Traveling & Travels w/ Michael Crichton

Last week, something extraordinary arrived in the mail.

Growing up, I always loved books. I’d tear through just about anything, and my Mom always took me to the library to gather up untold numbers of kids fiction. Shortly after grade school however, 8 year old Eric became obsessed with classic science fiction. I was particularly enthralled with Jules Vern’s adventure stories, especially Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Captain Nemo was brown!) and Journey to the Center of the Earth. H.G. Wells was also a fast favorite, with The Time Machine and War of the Worlds. Other authors who spun epic romantic adventures soon followed. Arthur Conan Doyle. Robert Louis Stevenson. Even Herman Melville. [Note: Those links will take you to free eBooks on Project Gutenberg]

And sometime during that era, when I first discovered these authors in the public library, I stumbled upon Jurassic Park.

Dinosaurs. Science. Action. Destruction. It was everything a wide eyed kid wanted and more. Thus began my love for an author named Michael Crichton, a man who would continue to capture my imagination long into my adulthood. The Andromeda Strain. The Terminal Man. Congo. Sphere. Prey. I have fond memories of every book I’ve ever read of his. Reading Eaters of the Dead before the Thirteenth Warrior came out, and then watching that movie a half dozen times in the theater. Reading Timeline on a beach and finding myself moved to tears at the end. Asking my parents for State of Fear for Christmas. Picking up my copy of Next at a flea market here in Philly, and finishing it in a few days.

When Crichton passed away in 2008, I was crushed. So crushed, that I canceled class that day at Holy Family University (they didn’t like that, I don’t teach there anymore), and watched a handful of his films back to back the following day. This was an author that truly made me fall in love with modern books. He inspired me, made me want to some day be a decent writer (I’m still trying). Now, I’d never meet the guy. Shake his hand, tell him what his books did for me growing up. It weighed on me quite a bit. Read more

May Highlights: Work, Quirk, Geek, Etc

So I only blog on this personal site two or three times a month, sometimes way more if a lot is going on (see April). So I’m going to start these little monthly recaps of what I’ve been up to, since I feel like I’ve been doing so much… only I don’t have the time to write long drawn out posts about every little thing. So yeah. Here goes. May 2011.

Geekadelphia Highlights:

I was named one of “The 20″ by NBC Philadelphia. It’s a list of influential voices in the social media world here in Philly. A really flattering, sweet gesture… though I’m sure I will be briskly removed once they realize all Geekadelphia does is tweet blog posts, snarky things to Technically Philly, and make silly jokes through out the day. Still, really awesome.

I attended Philadelphia Tech Week and made a fool out of myself. The video is available for the entire world to watch. Apologies, Chris Wink. You know I love you.

I was asked to appear as a celebrity judge for a competitive comedy show called ComedySportz. Despite the fact that the event fell on the same day as the Rittenhouse Row Festival, I agreed, and brought several friends… so they could see what a big deal I was, of course. The event was fabulous. I was genuinely shocked at what a great time I had, and it was nice meeting a lot of Geekadelphia fans. Apparently 75% of the ticket holders got to the event because of Geekadelphia, which thrilled me. Can’t wait to go again.

Writing Highlights:

Textual Healing continues to get reviewed here and there. My friend Allie Harcharek just finished re-editing the thing, and a second printing is in the works.

My essay that’ll be appearing in The Apiary literary journal will pop up in the Winter of 2011. Super psyched.

Quirk & Work Highlights:

I announced that I’d be doing freelance marketing and publicity for my pals Parker and Jake, who have a small video game dev company called Flyclops. It’s always been a little dream of mine to work in gaming, and now, at last, I am. At least a little. And that counts.

The new Quirkbooks.com launched, and looks absolutely fabulous. Designed by the folks at 160/90, it’s a massive improvement on the old website. Especially since… you know, the old website didn’t work and was slammed with infections.

Shortly after the launch, I wrote a silly Top 10 Animated Gifs of Michael Bolton blog post on the site, which was immediately picked up and tweeted / Facebooked by Michael Bolton. No, not the guy from Office Space. The actual singer. Yes, I took a screenshot of the Tweet. Yes I printed it out. Yes I have it hanging in my office. What of it?

I attended BEA, my first big book expo, and oh my God, it was awesome. Met lots of bloggers, did some networking, all that good stuff.

