One Thing, I Don’t Know Why ~ KPop

Someone asked me the other day (no, they didn’t) why I like K-Pop so much (seriously, they don’t give a shit.)

Ah, ah, ah…it’s because it’s the  *whole package*

gallery-1466437562-jeff-goldblum

Much like that fantastic sample of a man.

Seriously though, there was a time when music was synonymous with pop music and an actual media culture existed around that.

Allow me to digress.

“Pop” music is actually short for “popular” music. It’s not so much a genre, as it is a method: create music according to a template, in order to get as many fans (and thus dolla dolla bills, ya’alls) as possible.

Pop infects every genre, whether or not the artists responsible want to admit it. I mean, look at pop-punk. Punk itself is a barely-listenable incoherent mess about politics or something. Whatever. It has its fans. Good for them. BUT THEN we have pop-punk.

The_Offspringgreen day 90s

See what I’m saying here? And I mean really, like 80’s hair metal really was pop metal. It was a watered-down version of a genre, recreated to hit the mainstream. Although, to be fair, a lot of those guitarists don’t get anywhere near the credit they should for being AWESOME.

So ANYWAY. There was a time, when pop music was basically synonymous with anything at all that anyone was listening to. Jazz, big band, swing, whatever–but there was one moment that solidified it. Remember it? Probably not. Here’s a clue.

Beatles-Ed-Sullivan-Show-Web-optimised-1000

If you don’t have any inkling of what that picture represents, there’s not a lot I can say except: go fuck yourself. Yeah, shit just got real, I’m sorry, but if you fall into that camp, you and I don’t have anything more to say.

Anyway, my point is, music used to be a CULTURE. It wasn’t waiting 4 years between albums for your favorite prog-[insert genre] band to get over the death of their grandmother or whatever to write music about it.

And there’s nothing wrong with bands or groups taking time to produce something. I’m all about the perfection of art.

But music used to be multiple small releases a year; live performances on TV; variety shows where the artists inevitably said something embarrassing; collectible ANYTHINGS with your favorite artist on them [See the Eminem-inspired “Stan,” if you will.]

So this is, partly, outside of my love for the music itself, is why I love K-Pop. It’s, as I stated, the whole package. It’s constant. It’s changing. There’s visuals, audios, candid moments; I can see my favorite (and least favorite) artists making adorable asses of themselves on TV. There’s a sense of community, even if sometimes it’s more about fighting a hate group than embracing a fandom (thank you, internet.)

There’s plenty of things I love that take their sweet time. But this isn’t one of them, and that’s something I love.

I’m Pretty Fucking Depressed, tbh

It’s been over a year since I wrote anything here, and while a lot of positive things have happened since then in my own life, my personal outlook, and the care I give myself have declined.

I turned 38 two days ago. I wish I could say it was a sobering moment, but that would be a lie considering I was drunk the entire fucking day and spent the next day shivering through a sugar crash, something I’ve done to myself before but am apparently too stupid or too self destructive to stop.

I’m on day two now of almost no sleep, and that won’t normalize until tonight or tomorrow. It goes like clockwork.

They say artists are troubled people. Or are troubled people artists?

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, it was so easy to stop drinking and start eating healthy. I had the support of my mother and frankly I didn’t want to die.

Now, motherless, trapped in a hellish, filthy house, I look in the mirror and see the reflection of a guy who never quite got a relationship off the ground, who never quite got a career off the ground, who wrote a book exactly two people have read.

It’s not so much that I want to die; it’s that I don’t want to exist.

I’m not going to do anything crazy. I’m not going to kill myself. There are still things I want to do. There are still people I care about, although every day it feels like less care about me.

But it’s time to admit that I’m an off-again, on-again alcoholic, and no, I don’t think that’s automatically a negative thing in a sense. I don’t abuse people and I don’t get angry or destructive (outside of what the booze is doing to my own body,) but I have done some pretty stupid shit and definitely rubbed some people the wrong way.

Technically now I’m pre-diabetic, which is almost unbelievable to me given the downward spiral I’ve been on since I lost the first well-paying job I’ve had, back in June. Things are looking up now, work-wise, but habits have set in.

