Mini-Blog: May Update

May 2022 Calendar of the month
Image Source: https://www.wiki-calendar.com/may-calendars.html

So, this is just a quick blog to let everyone know that I’m still blogging. I just found that the between commuting, writing my dissertation, grading, and general everyday living, that I couldn’t keep up with the blog with any real consistency. I’ve just “trashed” a post that I was going to write last week about my writing. It wasn’t relevant anymore as I’ve actually managed to do some slight bit of writing now that I’ve finished teaching for this semester. I’m going to update everyone on where I am for the month of May 2022 and what my goals are–and hopefully, this will become a monthly feature of the blog.

Creative Writing

So, I’ve done very little on the creative writing front for the past 6 months (since about January) or so. That is, until the past week. I’ve done a fair bit in the past couple of days now that the stress of grading/teaching this past semester is over. One thing I have done is a fair bit of planning. I hope that all this planning will pay off over the course of this summer. I’ve also tried to come up with realistic goals/expectations. Yes, I have far more ideas than I have time, yet I want to do them all. I’m hopeful that working on 1 short story per semester will be a solid, achievable goal. Longer works may be included in the semesters that I’m “off” (summer breaks/winter breaks) and they may be worked on if I finish my story “early” (before the end of the semester), but right now, until I get some more stability (in terms of not having to commute so much), I don’t feel like I can commit to anything more and reasonably accomplish it as a goal. Some projects that I’m working towards for Summer Semester 2022:

  • Citizen X (Short Story_Alternate Timeline_Sci-Fi)
  • “Project Ranger” (Screenplay_Sci-Fi)
  • WarLight (Graphic Novel_Sci-Fi)

While there might be others, might primary goal is to finish Citizen X (1st), then WarLight (2nd), and “Project Ranger” (3rd). Most of my creative writing time this summer will go to the 1st and 2nd projects with the 3rd project only getting my time whenever I feel too emotionally drained to work on the other two. I also plan to use the Summer semester to plan for other upcoming projects that I want to work on in the future (character sketches, rough drafts, outlines, etc.–basically things that can be completed in an afternoon or two of work).

Dissertation

This is where I plan to devote the majority of my writing time this summer. While I wrote this semester, I found that the chapter that I’m working on was much longer and more complicated that I originally envisioned (it is already at 10,000 words and will probably be closer to 13-15K words when I finish it. As such, this what I will be working on for large stretches of my summer until it is finished. I’m going to be working on it as soon as I finish this blog entry, which is going to serve as a warm-up to it.

Work-Life Balance

So, my work-life balance has been out of whack for the past semester. I hope that now it will be better over the summer as I don’t have the long commute on multiple days. There are still some challenges that I have at the moment (which I’ll talk about next month–if there’s a resolution), but right now, I still don’t have my days fully back to where I can just focus on my writing (scholarly or creative). I still have some things that I need to take care of as I transition to 1) finishing out my PhD studies and 2) transitioning to my new job.

Publications

While I’ll likely do a full blog entry on this one, I wanted update readers who may not know:

The Independent is NOW published!

It is published in Mythic Magazine (February 2022). I only found about it about a week ago or I would have let everyone know sooner. I will update my “Signature line” to make it easy to find should you like to purchase a copy.

Please remember, while I don’t see any “direct” benefit from your purchase (i.e., I don’t get a royalty or anything like that), purchasing from these small presses help to keep them solvent and available to purchase and publish work from neophyte/journeyman writers like myself.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (April 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4100 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.

Reacher: Season 1 Review

Alan Ritchson (as Reacher) wearing a black t-shirt with his arms behind his head, staring out at the camera.
Source: https://www.cinemaexpress.com/english/review/2022/feb/09/reacher-season-1-review-instantly-addictive-nostalgia-inducing-actioner-29643.html

Jack Reacher is a character that I know from the 2 movies starring Tom Cruise. While I know of the author of the series, Lee Child, from my days working at the library, I never really got into the series of books featuring Reacher (🤔 the cover design had a lot to do with that, I think–the covers were never all that impressive/expressive and I didn’t have a good idea of what Child’s books were about from the covers alone). However, while the Reacher movies weren’t the greatest, I did like them and thought that they did a good job at portraying the “anti-hero” without being too annoying.

“Tall Guy”

During my early years at MTSU, I went to school with a massive fan of Lee Child. He mentioned how he didn’t really like the Tom Cruise Reacher movies because Reacher was described in the books as a massive guy, very tall and intimidating. This was something that my colleague felt that Cruise’s movies didn’t portray–the intimidation factor of a really tall, really controlled, but really powerful guy who had both the power and skill to do whatever was necessary. So when I saw that Amazon was doing a Reacher show and that they had cast a really tall actor for this role, I was intrigued as it seemed they were really trying to lean into the authenticity of the character.

