Sunday, September 13, 2015


The magic only works in certain areas
Boundaries painted on the ceiling
Bars and features on the ceiling
Have to use moving vehicles to activate it
No one believes

Monday, June 1, 2015

Yellow Chair Review - Chair Stealer and Tickle Finger

A poem of mine, Chair Stealer and Tickle Finger, is featured in the latest issue of Yellow Chair Review, which has a theme of Superheroes.  You can check it out here:

If you're wondering, I don't write much poetry these days, but I did a lot when I was at University of Nebraska, like 18 years ago or so (wow I'm getting old).  I even took a poetry writing course there, which was interesting, as I got to learn about different styles and force myself to write in them.

So I have tons of old poems lying around that perhaps I might dust off and submit to a few places.  Some are actually pretty good, I think.

The thing I've always liked about poetry, though, is that it's very subjective.  There's almost no right or wrong, unless you are attempting to write in a rigid format, but that's only fun a few times.

Anyway, check out YCR, it's a newer journal, with both poetry, short prose and art.  Some good stuff in there.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review [PS3] Terminator: Salvation

Genre: FPS
Gameplay Hours: ~6 for platinum
Year: 2009
Rating: 4
Availability: Retail disc
Website: None, so you get Wikipedia.

Continuing with the custom list quest that I mentioned in my review of Red Faction: Armageddon, next up was Terminator: Salvation, an old PS3 game that is infamous for poor design and a pitiful trophy list.  It features 12 golds and 1 platinum, and all the golds are story-related.  So all you have to do is beat it on hard and you get the platinum.  Most trophy hunters played this one back in the day... for whatever reason I never got around to it.

So I found it pretty cheap at GameStop and ran through it.  I generally don't do hard difficulties because I actually want to finish a game without getting mad or stressed out, but since I needed the trophy for the hard completion, and it would get me another platinum... I sucked it up.

First of all, the story is a joke.  I haven't seen the movie this is based on (I got tired of the Terminator franchise after the second movie because of their liberal use of time travel, which ruins it for me), so I have no clue if it lines up with that or revolves around a side story.  But basically you're John Connor, trying to rescue some buddies trapped deep within Skynet territory.  You take down so many machines on your own that you have to wonder why the humans are losing the war.

The amount of T-600s you kill in this game is impressive.  And yet
Reese in the original Terminator movie struggled to kill just one.

Secondly, the mechanics are pretty bad.  Parts of the game are interesting, but overall it's same thing for 6 hours.  You come to an area with elements perfectly set up for sitting in cover, and you know what's going to happen: enemies.  That's basically the whole game, hopscotching from one to another.  No upgrades, little depth in weaponry (half of them I ignored completely).  It was bad enough to inspire me to write a poem about it, which sums up my feelings better than this review.

by Me 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Ride in a moving vehicle
Shoot things 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking 
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Ride in a moving vehicle
Shoot things 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking 
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Wonder why Barnes can't stay in cover * 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking 
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Ride in a moving vehicle
Shoot things 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking 
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
I rate it a 3 **

* The reference to Barnes pertains to a specific mission, where he's setting explosives.  For the rest of the game your companions will not die during battles - except for this one mission with the explosives.  In it, he stands out in plain sight, ignoring cover, and can easily be killed, forcing you to do the mission all over again.  It's a tad bit frustrating.

** The 3 rating is for the trophy difficulty.  The game itself I'm giving a 4.  Playable and mildly entertaining, but forgettable.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Brad Murgen on Bandcamp

So if you're familiar with my Music page, you'll know that I wrote and recorded some electronica music a while back (2004, to be exact).  Those songs have been on the page for free since I put it up, but now I've decided to take them off there and throw them up on Bandcamp to hopefully generate more interest, since it can be discovered easier there and linked to other music via tags, etc.  I've also put it in the sidebar below Apps.

Here's the link:

Goblin Stands by Brad Murgen

You can get it for free by entering "0" as the amount when you click "Buy Now."  You can also donate something if you like.

I'd like to eventually do more music, though I have little free time right now as I'm involved in a few other things.  But I feel I'm pretty good at it and I enjoy doing it.

