BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 50 – Patronizing

Week 50 – Patronizing

In case you weren’t aware: Patreon has recently implemented a hike in minimum fees charged to patrons. What it boils down to is that instead of $1 being the minimum pledge amount, it’s now something like $1.34. Patreon has tried to paint this as “a boon to creators”, a statement that was quickly and roundly debunked. I already wrote a more detailed post about this over on my Patreon page, but I’ll restate it here: I’ve lowered the minimum pledge amounts on every reward tier save for the $1 level to offset these changes.

Now, ErinPtah also found a few articles that explained this issue better, which you’ll find linked here. Supposedly, Patreon has been losing money on every pledge under around $15, and this rate hike is to keep the service running. That may be, but this also looks like a move made to make any potential investors happy… see also the restrictive new rules regarding adult content that were implemented earlier this year. What I’m afraid of is that this signals that Patreon, like almost every other relatively consumer-friendly service these days, is about to get bought out by some giant megacorp that will proceed to ruin everything that was good about it. Maybe Apple, maybe Google, maybe Verizon, I don’t know… all I know is that companies that support the little guys are vanishingly few and far between, and if Patreon goes under or stops paying out, frankly, I’m screwed.

That’s not the only ominous portent of doom this week, either. Tomorrow is the hotly contested Alabama Senate race between Democratic candidate Doug Jones and racist, convicted pedophile Roy Moore. The fact that the race is actually close, and that Cheeto Hitler’s party generally refuses to condemn Moore at all, let alone force him to drop out… well, it’s a worrying indicator for the state of things in this country. Any #Alabama voters reading this, you’d better damn well show up to vote tomorrow. Do NOT let another unrepentant rapist pedophile steal another government seat.

And then there’s the Net Neutrality vote on Thursday. Cheeto’s puppet Ajit Pai seems committed to ignoring all the millions of phone calls, emails, letters, and protests, so we can only hope that either the rest of the board votes no on the repeal or that it’s thrown out in court. I’ve been phone banking and I’m participating in #BreakTheInternet tomorrow, and I encourage all my readers to do the same. The Internet is my life, and it’s on the line.

Boy, this Report sure is a barrel of laughs, huh? Sorry about that. It’s a nerve-wracking week.

Anyway, better news. ErinPtah took a commission from me that she posted a couple days ago, a Shattered Skies promo poster with a design suggested by VDrake. Check it out below.



My new Silent InvenTOYry episode is proceeding nicely, without too many problems, and I’m still gunning to get it done by the year’s end. I think you all will really like the wallet gag for this episode’s intro; I got a bit ambitious with it.

I managed a head start on the next Soulsnatcher chapter after I cut a scene from Chapter 7 to make my deadline on time. So that’s at least a little progress. I’m going to work on Shattered Skies Chapter 31 and the second Viluy’s Database entry tomorrow, if I can concentrate.

Oh yeah, and there’s some movie opening on Friday that a few people, myself included, are a bit excited for. More on that next week.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 49 – Seriously, Save the Internet

Week 49 – Seriously, Save the Internet

I don’t have that much to say this week. I finished Chapter 7 of Soulsnatcher on time by the skin of my teeth, so yay! Three months with no missed updates! Work has started on Silent InvenTOYry Episode 06. There’s something I still need for this episode that likely won’t be here until Saturday at the earliest, but I’m doing all I can in the meantime. Shattered Skies Chapter 31 is coming along slowly but surely, and my various other projects are proceeding as normal.

I’m going to use most of the rest of this week’s Report to do my civic duty and repost information regarding Net Neutrality, what it is, why you should care, and how to stop it from being revoked. I’m begging everyone who reads this, if you care about me or my work in the least, please do everything you can to fight to maintain and enforce the current rules. This is not hyperbole: if Title II Net Neutrality rules are revoked, I will no longer be able to post ANYTHING, anywhere. There will be no way for me to afford the extra cost of putting up my writing, artwork, videos, or anything else if Ajit Pai’s repeal plans go through. If I can’t afford to go online, I can’t produce content, which means I can’t get paid via Patreon, YouTube, PayPal, or any other source of online income. My business, my leisure, my relationship with my best friends, and my entire social life in general all depend on a free and open Internet.

So, what can you do?

Allow me to copy-paste a helpful post that’s been circulating on Tumblr:

Imagine paying $40 extra a month for Tumblr

That’s what is going to happen if we let Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman, go through with repealing Title II (AKA Net Neutrality).

