One Kid’s Video Game is Another Kid’s Raging Obsession

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngToday’s writing assignment, along with the accompanying twist, introduces us to the idea of linking blog posts together to make a kind of series. Depending on what you choose to write about, this can be a way to keep readers coming back. Just like when reading a series of novels, if your readers enjoy the first one they’re going to want to check out the second. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Today’s assignment is to write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life and isn’t anymore. Today’s twist: make today’s post the first in a three-part series.


I grew up in the video game revolution. When I was only a toddler I had an Atari with such amazing joy-stick-based games as ‘Mouse Trap’ and ‘Plaque Attack’. When I was a bit older my parents got me a Nintendo Entertainment System and I spent hour upon hour with the Super Mario Bros. The true gem of my childhood, however, was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which I got for Christmas when I was about 8 or 9.

The SNES introduced me to some of my very favorite games of all time. I spent ridiculous amounts of time playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy 3 (US version), and the little-known gem, Uniracers. And then my best friend told me about this role-playing game that she’d tried out from the local rental place (do you remember those? If not, you’re too young to understand the joy of the SNES). It was called ‘Chrono Trigger’, she told me, and to hear her tell it this game was absolutely amazing.

I rented it for myself one night, and I was immediately hooked. Chrono Trigger had amazing graphics (for the time; shut up, youngsters), an amazing storyline, lovable characters, and something I had never seen before: multiple endings that were rewarded to you depending on certain decisions and achievements you made while playing. It quickly became one of my favorite games of all time (and still is), and it didn’t take long before I’d convinced my dad to buy it for me (a wise financial decision, considering the amount of money I was pumping into rentals).

Owning the game made me obsessed with collecting every item, achieving every ending variant, and maxing out all the characters’ stats. This required a massive amount of grinding (killing enemies over and over again to gain experience in order to gain levels) that took hours and hours of my precious childhood. It may seem silly, and a waste of time to people who don’t play video games, but it was a serious ambition of mine to grind enough to get all the characters up to the maximum level of 100 (denoted by a pair of stars next to the character’s name).

I was getting so close. I had two of the characters maxed out already, three characters in the 90’s levels, and two in the 80’s. I was going to do it.

Then, one day after school I came home, grabbed my SNES controller, and turned the game console on. The screen flashed for a moment, and then remained black. I began to panic immediately.

There may be some of you reading this who are too young to remember cartridge games, but the Super Nintendo had them. Instead of disks or digital downloads we had rectangular hunks of plastic with a circuit board sticking out of the bottom that had to be pressed firmly into the top of the game console. If the game was not properly pressed all the way down before turning the console on, you could cause a short circuit that could cause all kinds of problems. Problems like deleting your game save data.

I touched the top of my Chrono Trigger cartridge and pressed down. It moved a good inch, meaning it hadn’t been seated properly when I’d turned the console on. With my little heart dancing in my chest, I turned the console on again and loaded up the game.

Empty. My game save data was gone, as though the game was fresh from the store.

I can’t describe how I felt at that moment, but it was an interesting mixture of rage and depression. To a kid, losing that many hours of gameplay on a video game is like a college student accidentally deleting the term paper they’ve been working on for weeks. I felt robbed. Robbed of hours and hours of “work”, and robbed of my victory, my bragging rights. I was certain I would never come close to touching this achievement again, and I was right. Even as an adult with a remastered version of the game on a newer console, I never came anywhere near maxing out all my characters’ stats ever again.

But that’s not the end of this tale… You see, I hadn’t removed the Chrono Trigger cartridge from my SNES in weeks. So how, you might wonder, did the cartridge wind up popped out of the console and seated improperly? Well, that’s a story for another day…

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 37

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Well, I’m a week into my shift, and believe me when I say that I’m ready to go home. No offense, Alberta, but your bone dry air and ridiculous temperature swings are getting on my nerves, just a little bit. I’m longing for the salty East-coast air and the not-quite-as-unreliable weather patterns. Also, I’m dying for a garlic fingers. Man, am I dying for a garlic fingers.

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get on with it.

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

As per usual I can’t really comment on anything this week because I don’t have a scale. I can tell you that I’ve been pretty good this week for a lot of things. I’m still drinking lots of water (although I caved twice, but I don’t think two cans of pop in a full week is really so bad, do you) and I’ve been eating fairly healthy considering that I have to deal with camp food all day every day. I haven’t been able to get any exercise, because, you know…ridiculously unfit work hours…but I’ve been trying to move and stretch a lot throughout my shift instead of sitting on my backside all day every day. So there’s that, right?

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my author platform.

