But this year Jazz Under the Stars was a bit more hectic for the Rochlins, since we were in charge of the silent auction.
I say “we,” but all the credit goes to my Mom and Dad for picking up the project a week or two before the event to help a band program struggling with administrative issues. They rallied together 50 items comprised of even more bundled contributions and stayed up until 5:00 a.m. printing the sign-up sheets and programs.
All I did was help organize the goods and watch the auction tables that I helped set up and tear down.
Oh, and I did some social media stuff while I was at it:
But that’s just the money-side of the event. Naturally there was food: A mobile taco vendor, shaved ice and (my personal favorite) fried twist potatoes.
You’re not here for the food, though. That doesn’t work well over text.
You’re here for the music.
A number of different bands performed throughout the night. The Adams Middle School Band, the Redondo Union High School Jazz Bands (A + B) and combinations of the various bands with alumni.
The final song of the night, “Willowcrest,” was particularly special. It had a god damn bongo solo that actually rocked pretty hard.
But more importantly it featured a flute solo by my little sister.
It was a killer song… And it was very long. Easily six or seven minutes long as jazz tends to do.
I recorded the whole piece for you all to enjoy, including the multi-minute long introduction from Vizcarra and the band bowing at the end. Check it out if you want some smooth jams:
Just before that piece, I recorded the same band’s performance of “Act Your Age” from a totally different angle.
Decided I would try to shake things up with my cinematography.
I got pretty into it after my Dad asked me to be the point man running his Facebook livestream of the event for a while. It was a relatively new experience for me, and even though I think three people were watching at most it was a lot of fun.
Had to take the extra initiative and photograph myself recording the event, because that’s what any good media-focused journalist would do. Right?
Well maybe not, but I wanted to keep record of my own exploits either way.
I had a lot of fun taking in the music and putting my skills to work basically running social media — at least for my family.
Especially because doing so gave me the chance to nab some wonderful candids.
For those of you who don’t know, GDQ is a series of video game marathons where games are played for record times, under conditions ranging from basic 100 percent completion to multi-player races and even bizarre hacks like randomizers.
All to raise money for charity while showing off cool tricks. Definitely worth supporting.
GDQ aside, after breakfast I made my way to Fullerton for the semester’s last CSUF Society of Professional Journalists meeting.
We ate pizza, discussed what did or did not work about our events and elected part of the board for next year. Most of the current group is graduating, so it’s a big old passing of the torch.
My girl Kristina, who is not graduating, will be taking over as President. And I know she’s going to kill it.
Guess I’ll have to update all my social media descriptions pretty soon to reflect all this graduating/moving on from things.
That’s certainly what I started doing last night.
In the meantime, why don’t you go back and read the thing I wrote about my Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe if you haven’t! That was a fun thing to pull together and it could probably use some more hits.https://t.co/F0k6HrkxCe
I’ll get back to that eventually. In the meantime, from SPJ I went to my next meeting in the Honors Center to try and complete a few more graduation requirements. Namely getting my Honors Project title page signed off on.
Which I did:
Now all I have to do is compile the stuff I’ve done so I can officially turn the damn thing in and move on.
While in the Center I had a lovely chat with Dr. Simoes as well. We spoke briefly at my presentation, but today he was more than happy to congratulate me for getting the project through this next step.
He even told me he’ll be buying a copy of my book once it’s published — so long as I sign a first edition for him.
It was very sweet.
After all of that I came back to Redondo and set up a meeting with Michelle to give back that lovely computer I’ve been holding onto. Too bad I never got it to full working condition on account of internet issue, but it’ll be much happier with a video editor where it belongs.
Once that was done, I went to probably my most important meeting of the day:
A meeting with the treadmill.
Because with all of this graduation stress on my shoulders it honestly feels great to go burn some calories and let off some steam.
Highly recommended stress relief, folks. Especially if you can watch some dope GDQ runs while you’re running!
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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!
After a year-and-a-half break, everything about this open-world Zelda experience feels fresh again. It seems like I’m getting through the map way faster with just as much of a fine-toothed comb.
I actually cleared out two portions of the map in just the last two days, which included finally making my way into Death Mountain…
… finding my second Divine Beast…
… and destroying the blight inside…
… to bring peace to Goron City!
I think the most astounding thing about Breath of the Wild to me is how easy it was to pick up and play again after so many months.
It only took a few minutes to re-familiarize myself with the controls before I was running all across Hyrule, solving puzzles and slaying baddies with a bunch of very powerful weapons I saved up. Even most of the side-quests came right back to me as soon as I saw brief reminders in the Adventure Log.
For having such a large map, Breath of the Wild actually has a lot of landmarks that made it feel like I haven’t taken a single day off. It’s a bit uncanny, honestly.
