27 April, 2008

Truth and Sloth

"in the garden of earthly delights, I met two sisters there
one with skin as dark as night, the other pale, and fair
the latter spied I at water's fall, the former laid in wait
when to her I proceeded to call, I knew not she was the bait"

Truth and Sloth

There once was a man who fell asleep under a willow tree by a babbling stream in the forest after a relaxing morning walk. When he awoke, he was in a vast garden, the likes of which Nebuchadnezzar could never have dreamed. The stream had become a basin for a medium-sized waterfall, which toppled over a slick rock face about twice an average man's height. The sun peeked down through the layers of foliage above, indirectly illuminating the garden, while a gentle breeze cooled the day's heat and rustled the leaves rhythmically.

The sparkling water toppling over the rocks and splashing into the basin below beckoned to the man, who had suddenly felt a desire to refresh his body in the water. Stripping off his clothes, he stepped into the basin and waded toward the waterfall. The water was hardly deep enough to submerge the man's chest at the deepest point. As he approached the waterfall, the reflections of light in the falling water danced about in a mesmerizing pattern. The man blinked, and rubbed his eyes, and to his surprise, saw a woman emerge from behind the waterfall. She was fair, and her skin was pale; her long, wet locks of light-colored hair clung to her body and were her only covering.

Spellbound by the woman's crystal eyes, that stared back at the man, he advanced toward the woman and embraced her. The couple spun around under the splashing water, joined together as if one. The man caught a fleeting glimpse of a dark, scaly shape swimming toward the waterfall, and he snapped back to his senses. Disengaging himself from the mysterious beauty, he scanned the basin. As the woman reached her arms around the man from behind, the water began rippling from a central point just in front of them. Expecting some nightmarish seasnake to emerge to counter the dreamlike beauty of the woman, the man was surpised to see another woman rising from the water in front of him. She was a dark beauty, with skin as black as night. She wore some kind of scaly garment, draped about her, but full of holes, making it look like her body was covered half in skin, and half in reptilian scales. Her eyes were ablaze, and staring into them, the man's senses were again overcome. He blacked out just as he felt a scaly hand slither across his chest.

The man awoke again in an unfamiliar environment, but seemingly in the same garden as before. Sure enough, the dark woman was seated to his left, the fair woman to his right. They were nestled between the roots of a gigantic tree, with their backs against the wall-like trunk. The two women spoke in turns. The fair woman's voice was soft and gentle, the dark woman's deep and enchanting.

"Welcome to the Garden of Earthly Delights."
"Where all pleasures rooted in sin are yours for the taking."
"You have been brought here by your vain desire."
"In here, your deepest wish will be fulfilled."
"But beware, what you acquire here cannot be gotten rid of."
"The price of your entry is steeper than you can know."
"But you've already arrived; that means your mind is already set."
"And all will be revealed to you, very soon."

The two women stood up, and without looking back, walked away from the tree, into the verdant brush of the garden surround. Alone now, the man got up, and surveyed the area. Green life everywhere, peppered with vibrant, colorful blooms. Looking up, he spied the great tree's canopy far above. He thought he could make out sparkling red fruits hanging from some of the branches, but it was quite a far way up. Thinking of the fruit, he realized he was quite hungry. He began to feel a strong desire to consume those fruits.

He looked back at the trunk, and noticed something shining on the ground beside where he had been sitting just a moment before. He approached, and noticed it was a fancy blade. Picking it up, he instinctively thrust the blade into the trunk of the tree. Surprisingly, it cut through the tough bark like butter. A thick molasses began to pour out around the edges of where the blade was stuck in the tree. Overcome with a maddening desire, the man got down on his knees and began to lick the sugary lifeblood of the tree right from off the bark. It was delicious! He grabbed the blade and pulled it out of the tree. Now the lifeblood came surging out, enveloping the man in a sticky coating. He nearly drowned himself trying to consume it.

Just as he began to feel full, the tree's wound miraculously healed itself, and the lifeblood stopped flowing. The man slumped to the ground, partially submerged in a dark, sticky puddle. His body felt weak and tired, but his mind was exploding with energy. He felt himself getting smarter. Things that only confused him before suddenly started making sense. Everything became clearer to him, and deception and misdirection was replaced with shining truth. Questions rearranged themselves to form answers. All sorts of information flooded in, and his mind was overcome with clarity. The man felt that he had instantaneously reached ultimate enlightenment.

But then, the information stopped flowing. He still had access to everything that could be known, but there was a limit. His mind had gorged itself on all the secrets of the universe, and now there was no sustenance left. All that could be done was to regurgitate the same information over and over. Furthermore, a dark pit began to form at the center of the man's consciousness. It was the meaning of life. He couldn't ignore it, the one question most seeked out in the history of man. And the answer was a void. It gnawed at him from the inside. All of the bright bits of knowledge started to dim as they were slowly swallowed by that void. None of them had any more meaning beyond that void. Soon enough, the void encompassed all, and there was no hope left in the man, only deep, dark, despair.

His deepest wish having been fulfilled - to possess the truth and sum of all possible knowledge - the man never got up from beside that tree again. There was simply no point. He feasted on the fruits of the great tree that periodically dropped to the ground around him, but the enjoyment of eating them was ruined by the dark pit of despair at the core of each one. The two women who tended the garden visited him regularly, to satisfy his animal needs, but it gave him little satisfaction. There was no point in anything anymore. Not in living, not even in dying. And so he remained there, until the end of time.

15 April, 2008

Dream Psychology

I made a revelation last night.

