Month: January 2019

A Grandmother’s memory

I was going to write something silly about the rain today, full of all kinds of jokey jokes about Rihanna and burning train tracks.

But then I got home and found out my Grandma Rhea passed away unexpectedly this morning.

Needless to say that dampened the desire to write anything jokey or superfluous, even if what I had is mostly finished and waiting in my draft folder.

I thought really hard about not doing anything Blog-wise tonight out of fear that the social media machine would think I was cynically using the 85-year-old’s passing as some kind of grab for sympathy or attention.

But honestly, part of my intent when creating this blog in the first place was to keep milestones of my life marked down.

That means the good and the bad milestones. I feel like I owe it to my grandmother to at least say something about her tonight.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it can be anything too profound right now. I quite literally found out about a half hour ago and the wound is still much too fresh.

It’s hard to explain exactly how I feel. I need time to gestate on the thought with my family, and whether or not I mention the subject again in the future will really vary on how I collect those thoughts.

I would like to write a sweeter in memorial for her eventually, but I can’t promise it would be soon.

I can’t even promise I’ll write anything at all soon depending on how much of a funk I get into. But that said, I might shift tone completely and write about happy things, just because it’s a better distraction.

Even if I seem indifferent as a result, I can assure you I’m not. I’ll just need time, as I imagine we all do when confronted with something like this so suddenly.

I’m not out asking for sympathy, just understanding as I take the chance to sort this all out.

Good bye Grandma Rhea. I love you, and I wish I saw you more recently to tell you again.

Just rainy day things

Just rainy day things

Just a quick Editor’s Note:

This was the post I had mostly written up on Thursday before everything got sidetracked by my Grandmother.

Today I’ve spent just about all of my time working on homework. Considering rain has been the backdrop of a good portion of that time, I figured I would bring this back around with some minor editing.

It’s goofy and dumb, thus much less heavy than what I’ve been writing lately. So I thought it would be perfect!

Enjoy.


Now before you read on, I know what you must be thinking.

Writing a whole thing about the rainy weather in Southern California while huge patches of the East Coast and Midwest are frozen, to the point where railroads in Chicago are being set on fire to keep trains running, seems pretty self-centered and blind to the world.

Well now that I said it, you officially can’t levy that criticism at me.

So there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not trying to start some “woe is me” weather war with places that have it far worse right now.

There are plenty of other people far more deserving of your scorn.

It just so happens that my neck of the woods hasn’t seen heavy rain like we got this week in some time.

On Thursday I may have missed the thunder and lightning back home in Redondo, but my car got a hell of a wash out in Fullerton after I got it back from the mechanic.

That was only slightly more of an ordeal than I expected, and as soon as I got my car back I had to give away my keys for assisted parking. Ironic… But possibly a topic for another day.

The thing that drove me the most crazy about having to use assisted parking was that I was in early that day. Gave a pitch for our upcoming SPJ meetings around 11:00 a.m. in the basement of the College Park building, but I still couldn’t catch a break on finding a parking spot.

The sky was relatively calm when I went underground, but not ten minutes later I emerged to a torrential downpour. Especially fun considering I had to cross campus for my 1:00 p.m. class.

I’m somewhat ambivalent to the rain.

If you’re not doing anything, the rain makes for wonderful sit at home, drink hot chocolate and play video games / do homework weather. No denying that, given its what I did today.

But when you’re stuck out in the stuff, forced to navigate sopping wet hallways, packed in like sardines during campus rush hour while surrounded by fences due to construction…

It’s less great.

Plus rain sucks in Breath of the Wild. So like there’s a big strike.

There is one thing I do tend to adore about rainy days, even if it is innocuous.

I’m talking, of course, about standing under my umbrella.

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… Ella, ella.

Hope you enjoy having that song stuck in your head now.

While I know it sounds ridiculous to tote “umbrella holding” as one of my favorite pluses to rainy weather, It’ll sound even more ridiculous when I elaborate that arguably the best thing about an umbrella is carrying it when it’s not raining.

Crazy, right?

Whenever the rain ceases, that’s when the umbrella becomes a perfect surrogate for imagination.

In my case, that means I’ll be swinging the damn thing around like a sword 99 percent of the time. So long as there aren’t people around to hit.

… Or judge me for being a crazy weirdo.

I’ve always been a fidgeter, handling things like my phone or video games idly. So a sword-like umbrella fulfills that inherent craving in a way I rarely get to play around.

However an umbrella still serves an imaginative purpose even when it is being used as a shield from inclement weather. I always enjoy spinning my umbrella as I stand out in the downpour, reminiscent of Super Princess Peach for the Nintendo DS.

Just look at her.

She’s cute even when her magical anthropomorphic umbrella is eating her head.