It hasn’t been too bad of a week for this one either. I posted an extra video on YouTube to review the contents of my first Ipsy Glam Bag, and I’ve been trying to make sure that I tweet at least once a day. Facebook has been a little slow, but I’m okay with that because I’ve been noticing a slow-but-steady increase in followers and interactions via the other platforms. Long story short, thumbs up for this week.

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

Guys…guys…guys…I’m getting super excited. My beta-reader recently got back to me and she had only a short list of minor issues that she thought could use addressing. I’m now in the process of compiling those issues and doing a last run-through of the manuscript to make sure there are no hidden typos. By this time next week I will be fixing those last issues/typos in the main manuscript file, resubmitting to CreateSpace, and from there it will be only 24 hours before I am able to order my proof copies. Those will take five business days to come, and assuming that they look okay, I will then be able to flip the switch, so to speak, and make the book available for purchase. You have no idea how pumped I am. In two weeks my first book could be for sale. I may never sell more than a handful of copies, but you have no idea how fulfilled I will be just to have my book actually be a book. AHHHH!!!!

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

Unfortunately as I am writing this I realize that I forgot to go through and keep track of what I wrote this week, so I’ll have to do that later, but I can tell you that it’s probably somewhere in the range of 2000. I’ve been taking it a little easy this week partly because I think I deserve it and partly because I know that once Nowhere to Hide is set up for sale I’ll be putting my nose to the grindstone and working hard on my next venture. So with that said, look forward to the future! There are great things on the horizon!

Musical Moments

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngToday’s assignment and twist are all about building a writing habit, which entails forcing yourself to write even when you can’t think of anything to write, and forgetting about such nonsense as spelling, grammar, or even making any sense (after all, those things can always be fixed later). The point is to get pen to paper and just get the words down, because you never know what awesome things you might write when you commit yourself.

For the assignment I’m actually scribbling all this out freehand, but for the sake of the blog I will fix such things as spelling and grammar as I’m typing it out. So without further ado, today’s assignment is:

Write about the three most important songs in your life – what do they mean to you? Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today – and moving forward – are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.


 

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I love music – like, really love music – but there aren’t a lot of songs that I would consider to be “important” to me. I just love music in general. So a couple of these songs might seem like I’m stretching a little, but that’s okay.

“Me and You” by Kenny Chesney

It might not sound like a difficult task, but when I was planning my wedding one of the hardest choices for me was to decide what our first dance song would be. I must have listened to a thousand songs and every one felt chintzy or dumb or just didn’t fit. After what felt like forever I finally happened to stumble across this song – one I’d never heard before – and something clicked. I knew it was the perfect song to dance to with my new husband. My favorite lyric? “Just a precious few ever make it last, get lucky as me and you.”

“Now That I See You” from Disney’s “Tangled”

What? A Disney song is one of my “most important” songs? Yes, and I’ll explain. First, I’ve never stopped watching Disney movies because screw that, I love Disney movies. Second, when my daughter was an infant I happened to see Tangled. I thought the love song of the movie was very pretty, and I began humming it to my daughter when I was trying to get her to sleep. Eventually I learned the words and would actually sing it to her. Now it’s three years later, my daughter has actually seen Tangled herself, and now whenever I’m plucking at my guitar this is one of the songs she wants me to play and sing for her (she calls it ‘Rapunzel’s Song’).

The Final Fantasy 3/6 Theme

Okay, first a Disney song and now a video game song? I must be a musical philistine, right? Wrong, you close-minded fool. For one thing, quite a lot of video game music (especially RPG stuff) is orchestral, so my choice is automatically way more classy than, say, a pop song. Second, this song choice is all about the nostalgia and fond memories of my childhood. I grew up with video games, with the Final Fantasy series being one of my all-time favorites. Final Fantasy 3 (US version) was the first of the series that I’d ever played. To this day listening to that theme song brings me back to days spent with my best friend, the two of us piled in front of a Super Nintendo and a 13″ television. We thought the game was the greatest thing ever back then, and I still do to this day.

Oh, and if anyone is interested, I wrote for 17 minutes. ^_~

Things I’m Addicted to Right Now

I actually have a surprisingly addictive personality, but not for things like drugs or alcohol. No, I get addicted to games, gadgets, TV shows, products, services, and any other number of awesome things. So I thought I’d share! Here are a couple of things that I am ridiculously addicted to right now.


 

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These are things that I'm always obsessed with, but let's get a little more specific.

