Happy All Saint's Day!

today is All Saint’s Day, and i’ve been thinking about Saint Agostina Pietrantoni. born in Italy in 1864, she was the second oldest of 11(!!) kids. her family farmed a small plot of land, and she worked very hard with them from a very young age. she was kind and gentle, and played a motherly role in not only her younger siblings’ lives, but in the lives of the other children who she left home and labored with when she was about twelve.

as she got older, she received the attention of many suitors. but as it turns out, no man is better than Christ- and that’s what she declared one day. some folks in the village thought she was just trying to get away from her hard life- but she said “I wish to choose a Congregation in which there is work both day and night.”

she took a trip to Rome and was eventually given a chance with the Sisters of Charity of Saint Jeanne-Antide Thouret. after a few months, she was fully accepted into the order & sent to the hospital of Santo Spirito in 1886. it was sorta a weird time, the “roman question” meant that there was a lot of anti-catholic sentiment from nationalists. even though the hospital was a very Catholic thing for like seven hundred years, the Capuchin monks that worked there previously had been expelled & the only reason that the same thing didn’t happen to the sisters is that the authorities (probably correctly) thought kicking the poor sweet nuns out would make them look too mean.

Sister Agostina first worked with the sick children, and then in the tuberculosis ward. at that point, there wasn’t really an effective treatment for the disease, and it killed thousands- especially the poor, whose living arrangements heightened transmission. contracting the disease was, in most cases, a death sentence. Sister Agostina still worked night and day making the afflicted comfortable and trying her best to ease their suffering. in a place where the symbols of her religion and even speaking the name of God were strictly forbidden, she cried out to heaven with her constant love for the other.

after various women working in the hospital received vulgar comments & threats from a particular patient, he got kicked out. in his fury, he found Sister Agostina and stabbed her to death after attempting to rape her. her last words were those of forgiveness, and dedication to the Virgin Mary.

i look to Saint Agostina and contemplate her life and the way that she lived it- always for others, never for herself. first she labored in the home, taking care of her younger siblings and helping out on the farm. then, she was a migrant farm worker to earn more money to support her family, while providing love and direction to the many other children in the same situation. then, she dedicated her life to the sick and the poor in the tuberculosis ward- a place of constant suffering and death. every day she faced the deadly disease, and found joy and love in giving care to the people who contracted it. she knew that she was nothing, and was prepared to let go of herself entirely every day, in service to the lowest of the low. even after being so brutally attacked, she forgives instantly- she saw the best in the worst of people, and knew what she had to do. i’m cowardly and weak and selfish, and i hope that one day i can hold in my heart a tiny fraction of what Saint Agostina Pietrantoni is.

We will lie down for such a long time after death that it is worth while to keep standing while we are alive. Let us work now; one day we will rest. – Saint Agostina

sources: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_19990418_pietrantoni_en.html https://www.thecompassnews.org/2011/11/forgiving-the-one-who-killed-her/ http://exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/alav/tuberculosis/ http://catholicsaints.info/saint-agostina-petrantoni/

Hey! I'm Making a Game About St. Augustine of Hippo!

tl;dr: I’m making a game about St. Augustine of Hippo, releasing on itch.io in late September!

Today’s the feast day of Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the most influential Christian writers to ever live. After converting to Christianity, Augustine used his ridiculous intellect and rhetorical skill as a philosopher and defender of the church, up until today in 430 when he died. Augustine wrote a whole lot of stuff, and most of it has aged so well that it’s still being used today.

Three or so months ago, I got fixated on him and started writing a story about his bones and two rival orders of priests in 17th century Italy. It’s based on true events, and hopefully will be a fun little experience.

As of now, I’m hoping to have it finished and released for free on itch.io before the end of September. I’ll be posting periodic updates on Twitter, so follow me there if you’re into that.

