You Can Order My New Book in the Boss Fight Books Season 2 Kickstarter Campaign

This year I’ve been secretly working away on a new book about the unlicensed NES game Bible Adventures and the game development studio who made it.

This morning, Boss Fight Books unleashed a new Kickstarter campaign to fund the book along with five others:

  • Baldur’s Gate II by Matt Bell
  • Metal Gear Solid by Ashly and Anthony Burch
  • Spelunky by Derek Yu
  • World of Warcraft by Daniel Lisi
  • a new fan-selected Boss Fight title

All of our main Kickstarter tiers are simple pre-orders. You can pick up an eBook or paperback copy of whatever book you want, or subscribe to all six.

Bible Adventures is my second book and my first nonfiction book. Much of it is based on interviews I did with the guys who made the games, the woman who sold them, and a guy who is very good at playing them. It also analyzes each of the Wisdom Tree games, looking at how the games fit into the retrogaming phenomenon, why they were such a hit in Christian bookstores, how the games interact with my own Christian upbringing, and how they are a part of a larger, messier story of the intersection of religion and commerce.

I laugh whenever I look at Ken Baumann’s cover for this book. It’s a reference to the Noah’s Ark part of Bible Adventures: Noah gathers animals for the ark by holding them over his head, often stacking many animals at a time.

Thanks for your attention! If you have friends who would be into these books, I hope you’ll help me spread the word.

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Enter Title Here.

Busy times! Everywhere but poor Gather Round Children.

I edited some more books:

- ZZT by Anna Anthropy

- Galaga by Michael Kimball

- Jagged Alliance 2 by Darius Kazemi

I got some friends together to help me read at a big Fun Camp night:

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I read at Stories as part of Echo Park Rising.

I’ve been doing some improv.

I’ve been writing a new book.

I’ve been getting to know my new neighborhood, Highland Park.

I discovered this song. I rediscovered soyrizo.

I committed “B.O.B.” to memory and can rap it fast. I’m not joking.

I’m lining up the next season of Boss Fight.

Next month (Oct 17-18) I’ll be a visiting writer at Virginia Tech’s writing festival, Glossolalia.

Next month I’ll meet my nephew.

I filmed a thing with some friends this week. It took all night.

 

 

Clayton Joyner

What drew us all to Clayton Joyner was how alive he was.

I met Clayton in Ms. Pearson’s class in the 2nd grade at Camelot Elementary. While a lot of friends came and went, I was close to Clayton the whole time I lived in Virginia: 2nd grade through 7th grade.

Clayton and I shared a deeply silly sense of humor. He once made this video at Brian Rowe’s house that at the time I thought was about the funniest thing I’d ever seen: In the backyard, Clayton shouts to Brian’s brother, Michael, “Did you know that your dog is in my lawn?” “I have no dog,” says Michael. And then Clayton shouts, “Well I don’t have a lawn!” Suddenly, Clayton has disappeared and there’s a little smoke bomb where he was standing. Offscreen, Clayton laughs a stagey villainous “HA HA HA” kind of laugh. That’s it, that’s the whole video.

He laughed a lot, sometimes maniacally.

Once Clayton chased me around his house with a large kitchen knife, cackling. When I ran into the living room, he stopped chasing me, shut the french doors that led to the living room, and stuck the knife in the gap between the doors, slicing up and down so that all I could see was the knife’s blade. I thought, “what if I ran up to the doorway right now? I’d die.”

In his backyard, Clayton once demonstrated the makeshift blowtorch you can create with WD-40 and a lighter. There was a dead squirrel in his yard and he tried to burn it.

Clayton’s slight unhingedness was part of what made him so fun to be around. You didn’t relax, but it was worth it. You could relax later.

Clayton and I loved all the same bands: Bush, Smashing Pumpkins, Silverchair, Stone Temple Pilots. He also liked AC/DC, who I’d never heard. He introduced me to Marilyn Manson, singing “Sweet Dreams” and “Beautiful People” on the way to school. I wondered, “Who’s she?”

One time for my birthday, me and my friends got to stay at a hotel. I found Clayton and Brian dropping tiny objects off a high balcony near the people below.

Clayton was one of the best athletes in our grade and I was one of the worst. The only time we did a sport together was summer after 2nd grade when we were both on the Camelot swim team. Clayton was already a natural and I couldn’t hack it. I didn’t sign back up the following summer, but we still went to the Camelot community pool all the time.

We played a lot of video games together–Nintendo in his basement and PC in his dad’s office. He introduced me to Commander Keen and Wolfenstein 3D. He was my only friend with an Atari Jaguar and a Virtual Boy.

