Stranded in Suburbia

Stranded in Suburbia

I’m in a bit of an odd predicament.

In my 22nd birthday blog post, I based the whole thing on the fact that there isn’t a lot of external fanfare surrounding 22 compared to 21.

But there is one specific thing that happened when I turned 22, which I sort of alluded to yesterday.

I was able to get a new driver’s license when I turned 21, one that would be horizontal instead of vertical to assure certain establishments that I am of age for things like drinking. But I didn’t have to get my new license because the old one wasn’t expired.

I can no longer say that because the expiration date came yesterday:

IMG_2067
Be glad I’m not showing you the full picture… It’s bad.

For the first time in close to four years, I am no longer legally able to drive myself.

Now I know some of you are probably saying that it shouldn’t matter, because what are the odds of getting pulled over?

Well… Sure. I could still drive around if I wanted, because it’s not like the license is inherently visible unless asked for specifically. I could still do things like hit the gym if I wanted, as I had planned on today to start working off that birthday cake.

After all, I hit 200 lbs on the scale as of my visit to the hematologist last week, and I don’t want to lose too much progress on my journey to become healthier.

But that being said, I live by the same anxieties as my Mom when it comes to these things. Twelve other people could be driving around with expired licenses around me, but with my luck I would be the one who gets caught and pays the price.

So I won’t be driving around on my own today. Just on the off-chance anything happens.

I could still get driven around by my parents, and Mom has gone to the gym with me in the past. It’s not like I’m totally stuck.

… Except for the fact that I stayed home this morning while the rest of the family went out to do chores. Because for some reason I decided doing homework was more important.

And you know, by ‘for some reason’ I mean because I have assignment deadlines.

Deadlines I could be working on instead of this blog post if I didn’t enjoy living on the edge.

Thus, as the title implies, I’m stuck at home doing work today. I even took that artsy Featured Image through the screen door just to imply bars.

Kinda proud of it, honestly.

On the bright side, my pseudo-house arrest shouldn’t last long. I have an appointment at the DMV tomorrow that I’m… Completely looking forward to…

But you know what, if I have to miss my morning class and suffer through government bureaucracy in order to get my driver’s license back, I suppose it will all be worth it in the end.

Who knows, the experience might even give me something interesting to talk about around here.

Guess we’ll just have to see.

A symmetrical birthday

A symmetrical birthday

Another year, another trip around the sun.

Turning 22 doesn’t offer nearly as many significant things to talk about as the ‘milestone’ 21, where drinking and properly oriented drivers’ licenses were officially on the table.

I won’t be starting this post off with a deep, important-sounding remark on the different milestones one hits in life.

Rather, 22 mainly stands out because… It’s symmetrical? I guess?

To be fair, 22 does have some things going for it. Most notably the fact that I’ll be graduating from college during that year. Yikes.

All of that is pretty forward thinking, though. Today there aren’t a whole lot of exciting things going on, as I’ll be saving the friend gatherings for later in the year when more people are back in town.

What I have gotten is a lovely breakfast made by my younger sister:

IMG_2058
Homemade waffles with fruit compote and whipped cream? I’ve been spoiled.

And a couple of birthday gifts from the family that I definitely did not know about from being in the store with them.

That would be ridiculous! I was honestly, truly surprised.

IMG_2059
Look at this adorable surprise!

Aly must know me real well if she thought to get me a Mimikyu-related gift again, totally without my input.

As much as it messes with my head that Sun and Moon came out almost three years ago, my love for this Pikachu lookalike remains strong. Even if I had to pull a Scizor out to take advantage of her weakness.

IMG_2062
Get it?

While Mimikyu and that new Switch controller are the main physical gifts I’ve gotten thus far, I have been eagerly watching all of the digital presents from various organizations roll in.

Like this cute little email from Nintendo helping me celebrate with all those Marro brahs:

IMG_2061
C’mon Bowser don’t be like that. Have some cake with your son.

Unfortunately platinum coins mean basically nothing next to gold coins, which would allow me to buy new video games.

Just give me more gold coins, Nintendo. I promise I’ll keep shilling for you if I can buy more games.

Until you do, I’ll just go back to Planet Fitness for my free water bottle.

IMG_2063
Not a joke.

I think it’s hilarious that my gym wants me to go spend my birthday working out as I’m sitting around eating ice cream cake, but to be fair I am planning on going tomorrow.

So I might actually use a free water bottle, as silly as that is.

At the very least water seems reasonable as an immediate necessity to keep my body working, which gives it an edge over this offer from Facebook:

IMG_1973

I get the sentiment here, getting members to create fundraisers for nonprofit organizations. It’s a nice goal in-and-of itself.

But one dollar? Seriously, Mark?

