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I now have a Tumblr account.

I’ve hated Tumblr since the start, “typical” Tumblr pages are not something I ever want to look at. What came over me this week, I’m not sure.

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Film critic Roger Ebert died on April 4, 2013. That evening, I decided that I was going to write something here about what he and his work have meant to me over the years. Unfortunately I was distracted by illness and depression, bogged down with schoolwork and other responsibilities, and just couldn’t focus on writing much of anything at all here until my semester ended two weeks ago. Obviously, I haven’t gotten anything worthwhile done since then, either. What’s it going to take to get me to write this entry?

Well, I’ve already written it two or three times (each version on pace for at least 2,000 words in length), but it took a shape that I hated and would never actually post, so here we are. What can I say? I just think Roger Ebert was a great writer who understood the responsibilities of his job better than any of his peers, which was to accurately describe the experience of what it was like to watch a movie. He did so using print, television and the Internet, connecting with a wide audience, never talking down to “average” moviegoers or wasting film buffs’ time with mere entertainment news. He was honest and upfront about his priorities and expectations for movies and kept a positive attitude about even the worst films he reviewed. He was a thoughtful and intellectually curious man who mined the world for all kinds of new experiences and knowledge. And he resisted the urge to sell out, even when his declining health gave him every excuse to finally kick back and do just that.

When I was 12 or 13, I found myself inexplicably drawn towards “At the Movies,” the long-running television program that he hosted with Gene Siskel. The way they analyzed and talked about movies… excited me, and I soon became a regular reader of his reviews and columns. This lead me to become a more avid reader in general, and even if his influence didn’t turn me into a great writer, it left a huge impression on me that gave me a huge appreciation of (and critical eye towards) the written word and mass media in general. In helping me understand the world of film as a century-long, ever-changing continuum, he helped open my eyes to a new ways of appreciating/engaging with art and media. As a result, I became obsessed with movies in high school and decided I wanted to spend my future working in them.

This didn’t really pan out but I’m not here to talk about that right now.

Point is, I watched all the films of Stanley Kubrick,┬áDavid Lynch, and Terrence Malick while in high school* because of his reviews. I got into anime because of a review of Ghost in the Shell that I saw on his TV show. I was inspired by his writings to join the school paper: this lead to a magazine internship and (eventually) the creation of several blogs (including the one you’re reading right now). If I hadn’t discovered the world of film and the myriad ways the movies could be interpreted and appreciated, I’d probably still be addicted to video games and functionally illiterate.

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*No, I don’t this that this made me a special, “precocious” child or anything. Far from it. I only mention it because it was hard to actually do while living in a small town before the age of high speed internet, and without a car. This was my “thing” in high school that I found joy in and I’ll bask in it as long as I feel like it.

There’s something sad about encountering an blog who’s most-recent post is more than two years old. What happened? Did the author lose interest in the subjects of their usual entries? Or, just in the act of blogging about them? Is the author physically okay? Is the author still alive? Worse still is when that most recent post is one of those “sorry I’ve been away” entries, complete with apologies for their most recent absences and a promise to “be back soon” with “big plans” for the blog’s future. One is left wondering what those plans were and what it could have been, exactly, that prevented their realization.

Being an everyday reader of blogs, I can say that my favorites are those that cover interesting subjects in a particularly intelligent or entertaining way, and in the process give me some kind of idea of idea of what its creator is like as a person. I do enjoy the slow process of getting into someone’s writings over time, even if they’re only short journal entries, and slowly beginning to understand what’s most important to them, what they believe about the world, even how they feel about other people as well as their very own selves. Sometimes the person behind the entry is more interesting than the entry itself, but not due to the quality of the writing or its conclusions, but because its true meaning can only be interpreted through a very distinct collection of beliefs, attitudes, and values that the author’s posts have revealed to the reader over time. Having this experience as a longtime reader of blogs, I’ve come across a lot of dead blogs that were clearly the works of a passionate and excited people. What made them lose their interest? Their motivation? Why did they abandon their plans to continue blogging? Did they do so by choice, or did outside circumstances end their blogging days? Whatever happened, it’s reasonable to guess that there was a significant change in the blogger’s life. Change is inevitable, but we never want to be reminded of that when we’re browsing online. I certainly don’t, anyway.

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So that’s why I don’t want this blog to “die,” despite the fact that I’m well aware of the fact that such death by neglect is the inevitable fate of almost all blogs. I’m uncomfortable with the prospect of losing control of my life or having to sacrifice certain things that I love. I’m also not comfortable with the idea that I ever might lose interest in the things I enjoy. I get melancholy when I think about the pursuits I used to enjoy that no longer bring me pleasure. I hate to think that the positive feelings I get from any of the things that I write about on this blog might one day become less fulfilling or interesting. That’s a common human experience. But I let it creep me out more than it should. Wouldn’t it be terrible to completely lose interest in something that you’d spent so much time with? That may open the doors to new interests and experiences, sure. But it doesn’t always.

