really doesn’t with ole Cap’n A, whose compulsion to act when he sees injustice–and his experiences in WWII–seriously clash with this “Let’s put the good guys on a leash” philosophy.

Now, how did this movie do? Let’s delve in (Or scroll down for a TL;DR).

(SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD)

It was a pretty good adaptation, all things considered. There was no way they were going to be able to bring in every hero in the Marvel Universe, so considering that they introduce Black Panther and Spiderman while also expanding on the day-to-day relationships of the other Avengers was really something.

Paul Rudd! How was I not going to start with him? He was phenomenal, like he’d walked right off Ant Man and into CA:CW, ultimately using his Ant suit in a way that will please those familiar with the comics and surprise those who aren’t (and extra props to his comically deep laugh during such a big scene).

Black Panther! While his character arc was predictable, it was still well executed, the costume/stunts were great, and Chadwick Boseman was a perfect choice.

Spiderman! Tom Holland was another spot-on casting, and since Spidey wasn’t part of the driving action, he got to really immerse himself in the role. He’s really only present for the big fight scene, yet stands out by delivering a constant barrage of jokes while actively fighting, just like in the comics.

Love! One of my favorite hobbies is imagining what these superhumans do during their down time. What bank does Natasha Romanoff use? What does Tony Stark eat for breakfast? Has Steve Rogers ever played a video game? (This is a great exercise for writers, BTW).

But, one of my favorite scenes in CA:CW comes from Vision and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) casually hanging out at The Avengers compound, the buds of romance clearly blooming. I especially liked how the Mind Stone fails him when it comes to cooking. They’re endearing and amusing scenes that provide a respite from the heavy tone of the movie, and frankly, I could’ve done with another one of those scenes (despite the 2.5 hr run time).

But how was the plot?

I was really surprised at how integral Bucky was. I knew he’d be involved, but The Winter Soldier wound up being one of the main characters, and though his personal trials were, again, nothing too unique, the initial twist involving Hydra’s Winter Soldier program was surprising. Then when they showed how Bucky was involved with ole’ Tony Stark, things got REALLY surprising, and basically turned the plot inside out.

The tensions run high between the teammates throughout, and we see many instances of team allegiance being challenged by personal relationship. The poignancy, most notably when Captain America attends a particular funeral, was profound and welcomed.

There are, of course, some pitfalls. As with any Marvel movie, there’s about ten to twenty minutes devoted to explaining or setting up for new heroes/villains later on, including the second after credits scene (all I’ll say is that it’s about Spidey). To the writers’/director’s credit, they do humorously skip past Spiderman’s origin (Holland says, “When what happened happened, my senses were turned up to eleven”), which got a lot of laughs from the seasoned viewers.

The aspect I most appreciated, though, was that this was clearly written for people who’d seen the other movies. The Falcon and Ant Man refer to their brawl in Ant Man several times; Falcon and Bucky clearly haven’t forgotten each other and are still sore over The Winter Soldier; Stark and Pepper Pots have a development in their relationship that might be lost on those who didn’t see the Iron Man films. This not only saved time and delivered constant, fresh writing, but it made me feel a little more validated for having spent so much money seeing all those movies.

Some Dull Bits

The negative aspects are few and far between. The music, for example, is performed and written very well, but isn’t distinguishable from the scores in other Marvel movies. Some scenery and backgrounds look the same (how different can one destroyed city block be from another), though this is balanced by some very interesting arenas, namely an airport and a Hydra compound. There are some would-be significant characters who, due to limited screentime, are criminally underdeveloped (like Marissa Tomei’s Aunt May).

And, of course, Hawk Eye comes back, and is about as effective as he’s ever been. Sure, he’s still clearly a clever tactician, but his role seems more to showcase the other character’s abilities, like when he tries to help Scarlet Witch, gets overpowered by Vision, and has to have her rescue him.

…Although, it’s kind of nice to see a guy in a typical “damsel who tries to help and needs to be saved” position.