I want to be that cute sometimes.

But hey, these are just the weird associations that are forged in a mind as complex and bizarre as mine.

So if you’re also weird and imagine bizarre things when you’re holding an umbrella, let me know! I’d love to find out once and for all if I truly am the only freak in the universe.

Echoes of strength

Echoes of strength

In the age of the ancients, two sibling Gods shared a near unbreakable bond.

However, a disagreement at the core of their ideologies led to a schism. The sister aimed to create a world rich with blessings of the Earth, peace and pleasure. The brother felt strength was all that mattered, and wanted a world full of powerful subjects.

To the south of the continent Valentia, the sister founded a kingdom called Zofia: Rich with live. A kingdom which, in its overindulgence after her disappearance, became rife with greedy, entitled rulers and passive farmers who struggled as the lands died.

To the north, the brother founded a kingdom called Rigel: Cold, calloused and infertile. A kingdom which, fallen into the trappings of power, became militarized and unkind. His power gave way to madness, and the pious subjects of that fallen deity sought to conquer all.

This is the tale of Mila and Duma, a story underlying the plot thrusts for both Alm and Celica in Fire Emblem: Gaiden (and its recent remake, Echoes: Shadows of Valentia).

Now in Heroes, you too can summon yourself an endlessly powerful god of war, fallen from grace, who also happens to be an inexplicably handsome daddy that transforms into a dragon monster with wacky eyes.

Just like every.

Other.

Fire Emblem villain.

… Except for Sacred Stones which had a cool demon guy instead.


DumaGod of Strength

  • Fell Breath (Might = 16, Range = 1)
    • Grants Attack +3. At the start of combat, if foe’s Health < 100 percent, grants Attack and Resistance +6 during combat and foe cannot make a follow-up attack. If foe’s Range = 2, calculates damage using the lower defensive stat.
  • Draconic Aura (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 30 percent of unit’s Attack.
  • Defense/Resistance Solo (A Skill)
    • If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Defense and Resistance +6 during combat.
  • Bold Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 per unit’s attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack (does not stack).
  • Upheaval (C Skill)
    • At the start of turn 1, deals seven damage to all foes, and if defending in Aether Raids during anima season, destroys offensive structures within the same column (does not affect indestructable structures).

So I heard a rumor that every Mythic Hero was going to be some kind of deity in the Fire Emblem canon.

If that’s the case, I think I might try to provide some deep lore diving into each whenever a Mythic Hero banner comes along.

Even though the top of this banner technically says he’s a Legendary Hero?

But whatever. Semantics.

Let’s talk about Duma, shall we?

As our second colorless dragon and fourth armored dragon, Duma has a strong legacy to live up to.

The guy’s gimmick ties back to his Upheaval, which damages all enemies right away. Once they’re damaged, he gains an Attack and Resistance buff. Then if he’s alone, he instantly gains more Defense and Resistance.

Add all that to the increased chance of a powerful Special Attack and you have yourself a hard-hitting tank who faces no weakness on the weapon triangle.

… Just weaknesses from dragon-killing weapons like the Falchion or armor-killing weapons like Armorslayers.

Also he loses a good chunk of that benefit to his stats should the opposing team have a healer.

But hey, he blows up buildings in Aether Raids!

So all-and-all, I’d say he’s got some well-balanced benefits and detriments.

His overall status also increases due to great synergy with other armored dragons like Grima, Tiki and Myrrh. So he’s easily worth a summon for powerful team building.

In fact, that Legendary Tiki he melds so well with is also on this banner. She’s alongside:

Unlike a lot of the other Legendary Hero banners, Duma’s entourage splits equally for me.

I have every green and red unit besides Laegjarn.

Yet I don’t have a single one of the blue or colorless units.

So my targets are narrowed, particularly focused on Duma and Tiki.

If any of you remember my Legendary Tiki banner review, you’d know I was super into her. A powerful alt for one of my favorite characters who eluded me all those months ago, and I’ve been waiting for her to rear her head again.

Hopefully I can summon her and the God of Strength, which would give me a perfect  foursome of armored dragons.

Unfortunately those aspirations cost orbs.

… And I wasted a whole bunch of orbs on the hot springs banner, only to get a stupid regular Elise instead of Sakura.

So I turn to the Duma Battle Map to get my orbs stash up:

 

I never have anything particularly interesting to say about these things, other than the fact that they’re cool references to stages like the final map of Echoes here. So I’ll mostly make them quick asides from now on.

Especially since my time is better spent gathering orbs to feed my addiction.

Or to be honest, playing a certain other game which received a new character today.

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So there we have it, my thoughts on the Duma banner.

