BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 47 – The One Who Knocks

Week 47 – The One Who Knocks

Forgive me if this is a short entry. Most of the last two days were spent working, and I’m pretty much exhausted.

As of today, Ninty and I are all caught up with Steven Universe. Auspicious timing, then, that a new teaser for Future dropped this afternoon. There’s confirmation that Jasper will be returning as an antagonist, some tantalizing hints of Aquamarine apparently returning as a fusion (!!!), and an emphasis on Pink Pearl… intriguing stuff. Still no release date yet, but it’s something to look forward to. Next up in our watch queue is Gravity Falls, which will be lots of fun.

While on my job, I decided to finally sit down and watch Breaking Bad on Netflix, and I’m in the early part of Season 2. I can already see why it’s one of the most acclaimed dramas of the decade, the acting is phenomenal. It’s making a genre I don’t normally watch (crime drama) and a subject I could hardly know less about (the manufacture and trade of illegal drugs, specifically crystal meth) into something fascinating and compelling. I really like how from the outset, literally from minute one, there’s no attempt at all to justify or glamorize what Walter’s doing. Cooking meth is never portrayed as anything other than a terrible, dangerous idea that can and does ruin Walter’s life and the lives of all those involved. There’s never any doubt that the story is going to be a tragedy about a basically good man doing awful things with the best of intentions (at least at first). I’ll try to offer more insights as I go along… I know I’m very late getting on board with it, but I hope what I have to say is interesting regardless.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Weeks 45 and 46 – Room for RWBY

Weeks 45 and 46: Room for RWBY
 
I admit it, I’ve been really slipping with my Blogress Reports lately. I honestly haven’t felt like doing much, what with winter beginning in earnest. Most of my work on Skies has been doing research for the next chapter. There’s a couple subjects that are going to be in there which not a lot of my readers are familiar with, I’m sure, but I try to always at least make an effort to be as accurate as I can and show my work.
I’m pretty sure of what I want to do in the next chapter, but I’m having the damndest time actually, you know, doing it. I’ve just been tremendously unfocused. Part of my problem is TVTropes, I’m sure, because I keep getting sucked down that rabbit hole for hours. In fact, it’s happened at least three times while I’ve tried to write this entry. If I can just resist the temptation to browse on there for a day or two, maybe I can actually get some stuff done.
Ninty has me watching RWBY now, and while the first two volumes of the series are really rough, now that we’ve finished the third, I’m really glad I’ve stuck with it. I won’t say exactly what did it, just in case anyone here is thinking of watching, but not too many shows can pull of the kind of spectacular stakes-raising that RWBY does. If the subsequent volumes can keep up this kind of pace and energy, then it’s found itself a new fan.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 44 – Essential Work

Week 44 – Essential Work
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong about being honest about things that are painful and hard. I don’t want to suffer in silence; I want everyone else who hurts in this profoundly important way to know that they’re not alone.”
 