The Summary (TL;DR)

See this movie. Just go see it. Right now, in IMAX 3D, like I did. It’s by far one of the best Marvel films to date, so much so that I’m glad Thor and The Hulk weren’t in it, because it would’ve demanded changing a fairly fantastic group dynamic.

The combat is stylish, dynamically-shot, and still manages to be new despite almost a dozen of these comic adaptation movies (not even counting DC!). This feels more like watching people in conflict rather than mere characters, a huge step in the right direction for a franchise that was starting to lack emotional depth, beyond the usual “I don’t want to fight my family” or “I don’t want to lose my love interest” plots.

I was worried about Joss Whedon taking his hands off these movies, even though this wasn’t really an Avengers film, but am glad to say that the Russo brothers nailed it. I give it a 9/10, with half a point lost for the soundtrack, and .1 stars lost for every time I’ve had to hear someone complain about Stark’s ego. Otherwise and overall, fantastic.

I broke the cycle! …Almost. #LayersofFear @blooberteam

Ye gods, that was grueling. Another three times I walked that house before I finally got a conclusion that definitively ended my eleven-run Layers of Fear campaign.

The solution, ironically, was probably a simple one. In the hallway where the piano is yanked back toward a blacked-out hallway, I stopped long enough to realize there was another door there, at the end. This may have been patched up in the most recent update, but I don’t care.

I got the Wife and Child ending, which *SPOILERS* ends with the artist lighting all his paintings on fire and burning himself alive. *END SPOILERS*

Here’s what I did:

–I looked at baby/family related things by zooming in (the zoom is important!)

–I played with the globes and other objects.

–I read pretty much everything I could, esp. the note in the little box in the piano-yank hallway and the document in the dresser in the phone-call-in-reverse hallway.

–I got killed at every possible situation, but did NOT jump to my death in the library. I DID jump down the hole with his paintings, WITHOUT bringing them up, and pulled the chain in the chain-or-crank room to listen to him scream.

–I walked toward the horrible sentient baby doll creature in the red hallway of baby madness.

–After the piano-yank hallway, I looked out the window at the flashing light, prompting The Wife to appear behind me. I also lit the candelabra in the hall after the anniversary calendar room, then looked at her rippling shadow on the wall and turned as if to meet her.

–I gathered all spoken words and rat pictures, and re-examined those I’d collected in earlier playthroughs (the final rat picture + one memento reset with each run).

–I stopped to listen to piano music, when it played (this wasn’t intentionally for the ending, I just found the soundtrack beautiful).

What did I learn, after all this? Absolutely nothing.

Because there’s still one more ending.

I want to see it.

Part of me needs to see it–for real, in person, on my PS4.

…Here we go again.

5 Reasons Why #DMC 2 Needs to Happen–and be Open World @capcom_unity @ninjatheory

It’s a mixed bag, isn’t it? The DMC: Devil May Cry reaction, I mean. Some people loved the game. Some hated it. Some made disparaging comments about Dante’s new look and behaviors, comparing him to the original, claiming he was an “angsty teen who got pissed that they raised the price of Camel Lights.”

I said the above quote, and I long since came around on the self-destructive nephilim. I’ve even forged my way through Dante Must Die mode (and all the DLC modes). Let’s take a look at why DMC 2 would be a sick open world experience.

1: Secret Missions EVERYWHERE

Secret missions have long been  a staple of the Devil May Cry universe. Sure, they were easy to find in DMC, and damn near impossible to find in the four original games, but what better a way to celebrate a game’s expansion than by utilizing the pull/grab/boost/enemy step movement system to make us really work for it? Put a door somewhere that’s easy to see, but so hard to get to that players say, “I’ll beat the game first. Maybe I’ll find new traversal skills, then come back.”

Add in the chaos of limbo-meets-the-human-world and you’ve got one hell of a landscape to explore.

