Fan Scars

Being a fan is tough work. I’ve recently come into a bit of distress after the most recent Star Wars celebration. We had game announcements, show announcements, and of course the Rise of Skywalker trailer. Honestly, it should be a great time to be a Star Wars fan. Star Wars fans should be ecstatic for all the goodies to come.

Honestly, I’m not.
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Music to My Everything

Music Video GIF

I’ve recently been going back and listening to albums that I listened to years ago. Some are still fairly new, in the grand scheme of things, while others are a decade or more old (which hurts me). Songs and bands I was all about in college or high school or shortly after. Things I haven’t heard in years due to no longer getting radio play or just not popping up in the slurry of internet radio like Google Play or Spotify. It’s been a fun way of connecting with my past and generally succumbing to a wash of nostalgia.

I absolutely love music. That’s really the only take away here. This is just me gushing over music. I’ve probably made it painfully apparent in the past. Hell, my first real post on WordPress was about music bringing people together.


For those too lazy to click that link, it comes complete with this gif:

^^^I will always love this gif^^^


Music is the best, fam.
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&Run

^^^Love this song.

Anywho, this post isn’t about the song, awesome though it may be.

I’ve started running again. Moreover, I’ve started running at NIGHT!

Cue “but what about dangerous muggers” talk.

Okay, fair, running at night isn’t for everyone. You certainly want to be in an area where it’s cool to do so and safe to do so. Be it safe from wild animals or wild muggers or the even more terrifying Wyld Stallyns, though then you just get a sweet party in a cool 1980’s styley.
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A Little Bit of Reprieve

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So, I’ve missed a few weekly posts lately.

Things have been intense. The Wife and I have decided to restructure our apartment so that it focuses more on function over form. We just came to the realization that the way we laid everything out was more based on “how rooms should be laid out” and not “this is how we want it.” So we shoved the computer and desk into the second bedroom of our 2/2, put the couch smack dab in the middle of the living room facing the TV, etc etc etc. However, two weeks ago we just decided it just wasn’t making it easy to do the things we want to do in life.

We had a dining room table that we honestly never use, a dresser that just took up way too much space, and a handful of other shelving things that were unnecessarily bulky. We shipped those away with some haulers to be donated somewhere, moved the desk out to the main area and set up stations throughout the apartment. There’s a small table for painting miniatures, a crafting desk for Tee’s cosplay and etsy stuff, a reading nook, and the full desk for writing and research and photoshop and whatever else. In our bedroom, we even managed a small music area with a keyboard and guitars. It’s fetch as hell.

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What we had come to terms with is that there are so many hobbies and creative things and productive things and yadda yadda that we want to do on a regular basis, but we have been hindered by honestly just being to lazy to set them up. I’d like to get back into piano, but getting the keyboard out of the closet and setting it up somewhere was dreadful. We both want to paint, be it minis or canvas or other things, but that would involve finding an area with good light, setting up a table, and hunching into it for a few hours. We were constantly barred from these things we want to do, and hell ENJOY doing, by simply not wanting to do any set up and tear down. That’s why the two of us don’t play many board games one on one, because getting the gaming table (a large foldable poker table) out was just a hassle through and through. Now everything simply boils down to sitting down and doing, no set up required.

And it’s super friggin nice. Being able to dive into things whenever. We replaced a bunch of the shelving we removed with more compact Ikea pieces and VOILA! Functional home.

However, I am now super pooped. We were doing this all while traveling to see family, dealing with holidays and special events, Tee quitting her old job and finding a new one, and me finally being fed up with my daily schedule and thus switching my sleep schedule around dramatically (a three-ish hour shift back so I wake up right before work instead of 3 hours before work).

With how busy I’ve been, I found that I was in this sort of mode where I’m trying to make sure everything is a rigorously planned itinerary. Every moment for the past few weeks has been “what do I do now” or “what gets built or moved or created.” My expectations for how I spend my time have shot through the freakin’ roof to the point where tonight I’m literally a bit light-headed from the fatigue of going full 110% for 20+ days. It’s not a good look.