Simply put, without Net Neutrality, Internet Service Providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will be able to “bundle” websites much like cable ON TOP OF paying for internet connection. “Want access to Netflix AND Tumblr? Get the Entertainment Package! $40 a month. What about Amazon and Ebay? Add an extra $20 a month to get the Shopping Package.”

Not only will they be able to bundle websites and charge more, they will also be able to censor and block websites that they don’t agree with entirely.

THIS WILL BE THE END OF INTERNET AS WE KNOW IT.

For business owners, it will be even worse. Ex: Comcast will ask Amazon to pay high fees to be available in a low-cost package, fees that websites like Poshmark or Etsy will not be able to pay. Therefore, only Fortune 500’s will be available to web users at a low cost. Say goodbye to Etsy (unless you’re willing to shell out $70 a month for the “All-Inclusive” package).

To learn about Net Neutrality, why it’s important, and/or want tools to help you fight for Net Neutrality, visit BattleForTheNet (https://www.battleforthenet.com)

There are five people deciding the future of the internet, three men (Rep) and two women (Dem). The two women have come out as No votes. We need only to convince ONE of the other members to flip to a NO vote to save Net Neutrality.

There are many ways you can help:

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE A LAZY TUMBLR USER WITH ANXIETY WHO TRIES TO HELP WITH JUST REBLOGS / LIKES:

Here are 2 petitions to sign, one international and one exclusively US.

International: https://www.savetheinternet.com/sti-home

US: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/do-not-repeal-net-neutrality

(After you sign make sure to verify via email, it may take up to 30 mins to receive the email).

Text “resist” to 504-09. It’s a bot that will send a formal email, fax, and letter to your representatives. It also finds your representatives for you. All you have to do is text it and it holds your hand the whole way.

HERE ARE MORE STRAIGHTFORWARD ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE:

These are the emails of the 5 people on the FCC roster.

Blow up their inboxes!

Ajit Pai – Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov

Mignon Clyburn – Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov

Michael O’Rielly – Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov

Brendan Carr – Brendan.Carr@fcc.gov

Jessica Rosenworcel – Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov

You can support groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU and Free Press who are fighting to keep Net Neutrality:

https://www.eff.org/

https://www.aclu.org/

https://www.freepress.net/

https://www.fightforthefuture.org/

https://www.publicknowledge.org/

https://www.demandprogress.org/

Set them as your charity on Amazon Smile here (https://smile.amazon.com/)

Write to your House Representative here

(http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/)

And Senators here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state)

Write to the FCC here (https://www.fcc.gov/about/contact)

Add a comment to the repeal here (https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/filings?proceedings_name=17-108&amp;sort=date_disseminated,DESC)

Here’s an easier URL you can use thanks to John Oliver (http://www.gofccyourself.com)

Also check this out, which was made by the EFF and is a low transaction cost tool for writing all your reps in one fell swoop.

(https://democracy.io/#!/)

Most importantly, VOTE. This should not be something that is so clearly split between the political parties as it affects all Americans, but unfortunately it is.

PLEASE HELP SAVE OUR INTERNET!

Keep fighting, and don’t let up until the plans to kill Net Neutrality are dead and buried for good.

– BHS

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SOULSNATCHER, CHAPTER 7

Chapter 7

Early morning cold

Invasion, an intruder!

Rain upon the leaves

 

“With our every step, we tread upon the ashes of the past… our sins, our legacies.”

[Attributed to Yourichi Shinen, 10th century poet and philosopher]

 

Misty, prismatic fingers curled around Zero as he floated in the wake of the ancient wolf. Not walked, floated; if there was solid ground beneath him hidden somewhere in the fog’s depths, what he desperately hoped were still his feet did not touch it. He could not turn or deviate from his course, he could only follow after Drake… who, he noted, was not floating. However the wolf moved forward, he did it slowly, trudging through denser, darker, more threatening clouds that clung to him as if trying to drag him down.

Apart from those, the fog bank was lighter and more colorful than Zero felt like it should be. Of the many things he had experienced in the past few months, this ranked as among the strangest. As he was, he was barely less ephemeral than the fog, and he could not shake the fear that one strong gust of wind would blow him apart.

Wherever Drake was taking him, through whatever bizarre magic this was (if it was magic), he was right about one thing: it was not more pleasant than traveling by boltpath. Not in the least. Bolting, as sick as it made him whenever he was forced to use it, was at least over fast, with a minimum of sensation between one state and the other. This, though? Zero felt like a living ghost, divorced entirely from the physical plane, and that turned his stomach in knots.

