Archive

Archive for December, 2012

Miscellany

December 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, the last semester was a success. I four-pointed all of my classes and now look forward to organic chemistry and human anatomy next semester. I’m very enthusiastic about my progress toward becoming a physician’s assistant, but I do have to say that I miss microbiology. I may decide to make a series of posts about topics in microbiology in the future because I find the field of study fascinating.

Other things in my life have been proceeding at a healthy pace. I’ve been adding more to the story I started writing for NaNoWriMo and I’m optimistic that the rough draft will be complete in another month or so. I have also just finished George R.R. Martin’sA Feast for Crows” and I have to admit that I wasn’t as impressed with this installment as I was with the previous novels. I gather that this is the consensus opinion. I don’t really have much to say about it in terms of a review except that I think Martin continues to display his impressive talent at writing characters while displaying a horribly clumsy writing style.

My friend Crystal has a website that I have linked my blog to that talks about education. I think it’s very well done and I appreciate her writing style. It’s called “edunewsyoucanuse” and it’s fairly easy to tell she’s very passionate about her chosen profession.

I’m planning on writing a post about video game violence and aggression, and I’ve already started to do a great deal of research on the topic. I take this topic very seriously and have explored it in great detail in the past. Though I am a fan of video games I don’t write off the very real psychological effects that violent video games can have. With that said, however, I do not believe that the right answer for dealing with horrible tragedies like the events in Newtown is to attack video games, and I will go into more detail later.

I’m also very excited about The Great Gatsby movie. It was one of my favorite books in high school and, from what I can see, it will be a very interesting take on the story.

Via io9, I ran across a post displaying some very interesting artwork from Melanie Schultz that shows a ponderous William T. Riker. It’s actually really fantastic.

And, finally, I’ve been planning to write a series of articles about Bioshock 1 and 2. I’ve completed a playthrough of Bioshock and am almost done with a playthough of Bioshock 2. I have taken a lot of notes on each and I have some pretty interesting ideas about them and hope to discuss a lot of topics. I know that I’ve also got a lot of other essays to write, including a number on Battlestar Galactica. I guess with the upcoming release of Bioshock Infinite I want to focus on these games.

Anyway, I wish everyone a happy new year. I don’t know if I’ll be writing another post before then.

Mario Warfare

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

In the past I’ve written about how much I like and support fan-made videos about video games. Previously I wrote about Fallout: Nuka Break , which I thought was a wonderful example of fan ingenuity. The prop designs for the weapons and the clothing were very well done.

Via Geekosystem, the good people at Beat Down Boogie have produced “Mario Warfare.” Beat Down Boogie has produced other videos, such as “Modern War Gear: Solid.”

It’s really, really good, but as Geeksosystem notes, they may not be able to continue the project due to money shortfalls. I’m not exactly rolling in cash myself, and I certainly can’t donate any money to their kickstarter right now, but if you’d like to give these people a hand so that they can continue to make their wonderful movies, you can do so here: Mario Warfare Kickstarter. In the meantime, here is some excellent art they produced.

The Vanity of Christmas

December 10, 2012 2 comments

How is it that Americans celebrate a holiday that’s ostensibly about giving by buying and hoarding gaudy, ugly displays? It’s the same scene every year: all of the stored Christmas decorations are dragged out of the basement at great personal risk and then hours are spent trying to make them work correctly. A set of lights might not work because one is out, or the cords might be tangled. It’s a useless gesture to placate what essentially amounts to a kitschy expression of base consumerism dressed as either a religious festival or a celebration of togetherness.

It’s not hard to tell that I’ve been sour on Christmas for some time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hypocrite when it comes to Christmas, and I fully recognize that. I do enjoy getting together with family and eating a bunch of food and exchanging store-bought presents. It has its charm. What I find intolerable is the trouble we go through to celebrate it.

Christmas decorations rarely ever look appealing and they contribute, in my family, to roughly 45% of all stress related to this season. I can tell you that, for people that complain about their energy bill all year, my grandparents are always ready to keep Christmas lights on all over the house for over a month straight for many hours. I’ve always found this bemusing.

You can imagine that when I read, from Think Progress, that homelessness in the United States could be ended with the amount of money that American spend on Christmas decorations every year, I get a bit frustrated. Frustrated because decorations of the sort that people throw in their houses or in their front yards are frivolities that don’t have any reasonable connection to the purpose of Christmas.

