Tag: Art

My children come to life

My children come to life

Next week I will be presenting my Senior Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

Literally, next week. Friday, May 3 at 11:10 a.m. in room 1307 of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.  Just in case any of you are interested in going!

It’s a whole panel on creative writing that includes my novel, a children’s book about a character with Down Syndrome and a collection of essays about learning English.

I’ll talk about that more, but it’s worth a plug now.

Mostly because it gives me an excuse to talk about one of my most exciting pieces of presentation preparation:

The character sketches.

For the last couple months I’ve been working with the wonderful Elizabeth Person to draw my four main characters. Having tangible ways to see them was a perfect way to spice up the PowerPoint.

It just so happened that my Mom knew Elizabeth from her work with Edward Branley (whom she does book edits for), and her art style meshed well with the fantasy aesthetic.

As you can see in my Featured Image, the drawings came out really well!

But of course… You didn’t think I would show off my babies and not talk about them, did you?

Nah. We talking all about these good folks!

I need to practice for my presentation, after all.


Warrior

Eliott Aviknard

Eli is a human knight who leads the adventuring party into raids, looking for treasure and glory so they can leave their small trading town in the Western Badlands and see the Bresegon Empire’s capital.

He proudly uses his father’s white armor and blade, both staples of the paladins who serve as royal guards. For the most part he is stoic and cool-headed in combat.

However, that cool facade often gives way to a defeatist, lamenting rant into a mug of ale as he blames himself for the party’s frequent inability to secure the treasure they need. Which, as a result imposes upon Romeri for funding, keeps Julianna from going abroad and impedes Sovann’s desire to prove himself as a thief.

He is also deathly afraid of horses, which comes up often as he tries to overcome that roadblock preventing him from truly becoming the paladin he claims to be (to the jest of his friends).


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Julianna Rhuiviel

Julianna is a quiet, well-studied elven mage, an up-and-coming expert in both tome- and scroll-based magics. She carries around enough encyclopedias to be a jack-of-all-trades in lore around the continent.

In the world of Isenvid and the Four Orbs (my novel’s current title), the elvish people have a tragic backstory. Their village in the Gnarled Forest was invaded by Bresegon soldiers and razed, with most of the children being taken away to reeducation schools.

Julianna was one such child, and to this day retains both a desire to find acceptance (only used to racist rejection), a drive to learn her people’s history and a fear of fire.

An element that tends to being important for a mage.

Her personal feelings of being unaccepted leave the girl self-conscious about her 7′ height, glowing porcelain skin and somewhat gangly figure. She covers herself up (under the guise of avoiding sunburns) and prefers to go by “Julie.”

Though Sovann and Romeri will frequently get on her nerves with the affectionate “Ju-Ju.”


Archer

Romeri Russev

Romeri is a human archer and the oldest member of the party. She is business-savvy and worldly, having traveled before settling down to run a tavern, and she’s matriarchal; offering all of her friends an ear.

She tends to be the most fashion-forward when not in battle-ready armor — but even then tends to go for style over substance. Her desire to look good is matched only by her desire for wealth and fiscal security.

In combat Romeri is indispensable, though she has a tendency to arrive late to the party. Her long-ranged attacks almost never miss, as she has a long history of training with some of the best soldiers on the continent.

In fact, her ex was a royal soldier who now runs her own traveling mercenary troupe. A connection that may or may not become relevant in the story. Wink wink, plug plug.

She terrifies the elf who tends bar while she is away, and her hair is dyed by flowers.


Cleric

Sovann Krei

Sovann is a human thief with a skin condition called vitiligo.

From an early age he was trained to be a cleric in the Furbism tradition, a religion that was nearly wiped out as its capital was sacked to leave the Bresegon Empire in control.

He’s an effective healer, but got bored of that mundane life and decided to become a thief. There he could find action and fight with his preferred weapon: Daggers. That transformation is symbolized by his old priest’s vestment, which has been modified to serve as a cloak.

However… He’s a klutz, and more often than not people will defeat enemies before he has the chance, which leaves Sovann relegated to healing duty.

He bemoans the job but eagerly helps his friends, and carries his old staff tied to his back with the unused sleeves of his cloak.

Sovann is also known to be a tease (especially fond of poking fun at the budding romance between Eli and Julianna that only they do not realize is happening), and will hit on just about anything that moves.


They’re wonderful, aren’t they?

I’m planning on finishing my novel over the summer once I have the stress of finals and graduation out of the way, which means hopefully you’ll all be able to read their story sometime soon!

In the meantime, I definitely recommend checking out Elizabeth’s work. It was hard to give away my babies and let someone else try to visualize how I’ve imagined them, but she did a wonderful job and was really communicative throughout the process.

Even traded rough sketches here and there for my feedback:

It’s been awesome, something I’m absolutely considering doing again.

I can’t wait to show these guys off alongside the preplanning of my plot and map next week!

Jason plays the Pokémon Trading Card Game

Jason plays the Pokémon Trading Card Game

Time to say good-bye to the last strands of my dignity.

I’m sure it’s no secret that I love Pokémon, as I spent months building up to Pokémon Sun and Moon on this blog when it was announced. However, I haven’t spent too much time talking about the Trading Card Game.

Which is strange considering how much I talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links — even pulling out old childhood memorabilia when it became relevant.

Yet I have plenty of experience collecting Pokémon cards as well! Looking back at my most recent room renovation, you can actually see a Jirachi card hanging out with my other mythical wish-granter merchandise:

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Just on the rightmost side.

But that and the Gardevoir set I keep under my desktop keyboard for good luck…

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… is only the tip of the iceberg.