Life in General:

I got all the remaining pieces of my Master Chief armor. A process that began last Summer, mostly out of heartache, is finally complete. I own a suit so heavy I can hardly walk in it and can’t put it on without help… and I am unbelievably happy. Spartan-215.com will definitely become more active (though I have been posting pictures almost daily), in the coming weeks. I can’t WAIT for Wizard World with Tim.

Speaking of Tim, he asked me to be in his wedding party. There were tears.

I Own Many Leather Bound Books

Okay… not yet. But someday, I just might.

Back in college, my pal Collette and I used to quote Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy in daily conversation with one another. I’m talking all the time. It practically replaced the word “the” in our day-to-day lexicon. People who had never seen the movie or disliked it, found themselves avoiding our company when we were together. We liked each others Facebook status updates that referenced the film, even when no one else did… hell we posted Myspace bulletins. That’s right, this was back when you still used Myspace. No one ever responded. Just us. To each other. And that was just fine.

Like Ron Burgundy, I’ve started collecting leather bound books. After realizing the worthlessness of my video game collecting hobby (seriously, who is going to want a legendary edition Halo: Reach a decade from now? BESIDES me?), I thought it was time for something new. As someone who loves (and sometimes teaches) literature, amassing leather-bound, signed first edition books seemed like a great new hobby. Signed limited editions from the Franklin Library (a now defunct publisher) are my latest obsession. They look beautiful, have gold leaf accents, and oh… the works that are out there! Swoon!

So far I’ve managed to get my hands on a book from Joseph Heller, Phillip Roth, Alice Hoffman, two books from Joyce Carol Oates, and a handful of others. I figure hey, maybe these will send my kids to college someday. It’s nice to dream, right?

Let’s be honest friends, it is likely my apartment will never smell of rich mahogany like Ron Burgundy’s. Most of the time, it smells like a mixture of Febreeze, Axe body spray, and bunny. But at least someday I’ll have the books.

New Projects: Flyclops Games

Few things motivate me more than a person telling me “no.”

Back in November at BarCampPhilly, I sat in on a local game developer unconference. Folks talked about the local scene, developing titles on a shoestring budget, community building… lots of good stuff. As an extreme Xbox 360 fanboy who reads more video game news than actual world news, I’ve always been passionate about the game industry. I’ve had my fair share of daydreams about marketing games, maybe one day writing a storyline for a small RPG, etc. When I asked a question about editorial work for gaming, a local developer responded with a resolute no. It’ll never happen. Sorry kid. Forget my other questions, I was shut down immediately.

That upset the hell out of me. I stewed over it for longer than I’d like to admit.

Over the past month, I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with my good friends Parker Whitney and Jake O’Brien, developers working on their fledgling game dev studio Flyclops Games. When they were developing their first title, Brainarang, I let Parker blog about the process on Geekadelphia. When they finally settled on a studio name, Flyclops… it just seemed like we were destined to work together. Flyclops (pictured left) is a baddie in the Chrono Trigger universe, and Chrono Trigger is THE title that made me fall in love with gaming as a kid. I play through that game at least once a year, reliving the charming story and memorable characters. And I might just buy a Nintendo Wii again, just so I can play it on my big screen when it gets released for the Virtual Console.

So the papers are soon to be signed, inked, stamped, etc. I’ll be helping Flyclops market their next title, freelance style. I’ve been learning a lot at Quirk about the joys of marketing via online media, and look forward to applying all my skills to this iOS title dropping in the Fall. I’ve already begun a website marketing plan and started pulling together a media list.

Yeah, yeah… I know I don’t need more projects. There’s my beloved day job, teaching part time at Peirce, and my blog Geekadelphia keeping me busy. And of course, I’ve got my pursuits in writing. But Parker and Jake are only really developing one game this year, so hell, I’ll FIND the damn time. And maybe I’ll find additional clients later on down the road, if this all works out.

Because hey, gotta chase those daydreams, right?

Spartan 215: Another Blog

So yeah, I started another blog. Spartan 215.

It’s a Tumblr where I’ll be rambling about my Halo Spartan armor. The individual pieces, the painting process, the tricked out Nerf guns, general Halo stuff, etc.

I wanted to keep highlighting the armor here on the personal blog, but eh… it doesn’t really suit the purpose of this blog. I want this site to be about my professional (and occasionally personal) life. Writing, teaching, the publishing world, etc.

I’ll post when I get the entire suit (just waiting on the legs and undersuit right now), but the rest of my armor ranting will be on the new Tumblr. Hope you like it!

Spartan 215
www.spartan-215.com