Tag: DT

Saying Sayonara to 2018

Saying Sayonara to 2018

I’m sure most people would agree that 2018 was a maddening political clusterfuck, no matter which side of the aisle or where in the world you sit.

While I can’t help but agree with the hope of moving past that in the new year… At the same time, I sort of disconnected myself from the news-y world in 2018 and focused a lot more on myself.

Overall that wasn’t a bad decision. A lot of nice things came out of the more chill personal year!

For instance, all the video games I played. Did my big splurge on that yesterday so you don’t have to be bogged down with it here.

This post is more about my actual life and times.

Seemingly the most poignant place to start charting out my year is with my health. That feels ironic considering the first week of Winter Break was spent dying in bed, but I’m talking about the grand scheme of things.

A sizable chunk of my 2017 year in review was devoted to finding out about my blood disorder, ITP, and crazy things like the hospital stay that resulted from our early attempts to treat it.

It’s kind of insane to think that we’re more than a year out from that now, especially since so much of my stress at the time was getting better enough to cover Milo Yiannopoulos at Halloween.

Equally hard to believe I spoke at a conference about that coverage this year.

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He’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Tangent aside, this year I never had a big medical scare. In fact, the whole incident inspired me to be better to myself, as this summer I started regularly going to the gym for the first time.

Even lost a little bit of weight in the process. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if a few weeks of holiday eating and falling behind while sick reversed that progress.

The summer was also significant to my personal growth this year because I started my Summer 2018 Initiative: Writing something here on my blog every day.

My drive to force myself to become better at my craft each and every day persisted past the summer and into the fall semester. Then my buddy Spencer encouraged me to try to be concise with all of my posts for the sake of practicing, which has definitely helped.

You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve cut an extra 500 words off of these since.

Speaking of, 2018 was when I turned 21 and got to enjoy some of the perks of that! Like going to comedy shows at bars. Or meeting up with friends at bars to celebrate things.

Sure, I may have found out I’m not a fan of drinking, but a whole new world of spending time with people has opened up.

Back to the original point though. Putting more effort into my blog has proven fruitful, because as it turns out posting something every day really drives up that website traffic:

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Can’t wait to see how big that bar gets in 2019 when I hopefully get a whole year of pseudo-daily posts out!

Also on the media front, I finally caved and got a few new gizmos to play with this year. Instagram, Paypal, LinkedIn, Discord…

I don’t know that I’d say any of them have significantly impacted my life per-say, but Instagram and LinkedIn have been interesting insights into the world of photo-based and work-based media.

Ah, did I say the dreaded “w” word? Guess I should talk about that too.

2018 was a bizarre transitional period for work. The spring semester had me stepping down as an editor at the Daily Titan so I could focus on writing for the journalism capstone class.

Some really great articles came out of that, including fun reviews, covering the Sports Clubs Inter-Club Council and this soon-to-be award-winning piece about restaurant gradings around campus.

However, I decided not to return to the paper for the fall semester. Gave more priority to my major and minor classes, knowing graduation is slowly rearing its ugly head.

Quicker than I thought it would be at the beginning of 2018, I should say. A really happy part of the year was finally finding a mentor for my Senior Honors Project and working things out with the program director to graduate on-time rather than needing an extra semester!

On top of that, I won a pretty huge scholarship over the summer and followed that up by receiving a promotion at Gladeo to head the reporter-interns. Not only did I get to do some really cool interviews and stories, I also got to start working on management outside of the school paper.

Also I covered Obama for Boom.

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Enough said.

I suppose that really caps off all the big things I can recall. Sure there were some smaller things like going on my first real date with a girl, cracking open my old desktop and finding some wonderful things and finally shaving my beard for the first time since 2016.

But otherwise that seems like as much fellating myself as I can handle for one year.

So! Here’s hoping even more great things happen in 2019, where it seems I’m slated to finally move past my schooling days and enter the workforce full-time.

Yikes.

