Hey, I know that my writing output has slowed considerably in 2021, down from three posts in the first half of January to… well… one (really great) article since then. It’s not that I don’t have ideas – I’ve got a Retrospective planned for months and ready to go as soon as I get time to dedicate to watching the franchise again, and I wanted to write about Gamestonk back when that was in the news. Unfortunately, since mid-January my life has be complete chaos and making time for writing hasn’t been realistic. Not only that, but I’m the sort of writer who needs to have a creative spark in order to make any sort of progress and so I haven’t even had the time for inspiration. It’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve gotten some of that creative spark back, so here I am writing a bit of a reflection on what I’ve been up to lately to stretch some of those creative juices. Hopefully I will be able to dedicate more time in the near future to bring posts to life.
So what really pushed this stressful period of my life into overdrive? Well, first of all, my wife and I bought a house… so that was a break-neck month and a half of stress getting finances in order, dealing with lawyers, banks, mortgage brokers, etc to make that work, not to mention that we then had to co-ordinate the actual move in the middle of a snow storm (have I mentioned before that I live in Canada?).
As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, a week before we moved in my wife decided she wanted to get a puppy. And not just any puppy – a Belgian Malinois puppy. Freaking John Wick 3 attack dog puppy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we have had our attentions fully on him since to ensure that he is properly trained and have had to get a trainer to help. This alone has kept my hands full and away from the keyboard, since basically my entire day gets dedicated to either work or keeping him from getting into trouble until bedtime where I might get an hour of free time if I’m lucky. So, uh, yeah maybe you can see why there haven’t been many posts lately.
That said, it hasn’t been all work for me. I do get a bit of downtime while the dog naps, but that has mostly been dedicated to painting miniatures. I started getting into Warhammer 40,000 again last year and have been expanding my Adepta Sororitas army with some of the new models they received recently. I’m really happy with how they’ve been turning out and can’t wait for COVID to be over so I can get them on the tabletop. Since moving into the new house, my huge pile of shame is now readily available to me so I’m trying to work away at it (which is also nice because I’m on a very tight budget now, so miniature purchases are extremely low priority).
Other than that, most of my free time has gone towards reading. Having finished the 2000ad Humble Bundle, I’ve moved on to other comics. First was Strontium Dog, one of 2000ad’s classic, flagship franchises. I bought and read the original series run, which is available in the five volumes of S/D Agency Files. Volume 1 is rough, pulpy fun, but the series really hits its stride in volumes 2 through 4. These stories are incredible, I heartily recommend reading them and getting drawn into the dangerous universe of Johnny Alpha, Wulf Sternhammer and Durham Red. Unfortunately, it all comes to a sticky end with volume 5, the aptly (if unsubtly) titled “The Final Solution” which brought the original series to a close. I am really mixed on it. I feel like it may have worked eventually but feels unearned and rushed at this point in Johnny Alpha’s story, especially the villains’ place in the story. It’s too bad, Strontium Dog has never recovered since then, with every attempt to follow-up or retcon this ending being half-baked and not measuring up to the original run. C’est la vie, even if it’s not the best ending, sometimes it’s just best to allow characters to rest.
Speaking of which, I followed-up on the other four volumes of Judge Anderson: The Psi Files. Volume 1 is just as great as volume 2, showing a more philosophical, rebellious and downright weird side of Justice Department than we get from Judge Dredd. However, things go completely off the rails in volumes 3 and 4. I’d like to know what drugs Alan Grant was on in the late 80s and early 90s because some of the stories he comes up with here are insane. While some of the more philosophical ones are at least interesting, none are satisfying and some are at odds with established characters such as Chief Judge Volt or make no sense (you’re telling me most of the children of MC1 disappear or die and this never gets brought up again…?). Meanwhile volume 4 hinges entirely on one epic storyline about a psychic virus… which ultimately makes no sense. So Judge Anderson dreams she’s on Deadworld? Okay, but how does this leave a psychic virus in her head? And how does this psychic virus even spread? And how are they even supposed to figure out the very fine details which end up defeating it at the last second? It all makes no sense and ruins what could have been an interesting storyline which feels like a prototype for the apocalyptic Day of Chaos which would come years later. Luckily, volume 5 turns things around with far breezier storylines, although it’s still a far cry from the series’ heyday in the early 80s.
Finally, I’ve recently started the Attack on Titan manga, having picked up a huge bundle off Humble a couple months ago. I’ve got a love-hate relationship with this series, having seen the first two seasons of the anime and a couple episodes of the third before dropping off of it. It’s at the point where I might even make a “Attack on Titan is Kind of Trash” in the near future, depending on how the manga shakes out. If it’s as frustrating as the anime was for me? Hoo boy, you can count on it. I’m on volume 2 currently and it has been very close to the anime so I’d say count on it.*
Anyway, that’s my life these past few months. I’m hoping to get back into writing a bit more regularly, but it all depends on how life shakes out and if the dog’s training becomes less of an overwhelming situation in my life. Fingers crossed that I can bring this latest Retrospective series to life soon and maybe even come out with a couple writing projects I’ve been plugging away at… we’ll see.
*Post-script: So I’ve binged through a couple dozen volumes of Attack on Titan in the past few days and I’m not so sure about this being worthy of a Trash post. I legitimately enjoy this manga and most of my complaints are going to be nitpicks in comparison to all the praise I have for this story. I don’t want “____ is Kind of Trash” to turn into a hyperbolic, nitpicky complaint platform, I want it to be for popular media that I legitimately did not like or that I think are massively overrated. I will be watching the anime after I finish the manga, so maybe there will still be a post for the anime, since I was unimpressed by the first two seasons, but they’d really have to drop the ball for it to qualify. I guess we’ll see.
*Post-post-script: Oh. Oh my. I may have spoken too soon. Attack on Titan‘s final arc can only really be equated to a Game of Thrones Season 8 level disaster.