The Old House

Trees dappled the sun on the ground.
Dogs frolicked and barked all around.
And we would play too,
In the rain, with the flu,
Till they painted the old house blue.

We played in that backyard for years
With leaves from the trees we held dear.
And we’d be there today
Had we not moved away,
So that blue paint is there to stay.

We drove past the old house last night
Expecting to see walls of white.
But since we’ve been gone
That family’s moved on
And we’ll only see blue in the dawn.

I’ve Published 200 Posts!

WordPress has kindly notified me that as of my Meddling Kids book review (slash recommendation, since I didn’t really go in depth with the plot), I have published 200 posts on my Below Average Blog.

Holy moly.

Well, I’d like to thank the computer capability that makes all this possible, my enjoyment of the English language with all its incredibly sucky foibles, and my uncomfortable office chair.

But most of all, I’d like to thank anyone and everyone who has read a single thing I’ve written.

I feel like just yesterday I was writing an appreciation post, but here we go again.

Side note: See? This is what happens when WordPress sends me cute little reminders. I get overly emotional more than once.

I seriously enjoy the fact that people read what I write. It’s like the ultimate ecstasy and comfort at the same time.

So here’s to 200 more posts.

Knowing 2020 and the type of year it’s been so far though, I bet you anything this is the year the internet just stops working.

Knock on wood.

Of Protests and Pandemics

Fractures persist in the criminal justice system.
So we choose to resist.
Meanwhile
An infection spreads,
Using worldwide connections to extend its reach.
The divide has never been wider
(Or Whiter)
Between the haves and have-nots.
This year is clearly
Determined to sear
Itself onto our collective memories.
But perhaps this time of unrest is for the best.
Granted, this trial by virus
Feels like the strike of a viper
Disinclined to let go
Until the flow of venom is spent.
But protests and calls for reform
Bring more than fury and woe.
They bring change.
And changing to better treat the people we meet
Is never a bad thing.

The Social Distancing Limerick

My day-to-day life hasn’t changed
Since quarantine was arranged.
I just work in my house
With no time to grouse
Since life on this Earth turned strange.

And as time goes on in this way
With no friends to hear what I say
Even though I’m not sick
The distance hurts quick
Since we’ve all learned to self-isolate.

But we must stand strong and take heart
To give doctors and nurses a start
We can flatten the curve
If we just have the nerve
To stay home and do our damn part.

Mystery Blogger Award

I got nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by Extra Life (his reviews are honestly the best things I’ve ever read, and I’ve learned to trust his opinion more than my own Below Average one). I don’t typically do these chain award type deals, but they are rather enjoyable, so let’s do this!

The rules to this thing are as follows:

1. Put the award logo/image on your blog

2. List the rules

3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog

4. Mention Okoto Enigma, the creator of the award and provide a link as well

5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself

6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people

7. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice.

And here are the three things about myself:

  1. I don’t like seafood
  2. I can touch my nose with my tongue.
  3. I consider turkeys to be my spirit animal.

Here are the hella awesome questions Extra Life posed my way! (He asked more than 5, but I’m not complaining.)

  • What is the most unusual work you’ve ever experienced?

That would have to be the film Rubber. It’s an entire movie devoted to a tire that rolls around the desert that has the ability to make things explode when it “looks” at them. It’s goddamn beautiful.

  • What is the best work you have experienced that no one else seems to know about?

Definitely the manga Bakuman. If you are a creative of any kind, then I highly recommend this series. It’s not as well known as other works like Naruto or My Hero Academia, but it is just as gripping with a story based in reality. It’s about two kids in junior high who want nothing more than to write manga. It’s an underdog tale about kids who want to write. Come on, it can’t get better than that.

  • If you could go back in time and go to the premiere of a classic film, which one would you choose?

Ohhh, definitely Return of the Jedi. After waiting so long to find out what happened to Han Solo, that must have been a ton of fun to midnight premiere with your friends.

  • If you decided to write fiction, which genre would you choose?

I actually do write fiction, and I like writing low-key science fiction. (So not universe-creating science fiction, but more like a realistic setting with unusual happenings/characters/items thrown in.)

  • What is the most disappointingly predictable plot twist you’ve ever experienced?

I’m not thoroughly enraged by the final season of Game of Thrones, but I have to admit, aspects of it disappointed me. One of the worst was Daenerys burning down King’s Landing. I don’t know if this counts as a plot twist, but since it was shoddily “set up,” I feel like it does.

