Month: March 2019

Succumb to the rabbit lore

Succumb to the rabbit lore

The fact that we’re seeing our third Spring banner gave me an existential crisis.

I felt like the banner with Sharena and Alfonse just appeared, but it was 13 Paralogues ago.

Not sure what happened over the last year, but I don’t think I’m down for this whole passage of time thing. It’s starting to scare me.

Even if cute bunny characters kind of make up for it.


PallaEldest Bun-Bun

  • Pegasus Carrot (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • Effective against armored foes. If unit has weapon-triangle advantage, neutralizes status effects and disables skills that prevent follow-up attacks during combat. After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on target and foes within two spaces through their next actions.
  • Draconic Aura (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 30 percent of unit’s Attack.
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Disarm Trap (B Skill)
    • When attacking in Aether Raids, if unit ends movement on a space with a Bolt or Heavy Trap, cancels trap’s effect.
  • Hone Fliers (C Skill)
    • At start of turn, grants Attack and Speed +6 to adjacent flying allies for one turn.

MarisaCrimson Rabbit

  • Flashing Carrot (Might = 14, Range =1)
    • At start of combat, if foe’s Health = 100 percent, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +2 during combat.
  • Reposition (Range = 1)
    • Target ally moves to opposite side of unit.
  • Speed/Defense Link (B Skill)
    • If a movement Assist skill is used by or targets unit, grants Speed and Defense +6 to both involved units for one turn.
  • Flier Guidance (C Skill)
    • Flying allies within two spaces can move to a space adjacent to unit.

BrunoMasked Hare

  • Ovoid Staff (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • At start of turn, restores 7 Health to unit and adjacent allies.
  • Martyr (Range = 1)
    • Restores Health = damage dealt to unit +50 percent of Attack (minimum of 7). Restores Health to unit = half of damage dealt.
  • Miracle (Cooldown = 5)
    • If unit’s Health > 1 and foe would reduce unit’s Health to 0, unit survives with 1 HP.
  • Attack/Defense Push (A Skill)
    • At start of combat, if unit’s Health = 100 percent, grants Attack and Defense +5, but if unit attacked, deals one damage to unit after combat.
  • Dazzling Staff (B Skill)
    • Foe cannot counterattack.

VeronicaSpring Princess

  • Veðrfölnir’s Egg (Might = 14, Range = 2)
    • Grants Speed +3. At start of combat, if unit’s Health ≥ 75 percent, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +4 during combat.
  • Glimmer (Cooldown = 2)
    • Boosts damage dealt by 50 percent.
  • Green Duel Flying (A Skill)
    • Grants Health +5. If unit is 5-star and level 40 and unit’s stats total less than 170, treats unit’s stats as 170 in modes like Arena.
  • Chill Resistance (B Skill)
    • At start of turn, inflicts Resistance -7 on foe with the highest Resistance through its next action.

Talk about a bizarre blend of characters.

Bruno and Veronica make sense in the footsteps of Alfonse and Sharena (even if the Paralogue story confuses everything). However, this being Bruno’s first and Veronica’s second non-canonical appearances as units is pretty weird.

They also have forgettable skills. Bruno is a healer with healing attacks, and Veronica is just a better Spring Camilla.

Two years worth of power creep, yo.

Palla is probably the most solid unit. She’s a flying red dagger that’s built to kill strong armored bois like Surtr, and with her Whitewing sister Catria appearing last year we have a cool progression to Est in 2020.

Cool all around.

Marisa is the real surprise. Because I love the game I can’t complain with more Sacred Stones representation (even if I wish we had new characters), but she doesn’t seem to mesh well with the others. Despite having an amazing character bio.

Plus her skills are very basic.

Yet being lukewarm on my opinions toward Marisa means she’s prime material to get unexpectedly summoned in my first round:

 

The fact that most of her quotes are about watching rabbits as research is incredible. Really makes up for everything.

Marisa was special from being a Sacred Stones rep, but the only other character I’m interested in is Palla. Don’t know if she’s worth pulling for alone, so I might save my orbs.


Paralogue 32: Regal Rabbits

 

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Now, let’s get into the real meat of this banner: That sweet Rabbit Lore.

Like I teased earlier, this Paralogue does some bizarre things with the status quo of holiday units.

Right off the bat we have our world’s Loki trying to convince Veronica to go to the festival:

 

She does so using Bruno’s appearance as leverage, but this just raises a bunch of questions.

Usually special units are from alternate universes to explain how two of the same characters exist in one place.

But Spring Bruno and Veronica are just our versions masquerading. Technically we are getting our world’s Bruno and Veronica, just dressed as alternates.

Yet there’s also a Spring Loki while we have regular Loki — but the Spring version is still ours according to the Paralogue.

