Dream On

Aug. 3rd, 2011 09:12 am
mistersandman: (Default)
I leave the States tomorrow. While I am in China I'll probably update a different blog. With all due respect to Dreamwidth, I don't know if it's accessible enough to the general populace, which knows that any self-respecting blog is on wordpress or whatever. Not that this was a terribly self-respecting blog. The majority of entries here were written during a frankly awful period in my life and I do not believe I will look back on those times or these entries with any fondness.

Saying goodbye has been really

really

hard.


Goodbye.
mistersandman: (Default)
Working on a project again and I don't have a lot of time to finish it. It would be great if I could actually FINISH a project this summer. Fingers crossed...
mistersandman: (hahaha)


This looks so so promising. Pixar seems to be one of the few film studios out there who place any kind of importance on giving movies a heart and soul, even before commercial interests. WALL-E and Up are two of my favorite movies, without condition. They are some of the finest children's movies ever made, but they are also meditations on, love, grief, and friendship as well as the consequences of a culture of waste.

I'm so glad Pixar is making another standalone film, or at the very least, a film that isn't a sequel. I enjoyed Toy Story 3, but I, like the character Andy, have moved on. The world didn't need another Toy Story, and I wish these characters hadn't been brought out of their box after 15 years simply for the $2.8 billion in merchandising sales.

Cars 2 is an even more heinous crime. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the characters of the original Cars were beloved by exactly no one. At least, so I believed until I found out the first Cars movie somehow generated nearly ten billion dollars in merchandise. My skin crawls.

I'm ready to love again.
mistersandman: (Default)
I haven't been sleeping well. I always wake up troubled by the last night's dreams. I don't remember a lot about these dreams (if I did, I wouldn't describe them, nothing more dull than listening to a stranger drone about their dreams) but for the past two weeks they've been overwhelmingly characterized by regret, grief, sometimes anger. I wish I knew why.

Today I have to work on my visa. Afterwards, I'll meet up with one of my friends and we'll continue watching the Lord of the Rings. We're two thirds through The Two Towers. I don't think we'll bother with Return of the King because she saw it years ago. These movies are kind of a bitch to schedule, each a three hour epic, so the whole thing has taken on the appearance of a chore. Still, I feel like every "nerd" has to at least see LotR, especially if they have any interest in fantasy. She worked on a fantasy novel for two years, was a huge fan of Harry Potter in primary school, plays Dungeons and Dragons and still doesn't have the cultural background of Lord of the Rings.

To me, this is like trying to learn Chinese without understanding radicals or becoming a baker without ever giving flour much thought. Like it or not, every modern fantasy novel is somehow informed by Lord of the Rings, if not directly derivative of it. The obvious question is "so what?" To continue the string of awkward similes, aren't I just giving sex ed to someone who's been with twenty people?

That was a metaphor and I have no intention of restructuring that sentence.

...

Anyway, I'm a historian. Of course I'm going to think knowing who your grandaddy is is important. Understanding the literary roots of a work adds a great deal of nuance. In the case of Lord of the Rings, I think it's important to know the extent to which fantasy owes LotR a debt so you can appreciate the guys who are working to step out of Tolkien's shadow.
mistersandman: (SHAME)
I don't work at the Inspector General anymore. I have needs, and not all of these needs can be sustained by the knowledge of a job well done and the satisfaction of bringing criminals to justice. Bruce Wayne is a millionaire, I'm a guy who still has visa fees to pay and gas tanks to fill. I can't bike everywhere! :(

After a 3 AM Craigslist binge I came away with a few prospects in Philadelphia and in Pittsburgh. One phone interview later, I became a part-time employee of CertaPro Painters, a national paint company that is locally family owned, which translates to: at one point in his life, my boss Leah bought a CertaPro franchise. Now CertaPro (the national company) constantly demands tribute like a bloated feudal lord. Customers of CertaPro get the worst of both worlds: the lack of resources and skill of a small company combined with the impersonal rushjobs of a national company.

