Cartridge Review Vol. 3

Intro – for those loyal readers who have been following the blog since last summer, you may remember this series. Well, here is the long awaited Vol. 3 of 4 (the last one should be hitting soon, before the next two long term projects).


Systems – for Vol. 3 were going to be covering the SNES, the Game Boy and the Game Boy Advance. Each of these collections are significantly smaller than the NES or Genesis collection. DS and 3DS will not be included because those are cards more than cartridges.


SNES – My SNES collection is small, there are only a hand full of games that I want to get for the system at this point, and annoyingly they tend to be very expansive, Like Super Noah’s Ark 3D, but that’s a 300+$ game. Other games on the wish list: Home Improvement, Super Mario All-Stars +or- world, Uniracers, Kirby’s Dream Course, and Tetris & Dr. Mario. In fact only one game in the SNES collection was on my wish list at one point then obtained, and we’ll get to that in a minute. The SNES games here have all been played on the Retron 2.


Championship Pool – actually a pretty fun pool game, not the best I’ve played but pretty good. There is a championship mode where you can play 8 Ball or 9 Ball against the computer. I couldn’t get past the first stage in either. But I did come close in both. There’s also a free mode you can play, but I didn’t do it in this review.


Cool Spot – I already covered this one in vol. 2 and they seem to be the same game. This time around I made it to level 3 and I had the game set on medium not easy. I don’t know if it’s because of the graphics, the controller, or if it’s just simply because I had played the game recently, but I did do better this time around.


Denis the Menace – a pretty bad game, well animated but that’s where it ends, two bad weapons that do barely anything, a week jump that requires you to get hit in order to reach higher platforms, a lot of bad guys (which by itself is not necessarily a bad thing but when combined with the other problems it’s unbearable) and no clear objective. I’ve watched a video on how to beat the first level, but I don’t care enough to try it myself. James and Mike did a nice short cover of this game. They put more into it then I did, but still didn’t get any further.


The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past – if I had to pick a favorite game series it would be Zelda. This game is my favorite on the SNES (in original form), and the only one to have been on my wishlist before being obtained (the others were all random pick-ups) but it’s hard as hell. I’ve put 13 hours into this game thus far and I still haven’t made it past level 3 (although maybe that’s level 3 of the dark world I’m not sure). I beat the Link Between Worlds (the 3DS’ direct sequel to this game). A Link to the Past was the game I played most heavily in the winter of 2016, but by the spring, it just didn’t feel right, I was close to beating the level 3 boss this time around, continuing the saved game where I left off.


Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday – unarguably the first game I ever got for the SNES and also the only game for the system that I have (as of yet) beaten. On the easy setting yes but all the other games have been set to easy to (if available) and I haven’t beaten them yet. The game has received mild reviews because it’s low difficulty, and I suppose that if this was one of the only games I had for the system and spent 50$ on it when it came out I might be a little annoyed, but none of those things are the case. The game is fairly fun, well animated with an interesting (though minimal) story line. In this play through I made it to level 3 (of which there are only 5 I think) not too bad. I did a more thorough review of this game early on in this blog and you can read it here.


Road Runner’s Death Valley Rally – I picked up this game because of the low price and because I had a good experience with the other Looney Tunes game for the system (see above), this game is not so good. The game is fast, it’s meant to be fast like a Sonic game, and in a race (putting Sonic and Road Runner side by side) I think the Road Runner might win. Unfortunately the level design is not set up well to accommodate the speed that your main character (the Road Runner) has. There are gages and pratfalls like a typical Road Runner cartoon, but the annoyance in trying to find the exit for each stage. The game leaves a lot to be desired. I couldn’t make it past stage 3 of level 1.


Tetris 2 – this game doesn’t work, it’s one of only 2 in my collection that doesn’t, and luckily I have another copy of it on Game Boy, a recent Acquisition. I should take a moment her to make one statement: the Genesis and the NES in my opinion are both superior to the SNES for a number of reasons (which I won’t be getting into here), but the one place where the SNES does shine over the others is in the durability of the cartridges. Most NES and Genesis games I played for these reviews I had to blow several times to make them work. Some took almost 10 minutes and blowing and reinserting to get to work, but the SNES, I only had to blow on one cart one time to get it to function right. Too bad this particular game doesn’t work at all, it seems to freeze at the copyright screen and no button will go past it. Don’t worry, I have another copy of it for another system, and will get to that later in this review.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighter – I’m a big fan of the turtles and at some point I may do a more elaborate review of my two turtles games (see the forthcoming Cartridge Review Vol. 4 for the next one), the first 3 seasons of the show, and the toys. This game itself is really good but like any other fourth generation fighting game very difficult. I had the game set one its lowest difficulty and couldn’t make it past shredder (who I think is the final boss though I could be wrong), I played as Wingnut mostly, I have his toy, but unfortunately the episode he’s in is not on my DVD’s.


Game boy – I believe Game Boy is the first system I ever got, as a gift from a guy who worked at an airport and had access to the lost and found. My original gray brick Game Boy is currently MIA, but I still have all the games for it, and with the Game Boy Addapter for the Game Cube, I can still play them all… almost all anyways, you’ll see.