In other words: It’s all a fucking existential mess.

Except none of that matters because the whole reason they’re there is to see whether Loki is lying to them:

 

Bet you didn’t remember that storyline is still going on while the Order of Heroes fights death herself.

The Order never appears here. Which is a nice change of pace as we saw with the 2019 Valentine’s Day banner.

The whole Paralogue centers around the Embla family. Palla and Marisa have a totally disconnected mission that feels like they’re conducting goofy business as usual while two canaiving people sneak around.

By the end we find out what that treasure is, and it’s arguably the most interesting thing about this:

 

I certainly didn’t see Taguels being referenced. Especially so soon after Panne got added into our ranks through a Grand Hero Battle.

While I started to question the relation of rabbit people to a festival where people dress like rabbits, Intelligent Systems doesn’t give any answers. They simply tease a continued treasure hunt with Loki telling Bruno and Veronica where they can find the answers.

Even if we have no idea how Taguels are supposed to help with their blood curse.

Guess It’ll all come together eventually, but at this point we’ll just have to table the discussion and get back to our non-Playboy Bunny lives.


Speaking of real life, did you all hear that Google is planning to launch a console for streaming video games?

Because I think it’s a very interesting concept that I’ll have no interest in buying. I prefer cartridge/digital download games that don’t rely on constant internet access, personally.

I just figured that would be a better segue out of this post to show that I pay attention.

That said, let me know what you think about these Spring units! And let me know how you feel about the endless march of time.

Because… Yeah, that still hurts.

Let’s all go to Munchkinland

Welcome to “I put this off until late and decided to scrounge something together based on semi-recent activities as a last ditch effort” blog post #1738.

Trademarked.

Last night I spent St. Patrick’s Day in Fullerton celebrating with my friend Mimi and a few of her people. Even dragged my friend Juan out there with me, which was somewhat bizarre, but I would argue successful.

Bizarre mostly in that we’ve never really travelled outside of Redondo as a duo, that is. You can judge his personal eccentricities for yourself.

Oh and before you ask, I did not drink at the party. No Irish coffee for me.

Had to drive, and as Sonic Sez:

It was a small party with maybe eight people, and one that took up my entire evening with board games and video games and corned beef — hence my lack of a post yesterday.

Theoretically I could have written something before the party… But I got caught up with work meetings and getting homework done.

So sue me.

I figured you all would not be interested in the exciting adventures of leaving the gym early to go check on Grandpa after he fell out of his wheelchair. Especially since he’ll fine and will tell you he’s “impervious.” I believe it.

Instead, I think it might be fun to focus on a little game we played at last night’s called Munchkin.

800px-Munchkin_card_game_being_played_,_March_2014
I took no pictures, so you’ll have to deal with a few stock images.

For those of you who only know Munchkins as delicious donut holes from Dunkin’ Donuts (Not an ad? But could be an ad), I’ll lay down the groundwork.

Munchkins the board game was developed by Steve Jackson Games and is, for all intents and purposes, a parody of Dungeons and Dragons. Players travel through a dungeon, collect treasure and class/race/gender changes and advance (mostly) by killing monsters like Lawyers and [Inter]Net Trolls.

Munchkin
An example of some of the equipment players can utilize.

It’s a game where players can ask one another for help or screw each other over, which becomes an ocean of mind games once one player is poised to win and the rest stack curses and debuffs during their combat.

It’s a game which apparently has been around since 2001? Which is kind of insane to me.

This stupid game is as old as my little sister.

And only about half as stupid as her, am I right? *Insert Rimshot here*

*Insert inevitable slap upside the head for that comment here*

Jokes aside, the more I look into this game the more I’m generally impressed by it. There are nearly 200 products, playmats like in Yu-Gi-Oh! and. So many icons.

 

 

The fact that I’ve never heard of this game until yesterday is kind of astounding.

Though, to be fair, my board gaming experience didn’t go much further than Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity until my Gaming in American Culture class started.

That all said, I suppose this post has kind of turned into a bit of an endorsement for the game? It’s not an ad, but it could be an ad. Because I would certainly recommend it for people looking to play something engaging with a bunch of friends.

munchkin2
Counters from the game.

I’m not joking when I say things get intense by the end.

I absolutely would have won my game if Mimi didn’t sweep the victory one rotation before my turn. And I’m still mad about it.

Plus, the game fits well into my recent dives into D&D creatures for my novel. It’s just the kind of thing that’s up my alley.

So take my enthusiasm with a grain of salt. Or with a pile of soft, sugary donut holes.

Your choice.


Images courtesy of Bobbyfinger and Pegasus Spiele via Wikimedia Commons

Sacred Stones and The Dropout

Sacred Stones and The Dropout

Once again, a large portion of my day has been spent doing homework between a rock and a hard place.

