On Quiet Quitting

My father and I were never each other’s biggest fans. I wonder now if we looked upon each other and saw everything we thought to be wrong with the human race. Our relationship was defined by the most spirited of debates that would often devolve into physical confrontations.

At sixteen and fresh off yet another juvie stint, my father and I found ourselves in the car for yet another spirited debate. I’ve grown used to his yelling at this point. Dad yells. It’s what he does. I’m more concerned that he and I are in such close quarters that if/when things turn violent, things will get very bloody, very quickly.

Anyway, during this discussion I’ve chosen to focus on that snake that appears to be trying to escape out of his forehead. It’s with rising hope that I pray the vessel bursts and at last ends this when he says something he’s never said before. He calls me “damn near unemployable”.

The wave of sheer euphoria that came over me at that moment was as unexpected as it was puzzling. The involuntary smirk that came with it cost me an ass-whooping and him a mild concussion.

I realize now that I never wanted to be part of my father’s world. His version of success had turned him into the most cheerless human being you’d ever crossed paths with. Here he was, a successful criminal prosecutor who would’ve given the Dursley’s pause. Joy could not exist around this man. As he was miserable, nothing was allowed to be happy in his presence. Not even his own children, one of whom was a resounding academic success (hint: not me).

I think quiet quitting is the best thing people could’ve done for themselves.
Over the course of my life, I’ve had well over a hundred jobs and refuse to put most of them on a resume. Day jobs often hold livelihoods hostage, and that’s not a game I’ve ever played. My attitude has always been simple; show up on time, do the job you were hired to do, and leave it at the door when you clock out. Don’t answer emails or texts from work if you’re not being paid too (that’s a horrible precedent to set). Don’t take on more responsibilities without at least discussing additional compensation. Finally, and this is most important, don’t expect your job to have your back if you need it too. Your loyalty should be to your paycheck first, not the person who signs it and probably has no idea who you are.

Now of course, not every job is like this. There are jobs I regret quitting. If you’ve got a job that rewards your efforts, more power to you and, you should match their energy. But for those of us wage slaves simply trying to get by, quiet quitting should always be an option. You should not, under any circumstances, take on more than what you were hired to do without additional compensation. I understand this puts you in a no-win situation. Either you take the extra work, or they replace you with someone who will. It’s a scary place to be, especially now. So, speaking frankly, if I felt like my back was against the wall, I would lie my ass off, convince them of what they wanted to hear-and immediately start planning an exit strategy. If your employer believes they can bully you, or frighten you, into giving more of yourself without giving you anything in return, chances are they won’t stop at that initial request. This can be especially true if you’re a woman, a person of color, or both.

It also helps to make initial interviews two-way streets. While your prospective employer is trying to ascertain if you’re a good fit for their company, you should be asking them if they’re a good fit for your lifestyle. What exactly will be expected of you? What do they expect of their employees during their off time? How does management handle scheduling conflicts and unexpected absences?

I spent twenty years working low-impact, low-wage jobs because they suited my lifestyle and didn’t ask much of me beyond what I was hired to do. The jobs that did were ones I gleefully left behind. Today I am successfully self-employed, and my primary client is the one most dream of. They respect my time, are quick to answer questions and hand out criticism positively and constructively. I’m lucky to be where I am. But I still set my phone to DND on weekends.

You have a very limited amount of time on this planet. When the end comes, I promise that you’re not going to want to look back on your life and think about how many hours you spent at your day job. Quiet quitting is how employees re-assert their power in the workplace. Stop being afraid of what they might do to you for saying no, and start thinking about what it is you want for yourself and your life. You’ll be a lot happier.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is a GenX digital nomad and creator currently living in the Las Vegas area with his wife, Cari, and two cats. He talks about normalizing mental health issues, maintaining personal boundaries and doing what you’re passionate about. He also writes dark fantasy with an emphasis on martial arts and other fiction.


Shortening Links For Discoverability-A Guide

So you’ve created something. A book, a product, something you want other people to see. First off, good for you! That’s a heavy effort and deserves to be commended. Now, you want to get your product in front of as many eyes as possible. People want the path of least resistance. They’re not going to want to go to Google and spend time tracking down your product. When asked, you want to have something ready to go, and you don’t want that thing to be some endless string of letters and numbers that will cause people’s eyes to glass over. Luckily, there are plenty of link shortening tools out there for just this sort of thing. You can pay for upgraded features, but most of them will allow you the basics for free. Here’s a quick guide for creating a shortened link you can present to customers, so they can find your product.

I’m going to use one of my own stories as an example because this is my site and I can.