When I'm faced with an unfamiliar situation, I get very anxious, particularly when I don't know what's expected of me - considering that I'm always too afraid to ask. So what happens is, I feel like no matter what I end up doing, it'll be wrong, and I'll either be scolded, or people will think badly of me, both of which are outcomes worse than death. So I freeze up, because every potential course of action is flawed, and I can't bring myself to commit to any of them, and whenever possible, I turn around and back away from the issue, and I hide from it, trying to delay the inevitable, but only inevitably prolonging the agony.

But then I realized, even if something bad were to happen, it's not the end of the world.

My words can't possibly convey the deep level of meaning behind all of this, which is part of the reason I gave up songwriting. I mean, it all makes sense from a logical standpoint, but getting yourself to actually /believe/ something is a feat that requires some kind of miracle.

Anyhow, it's not like I actually think the world is gonna end if I do something wrong or screw something up or disappoint someone - that would be ridiculous - but the amount of stress I experience /is/ proportional to such a catastrophic outcome, and not proportional to the actual situation. In fact, that's what the psychs call "catastrophizing".

It's one thing to talk about it and say, "that makes sense". But last night I was thinking about it, and I actually realized that the amount of stress I experience over something so small is ridiculous. So I told myself "it's not the end of the world", and it makes me feel a little better. So what? The world's not gonna come crashing down around me. Whatever happens, even the worst-case reasonable scenario can't be all that bad - certainly not as bad as I'm treating it.

So then I ended up having a very vivid dream about the same issue. I had been involved in something illegal with the mob - they forced me to do something that I didn't want to do, but I felt responsible for it, and furthermore, I was certain that if the authorities found out, regardless of my circumstances, I'd suffer a fate worse than death.

So I was convinced that the only option for me was to kill myself. And the mob helped me in giving me the freedom to kill myself before getting captured by the authorities. I flew around in a helicopter, planning to crash it, but then I decided I wanted to spend my last moments somewhere that meant something to me, so I flew to Deep Creek Lake.

Then, there were other people around, and I wanted so badly to kill myself and end it all, but I just couldn't do it. I bashed an acoustic guitar against a dresser, and said that I wanted to do the same thing to my head, to bash my skull to pieces, but that I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was very intense. A feeling I'm very familiar with, though not usually related to killing myself - the intense desire to do something or have something or be something, but not having the power to make it so.

Anyhow, a revelation came to me, and suddenly I realized that even if I was captured by the authorities, it wouldn't be so bad, it certainly wouldn't be as bad as ending my life. In fact, I discovered that the mob had tricked me, and that instead of helping me, they were using me, trying to get me to kill myself, most likely because I knew something that would compromise them, and they figured it'd be easier to let me kill myself than to murder me. And I felt so much better.

The force that I thought was protecting me, the source of my stress - that avoidance and catastrophizing - wasn't helping me, it was actually hurting me, and deceiving me. It's not my friend, but my enemy. It does not speak the truth, but lies. And I must not continue to listen to them.

13 April, 2008

Tekkoshocon VI (2008) Part 3


Saturday night/Sunday morning was disturbingly like Thursday night/Friday morning. I should have been able to sleep right through to Sunday, considering how exhausted I was, but I still ended up waking up in the middle and screwing it up. So I eventually woke up Sunday morning at 11am, hardly less tired than I was Friday morning. And considering the half-way nature of Sunday's con programming, it seemed like a wasted effort. Still, I was determined, so I got up, and headed for the con after noon.

Grabbing a quick sandwich at Subway, I reached the con at about 1pm, and headed for the main room to watch the AMV Awards. I should have anticipated that they'd be a little behind schedule. I walked in on the very end of the previous programming, only to have to go out and get back in line for the next event. Well, the line wasn't too long, certainly not compared to the masquerade line on Saturday, and when we all eventually got inside and seated, probably 70% of the chairs were still empty...

Anyway, the winning AMV's were good. Nothing that totally blew me away, but they were entertaining. There was a good Fate/Stay Night action AMV, and an impressively 8-bit styled Lucky Star AMV. There was also an endearing romance AMV featuring Chobits. I had mixed feelings about the winner of the "audience pick" write-in award - which was an AMV centered around the scene from Eva when Shinji holds Kaworu in Unit 01's hand, followed by an overlong stare-down, and then finally the murder of Kaworu. Well, in the AMV, Kaworu was singing an annoying song, that just went on and on and on, with intermittent shots of Shinji and Rei being annoyed. Well, you can see where it was going. I admit it's a clever idea, but geez, is it really something that's fun to watch?? There was also a Death Note AMV - Death Note was hugely popular at this con - which allegedly was full of spoilers, but I don't know a thing about Death Note, so I couldn't tell the difference.

I have to admit, watching AMV's again, it did not take long for me to start fantastizing about finishing that one AMV I started to try to make years ago. I really think it could be an amazing AMV. I watched the preliminary "version" I have of it, after getting back home, and even the little I have, it really makes me think that it could be awesome. Fantasy: I'd love to finish that AMV, submit it to a con (that I attend), and then win an award, so that I can claim it while wearing my Griffith cosplay. That's my dream. Let me toss it into the bonfire of Griffith's ambition, like a moth to a flame...

