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Bionicle Guru

Outstanding BZPower Citizens
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Everything posted by Bionicle Guru

  1. You're not the weird old guy. That would be me. Nice to see you got some real-world friendships and experiences out of BZPower. I always envied that a little regarding all the missives I read between staff, retired staff, and their friends and sycophants alike. I think BZPower in the "real world" was mainly an east coast phenomena, and people like me here in Texas weren't really "in" on the community that was concentrated around the Bos-Wash metropolitan corridor. I always wanted to go to BrickFair and co-mingle, but it never happened. Thank goodness for Brick Rodeo here in Texas, even though I have met no BZPower members nor even BIONICLE fans through these Texas-based conventions. Anyway, I'm rambling, as old people do.
  2. Name is familiar, yes. But there were tens of thousands of us on BZPower back in the Before Time. My exploits and writings were numerous and widespread, and even then, people from that time do not recall the name of "Bionicle Guru" with any feeling. That is the way with ghosts and ghost towns, it seems.
  3. Once upon a time, there was an administrator of BZPower, one of the founders, who was fond of Ronald Reagan and the flag of the USA and his username on here was "Bionicle Rex". This inspired a host of copycat names with "Bionicle ____" something or the other. "Rex" is regal, and when I joined BZPower back in July 2003, I wanted to stand out, but not in an official-sounding capacity. I brainstormed other roles that could exist alongside and within BIONICLE and I settled on a guru. After all, Mata Nui was populated by tribes led by tribal chieftains, and there was a Chronicler and a Wall of History and Suva shrines and a Great Temple. I'm sure a guru of sorts could've found a niche in Matoran society, and that is what I wanted to do on BZPower: find my niche and be a guru regarding the toys and the myths of the BIONICLE. A BIONICLE Guru. And so I am still to this day, though few remain to remember me and even I have started to waver in my knowledge of the legends of olde.
  4. BZPower can now legally drink! Soon it will be graduating college and going off into the wide world... To think back in July 2003, I was a "latecomer" to the BZPower community. I think the major facelift in May 2003 and getting my own personal email address in July prompted me to join BZPower. Those first few years were pretty amazing as a member. Sad that so many of those posts from pre-2011 are now forever lost, but I'll always have the memories. Though I was upset BIONICLE got no more-than-marginal love for the 20th anniversary last year (and just a little more for the 90th anniversary of LEGO this year), it definitely still resonates in my heart and mind. I've been recalling a lot lately the summer of 2002, when the Exo-Toa, Bahrag, Boxor, and upcoming Toa Nuva were all the rage. So many awesome things happened to me that summer and BIONICLE is cemented among them. Axiomatic to my teenage memories. Kanohi-Power was a part of it, too, since I checked out that site before it merged with BZCommunity. A virtual toast, then, to BZPower!
  5. No, it doesn't sound mean, but the rant seems more like the standard, boilerplate reaction leveled against the hordes of more unreasonable BIONICLE fans who are screaming into the void about a complete resurrection of BIONICLE officially from LEGO. You have conflated my (admittedly) rambling frustration regarding a tribute or homage (not a set and definitely not a whole branch of merchandise) with some greater disgust of BIONICLE being the shamed, hidden titan that LEGO buries while uplifting the Harry Potter franchise. You can read that into my blog, but let me tell you, I'm well aware of how internally LEGO honors BIONICLE as well as how fans keep extracting life from it in numerous ways. Frankly, that's not my thing. I lived for the official legend of BIONICLE, not whatever fans managed to extract hungrily from it (hence my "blood from a [Makoki] stone" comment). Good for them getting a "canon" appearance for some minor character or making the original BIONICLE PC game a reality. But as a life-long fan of LEGO, I will always first and foremost be interested in what LEGO (the company) releases. That's what matters. All I hoped for was a minor tribute. I address my anger at finding out the possibility that such a tribute, if it exists, may only be a tiny sticker in a completely different theme which is celebrating, ironically enough, their 20th anniversary. I don't blame you for having the conclusions you did. But I figure if you took the time to write such an essay, I'd at least better follow up with an explanation of myself!