4-in-1 FunPak- I’m not sure whether to consider this a multi-cart or just a game that happens to have 4 general games on it. They’re all board games: Chess, Checkers, Backgammon and reverse. Again the question of whether I should do 30 minutes for each arises. The answer, a little different this time: play each game straight through.


Chess – one of my favorite games and one of the few “sports” that I actually follow. I’m okay at the game but nothing spectacular. I know chess notation and I have recorded the game here. I played as white with the difficulty set at level 1. I won of course, but it still took me a while to get through the game, 40 movies, I was expecting around 20. If you know how to read algebraic notation you can read the game for yourself here, if not skip to the next. Either way, it’s not very enlightening. 1.d4 d5 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 f5 4.Nf3 c6 5.0-0 a6 6.c4 dxc4 7.Nc3 Qd6 8.Bf4 Qb4 9.a3 Qxb2 10.Bd2 Bxa3 11.Rb1 b5 12.Rxb2 Bxb2 13.Ne5 Ne7 14.Qb2 Ba3 15.e4 0-0 16.exf5 exf5 17.Bg5 Bd6 18.d5 Bxe5 19.Re1 Ng6 20.exc6 Bf6 21.c7 Ra7 22.axb8=q Bd4 23.Qxf5 Bxc3 24.Qd5+ Be6 25.Qxe6+ Raf7 26.Qxf8+ Nxf8 27.Qxa6 Bxe1 28.Qxb5 Bxf2+ 29.Kh1 c3 30.Qb3 h6 31.Bc1 Bd4 32.Qc4 Be5 33.Bd5 Bf6 34. Bxf7+ Kh7 35.Qd3 Kh8 36.Ba3 Nh7 37.Qc4 Ng5 38.Bg6 Nf3 39.Qc8+ Bd8 40.Qxd8#


Checkers – I lost, again playing against the computer on the lowest setting. Checkers is a game I do not understand well. I suppose if I put more time in it I would, but I’m not nearly as interested in it as I am with chess.


Backgammon – gave up, did not understand the game, and couldn’t figure out where I had to move the pieces. I got a backgammon app for my phone, maybe after I play more I can try it again on the Game Boy… or maybe not.


Reversi – lost. The game looks interesting though, in fact more interesting then backgammon, I may start playing this game more frequently.


Donkey Kong – I played this game once when I got it and didn’t like it that much. The trailer I saw for it, when it was available for the 3DS Virtual Consul showed a game considerably different then what I played when I popped it, or so I thought. At first it seems to be more or less a direct port of the original arcade game, which I don’t like all that much, but that’s only the first level, more of a demo level really. The actual game is more like the Mario Vs. Doneky another series I love. I still don’t like this game quite as much as MvDK but it’s much better now that I’ve played it a little more. Also the art on the cartridge is really good. The game boy may have some of the best artwork out there, which is surprising given how small the medium is to work with.


Kirby’s Star Stackers – This is my favorite game on the system, without a doubt. I have it on my 3DS as well and play it all the time, and I’m also quite good at it, I’ve cleared out all of the round clears at least twice and the highest score I’ve gotten in a single game is around 1,500 points. I don’t have an exsact figure because I had deleted the file a few months ago, so I could go through the game fresh again (this is something I do often in games I really like). In the half hour I played I only did the challenge, only one challenge, I wasn’t even close to losing and got a score of 632 points.


Maddan 97 –  I played this game for 7 minutes for this test, that’s all I could take.


Metroid – I’ve had this game for quite a while, this time around I really enjoyed it and got further than I ever had before, though exactly how far that is and where I can’t really say as I am not very familiar with the game itself and the series. Even though the game is streamlined, there is still and awful lot her to explore, worth checking out.


Mickeys Dangerous Chase – I did better on this game the first time I tested it then this time around, and I also liked it more then. I can’t get past the speedboat section (beginning of level 2 I believe). You can play as either Mickey or Minnie, I chose Minnie of course, but I don’t think that makes a huge difference. A lot of game overs in the half hour test.


Pac-Man – classic arcade game, supposedly “Mrs. Pac-Man” is the superior game in every way, but the original is a great, highly addictive (and at times annoying), game. I don’t think I need to explain how this game works to anyone really. After a half hour of ply I got a high score of: 14710 points.


Solomon’s Club – This is one of those, semi-rare puzzle platformers and my favorite of the genre (if you count the Mario Vs. Donkey Kong games as pure puzzle games, which I do). It’s one of my favorite games for the system, but not a very popular one. I picked it up in the Game Boys hay day for 12$ at Toys ‘R Us, taking a gamble at the time and getting a good pay out. There was a similar NES game called Solomon’s Key, which I have on the Wii virtual consul. that game is not as good though, it doesn’t have a level select the way that Club does, and it seems harder, though that may just be me, I think the first level is the same in both games, but I’ll have to double check. In the half hour play test I cleared out the first two levels (each one with 10 rooms). Despite the NES game being the lesser of the two, it’s still and automatic pick up if I should find it.


