Noa's Diary: Blog Posts, Essays, and Musings

9/18/23 - Thoughts on the Pokemon DLC, and Bloodstained Predictions

So, I got the Pokemon Scarlet DLC a little bit after The Teal Mask
came out since I wanted to see what people thought of it first. And I had a pretty
enjoyable experience! So I figured I might write down my thoughts-

The location, Kitakami, is pretty nice. It’s kind of weird to think
about a new region (however small it may be) being introduced as a side area but
I guess the Sevii Islands kind of already did that in FRLG. I like how the areas are pretty
varied in design too, even though Kitakami itself is pretty small I never felt bored while
exploring it. Some highlights are the Chilling Waterhead cave (most of Oni Mountain
tbh), the apple orchard, the rice paddies, and the festival. I like that they
added in a new minigame (Ogre Ousting) as well since I liked that
about the base game as well. (Especially the snow slope)

I like the new Pokemon designs and I wish they had
introduced a few more than they did. I like the Sinistcha line and the new
legendaries, especially Ogerpon. Lately Pokemon has been doing a pretty
good job at making the legendaries actually be focal characters in the plot, so
it’s more easy to get attached to them. That’s why Koraidon is one of my
favorites, for example. The human characters had pretty simple arcs but they
were endearing enough, I really liked Carmine and I thought Kieran having
negative character development (presumably to be expanded upon in the
Indigo Disc chapter) was a really interesting choice. It was pretty simple but fun
to play through. Having the side objective of catching 150 Pokemon to be
able to encounter the new Ursaluna form was also a nice excuse to fill out my
dex considering I usually end up neglecting it. Ursaluna is one of my favorite
newer Pokemon so I’m pretty happy it got a new form. I also thought the final
four-phase boss fight of the story was a ton of fun.

I like the DLC model more than the “third game” model that they’ve
used to add more content in the past, but I also wish this kind of expansive
and entertaining postgame was in the base game. Sometimes I
remember that Pokemon Black and White kept like a fourth of its region to the post-game
and I weep. Sometimes I remember Johto having the entire Kanto region as a post-
game and I also weep. I mean, Legends Arceus (the best Switch Pokemon game
imo) has a pretty good post-game too. But SWSH and S/V pretty much reserve
their post-game to paid content, which is kind of a sad trend to see
happen. Is The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero worth the asking price? I think I’d
have to wait for the Indigo Disc to be certain whether the average player would
find it worth it, but I definitely had fun with the first installment. I feel like
I’m more fair on Pokemon’s more recent outings than most people
are, so I’m also slightly biased.

ALSO, here’s the next thing I wanted to talk about, and
that’s the last of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’s updates and additional
features. Chaos and Vs. Mode look pretty fun and I can imagine they’d be
a blast with friends, the new outfits are cute (particularly Succubus Miriam
I’m a fan of), but what I’m by far most excited about is DOMINIQUE’S CURSE. If
you’ve read my previous blog post you know I absolutely loved Simon’s Quest,
so having this announced right after beating it- essentially a Simon’s Quest
inspired new game mode focused on the villain stuck in purgatory- felt like
fate. Especially now that it’s been announced that it will be lore focused
and completely canon to Bloodstained’s story. This mode was made for me!

I always felt like Dominique was kind of under explored,
so having a mode entirely focused on her is really exciting. So,
that leads to my prediction... I think this mode will be a posthumous
redemption arc. Either that, or the reverse (possibly with multiple endings,
Simon’s Quest had multiple endings after all). She is trapped in limbo, after all,
and the series has placed her in a sort of moral ambiguity before. While
she is the main antagonist of RotN, she’s also an ally and playable character
in CotM2. And her motivation for her villainy, having her parents killed by the demons
summoned by the Alchemists, also ties her motivation in with sympathetic
characters like Miriam, Zangetsu and Gebel, who were also hurt by the
actions of the Alchemists. I wouldn’t be surprised if this mode specifically
explores and dissects Dominique’s morals...? If I’m right, I’m pretty excited
to see how they could handle a redemption for Dominique.

That’s mostly it for now. I have beaten the original NES
Castlevania and about half of Super Castlevania IV between this and my
previous blog post, which is pretty cool. Classicvanias are especially fun when
you play them with someone else and can take turns when you die, so
I’ve been mostly playing with my girlfriend.

Other than that, not much to share. I’m considering getting
into writing music again but no guarantees. I wish I gelled more with writing
instrumentals, since every other part of the process is a lot of fun.
It’s just instrumentals I find really tedious. We’ll see!

9/4/23 - Does Simon’s Quest Deserve Better?

So! First blog post of September. I had gone a little while without
doing much gaming apart from WolfQuest, so I decided to get back into
the swing of things by trying out Simon’s Quest, as I hadn’t beaten it before, and
I had very little experience with the retro platformer side of Castlevania-
mostly the metroidvanias.

Simon’s Quest, in all its lopsided ambition, had always intrigued
me. I mean, it’s a very early video game with an open world and a day-night cycle,
which went on to be ubiquitous in a lot of modern games. Generally the impression
I got beforehand was that it was probably not as bad as people said, but still pretty
clunky and overly cryptic... I ended up liking it a lot more than I expected,
though! Simon’s Quest unironically rules.

First of all, its cryptic nature is not unique at all. A lot of adventure-y NES
games are equally if not more cryptic (I found the original Legend of Zelda a lot
less easily approachable, and that game is considered a classic!) And a lot of that is
simply due to the translation errors and constraints, where hints and clues become
pretty scrambled. But even with some of the more obtuse puzzles, like the infamous
red crystal at Deborah Cliff one, had text in-game alluding to how they’re completed.
If you reach that point in the game, you’ve almost certainly knelt with a crystal before
to venture beneath a lake, so it’s not nearly as unintuitive as it seems... Still, I did play
this game with a walkthrough, and I think having easy access to puzzle answers
in case you get stuck has made this game age a little better. You’re going
to have a more enjoyable experience with the ability to find a
little help if you need it.

I really like the sense of progression in this game. Finding the full
collection of interesting subweapons, abilities and whip upgrades feels really nice,
and it feels so awesome when you finally get that fully upgraded flame whip. I was
worried that there would be a lot of grinding, but after the first town or so you
don’t really need to grind all that much for currency. The enemies are alright, but
most of the challenge of this game comes from navigating your environment, which I
like just fine. The bosses are a little underwhelming once you figure out that two of
them can be stunlocked- including Dracula, lol. But I would argue that working
your way up to feeling super-powerful is part of the appeal, at least for me. I took
a somewhat meandering path and ended up with the second best ending, which
surprised me, since I expected to get the “bad ending”, seeing as I really took
my time with the game. (I am still convinced the ending text got
scrambled though, idc what anyone says...)

I also think Simon’s Quest excels at atmosphere!
The bustling towns going completely dark and locked up at night, the
mysterious graveyards and swamps, the hushed warnings of the villagers,
and the empty, eerie silence of the journey to the heart of Dracula’s Castle
are all incredible at getting you into the right mood. It really did remind
me of those classic horror movies it takes so much inspiration from. It just
feels nice to explore and traverse the mysterious countryside. I like how
as you progress through the game, the townsfolk grow less and less friendly,
until you reach the last village, which is nearly completely empty... Spooky.
The soundtrack complements it as well, and early on you can really
find yourself dreading nightfall. As you progress, though, it’s a lot easier
to handle what the game throws at you, which lends to that sense
of progression I mentioned.

I’m going to get a little controversial and say that this is
probably the best NES game I’ve played so far (though I haven’t played a
huge ton of them, so take that opinion with a grain of salt). I think
Simon’s Quest’s reputation is a little unfair, honestly. It’s just a
nice, enjoyable horror-tinged adventure, and worth giving a shot!
And given that IGA cited it as an inspiration for what he would
eventually do with Symphony of the Night, its influence really did
change the identity of the series over time. (And, hey, my favorite
Castlevania game is sort of a stealth-remake of Simon's Quest, of course
I'd end up loving it!!)

Also, does anyone else like to save and quit video games at a nice
and pleasant village or hub world when you’re finished with them
so the player character can “live there”? I always save OoE at Wygol Village
before I turn off the game, and I took Simon back to Jova before I closed
the book on Simon’s Quest, and so on... I assume it’s an “autistic people
can have empathy for inanimate things” kind of thing, but I literally always do this!

8/21/23 - WolfQuest “Legacy Style” Challenge Idea

Hey everyone! Bit of a different kind of blog post this time around, that
pertains to one of my favorite video games, but I had an idea for a hypothetical WolfQuest
Anniversary Edition challenge run. The basic idea is that you adapt the game to
the various gameplay features of the old “legacy” version of the game, since
I’m a longtime player... So, I figured I might put it on my site for anyone
who’s into the game. (Bit of a niche audience I would imagine?)


Some general rules: Your wolf must find a mate in Amethyst Mountain,
and move to Slough Creek when the first family snapshot is generated.
As a general rule you can only hunt elk or hares. You may not pick any age perks.


-In addition to the two required elk hunts, you must win an
encounter with every stranger wolf pack on their territory in Amethyst Mountain
before you can choose a mate.

-You can only court wolves while deep in stranger pack territory, not on
No-Man’s-Land. (Whether the mate you choose is a dispersal or a
pack wolf doesn’t matter, though.)

-OPTIONAL RULE: Try to aim for mates that will grant you a
litter size close to 4 or so. (This is optional since it’s a bit hard
to predict or guarantee litter size)


-Once in Slough Creek, you may only settle territory around the
“First Meadow” area. Additionally, the only dens you are permitted to settle in are the
three legacy dens (The stump den at Bison Peak Cutoff, the rock den at Aspen Heights,
and the rock den at Saddle Meadows). If forced to move your pack must remain
nomadic until they can settle at a rendezvous point. Moving dens
wasn’t in Legacy after all ;)

-Pups can only eat regurgitant and not solid food.

-OPTIONAL RULE: No Woofing during predator attacks
(unsure of how balanced this would be hence why it’s optional)

-The only rendezvous point you may choose is the one in Douglas Fir
Slopes where the original journey takes you. You MUST cross the creek at least
once during your journey. Once the Journey is over, you’ve technically won
the Legacy Style challenge (That’s where the original game ended, after
all) and you may lift restrictions or keep them as you see fit while loafing.


You may only have one territory hex at a time, and it must
be where your current home site is. You will likely have to venture outside of it to
an extra level of challenge to the game.


8/15/23 - Noa Reviews: Last Voyage of the Demeter

Hell. Yes. I have been WAITING for this movie, and it
did not disappoint. The film takes a relatively simple chapter- a crew full
of sailors is picked off one by one by Dracula on their way to
London- and expands it into a thrilling tragedy.

Though you know the crew is doomed from the very start,
it's very easy to get attached to the various members of the Demeter. As a
result, some deaths hit pretty hard (not spoiling but OOF). I also quite liked the motif
of knocking on wood to signal for help and how Dracula spitefully mocks
the same sound near the end, it was pretty chilling!

My favorite characters were absolutely Clemens the ship doctor,
and Anna (her "he fills you with dirt" speech is one of my favorite parts
of the film, the implications are just heartbreaking...), since they received the most
screen time overall, but other highlights involve the captain and his son, and
the first mate. I wasn't sure what I was expecting from the more animalistic/bestial
take on Dracula, but he can be pretty scary (though I think the turned crewmember
who began stalking Toby around the ship was even scarier!) and more importantly
allows for the crew to be the real stars rather than stealing the limelight.

