The Sunshine Blogger Award

So, as we mentioned last time around, in addition to the Mystery Blogger award from Red Metal, we were nominated for the Sunshine Blogger award by master of the mental science, bloggess extraordinaire, and dominator of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, Athena. Ran out of time to get my response together for that last week, so let’s address that now.

Rules for the Sunshine Blogger award are:

Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.

Athena is a woman of impeccable taste and decision-making. And also she likes Dragon Age. Thank you very much, Athena, for this recognition. I appreciate your consideration.

Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.

Questions are:

1. If you could change one thing about AAA gaming, what would it be?

This is one of those somewhat trendy business management things, but I would increase the focus on Human-Centered Design. For a quick 101-level summary, the philosophy there is that generally, there’s three directions most people start from when designing a new product. There’s the business side, which seeks to build things that are economically viable, the practical side, which builds things you’re capable of doing, and the human side, which builds things that people want to use. Any product you release has to satisfy elements of all three spheres to be successful, but when you’re just in the early stages, planning things out, you typically start in one of those spheres mentally and move into the others after you’ve started prototyping and actually testing those projects out. Whichever one you start with has the biggest influence on what shape the product tapes. I get the feeling that a lot of AAA gaming starts more in the sphere of seeking financial viability rather than something that’s going to have an impact on the end user, and I’d like to see that shift.

2. Do you think pineapple belongs on pizza?

Absolutely. Pineapple and onion pizza is one of my favorites.

3. Is there an article on your site that you would write differently, knowing what you know now? Which one?

Eh, don’t think so. I can’t think of anything I’ve written that I wouldn’t stand by. Some of them I’d have plenty to add to, my opinions might have changed on a few, but I can’t think of any that I’d re-write.

My post about being unable to identify as a player in my professional life, though, I feel that one I’d have the most to add to with the way time has shaped up.

4. What’s the weather like near you today?

Warm and sunny. Which has been the case most winter. And that’s a problem. I live in an area where the economy strongly relies on the ski industry. So while parts of the country has been absolutely dumped on, we’ve been pretty dry. Our slopes have spent a lot of the season green. Without snow, we haven’t been getting our usual tourists, which has slowed the economy, which has made my job in workforce development a bit more interesting than usual.

5. Do you like pancakes or waffles better?

Waffles, typically. Evenly cooked all over, crispy instead of floppy? Yes please. Pancakes are good too, though.

6. Is there anything about your gaming hobby/habits that you don’t like?

The time available, mostly. As I mentioned in my last post, I am a multi-faceted individual, with multiple interests and responsibilities, and it’s hard to fit them all into a given day. It’s usually not until 9:00 p.m. That I’m able to start playing something, and I’ve only got a few hours to spare for my favorite pasttime. Even then, I often find myself combining activities, such as playing and exercising or playing and listening to something at the same time, if the game is of a kind to allow for that, just to fit in everything I want to before the day’s over. It’d be nice to have a few more hours added to each day so I can deal with that.

7. Do you have a preference between JRPGs and western RPGs?

No. I don’t typically think in terms of genre much, but both can deliver absolutely fantastic experiences. I feel like there’s a lot more half-assed JRPGs than WRPGs out there, but if you reach the heights of both, both genres can be great, and they can be great in very different ways. What I’ll play really depends on my mood.

8. When does an open-world game begin to suffer from open-world bloat?

I think it’s really a factor of time and engagement. When you’re spending a noticeable amount of time doing things that you just check out from, such as travelling through an empty and uninteresting locale, grinding boars for your quest to collect 20 pig asses to craft your Sword of Pork Butt, *ahem combat in Planescape Torment cough cough*, and you’re not actually paying full attention to any of it, I would say that that’s when open-world bloat starts to kick in. Experiences should be engaging. They should cycle mental energy through you. When they stop doing that, when you’re just checking the boxes and checking out, that’s when they start losing you.

9. What is the most memorable line of dialogue in a game?

I’m not a big quotes guy, but I am rather fond of “Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?”

No? You want something meaningful? How about Tales of Phantasia’s “If there is evil in this world, it lurks in the hearts of man.”

Still not satisfied? Fine, bonus round. “Only a jackass can change the world.” Probably my favorite moment from Final Fantasy X-2.

