Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Last Year

Has it really been a year since my last post? Seems like it was longer. I suppose I better catch you up with what I've been doing. Although, I suppose it wasn't much, that I recall. Unless you count Comic Con '07 as "much."

So my brother got us tickets a few months in advance. By "us," I mean him, my step-brother, my step-brother's girlfriend, my half-sister, and me. Since I didn't finish my Kankuro costume in time for Halloween last year, I wore it to Comic Con. The costume was pretty good, especially for a first effort, although I didn't have the proper props, most notably his giant, killer marionette, Crow. An on-line friend convinced me to go with Kankuro's make-up from later in the series (yet to be aired in the US), as by then he summons his puppet rather than carrying it on his back. I had to get my sister to help with the make-up, though.

Since most of the group had work to get to on Monday, we only went to Comic Con on the second and third days (despite having a four-day pass) so we could leave on the fourth day (Sunday). We probably could've gone on the first day, but we spent that time trying to get to the place. By the time we got there, we decided to just head for the hotel since it was so late and the hotel was so far away. Seriously, the closest hotel we could get was a Travelodge literally a stone's throw away from the Mexican border. I forget what the town's name was, though, but we decided to take the tram rather than pay for parking when we went to Comic Con the next couple of days.

When we showed up, I was almost immediately glomped by cosplaying Naruto fangirls (they literally called out "Glomp Kankuro!"), who made me hug this other guy who also cosplayed as Kankuro, and then we all took a group photo. That felt incredibly awesome, and I hadn't even gotten into the con yet. Unfortunately, that was probably the high point of my visit.

Shortly after entering the con, we all took a moment to check the con schedule to see what we should be doing. I'm pretty sure I pointed out the nearby camera crew to them, but I think we all could've been a little more leery of them. I didn't feel like looking at the schedule, so I decided to space out and follow their lead when they finally came to a decision. A moment later, I noticed that the camera crew was beginning to move towards us. I thought to myself, "They're not coming over here, are they? Oh, crap! They are!" No one else noticed them draw closer, clearly attracted by my kick-ass costume, and it was a little too late to warn them so we could run. They only wanted to talk to me, though. I think I recall the interview going a little something like this:

Him: "So, here we have one of the denizens of Comic Con. Tell us, sir, who are you supposed to be?"
Me: "I am Kankuro from Naruto."
Him: "And what are your powers?"
Me: "I summon a killer puppet to attack my enemies."
Him: "How did you get your powers?"
Me: "Well, I used to carry it on my back, but about three years ago I was defeated by this kid with the power to control bugs. After that, I learned to summon my puppet magically."
Him: "And where do you keep this puppet when you're not using it?"
[I seriously had no idea.]
Me: "At home, usually."
Him: "So, are you here alone?"
Me: "We actually patrol in squads of three or four."
Him: "And where is the rest of your squad now?"
Me: "In the shadows, waiting to strike."
[Short pause]
Him: "Have you checked out the self-help booth near the front?"
Me: "Oh, there's a self-help booth?"
Him: "Well, we'd like you to have this."
[Hands me a cheap-ass award ribbon]
Me: "Oh, wow."
Him: "I don't know how I feel about killer puppets and assassins waiting in the shadows, but I'm sure Comic Con is a little safer with you around. Thanks for talking with us."
Me: "It's been a pleasure."
Him: "So, do you shake hands in Kankuro-land?"
Me: "Actually, I believe we bow."
[We bow.]

I was still riding the high from the fangirl-glomp earlier, so I thought I handled that pretty cool. Now that I think about it, it was probably pretty stupid. Considering the questions he asked, though, that was probably what he was going for. The release I signed was with Comcast Cable, which I don't get at home, so I assume it was some local show.

Me and my brother had differing opinions, I think, on what the focus of our visit should be. Basically, all I wanted to do was take as pictures of cosplayers, which I did, but I didn't take nearly as many as I wish I could've since we spent much of our time running from panel to panel. Even more unfortunately, it was during these inopportune moments in which I saw some of the best costumes. Not that the ones I did take were bad, so this might be a case of "the grass is greener on the other side." I took all those photos with my cellphone, partly because he didn't think he had the digital memory to devote to random people and that landmarks were more important. Suffice it to say, most of the pictures he took were of me with other cosplayers, some of which he had to delete to make more room. Ironically (if that's the right word for it), he later figured out how to turn the picture quality down so he could take more photos. I don't think it was really his camera, so it's not like I could blame him. Only perhaps three pictures that he took were of landmarks, and I wouldn't necessarily compare them to the Eiffel Tower.