I was feeling pretty lazy and had no desire to do work… But my weekend plans did not allow for procrastination.

Yesterday was the CBS Broadcast Center tour.

Tomorrow I have a St. Patrick’s Day party to attend over in Fullerton.

Both of which are great social things to do, so I cannot complain. However, my first paper for Gaming in American Culture is due tomorrow, so that became an assignment I was unable to push-off.

Luckily, in spite of my complaints about overwriting the other day, I was finally able to focus and cut the paper down. It’s now six pages exactly, with a bibliography and citations in Chicago Style — something I’ve never used before.

Long ago I wrote about my turmoil trying to decide what video game I should write about for this paper series.

That impossible choice wound up landing on Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, my favorite game in the turn-based tactical RPG. So far it has been a great one, as I’ve had a ton of fun analyzing how Sacred Stones is arguably one of the most replayable games in the series due to its unit variety, random stat distributions, intentionally restrictive player choice options, multiple pathways and Permadeath concessions.

All wrapped up in a polished, 32-bit handheld bow that I adore.

Perhaps when all three parts of the paper are finished, I’ll try to compile everything and post it on the old blog here. Seems like something that would fit.

I’ve also spent time working on my essay for Cognitive Psychology, which involves analyzing a study that corresponds with the presentation I gave in-class last Thursday.

While the paper was easy to pull together, having a 3-page maximum limit, I’m still kind of struggling with the finishing details because of how confusing the professor has made certain instructions.

Though I’ve talked about that before, so I won’t bore you here.

Something that has helped me work through all of this essay writing is a brand new investigative reporting podcast I recently discovered called: The Dropout.

Helmed by Rebecca Jarvis, the Chief Business, Technology & Economics Correspondent for ABC News, this podcast discusses the rise and fall of a company called Theranos and its female CEO Elizabeth Holmes — which basically defrauded millions of dollars from investors in promising a miracle medical test, also putting millions of people at risk.

Sounds like an ad, I know. But it’s not an ad.

Though… It could be an ad?

Hit me up, Rebecca. I’m sure you’re dying for these 10+ views/day.

Seriously though, it’s a fascinating story. I’m about three episodes deep and really looking forward to finishing the rest during my next couple commutes.

It’s another great addition to my growing collection of one-shot journalistic podcasts. Joining the ranks of Dirty John and The Butterfly Effect.

Because I could listen to Nando and DJ discuss movies on Mostly Nitpicking or Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman discuss celebrity news on Hollywood Babble-On for hours. But sometimes the real, raw journalism is far more of a fascinating subject to absorb.


Featured Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Live from Studio City

Live from Studio City

In case some of you weren’t around this morning to see what I’ve been up to today, here’s the real brief teaser I put out on social media:

However, assuming you might be reading this in some far-flung future date where Twitter is dead in the aftermath of terrible social media toxicity, I’ll lay it out in good, old-fashioned text:

The Cal State Fullerton branch of the Society of Professional Journalists got an opportunity to tour the CBS2/KCAL9 broadcast center in Studio City, California this afternoon.

However, assuming you might be reading this in some far-flung future date where the Internet is dead after a nuclear apocalypse…

Well you wouldn’t be reading this anyway. My entire joke would fall apart well before I started it.

So I’ll stop wasting your time.

My dad worked at the station for about three years as an Information Technology Manager, in-part helping to build out some of the infrastructure that we were able to see today.

In fact, I personally helped build bits and pieces when he took me to work with him. Crawling under tables to plug-in computers and stuff.

Because he still has some friends at CBS, he was able to get our club president Harrison in touch with Dan Haight, the Director of Broadcast Operations and Engineering.

As the Secretary for our chapter, I figured the least I could do was help us get a tour at a professional newsroom. Luckily it was a successful venture!

IMG_2311
The broadcast building from behind, on the sixth floor roof of the parking structure.

I got to Studio City pretty early and had the chance to look around at the entertainment side of the house first.

That included a whole host of fancy-looking lots as well as named buildings, street signs and more.

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But more importantly, it included a lot of brief looks at areas where different TV shows are currently being recorded.

The one that stood out most to me was Last Man Standing. Not because I watch the Tim Allen sitcom, but because of where the show was:

IMG_2332

The home of Seinfeld? Now that’s a sound stage that could tell some stories.

Even if most of those stories are technically supposed to be centered in New York.

~*~Hollywood magic~*~

Here are a number of other discoveries I made, all lazily compiled in a slide show because I’m pretty tired after a number of hours on the freeway.

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However, arguably the most important discovery I made was off the lot:

IMG_2329

Don’t know if this is a business officially affiliated with CBS, or if it’s just some business owner with a lot of ingenuity to capitalize on the major job provider in the area, but either way I’m a fan.

