A Decade Later…

Happy New Year!

I graduated college on December 22, 2007. On December 31, 2007, I uprooted my entire life in New York and was putting a key into my new apartment in Marion, Iowa by January 1st, 2008.

To commemorate my decade anniversary as an Iowan, I dug up old Facebook posts.

A lot has happened since these old posts. A lot. As I enter into 2018, I can’t help but be excited for what life will throw at me in the next decade. I’m happier now than I have been in my entire life and am married to the most wonderful person I have ever met. Iowa has brought me happiness this last 10 years. I’m so excited for it to continue.

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Review: FNAF-The Silver Eyes by Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley

The Silver Eyes (Five Nights At Freddy's #1) by [Breed-Wrisley, Kira, Scott Cawthon]A few years ago, I realized that while I might not want to play certain video games, I still wanted to know the story that was written in those games. This, combined with my general love of all things horror, led me to start watching Markiplier’s Let’s Play videos that cover the Five Nights at Freddy’s series. The aforementioned “King of Five Nights at Freddy’s” was both entertaining and caused me to jump with every jump scare that he subjected himself to. That being said, the most intriguing thing about those games was the hidden story elements that Markiplier would discover as he played through each terror-filled evening.
Needless to say, I quickly became hooked. The story elements were sparse and spread out over each of the games (now up to 6 and kind of a 7th) and implied a tale of murder turned supernatural possession. If you search the internet for the entire timeline or story, you won’t find any two answers the same. We’re given just enough information to make us crave more, and it makes these stories very addicting.
I’ve even taken the time, while rewatching each secret from Markiplier’s episodes, to try and sketch out my own timeline for what happens and I soon become so mired in facts and theories that the whole thing collapses. Simply put, the games are scary and the plot is a literal mystery.
I’m explaining my rather addicted history with FNaF to explain what urged me to pick up and listen to the audio book FNaF: The Silver Eyes, by Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley. While the book (and the entire franchise, for some reason) seem to be aimed at the Young Adult market, I wanted both a good horror story and to finally figure out what the story for this franchise actually is.
The first thing that I should mention is that this book is not, in anyway, an explanation of the story presented (in parts) during the video game. From what I’ve found online, Scott Cawthon thinks of it as more of an alternate telling to FNAF 1.
The book follows Charlie and her friends as they get together at the 10 year reunion of the death of their friend, Michael, who disappeared at the original Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzaria. It happened when they were little, and while memories might not be trustworthy after a decade, a horrifying experience can usually cement them into place. Together, the teenagers put together the clues that help them discover the original Freddy Fazbear’s and the mysteries it holds within.
In it’s own way, (parallel universe, remember) it answers the questions of who Purple Guy is, who made the suits/animatronics, who Springtrap is, and the natural progression of the murders/disappearances through the different franchises. As a matter of fact, a lot of what we learn during the book fits well with my own theories on the timeline in FNAF with the only major differences being how they handled Henry’s life (Henry being the man who invented the original animatronics). Also, I don’t think, or at least have any evidence toward, the existence of Charlie in the game world. She mourns her twin brother who died at the original Fazbear diner, but in the game, she’s not mentioned. Plus, in Pizzaria Simulator, Henry mentions that his daughter’s name is Elizabeth. To be fair, it gets really confusing once you start diving into the mythos of this stuff, and it’s best if we just stick to them being separate worlds, for sanity’s sake.
That being said, this entire book read less like a story from a video game world for young adults, and more like a horror movie that would be better than a lot of what’s to offer from Netflix’s horror selection (I’ve watched a lot of Netflix horror…just sayin’). The writers manage to bring to life the feeling of dread that the game does through the waiting for jump scares. That’s something that’s not easy to do in a book. That being said, I was left wanting in regards to more detail regarding Henry’s life and I have a huge (I mean HUGE) question regarding William Afton’s…condition. There is a second book, and I will be getting that soon as well, so maybe those answers will be found between those pages.
4 out of 5 Stars.

America: Your Service Has Been Disconnected

I normally don’t post anything political to social media or my blog, but recent outbursts by the Senator of my chosen state have incensed me to the point of outburst. Something needs to be said, and silence helps no one.
If you’re unaware as to the comments I’m referring, here’s a screenshot of the quote as reported from the HuffingtonPost.
Chuck Grassley’s recent comments illustrate the disconnect that America is experiencing between our representatives and the people. I don’t know a single person who spends on “booze and women” but I know a ton of people struggling to pay their daily bills just to live, including myself. I’m disheartened by the fact that today’s politics are ran by characters from Charles Dickens novels instead of by people who have sympathy, heart, and understanding. When family’s have to make the decision between paying their rent, their student loans, or groceries and their representatives think they are spending all of their money on superfluous excess there is something wrong with America. Not to mention the insult this is to anyone who has ever earned a single dollar. My representatives don’t get to tell me or my friends how to spend our money. That’s not how freedom works. While I don’t want to spend my money in an irresponsible way, if I decide to that’s my decision as a tax-paying and voting American.
Chuck Grassley, Iowa and America is incredibly disappointed in you.
Not to mention, have you see the prices of Movies, Mr. Grassley? Ridiculous.

