A change of scenery

When I wasn’t playing Smash Bros., I’ve spent the last two days trying to get a jump on the last four pieces of my fall 2018 commitments. Namely the last essay for my Evolution and Creation class.

Granted, the process of buckling down and focusing has been made slightly more difficult by the constant Discord reminders that most of my friends are officially off because of different schedules… But hey, that’s what distractions and isolation are for.

Particularly distractions and isolation with regards to the headline of this blog post: Changes of scenery.

Don’t you love how masterfully I tie in these themes and draw attention to them for extra padding and lampshading?

My change of scenery for the day came early this morning when Mom asked me to come out to Lakewood with her. While Aly went to school, we brought some of her musical instruments to their usual shop for repairs and upkeep.

After that we hung around at a local Starbucks; a nice, quiet little spot to work on homework.

But also with at least a little bit of Smash Bros. because… Yeah it’s addictive.

I actually just unlocked every character for normal Smash battles and am well on my way to completing the World of Light adventure mode. It’s a blast, even if it came at a very inopportune time.

Anyway though, sitting around Starbucks was productive to an extent. Yet the most interesting part of being there was this Christmas-themed decoration:

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Look at this thing. It’s kind of gaudy and over-the-top, but also aesthetically pleasing in a way that I can understand why it was made.

The coffee cup tree is just trite and inoffensive overall, but the reason I wanted to point it out was because I found it hilarious to see such a blatantly Christ-centric symbol used as decor here when just a few years ago the world lost its shit due to red cups.

The wishy-washy nature of Internet-era overreaction is truly a sight to behold, is it not?

That being said, because my time in relative isolation these last two days has offered me the chance to get a sizable jump on this essay I previously believed was going to be a nightmare, I figured I should talk a little bit about it.

Seems like the least I can do in all fairness after shoving the fruits of my research on the Visual Comm essay down your throats too.

This essay is about Deism, the religious school of thought that considers a God having created the universe only to step back and let everything run on its own accord. It was popular during the Enlightenment especially, and caught my interest handily during my time in AP European History back during Sophomore year of high school.

As a result I decided to focus my research paper on it. Though this specifically dives into contemporary thoughts on the religion post-evolution emerging as a result of good old Chuck Darwin.

One source I discovered talking about Deism in relation to a post-evolutionary “modern setting” (being 1898) had such a fantastic little tidbit that I figured it would be worth dedicating at least half of a blog post to it.

For context: In a journal called The North American Review, an auspicious Walton W. Battershall submitted a short piece as comment to an earlier story published. His comment was about “The Efficacy of Prayer in the Light of Evolution.”

The important aspects of the writing to pull for my paper were his discussions of prayer being a placebo of sorts. Something that provides a positive benefit to the praying individual just because of the possibility that it might receive a response from God, even if it likely wouldn’t. He goes on to undress Deism for distancing God to the point of making that possibility totally unattainable, but you can read the whole thing here if you want.

The important aspects of the writing to pull for this blog post is a line I’ll leave completely out of context just for the sake of how incredible a piece of prose it is.

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Just the thought of this clearly reverent man talking about God’s pitiful, throbbing ‘Fatherhood’ is so hilariously phallic that it made my night when I found it yesterday.

So much so that I felt compelled to share it with the world. Good old 1898.

That’s about all I’ve got for you today, as I’ve got to get back to finishing that essay. Only short breaks for blog writing allowed in the Rochlin house this weekend.

Luckily, after this weekend is three days of finals followed by freedom. Boy is that freedom going to be… Smashing.

Because puns.

A data journalist’s wet dream

A data journalist’s wet dream

I’ll be honest, I absolutely wrote this blog post almost exclusively to use that pun in the title.

That’s where I peak for the day. Good night, folks.

Unfortunately I can’t just leave things there. Anyone reading this in the distant future without the context of my social media stinger would be lost.

If you are reading this way after I’m writing it, hello! My name is Jason. This is my blog. I’m here to talk about porn today.

I swear that’s not an everyday occurrence.

I wouldn’t typically bring up the subject at all unless I had a good reason to. It just so happens that this tweet sent me down a rabbit hole this morning.

Apparently Pornhub does a yearly visualization of site analytics, and the fact that I wasn’t aware of it before is a travesty. I’ve gotten very into that sort of thing recently, so alongside psychological implications of “what the world gets off on,” you’ve got something right up my alley.