I'm in marketing (assertive marketing, no less), but I actually have to know next to nothing about the company itself. My job is to go from door to door in Mt. Airy and other "nice" Philadelphia neighborhoods and schedule appointments for "free estimates." I get ten dollars for every scheduled appointment. Unfortunately, so far I've been really good at my job. I've had a lot of luck scheduling appointments and now Leah thinks I'm some kind of magic advertising machine. Nothing worse than a low-paying job with high expectations. I'm sure I'll survive.

I actually rather enjoy working for CertaPro. In a lot of ways, I'm being paid to take a long walk and talk to people. On weekends, everyone is usually in the mood for a chat, but after work on weekdays, you get more of the typical Philadelphia brotherly love: angry glares, baleful stares, and slammed doors.

Not as many characters as you would hope. There was one bifurcated house where I was rather hoping one of the residents would answer the door. One door had a poem dedicated to trees and a small rainbow in the corner. The other had an NRA sticker and a weird decal that made the window look like it was on fire with the word APOCALYPSE in fiery letters at the top. These neighbors probably get along well.

The most awesome person I met (who didn't contribute to my financial well-being) was a woman who was talking on the phone when I passed her. "I work at a club-I don't want to marry you, I just want to make a few bucks."



On Wednesday, I'm meeting with the Democratic Party of Montgomery County for a similar canvassing job.  Knowing Montgomery County, these people will probably not be Democratic and working for them will not be a party.  I'm okay with that.  It's not like every job has to be fulfilling on a philosophical level, just as long as it is fiscally fulfilling.  It's the story of my parents' generation!

What's the story of my generation?

This, probably.
mistersandman: (Default)
The megabus rockets down the New Jersey Turnpike towards Philadelphia. I'm sitting in the front row on the top level and I have to say, there's nothing quite like traveling in this way. It's as if you're riding a large air-conditioned elephant; you feel every bump and rattle, but the view is fantastic.

About twenty hours ago, I met China Mieville in a small bar in Brooklyn. The man is absolutely amazing - articulate, intelligent, and extremely kind. He read a rather esoteric passage from his latest novel Embassytown and promised the audience of about sixty people that it would all make sense when we finished the book.

There was an amusing moment when Les Grossman walked onstage to begin the interview portion of the event. Grossman is white and bald -- save for China's tattoos and the fact that Mr. Mieville looks like he could bench a truck, the two could have been brothers.

Grossman began by asking a few questions about Embassytown - with an emphasis on comparison to China's earlier work.

Obviously, Embassytown primarily focuses on themes of language and how language defines us - building on philosophies espoused by Søren Kierkegaard while also homaging authors that influenced the young Mieville such as Ursula le Guin and M Thomas Harding. Mieville would go on to explain that the beauty of fiction is that you can play with grand philosophical notions while also having "spaceships and exciting chases and so on."

For Mieville, language has been a fascination from a young age and as such has played a role in many of his books, notably The Scar and Kraken. However, now that he has written a book primarily about languages, he doubts that he will revisit language with such focus again, much as how he doubts he will write another book as political as Iron Council again until he had something to say on the subject to avoid being "camp."

China does not have the same sort of anatomical understanding of the Hosts, the two-mouthed aliens of Embassytown, as he does the many fantastic races in his New Crobuzon (anti-)trilogy written during his "Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) phase." A D&D enthusiast since age 12, Mieville recently licensed a Bas Lag RPG although he doubts he will return to the universe in a literary sense. Mieville believes one problem that plagues fantasy writers and readers is that too frequently, one stops enjoying a setting and starts living that setting. For example, Mieville referenced a "bad time" when he watched Buffy because he was so enamored with the setting.

At the mention of Buffy, an audience member or two whooped; judging by Mieville's expression, it was this exact moment that confirmed his suspicion that he was surrounded by dorks - a suspicion doubtlessly raised by the enthusiastic response he received when he revealed he played a Chaotic Good Ranger in D&D as a lad.

China sported a new tattoo at the event. The new "skulltopus" is a small tribute to the idea of death (skull) meeting the ineffable (octopus). China briefly flexed his immense knowledge of octopuses ("not octopi, how's that for a mindfuck?") but refrained from going into great depth for fear of being too dry.

An audience member, impressed with China's ability to describe the indescribable queried where China himself has experienced the ineffable. Given the phrasing of the question, I nearly expected a recommendation for where to get rolls of acid on the cheap, but as Mieville would later quote Kipling while signing my book: "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug."

