(Il)Logical Progression

Random Musings by the Truly Random

What Should I Say?

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Haha. Made you look. Real post to come soon!

November 8, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | | 2 Comments

I Have No Idea Why I Feel Like Saying This…

…but vote. It’s a right and a privilege and it shouldn’t be wasted. Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Green… Vote.

Don’t take it for granted.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

November 6, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | , | Leave a comment

Yes, Raiding is Fun! (I’ve Missed It)

For once, raiding is back to providing what it’s supposed to.  Fun.

Friday and Saturday were set up for our motley group of MOX newbies (We’re actually going to become MOX Emerald, as Sapphire is their 16-man superior group – yes, I should have guessed that Moxboss (the guild leader) also knows that Sapphires are the best Mox) to run Hardmode Explosive Conflict (EC/Denova), and those nights were pretty rough.  Due to changes in who showed up for raid again, we didn’t make the goals I had hoped to reach – One night, three bosses in a reasonable time.  We did manage two bosses on Friday, and cleaned up the rest on Saturday, defeating Hardmode EC for the first time.  I’d say that it was something to be excited about, but the fights just aren’t all that interesting in EC, and are brutal for coordination between tanks and healers.  For DPS, a lot of it is pew-pew, but there are a few “stand in the circle and you die” moments, but for the most part, it’s just stand and shoot.  I did a decent job in there, and I know I have to go back to gear up for now, but if the loot drops were the same between them, I’d take Eternity Vault over EC any day.  We did have a decent raid leader, and our tanks and heals did a fine job in there.  It just took a few times on the final boss to get everyone to execute and follow through to defeat Kephess – and they did.  Grats to MOX Emerald.

But it wasn’t a fun run, overall.  The trash in EC is plentiful and can be pretty time-consuming.  Crowd Control on the trash is necessary, which adds to the amount of time it takes, and while it means that we don’t just blow through from boss to boss, after the third or fourth time doing it all, it does get a bit stale.

Sunday, however, was a different story.

Sunday was a group of MOX raiders, mostly random people who I’ve raided with only once or twice, deciding it was worth it to run a Story Mode Terror From Beyond (TFB) raid.  It was later in the evening, and people were already feeling a bit loose and chatty, and in the end it turned out to be a great run, even though we didn’t finish the entire raid.

Pulls, pulls, pulls!  We couldn’t get our heads straight on trash pulls.  Where EC was run very rigidly in dealing with trash mobs, we really screwed the pooch on a few pulls in TFB, especially the first ones.   It wasn’t just one pull – it was a chain of pulls where we’d struggle to down a set of mobs and OOPS!  the next set added to the first ones.  Utter chaos, using every skill we could to try to stay alive and kill as many as we could, and then the next set and then the next… I think we ended up with four or five pulls happening, where there should have only been one…

And we survived!  One tank and both healers survived, and even the healers were DPS-ing the mobs down at the end.  People were cheering and laughing at the sheer insanity of it, and having a great time, tossing light-hearted blame around, shaking their heads in utter amazement as another group of mobs added to the pile, and it was absolutely fantastic.  Nobody was upset.  Everyone was laughing.  It was what raiding should be.

I haven’t had that in a very long time from raiding.  The very last time I can think of where everyone was that excited at a raid and win was back in Wrath of the Lich King on World of Warcraft, when our group after months of beating our heads against the encounter finally defeated Arthas to finish the endboss of the expansion.  Hooting and hollering, everyone just enjoying the cutscene, not worried at all about the loot, wanting to show off their Kingslayer titles.  It was a terrific feeling.

And it’s a feeling I hope to have again.  For now, Sunday night, MOX Random, TFB trash…  That’ll do.

We also managed to get some gear for some people, mats for the guild, and downed two bosses, both of which are very fun fights.  That we didn’t end up finishing the entire raid – who cares?  It was more fun than I’ve had on raids where we did finish TFB.

