100 Best NES Games – Episode 2

Intro – in episode one I went over the contents of the multicart in question. In this episode we will finally get to some game play. But first let me explain the system. There a lot of games to get through, as I’ve already explained the title is misleading, and unlike other multicarts it is actually under-advertised (in name) as there are 143 games on the cart, all of them original and unique. The plan is to play each game for 15 minutes. Going in that system it will take me just under 36 hours to get through them all. Most of the RPG’s I’m not likely to invest much time in (and I’ll explain why when we get to that), and some other games I may punk out of before the 15 minutes are up. The first batch of 10 in this review are not the alphabetical firsts like the rest will be, but the 10 I am most interested in, and for these games I’ll be spending an hour on each. So without further adu, here they are.

Little Samson – to be completely honest, this is the one and only reason I was interested in getting this multicart. As far as I’m concerned this is a little Samson game with 142 bonus games thrown in. I was actually in the market for a little Samson repro when I stumbled across this cartridge. For those of you that don’t know, this is one of the most valuable licensed games for the NES (clocking in at >1k$ loose), maybe the most valuable next to Stadium Events, and it’s also one of the best on the system. Don’t let the name fool you, this is not a color dreams bible game, it’s a 100% perfect action platformer, you have 4 characters to choose from at any point in the game each with different abilities: the title character who can shoot and climb walls, a dragon who can shoot and fly for a lengthy (though limited) time, a rock monster with a very powerful punch ample health and the ability to walk on spikes without taking damage, and a little mouse that can climb walls and drop bombs. You need certain characters to get through certain spots and the mouse is almost useless because of his 2 bar health meter (at least for me at this point, I’m sure there are savants that can beat the game using primarily the mouse, but I’m not one of them). Anyway in an hour of play (which was hard to put down at that point) I made it all the way to level 4, you got to love unlimited continues (the lack of which is my main problem with video games of this era), plus it has a simple 4 character password save, and if you want to see where I left off after the hour run, plug in 5JSQ. If you don’t want to spend a grand for the game on eBay or Amazon, and don’t want to pick up a multicart, then you can play it on vizzed board. That’s where I first played it.

Kickle cubicle – Really fun puzzle game, which is in my opinion what the NES was best at. I first came across this game on a surprisingly sad Pat the NES Punk video which was inevitably pulled off YouTube because he used a song he didn’t have the rights too. After watching said video I played it on vizzed board and put it high on my wish list (I’ll still pick it up if I find it). The premise is to freeze the bad guys and kick them to make ice bridges to collect all the fruit on the level. In an hour of play I made it to level 4 of Fruit World, which is the second of 6 or 8 worlds. Oddly enough the first boss battle acts as a sort of gate keeper and is at the beginning of the second world and not the end of the first world. I think this is the first time I’ve come across this. If you want to pick up where I left off the Password is: KKKb dKCF have fun.

Contra – Well what can be said about Contra? Widely considered one of the best games on the NES, a prime example of good controls, the archetype for all “good” run and gun shooters. What I think is the most convincing evidence for why it’s so good is the price. The game is very common yet commands a 40$ price tag if you can find it, that’s because it’s the game everyone wants and few are willing to part with (supply and demand). It may be the first game I’ve ever played ever, back in the 80’s in Indonesia, where my friend had mistakenly called it “Rambo” and really this should have been the Rambo game, but what can you do. I played this game a fair amount (before I got this semi-physical copy) on vizzed board when I first got really into retro games in 2014, but never got all that far. This time though, I beat the game in about 40 minutes. Yes of course I was using the 30 lives code. Apparently according to the Ultimate NES Guide Book there is another code for unlimited lives but I could never make it work, but I guess I didn’t need too. The game is very hard (without the code) but I think that if I kept playing it enough I could probably get through it. I also plan on picking it up if I see it anywhere, because the price tag is not too unreasonable and it’s fairly important in my personal video game history. This is one to come back to many many times.

