Raise your hand if you want to re-do the beginning of 2021. Don’t get me wrong: flipping the page on the calendar is not the same as waving a magic wand of 2020 and making all the bad stuff go away. We have to take responsibility for that ourselves. However, if the first two weeks are anything to go by, I think we should collectively hit the CTRL-ALT-DEL and reboot the whole New Year celebrations. And I have just the Make / Play / Watch / Read combo to start us off.
Make: New Year Paper Clappers
In some cultures, New Year festivals are filled with loud noises to scare off the demons from the old year and clear the way for good vibes. Maybe we were a little too cautious with our farewell to 2020 because there are plenty of bad vibes still hanging around. Let’s make some noise with my childhood faves: Paper Clappers!
These loud monsters are also known as Paper Poppers, Paper Bangers, and Paper Snappers. It all comes down to one thing: a single A4 piece of paper. This is what you do with it:
- Fold the paper in half length-ways. Crease well and open.
- Fold each of the corners in to meet the centre-line, creating a hexagonal shape.
- Fold in half along the crease again, creating a trapezoid.
- Now fold in half from left to right, Crease and re-open.
- Flip it over so that the crease looks like a ‘mountain-fold’ – as in, it pokes up at you.
- Fold each corner down to the shorter length of your trapezoid, with the length of the triangle aligning with the ‘mountain-fold’. This should create a four-sided diamond shape.
- Fold along the mountain-fold crease again, Now it should be a triangle.
- Hold the triangle at one corner, tightly between your thumb and pointer/forefinger. Make sure there is a long line of the triangle following out from your hand with the centred corner point down to the ground.
- Swing your hand down fast! The force of the air against your Paper Clapper should ‘pop’ out the paper fold, creating a POP sound–like a cracker!
Play: Fireworks Mania (VG) for the New Year
If your usual New Year fireworks were a little underwhelming, here’s your chance to do it all again! Fireworks Mania is a brand new game recently released on Steam from indie developer/publisher Laumania ApS. It’s a casual simulator game with a burst of entertainment and fun.
It can take a bit of time to get the hang of the combinations but once you do, you can create some amazing explosions for your own New Year celebrations. Never before have I heard the statement “Let’s find out” used so often during one game. The open sandbox nature provides a huge blank canvas to stretch your creativity. You can choose from a neighborhood setting or a wide open ranch. There is a large range of pyrotechnics available, including props, cakes, featured designs, and a bunch of other things I didn’t even know about before this game. There are also additional features to connect your fireworks together and light them from afar (so you can appreciate the pretty boom in the sky above). I am still working my way around the game as we speak so here is a YouTube video from a member of the Steam Community, Todd Wion:
For a game initially created as a small project to share with their son, the developer has done an amazing job working, building a game with real-world mechanics and features. Whether you are re-doing your New Year celebrations or blowing off some persistent old-year blues, you can definitely make some noise with Fireworks Mania.
Watch: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (Netflix)
Once you have finished slapping the Paper Clapper and creating your simulated fireworks display (virtual neighborhood destruction optional), it’s time to move up to Acceptance. My dear geeky friend: It’s okay to not be okay. And you are not going to achieve anything in the new year unless you accept how ‘not-okay’ you are from 2020. I think this is why I fell in love with the Netflix Korean-Drama, It’s Okay to Not be Okay.
If you’re not familiar with this show, it is a K-Drama created by Netflix and released in July 2020. It is stunning in its visual presentation; both with beautiful cast members and the creative artistic expression in cinematography and special effects. This is definitely one for the adults with some serious mental health issues discussed in a very open way. However, that is the special appeal of this show. A romance centred around mental illness and trauma with the exact level of compassion and entertainment we need in a post-2020 world.
The two main characters are Ko Mun-yeong (portrayed by Seo Ye-ji), a female children’s book author with antisocial personality disorder; and Moon Gang-tae (portrayed by Kim Soo-hyun), a nurse at a psychiatric hospital who is also sole-carer for his older brother who has autism. While the romance is primarily between these two, the series delves into mental illness and neurodiversity. There is also a secondary story involving a mystery and violent crime but if you’re only watching this as a mystery-series, you are missing out on the characters and psychology which, in my opinion, are far better presented.
Amongst friends, I have heard many great reviews for the storytelling and characterization, especially for those who live with neurodiversity. For me, it is refreshing to watch a show where the main characters are definitely NOT okay but are managing the best they can with a willingness to be better. Fellow GeekMom Elizabeth has touched on this exact same feeling, with her article “Dear Parents, I Promise It’s Okay If You Didn’t Go All Out for the Holidays”–a worthy read at any time of year. This is not about saying “there is someone out there worse than you”. This is about accepting things are not always okay. And when they are okay, we can also be okay with that too. A truly cathartic show to reboot your new year.
Read: Primer by Jennifer Muro and Thomas Krajewski, with art by Gretel Lusky
If you’re looking for a lighter start for the new year, check out DC’s newest superhero–Primer (AKA Ashley Rayburn). Ashley is also looking for a fresh start to life, having recently moved in with a new foster family. Just like the year 2020, Ashley isn’t inherently bad. She just tends to attract some bad things. For example, she happens to move in with her new foster family around the same time as finding a briefcase full of specially-enhanced body paint. And whether this is the fresh start she is looking for… well, only Ashley can figure that one out.
Primer is a graphic novel for all ages; our 7-year-old daughter loved the free-spirited artistic main character, while our 11-year-old son loved the scientific touches, and our 14-year-old son really enjoyed the balance of good/bad behaviors without the need for distinct ‘good guys/bad guys’ scenarios. Okay, the bad guys ARE bad guys but even they brought up a discussion about responsibility, priorities, and misguided behaviour. And honestly–the storytelling was a hella lot of fun!
This book is perfect for the vibrant expression from visual arts and promotes the need to support artists with safe spaces and encouragement. It is also a fairly accurate telling of foster programs; a story that does not always have a happy ending without people who truly understand what the kids are going through. If ever there was a group of people desperate for fresh starts and ‘reboots’, foster kids are top of the list. Primer shows HOW this can be achieved and that is a pretty good start.
No matter how your new year started, there’s an opportunity to reset your outlook. Changing the number of the year isn’t going to fix it but you can reboot your vibe and work towards a better year for yourself. Remember: It’s okay to not be okay. Make some noise and throw your own party. Find help where you can and take that first step.
Happy New Year (AGAIN)!