Giving poetry an honest try: Finding my emotional voice

At no point in time have I more regret for not completing college than I do now as I embark on the journey to discover my poetic voice.

The reason I say that is because while I was in college I studied creative writing, news writing, technical writing and basic English classes, among others. But I never got to take that poetry class I coveted from the moment I selected Journalism as my major.

I don’t need to spend any time recounting the events that led to my leaving college before I was ready. Rather I will step aside that and focus on my newfound appreciation for poetry as I begin to find my emotional voice.

Not long ago I asked an online group for advice on how to write poetry. I received a range of answers ranging from the very helpful to the obvious. Still the one piece of advice every poet had that stood out was writing from the heart.

Until recently my heart was filled with hate, anxiety and anger. These are not emotions that serve the kind of poetic voice I was hoping to develop. I wasn’t entirely hopeless, but I was still living a lie as I remained in denial of my true self.

Like so many other aspects of my life that have begun to chance since I started transitioning so too as my outlook on life. I’ve started to feel a broader range of emotions than ever before. Sometimes I sit alone in my house on my couch and cry. I don’t even feel bad and it’s not even a sad crying, just tears.

I have also noticed my moods beginning to shift. This has been something I was warned would happened but nonetheless I failed to realize the true extent to which it would affect me.

I am not say for a second only women have the range of emotions to write good poetry. Far from it. See I was already a hot mess so to speak because my emotions ruled me. But the strongest feelings I had came from my deep rooted self loathing as I refused to accept reality. It took me a while to get past that even once the transition began.

Right now my interest in writing poetry stems from a new found emotion I have never dealt with before. I wrote about it here.

As my range of emotions expands so too does my interest in expressing those emotions. Of course as my heart flutters for the one who ignores me I will concentrate on the feelings that spawn from that agony. But I am absolutely certain there will be other experiences that can ignite the flames of my creativity.

I can say that these newfound feelings are absolutely pumping the creative juices through my brain. As much as the pain that pumps into my heart through my veins that is.

I am fairly certain there will come a time not too far from now where the subject of my attempts at poetry expand beyond the here and now. In fact I am already planning on taking a notepad to some of my favorite peaceful places to see what imagery comes to mind.

Right now my poetry skills are most decidedly best described as amateurish. For the time being I am a student of the craft fumbling around in the dark with no teacher to guide my way. I suspect I might someday bring myself to either purchase a book of poems to get some examples at the very least. There may come a time when I enroll in an actual academic course to fully explore the medium.

Now truth be told it’s not like I am completely blind in this matter with no prior experience. Before I settled into news writing as a career I had lived a life as a musical entertainer. I previously wrote several songs, three full-length CD’s worth in fact. Each song written can be considered a poem of sorts in its own way. That being said even I realize that I was not any good at songwriting.

I can’t pretend that I am going to start writing poetry and suddenly become the world’s greatest poet. Not by a long shot. What I can do, however, is accept the changes in my heart that have opened me to new experiences. This will undoubtedly translate into providing me with new ways to express myself. Hopefully in a manner which is less aggressive than that which I am most well-known. In the meantime, stay cool.

The changing heart beats with the tides of time

I remember my first crush. Her name was Rachel Penn. I was in the first grade. She had strawberry blonde hair and the cutest freckles. Unfortunately I don’t remember much else beyond that as my other memories of her have been lost to time.

You often hear people say it’s better to have loved and lost then never have loved at all. That’s up there was other platitudes like heart knows what the heart wants or even follow your heart. None of those are incredibly helpful. Especially when you’re dealing with a situation involving a person who is undergoing a metamorphosis.

Before I started transitioning I did extensive research and I talked to other people online who went through what I was about to go through. I wanted to know what other people who took this journey experienced. Even though everyone told something different and they all basically said your results will vary , I still find myself being caught off guard by the changes I’m feeling.

I knew once I started hormones I was going to feel things I’ve never felt before. I can honestly say I’ve cried more tears in the four months that I’ve been on estrogen then I have in the 37 years of my life prior to that milestone. I feel things I’ve never felt before some good and some not as good.

I’ve always questioned my gender identity knowing that I never felt comfortable with the stereotypes. But I never really stopped to question my sexuality. When I was 11 years old tell myself I was a girl but I also said I was a lesbian because I was attracted to girls, or so I thought.

I do remember the first time thinking a boy was cute. It was that same first grade class his name was Marvin Wisehopple. At the time he was probably one of my best friends. His parents were friends with my parents. His mom babysat me and my sisters from time to time while my mom babysat him and his sisters also from time to time. I remember the day he came into class wearing glasses and remember being smitten. I quickly buried those feelings. It wouldn’t be until I was a teenager watching boy meets World before I would reconsider my feelings on male to male relationships.

Although I never had any Hang-Ups about lesbians or even bisexual females I still had an aversion to the idea being gay or the very least attracted to boys, perhaps bisexual.

A lot of things have changed since I started taking hormones. Some of them are physical breast development and softening of my skin which I am very appreciative of I’m grateful for.

Something happened the other day that changed everything I’ve ever thought or felt. I found myself considering not only the possibility maybe falling for a guy. But I actually found myself attracted to a specific person, a male friend I would have never considered a potential romantic partner. Well, I now find myself going Beyond curiosity. I find myself going Beyond even considering the possibility. I found myself smack dab in the middle of a crush, an infatuation in other words I began feeling romantic attraction to this person, this man.

If I’m being completely honest it’s not like I haven’t explored certain feelings through shall we say sexual fantasies. There’s a difference between arousal and a romantic attraction. The two are not interchangeable but they’re also not entirely disconnected.

I find myself yet again at a crossroad on a path I cannot follow. A path I cannot Traverse lightly. Because I find myself caught in the middle of wanting to consider the possibility of a romantic relationship with him. But, whatever happens I absolutely do not wish to jeopardize the friendship. Because I’d rather have him in my life as a friend then not at all. I’ve been here before developing very strong feelings for someone who doesn’t return them my way.

