Mystery Blogger Award from Ospreyshire

Well, once again, I find myself tagged with a Mystery Blogger Award – this time, courtesy of Ospreyshire. Outside of video games, you don’t see many creative types who actually acknowledge international efforts these days, so I’d say his is a blog worth following. He asked five questions from me, so let’s dive right in.


1. Where would you like to visit that you’ve never been to before?

There are so many places I want to visit, I would barely know where to begin. Seven years ago, I got to visit both Shanghai and the Kanto region of Japan. I would really like to visit Western Europe – particularly Madrid, London, Rome, and Paris. The sheer amount of history and culture those countries have make then very enticing. Then again, a trip to South Korea would be great as well. Really, I just like the idea of traveling in general.

2. What is one movie, TV show, and/or book that you can’t stand, but everyone else likes?

Between the mediums I’m familiar with, films seem to have the highest number of disappointing critical darlings. Low points would include Upgrade, District 9, The Last Jedi, and every other A24 film I’ve seen (i.e. Hereditary, Gloria Bell, The Witch, and Ex Machina). Many people admire the late 2010s for having taken more chances and A24 in particular for having given directors more of an auteur voice, but in many of those cases, it’s like giving the microphone to highly talkative person who has nothing interesting to say. It doesn’t help that the indie film scene was left in the dust by what indie game developers have accomplished in the past five years.

I’ve had a better track record for shows because I tend not to get into them until after they’ve run their course and the ones that do plummet in quality tend to have self-contained episodes (i.e. The Simpsons), meaning the damage is highly localized. Regardless, my answer for that medium would be The Strain. I’m not sure how much it was admired, but I felt that show got way more praise than it deserved. It’s strange because I actually like Guillermo del Toro as a director, having made the best film of 2017 (The Shape of Water), but that show just did not work.

If we’re talking traditional literature, I don’t think I really have an answer. In high school, we were made to read stuff like My Ántonia and The Great Gatsby. While I can’t say I enjoyed them, I find I tend to respect them despite not being especially fond of them. I could answer Twilight… if I actually read those books, but I don’t like to judge works I personally have not experienced (plus, I don’t really get the sense that people really talk about those books nowadays). If we expand books to graphic novels, then I sort of have an answer: Devilman. It’s the first manga I managed to read all the way through, and I was rather underwhelmed. I appreciate the impact it has had on manga artists, but it doesn’t change that the plot goes way too fast and ends in a very anticlimactic fashion. Interestingly, even people who like it seem to find the ending a bit of a point of contention. The expanded version adds what amounts to a directionless second act that doesn’t add anything significant to the plot. It’s not bad, but most of what I liked about it I felt was done better in later works such as the Shin Megami Tensei series.

3. If you could invent a language, what would you call it and how would you teach it to the world?

I’m not sure what I’d call it, but I would want the language to convey a lot of information in the fewest number of syllables as possible. I would also want it to appear reasonably short in writing so the information can be transferred from person to person almost instantly. If the language somehow managed to beam the relevant experience into the minds of others, that would be a good bonus. I’m not sure if it’s actually possible to construct a language with such strict parameters, but you never know.

4. What is one interest or hobby that you never thought you would get into?

I never really considered myself a comic book person, but recently, I’ve really gotten into them. I tend to favor ones that tell definite stories over ones centered around superheroes that go on forever, though I have found one-shot stories such as Batman: White Knight interesting reads. I’ve also really gotten into manga lately, and I’m currently following series such as One-Punch Man and Berserk. The latter has recently seen a rerelease in these cool deluxe omnibuses that encompass three volumes apiece. Even better, another one I’m interested in reading, Hellsing, is getting a similar treatment this coming July. Plus, I have to say I kinda get a kick out of reading right-to-left; it’s a little difficult at first, but it’s surprisingly easy once you’ve gotten enough practice.

5. How do you want to improve as a person?

Personally, I think the best way to do that is to avoid getting complacent. One way to do that is to write in a way that encourages discussion. I’ve been disappointed in many prominent content creators because they settle for telling their audiences exactly what they want to hear.

Not pictured: Passion

To wit, I remember watching a surprisingly good video made by culture critic Jonathan McIntosh that explains the myriad unfortunate implications present in The Big Bang Theory. However, his main failing is that he then applies his singular train of thought (which usually involves critiquing masculinity in culture) into absolutely everything he talks about. At best, his videos are highly repetitive. At worst, he outright jams square pegs into round holes with his video of The Last Jedi being especially bad. He and the likes of Owen Gleiberman, Bob Chipman, and Patrick Willems, stand as an examples of the kind of passionless creators I want to actively avoid becoming. When you stop considering other viewpoints, you will stagnate very quickly due to a lack of self-reflection. That’s why I’m thankful for the elaborate comments my readers provide me on a regular basis.