I recently wrote and published a fanfiction in the Mass Effect universe. The story is available on Wattpad, and this is what the raw link looks like. https://www.wattpad.com/1231285820-mass-effect-the-offer

Yeah, no one’s gonna want to remember that or even copy/paste it. So let’s make this a little simpler.

I recommend a service called bit.ly, but there are other services out there that do the same thing. Do your own research and find what works best for you.

First, highlight your link by clicking in your browser. Hold CTRL, and press A. The entire link should highlight.

Then, while holding CTRL, press C. You shouldn’t see anything happen, but this will copy your link.

In a separate browser, open bit.ly. Creating an account is free. On the right-hand side, click “Create”.

A box should slide in from the right with the option at the top “Enter Long URL”. If your link is from Amazon, Medium, Google, or Wattpad, Bit.ly will create a custom link emphasizing this free of charge. This is part of why I use the service. Hold CTRL and press V to place your link in the “Enter Long URL” field.

Hit “Create”.

Your new link should appear, along with options to copy, tweet, or even generate a QR code! You can share this link to your social media, newsletters, or you could even print the QR code to a business card you can hand out to people.

And there you go! You now have a shortened link you can use anywhere you like! I hope this guide helps you in your endeavors! Thank you for reading!

If Mass Effect is your thing, check out the award-winning fanfics I’ve produced on Wattpad. They’re all free.

Mass Effect: The Offer

Mass Effect: The Renegades

Mass Effect: Lost Moments

Depression Is A Trickster

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Depression is a tricky thing. It’s not as obvious as being outwardly sad all the time. Maybe if it was that simple, it would be easier to diagnose and treat. But no, depression is far more sinister than that. Depression wants you to believe that everything is okay.

Depression can set in slowly. What happens once soon becomes a habit. I’ll get out of the house tomorrow, you say. I’ll get back into the gym tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow. Before you know it, you’ve grown a couch out of your back and know way too much about true crime.

Depression tells you that the things that make you happy will bring you pain. I’ve played this game to death. It can’t show me anything new. I’m not even sure why I like it. Watch this instead, it’s depressing and familiar. I’ve seen this movie so many times it offers no surprises. Maybe I should delete it out of my library, it’s not like it does anything for me anyway. So subtle, smooth, and utterly debilitating, the monster is. It isn’t long before you find yourself in this claustrophobic little ball of sadness, wondering why you can’t smile anymore.

Depression creeps up on me. I don’t know I’m in a phase until I force myself out of it. I was cleared to return to full-time exercise weeks ago (after surgery), but only yesterday, I finally made it back. Sitting here now, writing this and pleasantly sore, I didn’t realize how far I’d fallen until I forced myself out of it.

Depression isn’t always obvious. We wish it was, it would be so much easier to deal with. But if you find yourself stuck in rut, if you don’t want to do things that bring you joy, if habits suddenly feel like pulling yourself out of the mud, maybe take a hard look at your mental state. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with falling flat. Life is exceptionally difficult and brutal right now, no matter who you are or what you believe. Depression is not a sign of weakness. Getting low is a facet of the human condition. What’s important is realizing it, so you can pull yourself out of it.

If you find your headspace has gotten so dark that you’ve begun to believe that the world would be better off without you, please seek the care of a medical professional or a trusted friend. Your mind can turn on you and lie to you. You have people who love you and would miss you. The world would be lesser without you. Darkness passes. Without it, we can’t appreciate the light.

I hope this helps you contend with the darker moments. Thank you for reading.

I Don’t Know What I Think Of This

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

I’m going to preface this with a couple of inflammatory statements. I don’t believe the vast majority of people read books anymore, at least in America. I’m not sure what the global stats are. Secondly, I’m part of the problem. I consume a fair amount of nonfiction, but I don’t read much fiction.

So when I came across this article about people decorating their homes with books they have no intention of reading, I wasn’t sure how to process this.

One passage from this article really hit home, though: “I bought those books by the yard. Then I arranged them that’s visually pleasing to my eye. I haven’t actually read them.” He stated this as though this was common sense, as though he expected his guest to know this was how things were done.

He didn’t actually read the books. He just owned them.

To which, I ask with growing clarity as I write this, what’s the point?

What people spend their money on is their own business. It’s good that people still support authors and bookstores, especially independent bookstores. But then to never actually partake of the contents, to simply have them but not take advantage of them, that seems like a terrible waste to me. If anyone visits who does happen to be a reader, the owner is going to fall flat on their face. What’s the point of decorating your home with something you’re not a fan of?

