Review, Uncategorized, WordPress Trending

Spoiler Alert: The Force Awakens is Awesome!

No really, major spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to know intimate details about Star Wars Episode VII, turn back now.

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I went in not expecting very much, but still feeling hopeful for JJ Abrams’ vision of the Star Wars franchise. To be frank… It was the perfect throwback! From the opening crawl, I could tell that the whole product was created with respect and reverence to the original trilogy and the fans. The invasion of a Star Destroyer (or as I call them, Imperial Cheese) called the Finalizer across the screen gave me my first true sense of scale that had previously not been demonstrated, despite the prequels’ best efforts.

Scale is a cinematographic motif Abrams uses to paint a picture of the galaxy. The life-size Millennium Falcon is absolutely radical, and he constantly uses vast landscapes to contrast the intimate personal interactions – Rey scaling the crashed Star Destroyer, the tiny salvage yard on Jakku, the size of every battle matching the scale of what I imagine D-Day and the subsequent European land battles.

This Episode also parallels A New Hope (and Phantom Menace) with intent and precision. It follows the classic Hero’s Journey structure, allowing both of the new main heroes to experience the journey at nearly the same pace. To be honest, this was a risky move due to the nature of movie viewership. I found that the second iteration (which each character performed, neither lead overtook the other) always felt a little bit late. But without showing the two scenes side-by-side this would be impossible to fix.

The story beats line up with Episode IV naturally. However, what I loved even more was the cinematic parallel. The dogfighting was just an enhanced and more chaotically real version of what we saw back in the day, and the return to cockpit-view of the action took my breath away. A combination of long shots and jump cutting between specific characters allowed me to feel an emotional connection to the battle, and therefore the characters within the battle whom I had yet to meet. It was also a perfect way to surprise us with Po’s fate.

The First Order is a perfect evolution of the Empire that truly captures the grandiosity of the organization, while showcasing the evils of the dark side and casting in a [canonically] new villain in Snoke, who the truest of Star Wars nerds may have already identified, with a new hologram style that just fucking rules. The interactions of Dark Siders – specifically Kylo Ren – really had me on edge. We finally got to see on screen some of the dark side power that earned it the moniker.

Among the parallels to the previous trilogies, the meeting of Han and Kylo Ren on the bridge perfectly mirrored the meeting of Vader and Obi-Wan. The movie clearly laid the groundwork for their relationship and as soon as I saw their meeting, I knew this was that scene for Episode VII. The main cast watching the battle happen and reacting… I mean, the whole thing felt like a shot-for-shot remake of the same scene on the Death Star (and the lesser version in Phantom Menace) but on the way more epic Starkiller Base.

Without giving away too much, this episode had superb writing and timing. One of the things about the dark side is how it compounds itself. Things just pile on and on and emotion becomes the only fuel you can run on, and that’s when you turn completely. The pacing of this movie reflected that exactly and it made certain scenes way more dramatic. There was no respite for our main cast, hero and villain alike.

I find it beautiful that I can already tell the relationships of certain characters whose bonds remained unspoken throughout. It speaks strongly to the power of acting without dialogue as well as blocking, gestation…. it shows the balance between actor and director and the teamwork it takes to make a movie all it can be.

The introductions of the old cast were all surprises – I didn’t expect any of them to show up when they did. When I realized we didn’t have time to get exciting Luke stuff, I started to dread his inevitable cameo. But once that scene reached its pinnacle, the breathtaking view of that massive Island with oceans crashing into the rock faces brought that perfect contrast against the two of them standing there, silently acknowledging that the moment had arrived. I didn’t think anyone in the cast upstaged anyone else; character treatment felt extremely balanced, honest, and fair. But goddamnit, Mark Hamill, you just stole the whole fucking show for me, you sly dog.

Anyway, I could gush for hours about how great it was, but the bottom line is that the movie did everything I was hoping it would and addressed a lot of complaints by the fans. The reduction of fanservice, all clean and unmistakably Abrams cinematography and production (Bad Robot) left me feeling satiated by the movie in a way that I honestly hoped I would but expected not to. They didn’t reach too far, but they didn’t “play it safe” either. They clearly looked at the source material and – in true Disney fashion – took the best elements they could find, struck the rest from the record, and set the grounds to build a beautiful new galaxy. I have high hopes that this new trilogy will turn out to be the strongest yet.

