Month: March 2017

Springtime for Heroes

In non-real life related news, my timing with putting out a post catching up on news in Fire Emblem: Heroes yesterday turned out to be impeccable.  Today there was an update to the game, introducing a paralogue and four “new” characters that are incredible in how silly they are.

Much in the tradition of events like the Hot Springs Scramble in Fire Emblem Awakening, Heroes has brought players a Spring Festival to celebrate the season that appears very grounded in the aesthetic decor of Easter. Awakening’s Exalted family members Lucina and Chrom as well as Fire Emblem Fates’ Nohrian Prince Xander and Princess Camilla have been given an alternative character skin and abilities. These heroes can, of course, be summoned through a new focus.

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As also seems to have become the usual affair in terms of updates to the mobile title, this special focus comes with its own set of special missions and a story paralogue showcasing the new characters. These offer the chance for players to earn 10 orbs and a variety of other small prizes from completion tasks involving the paralogue missions.

Now, the idea of a Ylissian Spring Festival drawing in heroes from various worlds to dress in bunny costumes, paint eggs and fight with weapons like comically massive carrots may seem ridiculous…

It is.  It’s very ridiculous to be completely honest, to the point that when I first saw everything for this event I was pretty turned off to it.  At the core of what it is, the Spring Festival seems to be fan service more than anything – an excuse to get popular characters in silly and arguably sexualized outfits just for the sake of doing it.

But then I actually played through the paralogue, and seeing the goofy, somewhat out-of-character dialogue is a treat in its own right, enough so that I wound up loving it.

The missions start innocently enough, with Prince Alfonse and Princess Sharena inviting you to join them at the Spring Festival, which apparently hosts an undefined battle tournament.

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Once you arrive, you’re quickly introduced to the re-imagined royal units in a series of three stages, each of which showing just how… Quirky they are.

The characters also talk amongst themselves in pairings that would never get to met outside of Heroes:

Amazing words by the man holding a massive carrot as a spear

On top of that, these special characters get new skills that do things like increase the amount of rewards you get after battles, as well as special weapons and even silly descriptions that reveal more about the “backstory” of the Spring Festival.

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This description is my favorite – invoking Corrin is a nice touch

That’s about all there is to the Spring Festival. It’s ridiculous in all kinds of ways and I can imagine some people might even find it demeaning… But it hooked me with just how over-the-top everything is.  I’m already through all of the special quests (since they are geared more toward a new player level range for the most part) and I’ve gotten all the orbs that can be collected, so at this point I’ll just be biding my time and hoping to have the chance to summon one of the new spring-specific heroes.

Especially since the last focus disappear when I had a 4.75 percent chance to summon a five-star or a five-star focus hero. Seriously, that stings.

Oh, and also, kudos to anyone who picks up on the reference in my post title, since I’m hoping the callback isn’t lost on everyone but me.

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Visiting the L.A. Weekly

Visiting the L.A. Weekly

Today I had the chance to visit the office of the L.A. Weekly in Culver City.  I know the publisher, Mathew Cooperstein, because he’s the father of one of my younger sister’s good friends, so we’ve been talking about the possibility of my coming over to tour their office for some time.  With Spring Break this week, everything just so happened to line up perfectly for me to check the place out, and I’m really glad I finally got to do it.

Not only did I get to tour the office, which is housed in a pretty awesome looking building as I’m sure you can see in the featured image I have above, I also had the chance to sit down and chat with both Coop and the L.A. Weekly’s Managing Editor Drew Tewksbury. Both of them were really receptive and nice, and it was great to be able to swap stories and get some advice from people who have been entrenched in the news industry longer than I have.

Drew and I talked more about the writing side of things, both for short-form daily (or in their case, weekly and heavily online-based) reporting and for deeper investigative stories. Meanwhile, Coop talked with me more about the advertorial side and about things like community outreach, audience demographics and search engine optimization.