Space Cadet Adventures – for a while this was my least favorite game on the system, but I think that’s gotten beat now by Madden 97 (which is a little unfair but…). The game is unfriendly at the very least: 3 hits, 3 lives, no continues, there is health to regain but the controls are suggest, especially the hair ball projectile. To make matters worse, everything can hurt you, from a flying lightbulb to a puddle on the floor to, sound waves, and even certain buttons on the in game computers. Playing it this time however I seemed to do better than I had before, not great but better, it seems that your fingers will know what to I do after the first couple of times around. Apparently you do get to play as Ren lost on a foreign planet, but I’ve never made it this far myself. Perhaps this game would in fact be worth a serious review, especially considering it is based on their best episode, but before that happens I have a few other reviews to get through.


Mario Land 2: six gold coins – my first game for the system, my favorite platformer for the system, and also my favorite of the traditional Mario games. I also have this on the 3DS virtual consul, it’s that good, probably my second favorite game for the system overall, but it doesn’t beat out Star Stackers because little does. In the half hour run I was able to acquire gold coins from the Space Zone and the Mario Zone. I’ve made it to warrior before but I’ve never beaten him, maybe one of these days.


Tetris – Another one of my favorite series and one I’m pretty good at too. Interesting to note that almost everyone that had an original game boy had this game… almost. It was a pack in title for the game boy and is largely if not directly responsible for cementing Nintendo’s place in the hand held market during the era. Why? Tetris is a game that appeals to a wide verity of players: hardcore gamers, puzzle fans, casual gamers, and gamers of any age. The same strategy was employed with the launch of the Wii and Wii Sports. I say almost everyone had this because I didn’t, not for a while anyways; it was one of the last games in bought for the system in its prime. Anyways what can be said about Tetris? I lost a few times in my half hour run (I haven’t played for a while) and the best score I got was: 17817.


Tetris 2 – My SNES copy doesn’t work, but this version does. I also had the option to pick it up for the NES, but the same game on three different platforms is a little too redundant for me at this point. The game is considerably different then original Tetris, you’re given a few flashing pieces and you have to match 3 of a kind to clear pieces out. Once you’ve cleared all the flashing pieces you move to the next round. In the half hour I made it to round 9. The game is based on individual puzzles rather than a continuous infinite game (the latter of which I tend to greatly prefer). I don’t mind the setup, if infinite play is also an option, but when it’s the entirety of the game, that’s a problem, for me at least.


Tetris attack – Again a very different game then Tetris and Tetris 2, and one of my favorites on the system. The pieces continue to move up and you flip two pieces at once side by side to match 3 or more in a row or column to clear them out. Yoshie and other less recognizable characters make an appearance. The music (if you pick Yoshie at least) is by far the best music for any game on the system. Playing continuously I lasted about 20 minutes and got a score of 8,688 points. I picked this up from the bargain bin at my (then) game store for 2$ I think and it is the best Game Boy game I’ve gotten there and maybe best overall game I’ve gotten there as well… maybe.


Yoshies Cookie – Unfortunately this game doesn’t. I have gotten it to work once in the past, and it’s a puzzle game, but not an infinite play one. The cover art is nice thought.


Game Boy Advanced – interestingly my GBA collection is by far the most valuable by per game average as all of them (all 4) are complete in box.


Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral town – One of my wife’s games which I didn’t play. If I remember right, I got this game for her for her birthday or maybe a (dating) anniversary along with the Game Boy Micro. This is not a game you can make significant progress in in a half hour even if I did play it, which I didn’t.


Shaman King Legacy – Another one of my wife’s game, and since I know almost nothing about it, and I don’t want to potentially mess up her save file (if there is one), I didn’t play it for this review.


Super Mario World: Super Mario Advanced 2 – This game (along with the next) my wife made me pick up when they were on clearance at the department story she was working at. I got it brand new for 6 or 12$ at the time. I’ve only played it a few times, I remember once (probably the day I got it) we had played it together all the way to the haunted forest zone (not sure what it’s called) and got stuck there. In this half hour of play I beat Iggie’s Castle. Also I realized that there is a bonus game on the cart, the original Mario Bros. game, but with greatly improved graphics. It also seems to be easier to play. I got a score of 79,440 before getting a continue screen.


The Legend of Zelda – This is somewhat surprisingly one of the most valuable games in my collection, and the reason I won’t pick up the original Legend of Zelda for the NES yet, because I already have it and I know that I physically can’t get past the 4th temple (You can read more about that in my larger review of the game). In this run, I started a fresh game and in a half hour of play: I died 11 times, beat the first temple, got bombs, the bow, and arrows, and I did all this without using a guide or external map, and I’m fairly impressed with myself at that.


Magical Gastronomy

Greetings (Again) My Loyal Readers,

This may be the first time this has happened, but, believe it or not, I have another story fresh of the press, less than a week after my last.

Magical Gastronomy from The Ginger Collect


This story I from the debut issue of a brand new publisher called “The Ginger Collect.”

Unlike the previous stories published this month, this one has considerably more meat to it, as it should, considering it is about food. At just over 4,000 words, it is considerably longer then the last two stories combined.

I am very happy to have this story published, as it was first submitted (and rejected) almost 5 years ago, and in that time it has been submitted to 8 different places (including the Ginger Collect), Rejected 4 times, ignored (asked for a re-write, then ultimately withdrawn after being ignored again from one place), submitted to one publisher that closed while pending, and then finally accepted.