I have a bigger game library than I do a bookshelf. I understand that this might rankle some people, especially as I’m a fiction author. But I’m honest about it. I’m not going to put up facades in my home. The books I have, if people ask me about them, I can speak intelligently about them.

But maybe that’s just me.

Still don’t quite know what to make of this. I think supporting authors is cool, but knowing the work will never be read hits.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Feel free to share below. Thanks for reading.

Morning News June 6, 2022: Revising First Drafts, Books For Every State, and Darth Vader

Something to think about. We’ve had roughly thirty mass shootings since Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. I wish you all a safe week. For those of you who send children off to school, please know I wish you nothing but safety and peace. I’m sorry if you are afraid for your children. You have every right to be.

In the meantime, here’s your news for the week.

Writer Unboxed provides excellent advice on revising your first draft.

Here’s a neat little list of every book to read in all fifty states.

Business Insider provides the five best Kindles and E-Readers for 2022.

For grins: here are the ten worst movies of the nineties, according to IMDB. I’ve never even heard of some of these. You may need to disable your ad blocker.

And finally, here’s a compelling argument as to why Obi-Wan’s Darth Vader is far superior to Rogue One’s.

Morning Reads June 15, 2021

Scalpers of the Sony Playstation 5 have become such an issue that it’s been reported that they owned between ten and fifteen percent of all consoles in the United States.
I really don’t know how they fix this problem. Every system has its loopholes, right?

Overdrive, the chief platform for delivering ebooks to libraries and schools, is acquiring Kanopy, a video service for libraries. I believes libraries are national treasures and always send my titles to Overdrive for lending distribution, but this is the first I’ve heard of Kanopy. Curious to see where this goes.

Slocap released a new trailer for its upcoming kung-fu beat-em-up, Sifu. I’ve been following this since they announced it. One of the more interesting facets of this title is that every time you die, you age. It has a very Hong Kong Cinema-inspired style and feel to it. I plan to get it when it comes out.

The new live-action Netflix Resident Evil show has made a stellar casting announcement for one of the franchise’s chief antagonists. I am a huge fan of this guy and the plot is shaping up to take place over multiple timelines. I’m in.

Speaking of Resident Evil, the Bipolar Gamer talks about his love for the franchise even though he doesn’t care for horror games. There is a lot to love here. A quarter-century of lore, boss battles, maddening puzzles and jump scares.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is a scifi/fantasy author currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. Owned by two cats, he is passionate about social justice, Star Wars, and mental health. Connect to his award-winning writing and social media here.

Morning Reads June 11, 2021

This post first appeared on The Gamer Author June 11, 2021

Liana Zavo illustrates how to harness the power of storytelling in three steps. This doesn’t just apply to fiction.

The developers of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart celebrate releasing a critical hit with no crunch time. Hopefully this is a snapshot of things to come.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife releases new characters and a haunted house. Because it’s Ghostbusters.

Alexi Robichaux provides five ways to protect your mental health. The second one is especially important and why I unplug from the internet for two days per week.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is a scifi/fantasy author currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. Owned by two cats, he is passionate about social justice, Star Wars, and mental health. Connect to his award-winning writing and social media here.

Building The Life You Want

This post first appeared on the Akting Out website
May 5, 2021

A long time ago, I decided that spending thirty years at the same job wasn’t for me. I don’t enjoy stagnation. I like continuous movement and challenge. And like most people, I don’t enjoy being told what to do.

Not that long-term, full-time employment is a bad thing, especially in this economy. Having a steady paycheck in the covid age can be a blessing. Plus, there’s someone to blame when things go wrong. If your paycheck is short, blame your boss. Hours aren’t what they should be, blame your boss. Staggeringly incompetent co-worker promoted? Blame your boss.

When you work for yourself, everything is on you. Something goes wrong, you only need to face the mirror.

Self-employment isn’t for everyone. The work is overwhelming, ceaseless, demanding, and often thankless. Make no mistake; you will work harder for yourself than you ever will for someone else.

When you work for yourself, everything is on you. Something goes wrong, you only need to face the mirror. 

It took fifteen years (let me say that again, fifteen years of consistent failure and reinvention) before I saw any real traction on my endeavor. I thought things would get easier. I was stupid. Don’t be like me. They didn’t get easier. They got exponentially more difficult.

