“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Semisonic, “Closing Time”, 1998
It’s been too long since I wrote something in here last, but I’ve had a bit of a trying few months – both good, in that tomorrow is my one-year anniversary with a lovely young woman I adore, some more personal issues, actively working hard to have stories worth publishing or requesting representation for, and good old-fashioned procrastination. But never fear, today I’m posting something I wrote in the aftermath of a fateful Monday morning, when I received bad news in public.
That’s always a good time, ain’t it?
You’ve probably guessed what it is from the title of this post, but I wanted to put some thoughts together after it occurred – crystalize what’s going on in my head, how I’m feeling about it, what I’ll be working to do going forward. This one isn’t a “good” post, but it is a reflective post, and one the likes of which I’ve (sadly) written of before.
Should you choose to, thanks for reading, friends.
I haven’t missed the NIS America annual press event since I started going in 2010 or so, and yesterday I spent my evening mulling over video games, musing over cocktails (well, ginger beer in my case) and pizza, and listening to professional nerds tell me about their upcoming products. It’s my favorite event of the year simply because they produce the types of games I’m personally interested in most: dungeon-crawler RPGs and Disgaea.
Disgaea is love. Disgaea is life.
Last night, they were showing an obscene number of titles for the modestly-sized company they are – 19 in total, up from the 8 they showed in 2016 – ranging from visual novels like PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness, to their powerhouse murder-mystery series Danganropa, to the afore-mentioned Disgaea 5 Complete for the upcoming Nintendo Switch. The biggest news was that all of the titles they named would be released at some point in the 2017 calendar year, but that only matters if the games are any good, so it’s worth taking a look over the full list.
Cosplay is more than simply dressing up as a preferred character; it’s a form of self-expression, identifying with a (usually fictional) character on a level beyond simple admiration or appreciation. It takes time and effort to dress up like a favorite superhero or video game fighter or animated antagonist, and that time is hard to invest when the character means either nothing or next-to-nothing to the cosplayer. And the results are usually incredible – I’ve seen wonderful depictions of Chun-Li from Street Fighter, Green Arrow, Patty Mayonnaise, various colors and generations of Power Rangers, there’s not enough time to break down how solid they are and how they’re portrayed.
That said, it should also be noted that many of the most popular characters in many mediums popular in the United States – video games, film, comics, other mediums, and including the characters I listed above – are predominantly white. Especially the biggest names, like Batman or Wolverine or Wonder Woman or Ms. Marvel, have historically been caucasian. And many superheroes are more than only white, they’re men. They may be diverse in their power set, or their personality profiles, or their backstories, the biggest and generally most popular (and profitable) have been white men.
Because of this, most noteworthy cosplayers are dressing up like them. But during Black History Month, there’s the hashtag #28DaysOfBlackCosplay, displaying some of the great displays of my melanin-rich friends taking over the cape and/or cowl of their favorite characters, making them their own. And more than the few characters of color like Storm or Black Panther, cosplayers are taking on traditionally white characters like Captain America and Superman.
And this is AWESOME.
It’s about time we had a talk about the death penalty in the United States (again). If you don’t want to read more about this topic, I don’t blame you. I don’t really want to think about it either. But once I read the headline and read the article, I had a few thoughts run through my head, and this post will be one where I try to work through them.
Feel free to skip this one if you’d like. But it’s here if/when you decide to come back.
After the year that was 2016, with a ton of celebrity deaths (of celebrities people actually liked, like David Bowie and Carrie Fisher) and the election of a xenophobic candy corn here in the US, I could always find some kind of solace in a good book. And I got through 23 of them this year, which is a happy number, since my goal is at least 20 every year.
2016 has been an interesting year, and not one I would like to forget any time soon from its upsides (instead of as a cautionary political tale). I started dating a sweetheart of a human being, two of my best friends got married, I attended some awesome press events even if I subsequently took a break from being a professional video game critic late in the year. I interviewed a sitting world champion of pro wrestling (AJ Styles, the best wrestler on the planet with or without the belt) and attended my sixth E3. I moved into a new room. Got my first two tattoos.
It’s been a productive year, when I really sit down and think about it. And 2017 is going to be better, because I’m going to MAKE it better.
Like I did with the 2015 list, here is the list of what I read, along with a two-sentence review and a final score. Hope this might help tune you into some good books for your 2017!
Back in August of 2016, I did my first review of hardware of any kind: my now-standard headphones, the Kingston HyperX CloudX Pro Gaming Headset. In June the pair were dropped in front of me, and I played with them over two months to see if they were really worth the effort. And damned if they were, I now take the clamshell with me every time I leave the house with my work bag. (And wherever else I may be when I need a pair of headphones, for that matter.)
As I said in the review, I’ve owned my fair share of crappy headphones that just can’t do the trick the way a high-quality $100 pair can. But sometimes, an inexpensive pair can get a person through some rough times when carrying a bulky pair just isn’t in the cards. And tonight, I bought the cheapest pair I’ve ever owned of physical headphones, from my favorite cheap-o store.
Being as how I haven’t written a proper review of anything in a little while, I thought I might break that cycle and lay down the law on that new pair. Simply because they’re not only better than I thought, but that their price led me to believe.
I’m going to admit something upfront: I’m not any specific expert on our political system. The California school system has a reputation for not being the best in the country, and that’s been my entire educational experience. (Well, that and being one of those people that’s spent hours at a time scrolling through Wikipedia, checking some sources as I go.) So, everything I say here should be taken with a spoonful of salt. But I’ll cite my sources where I feel them necessary, and hopefully what I have to type will have some merit.
This post is going to be about elections. I’ll do my best to keep my statistics correct and searchable, and my opinions measured until it’s time for me to weigh in. This isn’t meant to be a partisan post, only a response after one of the most contentious elections in presidential history (and to be blunt, the most divisive in my lifetime). More than that, this is meant to be informational without being pretentious; understandable without insulting anyone at all. After everything I think it’s time for a little cold water and context. After educating myself a bit, I thought I might add my thoughts into the heated discussion.
So, let’s have a conversation about the Electoral College and why it’s important… and what I think would make it better. (Hint: It’s a simple solution that won’t work.)
On Veteran’s Day, since I work from home and Starbucks on a regular basis, I have taken to one tradition: I leave about six dollars and a large cup on the counter for the next veteran to come in. It’s a small gesture – I can’t be too big anyway, I’ve been financially strapped enough over the past few years – as a “thank you” to those who have served our country and its military conflicts. It’s not much, but it’s something I can do to give thanks as a grateful person who respects those who have given their all for my right to speak and think and live as I wish.
So at my local Starbucks here in the California Bay Area, that cup is waiting. I wrote “Thank You” on it so you know it’s for you. Hopefully I won’t be the only one doing this.
Here’s to a sober and reflective Veteran’s Day, everyone.
First, and most importantly: How are you? Are you alright?
Secondly: How did it get to this point?
I’ve never felt this disenfranchised in my life as a result of an election. And this will get a bit ranty, but I need to say something. So, here’s my two cents. Take them or don’t.