Perhaps the crux of it all is I’m trapped. I can’t leave my house for more than twelve hours at a time without making special arrangements because I have a dog that needs insulin and a family unwilling or unavailable to help. I have a father who doesn’t physically know how to pay his own bills and doesn’t care to learn. When I leave this house, it’s going to fall apart, and I don’t care.

But what if I never get to leave?

I’ve actually thought about retooling this site, as I have already once before. hoping to maybe find some catharsis in casual writing. I’ve had some specific ideas, like “Reviews so Late No One Cares” where I write reviews on things that have already been out for a significant amount of time. Or, I’ve considered really immersing myself in K-Pop culture and keeping a blog because I can probably find an audience here for something none of my friends care to talk about with me.

But I’ve been constructive lately anyway and that hasn’t really helped. I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Growing Up Not Good Enough

cropped-20160827_172042.jpg
That picture up there–that might not seem that bad, at first. Maybe I just had a party.

Nope. Don’t do that. Not any more, not in a long time.

Nope, that–and all the dishes you can’t see, the ones on the counter behind me, the ones on the stove–those are about 90% of the dishes and utensils in my entire house, and, except for any I needed to use, they haven’t been washed for months. The smell from the bottom of the sink is astounding, by the way.

You see, the last time I washed all the dishes was a Saturday, and I was day drunk. I remember that clearly. I haven’t gotten so much as a buzz since before July 4th, so that means it’s been over three months since anyone in my household–me, my father, my brother–has washed the dishes.

Before you call me out for being a slob, I want to point out that for a year and a month prior to that July, with one solitary exception, I was the only person who washed dishes at all. And I did them regularly.

This was a test, for my family, and it was one they failed spectacularly, and frankly, I don’t have the time or the energy to put into it any more. I’m fatigued by the entire ordeal and I want nothing to do with it.

I’m going to air some dirty laundry. If this makes you bored (or uncomfortable,) or you know me personally and you’re just sick of hearing about this, feel free to close this browser tab. I won’t hold it against you.

Today my father–drunk, as usual–asked my brother and I if we’d like to get food with him, it being a Sunday night and none of us having worked or had plans.

Sure. Whatever.

I convince my brother to come with me up to the diner down the street, that I don’t want to order ahead of time, that I want to just sit somewhere that isn’t my house for a bit today. Neither of us want him driving, of course. Let it be said that my dad is remarkably decent at driving under the influence, but I am by no means encouraging or condoning that and if he’s going to do it I want nothing to do with it.

So, the two of us are at the diner. Our order is taking awhile. Finally, we get it, we go outside…and run into my father who’s on his way in. Apparently, we were taking so long that he got curious, and he decided to come to the diner to check up on everything.

In what fucking way would that possibly affect ANYTHING at all? What fucking point does that make, what sensibility is there to that? You’re drunk, dad. Stay home. In his defense (which is not a phrase I use with any agreement behind it; rather, it’s just a convenient set of words,) he wasn’t extremely drunk, he wasn’t instant car crash drunk. He rarely is. But that situation was an instant anxiety trigger, to say the least.

Look, I get it. The man’s wife died suddenly a year and a half ago. They were married for almost forty years. But that woman was also my mother, and I knew her my entire life, and I’m in a better state mentally, physically, and financially, than I ever have been before.

I’m not just getting by, I’m actually starting to thrive.

Remember that sink picture up there? This is a man who used to get angry if we left drips of water on the counter top.

My father had good intentions. He wanted to be a better parent than his father had been to him. And knowing that, and looking back, I can see where he tried. I can’t say he failed, but I also can’t say he succeeded; his father was not my father. I did not grow up in his world, in his family. But I can remember my mother telling me this in a sad voice.

I can remember when he did get extremely drunk. I can remember the yelling. I don’t want you to think that I’m speaking of abuse; I’m not. My father never laid a hand on me or my mother (outside of spankings I probably deserved,) and when they yelled, it was real, and my mother gave as good as she took.

I’m sure there were things I wasn’t aware of. Even if I was at the time, the young mind has a way of trying to protect itself.

