Tag: America

Music, Muppets and Menorahs

Music, Muppets and Menorahs

Today the Rochlin clan made its way up into the Santa Monica hills for a day trip to the Skirball Cultural Center.

For those of you who aren’t aware (as I wasn’t before our trip today), the Skirball is a Jewish institution opened in 1996 that, frankly, is quite beautiful. Right next to Mulholland Drive and… Well…

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Just look at this patio. There’s plenty of fancy little resting places like this all over the museum.

It’s also, to their credit, very handicap accessible. Which is quite important for us since my dad had foot surgery a while back.

But that’s another story, because I’m clearly not here to talk about my family medical history. I’m here to show off all the cool pictures I got walking around a bunch of different exhibits!

I’m splitting up my slideshows in order of the exhibits we looked at this time around, so that said I hope you enjoy this little look into a place you might not have heard about.


Leonard Bernstein at 100

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I’ll be blunt, I’m not great with names that aren’t in constant circulation through the circles I follow. So off-hand I couldn’t have told you who Leonard Bernstein was despite the apparent long legacy there.

Of course you bring up West Side Story and the New York Philharmonic and it all essentially slides into place. Especially since our family has apparently been on a WSS kick after that play we attended a while back.

Still, Aly would be most disappointed that I don’t know music people super well.

But that’s okay because she’s never beaten a single Pokémon game. #ShadeThrown

Again, besides the point. We’ve got pictures to look at.

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The Jim Henson Exhibition

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Or, as an alternative introductory picture:

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Alright here’s the part we were all here for. Mr. Bernstein was a nice appetizer, but if there was anything that was going to get me out of bed early this morning, it would be Jim Henson.

We all love Jim right? I mean how could we not.

The Muppet Show.

Sesame Street.

The Dark Crystal.

Labyrinth.

Need I say more?

Though it might be partially attributed to all the build-up that led into it, the Henson portion of our day at the museum was definitely the coolest. Not only were there actual puppets (Muppets? Though more than just them) all over the place, there were also behind-the-scenes paraphernalia like scripts and storyboards for different projects.

Those were particularly cool in my opinion.

But don’t just take my word for it, check some of it out for yourself:

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Visions and Values

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Now we move into the Judaism portion of our tour. Over on your left you’ll see a brief history of the experience of my ancestors from ancient times to their transition into America.

This area was the most fleshed out portion of the museum for… Well, obvious reasons.

As a Jewish Cultural Center, this exhibit was the one thing at the Skirball that’s always available to the public while the other pieces rotate out.

Anyone with an eye on history would enjoy walking through the different descriptors of timelines, holidays and culture. However, the thing that stood out most for me was all the artifacts.

I don’t think I’ve seen a larger collection of Torah, Menorah or other household antiquities together in one place. Everything was really pretty — unless it was more of an oddball. Like the Menorah shaped like a cactus.

Yeah that exists.

Check it out, along with other wicked things like an actual full-scale recreation of the Statue of Liberty’s torch arm, here:

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Noah’s Ark

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Now over on your right you’ll see the much less serious portion of our trip through the Hebrew arts.

The Noah’s Ark side of the museum was pretty heavily built-up as well considering it was the one portion that we needed to reserve a time to get into it in advance.

Unfortunately it wound up not actually being an informative, historical look at the story of the flood. No sort of deeper examination into whether actual evidence existed or any sort of intellectual approach of that caliber.

No, Noah’s Ark was a play place for young children.

While it wasn’t exactly a place meant for us to enjoy, there were some pretty cool things about it. All of the animals on the ark were interactive or made of some wacky material that all contributed to a very interesting style overall.

Seriously check out some of these animals. Lord knows a few of them may just be in your nightmares tonight.

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While I had a great time at the Skirball with my family, I’m a little exhausted after doing that museum visit alongside a trip down Mulholland, a stop at Mambos for a Cuban lunch and a half-a-dozen other different things this afternoon.

This would have been up way earlier if not for that… So I’m not going to waste too much time concluding things.

Mostly I wanted to take this last opportunity to point out a couple of funny things we found in the museum’s gift shop. Because yeah the super pretty collectible glass Menorah and Jim Henson puppets that were available all made for lovely gifts. But they’re also way less funny then some of the random novelty goods.