I suppose 2018 is a good a time as any to find out about it, because hoo boy is there a ton of interesting stuff.

Obviously this whole subject is a bit NSFW, but I’m more interested in it from a data analysis side. However, if you’re squeamish about the topic I’ll understand if you don’t want to read on.

That said, here are some of my favorite Pornhub Insights from 2018.

… Definitely not a sentence I ever thought I would be writing.

The data that starts off the review is fascinating just from the sheer scale.

Apparently there were 92 million daily visits to the site on average, and about 115 years worth of video were uploaded this year. I know porn is a popular thing, and typically an early adopter of every form of mass media thanks to my Comm classes…

But 115 years of video just this year alone?

I’m not sure how to comprehend that much porn. Especially considering Pornhub is just one of countless porn websites.

When presented with that myriad of information, my first inclination is to ask how it filtered down. Luckily, Pornhub has a number of well-done infographics breaking things into manageable chunks. For instance:

1-pornhub-insights-2018-year-in-review-searches-that-defined-the-year

There’s a lot to say about these defining searches.

Stormy Daniels stands out in how hilarious it is that a serious presidential scandal skyrocketed this woman from being the 671 most popular pornstar in 2017 to being the most popular search result in 2018.

Fortnite, as much as I don’t particularly enjoy it, makes sense as a high result considering how popular the game is. Though in that same vein, Bowsette skyrocketing into the top ten based on that week or two she was a popular concept is astounding.

Later on they break down the highest video game-related searches, and it’s not too surprising.

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The best thing about this list is Mario being the highest male result. Shout out to that portly plumber for representing male characters.

With that said, I find the worldwide search analyses more interesting than the media-specific stuff. The fact that categories like “4K,” “Trans” and “Tinder” were among top search results says a lot about the era we live in.

It also says a lot about porn watchers that “Lesbian,” “Hentai,” “Milf,” “Step mom” and “Japanese” were the top five most searched terms this year. Especially given that the United States produced the most Pornhub traffic by more than three times its runner-up, the United Kingdom.

Easily the most interesting graphic produced in this set shows which parts of the world searched for what kinds of porn most.

maps-pornhub-insights-2018-year-review-most-viewed-categories

Just look at that sharp divide between “Lesbian” porn in the Americas, “Hentai” in Asia/Russia and “Ebony” porn in Africa. The strong leanings in these parts of the world is simply fascinating to me.

Shout out to Pakistan for being about the sole representative of “Big Dick” porn too. Much respect.

The other segment that really intrigued me was the technology insights. For instance, the clear leaning toward Windows/Android devices:

4-pornhub-insights-2018-year-review-operating-system

Or the fact that about 0.7 percent of Pornhub users are searching from their 3DS systems:

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Like who is doing that?! Who is using that janky 3DS web browser to search for porn?

I’d like to meet and interview those people.

There’s so many more things to draw out of these data sets, from the gendered search results to the periods when traffic to the site fell (including the day Big Bang Theory season 11 premiered) and which days/times are the most popular for porn watching.

But the more I talk about here, the more I’ll feel like I’m just stealing things. So instead I’ll point out the link once again and encourage you all to check out the information for yourself.

It’s a hell of a rabbit hole to dive down, and after getting lost in it this morning I’d highly recommend it.

Book III opens, death comes out

Book III opens, death comes out

It figures that a week before finals we get not only the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but also a huge update to Fire Emblem Heroes.

All of this excitement definitely is not helping me stay ready for exams.

But we’re not here for school-related stuff today. No, this is a two-part blog post about the big introduction to Book III! Yesterday I talked about the Feh Channel that Nintendo put out, that way today I could devote all of my time to the beginning of the story.

So knowing this is going to be long enough as is, let’s get into it shall we?

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Chapter 1

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Chapter 1 begins in an… Unexpected place.

Some time has passed since the end of Book II, though the actual period isn’t specified. Our first scene has the Queen of Askr, Alfonse and Sharena’s mother, arriving at the Order of Heroes’ castle with a mission at hand:

After Henriette becomes acquainted with you, the team heads back to Askr proper.

On the way there are aggressive soldiers from the rival nation of Embla — not seen since Book I. The siblings find this strange given how far they are from the nation’s border, but their mother explains what is happening.

