Self-Searching: An Introspective

“Know Thyself” is an ancient and well known aphorism, but it’s one that is often mistaken, or misinterpreted, with a rather broad meaning. While I could break down the Ancient Greek and dissect the term, I prefer to explore what it means to me in particular.

My studies in Plato and Continental Philosophy have driven me to a very particular interpretation of the aphorism “know thyself,” that which Plato ascribes to Socrates in several of his dialogues, particularly Phaedrus and Protagoras. This splits the meaning of the phrase between two rather similar definitions.

gnothi seautonPhaedrus: “Now I have no leisure for such enquiries; shall I tell you why? I must first know myself as the Delphian inscription says; to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self, would be ridiculous.” The direct text refers to the “newly” found philosophy of mythology, which Socrates says he has no time for, because he must know himself before exploring such vague, or “crude” tales, which take a great deal of time to study. This in turn details a much deeper trait — that of seeking understanding of the self before that of outside things, because you cannot understand the objective without having an understand of the subjective.*

*This is, of course, my personal interpretation of Plato’s writings here. There are many other ways to dissect this dialog.

Protagoras: “All these were lovers and emulators and disciples of the culture of the culture of the Lacedaemonians, and any one may perceive that their wisdom was of this character; consisting of short memorable sentences, which they severally uttered. And they met together and dedicated in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, as the first-fruits of their wisdom, the far-famed inscriptions, which are in all men’s mouths,-‘Know thyself,’ and ‘Nothing too much.’ Why do I say all this? I am explaining that this Lacedaemonian brevity was the style of primitive philosophy.” Here, Plato focuses on the uselessness of such aphorisms in their common usage — sayings which are expected to have a self-evident definition, yet it is typically unclear how one would live life according to their meanings. These sayings are typical by their broad definitions, and their reliance on personal discover, self-reflection and self-referencing for understanding. The deeper focus here is once again, how the subjective takes focus above and beyond the objective — one must understand such aphorisms, “know thyself,” before being able to apply them outwardly, or attempt an understanding of the outside influences upon them.

So by now you’re probably thinking “okay, what’s your point?”

“Know thyself” is a statement which references the self. Me. I must understand myself before I am able to understand anything else. The aphorism was popularized in modern culture by the film The Matrix (1999), and despite some of the film’s other lackluster attempts at philosophy, it manages a fairly solid interpretation of the phrase: “It means know thyself. I wanna tell you a little secret, being ‘The One’ is just like being in love. No one needs to tell you you are in love, you just know it, through and through.” Take this line to a second level of interpretation, much like when reading Plato, and you’ll find a rather poignant moment of foreshadowing for the film — Neo doesn’t become “The One” until he accepts himself as the role, and isn’t able to fulfill his fate as the savior of Zion until he better understands the manufactured part he plays in the story.

Again, you’re probably thinking “okay, seriously, what’s your point?”

Well here’s the point — lately my own thoughts have strayed close to the aphorism “know thyself.” I’ve been putting some significant focus on discovering who I am so far in 2015. This has been a trying year to date and I have discovered that, in order to better adjust to the necessary changes I have had to make, I need to understand myself better and interpret these life events through the veil of self-reflection/knowledge.

While, I am sure, my personal need to better know myself before seeking understanding in the world around me is exactly that, a personal need, perhaps there is merit in the idea that self-understanding benefits understanding of the Other. Consider this: In his first volume of the Horror of Philosophy, “In The Dust Of This Planet,”* Eugene Thacker explores how the horror genre attempts to think about the world-without-us, a term which describes the complete removal of the human when discussing the Planet (Earth), philosophically, using non-philosophical conventions. For Thacker, the Planet (world-without-us) is a wholly “Other” thing, something which cannot be understood in human terms, making it impossible to even think about it. It is truly “unknown.” Perhaps Otherness can never be understand in these circumstances; however, it is impossible to even attempt an understanding without first knowing the person seeking such understanding — myself.

*As a side note, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is even vaguely interested in philosophy, genre horror, or similar topics. I eagerly await volume 2, which should be arriving any day now.

Whether or not I am able, or even seek, to understand the Other, it is crucial for happiness and living a fulfilled life, that I understand myself. Knowing myself will allow me to know life, and that is an under appreciated skill…


Mind Dump: Podcast Edition

So I did a pocket dump the other day and was thinking about lists and whatnot and I though of another thing I could toss out here: Podcasts. I got into podcasts incredibly late in the game, I think I’ve only been listening to a few of them for a little over a year now, but I’ve found a handful of them I really like. While there are a few, like Hardcore History that I would like to listen to, I simply can’t get into a 4 hour+ podcast. I’ve found the 30 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes mark is ideal for me, and of course shorter ones are fine.

I more of less look like this half the time I’m listening to them…

So here are a few of the podcasts that I do enjoy. Please feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments.

Art of Manliness – The Art of Manliness podcast focuses on interviews with interesting people, innovators and experts in their fields on topics that anyone, male or female, can use to enhance or otherwise improve their life. I find it educational and interesting.

The Human Animal – The Human Animal podcast is a fitness podcast run by Matt “freefitguy,” a trainer focused on functional movement and primal fitness. It explores a lot of concepts that will be familiar to people who are into the paleo lifestyle, but holds a lot of value for those who are just interested in being health in mind and body.

The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast – The only subscription podcast on my list, this one focuses on the literature of H.P. Lovecraft (duh). I picked this one up after the Necronomicon-Providence 2013, and while I haven’t listened to a ton of episodes it touches on my favorite genre of fiction and my favorite author. Each episode explores a different Lovecraft story and the media it has influenced since it’s publication.

The Random Show – This is the only video podcast on my list. Run by Tim Ferriss (see below) and Kevin Rose, this one is exactly what it says, a random conversation these two have on no-particular schedule that they video. They cover whatever they are reading at the time, fun new products they’ve been checking out and other things they are interested in at the time. They have also filmed episodes in China and Mexico. You can watch these on YouTube or iTunes.

The Tim Ferriss Show – Probably my favorite podcast is The Tim Ferriss Show. Spawning partially from The Random Show, Tim Ferriss started sitting down to interview people who have influenced him, who he’s friends with, or just who he has really wanted to have a chat with before if they are willing. Guests include Kevin Rose, Joe De Sena, Margaret Cho and, most recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger. My favorite part is when he asks them what their morning routines look like, what books they give most often as gifts, and who they would most like to punch in the face.

