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.