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My parents like to tell the story of how they had original card packs for one of the first sets in the Pokémon TCG, which would have been amazing collectors items today. However, I had no interest in them at that point.

So they got rid of them.

Hilarious considering how much I wound up getting into collecting the cards:

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Back when I collected most of these, it really did just amount to collection. Like with my physical Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, I never actually played the game.

My first real exposure to playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game came in 2015 when I first watched a Let’s Play of the GameBoy game by TheKingNappy and ShadyPenguinn.

I was so interested in it that I downloaded the game off the 3DS eShop.

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Despite the game having come out in 1998, I would still argue it has some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard in a video game. Just listen to the Club Master Duel theme.

However, it was mostly the video game’s interface and music that kept me really engaged. I still never went so far as to play with real cards.

Thus it was kind of the end of my experience with the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

… Until this most recent December, when ProJared began to upload a Let’s Play of the GameBoy TCG game.

Game.

Watching it get played again inspired me to jump in. But this time I didn’t go back to my 3DS.

I re-downloaded the official Trading Card Game online.

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I say re-downloaded because I did have a brief attempt at playing the game before (as you’ll see from my cringe-worthy screen name based on some half-assed character), but it didn’t stick quite as well as my recent deep dive.

For those of you who have never played the Pokémon Trading Card Game, I figure a very brief synopsis of how it works is in order.

Each player starts with a 60-card deck, out of which they draw seven cards for a hand and six prize cards. There are two primary win conditions in the game. You either draw all of your prize cards by defeating a Pokémon, or you defeat all of your opponent’s Pokémon so they can no longer play.

There are six kinds of cards in the game:


  • Pokémon: The monsters are your primary players. Each has a set amount of health, specific moves they can use when given energy and sometimes abilities that can affect your play environment.
    • Pokémon can evolve by placing the next stage card on top of a basic card, but not on the same turn that basic card is played.
    • There are also “EX” or “GX” cards that are powerful and have strong abilities, but allow your opponent to draw two prize cards instead of one if defeated.
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Legendaries are typically basic Pokémon, but require a lot of energy.
  • Energy: Energy is required in specific typings to use an attack, unless that requirement is a basic white star — any energy can fill that requirement.

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  • Items: Provide a variety of effects from healing to drawing cards. Can be used as many times as they are drawn per turn.

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  • Supporters: Typically based off of major characters or NPCs from the video games, these cards are usually advanced versions of items that can only be used once per turn.

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  • Tools: Can be attached directly to one Pokémon as a buff, such as increased damage or defense.

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  • Stadium: Applies an effect to both sides of the field, similar to certain abilities. Only one can be in-play, and playing a second Stadium overturns the first.

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The balance of Pokémon and energy placement, where only one is active at a time and players can set up the team in their back row, feels a lot more complex than Yu-Gi-Oh!’s basic gameplay style.

However, all of the Trainer cards seem a lot more focused on draw power and health restoration than Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Spells and Traps, which have a daunting amount of variety and often incentivize playing to a narrowed archetype.

That said, I love both games.

Here’s an example of me playing with a Psychic-type deck I built.

Video’s a bit choppy, so be warned. Though it shouldn’t be nearly as bad as my Armagetron video.

As you can tell, the primary focus of my deck is to build up to Gallade or Lunala (mostly the latter).

I don’t have quite as many GX or EX cards as a lot of players who have clearly been playing longer, but Lunala being a Stage 2 legendary means card designers balanced the trouble of getting her out with some powerful attack output.

It has worked wonders for me thus far, and I’ve been building up my digital card collection using booster packs from the Trainer Challenge mode…

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… As well as theme decks bought using coins from Versus duels…

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… To create a few different decks.

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A Metagross deck is currently being tested, though it’s not quite as well-developed.

While I think the card game itself has some unique complexities that stand out compared to Duel Links (which I’ve fallen out of favor with and replaced my vice apparently), what really keeps me going with the Pokémon TCG is how amazing the card art is.

See Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are always the same for a given card, unless they get altered for balance down the line.

But Pokémon cards for each monster can have a variety of attacks, abilities and even types in different printings. Each of those new prints also has a new piece of artwork.

Here’s a small slideshow of some of the really cute cards I’ve found in my relatively short time playing.

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That’s the real charm of the Pokémon TCG. That’s what keeps me playing.

So… Yeah.

I’m sure many of you saw ‘Jason plays the Pokémon Trading Card Game’ and groaned. Hopefully I gave you enough visual spectacle and explanation to understand why I’ve been so hooked on this stuff.

Because as much as I keep joking about how playing this game out of everything I could be doing in 2019 will ruin my reputation… What can I say.

I’m just a sucker for a fun card game.

My top 10 games of 2018

My top 10 games of 2018

I always feel like it’s cliché for me to throw one of these lists together since it’s something EVERYONE does. But the more I think of it as a window into what I love, the less bad I feel about it.

After all, looking at my 2017 list pretty much just reminded me that I had to cop-out with mobile games and Jackbox because I played so few games. Pretty wild.

This year I don’t have that problem luckily! Just remember the most important rule of all with a list like this:

  1. This is all my opinion, so don’t get your panties in a twist if I don’t talk about your favorite game (there are plenty of experiences unfortunately still sitting on my wishlist).

 

10.

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Don’t Starve and the number 9 game on this list may have been higher, but they’re both technically re-releases of games that I played years ago. So to be fair to newer games, I decided to keep them on the lower end.

Don’t let the low score deceive you, however. I love Don’t Starve as much as anything else on the list, if not more for nostalgia’s sake!

