For those who don't know, in the Yu-Gi-Oh card game you can only have up to three copies of a single card in any one deck; exceptions being semi-limited, limited, and forbidden cards of which you can only have two of, one of, and none of respectively. What cards are limited and forbidden is decided by Konami with their frequently updated Limited and Forbidden List the latest update of which came out a couple of weeks ago.
Now, the fact that I'm just now talking about this now should tip you off as to how involved I am with this game. Basically I watched the show growing up, but didn't really into the game until last winter when I started playing online at Dueling Nexus. Now, I'll be up front and say I honestly don't make my own decks for scratch I just watch the big Yugi-tubers and stalk the YGO reddit for deck lists. Sure, building decks is fun, but I'm not a good enough player to know how to build a deck that is even semi-competitive. Plus decks made by people who know what they are doing are funnier to play. Unfortunately, with the new ban list I'm going to need some new decks 'cause some of my favorites got hit hard.
The good news: my all time favorite deck, a combination of Exodia and Trickstars, was completely unaffected; as was my Kozmo deck. I'm not that good a Kozmo player (yet?), but I like it a lot because 1) it's a pretty competitive deck and 2) it's doesn't require an extra deck to be good and I'm a YGO player who doesn't like extra decks.
The bad news: both my favorite go-to Magnet Warrior deck and my Egyptian Gods deck used the Brilliant Fusion engine, which used 3 copies of a now limited card. It'll take some looking around to get both of those decks playable again.
The worst news: You know that true hero who performed well at a regionals with a Gren Maju Deck? A Gren Maju deck. A deck that no one knew or cared about until he came up with it? Yeah, well one of the most important cards in the deck (Golden Sarcophagus) is now limited. That's a shame, because I love gimmick decks and especially gimmick decks that can actually win games and I've had a lot of luck playing with various Gren Maju decks. I'm sure that guy had a panic attack when he got the news.
OK, super nerdy blog entry over. I would be more torn up over all this if I was playing YGO right now (which I'm not) and probably by the time I do decide to start playing again they'll be another new ban list to adapt to so yeah until then just be sure to pay your respects to the once great Gren Maju.
As I continue to play Kingdom Hearts III while balancing all these newfound adult responsibilities that have sprung up since Kingdom Hearts II came out thirteen years ago, I’m struck over and over again by how much of a flashback the game is. Not just in the way that it makes me feel like a teenager again, but in how it embodies a game design ethos that’s been eschewed by a more contemporary zeitgeist.
For example: Invisible walls.
Virtual game spaces are limited by nature —there’s only so much world you can code. Figuring out how to demarcate that boundary has been a near-constant tension in game design. Mario cannot go backwards once the screen has advanced, if Mega Man tries to go beyond the edges of the map it’s a bottomless pit and he dies. Classic Pokémon has its hedges and fences that prevent you from wandering off the map. As games progressed into a more proper 3D space, limiting the play area became harder. There was only so much mileage you could get out of high walls and bottomless pits when you’re trying to make these massive, immersive spaces. Invisible walls were one solution; here’s a foot-high fence but try to jump over it and you’ll be unable to proceed. It’s an understandable device, but over time level designers have found more elegant solutions, be it by hiding those invisible walls in a thicket of trees, creating a level so intricate that the player cannot easily find the edge, or using a narrative intervention where the player’s character decides to turn around (and if you don’t you die!).
Kingdom Hearts III is having none of that and is all about those straight-up invisible walls. Not even the sort where they make it look there’s a ~magical~ barrier; nah, these are actual invisible walls that prevent you from jumping on to that rock over there that you could probably almost definitely reach. It’s almost charming in its bluntness, in how no attempt is made to disguise it. It’s positively old fashioned, particularly jarring against the game’s very contemporary graphics.
This probably factors into the nostalgic factor of the game, but there are so many things that make Kingdom Hearts III feel like a much older game. Where many modern games have been trying to find ways to keep players in control as much as possible, Kingdom Hearts III goes all in on its massive combat finishers and the like — these things are long enough for me to put the controller down and take a hefty sip of my beer! And also limited combos in an action game? The Arkham games and more recently Spider-Man let you whale on opponents endlessly, but Kingdom Hearts III still rocks the upgradeable three-hit-combo. When you’re used to being able to chain together hits, blocks, and dodges it’s weird to have to operate within a paradigm that requires a more measured approach that somehow also means mashing 'X' a lot.