Let me know about some of the great things that happened with you this year, with all the negativity buzzing around on TV I’d absolutely love to hear why 2018 was great for people!

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!

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:

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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

Editorializing

Apparently I’m such a good Daily Titan employee that even after leaving the staff I’m still winning awards and getting copy filled in print.

Is something I would say if I were being self-serving and full of myself. Because yes, I am here to talk about how I technically have some sort of byline in the Daily Titan today.

It’s just a bit more complicated than that. So this post is going to be dedicated more to me figuring out exactly how I want to classify this than it is just talking about what it is in detail.

However I can’t just be vague and dance around things forever, so here’s some context.

The president of Cal State Fullerton’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter whipped up an editorial to run in the paper regarding President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric in the aftermath of events like the bomb threats last week.

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The editorial was meant to coincide with a statement put out by the national SPJ President Alex Tarquinio a few weeks back. Pretty much everyone on the board for our SPJ chapter got to read over the piece, comment our potential concerns and sign off on it in the end.

It’s hard not to argue that President Trump’s rhetoric has caused or at least perpetuated some issues for members of the press as well as the general public, so I was plenty willing to sign my name to the statement. Overall it actually made for a cool little coming together group moment that I haven’t gotten a lot of thanks to my asymmetrical schedule compared to the rest of the board people.

I’m just not entirely sure whether or not I can now take the statement and use it as an example of something I was involved with as an SPJ board member. Technically yes, my name is on it and it’s a statement by the board as a whole. But I didn’t really do a lot of work for it.

So if I put the editorial in my list of published stories, would that be weird? Should I make a separate category for things I’ve done as a part of SPJ and include this as a part of that page?

I’m not entirely sure what the proper etiquette would be.

Honestly I don’t think it matters all that much either, but these small issues always seem to be what stress me out the most. See my prior post where I talk about trying to come up with a ‘working title’ for my Honors project in spite of the fact that it literally didn’t matter.

I won’t bore you all much longer with my meaningless internal debate about whether I can credit myself for being part of a group that does a thing.

To end this short post off, I also wanted to give a quick shout out to this issue of the Daily Titan as a whole. While I’ve been reading their stories on my own time, I obviously haven’t put as much energy into promoting the paper as a whole since I’m not on staff this semester. That doesn’t mean the story quality is any worse however, and they’re still worth giving props where it’s due.

For instance, I really like the Midterm voter guide this semester.

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This first page has a great infographic map about voting locations around CSUF, and there’s more details within regarding the congressional races relevant to Fullerton and little blurbs on each of the California propositions.

It all looks really nice and is way more simple overall than some special issues I’ve been a part of in the past, which I would argue is really effective.

So… Yeah.

Support your local papers everyone. They’re important.

Life finds a Way

Don’t worry, I’m not here to complain about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom again.

Even though I’m sure I definitely could.

In my somewhat exhausted, mediocre blog post from yesterday which I completely understand if you all skipped, I mentioned that one of the highlights of the day was finally finding a mentor for my Senior Honors Project.

It has been a long time in the making, as I was supposed to find a mentor and get a proposal for my project signed off on last semester. However, I didn’t feel very confident with my project premise at the time. At least not confident enough to ask anyone to stick with me for a year on a large venture.

So I took the summer to work on the overall premise of my novel, hashing out the plot and some of the major characters. All of it was under the impression that I’d come back to campus this semester and find someone to work with me right away.

For the most part I accomplished step one, getting myself to a place of comfort with my overall idea.

However, finding someone to work with was much more difficult.

I’ve approached a good number of different professors in the Comm Department, English Department and Honors Program over the last few weeks and had very little luck.

The reasons varied, usually fitting into one of three categories. Either they had no interest in working on an Honors Project, were too busy working on other things to devote enough time or had some extraneous circumstance preventing them from helping — despite wanting to.

It was frustrating and somewhat disheartening to me, even if I completely understood where most everyone was coming from.

