Tag: California

Stealing from Sports’ Traditions

Stealing from Sports’ Traditions

I may not be a very sport-y person, but if there’s anything I enjoy about sports it would be the team naming conventions.

Yeah I know that’s a strange thing to latch onto. But trust me, there’s a through-line to this conversation. Which, spoiler alert, is video game related.

Because hey if you wanted to see me spend an entire post talking about sports alone, you should have been around for this discussion I did a while back about watching the behind-the-scenes goings on at a baseball game.

As a home-grown Southern California kid I do have some interests in sports teams that come from some semblance of nostalgia. Namely the Dodgers when it comes to baseball and the Lakers when it comes to basketball. I’ve gone to see them many times over the years, so there are fond memories there even if I’m not as much of an avid follower of their games as I am Nintendo games.

However neither are striking examples of the kind of naming conventions I enjoy when it comes to sports teams. Like… What even does the name ‘Dodgers’ stand for? If anything, you wouldn’t want to be good at dodging a ball when you play baseball. Don’t you get to walk when you’re hit by the ball while at bat?

Come on Dodgers, get your act together.

Granted there is something interesting about them specifically. The fact that both the Dodgers and the Giants were originally East Coast teams before coming to California.

Inherently that brings up some questions about the permanence of a name if it can be so easily uprooted and moved around. Like yeah now we always associate the Dodgers with Los Angeles, but they weren’t always so closely linked with the culture here. That’s kind of fascinating, honestly.

Though according to official records by Major League Baseball themselves, the only reason those teams moved were simply to bring baseball to the West Coast. Which is a kind of underwhelming answer to an intriguing question.

But hey that’s a long tangent isn’t it? What I was going to get at was the fact that I enjoy seeing sports teams that are named after singular entities which could potentially duke it out.

The phenomenon tends to be more prevalent in high school and college sports, in my head. At my high school the main rivalry was the Sea Hawks versus the Mustangs. Though I did have some school spirit, for the most part I couldn’t care less which campus actually won. It was just kind of cool to imagine some kind of battle between a vicious hawk (which my biology teacher told us was actually based on a real life bird known for crushing bones) and a majestic hoofbeast.

I imagine the same thing could be said for many small-town sports rivalries. Certainly the idea of two forces of nature going at it is much more exciting than some other team names. Like the Patriots. Or the Redskins.

Much less racist too.

As I already mentioned, I’m not just bringing up this idea because I have a sudden passion to talk about sports. Or racism scandals. There was actually a spark that got me thinking about the subject of sports team names.

Unofficial Pokémon battle tournaments.

Yeah you heard me right. Bet you didn’t think anyone would be relating competitive Pokémon battling to actual real life sports in your daily blog posts today. Well I am, so you best be ready for it.

There’s actually a healthy amount of comparisons one can make between the two. When preparing for a Pokémon battle, trainers are restricted to six members, much like sports teams are limited to X number of team members on the field. Those six Pokémon fit different roles, be them wholly offensive, defensive or supportive. Or they could be some combination of the three.

It’s not hard to say that my hyper-offensive glass cannon Mega Beedrill in a battle is comparable to a football team’s leading quarterback, or that my heal-passing Audino is supportive much like a shortstop on a baseball team that quickly gets the ball from base-to-base for multiple outs.

I don’t know, I think it’s a pretty easy comparison to make. Maybe you disagree, but it’s all just an unapologetic segue anyway.

The reason I’ve come to think about this subject is because of the lengths I’ve seen certain Pokémon-playing YouTube personalities go to when establishing battle leagues that are steeped in the traditions of real life sports.

There are about a billion examples out there, but the one that’s most impactful to me is the United Championship League (UCL). There’s no real specific reason why other than the fact that most of the circle that competes in it are a close-knit group of Pokétubers that I tend to watch fairly often.

Which yes is possibly one of the nerdiest things I’ve said around here. But does it look like I care?

The UCL started about three years ago and carried an interesting aesthetic:

It comes to mind today specifically because the draft for Season 3 happened over this last weekend. Based on the video that was put up by TheKingNappy not too long ago, it took five hours just to get teams assigned to each competitor.

Yeah that’s right. This is a Pokémon battle competition with an extended team draft and a classic branching tree tournament board. On top of that, each team tends to do a pre-game discussion where they determine which members they’re bringing based on the opponent’s overall draft and how they’re building their teams up as a result.

It’s kind of crazy to thing that that’s almost exactly the same thing as a real sports league, but I adore one and can’t bring myself to seriously care about the other.

I think part of the reason I do care so much about the UCL — other than the fact that I’m a Pokémon junkie in general — is the fact that another real life sports trope they use so well is the naming convention.

Every team in that league names themselves the same way. City name (or some other location) followed by a Pokémon name that matches in some way.

Tucson Terrakions.