Season 1

I enjoyed this particular show. I thought that the mystery was fairly well done. While I did foresee one of the twists in the show and correctly guessed one of the twists, I didn’t see other twists that occurred and I felt like the show kept me guessing all the way through as to what the actual mystery was and who were the people involved. Depending on your level of sleuthing abilities, it may be fairly easy to figure out what’s going on, but as a person who doesn’t normally watch/read mysteries, except as a sidelight to my normal genres of Science Fiction/Fantasy, I thought that it was a pretty fun show. It is also a show with a fair amount of action. Reacher has no problem getting into fights (physical or gun fights) and his no-nonsense style leads to a lot of conflict and action. While there is a fair amount of dialogue in the show (and most of it reveals character rather than plot–although, being a mystery–there is a fair amount of exposition), the show never feels dialogue heavy and/or preachy. The dialogue is there to either reveal character or to move the story along. Violence is pretty high in the show, but not overpowering, and there is (what I feel) a gratuitous shower scene that could have been cut a little earlier as we clearly understand what happened, but otherwise, I thought the show did a fairly good job of handling the mature content.

Character, Character, Character

The show really rests on its main characters: Reacher, Roscoe, and Finlay. The supporting cast is good as well, but the show really works (for me) because of the interaction of these three wildly different characters. Each character, on their own, could probably carry a show, but together, they create a compelling dynamic and you want them together just to see how they are going to interact with each other. I think the show will “live or die” for you, the watcher, based on how much you like/dislike these characters.

Overall Rating: A- (90)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

While not a perfect show for me, it really worked because of the interaction with the 3 main characters, the good supporting cast, and the (mostly) on point dialogue. The mystery, while fun, was just a little too pedestrian and too easy to guess (at least on one of the twists). Still, for this show, you might be “hooked” by the mystery of what’s going on, but in the end, it’s the characters and action that will ultimately keep you invested in the episodes. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Season 2.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (April 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4100 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION (Mythic Magazine)

Mini-Blog: April Blog Schedule

The words: The month of April set against yellow orange background with a rising or setting sun against a seascape
Image Source: https://merrill-middle.oshkosh.k12.wi.us/news/april-2021

So this is a mini-blog to try to set a schedule and stick to it for the month of April. This month (and the first week of May) is the last month in the semester. I’m going to try to release blog posts on the days that I teach, namely Tuesdays and Thursdays. I think that this is what I should be striving for anyway, as a blogger and a writer. Teaching takes a lot of my energy, so I shouldn’t try to write blogs on those days, but rather, write them on the days that I’m not actually in the classroom.

I’m hoping two things will happen: 1) I can become more consistent at blogging and 2) use my blogging time as a “warm-up” to my creative writing. We’ll see if this happens.

Special Considerations

This week, I have a MAJOR presentation on Tuesday afternoon that I’m working towards. This has significantly cut into my creative writing time for this week. Add into that fact that I have been sick over this past Saturday, and well, I’ve not gotten in much writing at all (that hasn’t had to do with the presentation), but I’m just going to plug away. Maybe I’ll do a mini-blog for Mondays just as an update on my Writing Life, but for this week, pretty much the vast majority of my spare time is devoted to finishing/polishing/and practicing my presentation.

Have a great week!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (April 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4100 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION (Mythic Magazine)

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Oscars 2022

3 Oscar winners standing with their gold statues posing for the cameras.
Source: https://abc.com/shows/oscars/news/nominations/oscar-winners-2022-list

So, I just wanted to get my thoughts down in a considered way–which is why this blog entry is late. I don’t want to belabor the incident, but I do feel that it is important enough to at least remark on. Now, I will keep it brief, and hopefully, respectful, as I can be, but I do think that it is something that needs to be discussed. To quote the old cliche: Two wrongs do NOT make a right.

Chris Rock

I believe that Chris Rock was in the wrong. He made a fairly innocuous joke with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem as to what would happen if Cruz lost and Bardem “won” for the Oscar and how that win wouldn’t have been an actual “win.” I thought that was a good joke and then I thought that Rock should have moved on and presented the award (which is why he was there). I know that being a comedian is his “thing,” but you also have to remember the purpose of why he was there–to present an award. This was his primary purpose and every thing was secondary, including his jokes. Whether or not Chris Rock knew of Jada Smith’s struggle with her hair, we are (as a society) moving past shaming people based on their looks. Yes, he’s making a comparison, but it isn’t one that’s a flattering one to Jada. Again, to bring out another cliche: “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

Will Smith

I also believe that Will Smith was in the wrong as well. Had he responded with words, while also not great with an audience in attendance, it would have been much better for all involved. Once he moved from his seat to the stage, that crossed a line, but then he took it way too far with the actual hit on Rock. Obviously, if you need to defend yourself from an attack, then self-defense is appropriate. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened–by hitting Chris Rock (doesn’t matter if it was a punch or a slap)–Smith crossed a line in which you use physical violence in response to words you don’t like. As a writer and a scholar, I know the power of words. Words matter (which is why Chris Rock needs to understand when to say something & when not to say something), but responding to words with violence is never good. If the First Amendment works for Will Smith, then it also has to stand for Chris Rock. If Will Smith didn’t like what Chris Rock said, then he has to use words to refute/challenge what is being said. There’s Twitter, there’s YouTube (Will does have Youtube channel), there’s even the “afterparty” where he might want to discuss Chris Rock’s poor choice of words.

