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!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Director's Cut: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii) (Part 2): Thieving Cat.

And we're back!

0:44 - And here we have three more youngsters: Talo is too freaking loud, Beth is a gold digger, and Malo...well...I plain don't like Malo. Suffice to say, Malo in Spanish means bad. I hate Malo.
2:13 - Twilight Princess is notorious for forgetting most of the items and techniques you learn. The blade of grass is no different...which is a shame.
3:18 - Oh, how I wish this was Skyward Sword right now...climbing in Twilight Princess is slooooooooooooooow at climbing. The stamina bar in Skyward Sword meant you couldn't hang around all day, but for that limitation, you could climb faster by using up your stamina.
6:53 - Fado's a bad wrangler.
7:24 - Look very closely at Link's hands...he isn't holding that Cuckoo at all!
10:11 - Freaking cat thief. That was my lunch!
11:24 - Sure, Sera...tell yourself that...And ew! Backwash much?

Questions/comments/suggestions? Ask away in the comments!

Director's Cut: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii) (Part 1): A Twilit Start

I've been thinking about doing this for a couple of weeks. Now with a bit of free time, I wanted to test out this experiment.

I've had a YouTube channel for a while now and I use it mostly for video game playthroughs and guides. The descriptions for many of these videos is enough to give one an idea of what they're watching. With this Director's Cut, I want to get a deeper look into the game, both on the story and design elements from the creator of the game and my own techniques. This will be indicated by timestamps. Hope you enjoy the video and my thoughts!

0:00 - Wow, surprised it still looks this nice after seven years. The HD capabilities of the Wii U help out!
1:03 - Twilight Princess is in the Majora's Mask cycle now. It has taken the "not bad" position owned by Wind Waker, with Skyward Sword getting the "it sucks" position. Meanwhile, Wind Waker is now in the "I love it!" post while Majora's Mask joins Ocarina of Time as the "Timeless Classic" spot. Zelda fans are so fickle...
1:42 - Let's get it out of the way...I'm not sure about voice acting in The Legend of Zelda. I definitely don't want Link to speak; the silent protagonist (battle cries notwithstanding) just fits him right in terms of you being Link, as Shigeru Miyamoto intended it. As for the other really depends on the voice actors they choose. We'll see if Zelda Wii U brings them along!
3:52 - One of the brats, Colin. I still can't tell if it's a girl or a boy (a boy apparently...).
4:09 - Horse Thief Ilia!
4:59 - There's going to be a lot of Skyward Sword references in these Director's Cut. I appreciate the infinite rolling more than the stamina bar rolling, for example. Still, Skyward Sword improved some of the mechanics that were stagnant by the time Twilight Princess came out.
5:29 - That long shirt makes the crush Ilia look like a midget.
7:20 - Let's be honest...does anyone in Ordon Village really need the shop to exist? You'd think a small community like this would share...Speaking of which...
8:40 - How much does Link get paid for cattle wrangling?

See anything you'd like me to discuss about the video? Post in the comments!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Social Experiment

I was checking out my subscriptions on YouTube today and I came upon the latest episode of Ray William Johnson (by the way, if you haven't subscribed to his channel, do so if you like to laugh!). In this episode, he discusses two social experiment videos in which a male and a female each ask random strangers if they would like to have sex with each other. Curiosity peaked after Ray analyzed both videos (and poked fun at them) and so I went and viewed the original, uploaded by whatever (yup, the channel's name) to view in depth the hilarity. All through this hilarious social experiment, I realized some key differences and reactions that each individual faced, and so here, I want to give my thoughts on...from the perspective of both a guy and a human being.

Boy...we suck.

Or maybe women are bigger...uh...Anyways, this poor guy gets rejected not once, not twice, not thrice, but 100 times! Ok, so maybe asking someone for sex up-front isn't the most romantic way to get with someone. But let's be honest: how many of you ladies still love romance? Wait, you do? Why do I get rejected then?!