As they moved, he saw things, shapes in the fog. Blurry and indistinct, but if he looked at them long enough, they almost resembled people, faces… No sooner would he try to focus on these phantoms than they would melt away into featureless swirls. Once or twice, Zero thought he saw the shapes reach out to him with ghostly hands…

And there were the sounds. Not quite words, they would drift out of the fog, whisper urgently in his ear, then disappear as quickly as they came. Fragments of emotion without any meaning attached to them, voices speaking a language he could not understand. They gave him the crawling horrors.

Drake pushed on with Zero following, seeming unbothered by the whispers or the strange shapes. He said nothing, he paused for not a moment, until-

rain

Ahead, Drake came to a brief stop, for no more than a second at the most.

rain

That word cut through the maddening vagueness of the other whispers with such clarity that Zero would have shuddered, were he solid enough to do so. Rain?

rain

Now that he concentrated on it, he could feel a dim pattering of warm, soft droplets upon him, almost like tears. Zero glanced upward. Above him were thick, bloated clouds the color of bruises, clearly the source of the rain… but something in him stirred. There was nothing special about them that he could determine, they were just ordinary rain clouds, but… he found them beautiful.

rain

And there was something that sounded half like a laugh, a musical sound bubbling out of the mists. Then the acrid smell of smoke, and…

The rain stopped. All at once, as if the heavens had slammed a door shut.

Zero opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out. With the end of the rain came a tempest of emotions not his own: grief, an unbearable heaviness, his chest filled with cold lead. Wrath, rivers of molten steel scouring his veins. An insatiable hunger, a need to make someone hurt, make someone bleed. As terrible as if someone had murdered Hanami or Naole, but without meaning, without context… Then those too faded, and there was nothing but emptiness. He was little but a shell, his insides hollowed out. He would never be whole again…

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 48 – Goodbye, Tasakeru828… Hello, BHSDesk

Week 48 – Goodbye, Tasakeru828… Hello, BHSDesk

Don’t panic, I’m not going anywhere. Those of you reading this on DeviantArt may have noticed that I’ve changed my username to BHSDesk, the same as my main Tumblr blog. I’ve stuck with “tasakeru828” for fourteen years, from the very beginning of my time on DA, but as Tasakeru isn’t my sole focus anymore, I figured it was time to make the change. DA had a sale on a six-month Core membership this past weekend, and since Core membership is the only way to change one’s DA name (for God knows what reason), I went ahead and did it. All the old links I haven’t updated should still redirect to bhsdesk.deviantart.com, but just in case, change your bookmarks if you’ve got ’em.

Last week being Thanksgiving, I had a ton of petsitting jobs come up at once, which took a big chunk out of my writing time. See, I almost never travel anymore, so I’ve made being always available a cornerstone of my business. That means that this time of year, when most people are sinking into an alcoholic stupor and/or a tryptophan-induced coma, I’m out working. It’s one of the downsides to this job… but then, I get to relax when most people are trudging back to work in freezing weather, so it kind of balances out.

Anyway, because of the long work week, I don’t think I’ll have a chapter of Soulsnatcher up by the end of this month, though I’m still trying my hardest to get one out. Same goes for Shattered Skies, which is being held up due to a scene that I’m having a hell of a hard time trying to get right. I’m afraid it’s another one of those weird, difficult, experimental ideas that are primarily in the story because I insist on challenging myself to see if I can actually write them… like with the Insecurity System sequences from earlier this year, or the short version of Chapter 27 of Stars Above. If this sounds like I’m making my job as a writer harder than it needs to be… boy howdy, you don’t know the half of it, Bunky. I swear, sometimes I think that there’s a nasty streak of masochism in me, one that only surfaces when I’m in the thick of a story.

So, to make up for the wait, I plan to have the second installment of Viluy’s Database up relatively soon. As with last year, I’m going to try to get as many projects as I can finished by mid-December so I can take the holiday season off (minus petsitting, of course).

New and presumably authentic leaks for Hugtto Precure have surfaced. So far, the designs are not grabbing me, and I’m harrumphing over the presence of what appears to be yet another baby fairy mascot, but… as I’ve said before, I intensely disliked Go! Princess‘s designs when I first saw them, and up until I actually started watching it, I was convinced it was going to be an off-year. The experience taught me to never trust my initial impression or gut instinct when it comes to these things; the series will be good or not based on many more factors than just the character designs or the mascot(s). That, and there’s still no indication as to what the story is, what the characters or like, whether the fight scenes will be physical again or not, or even the series’s motif… so I’ll just have to be patient and hope for the best come February. If it turns out to be an off-year, at least I’ll still have the new Cardcaptor Sakura anime to scratch my magical girl itch. Wow, the last part of that sentence was poorly worded…

