BHS Blogress Report: 2020, July – What’s There to Say?

July 2020 – What’s There to Say?

So yeah, I fell behind on my Blogress Reports. I fell behind by a lot. But to be brutally honest, part of the reason for that is that nothing of note has been happening to me in the past month… at least, nothing of note that I felt like discussing publicly. I’m still stuck at home due to quarantine. I haven’t gotten any writing done since finishing my last chapter of Skies. The only ongoing anime I’m keeping up with is Precure, and even on that I’m several weeks behind. Recent events in the real world are too depressing to think about, let alone write about. So there’s not much left, really.

I did watch all of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, which was a fantastic source of laughs and good cheer at a time when both of those are desperately needed. Somehow it combined two of my least favorite anime genres (harem and isekai) into something irresistibly charming, consistently hilarious, and surprisingly touching.

I got a new camera to replace my aging Olympus SH-2, so there’s that. Once I get an issue with my lighting equipment resolved on Sunday, I’m going to try taking some test shots with it. Maybe that will be what I need to kick my brain back into gear.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 26 – Healin’ Good Again

Week 26 – Healin’ Good Again

We Precure fans are having, one might say, a bomb-ass week.

Several weeks ago, official word came out that Healin’ Good would come back from its COVID-induced hiatus this weekend. Reason enough to celebrate, after ten weeks off the air… but then a few days ago, the unbelievable, nay, impossible was announced.

https://www.crunchyroll.com/healin-good-pretty-cure

Precure. Simulcasting and streaming legally, subbed and unedited, on a major English-language platform, for the first time ever. To say that the fandom went nuts is an understatement.

So shout-out to all the devoted fans who have been screaming at Crunchyroll for years to pick up the license, because you finally did it. I of course am 1000% in favor of this development, and not only have I re-upped my CR subscription in preparation, but I’m planning on rewatching the whole series on there once the episodes are up, just so Toei can see those viewing metrics… I encourage anyone else reading this to do the same if you can. Anything to ensure that this experiment is a success and isn’t a one-off thing. Just the possibility of being able to watch Heartcatch, Go! Princess, or Hugtto again through legal means gives me shivers.

Yeah, I’m in a happy place this week. And I’m gonna try to capitalize on that to get a head start on Chapter 49 of Shattered Skies… I did have to cut the rest of the fight in 48 due to length, after all. Wish me luck.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 25 – Unnecessary Headaches

Week 25 – Unnecessary Headaches

I was afraid this would happen. The following primarily applies to my DeviantArt readers, and I regret to inform you that it’s not good news.

As with most things, I tried to give DA Eclipse the benefit of the doubt. Sure, it’s ugly, buggy, and a needless “upgrade” to a system that worked reasonably well most of the time, but after a couple weeks using it, I got the hang of it well enough.

Then came this week, when I tried to submit the new chapter of Shattered Skies.

I’m sorry to say that Eclipse’s literature submission system is nigh-unworkable. Not only are there barely any options to format text, not only does it not save drafts, not only is there no cover art or text search function anymore, but it doesn’t even recognize friggin’ HTML coding. Not even the basic stuff. And when I tried copying and pasting already formatted text into it, I got this mess:

No line breaks and no indents. As far as I know, there isn’t even an option to center text.

This is quite simply unacceptable, and I’ve sent a strongly worded note to DA informing them of such. DA being DA, I don’t expect it will ever see the light of day, but.

Since the vast majority of what I post on DA is literature, and going back and trying to manually insert every line break where it’s needed is a massive headache waiting to happen, I don’t see many other options here. I’m going to have to submit files that are blank save for the URLs for new chapters. I hate to have to resort to this, but I can’t simply stop posting here and I can’t leave DA altogether, so until the submission system gets fixed (don’t hold your breath), this is how it’s got to be.

