Living the Good Life, Episode 19 (September 9, 2016): True relaxation!

Yes yes yes, being home is a lot nicer than being away. Here’s what I’ve been doing to unwind after my trip to South Carolina:


WATCHAN:

No new eps of One-Punch Man, as it was just a marathon of the previous ones last Saturday.

Berserk 10: I thought this episode was OK, despite, yet again, the poor animation and sound effects, simply because the battle of Guts versus Mozgus’ underlings was so cool. I also thought the conversation between Luca and the Egg-Shaped apostle was quite interesting, just as good as it had been in the manga. But once again, the weird choices of scene breaks make it seem like this director is pretty inexperienced…

Jojo 23: What an awesome, edge-of-your-seat fight! And it was great to see Koichi get an upgrade, though IMO it was a little out of place…Koichi’s previous abilities all revolved around sound, but this one seems to be a gravity manipulator. Oh well, still cool 😀

Macross 23: Yet another episode in which not a whole lot happens, although there does seem to be an intriguing connection between Mikumo and “Rudanjal Rom Mayan.” I really hope these mysteries get cleared up soon…

PLAYAN:

Still just grinding Vindictus :p Not really enjoying it, though…the revamped mass raids (from 24 to 16 people, now) are terrible. The bosses have so much HP that going through them is a chore rather than entertaining. Same issue I have with Ein Lacher (the boss rush mode). Vindictus fights tend to be engaging in short bursts, but much longer and they’re just soporific.

Making things worse, there’s a big event that gives you a lot of bonuses for leveling up your other characters to 90, but…ehhhh, I just can’t get excited for it. Maybe this is a sign I’m outgrowing Vindictus, or that it’s getting old…we’ll see.

TIMAN:

A bit of a delay on Dragonar–I gotta ask a translator from waaaay back a quick question about the translation for an insert song, but she’s hard to get a hold of ;_; I’ll keep tryin…

READAN:

The Deep by Michaelbrent Collins. I read and loved another title from him, The Apparition, so I checked this one out as well. I liked it, but not as much…to briefly summarize, the protagonist (Sue)’s sister (Deb) went missing on a dive, and our heroine sets out to find her! Along for the ride are her estranged father, a couple of nice guys, a beaten-down woman, and a couple of very suspicious, shady guys you know are gonna cause trouble down the line. Of course, not long afterwards, they all find that something very evil, creepy, and decidedly non-human–in fact, like nothing they’ve ever seen before–is waiting for them at the dive site, ready to consume them like it consumed Sue’s sister!

First, the good: The characters are extremely well-drawn. I really ended up liking Sue and her love interest, Tim, along with their friend Jimmy and Sue’s estranged father, Cal. The villainous characters are even better, though–I’ll not spoil who it is, but suffice to say Collins’s glimpse into the mind of a self-centered psychopath is perhaps the most convincing of any I’ve read.

But the bad…well, there’s not much *too* bad, to be perfectly fair. If this is one of your first “horror at sea” novels, you’ll be reasonably pleased, but if you’ve read a few of them like I have, this story will seem a little by the numbers. Again, I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but the evil deep-sea beastie is quite frightening, and there are some very scary and graphic scenes of it doing its evil monster thing, but it’s not exactly original. I found its operation to be kind of similar to the creature from Paul Cooley’s “The Black” series, though its true nature is a little different. Again, I’ll be vague to avoid spoilers, but Collins never divulges the beast’s true identity–which is good, that sort of ambiguity suits a horror novel–so we’re never exactly certain what it looks like exactly, what exactly it wants, or whether it’s supernatural or a “science-fiction” kind of creature. Still, like I said, it’s shocking enough, so I gave it 4 stars.

Nathaniel by John Saul. I absolutely loved John Saul as a kid, and this novel displays his strengths. He’s a fantastic writer, and his way with words is a subtle, slow burn–aside from the opening scene, things start out normal and ordinary, but slowly build up into a terrifying conclusion, with the true nature of events making itself known over time.

The “true nature” of events in this story, though, is…kinda weird. I was able to figure out what was going on in most other Saul stories, like Creature, Brain Child, and Shadows, but by the end of Nathaniel I wasn’t exactly sure what was up with the titular “ghost”–and, to avoid spoilers, all I’ll say is that he’s not quite a ghost, at least not exactly. In fact, the revelations concerning him seemed strange and entirely out of left field. So in the end, I’ll give it 4 stars, but you may want to give the story 3 if an incongruous plot point will really stick in your mind.

Altar by Philip Fricassi. This was masterfully written–it involves something freaky happening at a public pool with a lot of middle and high school-age kids, and he painted very vivid portraits of all the young main characters as well as their parents, which is impressive in a relatively short story. He also does a good job of creating a mounting sense of dread via non-supernatural means. The end, though…your mileage may vary. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but like with so many other horror stories, the sorts of which I’ve mentioned many times in my reviews, the real horror is not described in detail. Again, as I say equally often, that’s a mark of good horror, but some folks might find this one to be too abstract. Aside from the aforementioned sense of impending dread and doom, there’s no foreshadowing that the pool will…turn out in the particular way it does in any of the previous pages, except a kid noticing a strange crack in the bottom of the pool. So while some might savor the surprise, others might have no idea what’s going on at the end. Me, though? I liked it.

SHOOTAN:

Actually went and fired an AR-15 for the first time on Wednesday! Pretty fun, pretty fun, and I didn’t get PTSD, unlike that Gershman guy XD I might go again on Saturday or next week and write more about it…if I can, it’s pretty expensive. 10 dollars for 20 rounds of 5.56 ammo for the AR. That adds up!

WRITAN:

Not much, aside from mailing in my revised draft to my profs. Might do more next week…

 

And more stuff besides, anyways. See you next Friday ;D

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