Updates Once More!

So, there’s a strong possibility that you won’t see a blog up next week. That’s because my fiance is coming up this Saturday and staying until July 3rd. I may do a short one on our experience at my interview next Wednesday, but even if I don’t, I still plan to write one up regardless by the following week. At this point, between the visit and the interview, I’m too excited to focus on anything else.

Because of that, I’ve also accomplished a few entertainment-related things within the past couple weeks. For example, I mentioned that I’ve been playing “Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia” since I got it back in May. I finally finished both the main game and post-game dungeon by last night. I’m not going to do a formal review on it, but needless to say that I feel that game’s main strengths are in its story and characters (though the art is also great). However, I still prefer most of the gameplay elements found in the other 3DS titles. Despite my slow trek through the game, I’m glad I was able to finish it on time and pave the way to play something new in the coming months.

I also managed to catch a couple movies I’d been meaning to see. The first was “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” I still firmly believe that the first movie is the strongest of the five we now have, though there was plenty of stupid fun to be had in this new one. Even though they’re extremely flawed, I can’t bring myself to outright dislike these movies because I just love the world and adventurous feel to them. Plus, I’m not burnt out on pirates as a concept yet.

The other movie I saw was “Cars 3”, and while I liked it far more than “Cars 2” (that’s not hard to pull off, though), it still felt bland by Pixar standards. In many ways, it reminded me of “The Good Dinosaur” in that it looked gorgeous but felt like a wasted opportunity in places. Granted, I was never a fan of “Cars” in the first place and the characters never stood out much to me. However, I will admit that I enjoyed the references to Doc Hudson aka the late Paul Newman and feel this is what “Cars 2” should have been. It’s a direct follow-up to the original film and it’s a shame that this is what we could have gotten instead of the having to contend with Mater being in a spy movie.

So, these are some of the things I’ve been up to aside from work and my daily routine of internet surfing/chatting. Like I said, it’s doubtful that I’ll blog next week, but I’ll have plenty to talk about once I get around to it. I’m just now eager to ace this interview so I can finally move on with my life. Until next time!

 

Nintendo at E3 2017

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Another year, another E3, and that means another blog post from me. As with previous years, I went into the whole thing, not just Nintendo’s part, with few expectations. While I found some of the releases from Sony/Microsoft/Ubisoft intriguing if a bit unsurprising (though, hey, “Beyond Good & Evil 2” is actually coming), my heart was set on Nintendo like always. This year, I had the strong feeling going in that their main focus would be on the Switch, and I was quickly proven right by their Spotlight/Direct. I won’t be reviewing that in the traditional sense, as I’ve already made my stance on preferring the Treehouse segments to the initial presentation, but I was still a little surprised that it focused solely on the Switch and excluded 3DS games and indie titles.

Speaking of the Switch, while I don’t own one yet, my fiance and I fully intend to pick one up. I already want to play “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and a lot of what I saw at this year’s E3 was just as enticing. The biggest one was, of course, “Super Mario Odyssey” which looks like a blast to play and full of goodies to collect. I loved the emphasis on exploration and the lush environments, but it was the possession ability that sealed the deal for me. Besides that, I knew immediately that I’d want to play both the new Kirby and Yoshi games coming out next year. They’re so adorable, colorful, and I can see myself enjoying them whether playing alone or with others. But the biggest surprise for me in terms of something I wasn’t sure about before E3 was “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.” I’m one of those people who don’t mind the Rabbids, even though Rayman is far better, but what I was immediately drawn to was the core idea behind this game. Matching the usual Mario exploration with tactical-style battles sounded bizarre at first, but seeing it in action was awesome. It’s just such a cool, fresh concept to attach the Mario franchise to.

Now, if I had to make complaints, I do feel a quick blip of gameplay or CG trailer for “Metroid Prime 4” and the unnamed Switch Pokemon game would’ve been nice. I also would’ve liked to see some titles for both eshops, even though I’m currently low on funds. My biggest gripe, however, was the lack of 3DS games. I know the system is old now and it’s hard to say how much longer it’ll last, but I would’ve loved to see that extra bit of support for it. Aside from Nintendo showing some additional gameplay for “Ever Oasis”, which comes out next week, we only got four new 3DS titles. “Sushi Striker: Way of the Sushi” is a quirky puzzle/matching game due out next year. I liked how cartoon-y and fast-paced it was, though I can’t see myself playing it. Still, it was a brand new title and was at least different from the usual Nintendo fare. There was also the Mii-centric RPG “Miitopia”, which came out in Japan already and is coming here this summer. I tried the demo but felt it was better off as either a Mii Plaza game or something to be bought cheap.

