Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Shinobi III: One of the Best Video Games Ever Made



It has been a while since a video game post. Strap yourselves in because this week I'm gonna talk about something cool. The originator of '80s cool: Ninjas.

Coming back to the subject of video games, I once again turn to the classics. This time I want to talk about the Shinobi series, particularly the best and most underrated entry in the franchise. This is about Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master.

Sega has dropped the ball on many of their classic series since leaving the hardware market, but few did they let down more than this one. Essentially huge in the arcades, Master System, and the Genesis/Mega Drive, this series was well known in the early '90s. Shinobi stars a mysterious ninja named Joe Musashi as he saves the world from demonic beasts and beings who threaten the innocent and hope to drag the world into Hell.

This is actually the last game in the series starring Joe as future entries would star different characters unrelated to the original protagonist (though one game starred his father) and they went on to have different focuses in gameplay and atmosphere. But the original series peaked with Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master. And it was quite the peak.


What makes Shinobi III (Super Shinobi II in Japan) so different from the rest of the series, and in my opinion puts it far above the others, is a combination of factors from the atmosphere, controls, and level design. There isn't really another game like this one, and most Sega fans go for the much stiffer and overly difficult Revenge of Shinobi instead, so it isn't really given its due. But it deserves so much more.

The first is how good the atmosphere is. It captures the solitary feel of a lone man out to stop a malevolence just out of sight of the normal world. The story is essentially about Joe Musashi finally cornering the last of his ancient enemies all alone on an abandoned island that houses dilapidated military bases, buried experiments, and enemies hidden in plain sight. It feels like an endgame for a ninja. This entry is very quiet in its mood with ninjas flipping and jumping everywhere with sudden spurts of violence punctuating the empty spaces and culminating in a final battle that is out of this world.

I'm not sure how to describe how this game makes you feel like a ninja better than any other does. You're not out in the open like Ninja Gaiden. You're not anime edge cool like the 3D Shinobi games or Naruto. You're not immortal or overly powered like every other '90s action series. You're the embodiment of every cool 80s ninja piece of fiction: you have the tools but you're still not invincible.

Shinobi III comes together with its aesthetics to make you feel like a warrior, and a cool one, but not a ridiculously over the top one. Of course you still ride horses, wall jump, throw projectiles, and surf, like the best '90s games, but the context you do it in makes all the difference.


The controls too are really tight. The Sega Genesis had a disadvantage over the Super Nintendo in that it only had three face buttons (later six, but it was too late to make a difference for most gamers) to the SNES's select button, four face buttons, and two shoulder buttons. This meant a lot of games shared between the systems needed control adjustments for players. Sega's first party games rarely suffered from the problem and Shinobi III is one that excelled with only three face buttons.

For the most part.

Joe can jump, throw kunai, and use ninja magic (ninpo) as his base attacks. He can also run, jump kick, high jump, throw a wheel of kunai, slash his katana, wall jump, and block attacks. He does all this with only three buttons. The amount of variety is insane and allows you to deal with enemy encounters in a variety of ways--such as trying a no kunai run for extra points and a high score or learning how to use invincible frames with the running attack or attempting to combo enemies and juggle your position with jump kicks. There is a lot to do and far more than any previous Shinobi game or ninja game period.

Of course this also comes with a downside. Because of the limited button real estate you can't always do what you want without inputting the wrong command. For instance, the katana is short range and requires being close to use, but it deals FAR more damage than throwing a kunai does. Risk Vs. Reward. But they are mapped to the same button. You can only use the katana if you are right beside an enemy or out of kunai altogether which can sometimes lead to the wrong attack being used. And there is no option to change the controls to change the mapping. They are always tied to the same button.

Late ports like the 3DS version allowed players to remap throw kunai and katana to different buttons which makes accidentally using the wrong one impossible, but the base Genesis game gives no option. It's quite annoying to lose out on bonus points because the wrong attack came out.

The high jump is also finnicky, requiring precise timing to master and makes a late stage level much harder than you'd think at first, but that's true for a lot of old platformers. It's about skill and mastering the controls. Once you do you'll hardly notice the timing, and it will become like second nature. There is just a learning curve to using it.

Nonetheless, these controls are tight.