Welcome to Night Vale – Last but not least is the only “fiction” podcast I listen to, Welcome to Night Vale. Done in the weird tales style of H.P. Lovecraft, WtNV is just highly entertaining and well worth listening to the first few episodes of. I was hooked after one.

And that’s my list. Again, feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments.

Morning Routine

So I’m trying to get back into a morning routine. There are 101 reasons for this: It helps get me moving in the morning, it wakes me up faster, it starts my day off more productive, it helps me make sure I’m at work and ready to go when I want to be, not when I have to be, etc. My morning routine is fairly simple, but with room for flux depending on the day. Figured I would outline the concept and see if anyone else had any ideas or suggestions for improving it. And perhaps my routine can help someone else kickstart their own… So without further ado:

And this is about what I look like when I wake up…

6:00 – Wake up – The basic idea here is to beat the sun up, so my actual wake up time fluctuates by season. Right now I get up at about 6am. In the summer I’ll actually get up at 5:45ish, which is usually right before or at sunrise here in New England.

6:00-6:10 – Meditate – I like to start my day off my clearing my head a little and giving myself some focus, this lets me get moving a little faster in the morning. I usually only meditate for about 5 minutes, but I drink water and go to the bathroom before hand, so my actual start time changes.

6:10-6:30 – Work out – Until I can get back into the gym I’m taking 20-30 minutes to work out in the morning now, doing body weight exercises to get the blood pumping.

6:30-7:00 – Breakfast – I pretty much eat the same thing every weekday, sausage, scrambled eggs and spinach. I add a little black pepper, garlic and paprika to the eggs, and sometimes I spoon a tablespoon or two of salsa on top.

7:00-7:30 – Shower, shave etc. – Morning grooming. This can take anywhere from five minutes to half an hour depending on if I need to shave or do anything else in the morning.

7:30 – Off to work – I try to get moving by 7:30 because A: It lets me get started on work before anyone else is in the office distracting me, and B: It lets me run errands in the morning if I need to, take the trash out on my way out the door, etc.

That’s it… morning routine broken down. Once I get back into the gym that will change a bit, but otherwise that’s the thick of it.

Do you enjoy these posts, or find them boring and trite? Let me know in the comments!

Pocket Dump: 2015

I haven’t done a “pocket dump” in a while, and actually I don’t think I’ve ever posted one on here. This is just a quick run through of the items that usually reside in my pockets, and whether or not I actually use them, haha. Without further ado:

Hand tooled leather Yellow Sign wallet from Sova Leatherworks.

Back right pocket – Custom made leather wallet from Sova Leatherworks (currently on hiatus). Handworked Yellow Sign with eldritch writing etched into it. Wallet chain is a random one given to me by a friend.

Back left pocket – Keys on a carabiner. House keys, band practice space key, parent’s house key, bike lock key, mini LED flashlight and a “Snapper” – an oversized knotless paracord tie with built in bottle opener, backer reward from the first Fishbone kickstarter.

Front right pocket – Opinel No 9 carbon pocket knife. Burt’s Bees lip balm. Loose change.

Front left pocket – Second pocket knife (no-brand locking folder), iPhone earbuds, matte black Zippo.

Jacket pocket – iPhone 5C in black rubber Incipio case.

Watch – currently a Casio G-Shock solar, older model. Waiting for my Vostok KGB automatic mechanical movement to be repaired.

Misc – Glasses (RayBan, dying, need to get new ones). Black paracord bracelets. Necklace with Celtic knot ring (purchased in Ireland) and three Feng Shui coins on it, lip ring.

I carry all of these things every day, with the exception of my pocket knives, which I remove when I’m going to places I think they might be frowned upon (state buildings, concerts). I also often carry around a bag with a few more items in it:

Bag – Chrome Metropolis Messenger. Pens and pencils, plastic camping spork, Moleskine notebook and backup throw away for scrap paper. Gerber Suspension multi-tool, Sharpie, mini-bic lighter, medical tape, 2gb flash drive with Windows recovery tools on it, mini-Maglite flashlight with LED upgrade, Boy Scout pocket knife, 20-sided die, hacky sack, eye drops, emergency bike light, K3 Performance Power Tube chargeable battery, Bauhaus K50 titanium carabiner w/ bottle opener (kickstarter), bike repair tools and tire pressure gauge. Mini-first aid kit, mini-survival kit in altoids tin, zip-ties. Bandana, umbrella, 5′ paracord, 2 non-climbing carabiners, plastic bag.

Need to upgrade my pocket carry slightly. I’d like to replace my secondary pocket knife with a clipped folder, probably an Ontario Rat-1 plain edge. I’d like to get a more powerful pocket flashlight, a Fisher Space Pen and a pocket comb as well to round out what I carry on me, instead of in my bag. I’d also like to add a Gerber Shard to my keychain as an emergency multi-tool. Little upgrades, but one’s I think will come in handy more often than not.

Music of 2014: A year in review

The last 12 months were interesting ones in music. Ignoring pop and rap, because I don’t listen to or enjoy those genre’s – nor do I really think there’s anything interesting happening in them – the rock/metal genres took interesting turns in 2014. One of the most important to note was the complete dearth of new and interesting music in hard rock.

The Foo Fighter’s release, Sonic Highways, was excellent, and a very interesting example of a unique way to record an album, but it didn’t completely blow me away. The new Rise Against album, The Black Market, stood out to me, but again, it wasn’t groundbreaking, it was simply good. Even the “new” Pink Floyd album, The Endless River, failed to blow my mind (nor was it designed to, it was basically a B-sides album for The Division Bell).

Rock was, seemingly, a let down for new music in 2014. A few of my friends have said so as well. Which left me with a single genre (with many sub-genre’s) to fill the void: Metal. Now, I am a self-professed metal head (not a purist, however), so this may not come as much surprise to anyway, but about 90 percent of the music I listened to last year was metal in one form or another. There were quite a few excellent albums released, although none that I would call truly groundbreaking or mind-blowing (I’ll touch on this again later).

This said, here’s a look at my top 10 (metal) albums from 2014:

10. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown (maybe?)
Number 10 is a bit of a toss up for me. There are about five albums I’d like to slot in at number 10 but I think I’m going to give it to ETID based on the fact that I saw them live this year, and they put on a phenomenal stage show (as always). Also, “Moor.”

If you haven’t given the new ETID album a listen I recommend starting with track 6 – “Moor” – first. If you’re familiar with ETID, this track will come as a surprise. If you aren’t, will offer an interesting look into their particular brand of metalcore. Beyond “Moor,” the rest of the album is a solid offering from the Buffalo-based group, highlighting Buckely’s impressive vocals and demonstrating how a band nearly two-decades old can still bring some new, impressive force to their music.