Pretty sure you could stand to offer a bit more of a generous care package all things considered. I know you have a bajillion users and that money stacks up in the long-run, but even something like $5 would look less silly as a ‘present.’

Alright, I’ll stop fruitlessly complaining at social media companies. I just honestly don’t have all that much more to say. After breakfast we went out for a bit to visit my Grandpa and buy special pasta ingredients for dinner.

We were greeted by a little bit of rain while out shopping, keeping up the tradition of water falling on my birthday.

Though it wasn’t near as bad as my 20th when I brought attention to the issue on the blog.

So that’s not an exciting direction to head down. Nor is all the homework that I’ll unfortunately be stuck doing tonight due to deadlines that leave no room for extensive birthday fun.

I think I’ll just wrap things up here, then. Get back to relaxing, spending some time with family and… Yeah, homework.

Just one more semester and I’ll never have to deal with that again.

As usual, thank you all for the support here on the blog and in my real life endeavors. Particularly to my old colleague/friend Ashlyn Ramirez who gave me shout outs on all the social media platforms unexpectedly.

That girl works hard, she deserves a little extra support!

But for all the rest of you as well, hope you’ll stick around for however many birthdays are still to come.

What it’s like to live in California

What it’s like to live in California

Being a connoisseur of popular culture that often turns a self-reflective mirror on the land of its origin — Hollywood and California as a whole, I’ve heard every joke about the Golden State.

I know all about the country’s perception that CA is a safe haven for crazy health-nut vegans, sunrise surfers-turned-CEOs, nerdy tech moguls living life in their slide-filled Silicon Valley offices and high-price juice shops, stoners riding skateboards down the beach promenade and, of course, fashion-conscious movie stars making the exact same schlock which perpetuates these views.

When they aren’t starring in Marvel films.

Well I’m here to report that all of these stereotypes are, in fact…

Entirely correct.

Even as a 21-year-old native to the west coast, I’ve never quite been in a place that screams ‘California liberal kookiness’ quite as much as Lazy Acres Natural Market.

This place is a Whole Foods-esque supermarket born and raised right here in the Golden State, and I swear it’s the one place you need to bring anybody from a fly-over state to assure them that everything the T.V. says about California is true.

So first off, most of the products are the kind of low-everything, non-GMO, gluten-free products you’d expect to see.

My favorites were these knock-off versions of popular candies

IMG_2038
Sour Blast Buddies, Sweet Fish and… Gummy Bears. Not trademarked I guess?

However, it’s much more fun to look at some of the individual portions of the store beyond generally ‘normal’ things like rows of fruit or 20 bottled water brands.

For instance this chain-specific juice bar/coffee shop:

IMG_2043

Or this absolutely massive collection of nuts:

IMG_2036

Every creed of nut is in this store. I didn’t know there were this many kinds of nuts!

I also didn’t know I could say nut this many times in one place without bursting into laughter.

Maybe the laughter was suppressed by trying to figure out this bizarre self-filling water station:

IMG_2035

Because you know. When I’m looking for “deionized” or “high pH alkaline” water, I want to go to my local supermarket and fill up a jug using a machine that looks like a mutated soda or ice cream dispenser.

That’s definitely one of the weirder things here.

Slightly less weird, but also very Californian, is the fresh sushi bar:

IMG_2041

A sushi bar in the middle of the supermarket.

Sure, why not.

That sushi bar is actually a part of the larger ‘kitchen’ section of the store, where they also sell sandwiches and salad bars full of hot food like mac n’ cheese. Right next to some cafeteria tables and a private room where cooking classes are held.

IMG_2042

Oh but don’t worry, ladies and gentlemen, I saved the best for last.

After everything I’ve shown you, is there any part of a supermarket you think Lazy Acres is missing? Merchandise to show the world you belong to their unique brand, perhaps?

Well yes, that exists.

An Instagram account?

Wouldn’t be a hipster, vegan supermarket without letting fans interact with overproduced brand advertisements over social media.

Or maybe, just maybe…

You think they’re missing a massive beehive right in the middle of the store.

Well, if you thought so, you’d be wrong.

Because they already have it:

IMG_2033

IMG_2034
Not the Bees!

Look, I’ll be honest with all of you right now. When this place opened up in the shopping center over by my house, I didn’t have a particular desire to go in. We only happened to be there tonight to buy dinner.

Looked a little bougie. Real expensive, healthy supermarkets aren’t exactly uncommon in California, so I’d seen plenty and didn’t expect much.

But when I saw a god damn case full of bees in the middle of the store? I lost my mind.

Why would anyone want to go to this place for a second time after they find out there’s an actual, legitimate chance for bees to be released on an unsuspecting urban population in the middle of an enclosed space?

It’s just wild.

