Saturday, June 5, 2010
Between waking up mid-afternoon, playing video games, and bothering people on social networking sites (don't forget getting locked out of friend's houses with their dogs), I've been working on a little creative writing project I'm calling Fallen Angels. I'm not going to go into much detail for fear of it coming to little fruition, but I'd like to think of it as a serious attempt of mine to create a worthwhile piece of writing in a long time.
Another thing I'd like to address- my self created schedule. I've been told never to put trust into schedules, since they have a tendency to fall apart at the seams. Nevertheless, I do intend on finishing "Exploits of a Reluctant Hero", but don't be surprised if something else comes up first.
Alright- just checking up on you guys, and hoping you guys are having a good summer so far.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Halo games are know primarily for their multiplayer, and to further produce a perfect product, Bungie has released a multiplayer beta for fans to test Reach’s new features and hunt for bugs and glitches to fix. The beta was accessible exclusively for fans who purchased Halo 3: ODST, and seeing as today is its final day, I decided to do a review and commemorate a job well done and get you guys syked for the game’s release in September.
The Beta was released on May 3, and after two and a half hours (damn internets) I finally downloaded it, launched it, and joined my first game.
The play lists consisted of Arena, Free For All, Grab Bag, Network Test 1 (more commonly known as Generator Defense), and Invasion.
-Grab Bag consists of Slayer and Objective game types designed for a four man team. Same old same old.
-Free For All is pretty much a clone of Lone Wolves from Halo 3. Included is Headhunter (Or Sperm Bank as I like to call it); every kill you get earns you a skull, which you deposit at the various territories across the map. Fantastic to play with a group.
-Generator Defense is a new game type, where a team of Spartans defends three generators against a team of Elites who are trying to destroy them. Didn’t play a lot of this, but the few times I did were certainly enjoyable.
-Invasion is another new game type, again where Spartans are defending against the Elites- this time, the Elites have to unlock a Data Core and carry it to a designated spot on the map. After time passes, new Tiers- loadouts (see below) and weapons- become available for both teams. The slayer version of this game is similar to Big Team Slayer, but with the concept of Tiers integrated into it.
-Arena is Bungie’s answer to excessive competitive multiplayer gamers (try saying that three times fast). It’s hard for me to explain it, but it’s almost like playing in a month-long tournament with global rankings and prizes for winners.
New features include Armor Abilities, all of which are extremely well-balanced-
Scout allows you to Sprint
Guardian allows your suit to Lockdown, and you essentially become untouchable for a few seconds;
Stalker turns your suit invisible, but your HUD displays enemies on everyone’s screen;
Airborne gives you a Jetpack.
Elites can Evade instead of sprinting.
Some awesome new weapons include:
The DMR- Battle Rifle without the three round bursts.
The Grenade Launcher- Hold down left trigger to delay the round’s detonation.
The Needle Cannon- Covenant version on the DMR with Needle rounds that don’t seek.
The Plasma Repeater- Plasma Rifle with a higher rate of fire.
The Plasma Cannon- fires plasma grenades that seek your opponent.
The Pulse Rifle- what would happen if you spliced a Sentinel Beam with a Beam Rifle.
Gameplay changes include:
-the return of the Health Pack. Elites health now regenerates.
-the ability to block swords (which can come in handy, believe me).
-more realistic grenade throwing.
-improved physics engine.
Character Customization allows you to purchase new armor upgrades with points you receive after each match, and some new emblems are available to slap on your shoulders. A greater selection will be available in the full game.
All in all, I was very impressed with what the unfinished product looked like already. The experience I was granted makes me glad to be a part of a tight nit community, and I applaud Bungie in all of their efforts to continuously raise the bar in videogame standards.
And, as to no surprise to those who know me, I have already preordered the Legendary Edition of the game. All $150 of it.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Which, lucky for writers of that genre, I'm a sucker for.
But "Incognito" is different. The main character is an ex supervillan hiding out in Witness Protection, dealing with monotonous life and yearning for the old days of destruction and law-breaking.
