New Super Mario Bros. Wii

VANCE VLEKLEI travels with Kyle in KYLE’S MAGNIFICENT SCHEME (AND THE TROUBLE IT CAUSES). Though most of the time he considers himself to be Kyle’s friend, sometimes he wonders how he allows himself to be pulled into so many crazy situations. Vance is an avid video game fan and has authored several game walkthroughs on the Internet.

Well, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach once again, and it’s up to Mario (you) to save her. This is the second in Nintendo’s series of “New” Super Mario games and the first to come out on Wii (the other was for DS). This series is part of the “retro” fad we’ve been seeing a lot of—in everything from toys to sports teams—and hearkens back to Mario’s early days, especially NES’s Super Mario Bros. 3. It is a side-scrolling (or 2D) adventure. In between each level you go to a map where you can chose your next world or play games for power ups. The traditional fireballs are back as always, along with the mini-mushroom the DS version introduced. 3 new abilities also appear: ice power, the propeller hat, and the penguin suit (think frog suit in Mario 3 with sliding instead of hopping and ice power).

The game can be quite a challenge, even for skilled players, though, unlike in the NES games, you can save your progress. The best part of the game is probably its multiplayer capabilities—up to 4 people can play at the same time. I even convinced Kyle to try it with me, and though he got upset and quit partway through the first world, I was able to carry his character (he insisted on being Mario) to the finish.

That's me carrying Kyle to the finish of the first world

Playing with friends has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that if you die, as long as your partner stays alive you’ll come back in a bubble and won’t have to start the level over. The disadvantage—and this is a big one—is that you can easily knock your companions off cliffs or into enemies, and if you don’t stay together those who lag behind and fall off the screen will die. As I learned when I played with some gaming buddies, this is a game that can easily lead to arguments, screaming, and even blows if taken too seriously.

The story certainly doesn’t get any points for creativity, but it is faithful to the Mario tradition. You work your way through the worlds, defeating bosses, until you get to Bowser’s castle and finally get the chance to save the princess. Each time I beat a castle I can’t help wondering why Mario, famed jumper, doesn’t just hop aboard that airship after Baby Bowser and save the princess right then and there. I guess he likes the quest as much as the reward.

Come on, Mario--jump up there!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii isn’t simply a chance to reminisce back to the old days of the platform, though it does that quite successfully. It offers a new playing experience that will satisfy those who’ve played games their whole lives and those who are just picking up a controller for the first time. Any Mario fan will enjoy it despite their skill level.

The Block Castle

CODY IPSUM is five years old and is in my manuscript THE HOLLYWOOD EFFECT. He starred in a movie with his big sister, VALERIE IPSUM. Cody and Valerie both had a lot of fun doing it, though Valerie doesn’t care for the attention her role has brought her, and she wants to live a normal life. Valerie helps Cody make his posts.

“What is green and jumps a lot?”
A frog with hiccups

I made that joke. Valerie helped—she did the hiccups part. I like telling jokes because they’re funny. Everyone laughs different, and I like to see them laugh.

At my school we laugh a lot. My friends Jase and Catalina made a big castle with me. We used all the blocks to make it. The trick to keep a castle from falling down is to put all the big blocks on the bottom. Sometimes you can put a little piece down there, but when it starts to wobble watch out!

Don’t build a castle when Nick is around—he’ll knock it down. And don’t make one after Miss Delmany tells you it’s almost quiet time because she’ll make you put it away even if it’s not done. But yesterday me and Jase and Catalina made the biggest one ever. I let Catalina put the last piece on top because she’s nice and Daddy told me to be nice to girls.

Miss Delmany took a picture and everything. She let me look at the picture on the camera. Jase had his eyes shut, but me and Catalina were smiling. Miss Delmany said she’d give a copy to my mommy to keep. Mommy can put it in her big scraps book. She said it’s all about me, but I’m not allowed to see it until it’s all done. She showed me some pictures in it, though. There’s one from when I was born. I didn’t have any hair in it, but I was smiling. Valerie says I always smiled when I was a baby. I guess that’s why I like to see other people smile now.

Why the Government Loves Natural Disasters

KYLE SINGLETON, from my book KYLE’S MAGNIFICENT SCHEME (AND THE TROUBLE IT CAUSES), has many strong opinions. The one that is strongest, though, depends on his mood. He travels around, causing and joining in fights, always trying to enact a scheme that will make him famous (or infamous) throughout the world.

