Sunday, January 26, 2014

VGC14: New Format, Old Tricks

Last weekend was a long one...but a good one! So Saturday wasn't the best, missing Legacy of the Valiant Sneak Peek. But, at least Sunday turned out to be great for my Pokemon VGC prospects! Like the previous years I've gone, I participated in the Southern California regional in Long Beach, this year being in the Winter regional. Unlike the Fall regional back in October, which used Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 due to the release of the newest games being a few days prior, the Winter regional required the use of Pokemon X and Y; this meant new format, new rules, and new challenges. What would be my choices this year?

To make matters worse, Pokemon Bank, the app in which you could store Pokemon to the cloud and bring over older Pokemon from the past gens over to X and Y was delayed due to server overload (I curse you Nintendo 3DS owners for not having a Wii U and getting a Nintendo Network ID. :P). Oh, and of course, little brother decides to tag along and spends his time playing Yugioh and dumps me the job of making his team (a thousand lunches from him for life for this), so of course between my testing of the team, over analytical thoughts on the team, and days of flipping out over my choices, those new problems made it seem like I wouldn't have time to make the team on my game. But...I somehow managed to get it, staying up until well past midnight on Saturday to put the final touches on the team (and watching my anime on Toonami). Therefore, behold the team itself!

Meowstic (M) @ Leftovers
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
Calm Nature
- Safeguard
- Swagger
- Psychic
- Charm

Talonflame (M) @ Life Orb
Ability: Gale Wings
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Flare Blitz
- Brave Bird
- Protect
- Tailwind

Salamence (M) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 4 Atk / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Rash Nature
- Draco Meteor
- Rock Slide
- Dragon Pulse
- Flamethrower

Mawile (F) @ Mawilite
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Sucker Punch
- Iron Head
- Play Rough
- Protect

Rotom-Wash @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 132 SpA / 124 SpD
Modest Nature
- Hydro Pump
- Thunderbolt
- Will-O-Wisp
- Protect

Garchomp (M) @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Rough Skin
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Dragon Claw
- Earthquake
- Protect
- Rock Slide

Kind of a standard fare here, didn't really consider the EV spreads much. This was, after all, a new format and therefore, there wasn't much to consider in regards in threats. Keep in mind that all the troubles I have in making a team (yes, I'm a horrible team builder). Still...physical attackers seemed to be the norm this year; a good amount of the popular spread moves are physical such as Rock Slide and Earthquake. Garchomp is my favorite and for the third year in a row, made it. Rotom-W is its favorite partner and happens to be quite bulky, so that was chosen. Mawile was a bit of a late addition to add some priority, and its Mega Evolution happens to be a favorite; plus, a Steel-/Fairy-type makes for some good Dragon-type hate. Salamence was the latest addition, a good foil to Garchomp's physical set while another speedy attacker thanks to its item choice. Talonflame was fast becoming a popular choice in teams during my testing, and for good reason: priority Brave Bird is simply amazing and it could even support the rest of the team with priority Tailwind. Finally, I may hate cats, but Meowstic was too good to pass up. With Prankster, I could go with some Swagger hilarity and protect my team from status thanks to priority Safeguard; such a combo would also bolster my own physical attackers.

So, the morning of the event, we arrived late. Again, I blame my little brother for this (henceforth referred to as Navimeister), but thankfully, we were preregistered and ready to battle, though as I've alluded to, the little bro was lazy. He hadn't played his game much and he was scrambling to get the items for his team. He did have the benefit of a certain large crowd (more on that later). Anyways, beforehand, I decide to bring alone a little pal:

"I'm watching you..."