Thanks to everyone who was there to make it a fun run – we need to seriously “OOPS!” it up again like that sometime.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

October 29, 2012 Posted by | Memories of Xendor, Raiding, Star Wars - The Old Republic | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Trouble with Raiding…

Sometimes I just curse my luck.

Last Friday, my new guild, Memories of Xendor (or MOX), put together a 8-man Hardmode Denova run for those of us who were on and not part of their regular teams.  They’re a World-class guild, having gotten the World 3rd completion of Hardmode Terror from Beyond, and their progression teams are sharp and dedicated.  I believe our team is going to be a regular raiding team at some point, and while we’re probably not going to be a progression team – I don’t think that most of us who are regular on this new team (which I’m hoping will be MOX Sapphire – since any Magic player who’s been studying the game seriously knows that the Sapphire is the best Mox) will be able to dedicate serious progression time to the game the way it would need to be done – we are shooting for having a reliable, regular raid team.

Given that MOX Sapphire is in its infancy, we’re a pretty motley crew of participants, most of whom still need to finish getting our top-tier gear.  Still, while we have some great players in there, we’re struggling – Hardmode Denova has not yet been completed, and we’ve only run very limited Story Mode (normal) Terror from Beyond.  And there are some things about resuming regular raiding, especially since I’m not raid leading at this time, that are frustrating.

I believe some of this stuff will work itself out soon, but it’s been a while since I was just a raider and not a leader and what has been given up by not taking up the torch for this new group is becoming evident.  Further, just raiding regularly has shown me some frustrations that I hadn’t thought about in some time.

Back to Friday – we ran Denova with a pretty ragtag group, including one person who had nearly no experience with group content.  We get in and things seem to look like we’re going to have a smooth start, but one tank-swap mishap late in the fight and we wipe, with Toth and Zorn nearly dead.  And that was the best attempt we had, up until we had to swap out one of the healers when one of our starting healers had to leave, and then we managed to complete the fight.  I think it took us about two hours to finish that first boss.

And the fun didn’t stop there, we proceeded to have a comedy of errors on the next boss encounter – Firebrand and Stormcaller – and we did not get them down.  Tanking errors, mechanical errors, equipment errors (lag/disconnects), and such filled our attempts.  Not once did we actually meet the enrage timers, so whether DPS was an issue or not wasn’t even apparent.  Our healers were the sharpest aspect of this fight, and other than trouble getting under the shields during the Defensive phase, I don’t think they made any serious errors.  Wipe after wipe, we continued at this for two more hours, until we called the raid due to time, with nothing to show but repair bills for the fight.

Saturday ended up being Story Mode Terror from Beyond, since we had a completely different set of people on, and I actually was asked to heal it, given the lack of guild healers on at the time we started.  I think I healed it ok, though I had a couple of sticky spots, which my partner, Cronoan, was able to cover.  The majority of our wipes were not healing related and I think that gave me some relief, though I seriously need to work on my healing.  In any case, no Hardmode Denova on Saturday.

Sunday came around, and the group decided to resume Denova, except they decide on a time when I can’t be there.  Not a huge issue – I felt a bit miffed that I couldn’t be there, but that’s just how it was.  I don’t think I would have thought much about it, if it weren’t for the results.

They downed the damn second boss despite some serious errors, in two attempts.

It turns out they had to swap out a couple players for that run.  One of those new players apparently had made some pretty bad mistakes, but our healer, Cronoan, managed to pull him out of the fire through excellent healing and timely reactions (Extrication), and they defeated Firebrand and Stormcaller in two attempts.

Two attempts, with a DPS botching up somewhat badly.

It’s just bad luck, I know – I did my part on Friday for two hours, but the encounter went undefeated until the next attempts that I wasn’t part of.  But it’s the fact that despite the botches, that the aforementioned DPS player was rewarded for two attempts’ worth of effort that I didn’t get for two hours of effort that is frustrating.  I felt I did my role well on Friday for that fight, and the person who didn’t on Sunday walked away with the rewards.