Though it wasn’t all negative, as many of the people I talked with were able to offer various pieces of advice that I’ve since incorporated into my ideas for the story and how I’ll be processing the writing of it.

It simply became more of a concern under the upcoming time crunch of having to register for classes at the end of October. Because one of the main drives behind finding a mentor is that multiple independent study classes are required for the project, and your mentor grades you for it.

I approached Professor McConnell, who’s one of the main Honors instructors that helps students through the project planning stage, on Monday expressing concerns that I was not having a lot of luck. He recommended a few more teachers that I should try and talk to, and said if I continued to have trouble we’d take some more drastic measures down the line.

One of the teachers he had suggested was Holly Rizzo, who I’m currently taking Mass Media Ethics with. We’ve had a few conversations in the past and I genuinely enjoy chatting with her and being in her class, so it seemed like a decent option to try.

Within about 30 minutes of asking, we had already agreed to work together. It all just clicked so well for a number of different reasons.

After months of anguish and frustration, I finally had a mentor. It felt awesome. And I had Professor McConnell to thank for pushing me in the right direction.

Or so I thought.

The story continued today, when I talked with McConnell after our class — he teaches the Evolution and Creation course I’ve been enjoying thus far and have talked about a couple times. Namely with that short thing I did on Charles Darwin.

He was really excited to hear that everything had worked out so perfectly, as I was. Said it made his day even, and that I deserved to work with someone who was eager to work with me.

Felt good to hear him say that.

But then… He pointed out that he had no idea who I was talking about with the person I’d taken on as a mentor.

As it turns out, Rizzo was not the person he has recommended I talk to.

He had recommended I talk to Heather Osborne-Thompson, a professor in the CTVA department (who I talked to at one point for a story in the Daily Titan last semester, as a fun fact for you all).

Somehow or another I took that as Holly Ocasio-Rizzo.

Signals were very much crossed somewhere along the lines. I blame the very similar H & O name structures, and probably the fact that I was busy being worried about my midterm for Rizzo the next day.

Yet, despite the fact that I had gone somewhere he did not suggest, it all worked out almost too perfectly. Professor Rizzo has experience with Honors projects that are eerily similar to what I’m working on now, and she had a bunch of really interesting ideas to present that got me more excited for what I’m working on.

I’m not a very religious person. My family kind of lives by the moniker that we’re bad Jews.

But I would be willing to argue that some semblance of fate weaved its way into this series of events. Because it really does all seem to have worked out miraculously well.

Hopefully that will continue to be a pattern with my Honors project stuff. After all, now that I’ll be getting past this phase I’ve been held up at over the last couple months, I’ll probably have a lot more to talk about around here.

And boy am I excited about it!

Condensation

Once again I’m a bit under the weather. Likely a side effect of the shot I received from the doctor yesterday.

So I don’t have a whole lot of energy to muster up for this blog post, and I won’t be writing too much as a result. Just consider this one of those filler pieces I like to write once in a while to keep myself writing.

That said, my not writing a lot actually strikes me as something thematically appropriate for the subject of the post that I have in mind.

Last night I spent some time over at a bar in Santa Ana as part of a celebratory good bye party for the man who was Editor in Chief of the Daily Titan when I first got there a few years ago, Rudy. He just recently got a new position at NBC working in Philadelphia, so a bunch of people from his time at the Titan threw him a surprise party.

Pretty appreciative that I got looped into the whole thing, considering a big chunk of my journalism career would not have been possible without him and Liz, the Managing Editor at the time, hiring me.

I know that’s a lot to unpack, namely the fact that I was out being social at a bar. Because it’s still kind of a lot to unpack for me as well.

Such a strange sensation to be old enough for social drinking…

If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t drink beyond a few sips of one beer — and that was mostly out of social obligation. Would’ve been rude if I didn’t touch the drink that Spencer got for me.

I was driving however, so I mostly did avoid it.