Pikachu would watch my back while I battled. He also came handy with some cute entertainment. So, some bullet points of the day's events:
  • Wow...the registration line was long! I got there five minutes after the registration was to have ended, but they still had a long line wrapping a quarter of the building. That's how you get 499 Masters in one regional. I had a better shot of it, but my phone didn't save it. So, stay happy with Magikarp!
"Golden Magikarp swims in a sea of trainers."
  • Those 499 Masters meant we had to do two flights: Flight A and Flight B. 
  • Curse you Alaka for being my second opponent! It's like he built his team to counter mine. Wait...did he?!
  • After a 1-1 start, the wins kept on coming. A bit of luck, some smart strategizing and then Round 9 came, a record of 7-1. I, of course, lose it, but thanks to the 6 game win streak, I made the cut to the Round of 32 (wow...499 Masters?)! Navimeister missed the cut in his flight after starting 4-0. Unfortunate for him...
Yay! 10th place in my flight!
  • Remember that Pika cute moment I mentioned? Well, since flight A was ahead by one match, we finished early. So while waiting for the Navimeister to finish his final match, I hung around Flight B's primary room. A future Poke Trainer was doing typical baby stuff such as grabbing his mom's possessions and sucking on them. When he saw the Pikachu in my bag, his eyes lit up and he started sucking on Pika! Oh babies...
  • Huy sucks...charging per slice of pizza? Gah! ;)
There is even a bit of battling here. Though I don't have a recording of it, my first round opponent of top cut, GoomSquad, still has the match and was kind enough to provide a text of the our final match. The score was tied 1-1, with GoomSquad taking the first match while I took the second. Tensions were high as both of us were now much more familiar with each others' team. It would come down to strategy implementation, choices, and a little bit of luck:

Turn 1:

+Jedi sent out Talonflame and Mawile!

GoomSquad sends out Garchomp and Tyranitar!

Mawile Intimidates both Garchomp and Tyranitar.

Sandstorm begins.

Well, that's not good. I have a Garchomp and Tyranitar staring at my poor little fire bird that could straight in the face, ready to sling some rocks my way. Meanwhile, my deceptively cute Mawile Intimidated the beasts with her looks, but I know something about this Tyranitar: it wields Fire Blast, so my cutie will end up pretty much dead. Not wanting to go 4-2 at the start, I decide on the double Protect:

Talonfalme uses Protect!

Mawile uses Protect!

GoomSquad's Garchomp uses Rock Slide.

Tyranitar uses Fire Blast intended for Mawile.

Both Protected.

Talonflame takes damage from the Sandstorm!

Nothing really major, except a bit of scouting as my predictions came through. GoomSquad doesn't want the match to drag on, since the possibility of Rotom-W exists and if he gets a burn on either, it's over. Meanwhile, out of necessity, I figure saving Mawile for later is the best choice due to previous team scouting (GoomSquad packs some Dragon-type hate with Aromatisse) and with a softened blow thanks to Intimidate, I figure switching in to Meowstic is the best choice. I have the feeling that Talonflame won't be around for long either, so I figure best to get off a Tailwind and get the jump on some foes with the reserved Garchomp and Mawile.

Turn 2:

+Jedi withdrew Mawile, sends in Meowstic.

Tyranitar uses Protect.

Talonflame uses Tailwind.

Garchomp uses Earthquake, Talonflame is unaffected. Meowstic takes little damage, around 15% from the EQ. Leftovers recovery, though negated due to Sandstorm. Talonflame takes damage from Sandstorm.

Well, that turned out better than expected. Meowstic investment in HP paid off as it took only a little damage and though Sandstorm negates my Leftovers recovery, sitting at around 85% health is a good place for the cat. However, I kind of expected Talonflame to die the previous turn; GoomSquad must have felt it wasn't worth his time to KO that turn and tried to get Mawile out of the way. With Talonflame's job practically done, I figure Brave Bird on Garchomp should do a good chunk. Meanwhile, Meowstic would Charm said Garchomp to weaken its attack even further.

Turn 3:

Talonflame uses Brave Bird on GoomSquad's Garchomp, dealing ~65% damage to Garchomp. Talonflame takes recoil damage from Rough Skin + Rocky Helmet, Talonflame is now at low health, ~35%.

Meowstic uses Charm on Garchomp. Garchomp's attack is at -3.

Garchomp uses Dragon Claw on Talonflame - It's a Critical Hit! - faints Talonflame.

Tyranitar uses Crunch on Meowstic. It's super effective! Faints Meowstic.

+Jedi sends in Garchomp and Mawile.

Mawile Intimidates again. GoomSquad's Garchomp's attack is now at -4, Tyranitar at -2.

