Locking myself away in the house wound up being a really positive thing—as it usually is, in my experience. I got the opportunity to chip away at a lot of my work, turning in a Career Profile on being a UX researcher (a career I really didn’t know existed, but one with a lot of resources online) and a Spotlight featuring a very special person.
I’m going to wait until it publishes to really go off about that, because it’ll look much better with the story’s context.
Just know that I’m excited.
Between those two pieces I racked up almost 10 hours of work today alone. As a result I’ve just broken past 100 of my 120-hour requirement for Comm 495-T, that internship class I need to graduate.
My final report for the class isn’t due until May 3 and the timesheet isn’t due until May 10. I’m fairly certain I can bust out the remaining 20 hours by then.
Especially considering I still have my Profile/Spotlight on Dr. Wesley to write.
And a video interview to schedule.
And the blog-related side project that kind of went on the back burner for a while.
Somewhere in there I’ll have the rest of my time served and still find the chance to do whatever else I have. Give my Honors project presentation and write two more gaming papers. All that fun stuff.
After putting in all that time today I’m a little weary of continuing to stare at this screen and type, so I won’t make this post too long.
Instead I’m going to turn my attention to the T.V. screen, nosh on some Milk Duds and watch Futurama with my family.
And you know. Not type stuff.
Even though re-watching episodes of that show is a consistent reminder of how brilliant it was, a topic that could theoretically fill tons of copy on my blog.
Tomorrow I’ll try to post something a little more insightful, I just wanted to write something up so I didn’t have a gap. That something may just be lackluster teasers in overly verbose prose, but if that doesn’t describe my life in a nutshell I don’t know what would.
It certainly wouldn’t be Game of Thrones. Because I ain’t ever watched that junk.
Maybe one day. But for now, take that people who have spent all day talking about the last season’s opening.
I kid of course. Out of all the blog posts I’ve ever written, a football-related piece is far from the one I’m looking to blow out of the park.
It just so happens that the only thing I’ve done today beyond researching history for my novel is watch the Superb Owl. So as much as I could care less about football, it might as well serve some kind of grander purpose.
Even though that grander purpose was definitely not to get me more invested in the sport.
Because hoo boy, I’m not a fan and even I could tell that Super Bowl 53 was lame.
The game was tied up 3 – 3 from field goals alone until the fourth quarter. There the Patriots scored the first touchdown of the game and a subsequent second field goal to end things 13 – 3.
As much as I couldn’t care less, at the very least I figured I should root for the Rams considering they’re a Los Angeles team. It’s just too bad they lost after an excruciatingly boring game.
The commercials weren’t even that special, making it so the one reprieve from sportball didn’t balance out the boring game.
Welcome to the post talking about the other things I was referring to there.
Yeah I bet you weren’t expecting a conversation about Funko Pops, were you? They don’t exactly seem like the kind of thing in my area of interest.
I’ll admit that they aren’t for the most part. In fact, I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops overall as my clickbait-y title might suggest.
If anything I’m willing to admit they’re rather cute for the most part. Plus I have been known to collect a somewhat useless series of plastic figurines in the past myself.
So really there’s no reason I should hate this fairly harmless Hot Topic-stuffing collectible mogul, right?
See I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops as an inherit object that exists. What I absolutely abhor is the corporate design mentality surrounding Funko Pops.
As anyone who knows anything about Funko Pops must know, there are Funko Pops that exist for literally anything AND everything.
You like anime? Pick your favorite, there’s a series of Pops to go with them.
You like HBO television series like Westworld? God knows I do, and there’s a series of Pops to go with them.
You like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? You like video games? You like football? Actual real life football?
Because there are pops for all of those things and an infinite amount of other things I won’t bother to go into because look at this catalog. It’s nuts.
Especially the whole sports side of things. Side-rant I get being in love with sports and following, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers if you’re super into baseball. It’s just bizarre to have a series of collectible figurines representing actual real people that you can stick in your house.
But okay you get the point. If you’ve got an interest, Funko has a Pop to fit it.
Inherently I don’t have a problem with this business model. The fact that this company has invented a series of figurines so simple that literally any form of media can be molded into it is genius, and something the whole world probably wishes they figured out first.
As someone who has played many video games to 100 percent completion, and thrives on games like Monster Hunter where the whole idea is to collect exclusive bits and pieces of monsters to create new specialty armor, I can understand the itch many collectors have when it comes to Funko.
So yeah, if you want to go out and collect Funko Pops, more power to you. My family certainly does, and there are series I’d probably be more than willing to pay for a full collection of.
But that’s only considering the ‘first edition’ idea of these Pops. My problem comes with the alternate forms.