The level design is even better, taking the player from gorgeous forests and mountains through empty plains and hidden bases in the underground to dark mansions and flying airships, and the designers take full advantage of each setting. You jump and swing through small labyrinths of metal, you platform on falling boulders, and you battle with monsters and robots that have really inventive patterns and attacks to master. These levels are tight.

The designers take advantage of advanced tactics, too. You can frequently learn to jump kick combo into hanging on the ceiling, or figure out the best places to wall jump to get better time through the levels. You can take them slowly, or learn to use the run and time your way through enemy attacks like a real boss ninja. The game rewards you for learning by making you look cool. This is key for an action game.

About the only tricky spot is, as mentioned earlier, learning the high jump, but that only really becomes necessary in the late game. By the time you get there, it should almost be second nature to have it down. If not then you can replay earlier levels until you have it down. You have much space and time to learn.

Also, the final boss is incredibly difficult compared to everything else in the game. He's not Ninja Gaiden hard (nothing in this game is) but he is an obvious spike in challenge that can frustrate with multiple forms. It did not feel like he was as fine-tuned as the rest of the game was. He is quite the beast.

But you still have to make it to him to make any complaints, so this is a minor quibble at best.


All these pieces come together to make one of the best action games of the 16-bit era. And since we're talking about the era with the two best video game systems ever made that says a lot. Shinobi III is up there with the 16-bit Mario and Sonic games, Mega Man X, Super Metroid, Contra III and Hard Corps, Rocket Knight Adventures, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Gunstar Heroes, and the other greats. If you haven't played it you really missed a gem.

It is a shame that this series was buried by Sega's incompetence, because it does deserve to be one with higher fame than it currently has. After one entry on the Saturn (with Mortal Kombat style graphics), it was resurrected on the PS2 with a 3D action game that had little to do with the originals and more to do with jumping on the Devil May Cry edge bandwagon. The sense of scale and adventure of the original games was totally lost by focusing only on combat in small arenas. After a spin-off/sequel of that game and one more sidescroller years later on the 3DS, Shinobi just vanished. It never got a Dreamcast entry like it deserved. It never got so much as a mention outside of a cameo in the last Sega racing game with the likes of Ristar and Skies of Arcadia. It was as if it just disappeared.

And maybe that's how it should be. Ninjas come and move in the shadows, disappearing when the task is done. Joe Musashi came, thrilled us all, and left back where he came from. The man did his job and vanished. Isn't that just like a ninja?

But Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master remains one of the best games ever made released on one of the best systems ever put out at the peak era of console gaming. Not even the passage of time and the forgetful game press could rob it of its title, try as they might.

Play it, enjoy it, and beat it. Shinobi III is a masterpiece.



In other news, Silver Empire has a giveaway going on for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War film. If you're into superheroes, I highly suggest checking it out. There are quite a few prizes involved! It's free so check it out.

And if you like action stories, I have one of my own. A distant planet. Dames. Gangs. Fist-fighting. Mud Men. What else could you want?

Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Ghost Still Walks ~ A Review of the First Phantom Novel by Lee Falk


This has been some time coming. I read the first Phantom novel a while ago and wanted to review it, but never quite had the chance. But since I'm currently in the middle of several other writing projects, and without the time to write a more in-depth post, I figured I should finally write about it. The book deserves the attention, especially with all the pulp talk going on.

In 2016, Hermes Press got together and decided to reprint the original 15 novels starring the pulp icon of The Phantom. For those that don't know, The Phantom is a legendary hero who operates in the fictional country of Bangalla in the deep jungle. He has no superpowers but has trained his whole life to be strong, swift, and smart, with the ingenuity of his ancestors. You see, this Phantom is actually the 21st to bear the name as it is a title that passes from father to son. This gives the impression of an immortal hero to those who whisper his name. The Phantom lineage actually goes back 400 years of men who look eerily alike. Kit Walker is the protagonist of the majority of the stories and this novel is the story of how he assumed that mantle of his ancestors.

The first book was written in 1972 based on the comic strip that started in 1936. It is difficult to tell that so much time has passed when reading this. The Phantom is actually one of the first line of superheroes that came from the pulps with the likes of The Shadow and The Spider, only he originated in comic strips.

