Penpal

In my last Web Crush I talked about Mr. Creepy Pasta and one of the videos I included was a creepypasta called “Footsteps” by 1000Vultures. The story is actually part of a series called The Penpal Series. It’s a really great story, the entirety of which can be read here in the reddit r/nosleep community (start with “Footsteps” at the bottom and work up) or listened to on this playlist, as read by Mr. Creepy Pasta, of course. As I mentioned before, I like hearing the stories read, but going to the original posts is fun too because you get to see the author interacting with readers and answering questions. Doing so will get you a little more insight into the world than just what is written since the author answers the questions in character as the narrator of the story, maintaining the conceit that these creepypasta stories are true.

The reason I’m talking about this story in particular is not just because I love it (it’s the story that made me love creepypasta in general and Mr. Creepy Pasta in particular) but because this online author did what so many dream of doing: he got his work published.

I know this isn’t necessarily revolutionary. Writers have gained popularity online and managed to parley that success into real-world business; even fanfiction which has started online has been published, but these success stories aren’t exactly common so it’s always exciting to see someone manage to pull it off.

The author, Dathan Auerbach, began a kickstarter campaign to fund the endeavor and thankfully got enough support to produce the novel. I didn’t get into this story until after all that happened so I don’t know the finer details of it or when it all happened but I was able to reap the rewards and purchase a copy of the novel once it was available on Amazon. I was excited to read it when it arrived and you can read my review under the cut.

The book opens with an introduction called “Memories”. This chapter is completely new material, not having appeared in the original creepypasta series, and I like it a lot. The narrator describes a particular memory of his, a happy one, and then discusses memory in general and how we sometimes let some fade away on purpose and how trying to remember one thing often leads to unlocking more memories. This is a great introduction to the story because it’s exactly what this tale is about. The narrator of this first-person account is diving into his own memories to make sense of his past. Many times things which seem unimportant or benign reveal themselves to be much more sinister the further we go and the more we learn. Chance encounters are rarely ever just that, and when one issue seems at peace something more ominous is often lurking in plain sight.

After the introduction, the first chapter (the first memory) begins. It is “Footsteps”, the same memory which began the creepypasta series. From here on out each chapter corresponds to the original parts of the creepypasta, but there are new details and ideas are further developed than before. The book still reads cohesively though. It doesn’t feel as if Auerbach is merely padding out the existing story, rather, it’s almost as if this was always meant to be a novel and I can only occasionally pinpoint where additions were made to the versions found online.

I did feel that the author could have used a more keen editor though. There were some grammatical and typographical errors that I noticed. Some of them weren’t errors so much as they were awkward phrases and structure, so perhaps it was just a case of my personal taste rather than actual shortcomings on the book’s part in those cases.

Apart from the technical aspect of the book I do have one legitimate complaint against the story. The premise of this tale is that a very young boy is being stalked by someone in his town. This unknown person is nearby and has access to the narrator at all times, as evidenced by various incidents, but most tangibly by the pictures of the narrator which the stalker takes and sends to him. The narrator’s mother is aware of this danger but she still lets her son have an unbelievable amount of freedom.

For much of the story the narrator (and I’m sorry to have to keep calling him that. but he never names himself within the story and I’m not sure it would be appropriate to refer to him as Dathan) is in Kindergarten to Second Grade, making him as young as five to as old as nine. He still somehow manages to spend much of his time unsupervised in the woods behind his house, even going swimming in a secluded lake with no adult supervision. Even under normal circumstances I wouldn’t believe that a parent would give his or her child that kind of freedom at such a young age, but taking into account the fact that his mother knows someone is stalking her child makes it even more preposterous. While she does give him restrictions (Home before dark; check-in every hour, on the hour) it just doesn’t seem to me that any parent with a child in such a situation would allow that child out of their sight without the supervision of one or more trusted adults.

The story is not told in chronological order so it’s possible that I got the timeline messed up and she actually pieced together the truth later into the situation and after some of these episodes, but I don’t believe that’s the case. Even if it is, as I said above, I have a hard time believing any child under ten would be allowed to do some of the activities the author describes.

Despite this complaint, and despite it being a rather large one, I still love this story and encourage you to check it out. Auerbach has an incredible gift for making a situation feel real and bringing the reader’s emotions right along with the character’s. The story unfolds in a very natural way, as though the narrator really is going back into his memories and documenting them, one recollection unlocking another, and as the pieces start to fit together the picture being assembled gets darker and more unsettling. This story builds an unease slowly and effectively until the “resolution” where everything finally fits (at least as well as it’s going to) and the reader is left with a sick feeling that doesn’t want to go away. Even now if you could see my face as I write this review I’m scowling and my lips are curling in distaste as I relive the emotions of this story.

And that’s what makes it so great.

Antonique Smith Makes Her Debut Album…

Well, maybe, if we all help her out!

Antonique Smith is launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund her debut album. The page can be found here and, as you can see, she has a solid start, but still a ways to go.

I have been a fan of Antonique since 2006 when I saw Rent on Broadway for the first time and she played Mimi. Her voice was unbelievable and I thought her acting was great as well. She played a very desperate Mimi which I felt was a great interpretation of the role, and her “Out Tonight” was just incomparable. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this album since that day because I’ve been wanting more of her and especially her voice ever since, so I hope this album will get produced.

