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News from a Micro-World

6 Sep

Another Tuesday. Jeff found out that he’s gainfully employed once more today, at my current place of work no less, so I took him out for too much sushi and a walk around Barnes and Noble. We’re both very full now and getting ready to watch some Castle, though I’m also webbing and he’s turning the air blue trying to figure out what the hell trying to make Dead Island work has done to his graphics card. Kettle’s on, waiting for a boil and some tea. So far a hot cup of tea is the closest thing I have to a cure for insomnia.

When we were at the bookstore I saw that they’ve started making statues of Stainboy, and they’re selling them along with statues of Oyster Boy for Tim Burton’s new book, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy. I may go back. I’ve always loved Stainboy. Because I’m a closet goth and Burton hipster who used to watch the Stainboy cartoons before anyone knew what they were.

This show, Castle, it’s really good except occasionally the songs they play before the intro and the end credits are so awful it makes me want to die a little.

I’m actually not doing that all right. Sad to say. Not to go into it here, but life’s definitely throwing a few emotional curve balls my way. I’m surviving, but the early mornings, long hours and high stress situations aren’t helping. It could be worse, it could always be worse, but that’s small comfort when I’m feeling stuck. Very stuck. No way to turn in my box. it’s a spacious box, and it’s fairly comfortable, but it’s still locked. Still a prison.

/melodrama.

Still posting comics. Still happy with how the art is progressing and the story’s unfoldings. Those have minimal chance of stopping soon, so that’s another good thing.

Sunday night Jeff and I couldn’t figure out what to do while we hung out, having just marathoned TV shows and gone to a cookout at my folk’s house, so we decided to start a comic project together. More on that later, we’re still in the conceptual planning stage.

And I’ve decided my previously determined upcoming NaNoWriMo 2011 novel, Undertaker, is going to happen earlier than predicted. The characters won’t let their little hooks out of my brainstem. More on that later too. If I can get it done before November, as well as going insane I’ll have another novel ready to go.

My life is a juggling game of creative projects. I do prefer it that way.

Other than that nothing to report. My brain is still damaged and I’m spontaneously bursting into tears for no good reason. I’m also not eating much. Working on it though. Jeff helps. it’s what he does. That and fix his computer. Dead Island is running again. And get jobs. Good jobs. I’m proud of him, and looking forward to seeing him around the office. It may be a little weird that we work in the same place, but we’ll be doing different things and both stupid busy to boot. So it’ll work out. I rather think it’ll be great.

I’ve been watching the new season of Doctor Who with my friend Beta. It’s awesome, but Matt Smith’s head still looks like a potato.

That’s all for now. Hope you all have survivable weeks with swiftly impending weekends.

 

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Videogames, the Liberal Agenda, Sexuality

24 Mar

So I wrote a new blog post.

Rather than attempt to transfer it all over here, I posted it up at my Gaming blog. Follow the link below to read it!

Videogames, the Liberal Agenda, Sexuality

All the Updates

18 Mar

Because I’ve been neglectful, here are various updates regarding the state of The Uncomfort Zone:

General Life Update:

I just finished week 2 at the new job, my parents are out of town on alternating weekends meaning I’m spending a lot of time keeping both my mother and father company. And by that I mean eating them out of house and home. Jeff’s about to go on Spring break, which he will spend gaming and studying while I work. It’s Friday, I have a beer in my hand, and I”m gonna make fajitas for dinner. After I clean the kitchen.

Work Update:

Like I said, it’s the end of week two at the New Job, and things are going well. I’m still typing up comments on surveys, and passing the time listening to the Drunk Tank podcast from the guys at Rooster Teeth. Other than that, I’ve been spending my breaks reading Jim Butcher books (currently reading Furies of Calderon) and fighting the possessed demon vending machine. Also, I’ve been occasionally taking the bus to save gas.

Money Update:

I am poor. As dirt. Assuming dirt is as poor as I am. I get paid for honest reals a week from today, so I get to experiment with stretching my meager money resources until then. At least I still have beer.

