Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Songs: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP - Under a Tree

Sorry about the delay - having immense sleep weirdness this long weekend, and been struggling to come up with blog stuff. I have a plan now though, so it'll all be okay!
The S:S&S EP soundtrack, by Jim Guthrie, is a work of art. It is played out like the rest of the game, as a retro-inspired piece that embraces a new world of technology. It is calm and quiet and delicate and fulfills the ultimate task any soundtrack ever would want to: it is at the same time utterly entwined in the game it is in, enhancing both by being there, but also perfectly capable of standing on its own two feet very strongly.
I reviewed S:S&S EP earlier this year! I also used an S:S&S EP song for Midsummer Songaday! But I really wanted to use more.

Jim Guthrie in general is a damn good musician. Watching Indie Game: The Movie, I was watching and listening and thinking "this is really good music on this great movie! It feels familiar somehow though..." and about a half hour later it hits me that I read about it being Guthie's and everything made sense.

Also, having it on Android thanks to the latest Humble Bundle? SO NICE.

Superbrothers Website
My Review of S:S&S EP
Midsummer Songaday Day 7
Dark Flute
Lone Star
The Prettiest Weed
Unknowable Geometry
The Prettiest Remix
The Whirling Infinite
Battles 1
Battles 2
Confronting the Wolf
Activating Trigons

Sing a Song of Sworcery, friends.
End Recording,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Art: Pencil & Charcoal Monk

Gettin' over the sick, so hey, time to post something. Oh yeah, and happy Thanksgiving.
Music unrelated - I'm not a big Tori Amos fan by any means, but I enjoy this song at least.

So, what do I have? Well, art I guess!

Normally I would just leave these to be tweeted instead since they started as just a practice piece and doesn't actually have any direction. However, since these can almost be relevant to The Monk playbook for Avatar World, they're worthy of being posted here.

So, here's the pencil piece!
Click for Full Size.
I have another variation on this guy, perhaps showing off the exact contrast of the white/grey/black better. Plus I think it looks cool.
So it's done with entirely with a mechanical pencil on a regular sheet of printer paper. It was my doodle in a particularly boring Bio lecture. I'm not so proud of the hands, but I really like the robes, and the expression on the face was pretty good for me.
I did it at all as an attempt to learn some of the ways the saffron robes of Tibetan monks flow. Here's the reference picture I used.
 Scrounged off Google images. If you can't tell, this is the third guy, with modification - just the robes were modeled off him.

I said charcoal too, right? This was done later, since I simply can't bring my charcoal places - it makes a huge mess.
Just thought someone might be interested in seeing my charcoal itself. That's what I use, and the dust, and the smudging, gets everywhere on my hands, even with the stick wrapped.
 Please ignore the amazingly disturbing face. That charcoal doesn't have the precision I need for small faces - keep in mind that this is about three inches tall, no larger. I'd like to TRY larger next though, I bet I could get more out of my charcoal that way. Anyway, aside from the face, I think this does some really great stuff with the robes, makes them appear very fluid and less, well, "line-y" than the pencil sketch. I think an ideal image, at this size, is a combination of the pencil for the fine details and initial shaping, with the charcoal producing the rich blacks and the smooth, smudged shading.

Likely neither of these will ACTUALLY be the art for The Monk in Avatar World, but they're definitely steps in the direction.

So there, have a post. Have a happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!
End Recording,

Monday, November 19, 2012

Random (Art-Related): Pixel Art Teaching
From SGX's album Wonderful Bite. It's a great album overall - check it out.

Hey there! Because I am sick and don't really feel like writing a full blog post on other stuff, I'm gonna cross-promote something else I'm doing cuz I'm workin' hard on it and maybe it helps you.

Are YOU an aspiring pixel artist? Do you have no spriting experience but are interested in getting into it? Maybe you have a fangame you'd just love to make but have no people to do art for it? Well, maybe I can help! I have several years pixel experience, and while I'm not exactly active in the pixel community (I need more inspiration :/) but I think I've got enough skill behind me to help out some aspiring new folks.

I was lookin' through my deviantArt messages a couple days ago, and one of the dudes I watch, MetalReaper, had posted a journal. One of the things MetalReaper posts pretty often is some really frickin' sweet realistic designs for various pokemon. In recent times though, he's taken to fakemon design, and is working on a fangame with another fella and is tryin' his hand at spriting! So today he posted his first attempts at spriting ever. I replied with an obscenely long reply that I think is really detailed on a lot of the basic components and processes we pixel artists use.

So hey, if you want a lesson on some pixel techniques, take a peek!

If you watch through the dialogue over the next while you could probably continue to learn some stuff. Anyway, that's it for today!
End Recording,

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Songs: Black Ops II Theme

So, sorry for taking until like 2pm to post, I have a wicked cold that has me flat on my back.