Avon Publication decided, back in the early '70s to create a line of novels based on the character. This run lasted until 1975. They are all based on Lee Falk stories, though Falk himself only wrote the novel version of four or five of them. The rest were done by the likes of Basil Copper, Frank S. Shawn (pseudonym of Ron Goulart), Warren Shanahan, and Carson Bingham. Alfred Bester was originally approached to write novels, but passed and recommended Ron Goulart instead. While it would have been nice to see what Bester could have done, what we got was a series of high spirited adventure novels with one of the most exciting heroes of the the pulps. The Phantom translates perfectly to prose form.

This first story of The Phantom is about a boy named Kit Walker as he grows from an infant, describing his odd upbringing as a baby in the jungles of Africa to his education and budding romance of his teenage years in America, up to when he realizes it is his turn to become the legendary hero he sees in his father. As such, this is not so much a superhero novel (though there are heroics, and some excellent stories of heroes contained within) but a coming of age story that is surprisingly innocent and pure in intentions.

The story was clearly written originally in the pulp days as there are no graphic descriptions of violence or sex, there is no amorality, and the book is free from a cynical view of the world. It feels like an old pulp novel. Simply put, Earth is a place with good people and bad people, and things are better when good is allowed to roam unmolested by darker forces. Good is good; bad is bad. When he is called to do the right thing, Kit does so because of his upbringing and what he learned from his father. In the end he also makes a decision to abandon something that would personally benefit him in order to instead do what he should, and he is not rewarded in any way for doing so. This ends the story on not the chipper and irrationally optimistic view one ascribes (incorrectly) to Golden Age hero stories, but on the realization that heroism is sacrifice and bloodshed, and a battle between good and evil that will never end on this Earth. And yet the hero must keep getting up again regardless.

On a personal level, I found myself absorbed in reading this novel. Lee Falk's description of The Phantom's lineage, Bangalla's fascinating culture itself, and Kit's adventures learning to be a man, paint a vivid world of adventure where peril peeks around the corner, and good is overwhelmingly preferred to evil despite its lack of obvious material benefit. It's not a long read, but it hits quite well and is a good reminder as to why The Phantom is one of the defining pulp heroes even now so far removed from his creation. Pure heroes are hard to resist even for the most cynical human. This first book is a great origin story and place to start with the character.

Now for the negatives. I would say this revolves around Hermes Press's edition in particular. The covers are all reproductions of the original art from George Wilson, but they are rather washed out despite the great pulp-era illustrations. Another issue is the actual text is not Justified for reasons I cannot imagine. Finally, the release dates for every novel so far has been wrong and delayed from its supposed release leading me to get several of them months behind schedule. I have no clue as to why Hermes Press does these things, but they are issues and they should be mentioned. The book itself has no real negatives to it other than the short length which might perturb some.

Nonetheless it is nice to see pulp works get reissues like this. The original 15 Phantom novels are short and punchy but haven't been easily available in a long time. The character presents a moral, yet harsh, worldview of the sort modern heroes mistake for emptiness. The prose is snappy and paints quite the picture for being written in the 1970s and feel far more like the character's original 1930s origin point. There's little else to say, it is a fantastic read.

All in all, if you're a pulp or superhero fan then this is for you. Lee Falk does not let his audience down.

Recommended.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Friday



Be prepared for an awkward post. I wish I knew what my point was in writing this. For some unfathomable reason the posts I have backed up and the ones rolling around in my head just don't feel right for this week. So I'm going to go back.

Way back.

When I first started writing seriously years ago, before starting this blog or buckling down into creating stories, things were much different than they are now. This would be around 2010. Retrowave had just gotten off the ground, Superversive and the Pulp Revolution were still far off realities, certain customer movements had still not been prodded to life, the internet hot not yet become a competitor for television, and the pendulum was still swinging in one direction. Eight years is a long time, and yet so much has changed. Remember that this is the same decade we are currently in.

I first started writing because I wanted to read stories nobody was creating anymore. Heroism and villainy had been muddied up, stories of wonder were sneered at, and the types of tales that inspired me as a boy to dream had been canned for bland and safe subversion meant to dumb down tastes. Writing was always an activity I liked to do in my spare time, but I'd never taken it seriously because I didn't think I would have a way of sharing what I wrote. Remember, the indie and small pub explosion hadn't happened yet back then. My impression of a writer was the one every bad teacher foisted upon me: the tweed jacket wearing nihilist who spat on tales of wonder for the dead end of realism. It was all about "realistic" stories of pessimistic urbanites crying into their pillows about sexual dysfunction and their worthless lives. Real literature! There was no room for fun, and traditional publishing made it extra clear with the morally sick and tremendously dull door-stoppers they were putting out. So this is the climate I started writing in when I was a youngster tucking papers into binders.