The Last One

I haven’t put anything on this blog for a month or so, which is mostly because of college and stuff but also because I’m working on another project that I’m pretty excited about. Anyhoo, this is a thing that I wrote for the reddit /r/WritingPrompts board a while back. Most of the prompts are pretty silly, but I liked this one. It was “You are protecting the last tree on Earth in a post-nuclear fallout world. Today is the first time in decades you’ve seen somebody approach the tree.”

the wind has a bitter taste to it ever since the sky fell. it explores craters and ruined buildings, glides over the brittle bones of the long-dead, coils around the millions of tree skeletons as they slowly rejoin the soil. you didn’t believe it when you first saw it. after days and days of grey and black viewed through the pale yellow lenses of the respirator, you were sure the green leaves were a mirage. but you gingerly felt them- ripped off the mask, kissed them- inhaled the beautiful earthy scent of the bark of the only living thing you had seen ever since the last mushroom of death faded into the clouds. you thought that was funny sometimes- the mushrooms, that is. how strange, the things that stole so much life now sustain you, as you sit- the sole guardian of the last tree on earth. you’re an excellent caretaker- you promptly prune the dead leaves, pray the foliage comes back after every winter, encourage the tallest limbs to climb higher, higher- high enough to see- is there anyone else? you shouldn’t think about it. it probably doesn’t help the dreams. at night, cradled in wooden arms, you toss and turn- you dream that the arms of the tree are smoke, and they curl together, higher and higher and higher until they reach the sky, mushroom out over the entire planet and people rain down but they all have leaves for hair and bark for skin and their eyes are made out of pure fire and you’re awake and sweating and your throat is raw from the screams. deep breaths. the tears fall down- you always stick your head out to let them drop onto the earth at the base of the trunk, to water the tree. you know that it’s crazy, but you swear you’ve heard the tree whisper to you at times like this- comforting words, words of thanks. you speak back, beg the tree- you are so alone. just a single person, someone to stand watch with you. the tree says nothing in return. it gets lighter outside. you watch as the sun peeks over the horizon, the tree turns gold in the morning light. you drop down from your perch, and get to work gathering mushrooms. plenty of dead things here for them to feed on. bending down, you grab the fattest ones- a twig snaps. you freeze. you’ve seen animals before- they’re mostly just confused, near death- but you don’t play around with them. you look up, the tree is fifty feet away. you bolt, scamper up it in the way you’ve done thousands of times before. through the leaves, you peek out towards where you heard the noise. there’s definitely something moving- a bear? wait. it stands, hobbles towards the tree. not a bear. it stumbles out of the skeletal dead brush, and your gasp makes your lungs hurt. a man. you fall out of the tree, run over. he reaches out for you. you try to say something, fail. you realize you haven’t spoken in years. you clear your throat, and try again. “h-hello? are you here to help me?” the man falls to his knees, makes a gurgling sound. no. no, god no. you wrap your arms around him, cradle him like a child. his beard wraps around his face and connects with his hair, he looks more animal than human. he coughs, spams wrack his body, his head hangs loose. no. the tears are here again. you pick him up- he’s too light- run over to the tree. you scream at it. help you, help him, god, please. please. this can’t be real. this is a dream. you pinch yourself, but the man keeps coughing. tears are streaming down his face, which is the color of concrete. it’s not fair, you scream. not fair. you throw your voice into the sky, and for a moment you imagine you are a mushroom cloud, you imagine making the tree and the man and the earth and yourself disintegrate in a second. your tears fall down your face, salty twin rivers, and you pay no mind to where they land. you scream and the bitter wind is blowing you are pounding your fists into the tree trunk and the man is coughing up blood and the last tree on earth does nothing, just as it always has.

Young Me Writes, Part I

I found this short star wars fanfiction in a notebook that fifth grade me owned. I’ve done only minimal editing from its original form, which you can view here, and I added some annotations with Genius that you can read by clicking on the highlighted portions of text. Enjoy.