Zombie nation – A very strange game, very strange, probably the weirdest game on the cart, and maybe even the system itself. At heart it’s a bullet hell horizontal shooter, your craft (if you will) is a disembodied head that shoots projectiles from his eyes and mouth. Blowing everything up with in his path. I was getting this game confused with the homoerotic shooter Cho Aniki, but I later realized that they are not related, other than that they are both very strange shooters. Even after playing for an hour I didn’t do very good as it is quite hard: I Almost beat round 1 (level’s are called “rounds”), about half way through round 2 and 3, and barely anything in round 4. It is a good pick up and play if you only have a few minutes to game. But if you play it for a while you’re thumbs will hurt. You better belive I was listening to Kernkraft 400 while I was playing it too.

Ducktales – perhaps it was because my head was filled with scattered thoughts after watching a depressing (but very good) movie, and I seemed to be in kind of a funk, but I did not enjoy this game. In fact I only played this and the following game for 15 minutes each. It almost seems sacrilegious to give this game a negative review, Ian Ferguson (co-host of the CU Podcast along with Pat the NES Punk) rates this as his all-time favorite game, while many others have rated it quite high as well. Given all that it might be fair to give the game another shot at some point with a more focused mind and better overall attitude. I have the remastered version on the Wii U and I like that game an awful lot, but this game, with the limited lives and the goofy controls (press A then down then hold B to do the pogo) really started to piss me off after the third or fourth game over. Maybe, after giving this game an hour or two I can get a handle on it (I remember some frustration in the remastered version, even though those controls are simplified). I will probably still give this game another shot and do a comparative analysis between it and the remastered version at some point, but tonight just simply was not the night to do it.

Skate or die – this game is a little more mixed in opinion than Ducktales, and only receives 3 stars in the Ultimate NES Guide, I personally gave it 2. It suffers from the same problem as World Games. The method of playing all 5 of the different Mini games is not remotely fun or intuitive. I’d have to look up instructions on how to play, but I don’t particularly want to and really shouldn’t have to, this is one of the advantages of modern games over retro games (one of only a few I might add), they will explain how to generally play the game in the first level or two. Being a skateboarder almost 20 years ago, I can easily say that some of things you do in the game are easier to do in real life, this is especially true with the downhill race and the goofy steering controls. I wasn’t expecting Tony Hawk here of course, but it still should have been something better than this.

Casltevania – I never really played these games before, but I’ve heard much about them. A good friend of mine from college was a big fan of the series. This experience I got to say was pretty good. The whip makes for an interesting weapon and there is a variety of secondary weapons to pick up along the way. One down side though is you can’t use other acquired secondary weapons, you’re stuck with whatever until you get a new one or die, and if you’re like me you’ll probably be dyeing a lot. In one hour I was able to make it to level 3. The game is somewhat hard but the (seemingly) unlimited continues make it worth grinding away and learning the patterns to complete. If I gave this game some serious time I think I could probably get through it. The bigger down side is that there is no password save so I would have to play it a lot. Not too soon though, I have too much stuff to get through at this juncture.

Flintstones 2 – It’s a little deceiving, it’s listed on the menu as Flintstones 2, but it’s actually called “The Flintstones: the Surprise at Dinosaur Peak.” Just like Samson (a line form really good song btw) this is one of the Holy Grails of NES collecting, going for close to 900$ loose. It is believed that this game was a Blockbuster exclusive and never available for general perches. Also like Little Samson it’s an outstanding game and single handedly worth the 50$ price tag of this multicart. The game uses Barney and Fred interchangeably with the select button. Barney can climb wires and shoot a week slingshot, Fred has a club and can climb up edges of walls, and they both can duck (kind of) by putting their heads under there collars a la the show. You will need to switch often in order to progress. The game isn’t particularly difficult with unlimited continues. If I gave myself a couple sessions at a couple hours a piece I think I could beat it, and that’s something I may want to try at some point. In this one hour play through I made it to (and almost beat) level 4 (out of 6 or 8 I’m not sure).