Then there’s the animation. Major AAA game studios are all about that motion capture these days: they get actors to actually act out the scenes and then animate based on that. It’s what gives the beautiful cutscenes that Naughty Dog is known for. Kingdom Hearts III makes no attempt at that verisimilitude. Sora, Donald, and Goofy will stand around in cutscenes in their default stance, gesture as part of their dialogue/action, and then return back to their default immediately after. This was par for the course around the time Kingdom Hearts II came out in 2005, but it’s been a while, man. Once again, it’s almost charming to see how much this game harkens back to an earlier time; if anything it’s a marker of how far the ethos of game designed has evolved over the years.
I still don’t know if Kingdom Hearts III is an objectively good game. But what I do know is that I’m having an absolute blast playing it and, had this game been released closer to its predecessor, it’d definitely be a contender for Game of The Year… but, like, in 2008.
With that being said, the results of this Bowl made me feel strangely...patriotic.
Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies (making Jasmine one of my favorite Princesses) but I’ve been disappointed that she hasn’t appeared in more than one Lego Princesses set. Well, this year she gets to be in a couple, likely hoping to capitalize on the live action Aladdin movie coming out. The biggest one of the Palace Adventure, so I picked that up. It’s $29.99 with 193 pieces.
The main draw is the characters. Jasmine has appeared in one set before as a minidoll (included in the picture in the lower right). In this set, she gets some printed upgrades on her pants, torso, and face, and I like the details. It looks like her hairpiece is unchanged. Aladdin appeared once in the Disney CMFs, so this is his first appearance as a minidoll, and the details totally fit the character. I think they also reuse his hairpiece, but the rest of the printing is new.
We also get the magic carpet; it was included in the Jasmine set as a simple build, but it’s a bit more detailed here. It uses a wavy wall with a decent sticker on it showcasing all the details. (Sadly, it’s not visible in my picture, and I didn’t quite get the sticker on straight, but it still looks great.) The bigger deal is the use of the gold tassels, which are a major part of the character. In theory, there is room for both characters to ride on the carpet, but minidolls aren’t really built to sit side by side like that. I added some studs to Aladdin’s feat, pushing him back just enough so their arms aren’t colliding, so it kind of works, but I think the set just wants you to use one character at a time.
There are some interesting parts, including some lavenders, golds, tans, magentas, and teals (although those aren’t quite the colors I picture when I think of the palace from the movie.) Some of the big white / lavender wall / window pieces are fairly new, and it could be useful for some builders. Some of the rare or exclusive parts include the teal 1x1x5 brick, teal 2x2 round corner brick, teal 1x4 arch, lavender 8x8 plate, magenta 1x4 tile with 2 nobs, medium lavender doorway, medium lavender 6x6 round plate, purple wavy wall, gold 3x3x2 arch, gold 3x3x2 fence, and the new white bird piece.
The build is. . . well, basic. The Lego Princess builds have never been anything to really call home about. You build two levels with some furniture and accessories on each. On the bottom level there’s a table with some seats, as well as a market stall. The top includes the balcony section with a domed room, and them a small patio with a chair, birdbath, and small tree. The big action feature is that the dome is built on a swivel and had a beam that can attach to the flying carpet, so you can spin it around and have the characters fly over the palace. I like this bit. There’s also a small Cave of Wonders build included, with a hidden compartment for the golden lamp, and a sticker with the Genie on it. The set comes with a lot of sparkly stickers, but I only included about half of them.
One feature that I wasn’t aware of until I read the instruction was that all the Disney Princess rooms this year are semi-modular. You can mix and match them together, and the example picture shows that you can create quite the impressive Disney Castle when you combine most of the sets. I obviously can’t do this because I haven’t bought any of the others (and don’t plan to) but it’s a neat idea and gives the infectious “collect them all” mentality to this line of sets too.
In short, I like the character designs and the flying magic carpet, and I really like the function that lets you spin them around over the palace. The rest of it is pretty bland, and I consider it an okay parts pack, since it does have a few interesting and rare elements. Worth the $30? Probably not, but I was impulsive. Maybe wait for a sale if you’re also a fan of the movie. (Or if you’re buying for somebody in the target audience; there’s plenty to like, but I’m a jaded AFOL who doesn’t appreciate that kind of stuff.)
I really, really like World of Light. I get why so many people call it a grind, but as someone who has always only played Smash by himself trying to do most of anything in the games has always seemed a bit grindy, so the presentation of this one is more than enough for me. I opened the way to the true final boss and then went to clear out as much as I could--there are still a handful of tough Spirits left, but I think I'm going to go for the ending and come back for those later.