For example, this series of books.

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You know. For when you want to teach your kid how to be a Yiddish dork that throws random words out at their Catholic friends to confuse them.

Or hey if reading isn’t your thing, maybe you’re more into board games. Well in that case, this is the perfect gift for you:

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I love Monopoly, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing really inherently funny about the game itself.

What I think is hilarious is the fact that if you’re playing a Jerusalem-themed Monopoly game, something like the Wailing Wall just HAS to be a location on the board, and I can’t get over the idea of building a hotel on the Wailing Wall and forcing your friends to pay $1,000 just to go pay their respects.

That’s just funny no matter who you are.

But anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter. Hopefully you enjoyed this little visual tour of the museum with my family.

If you’ve got any fond Jim Henson-based memories, let me know about them in the comments! That sounds just wholesome enough to be fun.

Even if I get that Kermit vine spammed at me. Which I probably deserve.

July 4th, 2018: A Parade in Photos

July 4th, 2018: A Parade in Photos

There’s nothing like a parade on the Fourth of July.

Well… Actually I’m not so sure about that. It just seemed like the right cliché to start this post off with considering I’m talking about going to a parade on the Fourth of July.

To be completely honest, I think my most fond Fourth memories date back to these pool parties I used to go to at a family friend’s house. Not only was it a poolside BBQ every year, but we could all see fireworks from that yard as the night fell.

Also I have very fond recollections of playing Donkey Kong Jr. one year off of that kind of bizarre card reading attachment that existed for the GameBoy Advanced I think? That might just be a fever dream, but if nothing else it helps me associate the Fourth with DK jr.

Probably a different story for another day, though. I just wanted to punctuate my conversation about Alyson with a video game thing.

Because she loves that.

Spiteful recurring jokes aside, this 4th of July I went out past LAX to Westchester for a parade. Alyson and the RUHS band perform in this particular parade every year, and it’s my second time coming along for the ride.

Last time I went was a few years ago when I wasn’t focusing so much on the power of having a blog to spout nonsense into, though.

So I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to fill up one of my daily writing requirements.

However, I’m also spending the day with the family since it’s July 4th, so I’m going to keep it brief and just do a neat little slideshow of all the cool stuff that made its way through the parade route before RUHS performed.

Hopefully you enjoy this very non-politicized Fourth of July post. Because god knows the fervor is strong when I hear people yelling things like “take him down” at Maxine Waters, a U.S. Congresswoman, as she makes her way down the parade path.

God bless America.

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Also, can’t forget the bonus recording of Aly and the band performing:

Happy birthday, America. May your founding principles continue to hopefully shine through to number 243 and beyond!

Minor musings on Robert F. Kennedy and the English language

On an otherwise lazy day where I basically did next to nothing of note worth talking about with any serious bravado around here, leave it to Dr. Jason Sexton and Boom to give me something interesting and intellectual to reflect on.

Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. It will officially be the 50th anniversary of that event in just three days.

The history of the Kennedy family isn’t exactly something I think about too often, despite the intriguing nature of the “Kennedy curse” as it were.

As a result, it was interesting doing a copy edit on the 17-page essay written by Joseph Palermo. The piece examines the death of Bobby Kennedy and what motives drove the assassination, both the actual motivations and whatever motivations were placed upon the assassin. He questions whether or not it was appropriate to frame the politician’s death using the Israeli-Palestinian crisis (as many tried to do) based on logs of interactions kept by L.A. County Sheriffs who watched Sirhan.

It’s a rather well done piece that I enjoyed reading, one that gave me a deeper understanding of a period of history I don’t often think about too seriously. Dr. Sexton is hoping to get the thing out on Tuesday, the actual 50th anniversary, and I’d recommend everyone read it once it’s out in the world.

However I didn’t just want to take this time to promote an essay that hasn’t yet been released.

I also wanted to spend some time reflecting on the English language, because copy editing writing does give one plenty of opportunities to think about how needlessly dumb and overcomplicated this great language can be.

For example, there are so many words that are spelled similarly but have vastly different meanings.

