felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Among the things on my to-review pile is that latest entry of that exemplar of the Japanese RPG, Final Fantasy XIII.

This is my favourite series, as those who know me well know. I have four major life goals, to which I added a fifth (only half-jokingly) playing every Final Fantasy. I've since amended that to every Final Fantasy in the main, numbered series, after the flowchart of Final Fantasy only became expressible through a fractal equation.

Review continues - moderate spoilers, though no huge ones )

So yeah. Looking over the balance, the good is all character development, story, and theme, and the bad is mostly gameplay and localization. Since I play these games for the stories, I'm definitely recommending it, but there's no reason we shouldn't be able have both. I'd like to see what FF13's cast and writers could do with the programmers and translators of FF12. That would be wonderful.

I've been mostly without video games lately, due to computer failure. Though I did get to try the Scott Pilgrim game last Saturday - which even has a Super Mario-ified version of Toronto for its overhead map. And I got to guide the ever-wonderful [livejournal.com profile] em_fish through her final battle with a dragon-god last Saturday, which is always a lovely way to spend a weekend ^_^
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I started to wonder if I should send back a letter of thank you to the publisher. If it had been a straight-up rejection letter, I wouldn't have. But the fact that they included comments and asked me to re-submit it once revised, so I'm wondering if I should send a letter of thanks.

I'm lost when it comes to the etiquette of these things.

I've been working on an outline all week. I really need outlines, because otherwise I tend to lose the thread of what I'm trying to say. A lot of the criticism came down to the lack of focus, and it's true - day in and day out of writing, I tend to lose the thread of one idea and go down random paths. I'm doing a preliminary outline, and then a more structured one in a short time. That should keep me on topic.

In the meantime, Final Fantasy XIII is keeping the writer's block at bay. It's an excellent game overall, but even if it weren't, it would be impossible to hate a video game where you can make magical spears, boomerangs, fishing poles, and weaponized jacket decals more magical by slathering them in alien mucous, attaching fossilized bones, and stuffing the whole mess into a hand-held, one-use, disposable particle generator set, apparently, to "fricasee."

I'm not sure the weapons are so much "magical" as they are "radioactive."
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy belated Ostara to everyone who celebrates it.

It's been a quiet couple of weeks - writing mostly. My big disappointment was that the CBC literary Awards made their decisions, and I wasn't even on the rather large shortlist. I figured that would be the case with my short story, which wasn't very good. But I really thought my poetry was good enough this year.

(I still haven't heard back for my novel.)

I've been reading The Malleus Maleficarum, mostly as research for a fantasy novel I'm working on. It was the main how-to manual for witch hunters in the Middles Ages. And it is strange. So much of it is about sex - how incubi impregnate women, how witches cause impotence. There's also lots of medieval reasoning, lots of medieval science.

(I love medieval science. Did you know the reason that comets foretell the deaths of important people is that they cause them? Turns out that comets are of a hot, dry nature, and the rich and powerful are fed hot, dry foods. Comets passing over cause the already unbalanced yellow bile to turn critical, resulting in death. the more you know!)

Other than that, I've been playing Final Fantasy XIII. Brilliant so far, except for having Anne of Green Gables in my party. Well, specifically, Anne of Green Gables, Destroyer-of-Worlds. All the other characters are great.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

I just wanted to note that I'm back from BC. It was a very quiet trip -- I spent most of my days there hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] node357, which was nice. He composed some new music while I was there, and showed me Psychonauts, which really does deserve its reputation ^_^

I also saw a couple of friends I hadn't seen in about fifteen years -- all thanks to the miracle of Facebook. I never did get to Vancouver this time, though, so that'll have to wait for Yule.

The best pleasure though -- aside from seeing [livejournal.com profile] node357 -- was that of seeing the place itself. Montreal is toxic and grey and cemented compared to that greenery and clean air that is BC. I like Montreal because most of my friends are here, but except for the Old Port, and some of the older stone houses and parks, I have to admit I consider this a very ugly and polluted city. Too much concrete, and too few growing things.

Airports continue to get more and more surreal -- they've always bothered me because the waiting areas between flights are really non-places that drift detached from anything in a bland emptiness where things get sold. In other words, they're Postmodernism incarnate.