Speaking of Spirits, while trophies might've been a bit more fun to look at, the fact that Spirits do something automatically makes them better as far as I'm concerned. More than that, each one being tied to a specific battle and so many appearing in World of Light makes them feel far less random, which has always been a complaint of mine. (I still don't have the Star Force Mega Man trophy in Smash 4.) I have a little over 700 Spirits right now, including all the Spirits from Mega Man spin-offs: they have at least one from each, 16 total across six series, and that makes me happier than it probably should. ZX is finally represented! Granted, the Model ZX Spirit isn't phenomenal, but it's pretty good for when you get it in WoL so that's something. It's crazy to think I'm not even halfway towards getting a complete collection!
I've been pretty much exclusively playing Spirits mode thus far, but now that I've got everyone I want to try to take them all through Classic Mode next. Maybe I'll find a fighter who clicks somewhere along the way--I've been using Zero Suit Samus mostly, though the past few days I've been trying to get the hang of Greninja. I mean, I'm not especially good with either of them, but...eh.
And I'm still really, really excited for Pirahna Plant. Really excited.
I will of course give a quick shoutout as per usual to the movies I didn't get a chance to see yet but think that I would enjoy:
A Quiet Place, Ocean's 8, Christopher Robin, A Simple Favor, Assassination Nation, The Old Man & the Gun, Bad Times at the El Royale, Widows, Creed II, Bumblebee, and Anna and the Apocalypse
Anyway with that done, let's get on with the show.
#1: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
God, this was a tough one. I went back and forth between the top two for awhile, and I was hesitant just because I saw this one so recently - but at the end of the day, I had to do it. This movie's score - by Daniel Pemberton - is amazing. The soundtrack curated for the movie is amazing. The animation is revolutionary (literally - I'd be willing to read a book on everything that went into developing the visual design for this film and how they implemented all of it). The story is heartwarming. The jokes are funny.
This movie gets Spider-Man. It gets Peter Parker, and better yet, Miles Morales.
The Spider-Verse is a fascinating concept, and I can't wait to see it explored further in future films. Getting to see two sides of Peter Parker and how they both impacted Miles was great. Seeing Miles' journey into becoming the new Spider-Man - a Spider-man that is unique to him - was even better. I really liked Spider-Gwen and can't wait to see more of her.
Please, go see this movie. See it in 3D if you can.
#2: Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Back in 2015 when I first saw Rogue Nation, I thought it was a good film, but not a great one. I was just off the heels of Mad Max: Fury Road and Kingsman: The Secret Service, both of which had blown me away. This year, I was coming off of Avengers: Infinity War (more on that in a bit), and found myself almost reluctantly excited for this film.
Then the reviews started coming in, and I knew this was a movie I had to see.
Like all Mission Impossible films, the story is a little convoluted and a bit of a mess - but it works. And god, everything else. The fight scenes are frenetic. Every hit has an impact. Characters stumble, fall, wheeze, get the wind knocked out of them. The stunts are relentless, and with Tom Cruise himself performing them, you get to see many unique shots that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
I could go on about the HALO sequence, or the bathroom fight, or the climax at the end. I could talk about Henry Cavill's character, who rivals Tom Cruise every step of the way. I could talk about the way the film plays with your expectations and it works, or how I felt like Imax was finally worth it. But I don't have that much time.
Christopher McQuarrie has directed an action masterpiece with Fallout, and it's clear that the longer he and Tom Cruise work together, the better they're getting. Here's hoping the two will reunite at least once more for a Mission Impossible 7.
#3: Avengers: Infinity War
You had to know this would be here. Ten years of buildup. Iron Man and Thor teaming up with Doctor Strange, Rocket Raccoon, and Spider-Man to fight Thanos. An Avengers film where the main villain is arguably the main character.
And the ending. We all know how it'll end with Avengers 4, but I'm excited to see just how they'll make it happen.
#4: Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors. The Grand Budapest Hotel will always rank among my favorites. Isle of Dogs is no exception. The stop-motion, the framing, and Wes Anderson's brand of slightly off-kilter humor. It's a pleasant package, and you should watch it if you have the opportunity.
#5: Black Panther
A cultural phenomenon, one that I hope Captain Marvel will echo in some form next year (because money talks, and it'd be nice to move on from all white males with five o'clock shadow).
