Sunday, May 17, 2015

You Asked For It!

Pop open the bubbly... Kiblitzing is the winner of the prestigious Liebster Awards! And my prize is... a lengthy questionnaire! Uh, okay. I would have preferred a gold trophy with angels on the top, but this works too. Here now are the answers to eleven questions, along with eleven random facts about myself.

1. Can you tell something typical about the country state you live in?

I'm going to have to agree with Ochalla about my country being too broad a topic for discussion. It's America, land of hamburgers and the people who've gotten fat from eating too many of them. What else do you need to know?

Tucson: Where the skies are partially
cloudy all day.

I'd rather talk about my experiences in Arizona, since I moved here back in November. That was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but I kind of like it here, and may not return to my home state of Michigan. I'm NOT a fan of hot weather, and may come to regret my decision in the summer, but I'm hoping I can tough it out until fall arrives.

Arizona is... an interesting state. Maybe not the most progressive place, but there are pockets of hippies spread throughout, particularly in the tiny border town of Patagonia. I'm fascinated by the wide variety of businesses in Tucson (Bookman's, a used entertainment shop, is a particular favorite) and the desert wildlife throughout the state. There are crows the size of chickens, and raccoons with prehensile tails, and scorpions that fling douche at you when threatened, and hot pink snakes that are at least eight feet long. Forget a different country... sometimes this place feels like another planet!

2. Why did you take up blogging?

I've had a keen interest in journalism since I was in high school. My first "blog" was the school newspaper, which I pretty much monopolized since everyone else in the class was too busy having a social life. I remember raising the ire of the principle for spending so much time talking about video games and antagonizing the school bully.

I'm not exactly proud of the early stuff I'd written... it was undisciplined, self-indulgent, and full of jokes that probably only made sense to myself. I started turning things around in 1995, about the time I took a creative writing course in community college. I can actually go back to the issues of The Gameroom Blitz that I'd written from 1996 to 2000 and not cringe at the writing! 

Oh yes, I forgot about that! Before the internet, I published a handful of video game newsletters, or "fanzines" for you hipsters. I'd also written articles for dozens of others, although as I mentioned before, a lot of the dreck I was writing in the early half of the 1990s would have killed your parakeet if you'd used it to line his cage.

Anyway, fast-forward to 2012. I just ended my web site, also called The Gameroom Blitz, and wanted a non-committal way to write about video games, something I could use whenever the mood struck me. And that segues nicely into the next question!

3. Do you set yourself a goal of number of blogs per week or month?

I didn't at first! Kiblitzing was originally designed as an outlet for random gaming observations, and thus was only updated once a month, maybe less. However, after I got out of the hospital in late 2013, I started reading blogs by writers with greater ambitions. The Gay Gamer, VGJunk, Obscure Video Games... they were all publishing articles on a daily basis. I felt that I could do a lot better than I had been, and started to update once, even twice a week.

There's a danger in publishing daily, because the blog turns into an morbid obligation and you start writing crap just to meet self-imposed deadlines. I never had any great aspirations for Kiblitzing, but at the same time I wanted to make sure the handful of people who read this like what they see and would want to come back for more. It's a tough balancing act.

4. Where do you get your inspiration to write?

When I was a kid, I wrote all the time, whether people wanted to read it or not. I'm no longer as passionate about writing as I used to be, but I still get the itch to pen an article when I find something that grabs my attention. I'm very stimulus/response; if something provokes me, you'd better believe I'm going to have something to say about it. Generally speaking, my most spirited articles are pearls that form after something irritating gets under my shell. Er, skin. Okay, I'm mixing metaphors like a high-speed blender now, so I'd better jump to the next question!

5. Do you own more then one gaming device, and which ones?

Another victim of my mad experiments.
"Do you own more than one gaming device," they ask! I have dozens! Hell, I bought three GameCubes just because they were cheap. (I think I might have a problem.) I've got systems that span the entirety of video game history, from the Atari 2600 to my most recent acquisitions, the Wii U and Playstation Vita. I often have multiples of the older ones, although they're not always in the greatest condition, either because they were like that when I bought them or because I performed surgery on them in the hopes of improving their performance. (That poor, poor Coleco Gemini...)

Right now, three thousand miles separate me from the bulk of my collection, but I've got my trusty PSP, a Vita, three Game Boy Advances, a 3DS XL, a Wii U, and an orphaned GameCube right here in the Arid Zone. And oh yeah, a pretty spiffy gaming desktop built from spare parts, which never gets the attention it deserves.

6. What are your favorite kind of games?

I'm partial to versus fighters, like Street Fighter and my personal favorite Darkstalkers. I even like the crappier ones, because they're often entertaining in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 kind of way. I recently re-discovered a Game Boy Advance fighter called Dual Blades that tries so hard to be something special, but winds up being memorable for all the wrong reasons. I'll have to write about that one someday...

I also dig the old-school arcade classics, and am starting to warm up to role-playing games. I'm unbelievably terrible at the first-person shooters all the kids are playing, and greatly prefer something that lets me contemplate my next move, rather than getting blown apart by some teenager I didn't see until he starts teabagging my corpse.