Clayton’s house was a five-minute walk from mine, and had the exact same layout as mine. I loved that our houses were twins.

Clayton made my parents a little nervous, but my parents and Clayton’s parents liked each other, so there was never any danger of my not being allowed to hang out with him.

One time, Clayton and me and a few other boys got sent to the principal’s for beating up on Curtis at recess. It had all been in good fun until it suddenly wasn’t. In Principal Chubb’s office, I cried. I didn’t think of myself as the kind of kid who got sent to the principal’s office, so it was a huge blow.

One time Clayton and I were roller-skating in his basement and my fist went through the window.

For awhile, he started this thing where he’d shout, “Fluffy!!!” in a weird falsetto voice. He had us all doing it, especially when there were fluffy dogs around but also all the time.

The first time I ever saw porn was in Clayton’s basement. It was terrifying.

One Halloween, we all met up at Clayton’s but the group was so big that we naturally all split into two groups. Later in the night, my group started to hear stories from the neighbors about the mischief Clayton’s group was getting into: eggs, TP, etc. We all reconvened at his house at the end of the night, counted our goods, and watched one of the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes of Simpsons.

My parents used to say that Clayton would go to jail or become president.

Clayton was the first kid in our friend group to hit puberty. Once in sixth grade, he very casually told me about how he and Nate Richman took Alyssa and Veronique out to the movies. I was so disappointed to hear that it was officially on. I wanted to protest that we were still in elementary school, that going out on dates was what middle schoolers did. Sometime before or after that, another girl told me, in front of Alyssa, that Alyssa liked me, and I just could not even process it. I think I said something like “okay” and left.

By 7th grade, though, I was very much ready to start dating girls. The meanest thing Clayton ever did to me was this: I was getting up the nerve to ask out the girl I liked, and I everybody could tell where it was going because she and I sat together in at least one class and hung out in the halls and stuff. And on the bus on the way home, Clayton called me out on it: “You like Jeanette. Gross. She’s too skinny and pale.” I denied liking her, and then I never asked her out. But Clayton was just being a 13-year-old–I just wish I hadn’t been so concerned with what my friends thought of me.

But Clayton was well aware of his power over others and often would use it charitably. The rest of us would pick on someone uncool and Clayton would suddenly, almost at random, come to their defense. “Noli is cool!” he’d declare. “Noli is my FRIEND.”

As a kid, there was always a part of me that was too cautious, too uptight, but I liked that what Clayton drew out of me was the opposite. His example gave me the courage to start casually swearing on the playground.

One time in 7th grade, after we got off the bus, he yelled something at me and I turned, smiled, flipped him off, and then kept walking home. The only reason I remember this moment is because for 12-year-old Gabe, this was the kind of moment that passed for badass.

Before I moved away, Brian invited me over for a sleepover. When I showed up, Clayton and all the rest of the guys were there to give me a surprise going away party. But instead of shouting “surprise” with a cake, they all pelted me with water balloons. Then Brian’s mom gave me a big pail of water balloons and I had my revenge.

For years after I moved to California, I’d have dreams about my reunion with my Virginia friends. I’d run into them somewhere random and immediately we’d all be friends again, right where we left off.

Our one online interaction was when we found each other after the dawn of Facebook. Here’s Clayton’s message in its entirety:

The man, the myth, the legend. Gabe motha fuckin Durham how the hell have you been……!? It’s been sometime since the days of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on Guinevere Dr. My Mom still lives up in Camelot and I’m now kickin it at VCU. Good choice on Pepperdine man, I know you had some family connects, and it’s down by the beach boiiiiiiiiiiiI! Plus the girls are only ranked the hottest in the nation. Hit me back sometime and if you’re ever back East let me know, We’ll burn this mother down one city at a time.

My reply to this message was kinda friendly but didn’t match his enthusiasm. Why didn’t I strike up a conversation, find out what he’d been up to? Why didn’t I try to see him the time I came through town? Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a little embarrassed about how much my old Virginia friends mean to me. I moved away and in my head they all moved on without me.

I never got to meet Clayton in person as an adult, but it makes total sense that he was so loved in his career as a swim coach. People happily followed him his whole life–It never occurred to us not to. That’s the kind of coach kids want to work hard for.

In an email last week, Brian told me a great story about adult Clayton that shows just how much he stayed himself:

The last time I saw him was back in the late fall, we went canoeing and camping with a group of 9 guys along the Shenandoah. Most people brought extra clothes or food… Clayton brought a crossbow.  He said that it was to prevent a, “The Hills Have Eyes-type situation”.  Nobody got shot but he and Randy did manage to capsize their canoe in near- freezing water, so as usual with Clayton there was never a dull moment.

