08 April 2013

Finding Art Where Others Find None

I wrote this piece for the Geek Guide that's coming out in a few weeks for the PSU Vanguard.  I was particularly proud of it and I think it explains a lot.

Enjoy.

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I never thought that I would call myself a gamer.  The word ‘gamer’ just holds so many connotations that, especially through my high school years enduring countless hours of listening in on various conversations about World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XI, gave me the impression that gamers were none more than pimply males who sat in front of their computers for days at a time while all but forgetting what the outside world looked like.  Boy, was I wrong.

While I am not myself a computer gamer, I was lost on next gen console gaming when these innovations first hit stores.  I was a purist, focused only on the classics.  The first game I ever owned was Galaga for my giant red brick of a Game Boy.  I eventually moved on to a Super Nintendo, a Sega Genesis, and finally in 1996—a Sony Playstation.  Sure, we had a Playstation 2 when it first came out.  But something just felt lost.  No game held the same magic for me as the first time I turned on Resident Evil or Silent Hill.  Innumerable sequels emerged as I was stuck on these first few handfuls of games.  Crash Bandicoot was great, but it was no Sonic the Hedgehog.  I felt, at this point, that no other games could satisfy my appetites.

Fast forward to 2012.  My boyfriend and I finally accepted an Xbox 360 into our home and my previous convictions about gaming were entirely erased.  We got a great deal on the console itself—free—and we were able to pick up a handful of games for right around 30 bucks, BioShock being one of those introductory games.  After my first trip in the Bathysphere and an opening glance at the underwater city of Rapture’s skyline, it became abundantly clear that there was something big that I was missing out on. 

I have never had a game pull on my heartstrings quite as much as the first BioShock.  After delving into the secrets of Rapture, fighting off Big Daddies, and rescuing Little Sisters; I found myself looking for more.  Shortly after the completion of that game, I was on to Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, my first real attempt at modern day RPGs.  I never tired of scouring the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Washington DC and Las Vegas for bobble heads and new weapons, meeting ghouls and innumerable super mutants along the way.  Their stories, their lives—it was all emanated as if I were watching a movie, emotionally invested every step of the way.  I was introduced to Borderlands and grew excited each and every time I had the opportunity to meet a new Claptrap or find new elemental weapons in the crates of the planet Pandora to add to my arsenal.  And then something else happened.

On March 26 a game came out that ruined games for me forever.  BioShock: Infinite, the long awaited follow-up to BioShock changed everything.  Through story, the most interactive artificial intelligence introduced in gaming to date, and concepts like quantum physics that I am still trying to wrap my head around—BioShock: Infinite is truly a triumph in gaming. 

Taking place in 1912 in the floating sky city of Columbia, BioShock: Infinite courses the player through ideas based around American Exceptionalism, racism, religion, rebellion, quantum physics, and anarchy.  While politics paired with an epic rescue mission of ‘damsel in distress’ Elizabeth are the main themes of the story, the innovative combat and gameplay should not go unnoticed. 

The player takes control of Booker DeWitt, equipped with a ‘sky hook’ to make use of the city’s skylines as a means of travel.  DeWitt’s only melee weapon, the sky hook makes for gruesome and exciting gameplay in which no other game I have played compares.  Different from the previous BioShock games, DeWitt is only afforded the ability to carry two weapons while two Vigors (powers much akin to the Plasmids from the first two BioShock games) can be equipped and toggled between at any time.  From the first awe-inspiring view of Columbia that the player gets to the last few moments of the game, I could not pull myself away and upon completion, I had to pry my jaw from the floor.

Games like BioShock: Infinite are what make me proud to be a gamer.  Many critics argue that video games do not hold the capacity to be even remotely considered as art forms.  Someone had to think up a floating city with windows into alternate timeframes.  Someone had to think up what a post-apocalyptic Washington DC would look and feel like.  And someone had to be proud enough to filter these concepts into the hands of gamers everywhere.

As I sit around with my friends and make jokes about how buggy Bethesda games are and compare Borderlands weapon inventories with my friends on Xbox Live, I am not ashamed.  I have found art where others have found none, and to me—that is what it means to be a gamer.
 

14 March 2013

It Happened Again

Remember that time a few (several) weeks ago when I said that I was going to make a more valiant effort at maintaining this blog?  Well, I tried.  And, once again, I failed.

