Janurary 15, 2014: This is going to be a tough post to write, but it’s not like we didn’t see it coming.
After nine amazing years of lucid laughs, instable insights, and pissing people off, it’s with a heavy heart that I announce the closure of Pocky Box, or at least in its current state. I will elaborate later.
As the years went on, updates became fewer and further between. There were many factors to this, but motivation and distraction are the main culprits. My other projects, specifically Glass City Con and retailor business OtakUtopia, have soaked much of my time and energy. When you’re managing a job, retailing at conventions on a sometimes a weekly basis, trying to restart a convention, and still get in some time with family and friends, trying to stoke the fires of the pen… um, keyboard is a daunting task.
Yet there are authors who do more and still get the job done, but I had to ask, who was I doing the job for? In the modern era of FaceTweets and BookTumblrs, an era where the human attention span is an endangered species, potential readers have only so fleeting time to give, and Pocky Box can't compete for that time as it stands. I started this website in a different time, right before social networking took off. Traditional web content was still relevant then, and I embraced this with great enthusiasm and a lack of direction in exact proportion.
I just wanted to write about all things. Religion, politics, video games, anime, toys, writing, adventures, whatever topic suited my fancy at the time. I had seen sites like I-Mockery and Encyclopedia Obscura pull this off to great effect. These weren’t professional writers by any stretch of the imagination, but they were fun to read, well-done, and delightfully creative. Why couldn’t I do that too?
The problem was focus. I could have gotten away with doing the nerd stuff. We had a section for that. Moving politics in, however, created an odd mix which stretched the focus of the website too thin for two content creators, and the situation was made worse by Selmek’s fleeting offerings as he focused on his newspaper career and subsequent lack of career. Plus, we had a poorly-drawn web comic in there. What could have gone wrong there?
As scandalous as it may sound to those who have read my work, my standards of writing had evolved over the years. I wanted to offer better, more comprehensive articles, which translated directly into more work. More research, more editing, more commitment. I have virtual stacks of unfinished articles which died from topical malnourishment, each bearing a metaphoric tombstone which blotted out my creative spark. As the turnaround for each article started to widen, I realized something had to give.
Life in general has a way of getting in the way of my virtual life. The previous update coincided with the beginning of the worst year of my life, when my employer, after ten years of service, announced layoffs, and my entire department was on the chopping block. Having worked there for a third of my life and forming a work family with my fantastic co-workers, the announcement was devastating to the core. This was made additionally insulting because the institution’s higher-ups had no idea what kind of work we did and didn’t care to learn. Ten years of service was swept aside and disregarded by stuffed suits who aren’t acutely aware there is a world outside of the boardroom. And you wonder why the population professes to hate rich people and egocentric authority.
I spent a number of months boiling at a carefully-measured seething rage as I desperately searched for other work. Sadly, everyone was searching for work. Anger settled into apathy as my time drew nearer. I decided if I had to, I could make a living on the convention thing, but this was hardly reassuring. I did work for the post office for a few weeks before resigning, because being a postal carrier is God’s punishment for a sinful people, and you should respect the folks who deliver your mail. It was getting in the way of my life, so I decided to take a leap and trust OtakUtopia.
Not more than a month later, I was recalled by my former employer to work temporarily, where I am to this day, forever in employment purgatory, waiting for judgment.
This did a lot to shift my focus away from writing for Pocky Box, and was the final nail. As I spent the rest of the year trying to sort out where my life was going, I decided it was time to make this announcement, just in case there were a few of you still wondering what was up.
While our efforts here didn’t always radiate with follow-through, as evidenced by a number of neglected or closed features, Selmek and I had a lot of fun writing for the site. It’s always great reminiscing about past misadventures. I’m confident we mustered together an excellent body of work here. I’m perhaps most proud of Chick Tract Trashing, the most popular feature on the site, because let’s face it, Chick tracts are fun no matter what you do with them, except believe them. Zing!
Let’s set aside the crushing sorrow and talk about the future, the dark entity overhanging all of us. For better or worse, I still intend on making a creative presence with a focus on other projects. Hopefully, you’ll follow us there.
My love for anime has giving me a self-identity since 1997, and I intend on being involved in the community for a long while, even as it changes into a thrashing sea of penniless teeny-boppers who feel everything should be free and don’t actually like anime all that much, but will dedicate their eternal souls to whatever nerd meme is currently hoarding their attention. OtakUtopia is doing well and expanding to new shows all the time, going so far as to decimate its foolish owners at New York Comic Con. I’ll be out there, hocking physically media in an increasingly-desperate and pathetic fervor, so stop by and say hi, preferably with twenties. Maybe one day we’ll have a brick-and-mortar store to call out own.
Glass City Con returns this July 26th and 27th at the SeaGate Convention Centre, bringing with it new anxieties of funding, insurance, and urban-based logistics. I expect to be deceased halfway through the show, so please attend the con and pay your last respects.