Interestingly enough, despite the fact that these enemy units are supposed to be Emblian units previously encountered, there are a whole host of new unit types on the enemy side. Colored bow users, colored dagger users and flying manaketes among them.

Soon enough the Order starts to come across the two generals of Hel’s army:

Upon seeing the two figures on the battlefield, Alfonse and Sharena immediately recognize them. It turns out both figures are intrinsically linked to the characters in an interesting way.

They are the ancestors of the royal siblings and Princess Veronica respectively.

How the characters will deal with their ancestors should be an interesting development throughout the story.

When the Order finally approaches Askr castle they’re intercepted at the gate by Eir, princess of the dead. Once she’s defeated she submits to death by the hand of Alfonse (because I guess the princess of the dead wasn’t dead? Go figure that one out), but he spares her. Instead they take the girl as a prisoner and eventually a wary ally because she supposedly ran away from home and would not be allowed to return.

I say supposedly because… Well… Intelligent Systems blew their load on the surprise before Eir even arrived.

You couldn’t have kept this as a reveal for the future instead of telling us right off the bat?

Ah well. Her character description says she doesn’t quite enjoy her mother’s assault on the living, so at least the character transitioning into a true ally is still available.

But until then we have her as a “tentative” ally.

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I get the feeling most people are going to latch onto the princess fast. Because boy is she packing heat with that base kit of hers.


EirMerciful Death

Skill Set:

  • Lyfjaberg (Might = 14, Range = 2)
    • Grants Resistance +3. At the start of combat, if unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat, and if unit initiates combat, foe cannot make a follow-up attack. After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on target and foes within two spaces of target through their next actions. If bonus was granted to unit, deals 4 damage to unit.
  • Iceberg (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 50 percent of unit’s Resistance.
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Mystic Boost (B Skill)
    • Disables foe’s skills that “calculate damage using the lower of foe’s Defense or Resistance” and “calculate damage from staff like other weapons.” Restores 6 Health after combat.
  • Sparkling Boost (C Skill)
    • At start of turn, restores 10 Health to ally that has been dealt the most damage (excluding this unit).

Analysis:

Eir is just good. Her weapon and A Skill give her a ton of Attack and Speed at the cost of a little health each turn, but her B Skill just restores that health while nullifying a ton of different abilities that might give her enemies an edge.

Add onto that the high resistance attack buff of Iceberg and general ally healing and… Yeah, she’s solid.

A hell of a unit to have given us for free.


Chapter 2

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Chapter 2 begins in the grand halls of Askr castle… Of which we see one background panel.

Alfonse and his father, Gustav, vaguely dance around the reason why Alfonse had said he wasn’t allowed back home before just jumping into the meat of story-relevant exposition.

Apparently there’s a single entrance to Hel that had been sealed for over 20 years by the king’s best defenses. However something happened to the gateway that allowed denizens of the dead to emerge once more.

Right away there’s some weird business going on with Gustav being very harsh toward Alfonse while subsequently ignoring Sharena… But later we also get some dialogue with the queen that suggests he’s that archetype of a grizzled old father who wants his son to avoid the same mistakes he made.

But I’ll get to that.

First we have to discuss the shoehorned in appearance of Veronica after battle two.

There’s more vague alluding to the time skip at this point when Loki shows up out of nowhere to ask Veronica for some kind of cooperation in fighting the soldiers of Hel. They also reference Veronica’s brother Bruno, who had deus ex machina’d his way into the end of Book II but is now off on some secret mission again.

Despite Veronica’s hesitation, Loki suggests a partnership between the two nations because dead people just want to kill all living people.

We don’t have a solid idea of Hel’s motivation yet so let’s go with that for now.

My only wish is that we also get a connection to the Nifl/Múspell conflict here instead of just sticking with the Askr/Embla stuff. At the end of Book II Fjorm did join the Order permanently knowing she was dying from the after effects of the Rite of Frost.

Did she die? Or will she and Hríd and everyone be able to help fight the dead?

So far the only reference we’ve gotten to Book II comes at the end of the fifth battle. It centers around the Order of Heroes arriving at the gateway to Hel and seeing thousands of soldiers pouring out to attack a nearby village. They distract the forces long enough for Askr’s full army to arrive and rout the enemy, at which point Gustav scolds his son.