I had seen the film compared to Alien and The Thing and I agree with this;
tonewise it's pretty similar to those films. And my God is it a tragedy! The way to
make a good tragedy is to dangle hope in front of the audience, which this movie
excels at. It's really gripping seeing all the various escape plans unravel, until (almost)
the entire crew is dead. There is one survivor at the end, but I think the
movie really earns that small victory.

The way it plays with the themes of the novel- can science or superstition
understand something supernatural?- is also quite nice. It really does feel like
it was made with a lot of love for the source material.

Once again I'm pretty sad that a new Dracula film I ended up enjoying
is currently a total FLOP at the box office!! (pour one out for Renfield) I mean, come
on, are vampires just not in fashion anymore? Anyway, I hope that if the weird little
trend of Dracula movies that expand on one specific aspect or part of the book
continues, we get a full-blown Lucy movie telling the story of how she
died. She deserves it, after getting mischaracterized for
years and years :P

So, yeah. Good movie! Give it a chance if you
can see it in theatres. I'll be sad if it's remembered as nothing more than a box
office bomb. My girlfriend is making a more detailed write up that will no
doubt express a lot that I can't as well, so I'll link her
blog page here as well.

8/3/23 - Barbie: Feminist Classic or Just Pure Plastic?

So!!! I went to see the de facto movie event of the
summer. This film has been hyped up since its very first trailers. And I do
think that it deserved the hype, to some extent. I do like that the big blockbuster
of the season is an explicitly feminist work, and, I mean, the Akio
car from Revolutionary Girl Utena makes a pretty prominent cameo
so it’s gotta be good. (this is what convinced me to watch the
movie when the trailers were still rolling out.)

And I did have a lot of fun, and I’m glad I went!!!! I liked a lot
of the jokes even though the trailers had me a tiny bit worried (has anyone noticed
that trailers are nearly guaranteed to be more obnoxious and screamy than the actual film
in question?) and oh my god the SET DESIGN I could just die. Everything in Barbie
Land just absolutely looks like a toy. It’s beautifully done. I also liked how the music
was interpolated, the film was almost a musical but I wish they had gone far enough
to actually have it BE a musical. The I’m Just Ken song was absolutely delightful

I think my main issue with the movie is that if you’re sort of tuned in to feminist concepts,
and if you think about the political messaging of the movie for more than 5 minutes, it makes
you want to start gnawing on wood. It’s the only way I can describe it. I want to
just take my metaphorical beaver teeth to the foundations of a cheery suburban
home and then run into the woods and swim in the water and feel it rush through
my fur and- what were we talking about? Oh yeah, Barbie.

The climax of the film is the Barbies, deprogrammed from the patriarchal brainwashing
of the Kens, voting their “Kendom” constitution out of power. And, like, I feel like having
the message be “just go to the polls” feels a little tone deaf. In the last U.S. election,
the “good guy” won the presidency and yet America is still backsliding into fascism. The
political climate is becoming more and more hostile for oppressed groups in a way that makes it
clear it’s a symptom and the disease is much larger. At a certain point, you can’t
just vote your problems away. Sometimes further action is required! The system
is rigged, so “trust in the system to overthrow systems of oppression” feels
like maybe the wrong message to send. IDK!

None of the worlds presented within the film are utopian. We have the initial-Barbie
Land, which is somewhat “matriarchal”- everyone lives a happy life but the sad kens are
ignored a lot waaah :(. The Real World is, of course, the real world, and it’s patriarchal
and oppressive. At the end of the film we have a new vision of Barbie Land, where the Kens
will “eventually get as many rights as women do in the real world.” Is this the only utopia
we can imagine? Not true equality, but a gradual, bureaucratic increase in rights that’s
just as fucked as the real world is? Can we not conceive of a revolution? If Barbie
is an idea, an eternal concept, as the climax of the film says, why can’t we make the leap
to the idea that the line between Barbies and Kens, this binary, is constructed
and arbitrary? They’re all made of the same plastic, after all- they have no genitals.
I don’t know. It just feels like such a pessimistic
message to send.

“Eventually things will get better. But only slightly, and very slowly.”

(I think the move here would be to make Barbie World an allegory for the
real world in a campy, overly-heightened version of real life gender roles like what they
did with Kendom, and present the world outside of it as something entirely disconnected from
our real world entirely- a utopia for the audience to imagine but not grasp- it’s Barbie’s now.
This is something I think Revolutionary Girl Utena does very well so I’m absolutely stealing
this approach from that series, lol. But this also means the movie doesn’t do a
good job at selling the idea that Barbie would leave the shell of her world behind
for the real world, when it sucks so bad to live in right now and we SEE that
represented onscreen. Why can’t we imagine or conceive of something
better than “sort of equal but not really”?)

Why is there a whole speech about how “we need an ordinary Barbie, who isn’t
in an interesting career, is a mom, and doesn’t want to revolutionize the world or
anything” like... I don’t know. I don’t want to be ordinary. I don’t see an ordinary
life as aspirational. I know the point is that we’re “expected to be extraordinary
all the time” but I don't know. I don’t know!!!

Or maybe I’m expecting too much from an advertisement.

Ultimately, Barbie is an advertisement, created with capitalistic intent.
There’s no way that I’m going to get a fleshed out, perfect critique of the gender
binary and patriarchy as a system of violence from a movie that is, ultimately, created
to revitalize a toy brand. While the movie does make some winking nods at criticizing
Mattel, the board is presented as a group of ultimately harmless bumbling idiots. They
just need More Female CEOs (wink). It’s a fun, well made advertisement, but
it exists to service The Brand above all else.

(Also, I’m not sure how I feel about “Barbie is a real woman so she has a
vagina now”. If the line was “I’m here for bottom surgery” instead of “I’m here to see my
gynecologist” that would have been awesome though and I would have no notes)

In Conclusion: Bad movie. Earring Magic Ken didn’t even wear his famous
cock ring, so what was the point????

In Conclusion, Again: I find it weird that horses are used as a patriarchal symbol here
when horses (especially in this doll/toy context) are sooo girlcoded to me. Like, what
about all the horse girls? Did you know the only Barbie I’ve ever owned was a vet Barbie
that I bought specifically because she came with a cat and a horse with a brushable
mane and tail and I really really really wanted the horse. Did you know
that? DID YOU KNOW THAT??????

Third Conclusion: I seem really harsh on this movie considering I liked
it overall and really enjoyed my time with it. But I think the fact that I LIKED
it is why I wish so hard that it had been able to engage more with Barbie
as a cultural symbol and present its feminist messaging from a more analytical
gaze. I just think we can aspire to more than this. That’s what’s at
the core of all my thoughts on this film.

Final Conclusion: Everyone should watch Revolutionary Girl Utena.

JULY 2023
7/27/23 - Fuck Castlevania Nocturne! (My thoughts on the trailer)

Well. We got the surprise announcement yesterday:
Netflixvania’s new spinoff show “Nocturne” is getting a trailer today.
And it’s coming out in two months. Great :(

I make no secret of my hatred for Netflix’s take on my favorite series.
I had hoped it’d at least be a bit less bad without Warren Ellis
at the helm, but nope. Even before the trailer dropped, we got
an official article from Netflix, and it’s worse than I could have
expected, with allusions to the protagonist Richter fighting an
“evil cabal of vampire elites” (some very loaded, very antisemitic language!)
and that their only black characters are slaves. And while
I acknowledge that slavery is a historical reality, the way
Netflixvania has handled this subject in the past has me
fearing the worst. (See: how they handled aspects of Isaac
and Hector’s stories- why is this the only narrative their characters
of color are allowed to have, and presented so
voyeuristically at that?) Even worse, the article gives me the
impression that in this story, vampires are responsible
for slavery. God forbid we condemn (white) humans for
things they actually, historically did. Vampires did it, you guys!
*banging my head against the wall*

I dunno, I’m suspicious of how they’re going to handle
any of this. While I do believe triggering topics like
racism, sexual assault, etc. can and SHOULD be discussed,
this particular studio has burned me before,
especially now knowing the allegations about the workplace
culture that’s been allowed to thrive there.
I don’t trust them to handle this topic well.

Now onto the trailer itself...
(This is mostly just me bitching :P)

It’s mostly contextless action shots, and not much there that isn’t
already revealed by the Netflix article. The art style still looks a bit ugly
to me though it is a marked improvement over the first show.
Characters carried over from the games are entirely different in personality,
the story is entirely different, more dead women used as backstory fodder,
Maria seems to be older (cowards couldn’t handle a 12 year old magical girl vampire
hunter?), Vampire Marie Antoinette (who’s actually Elisabeth Bathory if the
article is to be believed?) etc etc. Why are we in France, anyway? I wouldn’t be enthused
regardless, but the added context of the article makes this a lot harder to swallow.
Richter Belmont is a character who is very special to me, my favorite Belmont
in the series, so seeing his incarnation in the games about to be inevitably
overshadowed by the show just like what happened to
Dracula’s Curse and Curse of Darkness... It makes me sad.

(Also, I really hope that shot of the eclipse and all the talk of
a “vampire messiah” doesn’t mean what I think it means...
Soma fans I am so so sorry if it’s true!)

What really hurts about the show’s existence, more than any other
run of the mill bad adaptation, is that it’s treated like so much more important
and better than its source material- all while being rotten to the core.
As a fan of the games, it’s frustrating. This is why my webring and
forum disallow fans of the show. It’s just so oversaturated. I just want to see
anything else! Anything at all! All while this drivel is praised as the
“best video game adaptation” by people who haven’t even touched the
games in question!

So, yeah. I’m in a bit of a sour mood.
This looks like it might be as bad as the first show. And the
lack of thought to which stereotypes and conspiracy theories they
throw around is seriously, seriously worrying.

Shit sucks!

7/22/23 - Fin Fin Appreciation Post

So, as I come up on a month spent playing Fin Fin on TEO the Magic
Planet every morning (apart from the days I was away from home asdkjhd) I think I have
a lot of new appreciation for the game and what it accomplishes, and this blog
entry is mostly an excuse to gush about the sweet little beastie... So I guess
this is a bit of a review? But don’t take it that officially, haha. More
of a little “appreciation essay”.

When I started up the game I had one specific goal, and that was to get Fin
Fin’s friendliness stat to maximum (this took a few days and my play sessions
were pretty short, not long at all...) but the kicker is that leaving him for a day or more
will cause it to decrease again, incentivizing you to keep checking back on what’s
going on on TEO, which also allows you to see the changes in the environment
and weather over time. Maybe one day it’s raining and one day you see some
interesting cloud formations or a rainbow, and the plants in the various
environments change with the seasons. It’s a pretty casual gameplay loop,
but I think observation is the key part of what made me engage with the
game so much. Interacting with Fin Fin is delightful (and I’m really glad that
there’s an alternative to microphone controls built into the game! Not a lot of
games provide that, and I am sort of uncomfortable with speaking out loud or
being recorded. So having an alternate way to engage with the game’s mechanics
and still get the full experience is really nice.) and it’s so cool seeing an interesting
animal in the distance while that happens, or seeing Fin Fin catch a fish and carry
it across the map to his nest- it makes it feel like more of a world. Did I mention that the
consistency in this game is amazing? There are a lot of screen transitions and loading
zones for each area in the game, but the continuity between them is carefully
held. I saw Fin Fin take a Lemo fruit from me, fly across the map, and
then feed that same Lemo fruit to his chick Fin Fin Jr. I’ve seen him
catch a fish, fly to the Amile Forest, alight on a branch, and then eat the fish.
There’s a lot that goes towards making him feel like an immersive, real
creature. Fin Fin is a pretty old game, but even now I think the stated
goal of creating an “artificial life” is accomplished. And
his singing is beautiful!!!