The other two games were remakes, with “Metroid: Samus Returns” being one for the Gameboy “Metroid II” and a revamped version of “Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga” from the Gameboy Advance. I don’t have plans to get “Mario & Luigi” as my fiance and I own the whole series in its original form, but it had updated graphics like those in “Dream Team” and an additional game mode called Minion Quest. As for “Metroid: Samus Returns”, I was actually pretty impressed by it. I haven’t attempted to play a Metroid game since the original on NES and still have to try my copy of “Metroid Prime” (the first one). But what I like about this remake is how it cuts down on a lot of the backtracking these games are famous for. You can mark out locations that you’ll need to revisit once you have better abilities/equipment, and, even better, a teleport system to fast travel around maps. These elements combined with the pretty slick graphics and gameplay I saw actually has me considering picking up the game this September.

So, overall, this year’s E3 was alright. Despite a disappointing lack of 3DS support and no new eshop reveals, the games they DID show have me wanting a Switch more than when it launched. Like last year, I also enjoyed perusing the Treehouse’s demonstrations and hearing each developer excitedly delve into their games. And, as a nice treat for both Ubisoft and Nintendo fans, it was great to see Miyamoto having a blast on an E3 stage for once. So farewell for now, E3. It’ll be fun to see what you’ll offer up next year.

Post-Trip Recollections

Well, after four-ish days of going from Montreal to Cornwall, Ontario to Ottawa, my parents and I returned home Friday night. It was a nice if too brief trip and I thought I’d share it here.

Tuesday was easily the busiest day, of course. We had to fly out by 7:15am and bummed around Montreal’s airport until my aunt could pick us up before noon. From there, we got a little lost as we made our way to downtown Montreal. My aunt’s boyfriend had put in the right street but wrong number, so we ended up backtracking to Medisys (the site for my medical exam). After being forced to park along the street (pretty packed area), my parents joined me as I headed to the 11th floor and waited at reception. Since they’re a clinic that also does general exams besides immigration ones, it was a little busy. After filling out some general health forms, I was soon called by a doctor for a physical examination. It was quick and not too in-depth, which was nice. From there, the next hour or two was spent alternating between waiting and going with doctors for an x-ray, bloodwork, and eye exam. I thankfully didn’t have to get any vaccinations done, and when I went up to pay, I opted to have them mail the results to me. I’ll be checking on that this week just to be safe, but I’m just glad the whole process was pretty smooth sailing.

After getting out of some insane traffic, we made our way to Cornwall and basically relaxed at my aunt’s house the rest of the day. Wednesday was also a laid back day. My parents went for walks to some stores and an outdoor market, while my cousin and I spent time talking to each other and surfing on our computers. I even got some sun and took a walk down to the closest gas station to pick up munchies and some slushies for us. We wrapped up that day playing Phase 10 (a card game) with my mom, and my cousin easily beat us. She’s had way too much practice (lol).

Thursday, much like Tuesday, was also pretty busy but in a fun way. We took my cousin to a care home after lunch (she’s in a wheelchair) and met some of her friends there. They hang out and make things like stuffed animals, scented candles and jewelry. It gives them something to do for an afternoon and they even get to sell their stuff for a small profit. My mom was more than happy to oblige and picked up some gaudy rings and a stuffed Detroit Red Wings bear for my dad. We left the place around 3pm, and after picking up my aunt’s boyfriend, we made our way to the US border. There’s a reserve just past it that houses an enormous casino, easily the biggest one I’ve been to so far. While my aunt’s boyfriend went to gamble after helping us sign our for memberships, the rest of us grabbed food in preparation for the casino’s nightly bingo. It was also the biggest bingo I’d been to and it was a bit hectic to keep up with, since the caller was fast and you could look at TV screens to see each ball as they came up. It also didn’t help that my mom had convinced me to try playing 18 cards at once, so those games were kinda stressful. Still, we had a lot of fun and even found a little time for the casino. We didn’t win anything in the end in either case, but I’d definitely go back if given the chance.

Finally, my aunt drove us out with my cousin in tow to Ottawa’s airport the next morning so we could catch our flight back home. We weren’t too sad to leave them as they’ll be visiting us at the end of August, but it was a quicker trip than we normally would’ve liked. Despite this all initially being for me to do my medical exam, I’m glad we made a mini-vacation out of it. Now I’m just excited for the 24th to get here, ’cause my fiance and I will get a mini-vacation of our own.

