Friday, August 19, 2016

First Lines

Works of fiction often come to be known by their openings. "Call me Ishmael." "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

In that spirit, I'm posting the opening lines of my various short story and novel manuscripts. Today we have:

"We’re all transparent. Hold your hand up to a light. Doesn't it make you anxious? Our bones and veins and organs, it’s just fruit suspended in strawberry jello. A bright enough light and our insides glow, a neon sign, open."

Although the story is by no means done, the opening paragraph, the spark which drove me to write this story down, originally began as follows:

"It's strange. Hold your hand up to a light. There are the bones, shadows swimming in red pink jelly. Veins like neon.That we can see through so easily. Guess that's what X-rays are. Just powerful light. Light bouncing and projecting, the world always a fraction of a second in the past. Maybe the whole thing is just a projection; theory that we’re all just holograms projected on dimensions of spacetime beyond perception."

Who knows what the next month will change.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE

A play in One Act
By Keith Good and Terri Foltz

(Lights up on a library. A demure LIBRARIAN stands at a shelf, straightening books, humming. A BUM enters, looking rough, stumbling ever so slightly.)

BUM:
(Loudly)
I need to win friends—

LIBRARIAN:
Shh.

BUM:
(quieter)
I need to win friends and influence people.

LIBRARIAN:
You could start with a breath mint.

BUM:
No, the book.

LIBRARIAN:
The what?

BUM:
Is… This is the library, right? Are you not familiar with Dale Carnegie? C-A-R—

LIBRARIAN:
I assure you, I know how to spell. Spelling is de rigueur at Yale.

BUM:
Oh, you went to Yale? As in…New Haven, “Yale?”

LIBRARIAN:
No, the Yale School for Dogs. Of course New Haven Yale.

BUM:
Yale...The best 2 ½ years of my life. New England Autumn often wins the song of poets and philosophers, but I’ve found no beauty as sublime as the campus green stirring with Spring’s flame… Co-Eds budding under budding cherry trees, sunshine molting their winter skins—

LIBRARIAN:
Wait, you…you graduated from Yale? In 2 ½ years?

BUM:
(laughs)
Graduate? From Yale? Oh, no. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

8-Bit Encyclopaedia: Bucky O'Hare


Bucky O'Hare hit the NES in January of 1992 to almost zero fanfare. Developed by Konami, Bucky O'Hare drowned in the wake of Nintendo's newly-released 16-bit Super NES console. Gaming fans were too busy with Super Mario World and F-Zero to care about a green-furred, epaulet-wearing space rabbit.

Bucky O'Hare: the NES's
only hero with epaulets!
Bucky also suffered by association. Two out of every three NES games released in 1992 were either sequels or adaptions1. Much like Hollywood does with today's blockbuster films, NES game developers turned to pre-existing intellectual properties as a way to hedge potential losses in an increasingly competitive home gaming market.

The NES had mixed success with adapted properties. Turds like Back to the Future, The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, Fester's Quest (the Adams Family), Jaws, Top Gun, Die Hard and Hudson Hawk stunk up store shelves. The Bucky O'Hare comic and cartoon were themselves seen as derivative of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For all intents and purposes, Bucky O'Hare looked like Konami's last attempt to cash in before the NES died.

But let's remember, this is Konami, developers of Castlevania, Contra, TMNT II, Metal Gear and Tiny Toon Adventures. Books shouldn't be judged by their covers2. Bucky O'Hare is one of the best run 'n' gun platforming games on the NES console.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Billy Beane Buys a Sandwich

Below is a lovely snippet of my latest work over at TheSpitter.com, a David Ives-ian look at baseball's fascination with Moneyball:

Billy Beane Buys a Sandwich

A Play in One Act by Keith Good

(Lights up; the scene is frozen. A Baker stands in an apron and toq behind a “Sandwich” counter in the O-Co Coliseum. Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane is standing before the counter. Very serious. OPS Machine Scott Hatteberg and Pete the stats geek browse the soft pretzels. Pete is looking at Billy Beane. They stand in tableaux, a moment of stillness.)
PETE. Is that…Billy Beane?
HATTEBERG. I think so. (Hatteberg turns and looks)
BAKER. Can I help you sir?
BEANE. I need a loaf of bread, please.
BAKER. We usually sell sandwiches, Mr. Beane, but if you want…
PETE. It’s time now.
HATTEBERG. I should go. (But they don’t move. Billy turns and looks at Hatteberg. They look in silence at one another, frozen.)
BAKER. Do you know that man? (A bell rings. The lights change.)
BEANE. (Dreamily) He gets on base a lot. Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit? If ever they make a movie about how I assemble personnel—
BAKER. They did make a movie—
BEANE. Hatteberg would be emblematic of my frugal, analytic-driven baseball.

