For Japanese viewers, or anyone excited to see Kamen Rider Ex-Aid in October. Subtitles are in English. Probably better that way, because my Japanese is terrible. I hope our friend Justin a.k.a. JewWario would be happy and proud.
When Suede asked me if I would be willing to take over the art duties for the Pokemon movie reviews, after I got over the “me?” factor I was stoked. (And profusely thanked Lupa for pointing Suede my way. Again, thank you.) Pretty sure this was the first thing I drew, in fact, to get myself in the Pokemon “feel”. I was kinda sad that J-Dub wasn’t going to be part of the “update” portion of the Pokemon 4ever review, and was anticipating his return so I could put him in a Team Rocket-ish costume on the screen.
I did catch J-Dub in a RDA chat one night and showed it to him. His squee made me smile.
The art change was kept a secret the whole time, save to the relevant parties. So this and much more has been sitting in my video-makin’ folder, waiting.
I need to redo this and ink and color it. I really, really do.
Haven’t said a lot myself on the loss of Justin “JewWario” Carmical over the last month because I don’t handle these things well. I tend to bottle up and shut down. It doesn’t process. I made it through the opening to the new video without tearing up, but it was still bittersweet and left an ache in the chest.
I’m not doing so great as I type this, but I need to. I need to let this out.
I was just getting to know the man one-on-one shortly before the end… we were talking Barcode Wars stuff, he was an absolute prince at MAGFest… in fact, he was the last person I hugged as I left his year’s show, and there were a lot of hugs going around. I went to the trivia nights and had a blast, the man had energy that filled the fucking ballroom.
And he was in my vague age-range! He was in there with Nash, Diamanda and Omega as big inspirations for Trent and I as we attempt to make our way in this goofball video world populated largely by people in their twenties (and younger), a sign that fuck age, it’s not too late for a second go at doing things you love.
Just as he was becoming, well, more than the hilarious guy on the computer box, someone I could just talk to about geeky things, someone who I eagerly anticipated the opportunity to do more work with to make people laugh… he was gone.
And nobody saw it coming. Which makes it all the more stunning and painful. Were it an accident or an unforeseen health issue, it would be no less tragic and heartbreaking, but… the mind doesn’t want to accept that a man so bright and positive would go in such a way.
He was the first TGWTG person I encountered at my first MAGFest too. Him and his kilt and pink sneakers. And I just smiled as I saw that and knew this was a chill guy. And he was. All the things you hear about him as people gush over him are true… he was just a funny, bright man who made you feel special.
And he also brought me back to a happier time in my life with his passion for importing “retro” games. The late 90s, I spent a LOT of time (and money) going to the shitball secondary flea market because it had the big import game stall (now long gone). I bought my Japanese Rockman stuff there, I grabbed the Ranma ½ fighters. I marveled at the weird shit. I got my PS1 modded to play imports. I had more money than sense and a secure (hah! *spit*) job making game graphics and I was having fun. I was scraping out a raw ability to read katakana at least. The shit that was awaiting me as the new millennium dawned hadn’t gotten here yet.
He reminded me of those days, and gave me that spark of hope at getting back to that kind of joy.
And though you’re gone, Justin… I’m not giving up on that. You are still an inspiration, and always will be.
Finally, after all this time, this is the English adaptation of Be Ze Game, the intro to the FamiKamen Rider series of JewWario’s videos.
When Justin Carmical was first creating FamiKamen Rider, he said he wanted the reviews to look like an actual tokusatsu/Kamen Rider TV intro. He then asked me if I would be capable of writing lyrics for his theme song, as well as singing it. In Japanese. I was of course thrilled that he had asked me, and it was true that I have a small level of Japanese language certification, but the idea was still intimidating. He’d asked Julien (SadPanda) to compose the backing track, and once that was done he sent it my way.
When the instrumental came to me, I sat and listened to it… and I thought, “What the hell am I going to do!?” Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it sounded like something attached to most Kamen Rider intros, but I wasn’t about to give up. I just decided that the lyrics had to be very, very Kamen Rider, but while still being funny and light-hearted, much like the host of the show. So, certain lyrics like “Semaru Nega yo!” (Nega is approaching!) were specifically reminiscent of classic lyrics (“Semaru Shokkah” - Shocker is approaching - from the first Kamen Rider intro).