Summer of Soul

So, I really feel bad for Summer of Soul by Questlove. I don’t usually post to Facebook or anything like that except on the rare occasion, but I felt moved to post a clip from YouTube showing Summer of Soul winning the Oscar for Best Documentary. This was important to me as I used this film in both of my classes this semester. For Contemporary African American Writers, I used it to introduce the idea of “African American Vernacular” and how music/lyrics were an important component to African American writers and how musical forms (like Gospel, Jazz, Motown, etc.) are endemic to African Americans and their writings. For my Black Film Matters course, it served as the transition from the Civil Rights era into the more integration-minded 1970s and 1980s. So, I was really looking forward to telling my students that they had watched an Oscar nominated movie that won the Oscar over the weekend (and I will still be doing that), but the fact that the Will Smith/Chris Rock incident happened just before that category and the aftermath happened just after, it really took the wind out of the sails of the event for me and overshadowed Questlove’s achievement, which I think is a real shame.

I know it will never happen, but I really believe that both Will Smith AND Chris Rock not only owe each other an apology, but also one to Questlove as well. He deserved to have his moment and it was, in my mind, taken away from him by the incident.

Again, Rhetoric is about knowing (at minimum): audience and purpose. Of the three men at the Oscars in that “moment,” only one of them, Questlove, was there with the right purpose in mind.

YouTube

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (March 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4100 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION (Mythic Magazine)

Mini-Post: Writing Update–Spring 2022

Hand holding a pen and writing in paper journal
Source: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/16/cnn-underscored/creative-writing-bundle-review/index.html

This will be a shorter blog post, but (hopefully) one that will be a regular feature. I’ve been inspired recently to get back into writing creatively by the way Brandon Sanderson wrote through the pandemic. I’m trying to balance my creative writing, with my teaching, with my scholarship, and I am hoping to find some some sort of balance between these three elements of my writing life. Brandon is able to write prolifically and I’m not–I have to juggle too many competing interests on my time to do a weekly (even, monthly update), so I’m going to go for more realistic goals: Semester Goals. While I like monthly goals, I don’t work “monthly,” I work semester to semester, so this is where/how I’m going to focus these updates. Ideally, I’ll do 2 a semester, one at the beginning (my hopes/dreams for the semester in terms of the project(s)), and one at the end (what I was actually able to accomplish).

Spring 2022: Short Story & Dissertation

Creative Writing: Citizen X (short story–In Progress): This is a rewrite of a short story that I wrote a while back. I’m rewriting it because I think that it had promise, but that I didn’t understand the concept of “Alternate History” well enough. I also think the characterization was a bit off. I’m rewriting it in hopes that the new character that I created is strong enough to carry the story through to the end. I only started thinking about/working on the rewrite in late February/early March, so this has a way to go.

Scholarly Writing: Dissertation (Afrofuturism–In Progress): This is where most of my focus has been during this semester. I’ve been working on it on my “off days” from teaching and really trying to get it “finished” before summer, so that I can use the rest of the summer for editing, addressing any feedback, and defending the dissertation.

Scholarly Writing: Blood on the Shield: African American Trauma in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Conference Paper–Completed): This is a 10-11 page paper written for the 2022 TPA Conference. It has some good ideas that I’d like to expand out into a longer article, but I’m not sure that I have the time as I’m focused on the dissertation.

Scholarly Writing: Afrofuturism: The Power and Promise of Black Science Fiction (Presentation–Upcoming): This is a 90 minute talk that I’ve been asked to give at my current school for the university. I plan on discussing Afrofuturism and the ways in which it helps to have diverse voices in a traditionally non-diverse genre. This is coming up in the middle of April and is something that I hope will help me as I work on my dissertation.

In Closing

So that’s what I’m working on in terms of my writing this semester. While there might be other things/projects, they are pretty much on the back burner as these are the ones that I’m currently devoting my energy towards this semester. I’ll be back in a few weeks with a follow-up update at the end of the semester to see how well I’ve done with these projects. I intend to do another post shortly after to set my “goals” for writing for Summer 2022.

Have a great weekend!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (March 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4100 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION (Mythic Magazine)

The Witcher Season 1 and Season 2 Review

Geralt, Ciri, and Jennifer on the cover with the words: A Netflix Series, The Witcher.  Destiny is a beast.  Dec. 17. Netflix
Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5180504/

I’d intended to do a review of each of the seasons of The Witcher independently. However, I recently (last week) finished both seasons, so I should probably just go ahead and talk about them both so as to get them out as I am writing this blog too sporadically to be sure that I’l be able to get my thoughts down on both seasons in separate posts. There’s a lot to like about The Witcher, but there’s also some stuff that I don’t like, so I’ll try to touch on both.

Now, this is coming from someone who has played the video game, but not read the books. I’ve played nearly 300 hours of The Witcher 3 (276 hours), but not yet completed the main quest. I didn’t play games 1 and 2 in the series for one simple reason: CD Projeckt Red chose not to develop/release those games for the Playstation console. While I don’t consider myself an “expert” in The Witcher universe by any means, that 300 hours was more than enough of a “crash course” in “The Witcherverse.”

