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Ruining your childhood

As time rolls on, I’ve been hearing more and more people loudly complaining — with ever-increasing amounts of vitriol — that the various reboots, sequels, and other updated takes on beloved movies, television shows, comics, and other media of yore are somehow “ruining your childhood.” (Or, for the truly angsty, the more offensive “raping your childhood.”)

I used to understand this behavior, as I was certainly guilty of it myself. The biggest offender, and the genesis of the modern usage of the term, was the Star Wars prequels. I don’t think a new movie had ever been that hyped…and then we got The Phantom Menace. Foolishly thinking the next films couldn’t possibly be that bad, we got two more prequels that, yes, were that bad. Sure, there were some cool bits in there, but overall, the movies were awful.

I freely admit that the sucky prequels “ruined” Star Wars for me for years. I couldn’t even watch the classic trilogy anymore, as it only reminded me of how Darth Vader was really a whiny brat. But after a while…I got over it. I can easily enjoy the original films now and just forget that the prequels ever happened. Darth Vader and the Empire are badass and timeless, and Jedi are a rare, respected and effective breed. Same deal with modern Green Lantern comics. Geoff Johns’ massive retconning of the series wasn’t very good, and it led me to stop reading the books for years. Then I got back into it, and I later got rid of all of the “Johnsverse” stuff except for a few things here and there. I’m not going to read his works again, because I just don’t care. All of the stuff before it that I enjoy? I can read those old Green Lantern comics again and enjoy them just as much. For all intents and purposes, the pre-2004 era never left.

Which brings me to the real point: the new Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and such can’t “ruin your childhood,” because from a logical standpoint, they didn’t exist during your childhood…and that era is untouchable. I understand that the new crap will automatically link itself to your old memories, but it’s possible to eventually just move on and laugh if off. So what if the new stories suck? Just ignore ‘em, and focus on the aspects of the franchise that you do like. It’s a bummer that you won’t get any more stories in the “universe” that you prefer, but nothing can take the old ones away from you. If the old stuff still holds up to repeated viewings or readings, then just keep enjoying it. I know I will.

Braking the hobby train

Cue text avalanche!

I had an epiphany of sorts when it comes to my numerous hobbies. (And yes, this came to me while I was sitting on the pot.) I know I’ve got too many interests, and sometimes it’s rather frustrating that I don’t have the time to enjoy as many of my leisure activities as I’d like. Perhaps this is something really dumb to complain about, but hear me out.

When it comes to leisure, it often feels like I’m rushing and running out of time. For example, on any given weekday when I get home from work, I usually watch an episode of a television show while I eat, then either work on model kits, play video games, read, or any combination of those three. (Reading is very important; over the past few months, I’ve made it a point to try to read for at least half an hour right before bed, as it helps me fall asleep easier, I think.) And I have to work all of this around real world concerns like cooking, cleaning, laundry, exercising, and so on. Those always take precedence. Anyway, that’s four leisurely pursuits I’m trying to cram into a single night! That’s crazy. Usually, I only manage to accomplish two or maybe three, which is fine…but I often feel like I’ve wasted time somehow, or that I never have enough time to do what I want. Deep down, I know this is bullshit, but I can’t help it.

A big part of the problem is that I generally don’t like being idle. Some folks can just sit around and do nothing during their spare time, but that starts to aggravate me after a while, like an itch you can’t scratch. In my case, it’s mostly based on location, I think. When I go to the beach, I like to sit in a lawnchair and relax for hours on end. I might read a book or scribble in a sketch pad, but usually I just chill out under a beach umbrella, people-watching and listening to the waves. Same thing when I go to coffee shops, especially in big cities. I just enjoy my coffee (and conversation, if I’m there with friends) and let the time slip by. But if I’m at home…I can’t just sit around and stare at the wall. I need to be doing something.

The second bit is that I tend to schedule out my life. Not every moment of my existence down to the hour or minute, but just having a good plan in place for the day and foreseeable future, ya know? I do this because from when I was a teenager through the lean years, my plans would constantly fall apart. A majority of the time it wasn’t even my fault (like getting stood up on dates), but I still blamed myself and tried to fix it by getting my life in order. Doing this has been effective and useful, especially when it comes to paying bills and other life requirements. But when it bleeds over into my hobbies to an extreme degree…yeah, that’s a problem. It’s just hard to scale back and be spontaneous when the exact opposite is what fixed things in the first place!

In my defense, I’ve actually ditched a lot of the hobbies I used to have, and parted with entire collections of media that I know I won’t read or watch again, as well as other extraneous bullshit. I’m also forcing myself to be comfortable with only accomplishing one or two things a night. Easier said than done, but it beats being annoyed.