I loved Clayton, envied him, feared him a little, and was glad he liked me. I felt “chosen” the way a truly magnetic person can make you feel chosen. Behind all the crazy was a huge heart and a creative mind. My childhood would have been so much more boring without him.

Love and sympathy to his mom, Nancy, his sister, Kristin, his girlfriend, Jana, and all the friends he left behind. We miss you, buddy.

Chrono Trigger by Michael P. Williams

The second title from Boss Fight Books, Chrono Trigger by Michael P. Williams, just came out today! I’m really proud of this book. You can buy it here.

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Fun Camp Review in Puerto del Sol & New Boss Fight Excerpt at Kotaku

Kelsie Hahn published part of FUN CAMP in a previous issue, interviewed me for their blog, and has now reviewed the book in the new print issue:

As each new day of the week arises, announced in bold font like the chime of a bronze bell counting down the hours, you can’t believe how much of the week has already gone. You can’t believe how much you don’t want it to end.

You can read the PDF here.

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Also, Michael P. Williams and I hard at work on his book, Chrono Trigger, and we just released an early chapter at Kotaku.

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“On September 22, 2011″ at PANK

There’s a new essay of mine up at PANK, another from the Sept 22 project. This one’s largely about the workday dread of me and my friends, but it also contains a scene in which a man does battle with a book of poetry:

A problem Matthew had with this book of poetry was that it seemed to just demonstrate the boredom-as-point idea in a way that could be conveyed in a single sentence. But where was the rest? The performance of it? There was a Mad Lib quality throughout in which even the “shocking” parts seemed mostly the pose of one saying, Look out: I am shocking you. Oh, but that was intentional pageantry and kitsch, which again played against Matthew’s middle class (middlebrow) expectations. Meaning if this was a tennis match, the book would be kicking his ass.

Others from the same series:

The Good Men Project: “Muffingate”

The Collagist: “All Our Pretty Songs”

Juked: “Don’t Be Evil, Don’t Be Inconvenient”

The Weeklings: “The BP Oil Spill of Fashion”

The Weeklings: “Why You Don’t Like My Mom”

The Weeklings: “Courtesy is Not a Word on the Road”

 

Out Now from Boss Fight Books: EarthBound by Ken Baumann

Proud to have edited this book! Buy it here or contact me for a review copy.

“At last, EarthBound gets the paperback it deserves.” – Kill Screen

Excerpt: Kotaku

Reviews: Nerdlife, The Rumpus, Coin Battle, HTMLGIANT, Video Game Tourism

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FC Thanks

Real quick: I’ve been thinking about how nobody had to review FUN CAMP, interview me about it, make cool videos, etc., but a bunch of people did. All of whom were busy with their own lives. And seeing my book on a year-end Buzzfeed list put a nice cap on the Year of the Book.

So I wanted to express some big gratitude to…

Colin Winnette, Tyler Crumrine, Holly McDede, Brian Trapp, Maria Anderson, Peter Tieryas, Peter Fontaine, Michael Wayne Hampton, John Domini, Mel Bosworth, Spencer Dew, Mike Young, Quincy Rhoads, Joe Sacksteader, Origami Zoo, Vouched Books, Joeseph Riipi, Scott Carpenter, Julie Klausner, Colin Marshall, Brian Allen Carr, Michael Filippone, Matthew Simmons, Peter Cavanaugh, Tobias Carroll, and David Gutowski. To Jack Christian for touring with me. To everyone who invited me to read or agreed to read with me. To everybody who published pieces of the book. And especially to Adam Robinson for designing the book and putting it out with Publishing Genius.

THANK YOU, everybody. It meant a lot.

EASY THINGS TO SEARCH FOR WITHIN A DOC WHEN COPYEDITING

I put out a call for tips on Facebook. Here’s the list that came back:

- Empty to be verbs: there is, there are, there was, there were, that was, who was, who is
- Search for “that” to check for (1) that/who errors and (2) unnecessary thats
- Accidental double spaces
- Look for unnecessary phrases: in order to, start to, currently
- Look for intensifiers: very, really, extremely
- Can look for “ly” if adverbs are a problem
- Look for imprecise use of “thing”
- Look for “over” when they mean “more than”
- Look for when they say “amount” and mean “number”
- Look for when they say “less” and mean “fewer”
- empty phrases: http://www.academicpeds.org/espauthoring/page_05.htm (Tho many are pretty lawyery or academic and would never show up in certain books.)
- look for “too,” “just,” “who/whom”
- run portions of text through a word frequency app, and then check the most used words for echos/overuses. Or just make a list of words that might be overused and ctrl-f them to figure out quantity and spacing (by looking at the scroll bar)
- “and I” vs “and me”
- ALL APOSTROPHES
- You” a casual non-specific pronoun we use a lot when speaking that causes pronoun disagreement. “Between states” verb forms like “started to / about to / nearly,” etc. also used casually in speech but can’t really be visualized. “ing” verb forms, esp. at the end of a sentence – causes the sentence to lose energy / momentum.
- he/she errors
- “only,” “even,” “actually”

After using these last edits, I sent the draft of EarthBound on to Adam R for layout. We’ve almost got a book!

Art Essay at Fanzine + Some Fun Camp Love @ Sundog Lit and SPD

 

I wrote about Joshua Dildine’s excellent PHOTO SERIES over at the Fanzine.

Tyler Crumrine’s review of FUN CAMP went up at Sundog Lit this week: “FUN CAMP is a novel about growing up through the eyes of those who think they’ve grown up already, and perfect for anyone who’s ever jumped off of something tall in hopes that everyone else was watching.”

Meanwhile, the book made the 2013 Small Press Distribution “Staff Picks” list thanks to Holly McDede, who notices the camp’s “sexual tension,” “stupid horrors,” and “sexually experimental girls”!

At Hazlitt, I got to take part in Tobias Carroll’s article about a classic DOS text adventure called Amnesia.

Before long, Boss Fight Books will actually be putting out books.

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Fun Camp Reviewed in The Collagist and Ploughshares

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“Many of these shorts are silly until they turn suddenly grave, poignant, and heartbreaking, as if a hilarious stand-up comedian has started to weep. As a voice says in the chapter titled, “Listen to Me”: “Because I know just when to kill a joke.” And that’s also why we should listen to Durham; he knows when to drop the ironic mask. With stylistic sleights-of-hand, his best jokes get beyond irony to an odd pathos and sincerity.” – Brian Trapp in The Collagist

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“The way this book comes together, with the monologues, lists, letters, and sermons, keeps us engaged and surprises us with what appears next, tonally, linguistically, and grammatically. … [W]ell worth a read, for both the boisterous diction and for those bunk-bed memories it might ruck up.” – Maria Anderson in Ploughshares

Two New Essays in Juked and The Weeklings + Everything I’ve Been Up To Lately

Two new essays from my MEANWHILE manuscript are out now in…

Juked: “Don’t Be Evil, Don’t Be Inconvenient”

Information was now available so quickly that many people had taken up the habit of delaying one another’s gratification mid-sentence, and we were told today that you could now have your brew and eat it too, thanks to . . . wait for it . . . beer ice cream, that the most popular method of business communication was “by far and away” . . . wait for it . . . email, that a local government had cracked down on . . . wait for it . . . a Bible study, that Swiss tennis pro Roger Federer was the second-most respected figure in . . . wait for it  . . . the entire world, that the future of credit cards could be . . . wait for it . . . no credit cards, and then we were offered a joke: What’s the difference between Bono and God? Wait for it . God doesn’t think he is Bono. We demanded patience of one another when, in another age, we’d simply have paused for effect. We’d found words to fill even the holy silence between set-up and punch line.

The Weeklings: “Why You Don’t Like My Mom”

Our optimism intact, we Millennials were also the least likely to say that the government is inefficient and wasteful. We along with Gen X were most likely to say that America’s best days are ahead of us. We were most sure that the internet was a good thing, most satisfied with Obama, most likely to believe that the US would achieve its goals in the war in Afghanistan, and most optimistic that Afghanistan would remain stable after US troops left.

We were most likely to say the US should “take allies’ interests into account even if it means making compromises,” that peace is ensured through good diplomacy instead of military strength, that “relying too much on military force creates hatred that leads to more terrorism,” that it would not be necessary for Americans to give up civil liberties to fight terrorism, that Muslims were singled out for surveillance and monitoring by US policies (and most likely to be bothered by it), and that “it is OK to refuse to fight in a war you believe is morally wrong.”

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The Terminex man came to my place last week and I signed & initialed forms saying I knew they’d kill our termites by taking all the air out of the air. “Will this kill the roaches?” I asked him.

“Everything but the spiders,” he said.

“Maybe that’s good,” I said.

“I don’t like spiders,” the exerminator said. “They’re killers.”

His own handwriting looked just like my dad’s and I told him so.

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