While I was at the office, I also picked up a couple copies of their two most recent publications: A regular issue with the cover story about deportees sent to Tijuana and their special 99 Essential Restaurants issue.

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Jason McGahan‘s story on the deportees is really stellar, and I’d recommend reading it here if you have the chance.

All-in-all I had a great time going to the L.A. Weekly, and I’d love to get the opportunity to go again one day.

 

My 2017 Spring Break obsession

While a lot of people took off on exotic vacations for this often beloved week off in the middle of the semester, or did not have a week off this week at all from what I’ve gathered from a few of my friends, I’ve had a bit more of a subdued break so far overall.  Between some work business I’ve had to make sure I’m around to do, some exams I have coming up right after vacation ends (always a good time) and helping my family at home while my Dad is off his feet, it has definitely been more of a stay-cation for me this year.

Now that’s not to say I’m complaining about it, after all just having the extra time for rest-and-relaxation has been more than enough for me considering how stressful my school load has been between four classes and being a newspaper editor. Plus I got to see my Alma Mater’s spring play, Shrek the Musical, so that’s always fun.

At the same time, having the time off has given me the chance to try out a game that I’ve honestly been considering trying for some time:

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Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links, another honestly stellar mobile game to add to my collection next to Nintendo’s ventures of Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem: Heroes. I used to watch the card game-based anime as a kid and I was pretty into that, but my interest in the game never extended much further than that – I tried learning how to play the game as a kid but it never really went anywhere. When I saw a YouTube gamer I follow start uploading content on Duel Links, however, I found myself almost instantly hooked.  The layout of the game is great and intuitive, the music is exciting and the free-to-play model doesn’t get in the way of advancing in the game itself (which is always a god send in the mobile market)… Add onto that the strategy-based thinking that Yu-Gi-Oh lends itself to when you understand how the game works and you’ve got a very appealing package for me.

Fun fact, I was actually planning on making a blog post around Saturday when I first downloaded the game to make a joke about how I probably didn’t need the extra distraction in my life because of how much work stuff I have to do in my aforementioned classes and on the paper. Then I got so busy actually playing the game and having a good time that I wound up using just about all of my free time playing it rather than doing things like writing for this blog.

Okay that might be overexaggerating a little, since my time has also been split between my family, homework and hangouts with my friends from high school… But honestly it’s not that much of an overexaggeration. This game is seriously like an addiction for me, and I’d be close to saying I have a problem if it weren’t for the fact that my other stuff is still getting done either way.

Will I be posting a lot of Duel Links content here?  Maybe, maybe not.  I haven’t honestly decided whether or not this game is something I’d like to share my thoughts on like I have with Pokémon or Fire Emblem or whether this is more of a personal pleasure to do on my free time. This might just be one of the only big things I say about it, since if anything I might occasionally post about a new deck I’m particularly proud of or a new event that swings in, but otherwise it might not be the most apparent thing around here.

Though speaking of big decks I’m looking forward to building, I figure I should at least tease this out for any fans of the game or show as something I’m currently building up cards around:

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That’s right, this is happening. And man is it going to feel satisfying when it does.

Duel Links may have been taking on all my free time, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring my other current mobile love interest, Fire Emblem. I’m rather behind in posting about what’s been going on, and I’ve come to accept the fact that I won’t always be on top of the ball in that department thanks to life, but I figure I should at least show off this photo collage to prove I at least planned on doing something with these events.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

Quick-fire Fire Emblem thoughts:

  • The game’s first large-scale Voter Gauntlet took place at the beginning of March. It consisted of eight heroes in a tournament tree where players could pick their favorite, complete missions to earn flags and use said flags to boost the hero’s score so they’ll win in their match-ups.  It was honestly a pretty engaging event, as I know I got pretty into it at least, and the end result was surprising all things considered.  While it seemed like Ephraim would win easily, being the only lance user in a tournament that housed six sword users and a staff user, in the end popularity beat out nostalgia and found Lucina as the champion.  Personally, I followed Eirika for the first two rounds until she got beaten by Lucina and then joined the ultimately winning party, so I got a good amount of rewards from the whole experience.
  • Six new heroes were introduced to the game from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade.  Karel, Ninian, Rebecca, Jaffar, Priscilla and Lucius have made their way into the cast of characters available to summon.  Blazing Blade is a game I haven’t played still, but a few of the units are still interesting to me, enough so that I’ve been looking to summon them with the extra slurry of orbs that have been released through various events throughout the month.  In particular, the singing manakete Ninian seems like she would be fun to use, Jaffar has a close relationship with one of my favorite units, Nino, so I’d love to have them together, and Priscilla is appealing just because my assistant on the Daily Titan has the same name and she’s amazing.  Unfortunately, while all these characters seem fun, random chance hasn’t exactly blessed me considering I’m up to a 4.75% chance to summon the focus heroes and still haven’t with the event ending tomorrow.
  • A new system has been added to have units inherit skills from other units.  In essence, you tribute one unit with a skill you want for a unit you want to see that skill on, then you can unlock and use that skill with the inheriting character.  So far I’ve only had the chance to give my five star Eirika a battle activating skill that boosts damage based on her high resistance stat, but I’ve gotten my ass handed to me by vantage inheriting Takumis enough to know the true horrifying potential of this system.  Seriously, screw vantage Takumi, it’s like the world found a way to make an overpowered unit even stronger and it is the most annoying thing.
  • Minerva’s brother Michalis got his own Grand Hero Battle, which wouldn’t necessarily be big news in general except for the fact that Minerva is one of the main units I use so it felt significant in some small way. That’s about all I have to say for him, however.

Don’t know what it is about 2017 that’s made it so mobile-centric for me… But I guess I can’t complain. It’s certainly taken my mind off the Switch and the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Seriously I’ve had some time to try the game out with my friend who has a Switch and it has made me consider spending that extra cash that much more.  Not enough to do it quite yet, but the temptation is undoubtedly strong.

Hope everyone else is having as nice a Spring Break (or potentially lackthereof I suppose, in which case I apologize for the pseudo-gloating in this post) as I am so far, and look forward to some pretty interesting journalism-related stuff likely to be coming down the pipeline in the next couple of days!

March 22, 2017 Article Published

Between late nights in the newsroom, last minute midterms and assignments before Spring Break comes and other draws on my time, it has been a hectic and busy week for me.

Seriously, Spring Break starts after my last class ends tomorrow and it really cannot come fast enough.

While I’m sure I’ll have plenty more time to write about more fun personal subjects and video game-related things once my week off begins, for now I’ll just have to stack on more work posts. Seriously, looking at my blog over the last few weeks has been a little strange, since it has just been article publishing posts for some time now. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different feeling productive sometimes.

Anyway, today’s article is all about the Fullerton City Council meeting that happened last night. Exciting stuff, I know, but a newsman’s job is to be a watchdog for government agencies in at least some capacity, so it’s never a bad thing to throw my hat into that ring once in a while.

At the same time, the part of the meeting I covered also relates to my Investigative Reporting class, where we’ve been investigating homelessness in Orange County (a subject for which stories showing the fruits of our labor should be showing up in print a little bit after Spring Break ends, at this rate). My partner and I have been looking into the nonprofit Mercy House, and the new shelter they’re building was one of the focal points of the meeting.

Orange County Community Services Director Dylan Wright gave a presentation at the beginning of the meeting to update the council on the progress of the Kraemer Year-Round Emergency Shelter & Multi-Service Center, which began construction in 2016 and is set to open phase one of its operations in April.

Phase one will be a scaled down version of what the shelter is planning to house, with 100 beds rather than 200 and only partially available services, but the earlier opening date will help to get some of the homeless population in Fullerton off the streets – provided they can get a reservation, that is. Phase two is planned to open in the summer of 2018.