Writing update

To be entirely honest, my writing has suffered since October. NaNoWriMo wasn’t anywhere near the success that it usually is for me. My only real excuse is distraction and blogging (you’re welcome, by the way), which is it’s own distraction.

That being said, I haven’t stopped planning out writing projects and thought I would give an update on those and where they are with proposed completion dates. Nothing like a deadline to give you something else to feel guilty about ignoring. Of course, the goal is to get these done way before their deadlines. But…best laid plans of mice and men, yadda yadda…

  • Satan’s Salesman: Deadline 12/25/2017

This book has taken me a long time to write, and I’m finally nearing the end of it. I think the slowness of my writing this story has been entirely due to already knowing where it ends and how much of it is very close to real work that I’ve done (not selling souls, but selling in general). I’ve hashed it all out with multiple people, I’ve talked it up and ironed it all out, and the story is done as far as my notes are concerned. I just need to sit down and finish it. Another 10-20k words and that should do it. Aiming to finish this one by Christmas.

  • Super Secret Mythos Project: Deadline 03/30/2018

Not a lot that I can say about this right now. It was born out of a collaborative discussion with friends/fellow mythos buffs. We’ve drawn parameters, we’ve set the schedule, and now we’re bringing it home. Stay tuned and prepare for awesome Lovecraftian writing!

  • Andrew Doran Book 3: Deadline ASAP, but 04/26/2018 (I’m racing the birth of my first child with this one)

I started Andrew Doran Book 3 a while ago and was serializing it on the blog Shoggoth.net. I reread those first two chapters and wasn’t entirely excited about the direction it was headed. I’m going to re-use a lot of what’s in them, but changes are necessary. Book 3 will follow Andrew and Nancy as they hunt for the Book of Eibon. Most importantly, I’m super excited to be diving back into Andrew Doran’s head.

  • The Multiverse Protection Bureau: Deadline 08/30/2018 (never had a kid before, all dates after Andrew Doran are subject to adjustment)

I had this idea about a month ago and fell in love with it almost immediately. The idea is pretty simple, X-files/Men in Black, but with Parallel worlds. The idea is to have fun playing with the science fiction concept, while also being able to play in multiple genres. It’s a series that will entirely be fun to write as well as an exercise in genre hopping while staying safely within science fiction. This will be a series.

  • Broken Nights Spin-Off: Deadline 2018

If you haven’t read Broken Nights: Strange Worlds, than you haven’t met Coven yet. Well, she’s a kickass witch who is home to the souls of her entire coven. One person, 8 witches, all in one body. And she’s too kickass to be a cameo in Jason Night’s story. So I’m bringing her to her own book with my brother’s blessing.

  • Broken Nights Book 3: Deadline 2018

Mike is writing notes RIGHT NOW… Right, Mike? Right…?

Arrow 6×07 “Thanksgiving” Review

Per the usual disclaimer: This is recaps and highlights of my favorite superhero shows from the CW. There will be spoilers. If you are not caught up on ARROW this week you will not want to read beyond this point.
 