After my little self-driven tour, it was time to head back to the broadcast center for our official tour!

… Except traffic was apparently not great today, so I was the first one there and had to hang out for quite some time before the rest of the group arrived.

Gave me a lot of time to look around at the big stuff in the lobby.

It was actually a lot of fun watching folks wander in-and-out, usually stopping by the security desk to see what was on the news with the guard.

After Dan arrived to take us around on the tour, I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures. Got caught up in just checking everything out.

So the best I’ve got for visuals in this stage are the couple of pictures we took as a group that got posted on the SPJ account:

Obviously, that’s where I got my featured image from. I love the image Harrison got of us all looking into a news camera.

We found out that the area where we took that picture is going to be reworked soon for a new project CBS is working on to get live news broadcasts to mobile phones easier. All with the hopes of attracting that young audience that doesn’t watch traditional TV anymore.

Then we got a look around the newsroom, everything from the assignment desk to the online story stations and editing bays.

Afterward we checked out a couple of the shows currently recording, or preparing to record, during our tour.

First was the weekly Veteran’s Voices show, where a few actors were sitting in as the anchors so they could make sure all the shots were right.

After that we saw the end of the News at Noon with Sandra Mitchell, sitting alongside the weather lady Alex Biston.

Fun fact, this weather update was actually what we watched her record. Live. It was pretty cool, and she took some time to chat with us afterward!

The most interesting thing about watching the news broadcast was the fact that those two were the only people on the entire set. Everything else was fully automated.

I can’t help but feel it would be disconcerting to record an entire broadcast like that with nobody else around on a big sound stage… But I suppose it’s the kind of thing that Internet personalities do all the time in the 21st Century.

It was kind of cool to see how much technology has advanced I suppose, even if it wasn’t a great sign for getting jobs in the industry.

Finally, we were in one of the big control rooms just in time for Donald Trump’s speech on the New Zealand attacks — which I’ll use the CNN story for just for the sake of variety.

It was pretty amazing watching almost every screen in the room change to show the President’s face, both for the CBS channels and their competition.

While we were checking out the fully automated sound deck beside that control room, another one of my Dad’s old friends showed up. Bob and Dan got to talking, which led them to telling our tour group about how much they enjoyed working with Dad and missed him.

Which was a very sweet thing to see.

But that was pretty much all there is to say about my CBS tour. It was really cool, especially on the verge of graduation when I need to start thinking about things like work more avidly.

… Plus, I got to write it off as networking with reporters for my internship.

So I really can’t complain about that.

Unraveling more YouTube recommendations

Unraveling more YouTube recommendations

You can spin this blog post today one of two ways.

Perhaps this is a public service for all of those affected by the over 10-hour Facebook outages that affected the social media platform and its company’s holdings (including Instagram and WhatsApp) for some reason other than a denial-of-service attack — an issue which they, in my opinion, hilariously had to go to another platform to report:

Those folks addicted to these apps like I sometimes become with Twitter are likely looking for something interesting to do to bide their time.

Interesting, time-wasting YouTube channels happen to be my area of expertise.

… Or, perhaps this post is a futile effort to write something on my blog daily, after a day of two-hour Comm Law exams and finishing my listen to Ender’s Game while at the gym where I could not come up with anything better than yesterday despite saying I would. But in place of that interesting subject matter, I’ve simply decided to guise my lazy alternative in the guise of the solution to a social media-driven turmoil that has long ended by the time I began writing; all due to the aforementioned requirements.

But I think we all know which is the true answer to the question.

That said, I’ve delayed the inevitable long enough.

While my parents travelled around California going to different doctor’s appointments on Monday, I was in charge of my sister back home. We more-or-less spent the afternoon sitting beside one another on the couch doing homework and watching YouTube videos.

Among the usual line-up of Game Grumps and Super Beard Bros. videos taking up time, we were recommended a strange looking think piece on the “Sonic the Hedgehog Bible.”

That’s the kind of offer we couldn’t refuse.

So we didn’t.

And thus we discovered the magic that is Unraveled: A show by the gaming news website Polygon, helmed by their video producer Brian David Gilbert.

As someone who appreciates few things more than highly-analytical, well-produced and funny content deeply examining video games, this YouTube series earns my highest recommendation.

The show, in essence, takes huge amounts of data and information from the video games themselves or from real-world (often governmental) organizations that can be used for video game applications and just distills them down into quippy 15-minute binges that use massive amounts of paper for on-the-wall diagrams with rarely an apology.

It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

While we started with their Sonic Bible episode, I was also a big fan of his dive into madness on the Legend of Zelda timeline, breakdown of hundreds of Mega Man Robot Masters and look at how Bowser’s army would be organized in relation to the U.S. Army.