Because we had some other big stories coming through the pipeline yesterday, such as day one of the California State University Board of Trustees meeting, neither I nor Sarah (who was covering the meeting alongside me) were able to go to City Council personally.  Luckily they live stream the whole thing, and though we missed the action of being right there during angry public comments, we got more than enough to write.

Plus, our photo editor was able to go, so we were able to run plenty of pictures. She’s seriously the best.

Now, here’s hoping our deadline tonight doesn’t go super late, because I’m just about ready to check out for a couple days and catch up on some sleep.

If you want to read the article in its entirety, you can check it out here.  For Sarah’s coverage of the rest of the meeting, where issues related to parking were addressed, you can look here.  It’s pretty worth a read as well.

You can also feel the full archive of my work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

March 15, 2017 Article Published

You may be wondering to yourself, “Jason, how do you find the time to do all of your homework with all of the articles you’ve been involved with writing so far this month?”

If you are, I first of all just have to say thank you for being so concerned, I really appreciate it. However, secondly I also have to add that I’ll have to answer that question whenever I figure it out myself, since I still have a take-home quiz and about 100 pages in a book I have to read both due tomorrow.

So that’s going to be fun.

There’s also the matter of a few recent updates in Fire Emblem that I’ve been meaning to write up but.. That’s neither here nor there. The video game stuff is important to me intrinsically, but it’s probably not going to hurt anybody to have to wait an extra couple of days to hear what my thoughts are on an event that’s already a few days past its prime as is.

Anyway, that’s enough complaining about my personal life for one post that shouldn’t even be about that. Onto the news!

The story I published today is a pretty important one after all, all things considered. In our continual coverage of the suspended lecturer Eric Canin case, I’ve written an article regarding the resolution that the College Republicans club are currently trying to get in front of the student government on campus (ASI) calling for University Presidet Mildred Garcia to make a statement on the issue and ban Canin from campus for good.

Pretty serious stuff.

The President of the College Republicans club, Chris Boyle, has been in talks with the Chair of the ASI Board of Directors and estimates it’s going to be about 3 to 5 weeks before there’s a substantial amount of progress, but it’s still something we’re going to be following up on in the near future whenever the gears start to seriously turn.

This article was much more fun for me to write than the last one I did for a number of reasons. First and foremost… It was not in a language I didn’t understand.  Always kind of a negative point, even if the subject matter was interesting and even if I got good feedback on the final article. Second, I got to spend a fair amount of time with the College Republicans preparing the story, since I was able to get the full text of their resolution, which we printed in full. Third, this story really is like our baby at the News Desk this semester.  It’s something I personally have adored following so far, and I’m looking forward to doing more coming up.

There’s also a fairly interesting back-and-forth between the California Faculty Association and the College Republicans club that I included in this story that’s pretty worth looking at, I’d say.

If you want to check out the article in its entirety, you can see it here.  You can also find my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

P.S. – I also contributed to an article about the Affordable Learning Solutions Expo that was held on campus yesterday, since I did a couple of the interviews and some of the data gathering for one of our A&E assistants Sarah El-Mahmoud. So if you wanna check that story out too you can see it here.

March 14, 2017 Article Published

Happy pi day everybody!  As somebody who had one of the punniest math teachers ever for Precalculus/Trigonometry in high school (thank you for the silly turtle drawing that will never let me forget what a sinusoidal line is, Mr. Baumgartner), I feel like this is the kind of fake holiday I can get behind.

However, that’s not why we’ve gathered here today.  No, we’ve gathered here because I’m ready to self-promote myself once again, this time for an article covering an event I attended yesterday.

To be completely honest, if there’s any article I’ve written that deserves a little bit of praise, it would be this one.  I don’t usually like to toot my own horn or anything, but covering this as a whole was one of the hardest journalism experiences I’ve had in the six years I’ve worked as a student journalist.  Not only was the subject matter fairly heavy, being a lecture about human trafficking, but also…

The entire lecture was given in Spanish.

