May 2023 Wrapup

May’s over! We got there, everybody. That’s one more May in the books that won’t be hurting anybody any more. Just eleven more months before you see millenials busting out the Justin Timberlake memes again. It did bring an annual tradition of finding time to make at least one article making fun of Star Wars to run on May the 4th.

On the Game Pile, I decided to talk about some stuff I really liked, just plain and simple, things I liked, this month:

  • Lunark, a kickstarter step-platformer about playing furries who steal the moon, not joking
  • Flamecraft, a kickstarter board game about helping cute dragons find the best way to help people with their day
  • Tide Breaker, a TTRPG about cinematic pulp adventure that doesn’t rely on the centering of whiteness
  • The release of the Magic: the Gathering set Scourge, which marks my 20 year anniversary of playing Magic: The Gathering, meaning I have now been playing as long as the average player has been alive

The Story Pile meanwhile brings

  • The Owl House Finale, where a really good show got a really good send-off. I wish people could talk about the episodes for what they show and how good it is.
  • My Hero Academia, Season 4 and 5, which is where the multinational juggernaut of the largest superhero franchise not owned by Disney kinda just puttered around and made a few decent episodes of an extremely mid show
  • The Johnny Series, where Fox and I talked about the trilogy of books by Terry Pratchett that don’t have anything to do with the Discworld. No really!
  • 15 Minutes, a movie about ooo, what if people have cameras all the time, why they’d record crimes and the police would be powerless to stop them woooo and the courts would be on their siiiide

Good articles

As for other articles, I’ve done a bunch of stuff on worldbuilding. There were three articles about the spooky province of the Szudetken (1, 2, 3), and their seven six kingdoms on the far side of a propaganda veil. I wrote also about the Cow People of Kyranou, who are in fact, not cow people. I asked about the importance of droids as slaves in Star Wars. I wrote about how in One Stone, there’s magic but it relates heavily to the nature of things you can do with goo. I also wrote about magic systems that unconsciously or consciously encourage eugenics when you can have a Person of Mass Destruction.

This month I tried a sticker design rather than a T-shirt. The idea was to try and invoke a presidential campaign sticker, the kind that get left on a car well after they matter, because who cares about taking them off? The reference is the two protagonists of major anime franchises in the west in 2006, who were both named Haruhi: Haruhi Suzumiya of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Haruhi Fujioka of Ouran High School Host Club.

This is the kind of thing I find a funny joke for myself, and I don’t imagine anyone else will ever be interested in. I think I did a good job getting the aesthetic of a political bumper sticker down, with the firm font and the spacing designed to equalise the two differently-lengthed names. Also, the rose and SOS club symbols were originally reduced from screencaps, traced over for most of the shapes, then upscaled by one of them online upscaling programs that calls itself ‘AI’ and I think is probably just throwing the processes from someone else’s computer at it.

It’s the end of the semester for one of my classes, and one has only a few days left. It’s a tough one to handle because one of those two classes featured a body of students who I’ve been teaching for three to four years finish their degrees and recognise that this was not only their last class for the semester, but their last class. This meant there was an afternoon session of them sitting down and reflecting with me both on their upcoming project, but on what it’s been like to be my student since the Uni first started doing remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of them talked about how she hadn’t encountered a teacher taking executive dysfunction seriously. I know I spoke pretty frankly to those 2020 classes about the importance of respecting your own limits at that point in time — about how forcing yourself to work when you couldn’t was going to make worse work than doing it later. This got her started on some stuff, and we wound up at a conversation about how neurotypicality is kinda a very small, agreed upon box and it’s useful to have the tools to know how you relate to that box.

I’m really going to miss these students. I liked teaching them. But that’s a gift too. I get to remember them and I get to miss them. I don’t have to follow them on their fretting about getting a job or the next stage now they have a degree or how their final exams work out. I just need to mark their work and remember them. Hopefully I’ll find out one day that a student I taught did something amazing. That’d be neat. I’m confident they’ll all do something good, just don’t know what form that takes.

It’s weird to have this memory sticking out for me because really, the defining feeling I have at this point in the month, right now, is failure. Failure at keeping on top of things, failure at doing things the right way, failure at doing things for the right reason. Every day is a long ongoing quest to argue against a voice that for the past few years has been telling me I’m not good enough and let me tell you this month that voice has been winning.