I don’t want to believe that my passions are transitory and subject to change. I want them to matter and to provide a source of fulfillment that I can always count on. Actually admitting that they’re so insignificant that they might just up and change one day makes them a little less enjoyable in the present moment. So I try not to think about that, but it’s certainly something that’s on my mind every time I sit down to post something here. How long will I be posting here? Knowing that would certainly effect how I approach blogging, as well as how I present myself online elsewhere. This blog isn’t my only “presence” on the Internet, but I treat this one more carefully than I do with any of the others, and I think I do so because I have a special relationship with the particular sides of myself that I reveal here. Is it my “true” self? If it is, then the dozens of once-active, now-dead blogs I’ve seen over the years, the discarded remains of the “selves” of others, have got me a little worried about its volatility. If it’s not a reflection of my true self, then I’ve certainly wasted my time here over the last four years.

I remain as interested in music as I have ever been, perhaps even more so as I’ve been much more proactive about listening to a wider range of it than ever before, as well as trying to understand just what it is that I love most about my favorite artists/songs/albums. I’d say that I’m legitimately obsessed with music but I know there’s no way to elaborate about the depths of that without sounding obnoxious or pretentious, so I’ll leave it at that. I’d talk about it more here but I already do so elsewhere on a couple of message boards, and I want to keep my persona here separate from how I interact with people on those. I’m a very private person and I like to keep my identity as a geek completely separate from the rest of my life. I worry too much about what other people think, I know, but I’ve also come across a lot of people both online and offline who’re into geeky stuff and, frankly, could stand to think a little more about how others may view their behavior. Anime fans don’t exactly have a shining reputation for social skills or mature behavior — yes, I know that I’m letting extremists define an entire group, but that doesn’t change he fact that this is what most other people do as well — and I’m uncomfortable being lumped in among them in anyone’s mind. I think I just hate being misunderstood, because I don’t like dealing with people’s misconceptions, because I don’t like explaining myself to get over those misconceptions, because I don’t like having to defend aspects of my self that, frankly, I’m actually insecure about. Is it because I feel like I’m getting old? Is it because I am getting old?

As far as anime goes, I’m watching a little less than usual these days, mostly due to school-related priorities. But it’s still an interest that I find myself uniquely fixated on, not only because of its inherent aesthetic qualities, the window it provides into another culture, or what its most common themes can teach us, but because it attracts the sort of people — geeks with a certain range of worldviews, or people with unconventional tastes — that I feel particularly drawn to. I spent a lot of my childhood trying to conform to the attitudes and behaviors of other kids, succumbing to peer pressure while dismissing the legitimacy of anything that brought me happiness if it wasn’t “cool” enough for the kids whose opinions mattered most to me. There were plenty of chances for me to become friends with some of the kids who might have been branded as “nerds,” but I passed these opportunities by because I was fixated on the importance of popularity. As a result, I missed out on a lot of positive experiences and instead experienced lengthy periods of loneliness, confusion and boredom.

Truth is, I was always a geek, but I repressed that side of myself for a really long time out of a sense of shame or a desire to just fit in. At least that was the case when I was young. Oh hell, that’s still the case, isn’t it? I still hide the part of myself that loves animated television programs simply because society has come to the agreement that they’re “just for kids,” and whether that opinion is right or wrong, I’ve never wanted to have to deal with it when explaining myself to others. Anyway, I’m looking for ways to get over those feelings, and having encounters with others who share similar interests would go a long way in helping me to settle down and stop worrying about the social “meaning” of my hobby, or whatever kind of bullshit has me twisted these days. Unfortunately, while I’ve been following and interacting with a small anime club in the city here for over a year, I haven’t been able to attend in person due to conflicts between my scheduled work days and the dates of their meetings. Recently, they changed their schedule so that all monthly meetings would be held on Sundays, which works out extremely well for me. Too bad that I’ve waited too long to RSVP and missed the cut for the March meeting and now for April gathering as well. Guess I’ll try again next time. Meanwhile, ACEN is approaching, which I’ll be attending with my girlfriend and await with both anticipation and hesitation. It’s always a… unique experience, I guess. I really want to cosplay but I feel that’s most enjoyable to do when you’re part of a group, not to mention the fact that I’d be cosplaying a very young character, which shouldn’t be an issue but almost nothing that I fret about actually is. I also want to enter a video in the AMV contest but I honestly don’t know if it’s going to be good enough to make the cut and not completely bore the audience. If I could tell that they hated it, it would probably ruin my night. Why risk it?

I started writing this a few days ago and came back to it in spells punctuated by illness and narcotics. I don’t know if any of this makes sense or is the least bit interesting to read, but I’m going to repress my critical doubts and just post it anyway. This organic chemistry isn’t going to study itself.

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