Anyhow, back at the con, after the AMV Awards ended, there wasn't much left to do, considering that I think the Dealer's Room was closed by then, so I headed back towards the Video Rooms. There was supposed to be more AMV's playing in the AMV Room, which would have been nice to see, but I ended up back in the "unlicensed" Video Room instead, watching an unfamiliar series called Binbou Shimai Monogatari. It was about two schoolgirls - sisters - living alone (mother dead, father disappeared), trying to get by on their own. Despite the nature of the premise, it was a very endearing show, and the girls were adorable. In fact, looking it up back home, I found out there are only ten episodes. Having seen the first two already, I decided on a whim to watch the rest of it. So I'm currently downloading the remaining eight episodes...

Well, after the showing finished, I left the video rooms, and by now, you could tell that the con was closing down. People were scarce, rooms were shutting down. There were still people lining up for something - perhaps the closing ceremony, though I thought that would have already started by that time, but the con was pretty much over. So I headed home, making it back before 4.

Third day's reaction: I really enjoyed the con. It felt so much more like an anime con than the Comicon ever did (not that that's surprising). It really was like a (very) mini Otakon. All the pieces were there, they were just much much smaller. Of the two, I have to say I still easily prefer Otakon. Advantages to a smaller con aside, you just can't beat the excitement of a large con, or the sheer variety of panels/shows/events/etc. going on (not to mention the cosplayers). My opinion is open to change in the future though. I had more a feeling of sadness for the end of the con last night, but now I'm so tired, I don't think I could take any more of the con even if it was there. I need to get some rest. Still, I feel like my con experience has grown a great deal, and I feel a stronger desire than before to continue going to anime cons, whether it's this one, or any other.

When I think about it, I'm reminded of a discussion I read about Burning Man, about how people say their opinion changes over the years. The first time is really exciting, and the second time can't live up to it; or maybe the second time is better because you have a better idea of what to expect and what to get out of it. Either way, the third and subsequent times, you either get tired of it and the magic disappears, or you start to grow fond of it and get attached. Maybe I'm just lonely, but I feel like I could get attached.

I mean, I'm definitely still up to date in the otaku scene. Personal preferences aside, I was pretty much in the know for a lot of the series that were passing around - the current favorites, like Lucky Star, Fate/Stay Night, Haruhi, etc. And I've pretty much got the classics down, I think. I guess I just have to put some more effort into that AMV, and the costume, too. And it might be nice to get some (more?) otaku friends, although there's still that barrier between "me" and "people". What was it called, the AT Field? ...Maybe not.

Life is melancholy.

But for now, I have Deedlit and Rimu-chan to console me, and keep me company...

Tekkoshocon VI (2008) Part 2


So Doug tagged along with me to the con on Saturday. We headed out in the afternoon, since there wasn't any terribly pressing programming going on earlier that day. We filled up at Taco Bell before reaching the hotel, some time after 4. It was a lot more crowded than on Friday, which I could tell even just from the amount of cars in the parking lot.

After Doug got registered, I showed him the tour of the con, from one end to the other. We ended up in the Dealer's Room, and spent some time there digging the merchandise. Doug bought a fancy knife and a sword, which I think is what he came for - he has certainly been excited about them. I ended up buying a full size poster which actually looks to be an advertisement for the white sukumizu Asuka and Rei pair of figures. I like it, and it was the best poster/wall scroll I saw there - unfortunately, the rest were less than impressive. There were, however, tons of awesome figures/dolls/models, including a number of Fate/Stay Night characters, and the requisite plethora of Asuka and Rei figures in various outfits and poses. There was one Asuka figure I saw that I particularly liked (see here), but it was too expensive. In addition to figures, there were a lot of neat keychains/trinkets, especially of the Fate variety - including Rin's heart-shaped jewel. There was one Code Geass item I saw which seemed to be a gold replica of one of the keys they use to pilot their Knightmare Frames - fashioned as a necklace. I looked at the t-shirts available, but I unfortunately - however expectedly - did not see the Sawachika t-shirt I've been wanting to get that's apparently impossible to find even in Japan...

There were a number of those "collectible figure" sets - where you buy one box, and you get a random figure from the set - but I'm always wary of putting down money on those, because you always end up getting the dud character. For example, I saw a cool Eva set with all kinds of Reis, and Asukas, and Misato, and one Kaworu. And I said to Doug, chances are, you buy one, and you'd end up getting Kaworu... They did have a number of "complete sets" available, which was awesome, but those were mostly the sets of smaller figures. So I ended up buying a Shuffle figure, after looking at the figures on the side of the box and determining that there was really no loser. Based on the poses, I was hoping for an Asa (ironic, since she was my least favorite character in the series), or a Kaede. I ended up getting Primura, the loli character, wearing a sukumizu (must have been a subconcious theme or something for me that day), but upon further deliberation, I've determined that Rimu-chan was probably the best figure in the set after all. I really like it.

And so, to repeat what I told Doug, I didn't buy a whole lot at the con this year, but I'm really happy with what I did get. And that's great, because it's maximum happiness for minimal coin! By the time we finished up in the Dealer's Room, it was already past 5, which unfortunately meant that we had missed the panel on Japanese Girl Groups that I had wanted to check out. Oh well. People were already starting to line up for the cosplay masquerade, which I also wanted to see, and which was scheduled to begin at 6. I wasn't quite feeling the line yet, so we walked back to the car to drop off Doug's blades, and my poster, which wasn't rolled, but backed with cardboard, making it kind of inconvenient to carry. Upon re-entering the con, the masquerade line had only grown longer, and we sucked it up and took a spot. Lucky, because the staff who were counting the people in line had to cut it off about twenty people behind us because they had reached capacity.