Furthermore, I realized I wouldn’t be able to write some of the lyrics without first knowing and understanding what the series was about. I didn’t necessarily want Justin to spoil it for me, but I asked him if he’d be alright with sharing the script for the first part of his two-part miniseries with me. And so I was able to write something that didn’t sound completely different from what was actually in the show. And with a little help from a native Japanese speaker, I was able to come up with lyrics that not only matched the setting and tone of the show, but were also grammatically correct (very important!).
The end result is what you now see in his Rider Reviews (example here with the Segata Sanshiro game review): http://youtu.be/MLJzvRsIqdM
But one thing I had always told Justin was that I was planning on making an English adaptation of the exact same song. Something that wasn’t just a literal translation (because you can clearly see that literal translation in the subtitles of the videos), but a REAL adaptation, that sounds good in English and rhymes (because for some reason English likes to rhyme when Japanese doesn’t really care all that much). He seemed really excited about it, though he honestly never asked me to do it. But it was something I always really WANTED to do.
Then, lots of stuff happened. 2012 to 2013 wasn’t very easy for me, and in fact, the hard drive that stored SadPanda’s instrumental for me was no longer easily accessible for me, so I went all this time without ever having recorded it. Needless to say, in this time of loss, I really, really, REALLY wanted to finish it right away. But I STILL couldn’t get connected to my old hard drive, and actually SadPanda himself no longer had the instrumental. Luckily for me, someone on Twitter (thank you very much Christian!) actually had all of the audio, and send the instrumental my way the other day. And today, I finished the English lyrics and re-recorded it. I only did a little bit of audio touch-up. I can only do so much. I’m not a professional, and I don’t have a studio or anything. But it’s not exactly a lot different from what the original song sounded like.
There’s still a large part of me that would love to see the FamiKamen Rider series get off the ground, even now. Not like I have any clue how that would ever get executed, especially without Justin. Some have suggested that it be a comic. Some have suggested that it be an animation. Maybe it’s too soon to even think about. Though I think that there’s enough people out there who would want to see it happen in some way, shape, or form, and I think there’s resources there to be pulled from. I still have some information on what was happening… I don’t know. Maybe it could be a thing, or maybe we should just let it be, and stay the fun little thing it was.
But for now, Justin, this is the gift I always intended on giving to you. I am kicking myself and am somewhat mad at myself that I never just freaking did it sooner. But it’s here. And I hope it brings the people who knew you and your work a little bit of joy. It’s still the same lyrics. Just in a different language. It’s still about the same old character, the same old you. I would never want to change it.
Missing you, my friend.
LYRICS: FamiKamen Rider When things seem as dark as they can be He saves the world with button-mashing
You see this guy right here?He plays games every dayYou’re telling me he’s a hero?There’s no way!Help! Nega is coming!Won’t someone do something?FamiKamen RiderThe last of the fighting WarionWhen he transforms using his belt, the game is on!FamiKamen RiderYou better take this man seriouslyHe’s got some game reviews he knows he’s got to doBe the Game!
I have been marathoning through Diamanda Hagan’s old videos and came across her crossover with JewWario, Zombeak.
It is the first video of his I’ve watched since his death. The dialogue and their chemistry was so good and funny I was actually able to laugh. Up until then I had been ignoring his work because it was too hard.
Thank you, Mistress, for being part of my process of being able to enjoy JewWario again, which is a much better way to honour him than what I was doing before.
Justin “Jewwario” Carmical, April 11, 1971 - January 23, 2014
When I heard he was dead, I did what you often have to these days, with the internet being the rumor mill that it is, and googled it.
I found this post:
“It is with a very sad heart that I must confirm my husband, Justin Carmical, sometimes known as the Jew Wario died on Thursday, January 23rd.