  6. I will concede that in spite of the controversies around JK Rowling, nothing seems to have dampened fan enthusiasm for all things related to the books. At my local LEGO store where I used to work, Harry Potter sets flew off the shelves frequently. People of all walks of life snatched up sets large and small, and if they harbored private reservations about supporting Rowling in spite of herself, they never alluded to them. I guess Warner Brothers Studios is determined to keep "The Wizarding World" a "thing" that it can milk into perpetuity, just like the Lucasfilm of today plans to milk "Star Wars" for all its worth. In that case, LEGO has to play along otherwise they lose a good revenue stream. I did state matter-of-factly that LEGO loves money, after all.
  7. As something of a realist, I knew going into this year that fangirl and fanboy pipe dreams of "The Return of BIONICLE" for the 20th anniversary was crazy talk. As much as I love the original run of BIONICLE from 2001 to 2010, there was no way in Karzahni that LEGO was going to revive the theme just for an anniversary year. It's a major one, but still. BIONICLE is done. No need to "continue" the story or reboot it (2015 and 2016 showed how poorly the latter went). My prognostication was we'd likely get something like a GWP or one-off trinket by the summer to commemorate the worldwide release of BIONICLE (Europe had the Toa and Turaga from the start of 2001, but the US and Canadian markets didn't see BIONICLE sets on shelves until July). On the lower end, I figured we might be lucky to see prints of, say, Kanohi masks on minifigure torsos scattered throughout CITY sets or sets from another theme. Then I found out about this "20 Years of LEGO Harry Potter" nonsense. Wow, I mean, I know LEGO loves money (and I write that realistically, with no chagrin or sarcasm), but Harry Potter is beyond a cash grab at this point. Especially considering several years went by when LEGO didn't produce a single Harry Potter anything. Why celebrate that, of all LEGO themes? But that's not even why I'm mad. It was the sight of a sticker on a piece in one of these anniversary sets that really spelled it out for me. In what looks like a star chart of constellations in whatever weird, transphobic, "magic" universe Harry Potter is set in, one of the designers snuck in a constellation that forms the shape of the Kanohi Hau, a symbol of BIONICLE as a whole. Great. Bravo. Slow clap. See that BIONICLE fans???? BIONICLE LIVES!!! Happy 20th anniversary! Watch my YouTube video to see how LEGO CELEBRATES BIONICLE - SECRET COMEBACK?!?!? Blood from a (Makoki) stone, people. I kept my expectations in check, but now, after seeing this "tribute" in one of the new Harry Potter sets, I'm beginning to wonder if I was the foolish BIONICLE fan too optimistic for LEGO to pay respects to one of the greatest themes they ever produced? Is this all we're getting for acknowledgment of BIONICLE's 20th anniversary? Or is there a leak to come of something just a tad more substantial? We can only hope. If this is it, though, it will be a very sad footnote to one of the best original stories I've ever heard and participated in. Reduced to a single image in a set celebrating the 20th anniversary of another, non-LEGO, IP. Well, there's always the 50th anniversary...
  8. Did not expect compliments on the drawing, but twelve-year-old me thanks you! I had been fond of drawing for years at that point in my life, but I was a slow learner. Very little progress could be seen in my work that wasn't traced (did a lot of that when I was in elementary school), but something about BIONICLE helped drive my natural talents forward. These toys and characters were so intricate that I wanted to convey that, do it justice, in my drawings. Hence Tahu here in March 2001. It's interesting to compare this drawing to the one from my other blog entry of Lewa in the trees from August 2001, five months later. Thanks! Yes, the imagery is burned in my brain. Even more so the MNOLG version of the scene, which I often puzzled over on school computers in the nebulous time between getting Tahu and getting BIONICLE comic #1 in May. But that is for another blog!