Season 1

So, right off the bat, the show lives or dies on the strength of the actor portraying Geralt and the character of Geralt. I have to say that Henry Cavill does a great job of embodying the gruff, rough, course witcher that is portrayed in the game. He is very much a younger embodiment of the character (by design), but he really does manage to capture all of the various aspects of Geralt’s character. I think I like this season the best so far, as it sets up some of the conflicts and origins of the characters that were already well established by the time Witcher 3 comes around. I liked Ciri and the actor who portrayed her (I liked all the actors in their various roles, truth be told), and I also liked the “story” of Ciri as well, although since she could only “run,” it did seem a bit much to have her constantly “running away” over the course of the season. My only complaint with Season 1 is the adult content/language. Yes, I know that’s what is in the game (and I would assume the novels), but it just seems so out of place to hear the “F-Bomb” all over the place, for instance.

Season 2

In Season 2, Ciri has much more to do and we get more answers about her past. I think this is both a good and bad thing. It is good that it gives the actor playing Ciri much more to do and the focus isn’t always on Geralt being a “heartless SOB” which is the way they write him whenever he’s not dealing with Ciri. The bad is that there is something “off” with the way they write Geralt once Ciri joins him. It is as if he is trying to be more “compassionate” but this isn’t the way he was written in Season 1. There is a definite shift in tone, specifically when it comes to Geralt. It isn’t the actors, or the even the writing necessarily, but almost a shift in “creative vision” as to how the show should look/work. I didn’t look to see if they changed show runners/producers, but to me, that’s kind of what if feels like–that they changed their conception of the show from the way it presented in the first season. This tonal shift is something that I found jarring and hard to square with my time with the first season. While the language was still present (unfortunately), at least the adult content was toned down this season (no, it’s not gone completely, but it isn’t nearly as “in your face” as in Season 1).

Good, But Not Yet Great

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If Netflix does a Season 3, I think that this show could really move into the “great” territory. Right now, I think that the next “season” is a “spin off show” (or something similar), with a (probable) 3rd season rumored to happen/expected to happen based on the release strategy of the previous seasons late in 2023. If it does end up happening, I will more than likely check it out as I’m “invested.” However, I can’t say that I believe that this is the “best” fantasy series I’ve seen as there are both good and bad elements to the show. Still, I find it to be a good show that is better than average and I did enjoy my time watching it.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (March 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4100 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION (Mythic Magazine)

Productivity and Me During the Covid Era

African American student with beard and glasses in front of a bookcase with a computer on his desk stares out the window in a distracted fashion.
Source: https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/student-stress

I watched with amazement at the announcement video by Brandon Sanderson on how he managed to spend his time during the Covid 19 pandemic. I’ve included the video link at the end of this section in case you’re curious, but suffice to say, Sanderson’s Kickstarter project, announced in the video, has become the #1 Most Funded Kickstarter OF ALL TIME! Already a number 1 bestselling author, I believe that his success came from the fact that he already has a very large audience for his works, he was able to actually “show” the fruits/efforts of his work (something that is highly dubious on Kickstarter/social funding sites), and because of the “limited” nature of announcements (i.e., some things he would try to make available later, but not sure how/when that might look like) he was able to capitalize on that you need to “act now” if you want to be sure to “get it/get in,” although the more cynical among us would say he was able to capitalize on FOMO–Fear of Missing Out, but that’s always something in a capitalistic society (I once bought a mediocre PS1 game once because it released while I was in the hospital and I knew that, at the time, production runs on games were limited and you often couldn’t find a “new” release 3-6 months down the road; I wouldn’t have bought it–based on the reviews–had I not already been a couple of weeks/a month behind the release “window” of the game). My point is that Brandon Sanderson used his time well and is now being rewarded justly for his efforts.

Home Life Interferes with Work Life

I cannot say the same.

I am not one of the writers who can dream of a big (or small) house, with a room overlooking a lake (or a garden) with a white picket fence. For me, that type of dream wouldn’t work.

Why, you might ask?

Well, the “Covid Years” have helped me to see that I’m a person that likes discreet settings and that my “work/life” balance is strong when I’m able to separate my life and life activities into units. Work = work, home = home, and mixing the two is NOT desirable for me. That’s one of the reasons why my blogging has become so sporadic and my blog has become such a low priority on my activities: I used to do the blog while at work as a way to “ease” myself into the “workday.” I didn’t have to worry about time as I knew the majority of it would be spent working on grading, working on developing lesson plans, working on administration of the class/school (answering emails, etc.).

However, during the “Covid years,” trying to manage this while at hope has shifted my strategies and I’m having to try to work around making sure I get the mail before people get into my mailbox (or spending the time to put up a locking mailbox), trying to do errands on 1-2 days before working, where I could spread those errands out over the course of the work week (5 days) and get 2x as much done in a week, just over a slightly longer timeframe. I even used to get up at 7am — 7:30am, so that I could get to school (and the graduate “office”) at about 10am even when I didn’t have a class. I would then work until lunch time, go home (apartment) and eat lunch, and then return to the workroom at about 2pm and work until dinnertime. Sometimes, although not always (about 2-3 nights a week), I’d even come back and work in the evenings (from 7-9 or 8-10) before going back to the apartment to do it all again–you can ask one of my grad. student friends as she had to come back to the “office” one evening to unlock the door after I’d accidentally locked my keys in the “office.” (Thank you! 🙏).

