Thursday, December 27, 2007

Friday Snippet: Hunter and Hunted

Yet another piece written for my sci-fi writing class. I haven't developed much of the story behind it, but again, I like it. I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think and leave a link!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.
Through the deadly crush of the snow-blanketed forest and the heavy scent of pine sneaking between the branches, Lyte knew he was Hunted. He paused, snow grunting under his boots. He knelt. Tilting his head back to the cold winter sky, he narrowed his eyes, searching for a sign of what stalked his footsteps. He could taste it, like the flat tang of rust: blood on the wind.

Traces of it, like spider webs, drifted through the blackened trees, and he saw scents and memories and whispered words of travelers long dead swirling on the air. But no sign of the thing prowling through the snow. He frowned darkly. He’d been Hunted most of his life, walking from one Edge of the world to the other since the last battle at the Port o' Mourning. But this time his ash-black hair stood on end and his nerves crackled with near-panic. A strange alien threat soaked the air.

His stomach lurched and he leaned forward, pressing his bare hand deep into the snow. Voices assaulted him in a cacophony, calling his name in lullabies and battle cries. Above all others, her voice - Even’s voice - rose out of memory, as clear as if she crouched beside him under the slate grey sky, her slender arms looped around his neck.

“I’ll never marry a Hunter,” she said.

The first time she told him that, they were children lying in rain-wet grass on a cool spring night. The whole world gleamed like a freshly painted canvas. He would turn to her, his cheek pressed against the silvered jade blades of grass. Her jaw was touched in starlight and he never answered her. He never answered her because her voice lifted off into the night and it was enough that he heard her humming and speaking in rhyme just above the cricket-song. But when he was older and all of that was gone and he Hunted the world over for blood, it was never enough.

So say we all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas All

Merry Christmas. I hope you are all with your families and safe. See you after the holiday season.

One More Thing...
And the wonderful news I promised? You know, I never noticed it before. Then one day, he walked into the room and I couldn't stop smiling and the world sort of went vivid and just lifted, as if gravity didn't matter. Bear told me he liked me - wanted to date - and I agreed. Just that simple. Now life and everything else in it is wonderful.

So, I found this boy -

A dark-eyed chemistry boy -
A boy who likes me.

So say we all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Snippet: Ares Last Stand

This was a flash-sort-of-fiction I wrote up for my sci-fi writing class portfolio. I haven't developed much of the story behind it, but I like it. I hope you enjoy. I know I've been out of the snippet loop for a while, but I'm hoping I'll have more time this next semester. Let me know what you think and leave a link!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.
She waits at the docks at Olympus Mons. Far below on Tharsis Fields, she sees the lines of soldiers sprawling out in black and red. She feels a moment of regret. A few brief flickers of light, like giant flash bulbs, signal the end of her world. Mushroom clouds sprout and bloom, billowing up until they crest the seventeen-mile summit where the Alala, her last armed cruiser, hovers, tethered at the edge of heaven.

A few brief flickers of light, like giant flash bulbs, signal the end of her world.

She refuses to cry, but beads of liquid salt drift up like pearls in the zero gravity. Her brothers are dead. Ma’adim lies in ruins over her lover. The Terran Federation waits to glass her civilization from orbit. She is the last of the House of Ares.

But before the last ship out, she passed her memories on – the memories of the Battle at Sarandib Bridge, of the Terran ships looming large and menacing against the Martian sky. She may end here, but this is only beginning. Far off in the dark, the last of her fleet waited in silent wrath.

So say we all.

p.s. I have good news that I'll tell you later. Promise.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Did Survive

Post-Final Good Day(s), Grad Schools and Mold Colonies
Well, ladies and gents, finals week is finished. I got my grades this morning and from my cheerful tone, you can probably gather that things went in my favor. For the past few days, I've laid up from that gauntlet. Laying up includes going for drives, playing with fat tabby cats at Petsmart, browsing around Barnes & Noble and dozing on Bear's couch after celebrating my nomination for a scholarship.

I've also been able catch my breath and get my materials together for graduate school applications. Most of my schools have later application dates, which is wonderful. I'll have time to get my writing sample together and send off all the transcripts, letters of recommendation, shot records and other bureaucratic paperwork without pulling my hair out.

Also, as finals came down, we discovered our dorm was laced with mold At first, we didn't know if it was another flaw in this building: either way, we weren't really surprised. When your dorm has seven-walled rooms, 5/6 washers that don't work, and one-coat-paint that chips when you breathe on it, you're not surprised that mold is the obvious next step.

One Good Day
Lazing on the couch
after Smirnoff and sandwiches.

This was a good day.

Colony 01
Condensation beads
Mold colonizes my sill.
Allergies and colds!

Mass Effect...and My Face
So...I finished Mass Effect. I finished Mass Effect and my face is thoroughly melted, my socks thoroughly rocked. If you'll forgive the horrid quality of the picture to the left, you can see my version of the lead character in all 47 levels of his coolness. As John Shepard, I gallivanted across the galaxy, destroying synthetics and biological terrors while saving beautiful alien scientists and duking it out with the coolest bad guy in the whole universe.

In the bouncy MAKO land-rover, I laid siege to countless bases, cracked the decryption on hundreds of weapons lockers, and squashed newly evolving forms of alien life. I tried to play a natural mix of Paragon/Renegade, slinging out cruel words to my enemies, while romancing every available character on deck and charming my way to better deals at the markets. I tried to make sure my action were justified, that I was playing it as an experience and a story - not just another game. The results were absolutely fantastic.