10. Quick! You have 3 seconds to grab one game from your collection. Which one to do you grab and why?

3 seconds?! Oh no, what am I… Persona 4. That’s also my desert island game, my game that describes me, my 8th degree of Kevin Bacon, etc. I think everybody has a work that truly means something to them. That’s special to them, no matter what the quality is. That there’s a connection there beyond just the work itself. Persona 4 is that for me, for reasons I went over in my last post. Persona 4 is my game of games.   It’s the one where context has transcended context, and it has touched me and my life in a way few others have.

11. Do you collect anything? What is it?
Can you collect memories? If so, that’s it for me. I enjoy novelty, building up new experiences, trying new things out. I am more apt to do something if it gives me something new to learn or an experience I hadn’t tried before. There’s a lot to life, and although I’m never going to experience even a fraction of it, I would like to build up as much experience as I can.

Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.

Again, nah. I’m just not that social. I don’t think I even have eleven friends. And all the people I would nominate either don’t really jive with the social awards or they’ve gotten one recently because we’re all part of the same circle. Sorry.

List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.
I don’t know what the award logo is. A quick Google Search shows about a hundred different logos. So you know what? Here:


And that’s me!  I hope you all enjoyed me talking about myself as much as I did.  And it was a lovely break over a week when I spend half of it away from my writing computer.  We’ll be back with our regularly scheduled content in the near future.



The Mystery Blogger Award

This post could have been a couple things. A bit about how I tried and utterly failed to every one of our Fallout decision makers. Something reflecting on Planescape Torment’s unfortunate case of bipolar disorder. I could have finally publicly published one of the hundreds of posts sitting in my blog folder extolling the virtues of my hair. But, well, I’m a pleaser. I can’t help it. Just ask your girlfriend. I like leaving the people around me better off. And when those people around me combine that impulse with my natural enjoyment of talking about myself, well, I just can’t help it.

We’ve been touched by those viral get-to-know-you blogging awards again. You may remember our adventures with these in the past, when we were given the Double Lovely Versatile Liebster award. Well, that’s been expanded by not just one, but two steps. First, Red Metal was kind enough to send us over a Mystery Blogger award, thus guaranteeing we’d have easy content ready to go the next time a week got ahead of us. I was holding on to that in my back pocket, waiting for the most opportune time to slip that into my draw, but then Athena raises the stakes with by calling us for the Sunshine Blogger award, and, well, now it’s time for those cards to be on the table. I am nothing if not efficient, so let’s take care of both of those at once here.

Thank you both Red Metal and Athena. I appreciate your interest in opening up humble old me, the kindness you showed in your nominations and giving me the opportunity to talk about my favorite subject, myself.

Let’s start with Red Metal’s Mystery Blogger Award. Step by step, the rules are

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.

You know what, let’s do that, but with a twist.

  • List the rules.

Check, got it. Man, I’m the best at this.

  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Done already. But again, thank you Red Metal. If you’ve been around for most any length of time, you’ve seen him around in the comments at the very least. Dude’s one of my favorite game reviewers, and takes a pretty in-depth look at whatever catches his fancy on the regular. Check him out.

  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.

Methinks that one Okoto Enigma maybe started up this award as a means to Google Bomb themselves. But oh well. I won’t hold it against them. With a quick glance at their blog, they’ve got absolutely no crossover with what we talk about here, so, don’t know that you’d be interested, but just for the webcrawlers, here’s their site.  I chose a random post there, just to make the stats the get a little more random.

  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  1. Like many people, video gaming is just one of my too many interests. It’s the one I’ve kept up with the longest, and devote the most mental space to, but I’ve got a too long list of things I keep up with, such as comic books, physical fitness, men’s style, art, New Japan Pro Wrestling, wine, my hair, and so on. Makes my days a little too full. I’ve kept most of them from here, because, although I consider this more an Aether’s Interest blog than a video games blog, I want to have at least a little consistency, but I’ve noticed some of that popping into a few of the examples or analogies I may use.
  2. I fantasize about leading a band, but I haven’t actually picked up an instrument in years.
  3. I think of myself as pretty socially adept. I can hold my own in a conversation, use my network well, get people talking with ease, etc. Put me in front of a room of people, even, and I’ll thrive. I’ve got this huge block when it comes to approaching people, though. I don’t understand it myself. When I’ve got an in to a conversation, it’s easy. When I’m introduced by someone else, fine. But I just can’t figure out how to put myself out there like that. Social stuff is weird.
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.