The first two panels we went to were for Stargate: SG-1 and 24. The SG-1 panel was pretty cool. It was moderated by the guy who plays Miles (I think that's the name. All I know is that he operates the Stargate and shares a name with "Radar" from "M*A*S*H"), who gave us his favorite line he wished he'd get to say ("I don't know, sir. Teal'c was right behind me."), and the panel included Amanda Tapping (Samantha Carter), Ben Browder (Cameron Mitchell, also Cryton from Farscape), and Christopher Judge (Teal'c). We got to see the trailer for the SG-1 movie (direct-to-video, of course), and learned cool stuff like how the various branches of our military competed over their support for the show. Also, despite warnings not to and the entire audience booing at him, some guy got up to the mic during the Q&A period to sing a song. He probably wouldn't've if Amanda Tapping didn't want to hear it (beat me to the punch, too). His mic was cut eventually, of course, and the SG-1 cast got a chance to play the American Idol judges. Then Miles said, "I believe the next person has a Haiku for us."

I begrudgingly went to the 24 panel. I'm not a big fan (no particular reason. I just don't watch it), but I was, admittedly, too scared to wander around the con myself. I don't think I can remember half of the panels we went to, though I do remember not going to the Kevin Smith panel. Sure, he's all that and a bag of chips, but the line went out the building and snaked around the lawn, and I was not in the mood to stand in the San Diego sun in a black ninja suit. (Seriously. How is it that the only ninja that actually wears black on that show comes from the desert? Must not be a very hot one...)

At some point, while wandering around the con, we met up with first fangirl I met up with, who I only know as "Shampoo" from Ranma, and her friend, an uncharacteristically shy Rock Lee. There was an influx of Naruto cosplayers in one of the entry halls, and since I was apparently part of her group she saw fit to lead me there. I had, in fact, seen that ninja nexus already, and left shortly after being teased for not having any scrolls by another Kankuro cosplayer (I forget if it was the same one. There were at least three of us). So, I stuck around a bit longer, and got my brother to take some photos of me. Two that survived the later delete were me fighting Choji and me with a cute girl (I think) cosplaying as Gaara. I wasn't sure what to do after that, and I was a little afraid of what might happen next, so we moved on. Probably a good move, since I heard later (from "Shampoo's" mom, I think) that there were a string of photo ops involving the "Thousand Years of Death" technique (also known as "Secret Finger Jutsu," I believe), a joke attack from Naruto that generally involves sticking something up someone else's butt, that got progressively crazier. I think there might have been a picture of it in the Summer '07 issue of Animerica.

I don't think I saw "Shampoo" after that. Maybe once the next day. Should I have gotten her e-mail address? Nah...

We met Matthew Atherton, also known as Feedback from the first season of "Who Wants to be a Superhero?". I know that my sister talked to him on his MySpace page and sent him a drawing of him struggling against a microwave monster (microwave radiation being one of his weaknesses), and when they met face-to-face I thought they were totally BFF. Later on, it seemed increasingly more likely that he had no idea who she was and was pretty much just playing along. She got to talk to his wife later, too, but it was mainly about how they literally got so much fanmail they didn't know what to do with it and how actually answering it wasn't exactly a brilliant move. At least we all got free Feedback comics, though I probably should've bought a t-shirt when I had the chance.

Speaking of my favorite reality show (next to pre-celebrity Mole), we stuck around late that night to see the first episode of it, as well as the first episode of the second season's Eureka. It was pretty cool, especially since we missed both due to the hotel not getting the Sci-Fi channel (for shame!). I knew then, and at the panel the next morning, that Hyper-Strike and Hygiena were going to the final round. They were the only two of the second-season heroes that were actually at the con. Too bad neither actually won. I would've liked to see Stan Lee take a crack at Hyper-Strike's anime-inspired goodness, and Hygiena's character (unlike the contestant herself) looked pretty hot on paper. The Defuser looks like it'll be a fun read, anyway, but I hope it's better than Feedback's comic. I don't think it was all that bad, but I'm glad I got it for free.

