Don’t Believe Your Own Hype

Strange Dreams

Last night I failed miserably to attend the World of Warcraft raid.  For whatever reason I have not slept amazingly well this week, so by the time I got home yesterday I found myself incapable of sitting up straight in my office chair.  From there I attempted to game on the couch from my laptop, but before long was finding myself dozing off.  So around the 7:30 start time of our World of Warcraft raid I was ultimately taking a nap.  It looks like they put in ten solid tries on Blackhand without me, which is pretty awesome.  Hopefully this coming week we can manage to down him and take his candy.  I am not sure why I am apparently sleep deprived but after all the napping on the couch I still managed to sleep a fairly full nights sleep.  Admittedly I woke up several times during the night, but each time I was able to get right back to sleep without much issue.

I did have a really strange dream during the course of all these wake ups.  It was at some banquet for Blizzard Entertainment, and somehow had gotten chosen to say a few words.  When it came to me and I introduced who I was and what blog and podcast I am from…  there was a sheer look of horror from the stage.  It was like this overwhelming wave of “What is he doing here?” sweeping over the fine folks from Blizzard.  I proceeded to say a few words about my love of Blizzard and I am not really sure what happened next because I woke up.  However I do remember having this general feeling that I did not belong there.  The funny thing is…  that in order for the dream to function I would have to be well known, and this is something that I am not willing to accept.  I don’t think anyone at Blizzard has a clue who I am, let alone enough of a clue to be horrified that I would be speaking at their banquet.   I am just a guy that does a thing, and not terribly important for doing it.

Don’t Believe Your Own Hype

One of the interesting things about being a blogger or a podcaster is that you are forced into the often uncomfortable role of self promotion.  This aspect of blogging names my skin crawl because ultimately whether your like it or not, you are building a brand.  The brand is made up of you, the image you project of yourself and the content you create.  Most of us adopt a persona of sorts that we break out when it comes to interacting with the world and our readers.  For some of us that persona is really damned close to the real thing.  For me it is like a super hyped up and self confident version of myself, and the odd thing is that over time the REAL me has become more and more like the “Rockstar” me.  For the most part this is harmless, because “super” me probably is far more enjoyable to be around than the sulky and moody “actual” me that exists sometimes.  The problem is it is really damned easy to lose your sense of self on the internet.

In the decade or so I have been serious about socializing online, I have seen more than a few people lose themselves in their own hype.  They start to believe that they are legitimately famous and as such somehow separated from the “common” folk because of it.  If you ever find yourself with the strong desire to utter the phrase “Don’t you know who this is?” then chances are you have already gone off the deep end.  As strange as it sounds this is a constant fear of mine, that I will end up becoming one of those empty self promoting husks.  I spend most of my time trying to actively deny the fact that I have any sway over other human beings, and that I am ultimately just talking to myself.  The reality is somewhere between because apparently as much as I try and deny it the whole #BelEffect thing that I am cursed with is apparently a legitimate thing.

Find A Grounding Force

The reality is that on a daily basis I have somewhere between 500 and 1000 readers of this blog when you combine direct hits and folks that read it through an RSS reader.  I am by no means a large presence on the internet, but I do have a niche following.  I do everything in my power to forget that I actually have readers, largely because I am scared to death of turning into one of the people that I have been frustrated with in the past.  I just want to be me, doing the thing that I do… and sharing that thing with other people.  Essentially what has worked thus far is to surround myself with people that are not buying into my own hype in the least.  While my friends like to grief me with things like that hashtag or trying to claim I am some media personality… they are also the first people that would call me on my shit if I ever started to believe any of it.  More than anything the biggest grounding force in my life is my wife, who is not part of the gaming universe at all.

I realize this is a strange post as far as Newbie Blogger Initiative tips goes, because if you are just starting out you are in that phase where you are struggling to gain the courage every single day to post anything at all.  There comes a time however when those fears go away and you are able to interact freely.  I’ve tried my best to stay grounded and humble as this blog has grown from something a couple dozen people followed to the readership it has today.  The problem is that not everyone does, and I have watched this whole process go to folks heads.  I am no one special, and thanks to the support of my wife and friends…  it is my intent to keep it that way.  Self promotion is a necessary evil, and the “rockstar” version of my personality will more than likely always need to be there as a coping mechanism for the stress of dealing with other human beings.  It is my sincere hope that I can keep from falling into the trap of believing in my own hype.  It is also my hope that as you go through your own rollercoaster of success with your own blogging endeavors that you too can keep from believing your own hype.