Alongside The Binding of Isaac, Terraria and FTL (and no I haven’t had the chance to play Into the Breach yet… Sorry Kyle), this Tim Burton-styled survival game was one of the most played titles in my Steam library years ago.

I can still vividly recount stories of playing the game in my 10th grade Journalism room, which would later become my 11th grade AP Language classroom.

It was a strange transition.

The important thing to know is that this game meant a lot to me, so when it got a re-released on the Switch I knew I had to jump back on the train.

It’s a really solid port, even if the Switch controls take a little time to adjust to.

I also officially “beat” the game for the first time this year! So the port gets some brownie points for that.

Add the portability of playing a game with such a unique world and art style on the go, and I’ll absolutely recommend Don’t Starve any day.


9.

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Ah yes, Minecraft.

Just what is there to say about Minecraft that hasn’t already been said?

It’s the survival/building blocky simulator that took the world by storm, inspired a trillion clones and now serves as a permanent cash cow for Microsoft. I absolutely adored Minecraft for years on both my desktop computer and Xbox 360. I even downloaded the Technic Modpack back in the day after watching the Yogscast.

While the game disappeared from my radar, the Switch brought it back to life for my friends and I.

As soon as this port dropped we all jumped on and had a ball playing over the summer. Now that I can capture pictures off my Switch I should go back and show you all some of the amazing stuff we built together.

Unfortunately, once the game shifted to be the all-encompassing Microsoft edition (and once the semester started) we all dropped off.

But if nothing else, Minecraft remains a great cooperative option for us to play together going forward.


8.

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Wizard of Legend is the first of what I would consider a Renaissance of indie games on the Switch that kept me gaming more than I usually would this year.

I love Wizard of Legend. Especially considering the dev team (Contingent99) is made up of two people, the fact that such a beautiful and fun title exists in the marketplace is a true testament to gaming culture in 2018.

It’s a fast-paced roguelike dungeon crawler that lets you blast out massive elemental attacks as though you’re the Avatar. AND it’s couch co-op.

Unfortunately, the game’s content is admittedly a bit shallow. As an experience Wizard of Legend rules, but once you’ve collected all the spells, you’ve kind of seen everything.

It’s a game I’ll happily return to and play again, and I by no means regret spending my money. But there just happen to be some better, similar games on this list.


7.

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I might have put this higher if I had gotten around to it sooner.

Pokémon Let’s Go is the amalgamated child of a Generation 1 remake and the capturing style of the mobile title Pokémon GO that took the world by storm a few summers back.

It’s about as casual a Pokémon experience as you can get, and for long-time fans such as myself there are very strange choices made (like who decided to only make PC access from the bag?).

But that being said, it’s an absolutely gorgeous Switch game, and every time I interact with Eevee my calloused heart melts.

The biggest selling point of Let’s Go for me is that it’s a couch co-op game I can play with my sister. If we weren’t only about five hours and three badges into the game, it might easily top this list because of the fun we’ve had yelling at the screen so far.

If you have a younger sibling (or romantic partner?), this is the game that perfectly bridges the gap between forced co-op and pretending to let them help in a single player title.

Like I used to do a lot, admittedly.


6.

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I have mixed emotions about Kirby Star Allies.

As a long-time fan of the Kirby series, I was really looking forward to the pink puffball’s next generation console game. That said, I wasn’t disappointed by how much of a fun Kirby game it was.

I even got a nice Daily Titan article out with my initial reactions, and that somehow has nearly 5,000 views?

Wow, how did that happen?

Anyway though, as fun as the game is, it’s seriously lacking in terms of difficulty and narrative — even for Kirby, who isn’t usually known for those elements.

Because of that I don’t feel like I can pick up the game as often as Squeak Squad or Super Star Ultra. But that being said… A ton of DLC came out for the game after I put it down, and I admittedly haven’t tried most of the new Dream Characters.

So hey, maybe it’s a lot better than where I left it the first time! Just based on my experiences now however, it seems like a solid fit for number 6.


5.

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I wrote a whole blog post about Deltarune weeks ago when I finally got around to playing it, so you can see my in-depth thoughts there.

What I will say is that much like its predecessor Undertale, Deltarune has a ton of mental staying power. It’s arguably the game I played for the least amount of time this year, but I hold it in high regard because I keep humming that glorious battle theme and thinking about all the possibilities of future installments.

It’s a game you just need to experience to understand. If you’re a fan of Toby Fox I’m sure you already have, but even if you haven’t played Undertale it might still be worth a look for fans of wacky fourth-wall comedy and Final Fantasy-esque gameplay.

I promise it’s worth diving down the rabbit hole.


4.

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Enter the Gungeon is kind of the game I wish Wizard of Legend was.

It’s a remarkably similar, being a roguelike dungeon crawler, but something about the way Gungeon’s five randomized levels are utilized makes them feel so much more fresh over a long period of time than Wizard of Legend’s three two-act levels.

Perhaps it has to do with the art style? Both are gorgeous examples of sprite work, but Gungeon’s aesthetic of gun puns galore seems more entrancing and unique.

Perhaps it has to do with the weapon variety? All of the spells in Wizard are great, but their numbers pale in comparison to just how many guns and combination effects are in Gungeon.

Perhaps it has to do with the supplementary content? Wizard boils down to collecting the spells and costumes, but Gungeon has a series of underlying story “quests” and NPCs who give you extra tasks to complete while you unlock more weapons and power-ups.

