Saturday, April 29, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ Dead Hollywood Theory

Welcome to the weekend once again!

We've talked many times about Cultural Ground Zero or Dead Internet Theory in many of these spaces, but one thing we do not discuss is Dead Hollywood Theory, the theory that the former masters of our art and entertainment are not only not around anymore, but there is a constant attempt by those that remain to trick you that they in fact, are not.

One of the most recent examples of this was the revelation that Cartoon Network, once the home for children's entertainment in mass media, no longer appeals to their main demographic. In fact, children do not even watch television anymore (just as we've posited that they do not watch modern movies either) but instead stick to online spaces from YouTube to short video content on other multi-billion dollar sites, but none of these things are run by Hollywood. No, not at all. Oddly enough, it appears that their only audience is a quickly shrinking chunk of the cohort that gave them attention as children. All these old industries are dying.

The reason Hollywood and every other ancient industry keeps sticking to reviving old IP is because they only know how to scrapie for money from the old audience they still have: Millennials who demand constant updated moral revision to their sacred texts, thereby refreshing the old scripture of their youth. They have no new customers coming in.

What do I mean? I mean the fact that the average viewer of the Cartoon Network television station for children, is now nearly 30 years old. Believe it or not, this is the reality we live in now.

And this is their daytime audience, the time when the majority of that age demographic are at work or indisposed with real life activities. Even there they overwhelm the children audience.

This doesn't even mention the recent revelation that Cartoon Network is also expanding their Adult Swim block (a block that has been around since Millennials were children) up to 8pm and into Primetime viewing. In other words, they are catering to adults now, not children. This revelation raises a lot of questions about the maturity level of the content on the network being so much lower than when they were for children, but I digress. Just like the comic book industry, they have given up on growth. All that remains is a slow circling of the drain until death.

But this is not the reason for today's post.

I only bring that up as an example of a wider trend currently occurring. There is an effort among those in charge to puff their chests and pretend the emperor's clothes are not only spotless, but grander than they've ever been before.

Did you know how much of what Hollywood puts out is actually fake? How much of their advertising is a misfire, how much of their revenue is misreported, how much of their streaming watch stats are absolutely botched?

It turns out, nearly all of it. Not only that, but their self-imposed feedback loop of egoism and advertising dollars thrown into the furnace of their own delusions has lead them into a spin cycle into irrelevance. Cartoon Network isn't the only old relic of Cultural Ground Zero that is little else but a husk for a generation that has nowhere else to turn to.

Hollywood is dying. Technology is changing, but so are audience's tastes, and it is all thanks to a system that has taken to chasing its own tail than engaging with whatever dwindling crowd still gives them attention. It's all fake.

Check out the above video to see just how artificial modern Hollywood is and how bad things really are there. It should also tell you just how little it provides what the audience wants. They aren't actually catering to anyone, just indulging in mindless egoism in their own shoddily constructed mirror. Forget Dead Internet Theory (which is quickly proving itself real with events like this), let us instead see this as proof of Dead Hollywood Theory.

The old ways are ending. It is time to prepare accordingly.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Coming Soon ~ The First Kickstarter!

Find it Here!

You might have been wondering why it's been so quiet around here for awhile now. Well, now I can finally let that cat out of the bag: the reason is because I've been finishing off preparing my upcoming crowdfund campaign! This is the first one I've ever done myself and it's going to be quite the experience.

As for the subject, well, if you received the recent newsletter then you might already know. Next week I'm launching a Kickstarter to release the entire Gemini Man series onto the world. The main goal is to commission a cover for an omnibus-like collection of the trilogy. It will be in a magazine-style. As for the books themselves, they're all completely edited and done and with covers of their own. The third book never had a cover, but I commissioned one from the talented Manuel Guzman who I hope will be able to complete a cover for the full trilogy if the goal is hit.

Speaking of goals, there will be stretch goals. Included are potential new covers for the first two books in the series as well as a new coda and stories to help wrap up the series further and stuff this complete volume with even more material for you, the reader.

Basically this crowdfund exists to both satiate old readers who never got to complete the series as well as newcomers who wish to jump right in. Either way, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. This is going to be quite a ride, so hop on. The campaign launches next week!