Bubble Bobble – I’ve heard good things about this game, and while playing it I did enjoy it, a simple puzzle plat former with a somewhat simple design and cute background music. The one problem I had with the game was that it was very glitchy with partial sprites flickering across the screen especially as the action on the screen became busier. I don’t know why this is, I get the feeling that this has something to do with the cart and not so much the game itself, or maybe even the consul (remember these are all being played on the Retron 2). This is the first game I’ve played where glitches have been noticed and are to the point of making the game significantly more difficult. Truth be told, i’ve sampled other games on this cart besides the 8 listed above, and all of them have worked more or less fine. As for the game itself, as a dragon you go around blowing bubbles, at enemies, then you stomp them so they turn into candy or fruit which you pick up, there’s around 60 stages I believe, each laid out with different platform patterns. I made it to level 17 (by using some king of warp mechanism), and the password obtained is: AABBI. It’s a fun game and my type of game, and if I see it loose I might pick it up if I can figure out the glitch problem.

Tiny Toon Adventure 1 – many years ago I had a Tiny Toon game for the Genesis, and I was hopping that this might be a slimmed down NES version of that game. It is not. this is a mislabeled title, it is not the first Tiny Toon Adventure, it is Tiny Toon Adventure: Cartoon Workshop. The game is not really a game at all but an animation program, and not a great one, it’s asking too much of the system, and it’s a bit hard to understand (though there are certainly harder games to figure out). In the 15 minutes I played this one I made a suggestive video with Babs and Buster.

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Scheisskopf 88

Well, evidently I was wrong, I did not have 14 stories published last year, I actually had 15, one I did not know about. I knew it was coming just not that it had already come and went. In fact it was published on the day I sent my last new published piece post saying that I didn’t expect to have any more published in the year (go figure).

This Story “Scheisskopf 88” is my dad’s favorite story of all the ones I’ve written, and I’m sure you’ll understand why after reading it. Enjoy.

“Scheisskopf 88” | Independent Noise | Issue 1.3

The Numbers

So in closing off 2017, here is the raw data of what I’ve accomplished this year:

The Hours

  • Hours Spent Writing: 605
  • Hours Spent Reading: 561
  • Hours Spent Watching Movies: 92
  • Hours Spent Playing Video Games: 447
  • Hours Spent Video Editing: 63
  • Hours Spent Writing Music: 4

The Writings

  • Pieces Published: 14
  • New Pieces Written: 23
  • New Pieces Written (finished): 16
  • Blog Posts Posted: 26

The Books & Stories

  • Books Read: 37
  • Books Read (for the 1st time): 28
  • Books Read (on paper): 5
  • Stories Read: 163

The Movies

  • Movies Watched: 69
  • Movies Watched (for the 1st Time): 44
  • Video’s made: 18

The Collecting

  • Video Games Collected: 23
  • Vinyl Records Collected: 29
  • DVD’s Collected: 40

Explanations

Remember the hours are not 100% accurate, this post was written a few days before the end of the year, and some of the times have been estimated, however i would expect it to be 97% accurate. 

“Pieces” usually refers to either a short story or flash fiction, though it can mean an essay, a poem a novella or even a novel; it does not refer to a blog post. By finished I mean that the piece has been written and edited to the point where I can (and have) shown it to other people.

As for the goals I had set for myself and how these numbers compare with last year.

I actually did much less reading this year, about a hundred hours less in fact. This is mostly because of a large number of nights that I skipped my hour of reading before bed. Some nights because I just wasn’t in the mood, and other night because I actually would write for an hour before going to bed… which brings us to the next segment.

Every year my goal is to do about 2 hours of writing a day, this is a very heavy goal to hit though, this year (perhaps my most productive yet) I was still shy of the goal by roughly 20 minutes a day.

I spent almost no time on music this year, that will change next year… and I don’t have to do very much to do “more” … but I will… don’t worry.

This year I wanted to watch one new movie a week. I fell short of this goal, but came close with 44 new movies. If you count the all movies (both one’s I’ve seen before and ones I haven’t) then I far accessed this goal with 69 movies. I’d like to raise both numbers by a couple points next year, and as for now I see that being a likely scenario.

The only goal I wanted to cut back on was video game playing, and I am proud to say that I did. 447 hours of video game playing may seem like a lot (and it is a lot too of course) but it is still almost a hundred hours less then I played last year. Maybe if I cut back to about 400 hours that would be good, but I don’t want to cut down too much on something I enjoy.

