Two Acceptances

I am pleased to make the preliminary announcement that my short stories “A Quadrillion Occupied Planets” and “Take Up Your Cross” have both been accepted for publication.

More details to follow, as I am still negotiating and discussing things with the editor of the magazine.

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Lemony Snicket gets all Watermelony

Okay, okay, that was a Hell of a stretch.

I really like the author Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket. His “Series of Unfortunate Events” could be really great at times (though the final book was the mother of all copouts). He’s a genuinely funny writer.

But apparently Handler made a joke about a black woman being allergic to watermelon and liberals freaked out (though apparently not a lot of them, since it was at the National Book Awards and nobody cares about them).

The best part of the linked article is this:

From the way Handler sets up the story, it seems like he and Woodson are close, and that she knew that the watermelon bit was coming. Maybe she did—maybe Handler’s a great guy, and they’re best friends, and she thought it was hilarious—but that doesn’t make the joke any less racist.

Translation: “The real life black person the joke was directed at didn’t actually care, but I have white guilt, and thus am offended on her behalf.”

Snicket, naturally, apologized later. Not a shocker, since writers are notoriously liberal.

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Top Ten Video Games, Revisited

Now that I’ve got some more games under my belt and some time has passed, here’s my new top ten list of video games. An update of this list.

  1. The Portal Series – Still the best. One thing I really appreciate in Portal 2 is the Perpetual Testing Initiative, which makes player-created levels ridiculously easy to make and turned a game with virtually no replay value into a game with practically infinite replay value. Some of the player-created levels are absolutely brilliant. Also, to this day the co-op is the best I’ve ever played, bar none.
  2. Sly 2: Band of Thieves – The Sly series is staggeringly underrated. The answer to the question “Do the Sly Cooper games hold up?” is “HELL YES”. Assassin’s Creed has been compared to Sly Cooper, and I get it. There are a lot of similarities in gameplay, though Assassin’s Creed is clearly marketed for a much older crowd. The thing is, despite being much less famous Sly Cooper has more fluid controls, more varied gameplay, better dialogue, and graphics that are equally gorgeous but in a much more original way. “Band of Thieves” is still the best in the series. I’m disappointed Sanzaru has no plans for a Sly 5. Maybe if the movie does well…
  3. BioShock – Still awesome. The twist in the middle is so damn brilliant.
  4. The Pokemon Games – I love this series. I don’t care what people say.
  5. To The Moon – The first time I’ve changed up this list. “To The Moon” breaks all the rules. Great games should put gameplay first, not story – that’s a recipe for SJW preaching. Great games should be immersive. Great games should have varied gameplay.”To The Moon” does not put gameplay first, barely has any variation in gameplay, does nothing to immerse you in the world, and has terrible graphics due to its extremely simple engine. What it has is a beautiful and incredibly creative story and one of the best soundtracks in the history of video games – probably THE best. It’s so good that sometimes I actually bought it separately from the game, and consider it money well spent.
  6. FTL: Faster Than Light – I’m changing my order around now, and part of the reason for that is that FTL added an advanced edition for free! The new in-game objects and abilities radically alter gameplay, the new alien species is super cool, and the new ships add a whole new level of challenge. Plus, if you’re a sadist there’s now a hard mode. Because FTL wasn’t challenging enough. All of these changes combine to create an even deeper and more immersive experience, and considering that the game was already fantastic this is extraordinarily impressive.I just realized that despite all of the improvements it still dropped on this list. Just goes to show you how good my top 5 is.
  7. Left 4 Dead 2 – Man, this game just pure dumb fun. And one of my friends got it, which ups the fun significantly. Killing zombies is cool on your own or with strangers, but even cooler with friends.
  8. The Last of Us – A game with incredible graphics, amazing AI, and a really great story. The gameplay wasn’t anything super special but it was fun and fit the game fairly well. What more can you want?
  9. Journey – A game that proves that video games can be artistic while still being incredibly entertaining.
  10. BioShock Infinite – A flawed but hugely ambitious game that every gamer needs to play at least once. The gameplay isn’t great but the world of Columbia is incredible, the voice acting is awesome, and the soundtrack is just beyond cool. Made even better with the addition of the Burial at Sea DLC’s, especially episode 2.
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Three Different Responses

Responses from this article on the Bill Cosby rape allegations:

She was a CHILD being victimized by someone she had trusted and looked up to as a father figure. You have no idea how an abuser can get into the head of the victim they have groomed. How dare you blame the victim!