Back on topic...let's analyze this dude for a bit. Ignore the fact that he's asking random strangers to have sex with him. Does he sound confident to you? To me, he doesn't. It's almost like he's embarrassed to be asking the question. There are a few instances where he does a follow-up question or a little bit of teasing. There's even a few instances where I thought this guy would get punched by a boyfriend of one of these girls; yes, he even asked some of these people if they were a couple before proceeding with the experiment! But overall, the guy seems a bit bashful when asking the question. There's a bit of hesitation and a few uh's (which seem to be prevalent in speech nowadays, alongside like), almost like he's dreading the answer.

But as it has been pointed out, the dude was rejected 100 times. The reactions from the women ranged from "Are you serious?" and simple no to more hilarious ones like laughter or throwing a cup of water in the guy's face. Now ladies, let's look at this guy: he's not bad-looking. Some might even say he has quite the good looks. So, with that being said...would you have accepted his invitation for sex?

Boy...we suck.

Ok, so the key difference between this miss versus the dude from the previous video is confidence. Or maybe it's a sense of fun. Whereas the dude did a bit of follow-up to the big question, the miss resorted to the ol' bag of tricks: teasing, playful looks, and displaying her assets. Her wardrobe helped in this aspect, a tank top exposing her belly button and short shorts compared the her counterpart's tamer look of knee-long shorts and t-shirts.

The sample size is also shorter with only 14 men in total asked if they would like to have sex with her. Maybe there wasn't a whole lot of confidence after all, or more likely, a 50% success rate at getting a guy to answer yes to sex suggested she quit while ahead. Of course, there may be some more unsavory folks she asked and for the purpose of keeping it on track, the video editing team kept it out. Of her successes and fails, the first one was full of hilarity as the old man literally flipped out and called the cops on her.

But like I said, we suck. Seven men did a quick look around, asked "Are you sure," and ultimately or immediately said yes. Guys, what does this suggest of us? Are we sex hungry? Is our sex drive that active? No comment in my part though! ;)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Graduate: What Next?

Congratulations, college undergraduate of 2013. You've completed at least four years of grueling work, party going, new friendships, and maybe even a minimal regret(!) on your journey to get a coveted bachelor's degree!

Now what'll you do?!

Don't be surprised if you're wondering that yourself, because I know I'm scratching my head too. And no, I'm not blind to those people who are fortunate to have a career right off the bat; congratulations to you if you're one of those! But I'm sure even those folks had some misgivings.

I'll get to the point: I've been unemployed  for a little over three years. I originally had a job as a cashier in a supermarket, but I was forced to resign due to transferring to a four-year university away from my home and no possibility to transfer to another store. I focused on my studies for the past two years to complete my undergraduate degree, in addition to taking part in a specialized program that would enable to pursue a teaching credential. Still, I kept a look out for any type of part-time job I could do and only succeeded to get a one day gig on campus as part of an event crew. With no more income of my own, I would have to ensure I wouldn't spend the borrowed and given money from loans and grants on trivial things, instead relying on my personal money. Frugality has always been my strong point.

But now I've graduated and I'm in a precarious position. With no job, my own savings have been dwindling. I've been living with my parents in the meantime, searching high and low for jobs I could do with my bachelor's. And even though I've graduated, I don't feel the sensation of having finished school for good; I've been at it for 19 years after all and the more I learn, the more my mind and skill sets expand.

Now, I feel like I'm in a chicken vs. egg scenario: I wouldn't mind going back to school and getting a teaching credential, pursuing an old idea in a medical profession, or even learning about computer programming. But where will the funding come from? More loans? When I can't pay them? But I can always defer the loans...I want the job now, but who's hiring? I can somewhat understand why some jobs request job experience, but if no internships were available, how can one have that experience? Is job training gone?