I would talk more about it, but I not only just sent out a newsletter with details, but I've also just set up a new Substack specifically to make it easier to put out updates on these subjects and projects sooner. Mailerlite was a bit clunky to use, and not very good for readers who didn't want to keep checking their emails, so hopefully the Substack will be more to your liking!

Once again, I apologize for the lighter blog for the past month, but I hope you see just why that was the case. We are currently setting up and ready to launch many new things around here. Hopefully this update was to your satisfaction!

Thank you for your patience, and I will see you again very soon. I'm still kind of a bit winded from all the recent activity. A lot of new experiences one after the other.

Anyway, have a good rest of your week! Good things are on the way.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ Old Internet Tales

Hello! Good to see you again. I'm sorry for the silence for the past week, but I've been working very diligently on finishing off the Gemini Man trilogy and preparing for the crowdfund and some stuff in real life has also taken priority. It's sure going to be nice once this hill has been climbed, I can tell you that much!

So, today I wanted to share with you this little nugget from a forgotten era of Gen Y internet history, but before it got defined by what it is now. The subject is early YouTube and the wild west days of the internet; the topic is an early internet series known as Captain S. No, not Captain N: The Game Master, and not the web comic Captain SNES, but nearly work from the now defunct ScrewAttack (who also had another little series called the Angry Video Game Nerd), itself a relic of the way things were before everything became corporatized and stock.

Captain S was an early attempt to create a TV series on a much smaller budget with a bit of a quirky idea. Think old early 1990s series like Saved By the Bell or Full House mixed with the game hopping adventures of the Captain N: The Game Master cartoon, and in a strange rubber band reality where the console wars are eternally stuck in 1990 (though the games themselves can be from later years) and you might be able to guess what they were attempting. It's worth seeing, if only for the fact there is nothing really like this made anymore, and couldn't be without too much winking irony or intrusive computer effects. They don't make them like this anymore.

It is also nice hearing from a member of a younger generation who doesn't have quite the same context for why things were what they were and has to puzzle it out himself. Again, it really highlights how much has changed, even when it is difficult to understand just how much it has at times. The old internet is gone, but it can never really be replaced.

So check out the above video and immerse yourself in the way things were once done and learn what we might have tomorrow. It's only by learning from the past that we can truly grow, after all. Captain S seems to highlight exactly this lesson.

Perhaps I keep looking this stuff up because of how stock and standard so much of our climate of art and entertainment has become, but you will note how different the expectations and view of the world was back before it all was poisoned with bitter irony and an overwhelming sense of self-hatred that permeates everything now. Despite how silly it might be, there is still something to be gained from even this. There is always something to be gained from the past, whether we like it or not. No matter how much we might dislike it--that is never going to change.

Thanks for reading and I will see you again next time! Hopefully by then I will have some good news to share with you. Until then, have a good spring. The cold has finally departed and the warmth is here. Enjoy it until the summer screw it up!

BONUS Video: The same creator also made a video tracing the early days of the Nostalgic Critic. The perfect irony of a nostalgic look at a nostalgic character is interesting enough, but it is another look at just how different the early days of internet video making really was compared to now. It was a whole different world--before it went insane.

Have a good weekend! Stay safe and I will see you next time. By then I will have much more to share with you, God willing!

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Swords & Maidens Livestream!

I hope the spring has treated you well. I've been a bit busy dealing with personal matters recently, but I do have something to share. It's a pretty fun little tidbit, and an update!

As for the tidbit: A bunch of the authors involved in the exciting Swords & Maidens anthology were recently on the Indie April Author Livestream run by Periapsis Press to talk about the new book. The PP channel contain an author livestream where writers get together to talk about their tales with the audience, and this one was rather stacked!

For two hours you can hear them discuss the creation of their stories in the anthology and the process behind what drove them to write. I highly recommend watching the entire piece as it is very informative and quite the good time, especially for those who enjoy learning about the creative process. I would also recommend the anthology itself, and not just because I am in it, but because it is legitimately good. I'm reading through the full thing right now and having a great time.

You can watch the full interview here:

Before you ask the question: no, I was not able to attend the livestream. However, some discussion of my story is included regardless. Thanks to the others for pulling up my slack! Quite the talented bunch was gathered for this anthology.