9. Caliban – Ghost Empire
Number nine is another metalcore album, with no apologies. Caliban is a fairly recent discovery for me (yeah, I know, weird), and I honestly blown away by this album. The ninth release from the German five-piece, Ghost Empire picks up where I Am Nemesis left off in the evolution of Caliban’s sound and takes it the one step further this band needed I think. The album blends in clean vocals more smoothly than their earlier releases and has some pretty heavy-hitting stand outs on it – specifically tracks 5, 6 and 7, “I Am Ghost,” “Devil’s Night” and “yOUR Song.” If you’re not a Caliban fan, check this album out and maybe give them a second chance, they’ve certainly won me over very quickly.

8. Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen
A fairly later release of 2014, the eighth album from old-school folk metaler’s Primordial was an excellent addition to the year. With their particular blend of black metal and Irish folk music, Primordial has been a favorite of mine since I was introduced to folk metal and they continue to impress. Where Greater Men Have Fallen provides a solid entrant into the annals of folk metal that I believe holds up equally well against the subgenre’s earlier contributions and modern metal. If you’re a fan of black metal, folk metal or even Irish folk music, I highly recommend giving the album a listen.

7. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun
Mastodon certainly make waves with their followup to 2011’s The Hunter. While I personally wasn’t a huge fan of The Hunter, it was arguably a critical step on the path from the band’s earlier releases and Once More… Between the controversy over twerking in the music video for “The Motherload,” and the immediate fanfare over the album’s first single, “High Road,” Once More ‘Round The Sun made it onto a lot of top metal album lists this year, and mine is no exception. It’s difficult for me to pin down what I like so much about the album, other than it’s true to form for a band that hasn’t disappointed me yet, even with my general “meh” feelings about The Hunter, and continues to evolve their sound in interesting ways. *The below video is potentially NSFW.*

6. Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere
Somehow I managed to miss the existence of this band until earlier in 2014. Though they’ve been around for almost 30 years, The Serpent & The Sphere is only Agalloch’s fifth studio album, but it’s an impressive one. The album capture’s much of what I love about doom metal, the atmospheric dissonance and carefully constructed waves of sound that seem to lull me into a peacefulness. It also offers a very organic, natural sound, lending credence to the band’s other subgenre labeling of neofolk. I’d recommend this album to fans of nearly any subgenre of metal, and folk as well.

5. The Great Old Ones – Tekeli-Li
The Great Old Ones are a relatively unknown band, signed to an indie French label, but with their sophomore release they have won a place in my heart. Oh, did I mention they’re a Lovecraft-themed black metal band?

The Great Old Ones first album, Al-Azif, introduced their particular brand of Lovecraftian black metal to the world, and Tekeli-Li is an impressive extension of that first album. Themed after Lovecraft’s “At The Mountains of Madness” (which also happens to be my particular favorite of his stories,) Tekeli-Li is moody, immersive and a truly haunting example of modern black metal (or post-black metal) – fitting its theme perfectly.

4. Insomnium – Shadows of a Dying Sun
Melodic death metaler’s Insomnium’s sixth studio release was a breath of fresh air in the death metal scene this year. Interestingly enough, death metal is perhaps my least favorite subgenre of metal, but Shadows of a Dying Sun managed not only to make my top 10 list, but worm its way to number four for several reasons. The first of which is how much of an ear-worm track two, “While We Sleep,” is. A solid album from start to finish, Shadows of a Dying Sun provides a flow that few death metal, even melodic death metal, albums manage.

3. Volumes – No Sleep
Metalcore, and it’s offshoot Djent in particular, is a hotly debated topic in the metal community. While metal purists argue it’s not true metal, all things evolve and I think metalcore is a natural growth out of the technical death metal, progressive metal and nu metal sub genre’s that already exist. And I think few people would argue that metalcore is worse than nu metal.

Despite the argued place of metalcore in the metal genre, Volumes has quickly become of my favorite bands this year with their sophomore album, No Sleep.

Music is typically about emotions, and not just those that go into the songs, but also those that they invoke from the listener. My love of Volumes comes from the fact that they invoke similar feelings that the band Thrice does/did in me. Track three, “Erased,” in particular is an amazing, slower and more emotional track in the midst of a heavy hitting album that does the band’s talent justice and offers up an interesting look at where the metal genre as a whole could be heading.

2. Eluveitie – Origins
While Eluveitie’s Origins may not have been my second favorite album of the year based on the music alone, it earned the spot in part due to its theme – getting back to your roots. Track seven, “The Call of the Mountains,” in particular invokes some extreme emotions that draw the listener not just to a place of comfort, but also fond remembrance. These concepts might seem rare in the metal genre by folk metal has blended the extreme, brutal, often angry themes of metal with calmer, more introspective ideals, and Eluveitie has mastered the integration of these concepts with its particular blend of celtic folk metal.

1. Opeth – Pale Communion
Many in the metal community might take issue with my selection of Opeth’s Pale Communion as my top metal album of the year for the simple fact that it isn’t really a metal album. Opeth has evolved more than any other metal band over the years, from black metal into progressive metal to what some have called jazz metal, with the culmination into their 11th studio release, which could be considered more progressive rock than metal.

What appeals to me from this release, other than the band’s unique evolution, is that it demonstrates so clearly how metal can be more than most people think. Metal has stronger roots in classical than many other genre’s, taking directly from the complexities and intricacies of classical composers while blending all-too-modern distortion and instrumentation, and I don’t think anyone showcases this better than Opeth. Pale Communion is the marriage of metal, classic, jazz and progression rock in a way that I don’t believe has ever been done before, and it was the only album to be released in 2014 to blow my mind and worm its way into my list of favorite albums of all time.

So those are my thoughts on music in 2014. If you feel I may have missed an amazing release in another genre, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll check it out. If you’d like to check out my full playlist of the Best of 2014: Metal, you can listen on Spotify.

Strength & Wisdom

Over the past 12 months I’ve been on a journey to redefine myself mentally, physically and emotionally. I have changed my diet, many of my habits and focused on being healthier and happier overall. I am at the point now where I feel confident in myself physically and mentally, and that I’d like to start sharing some of the insights I’ve gathered along the way. This site is my opportunity to do that, and as I have already been sharing many of my thoughts here, won’t be too much of a stretch. Moving forward, the format the site is likely to change a bit – as are the topics covered – but expect the same snarky attitude I’ve always had.