The Force Awakens

A History With Stars Wars

forceawakens_logo It would be a slight understatement if I were to say that Stars Wars has meant a lot to me over the years.  It pretty much represents my childhood wrapped up with a neat little bow.  The earliest memory I have is of seeing Star Wars at the local drive-in theater sometime around age two.  I became absolutely obsessed with it, and according to my parents walked around the house pretending to be “Darfa Bader”.  If nothing else it was the toys that kept the fires lit for me from the moment I started watching through the end of the original trilogy.  I played and replayed the scenes from Star Wars so many times with the action figures, and in many ways it was my first foray into storytelling.  Sure I started by simply mimicking what I saw on screen, but quickly branched out into telling my own elaborate stories revolving around the cast of characters I knew and loved.

forceawakens_crashedstardestroyer I eventually moved on like all kids do to other things, like GI Joe, Transformers and Mask.  The thing is that Star Wars always held a special place in my heart, so when the west end games Role-playing game was released I was all about playing that for a period of time as well.  I remember one Christmas all I asked for was the then CBS FOX VHS copies of the movies, and I remember being absolutely ecstatic when I actually got them.  I probably damned near wore out my copy of Empire Strikes Back, because that movie just seemed so perfect to me.  While I didn’t have a hope of ever seeing more movies at that point, I could at least wallow in the nostalgia of the originals whenever I felt like it.  When you grow up in a small town, and live out in the middle of the country…  you end up watching a lot of movies, and more than one weekend was spent having impromptu Star Wars marathons.

The Revival

forceawakens_Vadarmask During college Star Wars started to make a comeback in a massive way.  At this point we didn’t even know there were new movies in the works, but it started with the re-release of the action figures.  At this point I was going to junior college and on my drive to class in the morning I frequented a lot of stores as folks were stocking.  I remember the feverish search for the new action figures as they started to hit the store shelves.  I was absolutely elated the day I found the extremely illusive Princess Lea and C-3PO figures because in that first run of the new figures…  they were the limited quantity ones.  As new sets were released I tracked them all down, including some of the variants.  At this point I was going to art school and pretty much half of my class were equally obsessed with them, trading tales of where we found what.

forceawakens_luke I remember sitting in a Wal-mart super center in Fayetteville Arkansas, freaking out as they had figures that we did not have in Oklahoma.  My wife was extremely awesome and helped me rifle through the stacks of newly stocked figures looking for all of the ones I was missing.  She knew going into our relationship that I was a geek, and she had always been super cool about it.  But I admit it was at that moment, when she was helping me hunt for figures…   that I realized just how rare she truly was.  Even to this day she gets excited for me when I find a cache of Legos or something else that I have been obsessing about.  While she doesn’t share a lot of my interests she has always been extremely supportive of them.  She put up with me having hundreds of action figures hung up in neat rows in my college apartment, and didn’t seem to act like it was strange or anything.

The Re-releases

forceawakens_xwings Around this time the first of the re-releases happened as we were given the opportunity to watch the movies on the big screen.  She was there with me waiting in line for tickets and even though she is not really what you would call a Star Wars fan, sat through all three of the movies.  While some of the visual hackery annoyed me…  I was getting to see the movies again on the big screen and that was all that really mattered.  The feeling of sitting in that theater as the Lucasfilm logo came up on the screen… and the Theater erupted in deafening cheers was one that I will never forget.  There were so damned many warm fuzzies coursing through my body that I felt like I was going to explode.  The first two movies…  were pretty great.  I could deal with the silly scenes like Han Solo stepping over Jabbas tail, or the goofily animated CGI dewbacks.

forceawakens_darkjedi Empire was similarly fine, because it god rid of some of the problems like the transparent snow speeders.  My love of Empire as a movie could allow me to look past anything.  But when we finally got to Return of the Jedi… my least favorite of the original movies I admit I started to lose my shit.  The silly scenes like the musical number just finally got to me.  I started to question what in the hell George Lucas was thinking, but by this time we knew about the prequels and I was willing to look past all the flaws and keep up my fanboy hype for the hope of seeing more Star Wars on the big screen.  I admit freely I was a junkie and Papa George was going to keep giving me a fix, and I was willing to push aside the growing concerns in the hopes of seeing brand new stories.  After all I had dreamt about seeing the Clone Wars play out since I was a little kid, and maybe just maybe this was finally going to happen.