Mieville explained how man has always been searching for the sublime, how Romantic poets would climb tall mountains and be overwhelmed by by the vast countryside stretching beneath them. Personally, China Mieville finds the sublime in several writers, not just weird fiction by the likes of Lovecraft, but also in Jane Eyre.
Go figure.

The audience was the biggest disappointment of the night.

The crowd was predominantly white and predominantly male, but not as male as I expected. There were many couples in attendance and I wasn't enough of a creeper to figure out who dragged whom to the event. The median age, as far as I could tell, was late twenties/early thirties; the average dragged up by four or five persons whom I would liberally describe as "old people."
China referred to the venue Public Assembly as a punk bar. If that is the case, none of the regular clientele were there. It's safe to say that everyone there deserved to be shoved into a locker at some point in their life - Mieville himself acknowledged "none of us are cool."

I was surprised to discover that many audience members were only casual fans of Mieville; some only came to add another autographed book to their collection. I could tell many did not agree with Mieville's political views, worse, it seemed some were amused by them. One question clumsily attempted to get a rise out of Mieville ("do you feel guilty making money"), as if political radicals were capuchins in small cages that will throw shit at the sight of a peanut. China handled the situation with aplomb, answering that while he felt guilty about a lot of things, he had no difficulty reconciling his profession with this political leanings.

I sounded like a tool when I finally got to meet Mieville personally. I told him I was from Philadelphia and that I rather hoped that Orciny was real. In the gentlest terms possible, he told me that was kind of the point. Hoping to recover some dignity, I babbled a heartfelt thanks to him for what he has done for the genre - avoiding such outdated tropes as Chosen Ones and the superiority of monarchies and he thanked me and then I wandered for an hour through Brooklyn looking for my friend's flat.
mistersandman: (Default)
With regard to relationships, I've learned only one thing, which is pretty embarrassing if you think about it. But I think this is a valuable lesson: you've got to take chances on people. Everyone is interesting in their own way, even if it isn't immediately obvious.

For example:

A kid who I've basically always regarded as being a schmoozing peacock invited me to go on a bike ride with him in celebration of memorial day. I acquired a bike and happily accepted. Little did I know that by 'bike ride' he meant a six-and-a-half hour long journey across 35 miles on highways, backroads, trailpaths, and construction zones.

Fifteen years ago, people were friends with their neighbors regardless of political views or common interests because those people were all they had. Today, we have so much more freedom when it comes to friendships because we can easily keep in contact with friends all over the world. We have friends online who we may never actually have met in person. These friendships are no less valid, but I wonder if we have become less tolerant as a society, if our ability to interact and enjoy the company of different people has atrophied somewhat.

Just something to think about.
mistersandman: Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory (reversal!)
Slow morning at the Inspector General. "Look at your horoscope," my supervisor wisely suggested. I decided to do something else: expand upon a silly idea that [personal profile] magneticwave and I joked about last night.  I find that some of the best ideas start out as jokes.  But then, the entirety of my completed work could be described as "a joke."

Whatever.  I'm enthusiastic about this project and I'm going to ride that wave until it crashes upon the cold stone shore of reality.

The idea is to create an RPG based on the beloved tropes of our childhood--that is, 1990s pop culture.  The best example is the only example I have right now--the character classes.

VAMPIRE SLAYER
PITH +0
MOXIE +2
IMAGINATION +0
COMPETENCE +0
FRISKINESS +2
PULCHRITUDE +2

I didn't watch Buffy.  To be honest, there's a lot I didn't watch during the 90s (too busy reading!).

So I don't quite know what to do with this class.  Vampire Slayers would get some bonus against magical creatures, such as...

HOGWARTS EXCHANGE STUDENT
PITH +0
MOXIE -1
IMAGINATION +4
COMPETENCE +2
FRISKINESS -2
PULCHRITUDE +0

None-too-subtle tribute to Harry Potter.  Young wizards/witches would fight with a variety of basic spells derived from their imagination?  That seems apt to me.  [personal profile] bartlebyslament has made some very astute comments about magic systems which I'm definitely going to keep in mind as I develop this system.  For now, I'm going to continue to borrow heavily from 4th Edition D&D: some spells you can cast all the time, others... you can't. We'll see.