If nothing else, I can complement Lazy Acres for having nice counters around the edges. The meat, seafood and bakery sections all had good selections:

Plus I got a really nice meal out of the kitchen area!

IMG_2048

Yet unfortunately, alongside the craziness of the bees, it also introduced me to this monstrosity…

IMG_2045

So I’m pretty sure everything balances out and I will never go back to this crazy place.

California hath bested me.

Man remains the most extraordinary machine

Man remains the most extraordinary machine

Valentine’s Day 2019 will officially go down as the Valentine’s Day where I truly learned the value of a human touch.

Because when automatic email reply systems fail, you really need to break through and get an actual person on the other side.

What did you think I was referring to?

Oh, well okay I guess I can see where you were coming from. But no, it’s definitely not that.

Guess I should provide you with a little more context just to make sure we don’t get confused from here on out.

Toward the end of last semester, I was contacted by the Co-Curricular Coordinator for the University Honors Program on campus. Because I had applied to join the Honors Student Advisory Council earlier (in one of my attempts to find something other than the Daily Titan to focus on), he wanted to offer me the chance to create an event alongside other prior applicants.

I believe the argument was that they didn’t want to let all of the extra talent and brain power disappear on the breeze. Couldn’t argue with that.

Especially since it would let me put ‘event planner’ on my resume.

So this semester I’ve been working with another Honors student to set up an event for late March. A lot of the details are still being designed, but essentially we’ve decided to host a panel about networking in various industries.

The Honors Program is interdisciplinary, so having tips from all across the career spectrum seemed like a nice idea.

I’ve mostly been working on finding panelists to bring in, but the first step in that process was getting someone from the CSUF Career Center to jump on board. They seemed like a much more natural choice for a panel moderator who could keep the conversation focused on what a broad range of different students might need.

Last week I went into the Career Center and spoke with one of the students at the desk, who left a written message for the Associate Director of the center.

I also sent along a follow-up email, just for the sake of making sure the message got across.

However, despite my best efforts, I didn’t hear back from anyone leading into this week. So before my group met up again, I stopped by the Career Center one more time. They suggested I submit a workshop request through their website forum, as that apparently gets checked more often.

Today I finally got my response from the Career Center. Which recommended I… Submit a workshop request.

Through the same link I had submitted the request that the Career Center was replying to.

Definitely something a bit screwy about that automatic response.

I sent another email back letting them know how weird the response was, seeing whether I had missed something or could talk to someone in a face-to-face meeting. With the Associate Director added .

About five minutes after I sent that, she responded to me directly.

Then ten or so minutes after that, once I elaborated on what we were looking for, she sent off the message to Career Center specialists seeing who might be available.

All was good in the world, and I could finally move on to step two of my portion of the planning.

It just figures that only fifteen minutes were required to solve an issue I was waiting over a week for, simply because I finally got through to the right human being.

So this Valentine’s Day, if you’re sad and alone like I am, just remember that real human beings can make life better even if they aren’t doing it in that way.

Peace and love and all that good stuff.


Image Courtesy of Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons

My thoughts on the February 13, 2019 Nintendo Direct

My thoughts on the February 13, 2019 Nintendo Direct

How sweet of Nintendo to give us an early Valentine’s Day present this year!

We’ve got games, games and more games to discuss out of a brand new Nintendo Direct.

I’ll be talking about the larger, more exciting subjects (to me) in detail before lumping the rest together for a quick mop-up at the end. So if you want to follow along, feel free! I’ll try to include individual trailer links where possible.

That said, let’s a go!


dims

Image courtesy of Engadget

Super Mario Maker 2

Oh man, if there was any reason to own a Wii U, it was Super Mario Maker.

When I got mine, it was in a Mario Maker bundle that included this neat Mario Amiibo:

IMG_2031
Ain’t he the cutest?

I spent hours making levels on the game pad, and the sheer amount of creativity oozing out of all corners of the Nintendo universe during its time in the spotlight was something to behold!

Plus it made for excellent YouTube fodder. Watching the Game Grumps play Ross’s hard levels, the endless hours of Beard Bros. fan levels

Can’t wait to see that come back in vogue.

While I eventually moved on with Splatoon, Super Mario 3D World and Twilight Princess HD, my Wii U was undoubtedly a Super Mario Maker machine.

So seeing the Mario Maker 2 trailer featuring all kinds of new additions like sloped platforms, moving pathways and the Mario 3 angry sun was really hype to say the least. Especially for a portable system!

Given the first game’s pedigree and the sheer amount of improvements for an already creative powerhouse, I’ll be more than happy to drop some money on this come June.


H2x1_NSwitch_FireEmblemThreeHouses_image1600w
Image courtesy of Nintendo UK

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

There was a decent amount of RPG news for fans to soak up in this Direct.

