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A Golden-Red Horizon


Stumbling through songwriting

Posted by Aanchir , Dec 26 2014 · 140 views

I was just catching up on BZPower blogs and came across Windrider's recent blog entry where she came out as transgender. At some point after I finished reading it I felt inspired, so I started typing on my phone until I had some decent-sounding song lyrics. Unfortunately, I neither write nor play music, so the chance of turning this into a finished song is extremely uncertain. But I figured I'd share them here.

The song is actually BIONICLE-related, written from the perspective of Takanuva after his transformation. But it's also meant to be able to be read from the perspective of a transgender person who is admitting their true gender identity for the first time. I apologize in advance if it sounds patronizing. I've never had to struggle to understand my own identity, but there's still something truly inspiring about a person who has acknowledging that their true identity is different than the one that was assigned to them at birth. Anyway, here goes.

Who I Am

I've been wandering aimlessly
For what was really in me all along
I wasn't sure what I was meant to be,
Like my identity was written wrong

People said I should settle down
And stop questioning what I should be
But I knew settling would just amount
To never knowing my true destiny

I always felt out of place
With the mask on my face
And I hope you all understand
That the mask that I've worn
since the day I was born
is not the measure of who I am

I may seem like a stranger, now
With a name that you have not known before,
A face and body that are changed somehow
From the familiar ones you knew me for

Underneath, though, I haven't changed,
And now I'm surer than I've ever been
That I've found just what I was looking for,
The me that long was hidden deep within

I always felt out of place
With the mask on my face
And I hope you all understand
That the mask that I've worn
since the day I was born
is not the measure of who I am
Who I am

Please accept the new name I chose
The path that finally I know is mine,
Don't insist that I am just confused,
Or that the name I had before was fine

United with the friends I have made,
My duty to myself and all will be
To chart a future where we're not afraid
To shine a light upon our destinies!

I always felt out of place
With the mask on my face
And I hope you all understand
That the mask that I've worn
since the day I was born
is not the measure of who I am
Who I am
Who I am
Who I am
This is who I am


Anyway, it feels a bit silly to post this, knowing that I have no experience with songwriting and it's probably not any good. But I also would feel terrible to put all that work into it and never even share it. Hopefully I did a better job than I give myself credit for...


BIONICLE 2015 Final Review and Drawing!

Posted by Aanchir , Dec 19 2014 · 252 views
BIONICLE, LEGO, Sets, Reviews and 1 more...
BIONICLE 2015 Final Review and Drawing! In my last entry, I shared my first two BIONICLE 2015 set reviews for The New Elementary. Now, I can share the third and final (for now, at least). Check out my review of 70778 Protector of Jungle, 70780 Protector of Water, and 70781 Protector of Earth right here!

In addition, I've managed to draw something I'm really proud of for the first time in months! Check out my drawing of Gali - Master of Water right here in the General Art subforum!

I'd love to draw some other BIONICLE characters, including maybe one of the Protectors I got, though I might want to wait to see if we learn anything more about their individual personalities in case that might inspire a particularly fitting pose.


BIONICLE 2015 Reviews and MOC!

Posted by Aanchir , Dec 09 2014 · 541 views
BIONICLE, LEGO, Sets, Reviews and 1 more...
BIONICLE 2015 Reviews and MOC! Two of my BIONICLE 2015 set reviews for The New Elementary have now been posted, with a third still forthcoming. I received six BIONICLE sets from the LEGO Group to review for that site: three Toa and three Protectors.

Check out my review of 70788 Kopaka - Master of Ice right here!

Check out my review of 70784 Lewa - Master of Jungle and 70786 Gali - Master of Water here!

And finally, because I was lucky enough to receive these three particular Toa, you can see my attempt at building a 2015 version of Toa Kaita Wairuha right here!

What's more, I recently finished writing an article on the BIONICLE theme's triumphant review for Blocks, a British-based magazine for the LEGO fan community! I believe it will be appearing in the January 2015 issue of the magazine.

I am thrilled to have had this opportunity to own, build, and play with these new BIONICLE sets, and for the opportunity to share that experience with the LEGO fan community! My hope is that the articles I've been writing will not only inform BIONICLE fans about the new sets, but also perhaps educate other LEGO fans about just what it is that makes the BIONICLE theme and its return such a big deal for so many people.


Humble Pony Bundle!

Posted by Aanchir , Nov 26 2014 · 166 views
Pony, Comics

Hey everypony! Right now there's a Humble Pony Bundle available, offering $165 worth of digital My Little Pony comics for as low as $15 (though of course, it's pay-what-you-want and a portion of your choosing goes to charity, so some people have paid $50 to $100). This is easily the best deal I've seen on digital My Little Pony comics to date so I definitely recommend it!