One of the biggest changes I’ve focused on over the last 6 months has been changing my physical appearance and abilities. During college I stopped caring about what I looked like. I put on weight, and while I was never weak, never put much thought into my strength. About 12 months ago I decided to change all that and adopted a paleo way of eating/lifestyle. The WOE didn’t immediately take, I cheated a lot and didn’t see much weight loss/change until I really focused down on it about seven months ago. That’s when I joined the Nerd Fitness “Rebellion” and kickstarted my fitness, nutrition and lifestyle learning.

This pushed me into high gear. I started working out multiple times a week, focusing on cleaning up my diet even more and on improving other bad habits I had picked up over the last decade or so. Many of you know I quit smoking a few years back, but I had many other bad habits that needed to be cut, or at least backed off on. Over the last seven months I’ve stopped ordering takeout as much, cut back on drinking, focused on getting adequate sleep, made sure I’m eating enough food every day and get enough physical exercise every week. Because of this I’ve lost 50 pounds (total over the last year), and started seeing some real improvements in my strength. I started off doing a body weight-based workout every day, then joined a gym in September and started lifting. In January I started Stronglifts 5×5, which is a progressive strength training program, and I’m lifting double the weight I used to. The overall idea is that you do five sets of five reps, in 5 basic, compound lifts, increasing the weight by 5 pounds every workout. It works… impressively. More on that at a later date though.

Strength (fitness, nutrition and health) is nothing without wisdom, however. These efforts have pushed me to focus on learning as much as I can about fitness, nutrition and overall growth as a human being. I could link you to the 43632426 sites that I now read on a near-daily basis, but that would probably be overwhelming. People like Tim Ferriss, Elliot Hulse and Mark Sisson are certainly more knowledgeable than I am in these areas, but life is a learning curve in itself, so why try to jump ahead? The idea here is to share my knowledge, which is still growing, with other people who might be starting out from the same point I was, at the same point I currently am, or still thinking about trying to change their lives. These efforts aren’t meant to encourage, or motivate, but simply be informative… because like many other people I started off with an understanding of fitness and health, but over the last several months it has changed and evolved. I learned that many of the things I “knew” previously were wrong, or misrepresented, and I have since learned to question everything, and keep looking for the answers. Aberro Specus is about “escaping the cave” and discovering things for yourself. Hopefully I can point you in a better direction.

Moving forward my posts will be on four categories, primarily: Fitness, Nutrition, Philosophy and Personal. There will be other topics, such as gaming and writing, but these will probably all fall into the Personal category – unless I post fiction… look out for that. These topics will be broad enough to appeal to most people, but more focused, much in the way that I have been trying to bring focus to my life. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire others to make positive changes in their lives… or at the very least share them with other people.

I look forward to sharing more with you later… Until then.

A treatise on game design – Part 2

See part 1 here.

The effort that goes into creating a game set aside, the sheer amount of theory testing that you have to do can deter many people from undertaking such a project by itself. Personally, I don’t even really have the time to do it, but it’s a pet project of mine so I try to fit it in. That has made finalizing many of the new ideas that I mentioned in part 1 more difficult than I’d like, but at the same time has set me up to produce a pretty solid game once I am able to finish the details.

To recap – I’ve redesigned magic use, set some customized skill selection and create unique Characteristics and Secondary Attributes for players to use to inspire more realism in the game. This sets me up for a survival horror, post-apocalyptic setting with ease.

In order continue driving that realism, there are a few other factors that I felt had to be set in motion, but more on the game end than the character/player side of things. Creating an environment that felt familiar-yet-alien, a scarcity that continued to demonstrate the essence of survival throughout the game and the right atmosphere in NPCs and world interactions that would make the players feel like they were struggling to survive, let alone thrive, in this setting.

Fallout InventoryFrom my experience there are few tabletop RPGs that do this successfully. I’d love to hear about any systems that do. However, there are plenty of video games that succeed in this area with flying colors – most notably Fallout, Wasteland and DayZ. These games capture the essence of survival without making it seem over worked or boring – although some might argue that the obsessive inventory micromanagement needed in the more recent Fallout titles detracts from the game.

To convey these ideas I decided to take another look at items and equipment. There are three primary factors that I think contribute to the right ideas that I’m going for with these areas of the game – scarcity, durability and wastefulness. Making the player feel the scarcity of food, ammunition, water and helpful items like armor would generate the survival feeling quite well. At the same time, adding a durability score for weapons and armor would help encourage players to think twice before charging into combat, with something other than hit points to consider losing. If one’s armor is at low durability, two hits might make it fall off and then you have a much larger problem. And finally, the idea of not wanting to waste items. If you have a few scraps of leather and rivets to repair an item, is it more important to fix a breastplate or create a new pair of gloves? Which will provide more value over time? These factors have to be introduced to the players in a way that doesn’t make the game seem overly complicated, but drives the… necessary hoarder mentality for a survival situation.

Perfecting these areas of the game is the next step (and where I am currently at), but I need to actually test them with players. I feel like once these aspects are perfected in a way that makes them a pertinent part of game play but doesn’t detract from the game as whole by being too much of a focus, I will be able to finalize the game rules and focus more on the setting again.

The easiest way to set durability is with a percentage system, much like anything else in BRP. Scarcity can be controlled in game by affecting characters hunger and hydration attributes over the course of a session with no food or water to be found. The real trick I feel will be imparting the importance of using resources wisely without simply using trial and error. This will be the next step, and hopefully I can perfect it soon and offer some more data and insights into this process.

A treatise on game design – Part 1

About two years ago I wrote about an RPG project I was working on at the time. While I still haven’t completed that project, I have put considerable more thought into it and I feel like it’s time to revisit the subject. My efforts in designing a game system from the ground up, and consequently a game world and story, have changed greatly, and now I’m working toward a slightly different goal.

The golden arches of a new age.Ultimately, developing an entirely new game system proved pointless in my efforts. I was trying to develop a system that would incorporate several new factors into it, but when all was said and done it was significantly easier to take another system – BRP, or Basic Role-Playing – and adapt it to my needs. My original idea was to create a system that used a broader range of options for combat, magic use and skills, and expand upon a percentage-based roll, much like BRP does. After working through several theories and trying to fine-tune a few ideas, I realized that it was much easier to just use BRP for the system, as all the other ideas I tried were more complicated – a direction I definitely didn’t want to go in. There is no reason for a game system to be more complicated than BRP, and the games that are are just too hard to get into because of it.