I know it's still kind of a low bar, but Kilmonger is my favorite MCU villain to date, and I hope he'll get to come back in Black Panther 2 for a quick ancestral plane cameo.
I'd say more, but so many others have already said it before me, and they've said it better; so I'll leave it at that.
So I started watching the OG Star Trek series, and loving it. It has put me in a sci-fi mood lately. In spirit of this, I have picked up Stellaris again. My, there have been quite a few changes to this game, and I welcome most of them! Game is more fun now. I revisited the Roman Empire space civilization i designed and touched upon some details before wiping all my previous saves and starting a new campaign with my interstellar Roman Empire.
Many of you may be thinking, "How the Heck could the Roman Empire have survived beyond the modern day and unify the planet under its grasp?" Well allow me to explore some ideas of mine that could allow for such a course. I must specify here that in relation to talks of domination below, I am opposed to these Roman things and its taint on my faith in history. I am not saying this would be a better world, but a different world, that is all. Enjoy.
Despite what your outdated history classes may teach, the Roman Empire did not fall in Late Antiquity (a half decayed into independent Foederati kingdoms), but rather in 1204 at the hands of rogue catholic crusaders tempted by Venetian guile and in zealous revenge for a genocide of catholics in the domain of the Roman Empire under Andronikos Komnenos, culminating in the disastrous Sack of Cosntantinople. Its demise was settled upon during the Partition of Constantinople where Western occupying forces split up the remnants of the Roman Empire into crusader states and unified them under a crusader dynasty dubbed the Latin Empire, and successor Greco-Roman Kingdoms vied for who better represented the continuation of the Roman Empire. The so-called "Empire of Nikaea" was able to dismantle the Latin dynasty in New Rome and a second Roman Empire was founded under the Palaiologos dynasty, though the damage from the Sack was so extensive that they would never be able to rise anywhere to the great power that the first Roman Empire had. This second take was more of a Greek kingdom with strong Roman Imperial ties, and from here the term Byzantium would be used in later centuries to classify the Palaiologos realm that lasted from 1261 to 1453 (before purposefully misused in western eurocentric propaganda during the early modern period), where the shadow of a shadow fell to eastern invaders and thence forge an attempted Islamic Roman Empire, the Ottomans.
That is what happened in our timeline, but it did not need to be so.
By implementation of the Foederati states to save funds on the military and the fall of imperial authority in the Occidental Roman realms due to corruption and puppet emperor, the West was going to be lost to the Roman Empire eventually, even if Maiorianus and the other last vestiges of strong authority were not assassinated by corruption. But a preventable loss of influence in the West would be the prevention of the rise of the Catholic, or Universal church movement, a counter-culture movement against the Roman Empire. During and after the reign of the Theodosius I, the Roman Empire proclaimed itself to be the realized New Jerusalem from the Holy Bible, and with that thinking, all of Christendom was to be under the power of the Roman Empire (the light in a dark world) and the leader was both a political and religious figure, this spawning the modern word Caesaropapism and the modern definition of autocracy which comes from the rank of the Roman Emperor in the government, Autokrator, absolute, supreme power (different from the title used by rulers to describe this position to their person, like Caesar, Augustus, and Basileus). The Catholic Universalism movement in the West taught that Christianity and Christians could exist and live beyond Roman Imperial borders and can survive without the Roman Empire or its authority. Parts of this initial movement still reside in the modern Papal Church, but was largely overtaken by church politics what with the Donations of Constantine and the making of their own (Carolingian) Roman Empire and Holy Roman Empire to secure their own hegemony over masses, and is now muddled with variance of traditions. (In short, the word Catholic Church now has a lot more baggage to it than the original Universalist movement and main remnant from this period is the word Catholic itself). Likewise, the loyalists to the Caesaropapist rule of the Emperors were classified as being orthodox to the legal norm, and likewise this name exists in the modern day with little relevance to its present existence, unless a new Orthodox Emperor (understood as Divine Regent over New Jerusalem) is crowned by the Patriarch of Constantinople (which has been vacant since the fall of the Russian Empire; Vladimir Putin was offered Imperial coronation but he declined the offer).