They do bring the moment around into a pretty nice message about what it means to be a king, showing that the harshness is less about being a calloused father and more about trying to groom a proper heir:

But it still seems like a stretch to toss out the entirety of Book II’s scope and consequences by saying it didn’t make everyone in the Order a hero.

You could show some more affection toward your son you know Mr. Grizzled Old Man Archetype. I’m sure that would make things better come the inevitable existential crisis of fighting death and literally seeing his sister get taken into her army.

Since you know, we’ve seen that it’s coming in the opening cutscene.

Just saying.


For now that’s all we’ve got in the Book III story. Everything is obviously a bit rough around the edges as we only have the earliest exposition set out before us.

However, not counting ridiculous things like the developers spoiling Eir’s possible double-cross later, there were a few good surprises just in the first two chapters. Connecting Hel’s generals to the history of the game’s two main nations in particular makes me interested to see more.

But with all that said, this post is extra long considering I had to sum up two chapter’s worth of story. So I’m going to leave everything to all of you here:

What do you think of the Book III story thus far? Where do you think it’s going to go? Where do you want it to go? How should we boycott the game if the Book II characters never show up again?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below! I, for one, am looking forward to getting some of that Fire Emblem Heroes fix in again.

Director of Photography Career Profile uploaded

I didn’t want to let this actually important work-related stuff fall through the cracks in between a pair of Fire Emblem Heroes posts after seeing it come through my email, so welcome to lucky post number two for the night.

The Career Profile I wrote on being a Director of Photography finally got put up on Gladeo’s website today!

If you recall, a few weeks ago I wrote a Spotlight on Alexxiss Jackson. She’s a freelance DP who has won a number of awards for her work on films, music videos and more. That piece was interesting because it was really the first (features-style) profile of that sort I had cobbled together using interview answers from text rather than actually talking to them in person or over the phone.

The follow-up to that piece was a full Career Profile on Directors of Photography that I, again, used some notes from her that I received over an interview form to create. In a much less significant capacity, however.

Career Profiles are built more on research through places like the Bureau of Labor statistics after all. So this is a ‘research with a side of interview’ than a Q&A like the Spotlight.

If you want to check out the profile, take a look jump on into the rabbit hole through this link here, or head on over to the right-side of the blog to see my full archive of work for Gladeo!

Since the experimental stuff worked so well with Alexxiss, I’m sure more Profiles/Spotlights will start to roll in via some connections Gladeo has been making. In that case, look forward to some more frequent work uploads hopefully coming soon.

A Feh Channel to die for

A Feh Channel to die for

When the Fire and Ice banner was released in Fire Emblem Heroes, we got our first good look at the story being established for Book III through its Xenologue, in which a figure called Hel — ruler of the underworld — stole the immense power of the recently deceased Múspell tyrant Surtr.

Today’s Feh Channel finally gave us the skinny on everything we can expect to see coming out of Heroes in the near future.

Just when I thought I was out… They pull me back in.

The video began with an introductory cinematic for the next chapter in this ever-evolving story.

Overall, I would argue I actually liked the Book II cinematic better. The instant I saw Laevateinn, Loki and Surtr for the first time I was hooked. I needed to know more about who they were, especially as the Order of Heroes paired off to fight them.

With the Book III characters, I’m honestly more intrigued in them from an aesthetic perspective than a personality perspective.

Hel, as well as the two generals she has working under her, all have a macabre Victorian-era look that’s pretty great. Everything about the land of the dead shown off here gives more of an old English look than the Norse-inspired fantasy worlds of Book II.

In spite of the fact that Hel is the goddess of death in Norse mythology as well.

The sudden shift into an 1800s look, combined with the gothic, ethereal living dead designs is pretty sweet.

Once the video ends, we cut back to the Order’s castle where Feh jumps into expository mode that clashes wildly against the darker tone Intelligent Systems tried to convey with heavy metal and Sharena’s apparent death.

Feh introduces us to the four new characters that we saw in the video:


Hel

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Death Sovereign

Pretty much just a sexy skeleton lady. Someone certainly made a design choice here.

Don’t get me wrong she’s cool, and the general skeletal look + scythe combo definitely screams death. It’s just kind of silly to me that we’ve transitioned from big, imposing fire tyrant to sexy bone lady.


Eir

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Merciful Death

The princess of the realm of the dead, daughter of Hel. Seems to not enjoy her royal status considering she is confirmed to be the free five-star hero we’ll get upon completing Book III, Chapter 1. Rides a dope ass death Pegasus into battle and I’m INTO it.


