3 Questions I Am Struggling With

Question MarkQuestion 1: Is it wrong to judge a person for supporting a racist candidate? Does that make me questionable as well for my own judging?

First off, I’m not going to go into a long discussion about who Trump is and his history. If you don’t know about him, well, I don’t know what to say. Personally, I’m a big fan of how the Huffington Post ends every article about him, listing that he is a racist, liar, etc. (All undeniably true.) The fact is we have NO idea how he would govern; all we have to go by on what he would do is his words. And his words are bat-shit crazy.

But Trump’s craziness is not my struggle. I can wrap my brain around that. There has always been crazy in this world.

The thing is I am I judging people when they say they support him. I hide friends left and right on Facebook, drop people on Twitter. Because I immediately think they are crazy and racist too. I mean, who you support says a lot about you, right? Continue reading

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A Lament for My Playstation 3

640-ps3-horzI did not mean to buy my Playstation 3. Eight years ago I was perfectly happy with my Playstation 2. It had followed me from Los Angeles to Ann Arbor to East Lansing, one of the few pieces of “furniture” to follow me along on my wild adventures.

The Playstation 2 was there when I was single and when I fell in love and when I got married and it saw the birth of my first child. So, it may seem crazy to say this, but it felt a little like family. And that remote in my hand, could sometimes feel like an extension of myself.

Then on Christmas Eve my house was broken into. It was our first Christmas as a family with a baby, and we returned home to find all of the presents and electronics gone. I lost on that stolen computer a novel I was working on and a new finished screenplay.

….and I lost my Playstation 2. I cried for it as much as I cried for my writing.

Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, January 2015

This is Lightning. She only has bad daysSo I’m going through a thing with a video game.

Do you remember this post? (The reference is only a few paragraphs, it won’t take you long.) There I am praising Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

You can feel the love.

It could be argued that it was the honeymoon stage of my relationship with the game.

See, I’ve had a long relationship with Lightning and her role-playing world, playing both of the installments before starting on the third and final part (I’m sure it could almost equal entire months if the hours were embarrassingly added together). And, as you can guess from the post then, everything was going swimmingly in our relationship. We laughed at the same jokes, enjoyed discussing our past history…. Then this damn monster called Grendel appeared in a desert world and ruined everything for us.

Ruined, ruined, ruined!

Now, I love the literary reference in the monster’s name, so the creators get points for that, but that monster destroyed my infatuation with the game and world and Lightning and sent me away. (Actually, over to Gotham City and a Batman game.) It’s not often I leave a game unfinished, especially a Final Fantasy game, so it was rough. I like to think it felt that way to Lightning too.

So here I am, it’s a new year, and I am looking for new beginnings, new possibilities. And since Lightning and I have such a long past I decided to give it another shot….

Of course, this time I am wisely playing on easy.

I have no video game shame.

Here is my first list for 2015, and speaking of video games… Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, February 2014

SteamengineWhen I started February I had steampunk dreams.

See, I have this book I had written a few years ago and I’ve been debating what to do with it. It’s not a bad book, I’m proud of it; it’s just I want to add a special flair to it. Something that would make it stand out more. So I considered the idea of adding some steampunk to it.

The book already had steam engines and hot air balloons, so adding more elements didn’t seem too difficult a concept. But the fact is the more I read and study steampunk the more I begin to wonder if this is too much an undertaking. Frankly, steampunk is like joining a literary masonic society with their own phrases, handshakes, words, etc. I really dig the vibe of it, but the last thing I want to do is fight the idea that I was writing a phony steampunk book or not embracing it enough. Jeepers! Writing a regency book in the voice of Jane Austen feels less intimidating if you can believe it.

Maybe I am just overwhelmed by it all right now and need to take a deep breath. Honestly, it’s hard to take on too many big ideas right now and I think it is the weather. I feel trapped and tired, and I think we all do by this nonstop snow and ice. You can see this in my five choices this month, because it is all about escape and comfort for me. Continue reading

One Writer’s Thoughts on the Importance of GRAVITY

GravityIt is a rare and beautiful gift when you get to experience a brand-new form of storytelling. For me, it is electrifying, like being hit by lightning, something that doesn’t happen everyday. It inspires me, realizing that there are still new possibilities out there to discover.

Some might think this is funny but the only other time I really can think of when I felt I was experiencing something entirely new in storytelling was in a videogame. Consider, before RPG video games attempted to tell narratives, we had merely games like Mario and Sonic. Fun sure, but there was no story there, merely saving a princess is not enough. Honestly, Pac Man is fine with an empty stomach or a full one.

Click here. Jump here. Run, don’t walk. 

There was nothing that would make you care about the characters or on the outcome. There were no consequences, no emotions or dreams to be dashed (besides breaking the high score in Tetris).

For me that eye-opening moment  where everything changed around video games was with Final Fantasy VIII. I felt almost blind-sided by the game, caring about the characters more than I ever imagined I would. I cried with them, I cheered them on. And when the game was over and done, I felt like I had just finished a great adventure with those characters.