Following the decision to use BRP rather than develop my own system, however, I decided that I needed to create some customized rules to go along with it, mostly regarding the use of magic. BRP has a very basic magic system that works like any other skill within the game – roll a percentile dice and get below a skill number. Magic systems tend to become oversimplified if you follow this approach, with little room for specialization or growth.

In order to avoid this problem I decided to create a separate skill chart based on BRP‘s skill system, but focus on in depth customization. Players can select from different schools of magic and then select choose spells that then act as the skill.

Example: Player 1 selects the Pyromancy school of magic. He or she then has a certain number of skill points to assign here at character creation based on a formula – which is still being developed, sorry. Player 1 has 60 points to assign, which he or she decides to sink into two different spells – Fireball and Heat Manipulation. This allows Player 1 to create a sizeable ball of flame that can be launched at a target, such as a fire to light it or an enemy to damage it, while also manipulating already existing fire’s temperature – cooling a fire in order to keep it from spreading, perhaps, or increasing its heat in order to melt steel. Player 1 puts 40 points into Fireball, allowing him or her a moderate chance to create one of whatever size is preferred, and high accuracy when throwing of it. This leaves 20 points for Heat Manipulation, allowing for a low margin of success, but one that can be cultivated later.

This type of system allows for complete customization by the player while still keeping it simple and controllable by the game master.

However, there are so many other considerations that go into creating a game that is unique that I had to dabble a bit more with the BRP system and customize a few other factors. For one, certain skills didn’t work for the world I was creating, while a few new ones were necessary. The BRP rule set is designed for mostly real-world, modern settings. By adapting this, I can easily customize it for a post-apocalyptic horror game. I removed skills like Accounting, Anthropology, Drive, Pilot and Psychology and replace them with Barter, Ride (Horse), Magic, Scavenge and other skills more appropriately suited for survival in a harsh wilderness. This allows me to focus the ideas of the game more and set a better mood.

The final touch was in creating a system to control health. Not hit points, but rather disease, starvation, dehydration and other factors that would be more likely to affect the players. I decided to steal a page from Call of Cthulhu for this one. Much like Power affects Sanity, and the new rule set for CoC includes Luck – I could incorporate Hunger, Hydration and other attributes. This would allow me to create a pressing need for players to conserve water and food, and set a threshold for when their hunger began to negatively affect their ability to perform actions.

To be continued…

Youth and Video Games

While the matter of whether or not parents should allow their kids to play whatever video games they want is an entirely superficial one, and one that I have strong opinions on, the plethora of children playing multiplayer games online – like Call of Duty – is both frightening and pathetic. It’s not that I don’t think they shouldn’t be allowed to play games, though I don’t think a violent first-person shooter is the right game for someone under the age of 14 to be playing, but rather the intense dread I feel whenever I log into a multiplayer lobby and hear the shrill, pre-pubescent screech of one of these bratty little shits.

Let’s ignore, for a moment, the fact that they are almost always better at the games than me. That doesn’t bother me. I play Call of Duty for the 4-player Zombie mode, not traditional multiplayer. It’s the fact that these whiny brats jump into lobby’s (as they are known in the game), throw a plethora of four letter words around (where are their parents and why aren’t there bars of soap on hand?) and then proceed to do everything humanly possible to annoy the other players within the game. This includes, but is not limited to, kill stealing, hogging weapons and in general being a nuisance.

The worst part is that this behavior isn’t limited to the 14 and under club. College students and, presumably, grown adults share in these same activities. There’s a reason I rarely play these games any more, and it isn’t because I don’t enjoy them.

Case in point: I just logged out of a… 1-2 hour session of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Zombies. While it was, for the most part, enjoyable, there reached a point where one of the other players began whining about trying to accomplish something (note: something that benefited only him, not the other three of us), and how we weren’t helping. Albeit, teamwork is the name of the game, this never sits well with me. And then I start becoming an asshole.

Immature people exist. I can cope with that fact. Immature people play video games – hell I’m probably not the most mature person in the world. However, the fact that I’m forced to interact with immature people in order to play these games is why, for one, I don’t play some of them, like World of Warcraft, anymore. I’m going to choose to distance myself from these types of players because they make the game unenjoyable for me. Now I just wish there was a way to make sure I never encountered them again.

On a related note: Parents – please pay the fuck attention to what your children are saying and doing on their Xbox’s. Or they might end up growing up like me.

Once more unto the breach…

Making a habit out of this is harder than I ever give it credit. I want to write. I have the ambition to. I even have the motivation. But then other things distract me, like video games, or… working out. So I end up… not. It does give me good fodder for updates though.

So it’s been… nearly five months since my last post. Since then I’ve dropped “several” pounds (30 or so), played some video games, written some stuff and, in general, been a very busy boy. I proposed to my then girlfriend, now fiancee, and Christmas has occurred. A busy time for all, and no time for anything.

This, of course, doesn’t make me special, or stand out from any of the hundreds of thousands of other people who did probably much of the same over that time period. However, it does mark several momentous occasions in my life – notably the proposal. Of course, it would have been far more interesting if I had updated here around the time that had happened (Halloween, for reference), but again – busy.

So the question is… why am I updating now?
Good question.

The answer, I guess, is because I want to. I want to write more, I really do. I just always get sidetracked. I sit here waiting for a scheduled Google+ Hangout with a group of friends from an online forum and I was thinking “Hey, now’s a good time to knock out a blog post.” And I was right, it is. But what to say…

I recently beat Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which was an excellent game. I’m looking forward to picking up the… third in the series? Lords of Shadow 2 when it comes out next month (Note: I probably won’t get it next month). Yes, “2” is the third in the series. A Nintendo 3DS game, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, is the direct sequel to the first title, and it was released for the Xbox Arcade in October. So I’ll play that next.

The game relaunches the Castlevania franchise with a new storyline and approach to the classic series. I appreciated what was changed with the game, what was kept, and how subtle nuances that made it feel like a Castlevania game were worked in. The biggest change… “feel-wise” for me was the music. The Castlevania games have always had amazing soundtracks, and this title was no exception, but none of the classic songs were there, like “Vampire Killer” or “Bloody Tears.” They were missed, but I enjoyed the game’s soundtrack nonetheless. Mechanically, it felt much like playing the Playstation 2 Castlevania titles, but more polished. Overall I’d give the game a solid 8/10.

Since then, I’ve started playing Dishonored, which is fantastic so far.

Other than that (and the proposal) life has been… normal. Work, food, gym. I just got over debilitating illness – my first in a year – and my stomach is still touchy about what I put in it, but all in all things are looking good. Band stuff has been steady, the Call of Cthulhu game I run has been good. All in all times are good. And I’m not even waiting for the other shoe to drop… what has become of me?