Whatever happens I want to tell him how I feel. How much she means to me as a friend. And let him know that I would never do anything to damage the friendship we have. But let him know if he ever decides to risk it seeking something better, closer even more real; I feel like I want to give him the chance to make that decision himself. Tell him how I feel. Let him make up his own mind on how to move forward if at all.

My plans now that the next generation of video game consoles has arrived

There are two new souped  up game consoles just now hitting the market. The oddly-named Xbox Series and the tried-and-true Playstation 5.

I am always one who gets excited whenever a a new console generations starts, but not for the same reasons as most people.

You see I am a thrifty shopper. I am on a tight budget. This has led me to develop a pattern where I don’t buy the latest and  greatest game console while it is still hot and fresh. You see I use a new console launch as an excuse to dig back into the catalog of previous generation consoles as those last-gen games will soon be filling the bargain bins.

It’s not that I don’t love buying a current gen console believe me, I do. But I often resort to a pattern where I give a new console a year, sometimes two, before I jump in. This way there is time for games to come to the system as well as budget titles to start hitting store shelves. During the interim is when I dive head first into the recently discounted last-gen games for the console I already own, while also padding out my retro collection.

Currently I am on what I would call a Playstation kick. I have always owned Nintendo consoles, Sega and Sony. So for me I like a wide variety of games. The thing that gets me most excited is exploring those back logs looking for hidden gems and games the general public may have already forgotten.

I do often try to buy a console while it is still currently being sold in stores and receiving new games, but mostly come in mid-to-late gen more often than not. It is rare that I will have to resort to buying a console after the fact, although it does happen. It is even more rare for me to buy one at launch. In fact I have only done that three total times in my entire life. The first time was a Nintendo DS. I had to play that Super Mario 64 DS remake. I also picked up Tetris DS and Mario Kart DS as soon as they were available. I couldn’t wait for that.

The second time I bought a console at launch was, surprisingly the Nintendo Wii. I had a gut feeling about that one so I stood in line to get it launch day. I was the only one standing in that line but I was still glad I did.

The most recent time I have bought a console at launch was also the first time I ever stood in line to pre-order a console. It was for the massively popular Nintendo Switch.

I do want to get a PS5 at some point in the future. There is a chance this time around, thanks to ya know Microsoft buying a certain game studio recently, I may pick up an Xbox console at some point too. But for now I am going to enjoy the massive influx of last gen games about to hit the used market as gamers flock to stores to trade in their old, outdated games to make room for those brand new, shiny next gen games.

For me a new console launch is as thrilling as it is for early adopters, just for an entirely different reason.

Riding the high of my first female right of passage

There are a lot of different experiences I witnessed my sisters and their girlfriends share I was left out of having. Things like slumber parties, dress up, group dancing and pierced ears.

I grew up in the 90s at a time when it was becoming increasingly more acceptable for males to have pierced ears but there were a number of societal rules on how they must be worn. I am not one to conform to societal rules all that much. In fact I consider myself pretty much a rebel by nature. That’s not to say the desire to pierce my ears wasn’t always there. I just never really cared for doing it the way other people expected me to. I was also somewhat turned off by the prospect of pain. I am kind of a sissy if  you want to use an archaic word. This shouldn’t be a shock. I am trans after all.

The experience itself began like any other. I started the day going to town to pay my car payment then I drove over to the dollar store to grab a few necessities. From there I spent some time walking around Target doing some shopping for makeup, clothes and other things to help me fight off my gender dysphoria.

Once I completed my rounds of the feminine side of the store I made my way over to the toy aisle as I often do. This time I failed to find anything I needed in my life so I left the store and went straightway to Claire’s to get my ears pierced.

Now I had previously been warned against going there but due to budgetary reasons I ignored those warnings.

I walked into Claire’s promptly as the clerk opened the door. I went straight to the desk and made my request. I asked to see their starter kits.

After weighing all the options I decided to spend a little bit more to get the black diamond a friend suggested. Then I sat down in the chair waiting for the clerk to punch a hole in my earlobe.

The euphoria I felt immediately upon completion is a feeling I have very little experience with. Before she handed me the bag with my starter kit inside a smile had crept up on my mask-covered face. From there I have basically worn that same smile to this moment right here and probably beyond.

I have only had a handful of moments where a burst of emotions of pure positive energy overwhelmed me. The most notable was the day I was hired for my first job at a broadcast TV station. I think I jumped into the air so high I nearly hit my head on the ceiling. This was a feeling I can’t describe other than pure joy.

It wasn’t just the notion I could finally buy cuter earrings to match my outfits, and mood, more closely than the handful of clip-ons I currently possessed. It was also a shared experience nearly every woman I have ever met has had. It was a moment of true bliss. There was also the benefit of having a permanent solution that would reduce the discomfort those said clip ons caused. I was getting to the point where the pain was becoming unbearable. Yet here I am already five days removed from the hole punch and I still feel practically nothing. They are just there. A reminder that my gender dysphoria is slowly melting away. Being replaced by a feeling of belonging.

I was so excited to show off my new earrings I immediately snapped a photo. It was at that moment I discovered the smile that was plastered on my face wasn’t going away. I drove home giddy as a school girl the entire ride. I don’t want to sound cliche and say oh it was the greatest experience of my life. But it was certainly a moment I will never forget. On top of that I think I might now be capable of putting my previous fear behind me of needles and get me that tattoo I have always wanted, but dreaded getting. Only time will tell if that comes to pass. In the meantime I am going to enjoy trying different types of earrings going forward.

What is it about LaserDisc that keeps dragging me back in?

If you have known me for any length of time you know I love movies. I also love to collect movies. I have them on DVD, Blu Ray, HD-DVD, Beta Max, VHS LaserDisc and so, so many more.

Now I love collecting films on all different formats, hell I even have at least 1 movie on 8mm film. I am not even that particular to be honest, I will buy a movie I never heard of if it looks cool.

