News and Updates

“Times they are a changin'”

This little blog of mine just had a facelift. Why? Basically, I started this little project as a way to relieve stress, to express myself, to get the writing bug out. Well, it kinda didn’t do what it needed to do, so I left it to the wolves. Not like it really mattered.

Well, I’m trying to push myself again, sketch, draw, write, that kind of thing.

So! There won’t be a regular posting schedule, unfortunately, but there will be more fanciful writing! More arty things! Comics (kinda)!

Just…me and then some.

Keep scrolling to see the most recent post.

News and Updates

I have a story on Inkitt that’s running in a contest.

Handout

There’s only one thing he ever wanted, and, if things are as they seem, he might just get it.

Read it for fun, vote on it if you’re a member of Inkitt, wait for more fiction from me, in general. Whooo!

Adventures, Movies/TV, Otaku

An Anime Convention

“I don’t know, I start law school next semester, so I’m going to have to adjust my con season,” says Toph to Katara, adjusting her headband. “Probably only going to do the summer cons.” I glance across the big round table at them. Law school, eh? Probably twenty-two, twenty-three. They look it, so that’s probably right. Not too much younger than me, but at vastly different points in life, most likely. A gaggle of wide-eyed, grinning teenagers emerges from the dealer’s room, plastic bags filled with Pocky and Ramune, a handful of wall scrolls clutched between them. They’re in Legend of Zelda shirts and Pokemon gijinka closet-cosplay. Behind them are some Homestuckers hurrying off to the inevitable meetup downstairs near artists’ alley.

I twitch the ends of my long green wig out of the way to access the backpack on the floor without getting it caught on something. I pull out my phone and hold it a little bit away from my face to be able to see it clearly without my glasses on.

“Oh, man, we better go get in the line, babe.”

Husband breaks away from his puzzle game to look at me. It takes him a moment to realize what I said, but then he nods. He gets to his feet before me. It takes me an extra moment to maneuver myself around with so many swords on my belt. He stays a couple of paces ahead of me, and I follow the Gurren Lagann symbol I bleached into the black t-shirt only a few days before. If I made him a cosplay, he would wear it gladly, but it’s difficult to find something that works for him. With gray around the temples and facial hair that would make Blackbeard blush with timidity, he is no slender bishounen. Were he blond, he’d make an excellent Hohenheim of Light. If we sacrificed the beard, I’d jump at the chance to be the Mugen to his Jin. Even bespectacled I could make him an Orochimaru, a Naraku, or a Katsura Kotarou. With a foot of ponytail gone, as well, the possibilities would expand almost endless. So many stern megane san’s to choose from, pushing their collective glasses up their noses with disdain. It would be delightful. Those are a lot of “if’s” though, so my plans are generally stymied. I’ll need to start either getting more creative or not caring so much about the physical details.

The autograph line is already long when we get there. I estimated poorly, but it’s alright. There will be plenty of time for us. I pull the sleeves out of the Blu Ray cases of some shoujo anime that, though silly, mean a lot to me. One of them’s a huge fan favorite that I’ve already had signed once by the main character’s voice actor. I quickly scan the line ahead of me to see what other people have brought with them. Free! Eternal Summer, One Piece, Michiko and Hatchin, Princess Jellyfish, Black Butler, Gansta, Show By Rock! They’re all wildly different genres and stories, but the actors we’re all here to see have been a part of each of them in different measures.

I practice what I’m going to say to quietly to myself a few times. These people, in particular, aren’t all that much older than me. Most of my friends are their age. One of them’s younger than Husband by a year, I think. I feel like a kid though. These people helped create my favorite shows. They’ve given life to characters that mean more to me than some real life people I know. Later, we’re going to see some artists that have done the very same thing. Three whole floors of people and things that have played a part in the backdrop of my life since middle school. The energy is profuse and bubbling.

The stairs that take me up the platform are looming closer. In mere minutes, I’ll get to meet them. One of the staff moderating the line is playing “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” on her portable speakers. Three more people and we’ll be next. Two more. One more. Any second. The steps creak a little as I ascend them. Then it’s like a flash.

“How are you?” “Enjoying the con?” “Cute cosplay!” “I’ll sign this here.” “Yes, I’m having a great time today.” “Can I get a picture?” “Oh gosh, give me a hug!”

And I’m at the bottom of the stairs. The feeling of elation lingers. This won’t be the last time we see them. There’re panels later to attend where I’ll get to ask about reference lines and type casting, and I’ll say something dumb without thinking. I look back. The boy behind us dressed as Space Dandy is smiling widely, excited to meet his cosplay’s actor. I know the feeling. I’ll get to, as well, in a matter of weeks if I’m lucky.