I know this whole post was a bit more scatterbrained than usual for my formulaic FEH pieces, but hopefully it was all worth my attempts to shake things up a little. All things being said, I was actually more excited for Duma here than I was for the hot springs units last week.

Let me know what you think of Duma in the comments below, and weigh in on whether you think we’ll get his sister Mila as our next Mythic Hero or not.

Personally I’m betting Intelligent Systems will keep us waiting.

Just like they’ll keep us waiting for more regular Valentia units.

Aesthetic updates and internship hours

Aesthetic updates and internship hours

I know all of my loyal readers pay intimate attention to each and every change on my blog, but in case you didn’t notice what happened I’ll fill you in.

Just last night I modified some minor elements over in the archive for my work with Gladeo. The biggest and most noticeable change was the shift from an internal photo showing the reporting team from when I first joined on:

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To a much more recent image on Gladeo’s website showing myself with my title:

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Given my current lack of facial hair, both images are technically pretty dated. So you might be wondering why I bothered.

I assure you that the change isn’t some vain attempt to clear my blog of any pictures not featuring me, myself and I.

It’s more about the page where this new picture is found on Gladeo’s website.

The team photo is about a year-and-a-half old, and the Gladeo League itself has drastically changed since. For instance, I’m technically no longer just a part of the reporter-interns.

I’m the head of the League, the Managing Editor. The Superman to their Justice League. The Lex Luthor to their Legion of Doom.

Just not the Jesse Eisenberg one.

As a result you can this new-ish picture of me on the official staff page. Essentially where a bio would go, just without any text from me.

I wanted to bring things more up-to-date with this web development, as Michelle let me know she was setting it up yesterday.

Even if it isn’t technically that “up-to-date” due to my aforementioned lack of fur nowadays. In fact, when I was in a video conference with Michelle, it took her a long time to figure out why I looked younger until she realized we haven’t seen each other since I had foregone the follicles.

The visual change isn’t the only update I made to that Gladeo page on my blog, however.

Part of the reason I was in a video call with Michelle yesterday was that she needed to show me how to do some work on the inner-mechanisms of the website.

As I mentioned in my Homeless in the South Bay post, and many times before that, I’ve begun to accrue hours for my Internship class. The 120-hour goal will likely encourage me to go to more events or reach out to more possible interviewees, but at the same time it has encouraged me to take up as much extra work for Gladeo as I can.

Including now running the official website’s blog.

That’s right, I have a more traffic heavy outlet to shout my thoughts into now!

… Or I would, if that job wasn’t mostly about posting updates and such. The only assignment I’ve been given so far is copying off the last year’s worth of Facebook post updates onto the nonprofit’s website.

Once I see how that will come out in a tangible form, I’ll figure out the right place to point you all and flesh out my work portfolio with the PR-esque work.

Today I just wanted to relish in the increased responsibilities, expansion of my skill set and time sink for required Internship hours.

As always, great things should be coming soon enough!

I think so, anyway. Really the only reason I had the chance to finish this post so early in the afternoon is because my car crapped out on me.

So here’s hoping that doesn’t become such an issue that I’ll have a lot to say on it for another day’s post.

Homeless in the South Bay

Homeless in the South Bay

For the most part, this weekend has been quiet. The best thing I had to talk about a few days ago was doing homework, and one of the most exciting things I did recently was put my binders together for the semester.

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Beautifully organized and poetic in their duality, but not very interesting.

But tonight my Mom pointed out a meeting dedicated to learning all about the homeless situation in the South Bay. Much more interesting writing fodder in a traditionally journalistic manner.

My interest was piqued two-fold. I spent a good amount of time covering homelessness about a year-and-a-half ago for Bonnie’s Investigative Reporting class.

I covered the Point-In-Time homeless census that year and wound up winning the third place “Best News Series” award alongside my friends at the 2018 California College Media Awards.

So I have some experience in the subject, and wanted to see things happening much closer to home.

The event was held at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse, which is literally five minutes away from my house.

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About as close to home as it gets.

In addition, I’m able to write off the whole experience as research, networking and sourcing for Gladeo. I’m on the clock for my internship class, so I’m looking to do as much extra work as possible.

That more cynical reason aside, I did learn a good amount and picked up a whole host of documents:

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The panel was hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Beach Cities.

There were seven speakers on the panel who each gave spiels and answered a few audience at the end.

First came Jennifer Lamarque and Ivan Sulak from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. Hahn was apparently slated to come earlier on but had to drop out, sending representatives instead.

Most of the discussion coming from Sulak, who is the supervisor for housing and homelessness in the 4th District. He was also apparently homeless himself.

He talked all about different initiatives being worked on across the District. The growth of a year-round shelter, more Emergency Response Team development and pushing more housing projects. A veteran-focused project in Downey, student-focused housing in Whittier and more.