Recently, I took the CBEST (California Basic Educational Standards Testing) and have been aggressively searching for jobs, which has accounted for the three week neglect. I learn of my score tomorrow and whether I pursue teaching or not, the fact of the matter remains that where will the money come from. If I have to get loans again, so be it; but I want to start paying it back now. I'm the type of guy who wants to make an impact on this world, no matter how small it can be. But if I can't take care of myself, how can I help the world?

So many jobs applied and only a few have responded, most of them saying they've hired someone else or I'm not a good fit. I know I shouldn't expect a job to land on my lap, but I feel apathy kicking in. I worry it will take over before I get a promising interview or an inspiration for studying once again.

If this sounds like you, share your story; what did you or have you done to keep your spirit uplifted. For those with success, how does it feel and what do you suggest? For me, even though I'm in this predicament, I have still a little hope that something manifests before September, when repayment begins for those loans. Despair or worry will only help apathy settle...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July, America!

July 4th, 2013. The United States is 236 years old today (and quite the young lady, huh?). So, fire up your grills, pop open a frosty one, call your family and friends, and heck, go watch some fireworks, because that's what we do on the Fourth of July, right?

Well...not exactly. Remember the reason we are a country in the first place; we faced oppression from an unruly government. The original 13 colonies and its people felt they were underrepresented in the British governement while being overtaxed. Remember the key words in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Remember that the United States stands as a symbol of freedom and prosperity, and that there are many men and women in service fighting battles out there, following their belief in protecting this nation. Remember the various cultures that compose this country, the many religions people are free to believe in, the promise of a good life people from other nations come to believe of this nation. Remember what the United States represents...and ensure that your freedoms and beliefs do not harm others. For a freedom of one at the cost of not a freedom at all.

Now, go out and celebrate this country's growing pains and gains. Me? Well, I'll probably lounge at home and watch some movies or play video games, or go out on the ol' Harley for a freedom ride, or just go to a local park and watch the fireworks show. All I know is that I appreciate living in this country, faults and all, and hope her prosperity continues to grow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The United States and Same-Sex Marriage

I was in the process of writing a different post when I heard the news.

The news: The Supreme Court has struck down portions of DOMA. It also declined an appeal to overturn a lower court's ruling in California that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state, is unconstitutional. In short, same-sex couples are allowed federal benefits and same-sex marriage is allowed in California.

I'm happy for this ruling, even if it took the Supreme Court for this to happen. I'm a little peeved that it took so long because the Civil Rights era was back in the 1960s, and even that shouldn't have existed! Civil rights, human rights, should have been equal to all, regardless of gender, race, and even sexual preference. We are all human beings entitled to our own happiness and peace; what does it matter to a person if they don't have the same views as another, so long as it is not trampling on your freedoms? I'm of the mind that if you live your life peacefully and your lifestyle doesn't harm another, live your life the way you want.

This whole ordeal regarding same-sex marriage and sexual attraction should not matter to another. Why? Because a person cannot be another person; you are who you are. Each one of us is an individual, each one of us is entitled to our happiness. And if our happiness is found in another partner, it shouldn't matter to other people if the partner is of the opposite sex or the same sex. What matters is that a human being found his significant other and his family and friends should celebrate this joyous occasion.

Please don't forget the final line of our National Anthem: "Land of the free, Home of the brave." To all those same-sex couples out there: congratulations. You're efforts have paid off and helped remind me that the United States is a country that stands for the freedom of its citizens.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

E3: The Aftermath

So, another E3 completed, this year filled with content regarding new consoles, curbstomping, funny memes and pictures, and borderline irrational reporting. Oh, and games, let's not forget the most important part of a console. So for this post, I dedicate it to what were, in my opinion, the best of the best in E3.

1 . Sony being a massive troll

Need we say anymore? Oh, okay...well, Sony pretty much took what Microsoft said it would do and gave it the finger. No used game blocks, no messy DRM issues (though it's left at the developer's discretion), region-free, and an attractive price point of $399. Publisher choice of DRM usage and PS+ subscription required to play online notwithstanding (though this latter part may not be that big of a deal), Sony confirmed what should be done for a video game console: an unrestricted piece of hardware capable of playing your library.