Well, that's an unfortunate case. I don't doubt that Talonflame would have fainted for sure due to the recoil, sand, and item choices. But at -3, would Garchomp have been able to knock Talonflame out with Dragon Claw, even if the bird was nearly pooped? Not sure. Meanwhile, poor Meowstic was misused, as I should have aimed the Charm at Tyranitar instead.

Turn 4:

Mawile mega evolves to Mega-Mawile.

Garchomp Protects!

Mega-Mawile Protects!

GoomSquad's Garchomp uses Protect!

Tyranitar uses Fire Blast intended for Mega-Mawile. +Jedi is protected.

The Sandstorm rages.

Hmm, so another turn spent on scouting. But with me down 4-2, it's imperative that I play it safe. Yes, GoomSquad's Garchomp is nearly dead and Mega-Mawile can easily trample over Tyranitar with Iron Head. But, the other two Pokemon GoomSquad has for this match are unknown; I'd seen Aromatisse in previous matches, which is one of the reasons I brought Mega-Mawile along. With Tailwind's last turn, I figure getting rid of Garchomp is best while Mega-Mawile thrashes Tyranitar with Iron Head.

Turn 5:

GoomSquad withdraws Garchomp, sends in Reuniclus.

+Jedi's Garchomp uses Dragon Claw on Reuniclus - dishes out ~25% damage.

GoomSquad's Tyranitar uses Protect.

Mega-Mawile uses Iron Head on Tyranitar. Tyranitar is protected.

Sandstorm ends, the Tailwind petters out.

So, Reuniclus makes an appearance in the match for the first time and takes a Dragon Claw like a boss. GoomSquad also read my move and Protected his Tyranitar from the incoming Iron Head. Recalling from previous matches that GoomSquad favored Trick Room, with Aromatisse setting it off the first time I encountered it, Reuniclus practically screamed "Imma Trick Room!" With such a massive Special Attack, if it got Trick Room off, I'd be in some trouble. I double targeted the Reuniclus, deciding to leave Tyranitar alone for a bit.

Turn 6:

GoomSquad withdraws Tyranitar, sends Garchomp in.

+Jedi's Garchomp uses Dragon Claw on Reuniclus(@ ~75% HP) - It's a Crit, fainting Reuniclus.

Mega-Mawile uses Iron Head on my Garchomp, faints it - Rough Skin + Rocky Helmet damage. Mega-Mawile is at ~80-85% HP.

GoomSquad sends out Aromatisse and Tyranitar. Sandstream kicks in.

That crit helped out big time. With Aromatisse and Tyranitar, I knew I could at least outspeed both with Garchomp, so long as Reuniclus was gone. But with two big threats gone, I now faced two problems. There's no worry about the Sandstorm, but, the Fairy-type is a problem; Garchomp is practically useless right now, since Earthquake is more hurtful to me and Dragon Claw is useless on Aromatisse (and I figure not as effective as I would hope on Tyranitar). I decide the best choice would be a swift KO on Aromatisse with Mawile and Rock Slide to do some damage to both targets.

Turn 7:

+Jedi's Garchomp uses Rock Slide.

Aromatisse uses Protect. Protects against incoming Iron Head from Mega-Mawile.

Tyranitar flinches from the Rock Slide - cannot get off Fire Blast intended for +Jedi's Mega-Mawile. 

Bummer for him, but Arceus smiled on me that turn. However, my luck can't last forever. I still prioritize knocking out Aromatisse, but I can't use Earthquake for fear of KOing my own Mega Mawile; a guaranteed OHKO with Iron Head is better than giving Tyranitar an opportunity to survive an Earthquake. The best choice remains Iron Head on Aromatisse and Rock Slide for another chance at flinching (and the desire not to kill my own Mega-Mawile).

Turn 8:

+Jedi's Garchomp uses Rock Slide (hoping for more flinchy goodness?) - does nominal damage to Tyranitar.

Aromatisse tries to protect again, but fails. Takes an Iron Head from Mawile. It's super effective and faints!

Tyranitar uses Fire Blast against Mega-Mawile (at ~80% HP), survives with ~10% HP.