2: Demons Fighting Literally Everything

If Sparda was any indication, the demons aren’t always in agreement. With Mundus gone and some punk-ass halfling nephilim leading the pack, it seems likely some demons will want to fight Virgil. Some will continue Mundus’s mission and fight Dante. Some will invariably attack humans. Some may attack each other.

In short, this was a recipe for chaos that could invite TONS of side missions and plot points, especially since Dante declared himself mankind’s protector against Virgil and the demons.

3: Human Rebellion

If Dante really wants to be mankind’s protector, he’ll have to work with the humans at some point, a la Lady from Dante’s Awakening. Given his propensity for angry lonership, only mildly dampened by Kat’s influence, it would be interesting to see how he handles a situation where people want to be around him.

In DMC, his only associations were for one night stands and with The Order–and even then, he only spoke to his twin brother and Kat. How will the Son of Sparda deal with this mounting sense of responsibility, and would working for/with/against mankind alter the ending?

4: Who is Kat?

It’s made clear in-game that Dante and Virgil only can defeat the demons because they’re nephilim. This rare and elevated status grants them the power to slay the supernatural.

…So how did Kat kill her foster father?

She mentions that he was a demon who used to abuse her, and that she killed him. Is it possible that she’s a nephilim too, or at least a being of otherwordly power, rather than just a spellcaster? Granted, she says she did it “with Virgil’s help,” and we don’t know how much he helped (give her advice? cut off his head?), AND she may have only killed his human form, but there is far more to her story.

Plus, the concept art shows her as a violinist, and I kinda want to see Dante complain about her musical taste.

5: Dante’s Destiny

The art, story, and general set-up of the main campaign and DLC make it clear that Virgil is going to lead the demons, but they also show Dante leading the angels. No Devil May Cry game (to my knowledge) has featured angels. The closest they’ve come is vicariously, through Bayonetta.

There’s so much room to expand here that I don’t know where to begin. What would they look like? Could you summon them into battle, or would they just appear when the plot demands it? Would they disapprove of you using Devil Trigger? Will Dante get an Angel Trigger? Are they all goody-two-shoes, or are some sultry, booze-swilling sinners, like the strippers Dante (probably) keeps on retainer?

The fact is, Capcom believes DMC: Devil May Cry didn’t sell well enough and wasn’t popular enough to merit a sequel. Who knows–maybe that’s true. I’m no expert, and I haven’t seen any sales figures. all I know is that if it DOES happen, and I maintain it SHOULD happen, then these are some of the points we should get to explore.

Fight the low sales with a whole new direction! Break the linear mold and show us what happens when a half-demon half-angel hybrid gets to romp his way across the twisted remnants of two smashed-together worlds! Give me more of Kat’s backstory! Use the open world form to fully explore these characters and show them as the complex, dynamic figures we know they can be, and I bet DMC 2: Demonic Boogaloo will fly off the shelves.

#Kickstarter! #Free #poem! Come get more stuff!

I’ve got a Kickstarter going trying to help fund a book of poems I’d like to write on the art and culture of Prague. I’m especially interested in how the decline of religion in the area since World War 2 affected people on the interpersonal level, given how prominent Christianity had been in days prior.

If you’re like, “I don’t know, maybe I’d support him, but is he any good?” then here’s a poem to try to help change your mind: “Snow Blind,” originally published with TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics.

SNOW BLIND

Clarissa dances among drifts.
Form illuminated by sun-stained
snowfall, blinding blankets
Recording footsteps through light.

Shadows anchored to weary feet
Attempt to teach that darkness is
More natural than blindness.

Beyond comforting walls,
Strangers stare at side-winding scar,
Tracing its hungry path from eye
Along jaw to mouth that cannot smile.

Eyes shut, hand placed as visor,
She hides inside so snow can’t remind:
I walk only when light falls.

Plus, high contributors get Reiki treatments, dedicated poems, signed copies upon publication, and more! A serious bargain going on over here, so would you kindly be the truest definition of a wonderful, beautiful person and give it a look? Maybe a share too if you’re Batman levels of awesome.