To the small slice of Venn Diagram between "Theater Geek" and "Baseball Analytics Nerd," READ THE REST AT THESPITTER.COM!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The NFL's Choice: Flopping or Falling Slack

The NFL has a rules problem1. The 2016 Wild Card game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh shows a league completely without control. The players can’t control themselves. The coaches can’t control their players. Coaches can’t control other coaches. The officials can’t control the game.

Steeler fans may disagree on principle, but Cincinnati/Pittsburgh ended in the worst imaginable way. The officials, waist-deep and drowning fast after a four-quarter deluge of chaos and fighting, gamely tried to scoop the water from their sinking boat with yellow flags.

Which isn’t to say either of the game’s signature penalties weren’t well-earned. I can only lament that they had but 15 yards to penalize for Burfict’s headhunting; it deserved 45. And Adam Jones has no business shoving an opposing coach (even a coach with absolutely no business on the field of play). Ultimately, though, blame rests on the NFL to have let a marquee game deteriorate to the point that two desperate flags in the waning seconds should be the difference between victory and defeat.

Sports fans moan and sneer when Major League Baseball umpires toss batters for seemingly insignificant reasons. Football fans are particularly chuckle and roll their eyes at FIFA soccer players flopping for fouls2

But an MLB Umpshow is far preferable to an NFL Shitshow. And I’d rather see a player flopping to draw a foul than a player going limp after being struck in the head by blunt-force trauma.

As the NFL rules now stand, players fear little in-game retribution from officials. Post-game, NFL Emperor Roger Goodell can hand down fines and suspensions, but what is threat of a fine if it means your team advances toward the Super Bowl? Find me an NFL player who wouldn’t trade 25 large for a win and I’ll find you the lost city of Atlantis.

The word “ejection” appears only once—once!—in the NFL rulebook, in Section 3, Article 1, in describing a player who carries a “foreign object” on the field. “Disqualification” appears 9 times, couched in either hazy or overly extreme language. A flagrant roughing the passer foul can result in ejection (but has it ever?). A player removing their helmet and using it as a weapon results in ejection. “Palpably Unfair Action(s)” can result in ejection.

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh showed the NFL needs to borrow from FIFA and MLB and amend its rulebook.

First, the NFL needs to give its officials the power to issue what in MLB is a “bench warning.” If a pitcher throws over a batter’s head, the MLB umpire can go to each dugout and inform team managers that any subsequent flagrant actions by either team will result in punitive action and player ejection.

The moment Steelers Coach Mike Munchak swung Bengal Reggie Neslon by the hair, the officials should have issued a “bench warning.” Not a sideline warning—where officials warn that coaches and players have crowded too close (or onto) the field of play—but an explicit and strict warning that any ensuing knuckleheadedness would earn players and coaches an all-expenses paid trip to the showers.

These rules need explicitly apply to players and coaches alike. Not to point fingers, but actions during the Wild Card game only continue the recent narrative of Steeler coaches interfering with on-field action. “Accidentally” tripping a player or instigating fights must result immediate in-game retribution for offending coaches.

Subsequent to any “bench warning,” on-field personnel rules must strictly enforced starting yesterday and officials must have power to toss coaches. Steelers coach Joey Porter entered the field of play late in the 4th Quarter fully intending to draw an unsportsmanlike call from out-of-control, hot-headed Bengals players3. There was no logical reason for Porter to be on the field other than Bengal-baiting. The moment his foot crossed the white line, it should have been 15-yards and enjoy your flight home.

In tandem with MLB-style “bench warnings” the NFL must also institute a FIFA-styled Red Card system. NFL rules must specify that repeated personal fouls (perhaps, outside of incidental facemask penalties) will, without question, without bloviation and without further recourse, result in immediate disqualification. Call it the #BurfictRule if you’d like. That way, if Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis can’t control his emotionally-challenged linebackers, the officials can step in and do it for him.

College Football already has these rules in place. Take as an example, the Fiesta Bowl pitting Ohio State against Notre Dame. The Buckeyes’ All-World defensive end Joey Bosa led with his helmet in making a tackle late in the first quarter. Because NCAA Football rules explicitly prohibit leading with the crown of the helmet, Bosa was instantly disqualified from the game4. As Walter Sobchak would say, “This isn’t ‘Nam, Smoky. There are Rules.”