The data that Think Progress gives also shows that eliminating the capital gains tax cuts could also solve the problem. I think that this shows a terrible order of priorities on the part of Americans. I’d be interested to see what progress we might accomplish with homelessness if we took the money that would otherwise be spent on Christmas decorations and used it to fund programs to end  homelessness.

Doesn’t that seem like it would be a much better use of the money? I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a holiday that is supposed to be, for most Americans, the birth of Jesus Christ.

Flash Fiction: Ticking

December 6, 2012 Leave a comment

This is an older piece that I wrote, but I was looking through a list of things that I wanted to publish on my blog and this was at the top of the list. Now that I’ve got a bit of free time I think I can finally post it.

It’s a flash fiction story called Ticking that I wrote about five years ago. It’s only 91 words long, but I really like it. I hope that you do as well.

The clock was ticking slowly, reminding us each of our own mortality. But we didn’t care because the game was on.

A couple of other guys came over and asked if we wanted to go to the bar. We thought it was a great idea, so we decided to leave. The clock didn’t care.

As we got up, we knocked over the clock, which stopped ticking. It didn’t matter. It was already broken; hence the slow ticking.

On our way out, we didn’t notice the clock was dead.

But we would.

I have a few more flash fiction pieces that I’ve written, but I’m not really satisfied with them. I will probably work on them and then post them later.

Categories: Writing Tags: ,

The Challenges of Writing

December 6, 2012 Leave a comment

For as long as I can remember I have loved words. Whenever someone asks what my hobbies are the first two which spring to mind every time are reading and writing. Over the years I have read more books that I can remember and I have dabbled in almost every style and form of writing. I eventually developed my current writing style, which, through many nights of torture at the University of Michigan, I have come to love. I think that word that best describes it is unassuming.

Basically, I write what I mean and I mean what I write.

Though I enjoyed every minute of writing to meet the goal of 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month, I have to admit that I faced a lot of challenges. I haven’t ever held myself to a daily regiment of writing every day for a month before. I couldn’t conceive how difficult it would really be.

I didn’t have to start from scratch with this story. I hadn’t previously written any part of it, but I had a very rough idea of what I wanted it to be about. I called it “L’oiseau Libre” and envisioned a story about an extremely stratified society that encompassed an entire planet. The planet was fiction, and orbited a binary star. Almost everyone on the planet lived in mega-metropolises that spanned miles and reached high into the sky. The main character was a disgraced detective who was offered a chance to redeem himself.

That synopsis misses a lot of what the story ended up developing into. Through the writing process of changed my mind on a lot of things, including things like character sexuality. I was surprised to see how those kinds of changes, which seemed to be minor at first, had a huge ripple effect that changed how the story would develop later, sometimes unpredictably.

I’m not finished with the story yet. I’ve added a few more thousand words, but I’m grappling with the feeling that it might be getting too long for the kind of story it is. I know that the best thing I could do is just to keep plugging away but those doubts keep nagging.

That brings me to the next challenge: doubt. It claws at you the entire time. Is this character behaving realistically? Does this make sense? Is there a sense of logic to how the events are unfolding? As I write I never have an answer to these questions.

The only way to deal with them, I’ve found, is to just keep writing. Keep it going. Let the story and the people take on lives of their own.  The editing process comes later. That’s when you’re absolutely brutal to your own creation. But tearing it apart comes later; before you can even begin to think about what should stay and what should go you simply need to write it.

The last challenge I want to talk about is creative energy. The first fifteen days were simple compared to the last fifteen days. As the month dragged on I found it harder to focus on the story and, at times, I feel like I was losing control of the plot. Sometimes writing that 1500 words a day felt like torture, but worse than that I couldn’t feel the strands of life in the story.

Looking back on the bits that I had written during those times I see that the characters seem flat and their dialogues seem uncharacteristic. I don’t think I’ll change those parts until the rough draft is done, but when I really feel like the story is flowing organically from one point to the next, even without my input sometimes, I sometimes think back to those parts and grimace.

But all of that is part of the writing process. And in the end I revel in all of it.

Plus I just bought a box of red pens and I can’t wait to go through them.

Being Awesome

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Hello, there!

My good friend Danielle Barr has started her own blog called “being awesome.” It’s off to a pretty good start, so I thought I would write a post about it.

I look forward to reading more of her writing in the future.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,