As for Rogue Squadron and the other spin-offs…. I’ll wait to pass judgment until I actually see one. That feels like a reminder that Disney is evil and will drain our love of everything we ever cherished until there is nothing remaining in the human soul and we are but slaves to the entertainment conglomerate…

 

Anywho….

 

Bye!

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Just for fun, Uncategorized

Since I’ve Been Gone!

Okay all, here’s the good word!

I’ve been undergoing a loooot of personal development over the last few…. lifetimes. I’ve grappled back and forth with depression and various other issues, only to realize the fact of the matter is that I am Transgendered and most of my self-negativity comes from the fact that I have had to bury that for years.

I came out as a teenager and was met with some pretty radical social ostracization , as well as being sent to highly antagonistic counseling where the question was what made me “sick” and focused on trying to “cure” me before cooperating with transition goals.

Needless to say, I didn’t last long.

But after another 8 years of hiding it, I simply couldn’t and can’t anymore! So it’s on record that I am indeed Trans and intend to transition completely.

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So, there are some changes that come with it, including me being told again and again that if I’m not regularly blogging about it I’m doing some sort of disservice to the community as a whole. So, You can start expecting at least a short post every weekend (hardly scheduled yet, but I’ll get there).

Second, I figured out how to make my novel outstanding! For those who don’t recall, it’s a Crime drama with a supernatural twist. Except now, the supernatural is not the twist. The Hero’s Journey into the hidden world will now parallel his own journey in coming out and transitioning. There are a looot of themes that play into this throughout the story that I’ll probably go over once I start writing the final pre-revision draft.

Lastly, I’ve realized exactly what I need to do to leave the world better than I found it, and that is encouraging Transgendered people and people who otherwise deal with a ton of self-doubt and negativity and social stress to become the best version of themselves?

How do I aim to achieve this? Well, I hope that my personal insight can help to increase the impact to the audience of protagonist James-to-Jane Del within my novel.

The long-term version of this goal is still to complete the trilogy, and keep the protagonist’s gender a major part of the arc which will affect their interactions with what are currently very plain antagonists, and create a small body of work that people of any background can appreciate and relate to.

But, more immediately, I am going to become a personal trainer (a goal I’ve had for years, but lacked the confidence to pursue) and spend some time working towards building a clientele of people who suffer from body or gender dysmorphia, social anxiety, depression… people who are otherwise too intimidated to go to a gym. I want to become a trainer who works specifically with people who, like me until recently, are willing to let their mental and physical health dwindle because it’s just “too hard” to maintain it. The fact that I was finally able to get past that road block in this significant way tells me that others can too, and I want to make it happen!

The long-term version of this goal is to start my own safe-space gym where people of any background who simply don’t want to deal with the average gym rat can come to train without worrying about who they are, what they wear, how hard they can push themselves. We are all at different places, in different spaces, and I believe a gym that specifically reaches out to those who don’t believe in themselves.

My longest-term goal of multimedia publishing should be aided by both of these things. Everyone has a story to tell, and there are plenty of media through which to tell it! I’d like to see myself become a hub for people to share their stories with pride instead of shame, confidence instead of fear, and to become the type of person who may or may not be famous, but still manages to change lives all the same.

So, there it is! The situation as it stands, preparing to move forward.

If you’d like to donate to the cause, you can click here. I’m asking for $500. Whatever overage is left after I pay for my certification will go into building a clientele of people who need the type of help I offer. The link shares more details on that particular goal as well as my personal story.

If you can’t donate, I appreciate any shares, mentions, or whatever else you can do to help me leave this world a little better off than it is now!

Comment, follow, whatevs! I’ll be updating the blog more often. You can expect to read about martial arts, gender perspectives, whatever work I have time to do on the novel (mostly gonna be in summer 2016, I think), and other blogs that I’m loving the crap out of!

