Scriv’s Favorite Albums of 2017: Ex People, Bird

If you’ve ever been under a weighted blanket, or dozed off in the trunk of a car during a hot summer, you know the sensation I’m trying to invoke when I say that Ex People’s debut Bird is a comfy doom album.  Comfy doom is the kind of music that Windhand plays, the kind that Cloudkicker invoked on Subsume, the feeling of getting overwhelmed by something heavy and soft that pins you down and gets you cozy.  It doesn’t need to be scary or capital-e Evil; its power comes from its ability to flatten, to neutralize, to disarm. “You’ll be eating out my hand,” vocalist Laura Kirsop promises on the track “You Creep”.  It’s a cool subversion of the macho posturing that some elements of metal fall back on, and given Ex People’s roots in punk and riot grrrl, it’s certainly intentional.

The London quartet bring the low end like nobody’s business on Bird; at its grooviest, this album’s kinetic energy is the kind of meaty lumbering you might expect from an entire slumber of megatherium. But the blunt instruments of the rhythm section don’t just twist and crush aimlessly though the earth; this is not just a collection of nice riffs that become stale after twenty minutes. Ex People craft a heady soundscape, nestling you in layers upon layers of textured guitar, beautiful loud-soft dynamics, and a perfectly matched vocal performance even as you’re driven forth by the low end. Guitarist Calem Gunn said it best in an interview with Metal Hammer: “There’s a unique, addictive feeling to be wrought from playing low and slow. Weight and the absence of weight.”  Bird is a colossal creature borne aloft.

Prank Night at the Pit: A Jackalope Short

“Hey frosh.”
I jolt awake, swaying hard in my hammock. It is cold. Six masked figures loom over me. High above them, the moon cuts a perfect curve through the Pit’s dirty plexiglass skylight.
“It’s prank night, frosh. You in?”
The stage-whispering figure looming over me has the face of a vampire bat, a wrinkled, hairy thing. Twin fangs gleam beneath two jutting yearling antlers. The six figures looming over me are all wearing antlered vampire bat masks.
“Yeah,” I grumble, pulling my blanket close, “I’m in, I guess.”

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Two Styles of Hard Games, How We Play Them, and Why We Like Them

I’ve been playing Hopoo Games’s Deadbolt lately and thorougly enjoying it. I just barely beat Capter 2 Level 1, and 2:2, to me, looks almost impossibly difficult (ended up beating it while writing this. –ð). Attempting this level is certainly going to result in me being gunmurdered by vampires many, many times (it did. –ð), and yet, I’m excited for it. Why do we like hard games? What is driving me to persist through failure after failure? I think it has something to do with the way games structure their challenges, and the ways in which human beings pursue self-development.

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Today’s Cartoons are Best Cartoons: Getting the Tech Episode Right

This week on “Cartoons Today are So Much Better Than in the 90’s”; Nickelodeon’s family-comedy serial The Loud House manages to get the obligatory “modern technology” storyline right! It seems like ever since smartphones ushered in the social media lifestyle, cartoons never managed to get through an episode dedicated to the topic without muttering about dang kids and getting off lawns.

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Going Around: Fragments of Our Finest Selves

Roleplaying games.  For some of us at BLP, they’re our bread and butter (I’m one of those lucky jerks who gets to play them as part of my day job).  For some of us, they’re a recent discovery.  Psychodrama, the performative act of becoming someone else in mind, and sometimes in body, is an ancient one that galvanized culture and led to most forms of art and entertainment in the present day.  Roleplaying games connect us to aspects of other people and ourselves, and helps open our eyes to new perspectives.  This week’s Going Around poses this prompt to our team of contributors: Tell us about an RPG character (tabletop or otherwise) who has stuck with you after the game is done.

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THE TIME HAS COME

…TO PUNISH.  YOUR.  NOVEL.

(Or whatever other creative pursuit you may be engaged in today.)