POKEMON TRAINER
PITH +0
MOXIE -2
IMAGINATION +0
COMPETENCE +2
FRISKINESS +0
PULCHRITUDE +0

So there was basically no way there wasn't going to be a POKEMON reference here.  Pokemon trainers have fewer than the typical +6 stats because obviously, their POKEMON will be doing most of the fighting for them!  Duh.  Assuming someone even decides to be a Pokeguy, I'll work out how those mechanics work.  During character creation, the player picks one of six(?) POKEMON to start out: BULBASAUR, CHARMANDER, SQUIRTLE, EEVEE, PIKACHU, or ABRA.  Pokemon would generally be very powerful, but have low SALUBRITY.  Trainers would be able to capture wild enemy pokemon, or even steal defeated trainer's pokemon with a high enough COMPETENCY roll.

Or something.  I'm flexible. 

There's so much copyright infringement going on that we can afford to be totally ridiculous.  No one is going to take this seriously, and I'm fine with that.  Writing serious things is hard for me, because it requires me to be in a serious mood.  Writing horror is a little frustrating, because I sometimes refuse to go to those places, mentally.

Moving on...

TEEN WONDER
PITH +2
MOXIE +1
IMAGINATION +0
COMPETENCE +1
FRISKINESS +1
PULCHRITUDE +1

This isn't exactly intrinsically 90s, persay.  Small tribute to the superhero genre, specifically, Batman: The Animated Series and the rest of the DCAU which had a pretty tremendous influence on me when I was growing up.  Batman and Justice League were basically the only shows that I really got into as a kid.  Teen Wonders are relatively balanced, having benefited from the guidance of an older DO-GOODER. 

This is kind of a boring class. Then again, I think every game needs a balanced character, and there ought to be plenty of fun to be had when it comes to playing with the secret identity/superhero dynamic.  Nobody recognizes them if they put on glasses!  Hilarious.  Maybe. 

....

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE
PITH +4
MOXIE +1
IMAGINATION +0
COMPETENCE -2
FRISKINESS +3
PULCHRITUDE -3

Originally, this was the POWER RANGER class, but I know shit about Power Rangers.  By comparison, what I know about TMNT is immense: basically everything you need to know about them is in the title.  And they love pizza.  Cowabunga, dudes.

ANIMORPH
PITH -2
MOXIE +0
IMAGINATION +0
COMPETENCE +1
FRISKINESS -1
PULCHRITUDE +0

I'm like the only person I know who read Animorphs as a kid.  It was a great series... for the first twenty-six books.  I never read the whole series; I gave up a few books before it finally transitioned into the endgame and KA Applegate started writing the books once more.  They're actually rebooting the series, removing a lot of the 90s references for the new generation.  Blasphemy.  For me, Animorphs is quintessentially and unapologetically nineties.  Most of those stories couldn't work in a world with cell phones and instant communication, anyway.

The Animorph class is supposed to be useless, incapable of attacking while human.  In order to be worthwhile in combat, they must transform into an animal of some kind.  They would also be able to steal the DNA of enemies, assuming they could touch them while in human form.  Of course, if they stay in any given morph for too long, they are trapped in that form, forever!  Switching between morphs heals the characters.

SK8ER BOI / SK8ER GRRL
PITH +0
MOXIE +0
IMAGINATION -2
COMPETENCE +0
FRISKINESS +6
PULCHRITUDE +1

They're fast and frisky... and not much else.  Somewhere along the way, someone decided skateboarding was cool and we have suffered for it ever since.  SK8ERS get XTRA movement and can also retreat after performing an action.  Can't think of anything else to do with this class right now.

KID DETECTIVE
PITH -4
MOXIE +1
IMAGINATION +1
COMPETENCE +3
FRISKINESS +0
PULCHRITUDE +3

Young adult fiction rests solidly on the premise that a young tyke will have the imagination and the moxie to solve problems that adults can't.  Which is why I gave this class lots of competence and pulchritude.  This is designed to be a utility class, the member of the team who can pick locks or charm their way out of fights.