It’s one of those frustrating things about being a raider, rather than a leader, that you can be left out of attempts because you’re not automatically at every raid.  Further, it’s about collective success – the group did better as a whole on Sunday than they did on Friday – and that can be frustrating, if you’re only there for the night when the group is a bit more off.  On Friday, our group brought their “B” game, even if there were some “A” games mixed in, but on Sunday they brought their “A” game, despite a “C” player in the group.

It sucks, and yeah, I’m a little frustrated about it.  It’s part and parcel, though, of being three time zones away from the majority of players.

Hopefully, this week’s raiding will be better.  Our raid leader is going to seriously gearcheck people before we run, which should help.  The majority of our group was there for Sunday, so they know they can get through at least the first three fights.  And people in our group did get some gear from Sunday’s successes, which should help this week’s run.

I hope everyone brings their “A” game this week.  I know I try to every week, and I know others do too, and I would like to see us getting the results that reward the “A” game.  We definitely should be making progress every week, not getting stuck on the boss we downed the week before.

So, the goal for this week?  Three bosses for Friday’s raid.  Toth and Zorn (in an hour tops), Firebrand and Stormcaller (in two attempts?) and the Minesweeper boss (which I have yet to do on Hardmode).  We should be able to get those down in one session with as much experience as we have on the first two encounters.

I won’t be satisfied with less.

Should I be?

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

October 22, 2012 Posted by | General Musings, Memories of Xendor, Star Wars - The Old Republic | , , , , | Leave a comment

What to do, what to do… Looking for inspiration

There isn’t enough time in a day.

Really, there just isn’t.

Too many things I want to do – Star Wars, World of Warcraft (and yes, I think what I’ve seen of Mists of Pandaria is pretty nice), Magic: The Gathering and other Trading Card Games, miniature stuff (painting, gaming, etc.), music (violin and cello), other games (CoD, Dishonored, Borderlands 2, etc.), movie watching, writing, learning new things, and more.

Geez – and that doesn’t even get into the stuff that I need to do like eat, sleep, chores and work.

But hey, life’s about choices and sacrifice, isn’t it?  And with choices comes analysis…

I’m part of a world-class Star Wars guild now.  This means that I should be logging in every day and doing at least some of the activities that help me gear out for end-game raiding.  Maybe I should work on getting a utility set for my Mercenary (Taoren), and get a tank up.  It’s part of what being in a top-tier guild is about, even if I’m a casual player in the top-tier guild.  I need to learn the fights (I don’t know why Denova seems so complex to me – the stuff I was doing at the beginning of Cataclysm seemed like it was more complex and I have more problems now).  I need to keep it fun to keep me playing, while doing what I need to show that I deserve to be in Memories of Xendor.  So that should be my ‘MMO priority’.

World of Warcraft has unleashed its siren call yet again, in the form of Mists of Pandaria.  Ah, good ol’ WoW.  I didn’t think I’d go back to it – it feels weird now after being gone from it for over a year, with half of Cataclysm being completely foreign to me, and while I desire to talk to some of my old friends there, I’m wanting to avoid resuming any guild connections as of yet – my stint as a Guild Officer/Raid Leader still has me feeling burnt.  And I’m also trying to bring in some of my Star Wars friends to the game, so I’m trying not to look too hard at the endgame.  I want to play this game again, even though the Burning Crusade content really makes me go “ugh” for needing to go through it yet again…  But the new Specialization system, while not as thought provoking or choice filled as the previous systems were, actually makes me smile.  If I want to look at a tree, I can play Star Wars or Rift.  The interactions between abilities have always been something I’ve enjoyed (go Shammy healing), and it looks like there’s more of this in this release, so I’m pretty excited.  That, and having the ability to use external add-ons to manage things is such a breath of fresh air compared to Star Wars.  I know my new guildies are part of the reason Star Wars has a Combat parser at all, but I do wish MOXParser was more like Recount.