If you wish to know more about my story in Swords & Maidens, I already wrote more extensively about it here. Suffice to say, it is still one of my favorites I've written so far. If you haven't read "Judgement Sun" yet, now is your perfect chance!

I should also thank the readers once again. Everyone who has read "Judgement Sun" has had very kind words for it, and I very much appreciate the feedback. Please be sure to leave a review if you have read the anthology and let everyone know. The people behind the book and newer potential readers would really appreciate it!

In other news, I am halfway through my final edit sweep of the three Gemini Man books. After I am done I will be creating a crowdfund campaign specifically for the best possible covers for you, the readers, to have. It will hopefully be up sooner than later, but with all the chaos going on recently it might suffer a delay. We'll see. Nonetheless, it is three complete books (an entire trilogy) coming very soon for your reading enjoyment. I am very excited to get these out. The only question remains is how to exactly tackle a campaign. I still have my work cut out for me.

At the same time, I do have other projects on the way, including a brand new series I've already started and need to get back to. I'll say more about that when the Gemini Man books are finally in the rearview mirror, but for now I want to concentrate on getting these done and in the best quality possible. These have been years in the making, from my earliest publishing days. I thank Silver Empire (RIP) for giving me the chance to write these books, but Heroes Unleashed lives on regardless with new books from different writers currently in the pipeline. It was, and remains, quite the interesting project. If the universe interests you, I would suggest contacting Morgon and Russell Newquist about contributing. It is not as difficult as you might think, and you might have a very interesting idea that might not fit anywhere else in your plans. Either way, the option is there.

As for the crowdfund, if you have anything you would specifically like to see in it, be sure to let me know. I have never done one of these before, so knowing what the audience wants ahead of time does a lot of good for the final product. Reminder: these three books are completely done and edited. I just need to get them out to you, the reader. That means it is up to you to let me know how you would like to receive and read them. It is all about making it easier for the reader, after all. NewPub counts on us to succeed.

That is all for today! Have a good week and I will see you next time. There is much more to come, and some very cool surprises. I can't wait for you to see them.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ Anime AD1999

Welcome to the weekend! Hopefully you're having a good one.

This above video was posted on Twitter just a few days ago, found on a VHS tape from 1999. It really shows you the different about how things were back then versus how they are, especially anime. They were also advertised much differently, as well.

For those unaware, anime was known as the alternative underground option that was sold on hardcore action and adventure and the weird. Throughout the '90s, thanks to companies like Streamline Pictures, ADVision, and Manga Entertainment, anime quickly became the source of bizarre, wonderful, new worlds, as the mainstream western industry was slowly being swallowed up by the changes brought on by the ACT and the streamlining of animation as safe, corporatized, edutainment product. Even by 1999, anime hadn't fully broken out in the West, but it was on the cusp, as the video shows. People wanted actual variety.

This was still the time period where there was a sizeable audience for animation aside from those wanting "comfy" shows where nothing happens and everyone learns a Captain Planet-style lesson at the end. This was all that existed even though viewers still had a hunger for wonder. They still do, but it's not as obvious today was it was then. Back then the western industry's take on animation was completely one note and harmful to creativity. It led to the dire state of things today.

At the time, animation itself was caught in a false dichotomy between "kid" and "adult" instead of just being a medium to translate ideas and new worlds. It was not really treated as a place of possibilities, and it still isn't today. This shallow dichotomy only worsened over the years to the point where now Adults primarily watch programming for Kids, and Kids primarily watch programming for adults . . . if they watch modern western media at all. It has gotten that broken over the years. This is what decades of letting a problem fester instead of addressing it does.

You didn't read that wrong. The majority of people watching the network where the material "isn't made for them" but for children, are nearing middle age. Children are no longer watching.