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a great way to help fund creative projects such as this. Unlike Indiegogo or gofundme which are similar sites, Kickstarter has almost no risk for the investor. On the aforementioned sites, users donate money to a project and then have to hope that the project receives enough funding to be completed. On Kickstarter, however, the artist makes an “all or nothing” go at their goal because, rather than instantly receiving the donations from supporters, they are instead pledged the money which will only actually become theirs if their goal is met. That’s right, no money changes hands unless the determined goal is met. The way this is done is by an agreement signed when the supporters pledge their money stating that their credit card will not be charged unless the goal is reached.

I truly hope Antonique makes the money she needs to produce her album. She deserves this opportunity and I would love to own an album of her beautiful voice, so please consider donating! You’ll get plenty of gifts from Antonique in return depending on how much you donate, and my own thanks if we can get this done!

Web Crush Wednesdays: Tim Schafer and Double Fine

Lady Geek Girl: Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen! It’s Wednesday again and you know what that means—yep, it’s time for another Web Crush Wednesday! Let’s check out this week’s Web Crush with my pal and our newest writer, Al!

Aperigren: Actually, I prefer Perigren to Al… don’t call me Al.

Lady Geek Girl: Right, cool, no more calling you Al, got it!

Aperigren: Who remembers adventure games? They used to be the norm, whether it was a game about pirates or a screwed up love triangle.  First, it was based on text – “search bed,” we would type. “You found a used condom! You put it in your pocket,” it would excitedly return. Then, technology allowed us to simply click the bed and then add the used condom to our inventory. For some unknown reason, these adventure games seemed to die off in favor of games featuring actual movements and actions.

Still, some of the old point-and-click adventure games are very dear to many of us. Sam & Max Hit the Road for example, remains as a significant beacon of joy from my past. It seems the need for critical thinking and careful observation in games has gone, and I think on such things as relics from days past. What I remember most is the humor in such games. The Secret of Monkey Island remains to this day as one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. Strange how almost all of the humor came from only one man….

Lady Geek Girl: I’ll be honest here, I not that big of a gamer. I love video games, but my experience is limited due to my mother depriving me of them when I was much younger. Since meeting Al here though, my video game knowledge has increased, and my desire to play has grown.

Aperigren: My name isn’t Al, Little Geek Girl.

Lady Geek Girl: What did you just call me!

Aperigren: What? Nothing, Little Nerd Person, let’s just move on.

Lady Geek Girl: You aren’t allowed to call me that! I’m Lady Geek Girl, supreme emperor and ruler of this blog.

Aperigren: Forgive my insolence, tiny dork thing.

Lady Geek Girl: Wha… no one ever speaks to me that way. That’s… that’s… awesome! You have guts! I like you! I think you’ll fit in just fine here.

Anyway, it helps that Perigren here has played on one of my greatest weaknesses—my obsession with cool people. Yep, once I like someone I become a screaming crying fangirl. I mean hell, that’s basically how Web Crush Wednesdays got started! And all it takes to get me interested in playing video games right now is Tim Schafer.

Tim Schafer is the genius behind such games as Grim Fandango, Pyschonauts, Brutal Legend (my favorite!), and Once Upon a Monster. Tim Schafer started out working as a video game developer for Lucasarts. He got the job by sending a comic of himself interviewing for and getting the job at Lucasarts, immediately making him the coolest person ever. Later, he was denied a job at Atari (who is probably kicking themselves right now), but Tim went on to success by starting Double Fine Productions in 2000. He’s a writer and designer of games, as well as a fan, making him the sort of developer fans really enjoy and relate to. He is also the only one to date who has effectively handled Cookie Monster.

Released Oct. 11, 2011, Once Upon a Monster is about a storybook world full of your favorite monsters from Sesame Street as well as some new ones that need help with their problems. This video is when Tim Schafer first pitched the idea to the Cookie Monster. I love how Tim handles Cookie Monster! Most people in every other video I have seen never know what to do when faced with Cookie Monster’s love of cookies. I love that Tim’s response is to shrug and devourer the cookie in the same manner as everyone’s beloved monster. Tim Schafer is a man with a good sense of humor and his games reflect that in spades.

Aperigren: So Tim Schafer, comic genius, is the man behind years of fantastic humor and witty dialogue in some very significant games. Sadly, Tim just can’t survive by making bank for himself and Cookie Monster. He misses those old point-and-click adventure games. The problem is that he and Double Fine can only develop a game; they can’t fund it. Unfortunately, no publisher will take the risk of funding a new adventure game. So, enter kickstarter.com, a website designed as an avenue for creative people to appeal to the masses for funding! Tim Schafer and Double Fine’s adventure game project has been up for a couple weeks now. He set his funding goal at a meager (in video game standards) $400,000. A day after posting, he was already up to $1 million. So, click the link and check it out. Backers are being hooked up with a pretty nice deal, and you can become a backer until March 13. To help you understand why this is so awesome, I’ll leave it to Tim Schafer and his appeal for funding.

Long live adventure games!