Saturday, December 27, 2014

The yearly reflection: 2014-style!

While the end of 2014 isn't quite what I'd hoped for, the year itself has been quite a doozy! On a large scale, this year had a few themes, from police brutality to large-scale hack attacks. In my smaller realm, there was a little traveling, more investing, and a ton of gaming.

The summer weather report in Japan

TRAVEL: Spring Break 2014 was off the hook! I went to Italy and took a surprise venture to Munich, Germany.

 On the Japan side of things, I survived the summer without completely dying, thanks to my schedule of taking a shower at work before the day started. Classes have been excellent: ONLY teenage girl students, who are easily impressed and generally enjoy taking my lessons. I watched Death Note, a hugely popular anime,
Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人), and some of Bleach. I also took levels 2 and 3 of the
Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

During the summer, I traveled to the East Coast to see my friend Will, my mother and 4 cities! You could pretty much call that trip a scout mission because now I know I want to spend more time in NYC, DC, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

INVESTMENT: I got rocked by last overconfidence in 3D stocks. Last year, my initial investments almost doubled, and this year they...well...fell back to earth, and into Hell. Other investments, however, like GoPro, Apple and real estate have put me way ahead of the game, so it's all good. Also, this year my spending habits have become that much tighter, so I have that going for me.

BT...probably doesn't have any problem getting ladies.
The beginning of this video will make you jump, apologies ahead, but the track is sick. Korean singer Bada does the lyrics.

MUSIC: (trance DJ) BT's 2014 album Song Across Wires came out, and now I'm hot on Armin van Buren, another trance DJ. I also discovered Hall and Oates (30 years isn't too late, stop hatin'), which works perfectly for karaoke!

GAMES: For single-player experiences, Okami was probably the best quest I did this year. In terms of multiplayer madness, Mario Kart 8 with my dearest buddies in Seattle and in Japan; Titanfall, Destiny and Halo with my buddy Zack. One Destiny moment was joining a raid - a large mission with a team of 6 - with a bunch of teenagers and exchanging antics. Zack and I probably have 15 years on these kids...we still laughed at the same shit.

Lastly, this year has been very productive for my website, Grammar Pimps which is designed for ESL teachers in mind. It's been especially fun creating the site through Wordpress.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Final Fantasy X

Right to left: Kimahri, Rikku, Yuna, Auron, Tidus, Lulu and Wakka.

 Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster - PS3 is the first PS2 FF game, and leans towards futuristic fantasy (as opposed to medieval.) Here goes the story: So,  you start off as a star athlete whose futuristic city gets gobbled up by Sin. A mysterious warrior Auron who seems to be your link to past and present hops into the engulfing mass of Sin while saying this is your story.  You meet a summoner-in-training Yuna,  who's accompanied by Wakka - another athlete who lost his brother to Sin.  The catch is that you're either in a different universe or 1000 year in the future, so your hero is clueless. 

His dense character is strengthened by the idiotic parroting of easy-to-guess concepts that players can guess with almost no context. A summoner calls magic beings- aeons - to fight for her. Well if you know what the word 'summon'  means,  you can pretty much do without Tidus' "... a summoner?" after a character explains Yuna's rule. Standing in front of a yellow bird-horse that gets referred to as a chocobo and your lead still has the gall to ask what one is. Lulu: People marry for other reasons than love? Tidus: what does that mean? Me: it means you're 8 years old,  you jackass!

Maester Seymour summoning Anima
Anyway,  Wakka and Yuna both like you, so the plan is to take you to a larger city so you may see someone that knows you. The city gets attacked,  and thats when a badass maester comes in and summons his granddaddy aeon that zaps the shit out of the fiends that attack the city. Well,  after following this maester, we learn that he's going against the religion and pairing up with another ethnicity of humans that use machines,  which are strictly forbidden in the game's major religion. Sin attacks again,  and the technology proves no match.

Another thing summoners do is perform dances to send off souls of the dead so that they don't linger and become the enemies you fight for EXP,  GIL and items. The story makes a lot of allusions to death, now that I think u about it.

One thing that irks me is that Rikku,  an Al-Bhed girl, joins your party after trying to kidnap the summoner (though to her credit,  she saves your character near the beginning of the story). So,  Tidus had to prove himself and fight enemies to get on Yuna's good side, but this girl gets her ass beat for trying to kidnap the summoner,  and it's all good?

Anyhow, after this girl joins up with you,  you reach a city of Guado - another humanoid race with giant ass hands. The aforementioned badass maester is half human,  half Guado. He shows the party Zanarkand,  the city that Tidus came from. You also meet Yunalesca,  the summoner who defeated Sin ohh-so-many years ago. Her secret was love, which also gave the citizens something to be hopeful for. That explanation prompts the maester to want to put a ring on Yuna's finger. Maester Seymore mentions something about Auron smelling like the Farplane -  the place where dead go. Yuna decides that they need to go to the Farplane, Auron and Rikku stay behind.
Tidus has daddy issues, and thinking about his mother makes him realize his hate comes from Jecht stealing his mom's attention from Tidus. We learn this from the Farplane. Then, the party heads off to another temple for Yuna to tell Seymore she's gonna marry him. Dude jumps the gun and abducts Yuna, after she catches him being unfaithful to the religion.

Enter the Al Bhed -  Rikku's race and Yuna's father's race and it's revealed that these heathens who go against Yevon teachings and use technology over magic. Turns out they tried to protect Yuna from Seymore's goons, because her 6 awesome guardians aren't so awesome after all. Tidus gets a bomb dropped on him to learn that all summoners die at the end of their pilgrimage. The Al Bhed look like the voice of reason all of a sudden. Tidus throws a tantrum. By the way, this all takes place inside of Home,  the Al Bhed base that's in ruins. They set a bomb and escape on... the airship!
Head over to Bevelle to break up Yuna's wedding. She's also trying to send a dead-ass Seymore, but the captured guardians are used as a bargaining chip. She gets caught and put on trial and finds out that the higher ups in the church are unsent dead souls, too. Apparently, summoner sacrifice is all in vain. Well, I guess it gives people hope in the symbolism.

Tidus even asks the question why everything seems to be linked to death, and gives a shocked "Huh?" with Auron's reply about a spiral. Auron then provides totally unnecessary exposition on the link between Spira and spiral of death to the moron. If you can't connect the two by this point, you should go eat some ice cream and think about life.

With the final confrontation, Tidus tells his calm father that he hates him. Then, after rocking his boss form, Tidus is suddenly happy that Jecht is his father. After your aeons sacrifice themselves for you, Yuna performs the final Sending for both Auron and Tidus. The last scene between Tidus and Yuna is done well enough to be very touching.

At work and in your personal life, how many accounts do you have that require a login?

Dudes. Chicks. Calm that consumer rush. This is a hard one, cause I try harder than the average Joe to be frugal and not financially wast...