Breaking Me

forceawakens_firstorderstormtroopers When the Phantom Menance was released I was working for TV Guide, and had access to a wealth of marketing materials that were filtering around our network.  My hype level was over 9000 as I had 8×10 copies of each of the limited edition hand painted covers of the magazine hung up around my office.  I remember the lines for Phantom Menace were really the first time I had experienced lines of any sort waiting for a movie.  I remember opening day the theaters were showing it on every available screen with a new showing every 2 hours for the first 48 hours.  By the time I go in to watch the movie after work I was practically vibrating.  Then Jar Jar Happened… and the rest of the movie was instantly tarnished by it.

forceawakens_chrometrooperI wanted to maintain my hype…  but there was just so much to hate about that first movie.  What the fuck were midichlorians?  Are they really telling me that Anakin is a Jesus-like virgin birth?  There was just so much bullshit packed in that movie that while I tried to maintain my enjoyment, over time it just festered inside of me.  By the time the second movie came around… I had no plans of seeing it on opening day until I was given free premiere tickets due to my involvement with the Fan Force group here in town.  Admittedly that was a pretty damned cool way to watch the movie, in a private theater along with all of the local press…  with open bar and catered food before and after.  By the time the third prequel came along… it was about a week before I actually went to the theater to see it.

forceawakens_falcondeathstar1 I’ve since reconciled a lot of my frustration with the prequels.  What was anger has faded into a dull annoyance, and a tinge of heartache when I think of what those movies could have been.  Brian Posehn does a funny skit about how “Star Wars is his Vietnam”.  I am nowhere near as bitter about it as he is…  but there are times I have been close.  There was a period of time post prequels that I distanced myself from Star Wars as a whole.  I stopped collecting the figures, I stopped doing pretty much anything Star Wars related.  It was really when Star Wars the Old Republic released that I started to ease up on my position and enjoy the content again.  Today I collect Star Wars in Lego form and love it… but anything that comes from Phantom Menace is immediately less important in my eyes.  I feel like Clone Wars and Rebels television shows are redeeming the franchise significantly by giving me the sort of storytelling that I always wanted out of the newer films.

The Force Awakens


When the new movies were first announced I was admittedly skeptical, that is until I heard that they were pulling them out of the hands of George Lucas.  Better yet I was excited when they announced that J.J. Abrams would be doing them.  While this is a point of contention for a lot of fans, I happen to be one of the people that love the newer Star Trek movies.  In fact I watched the first one twice in the same weekend.  I was never that big of a fan of the original Star Trek series, so I felt the reboot made the movies more enjoyable for me personally.  Now take the fact that Abrams is directing and combine it with the fact that Disney now owns Star Wars… and I think we are in better hands than we have been in a very long time.  Disney is extremely good at two things…  protecting their intellectual property, and churning out content for the fans to snap up.  I feel like we are in the best possible place that Star Wars has been in for years.

forceawakens_moneyshot This week the first real trailer was released for Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration weekend.  As you might have been able to tell… the images I am using to narrate this Storytime Saturday are all pulled from the trailer.  I find myself shifting from cautiously optimistic about the prospects for this movie…  towards full blown hype.  Right now the trailer is quite literally showing me everything that I possibly want to see in a new Star Wars film.  The costumes for the new Stormtroopers look great.  The new Dark Jedi looks to be something straight out of Star Wars the Old Republic.  The real money shot however is the one above when we get to see Han Solo and Chewbacca back in action.  My first thought was OMG HAN SOLO AND CHEWBACCA!  My second thought was… man Harrison Ford looks really old.  My third thought was…  shouldn’t Chewie be showing some grey hair by now?  All I really know is once again I will be waiting in line for tickets so I can see this madness opening day in December.  In fact we are talking about maybe going as an office to go see it.  I guess in that at least Disney has succeeded in re-igniting the fires of the little kid down inside me who never quite gave up on Star Wars.