The Pearson airport in Toronto has a particularly weird waiting area. There's a stall there that sells jewellery trees for little girls, in the shapes of princesses whose heads and arms have been replaced by necklace-and-ring-holding tentacles. My first thought was Jenova from FFVII, or something out of Lovecraft.

Not much else to report -- I did not defeat any ninja armies this time around. I wanted a good start on the major edit of my novel, but only got about one-quarter in. It's almost a third finished now.


"If there are one or more people on your friends list who make your world a better place just because they exist, and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the Internet, then post this same sentence in your journal."

(I'm lucky in that this applies to probably most if not all of the people I've friended.)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I was an absolute zombie yesterday -- I wasn't feeling well, and lack of sleep finally caught up to me. I slept for about 14 hours. I can't remember the last time I did that.

Today I've been taking it easy -- a lot of writing, some reading, but little else.

Replaying Final Fantasy Tactics again. The poaching sidequest is one of those aspects of their pop culture that has me wondering about the Japanese.

I mean, it starts off normally enough -- the object is to collect and breed creatures that fight for you. Fair enough -- seems to be an attempt to jump on the Pokémon bandwagon.

But then they have you flay your creatures alive and trade their pelts for items. This is particularly disturbing, as several of the species are clearly sentient. Both the goblins and piscodaemons wear clothes, for instance, when you find them in the wild.

On the scale of disturbing Japanese pop culture, I think that one has to be high.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I just finished Kingdom Hearts I. I have to admit to admit I avoided this one for awhile -- Disney makes me squeamish and even a Disney-Final Fantasy crossover made me worry.

Review of Kingdom Hearts, spoilers included )

For those with no interest in video games, I'll just mention that there's a black squirrel here in Verdun, living in a tree on fourth avenue.

This is significant -- Montrealers are always fascinated by black squirrels, and often tell me that there are no black squirrels in Montreal, that you only find them at Oka, or up in the Laurentians, etc.

I've nicknamed him Kokki. Fans of 12 Kingdoms will know why ^_^
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Today is the fourteenth anniversary of my coming out as gay, at age 16, so I thought it deserved a post ^_^

It's been a quiet couple of weeks. Work has been non-stop lately, and we're mostly just trying to keep our head above water because the company is expanding so quickly. Everyone's a little frazzled. But I haven't been working as much lately, so it's taken less of a toll on me.

I'm almost two-thirds through my re-write. Some parts are being heavily re-written, others are mostly the same.

I finished Irving Layton. It's a little like reading poetry by the X-Men's Magneto, which makes me wonder who the Charles Xavier of Canadian poetry would be.

Otherwise, I've been quite immersed in Final Fantasy XII. It's a very long, very complex game. The story and character development are both good, but it seems that the main character gets the least development of all.

One aspect of the game that fascinates me is its use of archaic, rare, or very British words -- "sundries," "paling," "docent," "jape," "lambent," "grimoire," and "mummer" to name only a few. Only twice have I had to go running to a dictionary. They use "aceldama" as a general noun, and the word "togail" which seems to be Gaelic. Their use of "togail" seems incorrect. From what I can tell, the word means something like "building" or "construct," and the context seems to imply a part of a book.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Hello. Sorry for the long silences -- I've been mostly internet-hibernating, lately. I've been very gradually moving through my f-list, but I've mostly only been checking up on a few of you who I know have been having a hard time lately. Mostly I'm in internet-detox mode. Too much time spent here doesn't seem to be healthy for me, and puts me in an unpleaant state of mind.

I'm getting a lot of hours in at work. I've been writing -- one month after my rewrite began I hit 57,000 words. I've been reading Irving Layton in little bits -- I'm mostly past his really bad and Social Darwinist poems and into the rich nature poems he was writing towards the end of his life.

Other than that, I've been dabbling in Final Fantasy XII. Not very far into it, but it's a brilliant game, in spite of its tendency to rip off Star Wars. Still, it generally does it much better than George Lucas ever did.