This comes hot on the heels of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block now taking over all of the prime time slots on the channel. This is a channel on its death bed. Children no longer watch television, never mind cartoon channels. All that remains are adults who want to watch children's programming (ostensibly) aimed at them instead. So children are consumed in the once adult internet and adults are consumed in the once childish network. Though CN still is kid focused in their material, it is just adults wanting to watch Captain Planet-level material instead of demanding more things in the vein of Gargoyles or even old HBO fare like Spawn, something that could be built on. They want children's programming, for whatever reason. This is a weird backwards mentality currently dragging the whole industry down and keeping anything original from being made. Eventually the independents will be all that is left. The mainstream did this to themselves

The above world of 1999 isn't around anymore. It's trapped in the same cliché product mill that things like Isekai are currently trapped in. There is no attempt to reach wider audiences or try new things. There isn't even an attempt to do justice to old things. It's just the same things rehashed over and over again to dwindling audiences. The only animation trying anything at all in the vein of what used to exist, are independent creators. The mainstream has decided up is down, down is up, adult is childish, childish is adult, and everything is backwards, and the people still there, what little remains, likes it that way. There is a reason these industries are only shrinking and dying: there is no growth here. There is no future down this road.

Anime's obsession with "comfy" also exists, but at the very least they are trying things like the new ONA idea to bring back some of that wonder again. There are still some new projects being attempted. They have not completely given up like the West has. There is a reason Japan has consumed the West in their animated and comic book mediums, and isn't just because Japan is better at it. It is because the West has given up entirely. Hopefully we will be able to right the ship sooner than later, but it will only happen in the underground. The mainstream West is done.

All that is left are the mavericks. Be sure to seek them out and support them when you can! That is where the future lies.

That's it for this time! Have some more promos, this time from 1997, to tide you over. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Silence & Starsong #1 Signal Boost!

Find it Here!

Here is a new release you might have missed. Though it just released today it has already gotten quite the early buzz for those looking for more in the way of wonder stories.

For those unaware, there has a bit of revolution in recent years with the explosion of NewPub. Whereas the scene before the advent of ebooks was choked by a small cadre of publishers pushing a very narrow version of what they deemed acceptable to audiences, it is now a landscape of constant new and fresh ideas designed to entertain the reader with beauty and truth. That most definitely isn't what one could say about the scene beforehand.

One such example is the new magazine, Silence & Starsong, the newest creation hoping to reunite readers with that lost era they never really knew.

Here is the description:

The inaugural issue of Silence and Starsong Magazine contains stories in a variety of genres from science fiction and horror to fantasy and action/adventure. There are authors you already know and love as well as promising newcomers. All share a common goal: to inspire wonder and awe through stories of high strangeness and other modern fairytales for grown-ups.

A Matter of Honor by Jason McCuiston

Decades of religious war have forced friends and foes under one roof for the night. Will bonds of friendship and fragments of a common faith be enough to protect them from a supernatural enemy?

A Wanderer of Ur by Gaston Nerval

Long ago, much more easily did strange beings pass through the veil between earth and heaven. Thark ventures into the wilderness, seeking out the terrors that cause the cities to tremble.

Archangel by Frederick Gero Heimbach

American missile silos promise annihilation by the heat of a thousand suns. In Czarist Russia, however, even more sinister weapons lurk beneath the ocean.

The Two Godly Fishmongers: A Tale of Strange Providences by Kevin White

In Merrie Olde England, two feuding fishmongers encounter a strange providence that takes them beyond their earthly sphere. As they break from their everyday affairs will they also break off their quarrel?

Free Lunch by S. Kirk Pierzchala

Sally knows that the most crucial part of dealing with the uncanny is: don’t eat mystery food. Free meals may have strange strings attached.

Have Ye Offered Unto Me by Zachary Grafman

The day-to-day life of an academic is accompanied by worries that seem mundane to most of us. Yet, what is discussed in the lecture hall or inscribed in dusty tomes, does not always remain in the realm of speculation.

The Gamer by Nathan Karnes

The gamer had frequented dull locales in the past, but rarely so mundane as this. This was dangerous. In his profession it was almost guaranteed that something exciting would happen about the same time that he carried out his business.

The Secret of Phelim Darke by S. Kirk Pierzchala

All the gurus will say that “communication is key” for married couples. For some couples, however, the secrets between them are almost beyond imagination.

The Shadow of the Stain by Patrick Lauser

Two sisters discover the heavy cost that comes from deeds carried out in secret. What’s done in the dark will inevitably be brought into the light.

Hidden Empire by T.R. Alexander

In the world of espionage and counterintelligence, the men who secretly guide the ships of state will take whatever advantages they can get. When Joseph Cartwright is dispatched to CIA headquarters, he discovers just how far the agency is willing to go.