Look for another update this weekend, hopefully… and more time in the future. For now, I go to listen to music, prepare for the Hangout and dream of dark skies and madness.

Returning to Arkham…

Or at least Somerville.

NecronomiCon-Providence ended Sunday, late afternoon, as the stars came out of alignment, and we made our return to the northern Boston area. Now… yes I could have posted Sunday evening, or even Monday – but truth be told I was exhausted and worked Tuesday so I decided to push this off for a day or two.

So let’s start by talking about the convention. First off, it was amazing. A huge thank you and shoutout to Niels Hobbs, Anthony Teth, Carmen Marusich and the rest of the The Lovecraft Arts and Sciences Council. You gents and ladies did an amazing job bringing everything together, despite running around like chickens with your heads cut off throughout the entire weekend. 2015!

Highlights! Well gaming was certainly up there. For those that don’t know, I run a Call of Cthulhu game every other week, and have been running games in general for years. However, I rarely get to play in them and I have, in fact, never played Call of Cthulhu (before this weekend). So that was an amazing part of the weekend. Playing in Jeff Carey’s and Mark Morrison’s games was a unique experience, especially with Mark, who came up with a one-of-a-kind scene on the fly and ran it for the group of us playing with him Sunday morning. We even walked up to Prospect Park up on College Hill to play – a site were Lovecraft used to sit and write.

Beyond the gaming, there were a lot of other amazing things that happened over the course of the weekend. The Emerging Scholarship Symposium panels were unique and interesting (although a bit deep for 9 a.m. And of course, listening to S.T. Joshi speak was a fun experience, especially considering how powerful of a speaker he is.

I also got a chance to talk with some major players in the CoC tabletop universe, like Scott Glancy, Mark Morrison, Tom Lynch and a few others. Oh, and Sandy Peterson was there. Of course, those conversations took a turn toward writing for the most part, and I may have some more interesting news related to that in the future.

For anyone interested in catching up on more information on the convention, Mike Davis of The Lovecraft eZine has been posting videos on his YouTube page, and one attendee, “Steve Ahlquist,” has posted some videos on his own page as well.

Moving on from the convention though… we’re back in the thick of Lovecraft Country, and happy to be home with our cats. Stay tuned for more, soon.

To the land of Lovecraft

The stars align once every so often, and when that occurs hundreds, nay thousands, gather in a mecca of sorts – Providence, R.I. – to discuss and celebrate the life and writings of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Less poetically put, tomorrow marks the unofficial start of the NecronomiCon-Providence, which officially begins the following day on Friday. Crista and I will be traveling down by train to spend the weekend basking in the glory of my favorite American writer and the otherworldly horror of which he studied.

Tentatively, we will attend panels on Forbidden Knowledge in 19th & 20th Century Modernism; Religion, Philosophy and Cosmic Horror in HPL and other discussions of The Cthulhu Mythos and Lovecraft’s work, as well as gaming and attending other various events around the city.

Should you be in Providence for this forsaken weekend, check out the festivities, and if not… Wish you were here.

I will be posting upon our return, and perhaps during the events, if the mood strikes me.

Till then.

Monday Fitness Update

So once a week, now that I am actively working out and trying to lose weight and get in better shape, I weigh myself and take my general measurements. Neck, chest, bicep (right), forearm (right), waist, hips, thigh (right) and calf (right). This is to track progress and get a better sense of where I am at in general. A combination of weight, neck and waist measurements can give you an approximate body fat percentage, and it helps motivate me to keep going.

Monday morning, after my workout and shower, I take all of these measurements, log them, and then go about my day. I also keep track of how many calories I ate over the previous week (Sunday-Saturday) and how many I burned, to get an idea of if I’m eating enough, eating too much or not working out enough. So, without further ado – here is this mornings’ measurements.

Weight: 185 lbs
BMI: 25.1*
Body Fat %: 23.79

Neck: 16″
Chest: 42″
Bicep: 13.25″
Forearm: 12″
Waist: 39″ 😦
Hips: 38″ 😦
Thigh: 23.5″
Calf: 16.25″

*I’m 6′.

For reference, I ate far too little this week, at only 10,854 calories (I should be hitting at least 12,000), but my burn totals were pretty fantastic at 19,175. Now I just need to boost my intake without letting the burn suffer.

I lost 4 pounds this week, which is kind of insane. This could be due to a variety of factors, but I honestly expect it to go up slightly next week, probably to 186. However, if it drops again to 184 I’ll be happy. My main goal is to drop waist inches though – to at least 36″, preferably 34″. If I can hit this goal in another 4 weeks I will accomplish my first question/mission/challenge for Nerd Fitness and hit level 1!

Today… I still have a good bike ride to do (plus a Call of Cthulhu campaign to run), so I need to head out to eat dinner and get ready for those things. Expect to see a similar post to this every Monday, and some more interesting content coming soon.

Oh hey look at that…

So yeah, it’s been well over a year since last time I posted. Life has been hectic. Work, play, more work, less play, some lifestyle changes, etc. But I’m back! Here’s what has been going on.

I’m in a band now – Origin of Inertia. We do nerd metal, it’s a thing.

I started changing my diet and eating Paleo – which is basically the removal of heavily processed food, most simple carbs and grains and legumes from your diet.  Basically, I don’t eat bread, pasta, sugar, baked goods, potatoes (often), rice (often), cereal or beans (often). It’s interesting, and I definitely feel healthier and like I have more energy.  Plus it’s an awesome excuse to eat steak. Every. Night.

I also started working out – then stopped – then started again more recently with more motivational support. It has been great. I feel stronger and I have more energy (again).

I’m drinking less. What?

I’m running a biweekly Call of Cthulhu game, woo creativity!

So what does that mean for Aberro Specus? Well, with all the “lifestyle” changes I’ve been making the primary goal is, kinda obviously, to be happier. And non-work-related writing makes me happy, so my goal is to start posting here again, and stick with it (the hard part). I’m going to make it easy on myself with some sub-goals.

  • Post once a week.
  • Post quality content.
  • Talk about shit that is actually going on in my life as well as random musings.

That’s it. The Nerd Fitness community takes a gaming approach to fitness and setting goals, so I’m going to incorporate this into mine. So hopefully that will keep my posting. There are several new types of posts that will show up then, in order to keep myself organized and motivated:

  • Workout related stuff (sorry if you don’t care)/weekly journal of fitness and nutrition.
  • New life goals
  • Home improvement projects

That last one might have thrown you – but the idea is that I’m funneling money saved from drinking less and some other things into getting some new furniture, and more importantly, building new furniture – as well as some other things for the house. So stay tuned there.