So, I never expected to be sitting here recommending a Call of Duty soundtrack. They tend to be bland and uneventful, even stuff like Zimmer & Balfe's Modern Warfare 2 soundtrack. But I have to mention this one as particularly good, because this time they picked a soundtrack team I can support from the bottom of my heart. Trent Reznor here composed the main theme, and if I hadn't said so beforehand, I really like Trent's soundtracking. Him and Atticus Ross did a stellar job on both The Social Network's soundtrack and the one for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I'm not the biggest NIN fan, but I certainly enjoy a bit of it, so I'm a fan of this guy.
But he only did the main theme. Most of the soundtrack is actually composed by one of my two favorite composers - Jack Wall, with help from several Wall of Sound members. In particular, I'm interested by Jimmy Hinson aka Big Giant Circles's participation, since I love his work too. He did amazing work on the song  Adrenaline. Another particular song I like is Alex and David by Jack Wall, which has a distinct Mass Effect 2 vibe to it. Also, Brian Tuey did a song called Shadows (Outer Club Solar) that is awesome.

Taken as a whole, the album has a sound extremely reminiscent of what would happen if you fused a Mass Effect soundtrack with an Uncharted one and a Metal Gear Solid one, and I'm pretty damn okay with that.

Alex and David
Savimbi's Pride
Flying Squirrels
Future Wars
Desert Ride
Sand and Camels
Nino Precioso (feat. Kamar de los Reyes)
Anthem (Tuey Remix)
DeFalco's Theme
The Invasion of Panama
Guerra Precioso
Adrenaline (Jimmy Hinson track)
Main Theme Orchestral Mix

End Recording,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Art: Charcoal Slenderman
Been enjoying the song today. Check the Music page, I think I have another Paramore song in there.

Hey there, finally got my phone camera to take a good pic - my scanner's busted, but I finally got a good looking set of pictures. Lighting in my room kinda sucks right now, I think we're using a bulb of slightly too low power, plus, well, phone camera.

Anyway, so let's start right off with the picture:
This is the largest capture I have - click it for full-size!
I've done a little photo-editing to try and recapture some of what the camera lost, which was primarily contrast and brightness. As such, some of the middle greys here are slightly lighter than drawn, and the lightest greys got pulled into the white. In general though, this is an accurate capture of the image.

So, a couple details. First, this is pretty obviously Slenderman. I'm not that huge of a fan of the whole little Slenderman mythos that's become so popular - I enjoy the basic original concept, but I'm not so sure why he's so popular. However, his basic structure, being a figure perfectly content in shades of grey, and being made up of large blocks of black and white without many particularly fine details, made him a perfect candidate for experimentation with the new medium this is done in: charcoal.
Well, okay, charcoal isn't new. It's just new for me, I'm not reinventing the wheel here LIKE THIS GAL DID (this is a cool thing on dA). This is still a new thing for me though - I've never worked with charcoal before, so it's been a great little learning experience. I've decided to try out a bunch of mediums looking for what I could use for some Avatar World art. I also want to learn the basics of a variety of the more traditional Asian artistic styles, at least those on paper/canvas. The primary things I want to mess with as well are watercolor painting, at least understand the basic tenets of ukiyo-e, and, probably the greatest after this charcoal work, ink wash painting (link).
I will admit that the nature of my charcoal stick had a bit of an issue - it didn't work great for a think shape I had to fill in since the filling-in process broke the lines. You can't see it really because I covered it up a bit. You can see the evidence: damn thick tentacles. I thought the tentacles wouldn't be so bad, but I was dead wrong - they were the worst by far. The smudging bugs me a bit cuz it gets my fingers all dirty, but II really like the effect. It did exactly what I wanted it to do for the face/head!

So hey, now that I've talked about the concepts and stuff, here, I'll show off some alternates. I'll just show off smaller versions, but I have larger versions of any of them if you'd like to see.
This is actually the base image, exactly as photographed, before ANY photo editing. I like keeping these around for knowledge.
This got my Posterize (aka color reduce) treatment, and was pretty accustomed to it. It''s less ethereal/misty, but some of the shapes are thus a bit more harsh and menacing. I like the tentacles a lot, but I definitely prefer the face of the base or contrast-shifted one.
This is the base image with the Despeckle filter over it. It smooths it over and it looks neat, but I think it loses a lot of what made the charcoal image so distinct.
Hey look, it looks like it could come straight out of tremulus! Okay, yeah, it's a Despeckle filter plus a Posterize. But it does look quite a bit like several of the tremulus pieces.