“Wow Jason, that’s ironic. You don’t like Funko Pops for producing alternate versions of characters when you talk endlessly about rare variants of characters in Fire Emblem Heroes like they’re the second coming. What a hypocrite.”
Yeah I hear you audience, I know.
It’s no secret that I appreciate ‘special editions’ as much as the next guy. But Fire Emblem Heroes and Funko Pops are a little different at their core.
In FEH, the special variant units are just as free-to-start as every other unit in the game. Sure there are practices under the surface that encourage players to eventually spend money, like releasing five valuable banners in a row with few orb giveaways in between, but still.
You could just as easily start the game when a holiday banner is running and be just as likely to receive that unit with free orbs as anyone else.
With Funko Pops, every single one costs money. Just as much, if not more money in fact.
Do you like Deadpool? Okay, here’s a Deadpool figurine. That’ll be a nice little thing to display to show off your interest in the character.
“Alright, alright we get it,” I hear you in the audience say.
I sure hope you do. With the simplicity of the Funko Pop formula, any single character can be given infinite minor modifications and be considered a special variant.
But unlike the model in FEH, where you could theoretically earn the special version for free, every single Funko costs real life money.
Now there are arguments to be made that these are physical objects rather than digital characters in a video, and thus there’s more value to collecting them over time in terms of things like eventual trading or simply selling collections much like with comic books and vinyl records.
There’s validity to that idea. But that isn’t really what I’m here to discuss.
What I’m here to discuss is the fact that a business model allowing for infinite cash cow-ing on the same property over and over and over again, rather than keeping to a finite cap of collectability, is inherently infuriating.
I would be more than happy to spend 60 bucks over the course of a few months to collect five Deadpool figurines based on characters from the movies if I enjoyed them that much. What I wouldn’t be happy doing is spending literally all of my money for forever to keep up with every ‘left hand raised 60 degrees’ variation that can be squeezed out.
That’s not even just for Deadpool too, as much as I keep harping on him. He just happens to be a good example of a character that lends himself to more ridiculous, outlandish variations and repeated re-releases. Any character can have a variant where they wear a different outfit or hold a new pose.
Funko Pops certainly aren’t the first to abuse this model, but they abuse it pretty hard. It’s probably rather petty to be bashing them so hard for it out of nowhere, but I’ve seen similar ideas ruin things I’ve loved in the past.
Shuffle was a spin-off game released first on the Nintendo 3DS and then on mobile devices in 2015. It was something of a continuation of the Trozei and Battle Trozei series that became a free-to-start microtransaction-laden title. And I adored it.
Seriously, for the longest time if you had asked me what game handles the microtransaction system most fairly, it would have been Pokémon Shuffle. I played this damn game on my 3DS for years, and I have distinct memories of doing so both on my high school and college campuses.
The game ran on an ‘energy’ system, where you could play five games at a time before needing to wait for everything to recharge. Unless you spent gems, the in-game currency you could buy with real life currency.
There are also a bunch of other details related to items you can either grind out or purchase, but the energy was the important thing to me. See those five hearts of energy recharged at a rate of a half hour per heart.
In other words, you could play a full set of games every two-and-a-half hours. Compared to a lot of other games with energy or stamina caps, this was insanely generous.
For a student like me, it essentially meant I could play out my games, go to whatever class I had, then get out to find a full set of energy hearts waiting to be used. Combine this with the semi-regular updates (though eventually the levels got kind of ridiculously difficult) and frequent special in-game events, and I was more than happy to play for years.
But then I stopped. You know why I stopped?
Just look at this insanity.
My screenshot here hasn’t even captured half of the special variants for Pikachu alone. There are Pikachu wearing every cap that Ash ever wore in the anime. Pikachu wearing costumes modeled after Legendary Pokémon. Hell there’s a Rayquaza costume Pikachu AND a shiny Rayquaza costume Pikachu.
Again, Pikachu isn’t the only problem, but he’s emblematic of it. Everything technically started with the ‘winking’ starter Pokémon line.
This ridiculous cash cow, the infinite special variant system, is what burned me out of Pokémon Shuffle in the end. I was more than happy to keep playing to collect all 700+ Pokémon as a mark of personal completion should they have gotten that far.
But because the game’s creators wanted a way to keep the game going forever and come up with more challenging ways of potentially forcing players to spend money on limited time only extra special dudes, I didn’t feel like it was worth keeping up anymore.
Funko Pops embody the same problem, in my opinion. If you’re going to release the same figures over and over and over again with slight variations just to squeeze out as much money as possible, then why should anyone bother trying to collect them all in the first place?
I’m sure other people will have their justifications for it, but that’s a path I can’t see myself going down. I’d much rather stick with collecting something finite in my real world collectibles. Something I can eventually look at and say ‘this is a complete set.’