The game is nearly in the bag. Aromatisse is now out of the way, so Gachomp doesn't have to worry about anything except crits. Meanwhile, the turn establishes two things: 1. Mawile's HP investment works!...and I guess that slight Special Defense buff when it mega evolves helps against uninvested, unSTAB super effective moves; and 2. Mawile outspeeds Tyranitar. Garchomp may easily win this with Earthquake, but that would mean Mega-Mawile would faint (unless I Protect). Still, if it wasn't for Mega-Mawile, I wouldn't have made it this far in the match. I decide the deceptive fairy deserves to win it, since she'll outrun Tyranitar.

Turn 9: 

Garchomp uses Rock Slide and Mega-Mawile uses Iron Head.

Tyranitar faints.

+Jedi wins!

And a most satisfying and a tense win! Thanks again to GoomSquad for the great battles and for taking the time to pull out a call log (and shame on you Game Freak for removing the feature to save your battles after a match in Live Tournaments). Unfortunately for me, that would be the last match I would win for the day; my next opponent had practically the same team I did, minus Salamence. He mentioned he had been practicing with the team for three months, so shame on me for only using three weeks to prepare.

But a top 16 finish wasn't so bad. And besides, with the late start and computer messes, it was 10pm when I bowed out. I was kinda of glad to be out of it. Oh, and a special shout out to the tournament host, whose staff stayed well into what I heard was at least 2am the next day just to finish up. As for my prize, nine packs of Pokemon TCG (which I don't play) and 50 Championship Points (which I do care for!). Now, most of the cards didn't seem to be worth much, but the bottom row...

Something about the bottom row...

The bottom row seems to be worth something. Hmm...we'll see what, exactly. As for the top, well, the Bagon was given to everyone attending while the Gible, Gabite, and Pikachu are being held for collection. A new Pikachu card is always welcomed to the family!

It's a Pika Party!

So, how was this year's regional? Aside from the lack of sleep, the somewhat unpreparedness on my part, and the hitches in getting the whole tournament went good. I'm proud of the team I had, even if it did resemble someone else's team (of which I had no knowledge of). My leanings toward physical attackers will probably be revised and I'll most likely turn to disruptive strategies next time. I was also surprised as it seemed that most of my opponents deviated from many spread moves. It was great to see old faces, such as the Smogon and NuggetBridge members, and meeting new people, such as GoomSquad. Now, as for Nationals or Worlds next? This VGC season is something I'm definitely excited for!

Post-edit: 12th Place!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: A Year of Resolutions?

Why hello, new year and readers. To readers, it's been a while, huh? To the new year, what will you bring for us? Oh, my resolutions for the year? Well, they seem feasible:

1. Find my ideal job

College graduate? Check. Career choice? Uh...

A graduates degree is great, but it seems like a English major is expected to be a teacher. At the moment, my job is a substitute, one of those that holds a 30 day emergency permit. This basically means I'm not tied down to a specific pony; verily, I've subbed all manner of classes, from elementary to high school, English to Special Education. So, how do I like the job? Well, it's been a roller coaster, that's for sure. The idea of taking the year to sub was to get a feel for how teaching would be full time. Bless the souls of every teacher that has taught me, for I now fully understand the pains they went through in their attempts to teach 25+ students. Most of the students I've subbed have been great kids, but some days make me wonder if I should even enter a teaching credential program. Some of these students preferred to ask personal questions about my life, thinking a sub would let them get away with not completing their assigned work. Four months in, and I know what's expected in running a classroom: a commanding presence, something a quiet, introverted person needs to work on.

So, do I want to be a teacher? ...Ask at the end of the school year. But for now, I'm still looking in other places. Perhaps a lawyer or a mediator. Maybe public relations or storyboard writer? If I could write full time and get paid for it, I would do be set (and make great use of my creative writing track!). Oh, and I should make it a resolution to write more in my blog! All I know for sure is that I want to my part for this world, however small the difference may be.

2. Be healthy

Broad, but at the same time, it can be misinterpreted as the same old tired resolution. In fact, this resolution does involve being fit, but I do mean it in the broad sense. What I mean by being healthy is by being fit both physically and mentally. First, the physical aspect: I'm not in the best shape. I could lose some weight and get a bit of muscle tone. I thought I was doing an ok job with this during the middle of the previous year. But then the job kicked in and I started making excuses for stopping semi-daily bike rides. If I really want to be fit, maybe I should definitely look into a gym membership. Why would this help? I'm frugal with my expenditures; if I spend on a gym membership, I won't want to let my money go to waste. Or I could just leave the gym membership aside, save my money, and just exercise on my own. Regardless, excuses for not getting physically fit should be kicked in the rear.