Dragon Quest had Builders 2 — even though I forgot the first game was a thing — and 11S Definitive Edition. I haven’t personally played a DQ game, but 11 looks like a fun, polished game with a cute 16-bit mode.

If nothing else, I’ll be expecting the protagonist as a Smash Bros. DLC.

The original Final Fantasy 7 and 9 Switch ports got some recognition, as did Chocobo Mystery Dungeon. Plus Square Enix has Oninaki coming, which looks pretty.

Plus who can argue with a Symphony of the Night-inspired platforming RPG in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night?

However.

My heart belongs to Fire Emblem.

So Jason was a happy boy seeing more Fire Emblem: Three Houses in this Direct.

The segment kicked off with a lore-filled cinematic about the titular three houses in this new continent, the customizable player protagonist’s place in the story and more.

The leaders of the three houses — Edelgard of the Adrestian Empire, Dimitri of the Kingdom of Faerghus and Claude of the Leicester Alliance — all got some attention too. You only get to choose one, which will presumably branch into three campaigns.

Only this time we just have to buy one game!

The most interesting thing about Three Houses is that it looks like a high school anime, filled with vaguely Harry Potter-esque sensibilities and Fire Emblem mechanics.

Rather than a tactician, you are a teacher with students making up your ‘army.’

All of the battles (presumably before a real war breaks out) are considered training assignments, despite featuring such tasks as “quashing rebellions.”

In general the premise and scope of the game seems very interesting compared to most Fire Emblem titles. I’m excited to see where they go with it!

… I’m also excited to see Intelligent Systems announce a Heroes banner with the three leader characters sometime before the July 26 release date.

You know it’ll happen.


Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 10.42.01 PM

Deltarune

Ostensibly, there’s nothing to say about this game that I haven’t already said. It doesn’t need a whole section here.

But I adore Deltarune, and it broke into my top games of 2018 list. So if you haven’t played it yet and own a Switch, just get the game on February 28.

Do it, nerds.


Unknown
Image courtesy of Engadget

Link’s Awakening

I heard vague rumors floating around that a top-down Zelda game would be announced at this Direct, but I wasn’t expecting this to come crashing into the spotlight.

Now that I know about it, I’m pretty damn excited!

There are nothing but good things said about Link’s Awakening, and as a fan of Link Between Worlds-style Zelda games it’ll be sweet to finally play it.

I know the original 1993 GameBoy version has been available on multiple platforms for years, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

Now I can justify putting it off by saying I waited for this brand new experience in an absolutely adorable Pikmin-esque art style!

The ‘2019’ release date is vague, but Marin humming the game’s theme over the end card sent a shiver down my spine. So I’m ready to wait for you, Wind Fish.


Those were my high points in today’s Direct, but there were plenty of other games spotlighted!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate got a lame teaser for it’s upcoming 3.0.0 update where we found out nothing, other than Amiibo coming for the Belmonts and Pokémon Trainer.

Updates were announced for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Starlink, the latter featuring more Star Fox characters. I don’t own either, but still neat.

Demos were announced for Yoshi’s Crafted World, Daemon X Machina and Tetris 99.

… The last of which being a battle royale-styled Tetris game? I’m definitely going to have to try that and see if it’s as weird as it sounds.

Hellblade, Dead by Daylight and Rune Factory 4 are all getting ports for the Switch (plus Rune Factory 5 was announced). I’m not sure I’ll have the time to get to those over everything else, but I’ve heard great things about them all.

Mortal Kombat 11 and a remasted Assassin’s Creed 3 (from what I understand the best of the series) are coming to Switch.

Yet there were games I didn’t particularly care for, like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Box Box + Box Girl (basically my TI-83 calculator game), Disney Tsum Tsum Festival and GRID Autosport car racing among them.

But that said, it’s hard to say there’s not something here for everyone, even if they aren’t for me!

… Unless you’re a fan of Bayonetta. Because Bayonetta 3 only got a brief ‘in progress’ mention after PlatinumGames‘ Astral Chains was announced.

Still, the future of the Nintendo Switch continues to be promising!

Which games stood out most to you in today’s Direct? Let me know, I’d love to start up some conversations!

Unorthodox historical documents

Before you get too far into this, I’m not actually talking about serious historical documents. I didn’t go digging into libraries or brush up on family photos or anything nearly as reputable as that.

I guess we did talk about a lot of interesting Supreme Court precedents in my Comm Law class tonight, so I could talk about some of those. Like Virginia v. Black or RAV v. City of St. Paul — both dealing with burning crosses, funny enough.

Or… Not really funny, I guess. Since we were covering dangerous forms of speech like incitement to violence tonight.