This semester has been a complete and utter nightmare and, as the last day of my spring classes commences, I am here to assure you that hopefully next term blogging will remain a higher priority.

Have any of you ever had to take a research methods class?  Well here is the run down of the one that I just finished up with.

We learned what an academic research study actually was, we delved into every little intricacy of qualitative and quantitative research, and then had to conduct a study ourselves.  Doesn't sound so bad, right?  Well, the majority of the points derived from the course work comes from group work.  

Yes.

Group work.

Here's the problem with this.  

I don't play well with others unless it is at my own volition that I do so.

Being forced into a situation in which I rely on other individuals to help me craft my own grade does not sit well with me.  With that said, it has been a rough term.  Several arguments, attempts at jumping out of a fourth floor window, and a stalker situation that I would rather not go into later--the term is almost over.
Please, join me as I let breathe that beautiful sigh of relief.

05 February 2013

SAD

Some people think that seasonal affective disorder is a joke, but I beg to differ.

While I am being incredibly productive, doing well in school, and overall just sitting pretty with minimal stressful situations; for one reason or another, I am just plain old bummed out.

There is really nothing in my life going on that is out of the ordinary.  Sure, we had to push back our Fort Wayne trip due to unforeseen issues with vacation time and flight costs which is a total bummer, but other than that--nothing is incredibly striking as depressing, stressful, or anything in between.  We just re-vamped our apartment, cleaned out our closets (literally and metaphorically), and we have had opportunities to hang out with friends in a variety of celebratory circumstances (Shamoo's new house, Maggie's birthday, etc), and both Dean and myself have been incredibly productive with our publishing endeavors.

But still--something just feels off.

I am ready for the sun, and if not sun--warm rain.  I am ready for progression toward alleviating this cloud that seems to entirely encapsulate me most of the time.

I'm not even a sad person.  I'm just--in a funk, I suppose.

I'm sure I am not alone in this sentiment, but as I feel so ready for it to lift itself up off of me--I am sure that you, faithful readers, feel the same way.
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01 February 2013

So That's What Being An Adult Feels Like

Yesterday took quite a few unexpected turns.

I know you're all very curious, so I'll start at the beginning.

Over the last few months I decided that I wasn't the biggest fan of our apartment.  We pay too much for what we have, there are virtually no amenities, and our kitchen hasn't been remodeled since the early 1970s.  We have olive green counter tops, brown tiled floors, and the plywood in our cabinets sheds onto our dishes.  Not a very happy apartment indeed.

It is no use moving because Dean and I have moving plans for when I graduate college next year.  So, we decided to renew our lease for another year and tough it out until the time comes to high-tail it the hell out of here.

With that said, in an effort to make our apartment more livable (at least on my terms), I kind of went overboard on the cleaning for a while.  Everything was pretty sterilized, nothing on the kitchen counter tops, living room immaculate at all times--you know, that kind of thing.

The other day we got the burrs up our asses to do all of our bedroom laundry (you know, blankets, comforters, etc).  We threw out our old pillows.  We had no pillow cases for them so they were all pretty filthy and we were going to go to Target while our blankets were drying to get new pillows and new pillow cases.  What happened next was something that nobody expected out of Dean and I.

Not ever.

We got to Target and procured pillows and then started eying the pillow cases.  We found the ones we wanted and the idea struck us--

Why spend the money on matching pillow cases if we don't have a comforter to go along with it?

So we started shopping for comforters to match our pillow cases.  We found one, added it to the cart amongst the pillows and cases we had already picked out.  Then we thought to ourselves, "well now we have an all-black bedroom set with a comforter, we should probably get some sheets to go with it too."  So we bought sheets, something that we always thought frivolous and unimportant (mind you, we slept on a mattress pad atop a mattress and box spring laden with a wide assortment of blankets not resembling any kind of bedroom set that ever existed) was now the source of most of our excitement through our entire shopping excursion.

So, item one: check.  After converting our bedroom into our own personal nighttime paradise, we started thinking about the other rooms in our apartment.  The next item of business was our bathroom.  Dean suggested that we needed a new shower liner and upon shopping for liners, I thought, "well, why don't we just get a shower curtain too."  So, new item of business:  bathroom re-decorating.  We added a black shower curtain to our cart and started thinking about shower caddies, bathroom tumblers, and soap dispensers among other forms of bathroom organization.  Though we didn't purchase all of these things last night, we got home and promptly made a list of all of the new necessities that we want to make our apartment our own little safe haven away from the world.