Pittsburgh Pichus.

So on and so forth.

Though of course it would be a terrible mistake for me not to mention my absolute favorite Pokémon sports league name:

The New York Mankeys.

Shout out to ShadyPenguinn for coming up with literal perfection. That’s the kind of name I wish I was clever enough to come up with on my own. Not only is it a solid team name, it’s a great reference to an actual real sports team too.

I just love it man. I basically wrote this whole post just so I could say New York Mankeys out loud. It’s just the kind of name that makes me giggle whenever I hear it. More of the world deserves to hear about it even if it couldn’t give a damn about Pokémon.

Now before you ask. Yes. I have had moments where I’ve tried to figure out what my Pokémon sports team name would be. Though I haven’t exactly come up with a good answer as of yet.

Incorporating my favorite Pokémon Gardevoir would be tough without stretching my location to Gardenia (though Gardenia Gardevoirs is a cool name).

I do like the sound of something like the Manhattan Beach Mimikyu, though again that requires relegating my location to somewhere I’m technically not, a city that’s my city’s rival if nothing else.

Unfortunately I’m just not sure which ‘R’ Pokémon I would use to go with Redondo. Ralts sounds a little not intimidating, though they fit the Gardevoir line love. Roserade also doesn’t seem right, despite being one of my favorites.

Also let’s be honest. As much as the Redondo Rayquaza sounds dope, I’m not sure I’d want to use a Legendary. It seems a bit cocky.

The Redondo Rhydon might work well. I have a pretty strong affection for him too, and Rhydon certainly sounds like the kind of Pokémon that could fit a sports team.

I guess if you want you can leave your suggestions in the comments below. Or you can say what teams you might be able to make using your home region. That’d be cool to hear!

In the meantime, I’ve got a five-hour livestream recap to catch up on. So I’m going to go off and do that.

In the meantime, I suppose I should come up with some kind of moral for today’s post.

Uhh…

If you’re a sports guy, don’t make fun of nerds that like Pokémon. Because we do wacky competitive things too.

And if you’re a Pokémon guy, don’t make fun of nerds that like sports. Because they built up a cool structure that we can do stuff with.

Let’s just all live together in harmony. Liking weird things that we all like without judgement.

Yeah, that’s a good lesson. Nailed the ending.

Lucky Number 300

Like yesterday, I didn’t exactly do a lot today that I would qualify as blog post worthy. However I don’t have as easy a crutch to lean on as the play I went to with my family last night.

So yeah I could spend the next couple hundred words or so talking about the almost 9,000 word transcript I did for a Boom conversation with Merry Ovnick of Southern California Quarterly. But I’m not sure a second-hand account of the discussions on regional architecture in California and Los Angeles specifically would be super interesting for anyone but me.

That probably doesn’t sound fair. It’s not an inherently boring interview or anything. In fact, it went over some interesting points, particularly about the effects of history and culture on architecture and vice versa.

I just don’t think I can do it any justice without coming across about as blandly as possible. So I’m just going to leave that to the experts and encourage you all to go read the piece as soon as it’s officially published.

With that mindset in place, I figured this was going to be a short “don’t have much to talk about” kind of post.

But then I started to set it up. When I did I realized this is actually a milestone of sorts.

My blog post yesterday was the 299’s I’ve published here. That means you’re currently reading lucky number 300 — as my headline so aptly remarks.

So yeah. Happy tri-centennial… Erm… I’m not sure what the right term would be… Post-iversary… Thing.

I guess it’s not even so much an anniversary since it isn’t time-specific as much as it is content-specific. I’ll try to come up with something better if I do one of these for the next milestone. Probably 500, or whatever it may be.

While I wish I had something more substantial to say, I suppose it’ll have to do for me to just reflect on my summer project now that we’re at about the halfway point.

I’ve honestly been surprised to see that posting something every single day, rather than putting out a post every other week or so, actually has a substantial effect on how many eyes the words get to. At least twice this summer I’ve broken my record on blog post views and likes (though both are just barely into the double digits so I can’t proclaim it’s that much) and I’ve more than tripled my following.

Even if that’s, again, a less than substantive nine or so followers up to the low thirties, it’s still pretty awesome. I’m sure it sounds cliché when I say it, but I really do appreciate all of you out there that think I’m worth taking a look at for what mostly amounts to random bouts of rambling.

That also extends beyond my direct WordPress followers into the realm of social media. Though that also comes in spurts, I like to know whenever people take a look at the stuff I’m putting out here.

Even if it’s just that Takumi that always retweets my Fire Emblem Heroes posts. I’m 99 percent sure that’s a bot account in terms of retweeting my stuff, but I’m also 99 percent sure he’s the only one who actually takes any sort of interest in those.

So shout out to you Twitter Takumi.