In local levels, the traditions of the Roman Republic stayed true to freemen, though the growing danger of the world from the 200's-forward made many people give up their civil rights and become the first serfs in exchange for protection, and so serfs outnumbered freemen. On this topic, it must be said that slavery would later be technically outlawed on Christian grounds as the Abomination of the Age but many rich people had house slaves from captured prisoners of war and the Islamic Slave Trade and people turned a blind eye towards these as the only people that didn't like it were those in lower societal positions. The Roman Empire came to find that the best source of work came from motivation, so the Roman Empire serves as one of the earliest sources of free waged labor in the world. Funny how they go from mass slavery to free labor, but it took them less than a thousand years, and serfs were still a thing.
With those things in mind, a good way to prevent the rise of Western Christian Universalism (also in the East, like the Nestorians ceasing Iranian persecution of Christians was by declaring themselves separate from the Romans) is to expand upon Justinian I's creation of the Patriarchial Pentarchy, for by this there was only one Patriarch in the western provinces, the Patriarch of Rome (later to be called the Pope) who assumed control over the rest of Europe as being under his religious dominion and at the same time led the counter culture Universalism movement, and also at the same time the Patriarch of Roma claiming the place of Imperial divine power with the help of the forged document called the Donation of Constantine (discovered to be a forgery in the 1400's) being used to attain higher power and help solidify Papal rule over the Roman Empire in Europe.
Another means of this is to not be so strict in theological debates, allowing for more mental freedom and recognition in humanity's divine element of sentience, free-will. What constitutes as heresy and the crimes for it should be loosened, and Christ's message of freedom should be emphasized while also pointing out the need for a strong central authority to protect the commoners and economic stability, while also finding some way to make laws for the Emperors so that the prize of ultimate authority, the throne of the Roman Emperor, would not be as coveted and civil wars be prevented; reconciling this with divine authority and the boost of ego that comes with this is a tricky thing, only thing i can think of is adopting a philosophy of their contemporary future, Enlightened Despotism as laid out by Frederick II Hohenzollern, King of Prussia. This point of limitation of and responsible use of power is what stretches any plausibility for an ever-lasting Roman Empire, but the creation of the USA and the Internet are other events of implausibility in history as well as many other things, so perhaps something could be made. Potential reforms that fuse the Greco-Roman Empire with the earlier Latinate Roman Republic. To go off of the structure of the United States, perhaps a divine imperial federal level and smaller provinces/states with senators and monarchical governors, or in other words, in ways similar to the German Holy Roman Empire prior to the fall of House Hohenstaufen. The Empire being in a better economic situation for reasons stated below means that that Emperor Constans II will have no reason to strip precious metals from public works across Italy, which accompanied by arresting the Patriarch of Rome at the time for rebellious attitude, will make Italy and the rest of the West less angry at the Roman Empire and see a need for further independence.
Whatever the cause may be, retaining the unity of the Roman Empire, institutionalization of inherent freedom of man (within the plausible confines of their deranged Roman-Christian views), and the limitations of power while retaining divine authority, are the key ways of making a Roman Empire that could last. History would have an affect on these things, however, namely Islam. In our history, in the 600's Islam was able to expand beyond Arabia with a combination of military genius and unmerciful destruction, but solidifying their conquests over native peoples was because of national disunity and war weariness, the former for the Roman Empire in the form of rebellious Christian populations who tired of the tyranny of the caesaropapist Emperors and invited Islamic conquerors in so that they could practice their faith even it meant that they would have to pay more money than muslims (the dhimmi class of the Muslim caste system; i imagine it was only the wealthy because the poor in lacking funds would be forced to either convert or die), and the latter in the form of Iran under the Sassasnid dynasty who was essentially destroyed by the Roman Empire in their final war with them (though Iranian resistance with minute Chinese assistance) and in this state found that after two major defeats they were wholly conquered, to not gain independence until the 1000's and the 1400's.
In a world where the local Christians of North Africa, Egypt, Palestine and Syria were allowed to express sentience on theology and not bear physical punishment of force for crossing the whims of a tyrant, the Muslim invaders would have found it so much harder to keep their conquest of the East Mediterranean, if being able to do so at all. With this means that Carthage, the richest city in the western realms, would have been spared a second complete annihilation and Roman imperial presence in the western Mediterranean have been secure, so long as the city remained in control or intact (Carthage and Ravenna were the most powerful cities in the Empire's western realms, they being the capitals of vice-royalty polities, Rome was naught but a nostalgic relic of the past). In our timeline, so destroyed was Carthage after its conquest by Islamic forces that the citiy's ruins were abandoned and the nearby village of Tunis was instead invested in; the fall of Carthage allowed for the conquest of Marrakesh and after a betrayal by a Roman fort commander opposite of Gibraltar, the Muslims conquered the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania, save the northern hill-lands.