While Mass Effect makes a great attempt to blend traditional RPG elements with a shooter, what stands head-and-shoulders above everything else in this game is the addictive conversation and story. Mass Effect is the first in a series of three, so hopefully any bugs will get worked out. Sure, it's got frame rate problems and loads a little slow at times, but that's hardly a good enough reason not to get it. You should look into it. For serious.

Other Stuff to Discuss
As I head toward home and Christmas break with the folks, I'll fill you guys in on the missing month of my life. I've made huge leaps in my novel, planned out an illustrated short story for next semester, read a couple of fantastic books and maybe found a field of study I hadn't considered before. So glad to be back. I'll be making the rounds this week to reintroduce myself, so see you then!

So say we all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Catching My Breath Under the Gun

Finals. I'll talk more once I can live and breathe again. Just give me a week. See you on the other side.

So say we all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On the Side of the Human Race

As I read through Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I was moved by the hero's dedication to his cause. His utter belief in the righteousness of his cause was beautiful and stirring, and I found myself envying his faith. I wonder if, in our current culture of overwhelming ammounts of information, we can really relate to Rico anymore. When I finished the book, I regretted that my government did not inspire me to that level of patriotism or belief.

Either way, I sort admired and resented Heinlein's ability to see force and convenient survival morality as a positive thing. His characters voice the appealing idea that what is right for a group's survival (physically, culturally, spiritually) is what that society deems "morally correct." I don't have time in this post, but I'm not sure his arguments would hold up so flawlessly under heavy scrutiny.
Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.

Morals - all correct moral laws - derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level...Correct morality can only be derived from what man is.
-- Lt. Colonel Dubois
Heinlein goes on at length about how wars should be conducted and the violent nature of humanity. While he was militant in most of his characters' speeches, I was touched by his belief that (at least in human-to-human relationships) we are a compassionate and loyal species.

(We have) a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price. Weakness? It might be the unique strength that wins us a Galaxy...The universe will let us know - later - whether or not Man has any right to expand through it. In the meantime the (Infantry) will be in there, on the bounce and swinging, on the side of our own race.
-- Mr. Rico
In my science fiction readings class, our discussion sometimes falls back on the subject of violence and whether or not it is inherant in human nature. I don't like the idea that our species is hardwired for violence anymore than the next guy. But evolutionarily, we are the dominant species on this planet, fighting for the past billion years or so to claim absolute control, molding natural and technological worlds to our will. We are currently the only known species capable of obliterating everything.

While I adored the book, I realized that as a generation of relativists, we try to stand for something and be tolerant at the same time - we're caught in the middle and that makes us indecisive. I think that Heinlein probably conveniently simplified the underlying issues addressed in Starship Troopers. The enemy threatens the entire human species...and the enemy is not human. They're bugs. That makes a difference.

Any thoughts? What's your opinion on Heinlein's ideas or Starship Troopers in general? Are these tropes particular to science fiction or do you think they could work outside the genre?

So say we all.
p.s. I'll tell you about Mass Effect later this week.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Collective Giving of Thanks

While most of you probably spent this holiday with your families, I chose to stay at the dorm and work on my thesis and my writing sample for graduate school. My list of giving thanks is as follows. Forgive its superficial nature: I wasn't in the mood to be sensitive and deep.

To Master Chief, Ellen Ripley and John Conner for collectively saving the human race from villainous aliens and machines.

To Samurai Jack, Clint Eastwood and Roland Deschain for collectively being the coolest lone wolves to ever battle against the forces of evil.

To Office Depot, Keynote and my greatest friend Jocelyn for collectively helping me keep my novel and short stories in some semblance of order.

To Mom and Dad for collectively being there.

So say we all.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Technopeasant Webscab or Print-Media Elitist

I will never forget the first computer I ever saw or my adoration of its organizational systems and its ability to hold all of my ideas in one place. I was about six or seven and my dad brought home the most hideous computer. It was a colossal monstrosity that booted up from DOS with pixelated white text on a black background. When I printed my first story, the dot-matrix printer screamed out fifty pages over the period of about two hours. I was so tremendously pleased with myself.

Since then, technology has always been an increasingly important part of my writing life: my documents in Microsoft Word, my plans in Keynote, my playlists in Itunes. Over the weekend, I picked up an article from the NWP site in which most Americans agreed that technology was an incredible aid to developing writers. Of course, I completely agree. Online communities, publication opportunities and research tools have all become readily available to the common user with the advent of the Internet and a massive information explosion.

What is most interesting to me is the widening maw between traditional print-media and the evolving front of Internet and e-book publication. An obvious stench of elitism clouds this discussion, but I find it fascinating how defensive both sides can be. According to one side or the other, Internet publishing either spells the downfall of respectable writing since "anyone" can get published or it is the hammer of justice for the "common people," demolishing those self-serving publishing houses who only favor the educated elite. I have problems with both concepts that I don't really have time or patience to develop in this post.

Just in publishing this blog, I obviously stand proudly with the so-called legion of pixel-stained technopeasant webscab wretches. But, more important (and interesting) than the debate of which is better - ebook or traditional print - is the question of why the split exists in the first place. Any thoughts?

So say we all.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Robe of Novas and Other Things

In my sci-fi writing class, we're taking a look at science fiction haiku and other speculative poetry. To be very honest, I don't write or read poetry. Once, I started working, this is what came out.

A Gift
A robe of cold stars,
bright blazing novas, he gave
to the sun-haired girl.

Coming Home
Hail, the Sons of Sol.
Bred in war and brimmed with blood,
They are coming home.

Guard Duty
Weary Norsemen, guard
Titan's lonely methane seas
and long for their fjords.