Just based on what I’ve seen come out of this so far, I think I’m probably going to continue writing a blog post a day even after the summer ends. That might be tougher once school starts, but if nothing else I’ll probably just be able to talk about what I learned in class on a given day or something along those lines. So who knows, I’m sure it’ll work out in one way or another.

That’s honestly all I’ve got to say on the matter, but I’m well over 500 words writing about nothing at this point, so I think that should be more than enough. Especially if I want to get something out before midnight.

Again, thanks for all the support, and here’s to many more posts from here on out! Perhaps if I actually keep up this daily business, soon it’ll be child’s play when I hit a number like 300.

That’s the dream anyway.

Tutorials Abound in Version 2.7.0

Tutorials Abound in Version 2.7.0

Another update has made its way to Fire Emblem Heroes. This one is relatively small and more focused on assisting players who are new to the game, but veteran players are able to reap some rewards too.

Thus I’m going to talk about this one all the same! Just don’t expect it to be a particularly long update. I’m still hot, tired and waiting in anticipation for the new summer units to drop.

Speaking of, get ready for that update tomorrow too. Should be fun!


Tactics Drills & Learning with Sharena

The major addition for Version 2.7.0 is Tactics Drills. In a sense these are advanced tutorials for players that go far deeper into the game’s mechanics than the cursory tutorial missions at the start of the story mode when you start the game up for the first time.

As you can see, they come in three tiers of difficulty. Each serves a slightly different purpose, but all offer the same bonuses for new and old players alike. Every five maps give players 300 Hero Feathers when they’re passed, and the sixth map will offer an orb for completion.

The small amounts don’t really build up to a lot in the end, but rewards are rewards and I can’t complain. Especially since supposedly there will be more added into the different tiers as time goes on.

So what do the tiers offer?

The “basics” tab offers challenges that showcase… Well… The basics of the game. There’s really no better way to put it.

These basics range from how different unit types move across the field to showcasing the benefits of certain strategies like baiting out enemies or teaching players how different weapons work.

They’re all pretty simple honestly, and the rewards are more worthwhile than the instruction in my personal attempts.

The “Skill Studies” tab… Again, just about does what the name implies.

Each map showcases a different skill archetype that exists in the game. Hone skills that improve stats, more attack-focused skills like Wraith, so on and so forth. If you don’t understand how certain strategies work, this will likely help you out. There are even a few toward the end that I haven’t been able to beat yet, as I find they’re a little more difficult.

The “Grandmaster” tab moves furthest away from being purely tutorial-based. Rather than teaching basic skills knowledge, Grandmaster challenges are simply that. Challenges.

The game throws you into a map with a pre-determined unit set and just has you go at it. I haven’t personally attempted these maps yet, though considering you need to have access to Book II of the story in order to even open these maps up, they’re clearly more difficult than the average challenge.

I only wish this meant they had better rewards too. But no, it’s still rather basic all things considered.

What’s interesting about all of these missions are that they’re purely for instruction and require no baseline units. The only real requirement to anything is the level cap for accessing Grandmaster tactics.

Every unit is provided based on the challenge. That means not only is everyone more open to the rewards, but newer players can see which units have great skills to utilize should they be lucky enough to summon them.

It’s a respectable idea all-and-all. I appreciate it.

You may have also noticed a fourth tab allowing people to “Learn with Sharena.” If any of you were wondering what that was:

It’s essentially a website with more in-depth tutorials on anything and everything in the game. Pretty much the same stuff you’ll get out of the Tactics Drills but spelled out in further detail.

They also include silly back-and-forth conversations between Sharena and Anna.

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Again, I think it’s a respectable addition to help improve the game’s accessibility for new players.

I’m just not personally very driven to go look at them without the allure of extra rewards. Sorry Intelligent Systems.


Weapon Refinery Update

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Ah yes, another four units have come up to the wringer. Has Intelligent Systems done their job in making these characters more useful than they were before?

For the most part… Not so much. From what I understand, anyway.

Katarina (known as the first scarf bae in my friend circle) essentially gained a refine to her tome that adds a Speed and Resistance Ploy skill on top of its owl effect. However, as Jonathan (owner of the bae) pointed out, her weapon’s might sticks at 14 rather than building up to 16 as we usually see. So… Yeah, that’s a thing.

Eldigan wasn’t given a straight upgrade so much as he was given an alternate path to success. His Mystletainn was already able to refine itself and have a built-in Fury skill, giving him a big boost across all stats at the cost of some health. The fact that he was able to have double the Fury was actually a great meme for a while there.

Now he can take on his son’s previously exclusive variant known as the Dark Mystletainn, which inherent accelerates Special Attack cooldown by one, then accelerates cooldown by two each time that attack triggers during combat. Honestly both are viable options, so it’s up to personal preference.