Thanks everyone for your support!

-JPA

 

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1ByOne and the Tesla Speaker!

*Disclaimer: this product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes.*

The Box

The Box

This 1ByOne Speaker is a simple and fun way to get music from my phone to play on blast. When I first received it, I was rather skeptical, but it turns out the thing is pretty darn fun. The Plasma ball can emit discharges in time to the beat and, well… I’ll explain when I get there.

I’m always looking for quality sound when I get a Bluetooth speaker. Beyond that, I expect the device to meet any claims it makes regarding controls, features, and range.  How did this speaker do?

The claims

The claims

Aesthetics

Ooooh.... prettyyyyy

Ooooh…. prettyyyyy

The speaker is a little bit light, but still built solid.  I got the red version and it looks pretty classy. The plasma changes from blue to red as it touches the glass and, of course, follows your fingers. My cat had a lot of fun learning about plasma!

Sound Quality and Range

There was no claim for range on the packaging nor the amazon page for the product, but I got my phone about 20 feet away before I started to lose smooth connection. Not terrible, but I’d like a higher range (or at least an indicator of the range).

As for the sound itself, everything was clean and true to the source (in terms of equalization and purity). The volume gets pretty loud and I could hear it throughout my downstairs, and still faintly when upstairs. If I were to improve on the product, I’d make it stereo, but this is still way better than using my cell phone’s speaker!

Controls

The speaker retains the EQ of the song pretty well. Bass is still bassy, trebles are still Attack-y

The speaker retains the EQ of the song pretty well. Bass is still bassy, trebles are still Attack-y

Not much to say here. The mode button transferred the Tesla ball between all three modes (constant, rhythmic, and off). Hold down the button to skip tracks and press once to change volume. The device did do weird things when plugged into my computer though (the mode button opened the start menu, the volume buttons affected computer volume as well). However, with my phone, it worked perfectly.

Plasma!

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The most important feature to me was that the plasma ball deliver on its promise to sync to the music. Unfortunately, I need WordPress prime to post videos, but I’ll do my best to describe my experience!

At first, I couldn’t tell whether I was on random/free plasma mode or the rhythm mode. To solve this problem, I chose to use some Drum and Bass music to get a consistent beat. I asked for help confirming, but we were pretty sure that it did sync to the beat.

What changed everything was when I placed my hand on the ball and cut the beams down to three or four.  Then it became very clear and very awesome to see! The beams danced between my fingers and bolted around my palm. It was really fascinating to see! The ball passes here!

Sorry I can't upload videos! This is a random capture, synced to the beat of Tec N9ne - So Dope

Sorry I can’t upload videos! This is a random capture, synced to the beat of Tec N9ne – So Dope

Overall

Here are my official scores for the product

Aesthetics: 9/10, it feels a little light, but otherwise it’s sharp! I love the deeper shade of red in the base, it complements the plasma!

Sound and Range: 8/10. The sound quality, while monophonic, held up to my standards. The range of 20 feet is really enough, but I’d love to get an extra ten feet!

Controls: 6/10, they worked fine on my phone, but it claimed to work on PC as well and, at least with Windows 10, there are a lot of bugs.

Special Features: 10/10, the plasma ball has three modes and the rhythmic one is really fun! I spent quite a while playing with it and seeing how I could affect the interplay of plasma bolts.

Final Score: 7/10

If you want a fun little gimmick with your music, this is a good one to grab! Thanks for reading!

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A little note and some changes to the blog

Hey y’all! Check this out!

I’ve been undergoing a radically de- and re-constructing of my life and part of that has involved this page. Some new stuffs will be coming up and I hope you’ll love it!

  1. This page is being dedicated to culture (Geek and Gamer, Information age, comic book, and whatever else I feel like) and nerding out on silly things.
  2. Monthly reviews of subscription boxes will be posted here, and I’ll soon begin linking to my Tech Reviews on another WordPress site
  3. Youtube stuff in the works, will be sprouting up on this page. Watch and enjoy! It’s about the things I love and the people who love them with me!