There are steps you can take that can lessen the impact of what you’re about to get into. Here are the most important lessons I’ve learned:

  • Change Your Network.
    Most people have a psychological tick: despite all the well-wishing you’ll see in the beginning, they don’t want to see you succeed beyond them. Don’t expect all of your friends to buy into what you’re doing. You’re forging your own path in a world where everyone is begrudgingly settling. Instead, surround yourself with people with similar mentalities. They’ll educate you, support you, and drive you when you need it.
  • Get Really Smart With Your Money.
    This is where many people fail, myself included. Everything is just so shiny and new and easy and we want to own all the things. I have had coffee makers in every room in my house: I understand the compulsion to spend-spend- spend.
  • Face Yourself.
    This is where most people fail because facing yourself and admitting that you have something to work on can be the hardest thing in the world. It will also be the most beneficial thing you ever do for yourself. Where are you weak? Where are your blind spots? What are you good at? What can you do to compensate for your weaknesses?

I’m still navigating the entrepreneurial life, and I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve also set a goal for no longer needing outside employment of any kind. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and this is after a lifetime of abuse and violence. 

It’s also been the most rewarding.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle, The Gamer Author, is a SciFi/fantasy artist currently roaming around the Western United States. A left-learning progressive “rogue” Christian, he advocates for victims of domestic violence and homelessness. He’s also a strong proponent of marriage equality and takes himself a little too seriously sometimes. Connect here. He’s blocked off most of May for the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition release so by the time you read this, he’ll probably be on the Normandy.

What’s Your Favorite Resident Evil Memory?

My first experience with Resident Evil was back in 1998 when Capcom released Resident Evil 2. People couldn’t stop talking about it and I wanted to see what the big deal was. The hype was justified. Between that expansive, haunted police station, the relentless Mr. X and those gaht-damn lickers, I was sold. Plus, it was the first game I’d ever played that offered multiple avenues through the story. My headcanon is Clare-A, Leon-B. I went back and played the original, but it didn’t hold a candle to Resident Evil 2. 

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis changed everything. 

There was never a moment in that game when I didn’t feel that unstoppable hulk of nature was hunting me. My first moment of sheer terror came near the photo development room in the police station when I emerged from saving and a missile exploded near my head. Because they armed the mammoth monosyllabic roided-out zombie from hell with heavy weapons. Because that’s what he needed.

Image copyright Capcom. Rocket Launcher courtesy of screw your feelings.

The game took place during the events of Resident Evil 2, so it was fun to pick out where Leon and Clare were in between bouts of running for my life and trying not to get swallowed hole by a gamma hunter (because they did that). By this point, I had a good working knowledge of Raccoon City. I knew where the landmarks were; I knew the police station in and out. Half of what kept Jill from repeated and gruesome deaths was knowing where the safe places were. 

Then it was gone. 

In the previous games, we’d dealt with countdowns and our local environment self-destructing. In Resident Evil 3, Capcom took things a step further, and it took the story in a horrifying new direction. Resident Evil 3’s third act had you outrunning a tactical nuclear missile that would wipe Raccoon City right out of existence. The first time I played through this, I couldn’t believe it way happening. I thought one of the franchises’ stupid little puzzles might avert the countdown. They weren’t really going to scrub an entire city out of existence, right? I mean, Umbrella can’t just sweep that under the rug! How many actual people are going to get cooked with all the zombies? What about the fallout? Are they seriously going to drop a nuclear bomb on an American city?!

The very end of the game, you’re presented with a radar screen that lets you know how close the missile is oh and of course Nemesis is back for one last rail gun to the face. 

This was one of the most cathartic moments in gaming history. Stars this, motherf***er.

I still couldn’t believe it as the helicopter lifted off, and the missile blew past. 

I figured it would fall from the sky, or be recalled or something. They weren’t actually going to destroy the city…

…were they?

Oh, God.

They did it.

They really did it. 

The image of a fiery mushroom cloud remained on screen as the news broadcaster relayed the events of Raccoon City’s end. I don’t remember breathing the entire time I saw that for the first time. 

The end of Raccoon City.

“An Unfortunate Event” is still one of my favorite tracks of all time. 

For me, the franchise peaked at Resident Evil 5, where the feud between Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker came to an end. I didn’t enjoy Resident Evil 6, and I’ve had a hard time connecting to Resident Evil 7. Up until the Livestream, I was planning to stay away from Resident Evil Village, but I’m intrigued. 

Resident Evil is one of gaming’s most beloved and enduring franchises. I can’t believe it’s a quarter-century old. I’m glad to still be able to take part in it.

What about you? What’s your favorite memory from the Resident Evil franchise?

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle, The Gamer Author is a SciFi/Fantasy Author currently living in Eastern Washington. Resident Evil: Foundations is a recipient of Wattpad’s Most Impressive award and is available for free. Connect and check out all of his work here. The Rogue Christian advocates  for equal rights and victims of child and domestic abuse. His cats don’t let him take himself too seriously.