Both of these games are wonderful, but Enter the Gungeon stands much taller in terms of its content and replayability. A testament to the breadth of skill from a studio like Dodge Roll under Devolver Digital.


3.

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Much like Minecraft, what is there to say about Super Smash Bros. that hasn’t already been said?

I wrote a long post the other day about how much I love the single-player stuff in Ultimate, which has given me dozens of hours of enjoyment.

But that alone shouldn’t have skyrocketed the game to number 3 on my list, right?

I’ll admit, I’m giving Smash Ultimate some proactive credit. Simply because it’s Smash Bros., I know for a fact it’s going to be relevant for years in professional, competitive settings and among during casual friend hangouts.

Plus there are DLC characters already in the works, and I’m dying to play as Piranha Plant!

So yeah, Smash Bros. is a super fun game that I’m really glad is going to live on for years. As a result, it garners top billing.

… But really, what else did you expect from a Nintendo fanboy like me?


2.

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Hollow Knight is easily the best game I’ve played this year.

It has a darker art style, sense of humor and scale that create one of the richest worlds I’ve played with in years. Even the horrid Deepnest, a place I still shutter thinking about months later.

The gameplay is tight, offering a metroidvania experience which truly gets more fun as you advance through it by empowering the player’s exploration and combat abilities.

It’s also remarkably open-world in spite of needing certain abilities to advance in different areas, as my friends Jonathan and Juan each went through the game in completely different ways than I did.

The story is somber and open to interpretation. There are hints of different things going on that can only be discovered through a player’s curiosity.

Hollow Knight is also full of great characters who at times embody well-known tropes, but at other times subvert them in heartbreaking ways. One of my favorite characters is a bug girl who simply dies unceremoniously.

My love came from simply imagining the larger role that she could have had which was tragically cut short. That’s good implicit storytelling.

The game is seriously unique and I would say anyone should experience it.

There’s also a whole host of DLC available that makes the game even more impressive! When it dropped on the Switch this year, I knew it was something I had to play based on the recommendations of a ton of my friends, and boy did it not disappoint.

Hollow Knight seriously would have been my favorite game this year… If something else hadn’t stolen my heart in a different way.


1.

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So. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate came out on Switch this year.

I’ve been a Monster Hunter junkie since my first experience playing 4U on the 3DS. The series scratches all of my gaming itches: Impressively designed beasts to admire, fitting battle music for every situation, luck-based schedules of reinforcement with item collection and (of course) lots of armor and skills to facilitate hours of pre-planning and designing.

I wrote a whole blog post about that earlier this year, because it’s honestly one of those things that drives my fervor for a game.

However, what made Gen Ultimate surpass every other game I’ve played this year was how the Nintendo Switch made it perfect bait for my friends and I to spend hours hunting.

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Yeah, I no-lifed this game super hard as my stress relief.

The crazy thing is, even with all those hours put in I still have a dozen different armor sets in mind that I want to build. Even for weapons I’m trying outside of my favorite Hunting Horn style!

It may not be the deepest game from a narrative perspective, or the most novel game from a mechanical perspective…

But with nearly 100 large monsters and infinite possibilities to dick around with friends, Monster Hunter succeeds at being the game I’ve had the most fun with this year. As well as being the game I know I’ll continue to love in 2019!


In case the pattern wasn’t clear, 2018 was a great year for my Nintendo Switch. That console has really come into its own far more than the Wii U ever did (particularly with indie games), and I’m so glad to see it.

That said, let me know what some of your favorite games of the year were! I obviously don’t own a PS4 or an Xbox One and couldn’t put any games from those libraries on the list, but I know there were some phenomenal showings all across the board.

Here’s to 2019 being as great a year for gaming as 2018 was!

Souls sold to the mouse

Souls sold to the mouse

Anyone who follows my general social media feeds should know that I went to Downtown Disney with my Mom and sister today.

It was nice to get out of the house for a serious outing for the first time in at least a week, outside of that night where we went to dinner in Santa Monica. Not sure I’d count that as being a serious outing in the same vein as going to Disney, particularly the day after Christmas.

While I’m not exactly sure whether that proximate timing to the holidays is responsible for this portion of the experience, it was interesting to see a new metal detector/bag check station outside the entrance to Downtown Disney:

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Maybe it isn’t new and I just haven’t been there in a while. But either way a bit of the magic goes away when you have to think about the necessity of this sort of thing so early into the experience.

Luckily that magic is more than made up for by the wonders of Disney-branded capitalism. Everyone’s favorite kind!

My family was over in Anaheim looking into a present for my sister’s birthday tomorrow. After watching Wreck-It Ralph 2 a second time, she decided she needed one of the Disney Princess pajama shirts — particularly Tiana’s New Orleans’ themed shirt.

Obviously the best place to look for that sort of thing was the source, the Mickey Mouse clubhouse of infinite profit.

To make an extra long story short, we didn’t wind up getting that shirt. We also didn’t get the equivalent hoodie sweatshirt version.

Instead we spent a little more time at different stores around Downtown Disney. Like the LEGO store, which I have to admit becomes less fun the older I get simply because of how much more expensivethe sets get.

Also because they had this model of the LEGO store as a display within the store and it was 2 meta 4 me.

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It is cute, though.

While we were in that store I also made what I’m progressively considering to be a mistake by taking part in this ‘which LEGO mini figure are you?’ display:

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s a sweet little idea. You stand in front of the board, put your hand on the scanner and it gives you a (presumably) random figure. I can only assume the display is meant for a far younger age demographic because of how low it was to the ground.

But still I thought it could be fun. Found out that I am apparently a Buckingham Palace guard LEGO man.