I have a feeling that these are going to be two priorities going forward.  Still, the desire to do some of those other things hasn’t passed, and is probably going to get worse shortly – Assassin’s Creed III and CoD: Black Ops II, and Rift:  Storm Legion all come out soon.  Guild Wars 2 is tempting, especially with its good reviews and that it’s lack of subscription fee, but really, Star Wars and WoW look like fantastic games too, right now.  It’s refreshing to have too many choices, in some ways.

I do miss WoW raiding, though.   I enjoy Star Wars raiding, but it feels different.  Could be because I’m DPS… but I dunno.  It’s just different.

/sigh

I’m looking forward to it all, though.  In one way, shape, or form it’ll be fun.  I just want another Arthas, though.  I don’t see anything out there that even comes close to the anticipation of downing Arthas.

I hope there comes something that will.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

October 19, 2012 Posted by | General Musings, Life, Star Wars - The Old Republic, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments

Goal achieved! One down.

That’s one thing I can mark off my list as complete.  Last night was the Lady Antebellum 2012 Own the Night Tour concert in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, and it was awesome.

I can’t think of any other words to describe it.

The seat I had in the first level was great – in front of the stage, no obstructions, and it was an aisle seat, with room to spare. The people in the section were energetic, adding their own fuel to the concert – dancing, laughing, and in general having a great time.  It was a packed house, loud and heartpounding, and I’m sure I used up my voice cheering and singing along.

It was a great night of music to be had by three artists (well, there were six artists, in three ‘groups’) – Thompson Square, Darius Rucker, and Lady Antebellum.

The show started with Thompson Square, who as relative newcomers to the country scene, performed a shorter set of 4 songs that were pretty well received.  In true LA fashion, though, the crowd was muddling on in – the arena seemed like it was only about half full for the duo, yet there was still a good energy through the arena.

Darius Rucker was the second act of the show.  His performance was fantastic – over ten songs, with a couple of Hootie and the Blowfish classics, and Prince’s “Purple Rain” as the closer.  His voice is impressive – powerful and resonant, just as it sounds on the radio.  Being most familiar with his songs, I taxed my voice, singing along in the crowd, our section standing, singing, dancing and yelling to the entire set.  It was an amazing presentation, and by the end of it, I wasn’t sure if it could be topped – Darius performed like he was the main act, and not the second act of three.  I think he must have been up on stage for nearly an hour – and it was about 8:30pm when his set finished – an hour and a half after the concert started.

To my surprise, Lady Antebellum came out and topped Darius’ performance – home-run over the fence style.  16 songs, including a section of classics where the other performers came back out and sang in a large group, and a guest performance by Ryan Tedder of One Republic.  They played all their major songs, had the now-packed Staples Center’s audience totally immersed in the show, dancing and singing along with the group on stage.  From the start of the set with “Own the Night” to the ‘encore’ performance of “Need You Now”, it was a non-stop energy packed festival of light, music, and song.  It was a completely awesome show, from start to finish, and the time flew.

From start to finish, the concert ran nearly four hours, and yet it didn’t feel long at all.  I left happy, with that buzz in my ears that comes from three hours of live music, and barely a squeak of a voice.

And credit has to be given to Shauna and Chelsea from the OC who were the self-appointed rallying point that maintained the energy in our section.  It only added to the experience.

Thompson Square was great.  Darius Rucker was off the scale.  Lady Antebellum owned the night.

What more could a country music fan want?

One down, many, many more to go.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

March 28, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glass half full? Glass half empty? I dunno…

It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired enough to write something here – I’m surprised that there are still hits coming in.  For those who are still looking around here, thanks.

I’ve been trying to keep busy here – been working on some models for Warmachine, playing lots of Star Wars – The Old Republic, reading (finally finished Eldest), and catching up on television programs that I like (such as Game of Thrones).  Some days, though, it feels like I’m just getting through the day, other days it actually feels like I’m doing something (semi-?) productive.