Equally important — and this is the crux of this entire blog post — I’m trying to slow down with my hobbies. Aside from becoming happy with only doing a few things at night, I’m going to try to take my sweet ol’ time with those pursuits, as well. So what if it takes me a week or two longer to read a book? (Don’t worry, I’m not skimming the damned things!) I already do this when it comes to reading during my lunch breaks during the week; I don’t always get to read, as I’m sometimes running errands, but when I do, I take my time and just enjoy the words spilling across the pages.

I’ve also got a massive backlog of video games that I’ve never played. Almost all of them are due to trades and those ridiculous Steam sales. Why let that stuff go to waste? Instead of cramming in my other hobbies, I can take a break from some of ‘em for a while and just enjoy a fifty-hour JRPG again. Haven’t done that in years! I’ve got copies of Breath of Fire IV, Ni no Kuni: Curse of the White Witch, Xenogears and others just waiting to be explored. Not to mention countless old favorites that really deserve a replay, like the Mega Man Battle Network series.

Slowing down a bit would also immensely help in the case of building Gundam models. You see, I’m already running out of space for my completed models, and I’ve barely begun displaying them. I must make it clear that model building has for all intents and purposes become my top hobby; as I’ve said before, working on Gunpla is very relaxing and rewarding. My worldly cares and worries disappear while I’m hunched over the table, working on tiny bits of plastic. Thus, building models is both a leisure activity and a health benefit. Anything that puts a damper on what amounts to cheap therapy tends to annoy me.

Boxes of built and unbuilt kits are taking up a lot of space, the latter being the prime problem. As for completed models, my display case is already full; I’ve consolidated the rest into spare boxes, but even when I get my bookshelf converted into a secondary display area, that will also fill up fast. (Gotta keep dust off the things, as I spend a lot of time working on them.) I admit that the fun is more in building than displaying, but it’s still important to showcase my completed works. It gives me a very rare sense of accomplishment.

In fact, my Gunpla hobby will have to slow down over time. I don’t like that idea, but it’s inevitable, as I don’t have unlimited space. At least I’ve got plenty of kits to work on for at least a year or so, and slowing things down in general will easily prolong my enjoyment of the hobby. I’ve also been thinking of “upgrading” my High Grade models to more detailed Real Grade and/or Master Grade versions where applicable. Then, unless it’s a model I have a strong attachment to (like the ∀ Gundam), I’ll give away the ol’ HG version. That way I still get to build new kits without taking up any extra space. I suppose, “therapy” nonwithstanding, it’s better that this particular hobby winds down over the next few years; I shouldn’t have to constantly acquire stuff, no matter what the benefit.

Sorry, too much about model-building. I did say it was important to me, and serves a therapeutic function. Anyway, let me try to wrap things up here. Perhaps slowing down in general will grant me a little more focus, and thus more enjoyment. It won’t happen overnight; ironically, the very process of slowing down will be slow in and of itself! But I think it might prove useful.

Finally, it’s very possible that the next apartment we live in will be smaller than our current one, so I need to take that into consideration as well when it comes to my hobbies that take up physical space, like books, models, collectibles, and so on. If and when we move, packing up all of that shit will be a pain in the ass, regardless; I’ve spent the past few years since my last move parting with a lot of stuff, and transporting it all was a driving factor. Doing it all over again if and when we move will almost certainly kick me into high gear once more when it comes to paring things down to what really matters.

I dunno. I guess the whole thing is pretty stupid.

Destroy Mario!

I recently redeemed my annual Club Nintendo reward. Unlike past years, there were no exclusive collectibles or other physical items offered for those of us who dutifully registered our games. Instead, the rewards for both Platinum and Gold levels are downloadable games for the Wii U and 3DS. The selection’s not very wide, either, and most of them are older games from past Nintendo consoles rather than contemporary titles. Since I only reached Gold status over the past year and I only have a 3DS, my pool of potential rewards was tiny indeed. Disappointing to some, but free games are still good, and it’s not like the offerings were garbage. Plus, the magic word here is free; complaining about not getting one free thing over another is a first world problem of the highest order.

Despite the presence of arguably “better” games on the list, I picked an old Mario title.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

This is a game I’ve beaten over and over again, yet never actually owned. I always borrowed it from friends to play, even before I bought a Game Boy (I’d borrow the system too at that point). Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was a quantum leap ahead of the original Super Mario Land; don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy its predecessor. But SML2? I love everything about that game from top to bottom. Graphics, music, level design…all perfect, and clearly worth replaying multiple times to find all of the secrets and such. I haven’t played through the game since my freshman year of college, I’d wager, so I’m very much looking forward to ruining Wario’s plans once again. Oh yeah, remember him? Mario’s fat rival made his first appearance in SML2, and Wario quite literally took over the SML series after this game. Looks like his brainwashing worked.

