#371: The Ghost

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I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I do believe in some kind of supernatural mental space. I think every element of the supernatural can be traced back to a moment in time in which a person, at that time, felt that the horror was real, as if it really had a hold on them. Like, for example, vampires aren’t real, obviously, but vampires were inspired by prejudice and anti-semitism. The actual disease of the mind wasn’t the vampiric haunts, but rather the bigotry that enabled people to invent whole new classifications for humans in order to understand minorities.

The real reason I wanted to make this post is because I was thinking about running back to my corpse on World of Warcraft, a regular corpse run to try and restore my spirit to its body. It’s an obnoxious process (I’ve talked a lot about obnoxious behaviors on this blog recently, haven’t I?) and it’s always made worse by the fact that the spirit healer is so far from your body. Sometimes I just don’t want to run all the way across the ocean to restore life to my corpse. Sometimes I just want to get resurrection sickness and accept defeat from there on.

Being a ghost isn’t so bad when you’re a night elf, though, as you have the ability to turn into a wisp which increases your movement speed while dead. It’s preferable to being any other race while dead, and if you spend a lot of time dead, like me, it makes sense to roll that race.

Oh, who am I kidding? I just got a tattoo done for the Horde faction, and here I am advocating people make night elves. I’m a traitor to my own tattoo at this point.

But really, dying sucks in this game. I don’t know why I wanted to talk about this.

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#367: The Haunted

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Have you ever played a game called Luigi’s Mansion? It’s one of my favorite games of all time, and I think I’ve written about it before. Regardless, I’ll be writing about it again, and hopefully under a new title this time!

Luigi’s Mansion is one of those games where, regardless of how many times you play it, the gameplay never gets old. It’s a game whose gameplay is timeless and plays fluidly regardless of what year you’re playing the game in. The core of the game, sucking up ghosts into your super-powered vacuum and turning them into portraits at E Gadd’s lab, has stayed the same throughout all of its iterations. But the nature of the game has adapted over time, leading us to Luigi’s Mansion 3, which has really turned the series back to its roots more than before. Instead of it being about five different haunted places with individual levels and segments between each place, this new game returns to one big haunted place for you to explore and discover treasure inside. It’s truly capturing the feel of the original in a way that makes me pretty happy.

Luigi’s Mansion also has some personal history behind it, and I think I’ve mentioned this in the other blog post I did about the game. My friend Jimmy and I used to speed run through the game, and we took turns beating each other. I used to beat him more often than not, though, and I learned the ins and outs of the game quickly. It’s the kind of game that incentivizes multiple playthroughs because you earn a larger and more elaborate mansion at the end depending on how much money you collected and how rare the portraits are. Essentially, the game may be short, but you are expected to play it more than once to get the full experience. I kind of love that about games.

#360: The Xbox

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Get it? Because it’s #360 and the Xbox 360 was the previous generation’s console title?

Before I became a huge PC gamer, I was invested in my Xbox 360, a white and grey-colored console that sometimes flashed red with the ring of death whenever it screwed up. I used to play tons of games on it, namely Rock Band 2 with my friends at sleepovers and gatherings, Gears of War 1 and 2 with other friends during other gatherings, and Halo 3. I’ve talked about Halo in a previous blog post, I’m sure, and I think it was #343 (because of the number again.) Halo was meaningful to me in so many ways, and I couldn’t begin to encapsulate it all in 300 words. But today I’ll be discussing some of the other games that mattered to me on that console.

Castle Crashers, which wasn’t exclusive to the Xbox but I owned via the Live Store, was how I spent many nights of the week online. Bashing and crashing monsters and foes of all types with my trusty sword (or other weapons, who knows) was one of my favorite pastimes. I liked going into the desert levels especially, because there were tons of foes to fight and they served as great practice dummies. To me, sometimes the simple things matter the most.

I also played a ton of Worms: Revolution, another game that wasn’t exclusive to the Xbox but I owned anyway. My friends and I had tons of fun nuking each other across the map with missiles and projectiles and other ridiculous, wacky weapons. The game had a light-hearted feel to it and everything worked together well. I would still recommend it, to be honest, even though I haven’t touched it in years. It has a lasting appeal that’s memorable to me regardless. I also used to play it with some of my Twitter friends.

#358: The Week Ahead, Part 2

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I wasn’t able to fit all of my thoughts into the 300 word count, so I figured I would turn this ill-timed blog into a two-parter. It just makes more sense that way, and I’m pretty happy I get to occupy more time with more blogs regardless. Because I’m writing this on a Sunday, and because the week ahead is going to be very busy, it’s helpful to have a backlog of blogs scheduled so that I don’t have to worry about writing one or two or three a day when I get home just to catch up to myself. That can be extremely frustrating if left uncontrolled.