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 47 – The Second Annual “Thankful List”

Week 47 – The Second Annual “Thankful List”

Because “Second Annual List of Things to Be Thankful For” takes up too much space in the title bar. As I did last year, I’m going to look back through the last 46 weeks of Blogress Reports and list the actual good things about 2017, because I’m fairly certain everyone is tired of hearing about the bad stuff. In very loosely chronological order, let’s go with the pop culture stuff first:

  • Little Witch Academia (TV): One of my contenders for Anime of the Year. We all knew Studio Trigger would kill it with this series, but they went beyond the call of duty and delivered a true classic. LWA became something I looked forward to every week, and hearing Megumi Han’s spectacular voice work as Akko never failed to improve my mood. The series ended with one of the best final episodes since Madoka Magica, in my opinion, but that’s not the end for Akko and company, oh no. There’s a LWA RPG coming (!!!) which will get an English release (!!!), set to hit North America early next year.
  • Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: My second choice for Anime of the Year was this title that came out of nowhere, smashed all of my expectations, and delivered bigger belly laughs than pretty much anything else I watched in the last eleven months. The initial buzz for Dragon Maid, at least in Tumblr circles, was profoundly negative… many, including myself, groaned when they heard just the title. But then something remarkable happened: word spread as to how touching, thoughtful, adorable, and legit hilarious the show really was. I eagerly await more adventures with Miss Kobayashi, Tohru, and Kanna next year (come on, KyoAni!)
  • KonoSuba Season 2: Last year’s surprise comedy hit came back with a vengeance, doubling down on its insanity. I’ve described KonoSuba to friends as “Imagine Sword Art Online but with the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia“… but that would be selling it short, I think. True, almost all the main characters are horrible, horrible people who deserve most if not all of the abuse the universe heaps on them, but KonoSuba wouldn’t shine without its incredible satire of SAO and the “trapped in a game world” genre, or the flawless voice performances of its cast, particularly Sora Amamiya as Aqua. There’s another season on the way, and I’m counting the days until its release.
  • The Nintendo Switch: After what seems like forever, Nintendo scored a massive hit with the Switch’s launch. They kicked off with what people keep telling me is the best Zelda ever, and kept it going with a string of releases ranging from solid to instant classics, most recently with Super Mario Odyssey. And miracle of miracles, it looks like a mainline Nintendo console will have solid third-party support, something that hasn’t happened since the SNES! I’m still waiting to get mine until early next year, but when I do…
  • Attack on Titan Season 3: We had to wait four years for this season, and it may have been only 13 episodes, but holy hell did they make each one of those episodes worth waiting for. I’m not the biggest fan of AoT, but even I was glued to my screen for Season 3. Gone were the pacing problems that plagued seasons 1 and 2… the crew made every moment count.
  • Boku no Hero Academia Season 2: Rounding out the returning anime is BNHA, which saw a massive groundswell of popularity as its plot ramped up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: BNHA is remarkable in many ways, but in my book the most remarkable thing it does is taking the tired old shonen anime/manga tropes and either subverting the hell out of them or breathing new life into them. I was a little late jumping on board, but come Season 3 next year, I’m gonna be there from the start.
  • Samurai Jack Season 5: The original cast and crew (minus Mako, RIP) brought Jack back for ten new Adult Swim episodes, and for a glorious few weeks it was on everybody’s mind. Season 5 did everything the original show did so well: minimalist atmosphere, incredible fight scenes, and gorgeous art. In terms of revivals of cancelled cult classics, it ranks up there with the best of them in my book.
  • Rick and Morty Season 3: Look, forget the szechuan sauce debacle. All the negative press from the worst parts of the fandom doesn’t change the fact that Rick and Morty delivered another season of winners, starting with a surprise season premiere on April Fools Day and continuing in the summer. There is nothing else like R&M on TV, bar none. It may have a shitty fandom, but it’s still brilliant.
  • The 13th Doctor: As I write this, I’m within ten episodes of finally catching up to Doctor Who. I was inspired to go through the rest of what I’ve missed by the bombshell announcement that Jodie Whittaker would succeed Peter Capaldi, becoming the first woman to play the Doctor. Hell yes, I say, and it’s about damned time. And of course, by marathoning from the later 10th Doctor episodes through the 12th’s, I’ve discovered some true masterpieces, episodes that make me proud to call myself a full-fledged Whovian at last. First among those is, of course, “Vincent and the Doctor”, which has two perfect scenes in it that I will remember for the rest of my life.
  • Wonder Woman: I’m no fan of the DC Snyderverse, but I’m all for feminism and empowerment. And if there’s one thing the DCEU got right, it’s Wonder Woman. The film blew away critics and audiences alike and became the highest-grossing film ever directed by a woman. Its massive success will have a positive effect on Hollywood, I hope.
  • Star Vs the Forces of Evil Season 2 and 3: The final episode of 2016 left people screaming. The screaming continued throughout much of 2017, as fans’ minds were blown multiple times in succession. It was getting there before, but now it’s official: Star Vs is up there with Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, and Rick and Morty as one of the best things happening in Western animation right now.
  • Sonic Mania: Though my former #1 fandom suffered another blow this year with the abrupt cancellation of the Archie comic after over 500 issues, and Sonic Forces was yet another mediocre effort, Sega actually got something exactly right in regards to the Sonic franchise this year: they put Christian Whitehead in charge of a truly retro-style Sonic game. And Whitehead and his crew delivered a Sonic title that looks, sounds, and feels perfect, like some lost relic from the Saturn era. I swallowed my pride and played it for myself, and I’m so glad that I did.
  • Made in Abyss: My third and final Anime of the Year candidate. MiA (oh, that acronym) hid gruesome darkness under a cute Miyazaki-esque exterior… but if there was any anime that triggered my feels HARD this year, it’s Made in Abyss. Yes, it’s brutal, but it’s also gorgeous, thought-provoking, and absolutely unique.
  • Star Trek Discovery: It had a hell of a time getting off the ground, but Star Trek is finally back. It’s darker, and it’s different, but it’s back… and it has Cadet Tilly, the #1 reason I have hope for the show. The midseason finale was by far the best episode so far… where it leads, we’ll see when it comes back in 2018.