Thrasir

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Omnicidal Witch

Now Thrasir I like. Invoking omnicide in her epithet, as in all-encompassing genocide, is pretty metal. She looks cool, powerful and deadly.

Out of all the new characters, I think I’ll enjoy seeing where her story goes the most.


Líf

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Lethal Swordsman

I’m somewhat bothered by the fact that we’re introducing a new character whose name can be easily confused with the already existing Prince Leif, but hey. Spooky mask skeleton knight.

It’s hard not to appreciate that, even if it is the most cliché “cool” villain archetype I can possibly imagine.


As we hear from Feh in the video: “The Askran Kingdom was just getting used to peace, but now it’s being invaded by forces from Hel.”

Beyond the fact that the quote sounds hilarious in Feh’s voice, an allusion to a time skip is the only thing I’m hesitant about regarding Book III.

If we really do skip ahead some time, it might feel disjointed. How long did Hel wait to use Surtr’s powers? Will the Nifl and Múspell characters play any kind of role or just get tossed aside? How will Loki fit in after going around Nohr and Hoshido messing with Azura and Anankos?

Yeah I paid attention Intelligent Systems. These plot points better fit together.

After touching on the generalities of the story, Feh briefly discuss some new things we’re going to get in the 3.0.0 update. Included are:

  • Four new blessings: Light, Dark, Astra and Anima. Obviously based on the Trinity of Magic from games like Sacred Stones, so I’m immediately attached.
  • A “new” kind of unit called a Mythic Hero. Essentially just Legendary Heroes for the Trinity blessings.
    • Eir will be the first light Mythic Hero, similar to how Fjorm was the first Legendary Hero who joined the Order for story reasons.
  • A Hero Fest that features Owain, Ophelia, Lewyn and Eir. A strange collection… Probably not one I’ll spend too many orbs on.
  • A new item called “First Summon Tickets,” essentially allowing us to replicate the effects of the new banner free first summon whenever we want. I appreciate that this is supplemental and not replacing the usual free summon. Though the fact that they last for one banner only kind of sucks.
  • Beast units are coming! The first will be Tibarn, a hawk guy from Radiant Dawn (who I have no connection to), but hopefully that means we’ll get characters like Kaden and Yarne soon enough.


With that, the party’s over for now. This is all the information Feh was willing to give us for the time being.

Luckily we’ll only have to wait until tonight to find out more!

So until I write all about the first two story chapters tomorrow, let me know what you think about this spookier, serious direction Fire Emblem Heroes seems to be going in.

Or, more importantly, let me know what you think about beast units finally coming. Boy that’s something we’ve been waiting on for years now.


If you want to see part 2 on the story of Book III chapters 1 and 2, take a look here!

Procrastinating in all the right ways

That’s right, I’m here to admit my faults. If I don’t, I’ll never be able to hold myself accountable.

Today I spent most of the day procrastinating…

From writing my desktop Mac blog post.

I know, I know, I’ve been promising to put that one together all weekend. But I have a long history of procrastinating on just about everything, especially when the thing I’m procrastinating on means a lot.

Out of the many different things I’ve put together for my blog in recent history, this particular post probably means the most to me thanks to what I uncovered. Thus I want it to be as well put together as possible, but going in with that mindset almost inevitably breeds anxiety over the piece never quite getting to a place of perfection.

It’s something I’ll have to get over eventually. I’m sure I will, but until I do get over myself I’m not going to promise a specific time frame for the post to come out. Otherwise I’ll just keep feeling like I’m failing myself — and all of you — as I continue to push the deadline back.

It’s just such a shame that there are so many other things going on that have been taking up my time. What kind of priorities must I have to be pushing off my blog post in favor of ridiculous things like my Mass Media Ethics final essay?

I spent a good couple of hours this afternoon just hunkering down and working on that paper, one of the last six things I have to worry about this semester as I stipulated yesterday. So now that it’s written and printed, ready to turn in, I’m officially 2/6 concerns down.

But really, is the comfort of making it through another stressful college-related responsibility worth the deep feeling of failure forming a hefty pit in my stomach?

Personally, I don’t think so.

Just consider this a brief apology as we move into the new workweek.

