BHS Blogress Special Report: You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

Puella Magi Madoka Magica first aired ten years ago today. Of all the many works of media I’ve seen, read, listened to, or experienced in the last decade, only Steven Universe has had the same kind of massive impact and influence as Madoka Magica has on my life, and on who I am as a person.

I didn’t think much of it at first. I saw fan art flying around, but you always see that happening with whatever the hit anime of the season is. I was interested because it was magical girls, but I heard it was really dark, and I was afraid it would be some tasteless bloodbath gorefest. It was only when I heard that my beloved Emiri Katou, my favorite voice actress and voice of my girl Kagami Hiiragi from Lucky Star, was in the cast that I started to take notice. My interest picked up further when I heard that Yuki Kajiura, who had written two of my favorite anime soundtracks ever, was the composer… I love Kajiura’s music so much that I count her soundtrack for Noir as one of my favorite OSTs ever, despite the fact that I’ve only seen one episode of the anime. Both Katou and Kajiura… I decided it was at least work checking out.

I went in with tempered expectations at best. I distinctly remember my first impression of Homura being “Oh, great. It’s the show’s obligatory Rei Ayanami / Yuki Nagato clone. She’s going to be tiresome.” An early guess of mine as to the twist was, “It’s some kind of sadistic game they’re being set up to play, I bet. Like magical Hunger Games.”

And then episode 3 happened.

Within 48 hours of starting the series, it was one of my all-time favorites. When I finished episode 10, the latest at the time, I sat shivering in my chair, stunned, with tears in my eyes. I had that same feeling that I had when I finished Princess Mononoke for the first time: the absolute certainty that I’d just seen something that would change my life. My entire world felt upended. This wasn’t just my new favorite anime… it was something powerful and meaningful that spoke to my soul. An exquisite, devastating, almost perfect tragedy… but one with enough of a chance that it might turn out okay that I couldn’t despair. I couldn’t. There was still a chance. That’s a delicate balance to pull off, one that most dark series fail.

For the next month, my love for the series grew as I waited for the final two episodes. The Great Tohoku Earthquake had just happened a week or so before, and the last two had been delayed due to the sensitivity of the apocalyptic imagery. Understandable, I thought. I saw rampant speculation leading up to it: how painful would the finale be? Would they kill everyone off? Would the real-life circumstances force SHAFT to change it? Would it air at all?

And then, on Good Friday 2011, appropriately enough… the ending, at last. With that, Madoka Magica ascended in my mind from “excellent” and “mind-blowing” to “masterpiece”. I wept, as I do every time I watch the final episode. Endings are always hard to pull off, anime endings especially so, and hyped-up endings nearly impossible… and Madoka’s was perfect. Glorious. Victorious. Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure. A triumph of hope from the depths of despair… and for someone who knew those depths, who felt trapped in them at that point in my life, seeing people who should have been lost overcome their pain and rise up stronger in the end… it meant more to me than I can express.

There’s more that I love about Madoka than I could say if you gave me a thousand pages: the masterful execution of its twist in episode 3. The intricacy of the plot. The depth of the characters. The gorgeous art design, which incorporates multiple mediums in order to portray a feeling of wrongness. The majesty of the soundtrack, Kajiura’s finest work of her career.

But the primary reason I treasure it, and will treasure it forever, is because of how close to my heart the story hits. As I’ve said, I’ve been in the depths of despair. I’ve been lost in the abyss, feeling like I’m worthless to the world and would be better off dead. I know all too well the feeling that the sun will never shine on me again. Madoka understands that feeling, the raw emotional agony of it. And likewise, I know the feeling of meeting someone for whom simple love or friendship seems too prosaic a word… someone who pulls you out of that darkness you didn’t know you were in and shows you light you never knew existed. I know the anguish of seeing people like that suffer, the all-consuming need to do whatever you have to do, go to whatever lengths you need to go, to save them like they saved you. Yeah, I know those feelings. That’s why Homura’s story speaks to my soul.