DEATHNOWRIMO 2017 is live on Discord (all day) and Twitter (until I go to bed, and then Miki picks up the reins some hours later).  Our Extra Life charity stream begins at 10AM EST and ends at 11AM EST tomorrow–yes, we’re packing 25 hours of games into our stream, for the kids, and for you!  Catch those on our Twitch page starting at 10AM EST, and check out our Extra Life page to help kids at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center!

‘Twas the Eve Before DEATHNOWRIMO…

Kamen Rider Calliope Update #1!

When I write something, especially a fiction piece, the question “why am I writing this?” passes through my mind a lot. It’s not referring to the large-scale, navel-gazing “why”; if that hadn’t been answered for me already, I wouldn’t have even started writing the piece in the first place. It’s the smaller, more close-and-personal “whys” that make me sit back sometimes and take a more scrutinizing look at how I’m writing something.

Why am I writing a character that embodies certain traits? Why am I using this setting? Why am I skipping over these details to focus on some other ones? For a writer, every word is a drop of paint on a canvas; no matter how small it may be on its own, a single tiny morpheme ultimately plays a part in shaping the audiences’ perception of your piece. To quote some already-abundant advice, make every word count.

This fiction piece I’m writing, Kamen Rider Calliope, is meant to fit into a pre-existing framework with well-established tropes and traditions. However, using prose instead of film as a storytelling medium creates another degree of separation between my story and the “purest essence” of what Kamen Rider is as a work of fiction. It would take a work of genius beyond my imagining to write a fanfiction that would perfectly evoke the sensation of watching Kamen Rider as a TV show. I never want to say that a creative endeavor is utterly impossible, but saying it would be attainable is almost insulting to the art of cinematic storytelling. There’s magic that can be produced through the lens of a camera when actors, script and cinematography all catalyze perfectly; words fail to describe the many layers of emotion and symbolism that can be seen in a tiny instant of a film.

I’m going to stop there because I’m in no way trying to say that prose is inferior to film; the two are simply different, and there are creative apexes that neither medium can truly cross over into, respectively. In following my intention to evoke the trademark feeling and pace of a Kamen Rider show, I’ve found that the scenes I’ve got planned out require a much higher wordcount to get through than I was expecting. At the time of this writing, I’m about halfway through act one of my outlined narrative, which would translate into the first two episodes of a Kamen Rider TV show. I’m predicting this act will be around 15,000-20,000 words in all… Now consider how most Kamen Rider series are 40 to 50 episodes total.

I’m not quite sure what I’ve gotten myself into, but for now I’ve still got the optimism to keep going full-steam.

— Nagi

Jokers & Journeys: The Tarot Expansion

To play Jokers & Journeys with Tarot cards, use the pip cards as usual. A Royal Family becomes that much more difficult to score; a Blackjack is played with the Page of each suit and its corresponding 10 (you can call it a “reversed reading” if you want to). The Major Arcana are as follows:

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New Project Announcement!

Hello, readers and writers! I hope folks are having a productive NaNoWriMo. I’m plugging away on my own work, which ties into the news I have today.

In the coming months I will be publishing a serial fiction story through BloodLetterPress, the Kamen Rider Calliope Project.  Every week you’ll be able to check in on our site to read the latest installment, similar to novels published in newspapers or magazines in the 19th and 20th centuries. The format has since mostly migrated online, and I’ve been interested in exploring the medium for awhile now.

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Inktober 3: The Third One

Well, here I am, a few days late and a dollar or so short–but, I am here, and that counts for something. It’s been an adventure fighting the inky beast, but guess what? It turns out that the ol’ beasty is actually pretty rad, and instead of fighting them, I should have just been like, totally embracing this inky fiend all along, you know? Anyway, all’s well that ends well, so with a cramped up drawing hand, and stars in my eyes, I can finally close this chapter of my sketchbook with a sense of pride. Continue reading Inktober 3: The Third One