You can find the first issue of Silence & Starsong here!

It is always good to see a new project come out of the gate that would not have been possible even a handful of years ago, and it is even better to see it do so well. Be sure to check this one out and keep an eye for more in the future.

There is a lot more to come, believe me!

Monday, April 3, 2023

Story Sheets: "City Eater"

Welcome to Holy Week! I hope you're having a good spring so far. Let us help make things a little warmer for you on this Monday. It is time for a new Story Sheets! We haven't had one in a bit. Strap in, because this one is a ride.

It is hard to believe I've been published and publishing for so long and yet I have yet to get tired of it. Writing stories is simply one of the few things that make me feel whole when I engage in the process of doing so, and even now I am grateful to still have new ideas pumping out of my brain to share with readers years after starting. It's been a good run so far, and it doesn't seem likely to stop anytime soon. I am certainly thankful for that.

Trying new things, and old things in new ways, remains as fun and engaging now as it was when I began. This includes everything from blog posts to stories. Writing doesn't just encompass one thing or style, it is the entire enchilada.

It goes without saying at this point that there will be story spoilers in this post. There usually are. I can't quite talk about today's story itself otherwise. So please, go read "City Eater" in Sidearm & Sorcery Volume Two (and please leave a review!) before engaging with the subject of today. Even Bryce Beattie, the editor of said anthology, stated it is the best thing I've ever written. That is quite the high praise! Go see what he could possibly be referring to for yourself! There are even 16 other great stories to immerse yourself in, as well.

I should also mention some spoilers of my book Y Signal is also going to follow. It is kind of unavoidable, in this case. I can't really talk around it if I want to discuss this subject. Y Signal has a lot to do with "City Eater."

Let us now get into today's subject.

When I first wrote Y Signal, it was to try and capture that rapidly disappearing memory of time erased by an aged population engaging in revisionism of its failed past that did not lead to a glorious utopic future. '90s nostalgia, at this point, is a weapon from those at the top of the social ladder lying to you about what it was like using clichés and fashion from an era that was nothing like it actually was. I've written about this before. Material such as Jonah Hill's Mid-90s movie also presents a different world than many of us alive then actually lived in. If you want to see an accurate (if not still goofy and exaggerated) view of what post-Gen X, pre-Millennial childhood was, I suggest watching the movie Camp Nowhere. There is a reason none of the people trying to sell you the '90s today look anything like that movie. They do not want you to remember how different it really was.

But I digress. This piece isn't really about Y Signal, but the creation of that story is why "City Eater" exists in the first place.

The original goal of Y Signal was to preserve that cohort of kids, that eye in the cultural storm, when everything appeared to be going right. It was to counteract the lies attempting to destroy something special to a certain group of people. There is truth, myth, and falsehood, to this time I portrayed, but it is better to be portrayed at all as opposed to the dishonest way those in control of our poisonous pop culture frames it today. Everything else from Y Signal rolled out of the desire for honesty. Hopefully you think the same.

I mention Y Signal, because it wasn't an idea that just sprang fully formed when I wrote that piece on the blog a couple of years ago. This story has been an idea rattling around in my brain since I was in high school, back when no one else seemed to notice the things being changed and lost in real time around us. No one cared at the time that things were falling away, but now they miss them. Many of those lost in nostalgic fog today were the same ones who desperately wanted to escape those times back when they were modernity. The problem is that we never did understand what it was being lost then, and we're trying to preserve the wrong things, even now.

Y Signal is related to "City Eater"

Now let us get into how Y Signal relates to today's topic. As said before, spoilers for both are to follow. You have been warned more than once! Proceed at your own discretion.

I won't beat around the bush in case it wasn't obvious enough from reading it: George from Y Signal is the main character in "City Eater." I wouldn't have used the same name for the character otherwise, trust me. There is a very good reason for him being the main character, though it ties in with everything that both Y Signal and "City Eater" are really about.

For those who read Y Signal, you more or less know what happened to Ray and Andrew, since they are the main focus of the book, but Danny and George's future after the story's events are a bit up in the air. That was intentional in the frame of the book, but the characters themselves I wanted to cover again. I will eventually bring Danny back, but his future is a bit more complicated to discuss than the other three were. George's future is pretty much encapsulated in the events of "City Eater" especially with the ending reaffirming who he really is. In a sense, this is a sequel to Y Signal, though it doesn't need to be seen that way to engage in what happens.