One thing, though, that I’ve been told, recently, is that I can be a pretty negative person, especially when it comes to myself.  Me?  Negative?  I never used to think so – I always felt that I was a ‘look on the brighter side’ kind of person.  But I do think that my friend is right in a lot of ways – I’m pretty positive… when it comes to other people.  When it comes to myself, I tend to be a doomsayer, I think.

“I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell…” – Matchbox Twenty, “Unwell”

Yeah, I think I’m a little crazy.  Well, actually, I know I’m crazy in some ways, but that’s not what I’m talking about here – I mean insane by Einstein’s definition.

“Insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Every day, I feel like I do the same things.  Same motions at work.   Same hobbies.  Same interactions with others.  And I wonder why things don’t change.  I see myself doing the same things in similar situations and while it feels like maybe things will be different this time, eventually things feel like they’re heading back in the same, rather disappointing directions.  Although, I am pushing myself this year to do things differently, there’s a great deal of inertia to overcome – the inertia of my past habits – and it’s been an uphill climb.

And further, that positivism that I can offer up to others?  Very different from the attitudes I carry about myself.  I need to believe I can succeed, in order to succeed.

This all came up over a night of Star Wars talking about PvP, and the capabilities of classes.  I was running Arsenal on my Mercenary at the time, a great PvE build, but I was getting murdered in PvP, because its main weapon – Tracer Missile – is a stationary shot with a 1.4 second cast time.  I’d get hit while shooting, and not really have anything else I could do once set upon, since the bulk of my abilities have cast times – making them useless when trying to run – and those I could use while running just didn’t hit hard enough.  I have a couple of unreliable interrupts, and very little crowd control.  Blah, blah, blah…

This topic is not a new one for me, and my friend had pretty much become tired of hearing me complain about my class, my performance, and how I just wasn’t any good at PvP.  She told me so, in plain, clear language that she’d heard enough, didn’t want to hear anymore about it, and that if I didn’t like it that I needed to own up and do something about it.

It went a bit further downhill after that, and she pointed out to me, rightfully so, that I – a) am not nearly as poor a player as I portray and think I am, b) that my performance in that Arsenal spec was not as bad as I made it out to be as I had been playing it, c) that I could hold my own against the people we regularly play with, and d) that I wasn’t really playing it as well as I could be, because I wasn’t playing it as what it is – a ranged DPS spec – that I was running in and trying to play the front lines and getting killed for it.

And it’s all pretty much true – I definitely wasn’t adapting in PvP and was just complaining about the poor(-ish?) results I felt I was getting doing it the same way almost every time.

Talking to a couple other people, reading up on it a bit, and actually thinking about it, I realized I needed to change my playstyle in order to change the outcome.

It worked that night – I started trying to survive, and snipe, instead of running into the firefight every time, and lo and behold, my performance stats went up.  I earned badges faster.  I was able to get more PvP gear.  My performance went up as my gear got better…  See a trend?

So, with all that in mind, I started looking around online, and I found something that would boost my performance way up in PvP – a new build.  A mobile build.  One I could go toe-to-toe effectively with people at a distance and up close.  Pyrotech build  (3/7/31).

It’s an amazing build.  It ratcheted my damage up by nearly 200% and my survivability like crazy.

And for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was able to keep up in those WarZones.  I wasn’t just going out to die.  I was enjoying the fights and doing well.

Now, I’m still not all the way there – I have to learn a bit more on tactics and awareness, but I’m better than I was before I made the switch.  And the best part is, after the first time I used it, I felt like I could do this.  And that’s the important thing.

And it’s important I remember that, so that I can transfer it to my work and other hobbies.  I’m actually painting again, a little bit here and there, and right now, the Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator I’m working on is looking decent.