An oddly prescient piece considering Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé announced his retirement just a few days after it dropped, leaving it in the hands of a man literally named Bowser.

I won’t say I’m much for conspiracy theories… But the truth is out there.

Anyway, yeah. That’s my recommendation for the night.

If a YouTube show can get my sister of all people excited to watch deep-diving video game content, you know it has to be good.

So give Unraveled a look, if you would.


Featured Image courtesy of Gaurav Shakya via Wikimedia Commons

Ten-dollars worth of nihilism

Ten-dollars worth of nihilism

As I battle the unholy combination of impulsively long writing and too much content in the form of video game mechanics and aesthetics for my first Gaming in American Culture paper, it’s about time for a break.

Because my 4-6 page restriction has long since been surpassed by a 10-page first draft, and I’m electing to take advantage of the Sunday deadline’s opportunity for procrastination.

Instead, why not write a blog post?

In lieu of something substantial (as I have spent my afternoon writing about video games and listening to Ender’s Game), I figure why not take advantage of the Cognitive Psychology student presentation I watched during class this morning?

As I’ve briefly discussed in the past, our main grade outside of exams in Cog Psych are coming from presentations we have to give on a professional study which will become the subject of our research papers.

The presentation given today was about the spacing effect: In which we memorize better by spacing out information rehearsal over long periods of time than with condensed study.

To show us how this worked, the group’s activity involved learning obscure vocabulary terms intersperced by periods of rest and cat videos.

If you know me at all by now, you know that I can’t let a particularly interesting vocabulary word slip by without making a “ten-dollar word of the day” post.

Thus, I present to you:


Nihilarian

Noun

  1. A person who deals with things lacking importance.

via the Collins Dictionary


As a long-time user of nihilism, both in my vocabulary and philosophical musings (particularly fun with YouTube dives into popular culture), I was quite interested to learn a new word with a similar root.

It’s a simple but poignant term. Nihil-, the Latin word for nothingness, mixed with the suffix of different jobs — reminiscent of words like librarian, technician, etc.

While the word was used to help us learn a facet of psychology, my introduction to nihilarian engaged an entirely different part of my brain.

Now I’m going to look for any excuse to use the phrase to describe a character in my novel. Because the Honors Project is such a hodgepodge of influences from my daily experiences that I may as well.

Perhaps it could apply to one of my new mantis people.

See, I very recently had the drive to include a race of praying mantis-like characters. The idea came serendipitously in a dream I had last night — which I suppose is the kind of intuition I’m listening to now.

Next thing you know I’ll be a full-blown spiritualist.

They may be Thri-kreen, a la my similar inclusion of Aarakocra bird people from Dungeons and Dragons lore (because literally everything exists in D&D apparently, and my friend Sam is great at pointing out the obscure bits).

Or they may be something more humanoid of my own creation, considering how uncomfortable I am with full-on bug people after seeing the D&D depiction.

Thri-kreen2
Image courtest of the Forgotten Realms Wiki.

Either way, mantis folk are coming. And one of them will likely deal with things lacking importance.


Image courtesy of Woolchan via Wikimedia Commons

Media re-consumption

Media re-consumption

Everyone always talks about the book being better than the movie.

But where do most people stand on the audio book compared to the book?

That’s pretty much what I’m going to be sussing out for myself in the next couple days as I listen to the Orson Scott Card classic Ender’s Game on Audible.

Not an ad for Audible, but could be an ad for Audible?

Hit me up, Audible. I could stand to listen to more books and it might help if I had extra motivation.

Anyway though. I will be listening to Ender’s Game over the next few days.

I’ve actually read the book before, years ago — sometime just before or after I blew through my Dad’s big physical collection of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series (condensed into one publication).

I was having a hell of a space phase back in Middle School/early High School, apparently.

However, as a part of the curriculum for Gaming in American Culture, I must read the book again. Apparently it fits in well with the themes of video game use by the military, our discussion for this upcoming class.

As much as I enjoyed the book years ago, and certain scenes continue to stick in my head (mostly the bursts of graphic violence and groin kicking oddly enough), I don’t exactly have a lot of time to sit down and read ~350 pages in the span of three days.

Midterms have stolen that from me.

So I’m going to be listening to the story instead. Work it in during my drives in place of podcasts for a while.

I don’t listen to audio books too often, so it should be interesting to see how the experience lives up to my time with the original book. Will I retain more? Will I notice things that I never have before? Will I use that momentum to finally go ahead and listen to/read the sequel novels past the quarter of Ender’s Shadow I read back in the day?

And the most important question of them all:

Will the audio book be better than the movie?

Yes, yes it will.

Because most things are better than suffering through Harrison Ford phoning things in.