In short it took a lot of work to get this one published, but it was work I am happy to do as long as people read it.

The story may not be for everyone, but I hope you take a look at it nonetheless, and if you do enjoy it, that would be even better.


P.S. if you didn’t get to read the last story, here is a link for that one too.


The Easter Bunny on a Glass Elevator Going Down

Greetings all my loyal readers,

I have for your pleasure my second story published this year: “The Easter Bunny on a Glass Elevator Going Down” from Foxglove Journal. Yes, Easter is still a few weeks away, but I don’t like to wait on these things that much.

There are several songs mentioned in this story, so if the story has peaked your interest here are some of the songs.

The main song: “Losing My Religion” by REM

Heart of a Dragon” the DragonForce song that sounds like “Peter Cottontail”

And “Peter Cottontail” (for comparison of course)

And though I’m not a fan of the song, here’s Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)

There’s other songs mentioned but they should be familiar enough.

If you can’t wait to get some more “awesome” stories from Zach Smith, I have some good news. Another story was picked up a few weeks ago. I don’t know when it will be published, but it should be imminent. In the mean time you can check out the rest of my blog.



Stories I-K

I Know What You Need – Starting off this batch of stories is one from Stephen King’s “Night Shift.”  Night Shift is a strange collection, it’s not bad, some of the stories are actually quite good and clever, but it is much less mature then his later works. Unlike his later collections the stories in this collection are almost entirely horror based, and all but one or two are actually short story length. This story is about a college girl that falls in love with this mysterious and somewhat nerdy kid who always seems to know just what the girl needs. This is probably the second best story from the collection, my only problem with it is the title, the title is applicable of course, but it’s kind of bland and there could probably be a better one.

I Want to Live – a candidate for my favorite story form the BASS Century (the other being Gish Jen’s “Birthmates”), this was the first and for a long time only Thom Jones story I had ever read. Since then however I have read one entire book by him, and while two or three of the stories (in that book) are really good, the rest are basically just variations on the same handful of topics. It seems that every story he writes is either about Death, Diseases, Boxing, Africa, Cars, or some combination of the above. This story falls into the Death and Disease category and it’s beautifully written. Jones has his own voice that seems to be cultivated almost independently of any particular influence. It’s a combination of minimalism mixed with train of thought and colloquialism. Three styles which shouldn’t be able to work together, but in this story Jones is able to do just that. Perhaps if he chooses other topics to cover in his stories he would have had a more lustrous corer, but hey there may still be time.

Illinois – one of the historic semi-non-fiction stories from Munro’s “The View from Castle Rock.” It’s not one of my favorite stories from the collection, as it is a western tale and deals largely about a baby and raising a family while fording the wilderness. I have little interest in these topics (i.e. babies and families), but that’s just me. On the plus side it is short, clocking it at a little over half an hour, so you won’t get weighed down in it for too long if you don’t like it.

In Another Country – this is one of the Hemmingway “War Stories,” written in the minimalist vein in which almost nothing significant happens, and there’s almost no plot at all. There is a line in this story where the narrator says he got his medals because he was an American, where as the others (Italians) had earned their medals from the time they spent on the front. That says an awful lot about the meaning the story is trying to convey.

In Sight of the Lake –This story is about a woman who goes to a town she is not familiar with to find a doctor the day before her appointment so that she doesn’t have to look for the doctors on the day of the appointment. Which is not a terrible idea to tell you the truth. This is one of the rare Alice Munro stories to have an unexpected twilight zone-esqu twist ending.

Incarnations of Burnt Children – for a while this is one of the very few audio stories I could find from Wallace’s third story collection “Oblivion.” The story was actually read by Wallace himself at I believe a book signing. Not one of my favorite works of his, probably my least favorite from the collection. It’s about a baby that is accidentally scolded. It ends in a bizarre way that is open to interpretation. The story is painful to read, but on the plus side it is very short.

The Interior Castle – I’ve read this story a few times and I’m still not quite sure what it is about, but I think this fogginess is intentional and also well used given the circumstances. The story is about a woman who has survived a car accident and is in a hospital going through surgeries and so on. You never really find out who the woman is, no friends or family seem to come and visit her, etc. If the intention of the story is to mimic the haziness an accident victim is wont to experience, then the story is highly successful and deserves to be in the BASS century collection. To me, this one is worth a few more reads .

It Grows On You – this is another good, but somewhat weird, story from Kings “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” it’s not really all that scary, and has a high literary value to it. There is actually a whole lot that goes on in this story even though almost nothing actually happens, kind of like a Seinfeld episode. It’s basically about a haunted house and all the townsfolk speculations about it.

The Ivory Acrobat – this is a story about an American woman living in Greece working as a teacher and dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake. The name comes from a gift that the woman’s friend gives her, a small statuette of an acrobat jumping over a bull, the original statue (according to the story) had been destroyed in an earthquake some 80 years before. Like most of DeLillo’s stories, it is very vague and difficult to understand.