Anyway, while SML2 overall is a phenomenal game, it’s the little things that really stick out in my memory. For example, I can recall the main theme and most of the other game music quite distinctly after all these years; the catchy background music in the second stage of the Space Zone would get stuck in my head every time I played it. (In fact, it’s back in there now. Great.) I remember tearing through the Pumpkin Zone and stomping the witch boss at the end during a weekend rainstorm. And, of course, swearing under my breath whenever my lack of skill resulted in Mario dying a particularly stupid death. I played the game the most during my high school years, of course, and it’s one of those important games that really helped me get past some rough patches in real life. (Sure, it was all the usual teenage bullshit in retrospect, but that doesn’t make it any less an important part of my history.)

Time to see how well SML2 still holds up twenty-two years later. Not a bad choice for a freebie, huh?

The infernal resurrection

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of resurrecting some of my old sites. I’ve written about them in the past, in particular four years ago to commemorate the tenth anniversary of liquidcross.com.

I’ve had many “subsites” come and go, but the three I’ve been considering bringing back are my old webcomic Breakfast at Timpani’s, plus fansites for the Iron Man of the year 2020 and the sadly defunct Crimson Plague. None of them would feature any new content or updates, save for some sort of introductory page or splash box explaining exactly what the site was; like a museum plaque detailing some crusty old exhibit. These dredged-up sites would pretty much be interactive slices of the past. I would of course have to so some work to get them up and running correctly, as there’s certain to be some missing pieces and dead links.

B@T in particular will require some creative editing, as there are some elements that I can no longer post; namely, crossovers with another webcomic, because I later had a falling out with its creator. I don’t want any legal trouble. Fortunately, I’ve been slowly — veeerrry slowly — working on a “collected edition” of sorts, so the crossover pieces in question have already been partially edited. I’ll just need to get off my duff and finish them. (I even drew a brand-new “missing” page last summer! Only the co-creator of the comic has seen it, but maybe I’ll throw it in there.) Regardless, the old B@T site would go up dead last given the work needed to bring it up to snuff.

And before you ask…no, I’m not going to resurrect the old blog. First off, it would be way too much work; even if I could get the old backup XML files to import correctly, I’d still need to hunt down a load of missing images, and rework the posts that contained them to function properly with completely different blog software and folder structures! But more importantly, most of that old shit is just plain pathetic and embarassing. Yes, even more so than this blog.

Which brings us back around to my three prime candidates for reanimation. I’m proud of those sites…for the most part. But there’s also a bunch of crap in there. I’m all for learning from history’s mistakes, but some of my artwork and such was really bad. I’m not really keen on posting that stuff again. At the same time, the sites would be incomplete without it, and aside from having to do more work just to edit it out, it would run counter to the entire purpose of bring these sites back in the first place. Argh!

I guess we’ll just have to see. At the very least, I’ll get started on fixing the old sites to see if they’d be ready to go live again. If they don’t work out the way I want, then at least I got ‘em cleaned up for archival purposes. It’s not like I’m on a deadline here. This also makes me wonder if it’s worth resurrecting a few of my other projects…if I can somehow find the time.

What do you think? Are you people even interested in seeing this stuff?

F you, K-E diet

While catching up on Cracked posts the other day, I came across one poking fun at insane weight loss methods. One of these is something known as the K-E diet, where rich idiots use a feeding tube in order to lose weight.

Despite the linked story being a few years old, I became angry. Seriously, fuck these K-E dieters in the peehole with a rusty drill bit. I’ve had nasogastric (NG) tubes for legitimate medical reasons, and they’re awful. Why in the hell would some yuppie douchebag voluntarily use one for vanity purposes?! In my case, NG tubes were used to suck out my various digestive liquids and food remnants before and after surgeries. The results left in the collection tank behind my hospital bed looked like a cappuccino. (Enjoy your next Starbucks trip, fuckers.) The experience was unpleasant enough that when I saw Iron Man a few months later, I flipped Tony Stark the bird when he yanked his tiny tube out after waking up in a cave. Suck it up, rich boy. I had close to a half-inch pipe jammed up my schnoz.

Every time I hear about fad diets, I usually roll my eyes. But this K-E shit drove me to rage instead. The fact that these people can afford a super-expensive procedure but somehow can’t do something as simple as eating better or going to the damned gym grinds my gears. With their bank accounts, they can hire chefs and go to those posh gyms that don’t even stink like Swamp Thing’s socks. Sure, we can just laugh at them pissing their money away on an unsafe diet, but like I said: I’ve been on the business end of an NG tube more than once, and it’s no laughing matter. Someone should swap out these fucknuts’ nutrient packets with a colostomy bag.