Archive for » January, 2011 «

Sunday, January 30th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

Ah video games, the perfect addition to sedentary afternoon.

A good two years ago, we gamers were blessed with “Dead Space”, a nice little third person shooter for the Xbox 360 and PS3. The game was full of blood and guts and had a pretty gripping story line that would be right at home with any number of horror flicks.

If you’re a TV watcher, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the ad campaign for the sequel, i.e. “Your’e Mom’s Gonna Hate It”. The commercials promise even more gruesome game play and a full fledged continuation of the story. As of last week, the game was released to the public and we were able to find out if our mom’s would indeed hate the game.

I’m a long way from being done with the game but from what I’ve seen in 3 chapters? It’s pretty damn great!

As for the mechanics of the game, much of it is identical to our run through the Ishimura back in 2008. The controls handle the same. The seat of your pants trek through dark and shadowy corridor game play is the same. There really wasn’t anything wrong with the first game in these departments, so there’s nothing wrong with reusing it once again. Things are so close, you can access your original upgraded Plasma Gun from your “Dead Space” game save!

There are a few new additions to the formula, such as quick time events if you find yourself pinned down by a creature. These are simple so they don’t become to troublesome. The other big improvement comes in the graphics department which is flat out great. The dark steel environments of the game come to life in smooth high res graphics and all of it ties together to make a damn engrossing story. Those high res graphics help make this one hell of a gory game as well!

After three chapters of game play, this is obviously not a full review. It is enough for me to confidently say ‘this game is awesome, go play it now!’. The scenes are all filled with tension and foreboding and makes for some of my favorite ‘horror gaming’ I’ve had on the 360 in awhile. You all know me…I’m a bit jaded with all the horror movies I’ve watched and reviewed over the years. Dead Space 2? This one has made me jump a dozen times so far! Sure, a lot of the jumps are due to the cheapest b-movie ploys known to man. They deploy them in great fashion though!

So consider this a preview as I don’t have any more time to spend talking bout it. I have a few more chapters to tackle before the day winds down!

Quick Edit: Holy crap, I just found this awesome Dead Space 2 Rig Hoodie over at the Visceral Studios Store. Time to figure out how to talk the wife into letting me blow $60 on a sweatshirt!

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Saturday, January 29th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

Today I went for a walk. 4 miles later, it was the end cap of a banner 7 mile week.

If you’re like me, you get a little tired of talking to yourself around the 1.5 mile mark (I’m so moody, I’m no fun to talk to when I get in a mood). The best fix? Rock and or Roll of course! Thanks to a new music service I’m checking out, (feel free to take a gander at Rdio out yourself, it’s pretty awesome!) you can share in the aptly named playlist that pushed me on my adventures this week; “In the 90′s, When I was Cool”.

(Countdown to my old friends commenting with “You were cool in the 90′s?” begins in 3…2…1…)

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

Portrait of Fat Man in Motion

I learned a long time ago; when you’re waging a year long battle against a bitter enemy, it’s the smallest victories that count. You could look on it in the negative light such as “you may have won the battle, but you have not yet won the war”, but this is a positive post, none of that glass half empty shit here!

So far, 2011 has been a year of change. I quit smoking. That was no small battle, I can assure you. My writing output has increased greatly. You could say I’m now driven. Hell, even the old noggin is a bit clearer in the day to day routine now, much to the happiness of my boss at work! The next biggest change; weight loss.

I’ve done weight loss before. Back around 2004-2005? I lost 65 lbs. I Dropped from 300 to 235 lbs. It was awesome. But then I got sick in the head, I turned to junk food for comfort and well…we’re going to start this mess all over again. It’s all right though. Clearer head means it’s going to stick this time.

The routine has been in flux and in flux for the better. Today, (January 27th) sees the start of a new Weight Watchers program. It also sees myself weighing in six pounds lighter! (In case that wasn’t clear, I’VE LOST SIX FREAKING POUNDS!!!) So, the changes are working. Though I’ve been spotty at best, I’ve resumed my walking which helped me drop so much weight before. I love to walk; it’s just so damn cold in central Indiana.

