Archive | September 2013

Naked? With Socks? In Public? No Cops? Bring it On.

Today’s daily prompt (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/daily-prompt-public/) is pretty interesting. It implies not only that the police won’t show up when a person is walking around wearing nothing but socks while preaching to a vast crowd of multicultural men and women but also that the speaker would be comfortable doing so. Here is my take on the whole thing, complete and unabridged except where it isn’t.

When I was a young man, no older than 18, I walked into my first day of college with a spring in my step and a-hold on, forgot a textbook. Ok, with a spring in my step and a-wait what room am I going to? Oh, the other campus? Gotcha. With a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Or perhaps it was gas. At any rate, I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to begin what I believed to be the first day of the rest of my life, where I could make friends on a daily basis and talk to anyone I wanted to! Which is why I got on the shuttle with headphones already in place and began reading a book. I am, as you may be able to tell, a social butterfly.

Waters tested and initial awkwardness out of the way, I became a lot more comfortable in my new, big-boy college shoes, but I still had an issue. You see, dearest reader, while I can talk to anyone I want to, quite easily I may add, I have difficulty in retaining any of them as a consistent companion. They seem to stay forever in that awkward acquaintance stage, where we know each other but don’t know each other, and that seems to be a rut I cannot escape without resorting to bribery or threats*. How have I found this out, you may ask? Easy. Practice.

You see, overly-attached yet still clandestine fan, where I fall behind in adding to my social circle, I excel in talking to whomever catches my fancy at any particular time. I have reiterated to my friends, who may or may not exist, many times over that my comfort zone is large enough for a small sun or one especially angry honey badger. I don’t mind going up and talking to random people in the least, and occasionally go out of my way to do so. I even played a game freshmen year where I would go around with a book filled with random, non-important questions and simply ask people things for fun. Then people started labeling me creepy and I stopped. But nobody remembers that, right?

At any rate, my inability to feel awkward helps me greatly when it comes to giving out criticism, making terrible jokes, and meeting, as well as talking with, new people. I did well back in public speaking when I made sure to slow my speech rate down to near-human levels, and I can talk to both large and small groups with ease. May have had something to do with my being in theater, now that I think about it. But to answer the prompt, I am perfectly fine with talking to any group in almost any situation. Just don’t make me go nude, nobody wants to see that.

* I have never bribed nor threatened anyone, tis a line meant for comedic effect

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Sunshine, With a Chance of Rain

One more from the Feature Writing class! That’s right, loyal and non-loyal readers, there are TWO things due today that I’m sharing! “Oh glorious day, Mr. Chickens,” some of you shout with glee, “You’re work is what gives me life!” Cockiness aside, this is the second thing I have to turn in today, and is, once again, a review of a review. Do a lot of these, don’t I? For added fun, read the entirety of the piece from the point of view of an angry walrus.

Sunshine, With a Chance of Rain

Let me begin by saying that, as a rule, I rarely, if ever, pay any attention to and/or even acknowledge the existence of critics and reviewers unless I will be buying something shortly, usually some video game. That is because I enjoy reading or watching something for myself, since it’s impossible to gauge my reaction from someone else’s viewpoint. That being said Joe Morgenstern wrote a decent review and now I kind of want to see the movie.

According to Professor Todd Hunt, hereby known as Professor Hunt due to grammar rules and because his name is magnificent, there are eight roles of reviewers and critics that ensure that they aren’t seen as people shouting their opinions to anyone who will listen and even more to people who won’t. Something was, apparently, lost in translation. At any rate, Morgenstern at least tries to abide by the rules Professor Hunt laid down, probably next to the boar that he killed with his bare hands.

Firstly, Morgenstern covered not only the piece that he originally set out to cover, but seemingly every other even marginally similar work that the stars playing the leads have done before. It makes for a round piece, and gives a good point of comparison for both old and new viewers. The references are woven through the article like a red thread through an orange shirt: noticeable, but not necessarily distracting. However when you include too much string, suddenly you can’t tell if the shirt started as red or orange. Morgenstern references the actor’s other works often enough so as to muddle the writing a bit. One finds himself questioning whether Morgenstern is writing about “Sunshine” or “Being John Malkovich” in certain passages (as an example), and the result is loss of attention. In this instance, then, perhaps Morenstern simply does Professor Hunt’s first point too well. On to point two.