Though Microsoft has recently battled back...

2. Bayonetta 2 shaping up to be very delicious

Can I have you, please?

I have a confession, Bayonetta: I haven't finished Bayonetta yet. I'm sorry, love! I've had you for three years, but other games come between us. But then you released that trailer for Bayonetta 2 and it's making me hold off on selling my 360. I must finish you; I must master the art of the hack-and-slash type of game because my goodness, the Wii U exclusive Bayonetta 2 is shaping up to be marvelous. Giant demons fighting on top of fighter jets and buildings,

Oh, it's totally ok if you're not in the next Smash Bros. by the way.

3. The Legend of Zelda; twice in one year!

I need my Zelda. Now. Gimme.

I don't feel obligated to tell you why: it's Zelda. That's all that matters.

Ok, then. Pretty much, if it wasn't for Link to the Past, I wouldn't be a gamer (or Zelda fan for that matter) today. The sense of familiarity from the over world will feel nice and Zelda games (minus Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks) have always kept me coming back for more. What other hidden things will this 3DS game bring for us?

Of course, we can't forget that Wind Waker HD is coming out this year. A revamped Triforce quest, new boating mechanics, Miiverse interaction, redone Tingle Tuner, and an upscaling to HD should do wonders for this charming (and violent, look at that ending!) game.

Sailing once again...

4. Super Smash Bros. is bombing, psychotic, and fit

How do you make the fans swoon? You include the Blue Bomber, the most requested third-party character after the revelation of Solid Snake during the revelation trailer of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. With Sonic's inclusion to the mix, fans were constantly begging series creator Masahiro Sakurai for more third-party characters, the most requested being Mega Man. The fans went nuts at this revelation and yet still, they want more characters to brawl against the likes of Mario, Link, Samus, Pikachu, Kirby, and other series regulars. I've seen some more modest requests like asking for Snake and Sonic back to some of the more outlandish ones, like Naruto of manga fame.

Well, let's just say Sakurai went full on troll crazy with the other two revelations.

I'm glad I've never played Animal Crossing now...

I'm feeling the burn!

What other zaniness will the next Smash Bros. (both for Wii U and 3DS) bring? Just hope it's a game that is full of general cursing, bad mouthing, cheering, and laughing; in other words: FUN!

5. Destiny is calling, it wants to be played

Something about this game just makes it look so good. The open world feel of it, the sense of familiarity from various games such as Mass Effect, and the intriguing storyline. And of course, Bungie is one of the more popular video game creators out there; they're usually good at giving back to their fans (tenfold). I have little doubt that this game will be a success (and have a slim hope on seeing it on Wii U).

6. Star Wars: Battlefront (is it 3 or just reimagined?) by DICE

Look, I like the Battle of Hoth; really, I do! But isn't it getting awfully overplayed? Still, I guess we should be thankful that the game was revived...or maybe DICE is simply touching up what was originally finished up. Hope to see more of this in the future.

7. Nintendo is a child

And that's a good thing. When the other two console makers forget that it was kids who made the gaming industry the success it is today, you'll end up with copy after copy of brown colored American hero shooters that seem to plague consoles. This is one of the reasons I prefer to game on Nintendo over the other two; though it may miss out on what some call "crucial" games, I'm not crying. I like charm, wit, and an overall fun time in my games. It just depends on how you find yourself enjoying entertainment. Yeah, I guess I am old fashion.

What a bunch of loonies...

8. Microsoft Xbox One(Hole)

On May 21st, Microsoft decided that a VCR looking, draconian DRM enabled*, social media hog, TV within a TV device known as the Xbox One (hope the average consumer doesn't confuse it with the first one!) would be the next wave of gaming. And who knows, maybe the average consumer wanted these things. What I can tell you is that it's not what gamers want out of their consoles.