We’ll see what happens next year. Thank you for staying with me through all the ups and downs that 2017 has thrown my way. You know I would do the same for you constant reader. Happy New Year.

Playing and Collecting (2017)

Playing and Collecting

I am a man of only a few hobbies. You can count writing as one of them if you like, but I consider it a craft, and it takes up most of the time (well a lot of the time). My “hobbies” are: Movies (which I’ve already done a lengthy update page on), Video Games, and Collecting. So new to this year of Yearly Updates I have this page consisting of lists of: Video Games Beaten, Video Games Played Heavily, Video Games Collected, DVD’s Collected, and Vinyl Records Collected. For your interest and curiosity.

Video Games Beaten:

  • Kirby’s Epic Yarn
  • Contra (with Konami Code)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD (main story)
  • Shovel Knight (Shovel of Hope campaign)
  • Shovel Knight (Specter of Torment campaign)
  • Shovel Knight (Plague of Shadows campaign)
  • Aladdin (Genesis Version)
  • Link’s Crossbow Training (all platinum several times)
  • Golf (NES)
  • Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 (100% with 7 skaters)
  • Flight iPhone (main mode and 33 of 40 challenges)

Video Games Played Heavily (Not Beaten):

  • Yoshi’s Woolie World
  • 100 Best NES Games (see ongoing review),
  • Toy Blast (on the iPhone)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD (Hero Mode)
  • Taz Escape from Mars
  • Empires and Puzzles
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • GTA Vice City

Video Games Collected

  • Yoshie’s Woolie World w/ Blue Amibo (Wii U)*
  • 100 Best NES Games (NES)*
  • Story of the Seasons: Trio of Towns (3DS)*
  • Pikmin 3 (WII U)*
  • Nintendoland (Wii U)
  • Battletoads (NES)
  • Back to the Future II&III (NES)
  • Jack Nickols’ Greatest 18 Holes Major Championship Golf (NES)
  • Othello (NES)
  • World Games (NES)
  • Dick Tracy (NES)
  • Incredible Crash Dummies (NES)
  • Three Stooges (NES)
  • Talespine (Genesis)
  • Lion King (SNES)
  • Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES)
  • Wheel of Fortune (NES)
  • Backyard Skateboarding (GBA)*
  • Charlott’s Web (GBA)*
  • Hey Pickman (3DS)*
  • Just Dance 2014 (Wii U)
  • Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze (Wii U)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U)*

DVD’s Collected

  • Amelie
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Batman the Movie
  • Beetle Bailey (the Complete Collection)
  • The Birdcage
  • Birdman: or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
  • Bullworth
  • Cheers Seasons 1-6*
  • Dick Tracy (1990)*
  • Ducktales Vol. 1*
  • Batman: The Movie
  • Batman*
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • Family Guy: Blue Harvest
  • Farce of the Penguins
  • Fraggle Rock Season 2
  • Frazier Seasons 1-6*
  • Fritz the Cat & the Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat
  • Goosebups (2015)*
  • The Great Muppet Caper*
  • Heathcliff (the Complete Series)*
  • Heathers*
  • Hitler the Rise of Evil*
  • Icons of Comedy*
  • Immortal Beloved
  • Johnny Test Seasons 1&2
  • A Million Ways to Die in the West
  • Office Space
  • Pink Panther – A Pink Christmas
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)*
  • RoboCop*
  • School House Rock: Earth Songs*
  • Sideways
  • Sour Grapes*
  • South Park Season 3
  • This Is Spinal Tap*
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • The Legend of Prince Valiant Vol. 1*
  • The VVitch*
  • The Legend of Zelda (the Complete Series)* 