When Madoka Magica first aired, it was at a time when I needed both hope and emotional release, and it brought both. It’s continued to do so for ten years now. I’ve used the great words from the final scene on any number of occasions, during some of my darkest hours. The idea that someone would love the world so much that she’d make kind of the sacrifice Madoka did… I’ve never been a particularly religious person despite being raised in a Christian household, but after seeing that finale, I told people that I finally got it. I finally understood the idea of a loving and omnipresent God. A higher being always watching over you, no matter where you are or how far you go, with a love that’s absolute and all-encompassing… If people can find comfort in that idea, well, I can get behind that even if I might not believe the same way as they do. Yeah, there’s obvious Biblical symbolism there, but the series earns it in a way that very, very few pieces of media can ever do.

That’s what it comes down to, for me. That’s what makes Madoka different from all the clones that it inspired: it’s not about the darkness, it’s about the light at the end. It’s about hope overcoming despair, and love overcoming loss. I can’t think of many things more inspiring than that.

Of course, Madoka has had a phenomenal influence on my creative work as well. It was in September of 2011 that I started Stars Above, working off an intial frenzy of creative inspiration that still has yet to really peter out all these years later. I put three years of my life into that story, into writing something that I hoped would affect my readers as deeply as Madoka affected me… and I’m still damned proud of the results. Without Madoka and without Stars Above, I wouldn’t have rediscovered my love for the magical girl genre, and it goes without saying that Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, my other hugely ambitious fan fiction project, wouldn’t exist without it. Without Madoka, I wouldn’t have made the dear friends that I have in this past decade… I wouldn’t be part of this community that I’ve given so much to, that’s given so much to me in return. It’s no exaggeration at all to say that Madoka Magica changed my life for the better. I can think of no higher praise than that.

Times have been dark, and the world seems to have grown crueler. But when I’m lost, I try to think of those words…

Don’t forget.

Always, somewhere,

someone is fighting for you.

As long as you remember her,

you are not alone.

-BHS

 

Aside

BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 52 – Wasn’t All Bad

Week 52 – Wasn’t All Bad

So we’re finally here. In six hours (my time, as of when I started this), I’ll have survived 2020. There were a lot of times when I honestly didn’t think I’d make it.

Make no mistake, it was a trainwreck and a half of a year… but as a therapeutic exercise for myself, I thought I’d go month by month and write out good things that happened. I try to find and believe in the good in people and things even when most everything is terrible, so time to put that philosophy to work.

January: In January, I rediscovered my love of Star Trek with the premiere of Star Trek: Picard. Trek was one of my first fandoms, and it’s been a major part of my life since I was five years old and watching The Next Generation with my dad. Seeing Patrick Stewart reprise his iconic role felt like a part of me was coming home… and seeing Troi and my personal Eternal Symbol of Cool Riker appear again and slip perfectly back into their roles was sheer joy. Picard inspired me to finally watch season 2 of Discovery while I was waiting for new episodes, and there I found a show transformed. While Discovery season 1 had its moments and I’ll defend its creative choices, it was in 2 that I finally saw the Trek series that it could be. It spread its wings: the actors began to find the centers of their characters, the tone balanced itself out, the action was balanced with ethical quandaries, the science was better, and the humor came back with a vengeance. Anson Mount as Captain Pike was phenomenal, embodying the character’s legendary nature and showing why the captain before Kirk was spoken of so reverently. Mount is fully deserving of the Strange New Worlds spin-off that he was announced to be starring in earlier this year alongside Number One and the new Spock, Ethan Peck… and oh, that scene where he stepped onto the bridge. The bridge, modernized but still recreated with loving detail by set designers who knew exactly what they were doing. And then in the season finale, Discovery made a daring decision to upend the status quo in a way that’s never been attempted in Trek before…

… which made me genuinely ecstatic for season 3, which is finishing up next week. I can’t speak for anyone else, since I try to avoid fandom discourse… but I’ve loved this season even more than season 2. They’re reminding people of what Star Trek is all about. They’re introducing bold new ideas and jaw-dropping new tech. They’re blessing us with two new supporting characters who make perfect additions to the cast… and one of them is beautiful and funny and amazing and just that they’re there means so much to me and others watching. They’re continuing to demonstrate the reasons why I adore Ensign Sylvia Tilly, the character I’ve felt attached to since her first scene, and giving her the character development of my dreams. I’m sorry for speaking so vaguely here, but this season has enthralled me so much that I don’t want to spoil any of the wonderful things they’re doing to anyone who might be waiting to check it out… including several of my readers, I hope. Despite what trolls and haters and nay-sayers might say, Discovery Season 3 is pure Star Trek, with moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