Spencer actually plays more of a role in this than just the guy who bought me a beer. He was the News Editor that first semester I jumped on the Titan, and I actually attribute a lot of my early college tutelage and growth to the guy. We’ve kept up a good amount since than as well, as he often liked to visit the newsroom whenever he was local reporting on something like City Council.

While we talked at the party, he mentioned reading these posts once in a while (which still frankly shocks me whenever I hear someone I know irl reading these, despite the fact that I literally post them on Twitter and Facebook for that exact reason).

One of his suggestions was trying to be a bit more concise with my blog posts.

It’s something I’ve thought about a bit since I first started up this project, but I usually usher those thoughts away considering it’s a personal blog and I approach it with the mindset of a repository for my thoughts and long-form writing BS.

But maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to try and keep things cleaner around here. That way it’s less of a random dumping place and more of a legitimate writing practice.

So I’m going to be trying that from here on, as best I can. Spencer suggested going for 1,000-1,200 words max, and that seems like a good benchmark.

Granted, I might not hit it with some stuff like my Fire Emblem posts, where a couple hundred words are dedicated to copying their skills out anyway, but we’ll see. Seems like that’s a good place to take this blog next to make it more professional.

That or redesigning it one of these days. Another thing I’ve been putting off for literal years now.

But anyway, thanks a bunch for reading this stuff Spencer, and for having my back. I had a great time catching up with you and a bunch of other folks last night, and I’m glad that I can take a little bit of it forward with stuff like this!

I would post some of the photos of the group that we took last night, but it might be weird for people I don’t talk to very much. So my apologies for the lack of photography accompanying my ramblings today.

Bringing things up-to-date

I’ve been a little bit sparse on content the last couple days, but I’m just chalking that up to the nature of the beast now that school is in full swing.

Just walked out of my three-hour class that actually took three hours this week, and I still have another quiz tomorrow. So I’m not exactly all that free even as I write this short bit up.

But I figured I should put something out there. That something just so happens to be a really, really short little life/work update. Because outside of just doing school things, I’ve also managed to update some of my social medias.

That’s always a fun topic to talk about, right?

Well no matter how you answered that question you’re in luck. If you enjoy talking about social media updates, here we are talking about t! But if you don’t, I’m basically at the end of this post anyway.

The biggest thing I’ve done over the last few days was bring this here blog up-to-date. Finally went through the Daily Titan page to reflect the fact that I’m not on staff this semester, the Gladeo Page to reflect my new position as Managing Editor and the Boom page to add a quick reflection of the fact that part of my work with them is live-tweeting events.

You know. Now that I did that for the Obama thing.

(You can see all of this through the links over on the right, by the way)

I also went onto my LinkedIn and added a portion about my Obama event coverage there. Which was actually kind of cool because I found out you can attach a specific Tweet into your work experience section.

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When you click on the link it opens up as the full Tweet and kinda looks fancy. I promise.

And I like it.

That’s really about all I have to say today, however. Just consider it a short little reminder to myself that yeah, I’m still hoping to do something on here (mostly) every day, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the Citizen Kane of blog posts to qualify.

Though tomorrow I may or may not post about my thoughts on the Nintendo Direct I heard is happening, so that should be more exciting.

Look forward to that, if so.

A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start

So missing a blog post on the first day of the month might not be a great sign for my productivity going forward. But I was busy at my friend’s 21st birthday party, so I’ll just consider it a quick break.

Clearly not a very long break however, as here I am again to share my thoughts of the day with the world.

My thoughts today are potentially more interesting than most. Or at least more game-changing for me personally.

As you can tell by my featured image, I shed some fur today.

I decided to shave my beard off.

It has actually been a long time coming, all things considered. I started growing my beard out almost two years ago as part of a ‘No Shave November’ competition held by the Daily Titan.

Fun fact, I won that contest. Got myself a bottle of shaving cream out of it.

Since then I decided to keep my hair grown out. I liked the more mature look and it gave me the chance to practice adult things like trimming and shaping my hair.