In any case. Shattered Skies Chapter 48 is up, I’ll have the file with the links posted soon. Please try to bear with me.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Weeks 23 and 24 – Pride

Weeks 23 and 24 – Pride

All I have to say for this one is that after the events of this week, I hope you’ll consider supporting the LGBTQIA+ community however you can. I’m running a donation drive for The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization providing much-needed counseling and help to LGBTQIA+ kids who need it. The link is below.

http://tinyurl.com/bhstrevor

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 22 – I Have Nothing to Say

Week 22 – I Have Nothing to Say

If you’re paying attention, you know what’s going on. When things like this happen, there’s a temptation for everyone to jump online or in front of a camera to give their opinions on the situation.

You won’t see anything like that from me. Not because I don’t care, but because I recognize that it’s not my place to say anything. I’ll keep watching and keep supporting, but I’ll leave the words to those who need to be heard more than I do.

Below, you’ll find some links to charitable causes supporting the protesters. Please share them, and donate if you can.

Black Visions Collective secure.everyaction.com/4omQDAR0oUiUag

Reclaim The Block secure.everyaction.com/zae4prEeKESHBy

North Star Health Collective northstarhealthcollective.org/donate

Louisville Bail Fund actionnetwork.org/fundraising/lo

 

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Weeks 20 and 21 – Yup, Still Here

Weeks 20 and 21 – Yup, Still Here

So as of this week, DeviantArt has switched over to Eclipse. I didn’t fool around much with it while it was still optional. Now that it’s mandatory… well, it’s still pretty bad, but not the utter disaster I feared it would be. We’ll see how it goes whenever I post my next chapter… which shouldn’t be too much longer, I hope. Maybe they finally got rid of that archaic 64 KB text limit, though I’m not getting my hopes up.

Work on Chapter 48 of Shattered Skies is progressing slowly but surely. I’m on page 13 now, and I’m hoping that the forthcoming fight scene won’t be an ordeal to write like the last one in Chapter 45 was. I’m throwing in something fun that long-time readers may recognize, so that’s worth looking forward to.

Other than that, I really have no idea what else to write here, so. Stay safe, everyone.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 19 – Damn Right I’m Angry

Week 19 – Damn Right I’m Angry

A few years ago, after the fraudulent election that gave us the Orange Menace, I decided to cut politics out of my life. Of course I would still vote, and of course I would still care about the issues, but I would no longer engage with what had become an almost entirely corrupt system. For the most part, I’ve been far happier since then, and I don’t regret my choice.

This current situation, however, has gone beyond politics. You know that old phrase “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention”? That’s me.

My generation has already been crippled by 9/11 and its fallout, a completely unnecessary war, skyrocketing student loan debt, a financial recession (and a depression probably soon to follow), rampant and blatant corruption, two stolen elections and the two worst “Presidents” of all time… and now this. Two thousand Americans dying every day, from a crisis that easily could have been averted. Trump and the other scum like him have ruined most of the last twenty years with barely any consequences, and now they’re getting away with this. It makes me want to scream.

I try not to be judgmental. I try to let people believe what they want to believe. But when I see people, even members of my own extended family, trying to defend the horrific actions of human cockroaches who couldn’t give two shits about anyone that isn’t them… damn right I get angry. Everyone with any sense should get angry.

But part of the problem is, getting angry solves nothing anymore. The rich and powerful have insulated themselves against pretty much anything we can do… they arrest the protesters or ignore them altogether, they dodge jail time by buying their way out or rewriting the laws to suit their ends, they rig the elections, they control the media. Oh sure, every once in a while once of them slips up and gets caught… but there’s always another one waiting in the wings to replace them. We’re less than nothing to them now, and they’ve had decades of time to break the system so that they don’t have to answer to anyone.