February: In February, I had the privilege to meet and shake hands with an icon of my childhood: Jason David Frank, better known as Tommy Oliver, the Green (and White!) Ranger from the original Power Rangers. The first episode of MMPR premiered on my ninth birthday, and it sparked a love of Japanese culture that continues unabated to this day… getting a chance, however brief, to meet the man I grew up with, the face of the franchise, was utterly fantastic. Nine-year-old me would have exploded if he knew that one day I would get to stand next to Tommy and do the famous morphing pose, just like he fantasized about back then. It’s another item off my bucket list.

March: I discovered Better Call Saul last year after I finished my Breaking Bad binge, but this year was the first time I got to experience a season as it aired… and what a season. The cast and crew proved once again why BCS is one of the best series on television, an almost Shakespearean tragedy about a man whose life beats him down relentlessly whenever he tries to do good… so he responds to that by gradually abandoning the urge to do good and thereby ruining himself. But the star this season wasn’t Saul/Jimmy, though of course Bob Odenkirk’s performance was excellent as ever. No, the star this season was Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, who deserved every acting award there is. She underwent a transformation that none of us were expecting, and she did it right under our noses, with such sublime subtlety that none of us noticed it was happening until it was too late. The end results hit me and everybody else watching like a goddamned semi truck, just as shattered and shocked as poor Jimmy was in his final scene. The television landscape will lose some of its greatest characters when they finally finish for good next season… but oh, what a journey it’s been.

April: “Dishearteningly.” Explaining it here would take way too long and I already used way too many lines on January alone. In a nutshell, I consider myself quite the comedian when the mood strikes me… not all my jokes land or are appreciated, but I try. That single word, “dishearteningly”, formed the basis of what I consider the most successful joke I told all year, one that prompted a hysterical fit of laughter from the primary recipient, and one which I’m still proud of and amazed by eight months later.

May: Real-Time Fandub. I’d heard of it, and of their infamous Sonic Adventure 2 dub with its Eggman rant that took the internet by storm, but I never watched it until May. I’m so, so glad I did. The concept is brilliant: a bunch of small-time YouTube voice actors, all friends with each other, redub the cutscenes of a game with no script and all in one take, trying to crack each other up whenever possible. Their improv skills are phenomenal, and their stuff gave me belly-laughs that I sorely needed this year. I eagerly await their future projects.

June: Crunchyroll licensed Precure for simulcasting. I thought it would never happen, despite all the fanbase’s begging, but when Healin’ Good came back from its COVID-induced hiatus… it came back with a way for us Americans to watch it legally, with subtitles, uncut. The response from the Precure fandom was meteoric, and as the year went on, we got KiraKira Precure A La Mode and Star Twinkle available as well, and CR has already announced that there’s more on the way, with next year’s Tropical-Rouge Precure being available from the outset. I know CR is controversial among parts of the community, I know some people say to stick with the fansubs anyway, but this is the first step to legitimizing Precure in the West. I couldn’t be more happy about it.

July: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! This one was from earlier in the year, but it was only this summer that I got around to watching it. A series that combines two of my least favorite anime genres, isekai and harem, shouldn’t have worked. However, in a year with a ton of great anime comedies, including the return of the mighty Kaguya-sama: Love is War, this one emerged in a class of its own thanks to its spectacularly dense lead character, Catarina Claes. One of the best recent examples I can think of of a character being both incredibly lovable and a complete and total idiot, Catarina deserves her mass acclaim… but it would be a disservice not to mention the seven (later eight) people of mixed genders who all vie for her affection, though she remains cheerfully oblivious. Each member of the would-be harem has their own distinct charm and personality, and each one (or more! Poly is good!) would make for a genuinely good match for Catarina… and yet the show is mostly free of the meanspirited backstabbing that characterizes the harems in most other series. It’s fun, it’s compelling, and it’s riotously funny. I look forward to the second season.