  9. This was the beginning... Exactly twenty years ago, the legend of BIONICLE officially began for me with the arrival of a small box at my doorstep. In that box were two LEGO sets that would change my life. One was Tahu and the other was Turaga Vakama, but in the early afternoon of March 25th, 2001, those were pretty much just random names to me. But by that evening, they would represent characters almost as real as I was. I won't go into the review of the builds, but as I assembled each of the two Fire characters, I sensed something more important was at work than in my previous LEGO set assemblies. The hints were in the pictures glimpsed on the canister and on the instruction pages themselves, but the full effect was only realized when I held the completed Toa in my hands. No more slick CGI; Tahu was tough, shiny, fierce, and seemingly alive. His eyes caught the sunlight in my room just right, and I almost swore they pulsed in brightness, a kind of biomechanical blink. Outside, the effect was even more pronounced. I tried to show this in amazement to my dad, but he dismissed my enthusiasm, already weary of yet another LEGO toy in his son's life. Parents just don't get it. Back inside, I dove headlong into the knowledge locked away in the mini CD-ROM. Just as Tahu as an entity clicked together in my hands, his background and the story of Mata Nui started to click together in my mind. I was glimpsing another world, a world extremely different from my own. Nevertheless, it was a world I could imagine, a world I could experience more of through Tahu and Vakama, and eventually, the other Toa and Turaga as well. That night, I drew the cover image attached to this blog, a portrait of the reassembled Tahu on a crest of sand on the beach. I knew he did the reassembly on his own, but I too had a hand in that. It was a connection between worlds real and imaginary. Even though I was twelve years old and on the tail end of a stuffy and unpleasant sixth grade year, this was a last gasp of the magical in my life, a spark of wonder as adolescence loomed and all these changes threatened to overwrite who I thought I was. Well, twenty years ago today, that didn't happen thanks to Tahu and Turaga Vakama. That isn't to say there weren't massive changes; obstacles and victories alike that would have repercussions for the lives of both my friends and I. I can't speak entirely for them, but I at least was not ever undertaking the odyssey of Growing Up alone. Whatever I faced, I did it alongside the legend of the BIONICLE. And the darkness couldn't stand before us!
  10. I mean, I get wanting to be optimistic and enthusiastic, but you have to face the facts. And the biggest one is past experience here. BIONICLE is only turning 20 years old, and that is a major anniversary for one of LEGO's most important IPs. So for reference, you should be looking at other successful LEGO themes that are gone, but LEGO has acknowledged in some "celebratory" way. Consider the main classic themes of Space, Castle, Town, Pirates, and Trains. For Trains' 50th anniversary, LEGO made a collection of mini versions of famous Train sets throughout the decades...and then gave it to employees only as a gift. Earlier this year, we celebrated 40 years since the birth of minifigure-scale Trains, and all we got was a replica of a small train from 1980 as a GWP from LEGO. That's it! Randomly in the past decade, we've gotten magnets and other small GWP to acknowledge Pirates, Space, and Castle. If there happened to a concurrent iteration of the theme (i.e. Kingdoms in place of Castle), well, we just got lucky. Mind you, all these themes are far older than BIONICLE. Why would anyone think that anything beyond a nice book or GWP is "not enough" to celebrate the 20th anniversary is beyond me. The love of BIONICLE is perpetuated and continues thanks to fans and fansites like this one. As Toa_Kralich expounded on above, it is in these communities that the real celebrations will happen. Anything LEGO gives us is gravy! I'll grant you one silver lining: if LEGO really wants to acknowledge BIONICLE properly next year, they'll wait until July 2021, which was when BIONICLE finally was released worldwide (it was only available in Europe for H1 of 2001). If that is the case, we may still very well be in the dark and far from uncovering what may be coming our way. If, say, somehow constraction was being Lazarus'd back into existence for BIONICLE's sake, it's possible summer 2021 is when it would finally be released, and we might catch hints or leaks of that early next year. In other words, it is a little too soon. I can't speak to software development, and I'll stand by my previous stance on "continuing" BIONICLE from where it left off. As far as most fans are concerned, BIONICLE finished its story in early 2010. No need to continue a decades-old web serial that has no bearing on the main plot, what made BIONICLE, BIONICLE. Whatever comes next year, I just hope it either honors what was already released, or makes a bold, new path forward.
  11. My condolences, that sucks! Fortunately, I did not have a dog growing up, so I never had to worry about that kind of damage to any of my LEGO sets. I can see, though, how this would've been especially devastating to BIONICLE parts. Good on you for performing the restoration! I'll have to check my Ehlek, I don't think I was quite so lucky. I know for sure my Hahli Mahri has cracked lime green parts, and Lewa Nuva from the Phantoka line may similarly suffer. I still have Lesovikk MISB, so hopefully everything is OK until I decide to build him. At least with the decline in parts quality happening in the latter portion of BIONICLE's life, it is easier and cheaper to acquire replacements rather than the earlier parts, many of which were discontinued even while BIONICLE was still up and running (the original Toa feet, for example. A 2004 revamp was released for the Vahki, but they were never seen in the original Mata/Nuva colors).