The line wait was pretty long, but what's a con without waiting in a line at least once, right? Also, it was a nice chance to just stop and watch all the pretty cosplayers going back and forth through the halls. I did, to my joy, happen to see a C.C. costumer. I actually spotted her twice. Before you ask, I didn't take any pictures, because I wasn't really feeling the "stop and let me shoot you" photographer thing. Besides, other people take much better pictures of costumers, so I'm content to sit back and wait for all those pictures to go up on the net. Anyhow, I also spotted what could only have been a Maetel, walking quickly past as I was waiting in line. I didn't have much time to marvel at the costume, but I was amazed and impressed to see a Maetel. I hope somebody got some pictures of her costume.

Well, we finally got into the main room to see the cosplay masquerade, but it was kind of so-so. It didn't help that we were near the back and there were too many people to see the stage clearly. I love the costumes, but I'm kind of disinterested in the silly skits they do, so I'm wondering if maybe the hall contest would be more in my interest than the masquerade. Besides, all told, there weren't that many costumers involved in the masquerade anyway. I saw a lot more costumes just standing in line... Anyway, it was pretty cool to see some "Clamp does Alice in Wonderland" (?) costumers dancing the Lucky Star dance. On the other hand, I was a little freaked out when Pyramid Head started dancing with a bunch of Pikachus... After the skits were done, there were some announcements and a charity auction before the winners were announced. Overall, the programming was less than spectacular, but I'm still glad I went, because it made me feel like more of a part of the whole convention.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention the best part of the masquerade! Actually, it occurred before the show began, but after we were all seated. There were two staff members helping people get situated - one dressed as Saber, and another dressed as Archer, both from Fate/Stay Night. Well, all of a sudden, I hear somebody shout "Shirou sucks!" Turning my head, I find out it was Archer! And Saber's standing there shooting a mean look at him! Then they start arguing! It was great! I don't even think it was staged!

Afterwards, there was some time before the next thing I wanted to do, so at Doug's request, we hit the road to break at the local Dairy Queen [after appropriately spotting the C.C. costumer again, standing outside the in-hotel pizza restaurant!]. It had been rainy all weekend, but unfortunately, by this time, it was starting to get colder (it's even colder today, Sunday). We still had ice cream, though.

We made it back to the con and headed for the "unlicensed" Video Room, for the showing of Bamboo Blade. I know, it doesn't make sense to only watch the shows you've already seen (considering I just finished this series last week or so), but it's cool to watch it in the con environment, and to see other people's reactions. And the reactions to the show were positive. Maybe not as enthusiastic as Zetsubou's reactions, but then again, they were perhaps more respectful. The Video Rooms seemed to be under control, too, unlike the previous night. After "Banbure", we chilled for a bit, but when Giant Robo had some problems getting running, we decided to move out. Eva was playing in one of the other rooms, but in English, unfortunately. A Rei happened to be conveniently standing by. I didn't see any Asukas though...

Our visit seemed to be winding down, so we took one last stroll across the convention halls, to luckily catch the end of a photoshoot featuring Pyramid Head (a different - and better - one than was at the masquerade, I believe), another nurse, and one of the "spitters", preserving the SH2 theme.

Heading back toward the lobby, there were already people lining up for - considering the sheer quantity of glow sticks in that line - the popular Saturday night rave. I figured that was our cue to leave. It was about 11 then, but we had a good day of con-going under our belts. I arrived home even more exhausted - if possible - than the night before.

Second day's reaction: envy. I see all these people having fun, and I want to be a part of it. I've always been detached from my peers, and such a lonely life is painful to live. I want to be at this con with a group of my friends (assuming such a thing existed), staying at the hotel, dressing up in costumes (including myself). I want to be the kind of person that can have fun at the glow stick rave. No matter how close I get to this "social existence", I never feel a part of it. And I can't bring myself to become like "them". I'm just different, I have different values and interests and tastes, but it doesn't mean I live a happier life. Quite the opposite. I keep wondering what the point of truth is, if it just means living a life of sorrow. I scoff at anyone who says, "I'd rather be a happy idiot..." but, part of me wonders if I don't believe it myself a little... Still, I don't feel that it's a decision I can make. I am who I am, and my whole life so far has proved that I can't change it. So I continue to live a life of relative despair. Oh well.

And a note about costuming. I still have the desire to cosplay as Griffith from Berserk, but if you know me, I don't want to do a half-assed costume. I wore the behelit pendant for effect, but that's not exactly a costume. The armor or the fancy dress or the demon gear is way beyond my means, but I've been trying to develop an effective "plain-clothes Griffith" costume - well, by "trying to develop" I mean "casually thinking about". It's based on Griffith's outfit during his first duel with Guts, in the grassy hills. Still, even if I could get the shirt, the purplish pants, and convincing boots, I'd still have to do something about the sword. But I don't just want to do it, I want to do it good. Ehh...

(Part 3)

12 April, 2008

Tekkoshocon VI (2008) Part 1


Thursday night, I tried to get some sleep early, like around 3 or 4 am. Predictably, I got a few good hours of sleep, before waking up more or less fully around 7. I putzed around for a bit, then laid down again, to finally get back to sleep around 10. I slept for only two more hours, before my alarm went off. By that time, I was fully into my sleep mode, and exorbitantly exhausted. Lying in bed, with the radio blaring, loud enough to fend off sweet sleep, I seriously considered blowing off the con and just sleeping through it. But, amazingly, my will was strong enough to force me out of that bed. I showered, got dressed, prepared myself, and then I was off. There was no turning back.