Writing and Concern for Community
When you work in a Writing Center, you are faced with students who don't want to be there and who generally don't like to write. Their professors tell them to pay us a visit. This is code for I don't want to deal with you. When you've got that attitude from a professor, combined with the student's embarrassment, life as a tutor is very unrewarding.

But, over the past six weeks, as I've observed six Composition 1 classes for my CompTheory class and seen a few very interesting things. Of six classes, only one showed issue with "remedial" tasks. The other five focused on larger, rhetorical problems. All six were concerned with the community they'd created in the classroom and offered insightful critique. I know I probably shouldn't have been surprised, but when you work at a Writing Center and see only those students who don't want to be there, it gets very discouraging, very quickly. Watching these students be so kind and respectful of each other's work was incredible.

How To Play A Game
When I get a new video game, I never play in front of my guy-friends until I've worked out the controls and gotten past the tutorial phase. I want to make sure I'm a smooth customer when the bad guys come running - that I don't look like an idiot. When I started playing Assassin's Creed yesterday, I decided it didn't much matter. I had entirely too much fun scaling buildings, swinging around on narrow ledges and collecting flags for achievements. I heart this game. It's all about patience, about sneaking and about taking your time as you explore the world and complete your missions.

And then I read IGN's review. I decided they probably didn't play the same game I did (or at least that they probably didn't play it the same way I did). They played a "repetitive" game with a "bad story." I played a game where I swooped off of high buildings, saved citizens in distress, assassinated bad guys and picked pockets as I made my way through each city. Don't get me wrong, IGN wrote a very thorough review, but you might want to check out Penny Arcade's post for another perspective. I think IGN probably played Assassin's Creed for fast-paced action, rushing to finish the game to write the review. I played it (read: thoroughly adored) for the deliberate slow-paced stealth experience.

That's that.
So say we all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When Life Gets in the Way

This weekend, I worked on my novel for the first time in about three weeks. Sometimes school and life and everything else gets in the way and I can barely sit and think about where the story must go. After reading Seanachi's post about why she writes this morning, I went to our study room. An outline for the next section of the book followed with absolutely lovely results.

One of my characters and the culture of her clan has grown delightfully sinister. I did not expect this darker side to be so fascinating. The new version of this character makes decisions in an instant, forcing the rest of the characters to react. Apparently, this formula puts my plot on steroids and speeds things up - just a tad.

Over the past few days, I have grown increasingly dissatisfied with my job. I'm not even sure why. I just walk through the door and feel tired and sort of on edge and look forward to the time I get to come back to the dorm. We're going to hope that this will pass.

So say we all.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Difference Between Obsession and Passion

My coworkers informed me today that I am obsessed. At first, I let it go. I shook it off. But it followed me through the day and I can't get away from it. I shouldn't feel the need to defend myself, to justify what I do. But I do.

I adore my novel and develop it scene by scene, chapter by chapter every single day. I'm submitting short stories to magazine and designing artwork for a class I'm taking next semester. I adore playing HALO 3 and the community of players who game with me. I adore my work at the university where I tutor students and create workshops to build up a writing scene on campus. I've carried 18 hours for my junior and senior years. I've kept a near perfect GPA while working +15 hours a week.

I don't discuss these things that I love with my coworkers or my suitemates. Generally, I'm afraid I'll bore them. So I mostly keep it all to myself and geek about it all on my blog. So am I obsessed? Hardly. Am I driven? Most definitely. The difference? A value judgment against my lifestyle.

Do my co-workers make this value judgment against something they can't understand? Against someone else's ability to be passionate about something? Or is this a form of elitism, which allows the few to determine what is useful-legitimate or base-entertainment?

Either way, I don't really have time to figure that out. This post took up enough time. I'm off to write another chapter, to play through the last two campaign missions on HALO: CE and then to eat dinner with the guys. What are you doing this weekend?

So say we all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Snapshots of Downtown and the Rock

Signs from Downtown: Pentacostal Waka-Waka
Our Transient Art and a Painted Door

Beautiful Butterflies, Bathing in the Street and Keeping Watch

Building Pressure, Lady Liberty in a Bar, Lovely Food and Jugglers

Superheroes and StormtroopersSo say we all.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Super Sunday: Stories, Scenes, Sergeant

This past week was horrifically stressful: projects piled up, meals passed unnoticed and sleep drifted by as a figment of my imagination. But then the weekend came. The Weekend of the Miracles.

Swallowing Stories
I drafted out the last half of my novel and got two or three scenes written before I was overwhelmed with loads of tired on Friday night. Saturday, I brainstormed about the other books in the series (a rare and pleasant vice I entertain briefly every few months or so). Every single time I think about what comes next in the story, I sort of want to dance around and tell every single person on earth that they have no idea how much more awesome I can pack into a plot. But I don't. I hold it in. I sit on it. I swallow it whole and it holds through the next three months until I need to think about it again.

At the Writing Center I am helping a wonderful woman work on her novel. We get along fabulously, with her novel progressing with each week. But she told me something on Friday that has bothered me all weekend. She said her family pushes her to finish the book, to hurry.

My response? I told her to make some space, to gently distance her family from her project, so that she might write in peace. Writers should be able to swallow their stories, to accumulate ideas as long as is necessary, until they are ready to write. Not before. You can't rush these things.

Come Back With Your Shield Or On It.
This Saturday, I gained the rank of Spartan Sergeant for HALO 3. I was pleased. We celebrated accordingly (wink) and decided to name our clan Holt Otter. We knew we shouldn't take our name seriously, because while we aren't lousy by any means, we don't really see ourselves as a badass clan. We're friendly. We like to play, to watch out for our own and to work as a team. Otters fit the bill. The other benefit of being Clan Otter is that as we go out in teams of 2-8, we can adjust our name according to team size: Otter Squad/Platoon/ Battalion /Legion.