The Jelly-Bean – I’ve read this story before, a few times I think, and never really understood it or liked it, until this go around. It’s more or less about wealthy college and post-college hedonism, like a less disturbing 20’s era Less Then Zero. (Maybe it was more disturbing and controversial for the time it was written). It’s one of Fitzgerald’s better stories (now that I’ve had time to digest it) and certainly better then the choice from BASS-Century.

Jerusalem’s Lot – easily the best story from King’s “Night Shift” and clearly the one he spent the most time on. It’s also the longest from the book, and I would put it easily in his all time top ten best stories. I was a little disappointed to find out that a lot of things from the story were taken from Lovecraft, but not greatly. The story is told in Epistolary form about the strange Abandoned town of Jerusalem’s Lot. Evidently this is the same place as ‘Salam’s Lot (note the parenthetical mark at the beginning of the title) for which the novel and movie of the same name take place. The story is about the spiritual remains of a satanic puritan splinter group, which is a pretty interesting idea in itself. Definitely worth the read, and it is a little more spooky then most of his stories.

John Billy – one of the stories from Wallace’s “Girl with Curious Hair” collection. I have mixed feelings on this particular story. It’s written in a southern dialect and it’s about a guy named Chuck Nunn Jr. who’s superhuman exploits are highly reminiscent of Chuck Noris Jokes. That’s the down side to the story. The plus side is that it is a pretty interesting story, and is told in an interesting way. One of the characters in the story T. Rex Minogue, has throat cancer and has to talk through a synthetic voice box, which the narrator uses in order to affect the voice, which is a nice touch, Robert Petcoff (Wallace’s Standard Reader) is quite a good voice actor.

The Killers – this is actually my favorite Ernest Hemingway story, at least from all the stories I’ve read by him (which isn’t a huge amount of them). it’s based in part on a painting I really like called “Nighthawks” by Edwin Hooper. The story is a very early example of minimalist writing, both in them and writing style, little happens in the plot and the sentences are generally very small and simple. Personally, having spent a lot of time in diners, I like the back and forth with the two gangsters trying to order dinner when only the breakfast menu is available: “I can make you ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver and bacon, or I can cook you a stake.” what a great line.

Killing – a John Updike story that deals with divorce and the death of a parent. The main character has taken her father off life support and is waiting for him to die. After the funeral her ex-husband comes to visit and support her and the kids and the two end up sleeping in the same bed, but he is unable to perform sexually and finds this to be a vindication that he is truly in love with his current wife. It’s good but not Updike’s best.

Winter Movies

I make a lot of goals or intentions for what to do throughout the year, most of which I don’t fulfill, but this one I have been. last year I tried to watch one movie a week, and I ended with well below half of that goal, this year I am well on pace to achieve this and maybe even make up for the quantity I missed last year. Here are all the movies I’ve watched so far this winter (starting on January 1st).


The Short List:

  • 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)


* = Movies I’ve seen before

^ = Movies from Bargain Bin DVD Boxes.




God’s Gun – A very good western starring Lee Van Cleef (in two roles) and a very young Leif Garret. This is the 4th movie I’ve seen off my Western 20 movies for 5$ DVD, and all 4 of them have been great so far, and I didn’t even think I liked westerns that much, but I guess I do.


Bulldog Drummond’s Peril – Noir/Comedy, not bad, not the first Bulldog Drummond movie I’ve seen and probably not the best either.


Time Raiders – interesting Chinese kung-fu/adventure/fantasy/archeology movie. My wife read the book that the movie is based on and then made her mom and I watch it. It was pretty good.


The Front Page – a Pre-Code Comedy based on a play of the same name about Tabloid reporters. The movie is too long and convoluted to be good, but it gets an extra star for being pre-code and a very good punch line ending.


Grumpy Old Men – Never saw this movie before, though I think I saw a few small pieces when they first showed it on TV.  Right at the beginning, when Walter Matthau greets Jake Lemon with “Mornin’ Dick-head” you know this is going to be a funny movie, and it was. Extra points for Burgess Meredith (in my opinion one of the greatest most underrated actors of all time) in the roll of Lemon’s rakish and hard living 90 year old Father. I am adding this movie to my cannon of movies to be watched during the Christmas season. The others of which are: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Polar Express (recently added), What’s Up Tiger Lilly, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Bank Dick, The History of Mankind, my 1988 Xmas Tape (several times-blog entry forthcoming), Rifftrax Starwars Holiday Special (also several times), 1995 Cartoon Box.


The Flying Deuces – when I first got into old comedies (back in 2001), I came across Laurel and Hardy and wanted to see some of their films. My mom said “you might not like their stuff,” well it turned out she was right (it happens once in a while), because it sucked. Most of it I didn’t find funny, and half of it I couldn’t even tell what was supposed to be funny. The famous flying sequence for which the movie is named is only maybe 10 minutes at the very end of the film, whereas the rest of it is about Hardy joining the French Foreign Legion to get over a girl.


Fando Y Lis – I’ve wanted to see this movie for years, it’s frequently put on lists of very bizarre movies, and it is unarguably the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen. Not bad, it’s definitely one to look into and think about and discuss long after watching it, but it is not for the weak of heart. The film is so strange that when it was first shown in Mexico (the director’s native country) the audience literally rioted.


