Thirty-five.

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Cripes, bit dusty around here, isn’t it? Well, here’s the annual combination ongoing gag/proof of life. Couldn’t let the 3rd of April pass without it!

As I’m sure is abundantly clear, nothing I planned on for the blog in the last year actually happened. It was a combination of the ol’ Unemployment Blues and the cloud of overwhelming misery that had been (and continues) hanging over my head ever since I moved back to Kansas nearly four years ago now.

For those not in the know (folks who aren’t friends on Facebook and didn’t pick up on it on Twitter), I did wind up with a new job in July, at which point I also abruptly stopped posting to the This Robotech Thing Tumblr as well — which is a shame, because I was well into posting a whole series of chronological scenes from All The Robotech Comics. Think I dropped off during The Malcontent Uprisings, which means I made it through all the dire issues of Return to Macross and the entire Comico The Macross Saga. Anyway, that was just low-grade filler content, something I could do on autopilot and still feel like I was doing something so not a terrible loss to the world. Much more importantly, the new job seems to be working out — almost nine months at it now — and I’m not spending anywhere near as much time walking around town fantasizing about slitting my own wrists, so that’s an improvement on a year ago.

Yes, as I said, the cloud of misery still hangs over me, but I’m mostly dealing with that (read: not actually dealing with that, just distracting myself from it) by spending a lot of time at the local downtown coffee shop reading Star Wars and Doctor Who novels (though at the moment I’m in the middle of a reread of Dune and some –gasp! — actual grown-up historical fiction I checked out of the library), buying more toy robots, and playing the Playstation 4 I just got for this very birthday (playing lots of Street Fighter V over the past week, badly).

Also, the new Macross show that, hilariously, premieres in Japan today — just like Macross Frontier did eight years ago! — didn’t look like something I’ll hate when it was previewed back in December. Between that, last year’s Star Wars not being terrible, and the last season of Doctor Who sticking the landing, things really could be so much worse.

(Okay, so things could be a little more sunshine and roses in the real world, what with the right wing passing all sorts of hideous pro-discrimination bills in states across the country and folks proudly showing off what damned fools and monsters they are by supporting the Racist Bad Haircut That Walks Like A Man, but I expect there isn’t a whole lot I can personally do about all that short of going out to vote this November.)

No promises of something new and/or exciting coming down the pipeline this time, because one thing I’ve learned is to stop doing that, but there is one particular series I’d love to do to commemorate a certain woulda/coulda/shoulda anniversary this year. We’ll see if I manage to make the time to do it. All I can promise for the future is that, barring some horrible accident, there will be another picture of me with yet another Ultra Magnus in front of my face this time next year, because that seems like a tradition that really is working out for me.

Cheers, all.

(Last year here; the year before and the original photo this is based on here.)

Thirty-four.

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Well, there went another year. That wouldn’t have been so eventful if not for the whole losing-my-job-to-corporate-bankruptcy thing, which still smarts. Still having work dreams, still getting polite “we’ll keep your resume on file” e-mails, still posting toys and comics and things to eBay (nothing’s up as of this writing, but I’ll be doing another round next week). It’s rough going, but it’d be rougher if not for my family, bless ’em. They might sometimes drive me bananas, but they’re always here for me in a pinch. I probably don’t thank them enough, honestly.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a pile of things planned for the blog next week, including a new This Robotech Thing I shot some footage for last night and a review I started on last week that the blog ate, which makes it twice the cautionary tale that it was to begin with. More than anything, right now my goal is to keep myself busy and productive. I’ve got nothing but time on my hands at the moment — why not take advantage of it, right?

Mind you, today? Today, I’m just going to do my best to relax. Put this new Ultra Magnus through his paces (and hopefully sticker him up with some Reprolabels that are supposed to be coming in the mail any day now), watch some anime, play some more Lords of Thunder, and try and enjoy the day.

(Photo context here. And now that I’ve written this, time to get caught up on Arrow and heat up some soup.)

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Thirty years melting away in a handful of purchases.

Guys, if I’m being completely honest with you, I’ve spent most of the past few years in a pretty lousy funk that’s made getting any non-essential work (read: anything I wasn’t getting paid to do) pretty difficult. Unemployment isn’t making it any better; I spent a couple of days this past week so gripped by a mix of anger, despair, and frustration that I barely left my bed. Next week I’m going to try to make an extra effort to get up early, seize the day, and all that sort of positive thinking guff, because I have quite a list of things I’d really like to do with my non-job-hunting time — and if I do this right, the first fruit of that should probably hit the blog on Monday. But for now, I’m just going to leave you with this image of three currently available Transformers figures standing together that made me realize just how hard Hasbro’s hitting one particular nostalgia button this year.

