Holiday Special

Happy holidays, everyone! If you’re looking for something different to watch instead of or in addition to the old holiday classics, might I suggest The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special? It’s heartwarming, cheeky, and fun. Its time-traveling shenanigans don’t make a whole lot of sense, but Star Wars, especially its Lego alternate version, doesn’t always make sense. No deeper analysis here; this was a cute little movie appropriate for the whole Star Wars-loving family, and it’s far more watchable than the non-Lego version.

Going Pew-Pew: A Revision

I decided to change the site header a bit. When I first started the blog, I’d run through some jokey names with my wife, including the one we settled on, “Overthinking Things Going Pew-Pew.” I liked the implication that everything I was writing was a little overblown and self-important. I liked what I perceived as somewhat self-aware winking at the idea that I knew I was spending way too much time thinking about pop culture interests.

The thing is that plenty of people are thinking and writing and podcasting and recording video series about many of these same topics! I’m hardly overthinking these things, I’m just part of a vast sea of people obsessing over the pop culture topics they’ve become invested in. At some point, I began to see “overthinking” as something of a humble-brag, though I’d never intended it that way, as though I was indicating I had some special level of insight or devotion. It also seemed more and more dissonant with the types of blog posts I tend to produce, which are often rather light and airy, not over-detailed analyses. There was a time in my life when I did lean toward the latter, mostly before I’d considered blogging at all. I find I don’t have the time or energy (or even the smarts) anymore for those sorts of posts ordinarily, and this blog long settled into me just writing about things I like (or happened to dislike, from time to time).

It also appeared to me that I wasn’t really limited to a narrow focus anymore–if I ever really had been, that is. I write about sci-fi and fantasy sometimes (all too often big IPs like Star Wars or Jurassic Park), but I found over time that my focus was broadening, volatile, hopefully eclectic. I wasn’t “overthinking” any one thing, just mulling over a lot of different subjects. Anything of interest to me eventually gets folded into the site in some form, whether that subject of interest is crime dramas or ufology and cryptozoology or paleontology or Filipino film or whatever else I might be spending time with in a given week. While I’d always intended this to very much so be a personal blog, I’d tried at first to keep somewhat of a narrow topical lens, but over time, I couldn’t help but have the site reflect who I am as a person: someone with a breadth of interests, rather than someone with particular depths of unique focus. As I’ve come to recognize that shift, I’ve allowed more and more of my interests to leak in, and I expect that the site will become even more varied as I continue this process of relaxation into self here. (If there’s something I want to try to incorporate more than anything else in 2021, it’d be dabbling in some of the fiction I’ve suggested on this site for a while now.)

Another thing that bugged me about the name of the blog was that it was just a bit too long. There was a reason I’d settled on goingpewpew.com as the site URL. It would be nice to have a punchier name. To say “pew pew” is common onomatopoeia. Kids might use it when playing make-believe with their toys. Adults might use the same phrase in an attempt to do the same thing, if with a bit of acknowledgement of their childishness. My wife’s always been a fan of that component of the title. When I considered changing things up, she took the opportunity to point out that the common core phrase worked just fine.

So here I am: “Going Pew-Pew.” It’s enough. It reflects what I hope is often a whimsical, childlike (or childish) engagement with the stories and ideas that I’m most interested in. That’s what I think the site’s become, and it’s how I hope it will stay.

With the change of the title, I felt the subtitle needed a refresh. “Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Video Games, and Other Miscellany” felt a bit clunky, simultaneously too much and too little. I figured I’d instead grab two of the things that draw me most: spaceships and dinosaurs. The rest could all get swept up in that miscellaneous category.

All that said, welcome to the newly renamed “Going Pew-Pew: Spaceships, Dinosaurs, and Other Miscellany.”

Out with the old, in with the new–thank god

I’m glad to see that Joe Biden appears to be set to be the next President of the United States, but I’m really, really, really thrilled to see that Donald Trump appears to be approaching the end of his presidency after one term, leaving a legacy as an impeached president who lost the popular vote twice. It’s disappointing to see that so many people still clung to Trump to the bitter end, whether because they liked his personality or liked his policies or liked his implicit (and sometimes not-so-implicit) blessing to openly foment white nationalist domestic terrorism or simply because they always voted Republican. And while our antiquated, autocratic electoral college system (and delays in processing and counting absentee votes) made the election seem way closer than it should have been, Biden did have more votes for him than for any other president ever, so that’s something.

While we’ve still got a couple months to play out while Trump and his allies insist he won as they pursue pointless and mostly meritless litigation, and while we might be looking at another Republican-majority Senate playing eternal opposition party, and while I’m already over the hot takes from centrists and “moderate” Republicans that the lesson Dems should learn is to cooperate with them yet again rather than build on and listen to their progressive base, I’m feeling hopeful about the future. That’s a good Sunday feeling.

Level 100 in RFA; no post next week

I’m going to a virtual professional conference this week, and I’m going to be using some of today and a lot of this week’s evenings to catch up on some normal work stuff. So I don’t think I’ll have a post at all next weekend, and this weekend I don’t really have the motivation to write anything longer than this.