The Milky Way – the first Harold Lloyd movie I’ve ever seen, and not bad, definitely willing to check out his other films. This one is about a boxer (one of several boxing related movies this season).


Dead Again – we did this movie for the film club, I had never heard of it before and I don’t know who recommended it, but I really enjoyed it. Magical Realist Historic Noir Rom-Com, I never head of a combination like that before. And it works really well, 5 star movie all the way. It may have only been a 4 star, but the stellar performances of minor characters played by Robin Williams and Wayne Knight, and the few unlikely plot turns puts the movie easily into the highest of ratings.


Conan the Barbarian – really liked this movie. The acting is pretty universally bad (James Earl Jones notwithstanding) however the Score, Scenery, Action and Plot make up well for the words that the actors struggle to deliver. I immediately noticed that Subotia’s theme music is almost the same melody as “Firewings” by Aquaria, and the Orgy Temple Attack is again very similar to “Epicus Furor” the opening song off “Symphony of Enchanted Lands” by Rhapsody of Fire. Check out the links to see the similarities, they are striking I assure you, and there are probably other musical homages by later power metal bands, but I don’t know what they are off the top of my head. I don’t know how often I’ll be rewatching this movie, but I am looking forward to the sequel (included in the same DVD Box)


The Last of the Wild Horses (MST3K) – Not one of MST3K’s best episodes. I was hoping it would be good because the first quarter or so of the movie is actually watched by Dr. Forester and TV’s Frank, while Mike and Crow are evil and conducting the experiment due in part to a switch between an alternate universe. However the jokes fell a little flat throughout, audio was not good and hard to make out at points, and the movie also seemed like it might be okay, certainly not one of the worst they did (though that could just be my predisposition towards Westerns, also this is one of the few if not only western they ever did).

Every Woman in the Afterlife Hates You

Greetings loyal readers.

First I’d like to apologize for the lack of blog posts so far this year, hopefully this is the end of the two month long dry spell, and I can/will post things more frequently in the future. I’ve been working on some things, but there hasn’t been as much time to write this year as I was hoping for, oh well.

Anyways I am pleased to present the first newly published story of this year. Its part of the winter 2017 issue of the Corvus Review, which is a publication I have not been published in before. The story is a flash fiction, of the magic realism/humor variety, and was inspired in part by Stephen King’s “Afterlife,” Andy Weir’s “The Egg” (he’s author of novel that the Martian was based on), and one of the ending sequences from “A Scanner Darkly.”

Like the story “Syphon Theory” this is another story that was written and edited and in the form you see it here within a single hour.

You can find the new story here on page 42 of the issue.


P.S. it has recently come to my attention that this is my first published F-Word. Not sure why I’m proud of that but I am. I try not to use a lot of profanity in my writing, though sometimes it calls for it, and if used sparingly the few times it is use, it hits well, kind of like using exclamation points.

The Hours & Wake Up Songs of 2016

The Hours

Since 2012, every day I log the hours of what I have done that day into a spread sheet. Also in the spread sheet I keep a log of how good of a day it’s been (based on a 5 point system) and I draw a daily tarot card and keep a log of that. These two aspects however will not be included in the statistics here.

I wrote this a little before the end of the year so the numbers are not 100% accurate, but they are close enough for Government Work.

Reading: This year I spent a total of 678 hours reading. Reading is usually the highest of all the numbers, and it is again this year. This brakes down to an average of 111 Minutes of reading every day, which makes sense. I have a 20 minute drive to and from work, which I usually spend listening to an audio book. Then I usually read for an hour before going to bed, that’s 100 minutes right there. Also depending on the job I’m doing that particular day if I am working alone I may be able to spend several more hours listening to books. All in all the 678 hours logged in is probably a very conservative estimate. The most heavily read month was January at 77 hours, with August in a close second at 74 hour.

Writing: As it turned out, writing this year went better then expect. It was not a good year, though this is hardly an appropriate place to get into all that, and I thought that the writing would have suffered because of that, but as it turned out, not too bad. I did 411 hour of writing, averaging out to 68 minutes a day. My goal was closer to 2 hours a day writing, but it’s a very hard target to hit. I did better than last year by almost a hundred hours. If I can top this year by another 100 hours next year I’ll be very happy. The most productive month of writing this year was, as it always is, November (because of the NaNoWriMo contest). Also February and March were high months with over 50 hours of writing each.

Music: Music includes 3 things, work on my Drone Metal Band MoonCandle (we released 3 albums this year), work on classical music (of which I haven’t done very much since 2012), and video montages. One of the montage’s was for this year’s Oscars Night at the library, an in memorium video of all the lost actors of the year before set to the tune of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” The one for next year will be considerably longer. I spent 106 hours on music projects, or roughly 17 minutes a day. The most musically productive month of the year was June at 19 hours.

Film: Film includes TV, but not all TV. I only log down hours spent on film if, and only if, I sit down focus on the TV and not do anything else at the same time, which is why the number is considerably low, it’s also why I have quite a few DVD’s that havn’t been watched yet, because they all deserve my full attention the first time they are watched. I spent 107 hours watching films/TV this year, also averaging out to 17 minutes a day. The most watched month this year was August, at 40 hours, no other month comes remotely close. Almost half of what I watched this year was watched in the month of August, and this is because of the Olympics.