A healthy physical form will also help with my other resolutions, but more importantly applies to this broad resolution too. Mentally, I think I'm a little too sick for my own good. Anxiety attacks seem to be more frequent as I concern myself over trivial things. This in turn has lead to more stress, leading to tense muscles and headaches, feelings of worthlessness, and worse of all, allergies. In my stubbornness to try and look out for others, I forget I matter. I'll strive to look out for myself better this year. A happy and healthy person can provide much more for the world he wants to improve.

3. Start dating (or go out more)

Something scared me recently. Adding my birth month, birth day, and birth year revealed a sum of 2014. Oh noes, my final chance at love! *sobs*

Ok, so I only half-believe that. But the truth of the matter is that I don't go out much. I rarely go out to parties and it's been years since I've dated. Though I do enjoy the lone wolf routine, sometimes it gets old...not to mention lonely. Perhaps this has also amounted to a decrease in my health, adding unnecessary stress. By (willingly) going out more often, I can meet new people, increase exposure, and get reacquainted with befriending.

Wow...that sounds so pathetic. I haven't been able to make many friends for the last decade and I haven't dated for five years. Butt kicking into overdrive, I guess. Getting hurt over being rejected? If I didn't care about it for a decade, why should I care now? After all, that's life: unpredictable!

So, that's it for my resolutions. And what about world resolutions? Will the US finally stop considering Kim and Kanye newsworthy? Will the US stop caring about people coming out, due to accepting it as everyday behavior? Will the world stop threatening each other just because of pointless squabbles regarding race, gender, religion, politics, etc? Will gamers stop caring about the supposed console war and return to what matters: gaming? Will we find life out there?

Who knows? Bring it 2014!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The (Substitute) Teacher (Day 13): The Truth

As I do more and more teaching, I discover not only fitting into the role better, but that this might just be the right job for me (full-time teaching, that is). I mention this right now, therefore: I am an introvert. My voice doesn't carry that loudly and I prefer to keep it a low profile. So it is kinda funny I'm considering teaching at all: you have to maintain order in the classroom as you teach your subject to your students. If you're perceived as soft or too easy going, kids will eat you alive.

So, teaching Physical Education means you have to keep on your guard. Through promotion of healthy bodies, students seem to consider a substitute as a rare opportunity to do whatever they want to do. As this happened to be the second time I subbed at this particular school and therefore recognized certain students, I knew what to expect. I felt I was more assertive this time around compared to my first time, yet I still maintained a sense of ease: I want to exhibit a sense that I'm easy going and approachable for a talk. This method worked out just fine for most of the periods I taught, as the kids went through their daily stretches and runs.

The final period proved to be the troublesome one. They seemed to prefer anarchy with their regular teacher out for the day. This period was where I got more forceful, shouting out at the students for misbehaving or not following instructions; to be frank, it was a bit draining to have been forced to do that due to their wild streak. This period was meant to be used for students to get a jump start on homework or ask for assistance on problems they had; instead, students preferred playing with their pens enacting five finger fillet, talking, or being downright disruptive.

In any case, the period was survived and the rest of the day went comfortably. Near the end of the school day, I was looking back at it and reflected that I did a better job in asserting myself than my past jobs. However, honesty is found in even the young, as I found out this day. A student from one of my earlier classes, who happened to be in this period too, approached me at the end of the day, thanked me for subbing, and was good enough to impart the following critique:

"You're a nice sub, but you need to be more forceful."

After subbing for a good amount of days and getting positive feedback from administrations of those schools, it was humbling to be reminded that the students ultimately get the final say in a teacher's performance. The good student wants to learn and therefore wants to avoid the distraction other students may present. The bad student doesn't want to be there and the job falls on the teacher to show the reasons the student needs to be there. If I can't be assertive enough and juggle the right amount of easiness and friendliness, I really have no business teaching.