But this isn't about just me. Thankfully. I'm going back further here, so bear with me.

When I was a child, I was by far the least creative among my friends. We lived to play, talk about, and absorb ourselves in adventure tales: stories off far off (and close!) places of wonder where monster and men brought terror across the land and it was up to the heroes to save it. No setting was off limit, and no one cared if there was a difference between a lightsaber or a dragon. It was all the same. I even remember one game where MacDuff and Lennox from MacBeth were involved in stopping a kidnapping that spiraled into taking down a conspiracy to overthrow the king. I didn't say we were normal kids. We were all like this. But despite all that, writing was just something I did for fun. After all, I could still walk into a comic shop or rental store to get a story I wanted and I still (somehow) had in my head that real writers didn't write that fun stuff anyway.

Things change. Rental stores came and went, comics are on the way out, no one goes to the cinema anymore, and TV cables are being cut more and more by the day. Those I grew up with didn't seem to notice. Of all of them, I'm the only one who writes or talks about this subject now even though most of us did at one point. I don't hold a grudge or say this to hold my head high, I merely point it out because things change and so do priorities and people. I started writing more because I noticed the change, and wasn't happy with it. Who would be? I know I wasn't alone in that assessment, but finding anyone who wanted to do anything about it was a fruitless endeavor. So I just started writing my silly stories and scrambled to get better.

And then something happened recently that had me rethinking everything.

On Good Friday I lost someone very important to me who really liked my little fun tales. Pray for her, please. She always pestered me for the next story no matter how much I told her it was coming. I've since been rethinking why I'm writing at all. Am I still the same boy who wants adventure, or am I a man who wants to spread that sense of wonder to others? Am I writing just to prove a point? No, that isn't it. If I wanted to prove a point I would invest in writing essays. Then I could focus on a thesis more clearly than in these posts. Writing is about connecting. I connected with her and made her day a little brighter with the story of a kid who can transform into a magical knight. Did that make it all worth it? I think it did, if even slightly.

I'm not writing into a void. There is a whole world of people hungry for wonder and adventure again. It's no longer about teenage me writing into binders and wondering if any of this is even worth it. If I stopped today, there would be many others taking up the pen regardless. Things have changed.

So now that happenings on the cultural level are improving again does this mean I can just hang it up and go back to the way things were? After all, people are very much creating stories I like again. Those that destroyed all I enjoyed as a child are now suffering heavy losses in the market and from customers who are sick of their games. Every day there's a story of someone else deciding to take matters into their own hands. Nothing is saying that I have to keep going. Surely I don't have to write the stories I want to read anymore.

But I do.

You see, the secret with writers is that they can't stop. Once you put in the time to finally get off the ground and people unrelated to you tell you you're doing okay and getting better it is already too late to pump the brakes. It's too tough to stop. I will write one thing and two more unrelated ideas will sprout up. They don't stop. I also get excited reading old authors and new works and planning how I might be able to tackle certain ideas myself. Writing is a spiderweb for flies like me. One you're in you don't get out again.

The fact of the matter is that there's still work to be done: work that probably won't ever be finished. I'm writing and editing at least three different novels and five different short stories, and awaiting on news of other projects to see where to proceed with those. I'm not at a loss of things to do. The train keeps rolling.

It is like Friday every day. I'm sure you understand my meaning. Friday is the best day of the week, just before the weekend, when anticipation of what is to come hits fever pitch and the possibilities are endless. Everything you worked toward is just ahead and waiting for you. This is the general mood. It's a great time to be doing what I'm doing.

I doubt the younger version of me could imagine quite what's going on right now. This is a whole different world now, and it's still changing.

But some things never change. Adventure and wonder still retain their timeless draw. That is a truth that will always remain the same no matter how much certain types wish to exterminate it.

Does it mean things are perfect? Not even close. There's much to work on, much to polish, much to learn, and much to do. But it's not all in vain. Eventually the weekend will be here and we can go home.