It’s easy to assume the game is boring or a bit of a relic, especially
if people have only seen it via the WRTV stream that caused the current
“Fin Fin renaissance”, as it isn’t really a streaming-ready game. It’s difficult
to realize at first what exactly you’re supposed to “do”- even despite this it’s a pretty
casual and low stakes game. Fin Fin mostly keeps to himself in the beginning
of the game, until you start to build up a bond, and even then he mostly takes care
of himself. It’s more of a birdwatching sim than a virtual pet game, which I actually really
like. The world of TEO is bigger than Fin Fin, who is just one animal in a larger ecosystem
that you can only really catch fleeting glimpses of. I would argue this is actually one of Fin
Fin’s strengths, especially playing the game now without any of the manuals and stuff
that would come with the physical game. It feels very mysterious, which adds to the
intended feeling of observing a place familiar-yet-alien. There aren’t a lot
of super polished walkthroughs, gamefaqs or wikis at all, but the fansite scene
is very well maintained. (Hats off to EMGE who has been running for 22 years
now! It’s my go-to site when I’m curious about something I might have seen
in the game.) Nowadays we can easily find all the answers about a video game
online with a click of a button, but Fin Fin, itself from an earlier era, still thrives
off of the hand-made web, which I think helps to preserve the mystique of the “real
computer creature” to an extent. I wouldn’t want it any other way, and I’m glad
Fin Fin is my new best friend. In a sort of twist of irony, the things that would
otherwise cause the game to show its age are what instead have made me
consider it an enduring classic. Fin Fin on TEO the Magic Planet is more
accessible than ever thanks to the Fin Fin on QEMU emulation project,
so there’s no better time to give this charming little game a try.

TL;DR I have Fin Fin fever, baby!!!

7/16/23 - THE LONDON TRIP!!!!

Oh man oh man oh man GUESS WHO’S HOME FROM
LONDON!!! I had such an amazing time but I will admit I got quite
homesick. I wish I could take all the chilly weather with me,
though! And all the cool old buildings :P Sorry about
the long break from webmastery but I have returned...

I wrote some notes while I was on the trip after each day but
these ended up being way too long so I’ll give you an abridged version here.

Day One

The flight was in the late night and was honestly super
uncomfortable, I barely slept and my back hurt like hell. The snacks and stuff
were nice though. Compared to some other airlines I was surprised they gave
us two whole meals, I was used to getting the usual peanuts and a ginger
ale. (I did still get ginger ale. It feels necessary to do that on a plane
at least once.) Getting through customs was pretty seamless compared
to how it is in the U.S., it was pretty much automated!

Day Two...???

When we got to London we went to get dinner
(since it was the afternoon by the time we got there Because Time
Zones) at a pub and got fish and chips. I promptly fell very asleep
at 7 PM and slept terribly and woke up at 1 AM due to jet lag.
But my first ride out of the airport on the Elizabeth Line was so
magical, I kept staring out of the window at all the beautiful old buildings I saw.

Day Three

On this day we went to the British Museum and oh
my god that place is huge and not well air conditioned... Despite this
it was probably one of my favorite things I saw on the trip, it was just
fascinating. I thought it was especially cool seeing the Rosetta Stone. We also
reserved a really nice lunch at the Great Court restaurant which
is right at the top of the museum, it was really amazing up there. I had lots
of strawberry and mango tea, a ribeye steak, and a REALLY YUMMY black currant
and wine flavored panna cotta which I’m still drooling over. I also got one
of two souvenirs I got on this trip, a very cute plush Bastet. They also
had matching Anubis plushies but I did not get one of those regrettably.
We spent pretty much the whole day at the museum so once
I got home I went full relax mode and did one of those facial
mask things. It was red so it looked like I got my face ripped off lol. SCARY.

Day Four

I saw two major things today: Mary Wollstonecraft’s grave
(in this absolutely gorgeous cemetery) and the TATE MUSEUM which
was filled with such incredible iconic paintings, oh my god. I also got to
see their exhibition on the Rosettis which was really cool and
interesting. It was just jaw dropping so I would definitely recommend visiting...

Day Five

This was the day we saw the absolutely incredible Tower
of London. I thought the armory was really cool and I’m glad
I opted to stand in line for the Crown Jewels as well, but I think the coolest
part was just being around those amazing historic buildings... and the
ravens!!! So cute!!! Before we went I also got one of those huge full
English breakfasts which was very good. My other souvenir from the trip
was a Tower of London shirt.

Day Six

On this day we rode a riverboat on the Thames and we
went to tour the Cutty Sark ship, which has been converted into a really
interesting museum about the history of tea trading ships. And, because
of that, you can actually go to have tea at the museum right underneath the ship
itself!!! And that was amazing, I’m still sort of craving the cucumber sandwiches
(and clotted cream. oh my god I wish clotted cream was sold where I live. oh my
goddd). After that we went to Greenwich park and saw the royal observatory
museum which was one of my highlights of the trip I think. The park itself
was sooo pleasant. I really do love chilly weather.

And then, in the evening, we went to see a production
of Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe Theatre. It was really fun,
but I sort of wish I had seen a different play because I’ve seen this one
several times already and there’s a lot of Shakespeare I’m not entirely
familiar with yet. It was also sort of disappointing that the actor for Puck was
out sick, and the understudy didn’t get nearly as cool costuming as the
original actor was supposed to from what I can tell. Despite that I thought
it was a really fun show. When we came out it was night time and seeing
the city all aglow was really gorgeous, especially seeing the St. Paul’s Cathedral
in the distance. We never got to visit the interior regrettably. Maybe next time?

Day Seven

On this day we went to see the Natural History museum
and then I got to spend the rest of the day relaxing in the little dorm room...
The museum itself was very cool, I especially liked seeing all the
taxidermy. And the building was just amazing!!!!


The flight back was so much less unbearable and uncomfortable
than the flight there and the food was better this time around as
well. There were some forecasted delays that didn’t actually end up happening,
so that was nice. And we got home without any issue and I slept like a rock.
My cat must have missed me a lot since he was snuggling with me all through
the night... What a sweetheart, I missed him too :,)

I think if there’s anything I really wish was different about this trip
it’s that I wasn’t taking it with my parents. I usually try to stay pretty positive
on this blog but my OCD and autism makes some aspects of travel hard on me
and they’re not very accommodating- and every part of the trip I can think of as
“negative” is related to that. I just kept thinking to myself how much more
I would be enjoying myself if I were with my girlfriend instead and had more
agency over my schedule or how I could handle my OCD symptoms...
Not that I didn’t enjoy the trip at all- far from it, it was genuinely incredible
and I’d love to visit London again. My parents are just definitely in the “mandatory
fun” school of tourism in a way that I am growing more weary of, and
after spending several days basically tethered to them I really really need
some space lol... I definitely need to move out as soon as I can!

Overall the trip was quite nice, though.
London gets a thumbs up from me. I’ve uploaded a few pictures
on my Piclog account so feel free to scroll through those.

JUNE 2023
6/30/23 - THE CONCERT!!!

The Cure... THE CURE!!! What can I possibly say?
The concert was exactly as amazing as I’d hoped.
It was nice to go to a concert where I could actually sit down,
since the previous two i went to had a venue where you just had to
stand the whole time :P And everyone put on a great show.

I hadn’t heard of the opening act (The Twilight Sad)
before this tour so when I’m in situations like that I
usually try to wait to check them out so I get totally surprised
by their music when I go to see them. And their music was
just beautiful, especially the singer’s voice. I’m kind of pissed
my parents made me miss the start of it while they were getting
pizza -_- Still I definitely want to check them out more extensively.
Also, at the end of their set they pulled out a trans pride flag
which was such an awesome gesture, especially considering
the political climate of my state right now. I notice a lot
that seeing pride flags in windows, and other stuff like that,
always Hits Different for me IRL.

And The Cure themselves were AMAZING. I think having such
a versatile discography always makes for an amazing show
and they kept things pretty varied throughout. (they didn’t play
any songs from Pornography though...? Mysterious)
And many people have already said this but Smith’s voice is
incredibly well preserved, he sounded incredible.
SOOOOO yeah I don’t really have anything to add other than
mindless gushing about how cool everything was :P
I’m still in the throes of post-concert euphoria so forgive me for
not having very much super insightful commentary.

6/28/23 - Revisiting Warriors Untold Tales

Sooo, I recently downloaded Warrior Cats Untold Tales. A cute
little RPGmaker fan game that I have a lot of nostalgia for! And I decided to
play through it until I reached a logical "end of the story", while documenting
my exploits “in character”. Untold Tales was what got me to make my first OC, so I decided
to remake her for this playthrough (you might recall Moonspectrum from
an earlier blog entry...) Initially my idea was to just explore, have a mate
and a kit, and progress until said kit was fully grown. It got a little more
interesting though, so here's a somewhat narrativized version.

Day One:

Moonspectrum is a young warrior with a passion
for plants born into ThunderClan, with a silver tabby pelt. She starts
out collecting lots of herbs for the medicine cat Snowheart, garnering
her much reputation among her fellow ThunderClan peers. Around this
time she takes an apprentice, Bluepaw, who has a dark blue coat and
dark eyes; she also became mates with a dark blue tabby named Frogjaw,
who frequently gifted her squirrels. Due to her frequent herb collection
she is rewarded the position of Medicine Cat's assistant,
allowing her to heal herself with herbs.

She continues training with Bluepaw- she took
well to hunting but needed to train in combat as well, which requires
the risk of getting into battle. In one climactic final battle, Bluepaw
was finally fully trained, earning the name Bluelilly- this was also
the battle needed to qualify Moonspectrum for deputy's assistant
. The tabby is satisfied as she curls up in her bed beside her mate and
her former apprentice, as leaf-fall sets into the forest territories...

(As a side note, in my original file I also had a mate with
a blue pelt, though his name was Scarpelt. I thought it was cool since
Scarpelt was the name the generator on the official Warriors
website always gave me.)

Day Two:

A daughter is born to Moonspectrum and Frogjaw, named
Wolfkit. It's business as usual for Moonspectrum, collecting many objects and
toys for her new kit. And it stays like that for a little while until she
wanders close to the thunderpath looking for Shiny Things and encounters
a dog. It's a terrifying encounter, but the lingering scent of Twoleg really
sticks with her. But she is also fairly adventurous today, exploring the
other territories especially. She even encounters a Kittypet named
Ember. They chat for a short while, but Moonspectrum
initially does not head to twolegplace to become a Kittypet.