Here are the blogs I will tag:

Here are the questions you get to answer:

  1. What is the most unusual work you’ve ever experienced?
  2. What is the best work you have experienced that no one else seems to know about?
  3. If you could go back in time and go to the premiere of a classic film, which one would you choose?
  4. If you decided to write fiction, which genre would you choose?
  5. What is the most disappointingly predictable plot twist you’ve ever experienced?
  6. What do you consider to be the strangest title for a work?
  7. Where in a theater do you prefer to sit?
  8. Do you have any graphic novel/manga series you’re currently following?
  9. When it comes to reviewing films, which do you feel are more effective – traditional, written reviews or video essays?
  10. What aspects of old-school game design do you wish would make a comeback?
  11. What aspects of old-school game design are you glad went away?

48 thoughts on “Mystery Blogger Award from Ospreyshire

  1. Great job with the award post and thanks for the namedrop. I definitely agree with you about District 9 and was shocked about how many people loved that movie. What saddened me was how people who watched it with me didn’t know anything about apartheid which made me facepalm. It was so crazy and watching the documentary Cold Case Hammerskjöld made the parallels a lot harsher in hindsight.

    You had some very interesting answers for those questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit that I myself didn’t really know about the Apartheid era back when I watched it. It’s probably why when I saw it the first time, I thought it was pretty good. However, when I heard one particularly vocal detractor out, I realized I’d been had. It’s one of those films that is absolutely guilty of shaping a fictional universe to serve the message; humans act the way they do in the film to maintain the message’s integrity, and not because it makes any kind of diegetic sense. On some level, I do kind of respect how it has way more ambition than most indie films nowadays, but it loses all of its goodwill and then some by having had such a negative impact on both science fiction as a whole and the art of critical analysis. Indeed, I can believe that this is the film that taught critics to accept poorly written films simply because they line up with their viewpoints. Because of this, I consider it to be one of the worst acclaimed films of all time alongside those other films I mentioned.

      And I’ve never heard of Cold Case Hammerskjöld, though it sounds interesting.

      Glad you liked my answers! Thanks for the tag.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s fine. I was referring to people who literally knew nothing about that part of South Africa’s history even though it still went on during our lifetimes when we were children (context: I was in college when District 9 came out and there were upperclassman who watched it with us). While I never considered myself an expert on that part of history, I knew the movie oversimplified the ramifications of those laws, and I was not a fan of how they made the black South Africans look savage with them wanting to harvest the alien parts. I did think the cinema verite approach was fascinating, but I wasn’t a fan of the plot and worldbuilding. Also, the name of the movie is a reference to District 6 which was one of the worst ghettos in Cape Town during Apartheid time where the natives were forced from their original homes to move their via segregation laws. You do bring up some reasons I didn’t even think about with critics giving movies a free pass because it lines up with their viewpoints in that regard.

        It was a brutal expose of sorts and there’s a “plot twist” in this docudrama/expose piece that involves an ex-apartheid soldier who confesses something that was chilling as well as proving some people right about what really went down in South Africa. That’s all I’ll say about that even though that fact got some news traction when it premiered on Sundance.

        No problem and thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeez, I didn’t even think of that when I reviewed it, but you are absolutely right. That Mr. Blomkamp would make District 9 an allegory for the Apartheid era only to essentially lump the oppressed, indigenous people in with the corrupt scientists and executives bares many, many unfortunate implications that defeat the entire purpose of the film. It basically says “sympathize with these people even though they’re no better than the powers that be”.

          That’s what tends to happen when you are so laser-focused on the primary theme you wish to beat into your audience’s head; you lack the critical reflection required to weed these backwards-looking ideas out in other aspects of your work. The Last Jedi had the exact same problem, coming across as rather authoritarian and right-leaning because of certain story beats despite trying to combat that very line of thinking. Both works and others like them are disasters when it comes to world building.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks for seeing where I was coming from in that regard. Blomkamp is even from Johannesburg and should’ve definitely known better especially when you consider how he was born in 1979 and the Apartheid regime ended in 1994. The portrayal of the events in District 9 came off as a false equivalency strawman with the different parties involved (the scientists, executives, the general Afrikaner/Boer [white South African] population, the indigenous South Africans, and the aliens) that are counterproductive. It leads to glaring unfortunate implications and that was a good way to describe it.