I look forward to it.



Reminder that if you join my mailing list you'll get a short story for free. This tale of a super-powered vigilante fighting dark magic can be acquired there or on amazon for a dollar. Please check it out. It was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you enjoy it just as much.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Sword & Wonder! ~ A Review of "Swordsmen in the Sky"



I've gone on about pulp many times on this blog to the point that most are probably sick of it. By now you're either well aware of how good it is or you're rolling your eyes and stubborn in your unwillingness to read anything from before 1980. Either way you've heard me bang on about it a lot. But there is one book I wanted to review to really drive home how great this old stuff is.

So here is a perfect example of what is great about those old adventure stories condensed into one tiny 200 page paperback. Released by Ace Books in 1964, edited by Donald Wollheim, cover by Frank Frazetta, and with stories by Poul Anderson, Edmond Hamilton, Leigh Brackett, Andre Norton, and Otis Adelbert Kline, this small anthology is the entire package. It is also available for cheap on amazon. If you want a good sampler of pulp's best, you can't get much better than Swordsmen in the Sky.

Here you get stories centered on the core of wonder and excitement. It is like Edgar Rice Burroughs never left us. The stories are all uniform in intent and style,  with clear protagonists and antagonists, marvelous settings and fantastical sights, and all feel as if they could have been written at the same time.

But they were not.

Whereas it is painfully easy to tell stories released in the '80s, '90s, '00s, and (especially) the '10s apart from other eras, pre-1960s fantasy all has uniform love of the good and beautiful, and hatred of the ugly and evil, with an eye on Higher Things. These works have a stronger feel of timelessness to them than stories meant to cater to current trendy lingo and political trends. Each one of these five stories was originally released between 1933 and 1951, and the near two-decade gap really doesn't show to a new reader. They all feel very much as if they could have been written specifically for this anthology. It is an impressive feat that Mr. Wollheim accomplished here.

Genre doesn't matter. Sword & Sorcery, Science Fantasy, or whatever meaningless category you want to shoehorn these stories into, is irrelevant. They are pure adventure and are focused on one thing: delighting and uplifting the audience to higher places. These were all written in the clear style and influence of Edgar Rice Burroughs which means plenty of wonder, romance, and action, to go around. This style predates any pointless genre gulags that were invented later. It's all about the action and adventure.

Enough about that. It's time to talk about the stories.

The first story is also the newest. Swordsmen of Lost Terra by Poul Anderson, released in 1951, is a story about Celtic-like tribes battling each other for supremacy in a world where the planet doesn't rotate on its axis. It eventually turns into a tale not too dissimilar from Burroughs with derring-do and evil schemes to thwart the heroes. There's also a magical (or is it?) bagpipe and more blood and carnage than you can shake a stick at. I have been repeatedly impressed with everything I have read by Mr. Anderson and am floored at how easily he could flow between meaningless genre boundaries as if they didn't (and they don't) matter. His thought process is one to consider for one writing action and adventure tales. I believe this originally ran in Planet Stories. If you like John Carter, and I can't imagine why you would't, this is for you and is a great piece to begin with.

Second in the anthology is People of the Crater by Andre Norton, from 1947. A pilot joins and Antarctic expedition during peacetime, which seems simple enough. What starts as a mere investigation soon becomes an adventure of alien technology in a forgotten world. This was the author's first published genre work and it is easy to see why she soon became as popular and beloved as she was. Even if not typical of what would make her popular, this story shows a deep understanding of the sort of romance and wonder that Burroughs perfected and illustrates perfectly why it came to dominate so much of popular entertainment over the past century. Even now so far removed from its creation this story shows just how much was lost when wonder was ejected from genre stories for "realism" and screwdrivers. They literally don't make 'em like this anymore.

Leigh Brackett's The Moon That Vanished, originally published in 1948 in Thrilling Wonder Stories, is next. It's a Venus story with plenty of action to go around! This one starts out in a dive where a man named David Heath is drunk out of his gourd and wishing he was dead. Heath has lost his love and is killing himself over it when he is given a task to guide a temple maiden and her guard to the Moonfire. The Moonfire is a place Heath had been to once before: a mysterious location that can apparently turn mortals into gods. So why didn't Heath take it for himself? Oh, you'll see. This is the best story in the collection and one of the best pulp stories I have ever read. Action, adventure, fantasy, and romance fill this story's relatively short length. There's also some terrific character development to had and an ending that is very powerful. It goes up there with Black Thirst by C.L. Moore as one of my personal favorites, and I would recommend this collection for this story alone. It's that good.