I also have to confirm he shot himself, but he was not alone, he locked himself in the bathroom and I was on the other side of the door talking with him. He knew I loved him, HE KNEW ALL OF YOU LOVED HIM. You all made him so happy, every time he was recognized from his videos, it made him giddy with joy.
His last recording was a song with Johnathan Mann, I don’t know if Johnathan knows. He recorded it the night before.
I am surrounded by family and friends, and am taking this one moment at a time, remembering to breathe. I want to share with you what the Chaplain said to me, it was a momentary mistake, hold on to the good memories. I will post an update once a decision has been made about funeral arrangements.
If I need anything I will let you know, just hold on to each other and love each other, and thank you all so much for loving him so much.”
It was 2010, and I had literally just gotten off a plane from Japan after having already traveled for two weeks, and already I was boarding another plane to Reno, Nevada to participate in the two-year anniversary movie for ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com, “Kickassia”. When I arrived I was tired, hungry, and gross, with hardly any clean clothes. Everything I carried was two weeks worth of clothes I’d already worn, and I had no idea how the next week was going to pan out.
I found myself surrounded by people I’d met in the previous year’s anniversary video, and found new faces. One of those faces was that of JewWario. The notable thing about him was that you could never really tell how old he was. And when he revealed his age (at that time he was in his late 30s), everyone was blown away. His face, his character, and his demeanor suggested that he was a man at least ten years younger. But age clearly meant nothing when it came to us all being together. We all bonded so well.
When you’re all producers for the same site, you of course already share a bond. But I think Justin and I quickly bonded because of more closely-related interests. When he learned that I had literally just gotten off the plane back from Japan that very same day, we were immediately able to discuss both of our experiences in spending time there. We bonded over great food and interesting cultural experiences, and from that point on, every time we met it was like we’d never separated. That first meeting, he was just such a joy, and he re-energized me after I thought I was too tired to go on. He was also one of the first people to ever really strongly comfort me or give me advice when it came to me dealing with my mom as I was slowly losing her to breast cancer. I’m not sure any other producer has ever hugged me so deeply to this day.
Filming for To Boldly Flee was fond, also. I can remember walking around with Justin and Hope (JesuOtaku) trying to find food and further bonding over similar interests and experiences.
And I can remember us talking about making our costumes on Suburban Knights. I told him that I was thrilled that he was Jareth from The Labyrinth and that I was supposed to be fawning over him because I could recall legitimately fawning over the character originally in the movie. He kept me upbeat, we kept each other happy, and, heh, I can remember being outside in that stupid San (Princess Mononoke) skirt, freezing cold, and Justin kept me warm in his Jareth cape between shoots.
I remember fondly our trip to Guelph, Ontario to attend Con-G. Our plans were crazy in-depth, meeting up with Conal MacBeth (Doctor Holocaust) to film an exciting fight sequence together. I’ve seen most of the footage. Only a smaller trailer ever went up. But I’m pretty sure it’s always been Conal’s intent to finish it. I remember flying into Buffalo, NY and meeting with both Justin and Kyle Hebert. We were then shoved into a car to cross the US/Canada border in the dead of night, in the middle of winter. I remember stopping at a Wendy’s over the border, where we made fun of how Canadian the Wendy’s was because the apostrophe in the name was actually a maple leaf. Justin and I shared a room that weekend. I remember I enjoyed spending the time with him, but felt funny waking up to realize he was only sleeping in his underwear the whole time. It was so great watching his reaction when “Featherweight” handed him the personalized FamiKamen Rider Famicom-themed sword as a gift and just how excited he got, and how excited I got for him seeing something so cool beginning to come to life. That weekend we trekked through the snow across to the mall and marveled at things, bought delicious donut holes, etc. Riding in the car back over the border was an interesting trek, too. Convincing the US Border Patrol that we weren’t up to no good was an amazing experience.