Zach Overkill was once a member of a criminal organization known as Black Death, alongside other villains with unnatural abilities. After the death of his twin brother Xander, Zach is picked up by S.O.S (kinda like the super-hero-police-squad) and forced to live a normal life with a job in an office. But after a while, ordinary, boring life begins to drag him down and eventually he begins to return to his roots, meeting many old and villainous acquaintances along the way.
The artwork (done by Sean Phillips) has a 50's noir feel to them, similar to "Watchmen", but doesn't feel like it was taken from the days of "Spider Man" in the Sunday morning cartoons in the paper because the colors aren't as bright. Props go to the plot (by Ed Brubaker) for extremely maintained creative originality and unpredictability.
I found reading "Incognito" very fun, and seeing the world through a sarcastic, disgruntled ex- villain isn't something you do everyday.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
On a more interesting note (because I know Timmy doesn't find the idea of an essay very interesting), I took the SAT for my first time yesterday. The essay prompt was perfect- can't tell you what it was (some sort of gag order by the College Board), but I used "Thirteen Reasons Why" as an example to support my thesis. Granted, I ended up only writing 232 words and filling up only one of the two pages provided, but I felt good about it.
So tomorrow, as a few of my followers know, is the commencement of the Halo Reach Multiplayer Beta. Most likely I will be spending all of the spare time I can gather playing this, so if you guys don't hear from me in three weeks time, you'll know why. This may sounds silly, but I am eager to be a part of something as special and monumental as this (it is NOT just a video game. Haters).
The forecast in store for you guys is the eventual reading and reviewing (R&Ring) of "Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Goodlooking) Hero" by Maureen Fergus. Looks promising, but I've learned not to judge a book by its cover.
Hahaha...Ok, enough of my lame book jokes.
Look for my sign...
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
One day after school, Clay Jensen returns home to find a package addressed to him sitting on his doorstep. When he opens it, he finds insides seven cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker- a girl at his school who committed suicide a few weeks earlier. On the tapes, she explains her decision to take her own life with thirteen reasons, each involving thirteen people. In one night, Clay's life is changed forever as he is sent on a journey traversing Crestmont, California, uncovering the secret suffering of a troubled, lonely girl.
If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would have to be sobering. A major theme of this book is the snowball effect; how every action you take has a reaction, every decision has its consequence. Jay Asher does a very good job on effectively portraying the voice of a young girl spending her final moments telling her story.
I read this book in a matter of two days- not because it was boring, or I wanted to get through it like "Witch and Wizard". The only reason I finished it so quickly was that it was next to impossible to put it down. I do remember putting it down twice in between a few games on Matchmaking (I was downloading several torrents, so naturally it would take longer than usual), but that was it. I feel like a bad person because I can't give it the lengthy, in depth review it deserves.
So if your in the mood for a sobering, realistic story about loss, heartbreak, betrayal, and reconciliation, "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher (his first book, by the way) is the best choice for you.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
"Witch and Wizard" takes place in a reality where America has been taken over by an organization known as the New Order. This totalitarian faction (ruled by some shady guy who calls himself “The One Who Is The One”) has essentially outlawed free speech, habeas corpus, and other “creature comforts” of the Free World. Two siblings, Wisty and Whit Allgood, are woken up in the middle of the night by soldiers and forcibly removed from their parents and their home on charges of being a Witch and Wizard. They are found guilty without a trial, and taken to a jail solely occupied by children. After a short amount of time (literally two chapters) they escape in search of their parents and the means to rebel against the New Order.
The idea of children fighting the government appeals to me, but I found this book extremely uninteresting. I began to skim after I reached the halfway mark just to get it over with, and the only reason I read to the halfway mark was because I was hoping things would heat up later on.
Needless to say, I was disappointed.
This book is loaded with flaws- it’s written on a 5th grade reading level, the characters are annoying and unbelievable, and the themes hang like humidity on an uncomfortable summer day.
Towards the end of the book, there’s this lame-ass prophecy which reads:
“One day soon, kids will run the world...and do a better job than the grown- ups ever did.”
