Mar 24

Some Honesty About My Issues


This is hard to write, and a part of me doesn’t want to. I spend a lot of effort on the illusion that everything is okay, and that I am happy, and when I pull that mask off, I tend to fall apart in spectacular ways. It’s scary, to be honest. But all this building up a facade is not solving the problem. Another year has passed, and I still struggle with all this garbage, again and again. I should face it head on, and I should be honest. And if you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly my friend, and I owe it to you to be honest.

When I say that, I don’t mean I’ve been lying, exactly. You’re my friends. I’m not lying to you. It’s not a lie, the things I talk about and do and care about and get excited about. I am all those things, no doubt. But I am often throwing them up in front of you as a distraction, making them more public than I perhaps should, and praying that you don’t see the depressed ball behind the curtain. If I do lie, it’s only by omission, and it’s only about this stuff, really. I’m sorry if that’s painful to hear.

So last night, for hours, I basically argued with my boyfriend. I was going to kill myself, and he needed to promise me he’d take care of Mr. Q. He wouldn’t promise that, of course. Not while I was like that. But we talked and fought and finally I tired myself out and went to sleep. I woke up today not much better, though I’m getting stuff done, I suppose. I think back on last night and it is just… I am horrible for doing those things. For thinking them, and saying them out loud, and making them real. I shouldn’t have. But there it is.

I wish I could say that was uncommon, but honestly, it’s really not. Last night was especially bad, yes. Normally I have suicidal thoughts, but I am not motivated to go through with them. Last night I had nothing like that holding me back. But I have these sorts of nights, moments, periods, or what have you, fairly regularly. I often call them panic attacks, or just attacks, but I don’t know what they are, perse. Maybe there’s a specific name for them. I don’t know. They’re often triggered by my anxiety (I’m always anxious about everything) getting out of control, often because a plan or a schedule I have set up doesn’t work out or is otherwise changed. I know it’s going to happen before it does, usually. I can feel myself start to fall apart. There’s a pressure in the back of my head a lot of the time, or I just get really tense. If I can, I go to bed when this happens, to quarantine myself, and because when I sleep it’s normally gone after. That’s not always an option. Sometimes I try to read, to refocus. This doesn’t always work, but sometimes it helps me hold off until I can go to sleep.

When it happens, I lose a lot of control. I shiver and shake. I often can’t talk. I repeat words and phrases over and over again when I try. Some common ones are “I’m sorry,” or “I’m awful,” or “No,” or “I can’t.” I can sing though, and I often sing songs about how happy everyone will be when I’m dead and how much I deserve it. If I can talk, I am normally constantly mumbling about my many imagined slights against the world and my own uselessness. I twitch my hands constantly, contort them hard, kind of painfully, because it makes me feel like I have some control. If I’m hiding a hand behind my back, I am probably doing this. I cry over nothing, so hard that I can’t breathe, and panic even more. I often try to bash my head against the wall out of some strange belief that this will make me calm down. I succeed more than I should, especially when I think I won’t get caught. It doesn’t normally calm me down for more than a few seconds. I’m kind of glad that’s all I do, because I’m sure if I didn’t have a fear of knives I’d probably do worse.

My life is a lot better than it used to be. This used to happen almost nightly, and I’d lock myself in my room and just shiver and cry. Nowadays, I’d put it at maybe once every two weeks? But sometimes I have little chain combos of several nights in a row, when life is hard, and I’ll often have close calls, where I feel it happening, but manage to calm down in time.

There’s not a lot my boyfriend can do when this is going on. He tries. He puts up with a lot, and I owe him a lot. I do a lot better because he is there, and I have something to focus on, and he has basically figured out when I am going to have problems and will just tell me I should go to bed before things happen. He’s often notices me mumbling, or my breathing messing up, before I do. I can’t believe he puts up with this, but he does. It means more to me than I know.

When I’m around people, I hide this. Even if I am having a bad day, I bury it, most of the time. I can’t let myself be seen out of it. I want to be someone who is not a burden. This stuff will make my friends sad. It will make them upset. I have to keep it together around them, so they don’t know. I have no problem acting. I will be panicking, be around someone and seem perfectly fine for hours, but the moment I’m alone again, I will go right back to panic. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe that’s a really bad sign that I can do that, and hide everything so easily.

But I need to be honest. I need to be honest about my problems.

I’m not really okay. Not as often as I should be. It’s not all the time, and I stopped it from controlling all of my life a long time ago, and that’s why I’m here today. But I’m not okay a lot of the time. I wanted you to know. You’re my friends. I love you.

I’m not going to give up, and I have wonderful people here in person to support me. You don’t need to worry about me, I promise. But I just wanted to remove one more mask that I used to need to survive, but does me no good now. One more coping mechanism that has persisted, but probably has no place in the life I’m trying to build. I hope that’s okay.

Again, I love you. Thanks for listening and caring about me. It means more to me than I can say.

Feb 25

Those Who Came Before: Transistor and Community

In a lot of ways, games are power fantasies. Okay, okay, not all games, but many of them hinge on that sort of power trip. It’s you, the player, who are the center, who the world revolves around. It’s you, by your own power, who solves the problem and saves the day. There’s a real joy in that, too. But it’s often losing sight of how these things really work. Behind every hero of any type, there is an almost indescribable amount of support and help. For every leader, there’s a script writer, or a team of advisors, for example. Games don’t often represent that very well. There’s often a network of other characters represented, whether in your party or in the world, and perhaps they give you quests, but in the end, it’s the character’s strength that gets them through. You get the feeling that even without them being around, this hero would succeed, and even if that wasn’t the case, if the boss wouldn’t be beaten without the other party members, it’s still the hero giving the orders and calling the shots. It’s their victory.

In Transistor, it’s the social connection to those who came before and those we know that forms the backbone of true power. Transistor represents this in its mechanics, art, and music the entire way through, and in doing so it creates a hero in Red that feels real. Or at least as real as a lady with a magic cybersword with her boyfriend in it can feel. And that means something, at least to me.

Transistor’s mechanics and combat are based upon functions. These functions are all tied to someone, some character from the past or present. Some of these characters Red knows, like her lover, but many of them she does not. It doesn’t matter. She gathers power from all of them, and it is because of these people, and what they represent, that she succeeds.

Alone, Red only has Crash(). Crash() is fine. A useful tool. But with just Crash(), battles would be much harder to downright impossible. So she gets help. Bounce() from her lover. Spark() from Lillian Platt. And so on and so forth. And as she learns the other ways their influence can help her, equipped in different slots, she learns more about them. What they did and why they are important open up to her, and she understands.

We’re all built up like this. I am the product of many influences. There is a strength that is uniquely my own, but many of my good qualities come from those around me and those who came before me. It’s easy to know how those people who are close to me, my family and friends, have affected me. It’s clear how they help me everyday and inspire me. But I am helped as well by those in the past, who fought for things I now take for granted. An author I never read touches an author I did, and my life enriched. Someone fighting against oppression before my time has influence that still makes my life better, whether I know it or not. It’s only as I learn about how much they’ve done for me that I even know they exist. And even those I don’t know have done so much for me, I can’t even say. If I have any power, it’s from them. And it’s this kind of structure that gives Red her power in the game.

The entire world of Transistor is built around this. Cloudbank is a city that is powered by the thoughts and actions of its citizens. Everything, from the structure of the city to the weather, is done, in theory, together. It’s an impressive power, this lineage. You see no other people in the game besides the villains, but Red is never alone. Red walks with this strength of those behind her. She doesn’t wield the Transistor. It drags behind her, doing the best impression of walking hand in hand with her that a sword can manage. It’s teamwork, through and through.