So what is it specifically I love so much about LaserDisc?

With tapes, be it VHS or Beta Max there is an overpowering twinge of nostalgia driving me to open my wallet whenever I encounter a seller of tapes. But I don’t have that with LaserDisc. Now truth  be told nostalgia is a huge factor in my obsessive DVD collecting and one of the reasons I in fact shun the obviously superior Blu Ray in favor of buying the vast majority of my film collection on DVD. I started collecting DVD when I was just 19 years old.

But I  have no nostalgia for LaserDisc.

When I look at CED I find the format’s very existence fascinating. So much so I anxiously, rather impatiently I might add, waited for Technology Connections to wrap up his multi part series on the history of CED. It looks like a vinyl record but is actually a movie. It’s weird. I love weird.

Against LaserDisc is just an over-sized DVD. Sure it’s technically analog but it looks like a DVD. It uses the same artwork as a DVD. The outward packaging is similar to a record which does add to the collectible nature of the format. But there has to be more to it than that right? I mean I often hear proponents of LaserDisc brag about the artwork like that alone should justify spending dozens of dollars per film.

No there has to be more.

What about the elusive Super VHS? I have absolutely no nostalgia for that yet I continue to scour the internet listings for any hint of a true Super VHS release or player. I guess in a way you could chalk that up to my working in the broadcast TV industry. The first station I worked at had VHS shaped tapes that were not normal VHS. Now they probably weren’t S-VHS either (and NO the S in S-Video does not stand for S-VHS!) but it still contributed to my fascination with obscure tape formats. I mean TV stations used all kinds of funky dory tape decks. I love that. Even the station where I work now I believe has some Super VHS tapes in the back if I am not mistaken.

But again, Laserdisc is not a broadcast format. It is not recordable nor erasable. So my interest cannot be derived from my career field there.

If we continue down the list we eventually run into HD-DVD. Full disclosure I picked HD-DVD over Blu Ray initially and dug my heals in to the bitter end. Oh well mistakes were made. I have gotten over it you should too.

Hd-DVD is merely an extension of my beloved DVD. It makes sense to me. It was also the format chosen to succeed DVD buy the folks who make DVD. That is until Sony went the old Beta route and messed everything up, as they often do.

We can almost pin it down if we talk about Video CD. Of course we all know the mainstream story of VCD. But there is a lot of misinformation in the truth. I won’t try to set the record straight here, not enough time for that. What I will say is VCD has it’s root in the video game business and the early days of CD-ROM FMV games. The CD-i and 3DO game consoles both had add-ons that allowed them to play Video CD discs, among other forgotten formats I won’t delve into here. This is key. You see VCD is technically digital. It’s official name is Compact Disc Digital Video. It gets confusing from here but there is a one more lesser known format that connects LaserDisc to VCD. It is, not surprisingly but totally confusingly named CD Video. No not digital video. It is a LaserDisc the size of an actual CD, same as a VCD, but it is analog video and will play in your LaserDisc player.

This tidbit is what keeps me so fascinated by LaserDisc. It’s the journey from an over-sized and over-priced alternative to VHS that wasn’t even recordable progressed into a tiny obscure format most people don’t even know about before being turned inside out becoming what we know today as both DVD and Blu Ray in many respects.

The actual truth is what keeps me coming back to LaserDisc is the story behind it. The more I learn about the odd format out the more I want to build up a sizable collecting of the damn things. It just goes back to the more you know about something.

How transitioning has begun to alter my tastes in so many ways

I have spent my entire life holding onto the good parts of my childhood. My best memories like game night at the family dinner table. Or going to the video store to rent a movie for the weekend. I have been quite stubborn in many ways afraid, or even unwilling in some cases, to try new things. 

I watch the same TV shows over, and over. Mostly Boy Meets World, That 70’s Show, Friends and a handful of others. I have a staple crop of about 30 or so movies I re-watch on a consistently regular basis. Gremlins, Lethal Weapons 1 and 2, Star Wars, A Nightmare on Elm Street, American Pie 3, The Faculty are among my annual repeat viewings. I even replay Super Mario World on SNES at least once a month. I am very consistent. 

Naturally many things began to change once I started publicly transitioning. I suspected as much too. I find myself enjoying shoe shopping whereas before I dreaded the activity. As a “boy” shopping for shoes was an annual ordeal. I needed new shoes to replace the pair I wore out. As a girl I took my time and I savored the experiencing hand picking the perfect pair of boots. I only wore then to work 1 week and I already have the desire to hit the shoe sales and grab a few more. At first it was mimicking female behavior I witnessed from other girls I knew. But then walking out of the store with those boots I understood why women love shopping for shoes. It clicked. My desire to return wasn’t driven by learned behavior nor was it a need to experience that thrill of buying my first pair of women’s shoes. No, it was pragmatic. I love my boots but I am sad to say they don’t go with every outfit I intend to wear. Nor are they entirely fit for every activity I might find myself pursuing.

I started experimenting in makeup at first as a way to stave off my dysphoria. The more feminine I can appear the better I feel about myself inside. It was just a few weeks into hormone therapy I discovered the changes to my skin. My pores are noticeably shrinking. It was at that point I found myself taking a trip to the store in need to buy skin care products I would have never contemplated when I was living as a man. Yes, I was living a lie but I hid for so long certain mannerisms became the norm for me. Sitting at home applying those facial products as directed I felt something. 

You often hear men say women are high maintenance. This might be true but I have quickly discovered I find it strangely more fulfilling in some ways sitting down focusing on my appearance and healthy more so than sitting at home eating junk food watching Ghostbusters for the tenth time this year. Even my tastes in music, movies and video games are changing. 

I have read online accounts of transwomen who shared similar stories. Even reading women say their tastes and desires changed I wasn’t fully prepared for how much I would also be stricken by this.  