Leafbare arrives, and in the middle of the cold
winter months, a kit named Longkit goes missing. Moonspectrum
is able to find and heal the kit before something horrible happens, but
it worries her, especially with little Wolfkit born into such a world. And
once more, by the thunderpath, there is an encounter that causes a bit of a shift in
Moonspectrum: a real Twoleg, face to face. She had never seen
one before! And just a day later she came across the Twoleg camp
in RiverClan territory while sneaking around. This all makes her curiouser
and curiouser about what life is even like in Twolegplace.

She encounters Ember again just below the entrance
to ThunderClan camp, and impulsively decides to give up a chunk of her
reputation to see what it's like there, and Bluelily, who has become very
close friends with her former mentor, comes as well, easily lured to have
a paw in each world. She feels immense guilt at having left her kit behind
to be cared for by her mate, but the eases of kittypet life are comforting-
Bluelily seems to especially enjoy it.. She plays often with the kitten
Fuzzy, as if to assuage that guilt, and she eventually receives a collar
from Ember's housefolk. She remains there until mid-newleaf,
when she decided to return to ThunderClan, still wearing the collar
as a symbol of her shame at having wavered. She discovers that
she missed Wolfkit's first words, and that she was greatly
missed by the clan.

She goes to StarClan for guidance, or forgiveness
perhaps, at the Moonstone, and seemingly is gifted with
the reputation she had initally lost.

(We also purchase the "Challenge Mode" from the bonus
shop, as a sort of punishment for her kittypet life. I would continue
using this throughout the playthrough. Another fun note is that Wolfkit
was also the name of Moonspirit's kit in my first playthrough, though
she was a tom in that playthrough, and a she-cat
in this one. Trans cat moment?)

Day Three:

Not much of note happens on this day,
but Moonspectrum does successfully defeat a deputy and his patrol
while on challenge mode, so that's something! But it's the only note
I wrote, probably because I had work that day. Greenleaf
arrives once more.

Day Four:

Wolfkit becomes an apprentice. Moonspectrum suffers
her first near-death (aka losing all her health) on the way to commune with
the Moonstone, from a WindClan patrol- Bluelily nearly gets run over on the
thunderpath trying to chase them down. In a second excursion, Bluelily
is killed by a WindClan cat, and Moonspectrum's heart sinks (enough
for me to reload the save! We can't lose her now!). And then soon after,
a WindClan patrol complete with a deputy is spotted extremely close to
ThunderClan territory, and Moonspectrum fears she started a war with her
attempt to travel to Mothermouth. And the deputy of ThunderClan confirmed it,
that relations with WindClan had become strained. She meets with Ember
again, and the recent danger that was befalling the cats she cared
about tempted her to come back to her housefolk.
But she refused again- for now. She witnesses an entire patrol of ShadowClan
cats get run over by a monster and is again ambushed by WindClan while
foraging for herbs on the RiverClan border so that she could recover her
health. She narrowly escaped with just a sliver of health remaining. All this solidifies
her distrust in the safety and security of the Clans. It seems like
massive, hostile patrols are suddenly everywhere in the forest,
as though preparing for war.

But, there is a moment of joy. Wolfpaw is named
Wolffall, finally a warrior- an adult. And with Wolffall no longer needing her
to be around to care for her, Moonspectrum realizes she doesn't want to
be here anymore. As soon as Leaf-fall begins again, she resolves-
she will return to her life as a kittypet, no more shame in her
heart. For her, and for Bluelily.

She asks StarClan for guidance to solidify her decision,
and she is rewarded with a bonus coin, needed to summon Ember directly to her. And
coincidentally, the night before she planned to leave...

This was it. She said her farewells to her family, and then her
and Bluelily set off to Twolegplace once more, finally having found
peace outside of the Clans that raised them for violence.

(And yet, I’m tempted by the prospect of having her
form her own rogue clan... Maybe
a different playthrough sometime?)

All in all I had a lot of fun revisiting this bit of my childhood and I want
to take this as an opportunity to encourage you to check out
Falcon Develops (the dev)'s other projects. Cattails Wildwood Story is ramping up
for release (it's in beta now) and I am incredibly excited. He also has a lot
of interesting stuff on his youtube channel, including a short series on the development
of Untold Tales. He's very critical of the game design in retrospect but I think the
game has aged remarkably well for what it is. And I think it speaks a lot
to how it builds the environment from its source material and the
power of Seriousness of Play that I could spin an entire little narrative out of it.

I think I'm pretty lucky that the creators of two of my
childhood favorite games, Untold Tales and WolfQuest, are still involved in
game development. The first Cattails game was absolutely everything I loved in Untold
Tales executed with so much more polish... And WolfQuest is still actively
receiving updates and got quite a significant one very recently. I very much like
this little subgenre of PC games that are like, a simulated day to day life.
I don’t know, it’s nice.

And in other Gaming News I finally got around to downloading Fin Fin
, and I am very much enjoying interacting with Fin Fin
so far! I wasn’t sure what level of immersion to expect but there’s
a lot of subtle things that make him feel almost like a living creature.
Would encourage you to check it out!

Also whoa the Cure concert is tomorrow... Definitely expect
a blog entry about that.

6/20/23 - Noa Reviews: Dracula's Daughter and La Morte Vivante

I watched two lesbian vampire movies on Monday, one I had
been meaning to watch for a little while and one that I found on a site reviewing various
lesbian vampire films (linked on my Cool Links page, btw!!! It's amazing!!!) and
thought looked intriguing. Here are my thoughts:

Dracula's Daughter (1936) is one of a few different Universal
Dracula movies, of which I had only seen the first one (I really do need to watch
more Universal tbh. I'm more of a Hammer gal overall but they have some hits). It follows the
story of Countess Marya Zaleska, the daughter of Dracula, as the title implies. She
wants to release herself from vampirism, and tries everything from burning and
exorcising his corpse (Dracula's only appearance in this movie, btw, and he
doesn't even show up onscreen- this movie is all about Marya, which I appreciated),
to going to therapy (yes really). However, after she finds she can't resist
her urge to homoerotically suck some blood, she resigns herself to her evil nature
and begs the psychiatrist to become a vampire and live forever
with her. ...And then she gets shot in the
back with an arrow and dies. The end.

The ending was so underwhelming for a movie with such a
fascinating setup, and I think the psychiatrist's relationship to Marya should have
been set up way more to be believable, but there are some genuinely great
scenes and cinematography in this film. The scene of Marya burning Dracula's
corpse, praying for them both to be released from undeath and brandishing
a cross she can't even look at, feels way ahead of its time in the way it's shot
and presented. It's genuinely gorgeous. Also, every scene with Marya in
the pitch black cloak kind of slayed. All in all it's not bad, and an interesting
precursor to later sapphic vampire movies (I was surprised at how blatantly
she expressed this considering this was in the Hays Code era, asking girls to get undressed
before killing them and everything lol), but left me wanting more.

However, La Morte Vivante/The Living Dead Girl (1982) is definitely
one of the best of this little subgenre, and deserves to be discussed more.
Basically, after her crypt is raided, the dead woman Catherine Valmont is
awoken from death, and is afflicted with a need to kill and drain blood,
and left mute and amnesiac. She begins to recover her memories as
she finds her way back to her old house, and is eventually found by her childhood
friend/lover Helene- who's all too willing to kill innocent people to keep
Catherine fed. And it is amaaaazing. As Catherine grows aware of how
horrifying her existence is, as she tries to resist it, Helene indulges more
and more in the killing. The monster becomes human; the human becomes
a monster, and it all ends with them eating each other alive
both literally and metaphorically. This movie has everything. It has
sapphic blood pacts, homoerotic vampire cannibalism, a spooky castle,
a melancholic tone, Cool Dove Imagery, bright red blood, and did I
mention LESBIANS??? I especially like the scenes of Catherine
wandering through her childhood bedroom, the scene where Helene tries
to offer the dead dove to her (a vampire movie where animal blood isn't
just an easy copout? Unheard of!), as well as the scene where Helene
is killing the woman she lured into the crypt while Catherine begged
her not to. It's all so good???

In a lot of lesbian vampire horror there's this focus on one girl
being a pursuer and one girl being a victim- the vampire's sapphic desires being
imposed on the victim being "part of the horror". La Morte Vivante isn't like
this; neither girl is a victim, and they loved each other long before Catherine
died and reanimated. There's so much passion and tenderness to it, too- Helen
e is determined to nurture and care for her in her amnesiac state, and Catherine,
even at her most monstrous, never ever wants to attack or hurt Helene.
They really do care for each other, which makes the mutual destruction of the
ending even more heartwrenching. It feels like a horror movie that just
happens to focus on lesbian characters, and I really
liked it!!! Watch it now!!!!


Well, the social media side of it, anyway.

Reddit mods are on strike, Tumblr continues its quest to monetize
every single thing on their website while Tumblr Live looms
ominously over the dashboard, Discord forced its recent username change
(which is silly, I think part of the appeal was not having to come up with
a username that hadn’t been taken lol), Twitter is a burning wreckage,
Facebook is Facebook (ew), YouTube is ad/censorship hell (they all are tbh),
etc etc etc. I’ve seen a lot of doomposting about it on Tumblr so I think
now’s as good a time as ever to promote the personal/small/indie/whatever web

Every so often when there’s some kind of scare like this
I see people promoting whatever social media replacement
is hot off the presses (Mastodon, Cohost, Pillowfort, etc etc)
but I am personally of the opinion that trying to replace social media with
more social media is a bit useless... I think we might be witnessing
the downfall of social media as we know it in real time
(or at least I hope so). I hope people realize they’re tired of visiting the
same 5-7 websites and pacing around like a sad zoo animal.
(also I can’t help but lol at everyone calling tumblr the last bastion of
the old web. I mean, come on). I absolutely love this side of the web.
Browsing other people’s personal sites on this side of the ‘net
makes me feel as happy and curious as I did when
I was a kid sneaking onto the computer at midnight because the
internet was so captivating to me. I think we really have
something special here.

I don’t know. Whenever the concept of enshittification/the
trust thermocline comes up I can’t help but briefly hyperfixate on it.
How long until the straw really does break the camel’s back?
But I really do get the sense that the internet is currently
in flux. I think things are going to shift over the next few years.

That's just my take on it, anyway.

6/11/23 - Two games about the internet

So! I played two games recently, after seeing them linked on a blog due to their use of
Geocities-esque aesthetics. So I thought I might as well review them, and link them as well since
I found them really intriguing works of art.

The first is "Black Room", by Cassie McQuater- a "feminist dungeon crawler" about a person with insomnia
falling asleep at their computer. It's a bit of a weird, layered thing, repurposing endless
spritesheets of video game characters, fantastical gifs, dreamlike backgrounds, and so on, while
using the browser itself as the interface to interact with it. Playing it without any context as to the
authorial intention was a very surreal experience. It was strange, and extremely captivating. I
already have it linked on my Cool Links page, but I'll link it here as well. I'd strongly recommend
playing it before reading further- my main regret is not playing it at night
when I was half asleep.

Something I quite liked about it is how the surreal imagery of the way you interact with it
builds up, layer by layer. The first section of the game involves controlling the protagonist with
arrow keys, a familiar setup for a game; the next section chronicles a game the narrator's
mother taught them to aid in falling asleep- the titular black room, in which the browser
mechanics are introduced- each "level" passed by finding the hidden objects in the room reveals
another fragment of the story. After this, the player finds themself in a series of colorful "black
rooms" populated by female demons and monsters, clicking on each reveals another
fragment of a fragment of a memory.