  12. The ultimate revelation will come when oceanographers detect a massive metal anomaly stretching the entire breadth of the Pacific Ocean floor, with a roughly humanoid form. Suddenly, the news reports that New Zealand has started experiencing massive earthquakes as a giant, metal...face...starts to emerge from within it. BIONICLE: It's been here the entire time! EDIT: Wow, a quadruple post! Haven't seen (or performed) one of those in a very long time! Sorry about that; it seems the forums kept fritzing when I went to post this reply, and it never showed up after refreshing the page. Guess I was bamboozled!
  13. The ultimate revelation will come when oceanographers detect a massive metal anomaly stretching the entire breadth of the Pacific Ocean floor, with a roughly humanoid form. Suddenly, the news reports that New Zealand has started experiencing massive earthquakes as a giant, metal...face...starts to emerge from within it. BIONICLE: It's been here the entire time!
  14. The ultimate revelation will come when oceanographers detect a massive metal anomaly stretching the entire breadth of the Pacific Ocean floor, with a roughly humanoid form. Suddenly, the news reports that New Zealand has started experiencing massive earthquakes as a giant, metal...face...starts to emerge from within it. BIONICLE: It's been here the entire time!
  15. The ultimate revelation will come when oceanographers detect a massive metal anomaly stretching the entire breadth of the Pacific Ocean floor, with a roughly humanoid form. Suddenly, the news reports that New Zealand has started experiencing massive earthquakes as a giant, metal...face...starts to emerge from within it. BIONICLE: It's been here the entire time!
  16. I went with all Noble masks in Toa colors, all Great masks in Matoran/Tohunga colors, and all Noble masks in Matoran/Tohunga colors. On that last one, it was close to picking either that or all Great masks in Metru colors, but I decided that wouldn't have much of a role in my set collection unless I wanted to focus on all sorts of Metru Nui Matoran looks and designs. The fact that misprint Kanohi exist for some of the Noble masks in Toa colors makes this idea even more tantalizing and desirable. Too bad all the original Kanohi molds are long since retired now. Lament for what could have been!
  17. This is it! The twentieth entry in my BZPower blog! Why is that significant? Probably because I just decided it would be! Blog-like writing has been a theme of my internet presence from near the beginning of my teenage experience. I got my first blog on Blogspot.com (now just blogger.com) in January 2004. My English teacher wanted us to create personal blogs for writing exercises outside of class, a new concept to 15 year-old me, but apparently, some of my peers had discovered Xanga (remember that!?) by then. Anyway, it was pretty simple. I wrote in it weekly based on whatever prompt my teacher assigned the class, but occasionally, we got the chance to do free-writes and write about whatever was on our minds. This was something I re-discovered joy in, for originally, I had to keep a journal (with paper! The primitivity!) back in the sixth grade. I actually had fun writing in it daily, but I was naive and thought my expressions within were private. Unfortunately, some imp pulled my journal out of the class stack one day and revealed some things I had written about another person. It wasn't nice , but the exposure was cruel, and I was humiliated in front of the class for it. After that, I became very wary and anxious about doing any kind of personal writing. Therefore, my lesson learned, I was able to outgrow my anxiety and thrived in blogging years later in my English class. Even after school ended for summer vacation, I still posted a few times over the summer. By now, commenting was enabled, and some of my peers could read and comment on my thoughts. But most gave up their blogs permanently after the school year, so I was alone. In time, I abandoned the blog as well. A year later, in 2005, new friends introduced me to Myspace. I was hesitant initially, but since a lot of these friends I wanted to keep in contact with over long distances, I decided to embrace it. And of course, once I found out that you could write your own blogs on your page, I was hooked. I wrote regularly on that thing from 2005 to 2008, usually juvenile, smart-aleck kind of stuff that only a cocky high school kid would write. Other times, I'd get a bit introspective or remark on local events in my town and high school. Eventually, I started adding more friends from high school, so there often lively comments and bulletins exchanged between us. Several friends actually complimented me on my writing, and that encouraged me to write more. In 2007, with the end of high school nigh, I joined another social media site: Facebook. Once again, I found Facebook (it was a lot simpler back then!) had a blogging function (of sorts) called Notes. It was a lot cleaner-looking than the Myspace blog, so I started writing some thoughts down there, too, often copying and pasting them into my Myspace page later. As my friend count