Nah. That involves approaching people, and see number 3 above. Also, I have a pretty small blogging circle, and most of those whom I would nominate either received a similar viral award recently or choose not to play along with these.

So here’s an inoculation against the viral spread, I guess.

  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.

Okay, done.

  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny

Here’s Red Metal’s questions:

Which game proved to be the biggest disappointment for you?

Justice League Task Force. When I was a kid, had a lot of fun with fighting games, loved superheroes, this seemed really interesting from the magazines, a perfect fight. Then I rented it, and it played like garbage. Slow, clumsy, special moves were really unreliable, just not a good experience. I’m sure I’ve been more disappointed by games since, but I remember this one because it was my first learning experience that not all games will live up to my excitement.

Which game proved to be the most pleasant surprise for you?

Persona 4. But this one’s going to take a bit of a story.

Around the time I picked this game up, I was in a weird place in life. Part of that led to me just not enjoying things, including video games, as much. Part of that was just general malaise, but part of that was that it was a lot easier to see the worst in everything than it was the good. And my gaming habits were hitting that wall hard. I was starting to think the whole medium had peaked, and was on its way down in quality. I had been considering giving it up.

I don’t remember why I had picked up Persona 4. I didn’t know anything about it, other than that Persona 3 was reputed to be really good, and I had very fond memories of its Super Famicom predecessor Shin Megami Tensei from a time when I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing else to do than to trial and error my way through a brutally hard JRPG that I couldn’t even read. But I gave it a try on a whim, and I was blown away. It was an incredibly tight story that was very well thought out, I built connections to the characters there in a way I was sorely lacking from the people I was with in real life, and the battle system had complexities at a level I wasn’t expecting from a JRPG of the time.

It didn’t exactly turn my life around, but it did single-handedly turn me back into a devoted hobbyist of video games. I had been a proponent for stories in video games beforehand, but that was the first one that really opened my eyes to the depths of just what unique feature the medium had for storytelling.  Not only that, it was fun.  I fell in love with it, and it showed me I still could enjoy video games at a time I really needed that.  I probably wouldn’t be playing today and having this blog here were it not for that game.

What is the most memorable scene from a film you’ve watched?

For me, it’s the climax to Beauty and the Beast. Where the Beast is fighting with Gaston, and the latter falls off the castle to his death. Between Gaston’s blind rage, and the first time I think I was exposed to a death as a kid, that really stuck with me.

What inspired you to begin blogging?

Blazes. Look at my sidebar there. This blog dates back to the start of 2013. For such a simple project like this one, that’s exceptionally long. Long enough that I don’t rightly remember.

I’ve been writing for a long time. Some of which has even seen the light of day. I used to admin for a roleplaying forum, and was a pretty active participant there. I’ve got a few articles scattered around other people’s sites, used to put together fun essays and games on various social media I was a part of, etc. I enjoyed it. I like creating. But everything I did was all scattered around, and it was all on other people’s sites. I had nothing of my own. I was also following quite a few gaming blogs at the time. I was frustrated with most of the forums and what not I had been dealing with, how much discussion went ignored there, but I was enticed by the idea of having my own little place that I could put my own thoughts up, keeping my own small corner of the internet, just having a place for me and whatever from my mind I felt I could share with the world. I figured I’d try it out, see how it goes, and five years later, I’m apparently still at it. I don’t have the time to post as much as I’d like to, and it doesn’t seem to have as much reach as the avenues I used to write through, but I’m very fulfilled with it.

If you could go back in time and see any band that has permanently broken up perform a concert, which one would you choose?

Nightwish is one of my favorite bands. They’re still around, but they’ve gone through a few lead singers, and each time, it changes their musical profile significantly. Would have been nice to have caught them with their original lead singer, with whom they put out a lot of their most notable work.

  • Share a link to your best post(s).