---

There's probably no way in hell this is actually balanced.  We can adjust as we go.  Hopefully, there will be something for everyone.

As for potential enemies, I have no idea.  WILD POKEMON, UNRULY CLASSMATES, GOTH BARBARIANS are eventually outshadowed by HIDEOUS MUTANTS, INCOGNITO POP STARS, PLANETEERS, and of course the VICE PRINCIPAL.  I don't think I've refined the system to a point where I can actually think about a story yet.  Something goofy and fun that serves to teach a lesson in friendship and can be wrapped up in no more than four sessions.

A group of TEENAGERS WITH ATTITUDE discover a couple of thugs who are up to no good; searching for the LEGENDARY POWER GLOVE that will give them untold power over reality itself!  Right now I'm more about interesting character interaction and gameplay than I am story.  This is kind of a change for me.  We'll see how it goes.

mistersandman: (SHAME)
This is ridiculous. I'm designing a logo for a fictional company that I'm not sure I want to include in my story. I could be up all night working on this, but it won't get me any closer to actually WRITING SOMETHING DOWN.
mistersandman: (watchmen)
If this is the last week before Armageddon, I've totally squandered it. But everyone knows the party doesn't start until after the Rapture, so I don't feel too bad about it. Work at the Inspector General has been amazing, but of course I can't tell anyone much about life at OIG. At home, things have been pretty dull. One of my friends returned from college and we've spent a lot of time at his house, hanging out with the new dog and his family (to say nothing of his sister's friends still in high school who are nearly omnipresent).

There hasn't been much room for satisfying interaction.

In um, other news, I beat POKEMON.



JUPITER (ZAPDOS) was the first to fall. I didn't really give a fuck because I caught him about an hour before I went to INDIGO PLATEAU. ERIDAN (Nidoking) met his end against LANCE's dragons. Who knew that weird serpent dragons knew AURORA BEAM? Not me. Certainly not poor ERIDAN. He was a good soldier.

It was nice getting back in touch with my childhood with this challenge. I used to be into Pokemon in a big way when I was a kid. If Nintendo announced a Pokemon game for the Wii I'd get in line for it the very next day. Nostalgia is a powerful thing.
mistersandman: Friends are a nice thing to have... Could you be my friend, too? (happy dance)
As you might have inferred from my increased activity on this blog, I am incredibly bored. The most I have to look forward to in the immediate future is a month-long internship at the Inspector General. It's still up in the air, but hopefully that will kick off next week. I might also be able to go to Pittsburgh this weekend, but that also depends on the kindness of strangers, by which I mean my car-owning family. Four people in this house, three cars. Guess who gets priority?

If you guessed "not mistersandman" you were right!

And because my allergies have basically trapped me in the house, I've picked up an old hobby to pass the time. I will admit, it is not the coolest thing I could be into.

Pokemon!

My friends introduced me to the "Nuzlock Challenge," and I have been having a blast with that.

The rules, briefly:

1. You can only catch the first pokemon you encounter in every area.
2. You must nickname every pokemon you catch.
3. You must release every pokemon that faints in battle.

As you might guess, emotions can run pretty high. I've made my way to Fuchsia City,(though I've been rather lax about collecting badges) and it's been quite a ride!



ERIDAN (Nidoking) - A Good Soldier. Eridan has been with the team the longest. He's played many roles on the team and has never disappointed.

AFRODITE (Bellsprout) - Weed Control. Afrodite doesn't see a lot of combat. I think I put her in once. Mostly, it's nice to have someone who can CUT away bushes and tall grass.

CAPT.FATSO (Snorlax) - The Tank. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Captain Fatso. I caught him pretty recently and he's still sort of finding his place. I think I'll use him to take hits while I heal the rest of the team. Maybe I'll give him Body Slam or something.

MR. FISH (Gyarados) - The Messiah. For a while, all I had was Eridan, Mr. Fish, and a Butterfree. These were dark times, until Mr. Fish evolved from Splashy McGee into a fucking monster. After that, the good times never stopped.