Anyway, I think that's all I've got for now. I'm gonna be goofing around more with the charcoal, and I certainly might not stop to post all of 'em. Gonna be makin' sure to post 'em up on Twitter though!
That should be all for now. If you have tips on using charcoal or on what you think is cool about various kinds of Asian art, help me out!
End Recording,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Schoolwork: Essay on Apache Place-Names and "Speaking The Past Into Being"
Rockin' the Sneaker Pimps tonight, when I'm not watching Soul Eater. I started watching that show because of its incredible ratings on Netflix, second only to FMA(:B), and how it keeps showing up on "Recommended For Me" lists. Now I know why - it's the EXACT same voice cast as FMA:B.  Seriously. Every single character was main in both. Soul Eater isn't nearly as cool, and it's got a pretty great amount of fanservice, but it's still pretty great. A good tideover before I go back to Deathnote and find Korra. Wait, I'm supposed to talk about the music here?

Well, I said I'd post the other essay today, didn't I? Far later than I expected to - I had friends over today, so I was distracted. We watched Chip & Ironicus's Anime Theater stuff, it was a day of laughter.
This essay is done not for my History of Early Modern Europe course, but instead for my Native American Religious Traditions course, which I don't think I've talked about on the blog. It's a pretty dang interesting class. We learned about the Yurok, then the Lakota, and this essay was the culmination of studying the Apache and their place-name concept. We studied this through the book Wisdom Sits in Places, by Keith H. Basso. We didn't do formal citations for anything because everything came out of the same book, which has page number citations along the way. Just making it clear where the stuff comes from since I don't have a formal citation set.

Here's the prompt:
What does Basso mean when he says that place-names "speak the past into being," (32)?
So here it is, double-spaced as I typed it. Enjoy - maybe you learn something, maybe you have something to add, maybe you tell me how I'm an idiot or bad at writing (hopefully with how to not be those things), I'd love to hear from you regardless.
Note: I'm providing this of my own volition for the general information of others. This is NOT to be used by others without citing me (if you're citing me, stop what you're doing and go buy the book and cite the appropriate areas of that).