Yeah, as someone who lives in Southern California you’d think I would be at least semi-knowledgable in the romance language nearest and dearest to us… But no, I’m the kid that decided to take three years of Chinese in high school instead.

I don’t regret that decision by any means, even if I still wouldn’t call myself fluent in the language, but it did make things substantially more difficult for me in this particular instance.

Now, just how did I get myself into a situation where I was covering an event in a language I don’t know?  It’s a long story, but to put it simply a poster for the event landed in my lap at just the right moment when we needed extra content for a floundering page, and none of the promotional materials suggested it was going to be given in an entirely Spanish-speaking course.

Luckily I have some amazing friends in the newsroom that were able to help me out.  In particular, our copy editor Aaron was able to swoop in and not only understand what was going on, but also help me break through a sudden bout of paralysis I had when doing interviews for the story after the lecture ended.

Seriously, without him I would’ve been screwed, and I couldn’t be happier that he was around to help and not over in New York at a conference getting buried in snow.

Plus he helped me pull the story together pretty late, and it looks way better with his contributions than it would have otherwise.

If you want to check out the article in its entirety, you can see it here.  You can also check out my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

 

March 9, 2017 Article Published

I’m a day late with this one, and a couple days late with some other things I’ve been meaning to talk about, but I’ve been pretty sick and out of it, so you’ll all have to forgive me f0r my timing being out of sync and my writing probably being less prolific than usual.

Anyway though, let’s talk a little about this article.

In our continuing examination of anthropology lecturer Eric Canin, who struck a student during a rally in early February according to the university’s internal investigation, we’ve found that two petitions are circulating campus regarding his suspension.  One that’s been put out by faculty members and supported by the California Faculty Association calling for his reinstatement and another put out by the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) group on campus calling for him to be fired for infringing upon the free speech of students.

The piece I wrote in conjunction with my co-editor Sarah and our Editor in Chief Hayley goes into a bit more detail examining how each group sees the other’s petitions and charting out what the next steps will likely be in regards to the Canin controversy.  My primary contribution to the article was the information on the Republican side of the aisle, since I was the one in contact with most of the members of YAL and the College Republicans club.

You can see the article in its entirety here, and in the print version of the story we also included the complete text of both petitions.  You can check the issue in full at the Daily Titan Issuu archive.  It’s pretty worth looking at I’d say, and not even because I have extra bias toward the paper.

Next week we’ll be looking further into another lead we have regarding a meeting the College Republicans are looking to have with the student government on campus, Associated Students Inc., so look out for that too.

On another note, we got our business cards this week.  That doesn’t have too much to do with this story, but I think it’s cool and figure I should mention it while I’m talking about the Daily Titan.
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Looking fancy

That’s about all for now however, so as usual if you want to see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan, you can see it over on the right!

 

March 7, 2017 Article Published

President Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday that revoked and replaced the executive order from Jan. 27 instituting what has popularly become known as a “travel ban” restricting travel from seven predominately-Muslim countries.

I wrote the article about the new order for this issue of the Daily Titan.  It was one of the harder articles I’ve had to write, however not so much because of the content.  Last night’s production I was essentially on my own running the News desk due to my co-editor dealing with some personal problems and had to get by with a little help from my friends in the newsroom.

Beatles reference too much?  Maybe.  But I’ll leave it in anyway.  Because I like it.

Anyway, I had to split my time between writing this article, calling and interviewing multiple subjects for a series of stories we’re planning to write in the future and juggling the many ever-sporadic balls of writers doing deadline stories, laying out pages and keeping the ship as a whole afloat while things fall through at the last minute.

If nothing else it was an exciting night, and the fact that we didn’t get out super late I feel is a testament to the strength of our staff working as a team.

