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So I have a tumblr now

http://coreywwilliams.tumblr.com/

So yeah. I’ll be honest, I never really understood the point of tumblr for a long time and I didn’t have much desire to learn. However, one of my friends talked to me about it and I looked into it. I realized it would be a nice site to post links to things that I enjoy, but don’t have enough to talk about for a full length blog post.

Whenever I do a blog post, I try to make sure there’s a lot of content and there’s a clear point to it. This is why you haven’t seen my blogging a whole lot lately because, well, I don’t see the point in making a blog post that’s only one paragraph long.

My tumblr will be a lot more frequently updated so, if any of the tens of people reading this are interested in getting some more insight into what I like and what I’m doing when I don’t have a huge amount of things to say, check it out.

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So Its the End of the World Again

So its May 21st, which if you haven’t heard was supposed to be the end of the world. Hopefully this isn’t a spoiler, but nothing happened.

My thoughts? Well… I guess for one thing it means I’ll still have to go to work tomorrow. So there’s that.

Aside from that, I’ll say today was fairly amusing for everyone. I especially enjoyed CNN’s coverage of the non-event. Unfortunately I couldn’t track down clips in time for this post, but it was hilarious. Journalists are in general supposed to be good at reporting without letting their own opinions get in the way, but you could tell that every single anchor on CNN thought that this was like the dumbest thing ever.

Aside from that, as many people point out, this isn’t the first time people thought the world was going to end and it didn’t. When I was growing up, I remember people thinking 1999 was going to be the end of the world because that date was predicted by Nostradamus (and to a lesser extent, the video game Chrono Trigger).

Then people said it would be 2000 due to Y2K. I still remember people also being kind of nervous about the date 6/6/2006 as well. And I think the same thing will happen in 2012 too.

Basically, it seems like the world is always ending and we’ve done pretty well so far. No matter what you believe, I think it’s best not to worry about such things. Maybe the world will never end. And even if it does, there’s not much we can do about that anyway, so we might as well enjoy the little things while we can.

I hope you all had a nice, safe Apocalypse, and hope you have a good day tomorrow as well.

Good Books: Smoke and Mirrors & Fragile Things

April 22, 2011 1 comment

I’ve been having some writers block on my novel recently. I’ve been working on the first draft for nearly five months at this point, writing almost every day, and it’s gotten to the point where everything I’m writing seems forced. Part of it is stress I guess, but mostly I think that I’ve been working on it so long that it’s hard to get immersed in it and hard to ignore the sense that everything I’m writing is crap. Most people who have to write anything fall into this trap every once in a while. It’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before, but it is still annoying. So I did what I usually do when I’m in this situation. I read something I enjoy to relax my mind for a few days and to remind myself what good writing looks like.

The two books I turned to in this situation are actually two collections of short stories by Neil Gaiman, Smoke & Mirrors and Fragile Things. I’ve always loved short stories and Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers, so it’s a no-brainer I enjoy these collections. And I’m glad I did because they do a good job of showing well-done storytelling and interesting concepts that really helped restart my brain.

Neil Gaiman, in case you don’t know, is the writer of the popular Sandman comic series, as well as many popular books such as American Gods and Coraline. I enjoy almost everything he’s written, but oddly enough I think his short stories are what I enjoy the most. Don’t get me wrong, all of his novels are fantastic, but I think his short stories play more to Neil Gaiman’s strengths. Neil Gaiman clearly has a very robust imagination and can build stories on pretty interesting concepts (one of my favorite short stories in Smoke & Mirrors, for example, has a fantastic concept: a detective story… in Heaven. With angels). A lot of his short stories pretty much allow him to showcase these concepts in an interesting way with believable characters, without having to introduce other elements that distract from the main purpose of the story.

I think one of Gaiman’s biggest strengths as a story teller is his skill at being able to “show, not tell,” and his short stories make that a lot clearer. The majority of Gaiman’s stories in general contain very little exposition. He’s very good at showing the reader what is going on without having to explain it and very skilled at leaving stuff to the reader’s imagination without it being frustrating or disappointing the reader. Almost all of his short stories carry this to some extent, so if you’re a writer, its very enjoyable his stories just to see how he’s able to pull that off.

And, just to put it simply, they’re all very good stories. There are some stories in both collections I feel are a bit weaker than others, but there are none that I outright dislike. I do have a few favorites though. In Smoke & Mirrors, my favorite stories are “Murder Mysteries”, the detective story I already mentioned above (which is probably the best story in both collections that shows Gaiman being able to show things without explaining them), and “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale,” a darkly humorous story about a man who tries to hire a hitman and is convinced to buy assassinations in bulk. In Fragile Things, my favorite story is “How to Talk to Girls a Parties”. The basic plot of the story isn’t that complex (two young guys go to talk to chicks and find out that all the girls are humanoid aliens) but the character interaction is solid and the background on the characters is so interesting that it leaves you thinking about them for a while. While those are my favorites, each story is well done and hints at a much larger world than what is shown. I think the best short stories are the kind that leave you wanting more, to see another window into that world or into the characters lives to find out what happened, and Gaiman is a master of that.

I can safely say that reading these books helped me out of my writing funk and I don’t think anyone should miss out on them. If you are a fan of fantasy or horror, pick these collections up.

Categories: Uncategorized

Wait, People Read My Blog Now?!

April 18, 2011 5 comments

Hey guys.

So I was checking the stats for my blog yesterday when I noticed an irregularity in the page view data. Take a look at this scientific chart of my page views to see if you can spot any change.

Red arrows and bar graphs mean it's scientific

It was a bit surprising to me to say the least. Upon further investigation, I found out Chad Rocco,  the creator of Familiar Faces, linked me on his Deviantart page after seeing my post about his show earlier this year. I thought that was very cool of him and I was flattered that he liked my post about his show. I never expected him to even notice my post about his show, let alone enjoy my blog as a whole, so I am very grateful for that. Thanks CR!