Seriously? You shitting me? This has got to be the worst prophecy I’ve ever heard of! It doesn’t even sound like an omnipotent being predicting the future. More like a child with delusions of grandeur.
When reading the characters talk and interact, it feels as if they’re all basically the same person. I get the impression that Patterson either is extremely out of touch with today’s youth or has forgotten his own childhood and hasn’t realized that even kids today don’t act or talk like they do EXCEPT in his books.
In “The Final Warning”, the fourth Maximum Ride book, the theme of Global Warming stunk like a rotten egg. This time, it’s the idea of people with power end up corrupted. I’m all for literature as a means to get a message across, but when I’m reading about magical children or human beings with bird wings, you can tell I’m not interesting in politics.
“Witch and Wizard” is yet another cookie-cutter novel from Patterson as a means of income as opposed to trying to write a good book. If you honestly feel the need to read it, I advise you fight it with every ounce of your willpower.
Trust me on this one.
Friday, April 16, 2010
It started out just as the graphic novel did, and stuck to it for more than half. Then the ending came, and it's as if Hollywood became the annoying friend no one really likes. They listen to their ideas only to shut them up. They included a romance plot and gave the ending lots of blood and explosions. Granted, it was more entertaining than the original, but at times a bit ridiculous.
Let's just say there was a whole jetpack-flying-over-the-city scene that was (let's be honest) gay.
Overall, I think people who haven't read the novel will enjoy the movie more than the people who did. I felt cheated out of the ending scene when Hit Girl didn't say her best line in the story. (Not gonna include it. It's kinda a spoiler.)
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I want to thank Amy Rains for sending the link to this blog to Dr. Ruth Clark, an expert on Young Adult literature. She had this to say:
"Wow! This teen is incredible. These are the kind of sites/blogs I love to hear about. I plan to add it to my list of teen created review style blogs. :-) Thanks for sharing."
Thank you Dr. Clark. You just made my day :)
Instead of doing a review on "Siddartha" as I previously said I would, I'm in the process of reading "The Film Club" by David Gilmour. A friend of mine who owns Trent River Coffee Co. in Downtown New Bern recommended it to me, and from reading a chapter or two I think this work deserves a spot on my blog better than "Siddartha".
On a personal note, today my very good friend Caron Schaller will be flying in to New Bern from Germany tonight and will be staying ten days to visit friends and enjoy his Spring Break. Caron was the very first to follow Duly Noted, and acts as my intermediate editor and occasional adviser on new ideas for this blog.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
It all started with an apple. A red one. Being held on the cover of an average looking book called Twilight, the bastard offspring of a Mormon mother named Stephenie. This spawn told the tale of a young teenage girl meeting a boy and the two of them falling in love. Typical story right?
Except he’s a vampire.
“Oh, well that’s different,” you say. “I wonder how this relationship will turn out- what with all his handicaps: fear of garlic, acute sunlight allergy, and the insatiable desire to thirst on human blood.”
Guess what. This vampire sparkles in the sunlight instead of writhing in agony.
Poor old Vlad’s rolling over in his grave. Where ever he’s buried.
Something tells me dear old Stephenie wasn’t thinking when she took one of the most scary and feared monsters in the gallery of non-human entities and turned them into toy-boys. I doubt she realized that girls would use her “book” as a sign that no matter what- “love conquers all”.
I blame her for single-handedly changing my pathetic generation’s view on vampires. I blame her for the obsession shared by those who attend the midnight release of her new book or midnight premiers of their movie adaptations. But more importantly, I blame her for the crippling “Twilight Effect” that is currently plaguing the genre of young adult literature.
You’d have to had been living under a rock six feet under for the past three years to not have heard of this “book”. Such popularity hasn’t been experienced since J.K. Rowling and her “Harry Potter” series. With popularity comes book sales, and naturally, books sales means money. Gobs and gobs of it. Book publishing companies get whiff of a sensation like this, they immediately jump on the bandwagon. The Holy Grail of YA Literature nowadays is to replicate such a thing I grudgingly call a phenomenon. With this new agenda, books with true potential get shoved onto the back burner and neglected whilst yet another vampire clone is released to the teeming masses to gobble up.
