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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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 2 – More Magical Girl Stuff

Week 2 – More Magical Girl Stuff

There’s a reason I’ve barely talked about the current Precure over the past year: Star Twinkle has been one of the weakest seasons, in my opinion. It doesn’t manage to constantly infuriate me with its blandness like Mahou Tsukai did, but that’s one of the only things keeping it above the bottom of my ranking. Look, just because something is made for little kids doesn’t mean it has to be dull, sloppy, and generally badly-written. Hugtto had an astonishing level of depth and complexity for a show of its demographic, and it was a financial success as well. It’s rare and hard to pull off, but you can do both.

I don’t really ask for much from Precure, all things considered. Strong character writing and great fight scenes are the two most important points for me, and I’m sorry, but Star Twinkle has failed the first one, and it’s not that great at the second either. It doesn’t feel like the signature Precure elements are tacked on as an afterthought, like Mahou did, but it does feel like the bare minimum of effort has been expended here. They’ve even squandered the one thing I thought was legitimately cool when I first saw it, the true identity of its main villain. I wrestled with whether or not to warn of spoilers just now, but ultimately, why bother? There’s been as little effort put into said villain’s motivations as there is anything else.

At least we’re about to start a new series, with Madoka herself voicing our new leader, Nodoka Hanadera, aka Cure Grace. Healin’ Good seems to be bringing in some fresh talent for its production, and it looks like it’s sorely needed.

Speaking of Madoka… Magia Record’s anime finally premiered on Saturday. I think it was a really solid premiere, setting up what it needed to and reintroducing the world of PMMM to the audience. Having played the game since the launch of the English version, I’m curious to see as to exactly how they’re modifying the story to keep us on our toes. There’s already been one important plot point that I think the English version hasn’t gotten to yet, not to mention the presence of the anime-exclusive character Kuroe to shake things up. And of course, there’s that brief shot of all five of the Holy Quintet in the OP, which promises that they’ll indeed be guest starring in the anime as well as the game… the premiere was great, but I’m far more excited for what the future of the show holds.

Far more excited, that is, than what my own immediate future holds. I’m afraid it’s going to be next month before things even approach normal around my neck of the woods. In fact, I’ll be spending the last two weeks of January out of my house while renovations are done, which means putting all my projects on further hold. I want to at least get the photo thing done before I go… I just need one day mostly free of interruptions to get around to actually taking it. Wish me luck.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 1 – A Fresh Start

Week 1 – A Fresh Start

2019 sucked. I mean, it really sucked. Like, there were definite bright spots: the Weird Al concert, the early screenings of Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, discovering Symphogear and Breaking Bad, and of course, publishing Book I of Tasakeru. But for every good thing that happened, there seemed to be about twelve disasters. The most recent of those was when my brand-new PC burned out its motherboard after only eight days and had to be mailed back to Dell… not to mention I had a relapse of the respiratory infection I caught back in November, which left me too sick to celebrate Christmas. Looking at all the skipped and truncated Blogress Reports and lack of  output from me from last year, I think you can pretty clearly see just how badly 2019 exhausted me. It took all my energy just to survive from week to week, and my creativity suffered.

But, thank heaven, 2019 is over… I stayed up until midnight just so I could see it die for myself. It’s a new year and a new decade, and I have a chance to start anew. Once I’m back on my feet, I intend to make up for at least some of that lost time. My first step is a photo project, my first in almost a year, which I aim to have up the first week in February. I also need to restart my streaming career, but that may have to wait until next month to fully get off the ground. Shattered Skies will continue, of course, and I’m hoping to make Book I of Tasakeru available in paperback sometime this year, too.

I thank you all for your patience and your support during my many rough patches. Fingers crossed, this is the start of something good.

– BHS

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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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