“The end of homelessness is to get people in houses,” he said before delving more into the fact that homeless people on the streets are just a snapshot, as the issue has “many different faces.”

That snapshot came more into focus with the next speaker: Ashley Oh with the LA County Homeless Initiative: Measure H.

Because homeless counts for 2019 only occurred within the last week or so, the numbers we got tonight are technically outdated.

More to come from people like my friend Spencer over in Orange County.

Support local papers, y’all. Nudge, nudge.

That said, Oh pointed out that in 2018 there were more than 52,000 homeless individuals counted in LA County, with ~40,000 not sheltered. She said that was the first year in eight with an overall decrease.

img_1916
A bit more of a breakdown.

One of the most interesting things about this event for me was seeing the break-down at a local level with some places I actually know a thing or two about.

I picked up a document from the South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness outlining findings from the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count which said Redondo Beach had 154 homeless, half in vehicles and half on the street.

Though it’s great that the number was down about 41 percent from 2017, there’s clearly still a long way to go. Over 150 people is nothing to scoff at.

From there the discussion went more into Measure H, a pretty big initiative here in the South Bay.

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Oh mentioned that 51 strategies to combat homelessness have been developed which fit into six categories, including prevention, more affordable housing and increasing income.

That last point in particular led to discussions of working, as she pointed out that “most people think these homeless are comfortable living off government money, but that’s not true. Many want to work.”

Those three speakers had the most general information to hand out, so I figured I’d give the rest more of a quick-fire treatment.

Shari Weaver from Harbor Interfaith Services talked about her group’s more intimate outreach work, claiming that their 40 or so staff members know about 80 percent of the unsheltered homeless in the beach cities.

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She also brought the feel-good stories, such as that of a client who they housed that had lost his home in the recent Paradise fires.

Weaver was followed up by representatives of the Cities of Manhattan and Hermosa Beach who talked about city governments creating homeless plans, including a $150,000 multi-jurisdiction proposal between them and Redondo Beach that got funded by Measure H on January 24.

Finally, a lieutenant with the Manhattan Beach Police Department talked about officers across the beach cities working on more “holistic approachs” of homeless outreach on top of their usual enforcement.

All that remained was the Q&A, which was relatively short. It was hilariously obvious that most of the questions came from older members of the audience who simply do not like the homeless population being around.

Watching the panelists have to explain that private churches would be allowed to help the homeless whether or not there was a “centralized gathering location” to feed the needy was pretty great.

In the end I didn’t have too much of a chance to talk to people after the event, but if nothing else I gathered a lot of names, contacts and general information for the future.

Plus I got a two-hour addition to my internship log while rubbing shoulders with folks like Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand.

So who knows, even if I get no Gladeo interviews out of this, it could be handy if I ever break into covering homelessness again.

Either way, I’d say this was an educational night well spent.

First attempt syndrome

First attempt syndrome

Someday I’ll move on from talking about early semester school-related things. I promise.

However, today is not that day. I spent all afternoon doing homework and have nothing else to blog about.

Silly as it might sound, I actually do have a good amount for this only being the first weekend of the semester. Probably as a result of my seven classes, many of which only meet once a week if at all.

If you want to read more about that, you can check out my blog post from yesterday.

To be fair I’m not sure the content of the homework itself is necessarily why it has taken so long. A lot of these assignments fall under ‘first attempt syndrome.’

You know, that sensation where you’re more apprehensive going into the first of a thing? Happens all the time for exams especially in my experience, and even real life things like shaving or going on dates.

The most egregious example of that first attempt syndrome with today’s homework came out of my Comm Law class. My professor’s TITANium assignment portal is a bit hard to grasp for first timers like me, and at the end of the mini-documentary I had to watch there was a quiz.

Doubling down on that anxiety.

Her quiz system being somewhat strange didn’t help. We all got three attempts to take the quiz, and two tries at each of the fourteen questions.

It’s really generous all things considered, and for that matter the documentary-watching portion had a fill-in-the-blank note sheet available online. Something I haven’t seen since Mrs. Mata’s AP Psychology class back at Redondo Union.

So I guess my Comm Law professor is just really nice about her assignments.

… Though that alone isn’t the full story. See when I say two tries at each question, that apparently doesn’t mean full credit if you answer correctly by the second try. Instead it’s a system where there are 20 points for those 14 questions (scaled so every one offers a point or two points), and each wrong first try results in half credit.

Thus, despite getting every question right by the end of my first attempt, I had a 15/20 for second guessing three questions.

While I feel the general lack of clarity there is somewhat underhanded, I can’t complain too much because we were allowed to use all three attempts to average out a better score. After the first attempt I got 100 percent on the two following, bringing my score up to 18/20.