My best post? They’re all great, how can I choose? But I am particularly proud of having what I believe is the most comprehensive list of left-handed video game characters on the internet. It could probably do with an update, there’s two more I’ve come across in games since I put that list together, but it’s still a more thorough list than I believe you’d be able to find elsewhere. Occasionally, I track back the links leading people to the blog, and find that someone else has used that list for their own projects. That’s also fulfilling to me, that it’s started to take a life of it’s own.

Also, I’m really proud of our Dark Souls run here. If you have some time to fill, might I suggest that? The first post probably not so great, because I wasn’t expecting to do a LP out of it then, but from the second onward, should be hitting more our stride. That was the first LP I’ve completed, and I think it went really well. Especially one jumping in blind to a notoriously difficult game.

More recently, I think my post analyzing Nintendo’s business culture is pretty noteworthy. It was fun for me to step back into my business academic shoes, and although it’s mostly conjecture, I think it does come from a perspective and carries information you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

And, you know, because this is long enough already, and because it’s time for me to go play some games, how about we tackle the Sunshine Blogger award in another post.

State of the Quest

We’re going to be posting a bit differently, here at Lost to the Aether, for at least the near future. Your main man was wounded recently, and while it’s not anything you should be worrying about, the effects of this do mean that I’m having a harder time focusing and putting the kind of thought I usually do into these posts. I should be able to make a full recovery with time, but until then, well, the content’s just going to be a little different around here, more in line with my presently diminished capacity. So, you know, fair warning. I hope you’re into it. I hope I’m into it, too.

Today I’m going to go back to an old standby and talk about myself. I’m good at that. Specifically, my little gaming quest. I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, once upon a time, I got the odd idea in my head that I was going to beat all of my games. All of them. I’ve been collecting games since I was a cub, I’ve got a lot of them. I give myself a bit of a break when the game is too glitchy to progress, or in the very, extremely, infinitesimally rare case I’m not skilled enough to beat a game, but overall, if I own it, I will beat it. I’m going through my entire collection, with games grouped by the console generation they released in, and by hook or by crook beating every single game I own.

This little quest has been an interesting one. Some games I never would have given the chance I did, some games I found that I enjoyed in a different way, and some games, playing them this way has actually given to my perspective of them. This quest has certainly changed the way I value games and the experiences contained therein.

But have I mentioned that I have a lot of games? Because I have a lot of games. The NES era took me a few weeks to play through. SNES took me several months. The N64/PS generation took me about a year to clean out. The PlayBoxCube era? I have been at this for years. Many years. Too many years. Longer than I’d care to admit. Children have been born into my family since I started, and have now grown old enough that I can have a sensible conversation with them. It’s been a long time. Part of which is that this was the generation I started making an income in, then one that I filled in later when I started picking up the other consoles for cheap, so my collection is perhaps the largest in this area. Part of it is that there are just so many JRPGs on these consoles bloody hell and they all take like 40 hours minimum to beat.

But for all the causes, I’m most of the way through. I estimate that I’ll be through the rest of this console generation and on to the next, hopefully not so long one, in about a year. That might be a bit optimistic of me, but still, pretty close. I’m excited.

I thought I’d take a look at all the rest of the games ahead of me. What do I have coming up, what shall soon be moving through the life of Aether, what more must I conquer before the next milestone. Because sometimes, it’s just fun to get organized.

Currently Playing

Tales of the Abyss


So of all the games I haven’t beaten yet on this quest, this one is one of my favorites. The Tales series has, overall, been pretty solid ever since Tales of Symphonia, and Tales of the Abyss shows the developers in rare form. The Tales series has spent the past decade and a half really strong in terms of characterization, oddly charming technobabble, and in pointedly subverting common storytelling tropes, and Tales of the Abyss showcases some of the best the series has to offer. Mixing the typical JRPG wayfaring and dungeon diving with a fast-paced Smash Bros-esque combat engine keeps the experience feeling really varied and fresh. They don’t really add much new to the mechanics here over previous installments, and the new features they do add seem largely circumstantial, but the mechanics are very solid. I’m having a good time with it.

Also, I get to play as a left hander in this game. How often do I get to do that?

Summoner: A Goddess Reborn


The other game I’m currently playing is one of the best games I have left on my list. This one is one of the worst.

Which I suppose if this is the bottom of the barrel, the barrel’s not really that bad. Summoner: A Goddess Reborn is no Fur Fighters, or Turok: Evolution, or Fallout Tactics. It’s not the type of game that actively offends me for its existence. It’s just… kind of bad.