This is so not my life now. I struggle to get my afternoon session in on MWF and my morning session is often “shot” because that’s when I tend to need to run the errands that I used to get done M-F. It is a struggle to spend 1 hr on the blog, knowing that I need to get ready and go out so that I can get back and try to do work. Also, because I can’t spread out the work, I end up trying to get everything done in 1-2 hours and invariably everything takes longer than that to do and I just end up with incomplete tasks and high levels of frustration.

Writing: Forget about it! I’ve not written anything major in a while although I’ve tried (I’ve really tried!). Unlike Sanderson, I can’t write when I’m stressed. Writing is one of the 1st things to go. I need both stability and routine (outside the home) in order to write effectively (or even to write at all)

Work Life Interferes with Home Life

And that’s just how home life interferes with my own work life. I can’t tell you how having to work while at home is disruptive to my home life. I can’t actually enjoy anything that I do (TV, video games, reading, etc.) because of all the things that I feel that I should be doing because of my “work life” is bleeding into my “home life.”

I’m never able to “shut off” anymore–because I work at home much more than I used to, I feel obligated to try to get a ton of stuff done on my days at home, but I’m never able to accomplish as much as I intend to/set out to, and then when I stop in the evening to “rest,” I still have all the many things that I wasn’t able to finish “nagging” at me even as I’m trying to rest, recover, and prepare for the work day (which usually involves a substantial commute and teaching). I feel like I’ve been “on” now for the past year really–and having the dissertation makes it just that much worse.

Instead of, say, doing grades/lesson plans/classroom admin stuff in the mornings/afternoons, and then working on my dissertation from say, 7-9pm as would have while at MTSU before Covid, I find that I’m exhausted by 7-9 from running around all morning doing errands, eating lunch, trying to work on grades, etc. during the afternoon and not getting everything finished and then being too tired to do anything except go to bed or play a game to get ready for the next day’s commute/teaching load.

Even the weekends, which used to be my saving grace, don’t seem to work for me anymore. I spend the time doing way more than I used to, especially in the mornings as I’m trying to do all the “dissertation” work during the mornings that should have been spread out over the week and I find myself just as dissatisfied and overburdened on the weekends as I do during the week.

Next Steps

They say, the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. I need to find “spaces” outside my home where I can get work done. I tried adding an extra “commute day” up to where I work, but every time I did, (on Wednesdays) there was some sort of “traffic” issue that either cost me time or was dangerous due to other drivers. I’m going to investigate my local library branches–downtown has the most space, but you have to pay for parking and at $1 to $1.50 per hour, that gets expensive quickly! The branches have free parking, but they are much, much smaller and (knowing the demographics as I do since I’ve worked in every branch), their populations are much less likely to have been vaccinated so, for me, I feel the risk of Covid exposure goes way up going that route. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s (UTC’s) library would be an option, but because I’m no longer a student, again, I’d need to pay to park on a daily basis. I don’t really need wi-fi, as I already have the books and articles that I’m working with (& can print out what I need when I’m home), but I do need someplace that has a good (i.e. comfortable) table and chairs where I can spread out my materials and work–I used to have that in our graduate “office.” I may try to find a space on UTC’s campus that will allow me to do that, but again, parking will be the issue.

In Closing

So, I really just want to say thank you for reading this–this is just my way to try to come to terms with how Covid has affected my work/life balance and to consider how I, as a writer, need to try to inhabit a particular writing personae. I have said that I’m the opposite from Stephen King in that I “build up” my stories from the ground up while his process is to throw “everything” in and then begin to strip away elements. I see I’m also opposite of Brandon Sanderson in that he reacts to trauma by delving in his fiction. I react to trauma by delving into “other worlds” to escape the trauma, but not the worlds I create, but that others create. If I want to create my own “other worlds,” I need stability and routine, but most especially, I need that “work/life” balance.

While I wonder what it means that two of the most successful writers in the genre have patterns opposite what I have (does that mean I’ll never be successful/achieve bestseller status?), I do know that if I don’t find a way to create stability and routine in my life, I’m never going to produce anything in order to find out.

I need to find a solution to the problem that Covid has presented–preferably, without catching Covid while doing it, it I really want to produce the works that I say that I do! 😎

Have a great week!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (March 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4100 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION (Mythic Magazine)

Horizon Forbidden West vs Elden Ring: Criticizing What We Don’t Like and Not Criticizing What We Do Like

A woman with red hair in braids on the left side and a man in armor with a large halberd and a lion-like monster behind him on the right.  Words in picture = Horizon Forbidden West vs Elden Ring
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDyIG5ba9FQ

I often wonder if people will interpret my posts detailing the ways in which Sony and its Playstation brand is perceived as opposed to Microsoft and its XBox brand as simple “fanboyism,” bias towards the Playstation brand, and a perpetuation of the “console wars.” However, I want to assure you, the bias isn’t mine, per se, but simply a recognition that the bias exists in the general public, especially in the news/gaming media, which, while reporting the news, doesn’t do enough to acknowledge their own biases and the fact that they also make the news as well. I’ve found two differing examples with two differing (and well respected YouTube channels/review outlets) to illustrate how these biases display themselves and why it is important to pay attention to them and to point them out.