            What is the primary value of history? Our understanding of the past has taken many paths through the course of human existence. One particular path, an older, now generally abandoned path, was that history is written to glorify specific parties, and often this stance on history involved shameless fabrication. Another path is the current path for the majority of Western civilization, and that is the path that history is the objective accounting of previous events and the order in which they occurred. This is the path that gave rise to the obsession with dates and time-lines and causality that runs rampant in modern history books. However, while widely accepted, there are yet other paths, such as the path taken by the native Western Apache. Their form of history doesn't involve dates or meticulous records, but is instead about stories and places. And this needn't be any less worthy than the history keeping of Western civilization – both use their understandings of past events to teach and inform the actions and morals of the contemporary civilization. For the Apache, it matters less when it happened, and more where it happened. The traditions of how to use history also differ, and that is where Keith H. Basso's research, compiled in his book Wisdom Sits In Places, becomes helpful to us. In the book, Basso makes it clear that to “speak the past into being” (32) is to embody the past in places, conjure images of these moments, and to make them relevant to everyday interaction.
            The most important idea to understand about the Apache concept of the past is that it is, without exception, tied to places. Places each have place-names, or specific descriptive imagery that are used to refer to that location. These place-names are vitally important, and the name a place is given will be passed down through history in order to signify that place. It isn't simply a reference to a location however, and misspeaking these names (or, at the very least, not caring to get the name correct) is quite a transgression. This is because to the Apache, you aren't simply reciting a name, but are “repeating the speech of our ancestors,” “actually quoting the speech of their early ancestors.” (10) The Apache have a tremendous amount of respect for their ancestors, and to show disrespect for the place-names granted by them is to show disrespect to the ancestors themselves. Common speech often uses an abbreviated form of these names, but when speaking formally, such as when speaking with names, the full name is used completely and properly. (90) These place-names are descriptive of the location, with some examples being “Circular Clearing With Slender Cottonwood Trees” (23) or “Big Willow Stands Alone” (135), being indicators not only to mark a place as unique but also to place one in the same place as their ancestors, marking out what was important about a given scene. Sometimes, these place-names no longer even represent what the location looks like (such as Snakes' Water, which now entirely lacks for water), giving the modern Apache a sense of what has changed over the years, or showing “what is different, and what is still the same,” (16) a function similar to Western notions of history. Places become not only the location where events happened or people lived. No, the place actually becomes representative of the event itself. Often, merely mentioning a place-name is enough to remind a person of the event itself, without further guidance for when this event occurred or who it is about. This is especially true of speaking with names, a tradition that would be impossible without this correlation between place and past. (82-83)
            Now, understanding that places and the past are inseparably intertwined in Apache culture, the most direct means of speaking the past into being is to narrate and construct what Basso refers to as a “place-world.” (11) Apache historians such as Charles Henry are experts at using narration and description to extrapolate beyond simply a place-name or a small story attached to it and paint a world and situation in which the location, emotions, and intentions of the naming ancestors become clear. Three of the early stories in the book especially demonstrate these things. At Water Lies With Mud In An Open Container, Charles paints his first scene, using what he sees, hears, and can gather from the area about the past (“historical materials, sometimes called 'footprints' or 'tracks' that have survived into the present” (31)) to evoke the feeling that Basso expresses to Morley, “'It's like we were there, watching them when they came!'” (13). In this simplest of ways, the place (and thus the past as well) was made real, understood and seen by those present. The place, and the past, was spoken into being. Another story, Snakes' Water, shows us through the narration the intentions and motives of the ancestors, the respect and fear they felt toward the pool's snake guardians, the importance of Water to them, and the way they considered locations to have guardians to interact with. All this could be interpreted through Charles's interpretation and narration of the historical materials present, despite there being no snakes, guardians, or water present any longer. (14-15) However, conjuration of imagery in order to recall places is only one function of speaking the past. Place-names are established for several reasons, and being very explicitly descriptive is the usual purpose when deciding the name, but another common way to name a place is to commemorate an event that occurred there. Places named commemoratively are done so to  mark “some sad or tragic event from which valuable lessons can be readily drawn and taken fast to heart.” (28) The early story Charles uses to display this is the last full story Basso relays from Charles, and is about a place called Shades of Shit. While only a small story exists about Shades of Shit, Charles uses his expertise to expand and create a full narrative of the event, vivid especially in the emotions of the participating ancestors – the ignorant family, the perceived greed, the fury of the relatives. (25-27) This story, and commemorative stories in general, are not only indicators of what happened, but are meant as lessons. By speaking this particular place into being, the past becomes not only an instance in history to be remembered, but a haunting memory that disquiets and unsettles all those who know the story whenever they pass by Shades of Shit. Seeing the place, or even just hearing its name, is enough to make the Apache think about what happened there and the lesson they should keep in mind. (28)
            That leads into another point: why do it? It is not as if all Apache go around drawing up place-worlds and describing everywhere – sure, the historians help by doing so when necessary, but if that was all then they'd either be a cultural footnote or nothing would ever get done, and neither of those are true. Place-names play a very active role in society, and they do so by communities using them to make points and communicate. The primary mechanisms for these are “stalking with stories” (37) and “speaking with names.” (71) Stalking with stories has several parts, all of which are relevant to the idea of speaking the past into being. One is considered to be stalked by a story when it plays at their mind, when the story (and the place attached to the story, as all stories are attached to places) works its way into their mind and becomes an eternal reminder of a past mistake. If you had exhibited greed to your relatives, hoarding food or money or some other resource when they had little, perhaps you pass by Shades of Shit and remember the story. It works on you, and you're impacted by it. Perhaps the story makes you feel afraid of their retribution, or guilty for your behavior, but regardless, it sticks with you. Regardless of what you do, that story haunts you – you become the greedy people of the story, and you won't ever forget what you did, because Shades of Shit is always right there, reminding you of the story and what you did. This is an example of being stalked by a story and a place brought on by yourself. But more often than being self-inflicted, being stalked by the land is a social mechanism. Shades of Shit is both a place-name, commemorative of the event, but also a “historical tale,” a story intended “to criticize social delinquents,... thereby impressing these individuals with the undesirability of improper behavior and alerting them to the punitive consequences of further misconduct.” (50) When you have behaved poorly, in disagreement with social conventions, someone might begin telling a story. Who it is doesn't matter – anyone can “shoot” you with a story. (58) They do not name you, and they do not elaborate on the story's connection to you, but the story is an allegorical tale that places your actions in line with those of the wrong-doer in the story.  Now you've been called out on your misbehavior – you're ashamed, and already thinking about your misdeeds. Perhaps this is even the first you know that what you did was wrong, but there's no mistake now. That story's in your head now. Maybe you fix your issues, but that story isn't ever going to leave you alone – it's tied a place, just like every story. Now, whenever you see that place, whenever you hear its place-name, the memory of what you did will come back to you. In this way, it becomes a guideline on your morals. You'll never be able to forget that you did that wrong, and you won't do that wrong again. (58-59) In this way, the land, and the past tied to it, comes alive, brought into being and relevance through the spoken customs of the Apache.
            The other major way that the past and the places it is tied to can be dragged forth into life and modern relevance, and that is through “speaking with names.” (71) The idea is best illustrated by a conversation Basso witnessed in which the participants spoke not with standard speech but with ritual phrases surrounding place names (in the format of “It happened at [Place-Name], at this very place!”). (79) As it is later explained to Basso, the phrases are part of a tradition known as speaking with names, in which place-names (and the histories associated with them) that everyone involved would know are used as a way to condense down a much larger amount of speech. In this conversation, when Lola invokes Line Of White Rocks Extends Up And Out, all those present (save for Basso himself, who is informed of the meaning later) understood the image that Lola was conjuring. Through speaking with names, Lola and Emily “gave that woman pictures to work on in her mind...So her mind went to those places, standing in front of them as our ancestors did long ago. That way she could see what happened there long ago. She could hear stories in her mind, perhaps hear our ancestors speaking. She coul recall the knowledge of our ancestors.” (83) The past was brought into being, into relevance, through the place-names being spoken as short-hand. The speaking made the places real, and by making the places real, Lola and Emily were able to help Louise through unhappiness. While historical tales and stalking with stories are exclusively used to point out social misdoing, speaking with names is a way to help raise spirits. In the final chapter, Charles Cromwell, Dudley, and Sam use a similar but less ritualized form of speaking with names (lacking the same ritual phrases but with the same general purpose) to raise the spirits of a shamed Talbert. (113) They used the names to remind Talbert of the “merits of wisdom” (115) but at the same time, having placed their light-hearted ribbing firmly in the past tense, were recognizing that he was already doing better. (116-117) There are few (and infrequent) circumstances where the highly ritualized form of speaking with names is applicable (such as when “speaking of absent parties to persons closely connected to them” who must be approached “with delicacy and tact.”) (91), but when less ritualized, as in the case concerning Talbert, it seems to be more common to use place-names for their implications in general speech.
            The Apache speak the past into being every day, through narration, storytelling, stalking, being stalked, speaking with names, and in general keeping a collective conscious memory of where things happened. By speaking about places, the past comes alive. Apache speak in place-names to evoke images, to remind of stories and historical tales, to reinforce moral values, to converse in delicate situations, to offer sentiment or advice, and to heal wounded spirits, (100) and none of these things would be possible if those same place-names didn't embody the the past itself. By placing history into locations and binding the two together, the past is able to be spoken and made relevant to the everyday life of the Apache.