So Monday is stressful, regardless of how you look at it. And then there’s Wednesday, when I’ll be starting D&D for the first time with my middle schoolers. Those of you who know already are aware that I’m leading a D&D after-school club one day a week for an hour, and it’s always on Wednesdays. My kids are super excited, which makes me optimistic about everything and gives me hope that this will go well, but a part of me is always unsure about the uncertainty of the game, and whether I’m prepared enough to take this responsibility on. It’s a lot to deal with at once. I’m stressed about the unpredictability of it, but not so much that the students will be bored or have an unfun experience. I will deliver that for them, regardless.

Thursday I have a job interview planned, but that might not go through. I’m not sure yet. More on that later, perhaps.

Friday I have D&D again, for the first time, with a different group of people this time. I don’t know if I’m prepared enough for them and all their new rules and lingo.

#349: The Brother

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I grew up with three sisters, two full and one half. I learned a lot from them, mostly about emotional intimacy and sentimentality and taking other people’s feelings into account. That’s one of the benefits of growing up in a household with sisters. I always felt like my dad was an outcast in the house, on so many fronts. He never connected with us on the same wavelength, and he always seemed to be off in his own world in his office. For that reason and many more, I didn’t have the same connection with my dad that I did with the rest of my family. I know I’ve avoided talking more openly about family issues on this blog, for whatever reason, partially to preserve their own privacy, but considering how this blog really only serves as an online journal for my thoughts, I think it’s fine to bring them up here. It’s not like anyone really reads this blog consistently other than my mom, my girlfriend, and myself.

I remember wanting to have a brother really badly. That’s something I definitely remember about being young, is wanting another boy to have around and play games with. Fortunately for me, when Bella was young, her and I had a strong bond and we spent a lot of time playing games together and discussing life. Bella was basically the brother I always wanted, just as a sister instead. The difference is really nonexistent, which is the lesson I learned from all of this when I was young. There’s really no difference at all. Being a good big brother became my priority, whatever that meant. She helped me by introducing me to some of the students I would be teaching during my student teaching year, through her theater friends. I’m grateful for everything.

#343: The Halo, Part 1

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Well, I had to write about the Halo series for my 343rd blog post. It’s only fitting.

For those not in the know, 343 is from 343 guilty spark, a character in Halo. It also was then taken as the name for 343 Industries, the game developer studio that creates and manages the entire Halo series. I haven’t owned an Xbox since the 360, back when I used to play on Xbox Live years ago, but those times have passed. I didn’t really have much interest in buying an Xbox One or a PS4 this generation, not until Persona 5 and Monster Hunter: World, which appropriately took over my world. I had a gaming PC for awhile and that was the most important gaming system I owned. It wasn’t worth it to spend time saving up money for a modern gaming console otherwise. I had my priorities set, pretty much.

However, every time a new Halo comes out I definitely have to switch over and figure out what’s going on with it. The series has always captivated me. I played a ton of Halo 3 online, zombie mode, ranked and competitive, team slayer, whatever was out there. I consumed Halo and Halo consumed me, back in the day. I loved the sticky grenades (or plasma grenades, as I think they were called) and I used to make tons of sick plays involving them, usually throwing them cross map and landing on someone unexpectedly. And then there’s the Forge! Nothing compares to that game’s creator mode. You could literally make anything happen there, and the game modes were unreal. I played a little bit of Halo: Reach online but it never stuck with me as much.

There’s also the campaign, which was rad and had four difficulty options, along with some “skulls” that added hidden effects and easter eggs to the campaign. You unlocked achievements for completing them all.

#338: The Crossword

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Back in the day, when Alex and I first started dating, one of our best routines was hanging out on a Wednesday night and completing the Hamden newspaper’s weekly crossword puzzle together. I remember buying her a book of crossword puzzles back then, probably for a special occasion as one of our series of gifts, and we still have that book and plan on using it again tonight, hopefully. Being in touch with our former selves is a good way of rekindling past memories, and it brings character and nostalgia to our lives. I strongly support doing as many joint activities like that as you can with your partner as a way of building your relationship and making sure it has special attachments to certain things. Our mug collection, for example, has a lot attached to it and each individual mug could be its own blog post on this. Maybe one day I’ll do something like that… As a way of preserving their origins before we inevitably forget them.