The Camerata, of course, figures they can control that power and that lineage, and use it for what they want. Royce doesn’t walk hand in hand with what the Transistor represents. He holds it like a sword. He uses it as a weapon. But the Camerata fail, even before Red is in the picture, and they fail because they trusted in their own power, and theirs alone. They were alone, and thus, they were powerless. Red, even with her voice gone, makes change happen because she is not alone. It’s really wonderful.

In the end, Red could take full control of Cloudbank. It would be easy. But she doesn’t, because it’s not her power. It belongs to everyone. And in the end, she joins everyone, and adds her power to the multitude of voices in the Transistor and in Cloudbank. She leaves the flaws and the problems just as they are, and it’s from those flaws that people will continue to grow.

Red is a hero who is not a chosen one. She doesn’t have some special thing about her that makes her the only person who can save Cloudbank. But what she does have is a trust in those who fought before her, and still fight, through the echos of their actions. That is a power way better than her own personal strength. “We All Become One,” the song goes. Our actions, our struggles, combine to create something greater than us. Transistor is about that, and that celebration of community is a welcome sight.

Feb 14

The Showroom: Relationships and Robotics

Happy Valentine’s Day! Perhaps you’d like a book about romances and relationships. It’s been a long time coming. There were a lot of setbacks, mostly emotional, but it’s done, and here it is.

The Showroom: Relationships and Robotics

Welcome to The Showroom.

The Showroom was my first long-length writing project. It started from nothing. I was trying to write something sexy and throwaway and it quickly became a completely different beast that was still obsessed with sex and romance, but was something more, in my opinion. It became this study on relationships, and how we connect to and interact with people. It became an exploration on how we create friendships, boyfriends, girlfriends, and everything in between. It became this look at a city, and the connections that link people, and The Showroom, which threw them all into turmoil. It’s a collection of short stories (well, one of them is more like a novella) that builds a world by slowly pulling back curtains and illuminating corners.

Perhaps that’s a little too dramatic. But that’s what The Showroom is about, to me. I hope you see something in it like that. The book has some sex scenes, but not as many as you’d expect. Still, it’s dealing with mature stuff, so keep that in mind.

You can buy The Showroom here. It’s $5. And if you’re reading this quickly, I put my novella project, A Shuffled Pack, out there for a dollar on sale starting Monday. If you do take a look at these, I hope you enjoy them, and let me know what you think. It would also be useful if you’d review them on Amazon. Then more random people might give them a chance.

Thank you for taking a look!

Jan 2

Here Are The Books I Read In 2014

Hey, here again are the books I read last year, along with some short descriptions of what I thought. If you are one to think I have even a vague good taste, maybe this’ll be good to look at? WHO KNOWS. Anyway, 31 books in a year! I guess that’s a thing I did! Whee!

January (2)

    Sorcery and Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede

(I started the year out with just a fantastic and fun novel. Some great, strong characters, and a just plain fun story. The whole thing is told through letters, and while that could be a really horrible gimmick, the book really makes it work. Apparently they wrote the novel actually sending letters to each other, with each of them roleplaying one main character, which kinda rules. But yeah, just a lot of fun. Don’t be shocked when the next two books on the list are the other two in the series.)

    The Grand Tour: or the Purloined Coronation Regalia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

(A fitting and enjoyable sequel. They had to get rid of the whole letter gimmick, in a way, but it was actually nicer to see the two main characters interact much more directly, so I minded not at all. Just a fun little story, seriously.)

February (4)

    The Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years Later by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

(Another wonderful book! And now the series is over. Aww. Apparently it seems this one was written second even though it takes place last in chronological order? And the ebooks I bought were ordered chronologically but I guess that was not how they were written. Eh, it worked either way. Anyway, this is a great series, with super-fantastic characters, and you should read it. That is all.)

    Goldfinger by Ian Fleming

(A book about James Bond’s fight against misandry and the idea that a woman might not be attracted to him. But luckily, Fleming has his back, and Bond gets to fuck the super cool lesbian gang leader anyway, because Bond has to get everything he wants, because he’s a man, right? Right. Uh, anyway, another Bond book, basically.)

    Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino

(This book is the best book. I wrote about why it is over here. But yeah, man, I would overwhelmingly recommend this to anyone. So fantastic.)

    Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson

(I think I bought this at some point because it was a dollar? I dunno. I would not call this book good. But it was kinda pointless fun popcorn fare and I wanted to read something meaningless in a fun way. I didn’t hate it. I wouldn’t recommend it. It just kinda stops at a place that makes no sense and says “BUY ANOTHER BOOK!” but the other books are not a dollar! So. Guess I’ll never know what happens! (Spoilers: probably sex with a cat))

March (4)

    Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

(Hey, look, it’s the other series by my new favorite author! This one is more YA, so it’s less steamy, and it’s a lot more fun times and less drama, but it’s still a fantastic read, and has some of the best-executed fanservice-y cameo type deals I have ever seen, so that’s pretty awesome.)

    Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

(Even more fun! I rather like Sophronia. Carriger is so damn good at this stuff. So much fun, for serious. It’s definitely got more of a YA bent than the Parasol Protectorate, but it continues to be fantastic.)

    Butch Fatale, Dyke Dick – Double D Double Cross by Christa Faust

(Oh man. Boyfriend linked me this and said “just read the sample, trust me” and before I knew it I had bought it and read it and it is just so much fun. Over the top from beginning to end. Just serious fun.)

    Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show by John Hench with Peggy Van Pelt

(Yeah, I’m still obsessed with this stuff. Basically a kind of “Imagineering Philosophy” book. Most of it I had learned about in bits and pieces elsewhere, but it’s kinda cool to have it all there, in one document. Really makes me think about the stumbles and successes of the parks throughout the years, and how most of them could be considered refusals to use these ideas, or at least the misapplication of them. But I dunno, I think way too much about this stuff in general.)

April (1)

    The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart

(Another wonderful book. Silly, exciting, and extremely enjoyable to read. One more to go, but if the last book is as fun at the first two, I expect myself to be very entertained when I get around to it.)

May (2)

    Chrono Trigger by Michael P. Williams

(The first of the Boss Fight Books thing, Earthbound, was this horrible disappointment to me that barely talked about the game at all and used such quality sources as TV Tropes when it did. So I was worried I’d hate this one too. But no, this one actually did some analysis and stuff! I could imagine a version of the book that was better, and perhaps deeper, but it was an interesting read, and I certainly learned things I didn’t know, and thought about the game in new ways. That’s all I can ask for.)

    The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely

(I think I bought this for a dollar in a Kindle sale at some point. It was pretty interestingly put together. Very approachable. Gives you some stuff to think about. Not really a “self help” book but more a book sharing some interesting social science stuff. Almost all the examples seemed to be about a man dealing with a woman, though, which eventually got tiring when it got to a damsel in distress scenario and I’m like “Come on now, book. At least pretend to mix things up.” But yeah, can’t complain that much. Not a must read, but I enjoyed it.)

June (3)

    Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

(Mary Roach is the best nonfiction author. I love her to death. She’s willing to ask all the questions people want to ask but are too embarrassed to. She’s always a joy to read, even if she’s making you a bit squeamish. Another extremely engaging book by her. I need to get around to reading all her stuff.)