I thanked the student for her honesty and told her I would work on it. We'll see how it works out the next time I sub.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The (Substitute) Teacher (Day 11): Spanish Teacher

Nope, you haven't missed the previous ten days; I just decided the time was right to jump in and say about the experience! In any case, you've probably read a bit about my uncertainty regarding what is my next step. Well, I've been fortunate enough to acquire an emergency substitute permit and have been subsequently hired by a local school district as a substitute teacher. I figure, if teaching is the way to go, better to get my feet wet before even attempting to dive into a teaching credential program.

So far, it's been working good. My first gig resulted in working with special education and it served as a foundation for learning exactly how different teaching methods must be used for all variety of students. This, along with my second gig, showed me that middle school is an unpredictable stage to teach; at this age, students are growing and are becoming independent, becoming more liberal in their expressions while drowning out the teacher. To all you full-time teachers in middle school reading this (and to those that taught me during my 6th-8th grade years), my condolences and thanks, for what you deal with and for the strength you have in taking it.

The last two subbing gigs happened to be at the high school level. From what I've learned (and remember!), students at this grade level are starting to focus on the studies long-term; that, or they ride athletics and high school tropes to success. In any case, I never much liked high school, for reasons I may share later on, but I can say I screwed myself those four years. How ironic that I would consider high school my entry level into full-time teaching then. 

To preserve confidentiality, I won't be naming anyone or giving away where I work. What I can tell you is that this second high school job sprung up at midnight. The listing stated it was for a high school Spanish class. Raised by two native speakers of the language, my tongue has devolved slightly since my younger years, but I proudly state that my Spanish is proficient in communication and comprehension. I figured I hadn't worked since Monday, it was at the high school level (which as I mentioned is where I'm highly considering starting a teaching career), and it was a subject I'm well versed with, so who cared if I had to wake up 5 hours later just to get there at 6:30 in the morning?

Upon arriving to the classroom, I noticed the professor didn't leave a lesson plan to follow. From my experience with the previous subbing jobs, teachers have left their lesson plan in their inbox, which the front office provides in a folder. Or, the substitute leaves special instructions through a system in which the substitute accesses to hear said instructions. In this job's case, it was stated there were special instructions, but no recording was left. Fortunately, a nearby professor helped figure out a basic lesson plan I could follow, so that helped out. 

The first period I taught in was relatively quiet, but a bit excited about a substitute. This class was composed of freshmen and sophomores, an age group transitioning away from the wildness of middle school; surprisingly, there was little to no outstanding behavior. They mature adults. They seemed to be on task with the assignments I presented, but...I don't recall the cell phone being a part of the required supplies for learning. The cell phone was in its infancy during my high school years, with the smartphones slowly popping up. Nowadays, you're guaranteed to see an iPhone in at least one person's hand. Regardless, most people understood that cell phones are a big no-no in my class, except for one person, who kept using her phone as both a makeshift mirror to curl her eyelashes and to check her messages.

Then...things got interesting during the second period of class.

I should point out that between the first and second class, the school had a pep-rally assembly, to prepare for the homecoming game that evening. With spirits and morale high, the students were eager for the weekend to start, but seeing a substitute, they figured it would be an easy day. This class was composed of primarily juniors, so I guess they figured a sub they hadn't met before would be slim pickings. Not so fast...The Spanish tongue helped show the first period I knew what I was doing, so when presented to this second period, they began to listen.

However, this may have also been attributed to a little bartering. I'm not one who possesses a strong voice or exhibits a commanding presence (even if I may look it), but the distractions from the pep-rally and this substitute were enough for this second period to go off on a tangent, stating that they had already completed most of the assignments the professor had left. Instead, they decided to ask Mr. Sub the most random and sometimes personal questions. I can smell bull a mile away (after all, high school wasn't that far back!), so to try to get them to work, I offered to talk a bit about myself near the end of class. It worked out decently, but in order to gauge if they were really learning the material and practicing it, I requested that the final activity be shared among the whole class: a spoken dialogue meant to be shared with two people was therefore expanded to the whole room.

With their part fulfilled, I decided it was fair to entertain them for a little bit. The following are some of the more random, ridiculous, intriguing, and hilarious questions and statements I've received that the students decided to share.