You remember when THQ made RPGs? Yeah, those were always kind of quirky titles, none of them actually very good. This is along those lines. I’m actually really interested in the lore and the world. It’s obvious the developers put a lot of time and thought into those. I just wish they put as much into their engine and presentation. Gameplay is as slow and clunky as my uncle’s pinto. When it goes bad, it gets about as explosively horrible, too. Graphics and sound are poor, and the art design is all over the place. It’s world is interesting, but it’d take a better game to keep me around if I wasn’t forcing myself to.

I’m a little worried that I may not actually be capable of taking this game the whole way through. Most of the time, strategy or skill makes at least a bit of a difference to how well combat goes, but when the game hits its bad points, that goes out the window and there’s not a whole lot to do except button-mash and hope it works out for you. I haven’t been completely stopped yet, but I’m worried that I’ll run into one of those bottle-necks where skill or preparation doesn’t matter and the odds are too stacked against me to make any headway, and that’ll be a really unsatisfying end to this run.

Continue reading

My Adventures in XCom 2

I got myself a new computer. I didn’t want to. I was perfectly happy with my old one. But you can’t always get what you want, so here I am, new computer in hand. Lap. There you go.

One of the important things to do with any new computer, of course, is to find out just how much it can handle. After all, if you’re going to be investing into any games for it, you need to know just how leet it is, else you could buy something above your system. And also, you get the hackerz casting hardz as to the spex of your system. You can’t have people hardzing your spex. Sure, you can just look at the system requirements, but that doesn’t give you anywhere near the knowledge on frame rates and specific graphic quality that a practical test does.

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That drew me to XCom 2. A current gen game I actually wanted that I could get for cheap with a bunch of mystery gems on top through the recent Humble Monthly Bundle. If it worked on my system, and actually played well, I could comfortably get other modern games. If not, well, at least I got some other games I could play.

So when I started XCom 2 up, I really wasn’t planning on playing for long. My gaming schedule is rather full. Like, I need games to make reservations to get themselves in my immediate playlist. I played it for an hour, was satisfied with my system’s performance, and shut it down. But I couldn’t get the game off my mind. So I figured, you know what, Time? You can’t tell me what to do. I still have this super packed gaming schedule, so I wasn’t going to commit to a full runthrough, but given the nature of the game, I thought I’d give it an ironman run until it wasn’t possible for me to continue anymore. Continue reading

The One Lovely Blog Award

There was supposed to be a blog post here.  A long one.  I’ve been working in my spare time on one for a while.  This is one that I’m putting a lot into.  Working a lot of thought and research into it, meaning it’s probably going to be one of those posts that so tailored to my own mental processes that not many others are going to agree with or be interested in the content, but it’s fun to put those out every once in a while, and what’s blogging if you’re not selfish every once in a while?

In any case, I had planned to put this post here, today, figured that I’d have the time to finish it up over the weekend.  Unfortunately, life, as it often does, said no.  Between work, chores, homework, and social obligations, I’ve not had the time I wanted to to work on that post.  Looking at the post, I’m not anywhere near finished.  So, we were going to be looking at one of those sad, sad times where it takes me a while to get a post out, and everyone’s hearts feels smaller in the interim.


Then, I remembered that a fortnight ago, the lovely Athena at the lovely blog Ambigaming had nominated us here at Lost to the Aether for the One Lovely Blog Award.  I’ve been a little hesitant to follow up on that, what with the fact that this is one of those viral social things and I’m just not very social conflicting with the fact that I think I am totally awesome and love talking about myself.  These two opposed mentalities created a stalemate until… well, until I needed some quick content and this provided a good framework.  You should go over to Athena’s blog and thank her for that.  While you’re at it, check out some of her posts, too.  I mean, if you’ve been following me this far, you probably enjoy overthinking video games, and she does that really well!  Especially if you’re interested at all at how brain science works with video games.

And yeah, some of you who’ve been with us for a while may be wondering how I might have anything more to say about myself after I’ve already been Double Liebstered and a Versatile Blogger.  Oh, how much you underestimate me.  I am as complicated as I am mysterious.  Besides, the OLBA on requires me to state seven things about myself.  Seven!  I could do that all day.