I decided to put some food in my system before entering the con, so that I wouldn't be walking around on an empty stomach, so I had a small meal at Wendy's on the nearby road. I entered the con at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, I'd say. I ended up parking up in the lot above, where there were plenty of spaces, and having to walk down around the side of the hill to get to the front of the hotel where the front entrance is. Walking into the lobby, it took me a moment to find the registration tables for the con, which, as it happens, were directly in front of me. I got my badge from a pink haired girl who [was the only one that] commented on my hair. I, of course, returned the comment, but I guess not much effort goes into a wig like that. Still, it was festive.

I spent a few hours scouting out the con, determining where everything was, and taking in the atmosphere. Video Rooms at one end of the hotel, Dealer's Room at the other end. Lobby in the middle. Panel Rooms and Video Game Room in the direction of the Video Rooms, and Main Events room in the direction of the Dealer's Room. I briefly looked in on the videos that were playing - Irresponsible Captain Tylor was one of the titles I recognized, before heading back across to the Dealer's Room, where I spent some time.

Some pretty cool stuff available. Lots of pre-made cosplay stuff, particularly of the Naruto variety - costumes and props alike. DVD's and manga, and a surprisingly large quantity of (live steel) swords and other knives. Keychains, plushes, basically a lot of the stuff you would expect to find in the Dealer's Room at an anime con. I spotted a Deedlit figure that I obviously couldn't resist buying, for only $15 or so. [Speaking of plushes, I just had a dream where I was looking for a Code Geass plush of C.C. in her white "bondage" outfit - ever seen one?]

I was a little detached from the Panels and Main Events during that first visit to the con, so after getting my Deedlit figure, I headed back to the Video Rooms to watch some stuff. I quickly realized that most of the stuff was being played in English, which pisses me off. But I wanted to kill some time, so I sat in for bits and pieces here and there. There was a movie playing called Petite Cossette that was mildly interesting (ignoring the English), with a somewhat dark atmosphere, but it kind of dragged on. [Interestingly, that's the title from which the image on my Otakon 2005 badge comes from - so now I finally have some context for it!]

I wanted to get home before dinner and the Open Stage, so I thought about heading out some time before or around 5ish. I knew I was gonna buy the latest volumes of Berserk (manga) during the con (since I was there, and it was at least as convenient as having to go to the store to pick them up), and I figured there was no point in waiting, so I stopped back at the Dealer's Room and picked up volumes 20 and 21 for a nice cheap price before leaving and heading back home.

Friday Night

After the Open Stage, it was around 11pm, and I was anxious to get back to the con for the midnight panel on Silent Hill. I made it there, but this second trip turned out to largely be a failure. Getting to the appropriate Panel Room, it was still a little early, but nothing was going on inside, and there were some other people sitting in there waiting - including a Silent Hill nurse sitting motionless in a creepy position. So I sat down in anticipation of the panel. Unfortunately, a staff member came in asking whether the panel was over (referring to the last one that must have finished up earlier) - asking the demonic Silent Hill nurse such a mundane question was an interesting spectacle - indicating that we'd have to clear the room before the next panel since it was an 18+ panel and they needed to check ID's before letting anyone enter. Those of us that were waiting for the Silent Hill panel filed out of the room (the nurse shuffled out), pondering the peculiarity of making Silent Hill an 18+ panel, which I don't believe it was supposed to be (despite the nature of the game series). Eventually, a question was fired, and the answer stunned us all - the Silent Hill panel had been rescheduled to a few hours earlier, and we had all missed it. Bummer. I had even worn my Silent Hill shirt that day... (By the way, we also found out that the panel that had taken Silent Hill's place was a yaoi panel, hence the carding, and why we all hurried off to find something else to do in place of our missed panel).

I had some time to kill before Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei was supposed to be showing, so I checked some of the other Video Rooms. I peeked in on one, and saw a schoolgirl (on screen), so I stepped in and took a seat. Then I realized it was Fruits Basket... In English, no less. Well, I eventually made it in to see Zetsubou, which was entertaining. I was happy that there were other Zetsubou fans there that were enjoying the series. I also learned that that particular video room was dedicated to unlicensed stuff (hence, in Japanese), which I hadn't realized earlier. Still, if I was creating a convention, I'd make Japanese the default for everything...

Anyhow, after Zetsubou ended, I stuck around and watched an episode of an apparently very old series called Devilman. It shocked me that such a series could exist, which is based on the premise that the protagonist is a kid who was killed by demons, which fought each other to the death for the privilege of inhabiting the boy's body, so that they could wreak havoc on the mortal world. Wow.

I made my way over to the Main Events room, looking for something to do, not wanting to go home just yet, and hoping that there might be a chance I could see some hentai AMV's that were supposedly gonna be played there (I know my tastes are pretty tame, but I have to admit a curiosity for 'tentacle rape'). No luck. I ended up sitting in on the end of a session where a bunch of apparent con-"celebrities", including at least one or two English voice actresses, told stories of "con horror" - terrible things that had happened to them in cons past. It was mostly boring, except for one story about an underground explosion during an Otakon, which resulted in skyborn manholes, and herds of rats leaving the sewers in a mass exodus. Otherwise, it was pretty inane, but I felt like taking in more of the con atmosphere. Following that panel, I ended up suffering through one Evangelion parody dub before I just had to leave. It was quite late by this time (I'm talking 3am), and I was quite tired. I got home absolutely exhausted, yet gradually made my way to bed, to get some rest before Saturday's excursion.