And on more personal notes:

  • Silent InvenTOYry: What started as a one-off experiment turned into a full-fledged series, with each episode getting increasingly more elaborate (and more solid, I hope!) Filming, directing, and editing SI has been a ton of work, but it’s work that I honestly enjoy doing, and that makes it worthwhile. Seeing people like a Gainax staffer and Internet Personality Vangelus acknowledge the show is even better. I’m thankful to you all for sticking with me, for all your views, shares, and comments, and for your patience when I have to iron out the kinks. I’m proud to announce that there will be at least one more full episode of SI by the end of the year, so keep watching this space for more details.
  • Patreon: I launched my Patreon back in January with very low expectations, but it’s grown over time so that I’m now finally making decent money with each new Tasakeru chapter. I haven’t been able to keep to a consistent update schedule as often as I’d like, but I’m making every effort to change that.
  • Break My Heart, Break Your Heart: I had the privilege of reading and giving feedback on thesilvergoddess’s Overwatch fanfic, a truly incredible effort that they managed to update without fail every week for over a year. All the work that they put into BMHBYH culminated in a spectacular final chapter that tied together everything that came before it. This story was a labor of love, and it shows. I’m honored to have played even a small part in helping it get out there.
  • The Changeling of the Guard: My best friend VDrake’s ponyfic chronicling the adventures of “Bugpone Forrest Gump” had another great year, as Idol Hooves officially joined the Royal Guard after many, many chapters of buildup. VDrake then threw everyone a curveball by having Idol meet a certain someone in Canterlot… CotG continues to get well-deserved fan art, accolades, and possibly even a shout-out in the show itself. I couldn’t be prouder of my buddy for his success.
  • Shattered Skies: This year’s chapters have largely focused on the “Rescue Party Arc”, which includes some of those most challenging scenes I’ve yet written for my crossover epic. As a special third anniversary gift to my readers, though, I went completely off the rails with “The Non-Canon Lunatic Crack Chapter”, which was an absolute joy to write, and then there’s the “Viluy’s Database” character profiles that I started earlier this month… I’m still having a ton of fun with the story, and still treasuring every bit of feedback I get for it. Extra-special thanks and gratitude go to ErinPtah, who gave my story two (and counting!) amazing pieces of fan art.

So yeah, we’re almost through 2017. It’s been frustrating, maddening, insane, and often inexplicable… but there’s been good stuff, too. There will be good stuff and bad stuff in the future. I’m trying to be thankful for each new day as it comes, because now more than ever, you never can tell what’s around the corner.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 46 – Go Help ErinPtah, I Got Nothin’

Week 46 – Go Help ErinPtah, I Got Nothin’

No, really, I have nothing interesting to write about for this week’s Report, so I’ll use this space to plug ErinPtah, who does a ton of creative-type stuff, including the two really awesome pieces of Shattered Skies fan art pictured below. Erin needs $600 to pay off a new hard drive, so having suffered through my own HD death earlier this year, I can’t help but sympathize and try to help out as best I can. Please consider buying a commission or donating via PayPal or Patreon, ‘kay?