You can see few of us below, each member photoshopped in from various snapshots. We're a pretty well-rounded team: snipers, shotgunners, along with lite and heavy assault-explosives guys. We may not always crush our opposition, but I always thoroughly enjoy myself. A few of us didn't get into the picture, but I'll try to get a full team roster up in the next few weeks.
From the Rock
V and I went into the Rock on Saturday to the river market. Photos are due from my last trip down there, so Wednesday will be a photo post. Hope you look forward to it! And thanks so much for your suggestions for our clan name, BTW!

So say we all.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Good, the Nameless and the Faceless

This past Tuesday, I turned 22. I actually forgot about it until Sunday night and then suddenly remembered. Bear bought a cake on Tuesday night and we're still munching on it as the week goes on. This weekend the plan is to write, have a HALO 3 LAN party, (maybe) get some homework done and sleep. Also, Vespacian carved Master Chief's face and my HALO 3 insignia into a pumpkin for Halloween. It's absolutely adorable. Pictures will ensue.

The Good, The Faceless and The Nameless
I have various reasons for adoring the faceless, nameless hero.

When a hero is faceless or nameless he is more emotionally accessible to the audience. We love him because he are unknown to us. We fill in the gaps of his past, his childhood, his psyche. Most of the time, we add our own experiences in those gaps and envision a hero more and more like us - maybe to the point of actually being us.

We love him because he is cool and collected. Eastwood's Man with No Name endures as a pop culture icons precisely because of his detachment and his grace in times of crisis. The Master Chief from HALO and Samus Aran from Metroid also share this characteristic. Neither are overly emotional or talkative.

We love them because, at the end of the world, when the lead starts to fly, they stay low and frosty.

Update on Research
As I have previously mentioned, I'm conducting a research project to see if someone could accurately judge a player's gender in the anonymity of HALO 3. I'm focusing on game play, appearance, choice of weapons, player profiles and stats. So far, the only area I'm getting any sort of determining factor is in team vs. solo play.

Apparently, most females enjoy tactical, strategic object-based games, instead of random slayer matches. I'm gathering film and photos for this project and will probably post them here as I go.

I think a "Nameless-Faceless" hero story is due.

So say we all.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A History of Crazy and Cool

My apologies for the lack of Friday Snippet. Things have been incredibly crazy this past week with University.

A Brief History of Crazy
I register for classes today, so I had to go visit my adviser on Thursday.
I have five novel chapters due today for my thesis.
My project in Writing for New Tech - the HALO 3 and gender project - is due this week.
My project for Technical Writing is due this week.
I still need to observe two more Comp. 1 classes for my Composition theory class.
Graduation is coming up in May and I have to pay and start the process now.
Application deadlines for Grad School are all in January, so I'm starting that process as well.

A More In-Depth History of Cool
First, I am pleased that you guys like to geek. Assassin's Creed is being released on November 13 for the PS3 and th XBox 360, courtesy of the same guys who brought you the pleasure of the Prince of Persia games. I think the thing I enjoy about what I've seen so far for AC is the fact that Altair doesn't seem to show much of his face and hasn't spoken once in a trailer that I've seen. See any similarities? I should probably do a post about my fascination with the Heroes with No Name and the Heroes with No Face. It's fascinating. I promise.

Second, my parents came up to the Rock for the weekend and we went down to the River Market where we saw jugglers, pipers, an antique carshow, and a parade which included Darth Vader, Batman, Superman, an Imperial Storm Trooper and a Jedi. It was overwhelming in its level of cool. I have pictures and promise to post them.

Third, I managed to play some of the most amazing team battles in my HALO experience this past Saturday and Sunday mornings while everyone was either asleep or in church. I have pictures and some incredible video, but I'm setting up the clips for optimum coolness. It will accompany my Friday Snippet this coming Friday, so prepare to have your socks rocked.

Fourth, I'm leading a workshop at my University for the next two weeks. I am thrilled.

Lastly - my marine-friend is safe. His brother talked to his mother who, in turn, passed the word on to us. Matt had to spend a few nights on the tarmac near the smoke, but he is safe We say thankee.

So say we all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Three Things I Want

Rain in the Rock and Fires Near Camp Pendleton: I Want My Friend to be Safe
Yesterday, while it rained and went chilly at university, my umbrella, faithful and friendly, decided to turn traitor. In a giant gust of wind, umby flipped inside out and hurled water all over me. It was so funny I could just stand there and laugh like an idiot as my shoes soaked up the cold rainwater and stained my socks black and blue. My bout of "singing" in the rain ended in a bout of sneezing later in the evening.

I learned, amid the sneezing, that a marine friend of mine might have been evacuated out of Camp Pendleton due to the fires in California today. We had a few fiction classes together while he was at University and he roomed with a few other guys from our group last year. I keep him in my thoughts and hope he is safe. I saw him for he first time since his graduation just about a week ago. It made me all kinds of happy that he stood up to say hello in his schnazzy uniform when I came in the room. He told us of his exploits in gaining his various medals and included an entire story dedicated to what a wonderful meal the Warriors' Breakfast was. He'd made a list of everything he ate! :D I hope he safe and pray for those in harm's way.