I gotta say, I'm proud of this one. I really learned a lot from this book, and I really enjoyed the ideas. I hope you learn something cool or interesting or new!
End Recording,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Apocalypse World: Front 3, The Reborn
I love Massive Attack, particularly the albums Mezzanine and 100th Window. Mezzanine gets more air play, especially Angel and Teardrop (both in its own right and as the song in the House theme). I think 100th Window is also a really great album though, and it gets far less publicity. What Your Soul Sings, Special Cases, Antistar, it's a great album.

This front is...slightly less formed. I don't really like running, or at least writing, countdown clocks. The first four of these threats have all appeared in the game. The last one has NOT. And the inclusion of that last one on top of the others makes this everything I could want from a front. I'll be sad to see Rex or PURITY go, but, well, Look Through Crosshairs. They're sure as hell gonna put up a fight before they go though.

Is Called: The Reborn
Expresses: Zealousy and Technophilia
Dark Future/Agenda: Complete domination of the settlement, followed by PURITY taking control.
Description & Cast: Rex is the head of the public face of the Reborn, with Mech as his second. Behind the scenes, PURITY is in mental control of everyone to some degree, though often individuals are left to their own devices. They live in The Salvage Yard and their home base is Repair. They have a tenuous alliance with Warlord Usimog and his Nuzulu tribe, with each thinking they are in control of the other - in truth, they both defeat each other, with the Nuzulu having the brute strength and firepower to win in a fair fight. Rex would never fight fair though.
Stakes Questions: * Will Rex convince any of the PCs to accept an implant?
* Will the group find out about PURITY or her control? Will Usimog?
* Will Rex take over the settlement?

Is Called: Rex
Kind: Warlord - Prophet
Impulse: To denounce & overthrow.
Description & Cast: Rex is the sole leader of the tech-cult known as the Reborn. His right arm is entirely mechanical, as are his eyes, which are solid black and have a distinctive 3-point glowing yellow iris. (I might upload a pic later, I have it drawn but it's a rough doodle). He's charismatic and smart, but he speaks with intent to convert people to the Reborn by replacing parts with cybernetics. He has plans for the settlement, but what they are have yet to be determined.
Custom Move: When you struggle with Rex's arm, roll+Hard. On a 10+, you succeed agaist it! On a 7-9, choose one of the following:
* You beat it.
* It doesn't slice you up.
* You aren't left vulnerable to his minions.

Is Called: The Salvage Yard
Kind: Landscape - Maze
Impulse: To trap, to frustrate passage.
Description & Cast: The Salvage Yard is the home base of Rex and his Reborn. A genuine salvage yard, it's filled with huge heaps of junk that act as hills and turn the place into a natural maze. The Reborn know the place like the back of their hands, but getting anywhere in there isn't easy. There's treasure hidden in the piles though...
Custom Move: When you Read A Sitch in the Salvage Yard, add the following questions: * Where is Repair?
* How do I get out?
* Find something in the heaps.

Is Called: The Reborn
Kind: Brutes - Cult
Impulse: To victimize and incorporate.
Description & Cast: The cultists themselves are enthralled by Rex through their cybernetics. Each cultist has at least one, of varying levels of sophistication and form. None of them are quite as extraordinarily advanced as Rex's arm, but there's a good deal of advanced tech in the bunch, even a couple pairs of cybereyes.
Custom Move: When you Manipulate or Read a Reborn, roll+Weird instead.
Custom Move: When you loot a Reborn corpse, roll+Sharp. On a 10+, you find a hi-tech piece of implanted gear. On a 7-9, pick from useless tech, dangerous tech, worthless tech, or destroyed tech.