At one point in the piece, someone is described as being a ‘demur’ person. Thinking the intent had been to write that they were a ‘demure’ person, I looked up the two words to get a better grasp of exactly what the difference was.

According to dictionary.com:


Demur (verb) — To make objection, especially on the grounds of scruples.
also (noun) — The act of making objection; an objection raised.


Demure (adjective) — Characterized by shyness and modesty; reserved.


Amazing how much difference one silent vowel makes, isn’t it?

In one fell swoop, a person can go from having a descriptor for someone to having an action. Or a noun that’s technically the embodiment of what that verb creates.

No wonder English language learners need extra assistance, the whole construct is just chocked full of rules, exceptions and similar elements like homophones that make it a nightmare to truly master the damn thing.

But hey, that’s the world I’m looking to immerse myself in one of these days, so it’s just my lot in life to try and learn, understand and apply these kinds of specifics.

Guess it’s a good thing I’ve got opportunities like Boom, Gladeo and the Titan around to help me start to work on everything, huh?

Some Fire Emblem after the fireworks

Some Fire Emblem after the fireworks

Hope everybody in the states enjoyed their 4th of July this year! Mine was rather quiet, not counting the fireworks that began to explode around my neighborhood after a certain hour. Pretty much just spent some time with the family, had Korean BBQ for lunch, watched some movies and enjoyed the fireworks shows in both Washington D.C. and in New York.

If I had to put in my two cents, the Macy’s 4th of July Firework Show had the undoubtedly superior display of bombs bursting in air, though PBS’s A Capitol Fourth had nicer musical acts and such leading up to a subpar series of fireworks.

But I digress, I’m not a fireworks review blog after all. Not yet anyway, haven’t felt the burning desire to review them that badly.

No, I’m here to move past the stars and stripes, the explosions of color in the sky and the insane hot dog eating contests so characteristic of America’s birthday to instead talk about Japanese interactive media localized so those like me can enjoy it. As usual.

Because video games.

Of course, the video game I have to talk about today is Fire Emblem Heroes. Big shock, I know… But there’s a pretty legitimate reason for it today. Plus I don’t have too much more to say about how much of a dick Yami Bakura is or about the Awakening characters trailer I saw released today for Fire Emblem Warriors.

That’s… A lie. I’ll be honest, I have quite a bit to say about that little trailer. However, most of it boils down to me fan-girling about being able to play as Lissa swinging a giant axe around or getting to play as Lucina with and without the Marth disguise. So I figure it didn’t need a whole separate thing for itself when I can just sum it up here.

Anyways,

In the aftermath of a recent Voting Gauntlet:

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Somehow I lost all three rounds. Elise beat me while supporting Sakura, Priscilla beat me while supporting Lissa and Elise beat me again when I tried getting revenge by supporting Priscilla. Don’t think that’s ever happened to me before.

And in the days leading up to our second Tempest Trials:

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It’s Echoes themed, which has me pretty excited. Especially since one of my favorite characters, Tobin, is the special hero reward this time around. But I’ll go more into that when the event actually drops.

A large update for Fire Emblem Heroes, Version 1.5, dropped for the world to enjoy. The update has actually added quite a bit, and I’ll sum up all of it, but arguably the two main additions are the “Chain Challenge” and “Squad Assault” story map battle modes.

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Chain Challenge

Here’s a new game mode taking the conceptual ideas from the Tempest Trials event and applying them to a wider experience.

And giving us the chance to get a crap ton of goods, which is a better incentive than almost anything to keep on chugging through this game, I’d say.

 


All of the game’s story maps and paralogue maps have been grouped together to give players the chance to play them in a new format. Much like the Tempest Trials, each map is fought in succession, and you’re allowed to take one to three teams worth of chances at each.

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The rewards for completing these are either feathers or orbs. Both are greatly appreciated items in this game, and after a while they really start to stack up.

 


By the time you get to the Lunatic-level challenges for the newest maps, you can get up to 8 orbs per three maps.

While not necessarily a lot on their own, all of these maps put together provide a heck of a lot of orbs for everyone’s summoning desires. In fact, just the prospect of having these orbs for the future has encouraged me to break into my stash to try my hand at summoning an Eldigan.