Even if the rest of the movie was pretty good around that, from what I remember.

Now, I know what you must all be thinking. “Jason, is this really the peak highlight from your day? The most worthwhile thing you can talk about?”

To that I say… Yes. Kind of.

If I were to be completely honest, the most interesting part of my day was watching huge groups of butterflies migrate across Redondo Beach, as well as the rest of Southern California apparently.

When I was picking up my sister from school, there were so many butterflies going around that I thought they were leaves at first.

It was nuts.

But I also don’t have a lot to say on it considering I didn’t take photos or videos of the phenomenon. So that LA Taco article will have to do.

Beyond that, all my time today has been devoted to the gym and homework. So… Yeah, disregarding butterflies, listening to the audio book for a book I have already read is the most interesting part of my day.

Purely due to the more philosophical questions I’ll be considering about the difference in media consumption over the next few days.

So hey, maybe I’ll come back to this topic at the end of the week.

Or even if I don’t, maybe I’ll have some more interesting blog topics from here on out!

We’ll just have to see.

Captain Marvel is an excellent, if flawed, lynchpin for the MCU

Captain Marvel is an excellent, if flawed, lynchpin for the MCU

So, guess who just saw Captain Marvel? The movie which Meninism Magazine voted worst blight on masculinity since Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters.

I kid. Any relation to real-life absurdist magazines or misogynistic straw polls is purely coincidental.

It’s just hilarious to me how reactionary the hate for this movie has been leading up to its release.

But that’s neither here nor there. I’m not here to make political statements.

I’m here to review a Marvel movie.

As a general disclaimer, I wasn’t excited for Captain Marvel like I was for Infinity War.

Not because of the aforementioned testosterone backlash — though I’ll admit some of the film’s advertising seemed a little too determined to prod that tiger.

I just happen to know next to nothing about Carol Danvers, so it was going to take a lot to convince me she is the Avenger’s one true hope.

Luckily, the experience was more fun than I expected and proved the heroine’s place in this narrative.

Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as “Vers,” an amnesiac member of the Kree Empire’s armada of intergalactic warrior-heroes locked in conflict with a shapeshifting race of alien terrorists called the Skrull.

Vers has visions of a human life as Air Force pilot Carol Danvers, and winds up on Earth before her untrustworthy narrative is resolved.

There she must sort out her fractured past, flush out the invading alien threat and have buddy cop adventures with Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury — over ten years before he starts the Avenger’s Initiative in 2008’s Iron Man.

The movie starts strong by putting the clichéd complexities of an “amnesiac protagonist” on the back burner for an in media res emphasis of the living world in Marvel’s deep space, similar to Guardians of the Galaxy.

But when things got to Earth, I became concerned.

The burst of mid-90s nostalgia pandering — complete with a Blockbuster video and Stan Lee cameo rehearsing for his appearance in 1995’s Mallrats — is fun and gives Larson a quirky “fish out of water” bit reminiscent of Wonder Woman.

I imagine it’s not uncommon to levy comparisons to DC’s female-led superhero film, but I think the better comparison is with Solo: A Star Wars Story.

My least favorite part of that origin story was the way it condensed every bit of information you know about the character’s past into the span of a week. It was blatantly referential rather than clever and story-driven, weakening Han Solo as a character.

When Captain Marvel introduces Nick Fury, dropping bits and pieces of recognizable information for MCU veterans to say,

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I was afraid the film would fall into the same trappings of timeline condensation.

However, it handles itself far more tactfully, and instead ties huge loose ends of a decade-long story into succinct bows. It’s, dare I say, a marvel how well Captain Marvel stands as the “inciting incident” for the rest of the MCU.

The final product is not my favorite Marvel film as an overall experience. But the wonderful cast helps solidify the movie’s place.

Jackson is a stellar second lead. His interactions with Larson, Carol’s best friend Maria (played by Lashana Lynch in a performance that stood out despite a late entrance) and the kitty Goose were solid cinematic glue.

I have to give extra props to the effects department for selling a de-aged Jackson so well over almost two hours.

The alien races’ full-makeup and costumes also worked, with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) each nailing their roles as Kree and Skrull commanders respectively.

Thanks to them, the “alien war” serving as Captain Marvel‘s crux was far more interesting than I expected based on YouTube think pieces setting up certain Avengers as confederates due to the Skrull’s infamy in comics.

The movie also benefitted from being smaller in scale than I expected.

Everything was very interpersonal, only briefly referencing “world threatening” stakes that most superhero movies rely on. As an added bonus, this made the effects more contained, befitting plot and action where needed.

But of course, there’s the lead. Brie Larson is charming and wonderful as the kick-ass, witty, and snarky hero who growls at aliens and doesn’t need to prove herself to anyone.

