Monday, December 30, 2019

Believing the Reversal

Last month, my local library held a controversial event, a Drag Queen Story Hour. This is seen as a fun event by families who bring kids to hear stories told by men dressed like women (if you can call *that* women). Though there's a problem. Well, problems. It's nice that a story is told to children (my mother taught me how to read at a very early age), but some did research on the books that were presented and found the books had a hidden agenda; tell children they're not necessarily the boys and girls they were born as. Dark as it may sound, apparently telling children they're not actually boys and girls is more okay than physically touching as evidenced by so many headlines in the last decade of parents, priests, and other predators doing that exact thing.
Another problem is another did research on who the drag queen reading at the event was and found out horrible things. He stole from the LGBTQ community and was convicted, making him a felon, yet he was being allowed to be around children? Worse is he had been known to have pedophile-centric events at a strip club in Huntington, WV.
Worst of all was the silence from the event supporters. These same people who cry out for protection for their children refused to listen to anything found out about the materials being read or the guy's past.
They cried out that the Christians against the event were hateful bigots. Also, since it's Morgantown, known for being one of the top 3 liberal towns in West Virginia, people claimed that the Christians who were against it "were not being good Christians," and I can guess from the types of churches in town means being more worldly nomular Christians rather than Christ-focused God-loving Christians.
Things got worse when one person made a cartoon meme with an image of a shotgun and a vague death threat. This got passed through the grapevine and, by word of ear, the supporters started believing some (if not all Christians) were making death threats. Against the library.
Also death threats against children.
That's when Morgantown slipped into a Kafkaesque nightmare. Not one Christian (literalist or liberal) would want a single child dead, so why anyone would claim such a horrid claim is anyone's guess. Though one single thing came to mind.
In the book of Genesis, there's mentions of people doing what's right in their own eyes. Today, that's just as true as then. To believe what is right in one's own eyes can lead to disregarding what God has set from time imemorum. Some people prefer to believe they are their own god. With enough psychotropic drugs, they may think they are God, doesn't make it reality, though. Since sin entered the world, mankind has actively sought to prove God either wrong or nonexistent so they can have more room to do what's right in their eyes, to believe in the reverse of what God has set out.
Nothing new under the sun there.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

An Ethereal Christmas

When it comes to movies, there's a term for when something follows a formula. Typecast. It happens a lot in music. A metal band sounds like metal regardless of the album, for instance.
Finding the band Leah, I've found something that's different every time. Almost like Dead Can Dance.
So, her first four albums, while a little different from each other, still had a similar Celtic atmosphere, which made it all pleasant. Her last album, The Quest, was unique compared to them. Still retaining a Celtic element, it had a different soundscape than her previous projects. Her latest, Ancient Winter, will repeat this idea. Have an element of the familiar while being entirely different, regardless. She does so in a wonderful, ethereal way. The idea of a Christmas album is nothing new in the music industry. So.e sound downright traditional with some influence of the genre a musician has been using. Others are Christmas in relation to the lyrics with some of the spirit influencing the music. In the case of Ancient Winter, it's a whole new ballgame. The whole album doesn't have a traditional snow-white feel to it. Rather, the music is predominantly Middle Eastern influenced,  as the album is borderline a retelling of the Christmas story. Or, the first track is. The instant the album opener started, I was blown away by the deep sound of strings, nothing slipshod about the production value. This can be said of each track. This track not only sets the tone of the album, it's memorable as its own deal.
By halfway through, I noticed a shift that surprised me. Starting on the song "Gaudete," noticed a dash of Latin used in the lyrics, not strictly with background singing. Gaudete, in fact, is only in Latin. According to what I've heard, this is an old traditional Christmas song in Europe. Hearing this version, it's very interesting. It's not slow like a traditional Christmas song, though it be energetic, it's not as energetic as K-Pop music. It's comfortably in the middle. After Gaudete, the album keeps each song distinct, memorable, yet thematically the same and all together beautiful. If I had to nitpick on anything, it's that I wish it were more than 8 tracks. It's not a Christmas album I've experienced before and it's left me wishing for more. I can't recommend this enough to anyone who loves beautiful music.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