With Carthage intact, Roman presence in New Carthage (South Spain) may be retained, and the heavily Romanized Visigoths will continue to be allies of the Roman Empire, providing a good counterpart to the Merovingian Frankish realms in Gaul. Without the Battle of Tours (Frankish realms in Gaul unify to halt and defeat a great Muslim horde from invading Europe from the West) to legitimize the illegitimate Frankish prince Charles Martel, the Carolingian dynasty does not rise to power and there will be no Charlemagne and the whole influence on history he had. The Conquest of Egypt and Spain proved to be vital to the economy of the Caliphates, so without the funds in the form of the great treasures looted form these lands, we can expect that Islam to not be as expanded upon in this world, at least in the West. According to their scriptures, however, Islamic forces would continue onslaught to breach roman borders and the East Mediterranean may see a similar militarization of settlements like what was seen in Europe during and following the Third Century Crisis to defend against Germanic invaders.
With the Roman Empire retaining influence over the Christian world (save the Nestorians of Iraq, the Syriacs of India, and the Oriental Church of China) and retaining its vital power-bases in north africa, the Roman Empire would be able to push back the great Sklavonian Horde that conquered Greece and laid waste to the lands and the ancient inhabitants before the empire was able to push most of the invaders out and they mixed with the natives. the Danuvian Limes would still be a hot bed for conflict, if not by the Bulghar Horde that Justinian II unwisely brought to those lands (and the nemesis Bulgarian Empire that the horde would turn into) then by other forces, but again the funds from the Mediterranean means that it would not be as apocalyptic. With ties to the West still intact, perhaps an alternative history counterpart to Constans II would successfully make Syracuse of Sicily the new Roman capital (he was assassinated for this consideration), so Justinian's restoration of the West could still be a dream to be realized in the future. (Hera
From this point onward, with the technological achievements of the Roman Empire seen during the early medieval ages (Greek Fire, the automatons of the throne room, the flying throne, and mining machines) and stable national security, as well as ties to the Germanic kingdoms of the West without rise in papal power, we can see that the Roman Empire will become a couple centuries ahead of what was seen in our world, especially in the passing of ideas from the Germanic west (like the advancement of steel plate armor) to the mathematics of Iranian muslims prior to the crushing of scientific advancement by a certain al-Ghazali. Only worries be the tradition of Roman cut-throat politics, the pride of Emperors, and the influences of possible invaders like:
- The Viking Norseman (a lack of Charlemagne's Saxon Wars would prevent the radical fury of the Norsemen and their attacks on Christian lands would be less severe, so maybe less lasting; this might also lead to earlier exploration beyond Iceland and longer lasting settlement in Labrador),
- Seljuk Turks (Seljuk never converts to Islam, the actions of all his descendants never occur),
- and the Mongols (Temujin Borjigin could have died very easily while exiled as a child in the winter wilderness).
From here, i can say that centuries down the line after a lot of stuff happens, the Roman Empire spans the globe, whereby in an early action in Stellaris, they then unify the Earth under a single banner, and start mining the rest of the Sol System. They seek to expand the realm of their realized New Jerusalem to the stars, pressing their claim as the inheritor of all Creation no matter who or what may stand in their way. All planets shall like tzatziki sauce, or perish! Oh, and a lot more places are going to go with neo-byzantine and neo-byzantine-gothic architecture (from the influence of Franks and Visigoths), might remind you of Theed from Naboo.
To fit this new world of total dominance of a single, theocratic-monarchic imperial state, a new Dominante System may evolve (the first version in our timeline never dying until the empire died twice, started by Constantine I following his abolition of the Tetarchy System, tweaked by Theodosius I), the title of Basileus (meaning King or Emperor) having since given way to Sebastokrator (a title coined by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos that was itself meant to supplant the ancient title of Caesar in rank). Sebastion is a Greek translation of the Latin Augustus, and means "venerable, awe, reverence, dread, to feel ashamed in the presence of", and Kratos means Ruler in Greek. This new word is to hark back to the times of the Pax Romana while not upsetting the Greek-speaking majority of the Empire. The planet Earth is known as Hagioteira, or Holy Land/Holy Earth. The capital is Nea-Atlantikos, a massive green-tech megalopolis in-between Spain and the Caribbean, and is largely populated by global warming refugees of a largely beflooded Europe.