  • What do you consider to be the strangest title for a work?

The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

  • Where in a theater do you prefer to sit?

Smack dab in the middle.

  • Do you have any graphic novel/manga series you’re currently following?

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

  • When it comes to reviewing films, which do you feel are more effective – traditional, written reviews or video essays?

The effectiveness of a review honestly depends on the person consuming it. Some people absorb information better by reading it, others by hearing it.

  • What aspects of old-school game design do you wish would make a comeback?

Manual saves. Some games still do it, but not enough of them. I know automatic saves can really help a player out, but I like that sense of relief you get when you’re playing a game with manual saves and you see whatever counts as a “save station” in the distance.

  • What aspects of old-school game design are you glad went away?

Fixed camera angles. Fuck that shit, right?

I’m nominating the following blogs:

Apex Shadow Designs
The Duck in…
The Comic Vault
From famine to feast
Video Games Nebula
The Gaming Diaries
The Corvid Review
The Orang-utan Librarian
Art of Almost
Gone Away

And lastly, here are five questions my nominees have to answer! (Or not. No pressure.)

  1. What moment of gaming triumph (be it board, video, or, hell, even a physical sport) do you love to tell people about?
  2. What is your ideal reading situation in terms of environment?
  3. What three movies would you recommend to anyone, regardless of their personal taste in film?
  4. What aspects of a series (book, comic, or television) make you want to binge it?
  5. Why did you start writing and maintaining a blog?

Happy Anniversary to Me

I was planning to log on to the blog and write up a review of the Tomb Raider series. That was my plan.

But then WordPress went out of its way to let me know that today is the two-year anniversary of the day I got my account.

You hear that, guys?

I’ve been at this for two years.

I’ve noticed the older I get, the more time seems to fly by. When I was younger, it felt like the days would drag. Now, it’s like the opposite happens. That “time flies” phrase makes a whole lot of sense now. Two years have gone by quickly.

I don’t know if this blog has changed me massively or if it has made no difference in those two years.

What I do know is that I love it. It’s like the ultimate diary. Only this time, it’s not as whiny as my diaries used to be.

So to celebrate my two-year anniversary, I thought I’d let you guys, my above average readers, know how grateful I am to you. I honestly thought it would be me by myself shouting my words out into an echoing blogosphere that didn’t care one whit for what I had to say. But I’ve made some blogging acquaintances along the way, people who read my words and whose words I read. And they/you have helped me feel a lot more comfortable in my writing skin.

Hell, I’ve even gotten a little more comfortable typing the word “blog.”

Remember how I used to be?

So here’s to another year with you guys.

Side note: That Tomb Raider post will be typed up soon. I promise.

In the Eyes of a Dog (a poem)

Purpose in life
Is hard to find,
Yet a need we have to know
What we’re supposed
To do.

Too often I feel
Like a face without a heel;
No one to want
My likes or my thoughts
Or my time.

But this fluffy animal
That sniffs piss and offal
Apparently craves my self all day,
Without hesitation or delay,
Always.

She yearns for my affection,
Attention a delightful confection.
If I am not near,
It’s almost as if she fears
I’ll forget her.

And it’s at moments like these
When in the eyes of a dog I see
There’s at least one reason
For a person like me
To be.

Ode to Oatmeal

What is there to really say about oatmeal?
I suppose I owe it thanks for all
The good it does my cholesterol.

But still, that does not encompass how I feel
While munching that mess in my mouth,
Its fiber sending my stomach’s contents south.

It takes very little to prepare
Beyond small oats and water, plus hot air.
Its texture is what seems unique;
Chewing mush takes some technique.
But though oatmeal my doctor recommends,
To Hell it will my taste buds send.

Collaborating with Another Person When Writing

For me, writing is typically a solo affair. I’m a fairly selfish person when it comes to crafting a story, and the idea of having to share it or change it based on another person’s whims does not appeal to me. My writing is all about me getting my ideas down with my pen on my paper.

That sounds kind of petulant, like a little kid, but come on, you guys feel the same, right? When blogging, it’s about getting your own thoughts out there. Right? (Unless it’s not and I’ve somehow been doing this thing wrong this whole time.)

When I was forced to write with others during my school years, it felt like such a chore. Scratch that, it felt like a crime. Like I was messing with the way things were supposed to work.