We Don’t Talk Enough About Far Cry 5

“We Don’t Talk Enough About Far Cry 5” first appeared on Akting Out on January 20, 2021. Written by Avery K. Tingle, The Gamer Author. Far Cry is a registered trademark of Ubisoft. All rights reserved.

We really don’t talk enough about Far Cry 5.

I’m not talking about its abhorrent forced progression or lackluster hunting. I’m talking about its narrative. 

Ubisoft’s flagship Rambo fantasy took a chance with its fifth incarnation. It traditionally placed the player character in some exotic, far-off location where they transformed from a nobody into an invincible killing machine. Instead of placing you in some third-world country, Far Cry 5 put you right in the middle of small-town America.

Welcome to Hope County, Montana. It’s way worse than you think.

If you’re not familiar, Hope County, Montana is your traditional (and well-represented) rural community that has been overtaken by the Seeds. This family and their army of psychotic doomsday peppers known as Peggies (Project At Eden’s Gate) kidnap or kill members of the community in preparation for the biblical end of the world. You enter the game as a deputy assigned to bring in the head of the Seed family, Joseph. Cult members are not known for letting their leaders be taken in by the authority and, well, you can guess what happens.

Father of the year candidate Joseph Seed

The game was meant to be polarizing they overachieved. Much like Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us 2”, Far Cry 5 is a forced dose in empathy that’s both expertly written and well-executed. For a lot of us, the game struck a personal level. As a progressive Christian, I love nothing more than virtually arguing with Christian nationalists with high-velocity rounds to the face. Patriarch Joseph is a plausible and charismatic antagonist.  As monstrous as his family is, they are all victims. Like a lot of us who deal with trauma, they took hold of the first positive show of strength that was offered and became their tormentors. You may hate them because some small part of you might identify with them, and man, that makes you hate them even more. Still, you feel it when Joseph eulogizes his siblings after you put them in the ground.

From left to right John (used car salesman), Faith (toxic but hot and manipulative ex-girlfriend) and Jacob (PTSD to the extreme) Seed.

The game is also tactfully political. You will hear the term ‘libtard’ thrown around in some parts of Hope County. It’s fitting considering the environment. One of the villains will try to justify his actions in the end by telling you to look who’s in charge, a subtle dig at the outgoing President. This game was meant to get you to think, and piss people off. It’s the only Far Cry to produce a direct sequel, and it’s rare for an interactive narrative to get so much right in its first attempt.

Far Cry New Dawn takes place seventeen years after the end of Far Cry 5

Depending on your playthrough, you are faced with the ultimate uncomfortable reality; what if they’re right? The first time I saw that ending, I didn’t sleep right for a week.

Far Cry 6 promises a return to the faraway land but before we get there, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the success of its predecessor. It was the game we needed at the right time. It’s available for cheap and if you haven’t picked it up, you should. 

Far Cry 5 is available for Playstation 4, XBox One, and PC for dirt cheap. Hope you enjoyed this post. Go check out my Far Cry 5 fanfic “When The Morning Light Shines In” and connect with me on social media!

Late To The Party: Resident Evil 3

Image Copyright Capcom LTD 2020

No way I was going to pay sixty bucks for a game that took six hours to complete. But with Sony selling the game at more than half off (including all add-ons) I jumped. The original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was a Playstation classic. I was looking forward to seeing the end of Raccoon City again.

My first playthrough on standard difficulty took a little more than five hours. Not even close to being worth sixty bucks. The question is: for half of that, is it worth it?
The short answer is yes. A revamped story, unlimited weapons and ammo, plus resistance is worth the price of admission. I played this game for the story. I also wanted to revisit the sheer horror of confronting an enraged superzombie on steroids who hated me for some reason and oh let’s give him weapons too and he can outrun you and just for good measure he can GET OVER HERE you too.

Image Copyright Capcom LTD 2020

If you’re not familiar with the story, Nemesis takes place immediately before and after the events of Resident Evil 2. Jill Valentine, one of the protags from RE1, is still grappling with the events of Arklay Mountains. Raccoon City is overrun with zombies thanks to the nefarious Umbrella Corp’s ‘accidental’ release of the T-Virus. It’s time to blow town. There’s just one (big-ass) problem…

As harrowing as the Nemesis encounters are, they’re too few and far between. Where RE2’s Tyrant had a bad habit of showing up at somewhat random times, Nemesis is pretty much restricted to boss battles. Talk about a huge waste of a great villain. 