Ever since that moment, video games changed for me. Never happy with the old school structures now, I wanted stories, the richer the better. Yes, something changed there for me…. Not just for me, but for most of us gamers, because we all experienced that moment with a game or two over the last few decades. A new storytelling artform (the first since the birth of TV) had come into life.

That electric moment, that bolt of lightning, has occurred for me again. Today, Gravity introduced me to the true potential, possibilities and differences there could be for future films made specifically in IMAX and 3D.  Continue reading

The Conundrum of Men in Capes

Even Superman writes!Superman was always my favorite superhero. There was always a lost operatic elegance to his story in my opinion. Yes, he saves cats from trees and helps old ladies cross the street, but he is alone among us. One of us, and yet not really one of us. A lost relic of another world, another time.

One of my favorite character debates comes around Superman. See, I love breaking down what makes a character or a story work, and here is the one I always like to throw at writers, is Superman pretending to be Clark Kent or is Clark Kent pretending to be Superman.

I love that!

See, Christopher Reeve had Superman be the real person and Clark Kent the performance, but more recently, TV shows like Smallville and Lois and Clark had it the other way around. What does that mean really? Everything to the character, little to us in the real world, of course. Our boring and drab reality where men don’t fly, and magic and superpowers only survive in our imaginations.

I’ve been thinking a lot about superheroes over the last few years. Mostly that is because of my son. The one nearby me as I write this, wearing Justice League PJs, Star Wars slippers, and holding a Superman toy from the film Man of Steel. He is five.  Continue reading

Further Proof of My Nerdom

Only a nerd makes a picture like this to share...In my post on Wednesday I asked the ultimate question, “Okay, am I a nerd?” I received quite a response from readers via Twitter and in comments; and the overwhelming response was…

Yes… Yes, I am a nerd.

Okay, fine.  So be it!

And after a further review of my site over the last year, it is embarrassingly obvious that my readers had caught something before I did. My nerdom has been on display for quite some time here on the site. More than on display, it has been putting on a provocative dance! (Think green skin and Star Trek.)

Here are links to some of my other “nerd” editorials that I didn’t reference in my last post, from movies to TV (I hope you enjoy them): Continue reading

Seriously Bruce?!: Taking on the Logic of Becoming a Batman

Growing up, Batman was always my favorite superhero.

Why was I always drawn more to Batman?

Well, frankly, because under the right circumstances I could have been Batman. But that is true not just for me; you could have been Batman. We all could have been Batman!  (The same can’t be said for Superman or the Flash sadly.)

All we just need is a heck of a lot of money and a devastating experience in one’s childhood and we are in that dark cape… Sadly, for me, my parents are perfectly healthy and I am not rich.

Of course, this is the logic of a kid discovering a comic book at the age of eight, it is not the logic of a sane adult. I mean, we adults, when considering becoming a masked vigilante, would think about the police, fingerprints, what if we get shot, what kind of training, how do we buy supplies, how do we get medical attention…. The list goes on and on when an adult tries to consider this employment opportunity. In the long run, it does not feel like the best option or more people would be doing it, besides the random “unique” individuals we see on television roaming our streets. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2012

Yeah, last month I complained about the heat, but I had NO idea what I was talking about when I wrote that. (Naive little man.)

July has been painful here, and besides the heat the weed pollen levels have been off the charts, making my allergies go crazy. Seriously, I awake each morning with red puffy eyes because of it. I look like Rocky Balboa screaming to be cut.

Anyway, through red eyes, here is my list for this month (I apologize in advance for the amount of superheroes in this installment):

Summer Blockbusters

This has been a phenomenal summer for blockbusters; the ones that have found success definitely deserve it. From The Avengers to Brave to The Amazing Spider-Man, each of these films are well-written, well-directed, and, well, just plain good. When was the last time we had a summer that knocked it this perfectly out of the ballpark? I keep thinking back to the summer of Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but that was decades ago. Continue reading

Final Fantasy XIII-2: Why, Why, Why???

Some are haunted by ghosts, others by regret or the past… Me? Well, I am haunted by a video game.

Last week, I finished every bit of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Typically, I don’t play a game for full 100% completion, but this one I did… and I am haunted by it. It has entered my dreams, right there with that embarrassing situation in third grade I don’t want to discuss here.

Final Fantasy games are some of my favorite video games out there. Not because of the role-playing aspect (there is nothing new about roleplaying), no, for me it all about the story. And Final Fantasy, when it is at its best is a torchbearer for Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey (If you don’t know what I mean, I recommend you check out some of his books, here is one, they map out how all great stories and characters follow a “hero” journey and the stages of them. These stages also relate to our own lives when they are lived to their full potential. For my fellow nerds, this is also what inspired Star Wars… No, the good first one).  We grow with the characters, we experience their struggles, their realizations, and when the endings come (after hours and hours and hours of play) they can be emotional.

Yeah, they make me cry, so what? Continue reading