Now, I’ve come up with a fix for the “walking in the cold” problem. It’s no secret that I’m a giant nerd. It’s also no secret that I’m a giant man child in that I love my Xbox probably more than I should. Generally, video games are associated with wasting hours sitting on the couch eating Cheetos but since we gave the daughter a Kinect this past Christmas, that image has changed. Coll has taken to the new regimen better than I have, but we now have in our possession two Xbox games, “The Biggest Loser” and “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved”. Both games provide an aerobic workout in the privacy of your own home. I’ve had my doubts about a aerobics video game being effective; judging from my weak knees and the screaming pain in my joints? They work pretty damn good!

(Just for clarity here, this doesn’t mean you won’t find me slack jawed in the dark living room playing Dead Space 2 for hours on end. It just means I’ve uh…varied my play style a bit!)

At any rate, the personal change machine feels good when you start to see positive results from it. Let’s hope I can get back down to a size where I can wear my nifty “Damaged Hearing” t-shirt I love so much. Regardless, for this fat man, it turns out that the secret to weight loss? Achievement points on Xbox Live!

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

Last week I made mention that I was nominated in the 1st Annual Podcast Podcast Award Show Spectacular in the ‘Best Podcasting Parents’ Category!

Well, last night was the big show and I’m proud to say…I won! So thanks to all you folks out there that threw a me a vote, greatly appreciated! I’ll happily wear my special edition custom Podcast Podcast shirt with pride!

Congrats to the other winners, which included the likes of Miss Bren and Brother D from Mail Order Zombie for ‘Best Apocalyptic Musings’!

With that, I’ve got to get out of these Manolo Blahnick’s and my Armani gown I wore on the red carpet, my feet are killing me! While you’re winding down from the after parties, be sure to listen to Episode 43 of The Podcast Podcast to hear the full award show and give Fozzie and Andy some love!

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Monday, January 24th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

Being a fan of comedian Patton Oswalt and his nerdy comic book loving ways, I was pretty excited to hear that he was releasing his first book. With my new Kindle-fueled reading binge raging on in full force, I’ve been trying my hardest to broaden my reading horizons a bit. Oswalt’s “Zombie Spaceship Wasteland” looked like a perfect fit. Out side of a few niggling problems with the book, it turned out to be a decent fit that stretched a bit tight like a slightly too small t-shirt encasing an over sized beer gut.

More than anything, I’ve always felt I could relate to Oswalt on a personal level. He’s a smartassed nerd that isn’t afraid to be self depricating when needed. There’s also the raging nerdism that he doesn’t try to hide such as his love of comics, science fiction and scotch. In many ways, I see myself in the same type of light. If not that, Ive always seen him as the type of person that would fit in perfectly with my circle of friends. The parts of “Zombie Spaceship Wateland” that I loved helped to cement these feelings. The anecdotal tales of his past are great little insights into what made Oswalt the comedian he is today. The stories are engaging, at times they are worrisome. At other times they are hilarious or familar. A nice all around package with well rounded stories.

The book is not all rainbows and sunshine however. Breaking up the flow of the actual stories contained between the covers are a series of disjointed tangents. On their own or as a part of his stand up act, the ideas could be hilarious. In the context of a series of autobiographical stories, they just feel out of place. Again, that’s not to say that these short pieces are unfunny; some of them are great. They’re just a poor fit in what is otherwise a solid book.

Is “Zombie Spaceship Wasteland” a mind blowing fork in a already well established comedian’s career? Not exactly. Its definitely a taste of what could be in store for us should Oswalt decide to write another book. His narration and story telling are great. It would just be nice to see some focus thrown in.

In the end, if you’re a Patton Oswalt fan, give book a read. There’s plenty there to enjoy

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Thursday, January 13th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

Back at the end of October, I sat in with my cohort Mark over at Bloody Good Horror for an interview with The Podcast Podcast! Our host Fozziebare was hell of a host indeed and it was a great time.

