Tuesday, December 26, 2017


What a fucking year.

I don't think I actually achieved anything I really set out to do this year, but upon introspection, that seems to not be the case. Really nothing that I succeeded at could be considered worthwhile in the grand scheme of things, but let's be honest with ourselves, what is?

So I'm finally, finally, looking down the barrel of my last semester of university. I just have spring 2018 to complete and I'll have my BA in English and gearing up to begin my teaching credential program in the Fall. I started working at a charter school where I'm a teaching assistant for 6th grade. That's been a mixed bag of weird and awesome. While it's stressful at times, the kids are awesome, and I feel like I'm in a place where I belong for a change. This is the first job I've had where I haven't repeated my usual litany of, "I hate this place, I want to go home," within the first three weeks.

I had my one publishing credit happen this year for my short "Suicide Queen", but I count that as an achievement of last year since it got accepted last December and printed this summer. I didn't finish NaNoWriMo this year, with school, work, wedding planning, social obligations, on top of plain exhaustion and laziness got in the way of that one. Because everyone wants you to follow your dreams as long as it doesn't interfere with their lives...

Much like you, I also spent a good majority of the year outraged at the deconstruction of the world as it should be into the world we always knew it was. The swamp has been drained and all the gators and snakes are exposed, looking to eat the first thing that comes near it.

I didn't read nearly enough. I think I finished maybe three books, including ones I was supposed to have read for class. I did read a shit ton of scholarly articles though, so that's cool. Maybe I should go out of my way to read more short fiction so I can have the feeling of completion. Granted, the majority of short fiction I've read in the last few years has been like wading in a lukewarm pool. It's only offensive because you're certain there's piss in the water. Everything I've read that's been exciting has been from years long past predicting the crumbling state of the world we're currently inhabiting.

I've started getting migraines, so that's fun. I also haven't really been very strong as far as my cooking game goes either. It seems like 2017 is where I let all of my passions and joys wither and grow stagnant as I attended to real life. Not like it matters to you, but it's a realization I just had. I haven't been inspired much to create anything which is the polar opposite I was hoping would happen.

About the only thing I've succeeded at this year was raising my gamerscore and attending cinema events. I'm apprehensive about the Disney/Fox merger, even though I've wanted a Marvel Studios Fantastic Four and Avengers v. X-Men/House of M films. I'm worried for the future of streaming technology with the upcoming Disney streaming service and what it means for Netflix and Hulu (aside from the Fox and Disney content strewn across both services) in the wake of Net Neutrality's crumbling state. Granted, with the current state of Hollywood finally acknowledging the corruption and sleaziness of casting couch culture, who even knows what we have waiting for us in 2018. Maybe a year of reckoning? Maybe?... holding out for hope.

On the videogame front, I can't help but feel that this generation of consoles have only brought more tepid releases that lack the innovation and magic of the previous generation. We're 4 years deep into the current cycle, and while we've gotten some awesome games, nothing is pushing the envelope. More safety, nostalgia, familiarity, just like everything else. It's not like the games are bad, we're just stuck in a logarithmic formula state of creation across all boards and I'm too old to waste time digging through the underground all the time for sparks of creative fire. I know they exist, but finding them is a pain in the ass. When I was a teenager and had nothing better to do than read music magazines, post on message boards, and scroll through pages of unknown artists looking for someone that flicks my switches.

This may seem petty to be bummed about, but I feel stuck in the mainstream. Everything that I used to love in the slipstream has gained clout along with time. While I should take solace that I was right, and I really did have awesome taste all along, it always feels so alienating to have something you felt was special and definitive be co-opted by newcomers that change the definition of what it was to be a fan. There used to be a time where you were a nerd for loving Star Wars. Now we're fighting over the true essence of Luke Skywalker's character in the wake of The Last Jedi, and while I thought the film was fantastic (granted, Rian Johnson can film grass grow for 2 hours and I'd watch it) it's just a stark reminder that the world is no longer mine and it's time to let go of feeling special.

Or maybe I'm really falling prey to the Steve-O, SLC Punk syndrome, and I've really been a goddamn poser this entire time and I needed a wake up call about 20 years ago.

At least mainstream TV has still been awesome, granted I mostly watch popular shows and Marvel properties as of late. I loved Defenders and Punisher and have been thoroughly digging on Runaways even with the strong deviations from the first story arc. Once I found out they were making a Runaways show, I was already on board. I love Brian K. Vaughn's work, and was a fan of the comic series when it first came out (sadly, I stopped buying comics in the mid '00s). Otherwise, I haven't really jumped on any new shows.

This all started out as a talk about what I achieved this year, and mostly it was in achievement hunting form. I managed to raise my gamer score to a current 90474 G. I managed to complete all the series playthroughs I'd set out for myself. I blazed through a shit ton of Telltale Games series, pretty much all but the 2nd seasons of Batman (which I still have to play episode 3 until 4 & 5 release) and Minecaft: Story Mode (which my save got deleted for season 1 so I have to replay that before I start on s.2 because I'm insistent on shit like that). I upgraded to Civilization VI, so I've been playing that for hours on end as well, despite taking advantage of the Steam summer and Black Friday sales.

For my proposed series completions, I knocked out: Resident Evil (of which 7 was a highlight and look forward to going through it again. Top 3 in the series: 2, 1 [REmake], 7), The Arkham series (Almost 100% achievements on City and Knight. One away for Knight), Gears of War (finally played Judgement and 4. Judgement was garbage and forgettable, 4 was really cool, but FUCK SNATCHERS. Top 3: 1, 3, 4), both South Park games (The Fractured but Whole was obviously where all the season 20/21 side plots were heading towards), both Dishonored games (2 was alright. Only did 1 playthrough as Emily. Not a big fan of her magic skills compared to Corvo's in 1), a competitionist playthrough of all 4 Mass Effect games (Andromeda's Insanity mode was way too easy), all the Halo's except 5 (still haven't bought 5. Top 3: 3, ODST, 2), the BioShock series (1 is still my favorite), and the Deus Ex series (unfortunately, Deus Ex on PS2. I've since bought it on Steam and will be doing my next playthrough the right way on PC).

I never did finish my "history of the FPS" playthrough, and kinda gave up after I played Half-Life. I'm alright with this. I'm not a huge FPS dude anyway, so I was content with reading a few retrospectives on the genre. Pretty much, I ended up playing all the big titles in the genre anyway, and everything else was window dressing. Though one FPS I haven't started yet, but probably will next, is Wolfenstein II. I loved The New Order, was underwhelmed by The Old Blood, but have heard nothing but glorious words about the latest entry into the long running Nazi-killing series. If it's anywhere as fun as New Order, I'm already on board.

Really, all of these playthroughs are just excuses to get me to actually get my money's worth out of all the media I buy. If I don't make it into a thing, I'll just make excuses and never get around to actually using the things that I buy. I can't abide by that. Now I just have to do that with my literature. Maybe 2018 will be a year of reading and writing.