Let’s go!

  1. I was a giant Nintendo fanboy for the longest time.  Yeah, the bad, argumentative type.  I don’t know what to say, there was something wrong with me.  That had lasted until I was given a PS2 back in 2007 and got to expand my gaming horizons.  Even now, I’ve owned at least one version of every console and handheld Nintendo’s put out, aside from the Virtual Boy.
  2. I stopped acknowledging my birthday years ago.  This way, I never age, and shall remain eternally youthful.
  3. I haven’t really written into it here, but as you may have guessed from my ill-fated and poorly suited to the internet-format attempt to create a graphic novel, I really like graphic novels.  Or comics, or manga, or whatever you want to call them.  I read more of those than I do traditional literature.
  4. My father was a huge gun nerd.  I have never cared about guns, but I was able to, check the safety, securely unload, and strip a gun at the age of five, thanks to him.
  5. It seems that most of my interests have pulled a complete 180 from where I was as a teenager.  As a youngling, I was never very interested in dancing, dating, sports, clothes, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I’ve really grown into and now I kick myself for wasting all those times and opportunities in my teenage years.
  6. My hair is my best physical feature.  I’m like Samson, and that’s where my power comes from, except my power is to make people weak in the knees and keep them from thinking of anything else.
  7. I’m not a fitness freak or anything, but I’ve gotten really into calisthenics in the past few years.  I can’t even say why that specifically, but those bodyweight exercises just feel so satisfying to me.

So… there.  That’s me.  And wasn’t that fun?  We’ll see you all again, once I get caught up with life!

Lessons Learned: I Rule


Note: This is not my festival. Purely a flavor image.

Last year, I put out a post reflecting on the work I had done for a recently completed film festival.  Then I left the film commission I had been managing.  With that, I thought I was finally out of the game.  Both the festival and the commission were a lot of time, and a lot of stress, and I had never really had the passion for film that’s pretty much required to thrive in the industry.  I had left that behind me, happily so, and moved on with my life.

But just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

I have a hard time saying no to people who need my help.  And the festival it seemed, was not quite ready to stand without me.  Still, I was adamant that I was not going to be as involved as I was last year, basically working another job towards the end of it.  And that was fine.  Last year, we had a problem with having way too few people involved to cover everything, the year before we had way too many to get anything done efficiently, this year, we seemed to hit the sweet spot.  We had few enough people there that we weren’t bogged down in multi-hour long meetings revisiting the same things we did in the last several, but enough of a team that nobody was really overworked.  As opposed to last year, when I managed the money, did most of the fundraising, led the marketing, as well as all the other odd jobs on my plate, this year, I limited my main activities to just handling the finances.  I helped out with other stuff as well, but that was all I was really in charge of, dedicated to.  Everyone else had their own areas, but there were enough people going around, that everything went smoothly.

Until the day before the festival.

And that’s when everything went bottoms up.  First our festival director had a situation suddenly come up, and he couldn’t make it to anything.  Then another member of our committee had an emergency, and she couldn’t make it either.  Leaving our decision-making group cut by half, leaving only myself and our programming director.

But you know what?  We handled it.  We were in a situation where both of us were having to completely adjust what we were doing on the fly, and we made it work.  We had volunteers to help us, some of which were pushed into roles a little bit above their heads, and we both had to take a lot more ownership of the festival and its activities, but we made it work.  I learned things about myself, too.  I learned I do pretty great at quick, casual presentations, given that I had to keep ad-libbing things in introducing or closing out the films, which is one thing I hadn’t been expecting to be charged with.  I learned that I’m able to pretend I know something about a subject matter when talking it over with an expert enough to hold a good public discussion with my only knowledge being the twenty minute film I just finished watching.  And I reaffirmed that people just really enjoy looking at me.  Good times.

I also learned I’m really good at marketing.  Last year, I took over most of our marketing activities.  Our attendance doubled.  I figured I couldn’t claim responsibility for all that at the time.  This year, I left the marketing to others.  Our attendance halved, back down to what it was before I got involved.  It still might be too soon to claim that’s all me, but I think that’s enough evidence to determine that I was at least partially responsible for the boost.

