15 January 2022
I've been struggling for a long long time to finish up Adventure Hunters: Time Judged All. It has taken me so much longer than I expected and I've encountered difficulties I never thought of. But one of the things I've noticed is that I'm not happy with the worldbuilding. Considering this is a sequel, I can't exactly start from scratch. Anything I change in TJA will have to be changed in Similitude as well to create consistency. With that in mind, I've decided to unpublish Similitude until I finish the sequel to a point where I am happy with it. That may mean changing Similitude only a little or it could lead to a major rewrite. The main part of my worldbuilding that I'm unhappy with is that I want it to be more Science Fantasy, with much more technology and such. Right now the world of DosShell lies in the realm of Low Fantasy. If there are any fans of Adventure Hunters, I hope you aren't disappointed with this. I do intend to get the sequel written. But until then, I'll shelve DosShell and the adventures of Artorius, Regina, and Lisa. Other websites have reviews of Similitude and I feel I need to be clear that it will be unavailable until Time Judged All is finished. As always, thank you for reading.
12 August 2021
I no longer want to go to the movies. And I'm okay with that.
When it was announced HBO Max and Disney+ would be releasing movies on their streaming services the same day they were hitting theaters, it caused quite an uproar. Filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan lambasted the studios, citing how movies are meant to be a big-screen experience.
I use to go to the cinema quite a lot, both in America and here in Japan (and I must say I prefer the Japanese experience better, although I prefer American concession stands). Then the pandemic came and I was forced to stay away. Only recently have I gotten streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. And when it was announced that some studios were releasing movies streaming and theatrically at the same time, I was intrigued.
And now I prefer it. I view that the cinema-going experience is dying, although it won't go away completely, in much the same way as drive-ins have not entirely disappeared.
Going to the movies is just too much of a hassle. You have to plan the days, drive there (which in my case takes more than an hour), you're in a noisy place with people talking during the movie...It's such a bother. And many of the same experiences you have at a theater can now be done at home. Technology is improving, with TVs getting more hi-def and cheaper every year. Physical and streaming media is becoming more higher resolution and a good speaker set up is not as difficult or expensive as it was years before. Technology-wise, some homes can rival a cinema. And even if your home equipment isn't the latest, it's still not that different than what's used at the cinema.
But what about gathering with your friends, you might ask. Watch parties. Whether because of different schedules, work, or whatever, getting all your friends physically together in the same is tough. But now, your friends don't have to be in the same building, state, or even the same country. You can plan a watch party when it suits you best. Tweet as you watch if you want, and there's no theater employee to tell you to turn off your cell phone. Concessions are now cheaper and can be whatever you want to eat.
And I must admit, I prefer watching movies by myself. I like to be fully immersed in the film, with no one talking or making a MST3K-style running commentary the whole time.
Will cinemas go away completely? I don't think so. But I think the cinema going experience is dying, and I hope studios and filmmakers realize that a new style of watching movies is emerging. I prefer the streaming model. I'd even be willing to pay a reasonable sum (sorry Disney but $30 is not a reasonable sum) to watch movies at home on their release day. The pandemic has changed many ways in which we do things and shown us new ways to enjoy things. I hope the change continues.
30 May 2021
Lately I've been on a cooking kick. Normally I hate cooking; I'm not a foodie at all. But we have a lot of pot lucks at work. The food court next door to work will be closed for two years for remodeling and in August I will take a lot of time off work, so I will be home a lot.
So I bought five cookbooks after doing some research. The Geeky Chef, The Geeky Chef Strikes Back, The Geeky Bartender, An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Cookbook of Hobbit Cookery, and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge: The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook.
It's pretty clear why I bought these. The first three books don't just cover science fiction and fantasy moves. Properties like Pulp Fiction, World of Warcraft, 1984, Archer, and much more all have recipes. There's quite a bit of selections to choose from and to keep me busy for quite a while.