- In response to people pointing out that the alleged victim’s (the particular one mentioned in the article) story didn’t totally add up.

Why are you questioning the victim…..typical behavior….and one of the reasons victims are reluctant to come forward! It doesn’t matter when they come forward as long as it is reported.

- Response to somebody questioning the story

Why did all the children being mentored by the Penn State coaches keep going back? Why did all the alter boys keep going to back to their priests? For Gods sake, stop victim blaming.

- Response when somebody asked why this seventeen year old teenager kept going back if she’d been raped by the guy. Now asking this question is “victim blaming” because, sometimes, there is an answer.

The pattern here is that if we even question the alleged victim’s story we’re horrible people. As Olivia Benson said on “Law and Order: SVU”, if she said she was raped she was raped. QED.

I do think it’s only fair to point out that the majority of the comments on that page were perfectly fine, to my surprise.

By the way, I actually think he’s probably guilty. When the number of accusations gets this high you do have to consider that they might be telling the truth.

BUT – I don’t know, or pretend to know.

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Writing About the Important Stuff

I know I’ve had a lot of posts on writing and on my writing. Be patient with me – having an editor of a small e-magazine tell me he loved my story and may give me 250 dollars for it is a matter of little consequence to folks like Mr. Wright or other professional writers, but to a twenty-something college student who’s been writing since before he was ten (my own version of the Gingerbread Man, an “I, Spy” book, and a book called “”Blue Bear” that I basically took directly from “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle) it’s the validation for my craft I’ve always dreamed of getting, small as it is.

And I recently told the story of the teacher who was oh-so-proud he managed to convince a student he subconsciously didn’t care about poor people and successfully steered that student away from “The Lord of the Rings”. This got me thinking about the topics I want to write about.

I’m not, and never have been, interested in writing novels that tackle trite themes like “diversity is important”, “we should help the poor”, or love triangles and the “perils of teenage life”. I am willing to include all such things in my stories, even the diversity one to a very limited extent (“Opera Vita Aeterna” in one sense had a diversity angle to it), but they will never be the main focus.

I’m much more interested in the important things – the really important things, not the self-absorbed claptrap much of modern literature has become, or nihilistic despair-filled preaching. I want to write about truth, beauty, honor, sacrifice, love, hope, friendship, bravery, charity, and sometimes even faith.

So my stories will always be considered “inferior” to the fools who write our AP tests and refuse to take seriously an essay that talks about the beauty and tragedy seen in books like “The Silmarillion” or “The Great Divorce” (which along with, presumably as I haven’t read it, Dante’s “Inferno” should stand as one of the great treatises on Heaven, Hell, and the afterlife ever written) but will take seriously an essay about “Ulysses”. I’ve tried to read “Ulysses”. It is obscure, self-indulgent, self-absorbed borderline nonsense. No wonder it’s considered one of the greatest modern books ever written.

Give me Tolkien over Dickens. Give me Lewis over Joyce or, God help us all, the narcissistic black hole that is Kate Chopin (which is unfortunate, as she has some skill). I’ll take hope over nihilism, integrity over adultery, and heroism over “Caring” any day.

I write about things worth writing about. Whether my writing is any good is a matter for readers to hopefully, one day, decide.

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Describing “A Wrinkle in Time”

It’s hard to realize just how weird Madeline L’Engle’s brilliant children’s book “A Wrinkle in Time” really is until you sit down and actually try to describe it to someone. This was the description I gave a friend recently:

It involves being teleported by strange old ladies into space, and it turns out the old ladies were really flying centaurs who used to be stars, and they go to rescue the main character’s father who is imprisoned by a giant brain.

At one point a giant blind beast thing takes care of the main character.

As I said: Awesome.

And not only is every word of that sentence true, none of it is even slightly exaggerated.

I say this because I think my next story is going to be intentionally written in L’Engle’s style. It’s so weird and unique and cool. My stories so far have been very Lewis (intentionally), so I think it’s time for something completely different. Something involving two moons and Shambilar.

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The Eternal Female Struggle

From the romance book Beautiful Oblivion, by Jamie McGuire*:

I hated to admit it, but [my boobs] helped score extra tips at the Red, and now they could help me get a second job. It was a vicious cycle of not wanting to be objectified, and using the gifts God gave me to my advantage.

Feminism in a nutshell.

*I frequent a blog that makes fun of bad books, which I’m not linking because they’re extremely liberal and while they amuse me at times it doesn’t feel right to recommend them to the type of audience that reads this blog.

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