Is Called: Repair
Kind: Landscape - Breeding Pit
Impulse: To generate badness.
Description & Cast: Repair is a work shop, situated somewhere in the middle of the Salvage Yard. Inside are a variety of things, including a large workbench covered in tech, a bloody operation table, and, most significantly, a wall covered in the only working computers in the area. Rex has been using them and communing with them, and seems to be guided by it somewhat. The place is full of fumes. The resident tech and second-most important member of the entire cult is Mech. Mech is pretty crazy, and none of his tech is obvious, but he's actually skilled with surgery and implantation.
Custom Move: When you perform strenuous action in repair, Act Under Fire. On a 7-9, Open Your Brain about the Reborn.
Side note: Triggered this in the session! It generated my favorite spur-of-the-moment idea of the night.

...threat five... called...P.U.R.I.T.Y. a...grotesque...a mindfucker...
...who craves mastery...
...a ghost of the past, of the war that brought about the Golden Age. She's no human though, but an AI, alive and thriving in the supercomputer network underneath the Salvage Yard and accessible through Repair. PURITY is partially corrupted, and is obsessed with increasing its spread - which it achieves through networking itself into more cybernetic parts. It's been stringing Rex along with its siren call of a world made perfect through technology - Rex genuinely believes he's doing the right thing. PURITY? No such delusions. She wants to ensure piece by controlling everything, and she has her eyes on the settlement. Only in the caves beneath Repair can she manifest in her hologram form, that of a blue-ish female form with glowing yellow triangular eyes.
...and here you thought REX was charismatic. Whenever PURITY asks you to do something you'd really rather not do, and you do, mark XP. Refusing her means you need to Act Under Fire, with the fire being "does your refusal cause her to explode in rage?" - she doesn't take losing well.

Hope you enjoy them, and I hope you'll hear about their scheming soon! (meaning I really need to write AW AP3).
End Recording,

Schoolwork: Essay on the German Peasant's War of 1525 and Martin Luther's Response
I love the inMomentum soundtrack. It was also the soundtrack to my writing, so that's why it's relevant. This song is a great one, along with things like introMentum, Flux, and Zoned In.

So, considering the general success that was my previous essay here (which, by the way, got a 94%!), I figured I'll upload another essay. And then another tomorrow, because I had to write TWO yesterday.
This one is for my History of Early Modern Europe course again, which moved from the Renaissance into its Reformation stage. This essay is based upon three documents: the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants, Martin Luther's Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants, and Martin Luther's Concerning Governmental Authority. All of these were contained within a collection book called The Protestant Reformation, edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand.
The  prompt was:

The Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants (1525) uses many of Luther’s evangelical slogans in its list of grievances, yet Luther strongly rejected the demands of the German peasants and criticized their activities during the Peasant’s War.  What were the grievances of the German peasants and why did Luther reject them so strongly?

In addition to the text of the Twelve Articles, you should include a discussion of at least two (2) of the following three treatises from the Hillerbrand reader in your answer:  Luther’s Concerning Governmental Authority, Luther’s Friendly Admonition to Peace, Luther’s Freedom of a Christian. You may want to begin with a discussion of Luther’s writings, or present them after you have explained major peasant grievances. Be sure to comment on areas of agreement and disagreement (conflicting evidence and opinions) among the texts that you use.
So here it is, double-spaced as I typed it. Enjoy - maybe you learn something, maybe you have something to add, maybe you tell me how I'm an idiot or bad at writing (hopefully with how to not be those things), I'd love to hear from you regardless.
Note: I'm providing this of my own volition for the general information of others. This is NOT to be used by others without citing me (if you're citing me, stop what you're doing and go buy the book and cite the appropriate areas of that).