on Facebook increased steadily into college, I started to give Facebook more precedence with blogging. Eventually, spam bots, glitches, and general lack of activity on Myspace forced me to give it up in late 2008. The future would be with Facebook, and as of this writing, I have almost 90 Notes written on Facebook. It would be more, but my output seriously started to lag after college, as did my readership. I think Facebook encouraged this, as they sidelined the Notes function more and more until it was almost invisible to the casual user. Plus, I think most people don't like reading too much anymore. Where does the BZPower Blog fit in all this? Well, if you scroll back through my 20 entries, you'll see my first post was in 2006, during a renewed Premier membership in the summertime. So, that was back in the Myspace heyday. It was kind of a "secret" or "joke" blog, since I made no connections in it to my "real" identity on Myspace. I wanted to keep my BZPower and BIONICLE fandom separate from the "real me" in high school, which, looking back, was kind of dumb. I was already a nerd, BIONICLE fan notwithstanding! Speaking of secret blogs, I also kept a Livejournal from 2005 to 2007. I mainly did it to get in touch with an old crush from my middle school days. That sort of didn't work out like I had hoped, but there is definitely some interesting writing on there that was not on Facebook or Myspace. With this twentieth entry, I have been more prolific on BZPower's blog than anywhere else in the past two years, if not more. I guess I like the fact that this blog is still a bit removed from my non-BIONICLE identity, and part of me is fine with the reduced traffic on this site now that BIONICLE is dead and buried. I feel like I am contributing to an archive for one of the internet's lost tribes--a dwindling folk who still remember their past and customs even as time and society pass them by. Someday, there may be nothing left of BZPower but these forums and the blogs. In that way, it pleases me to be doing my part in ensuring some memorial to my presence here, a veritable "BIONICLE Guru was here" epitaph on the gravestone in the cemetery of the Internet's never-quite dead.
  18. Thinking about it, someone should just ask one of the guys in Kenna, Woven, Cold, or Rob Zombie himself (he's pretty active still) what their involvement with BIONICLE: The Album was all about. They're not dead, and I don't think LEGO made them sign NDAs. Of course, it is entirely possible we may find out that the record company (Interscope Records) signed up these artists for them in a contract, but never actually had them come into the studio for it. So for all Rob Zombie knows (for example), he was going to do it one day, and then got notified a month or two later it was cancelled. There would be no music, even simple chords, if Rob had no idea was BIONICLE was at the time, other than a studio booking on his calendar. But I'd love to be proven wrong! I think I stumbled upon that Paul Hardcastle track a while ago and noted the similarities myself. I'll have to give it a re-listen. With change in Kanohi over the years, you hit the nail on the head with the "rubbery" Inika masks. We never got back to that nice hard, shiny plastic used in the original Kanohi, Nuva or otherwise. We got stuck with the soft plastic all the way to the end, with the Inika masks representing a horrendous departure in 2006 by making them rubber and therefore seem "alive". Re-reading the books and comics from the Ignition storyline recently, the powers of the Suletu (Kongu's mask) and their effects on Kongu weren't really dropped so much as Kongu was one of six Toa characters that had to share story time in a limited number of pages. In Hahli's case, her mask specifically allowed her to track the position of the Mask of Life. The closer she got to it, the more the mask "pinged" her mentally, causing the headaches. Obviously, these got worse the closer she got to the mask, but since it is such a specific power, and Hahli again being one of six main characters in a short book for children, I don't think Greg even had the time and space to develop these traits if he wanted to. For further example of this, in the battles during the race for the Mask of Life underneath Voya Nui, Kongu isn't even mentioned for a stretch of time even as we get brief vignettes of the other Toa Inika fighting. In conclusion, I don't think these side effects of the mask powers were deliberately dropped or not addressed. The fast-paced nature of the story and the space with which Greg had to tell it necessitated a tight focus on characterization. And then, less than a few days after gaining these masks, the Inika lose them as they are transformed yet again into Toa Mahri, with new masks and abilities. So realistically, how much of your character would change if you only had a strange phenomenon affect you for a couple of days before it disappeared entirely AND you were on a mission of the utmost importance? Not to mention you are of a certain physical and mental toughness that makes you more resistant to the damage the outside world (or others) can do to you?