Today I walked out of the store with a basket full of items I would have never bought before I began transitioning. One item was a DVD copy of Mamma Mia. Now I have always been very unapologetically a fan of Abba so I suspected that day would come eventually. But I didn’t hide it and I wasn’t ashamed. I am going to explore the world with new eyes, new emotions and new feeling as my skin changes too. For now I will savor every new discovery I make as the world is more wondrous and magical than it has been longer than I can remember.


Lament of a lemon lime soda drink destined to be elusive

It all began with a can of Squirt.

I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly how old I was. Maybe somewhere between four to five years old. I was in the car with my dad on the road to one of his favorite destinations, a small town in Kansas called Miltonvale. He used to hang out with this old junk dealer. We stopped at this gas station on the way that had a gas pump out front and a single pop machine. He asked me to pick out a soda. I pressed the yellow button and a can of Squirt popped out of the machine. I drank it and instantly fell in love with that refreshing citrus flavor.

Sometime later we moved to another town called Minneapolis, also in Kansas. There was this old beat up pop machine at the park by the basketball court my sisters and I used to hang out at with our friends.

We discovered early on if you hit it real hard on the side sometimes it would dispense a free soda. Not always but it worked enough we put many dents in the side of the machine trying to get that elusive freebie.

This machine, if I remember correctly, was a Coke machine. It alas did not carry the Squirt my taste buds had grown accustomed. Instead I had to decide between Dr. Pepper, Coke, or Sprite. I opted for Sprite and instantly spit it out. It tasted like that nasty fizz mom gave me when I had a stomachache.

Then a few years of drinking Shasta pop go by and my parents started buying 12 packs of soda to keep in the fridge. As their incomes increased, and likewise our soda budget, they started letting us kids pick our favorite soda. Unfortunately Squirt must have been hard to find so I opted for the next best thing the Pepsi Cola produced citrus drink known as Mountain Dew. It was a far cry from the zesty pizzazz of a delicious Squirt, but it was strangely satisfying in its own way. By this time we were living back in Miltonvale once again. Now I was in 6th grade and my memories become much clearer from this point out.

We still had that same old gas station with the single pump and yes the same old can dispensing pop machine as before but now it was pushing out Pepsi products instead of whichever off brand sold Squirt as before. I distinctly remember thinking I must have imagined Squirt. In my mind I determined it must have been a name change or something like a knock off similar to Mountain Mist. And so my love affair with Squirt ended and I found a new sweetie to douse my taste buds in. The liquid nectar known as Mountain Dew.

I would continue to drink nothing but this green treat from the Heavens well into high school. I drank so much of it in fact my friends used to tease me saying I must bleed green. That was until the day Pepsi released Code Red Mountain Dew which as been, to this day, my sugary beverage of choice for the most part.

Then a few years ago I was in Nebraska and came across a gas station that sold cans of Squirt. I decided to buy one for old times sake and see if it would tickle my senses as before. Sure enough it was as refreshing as my faded memories led me to believe.

On rare occasion I will pass up on a Mountain Dew for that other yellow drink. Of course I left out a key component to the story, why I left Squirt behind in the first place. That’s right Mellow Yellow. In fact if memory serves the reason I bought a Squirt in the first place was because the machine didn’t have Mellow Yellow and I bought what was, at the time in my mind, the next best thing.

I have tried them all. Mountain Dew, Mellow Yellow, Squirt, Fresca and they all get the job done.

In descending order my preference for citrus sodas is Mellow Yellow, Mountain Dew, Squirt and then Fresca. I avoid the Lemon Lime junk at all costs. This is especially frustrating when at a restaurant and they server offers a 7Up or Sprite when I ask for Mountain Dew. It seems to me like Mountain Dew certainly has a corner on the citrus market at least outside the aforementioned lemon lime drinks, which is sad. I wish Squirt, Mellow Yellow and yes even Fresca had a greater presence in the marketplace. That way when I am denied my preferred citrus drink my options aren’t a seltzer determined to provoke my upchuck reflex. I also hate having to settle for a Dr. Pepper or worst of all, a cola.

Why were Nick Toons so special when they kinda blew?

So I’m one of those people that is just old enough to remember when Nickelodeon was coming on the scene. The early days before it got popular back when you can’t do that on television was their big hit. So I was there at the start of the Nicktoons craze in the 90s and like most kids I watch Nicktoons and kept watching until Snick came along but something happened that made me lose interest and it wasn’t getting old.

The first few Nickelodeon cartoons that we classify as Nicktoons were Rugrats, Doug and Aaah! real monsters. A few others came along shortly after namely recess and then later we got Hey Arnold and then the Seminole Nicktoons SpongeBob SquarePants. A lot of people have good nostalgic feelings for these Nicktoons. But why? They’re not very good!

I’m not saying all Nicktoons were bad and I’m not saying that there are inherently evil or unethical or anything weird like that but when you actually watch them most of the time they’re not memorable. My favorite episodes of cartoons that I remember watching whether it is Garfield and Friends or Transformers, Scooby-Doo, X-Men or Batman the Animated Series the thing that stands out in my mind is I can always picture those episodes I can recall every little detail. But that’s not the case with Nicktoons every episode bleeds together in my memories every series.

I know what you’re thinking you have terrible memory. Maybe but I doubt it because I can remember lots of other things but no that’s not it I had fond memories of those cartoons my favorite ones were Rugrats and Doug I love those two shows I ended up like I’m really like real monsters but I didn’t care for anything that came after Hey Arnold I lost interest real fast losing all hope for Nickelodeon as a network when SpongeBob came on the scene.

I’ll start with Rugrats. Rugrats is the iconic one that everyone.