It was a lot of extra time and confusion, but the ends justified the means.

Especially considering every right answer came with a snarky response, like calling the Supreme Court racist bastards for their Dred Scott decision, or poking fun at Antonin Scalia’s quote about “never dying” from well before his death last year.

The rest of my homework has been more straight forward. For my Senior Honors Colloquium I simply had to make a game plan for the semester, and I’ve started to distill down my resume for my Internship class’s required Career Center visit.

The only other stand-out so far is my Gaming class. By our next meeting I have to read the first two chapters of this lovely book right here:

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An anthropological study of World of Warcraft? What’s not to enjoy!

I feel obliged to give my friend Darlene a shout-out here for offering to help pass along a few of the books I needed for this class, even though it didn’t work out. She didn’t own Night Elf or Coin-Operated Americans:

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Can’t blame her on either front considering the two bookstores my Mom and I visited yesterday didn’t have them either.

We wound up going to Amazon to find and order them, and miraculously they’re already here.

Guess I’m just further evidence as to why brick-and-mortar stores are going out of business. Kinda wish the book stores put up a bit of a more competent fight.

The funny thing about these assignments is I really didn’t have to put as much effort into them today as I did. I quite literally have four-day weekends to do homework this semester.

But I just get the feeling that the mentality underlying that procrastinating statement might get dangerous with so much dense work coming soon.

Finishing more of my homework now gives me time to focus on the important things going further into the weekend. Like video games, racking up hours for Gladeo or writing my novel.

I did tell Dr. Perez I’ll be trying to write about 20 pages a week, after all. I’m hoping to get myself in a state of mind that will better facilitate the extracurricular work going smoothly.

Only time will tell whether I gracefully succeed, I suppose. But with the sheer number of mental checklists I’m making already, I get the feeling we’re off to a good start.

Spring 2019 first impressions

Spring 2019 first impressions

Alternate Title: “Last Ditch Effort”

Last semester I started what could be considered a tradition by writing about my early class impressions.

Granted that “tradition” was started literally one semester before the end so it doesn’t mean THAT much… But hey.

Traditions.

Given that it is my last semester at Cal State Fullerton, I actually have a pretty strange class layout. I’m taking seven, but only four are on campus.

Oh, and one of those four on-campus classes doesn’t meet every week.

As a result I’m essentially at CSUF two-and-a-half days this semester.

I’m not sure how I managed to achieve that while taking seven classes, but I guess that’s the nature of being a near-graduate.

As a result of that weird schedule, the degree to which I can talk about my classes varies. But it’s about as good a time to do so as any.


Cognitive Psychology

This semester we start with my only multi-day class and the end of my journey into a Psychology minor.

I took Cog Psych on the recommendation of a friend from my Sensation and Perception class. She had taken this course before and figured it would work out well for me considering my previous experiences.

Based on the curriculum so far I can’t really argue, even though I have a different professor.

In the two class periods we’ve had, the early subjects have all overlapped with things I previously learned. A third of the semester will even be focused on Learning and Memory, which I took last semester.

So if my general knowledge keeps up, I might just be ahead of the curve.

My biggest complaint is nitpicky, tying into how the desks are randomly dispersed and require students sitting in the same column to have to enter from different aisles.

Aesthetically annyoing, but harmless.

As far as my professor goes, I do like her thus far. She’s apparently a semi-recent immigrant from Egypt, which makes her an intriguing character with a slightly thick accent. Seemingly new to teaching, which could be good or bad depending.

However, considering I came in so positive about my last two Psych professors and got burned hard, I’m cautiously optimistic.

Guess I’ll just have to see.


Communications Law

Working for the Daily Titan may be the capstone course for the Journalism program, but Comm Law is considered the cream of the crop in terms of difficult classes.

Whether or not I succeeded in saving the work-heavy class for an ample time depends on your take regarding my ‘seven classes versus two days on campus’ debate.

Even though I don’t have the usually lauded Journalism department head as my professor, I still got the impression I’ll be very interested and engaged just from our first three-hour class.

My professor is plenty energetic and casual about the subject in a way that suggests her breadth of experience and all-encompassing love for it.

My one trepidation is that she seemingly decided to start winging it in the middle of the first day, shifting course to more of a traditional lecture style instead of a reversed classroom, video lecture style.

I’m not sure how much that will actually change things, and I think I prefer the sound of what we’re doing now, but it’s hard to inspire too much confidence when the immediate impression is “let’s wing it.”

Though maybe that ties in well with the casual air I like about the professor. So it could all mesh together quite nicely now that we’re past the initial civics recap.


Gaming and American Culture

In case you missed it, I wrote a post yesterday more or less discussing my first impressions about this class in service of a larger debate.