For those who you who shamefully dig through the tombs of Pocky Box, you might have discovered our Literary Works section, full of scholarly aspirations so naïve, you are forced to leave the room in pity. For those who have endured, you may have read some of a sensible novella called Meatloaf Dead, a story about killer lunchroom ladies. I advise those who have and haven’t enjoyed the excerpt to forget about it. I’ve been hard at work revamping the story, adding more content, polishing up the rough edges, and ideally making the work a more enjoyable experience. It has since ballooned from novella to novel, and I will be making efforts to publish it sometime next year.
Because I find it hard to keep my internet mouth shut every now and again, I will submit to the social media gods and start posting a bit more regularly on Facebook I can’t promise amazingly thorough pieces of literary mastery, but you get to read my thoughts, and that’s really what the internet is for, isn’t it?
Finally, Pocky Box isn’t really gone for good. Sorry, a few of you are going to have to re-cork those champagne bottles for the moment. As I alluded to, one of the irks of the former Pocky Box is the lack of focus. Who is this website for? Nerds? Political puglists? The mentally unwell? I struggled for years to come up with a simple term for what Pocky Box was. I went with opinions website, but that didn’t really explain anything. I started referring to it as an iikagen, or random site recently, because that really explained it a whole lot better.
A while ago, my friend and Glass City Con gaming head Aaron felt the itch to run a gaming-themed website. Life, as it does, held this down by the throat, but the concept managed to gasp out a few ideas we were able to mull over. I suggested using Pocky Box as a home for gaming articles. This led me to consider the possibility this was the topic I would rather write about. Considering the few updates I have managed to push out have been nerd related, I decided it was time to go whole-hog on this and change the focus of Pocky Box over the all nerdity, all the time.
The concept is still early on. We have to devise a focus (newer games, classic games, underrated games, etc), though I might blur this somewhat with other facets of nerd culture, specifically anime. I have a basic formula in mind, including a rating system which I’m sure will generate the hate mail. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for more info on that.
Selmek, meanwhile, is out of a job and will be spending the next several months wandering the country, searching for meaning. I’m not making that up. You’ll have to ask him about that.
Speaking of, he has a few words for the occasion:
What Pocky Box means to me.
Chris must be happy I am finally handing him an article about what Pockybox has meant to me. He’s been asking me for months, which I imagine means he is preparing a final update before he shuts down the site, or at least prepares to let it collect dust in an archive somewhere. I’m not sure what the future holds for Pocky Box, but I’d like to thank our imaginary loyal readers for giving Chris and I the opportunity to stoke our egos since getting out of high school.
I thought we made the website’s purpose pretty clear from the get-go, but I’m going to spell it out for you who missed it: vanity. Chris and I are old pros at standing up in front of a high school language arts class and captivating the student body with some self-indulgent ramble, but they were always entertaining, and I’d like to think there were some students who looked forward to it. After we graduated, we suddenly found ourselves with two heads filled with self-indulgent rambles and no audience for our opinions. Thus, Pocky Box was born.
Truthfully, Chris has put a lot more work into the website than I have. It was his idea, and I have been happy to tag along with a few submissions, which grew less frequent as the years passed and I got distracted with other projects. Pocky Box was another of Chris’s ideas that I thought would never work, along with his plan to buy a house, get married, and start an anime business. I should really learn to stop telling Chris his dreams are unrealistic. Maybe there’s a lesson in there for me.
Most of Chris’s articles have been focused on poking fun at Chick Tracks and religious people in general, a topic which I was happy to join in on along with a few bits about what it was like to travel, or be in the Army, or various political rants. Then something really unexpected happened and I became a Christian myself. I have to admit that I haven’t gone back through to read any of my old pieces since then. I suspect that if I did I would hear the voice of a young boy that has some truth in it, even if presented in a confused and knotted way. Maybe one day I will read some of my old stuff and make a response to myself, writing an article that may become some sort of fourth-dimensional meta-self-indulgent ramble. But this is not that article.
Chris, as I’m sure he will mention, is taking a break from Pocky Box to pursue the interests he has deemed more important: keeping a job, making his wife happy and selling anime. It’s interesting that we have remained friends even as our identities coalesced after high school, a success I attribute to the very deep roots of our friendship in the second grade, because anime, marriage and money are not actually important to me at all.
My current project involves driving across the United States taking photos, talking to people and maintaining my on-line social network. On New Year’s Day, I officially quit my job as a local journalist in Augusta, Georgia in order to start driving west, read a lot, and hopefully write two books simultaneously. At the time I am writing this, having just checked out of my hotel in Roswell, New Mexico on January 10, 2014, I have just about caught up with my obligatory social networking rituals, and I have done much less reading and writing than I would like. I hope to focus more on transcribing notes for my book next week and get a good start on my eventual autobiography, A Stoner’s Guide to God.
I could tell you more about the title of that book, but I’d rather show you. Because I still have an ego, though I’m trying to whittle away at it, and I still have impossible dreams. The best place to go to keep up with my journey is my project profile on bottle-rocket.co, a social networking startup that hasn’t quit left the ground, but promises to be an amazing way to link people pursuing their interests. That page will link you to my FaceBook page and my Pintrist map as well as a few other things I’ve done.
It’s still basically self-indulgent, but I’m trying to include conversations and interviews with other people, I’m hoping it’s at least a little bit interesting to you, and I hope the end result is in at least some sense helpful. Thank you for your time and your attention. Allons-y.