Oh and in case that video I put on Twitter didn’t make it clear, I’m having a blast doing neat things. Plus the NPCs are far funnier than I remember!
I don’t know who you are random Hylian lady, but you have a great little backstory packed into one line.
So yeah. Breath of the Wild has actually been a godsend for the end of my Winter Break, where I haven’t had too many chances to see my friends. Perhaps it’s less of a godsend for the work on my novel I was planning to finish but…
I’ll get that done.
To be fair, BotW hasn’t been the only distraction in my life. I went on a strange adventure with my Mom today.
About a week ago I got a letter from the State Controller of California.
As it turned out, I apparently had some dormant savings account at a bank that isn’t what my family uses. We don’t remember making it or anything, but the Controller let us know there was about $80 in the account — and that if we didn’t claim it soon, the money would go directly to the State.
I’m not one to let $80 slip away that easily.
So I followed through with that bank and went over there with Mom today, assuming she set it up the account considering it has been dormant since 2010.
However, when we arrived, it turned out there was no longer that much in there.
For some reason the information we got from the State Controller just a week ago was accurate to the balance over a year ago? As a result of the upkeep cost, by the time we showed up there was only about $20 to pull out.
Don’t get me wrong, $20 is $20 and I was happy to get a little extra cash in my pocket. It’s just strange that we had gotten such a misleading number from the State.
So… I guess moral of the story is… Get your records together State Controller Yee.
The rest of my afternoon was right as rain — in the rain. Mom and I got coffee, then picked up my sister, came home and I pretty much just played more BotW.
Before stopping to write this post, of course.
I’ll probably be playing Zelda a lot in the next few days, so I’ll try not to bother you all with it unless some really cool stuff happens. It just felt pertinent to give the world an update on how my prior indecision turned out to be a net positive.
Sometimes the world just needs some feel-good stories like that.
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:
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.
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:
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:
Me walking into Downtown Disney: “I know your game, mouse. Don’t think I’ll fall for your hyper-capitalist gouging on my nostalgia.”
Me ten minutes later: “I need this $500 Little Mermaid painting up on my wall to feel alive again.”
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.
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.
I’ve been positively swamped with homework, essays and exams this weekend. Which is why I didn’t post any blog stuff yesterday.
I quite literally locked myself in my room and did work, turning off (most) of the usual distractions.
Luckily last night I got an extra hour of sleep from Daylight Savings Time, so I was able to get up nice and refreshed to… Do more homework.
It’s just been that kind of weekend.
But DST does actually offer me a neat little segue into the topic I figured I would touch on for this quick blog post today.
Tuesday is midterm Election Day here in the States. We’ll be voting on state and national senators, judicial appointments and ballot measures.
One such measure this year in California has the possibility of allowing our legislature to vote on essentially eliminating DST if the national government implements the idea. For my purposes, that made an excellent transitional statement.
This is only my second time being able to vote, and again it’s a bit of an awkward situation for me. I’m very used to Fullerton-centric politics because I spend all of my time there, but the local appointments I get to vote on are based in Redondo Beach. Sure there are still the state-wide initiatives and elections that I’ve paid a good amount of attention to thanks to my being enmeshed in journalism (though that’s a bit less concentrated than 2016 when I was at the Daily Titan). I just needed a bit of a closer look at what’s going on at home.
So that’s where my parents came in tonight.
We had a grand old time talking everything over before dinner tonight, and now I’m plenty ready for Tuesday.
Honestly I just wanted to put this together to say that you should go vote if you’re in an area/age demographic where you can.
I’m not going to talk about my policies or what I’m planning on voting for because that doesn’t matter. Taking part in our democratic process is what matters.
It’s an important thing and I felt like I should put my two cents in.
I didn’t have too much else to talk about today due to my aforementioned homework-filled weekend, which is more or less why I went down this route. In the near future I’ll probably write something about my obsessive armor planning in Monster Hunter, or that new Toby Fox game whenever I get around to playing it.
Just some fun stuff so I don’t have to think about all of these upcoming exams and freak out too much.
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.
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!
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.
Has anyone ever stopped to think about how strange the idea behind money is?
Probably a silly rhetorical question, as commerce is something that many people have thought long and hard about over the course of human history. But I don’t exactly mean the concept of different monetary systems or the merits of different economic theories like capitalism vs. communism.
I’m certainly nowhere near enough of an expert in any sort of financial realm to be able to begin to tackle those big ideas.
However, recently I’ve been contemplating a different bizarre aspect of money that relates more to a psychological sphere of thought. Namely the idea of ownership when it comes to money, particularly in the much more nebulous 21st century where the lines between the physical and the digital are blurred more and more.
I could point to a number of places as the genesis of my thinking on this subject, though two primarily come to mind off-hand.