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED…
 
I’m also going to try doing it in a simpler format. I’ve gotten rid of my play by play reactions and am opting to write a single shorter review post for each show instead of the super long reviews I have been doing. Let me know what you think.
Oliver gets arrested and Cayden James has a huge secret vendetta against the Green Arrow.
Oliver was finally arrested by the Feds, and after a huge episode about the importance of promises kept to children, Oliver is pissed because the Feds are making it look like he broke his promise to his kid. Cayden James and his evil team are making it look like they are going to build a nano-thermite bomb and blow up a stadium at a Billy Joel concert. All of this happens while Diggle tries Curtis’s prototype nerve-damage repair tech, and goes into major steroid withdrawals over it. If he continues to be the Arrow, he’ll become completely paralyzed.
Nice going, Curtis.
Oliver decides that how he’s treated John during the whole “nerve-damage” scandal isn’t fair, so until Diggle can put the hood back on, Oliver is going to do it again. He confronts Cayden James at the concert while Team Arrow takes out a bunch of fake cops, and Cayden explains that there is no bomb, not yet anyway, he just wanted a moment alone to tell the Green Arrow that for some secret reason that has to do with Cayden’s kid, he’s got a big and bad vendetta against him.
We are left to speculate what that Vendetta could be.
In the meantime, somebody video taped Team Arrow fighting the fake cops and released it right before the Vigilante vote, causing vigilantism to become illegal in Starling City again.
The other two big things that happened are Oliver lied to William about putting on the Hood and Thea Woke UP! The lie is going to bite Oliver in the ASS very hard, but it’s ok to ignore that because THEA WOKE UP.
After Wally’s return in The Flash and now Thea in Arrow, I’m wondering what kind of antics we can expect to see in the big Crossover event from those two.
As for my thoughts on this episode, we got to see the return of Oliver as the Arrow, which I liked, and we saw more of Captain Lance which is never a bad thing. We also have the motivations of the bad guy set up, nowhere near as solid as in The Flash, but its there.
The big fail, is this stuff with the Feds. I feel like Lyla would have got them off Oliver’s back by now, and whereas she also wasn’t anywhere around when Diggle was in the hospital. That’s kinda weird.
Can we get to the Crossover now?

Legends of Tomorrow 3×07 “Welcome to the Jungle”

Per the usual disclaimer: This is recaps and highlights of my favorite superhero shows from the CW. There will be spoilers. If you are not caught up on LEGENDS OF TOMORROW this week you will not want to read beyond this point.
 
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED…
 
I’m also going to try doing it in a simpler format. I’ve gotten rid of my play by play reactions and am opting to write a single shorter review post for each show instead of the super long reviews I have been doing. Let me know what you think.
The team ends up in Vietnam during the height of the conflict and it looks like Grodd has been kidnapping and brainwashing people from both sides of the conflict. The other big plot is Mick (our favorite) meeting his father before he can come home to raise, abuse, and die at Mick’s hands. Mick is weird about it, he doesn’t want to meet the man he burned to death, it kind of defeats the point of the murder.
This episode was great in that it brought back Grodd, and I love Grodd, but it also gives us some great backstory on Mick. The other big thing it does is ask a question that has been on everyone’s mind since Stein’s relative showed up in Victorian England: Why are this anachronisms occurring around the relatives of the Legends? First Stein’s ancestor, then Ray as a kid, and now Mick’s dad. Is someone trying to take out the Legends, or maybe change who they are?
We also get a Jax in this episode who wants to see if he can survive on the team as a hero without the use of Firestorm (if Stein leaves). Jax manages to save the President of the United States without lighting up.
It was a great episode and makes me excited to watch what happens at the Crossover next week.
Love the Ghostbusters reference, by the way. “There is no Sara, only Grodd.”

The Flash 4×07 “Therefore I Am” Review

Per the usual disclaimer: This is recaps and highlights of my favorite superhero shows from the CW. There will be spoilers. If you are not caught up on THE FLASH this week you will not want to read beyond this point.
 
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED…
 
I’m also going to try doing it in a simpler format. I’ve gotten rid of my play by play reactions and am opting to write a single shorter review post for each show instead of the super long reviews I have been doing. Let me know what you think.
The Flash opened up this episode exactly where the last episode took off.  Clifford DeVoe is a guy in a wheelchair who couldn’t possibly be The Thinker… Except that he is, and Barry knows it, but there’s no way to prove it and all of Team Flash thinks he’s being Barry from last season. If you recall, that Barry was paranoid and angry. He’s seeming super paranoid this time around, but it’s well founded. I mean, DeVoe is in a wheelchair…Flash learned a long time ago that he shouldn’t trust a guy in a wheelchair.
That being said, there are two big contradictions in this episode. The first being that Barry is off the wall paranoid. To the point that he is sloppy.  The second contradiction is that Team Flash doesn’t believe Barry. At this point, it’s completely out of character for any of them not to believe  Barry. They trust Caitlyn to not be Frost, but that can’t trust the Forensic Specialist/Superhero.
The best part of this episode was all of the flashbacks. We got some great shots of Wellsobard (Eobard Thawne as Harrison Wells) from season 1 as well as a great backstory for the villain. The backstory, this early in the season, gave us more flavor for the villain, and humanized him, than if we did it later, like with Savitar. Instead of making the big suspense about who he is, which is a cheaper suspense, they make the big bad scary by giving him a backstory and showing that he’ll go to any length for what he wants. Now we have to worry about how smart he is and what he’s capable of.
Either way, this episode rounded up with everyone believing Barry after Clifford confesses to him.
This was a good episode, but as far as feel, it felt like a mix of Barry from season 3 and villain from season 1.
The most important part of this episode is that Wally is back, and he fought Starro! Starro is Earth-1 canon now. Woot!