Each page itself is a twisted collection of graphics and links, leading you to "strange visions"
and mazes and other mysterious rooms. I quite liked the "Jennifer's Quest" rooms, and I was
really intrigued by the "end goal" being to crawl into a box (rewarding you with a page of peaceful
imagery). The strange visions I think are pretty fascinating too, especially knowing the intent
behind them, with female video game characters that have been subject to misogyny or
sexualization in their source material being allowed to exist in their own eerie, beautiful worlds,
on their own terms, effectively "reclaimed". And I was kind of fascinated by "Sonia's Room" and
the refrain of "You'll be a woman soon"... The title in the page browser being "Hostage" just gave
me chills, I don't know! But it only gave more power to the fact that this character always frees
herself without player input- the player must follow her to the exit. It's something I kind of relate
to, it's kind of a bittersweet feeling caring so much for characters who were
envisioned mostly as props for the assumed-male audience. This hits especially hard for me in
combination with how much Black Room loves using Castlevania sprites, since it's a series I
absolutely love even as I'm aware that like 90% of the women in it are "dead wives" or not
allowed to have their own story. They're characters I've "reclaimed" for myself as well...
I don't know, it just feels like A Lot.

I said before that each page is a collection of graphics and links... That leads to another thing
I liked about it... This is websurfing! It's the opposite of what’s considerd standard web design-
pushed as far as it can go into the realm of the fantastical. The browser is the interface, and still
more aspects of the game use the web as a medium as a message. Even the key smashy
URL lends itself to being shared, as the creator has pointed out- as a strange, secret
of the web.

It culminates with the narrator transforming into a demoness themself, flying away to join
with their lost sisters. I interpreted this a few different ways- finally falling asleep (a
"demon of the night", finally completing the transition into sleep- this game is about insomnia,
after all); that concept of feminist reclamation, finding joy in the monstrous, making yourself untouchable;
of finally embracing the memories of the past. It could even be a passage into adulthood... It's everything.
The final vision, countless demons and succubi alighting into a starry sky,
is hauntingly beautiful.

Black Room gets 5 stars from me. It just hits right.

"Wrong Box" is a bit more of a nostalgic work than Black Room is, and much shorter. When
I opened it up I was kind of expecting it to be a LSD Dream Emulator-like where you surf through an endless loop of 3D
levels based on various websites, but it actually does have a linear narrative. The protagonist
finds their old computer and browses through old sites they used to visit, formatted as strange 3D levels, messaging old friends
who forgot to uninstall their old chat client, visiting MySpace pages, being flooded
with weird popup ads, and did I mention the GIFS!!!!!!! SO MANY GIFS!!!!!

Eventually you find yourself talking to a cute monster, which very much seemed to me like it
may have been a drawing by the protagonist from back in those days, as it does kind of
remind me of the art I made as a teenager. You’re then tasked with finding three mixtapes
in three different levels (MySpace, a forum full of people who believe in
fairies, and a quiz site). I didn’t quite understand what I was supposed to do
in the MySpace section at first, seeing as it tells me to “copy-paste code” into a page
editor- I immediately thought, oh, I need to code all this myself!!! rofl, then I
got frustrated when I couldn’t. But you actually find the code necessary
to help the Dollz character change her page background on another person’s page,
which is kind of fun but I think it would have been really interesting mechanically (and a
statement about the freedom of the personal web) to just let everyone write whatever in the
code... but also definitely near-impossible to pull off. IDK, I was never a MySpace kid, so this was
probably the part that hit with me the least, but it was still fun.

The quiz level was pretty short and I don’t have much to say about it, but
“How Random Are You” being the quiz name is really funny to me. I remember those lol...

I think the fairy forum was my favorite of the three levels. There’s something kind
of beautiful about reading all these scattered posts, all full of hope and belief, while the
things they believed in all flit and flutter around you. And you must read every post,
take in everything they have faith in, to reach the level’s mixtape. I also
like the detail of the fairies disappearing after you look at them directly, a fleeting
joy. I don’t know, I liked it. I used to read those kinds of websites and try to convince
myself I could turn myself into a werewolf as long as I had the right spell...

After collecting all three Mix CD’s, you’ve beaten the game, and hmm... I find myself
wishing this game was longer! And surely you’re doing something right if I want more
of what you’re giving me, lol. But I think that length is kind of an important factor to
truly adapt that feeling of surfing through endless, endless links... I had the urge throughout
the game to click on various links that just weren’t part of the game and were instead
decorative or meant to just simulate the layout of the site, and I wasn’t allowed to
click them. I’m not saying that this game should have built an ENTIRE INTERNET, but
I do feel like some more could have been put in to make it truly feel like websurfing (this is something
I think Black Room excels at).

I do quite like the detail that when the game “loops” and you find yourself back
at the desk with the computer, there’s a phone laying there, scrolling through a feed forever-
reality and the present catching up to you after having witnessed all the
untamed magic of this world. Which will you choose?

My thoughts on Wrong Box overall are that it’s a pretty fun 15 minute game but I
just want MORE omg. I want to explore more memories, more websites, more. And
it must say something that I liked it so much it made me for hunger for more of it... lol. I think
the shadow of the passage of time throughout the game is its most compelling element:
countless friends lists filled with people who haven’t been online in a decade; worlds
that have been forgotten, pages long abandoned. It is an invitation to come back,
even the game itself encourages you to share it and pass
it on. I guess I’m doing my part now!

Also, I should really finally get around to playing Hypnospace
Outlaw at some point, huh?

6/5/23 - New homes of an old beast

Alright, first blog post of the month... I've decided that it's going to focus on
something I've had in mind for a little while, and that's settings
of horror stories involving vampires. I feel like setting is one of those often overlooked
things that can totally shift the tone or all-encompassing Vibe of a work...
Here are some places I've
visited that I think have a whole lot of potential for vampire stories.
Because of course this is the kind of thing I think about on vacations :P

First, probably the most unique one on this list, is Helen,
. What's so unique about this northern Georgia mountain town?
Well, it's built to resemble a Bavarian mountain town instead! As a
result the whole place feels very tourist-trappy and kitschy (in a good way), like if
a theme park was a real town. I've visited a few different times with my family throughout
my life but only recently have I been thinking about what it would be like as a horror
setting. Several aspects of the location lend well to the plot beats of a vampire story.
For one thing, there's a river bisecting the town. Maybe the characters find
out in a pivotal moment that bodies have been turning up on only one side
of the town- vampires can't cross running water, after all. Additionally, the European
village aesthetic can be used to play off of archetypical vampire story tropes.
Maybe in a fictionalized version of the town, everyone living there keeps
garlic in their windows because vampire tourism is part of fictional!Helen's draw.
The surrounding wilderness of the mountains itself can also be a fascinating action set piece. And, of
course, the narrative potential of a vampire creating a whole town that
is a recreation of an idealized setting in time and place that just FEELS fake
has a lot of potential for thematic cohesion. The vampire, just as the town is,
is a temporal fish out of water. I've always enjoyed my time in Helen,
so I'd kill to see a story that turns it on its head- from Helen, to Hell.

Second is St. Augustine, FL, a historic
city I've only visited twice. Both times as school field trips, oddly, filled with
rainy weather and good memories. It's one of the oldest towns in America
and has a lot of dramatic setpieces like the massive fort, the allegedly-haunted lighthouse,
as well as a famed "fountain of youth" that conquistadors sought after... There's a lot to work
with here, the shadow of violence that "discovery of a new continent" implies, the
hauntings (I haven't been on a ghost tour yet but come on), the preservation of something old
into the current era- and of course, the desperate seeking of immortality. It's all just a
little too vampiric... I'd be surprised if it hasn't been used before as a setting. I don’t have a
lot to add tbh!

Next, Wakulla Springs (also in Florida), a place I’ve stayed a
few times... It has a bit of a horror legacy of its own, being the location where they shot
Creature from the Black Lagoon. The formerly crystal-clear spring itself is icy cold,
especially in the summer, and the hotel where I stayed is kind of delightfully retro,
complete with a vintage candy shop and a soda jerk. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse every
time I mention the juxtaposition of a preserved past with the current day, but the truth
of the matter is that it’s one of the key ingredients for this kind of thing. Anyway, just
imagine a tourist having a relaxing day in the spring, having drunken a nice Phosphorus, and
then spotting something across the surrounding trees... Somehow, the water
feels colder...

Tampa, FL itself is pretty close to home for
me and I actually included it because: 1) I’ve visited a lot, so I’m biased, 2) how cool
locations like historic Ybor or the Tampa Theatre are (which is a huge movie palace from the
20s, it’s amazing), 3) we have a surprisingly substantial goth scene there, and 4) my
parents said they set a Vampire the Masquerade game in Tampa once, and I’ve been
fascinated by the concept of that ever since. You know? I think it’d be more fitting for a story
with a vampire protagonist than one with a vampire antagonist. It’s... very easy to imagine a
creature of the night angsting while sitting in the corner of the Columbia. Some kind of
offhand comment about sangria and blood. I don’t know. There’s a very particular Vibe to it.

The final location is one that is not a specific place- no, it stretches across miles and miles
of America. It’s where soul goes to die... It’s suburban sprawl. It’s not a secret that I’m
not a huge fan of the suburbs, or car-dependent infrastructure... I feel like a lot of suburban
horror is centered on the idea of the horror intruding on the sanctity of the suburban
neighborhood, rather than the much more intriguing concept: what if the suburb itself is the
vampire? Bleeding life from the area, turning it into “dead space”. Further isolating its
victims to suck them dry. The irony of the darkness behind the sunny reputation- a safe
place. A safe neighborhood, to raise your kids, they say. But it’s a parasite. #metaphor
Or alternatively, let’s have a campy story with a vampire as the head of an HOA, or something. I
dunno, suburbs make me feel like an animal pacing around a small enclosure. I remember
that there was this one ditch in my neighborhood and I could see these tall trees across it,
and my parents always told me not to go playing around it, as a kid. So I always imagined
what was across the huge ditch, right? Surely something interesting. Anyway, years later I
finally went to go look at the ditch and it was just more and more suburban sprawl. It was
kind of fascinating how endless it all looked. That’s not super relevant to anything but I do
think it’s one of those memories that really shaped me.

Well! That got weird and introspective. Hopefully this inspires some cool new vampire fiction
someday :P Also today I’m going to be spending the day with my girlfriend in the area I
intend to move to soon-ish (hopefully by the end of the year?) so that’s going to be quite
nice. Work still kind of sucks a little (I’m so exhausted all the time) but it also isn’t too bad.

MAY 2023
5/28/23 - Blehhhh

I’ve been in kind of a weird place regarding blogging
lately- or any productive creative output. Which kind
of sucks!!! I like making little updates about my life but
everything feels very rote and mundane lately.
I like making money but damn I miss
being unemployed...