            Exactly! It becomes problematic as it is didactic in the execution of the worldbuilding, characterization, and storytelling. I haven’t seen The Last Jedi even though I heard that it made a giant schism in the Star Wars fandom. I could go on with other examples of various movies, but that could be a chore.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yeah, there was no excuse for succumbing to such extreme tunnel vision. It really does make me wonder why he didn’t just ditch the metaphors entirely and make a film about the Apartheid era itself; it’s not as though there is a dearth of interesting stories to tell. As you suggest, he just reduced a complicated era to a trite strawman affair, thus cheapening his work at the best of times (at the worst times, those unfortunate implications flare up).

              Honestly, you’re not missing out on much by skipping the sequel trilogy entirely; it started off with some promise only to squander that goodwill in some of the dumbest ways imaginable. I am definitely a fan of worldbuilding when it’s done well, but it only exists to hammer a message into your audience’s head, why bother? Worlds aren’t defined by one or two concepts, and to imply otherwise is to ignore entire swaths of information.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Of course. The story did have potential, but the portrayal was problematic. You bring up a good point as to why he couldn’t do a period piece about the Apartheid era. Despite my issues with Invictus, at least they got multiple elements right with the times in that country even if some things were simplified for a mainstream American audience. It really was an oversimplification for a very harsh aspect that was a part of South African history where you have even Millenials who are old enough to have lived through it when they were children. It really was a painful reduction in hindsight that does allow those unfortunate implications to rise.

                That’s good to know. I’ve seen parts of The Force Awakens at work in the breakroom (apparently, it’s on TNT a lot), but I didn’t think it was too interesting besides the production. I’m with you when people hammer a message with the worldbuilding. Even if I agree with the message, it annoys me when it’s so overt about it. Subtlety really helps! As an author, I definitely agree with how worlds can have multiple concepts and even interpretations. I try to do that with my book series.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Yeah, you can’t oversimplify a system that lasted for so long without removing nuance – even an objectively flawed one such as the Apartheid. In doing that, Mr. Blomkamp defeated the entire purpose of his narrative. I myself was very young when it came to an end. For that matter, the 1990s was an interesting decade in how it saw many significant disruptions to the status quo between the collapse of the Soviet Union to Andrew Wiles proving Fermat’s Last Theorem.

                Sadly, contemporary critics can’t get enough of that kind of heavy-handed writing. It can be effective, but when it isn’t and the offending work still gets praise, it discourages thoughtful writing; it’s probably why films are lagging so far behind other mediums.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Of course. So much of that subtlety and nuance was lost in District 9 and even other period pieces from that time frame. Mr. Blomkamp did a disservice that way when he made that movie. Same here as I didn’t know about it until years afterward and even then that information was limited since the school history books didn’t go far in-depth with it. I could go on how African history and cultures are minimized or misrepresented in Western education and in the media, but that’s another conversation. It is interesting how you had so many disruptions in the 90s like those things you mentioned.

                That really is a shame as those movies become echo chambers to the critics. There are so many films nowadays or even movies that were released during my lifetime that are problematic, but still get praised. I certainly agree with you there.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh, I may have to answer the language question, too because I *kinda* created one for my first novel hehe. I agree with you about becoming complacent and falsely applying one concept to everything. I’m a bit guilty of that, though I do see patterns in places and tend to notice the ubiquity of things, but it never hurts to have a fresh perspective and discourse about why things are the same/different.

    Thank you for tagging me! I really need to catch up on my blogger tags, since I’m acquiring a bit of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Did you, now? What did you call it? I think by virtue of writing about a variety of topics, you’ve done a good job staying out of that abyss of creative stagnation. Then again, so have most of the people in this blogosphere.

      You’re welcome! Hope you enjoy answering these questions!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the tag! I’m glad to hear about the love for comics/manga! I got my hands on that first omnibus of Berserk too and love staring at its beauty and have yet to crack it open and take off the plastic wrapping on it. 😀 Hope you get to read some good ones throughout the year. 🙂 Oh and I also vouch for Paris and London. I enjoyed my time there on my one and only visit to each. Definitely would love to visit again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! And I can kind of understand that, but the way I see it, books are meant to be read. Not reading them would be a disservice to their existence (unless the book in question sucks, of course). I’ve gotten through the first seven volumes and have been impressed with what I’ve read so far. I would also keep my eye on that Hellsing omnibus as well; looks like Dark Horse comics was inspired by the success of Berserk and they might give other series that same treatment!

      And I would definitely like to visit those cities. Interestingly, Tokyo ended up being the first world capital I ever visited.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the tag! I have more than one of these to get to, but I’ll definitely answer your questions. Not much else to do now once work is done.

    All those content creators you mention in answer #5 certainly seem passionless, or else they’re just 100% ideological in their thinking. They seem to approach works not with open minds, but rather with their minds made up about how they should feel going into it. Just pounding that square peg into the round hole so it fits, who cares about other viewpoints or the author’s intent or any of that. I can’t take the views of someone like that seriously, I don’t care how big their reputation is.