HIST260 – Essay 2, Protestant Reformation
            In the years leading up to 1525, unease was growing through the German regions of Europe. With the publication of Martin Luther's Freedom of a Christian in 1520, Luther's ideas were spreading faster than ever through the continent, and calls for reform were spreading with them. Alternate and extrapolated takes on Luther's works, such as those produced by Zwingli in Switzerland, also began cropping up. All of this reformation fever started to stir the emotions of the peasants all over the German countryside. These German peasants, influenced strongly by Luther's writings on freedom and devotion to Scripture, began to draw together their arguments against the lords and nobility that ruled over them. When they eventually produced this document, known as the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants, in 1525, the nobility and the peasant were immediately set opposed to each other, each preparing to fight for their argument. Luther, having caught wind of these articles and the grievances they listed, read through them and found them to be entirely misguided in the Christian way. The German peasants were angry about their oppression under the nobility and tried to use Scripture to back them up, but Luther argued back in his Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles if the Swabian Peasants that their methods were, while perhaps right and just, were highly un-Christian in their use of Scripture and their intention to fight for their freedoms.
            The grievances themselves are not particularly difficult to understand, nor are they particularly misguided from a secular point of view. The First Article concerns the desire of the peasants that their community as a whole would choose their minister to “teach us the holy gospel pure and simple, without any human addition, doctrine, or ordinance.”[1] This sounds like a fairly straightforward Lutheran concept, especially the desire to learn directly from the Word of God. As an aside, the latter segment of the quote may be interpreted as an instance of negative scriptural principle similar to that argued for by Zwingli, though the rest of the document is not particularly Zwinglian. The Second Article concerns tithes, requesting first and foremost that while they were willing to pay, “it should be done properly.”[2] What they desired was for any excess tithe not needed for the livelihood of the minister to be redistributed among the poor. This would prevent the gross excesses of church leaders that was being seen in the Catholic Church that contributed heavily to the start of the Reformation in the first place. The Third Article is very clearly an anti-slave message, saying that “It has been the custom heretofore for men to hold us as their own property, which is pitiable enough considering that Christ has redeemed and purchased us without exception by the shedding of His precious blood, the lowly as well as the great.” The following articles all express desires for freedoms, including, as Luther so puts it, “freedom of game, birds, fish, wood, forests; about services, tithe, imposts, excises, Todfall, etc.”[3] are all grievances against very specific worldly injustices to the people. Even more interesting than these, however, is the final article, which is not a grievance, but a special note claiming that, should any of their grievances be found to be in disagreement with the Word of God, they would be willing to recede the offending article.[4] Having delivered these articles and grievances against the nobility, Luther quickly wrote in response to them.
            Luther was decidedly not happy with what he saw. On the surface, the peasants were wielding Luther's ideas to create justice. But it was just that that Luther saw as a primary issue: the peasants “wielding” the ideas, as one would wield a weapon. Luther's immediate first response is one of satisfaction at the inclusion of the Twelfth Article, regarding their willingness to be humbled by Scripture should they be incorrect, primarily because Luther planned to make ample use of that article to try and get the peasants to revoke the entire dispute. Luther, extraordinarily well-versed in using the Word of God to prove things, set himself up to dispute every single claim they made, as well as the very fact that they were making argument. He does, however, continuously attempt to reaffirm that this disputation of their grievances is done in a helpful and Christian spirit – indeed, the title of his return paper includes the word “Friendly.” He also immediately makes it clear that any action upon these articles should and cannot be blamed on him[5], since indeed he was already a criminal in the eyes of the Holy Roman Emperor and didn't need yet more blame piled onto him. Luther had three major argument aimed at the document as a whole, but first his arguments against specific articles prove a valuable counterpoint to the peasants. Luther sympathizes more with the First Article than any of the others save for the last, though that isn't really saying much. Luther accepted the idea that if the rulers were unwilling to deliver a pastor, they should choose their own and support him with their own property rather than the ruler's, and that should the rulers “not tolerate the pastor whom they chose and support, then let him flee to another city, and let any flee with him who will, as Christ teaches.”[6] Rather than argue for the rulers to accept their chosen pastor, Luther advises simply doing so and not disobeying their lord. The Second Article Luther is entirely opposed to, claiming it to be “nothing but theft and highway robbery.”[7] The peasants are attempting to take the tithes and redistribute them when the tithes belong to the rulers, not the peasants. While he appreciates the idea of doing good with the tithes, he claims that they should only do so out of their own property, not by stealing it from what belongs to the ruler. The Third Article, to Luther, is a gross misinterpretation of Scripture. While Christ died for people's freedom, it was meant as spiritual freedom, not the freedom of the flesh that an anti-slavery message such as this holds up. Luther points out that “Did not Abraham and other patriarchs and prophets have slave?”[8] and that “a slave can be a Christian and have Christian liberty, in the same way that a prisoner or a sick man is a Christian, and yet not free.”[9] He declares the third article to be “dead against the gospel.”[10] All the following Articles (again save for the final Article) he deals with at once, declaring them matters more fit for lawyers to handle. He declares that “these things do not concern Christians, and that they care nothing about them.”[11]