The words of this song, and its tone, befit my Space-Age Empire of the Romans, and the Roman Empire in general, its epic grip of fascination on me as an example of a dark picture of humanity that we must avoid to become, to never return to, and thus, to learn from.
The ruler was in some sense god's representative on earth and because of this, a weapon, which as a symbol of oppression is conferred upon to the ruler into his possession in a religious ceremony. The weapon is a religious symbol as well as a symbol of government and oppression.
So, I've been listening to this song over and over for months after finding it on Spotify:
I find it fascinating, and really like it, in a very precise, specific, probably almost nitpicky way.
It's clear the narrator in the song (whether he's supposed to be Ethan Wood himself, doesn't matter) spent his childhood with bionicle. Seeing as he's showing specifically Tahu Mata, and the fact that he still has the original set with the original canister, it likely mattered to him through his childhood, teenage years, and now adulthood.
Now, he's an adult dealing with adult problems...he clearly is approaching the end of a relationship, which is a difficult and confusing thing for anyone to go through.
So, how does he try to make sense of his emotions in that moment? He relates it to Bionicle, something that's been a part of him since he was small. He expresses vulnerability in the confusion of this moment by essentially showing something pure from his childhood. In doing that, he expresses at the core who he is, as expressed in the line "what you see is what you get".
That may be reading in too much...but really, this resonated with me in a big way. The narrator in the song clearly had hopes for everything in his life to go well when he grew up, and when something didn't, he calls back to his childhood in an effort to make sense of it. This isn't a new idea, but to my knowledge, this is the only song to do something like that with specifically bionicle...Bionicle was one of the biggest parts of my development as a child, so this resonated with me in a big way in particular.
So, bringing attention to that song is one thing...but, there's a second thing that it made me realize. All the original fans of bionicle, who were old enough to be there for 2001 and experienced the story as it unfolded until 2011, are adults now. There's an entire population of people who were influenced by Bionicle as much as the singer in that song, all of whom are entering their respective industries right now, if they haven't already.
For star trek, so many of the people who saw it in theaters were so inspired by it that they took jobs in specific scientific fields, changing what technology is available today. Some went into film, creating some of the most well-known movies and shows. Some got jobs in the government out of optimism to try to create the future. Many of those people lived their lives in a way that were shaped by what they took away from star trek. Many of them brought unique insights to their careers that were inspired by star trek. Many of them changed the course of the world in some way, influenced uniquely by star trek. This isn't at all unique to star trek, it just so happens that Star Trek's influence is well documented.
Well, Bionicle's influence begins now. Obviously, the song I showed is not well known at all, but it is deeply unique and could only have been made by someone who grew up with bionicle. I think that some of the media, technology, and policy that emerge soon may begin to be influenced by the bionicle fans who contributed to them, even if it's in small ways. I think, statistically, that at least a handful will make a massive impact in the world, influenced by their experiences with the bionicle story and sets. I have no idea what the specifics of that will look like, but I believe that that will begin around now...and that's really cool to me.
Again, maybe I'm reading too much into it. but it's definitely something I've been thinking about for a few months.
On a seemingly unrelated note, I had no idea about the distinction between "light gray" and "light bluish gray" until yesterday; I only knew about "dark gray" and "dark bluish gray" as the pieces in those two colors tend to be bigger. So obviously, I had to go through my entire list of sets to figure out which ones may have incorrect gray pieces.
The answer was easy: all of the second-hand sets I'd bought from 2013 till now and all of my own sets from before and after the color transition in 2004 that I'd personally mashed up.
And it turns out the last sets I'd EVER mashed up in my life were the sets I used for that cringy-looking ice-based MOC in 2005.
So I opened up my Kopaka Mata, Kopaka Nuva, Kurahk and Toa Nuju to check if any of the light gray pieces were mixed up, and—of course—they were.
And now they're all in their proper places.
I literally can't believe how satisfying it was to trace and redistribute these pieces after almost 14 years.
In December 2016, the best OBZPC on this site and I got together, and our relationship is still going strong almost two years later now. Strong enough that we're serious about our future to the point where I am going to finally start toward the independence I've wanted for myself by moving up to Ontario to live with her.
This also comes from my recognizing how far I've come in facing and dealing with the trauma I finally put a name to in early 2017. I've come through spans of daily panic attacks, depression to the point of complete inertness, anxiety of a severity I don't care to look at again, and through so many periods of instability and stability that I still doubt the permanence of my progress. But I know that I am more resilient now, and even if I don't understand entirely, I am able to keep moving forward.