One you’ve already seen on the blog, the Insecticon Bombshell in the bottom corner; the other two I might’ve mentioned on Twitter, but if you’re my pal on Facebook you’ve definitely seen that I got my hands on these guys — the new Leader-class Megatron and Deluxe-class Stunticon Dragstrip. Last year Hasbro was making a real effort to celebrate all three decades of Transformers, but the agenda this year seems to be “let’s just act as if it’s 1985 again.” Given that I was four years old in 1985 and reasonably happy, and here in 2015 I’m turning thirty-four and I’m really not happy at all, I am A-OK with sitting on the floor with a handful of Evil Decepticons and making believe for a few moments that it’s thirty years ago all over again.

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But only for a few moments. Nostalgia will only get you so far in life. If you spend all your life focusing on the good times behind you, you’re probably never going to see any good times ahead — right?

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It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for.

For the last week and a half or so, every couple of nights I’ve had the same dream over and over again. I’m at work. The big blowout sale is done. There’s still plenty of product on the walls, but it does look picked over. At my manager’s word the giant red and yellow signs in the windows come down and business is poised to go back to normal. There’s rebuilding to be done, staff to hire, and hopefully corporate will do something about the fact that we’re low on things to sell, but we made it.

Of course, that’s not what happened at all. Two weeks ago now my workplace for almost three years, Pittsburg’s RadioShack store, shut its doors for the last time. The last time I was there all the product was gone, the register computers had been disassembled and boxed up, the counters had been shoved into a corner, and a pickup truck was tearing out of the side parking lot with one of our discarded Verizon cell phone displays. About a week ago the building’s owner put “FOR LEASE” signs in the windows, making the situation all the more real. Six and a quarter years working for this company were finally at an end. Continue reading

Thirty-three.

Jonathan and Ultra Magnus, about twenty-seven years apart.

Jonathan and Ultra Magnus, about twenty-seven years apart.

There goes year thirty-three: three hundred and sixty-five days of killing time, buying stuff on eBay, working retail, and occasionally posting Robotech-related videos to YouTube. Hoping to make the next three hundred and sixty-five days a little more productive, starting today. We’ll see how that goes.

Vlog 05.23.2011 – Close to Home

The video above was shot in the wee a.m. hours this past Monday, after I spent the entire evening jumping between Facebook, KOAM TV 7’s website, and a news aggregating website to try and get a sense of what exactly had happened to the city of Joplin, Missouri, a place I visited quite often in the twenty-seven years before I moved up to Wisconsin. If you follow me on YouTube you’ve already seen it; I posted it up immediately after shooting it that night/morning. This was my way of working through the raw emotions of seeing a place that had been such a large part of my life for so long torn apart by the forces of nature. I’m still shaken up by it; it doesn’t help that A) this came on the heels of another ridiculous shake-up at my crappy little job which finally settled down yesterday, and B) a week from now I’ll be getting on an airplane and flying INTO Joplin, Missouri, on my way back home to Pittsburg for the first time in almost three years. I’ll be seeing the devastation from above, and if we linger at all I’ll be seeing it firsthand. If I think I’m an emotional wreck NOW … *sigh*

While some of my parents’ coworkers lost their homes and even a few lost relatives, I don’t know that I personally know anyone affected in a life-changing way by the destruction of a large swath of Joplin, beyond the tumultuous emotions I’ve been feeling myself. It is interesting to me how the footage and photos hit me like a sucker punch. I can ultimately deal with gradual change. A fire takes out a few buildings. A family decides it’s time to close down their business after soever many years. A big chain decides that such-and-such-a-location isn’t profitable anymore. Times change and make an old business model obsolete. Old houses are razed to build new apartments. In the grand scheme of things, this sort of change makes sense; it’s all part of the endless cycle of interlocking deaths and births that we call history. This, on the other hand … this was the planet itself deciding to unleash a quarter-mile-wide salvo of death and ruin — both physical and economic — on an average midwestern American city. It doesn’t make a damn bit of sense to me. Yes, tragedies like this bring people together. Yes, they will rebuild. Yes, people will find a way to make some good out of this nightmare. But that part of me that demands order and sense from the world is, in my mind’s eye, shaking its fists in the air and screaming, “BUT THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE TO!” Yes, even after all these years, there’s still a part of me deep down inside that demands a childish sense of fairness from the world.

That said, yeah, for those already caught up, there’s no new video this weekend. Because of my upcoming vacation I’m trying to power through a bunch of Robotech episodes in the spare time I’ve got. I did even have a few topics in mind for this weekend’s video, but every one kind of slipped through my fingers mere moments after it came to me — clearly I’ve been having a hard time thinking straight. I do have something coming in the mail next week I’m going to want to talk about, though, so barring any further distracting news to make me a wreck again, we’ve got a topic for next weekend.

Upcoming posts for this week include tomorrow’s second half of Matthew Graham’s very old school Doctor Who two-parter, which I find I’m quite looking forward to, and the first full week of the second generation of Robotech, the centerpiece of which is the downing and exploration of one of the Robotech Masters’ flagships. After a half-baked first week of Robotech Masters, this is where the second generation really comes into its own.