Which, now that I type that down, sounds like I have a very high opinion of my writing.

I don’t.

I just have the writing spirit of a crotchety old person.

Anyways, I hate collaborating with people on writing. It’s the worst.

Well, that is, unless I’m doing it with the right people.

My sister is my number one person when it comes to writing cooperatively. She’s my number one person for a lot of things, but the fact that I can collaborate with her on writing projects should still be impressive.

The two of us have always been very creative people. We relied on our imagination a lot when it came to playing with each other since we didn’t have TV growing up, and it translates well to our writing skills.

The only thing that hinders us is my sister’s moods. She has to be in the perfect mood to get into the writing spirit. Otherwise, other things will capture her attention. I do have a little trick to solve this though. I call it the Bakuman Effect. Basically, there’s this manga series we both like called Bakuman, and it’s about a pair of teenagers who decide they want to become manga artists together. The whole series is about them getting their own manga series (which is kind of meta), and it’s a real feel-good, you-can-do-it, Rocky-Karate-Kid-esque kind of story.

If my sister reads even a single issue of this series, she’ll get in a writing groove. It just inspires her faster than a bolt of lightning can flash in the sky.

She and I both like to structure our work before tackling it, but when we do, we function like dolphins herding a flock of fish.

Side note: It’s a school of fish, isn’t it? Ah well, “flock of fish” has that nifty alliteration thing going for it.

Together, my sister and I can take on any writing project that comes our way with enthusiasm and determination.

Right now, we’re on-and-off working on a fantasy thing, which is great, because the concept phase has been going on phenomenally. We’re literally creating a world and populating it with people, creatures, religions, and customs, and it’s just fan-freaking-tastic.

My friend Mia is also another person I can collaborate with.

We’ve known each other since we were little, so that kind of comfort you need in order to share ideas that might seem a little silly with another person is totally there. Hanging out with Mia is uber comforting. Being with her is almost exactly like being by yourself on a semi-cold morning with nothing pressing to do except drink your coffee before it loses its warmth.

Plus, we’re both classics fanatics when it comes to our reading preferences, so when we write together, we get to indulge that side of ourselves. We take inspiration from poetry and hefty works of literature, molding them into something of our own.

Our best work together actually happened in college, in this terrible creative writing class we took. (Yeah, it was ironically funny.)

When Mia and I write together, we just lose ourselves.

The final person I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with is my friend Andreya. The two of us working together is just an exercise in crazy. We are wild hilarity in human form. We can spend hours together, just bouncing around every idea under the sun. Nothing is too insane to at least talk about.

Admittedly, I do most of the writing in this pairing, but I kind of prefer it that way. Andreya is like a springy diving board, and our work is the pool I eventually plunge into after our time partnering.

The greatest thing about Andreya is her ability to entertain any notion, spin it, and turn it into something new. She’s like an endless font of inspiration, an inventor with a mind that keeps churning out ideas.

So remember how I was a sour-puss about collaborating with people when I write?

I don’t hate it when it’s with these three people specifically.

It’s kind of an acquired taste.

Sunshine Blogger Award Thingamabob

I’ve been nominated for this before, but I’ve never thought of doing it because I’m normally not one to follow chains. But, since work has been a doozy lately and I have no major post ideas, AND because I was nominated by Extra Life and I really admire that particular blog, I decided to do this challenge today anyways!

The rules for this challenge are as follows:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog (though you don’t really have to thank me, it’s just a courtesy, I think).
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you when they tagged you.
  • Nominate 11 other blogs for the challenge and provide 11 new questions for them.
  • List the rules of the challenge in your post and provide the logo.

All of which I have done.

So let’s get started with the questions Extra Life asked me!

Have you ever been involved in an emergency situation (e.g. a burning building/an earthquake)?

Yep! I suffered through the Easter Quake of 2010. I do live in southern California, so it was a massive 7.2 rumble that destroyed a lot of stuff in the house, especially in the kitchen. If I recall, my novelty glass Lord of the Rings goblet got shattered. And when I stupidly picked it up to stroke it with regret, I cut my index finger, shook it, and splattered blood all over the kitchen. It looked like a low-key murder scene.

What is the worst film you’ve ever seen in theaters?

