Astronaut Island Blog

Astronaut Island is the home of Marty Allen's writing about pop culture, video games.

How I Look At Things

Let's get some house-cleaning out of the way...

I feel compelled to take a moment to illustrate my very special Writer's Perspective. Hold my crayon box.

As previously stated, I plan to write a great deal about pop culture on this here Astronaut Island that we currently share (nice spacesuit, by the way). Much of the writing here will be about culture that I have ingested. But I will be selective. It is my hope that my process of selectivity also serves to help you with curation. Aren't I nice?

My method for curation has a small amount of logic mixed with a much larger dollop of feel. First and foremost, I am a busy working adult with finite time for so-called leisure activities, or entertainment (to use a dirty word). I want to spend more time making my own content than ingesting that of others. However, I believe wholeheartedly that said content ingestion, like vitamins and green food that grows, is deeply important to nourishing the creative process. In short, I don't have that much time to waste on pursuits that aren't inspiring to me in one way or another. Neither should you. (Unless you're into that. More power to you and you do you. But probably move right along to Accountant Island, this island is not for you.)

Limited time means that I, unlike committed peers in outposts with greater specificity, will not engage in as much context or expertise. I have nothing but respect for committed specialists. In fact, I reference them all the time in order to decide which pursuits to engage in, whether they be books, movies, television, or games. My unspoken pursuit is compulsive research. But I don't have the time to try it all. I do, however, keep my ear to the ground for what at least resemble or foreshadow worthwhile pursuits. And then I check them out. I am also that person who knows who wrote or produced that obscure thing and therefore follows its thread so that you don't have to. I hope to mostly report upon stuff I find that is awesome and inspiring. I may sometimes talk about stuff I find that I thought would be awesome, but didn't pan out, and I will inevitably always present a viewpoint and some criticism, even with my most favorite things. We all benefit from healthy critique.

In my pursuits, I want to be inspired by something's design, its look, its play mechanics, its execution, its craft, its heart. And therein lies the dollop of 'feel,' but that feel is informed from years of ingestion. Television raised me in an age where quality was not a concern, so I know bad from good from having experienced both in equal measure. But I learned as I took so much in and became a student of story, comedy, design, and craft. I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, watching horror movies and sketch comedy, playing any game I could. As useful reference, I became an an admirer and student of the likes of Joss Whedon, Wes Anderson, Jim Henson, Shigeru Miyamoto, Tim Schaefer, The Kids In The Hall, John Kricfalusi, JK Rowling, Phillip Pullman, Stephen King, Hayao Miyazaki, Kate DiCamillo, Chris Ware, Grant Morrison, Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, Ben Edlund, They Might Be Giants, The Residents, and so many more. There are not enough women or people of color on that list. That is also a real thing that I think about a lot. The result is a broad set of interests that I hope are well-formed and I want to keep growing.

  Artist's rendering of the author engaged in the act of gaining perspective

Artist's rendering of the author engaged in the act of gaining perspective

I like to think that I've got an eye for the good stuff and often catch it early. I'm the guy who told you to check out Game of Thrones long before it was on TV. I already know where the Marvel movies are going because I read all the comics thirty years ago. I was bitter about finding Nine Inch Nails and Tori Amos before the other kids at school. I was playing on the internet before HTML was a thing. That sort of stuff. Yay for me, I should get a badge or a be-dazzled sash.

In addition to curation, I hope for discussion. Obviously this is all very high-minded of me to assert that my opinion is word. It isn't. I encourage debate, criticism, and outright dissent. However, I will not tolerate ignorance. Dumb jerks can return to the ocean, and those who display intolerance towards any 'group' will be banished (if not drowned outright). I want to hear your opinion if it is informed, thoughtful, and respectful. Having an opinion that is informed and respectful is NOT mutually exclusive from it being wholly opposite from mine. I used bold not only because I am drunk on power, but because I care about this notion deeply. Our culture is too obsessed with embedded ideas of 'us vs them.' Life is not sports or war. We are all on the same team, all astronauts on one big island in space. I want to hear back if you think my view was wrong or weird or too sideways or displayed bias or ignorance or anything. Or if you agree completely or a little or don't get it. Discussion is healthy. Blindly yelling disagreement is not. If you feel assaulted and uncomfortable due to opposing opinions, step back and take stock as to why. If you still feel that way, formulate your viewpoint in a respectful and thought-out manner. Don't react immediately. Please.

So that's where I'm at. How are you today? Crayons down, spacesuits on, let's do this thing.