#371: The Ghost

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I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I do believe in some kind of supernatural mental space. I think every element of the supernatural can be traced back to a moment in time in which a person, at that time, felt that the horror was real, as if it really had a hold on them. Like, for example, vampires aren’t real, obviously, but vampires were inspired by prejudice and anti-semitism. The actual disease of the mind wasn’t the vampiric haunts, but rather the bigotry that enabled people to invent whole new classifications for humans in order to understand minorities.

The real reason I wanted to make this post is because I was thinking about running back to my corpse on World of Warcraft, a regular corpse run to try and restore my spirit to its body. It’s an obnoxious process (I’ve talked a lot about obnoxious behaviors on this blog recently, haven’t I?) and it’s always made worse by the fact that the spirit healer is so far from your body. Sometimes I just don’t want to run all the way across the ocean to restore life to my corpse. Sometimes I just want to get resurrection sickness and accept defeat from there on.

Being a ghost isn’t so bad when you’re a night elf, though, as you have the ability to turn into a wisp which increases your movement speed while dead. It’s preferable to being any other race while dead, and if you spend a lot of time dead, like me, it makes sense to roll that race.

Oh, who am I kidding? I just got a tattoo done for the Horde faction, and here I am advocating people make night elves. I’m a traitor to my own tattoo at this point.

But really, dying sucks in this game. I don’t know why I wanted to talk about this.

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#370: The Fan Art

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There are certain rules that we all must follow while posting fan art, whether it’s on social media or elsewhere, and I like to make sure that I’m following the rules no matter what I’m doing, even if they’re not written anywhere. More often than not, there are implied, social rules and norms that people have to adhere to or else they risk being ostracized. Fan art posting is hugely relevant to this.

If you’re in a fandom or community that has fan art of any kind, you’ve likely encountered reposters, the kinds of people who have clout solely because of the fan art that they repost over and over. It’s a way of gaining popularity, and it’s pretty dumb because the art is never truly theirs. It’s only theirs by virtue of the fact that they’re the ones posting it, but ownership doesn’t work that way. Claiming ownership over something you didn’t make is scummy and rude and obnoxious in all the worst kinds of ways. People shouldn’t be posting art that isn’t theirs in the first place, and fan art ought to be respected the same way as fan fiction, wherein you wouldn’t go around posting another person’s story pretending that you wrote it. It’s a social taboo to do so.

I guess the reason I made this post is because it’s become a trend in fandom recently, and it’s annoyed me to see it continue. I really want to make sure that communities don’t operate in a way that’s unfair to the content creators, or that discourages content creators from continuing their work. They are, ultimately, the drivers of the community and they make it all work. Without them, we’re all just a bunch of people talking about the game but not doing anything about it. It’s not the same.

#369: The Tattoo Experience

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Getting a tattoo was a fun experience. I’ll be discussing the details here, and keeping them for posterity. Overall, it was memorable in a way I’ll likely never forget, and the people I met there gave me a lot of fun stories to share with my friends for days to come. I’ll probably keep those stories to myself, though, as some of them are a bit inappropriate. Alex, who reads this blog, knows what I’m talking about, because I’ve already told her about some of them, and she’s also been to the same shop before.

So, I went to a shop in Norwalk, where I was serviced by an artist named Kyle, the same one who worked on Alex’s Makoto/Persona tattoo. Kyle was great, struck up conversation with me throughout the process, and managed everything well. He came up with two sketches for me to look at and I chose the more traditional looking one, rather than the one where it looked more sketched and abstract. I initially went in looking for an abstract design, but the cracked stone look appealed to me a lot more after talking about it with him. He convinced me of the right path, ultimately, because I absolutely love the design now and how it came out. He made it stick out really well.

While I was getting it done, the process was really smooth, and it took about two and a half hours overall. I watched some speedruns on the computer and checked my phone occasionally while it was getting done. My hand fell asleep and I felt like my legs would never leave that chair in the same spot. It didn’t hurt very much, possibly because my arms are chubby and I’m used to the pain. It’s apparently a good spot for a first tattoo.

#368: The First Tattoo

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By the time this post goes up, I’ll have gotten my first tattoo. To say I’m not a little bit nervous about it is putting it lightly, but I’m eager to see how it goes and excited to have the final product on my body soon.

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know I’ve played World of Warcraft on and off for the past 10-12 years. It’s been a consistent fixture of my life, something even Alex knows a lot about by virtue of our conversations about it and from watching me play.