Forever New Things I Should Read: I Want These Books
The Forever War is the next big "Bri Needs to Read This" project. I've heard so much about it and Tim mentioned it in his Friday Snippet comment last week. The author came to our sister campus across town, but I wasn't able to make it to his talk. I've wanted to take on much more military-heavy science fiction since last year. So, I think, along with The Forever War and Ender's Game Series, I might try to take in some of the newer pulp stuff (the HALO and DOOM books). I know, they're cheesy, but so were the pulps from which our greatest sci-fi writers emerged.

My New Game (Read: Geek-Love): I Want Altair
Below, we have the next game Bri wants for the XBox 360: Assassin's Creed. I know, I attempted not to blog out my geek-ness, but this is the one thing that I am allowed to be an incredible nerd about. I adore playing HALO 3 and AC looks to be (almost) as incredible. According to the demo video, most surfaces in the game are climbable as you do assassin-ish things through the character, Altair (doesn't he look nifty?).

Also, the AI in the game is apparently fairly responsive to players' choices. Scaling a wall in midday garners attention from the crowd below, which in turn calls the guards. Slaughtering someone in the street or knocking someone over gains you the mob's hatred. In short, a player's actions are not without consequence. The game seems to imply that a player must move on a much stealthier and realistic level. So. Much. Fun.

Despite the gamer talk and the geek-urges, my thoughts are with those in California and my friend. Please be safe.

So say we all.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mr. Haha, Sledge Hammers and Sexy XBox

The XBox
This past weekend, I finally purchased my first gaming console. The XBox 360 has since become a way for me to save the universe, race million dollar cars and tend a garden of pinatas. Here, we have a display of way-too-much-sexy in one place. Btw, check out the gamertag on the left! I added it...and I think it looks sexy too. Gamertag, 360 controller and The Spirit. Say amen. Amen.

The Wall and the Sledge Hammer

On Caldwell Street, there was a Wall. Those of us at the dorm never understood the purpose of this Wall. It was too short to keep people out, but too tall to be anything else but a Wall. It was hideous. While it was tall enough to keep out neighborhood animals or small rodents, there were no gates at the entrance or exit. All told, the Wall was an anomaly. So imagine our amazement when we drove by Caldwell and saw a sign advertising its demolition. V and I decided to take pictures.On Saturday, after my GRE, V and I, returned to the dreaded beast along with Bear another friend whose name matches his appearance. We demolished a good chunk of the Wall with 10 lb. sledge hammers after we beautified it with a spray paint mural. We also saw two of my professors. (I discovered today, that Dr. V has a blog. Go look!) We had an absolutely terrific time drawing graffiti and pulling down the Wall while the Symphony played on the front porch and collected donations. The fact that two such extremes, refined culture and brute-force-barbarism, could exist in such a small space was amazing.

I'll post the pictures of our transitory art as soon as I figure out how to get them off of my phone camera. My main project read: ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE. I tried to draw The Watchmen shot-up-smiley face, but that got nixed when I ran out of yellow spray paint. Also, I'd never sledged anything in my life so we had fantastic amounts of fun until the people running the show told us we should stop.

Apparently, they advertised that the community could sledge the wall, but didn't actually think college kids with pent up frustration over standardized testing and academic midterms would come with hammers. Oh well. We got in a few good hits.

Mr. Haha
Afterward, Bear, V and I pulled over in the Episcopalian church parking lot where we met a gloriously fat stray tabby named Mr. Haha. He was friendly and wanted attention so we enjoyed a photo opportunity. A little girl climbing into her mother's minivan nearby informed me of Mr. Haha's name, and the fact that he didn't like to be picked up, that he would scratch me and give me the evil eye. As it turns out, he might just not like little girls who think they know everything. He loved me. And he gave a cursory hello to V. He liked Bear too. He loved me.

We continued through our downtown on foot, took a few lovely pictures. Here they are, for your viewing pleasure. I'll post more pictures of our exploits on Wednesday, at the latest. For now, behold!

So say we all.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Snippet: Jericho Down

Well, my friends, today was a day of accomplishments, medals and rank promotions. Today I wrote over 4, 200 words. I finished two chapters on my thesis. I gained three ranks in HALO 3 and defeated twelve higher raked people. I was god-like. How good is life? Life is very good.

Because of this, I give you a new story for Friday Snippets. We will eventually return to Dell and Iris, but this week, we celebrate the wonderful day with a new story. Please leave your own link! Please, let me know what you think!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.

Rain slid down his visor as he sat slumped against the muddy mound bodies and memorial headstones. His audi-link to base had gone to blue static almost an hour ago. He needed to get up, but the assault rifle across his lap was cold and heavy. Blood splattered his body armor. His ears rang from the thunder of the artillery. He could feel the bullet lodged under his ribs as he breathed. He lifted his head, moving for the first time since he fell here in the mud. The rainwater slid down his face mask in silver streams.

"JERICHO," she said. "JERICHO we need you."

In the palm of his hand, he clutched a set of dog tags, burned beyond recognition. The letters of the name were raised and ashen. He curled his fingers over the tags, looping them through his belt. The leather pouch at his hip was heavy with the last few of his cartridges - the special rounds he wouldn't use until absolutely necessary. His audi-link crackled and he heard Aural's voice. There was pain in her words - something he hadn't heard before.

"JERICHO," she said. "JERICHO we need you."

So say we all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Rhetoric of Defending Earth and Her Colonies

The Rhetoric of Internet Problems
The reason blogger comments wouldn't work on my computer was because the IT department on campus decided to do something that hindered any "https" or secure websites. So no one could check their email, bank accounts, assignments or blogs. Frustrating to say the least. This was remedied this morning after my roommate put in an email to the department.