So I’m kind of thinking about shifting
the focus of the blog away from IRL stuff unless something
super interesting happens, I guess? Maybe I’ll post about movies or
games more often. (Still loving Tears of the Kingdom, btw! I
did fully upgrade my horse, and now my main focus is on
building a house... I just need 2 more rooms to complete my layout :D)

I also wish I had more cool ideas for
pages on my site. It feels like it’s been a while since I made
a huger substantial update (and the total loss of my music page
makes me really sad. SCMPlayer, RIP...)
but at the same time I kind of like the state it’s
in currently. I won’t try to force it, but it’s just part
of how I feel so restless and shitty when I’m not
making some kind of art project. Oh well.

My main hope is that once I get used to
the work schedule I’ll get back into the swing
of things. I don’t know how younger me even managed to
squeeze in art in the middle of a school week lol.

5/17/23 - First Day of Work

Honestly? Wasn’t that bad. Making subs
is actually kind of fun. I do well at tasks that involve clear
instructions and completing tasks.
So, I have made quite a few subs and got
hands on experience; I feel comfortable driving in my car
and just generally feel hopeful about my future.

Oh yeah AND... I got Tears of the Kingdom.
Fun game! I love BOTW and I was so happy that
my trusted horse Dandelion could come along
in the sequel. I am a bit of a horse girl at heart
so my main priorities with this game are finding all the
stables, getting every pony point reward, getting
Malanya to upgrade all of Dandelion’s stats, etc...
Plot stuff can wait! This is more important!

5/12/23 - An Eventful Week

It’s been a while, huh! I told myself I would hold off
on writing another post until the week was over
since basically everything was happening.
First: Sunday. I test-drove the car, was pretty satisfied with it.

Monday: I watched movies with my girlfriend.

Tuesday: I went to go do paperwork for my job, had lunch
with my girlfriend afterward at the park. Then in the
evening I went to an 100 Gecs concert,
which I totally thought was later in the month lol.
It was a ton of fun. It was in the same place I saw Molchat
Doma, and someone gave me a cute beaded bracelet.
I have strangely little to say about it, but trust me it was awesome.

Wednesday: Taking the car home! And paperwork at the
DMV. That went pretty smoothly.

Thursday: My first real drive in my new car.
I went to my volunteer work at the stables in it
and got boba on the way home. I haven’t
practiced driving alone in a while but I
think I did pretty well.

And finally... Friday. I had my online orientation for
my job. Which was pretty laid back and simple,
plus I’m getting paid to attend it.
But the bad news is that my car somehow
got stuck on anti-theft immobility
when I tried to take it for a drive today.
There are ways to fix it of course and I suspect
that it’s a result of how old it is, some parts
could be worn out, if the answers I found online are to be
believed. I also have to redo my drug test- not because
of any drugs or anything, something just went wrong with
it, apparently. So, that’s tomorrow.
At least all my problems right now are pretty
fixable (I hope! I really hope the car problem isn’t too major.)
And for the most part everything is looking up.

Edit 5/15/23- the car problem has been fixed pretty easily
and I did retake the drug test. Wish me luck
on my first day on wednesday :)


WELL! I did a second job interview at another location of the same
grocery store. And they gave me a job offer right away. What
luck! I’m going to be a deli worker, with a nice $17 per hour to start with...
I’m a little nervous since I haven’t seriously worked
before but I’m optimistic. My tarot reading this month told me
to trust in fate and that I’ll need to adjust to a new normal-
and opportunity and success may be in my future.
So! That seems promising.

I’m also finally test driving a car later today :)
The previous car owner who was offering one to me
kind of flaked out in the end likely due to the condition
of the car (Not Very Good). But with any luck
the one I’m trying out today will be mine shortly.

Lots of good news today! I’ll keep you posted.


Just in case anyone hasn’t heard, Dracula Daily has begun!
Basically, this is a way to follow the various journal entries and letters
sent in the book in real time, as it’s an epistolary novel. I greatly enjoy following
the story this way last year and definitely intend to do it again.

This year, though, I’m following the new audio adaptation Re:Dracula.
I’ve always been a fan of audio books and audio plays and it will
be a fun way to re-experience everything in a new way.
Definitely subscribe if you haven’t yet... I’ve added links to
Dracula Daily and Re:Dracula to the Cool Links page.

APRIL 2023
4/28/23 - 500 Visitors

Not a huge update, but I am quite pleased to notice
that I now have more than 500 individual visitors to my website!
I’ve only had this place for a little over two months, but
it’s already come so far :)

Thanks everyone!

Also, I got a piclog account.
I currently have it displayed in my Treasure Chest, but
I’m wondering if there’s a better place for it.
I’ll figure something out eventually lol.


I'm a bit late to the party since the movie came out a while ago,
but I greatly enjoyed Renfield. It's a goofy romp with fun lighting, lots
of references to Dracula media, and most importantly
it is a camp masterpiece.

The horror elements are fun, and the gore is video game
levels of absurd. Heads exploding, arms ripped or sliced off,
all sorts of things. Nic Cage as Dracula is surprisingly great (nothing dethrones
Christopher Lee in my heart though). I'm not a huge comedy fan but
the jokes were also good! It surprised me (“Thank you Wiccan Tumblr!”
killed me). Renfield himself is an endearing character. By the time
he was finally standing up to Dracula, I was really cheering for him.
I think it was interesting how since the setting is very modernized, instead
of in a mental asylum he goes to a therapy group instead, an interesting reflection of
how much psychiatry and representation of mentally ill characters has changed (don't love how
narcissist is used as a synonym for abuser but that's its own
conversation- not all progress is linear). I was much less keen on the vampire
hunting cop Rebecca Quincey but the crime and drama aspects of the movie were entertaining
enough and the fight scenes, again, had very fun gore and action. It's definitely
a movie you should see with a friend or companion though, it elevates the
experience. (I got the treat of getting a whole empty theatre to watch it in
with my girlfriend! It’s a movie perfect for riffing on)
I think generally there’s a niche for fun mid-budget films that hasn’t been filled,
and Renfield could have fit into that niche- a shame it seems to have bombed :(

So like... 4 out of 5 stars, I think.

Super excited to see The Last Voyage of the Demeter in August as
well. 2023, like every year, is the year of DRACULA!!!! But especially so
since we have two movies this year focusing on the story from mostly unexplored
perspectives. I'm eager to see how it goes. Also, I have a job interview
today... Let’s see how that goes, too.

Also, I'm considering phasing out the "Essays" page and
just posting everything on here instead...?
IDK, I feel more inclined to post on one large BLOG PAGE!!!
than make individual pages for everything that's slightly longish.

EDIT: I have done this. Also finished my interview. Fingers crossed!

4/23/23 - Lots of good news :)

Wow, it’s been a whole week since I posted something.
Is it just me or did my luck turn around quite suddenly?
First I finally get selected for a job interview (wish me luck, it’s on thursday!)
Then a family friend offers to inexpensively sell me a car.
I had been wanting a car for a while so this is super exciting.
Then my uncle offered to gift me a laptop, which I had also been needing.
Especially since my current computer is a shared desktop. All of this is
hugely beneficial in working towards my goal to move out at some point
in the near future.

I also finally went to the goth club again. It was even more fun
the second time. While we were in line someone from security pulled me
and my girlfriend aside and let us in early through another entrance
because we were a party of two, which was cool. And she complimented
my outfit! So that definitely put a smile on my face last night...
People were also small-talking to us more than they did last time.
I feel like that’s how you eventually make friends, right? lol

AND, one last thing: after seeing Nuovo Testamento
open for Molchat Doma, I then found out they’re coming back to my area
in several months- for a whole goth/darkwave music festival!!!!
Isn’t that amazing? I already have my tickets for all
three days. So I definitely have a lot to
look forward to.

4/16/23 - Experiencing Post-Concert Euphoria

If you recall back in February I mentioned getting tickets
to see Molchat Doma in concert- that was last night! And it
was awesome. I’m not a huge concert-goer but I had a great time
and danced a lot, and regret wearing heels (yes, again ;^_^)

The opener was very good- I hadn’t heard of them
before, they’re a band called Nuovo Testamento. Would recommend
looking into them, because oh my god they were amazing.
The venue was outdoors which was kind of cool because
it almost felt like a secret party tucked away in an alleyway,
or something. I don’t know, there was just kind of an
atmosphere going on.

Anyway, does anyone else think the people who do lighting
for live events deserve more recognition? I certainly think
so. It really elevated the experience.

4/11/23 - Yesterday was nice

I'm in a great mood because I had such a good
day yesterday! I went to get lunch at a ramen place with my girlfriend
and even though we shared one bowl we had enough to each take
home leftovers, so that's lunch for today, haha. The spicy broth is
so tasty. I also tried takoyaki for the first time, and we got
Thai tea and boba.

After lunch we went to a local park, and got to see
their rehabilitated birds of prey and we also fed the turtles in their
pond :) It's a place I always used to visit when I was younger but
I hadn't been in a while, so it was nice to just go walking
together and see everything.

I'm still not having any luck with finding jobs I can
apply for offline, but I guess I'll have to suck it up eventually.
I just don't like how I only get radio silence.<.p>

In better news I finished up the birthday present
for my girlfriend. It's a secret though!

4/6/23 – Job Venting

Bleh. I kind of hate how every job expects you to apply online
and wade through a bunch of broken links on their websites. I’d prefer
just to fill out a paper form if anything. Every online application I
send gets ghosted and it’s really demoralizing that I don’t even get a response.

It feels so intimidating to actually try to get in anywhere, meanwhile
the employers are probably the same people who complain about how no
one wants to work these days. (in one particular example there was literally
nowhere TO apply on the website they directed me towards…)

I mean, at least respond to my e-mails. It just feels like there’s nothing
to be done and I don’t like it at all. And then people get on your case
about being unemployed (I literally do volunteer work and I do TRY so
it’s not like I’m just lazy…)

I guess I’ll figure something out eventually but
it really did dampen a lot of my optimism.

4/1/23 – Thoughts on fate

Happy April! Can guarantee there will be no April Fools
jokes on my website, because I simply don’t have any ideas :P

For today’s blog post I decided I should probably discuss my thoughts
on the concepts of fate and destiny, since I finally made an About Me page recently
and listed tarot as one of my “likes”. I’m generally a skeptic when it comes to paranormal
things (for example, I don’t believe in ghosts, or most things like that) so
my recent interest in tarot/divination can seem incongruous with that.
My interest began in part because I got a deck and a guide book as gifts,
but also because I find it helpful for making decisions.
(plus, let’s be realistic: everyone thinks that doing magic is kind of cool.)

I don’t think tarot cards literally can tell the future. However, I do
think that they can get me in the right mindset to face it, and “equip” me
for what’s to come. When I do readings (which I try to remember to do before
every new month begins) I usually find whatever’s on my mind or has me
feeling conflicted reflected back at me. For example, if I feel hesitant
to do something I know I might enjoy, I usually end up pulling a card
that is telling me not to hesitate, and to move forward (this is actually
what convinced me to stop putting off going to a club for the first time lol…
but it sounds so silly when I write it here!). It’s fairly consistent, and I think in
part that’s because the meanings are just vague-specific enough to apply to whatever
I’m dealing with. So, it’s sort of like a “focus” to me. I’m not literally telling
the future, but rather by pondering it, it helps me to choose the most
beneficial path. Like, say, I’m not sure if I should apply to a specific job, and
then I get a reading that tells me I’m at a crossroads but there
could be prosperity in my future… It’s easy to glean a meaning from
that and make a choice based on the information provided.