A Frightful Truth

I recently saw Spider-man: Far From Home. Rather nice movie, though with my eccentric mind, I saw it in another angle. A message desperately needed: the fight for the hard truth is more important than relative truth.
Unless you read the comics, saw the cartoon from the 90's, or played the licensed games on 6th-generation game consoles (PS2, Gamecube, Xbox), and your only exposure to marvel characters has been Disney movies, you wouldn't know Mysterio's actual deal. I'm two out of three. Always watched the show and am a lifelong gamer. Therefore, it was no shocker that he (spoiler alert) is the primary villain. With today's movie technology, he could seemingly twist and manipulate reality to prove his point about "truth," even if it involves a strong dash of lies.
In another scene, when some big hard truths are revealed about Peter Parker, his school group gets some very questionable ideas of who Peter might be from someone in the group who sharply hates him. What's MJ do? In this new version of her, she releases a sharp wit, warping the concept of relative truth on its head and practically weaponizes falsehood to shut the guy up. I thought it was brilliant and funny. In essence, the story progressed when hard truth was revealed, regardless of consequences. Otherwise, relative truth was played for humor and special effects.
Today, it seems like the reverse happens day by day. Truth gets played for bad jokes and people think their own truth will advance the story of their life. Then again, that seems to get nowhere when everyone argues that their own view is either more important or valid than yours.
In recent years, I've been complimented as being a gentleman and a scholar.
I'm one. I have a thing for old-fashioned manners, which is rare today. I don't care, I always believed it's more important trying to show gentlemanly manners than sounding like a YouTube comment section just because that's the norm.
By technical definition, I'm not a scholar. I flunked out of college twice, going for four different majors. I learn differently than others. I do appreciate the sentiment people are giving, but let's face it; in today's world where a college degree proves worth to s substantial degree (no pun intended), I'm no one.
The truth can be a frightful thing these days. No, scratch that, it's been a dangerous thing since ancient times, but in varying degrees and in different cultures.
In my mind, I can manipulate how I think in certain ways without affecting the core of truth. I see from multiple angles and think logically. I've heard the term "high-speed thought processes," which can accurately describe what it's like to have 5-15 thoughts in the span of a couple mere seconds.
For this month, I'd say it's apropos to say the hard objective truth can be frightening. Maybe scarier than DC's Black Label comics and Dark Horse comics.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Punkin' Out?

After E3 this year, I heard a bizarre controversy that is both nonsensical and outlandish. It revolves the upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077 and how, in a private gameplay demo, a small in-game ad was called "transphobic" by some game journalists who, as far as this gamer is concerned, have lost their credibility.
The insulting attacks by these reporters state the game is made by "an alt-right game designer" in a "white country", etc., etc. In essence, debasing comments by people who, by the sounds of it, have never stepped foot in Poland, never talked to Polish folk, never hung out with any of the crew from developer CD Projekt Red.
Why mention some race bait right after the "transphobia"? Because the same journalist who claimed the game as transphobic claims the game is racist as well. Odd, considering the creator of the tabletop game (who's strongly involved with making the game) is black. If a black man thought the game were racist, wouldn't he have shown his anger? I'm not talking about misplaced anger like Andrzej Sapkowski and his monetary demands from CDPR for his own financial foresight problems. Every step of the way in the game design, Mike Pondsmith (creator of Cyberpunk 2020) has been praising the game company, come forth about the company's racial diversity, how staff in his own company (Talsorian Games) have employees ranging from straight to bi to gay to trans. Interesting note there, trans staff helping make a game that has a "transphobic" ad? Something doesn't fit.
That something definitely feels like journalism that, noticeably in the last couple years, have been going downhill in quality.
Everything I've heard about Pondsmith's remarks towards SJW journalists (and hate bait) shows he has both strong and fast wit, especially in regards to the race card angle. He gave his point about the Animals and Voodoo Boys gangs while race-based hate bait ignored how an African-American gang called the "Animals" are lead by an imposing white woman. They also disregard how, in the first gameplay demo, a corporate entourage that betrays V are predominantly white. No word about how that was racy...
Something else about the hate towards the ad is that it is claimed to be "oversexualized."
...and today's real life commercials aren't sexual in the least? Ever since 2008, when I first noticed a commercial using not-so-subtle sexual wording, I noticed so many commercials using sex in some form or another to drive home the point that you, yes YOU,will find pleasure and satisfaction in whatever product or service is being offered. Talk about forcing the viewpoint down your throat. Near literally. Only the Trojan commercials are overtly about sex, and never having a good intention. CB's ad, in that regard, doesn't feel quite as R-rated. In context to the game's genre-based themes, it makes complete sense. Humanity has lost its God-given value of Imagio Dei and have become only monetary value commodity in that genre.
You, as V, are like a John Carpenter hero in that you're "sticking it to the man," the megacorporations.
Ironically, in real life, there's a conglomerate that's been behind the horrible attacks against CDPR, who are known for consumer-friendly practices. What kind of practices? In their award-winning game Thd Witcher 3, all but two DLC's were free. The only two that weren't were two story expansions. This, in the current gaming landscape, is considered ludicrous where virtually all DLC is at least $1. Plus, during E3 '19, a crowd member shouted to Keanu Reeves that "You're breath taking!" which got Red's attention, and they awarded the guy not only a copy of the game, but the COLLECTOR'S EDITION, valued at $270, for free. FREE!? All big game companies would simply laugh with the crowd and expect the guy to cough up cash for their game. A game company that would give a high-value edition of a game? That made news in itself. No wonder news journalists went nuts over it.
This little company, full of people that, as they started out, had no one with game design experience (one of their staff said as much) have become the most respected companies in the game industry... now a major conglomerate wants to take them down? It's all sounding eerily like the genre itself.
The conglomerate is punking out while CDPR's chippin' in.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Year, Kinda Same Me