  19. Bionicle Guru

    Bionicle Papercutz

    Carlos D'Anda's art really set the style for BIONICLE. Though it was only two years, the influence was clearly felt by Randy Elliott (who was the colorist when D'Anda was drawing) when he took over as artist from 2003 through 2005. Nevertheless, it was a step down, as the art seemed "stiffer" with the posing of the characters, as if there was a mandate to show them in positions that could only be replicated by the toys themselves whenever possible. The 2006 through 2007 art really suffered from Sayger's style. That's not to dig on him as an artist, and his enthusiasm for BIONICLE seemed genuine. However, as atmospherically compelling as he made the scenery, the characters suffered mightily. Every Matoran, Toa, Piraka, and warrior looked stretched, squashed, and crude, drawn with a carefree hand that seemed more intent on capturing atmosphere, not physicality. Again, might work out in other types of comics, but it was not good for BIONICLE. So many crucial scenes were rendered into murky messes, it makes it hard to re-read those comics now, as pivotal as the story was. Leigh Gallagher brought a most welcome return to form in 2008. Evocative of Randy Elliott's style, Gallagher did not feel as limited by the toys' posing abilities (granted, BIONICLE sets had gotten more articulated since Elliott last drew them), and the coloring was as bright and vibrant as it was back in the D'Anda days. Not sure why Gallagher left the team, but Pop Mhan hewed very close to Gallagher's style, adding a bit more personality to the characters, thanks in part to new pieces like the Glatorian head and hand socket (with fingers).
  20. Whole-heartedly agree. It strikes me as no small coincidence that this confusing concept was introduced in 2005, a year full of out-there BIONICLE stuff that made the whole universe a lot bigger, but simultaneously, more convoluted to follow, sometimes just for the sake of convolution. I mean, to paraphrase a popular quote, sometimes a Kanohi Hau is just a Kanohi Hau. I understood that LEGO didn't always have the budget or need to create new mask molds, but this wasn't an elegant solution.
  21. Seems to be both "Mask of Light" and "Legends of Metru Nui" (affectionately labeled "BIONICLE DTV 2") are available. Very interesting to look at, but I'd probably only pay those prices for original BIONICLE comic pages (i.e. from the 2001 - 2002 run with Carlos D'Anda as the artist).
  22. Hmm, looking at Bricklink, would this be classified as "Metallic Gold" for color? Judging by the photographs, the standard color for the gold Kanohi Kaukau that came in the Krana packs is labeled as "copper" by Bricklink. Guess I'll have to do so more digging on the origin and availability of these masks, but at least it looks to be more affordable to obtain than the trans-yellow Kaukau! And tangentially, looking at those prices for trans-neon orange/trans orange Kaukaus makes me feel like I'm sitting on a goldmine with my three spare ones!
  23. Wait, are you talking about an actually-released trans-gold Kaukau? The "olda", not Nuva or G2 version? And not the trans-yellow Kaukau misprint mask from 2001?
  24. Bionicle Guru

    New Job

    As someone who has been on the job hunt now for over five months, I feel your exhaustion and newfound relief at having employment. However, the red flags you pointed out here are definitely troubling. In a normal economic scenario, I would definitely say you should bail out as soon as possible. But considering how the COVID-19 pandemic's effects still haven't abated, it might be too risky. Perhaps best to stay on for the next four months or so, especially if the healthcare benefits (medical, dental, and vision?) are substantial enough to cover you in the worst case scenario (i.e. getting COVID-19). To be fair, this company might seem to be in such a disarray as a result of what has happened due to the pandemic, but I wouldn't give them that excuse for very long. If by four months you still see vagaries in their pay scales to you, miscommunications about basic duties, or worse, definitely look to find employment elsewhere that will (most importantly) utilize your abilities and skills to the utmost, not leave you bored or wondering what is going on. I'm sure you did your research beforehand, but what is this company's reputation? When you do a Google search, what kinds of reviews and comments come up from past employees or other competitors? If the word is not good, you definitely don't want to spend too long there as the harm done to your resume will affect you almost as much as being unemployed with no benefits. Over the past five months, there were definitely opportunities where I could've said yes to jobs that were definitely beneath my skill level and for companies with less than stand-out reputations. In spite of my need to have income again, I rejected them in order to keep my career goals on track. But I understand that can be hard if you don't have other assets (IRAs, unemployment benefits, stock dividends) to provide you with essentials until you get that better job. This is a tough time, but I hope for the best for you. Hopefully, my perspective helps you out, even if just a little.