But you know what, that’s all boring legal junk. I have a much more exciting topic than First Amendment protections.

See after Comm Law tonight, I made a stop in the latrine on my way out of the education building’s basement. Normally I’m not one to talk about what happens in the bathroom, but I think I need to make an exception just this once.

Written on the stall wall next to a urinal, I found this actual for real historical document:

IMG_2030
“Pornhub is free – 2/14/18”

I probably would have totally overlooked this if not for the fact that it’s a year old in literally two days. Looks like smut makes for a happy Valentine’s Day!

The fact that I just so happened to find it so close to the one-year anniversary of what is being advertised was so funny to me that I felt a mighty need to share.

Plus, I guess I may as well be a shill for Pornhub at this point considering I wrote an entire post about their site analytics last semester. Something about that website in particular can’t escape my orbit.

I would consider this chance encounter something serendipitous after not too much exciting stuff happened throughout the day.

… Though right next to it was another quote saying that, “bitches ain’t shit,” attributed to the great foul-mouthed wordsmith Robert Frost. So I suppose you can take the cosmic underlying interest in my finding the timely vandalism with a grain of salt.

It was just bathroom wall carvings, after all.

Frankly I was just happy to find something more fun, entertaining even in a stall in the Education building — even if it’s only entertaining to me from some purely meta-textual sense. Last time I was in that building looking at wall carvings, it was some kind of vaguely threatening “don’t come to school on X day” message a couple of years ago.

Can’t seem to find my photos or any sort of Daily Titan story on that, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure we wrote a thing about it. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Either way, you’re definitely getting the much more fun story.

Fantastical Creatures

/me hopes that title is different enough to avoid any sort of legal action from Warner Bros. or J.K. Rowling

With Dad at work and Mom + Aly off in Disneyland where the youngin’ was marching in a parade (which would be a much more exciting story if it was mine to tell), I had the house to myself today.

So obviously I partied hard with some friends, got messed up on drugs, died and am now writing this from the grave.

Boo.

In all seriousness, I didn’t party too hard and become a spooky, scripting spirit. As cool as that would be.

I actually had a chill afternoon all on my lonesome. I didn’t even leave the house outside of going to the gym.

After two weekends of running around doing things with relatives, it was nice to take it slow and focus on my own stuff. Mostly because all of the running around made me fall behind on my novel-writing schedule.

20 pages a week doesn’t seem like too much until you get hit with the roadblock of a death in the family.

But luckily, I was able to rectify that setback with a nice, quiet day on the couch.

At this point I’ve made it to ~35 pages, with my goal being at least 40 before tomorrow.

So far everything is shaping up far nicer than in my original 12-page attempt at a draft. I’ve actually made it past the first major set piece of the story: An underground cavern with a single room at the end of it.

… Exciting, I know. I promise it sounds better with in-depth descriptions!

One of the more interesting bits of research I’ve done recently to push my writing forward was, as the title suggests, finding the right mythical Tolkien-esque creature to fit the slot of an antagonistic race for my main characters.

Luckily my friend Sam is a bit of a Dungeons and Dragons savant and came up with a whole bunch of possibilities when I asked if there were any good avian-themed monsters I could use.

Why avian specifically? It was a jokey idea when I was writing that early draft that started when I described a helmet as beak-like, and stuck so I could make one of my characters call them “birdbrains.”

So… Bird people. Seemed legit.

I didn’t quite expect there to be so many different kinds of bird people, however. There really is a ton to unpack when you delve into the inner-machinations of an experience like D&D.

Probably the most obvious and well-known example is the Harpy.

636252781955908234
Courtesy of DnD Beyond

Pretty famous representative from Greek mythology. Not a bad choice, but a little too much of a monster-monster for my tastes.

The kind of creature you can see mindlessly attacking, but not necessarily forming an advanced society.

So next came the Kenku.

3f36740642afc9d168847c5271ff2ecc
Courtesy of Giger’s 5E D&D

Definitely a closer match, given their clear propensity for humanoid dress and a variety of roles in warfare.

However, the crow look is a bit too inherently evil-looking, and they are quite a sinister race apparently. Was looking for more of a neutral appearance.

Plus they cannot fly in the lore, which is something I wanted to include.

So Kenku were a no.

Luckily the third choice, Aarakorca, was perfect.

636286750209394240
Courtesy of DnD Beyond

Check out these majestic bastards.

Not only are they a perfect blend of humanoid and avian features to make for a fairly human-like sensibility in my story, but the extra lore features from D&D — their obsession with self-grooming, bilingualism, status as traveling explorers and the fact that they look like giant birds while flying — make great tie-ins to my story’s purpose for them.

Namely… To be a surrogate for Napoleonic-era French society.

Yeah, that’s right.