During the "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" panel the next morning, some interesting things happened during the Q&A session. First off the top of my brain was Man-Faye (a considerably unattractive male Faye Valentine, from "Cowboy Bebop," cosplayer) popping up from under a trench coat (under which he wore his Faye Valentine costume) to express his indignation for not being selected last season (he was the guy in yellow whose power was having a hairy ass. I blame copyright issues) and to announce he was publishing his own comic book starring himself. From various actual questions, we learned that they're brainstorming variations on the show, including "Who Wants to be a Supervillian?" among others not mentioned, that representatives of some country (in the UK, I think) asked them to do a "Junior version" of the show (a request they did not understand), and that Stan Lee wishes he could think of a format in which nobody gets eliminated. The thought occurs that he could do something like "The Real World" on MTV, but that'd be entirely unoriginal and probably boring.

Our second day wasn't as hectic, but god dammit if the panels we wanted to see both days weren't either too close together and/or too far apart (chronologically and physically). I only remember the voice actor's panel, which was surprisingly entertaining. Not only did we get to see an impromptu maiming of "War of the Worlds," but also that guy from "Animaniacs" singing "Yakko's World," from memory, without missing a beat. In case you don't know, that's the one where Yakko sings the names of every country in the world. He turned down the first request, but he had to oblige when the next guy asked as well. We also got this classic exchange with one of the audience members:
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Yeah, what's your name?"
"Matt."
[In Pinky's voice] "I think so, Matt, but if Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why does he keep doing it?"
Funny! Also, I admire his use of a stall tactic (asking the guy's name) so he could think of a punchline.

I also got to watch some anime in the viewing rooms, but that felt quite a bit like wasting time. I probably would've bought some anime in the dealer's room, but the only ones that interested me looked like they'd be chock-full of fanservice so I wouldn't want people to know I bought them. In fact, I didn't spend nearly as much money as I hoped I would. Frankly, I was expecting to clean out my bank account. I remember buying the following:
  • Food (the pizza was good, but the hot dogs sucked)
  • A plush Kanti, from FLCL (my brother convinced me not to pay out the ass for the figures, particularly the hundred-dollar-plus con exclusives)
  • A DVD, t-shirt, and posters for a animated series called "Revelation."
If I had bothered to actually read the DVD case, or even the title, I probably wouldn't've bought that last one. Apparently, it's set in the future (where, apparently, the Republic of Texas has its own standing army) and is based on the Book of Revelations from the bible. The disc contains only the first episode and the pilot (the latter somehow being more impressive than the former), and a short disclaimer from the artist's wife, who said, "Many people worked on this show, but only one artist." Apparently, none of those people were animators, because there is no animation that doesn't involve scaling or sliding. When they can't hide it, you can literally count the frames of animation without even trying. They'll just fade from one posture to the next, which is classier than just snapping into place. I could do better animation in Flash. It's not that hard. The art, voice acting, and writing is decent enough, I guess. I only spent twenty dollars, so I guess technically I got it free with the t-shirt (it says "Because reality sucks" on the front ^_^). They have a website at d7.com, if you'd like to see it for yourself. I think. I haven't actually been to it yet.

I'm a little disappointed that no one wanted my picture, though. Well, I think "Shampoo" and her pals have one, and I got my picture taken a couple times by GameFly. Pretty good pictures, but I discovered about a month too late that it was part of some sweepstakes.
Other than a Pokemon miniatures game, I can't think of anything else noteworthy about my experience.


Fast forward to today, since the rest of the years seems to be a blur. I am out of money, since my Dad is making me pay the phone (and, hence, internet) bill to spur me on to getting a job faster. (I'd probably be able to pay it in full if it weren't for my credit card bill. I'm sure no matter what I say, dad'll feel justified in his decision) Oh, yeah, I also don't have a job. Still. Considering that my employment is at the whim of the prospective employers, I don't think forcing me to spend all my money and cutting off my internet was the right way to go about it. I mean, I'm pretty sure I can find ways to keep myself from leaving the house without help from the internet. I was a TV junkie before I was an internet junkie, so I'm sure I'll find ways to waste my life between the television and the computer. What'd they repossess, anyway? I think my dad paid for most of this stuff. Well, the furnishings. I at least pitched in for the game consoles. Yeah, I'd miss the electronic stuff, but all it does is keep me from thinking I'm depressed, and if my self-worth drops too low there's no way I'm getting a job. For all I know, I'd just sleep all day. And it's not like I don't have my own motivators. I want to get a Wii by December third so I can play Super Smash Bros. Brawl on it. Have you seen their website? This game's gonna be awesome! I can't wait to go up against the subspace emissary. I just need to get about three-hundred dollars in two months. How can I do that if I think I'm depressed? I don't believe I'm qualified to do anything! How could I possibly convince anyone otherwise?