Titania probably got the worst of the upgrades in this batch. Her brand new Draconic Poleax keeps a Triangle Adept skill in-tact from her Emerald Axe, but has a much more beefy 16 might. When players refine the weapon, it apparently grants +6 resistance to units within two spaces.

I don’t use Titania, but honestly this upgrade doesn’t make me any more willing to do so. Sorry girl, better luck next time.

Conversely, Nephenee‘s upgrade from the Slaying Lance to the Dauntless Lance is a vast improvement and I couldn’t be happier. She has been a mainstay on my Water Blessing team for a long time, so I’m glad to have even more reasons to use her.

On top of cranking her might from 14 to 16 (leaving the base lance as powerful as her old one with a refinement), she also gains an inherent advantage against armored units. Zelgius and Black Knight be damned.

However, add onto that an additional refinement to the Dauntless Lance that gives her +4 Speed and Defense when she’s attacked and Nephenee becomes quite the monster in her own right.

It’s a little silly to say that she moved from being my chief lance infantry unit to being my chief lance infantry unit with even more regard. But hey, that’s what should be expected when you improve upon greatness.


Quest Progression

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I don’t exactly have a lot to say about this new feature in particular. In fact, I don’t fully understand why this standalone update was important enough to distinguish alongside new unit skills and the new game mode.

But someone decided it was important, so I’ll give it the time it demands.

Apparently when players complete quests, there will be a separate screen dedicated to showing off all of a player’s finished quests rather than having everything separated onto different pages.

I’m not sure who thought this was a significant problem that needed to be addressed, but I hope they’re happy with it. It seems a little superfluous when there was already an option to simply accept all of one’s finished quests… But oh well.


Additional Updates

As usual, there are a number of smaller things listed at the bottom of the 2.7.0 update page. They usually aren’t big enough to give a lot of time to, but I like to spread the word all the same:

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Things like new maps scrolling to the top are cool quality of life updates that always come with new versions of the game. They just don’t offer too much to talk about.

However, there are a few especially nice things in the ‘other improvements’ section this time around. Being able to set any music one wants underneath battles is something straight out of classic Fire Emblem games and is a greatly appreciated option in a title that features songs from every game in the series. Event text recaps are also a great addition for someone like me, who seriously enjoys little things like plot in silly games like this.

The most useful overall is the ability to restart ‘difficult’ maps without having to exit and reenter the battle over-and-over again. As someone who tries things like Grand Hero Battles repeatedly to earn all the orbs I can, I can assure you all that this is highly beneficial — even if you haven’t personally gotten to a point where it’s useful just yet.


Like I mentioned up top, none of the updates specifically included in Version 2.7.0 are groundbreaking. The tutorial missions that make up Tactics Drills are nice, though mostly for the rewards given how long I’ve been involved in the game. Nephenee getting stronger is also a plus, and I’m really glad I can restart missions that don’t require stamina at a faster pace.

If nothing else, even smaller moves forward like this show there’s always room for improvement in a constantly developing game like Fire Emblem Heroes.

That said, what sort of updates might you want to see come to the game in the future? Let me know in the comments down below!

In the meantime, I’ll see you all tomorrow when Sketchy Summer units arrive.

Fort MacArthur heats up in 2018

Fort MacArthur heats up in 2018

If the heat yesterday wasn’t bad enough for you, how about this?

California heat wave. Open field war reenactments. Heavy wool historically accurate Civil War uniforms.

Fun, fun, fun.

Luckily I wasn’t one of the poor saps that had to stand around outside for hours in a heavy outfit. Instead I just got to go around and explore, migrating from shady spot to shady spot learning all about cool historical things.

That’s right, it’s Old Fort MacArthur Days time once again! If you missed out on the post I did last year showing off a slideshow of pictures I took, you can check it out here.

But for those of you who fit into the center of the Venn diagram between ‘not initiated’ and ‘too lazy to click the link,’ Old Fort MacArthur Days is a yearly event at the closed military base on the cliffs of San Pedro, California. People of all creeds gather in historical gear and bring a treasure trove of knowledge about whatever era of history they aim to represent.

It’s a really sweet two-day event that my family has been going to for probably five+ years now. Not only is it a good time wandering the grounds of the old base learning historical fun facts, but there are vendors and war reenactments that offer plenty of reasons to come back.

I’ve made it something of a tradition of mine to introduce new people to Old Fort MacArthur Days every year, as I think it definitely deserves the traffic and makes for a fun day of hanging out.

Even if these last two years have been face-meltingly hot. But that’s another story.

While I brought my friend Sam last year, this year Juan got to join in on the fun with me and Aly:

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Road Trip, baybee

Shout out to that boy for always being down to go on random adventures.

Also shout out to this great picture we took as a means of making Sam regret her decision to not come along again because of the heat.

We actually listened to a couple of really interesting figures today.