My idea right now is to do soundtracks for my novels...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Eddings [Novel] Polgara the Sorceress

This is Part 12 of my retrospective for The Belgariad and The Malloreon. Please see this blog post for an overview of the retrospective. Warning: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE SERIES, AS IN BOTH THE BELGARIAD AND THE MALLOREON.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

The best way to approach these blogs is via your own re-read. If you have not read the entire series yet and plan on doing so, you may want to wait on reading this.

Novel: Polgara the Sorceress (1997)
Eddings followed up his first fake autobiography, Belgarath the Sorcerer, with a second one, told by Belgarath's daughter, Polgara.  Just like her father's, it clocks in at over 700 pages and drags in places.  Sometimes there's no need to retell the same events from a different perspective.  Especially when they contradict things yet again.

I honestly don't remember when I first read this book... but I do remember that I had a Science Fiction Book Club version (you know, the smaller hardbacks), so it was probably around 1998, after I left college and got a job.  I donated the book 4 years ago when I moved across the country, so I had to go find another copy for this re-read.  Sadly, it's not in ebook format yet.  The Rivan Codex, which is the final book I'll be doing in this retrospective, is the only one in ebook format for some reason.  Del Rey's probably too lazy to OCR / scan in the original text.

Since many of the things I talked about in the previous blog for Belgarath the Sorcerer apply to this book, I'm going to instead talk about each major section and my thoughts.  Overall this book is okay... it's on par with Belgarath, but neither of the autobiographies are as good as either main series.  It's really only worth reading if you absolutely love the Belgariad and Malloreon, and can't get enough.

I'm also going to skimp on art for my blogs going forward, so don't expect a lot of pretty pictures.  There are no new maps or anything anyway.

The Cover
First, the cover.  As usual, nothing special.  Polgara in front of the Tree in the Vale with an owl on her wrist, presumably Poledra, her mother.  

There are different versions, of course - and a decent amount of fan art for Polgara out there, since she's a very distinctive character - but this one below is probably my favorite.

You can find more covers on the David Eddings Wiki.

Part 1: Beldaran
This first section covers Polgara's childhood and her bond with Beldaran, her twin sister.  It always seemed weird that Polgara was a tomboy growing up, though compared to how long she's lived (4,000 years) it's only seconds in the grand scheme of things.

A few major things happen here.  Polgara learns that she has the power of the Will and the Word, while Beldaran doesn't.  She learns that her mother, Poledra, didn't die giving birth to her, and that she had to hide as part of the Purpose they are all following (the eventual Godslayer and new God of Angarak that will fix the Mistake).  Poledra, it seems, has been with Polgara all this time.  I don't believe Polgara mentions that she had always been guiding her in the Malloreon, but I could be wrong.  It feels like something Eddings threw in later.  It works better than some of the other inconsistencies, though.

The last thing of importance is Polgara essentially becoming the guardian of the Rivan line.  She hears the Voice of Prophecy as well... it's the same inconsistency that popped up in the Belgarath book.

Part 2: Father
In this section, Polgara becomes closer to her father, learns what it means to be part of this elite group of Disciples, and comes to terms with her own abilities.  You get a better insight into what went on at Riva in the early days, for she spends a lot of time there, learning things like healing, herbs, surgery, etc.  She and Belgarath visit the Mrin and Darine prophets, whose ramblings are recorded down as the Mrin and Darine Codices that become important later.  Also, she kind of falls in love for the first time, with a Rivan named Kamion, who becomes the first Rivan Warder.

Now, they call him Brand in this one, but I could have sworn back in the Belgariad and Malloreon, that the title of Brand only came into being after the assassination of King Gorek, when the Rivan line went into hiding.  But I could be wrong.

Part 3: Vo Wacune
Honestly, this section is pretty boring.  It's part of why it took me so long to do this retrospective.  I simply got bogged down in it and frequently read other things.

Polgara is tasked with going to Arendia and keeping the Angaraks from meddling in their affairs and potentially pushing the West into war, much like I had to push myself through this section.  It's quite dull and could have been done in maybe two chapters.