Included so far are:

Issues 1–23 of the main series
All ten issues of the My Little Pony Micro-Series
The first ten issues of My Little Pony: Friends Forever
The first two My Little Pony Animated volumes (comic book adaptations of the TV series, with two episodes' worth of story per volume).

This will continue to be available for a little less than two weeks, and more comics will be added to the bundle next Wednesday — but as long as you pay more than the average, those new comics will automatically be made available to you as soon as they're added! So there's no need to put it off until then.

Source: Official My Little Pony topic


Gendered LEGO Marketing — Then and Now

Posted by Aanchir , Nov 23 2014 · 294 views

Posted Image

This amazing LEGO leaflet from the 1970s has been making the rounds this week. It's definitely worth a read. But unfortunately, some people have tried to spin this as "look how much LEGO has changed" when in fact that's at odds with the truth of the situation.

Believe it or not, the 1970s were not some idyllic time before the concept of gendered marketing existed. During the 1970s, the LEGO Group had two themes which had what could be considered "dolls houses": "Homemaker" (http://brickset.com/...theme-Homemaker) and "Building Set with People" (http://brickset.com/...Set-with-People). And with few exceptions, box art and catalog images for any of these sets would show GIRLS playing with the toys. Including an admirably progressive leaflet with these sets does not mean the sets were not designed or marketed to particular genders.

In reality, what I think this image shows is how much has NOT changed. LEGO still designs sets that anybody, man or woman, boy or girl, can enjoy. That doesn't mean they won't design or market certain sets for the audience that they expect to enjoy them most. But it does mean that a child can buy whatever set they want, and then use the parts from that set to build whatever they want, even if it's not the same thing that other kids their age and gender are building.

I think it's a bit of a shame that people still can't seem to realize this without a leaflet spelling it out for them.


BIONICLE 2015 Parts Preview

Posted by Aanchir , Nov 08 2014 · 191 views

The first of two articles I wrote for New Elementary previewing the new BIONICLE parts has been posted! Check it out here!

The second post, still to come, will be focusing on the new mask and weapon pieces. And after that, expect some actual set reviews! I've already mostly finished writing the first, and I've recently gotten word that another shipment of sets is headed my way for review. I'm hoping for one of the Protector sets — I could probably spend at least half a post talking about their new blasters alone!

I also realized I never did post my second New Elementary set review here on my blog. It's a review of 70144 Laval's Fire Lion, one of this year's Legends of Chima sets. Check it out here!

It feels really good to be published, even if it's just in a LEGO blog. And I feel like it's going to help me reach more and more opportunities within the LEGO fan community. Years ago, when I was just a shoddy BIONICLE artist who wrote long, rambling posts about silly things and got in lots of arguments, I never would have dreamed of having the kind of reputation within the LEGO fan community that I have now. I still feel starstruck by some of the people I've been able to make connections with in the LEGO fan community and The LEGO Group. Hopefully some of these connections might bring me closer to my dream of actually working for the LEGO Group myself one day.



Posted by Aanchir , Oct 24 2014 · 315 views
Wow! In response to a recent news report, I got a proto energy boost, which means I've finally achieved Premier Outstanding BZPower Citizen status!

To be honest, this might not change a whole lot for me. It's not like I've been actively seeking to achieve this status, and seeing my name in orange is not a huge change. Also, I'm not sure how many people actually pay attention to a member's rank when it's not indicative of a staff position. Still, I feel like it's a significant milestone... significant enough for a blog entry, at any rate.


Daring Do Adventure Collection Review

Posted by Aanchir , Oct 21 2014 · 201 views
My Little Pony, Daring Do, Books and 1 more...
Daring Do Adventure Collection Review

While I was at NYCC a couple weeks ago, the Daring Do Adventure Collection arrived at home, together with some other books I had preordered earlier in the year. Yesterday I finally managed to finish reading all three books! I'm going to write a spoiler-free review.

Presentation-wise, the box set is fantastic. The box itself is shaped like a treasure chest, and has elegantly tapered sides, ornate decorations, and a sturdy design with two ribbons to keep it from opening too wide. It holds the three books and the "false book" from the episode "Daring Don't" very securely. If future Daring Do books are released, it looks like the false book could be swapped out with up to two additional books. The bottom of the box (and instances throughout) identify the books as the three newest Daring Do books, published after those mentioned in the episodes "Read It and Weep" and "Daring Don't".

