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Wear Orange Weekend

Published June 1, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Rather than a new post, a reblog. Obviously, the hiatus affects Misding Letter Mondays, as well as my doll blog’s weekly feature.

Crazy Doll Lady

Today and the next two days make up Wear Orange Weekend, where the idea is to wear orange (the color of visibility) for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.  In light of all the recent mass shootings, this is more important than ever this year.  But I have no desire to turn this blog political, so I’m not going any further with that.

Instead, I’m going to explain that my blog is going on a brief hiatus.  Probably not more than a week, but…it’s hard to say for sure.  And the hiatus is going to include Blind Box Mondays.

The reason for the hiatus is that I hurt my shoulder.  It’s just a strained muscle, but in order to let it heal, I need to stop doing…well, pretty much everything I usually do.  (I have no idea how I’m going to survive!)  Not supposed to type or otherwise use computers…

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So, what do you think about Kickstarter posts?

Published May 20, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I’ve at least once posted here to spread the word about a Kickstarter that I was worried wouldn’t make its funding (and a few more times on my other blog), but what do people think about more frequent posts about Kickstarters I’m backing?

I’m not talking about a weekly thing, naturally.  Just a “when it seems appropriate” thing.  When a campaign thematically ties to some of my frequent blogging themes (like this visual novel based on Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, for example), or when I’m really worried it won’t fund or won’t reach an important stretch goal.

See, Kickstarter campaigns are always asking their backers to spread the word on social media, but I’m not on any social media other than WordPress, so there’s not a lot I can do about it.  (Frustratingly, some of them have contests and/or special stretch goals that require their link be liked or re-thingied or whatever.  (Hey, I’ve never even used these things, I don’t know how they work!)  And I really can’t do anything about that.)  Posting about the campaigns on my blog(s) is about all I can do, but I don’t want to annoy anyone with unrelated posts that will just come off as asking for money (even though I’m not the one getting the money).

The types of Kickstarter campaigns I might post about on this blog could include games (board and video), books (mostly graphic novels, but also some regular novels), various campaigns working to protect the environment (replanting trees, buying virgin forest to protect it, that kind of thing), short films and documentaries.  Possibly other stuff, too, but these are the only ones I can think of.  Though maybe the games would be a better fit on my other blog.  That might be a case-by-case thing.

I won’t start posting about Kickstarter campaigns (outside of exceptional circumstances) without direct confirmation that people actually want to read those kind of posts.  So please, if you have an opinion one way or the other, voice it.  (Preferably within a week.)

Just one more thing…

Before I close off this post, I want to post links to some Kickstarters that are going to end before the week is up.  And a few that will only have a day or two after that week, thus not having much time left to benefit from a post.

Two documentaries, one about Helen Keller, and one about a student protest a few years ago against their university deciding to permit concealed carry on campus.

A graphic novel that’s calling itself a “visual novel with no choices and in print!”  The campaign page is a bit lacking in a proper summary, but the “demo” is very entertaining, and I think if the book itself maintains that level of quality, then it’s going to be a fun read.  (All I can tell for sure is that it involves a college student, his boyfriend, time travel, and possibly some magical girl parody elements?)  Honestly, even though I’m not 100% sure what’s in it, I know I want to read it.

And one visual novel, that’s very hard to describe, but really amazing.  (There’s a demo posted, which will give you an idea of how amazing this game should be!)  It’s a bit dystopian cyberpunk, a bit urban fantasy, and the final game will have sexual content featuring a body positive, diverse lesbian cast.

April A-to-Z Reflections

Published May 7, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I think the big take-away from this turn through April A-to-Z is that I need to stop setting such ambitious themes.  It’s really hard to keep up with something like this, especially when I’m trying to draw from so many different cultures, most of which I don’t know all that much about.  My first A-to-Z was really easy for me, because it was purely Greek myth, but the second year’s was horribly stressful, and this one started getting pretty rough by the end, too.  So next year, I’m going to do something where I have a book on hand to consult.  I came across three books in the course of the online research for this year’s (one on goddesses from across the world, one a bestiary of ancient Chinese lore, and one on a handful of French dragon tales) that I plan to buy, so I’ll probably base it around one of those.  (Well, not the third one; as it only features a handful, it wouldn’t be anywhere near enough!)

