So in addition to all the things we did in Ashley’s Post, we also bought a dress-up outfit for Smacky for the Weddingish. It’s pretty snappy. I should get a matching suit. Better yet, I shouldn’t do that – that’d be stupid. And no, there are no pictures, we need to have SOME surprises, don’t we?
This is going to pain me: Final Fantasy VII was actually a good deal better than I remember. Years of venom and vitriol aimed at the game, and it might have been a bit overdone. After all, I’d currently rank it above 2, 3, and 6 (I still stand by that venom.) But it wasn’t half bad. Of course, it might be the fatigue talking – I did play the damn thing for 74 hours and 49 minutes. That’s more than a third of the time it took me to play the first 6 in the series. Oops. And that takes me to my breakdown.
- It is grossly ambitious. I don’t think I ever realized that before because my goal was always to complete the game, so I never did any of the bonus stuff (nor do I think I would have been capable of figuring it out – seriously, I would NEVER have figured out chocobo breeding without a walkthrough. Speaking of which:)
- I was able to do just about everything because of this kick-ass walkthrough. Absolute Steve is a man with too much time on his hands, but it was because of his detail that I was able to do everything. Including having THREE gold chocobos – I bet you didn’t even think it was possible.
- The best music in any FF game: the boss music (not the final boss, just the general boss music)
- The best weapon in any FF game: the nail bat. It’s just a bat with four nails in it. I hardly used it, but man is that thing cool looking.
- The choices you make when you have them actually affect storylines. It may be difficult and they’ll steer you certain ways, but it’s nice to know you CAN change the game, a little.
- Now I know why I used to lambaste this game: the story blows. It’s incomprehensible. Now, I admit I score terribly in critical reading (why most of my aptitude tests growing up scored lower than they should have), but I had NO clue what was going on, and I’ve beaten it before. I was trying to explain the ending to Ashley: “Well, that’s a spell that was somehow conjured to beat the meteor. Oh, that? That’s lifestream – when the planet is hurt, it produces… yeah, hurt, the meteor was summoned to damage the planet so it would produce Mako… well, to produce lifestream, which Mako sort of is, but there’s the Ancients, who are also for some reason the Cetra and… balls!” FFX makes more sense, and it has a guy magically and inexplicably being transported a thousand years into the future, and IV too, which had people ride a whale to the moon.
- It’s simple. Ignoring the fact that I was using a walkthrough and that I was able to beat the final Jenova in 1 turn without her inflicting any damage, it’s too simple. Again, that comes with the amibition of the project – between useful items, a bajillion types of materia, sidequests, and spells/summons, there are countless ways to level up and strengthen yourself. I did find myself dying, but it was more because I didn’t have the proper equipment when I fought certain dudes, or that I was trying different combinations of stuff to become more powerful.
- Cloud starts a disturbing trend of whiny emo lead characters that continues probably to this day (check on 8, 10, and to a lesser extent 12). It’s why I renamed him Emo, and very well may just use that as a blanket name for all leads).
- I remember thinking the graphics were awesome. I look at them now, and EVERYTHING is so blocky. Characters don’t even have hands, just large blocks.
- The game is borderline racist. I forgot how stereotypical Barrett (who I renamed The Brow) is.
- Seriously, what’s up with Cait Sith (who I renamed Bert, CPA)? I get that he’s robotically controlled, but since when do robots look like plush catrabbitblowfish dolls? And the allegiances are all so wonky in this game.
- The translations. Plenty of errors there.
- The ending. Well, it’s beautiful to look at, but totally anti-climactic. The world is saved, but what happens to ANYONE? I spent 3 full days with these characters, and I don’t ever get to see what happens next? FFIV was the best for that: wrapped things up AND gave a “where are they now” type of follow-up.
I think that’s it. I might take a slight break before 8. Ashley’s watched me play so much lately, she knows the characters (or at least what I called them: Mooncrabs [every time I've played 7, I've named Aeris Mooncrabs - it makes her death pretty funny], Mr Stymyd [Tifa], Bojangles [Red XII - did I steal that from you, Aaron?], El Pecan [Cid], Orbitta [Yuffie] and my favorite Fannykins [Vincent].
Happy Thanksgiving, all.
edit: Total time playing ~285 hours.
Mays, along with Augusts, have more profound effects on my life than any other month. Things seem to happen in May. Ash and I first made the independent decision to be monogamous in May ’07, and May ’09 is slated to be our weddingish. But May ’08 was probably the wildest.
The month started out with us having gotten a handle on our finances, and we had been making the decision to merge our finances. We had been considering hopping on the bandwagon and buying a house, as it seemed like all the cool kids were doing it. We were contemplating a new car. In fact, that came to fruition faster than either of us had planned. With Ash’s old truck on death’s door, we started doing a liesurely scan for cars. At maybe the third place we visited, Ash fell in love with a 2004 Jetta DSI. At this point, diesel was over $3.50 a gallon (it would get over $5 before the summer was out), but because it got 50 mpg, it was still a decent buy. Of course, I had been loan-free for only a few months, having paid off my student loans and my car. But whatever, we had some extra money, right?