If you are worried about this all being continuity heavy, don't. I always make sure every story I write is standalone enough that anyone can get it on their own without needing full context. Besides, just about everything I write solely under my own name is related somehow, even distantly. Connections exist, but they are not mandatory to understand anything. You can engage in the stories how you prefer to engage in them.

In this case, I wanted a story reflecting the difference between the world someone like George grew up in contrasted to the one that exists today. It wasn't quite the world promised us back in the day, remember. If you think back to George's fate in Y Signal, he didn't exactly leave the story on the best terms with his friends or his hometown. He didn't lie when he said he would never go back to Burroughsvale, though he didn't really accept any of what happened either. Someone who grew up when kids like that were around would never have fully absorbed it. They were not spiritually prepared for such a thing. George clearly compartmentalized the events and threw it to the back of his mind as a bad childhood game gone wrong. He had to. That isn't too uncommon with my more nihilist generation. I know plenty of people who still do that today. The past was bad, even what you half-remember, and is best left ignored.

But ignoring truth has consequences, and not always in obvious ways. Just as it did in Y Signal, so too does it happen in "City Eater" as well.

George was the closest to a materialist of the four boys, and the events of Y Signal (of which he was only directly involved for a little bit, mind) only reinforced his negative views of the supernatural. So it would then make sense why after years of ignoring the real world just outside of his perception that he should be faced with dealing with it again. Now it has invaded and taken over all aspects of his very life. But it isn't just his own life he has to worry about . . .

One obvious change from those old days is that our modern age is much more supernaturally focused than the 1990s ever were. The weirdness, the magic thinking, the esoteric spell enchantments you see from crazed mental patients and celebrities in the news, and in institutions like CERN, have been a huge mindset shift since those old simpler days. In essence, the world George could ignore back when he was a kid is now being thrust into the forefront everyday. It can no longer be avoided. Even someone like him will eventually have to face the truth.

And that is what "City Eater" is about.

The titular City Eater itself is a concept I thought up a long time ago, and tried using once in a story a friend and I were planning to co-write back in college. That project didn't go anywhere, and was scrapped at the time, but the "monster" (if that's what you call it) stuck around in my head for years afterwards.

I also wanted to explore the spiritual evils of the city. You see a lot of stories about small towns in media about how the small-minded bigots are insane and scary and will summon demons to keep out the city slickers. You also see plenty of stories about the living purgatory of suburbia about how conformity will destroy your unique identity with sameness. Basically, only urbanites have it well off among the lot. Everyone else in the world is crazy.

That is where I asked the question: But what about cities? 

Why don't we scratch under the surface a little. What sort of monsters dwell in cities, and would you even notice any if you came across them? The City Eater exists in the cracks, the screaming cacophony, and the dirtiness, of an urban landscape of people who see most others outside themselves as objects and obstacles to get ahead. You are as alone in a crowd as you are in rows of similar houses or out in the cornfields. Probably more so, in some ways. I don't intend to say this is the obvious or end state of modern city life, just to portray that its horrors can extend beyond getting mugged or shot by a gang banger. There is more hiding under the noise.

This hard urban modernity is reflected in the relationship between George and his family. His son, especially, dealing with the ubiquitous nature of the modern internet shows how strange things are now compared to where we were even a quarter of a century ago. Who else, after all, would listen to an online avatar of a schizo pink rabbit VTuber who regularly discusses conspiracies and weird internet lore? Yes, that is who that animated character that George's son is listening to at the start and end of the story is based on. The point is that this is a much different world than the one of even a few decades ago, and it's one we still don't really understand ourselves. This is where the City Eater is able to slide in and gnaw on our insecurities and spiritual blindness for nourishment itself. We don't see anywhere near as much as we think we do.

To be frank, while there is much good and bad to found in the way things are now (and neither do I think the past was perfect, as Y Signal will show you) I do feel as if we are on the cusp of something truly horrific that we, like George, have trained ourselves to not be ready for. Much of "City Eater" comes from that feeling of dread and uncertainty permeating everything today. It is that idea that we are going to miss the obvious because our mental frames are still couched in bad ideas and dated thought processes that cannot keep up with the way things are now. We still insist that Progress is real, it is the only thing that spurs us on, even when everyone alive today will outright admit that it does not. This isn't sustainable.