Review: History is Wrong by Von Daniken

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This book was a doozy. Seriously, I had to finish a liter of vodka just to choke this stuff down. Heck, that was after taking the pound and a half of cocaine.

Erich von Daniken started his research asking a couple of cousins and waiters if they knew what the Voynich Manuscript was. As expected, their answers were all in the negative.

Heck, I’m a professional archaeologist and I don’t even know what it is!

But I digress…

After Erich von Daniken asks about a 100 of these goobers he explains that everyone’s lack of knowledge on the subject is indicative of the lack of knowledge of the subject in academic circles. This, and only this, is the only point in this entire book in which I will agree with Erich von Daniken.

The purpose of archaeological studies (as I’ve stated repeatedly) is to enlighten and educate. The Voynich Manuscript is a 15th or 16th century, currently untranslated, document. Shy of a press release dating and marking its provenience, the public wouldn’t have heard anything about the manuscript until it has been interpreted. Instead of jumping on the sane train and saying what I just said, Erich von Daniken instead decides to state that the lack of public knowledge on the subject is instead part of some plot to hide what most academics are too close minded to admit: we can’t decipher it because it was written by aliens.

What?

Yes. Aliens.

Fact: the Voynich manuscript is written in an, as of yet, undeciphered script.

Fact: the Voynich manuscript has detailed star/sun charts.

Scientific conclusion? An as of yet undetermined culture had the mathematical and observational skills to plot star/sun charts.

The Erich Von Daniken conclusion? Our inability to interpret the foreign language implies no failing on our part but instead implies that beings much smarter than us wrote it. Also, the detailed star charts are obviously contrived from mathematics too complex for early man to decipher and are indicative of beings who have grander perspectives than early man.

The Erich Von Daniken conclusion that I just gave you is basically all of “History is Wrong” pertaining to the Voynich manuscript. You’ll also find that when reading this book you come across, repeatedly, two signature pseudoscience tools:

The first of these tools is the “piece it together yourself” questioning. Pseudoscience is opinion based over factual. For this reason, after a pseudoscientist makes a claim he/she will usually follow it up with a question instead of a factual explanation. This is a con man slide. It chooses to engage you in hopes that while contemplating related conclusions you’ll not question the lack of cited evidence. When asked to answer a question, you’re usually too busy answering to take the time to say “Woah…wait a second…that doesn’t make sense.”

Politicians use it too…a lot.

The second, and probably slightly more annoying, tool in the pseudoscientist toolbox is one I like to call “Look at my big friend…” This method is the presentation of proof that you know someone famous instead of proof to your claims. Its a means of von Daniken to say “I must be right because this famous person wrote me a letter.” The major example in this book is the letter from Neil Armstrong, also known as the first man to step on the moon.

In short, von Daniken claims to have been part of an excavation that discovered a metal library within a cave system in Los Tayos, in South America. After the supposed discovery, he claims that the press had covered it up and wouldn’t believe him, he also takes this moment to point out that documentation that would prove his point (photographs, journal entries) are simply missing (at one point, even saying “(my archive is missing)”[page 130 opposite the letter from Armstrong]). He then claims to have just surrendered until he heard that another crew had visited the excavation and brought along Armstrong.

Von Daniken mails Armstrong a letter asking for his take on the alien library in the caves and Armstrong states: “I understand that there have been magazine articles in Germany and Argentina which reported on the excavation and related it to your theories…I was asked in Ecuador whether I had observed any evidence of highly developed societies having been in the area, and I answered that I had not.” He continued the letter stating that he appreciated the offer to accompany von Daniken on an excavation but would have to refuse.

So…Armstrong said no aliens. Pretty clear cut, right?

Erich Von Daniken instead states that the letter is proof that he has been victimized by the media and that Armstrong had given him his full support. Very simply, a celebrity contacted von Daniken in response, and von Daniken is using it to drum up popularity.

This of course follows Erich Von Daniken’s refuting of the comments in the media that he admitted to never actually being in the caves in Ecuador.

I shall answer this one from personal experience.

I, Matt the Spaz, have actually watched the interview in which Erich Von Daniken states that he had never been to the caves. Back in college, in Riddles of the Past 101 with Dr. Marqusee, we watched the whole video and not only does he say that he’s never been to the caves, but also that half of the Nazca lines that he claimed were landing pads for alien beings he had never actually visited. He ended the interview saying that, when he writes his books, he knows he’s writing for an audience and that he brings a large portion of poetic license into each book he writes.