Fall 2018 finals stress update

Originally I was planning on getting part two of my “old stuff from my desktop Mac” series out today (in spite of the fact that only 2 of you actually read the first one, come on guys I was proud of that). But then the unsung combination of homework, Super Smash Bros. and work meetings kind of distracted me from it.

The subject is kind of near and dear to my heart, so I want the post to look really solid before I put it out.

That being said, as a result I kind of didn’t have a post to put out for all of you. For most of the day I was totally fine with that, especially considering I put out that post last week talking about school stress and how I might fall behind on this blog stuff.

Except then I went to the gym, took a hot shower and realized that I would personally feel bad if I didn’t have ANYTHING to share with you all today.

So here’s my brief sharing something with you all today. It won’t be long, but it is actually a nice update.

While that “Burnout” post I linked just two paragraphs ago was a huge laundry list of stressors to work through, it really did turn out to be a crazy in-the-moment explosion of my self-deprecating lack of confidence.

Since then I’ve done other things like talk about Superman comics (a post that Scott from NerdSync actually noticed because I was overenthusiastic about @ing him, but that made me feel super good), find cool stuff on my old computer and play Smash Bros.

So mentally I’m in a much better place.

That better place has facilitated actually working through some of the stuff I had on my plate to a much more productive degree. Now that I’m out of my own head and just ranting for the sake of it, I’d say the main stressors of the next two weeks boil down to six things:

Three big end-of-term essays and three final exams.

Except wait, no longer are there six things!

As of about an hour ago, I officially turned in my Visual Comm essay:

Yeah you know, the one that I wrote a post on while doing some particularly interesting research for a while back? Wound up writing ~13 pages with two pages of references.

Hope the professor likes it — maybe next time he’ll remember my name and not call me James in an email.

Definitely not still bitter about it

Thus my big list of concerns drops to five.

  1. My Mass Media Ethics final paper (also the final for that class)
  2. My Evolution and Creation final paper
  3. My Sensation and Perception exam (cumulative, kind of a nightmare)
  4. My Learning and Memory exam
  5. My Visual Communications exam (online only, not so bad)

I know this post is a bit cobbled together and padded out by referencing older things on my blog, but I didn’t want to leave you all with nothing.

Because I love you guys!

… Even if you did leave my cool Smash Bros. post out to dry.

But hey it’s only been a day, so maybe that’ll pick up with time.

Either way, hopefully this post, if nothing else, serves as a reminder that even the most stressful periods of time in the moment can turn out okay on the other end.

Yeah, that’s a good message to take away from this. Nailed the heartstring appeal, Jason.

A smashing blast to the past

A smashing blast to the past

Gotta love tentpole programming.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is officially out today! Even though I haven’t personally gotten my hands on it just yet, by all accounts it promises to be a fantastic collection of all the greatest parts of the series’ 19-year history.

I’m excited to get my hands on this sucker, because I’ve been a pretty hardcore fan of Masahiro Sakurai’s wonderful party fighter games since Melee on the GameCube.

Melee was quite literally a game that defined my young childhood, with many birthday parties spent playing as Young Link on the “Great Bay” stage from Majora’s Mask (many years before I actually played its game of origin).

Brawl was the game that offered my core friend group, from middle school on, to duke it out, find our main characters and test our creativity building our own fields of combat.

Smash 4 brings with it memories of being so excited that I played the demo endlessly during art class in senior year, time that left me proficient in newcomer Mega Man as much as I would be proficient in Lucina — my current main character, passed along from Marth before her.

Yet the fourth entry in the series became so much more. Long nights in the Daily Titan newsroom were more manageable after my boi Aaron Valdez brought his Wii U and we held DT tournaments.

Hell I even have some fond memories of the original Smash Bros., despite the fact that I never owned a Nintendo 64. I distinctly remember going to an animation camp while visiting my grandparents in Florida one summer, and a major highlight of the camp was getting there early to play on some of the consoles available in their waiting room.

My attachment to the series went far deeper than just playing the games with my friends, however.

When Stephen Hillenberg died a few weeks ago, writing my blog obituary for him brought back a lot of memories. One of the most potent memories was attending a sprite animation camp (here in California) over a summer with my friend Mitchell Winn from all the way back in elementary school.

Thanks to that camp, I learned a good many things about grabbing sprites from my favorite games off of The Spriters Resource and using them in different projects.

I took on ambitious sprite projects in the months and years to follow. Including recreating that famous Band Geeks halftime scene from Spongebob with video game characters.