There is a storm brewing out there, and eventually we aren't going to keep pretending it's not, especially when the downpour breaches the open windows we have left ajar. Whatever is going to end up happening sooner than later will be far worse than we can even imagine. Here's hoping that future doesn't come to pass.

Of course, none of this matters if the story isn't entertaining, and I would be remise not to mention that it is influenced by the likes of classic "siege" stories like Assault on Precinct 13 or Rio Bravo. In fact, it is an extension of those, as by this point the threat actually is entirely supernatural without any ambiguity like said former film hinted at. This follows the decay of modernism I mentioned above to its natural endpoint, showing just how far we have come, or haven't, since the old west. It is now a siege on reality itself.

This time the siege is centered on an entire family in a modern city that might not be quite what they thought it was. In this case, I tried to explore what relationships might be in such a situation, and how technology could be used against them instead of the obvious positive it is always shown as being. It's actually quite a lot easier to show than one might think. Tech hasn't really changed as much as we believe it is, in fact it can leave us far more vulnerable to attack, as you can see for yourself in the story. Though I would think the tremendous growth of AI photos and video should show just how fake the internet actually is, and is about to increase even more. Soon enough, reality itself won't be so easy to pick up from the digital bits on your screen.

At the end of the day, however, I wanted to write a modern Weird Tales story. I should clarify: I wanted to write a story that the Weird Tales magazine of the classic era would run if it were around today. This doesn't mean a modern subversive story with 1930s trappings, or an upside down "I hate normies! Weird people rule!" postmodern take on the situation, either. The only difference is the time period portrayed, but otherwise I think it nails that old school weird feel in a modern setting. The weird is still with us, after all. It isn't going anywhere just because we ignore it. Though I suppose you could also say that this is also evident in the story itself.

As a consequence, "City Eater" is one of the longest short stories I've had published by someone else. I can't quite get that Weird Tales vibe without getting somewhere in the same ballpark of length they did, even if doesn't reach some of the longer lengths the magazine was known for in their actual serials. Thankfully the editor, Mr. Beattie himself, was perfectly fine with that. Now you can engage in the entire tale for yourself without nary a content trim to be found.

It was a blast to write, and I am glad its reception has been as warm as it has been. I hope you had a good time with Sidearm & Sorcery Volume Two. If so, the writers and editor would very much appreciate you leaving a review. They help more than you might think!

Thank you for taking your time to not only read the story but spend some time reading my explanation for its existence here on Wasteland & Sky. I wouldn't be able to do anything at all like this if it weren't for those readers like you who keep reading what I put out. It truly is a blessing being able to do this in the first place.

Stay tuned for more stories in the future. This isn't close to the last one I have scribbled down, it is just the latest to find its way out there for your enjoyment. I guarantee there are many more on the way and in the pipeline right now.

Remember to keep your eyes open. You never know what might be watching in the dark, or waiting in the morning light for the night to pass. Anything is possible!

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Weekend Lounge ~ Lackadaisy

Today I just wanted to share a quick project for you. This is an animated pilot called Lackadaisy, an animated pilot that takes place during prohibition era St. Louis, starring quite the cast of characters. One glimpse of this and you'll be able to see: Animation isn't dead.

Somewhere between Don Bluth and the Disney Afternoon, Lackadaisy aims a bit heavier than how artificial the medium has become, but still manages to try for an All Ages approach. Thing is, All Ages used to mean a different thing before the ACT got involved and splintered what the industry was even able to be.

It's only a half hour of your time, and down completely independent, so be sure to give it a shot. At this point, it should be obvious to anyone that the mainstream has no interest in anything aside from the same degrading formula they have stuck to for decades now. Anything outside of that would seem like a breath of fresh air, even more when it's quality like this.

As we've been saying in the PulpRev for years, any change that is going to happen will come from outside the system. We have to explore new frontiers.

It is the only way forward.

That's all for this time. April is finally here, and warmer weather is just around the bend. Have a good weekend and I will see you next time!