So, yeah. I guess I just find it helpful? Almost as a psychological tool.

Also, some more general life updates:
I deleted the Tumblr app from my phone. I explained this on Tumblr itself:
this was merely a way to break the
infinite-scrolling hypnosis of the app, lol.
I’ll still be using the website, of course.
I also started reading The Vampire Lestat since I finished Interview
With The Vampire
some weeks ago.

MARCH 2023
3/25/23 – First time at a goth club!

I’ve finally visited my local goth club and I had a great time :D I had been wanting to for a while
but I think it’s easy to get in your own head about things. I was worried about dancing with a
bunch of other people, worried about the long drive over, worried about if I’d enjoy myself…
But once I got on the dancefloor everything just slipped away and I had a great time dancing with my girlfriend.

We did hit the unfortunate snag of arriving in the area about an hour before opening time lol.
I won’t doxx myself or anything but the club is in a city with some interesting historic displays
and stuff, so we looked around for a bit before lining up. Like I said, I was nervous as I went in…
Just soaking up the ambiance helped alleviate that a lot, not to mention a lot of danceable music. It was
mostly on the darkwave and industial side of things which is about what I expected. (Also love the high amount of
comfy chairs they had in the corner lol). It was just really nice being “in the moment” and
not really thinking about anything other than what I was experiencing.

TL;DR I had a great time and would go again.

Also, my OOE shrine page is nearly done, I just need to get the dialogue page all up and running
which is going to take forever, so I'm holding off until I have a whole day to myself to work on that.

3/20/23 - Back from spring break.

Alright, so the most exciting thing that happened to me on spring break was actually shortly before I left-
managed to secure tickets to see The Cure on their new US tour- and it seems like I was just about the only
person who had any luck dealing with the arcane mystery that is Ticketmaster's website, lol. If you haven't been following the
whole Robert Smith vs. Ticketmaster debacle, I will just say it is quite something. I spent some time with my grandmother
like I usually do this time of year, and it was nice (and I saw some manatees!), but other than that there's not much
to write about. I've been itching to get back to posting things on my site,
as well as get working on an Order of Ecclesia shrine page that I've been dreaming up for the past week or so. No promises on when
that will be finished, but I am working on making all the text content I want
to put on there before I start actually coding the pages ;)

3/12/23 - 100 Visitors!

100 visitors to my humble homepage! I’m so happy.
Though I probably won’t ever know the true number of visitors to my
page, seeing as my site was already in full swing before I added FC2
counter to my page, the fact that 100 different people have already visited my
little personal site is really lovely. I hope everyone enjoyed their
visit and will continue to check back.

Thank you :D

3/8/23- Scratch: Revisiting My First Social Media
(Moved from now-defunt essays section, so it's kind of long sorry)

So, I got thinking about Scratch again.

I guess in the last couple of months something I’ve been thinking about is how there are
less kid-oriented spaces online. The best example I’ve seen passed around is how the Barbie website
used to have games and activities for their target demographic
and now redirects to a product page. “Kids’ spaces online” is a concept
very near and dear to my heart, since I was someone who played those MMOs like Animal Jam and Pixie Hollow and so on.

But there was another place targeted at kids, one I spent most of my afternoons browsing and one that a lot
of people don't remember. That was Scratch, a simple programming platform created by MIT.
I have so many memories on there. I wasn’t allowed to have headphones so I
remember staying up till my parents fell asleep so I could sneak on the computer and watch
all those Warrior Cats AMVs and games- with sound!! It felt so impressive
at the time, with my cheap speakers at about 1% volume just in case my parents were woken up by a
super-compressed version of Numb by Linkin Park (if you know that Scourge AMV, you know). I spent years as an active user
on there when I was very young, and I remember creating my own ambitious
games back in the day. I shared lots of art on there, too, since I was scared off by
deviantArt’s age restrictions.

I haven’t set foot there in years.

I guess I just kind of outgrew it, it is a website for kids after all, and also just...
Still being active on an account where things you made when you were 9 or so feels kind of weird just in general, lol. But nostalgia
is a funny thing. I wanted to go back, just one more time. Maybe it’s because I’m now
active on a different programming platform with an orange cat as a mascot lmao, but something got me thinking
about those days on Scratch, when there was truly nothing holding back my creativity. I didn’t know what cringe meant.
I could just be myself. Make my silly OCs and animations and attempts at “multiplayer wolf games” that never really ended
up working, but were fun just the same. It was my first exposure to real online friends, or anything like social media.

Truly, when I got into middle school and someone told me what a “Mary Sue” was, it kind of killed all that.
Making OCs and not really knowing what being “cringe” meant, I mean. I remember putting my main Warriors OC into that one
Springhole Mary Sue quiz and I was never that unrestrained again. Even now, I feel hounded by my own shame when I create some particularly indulgent things.
I’m not blaming the IRL friend who told me, because even if we knew each other for a year they were a
very important friend in my life, and I would have found out about Mary Sues eventually- I’m blaming the concept.

I guess what I’m saying is I’m nostalgic for before I felt any shame for harmless bad art. I miss that bygone era.

But Scratch still exists. Why not revisit it?

So my goals for this little nostalgia project are this:

1. Revisit my old self.
2. Revisit the projects by others of my era that I remember finding so impressive.
3. Find out what the Scratch users of today are creating.
4. Create something new on the site, even if it's simple.


So, the first thing I did was search up my old username. Every project I ever made was preserved as though
in amber. Though the UI of the website’s homepage is different, I was extremely pleased to see that the top
bar is mostly the same.

One of my first projects I revisited was a “fake multiplayer” game about wolves who put out fires.
Rather than doing evil black magic to get past Scratch’s limitations, I created NPC
wolves who would move around the game world at random and use
the fake “chat” function.

This is kind of impressive, actually? Like, don’t get me wrong, the gameplay is kind
of nothing- you just touch water to collect it, and if a
fire shows up and you have water, touching it will put the water out. There’s a death system
that temporarily turns you into a ghost if you lose your health.
Half the time the “other players” get to the fire before you do, though. Still, I remember being really proud
of it at the time and spent some time playing my own game just for fun.

A lot of the most memorable things I remember creating are wolf adventuring games, though I also created similar
games about lions, cats, and so on. Often there was an emphasis on sating your character’s hunger
and thirst, and interacting with other NPCs.

I also had a lot of OCs. Like, a looooot of them.

I guess I kind of expected when I looked at my old stuff, to find some sort of revelation. But a lot of the games
and art I created were just... okay. I mean, obviously, I was like 9 years old. But for a 9 year old it wasn’t too bad, and I kind of miss
being able to create art like that without really thinking about it. I don’t make OCs anymore, really.
I have only one of them, and I’m already sort of done with her story.

Still, the warm memories were there, of having the Scratch website open on
Firefox and having my schoolwork open on Internet Explorer during class so i could easily switch and
not get caught, of whispering over that cool Warriors AMV my friend and I had watched
the previous afternoon at home, of posting obsessively on the Scratch forums. Of finding out about games like WolfQuest
and Warriors Untold Tales via other Scratch users and deeply craving to play them
but being too much of a weenie to try and download something without my parents’ permission.
(I still play WolfQuest, and am eagerly awaiting Falconstar's next game...)
Of roleplaying in the comments of “Studios”. Of making janky animations set to iNSaNiTY by Circus-P.

Something that does kind of sadden me, though, is I stopped making games around the same time that I
first internalized the idea of cringe. Gradually my Scratch account became mostly a vehicle for posting art, before I abandoned it entirely.
I mean, that’s kind of sad, right? It’s a programming website. If I had stuck with it,
maybe I would have gotten into HTML and other programming skills a lot earlier than I had. I mean, not that Scratch’s building
blocks are necessarily effective at teaching you other programming languages, they’re pretty basic... But I still wonder.

And like... Looking at my old projects, I found a bunch of comments from my own account on some of my old games,
saying “wow, I was so cringe when I made this” or “This is edgy” and stuff like that. It’s kind of weird to think about but I absolutely hated
myself as a preteen and would deface my old artwork in my notebooks and stuff. It wasn’t really
healthy. A lot of this behavior also started when I got diagnosed with autism... I don’t think I
ever consciously thought that I had to “stop being cringe” to compensate for my neurodivergence, but it sure feels
like that’s what it was. Around that time I had started wading into other corners of the internet, and
this was an era where “lol autism lol autistic screeching” was considered to be comedic genius.

I don’t know. It’s just sad. And what broke my heart the most was coming back and seeing people in the comments
of my original page wondering what happened to me, where I had gone. I had left part of myself behind.


Once I had been finished with that little trip down memory lane, though, it was
time to look up other people’s projects, and that’s where I hit my first obstacle.

There’s no way to search based on date. Additionally, the search function is infinite scroll. *Brilliant.* Ideally
I would’ve liked to have some kind of “before:2015” search so I could easily find old stuff I remembered, but such is life.
But then I remembered the “favorites” page on my account. This is like, a huge list of every project you “favorite”, then featured and linked on
your own account. If there was a surefire way to find things I used to enjoy, this was it. And it worked! I found
all the weird lolsorandom spoofs I remember quoting constantly with my friends back in the day, every AMV by a particular animator
I idolized at the time, all the amateur games I found endlessly entertaining.
I’m still impressed to this day, honestly. A lot of these people were barely any older than I was.

I saw someone comment that an animation made in 2012 that I had watched back then
was “made two years before they were born”, and that was when I felt truly old.

But something else caught my attention. People were commenting on old projects calling them “cringe”. Like, really recently. The same projects
I thought were so brilliantly made, the same I had aspired to create. The things I idolized, created by fellow children. They were cringe now. That’s when
I felt truly ancient. A lot of older inactive accounts had descriptions like “Hey, this account is dead now and it’s super cringe don’t look at it”...

Just like me.

Another thing that saddened me was that some things were just lost to time. The projects wouldn’t load when I tried to play them. This was kind
of rare, but a few times it happened to things I had very vivid memories of, which was disappointing.
Still, for the most part, it was just as I left it, like a little time capsule.

So that’s the Scratch of then, the Scratch I remember, a place filled with lolsorandom Warrior Cats
and wolves and unrestrained creativity, all made by children. What is it like today?


So, the next question is how I’m going to gauge the atmosphere of current-day Scratch if I myself am not an
active user. The easiest way would be to probably take a look through the featured
projects on the homepage.

The first one was a wolf-themed dress-up game. It was a little small and simple but the art looked exactly like
something I could have seen back in the day, all pixelly and anime-inspired. There was also a Kiki’s Delivery Service
themed point-and-click game. The artwork was extremely polished, but the gameplay was more simple
than I would have liked. Thirdly, there was another game about a bug climbing ropes,
which I also found pretty fun.

I also took a look at the “what the community is loving” tab. I played one of these popular
games and enjoyed it, but was kind of surprised by the prevalence of a large animation that played in the corner
showing the viewer how to like and favorite the project.

I mean... That’s kind of weird isn’t it? Advertising, I mean. I never remembered that
being much of a thing other than creators saying “please favorite this if you liked it” in the instructions. Anyway,
these popular projects seemed to get somewhere between 50k-100k views.