We have a panel to go sit in line for, so we hurry off. I scan the halls as I go, nodding to people cosplaying from the same show as me. There are so many different characters represented, though. Some I’ve never seen, some that I hold equally close to my heart, some that I have to struggle to recognize. There are boys and girls, men and women, different ages, different races. There are families, couples, singles, and groups of friends. Enthusiastic parents who’ve dressed up their kids and push them along in strollers. Overly normal parents being dragged about by their cosplaying teenagers, faltering and floundering with good humor at the strange sights they are being forced to endure.

We’ve come from all over. We’ve sewn and glued, labored over screenshots. We’ve marathoned entire shows in a matter of days. We’ve prepped and purchased and done so much waiting: for premieres and torrents and updates and in twisting lines of fellow fans. We’ve written and drawn, expanded the canon of our favorite franchises after the story’s ended just because we couldn’t let it go.

And here we are all under one roof enjoying the fruits of our obsession, indulging in our pop culture addiction.

Despite everything else, that’s one thing we share.

We’re fans, and, for right now, that’s all that matters in the world.

News and Updates

Latolan

When the gates first opened on Latolan some eight hundred years ago, the only thing the first explorers found were the drunken ruins of a civilization at least a thousand years dead. Since then, The District has taken advantage of the relative neutrality to make the world the home of its headquarters and most of its government funded projects. The only major settlement is Tomar, a single, 80 mile wide city-state containing a number of prestigious universities and private schools, The Grand Tomar Library, and the main hall of several technical and magical guilds. The kaleidoscopic native population is joined by the seasonal residents of Starlight Vale, off-world wealth and nobility with the disposable income and inclination to keep a second estate in the lush hills and meadow lands set aside on one edge of the city proper just for that purpose.

Apart from a smattering of tiny outposts and individual homesteads peppered haphazardly across the Backroads–so named for the impression of ancient roads and ruins that must have at one point criss-crossed a mighty nation–much of Latolan remains unmapped and unsettled. This is not for lack of trying, but voyages into virgin territory return more bodies than answers.

What is this, you might ask? This is the announcement of a little something called Latolan, a new fantasy pseudo-serial I’ve had brewing for some time, now. It’s free fantasy flash fiction that takes five minutes to read. The first story is up. A new story will be up next week then expect a new one every three to four weeks.

Click the links above and follow the serial as it starts to unfold.

If you’re a member of Figment, follow me as an author for these stories and others.

Movies/TV, Uncategorized

Ashe’s Valentine’s Day Horror/Sci-fi Movie Marathon Mini-Review!

We started a tradition years ago of watching horror movies on Valentine’s Day. Since Valentine’s Day was a saturday, we decided to have a mini-marathon, eat too much popcorn, and drink amaretto all day. This is what we watched.

Pontypool

This was a great movie to start our marathon on.

Set on Valentines’ Day, a virus that travels via the human language besets a small Canadian town. Shock jock Grant Mazzy and his producer Sidney Blair are stuck in their radio station, listening to the events via phone and police radio as they unfold in the world around them.

Overall, just hearing these events break down is more terrifying than seeing them. There’s very little visual gore, so the few scenes in which that’s a feature are more shocking in comparison. The tiny cast and the single location make it a story not about horror, but about people and understanding and language and how we interact with one another. A great movie if you like the slow build up like I do.

Snowpiercer

Eh, it was okay. The problem was that I went in with higher expectations than I should have because I had heard really good things about it.

After dumping chemicals into the upper atmosphere to stave off global warming, the world freezes over. Only the people who managed to board this one particular intercontinental, class-divided train survive. Curtis (played by Chris “Captain America”  Evans) is a member of the lowest class in the back of the train and leads a rebellion, aiming to take the front of the train over. It goes as expected of this sort of film. There’s fighting and bloodshed and a grand scheme is revealed and we find out about the protagonist’s hidden ghosts yada yada yada. Pretty predictable and not subtle.

Ostensibly it’s a Korean film having a Korean director and a very Korean production staff. So it’s got the tone of a Korean sci-fi film (which is a very distinct thing that’s impossible to properly quantify), with American Hollywood actors. It’s peculiar, and normally I’d be into it. This time around, though, I was less than impressed.

The ABC’s of Death

I’ve been wanting to sit down and watch this for awhile, and I’m glad I finally did.