JOKER (Haunter) - The Midnight Toker. I love Joker. I gave him Psychic, which makes him basically a god. He is also immune to many attacks, on account of not having a corporeal form! It's a shame that he'll never evolve, because I'm playing pokemon on my computer and thus I am unable to trade with anyone.  Also, he eats people's dreams.

Of course, there have been casualties. I lost MADREEFER (Ivysaur) and DEATHROCK (Graveller) in DIGLETT'S CAVE and YOUNGJEEZEY (Butterfree) in ROCK TUNNEL. Losing MADREEFER and DEATHROCK was especially hard, since the two of them were my power hitters (although both tragically weak to ground-type attacks).

mistersandman: Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory (pic#834203)
It's the kind of story that you hear in a Taylor Swift song: after nearly two years of being trapped a semi-abusive relationship, the hero of the story discovers that the love he was looking for was there all along.

Dr. McNinja, I'm sorry I left you. MSPaint Adventures was taking webcomics in new and exciting directions while you were still struggling to find your footing in the world of color. I was young.

I would *like* to be able to go pick up the new book that's being released TODAY to celebrate my return to the fold, since this is Dr. McNinja's first foray into actual comic book stores. Unfortunately, I've discovered that there are no nearby comic shops. For kicks, I plugged my zipcode into ComicShopLocator.com and discovered that there are no stores within an eight mile radius, which is to say, there are three comic book stores "nearby," each eight miles away.  It's like long ago, a nerd was beaten to death by a football player with a statue of Superman and my zipcode has become tainted ever since.

I could always walk.  Yesterday, I traveled to the next town on foot via the most circuitous route I could manage-across highways, fields, developments, forests.  I saw places I'd lived next to my whole life and never noticed.  I saw a three-way battle between a hawk, a goose, and a sparrow.  I was picking off ticks all day long, though.

Anyway, you know you're in trouble when you're so bored you walk for eight miles.  I had a dream last night where I got shot down from the places I'm going to apply for jobs/internships to.  And I just looked at an email that told me I needed to send in a document for my visa immediately... two days ago.  I don't want to be unemployed in September.  That would be so depressing.
mistersandman: Friends are a nice thing to have... Could you be my friend, too? (happy dance)
There's so much I've wanted to blog about the past few days--graduation, my dad getting married, etc., but perhaps the window to really talk candidly about those subjects has passed and we are into Summer and everything that comes with that. I've got a couple of goals for the summer, one of them I'm going to get started on as soon as I hit "Post to: mistersandman" is reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms in Chinese. I don't expect to get very far, but I'm going to attack it for an hour tonight and see how it goes.

Afterward, I'm going to get to work on my DREAD game. I just got off skype with my friend John (currently studying in Exeter). He's masterminded the majority of the games that we've played and it was really helpful to talk to him about some of the ideas and mechanics I wanted to play with. More on that later too, I guess.
mistersandman: (Default)
"Any where you want, any time you want. One condition: it has to be amazing."

Back to the Future was one of my favorite movies when I was growing up and ever since, I've loved time travel stories wherever they turned up, no matter how gimmicky. And then I come to college and I meet some people who are pretty into Doctor Who and it seems like it should be a really good fit, right? Only it isn't.

Maybe the problem is that my introduction to the series was the incomparable "Blink," which is a must for any fan of sci/fi or horror. Blink is an absolutely terrifying work of fiction. Doctor Who is mostly about a cheery British fellow who goes on fantastic adventures and uses time travel as a very loose framing device.



So if I apparently hate this guy so much, why would I want to put him on my badly-photoshopped phone? Because I like Doctor Who.
mistersandman: (watchmen)
What the hell. It's four in the morning and the only 'work' I've done tonight is copy and paste two essays into a new essay with an unfulfilled promise that I'd mesh the two later. As you can see, I'm taking the STALIN final exam very seriously.

This just goes to show I can't handle caffeine. At all. I had a pot of Earl Gray tea around seven tonight, mixed with some Banker's Note Vodka and I'm still wired. In case you were wondering, Banker's Note is abominable. I thought it would be of a greater or equal quality than the oft-maligned-but-drinkable Vladimir, since it cost a dollar extra. It is absolut shit. Too disgusting to drink straight, we've taken to mixing it in just about everything we drink in small amounts in a desperate attempt to get rid of the stuff.

