Good Times in the Video Game World

Happy weekend Bookbrainers! I hope all of you are doing well as we get closer to Thanksgiving (for those of you in the US). For this week I wanted to take some time to talk about two men who have been a source of entertainment for me for quite some time. They’re Shaun and Craig, hosts of the Youtube channel GameAttack.

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What is GameAttack you ask? It is a Youtube channel where Shaun and Craig play videos games, hang out, and just be generally awesome humans. I’ve been watching their videos almost daily since the channel launched almost a year ago and before that even when they were on a channel called ScrewAttack that Craig founded years ago. The cool part is for Shaun and Craig this isn’t just a hobby, this a job since their entire livelihood is funded by the tens of thousands of fans who donate to keep them running. I love watching these guys when I get a chance, and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that they remind me of all the years I spent hanging out with my friends playing video games, something I sadly don’t really get the chance to do anymore.

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I know some of you out there (mostly those of you who don’t play video games) are wondering why I would want to spend my time watching people play video games instead of you know….just playing video games? That answer is simple. Why do you watch sports? BECAUSE IT’S FUN AND ENTERTAINING! If society can accept millions of people watching, but not playing, sports…why can’t it be the same with video games?

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(Oh wait! It already is a professional sport!)

So if you want to check out GameAttack follow any of the number of links I’ve posted here! I recommend giving them a watch if you enjoy video games! Now if you excuse me this TV wont watch itself!

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A Real Horrorshow of a Blog

Welcome back Bookbrainers! Nerdy jokes about mechanical fruit aside, it is FINALLY October! I’m pretty excited for this month for many many reasons (some of which I’ll be sharing on the blog next week), but one of the biggest reasons I’m excited is for Halloween!

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For me Halloween doesn’t start on October 31st, or even October 1st.

Nay my friends.

Halloween starts on AUGUST FIRST!!!

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Starting on August 1st, my fiancée Jamie and I begin to binge watch all the horror movies we can get our hands on. As of writing this we’re currently at 38 movies for the season! If you want to read about her take on our horror movie experience this year she will be posting about it on her blog this weekend here!

So I knew I wanted to talk about how much I love and enjoy horror movies, but I wasn’t sure what the best way to do that was. So I said screw it and decided I’m just going to take you on a random love filled rant of horror movies you should go watch right now because they’re freakin’ awesome!

LET’S GET STARTED!!!

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  1. IT (2017)

So I’m going to start my list with the most obvious movie I could talk about. There is nothing I can say about this movie that you haven’t heard already this year since it’s freaking everywhere! Everyone is talking about this movie! And do you know why? Because it really is that good! Now, to be fair it is NOT by far the best horror movie ever made nor is it perfect (it’s not). This movie is everything I’ve ever wanted from an adaptation of Stephen King’s amazing novel. If you haven’t seen IT yet and want to see a horror movie that is more than just scares, but also has a universal message about what it’s like to be different and growing up, watch this movie.

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  1. The Babadook

Keeping with the idea of a horror movie that talks about life, The Babadook is a horror movie that smartly takes you through the pain of loss and what that does to an isolated family. One of the things about this movie that got me while watching it is that it constantly made me feel afraid, filled me with dread, and unnerved me…but I couldn’t always figure out why. This is a movie that forgoes the more modern style of horror movies and delves deep down into reminding you why sometimes the house you’ve lived in all your life and still scare you sometimes in the dark. I don’t want to give too much away, but trust me if you like smart horror movies give this one a watch!

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  1. Fright Night (1985)

This is a movie I first watched years ago when I started to watch horror movies. This movie has everything you could ever want from a vampire movies! It has sex, mystery, violence, gore, and teen angst all wrapped up in a way that was only possible in the ‘80s. If you haven’t seen this movie, think Rear Window or The Burbs, but the neighbor turns out to be a vampire. It is the kind of fun horror movie that it perfect for just sitting back and enjoying.