It’ll be even weirder when I write about their leader riding around on a horse despite being a literal birdman. And I love it.

Being able to gather all sorts of new knowledge on interesting fantasy creatures has been a great pleasure of mine over the course of this project. It’s essentially an amalgamate of some of my favorite video games, movies and books in the fantasy genre, so the more I can include the better.

Wargroove is the big contributor of new ideas to my concoction at the moment, but that game deserves its own story another day.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to writing so I can finish this section I’m in the middle of. Who knows, perhaps I’ll start to trickle out passages and chapters for advice in the near future.

All I know now is that this line kind of defines my brain.

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 9.02.16 PM

My Grandpa is Into the Spider-Verse

Broke away from my homework long enough today to venture into the wild, rainy yonder so I could spend some time with the family.

Not the usual suspects though.

No, today I went out to the movies with my sister, cousins Josh and Erica, as well as our collective Grandpa Joe!

IMG_2027
Ain’t we the cutest?

After all the unexpected chaos of Grandma Rhea last weekend, we decided it would be a good idea to spend a bit more time with the big lug. Get him out of the home, have some fun.

So we took him out to the movies, and lunch soon after!

As the cheeky, self-reference headline suggests, we all watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. For Josh and I, it was a repeat viewing. For the rest it was a first.

I’m sure a lot of you will remember that I fricken adored that movie the first time I caught it.

Pleased to report that I liked it just as much, if not more, on the second go.

However, I imagine the more pertinent question on your mind is how my Grandpa felt.

Well… The reaction I got after the movie ended was, “It was alright. But I wouldn’t see it again.”

I can’t blame him. There’s a whole lot of action and visual overload throughout the film for an 87-year-old.

Granted I’m not sure it matters, all things being equal. The important part is he had a great time being out with us, especially at Johnathan J. Rockets afterward where we could chat and eat.

Might not know who his favorite spider-person was, but I’m still glad to have shared one of my favorite recent movies with him.

Grandpa wasn’t the only one seeing Spider-Verse for the first time, however. Alyson and Erica both seemed to love it, and I’m definitely looking forward to doing this gag on repeat.

For my money, the movie stayed fresh thanks to easter eggs and foreshadowing moments early on.

I live for that shit, and movies that do them well tend to become some of my favorites. Like Fight Club.

Except I’m not going to talk about Fight Club. It’s in the rules.

Instead I’ll use a part of this post to talk about some of my favorite moments of foreshadowing here, since they add a great dimension to the film.

If you haven’t seen Spider-Verse yet, don’t read past this point. I don’t care that it’s probably past spoiler barrier, it’s still an experience I’d recommend fresh.

That means you, Mom and Dad. Don’t be reading this next part yet.

Continue reading “My Grandpa is Into the Spider-Verse”

Family Fire Emblem-y love is in the air

Family Fire Emblem-y love is in the air

Ah Valentine’s Day. What a lovely day of loving loveable people.

Except for those of us who don’t have a significant other to spoil in that romantic kind of way.

Like me!

For us, there’s only one way to celebrate this most commercial day of love:

Playing Fire Emblem Heroes. Naturally.


GreilHeroic Exemplar

  • Faithful Axe (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 during combat.
  • Aether (Cooldown = 5)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent during combat. Restores Health = half the damage dealt.
  • Fury 4 (A Skill)
    • Grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +4. After combat, deals 8 damage to unit.
  • Wary Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent, unit and foe cannot make a follow-up attack.
  • Armor March (C Skill)
    • At start of the turn, if unit is adjacent to an armored ally, both units can move one extra space (that turn only, does not stack).

SorenAddled Strategist

  • Blárblooms (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 during combat.
  • Rally Attack/Speed (Range = 1)
    • Grants Attack and Speed +6 to target ally for one turn.
  • Attack/Resistance Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Resistance +5 during combat.
  • Speed Feint (B Skill)
    • If a Rally Assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, inflicts Speed -7 on foes in cardinal directions of unit through their next actions.
  • Resistance Opening (C Skill)
    • At start of the turn, grants Resistance +6 to ally with the highest Resistance for one turn (excluding unit).

MistPurest Spirit

  • Gronnblooms (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 during combat.
  • Rally Defense/Resistance (Range = 1)
    • Grants Defense and Resistance +6 to target ally for one turn.
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Resistance Feint (B Skill)
    • If a Rally Assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, inflicts Resistance -7 on foes in cardinal directions of unit through their next actions.
  • Green Tome Valor (C Skill)
    • While unit lives, all green tome allies on team net 2x Skill Points (only highest value applied, does not stack).