There was a time when my dad took me to the store to buy Nintendo games. Both parents played video games so they were fairly generous when it came to such things, and I can’t remember the reason but this was a big deal because I got to pick out two. And, when I got home, I asked my mother why my dad had driven me there drunk. And she said “Oh honey, he hasn’t been drinking, it’s called being a dry drunk, it’s a side affect when addicts quit drinking some times.”

I know AA helped them. I know AA has helped a lot of people, but AA has its own brand of Kool-Aid it makes you drink.

I believed what my mother said for decades until it dawned on me one day that it didn’t make any goddamn sense. My dad was drunk that day. He was loud, he was happy, but he was drunk. “Dry drunk,” if it exists at all, is a mood. It’s a resentment. It’s not speeding and taking turns too fast and laughing.

If you’re still reading at this point, you may be wondering where the article title came from.

When I was a kid I never mowed the lawn. I never helped my dad fix the car or work around the house. I never washed the family’s cars. Hell, I never cleaned anything except my own room (and I was shit at that, to be fair.) My mother straight up told me it was because my father didn’t think I would do a good job. Rather than take the time to teach me, he avoided it altogether. I don’t think I touched a tool other than a screwdriver until middle school shop class, and that was probably only to open the battery compartment on one of my toys.

This carried over to other things, too. I either wasn’t ready, or my parents thought I wasn’t ready, to drive during high school, so I never took driver’s ed. I honestly can’t remember. Being overdosed on Ritalin for ADHD will do that to your brain.

In my mid twenties, though, after a protracted period of begging to be taught to drive, my father finally told him me had no intention of teaching me unless I bought my own car first.

Because I would crash his. Because I wasn’t good enough.

Why the fuck would I buy a car if I couldn’t drive it?

This led to an intense argument, an argument I tried to walk away from, was pulled back into and into the only physical altercation I’ve ever had with my father, and after panicking on my part and some incredibly sloppy police work, I was found to be at fault, and the few hundred meager dollars I’d saved up towards a car evaporated into court fees by the middle of the week.

Justice had been served.

My house smells. It smells like old rotten food and weed. I have to clean the stove periodically because no one else ever will and I’m afraid of the build-up catching on fire. I’ve stopped cooking anything complicated because there isn’t even room to wash the dishes I need. I have to check for toilet paper before I go to the bathroom because I’m the only person who ever remembers to buy it. Same with paper towel, dish soap, laundry soap, dryer sheets, toothpaste, shampoo, the list goes on.

I do the bills. ALL of them. My dad wants to take over; I typed out, step-by-step, how to do each one; he’s intimidated by it.

I’d do more, just for my own standard of living, but there’s only so much I have the will or the time for.

When my mom died, I set up the funeral, with help from my cousin. I worked through the paperwork to get the life insurance paid out. I wrote the checks to pay for the service.

Not good enough, my ass.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there was ever any malice. But there was apathy, and that’s sometimes worse.

And yet I’m doing fine. I have a car. I’m driving. I have a new job that pays okay, and that will pay pretty well if I bust ass at it. The hours are long and I’m sad and exhausted a lot. But I have a book published, with another one on the way. I have some people that I’m very fond of in my life.

My dad was talking to me the other day, about how he’d like to spend (blow) his insurance money on moving to Birmingham, that maybe I could transfer out there.

My friends are here, my friends are down river. If I move, it won’t be for you, old man.

Blood of the covenant, and what have you.

How I feel about the ending of Xenoblade Chronicles X *MASSIVE SPOILERS*

I have a website with my friends. You might be familiar with it, it’s called http://www.DrunkDorks.com.

This is the kind of article I would normally write for that. I’m not, because it’s full of spoilers, and that kind of article is never good news for a website like ours.

So, knowing that, here we go. You’ve been warned.

Xenoblade Chronicles X (hereafter referred to as XCX) is the story of one of the last bastions of humanity leaving Earth as it is literally being destroyed.

YOUR ship–the White Whale–lands on a planet called Mira.

The next 40 to 350 hours of your game play, depending on how you play, clearly identifies party member and NPC Elma as the main character, not you.

I’m fine with that. That’s not what I have a problem with. I’ve played enough JRPGs to be okay with the whole silent protagonist motif.

We learn early on that Mira is a strange place. The Nopon (the Moogles of the XC universes…ses) tell you flat out that they don’t understand why they understand YOU. No one is speaking the same language, there is no universal translator, nothing.