    ZZT by Anna Anthropy

(Another Bossfightbook, this one is very well put together. It’s a strange portrait of a game I knew nothing about and the people wrapped around that game. It’s a dive into an old internet community. I enjoyed it. I think it hit the “personal experience” side way better than Earthbound, which felt masturbatory, whereas her personal experiences helped shed light on why this thing was so important. Then again, I clearly connect with her past a bit more, so maybe that’s all it was.)

    Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers

(Another part of a pointless reading quest I’ve embarked on. Someday I will complete all my reading quests and wonder why I started them at all. Anyway, it’s more Mary Poppins, only now I know she is literally so powerful that the planets themselves bow down to her and the seasons don’t change without her. She is literally a god. All hail Mary Poppins, lest she smite you down with her bird umbrella!)

July (0)

August (5)

    Shadow Magic by Patricia C. Wrede

(Checking up on the books that my literary hero when I was real small wrote. This book is alright? I don’t read a lot of pure fantasy, and I felt a bit overwhelmed by seeing fantasy jargon again, but I feel that’s my problem, not the book’s. The romance seemed a bit forced, too. But eh, it was fun enough.)

    “The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar” by Gail Carriger

(This isn’t a novel, just a short story, so I’m not going to count it, but I wanted to talk about it, so there. If I were to create a dream story starring Sandy, there would be way more smooching in it, but this is a fun look into his life for fans and will mean absolutely nothing to anyone else.)

    Galaga by Michael Kimball

(Well, this book is terrible. It has this horrible format with a ton of little one paragraph chapters that just jump about. Many chapters lie to you. Many chapters are lists of things the author saw on Google Images. It just… no, don’t read this.)

    The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

(I’m just kind of impressed that he keeps making sequels to books that don’t need sequels. I feel like a lot of this was a LITTLE forced. There was a bit of retcon feeling in there. But dammit, I love these characters so much it didn’t really matter and I really enjoyed it nonetheless. If you’ve read the last two, you’ll love it like I did.)

    Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones

(I think I got this in a random sale? I don’t know. In any case, a fun read. Very different from the film that I saw like a long time ago. I don’t know if I have a lot to say about it, though. It kind of just flowed over me, for better or worse.)

    The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

(Some things sort of rushed, some things kind of forced, but a really fun little read with some really fun ideas about how magic works in that world. A good time.)

September (4)

    Shotguns v Cthulhu edited by Robin D Laws

(I feel like I’m not much of a horror person, and so some of these stories fell flat for me. There was a lot of really fun stories in here though, and pretty well all of them were really well written. It’s probably worth your time if you like more action-oriented horror writing.)

    Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf

(Really, really fun time all around. Quite different from the movie in a way that almost makes the whodunit way way better. A lot of weird race issue sorta things in here though that I didn’t know what to make of. Probably part of trying to ape a style and a time, but man, it was REALLY going for it. I dunno.)

    Jagged Alliance 2 by Darius Kazemi

(Fantastic criticism from an historical perspective. The best Boss Fight Book yet, or at least tied with ZZT. Didn’t appreciate his pointless jab at Killing is Harmless and Reader-Response Crit, though. Reader-Response is my jam. But a fantastic book regardless.)

    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

(At first, the book is overwrought. It feels like a very fun idea given too much intensity, treated as something much more important than it is. But by the end, none of that matters. You are wrapped up, and it is lovely. I’m sure, once the moment of the end has past, I’ll pick at it. But it’s a lovely book, and a lovely read, and I am extremely happy to have read it. Thanks to shivam for suggesting it a long time ago.)

October (0)

November (6)

    For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming

(I feel like Bond short stories are worse than the novels because it has all the stuff I rant about being frustrated by, like how he complains constantly about his extremely affluent lifestyle and his feelings about women, front and center in every intro, and there’s little other stuff to make up for it.)

    The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Novel by Colleen Gleason

(I think I’m training Amazon pretty well, because it keeps suggesting interesting things. The general conceit of the novel could have fallen flat on its face, as a gimmick, and at first it feels that way, but as the story progresses the characters find life, and I was pretty hooked. I especially liked how the book treated men as sexualized figures for the leads in a realistic way, especially in a YA context like this. Was nice to see. Will certainly read the sequel.)

    Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

(I care about these characters and this world SO MUCH. SO MUCH. SO, SO MUCH. SO MUCH IT HURTS. The fact that this ends in the middle of things is frustrating because of this. But it’s a wonderful read.)

    The Spiritglass Charade: A Stoker and Holmes Novel by Colleen Gleason

(Goodness, did it really have to retread things very clearly established in the first book? Was I really expected to have forgotten like… every single thing that happened in book one? I mean, come on. It is quite fun, though. I enjoyed it.)

    Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

(I saw a lot of a past me in this narrator. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. It does that wonderful thing I envy where the book is about very little as far as plot is concerned, but is really about a lot. It feels significant, but if prompted to explain where the action comes from, it’s hard to explain. This is a book you should read.)

    Super Mario Bros. 2 by Jon Irwin

(The final Boss Fight Book of season one. It was alright. Certainly some interesting info gained from some interviews, though it lost focus near the end. But all that doesn’t matter. The author disrespected Birdetta by misgendering her, so I hate the book. (It’s honestly fine, but that was annoying.))

December (0)

Here’s to another year of me devouring books whenever I’m nervous yaaaaaaaay.

Dec 28

Here’s Some Other 2014 Games I Wanted To Talk About.

When I make a top ten list, I feel like it should be things I finished and came out this year or whatever? And it’s hard to make a list.

Anyway, here’s some other games from this year (or that I played this year, anyway) that I felt I needed to say a thing about.

South Park: The Stick of Truth
Can I just say that I don’t like that this is here, really? Like, South Park has done some REALLY GROSS SHIT. The game itself does some things that I don’t appreciate as well. Thanks for bringing up that dolphin episode in a throwaway joke, assholes. Yet at the same time, Kenny gets to be a Princess and everyone just kind of… goes with it? It’s a really confusing thing. I have confusing feelings about the game.
But let’s just be clear: the game is REALLY FUNNY when it isn’t trying to shock you. The combat is a fantastic version of Mario RPG and a lot of fun to play. And also you eventually get to the point where your character (who has to be male for like… absolutely no reason) can crossdress and fire pink heart arrows and nobody cares, and it’s kind of great. It’s great, and it’s awful. I had a really good time with it.

Mario Golf: World Tour
This is a really solid Mario Golf release. I love Mario Golf a lot. But man, the lack of a compelling single player RPG mode just really drains a lot of the fun out of the game, you know? The online tournaments are really welcome, but that just doesn’t do much for me. I’m not one for a lot of competition with others. Solid, but just… thinking of what could be, it’s sort of sad.

Murdered: Soul Suspect
This game is better than it probably should be. It’s charming, and though the hide and run gameplay is often kind of annoying, the mystery and elements like that are top notch and fun. It’s almost a shame there won’t be some sort of sequel, because I bet they’d nail it with another go around. Still, totally worth playing if you like mysteries. Pick it up on a sale.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F
Originally I was all like “Ha ha, Hatsune Miku, how silly, how can people be obsessed with her and all this stuff!” and then I kept kind of digging into it to try to find the appeal and at some point this kind of spiteful research turned into a respect and a like, and then I got this game for cheap and played it, and OH MAN. It’s honestly a lot of fun playing dressup with the vocaloids and the songs are really charming! It’s really cute! I… quite like Hatsune Miku. Gotta play the second one. It’s on it’s way, actually.

