A Series of Unfortunate Dates With Russian Women From My Spambox

 

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I received an invitation to find “hot Russian girls” and look at their private photo albums.

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The savvy user may believe that this is just a phishing attempt. These people are wrong. I found myself quickly entangled with several suspiciously attractive Russian women. So attractive that they defy photographs. You’re just going to have to imagine hot platinum blonde women with perfect complexion and those ushankas on. Ushankas are pretty sexy, I’d say.

I struck up a conversation with Alyona first, and we quickly found ourselves eating at a nearby steakhouse. I remember her little quirks, how she’d wiggle the fork just a little bit when she stabbed into the hunk of meat. Her accent was thin, just noticeable if you asked her to speak in Russian or if a loanword got dropped in.

As it turns out though, my conversational skills around Russian culture needed a lot of work. It probably didn’t help that I cribbed all of my conversation topics from “Talking to Russian Women For the Willfully Ignorant”.

I began with vodka. Can’t stand the stuff, personally. Gotta have it mixed with something else. But she seemed hesitant. I pulled out topics, Tetris, communism, the prevalence of the names “Vladimir” and “Sergei”.

The conversation really got going when we talked about Lenin’s tomb. She informed me, “No, Lenin’s still alive. I don’t get why everyone thought he died and is just being preserved. He makes a pretty good cup of coffee too.”

This led me to ask, if Lenin was still alive, what else did I not know? She enlightened me, “Political decisions are determined by playing Tetris.”

Tetris! It was genius! Why didn’t I think of that? What if Alexei Pajitnov just flew in by chopper to the Kremlin? He would bring with the gift of Tetris ports, except for the iPhone one because someone royally screwed that up. How do you screw up Tetris? Maybe he has plans for the producers at Threshold who are making a movie trilogy out of it.

At that point, I could feel the tension in the air. Foregoing our social graces, we started making out on top of the table while “Korobeiniki” played in the background. Sure, I had no idea what was going on but I wasn’t about to kill the mood.

We finished up at a nearby motel, but we decided it would be best to part ways for now. I will miss Alyona, but perhaps it’s for the best. Perhaps if I check my spambox, I’ll find the next love…

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Hmm, looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me….

Where Do They All Belong?

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Photo by Routine @ Morguefile.com

Many days ago, I remember praising SunkenThought’s article in which she described the relationship she had with her husband. That was for a very specific reason, because I was at the end of a long string of lousy dates that never seemed to go anywhere. I was consumed by the cynicism that modern dating, online dating especially, engendered.

My peers have become worn out, and many of them remain single. But not just single, they’re lonely too. Many of them yearn for affection and love, but things just don’t seem to be working out for them. It is not just my male friends who feel this way, as my female friends also feel this crushing sense of loneliness. If there was a theme to the 21st century millennial dating experience, it would be the Beatles’ classic “Eleanor Rigby”.

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Rayman 2 and Nostalgia

 

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Screenshot of Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Taken by Dylan Greene

 

I don’t usually listen to nostalgia. My childhood was pretty awful all around, and I have little desire to return to it. However, I must confess every once in a while I manage to get my hands on games that I enjoyed long ago and get little jolts of nostalgimine (totally legit, I swear) from playing.

The retro game du jour is Rayman 2: The Great Escape. Released originally for the Nintendo 64 and ported to just about every console on the market at that time and beyond.

I have found that my reaction to old games has been split into two broad reactions. One is “Cool, I forgot about this!” and the other is “Ugh, I forgot about this!” Either way, memories give way to the reality of the game.

In the case of a game like Sonic Adventure, I got to rediscover fighting with the camera, playing as Big the Cat in fishing levels that make no sense in a Sonic game, and the cold realization that this and Sonic Adventure 2 was used as a blueprint for the ill-fated Sonic ’06. Not that there weren’t good moments, but it certainly lacked the sense of wonder I had conferred upon the game in my childhood.

Fortunately, Rayman 2 has not succumbed to that effect. All of the elements that I enjoyed are present and while I have gripes about small things the game is solidly built.

My main criticism, at least when it comes to the PC version, is that it suffers from “consoleitis”. This is when a console game is taken and ported to PC without much care. You can see this in the way that the controls are bound. Instead of the typical WASD for movement and building around that, the movement is bound to the arrow keys. The “A” key jumps, and the space bar attacks.

This goes against almost every PC gaming convention since the space bar is usually reserved for jumping. Short from diving into the game’s .ini files, there is no way to rebind these keys to my knowledge.

Still, once you get used to these controls, Rayman 2 is still Rayman 2. There are the Robo-Pirates, the cartoon fantasy world, and of course a limbless hero with a lot of pluck. Since it’s only $5.99 on Good Old Games, I’d definitely give it a shot!

Self-Esteem Exercises

All right, out of the winter haze. On we go! Let’s get to it!

Today, I’m going to mention a bit more about some of the hurdles of depression that I am currently going through. But more specifically, I want to mention some things that help through the times of darkness.

I recently made improving my self-esteem a priority, something which I intended to do much earlier but always conveniently had the excuse not to do. However, when I read through my draft of “One Hundred Days of Mist”, I found that it had an intensely therapeutic aspect. Something about reading the words that I wrote back that made it stronger than me merely repeating the words back to myself.