Seriously, nothing happening over here, so you might as well click another link or your back button or something. You want I should write about dogsitting, or minding the house by myself for five days, or spending too much time playing Heroes of the Storm trying to level up D.Va and the Butcher? Good lord, people, spare your brain cells the agony.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 45 – The Asshole Epidemic

Week 45 – The Asshole Epidemic

I hope my readers enjoyed Soulsnatcher Chapter 6, especially since it was actually on time for once (GASP!) Ditto for the Sailor Moon portion of Viluy’s Database, which was time-consuming but really fun to write. I just wish DeviantArt would get around to upping the size limit on text deviations, because seriously? 64 KB in 2017?! That’s practically stone age.

This week I’m looking forward to the return of Star Vs. The Forces of Evil, now resuming its third season. Star Vs. is a standout among the many, many fantastic Western cartoons of the past few years, and I’m not just saying that because it’s about a magical girl and created by a devoted Sailor Moon and Buffy fan. No, Star Vs. has really come into its own. The “Battle For Mewni” event in July has proven that it’s a worthy successor to the beloved Gravity Falls, and that’s one of the highest compliments I can give it. I’m also starting up Season 10 of Doctor Who this week after finishing the tragically short-lived spinoff Class, which means I’m just twelve episodes away from finally being caught up. Come December, I’ll be ready for the Christmas special, Twelve’s departure, and Thirteen’s debut… though whether or not my feels will be ready is a different matter.

So about that title… for about a year and a half now I’ve been playing team-based multiplayer games on my PC, namely Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at both… good enough to do decently well in the Competitive and Ranked modes. I’m no pro gamer, but I have a somewhat respectable win ratio.

You’d never know that, though, from some of the bottom-feeders I’ve been matched up with lately. On Sunday alone, I actually lost count of how many times my wonderful teammates called me “dumbass”, “f*ggot”, and “r*tard”, among other insults, or was matched up with people who think it’s hilarious to start a competitive match that can only be won by cooperating and then deliberately ignore their teammates no matter how much they scream, beg, and plead for assistance.

I love both of these games, but I’m seriously considering quitting competitive modes altogether because of people like this. I’ve heard all the reports about the OW community being toxic and I’ve believed them, but this is out of control. When did it become acceptable to treat other human beings like trash? Why can’t people just be decent to each other?

Of course, I’m tempted to pin the blame on the Asshole in Chief, who’s brought all manner of trolls, fascists, racists, misogynists, and other human cockroaches crawling out of the woodwork over the past two and a half years (sigh…) but the problem hardly started with him. He’s just emboldened all the scum to come bubbling up to the surface.

The worst part is, there’s no winning against their ilk. If you fight back, they win because they got a reaction out of you. If you ignore them, they’ll take it as encouragement to be even worse. If you block them, they feel pride. If you scream insults and slurs back at them, you’re sinking to their level. There’s an entire subculture of people out there who truly don’t care about anything but their own amusement, and they get their kicks by making other people miserable.

It’s like a sickness, and I’m not sure it’s one that can be cured. This is deep-seeded bitterness and nihilism, and barring a major societal change, it’s probably never going away. The only defense against it is to try to be a better person than the trolls, to try not to get dragged down into their ugliness… but how does one do that when you’re bombarded with that ugliness every day?

I dunno. I’ve never really thought of myself as cynical or pessimistic, but the world is wearing me down, especially over the past year. Maybe I’m just getting old.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 6: COMPLETE!
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 3 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 2 pages done
  • Shattered Skies, Chapter 31: 2.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies: Viluy’s Database Chapter 1: COMPLETE!
  • Shattered Skies: Viluy’s Database Chapter 2: 6 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Shorts Episode 02: Now in progress

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SOULSNATCHER, CHAPTER 6

Chapter 6

Glimpse a twisted mind

Travel back into the past

Birth of the legion

 

“For all his terrible deeds, the Soulsnatcher succeeded at one thing: creating a new form of life. As creatures of science, we must acknowledge his achievement as much as we condemn his methods. The Soulsnatcher was insane, yes. A mass-murderer, absolutely… but he brought forth a being the likes of which the world had never seen.

“How to describe this creature, then? How does one describe the indescribable? Does the wickedness of a being’s creation taint its soul? And if not, could it have been done better?”