IkeStalwart Heart

  • Heart’s Blade (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +3 during combat.
  • Radiant Aether (Cooldown = 4)
    • During combat, treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent. Restores Health = 50 percent of damage dealt.
  • Distant Counter (A Skill)
    • Unit can counterattack regardless of foe’s range.
  • Special Fighter (B Skill)
    • At the start of combat, if unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 to unit and inflicts -1 on foe per attack (only highest value applied, does not stack).
  • Even Speed Wave (C Skill)
    • At the start of even-numbered turns, grants Speed +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus granted to unit even if no allies are adjacent).

Right off the bat, I think it’s worth noting that I vastly preferred the approach taken by last year’s Valentine’s Day banner.

There we had Roy and Lilina as a romantic pairing, with their fathers cutely handling the potential relationship in different ways.

With this banner, Ike and his sister reunite with their father. As sweet as it is, I can’t speak to the impact of the character relationships having never played the Radiant games.

Plus Valentine’s Day is usually about romantic love more than family love, so the choice to add Greil here seems a bit bizarre. Why not for Father’s Day?

That being said, Greil — namesake of The Greil Mercenaries, is an interesting character pull.

He’s also easily the best unit on this banner, despite being yet another armored axe-wielder. That power-crept Fury and weapon provide +7 to each stat when next to an ally, and if that ally is armored he also gets to move an extra space.

The other three don’t work quite as well with the same weapon gimmick in my opinion, as Mist and Soren are both different flavors of the new Feint/Rally skill combo and Ike is another long-range red armor.

He’s the second best thing on the banner because Black Knight is a broken unit archetype, but that’s almost a given when Ike is involved.

I kind of feel like I should have used my orbs to invest more into the Duma banner, considering I got neither Duma nor Tiki.

But I can’t be mad because Intelligent Systems gave me a very nice Valentine’s Day present:

IMG_2001

Both at 3 percent? Sure I might be a little salty that Mist and Greil are in the same color pool, but this kind of luck is unheard of for me.

If there’s anything I can complain about, it’s the genetic likelihood that Ike and his sister each have unique hair colors from their brown-haired father…

It’s almost like the game developers wanted cool hair colors and didn’t focus too much on continuity.

Or the Ike family has some weird recessive genes. I suppose.

The two-year anniversary events have given me the chance to save up a bunch of orbs, so with my luck I’ll save up to see who else comes around next.

Speaking of saving orbs, how about that new Paralogue chapter?

Segue: Nailed.


IMG_2002

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While the aesthetic of the Valentine’s Day maps aren’t my favorite, the actual Paralogue story offers something refreshingly new.

Instead of leading off with the “Order of Heroes goes to get money or food” cliché, this Paralogue doesn’t mention you at all.

It starts with the Greil Mercenaries lamenting Ike’s complaints over his outfit as he slows them down.

Even though it’s kind of what he always wears.

Everyone is shocked to see Greil alive, when he shows up, and It’s really quite nice seeing Ike and Mist so happy to see their father.

Then a few battles pass and we get this scene where Soren is being hella gay for Ike.

So I guess there is romance on this banner?

Everything goes rather smooth until the final battle, which ends with a slightly awkward transition of Greil suggesting that the Order of Heroes surrendered after you defeat them.

I can let it slide, as that moves into another nice scene of the children trying to get their father back.

img_2022.png

D’aww! It nearly crosses the line into being sickly sweet, but I love the character moment and references to Ike’s maturity over two games.

By trimming the usual fat of Anna being vaguely reprehensible as a leader, Intelligent Systems made for a really nice alternate universe story that I quite enjoyed more than most Paralogues.

… Granted, it did make me wonder why Ike and his family got this special treatment when, for example, we had the Hoshidan mother Mikoto brought back to life in Heroes not too long ago with no fan fare.

But hey. All I continue to look for is a return to some new Sacred Stones characters considering we haven’t seen any since before last Valentine’s Day. I’m a simple man.


There we have it, Valentine’s Day 2019 in Fire Emblem Heroes.

The banner units might just be okay, but that’s made up for by a very nice underlying premise.

Those of you who play the game might be wondering why I didn’t do some kind of joint ‘update banner’ post to talk about the Bane/Boon system, new weapon refines, Aether Raids changes and Dragon flowers.

Well… Mostly because I’m kind of burnt out on the mechanical stuff in Heroes. At the moment I’m playing the game for new characters, even if I appreciate things that have been added.

So I think I’ll skip out on some of the update info for a bit and keep my writing focused on banners, just to keep the game more fun for me.

That said, let me know what you think about these holiday units, and tell me who you want to see in the game next!

I’m a Barbie girl.

I’m a Barbie girl.

For my Gaming in American Culture class today, we spent a good two hours or so playing board games.

As a means of practicing different ways of analyzing games. Not for fun.

Except… There was a lot of fun being had in my group.