Next year, I hope I will also remember to fill in the daily link lists after April actually starts:  I did links for the ones I had written before April started, and then didn’t remember to put the rest in until “W” had gone up, but it doesn’t let you add to the list after the fact, so anyone using the daily link lists later on to go through the posts will think I stopped after “F”!

I also realized that I left out some important information from the posts themselves.  Since all my posts featured art from games of the Megami Tensei series, I should have credited the artist responsible for all those wonderful monster designs, Kazuma Kaneko, whose work I usually love.  (There are the occasional exceptions…)  A few character portraits showed up, too, and those are by other artists, but…the bulk of the game art I showed is Kaneko’s work.

I also never gave anyone any good glimpses into the world of MegaTen as a whole.  (Which, admittedly, was not the point.)  I probably wouldn’t mention that if I hadn’t come across a YouTube video that would have been the perfect thing to post a link to from my theme reveal.  (Too bad I only found it half-way through the month!)  It’s a video compiling video footage from the first 30 years of the MegaTen series, from its start on the NES with the original Megami Tensei in 1987 through to 2017’s (Japenese) releases/announced releases:  a cell phone game (unclear if it’ll come over, but it looks awesome), next month’s remake of Shin Megami Tensei:  Strange Journey, and Shin Megami Tensei V on the Nintendo Switch (I already wanted to get a Switch, but now it’s a necessity!), which has been announced for Western release, but without a release date (as of the last time I checked, about two weeks ago).  The video can be found here, but of course keep in mind that it’s entirely in Japanese, and a lot of the games covered in it have never been made (officially) available in English.  The ones in the video that are available in English include: SNES Shin Megami Tensei (which got a now-defunct-until-it’s-updated-for-iOS10 iOS port) from 1992 is at about 1:20, the original Persona from 1996 at 6:50, and at 7:50 we get to the original version of Devil Summoner:  Soul Hackers (which got a 3DS port a few years ago that was translated), and from that point on, a lot of them (though not all) are available in English.  (And it would be rather tedious to go through and list them all…plus watching that footage makes me want to replay them all, and I don’t have that kind of time on my hands!  (Especially not with how many games I’ve bought that I haven’t played at all yet.)  If there’s one post-Soul Hackers that you’re curious about, you can ask me what it is, as I can probably identify it, even if it’s not available in English.)

Okay, so all that being said, let’s recap the month!  Especially looking at how well (or poorly) I did in mixing it up in terms of the cultural origins of the beings each post covered:

  1. Abraxas:  Gnosticism (Europe 1)
  2. Baldr:  Norse (Europe 2)
  3. Chernobog:  Slavic (Europe 3)
  4. Dzelarhons:  Haida (Native American 1)
  5. Erlkonig:  German (Europe 4)
  6. Fuxi:  China (Asia 1)
  7. Girimehkala:  Sri Lanka (Hindu 1)
  8. Hanuman:  India (Hindu 2)
  9. Inti:  Inca (Native American 2)
  10. Jahi:  Zoroastrian (Middle East 1)
  11. Kijimuna/Koropokkuru:  Okinawa/Ainu (Asia 2)
  12. Lugh:  Irish (Europe 5)
  13. Mothman:  American (um…American 1?)
  14. Nyarlahotep:  Cthulu mythos (um…fictional 1?)
  15. Ogoun:  Vodoun (uh…African-fusion 1?)
  16. Python:  Greek (Europe 6)
  17. Quetzalcoatl:  Aztec (Native American 3)
  18. Rangda:  Bali (Hindu 3)
  19. Shiisaa:  Okinawa/Japan/China (Asia 3)
  20. Tzitzimitl:  Aztec (Native American 4)
  21. Ukobach:  Enlightenment-era demonology texts (Europe 7)
  22. Vouivre:  France  (Europe 8)
  23. Wendigo:  Ojibwe/Algonquin/Cree (Native American 5)
  24. Xi Wangmu:  China (Asia 4)
  25. Yurlungur:  Aborigine (Australia 1)
  26. Zaccoum:  Islamic (Middle East 2)

And the big thing I see here is that Europe got waaaay too much representation.  Other things I see can’t really be helped.  For example, Africa was pretty much absent, aside from the vodoun god who is a version of an African god, but there are very few African figures in the MegaTen games, except for Egyptian gods.  (Speaking of which, I’m somewhat astonished that I didn’t use any of them!  I guess they felt boring to me because they’re much more common than some of these…?)  If I’d been actively trying to cover everywhere as evenly as I could, it would be a badly skewed list, but for mainly just picking by whatever I fancied in the letters, I think I managed to spread things out pretty well.