Today in our Rhetoric Class, we discussed Foucault's Archeology of Knowledge. While the theory is completely fascinating, it is also completely claustrophobic. The fact that our system completely controls us through social security cards, driver's licenses and birth certificates is inescapable. What worried me through the whole class was the fact that people might become apathetic because of this knowledge. The challenge to create and bring change seems almost insurmountable in light of all of this. As the semester progresses, I'll probably talk a little more about this. Right now, I'm still digesting it.

But much news of short stories and overused science fiction stereotypes are discussed in the Weekend Recap. Continue Reading for Entertainment:

In Defense of Earth and All Her Colonies: Space Marines
This weekend I finished the fight in HALO 3. I followed that sci-fi shooter up by watching Aliens with the guys. Needless to say, we gained a healthy adoration for space marines along the way. I decided to do a short story based around a team of original characters who form a traditional squad. I want to play with some stereotypes and some traditional concepts, in an attempt to avoid the predictable aspects of the genre.

While space marines may have become cliche in our pop culture, they are pretty cool when you think about it and no mater who you are, you're sort of grateful when the space marines show up in book, game or flick. Think about it.

It's Game Over Man: Aliens
In Aliens you have Hicks and the space marines of the Sulaco. They manage to take on an entire horde of blood-thirsty xenomorphs before losing most of their numbers. When everyone else freaks out and either gets devoured by the aliens or demolished thanks to some chest-bursters, the marines manage to hold out for most of the movie. Hicks as a sort of quiet leader and Hudson as the over-paranoid marine are both pretty cool fighters and pretty cool characters. While Ripley is the main lead, I definitely think that the marines make this movie.

Jacked Up, Good to Go: Starcraft II
In Starcraft, a real-time-strategy game, you always start with a small platoon of marines and work your way toward civilization as they defend your position. In bulked-up armor and with the gritty attitude you've come to expect from such characters, these guys can completely wipe the map and hold their positions while you set up new military bases.

Wake Me When You Need Me: HALO 3
Of course we have give a hail to the Chief. In HALO 3, Spartan John-117 is the ultimate super-soldier. He fights off a race of aliens called the Flood and the Covenant who are both determined to destroy humanity and the universe. The last of his kind, Chief is our last defense. While a quiet and faceless character, he's a force of nature. Generally the other marines think he's hot stuff, which of course, is awesome.

So, sure, sometimes, space marines may seem cliche, individually or in teams, but there's no reason not to be thoroughly entertained by their extreme levels of incredible. In the end, you know we all breathe a little easier when the space marines arrive, whether they save the day or not. You know they'll hold their ground and defend Earth and her Colonies against the masses of alien invaders.

So say we all.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Blogger Comments Aren't Working

All of you with Blogger, I've tried to leave you comments for the past few days, but it keeps timing out. So sorry. I'll try again, later today. If I've left a link to my snippet on your site, but no comment, that's what's happening.

So say we all.

Friday Snippets: She Deals in Lead

This week's Friday Snippet picks up, again where we left off two weeks ago. Dell, after escaping the nuclear wasteland of Columbia, has headed toward the little town of Mexico. She still deals with her choice to leave Roy, the man who loves her more than life. On her journey, she has been clotheslined by two brothers on a back country road for the gas in her motorcycle. We left her last week, under the gun of the younger brother.

Be sure to leave a link to your Snippet! Let me know what you think!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.
Dell stared down the barrel of the gun, down into the darkness of her own death and she did not look away. The boy was terrified. Dell eased the hammer down on her shotgun and stepped back, easing away from him. The boy was sobbing and the pistol wavered in his hand, bobbing like a cork. It was hard to breathe. She swung her leg over her bike, revving it to life. His voice wavered through the cool of the night.

"Where are you going, man?" he asked. "Are you just gonna leave us here?" His voice cracked. His face had twisted into something ugly, changed by the realization of what he was doing. The gun vomited flame. Dell threw herself low over the lines of the bike, hugging herself to its frame.

She could have, should have killed him, should have slid the bike around, ridden it to the ground and unloaded the shotgun into his chest. But then she thought of what his brother would see when he woke. She couldn't bring herself to do it. She hated herself for it, but she could pray that the boy missed.

She hunched low as the night winds pulled at her coat. She was sure that at any moment she would feel the white hot slug between her shoulder blades, feel her own lukewarm blood on her jersey. Bullets whined past her ear and then her arm bloomed in a sunburst of pain. Blood splattered across the right lens of her gas mask. She didn't stop.

"She was sure that at any moment she would feel the white hot slug between her shoulder blades, feel her own lukewarm blood on her jersey.

Bullets whined past her ear and then her arm bloomed in a sunburst of pain. Blood splattered across the right lens of her gas mask."

It wasn't until she saw the shadow of the brothers' truck against the ridgeline that she slowed and allowed herself to breath. The air was stale and thick inside the gasmask and she ripped it off. Sweat flattened her curls to her head and burned her eyes. Her face was extremely pale and her hands shook violently as she brought the bike to a stop beside the truck. The smell of blood was almost overwhelming. The fuel gage on her bike hovered above empty.

Dell swung off the bike and slumped down beside the truck, easing her arm out of her coat. She cut the hem off of her jeans and tightened it in a tourniquet around her upper arm. For a moment, she let herself breath.

After she forced a hose down into the truck's tank, she cradled her arm in the curve of her body and with her teeth, tore open one of the Snickers Roy had packed. Swallowing down the chocolate, she cringed at the prospect of siphoning. Gas welled up in her mouth and she spat it out. She paused, her hackles rising. Someone was nearby. She was certain. She let the gas drain off into the bike's tank and pulled her shotgun into the shadow of her body.