*Kyle’s views do not represent my own—in fact, I find his ideas quite ridiculous—but entertaining.

I wish to point out and highlight several times that I am not a tree-hugging, animal-squeezing, plant-eating eco-freak. I don’t give a damn what happens to dear Mother Earth. If the world wants to stay alive, it has to fight just like anyone else. And it does fight—with hurricanes, floods, drought, and earthquakes. At this point, to keep humans from succeeding in destroying it, it will probably have to fight a lot harder.

Of course, we certainly shouldn’t let it push us around. We (at least those of us with some ounce of intelligence) have the power in this relationship. At this point in the development of the world, nature should not be invading or attacking our homes or workplaces. Engineers and scientists should have gotten together and created structures capable of withstanding whatever it throws at us. At first the cost of materials and construction for such structures will be too expensive for the general population, but new, economical manufacturing processes will be developed as demand rises, and more efficient construction methods will go into effect. In time this will become the standard for new buildings just as carrying a cell phone has become standard for everyone from preteens to grandmas.

If someone had just gotten to work on this years ago we’d all be sitting in our super-safe homes right now, watching news about political scandals and celebrities gone awry instead of yet another special presentation about whole cities crumbling or being washed away and hearing the same tales of woe over and over—which reminds me how glad I am that I don’t watch news.

So why hasn’t this happened? Partly because the public is more interested in crap like 3D TVs and robot hamsters than anything that would be good for them, but mostly because governments, who would have to fund this enterprise, don’t want these buildings to happen. I know this sounds ridiculous—why wouldn’t a leader of the people want to do everything possible to protect his or her citizens?

Simple. Because natural disasters make a leader look good. Governments—especially elected governments—are very needy and insecure. They need people to like them so they can stay in power. The real reason they’re always taking polls and voting is because they can’t make a decision without having someone else to share the blame for it. A natural disaster isn’t caused by anything a government did wrong, but if handled correctly it can boost a reputation immensely when it’s time to send aid. How hard is it to stand up looking sympathetic and promise food, money, soldiers, or whatever else is necessary to make everything better? Other people are responsible for putting those words in action—they can take the blame if it all doesn’t get there as promised. Only a moron could screw this up.

During a disaster other issues and wars are pushed aside for a while and everyone gets to join together singing songs and pretending to love each other. That’s why governments love natural disasters and why we will never live in houses that truly keep us safe.

A Friendly Music Debate

AMBER HARTWELL costars in my manuscript THE PARTIAL GARDEN with Dustin. She learned the hard way what can result from risk-taking, and now she’s stuck in a wheelchair, but she remains upbeat and can’t wait for a new adventure. She loves songs with catchy melodies she can sing along to.

MARK PUMPHREY appears in my manuscript SNALE’S SLIMY TALE, which is about a young woman’s attempt to make sense of her life and save her small town Snale at the same time. He’s independent and doesn’t like to be told what to do. Mark listens to music he can scream to and loves angry guitar solos.

Today Amber and Mark are discussing the music I make them listen to while I write. (This post has some mild language.)

AMBER: In general, I enjoy the music she listens to.

MARK: You do? –I do, of course. I was made in her music image. But you seem more of a pop fan.

A: I like pop because it’s popular—therefore catchy—and you were not made in “her music image.” You may represent her angry side, but from what I’ve heard she has much broader tastes than what you break your speakers with.

M: Okay, whatever. What’d she listen to when she was writing your book?

A: A lot of Incubus, and Panic! at the Disco. The majority of it is very catchy.

M: For mine it was mostly AFI and Avril—and some classical.

A: See—there’s a spectrum.

M: I’m just glad she was done with Evanescence for mine. It would have made my book depressing.

A: You think the music inspires the book’s style?

M: Hell, yeah. That’s why my scenes were so rockin’ awesome.

A: True—you do act like an immature teenage boy instead of an adult man—just like the so-called musicians in those whiny punk bands.

M: Hey!

A: The music helps her write with more energy, but I wish she’d lay off the screaming and the punk she’s been listening to lately. It gives me a headache.

M: Maybe she should—then maybe you wouldn’t be such a bitch.

A: I’d rather be a bitch than return to my teenage years any day.

M: Yeah—I can tell you really enjoy it.