Video Games: As you may have already noticed in the blog, I am a big fan of video games, and I’ve played a lot of them this year, 538 hours to be specific, 88 minutes a day. I won’t go into all the games I’ve played this year, but here are the 5 most played: #5 – Oregon Trail II for the PC (13 hours), #4 – Duck Tales Remastered for the Wii U (19 hours), #3 – Chess on various platforms (23 hours) I think this is much lower then the amount of time I actually spend playing chess, it’s probably somewhere around 50 hours this year. #2 – NES Remix for the Wii U (30 hours) really good game, probably my favorite for the Wii U at the moment, and will be the subject of a forthcoming blogpost I’m sure. And #1 – Cartridge/Sonic Review (52 hours), though not a single game a major project of quick plays of all my cartridge and retro games. The most played month was May at 59 hours, also June and July had well over 40 hours of play time logged. I’m going to try and cut down on this number next year, so I can watch more movies and write more.

Work Out: I keep a long of how much time I spend doing strenuous work outs, this includes heavy labor at work and home, and also working out for no immediate purpose. All in all I did 187 hours or 31 minutes a day.

Wake Up Songs

Since late August I’ve been keeping a list of every song that is stuck in my head when I first wake up. It’s something I noticed eairlyer this year and figured it might make a good list to post at the end of the year. of course as soon as I started to keep track of the songs, it would seem, this happened far less frequently. Anyways, here are the songs, I’ve also included links to the songs where available.






The Writings of 2016


This has not been a super productive year w/r/t writing, hopefully next year will be better, I am intending to make it so anyways, thought that doesn’t always work out. As far as numbers go I wrote: 3 Flash Fictions (one published and another forthcoming), 2 New Short Stories, 2 Major Short Story Revisions, 1 Fictional Essay (w/ two versions), 1 Novel, 1 Creative Non-Fiction, 2 Non-Fictions essays, 62 New Blog Posts (of which 34 were posted), This all consists of a total of 377 pages or 193,000 words.

As far as publishing goes, I submitted 59 times, half of those in the winter (I like to hit the publishers hard first thing in the year), and I only submit one piece to one place at a time and not sending the same piece to multiple places at the same time, though I might change this practice Next Year. Of those 59 submissions, 6 of them have been published and one is forthcoming (just over 10% which is about the same percentage as last year).

The published pieces (with publisher and links to them) are as follows:

Below is some insight on the pieces written:

Syphon Theory – the first piece of the year (more or less), which has already been published and was covered in an earlier Blog Post.

Like and Egg Against the Wall of the Universe – a very strange, very short, flash fiction written in train of thought about the possible outcomes of the world if it were to collide with a hypothetical wall at the end of the universe. I actually started I think in 2015, writing it in bed at my old house. But I never got around to editing it (and maybe even finishing it) until this year. I’ve submitted it to two places, one rejected it in >24 hours, and the other took almost 10 months before sending me an email that they had gone through some restructuring and invited me to submit it again if I wished to, which I don’t think I will. Next year I hope to find a home for this peace.

Sardines in Catatonia – this is a story that I actually wrote in 2009 originally under the title “The Shelter.” I like the new title much better. It’s about a couple living in a bomb shelter and going crazy from the isolation. In its newest form it has been submitted to three times with two rejections and one more response pending.

The Arms of Avalay – Avalay is a fictional high fantasy world that I’ve been working on since the NaNoWriMo contest of 2012. There is a great deal of heraldry in the novel and this fictional essay presents all the different arms, blazone and a little bit of history behind the house that coat of arms represents. Two versions of this piece, one with spoilers and one without.

An Illuminating Gas – this was a major revision of an earlier story (also from 2009 if I’m not mistaken), I covered it already in an earlier Blog Post, and it has also been published.

Every Woman in the Afterlife Hates You – this is a humorious flash fiction, which is about a man who dies and goes to the afterlife to see the unusual punishment that is there instore for him. The piece was written, edited and completed in less than an hour (just like “Syphon Theory”).

Turning Over a New Engine – A short story that was written within the universe of this year’s NaNoWriMo contest. It follows one of the novel’s minor Characters (pastor Max) and a man who has been tracking him with plans to settle and old score.

Cloud Dreams – a story about an enormous man who falls from the sky and speaks a language that no one understands, once he is finally able to make himself understood, the story he tells makes no sense at all, so he has to prove it.

Trail of Blood – This year’s NoNoWriMo Novel, I already covered it in an earlier blog post so you can just read that if you’re interested.

Poisoned Peeps – a Flash Creative Non-Fiction piece that was already published around Easter of this year.

Story Titles – this is a project that I plan to work on in the upcoming year. What I did was spend several days writing down what I thought were interesting titles of other stories (a lot of them were taken from the Best American Short Story Series). my plan is to write stories with those title (i.e. if I were to use that title what would the story be about), and then change the title to make them wholly original works. We’ll see how that goes, more on next years writing plan later.