Exhibit 1: YouTube Channel–HDTVTest & Horizon Forbidden West

So, this is a YouTube channel that I followed for a while (approx. two years) and in that time, while I’ve noticed a slight bias towards Microsoft, for the most part, I felt that he kept his channel fairly “evenhanded” and produced a fair amount of content for Playstation (even going so far as to purchase 2 PS5s in order to test various settings. However, I started to notice things going a little “off the rails” (with me) with his videos on the PS5’s HDR display settings. When I tried his “method,” it didn’t look right and was far too dark. Moving to AVForums recommended settings for the TV and using the in-built PS5 setting “correctly” game me a picture more in line with what I was expecting. While HDTVTest has years of calibration and is certified, so too is the crew at AVForums, so credibility isn’t the issue.

However, what is the issue is that HDTVTest (for some reason) is unhappy with the HDR performance of Sony Playstation’s newest flagship game, Horizon Forbidden West as you can see in the following videos (which caused me to unsubscribe to his channel) in stark contrast to Digital Foundry who noted the inconsistencies, but found that they didn’t impact the overall presentation of the game in any significant way.

Video #1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3pyEiLmOeM&t=170s

Video #2 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPMW4RqTR8g&t=10s

Now, I’m not sure what’s going on with HDTVTest who usually discusses televisions and only rarely jumps into video game/computer/console gaming areas (although he sometimes covers games in order to prove a point such as Fortnite and Dirt 5), but let’s say you’re an average consumer, who’s subscribed to HDTVTest, but not Digital Foundry. You might be PERSUADED to think that the Playstation lacked correct visual fidelity and not want to buy a game that isn’t visually “perfect” without understanding that this is actually a “PS5 Graphics Masterclass” (Digital Foundry’s words, not mine).

Exhibit 2: Game Informer & Elden Ring (specifically, PC Version)

The second exhibit is Game Informer and the new release of Elden Ring. Now, there has been a lot of hype for the Elden Ring game, so much so, that I question the impartiality of many reviews by many media outlets. Game Informer, in particular, is one of the media outlets that has been really “bullish” on this game since it was announced and just game the game a “perfect” 10 for its review of the game.

Game Informer Elden Ring Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aUEN2iLtxY

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hear that a piece of media (especially, a game) gets a “perfect score,” then I expect a perfect (or near perfect) experience in ALL aspects. From character, to gameplay (for games), to story, visuals, etc. However, Digital Foundry, once again, notes the strengths and weaknesses of Elden Ring, especially the places where the performance of the game simply isn’t up to snuff. While a personal decision, a couple of the Digital Foundry editors note that they are putting off playing the game until the performance issues are addressed on PC, and they also note the two ways in which console gamers can get the best experience (PS4 Pro version played on a Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X with a VRR display).

Again, I don’t know about you, but these compromises don’t indicate a “Perfect 10” score. At no point would another (non-hyped) game receive such a great score with a less than stellar performance on either the PC or Console. And it’s not just this particular outlet–last I heard, Elden Ring was the highest rated game on Metacritic, so there are a LOT of outlets who have “minimized” the performance aspect of the game simply because it is a game that they like and want to see to do well. While fine, outlets need to be transparent about this particular “bias,” acknowledge it, and then move on with the review.

Closing Arguments

Bias is one of the most important things that is a part of media that isn’t addressed. Many places claim impartiality, but either ignore/minimize their own likes and dislikes and don’t address them in any meaningful way. Forbes, for instance, has an implicit bias towards Microsoft based on many of their articles that (praise) Microsoft and excoriate Sony. Forbes‘ gaming editorial unit (based on wording of articles/way coverage is unevenly applied) would be very happy to see Sony disappear from the gaming landscape and to see Microsoft dominate (without noting the many negatives that Microsoft have introduced into gaming).

Warning: Foul Language

While I pick on Forbes, HDTVTest, and Game Informer for this post, this is endemic in the media and is a problem that doesn’t need to be–simply acknowledge your biases in the review (we like Elden Ring and want to see it succeed, therefore we aren’t going to penalize it for certain gameplay issues) or (we don’t like Sony and so we are going to penalize them for not being absolutely perfect on everything they do). However, no one either wants to admit to having bias in stories or that they actually are biased and would prefer one thing/outcome over another. Even with bias in their stories, they still want to appear as impartial as possible because impartiality (even false) aids in credibility.

Credibility is something that’s earned, not innate. If you’re not going actually be impartial (aka liking both Microsoft and Sony, for example), then please, stop trying to pretend that you are impartial. It’s not only disingenuous, but it also really kind of silly once someone starts looking at the language (negative and positive language) used in the story.