Replacing Han Solo with a gentleman pirate was an inspired choice, though replacing Chewbacca with the ultimate Playboy bunny was not. Chewbacca should not be replaced by anything wearing a steel bustier.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
You know, two literary forms have all but vanished from the West: the tragedy and the epic. The tragedy lingers on in romance novels, and the epic occasionally surfaces for air in science fiction or fantasy, but on the whole they've been banished -- especially in mainstream media of any kind.

The explanation for tragedy is that we're addicted to happy endings, and don't want anything depressing. As for the epic, a professor of mine offered this explanation:

"Epics are about nations, societies, and peoples. We're too self-absorbed to care about anything on that scale."

But I don't think either is necessarily true. I can't help but wonder if the incredible popularity of Japanese pop culture -- anime, manga, and video games -- is in part because the Japanese are not afraid to work with tragedies and epics.

And the same pleasure that's always haunted these two forms is still very much there.

I got to thinking of the later Final Fantasies as visual epics -- and got to thinking that maybe that's deliberate. The grand scale of events, the beginning in media res, prophecy, the elements of tragedy mixed in. Even the summonings are like periodic invocations of muses.

And in Final Fantasy 10, at least, there's a deus and quite a few ex-machina ^_^

Seriously, though, it's not as farfetched as it sounds. Video games are very slowly drawing the attention of people who are willing to look at their literary qualities -- though most critics are still thinking of them as empty escapism, the way novels were thought of 300 years ago when people were told not to waste their time with them.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
As long promised to [livejournal.com profile] maidenoffirisa, I have uploaded the complete guide to the date with Barret in Final Fantasy 7. It was too long to do as an LJ post, so I did it as a webpage, which is here.

I was going to say that it would be probably of no interest to anyone besides her, but there are a fair number of my fellow video game geeks here, aren't there?

And I know two people here are playing the game and haven't finished it yet, so a SPOILER warning is in effect.

Feeling a lot better. Still very slightly queasy, but I haven't thrown up. The diarrhea seems to be gone as well. I managed to edit and write 15 pages today. I think I may brave the outdoors to do a few things today.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
  • My favourite classmate in Canadian Lit pointed out something last night: it's very strange that poppies are now a symbol of remembering in Canada, considering they're used to make opium. That drug are most associated with forgetting. I know the reason of course -- everyone in this country knows about "In Flanders Fields" and John McCrae. But it's still an ironic choice of flower.

  • I got nearly 7 pages done on my novel yesterday, but today I'm not quite finished one. So I'm procrastinating. a bad habit to be in.

  • Famous Last Words comes highly recommended. Very good, but very disturbing. It's hard to tell the edges of reality and fiction, there, since it's so well-researched, and most of the characters were real people. Every time I run into something where I think, "He must have made that up," I check it up and it's true. It's disturbing.

  • According to [livejournal.com profile] archdiva's Final Fantasy personality meme, I'm Yuna. This will probably be of most interest to [livejournal.com profile] em_fish :)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I think I'm mostly recovered from the weeks of chaos. After a couple weeks of cramming myself full of PoMo, Susanna Moodie, Carl Jung, and Margaret Atwood those last two weren't so tedious), I have resolutely refused to learn anything this week.

And I have kept my promise to myself. The only thing I learned today is that the evolution and genetics of Final Fantasy's Chocobos would make both Darwin and Mendel spin in their graves.

This has been a good week for clearing my head. A few times, I've felt more alive than I have since my complete breakdown four years ago. I feel like I'm getting back something I thought lost for good.

[livejournal.com profile] montrealais, when do you get into the airport? I may not be able to meet you, if it's during class. I can't get out of tomorrow :/
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
This week's disasters have begun to peter out. My presentation was a success last night, which is good because it counts for a whopping percentage of the mark. Everyone looked bored, but then everyone always looks bored at these things. I tried to make it less boring by talking more about Atwood and Jung than the Samurai Susanna, but I gave the second major presentation of the night, so everyone was just falling asleep.

After me there was a presentation on some of the work of Catherine MacKinnon. One of her usual bait-and-switch, non-sequitor arguments used to demonize pornography by association ("In the 19th century, there was a lot of abuse of women in psychiatric institutions by male doctors. Here's the proof it was going on. Now, isn't porn evil?").