When we were kids we love Rugrats because it was cute you were seeing the Adult World from the perspective of babies written from adults who are pretending to imagine what babies would think of the world. Except they were adults there were a lot of things in there that as an adult you watch it now and you go a baby wouldn’t notice that. Obviously they couldn’t make the show exactly what a baby would think because we don’t know what babies think. But I can’t picture in my mind whole episodes I can remember the one where the cool kid quote unquote. Picks up Tommy and combs his hair. But I can’t remember the rest of the episodes or any specific plots from any of the episodes and that’s the thing I can remember vaguely what the character for like you had the twins who ate bugs you had the redhead who was scared of everything you had the bald kid that was in charge and then how is it the adults were just kind of sort of there in the background. I love the show when it was new I loved it and I have fond memories of it the problem is when you watch it now you realize that it was definitely cater to a young audience whose mental functions weren’t fully developed but also the show yes it’s a cartoon and it’s humorous obviously but I just don’t feel like it holds up anymore and looking at it I think that one of the reasons why people thought it was so groundbreaking at the time was simply because it was on a cable network cater to kids and that’s it it was knew it was original it was something that didn’t exist before and so I think we all got caught up in the newness of the Nicktoons and the whole idea of we can watch cartoons any time we want instead of waiting for Saturday morning I think once the novelty wore off and don’t get me wrong it was a very innovative concept but once the novelty wore off we realize that these weren’t quality shows. They were very low budget and I don’t just mean in the animation I mean in the storytelling and I mean in the the marketing and the presentation everything about them was low-budget again nothing wrong with that but the truth is they were cable channel that didn’t have the vast resources a broadcast network did.

Of course everyone will tell you after the movie came along Rugrats went to hell but I’m going to tell you it pretty much went to shit after the first season. And it didn’t have far to go because like I said it was Innovative and impressive but once you got past the that it wasn’t very quality

This was most obvious when the Nicktoons migrated over to ABC for there Saturday morning block when recess Hey Arnold & Doug stopped being Nickelodeon cartoons and started being Network TV cartoons they were trash in comparison to the stuff we were watching on network TV. They weren’t as good as shows like eek the Cat or X-Men or Scooby-Doo Where Are You or it’s 13th different reiteration That season. The truth is Network TV shows had the budget and we’re giving the care because they had this for our block on Saturdays that they had to sell all the kids on Clump together and every kid was watching the same show so those shows got all the resources when you started spreading us out over multiple networks because Cartoon Network came along and a few others right after all of a sudden it’s harder and harder for the cartoons to find a big audience in the quality goes down and anyone that you talked to everyone I talked to who’s a fan of animated shows say that the Nicktoons were the downfall of Network cartoons but I’d say they were the destruction of animated storytelling all together if it wasn’t for Pixar and Disney doing amazing things in the cinema I’d say animation would have died out outside of video games. And it’s because of Nicktoons.

Most people are quick to point out that when those Nick shows went over to network TV they sucked and a lot of people say oh it’s because they changed networks or it’s because maybe they changed management or whatever but the thing is I think those cartoons always sucked but we didn’t care because we were just happy to be able to watch a cartoon on a Monday afternoon and we didn’t care that it wasn’t a good cartoon it was just something to watch that wasn’t 5 News.

That’s not to say Nickelodeon wasn’t an amazing Network it had some fantastic TV shows absolutely groundbreaking TV shows that I will defend to the day I die but it’s cartoons actually lower the bar to the point that kids didn’t care anymore now works didn’t care any more advertisers didn’t care anymore and so now animation at least quality animation is a lot harder to come by and even when you find it it’s low budget in comparison to what we had before Nickelodeon. I’m not necessarily arguing that the cartoons themselves were pure rubbish what I’m saying is them coming on the scene destroyed pretty much everything that came before it was a disruptive Force that to this day we have not recovered from more than 30 years later.

Even when I look at something like Doug the first thing I say is even for a cartoon there’s no logical consistency you have characters that are humanoid that look like humans that talk and act like humans but then you have characters like mosquito who isn’t human and then you have a sort of anthropomorphic dog but not humanoid who acts like a dog but also acts like a person kind of sort of like Snoopy.

Don’t even get me started on things like that show with the Beavers or cat dog or that other one that I can’t remember its name. Now I’ll throw an Asterix in all of this Ren and Stimpy is probably the best animated show created in the 90s next to Daria. And that’s the kicker MTV was making good quality animation on a low budget that wasn’t dumbed-down for the audience but Nickelodeon was just throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick and they were coloring it with chocolate syrup and rainbow sprinkles so that we would fall for it.

It didn’t become obvious to me that they literally didn’t care about their audience until SpongeBob SquarePants the absolute worst piece of entertainment trash to have ever existed and this article is not sarcasm I’m 100% convinced the SpongeBob is the worst animated series ever.

You’re allowed to like bad things I like bad things The Phantom Menace is one of my favorite movies I tell people that all the damn time I actually liked Return of the Killer Tomatoes I think it’s an entertaining movie but I don’t tell people it’s a good movie and that’s the thing I can say I like GoBots but I know GoBots aren’t good and I can say I like Gremlins 2 even though that’s not a very good movie you can say you like SpongeBob or Rugrats even though they’re not actually quality entertainment that’s fine taste is subjective. But I think these cartoons get a pass because they did something unique and they hooked us on the style judge and that emotional sense of that feel good remember when I was a kid remember this remember what the days were like back then overpowers our ability to actually look at it objectively and say you know what this isn’t very good. It’s the reason why Rugrats died and Doug never got a continuation but stuff like Scooby-Doo and the Transformers get a fresh new take every season. So I don’t really know if anyone who reads this is going to write me death threats or if they’re going to really go back and look at those shows more objectively and I’m not the Nostalgia Critic I’m not one of those YouTube people who criticizes and critiques and analyzes everything and says oh this isn’t good because X Y or Z I’m just telling you I noticed these things and wanted to share them. And basically what I noticed is when you try to rewash these cartoons once you get past the nostalgic you don’t just roll your eyes you kind of well feel ashamed and I don’t feel that when I’m rewatching DuckTales or talespin I watch one of those shows and I feel like that’s good quality cartoon entertainment.

Playground battles round 1: Comics versus video games, FIGHT!