The Ma-Non race–and your primary enemy, the Ganglion collective–can’t leave Mira. That much is straight-out told to you.

When push comes to shove, the Samaar Federation–which is MENTIONED in the narrative, only briefly–becomes the driving force of the entire plot. It’s honestly like Prometheus–which I love, by the way–only MORE nonsensical.

See, the Ganglion collective, the villains of the whole story, attacked Earth, because it turns out that humans are descendants of the Samaar, who created the Ganglion as a servitor race, and as a fail safe, have a method WRITTEN INTO THEIR DNA to kill any Ganglion on contact.

THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH.

No. The issue is Mira itself, and the way the narrative is absurdly convenient.

Don’t get me wrong. XCX is an AMAZING game and I clocked in at about 300 hours just prior to beating the campaign, and will probably add another 200 to 300 hours just to finish the rest of the optional stuff. But a good game isn’t always a SMART game.

It turns out that Elma–who just happens to be your boss and just happens to be on the one ark of many that left Earth that you happen to also be on–is an alien who arrived on Earth thirty years prior to the Ganglion invasion to provide warning and tech to survive the actual destruction of our entire planet.

That’s still not what I’m pissed about.

The thing–oh my God,. the thing–after 40 to 300 hours, depending on how you played–after learning that all humans are actually remote-controlled robots, with their bodies trapped in the Lifehold, which you need to find–after finding out no, this was a lie too, the Lifehold is a quantum computer with the collected minds and reconstructive biologic data of 20 million humans, but then–no–Elma breaks into it–

It’s destroyed. It has been all along. There is no living record of anyone’s mental structure. There is no logical reason anyone from the White Whale is still alive in any sense of the word.

“IT’S THIS PLANET!!!”

No. Nonononononono. Go fuck yourself. I did not play 300+ hours to get a slapdash ending that winds up being a teaser for a nonexistant game/dlc.

I LOVE this game. I love it so fucking much. It’s in my top 5 RPGs of all times and the closest I’ve ever felt to having everything I’ve actually loved about MMORPGs shunted into a single character game.

But the story…oh my God, the story. If I could will my tears to be blood, I would.

/endrant

On the Volatility of Independent Comics

My friend, Stefani, has recently resigned from her position at Master Plot Comics.

There are a lot of rumors circling about the apparent implosion that followed, or was already in progress, depending on who you ask. I’m not going to talk about that, not exactly. Although I’ll no doubt learn the dirty details from my friend, it’s not my place to spread them around.

I will talk about what I think was the root problem: biting off more than can be chewed. Setting goals too high. As artists of all types, we have a double-edged optimism. The sky is the limit, or at least it feels like it should be, when we’re crafting our work. When we’re creating, and we get happy, it feels like nothing can hold us back.

And then we finish, we take a step back, and realization hits like a ton of bricks, and the pessimism sets in.

“How the fuck am I going to pay for this?”

I know a guy. Not in person, but I’ve spoken to him several times. He wanted to make a comic book. He decided to make a company instead. It did not go well.

I’m not going to pick on him, but rather, use him as an example, hopefully something we can all learn from.

Two cliches come to mind: it takes money to make money, and the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I see a lot of this now, crowdfunding being used to try and support a single title. And then the one after that. And then the one after that, if returns haven’t diminished to the point where the project is essentially dead. And it pains me to see this; I know what it is to have a vision and want to share it with the world, to be blocked by a lack of funds. The sad truth is most Kickstarters and Indiegogos and what have you fail, at least when it comes to unproven projects. And yet more and more independent creators are turning to this method to try and get their first book out the door.

I am, in no uncertain terms, completely against this concept, and I think it’s screwed over a lot of people who thought it was the ticket to having their voice heard.

There are countless success stories of people who bet the farm and won, but that’s not a realistic goal. It’s important to go into any financial venture with a safety net.

For the same reason you can’t afford to let your dreams crash and burn on the whims (and wallets) of an uncertain populace, you can’t afford to start a company (or really, any large financial excursion) without capital, specifically, capital you can afford to lose.

But our eyes are so big and our hearts so willing to give. If only we had the money….