So…let’s see…anything else I should say here?

I guess I should probably answer the (unasked) question of what MegaTen games the uninitiated might want to play, and/or what’s the best introductory game.  The one problem with MegaTen games is that (like most Atlus RPGs, really), they’re produced in very small quantities.  So if a game isn’t really new, and you want a physical copy, you’re probably out of luck.  However, these days games are made available digitally pretty much as long as the console is still supported online by the manufacturer, so most of the ones that were officially translated into English are probably available for digital purchase.  (As to unofficial translations, those are both free and illegal, so I won’t go into that.)  Some of the PS2 titles may not have been added to the Playstation Store, though.  (I know the Persona and Digital Devil Saga games are available, but I’m not sure about the others.  I’ve never really looked into the PS2 titles available on the Playstation Store, because I already had physical copies of pretty much everything on the platform that I wanted.)

The main thing to consider in looking at the MegaTen games is whether they’re main line or sub-series games.  The main games tend to be lighter in plot (though not always), lacking well-defined player characters, more heavy-handed in theme, and to have multiple endings.  My general rule is to try to enter a series as early as possible (which is why my first Final Fantasy was V, because that was the oldest one available to me at the time), so unless you happen to have an iPad/iPhone still running iOS9 (or you want a fan translation), that would be Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne (which is a slight revamping of Shin Megami Tensei III, with an extra dungeon, and the extra character of Dante in his Devil May Cry 2 outfit) which is an absolutely awesome game and made me completely fall in love with the series.  However, if you want something a little lighter, you should probably look to the Persona series, which is really two series if you ask me:  the three games on the original Playstation, and the new ones starting with Persona 3.  The PS1 games are very dated to their era (even in the PSP remakes), but still good, solid games.  Persona 3 was very popular (and is quite good), Persona 4 was even more popular (and is way better), and Persona 5 is apparently one of the greatest things since sliced bread, from how everyone else is reacting to it.  (It’s killing me that I still can’t play it!)  The Digital Devil Saga duology is…uh…the first game was brilliant, and the second game was…not.  The same thing can exactly be said for the two Devil Summoner Raido Kuzunoha games.  The Devil Survivor games are a surprising mix:  they’re as full of characters and plot as any of the other non-main games, but they’re just as heavy-handed as the main games (especially the first Devil Survivor), and they have even more endings than the main games.  They’re good games, but the first one is not recommended for those who are deeply religious and take offense easily where religion is concerned.  (The same must be said for the main series, I should add!)  I do not recommend starting with Strange Journey Redux.  Not unless it’s way better than the original one was.  (Highly unlikely.)  I’m excited to see its release next month, but I didn’t actually love the original (or even really like it all that much).  Except for its soundtrack.  That was amazingly cool, and very different from the soundtracks of the other games in the series.

Hmm.

I feel like I’m still not saying something I should be.

Oh!  This is probably not what I was forgetting, but I should mention this, since I’m doing all this talking about MegaTen.  One of the creators of the Megami Tensei franchise, and one of the composers, are working on a visual novel that’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.  (As of the first of the month, they were almost at 70% funded.)  It seems to be a dark, fairy tale-inspired game, with a very different visual style than the MegaTen games.  If that sounds like it might be interesting to you, please check it out.

Sorry about yesterday

Published February 6, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m sorry I totally dropped the ball and didn’t do a “Missing Letter Monday.”  (I really need to start getting those up in advance again…)  I’ll just pick up again next week.  I’d like to briefly explain what happened, but in the interest of laziness, I shall copy-and-paste the explanation I just posted on my other blog:

It starts out, of course, that it is that time of month, and a particularly bad one.  So, I’m a bit more hormonal than usual.  And when I was at the bookstore yesterday, I happened to find a new volume of one of my favorite manga, which I decided to read in the bath…and on the last two pages of the volume, it looked like my favorite character got shot in the face.  (Such violence is not super-common in that manga, but not as uncommon as I’d like.  However, the victim has never been such a long-standing character before; normally, if a good guy is killed, it’s someone who’s only just been set up in that arc.)  For the first time ever, I went to the publisher’s website and followed their links to buy a single chapter of the next volume (they publish them online now within days of their release in Japan, but at $2 a chapter for digital only, that more than a little sucks) because no way was I going to wait goodness only knows how long to find out if the author was just screwing with us and he was fine, or if it was a horrible, horrible, evil thing and he’d been killed.  It turned out to be a little of both:  he wasn’t killed, but over the process of that chapter his closest friend (my second favorite character) was brutally slaughtered, giving up his own life to protect him.  After I finished sobbing like a little child, I called my brother and went over to his place for pizza and light, funny stuff to distract me.  On getting back, I wasn’t in the right state of mind to try and communicate like a human being, so I forwent my Monday features on both blogs.

was going to follow that explanation up with more a more detailed reaction to Persuasion, or to get going on my next review (though I still haven’t finished the book) only I don’t really have enough time before I have to leave to get lunch before the movie (tryin’ to make the most of my weekend, here!) so I’ll just post this as-is and do another post for those things.  (Or just edit the Persuasion post when I have a chance.)

Calling any “Revolutionary Girl Utena” Fans!

Published January 12, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Reblogging from my other blog, in case there are some anime fans seeing this blog that don’t see the other one. Because I spam like that.

Crazy Doll Lady

Desperate help is needed from fellow Utena fans!

There’s a Kickstarter going on right now for some really awesome enamel pins.  I’m not asking anyone to back them, though.  (Although if you like enamel pins and anime, you probably don’t want to miss these!)

From Kickstarter campaign. Click for link.

The pins are already fully funded, and they’ve unlocked the four designs shown above (in silhouette and skintone versions), which is all the campaign originally had planned.  So now there’s a vote for what the fifth and final design will be.

And this is where everyone else comes in.  The update with the poll is actually for backers only, so I can’t send you to it, which is a bit awkward.  I’ll just pass on the links contained within it, then.  The artist’s also polling on Instagram and Facebook, where I can’t vote, as I don’t have accounts with…

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I’m back

Published December 1, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So, NaNo is over.  (I’ll post the details on Wednesday.)

The only thing this bodes for sure is the return of Missing Letter Mondays (hopefully with new content, but I don’t want to make promises) but I would like it if I could somehow get back in the swing of blogging again.  (Though, as I said, I’d rather not make promises than make ’em and break ’em.)

MLM No “U” – Ack

Published October 23, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

I need to be reading instead of writing posts — or anything else, for that matter.

I’m reading Xenophon’s “On Tyranny” right now.

Like with everything else, Xenophon spoils the party.

Think ya know how the Ancient Greeks felt regarding same-sex love?  The ideal that was Patroclos and Achilles, all that?

Along comes Xenophon, with his near-homophobic views, insisting that they were only friends, and that proper men never do more than like other men.

Think ya know how the Athenians felt re: Sparta?

Don’t read Xenophon, then. (Spoiler:  he didn’t feel the same way.)

And now he’s got a tyrant — a real, historical tyrant of Syrac– a place I can’t say today — saying how terrible life is for tyrants and generally acting like a Platonic ideal character.

Will ya stop it, Xenophon?!

Please?

Yer totally spoiling my research here.

Honest.

I’m gonna hafta totally retool my whole thesis for the semester if ya keep the same tone for the whole dialog.

Please don’t make me do that, man.

Pretty please?

I’m too far behind on this project as it is.  I can’t stand the idea of having to retool now…


 

A Kickstarter Campaign in need of assistance

Published August 16, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Unlike on my dolly blog, I have so far left this blog free of “hey, please help out this Kickstarter I’m backing,” because, well, a lot of reasons.  (Mostly because it’s easier to gauge the tastes of readers of a doll blog than of a…uh…whatever kind of blog this has become.)  However, that’s changing now, because I want to do all I can to help this Kickstarter campaign, and since I can’t afford to fund the whole thing myself, and I don’t use any of the more typical social media, all I can do is to plug it here.

The campaign is to fund the fifth year of a digital magazine called Sparkler, which features a variety of types of content, inspired by Japan’s mega-sized manga magazines, of which the most famous in the West is probably Shonen Jump.  The campaign describes its goal thusly:

Twelve more issues of women-oriented, LGBT+ friendly webcomics, light novels, and audio dramas in our digital magazine!

And that seems to sum it up pretty well.  (Of course it does.  Why else would they have picked it as their campaign header line?)