So for about a year-and-10-months now, I have been far away from the baby face I once was, always seen as the youngest person in whatever environment I came into.

But I’ve always been somewhat unhappy with the beard. It was my first time trying to grow anything out and it wound up coming in rather patchy, especially on my chin.

After having a bit of a heart-to-heart with my sister last night, I decided it was time to finally go clean once again.

Of course I captured the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots, anticipating this would make for a good blog post today.

Thus, here I am after waking up this morning. Fully bearded:

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Nice and scruffy. Truly befitting the Super Beard Bros fandom.

First step was taking a trimmer to the forest on my face. As per Aly’s request, I tried doing some more silly looks along the way.

Here’s me with a soul patch and a mustache:

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As you can tell I can’t really stop laughing because I look like a total loser this way.

So I quickly trimmed it down some more. Starting with the beard, that way I could just be soul patch man:

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Also not really me, but it looked better than with the mustache. Though the mustache was still pretty heavily rooted in there.

So once everything was trimmed down, I finally took a more close-shaving razor to my cheeks and came out like this:

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Welcome back, baby face.

Obviously it’s still a little rough around the edges, but I think I’ll solve that by taking a second pass at shaving either tonight or tomorrow after a shower.

Other things I’m sure you’ll notice include my eyebrows, which I had some help plucking so I didn’t look like Ed from Ed, Edd and Eddy, the much more bright-and-shiny look in my eyes as it’s clear I’ve woken up more by then and some of the acne earthed up by removing the bearded coating that once protected it.

Hopefully that last part will clear up in time now that it’s exposed and I can work at cleaning it more.

But yes, welcome back baby face Jason. I hope it’s a look you all enjoy, because now that I’ve gone to the effort of cleaning up I might as well keep it for a while.

Who knows, maybe with everything more clear it’ll be that much more obvious when I lose more weight and my double chin disappears. Hopefully.

Before I end this off, I would also like to give an extra special shout out to my sister, who hung out with me throughout the process of shaving and took all of my photos so I didn’t look like an idiot taking selfies in the mirror.

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You’re the best, Aly. Love you ❤️

Receiving the Carl Greenberg Scholarship

At first, I figured today was going to be a day where I would talk all about the trailer that was dropped about the upcoming Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee games.

But something much more important came up after I started writing that which feels like a better conversation topic for the day. So sorry Pokémon, you’ve been sidelined.

Today I received word from the Scholarship Chair of the Society of Professional Journalist’s Los Angeles branch that I have been awarded the Carl Greenberg Scholarship for Political and Investigative Reporting.

Frankly, that’s pretty kick-ass and I’m excited about it!

According to the SPJLA website, the scholarship is “awarded to a college student pursuing investigative or political reporting,” named after a LA Times political reporter “famed for being singled out by Richard Nixon as the only reporter who covered him ‘fairly.'”

So not only am I excited about the fact that I won something I applied for kind of out of the blue — mostly as something to do early on in the summer when I was sitting around — but I’m also humbled at the fact that I’ve been recognized to sit in a pantheon which sounds so prestigious. Helps give some perspective to the work I’ve had the pleasure of doing, and all those other clichés that must be expected from an awards acceptance speech of sorts.

Though to be completely honest, the $1,000 that comes with it certainly helps pique my interest.

What can I say, prestige is nice and all, but so is food and gas when you’re a broke college student.

As are plenty of new video games coming soon, but don’t tell the nominating committee that.

In celebration of my award, I figured I would throw out this short post as both a way of logging the fact that I earned this recognition and as a way of slyly promoting myself.

You’ve all seen those articles out of major newspapers that showcase stories which received accolades. Hell, I even wrote an article in that vein for the Daily Titan at the end of the Spring 2018 semester.

So consider the bottom of this blog post one of those for me. I submitted three articles alongside my scholarship application, and I’m going to link out to each of them here.

Before I do, I just wanted to thank the SPJLA Scholarship Chair Richard Saxton, who helped let me know what I needed to do to apply, and all the other members of the Scholarship Committee for this awesome opportunity. Here’s to many more hopefully coming in the near future!