August: My Hot Fuzz rewatch. Most of the good parts of August were introducing my friend Ninty to some of my favorite comedies… but when I found out he had never seen Hot Fuzz, I resolved to correct that immediately. There was nothing better than watching Hot Fuzz again with someone who had never seen it before, and it got exactly the reaction I was hoping for. Amazing.

September: Hololive. Yeah, it’s the new hotness and I’m just one of millions of nerds who got sucked in this year, so my experience is hardly unique, but. When I discovered Korone Inugami (through the memes, of course), I found someone very different from the rigidly scripted and relentlessly micromanaged virtual idol I was expecting. Korone and her kin have personality… real, genuine personality that’s near-impossible to fake. Part of the reason the Hololive talents are so easy to get into is because while they’re absolutely playing fictional characters, they’re allowed to have the real people behind those characters shine through their avatars. Watch any given compilation of Korone (or Gura, or Amelia, or Coco, or the dozens of others) and it’s apparent that the content isn’t following a script. It’s being created there on the spot by some unbelievably talented performers… so Korone’s adorable enthusiasm for learning new English words? That’s real. Amelia’s shrieking moments of gamer rage? Those are real. Coco getting stoned off sleeping pills, live on stream? Very real. I fell down the rabbit hole, yeah, but I don’t regret it a bit.

October: Chapter 61 of The Changeling of the Guard. This one isn’t really my moment, granted, but seeing my best friend finally get to the scene in his fanfic that he had been working towards for six years, and the explosion of his fanbase afterward… it’s stuff like that that I live for. Excellent work, buddy. You earned all your praise.

November: Falling in love with the DCAU again. Since Ninty hadn’t seen but a handful of the franchise, I decided we should watch all of the major series and movies together, beginning by going back to where it all started: Batman: The Animated Series. Nearly thirty years later, its status as a masterpiece still holds up. I loved the series as I kid, and watching it again had me marveling at its beauty, its elegance, and the depth and intricacy of its writing. B:TAS wasn’t supposed to be as amazing as it was, the network was only expecting a vehicle to tie in with Batman Returns and sell action figures. Instead, they made art, and they made it out of sheer love for the story, the characters, and the mythos. You can see that love in practically every frame. We’re roughly two-thirds done with Superman: The Animated Series now, which is just as gorgeous and treats the superhero with just as much care and reverence. It reminds me of just why Superman has been and always will be my favorite superhero, and it’s not because he’s the strongest. It’s because he represents the best of humanity… he’s the ideal we all should reach for, not just powerful, but noble, kind, and selfless. That’s who I want Superman to be.

We’re going to continue on to Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited, and I can’t wait.

December: Animaniacs (2020). This one was honestly tough; I was tempted to choose the frankly incredible Digimon Adventure: for this month, because both series are reboots of shows that I adored as a kid. But the new Animaniacs, though… it had a way tougher job. Comedy is hard and times have massively changed since the classic series ended in 1998. There’s a million ways it could have or should have gone wrong. But within minutes of starting the 2020 series, I was grinning ear to ear. The new writers should be commended for emulating the classic series’ style so perfectly. I’ve been telling people that it doesn’t really feel like a reboot, it feels like the old show just took a break for an incredibly long time and now it’s back. The smart writing is there, the meta humor is there, the old-fashioned slapstick is there, the orchestrated soundtrack is there… it works. True, most of the old supporting cast hasn’t come back yet (though the writers say that may change), the art style is a bit different, and some jokes and sketches are rough around the edges, but it’s incredibly faithful to the spirit of one of the greatest cartoons of the 90s. Like I said, this should not have worked. Classic Animaniacs was a product of its time, sure, but it was also a throwback to the golden age of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies… franchises which are a lot less well-known than they were a quarter-century ago, sadly. I was worried that we’d get endless, lazy smartphone and meme jokes, or that they’d make it more conventional so kids would get it, or that they’d do away with all those cherished adult jokes they snuck past the censors which were completely inappropriate for children. None of those fears were founded. It’s as wild and crazy and fourth-wall breaking as ever, and I adore it. At least three giant belly-laughs per episode on average, you can quote me on that.