Social Life Update:

I joined a new D&D group, which won’t start until the end of the month. It’s a Pathfinder game, and I’m playing a half-elf druid, who doesn’t have a name yet, but I’ll get there. Other than that I’ve been a complete hermit.

Art/Writing Update:

Due to the abject poverty I’m hoping to start trying to get some of my stories published, work on my novel and start offering commissions on DeviantArt. That stuff’s all in the works anyway. I’ll get to it… eventually.

Health and Food Update:

Well, I’m walking more. I’m hoping to get back into actually exercising next week now that I’ve got something resembling a work routine. I’m eating as well as I can on a poverty budget, but taking sammiches to work definitely helps with that. That and cooking more, despite the constant state of disaster our kitchen is in.

TV Update:

I finished watching Ugly Betty. It was cute, and I really enjoyed it. Now I have a void in my life where TV should be. Any suggestions folks?

Gaming Update:

I’m not done with Pokemon Black yet, which is why I haven’t blogged about it yet. Sadly, I think I burned myself out a little playing HeartGold for a week straight before Black came out. But I’m almost 4 badges in, and started with Snivy. I promise I will write a real review when I’ve finished. I’m also playing Oblivion on the 360, which is definitely fun. I’ve been blogging about my gaming habits on my new side blog, Not Your Gamer Girlfriend, over here. You should check it out. It’s fun to write 🙂

Twitter WTF: Decoded

2 Mar

I’ve been on twitter for about a year and a half now on a daily basis, and one of the things that never fails to mystify me is the little cluster of Trending Topics on the sidebar. Hashtag fever is still an epidemic, and I find myself indulging in them myself on occasion, whether it’s to make fun of myself, denote something as a drunk tweet, or shamelessly fangirl at one of my favourite movies, TV shows or musicians.

The other purpose of hastags, it would seem, is to confuse the hell out of me every time I look over to the little Trending Topics sidebar. I find myself staring down the list of names, portmanteaued words and unintelligible nonsense, and click them only to find that most of the top hashtags are people asking ‘what the hell does #muttonchip have to do with anything?

So, after days and days of staring and pondering, I present to you Lora’s Trending Topics of the hour Decoded, as of 6:00pm CST on March 2nd:

Trending Topic #1: #Focusrally

This appears to be related to the Ford Focus, and it’s at the top of the list because it’s the Promoted Topic. It appears to be related to this and involves people driving across the country completing challenges, reality TV style. I assume the prize is they get to keep the car? I don’t know. The promoted TT’s seem to defeat the purpose of the concept to me, so I pretty much write them off as shameless adspace that keeps the glory of twitter alive.

TT #2: #sorryjustin

Guess what, another Justin Beiber TT. Because the whole ‘ZOMFUG Why didn’t Justin win a grammy whine whine my life is over’ fangirl twitter mess wasn’t enough, now there’s more drama? This twitter apology apparently comes from the fans due to the actions of a crazy fangirl who punched his girlfriend on his birthday? Or something? ‘Beliebers’ remind me a little bit of Twihards, and that’s not something I want to see more of in my life Twitter. Thanks.

Also, the Beibs is only turning 17? Dear Gog, America. You depress the ever living crap out of me.

TT #3: #tigerblood

This is apparently related to Charlie Sheen. And a fellow named Frank McCourt. I don’t know. All I care about with Charlie-boy is that finally they’ll stop making Two and a Half Men. Here’s a relevant link, for the confused or amused.

TT #4: #tipicasmentiras

Roadblock: I know no spanish, and that appears to be the language this originated in. I’m at a loss folks. Even google has given up on me in this case. I think it’s something to do with a facebook app, but the only way to find out was to give the app access to my info. This is harder than it seems folk.

TT #5: McLobster.

Okay, WHAT. Apparently McDonalds is really upping it’s game in the class factor, because the McLobster sandwich is real.
I kind of want to go punch the guy who came up with this in the gut. The words ‘Fast Food Lobster’ should ALWAYS be an oxymoron.