“The Podcast Podcast” has been growing strong and Jason and his co-host have been pumping out some great episodes. Now they’ve turned the volume up eleven with their year end spectacular which they’re paired with their first awards show! They’ve decided to make up a few awards for their past guests and the voting has begun!

I’m blushing here; He’s nominated me in the Best Podcasting Parents category!

That’s pretty awesome, I’d say!

At any rate, I’m not trolling for votes. The prizes are a spiffy new Podcast Podcast T-shirt, but I’m positive the other two nominees with me in the category are great parents, so they deserve votes just as much as I do! I mean heck, how do you campaign against fellow parents? It’s a hard job!

The point is, thanks to Fozzie and Andy for the nomination. It made me start my day feeling pretty damn awesome!

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Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

Awww isn’t he kewt!!! >^__^<

He is. But that’s not the “Bloodhound” I’m talking about, sorry. No, the “Bloodhound” I’m talking about is something a little darker, quite a bit uglier and all together different. Not a cute and precocious pup with a talented sniffer but a novella about a large and sweaty man with a lack of people skills and talented sniffer of his own! Really, it’s not much to go on for you so consider this a little tease.

This recent turn of the calendar into 2011 has left me with a renewed work ethic in the writing frontier. I spent many months last year getting my head back on straight and getting some ideas solidified. I figure now’s as good a time as any to stop making excuses and getting some of these written. So far, this plan has worked well! For the past week and half, I’ve been ‘butt in chair’ every night for around an hour and a half, churning out word count for the gritty world that Colton Dann, a.k.a. the main character of “Bloodhound”, occupies.

Now what is “Bloodhound”? “Bloodhound” is my grand experiment. This will be a novella that will run somewhere in the area of 60 to 70 pages in the end to which I will then be selling as an e-book. It’s going to be cheap, I promise! I can’t give you details on who it’s coming from, just rest assured that its coming!

2011 will hopefully be a busy year as far as myself and Cinema Fromage go. I’m not too big on sharing my goals out too publically, but there are a number of them writing related and in the end, I’ll need you the reader’s support to help pull these things off!

Among the various goals;
- The release of “Bloodhound” in e-book format

- Plans for 3 other Novella e-books throughout the year

- Finishing my first novel “Dinner for Denton” and get that bad boy out there circulating amongst possible publishers and agents

- Short stories! Let’s face it: I’ve sat on my ass long enough on short stories. The current plan? Writing and submitting one short story per every two chapters completed in the novel/novella. Sounds ambitious, yes. That’s okay though, I have big ambitions for 2011

- The continuation of my participation in The Bloody Good Horror Podcast. What can I say, after nearly three years with those guys, I’ve come to like ‘em. I don’t plan on leaving that anytime soon.

- A Cinema Fromage collection? Maybe. The idea of pulling together a large number of reviews from the archives here at has crossed my mind a number of times. It may just happen this year. I don’t know that anybody would actually want to buy this collection, I sure want one for my own bookshelf though!

-Anthologies! You can look for “Mondo Sasquatch” coming out here in a few months. There are stories in the works for “Darker” (the sequel to “Dark”) as well. I plan on aiming some short story subs to other anthologies as well.

-Some other things I’m not going to tell you about yet!

As you can see, it could be a big year for “Casey Criswell, Author”! Hopefully I’ll stick to my guns and hopefully you all will look forward to the output!

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Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’d like to think that everybody out there has at least heard the name Jim Croce if not the music. A singer-songwriter out of the late 60′s and early 70′s, he was well know for warning you off of stepping on Superman’s cape in “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” or his crooning love song “Time in a Bottle”. You’ve heard it in the background a million places and may never have realized what exactly what you were listening too. Today I came across a copy of “Photographs and Memories”, his greatest hits album, so I popped it into my mp3 player here at work. Some 38 years later? It’s still pretty great music. I just wasn’t expecting the giant wave of nostalgia that came with it.