There are certain rivalries that every nerd, geek and gamer engage in for whatever reason. These arguments began as disagreements in grade school on the playground during recess. The most notable ones include Sega or SNES, Transformers or Gobots, Star Wars or Star Trek, Harry Potters or Lord of the Rings, Robocop or Terminator, console or PC, Windows or Mac, Marvel or DC, Freddy or Jason. The list goes on really.

Today I want to dig in and pick a part a playground argument that I’d like to settle once and for all that isn’t from the list above.

No today I want to compare the value, significance, fun factor, entertainment value, collectablility, importance and the merits of comic books against video games.

What prompted this line of inquiry is a podcast episode I recorded when the pandemic was shutting down the world. It had to do with finding the value in comic book characters as intellectual property for their respective parent companies, without the presence of their paper publications in the market. Then I was watching a good old MatPat video on the YouTubes where the uber popular Game Theorist explained why comic book movie adaptations work and video game ones, don’t.

This got me thinking as a fan of both do they absolutely have to intersect or could the world continue with only one over the other.

Let’s see how far this goes.

First up is value.

Video game fans will be quick to point out that for the price of admission ($60 new anywhere from $5 to 500 used) a video game offers tremendous entertainment value per dollar considerably more so than comic books.

Now if you look at monetary value, as in barrier of entry, comics easily beat video games, again on the surface. However, there are exceptions all around that make this decidedly difficult to determine.

For example. A new console plus 1 game is going to set you back, bare minimum, $300 on the low end and considerably higher in most cases. So video games might have more value per dollar over the long term, but comics have a negligible barrier of entry in comparison. Or so it would seam. Sure you can get a digital subscription to comics with access to hundreds, if not thousands, of titles. And you can get physical copies of back issues fairly cheap for the most part. On Average you’re going to pay between 25 cents to 25 dollars per comic for single issues. A far cry from what video games cost.

However here are the exceptions: expensive comics, and discount video games.

I won’t get into downloading mini games on devices you already own that happen to play games, such as streaming boxes, PC’s, tablets or cell phones. Instead I will point out that quit often you can get used consoles for reasonable after market prices, games do go on sale rather quickly after release and if you don’t mind buying last gen stuff used, you can pick up tons of games dirt cheap.

On the flip side you can get good value buying trade paperbacks that collect entire story arcs or story runs saving some money but even that can end up costing money. The real expense though is buying rare comics. What if you buy a run of Amazing Spider-Man, let’s say 40 issues, where the average cost for 38 of those comics is 50 cents. But the two smack in the middle, super important to the story, jump to 150 bucks or more say if a major event or new character is introduced for the first time. All of a sudden you’re shelling out more money for a SINGLE book than you might for a used console and a half dozen or so games. Not much value in that.

Like I said above, on average prices range between a quarter to $25. But they go up rather quickly if the particular issue is highly sought after.

Since you can’t really quantitize the per dollar value of each medium directly let’s call it a wash. A gamer trying to build a collection of fun games to play will get as much mileage out of their dollars as a comic book reader amassing a collection of picture books.

There is another aspect of this I haven’t considered too deep yet. No, not resale value, that’s built into the cost of buying used merchandise. Not subscription services either, I touched on those already. What about where the two mediums intersect?

Suppose you have a comic book fan who loves the characters, and the stories but doesn’t enjoy chasing down single issues, managing subscription services nor seeking out bound collections, but instead spends their comics energy on buying comic book  based video games. Aside from a very small handful of highly notable exceptions, yes exceptions, the rule of thumb is comic books adapted to video games tend to do quite well, similar to how they tend to adapt to film rather easily.

If you are a fan of Batman, Justice League, Spider-Man, Hulk, Spawn, X-Men, Superman and the like, chance are high, extremely so in fact, you can find a quality video game that will deliver loads of fun while representing your favorite character fairly and accurately.

Some examples include Batman on NES, Genesis, N64, GameCube, PS3 and Xbox. You can find some of the best video games of all time starring the Dark Knight himself. And not just the modern take, every version imaginable has been adapted to video games.

What makes playing a video game based on Batman more engaging to a gamer is YOU become the superhero. You are not a passive reader witnessing the story unfold, you are an active participant in the story, the action the drama as it plays out. Again there are some outliers such as Superman 64 for N64, or Aquaman on GameCube, but by and large if a video game is based on a video game property, you can rest assured it will satisfy. This includes ancilliary science fiction and horror properties that might not be comics properties per se but intersect seamlessly, for example Star Wars, Harry Potters or Robocop. Again with few exceptions, the video game is actually going to be well worth your time and more often than not, fairly affordable.

But what if you do this in reverse? Can you get as much enjoyment reading comic books based on video game properties? I’ll save you too much more reading, the short answer is a resounding NO, but more precisely a firm HELL NO.

This is where things are flipped. The exceptions become the rule. While Sonic the Hedgehog has lent himself well to comic books, Mortal Kombat has been treated fair and Street Fighter had a quality, short lived tie in, the rule of thumb is actually horrific. Most comic books based on video games are mere tie ins, cash grabs done to dupe kids shopping for quality comics into spending their money on mass market trash they will find no substance in. While playing a video game based on Batman can bring the pages to life, taking a fully interactive and immersive video game world then trying to flatten it into 2-D, pencil art is laughable at best. At Best.

You see it doesn’t go both ways. Therefore a comics fan can absolutely find plenty of video games to keep their interest and a video game fan can find comics worth reading, it’s not worth it to make a comic based on a video game, for the most part. You lose most of what makes a game so special. Not saying it can’t or isn’t sometimes done. Just saying it’s not usually a good idea.

What about collectibility?

Ah this is where comic collectors push their glasses back into their foreheads and proclaim victory. Remember how I said buying comics can be expensive, well that goes both ways. Those back issues more often than not retain their value, at least once achieved. So they can become a decent investment if that is your goal. If you want sheer numbers for small money trades are the way to go. Combine that with a subscription to Comixology and you’re pretty damn set. You can collect hordes of comics for little money and save up for the more expensive chase items later.