I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I am mostly irrelevant to the world at large, and will likely remain so. I’m so disabled that I’ll never have a “real” job. I don’t have money. I can’t travel, so I’ll never leave home. I’ll never have a romantic partner or a family of my own. The one thing that I can still do is rage against the dying of the light, casting my words and my feelings out into the void for as long as I can. You’re damn right I’m going to keep sharing anti-Trump content on my Facebook for as long as this madness lasts, and I don’t care who sees it. I may be a shut-in, I may be physically and emotionally damaged, but I can still be loud. No one’s taking that from me.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Weeks 17 and 18 – DA is My Home

Weeks 17 and 18 – DA is My Home

Whoo boy. People do not like DeviantArt Eclipse, and they especially don’t like that they’ll be forced to use it come the 20th. To be fair, these people have every right to be upset… Eclipse is ugly, it’s counterintuitive to use, it’s missing features, and apparently it’s full of bugs, too. There’s at least one protest movement going on right now to try to convince DA’s higher-ups to change their minds about retiring the old system, and I’ve seen more than a few of the artists that I watch swearing that they’re moving to other sites.

While I certainly don’t like Eclipse, and I don’t fault everybody who wants to protest or leave, it’s certainly not the first bad redesign in the site’s history. Nor will it be the last, I’m sure. For better or worse, I think I’m staying. DA has its flaws, and the shortcomings of Eclipse are among them, but my page has been my little corner of the Internet for sixteen years now. Hell, my entire life here in Roanoke, the vast majority of my adulthood, has been recorded on there.

Even apart from how long I’ve been using it, I feel like I belong on DA. I’ve tried Facebook and I’ve tried Twitter and I’ve tried Pillowfort, and all of them have their good points but none of them are for me. None of them feel as comfortable as DA has. The only other place online where I’ve ever truly felt like a part of the community is Tumblr… and of course, we know how that ended up. DA is home to no end of weirdos, misfits, outcasts, and rejects… and for someone who’s never felt particularly comfortable fitting in with the “normal” people, it’s been a haven. I found many enduring friends through it, including my best friend.

So yeah, by all means, keep doing your protests. DA has problems that need to be addressed, and I truly hope they will be… but Eclipse isn’t a dealbreaker for me yet. Let’s just see how it goes.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Weeks 15 and 16 – Cartoony

Weeks 15 and 16 – Cartoony

Not much going on the past two weeks, so let’s talk about cartoons!

One of the many reasons I watch anime is because I get so much out of it: great characters, amazing fight scenes, sophisticated storytelling, cute and appealing character designs… and occasionally, something deep and meaningful.

And sometimes, I watch anime to get nothing more than goofy faces, absurd comedy, and slapstick violence.

This season sees the return of Dropkick on my Devil! / Jashin-chan Dropkick!, a shining example of the above. I’ve been rewatching the first season in between new episodes, and I’ve found a renewed appreciation for what kind of show it is. It’s not meant to tell a great story. It’s not meant to be deep or profound. The show exists to be funny, pure and simple. And while I acknowledge that its humor isn’t for everyone, the concept of what’s basically a Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner cartoon, only with anime girls and way more brutal violence, is my jam.

Dropkick is a cartoony anime, one where everything is in service of the jokes. The characters’ personalities are exaggerated archetypes. Their faces and bodies squash and stretch and deform like silly putty. What little plot there is is subject to be derailed at a moment’s notice. The characters shatter the fourth wall with impunity. Is it high art? Hell no, but there’s an art to it. This is an old-fashioned kind of humor that sadly doesn’t see much play anymore… I made the Roadrunner comparison up there, but this show really does remind me of classic Looney Tunes: it’s wild, it’s anarchic, and it gives no shits about being anything other than a laugh riot. There’s something quite refreshing about that, especially these days.