Fun fact, while writing this paragraph about how I was struggling to summon Eldigan and feeling bad about wasting a good chunk of my orb surplus, I actually managed to summon him.

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Amazing how the power of complaining about things seems to have an effect on games like this. Now that I have him and his legendary meme-worthy sword, I can start to save up my supply again.

Feels good.


Squad Assault

Squad assault is just mean.

 

Right now there’s only one Squad Assault map, and like the Chain Challenge mode it also seems to take cues from the ‘permadeath’ feature Heroes started using during the Tempest Trial last month. However, there’s more of a twist to this version.

In Squad Assault, to earn the two orbs and sacred seal rewards, players have to take on five battle maps in a row. The battle maps are based on story missions, like the first map from the “World of Mystery” series and the first map from the “World of Conquest” series from what I saw in my first attempt.

However, after each map, the four heroes you used to beat it are cycled out. So if you don’t have 20 good units to beat through each of the five battles in the series, you’re going to have a bad time.

Also you aren’t allowed to let any of your units die on any of the individual maps. If any unit dies, you automatically lose and have to start back from the beginning of the series all over again.

Just. Mean.

Granted, it isn’t a timed event, so you theoretically get as many attempts as you want… But it is still a little frustrating to even think about.


Other updates

This portion is going to be more of a lightning round, since it’s a lot of smaller improvements and edits that are relatively short to sum up. At least, theoretically they’re relatively short to sum up. Who knows how much I’ll wind up blathering on about it.

  • EXP adjustments

    • Not only will it now be easier to train cleric units due to an increase in experience points from healing, there are also going to be more experience points rewarded for defeating enemy units stronger than your own and less detractions for battling enemy units that are weaker than your units. Small changes relatively speaking, but all welcomed changes nonetheless. Training isn’t a huge burden in this game admittedly, but making it easier to get units to level 40 can’t be bad by any stretch of the imagination.
  • Sorting options

    • When searching for units to build teams, use in tributes, accomplish certain specific challenges and more, we were only able to use one method of categorization at a time prior to the 1.5 update. While this worked just fine in its own right, as categories like “movement type” or “rarity” are useful and generally all I’ve ever had to use, now it’ll be that much easier to pick out specific units in the barracks by categorizing using up to three sorting methods at a time.
  • Summoning screen user interface

    • Again, another small change, but each of these smaller user interface and aesthetic changes do contribute to making a smoother game experience. In this case, now the time remaining for each Summoning Focus will be displayed at the main screen for each of the focuses. While this information was available one click away from where it is now in the detailed information screen, having it on the main page is just a bit more convenient. They also added an extra “more information” link that brings you to the page detailing the focus that was previously only available from the update bulletin board. So that’s cool.
  • Purchase interruption protection

    • I’ve never had this problem myself, but apparently communication errors have been issues for people who tried to purchase orbs for a summoning session. Now there’s an option to complete a previous purchase so that the issue doesn’t require a complete restart of the application.
  • Larger Barracks

    • As someone who has become frugal with his orb purchases in the hopes that one day a focus I really want to see arrives, I’ve yet to have to expand my barracks past the initial 200 base units allotted. However, for people who really like hoarding units I suppose, the overall maximum unit space in the barracks have been expanded from 500 to 1,000. Small details once again, but I imagine some collector out there appreciates the extra space.
  • Additional Improvements and Changes

    • Here’s where we get into the nit-picky stuff that even the update page I’m working off of delegates to small sentences, so I don’t think I have too much to say about much of it myself. I’ll drop this here and probably leave it at that:
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I will say, the added danger area setting, special conditions tracker and sacred seal information displays are all useful changes I can personally get behind, at least.

Some frankly much needed changes to the structure of the Tempest Trials events have also been implemented with this update… But I feel like that will be a better topic to broach when I write up my post about the new Tempest Trials after it drops on Friday.

So if you enjoy me talking about this game, look forward to that.

If you don’t enjoy me talking about this game… Well I’m sorry. I personally happen to enjoy writing about this game, so I really appreciate you putting up with it one way or the other.

Now then, onto my standard end card questionnaire. What do you think of the new Fire Emblem Heroes update? Do you feel it’s substantial and improves the game widely? Or would you have rather they done more, either on top of what they did or instead of what they did.