TT #6: Sleepwalker

This appears to be a reference to at least one song. So far Twitter thinks it’s related to an Adam Lambert tune. I’ve never heard it, and I can’t say I care enough about Adam Lambert to track it down, but that’s what that is I think. I guess. Twitter is a thrilling place today it seems.

TT #7: Fleur Agema

Fleur Agema is apparently a Dutch Politician, once again limiting my ability to understand why the hell she’s trending. But here‘s her wiki page, and I think a couple of the tweets referenced racism, so whatever it is, I’m sure it’s thrilling.

TT #8: McSushi.

Okay. No. Just. NO. But it’s real.
That sound? It’s the sound of my hope for humanity dying. Violently.

TT #9: Limburgers

This? I have no clue, but I’m guessing it’s not to do with the slightly pungent cheese. That would be just too boring for the world of gossiphounds and nutjobs that frequent the twitterverse. Or it might be something to do with the Dutch elections. I guess the Loop is off in the distance and I’m over here watching dumb TV.

That or it’s another Charlie Sheen thing.

TT #10: Selic

… yeah, not sure. I think though, judging from all the Portuguese, it’s something to do with this.

So that’s today’s Twitter roundup. Justin Beiber has crazy fans, McDonalds is still gross, and there’s a lot going on with the Dutch. That’s Tuesday in a nutshell on the Twitterverse.

Lora’s 8 Stages of Fandom

11 Feb

I know I’m not the only member of my friend-pod who suffers from chronic Fandom. Be it a webcomic, movie, TV series, mythos, culture, you name it, there are Fandoms everywhere, and I admit, I’m decidedly a part of them. To name a few, I’m an avid member of the following fandoms:

– Harry Potter
– Buffy/Angel
– Firefly/Serenity
– Doctor Who
– Torchwood
– Chuck
– Repo! The Genetic Opera
– Questionable Content
– Lord of the Rings
– My Chemical Romance
– Star Wars
– Star Trek
– Homestuck

Some of these, Homestuck for example, are recent fandom discoveries, and others like Star Wars have been part of my Fandom life since I was in the single digits of my life-age. While pondering this, I also pondered the steps I seem to repeatedly go through during my discovery and acceptance of a new Fandom into the squidgy hole where my heart used to be. After some more pondering, and eating some cheese, I compiled a rough list of my personal 8 stages of Fandom.

DISCLAIMER: Fandom is not the same for everyone. My coming to love a Fandom is different from many other folks’ journeys. A lot of the principles, however, are the same. So here it goes:

Stage 1: Discovery

“Hey, have you tried reading this comic? It’s really good!”

Discovery comes in many forms for a Fandom. Sometimes that Fandom comes to you through a close friendship or relationship (personal examples: Firefly, Chuck), sometimes through family (Star Wars, Angel) and other times through independent discovery (Doctor Who). Whatever the method, this is where Fandom begins, where the seed is planted and roots are put down.

Stage 2: Casual Perusal

“Hm, I’ll give the first chapter a try…”

This is the stage where the Fandom is explored. For Harry Potter fandom, for example, Perusal involves reading the original books written by JK Rowling. For TV shows, it’s watching an episode or two. For comics, it’s reading a page or three of the archives, and so on. My Perusal of Star Wars occurred when I was ten years old and watched the Special Edition of Star Wars: A New Hope with my parents. I remember little of the encounter, except that the seat I was given was too low and that it was really loud.

Stage 3: Abandonment

“Meh, I’m gonna go watch re-runs instead…”

Not a common stage, but a pattern I’ve recognized in my fandom journeys is that it takes a few tries for me to get truly invested in a Fandom. Examples of these ‘false start fandoms’ for me have included Harry Potter, Homestuck, Lord of the Rings and Chuck. It says nothing of their quality, just of my attention span. I can be facing the most amazing Fandom in existence, but if I’m distracted by something shiny, forget it.

Stage 4: Re-Occurrence

“Hm, this actually gets good once you get past the early exposition…”

This happens in a variety of ways. Perhaps a friend drags me to watch a movie I previously felt reluctant about. Perhaps I’m bored and my mind wanders back to a long-forgotten story that bears new discovery. Maybe I just didn’t get far enough into it. Whatever the reason, reaching true Fandom requires returning to that first discovery in some manner over a short (or long) span of time.