A: Anyway, she can listen to whatever works. I’m sure your immaturity was an excellent character trait.

M: Of course—I was the best character in the book.

A: Let’s move on. So, of all the songs she listened to this year, which one was your favorite?

M: Hmm, I’d have to go with  “Re-Education (Through Labor)” by Rise Against with AFI’s “Medicate” a close second. How about you?

A: “Open Happiness” by Brendon Urie, Cee-Lo Green, Janelle Monae, Patrick Stump & Travis McCoy.

M: The song from the Coke commercials? That doesn’t count.

A: It does count—she listens to it. But I’ll still pick another. “Admiration” by Incubus, then.

M: I guess your taste in music isn’t all bad.

A: Thanks, though I’m afraid I can’t say the same about yours. That’s all for now—enjoy your music, whatever type it is!

New Year’s Resolution

DUSTIN RAMBLE hails from my manuscript THE PARTIAL GARDEN. He tells the truth as he sees it, often bluntly, though in his book he’ll find himself in a world where the truth is completely relative and reality changes by the second.

Now’s the time for making our New Year’s resolutions. Usually I don’t see the point because they’ll most likely be broken before the week is out. I see change as a process—nothing that’s going to happen overnight—even in those seconds as the big ball drops. All the same, 2010 could be the year for making a fresh start. So, despite my skepticism, I’m hoping for something better like everyone else, and I made my New Year’s resolution—actually I made a list of them in hopes that at least one will stick. Here goes:

  1. Can you resolve to grow a few inches taller? I wish. I’ll just resolve to not gain any inches of fat.
  2. To take a trip with Habitat for Humanity, preferably far, far away. (Okay, this one’s a gimmie—I do this every year.)
  3. More involvement in church—hopefully in an area where I won’t be forced to deal with my friend Cal’s wife.
  4. Find a way to keep work from being so mind-numbingly boring. (My boss won’t be reading this, right?) I don’t have much hope for this one. Work isn’t supposed to be fun—that’s why it’s called work.
  5. Do a better job getting along with my younger brother even though he’s selfish, irresponsible, and generally acts like a moron. Actually, I think I should resolve to see him as little as possible.
  6. Finally, relationships—I suppose at 30 I should resolve to find a girl to settle down with, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Just look at my track record.

Well, some of them are doable, but that’s just because I didn’t set the bar very high. I guess I know my own limitations too well. Anyway, I hope everyone out there has a happy New Year and that you are able to keep your resolutions—be the exception! I guess I should get back to work now. Those reports won’t write themselves.

What Is Character Splash?

On this, my first blog post, I thought I’d introduce myself, along with explain what I’ll be putting up in the weeks to come—my plans for this blog.

My name is Emily Marchman. I’m 27 years old, and my paying job is teaching and assisting wherever necessary at a very nice preschool in Cincinnati, Ohio. Though I have a lot of fun there, my true love is writing—adult novels—no children’s books at this point except for gifts for friends with babies, though I certainly won’t rule that out as I write where inspiration leads.

Those who knew me in high school probably remember me as creative and weird, making up a few too many stories about aliens. So far, though, none of my 5 finished novel manuscripts are about aliens (the 6th in my head also features no aliens). They range from mainstream to fantasy, and I think the only bond between them is that they’re quirky.

As for my publishing credits…I have none, yet. I’ve been a bit timid in my submissions up to this point, unsure of my work and whether anyone else would see these stories that I love so much as something anyone else would want to read.

With my latest work and the praise it’s received already, along with another of my books (the fantasy) becoming a finalist in a publisher’s manuscript competition, my attitude has changed. I’m charged up and ready to rush ahead at full speed.

This blog is meant to support my work and my endeavors (and hopefully find readers who enjoy what I offer). It is going to be a little out of the ordinary—as most things I do are. Actually, the idea of writing about myself and spouting off my opinions doesn’t appeal to me at all, and in fact bores me a little. I don’t mind reading nonfiction or editing it, but I can’t stand writing it—even creative nonfiction. So I’m taking a risk. Most of my posts will be from “guest bloggers” who are actually my own characters.

Hopefully this will be a way to endear my characters to readers and provide extra insight into their lives and stories. It will also be a helpful writing exercise for me—so even if no one reads this I’ll get some use out of it. Don’t worry—there won’t be any plot spoilers!

Most of all, I hope to entertain you and make this a pleasant place to waste a little time.