This article has arguably been one of my proudest achievements as a journalist thus far. That could be said for most of the stories in this small list alone, sure, but there’s so much history to my coverage of Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to CSUF that I consider it a saga.

Kicking the whole thing off was an article that was weeks in the making. It began as simple rumors that supposedly there were plans in the work to bring the conservative provocateur to campus based on a petition online to keep controversial figures off campus. Based on that rumor I talked to a myriad of sources and eventually put out this fairly large piece covering the entire process of how one can bring a speaker to campus in light of the confirmation that Yiannopoulos’ visit was in the works.

And that isn’t even going into all of the coverage of the Canin scandal from the semester prior that helped build my relations with the College Republicans Club enough to help them trust my reporting.

Even during that initial coverage I knew the plan was to bring the man to campus on Halloween. At the point this initial piece was published, however, I kept that to myself in case the reporting of that information changed the plans at hand in any significant way.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Our semester was thus far filled with coverage of Yiannopoulos’ visit from any conceivable angle from myself and other members of the news desk staff. Eventually that culminated in a massive three-story package of a paper that went on to receive a special edition reprint, got me a talking head spot on NPR’s ‘Take Two’ and earned a number of accolades at the most recent LA Press Club Awards.

Plus Milo himself said on Facebook that he liked how balanced I was with the story on his speech. Never would have expected that, but it’s something I’ll take on as a badge of pride considering I didn’t get that praise while also upsetting the other side of the aisle.

I could talk about this article all day, but then we’d be here all day. Nobody really wants that.

So check it out if you haven’t, and see all of the reporting that emerged as a result while you’re at it.

My coverage of Project Rebound goes back a ways. Multiple semesters, in fact, unlike the one-semester shots of the other articles on this list.

I was the person who covered the story when the program, which helps offer previously incarcerated individuals an opportunity to earn their degrees and avoid recidivism, first came to campus. At that point I made friends with the program’s director, Brady Heiner, and its brand new coordinator, Romarilyn Ralston.

At least once a semester I try to go back and see the Project Rebound folks because, despite obviously being objective in my reporting, I do feel the cause is an important and righteous one.

The story I used for this scholarship application is my most recent piece about the program: A profile of its coordinator, Romarilyn.

It started as an assignment for my Multimedia Journalism class, and the actual meat of where it originated comes in the form of the video I produced alongside the written article. It’s embedded within the story if you haven’t seen it, and it’s probably my most proud achievement in a multimedia realm.

Though that being said, her story is also incredibly powerful, and certainly one of those stepping-stones that I would argue got me more invested in the idea that Features are a powerful tool for telling other people’s stories more than they are extra avenues of reporting.

Another piece stemming from my work with the Daily Titan’s advisor as a part of her Investigative Reporting class, the homeless coverage I was a part of is another ‘saga’ in my reporting experience thus far that I remember fondly.

Certain specific events, like our coverage of the Point-In-Time count toward the beginning of that semester, are things I’ll never forget.

However, the coverage of Mercy House I did alongside Roxana Paul is another thing I’ll always hold dear. It fits into a similar vein as the Romarilyn story I talked about above, as it gave a hard news-focused kid the opportunity to do slightly more Features-based coverage by actually going out and talking with some of the homeless population in Orange County.

Yet it was also a story steeped in hard news, covering the numbers with how much help is available in the County and talking to the people who provide the aid on the ground.

There are plenty of other elements I could dive into regarding this story. It was one of the first time I took pictures for my own article, it had graphics and other multimedia elements, it was part of a wonderful series put together by a group of really talented reporters. On top of that, it helped me out further last semester when I assisted with the coverage of Santa Ana clearing out whatever homeless population was living along the riverbed.

It’s another story I would consider one of my most in-depth and powerful. So read it if you haven’t, and check out the other Homeless in OC coverage the Titan did as well!