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4. and 5.  The Void, The Thing (1982)

Alright…follow me on this. So recently Jamie and I were surfing Netflix for new horror movies to watch when we came across, The Void. I LOVED this movie! Jamie was disgusted and hated it. *shrug* This is a movie that’s hard to explain without giving too much of the mystery away as you watch it. The best way I can explain this movie is if they had taken John Carpenter’s The Thing and combined it with Hellraiser, then dropped it into an entire vat of H.P. Lovecraft writing. The Thing is one of my favorite horror movies of all time and one that I feel never stops resonating with Americans even as our country develops and changes. The paranoia of the story is FANTSTIC and the visuals pure masterpieces. The Void takes all of that and adds in the extradimensional and creepy touch of Hellraiser. Now you may be wondering why I didn’t add Hellraiser to my list even though I talk about it. That’s simple my friend!…I don’t like that movie and it’s my blog so I can do what I like. Either way if you’ve ever heard of horror writing master H.P. Lovecraft and wanted to know what his writing is like…but for some fucked up reason hate reading…watch this movie. Just be prepared for it to take some pretty fucked up left turns into HOLY-SHIT-WHAT-WAS-THAT-VILLE.

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6. and 7.  Tales of Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat

I’ve paired these movies together for two reasons. 1. They are both Halloween/horror based anthology movies. 2. They are both freakin’ awesome! If you haven’t heard of or seen either of these incredible movies PLEASE take some time and relax and enjoy them! Both of them have a Creep Show, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits feel, but with a very modern horror feel. The various shorts in the movies can range from funny, to creepy, to violent blood spattering fun!

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  1. Halloween (1978)

Speaking of blood spattering fun! I know most of this list tends to focus on newer movies, but that’s mostly because they’re the ones kind of getting ignored. Halloween is one of the most essential and classic horror movies ever made that nearly everyone has heard of it and even if they haven’t seen it can recognize Meyers and probably even knows the theme songHalloween may be one of the best horror movies ever made and you should celebrate it in all its glory every year!

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9. and 10. You’re Next, Kristy

So let’s take a moment to jump from one of the greatest slasher films ever made to two movies that take that genre and turns it upside down. You’re Next is about a girl having a dinner party with her boyfriend’s family when they start getting attacked and killed by masked men. Kristy is about a girl who is the only left on a college campus during a holiday when she becomes targeted by a group of fanatics to be killed. Both these movies have one major thing in common, the female protagonist isn’t a weak damsel in distress and instead of fleeing the slasher killers, turn around and fight back. I’ve always been bothered by people in horror movies that knock down the killer…then run away. I’ve on more than one occasion started screaming at the TV, “WHY ARE YOU RUNNING AWAY??? BASH HIS STUPID FACE IN UNTIL THE POLICE SHOW UP AND THE KILLER IS A CHUNKY PUDDLE OF BLOOD ON THE FLOOR!!!” (or something like that) If you’ve ever felt that way too, then watch these movies and enjoy some common sense on me!

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11. and 12. Cabin in the Woods, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Finally I’m going to round out the list with horror movies that can be funny, but are also fairly meta in how they spend most the movie tipping their hats to the horror genre while also subverting some of your expectations. I’m looking first at the wildly popular Cabin in the Woods by the creative god that is Joss Whedon and then Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Both of these movies are completely fantastic and worth every single moment of your time for how entertaining they are. If you’ve ever wanted love letters to the horror genre, this is your first and last stop!

Well there you have it! My list of horror movies you should be watching this year! Is this all the best horror movies or my favorites? Nope! I’m just suggesting these might be some to check out this year. In the comments let me know what horror movies you’re watching and what ones you think are a must have this year!

What’s in a name…besides letters?

Welcome back Bookbrainers! This week I’m going to talk about a part of writing that has always given me difficulty…names.

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When I write I always try and take naming my characters and places seriously. I try and put as much effort into their names as I will my own children. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Whoa there Spencer! Calm your shit it’s just fictional characters,” and to that I nay. See for as a writer I have hopes that someone will read my work someday who isn’t forced to by bonds of love, friendship, family, or ropes. In this off chance that someone I don’t know will take an interest in my work, I want them to feel connected to it the same way I feel towards my favorite characters, and a large part of that is in a name.

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Names carry more than a lot of people realize, unless you’ve had kids and sat around picking names based on how hard they are to work into an insult. (Children are heartless cretins and I can’t wait to have one.) Names do more than just give you something to call someone, they help define how you think of them before you even know them.

Example! Let’s say I have a single female friend who I’m trying to set up on a blind date. I tell her that the guy I’m setting her up with is good looking, smart, funny, adventurous, ambitious, has a great job where he makes lots of money, and loves animals. At this point, she’s probably thinking, “Jackpot!” …then I tell her his name is Bob. You can practically hear the mental breaks screeching to a halt. At this point she will go from thinking this is a great idea, to I’m messing with her. Why? Because of the name Bob. When you picture a, “Bob,” you don’t see the man I described above. You instantly picture something like a man in his 40’s or 50’s, balding on the front and top of his head, a thick 5 O’clock shadow on his face, a not so smart look on his face, smelling faintly of stale beer and pretzels, and an unbuttoned bowling shirt with an old stained white undershirt underneath that barely covers his large stomach.