Of course there’s still a place in my book for more sophisticated humor; I’ve also eagerly awaited the second season of Kaguya-sama: Love is War, and it’s already living up to its high standards. But dammit, sometimes you just want to see a lethally stupid snake demon girl be an absolutely terrible person, and then see someone beat the stuffing out of her for it. The process then repeats itself, because she never, ever learns. Karma may not catch up with the right people in the real world, but at least it still exists in fantasy.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 14 – Back in the Saddle

Week 14 – Back in the Saddle

After a long, long period of inactivity, I finally got a new chapter of Shattered Skies out this week. It took a lot of extra effort to get back into my groove, but I think it was absolutely worth it. I’m especially proud of how Erika’s rehab scene turned out, as I’ve had that one in mind for ages now. There was a specific goal in mind there: to show that even with the presence of magic and super-advanced tech, there isn’t an instant fix for Erika’s leg. Oh sure, I could come up with some justification for her adjusting instantly to her prosthetic. If I felt like it, I could probably even find a way to restore her lost leg, no prosthetic required. But doing that would feel cheap and disrespectful. The whole point was to show her struggling in a realistic way, because people who lose their limbs for real don’t get magic fixes either. To that end, I did serious research into prosthetic rehab and physical therapy before writing the scene, and I hope that shows.

So now I’m in the process of planning out the next few chapters. It may surprise some of you to hear this, but unlike with Tasakeru, Stars Above, and most of my other long-term plots, Shattered Skies has largely been written by the seat of my pants. I use a variation of my usual plotting technique, by which I work backwards in reverse chronological order from my intended end point. Here’s a rough idea of how it works: the thing that needs to happen to progress the plot at the end of the scene/chapter/act/story is Point Z. I can only get to Point Z from Point Y. And what needs to happen to get to Point Y? Well, to answer that, I have to go from Point X… and so on and so on, back through the chain of events until I’m at Point A.

By doing it this way, I can have a rough goal in mind to work towards, but I can also leave myself enough flexibility to change my mind about plot points if I deem it necessary. So I have some very specific ideas about what to do for the eventual end of Shattered Skies, but exactly how I’m getting there is still up in the air.

Anyway, there’s your (hopefully) fascinating little peek into my creative process. I’ll be back with more next week.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Weeks 12 and 13 – So Long, Steven

Weeks 12 and 13 – So Long, Steven

I’m not doing too well with my resolution to get back to regular Blogress Reports, I admit. But I can’t let another week slip by without marking a notable occasion: the end of Steven Universe.