There was a Union commander for the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment that told us all about the very first attempt at using a submarine during the Civil War which failed spectacularly because of the unforeseen consequences of concussing every member aboard the vessel when an explosive went off too early.

Then we spent a good amount of time listening to the Barber Surgeon in the English Civil War region that told us infinite details about various surgical devices and how English superstition led to the creation of myths like the Tooth Fairy.

But of course we also can’t forget the Saloon owner in what I will affectionately call West World who handed out both lemonade and detailed descriptions of tabletop games kids would play in the 1800s.

While the discussions were all wonderful as ever, just as wonderful were the reenactments.

This year we only got to two of them before the heat knocked us out of our desire to stick around. We saw a World War II battle in which the American soldiers used an actual for real tank (which was awesome) to take a bill from German soldiers, and we saw the West World gun show where a man swindled some other cowboys from their money before being killed by his wife for using their daughter in the scheme.

I’m sure it’s great for you all to hear me just talk about the stuff we saw, but I figure I should do you one better and show off this neat slideshow of pictures with mediocre bits of commentary where I can fit it.

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Pretty cool stuff, right? It was totally worth probably getting a sunburn even through two coats of sunscreen to nab some of these.

Especially the cowboy gunshot I used as the attractive featured image. I love that sucker a whole bunch.

However, this year you should all be glad to know that I’ve stepped it up a notch.

Last year I took some videos that I considered putting in my blog post, but couldn’t quite figure out how to insert them here without blowing my storage out of control or having it take three days to upload.

Since then I have become a smarter man and now know how to use my gmail-associated YouTube account to my advantage.

So enjoy this video of the WW2-era tank in action:

And this video of a cowboy decimating a water bottle with a shotgun:

Plus, here’s a bonus video of another cowboy failing to fire his gun and getting ragged on by all the other cowboys:

I think my favorite part of that one is hearing Juan lose it next to me at the physician comment.

That’s about all I have to share from my trip to San Pedro this year. While I hope my pictures are a cool window into this little world that many of you probably haven’t seen, I really have to encourage everyone to check out this event at least once if they’re in the area at the right time!

It’s an awesome historical adventure that’s well worth the heat stroke. Something I’m sure I’ll say after I forget about how much I die in the heat and do it to myself again next year.

A Warm, Lazy Night

After spending most of the afternoon melting into a puddle of goo on the couch, struggling to come up with something to write about in the heat-laden haze post-Gladeo meeting, I think I’ve finally just decided to give up for the night.

I really have nothing to talk about right now, and my brain is too mushy from the 100+ degree temperatures here in California today to feel my obligatory post is worth stressing over tonight.

So how about this. I’ll just use this post as a ‘things to come’ set-up of sorts.

People like that right?

With my work meeting this morning came the confirmation that both of the Career Spotlights and the Career Profile I’ve been working on are going through the editing process, so they should be published online any day now. As they come around I’ll be sure to talk about them in more detail.

However, if it’s anytime in the near, near future (though that’s somewhat doubtful from where they are in the process), I might hold off talking about them for a day or two. I have a pretty succinct idea for what my posts will hold for a period of time.

Tomorrow I’m going to go to Old Fort MacArthur Days with Aly and a few of my friends. I’ll probably throw out a post with a slideshow of cool things we see like I did last year – but this time I’ll know how to include videos, too.

Sunday I’m going to see Ant Man and the Wasp with my family. I’ll do one of my mini reviews on that after I see it.

There’s also an update to Fire Emblem Heroes coming on the eighth, but I haven’t quite decided whether I want to post two things on a day or whether I should hold off the mobile game update for Monday to take up some extra space. Supposedly there might be another new banner on the 10th as well, but I don’t have personal confirmation for that.

Though speaking of extra space filler, I also have a couple posts in my drafts folder. One is a slightly more extended discussion on Funko Pops I’ve been cooking up, as I have a personal issue with something regarding their business practices.

There might also be a couple Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links deck profiles I can throw together on some decks I’ve been having fun with lately. Especially one featuring Shining Flare Wingman, who I discussed my love for a bit ago.

Beyond that I’m also interested in doing a couple of ‘nostalgic’ sort of posts examining things I haven’t looked at in a long time.

Also also, I’ve begun to put some work into my Honors Project proposal, and especially with the help of my friends I’ll likely have something to chat about in regards to that once I have more succinct views about what my novel-in-progress will include.

Otherwise… Yeah. That’s about all I have to discuss in terms of forward-thinking blog post ideas.

Right now I’m just kind of sitting here in the lukewarm heat of the nightfall, wallowing in a food coma following a nice meal with my parents at one of my favorite restaurants and catching up on some T.V. shows.

Oh, speaking of, I suppose I also might expect a post talking about Luke Cage season 2 at some point in the near future. Because if we finish that show anytime soon I’m definitely willing to talk about it.