The line above comes from a blog posted today by Nathan Rabin. It jumped out at me shortly before I started this entry. Nathan Rabin is a fantastic writer, in my opinion one of the finest film and media critics in the world, and I’ve been following his work for years. I’ve grown to respect and admire him even more since he began writing candidly of his struggles with depression and feelings of failure, subjects I’m all too familiar with. The blog entry in question concerns Mark Twain, and how his chronic inability to manage his money contributed to his greatness as an American author and humorist.
Rabin’s words reminded me of my favorite lines from Steven Universe: “You have to be honest about how bad it feels, so you can move on!” That’s something tremendously important, which doesn’t get said enough in today’s society… we’re told to “tough it out” and “keep a stiff upper lip” and “always look on the bright side” over and over again. Revisiting SU with Ninty is giving me a renewed appreciation, not just for how good the show is, but how essential its messages are: all types of people are beautiful and valid. Loving yourself is just as important as loving others. Empathy and compassion can be superpowers.
I may not always be the best at following the advice and lessons that the show dispenses, but I feel with absolute certainty that I’m a better person for watching it, that the series has had a positive impact on my life and my growth as a person. So in that spirit, I’ll be honest here: I don’t love myself, and I haven’t loved myself for many years now. Part of that is depression, and part of that is the result of a life that hasn’t turned out the way I wanted or expected. There’s been a lot of pain, physical and emotional, and a lot of regrets over mistakes I’ve made. I’m not, generally speaking, a happy person… but one of Steven Universe’s greatest gifts and greatest messages to me is this: change is possible. It’s given me the hope that someday, maybe, I can change and learn to love myself again. I’m a flawed person, but so is everyone. Those flaws will never really go away, but maybe I can learn to accept them as part of who I am and grow from there.
It’s enormously profound stuff for what’s seen as a children’s show… but as I said to Ninty, part of the secret of Steven Universe’s genius is that it’s not written like a children’s show. It has a raw emotional honesty and complexity that many if not most so-called “adult” media lack, and it’s tackled issues no other series will touch with unparalleled skill and sensitivity. Rebecca Sugar and her cast and crew do essential work. So does Nathan Rabin, in his own unique way. And maybe, in my own way, so do I.
– BHS

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BHS Belated Blogress Report: 2019, Week 43 – It’s a Pun on “Feelin’ Good”

Week 43 – It’s a Pun on “Feelin’ Good”
 

Hot off the copyright bot as of this morning, Healin’ Good Precure is your title for 2020’s Precure series. Now begins the annual tradition of speculating until leaks of the official designs come out. I’m wondering if we’ll have a situation like we did last year, what with the two months of fake leaks beforehand… last year made me think that Toei might have finally learned to keep a lid on stuff, but it could have been a fluke. Anyway, from what I’m seeing, the fan consensus seems to be that it’s theme is going to be either nurses or veterinarians (based on the four hearts arranged like a pawprint in the logo), but they’ve surprised us before.

Ninty and I finished Season 1 of Steven Universe last night, and he’s officially on board and all in. Watching him go through roughly the same progression as I did with the show (roughly, going from “It’s pretty cute” to “ZOMG TOTAL EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT, WHAT HAS THIS SHOW DONE TO ME“) was a delight, and I can’t wait to show him what comes next.
I’m trying to get back on track with both Shattered Skies and my streaming this week, after a really nasty cold derailed both. Wish me luck.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 41 – Adrift

Week 41: Adrift
 
Yet again, I don’t know what to write this week. I’ve started this entry, gone back, erased it, and started it again at least six times. What is there for me to do, except plug away at Shattered Skies? Tasakeru has stalled and so has Silent InvenTOYry. The only other thing I’m working on on a regular basis is my streaming. It feels pointless to write a Blogress Report when there’s nothing notable to report on.
This feeling of being directionless isn’t new, and I fear it’s not going away any time soon. Tasakeru has been my life’s driving purpose for most of the last twenty years, and now that it’s hit a wall, I don’t know what else there is. I just keep doing what I’ve been doing, as it usually gets me through the day well enough. If life were a work of fiction, I’d start out on some empowering journey of self-discovery… but that’s not me. I don’t have the time or the resources to go out and find myself. Even if I did, I’m not sure I’d like what I find.
I’m not depressed, I’m just… drifting. Going through the motions. Ennui, I believe is the term. I don’t know what else to do, other than try to keep going.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Weeks 39 and 40 – Low on Content

Weeks 39 and 40: Low on Content
 
I’m beginning to fear that I’m running out of stuff to write about for these things. Truth is, I don’t actually do much during the week, save for watching anime and writing when I’m able. “When I’m able” is anyone’s guess as much as mine these days, to be honest.
There is the series finale of Symphogear to discuss, though. Man, what a wild ride, eh? About the only thing I could have asked for for the final season was more for Chris to do… well, and maybe an actual, unambiguous love confession between Hibiki and Miku at the end. Regardless, Symphogear has earned its spot among my favorite magical girl series, and I’m only sorry I didn’t give it a chance sooner.
It’s spooky season once again, and in the spirit of Halloween, I’m starting a playthrough of Doom 2016 on my Twitch and giving everyone season-appropriate nicknames on my Discord server.
Anyway. I’ve got something special planned for the fifth anniversary of Shattered Skies, so my next goal is to get that finished and out the door on the 14th.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 38 – Out of Place