How about supporting the fanbase who made the Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE such a success (I'm not looking at you, prepubescent 13 year old shouting racial and sexual slurs over me kicking your ass at Call of Duty) by providing what a gaming console should do: play games! Crimson Dragon looks to make good use of the watchful eye of the Kinect sensor.Meanwhile, Killer Instinct made many fans of the original happy...until it was discovered that the game was pay-to-play title. In other words, one can download the game for free, but with only one character available from the start, they must pay to play the other fighters. Showing off the impending Halo was nice, but it might just make gamers a bit impatient waiting for it (I should know; I get that way with Zelda). Basically, third parties were on board, none more than EA which promises the best and early content on Xbox One. However, price wise, we'll see if the unit can move at $499 with the help of Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts (both titles available on the 360 too...).

Basically, the worst enemy of the Xbox One (aside from it's terrible features in contrast to the PS4) is Microsoft PR. When you have the head of a company, such as Don Mattrick, stating that if you don't have internet, you should settle for an Xbox 360 or stating that all the Xbox One packs (bad features and all) is worth $499, you need to kick them out ASAP. It's kinda like what Nintendo expected after the success of the Wii and DS; instant success without thinking straight. What happens if the console doesn't sell? Will EA do what they did to Nintendo; pull out support until more units are moved (I doubt it). Will Microsoft sell off its gaming aspects (lolno) and simply drop out of the console race? Will anyone buy an Xbox One?!

*As of today, Microsoft has removed the restrictive DRM from the Xbox One. Looks they realized the 12-foot hole would be too much too scale so they've tried using that shovel as a step to get out of the hole (i.e. they listened to the complaints and are attempting to appease. However, some features are going to be withheld and in order to remove the restrictive DRM, one must download a patch. Will this be enough to sway the fans back to their console? Maybe it should be renamed to be the Xbox OneEighty.

"Like me...please?"

9. Metal Gear Solid 5, starring Jack Bauer

The first game Microsoft showed off at its presser happened to be a series that has stuck around the Playstation brand for at least the past two decades. Oh sure, Metal Gear had its roots in Nintendo consoles and compilations, ports, and side games have appeared on other consoles. But a brand new Metal Gear  game needed to be shown off, one that wouldn't only be seen on Sony's brand but rather also Microsoft's. Enter Metal Gear Solid 5.

"Look Ma! I can hide on the side of my horse!"

Sneaking's back. Shooting's back. Convoluted story's back. Cheesy dialogue's back. Weird characters are back. David not. The titular voice actor of Solid Snake was finally confirmed to not be voicing protagonist Big Boss in this pre/sequel(?) after providing the voice in Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker (not to mention being the voice of Solid Snake). Instead, we're going to be treated to the delectable hymn that is Kiefer Sutherland's screaming voice (remember 24?). Will it work out in the end? Some gamers are bummed about the change, particularly since Mr. Hayter said he was coming back but series creator Hideo Kojima stating that he wasn't. Hmm...Snake confirmed for the next Smash Bros. voiced by Hayter?

10. Pokemon X/Y, because face it, your journey to "Catch 'Em All" will never end

Nintendo had a roundtable regarding the upcoming generation of Pokemon and discussed new features such as character customization, confirming speculation of a new type, and new forms of battle such as 5-on-one and sky battles. As a Pokemon fan, the idea of a character customization is nice (the female trainer looks better than the male one) and the new formats of battle are ok (gonna beat up 5 God Pokemon, Bidoof, in one go!). But what caught my attention was the confirmation of the Fairy-type and retyping of some older Pokemon a-la-Magnemite; conversely, Jigglypuff, Gardevoir, and Marill.

Now, why do I care about this type? It means I can go full on geek mode as I prepare for next year's Pokemon VGC. Will I care for Sylveon's stats to make it on the team. Oh, but it'll surely carry Helping Hand and that's a great way to boost her partner's attack. Will the Fairy-type resist the Dragon-type? What does this mean for the greatest Pokemon to exist, Garchomp? What can Sylveon learn? When will Marill and the majority of Johto Pokemon stop sucking (never)?! Why am I such a Pokemon breeder?!