    Of course, we’re not immune to that either as you suggest. Especially when we make it big as writers and get millions of readers around the world — we can’t get lazy then!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! Yeah, I let tags pile up myself, but fortunately, I’ve got them sorted out. My answer for your tag awhile back will be posted Saturday.

      Lack of passion doesn’t even begin to describe those content creators. Critics need to be good persuasive writers, and I never feel compelled to check out what they and their ilk enjoy. As flawed as it is, the reason I look at Rotten Tomatoes is because I find the consensus is more helpful for determining what to watch than their individual opinions, which either don’t stand out or stand out for bad reasons. It’s especially bad in the case of Johnathan McIntosh, who flat-out fabricated evidence in his defense of The Last Jedi (up to and including pronouncing a character’s name wrong) and really failed to think through his implications, essentially making up his audience’s mind as to why they felt the way they did. It was, to say the least, extremely dishonest.

      And no, it’s wrong to think we’re immune. If we’re not careful, we could easily end up like any of them. If either of us make it big like that, let’s be sure to keep each other in check.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats and thanks for the tag!

    I started answering the first unusual work I’ve ever experienced with oh I was an elf in Santa’s Village and then I read number two and realized… that’s probably not what you meant 🙂 I’ll have to think about that for awhile!

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Yo! Comic Books! They’ve been another one of the big things I’ve been into for the past while. And strangely, I’ve been finding myself really interested in Berserk of late as well. Apparently, not enough to plunk money down on actually getting them yet, but it’s coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s a little ironic that I only ended up getting into comics as an adult. I get the feeling that most people who collect comic books as adults liked them as kids, though I wonder if that’s actually true. Then again, I had admittedly dabbled in them before; back in the late 1990s, I got a Pokemon manga volume after reading the chapters included in the VHS tapes, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I seriously got into comics. Interestingly, they were printing manga left-to-right back then; I remember the first time I ended up reading a manga right-to-left; it was a one-shot Pokemon Mystery Dungeon manga that ran in Nintendo Power in 2006/2007. It was a bit difficult to get used to, but it would serve me well much later; I still get a kick out of seeing the pages on the left side.

      I ended up getting into Berserk when I learned that Dark Souls was heavily inspired by it. I thought to check it out when I was getting ready to review Dark Souls because I wanted the full context – that and a coworker recommended it to me. I’m about seven volumes in, and I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far; it certainly is a dark fantasy in the truest sense of the term, so I can see why it’s so popular. I’ve also got my eye on that Hellsing omnibus because I’ve heard great things about that as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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    • Thanks! Ospreyshire certainly asked some interesting questions. A lot of people have expressed that disliking a sacred cow is difficult, but I’ve found it to be reality easy all things considered. Really, all you need to do is remain civil.

      Like

    • Thank you! Did you, now? I wonder if there was something about them I missed? What really lost me was how long it took for the populace to catch onto the vampire threat given that it was about as subtle as a stick to the eye. Maybe the books were indeed better?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks so much for the tag! 🙂 You had so many interesting answers to your questions. It was fun reading through them.
    I agree, it’s amazing how quickly you can used to reading right-to-left. I started reading manga when I was a kid so it’s so ingrained in my head to flip pages that way that I often prefer to start at the back and move to the front of most art collection books where it doesn’t matter what order I view the art in. 😛
    That’s awesome that you’re finding comics you’re really enjoying. Some people aren’t willing to venture into that medium of storytelling if they didn’t grow up loving it as kids because they associate comics as being “for kids” or something only “nerdy weirdos” are into. lol I always love seeing people find enjoyment in them later on. 🙂
    Also, loved the answer you gave for the language question. It makes a lot of sense and was an interesting take on that question. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, and I’m glad you liked my answers! I’ve been reading manga for a little over a year, and I still get a kick out of the fact that the pages are on the left side. Those hardcover ones are especially cool; I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on those Hellsing deluxe volumes. I didn’t really read much manga growing up, but I did get practice when a short manga series based on Pokemon Mystery Dungeon ran in Nintendo Power magazine. Through that, I learned how to read right-to-left.

      Those people who dismiss comics as kids/weirdo stuff are missing out on a lot of interesting stories with that mentality. And I’m not the type to bash things I haven’t personally experienced. If anything, I would argue comics/manga are even better for conveying stories than traditional literature because it subscribes to the age-old axiom “show, don’t tell”. The only downside is that they take a much longer time to create.

      I think it’s interesting how people go about constructing fictional languages. There’s a French progressive rock band named Magma that were famous for having done just that in their songs.

      Liked by 1 person

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