It almost feels like yesterday was New Year's Eve 2009. So much has happened in this decade. This year can make a critical difference for the better, if we all do our part (even small) in doing good.
At work, I've heard people saying they gave up on resolutions and goals to stick with survival. Somehow, this sounds simplistic. Almost borderline apathetic, like asking "What's the point of bettering myself if I will fail myself again?"
Speaking of bettering one's self, I noticed a new viral Facebook challenge, comparing one's first profile picture and latest picture, seeing how "hard" aging has hit one's self. I would do this, but after restarting my account in June, I don't have many pictures to judge by. All I can say is my looks have not substantially changed since high school. Graying sideburns, laugh lines, and a receding hairline later, I still look the same to those I graduated with back in 2006.
Yet I do plan on bettering myself. Got a plan to get a car, to write down the foundation for a science fiction story, get the courage to ask a friend for (at the very least) a coffee date, those are just the start.
Nationally, we all need to seek improvement, but if we're honest with ourselves, it doesn't look like we're doing a good job of it. Last year started with a controversial challenge involving Tide pods. This year has started with people driving blindfolded due to that Netflix movie Bird Box. It's bad when Netflix urges people not to do it, starting off with "I can't believe I have to say this," trust me, Netflix, I wish it were unnecessary. However, we're presenting more and more anarchistic behavior week after week.
This year has the potential to be the best yet, or most morally challenging and nationally breaking if we're not careful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What Happened To Our Standards?