Well, acting, I guess, but that feels dishonest and could push me over my head.

Oddly enough, that was a bit of a tangent. I was just going to mention it and move on to the next thing. That next thing is that we're getting new carpeting, which may have to do with my dad's girlfriend moving in. The old carpet is stained with cat waste, which you can occasionally smell, as is the old couch set and the walls are probably dustier than crap-coated. So, we're cleaning the house top to bottom, painting some of the walls, and throwing out the old couch. We offered it to Goodwill, but they rejected it because the cats tore it up too much and suggested we try the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army wouldn't take it because it was stained. You couldn't see the stains, but they probably smelled them. Thus, my dad took the couches to the dump. The love seat fit well enough in his van, but the couch had to be cut in half. I'm not kidding. Clearly, the proper tool for this was a chain saw, but we only had a buzz saw. I told my dad before he started that it gave me a sense of foreboding, but he did it anyway. Afterward, we said stuff like, "What? This isn't a sofa-bed!" and "Yeah, I think it's dead now." Also, we found a black widow spider in it. It might be in his van now.

Anything else? Well, I was made a mod at my friend's Megaman X role playing board, Phaelin Era, and expect me to recruit new members. (Please do join. We'd love that ever so much.) Since, for some odd reason, I have an account on Gaia Online, I decided to recruit some members from their forums. Not being a big fan of spam-and-run tactics, I thought I'd stick around and try their message boards.

I soon realized why I tried it once in the past and then left: Too many damn people. Now, back in the late nineties, I could spend all night at AGNP despite protests from my siblings that I was hogging the internet. In its heyday, it was brimming with activity and I'd slog through it all on our WebTV. Now I have Outlook Express on a Gateway computer, and its patronage has dwindled to a mere handful. It was considered a bit of an achievement that it recently went from a low-activity newsgroup to a medium-activity newsgroup. (Clearly, AGNP is a BBS on the "Grow.") It doesn't take long to read it, so I've expanded into other, web-based message boards that I can also read all the messages of in one sitting. Sometimes, it takes longer than I'd like and other times not long enough for my liking. Regardless, I have little time for Gaia.

I'm not even sure how to handle Gaia's message boards. I feel like I have to babysit threads I wish to discuss or role play in. Anywhere else, I can post a message, then read other messages as I await a response, assuming whoever I'm interacting with is even on at that time. I could even leave and come back a day or two later with little fear of falling behind. At Gaia, I started a new thread and couldn't even find it when I went back to the index page. There were so many replies to so many threads, it had been pushed to the next page, and the trend continued so quickly I couldn't even chase it down through the subsequent pages. I had to use the search function to find it, and I doubt anyone else will be joining in with incentive. I was just experimenting anyway, so no big loss. I then tried to join another thread that was just starting up. It was three pages long in the span of an hour. There are threads there that number in thousands of posts long, and just keep getting longer. I don't know if I can keep up with that much activity. Maybe subscribing to threads may help...

And for a site that doesn't allow cybersex or anything else above a PG-13 rating, there are some kinky role-play threads. I've seen subject headers advertising a yuri or yaoi focus, vampire girls hunting boys, and even slave role plays. Those other items might not necessarily be hard-core in nature, but BDSM? Seriously, they're making characters that are either slaves to be sold or masters looking to buy, and then take it from there. Under normal circumstances, I might be inclined to think slave threads are just random anomalies amidst the constant ebb and flow of posts, but these threads are so freakin' popular that the RP board has special guidelines for them. Well, not so much special as in a reiteration of what is and is not allowed, such as hate speech and swearing. Not only is cybersex not allowed on the board proper, you're not even supposed to say you should take it to private messages as it would promote cybersex. It is undoubtedly happening anyway, but this is probably making it less likely for minors to get cyber-molested.