Otherwise let me know if there’s anything you might be interested in seeing around here! I’m pretty open to ideas if there are any going around you might want to see me discuss.

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!

The Big Band Banquet, 2018

The Big Band Banquet, 2018

For the second year in a row I have made the pilgrimage out to the Double Tree hotel in Torrance for the end-of-year Redondo Union High School band banquet.

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As Dad aptly put it, the event marks the end of our family’s sixth year of high school. Two for Aly after I finished my four. The whole band portion is obviously newer to me personally, but we’ve spent more than enough time discussing the fact that my sister is a great musician (whose performances you can see in my blog posts here and here).

One thing that stood out about this year compared to last year is the fact that my friend Tiana was not in attendance. Her brother graduated from RUHS last year, so she had no reason to go back.

As silly as it sounds, I actually missed seeing her for what had become a regular game of phone picture tag at most of the high school band events.

But oh well, I suppose that’s life. Just made things a bit more boring than before.

Even if she wasn’t there, however, the room was certainly packed:

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RUHS has a huge band program, but it wasn’t just the band kids and parents, the school’s dance guard was also represented at the event.

Essentially the banquet was a celebration of a year’s worth of hard work. Graduating seniors were given a sendoff, the booster club that fundraises for the program passed the torch off to next year’s leaders and awards were given out.

Unfortunately, the microphone didn’t work. All night. So because I was in the back of the room, I couldn’t hear anything that was happening in any detail.

So instead of doing that, I figure I’ll make this post something a bit different.

I’m going to review the banquet food. Consider it a tribute to the great Anthony Bourdain on the day of his passing.

Let’s do my man proud.

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Course One — Salad

First impressions are important. Often one can judge how a meal is going to be based on the salad course.

At least, that’s what my brain is making up as something that sounds intelligent.

This salad course was decent, I’d say. It was mostly just leafy greens with shredded carrots, a single cherry tomato and a single slice of cucumber. While I ate the whole meal happily, some of the greens left a rather bitter aftertaste that made everything feel a little less great than it began.

The rolls that were also laid out alongside the salad tasted quite good. They were perhaps a little dry and grainy, but with just a bit of butter it made up for that small flaw.

Really the worst aspect of this part of the meal, I’d say, was the lemonade. Maybe I’m too accustomed to a sweet, sugary lemonade, but this one tasted somewhat blandly sour. I quickly replaced it with water as soon as I could finish the glass.

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Course Two — Chicken

For a fancy dinner banquet that fed probably close to 500+ people, the dinner course was better than I might have expected. For the most part.

The chicken was good, though it did have dry patches and a few bones that messed with the experience. What helped it shine was the sauce, which tasted something like teriyaki to me.

That was not only delicious with the chicken, but mixed in with the vegetables and mashed potatoes too.

On those two subjects, the vegetables were hit-or-miss. Broccoli, cauliflower and carrots were all tasty. All the squash wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m not a huge fan of squash in the first place so perhaps that bias colored my opinion coming in.

The mashed potatoes, however, were easily the star of the entire meal. They were fluffy and honestly delicious, especially when run through the sauce like I mentioned. I could’ve eaten a few plates of the stuff by itself, and my Dad readily agreed on the ride home.

Double Tree, your mashed potatoes won my heart. 10/10.

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Course Three — Ice Cream

It’s hard to go wrong with dessert. Especially when that dessert is vanilla bean ice cream with a little whipped cream, some chocolate sauce and a vanilla wafer cookie.

It was about as good as it sounds really, I don’t have a hell of a lot to say about it.

Perhaps my only complaint with this latter portion of the meal was the fact that the ice cream tasted a little grainy at times, perhaps too heavily stuffed with the ground vanilla bean.

To be completely honest, the ice cream almost took a back seat to the secondary dessert that was laid out at each table — not as a part of the hotel’s meal plan:

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Some genius in the band program decided to put out chocolate and taffy at each table.

While most of my personal consumption came after the official dessert course, I happily gnawed on chocolate coins, Hershey’s Kisses and licorice-flavored sea salt taffy throughout the night.

Thank you whoever made that decision.

With that food review out-of-the-way, I’ll be sure to make this post a part of my resume whenever I wind up at some Lifestyle magazine somewhere.

Because I couldn’t really hear much of what happened, like I said, I suppose that’s also all I have to say about the banquet. The night ended on a high note, with the speaker for the music that was going to play not working.

Up until it did work and blasted music from right above our table specifically out of nowhere, scaring everyone. That was about the point where Dad and I decided to skip out early, as Aly stuck back to dance with her friends.

In the end I suppose that’s what it’s all about. Aly got to have a great time with her friends. She is pretty much the social one, after all.