So I’ll keep it brief here and thank myself for the foresight.

Despite the fact that I apparently didn’t bother to fact check myself on the course’s name, I think this will arguably be one of the best things I’ve decided to do with my college career.

We’re reading great books, watching great movies, playing Dungeons and Dragons, analyzing video games (and board games and sports) and at the end I might even get to record my own pseudo-take on a Let’s Play.

It’s quite literally 15-year-old Jason’s dream class.


Senior Honors Colloquium

This is the class that I mentioned will only happen on certain weeks.

Ironically, this week was not one of them.

Because it’s taught by the Director of the Honors Program, she needed to be at the Welcome Back event held that same afternoon.

As a result I really can’t say much about the class itself. My friend who had it on a different day said the experience was pretty chill.

All I know is that it’s essentially going to be a bunch of planning to finish our Honors Projects, culminating in the conference of presentations at the end of the semester.

Shouldn’t be too bad.


With that, I’m all out of on-campus classes.

The remaining three are kind of similar in that they’re independent study experiences.

One is my Comm Internship class, where I just need to log 120 hours doing Gladeo-related stuff and turn in a few reflection papers online. Nothing too crazy.

The other two are Senior Honors Project Blocks, one of which is scheduled with my mentor Dr. Rizzo. They’re more or less the actual work half of the Colloquium class. I’ll be meeting with Dr. Rizzo on a weekly basis, possibly doing some outside meetings with people and going over my novel.

That about sums up my semester.

I’ll have two-and-a-half days of classes, with the rest of my four-day weekends being devoted to homework, work-work and writing.

A strange culmination to my schooling experience, but one that makes sense as a denouement for three converging threads of study.

At this point the best I can hope for is a more fun experience than last semester, which drained the life out of me by the time it was through.

Smooth sailing to graduation here we come!

He said, obviously jinxing himself.

An impossible choice

An impossible choice

I want to put more effort into the post with my thoughts on classes this semester, so I’ll be saving that for tomorrow.

However, today I’m going to sort of ruin that by spoiling my thoughts on the class I’m looking forward to most.

All in service of discussing an existential crisis it has delivered unto me.

While most of my classes are wrapping up my Comm major, Psych minor and Honors distinction, one in particular stands out as being taken purely for myself.

An American Studies class: Gaming in American Society.

I’m no stranger to the American Studies department, as I did take an AMST course on  American Character during sophomore year. Yet that was mainly to fill a general education requirement.

I took Gaming in American Society simply because I adore gaming. Plus I have 21 years of experience in American society, I suppose.

After one class I’m already convinced taking it (as per the recommendation of my friend Mimi) was one of the better decisions I’ve made in my college career. Especially as a final semester swan song.

It’s a 400-level course with a good amount of “dumb fun” elements to the curriculum given its subject matter.

Our novel selection includes Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. We’re also watching a whole host of movies including 1983’s WarGames and 2012’s Indie Game the Movie, all about the development of titles like Super Meat Boy and Fez.

In other words I’ve already consumed a large chunk of the required materials.

The stuff I haven’t yet consumed seems plenty interesting in its own right, even outside of the bias that comes from knowing they stand in a pantheon of enjoyable media.

Hell there’s even a day where we’re just going to spend our three-hour class just playing Dungeons and Dragons. How sweet is that?

Another objectively cool element of the class is that essays are replaced by a long-form research project where we get to choose a game to analyze. Then the three papers we write will be pulled into one mega-paper as our final.

As someone who writes pseudo-game reviews on this blog and actual reviews for papers like the Daily Titan (big Nintendo hitters like Mario and Kirby at that), I should arguably be the most excited for this portion.

Yet I’ve hit a conundrum.

How the hell do I pick just ONE video game to analyze when I could arguably do it for any of my favorites?

Should I analyze one of my favorite nostalgic games of all time, like Pokémon Crystal?

Or for that matter one of the objectively better Pokémon games, given it is my favorite video game series. Perhaps Heartgold and Soulsilver or Black and White 2?

Maybe I should pick a game with more of a cultural impact considering I’ll need to write about its wider historical context. I could potentially use Ocarina of Time (or its 3DS remake), as much as games of that caliber have been analyzed to death in the past.

The Nintendo fanboy in me could downplay itself as well, leading me to analyze a game I enjoy but haven’t spent quite as much time with. Kingdom Hearts 2 or Simpson’s Hit and Run on the Playstation or even something like Don’t Starve or FTL as indie representation out of Steam.

That said, I could pick a game I straight up haven’t played before just to get a fresh take. Final Fantasy 7 has been gathering dust in my Steam library for a long time, and I do want an excuse to finally play it.

Even with all those options in the abstract, my mind did immediately wander in a particular direction when I found out about the assignment.