Room by room, we started thinking about things that would not only make our apartment look better, but we were searching for ways to make it more comfortable for us.  Our apartment is not tiny, though the way we had things organized and set up made it feel a lot smaller than it is.  In our living room we had this giant black bean bag chair.  It sat in the middle of everything and took up way more space than we actually had.  Sure, it served as a nice alternative seating arrangement when we had people over, but it was still massive and over the last few months it started getting on my nerves.  I finally was able to talk Dean into getting rid of it, and so we donated it to a friend of ours who wanted it around.  It's amazing how much larger our space appears and it's a less stressful environment for productivity.

So now, updated living quarters in mind, we are continuing our search with a new futon cover, drawer organization for the bathroom, and we are gutting the perimeters of our apartment; discarding what is now unnecessary and moving forward toward having an apartment that feels more like home.

Though many of you, I'm sure, experienced this kind of awakening ages ago, it was something that took a while for Dean and myself.  We always thought of these things as frivolous and unnecessary, but now in getting older, it just makes sense to dress things the way you want them.  It's no longer frivolous if it's something that adds comfort, security, and that sense of 'home' that people like us struggle to find.

31 January 2013

Value & Creative Integrity

When I first started doing my zine, my publisher at the newspaper I was writing for gave me some really valuable advice.

"If you don't place any value on your product, nobody else will either."

Of course, I didn't take this advice at first.  When I did my first runs of issue one and two, I handed them out like candy.  People have more free copies of my work in their hands than what I sold, and that's fine.  For a while, I was concerned only with getting my work out there and having it in the hands of others.

I'm afraid things aren't like that anymore.

While I am still sitting on quite a few copies, I am steadily selling through them on Etsy and that's working just fine.  I know that some friends are probably going to be disappointed that we are not just passing out copies, but let's face it--printing gets expensive and in order to continue publishing our writing without taking too much of a loss, we have to charge something.

There are bigger, larger projects on the horizon for Dean and myself.   If we don't attempt to make back some of what we've lost, we will not be able to continue pushing our writing out there, getting our words into the hands of others.

It's not that money is the driving force behind our inspiration to make zines.  If money were the case, we would have quit doing this a long time ago.  In order to maintain some kind of value along with continuing in ideals of creative integrity, there has to be a price to cover cost.  That's just the straight and narrow of it.

It's not greed.

It's not elitism.

It's simply valuing what we have put so much time and effort into creating.





 

29 January 2013

Stupid People

I don't think that I'm better than everyone else.  Okay, I kind of do.  

But there are concrete reasons for this.

One, I'm not the type of person to believe everything that I'm spoon fed.  I like to take the chance, go over things in my head, and then make my own rational assessment about them.

Dean and I watched a couple of documentaries lately that are obviously propaganda laden but they address some interesting points.  If you have Netflix, both 'Zeitgeist' movies are online as well as a documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson entitled 'Ethos.'  Both titles go over the federal banking system, conspiracies within said system, environmental change, and so on.

In the second 'Zeitgeist' film, discussed at length is the fact that with our current technology, we have the ability to erase our dependency on non-renewable resources and rely entirely on clean, natural, renewable resources.

Have you heard about the 'magtrain?'  Bottom line is that I want it now.  It has the capacity to travel at up to 4,000 miles an hour and runs on magnets.  Fucking magnets.  It's magnetic and hovers over the rail system meaning that it would take no fuel to run this thing and it would never wear out because practically no friction is involved.  Certain trains like these already exist in the world, but the states doesn't have plans for this until the year 2020 I think.

Why not now?  We spend enough money on everything else, why not make it so we don't have a reason for these unnecessary wars?  Why not make changes to where we have the ability to be self-sufficient and cut the dependency on resources that will inevitably disappear?

I know this is all wishful thinking, but logic outweighs the current system.  I used to think that the whole 'green' movement was something entire comprised of hippies and over zealous do-gooders.  While these documentaries feed their fair share of propaganda, we can all take away some enlightening concepts from viewing them.  It changed the way I look at things.  I am more conscious of the power systems at hand.

Relinquish that power.  Make changes.  Be smart.

28 January 2013

Older Eyes

After a long discussion with Dean last night about writing, creativity, and how far our lives have come over the past few years, a stark realization happened upon me.