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Every Tear

Attribution Coming Tomorrow, Currently Mobile

My experience with Final Fantasy XV is slowly, but surely coming to a close. I had to start over so I could try once more with a steadier supply of gil and items. I have much to say on the game itself, more than a single article could possibly contain.

But, since I previously wrote about the soundtrack I figured it would be the best approach to start, because it is also the part of the game that I have the most positive things to say about. Not that I had a negative experience with the game as a whole, but if there was any element worthy of praise in my eyes, it would be Yoko Shimomura’s soundtrack.

I have heard some people describe the soundtrack as “disjointed”, and I think that has to do with the fact that the music’s intensity does not match the narrative’s intensity (though I think that has to do with the way the narrative is delivered in the game rather than anything that Shimomura did). However, when viewed as a whole product, I am pleased with how it turned out.

The soundtrack was quietly released on iTunes. I took the opportunity to snatch it up and give it a listen. Even though “Somus” is the main theme of Final Fantasy XV, the song that was played the most during Final Fantasy XV and the time it spent as Final Fantasy Versus XIII was “Omnis Lacrima”.

The best music in the soundtrack is built around the tone that Omnis Lacrima sets. The sweeping orchestral score, complete with choir, is excellent for conveying intense combat scenes in the game.I remember it being most effective when I confronted the Adamantoise (it seemed like a good idea at the time).

Another particularly noteworthy track was “Invidia”, which plays during the battle with Aranea Highwind. “Premonition” and “Nox Divina” are also tracks of a similar vein, which play upon summoning an Astral. When Shimomura is given the instruction to work with intensity, it brings out the best in her music. “Valse Di Fantastica” conveys a sense of triumph and adventure that

Where Final Fantasy XV’s music falters is that the other side of the emotional palette,  moments of extreme sadness, are not present. Though I fully believe this is within Shimomura’s capability to produce, the tracks that are meant to convey sadness don’t quite reach the levels that say “Aerith’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VII does.

“Sorrow Without Solace” feels too subdued, as does “End of the Road”. It feels like the listener is kept at arm’s length from really experiencing the sadness that the scenes are supposed to convey.

I think Shimomura’s talent for conveying emotion is clearly there, but I wish I could have seen the other side more clearly. While I love the intensity of tracks like Omnis Lacrima and Invidia, I also like the somber tracks that arouse a sense of deep sorrow. Somnus is the closest to get to this point, but it still doesn’t feel as impactful as Uematsu’s work. Perhaps in an another time, Shimomura will showcase that aspect in a different soundtrack. If she has produced this work already and I am not aware of it, please link it to me in the comments, because I would love to hear it!

Where Art Thou, Audience?

 

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Photo by DodgertonSkillhause @ Morguefile.com

Much like my previous ambitions to attain Discover, my ambitions for an audience have also grown. In my days at Eyes Through the Glass, I was very grateful for whatever audience I had. There were a handful of people, though I do not recall much in terms of a community.

If I recall correctly, many of my followers for Eyes Through the Glass were spambots. So perhaps the fact that there are far fewer means that I am simply not getting picked up by spambots for an easy follow.

In terms of SEO, you can find my domain if you Google “memoryofthestar”, but won’t find it if you use “Memory of the star”. I am unsure of what to make of this. I’ll probably get someone on Google to explain what is going on.

I must confess, I don’t think I do enough in terms of promotion and outreach. Part of that has to do with the fact that I prioritize my journalism and schoolwork over blog promotion. I am on Flipboard since that has the greatest return on investment in terms of audience. However, I also fell behind with putting posts up.

I do have a Facebook page but it doesn’t really generate views. Neither did my Twitter feed. Part of the difficulty is not just finding an audience, but finding the right audience.

I could go to Reddit and post, but I honestly doubt that they’d be interested in my writing style.

I also recognize that I don’t have an audience. There will be people who are interested in my autism spectrum posts. There are going to be others who are interested in hearing about board games and Dungeons & Dragons. When I finally get to writing about other geeky topics, I’m sure that’s gonna be part of it too. The difficulty with catering to a single specific audience, as I learned during Eyes Through the Glass, is that I am interested in writing about many different things. You can pull out some patterns, for certain. But I still wonder about what I can do.

And yes, I am still eyeing Discover. Though the process is that in which I submit an article and summarily hear nothing ever again. It’s no one’s fault, but I wonder what the issue is in particular.

I’ve heard the cliché a million times, “just write for yourself and don’t worry if people read your stuff” But I find that unsatisfactory. The purpose of making a blog, one that is publicly accessible, is so that someone else can read it. It’s why I’m typing on WordPress and not on Word.

I don’t want fame, but I confess that I do want recognition. Perhaps my expectations are unreasonable in that regard. If I had the money to burn on advertising, I’d take it up. But I’m a student, and still trying to find exactly where I fit in, especially since journalism is a tough field.

I have found that getting people offline to read my blog is a Herculean task. Some of my friends do, but only on occasion and usually without comment.  My thoughts have turned to attempting to establish myself as a Baltimore blogger. Currently, there is no Baltimore blogger meetup group present, so I may just go ahead and attempt to rectify that.

Until then, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. I guess I’m just going to keep writing good content and then hopefully an audience will find something that I produced.