Week 38 – Out of Place
 
Mom’s surgery went well. Better than I thought, actually, as she’s up and been able to get up and walk around freely for the past few days… I was fearing that she might be bedridden. Thank you guys for all your thoughts and well-wishes, they really helped out.
I really wish I didn’t feel so damned awkward all the time. It’s my long history of social anxiety at work, sure, but there’s no reason why I should feel unwelcome even among other anime fans. No matter where I go or who I interact with, there’s a little voice in my head that whispers “You don’t belong here.” Hell, even when I talk to my best friend, I have to constantly tell myself that I’m not being annoying and that what I have to say really is of interest.
The sad fact is that I’ve built up a lot of self-hatred over the years, it influences my ability to communicate with people, and I don’t really have many effective ways to deal with it. My brain is often my worst enemy.
– BHS

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BHS Belated Blogress Report: 2019, Week 37 – On Hold Due to IRL

Week 37 – On Hold Due to IRL
Sorry, guys. The only thing that’s on my mind this week is my mother. For most of the past year, she’s been having trouble with her right arm and shoulder, and she’s finally having surgery on Friday. Thoughts, prayers, and patience are appreciated. I’ll try to get back to work on something once it’s all over.
Happy 8th birthday to Stars Above.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 36 – Photos Finished

Week 36 – Photos Finished
 
My birthday was pretty good, all things considered. I had breakfast with my family at my favorite coffee house, then went for dessert at a local sweet shop that I discovered earlier this month. I actually had pictures of what ended up being a really good substitute for cake, but unfortunately, a copy/paste accident over the weekend wiped out pretty much all the photos that were taken on my iPod over the last nine months. It royally sucks, but there’s really nothing I can do about it now, they’re gone.
Speaking of photos, I have a new project that I want to shoot. It shouldn’t be too complicated, I hope, and it’ll be a nice way to hopefully get back in the pictures game, as it’s been a good while. Preliminary planning for Shattered Skies Chapter 46 is also underway.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Weeks 34 and 35 – Delays and Birthdays

Week 34/35: Delays and Birthdays
 
To get this out of the way first: I didn’t want to write another Blogress Report without having something to show for it, which is part of why I missed last week’s. Chapter 45 of  Shattered Skies is finally up, after fighting me every step of the way for weeks now. I promise you this: it will be a long time before I ever attempt to write an 18-plus-page fight scene again. Frankly, I don’t want to even think about fight scenes for at least the next couple weeks.
So, on with the bad news: after thinking it over, I’ve decided to put the next episode of Silent InvenTOYry on hold for at least a couple months. It was supposed to be a Semi-Short covering Figuarts Cure Yell, but there was a significant delay in shipping her, which made me miss my release window. The delay will allow me to expand it into a full-episode review of Yell along with her teammates Ange, Étoile, Ma Chérie, and Amour, once their figures are all out. In the meantime, I want to try to get back to doing figure photo shoots for fun, which is something I haven’t done often enough lately.
My birthday is on Wednesday. I have mixed feelings about it. I may have reached the point where I’m allowed to start lying about my age, but I’m not sure.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 33 – Nothing of Interest

Week 33 – Nothing of Interest
Slow week. Got another two pages of Skies 45 done, but that’s about it. I’m currently stuck about halfway through a big fight scene… I’ve got several options on how to proceed, but I’m still trying to pick the right one.
Good news, though: I only need one more Amazon review for Without a Name. I dunno if mentioning this will help, but it’s worth a shot.
– BHS
  • Tasakeru Book I: Without a Name: PUBLISHED (tinyurl.com/tasakerubook1)
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 6 Patrons (patreon.com/tasakeru)
  • Twitch Follower Count: 61 followers
  • Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, Chapter 45: 8 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Short Episode 6: ~10% complete