Twenty-six letters were assigned to twenty-six horror directors, and, with full creative control, they each created a short about death. Most of them are pretty good, a handful are spectacular, and a few are…just…too weird for words.

What was interesting was how different directors handled their horror. There was the gory, the comedic, the abstract, and the psychological. Some of the pieces were straight forward and blunt, some were more creeping and subtle, but they all had a definitive voice.

Dogma

After two mediocre showings, we decided to end with a movie we knew we both liked and re-watched Dogma. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are angels that were kicked out of heaven. They decided to take advantage of a loophole in Catholic dogmatic doctrine that allows them to re-enter heaven, thereby dissolving all of existence. Jesus Christ’s great great great great great (etc) grandniece teams up with Jay and Silent Bob to stop them. Chris Rock is the thirteenth apostle left out of the Bible because he’s black. Salma Hayek is a muse. Alan Rickman is the voice of God. Alanis Morissette is God. George Carlin is a priest. Good times had by all.

Video Games

My 10 Favorite Video Game Romances

It’s Valentine’s Day and you know what’s as good (sometimes better) as real romance? Fictional romance. And my favorite fictional romances are from video games. There’s an intense emotional investment when you’re controlling one of the members of a romance. You become them,so the romance become yours. Below are my favorites. They may not be the best, or the most realistic, but they’re the ones that I felt deep down and instigated a permanent change in me in some way, shape, or form.

spoiler warning

1. Dragon Age: Origins
Typically, when people talk about the Dragon Age romances, they smoosh them all together and reference them as one. Not all Bioware romances are made the same, however…
Warden (player character) and Alistair

AlistairThere are four possible romances in Dragon Age: Origins, and they’re all fantastic in their own way. Alistair’s though, has this little extra something to it that the others lack. Part of it is the way you can totally tank your whole relationship with him by getting one little line out of order, after which he becomes a big whiny crybaby (and how realistic is that, amirite?). Another is the way the repercussions of your relationship play out through the other two games. Yes, you can see hints of the other romances, as well, but none so detailed as Alistair’s. As for the romance itself, Alistair’s the epitome of inexperience, a virgin who grew up in a semi-religious order that favored conformity and vigilance. A noble cast out of his own home, denied a throne that rightfully belongs to him that he doesn’t actually want. And then he falls in love with you, and it can either lead him to his ultimate destiny, or it can destroy him. In the end, he might even die for you, an action far removed from the flippant, sarcastic, disenfranchised youth you meet in the beginning.

2. Dragon Age II
Hawke (player character) and Fenris

fenris_smile3Again, the Dragon Age series has awesome romances, and this is, I think, the best one from this installment. Fenris is an escaped elven slave that’s had magical tattoos forced upon him that enable him to phase through human flesh briefly. They hurt, constantly and his whole life is an obsession with making the proper parties pay for what they have done to him. To build a relationship with him, you have to break through his walls, first. A physical altercation acts as a catalyst to turn the friendship into something more. And then, after one passionate night, it all stops. Because when you’re together, when you touch him, he gets strong flashes of his life before the pain of the tattoos shattered his memories, and it tortures him. He can’t bear it, and leaves you naked on the bed. Then three years pass. You’ve maintained your friendship,but you’ve never discussed your one night together. It’s been burning under the surface all this time, ripping at the both of you. When a final confrontation with old slave master allows him his revenge, however, he finally feels free and sees that your love had a part in that. That vengeance is bitter and love is sweet. That you can be the new centerpoint of his universe. In your final scene, “Nothing will keep me from you,” he says.

Then, in the third game, the whole thing is thrown away in with a single line.
“Fenris would have killed himself to protect me. I didn’t want to give him that chance.”

3 &4. Dragon Age: Inquisition
More from Dragon Age, but this is the last, I swear. Of the six possible amazing romances available to you, it’s Iron Bull and Dorian that take the cake.
Inquisitor (player character) and Iron Bull
Ironbull_profileIn all, Iron Bull is simply one hell of a character. He’s at once sincere and lighthearted, polite yet brusque. And you have soooo much sex, a departure from the typically more fluffy rendezvous presented in the rest of the series. There’s implicit BDSM and explicit consent, which is doubly fantastic coming from this giant, mercenary, bull-man. Depending on how you play the dialog, you can keep it casual or make it heavy, but the whole relationship is very loving and full of trust and compassion as well as containing the funniest cut scene in the whole game.
Inquisitor (player character) and Dorian
tumblr_neiy9qN6Kv1ryr3o1o3_1280Dorian is one of the first gay romanceable characters in the series (Sera is the other), and this fact plays an immensely important role in his romance and friendship with the Inquisitor. Coming from his family background, Dorian has a role he’s supposed to play, and preferring the company of men gets in the way of that. His father goes so far as to use taboo magic to try to change him. These facts are permanent parts of him and paint his relationship with you with shades of reticence and caution. Trysts like yours are held in his homeland only in secret and in shame. To openly love you and be loved in return is something he doesn’t know how to enjoy, but he wants to desperately. In the end, even though there’s still so much world to save, you know that’s he’s found that ability in you.