I’m not saying that crowdfunding doesn’t have its place in independent comics and independent artistry in general; it certainly does, and I’ve seen many successful instances of it. But it’s generally best used when money has already been recouped and one is wishing to reward his or her fans, like a certain someone who pays out of pocket for his individual issues and then runs a crowdfunding campaign for a bonus-filled trade paperback. It certainly is not the way to get an entire company off the ground.

These are my opinions, and you’re free to disagree, of course. I know that money wasn’t the only problem in the aforementioned implosion, but I know it played a major part.

Again, I’m not trying to pick on anyone. I wish the best for the creators that have now been left high and dry, and for those responsible to one day find redemption, if they so choose to search for it.

But, I think it’s important to learn from incidents like this.

I’m about to enter this scary world myself. I have one book in the editing cycle and another in the early stages, and a game I intend to complete *some day* and which will be part of a Kickstarter (the difference, being, I can complete all of the work on my own time, at little expense, but it seems the most reasonable way to sell it.)

I’d like to succeed. I may easily fumble and fail. We’ll see. But being a part of this community has taught me things. Hopefully it teaches us all.

–Chim

My Second Novel?

As I spoke about here and here, my first novel is completed, and in the well of editing hell being performed by my best friend, Stefani.

Obviously I can’t give away too much, but I typed up a basic plot synopsis a while back for a Facebook post. Here ya go:

“A young woman is found to have symptoms which make her a prime subject for a military, deep black project. Kidnapped from her family, she is experimented on to bring out latent psychic abilities. Confined to a laboratory, she meets another young woman with no past and similar powers. As they begin to fall for each other, they dream of escaping. Once they are finally free and on the run, they learn to their dismay that they must return, as they are destined to try and stop a malevolent force they are partially responsible for releasing into the world.

It’s a bit clunky and will go through some re-writes before it hits the back cover, but there it is.

I’ve planned it to be the first book in a series of at least three, likely more, books. And, by planned, I mean, “I have vague notions of certain events and characters.”

The protagonists of the series, the young women Raven and Mina, meet after the book explores their lives separately. The rest of the book is their story, together.

I’d like to do something similar in the next book, but the parallel story takes place with a character living in a “magic city,” if you will, that’s touched upon (perhaps too briefly) in the first book. Eventually, this character’s story will reconnect with that of the girls.

I hope.

Now, here’s the challenge for me. I’ve written science fiction, and I’ve dabbled in fantasy, but my city is more fantastical than fantasy, more Clive Barker or Terry Pratchett than J.R.R. Tolkien or R.A. Salvatore. This isn’t an area I’ve written in, but I want to, and I want to get good at it. I want it to feel real and impossible at the same time, that is, I want it be believable within its own rules, but beyond what is possible on Earth.

That, I think, is the cornerstone of believable fantasy: a self-consistent universe.

In any case, I believe to write well, you must also read well, and I have some reading to do.

 

 

Writing and Reading

So, I finished my novel.

It’s being edited now.

It’s left me kind of restless since while I still watch stuff, read, and play video games, I’ve been working my ass off for about a year now–first on my video game, then, when I wanted to finish a project quickly, my novel. (I’ll get back to the game eventually.)

It’s just weird having this much free time. I have things to work on–in addition to my game, I’m working on a book of short stories with Stefani. I have one of my own done and have plans for two others, and one concept that I may make into a short story, or at the most, a novella. My novel is also intended to be part of a series of three or four books, so there’s that, also.

I just don’t really feel like jumping into anything big at the moment, so I’ll probably work on the short stories. The stories we have written and the ones we have conceptualized run the gamut from horror to “weird fiction.” (Yes, I know that’s not a very long gamut!) Of the two I have planned to work on mainly by myself, one is about deep ones being discovered in a mining town during the building of the transcontinental railroad. The other–I’ll just say I have written permission from a Cthulhu Mythos author to use one of his creations. Stefani may help with that one–I’m not sure yet.

I finished reading Whispered Words recently and unless something I don’t know about comes along, I’m all out of yuri until Citrus 4 releases in December. I have a huge backlog of Buffy the Vampire Slayer,  Angel, and Angel and Faith comics to read, as well as the remastered Ranma 1/2 books, the remastered Scott Pilgrim books, some stuff I borrowed from Rico (Translucid and Oh, Killstrike.) Oh, and I have the Dark Tower series to read. So yes, I have a lot to do, yet I’ve mostly sat listlessly in front of my computer this past week.