That’s it for now – Stay tuned for the first weekly fit/nut update on Monday.

RPG Project

Post-Apocalyptic World

Something like this would be a Post-Apocalyptic survivor junky's wet dream...

I’ve got the general makings for a pseudo-Post-Apocalyptic RPG setting running around in my head and I haven’t decided what to do with it yet (including whether I should scrap it or not).

The basic idea is a serious world, as most PA tabletop RPGs are a bit tongue-in-cheek, and that’s about it. Other than that I’m still torn between quite a few options, some of which I am going to lay out here.

Setting – The setting of an RPG can sometimes be the most important thing. Most Post-Apocalyptic worlds or either Realistic, Horror, or Sci-Fi. But there are many other options as well – High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Western, Victorian-era, even Steampunk (haha no). So what time of world would I want to play in? Idealistically the game that comes out of this project would be adaptable to whatever setting the players want. If the rules allow for slight variation or customization, then you can transplant them from Horror straight into a Victorina-era Post-Apocalypse complete with vampires (or some such nonsense). So my thoughts are to design for a vaguely Realistic, maybe Low Fantasy-style world, but with complete adaptability.

Rules – Ah the rules. If the setting is the flesh of a game, the Rules are the bones of it. For creation testing, I will probably keep this in a D20 rule setting. Everyone I know that might be interested in playtesting knows it already, it’s easy to adapt, and most importantly I know it like the back of my hand… Wait, where’d that scar come from? Anyway. Ultimately I’d like to adapt whatever rule set that I use to come similar enough to feel comfortable to the players, but unique enough that… um… it’s unique.

Characters (Classes and Races) – Ah yes… to continue the terrible analogy, if setting is the flesh and rules are the bones, the characters are the blood of a game – the life force. Every game as characters, that’s the point. So what do I do with the character options? Well in part that depends on the setting. If this is a High, or even Low Fantasy setting, could players pick Elves and Dwarves for their classes? Ehhhh… yes. But what about Victorian, Horror, Western, etc.? What are the options there, just Human? Ideally, I would like to create a… rough outline of races based more on location. Think Midnight or Elder Scrolls: Oblivion/Skyrim for those more familiar with video games. The Northerners are a tall, stocky group with these natural skill sets… while Southerners are lithe and agile with these natural skills… That sort of thing. And if those goes well, addendum rules for Fantasy races are always an option. But at that point shouldn’t you just go play Eberron?

Finally, we come to the most important aspect… what makes a game Post-Apocalyptic? Well, that’s actually quite easy (to me).

Any PA-style game must have four basic elements to it, other than a ruined landscape (which, honestly, it doesn’t have to have).

  • A feeling of survival.
  • You must scavenge to survive.
  • Scavenging includes finding items to repair or replace current equipment… and health (you can’t just go to a shop and buy a new gun or some penicillin).
  • And a feeling of fear.

These may be the most important points for me in this game. If I capture those perfectly (or at least well) then I will be happy.

Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions or comments, feel free to leave them.


A poll! A poll!

She turned me into a newt…

Wait… no. Not that again.

In all seriousness, I believe strongly in giving the people what they want. Or a good hard kick in the face. But that’s what I want to give them… sorry, I digress.

I figure that many of you have favorite posts here on the site, and that by getting a little feedback I can not only make the site more enjoyable for you… but also make it easier for me to find something to babble about. So… a poll. Please answer truthfully, or hordes of slathering beasts from the bowels of Warren Ellis will devour your skin.

Hello, again

*blink, blink* AH!!!! The sunlight… it burns the retinas.

But seriously, “what the hell!?” you might be thinking. I’d be thinking it too. Too be fair, I did complete Nano, so I did a lot of writing… I’m also working AS a writer. So I spend 90% of my day typing away… I generally don’t want to come home and do more of it.

The problem is that I have to in order to complete personal projects… right?

Right. So we come full circle, returning to, well, here. I’ve always been a prolific writer… just not steady prolific. I go frequent stints without outputting anything, then in a flurry of activity do too much, and burn out the creative synapses. I hear that it’s a common issue, actually… with many creative types. Only when you rely on that creativity for profit, it’s generally a bad idea, no? So to work around that we practice moderation.

Moderation in all things.

Some of you may know, and many may not know, that I’m a Buddhist. More in nature than in practice. I do believe in 98.7% of the tenets of Buddhism, from Enlightenment to moderation. I also don’t give a rat’s ass about the organized “sit here and recite koans till your mouth bleeds and your hands have become fused into a claw-like shape. Fuck that nonsense. There’s a certain level of… un-authenticity behind anyone who says that I can’t reach enlightenment without zazen practice 4 times a day. To you I say “And?”

Brad Warner, of punk rock fame and Zen obscurity… wait… strike that, reverse it… recently made a bit of a kerfuffle in this area. What is authenticity, and who decides what is authentic, and what is wrong? Without going into detail, because Master Warner (is that right… Priest? Awesome-dude-who-does-the-meditation-thing? Meh…) says it better than I would anyway, plus you should visit his site, I think he’s dead on here. I think that there’s a bit too much focus on who the person is, and not what they do. Who cares if I think The Beatles are overrated? Which I do (their early stuff anyway). Yes, it’s been some of the most influential music ever made… but that doesn’t mean it’s good.

My point is that there’s not enough moderation in thought and action going around these days… so I should make an extra effort to bring more into my own life.

So… the goal here is to steadily post again… also finish a few projects that I’ve been sitting on for far too long. From The Cult of Done manifesto… I should abandon those… but again, all things in moderation – I agree with some of the points of The Cult of Done, not all of it.

So look forward to seeing new and interesting things here in the near future… and scream at me if you don’t.


NaNo – Day 1

TypewriterDay 1 of NaNoWriMo is officially over, and I have to say, went very well.

Most of the people I know met their word counts, and those that didn’t are planning on catching up at the first official Boston write-in tonight. My word count? Not as high as a few of the fellow Boston WriMo’s that I know, but 2002 isn’t too shabby I think. I’m happy at any rate.

Brandon informed me that I should have a quote of the day from each day of writing, so here was last nights. And I will preface it by saying yes, I am writing a horror novel.

I don’t bother telling her that my dream that night had centered around a man wearing her face as a mask slicing slivers of my skin off and feeding them to dogs with the heads of infants.