Inside the world of this game, there are two major superpowers that are in a military deadlock with each other: the Horde and the Alliance. Each faction has its own set of races (orcs, trolls, tauren versus humans, elves, dwarves) that are exclusive to the faction.

One of my favorite raids in the history of the game, Siege of Orgrimmar, takes place in the Horde’s main capital city. No matter what era of the game I’m playing, I’m usually maining a character on the Horde side regardless.

My original main was a Blood Elf Mage, and then I race-changed to an Undead. I played that character throughout Burning Crusade all the way until Battle for Azeroth. I still have him at max level, even though mage isn’t that fun to me any more.

Horde is also a place where I met a bunch of lifelong, lasting friends. It’s where I first joined a guild, it’s where I first started raiding in Wrath of the Lich King, and it’s where I still reside even all these years later. I feel an attachment to this faction even though it might seem a bit silly. It’s personal to me, like anything else. It represents a special type of connection between friends.

#367: The Haunted

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Have you ever played a game called Luigi’s Mansion? It’s one of my favorite games of all time, and I think I’ve written about it before. Regardless, I’ll be writing about it again, and hopefully under a new title this time!

Luigi’s Mansion is one of those games where, regardless of how many times you play it, the gameplay never gets old. It’s a game whose gameplay is timeless and plays fluidly regardless of what year you’re playing the game in. The core of the game, sucking up ghosts into your super-powered vacuum and turning them into portraits at E Gadd’s lab, has stayed the same throughout all of its iterations. But the nature of the game has adapted over time, leading us to Luigi’s Mansion 3, which has really turned the series back to its roots more than before. Instead of it being about five different haunted places with individual levels and segments between each place, this new game returns to one big haunted place for you to explore and discover treasure inside. It’s truly capturing the feel of the original in a way that makes me pretty happy.

Luigi’s Mansion also has some personal history behind it, and I think I’ve mentioned this in the other blog post I did about the game. My friend Jimmy and I used to speed run through the game, and we took turns beating each other. I used to beat him more often than not, though, and I learned the ins and outs of the game quickly. It’s the kind of game that incentivizes multiple playthroughs because you earn a larger and more elaborate mansion at the end depending on how much money you collected and how rare the portraits are. Essentially, the game may be short, but you are expected to play it more than once to get the full experience. I kind of love that about games.

#366: The Math Day

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Math days aren’t fun. I don’t know math as well as I used to; I don’t remember the formulas for completing long division and advanced multiplication on paper. I just complete them in my head, and I do it the long way. If I’m multiplying 60 * 510, I’ll multiply 60 * 500 first and add 60 * 10 to the end of it. It’s just easier for me to do things that way, even if it’s more complicated in the long run. Being able to complete that level of complicated math just isn’t part of my day to day life, and if I need to figure something like that out, I just google it instead. It’s tough to justify teaching quantitative literacy in our current world environment, although it is important regardless.

Math days aren’t fun because I have to pretend to know more math than I actually know. I have to walk around and help people who need help, when in reality I’m the person who needs help on this stuff the most. It’s a bit complicated, having to learn and relearn and remember what I was taught in middle and high school, then teaching that back to other people. It all happens pretty much on the spot, regardless of what else I’m doing. I have to think on my feet, adapt to whatever situation is presented in front of me, and move quickly, especially because I’m in mostly unfamiliar territory. I don’t normally work in the math room; more often than not, I’m either in the computer lab, the humanities room, or between 4th and 5th grade. My schedule doesn’t allow me to spend much time in either math or science, so thankfully I’m not usually expected to know those subjects as much as I have to know and follow along with humanities. That’s just one of the perks of my job.

#365: The Canon

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Get it? It’s a cannon.

The literary canon needs to be overthrown and replaced with more diverse, multicultural offerings of the same quality. The idea that only white people have written books with quality enough to be read in classrooms is completely untrue and delusional. So many authors from other cultures and races have produced canon-worthy books, and it’s about time we give them the respect and attention that they’ve missed out on because we’re still teaching The Catcher in the Rye. Can’t we move on from that by this point in our lives? I get that it’s still relevant culturally to us, but it’s not any better than Things Fall Apart.