I had a few smaller gripes with her character, such as the only injury she ever suffered being a bloody nose (mostly to contribute to her mysterious past) and the forced reliance on amnesia tropes as a whole.

Though that’s more on the screenplay than her performance.

It’s also worth mentioning one of my Dad’s complaints with the film: She very quickly accepts a sudden shift in perspective on [Spoilers]. That, in turn, feeds my own issue that after the character development, her powers seemed incredibly vast considering their somewhat modest origins.

That said, an action set piece at the end of the movie makes great use of visuals to show her strength and definitely sold Captain Marvel as a powerful ally in the upcoming second fight against Thanos.

The film’s score also offered some distinct positives. It relied more heavily on variations of the main theme than a glut of pop songs (like Guardians), and there was a stand out moment where Western vibes took over the melody during a one-on-one confrontation in the desert.

So that, in a nutshell, is Captain Marvel.

A solid enough Marvel flick that perhaps falters most in its primary storyline’s reliance on amnesiac origin story clichés, but makes up for it with beyond excellent world building, special effects befitting a more personal adventure (that really only got wonky once or twice) and a top-notch cast.

All playing second fiddle to the cutest cat ever committed to film.

After Captain Marvel, I’m very ready for Endgame to hurry up and hit theaters, because if the mid-credit stinger was any indication, it should be a wild ride.


Featured Image courtesy of IMDb

Working hard? Or hardly working?

Working hard? Or hardly working?

In case any of you genuinely wanted that question answered, I can assure you that I have, in fact, been working hard.

Next week is my Comm Law midterm. A totally online exam, but one based on a class where the workload has been far larger and more time-consuming than I had expected going in.

The nicest thing about the exam is that my professor pretty much let us know it’s intended to be an open-note test — or at least she expects us to treat it as such. After all, most of it is going to be application of all the information we’ve learned rather than a definition-driven evaluation.

However, she added that she doesn’t want us to necessarily be flipping through our notebooks for the entire exam.

Because she knows just as well as we do that it can be a stressful experience.

Thus, to incentivize pre-studying we’ve been offered extra credit to create a single 8 1/2 x 11 cheat sheet, take a “selfie” with it (with as much creativity as we desire) and upload the picture to an online forum before taking the test.

My Featured Image of the day is that very selfie. Wearing my brand new Frog-in-a-Car T-shirt.

I figured what better way is there to represent myself than having a thick, detailed page of notes that I’m ignoring in lieu of some Tetris?

What’s that? You don’t believe that I have a full-page of detailed notes based on how far away it is in the perspective of the picture?

Well, you’re right.

Because it’s actually a front AND back page worth of detailed notes:

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The front side was a bit off-the-cuff when I first put it together, which is why it looks so left-end dominant.

I tried to fix that more on the back side. It helped that there were less diagrams and more Supreme Court precedents to simply list off as we moved farther into the semester.

Some of you might not find the clean, clinical and small font pencil-only approach beneficial to a study guide very helpful. Personally, I really like to pack in as much detail as I can.

In fact, I essentially shoved every detail I could onto this page to the point that I might not ever have to open up the first half of my Comm Law notebook ever again.

A notebook with ~150 pages worth of notes that I packed into one, at that.

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That’s a spicy-a notebook.

It may have taken me all afternoon to transfer all of this information over, but I’d say it was well worth it to have a condensed study aid tool.

Especially given that just the act of copying all of my written text a second time is as powerful a way to study as I can imagine.

That’s really all I’ve done today, so I figured the cheat sheet would make for as good a blog post as any. The project fits well enough into my narrative of enjoying the class as a whole that it seems appropriate.

I just wanted to end this off by giving an extra special shout-out to my photographer, Alyson. Because one good picture deserves another in return:

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Gotta love those post-SAT blues.

Definitely don’t miss those days.

A Heroes post bound by obligation. And darkness.

A Heroes post bound by obligation. And darkness.

Alright, I put off writing this introduction because I have had no idea what to say for the Beyond Darkness banner.

But it’s 1:30 a.m. or so and I just need to come up with something.

So here’s my something:

Star Trek: Into Beyond Darkness.

Let’s talk about some Binding Blade.


LughAnima Child

  • Gronnserpent (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • If foe initiates combat and uses bow, dagger, magic or staff, grants Defense and Resistance +6 during combat.
  • Rally Up Resistance (Range = 1)
    • Grants Resistance +6 to target ally and allies within two spaces of target (excluding unit) for one turn.
  • Mirror Stance (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Attack and Resistance +4 during combat.
  • Attack Feint (B Skill)
    • If a Rally Assist skill is used by or targets unit, inflicts Attack +7 on foes in cardinal directions of unit through their next actions.