Helping him work on FamiKamen Rider was quite the experience. Julien (SadPanda) had composed the backing track, and Justin had asked me to write the lyrics and sing them. So, with a little bit of help, those lyrics to that song that play in his FamiKamen Rider reviews, as well as the singing voice, was me. And I feel so thankful that he felt me to be valuable enough to want me to be involved. And when he was starting to get his stuff together to make the FamiKamen Rider mini-series, we were talking about how I would get out there to Colorado and be a character in the series. Admittedly, it seems like there were struggles in making that happen. And if it was frustrating to me, how much more frustrating must it have been to Justin? I know he felt bad about things falling through and not making good on promises and commitments. Perhaps this was part of a much bigger issue that I was never really aware of. But it’s too late for that now…
There’s all these crazy things, all these plans… I JUST hugged him a few weeks ago. I JUST helped him with his MAGFest Pub Quiz again for the second year in a row. He was JUST telling his audience that he was looking forward to fine-tuning it for next year. Josh and I were supposed to join him and Nash on a trip to Japan together. He’d JUST started that Patreon thing up. I thought things were happening. I thought things were going somewhere. And just like that, it’s over?
I want to be hurt, maybe a little angry. And after having gone to a GriefShare class this past year for the loss of my own mother, I’ve learned that those are actually normal emotions. Even feeling guilty about feeling that way is normal. But the truth is that feeling that way is only going to do so much. Because we can’t go back now, and we can’t change it. Hindsight is 20/20. If any of us had ever thought there was a problem, I’m sure we would have done things a whole heck of a lot differently.
My dream would be to be able to somehow figure out how to help him finish FamiKamen Rider. I think we’re talking about how feasible that would be. I can’t say anything more than that. But I know it was big and important to him. What I wouldn’t give to see that finished.
This is really all I have to say for the time being. It’s unbelievable that I just saw him, with no idea that I wouldn’t see him again. It’s beyond understanding.
Goodbye, Justin, my friend. I can’t claim to understand. But I’m so glad I had the time with you that I did.
You’re not stupid, okay?
You’re not stupid, don’t ever tell yourself that you are.
What you have in your head, may not mean a lot to a lot of people but it’s what makes you special.
You are important, you mean something,
and you’re going to go out there,
and you’re going to do some wonderful things.
But first and foremost, you’re not stupid, you’re not an idiot,
don’t ever tell yourself that you are,
and if nobody else ever tells you this,
I will tell you this, I care about you.
I’ll go ahead and cover the specific details of what happened, then go back and go over all the many thoughts and feelings on everything.
I left work on Friday, October 24th 2014 and almost immediately started on what was supposed to be approximately a 13-hour drive with my friend up to the Colorado Springs/Denver region in Colorado. The hope was to attend the memorial service of Justin Carmical, aka JewWario, on the morning of October 25th. I’d never made the drive up to Colorado before, although I had made the drive back down through the exact same route before. I was driving my 2005 Chevrolet Malibu, a car I’d had for nearly 10 years and had already driven all over the country, from San Antonio to Orlando and back a couple times, to California and back a couple times, to Washington DC and back, to Seattle and back, took it on a 3,500 mile honeymoon trip, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven to Dallas or Houston and back. I put over 160,000 miles on that car, and I’d made lots of really long trips. I wasn’t exactly afraid. And I had my friend in the car with me to keep me awake for the drive. I thought I was being safe.
We’d made it maybe 9 or 10 hours, and had actually made it all the way into Colorado. In the grand scheme of things, we were almost there. By that time, it was almost 2 AM on Saturday morning. It was completely dark outside, and we were far away from any cities and any light. I wasn’t even around any other cars. The last cars I’d seen had long since passed me. I was going fast, although not over the speed limit. I was going 70, and with all the mountains, I was shocked that people weren’t scared to be driving 80 or more. My friend fell asleep for just a little bit. I was headed northbound on the I-25, driving in the right-hand lane of the two-lane northbound highway.
And that’s when it happened. There was a big ol’ buck deer, standing tall and huge with massive antlers, standing with his front half in my lane and his back half in the shoulder. But it was so incredibly dark outside, so far away from civilization, I didn’t see him until I was nearly right up on him. So I slammed on my breaks and swerved to the left to try to avoid hitting him.