But this post wasn’t originally going to be about assessing and analyzing the faults of the literary canon. Harold Bloom would probably hate me by now, but I’m willing to suffer that blow. Originally, I was going to write about the very idea of a canon, how books, movies, comic books, and other media with fandoms attached to them have what’s considered a canonical storyline. The canon is the official storyline, the one that’s told by the creators. What doesn’t take place within the official plot of the piece of media doesn’t actually exist in terms of the characters. For example, if you’re writing fan-fiction, you’re doing so outside of the game’s canon. If you’re producing any scenes in your art that don’t take place in the piece of media, that’s working outside of the canon as well. The canon is an interesting concept, but thankfully it doesn’t matter that much whether something is canon or not. Produce what you want to produce, and hopefully people will appreciate your faithful recreation of the story. Fandoms exist however they want, and it’s up to us to make of that what we will.

#364: The Great Release

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I’m not sure what kind of mood I’m currently in, as I’m having difficulty articulating my feelings which are so overwhelming and all-encompassing. More than anything, what I want is to feel comfortable. Comfort is essential, as are safety and security and those other important values.

“Great Release” is a song by the band LCD Soundsystem, and it’s fairly underrated. It’s a bit on the long side, at about six minutes long, but I’m currently listening to it as a way to calm myself down. It helps me get back into a better mood, or at least relax my senses and calm myself down.

The song is about space, it’s about love, it’s about releasing and letting go and making yourself happy again, by whatever means necessary. It’s about dying, it’s about letting go of inhibitions and drifting off into space. It’s relaxing, and the music applies to the themes of the song. I love when songs are consistent like that because it actually makes me motivated to write, too, believe it or not.

The song is either heavily inspired by Brian Eno, the famous music producer, or he’s actually involved on the track. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was, considering he’s friends with the guy who runs the band. They both play with each other frequently.

To me, sometimes you need music to calm yourself down. Not all tracks are going to have the same effect, and not all people will feel the same way because of the same music. More often than not, I realize I don’t have the same music taste as other people, and because of that, I’m a bit isolated. I can’t talk about the same subjects as other people when it comes to music because I don’t relate as heavily with other people. Such is life.

#363: The Fallout

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This won’t necessarily be about the Fallout game series or about fall as a season; instead, I’ll be discussing the ways in which fallout inside a community can be handled. There’s been major fallout recently after some spoilers came out for a certain game which I won’t name here, as I don’t want to spoil anyone by association.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes endings don’t go how people plan them to go. Sometimes endings don’t end up the way the fans want them, and sometimes that happens regardless of all the clamoring people have done for an appropriate ending to the series.

The way that the original game ended was fantastic. It was cohesive, fit the themes of the story, and overall made sense. Invoking this third arc out of nowhere really tears down on what made the first game click for me. It blows up the foundation of a really compelling and thematically-consistent story just to mess with things for the sake of it. In reality, stories need to be consistent and need to have a flow to them in order for them to make sense. A story that already exists in a perfectly fine context doesn’t need forced content to make it better, if anything it needs more development of existing content and characters who feel left out. That’s what gets me about this whole new game; there are areas that need improvement that are just thrown to the wayside to push new content instead.

A game’s ending also has to be satisfying in some way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be positive, but the player has to feel like it was at the very least all worth the time and investment. An ending has to click, and if it doesn’t, people will feel like they wasted their time on nothing.

#362: The Updates

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This post is a loose continuation from my previous post, called the Proofreader, because my proofreader friend gave me a bunch of recommendations on my previous chapter to apply into my writing. I took it all, updated my writing accordingly, and it feels much better than it did before. I think the parts I changed just generally flow better and feel more appropriate to the story. I also had to clarify a couple parts that were confusing despite my best intentions. Sometimes that just happens, and you have to do what you have to do. I feel good about all the changes I made, though, and generally speaking, it’s in a much better state than it was before.

Being open to feedback means not just blindly accepting feedback and all types of constructive criticism, either. You can’t just sit there and hope to take it all in and apply every piece of advice, especially if there are tons of pieces of advice to go off of. Sometimes you need to draw the line somewhere and make choices based off of where you see the story going. People might think they know where the story is going, when in reality it’s a bit more complicated than that. Being a writer means you naturally operate with a bit more knowledge than the average reader, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore feedback, either. Feedback can be relevant to what direction you’re trying to move in, too.

Unwelcome feedback can be annoying, though. After listening to my friend speak for awhile, it was very helpful and reassuring, but then I received unnecessary feedback from someone else who I didn’t really ask for feedback from. They started giving me advice, but in reality I wasn’t really looking for it at the time. Is that normal?