And lastly, a kind of major function shift here. See, the deal is, I’m a linguistics student and I’m developing through that an  appreciation of modern culture and an ability to recognize where we are and where we are headed as a species, a country, and a future component of the Borg. Anyway, part of that requires me to be in CONTACT with people so, here’s what I’m hoping will happen…

If I produce content you like (or dislike) please let me know in the comment section! If you love it, share it! If you like my style and personality but wish I would cover something else… I want to hear that too!
The long and short of it is, I am an internet culturalist studying hard to become a voice on subjects people love. I just want to bring a little joy, so let me know how I can!

Anyway… Stay tuned for more content! This page is going to start getting busy over the next month.

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My First Nerd Box!

Geek Fuel, June 2015

As this was my first ever subscription box, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I’ve seen plenty of reviews of these things in the past, but having received my first box today, I can honestly say the experience of actually getting these items gives them a whole new value!

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(Aside from the mailbox damage, the box looks great! Simple and clean design!)

After a long debate on which box to start with, I chose the relatively new Geek Fuel. The promise of a monthly unique shirt has become a bit of a mainstay, but Geek Fuel ups their game by promising no less than $40 in value per box. For those interested in the financial breakdown, I’ll do a tally at the end.

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The presentation in this box is phenomenal! Everything from the simple RoboDude to the order in which the box is packed shows the love and care that goes into the product! Aside from the mailbox damaging the box a little, it was picture-esque. Throughout this review, I’ll show the items as they appeared in the box. I’m truly impressed by the care that went into it.

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The motto and mascot go hand in hand beautifully. I love how it is RoboDude carrying the flag with his own face! The scarlet and grey logo paper makes it feel very gift-y (and gets bonus points for being my school colors!). Let your geek flag fly!

Items included in this box:
1 The Truth Is Out there Tee-shirt
2 Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
3 The Lost World by Michael Chrichton
4 Super Win the Game download code + Keychain
5 Mortal Kombat Bookmark
6 Power Rangers Magnet
7 90’s Mutant Hero Ooze
8 Box Details Card
9 Geek Fuel Mini-Mag
10 *Sign-up Bonus: Poster of Awesome

The Truth Is Out There Tee

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The photographs don’t do the artwork justice.  This classy throwback takes the near-mascot Alien of X-Files and mixes him with Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.  The text reads the series’ classic “I want to believe” in many different languages. To be honest, the level of detail in the screen printing is extremely impressive. Props to the artist!  50/50 Cotton-Polyester blend.

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One of many future work shirts

Geek Fuel Mini Mag

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This thing is super tight. It’s a 20-page mini mag with articles written by the Geek Fuel team about things related to the items in the box (and geekiness in general). This month I particularly enjoyed the DCC coverage.

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One of the stories covered inside

These geek cards are also a nice touch. It’s another common trend in subscription boxes, but I particularly like the streamlined feel of this one. It’s not cluttered or overly active. This card tells you everything you have and looks nice.

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Jurassic Park+ The Lost World

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This is the classic novel that spawned a classic (And several not-so-classic) movies. It comes in at the perfect time, riding the coattails of the new movie. I’ve always wanted to read these books, but my list is huge and I never made it to purchasing them. Now that I have them, these two books just became my next read!

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Super Win the Game + Key charm

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One of the best things about Geek Fuel is that they guarantee a game download and related item (so far, all steam games).  I’m not the biggest gamer, but I’m a huge supporter of indie developers and I love variety and low-investment games. The game trailer shows a retro (8-Bit) platformer with various references to other games. I’m actually much more excited to play it after watching the trailer. This looks like a challenging throwback!

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It's not an RPG unless you get a boss key

Update: it’s a retro RPG platformer taking the best elements of 8bit-Era games and throwing them in a blender of amazing level design. Definitely adds to the value of the box!

Mortal Kombat Bookmark

Some would talk trash on such a simple trinket. As a book lover, I’m a bent corner hater! Beyond that, it’s a pretty decent thickness of cardstock, laminated, and it has some of the most adorable versions of Scorpion and Sub-Zero I’ve seen!