Admittedly, from everything I’ve ever heard, if you’re about to hit an animal you’re really supposed to speed up instead, if you can’t safely avoid them. But when you have what probably amounts to less than three seconds to react to what’s in front of you and you’ve never been in the situation before, your gut reaction is to go, “EVASIVE MANEUVERS!” So I braked and swerved, but in the end it really wasn’t enough time to clear the buck. I’m not sure just how much of the deer I hit or how much of the car was actually damaged by the deer, but I’m pretty certain I clocked him in the head on the passenger side, he hit the windshield, shattering the left-hand side. That woke my passenger up, and as you can imagine he started screaming obscenities. The push from the hit, on top of my swerving and breaking, caused my car to fishtail even further into the left-hand lane, and I could feel myself starting to lose control. It’s a sensation I can only compare to having played some broken racing arcade games, like Daytona USA, where the steering wheel is completely loose and barely responsive, and when the game is supposed to give rumbling feedback and feel weighty in your hands, it does none of that at all. At that point it probably didn’t matter which direction I turned the wheel in, it wasn’t gonna matter. And at that speed while we were sliding, that slide soon turned into a roll, rolling further left. We rolled at least twice. My friend and I swear that we might have even felt ourselves roll a third time, but the officer who later surveyed the scene said the evidence suggested we only rolled twice. We finally landed, thankfully right-side up, and in the middle of the grassy median between the northbound and southbound lanes of the I-25 away from any possible traffic that might show up, and the car completely shut itself off aside from its amber parking lights, with my never-used car alarm blaring from somewhere in the trunk.
So, that was a lot of words, but, how long did that whole thing take? I dunno, really. But if I had to make a guess, I’d say from sight of deer to hitting full stop in the grass, maybe 15 seconds. I don’t know, it’s a really rough estimate. I’m just saying, it doesn’t exactly take a whole heck of a lot of time for a lot of damage to go down.
So, my first instinct is to identify how bad I am. I really quickly determined that my left leg felt banged up from my left leg slamming against it and knocking it into the door, but I was otherwise fine. I hardly had to look myself over at all. Which then came the immediate reaction of asking my friend if he was okay. It was dark, but he was talking and I could see him moving. He seemed relatively alright, although reacting to some kind of slight soreness or pain. I immediately said out loud, “I have to call 911!” My phone, shockingly, was still basically where I’d left it, between the driver and passenger seats, although it had been knocked out of its protective rubber case. As I was pulling my phone up, my friend managed to find his phone and use the flashlight app to look me over and see if I was okay. He gave it to me to look him over and… he did not look as okay as I felt I was. I was scared it was so much worse than it ended up being, but the right-hand side of his face was covered in blood, and there was blood and hair on the roof near the window.
The paramedics were relatively quick to arrive, really just a handful of minutes. Ten minutes at the most, maybe? I was really alert, and I think I was pretty calm, able to clearly answer questions with “Yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am”. Standing up wasn’t really a problem, just that slight soreness in my left leg, it seemed. But my friend was taken away in a stretcher. He was pretty alert, though. Actually, I wonder if the worse experience was as they were trying to give him an IV, because he hates needles. His screams were worse with the needle than they were when we were rolling. Before we got in, I was trying hard to find my purse because it had my identification in it. I looked at the car, and it just looked like death. Every window was blown out, the rearview mirrors were gone, and the roof and doors were somewhat crushed in.
We were taken back to a little hospital in Trinidad, Colorado. They gave us excellent care, the best I’d ever had from a hospital. The thing I’m most thankful of is that my friend only had a minor head wound. Once his face was washed all that was scratched up was the top of his head, and even then the scratches weren’t deep. They didn’t even need stitches or glue, they just cleaned it up and bandaged it up, and for the most part he was good to go, although they gave him some other things to take care of himself. If you looked at me, you almost wouldn’t think I was in an accident. But I was pretty concerned for my friend because that whole day he never seemed to have much of an appetite.