So say we all.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Take a Haiku Break with the Chief

I'm There
On Tuesday, I helped run the first Creative Writing Workshops at my university and they were a smashing success. Several students stayed after and asked questions, requesting specific workshops, like how a writer might handle a series or how a writer might develop a horror story. Obviously, I would be thrilled to lead some of these later in the semester. I'm keeping an eye on it. Also, I'm still considering Graduate Programs and I'll keep you guys posted as that develops.

Now, storytime with Bri.

Rhetorically Speaking
On Wednesday, I decided I needed a break. The class I was meant to observe for a Comp Theory assignment canceled. In my Rhetorical Theory class, I realized every single one of us had read the wrong assignment and didn't have the heart to tell our professor. So frustrated was I over the canceled class and the massive misunderstanding that ensued in Rhetorical Theory, I was put out. I decided to head back early to the dorm.

Massive confusion
Rhet Theory baffles us all.
I'm going home now.

Boy, Interrupted

And that was when I met a pretty boy. He plays HALO and thinks Master Chief is the coolest. He wants to play online with me and my friends. He loves my writing. Sigh. I was about to ask for his Gamertag (yes, go ahead and laugh it up). But, before I could (you saw that but coming, surely), a friend of mine walked up, interrupting our conversation. She ignored the situation.

He made a sad face (aw) and said he had to get to class. He promised to give me his tag on Facebook and as my friend continued to talk, all I could do was watch him walk away. The only thing that would have made the whole scene better would have been if thunder rumbled and rain poured down around me in the middle of Thompson Hall. I just glared at my friend and then went back to the dorm.

And I met a boy
We could so be friends.

Heroics and Gender in HALO 3

When I proposed my idea of discussing HALO 3 and gender to my class, a rather fine fellow responded that he didn't think it was relevant. I didn't dignify him with a response. I'll wait to give my presentation before I answer insults directed at something I adore and something I consider a valuable study. He considers HALO 3 a simple video game for guys, featuring a faceless super-space-marine who slaughters alien scum.

I see the nameless-faceless Master Chief as a cultural icon, on the level with Eastwood's The Man with No Name. More than anything though, HALO 3 supports a gaming environment that almost invites studies of gender by the very nature of its anonymity.

I've been out gaming
Shooting up alien scum.
Now, I need some sleep.

So say we all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New(ish) Design and a Hippo on My Shotgun Shell

The new blog design is up, but not completely finished, as you can see. I'm pleased with it. I'm not sure what it was about the other blog that bothered me so much, but something definitely did. Hopefully this will be much more to my liking. The past two weeks have been full of everything. I mean that in a (mostly) literal way.

This week in my science fiction class, we discussed my story "Lightning in a Bottle." Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, which pleased me. I'm sending this one to a magazine in the very near future, so the suggestions and the critique were incredibly helpful. The thing is, I want to create a graphic novel for this short story at the same time and this might becomes a slight problem if I decide to go on with publication. The character designs have been in my head for a long while, so I think I might push ahead with this and submit something else to a magazine. Still considering it.

My room got incredibly messy, clean, then messy and then clean again. I think the Creep of Mess is like a tide or something and I should probably investigate that.

In Writing for New Technologies (what a name, right?) I must turn in a concept for a unique research project, and I think I've discovered my topic. In HALO 3, players have the ability to watch "film" of their matches and to review their enemy's strategies. I want to know how this will change the level of strategic study in games like Capture the Flag (capturing the enemy flag) or Assault (planting a bomb in the enemy base).

I also want to see if a a team will gain a stronger sense of community and alliance if they re-see their own strategies and the strategies of their enemies. At some point, I also want to discuss some gender issues in HALO 3, but that may have to wait.


This weekend, I played a few matches of Shotty Snipers (shotguns and sniper rifles only), in the Social Doubles Matches with my friend Vespacian - "V" (also known as Ezra). Here are some pics from one of our best matches. Usually, I'm a Blue, but for these matches, we were placed with the Reds. Please forgive any confusion.

A Hippo on My Shotgun Shell
The shell of choice for Master Chief in the HALO universe apparently has a giant hippo and the number 8 on it. I don't really understand why. I don't ask. He's the Master Chief.

V and Me on the Hunt This guy never had a chance. V was cloaked, completely invisible. The poor guy never saw it coming. When it was all over, V faded away like a ghost and we continued our hunt for the Blues.

Give Them Nothing. Take From Them Everything.We. Are. So. Cool.

I Got Your Back - Frag Out
With V running forward and me covering our trail from the Blue, we escaped with only slight damage. Whoorah for the Reds and pretty sweet teamwork.
Last, here is a video of the above last stand in the tunnels.

That's the update. I'll be by later in the week to continue the redesign and to post about further projects. I have all intention of becoming involved in the blogging community. I hope you all understand. HALO 3 is amazing. School is necessary. The Creep evolves daily. I'll strike some balance, some semblance of a treaty with it all, and then I will return to the blogosphere triumphant. I promise.

So say we all.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Maegan and Garrett Are Engaged!

First, congratulations to my dearest friends, Maegan and Garrett, on their engagement. It's about time.
There's so much I want to do. And so much I'm not doing. I promise, I want to be involved. But there are not enough hours in the day. This site is driving me crazy, so you can be guaranteed a redesign over the weekend.