I guess Eddings was trying to establish why Polgara loved Vo Wacune so much.  It does explain how she became the Duchess of Erat and all that, which was nice to see.

Part 4: Ontrose
Ontrose is the next person that Polgara falls in love with.  She actually wants to marry him.  Belgarath says this is not possible, of course, because Ontrose will grow old and die, while Polgara won't.  This section mostly continues the storylines in the previous section, so it's just about as boring.

There's also an offhand remark in this section about how Polgara hadn't seen Belgarath in a few centuries, and you have to stop and think.  What is it like to not see someone for two centuries?  What do you say when you finally meet up?  According to Polgara, this is what you say:

"Well, Old Wolf, what have you been up to?" 
"Not too much, Pol."

Part 5: Geran
Vo Wacune falls at the beginning of this section.  Ontrose eventually dies in battle.  Finally done with Arendia.

See, I can flippantly disregard decades with a few sentences too!

The book picks up soon after.  The Rivan King, Gorek, and his family is assassinated by the Nyissans - all except their youngest son, Geran, one of many in the line named Geran.  Polgara and Belgarath rescue him and she becomes the guardian of the line, protecting them until the Godslayer comes.  They spend time at her Erat estate and then begins the long wait... moving around to various places in Sendaria and the Alorn Kingdoms.  Our old pal Chamdar (Asharak, whom Garion killed in Queen of Sorcery) pops up from time to time.

I've always wondered, why not just hide in Cherek from the start?  It's not easy for Angaraks to go to any of the Alorn Kingdoms; the line would be pretty safe.  Polgara does move them to Cherek and Drasnia and Algaria later, but I've never understood that.  I know they had to move because Polgara never ages and people would wonder... but still.

Also, working in the realm of prophecy... why should they be worried?  Countless times do the Angaraks try to end the line or this or that, and it never works.  Why would the prophecies be created if they weren't going to be fulfilled?  Prophecy can be a mess sometimes.

Part 6: Vo Mimbre
Pretty obvious what this section covers.  We don't learn a whole lot more than we knew before.  At this point you should know the story of Vo Mimbre.  Especially since there will be a test later.

We actually get to see Torak in this section, though, which is cool, since you rarely get to see him at all in the series.

Part 7: Annath
This last section deals strictly with the Rivan line and the birth of Garion.  Annath is the town he was born in, where Polgara moved his grandfather, a stonecutter.  It's a good section and probably the best of the book.  Despite knowing how it ends, it's nice to see it finally fit together.

There is a really good part at the beginning of this, though.  It's about Gelane, one of the Rivan line.  He survived Vo Mimbre in the Algarian Stronghold and he knew who he was from an early age.  He never seemed content to be just a normal person and later gets involved with the Bear Cult.

It's a welcome change from the constant descendants that simply accept everything and lead normal lives.  As I was reading, I wondered why weren't more upset that they had to hide?  What if one of them did not want what Polgara wanted, i.e. to take up a simple trade and live in obscurity.  Gelane is the closest we get to that, but I wanted more.  How would she have dealt with someone who was apathetic and totally resistant to what she wanted?  Would have been a cool dynamic.

Other Notes
Just a few things I want to comment on before wrapping this up.

At a point in the Vo Mimbre section, I believe, Poledra tells Polgara that the Events and Meetings all come down to simple choices.  I'm pretty sure that in the Malloreon, they didn't know this until they visit the Seers at Kell.  I remember Belgarath or Beldin remarking that every Meeting between the Child of Light and Child of Dark probably had a Seer lurking around somewhere making a Choice.  But I could be wrong.

Towards the end of the book, Alara is devastated by her son Darral's death (Darral is Garion's real grandfather) and goes mad.  Ildera (Garion's mother) asks why Polgara can't just fix it with, you know... waves hand about.  Polgara says the mind is complicated and it doesn't work that way.  And yet... earlier in this book she's erasing memories from people for various reasons.  Poledra actually teaches her how to do this.  Um, okay.