It feels almost unreal that it’s been nearly five years since Steven and the Gems came into my life. I started out figuring that I had to start watching because I was seeing it all over Tumblr and I didn’t want to get even more spoiled than I already was. So I started a segment on my blog dedicated to giving my thoughts and reactions as I went about catching up, thinking that if nothing else, I could at least get some traffic out of it. Cynical, I know. I clearly remember thinking “There’s no way this thing can be as good as Tumblr makes it out to be.” I was guarded, willing to be surprised but expecting nothing.
Anyone who followed my commentaries knows what happened: I fell in love. You can see it happening… or you could, if I didn’t actively discourage giving the corpse of Tumblr any more hits than necessary, but I digress. I went from “Okay, this is cute” to “WHAT HAS THIS SHOW DONE TO ME” in less than a week. There, when I least expected it, I found something miraculous. Something deep and meaningful and emotionally complex. Something progressive as hell and unafraid to shout it to the rooftops. Not only did Steven Universe live up to its hype, it exceeded it. That summer, when SU came back from one of its many hiatuses, I was fully on board. My commentary sub-blog, which I had intended to run only until I’d caught up, ended up lasting three and a half more years, to the very end of the original series. It even outlasted Tumblr! I convinced my friends to watch it with me, I downloaded the soundtracks, I made a tribute remix and a t-shirt design… and in 2018, I met Zach Callison, the voice of Steven himself. I shook his hand, looked him in the eye, and said with total honesty: “Your show is a masterpiece. What you’re doing is essential, and I think your show is equal with the works of Miyazaki.”
2018 ID: BHS is Steven Universe Approved by bhsdesk
Equal with the works of Miyazaki. Five years ago, I’d have never dreamed I’d say those words about a Western cartoon. I’ve idolized Miyazaki’s work for almost half my life now. Princess Mononoke was and still is my favorite movie ever, and it has been since the night I first saw it. Hell, I wrote a psychology paper on his films in my senior year of high school, and got an A- on it too. So maybe you have some inkling of what it means for me to say that Rebecca Sugar’s weird, wonderful, beautiful work belongs up there with Princess Mononoke in the list of things that I don’t just love, that aren’t just influential to me, but they’re life-changing. Steven Universe is one of those things.
In other words, it’s far, far more to me than just being a fantastic animated series. Putting aside the enormous influence it’s had on my creative work, I feel I must remind you that Steven Universe inspired me to publicly come out as asexual/aromantic. I had been struggling with my sexuality for a long time, and SU’s bold message about loving who you are and not being ashamed, damn the consequences, resonated with me. It spoke to me in ways I don’t think I fully understood at first. When I finally realized that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t abnormal or broken just because I couldn’t feel romantic attraction, that maybe being like that was okay and I could be worthy, even beautiful as a person anyway… it was transformative. That realization gave me strength. I worked up the courage to come out to my friends and loved ones, and despite all the chaos that’s happened in my life since then, I think I’m much happier for it overall.
So now, after five years as a constant part of my life, Steven Universe is over. It’s only fitting that a show that surprised me so often during its run would hand out one last surprise in its final episode. I gotta be vague here, because I know that at least a few people reading this aren’t caught up yet, but… well, I was bracing myself expecting total emotional devastation, and I didn’t get it. Not in the actual final episode, anyway… the stuff leading up to it was auuuuuuuuugh. Instead, “The Future” was a gentle coda to the series, lighthearted and just a little bittersweet. It prompted tears from me, yes, but not the ugly crying I expected. And the more I think about it, the more I think… yeah, I’m completely satisfied. Much as I love bittersweet endings, after all he’s been through, Steven deserves a happy one. Not to spoil, but he got it.
And now, after seven years, five seasons, a movie, and a 20-episode epilogue miniseries, we’re done. Steven and his friends belong to the ages now. Rebecca Sugar and the cast and crew, be proud of yourselves. You made something miraculous. You made animation history, you changed countless lives including mine, and you went out in a blaze of glory. I’ve said a lot of words in this entry, but I think I can finish up with just this: thank you so much. Thank you.
– BHS
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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 11 – Enough Already

Week 11 – Enough Already

Since there’s not much else to do, what with almost everything I live for being shut down, delayed, or canceled, I might as well try to get the Blogress Report running again. I apologize for my long period of silence; for most of the last month, my attempts to get myself feeling normal again have met with failure. It’s only in the last week or so that I’ve graduated to “okay most of the time”… though with the viral apocalypse in full swing, that might not last.

You can count me as one of the people who are 1000% done with hearing about this thing. For the sake of my own sanity, I’ve temporarily unsubscribed from my usual Anime News Network and AV Club news feeds, since every third article lately has been about the virus. I spend most of my time on the Internet to try to get away from the madness in real life, see. I can deal with being holed up at home… hell, that’s my everyday life. What I can’t deal with is nonstop hysteria and predictions of doom, especially when they impact pretty much all the things for which I get up in the morning.

I suppose if there is an upside to this, it’s that until this nightmare is over I’ll have far more time to write. I’ve neglected Shattered Skies for way too long, I know. Fortunately, I got an offer today from a very generous friend who wants to try to help me with my issues of distraction. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, fingers crossed, Doom Eternal will still come out next week. If there’s ever been a time for the catharsis of ripping and tearing through a (fictional) Hell on earth, it’s now.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 7 – Home Again, At Last

Week 7 – Home Again, At Last

After three-and-a-half weeksmuch of it spent miserableI’m finally back in my own house, at my own PC.  The renovation still isn’t quite finished yet, but I’m not gonna lie: just being here has brought down my stress levels. Why, a couple more days and I might actually get back to writing. Imagine that!