That’s my rant for the day. What do you think? Is the idea of infinite variation healthy for a brand like Funko? Or is it detrimental in their long-term viability as a reasonable company, as I’m more inclined to believe.
Though obviously I’m probably in the wrong since, let’s be real, people will continue to buy those things no matter what I say. So the more they can print up the more money they’ll make.
Having just wrapped up the second season finale of Westworld, HBO’s killer hit about robots populating a Wild West theme park that slowly come to some semblance of consciousness, I can’t help but sit here and just…
Stare blankly at the wall. Because holy shit.
I’ll be honest. After the absolutely wonderful first season and everything the show did to subvert any and all ideas about what was happening through unreliable narrators and timeline fuckery, I figured the second season would be way more straight-forward and focused on the repercussions of the first.
Also on samurai. Because all of the promotional material leading into the second season featured glimpses of Shogun World, a feudal Japanese-themed park adjacent to West World.
Those portions of the season set in Shogun World were just as amazing as advertised, by the way.
But that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at is the fact that the second season of the show wound up once again subverting my expectations by creating an absolutely beautiful loop of events through multiple timelines and a twisted web of character actions and motivations.
The writing in the show is absolutely beautifully well-done and leaves no thread unresolved. Except for those that are clearly setting up events for season three, but that’s a more spoiler-ridden discussion that I’m not planning on going into since we’re so fresh off the episode’s release.
If you are interested in marinating in the world of spoilers and mind-blowing writing loops, I do have some solace for you. That’s a world that is adjacent to what I’m looking to chat about today.
I would imagine they might want the crazy speculation trade to run rampant for a few days to drudge up more interest, but I can’t argue about having tangible answers.
Reading through the small interview got me thinking about the fascinating dynamic that’s created between an artist or creator of any kind and those who take in the created work.
After essentially melting into a pile of my own brain goo after watching the constantly evolving and ramping finale to the show, it was almost jarring to watch one of the co-creators treat the exact same content with such a casual, omnipotent attitude.
But then it occurred to me. Of COURSE she’d be almost unreasonably casual about it. She’s known what was going to happen since before the physical show itself had a single frame recorded. All creators know what their works look like well before it’s observed by the public at large.
As someone who creates stories himself, both non-fiction stories and fictional ones (in my head at the very least), I suppose I’ve experienced the exact same thing. Seeing people come to see an article I’ve written is something that has made me feel really proud, even excited.
Despite the fact that it’s at a much smaller scale than a HBO hit series.
That scale is hard to imagine, but must be incredibly satisfying to experience. Thousands of people, hundreds of thousands even, all in the same place I currently am as a fan, all flooding the internet with messages of bewilderment and craving the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the content we just absorbed.
It must be insanely gratifying to not only watch those people come in, but to be able to provide them answers that have been in-the-works for not just all the weeks leading up to the show’s finale, but the months of production before that.
For a show like Westworld, that level of gratification is certainly warranted. I wish nothing but the best upon those who brought such a beautiful creation into the world for everyone to experience.
Especially one based on a cheese-y 70’s flick. Because the way that original idea became this new phenomenon is an incredible transformation in its own right.
The whole idea of bringing something into the world for others to experience that’s full of hopefully surprising developments has gotten me thinking more about my own personal works as well. Over the next few weeks I’m likely going to be working more on the proposal for the novel I’m going to write as my senior honors project, and I might just be posting things around here about that to gauge interest, acquire feedback or simply store my ideas for the future.
So stay tuned for that, if you’re interested in seeing what I’ll be cooking up!
Happy Father’s Day, everyone! I hope you have all had a great day with your families.
My sister and I typically have a tradition of cooking breakfast for holidays centered around mom and dad. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, etc. However, this year we decided to do something a little different by cooking dinner instead, since we had breakfast with the more extended family yesterday.
Figured that would make for perfect blog fodder tonight. Though I probably won’t spend too much time fiddling around here because of the whole. You know. Time with the family kind of stuff.
That in mind, hope you’re all ready for some Eggplant Parmesan.
After breakfast yesterday, Aly and I stopped at a grocery store to pick up everything we needed. Eggplant, bread crumbs, pasta, eggs, marinara sauce.
There was only one thing we missed… But I’ll discuss that later for anyone who cant figure out what just yet.
Using the eggs, along with some half-and-half, we made a batter to stick the eggplant slices in before coating them in the breadcrumbs.
From there the slices got fried, which was primarily my job since I’m fairly well known around these parts for being the guy who does things like cook the bacon.
Then once all of the eggplant was done we moved on to the rest of the meal while letting it stay warm in a 200 degree oven.