Divinity: Dragon Commander
This isn’t from this year, but OH MAN did I love this game. Like, it would have been very high on my list if it was from this year. There’s some RTS stuff? Just put it on easy, that stuff is pointless. The real fun is that it’s this ruler simulator where you have to make all these political decisions that connect to the world today. It makes you kind of understand why it is not so easy to enact those things you want to enact. I really liked all the characters, and all the diplomacy. It was SO AWESOME. Get this for like 5 bucks.

Marvel Puzzle Quest

I am so addicted to this because the gameplay is so casual and fun and well-put together and I play it EVERY SINGLE DAY since I put it on my phone and I really wish it wasn’t so GROSS with how it treats real money transactions so I could recommend it. Don’t play Marvel Puzzle Quest. But if you do, let me know, because I’ll talk your ear off about it.

Broken Age (Part 1)
REALLY WANT PART 2. Part 1 is really charming and a really fun time and all the quality one would expect from Double Fine in their element. It’s really good stuff. But I mean, I want to see it all pay off, so I hesitate to toot its horn too much. Part 2 could fall apart. I sure hope not, though.

The Fall
GREAT STORYTELLING and a fun little time. It’s short. It’s clearly not complete. But what’s there sure makes one want to keep going. I sure as heck going to buy the sequels and whatnot.

Okay, there, that’s that. I’m sure I’ll copy over my book list sometime near the beginning of the year? So maybe look forward to that. But yeah, overall, 2014 sucked, good riddance, let’s hope 2015 is better, yeah?

Dec 27

Can I Make a Top Ten List for 2014? Apparently So.

Hi poor, neglected blog. I thought I’d try to make a top ten games of 2014.
Can I name 10 games that came out this year that I liked and finished? Apparently I can name 16. So let’s try to make a list, I guess. I’ll do it like I used to. I’ll do some runners up tomorrow, and a top ten today. How about that?

Okay, here’s my top 10 games of 2014 then, I guess.

1. Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
The first one was awesome too, but had… problems. Which I’ll talk about later. But man, the whole series is just MADE for me. Seriously. Completely. Dangan Ronpa 2 had some of the best characters I’ve interacted with in a video game in a long time, and I just love the detective gameplay. I really, truly do. The game also does its best to subvert and play with all the expectations you had from playing the first game, and does so masterfully. Just… a game people should play. Yeah.

2. Nidhogg
I didn’t play as much of this as I wanted, but every time I boot it up to fence someone, I’m blown away, again, by how fantastic of a game it is. It’s so well balanced and so well put together. It’s tense, it’s fast-paced, and it honestly isn’t that hard to get the hang of on a basic level. But it has depth, that depth that comes from needing to parry and fake out your opponent, that keeps one coming back again and again. I will play someone in Nidhogg ANY TIME. It is SUPER GREAT.

3. Freedom Planet
Sometimes I back “furry” kickstarters on a whim, because I want to, I dunno, support my sort of animal people? I don’t know. I can’t remember why I backed Freedom Planet, but I remember looking at some of the updates, and asking myself why I did, and feeling embarrassed.
Then it came out, and I couldn’t stop playing it.
Freedom Planet is not perfect, but it nails that sense of speed that Sonic tries for, and often fails at, and unlike Sonic, I always felt like I was in control. The game is just FUN, and I actually attempted a speedrun at it because I wanted an excuse to keep playing. Let me repeat that. I practiced a little at speedrunning this game because I liked it so much. I’m not much for the story, perse, though I appreciate it’s GAY AS HECK, but even if you skip all the story, it oozes charm, and it’s something I feel like you really should play if you have even the vaguest fondness for Sonic, or just want a good platformer.

4. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

A way better Ace Attorney game than Dual Destinies, it was saddled with a lot of the Layton series’ ridiculousness in a bad way with a twist that kind of undermines a lot. But man, the witch trials are SO MUCH FUN in this. It’s great taking what you know from Phoenix Wright games and suddenly being without common tools, where you have to prove something without basic forensic information like fingerprinting. It wasn’t really more of a challenge, but it felt like it. There is some gender ick in here, but I feel like it’s extremely minor, as unlike a lot of these sorts of situations, the logic the game gives you makes PERFECT sense in the world of the story without being gross. But it would still be better if it weren’t there at all, you know? In any case, I really enjoyed it.

5. Transistor
What a beautiful game, from the gameplay to the story. I feel like I’m in the minority, but I really like the story elements of the game. I like the mystery, and how everyone in the game KNOWS what’s going on, so they don’t pointlessly spew exposition. That made my writer brain happy. I liked that to understand things, I had to connect more with the mechanics. And boy, what mechanics they were. Much like Bastion before it, there are so many ways to fight in Transistor, and you’ll find a combo that feels broken, and be shocked when you move to another combination that feels equally broken. AND THE SOUNDTRACK. Oh man.

6. Shovel Knight

As I’ve already said earlier, the best “retro” or “callback” games feel like it used to, but are actually way better, and smooth the issues your nostalgia forgot about. Shovel Knight does this perfectly. The difficulty is really well balanced, with the items you can use or not, and the checkpoints you can destroy or not, and it just has a lot of charm without being “meme-y” or something of that nature. The enemy knights you fight, like Mega Man bosses, just ooze charm. It’s a really fun time.

7. Jackbox Party Pack
IT’S MORE YOU DON’T KNOW JACK. And more fun games! What is there not to like! This isn’t higher, because I just don’t play this kind of stuff as much as I used to. It’s sad. But this is a REALLY quality release, and something everyone can enjoy. Using the phones is just a genius way to let many, many people play, too. It is very much worth your money.

8. Dangan Ronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
I really do love this game, but a lot of the second class trial just leaves a lot of bad taste in one’s mouth. It’s not SUPER bad? It’s not Dual Destinies bad. But it’s still not handled super well. That said, though, it’s a great game, just like the sequel. It’s so good, and it is worth playing. The characters are still fun (though 2 really tops all of them, I think) and it’s just quite a mystery. Also, it’s really necessary to play 2, and 2 is REALLY GOOD. So.

9. Kirby Triple Deluxe
You know what still fills me with joy? A Kirby game. I never finished Return to Dreamland. I wanted to co-op it, but people get busy, and it didn’t really drag me in. This, as a single player thing, using some of the stuff in Return to Dreamland and cutting what didn’t work, was a joy. Hypernova made for much more fun scenarios and puzzles than anything I saw from the “Supercharged” weapons in Return to Dreamland. It was also fun to see the developers really playing with perspective and stuff, since they could. It’s a Kirby game. You know what you’re getting. I love Kirby. It’s all I wanted.

10. Dominique Pamplemousse in “It’s All Over Once The Fat Lady Sings!”
Look, okay, there is just so much LOVE put into this game. SO MUCH LOVE. It just oozes love, and fun, and happiness, and it makes me very happy to play. Someone set out to make this thing alone, a musical adventure game, and it’s just… it’s really charming. The singing could perhaps use a little coaching. But that’s kind of why it’s so charming to me.

Yeah, so… I guess I played a lot of stuff this year? I didn’t really think I had, but I showed me.

Oct 13

Here Is Why Bayonetta, As A Character, Rules.

In order to get it out of my head, I would like to tell you why I love Bayonetta as a character.

In video games, sexualization often exists without a story purpose. It is a marketing tool. It’s designed to draw you in and make you interested in someone who, perhaps, is not a deep enough character to deserve it. It’s a way to put some cheesecake on a game box and drag in just one more lusty teen.