Learning to persevere and to have some confidence in myself is going to be important for a lot of the goals I have my eye on this year – job, personal, and hobby-related.  And this all is a first step – I’m a slow learner sometimes, but it’s really far past time to get over the fact that while I’m probably not going to be the very best at anything I do, that it doesn’t mean I’m not good at what I do, and that I need to determine a realistic level of performance to aim for and to be happy when I reach it.

Old dog.  New trick?  I think so.

The glass is always full – 1/2 drink, 1/2 air.

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

“Yeah you may think that I’m a zero
But hey, everyone you wanna be
Probably started off like me…

Just go ahead and hate on me and run your mouth
So everyone can hear
Hit me with the worst you got and knock me down
Baby I don’t care
Keep it up and soon enough you’ll figure out
You wanna be, you wanna be
A loser like me
A loser like me…”

-New Directions, Glee, “Loser Like Me”

March 27, 2012 Posted by | General Musings, Life, Star Wars - The Old Republic | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the Guinea Pig Dragged in

My Lord,

There has been excellent progress in the last month regarding our project.  The vessel is coming together exquisitely, and is responding to the tests well.  The shell has proven strong, withstanding the full brunt of a cannon with little more than a scratch.  Traditional magic has proven somewhat trickier to defend against, but marked improvement has been seen in this area as well, with the shell absorbing a significant portion of the incoming magical energies.  There are still issues with the dissipation of the remaining energies, as the shell still buckles under impact from pseudomagefire, though this may not delay progress as much as it might seem at first, given the dearth of pseudomagi we will face.  I believe when the time comes, Sire, that there will be little to worry about with the shell of the vessel.

The soul engine is also progressing smoothly.  It appears to be converting souls at a fairly efficient rate, though we have not yet exercised the engine, as the frame and shell are still being created.  The engine’s power seems sufficient for the theoretical frame, and I believe that we shall be able to manage to keep the vessel stoked with souls once events begin to move.  This engine will be unlike any engine created before it, and will suit my Lord’s purposes perfectly.

The issue still remains with the vessel’s psyche units – we are still seeing madness manifesting in the test vessels using the master-slave units.  Over time, it appears that the slave souls degrade, and within a matter of days, the master-slave unit functions with no better performance than a standard psyche unit.  Further testing will be necessary, especially given the fact that this significant a decay is present in a one-master-one-slave unit, and that my Lord’s vessel will require a psyche unit far more complex.

Testing of the remaining factor should begin soon, your Majesty.  A suitable candidate has been selected, and preparations are being made for his acquisition.  There will be a cost to this acquisition, but I believe that as I have already discussed with my Lord, the sacrifices will be worth it, in the end.  The test vessel has already been readied, and the blending of the test vessel’s appearance with that of my Lord’s regular forces appears flawless.  It appears to be a typical vessel when examined physically, magically, and even pseudomagically.

Despite the successes we have seen so far, I must beg of my Lord a supply of more souls, as those that we have on hand are starting to show signs of natural decay, and will soon be insufficient for proper testing.  As pseudomagical resistance is a prime factor of this vessel, we need to supply both the vessel itself and the pseudomagi performing the tests.  I believe that the upcoming campaign that my Lord has spoken of will be a boon to this project, and that no quarter should be given to the enemy in order to increase the harvest.

I hope this report finds you well, Majesty.

Your humble servant,

S.

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Creative Writing | | 1 Comment

Desperately Seeking… Something

Time seems to fly sometimes, and not just when you’re having fun.  It’s been about a week since I wrote anything here, and I think it’s because I’m not sure what I feel like writing about.  The Velvet Cafe has seen some of my writing – Jessica, per her usual talent, has managed to put up a few topics that got me to respond.  Theatre on film, Miyazaki, and scriptwriters forgetting about little things – she got some words out of me in her comments section – quite a few, in fact.  But I still can’t seem to figure out what to put up here, sometimes.