There's more confirmation about the concept that everything is stuck in a loop until the Mistake is corrected.  Polgara comments on this in regards to Brand.  And that probably had something to do with the "ordinariness" of the males in the Rivan line that she protected.  Just keep chugging along, status quo, until it's fixed.

A final note about the line of Rivan Kings.  It would be strange to live for so long and see the line come and go.  Protecting them, keeping it secret, waiting for the Godslayer to come.  Eddings could have made this more tragic than it turned out to be.  Polgara often left to do other tasks, so she had breaks here and there, and she rarely seemed to get close to anyone after Ontrose.  She does get upset on occasion, but I would have liked to have seen her get really close to a few and be very devastated when they died, have her question why she has to go through this, etc... there's not much of that.  It's something I feel is lacking in the book.

The Final Entry
Alright.  It seems it will have taken me about 3 years to finish this Eddings retrospectives.  That's too long.  But good things come to those who wait, right?

The final entry I will blog about is The Rivan Codex.  It's a mix of non-fiction and background notes for the entire series.  I've never read it before, so am looking forward to it.  Reviews seem generally positive.

Wish me luck!


Reference - The Rivan Codex


Related Works
Novel - Belgarath the Sorcerer

The Malloreon
Book 5 - The Seeress of Kell
Book 4 - Sorceress of Darshiva
Book 3 - Demon Lord of Karanda
Book 2 - King of the Murgos
Book 1 - Guardians of the West

The Belgariad
Book 5 - Enchanter's End Game
Book 4 - Castle of Wizardry
Book 3 - Magician's Gambit
Book 2 - Queen of Sorcery
Book 1 - Pawn of Prophecy

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review [PS3] Red Faction: Armageddon

Genre: FPS
Gameplay Hours: 8-10 for a single playthrough, 10-20 for platinum
Rating: 7
Availability: Retail disc / Digital download

So on the website I'm the Admin for (, we have a feature called Custom Lists, where each staff member creates a 30 trophy list using trophies they've acquired from any game.  If others complete your list they get a site award.  These can be somewhat daunting and if you don't play everything that comes out, it typically involves acquiring at least 15 or more games, which turns into an online scavenger hunt to find the best deal... because who spends $10 or more on a game these days, right?

Anyway, I decided to complete one of these lists (Terminator's Journey to Salvation), as I already had 10 of the trophies and over half the games to start with.  Red Faction: Armageddon was one that I needed, and when I saw a brand new copy at Wal-Mart for only $8, I snapped it up.

I knew virtually nothing about the Red Faction franchise before starting this, only that it's science fiction and set on Mars.  The trophy needed for the list required me to beat the game, so I was hoping I'd enjoy it.  And I did.

Now I've heard that this one isn't as good as other installments in the franchise (this is the fourth after Red Faction, Red Faction II and Red Faction: Guerrilla), but not having any prior experience to judge against, I really enjoyed it.  The unique gameplay element is the ability to repair the environment using a tool called the Nano Forge.  It also gives you some cool powers, such as throwing a shockwave, which kills enemies and destroys the environment.  So sometimes you'll destroy the staircases when fighting enemies, then you have to fix them before continuing on.  That element makes for a bit of fun and caught my attention more than the traditional shooter would.

Mason repairing the environment

Later on, once you've upgraded the Nano Forge, it starts to make the game a tad bit easy.  Coupled with the Magnet Gun, which doesn't use ammo (unlimited use) and is super fun to use, you'll blow through the second half of the game.  There was maybe one spot early on I actually had trouble with.

I played it on normal difficulty, since that's all that was required to get the trophy I was aiming for.  However, I did some prep in terms of grinding for salvage (essentially credits you buy upgrades with), so I could do another run on the hardest difficulty (Insane), if I so desired.  There are a few cheats that will make it stupid easy.  I enjoyed it enough that I might do that... but not at the moment.  I've got plenty of other things to play.

I definitely got my money out of this one, though.  Overall this was a good, entertaining game, though the story felt too much like Dead Space to me.  The aliens were essentially necromorphs and the seal the main character (Mason) opened looked very similar to the Marker.

See?  Necromorphs.