Also, if a game isn’t perfect and doesn’t play perfectly, then it really isn’t a “perfect 10” is it? No matter how much you like it and want it to be.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (February 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4400 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

Movie Review: Ghostbusters Afterlife

Ghostbusters Afterlife Official Movie Poster.  Five characters standing around the Ecto-1 car as a greenish "ghost" storm forms in the sky above them.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostbusters:_Afterlife

I’ve been purchasing quite a few movies lately. Most of them have been copies for my film class, for the ones that I did not already own, but many of them have been science fiction and fantasy movies that I’ve not yet had a chance to see. I’ve not really watched them because of the pressure of the semester, but I decided last night that the pressure was really getting to me (this post was almost a “Bear Eats You” type of post and I really didn’t want to go there), so even though it was later than I liked, I went ahead and watched Ghostbusters Afterlife. I have to say that I really enjoyed the film and that there was a lot to like about the movie.

The Good

I thought there was quite a bit of excellent work in terms of both writing and characterization inside the movie. The script, while not always working, was charming and endearing. Mostly, the movie was smart enough to do what most movies won’t do when they are trying to “revive” a mostly dormant franchise: it appealed to nostalgia in a way that wasn’t disrespectful of the old movies, but changed the premise just enough that one could see a “new” group of heroes take on the role/mantle of the older generation. This movie isn’t revelatory, but it doesn’t have to be: the only thing you want is to not “tick off” the fans of the original/older generation, while at the same time have the new generation not think it is “old” and “not relevant” anymore. I think GB Afterlife accomplishes this mission. It includes more than enough nods to the original in tone, structure, plotting and cameos to satisfy those of us who were around when the original GB was a thing, but also enough new characters (with their motivations and goals) and a plot that recalls some of the greatest ideas from the movie without being a straight one-to-one “copy” (beat for beat) of the original. This, I think, is what the Disney Star Wars sequels were going for, but didn’t manage to do, at least not for me. There was a “heart” to this movie that was missing in the Star Wars sequels. I think that if you are a fan of the originals or if you’re a Millennial wondering what all the fuss was over GB, then I think this movie is a good one to check out.

The Bad

Okay, for me, not much outside of the fact that you essentially have six characters that pair off for approximately 3 separate storylines. The main storyline gets enough time, but the two “B” and “C” stories (with the brother and mother) don’t really feel as fleshed out as they could be. Yes, I’m glad they didn’t do the whole teenage “angst” thing with brother disbelieving sister or mother who thinks her kids are in her way type of thing with this movie (and I appreciate it), but the character arcs for those to characters feel slightly stunted when compared with the arc of the main character (who, in this movie, is the sister as we follow her POV for most of the movie).

The Nostalgia

So, I won’t go too far with this one, but nostalgia is really at the heart of this particular movie. It gives closure to the movie in a way that none of the other GB movies or the GB game in the PS3 does. The game is considered canon and is considered the “unofficial” 3rd movie in the GB franchise. I may be mistaken, but I believe the game was done before Harold Ramis passed away and everyone reprised their roles, but the movie was definitely done after Harold’s death and there is very much an “In Memory of” quality about the movie. It also earns brownie points for the way in which it treats the cameos of the original cast of the film. I always like when movies treat the originals with respect and this movie does so. While The Incredible Hulk and Race to Witch Mountain aren’t remembered fondly, I have a soft spot in my heart for the way they included the original cast members from the original television show/films for both projects. Knowing that “Lou Ferrigno” (the actor who originally was “the Incredible Hulk” from my childhood) played a security guard in the Marvel movie always bumps up my internal score for it (even if it isn’t as good as later Marvel movies).

Overall Score: A (95)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As you can tell, I liked this movie quite a bit! I thought that the characters were great, the story was good, the appeal to nostalgia was great, and the special effects were great. While I would have liked more time on the secondary stories, it would have probably been a bad idea to focus too much on the mother/brother storylines, but I did notice that they seems a little “stunted.” Still, for me, there’s not too much to complain about for this one. I really liked pretty much everything they did with one. My only hope is that they keep this set of characters together if they do a sequel and not just choose to “cherrypick” and keep the brother and sister characters and then go with other “GB” companions (which is typical of many Hollywood) sequels/follow-ups. I think this group of “six” (sister/friend, brother/friend, mother/teacher) is a great set of characters–I might just like them to even out the storylines just a little bit more than they did for this movie. Otherwise, stellar movie!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (February 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4400 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

The Book of Boba Fett: Season 1 Review (No Spoilers)

Star Wars The Book of Boba Fett in all white lettering.  Boba Fett an armored mercenary is standing holding a laser rifle with his partner, an armored Fennec Shand, standing by his side.  A spaceship is in the blue-green sky and brown dust swirls around his and Fennec's legs.
Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt13668894/

Okay, rather than a straight review, I’m going to talk more in terms of impressions and generalities as I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone reading who hasn’t yet had a chance to see it. So, if I seem like I’m not being very specific in the reasons behind certain opinions, well, I”m trying to be very plot/spoiler conscious–something that I wish was more common online.