Vinyl Collected

  • Benefactor by Romeo Void
  • Deathcrush by Mayhem
  • Face Value by Phil Collins
  • The Flat Earth by Thomas Dolby
  • A Flock of Seagulls (Self titled)
  • Genesis (Self titled)
  • Hello, I Must Be Going by Phil Collins
  • Hi-Infidelity by REO Speedwagon
  • Human’s Lib by Howard Jonas
  • Hunting High and Low by A-Ha
  • The Immaculate Collection the by Madonna*
  • Invisible Touch by Genesis
  • Moving Pictures by Rush*
  • No Jacket Required by Phil Collins
  • Out of the Cellar by Ratt
  • Princess’ Day by Skylark*
  • Reach for the Sky by Ratt
  • Rhythm of Youth by Men Without Hats
  • Secret by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark
  • Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go by Soft Cell
  • Transfer Affection by A Flock of Seagulls
  • Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles
  • Sign in Please by Autograph
  • Space Police: Defenders of the Crown by Edguy*
  • We Are the World by USA for Africa
  • What Up Dog by Was (Not Was)
  • Jody Watley (Self titled)
  • Tiger Tiger by Duran Duran
  • R.E.O Speedwagon (Self titled)

* = Sealed Games, Records & DVD’s, all others were used. 

Movies (2017)

New Movies Watched:

(Best to Worst)

  • The VVitch
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Brick
  • Dead Again
  • Double Indemnity
  • The End of the Tour
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • The Ref
  • A Man Called Ove
  • Batman the Movie
  • Grumpy Old Men
  • Run Lola Run
  • Fritz the Cat
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • My Daughter is Missing
  • The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat
  • Dick Tracy (1945)
  • Conan the Destroyer
  • Enter the Dragon
  • Out of Africa
  • Used Cars
  • Fando Y Lis
  • The Milky Way
  • Clue
  • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared
  • God’s Gun
  • Bulldog Drummond’s Peril
  • Time Raiders
  • Bulldog Drummond’s Revenge
  • The Pale Face
  • Genesis: A History
  • British Intelligence
  • His Private Secretary
  • Palooka
  • False Pretenses
  • Kuttsukiboshi
  • Sour Grapes
  • Doomed to Die
  • The Front Page
  • The Last of the Wild Horses (MST3K)
  • The Flying Deuces
  • 12 Monkeys
  • Swiss Army Man
  • Cocaine Fiend

Movies Watched (in order):

  • God’s Gun
  • Bulldog Drummond’s Peril
  • Time Raiders
  • Bulldog Drummond’s Revenge
  • The Front Page
  • The Pale Face
  • Grumpy Old Men
  • The Flying Deuces
  • Groundhog Day*
  • What’s Up Tiger Lilly*
  • Airplane*
  • British Intelligence
  • His Private Secretary
  • Palooka
  • False Pretenses
  • Fando Y Lis
  • The Milky Way
  • Dead Again
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • The Last of the Wild Horses (MST3K)
  • Run Lola Run
  • The End of the Tour
  • Harold and Kumar go to White Castle*
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory*
  • Cocaine Fiend
  • Who Framed Rodger Rabbit*
  • What About Bob*
  • 1776*
  • Africa Screams*
  • Airplane*
  • 12 Monkeys
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters*
  • Beetlejuice*
  • Out of Africa
  • Big Money Hustlas’*
  • The Birdcage*
  • Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance*
  • Fritz the Cat
  • My Daughter is Missing
  • 1776*
  • A Man Called Ove
  • Swiss Army Man
  • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared
  • The VVitch
  • Waking Ned Devine*
  • The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat
  • Sour Grapes
  • Christmas Vacation*
  • Batman the Movie
  • Brick
  • Dick Tracy (1945)
  • Beetlejuice*
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory*
  • Ghostbusters*
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail*
  • Ghostbusters II*
  • Double Indemnity
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show*
  • A Clockwork Orange*
  • 2001: A Space Odousy*
  • Clue
  • Conan the Barbarian*
  • Used Cars
  • Conan the Destroyer
  • Doomed to Die
  • Genesis: A History
  • The Ref
  • Enter the Dragon
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • It’s a Wonderful Life*

Readings (2017)

New Books:

(Best to Worst)

  • Hawaii by James Michener
  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashell Hammett
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfell
  • The Short Stories Vol. I by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • A Blueprint for Armageddon by Dan Carlin
  • Last Orders by Harry Turtledove
  • A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey
  • The Uncuppling by Meg Wolitzer
  • The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
  • Seinfeldia by Jennifer Armstrong
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  • The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena by R.L. Stine*
  • American Peril by Dan Carlin
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neal DeGrass Tyson
  • Eyewitness Explorer by Rupert Matthews*
  • The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler
  • Knots: Stories by Gunhild Øyehaug*
  • The High Window by Raymond Chandler
  • The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Dragonflight by Anne McCafferty
  • How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino*
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Graham Smith
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Old Books:

  • This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly for Me) by Bruce McCall*
  • The Best of DFW by David Foster Wallace
  • The Secrets of the Gnomes by Rein Poortoliet*
  • The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  • Scary Stories: to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz*
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Stories Read

There are a lot of exclusions in this list. I’ve actually read a total of 156+ non book length fictions this year (Flash Fiction, Short Story, Long Story, Novella), but the list below excludes stories reread, stories I helped work on in one way or another, and stories that were part of larger collections that I read and either finished plan on finishing soon. That boils down to 29 stories remaining (many of which are from the New Yorker… but not all)

  • Tossing and Turning by Calvin Trillin
  • Jimmy’s Fight Song by Rebecca Ellis
  • Mystery Novels Inspired by a Co-Working Space by Zain Khalid
  • Crazy They Call Me by Zadie Smith
  • Ladies Lunch by Lore Segal
  • The Hanging of Mary by Claudia Summers
  • A Small Flame by Yiyun Li
  • Fly Already by Etgar Keret
  • Seinfeld Episodes from the Point of View of the Girlfriends by Blythe Roberson
  • Crossing the River No Name by Will Mackin
  • Show Don’t Tell by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • A Love Story by Samantha Hunt
  • Cell Songs by Shoshana Sumrall Frerking
  • Love and Marriage and Love and Marriage by Nick Gregorio
  • Not So Fast Canada by Bruce McCall
  • Disaster E- by Dean Schtekil
  • Christina the Astonishing (1150-1224) by Kristin Valdes Quade
  • Future Usten Adaptations by Blythe Roberson
  • The Itch by Don DeLillo
  • Everything is So Far From Here by Cristina Henriquez
  • The Purple Swamp Hen by Penelope Lively
  • Abroad by Penelope Lively
  • The Row by Penelope Lively
  • Who Do You Think You Were by Penelope Lively
  • Old as the Hills by Penelope Lively
  • On the Half-Shell by Nick Gregorio
  • The Phoenix on the Sword by Robert E. Howard
  • Don’t Even Try Sam by William H. Gass
  • Soliloquy for a Chair by William H. Gass
  • Fangs of Gold by Robert E. Howard

Books Unfinished:

  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemsen (terrible)
  • The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories by Penelope Lively (Ehh)
  • Best American Short Stories 2016 (will finish early next year)
  • Good Grief by Nick Gregorio (will finish next year)
  • The Wise Man’s Fears by Patrick Rothfuss (will finish next year)
  • The Ultimate NES Guide Book by Pat Contri (will finish next year)

Wake Up Songs (2017)

if you remember last year I at the end of the year I had a “Wake Up Song” list, at that point I had only been keeping a log since september, this one i’ve done for the entire year. It’s not everyday, but fairly often that I wake up with a song stuck in my head, and there is a wide veriety of these songs. So for your enjoyment here is the full list for this year.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Architechtonics After the Rain

This has certainly been a bumper year for writing… and I have one more for your enjoyment.

Architechtonics After the Rain” | The Ginger Collect | Issue Four

I expect this to be the last piece published this year (not a bad guess considering there’s only 10 days left until the new year), but you never know.

This story is the 14th piece I’ve had published this year, which is more pieces published then the previous 4 years combined.

I would say that I hope to publish as many or more next year, but I think that’s unlikely, I have one story forthcoming, and 13 stories currently waiting in the wings, but I don’t expect all of them to be published this year. Of course I didn’t expect all the stories published this year either, so we’ll see what happens.

In case you missed one, here is the full list of published stories from this year, from oldest to newest.