It is pretty encouraging to know people are actually, you know, looking at the stuff I post. I never really set out expecting this to be a popular blog, outside of my group of friends and maybe a few other people. To be honest, up until now, I had basically operated under the assumption that this blog was a slightly high tech version of talking to myself. Considering I’ve always wanted to be a writer (and am currently preparing to try my hand at self-publishing), it is encouraging that there are at least a few people who read this blog and are interested in what I have to say.

So I suppose I’ll try to be a bit more regular about updating than I have been. I consume enough media that I have plenty of stuff to talk about. I’ve already got of bunch of ideas. So I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for reading and I hope I’ll be able to hold your interest from hear on in. Thanks guys.

So They’re Making Human-Hunting Robot Cheetah Terminators Now

February 27, 2011 2 comments

And I for one welcome our murderous cheetah overlords.

This isn’t a joke. This is a thing that is actually happening.

Geekologie is one of my favorite sites, since they post interesting gadget related news with a humorous editorial voice. The Geekologie writer has a horrible fear of robots that comes through in every robotics related post and, after seeing that article, I sort of sympathize.

The Cheetah bot will be able not only to run faster than the fastest human on earth, but can also zigzag and evade. I find it amusing that the company behind it, Boston Dynamics, lists one of the applications of the robot is “advanced agriculture”. Because, you know, I imagine retractable flesh shredding claws come in handy when harvesting eggplant.

The article says the Cheetah will be able to “chase and evade” and will be able to “stop on a dime.” So really the only way you could make this robot sound scarier is if it turned out its fuel cells ran on gore and FEAR.

If that didn’t sound ominous enough, if you read the original article the Geekologie post references, it turns out these same guys are also working on building a HEADLESS TERMINATOR.

"Your life as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will service... us"

I am honestly glad that Boston Dynamics is on our side and everything, but holy crap, they build scary stuff. I really hope they don’t have a mad scientist working for them who will ultimately usurp control of their robots and lead an invasion force. Because the last thing I want to wake up to is a robotic cheetah shredding my torso apart with its rotating saw blade teeth, while its headless terminator handler rips my head from my spinal column for its human head collection. I like holding on to both my head and torso.

Again, I’m sure Boston Dynamics is full of responsible individuals who know what they’re doing (and certainly wouldn’t send robotic death cheetah squads on innocent blog writers who were totally only kidding before).  Still… it might be a good idea to lay low for a few decades, in case these guys decide to build AM from I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream next.

Back Again

January 19, 2011 1 comment

Hey readers.

Sorry for the long absence. I have been focusing on my fiction writing for a while now and, as a result, I sort of forgot this blog even existed. Now that I recall this, I fully intend to write up some new posts (since I have a few Good Shows posts that are long overdue).

I will say that this blog won’t exclusively be about reviewing good TV shows or books any longer. I still intend to do that since, well, I spend a lot of time thinking about old TV shows and reading books that it takes up a large amount of what I talk about. I will also be talking more about writing since I have been taking it very serious as of late and it might be of interest to the tens of readers out there looking at this.

Next post I plan on releasing tonight or early tomorrow concerning Daria since I mentioned I would talk about that a LONG time ago and never did. I do have a lot of things to say about it so that is something to look forward to.

While you wait for that, please enjoy something completely different: a bunch of Corgi puppies.

I hope you enjoyed that. Keep an eye out for the new posts coming up.

Review: American Gods

American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is probably my second favorite book by Neil Gaiman. It’s a really good book, with only a few nitpicks that prevent it from being perfect.

The story is about a man called Shadow who gets out of prison only to find his wife has died. He then meets a man named Mr. Wednesday (people who know a bit about Norse mythology should be able to guess who this guy is) who recruits him to join in a war of old gods vs. new modern "gods".

It’s a neat story that had some good twists I didn’t see coming (there’s one memorable one about 2/3 of the way through the book where after you find the twist, you find that the hint for it was so obvious that you can’t IMAGINE how you missed it, though pretty much everyone I know who HAS read the book didn’t pick up on it until the Reveal).

There’s a lot going on in the book and, I have to say, some of my favorite parts of the book were the scenes at the end of each chapter which didn’t follow Shadow, but showed what some of the other gods or minor characters are doing in the present, or showed events in the past which explains how the gods came to America. It gives a good sense that the world is alive and most of those chapters are fascinating. In a lot of cases, I found what was going on in those side stories more interesting than what Shadow was doing at the time in the main plot. There are a lot of subplots which are interesting and even though there is a lot going on, it’s never overly confusing or contradictory. In fact, I found all the subplots pretty easy to remember and keep track of throughout, which is something I sometimes have trouble with in other books (usually epic fantasies).

There are a few nitpicks I have with the book, mostly that 2/3 of the way through the plot kinda drags for a short amount of time before events kick off the climax. It wasn’t a long enough lull that it made me feel bored or annoyed enough to put down the book, but I did kind of notice it slow down a bit before the ending really starts to kick in. Also, while many of the gods and other characters were facinating, at times Shadow seemed kinda…bland to me at first. I ended up warming up to him a lot by the end of the book, but for the first half of the book, there are periods of time where he doesn’t seem to have much of a personality.

But those are minor complaints. I’ve reread this book several times and I still really enjoy it. It’s a fantastic book and the setting is fascinating. It’s probably my personal favorite urban fantasy book (second only to another Neil Gaiman story, the Graveyard Book). If you’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book, this is a really good one to start at, especially if you love mythology or urban fantasy.

View all my reviews >>

Categories: Uncategorized