I do appreciate that she wanted me to come along though, if I can be real for a second. It may not have been the most fun event in the world for me, but I was still glad to come along and support her.


P.S. — I also wanted to say that I remembered the fact that last year at this time exactly I was still playing Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Even more specifically, I remember playing the mission where Alm’s army was approaching Nuibaba’s Mansion under the table at Aly’s freshman banquet.

I say that, again, because I know Aly hates it when I bring up video game stuff in the middle of posts about her music stuff.

You’re welcome, gurl.

Take your Child to Work Day

Take your Child to Work Day

Okay so it’s not actually Take your Child to Work Day…  As far as I’m aware… But for my dad it was.

Since I’m off on summer break, he decided to take me along to the office today so I could get a change of scenery and tour the office — something that my sister has been able to do, but I haven’t considering I’m off in Fullerton 99 percent of the time right now.

Obviously I can’t bury the lede too deep considering the big reveal is spoiled in the featured image.

If it even is a spoiler? I’ve probably talked about this before.

My dad is a Senior Director at Fandango, the movie ticket and streaming media site owned by NBC Universal. It’s a pretty perfect place for him in the way it blends movie stuff and technology stuff.

But to be fair, it’s also a pretty awesome place in general.

Just in the last week he got moved into a different office, so I got to be an early observer.

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Fun fact, apparently the desks are all mechanized to allow people to adjust them into standing desks if desired. That’s neat, in my opinion.

Not just my dad’s office is cool, though. This place is chock full of movie posters, memorabilia and all sorts of other neat modern spaces.

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The more casual parts of the office extend to the outdoors as well.

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But of course there were other benefits to coming in on a Tuesday than just a nice couple of spaces to work in.

Fandango apparently does catering for its employees a couple days a week, and someone had enough foresight to bring me in on one of them. On the menu was a pretty good Mediterranean spread:

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We had lunch with one of dad’s co-workers from the NBC side, which actually was one of the nice things of coming to work with him. Getting to watch him in his element, talking with friends and colleagues.

Even if I felt like I was kind of just off to the side doing my own thing, possibly even in the way during such exchanges, it was still a good time.

Oh, but let’s not forget. The other cool perks of the job.

We were able to watch The Last Jedi on the big, fancy curved TV that was apparently a Korean prototype left over from the previous inhabitant of the office.

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That was pretty sweet. Especially when some of his co-workers came in and sat around for a while to shoot the shit about movie stuff.

While I make it sounds like the whole day was just fun-and-games, there was plenty of downtime for me where I sat around doing some work as dad went off for meetings. Plus, many of the visitors to his office were there for official work business before getting distracted by fun movie stuff.

So if anyone else from Fandango winds up reading this, don’t take it as me saying my dad just did nothing all day. I assure you that isn’t so.

However, it still was a fun day overall. A full day with my dad, going all the way back to our early morning stop at the voting booth for the California primary election today.

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Gotta do your civic duty, folks. Especially since this midterm for us means a Gubernatorial and Congressional seats race alongside a whole bunch else.

But hey, this isn’t a political post or anything. So I won’t dwell on that for too long.

It all just plays into the overall message, that I went out, had a fun day with my dad and got to see him in his natural element. Plus I got some work done in the process, so I can’t say I have too many complaints.

Music by Moonlight

Music by Moonlight

Probably a shorter one for you all today. I’ve been out quite literally all afternoon at this event and don’t necessarily feel awake enough to spend all night writing.

That said, I suppose I can’t complain too much about being tired since I had a great time at Jazz under the Stars today.

Jazz under the Stars is an annual end-of-year concert that’s put on by the Redondo Union High School jazz bands/music program. Given my little sister’s involvement with the musical performing arts in high school, it has become a yearly tradition for my family to attend.

In fact, I still remember last year quite fondly. During the night’s performances, I finally managed to unlock the cards I needed in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links to be able to play the at-the-time overpowered Gravekeeper’s deck.

That deck was really fun while it lasted in the meta.

My aside here, by the way, only exists because Aly told me she was annoyed that my last post about her music stuff was interrupted by my talking about video games.

So there you go Aly. Have fun with that side story.

But that’s enough being petty. I do actually have some nice things to say about tonight’s musical event.

The show altogether was about five hours of different performances out in the front lawn of the RUHS auditorium.

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A bunch of different bands and combinations performed, including the two primary jazz band classes at the high school (Jazz A and Jazz B, as convenient naming schemes have it), quintets of freshman in the program and of like-minded brass musicians, as well as some performances by the student band from Adams Middle School – which also happens to be an alma mater of mine.

One performance also featured some RUHS music program alumni coming out to play, and a few songs were done alongside the band director’s own high school band director/mentor.

I took the liberty of recording a couple of the pieces at the show, in part because Mom asked me to and in part because it offered me the chance to continue guinea pigging this whole uploading videos schtick.