Let me know in the comments below! I’ll probably be off getting more feathers and such from these Chain Challenges.

March 14, 2017 Article Published

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

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

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

The entire lecture was given in Spanish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Road to Decision 2016

Road to Decision 2016

The 2016 election is the first national election I’ve had the chance to vote for in my lifetime.While the Presidential race itself has admittedly been… Less than appealing, it hasn’t changed my conviction to go out and do my civic duty for the first time.  

With a lot of pretty significant proposition on the ballot in California to vote for, as well as local and national offices out of my district, it was definitely still an important thing to do despite any national disillusionment.Now that the voting is done, all there’s left to do is wait.  Wait and see.

Naturally, since I work for a newspaper, waiting and seeing means I’ll literally be charting the progress of the national and local elections in Orange County.  It’s going to be a long, long day…So having some caffeine in my system will probably be a good thing.

No matter who you’re voting for, I hope you have the chance to go out and exercise your right in what seems like an unprecedentedly big turnout year!

Stereotyping and the Mexican/American Border

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The border wall between the San Diego sewage treatment plant built to clean the Tijuana River (left) and the city of Tijuana, Baja California (right).  [Image Courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde]
“When Mexico sends its people, they aren’t sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime – They’re rapists.”

Donald Trump said this when he announced he was running for president in June 2015. It took him 18 seconds to say and I would be surprised if anyone has forgotten this blatantly racist statement.

Stereotypes, as a political tool, have been used to oppress people since before written records were even kept. They’re typically overgeneralized ideas about a group of people used to demean them and incite public ridicule or shunning. Undoubtedly, stereotypes have been used in terrible, awful ways throughout history. However, some – regardless of the way they’re used – are based on some aspect of reality.

This is the nature of overgeneralization. For example, a staple of Anti-Semitism is identifying a Jew as having a “giant nose”. Groups like the Nazis used this depiction (among other things) in their propaganda, which drove the Holocaust, an event too horrible for words. Yet, as a Jew myself, I’ve met many members of the tribe who exhibit the “giant nose” trait. It’s a plausible generalization, which makes it an easy target for stereotyping.

Just because a stereotype is sometimes true does not mean it’s the rule for all members of a group. Donald Trump followed up his ridiculous comments by attempting to soften them, saying “some, I assume, are good people.” At least he acknowledges exceptions to his insidious rules – but should something like this be considered an exception?

Chantal Akerman’s 2002 film “From the Other Side” talks to people on both sides of the Mexican/American border, people of all ages and sizes. While I felt the presentation of the 100-minute documentary was hard to get through, the power of the people interviewed on the Mexican side of the border was compelling.

Be it the elderly couple talking about their dead son or the young boy who failed at his attempt to cross the border alone in the growing security of a post-9/11 world; all the stories told shared a common thread, the struggle and loss of family in trying to find a better life through The American Dream. None of those whose stories were told are recognizable as the criminals or rapists Trump hoped to paint with his blanket statement.

That’s not to say there aren’t such criminals trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. With such a large basket, there are bound to be some bad eggs. This doesn’t mean we should judge the whole group like bad eggs are the norm, however. Every individual is different.

In Alfredo Corchado’s three part “Faces from the Border” series, published in the New Yorker in 2015 (Part 1 / 2 / 3 ), he shows that this mentality can apply not only to the immigrants, but to those guarding the border as well. Many who guard the border are children of Mexican immigrants themselves, yet they’re just as determined to deter illegal immigration. While there are some problem officers, as shown with the story of Margarita Crispin (a border guard who helped sneak drugs across the border), most are honorable people doing a difficult job to the best of their abilities. They all have their own stories just like the immigrants wanting to cross into the United States.

In a time of Globalization, where information is instantly available anywhere at any time, it can be difficult know what is truth or fiction. Entire groups of people can be summed up by statistics and figures on the World Wide Web, and anonymous people feel free to express their own thoughts and opinions without repercussion.  If we want to one-day move past stereotypes, anger and stigmatization, we need to remember that every individual has a unique life story, whether they’re anonymous or not. While lives may be similar in nature, it’s unfair to believe you know another solely due to things like their upbringing or skin color.


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