Recently, especially with the advent of the third Choose your Legends event in Fire Emblem Heroes, I’ve had the desire to go back and play Sacred Stones. My first and favorite Fire Emblem game.

Part of me couldn’t help but think about an interesting analysis coming out of Sacred Stones due to it being the first title released after Fire Emblem’s western debut.

… I was admittedly primed to go in that direction from watching The Geek Critique’s assertion that Smash Bros. Melee was a “kingmaker” for their series the other day.

That’s my most developed idea at the moment, but frankly I’m more than open to coming up with more in the weeks to come.

There are simply too many good games out there in need of analysis.

So I suppose that brings me to a call to arms of sorts. If any of you have ideas for a game I should try to analyze for my research paper (assuming it’s within my means), let me know somewhere on the Internet.

It’ll definitely be taking an unreasonable amount of my brain power for a good long time.

Hot heroes hit the springs

Hot heroes hit the springs

With the spring 2019 semester recently kicking off, I can’t think of any better way to stave off my looming cloud of stress than to blather on about nonessential pleasantries.

Luckily Intelligent Systems has just what the doctor ordered with a well-timed banner of special heroes!


RyomaSamurai at Ease

  • It’s Curtains… (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • At the start of turn 1, grants Special Attack cooldown count -2.
  • Luna (Cooldown = 3)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent during combat.
  • Attack/Defense Solo (A Skill)
    • If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Defense +6 during combat.
  • Chill Speed (B Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, inflicts Speed -7 on for on the enemy team with the highest Speed through its next action.
  • Odd Defense Wave (C Skill)
    • At the start of odd-numbered turns, grants Defense +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus granted to unit even if no allies are adjacent).

SakuraHot-Spring Healer

  • Grandscratcher (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • At the start of turn 1, grants Special Attack cooldown charge -1 to ally with the highest Attack.
  • Physic (Range = 2)
    • Restores Health = 50 percent of Attack (minimum of 8 Health).
  • Fireflood Balm (Cooldown = 1)
    • When healing an ally with a staff, grants Attack and Resistance +6 to all allies for one turn.
  • Wrathful Staff (B Skill)
    • Calculates damage from staff like other weapons.
  • Speed Opening (C Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, grants Speed +6 to ally with the highest Speed for one turn (excluding this unit).

EliseBubbling Flower

  • Red-Hot Ducks (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • If unit’s Speed > foe’s Speed, deals damage = 70 percent of the difference between stats (maximum of 7, combos with Phantom Speed). After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on foe’s within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Rally Up Attack (Range = 1)
    • Grants Attack +6 to target ally and allies within two spaces (excluding unit) for one turn.
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Attack Feint (B Skill)
    • If a Rally assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, inflicts Attack -7 on foes in cardinal directions of unit through their next actions.
  • Dagger Valor (C Skill)
    • While unit lives, all dagger allies on team get x2 Skill Points (only highest value applied, does not stack).

HinokaRelaxed Warrior

  • Splashy Bucket (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • Effective against dragon foes. Disables foe’s skills that “calculate damage using the lower of foe’s Defense or Resistance” and “calculate damage from staff like other weapons.” After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on foes within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Draw Back (Range = 1)
    • Unit moves one space away from target ally. Ally moves to unit’s previous space.
  • Attack/Speed Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Speed +5 during combat.
  • Attack/Speed Link (B Skill)
    • If a movement assist skill is used by unit or targets unit, grants Attack/Speed to both unit and ally for one turn.
  • Air Orders (C Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, grants “Unit can move to a space adjacent to any ally within two spaces” to adjacent flying allies for one turn.

Seeing the initial silhouette teaser for this banner piqued my interest.

I had no idea who we were looking at and, at the time, wasn’t expecting any special banners until Valentine’s Day.

Yet I rolled my eyes without even thinking after I found out we were getting more Fire Emblem Fates royal sibling alts.

I’m a fan of Fates and everything, but there are so many characters from it who have no representations. Meanwhile Tempest Trials Camilla is her sixth alternate costumes.

It’s disheartening… But unfortunately I’m such a fan of the Hoshidan royal sisters that the game had me at Sakura and Hinoka.

Wanting this Sakura because I like her character and status as a pegasus-riding staff user probably won’t save me when the police come for summoning a near underage girl in a towel…

But that’s a bridge I’ll cross later.

Oh, and I’m 100 percent summoning for characters, not skills, on this banner. Hinoka is the only one with an interesting build, so she and Sakura are my focus.

Unfortunately, all 60 orbs have gotten me is a 3-star original Sakura.

So you know what that means? Time for paralogue orbs!


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Shout out to that armored unit with the buns on his head in map 30-1. He’s worth this entire mediocre banner.