It culminated today with me literally being in a panic about how I wanted to spend my Saturday. SATURDAY. MY WEEKEND had become something that needed a strict schedule. I was wracking my brain with what felt like the right choice. Should I go somewhere? Maybe play some video games with my boys. Perhaps go out drinking for the holiday. Maybe lie in bed and do nothing. All of these things, mind you, are things that are typically not approached the same way someone would approach a problem like “okay, which spreadsheet takes priority according to deadlines?” However, here I was, trying to rigorously fold it out.

Then suddenly I had an epiphany: What if I just didn’t plan? What if one whole day I just let myself do whatever I felt like and didn’t worry about if it was the best use of my time?

So, I’m not planning SHIT for Saturday. I am a directionless floater. A leaf on the wind.

And it feels nice.

The message: Sometimes it’s good to leave a schedule blank. Let your whims decide the outcome. Feel like video games? Play ’em. Friend wants to hang out? Do or don’t based on how you feel (and be comfortable saying NO, it’s your life and they should understand that). Want to get some chores done? Cool! Weirdly adulty, but cool! Just ride the wave. Just exist. Let your feelings drive.

So, I’m gonna dial things back a bit with the go-go-fucking-go attitude I’ve had recently. Just coast a bit.

It’s good to start feeling back on track, to be honest.

~C

Roll Call: Connection to Characters

Whether you’re playing Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons or Shadowrun or Mutants and Masterminds or any other system, it all begins with making a character. Before setting out on any adventure, you’ll define the specific set of abilities, personality traits, historical prejudices and various other traits that will guide you through the world created for your arena of play. While it’s important at this point to make sure you build a character you’ll be happy with as the game proceeds, the main thing is focus on building a character you’ll be able to have fun playing.

As the game progresses, it’s normal for players to build attachments to their characters. Just as people build attachments to their favorite characters in a movie or TV show, it’s understandable to become invested in the actions and safety of these characters. On the extreme, this can result in players getting VERY emotionally involved in their characters, letting the connection bleed into the real world.

And that’s okay.
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Steps

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I have a friend who wants to be an actor.

Anytime somebody asks what his one true goal in life is, that’s what he says. To act. To be paid to act. To have a career in acting to some degree.

However, he actively does nothing to progress this dream. He acted in high school and college, but ceased regularly auditioning for roles after that. He works in a field he isn’t interested in. He’s done some small videos for local productions and one theater production a couple years back. I’ve occasionally told him about productions I’ve heard about or paid commercial gigs. He appreciates it, but never actively pursues it. Over the years I’ve heard him mention time or long-term plans or not being the right fit.

The cycle always ends the same: My friend passes on opportunities and then laments not having the career he so desires.

Unfortunately, my friend’s story, while an extreme example, is not uncommon with many people I know and have spoken to over the years. People find something they want or something they’d like changed, but take no action to achieve it. They so desperately want their life to be one way, but they avoid taking any of the appropriate steps to do so. I myself still have plenty of things that I wish upon wish for, but seem to pass on constantly for various reasons.
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Calm

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[I wasn’t paid or asked to make this post. Simply sharing praise on my own accord]

Just want to take a moment to praise the Calm app.

Sometime last year I picked up this app out of interest based on their commercials. You’ve probably seen them: the soft sounds of rain falling on leaves behind a command to do nothing for 30 seconds or so. It’s effective marketing because it presents itself like a challenge. Whether you’re just idly watching TV or using it as background music, the isolated sounds of the drizzle pull your awareness to the screen and the countdown timer locks you in. I found myself stopping whatever else I was doing anytime this commercial came on and just focusing on the sound. Then it pops up with “Calm” and how to find the app. It’s effective marketing in the most simplistic because it’s jarring in it’s lack of noise and music like so many other commercials. It because noticeable because of its serenity, which is exactly what Calm is getting at: breaking from the noise of life to spend a small amount of time every day being calm.
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I Ain’t Afraid of No Sequel

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A new Ghostbusters film is in the works!

I am so incredibly excited for this. Ghostbusters for me is one of those childhood films that you just somehow keep coming back to. As a kid, I feel like I watched that movie over and over again, and it just kept popping up throughout my life. I love it so much.