Stage 5: Devouring

“It’s 4AM and I have to be up in 3 hours but OH GOG I CAN’T STOP READING hlaghlasdghlghlgh”

A melodramatic term perhaps, but it’s the best way to describe the method one uses to absorb the items of Fandom. When a new Harry Potter book emerged, I absconded with it to my room and stayed there for hours, reading and ignoring all distractions. Webcomics kept me up until the sun came up with their storylines and drama. I systematically swallowed up whole seasons of TV shows in less than a week. This is where the build of the material is experienced, where the source becomes realized.

Stage 6: Obsession

“Wow, people actually write Buffy/Torchwood crossover fic?”

Once the material has been devoured, the signs of Fandom become abundantly clear. Perhaps it simply begins with a google search, or a conversation with friends, but before you know it you’re trolling Deviantart and Fanfiction.net to experience MORE of these characters and stories, to interact with others who share your passion. You integrate inside jokes into your vocabulary in the hopes others will notice and engage in conversation with you about your Fandom. The Obsession grows and leads you to new levels of nerdery you’d never consider. Like Shipping. And writing fanfiction. Or even drawing smutty slash art for friends.

Yes, in case you were wondering. I have done all of these.

Stage 7: Petering

“Maybe I’ll read this new book later, after I investigate something shiny.”

Similar to Stage 3. Sometimes the obsession comfortably dies, leaving naught but fond memories of times gone by. Other times they don’t and aspects of the Fandom become permanently integrated into your life, be it through cosplay, purchasing merchandise, or if you’re weird like me and have characters that run around in your head chattering at you constantly.

(Lemme tell you, it’s getting crowded in here with all the trolls).

Stage 8: Lasting Love

“Vriska, you’ve wedged your way into my heart and there you will stay. Even if you are shithive maggots.” *

The final stage demonstrates the staying power of a Fandom. Some are flash in the pan, brief infatuations that fade into the past, but others stay for years, decades even, and remain in your heart to inspire your actions, thoughts and dreams.

*Homestuck reference

So that’s my take on my experience with fandom. Others do it different, some have similar experiences. Whatever fills the gaps in your blood-pumping unit, I’m sure Fandom has helped you the way it’s helped me. Be a huge nerd. >.>

The Changing World of Videogames and Gamers

4 Feb

When I was a kid, I didn’t have a lot in the way of games, not compared to my peers. I had a gameboy pocket with two games when I was ten: tetris and pokemon: red. My primary exposures were through my friends and family. The first game I remember witnessing was my cousin, six months older than me, playing Doom on his computer when I was about eight. My best friend in elementary school had a Nintendo 64 and we spent many a day after school playing Bomberman while her sister babysat us.

As I grew up, a child of the early 21st century, I found myself wanting the consoles of my friends – playstations, nintendo consoles, the XBox, but I was hindered by the concerns of my parents. They weren’t overly strict, but they were concerned with the media intake levels of me and my sister. We didn’t own a real television until I was 12, and even then I was only permitted to watch for five hours a day, and only on weekends. Things changed, I grew up, and despite my rampant ADD and love of TV shows I also fostered a love of reading, and a healthy addiction to the internet.

Why were the videogames not encouraged? Most likely their novelty. Their realism. The frequent reports of violence, lethargy, irresponsibility and other such faults occuring due to games were heeded by my parents the same way they heeded the dangers of television rotting my brain. I grew up not necessarily deprived, but definitely without certain technological entertainment devices.

I don’t blame my parents – that’s not what this is about. It’s about the way games are changing, the way the market is changing, the prevalence of games and the new face of gamers.

Putting the fast forward button on my life, now I’m 23. I frequently play games on my computer, the internet, my boyfriend’s 360 and the PS3. I own a Nintendo DS. I enjoy games as escapism, as entertainment and as storytelling. Heck, at this point in my life I’m so invested in the gaming industry I’m hoping to go into law to help it grow and be defended from naysayers.