One other project that felt pertinent to today required going back into my old desktop Mac.

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This dinosaur literally hasn’t been touched since 2012 based on the security update. Thus it has become a crystalized time capsule for 15-year-old Jason.

I had so much fun going through this thing that I’m going to talk more about my discoveries later this weekend.

But for now, the important connection back to Smash Bros. were these desktop wallpapers I made using character sprites from various games and other fan projects:

SSBB Battle Subcon Stage2
The Featured Image, a classic fight between Link, Charizard (sans Pokémon trainer as this was the Brawl era), Kirby and Marth on “Mushroom Kingdom II.”
SSBB Battle Battlefield Stage
Four hatted-Kirby duke it out on Melee’s “Battlefield.”
SSBB Battle Yoshi Stage
Pikachu, Yoshi, Marth and Falco fight on “Yoshi’s Island,” where Marth shows off his Dolphin Slash. A favorite move of mine, clearly.
SSBB Battle Mario Stage
The Mario Bros. take on Link and Sonic on the aptly named “Mario Bros.” stage.
SSBB Battle Final Stage
A slightly askew duel between Samus, Fox, Zelda and a very tiny Captain Falcon on Brawl’s version of “Final Destination.”
SSBB Battle Onett Stage
One of my prouder pieces from what I remember, in which Ness knocks Kirby out of the park in his home turf of “Onett.”
SSBB Battle Mario Stage2
We return to “Mario Bros.” so the Bros. can confront a series of variant Sonics each colored after Chaos Emeralds. Not sure if these are the classic Chaos Emerald colors, but the different poses are sweet if you ask me.
SSBB Battle Temple Scene
It’s a race for the Master Sword between Link and Young Link (clearly set during the Melee era) on the leftmost side of the “Temple” battleground.
SSBB Battle Subcon Stage
Apparently I predicted Smash Ultimate being a thing years ago by pitting the (at the time) Melee-exclusive Mewtwo and Brawl-exclusive Snake on “Mushroom Kingdom II.”

Would have helped if I made them all the same size so they didn’t get stretched out when I rotated them as wallpapers. But hey, eight years ago.

All of these babies were created between May and June of 2010 using Graphic Converter, as I never learned Photoshop or anything.

2010! I know I spent all this time building up 15-year-old Jason, but these specifically are all a product of 13-year-old Jason’s ingenuity.

Now that Smash Ultimate is out, I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon so I can start to make some new memories with that game. Perhaps a few of them will come somewhere remotely close to leaving an impression as strong as the older titles.

Here’s to everyone having a happy Smash Ultimate day!

Changing of the seasons

Changing of the seasons

If I have any people to thank for just about all of the great stuff that has happened to me over the last three+ years, Bonnie Stewart has to be a big one.

Today, current and old members of the Daily Titan staff threw our favorite advisor a surprise party before her retirement from CSUF.

It was a sad day not just for all of us in the newsroom who have come to love Bonnie over her last five-and-a-half years advising the school’s newspaper, but also for nature in general apparently. The universe itself seemed to cry at the idea of her moving on from all of us students.

IMG_1574
Easily one of our heaviest rainstorms in years.

Not sure why pictures of the Pollak Library seem to be my barometer for things happening at Cal State Fullerton, but between this and my empty library picture from before Thanksgiving break I seem to be developing a pattern.

In this case I suppose I can blame it on the torrential downpour, which necessitated me to take a picture from inside the cozy warmth of a Starbucks post-meeting in the Honors Center rather than getting my phone drenched. I’m not kidding, it really came down like cats and dogs.

Pretty sure I hydroplaned at least once on the freeway going in this morning, and it was extra fun having copious amounts of water splash up against my windshield from adjacent cars.

… Alright maybe that’s enough complaining about the rain. This is supposed to be something of a celebratory ‘thank you’ kind of post after all.

Plus the rain had dried up by the time I left at about 6:00 p.m., four hours or so after the party for Bonnie began.

Nailed the transition

I wasn’t expecting the party to be very long or busy, but I’m glad I was wrong. Not only was it great seeing a packed newsroom show up to celebrate Bonnie, but a lot of those people were friends I haven’t had the chance to catch up with for a while!

Also, it gave my mom an opportunity to do some holiday baking for a crowd outside the usual suspects. By the end of the night there were only three pieces of her coffee cake left, and Bonnie liked it so much that she was happy to take the recipe.