Every Woman in the Afterlife Hates You” | The Corvus Review | Issue 7W

The Easter Bunny on a Glass Elevator Going Down” | Foxglove Journal | March 28th, 2017

Magical Gastronomy” | The Ginger Collect | Issue One

An Apple Tree in a Driveway” | YuGen | May-June 2017

The Last First Days of School” | Independent Noise | Issue 1.2

Cecil the Trophy Hunter” | The Ginger Collect | Issue Two

Uncle Melvin’s Museum of Physical Media” | The Ginger Collect | Issue Three

Honeytomb” | Storyland | October 20th, 2017

Knight Camp” | Doo-Writers Anthology 2017

Rendezvous with the Secular Church of Gasoline” | Doo-Writers Anthology 2017

You Last Opportunity to get the Era Carinae Colonizer Kit” | Doo-Writers Anthology 2017

The First World War Considered as a 2D Tournament Fighter” | The Corvus Review | Issue 9W

Snakes Without Colors” | The Short Humour Site | December 10, 2017

Architectonics After the Rain” | The Ginger Collect | Issue Four

Updates

Greetings to All my Friends Fans, Family and Loyal Readers. It’s been a little time since my last post and there’s a decent amount to be updated on.

First I’m fresh off the NaNoWriMo Contest, this year’s novel “October Surprise and Other Stories” (actually it’s a Novella padded out with several short stories) was another success. 77,861 words (that’s 27k more then I needed to pass, I actually cleared the 50k word mark on November 19th). I put a total of 65 hours just into the novel (or book, your choice), and that is only writing, editing will be a longer process, to be done next year. here’s a quick synopsis of the stories in the new book.

October Surprise – the title story is a retelling of Alvin Schwarts’ retelling of classic scary stories and folk tales originally retold (not a type-o) in “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” in the framework of a hardboiled noir mystery, set against the backdrop of a local election. Did you get all that? I hope so because the other stories are going to be even more complicated.

Fourthwrite – (also not a type-o). this story takes place in a future semi-dystopia where writing is taboo and borderline illegal, and writers groups have taken on an outlaw biker gang image. The future world is the center of a book to be worked on in the future, something called a Fix-Up, which is a novel made up of stories which have been strung together with a loose narrative, usually written story first (yeah I don’t much care for the name either, but what can you do). Anyway, this particular story is about one of these outlaw writers groups, called Fourthwrite, and they are meeting at a coffee shop to read their stories to each other. There are four stories within this story itself, complete with a discussion about each story. So when this is finally placed into the fix-up, there will be stories within a story within a novel, and that’s why that novel will be called “Heavy Meta.”

Snakes Without Colors – this is a creative non-fiction. It was written as part of a 20-minute exercise during a memoir writing class. My dad took the class with me and his 20-minute memoir was quite good as well. I won’t go into what this story because it’s already been published here.

A Quarter Dollar – this story takes place in another world created during this year’s NaNoWriMo contest. In this alternate history, technology is rapidly developed during WWII and as a result, the timelines of the 50’s and the 80’s have merged together, soda fountains have arcade machines, rock and roll is played alongside synthwave, massive social upheavals occur overnight, liberals and conservatives are as far apart as can be. That world is called “The Sock Hop Revolution” and just what is going to take place in this novel or whatever it might be I don’t know. The story, however, is about a soldier returning to his old high school hang out, a soda-fountain, 10 years later and pontificating on all the changes that have taken place since the last time he was there. The stories actually a lot heavier then that preview makes it sound.

Last They Came – if you remember the “Heavy Meta” universe mentioned in “Fourthwrite” this is a poem that kind of sets up the entire situation described there. It’s a parody/homage to the poem “First They Came” by Martin Niemöller.

Shades of Death – another story that takes place in the “Heavy Meta Universe” this one is about a driving club that does a run through the Poconos and Endless Mountains. This is another stories within a story story, but it’s more subtle and conversational, then the jarringly clear way they are presented in “Fourthwrite”

Firehowl – Tree of Blood was originally going to be the novel for this year. but kind of at the last minute it switched to this collection I’ve been telling you about. There are a variety of reasons why this happened, and I’m not going to go into all of them here. But the big reason is that the novel is already half (or maybe 1/3) written, and that didn’t seem fair. It did seem fair though to include a segment from that unfinished novel into this collection. So that’s why it’s here.