I was feeling a lot of different things. One of my perhaps more selfish feelings was that I’d gotten so close to Denver and wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to my friend, Justin, at his memorial. I was pretty broken up about it. I was also feeling incredibly guilty about my friend. I was convinced it was my fault he was hurt now, and in a way I still somewhat feel that way. I honestly don’t know what I would have done with myself if something worse had happened to him. But the people at the hospital comforted me saying, “You know people have accidents, right?” and, “A deer in the road is not your fault.” Heck, even the insurance company is saying I wasn’t at fault because of the deer. But I asked him to come with me, and if I hadn’t done that he wouldn’t be like this now. And looking his mom in the eye when we flew back into San Antonio, all I knew how to do was say, “I’m so sorry.” I couldn’t have handled it if it was worse than that.
Strangely enough, I thought about my own condition very little. In fact, I’m a little weirded out at how I handled a lot of things. I think I was most afraid right before I clipped the buck. I don’t know how loud I said it, but I just had enough time to say, “DEER!” out loud before everything happened. But once we got into the fishtailing, and throughout the rolling, I don’t remember feeling much. I don’t remember my heart pounding. I only remember so much fear. I mean, yeah, there was fear, but it wasn’t, like, terror. In fact, I don’t feel like the scream I was making in the car really sounded like terror. Like, it was a loud, “AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!”, but it wasn’t this blood-curdling sound like you might imagine from a movie. It was just… a noise. I remember once we landed and it was basically all over, I do recall feeling sensation coming back to the tips of my fingers, like either my blood had left my extremities for a while or that was me coming off of adrenaline. But it was only in the tips of my fingers. They say you don’t feel much when you’re in the heat of things and that you’ll feel it all later, but I remember feeling my legs knocking during the roll, and I immediately felt the slight pain and soreness and examined it when we first landed. Since then, nothing else has popped up unexpectedly. Furthermore, the roll seemed strangely smooth, when you think about it. I sort of pictured a roll-over looking kind of bouncy, and granted, I have no idea how we actually looked, but it felt more like being on a pre-built rollercoaster built with smooth corkscrews, and I just wasn’t expecting it. I felt two rolls, but only because my sense of gravity was telling me I was turning upside down. I wasn’t necessarily feeling bounces and slams. You know, I wonder if it would have been more scary in the daylight. At night, I couldn’t see anything during all the rolling. At daylight I might have been able to see everything or get dizzy or something. But there was one other scary thought, although I didn’t think about it until after it was all over, that I had no idea where I was or when we were going to stop.
My friend and I had some incredibly gracious help from some wonderful people - Sarah, Maureen, Jacob, and so many other people. Without all of these people and the care and love of so many people, my friend and I wouldn’t have been able to make it home the following day safely without them.
And I’ll tell you this much; that I was in such an awful accident while on the way to say goodbye to my friend Justin, it has only made me want to finish the FamiKamen Rider movie all that much more, and do it to the best of my ability with Josh, even though we only have so much time. In fact, Matt will be out here prepping to film with us in a week. There’s still so much to do. I need to keep doing this. Maybe it really is what I’m supposed to be doing.
Unlike a lot of people, which I do to an extent understand, I believe that things happen for a reason. I believe that, despite the fact that my friend and I were in an accident, I believe that the fact that we weren’t anywhere near other people, that we landed upright, that we landed away from any possible oncoming traffic, and that I walked away with only bruises, might just be significant. And, if I’m still alive after all that (I mean, I could have been thrown out the window, much like my purse was when they found it on the scene far away from the car), then I think that there’s quite possibly a very real reason for that. There’s still something I’m supposed to be doing. Probably something important. I don’t know what that might be. But whatever it is, I haven’t done it yet.
This is why I said on Twitter that some days, you need to be able to appreciate that you’ve been given the gift of one more day to live. You’ve got to get out there and do something with all the breath you still have left in your lungs. There’s still a point to you being here, even if you can’t see it right in front of your face. Just keep looking. If you haven’t found it yet, it means it hasn’t shown itself to you yet, and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s coming. I can’t tell you when. But it’ll come.
Also, just so we’re clear? Seatbelts. Wear your freaking seatbelts. I might’ve been flung out a wide open, shattered window if not for seatbelts.