I’m an older guy at the wise old age of 36, I’m not quite old enough to remember hearing actual Jim Croce on the radio. I know the singer quite well through my dad though. He was one of my dad’s favorites I’d have to say. I lost my dad back in 1993, the day after Thanksgiving. It was a big shock to us all, it hurt and it was a hard time. The Croce nostalgia carries me back to happier times though. My dad’s favorite thing in the world to do (besides fishing)? Singing along with the radio. In those final few years before he passed away, he bought a new car that came with a stock CD player in the stereo. There’s a strong chance that CD Player was a major decision maker in his purchase. He loved that thing. In those years I had turned 18 but Dad and I still spent a lot of time hanging out on the weekends. As a single guy, Dad always thought it was a blast to go cruising through town in his sports car with the stereo blaring. Blaring things like Jim Croce. Blaring things like Jim Croce while singing along at the top of his lungs.

As you can imagine, this was a hard thing to take as an 18 year old fresh out of high school.

It was fun though. He was enjoying himself with his country and easy listening CD’s. His voice just didn’t quite match up in quality to the tunes he was crooning along with. I’m fairly certain he was aware of this fact; I think he just didn’t care. I say this because as many traits and habits are handed down from father to son, I’m just as bad. Everywhere I drive? I’m singing along at the top of lungs, off key but on beat! And the truth behind it all? I could give a shit what anybody thinks about it. It makes the drive fun and enjoyable and looking back, I can see exactly why my dad did the same.

I’m just shocked to find out it wasn’t just to embarrass me like I thought it was back in 1992!

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Tuesday, January 04th, 2011 | Author: Casey Criswell

Back in 1984, William Gibson blew the collective minds of sci-fi fans the world over by inventing “cyber punk” with his novel “Neuromancer”. Some time later, let’s say 1994 or so, he blew my mind when I finally read the book. It was gritty, it was bleak, and it was futuristic. I loved every minute over it. Even though the internet back then wasn’t what it is today, it was big enough to make the matrix as presented in “Neuromancer’s I did some digging around and soon found out that Gibson had actually wrote a trilogy known as the “Sprawl Trilogy” which included “Count Zero” and “Mona Lisa Overdrive”. More cyber punk? Oh hell yes! I rushed out and bought both of the books right away which was easy seeing as I was the assistant manager of a book store at the time. That was around 1995.

Up until this recent 2010 holiday? They sat on my book shelf collecting dust. What can I say, I get distracted easily.

To be honest, they’re still sitting there on the book shelf untouched. With the shiny new Kindle I received for Christmas however, I’ve actually progressed leaps and bounds on my ‘books I should have read years ago’ list! The book that started the list was “Count Zero”. Sure, it was a long wait but in the end it was worth it. While the book wasn’t nearly as catching as its predecessor was, it was still a great book with the same grittiness and raw cowboy feel that made the first book so great. Count Zero a.k.a. Bobby Newmark is a character that’s pretty easy to relate with and the other threads that eventually tangled into a solid whole were pretty engaging as well. The only real problem I had with the book was that there wasn’t as much console cowboy hijinks happening and as soon as you sunk your teeth into one character’s story, Gibson would switch you to a different character thread and you would have to settle in once more.

Of course, I haven’t moved on to “Mona Lisa Overdrive” as of yet, but it’s on the list to read down the line. One thing I can say though is that even after 15 years? I still think Mona Lisa Overdrive would be a pretty kick ass band name. That’s neither here nor there though.

The morale of the story here is that the Kindle has been a god send to my reading habits. As a writer, there’s really nothing more important than reading as much as possible. (Aside from actually writing of course.) Seeing as I’ve now knocked out four books since Christmas Eve and started on my fifth, all signs are pointing to the Kindle as being a great tool. Now if I could just pull myself away from it for a bit to get some writing done.

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