So yeah.  That’s what’s been going on in my life.  Just got through a really rough weekend.  Have a number of strenuous times ahead of me, so posting might be a little slow, by the way.  But still, I learned through it all.  I really need to respect myself more.  So does everyone else.  After all, as this weekend proved, I rule.

The Bookshelf Tag!

We haven’t done one of these viral social blogging posts in a while.  Which seems a little odd to me.  After all, there’s plenty of questions I know people are just dying to ask me.  Questions like “What’s a day in the life of the world’s sexiest man like?” or “What deities do I have to thank for the fact that you’re in my life?” or “How exactly are you supposed to pronounce Aether, anyway?”  Given that I’m still one of the internet’s biggest enigmas, I felt I owed it to the world to respond when our good friend Mishka Jenkins hooked us into the Bookshelf Tag that’s been going around the internet.  Basically, got ten questions here, all about me and books.  And because I basically carved out this corner of the internet for me to do nothing but talk about myself, I’m going to answer these questions.  With words.  And self-indulgence.  Because really, isn’t that what the internet’s all about?

Here we go!

1. Is there a book that you really want to read but haven’t because you know that it’ll make you cry?

Not really.  If a book can make me feel, that’s a beautiful thing.  Even if that feeling is sad.  If a story can break me out of my bitter, mortal shell, and actually feel for the characters to the point that I weep for them, that’s that almost always something worth experiencing.  There’ve been times that I put off sad stories until I was in the mood for them, because I knew they’d make me feel that way, but nothing I avoided outright.  Also, I’m a rock-hard stone-cold hunk of manly manliness who never ever cries.  That part helps too.

2. Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.

‘Stolen Bloodline’ by Mishka Jenkins.  I very rarely dip into the romance genre, but I’ve actually been enjoying the works Mishka’s been putting out since she decided to start making a living as an author.  It’s not just because she and I are close, I’ve honestly been enjoying her works on their own merit.  She mixes up a lot of the fantasy and adventure and conflicts and other stuff I do usually like with some well-written love stories, and it’s made me a lot more open to the romance genre than I was previously

3. Find a book that you want to re-read.

‘The Burning City’, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.  I read it a lot as a kid, and really liked how well-realized and unique the world was, but looking into it more recently I’ve been seeing that there’s a lot of transparent and blatant allegory and imagery that was lost on me in my younger days.  Haven’t read it in years, but I’d love to give it another go to see what my older, better-educated mind might be able to pick up now.

4. Is there a book series you’ve read but wish that you hadn’t?

Nope.  Even bad media has some sort of value.  There’s been stories that have wasted my time, but none that I’m actively worse off for going through.

5. If your house was burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?

Well, I’d probably try to save my video games first, but if it had to be a book… well, it’d probably be my collection of the original Elfquest publications.  Those are available for free online now, but the copies I’ve got were part of the first run, back when you had to get a subscription from a small time independent publisher to get your hands on them.  They used to belong to one of my relatives, before being passed down to me, so it’s more sentimental than anything else.  The fact that the story’s really, really good helps the decision.

6. Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?

Any of my Star Wars books.  I used to be crazy into Star Wars as a kid.  ‘Wraith Squadron’ is probably the one I carry the most memories for, to the point that I actually got a bit depressed when its author passed away earlier this year, despite being as jaded as I am.

7. Find a book that has inspired you the most.

Hmm… that’s a tough one.  Terry Goodkind’s early books in the Sword of Truth series, I’d guess.  I don’t particularly like his work nowadays, but those were one of the biggest influences that got me into writing in the first place.

8. Do you have any autographed books?

My copy of the Ocean at the End of the Lane is autographed by Neil Gaiman.

9. Find the book that you have owned the longest.

A copy of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ I’ve had since we put on the play in 6th grade.  I played Oberon.  Unfortunately, my parents were in the habit of selling everything as soon as they thought I was done with it, so I don’t have anything older.  I lost a lot of my childhood, that way.

10. Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?

I’m not actually a fan of most classic or older literature.  I find the writing style and plot development to be a bit less nuanced when written before the era where people were studying and educating themselves on these things.  So, I was very surprised when I found myself getting drawn into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels in such a major way.  The plots are generally just as poorly developed compared to most of its modern counterparts as everything else of the era, but the stories are still really well-written otherwise, and I find myself drawn into them quite easily.