I don’t personally believe that Bayonetta’s design is about that. Most sexualization for it’s own sake dis-empowers. It turns people into objects. But Bayonetta would not be herself without it. And that is why, at least in some ways, Bayonetta makes me jealous. I want to be like her. And in the game, I get to be here, and it feels fantastic.

In society, flaunting your sexuality as a woman is a dangerous move. It draws unwanted attention. There are leers and catcalls and who knows what else. Most female characters who wield their sexuality openly are eventually punished for it. The femme fatale’s wiles fail at an important moment, requiring a rescue. Or, perhaps, the heroine is targeted purely because of their sex appeal, more than anything else. Consider the controversy around the attempted rape in Tomb Raider for example. Lara was obviously a threat. She’d killed tons of people by that point. But no, it was her sexuality that was her weak point. There’s where she got in trouble.

At the same time, it is AWESOME to feel sexy. It’s great. Your self-confidence skyrockets. You can take on the world when you feel like you’re looking fantastic and everyone knows it. We’ve all felt that. We want to feel that regularly. The problem is, in reality, that sometimes comes with drawbacks.

Bayonetta has those drawbacks, but she could not even care. She does not have a love interest. (You could argue Luka, but no. He’s just fun to toy with.) There is no target for her sexuality. She looks hot as hell and she’s doing it because of the confidence that gives her. And as a witch, she can back that confidence up. She can summon demons. She can ice skate pirouette angels into a pile of goo. Every action she takes is full of strength, and power, and no fear. She has no fear. She is feminine and sexy and she has no fears because of it. And that makes me jealous.

An argument could be made that, because the camera shows her off so much, and because she often does things towards the camera, that her sexuality is for the player. She is seducing someone, and that is you, with the controller. I understand that, and you could probably make a good case for it. Personally, I think she’s doing that to make the player uncomfortable.

You see, the male gaze assumes a woman is for the viewer. That’s how male gaze works. But Bayonetta is over the top. She’s constantly losing clothing and poledancing and tying angels up and making them cum until they explode. This is not how someone designed to be lusted after acts, because one moment she’s enticing you, and the next she’s making it clear that you could never, ever be enough for her, and she is not interested. Or if she is, she’s going to destroy you and toss you away after that. Most guys I have talked about this game with, even if they like it, were, at the very least, borderline uncomfortable watching all this. That’s the point. You want sexy? Here’s so much it turns the mirror around on you, and makes you wonder why that’s what you were expecting. That’s what the game says. And by making it clear that Bayonetta does not need your approval or your lust, she breaks through that male gaze, at least for a moment.

The plot of the first game backs this up to some extent, as well. While most of the plot deals with Bayonetta’s past, a lot of it is her trying to learn to accept help, and accepting the idea that she can have friends. She wants to push people away, for the majority of the story. Isn’t how she’s dressing designed to do that?

In any case, there are many readings, of course. But I love Bayonetta as a character. Every new torture move in the first game had me cheering. Hell, I started wearing glasses again, because I say Bayonetta, and I wanted to be like that, a little bit. I love her as a character. I can’t wait to play the second game.

Apr 21

A Shuffled Pack: A Ramble

Last September or October or so, my friend Andy suggested a bunch of us on a forum write a book of horror short stories, just for fun. Now, I knew and still know very little about horror, but I wanted to join in. It sounded fun. I had no idea what to write for horror, however. I wrote a weird story about depression. It’s okay, for what it is, though not horrific or anything. Then, in a conversation, I basically got dared to write a furry horror story. So I did. And I was really happy with it. And people seemed to like it, even non-furries, who said things like “Wow, I think I understand the furry thing now” which is a weird thing to hear, I guess, especially considering it was kind of a failing and non-functioning version of it.

I hadn’t written anything in basically forever. But it felt really good to write that story, and I took some time to analyze why. I had picked reading back up recently, as a sort of calming focus to keep me from panicking. I hadn’t read anything in years, really. Reading still felt like work from my school days. But suddenly, I started reading fun things, and having a good time, and I read tons of books. I realized, while I was writing that weird furry horror story, that the same thing was true for my writing. Writing felt like work: I was putting a huge pressure on myself to write High Art, something with tons of depth. But was that what I was reading? No. Occasionally, perhaps, but mostly I was reading fun things, silly things, even sometimes sexy things. I was just reading what I wanted to read. Why couldn’t I just write what I wanted to write?

So that’s exactly what I’ve done. Since then I’ve written a lot of things. Sexy stories, novellas, short stories, and even a novel. I keep plugging away at things, editing, and modifying, but basically, I keep writing. I write what I want to see. It’s been a lot of fun.

One of my first complete successes was a story about a detective who was a dog having issues with being queer and trying to save her family. I liked it. Could I see flaws in it? Maybe. But I fiddled with it, and fiddled with it, until I liked it. And then it sat there, waiting for me to have the courage to do something with it.

I finally found the courage.
A Shuffled Pack

(Look at that awesome cover art that my friend ikks did for me! Oh man!)

A Shuffled Pack is not High Art. It’s probably not going to make you question your life or anything. But it was a blast to write, and, I hope, a blast to read. It’s got romance, some guns are shot, and there is probably more talk about heat cycles than there should be. But it’s my little novella, and I’m glad I did something with it, even if it only sells four copies or something. At least I put myself out there.

It takes a weird kind of courage to assume the ridiculous shit you like, or worse, make, is something someone else will care about. I’m glad I found that courage, even if everyone hates it. I really am glad.

If you want to buy A Shuffled Pack, you can click here. Thank you for your time.

Dec 31

Here Are The Books I Read In 2013

Over on Talking Time, I did something I hadn’t really done before: I kept track of everything I read, and wrote little blurbs about what I thought every time I finished one. I figured I’d transfer it over here for safekeeping. So here’s all 46 books I read in 2013, and a little something about what I thought about them. Enjoy.

January (1)

    Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

(A… comedy? It was a strange little story. I stayed engaged the whole way through, but it didn’t totally rock my world.)

February (2)

    Hamlet’s Hit Points by Robin D. Laws

(A gift from the boyfriend, it’s a really interesting look at Tabletop roleplaying through an actor’s eyes, using acting-based analysis to offer tips on proper DMing.)

    A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

(I had like 5 students write about Lemony Snicket last semester, so I felt I needed to investigate. I would have loved these as a kid, if this is any indication. If they were cheaper to grab on my kindle, I’d probably devour the whole series. Just simple fun children’s lit, with a really strong female lead, which I appreciate.)

March (2)

    The Yoga Stripper: A Las Vegas Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Namaste by Laila Lucent

(I read a snippet on a website, and I love a good naughty memoir, but the writing teacher in me ruined a lot of this. I hated how it was laid out and jumped around constantly. But it wasn’t bad, perse. Just… rough.)

    Here’s Looking At Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math by Alex Bellos

(Completely amazing. Math written about by a dual major Math/English dude, it explains Math in a way that will get you excited about it, especially if you still have some math knowledge lingering.)

April (10)

    Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

(I love Fleming. He is so amazingly sexist and racist. I laughed the whole way through Casino Royale, and I did even harder in this one. It’s just amazing that someone once thought it was okay to write this way. How times have changed.)

    Needle in the Groove by Jeff Noon

(Jeff Noon is one of my literary heroes. In this book, he’s writing a novel, but it’s kinda poetry, but it’s kinda song lyrics? I thought it was a failure, in the beginning, but by the end, I was totally into his experimentation here. If you like his work, a must read. If you’re interested in him, start with Vurt.)