Because I am.
Normal/Fairy; Psychic/Fairy; Fairy; Water/Fairy...or maybe I'm looking too much into this.

11. Safety in sequels!

CoD: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 and Assassins Creed 4 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Killzone: Shadow Fall and oh my! Sequels running rampant around E3 is nothing new but people still complain (or cheer). But its funny, the same people cheering for a new Battlefield bemoan Nintendo for pulling out another Mario game in the form of Super Mario 3D World. There are a few things about this. First, if something works, of course a company is going to keep going for it until it doesn't. Second, how about playing the game before knocking it? Third, if you're gonna bitch about sequels, do it for all of them, not just selectively. And fourth, if you don't like the game, don't pay attention to it.

Now that that's out of the way...I will say that there was plenty of safety amongst the gaming companies, though the spotlight shone on Nintendo more. Of course, with waning third-party support, Nintendo has to show what the Wii U can do by putting out its IPs. However, many weren't initially thrilled at Super Mario 3D World or the top secret Retro Studios game, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. What we do know is that Nintendo games appeal to the masses and are usually worth investing in; Nintendo has been in the business for quite a while now, so they know how to make their games. The problem right now, though, is that they didn't really show what the Wii U is capable of. None of the games are making heavy use of the Game Pad and all the games they showed off feel like safe investments. Take a risk soon, Nintendo, please?

12. Show the Chief, get the crowd nuts

All it took was a little display of Master Chief trudging through a desert, getting confronted by what looked like a massive Promethean tech, and the Chief pulling out the chip that held Cortana's essence (now held in the form of dog tags) was enough to get a rouse out of the Microsoft audience and speculating when 343 Industries will release Halo 5. Even I'm intrigued by what's to come with the next title (though I'm not rushing to buy an Xbox One any time soon)!

Monday, June 10, 2013

E3: What Will the Console Makers Bring?

What will they bring?

For all intents and purposes, E3 begins today with Microsoft's presentation regarding its recently revealed Xbox One. With the console and features already exposed, gamers can look forward to actual games, both of multiplatform and exclusives. E3 has usually been about new software and new console reveals but as the industry gets bigger and is becoming more than a niche to only self-proclaimed gamers, console makers try to stuff in features that are neat but just aren't necessary to the average gamer. With Microsoft's revelation of their latest console, gamers are feeling that the company isn't paying attention to their gaming needs (thoughts here). Microsoft needs to show it cares for the gamers, while maybe scaling back on its anti-consumer policies on the Xbox One (though a showing of Metal Gear Solid V and Killer Instinct just now is helping the former). It should also show off the price for the Xbox One, since it's expected to be released in Holiday 2013.

What about the Playstation 4?

Sony revealed its next console back in February, but seemed to have forgotten one little detail...the console itself. While the controller was shown off, the console was noticeably absent as it was claimed that the console itself was not in its final design. Instead, Sony opted to glorify the new features , such as a touchpad, new analog sticks, a dedicated share button that could be used to share content to places such as Facebook and, and cloud gaming. Sony also announced partnerships with various game makers but had little to show off in actual games. In this sense, Sony has much more to show off than either Microsoft or Nintendo: they must show off the console itself if they want to get in on the Holiday 2013 rush; they must show off exclusives and games that would convince an on the fence gamer why they should invest in the PS4, and (as gamers hope) they must show how their policies are different from Microsoft's efforts; that is, no anti-consumer DRM or always online gaming. It wouldn't hurt to also show what the PS Vita is made of by showing off desirable and unique games.

How will Nintendo stack up?