So yeah. For all the pain and heartbreak and suffering, there were good things in every month of this year. There is light, even in the deepest darkness… and this year’s darkness is almost over. May we all have a far more peaceful and enjoyable new year.

-BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 48 – Jane

Week 48 – Jane

My grandmother passed away on Monday, due to complications from COVID-19.

My Grandma, Jane Hamilton, was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. “She’s tough as hell,” is the first thing I said to my mom when she was diagnosed positive two weeks ago. Grandma never let anyone boss her around and never held back what she thought. If she was pissed off at you, you knew it. As someone who got on her nerves more than once, I can confidently say that having Grandma pissed at you was a very scary thing.

But Grandma was also sweet and caring, and always happy to see or talk to me. I could go on for hours about anime, video games, cartoons, or whatever, and even if she didn’t exactly understand what I was talking about, she’d always listen and engage me about it. About fifteen years ago, I sent her a mix CD of anime songs, and she loved the “peppy music” so much that I ended up making and sending her about half a dozen more over the years. Not too many people’s grandmothers would willingly listen to Orange Range, but she was special like that.

If you need to know how strong and how feisty she was: at 95 years old, she never went to a nursing home. Hell, she wouldn’t even let us move her into an assisted living facility until about three years ago, she flat out refused. She watched Jeopardy! almost every night, right up to the end. Well into her 80s, she was out in her beloved gardens, planting flowers and filling her birdfeeders. She went out exactly the way she wanted to go: peacefully, in her sleep. She never diminished, never declined, never became anything less than herself. She was my Grandma to the last… and in a way, it’s almost typical that not even COVID could do her in, not really. A heart of gold and a steel will, that was Jane Hamilton.

I have so many memories of her, seemingly staying just the same over the years. I remember how she would pitch fits whenever someone tried to take her picture at family reunions, and when she’d finally give in she’d always end up giving the camera the same look: at first glance it was always a haughty, looking-down-the-nose, “Well, if I must” look, but there was always a smile underneath. I remember the way she would say “Now, Jackie…” to my mom in the same way every time we’d visit… to the point that I learned how to imitate her flawlessly. There was the time she came to see us and she insisted on hand-washing each and every one of the dozens of Ziploc bags my mom had kept hidden away unwashed in a drawer for who knows how long… she berated Mom for it the whole time. She was there visiting on the day years ago when we got the news that my cousin had been in a horrible car accident, and while my mom went frantic calling the rest of the family, she sat and watched Animaniacs with me, just to keep me from panicking too. I remember that day, and I never saw her lose her composure, not once. Because she was tough like that, tough as hell.

I have these and a thousand other memories I could write about, but that’s what I keep coming back to: tough as hell. Stubborn, and often ornery, but undeniably tough as hell. I’ll love her and remember her always.

Thanks for everything, Grandma. You’re amazing, always. Rest well.

-BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 47 – A Natural Desire

Week 47 – A Natural Desire

It’s honestly sort of unreal how much better I’m feeling compared to this time last month. Knowing that every day and week that passes brings me a little bit closer to the end of 45’s reign of terror sort of makes me feel like I can handle almost anything between now and then. My anxiety isn’t gone, but it’s more manageable than it’s been in years. Just two more months, and I’ll have survived it.

Anyway. Today marked the 40th anniversary of the American release of my all-time favorite bad movie, The Apple. See, I love watching and laughing at so-bad-it’s-good movies, and this one was a one often spoken of among aficionados, but rarely seen or mentioned alongside the really infamous ones… the likes of Plan 9 from Outer Space, Heaven’s Gate, or The Room. There’s no massive cult following or beloved audience participation routine for it… or if there is, I’m unaware of it. It was described as bizarrely terrible, but I only decided that I had to see it after I read Nathan Rabin’s description of it in his My World of Flops column: “The peculiar genius of The Apple is that every time it appears the film cannot get any crazier, it ratchets up the weirdness to almost indescribable levels. It belongs to the subset of movies so all-consumingly druggy and surreal that they make audiences feel baked out of their minds even when they’re sober. The Apple is both the perfect mind fuck to see while high and a movie that makes drugs seem redundant and unnecessary.”