Granted, not everybody is happy. Shortly after the announcement, Leslie Jones expressed her personal hostility on twitter, saying that replacing the all-female cast with men was like “Something Trump would do.” However, she’s completely approaching it the wrong way. First of all, any attempt to separate the universe isn’t some sort of anti-woman campaign. While, yes, there was a completely unacceptable campaign against the movie by a portion of the internet that were unhappy about the all female cast, the main failing point was that the reboot was just mediocre at best. Both the laughs and action fell short and it wasn’t able to launch itself to the height of the original. It was in its own way a fun movie, but in trying to compete with a classic, it just didn’t gain any footing. Will Jason Reitman’s sequel do better? It’s far too early to tell, but it’s also far to early to say there won’t be any female Ghostbusters involved, so let’s put the torches away for now.

The second point to remember is that Jason Reitman is making this movie as part of his legacy, not some vendetta against the female cast of the reboot. Reitman’s father, Ivan Reitman, directed the original two Ghostbuster films (as well as Evolution, which if Jason would like to also make a sequel to that, I’d be very appreciative), and Jason was often on set for those films, even having a speaking role in the second movie as one of the kids from the party. For Reitman, this franchise is about family business. He’s connected to it, has literally lived through it, and is absolutely the best choice to continue the movie and retain its tone, visual themes and brand of humor. Reitman’s choice to make a new Ghostbuster film is from a lifetime of attachment to the franchise, not in direct response to the underwhelming result of the reboot. The studio’s decision to move in a different direction, however, probably was.

Now, I don’t want to just take shots at the reboot. It’s been 3 years, it’s had enough at this point. Is it perfect? No, definitely not. Does it do a good job nodding to the original and throwing in some fun Easter Eggs? Absolutely. Like I said, it’s a fun movie in its own way, but is definitely cringe-worthy at points and hard to get through for some people. However, Paul Feig did a good job working in tons of cameos and send backs to the original franchise. Honestly, aside from the general clunkiness of the script, the biggest falter of this movie was that it was a reboot to begin with.

Had it been a sequel, had it focused on the original Ghostbusters, or at least some of them, training up a group of new Ghostbusters that just happened to be female, it would have avoided the entirety of the screeching internet troll brigade, which wouldn’t have entirely saved the movie, would have at least given it a leg to stand on by the time it made it to theaters. Reboots are just tough, especially those were you have to spend an ample amount of time giving credibility to the characters. Reboot Batman, you can jump right into him nut-punching bank robbers. Reboot something like this with intention of focusing it around new characters, you have make those characters worthy replacements for the original. If you provide them connection to the original, their credibility can be established through training or the sage advise of a seasoned vet in the field.

Granted, the struggle to get a Ghostbusters 3 has been a long and mainly uphill battle. Dan Aykroyd original pitched a script with a budget of $150 million, but was simply scoffed at by the studio. Over the years the process ebbed and flowed in a common pattern: Screenwriters were found, drafts were made, Bill Murray wouldn’t read them, problems would arise, script would be tossed, rinse repeat. By the time 2016 rolled around, a reboot seemed like the way to go since nobody could get on board for a sequel. And yet, the reboot saw the return of the entirety of the main cast in cameo form, minus Harold Ramis, who passed away in 2014 six months before the movie was announced, and Rick Moranis, who has long since retired from acting. Paul Feig taking the movie in the direction of a reboot made sense, as it felt like everybody had mostly just excepted a sequel wouldn’t happen at that point.

So, for what it’s worth, there was a lot stacked against the reboot, and what we got wasn’t entirely awful. Heck, it even won some Kids Choice Awards.

But this is why a sequel is so exciting. The teaser seems to suggest that the Ghostbusters weren’t a continuous and consistently successful thing, a them familiar from Ghostbusters II, which opens with the group mildly disbanded and some members having to do birthday parties to make a buck. Jason Reitman has mentioned that we’ll meet all sorts of new characters as well as reintroducing old ones. It’s perfectly set up to be what I mentioned above: New people drafted into a cause by the seasoned veteran. In addition, Reitman’s connection to the franchise will hopefully keep the film grounded in the tone and visual appeal of the first movie. I’d like plenty of practical effects, but I won’t hold my breath. I’m excited all the same, CGI ghosts or not.