    The Key to the Kingdom by Jeff Dixon

(So terrible. So bad. And in such an unbelievable way. The book forgets its own plot points, has the dumbest hero I have ever experienced, and the “dramatic ending” is just so fucking off the rails I could barely breathe from laughing. It’s amazing to me that this book is like… well reviewed. Wow.)

    Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith

(Like, the entire time I was reading this book, I felt like I was becoming more anxious sort of sympathetically? I know how it feels to be really nervous and crazy, and this captures a lot of that perfectly. Wasn’t so much humorous as the descriptions claim, though. It was alright. No complaints.)

    Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

(It’s sort of attempting to be a murder mystery with a strange perspective, one of a character with dementia, but really it ends up just being kinda depressing. What draws you in is trying to understand the characters, less than the mystery aspect. They are some well-made characters.)

    Moonraker by Ian Fleming

(I want to give Fleming an award for “Most Improved Over Previous Novel.” Casino Royale was ridiculous because Bond did nothing but eat fancy food and get lovesick. Live and Let Die was ridiculous because AMAZING CONSTANT RACISM. This was… an alright little book. Not great, but a fine read. Good job, Fleming! I look forward to seeing if you go off the rails again.)

    How To Succeed At Aging Without Really Dying by Lyla Blake Ward

(Man, I picked this up as it seemed like an interesting little book of essays, but it was so weird. The first part was like… something such as “Have you noticed bubble packaging is hard to open?” for 4 pages, and then would end with a really painfully not good pun, and this coming from someone who likes most puns. Later, the essays got more essay-like, and were better, but overall, I wouldn’t recommend this.)

    Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, Etc. by David Sedaris

(I love David Sedaris, and his new book is completely fantastic, as expected. It gets more political at times than he has in the past, and as usual, his fiction, this time in the form of several monologues by characters sprinkled throughout the book, didn’t do much for me, but damn. The man knows how to write a funny essay!)

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

(Randomly inspired to investigate these classic books. Was a quick read, and fun enough. It was interesting to see how it deviated from what I knew of the story. We’ll see how completely strange the rest of the novels get, as I’m sure I’ll slowly work my way through them, knowing me.)

    The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum

(Man, the end of this book. Man, what? I had peeked at a plot summary before I read it, so I knew what was coming, but it was still kind of insane whiplash. Who allows their name and gender to be changed and just goes along with it, even though it wasn’t their will? Glinda, is it really “good” to change someone back who doesn’t wish it? Man, what. Such a strange look at gender politics in this book. I’m betting Ozma of Oz won’t deal with anything I’m having issues with, either. Ozma will probably be a totally different character. Lame!)

May (9)

    Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum

(Well, Ozma wasn’t a different character from Tip, perse, but seriously, no adjustment, no anything is seen, which just saddens me. What she went through at the end of the last book would really mess a person up! Outside of my personal holdups, though, this is more of the same, and I don’t mean that in a bad way, really. This book certainly has some very creepy moments, though. Enjoyable, to be sure.)

    Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line by Brendan Keogh

(I want more long form close readings of games like this, and I want more games to aspire to be worthy of long form close readings like Spec Ops: The Line attempted to do.)

    Escape by Perihan Magden

(Really repetitive, but on purpose. The entire book is clearly supposed to make you feel on edge. And it did! I can’t say I enjoyed it, perse, but I’m glad I read it. It succeeded at putting me in the head of some really messed up people and drowning me in their world.)

    Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum

(The amount of overwhelming in-your-face retconning that happens in this book just feels insulting and stupid. I understand Baum says Oz and such is a “fairy land” and thus he can do whatever he wants, but that doesn’t involve rewriting the past stated in your own books! I lost a lot of respect for him as a writer with this one, basically.)

    Pixel Juice by Jeff Noon

(Collection of short stories. A few in, I realized I had read this before and totally forgot! A few of the best stories stuck in my head, but there were plenty that had totally slipped out. Still, with so many stories tying in to his other novels, this isn’t a place to start for people who haven’t read his stuff.)

    Storm Front by Jim Butcher

(Now everyone can stop telling me to read this book! I always resisted due to connections to exes of various sorts, and it certainly didn’t blow me away [] but I understand why the series has fans, to be sure. The book felt very… over-inflated though. Like it needed to ratchet the danger up EVEN HIGHER constantly, which left it feeling a bit silly to me. But I bet that’s something that’s fixed as the book is no longer a one-off but a series.)

    Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

(I have used Mary Roach’s essays in my classes often, and think she’s awesome, but never dove into her books before this. This book is fantastic, entertaining, and really interesting. I also had to take breaks and was really uncomfortable reading it, not because she did a bad job, but just because of the subject matter! She makes the subject matter interesting and sometimes funny, but it’s still kinda tough to read about some of these things. Still, if you can handle the topic, highly recommended.)

    Naked Came The Stranger by Penelope Ashe

(Oh man. Oh man. This book. Oh man. Written to mock and make fun of horrible, churned out “big money” writing full of terrible sex. A huge number of reporters wrote this in a week, each taking one chapter. It makes no sense, it’s offensive, it’s terribly written, and it was apparently a huge hit. Read this and despair… but in an entertaining way.)

    Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

(My Bond exploration continues with another nice book! I really wonder what happened between Live and Let Die and Moonraker, as that book, and this one, almost seem like they are written by different people. Suspense, actually action… Bond fired his gun for the first time in this one! The action cut away when non-relevant things were going on! Fleming is learning! It’s neat to see.)

June (3)

    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

(You all were talking about it in the “Whatcha’ reading” and I realized I had never read it, and tried it, and HOLY FUCK WHAT A BOOK. What a hilarious and incredibly affecting and gut-wrenching novel. If you were like me and haven’t read this, you HAVE to. You just have to.)

    Air Force Gator by Dan Ryckert

(See, you gotta follow up something so literary and classic with something completely fucking stupid. It’s the only way, clearly.)

    [Citation Needed] 2: The Needening: More of The Best of Wikipedia’s Worst Writing by Josh Fruhlinger and Conor Lastowka

(A cheap, quick look at some really terrible writing and I was once again very entertained. Who wouldn’t be?)

July (2)

    The Disappearing Spoon And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean

(A title so long my Kindle cannot properly display it. This book starts out really slow, if you know your high school chemistry, but then quickly blossoms into awesome stories of scientists and interesting facts about the elements that I certainly didn’t know and found captivating.)

    Falling Out of Cars by Jeff Noon

(Was not expecting a weird post-apocalypse sort of scenario when I started the book, but that’s what I got. I thought the ending was weak, but I’m still in love with Noon’s writing. The narrator, Marlene, really connected with me. I’ve felt lost like that, with nothing to hold onto but words, and those too fading away…)

August (4)

    From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming

(Man, the beginning of this book is bonkers. Like over a third of it is just pointless backstory about people in SMERSH! It’s crazy. Overall, the actually story itself is not TOO bad? Not up to the improvement Fleming’s been having though. Also, dunno what’s up with the CLIFFHANGER ENDING.)

    The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

(Here’s a classic that’s been around my peripheral vision that I got gently pushed into trying, and it was quite nice! This was a weird deluxe edition with a little novella at the end and all kinds of extra material… it was a nice way to experience this story for the first time. Light, breezy, and fun. A good book, though I could poke at it if I really wanted to nitpick. Also, random thought, it’s kinda silly how much past me would think all the extra material (interviews and such) in this book was stupid, and how much current me enjoys it. Times change, I guess.)