Unlike the previous two, Nintendo has neither a presentation to do nor a console to reveal. The latter already exists in the form of the Wii U and the former was a decision made by the head honchos to be replaced by the well received Nintendo Directs they've published lately. This doesn't mean Nintendo's presence won't be felt at E3 as they do have space on the showfloor. In addition, Nintendo recently announced that E3 demos will be available to play at select Best Buy locations, though it seems to be only two days and limited to four demos. Regardless, the Wii U, while a great console in this bloggers opinion and others, is floundering a bit with a lack of games; Nintendo has yet to release its heavy hitters as New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land didn't capture the attention of the gaming populace and third-party efforts have only been decent ports (or late!) such as Injustice: Gods Among Us, Need For Speed Most Wanted, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. What Nintendo needs to do is generate the interest for the Wii U itself by releasing the heavy hitters such as the Mario's, the Zelda's, and the Metroid's. The company's handheld offering in the 3DS is already taking off after an abysmal start with this year's Pokemon X and Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2 (tentative title), so it's not crazy to think the Wii U will take off. With promises of the next Smash Bros., Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, partnerships such as with Platinum Games (Bayonetta 2) and Sega (Sonic: Lost Worlds), if Nintendo shows off the games, the gamers will come.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Xbox One...What are you Doing?

Looks vaguely familiar...

Xbox One. Xbone. Xdone. "Xbox One? I thought we had this thing 12 years ago?" Whatever you've called it, the Xbox One is indeed one puzzling thing. It was only 2 weeks ago, on May 21st (my b-day!), when Microsoft unveiled what they laud as the next generation of gaming. People were, understandably, excited for this revelation, given the success of the Xbox 360.

And then the Xbox One was revealed.

Microsoft is relatively new to producing consoles. The original Xbox was released back in 2001, while the Xbox 360 has been around for the last seven years. Sony's foray into the console business was back in 1995 with the release of the Playstation brand, followed by the Playstation 2 in 2000 and the Playstation 3 in 2006. Nintendo has been in this business for the longest, releasing the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States in 1985. Since then, not counting its handhelds, Nintendo has released the Super NES, Nintendo 64, GameCube, the highly successful (and polarizing, in terms of gamers) Wii, and just seven months ago, its newest console, the Wii U. In terms of the video game industry among the console makers, Nintendo has seen old players drop out from the console race while new ones have entered.

Microsoft's third console seems to be on pace to be one of the most vilified revelation out there. Their presentation two weeks ago touted a game console that branded itself an all purpose media hub (the reason Microsoft called it Xbox One), a box in which TV, sports, apps and the like could be ran. They also revealed a new Kinect, a more sophisticated version of their previous attempt to get a bite into the casual market Nintendo's Wii tapped into.

All these additions certainly seem nice to have, but it seems Microsoft forgot who their primary consumer is: the gamer. The reveal only showed a limited amount of Call of Duty: Ghosts (Activision's yearly offering of Call of Duty) while an announcement of a Halo TV series helmed by Steven Spielberg was touted; a TV series based on a popular video game series was viewed as a better decision than potentially showing off Halo 5.

Now, let's give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt; they stated games for the Xbox One would be announced during their E3 presser this coming week. So, putting the notion of games away, the following reasons are why people are concerned and disgusted about the Xbox One: used games, Kinect 2, and Internet. The first, used games: reports have been all over the place that the Xbox One does not allow used games or something to that effect; that a fee must be paid to play a game if a used copy is purchased. The latest reports, seemingly straight from the source, state that you can trade games to another person, but only once. This form of digital rights management has people up in arms, as they feel it is an anti-consumer ploy to get people to stop purchasing second-hand and prevents people from bringing over games to a friend's house to play (you the good old days).

The second issue: Kinect 2

"I'm watching you..."

Pretty much what our watchful sentry just stated. Reports that the Kinect 2 has to be connected and on at all times have gamers groaning and terrified at the thought. Kinect was popular with the casual group, but with a room full of, shall we say...excited gamers, the shouting commands to the device from different people would make the owner pull their hair out. In any case, this new Kinect is much more sophisticated with better tracking and voice recognition. The issue remains that if the device is on, it monitors and tracks your every movement, potentially relaying what should be a private moment to someone else. Microsoft has come out and stated that the camera can be turned off and the mic can be programmed to activate only when a certain phrase is mentioned, but it has done little to detract this mistrust of the device.