Well, two days after signing that lease, Ash (who had missed her period by only a couple of days) went to the doctor and found she had some things that needed immediate look, but these were things that could cause a girl to miss her period. I wasn’t convinced – I had a nagging hunch. She bought a pregnancy test just to assuage me, and told me she would take it the morning. Five minutes later, she walks in saying “The pee stick says pregnant,” wondering how I knew. Father’s intuition, I suppose.
Well this threw out the window any plans we had been making. Literally any. The house, although it was brought up a few times over the next month, was kissed goodbye for now, and our dilemma about if we should stay in the 1 BR apartment was answered for us with a resounding no. And I, having never held a kid in my life, nearly crapped my pants. But after a day of numbness, I managed to muster some calm, and said “Okay. Let’s do it.” And there was no turning back.
Within a week of that, Ashley and I were replanning our entire lives. In there, she offhandedly asked me to marry her (in an effort to swipe my propsal) and that was that. April? Happily dating. May? Planning the rest of our lives together with our family. Hasty? Perhaps. But then again, I took less than 2 weeks to decide to move cross country for her. Methinks thinking merely confounds me.
There were a few small things that we managed to sneak away and do, including going to a meetup in San Francisco for OkCupid people (the site on which we met), marking the first “strangers” we met. They were all awed by our story, and we gave some hope. We also managed to get in an Austin Lounge Lizards show, which was perhaps highlighted by their always rousing version of “Buenos Dias Budweiser” and by Cyrus and his friend being the only minorities in the entire building (possibly the town).
Something tells me that, if the next month or two were a movie, it would probably be a montage.
Now we move into the part where it gets all weird. Reno seems to be an area that is notedly unchanging, with the exception of small glimmers of ethnic diversity creeping in and “traffic” (meaning there are enough cars on highways where you may not be able to set your cruise control.) But things started changing for me and Reno as a whole in April.
First, Mother Nature was giving the proverbial middle finger to me all month long. It started with the continuation of snow which, as you’ll recall, was supposedly a rarity in Reno. Well, on Tax Day, it was snowing quite hard with accumulation, adding to the leftover snow still on my backyard/mountain. True, at just over 8000′, the backyard’s bound to have some snow, but the lengths at which the snow stayed were absurd.
Then, realizing that a little snow wouldn’t really throw me for much of a loop, Mother Nature decided to hurl earthquakes at me. I don’t mean five or six, I mean 500 within one week. A good several dozen of these were at least 4.0s, and I felt a couple of them from ten miles away. While we didn’t have that “big one” that we were all expecting, it did mark the first time I had experienced an earthquake, never mind a thousand of them.
I was away for the first half of April, back east, where I developed my now-routine cold. It was also during this trip that I made a very important discovery about Airborne (and I’d later discover the same thing about generic-brand NyQuil): I’m allergic to it. Adding to my illness, my tongue felt like it had been cut by fifty razor blades. It made eating damn near impossible. Let’s just say it was good to get back to the west coast (where I would catch the West Coast cold a few days after recovery. But that 2 or 3 day health window is very important later.)
Finally, my life had sort of settled. I was content out in Reno, had a couple of friends, an improv troupe, and plenty of free time. So I decided I needed something to take up my time. I made the very silly goal of playing each of the Final Fantasy games in order, amidst ridicule from several friends, and jealousy from several more, maybe ones with kids who don’t have as much gaming time as they used to, and maybe ones that live in CT… I digress. With no gameplan for life to speak of, how could something go not according to plan?
Well, in that few day window of health after returning home, something went not according to plan, though we wouldn’t know for another few weeks….
So I was looking at my analytics – the main page gets anywhere from 5-20 hits a day. You could play Line Rider on the graph of my hits per day, it’s so consistent. However, I noticed on Nov. 14, I spiked up to nearly 80 visits for just that day, then back down again. Strange. So I dug around to find out where the referral was coming from.
Apparently someone I know on Reddit.com (or at least someone who referred to me as a friend – I didn’t recognize the name) linked my FAQ page (of all pages) and it lured a whole lot of people over there. What’s more, quite a few of them enjoyed it (posting so) and even browsed around for a while.
Had I known this a few days ago when I got an email from some DJ that he liked my stuff and would like to play it, I might not have responded so sardonically (assuming it was someone trying to sell me space on a CD that would clearly get my ‘foot in the industry door.’) Anyway, pretty cool.
Thanks je255j, whoever you may be.
p.s. Speaking of Analytics, go VIA THIS LINK over to Ash’s Baby Blog, where she posted a couple of photos from the shower.