First is my sister, who loves to tell the story of an old man who approached her as she worked the concession booth at a Redondo Union band event. Apparently his idea of small talk was telling a couple 16 year olds that they should be careful with the money they were handling because all U.S. bank notes supposedly have some trace of cocaine on them.
I probably have another post incoming sometime soon regarding stuff from this trip that’ll make it relevant again, but for now just know we went to the bank after all was said and done.
Both of these small, seemingly disconnected events kind of evoke the same cliché: You never know where your money has been. An unarguable idea, especially looking back at the lede to that CNN article I linked where the author talks about how frequently money is passed from person-to-person through anything from paying for goods at a store to dropping $5 on the ground by accident.
But I’m not here to examine the idea of your money having been touched by anyone and everyone at some point in the past, per say. Rather, I’m more interested in the much smaller idea of casually calling it ‘your money.’
At its core, money is the symbolic representation of a totally imaginary concept called worth.
What I’m looking at is the idea that we, as a species, have collectively decided that slips of paper have been assigned a value that essentially boils down to a more simplified form of bargaining. Instead of trading a sack of flour for two chickens, we’ve come up with a representation of how many paper slips each sack of flour or each chicken is worth, that way there’s a universally tradable object allowing someone to buy anything they want rather than being restricted to getting chickens.
Naturally there’s an infinite number of complications to that idea when it comes to things like the universality of currency if we all have different currencies worth different values. But like I said, I’m not an economist or a financial guru, so let’s just go with a more simplified world view here.
The creation of a universal representation of wealth has also crystalized an idea of what it is to be a wealthy individual. Sure back in the day you were the king if you had X number of chickens or acres of land, but there were people who could argue they didn’t need chickens or land if they had different goods.
In today’s society, money is literally the deciding factor because money can be used for almost anything.
That’s why people will go around talking about their net worth, how something like their stock options give them a billion dollar value. Because that symbolic value is worth something in that it’s usable for almost any kind of bartering one can imagine.
But in 2018, that’s where things get complicated and interesting to me. You can say you have $100 available right now, but do you really have the physical Benjamin in your pocket? Or do you have $100 in this nebulous digital concept called a bank account?
Now I know bank accounts aren’t technically completely nebulous, since there are physical places where one can deposit and take out physical bills. But here’s the thing: Even those physical bills aren’t technically completely your property, despite the fact that your inherent worth says you have that much available.
When you deposit a dollar in the bank, there’s no guarantee that when you take it back out you’ll be receiving the exact same dollar. It’s more likely that the bank just has a pile of dollars hidden away somewhere that they peel bills off of for anybody that needs it at a given time.
Also yes that probably isn’t how a physical bank works, but again. Not a banker. So any real life bankers out there please don’t get mad reading my description.
Just go with it for the sake of this hypothetical.
The idea extends beyond banks as well. Like I mentioned before, purchasing items creates an interesting dynamic. That dollar “you own,” once handed over to the cashier in exchange for whatever it may be, goes into a cash register. But if you go back to that store one day and get cash back for having too big a bill, you aren’t guaranteed to get the exact same dollar you handed over long ago.
That dollar probably disappeared as soon as the person behind you in line that day used a bill that was too big and got cash back. Now it’s suddenly a representation of that person’s wealth rather than your own.
As usual I don’t necessarily have a larger point to this discussion beyond it being an interesting train of thought into something most of us more than likely take for granted in this fly-by-night world we live in.
But next time you go to buy that new video game or receive a paycheck and toss those singles around like you’re the king of the world in a strip joint, maybe you’ll think about this post and give your psychological perceptions of money a reexamination.
Those bills you’re tossing around? They aren’t yours, as you might think. No matter how hard you worked to earn them in the first place.
They’re just a symbolic representation of the work you put in given a physical form that allows you to barter without trading away any actual goods. No matter how many times you kiss that wad of cash, happy to be worth something, just remember that the second you put it down it’ll be the property of whoever picks it up next.
But also maybe think about the fact that you’re likely kissing money that has cocaine on it. Because let’s not forget, that money could literally have been held by anybody before it was held by you.
With my sickness beginning to fade away, I spent part of the day hanging out with the core four friends. Minus Tiana because she had work, apparently.
Nice going being responsible, nerd.
… He says while sitting on a 6,000 word interview to translate into a story.
Gosh the tangent game is still strong right now. I really shouldn’t let myself succumb to stream of consciousness writing when I’m not feeling good. Especially when I actually sort of have a point to what I’m writing for once.
Two of the games we played have been on my interest list for some time, and playing them led me to some different, interesting conclusions about what to put my money down on.
So I figured I’d talk about them. Because it’s getting late and I don’t have anything else to write about today.
Hollow Knight is a game I’ve been eyeing for a long, long time. It has been highly recommended to me umpteenth times by my boy Kyle, and I’ve seen it on a number of ‘best of’ lists since it came out.