Professor Hunt informs readers, likely between punching tigers and polishing his rifle, that critics set a sort of standard for entertainers, thus raising the overall quality of entertainment. If one were liberal in their opinion, such as Morgnestern seems to be, they would say that all work is good to somebody and we have no right reviewing it poorly. At first I believed that “Sunshine” really was “that good”, i.e. there are so few, tiny flaws with the movie that they’re not worth mentioning.  That was until I read the additional recommended piece, “Drive”, which took me a few minutes to figure out was actually a collection of reviews published under one convenient title (or at least I hope it is, as mentioned before Morgenstern’s writing can be a tad blurry). After reading through all the reviews, I can not recall a single negative comment on any of them. Maybe it’s that I simply can’t remember, but the fact is that if I can’t remember one then it was so small that it doesn’t quite matter. Morgenstern seems to either appreciate everything or not write about anything that doesn’t interest him, and therein lies the problem of not being able to raise any standards at all, due to everything appearing “just fine”. When I read a review, I want both the good and the bad, otherwise I have no opinion coming out of it.

Morgenstern’s reviews, as a whole, try to live up to Professor Hunt’s expectations, but fall depressingly short due to Morgernstern not having the hard edge necessary to cut anything apart. They’re entertaining, however, so he can be forgiven.

-586 words-

A Profile Piece

I had to recently do a profile piece for my Feature Writing class. Figured I may as well upload it here, since I haven’t had much time for recreational writing as of late what with classes and homework and such. Anyways, enjoy!

The first thing a visitor notices about John’s first-floor apartment is that it is littered with animals, both inside and out. The entrance to his apartment is, basically, an outdoor hallway that holds the doors for three other apartments and ends in a wooden deck overlooking a woods, filled with the chirping of insects. When he finally answered the door with a faint smile and a welcome, you are greeted by not one, but two cats as well as a large rabbit, Sir Harington. Before the interview could begin, however, he brought me over to his computer and put a flash drive in his hand. Apparently the drive contained a free version of a new survival-horror golf game given to him at the Baltimore Comic Con by an independent developer, whom he had never met. After playing the demo, he proceeded to find anyone who would listen and bring them to the developer’s booth, urging them to try the game. As thanks, they gave him a free drive which he then gave to me to download, then pass it on to a friend to help the new developer get its name out. The more you talk to John, the more you realize that that is the kind of man he is.

The easiest way to describe a man like John is through his actions. While attending a Catholic elementary school, John first discovered his penchant for going against the norm. His uniform required a certain level of dress and, forgetting his tie, he had a friend make a cardboard cutout of one and wore it to mass. While not against the rules, John received a detention anyways and the school changed the rulebook the next year. “I would like to find loopholes and I would abuse it.” John made his initial friends at Stevenson by inviting over 25 people to lunch the first day, and spending time with those who remained. He hasn’t changed much, since.

Since he was sixteen years old in high school, John has been working whenever possible. He applied for a work permit as soon as he was able and began working the floor at a local Bestbuy. After working there for just a little while, John began being moved from department to department, eventually working in pretty much every one. John smiled and gave a bit of a chuckle, “All the departments started playing pass the Holliman.” He eventually ended up in Geek Squad, where he fell in love with both the job and the culture, and stays not only for the discounts the position provides, which he happily accepts, but also to keep up-to-date on computer information and for the enjoyment. “Working for Geek Squad is a very fun experience, and they take care of you.” Recently John was moved up to corporate Geek Squad, where he assists customers over the web with virtual computer repairs as well as the occasional spot check of Geek Squad centers, though the latter is more of John’s many side jobs, such as DJ’ing, running his own business, and working at his brother’s comic book shop.