First day's reaction: resentment. "I'm not like these people. Although we share a major hobby, we are nothing alike. I certainly don't share their sense of humor." This kind of anime fandom has surprisingly little to do with anything Japanese. They watch these shows in English, pronounce the character's names with an American accent, are fans of the /English/ voice actors... Even the people that were watching the subtitled episodes I got to see, they would frequently read the subtitles out loud, like as if they were using their English "reading" to take the place of the Japanese audio... That's seriously what it seemed like. I doubt these people even listen to the actual Japanese words being spoken...

Anyway, it gets better; I was exhausted after the first day (hell, I got home, and my computer wasn't even working!), and even now (after the second day), I'm getting a small headache, and I /need/ to get some rest now, so I can't even write about today's adventure until tomorrow.

(Part 2)

10 April, 2008

Journal 022

Tekkoshocon is this weekend, and I'm excited, but I have no idea how I'm gonna pull it off. I could just go during the evening, but I really want to get more out of it than that, considering that I haven't been to a /local/ anime con in like 6 years (since before college!). I know it's still no Otakon, but since it's an actual anime convention, it should at least be a lot better than the old Comicon when they still had anime on the side. Furthermore, the con ends early on Sunday, and Friday happens to be an Open Stage this week - and missing the Open Stage is some kind of sin.

I want to go Friday during the day to scout it out, even though such a thing seems impossible. I could be back by dinner and in time to ready myself for the Open Stage (assuming I don't sleep Thursday night...). There's a Silent Hill panel Friday night at midnight, though (here's the schedule), so I'm thinking about going back after the Stage, if possible (might be tricky). As far as the rest of the programming goes, I don't know if there's anything I /have/ to see. The video rooms seem to have quite a variety of titles, most of which will not be playing for more than hour (so it looks like a bunch of tastes of this or that rather than marathon feasts), and I don't think there's anything I absolutely have to see. They've got AMV's running all the time, which should be interesting to check out. And of course, I look forward to browsing the dealer's room. I don't really have any cosplay to wear, but I look forward to seeing other people in costume, and I even heard a rumor that there might be a C.C. or two at the con.

In other news, the glasses place emailed me again, forcing me into the uncomfortable position of having to respond. But the good news is, I think I'll be getting the glasses after all. God, I hope they work out. (And I hope they arrive soon, too.)

I'm finally getting to the end of the third season of Millenium. There've been some really good episodes lately. I love any one where Peter Watts shows up to plant doubt and paranoia and misplaced sympathy. Same for Lucy Butler, but with planting hatred, suspense, and pure evil. There have even been a couple that feel almost X-Files-like, considering that this season has been putting a lot more emphasis on "conspiracy". Agent Hollis has done a great job of being Frank's partner. Considering how close I am to the end, I'm coming to terms with the fact that there's no way this series is gonna deal with all the things I'd love for it to deal with. I mean, ending with the third season? It didn't even reach the millenium! Maybe it's better to leave that plot point open-ended, but still... I don't want to look too much into the circumstances of Millenium's end yet, since I haven't seen it. But I guess all will be revealed, in /some/ form, soon enough.

My Daily Nudes project on flickr has been going pretty well so far. A couple days ago, I did a tribute to a news story I came across where a high school student was denied a prize for her artwork because it depicted [tasteful, discreet, and artistic] nudity. I have to say I'm happy with how well my tribute seems to have come out. The last couple days have been more nudist-oriented shots - normal-type activities done in the nude. Which may not be as artistic, but I like them, because they're like still life's or something, and they promote the cause of casual nudity.

In fact, today I had the /very/ rare opportunity of eating dinner in the nude. One of my brothers was at work, and the other was at a hockey game, and my dad was out of the house later than usual. So he had left a sandwich in the fridge and a note on the kitchen table for me. Coming out of the shower, I remarked at how quiet the house was, since I can usually hear the television(s) on downstairs, and people at dinner. But it was dead silent. So, without getting dressed, I snuck down the stairs all ninja-like, and since not a creature was stirring, I cautiously advanced to the kitchen. Reading the note, I knew I was in the clear. But I was still nervous, because there are a lot of windows around that area of the house (plus that fear of somebody random coming to the door - and seeing in), and I wasn't sure when somebody might come home - and there have been times in the past when I've been surprised that I didn't hear the garage door.

But I was able to enjoy a few bites freely, and made a point not to waste the opportunity to take some shots in the beautiful natural daylight, before getting way too paranoid and throwing something on just in case. It's always a matter of risk assessment in those situations, but had I not gotten so paranoid, I could have spent the entire day in the nude (instead, I only spent about 90% of it as such). Still, a great and rare experience. If only I was more free to just be myself...


On a related note, it was recently that I felt that switch, from the colder climate of winter, to the milder temperatures of spring. It may or may not have anything to do with the weather outside, since I haven't been outside that much lately, but I could definitely feel the difference in my room, when it starts feeling warm. Not hot, not yet, but warm. And you feel an ever stronger desire to take your clothes off to be comfortable.

I was thinking about what it might be like to be more open about my desire to be nude. Not meaning that I would force my nudity on other people, but that if I didn't have to hide from it, then I could be more comfortable about it and do it in my room even when there are other people around, even in the middle of the day. Think about it, I could be nude most of the time, and only have to put something on when I have to interact with others (which, at this stage, is a small percentage of my time). And I wouldn't have to worry about somebody coming in and finding out, because it wouldn't be a secret. And if they didn't like seeing me nude, regardless of who it is, then it's their prerogative to be more careful about disturbing me unannounced.