Subscription Boxes
As though you hadn’t noticed, right? When I first found out that these things existed it was like a whole new world opened up to me, and as a result I went a little overboard at first. I’ve therefore spent the past few months trying out different boxes to see what they’re like and what I want to continue getting. Currently my favorites are Loot Crate and Horror Block, which have both been sending me some pretty fun, awesome goodies, and I’m also in love with Ipsy’s Glam Bag as an affordable, value-packed beauty subscription. There’s a ton more options that I’d love to try, but at this point I can’t really justify spending any more money than I already am.

Once Upon a Time
I’ll be the first person to admit that the plotline of this show does not instill a lot of confidence in its quality: the evil queen casts a spell that rips all the fairy tale characters you’ve ever known out of their world and into ours, where none of them remember who they are and no one gets their happy ending. I mean, come on…that sounds more like a crappy cartoon than a show meant for adults, right? But I gave it a try, and even though it was hard to sit through the opening every time (the narrator says basically what I just did at the beginning of every episode), I soon found myself falling in love with it. The show actually has a pretty intricately-woven plot that incorporates a ton of characters, and it’s not as fluffy and cute as you might imagine…people even die, on a fairly regular basis even. Long story short, if you like fantasy and fun characters, this show might be worth a try. I devoured the entire second season just over the past six days.

Silent Hill (a la Guillermo del Toro)
Okay, okay, I can’t really be obsessed with a game that wont’ be out for, like, two years. But I’m very excited about it. The hubby and I recently played the teaser game, P.T. that was created as a way to show that the staff behind the new Silent Hill are capable of making a truly frightening horror game. More precisely, I played and he watched, because he wanted to see me almost have a heart attack. The mini-game certainly proved its point; I nearly threw the controller through the TV screen more than once. And having played it, I am super-hyped for this new game, because what’s more fun that being scared silly from the safety of your own living room?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish
Call me girly if you must, but I absolutely love this stuff. I’ve always liked nail polish because it’s a cute, easy way to look a little more feminine (plus it keeps me from biting my nails), but I never applied it often because it drives me foolish how quickly it wears and chips. Cue Miracle Gel. There are other gel polishes out there that are quite good as well, I’m sure, but this is the one I decided to try and I’m so glad I did. It comes in tons of super-cute colors, goes on really smooth, finishes bright and shiny and lovely-looking, and really, truly lasts. I am currently wearing the “Hunger Flames” color (it’s a kind of pinkish-purple) and after almost a week only the very tips of my nails are starting to wear a bit. I’m more than happy with the product and I hope that Ipsy sends me another color or two sometime in the future!

Final Fantasy X-2
Hear me out! I know that X-2 is widely regarded as one of the stupidest Final Fantasy games ever (the “garment grid” might have something to do with that, I’ll admit) but I always thought it was actually pretty cute and fun, with the story being an interesting addition to the FFX one. A little while ago my hubby picked me up the remastered PS Vita version of FFX, which came with a download code for X-2, and just recently I began playing it. Color me hooked. It’s so silly, but it’s fun, and isn’t that what games are supposed to be? Fun? Yeah. You know I’m right.

David’s Tea: Cotton Candy flavor
Last but not least on my list for today, one of the most delicious teas I’ve tried from David’s Tea yet. I wound up with a packet of this particular flavor when I decided to try their Summer “Carnival” box, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a delicious blend of green rooibos, mango, brittle, flavoring, and sprinkles (just…because), and really truly does smell and taste like cotton candy. I demolished the entire bag in about a week and had to go get some more! And the topping on the cake is that it’s caffiene free, so I can enjoy it all day long without having to worry about keeping myself up half the night.

So there you have it: my obsessions for now. Will they last? Will they change? I don’t know…give me a few months and ask me again. ^_~

August Ipsy Glam Bag Review

During my unboxing/unbagging video of my first Ipsy Glam Bag, I said that I was going to try the items and let you all know what they were like. Well, instead of doing a written review of the products I thought I’d record another video and just talk about them! Enjoy!

Do you subscribe to Ipsy? What kinds of items did you receive in your August bag? Did you enjoy trying them out? Let me know!

A Taste of Things to Come

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In anticipation of hopefully, maybe, probably, PLEASEIREALLYHOPESO having my zombie novel, Nowhere to Hide, published in the near future, I thought I’d share a little preview with you today. This is an opening scene in which the main character, Nancy, and her friend, Terri-Lynn, watch a news broadcast that reveals the existence of our first zombie…although no one realizes this quite yet… Enjoy! And please tell me what you think!


“Late last night, in Spring Garden Park,” said the male reporter, “a strange altercation took place that has left one dead and one seriously injured. The affair was recorded by one of the individuals involved. That recording has been released by the police in hopes that our viewers may have some information on the assailant’s identity, which is as yet unknown. Please be aware, the following video is fairly graphic.”