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 32 – Maybe Looking Up

Week 32 – Maybe Looking Up

Turns out the comic con may have been just what I needed. I had a blast, I met a Power Ranger (Tracy Lynn Cruz, who played Ashley Hammond, the Yellow Ranger in Turbo and Space), I ate some really excellent melon bread, and more importantly… I feel more energized than I have in over a month. There’s been some actual progress made on Shattered Skies, and my goal is to get Chapter 45 out this week. There’s also a plan of action regarding Tasakeru: I want to try to get five reviews before the end of the year. I read somewhere that most people won’t buy a product on Amazon unless it has at least five reviews, so it’s worth testing. Amazon has a new system in place to try to prevent review-bombing, whereby you can’t review something unless you’ve spent at least $50 on your account… That’s discouraging some of my readers, I’m sure, but there have to be some people willing to review who meet those requirements.
It’s always a risk saying things like this, but maybe, maybe things are finally looking up.
– BHS
  • Tasakeru Book I: Without a Name: PUBLISHED (tinyurl.com/tasakerubook1)
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 6 Patrons (patreon.com/tasakeru)
  • Twitch Follower Count: 60 followers
  • Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, Chapter 45: 6 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Short Episode 6: ~10% complete, waiting on shipment

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BHS Belated Blogress Report: 2019, Week 31 – I’m Trying

Week 31 – I’m Trying

I wanted to make some progress in time for this week’s Report, which was part of why I delayed it. But now it’s 9:30 at night and that’s just not happening. Dammit.
I’m trying, honestly I am, but the truth is that the state of my mental health at the moment is not good. Even when shit isn’t hitting the fan, it’s a struggle to even feel “just okay”. It’s like my negative thoughts are a tide… the little things I do to make myself happy make it draw back for a while, but sooner or later another wave comes in and washes over everything else. Maybe if Tasakeru were selling, like at all, I’d have enough confidence in myself to get some writing done, but again, that’s not happening. I can’t just get back on the horse when the project I’ve put my soul into for twenty years is barely averaging one copy a week.
My next attempt to get my spark back is going to a local comic con this coming weekend. Other than that, I don’t know what to do.
– BHS
  • Tasakeru Book I: Without a Name: PUBLISHED (tinyurl.com/tasakerubook1)
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 6 Patrons (patreon.com/tasakeru)
  • Twitch Follower Count: 60 followers
  • Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, Chapter 45: 3.25 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Short Episode 6: ~10% complete

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 30 – On Being Powerless

Week 30 – On Being Powerless

I seem to have adopted “Don’t think about it” as a survival mantra of sorts. Political horror stories? “Don’t think about it.” The very real possibility of climate change-induced disasters? “Don’t think about it.” My own uncertain future? “Don’t think about it.”
Whether this is a healthy coping mechanism or not, I’ll leave that for you to decide. At this point, though, there’s little choice but to accept how little control I have over most aspects of my life. My financial stability, my health, even my ability to function is subject to change for the worse at a moment’s notice. And realistically, there’s very few things I can do to improve my situation: there’s no one who would hire someone my age and all the baggage that comes with me when there’s millions of able-bodied people younger and far more talented than I am who are waiting in the wings. I could start exercising to get a little healthier… except I’ve tried to do that before many times. It’s never worked; due to my various medical conditions, I get exhausted doing what most people would consider a mild workout. I don’t like being exhausted, or being sweaty. Usually when I make an attempt, I give it up within a couple weeks. My mental health? It’s a toss-up. Whether I feel content and almost normal or like I want to die can shift back and forth in hours if not minutes, and there’s no predicting when a shift is going to happen or what will set it off.
In short, I’m powerless. The only area I have some measure of control over is my internet life, and even that’s tenuous, given that my computer’s aging and it’s only a matter of time before I’ll need a new one. There’s more to worry and stress about than ever, and there seem to be fewer and fewer viable solutions. So rather than try and fail to exert control, I tell myself “Don’t think about it.” I try to let things happen as they happen, and push the rest aside. This, too, shall pass.
– BHS