It’s really easier to respond to someone else’s topic, rather than come up with your own.  It’s part of the reason I started this blog – I wanted to say what I felt needed to be said, but at the same time, I didn’t want to usurp peoples’ articles from them on their pages.  (Fortunately, Jessica’s very forgiving about my ‘walls-of-text’ comments on her site, even when they’re longer than what she wrote herself.)  But, not reading as many blogs as I used to on a regular basis, I feel like I don’t have as much to talk about these days.

So, in response, I went to creative writing, but even that’s kinda blocked up right now.  The two stories here were experiments – one to see what I could come up with as a short story at all (“The First Soul”), and one to see what I could do with a varied perspective (“Courier Duty”).  Both were successful, I believe, though, I’m now not sure where to take the stories – I’m trying to develop the world, without actually getting into the main story that I have been imagining for the years that this world’s existed in my mind.

I’m a bit blocked, I think.  I’m seeking out… something.  A muse.

Something I’m watching?  Already wrote about Glee and haven’t watched much else.  Though I can’t seem to get “Defying Gravity” out of my head.

Something I’m reading?  Still trying to finish Eldest and The Way of Kings but it’s a tad slow at the moment.

Something I’m doing?  I’ve been playing a lot of Star Wars:  The Old Republic and having fun, but I don’t have too much to write about that yet that I didn’t already mention before.  I am 43 on my Mercenary (Taoren) now, though, and healing instead of DPS.  Fighting with the urge to move to a hybrid spec, to DPS better while still maintaining healing, but I don’t think I’m good enough at healing yet to be ready to add DPS back into the mix.

Sports?  My Sacramento Kings are doing terrible this year, and it seems like the majority of their problems stem from lackluster 3rd quarters.  I don’t put any stock into the score (unless they’re way down already) before the end of the 3rd, since they seem to blow leads regularly at that time.

I guess it’s just a little “blah” right now – I’m hoping that just putting this up will get something going soon.

Any ideas?

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

 

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Creative Writing, General Musings | | Leave a comment

Was High School Really That Exciting?

I’m not sure whether to curse or praise my friend who first got me to watch Glee on NetFlix, but it’s too late for regrets.  I’m not a full-on Gleek, but I am hooked on the show now (I’ve only seen about half of the first season, so far), and was charmed since the first episode.  It’s at the point that I have to make sure to check the time before I start it playing, because if I don’t, I end up watching two or three episodes in a row and the time just flies by – I have to make sure not to use it as one of my late night distractions, lest I lose too much sleep.

I ought to know better, by now, though – her recommendations have been pretty good to date – it’s because of her that I know about Merlin, Shinedown, and Rascal Flatts.

What it is about Glee that hooked me, I’m not certain, but I think it has to do with music, and its effect on the human condition.  I’m a pretty big fan of any music that’s singable, and this show is all about singable music.  Further, I have a soft spot for Les Miserables, and when Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) sang “On My Own”, Eponine’s haunting solo, I knew this was a show that I could get behind.  She has a fantastic voice, and her rendition reminded me of the performance of another Lea, Lea Salonga, whose performance of the same song for the 10th Anniversary concert for Les Mis is probably my favorite performance of the song.

Further, while I wasn’t anything near athletic in high school, I found myself relating to the insecurity that the other lead character, Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), went through during his joining of the New Directions in the pilot.  I’m definitely an amateur karaoke/shower/car singer, and it’s one of those things that I really enjoy doing.  I know I don’t sing particularly well, but I enjoy it nonetheless – and that’s saying something for me, being the harsh critic I am about myself.  Finn’s insecurity about his singing, his reluctance to join the glee club at the beginning, and his view about the general ‘geekiness’ of the kids that were a part of the club were all things that I saw when I looked at the choir in my own high school.  I knew a couple people in it, hung out a bit in the mornings with them when they were just fooling around – Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” was a particular favorite (I enjoyed trying to do the low backup part) – and I enjoyed it a lot, but I just couldn’t get myself to join it.  I’m not a great performer, and I couldn’t see myself up onstage in costume, singing in front of an audience.  I guess it’s ironic that I spent a great deal of time in high school in my USMC Dress Blue uniform (costume?) doing close order drill routines (performing?) in parades (in front of an audience?).  Yeah, maybe I don’t know my own abilities and shortcomings as well as I think I do.