Flipping through the books there are not many recipes that call for hard to find ingredients. The most difficult ingredients are either used in such small quantities I can probably omit them or find a substitute. Like most cooking, the problem is that most ingredients come in big amounts but the amount in the recipe is very small. I'll have quite a bit of ingredients left over, which means I need to make a lot of food.
So far I have made Elvish Lembas bread and Bantha blue milk. The bread from Lord of the Rings turned out delicious but a bit too greasy, as I think I used too much olive oil. The Star Wars drink was delicious.
As always, thanks for reading.
28 March 2021
With Trump's presidency now behind us, I'm hoping this will be the last political post I make. I wasn't political until lately, and what few views I had I tended to keep to myself. Politics was a hot topic that seemed to only end in arguments was my view of it. Then Trump came and I found myself disagreeing more and more with the people I knew and grew up with. And that bothered me. Once 2020 hit, I kept hearing online and in real life how friends and family members were becoming disconnected over political views. I found that happening to myself as well.
I found myself becoming a bit of an online troll, posting comments on friends' and family members' FB posts just to see what their reaction would be. Some were people I hadn't interacted with for years. Others were ones I called friends and had worked together with and often hung out. I found more and more of my comments were being seen as inflammatory. They didn't like what I was saying. And it wasn't even in a mild "I disagree with your viewpoint"-style. I ended up unfollowing or unfriending some friends and family, and I'll admit I felt guilty about it.
I wanted to the the bigger person. I wanted to believe in IDIC, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, and say that although I disagreed with their viewpoint, we could still be friends. But I found as these people continued to support Trump and decided to join the nearly 70 million other idiots to vote for him again in 2020, I couldn't bring myself to be the better person. I kept asking myself why they believed Trump and why it was so important to me that they did.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was less about political views and more about personality and belief. More than any other president I could think of, Trump's presidency was based on personality, mostly his. His political actions were not something people debated. There wasn't very many concrete actions in which to say "he should have done this" and "I disagree, he should have done that." Instead, it came down to how Trump treated people. And Trump treated them like shit. Under his presidency, things that we as a nation were trying to put behind us, like racism and sexism, were being given a green light to be the norm. With his bickering against fake news, threats against governors trying to get medical equipment for coronavirus patients, and so much more, the endless negativity and flat out nastiness he espoused was being encouraged.
Never before had it became so apparent how much of a cue the public takes from the president on how to act. And with the way Trump acted, that terrified me. I was so discouraged and ashamed to see fellow Americans cheering for a man who was a proven liar and racist. Who would use political pressure against others to make then that him like a king and be damned any civilians who got caught in between. And that got me thinking: if you're attending Trump's coronavirus superspreader rallies, if you're wearing a MAGA hat, if you're posting posts that support his actions and ideologies, what does that say about you? And in turn, what's it say about me? Do I want to still associate with someone I've known for fifteen years but now realize would be okay with Christian nationalism, that thinks a democratic process should be overturned by armed force?
No, I don't.
These past few years have seemed to bring out the worst in people, and I'm sad to see that many people don't seem to regret that. It's shocked me to see friends so readily support policies and ideas so different from mine that just seem so wrong and unjust. It's because these differences isn't about foreign policy or the economy or any number of political actions. The differences are about human dignity and human rights. To see friends that oppose basic things like universal healthcare, it just shows they don't care about other people. That they are okay with more mass shootings. I feel living abroad has given me a different perspective than many of my conservative friends. I see that there are different ways to do things, and that so many of the awful things that happen in America are not the norm.
I will miss talking with some of these people. But part of me wonders if I ever knew them as well as I thought I did. Maybe I've simply moved on.
08 January 2021
Here we are a week into 2021 and Covid-19 is still around and Trump's fascist supporters have stormed into the Capitol Building in protest of a legitimate election.
Great start so far, huh?