    To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

(I’m sure I’ve missed a couple endings, but I’ve given it a thorough read, and it is quite a fun little book, and I am 100% glad I backed it. The end.)

    B^F: The Novelization of the Feature Film by Ryan North

(This came with the previous book! I had started reading that blog but lost track of it! So this was a good reason to just read the whole gosh-darned thing, and it was lovely, and hilarious, and [warm and] wonderful.)

September (6)

    Dr. No by Ian Fleming

(More Bond! It was… alright. This book is clearly where the concept of the crazy Bond supervillian with the evil deathtrap lair comes from. Bond, of course, had horrible sexist thoughts throughout, but the book omitted the scene from the film where Bond basically rapes a lady and laughs about it, so that’s nice.)

    Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

(A friend of mine told me this was his favorite book ever, and I should read it, so I did, and it was cute, and funny, and fun, and lovely, and I would recommend it to basically anybody who likes to read a book.)

    It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Rolly Crump and Jeff Heimbuch

(Yeah, more Disney stuff. I’m still obsessed. Still, it was a pretty neat look behind the curtain of a lot of stuff I love, so I really can’t complain!)

    Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

(Man, this was weird. I really don’t know what to think about it. At the very least, it seemed to have very little thematic connection between the weird little stories that led up to anything. Glad I looked into it, but yeah… huh.)

    Soulless by Gail Carriger

(Oh man, shivam was so right about this book and me. Oh man. I have not read a book this fun and this sexy and this smart in a long time, and I am shocked and VERY pleased that they were somehow all in the same book. So good.)

    Changeless by Gail Carriger

(Yep, more of the same. I am pleased. Ending makes me annoyed in “I love the characters and am invested way” but not in the “I am someone who studies literature and this is not well done” way which I think is about the best way for something like that to be, even if annoyed. I feel for all these characters. That’s awesome.)

October (1)

    Blameless by Gail Carriger

(More fun. More awesome. I have not cared about characters, even fairly minor background characters, this much in a long time. They are fun to read about, and I care when things happen. These books are just completely awesome.)

November (2)

    Heartless by Gail Carriger

(The series continues to be lovely, though less sexy than before! Heh, though for good reason. Onward to the last one.)

    Timeless by Gail Carriger

(And now I’m out of this series, which is bittersweet. I can respect ending when things are done, and it feels pretty done! But I was having so much fun and want more. Oh well, so it goes. Heh. READ THIS SERIES, SERIOUSLY.)

December (4)

    Thy Neighbor’s Wife by Gay Talese

(What a strange book. While sometimes the tone of how it describes sex gets unquestionably hilarious, this is an extremely interesting and person book of history about the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, and I’m very glad I read it. It’s dense and long, but good.)

    Felidae by Akif Pirincci

(That weird German cartoon you may have seen on Youtube is now a book! Well, uh, it’s the book that film was based on. It has an interesting tone in the narration, but wasn’t as divergent from the movie as I expected. I look forward to reading Felidae On The Road sometime.)

    Earthbound by Ken Baumann

(Baumann obviously should have written a memoir instead of trying to force all his memories into video game criticism. The amount this book is not about Earthbound, given it’s title, is ridiculous, and it’s kind of oddly organized besides. In no way recommended, especially if you want to, say, read a book of criticism about Earthbound that approaches that game’s text with any sort of insight or usefulness. I really hope the rest of the Boss Fight Books stuff is like… much much different than this.)

    Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien

(I had always meant to read this book, especially after I saw the movie after some prodding and had many issues with it. As expected, those were totally addressed and not issues in the book, and man, Mrs. Frisby is such a wonderful protagonist. A heroic mother in a realistic way. It’s such a fun book, and I would have loved it as a kid.)

Oct 29

Random Story Clip: A New Pack

I’m just getting this out of my head. Consider it fanfiction for a story I’m writing that’s not done? That makes no sense, but whatever. Anyway, a random story clip.

I heard the door open, and Rex answer the door. I opened the door to my quarters and growled loudly at him as he stood in the doorway.
“Splicers save us, Rex, I fucking told you not to answer the door without clothes on! This is a human building you stupid…!” I yelled as I marched across the living room towards the door. “Pup…” Sam was standing in the hallway, waving.
“Hey, Prince. Uh, who is this?”
“I’m Rex of Prince, and I live here. Who are you? You smell odd.”
I rubbed my eyes. Could this get to be any more of a clusterfuck? Why had I ever let them in here? “Rex, this is Sam, he’s my partner at work, and he is fine. Now fucking listen to me and get out of the doorway until you at least have some pants on.”
Rex’s tail fell between his legs, and he backed off. “Sorry, ma’am.” I pointed to his quarters, and he scurried off.
“Fucking pups,” I grumbled, looking back up to Sam, getting him into the apartment and closing the door. “What’s up?”
“Is that Sam?” Brie said from the kitchen.
“Yeah. Dunno why, though,” I called back.
“Just thought I’d see your new place. Realized I never brought a housewarming gift,” he said, chuckling, holding out a bottle of whiskey.
“Seems more like a gift for you than me,” I said, grinning.
“Yeah, well, gotta have a reason to stop by,” he said, grinning right back. “Rex of Prince, though?”
I lowered my ears a little. “I told them not to say that, but they won’t listen to me.”
Sam found a seat and plopped down in it. “Explain, explain, explain!” he said, grinning at me.
“Will you be here for dinner, Sam?” Brie said, ducking her head in from the kitchen. She had put on an apron for a little cover for Sam’s sake, but that was it.
“Sure, if you’ll have me.”
Brie nodded. “I don’t know if it’ll be to your liking, but you’re welcome to stay.” She moved back into the kitchen, and I sat down across from Sam.
I could hear the door to Buddy and Rex’s quarters creep open so they could try to keep tabs, and I turned in their direction and growled loudly. Then I turned back to Sam. “You really want to hear?”
“I asked, didn’t I?”
I sighed.