But there is a down side. Completionists lament trying to build a comics collection. Take something as benign as beloved as Action Comics the first true Super Hero book, home to the notable Superman. You think it’s daunting to try and collect the more than 1000 titles published in his book? Ha, think again. Even if you could limit yourself to *just* the main titles, there’s multiple volumes, reprints, numbering changes, reboots, spinoffs, etc. Even if you stick to Action Comics alone you have Annuals, anniversary issues, collectors issues, and reprints. That’s just Superman. Spinoffs include Adventures of Superman, Superboy, Superman, Justice League of America and that’s just the main line, popular titles.

Okay slow your roll you think. Why not limit it to a specific run say an artist/writer combo? Well because you still have to chase down all the issues. You can’t just buy single numbered issues of Action Comics for the full story. No sir. You HAVE to track down the spin offs and crossovers that tie into the story. You might 13 issues of Action Comics, 12 issues of Superman 9 issues of Batman, 4 issues of Jimmy Olsen, 2 issues of JLA, 1 issue of The Flash, a single One shot to wrap it all up and an issue zero to set the stage. It can be exhausting.

Not so fast. This doesn’t automatically make video games better. Sure it seems simple. Get a complete set of just NES games. But when you say complete set does that includes reprints? Players Choice? What about bootlegs, unauthorized copies or even unlicensed games? Where do Tengen games fall in your world?

Okay you say that’s too complicated let’s back it up and only buy Mario games. Sounds simple load up on Nintendo consoles, buy 3-5 games per console, throw in a Mario Kart here and there for good measure and done. What about Atari? Mario appears in several Donkey Kong games that pre-date the NES. That also includes original arcade Mario Bros. Do you toss those aside? What about Mario Picross, Paint, is Missing, fun with series, teachers typing, Hotel Mario? Do you throw those out? Where does Punch Out fall? Or Super Smash Bros? Or Golf, boring old NES golf? Mario is the main character in that. You thought it was simple.

Nope. Collecting video games can be easily as daunting if not more so than video games. Unlike comics where a digital subscription can be had by all for a low price and doesn’t eat too much WIFI data, a video game streaming service, or even digital store, is going to burn your data plan faster than Sonic chasing Eggman. That’s not a solution for all.

You could take a page from comics and go the video game equivalent of trade paperbacks, we call these game compilations. A collector who specializes in compilations can find them self acquiring the hidden gems, sought after icons and mass produced fluff so much easier than tracking down single copies. Don’t want to drop $60 bucks on Mega Man II for NES? Why not drop $20 on Mega Man Anniversary Collection on PS2 instead? Does buying King of the Monsters on NEO GEO AES give you an ulcer? Why not get SNK Anthology instead and get dozens of NEO GEO arcade  hits in one shot.

Even a bookshelf filled with compilations and collections can still be impressive. Hell even the iconic Super Mario All-Stars on SNES is technically a compilation.

It’s not just the value of video games being greater per dollar than comics, nor them being far more interactive, but they are far more visually appealing.

A comic is a static image, or a group of images. Now, don’t get me wrong a comic can be enthralling, immersive and visually pleasing but it’s still a clumping of static images grouped together with text. A video game, even something as simple as an 8-bit NES game can have a visual style in its graphics that outshines even the most beloved comic book art. Okay maybe that last part is a big of a stretch but still.

Then there are video games that look like comic books but aren’t necessarily based on existing comic properties, for example Comix Zone on the Sega Genesis.

Video games offer a depth of interaction and immersive storytelling comics can’t replicate. Now this is where I do swing things back in favor of comics. Even with modern CGI-heavy, story-driven games like the Arkham series, you are still losing the intimate story-telling you can get in a comic book. I played X-Men Legends II on the GameCube and I felt immersed in the world for sure but I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in the story as I did reading the Dark Phoenix Saga in paper back comic form.

Also let’s take a step back to an earlier observation I made regarding collecting. A single issue of a comic book is going to tell a short, self-contained micro-story that is itself part of a larger connected story. Multiple issues weave an arc together that draws the reader in month after month. A video game is usually, especially a single-player game as most comic based games tend to be, a limited engagement. I can get through the story-mode of DC Gods Among Us in less than an hour. But to read the same number of comics that would tell the same story would take days, months if you have to wait for them to arrive in the mail as I in fact do.

The reality is comics keep going. And remember all those spin offs and tie ins I said that make collecting difficult? Yeah, they also make reading comics a blast. Hunting for all the issues in a cross over event can be exciting. Reading through all those different issues one by one is even more thrilling.

You get an experience when you read a comic book that a video game can’t replicate. They both have you holding a physical object in your hands, allowing for a tangible form of interaction, but they do it in different ways. I can sit on the couch, knees bent, laid back and read a comic while a movie is playing in the background. I can set it aside once completed and either pick up another issue or move on to something else. The time investment to get through a single issue might not offer the same dollar for hour as a video game, but admittedly it can offer a nice quick romp through a fantastic world between other activities. I could spend an entire day flipping through pages after pages just admiring the art not even reading a single inked letter.

So which do I prefer? Or more importantly which one is more important to sustaining popular culture? Can Superman exist entirely as a character in movies and video games without a comic book to prop him up? Or can the comic book industry survive without Supes there to prop it up? These are difficult questions to answer.

At the end of the day I truly believe that you do get more out of a video game than you do a comic book but it costs more to get into gaming and it can be major hassle keeping track of all the hardware required to achieve the gaming goals. Comics can be overwhelming if you get bogged down in the lore, multiverse and all, or can be simple time wasters if that is what suits you best.

Personally I love them both and honestly cannot envision a world where one exists without the other. I have a small but concentrated collection of comic books that offer me a glimpse into a world beyond my own. I have a fairly large video game collection that represents every genre of game known to man, save for some obvious ones I shall not divulge.