Many seemed to think that at the chime at midnight, things would magically get better. Obviously they haven't and we are in for another tumultuous year. But I am, as the title of this post says, cautiously optimistic about the future. With the dumpster fire of a president Trump out of the White House, Joe Biden will have his hands full working to get America back on track. I believe he won't fully succeed, as I think no one fully can and that things have gone too far. But I also feel that America won't return to it's full pre-Trump status because him and Covid have shown us the darker parts of American society and it isn't pretty.
There is a lot wrong with America, and it wasn't until these last four years that we didn't know how much was wrong. We've been shown how corrupt our elected officials can become, we have seen how little self-accountability and responsibility many Americans have. In a global catastrophe that should have brought fellow citizens together, we were torn apart. Americans would literally rather kill each other than be inconvenienced or had their so-called "freedoms" tampered with. Most Americans seem to think the liberties and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution meant they had the freedom to do whatever they want. That is absolutely not true.
But I've already ranted and raved about my thoughts on 2020. If you want to hear them, check out my article "Wild In the Streets" in the anthology The Phantom Games. I feel without the narcissist Trump egging on his supports and feeding them outright lies and propaganda, things will begin to calm down. With a new president and hopefully people having a new respect and focus on listening to science, things will get better. Several Covid vaccines are making their way across the world, and while not completely dispelling all fears of the deadly virus, perhaps calming those fears a little. Our post-Trump/post-Covid world isn't a return to normal, but the darkness can't last forever.
As always, thank you for reading.
21 September 2020
As I was gearing up for the 2018 Tokyo Comic Con (see this post), I became more and more interested in costuming, or the term I prefer, cosplay. I have several costumes either completed or on the way: Michael Myers (from Rob Zombie's Halloween); a Hufflepuff student/Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter; and several Star Trek costumes, First Contact officer, Captain Kirk from Star Trek Into Darkness, a formal tunic from Insurrection, and an Enterprise NX-01 officer jumpsuit on the way. None of these costumes are handmade; I have neither the skill or the inclination to do them so, this has been an expensive hobby for me so far.
The crown jewel in my collection would be a Batman suit. I am currently working on getting one and the decisions involved have made me evaluate the choices in picking a costume. My dilemma is choosing between the Batsuits from Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. I'm sure most people would say choose another Batsuit entirely or at least pick the one from the less awful movie. But the Schumacher movies are my favorite Batman movies (the reasons of which could be a whole other post), but the decision process has made me think of the involvement in deciding a costume beyond the fact that "it looks cool."
When you choose a costume, you're displaying a part of yourself. You're displaying to the world that the qualities that character represents are in a some way a reflection of you. If you're Superman, I can make a good guess you value truth and justice. But it can also mean the type of characters you like watching in entertainment, the moral and good guys who always do their best. Picking a villain is the same thing, not in showing that you are a bad person, but as a way to express your inner darkness safely. For me, I chose that version of Michael Myers because he's a beast, a pure killing animal. Wearing it, it's a way to think about letting ago, not being always in control, and just imagining myself letting loose.
Back to Batman, I'm finding it such a difficult decision because I'm going beyond just which suit looks cool, although there is that too. The Kilmer suit is sexy, and the yellow emblem is nice change from the non-colored/monochromatic versions that have become very popular lately. On the other hand, it's quite similar to the very popular Keaton Batsuit. The Batman 89 suit is not one I want to do and I really don't want to do one similar to it. The Clooney Batsuit is sleek and stylish although it has more design bits that I don't like, for example the cape clasps and the bat symbols on the boots. On the other hand, as one of the least popular Batsuits, I would standout in a convention, which is something every cosplayer wants to do. I have never seen a Clooney Batsuit at a convention, either in Tokyo or Atlanta.
But as I mentioned earlier, I would be representing the world and values of the movie in which that suit came from. Do I want the campiness of the Clooney Batsuit, because that's what people will think of when they see it. When con-goers see a costume, they are also remembering the movie it came from. It says something about what the wearer likes. "He's wearing a costume from that? He must like bad movies."