Here’s one of the songs done by the Adams Middle School band:

And here’s my sister performing as a part of Jazz A (the advanced band, #humblebrag):

No idea how these people can keep performing for eight minutes at a shot. Musicians are some special kind of talented, man.

I do wish I had recorded the brass quintet as well, since they did a cute maneuver where most of the members started off hidden amongst the audience and walked up to the stage… But oh well.

Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

Alongside all those performances was another display of talent by the school’s swing dance club. It’s apparently a frequently popular activity amongst band kids at RUHS, and my sister is also a part of that:

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She’s the one with the red hair if you hadn’t caught on just yet.

The night of music sitting out on a lovey Southern Californian plaza would be nice enough as is, but there were other parts of the event that I enjoyed.

Because Jazz under the Stars is the last major concert of the school year, the band director took an opportunity to salute a number of graduating seniors. It’s honestly kind of touching just how intimately he seems to know each and every kid with such a large collection year after year.

On top of that, the event was also full of little torch-passing moments. The middle school performance was one, as it was the opportunity to see some kids coming into high school.

I also caught this moment:

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Where Magic Moreno helped teach some kids how to work the sound board for the event.

However, arguably one of the best parts of the event was the food.

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See this tri tip sandwich? Yeah. Not sure I even have to say all that much more.

A guy named Kevin Pierre caters most of the band program concerts at RUHS and makes a hell of a steak sandwich. It’s always a highlight.

On top of that, there was also a gelato stand, a jarred pickle stand and a nut stand manned by an RUHS student who started his own business.

Pretty cool stuff.

That’s about all I’ve got to say about Jazz for today. Stay tuned for what will probably be a post talking about the end-of-year band banquet next week, but until then please go back and enjoy the Jazz Band A performance again.

Seriously still impressed me how long those guys can play.

Memorial Day in Redondo Beach

Memorial Day in Redondo Beach

I don’t believe I’ve ever felt the need to describe myself as having been “emotionally patriotic” before, but that’s frankly the best way I can bring to words part of how I felt during the Memorial Day ceremony I attended today.

The City of Redondo Beach put on the event at Veterans Park this afternoon, which for context is a nice sized park with a memorial statue right next to the Redondo Pier.

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It was all-and-all a lovely event with a rather nice turnout, including political figures like State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi and Congressional representative Ted Lieu, as well as both veterans and currently serving members of the country’s five military branches.

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My view from the back row at the Memorial Day ceremony.

Part of the reason I came out to the event, besides showing my respect for our country’s fallen, was because my alma mater’s band was performing — including my sister.

They did a great job not just during stand-alone performances like the one above, but punctuating the entire event with pieces of ambiance. For example, the band’s Trumpet Trio took the place of a bugle to play out recognizable military salutes and calls.

However, the National Anthem was what really got to me in an unexpectedly intense way.

Part of that was because it was a very sweet, slow and drawn out rendition being performed, and the high school kids really nailed the emotional delivery.

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The RUHS Wind Ensemble preparing to perform.

But it wasn’t just on them.

When the song started, it was just the band playing against the nearby crashing of the waves and seagull cries. Then, a couple members of the audience began to sing under their breaths, barely loud enough to be heard. It was mostly older folks who I would later see stand during the performance I linked above.

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A more full-scale shot of the audience at the event.

Those few singing members of the audience eventually blossomed into a fervent performance from just about everyone in attendance. It slowly built up throughout the song and left everything to wrap with a unified call for the “home of the brave.”

Totally unprompted. Totally unplanned.

Completely beautiful.

Like I said right at the top of this, I don’t often get very outwardly emotional with heavily patriotic things related to, say, military service. That isn’t to say I’m not emotional of course, it’s just typically a more silent, introverted and somber emotion.

But I actually cried a little at that moment during the ceremony where the audience unexpectedly joined in on the National Anthem.

Because of that and other parts of the event, like the keynote speech by U.S. Coast Guard Captain Jose Penã and the presentation in honor of Vincent Barbee, a local  RUHS student that died not too long ago, I found myself walking out feeling much more deeply moved than I had expected to.

Though the Master of Ceremonies punctuated the beginning and end of the event with jokes about Stormy Daniels and a George Washington impersonator in the audience, so there was also a good amount of chill Southern Californianism to break up the emotional introspection.



As a quick aside, the video I posted in this piece is actually something I took on my iPhone at the ceremony.

Decided to try something new with this blog post since I wanted to upload my sister’s performance directly here, but haven’t exactly been able to in the past because uploading video directly to WordPress is awkward with how much space it takes up. So I tried posting the thing to my unused YouTube account, that way I could link to it.

Hopefully it works as an experiment, because if so that’ll open up the possibility of my doing more video-oriented content in the future.

Just excuse the shaky-cam quality!