The issue with that is having to constantly dress and undress. A robe is very easy to put on and take off, but, perhaps ironically, I really hate wearing a robe around other people because it's so informal - it's the thing you wear when you climb out of bed, when you go to the bathroom to take a shower in the morning, when you're feeling sick and have no desire to get dressed - and it just has that dirty, negative connotation for me. If I have to be wearing clothes, I want to wear something that gives me confidence, something that I think looks good, something that people aren't gonna think looks too out of place. I'm liking the idea of button-down shirts more and more these days. They have a certain class, a certain formality, even a sexiness at times, and yet they're much more free-flowing than t-shirts, and they're easier to put on or take off (depending on how much - if any - effort you put into buttoning). I've been considering getting some (more) of those kind of shirts and wearing them more often.

But that still leaves the question of pants. Pajama pants are out of the question, since they have that same homely, vulnerable connotation that the robe suggests. I have a pair of old jeans that are a little tight, and they're pretty good for the job - considering that they boost my sexiness/confidence a great deal - except for the fact that they /are/ kind of tight, particularly in the spot that matters, and not the most comfortable thing for a nudist to wear.

I wish I had more confidence talking about these things. I hate my instincts that sabotage my life and serve as my unchallenged destructors. I don't feel comfortable with anything. My life is a failure, and I'm not suited to exist within society. The thing that bothers me the most is that nobody helped me when I was younger, to make sure that I grew up to be more well-adjusted. Maybe there was nothing they could do - maybe, but I know there are things they could have tried. I understand that it's not their fault, because the one thing I've always been good at is hiding my problems and reflecting attention away from me, but it's done me no good and why couldn't there have been someone to help me, to see through my illusions? There were a few who tried, but it wasn't enough. It's like Seta Sojiro's breakdown when he fights Kenshin. "You say you protect the weak, then why didn't you protect me then, when I needed it?"

I want to say these things, but I don't want to take responsibility for them. I can't stand admitting that I'm human. That I have human emotions, and I worry about human things. Because I'm so removed from regular human existence. I feel that by pretending I'm not human, I can save face, but the instant I accept that I'm human, it's like I'm accepting just how pathetic I am, to be the way I am. The only hope of getting better is to ride straight through the storm, but the storm is the last thing I want to face. It's hopeless.

Imagine, if I admit that I'm human, then that means I need the companionship of friends. So the fact of being all alone is that much harder to bear. If I acknowledge myself as a loner, fundamentally different from other people, then I accept that I'm alone, even if I don't like it. But there's a reason for it. It's not because I don't /have/ friends, but because I don't /need/ them. The truth is, I do need them, but I'm scared of them. And the second I admit that, I'm lost and hopeless and people start laughing at me and rejecting me. I'm sure that's not how it would really happen, but that's irrelevant, because that's the way it happens in my head.

But there's a problem. Every time I've tried to be friendly and social and, gasp, 'normal', I only manage to emphasize the ways in which I am different from the average person. I'm not like most people, and my interests don't quite match up with the averages. And furthermore, I don't really understand how to communicate with people. There's a barrier that I just can't cross, no matter how many times I try. And admitting that kind of a weakness makes me feel embarrassed - which, as far as I'm concerned, is a pain worse than death.

04 April, 2008

Journal 021

My journal-specific entries are old enough to drink now. Not that they will. Everytime I think about writing something, I argue, "what's the point?" It's not like anything has changed. And despite enjoying the rare chance to talk about myself, it does get boring after awhile. Especially with the mundane topics. And the more interesting stuff comes and goes on the whim of inspiration - rarely settling long enough for documentation.

I was just thinking that Chii, from Chobits, is the perfect woman (despite being more like a girl - go figure). She has the loyalty, obedience, and unconditional love of a[n ideal] pet; the multi-usefulness of a super-intelligent robot; and she's more attractive than real, human women (or girls). If I had a persocom like Chii in my life, I wouldn't hesitate for a second falling in love with her and rejecting a human mate. Taking care of her would give me a purpose in life, and as a caring and intelligent companion, I could take her around with me everywhere I go, which would boost my confidence immensely.

It's fitting that just when I started feeling like maybe I could turn my life around, the whole plan crashed and burned in a matter of days, due to a number of factors in and outside of my control. I'm thinking that the major step is the nocturnal/diurnal thing. Being up during the night is my way of avoiding people. "I am the Lord of Darkness; I require the solace of the shadows, and the dark of night." But being up during the day would force me to be around people, and force me out of my comfort zone. Which is exactly why I'm avoiding it. But it's not even that easy, as if that wasn't hard enough. Adjusting a sleep schedule like that is tough. I've been nocturnal for two years now, and there are only rewards (immediate, not long-term) to be had for staying nocturnal. Going diurnal, on the other hand, is a major struggle - physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I don't think those glasses are coming. I ordered them, and then I got an email requesting my PD, which I entered into my account/profile when I ordered the glasses. If they're too stupid to check the program that they created to get the information they need, then they don't deserve my business. Even if it means I have to continue being pathetically blind. Actually, I'm just not gonna go out of my way to tell these people something they already know.

I don't even know what the point of writing these things is if nobody reads them. There's a horror movie coming out called Ruins. I read an article about it in Fango months ago, and it looked interesting. Just interesting. But the trailer is exciting. I'm thinking about seeing it. I still have some Destinta bucks from Christmas. Considering that the last movie I went out to see was Cloverfield in January.