So one fateful night in the fall of 2013, I convinced my best friend VDrake to take the plunge with me as I watched it for the first time… and even reading about it for years beforehand was not enough to prepare me for it. I was repeating “Oh my god” over and over within the first five minutes… and I kept repeating it throughout the film, in between fits of hysterical laughter. Drake and I both knew almost from the moment we finished it that we had seen something wonderfully unique and special and absolutely bonkers, and that we had to share it with more people.

And so I did. I felt it was a grave injustice that more people didn’t know about this movie, so I introduced it to as many people as I could. On April 1st, 2018, I hosting a live MSTing of it for my friends and YouTube followers, an event I christened “Apple Fools Day”. When I got my own Discord server, I decided to prank the server members by showing the movie or clips of it at unexpected times… my version of Paul Rudd’s wonderful Mac and Me gag that he’s been pulling on Conan O’Brien for nearly two decades. For most of the past year, I’ve even worked many of those clips into my Twitch streams, bound to hotkeys. Hell, one of my server rules is now “Everyone on the server must watch The Apple. No exceptions.” Every time a new person joins, there’s initial confusion as to why we all speak of The Apple in hushed tones… and every time these new people see it for themselves, they quickly understand why. We may not have the numbers of the cult followings for Rocky Horror or The Room, but we’re making progress all the same.

It’s not just The Apple’s bugfuck insanity that makes it my favorite bad movie… though that’s a big part of it. In a weird way, because it’s so obscure, it feels like my bad movie. Keeping it small and enjoying it with my friends feels more personal, more meaningful than, say, enjoying The Room with a theater full of rabid fans… though having done that, it is a ton of fun. It’s something I never get tired of introducing to new people, and something I always find hilarious no matter how many times I watch it. Every time I find something new, some interesting little tidbit or background detail or weird line read to crack up over. In this year, which has been so miserable for so many, I’m more grateful than ever for those laughs.

The Apple is a bad film, there’s no question of that. The plot is nonsense, the musical numbers are middling to awful, the costumes are cringe-inducing, the acting is laughable. It opened in the US 40 years ago today and failed spectacularly, sinking with nary trace, and is largely only remembered by weirdos like me. But it’s brought me over seven years of joy and laughter, and I’ll treasure it forever because of that. Happy anniversary, you magnificently weird trainwreck of a film. Here’s to you. Hey, hey, hey!

-BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 45 – Breathing Easier

Week 45 – Breathing Easier

We did it.

Just shy of four years ago exactly, I had one of the worst days of my life. I got low… so low that I couldn’t see any reasons to go on. I owe the fact that I’m still here to my best friend, VDrake, who pulled me from my darkness… and also to the tireless efforts of my family, my therapist, and my other dear friends.

The last five years have been an ordeal for me, for reasons both political and not. The last two in particular have seemed at times like an endless string of one disaster after another after another, with no relief in sight. And while I’m not foolish enough to fall into the trap of thinking, “Oh, everything’s instantly gonna be fixed now!”… for the first time in a long time, I’m not deathly afraid for my future, and that counts for a lot. Some of the weight has at last been lifted.

Of course it’s not going to be better right away. We still need to survive until January, for one thing. After that is going to be a long, hard rebuilding process… which will hopefully include prosecution for 45 and all who enabled his reign of terror, though I won’t hold my breath. Of course I’d rather it was Warren, or Sanders, or even Yang. Of course President Biden’s going to be flawed, probably very flawed, and he almost definitely won’t be the progressive champion that we’re hurting for. He’ll screw up, he’ll put his foot in his mouth, he may have a scandal or two or several… he may be seen as “boring” after the last quarter century and change of extraordinary political figures both famous and infamous.

But you know what? After all this time living on the edge of the abyss, all this time spent terrified that we’re days or hours away from complete collapse… I’ll take boring over sociopathic fascist cult leader any day. At long last, fingers crossed, there’s a light ahead.

As I said four years ago: we got this.

We got this.

-BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, October – Tired, Tired, Tired

October 2020: Tired, Tired, Tired

I’ve been bashing my head against it (not literally… for the most part) all month long, but Chapter 49 of Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights is finally, finally done.

https://archiveofourown.org/works/2449097/chapters/66715915

Not much to say other than that… my petsitting business picked up again, which is nice.