7. What are your three favorite movies?

May she rust in peace.
(image from Pinterest)
I'm not really big on the movie experience, you know? All that sitting without doing anything works the nerves of someone with a short attention span. Having said that, I think Blade Runner is probably the best film I've ever seen. It's one of those special effects-heavy movies that's aged gracefully in the thirty plus years since its release. I also like Spaceballs more than is probably rational. It's not even Mel Brooks' best comedy, but I like that it pokes holes in the bloated Star Wars franchise, and the character designs are a hoot. Pizza the Hutt? C3P-O as Joan Rivers? A weenie Darth Vader? Come on, that's brilliant!

I guess my last choice would be an animated movie, since I do loves me some cartoons, but I can't honestly pick just one. The Great Mouse Detective is pretty underrated, and it's got Vincent Price in it, so let's go with that.

8. What is your go-to music when you feel sad?

Wow, that's a heavy question. I dunno, I find myself listening to Phideaux when I'm depressed, although it's unbelievably bleak music that only increases my sadness. Tarkus by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer is a good one when I'm frustrated with life and want to lash out at society without ending up in prison afterward. At the Harbor by Renaissance and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot are also good for when you want to wallow in your own despair.

Just some advice... if you're seriously down, don't listen to Losing It by Rush. It's probably the most depressing, hopeless song I've ever heard in my life. If you're in a good mood after you hear it, you won't be afterward. If you're in a bad mood, it will break you.

9. Does your work or study match your blogging topics?

I'm unemployed right now, but yes, I used to be a freelance writer for the late lamented 1UP, so that would be a match. I also have a bachelor's degree in English Lit, but all that's gotten me is a whole lot of debt.

10. If you have a partner, is he or she into gaming?

Heh! Partner. Half the time I have trouble just forcing myself out of the house. I don't really do the romance bit, sorry.

11. What kind of pet do you have?

At the moment, a pair of cockatiels. The male is loud and aggressive, while the female is timid, which is pretty much par for the course for this species. I have a cat back in Michigan, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the feline that crawled all over a news reporter in that online meme.

Eleven facts

The best part of the Odyssey2 were
the crazy cool drawings on the box,
straight out of a dime-store
science-fiction novel.
1. My first video game system was an Odyssey2, a rather inauspicious start to my gaming career. Nearly everyone I knew had one when I was a kid, so I guess they were either really cheap or Magnavox had some seriously slick salesmen at its stores. The Odyssey2 was wimpy even in 1982, with pared down specs and a built-in graphics set. What that meant is that games were abstracted to fit into the machine's whopping 64 bytes of RAM and always, always, always featured square-headed robots as the stars. Even Pachinko! had these blocky droids, poking at balls with pool skimmers. What Pachinko on the Odyssey2 had to do with the Japanese parlor game is anyone's guess.

2. I've grown weary of dreary, depressing "hardcore" games. You see a lot of them on Playstation systems in particular... the Vita alone is home to Soul Sacrifice Delta, where you hang from a dirty cage, reading up on your wizardry to keep from being devoured by a power-mad sorceror, and Freedom Wars, where the title character lives in a futuristic craphole best described as 22nd century North Korea and gets charged with such crimes as amnesia and excessive walking. Nuts to this! Video games are supposed to be escapist fantasy... why the hell would I want to escape to a world worse than this one? When people grumble about Nintendo being too "kiddie" for its own good, I want to drop a cement block on their toes.

3. I'm of the furry persuasion. I suppose I've mentioned this before, but it, heh, bears repeating. My fursona is Clyde Clawmoore, who is essentially me as a sloth bear. He makes a good soapbox for my complaints on Miiverse, of which there are many. Another character I've been known to draw is Byron J. Lennox, a brown bear toddler who used to be the mascot of my fanzines and web site. Byron's existed in some form since 1992, but he sees very little action here on Kiblitzing. I find Clyde better suited to expressing my frustrated gaming rants.

4. I'm not sure why people would share their fears with the rest of the world... it would be like Superman giving Lex Luthor a shiny pair of Kryptonite cufflinks. However, I'm not known for my good judgment, so here goes! Some folks hate spiders or snakes, but I understand the utility of both, and try not to hurt them unless I feel actively threatened. However, show me a house centipede and I will freak the hell out. These things are HORRIBLE. All those spindly, hair-like legs... anything with that many legs has no business existing. I also hate loud, sudden noises and television logos from the 1970s. You remember that big blue V rushing the screen? I know it can't literally escape the television set, but I'm always tempted to defend myself by throwing a shoe at it.

5. If there's one thing that defines this generation of gaming, I'd say social media was it. Thanks to YouTube, everyone's in a mad rush to record their game footage, and both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 have a button on their controllers that lets you do just that. However, my favorite social media app is Miiverse, which lets you take snapshots of a game in progress and comment on them, either with text or simple drawings. You can even draw full color images with the optional Art Academy software, and you'd be stunned by what people can do with it. Hell, even the monochrome sketches in Miiverse can be pretty impressive.