Things change, but we hope we can make changes that will benefit our readers in the end. So if you enjoyed our work here, please come to Glass City Con, stop by the OtakUtopia table, and keep up with my shenanigans. I’ll be around somewhere, pissing someone off. That is a universal truth you can take comfort in.
Thanks for a great nine years! See you soon!
March 15, 2013: It never fails to amuse me when my humble site, despite a dearth of users and meaningful content, manages to upset someone. This is because I aspire to be a sociopath, but am handicapped by empathy and common sense. While I try to have fun with issues that aren't so much fun, there are times I don't consider how things I poke fun at could affect folks innocent in the discussion.
I received a message from the con chair of Shuto Con letting me know my report of a rumor of the Westboro Baptist Church showing up at Shuto Con to protest their Safe Space initiative (because of its LGBT-tolerant message) had spurred a flurry of questions from concerned people. While I stated this was just a rumor, apparently it was too juicy to contain. I also used some wording that would indicate the Shuto Con staff isn't handling this situation properly, which was, of course, not my intention.
I have nothing by respect for the folks over at Shuto Con. They're great people who put on an amazing show. I apologize if this post caused any problems, and have decided to take it down, because there was some bad information in it. I don't take down pieces as a policy, so this should give you an idea how much esteem I hold those involved in. I may use some of the ideas again in the future, because I find the idea of con goers and religious nutjobs bumping into each other fascinating.
To clarify, Westboro has not confirmed their intentions of showing up to Shuto Con. This is a rumor and I doubt they'll come up to Lansing to start something, but I'm intrigued by the what-if. Since I'm talking about Shuto Con, if you're a even remotely a fan of the content they offer, you need to check this event out, because its a legitimately important convention with a staff who cares about its fans. I plan on attending every one of them, because I know it's a worthwhile experience.
March 5, 2013: Considering it's a multi-billion dollar industry that’s taking over every aspect of our lives, including what we do when we visit the restroom, it’s about time video games receive a suitable movie paying tribute to the sacred act. Wreck-It Ralph is that. In celebration of the movie's home video release today, and not because I've been working on this article since its theatrical run, here's my take on the flick, what it means to gaming, and ponder why we can’t get more cool toys like pixelated plushes.
January 25, 2013: Since I have this Facebook thing and I have a site I hypothetically want to generate hits for, why not combine the effort and post updates on Facebook? We’ll see how these flavors go together; hopefully we’ll get a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup out of this. And if you don’t prefer that analogy because you don’t like Reese’s, you are not the sort of person I care to acknowledge.
My goal is to use Facebook to announce updates to Pocky Box and not bather about things like my restroom habits, so you Facebook denizens will hear from me about as much as I update Pocky Box, so about as much as before. With as much as I like to cruelly and randomly tease about Glass City Con, like right there, watch me fail.
I find it ironic the Phelps vs Shutocon Pocky Blog is the first link I'm sharing, since I found that out on Facebook.
It’s double ironic this is the first posting for Pocky Box, since I state outright in the piece I don’t use Facebook. If I use any more irony, the ironitinuum would collapse and cause a worldwide spread of dark irony, which is like regular irony, but a lot sadder. Like how Americans want change, but gesture threateningly at the White House whenever something looks like it’s going to change, which scares everyone and makes them angry, and they want that to change.
Yeah, Facebook, this is what you get for ingraining yourself into everyone’s lives: a whole lot o’ me.
January 17, 2013: I normally wouldn't make a comment for a Pocky Blog post, but this one is to delicious to go ignored with the others: Fred Phelps at an anime convention. Read on!
November 20, 2012: The Wii U has launched, and the ravenous mob that is the gaming public has begun feasting on it. While Nintendo is patting itself on the back for a successful launch, I can't help but wonder if this is the last time there will be back patting of this fashion. Check out my take on the history of Nintendo's flawed efforts. Here ye, all fanboys, it’s not as bad as it seems.
Glass City Con is slowly becoming a thing. With longtime friend and business lackey Joe and I prepared to fork over our (take note, IRS) total lack of earnings from our OtakUtopia venture, a location in negotiation, and staff coming together, you should hear more about it before the year is out. Get your pre-reg money ready for 2014.
September 14, 2012: In celebration of my 30th birthday, I've taken a look back at the five years, which, if you recall, a lot of stuff was happening. Not so much on this site, mind you, and I blame the points stated in the latest article on that. Yep, that's the stuff. I have a couple of articles cooking, and Selmek has some content I need to sift through. Ideally, I'll get this stuff out before it becomes irrelevant. Ideally, I'll piss off a few Nintendo fanboys.
Speaking of my chaotic life, one of those elements is sort of online. OtakUtopia's online store domain has been parked, so bookmark it if you want to give me money. Apologies for the lame placeholder page. Evidentially, in the two years or so since I've registered domains with them, they yanked out free page hosting and replaced it with... this. I'll be looking at other e-retailor hosts in the coming months, when we can ensure a good return on the investment. So get your credit cards ready!
June 11, 2012: Insert increasing update joke here. I have no zest for the endeavor any longer.