One thing that I wish would become more commonplace, and would easily have been an option of some kind to the reboot, is setting an IP in the WORLD of another IP, without directly rebooting the IP or connecting to the IP. If they had set the Ghostbusters movie in the world established by the Ghostbusters movies, with all the freaky occurrences and creative ghost design, but NOT made it tie directly back into the original franchise, with the aforementioned “sage advice from an experienced expert” trope, it would have hit theaters as both a connected IP to the original world and lore of the first two movies and also something that stands on its own without the need to be compared to the original. This doesn’t happen nearly enough, honestly. Recent examples are the Fantastic Beasts movies set in the World of Harry Potter, which are stories set in the past of the Wizarding World and, except for brief glimpses, do not tie directly into the Harry Potter movies the way a prequel would, in that the actions of these characters don’t directly produce the story of the main Harry Potter title, even if some of the ripples do.

We’re so obsessed with letting there only be Sequel or Reboot that we just don’t allow people to build new stories in the compelling world they’ve already created. It happens from time to time, typically as directly connected Spin Offs, a la Angel spawning out of Buffy. It works sometimes, doesn’t at other points. Another recent example is Fear the Walking Dead, which was set in the world of the Walking Dead, but out in California instead of the American South. As far as I know, the show didn’t do great. I mean, first of all TV is tough in general and viewership can decline fast. Second, it’s zombies. No matter where you set it, it’s not going to have much appeal or really feel to different. However, in the end this was a new IP created in a world built by previous IP and that’s commendable. That’s creative. Constantly looking to continue stories or completely reboot them just feels stagnant at times or even ruins the impact of the original stories end.

I often fly into this rant when I think about the upcoming Last of Us 2. I was excited when they announced this game because I had hopes that it would be a new tale from new characters set in the grim wilds of the Last of Us world. Again, it’s zombies, but the Last of Us crew has shown incredible ability at writing character-driven narrative with the apocalyptic dangers as a backdrop. While their zombies are definitely more creative than what we’re generally used to, it’s the characters steal the focus. Their plights and the air of untrust that drapes across the world. The first game beautifully developed this relationship between Joel and Ellie as they quested across the nation and learned how to trust one another. It ended with this trust being tested and Ellie silently deciding what that means to her. We don’t know for sure what Joel’s actions would lead to for their relationship, but the point we left them at was beautiful culmination of a visceral story of humanity. Close book, take deep breath, move along.

Then comes part two, which again focuses on Ellie and Joel. They’re older now and interacting with a few new characters (oh look, Laura Bailey and Troy Baker in the same game….weird), but where does the ending of the first one fall. Are we going to see how that ending impacted their friendship or father-daughter dynamic? Will they reference it too much or not enough? Do we learn if Ellie chose to believe Joel or if his decision to lie to her hurt her trust? More importantly, do we need to know these things? What’s the problem with an ambiguous ending?

I’m bummed, to summarize, and I may be in a minority, I’m not sure. The only person I’ve really talked to about this is a close friend of mine and is, honestly, very hyped for that game. However, she tends to be very hyped for a lot of things. She hypes easily. It’s one of her lovable quirks.

I just believe they built this big beautiful world and deep lore that could easily be explored by new people. It doesn’t ALWAYS have to be direct sequels or full on reboots. Assassin’s Creed has been doing this well lately, though their story is a might bit convoluted. I just wish more creators would see the potential of building their story from a new angle as opposed to rehashing and reworking the same characters, never truly giving them an ending until we watch them die on screen (sorry Han). Looking forward with this concept in mind, I’m very curious where Star Wars will go. The latest trilogy is wrapping up and Disney is juggling all their “Hey, what about this character but as like a 20-something or teenager?” movies around. It will be interesting if we just keep getting movies about the youths of characters we’ve already met (Watto at Business School: A Star Wars Story) or if we’ll start getting some more original stories. I’d love for the next push to focus on the Old Republic or possibly more stories set in the Outer Rim. Just no more Skywalkers, please.

In the end, I just wish creators focused more on the boundless potential of world-building instead of just one character’s story or focusing on origins. There are so many stories to be told in these beautiful worlds and rich lore we’ve established. We as consumers need to support and praise the new and bold.

……Seriously excited for that Ghostbusters sequel though.

[I’m a hypocrite]

~C