Recently, at work, someone made a complaint against me about a joke I made. A joke that I've made for a few years based on how often I've been asked what country I'm from. A joke about needing a translator. I figured I was getting a complaint for telling a driver she almost got me with her vehicle, essentially flying through the parking lot. That happens every day.
Our bothers me most that, compared to our lowest moments of indecency in January, January was a sign we still had some sense, now we're all basically social anarchists in our behavior. "Don't tell me how to live my life," or "It's not like it really matters, right?" You tell them the truth, they get truly offended. You leave them to their ignorance, they get worse.
Not only that, I've come to notice how some people have no problem living a lifestyle role of any decency or nobility. Manners, top them, is a joke, a bad one barely with a chuckle. Someone like me, waiting for marriage, am a joke, if not a generational anomaly, just because I still believe in decency and treating women with both respect and Godly intention. People seem to prefer immediate gratification without patience nor work.
Literally, life is all about them. I told a coworker he should try hiking himself before others. Went from smiling to confused and refused. That told me the sort of guy he prefers to be. Then again, while at work, he serves others. If only our hearts went solely focused on ourselves, we might become a great nation again. As things currently are, we're literally a backward laughingstock compared to everywhere else. In satirical news networks, we're easily made fun of with how far regressive we are with business practices and family values. By statistics, we're only the best at the worst. Tell people this and they're either shameful of the facts or believe you're unpatriotic and need to shut your mouth. To me, this is a multigenerational side effect of walking away from God. You know, the "fairy in the sky" people make fun of flippantly because God doesn't give them the mansion or car or game system they were desperate for. Or worse, believed God would deliver their loved ones from death strictly because of their faith, treating God like a feel-good vending machine. Or disbelieve because our *current* model of evolutionary science "disproves" him. I only say current because it does change every week to every other month, unlike God's Word which never changes, nor His promises.
This one deity is the antithesis of our selfish hearts, our shortsighted minds, or ego-driven personae. That's why, if we're not trained by God-fearing folks, we lose track of Him and follow a deceiving heart and laugh at those willing to set aside personal time to help us get back on track.
Another annoyance the days is when people show a callous recklessness. While at work a short while back, I told a customer I get real annoyed by customers who leave their carts in the middle of the lobby floor. An elderly woman heard me and told me, without a smile, that she does it "because it's your job," I knew she would file a complaint against me if I told her I still recall the trail and of an era when it was expected that people looked out for one another instead of "expected" servants to do their job because they're paid for it. Whatever happened to that humble attitude, too selflessly help each other? It's so rare, people are taken back by examples of it, they get wide-eyed and nearly jaw-dropped when simply does it, let alone without expectation of a reward. And I never ask for compensation.
No, we're so focused on ourselves, we barely pay attention to local traffic laws. Back in February, a college student was killed in a traffic incident by someone running a red light. The first of three this year to be killed by someone too selfish to follow the rules. Yet my area still has drivers who refuse to lookout for pedestrians. At work, I'm more likely to get glare from someone breaking the state law who's trying to illegally speed up (and risk running anyone over) than I am to get the go-ahead by sane people.
Pride. If we're not careful, that will be our downfall long before the next horrifying act of terrorism.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Quest: Review

An album, three years in the making, has finally come out... last month. Much as I wanted to get it, I was worried my phone would get the wrong impression of downloading music that wasn't on Google Play. Luckily, November 2nd came and Leah fans got the big news: THE QUEST WAS AVAILABLE ON ALL STREAMING SERVICES! I immediately purchased it.
Before I go any further, let me mention that, when it comes to reviews for symphonic black metal or Celtic metal (let alone fantasy-inspired metal), there's always the tendency to do comparisons. Whether it's the professional critic comparing to a bigger, established name band or the fan on YouTube comparing some Goth sound to The Lord of the Rings, we always have the instinct to do comparisons. Why? To find comfortable familiarity, some sort of common ground. Which is one thing that irritates me about how most Americans like their music, then they look at me strange when I describe the music, not comparing to other bands, per se, but to certain cultural influences and specific music genres, even when it's something one has never heard of before (mentioned "techno" in regards to another band to a co-worker today, he'd never heard it). With Leah, the style's best described as "Celtic metal with fantasy inspirations" or "Celtic fantasy metal").
This album, by far, is the biggest departure from her norm. I don't mean to say she leaves Celtic metal for *gulp* country music (terrifying thought!!!!!), but, compared to her previous albums and EP (plus digital singles), this album does have its own spin on the genre. No two songs are the same. From the not-radio-friendly-lengthy album opener to the short, yet beautiful album closing ballad, every song has a purpose in how it sounds. Some of the songs have a direct inspiration on where the lyrics come from.
From the announcement of The Quest, Leah made it clear that it would be a departure (of sorts) from her previous projects. For one, this would be a conceptual album. Maybe playing Skyrim effected this? No, she doesn't hide the fact she's a Skyrim addict. So, this album is the musical equivalent of a big quest for a hero to go through. Like better, not-quite-stereotypical stories, there's challenges and hope. I keep getting the feeling "Ghost on a Throne" is inspired by Aragorn meeting the Ghost Army's king. That, in itself, is a nice challenge as that scene dealt with making a near-impossible promise, then keeping to the promise.
After the first three tracks, the album threw a curveball for me, "Heir" started off sounding like a Christmas song, then it got heavy, which gladdened my heart with the creativity in it. It's very hard picking out any song on this as my "favorite," as it were, but "Heir" is a top contender at this point.
At this point, after multiple times listening to this, I still have yet to find any flaws worth mentioning, which is rare for me, even to nitpick about.