6. One of my favorite game systems is the Game Boy Advance. I just love it like the dickens, you don't even know. I've currently got one Game Boy Micro, and... (counts on fingers) four Game Boy Advance SPs, including two of the old AGS-001 models and two of the models with the improved backlight. I also have two Game Boy Players, but only one boot disc. (Ugh.) People complain that the bulk of the Game Boy Advance library is largely comprised of Super NES retreads, but since I grew up with a Sega Genesis, that doesn't bother me at all. These games are like a new experience to me, and really, who could complain about having Super Mario World with them wherever they go?

7. I'm horribly scatterbrained, and I always have been. Teachers frequently complained that I was a daydreamer, and years later, my mind still wanders three miles away if a conversation fails to hold my interest. I also have a wafer-thin attention span. It's rare for me to finish a game even if I like it, because I get bored or distracted and forget about it for months on end. I don't know if that's a product of my ASD, but it is what it is.

Go ahead, make fun of his pink shirt.
I dare you!
(image from US Magazine)
8. Normally, I'm indifferent about westerns, but I love Gunsmoke. It's got to be in my top five television shows. The storylines are brilliant, the action is intense, and James Arness is perfect as Matt Dillon; soft-spoken, enigmatic, and hugely capable as a sheriff. It bothers me that he's often used as a Deus Ex Machina, arriving in the last ten minutes to resolve the plot of most episodes, but plot conveniences aside this show is one of the best action series of all time. There's no such thing as a bad episode of Gunsmoke... well, except Arizona Midnight.

9. The aging of family members and my own scrape with the Grim Reaper in 2013 has changed my perspective of death. I think about it more, worry about it more. The passing of my grandparents and my stepfather has made me realize that it just takes one death to completely change the dynamic of a family. I also understand that as I get older, I'll continue to lose people close to me, and once they're gone, you can't get them back. It's a sobering thought, and frankly, it scares me.

10. Modern television blows. I thought maybe the grass was greener on the cable side of the fence, but I watched a week of pay TV when I was in the hospital last year and quickly realized that the grass wasn't greener at all... just more generously fertilized. Specialty networks no longer deliver the content promised in their titles... now Animal Planet is "surprisingly human" and The History Channel "makes history every day," typically with reality show idiots. Even cartoons are awful. I remember waking up in the hospital two years ago, tuning into Cartoon Network, and wondering if Uncle Grandpa was a real show or if I just overdosed on pain meds.

11. When it comes to entrees, nothing refreshes like sushi. I started eating it during my weeaboo days, but even after I grew out of that phase I still find myself going back to it. It doesn't weigh heavily on the palate like Western cuisine often does, and I'm pretty sure it's healthier for you too.

There, how's that?


  1. I'm sure you already know this from some of my replies on Twitter, but I can definitely relate to fact 2. Besides my love for Nintendo games, the reason why I've gone Wii U over Xbone and PS4 is because the only platform that's sure to have games other than realistic M-rated shooters/sandboxes/set pieces on a regular basis.

    Don't get me wrong, there are some M-rated games I do enjoy (Fallout: New Vegas, Skyrim (when focusing on magic), Dark Souls, Just Cause 2, BioShock, and Bayonetta to name a few), but I liked M-rated games a lot more when they were more of an option instead of being the primary thing flooding store shelves. It's like how I might enjoy the occasional graphic novel but that doesn't necessarily mean I want every comic to be as violent and depressing as them. =/

    I can also relate to fact 3., too. I won't go into detail since I tend to draw things of the fetish-y (but primarily softcore) persuasion, so let's just say I enjoy drawing cute animal girls and leave it at that. ^_^;

    1. I didn't know you were furry. We might have to discuss that at length in private... you've got my curiosity piqued.

      I think my "darkness" limit is Batman: The Animated Series and its progeny. Anything over that line is a little much. I tried watching Breaking Bad but it was just a little too depressing to KEEP watching past the first couple of seasons.

  2. Ah, this is great, Jess. Thanks so much for taking the time to type this out and share your thoughts, fears, etc. I relate to a lot of it, unsurprisingly--with a few examples being your love of sushi, Spaceballs and the GBA; your disinterest in "hardcore" games and modern TV; your fear of house centipedes; and your recent introduction to the inevitability and finality of death. I'm really sorry to hear about that last note/admission, by the way, as I "know the feeling" all too well. Losing two grandparents and an uncle, and very, *very* nearly losing my dad (on two occasions) in the last couple of years has shaken me to the core, and I know I'll never be the same as a result. I just hope that at some point I can accept, in some strange way, that death is inevitable both for the people I love as well as for myself. Obviously I'm not quite there yet :)

    1. It's tough to absorb, it really is. Death doesn't seem to factor into your life until your thirties... then it hits you like a cement truck and backs up for good measure. I think I went to four funerals in 2010, including one for my grandmother. Not a fun year.

      I guess the only thing you can do is just make the most of your life and accept that it won't last forever. My condolences about your uncle and grandparents, by the way.