I've wanted to go on a cross-country road trip since I read On The Road when I was 16 and just figuring out my way around a car. Tonight, it looks like that dream might finally become a reality, on account of the fact that we just secured a car for the trip. SCORE. More details to come!
mistersandman: (SHAME)
I fell out of touch with my thesis adviser after spring break. Can you blame me? I have class during his office hours and a busy schedule besides. The man does not check his email and rarely answers his phone. Moreover, I had shit I had to do. But now it's time to pay the piper and that essay on Chinese water policy isn't going to write itself.

I'm barely on the 14th page of my essay after three intense writing sessions. It seems like every paragraph has been a struggle. My adviser will tell me this is because I don't have a solid thesis when I finish speaking to him twelve hours from now. Can't wait. I'm worried he's going to hate this paper. His focus (and the focus of this thesis class) is American Wilderness Preservation History. When he gave me permission to write this bastard, it was a major show of faith. There's nothing I hate more than letting people down who "believe in me." Seriously, the worst thing the guy could ever have said to me is "You're a smart kid. You're getting an A."

It suddenly occurs to me that my college career will end with very little fanfare. If I'm going to attend my father's wedding on April 30 (I have to, I agreed to be Best Man), I need to have all scholarly business concluded by April 28 at the latest and there won't be much time to breathe in between for celebration. I have a Chinese final on Wednesday, another Chinese final on Thursday, a Stat final on Tuesday of next week, and a final Stalin paper to write. On top of that, I have to entertain my father for the entirety of Saturday, when he comes to take away everything I own from my house except the barest essentials.

After the 24th, I'll just be a ghost haunting an empty house with naught but my laptop and two pairs of clothes. Life after graduation is a mystery to me. Habitat for Humanity? Inspector General? Library volunteering?

???

Y34R 2

Apr. 13th, 2011 09:36 pm
mistersandman: (Default)
Homestuck, the latest epic by MSPaint Adventures auteur Andrew Hussie is two years old today. Last year, I wrote a long tribute that extolled MSPA as not only the future of webcomics, but the future of storytelling itself. I'm going to repost that now, because all of it is still true.

Ever since online comic strips moved away from two bros sitting on a couch or SNES sprites copied and pasted ad infinitum, webcomics have been hailed as The Next Big Thing in artistic expression. And why not? The internet gives exposure to talents that would otherwise have difficulty breaking into the exclusive club of newspaper strips or comic books. In many ways, online comics are preferable to their floppy counterparts. A print comic is considered to be a success if it sells 10,000 copies a month. When one factors in the costs of printing and distribution, this is not a greatly profitable business. On the other hand, even a modestly successful webcomic such as The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has a readership in the millions and is profitable enough that the author/illustrator doesn’t need a ‘real’ job to supplement his income. There are innumerable internet success stories. Although I do not consider myself to be any great purveyor of webcomicry, I can think of at least three examples of a web author who managed to get themselves into print, usually with collected print editions of their work, but sometimes with material unrelated to the source of their internet fame!

How long before we see xkcd: The Movie, true believers?

It’s all very exciting, but have we truly put this newfound medium to the test? When Citizen Kane was released in 1941, it was revolutionary because it changed the way film could tell a story. With new breakthroughs in cinematography and scripting, movies were no longer stageplays on film, they were a whole new artform. Have any webcomics to this day done for the internet what Citizen Kane did for film?

Well…

I’m not going to say that Andrew Hussie’s MS Paint Adventures is the Citizen Kane of webcomics, but I would like to draw your finite attention to some of the high quality work that Mr. Hussie puts out on a daily basis. (comparing anything to Citizen Kane sounds really pretentious and I wasn’t that crazy about the movie anyway.)

MS Paint Adventures began humbly on some online forum or another. Reminiscent of one of those terrifying text adventure games, or more familiarly, a Choose Your Own Adventure book, readers would submit suggestions for the author and the author would illustrate the consequences of those actions. In all of the webdom, it’s a very unique relationship, one that I would posit could not exist in any other medium. Although Hussie has moved away from the audience-driven narrative in his latest adventure, “Homestuck,” “Problem Sleuth,” which ran from March 2008 to April 2009 is almost entirely composed of reader suggestions.