[Excerpt from Treatises by Galen Primus Avarius]

 

“I’m going.”

“Don’t be a fool, Takaishi. You could barely stand until a few minutes ago.”

“I don’t care. I’m going.”

“And he’ll be waiting.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Do you even know where to go?”

“I’ll find him. Whatever it takes.”

Voices raised in argument cut through the fog clouding Nadeshiko’s consciousness like handsaws through wood. With the loss of the fog came an awareness of both a splitting headache and a deep, throbbing pain in her neck and shoulder. The skunk opened her eyes and immediately shut them, as the infirmary’s lantern light ratcheted up her headache another few notches. “Would you please…” she began, then stopped. Her throat was dry, her lips chapped.

“Little One!” That voice was her mother, no doubt about that. Only Lily had the privilege of calling her by that name. Arms seized her in a hug that was entirely too tight, and her shoulder burned from the pressure. “Little One, thank the Greatmother you’re awake, I thought-”

“Mother!” Nadeshiko wheezed. “Mother, stop, that hurts…”

The arms pulled away in horror. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry-”

Nadeshiko opened her eyes again, more slowly this time. Her temples pounded in protest, but the lights were a bit more bearable now. “Do not apologize, I will be fine. Water, please?”

“H-here.”

The rim of a glass pressed to her lips, and she drank greedily before speaking again. “Thank you.”

Blurry shapes hovered at the foot of her bed, one black and one white. Those shapes resolved into Zero Takaishi and the ancient wolf called Drake, both peering at her with great concern. “You two-” she said.

“Milady, we apologize for disturbing your rest,” said Drake, tilting forward in the deepest bow he could manage. “We shall take our leave shortly.”

With no such attempt at decorum, Zero scowled and turned toward the door of the infirmary. “No more reason for me to be here, then. I’m leaving.”

“Wait!” The word came out harder than Nadeshiko intended, more of a barked command. “Takaishi. That creature, the Soulsnatcher-”

“He took my sister.” Venom seethed in his words. “And the longer I dawdle here, the harder it’ll be to find him and kill him. So if you’ll excuse me, Lady Nadeshiko…”

“I know where he is.”

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 44 – Scary Enough Already

Week 44 – Scary Enough Already

I should be on track to finish Soulsnatcher Chapter 6 tomorrow, knock on wood. I’ve just got one or two more scenes to finish up, so if I work on it all day and don’t get distracted, I think I can manage. An actual on-time update for once! WHAT A SHOCK.

I’ve also started on an omake project for Shattered Skies, a little bonus thing to flesh out the story a bit more, similar to what I did with Stars Above and the Demon Profiles. Hopefully, this should make the wait between chapters a little more bearable… and if it goes as planned, it will bring people up to speed who don’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of magical girls that I have. 😛

And my other extra project got finished up this weekend… just in time for Halloween, it’s a short School-Live! / Gakkou Gurashi fic that you’ll find on my AO3 account. This was the “other project” I mentioned last week and the week before, and I think it turned out pretty well. Thank to SkaJrZombie for the art that inspired the fic, and go commission him if you like it and want to see more!

As for my other, other extra project: on Saturday, I discovered that there’s a fan-made RPG Maker sequel to the Sailor Moon RPG on the Super Famicom / SNES, Sailor Moon: Another Story. I played the hell out of the fan translation of that game on an emulator back in high school, so I decided to do a YouTube playthrough of both the original game and the sequel. Another Story, for those of you that know it, was basically written with huge fans of Sailor Moon in mind, and its plot involving old villains being resurrected and large-scale screwing around with time was a major inspiration for Shattered Skies. I plan to upload playthroughs of one chapter at a time, and I’ve started the first game with a bit of an XP boost so I won’t have to spend as much time grinding. The links to the first episode and the playlist are below, and I’ll be recording/streaming whenever I get a chance.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvXaLTIONlEyTmJeWBHLKCxQdIeVprtZJ

And of course, tomorrow’s Halloween… but given how effing scary the world is right now, I don’t think it needs to be any scarier, ya know? I’m planning on a quiet night inside. No need to tempt fate.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 6: 7.5 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 3 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 2 pages done
  • Shattered Skies, Chapter 31: 2.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Omake Project: 7.25 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Shorts Episode 02: Now in progress

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 43 – Abyss-mal… or Not, Rather

Week 43 – Abyss-mal… or Not, Rather

It’s not often that I can report progress on both my major writing projects in the same day, but here you go: I got about 2.5 pages apiece of both Soulsnatcher Chapter 6 and Shattered Skies Chapter 31 done today. I’m aiming to get the former done by the end of the month in time for my Patreon deadline, we’ll see how well that works. Of course, there’s also my other project for AO3 that I want to finish by October’s end, but… that’s a lower-priority thing, it’ll happen when it happens.