TV Killers – this is another parody/homage, this one to Ernest Hemingway’s “The Killers” (and if you’re interested, it’s my favorite story by Hemingway and you can read it here, it’s not very long.) In the original story, two Jewish gangsters walk into a diner, try to order dinner, fail to order dinner, and admit they are there to kill a Swedish boxer. In this story, it’s 2 women that walk into the diner and discuss various storylines they are going to use in the TV shows they work on. another “Heavy Meta” story… most likely.

Updates – wait a minute that’s this piece.

Okay, so that was NaNoWriMo 2017, here’s some more, less related updates.
If you remember about a year ago I did a blog post on a new anthology released by my writer’s group. Well, this year we have another one, our second annual. This time I actually have 3 stories published in it. So this year it’s 3 for the price of one… but with a price. The new anthology is the same price as last year: $9.99, and it will make a great Christmas present (hint hint) all proceeds go to the Downingtown Library, which hosts our writer’s club, the Doo-Writers.

The theme of the anthology this year was “Fun in the Sun and the Madness of the Moon.” My stories included in this anthology are (in order of their appearance):

Your Last Opportunity to get the Eta Corinae Colonizer Kit – this story is written in the form of an infomercial pitch, trying to get you buy into a franchise that will help you colonize planets. It’s funny, poignant and short, so give it a read.

Rendezvous with the Secular Church of Gasoline – an older story written at the tail end of my hyper-maximalist years. This story is entirely a dialogue of two people discussing the image and idea of an abandoned gas station. This one is not easy to read or understand. But if your up for the challenge, the payout could be very nice.

Knight Camp – this is another story that takes place at World’s End Scout Reservation, a place that is in one way or another the main character of “The Boy Scout Camp at the End of the World” the story I published in last year’s anthology (and also probably my best story thus far, in my opinion, with Uncle Melvin at a close second.)

New Contributors – sadly we did not get as much interest in this anthology as we had with last year, But we did have 3 new contributors: Travis Shaw – who wrote a story in verse about the sun and moon as lovers who pursue each other in “A Moon’s Tale,” Craig Bolton – who wrote a story about a slave who is tasked with maintaining an abandoned plantation set against Sherman’s March to the Sea in “Howling Georgia,” and three stories from Josh Mavis: “Embarkation of Moonlight” “Chi-Chi’s is Closed Forever” and “Ragout Fin” (Chi-Chi’s is the best of these stories, an interesting take on time travel and some of its paradoxes. The other two are pretty good too.)

Returning Contributors – aside from myself, Chris Scudese, Jennie Gardiner and J.C. Wilson all contributed to this year’s anthology. “Come All Within,” and “Amber Has a Secret” the opening and closing pieces of the anthology by Scudese and Gardiner respectively are both outstanding. Brendan Lyons did not contribute a story to the anthology this year however he was responsible for designing the interior, and for that we thank him.

Aside from the novel and the anthology I would like to point out a new section that you may have noticed on my that says “Other.” I feel there are enough other things I’ve done to finally make this section a real thing. The two Doo-Writers anthologies, you already know about, and the contribution to people of few words Vol. 3 you may be familiar with. But there is also an interview with the Ginger Collect, and also an acknowledgment.

My good friend Nick Gregorio invited me to the launch of his first novel. He read an excerpt from the novel, answered questions, and signed copies of his book. But before that, he read the acknowledgments page. A friend I had brought with asked if I was going to be acknowledged in the book and I told him that I doubted it. then a minute later Nick read my name along with my friend Dean with a nice memory of our days in college and our original writer’s group. It was very nice and most unexpected. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but I’ll do a nice review of that as soon as I have. But I am a slow reader so forgive the anti-timeliness.

Snakes Without Colors

A few weeks ago my dad and I took a class on Memoir writing at the library, and during the class there was a 20 minute session to use what we had learned to write our own very short memoir. I just published the piece at very first place to ever publish one of my stories (The Short Humour Site) and here it is:

“Snakes Without Colors” | The Short Humour Site | December 10th, 2017

Yes the story is true, in fact this version of it is (evidently) closer to what actually happened then the original piece, how accurate it is though, I don’t really know, since both my parents and I have different memories of the events in this story.

Enjoy.

Zach