Why do we have these pictures in our head? Personally I’m not sure, probably something to do with our shared cultural experience leading our perception of reality to a skewed outcome…or you know…aliens?

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Either way there are many more examples in our culture. Which we can test right now! Below I’m going to list a series of names. When you read each name I want you to picture that person in your head. When you do this try VERY HARD not to think of someone you specifically know, just a face you would naturally associate with that name.

Ready?

Sally

Steve

Jason

Bambi

Andrew

Susan

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Alright! Hope you thought hard about those names! I’m going to do a quick rundown of what I think when I hear these names.

Sally – Short with brown hair with a round face. Always smiling and a very nice person.

Steve – Tall and skinny. He most likely has brown hair, patchy short facial hair, nice guy but a little odd, and good with computers.

Jason – An asshole.

Bambi – Not super smart and probably a either a stripper or a spoiled rich girl.

Andrew – Muscular and very assertive.

Susan – Smart and nice, but a little shy.

So how did I do? Did I match up to what popped into your head? Whether I did or not my point is this, you have to always be aware of what you call your characters when writing. Vorkoth can be the name of a villain in a story who can eventually be someone who strikes fear into the hearts of the heroes and maybe even the readers…but if his name is Kyle…well, I’ll leave you with the words of a great man here explain that one to you.

Have a great week Bookbrainers!

I’ve Got the Music In Me

Time to grab your guitars and sober your drummers Bookbrainers! Today we’re talking about music and writing!

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Now what I want to talk about isn’t necessarily about how to write music into a story. If you’re interested in books that write about music so well you think you can hear it, I VERY much recommend Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. You can check out Rothfuss’ blog and maybe look into getting one of his amazing books here!

No, what I want to talk about is something that happens to me every time I sit down and write. Whenever I’m writing a scene or think of one of my characters, I hear a soundtrack in my head for what’s going on.

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Now many of you may be thinking that there is nothing wrong with that, it could be used as inspiration for music if they ever make a show or movie from the book. Well…you see it is a problem. I’m not normal (as you may have noticed) and I don’t think of the typical epic music scores like you hear in The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. Nope! I picture a character walking into a room and in my mind I see it in slow motion as “Name of the Game” by Crystal Method blares, “Listen all you mother…”

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(You know what movie scene I’m thinking of)

It’s the same with all the music that pops into my head! If my mind was in charge any movie of my books would have a soundtrack similar to the movie Suicide Squad! Now why do I feel this is a problem? Mostly because I’m the kind of person who daydreams about impossible things. I think about what would happen if I won $500 Million in the lottery tomorrow…

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(Eat shit gravity!)

So naturally I’m someone who does the very narcissistic thing of thinking about a movie version of my book someday. And I honestly have a hard time picturing it with a traditional movie score and not the badass soundtrack floating around the back of my mind. Soundtracks like my thoughts just aren’t done with movies like that and for good reason, it takes all form of seriousness away and reduces immersion. But hey! Maybe I’m wrong, maybe a fun soundtrack with Rolling Stone songs set in a fantasy world similar to medieval times would be fine!

Let me know what you guys think! Do fantasy movies have to have epic instrumental soundtracks, or would it be acceptable to have modern pop and rock hits? Comment here, on the Facebook page, or on my Twitter account. Let me know what you think!

Literary Diner: How Would You Like Your Sci-Fi Today?

Welcome back Bookbrainers! I hope you all had a kick-ass week! So recently I did a guest appearance on my friend Doug’s podcast called Rawcast A.D. (if you’ve been reading the blog awhile I’ve mentioned him before), where we talked a lot about current technology and where that technology is going in the future. You can listen to it here!

So talking with Doug about technology got me thinking about Science Fiction as a genre. I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Fantasy as a genre both to read and write, but there has always been amazing gems of Science Fiction that I’ve been drawn towards. One of my all-time favorites being Orson Scott Card, who is a fantastic writer if you’ve never given his books a chance. His largest series (and my favorite) being about two characters, Ender and Bean. If you haven’t given them a read I would highly recommend doing so!

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(The books are great, just ignore this…please?)