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BHS Belated Blogress Report: 2019, Week 29 – Summer 2019 Anime

Week 29 – Summer 2019 Anime
Not much else is happening this week, so here’s some recommendations for this season’s new anime.
Granbelm – Part fantasy, part mecha show, part magical girl, part battle royale… and unless I’ve completely misread the subtext, part yuri. (CALM DOWN, NEKO!) Ordinary teenager Mangetsu Kohinata accidentally discovers a hidden world where girls fight each other in mystical robots called ARMANOX, all for the chance to become the world’s strongest mage and control the gigantic castle Granbelm, which seals away all the world’s magic. It’s got stylish action sequences and some pretty kickass art design… I adore how the girls control their mecha with what look like puppet strings. It looks as if this may be able to help me get my magical girl fix while I’m waiting for the Magia Record anime.
Astra Lost in Space (Kanata no Astra) – In the year 2063, space travel is easy and accessible enough to become commonplace. A class of high-schoolers plus one grade school student are to take a five-day camping trip to the distant planet McPa… but no sooner do they arrive than a mysterious spherical distortion teleports them into the vacuum of space, thousands of light years from home. Their only means of survival is an old and deserted but functional space ship that orbits an unfamiliar planet. With no other way home and no rescue forthcoming, the kids must all work together, repair the ship, forage for fuel and supplies, and set out on a journey back to Earth. Now, I don’t talk about it often, but I love sci-fi that’s at least partially grounded in reality. I saw Astra compared to Bodacious Space Pirates, another favorite of mine, and that was all I needed to pick it up. Astra has the best story hook of any anime I’ve yet seen this year, and the gorgeous visuals and colorful cast don’t hurt it either. I can’t wait to see how this one develops.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season (Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo) – SEX. Simultaneously the most interesting and most terrifying thing in a teenager’s life. For the girls of a certain high school literature club, sex is many different things: one is flustered over her complicated feelings for a longtime childhood friend, one dismisses the teenage fixation on sex as debauchery and swears to not have anything to do with it, one goes into adult chatrooms for “research”, and one bluntly states her intention to experience “full penetration” at least once before she dies. We get a lot of sex comedy anime, but this is not your usual sex comedy: it’s a frank and hilariously honest look at a group of teenage girls trying to figure out the mysteries of sexuality. And I do mean “hilariously honest”… no punches are pulled here, and there’s none of the usual coy dancing around the subject. It’s refreshing, honestly. Maidens has earned its spot on my watch list with the funniest pilot episode I’ve seen since Kaguya-sama: Love is War earlier this year, particularly with its gloriously awkward final setpiece. If you aren’t squeamish about the subject matter, absolutely check this one out.
Symphogear XV – Naturally. It’s the fifth (and final?) season of the Gurren Lagann of magical girl shows, and that’s not a comparison I make lightly. As before, Hibiki Tachibana and her fellow Wielders battle supernatural threats with suits of high-tech armor powered by song… specifically, kickass rock in a variety of genres. If you haven’t seen the previous seasons of Symphogear, this is not the place to start; fortunately, Crunchyroll now has seasons 1 – 4 subbed in their entirety. For those of you who have seen it, you know what to expect: great music, tons of explosions, ridiculous story escalation, and jaw-dropping, over-the-top fight scenes. Every season of Symphogear ups the ante on the last one, and after the crazy shit that went down in AXZ last season… frankly, I can’t wait to see how wild they go with this one.
That’s about it so far. I’m hearing good things about Fire Force, so I may check that one out, but these four are the ones on my must-watch list for now.
I’m gonna try to work on Shattered Skies and Silent InvenTOYry for the rest of the week. Hopefully I’ll make some progress.
– BHS

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