Insomnia Samurai

Growing up I was one of those kids that kept their mothers up at all hours of the night. It wasn’t because I was crying, it was just that I was awake, and wanted attention.

It wasn’t until I was 5 that my parents realized I had insomnia. I’d compare insomnia to something like being a werewolf minus all the cool perks. Unless you loved late night reruns like I did. I used to be able to recite terrible local commercials and knew all of the off beat shows. This instantly made me the “weirdo” in school. Which, let’s be honest was inevitable anyways.

One night there was a Japanese movie on at 3am. It was old and terribly translated samurai movie. It was amazing, inspiring, epic, romantic, and adventurous. It literally had everything you could want in a film. At the time I only caught the first part of the movie. This movie was so long they had to have an intermission in the middle. For some reason they only played the first part so I had no idea how it ended or the title of the movie. I remember checking the paper for the TVGuide and it was a blank slot. For a second I thought “was I dreaming”? I spent the next several weeks trying to find this movie. I went to flea markets, china town, and foreign cinema stores trying to find it. I didn’t have much luck off the bat. Keep in mind this was a time before the internet, so it was really hard finding stuff like this. Eventually, I found it “Seven Samurai” on VHS in video rental store on the used for sale shelf. I must’ve watched that movie a hundred or so times. I remember ruining the tape from watching it so much. 

On my twelfth birthday I joined a karate dojo because of that movie. I wanted to learn to defend myself and learn more about Japanese culture. Gary, an older Japanese guy with an extremely loud voice was our sensei (instructor). Gary had the voice of a lion, and for the first 3 weeks of class I was scared of him. Gary drove an  old muscle car and had slicked back hair, almost like like he was living in a different time. He was a good guy and sort of a father figure when my old man wasn’t. He used to pick me up and drop me off from lessons. I admired him so much as a kid.

In addition to  learning to defend ourselves, Gary taught us the practice of  deep meditative breathing. Meditating taught me how to calm my mind and eventually how to fall asleep before midnight. Keep in mind, it wasn’t something that happened right away. It took about six months for the change in sleep habits to occur.  By the time I was 18, I was sleeping like a log, up to a solid 7-9 hours of sleep versus 4-6 hours when I was younger. I still liked staying up late though.

In retrospect, it’s really funny how much one movie influenced my life.

Read more on kickstarter here.

Remember that “Giannii” guy?

On September 3rd, 2007 I joined an online community called “Seesmic" which at the time was an online video blogging community. It was really ahead of it’s time but unfortunately launched during a time when computer cameras were not commonly in use. So that model failed.

When I signed up for Seesmic I used the pseudonym “Giannii” which eventually was very commonly known as my name, online handle, gamertag, and middle name place holder.

Video Appearances:

Why Giannii?

I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone. -Henry Rollins

I’m half Greek and Italian. Literally split down the middle genetically. My full birth given name is Michael Allen Calvert which sounds like some random white boy. Allen was my fathers brother that he didn’t care for, so I’m not sure why I received that middle name. It really bothered me later in life. All things accumulated, I felt the urge to change my name to something ethnic and unique. Something that emphasized both my heritages. So one night eating tacos and waiting for a Starcraft game to queue up. I decided to change my name to “Giannii”.

Giovanni is a common italian name and Giannis (Yiannis) is a common greek name. I found a name that covered both heritages, it was perfect.

Why the rogue vowel?

Since Gianni was a commonly used name, I couldn’t register it anywhere online. So I added an extra “i” and the online world of usernames opened to me. I even used to have the .com at one point but I ended up selling it.

Why use Michael now?

I moved to New York a couple years ago and since then I started using Michael again. Since The Seesmic days I felt like Giannii became a character that people horribly misdefined and it ruined the name for me. People didn’t know who I really was and always referred to the character I played online. A lot of pro wrestlers like Pat Patterson and Rowdy Roddy Piper experienced this throughout their lives. People remember the character and not the person. I wanted people to know me for who I am. So I removed almost every aspect of the “Giannii” branding from my life. The only remnant now is a “G” place holder for my middle name. I needed to keep the “G” in my name otherwise people wouldn’t easily connect me with my past from a business perspective. With that said, I don’t mind if you call me G but I prefer Michael.

It’s been a fascinating experience reverting back to my birth given name.

P-RAWRdical June 2014

I recently sent out my first newsletter, like ever.. It was a big step for me being pretty offline these past 2 years and not really sharing my work. As you can see that has started to change.

I’ve decided to send the email edition 3-4 times a year to be less spammy.

If you want to get the bi-yearly edition via email, you can subscribe here. If you want more frequent updates you can follow us here on tumblr, twitter or Facebook. Whatever you prefer.  =)

What I’m playing

I’ve just started playing Hearthstone pretty frequently (like every night) and stream it on Twitch. It’s one of those games that I didn’t see coming especially from Blizzard that hasn’t had the best track record over the past year or so. I really have to tip my hat to them for this one. It’s deceptively simple and extremely fun.

If you ever want to play Hearthstone with me you can add me on (rawrsoft#1124), follow my stream on Twitch, or come out to one of the Hearthstone Fireside Gatherings that just started in New York. I’ll definitely be at the next one on June 28th.


Destructoid Game Night NYC

It really was a privilege to host, have, and be apart of this event. I’ve been a member of Destructoid for a very long time. Thanks for coming out, it was a lot of fun. 

If you’re curious about the event, I wrote a blog post about touching on community both online and offline. You can find more pictures here.

Working on any games?

As a matter a fact, yes. I’ll start posting game art and snippets here over the next 30 days.

Thanks for reading and supporting us. It means a lot.

-Michael and Einstein aka rawrsoft

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