"What school (college) did you attend?" "You look too young to be a sub. How old are you?"
-Ah, both questions went hand in hand. At the start of the class, quite a few of the students kept asking that, with me trying to dismiss it as "It doesn't matter, let's focus on the activity!" This then led to wild speculations.

"You're a fun teacher. Too bad our teacher doesn't like fun; looks like you won't teach in this room again!"
-Well, something along those lines, but still, the important takeaway from this is that they found me amusing. If there's one thing I learned as a student, the best teachers are the ones who know the subject they're teaching and are entertaining. Nobody enjoys dull lectures.

"You're already the best Spanish sub we've had. Most of the subs we've had for Spanish don't even know what to do, since they don't speak it."
-Understandable. You can't expect all subs to know the subject-matter. That's why we depend on lesson plans (from my experience). Still, I was happy to be able to sub for a subject I clearly understood.

"Do you have Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?"
-I don't think a student should care. Do you? *Takes precaution with appropriate accounts*

And the number one hilarious question:

"How's your love life?"
-Uh...class dismissed?

I still have a ways to go with appreciating and perfecting teaching. As a student, it was mostly easy for me to pay attention to the teacher's instructions. Now, as the teacher (albeit a substitute), I have to command respect while juggling both subject-matter competency and a personal preference in providing an enjoyable learning experience. As I gain more experience, I hope to reach the right balance. At least the administration at this particular school was happy with my work ethic; they've suggested that they know at least one new sub who knows the subject of Spanish and that they can count on this guy to teach it!

Friday, September 13, 2013

October Goodies

Now normally, I'd have to wait for Halloween to get goodies (shh...adults trick-or-treating isn't creepy...right? Right?) But October provides me with some gaming goodies indeed. First:

You knew I had to get it.

Wind Waker HD. Yes, number one Zelda fan must have collectors edition. Of course, there is the Zelda Wii U bundle, but I'm happy with a Ganondorf figure (sweet!) and a launch Wii U (yes, bought it at launch). As for my plans with replaying this charming but shocking (no spoilers here!) Zelda game, I think I'll give it the Twilight Princess treatment and do a play through. How does 3 Heart Challenge in Hero Mode sound? Oh and Director's Cuts too (don't worry, still got some for Twilight Princess, but hope you're watching the videos uploaded)!

Wind Waker HD launches October 4th, in physical copies while digitally, it launches September 20th. If you can't wait, download it! Anyways, a week after the physical copies of WW HD release, we get...

Pokémon X/Y. As if catching 649 Pokémon wasn't enough (I vote we banish Johto Pokémon with very few exceptions), we're getting brand new ones, customization for characters (and Pokemon!), new gender differences for Pokemon, a revamped type chart (yay, Electric-types cannot get paralyzed and uh...Steel-types lose two resistances (Dark, Ghost) while gaining Super Effective coverage and resistance to another (Fairy), and Mega Evolutions! Of course, this Mega Evo made me happy when revealed:

Mega Blaziken. Obviously the second best starter ever (Pikachu is number 1), the original Fire/Fighting-type showing up the weaklings in Infernape and Emboar and the somewhat overhyped Charizard (who also got a Mega Evolution, but looks like Flygon's distant cousin) with a Mega Evolution, waiting to crack some Poke-skulls with Speed Boost, Flare Blitz, and Hi Jump Kick.

Would have been happy with that, but then Game Freak decided to make me the happiest Pokemon breeder giving my favorite Pokemon a Mega Evolution too!

Mega Garchomp. Your argument is invalid. Your Charizard was always weak. Your Scizor was nothing to begin with. Your Metagross was stupid to even think it could win. Your Infernape would rather eat its own droppings than battle this. Your Keldeo pretends to be a "My Little Pony" when this thing comes out. Garchomp was already the greatest Pokemon ever and now with a Mega Evolution, well...infinity can't contain its greatness.

...Uh...ahem, Pokémon X/Y comes out October 12th (worldwide) for Nintendo 3DS (yes, 2DS is a 3DS). Something tells me this game is going to be big...Anyways, maybe we'll catch each other online!

Just hit the run button, though. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Director's Cut: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Double Feature)

I want to analyze two videos this time. So, let's get cracking!