Zach’s Full Movie List – following the NaNoWriMo contest this year, I spent many hours working on this list. it is an alphabetical list of every movie that I have watched throughout my life (as best I can remember) each movie is listed with the year it came out, and my personal ratting on a complicated 5 star system. The list is very long and I had major help from a good friend of mine who had the same kind of list, which created a good foundation for this list to be built. I may actually start next year by adding this list as a page for the blog, and updating it on a yearly bases or so.

Writing Next year.

I have a plan for next year to every month write a new short story (partly where the Story Titles Project comes into play), plus edit a previously unedited story, plus edit the previous months new story, and most importantly (edit a story line form last years novel). I’ve put off very heavily writing for far too long (though not without reason), hopefully 2017 will see a resurgence of work done, I think that it will. Also I may keep an updater going on the blog for all this stuff I write next year. Wish me luck.

Finally, below is a list of all the blog posts from this year from oldest to newest:

Movies Watched in 2016

Movies listened in order watched.

* means they were re watched.


  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Poppy
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
  • Amelie*
  • Delinquent Daughters
  • You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man
  • My Little Chickadee*
  • Salt of the Earth
  • Bulldog Drummond’s Escape
  • Africa Screams*
  • Never Give a Sucker and Even Brake
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory*
  • Harold and Kumar go to White Castle*
  • Who Frammed Rodger Rabbit*
  • Somm
  • Purple Rain
  • 1776*
  • Blazing Saddles*
  • Ali
  • Café Society
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Secret in Their Eyes
  • Donnie Darko
  • Leviathan
  • Beetlejuice*
  • Ghostbusters*
  • Ghostbusters II*
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show*
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas*
  • Witchfinder General
  • How Beer Saved the World
  • The Day of the Wolves
  • The Polar Express

2016 Books Read

This year has been considerably better than last year as far as reading is concerned, I put down 44 books this year, some of them were considerably long, including 4 of the Game of Thrones books (in the reread category). 28 books were read for the first time this year, while 16 were reread books. The books marked with an asterisks means they were read on paper, while the majority were read by audio.

Books read for the first time this year (listed from best to worst):

  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Secret Book of Gnomes by Rein Poortoliet*
  • Nobody Move by Dennis Johnson
  • God Bless America: Stories by Steve Almond*
  • Good Omens by Neal Gaimen & Terry Pratchet
  • Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret*
  • Best American Short Stories 2015*
  • The Complete Book of Heraldry by Stephen Slater*
  • Coup D’état by Harry Turtledove
  • Two Fronts by Harry Turtledove
  • Zero K by Don DeLillo
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The Fantastic Book of Canes Pipes and Walking Sticks by Harry Ameredes*
  • The Seven Good Years by Etgar Karet
  • DFW in his Own Words by David Foster Wallace
  • The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
  • Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnigut
  • Finding Zero by Amir Aczel
  • Strange Library by Haruki Murikami
  • The Laughing Monsters by Dennis Johnson
  • Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
  • Time and the Hunter by Italo Calvino*
  • Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchet
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher
  • The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones
  • A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas
  • My Grandfather’s Gallery by Anne Sinclair

Books Reread this year (in the order they were read)

  • The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
  • This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly for Me) by Bruce McCall*
  • Best of DFW
  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin
  • Oblivion: Stories by David Foster Wallace
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  • A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
  • The Angle Esmerelda by Don DeLillo
  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  • Atlantis and Other Places by Harry Turtledove
  • Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russel
  • A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martain
  • Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz*
  • More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz*
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

List of Stories Read (in order read)

  • 1 = 1 by Anne Carson
  • On the Banks of the Table River (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319) by Rajeesh Parameswaran
  • The Strange Adventure of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan by Rajeesh Parameswaran
  • Carnival of Animals by Jane Rebecca Canerella
  • The Missteps and Surreal Adventures of Joasquin Mchugh by Matthew Di Paoli
  • Smokejumper by Kenny A Chaffin
  • Aspic by Tatyana Tolstaya
  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
  • The End by Anthony Marra
  • Juror Instructions by Kelly Stout
  • To the Class of 2050 by Jen Spyra
  • North Carolina Police Blotter by Henry Alford
  • The Bog Girl by Karen Russel
  • Two Men arrive in a Village by Zadie Smith
  • An Inhabitant of Carcosa by Ambrose Bierce
  • The Fugitive by T.C. Boyal
  • The King’s Teacup at Rest by Michael Andresine
  • Stuff by Joy Williams
  • People are Turning Into Clouds by Joe Meno
  • The Amandonment by Jashua Farris
  • Dido’s Lament by Tessa Hadley
  • Papayas by Thomas Mcguane
  • Gender Studies by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Fabel by Charles Yu
  • To the Moon and Back by Etgar Karet
  • Deer Season by Kevin Berry
  • Into the Silence by Marlon Barton
  • The Cousins by Charles Baxter

Note: there were actually 275 stories read throughout the year, the ones listed above were read for the first time and not part of a story collection already read this year and not part of some kind of external project, hence the above distilled list of 28 stories. A lot of them were in the New Yorker, while others were in the BASS books as notable stories, which I then because of title had to seek out, and others still I just came across at random interval.