Otherwise, this is standard, revamped Resident Evil fare. Jill and Carlos (Umbrella Special Forces) race through various parts of Raccoon City shooting, or avoiding, a very limited number of undead monsters.

The hunters are back.Both gamma and beta hunters are back, but they lack the same presence they held in the original game. They’ll usually pop up in front you in just enough time for you to do something about them. Gone are the omnipotent footsteps that alert you that they’re around, but you have no idea where until they either swallow you whole or decapitate you. The former still happens–quickly if you’re not prepared–but the latter has been toned down to a slit throat. Maybe decapitation was too much. With their horrific atmosphere removed, RE3 falls back to trying to overwhelm you with numbers. That trick gets old fast. Other than hunters and parasitic insects, the enemies have little variation. Again, the parasites offer a new way to die but are only seen once.

Resident Evil 3 holds a lot of nostalgic value for the old-heads like me, but little appeal to Gen Z. This is not a sixty dollar game by any stretch. But you can add it to your PS4 collection right now for about twenty-seven bucks and for that, it’s worth the return.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle is a retired hellraiser and current author living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. He writes Battle Scifi/Fantasy (Star Wars meets Street Fighter) that’s currently available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes& Noble, and most other major retailers. Let’s Connect!

Splitting September

Image Copyright @Baltimore Ravens

This is September football. It’s the opening jabs of a fight or the first salvo in conflict. We don’t know where all thirty-two teams will end up when the season ends. We can only make educated guesses as to who will still be around for January football. Still, it’s hard to not become apprehensive of the Baltimore Ravens, who, like a handful of teams in the NFL, is sitting at 2-2 and squarely in the middle of the road at the end of September.

The record isn’t as concerning as how they got there. Following a decisive victory against the Flacco-led New York Jets in week one, the Ravens gave up what can only be described as the most complete breakdown in defensive history, allowing the Dolphins to storm back and win from a 28-14 deficit. 

I look at the box score and still can’t believe it. The Dolphins scored twenty-eight points in the fourth quarter alone. How much did the Ravens score, you ask? Three. They scored three whole points. 

The following week showed promise with the Ravens beating the Patriots at Foxborough. En route to a 37-26 victory, Mike McDonald’s unit forced a fumble and picked off Mac Jones three times. It always feels good to beat the vaunted Patriots in their own house. We had hope.

Then, history repeated itself. The Ravens built up a seventeen-point lead against the Buffalo Bills, one of the best teams in the league right now, and then just…stopped. John Harbaugh’s call to go for it on fourth down from the two will be eviscerated for days, but the truth is, the problems with this team run far deeper than that. This was evidenced by the enthusiastic exchange between John Harbaugh and Marcus Peters as the Bills proceeded to kick the game away.

Like it or not, the Baltimore Ravens are an average team with a lot of talent on the roster right now.

Jodan Poyer (#21) picks off Lamar Jackson in the end zone on fourth down as Devin Duvernay (#13) delivers the hit

Let’s start with the obvious. John Harbaugh made the right call to go for it on fourth down. It just didn’t go the way we’d hoped. Lamar Jackson is an absolute phenom who will immediately elevate to legendary status when he gets over the playoff hump. Devin Duvernay is a solid pass-catcher (he was 4 of 5 for 52 yards in the Bills game alone). JK Dobbins has exploded in his return, and do I really need to say anything more about Mark Andrews? Sometimes, you call a play and the defense has your number. This was one of those times. Yes, Justin Tucker could’ve kicked the automatic field goal, Tyler Bass could’ve taken the game to overtime, or maybe Baltimore’s defense would’ve stepped up again and we’d all be in better spirits instead of gnashing our teeth. But when you have a generational talent on your team like Lamar Jackson, who is playing better than he did in his MVP season, you go for it on the two-yard line. I can’t even believe this is up for debate.

No, while Lamar Jackson and the offense have been far from perfect, as anyone who has seen this team play a second half can attest, the blame is not solely on them. We need to talk about this defense.

Marcus Peters (#24) is restrained after a frank exchange of ideas with head coach John Harbaugh. Image courtesy of Larry Brown Sports.

Put simply, I have no idea what Mike McDonald is trying to accomplish here. Best I can tell, this is a hungry, ball-hawking, feast-or-famine defense that is starving just as much as it is thriving. This defense throttled an aging quarterback in Joe Flacco and a young one in Mac Jones, but against more potent offensives, they’ve struggled. The reason for this is the great mystery of September. This defense has played the first half of every game exceptionally well. Then, when the team builds a double-digit lead, you literally watch them drop back into soft zone coverage and get devoured. We watched it yesterday with Buffalo. After the offense put seventeen points on the board, the defense stopped playing so close to the line. Josh Allen sent short shots up the middle before taking the top off the defense. When that didn’t work, he just took it himself. Let’s not omit Devin Singletary, who carried eleven times for almost fifty yards, capped off by a short burst that saw Calais Campbell visibly express his frustration. 