I once again kind of wish I could search by most recent, so I could get an idea of how Warriors fans use Scratch, since that’s been almost a throughline
of this little diary entry. But then it hit me- search a character who’s a more recent addition to the series. I opted to look for Shadowsight and Bristlefrost, two of the
main characters of The Broken Code. And I got results. There were MAPs being hosted, animations and drawings being made- except nowadays it was all to popular TikTok songs
instead of Linkin Park and Evanescence. The newer art is also a lot less anime-esque, and there’s a lot less crazy emo hair now.
There are also a lot more MAP projects being made than full blown AMVs by one person, which I also think is
reflected by the wider Warriors community on youtube as well, same with the stylistic shift. I think it’s kind of cool,
actually, how you can just tell how things changed over the years.

I guess I’m just glad people are still active and kids are still making stuff. If there’s really any conclusions to be drawn here,
it’s that you should be kind to people who are just now dabbling in creative artwork, and you should be kind to yourself-
even the most “cringe” parts of you. Furthermore, it’s that online spaces for children to be themselves should always
exist, no matter what, and I’m glad Scratch is still alive and kicking.


My first roadblock came when I realized I had no way to make Scratch’s sprite editor work
with my drawing tablet. An ominous omen to be sure. My second roadblock was that it had been
a few hours since I had set up my account and I still hadn’t been given my verification email,
which was necessary to share projects. Foreboding!

Still, I buckled in and animated something by mouse. What I made was a redesigned version of my original OC,
henceforth named Moonspectrum. She is honestly even more of a sparklecat than the original OC
was, but that’s sort of what she represents. Eventually my account was confirmed, too.

I wanted to make something that the old me would be over the moon about,
complete with corny nightcore rock music. So I did.


3/2/23 – Some Half-Formed Thoughts About Reading and Attention Span

So, for a few years on Tumblr, I’ve seen a lot of posts to the effect of “I used to read a lot
as a kid but now I can barely sit down to read a chapter” passed around as jokes. I laughed
along at first but the more time passes the more it discomforts me that
I relate to this sentiment. It checks out, though, since apparently statistically people are reading less and have
shorter attention spans. I recognize myself in these jokes and it worries me, especially since
reading is such an important skill...

Obviously I do still read books- two years ago I reread the entire main Warriors series
around the beginning of summer and I was averaging about two books a day, and then the year
after I did a similar project rereading Guardians of Ga’hoole, but lately
I’ve developed a particular habit of picking up a book and getting halfway through before dropping it… To say nothing of how the books
I do tend to finish being written with preteens in mind. (What can I say? The allure of children’s
xenofiction is strong!) Pretty recently I tried to pick up Gideon the Ninth since I heard good things about it, but
I kind of bounced off of it after a few chapters. Now, this isn’t only
because of my attention span being shorter- I wasn’t really clicking with the snarky
tone- but it isn’t the only book I dropped recently.

I’m trying to pick up reading again, and a few days ago I downloaded a PDF (pirated , sorry :P)
of Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice and I’ve been trying to read around 50 pages of the PDF per day. Can I just say what a relief
it is that I HAVEN’T been struggling with hitting that goal!? I had been intrigued with the idea of reading it
due to having enjoyed the movie adaptation and I’m surprised at just how much was kept faithful
between the two versions- while also getting nice surprises that weren’t adapted to film, like the encounters with the more genre-typical
“old world vampires”, which I greatly enjoyed reading as a fan of vampire fiction in general... My last
stopping point was after Louis and Claudia attended the vampire theatre- it feels so nice to be reading and engaging with
something again without feeling like it’s an uphill battle to
finish my goal for the day.

I don’t really have any specific conclusions or a stylish wrap-up or anything to draw from this other than the
hope that I keep regaining my love of reading. I remember I got in trouble for reading TOO MUCH in class when I was younger and didn’t
have social media or a phone to distract me... Oh, how the mighty fell, lol. As an aside, if anyone
has any suggestion for books with animal protagonists aimed at an older audience than stuff like
Warriors, Guardians of Ga’hoole, Watership Down, etc… Please let me know, I’d absolutely be all over it.

3/2/23 – Some Favorite Movies

I felt the urge to update my blog a bit but I have work later
so I decided to bang out a quick, unorganized list of movies
I really like. You know, for anyone curious about that kind of thing.

Adolescence of Utena (1999) - My favorite movie ever (don’t watch this one without
the context of the original show though, because you kind of need to to understand
the symbolic language it’s using). I was grinning so hard when I watched
it the first time, it’s so cathartic and beautiful and needs to be experienced by everyone.
Every time I think I have it figured out, there’s something else I notice
about it, and my appreciation for it only deepens.

Suspiria (1977) - I had the pleasure of watching this one in my local historic theatre
that regularly does showings of older movies (it was built in ’26!) and let me tell
you, watching this one on the upper balcony of an old picture palace really
enhances the atmosphere of it, it just immediately hooked me. I love
how this movie uses color and ambiance and oh my god the SOUNDTRACK!!!
It’s so vibrant and beautiful and utterly terrifying (shoutout to the scene
where the guide dog was barking at nothing in that massive plaza, paranoia-based
horror always gets me). A must-watch. I haven’t seen the remake yet.

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) - My favorite Hammer Dracula film (yes, really!).
It’s like, exactly the high level of camp I love. Lots of fake blood
and silly 70s “how do you do fellow kids” dialogue and questionable outfit
decisions and a guy called Johnny Alucard. There’s a scene where Peter Cushing
is like, slowly rearranging the letters of “Alucard” to form “Dracula”
in the most overly serious way possible. It’s wonderful.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) - OKAY HEAR ME OUT I know this is kind of an
awful adaptation of the book and the way it treats its female characters Isn’t Great
and it’s the origin point of everyone thinking Mina and Dracula were in love,
but like… It’s such a stylish movie. The costuming and effects and everything
make it a fun enough watch for me to forgive that :P

Nope (2022) - You’ve probably already heard all the overwhelming praise for
this one- it’s all true. This movie is incredible. I mentioned before that
paranoia-based horror always gets to me, and this is no exception.
I love how it uses fear of open spaces and broad daylight. The themes of
exploitation and spectacle are also very well implemented. Also can I
just say that kitschy theme parks are such an underrated
horror setting? More of that PLEASE.

The Thing (1982) - My girlfriend’s favorite movie :3 I’m kind of obsessed with
how the movie stays so terrifying while also breaking the “don’t show the
monster too quickly” rule, you know? Also the practical effects are
awesome. You’ve probably already watched this one but it’s good.

Vampyros Lesbos (1971) - Another one I’d say is more appealing for its
atmosphere than its plot. Also warning this is one of those like, overly horny
gay vampire movies from the 70s (with all that implies).

The Vampire Lovers (1970) - See above. This one is Hammer’s Carmilla adaptation.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) - One of the best silent horror films.
I absolutely love the set design.

Filibus (1915) – Another silent film, this one is about a jewel-thief who
is a master of disguise- including gender. A surprisingly good-for-its-time
adventure movie that has a crossdressing lesbian villain-protagonist
who is a pirate who pilots an airship. IT RULES.

Hopefully you enjoy one of these on your next movie night.

2/24/23 – Dead Cells DLC + a new forum

Wow! I mean, wow! In case you didn’t see, there was a new trailer for the Dead Cells Return To Castlevania crossover and I’m so
excited because we got a pretty big confirmation: SHANOA WILL BE IN IT. Maria, too, and certainly other characters
are soon to follow. But I wasn’t expecting Shanoa at all, I’m so happy. I think of note are two things: Shanoa has access to Acerbatus and Torpor,
which are two of Albus’s signature glyphs, and she also has a statue of Albus in the room she’s in. Which implies that she’s post-OOE,
which will be super exciting to see. I hope they do some interesting things with her characterization
since we haven’t really seen that before unless you count GOS, and I consider GOS Shanoa
to be her own person separate from Original Flavor Shanoa, sort of. For lore reasons.

Another exciting thing is that I have finally realized a little dream of mine and started my own
Castlevania forum, called Forgemasters. Hopefully this will be a welcoming place for all sorts
of fans of the games ^_^ I’m a bit nervous because I’ve never run a forum before but it’s really exciting.

2/21/23 – Birthday

It’s my birthday! Or, it was, on the 19th. I waited until now to post anything
about it since on the 20th I had plans to hang out with my girlfriend,
thus extending the celebration a little bit :)

I had a delicious tres leche cake, and a lovely dinner at a local restaurant, and some of my
cooler gifts include a large Breyer model of a Clydesdale horse that looks just like a horse I work with IRL;
Tinderbox by Siouxsie and the Banshees on a vinyl record (so good!); a ticket to a Molchat Doma
concert (technically unrelated to my birthday but just happened to be a gift I received near my birthday… lol), as well as a
Revolutionary Girl Utena soundtrack CD and a fancy collar from my gf. SO! all in all I would call it a pretty good birthday.
We went thrifting, too, even though we didn’t find much it was nice.

This past year has been a pretty good one all things considered, since I broke a lot of my worst depressive habits,
started volunteering, cleaned my room in its entirety for the first time in years, got more into fashion,
makeup and expressing myself, confronted some unresolved trauma, and dabbled in a lot of
different creative hobbies (website design being my latest pet project…) Just a lot of little things
that add up to a lot. I’m a happier person than I was last year.

So… Yeah. Here’s to another year!

2/16/23- Christening

Hmm. I think it’s only fair that the first post on my new website should be
about the website itself, and the circumstances of its creation.

First things first, I’ve been a Tumblr user for nearly half my life. A lot of people hail Tumblr as one of the last bastions of a “bygone era”
of the internet- no algorithms, no obnoxious monetization, no tracking, etc. However, Tumblr has gradually been introducing a lot of features that go
against what the userbase values so much. Monetized post promotion, a “For-You Page”, and obnoxious “live” banner that you can’t permanently
opt out of taking up the top of your screen, replacing the button to see your own blog with one for their merch store on the app, the “Tumblr TV” thing I’ve seen described
as “TikTok but for images”, and more and more questionable decisions. I don’t think I’ll ever stop using Tumblr entirely, but the writing is on the wall-
not even your “last bastion” is safe. I’m sure a lot of more knowledgeable people could write about the pitfalls of the “centralized internet”,
but I am not those knowledgeable people, so I’ll leave it to the experts. The fact of the matter is that the more I thought about it,
the more I realized I didn’t want to rely on some company with their own interests for my place on the vastness of the internet.

I had seen a post circulated on Tumblr about Neocities, that had linked a bunch of tutorial pages for HTML and such, but every time I saw it
I had kind of thought- “no, I wouldn’t be able to do that”. I had dabbled a bit in HTML during high school but it all was lost on me. It’s very easy
for me to be easily intimidated by new things, even if when I eventually try them I end up enjoying them. And I did!
When I finally signed up for Neocities just to poke around and try it out, I ended up loving it. Designing a website,
it turns out, is a lot of fun! It’s like moving into a cute little apartment, or writing in a diary.

So, yeah, I think I’m here to stay. And I hope this makes anyone else reading it who’s thought about making a website gain the confidence
to make the leap. I’d also like to thank the website, where I found a lot of the tutorials that helped me design my website as it is now.

Thanks for reading!