About two weeks ago, things were a bit less complicated. Well, they were very complicated, to be honest. I had taken my bitch and run away from the pack, so I wouldn’t have to deal with trying to keep us together in a situation that wouldn’t just let us be. I didn’t really want to, to be honest. Sylvan pack was my family. But they didn’t give me much of a choice. With Sam’s help, I had found an apartment, and Brie and I had started our new, more human lifestyle. It was working out okay, until they showed up.
There had been a knock on our door. We hadn’t really been expecting anyone, of course. None of the other tenants in the building knew what to make of two dogs living on the top floor, and so we weren’t really expecting social calls. Still, I asked the door to wait a moment, got dressed, and opened it.
I found two male dogs waiting for me, who looked like this was probably the first time they had ever put on clothes, though they were decent. The smaller one was hiding behind the bigger one, who looked at me with a worried expression. They weren’t Sylvan, as far as I knew, and I didn’t think I had seen them before. They were both basically pups.
“Can I help you two?” I asked.
“You’re Prince? Used to be from Sylvan den?”
“That’d be me. Who are you?”
“I’m Buddy of Malcom.”
“Rex of Malcom,” said the smaller male behind him.
“We want to join your pack,” Buddy said, though he looked quite nervous when he said it.
I laughed. “What pack? It’s just me and my bitch here. Sylvan den is across town.”
“B-but you left!” Rex said, surprised.
“Is what everyone is saying not true?” Buddy asked. Rex looked up at him, worried.
I frowned. “What is everyone saying?”
“That you left to form a new pack where… where dogs could love each other without duty getting in the way?” Rex said.
“Well, I left to be with my bitch, but I don’t have anything in the way of resources to form my own pack.”
“But you have a den,” Buddy said, “You have one right here.”
“It’s a two bedroom apartment,” I said. “Barely enough room for my bitch and myself.”
“I don’t know what you pups are up to, but you should get home,” I said. “What are you doing?”
Buddy tried to look intimidating. “We’re not leaving. We’re joining your pack.”
“Like fuck you are,” I said, growling. “I can’t take care of a couple of pups. I can barely take care of my bitch to the extent she deserves.”
“We’re staying,” Buddy said. I could tell he was scared of me. I wasn’t sure why he was doing this.
“Leave, now.” I growled.
“N-no!” Rex shouted as Buddy pounced me, knocking me to the floor. I could hear Brie rush in to see what everything was about and cry out in fear as I kicked the male off of me. He was big, and probably a bit stronger, but he sure wasn’t a fighter. He tried to scramble to his feet, but I was on top of him faster than he could get up, pinning his paws and pressing my jaws around his throat. He yelped. “N-no, please, don’t!” Rex yelled at me.
I let up my grip on Buddy’s throat. “You submit, right?”
Buddy nodded, shivering in fear.
“Why the fuck did you do that? You clearly knew you had no chance.”
“Nobody is taking him away from me,” he whimpered.
“What?” I said.
“Nobody is taking my bitch away from me!” he barked, getting a second wind, but while he put on a fierce face, he didn’t fight back.
I looked at him for a moment, then to Rex, and back to him. I stood back up on two paws, brushing myself off. “Well, I guess it makes sense there’d be males in a similar predicament, but it never crossed my mind,” I said. Brie came over and I licked her cheek. “I’m fine. He’s nothing.”
Brie nodded. “Just had to make sure.”
Buddy stood up, and Rex came over to him. Buddy gave him a hug.
I sighed. “Fine, but you two cannot be dead weight. I can’t support you. You can stay here until you figure out a good way to live on your own, okay?”
“You’re serious…?” Rex asked, worried.
I turned to Brie. “I’m assuming you don’t mind looking after these pups while I’m at work. Am I right?”
Brie smiled. “It’ll be nice to not be alone all the time, though I agree, our finances can’t support them.”
“Alright. Then yes, Rex, I am serious. Don’t make me regret it.”
The males let out a sigh of relief, and then happy yips, hugging and licking each other. I rolled my eyes.

“And since then they’ve been treating me like alpha,” I growled, annoyed. “I’m not alpha material.”
“Says you,” Sam says, grinning. “You have a good head on your shoulders, Prince. I’m sure you’d be fine at it.”
At that point, I could hear talking in the hallway. Soon, the door unlocked and opened, and I sighed. I had forgotten she had left.
“Oh! Uh, company,” said Daisy, walking in. She was still wearing her waitress outfit from her job. Behind her was Lola, who had gone to walk her back to the apartment, as she always did.
“Human company,” Lola added, looking to me.
“This is Sam Moranth. We work together.”
“Hi there!” Sam said, giving a wave as he turned to me and mouthed “More?” I nodded.
“I’m Lola of Prince, and this is my bitch, Daisy of Prince. It’s nice to meet you,” Lola said, smiling.
“Can I just tell them? They’re going to ask anyway over dinner,” I said to Sam.
Sam shrugged. “Sure.”
I turned to Lola and Daisy. “Sam’s a spook, but he’s a good friend. He won’t look without permission. Don’t be an ass towards him, okay?”
“Spook? Seriously, ma’am?” Daisy said, shivering a little. “In the den?”
“It’s my fucking den and like I said, he’s a good friend. I know you’ve had bad experiences, but keep a level head,” I growled.
“Y-yes ma’am,” Daisy said, shivering.
“Go gossip about all this with the boys, dinner will be ready soon and I’m talking with Sam, okay?” I said. Lola and Daisy nodded and disappeared.
Sam laughed. “Seems to me like you’re taking to being an alpha just fine!”
“Well, what choice do I have? They all look up to me for no real reason. Hell, Lola is older than me and she still treats me like her senior.”
Sam grinned. “You’re a leader, clearly.”
“I’m a shitty one, though. I mean, you think I haven’t thought about treating this thing as a pack? But there’s no way to do it. There’s no way to make the pack sustain itself without forcing everyone to breed, and that’s the whole fucking thing I wanted to get away from. It’s a shitty alpha that sabotages their own pack like that.”
“Then be a shitty alpha, then,” Sam said, shrugging. “I mean, they’re clearly okay with you not forcing them to do that.”
“I can’t do that…”
“You couldn’t move away from Sylvan either, if I recall.”
I sighed. “Man, fuck you and your logic and shit.”
Sam laughed. “Yeah, well, so it goes. It’s how my brain works.”
“Your stupid, fucked up human brain,” I said, grinning.
I sighed. “Prince I just feels weird, though. Even weirder than the name my mother gave me.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll deal with it,” Sam said. “Just don’t forget the little people from up on your throne.”
Brie ducked her head in. “I think things are about ready. Um, it’s mostly meat, Sam, I hope that’s okay…”
“Not like I expected anything else, Brie. Don’t worry about it,” Sam said.
Brie turned to me. “Tell everyone to set the table up?”
I nodded. “I will. See if you can find silverware for Sam. I thought I bought something.” I then turned to Sam. “We don’t really have good furniture for this stuff, so don’t give me shit about my card tables.”
Sam laughed. “It’s fine! You’ve seen how shitty my apartment is. I get it.”
“I know you’re eavesdropping,” I barked at the door to the boys’ quarters. “Set up the tables. Sam is eating with us, so make sure there’s room for him too.”
The door opened and all four of them murmured, “Yes, ma’am,” before starting to get the tables and chairs out of the closet. Lola and Daisy had basically claimed what was supposed to be the dining area as their quarters, so setting these tables up in the common area was the only solution I could think of. It worked okay.
Sam bopped the side of his head. “That’s what I was forgetting. I didn’t offer to let them smell me. That’s rude, right?”
“With how you smell? Nah,” I said, chuckling.
Sam chuckled with me, turning to the four dogs as they finished setting up the chairs. “Anyway, any of you can, if you want, though perhaps you’ll let me get to know you in return? But Prince tells me I’m pretty harsh on the nose, so maybe after dinner, so you don’t lose your appetite,” he said, grinning. “Any family of Prince is a friend of mine.”
Lola looked to Daisy, who seemed uncomfortable. “We’ll pass, but we both appreciate the offer nonetheless.”
Rex came over, and gave Sam a sniff, before yelping and leaping backwards in surprise, almost knocking over a table.
Sam laughed, and I sighed. “Now you know what a spook smells like. Be prepared next time.”
Rex nodded. Buddy followed suit, and handled it a bit better, though I could tell he was shocked it was as bad as Rex suggested it was.
Brie brought the food in, and we all sat down.
“Toast!” Sam yelled.
“What’s a toast?” Rex asked.
I huffed. “Human tradition. Normally by head of the house.”
“Then toast, ma’am,” Rex said, smiling.
I sighed, and raised my water bowl. It always looked more impressive with human glasses, I had to admit. “Well, uh… to friends and pack, and the bond between.”
Trying to follow suit, everyone lifted their bowls, and watching Sam and Brie, clinked them together. And then we ate.