I’m effing wiped out right now. 2020 being 2020 has left me totally exhausted. Depending on what happens next week, I may just take the rest of the year off from doing Blogress Reports, since it’s very unlikely that anything will change for the better before January, even in the best of circumstances.

I’ll try to keep you guys posted.

-BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, Week 39 – FFS

Week 39 – FFS

For what it’s worth, I try to be good to people whenever I can. I try to see the best in people and treat them with respect. When it’s someone I know well and they’re acting badly, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and understand the reasons for their behavior. In that case, I’ll do my level best to attempt to help them and to solve the problem.

I’m not perfect, because nobody is, but I try my hardest to be decent, and I seldom hold onto grudges.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of some of the people who know me.

Normally I loathe to vagueblog or do callout posts, but in this case, I think it’s warranted.

There’s a certain person online whom I used to interact with, primarily through DA. At one point in time, this person and I were able to talk to each other in a civil manner. Then this person got into an argument with me over one particular subject, and refused to let it go. It wasn’t a life-or-death subject, either… no, this was something as simple as a difference of opinion about classifications of genre fiction. And yet our back-and-forth went on… and on… and on.

At least half a dozen times, I told them that we were going in circles, repeating the same points ad nauseam and getting nowhere, but they wouldn’t listen. I did my best to remain calm, even as they grew more and more and more heated. I told them nicely that I wasn’t interested in debating the issue anymore, but they kept bringing it up over and over, leaving multi-paragraph rants on my public pages even after I asked them to stop.

I want to make it clear that this went on for well over a year, probably close to two years, and yet I resisted the temptation to get angry with them. I feel that I exhausted every possible method of resolving the situation peacefully… and yet every month or so, this person would come back to try to stoke the fire again.

Eventually, I found out that this person had been saying things about me in various places, things that were both untrue and extremely unkind. I went to them in private and politely told them that if they didn’t stop, I would have to ban them from my page. In response, they insulted me and attempted once again to instigate the argument… and so I banned them.

This was two years ago. I’ve had no contact with them since.

Recently, three separate people, all independent of each other, have informed me that this person is still badmouthing me, and still apparently ranting to anyone who will listen about how I and others have done them wrong. Normally, I don’t think too much of what’s said about me online… I figure my audience is small enough that not many people pay enough attention to me to have beef with me. But if said beef is widespread enough that all these people are warning me about it, something’s got to be done.

My friend, you’re probably not going to read this, but: this needs to stop. Now, if not sooner. I don’t hate you, I’m not angry with you, and I don’t want revenge against you, but if what I’ve heard about what you’re saying is accurate, you’re telling lies that are doing damage to my reputation. My online presence is pretty much the only presence I have left in the world, and I haven’t built myself up from nothing over twenty years just to have people like you tear me down over a pointless argument that’s gone on too long.

If people are going to hate me, I want them to hate me for legitimate reasons: things I actually say and actually do and actually believe, not made-up bullshit. Let them judge me on truth, not secondhand vitriol.

I don’t want to do this. Believe me, I’d be happier if I could just turn the other cheek and ignore it. However, I’m convinced that I need to attempt to take control of the situation before it gets even uglier. Three-plus years is quite long enough.

-BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2020, August – Same Old Story

August – Same Old Story

I can’t help feeling as if I’ve made very little progress in my life since my last birthday. I should really give myself a little slack, since the past 22 months have been some of the most difficult of my life, but at some point I just wonder if I’m only making excuses for myself. At what point does it stop being “things are rough for you right now” and start being “you’re not really trying”?

Sigh. I dunno. Last year around this time, I started making serious efforts to think about my future and work on having a backup plan to support myself. I tried my hardest, but nothing came of it, and I can’t see those efforts as anything but failures. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life now, other than doing everything I can to get through the rest of the year.

Self-indulgence has helped. I celebrated my birthday in part by doing as much stuff just for me as I could… eating junk food, rewatching some of my favorite comedies with my friends, those sorts of things. And now that my birthday has come and gone… well, I hope to finally get back to my writing and photography projects, at least. Only time will tell how I actually do with that.

-BHS

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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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