Alone in the webcomic world, MSPA contains many interactive Flash pages, animated GIFs, and even musical numbers that, taken as a whole, result in one of the most distinctive online experiences you could look for. Aside from all of this gimmicky crap, the writing is simply top-notch, filled with entertaining neologisms, programming terminology, and incredibly hard-boiled lines. Most significantly, even minor characters have strong personalities that will stay with you long after the site gathers dust at the bottom of your cookie jar.

---

So here we are, one year later and I don't have a lot to say. There haven't been any major developments in the way Andrew tells his story. He's obviously made efforts to shake up the formula-quadrupling the cast to start, but the effect isn't quite the same. I can't tell if this is simply because my sense of wide-eyed admiration has expired, or if they were actually bad ideas implemented competently.

In any case, let's take a moment to celebrate the best thing to come out of the second year of Homestuck: Terezi Pyrope!!



A lot of people are turned off by Terezi because she T4LKS L1K3 TH1S, but the character has all of the stupid traits that I love: a blind badass detective who uses an omnipresent shit-eating grin and a loopy demeanor to disguise her incredible ability to calculate, manipulate, and otherwise ORCH3STR4T3S TH3 D3M1S3 OF TH3 W1CK3D.


Most of the interrogation is in the intimidating silence.
mistersandman: (hahaha)
Man. April already. How does that even happen? Tonight I'm going to really sink my teeth into my China water preservation essay. I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't break any new ground on this subject. There's basically no way I won't rely heavily on the two or three sources that I'm going to use. This is fine with me and I'm sure it's fine with my professor.

I've kind of lost touch with him, things have been a little busy!

Last week I got into a pretty heated argument on my friend's girlfriend's wall. I am the epitome of class. What was this fight over, you ask? The Elder Scrolls Oblivion. I wrote a long incoherent post about it on this blog once. I attacked the aesthetics of the game without properly getting at the root of the problem-how generic and white the game is.

In Morrowind, Bethesda had a game that examined the cultural, political, and psychological consequences of imperialism. Its sequel Oblivion reinforces and legitimizes traditional power structures run by white people. This, unfortunately, makes it similar to 90% of all fantasy. Not much more to be said on the subject. One of my friends (who thankfully agreed with me) argued that I should probably *beat* the game before I fully judge the way the game handles ruling by divine right, and legitimacy through succession. So I've been playing a lot of Oblivion.

I haven't given a lot of thought to my Dread Zombie Campaign One of my friends sent out questions for a game based on the universe of Avatar, the Last Airbender, and everyone's pretty excited about that. At least... I am. My response to the questions resulted in six pages worth of backstory written in the style of Outlaws of the Marsh (kind of).

I'm still going to do 'a' zombie game this summer. There's no telling whether or not it will be a campaign. I think I should have no more than three sessions--the logistics of getting the whole group together can be a bit of a nightmare.

This means that the probable outline of the campaign will be:
Radio Messiah
Post-Apocalyptic Road Trip
Return to Civilization

Things have been pretty great lately. I found out I'm leaving for China around August 4. YEAHH
mistersandman: (SHAME)
I went through my misguided photo-journal this afternoon.  It was a nice reminder of some fun things that happened last month, but it was also a reminder of how miserable I'd been during that time.  Maybe I'll see the value in capturing those memories in the more distant future?  For now, I'm just annoyed by the bad writing.
mistersandman: How would you feel if you had to put on a really stupid hat? (RAGE)
Life is full of wonderful small surprises, like finding a Chuck-E-Cheese token sitting on a park bench or having a pleasant conversation with a stranger on a bus. And then there are the other surprises.

I reserved Shenzhen: A Travelogue by Gary Delisle from the library. It was one of the few non-fiction books on Shenzhen in the library's collection and I wanted to get to know my future home a little better. When I finally got my hands on it, I was surprised to discover it was a comic book, entirely etched in charcoal.



Intrigued, I read the book in an afternoon between classes. To say the least, it filled me with loathing.

Read more... )

Christ, what an asshole.
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