Hip Hop Hooray

When I was a shitty little kid I used to call boys who were mean to me at school lesbians. I thought it was insulting because not only was that person a girl, they were also gay. That’s like double word score for a playground insult.

But it took me until my teenage years to finally meet one of these fabled gays in the hyper-Christian suburbs. Thank you, high school theater. And you know what I discovered? Gay people are just normal people with a different taste in certain things. That’s it.

Twenty years later, the Supreme Court appears to have finally taken a theater class in high school and I could not be happier.

Happy gay marriage day everyone!

-Bearshaman

Some Rambling on Writing

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You know that whole thing about writing every day and how everybody should do it?

I’m not sure I really agree with that. I mean, I’m sure it works for some people.

But I tend to think it’s more like muscle training: occasionally, you have to give it a rest. If you don’t, your muscles don’t recover properly and your progress doesn’t properly get saved.

Not to say that I wouldn’t love to be able to write something I could fall in love with every day of my life.

Another big factor in my experience is inspiration. If you don’t experience life, you can’t write about it. You can’t glean the glimmers if you never stumble upon them.

Not to mention there’s that whole being able to achieve a proper flow state thing. The key to unlocking a flow state at will seems to be squirreling itself into new hiding places around my brain each time I think I’ve got a firm grip on it.

In other news, I’m reading Redshirts right now and it’s hella good. My first Scalzi book.

Anyhow, done rambling.

Have a continually and increasingly groovy day!

-Bearshaman

Accidentally Book Collecting- Cambridge Book of Poetry and Song

I am kind of an accidental collector of old books.

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Even the beat-up ones.

I’ve always loved books, but within the last year I’ve also become a near-daily buyer and seller of them out of necessity. It’s certainly not the worst job I’ve had.

As I paw through bins and shelves I snap up pictures of random books that I think are worth laughing at later because I am easily entertained. (Cheesy and old sci-fi/fantasy covers are a never-ending source of joy for me.)

And I’ve also started a collection of various items people used as bookmarks in the books I get. Maybe I will put together a collage of them one day.

But I also find books with unique properties I can get behind, and I am just as likely to snatch those up and take them home physically as well–not to sell or trade–just for me. I don’t plan on it, but it happens anyway.

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Recently, I picked up an 1882 copy of the Cambridge Book of Poetry and Song.

I like it and plus it smells nice. It also has a very curious message written from the gifter to the giftee on the first blank page:

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I love finding these messages, and this might be my favorite so far.

A little Google-fu shows that Carrie Stevens Walter was a poet as well as a teacher, although I have never read any of her books.

But that message just is just too damn charming. Also, I love that “Strong, young manhood” meant something completely different back in 1896.

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The editor also dedicates the book to the memory of their recently deceased friend, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. RIP man. RIP.

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The portrait is nice, too.
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I’m also digging the bleed on the page opposite.

Now, I have no issue with internets or Kindles or whatever when it comes to simply reading.
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But there is something immense and irreplaceable about holding a nice, old book.

Suisun Valley Review 2015 Release Reading Emcee Opening Monologue

A Sermon on the Importance of Creating Things

Hello.

Art. Visual art. The written word.

Creativity.

Someone might hear these words all their life and not once find that they conjure up: images of Cordelia, with its thing for pleasant breezes; or West Texas street in Fairfield, begging to be eaten up and down and across its mom-and-pop food joints; or the hills and adjacent lagoon in Vacaville, all locked up under that unforgiving heat; or the way the sea itself finds an almost-domestication against the waterfronts of Suisun and Vallejo.

Most people hear the word creativity and they probably think of Berkeley, Davis, San Francisco, Saramento, Portland, or some other major city and art hub. And who could blame them? Those places are well-known for a reason.

But, judging by this room today, I’d say we’re giving people reason to think a little closer.

If you’re here, that means one of a few things: you create things, you want to create things, or your English teacher made attendance mandatory.

Whatever the reason, we hope you enjoy the events of the next hour or so, as we celebrate the written word and visual art today, with the release of this (book).

Thirty-two issues. SVR is old—officially older than three-quarters of its editors.

And that is a beautiful problem to have, isn’t it?

See, SVR is not a required class. It’s optional. Sure, it counts towards an English degree, should you want it to, but it’s not English 1 or anything.

The continuing existence of SVR today—as well as Solano’s English program, its creative writing program, its visual arts programs, theater, music, and Club Floetry—is fervent testimony that creativity is far from dead at Solano.

And that’s a good thing.

Because the world has always been a terrifying place. Wars, famine, natural disasters, slavery, and especially hatred have always had their unwelcome places at humanity’s table:

and for some reason, they still do.

The mixed blessing that is the incorporation of the internet into every aspect of our reality has only lengthened the distance that has always existed between humans.

But the way this world is might be the single most important reason that everyone must continue to create.

For it is through creation that we as humans continually discover not only who we are, but who others are, and maybe even glean a little insight as to what the hell is up with this crazy world we live in.

There is comfort in creation. Sure, it’s a masochistic kind of comfort, but it still counts. Putting the right words in the right order, or the feeling of friction you get when you slide a burnt piece of wood across a blank eighteen by twenty-four page—things like that are magic.

And that makes you a wizard.

But seriously, the urge to create is a beautiful burden. Don’t resist it.

And it doesn’t matter what your job title is. You are not defined by your job.

You are defined by who you really are and what you make.

You could align yourself with an ancient legacy of warmongers, pain-for-profit capitalists, and politicians.

Or, you could choose to create, and align yourself with the legacy of Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Picasso, The Brontes, Wolf, Chekhov, Chandler, Cheever, Carver. Duvall. Schmitz.

It is your responsibility now to put a smile on the face of the cynical archaeologist who will one day unearth your remains. You can restore their faith in humanity.

Thank you.

-Bearshaman

Demon and Dark

For some reason I’ve been spending the majority of my free time lately in Boletaria, making new characters and seeing how quickly I can run through the first three-quarters of Demon’s Souls. I never make it the whole way through though. I enjoy the freshness of beginnings too much, I think, and I’m too indecisive to stick to a certain weapon or build for the full duration of the game.

I’ve been doing an awful lot of thinking about the Souls games lately.

Demon’s Souls was the game that both made me buy a PS3 and restored my faith in video games; and Dark Souls 1 and 2 were the only day-one gaming purchases I’ve made in the last five years.

The atmospheric layer of Demon’s Souls has faded away for me; at this point it’s more of a zen exercise, like speedrunning Ninja Gaiden for the NES. It’s all become rhythm and knowing when to pause and when to swing and where to go first and where to go second: it is a dance with steps that can be memorized and improvised within the set of rules established by the game itself.

I wrote an essay about the first boss of Dark Souls for an in-class assignment, and it ended up being one of the longest pieces I’ve written in some time.

“Listening to one’s body is very important,” a man who wanted to sell me professionally priced protein powder once told me. And you’re right, Vitamin World guy.

My body wants me to write about video games and I will listen to my body.

Probably after finals, though.

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I re-cut that trailer using footage from the original trailer that had the song I disliked when it was originally released in 2013. Even though Dark Souls 2 ended up being quite the disappointment for me, I am happy I got the chance to combine two of my deepest loves together into one product: cheesy power metal and Souls.