Bird Shit is over.

That's right.  It's done.  I did what I needed to do with it, I wrote it because I felt that I had to.  I've since grown up, moved on.  It's time for me to pursue bigger and better things when it comes to my writing.
Am I saying that I am abandoning zines and the culture therein?  Absolutely not.  Which brings me to my next point.

I'm starting over.  New time in my life, new zine, new ideas, a new title, new everything.

I've been shifting it around in my head for a while and there is a reason that I haven't put out issue four of the zine yet--it's because there's not going to be one.

Dean said it best when we were discussing the matter.  When I started Bird Shit, I was a college kid who was, quite frankly, 'stuck in the middle of a lot of shit.'  With the road trip story in issue three, I think I wrapped that part of my life up pretty well.  I didn't realize it at the time, but that issue is completely symbolic of moving onward.

It only took me three years to realize it.

So, with that said, we are starting over.  I am beginning the creative process of issue one of a yet untitled zine.  I'll be posting updates on my progress and I'll be sure to keep you all updated on its release.

With the creation of a new zine, I will leave a forewarning that once issues one and two of Bird Shit are completely sold out, there will be no more copies available.  I am going to do an inventory count this evening and list accordingly on the Etsy shop.  Issue three will remain in circulation for another year but as of this date in 2014, I will be shelving that as well.

So, here's to bigger and better things.





27 January 2013

Face Up, Face Down

I'd like to think that superstition is not something that I fall victim to on a regular basis.

If a black cat crosses my path I don't shudder in fear.  I chase it down and try to make friends with it.

In my teen years I broke a mirror (not from making ugly faces into it, I assure you) and I kept it around until I moved out because I was too cheap to buy a new one.

I've walked under ladders countless times, not in an effort to break a standard or prove a point, but because in my previous working environment ladders were everywhere and sometimes walking under them was just unavoidable.

There are two superstitions, though, that I follow almost exclusively.  I can't define why.  I can't explain it.  I can't break the trend.

The first one is entirely self-created based on a series of circumstances that I won't go into entirely, but it merits mentioning.

For a while, each and every time I heard Nirvana on the radio in a moving vehicle, something bad happened.  The bad events ranged from coming home to a house without power, car accidents, breakups, and so on.  So, as I sit here in my mid-twenties reflecting on past events--I will still tell the driver of whatever vehicle I am in to turn the station when a Nirvana song plays on the radio.

So there's that one.

The second one is a common adage, popular with most everyone.

If I find a penny face up, I always pick it up.

I don't inherently believe that this will bring me good luck.  I don't believe that if I ignore it I will then, in return, have bad luck.  Luck is something that we make for ourselves and no animate or inanimate object can influence that.  But, alas, for one reason or another--I always make sure to pick up that penny.

It doesn't make its way into my wallet, more often than not it winds up in my pants pocket forgotten.  Forgotten until, inevitably, it ends up on my bedroom floor face down.  

Here's where the problem lies.

As soon as I see that face down penny, I absolutely refuse to pick it up even considering the fact that when I initially picked up that penny, it was face up and symbolic of the old superstition that good luck will be soon to follow.

Somehow, magically, the face down pennies eventually disappear (either pushed into the closet somehow or collected by Dean, who knows).  But, I can assure you, for reasons unknown to me, I will always pick up those face up pennies and leave the face down ones to meander into obscurity.

If someone can explain this to me, please do. 

24 January 2013

Remember When?

Remember when I told you guys that I re-listed my zines on my Etsy shop and that was great and awesome and everything in between?

Well, it gets better.

My lovely boyfriend Dean finally let me list his zines in my store!

The shop is live and ready to go, and I am now able to accept credit cards so transactions will be less of a headache for all.

Again, thanks to all for your continued support!

23 January 2013

Dean's Brother Could Get Married for Free!

So check this out.

Dean's brother Eric and his fiance Liz are finalists in a contest in Fort Wayne that could win them a $50,000 wedding, all expenses paid, and what's better?  If they win, we all get to vote on different aspects of the wedding!

The wedding would be televised in Fort Wayne and I think this is an overall wonderful opportunity for one of my favorite couples ever.

So, check out the video below for their interview and why everyone should vote for them!

Here is the link for how you can vote (voting starts Friday the 25th)

                       


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