We didn't have time for class discussion after three presentations, so I didn't have a chance to rip into her. For those of you who don't know, MacKinnon's crusade for censorship has played a major part in the persecution of queer bookstores by Canada Customs. If it weren't for hers and Andrea Dworkin's briefs to the Supreme Court, Little Sister's and other bookstores wouldn't have to face the tyranny of Canada's most backward public institution.

Anyway, I have my ticket now to Advent Children -- today's English Tests were right near the theatre, so I ran out and grabbed it. I've never been as excited about seeing a movie in theatres as I am this time, especially since so few theatres around the world will be playing it.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I found out that Advent Children is playing on the big screen here in Montreal, for a little less than the price of a normal movie. We're one of the few places in the world with big-screen showings, which is good because my many efforts to procure myself my own copy keep running into snags. Tickets went on sale today, and they're almost sold out already.

I have high hopes, though movies based on video games are notoriously bad. Then again, most video games are notoriously plotless, and Final Fantasy VII is the the name that keeps cropping up in any argument I've read for video games as an art form.

It's a rare gem in a mostly-wasted medium, with brilliant plot twists, traceable literary inspirations, well-developed characters, well-thought-out ideas. It also has a lot of queer content, which always endears any story to me, though it doesn't sound like any made it into the movie.

(I'm still amazed at the lot of things they got away with in the game, given the censorship of all things Japanese when it came out, and the usual perception of a video game market aimed entirely at macho teenage boys.)

My own writing is continuing well, though despite my best efforts to put together something for my class presentation on Tuesday, I'm still drawing a blank. I work best under pressure, but I don't even have much of an idea at this point, and shall likely spend Sunday and Monday in the library.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
After the chaos of the last few weeks, I had a rather relaxing day, doing nothing. I've only written one page so far.

I did start Solomon Gursky Was Here, and it is so nice to read a real book after all that abstract lunacy. I'm not that far into it, but I think I'm going to like it. It's hard to hate a book starts with an apocalyptic cult running orgies out of an igloo in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in 1851.

Ran into an old co-worker today, a man so shallow he's almost see-through -- homophobic, and with vague criminal tendencies (I caught him trying to "borrow" a customer's money, without permission). I was amused to find out that he barely got his bachelor's degree (Concordia let him pass with three D's and an F), and that now he's applying for post-graduate work in Toronto.

He's heavily involved in politics, being an important member of the youth wing of the Liberals, the party in power right now. Somehow, this seems to explain the country.

Other than that, I've done nothing all day but play video games, a rare treat nowadays with so much to do. I love Final Fantasy V. I doubt any role-playing video game published in North America would ever allow a male character to be a member scantily-clad dancer class. My dancer is currently wearing the "rainbow dress" armour, the "red shoes" accessory, the "magic hair ribbon" helmet, and wielding a weapon called a "maneater dagger."
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I present to the thermonuclear warhead of annoying, the postmodern mime (from Linda Hutcheon's book):
"The very walls of the traditional museum and the very definition of art come under fire in the performances of Albert Vidal, for instance. His "The Urban Man" is a kind of anthropological performance ritual in which Vidal spends five hours a day in a major public place in a city (Miami's Metro Zoo or the Place d'Youville in Quebec City) offering to passers-by an "exhibit" of postmodern man about his daily business."
What is "postmodern man's" daily business? Deconstructing his groceries? Turning office memos into historiographic metafiction? Informing his boyfriend/girlfriend that love is a bourgeois concept and a construction of language, and that the "I" in "I love you" is a signifier that cannot be tied to a signified beyond language?

Oh well, there are reasons to be happy. I finally polished off more than 8 pages yesterday on my writing, though I've hardly done any today. Plus there's Advent Children to look forward to. And there was a gorgeous gay guy sitting next to me this evening in the internet place, so that made me happy :)

As for work, wish me luck. I'm going to be leading the placement test tomorrow, from 9 am to 4:30 pm. I even have a one-member "team" to help me with the interviews.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Probably the only people who care about this already know, but as [livejournal.com profile] seal7told me, Final Fantasy Advent Children is now out.

This will make up for having the wade through all this PoMo crap this terms.

Also, I've written nearly 7 pages today on the new novel, and I'm half finished a new short story.


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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