The ship is not sinking, but it’s not moving, either. It’s still just September. There’s a long season ahead. With the Bengals, Browns, Buccaneers, and Giants on the schedule, there’s plenty of time to get it right. But it needs to begin this week, and hopefully, they figure things out before taking on division rival, and current AFC North champion, Cincinnati Bengals at home next week.

Thanks for reading.

Avery K. Tingle, the Gamer Author is a recovering sex addict and trauma survivor. He writes science fiction, fantasy and about life from his perspective. The Rogue Christian espouses that God loves the LGBTQIA+ Community, equal rights, and what a woman does with her body is her business. An avid NFL and Baltimore Ravens fan, he resides in Las Vegas with his wife, a Seahawks fan, and their two cats.

I Didn’t Know.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

I’ve never written a book before. Not really. I’ve written dozens of shorts, but they’re easy for me to write. Especially if they’re in an established universe. When I wrote Reclamation (delisted), the premise was simple; tell a story of revenge that brought the Castlevania formula to literature. There was one point of view. A character battled his way through ever-changing landscapes, contending with his former comrades, until making his way to the ‘final boss’ where they both faced a reckoning. It was not a difficult book to write. My (gracious) editors did most of the work. But the truth is, I didn’t let it in.

Namesake is different. I’m almost a third of the way through this book. I thought that if I did all of the right things: listened to the right podcasts, applied the right lessons, and did the right planning, I could somehow dodge the difficulty of writing a book and simply let the words flow out of me. I was wrong.

What began as one point of view turned into three. What began as a simple task, writing two to three thousand words per day, turned into writing a set number of pages because tracking word counts were too overwhelming. The first act alone required more research and fleshing out than I ever imagined, which in turn resulted in rewrites (something I wanted to avoid during the first draft) that brought more cohesion but caught me time.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve leapt up in the middle of the night to record a thought or passage that had to get out of my head. The story has literally threatened to explode out of my brain, causing insomnia and the strangest sleep cycles. I find myself both looking forward to and dreading getting up in the morning, that first cup of coffee, and the blank screen.

I didn’t know writing a book would be so many things, all at once. A crashing wave of euphoria and exhilaration that also threatens to drown and consume you. I didn’t know what the cost of writing this book would be, how my sleep schedules would be thrown so completely out of whack I barely know what day it is.

I cannot wait to finish this book, and I cannot wait to go through all of this again.

Thanks for reading.

Let’s Talk About Street Fighter 6

Image Copyright Capcom USA

Capcom dropped its first big trailer for Street Fighter 6 last week, giving us our first look at the grandfather of all fighting games (are some of us really that old?). Capcom appears to be repeating some of the design patterns that gave us Street Fighter 3, while hopefully avoiding some of the pitfalls that made the game a low point in the series. Let’s get into it.

1). Open-World Gameplay?
Street Fighter 6 alludes to the idea of an open world. We see a non-roster character traversing Metro City, climbing ladders using Shoto-inspired moves to destroy obstacles. This would be a welcome addition, allowing everyone to bring custom fighters into the mix against mainstays and even tournament play. I’m looking forward to seeing this fleshed out.

2). New Arrivals and Elder Statesmen

Image Copyright Capcom USA

Series mainstays Ryu and Chun Li have come a long way since their youthful days of Street Fighter 2. Ryu, presumably having learned everything he could from his master Gouken, has shed his gi for the robes of a monk. He also has permanent facial hair now. It’s been long postulated that Ryu spends his latter years as a peaceful warrior residing in a monastery. Those years may not be far off.

Meanwhile, the First Lady of Fighting Games can be seen casually sparring with a youthful newcomer. Her hands are clasped behind her back as she moves gracefully around her opponent before lightly kicking her in the back of the head. Considering what Chun Li’s legs are capable of, we know she’s not taking this match seriously.
Street Fighter 5’s Luke is also featured (may he be a bit more balanced this time around) and drunken master newcomer Jaime is also featured. I’m sure we’ll get more characters as the roster fills out.

3). Familiar Gameplay Mechanics
The trailer features a healthy dose of gameplay. We see an emphasis on parries and clashes, though how they’ll work out in actual play is still anyone’s guess. There seems to be more of a dramatic presentation when it comes to a successful parry, while clashes appear to let the match go either way.