The only issue is, now I’m 100 percent convinced that all of my privacy is officially gone. I’ve given up my fingerprints to the mouse.

If he didn’t already have them from when my Dad worked for Disney I suppose.

Thus I figured I had nothing left to lose. So we had lunch, then went back to the painting shop that we wandered upon first arriving. Our initial time through was the progenitor of this Tweet:

It was a funny ha-ha joke, but at the same time I was super serious. This painting strangely enticed me when we saw it.

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I guess it isn’t really that strange. Look at the thing, it’s god damn beautiful.

Gotta give a shout out to the artist, Brittney Lee, who works at the animation studio. Because you definitely made a fan of me today.

As well as a fan of my sister, who bought a print of hers featuring swing dancers with dresses based on different areas of the park.

But wouldn’t you know, she got lucky because it was her birthday and bought the ~$45 full-size print. I wasn’t quite as willing to dump $500 on the fully-framed painting.

Instead I got the post card version and bragged about it in a follow-up Tweet.

My friend Juan made fun of me for still supporting the mouse in spite of the fact that I was making taunting about not supporting him…

Which is true.

But.

Uhh…

I still really like this piece so I was willing. They already had my fingerprints, so why not?

Turns out my nostalgia totally can get gouged for all it’s worth.

That seems like as good a message to end this off with as any. No matter how strong you believe your spirit to be, always know that Mickey Mouse can and will find a way to pierce deep into the heart of your desires.

Merry day after Christmas, America.

Campus Architecture

Campus Architecture

If there was anything I learned while touring college campuses about three years ago, it was to appreciate the architecture that each campus offered.

For me aesthetics were a fairly big driving factor in deciding where I wanted to go to school. It sounds somewhat petty and shallow I know, but I enjoy wandering and taking in sights. So it mattered.

Honestly the look of Cal State Fullerton as a whole was a strong component in why I decided to go there. I love being on campus, and that’s important for someone who’s commuting every day and wouldn’t have a reason to necessarily stay otherwise.

But I’ve come to appreciate campus architecture overall during trips to a number of California universities because of the kind of insight I’ve gathered at CSUF. Namely the idea that the kind of architecture you see is a signifier for what era the buildings were constructed, and as a result you can essentially walk through time and see what became more important for students over the decades or even eons that the campus existed.

Cal State LA and El Camino College were pretty strong examples of the vastly different building styles on different parts of campus from what I recall.

As was UCLA when I went and wandered that campus after a Boom event some years back. But that school is also massive and ancient so it’s a whole other beast in terms of things like structural construction.

Today I found myself at Pasadena City College, where Alyson was auditioning to be a part of the Tournament of Roses Honor Band. If she gets in she’ll be performing at the next Rose Bowl Parade, so… That’s pretty fricken cool if I do say so myself.

However parents and family were not allowed to sit in on the auditions. So my parents and I were sitting out on the campus proper enjoying a slightly overcast afternoon, some clashing musical performances from practicing students all around and absorbing the nervous energy of basically everyone taking their shot.

Delicious, pure nervous energy. It’s kind of nice when you’re not the nervous one.

As my set-up suggests, I decided not to just sit around the entire time perusing Twitter or whatever. Instead I wandered the campus to get a feel for the different pieces of architecture built over time.

Because, as previously suggested, I’m the kind of weirdo that enjoys that sort of thing.

Now I’m certainly not an expert in era-specific architecture by any means, so I can’t personally tell you which buildings are from which time period just by looking at them. I’m more of a fan from an aesthetic perspective, so that’s my main purpose here.


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I’ve always liked buildings where the top portion hangs beyond where the bottom portion ends.


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For some reason there were no sculptures in the sculpture garden…


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I like how the front of the library looks like numerous faces depending on how you look at it. It’s a goof.


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The avian-looking light above the door to E Building gets a thumbs up from me.


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This kind of tree plaza in front of a building seems like something I might build in Minecraft… I’ll have to save that idea for later.


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More trees, this time in pink! With clock towers. And cops.


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This building felt vastly different from the others because it was red, and I have no idea why it was red if nothing else is.


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It’s nice that even the parking structure gets to look cute.


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Obviously the newest-looking building I could find, the performing arts center looks modern as hell. Aly probably hates it from all that associative stress.


But of course, no architectural tour would be complete without also including at least one piece of bizarre modern art.

At PCC, I think this one took the cake.

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It’s just a horse. Made of wood.

The plaque included with the sculpture doesn’t explain anything except who donated the piece and what it’s called. So I have no idea why some artist decided to make a horse out of wood.

I’ll admit it’s impressive and well-constructed.

But just baffling to me.

So yeah. Pasadena City College. Pretty place, bizarre wooden horse. If you’re all curious about how Aly did in her audition, we won’t know until later, this isn’t really the post for that discussion.

Though I guess if you see me talking about the Rose Bowl Parade later, now you’ll know why.

Conflating Art and Reality on… Ethics

Very bizarre premise for a blog post, I know. But that’s kind of what you get when I spend all day doing homework and can’t figure out too much more to write about outside of that homework.

It just so happens that today my homework weirdly connected with outside forces.

I’ve been working on the at-home midterm essay for my Mass Media Ethics class for the past hour or two. The premise of the assignment is simple, we were given four cases of ethical debate and asked to defend one side in one of those debates. A fairly open-ended piece of work meant to show our general understanding of the ethical philosophies and case study analysis methods we’ve been studying this semester.