I’d never heard of Sparkler until I came across this campaign, but judging by the free download sampler of first chapters, it’s completely freakin’ awesome.  I ended up making a pretty hefty pledge in order to get all the back issues so I can catch up.  (Which will likely take absolutely forever, but…hey, it’s always good to have extra reading material, yeah?)  Of course, that means there’s not a lot of extra material I can add on to my pledge to help out further.

Anyway, despite that it’s aimed at women, I think a lot of this content would also interest men.  (Just as there are a lot of Shonen Jump properties that also have female fans.)  The genres run a complete gamut, from slice of life comedy to magical girl (and magical boy) to sci-fi to horror to fantasy adventure to revenge story to romance…and I probably left a lot of the genres out.  And the romance covers all the main bases:  straight, f/f and m/m.  (I don’t think it covers trans, but that’s about it.  But there are also a couple of Kickstarters for trans-focused comics going on right now.)

Please check out their campaign page, okay?  And/or send word of it to any friends/relatives/acquaintances/co-workers/total-strangers you’ve got who might be interested.  They have a long way to go and a short time in which to get there.

Sample Sparkler issue cover.

Sample issue cover. Image source Kickstarter. Click for link.

I may be a Doppelganger.

Published June 21, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m serious about this.

You know the legend of the Doppelgänger, right?  A mysterious double of you, and when you meet it, you die.  But what happens to the Doppelgänger after the original human dies?

I’m concerned about this, because I think I’m the duplicate, not the original.

Let me back up a minute, here.   For years, I’ve said I have a Doppelgänger around here somewhere, because I’ve often been mistaken for someone else, particularly in stores.  One time I went into a hardware store with my brother, and a salesman came up asking how the fridge he sold me had worked out.  I told him I’d never bought a fridge from him, and he insisted that I had, a mini-fridge for the teacher’s lounge at a local high school.  I assured him he was mistaken, but my brother and I were both freaked out by it, because it was the high school my brother had attended.

Now, that was years ago.

And since I started wearing braids in my hair, the incidences of people mistaking her for me began to taper off.

Then I went swimming on Monday at the Y.  It was an unusual time for me to be there, and I was stupidly trying to swim laps in the open swim lane (forgot there was one of those at the time) and this guy who was just hanging out in the open lane suddenly started talking to me as if to an acquaintance, and while I was standing there being confused, he said “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Well, I honestly answered that without my glasses on, I couldn’t see a thing.  I literally wouldn’t have recognized him even if I did know him.  (Seriously, all I saw was a human-shaped blob.)  And since he hadn’t made it clear where he thought he knew me from, there was always the possibility I’d taken a class with him, y’know?

But no, he thought I was the person who had taught him how to swim.  I barely even remember how to do the various strokes anymore (I keep meaning to take some refresher lessons), and I certainly never taught them to anyone else.  After explaining that I wasn’t who he thought I was, I did comment that I have a Doppelgänger around here, and how people are always mistaking me for her.

And in laughing about that…he mentioned her name.

And it’s the same as mine.

She and I not only have the same face, but we also have the same first name.

Admittedly, I just looked it up, and my name was pretty popular all through the ’70s.  (In the Top 30 most years.)  So it’s not at all weird that there are other women about my age with my name.  But for them to also have my face?  And considering I’ve sometimes talked to these people at some length without them realizing their mistake, she must also have a voice very similar to mine.

Therefore, one of us must be a Doppelgänger of the other.

And she’s a teacher, someone who touches a lot of lives.  (Though it sounds like she’s no longer at my brother’s alma mater.)  Meanwhile, I’m a near-hermit who avoids other people like the plague.  So if one of us isn’t real, it’s obviously me.

But if I just met someone at the Y who learned to swim from her, then she might be a member at the same Y.  And even if she isn’t, the encounter being so extended surely indicates that she and I are getting close to meeting.

So what’s going to happen to me after I fulfill my purpose as a Doppelgänger and my appearance before her eyes heralds her end?  Am I just going to wink out of existence?

And am I supposed to be okay with that?  The idea that it’s okay I’ll be causing her death, ’cause I’ll cause my own at the same time in a supernaturally imposed death penalty?

Because I am totally not.

I don’t want to disappear, and I sure don’t want to cause anyone else’s death, either.

But if I’m a Doppelgänger, do I even have a choice?

I’m seriously freaked out about this.

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