A Novel Idea
I got my novel chapters back from my advisor today and am fairly pleased with the results. He liked my revisions and we've set a day to meet later in October to review the next chunk of the story. Hopefully I will continue to improve. I'm to about Chapter 9 0f 25, we're making headway.
Tech-Class Troubles
In a week or so, I'll have my website for a tech class up and running and I'll link to it from here. I'm supposed to pose a question that has not already been asked and try to answer it myself. Instead of running toward the cosmic questions I asked one that is meaningful to me and at the same time guarantees me a ton of fun while I'm researching it.
MY QUESTION: Players in HALO 3 can rewatch their matches, from the perspective of every player in the game. How will this ability effect team strategies in Capture the Flag? Could review strategies like this be used outside the gaming world?
I'll also be starting up a sister blog for my HALO and website exploits. This will include graphics, screenshots and video I intend to use for the project. I may reference it here once in a while, if it is exceptionally cool.
So say we all.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Crushing the Teacher's Will and the Student's Voice

In my Composition Theory class, we've discussed the methods the university establishment uses to educate young or novice writers in the discipline. This is what I have gleaned so far. The semester is still progressing, so please do not judge these ideas as concrete or otherwise solid. I am still developing my ideas on this discourse.

  1. Separate departments require specific jargon in their assignments. For instance, a student wouldn't write a lit paper the same way he would write a history paper or a creative writing paper. A student must use the jargon specific to his department. When the student does not deliver that level of "professionalism" on a "university" level, he gets demolished. The departments do no instruct the students on the required jargon.
  2. The jargon is there to prove that the student can formally spout the necessary amount of technically correct and typically empty language to be considered more than an imbecile.
  3. Teach a student to accurately determine which jargon he should use is the job of composition teachers. Instead of focusing on rhetorical theory or critical thinking, composition teachers are reduced to teaching various forms that are not adaptable to each situation.
I work in the Writing Center at university, so I understand the frustrations of focusing on grammar and syntax - most frustrating when a student can't seem to string together six words in even a bastardized English. I understand that.

I also understand the frustrations of students who are forced to jump through a series of hoops since kindergarten in order to be awarded a diploma they can't even use to get a job. I understand their frustration with double standards and the strange sense of inferiority they feel when in the presence of their professors. I understand that conforming to requirements of form can crush a writer's voice so that it is unrecognizable and may not stand on its own again.

I see both sides, because I stand at a strange crossroads. I am tutor and teacher and students and friend. I hope none of you take offense. Offer your feedback and let me know what you think of this debate. I know that Seanachi posted about this the other day, so go give her post (and especially the comments) a look.

So say we all.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Zombies with Swords, Flag Duty and Hammers

Usually, I focus on my academic studies and my reading and my writing on this blog. Today is a different sort of day. On Friday night, I played in a HALO 3 LAN party at the dorm with all my friends. My head almost exploded it was so amazing.

There's a game type called Infection, which simulates a zombie invasion. One member of your party is a zombie and everyone is human. Every time the zombie kills a human, that human then becomes part of the zombie's team. So the numbers of the team - originally 5 vs. 1 - becomes 1 vs. 5. This goes on until there's only one human left. Poor guy. We realized we had to follow familiar anti-zombie strategies if we wanted to live (see Exhibits A-D).
  1. Don't get in a car (Exhibit A).
  2. Use heavy artillery (Exhibit B).
  3. Stay together (Exhibit C).
  4. Put backs to the wall on high ground with clear visibility, preferably near a large store of ammunition and supplies (Exhibit D).
Exhibit A
As you can see, my friends (referred to in their gamer names) Ezra, the guy in white, and Mike, the guy in green, took a vehicle and Mike is about to be cannibalized, courtesy of me, as a zombie.
Exhibit B and C
Staying together is a brilliant strategy for anyone who wants to survive an undead apocalypse as seen in this image of Ezra and myself, armed respectively with an Battle Rifle and a heavy machine gun turret.
Exhibit D
As you can see, Mr. Bear as Covenant in green, Ezra and myself stationed ourselves according to protocol. We gained high ground, put our backs to the wall and unloaded heavy artillery on the zombie hoards.



The other game we played on Friday night was Capture the Flag. The concept is for one team to steal the flag and get it back to their base before the other team can stop them.

Long Live the Blues
I can be seen below, guarding the Blue Flag (LONG LIVE THE BLUES!) with a grenade launcher. Isn't our flag pretty?

Running Like a Little Girl

When we were on Offense, I grabbed the Reds' flag and ran...I ran like a scared little girl. I ran like hell and got the hell out of there. I was Cloaked - invisible - and you can see the grenade behind me, rippling my shield and making me visible. Mr. Bear remained behind me, to the left and died giving me time to get out of the Red Base.

Making a Clean Get-Away
Outside, Ezra (now in Blue), was waiting with a Mongoose to take me down to the beach to deliver the flag and claim victory. Ezra and I had practiced this maneuver for a few hours before, him driving at full speed and me jumping on the back with a flag. He hit me a few times, but we got to the point where, under fire in battle, we could pull it off.

Viva la Bleu

Because of that...we claimed Victory for the Blues. Viva la Bleu!

The rest of these are funtimes we had in free-for-all Slayer matches, where the goal was to get as many kills as possible.

Mike with a Hammer

Here is Mike (the one I cannibalized) wielding a Gravity Hammer. He's white here because of the light from its explosion. Usually he's in green.

The Result of Mike with a Hammer
He got a kill. Isn't that sweet? And by "sweet," I mean "completely awesome."
Communism in HALO 3

Mr. Bear ran Ezra and me over with a Banshee - a giant airplane-esque thing. Here we are dying. We look like we're dancing like Russians...and singing, "Moscow! Moscow!"
Viva la HALO!
So say we all.