The "false book" is a fantastic replica of its appearance in the show, even if its perfectly flat spine makes it hard to confuse with a real book. It has a glossy finish on the outside. The Daring Do idol figurine is just an unprinted recolor of the Daring Do figurine from the My Little Pony miniatures collections and blind bags, but it still looks very nice. It is held in a small blister pack on a dark red backing card, ensuring that it stays fixed in the center of the box, and the blister pack hinges open so there's no need to deface it to access the figurine. The box is a bit big for a single figurine, so a more cynical person might see the mostly-empty "false book" as an excuse to make the box set appear to include more than it really does. But you could easily use it to hold other My Little Pony miniatures, or other treasures of your own.

The books themselves are also elegant as far as presentation is concerned. The box set includes three books: Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore, Daring Do and the Eternal Flower, and Daring Do and the Forbidden City of Clouds. Herein lies my first real criticism — there is no obvious hint on the book covers to tell you which book to read first. The order does matter, since each book references the ones before it. Thankfully, inside each book is a list of "Other books by A.K. Yearling" which lists seven unpublished books and the three in this box set, in sequential order. But people not looking for this clue might end up reading the books out-of-order without realizing it.

The books are sturdily-bound hardcovers around 200 pages long. Each book has a differently-colored cover. The front cover features a full-color illustration mimicking the design of the Daring Do books in the show. The spine features the book title and printed clasps (I don't know if this is a proper bookbinding term) featuring Daring Do's cutie mark. The back cover features a description of the book, as you'd expect from a book of this sort. There is no dust jacket, but that's just as well because the covers are elegant enough without them.

Inside the cover of each book are some lovely endpapers featuring Daring's cutie mark, followed by yet another full-color illustration depicting a scene from the story. All the illustrations for these books (drawn by Franco Spagnolo, a professional illustrator and character designer) are extremely elegant and accurate to the visual style of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. My second criticism is that the beauty of these illustrations left me wanting more. Two illustrations per book, however elegant, felt like a bit of a tease! The illustrations are not 100% accurate to the text as far as certain colors are concerned, but they're still beautiful, and accurate to the spirit of the characters and stories, if not to all the details.

The pages themselves are decorated with motifs that suit the Daring Do adventure series, such as squiggly dotted lines and Daring's compass rose cutie mark on most of the pages, carvings like those on the edges of the "treasure chest" box at the beginning of each chapter, and Daring's face by each chapter header. The text is large enough that kids should be able to read it with ease, but the text itself is not at all "dumbed down" to cater to kids. Two pages into the first book, I came across the word "inimitable", and the same book is peppered with other complex vocabulary like "decennially", "pedagogue", and "somnambular". This means the books will also be a great learning experience for young and old readers alike, not just a fun series of stories.

In the back of each book, there is a glossary of characters, plants, artifacts, and miscellanea specific to the Daring Do stories. The back of the first book also features ten pages for the reader to make field notes and sketches from their own adventures. Like a lot of the activity pages in G.M. Berrow's other My Little Pony chapter books, I will not likely be making use of these. It pains me to mark a book that is not strictly an activity book in any way, and those times I have done so in the past have usually been followed by regret. But perhaps to others these pages won't feel quite so superfluous.

The stories are full of world-building for the universe of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and details on Daring Do's friends, foes, and previous adventures. They are not the easiest reads, due to all the lore and vocabulary, but they are exciting enough to make it worthwhile. Daring is well-written: definitely not a carbon copy of Rainbow Dash, but still a character Rainbow Dash could identify with and admire. Popular culture references (especially to the Indiana Jones franchise) and horse puns are of course present, but not so much that they become distracting or overwhelming. Best of all, the final book seems to set up for many future Daring Do adventures, which hopefully G.M. Berrow and "A.K. Yearling" will be bringing to us in the future!

Overall, I'm very glad that Little, Brown and Company has been such a fantastic partner to Hasbro. Every My Little Pony book they've published has been extremely elegant in terms of presentation, and this box set turns that elegance up to eleven. The quality of the stories is also fantastic. I thoroughly recommend this set to any fans of the My Little Pony franchise, particularly its adventure stories.

The biggest drawback is the price tag. The box set's RRP is $75 USD, an extraordinary sum for three adventures less than twenty chapters long — even in hardcover. That elegant presentation certainly isn't included for free. Thankfully, Barnes and Noble still has it on a considerable markdown, just as they did when I preordered it (the link at the top of this post goes to this site). If you still can't afford it now even at the discounted price, perhaps you might wait and see if the books are published individually or in paperback form in the future, or see if used copies become available at a lower price.

Source: Official My Little Pony topic