Big Lick Comic Con was a lot of fun. I only wish that I could have stayed longer… or, you know, that I had more money and space for souvenirs, but that’s the case for every con. Obviously, one of the highlights was meeting and shaking hands with one of the icons of my childhood…

That is indeed Jason David Frank, not just any Power Ranger but the Power Ranger. I was lucky enough to find that Green/White Ranger Legacy Morpher at one of the vendors, so now I’ll be able to say for the rest of my life that I held it first and JDF held it second. (The morpher I’m holding comes courtesy of ChaosCroc, who was generous enough to let me borrow it for the occasion. Thanks, buddy!)

My other photos from the con can be found on my Instagram here, which I’m trying to use more often since it’s apparently the place for photographers now. Speaking of photography: just before I left, I put together an anniversary photo for Heartcatch Precure’s 10th birthday and Go! Princess’s fifth, which you can see below.

Ten and Five by bhsdesk

I’m afraid this might be one of the last figure shoots I take with my faithful Olympus camera, sadly. While in the process of taking this one, I discovered that the current minimum respectable number of megapixels on a decent camera is 20 MP or more, and mine’s only got 16. I knew it wasn’t top of the line anymore, but that still frustrates me… and it explains why so many of my pics lately have looked so terribly blurry. So that’s going to be the next big upgrade I invest in… hopefully the jobs I have coming up will cover that.

Anyway. I’m gonna try to actually have some stuff up next week, whether it be progress on Skies or thoughts on Magia Record and Healin’ Good Precure. We’ll see.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Weeks 5 and 6 – Urrrgh

Weeks 5 and 6: Urrrgh

Still in Moneta, and still tired. I’ve had quite enough havoc and disruption for this year, thank you. At this point, I don’t even want to speculate when I’ll be home, but when I get there I feel like I want to climb into my own bed and sleep for about a month.

I’m going to a local comic con tomorrow, and I’m praying I have the energy to enjoy it. I’ll try to have more substantive updates next week.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Weeks 3 and 4 – Struggling to Care

Weeks 3 and 4 – Struggling to Care

I should have known better.

Here I am, in the outskirts of Moneta for the next two weeks (minimum) while our house’s kitchen is being renovated. The leadup to this renovation has basically been about two months of nonstop chaos, stress, distractions, and wholly unnecessary aggravation. So after spending my first night at my family’s lake house, my first night of decent sleep in over a week, I woke up feeling actually refreshed for once, and I thought: “Maybe I can actually relax now.”

That was a mistake. I really should have known better.

I’m not even that upset that my troubles managed to catch up to me even up here. Frankly, I shouldn’t even be surprised. My life since September has felt like a long, unbroken string of one disaster or crisis after another, and life loves nothing more than kicking my ass within hours or minutes of feeling like things are going to be okay. Disaster has become almost routine… so this time, instead of getting truly upset about it, I’m just retreating into general apathy.

I don’t care that my job search has been put on indefinite hold. I don’t care that I’ll likely either have to spend a month or more away from home or go through this whole damned process again in the near future. Why get upset? This is my life now, I best get used to it.

The problem with apathy as a coping mechanism, though, is that it’s so tempting to just stop caring about everything. I’m finding it difficult to muster enthusiasm for the upcoming stuff in my life, as so much of it is closely tied to the things I’m trying desperately to get away from. It’s like I’m following faint lights through a dense fog that threatens to close in at any moment.

So no, I don’t really have any updates on things I’m doing or looking forward to this week. I’m very, very tired.

– BHS

EDIT: Sorry, this was a “vent” entry. I had a lot of anger in my system that I needed to get out, and not all of the above was entirely fair. I’m going to try to be more positive in the coming days.

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Tasakeru, tasakeru.com, and all related contents, text, and media are the Intellectual Property (IP) of BHS and BHS Productions, registered in 2009, and may not be modified, reproduced, or changed in any way, shape, or form without the author's express permission. For more information on usage rights, see the From the Author page.

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