Chapter 1

Seperatist Spy Station, 400 hours

A shiny new battle droid stared at the screen, wondering if he should report what he was seeing to 354, the commando droid behind him. If he did, he ran a risk of alerting General Grevious, and General Grevious was known for his temper flares. With a shudder the battle droid remembered 446, who was smashed on the grounds that he couldn’t hit a republic star cruiser with the ion cannon. Yes, he thought to himself. Better let this one slide…

Small Hut, Tatooine, 405 hours

A droid dealer by the name of Piper was standing with his hands on his hips, smiling at his creation. The droids he made were fashioned from melted down battle droid parts that he scavenged off of the outskirts of the village, where clones blasted droids to bits to prevent the capturing of the village. Piper is 12, in case you’re wondering, and will be thirteen in about a month. His parents were blasted at an early age by the seperatists, because the droids fear rouge droid makers. But it seemed that his parents had an apprentice, because there were rumors of a rouge droid army of massive proportions. But they were just rumors, and Piper needed the truth to be convinced. Anyway, the droid lying on the construction table was a masterpiece. It was a humanoid robot, with shiny silver overlapping plates on his midsection and arms. His head resembled that of a protocol droid, probably because it was from a kidnapped seperatist protocol droid. This droids name would be X4-PI7, or Shiny for short. Piper flipped the switch, filled with excitement. He turned on the droid. It slowly lifted up its head, looked around, and started to speak.

“Don’t look now, but there’s about five commando droids knocking at your door.” Piper turned around and looked. Sure enough, 5 seperatist commando droids were banging on the door…

Chapter 2

THE DRAGONFLY- Rouge Droid Mothership, 356 hours

Artemis smiled. And why shouldn’t she smile? Her plan to overthrow the seperatists was coming along perfectly. You wouldn’t believe how many totally intact droids the seperatists rejected every day, and how they were lying unguarded in the junkyard on Delta 7. It was easy to reprogram them for service in the rouge droid army. Their armor was painted camouflage, and the rouge droid insignia, a dragonfly, was stamped on their heads. The army consisted of these droids and other life forms that wished to join. Artemis was only 13, but she had assembled one of the largest galactic armies in history. She stood smiling in side the massive Dragonfly. She had modified the ship herself, and it was about the size of a small planet. A droid walked up to her.

“We are about to enter the atmosphere of Tatooine, ma’am”, it spoke in its high voice. Artemis observed the droid.

“497, you don’t sound too good. Go down to level two and get your vocal chip repaired.”

“Yes ma’am. Thank you, ma’am,” it said as it walked away. Artemis settled in her seat to watch the invasion begin.

Piper’s Hut, 407 hours

Sure enough, there were five commando droids trying to smash the door. Piper thought fast. He grabbed his blaster pistol from a drawer and shot off a droid’s head as it looked through the window. Big mistake. The droids buzzed with anger and started taking potshots at Piper through the window. Piper dodged, jumped, and rolled to avoid the scorching beams. Meanwhile, Shiny was fiddling with the plasma generator on Piper’s desk. He charged up some water plasma and shot it at the nearest commando droid. The ball of electrified gas sizzled through the air and fizzed through an unfortunate droid’s head. Suddenly everything went dark. The command droids also noticed, because they looked up. There was a flash of orange, and the remaining droids were shopped in half. The door was kicked open. In the door stood a beautiful girl, with two orange lightsabers in her hands. She proceeded to ransack the house until she found what she was looking for. A battle droid head. She looked straight into its eyes and said “Give my regards to General Grevious” and stuck her lightsaber straight through. Piper looked on in total dismay. Then, outraged, he said

“Hey Jedi! You are completely crazy!” The girl just seemed to notice Piper was there. Quick as a flash, she moved over to him in an orange blur. Piper noticed nervously that her lightsabers were at his neck.

“You a seppy?” She asked. Piper took a guess that ‘seppy’ was slang for seperatist.

“No.”

“Republic?”

“No.”

“What are you then?” She said, obviously confused.

“I’m a peaceful droid maker who just wants to earn some credits without getting his head lopped off by some crazy Jedi!” Piper almost yelled. The Jedi seemed slightly taken aback. Then she laughed.