            Luther's primary arguments against the peasants take three forms. The first is that they are blasphemers, by their own words calling themselves a “Christian covenant”[12], but their ideas and actions are profoundly un-Christian, as he makes clear with his other criticisms of the specific articles and of the movement as a whole. They take the name of the God in vain, violating the second commandment. He places flows into his second argument by claiming that “it is easy to prove that you are bearing God's name in vain and putting it to shame; nor is it to be doubted that you will, in the end, encounter all misfortune unless God is untrue. For here stands God's word, and says through the mouth of Christ, “He who take the sword shall perish by the sword.”[13] The very fact that they are willing and prepared to take up arms to defend their desires violated Scripture to Luther, and enforces this argument with many examples from the Bible, such as with the story of when St. Peter went to cut off Malchus's ear[14] or Christ's own words in Matt. 5 [: 39-41].[15] He argued that committing violence, even with justice on one's side, was horribly Un-Christian. He goes on to personalize his plea against the revolt and his emotional investment in his ideas is strongly evident when he follows up by stating that “leave out, I say, the name of Christian and do not make it a cloak for your impatient, disorderly, un-Christian undertaking. I shall not let you have that name, but as long as there is a heartbeat in my body, I shall do all I can to take that name from you.”[16] His third and final primary grievance against with the peasants is that they were being blasphemous by even daring to violate and disobey their lords. Despite the injustices that he repeatedly admits the lords are enforcing upon the peasants, it is not the peasant's place to challenge the lord. Suffering under the secular government is one of the tenets of being a Christian in a non-Christian world. They were not in a place to judge the behaviors of the lords and render judgment upon them. “If your enterprise were right,” he writes, “the any man might become judge over another, and there would remain in the world neither authority, nor government, nor order, nor land, but there would be only murder and bloodshed; for as soon as anyone saw that someone was wronging him, he would turn to and judge him and punish him.”[17]  Luther supports that claim with Scripture of course, referring to Paul and saying that “no one may be judge in his own cause or take his own revenge,”[18] which the peasants were surely trying to do.
            However, this is not the first time Luther has written of being submissive to the government. In a 1523 text of his, Concerning Governmental Authority, Luther discusses the very nature of government in a Christian context. He asserts that “the world is un-Christian,”[19], with Christians “always a minority in the midst of non-Christians.”[20] This may seem odd in a modern context (where often Christianity is the dominant religion), but Luther is talking only about that who are truly devout and following of the Christian ways, not simply Christian in name. As such, a common Christian government over the world is beyond improbable, either over the world or even a single country.[21] As such, both governments must be maintained over a given community: the first a Christian one, producing righteousness and goodness, and the second a non-Christian one to hold off external threats from other evil non-Christians.[22] Neither is sufficient on its own – without the Christians, the community would fall to evil as a whole, but without the non-Christian government, which is free to act with violence through the sword, the Christian community would be set upon by outside evildoers.[23] This stance on a pair of governments reflects upon Luther's own legal situation – set upon by the Catholic Church as a whole, Luther's beliefs prevented him from directly combating their attempts to arrest him. Instead, Frederick III of Saxony acted as his protector, shielding him within his land from the hand of the Catholic Church at large. Frederick, though, was not Lutheran, but Roman Catholic. Unburdened by many of the restrictions Luther placed on his actions due to his beliefs on violence, Frederick was free to protect him, forming the “non-Christian” second government that Luther is discussing here (as a Roman Catholic, Luther would not have considered him a true Christian by the standards set here). It had only been two years since he was taken under Frederick's protection when he wrote this paper, so it is very believable that he was thinking directly of Frederick as he wrote it. This belief in the necessity for a non-Christian government most likely was a driving factor for his argument against the peasants attempting to enfeeble and later combat their lords.
            Luther's work was powerful, but not enough so to halt the peasants in the end. They proceeded with their revolt, and Luther was extremely upset by this, producing another work striking out far more harshly at the peasants. If the multitude of criticisms contained here were in a document titled as “Friendly,” one need only imagine the scathing critique of the movement that would be contained in a paper titled “Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants.” The revolt eventually failed, however, and Germany continued to stand. The peasants believed it right to fight for their freedoms, but by branding their fight as a Christian endeavor fueled by Lutheranism, they invoked the ire of Luther himself, and it was perhaps his disagreement that led the peasants to be unable to support their cause.

[1]    "The Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants.," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 94.
[2]    "The Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants.," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 95.
[3]    Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 118.
[4]    "The Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants.," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 97.
[5]    Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 99.
[6]    Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 116.
[7]    Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 117.
[8]    Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 117.
[9]    Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 117.
[10]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 117.
[11]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 118.
[12]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 104.
[13]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 105.
[14]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 109-110.
[15]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 108.
[16]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 111.
[17]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 107.
[18]  Martin Luther, "Friendly Admonition to Peace Concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 106.
[19]  Martin Luther, "Concerning Governmental Authority," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 75.
[20]  Martin Luther, "Concerning Governmental Authority," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 75.
[21]  Martin Luther, "Concerning Governmental Authority," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 74.
[22]  Martin Luther, "Concerning Governmental Authority," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 74.
[23]  Martin Luther, "Concerning Governmental Authority," The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York City: Harper Perennial, 2009), 75. 

See you later - maybe I have something else to give, or else I'll just provide the other essay (which I'm even more fond of) tomorrow.
End Recording,