Bondage and domination, admittedly, have been among the various fetish-fodder floating around my sexual fantasyscape for some time, including lesbianism, anthropomorphic animals, fairies, multiple partners, and a few things I'm far too ashamed to admit right now but probably have on occasion. But, every once in a while, I see something that pushes a particular fetish to the forefront and it seems to be all I can think about. Lurid fantasies are created or remembered and dwelled upon into palpable intensity. I daresay I obsess over it. I don't know why. Do I find it so disturbing that it simply haunts me? Has newfound validation dredged up hidden desires? Did something seemingly unique stimulated creative inspiration? Whatever the reason, the idea suddenly seems to ramp up to "Wicked-cool," but soon enough settles down to "That's interesting, maybe," and eventually back to "Seriously, what the fuck?"

I'm not even sure I slept last night. I just remember laying in bed, thinking about slave threads, characters, and situations. I even masturbated a couple times. (Too much information?) I'm pretty sure it's not an isolated incident, but in the throes it feels like it is and actual incidents aren't all that frequent. For no good reason, let me list some of the things I came up with:
  • A young djinn. Djinn are technically genies, the kind that live in lamps and give three wishes, but this one is too young. She has reached the age of consent, of course, and like any good genie she is an enthusiastic, energenic, and willing slave, perhaps even an exhibitionist. She can't alter reality, but she will fulfill any wish her master desires to the best of her ability, even fighting people.
  • Playing slave. You got the daughter of a slave and the son of a master, possibly below the age of consent. They're forbidden from being true master and slave until they're at least 18, but they like to pretend. They don't have sex or anything, but there is a collar. Its simply a game to them, like "doctor" or "house," and they have a game they regularly play to see who gets to be which. While she (by which I mean whoever is slave at the time) isn't really obligated to do anything for him, she will do almost anything he asks her to do.
  • Slave Island. A thread idea I had for Gaia. There are all these slaves on the island, and the masters get to hunt them down and dominate them. Masters are identified by some form of jewelry on their person, and anyone without them (be they Masters who lost their ID or shipwrecked sailors) are fair game for slavery.
  • Slave walk. Alternate version of a story I'm writing. The main character puts a slave collar on her friends at the start of their journey through the wilderness and has them follow her naked. She could be naked, too. They have sex every once in a while.
  • Pokemon. Basically, I'd just play someone's Pokemon in a Pokemon RP. I've actually been kicking around the idea of playing someone's slave for a while, but couldn't think of a good place to try it. Gaia's an option, of course, but, well, you've read my problem with that site already. I doubt I'd try it in real life, though. The problem with many of the boards I go to is that I feel like I know them too well and I don't want their opinions changed of me.
  • A Pokemon parody. I call it "Slave Lord," I guess. I've come up with elements to make it into a video game. Here's the premise: in a world filled with magical humanoid races (elves, cat people, nagas, etc.), humankind manages to stay at the top of the food chain by enslaving other races (and each other). A Slave Master could actually go out and hunt down people to add to his or her collection, not unlike in Pokemon. There are even tournaments in which Slave Masters pit specially-trained slaves against each other. Your character, however, is out to change all that. A Slave Master yourself, you seek to conquer the tourney circuit, challenge the Slave Lord who rules the land, and abolish non-consensual slavery. You start off with a single, loyal slave who loves you dearly and soon catch a legendary rebel and make her your slave. She's got the same goal as you, but seeks to do it by freeing as many slaves as possible on her own. She clearly hates you for enslaving her, so it takes some convincing to get her to join your cause. In RPG fashion, you can choose to punish her into submission or try to earn her trust. She can become a willing slave, letting you have sex with her and discipline her, but only if she trusts you. Savage her, and she'll turn against you at some point during the plot of the game. Granted, you could beat her and rape her either way, but she could stab you in the back. I think it's an interesting mechanic, but I doubt it'd make it to the mainstream.

Well, it took about five hours, but I finally got to the thing I wanted off my chest. Not sure where to go from here. I guess I'll just watch TV in half an hour. I think this post got some of that slave obsession out of my system. Feel free to encourage me to explore that angle, of course. Maybe I just need the right environment.

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