As I said in this post, at some point I’d like to write a traditional, yuri, slice-of-life story. The trick is finding the right slice-of-life. A lot of these stories are set in high school because there’s so much going on and so many people that can enter and exit the plot just through the nature of its setting, and the youth of the characters makes it easy to believe that they are still figuring out who they are. While I don’t plan on writing anything particularly explicit, I don’t really want to write about underage girls, either. But I want a setting that’s able to bring interest and intrigue on its own while (maybe) still involving young adults who may not know who they truly are yet.

It’s pretty easy to write a relationship against a sweet sci-fi backdrop but the events of every day life have the chance to inflict boredom.

I don’t know. Maybe I just need to write a better love story.

Maybe I should script it, hmm….

My Novel–Let’s Talk Psychics and Lesbians

I had some time to write fiction today.

My first in over a week. It was about half a chapter, but it was important.

I’m writing a science fiction novel, and, honestly, have been doing so for over a decade. I’m actually almost done, though.

I plan for the next novel(s) to be a bit quicker than that. All that depends on how much money I make, though, and how much free time it affords me.

By the way, the title image has nothing to do with me. It’s from the yuri manga Citrus by Saburouta, which I adore; however, its main characters remind me, at least visually, of mine.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Around a decade ago I started a story, about people with psychic powers, that was influenced by Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRA and Domu. I had just really discovered anime and manga a couple years prior; in my youth I watched things like Voltron (Golion) and Tranzor Z (Mazinger Z) and others, so I honestly already was an anime fan, I just didn’t know it.

So, after my enlightenment (which consisted mainly of Ranma 1/2 and the for-TV dub of Sailor Moon) I took to writing what I now loved (crazy, psychic, science fiction. Right.) I won’t say that I specifically tried to write anime, but I’ll be honest about one thing, at least: until I settled on character names, the placeholders for my two main characters were Makoto and Minako, Sailors Jupiter and Venus, respectively. (Makoto became Raven, and Minako became…Mina.)

I said earlier that (in prettier words) what I wrote/am writing is kind of an homage to Otomo’s works about psychics. I even give him a shout out in a couple scenes. I love me some AKIRA.

Incidentally, three of my characters have the exact same first names as the three main characters from the movie Chronicle.

TETSUOGo on, tell me I was the only one who screamed “TETSUO!” around this part.
Oh wait, you can’t. Because I wasn’t.

This was honestly a complete coincidence; my characters were named well before this movie was even a notion in someone’s mind; my characters were named after two of my cousins and one of my best friends from high school.

I wanted to tell a love story as well, and somewhat haphazardly, I picked two women. I’m not going to deny that part of the reason for writing two women was…that it was kind of hot. Since then (this was a long time ago, remember,) the fact that they are women has become important to the plot of planned books, and my views on sexuality and LGBT issues have matured since then, at least. I never wrote to be prurient, but earlier drafts were a bit more explicit in describing the physical side of their relationship.

Recently though, I’ve become completely bored with the notion of writing a relationship with a man in it. That’s not to say I won’t; I’ve written a short story with Stefani about a couple in a heterosexual relationship, and I have one planned for the next novel in this series. But still, that’s how I feel. Maybe it’s the oversaturation of the rom-com; maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never had much luck in my own relationships. It is what it is, I suppose.

Recently I’ve become quite the unapologetic fan of yuri manga. I think it’s helped me write unconventional love better. I’ve written (am writing) a story that is (technically) a science fiction story, but it’s very much about people and their interactions, and this relationship is only one of several. But, it’s important, because it is the main characters and also the only romantic relationship in the book.

I’ve come to embrace this idea, and it will probably be a theme in much of what I write, to be completely honest. It’s kind of stupid–part of the genre conceit is the (nonsense) concept that two women can be in a physical, loving relationship, and yet somehow remain “pure.” It’s related to the quote (and I did try and find the source, and couldn’t) that the only reason the word “virgin” exists is because it assumes that having a penis inside you somehow fundamentally changes who you are as a person. Again, it’s complete nonsense, but i won’t deny there’s an allure to it, the purity angle, in a literary sense.