I decided to write about the case where a reporter in New York was forced to withdraw from a potential candidacy on the city council in his hometown. All things considered a pretty straight-forward argument between conflicts of interest and breaking company policy on one side with a desire to improve the community using a more hands-on approach on the other.

Honestly the paper went far smoother than I expected it to. The vague nature of the assignment was a bit daunting, so the fact that I was able to write it in just a few short hours with a quick seal of approval from the initial parent check was great. I might run over it again before I have to turn it in on Tuesday considering it is a big chunk of my midterm grade, but overall it feels really nice get it off my plate.

Where the art side of the headline up there comes into play only makes sense if you know some context.

Not too long ago, my family started watching NBC’s The Good Place. It wasn’t a show I was interested in watching when it first started to air a few years ago, but after hearing from some friends that it was an amazing piece of television on the eve of season three starting, we decided to pick it up.

Got through season one in a day or two. Still making our way through season two right now.

It. Is. A wonderful show.

Absolutely wonderful.

It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s fresh. I especially adore Ted Danson, though the whole cast makes for a great ensemble. Plus the occasional guest star that slips their way into the cast helps sell it with some stellar comedy.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s also essentially a hyper condensed ethics class masking as a comedy. The fact that I happened to start watching the show while taking a Mass Media Ethics class is serendipity to say the least.

The most recent episode we watched focused on the classic trolly problem, for example. A thought experiment so intrinsically linked with Utilitarian arguments that the episode as a whole might as well have been plucked out of my class’s week 3 lecture.

If nothing else, it certainly presents some fun examples of concepts to help remember them for when you have to utilize the ideas in an essay.

So I guess the lesson of the day is that television will help you when you have to do homework.

And also to go watch The Good Place. Because it’s an A+ show in basically every regard.

I just wish I’d known about it way back when I went to Universal Studios earlier this year. Because I would’ve paid way more attention to that soundstage on the Studio Tour if I had.

A Day of Fine Arts

A Day of Fine Arts

After a rare day spent almost entirely outdoors at the Manhattan Beach Pier and at Wilson Park in Torrance, I’m pretty beat.

I’m also pretty sunburnt at that, so I’m sure I’ll come to regret not putting on sunscreen once my face starts to seriously burn up. ‘Tis the unfortunate truth of being an overtly pale, caucasian shut-in.

But that’s neither here nor there. Just consider it my excuse to not write the Citizen Kane of blog posts tonight.

All my tired, complexion-driven complaints aside, it was actually quite a lovely day. My friend Mimi and I spent the afternoon just catching up and venting about all of the drama pervading our lives lately.

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Excuse the wink. I swear it’s the sun, not me trying to be a douche.

Of course there are few catalysts better for bonding than pizza. So luckily I was able to take the opportunity to introduce her to my favorite pizza place: The Manhattan Beach Pizzeria.

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Ain’t that a tasty-looking slice? I’ve certainly been a proponent of it since days long past, when this particular joint was a preferred spot to hang out at after volleyball camp every summer.

Plus the calzone was definitely worth the long journey through L.A. traffic, from what I heard through a totally objective third party.

Speaking of that long journey through traffic, it facilitated my having a little bit of extra time before we started to hang out to just wander the shopping plaza at the top of the hill there. It has been a while since I’ve had the chance, as I haven’t gone nearly as much as I should have over the summer.

For some reason, the thing that stood out to me most while I was traversing the grounds was all the public art all around. A lot of it was new, clearly meant to spruce up the area around city hall and the library.

I decided to try and take some artsy, angled pictures of all the different pieces I found as a sort of miniature time-killing project in the middle of the grey, overcast afternoon.

So yeah if you’re interested in strange, not necessarily copacetic public art, enjoy:

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After a couple of hours at the beach, we decided to hang out longer with no real plans set for the next day. That time spread into more fine art, as mom pointed out that there was a Shakespeare by the Sea performance in Torrance.

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For the uninitiated, Shakespeare by the Sea is a theatre troop that has done free performances across California for the last 21 years. It’s a popular event for my family, and one I enjoy bringing my friends to.

How can you go wrong with Shakespeare, after all?

I guess to be fair the show tonight was one of the stranger plays: The Winter’s Tale. It was particularly funny at token moments, but overall holds the distinction of being the only Shakespeare play I can recall seeing where everyone was alive at the end — including many characters who had died during the course of the play.

Weird stuff.

While attending the show I had another obscure little observation. This one relating back to seeing the audience watching it.

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I’m not entirely sure why, but I felt a strange sense of pleasure watching a large crowd of people all quietly engaging with the live performance. As if they were watching a particularly awe-inspiring television program.

Maybe I was just drawn to the idea that we’ve retained the same kind of interest with live performances, particularly Shakespearean performances, as we once had in the days before being overwhelmed by the constant media barrage of the 21st century.

Especially considering just how timeless and relentlessly clever the Bard’s works are.

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Two

My ACP Midwinter 2018 Convention Experiences – Day Two

Rarely is there ever a more poignant metaphor for how a day is going to go than waking up to a cloudy, rainy morning. Especially in Southern California, where rainy days are a dime a dozen at best.

The second day of my Associated Collegiate Press convention experience carried that unfortunate hurdle to overcome. Waking up was less than desirable with water drizzling down onto the windows, but there were early sessions I was interested in attending, so I dragged myself out of bed all the same.

Of course, Long Beach was not much sunnier than Redondo this morning. If anything, it was actually worse:

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Technically this was taken later in the day, but the point stands.

Luckily the conference is in a fancy hotel, so being out in the rain was not exactly a concern. Or that was the hope anyway.