Following that comes the shortest story in the collection, A Vision of Venus by Otis Adelbert Kline, which had first been put out in 1933. I've heard this described as a slight effort, and while it does not compare with the other stories in the collection, it fits in perfectly with the purpose of the anthology. In seven short pages the author goes through every beat of a Burroughs tale filled with fantastical adventure, wonders, and romance, and doesn't miss a step. Only a professional could manage to encapsulate that much in such short a space between much longer tales. The story is what the title says: Dr. Morgan gets a vision of a far off place of fantasy beyond his world and finds something far beyond him. As a piece of adventure, this story wildly succeeds and is a perfect fit for this anthology.

Ending off is a story from the World Wrecker himself. Edmond Hamilton's Kaldar, World of Antares which came out in 1933, is an adventure like only he could do. A man named Merrick is transported to a new world where he instantly becomes leader of a race of men on a planet with multiple red moons (and one green) where Spider-Men from beyond the mountains threaten to destroy the people. He is their prophesied savior, and falls into the role in a way that surprises even him. One of the weapons Merrick uses is a sword that happens to be powered by light that destroys whatever it slices. It's a light-sword of some kind. Now that's a weapon for a pulp! The story is lightning fast with a fascinating world and a scope that only a someone like Hamilton could muster in such a short length. I was a bit disappointed that the story ended: I wanted more! As the last story here, it is the perfect choice to end the anthology.

What is fascinating about these stories is how hard they are to put in a box. I've seen some try to state that they are fantasy... until a certain magical device is "explained" and then it instantly becomes science fiction. I have seen the exact reversal applied to other stories as well. This is silly. Instead of attempting to classify and straight-jacket tales of wonder and excitement with genre labels that clearly don't fit it is easier to see that these stories are part of a tradition. These are older than John W. Campbell's influence--even the ones written when he was gate-keeping!

Here's a bit of truth: none of the stories here were advertised as Science Fiction or Fantasy. You will not find those words in any of the product descriptions for this anthology. What they are advertised as are "sword-and-wonder adventures" from "expert writers of interplanetary derring-do" which is incredibly accurate to the breathtaking tales included within. Some version of the word "adventure" is used five times to advertise this to the buying public. The only time Science Fiction appears here is in the biographical entry for Donald Wollheim. Fantasy is not used a single time. Not even as an adjective for the many uses of adventure.

So then what are these stories? Surely they have to be called something. Easy answer: they are Adventure stories. What else would they be? Action & Adventure is a genre without boundaries where any exciting thing can happen and wonder is paramount. These stories epitomize that freewheeling spirit Burroughs made his own.

Each of the five tales attempt to encapsulate big and all-encompassing themes of mystery, ineffable terror and danger, romance, wonder, adventure, and whiplash motion, all in a short length. Burroughs had attempted to plug into those gigantic feelings and notions at the same time he is looking into the face of concepts and beings way bigger than our simple small worlds. These are stories that attempt to bottle that awe and excitement for an audience that can get just as excited reading about it as the author does writing it. These are stories of the gigantic, tales that can't be contained.

And that joy is infectious.

I would be hard pressed to find anyone who read a collection like this and didn't find themselves inspired and excited by the end of it. Unless they are dead inside, or expecting more from fiction than to uplift and instill wonder, then this should brighten even the darkest cynic's day. This is exactly what pulp has always meant to do, and maybe that's why some people just don't like it. Maybe this is why they tried to bury it.

Regardless of that, Swordsmen in the Sky is one of the best and most exciting anthologies out there. If you have not these stories before, you could do far worse than reading them here. This is the type of book that could start a revolution of the imagination.

What else is reading for?

Highest recommendation.



In other news, I have released a short story for free for readers of my newsletter. It is the tale of a vigilante in a superhero world who comes across dark forces beyond powers. You can sign up and get it for free, or buy it for a buck on amazon. Your choice. Either way, thank you for reading this post and I will see you on the next one!