5. Mass Effect Series
Commander Shepard (player character) and Garrus
ME3_Garrus_NormandyBecause you’re playing the same character through the whole trilogy, Bioware was able to bring a few romances through all three games in more substantial way than they did with Dragon Age.
Garrus Vakarian is one of two romances (the other is Tali) that travels through all three games*. Though you can’t actually romance him in the first game (due to design limitations, as I understand it), he’s a very involved party member that you can get to know extrmemly well. The clever side effect of this, story wise, is that Garrus is a dear friend before you even start to make romantic machinations on him. He’s not just this dude that you start hitting on immediately; he’s a comrade with whom you’ve shared immense peril and seen things beyond imagining. Your relationship with him is adult and unhesitating (if maybe a little awkward in the beginning), a romance built on a solid foundation of friendship and camaraderie. He calls himself your boyfriend, and had things gone differently at the zero hour, it’s not a stretch to think that you could have built a real life together once the galaxy was done being saved.

*I’m not counting Kaiden, Ashley, or Liara because they’re pretty much a passing cameo in 2.

6. Dramatical Murder
Aoba and Koujaku
Koujaku_Aoba_2Out of Bioware RPG’s and into a Japanese visual novel that’s really just a vehicle for a romance story at its core. I like the Aoba/Koujaku storyline so much though, that I can’t ignore it. Koujaku is one of 6 (ish, VN’s are weird) possible romance options for our protagonist Aoba, and he’s the childhood friend. It’s something of a cliché role for these sorts of things, but I very much like the way it played out. For much of the game, there isn’t a real romance brewing between the characters, just the traces of a close friendship. Koujaku had also disappeared for a number of years previous to the story starting, so you get the notion that both parties are still trying to adjust to new parameters in their relationship. When they find themselves hip deep in danger at the halfway mark, however, the truth of Koujaku’s time away starts to reveal itself. He’s been filled with rage and turmoil, and he’s not the man that Aoba knew once upon a time. But, at the same time, he is. In the end, he uses the raw rage that’s built up inside to save Aoba’s life, and Aoba uses his special brand of psionic trickery to save Koujaku’s heart and mind. In the process, they both come to understand each other and begin to help one another heal.
Then they admit they like each other and engage in one of the most adorable romantic scenes I’ve ever seen. Koujaku gets so excited he gets a nosebleed. Freaking dorks.

7. Braid
Tim and The Princess
BraidEndTim, through a series of platforming and time manipulation puzzles, must save the princess from a monster. A princess in peril because of his mistake. A princess that he may never be able to retrieve, because, in the end, Hero and Monster might not be so cut and dry.
The designer himself gives the best explanation of how this relationship plays out.

8. Catherine
Vincent and Catherine/Katherine
Catherine_FeaturedImage_vf1Vincent and Katherine have been together a decade, but their relationship has gone nowhere. They’re at a breaking point. This might either be the beginning or the end. Enter Catherine, and he begins an affair that he’s only barely grasping. And with Catherine comes nightmares, nightmares that may kill him. As the days progress, Vincent is faced with a choice: truth or lies, stability or passion, life or death, Katherine or Catherine. And there is no right answer.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Link and Zelda
SkywardSwordScreen6First Zelda/Link is best Zelda/Link and this variation of the famous couple is the start of it all in the chronology of the Zelda universe. This is the only game in the series (if I recall, correctly) in which Link and Zelda actually have a relationship that reaches back before the start of the game. They’re friends, and they care deeply about each other even if that affection never turned to deep love. But she must sacrifice herself for not just their futures, but the world’s future, so they never get to have their fairytale romance ending. The way their relationship is portrayed, though, does more for the entire Zelda canon than the individual game. In this prequel, the patterns are set for every other entry in the story. Every iteration of Link and Zelda will always find each other, through space and time and the universe unending. All because of these two.

10. Saint’s Row IV
Kinzie and The President
There aren’t words to completely describe the poignant and touching nature of this relationship. So, instead, here is captured footage from my actual playthrough, because their words for each other are better than mine could ever be.