My convention experience actually started out being more hectic than I had intended it to be. There was a 10:30 p.m. session I was interested in attending about covering geek culture, but as soon as I arrived that plan was subverted.

First, she handed out this semester’s business cards, which were delivered at the oh-so-inconvenient timing of late yesterday afternoon.

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Seriously, these couldn’t have arrived when we were first starting the conference?

Whatever. I figured at least I would have the opportunity to hand them out at the geek session I was going to join in a few minutes late.

Instead Bonnie asked me to help out with picking our Best of Show submissions, which were due at 4 p.m. this afternoon. That task first entailed me having to circle back around to the parking lot where she wanted me to rummage through her trunk to find a specific copy of the paper we wanted to submit.

Long story short, that paper was not there. But there were a couple of others that I grabbed for her. Frankly the strangest thing about that was just getting a brief glimpse into the strange world of ‘how other people organize their car trunks,’ in this case with one of my mentors. It was actually about as messy as my trunk is, so I’m going to take that as a positive.

I brought those issues back to the main foyer, where Bonnie was sitting down to do paper critiques with other schools. I (somewhat awkwardly) joined them at that table because she asked me to pick out the best paper to turn in.

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Here’s just a few of the papers I was deciding between. Ironically enough, none of them pictured above were the ones we decided to turn in. Guess that speaks wonders of my ability to plan ahead.

With the Best of Show paper chosen and a number of my friends at the Titan trickling in, it was time for the day’s keynote.


The Middle Keynote: Covering the Nassar Scandal

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Two students from Michigan State University who run their school’s newspaper were the big speakers of the afternoon. They began simply localizing stories from the Indianapolis Star regarding the huge movement of women coming out against Larry Nassar, the former US Gymnastics physician who also worked at MSU, for his string of sexual assaults.

Then their coverage blossomed into a much larger ordeal.

The two student journalists, Rachel Fradette and McKenna Ross, went through the timeline of their year and a half covering the scandal. Everything from talking to the students Nassar abused to dealing with a stonewalling administration to eventually coming out for the University President’s resignation – which came a week after their editorial, the same day Nassar was convicted.

An element of dealing with a national controversy also permeated throughout their talk. One of the more striking details they discussed was being asked how they felt about the situation as two women on their campus. Not as journalists, not as students, but as women.

Rachel’s comment to that was reminding them that she had no biases as a journalist.

Their story did not end with Nassar’s conviction however. It continued on when an interim President was hired and they began dealing with a reigning in of the message coming from the overall university to try and recover from their PR nightmare.

In the end, one message in particular stuck with me from the keynote as a whole. It was the very end (fittingly), where Rachel commented on the fact that their 2017 Yearbook featured no reference to Nassar in the slightest despite it being the largest sports scandal story in decades.

The blame was placed on the fact that the Yearbook has closer connections to the school than their independent newspaper. “I’m glad every day that we only answer to the students,” she ended on.


Breaktime

Doesn’t seem like I’ve gone over enough for there to be a break in the action, does it?

Well, once the keynote was over the convention schedule had an hour’s worth of a break for lunch.

Everyone who was at the event from the Daily Titan had come to the keynote speech, which is where I got the picture I used as the featured image from.

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With that hour break, a couple of us decided to go out and get some food together. It was still a little drizzly out, but it was much more fun to put up with that alongside friends.

The Islands in the shopping center nearby had a very long wait, so instead we wound up going to a Chili’s nearby. That visit was, of course, predicated on the fact that we all lost it remembering a meme from some years ago.

Classics.

Anyway yeah, I don’t have a good transition, so here’s the picture we took:

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Shout out to our Opinion Editor Sophia (left), our other News Assistant Breanna (middle) and our Copy Assistant Caitlin (right) for putting up with me being lame for social media engagement.

All we had was fries, but it was super fun to just get to sit around and talk. We even finished with just enough time to get back to the convention so we could deal with our newspaper and website critiques.

Those critiques were an adventure in their own right, but I don’t know that I want to share a lot of it here. It’s mostly personal stuff to work on among our newsroom staff.

I will, however, share that the man critiquing our online presence was wearing a scarlet tuxedo jacket adorned with negative newsy terms like ‘libel,’ and when he read our stuff he always put on a monocle.

So that was a thing that happened.


Translating Print for Social Media Engagement

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After we got through our critiques, everyone else decided to head home. But there were a few more sessions I was interested in attending, so I hung around.

The first one I went to revolved around social media. Admittedly, not the best thing to go to after feeling a little bit off following the online paper critique, but I managed to take some interesting stuff out of it all the same.

Granted I wasn’t able to get a lot because I didn’t feel like Jay Hartwell was a fantastic presenter, at least for how I enjoy to learn, but I did pull some things out of it. For instance, he talked about cropping photos in interesting and novel ways to make sure they catch the interest of people looking on their phone.

I frankly did not agree at all with some of the things he was pushing. Like more ‘clickbait-y’ headlines. I’m of the opinion that we need less of that sort of thing, but I suppose I am also somewhat in the minority of people willing to put up with text longer than 300 words in a shot.

If that wasn’t obvious enough.

I think the best part about this presentation was the fact that he sped through it so the latter half could be spent going through the social media accounts of different groups in attendance to judge how good their presence was.

My favorite part of that was an exchange that wound up happening between the presenter and a newspaper who only used their Instagram account to post memes as a way of drudging up more attention and interest. He was arguing that there were issues of fair use, they were arguing that memes are just memes…

It was kind of an unintentionally fascinating look into the difference between the mindsets of millennial versus the older generations.