My media consumption this week has been marked by some really heavy lifting done on my feels. The first I’ll mention was the end of Clara Oswald’s tenure as companion on Doctor Who. Since this is from a recent season, I’ll tag this section with a *SPOILER ALERT*.

So, I was peripherally aware of the events of the show enough to know that her departure was coming and that she was going to die, but I was not prepared for Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth becoming absolutely goddamn terrifying in his efforts to save her. A line he gave to the person indirectly responsible for Clara’s coming death made my skin crawl: “You let Clara die, and I will rain hell on you until the end of time.” Shortly followed by “You’ll find it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you.” It’s heartbreaking to watch, but it’s also some of Capaldi’s best acting. And then he topped himself in the following episode, “Heaven Sent”, in which he carries the whole show by himself for fifty-five minutes (save for one line spoken by a hallucination of Clara, a non-speaking minor role for a little boy at the end, and a seriously disturbing monster) as the Doctor goes through his own personal Hell. That statement is not hyperbole at all: without spoiling it too much, when I say he out-Homuras Homura, that should be an indication of how impressive this episode was. It’s a crowning achievement, and now it’s right up there with “Vincent and the Doctor”, “The Doctor’s Wife”, and “Flatline” as an all-time favorite Moffat-era episode.

And then there was Made in Abyss, a fantasy anime from this past season that I was not prepared for. Oh, I heard in advance that its cutesy, adorable art style was a Madoka-esque deception, but good freaking lord. This series is simultaneously one of the most gorgeous to look at and one of the hardest to watch I’ve seen in years, and the comparisons to Madoka are NOT AT ALL unfounded.

To sum it up: there’s the Abyss. It’s in the middle of an island in the middle of the ocean. It’s a circular hole in the world several miles across, it’s filled with ancient relics and strange otherworldly life forms, and it’s so impossibly deep that no one’s ever seen the bottom and lived to tell about it. And something (or multiple somethings) about it is just plain wrong: the farther down you descend, the more goes wrong with you when you try to come back up. It starts with headaches, dizziness, and nausea just from climbing up a few feet within the first thousand meters or so, and at deeper depths it can escalate to hallucinations, bleeding out all your orifices, insanity, loss of humanity, death, and worse. Yes, worse. TVTropes calls this thing “Uncle Lovecraft’s Fun-Time Murder Hole” for damned good reason.

Our main character is an excitable twelve-year-old girl named Riko, a “cave raider” in training who waits for the day when she can go past the first layer and discover the Abyss’s secrets for herself. Her mother was Lyza, a great explorer who (possibly) went deeper into the Abyss than anyone else in history… but she’s been gone down there for ten years and hasn’t come back. On one of her excursions, Riko finds an amnesiac robot boy she names “Reg”, with extendable arms, a cool helmet, and laser cannons in his palms. Finding and activating Reg leads her to discover that Lyza might be alive in the Abyss after all, and that she might be waiting for Riko to join her… so Riko and Reg set off on a forbidden journey to the bottom, she to find her mom and he to find his lost memories.

This sounds like innocent fun, and the incredible Ghibli-esque scenery and animation certainly makes it look like it could be… but then you get stuff like the “Curse”, the Abyss sickness that seems purposefully designed by some sadistic asshole to prevent people who go down from coming back up. Then you get a succession of really horrible monsters that resemble Ghibli creations after a particularly terrifying acid trip. Then you get the plot twists, including the revelation that all along Riko’s been closer to the Abyss than she ever imagined, and then you get one of the few scenes in any anime ever that made me squirm with discomfort and distressed me almost to the point of illness, and then you get an absolutely adorable character with one of the saddest backstories in anime history, and-

I don’t say this often, but if this sounds interesting to you and you have a strong spine and stomach to take it, WATCH THIS SHOW. It’s been appearing on many “Best of the Year” lists, and it well deserves them. Despite my comparisons to Madoka, it’s one of the most unique stories I’ve seen in ages, very much its own thing. And dear lord does it grab hold of your feels and beat the living hell out of them. There’s apparently another season in the works, which gives me yet another 2018(?) anime series to anxiously look forward to.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 6: 2.25 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 3 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 2 pages done
  • Shattered Skies, Chapter 31: 2.25 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Episode 05: COMPLETE!
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Shorts Episode 02: Now in progress

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