Well, anybody who knows me knows I love bad movies. So calling it the “worst” film is just another way of calling it the best film for me. But, if I’m trying to be objective, I’d say the worst film I saw in theaters was this experimental film I saw at a film festival. I don’t know what it was called, but it was a fifteen-minute long short comprised entirely of footage at a dump. That was it.

What is the best film you’ve ever seen in theaters?

Watchmen. Again, I know it’s not objectively the best film I’ve ever seen, but subjectively it is. I had the greatest time. I went to go midnight-premiere it, and there were only like fifteen people in the theater, but you could tell they were all Watchmen fans. One guy was even dressed like homeless Rorschach, complete with “The end is nigh” sign.

What is the strangest method by which you discovered a work you enjoy?

Definitely walking into my high school’s video game club. That’s how I truly discovered Halo and my love for the series.

What do you feel is the greatest compilation of collected works in your collection (of games/films/music/books/etc.)?

Funnily enough, I think I have a great collection of books based on the Halo video game series. I make it a point to stop by that section every time I go to a bookstore, so I always keep it updated. I’m really proud of it.

Have you ever re-experienced a work you enjoyed a long time ago only to determine it has not aged well?

Oh, Tron. The original. I used to have a minor low-key crush on Tron as a child (and on Littlefoot from The Land Before Time), and I remember thinking that he looked so epic whenever he did his “program moves.” Now, I just see a guy in a white unitard with flashing lights throwing a frisbee. I still love the movie though.

Have you ever re-experienced a work you hated (or were indifferent towards) a long time ago only to warm up to it?

Oh my god, Assassin’s Creed II. I never played the first game, but I picked up the second because I knew it was a classic. Right out of the gate, the controls fucked with my mind! I just couldn’t initially grasp the idea that the buttons changed functions depending on whether Ezio was standing, running, or climbing. I got so frustrated with it at first, I put the game down and didn’t pick it up again for a while. Eventually, when I did revisit it, I learned to work with the controls, and I enjoyed the game immensely.

What is your favorite opening theme to a television show?

Game of Thrones! I could listen to that theme for hours! I think it should go down in history as one of the best opening themes to a television show.

Excluding Western comic books, what series with a single, ongoing narrative do you feel has (or had) gone on for far too long? In other words, I’m not counting shows or other forms of media with entirely self-contained episodes such as The Simpsons or anthological works such as The Twilight Zone with this question.

This is a hard one, because I don’t go for series that I know have a long ongoing narrative unless I feel like it’s worth it. I guess it would have to be Grey’s Anatomy. I used to watch it with my sister, and after that plane crashed and killed off one of my favorite characters, I realized that no way in hell could I continue watching this farce. I mean, how many bomb scares, viral outbreaks, storm wrecks, active shooters, plane crashes, wedding crashes, walk-outs, mergers, and financial difficulties could one hospital go through before they shut the place down?

Have you ever been invested in a series only to be heartbroken when it was cut short with no resolution?

Firefly! I mean, I guess we got the movie, but that series was so cool, I wish it could have gone on longer.

Do you prefer hardcover or paperback books?

I like to point at words when I read, and I have to admit, hardcover books make it easier to point while the book rests on a table. But I do like the affordability of paperback. So…both!

So here are my questions for the bloggers that I’m going to tag!

  1. Have you ever hated a food intensely only to like it later on? If so, what?
  2. What books do you like that have yet to be turned into a movie?
  3. If you could pick any animal to have as a pet (and let’s assume that it is willing and well-trained), what would it be? Yes, it can be a fantasy creature.
  4. What is your go-to TV show when you just want to put something on in the background?
  5. What movie can you quote from the most?
  6. If you had a morning with absolutely nothing demanding your attention, what would you love to be doing?
  7. What locations have you traveled to that you would love to go back to?
  8. If you were a video game character, what type of game would you love to be the star in? (A platformer, first-person shooter, RTS, etc.)
  9. What is your absolute favorite thing about blogging?
  10. If you had to pick a chair, the floor, or a bed to read on, which would it be?
  11. Have you ever had a dream about flying, or is this something you’ve never experienced?

Here are the blogging peeps I’m tagging. No pressure on you guys to do this. God knows I’ve ignored these things before too.

AF7KQ

Stories I’ve Never Told

The Hannie Corner

The Corvid Review

Fed’s Life

Nintendobound

from famine to feast

the orang-utan librarian

Strange Girl Gaming

Mr. Panda’s Video Game Reviews

TotesAndreya