In terms of the story itself, after reading through and annotating the order, I talked with CSUF assistant political science professor Dr. Robert Robinson to find out more about the new order and about the idea of repealing and replacing an executive order as a whole.  Personally, I feel like I learned a lot from the experience, which by itself is always a marker of a good story for me.

However, in this case, I’d say the more weighty indicator of this being a good story was the fact that it was a pretty hefty same-day report on an issue of national importance.  Covering President Trump may already seem like an exhausting task just three months into his presidency, but the job remains as important as ever.

Digging into this new executive order helped remind me of that, since it was an interesting mix of looking into new writing being put out and seeing how the order differs from its predecessor, Executive Order 13769.  There are a number of key differences, such as the removal of Iraq as one of the restricted countries and a more in-depth description of the scope of the ban.

Because the original order will be revoked as of the official start date for this new order, March 16, the 90-day ban will also reset that day, extending the period of time the Trump Administration has given itself to figure out how to improve the immigrant vetting process.

Whether or not they succeed in that goal is yet to be seen, but I’ll be interested to watch how it plays out going into the future.

If you want to see the article in its entirety, you can see it here.  You can also check out my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

March 2, 2017 Article Published

This issue of the Daily Titan is actually a pretty huge accomplishment all around, for every desk that was involved.

At the News Desk, my co-editor Sarah and I put together a big three-story package following up further with the altercation involving part-time anthropology lecturer Eric Canin.

The first story, written by Sarah, looks into the claim by the California Faculty Association that Canin has received death threats following the altercation and found that the University Police would not call anything he received a ‘death threat.’ The second, written by our assistant Brandon and Opinion Desk’s assistant Ashlyn, follows up with the CSUF College Republicans club and finds that they’re circulating a petition and gathering signatures to have Canin dismissed.  Finally, the third story, written by me, is more of a profile of Canin that aims to present a side of the story that we haven’t covered as of yet.

With all the negative coverage that comes as the result of this kind of news, it’s sometimes hard to remember that someone isn’t as bad as expectations might lead one to believe.  After talking with the coordinator for the Cultural Anthropology program at CSUF, Barbra Erickson, as well as some students in Canin’s classes, I was able to paint a picture of how other people who know him better see the man.  I heard nothing but good things while reporting, and while that makes it a shame that he’s been in this situation, it does go to show that anyone can get caught up in the heat of a moment.

While the four of us wrote these stories separately, Sarah and I helped do the reporting and craft them all since this coverage is like our big project this semester, so we’re both at least a contributing credit on all three.  I also put together a timeline on the front page of the newspaper, and with all of this we have gotten some praise from people like the chair of the Communications Department at CSUF.

Never a bad thing, I’d say.

However, News wasn’t the only desk with big stuff happening yesterday to run in today’s issue.  Sports Desk has a big front page article about a women’s basketball player who quit the team following a much deeper trend, and it’s definitely something worth checking out.  Our Sports editor Bryant put some really good work into it.

The Opinion Desk has a story written up about sex offenders following a decision made by the Fullerton City Council on Feb. 7.

Finally, the Features Desk had one article in particular that was pretty important to me personally.  Dr. Jason Sexton, a CSUF professor, editor of Boom Magazine and pretty good friend of mine, invited me to speak at the Boom Happy Hour this last Tuesday as a representative of the magazine and of the Daily Titan and journalism in general.  It was a great time and I got a lot of positive feedback for the speech I gave.

And we had it covered for the paper.

So, if you want to see that story, you can check it out here.  I’m looking to try and pull the audio from the speech I gave from the recording our reporter took so I can post it independently, but until then you’ll just have to read what happened in print.

You can also see this picture of me doing my thing that was caught candidly by our Photo Desk assistant Bailey:

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Not entirely sure what I’m doing with my hands, but I do think I look pretty good in red.

If you want to check out my full archive of work for the Daily Titan, you can see it over on the right!