As a creator myself (being an author), I'm also aware of the creator's thoughts of their projects. Joel Schumacher said he's not the most proud of his work on Batman & Robin, although he did the best he could. Should behind-the-scenes information also come into the decision-making process when it comes to costumes? On the other hand, will the average con-goer or fan even know what when on behind the scenes?
Maybe I'm overthinking it. Maybe being a cosplayer is just as simple as saying "I like that costume" or "it just looks cool."
Thanks for reading.
14 September 2020
19 March 2019
Tokyo Comic Con (or TCC) is the fourth or fifth convention I've ever been to. My very first con was when I was in my late teens and I went to a very small Star Trek convention in Billings, Montana. Several years later I went to DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia. I went there twice, the second time wearing a monster maroon uniform from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I hadn't been to any convention at all since moving to Japan, so TCC was my first.
Like a lot of things in Japan, TCC was run very smoothly, something Tom Hiddleston remarked on during his closing comments on stage. TCC is trying to differentiate itself from other Japanese conventions by modeling itself after San Diego Comic-Con; the focus is on American movies and comics and pop culture. Star Wars and Marvel were the big properties; they had the largest booths in the dealers area and most of the cosplays were from those two franchises. The costumes still ran a wide gamut of characters though; I saw a female Freddy Krueger, Jason, Bumblebee, Starfleet officers, and––to my mind the most unusual costume choice––Henry Jones Senior from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The costumes were excellent and it was interesting seeing how different the same character was represented. Many of the costumes were very well made with great attention to detail and I could tell the players put in a lot of time and effort and money. Even some of the employees at the booths were in costume and looked good.
Unlike DragonCon, there were not many panels and discussions. TCC takes place in one vast empty area with two stages on each end. Here, there were mini concerts and a few panels where guests introduced upcoming movies, like Godzilla King of the Monsters. The main stage draws were the various costume fashion shows and contest. There were separate fashion shows for Marvel, DC, and Star Wars. Then a larger one including all genres where a grand prize winner was announced. I was overwhelmed by everything going on at the floor I sort of forgot about a lot of the shows, which is something I'll have to remedy this year. Last year I was sort of taking it all in, this year I'll be more prepared and I'll pay attention to the schedule.
No con is complete without guests and TCC had some big genre names: Peter Weller, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Renner, Ezra Miller, and Oliver and James Phelps. I met Ezra Miller and the Phelps Brothers. If I have one gripe about TCC it's the price charged for guests. Each guest had two sessions: a photograph session and an autograph session. Con goers had to pay separately to have their picture taken with the celebrity and then to get that photo (or something different) signed. The prices were much higher than I ever saw at DragonCon. Tom Hiddleston was the biggest draw and his prices reflected that: roughly $280 each for a photo and autograph. The cheapest was Peter Weller at $120 each. A con goer could easily spend more than $500 just to meet the guests. I splurged since this was my first time and bought a total of four tickets for photos and autographs.
I don't know why the prices are so high and I wish an explanation was given on the site. I know for DragonCon that guests are not paid. They are invited and their airfare and rooms are paid out of their own pocket; that's why they often charge for autographs. But the prices at TCC seem sky high. Perhaps the con is paying for guests flights and accommodations, I don't know.
But I'm not going to let that detract from my enjoyment. I plan on visiting TCC as often as I can. I made some new online friends when I ran into a group of Star Trek fans. Star Trek isn't as popular here in Japan as in America so it was great to see some fellow Trekkies.
I'm already planning my costumes for December.
As always, thanks for reading.
07 September 2018
And speaking of...my writing has stalled. I'm trying to rewrite Time Judged All, my sequel to Similitude, filling in plot holes and rethinking character motivations and actions. But I feel empty about it. I've gotten into a vicious cycle of feeling crappy as a writer and not writing anything, and feeling bad because I haven't written anything It's been going on for the better part of 2018. I will not make my deadline of a fall or winter release.
In the meantime, I thought I'd post the first chapter of Time Judged All here, just for fun. I hope you enjoy it and as always, thanks for reading.