For those of you new to literary parlance, poetic license is “make-believe.”

Finally, the book ends weak. Erich Von Daniken falls into a lull and must have noticed, because he quickly starts just repeating stuff from his other books, all of it can be found in his original, “Chariots of the Gods?“

His book ends on a quote, pleading with the audience one last time to view him as the victim.

“Those who cannot attack the thought, instead attack the thinker.” (Paul Valery 1871-1945)

In response: Erich Von Daniken I don’t see you as a victim of the media or of “mainstream archaeology.” I see you as a person who completely ignores the Scientific Method. I love your “thought.” I think its awesome. Aliens rock. The purposeful bending of scientific evidence to your theories is what I attack. Read the evidence as it is, don’t make it fit your beliefs.

Pseudoscientists are either people who failed to correctly learn the scientific method, or snake-oil salesmen.

I encourage everyone to ignore this book, go out and buy Chariots of the Gods? and laugh your butt off reading that one. In forty years, he has come up with nothing new to write.

1 star out of 5.

This post was originally written back in 2009.

Supergirl 3×07 “Wake Up” Review

Per the usual disclaimer: This is recaps and highlights of my favorite superhero shows from the CW. There will be spoilers. If you are not caught up on SUPERGIRL this week you will not want to read beyond this point.
 
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED…
 
I’m also going to try doing it in a simpler format. I’ve gotten rid of my play by play reactions and am opting to write a single shorter review post for each show instead of the super long reviews I have been doing. Let me know what you think.
Supergirl 3×07- “Wake Up”
-This week broke from what I think was a pretty solid pattern for this season and didn’t have a simple theme. This episode dealt with Kara finally getting her wish, in the return of Mon-El, but also getting a heavy dose of “Be careful what you wish for.”
As everyone kind of guessed when Mon-El disappeared into a wormhole in space last season, he went to the future and joined the Legion of Superheroes in the 31st century (Not confirmed in this episode, but yeah, that’s what happened). When a submarine gets attacked by his dormant ship buried under National City (that was very lucky) almost 12,000 years ago, Mon-El is reunited with Kara, but he’s being super shifty. I feel like everyone could figure out the big twist here as soon as Kara said, “It’s been such a long and hard 7 months.” The big twist, for those who couldn’t figure out the foreshadowing in that sentence, is that it hasn’t been 7 months for Mon-El, but has actually been 7 years (12,007 more like, but he was unconscious during that time). He moved on and married a gal from Titan, Imra Ardeen. It’s sad, but only because it’s been a much shorter time for Kara. Mon-El was infuriating in this episode. I feel like he should have just been straight forward about his situation from the moment he saw Kara. “Kara, I know this sucks, but I got sucked into the future, where they cured me of lead and I was living for seven years. Before you go getting your hopes up, you should know that, while it was incredibly difficult and heart-breaking, I did end up getting over you and falling in love with Titan lady. Sorry, can we still be besties?” The other time that he frustrated me (read that as “really pissed me off”) was when he kissed his wife right when he was about to tell Kara everything, but without actually telling her. He just runs over, kisses her and is all “Oh, right, earthlings care about tact, my bad.” Not cool dude. Obviously Kara needs a trip to a different Earth for a little while (see next week’s episode).
The other major plot of this episode was Samantha finding her own Fortress of Sanctuary (really original…seriously, what other ideas did you steal from Jor-el? Dude, that Lady Jor-el knock off was super creepy) and awakening her power that is Reign. Turns out that she’s a brainwashed world destroyer, and when Creepy Hologram lady says the magic words, Reign wakes up and pushes Samantha deep down. I’m getting a really big vibe that they are stealing from the Smallville Doomsday plot with Davis Bloome. She’s going to go all evil, then her daughter will be the only one to bring her back. It was even foreshadowed fairly heavily with the “Hear that? You’re my heart” scene.
Finally, there was a subplot of J’onn and his awesome father, Myr’nn getting an apartment to start becoming more a part of the world and rediscovering their “humanity” (martianity? I don’t know, let’s just go with “personable skills.”
All in all, it was a great episode that reminded me Jimmy existed by giving him about 30 seconds of screen time, brought back Mon-El, and finally gave Martian Manhunter some more backstory. Unfortunately, I feel as though it suffered from the same thing that I think has been plaguing this entire season: Emo-Kara. She spends every episode getting cured. Then she falls back into the pouty “I’m just gonna be an alien, because being a human hurts too much.” Which, by the way, is so damned racist. Aliens have feelings too. Ask literally anyone in that damned bard you hang out in.