And that, ladies and gents, was my first day of NaNoWriMo. Expect more soon!

NaNoing Time!

TyperwriterIn just a few short days I will be undertaking, for the fourth time, NaNoWriMo. This time it’s different, this time it’s grander… this time… maybe I won’t fail. Haha.

I do have to apologize for the lack of updates lately. Things have been a bit hectic here. Job interviews and birthday celebrations and Halloween parties… etc, etc. And now I’m gearing up for NaNo. I can’t promise you regular updates through the month of November, but I can promise you this… you will get far too many posts about what I’m working on, excerpts, word counts… and the like. Far more than you’ll want to read.

But things will go back to normal in December… maybe. Chuck Wendig doesn’t call it “National Edit Your Shit Month” (NaEdYoShiMo) for nothing… Although if you need a break after the insanity of November, you could always wait for March and NaNoEdMo

So why do NaNoWriMo? I know I covered this before, but in an attempt to make my insanity understandable, as well as perhaps draw you, my faithful reader-s- into the insanity with me, I will address it one more time.

NaNoWriMo isn’t about winning. It isn’t about losing. It’s about writing. Whether or not you’re a seasoned writer, maybe even a published writer, or an amateur with maybe 500 words of fiction written down since your birth… NaNoWriMo can be for you. No one there really cares how many words you write, or how many times your main character magically comes back from the dead… or magically avoids an oncoming train… they care about writing. Getting words on paper. Making them mean something (at least to you)… and having fun doing it. The point of this exercise, if for nothing else, is to have fun.

NaNoBoston2011Now, there are people who would tell you that the point is to write a novel… yeah, sure… that can be a point. But some people really just can’t write 50,000 words in 30 days. Hell, some people don’t even consider 50,000 words a novel. But that’s up to you. Maybe you just want to add another 50,000 words to an already existing 60,000 word novel you’re working on. Maybe you want to write a series of short stories that happen to fit together in a cohesive manner. Maybe you just want a good excuse to take the time to write. Whatever helps you, let it help you. And most importantly, let it matter to you.

I think my final point, really, is that NaNoWriMo isn’t about meeting a word goal, it’s not about writing a novel (well, it is, but…), it’s about challenging yourself and having fun doing it. And it doesn’t hurt to meet other people who are insane about a similar interest at the same time – wrimo’s unite! haha.

So as November 1st rolls around, if you really aren’t the novel writing type… challenge yourself in another way. Start a blog on your favorite topic and try to write 50,000 words worth of posts by the end of the month. Start a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to try but have been scared of failing at… Hell, READ 50,000 novels in a month (okay… maybe not that many). But the point is, challenge yourself, and as always, have fun.

Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Movies

Post-Apocalyptic TokyoSo, as I mentioned before, I kind of like the “Top 5” post idea, and I figured I’d run with it for a little while, or at least until I run out of things to make lists of.

This week I decided to run with Post-Apocalyptic movies. I’ve written about this before, and as some of you may know, Post-Apocalyptic movies are some of my favorites. And not just in movies, but comics, video games, and books as well. So without further ado, my Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic movie recommendations…

5. 12 Monkeys – A science fiction, post-apocalyptic/time travel film by Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame) based off of the French art-film La Jetée. This movie is just fun. Watch Bruce Willis go/be crazy. Watch Brad Pitt at his wackiest since Fight Club. It’s just a good, entertaining movie. With some rather peculiar social commentary slid in, but who cares about that, right? I recommend this movie almost solely based on the fact that it’s fun. I mean, the acting is phenomenal, the cinematography is phenomenal, and the story is damn good, but over-all I think the best reason to watch this one is for entertainment.

4. The Stand – The T.V. mini-series based on the novel by Stephen King, The Stand is really, really damn good. The acting isn’t… always there, but the story is just good. Take a world ravished by a horrible disease, then add a surprisingly non-stereotypical battle between good and evil, and you get this odd mix of “wow this is really good” and “okay, I actually didn’t expect that.” The Stand also slides in ahead of 12 Monkeys almost purely based on the fact that it’s long. Now, in many cases “long” is a negative way to describe a movie or show, but in this case it works out to be positive. The Stand has a very delicate, well balanced story to tell… and without the length of a mini-series I don’t think it could have been pulled off. If this was a two hour movie? Forget it, you’d end the movie going “meh.” But in this case you end it going “Cool.”

3. The Last Man On Earth – Ahhh… a Vincent Price classic. Almost a heavily remade movie. Many of you probably know it better as The Omega Man or I Am Legend. Not only is this the story of… literally the last man on earth (which is epic as far as post-apocalyptic stories go) but also a story about zombies, or vampires, or whatever you want to call them in this case. Based on the novel (actually, it’s almost a short story) by Richard Matheson – I Am Legend, this movie is not only classic as far as age, but classic as far as quality. There is something about horror movies made in the ’50s and ’60s that really makes Mad Maxme giggle. The best ones are usually a little cheesy, but so original and intelligent that it is impossible to find fault in them. Half the time the acting is atrocious… but I still love them. This get’s the solid number three spot because it’s just… amazing. Simply put.

2. Mad Max – Remember when Mel Gibson was cool? Or at least a good actor? I do… This movie is the pinnacle of post-apocalyptic movies for me. dystopic future, insane gangs of bikers and rabble… and one man trying to hold his life together in the midst of all this insanity… and how he reacts as it falls apart. I think the power behind this entire movie is how well it captures humanity. How we break when everything goes to hell, and how the mindless masses are driven to insanity by the freedom/prison of a world-wide incident. It’s beautiful, really, if you look at it from that point of view. I have to say, that no matter what, this will continue to sit as one of my favorite movies, not just post-apocalyptic ones, for a long time.

1. [Insert time of day/random word here] …Of The Dead – I love zombies. Most of you already know that, so I don’t go too deeply into it, but I felt I had to preface with that. I think more importantly here is that I love post-apocalyptic zombie tales. Put a group of people in a worst-case scenario game, and eventually someone will mention a zombie apocalypse. And George A. Romero is the master of that genre. No one else has ever been able to capture the essence of his films in the same way. Not only are they rife with the fear and dread of trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse, but the social commentary… and commentary on humanity in general, is utter amazing, and spot on. Not to mention how far ahead of their times these films are. And if you truly want my recommendation on these, watch them in order… but my favorite by far is Day of the Dead.

Diary of the Dead

Ah... filming zombies...

And there you have it, my top 5 post-apocalyptic movies. If you want more information on these films, or other post-apocalyptic films that I like… comment.