Still, the truth is I set out to make a case that one is superior to the other in the grandest of scene in that age old format of two kids duking it out at recess on the playground.

Here we go.

Comics are cheap. 1 point

Hard to collect 0 point

flimsy 0 point

artistic pleasing 1 point

immersive 1 point

total 3 points.

Video games are expensive 0 points.

easy to collect 1 point

artistic pleasing 1 point

immersive 1 point

interactive 1 point

total 4 points.

Video Games win by a small margin. Mostly because while I have read a handful of Batman comics, all of which I have enjoyed, I have gotten no more than a few hours cumulative in my entire life spread out among all the Batman comics I’ve read. But I lost count how many hours of Batman video games I’ve played.

I was a regular reader of X-Men in the 90s. By far the comic book property I invested the most reading time into. I had tons, dozens of books ranging from all different titles from Uncanny X-Men, Generation X, New Mutants, Wolverine, Cable, Red and Slim, Kitty Pride and Wolverine, etc., too many to count. But I still got exponentially more hours worth of enjoyment out of X-Men video games. I played a lot from X-Men 1 and 2 on Genesis, Apocalypse on SNES, Marvel vs. Capcom PS1, X-Men Children of the Atom Saturn, X-Men Legends 2 GameCube, Marvel Ultimate Alliance Wii, Marvel Nemesis PS2 and GameCube, X-Men Legends 1 PC, X-Men Mutant Academy PS1 and probably others I have forgotten.

I truly believe that video games based on comic books, when done right, can offer the player an experience that not entirely comparable to reading a comic book of the same character, it can be equally enjoyable and vastly more entertaining once you take the interactive aspects into account.

There is one final point video games  have I didn’t even bother to touch on because it really makes things unfair to comic books. Music. Background music in video games can be an art form itself. Sure you could listen to music while reading a comic but most likely this will only distract you from the story, take you out of the illusion or worst of all give  you a headache. But a pumping soundtrack, be it orchestral or techno based, playing in the background of a hard hitting, fast paced action Spider-Man game can get your heart racing to the rhythm of euphoria. You can’t replicate that reading a coloring book someone else pre-colored for you.

What I thought of Pet Semetary remake

I didn’t actually read a lot of Stephen King books growing up as a kid. Not that I don’t love a good horror story or thriller, in fact I very much do. But his stories were always just a tad too scary for me at times. I sat out to read more than one on multiple occasions but I always seemed to get turned off.

Pet Semetary is the exception. I read the entire book front to back despite it giving me chills every page I turned. My 3rd grade heart was racing from the moment I checked it out from the school library. Sure you could make a case I was probably a touch too young to be reading his works but let’s not go down that line of thinking.

The book itself terrified me but in a good way. It was the first book of his I ever finished. Okay, you got me, it is the ONLY book of his I have ever finished. Master of terror is right. Okay, walk it back I did finish Misery despite hating the movie. I think the book just sucked me in whereas the film was kinda boring. I digress let’s get to it.

The first movie was a frightening flick for sure. It gave me nightmares. If you know anything about me at all its movies never give me nightmares. This was one of two films to do so. I’ll save the other for another day. It’s a good one too.

Needless to say the book and the film didn’t exactly align perfectly. They were each terrifying in their own right but the book was far more so than the movie, if you can believe it. So my love for both held me back from even wanting to watch the remake. Not that I am against remakes. In fact I am probably one of the tropes staunchest defenders. In this case it was a matter of not wanting to taint the memories I had of a film that shocked me to my core. It was, after all, such a tremendous influence on my life.

The remake on the other hand. Where do I begin?

I will start at the ending and work my way backwards. I think that is fair for this film.

The movie ends in a far more definitive and gruesome manner in which the original film did. Since the words on the pages of the novel are so far removed from my memory I will refrain from comparing either to the source material in this instance. Not that I don’t plan on revisiting it in the future but I don’t trust my faulty memories enough to be truly accurate here.

I actually liked this ending better than the first movie. Not only was it more definitive, since it left no ambiguity on the entirety of the family, but it also was more chilling imagery in that scene as the corpses all creep their way towards the infant in the car. Fantastic. I loved it.

The first criticism I see lobbed at it by reviewers online is the notion they killed the wrong kid. I wholeheartedly disagree. Not only was that moment the point where you knew for sure this movie would not be as predictable as one might fear. It goes beyond that. It subverts the audiences expectations. It tugs at your heart in a different way than the innocent baby. The daughter in the first movie was kind of bossy but this character you had real sympathy for. The whole time I watched the original I kept thinking someone needs to discipline that child somehow asap.

The reaction of the mother is more powerful here too. In the original film she embraces her murderous zombie son without a clue as to his true intent. In this movie it’s different. The mother is caught off guard in an entirely different way. Here she is confronted with her daughter actively trying to kill her. And the way the scene plays out makes this movie so much more memorable than the lame ending, no offense, of the first film.

One change that was absolutely welcome was the way this movie relied less on flash backs. Yes there were some very important flashbacks in the book. But I never cared for them being in the movie. I always fast forward those scenes anyways. I felt they dragged the movie down. Not so much the book thankfully from what I remember but certainly the film. Not the case with the remake. They cut the fat out of this picture and gave us a leaner, more impactful and darker movie. Darker in most ways.

The areas this movie fail compared to both the original and the book are in the ghost scenes. As in they are barely there and they are more fan service than useful to the plot of the picture. In fact I kind of felt like in this movie the ghost presence was downplayed to the point the ending of the movie makes less sense. So yes a strike there.

But, the atmosphere of the woods is far creepier than the original so that balances things out. Also, as someone who’s been viciously attacked by dogs more than once, I was glad they removed that filthy mutt scene from the movie.

The one cut I do wish had been retained is the sub-plot of the neighbor who kills herself. It really helped hit home the theme of the movie.

Overall I have to say I enjoyed it for what it was. I think there is absolutely room for both takes to exist. I have seen remakes done in a way that disrespect the source material. I do not believe that is the case here.