Essentially, the game is a metroidvania-style sidescroller that has very striking similarities to Bloodborne/the Dark Souls series (as Jonathan couldn’t help but pointing out over and over again). It has a super great art style and supposedly goes into some really cool things with its story and lore.
When Nintendo announced Hollow Knight would be dropping on the Switch during its E3 presentation this year, I was very excited to know I might have the opportunity to try it out soon. However, when Aly finished her sophomore year a few months ago, we decided to spend $15 on Wizard of Legend instead. It’s great couch co-op for the two of us, and I don’t regret the decision at all, it just happened to push-off possibly buying this title.
So I didn’t have the chance to try the game until Jonathan brought his Switch over today.
Honestly? I found myself more intrigued than ever.
While the movement controls felt a little more floaty than I had anticipated, I’m willing to chalk that up to not having a lot of time to mess around with the game overall. I imagine it’s something I’d get used to with a lot of personal time to focus on it without being trolled by all my friends as they watch my constant deaths.
It has a really, really interesting self-heal mechanic based on how many enemies you kill, and every moment felt reminiscent of my childhood playing games like Metroid: Zero Mission while offering a unique aura of dread to its presentation that perfectly complimented the mystery underlying everything.
We got through two bosses and I felt like I wanted to play so much more after we switched it off. That’s the sign of a good game, in my opinion.
So yes, Hollow Knight definitely lived up to my expectations in the short-term, and I’m considering buying it more than ever. But it wasn’t the only thing we played, as soon after we jumped into:
Splatoon 2: The Octo Expansion
I listed Splatoon 2 on my personal top games of 2017 list, but I put it rather low. Mostly because as much as I enjoy the IP, not enough felt different from the original game to seemingly warrant a sequel for any reason other than to transition from the dying Wii U to the shining new Switch console.
When the Octo Expansion was first announced I was intrigued. A whole new additional story mode certainly seemed like exactly what I felt Splatoon 2 needed the first time around. However, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth spending the extra money.
Especially considering I abandoned the game some time ago and would need some time to jump back into it and get used to the controls once again.
Now that I’ve played the game on Jonathan’s account (thanks again my guy, you the best), I have to say… My suspicions were confirmed.
Now I’m pretty confident that the original Splatoon 2 package should have just been Splatoon 1 DLC. The Octo Expansion should have been the story mode of Splatoon 2 from the get go, not extra content a few years down the line.
The world that the Octo Expansion creates is fascinating in that not only does it mess with themes of racism (better than Detroit: Become Human as we all joked while playing it), but it also builds on the lore established in Splatoon 1 in an honestly brilliant way.
Essentially, the idea is that you play an Octoling — one of the higher-ups in the army opposing the Inklings in both games — who has been converted from their ‘evil’ side by the power of the music played by Callie and Marie during the endgame fight in Splatoon 1. The Octoling encounters the protagonist of the first game and winds up having to go through a journey to get to the surface world so they can join the Inklings that live there.
If you’re concerned all that is a spoiler, it’s all in the opening cutscene for the expansion, so it’s really not. They start to build up the lore quick!
The way it incorporates elements from the first title into its DNA in a clever way earns massive points for the Octo Expansion in my mind. Especially since it builds on the gameplay as well by offering a large number of more difficult challenges to test a player’s platforming and gunplay.
We had fun with the expansion by having my play through the Wily’s Castle-style multi-stage endgame section, which was hilarious just because I had to get used to the game again by doing the hardest stuff it offers.
On the one hand I’d say it was worth it because the endgame stuff helped make me way more interested in the lore of the world beyond what I already mentioned. They do some AWESOME stuff with the final boss. Stuff that, like I said, should have been around the first time around.
But on the other hand, now that I’ve seen the endgame content I’m not sure I’m more encouraged to buy the extra expansion or not.
I’m intrigued by the challenge and think it would be worth redoing that endgame just to have the bragging rights on my personal account. Yet I’ve seen it now and have had time to absorb what happened, so I think I could spend my money better by buying other big games coming out in the near future.
Seriously though. Mario Party. Smash Bros. Pokémon. Monster Hunter. Mega Man Dragonball So on and so forth.
There are a ton of games coming out soon-ish that I’d love to buy that are more expensive than both Hollow Knight and the Octo Expansion.
My wallet cries out in indecision. Do I buy games now? Or do I wait for the gratification of games I want later?
I suppose I’ll have time to decide, but the pain of having to decide in the first place is almost worse than my sick right now.
Oh well, at least I’ve now had the pleasure of trying out both these games. That way I have a much more well-defined opinion of my interests to jump on whenever I do decide.
That said, what do you think? Should I spring for one of these two games now? Or should I hold on and see what I can get later?
Let me know! I’d love to hear what some of you think about some current games.