Regardless, completing crosswords is romantic to us. I know that sounds super nerdy, and it is, but it’s the kind of activity we can do together that keeps our attention and uses our brains. It’s perfect for the two of us, and it allows us to collaborate and cooperate on an end goal: that is, completing the objective that is the crossword puzzle in front of us. Some puzzles are notoriously difficult and come down to the wire, where we end up having to look up a clue because we simply wouldn’t be able to figure it out with all the available hints and letters. In those moments, we don’t feel too much shame in completing the puzzle; it’s a matter of our knowledge being limited for the time being. That’s all.

#334: The Back Tattoo

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I’m pretty sure I’ve already written a blog post called “The Tattoo,” and in order to avoid repeating myself over and over again, I came up with a new title for this one, called “The Back Tattoo.” And I actually have pictures this time to match the description I’m giving it! So I’m excited about that.

Over this past weekend, Alex got a new tattoo, this time of our shared favorite character from the Persona 5 video game, Makoto Niijima. Makoto is the student council president of the game’s high school setting, and she joins the Phantom Thieves as their adviser and planner. She’s strong, smart, and deeply loyal and caring towards the people she loves. She’s also totally badass and comes up with brilliant plans that ultimately save people’s lives. As a character, I’m a huge fan of hers and so is Alex. When we were playing Persona 5 over the summer together, it was fun to talk about the characters and share elements of the story with each other. I used to text Alex pictures of their text conversations and general story happenings to keep her in the loop on things, and Makoto was one character that Alex seemed to take more of an interest in.

Having a smart character balance their maturity with their desire to fit in with others makes for a super relatable story. As you can see in the tattoo though, she’s definitely not the kind of character to pull punches. She enters the fray with nuclear magic, aikido training, and her overall intelligence to strategize and assess the situation. Now that she’s in tattoo form on Alex’s body, it’ll always be a reminder of the strength that’s required to survive and how powerful she really is. I’m super excited to see it finished in November when all is said and done.

#329: The Club

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One of my coworkers and I are great fans of Dungeons & Dragons, and if you’ve read this blog before, you probably already knew that. I’ve played the game for a long time, still don’t totally get it, but I try my best with what I have and I improvise a lot of the time to make sure things make sense. It’s not easy to just pick up the game and become familiar with it without having a really talented DM in your group who’s willing to show you the ropes. I’m joining another group soon that’s going to have a very experienced DM, and I’m super looking forward to having a better grasp on the rules.

But besides the point, we are starting a Dungeons & Dragons club after school for the next eight or seven weeks on Wednesdays. It’s something we’ve both been looking forward to, as a result of other mutual interest in the game, but also because we know it has a lot of educational benefit to students. Imagination, creativity, role-playing, mathematical thinking, creative problem-solving and ingenious maneuvers. This game is full of ways to keep players on their toes and force them to think differently before moving into a task. There’s really nothing like a game of Dungeons & Dragons. The educational benefit is clearly there, and I know that the students get excited thinking and talking about it. After our first meeting, I gained some people’s favor by discussing it with them afterwards. I think being relaxed and open about it is the way to go, and you can’t stress them out too much with the details. It makes sense to get them excited and everything but as a teacher you have to keep a calm demeanor no matter what. I’m looking forward to this week and whatever next week entails.

#328: The Subscription

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Paying a subscription to a service feels like having partial ownership of it, depending on what type of service you’re paying into. If it’s something like Hulu or Netflix, I can’t say for sure how that feels, but it’s not the same as say, owning a subscription to World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV. In those games, you are a paying customer, and you get to pay with your wallet if things don’t go according to what you like. You have to, really, because ultimately you need to justify the extra $15 or so you’re paying a month towards something. If you’re living a frugal lifestyle, that $15 could be going towards groceries or gas or insurance or what have you, but instead you’re paying it towards a temporary permission slip to play a game. Is that entirely fair?

In my opinion, yes, because they fill the games with enough content and replayability to make it all worth it. If you are frugal, then of course it doesn’t work for you, but for me, I can give away a little bit of money a month to make sure I have a stable gaming community with my friends. Sometimes just being part of a group that’s larger than your own fills you with the right kind of team spirit to continue forward.

Being a part of a guild, which I’ve spoken about before on here, is a great feeling when the guild is active and supportive of each other. Paying money to get that access is totally normal, at least in my opinion. Money shouldn’t be an obstacle to that kind of social interaction, but I understand that Blizzard needs to keep their immense server database running somehow.

And if you’re wondering about this day’s picture, it’s because I searched “sub” and then “boat” and then chose something pretty. That’s all it takes!