Flying up the river
-Shame it only lasts a 1:38 (though you get to redo the part with Shadow Bugs). But if you've already seen the video on YouTube, you know how I've gushed all over this part of the game. The music is just so mysterious and enjoyable, a frenetic pace as you fly on a Shadow Kargaroc up a dry river infested with Shadow Bulblins trying to shoot you down. WIth no water around, the river's cavernous route reverberates the sounds of bows twocking, Bomb Arrows smacking hanging stalactites, and the destroyed rocks serving as obstacles as they fall.

The first time I played this (back in 2006), I admit to my confusion to the controls. With this game being ported from the GameCube and adapted to use the Wiimote, the developers wanted to test some techniques. Having both GCN and Wii version, pointer controls to pilot the Shadow Kargaroc is surprisingly responsive. However, it proves to stink when attempting a sharp turn, as evident at 1:20.

Frozen Zora
-Reaching the throne room and looking down the ice to see dozens of frozen Zoras was a bit creepy. Learning of what happened here from Queen Rutella was also disturbing. Imagine having to witness your queen executed in front of you and then frozen in place, awaiting someone to notice something is wrong or dying a slow, cold death...

Twilight Princess is likened to another dark title in the Zelda-series: Majora's Mask. Both games have disturbing backgrounds they base on set pieces. The aforementioned Zora scene is just one; the next video describes one of the more bizarre and disturbing scenes to witness in a Zelda game.

The Story of the Fused Shadow
-Ok, ignore the giant Shadow Bug at the start; we've been hinted on that the Fused Shadow were a dark power that could take on the powers of Twilight. Here, we get told the origins. As expected, greedy people want unimaginable power. Friends turn on each other and chase the powers of gods. Another group emerges using dark magic to start riots until the spirits seal their magic and banish them. The dark magic, as it happens to be, is the Fused Shadow. These dark interlopers wanted to establish control over the Sacred Realm but were stopped by the Goddess' order to the Light Spirits.

This motif is one of the more darker ones in Nintendo history. Using Link and Ilia to represent the peaceful Hylians before they betrayed each other is quite symbolic of the troubles that happen not only in this game but in actual life. People in history have proven to be traitors if it means a benefit to them. At this point, we don't know who the dark interlopers are, but suffice to say, a band of misfits, when tempted by power, will crush anyone in their way. What deals this allure of power is the intoxicated look Link has before snapping out of it when Lanayru finishes giving its caution. His sinking to the ground in defeat signals shame the hero feels at being tempted.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Director's Cut: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii) (Part 21): vs. Fyrus, Twilit Igniter

Another Director's Cut? Sure, let's analyze one of the more infamous battles in Twilight Princess!

Fyrus, Twilit Igniter
-The opening of this battle is done in a good matter. Perhaps limitations with the GCN prevented developers from adding artistic design to the arena; with the backstory that the Gorons were forced to lock their patriarch up, I would have liked to have seen more wreckage because certainly, Fyrus would not have gone quietly.

But that's not my biggest gripe with this battle. As I mentioned, the opening sets up what is sure to be a fantastic battle. The music is simply superb, setting up for a clash of opposite spectrums, a sort of David and Goliath battle (come on, a Bow and Sword vs. Flaming Giant?). A giant, flaming Goron roaring fire your way and swinging around madly? Sign me up for a good battle!

Except it doesn't happen.

Fyrus is slooooow. That's not the big issue though; a hulking beast is what he's supposed to be after all. No, when I say slow, I mean he doesn't react fast enough. Look at 2:00, where I miss with the Hero's Bow. He just...stands there. His flaming wall attack takes forever to create. A beast of his size should also try to block those arrows at least. I feel that the player should have been challenged in this battle. With the Wiimote providing pinpoint accuracy dependent on the player, this battle could have been more challenging; make the player wait for an opening to aim for Fyrus and punish them for being frantic. After all, Link is wielder of the Triforce of Courage. If the designers would have worked on the enemy AI better for this battle, this boss would have been epic. As it stands, good cinematic and music, bad boss battle.

Still, the Ending Blow here is pretty wicked.

Oh, and I still don't like Malo. Little punk doesn't bow like he should!