This may even edge out the performance where another group did only Oingo Boingo tunes (though I don’t think anything beats hearing 50+ people playing “Insanity”)
My initial goal with these restrospectives was to be done right around the time I would have been here for a year. Oops. Anyway, what happened in March? Funny I should ask. March saw my second disc golf injury (the first being the pleurisy, which I still heartily recommend nobody ever get). Because of an especially hilly course in late February, both my big toes turned black from blood beneath the nail. It didn’t hurt, per se, but it certainly didn’t look right. It is currently November 13, and they are almost back to normal. *sigh*
In one of the strangest gifts I’ve received, a total stranger offered up a free Mountain Goats ticket, so I hustled over to San Francisco to see a band I love and still haven’t pinpointed why. The show was excellent – he puts so much heart and energy into a show, you can just see he loves doing it. Highlights were “No Children” (a rarer live feature than I would have expected), and “Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod”, a song (based on the reaction it garnered) he should play live much more often.
The snow finally melted off my back yard, though it wouldn’t melt off the mountain just south of my back yard for another 4 months.
Easily the most significant aspect of March was the wedding of Mitch and Marsha. Being the first male Sonderfan to get married, it had some significance. Ash and I headed out to North Carolina, met up with my father and stepmother, and one Scott Fourre, and we were able to give Mitch a pretty good bachelor party, limitations notwithstanding. He was able to see many friends that weren’t invited to the wedding, play some disc golf, and get nice and drunk. Aside from the naked ladies (which I was only told afterwards that we could have gotten), it was a good time.
The wedding itself was a thing of beauty – on an island, surrounded by quaint jungle, and in a house the size of Rhode Island, we were able to spend some time with the family (the first time we’d all been together since Tracy’s wedding, and the last time we’ll get together before our weddingish). The ceremony was short and sweet, and the reception was just sweeeeet. I got to do my second best man speech, and it accidentally triggered a cascade of speeches which will likely be a cornerstone of our weddingish.
I’ve never been to a baby shower – for the most part they seem to be women-only things, though that’s changing a bit. Either way, this was my first. And maybe it was because WE were getting all the gifts, but it was a pretty darn good time. You can head over to Ash’s blog for a few pix, but here are my impressions:
- When asked to cut a length of twine that is roughly the size of a pregnant woman’s belly, most people think she is the size of small personal watercraft.
- The Wade ladies and Erin can sure put together an event that is fun without ever getting too ‘girly’. The events ranged from drippingly sweet (the book full of advice) to intensely competitive (the memory game, won handily by Kim), to silly (the candy bar game), to awesome (some of the killer presents we received).
- I know my friends well. One of the games was to match a ‘personalized’ onesie to the person who sent it. Ash and I got all the ones my friends and family got, and only mixed up a few of her family/friends. While I hate to pick out favorites, because there were some GREAT ones, “Freud is my Homeboy” might be up there. Thanks Jaclyn! Hopefully we’ll grab photos of him in each onesie and grab a photo.
- Three notable thank yous for picking up some of the bigger ABOSLUTE necessities. Tracy and Jerry, Cyrus, and Jiffy. Thanks guys! You sock my rocks!
But seriously, thanks to everyone who had a hand in this. It’s nice to know the network of support we have is so strong. Smacky’s in good hands (espcially when we drop him off somewhere to be babysat.)
I have on my brand-new Old Man Pants, and I’m about to head off to the Baby Shower. WOO!!!!
Arrow Creek 2006 – I have this tendency when drinking certain reds to have absolutely no idea what they’re supposed to taste like. From my memory, Pinots tasted more like a merlot or a cab, something that doesn’t bitch-slap the tongue. So when I first drank this $6 bottle of wine (yes, you read that right, times are tough here in NV), I figured it was sharp because it was, after all, a cheap bottle of wine. Then I reread some of my past entries of Pinots, and they are a bit beefier than other reds. On a scale of beef, with 0 being a guy whose idea of working out is playing Madden on Xbox, and 100 being a guy who sleeps on a moving treadmill, this one is around 60. Not Zinfandel strong, but certainly enough to rattle your cage a bit. (I don’t compare this to other reds – Zins – to be snobby and pretend like I know everything, it’s actually so I remember for later that Zins can kick your tongue’s patoot.)
Anyway, now that I’ve completely discredited myself as a reviewer, onto the review. This was surprisingly good. I daresay, it was one of the best wines I’ve had for under $7. Truthfully, when you look at the competition, that isn’t saying much. But I did a little reviewing, and the Arrow Creek Pinot Noir has gotten great reviews across the board, one person even commenting how it’s better than some of the $20 or $30 bottles of Pinot Noir. I couldn’t agree more. Well, I probably could – it’s not like I wrote the person to tell them how accurate their statement was. This is a great wine for the price. Wine enthusiasts may swirl their wine glass at me snootily, but it’s true. It’s a darn fine cheap wine.
I ended up drinking it quicker than I had planned (I was planning on having some, not liking it much, writing a sardonic review, and then using the rest in my pasta sauce) but it was that good. It was certainly the best Pinot I’ve had (out of 3), but hey, I bet there’s at least two or three others out there to compare it to. Hopefully you can find this one for under $9, and I’d say grab it! Good alone or with food, but probably not with cereal. Can’t imagine that would be right. 7.5/10