SueDoe of the Plains

  • Short Bow (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • Effective against flying foes. Deals +10 damage when Special Attack triggers.
  • Moonbow (Cooldown = 2)
    • Treats foe’s Defense or Resistance as if reduced by 30 percent during combat.
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Chill Defense (B Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, inflicts Defense -7 on foe with the highest Defense through its next action.
  • Hone Speed 4 (C Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, grants Speed +7 to adjacent allies for one turn.

TheaStormy Flier

  • Vanguard (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Defense +7 during combat.
  • Ignis (Cooldown = 4)
    • Boosts damage by 80 percent of unit’s Defense.
  • Steady Posture (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat, grants Speed and Defense +4 during combat.
  • Seal Speed/Defense (B Skill)
    • Inflicts Speed and Defense -5 on foe through its next action after combat.

IdunnDark Priestess

  • Demonic Breath (Might = 16, Range = 1)
    • Grants Defense +3. Effective against armored foes. At start of combat, if a negative status effect is active on unit, or if unit’s Health < 100 percent, neutralizes penalties on unit and grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +4 during combat. If foe’s Range = 2, calculates damage using the lower defensive stat.
  • Bonfire (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 50 percent of unit’s Defense.
  • Fortify Defense/Resistance (A Skill)
    • Grants Defense and Resistance +6. Inflicts Attack -2.
  • Vengeful Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent and foe initiates combat, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 per unit’s attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack (does not stack).
  • Ward Dragons (C Skill)
    • Grants Defense and Resistance +4 to dragon allies within two spaces during combat.

My apprehension to talk about this banner is two-fold.

First comes from the fact that I have not played the Binding Blade, and thus have no real connection to the characters.

Outside of knowing Lugh is Nino’s daughter — but I only care because she is one of my favorite Heroes units.

Second is the fact that this banner feels like a callback to the more simple units of old, which is admittedly nice after seeing so many with weapon descriptions longer than my novel.

However, Lugh and Thea basically have nothing special to talk about.

Sue similarly isn’t impressive, but only because she’s Brave Lyn lite.

Cavalry archer. Swift Sparrow. “Smoke” B Skill. ‘Nuff said.

Idunn is the only unit I would consider worth wasting orbs on. She is a powerful, red armored manakete with a weapon that counters all the Hectors and Surtrs of the world.

She also has very cute artwork.

What can I say, I’m a sucker for heterochromia. I’ll have to see about adding a character with that into my story…

While Idunn is neat, she unfortunately is not neater than Halloween Myrrh.

So I’m not going to throw a whole lot of orbs into this banner beyond supplementing the free summon tickets from Forging Bonds.

Naturally, that means the story missions are a big ol’ orb repository!


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Book III, Chapter 5 begins an indiscriminate amount of time after Chapter 4, where King Gustav of Askr is killed by Hel.

The royal family mourns. I II II I_.

When Alfonse asks why Gustav wanted to pass along a ratty tree branch, his mother reveals that it was the play sword three-year-old Alfonse used to tell his father he was going to help defend their nation.

Real generic “you were prepared to lead all along” development beats.

Then we find out that as a result of Gustav’s death:

So the Order of Heroes, “built for small-scale operations,” decides to use the break in the war to take the fight to Hel.

Alfonse and Sharena were unable to figure out a trick to defeat her in royal archives, thus Alfonse figures they could scout her domain.

From there, the missions shift to simple character introductions.

The most interesting thing here comes when one map features an enemy pegasus archer — the first time a unit of that type has shown up.

I’m hoping we get a cool pegasus archer soon as a result.

As the Order reaches the entrance to Hel, now-fell King Gustav is sent to fight his children. Eir regards the act as particularly “cruel,” even for her mother.

I mostly found it surprising.

Not in that Gustav comes back to fight his children — that shit was obvious weeks ago. I’m simply surprised that they blew that plot point so early!

I am also admittedly surprised that they play Gustav as a character who keeps his sentience despite being physically commanded by Hel.

Naturally it’s all done so he can encourage Alfonse to be strong and kill him. Also closure:

Yet I had expected him to be a mindless, evil zombie.

So good on you for the surprise, Intelligent Systems.

From there, the Order of Heroes prepares to dive into Hel. Cut to black. See you next banner.


This FEH post feels a bit low-energy, don’t you think?

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m writing it into the wee hours of the morning, or if I simply could not care less about the characters… But either way, not my strongest.

It is one of my shortest, however. So I’ll happily accept that.

Maybe I’ll pivot my usual fever into my Gaming in American Culture class essay all about Sacred Stones, as I finally made up my mind for that.

Who knows, it could inspire IS to finally give us some new units from the game.

That said let me know what you think of this Binding Blade banner! Are you more excited than I am? More jaded? I’m quite interested to know.