Melding Artistic and Journalistic Skill Sets

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I didn’t have to move very far to start my last session of the day, since it was literally in the same room as the social media one.

This session, hosted by Andrea Heiss, admittedly caught me off guard. See, from all of the promotional material in the conference’s schedule, I was under the impression that her talk was going to be about the ways covering music, theatre and movies helped to bolster a reporter’s skills when it comes to covering… Well everything else.

Instead, I got a much more interestingly philosophical conversation.

The talk was not about a case of artistic review skills leading to better general reporting, rather it was about the deeper structural connections between skills it takes to be an artist and skills it takes to be a journalist. In essence, the similarities between reporters relying on language in the same way artists rely on their craft to express themselves.

Relating journalism to theatre, she discussed how news stories should construct a scene and embrace the two-way nature of working with your sources while you draft the piece.

Relating journalism to music, she talked about how music is its own language that creates immense emotion without words to implore that our writing should do the same thing in a duet with the people we talk to.

Relating journalism to film, she recommended we adopt the language of film into our work to establish scenes in more detail without breaking into stereotyping our subjects.

There were more points than that, but those were probably the main things in my recollection. However, I also appreciated the way she pointed out that our work as journalists allows us to help readers take scary new steps into novel realities that are being created every day. She also talked about how we, the newest journalists, do that work by melding a classical focus on logic and order with a more modern focus on romanticism, emotional and local story telling.

I honestly really like the way she described us blending those traditions, so I’ll probably hang onto that.


Once that last session ended, I quickly made my way our and headed back to Redondo, tired and ready to collapse… And start writing this post. A real exciting life I’m living, I know.

While the sessions and critiques I attended weren’t the most uplifting things compared to all the fun I had yesterday, I still appreciated the chance to learn a lot.

Though honestly, I think I appreciated the chance to spend time with my friends on the paper more. Pretty sure I was the only person besides Briggetta at the convention yesterday, so having everyone together today was super cool!

With that said, tomorrow should be even more interesting from that point of view. Not only am I going to be giving my Milo Yiannopoulos presentation at 3:30 p.m., but I should be receiving an award at the ceremony that’s going to be closing out the conference.

Whatever I write for tomorrow should be much more fun and excitable as a result, so stay tuned for that!

January 30, 2017 Articles Published

Like I said in my last post, it’s been a long weekend.  After staying up for at least 27 hours writing and working, I’m looking forward to having a week off to focus on my schoolwork, especially since our staff writers are starting to work on stories.

As much as I enjoy writing, it’ll be nice not to have the editorial board stuck filling an entire paper on our own.

However, I’d say that the extra amount of time and effort I put in alongside my other editors was well worth the trouble, since the issue we produced is a really nice one.  We have our large two-story coverage of the Point-In-Time homeless census written by me, my co-News Editor Sarah and our Managing Editor Micah, but there are also plenty of other stories worth reading.

One of those stories is a small read of the general campus climate following President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel for some in the international community that was put in place last Friday.  There are also stories on the new parking spaces available for CSUF students, an art exhibit with traditionally Japanese-styled artwork depicting various modern-day issues and the other story I wrote about the Titan Direct Access pilot program that has been introduced by Titan Shops and the campus Information Technology (IT) Department.

There’s more than that too, and in my opinion, the paper is worth throwing up here for you guys to see yourselves:

In case you have trouble seeing it you can look at the digital version of the publication here on Issuu.

I’m still pretty exhausted though, honestly.  There’s some homework I have to do… But really, I think I’m going to take a nap first.

If you want to see the story I wrote about the Titan Direct Access program, you can see it here. You can also see the story Sarah and I wrote about the homeless people our groups encountered during the Point-In-Time Count here.  If you’re interested in seeing more, my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan can be found through the link over on the right!

September 20, 2016 Article Published

This is a few days late, but I’ve had the link to this article up on WordPress for a little while now, so I figure I should still make a post.

For the issue of the Daily Titan published on Tuesday, I wrote an article about the Titan Student Union (TSU) Annual Student Art Show that opened Monday with an artists reception.  At a word count just around 1,000, it’s a real doozy of a story.  However, if you ask me, it’s a good article worthy of that kind of extended word count.

Though a chunk of the story focuses specifically on the reception itself, most of it actually covers things surrounding the show, such as the process of putting it together and the process of purchasing artwork by the Titan Student Center (TSC) Governing Board.  I talked to the TSU Gallery Coordinator and the Chair of the TSC Governing Board to try and get as much info on everything related to the show as possible.

Really, the Governing Board aspect was what made the story especially interesting to me.  Already the event was cool because of how it engages the student body with great art, whether they be artists or not, but then I learned it has a much larger significance.  The annual art show has been held for more than two decades, and each year the pieces are examined by the TSC Art Acquisition committee (now absorbed into the Programs & Services committee).  The best pieces are actually bought out by the Board and then put up all around the school.  There’s student artwork from this particular show up in the TSU, the Student Recreation Center and at the Irvine campus.

I also talked to a couple of CSUF students that had their pieces up in the show as well, giving things an interesting balance of artistic intent, event planning and bureaucratic processes.

While the story was really fun for me to write, it was also a bit of an overwhelming one in combination with other things that were going on at the time.  A thousand word story on top of running the news desk for the Titan is already a struggle, but add in more things to juggle like homework in my four classes this semester… It gets busy pretty fast.  Not that being busy is necessarily bad, as I’m in the camp that being busy is better than being bored, but I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a stressful couple of days.

If you want to see the story in its entirety, you can see it here.  You can also check out my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan through the link over on the right!