Also, so that you’ll know right off the bat where I’m coming from, I really liked this show. It has its fair share of detractors online, but like most things these days, its detractors are really loud and vocal, but don’t really represent a majority of opinions (although it often seems that way because the online discourse).

The Good–Star Wars is Back!

More Star Wars goodness! The Book of Boba Fett takes place on Tatooine again, but it pays off several really cool storylines that fans have either wondered about or wanted to see. There are tons of more in-depth characterization, cameos, and cool moments that really make the series a must-watch for the Star Wars fan. I really like the way that the series is structured. This is where I deviate from many of the people online because many say that it is too slow. It isn’t really, but quite a bit of the early story, necessary for us to see why Boba is a different “creation” from the ones in the movie, happen in flashback. In this hyper-needy Western culture, we want everything now and don’t want to wait (I’m not just being facetious here–I watch tons of reaction videos and watching reactors, mostly Millennials, wanting to know now or trying to guess what’s going instead of just watching the action unfold is probably one of the most irritating trends that I see that is common to far more than you might believe). I loved the way the story unfolded and felt that it paid off/rewarded the viewer’s patience in a meaningful way.

The Bad–Star Wars is Back . . .

So, the only real negatives are some of the silliness that Star Wars sometimes brings in unintentionally. While I personally was okay with Modded Biker Gang (many were not fans), I was less enthused by their actual bikes. Sometimes, when swinging for the fences, Star Wars creators (including George Lucas) don’t always hit it out of the park. Most of the time they do, but not always (the “hanging dice” in the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars Ep. IV (New Hope) that “disappeared” for Empire (V) and Jedi (VI). Every time those particular speeder bikes came on-screen, I just had the image of the old animated show, The Biker Mice from Mars pop into my head. I can’t go into any more details without delving into spoiler territory, but just know that many weren’t a fan of the people riding the bikes, but I wasn’t a fan of the bikes themselves.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biker_Mice_from_Mars_(2006_TV_series)

The Ugly–No Spoilers?

I don’t really have an “ugly” here (or a beautiful) or any other detraction/superlative. This was, to me, a good show–a good, solid eight episodes of entertainment. I guess the one thing I can remark on is that this show, unlike Hawkeye, wasn’t spoiled for me. There were a couple of smallish spoilers in various thumbnails around my YouTube feed of reactors, but I basically unsubscribed from the most offending ones and resubscribed after the series concluded. Yes, YouTube still feed me a lot of the content in my Recommendations tab, but, for the most part, I was able to avoid spoilers and enjoy the show (again, unlike Hawkeye). So, I guess that’s a win?

On a quick tangent/rant: Disney loves the boost it gets by debuting shows on Wednesday and its shows don’t then take away from its Friday theatrical premieres, but I got to say, it sucks trying to duck social media feeds for more than 24 hours to watch on the weekend for these “event driven” shows. I usually have to watch sometime that very same day if I don’t want major plot reveals spoiled. I’m sure Disney loves this, but I do not! The whole point of “streaming” is to watch it on my schedule, not someone else’s schedule. The old Friday release schedule was so much better from a viewer’s standpoint in that I had time to watch it before the spoilers really became too prevalent–not so much now. Okay, rant mode off.

Overall Rating: A- (90)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This one, for me, is right there at a 90 which would be an A- if I were grading it. It does nearly everything right, but there are a few minor flaws that kept it from being a top-flight, perfect experience for me. With a few little tweaks (especially around designing some of the vehicles that inhabit the world), I think this could take its place beside Disney’s other major Star Wars shows. I’m looking forward to a Season 2 of the show (which, at the time of writing, Feb. 2022, hasn’t yet been announced). If there isn’t one, it definitely sets up nicely as a “springboard” to Disney’s upcoming Star Wars shows as well.

Well, that’s all I have time for today! Have a great week!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (February 2022):

  • The Runner (Fantasy Story–4000 words)
    2022 RevisionOut to Market.
  • Unhallowed (Weird Western Story–4400 words)
    2022 Revision: Completed; Out to Market.
  • The Independent (Science Fiction Story–4800 words)
    2021 RevisionACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Dr. Eric Perry’s Self-Help Blog

Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

DIANA MARIN

CREATIVE WRITER & SOCIAL MEDIA PROFESSIONAL

LUNA

Pen to paper

Brielle R Campos

With Great Power Comes Great Rhetoric

Ashley O'Melia, Author

A garden of wild thoughts in straight little rows

LAUREGALIE

BOOK REVIEWS

Pauls Pages Too

Extra Content from PaulsPages.com

DragOn Writing

Sci-Fi and Fantasy writer, dreamer and Netflix junkie

The Godly Chic Diaries

BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH

Learning to write

Just your average PhD student using the internet to enhance their CV

Memoir of a Writer

perfecting language on paper

the !n(tro)verted yogi

Bernie Gourley. Traveling Poet-Philosopher

unbolt me

the literary asylum

Elan Mudrow

Smidgens

The Solivagant Writer

The world is my playground; the pen, my friend

James Harringtons Creative Work

A site of writings, musings, and geek culture, all under one domain!

renegade7x

Natalia's space