4). Some Mainstays are Still Missing.
Ken Masters has been mysteriously absent from Street Fighter 6, and one has to wonder with his family and responsibilities if the character has been retired. Or will he be in the first batch of DLC? Personally, I’m most excited for the return of Guile, Akuma, and hopefully Kage. With Ryu having apparently mastered his dark side, I’m curious as to what other manifestations his character produces.

I’ve been playing Street Fighter since the very beginning. I’ve been excited for each one of its incarnations, and six is no exception. I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here, and what Capcom gives us this time around. I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for reading.

Dead Children.

I can’t imagine it, though my mind seems to want to. I force myself to, just in case I’m ever in a position to affect change.

It’s not the violence I imagine. It’s the aftermath.

It’s the people who have to walk through the classrooms, and lock things into memory they will never forget. It’s pools of blood, drying and sticking to the ground. It’s shell casings, their insides black and spent. They litter the classroom floor. It’s the bodies. Not all of them are whole. All of them are dead. All of them are riddled with bullet holes. Their clothes are pockmarked and bloodstained. Some of them closed their eyes as they died. Others didn’t. Their eyes are wretchedly open, clear, and empty. Some of them didn’t reach their tenth year.

I think about the mop that hits the ground. The bodies have all been picked up, zipped into bags, and taken away. The mop cleans the blood. Soap turns the blood pink as it fades. Soon, it’s gone.

There have been more than three thousand mass shootings since Sandy Hook. This will almost inevitably happen again. What I don’t understand, and never hope to understand, is how anyone can look upon this and think this is normal.

I’m too sensitive, I hear. This sort of thing happens every day. That doesn’t make it okay. That actually makes things far, far worse. This sort of thing should not happen every single day.

It’s the cost to bear arms, I hear. This one makes me want to throw up. No one’s rights should be above a child’s life. That we’ve allowed ourselves to come to this point is tantamount to justifying sociopathy. Children should not die for other people’s rights.

I’m an American citizen and I’m proud of my country. I love our diversity. But I cannot be blind to our toxicity. Children should not be paying the price for our apathy, and avarice. Parents should not be afraid of sending their children to school. And every single one of our elected officials should be ashamed of themselves for allowing, and in some cases, encouraging this. Then again, I don’t know if some of our officials can even feel shame.

Once again, I hope this sort of thing never happens again. Until then, never, ever ask me to be okay with dead children. You say I am too sensitive. I say you’re not sensitive enough.

Thanks for reading.

This article is dedicated to the memory of the Robb Elementary School Shooting on May 24, 2022. We failed you.

Learn To Love Losing

I’m going to say it. I love losing.

Not nearly as much as I love winning. I mean, I’m an American. Of course, I love victory. But I love losing almost as much. Even the “you never should’ve been on the same planet as the person who just waxed you” types of losses. I love those too.

Losing is a gift. It’s a full toolbox that allows you to analyze everything you did wrong. So, hopefully, you don’t lose again. At least, you find better ways to lose.

I’ve mained Ryu in the Street Fighter franchise for as long as I can remember. He’s not just a game character to me; he’s a key part of my identity. The relentless pursuit of self-improvement is an honorable goal. It also keeps you out of other people’s business.

Something changed in Street Fighter 5. My skills have diminished over the years, no doubt, but there was more than that. The timing for everything was all wrong. I didn’t have the same synchronicity with the character as I once had. Letting go of this character after thirty years was difficult, but when something is no longer working, sometimes you have to let go. So I picked up his darker version, Kage. I rediscovered the timing I had with Ryu. I worked on new combos, new strategies, even uploaded some of my practice to youtube. So I hopped onto the casuals and battle lounges, ready to show the world there was a new Kage.

And then I got my ass kicked. I was so bad. Embarrassingly so. Even as I write this, I’m sitting on a 2-7 record with the character.

The first time I played, I got destroyed.

The second time I played, I still got destroyed, but I came closer to winning that time around.

The third game brought no victory, but I learned to work projectiles into my game plan.

The fourth time, I lost, but I wasn’t destroyed. I took a round off my opponent.

The fifth time, I won. Barely, but I won.

For the first time tonight, after losing seven matches, I put my most complete game plan together and walked away with a perfect victory.

I love losing because it provides the best opportunity to learn. Learning is how you grow and improve.

The same thing can be applied to any endeavor. You have to be bad before you can be good at something. You have to pay your dues, take your licks, and put in the time before you start to see results.

Remember that, when you think your first draft is crap.

Thanks for reading.