Outside of his majesty there isn’t a whole lot to say for the story.

There’s kind of no explanation as to why the Order of Heroes has to jump in. The royal siblings have just been put under a contract but… Nobody knows why?

Also it’s just a side story, so Alfonse isn’t dead from Hel’s curse yet.

He’s simply concerned about heading into such a private place.

Luckily my keen interest in cute redheads is vindicated by the way they share Alfonse’s reservations.

The Nohr sisters seem more than eager to just let a bunch of soldiers join them in the baths.

Yet that’s the only bit of story worth talking about here.

After the fighting ends, Anna makes a comment about wanting a hot springs in the Order’s castle, which seems less a nod to future content than it is an outlet for Alfonse to make fun of the girls for getting into useless tasks too quickly.

So… Orbs.

Hurray!


If it wasn’t obvious, this banner didn’t really excite me.

I’m happy to shill out orbs for Hinoka or Sakura in lieu of the beast units who are going in the main summoning pool, but I don’t particularly care about any of the units mechanically.

Even my complaint about Fates units being used again is easily mitigated by the argument that Fates had the first canonical hot spring system. So that’s a banal annoyance at best.

Perhaps the Valentine’s Day units will get me more hyped up, but for now this isn’t much more than a neat distraction from school.

That’s just my opinion though. Let me know what you think of these special hot springs units!

50 shades of analysis

50 shades of analysis

So I just flew in from Fullerton, and boy are my arms tired!

Does that joke work over text?

I guess the more important question is whether that joke works considering I drove to-and-from Fullerton instead of flying, but nobody knows that.

And if I have my way, they never will.

Anyway, today was the first day of the spring 2019 semester for me. If it’s not already obvious, the whole affair has me a bit exhausted and delirious.

That being said I can’t complain about the contents of my day as much as the fact that it was required in the first place. I enjoyed my first two classes and found out that my class tomorrow was canceled, meaning I get an extra day off.

But I want to save a week-in-review post for the end — Thursday or Friday.

Thus today I’m going to go in a completely different direction and talk about something I discovered which helped keep me sane during the return to form.

While listening to the recent Split episode of Nando V. Movies‘ podcast, “Mostly Nitpicking” (which sounds like a paid plug but comes solely out of a fan’s love), I was recommended a different YouTube channel’s video series.

That series was the “A Lukewarm Defense of 50 Shades” trilogy by an analytical writing-focused channel called Folding Ideas.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “50 Shades of Grey? That series of mommy porn books from the early 2010s? That stuff was trash, why should I care?”

Trust me. I was the same way.

I’ve actually seen this video series floating around in my recommended feed considering I spend a lot of time watching similar analysis channels [Examples one and two] to both help my own writing and laugh at bad writing.

I just never cared because 50 Shades wasn’t a series I got into.

But I happen to trust Nando’s opinions because I enjoy his content, and because I am succepible to media influencers apparently.

Now I’m here to pass on that recommendation to all of you because this Lukewarm Defense trilogy is wonderful.

For the most part, especially in videos two and three, the guy is more than eager to lampoon the terrible, awful writing of the books and how they translate into terrible, awful writing in the movies.

Except it goes so much deeper than that.

The video on the first book goes in-depth on the history of translations from the fan fiction to book to movie, and offers a wealth of positives about the first book’s movie adaptation to contend with all the obvious negatives.

It succeeded in making me appreciate the filmmaker’s zeal adapting what must have been a garbage fire into something more palatable and well-crafted.

A lot of his points about things like the removal of the main heroine’s inner-dialogue making her a more self-driven and competent player in the plot are really successfully delivered thanks to an editing style that presents evidence from both mediums simultaneously.

Of course most of the positives are confined to the first book’s adaptation, considering he also goes into why the other books are worse and had worse movie making conditions.

But I never thought I would appreciate 50 Shades of Grey — the movie — near as much as I did while watching this.

That’s not even to mention how funny the guy’s content is in its own right, and how successfully he tangles brief jokes or asides into relevant points multiple videos down the line.

It’s just excellent content. Enough so that I’ll go back and watch more.

To be fair, I am somewhat more open to narrative analysis content at the moment considering I’m swinging back into more focused work on my own novel.

However Folding Ideas presents some serious, evergreen writing advice. If nothing else I’m going to think way harder about paying off plot points in my own writing because I watched this guy destroy 50 Shades for dropping the ball so often due to the original nature of its production as a serialized fanfiction.

If you have about three hours to kill, check out this mini-series. I promise it’s worth your time whether you’re into script doctoring or just laughing at terrible content.

It certainly kept me sane on day one of the semester, and for that I owe Folding Ideas a lot.


Featured Image courtesy of Teesta31 via Wikimedia Commons