Nancy leaned forward a little. Terri-Lynn’s nails click-clacked.

The video quality was pretty terrible, and the cameraman was in no way attempting to hold the shot steady. It appeared to have been taken with a camera phone. There were four teenagers in the shot, the fifth being the cameraman, all teenage boys as far as Nancy could tell. The sixth person in the scene was a middle-aged woman, and herein was the focus of the story.

The boys were mocking her, and though it was cruel and childish Nancy could almost understand why. The woman seemed to be either extremely drunk or terribly ill. Her head lolled downward, causing a mop of long, greasy hair to fall around her face. She was shambling toward the teenagers, shuffling her feet along the ground rather than exerting the effort to lift them, and her arms fell listlessly at her sides. Her skin and clothes were dirty, as though she’d been rolling around on the ground.

The boys called out disparaging comments, much of which was being bleeped out by the news’ censor; so much was being edited out that it was barely possible to tell what they were saying. One boy threw an empty beer can at the woman. It hit her square on the top of the head, but she didn’t react with so much as a flinch. Laughing raucously, a black-haired boy stepped forward and leaned down beneath her so he could look up into her face. He made a scathing comment: “Are you even alive in there?”

The woman’s head moved upward, very slowly, and a pair of dark, empty eyes stared through the curtain of hair to look at the boy’s face. Nancy felt a chill go down her spine. Christ, she thought. Those eyes…

And that’s when it all went to hell. The thin, dirty arms rose, reached for the teenager, and clamped around his left wrist. For a moment he actually laughed, likely expecting her to either vomit or slap him or beg him for money. The reality was much, much worse. She opened her mouth, revealing two rows of disgusting, rotten teeth, and bit into the flesh of his arm with all her strength.

At this point the video got too dizzying to watch. The cameraman and the remaining teens rushed forward to help their friend, who was now shrieking in alarm and agony. Before the camera was dropped and the scene disappeared from view, Nancy saw a brilliant spray of blood. The boy’s scream made her chest go cold. Terri-Lynn’s tap-tap-tapping nails froze as she gripped the remote control so hard that the cheap plastic covering creaked in protest.

There was a lot of crying and shouting. The camera phone had fallen in a tuft of grass, momentarily forgotten by the owner. Nancy stared at the peaceful green strands as she listened to the sounds of struggle. Somewhere was the crash of a beer bottle being smashed in half. Nancy’s hand flew to her mouth as a second crimson spray of blood splashed across the camera’s screen and the innocent grass. A moment later the woman let out an inhuman screech that made Terri-Lynn wince and turn away from the TV.

The news broadcast cut back to the reporter, who now looked almost comically green in the face. For a few seconds he said nothing, then he cleared his throat and swallowed. “The young man was taken to hospital where he was treated for major lacerations to the arm and throat, and is being held in critical condition. The woman, whom police were unable to identify, was also taken to hospital where she was presumed dead due to trauma to the head. No charges are yet being placed. Any information that could identify the woman in the video is being requested by the police immediately.”

The channel cut to a commercial advertising the wondrous world of the most recent Disney film.


Down into the Dark

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Okay, time to try something that requires a bit more cognitive thought. Here comes day 2 of the Writing 101 Challenge:

Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could – and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time? Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

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Outside, amongst the sea of sand and sun, it is almost unbearably hot – the kind of dry heat that makes you long for water as though it is the one and only important thing in the world. Outside it feels desolate, almost depressing. Outside, looking out into the desert, I can’t help but think about what it would be like to be stranded out here, with hundreds of miles of cruel, pitiless terrain all around in every direction.

But inside the pyramids…oh, that’s another story. Inside the air is cooler, safe from the blazing sun. The air is musty, but in the exciting way that reminds you that few people have ever breathed this air.

Inside, when you touch the sun-baked stones, you can feel a kind of energy, like the soul of the great structure is speaking to you, whispering its secrets.
It is dark, of course, the only light coming from what we bring in with us, and that is part of the charm, the mystery. As we make our way slowly down the torchlit tunnels I can’t help but feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Even for the strictly scientific mind, a person can feel ghosts here, but that thrill is half the excitement. What is around that next dark corner? What do the wonderful drawings on the wall mean? Who was buried here, and what kind of curses may ancient people have placed on the tomb? What wonderous treasures might we find at the pyramid’s heart? What precious artifacts? What amazing and terrible histories?

These questions and more do I long to find the answer to, for sometimes reality is even more astounding than imagination. That is why I long to visit the pyramids of Egypt.