This is why the average teenager who reads AT ALL can’t bridge out from this genre. This is why when I enter a Books-A-Million or a Barnes and Nobles I find a table stacked with vampire book after vampire book like flies on a rotting corpse. This is why when I look for a decent book to soak in and enjoy it’s nowhere to be found. This is why I blame Stephanie Meyer for destroying young adult books for now, until the “next big thing” hits the pages of another piece of paper.
For the record, I’ve read the first “book”- and thought that there was absolutely nothing special about it. No reason for the hysteria and madness its caused.
In the end, all I can do is pray for the fad to die out and an eventual return to normalcy to occur. I leave you in the words of a very famous man:
“…Forgive [her], for [she] knows not what [she] [did]…”
Self-proclaimed Son of God
NOTE: The following has been a rant. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Monday, March 29, 2010
I don't usually read graphic novels, let alone buy one. I purchased "Kick Ass" at our Books-A-Million only because I've seen the trailers for its upcoming film adaptation due out next month. It took me about a day to read it, so I thought a "mini review" would do just fine for it.
"Kick Ass" is the co-production of writer Mark Miller (Ultimate X-Men, Wanted, Civil War) and illustrator John Romita Jr (Amazing Spider-Man World War Hulk), both legends in their respective fields. It tells the tale of Dave Lizewski, a teenager living with his widowed father, who ponders about the lack of costumed crusaders in the real world. He decides to suit up and fight injustice as the masked hero Kick Ass. A simple You-Tube video away, he earns international fame and inspires many others, such as Red Mist and the father-daughter team Big Daddy and Hit Girl, to answer the call.
The storyline was first class, and the illustration was a pleasure to look at. My only grumble was its length, for I felt the story could have had more meat on its spine (Hehe- get it?). If I'm going to read a graphic novel, I'd prefer something more complex like "Watchmen".
But still, I found myself drawn in from the first page and loved all it had to offer- even the brief nudity (I'm a guy, remember?). I think you guys should pick this up and come see the movie with me when it hits theaters in a few weeks.
Until next time.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Imagine a contest where twenty four children are chosen to compete in a fight to the death to claim a reward of a year's worth of food for themselves and their family. Welcome to the Hunger Games: a Gladiator-style Olympics publically watched on TV for entertainment.
Written by Suzann Collins, "The Hunger Games" takes place in Panem, a country in the ruins of North America made up of twelve districts. Enter Katniss Everdeen- a girl from District 12 whose impressive skills with a bow keep her impoverished mother and sister from starving. After her father was killed in a mining accident, she took responsibility into her own hands and began killing game illegally outside of her district, becoming an extremely skilled hunter in the process.
On Reaping Day, two tributes from each district are chose through a lottery, and Katniss's sister, Prim, is chosen. Fearing for her sister, she volunteers to take her place in the Games. The other tribute is Peeta, the son of the town baker who assisted Katniss once in the past.
Once the Games begin, she finds the battlegrounds a lethal environment, with mutant animals and geographical pitfalls used to weed out weak players in a spectacle fashion. If one manages to survive past that, deadly alliances between other contenders, the forces of nature in control of the viewer-conscious Game makers, and the simple dangers of dehydration and starvation. Supplies are limited, to ensure players fighting tooth and claw over them.
While I was reading this book, I found a few places where the grammar became a bit confusing, and I had to re-read a few times to grasp what the author was trying to say or describe (hey, maybe I’m just an idiot). Overall, the story moved slowly, but only because Collins took the time to thoroughly explain all that was happening. I’m glad she took the time to do that- instead of slapping a story arc on paper, shoving a handful of characters into it, and calling it a novel.
Don’t laugh. You know who you are.
Overall, I found the story unique and interesting. It’s rare to find a young adult post-apocalyptic novel that doesn’t involve some sort of nuclear fallout or zombies. The characters were well-developed and original, thus making them more believable. I enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading its sequel, “Catching Fire” in the near future.
Over and out.