Because we played The Barbie Game: Queen of the Prom.

In case you can’t read it through the box glare, the tag line for the game is “A fun game with real life appeal for all girls.”

Developed in the 1960s.

If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, I don’t know what will.

That being said, I’m still about to tell you everything you need to know because by God this game is phenomenal in how atrocious it is.

Yet, we need to talk about some decent aspects of the game first. Namely its aesthetic presentation.

IMG_1977

There’s some cacophony on first glance, but the board itself is quite well laid out and screams art deco.

The box itself also comes with this nifty stage for all of the different relevant cards and bank money:

img_1980.jpg

Don’t worry, I’ll get into what these mean soon enough.

Our version of the game, provided by the professor, also happened to include some extra charm in the way of additional player pieces:

IMG_1978
Naturally I was an origami swan.

So the game is pretty and well laid out.

Unfortunately, that does not save it from being a perfect window into the sexist ways of the 1960s.

So what is the “real life appeal for all girls” that this game boasts?

Well, obviously the ultimate goal is to become prom queen.

IMG_1990
You get there through a lovely crowd of all-white, male/female couples. Unless of course your dress hem is down.

In order to make the arduous journey to prom, there are three things that you (presumably as one of four different Barbie girls™) need to collect along the way.

  1. A prom dress — This one actually makes a decent amount of sense.
  2. A steady boyfriend — Not just a boyfriend. You can get a boyfriend, but he won’t be REAL until he asks you out at a football game and you go steady. Also these are your choices:

    IMG_1980
    One of these things is not like the other, and his name is Poindexter.
  3. The presidency in a school club — Seriously, how do you expect to be prom queen if you aren’t even the president of the drama club? You plebe.

With all three, you can achieve true supremacy.

Oh, and that’s only half a joke. The game is designed to make it harder for players to catch up if one is ahead. For instance, most of the club spaces are specific, so players who land there after you cannot receive the same presidency.

Though they may not want to considering how inept the drama club is.

IMG_1982
Mattel is currently reporting a net income of $14.9 million a year.

On top of that, two players cannot share a single boyfriend, so it might be harder to find the stragglers.

That said, boyfriends can’t be THAT hard to come by. Especially if you’re the most popular girl in school.

IMG_1984
Just toss the losers.

Or you get set up on a double date.

IMG_1987
The blinder, the better!

Or you know that some loser is an exploitable secret admirer.

IMG_1988
Fun fact, Poindexter wrote my friend Mimi a poem and got it published in a newspaper. He gave her $5 of the $10 he made from selling the copy… But didn’t ask her out on a date.

Or even better, just pick one out of a hat!

IMG_1986
That’s him! He’s yours!

It’s amazing that I never scored a boyfriend during our playtime when there are so many of them getting thrown about.

… Though that said I might not have wanted one, when date time includes things like this:

IMG_1981
Too bad there’s not a ‘dump his ass’ option.

So finally, there’s the prom dress. I saved this one for last because it’s arguably the most interesting as a game mechanic.

There are four dresses. The cheapest is $30 and the most expensive is $65.

In 2019 that sounds dope as hell. However, this is also Inflation: the game.

You start with $25 and make (typically) $5 at most. One of the few exceptions to that rule is a perfect example of why players who aren’t quick enough to get the cheap dresses are basically screwed.

IMG_1989
Thanks for nothing, Daddy.

All things considered, these goals might not seem like that much compared to a game like Monopoly, where you need to own the entire planet, build out hotels and literally bankrupt all of your friends (as well as your friendships with them).

But what I haven’t told you is that The Barbie Game has one four-sided dice.

So you’re moving around the board at a snail’s pace. While there are a number of spaces and “surprise” cards that allow you to go to whatever part of the board you want — arguably the only semblance of strategy in the entire experience, there are an infinitum more ways to wind up getting sent back home.

We found that this in itself was an interesting commentary on the nature of a teenage girl in the 60s only being able to go out to do one thing at a time before forcibly getting dragged back home for any number of reasons.

But you know. 2019 foresight again.

To extend the game’s runtime even further, there are a few different spaces which do literally nothing.

IMG_1983
This one was the best.

There was some 2010s time traveler in the room when they made this game who threw in this sarcastic Internet-era joke, I swear.

We didn’t get to finish a full game, so unfortunately I can’t regale you with the triumphant story of some lucky prom queen. But I hope if nothing else, this gave you a very interesting look into the mindset of people more than 50 years ago.

Good thing we’ve moved past this kind of stuff.

Oh wait that’s right, this was a reprint of the game.

IMG_1991
Who decided it was a good idea to bring this back in the mid-2000s??

We haven’t learned shit.

Luckily my group played a much better game soon after to wipe away the tears.

IMG_1992