If the NFL wants to see Super Bowl 100, rules changes must be made in the interests of decency and player safety. Mothers and fathers are already pushing children toward safer sports. We’re nearing the point that local legislators may have to step in: if the NFL won’t hold needless violence accountable, perhaps civil courts will. Our knowledge of CTE and post-concussion syndrome are only going to grow. Already football fans cry and moan misogyny, equating safety-minded rules changes to skipping through fields and picking posies, but its high time America’s sport and its fans take a look in the mirror.

Would you rather see Antonio Brown flopping for a foul, or Antonio Brown slack and unconscious on the field of play?





1. Actually, it has a number of them. One of the game’s basic actions, completing a catch, is now bogged down in an NFL War and Peace of hazy language and amorphous definition: “Making a football move,” “Becoming a runner,” “Maintaining the catch.” Catches in 2016’s NFL seem to be judged by Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter’s infamous definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” But we digress.
2. Or a flopping NBA player, for that matter.
3. And of course they fell for his trolling like the dopes they are.
4. Which isn’t to say the NCAA’s Targeting rule isn’t fraught with its own problems in language, only that it’s a clear example of promising ejection to bad play and then following through.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Browns Reach Apathy-Level Awfulness

Cleveland Browns:Professional Football::Tang:Orange Juice.

At this point, Cleveland shouldn't be calling themselves a "Football Team," so much as a "American Football-styled Sports Franchise." Some pundits want the head coach fired. Other talking heads yip and yap about a bumbling General Manager or a crooked owner. In response to all this I can only say the following:

Do whatever you want, Cleveland, because it's difficult for me to find a flying rat's tail to give anymore.

Monday, September 14, 2015

First Lines

Just another in a series I'm starting; taking a look at that first spark that puts my pen (UniBall Signo 207 or bust) to paper and gets the ink flowing. Perhaps I'll revisit these once I win a Hugo or Pulitzer...or five.

I should say this draft is also singular in that, instead of putting paper to pen, this one was thumb to touchscreen: this was drafted entirely on a smartphone using Google Docs. Appropriate, given it's nature.


"It's not so bad as it sounds, being your refrigerator's pet."


So what do you think? Hooked? Left cold? What story would you expect this line to belong to? Feel free to comment below.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

8 Bit Encyclopaedia - Ninja Gaiden 3


What's behind your back?
Sometimes, you beat a video game and watch the credits with a silent swell of satisfaction. Sometimes, you beat a video game and shout obscenities as the boss disintegrates into pixels and then run around the room blasting the double-bird at the dead bastard. Ninja Gaiden III: The Ainceint Ship of Doom1 falls into the latter category.

Tecmo released Ninja Gaiden III to Japan in late June of 1991 and in America a few months later. Anyone familiar with the game's more popular forebears knows the routine: Ninja Ryu Hayabusa runs and jumps through screen after screen of perilously-placed baddies, slashing everything with his dragon sword. Along the way he collects magical power-ups such as spiraling fireballs and ninja stars. The game reveals plot through cinematic cut-scenes2.

Ninja Gaiden III makes small tweaks to this formula. First, Ninja Gaiden III gives Ryu the ability to hang down from and crawl under certain platforms. It's a nice change and allows for more variety in level design. The game's powerup pods also kindly show the prizes within. Opaque pods in previous Gaiden titles often saw Ryu slashing a pod and receiving an unwanted sub-weapon3. Ninja Gaiden III also makes minor adjustments to game physics. Compared to Ninja Gaidens I and II, Ryu jumps smoother and farther.
Ninja Gaiden (1989)
Ryu jumps 4 body lengths
Ninja Gaiden III (1991)
Ryu jumps and floats 4+ body lengths
There's a plot in Ninja Gaiden III but it's terribly contrived and not really worth much mention. The opening cinematic shows Ryu's girlfriend falling from a cliff to her doom, pushed by...[gasp] Ryu! Accused of murder, Ryu quests to clear his name, stumbling onto a vast government conspiracy of clones, genetic experiments and inter-dimensional evil. It's a pity the game falls into such vanilla Anime tropes, as the first two Gaiden games had decent plotting and character development. Here? Not so much--just shut up about plot and go slash some stuff!


Monday, August 17, 2015

First Lines

Juleah's term paper came back unsullied by editorial red, save the obese F and a terse, slanting note:
"Well-written (no surprise) but factually ignorant. Next semester, consider actually reading your father's novel."

So, is this a gripping line? Is it Kafka's axe, smashing the frozen sea? Or just a herring trying to cut down a tree? Feel free to let me know.