Back to the psychic stuff, yeah, it’s your typical telekinesis, pyrokinesis, teleportation–your easily weaponizable stuff. That’s kind of central to the plot as well. I actually have a whole chart drawn up, with abilities and how they develop as strength increases. I like keeping notes. Most of this really comes to a head in the fourth act, which has been difficult to write. It’s a departure from the flow of the rest of the book, so it’s taking some time to work out.

In regards to the “yuri” label, I’ve been referring to my work as “lily sci-fi”, as yuri is Japanese for lily. I’ve tried not to mirror the amount of crying that tends to take place in this genre…my women aren’t sappy or weak…but a LOT of terrible things happen to them.

So…book coming out. Hopefully soon.

We’ll see.

Super Mario Maker–A Couple Weeks In

When I first got Super Mario Maker, I was pretty bummed at the features it was lacking. I won’t go all into it–you can read my article here if you want (although I did get one thing wrong, spikes become Jelectros in the SMB3 theme) but I will mention some of the most baffling. Namely, the inability to make vertical stages, the inability to tie a door to one or more “bosses” so it can’t be entered until they’re beaten, power-ups in block not converting to mushrooms when you’re small, and, perhaps most baffling of all, you can’t string your stages together into an actual game.

What I did find was that the game was still amazing, and lets you do plenty of things that Mario games generally don’t do. You can place almost anything on a wire and it will move along it; you can stack enemies; you can put almost anything into a Bullet Bill launcher. I’m still discovering new things, like the behaviors of enemies when you put wings on them. There are very specific things I don’t like, such as how Lakitus throw slowly and ALWAYS leave a cloud when defeated, so you either put them where they can’t be reached or just accept that players are going to fly through most of your stage.

What I was hoping for was that I would be able to play some classically designed stages from the community, especially in the Mario 3 theme, as that was my favorite Mario game.

I could not have been more wrong.

I never expected everyone to be good at level design; I expected most people wouldn’t. But I very, VERY rarely come across anything that actually feels like a Mario stage. There are some very cool automatic stages and some stages that do things with the objects I would never have thought of (there’s a reason sporky is in top spot of creators) but by and large, stages are dickishly difficult in the most trollish ways, or otherwise just horribly designed and in most cases just ugly to look at with no sense of aesthetics.

Hopefully Nintendo will patch in an ability to label our stages, search by labels, and flag incorrect labels, but right now finding anything in particular is essentially impossible.

It’s a shame, really, that playing my own stages (mostly harder Mario 3-concept stages) is more fun than playing any I find online, even though I already know all of my secrets and tricks.

I still expect great things out of this game, but a lot of that won’t come without patching in more features and fixing some of the ones that are already there.

Whispered Words and Writing Female Love as a Man

I just got volumes two and three of “Whispered Words” by Takashi Ikeda today.

I really, really liked volume one.

It’s the first yuri manga I’ve read that was written by a man, and it’s actually better than some I’ve read by women. (I don’t have a whole lot to go on, though. There isn’t that much available in America. Yet.)

I don’t know if it’s a gender thing or just a difference in writing, but this one has a lot more comedy, including some zany karate hijinks, and cross-dressing played both straight and for laughs. There’s also a lot less crying–at least as of volume one.

It’s not that I have a problem with crying or less comedy, but it’s interesting to see a slightly different take on the genre than I’m used to. And certainly, Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma 1/2 has ALL of the things in the above paragraph, and it was written by a woman.

So…maybe I’m just rambling. I’m pretty sure I am.  But it’s a different take, at least slightly so. The rest is the same things I love about what I’ve read from other yuri works (that I’ve enjoyed)–beautiful art, interesting characters, heartfelt emotions.

I guess what my point is, is that it gives me some hope that I’ll be able to write a believable relationship between two women. Maybe not so much in the novel I’m finishing up–those characters get together under bizarre circumstances, and are drawn together by fate. I don’t doubt them or their scenes together, but maybe in another project I’ll be able to take things more slowly and cultivate a more gradual relationship.

I’d really like to write that someday.