While it was nice catching up with people like Kyle Bender, Amy Wells or Darlene Casas, meeting some older staff members like Samuel Mountjoy, Julia Gutierrez and Michael Huntley, and just generally schmoozing with a bunch of people and food, obviously Bonnie was the lady of the hour.

I’ve actually known about her retirement longer than most (from what I’m aware), as she was one of the first people I had approached to possibly be a mentor for my Honors Project. She had to turn me down since she wouldn’t have been around long enough to see the project through, and since then I’ve had to keep that little secret under lock-and-key.

Feels pretty nice to not have to hold onto it any longer… But it feel even more nice knowing that she trusted me with the secret in the first place.

Three+ years of working with Bonnie has undoubtedly made me a better person and a better journalist/writer/academic/anything, really. Any award I’ve received while at Cal State Fullerton, as well as any internship I’ve gotten as a result of my time at the Daily Titan, can all be tied back to her influence in some respect.

It was bittersweet to imagine her not having that same influence on others going forward as a result. But I know she’s off to do great things even in retirement, and I’m as excited to see where she lands as I’m sure she’s excited to see me (and all her students) land in jobs they deserve.

A super palate cleanser

A super palate cleanser

Yesterday I vented all about how stressed I was by the end of the semester fast approaching.

However… That didn’t wind up being the end of the story.

After finishing that blog post at school and coming home, I proceeded to do a ton of my homework late into the night. Doing so alleviated a lot of my anxiety about being able to get things done.

As did watching the Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch about spam.

I’m not even sure the sketch itself was THAT funny, but watching my dad lose his shit the second it came on was amazing and definitely killed me.

Stuff like that helped keep me balanced today, to the point that tonight I’m feeling way better about life. Enough to work through the idiocy of my Sensation and Perception class this morning.

If you saw the tweet I wrote, you’ll understand.

Yeah.

It also made me feel better enough to justify spending extra time getting into writing on the old blog here!

Which completely defeats the purpose of my giving myself the out yesterday… But hey. I did say I have messed up priorities there.

I would also argue that going to the gym tonight helped me burn off some of the stress. Which yes, I know makes this into just another post-gym posting for me.

Except this time the topic I wanted to delve into is only related to going to the gym.

While working out tonight I spent some time listening to the Nerdsync podcast. I’m positive I’ve talked about them before in one of my “YouTube Recommendations” posts, but in essence Nerdsync is a YouTube channel that I came across while getting more into the comic book scene over the summer which really thrives on intellectual takes on subjects in (mostly) superhero comics.

Highly recommended.

After getting through all of the video content there I discovered there was a podcast starring the channel’s main head Scott and his friends Chris and Bryce. Since then I’ve been listening through the ~130 episode backlog during my daily commutes.

Episode 89, which I happened to be listening to while lifting weights, was one of their recurring Trivia Challenge podcasts where the three guys make up quizzes for one another based on obscure comic book or pop culture stuff.

Through the episode I discovered something so hilarious that it not only killed off more of my stress, but also probably added a few years onto my lifespan.

In the golden age of DC Comics, around the 1950s, there was a series of stories under the title of “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.” It’s one of Scott’s favorite things and has become one of mine as well because it’s quite literally the goofiest stuff you’ve ever seen Superman involved with, to the point that most of it doesn’t even sound real.

That’s the case with this particular Jimmy Olsen comic, Volume 113 from June of 1956.

In essence, this was a story in which Superman tried to convince Jimmy he was in a dream after the reporter accidentally got a photo of Clark Kent changing into the superhero attire. He did so by doing ridiculous things like duplicating eggs.

If that wasn’t already wild enough, take a look at the cover in which everything is exactly the same… Except Superman is upside-down.

Image and story summary are all from the DC Wikia, by the way.

Yet even if that’s a trustworthy source, I still cannot believe that this is an actual thing that exists. Not only is it a ridiculous premise, but the fact that they decided Superman being upside-down was whacky enough to grace the cover of the book is astounding to me.

He flies! It’s not weird that he can turn upside down!

Everything is just… So good about this.

So, so good.

After hearing that this excited I needed to share it with the world. Because hopefully it can help you all feel better about life as it has for me.


Featured Image courtesy of Roland Tanglao via Wikimedia Commons