We hit the pasta and sauce at the same time, one on each stovetop.
Fun fact, Alyson decided to grab angel hair nests in some grandiose attempt to make our meals look fancy…
And I was right telling her that they would just fall apart in the water anyway.
So take that, Aly.
Once those portions were finished, the only step remaining was putting it all together:
Now, for the attentive viewers out there, you might notice that our Eggplant Parmesan was missing a little something.
… The parmesan.
Yeah somehow we managed to make a meal while completely forgetting an ingredient that literally comprises half the name of the dish.
It takes an impressive amount of screwing up to do that, frankly.
Luckily we had SOME cheese in the house to make the meal better. It just wound up being Eggplant Provolone more than Eggplant Parmesan in the end.
But hey, it was still just as tasty.
All we needed to wrap up the meal was a good old fashioned Western. Thank goodness Westworld was here to save the day.
Get it? It’s a spaghetti western.
I hope the joke was worth it, because the episode was heavy this week. Like… Wow.
But hey that’s neither here nor there. Again, I hope you all had a great Father’s Day, and thank you for making my silly series of cooking pictures a part of it.
As the weekend closes out with another relatively chill day, I find I don’t have a whole heck of a lot to talk about.
I don’t want to skip a day of writing, but at the same time I’d rather not fall into the clichéd territory of the post talking about how I don’t have anything to talk about. So instead, upon the advice of my sister, I’ll just debrief on exactly what I did today. Because why not?
The early morning was somewhat lazy. I slept in until the beast was roused by my parents, who wanted to make sure I was cognizant of the fact that they were leaving to go do chores with my grandparents and drop Aly off at a bowling party.
They figured after I spent time with the old folks the other day I’d probably prefer to stay home. Plus, someone needed to stay home to pick the girl up from her party, and as the third family member with a license and a car it all fit together perfectly.
Funny side story from this morning: My dad forgot his phone at home on the charger this morning. I found that out when I heard it ringing from upstairs, which is what led to me actually getting out of bed. I ran upstairs to see what was happening, only to find I’d missed the call coming in from mom’s phone by a matter of seconds.
The second I hit the icon to call her back, I heard my cell phone starting to ring.
So I had to head back down, at which point I missed the second call and also lost the connection from dad’s phone since I don’t have the password to unlock it.
I called them back from mine soon after to let them know I had his phone, but overall it played out like an Abbott and Costello routine.
Once I was up and about, I had the opportunity to relax a bit. While watching some videos and eating cereal — the true sign of a successful Sunday — I did some more research for some scholarships I’m planning on applying for as well as some research into profiles I’m working on for Gladeo.
Plus I did my daily activities on Duel Links and Fire Emblem Heroes. Always have to get those out of my system, even when Legendary Ryoma continues to screw me over. Only two days left for that event… So we’ll see how things turn out.
Eventually I got the call to chauffeur the young one. Her party was set to end at 2:00 p.m.
Naturally she let me know at 1:50 p.m. or so.
So I pulled all of my stuff together and drove out the actually somewhat considerable distance to a place called PV Bowl, which is a rather popular destination in my family since I found out about the place through staff bonding days on the High Tide back in high school.
Once I picked her up we decided to go to lunch. There’s a large shopping center right across the street from the bowling alley where we popped into a Jersey Mike’s, followed soon after by a trip to Yogurt Land. My choice than hers, respectively.
Because she had a bunch of homework to do (given she still has another three weeks or so left in the school year) we went home after that. Even though she insisted we go to blindly wander some other store as a further distraction. Unfortunately someone had to be the good brother in the relationship.
Of course, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t able to persuade me to watch a few Vine compilations when we got home. They’re about her favorite thing on the planet, and I do appreciate indulging in the endless gutter of internet creativity on occasion.
Soon enough my parents got home with the week’s groceries, but I managed to get out of putting them away by heading out with my dad on a longish car ride back in the direction of Palos Verdes to pick up some KFC. There are much closer KFCs to home, but he brought a cigar along so it was clearly a drive to blow off some steam.
I was willing to indulge the long ride with nice company. It was nice to have some alone time to chat, catch up on life.
When we got home the night was pretty quiet from there on out. Aly finished her homework, we all ate chicken, we looked over the upcoming California Primary ballot, we watched Westworld (as mind-blowing and wild as ever) and then I started writing this up.
Cliché aside I really didn’t have a lot to talk about tonight, but I’m somewhat impressed that I was able to get a solid 800 words or so just talking about my day. It was kinda fun to debrief too, honestly.
I’ll probably try to pivot back to a post with a more defined subject tomorrow, but if you’re interested in hearing me just chat more about my days in the future, let me know. It might become my fallback for more lazy days coming up, frankly.