The third problem, and perhaps the biggest is the online connectivity. Microsoft has finally come out and confirmed that yes, the Xbox One must connect at least once to the Internet every 24 hours in order to play games. While that may not seem like a big deal to many people living in an area where broadband Internet is available, the same can't be said for others that don't have ready access, like, say...military overseas or in impoverished nations (putting aside the fact that this device does seem like it will be expensive). Heck, sometimes, even people with easy access to Internet would rather just disconnect and play alone (like the good old days...); it's a matter of privacy, and Microsoft would rather try to butt in. At least that's how it seems to be right now.

The whole ordeal has Microsoft fumbling around for explanations as it readies its E3 presentation, which is this Monday at 9:30am; the first of four companies having a conference before the show-floor is opened. As for me, well...the Xbox One has failed to interest me for the above reasons and no games have been shown that could potentially interest me. Well, maybe Battlefield 4, but that's coming out for 360, so if I decide to keep my 360, I could settle for that (but I have no plans to buy BF4 unless something changes regarding EA; maybe more on that some other day). Will I miss Halo? Sure, but Halo isn't The Legend of Zelda. With E3 just a couple of days away and Microsoft's presentation tomorrow, we'll see if they can provide what gamers most want: the games.

By the way, that picture of the Xbox One, the control, and the Kinect 2? It's this:

I knew it! The Great Commander in disguise! Go get 'em, Star Fox!

At the very least, the Xbox One has given me a desire to play games. Time to fire up Star Fox on my ol' SNES and bring down the Xbox One!, Great Commander!

So folks, your thoughts: are you buying an Xbox One and why?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Introduce Myself!

How does a writer entertain? He uses various methods such as scene, scenario, characters, set pieces....basically anything to keeps the audience engaged. But then the question becomes: how does the writer entertain themselves? Perhaps a blog is the way to get his creative juices flowing.

So just who is this random stranger? I'm just a recent college grad, an English major with a focus in creative writing. After 19 years of school, I'm debating whether to be satisfied with a bachelor's and just search for a career. Then again, there are times where I can't imagine not going to school, like right now, when I'm just searching for a job. I'm not a socially outgoing person, preferring the background and allowing my ears and eyes to take their fill of knowledge to feed my brain. That doesn't mean my tongue isn't sharp! I have my own opinions and beliefs, but the best way to respect one another is to be respectful and understanding of other positions. Oh, and I'm a nerd. A big nerd who wears geek styled glasses in the form of a wooden frame, a collector of playing cards, and of course, the stereotypical video game nut (viva la Nintendo). But this nerd loves Harleys; he loves them so much, he invested in one and enjoys trips along the coastline. If I'm lucky, maybe I can invest in something like a GoPro cam and show my viewpoint!

But there is one certainty of mine: I'm a huge nut for The Legend of Zelda.

D' cute!

Over two decades of Zelda has not stopped me from enjoying this series (except for the DS ones; boring premises in both; don't ask about the CD-i versions, they don't exist). I think they've played a part in forming a basis in my beliefs of the world (perhaps a little too effectively). I see the world in a romanticized viewpoint and that has sometimes hindered my prospects. Still, I can't stop thinking that the world could be a little bit better to each other, right?

So what to write about? I think I practically revealed I'm a little loopy, to say the least. I like video games. I like sports. I like motorcycles. I love to argue. I love to think. I love to read. And of course, I enjoy writing. So, how about this? The blog is titled "On the Whimsical Whims of my Mind," so why not just stick to that theme? The great thing about a blog from a relative nobody looking to make a name for himself is that I'm not restricted to blogging about only one thing; if it catches my fancy, I'll write about it. Heck, this is also be the perfect platform to present short stories or excerpts of what could be a novel. So sit back, relax, and hopefully you'll enjoy the whims of this buzzing mind.

P.S. Hopefully the introduction part was the hardest one!