I do, however, want to call attention to the fact that I’ve now surpassed Level 100 in Ring Fit Adventure. Woohoo! I’ve actually made it to level 101, because my last fight today was against some Rare Hoplins, whose beefy experience drop was heightened further by the use of an experience-enhancing potion. So I jumped from 99 to 101 by the end of that encounter. But it’s not as eventful a milestone, so I’m here to celebrate LEVEL 100!!

Voting today

I voted today, on the first day I could. My employer allowed everyone to take time off to vote–paid time that would not be counted as time off! Pretty incredible of them, and it made the wait I was facing easier. The line outside already wrapped around three sides of the city-county building and did a zigzag course up and down half a block on the furthest side. It took about four hours for me to vote, but I did. A LOT of people did. And many people were out there trying to make sure people stuck it out, volunteers handing out water bottles and chips and pizza. I declined it all; the one thing I needed was a restroom, and the county did not make any available to the public. In a last insult, a security guard just outside the polls informed me that public restrooms in the building were only open to those who went through a security entrance, not those in line to vote. In short, enthusiastic volunteers did a lot to encourage voters, while the government (outside of its representatives in the form of hardworking poll workers) was apathetic at best.

Regardless, for me, it’s done! I hope everyone who can vote in the elections has a plan to do so.

Voting

The deadline to register to vote for the November 3rd election in Indiana is October 5, 2020.

You can learn important voting deadlines in your state, check if you’re registered and see how to register if needed, and explore options for voting by mail or in person here or here.

I hope this will not matter for anyone reading this because you’ve already registered and have a plan for when and how to vote. But to paraphrase the host of a much bigger fan blog, we can’t leave any stone unturned right now.

A time for some contemplation, then action

I actually had a post scheduled for today. A lighthearted celebration of recent characterizations of Harley Quinn in TV and film. That post can wait until next week. I think this weekend is a good time to reflect on the legacy of the second female justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. I also think it’s a good time to consider what actions we might want to take as we contemplate our nation’s future.

This message isn’t unique or original. I’m not trying to be unique or original with this post. I know a lot of people are saying something similar, and that gives me some hope about the future. I hope momentum stretches beyond merely talking about things for many of us. I think it might be a good moment to turn off the escapist pop culture navel-gazing, if only for a weekend.

Unlike my earlier prolonged hiatus with the blog earlier this year, I think I’ll be back on my bullshit by next week. I can make time for this activity I enjoy. There are certainly quite a few things to talk about. I’m finding a fun daily exercise routine in Ring Fit Aventure, I’m doing more action-stealth gaming in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, I’m devouring the newly released Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, and I might finally be reaching a review of Phenomena on the horizon. But these things can all wait. For a little bit, at least.

New experiences on a new computer

I do sometimes have reason to work from home, and I’d reached a point where my desktop computer simply wasn’t all that reliable for that task. It was the final straw for me, and so I purchased a new (well, refurbished) computer and a new monitor. That ends a ten-year reign for my last desktop. I built that computer, and I upgraded it at least a couple times over the years, and it served me well. I have nothing but fondness for that machine, though I’ve now set it aside.

With a new computer came opportunities to test games and graphic settings that would have taxed–or entirely overwhelmed–its predecessor. Look, it’s not like I went out and bought a top-of-the-line computer. But it could at least comfortably handle current-gen titles!

The first thing I tried out was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Jurassic World: Evolution. I’d played the hell out of that game, but always on lower graphics settings, and I still experienced frequent frame-rate drops, lag, and crashes. It now looks incredible running on the higher-end graphics settings, and the game loads quicker and runs smoothly without any perceived technical issues. The lighting, the vegetation, the building and people textures, and even the already-lovely dinosaurs were all vastly improved!

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Notice the details within the Explorer itself, with sharper resolutions and more clearly defined textures. You don’t get the best part of the experience with a still image, though; the movement of individual blades of grass in the wind and the dynamic lighting and shadows make me feel like I’m really there.

I mostly play games that are older or from mid-sized or smaller studios, so consequently I can typically get away with fairly limited or outdated tech. I actually struggled to think of another game that I wanted to play that would actually test out the computer’s abilities a bit more. I ended up purchasing the second Star Wars: Battlefront II (which really seems like it should just be Battlefront IV). I didn’t push things that hard, opting for medium graphics, but the game played smoothly, and I had a lot of fun with it.

Interestingly, the gameplay itself was incredibly smooth and I don’t think I ever had any noticeable framerate drops or weird pop-ins or anything to disrupt the experience, but the cutscenes, which all looked incredible, often had little hiccups of drops in performance in between scene transitions, especially for those scenes following the end of a level. This isn’t going to mark the shift of my attention to a greater number of AAA titles (not that that was ever very likely, given my interests), but it at least means I have a computer I think can safely handle the occasional newer Star Wars game, like Fallen Order or the upcoming Squadrons.

Also, while I’m not interested in “reviewing” the newer Battlefront II, I do want to talk about its story. That story is surprisingly short; I’ve played less than 10 hours in the game so far, including in some of the Arcade and Instant Action modes, and yet I’ve already completed both “campaigns” with the middle difficulty setting. That said, I think it’s clear enough what one of my future blog post topics will be about…

A final thought for this post, though. My Arena save file is on the old machine. Maybe I’ll transfer it at some point. Maybe I’ll start a new one. But I’m betting that my attempt to play through Arena might have truly met its end (an end that admittedly came months ago). I actually feel okay with that.