Cliques, fights, drama, and just high school everyday pressures – yeah, I saw it when I went through it, too.  I had the ‘honors nerd’ crowd in most of my classes, and the ‘Junior Jarheads’ for ROTC.  I shot .22 rifles for my sport activity – how many kids can say they got to use firearms at school legitimately?  My class trips were spent on military bases – in mess halls, on firing ranges, and in barracks.  And those were great memories, some of the best of all times.  As my Marine Instructor, SgtMaj McClymonds used to say when we were back on his familiar stomping grounds at MCRD San Diego, “You ain’t had it so good!”

I remember being very self conscious of what I did in the public eye in high school, which was pretty funny in retrospect, given that I wasn’t really part of any ‘in’ crowd.  I was one of ‘those guys’ into Dungeons and Dragons, one of the first-generation American anime fans, and I came to school at least once a week in Camouflage utilities (Wednesdays were inspection days).  I had a good number of friends that were girls, but didn’t have a girlfriend, and had a better record of setting my friends up in relationships, than setting myself up.

And while there’s a lot different about my own high school memories, I find myself relating to some of the things that pop up in this show.  I find that I connect to ideas easier in song, and that because so much of this show is musical in nature, I am touched by the themes far more often than I am with other shows that I watch.

They sing and perform, and I smile.  I sing along (to myself, of course) with the songs I know.  The plots and their resolutions, while often not surprising, do make me grin and frown, make me happy and sad to watch.  When the club triumphs, I feel it, and remember back to parades in high school where my drill team won awards.  When the characters find their attractions unrequited, I remember that one ‘that got away’ from my Junior year, and wonder what ‘could have been’ and how she did once she moved back to Canada.  I watch them perform and wish that karaoke had been around when I was that age, and that I had taken that extra step to join the choir.

I don’t think that high school was as exciting as this show makes it out to be, but in remembering it, it was a pretty fun place to be, despite all the work there was in being a student.  I know I miss being a student – high school or college, really – where classes were the main priority of any day, and that homework and tests were the activities of the day, and where I didn’t know what it was all about.  The “real world” is a pretty sobering place, even with the availability of alcohol, especially in this poor job market.

It’s certainly not all bad – I used to think in high school that I wouldn’t be caught dead living in Los Angeles, and now I can’t imagine myself going back to Sacramento.  I’ve met great people, and my work experiences have been generally ok, even despite all the idiots.  Yes, as I’ve written before, I relate now with Office Space, and I understand and enjoy Dilbert.  I’ve done things that I never thought I’d do, because it was generally unavailable in Sacramento,  like surfing or game testing (as a job).

But I do wonder about some of those things that I didn’t do when I’d had the chance.  I think that’s what I like about this show – it’s all about the characters doing what they want to despite their own fears of doing so.  It’s about the relationships that form in the ‘outcasts’ simply because they have that in common.  And it’s about people singing fun stuff and enjoying it, and that’s something that I wish I did more.

I do feel, though, that if Glee or Rock Band had existed when I was in high school, I don’t know how different I’d be now.  There’s something about saying ‘Fuck it’ and doing what you want to do, despite whatever anyone else thinks and just laughing about it after, that’s refreshing.  Exciting.  Energizing.

It restores passion.  It makes me positive again.  It makes me smile.

And I think we all need a little more of that in this world, especially in today’s world.

It’s time for New Directions.   It’s a good time for Glee.

Don’t Stop Believin’!

My 2 yen,

Akiosama

February 14, 2012 Posted by | General Musings | , , , | 2 Comments

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