“Oh, well Arty wants to see you then…”

Seperatist Spy Station, 480 hours

The battle droid stared. A girl’s face had appeared on the screen. “Give my regards to General Grevious” she said, and then the screen went dark. He couldn’t help it.

“354, get over here!” The commando droid sprinted to the screen, whirred and clicked as he processed the darkness. Then he summoned General Grevious.

I Made A Game

tl;dr: I wrote & programmed a game in coffeescript that you can play in your browser here.

mississippi: origins

What does one do when one is riding in a car from Texas to North Carolina? They write a surrealist short story, of course. I wrote the story itself in a sort of free-verse style, building a narrative that’s composed of short lines. I like doing this, and I’ve written other stuff like it before- it feels almost like cheating, though. I can forgo messy annoying things like proper sentence structure and grammar to get to the heart of what I want the reader to feel at any point. I originally intended to turn the story into a gameboy advanced game using some old assemblers I scraped off of websites that looked like they hadn’t been updated since the early 2000s, but after digging around the documentation for a while and realizing that I know literally nothing about low-level programming in C I decided that it might be better to switch to a different medium before I got discouraged and abandoned the project altogether.

drink the coffeescript

Enter: coffeescript and the html5 canvas element. I’m absolutely in love with coffeescript. For the uninitiated, coffeescript is a language that “transpiles” straight into javascript- basically, it’s training wheels. Well, I say that, but that analogy would only work if training wheels allowed your bike to go faster, be easier to ride, and look 10000% prettier- because that’s what coffeescript does to javascript code. Seriously, a normal python-style class system complete with inheritance in vanilla javascript? for element in list style for loops? I can’t imagine any compelling reason to go back to wrestling with javascript after having all that. I also decided that I didn’t want to mess with any javascript framework for making games, because for some reason I was in the mood to reinvent the wheel and revisit my old friend the <canvas>.

work begins

I didn’t have much trouble throwing down a basic physics system- acceleration, velocity and all that jazz. the problem came when I plugged everything in and started to test rendering: the player and the boxes were antialiased (read: they looked fuzzy and bad). I wasn’t fazed, I just googled “how to disable antialiasing html5 canvas”- but that changed when I read that there wasn’t really a way to. A few sources told me to translate the images like a half pixel, which didn’t work. Eventually, I found someone that recommended using an ImageData object, then blitting the object onto the screen as opposed to stroking it with the canvas api. That finally worked, and I think I took a nap in celebration (most of the programming was done in the car). Once the basics were done- the player could jump, the platforms will fall & collide with the player- I started to integrate the actual story feature. my pseudo-inspiration for the actual concept of the game- player completes a certain action, then receives another part of the story- comes from the Portal franchise. I spent hours trying to figure out the puzzles, motivated by not only the inherent drive to complete an objective, but the urge to hear GLaDOS and/or Wheatly and/or Cave Johnson speak and give me another section of the plot of the game. It was a really cool feeling, and something that I wanted to maybe come close to reproducing in mississippi. Every seven seconds, I made it so that a different color platform will spawn, and if the player lands on this platform, it will trigger a screen that the next piece of the story will scroll across. Displaying the text was a headache as well. I used a relatively blocky font- something that definitely /shouldn’t/ be antialiased- but again, the canvas does it by default- and on text, there’s literally no way to turn it off. Consequently, I wasn’t happy with the final look of the text, but I wasn’t unhappy enough with it to implement it some other way. If I did something like this again, I would handle text with floating fixed-position <div> elements or something. After it was all done, I spent some time squashing bugs and revising the story a little bit, and then put it away for a while.

polish and publish

After playing the game for a little bit, I realized that I wanted the game to be fullscreen. With a little bit of modification to the onLoad method on the page and the inclusion of the only third-party js library in the project- screenfull (which is great, by the way) we had pretty painlessly made the game fullscreen. I toyed with the idea of hosting the project on this repository, but I eventually decided to publish it on itch.io, a hub for indie games that I’d used a couple years ago to make a silly game for the john cena game jam. I also figured it would be cool to write something on here about it, so I did. Enjoy the weird game that I made in a van.