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Reminders if Ninja badassery

Power Rangers Magnet

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This is a simple fridge magnet. I like trinkets and such so it’s going to be well-used. Each Ranger has a rarity value (adding to the collectible fun of Geek Fuel exclusives!). The Red Ranger is the most common with eight boxes per ten containing one. One box per hundred contains the most elusive Yellow Ranger!

90’s Mutant Hero Ooze!

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No, that's not Ivan's Ooze.

It’s the Green Gunk that turned turtles into ninjas.  The viscosity it pretty accurate to what I imagine when I think of the blob (which is also an ooze).  Not much else to say about this, but the color and the texture are solid. It’s high quality goop.

**Bonus Poster!**

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I got this through a link the company sent me when I signed up without signing up for a box.  It’s a Domo Kun Banner made of high-quality poster stuff.  Five Hundred of these were printed and I have one!

This Box is great for: Kiddults

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The Tally*:
T-Shirt – these range in value, but similar blends and prints go for $8-15 dollars depending on the retailer. I’d gladly pay $15-20 if I saw this shirt on the retail shelves (which is currently impossible).
Jurassic Park – New for $4.99 is the lowest price I found on Google ShoppingThe Lost World – new for $8.99 is the lowest price I found on Google Shopping
Super Win the Game – the redeemable code with the promotional key says $10. Pretty standard price for this kind of thing.
Mortal Kombat Bookmark – Most of the independently made laminate bookmarks I’ve found run $2 on Etsy.
Power Rangers Magnet – Fridge magnets of this style are another $2 trinket on Etsy.
90’s Mutant Hero Ooze – The official Ninja Turtles Mutagen Ooze costs $6.27 on Google Shopping.
$23.70 with shipping for the box. $42.27 in value excluding the poster AND costing the shirt at 8 dollars (which is most likely under costed).

*I’ve excluded the values of the detail card and magazine as they don’t come with “sale value” as it were. I’ve also excluded the poster price since it does not come with every box.

The Verdict:
Although I’ve read a lot of reviews and watched a lot of unboxings, I’ve never actually gotten a subscription box for myself before! I honestly read some spoilers of this box before opening and was not too excited. Having the box in hand, though, made me realize the quality of the custom products, and I think the layout itself was fantastic. Everything was neat and orderly and the mascot and motto are both true signs of real geeks running the show. It was clear that the box was hand packed and treated well. I think the company has a great future ahead and I look forward to my next box!

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Just a quick update

For those who don’t know, my life has been in a bit of turmoil. But here’s the end I’ve reached.

  1. Returning to school as an English Education major.
  2. Creating a proper writing portfolio to submit to various text-based companies.
  3. The publishing company I crafted with a buddy is gaining direction, a proper ideology, and a body of work to start with.
  4. Continuing to be awesome and train.
  5. The novel is still happening. Finally have a bit of extra money to spend on an editor.

Aaaand, that’s about it. I’m still alive and I’m getting closer to the dream. Hopefully I can make it happen!

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Uncategorized

Just a quick one. Is there a point to it? That depends what you get out of it.

Hopefully this will provoke some thought.

We all judge, it’s a fact of life, a survival mechanism. In fact, within 7 seconds, you’ve made up your mind about a person you may never have spoken to yet. The question is, should we really frown upon judging? I’m not saying unfair judgement doesn’t exist but… do we not carry ourselves as we wish to be viewed? Do you not dress and act according to the person you are, or want to be? Do you not expect to be judged?

In my pursuit of zen, I’ve come to realize that judgement is unavoidable. I make it my goal to act as a highly reflective mirror through which others can see themselves for who they truly are. As such, I do judge on appearance and actively question my judgement. If I think someone is dangerous, I am more likely to engage them, to hopefully help that person see deeper within, and just maybe allow them to prove me wrong. Reflection is questioning. Do you question your judgement? Do you question those whom you subject to it?  Do you think this post is pretentious? Do you think it could also be worth considering?

Yes these thoughts are unstructured, unfiltered, and certainly disorganized. Zen is nature. Nature doesn’t need correcting.

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