To get myself up to Ontario and settled enough to start working toward citizenship, I'm going back to finish my PhD. I'm starting applying to various schools, and hopefully have enough credentials to pick up where I left things. I have my MA and some incredible references and work from Penn, at least.
Aside from the motivation Emily gives me, I'm also increasingly terrified by the state of things down here for LGBTQIA people, and especially for a trans woman like me. So while I have to face uprooting my entire life while still working through difficult emotional and mental troubles, I figure that, somehow, it's safer. And too, that I'll never fully heal and recover if I stay close to the places where all of my trauma has its roots.
So, this should all come together for better life? I can only say I will do everything to make it work. It's a future I've told myself many times that I would never have, or didn't deserve, but now, I will make sure of having it.
(And if you want to help with some of the initial logistical work, I do have a fundraiser.)
And while I did wonder, I've felt pretty confident that we were better off not being together, as painful as that may be. It does feel liberating in a weird sense, and since we broke up, I've been being a lot more social. (I'm really enjoying all the time I'm spending with my friends.) That was up until Saturday night, where I ended up breaking down and crying about some other problems in my life. I realized I didn't really have anyone else I could talk to about these things, who even knew. It was moment of weakness, but in that moment I wanted him back, and that's the only time I've felt that way since the breakup.
I just felt like venting that a little, and I had a BZPower dream last night, so I figured I might as well use this lil old place. I'll probably end up saying all of this to my ex since we're meeting up tomorrow to give some stuff back and talk a little, but there's one other thing I wanted to say to someone, that I can't say to him, even though he definitely already knows.
Today, we would have been together for a year.
STRANGE LIPS, fronted by yours truly: http://strangelips.bandcamp.com (twitter/IG: @Strange_Lips). If you live in or around New York, come see us sometime; we generally play at least one show a month.
Most-recent picture of me, post-haircut:
Some pics from a gig last month, pre haircut:
I'm going through a long and expensive process of getting a new diagnosis. I am on new meds now. Some professionals seem to think I'm bipolar. We'll see.
So yeah I was reckless with my health, I was overworked and constantly making overtime, and by the end of one sour week I was jobless, homeless, and wound up working with a charity and then later transferred from two separate hospitals to a behavioral health center (which was actually probably one of the most helpful places I'd visited for me to sort things out).
So yeah, kinda heavy news here. I would like to say the last thing I need right now is pity. I always felt annoyed when people just say "I'm sorry" to this sort of thing when they don't know what else to say. I know I'm guilty of that too, but some of my favorite responses have been words of wisdom, or gentle encouragement, or even from some of my closest friends just saying "I love you and I'm here for you," or something to that effect.
I've been plenty scolded by nurses and a few other people in my life (with very much good advice, to their credit).
So all that aside I've been reaching out to old friends in Ohio. I've been cleaning my room from adolescence and doing my best to ignore the news. It's one step at a time.
I was missing my friends from the west earlier, but I realized all of those friendships and bonds were made in the past three years. I'm still in contact with a lot of friends, and I'm still in my mid twenties. I have so much longer than three years left, and if I can build myself a happy social life in three years, then well... who knows? This chapter of my life is part of the adventure. It may seem like a step backwards, but life doesn't stop, even for these kinds of events.
I dunno. The glass is kinda at an equillibrium to me at this point.
I stumbled back here after I found that someone had made a small page about me over on a wikia site dedicated to the old BZP comics community. I don't know how I compared to someone like Dark709 back in the day (though my younger self certainly felt I was right up there with the big dogs), but it was nice to see that someone remembered me enough to record a couple of random facts and images.
I should really go back and see if I still have all of those old comics buried somewhere on my computer. Now that Majhost is gone, a couple of twitter avatars are the best things I can find outside of Brickshelf.
These days my main presence on the internet is a YouTube series reading some silly old Japanese Visual Novels with a friend of mine, so if that's your speed I'd love if you could check it out.
So hey, if you happen to run past this post and you want to chat about anything old forums, new forums or how much we've all grown up while this place has been around, drop a comment. I promise I'll try not to disappear for at least that long.
its so weird
like bein in an abandoned hospital but the lights're still on and you can jus hear your voice echoin down the halls
man and i spent like... idk, i think i was active mostly through 2015? but like, 12 years of havin an acct
my acct is older than elementary school
also nearly half my current lifespan
my icon cute tho
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