John’s brother is about 26 years older than John, and the two have never been especially close, only coming around to visit on occasion. In fact, his brother was around so scantily that John, for a time, believed himself an only child. Whenever he did visit though, he brought gifts, “He wasn’t home a lot, he had moved out by the time I was born, so whenever he did come around it was, ‘Hey try this new card game’ or ‘Hey, try this new board game’.” It is his brother that John attributes his love of games to, seeing as his mom never enjoyed or encouraged that sort of behavior. Ever since, though, John has loved games of all kind. His job in his brother’s comic shop is, in fact, to teach customers about new card games, and has memorized the rules for seemingly all of them through the years. It didn’t take long for John’s love of games to expand to video games, “I’m a gamer, a very big gamer. I have almost every console known to man.”

John’s life is a precarious balance between drop-down, drag-out fun and excessive work, and he tends to always be doing something. One may wonder how he manages all of it. “I don’t. I am crazy, I always will be crazy, but that’s why some people love me. There’s not enough hours in the day to do what I do, ever… It is busy, I don’t have much free time ever, but really I don’t have enough time. I stress myself out, I burn myself out, but that’s just who I am,” he says, sitting in his apartment, a soft smile on his face.

Daily Prompt: Video Games and Psychology

I’ve always been slightly bothered by all the articles I’ve read describing gamers as murderous timebombs waiting to happen. Said articles always seem to indicate that video games can work a person into such a rage as to murder everyone they knew and loved. Being a bit of a gamer myself, I’ve never once thought of killing someone by running them over with a car while dressed as a hotdog after playing Saints Row, nor have I ever considered punching a cow to death for meat and leather after playing Minecraft. When I saw the Daily Prompt (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/daily-prompt-wrong/), a nifty little feature really, I just couldn’t help myself.

Man Raises Empire, Video Games to Blame

   Jeffery White has raised an empire of over 1,000 men seemingly overnight, equipping an army and conquering his previous neighbors before settling in and raising a city next to Baltimore, MD.

White used to be a small-time accountant with Gregarian Accounts, an accounting firm based out of New York City with branches all along the east coast.

With the release of Rome II: Total War, a video game where you play as an ancient European culture an attempt to conquer parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, White changed his career path to Emperor.

Experts report that White completed the video game precisely one hour before he began his conquests, leading them to believe that video games are the cause.

“We already know that video games create criminals and psychopaths, so it’s not surprising that they can create warlords as well,” says John Noah, expert in video game violence.

Noah explains that this isn’t the first time a warlord has popped up because of a video game. “It wasn’t anywhere near as large as this, but when Starcraft 2 came out we had a kid try to make an empire of insects. He got as far as the end of the street before he was stopped.” Starcraft 2 is a real-time-strategy game featuring an insect-like race.

White’s empire now takes up most of western Baltimore and is expanding towards the heart of a city at a freighting rate. The Army has been called in but has yet been unable to make a dent in White’s Testudos, a Roman defensive formation.

“White’s micromanagement, that’s his army control, is off the charts,” said expert Starcraft gamer TLO. “It’s actually quite impressive.”

US casualties are up to 500 and continue to rise, while White is seemingly gaining more and more men.

Army sources say that if White’s army isn’t stopped soon, it may conquer the East coast. Carpet bombing of Baltimore has been approved, however Army officials hesitate to use this tactic in what is still a heavily-populated city.

Fellow employees say that White was always a bit strange, but nothing indicated that he would switch careers to warlord or emperor.

“This is all too sudden,” said White’s boss, Lilly Thomas, “He was always a good employee, and we aren’t paid that much. I have no idea where he got the funds for this.”

White’s funding issue has yet to be answered, and no one has spoken to the man since the empire appeared.

A Man of Extremes: A Review of a Review

I guess this is my first real post. How exciting! At any rate this is an essay that I was assigned in my Feature Writing class, and actually kind of fell in love with. It’s definitely one of my most entertaining and humorous essays, and I’m incredibly proud of the result. 

A Man of Extremes

Dana Goodyear is an incredibly clever woman. In 2009 she published a piece entitled, “James Cameron: A Man of Extremes,” and wrote it, entertainingly enough, in an extreme way. Topping 10,300 words and with more history than an average WWII poem, her piece is so undoubtedly extreme that it’s difficult to believe that the title wasn’t purposeful. It’s almost poetic. At any rate, however, the profile is a titanic piece that focuses on director James Cameron; his past works, and near failures, as well as his, at the time, present work Avatar, or, more lovingly, Smurfs in Space. The topic is certainly interesting, seeing as the man is a diver-director with a romantic chip on his shoulder, but what is more-so is the way that Goodyear went about writing the piece.