Clearly the face of gamers has changed. I’m female, first of all, and a social animal. Far removed from the original stereotype of the videogame geek living in his mother’s basement, clutching his controller with Cheeto-stained fingers. So are my friends – my boyfriend is a philosophy major who has been an avid member of the gaming community since childhood. He’s eloquent, well-adjusted, and a really good shot with a sniper rifle (In game of course).

The dark side of gaming exists. I’ve known and even dated guys who spend more time in front of the screen than with the outside world. Not just with World of Warcraft either, but other games. People still lose themselves in their alternate realities.

But that’s not the face of gaming in America any more. The face of gaming in America is so diverse in age, race, class and gender that most everyone these days could qualify as a gamer.

And I’m not the only one who thinks this is a good thing:

Jane McGonigal is just one of the people innovating gaming in the modern world. The idea of games improving the social connections of people and the overall mood of their lives is innovative, but valid. While I hate the concept of action-gaming consoles like the Kinect and Move, I appreciate the marketing approach companies are going for: family. Encouraging gaming as a family activity is changing the nature of games in people’s lives, their role. What used to be seen as an anti-social behavior, a lack of norm, is now becoming not only accepted, but encouraged.

The world is starting to open up. In a few years, I predict students will be taking classes to discuss the literary and philosophical ramifications of games like Bioshock and Dead Space the way I’ve studied graphic novels like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and films like The Maltese Falcon. Multimedia storytelling, in games and on the internet, is growing in prevalence, and is looking to become as common and as worthy of respect as film as an art form.

Videogames ARE art. They’re storytelling. They’re entertainment. They’re an exercise for the brain. They’re a way to bond with family, friends, and significant others. And they’ve changed as much as we have in the last few decades.

Sure, people argue that kids playing an excessive amount of games is unhealthy. I won’t argue, because too much of ANYTHING is unhealthy. If we foster gaming as a positive, networking experience, one that creates bonds instead of damaging them, we’ve moved forward in an age fraught with social technology encouraging distance.

I think we can do it. I’m willing to embrace games as positive social behavior. As tools for growth, as entertainment and art worthy of as much respect if not more than film.

This is the changing face of gaming in the 21st century. I’m a 23 year old female, and I’m a gamer. And I agree with Ms. McGonigal: the more of us who game, the more chance this world has of becoming a better place through a mutual sharing of something, through community.

And at the risk of ending on a sappy note, I just want you all to know that I fucking hate Super Mutants, and that Fallout 3 is awesome. *goes to track down some landmines*

On Unemployment

19 Jan

It’s Wednesday, putting me at day four of unemployment. So far I have accomplished little, but that’s more due to coming down with a lung nose head plague of doom and destruction. On the plus side, I’ve found other ways to keep myself sane and not buckling under the semi-crushing fear of being utterly broke and jobless.

I started watching 30 Rock yesterday, and am now six episodes into season two. For those of you who are at all familiar with this show, I need to inform you all that I am going to become Liz Lemon some time in the next ten years.

Seriously:

It’s gonna happen.

Blurg.

I mentioned this to my boyfriend and all he did was give me a sheepish grin and say “well, I really wasn’t going to say anything… but if it makes you feel better, she’s pretty hot.”

And he’s right. There are worse TV personalities to be doomed to become.

I’ve done a little work between bouts of sneezing. I wrote the first two scenes in my planned serial novel, which I hope to start posting on Friday. I studied some LSAT prep. I’m knitting scarves again.

Apparently unemployment is soon to be synonymous with ‘creepy old lady’. At least I don’t have any cats.

Yet. There were some adorable kittens I saw at Pet Smart yesterday when I went to pick up dead mice for Piglet, Jeff’s albino corn snake. Some day I hope to give those adorable little balls of fur and mayhem a home. As long as they don’t sit on my face. I have a mild allergy to pet fur.

So here I am. Still jobless (yay), still occasionally trying to hack up the small bacteria colony that has made its home in my lungs. Thrilling.