Tekkoshocon is just a week away. I'm excited. It should be fun. Although no comparison to an anime con like Otakon, but I think it should at least be better than the Comicon was, since now it's focused directly on anime, and not wasting its resources on comic crap. I don't mean to offend, but that just reminded me of a funny thing that happened at the Comicon last year, before I realized they had expunged the anime programming in favor of a separate con (why didn't anyone tell me?!). We were sitting at a table eating some con food, and I said something like, "comics are lame." And then I realized it probably wasn't the most appropriate place to be making a comment like that. I don't think anyone else heard it, though.

Who knows. It'd be nice if I had some anime friends, though. It'd be nice if I had any friends at all. At least it would be an excuse - one that I could honor - to get out of the house and do stuff. I'd love to have concert friends, too, but the people that go see the bands I like to see are either 20+ years older than me, or are heavy drinkers (or both).

As much as I'd like to have friends, I have no interest in making friends. People are way too much of a bother. I don't want people bugging me about stuff. But I want people to talk to about interesting things. It's so troublesome. I'm afraid to put myself in a position of weakness or unfamiliarity. I'm trapped, bound by my own chains. I want - no, I need somebody to help me, because the only thing I've learned in my life is that I'm hopeless on my own. But I'd be afraid to ask, even if I knew the right person to ask (assuming such a person exists). I don't deserve to have somebody to help me. Everybody else is going through life conquering their own problems. What have I ever accomplished? I'm a useless human being with wasted potential. Nobody owes me anything. And I don't have the motivation to do anything about it. I was betrayed by my own ideal in the end. "Drown in your ideals and die." And now I'm a faded shadow of a person. There's no hope left but to stubbornly cling onto fantasies, which is the only thing I'm any good at. 

Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. They became enlightened to the truth of the depressing state of existence. Their innocent happiness was gone forever. God was compassionate in ejecting the couple from the garden, for if they were to eat also from the Tree of Life, then they would become like God himself - knowing the futility of life, but having not the power to end it. God would not wish such a cruel fate even on his enemies. And so, the years passed, and Adam and Eve were eventually freed from the unrewarding effort of living, and their offspring carried on the cycle of life, for it was believed that even a pained life was worth experiencing - so long as there was eventual release.

After many years of watching over the suffering of man, God devised a plan to try and bring back some of the innocence and happiness they had lost forever when Adam and Eve made their fateful blunder. If truth had opened their eyes to the desolation of the universe, God had but to create an illusion to distract them. This illusion came in the form of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus' sacrifice, God was able to convince man that they could return to the state of dumb bliss that Adam and Eve experienced before enlightenment, by conconcting an elaborate lie of life after death, in which the tables were turned - that man could live forever, but in a state of ignorant euphoria, as if he had tasted only of the fruit of the Tree of Life, and never that of the Tree of Knowledge. The followers of God continued to preach this vision of the afterlife, and the people were deceived, and became happier for that deception. Thus, God felt a little better about his creation.

But there are still some people in this world who have a natural predilection for the bitter taste of that fruit of knowledge, and prefer it even to the sweet fig of life. These people condemn themselves for their preference, but it's not truly their fault. It's only a matter of imperfection in God's creation. It's natural for man to seek the power of God, but where some are able to grasp the concept of eternal happiness, others are drawn self-destructively toward the glowing light of knowledge. But, though they may deem themselves wiser for it, it is truly a fool's path. Yet they still must walk it, unhappily, until the day comes when God's mercy shines down on them, and their existence is wiped null for the rest of eternity.

That was far more interesting than the earlier crap.

03 April, 2008

Sometimes Titles Are Just Counterproductive

Today I watched an anime film titled "5 Centimeters Per Second", by the celebrated Makoto Shinkai. It's a very depressing story told in three parts. There's no death, disease, war, hatred, physical pain - it's all about the emotional pain that exists in that ever-growing space between people. Specifically, a boy and girl become friends in elementary school, but they drift apart over time - not for want of separation, but due to the inevitable circumstances of life. Blame the calling of The Division Bell, if you will.

I wonder about nostalgia, and its purpose. But more importantly, what do you call it when you have nostalgia for experiences that have never occurred in your life? Regular nostalgia includes a longing for a state of being that has passed - but at the same time, there's that comfort in knowing that you were once there, that it was once a reality for you. But what happens when you feel nostalgia for a fantasy? When you can imagine something infinitely beautiful, and your heart longs to experience it, but it lies outside your reach?

How come fantasy is so much better than reality? I see things in fiction that are beautiful, and then I compare them to my experience of reality, and I can't help but become depressed. I see things I want to experience, things that would enrich my life, but I can't touch them. I can imagine scenes of "the perfect childhood", "young love", "true happiness with friends", but they elude me.

In 5cm/s, the boy and girl share a romantic kiss in the snow, and at this one magic moment, they realize simultaneously the perfection of their connection, and the incompassionate truth of reality - that they cannot live their lives together. After years of forced separation, they even end up in the same place, but they couldn't be farther from each other. And yet, each one secretly yearns for one thing, which they understand is impossible, and that's to have had a chance for fate to have allowed their happiness together.

What do you do in the face of that realization? That your life was wasted, that you missed out on your chance for perfection, and that there was never anything you could do to change it. What was the point? You were one of the many bad eggs that didn't pass quality control, so now what meaning does your existence have? To live in misery? To gain cheap satisfaction from an illusion of lies? The only thing that has any meaning for you is that ideal, of living that perfection. But no matter what angle you look at it, there's no way for you to break in. So what can you do? What do you do? What will you do?