Garison, according to the textbook required by the class, which, in turn, requires this paper, clearly outlines the “correct” way an aspiring author/journalist would go about writing a profile article. Goodyear must have read the book as well before deciding it was incomplete and adding to it with her own flair, for she sticks to the formula quite well. Mostly. Goodyear certainly begins with an lead, follows that up with a news peg and some biography before ending with a conclusion, but the strange part is that she does this more than once.

Goodyear, deciding that one profile isn’t enough, wrote several, at least three, before slapping them together in a way that shouldn’t work but does in a very, very good way. The article begins with an introduction that paints Cameron not as a hero, or a magnificent movie-maker, but a no-nonsense, harsh-talking director, intent on getting things done. Goodyear then moves into a nut graf that clearly defines what Cameron has done, Terminator and Titanic, and mentions information of note and the awards concerning each before moving into some biographical information. From there, Goodyear presents all three of her pieces smashed into one another like a car crash someone decided to weld together and turn into a jazzy stretch limo; clearly made up of smaller things but so pretty you don’t mind. Bits of an article on Cameron and Terminator are scattered throughout the article as a whole, drawing little threads and comparisons between his big three works Goodyear focuses on, and Titanic gets its own section altogether which includes how it was made, the critics’ reaction to it, and then Cameron’s reaction to the critics, as well as his reaction when said critics were proven horribly, horribly wrong. All the while, however, Goodyear never deviates from her true article: Cameron and Avatar. Goodyear covers the creation and production of the film in greater detail than the two other mini-articles, and glories in the opportunity to show her readers what kind of man Cameron is in clear, foul-languaged detail.

Goodyear’s article covers her topic in exquisite detail and clearly gives the reader a glimpse into the entertaining, and more than a little frightening, mind of James Cameron. She does so, however, in her own way, meandering along a path that only she can see, all the while making her readers want to follow slowly behind her, starting at the blue-skinned beauty that is Cameron’s creation all the while.

The Actual Introduction

This section is the one I always struggle with. It’s easy to continue something you’re in the middle of, and even ending something is pretty straightforward. Beginnings though, beginnings can be tricky. Beginnings require energy and time, not to mention they’re new, and new things tend to be both intimidating and scary. Like quantum physics or an angry woman. Fortunately, there are decent enough books published on both writing introductions quantum physics, and so I find myself at a crossroads, a place where a decision can be made: continue or run away like a little baby, and I am no child.

I am, in fact, a college student; I am a junior currently attending a lovely little college with growth issues in a backwards, mostly-unknown state called Maryland on the eastern coast of the United States, home of Apple Pie and obesity. I am, first and foremost, mostly human, and I love words. Words, words, words, insert Hamlet reference, make my world go ’round. I love writing, reading, and speaking about writing and reading almost as much as I like writing and reading. Almost needless to say, this puts me in an interesting situation, for what college student in their right mind writes for fun anymore, let alone read? And while I love my friends dearly, I made the mistake of not befriending a single person who enjoys books of any kind nor in any capacity, and so I am stuck in a bit of what one would call a snafu.

You see, dear reader who may or may not exist, in the words of some very clever comic artists I met at Otakon, I do not participate in artistic masturbation; I do not write for the sake of writing. I write because I want my words to be read, and seeing as how so few of my friends read, and how not everything I write is a story that could be hosted by, say, Tor in any timely fashion, I made the decision to post my random thoughts, works, stories, poems, and, yes, even essays, on this site in the hopes that someone out there shares my bizarre tastes and reads them. The way I see it is that words exist to be read, and if they are not, they are not fulfilling their purpose. And I want them to fulfill their purpose.

So come, dear reader or reader-to-be, join me in my epic quest for meaning and entertainment, join me in this frivolous journey of self-discovery, join me, please, so this is not solely literary masturbation. Join me, and read for awhile.

<3 Chickens

This post is proof that I am, in fact, of poultry decent and that I can, in fact, type.