For the most part though, Card’s books fall under what is commonly called, “Soft,” science fiction. This means that the technology in his writing does get some explanation, but it’s not very in-depth (mostly) and it takes a backseat to the characters and plot.

The opposite of this is obviously, “Hard,” science fiction. A good more modern example of this would be Michael Crichton, who wrote books like Jurassic Park and Timeline.

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(That’s just badassery right there!)

The science in his books tends to be very detailed and take a strong center point in plot itself. In the early days of Science Fiction writing this was by far more common as for many writers their characters and even the plot was mostly just required decoration around their ideas about technology. These writers even felt that the transition to “soft” Science Fiction was heresy against good writing.

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(Dude do you even science?)

So my question to you Bookbrainers is which do you like more? Science Fiction that takes the time to thoroughly explain the technology that is in the story, or do you just want a quick glossed over explanation and on to the more important things? I personally feel that neither extreme is best, but a kind of meeting in the middle. I personally don’t need to know every detail of the teleporting device and the science behind it all, but damn it I want more than, “It works because it just does! Now quit questioning my methods! *continues shoving cats into fuel tank.*”

So sound off your opinion here on the blog, on our Facebook page (here), or on our NEW TWITTER…page? Feed? Thing? *storms off to go find out its proper name*

Flash Fiction Challenge 2: The Writing Continues

Welcome Bookbrainers!!! (yes that’s a thing now) It is time again for what I feel for many of you is your favorite part of my blog, Flash Fiction Challenges! The last challenge went well with the chosen topic of, “Time Travel and Mermaids.” This time we’re going to shake up the format and do things a little differently.

The Challenge

Either on Bookbrain’s Facebook page or on the blog itself I want you in the comments to write a single sentence. This sentence will become the first sentence in a short story that I write and post in the blog.

The Rules

You can only post ONE sentence! Make it a good one!

The sentence cannot be obviously stolen from another piece of writing. Example: You can’t submit, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” and expect me to think you came up with it. I mean come on…that’s clearly from the song, “Stairway to Heaven.”

Your sentence can be any genre and can be dialogue. Again, just don’t take things from elsewhere if you’re going with a quote. If you write, “Hey check out this awesome ring!” said Frodo, I’ll know you’re either pulling directly from or referencing to the movie Spinal Tap.

So obviously the sentence you submit shouldn’t have anything too explicit in it. Please use your best judgement (Shit why do I keep asking the internet to use good judgement???)

You will have until 11:59pm central time on Thursday August 24th to submit your vote for what you want me to write.

I will pick the winner to write about based solely on what I find interesting, just like with the last challenge. If you think that’s unfair, I did decide to double check with the referee and…

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Yep, yep, still fair!

I’ll announce the winner at the end of next week’s blog!

The short story will be an original piece of fiction that I’ll write myself which only one week to do it.

The short story will be posted here on the blog on September 1st.

 

I hope to see lots of sentences in the comments! Remember to like the blog and share so that more of the Nobrainers can find me and participate in making me figuratively dance for their entertainment. Have a great week!

Stop! I Collaborated now Listen!

Alright Bookbrainers, (yeah you heard me), I have something special for you this week! Some of you may have noticed me post about this VERY briefly on the blog’s Facebook page, but I recently went on my friend’s podcast called Rawcast: A.D. (Here: https://soundcloud.com/rawcastad/017-bookbrain ) and got to promote the blog to his listeners. I HIGHLY recommend that you go over when you get the chance to give it a listen. Doug (the host of Rawcast: A.D.) and I talk about the blog quite a bit…

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…as well as talk about movies and books worth reading. Doug and I go waaaaay back to our college days at UW-Stevens Point. There is also a podcast we did talking about that if you’re for some reason interested in me…can’t imagine why you would be though…(*cough* look at above picture *cough*).

Anyway! Doug’s podcast has been on hiatus for a while, but he’d bringing it back better than ever going forward! Doug talks about everything from politics, to books and movies, to just random fun things that he feels like brining up. So if you’re interested in him or if you just want to hear me jabber like a moron for an hour about writing give it a listen!

Now to celebrate this awesome crossover how about a…FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE!!! On next week’s blog I’ll post the new challenge for YOU (yes you) to vote on and me to pick the wining suggestion and write on. So all you Bookbrainers…

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I want all of you to get involved in this next challenge and have your friends (all those Nobrainers who don’t read the blog) vote too! Also when I ask you to, “Bring me everyone,” what I mean is…

Everyone

Have a great week!