  25. I was driving to visit my mom this past weekend and over the course of the two hours on the highway, I tuned into SiriusXM's "Pop2K" station. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they were doing a countdown of the top 30 songs for this week in 2001. As I listened, I was instantly transported back to August 2001, just as my seventh grade school year was starting. Just like the Toa, I was about to enter a strange, new world filled with challenges and potential new friends. Music has always been an essential part of BIONICLE, from the ambient, techno-tribal sounds of the island of Mata Nui to the pop rock infused chords of the "Ignition" Saga. But even outside of BIONICLE media, other music played a strong role in my associations with the time periods in which BIONICLE was extant. No other time period is perhaps so poignant now, looking back, than in August 2001. Remember, at this point, BIONICLE was in wide release. In the USA, store shelves were filled with Toa canisters, Turaga boxes, mask packs, and assorted Rahi sets. In a few weeks, the McDonald's Tohunga give-away with Happy Meals was to begin. And of course, the BIONICLE storyline was in high gear with new updates in the MNOG and the recent July comic, "Deep Into Darkness". Back to the music, the summer of 2001 was revelatory for me. I grew up in a household where my parents had so far dominated the musical tastes of the family. At home, we either listened to classical music on the radio or, when just my mom was home, Spanish music which I understood little of at the time. On road trips to visit grandmother or longer vacation adventures, my dad would play the oldies' station (hits of the 50s, 60s, and 70s) or, when we had a car with a CD player, his own collection of Beatles' songs. That was pretty much all I knew music to be. Current pop music was relegated to furtive, almost risque, encounters through friends at school. An illicit listen to "M.en In Black" by Will Smith on the bus ride home from school. A friend bringing the new "Astro Lounge" CD to class on Friday for free time. I was never allowed to hear such music on my own at home or with family. There was a weird separation there, enforced by my parents. However, it couldn't last long. By the summer of 2001, I was twelve years old and adolescence was upon me. Instead of the usual mom-administered enrichment activities, my intention to learn HTML coding for the "Build Your Own BIONICLE Website" contest proved to my parents I had undertaken a worthy, educational project of my own, and I was mostly left to my own devices that summer for the first time. Indeed, most of that time was spent reading the HTML textbook and trying out new things with my developing "Tales of the Turaga" website. However, I allowed myself ample free time, particularly in the evenings, to indulge in my other hobby, drawing. I'm not sure when I decided to start listening to music while I drew. Perhaps I did it to softly drown out the noise of my parents watching something boring (but loud) in the living room. It seemed easier to draw when I didn't have TV distractions. But music, especially songs, seemed to bolster my abilities. In my room, I had a small AM/FM radio with cassette player that I started tuning to some of the radio stations besides the oldies'. Although some of the stuff I heard was unremarkable to my ears, other songs stuck out. Songs that reminded of what I heard on my sister's "NOW 5" and "NOW 6" CDs (she, somehow, was allowed to explore music more broadly, and even had a bigger radio, WITH a CD player!) that I knew I enjoyed. Invariably, these songs accompanied some of my first BIONICLE drawings, and when I think about BIONICLE or look back at those crude depictions, I remember the songs I heard back then. Here are some if you want to make a playlist to travel back in time to when BIONICLE was brand new (no Vahi required!). Eve 6 - Here's to the Night Train - Drops of Jupiter Lifehouse - Hanging by a Moment Mary J. Blige - Family Affair Incubus - Drive Michelle Branch - Everywhere Staind - It's Been Awhile Janet Jackson - Someone to Call My Lover Uncle Kracker - Follow Me Sugar Ray - When It's Over Obviously, that's not an all-inclusive list. Mixed in were songs that actually came out the year before (like Matchbox 20's "Mad Season", which is still a favorite of mine), but I don't remember everything I heard, and it is likely I conflate some songs that I actually heard once school started but not during the summer nights that preceded it. Regardless, the music I was discovering and BIONICLE "officially" beginning in the USA all went into a benevolent maelstrom that also included the premiere of "Samurai Jack", the announcement of "Attack of the Clones", the first LEGO Legend re-release (10000 Guarded Inn!), and my first taste of true independence (walking alone to and from school). By this week in August 2001, all signs pointed to a momentous school year ahead. Indeed, as September 2001 proved, it would be momentous, but for the whole nation, and not in a good way. But again, like the Toa isolated on the island of Mata Nui, thinking it was their whole world, me and my friends were united in facing the challenges of seventh grade, and that was plenty momentous enough! Attached: "Lewa", pencil on copy paper, August 8th, 2001.
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