Semi-Important Update

So, next Tuesday will officially kick off the final steps of my visa process. I’ll be heading to Montreal for a medical exam and then to my aunt’s house in Ontario until Friday. Since my fiance is only available to join me for my interview at the end of the month, I’ll at least have my parents for company/support this time. I’m excited to get it over with and visit Montreal for the first time as well.

However, because of this, I might not get to blog until next weekend or possibly not at all. It’ll come down to time and, honestly, whether I’m in the mood to or not. That’s not to say I have nothing to talk about either. I’m very slowly playing my way through “Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia” (fun so far) and I’m going to wrap up watching Season 5 of “House of Cards” tonight (decent overall). I might even decide to talk about spending time with my aunt, her boyfriend, and my cousin. We’ll see as the week progresses.

So, tune in next week or possibly the week after for more from me. And as a side note, despite this year feeling like it’s going by fast, I’m happy we’ve put the cold weather behind us. Bring on summer!

Owning Up

While I’ve been extremely excited to pursue my fiance visa, there is one thing I’ve still been worried about. It’s a thought that tends to pop up once a month (usually during that time of the month) that highlights the one part of my life I’m still not happy with: job stability. Moving to the States will be exciting and scary for various reasons, but one thing I’m both happy and worried about is getting a fresh start on the job front. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, but I want to take this time to clear the air.

I’ve mentioned my job woes on this blog a few times, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized just why I’m so unhappy about my situation. Sure, I have my regrets about not being able to afford to move or not bothering to get my own vehicle. Either of those options might have allowed me to find work in the city or at least commute there. And yes, I’ve been consistently down about the lack of work I’ve found. My resume is spotty at best and mostly consists of entries from fast food restaurants. That’s definitely NOT what I had in mind after my college years. Adding to that, I’m still sad that I haven’t been able to really dig deep and use the skills I acquired from taking journalism courses. I can live with only having two years under my belt, but I’m pretty sure many of the things I learned those 8-9 years ago are outdated by now.

But the thing I feel is the source of my unhappiness is a lack of confidence. When I first started working, even though I hated being at McDonald’s, I did my best and was confident that I’d find better work. Over the years, that confidence has start dwindling. The first real blow I felt was during my second last fast food job. My boss was condescending and I felt uncomfortable working there. I made mistakes (the kind where you get physically hurt – it was a kitchen after all) and often felt like I couldn’t do anything right. From there, I eventually went on to yet another fast food job and… Well, unlike all my prior jobs, I didn’t leave of my own volition. I was let go, and it devastated me because that was the one job in that field I was actually enjoying (mainly because of my coworkers).

I never had the best self-esteem growing up, but I feel like it’s at an all-time low when it comes to my job situation. I’ve reached a point where I question whether I’m even good enough to do the job. Anything I can do, someone else can do better. Now, I try my best to overcome these thoughts. Everyone is good at something, even if others might be more skilled or experienced. But I still sometimes feel like I’m not good at any one thing. My current job involves cleaning, and while I’m good at it, I know my mom (who has always had cleaning jobs) can do it faster and still make things look good. I edit videos for my fiance and, while I’m proud of the work I do, I know there are better editors than me that aren’t necessarily professionals.

Again, these aren’t thoughts that constantly go through my head day after day, but I feel that I owe it to myself to own up to them. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get a job that’s more worth my while, but I’m prepared to make ends meet if there’s no other option. I’ve started focusing on being more positive about all of it, because I don’t want this to beat me down. I’m trying to build my confidence and self-esteem back up, and I’m hopeful that being somewhere new will give me the boost I need.

Internet Personalities and Alter Egos

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It’s become something of a cliche or trope lately for some internet personalities to make videos or storylines based around alter egos. Granted, in the world of TV and movies, this isn’t a new idea. But for the world of internet videos, I can’t recall when I first came across this concept. My fiance and I utilized this idea when we made our first internet review show, but we were inspired to do so by others like Doug Walker, aka The Nostalgia Critic, and Lewis Lovhaug, aka Linkara. Both of them use exaggerations of themselves for their review shows, as well as dress up to bring in other characters. In Doug’s case, it’s for comedy or to branch out into other shows. In Lewis’s, it’s mainly for an ongoing story in his show. I even like it when creators apply a personality to something that doesn’t normally have one, such as watching TeamFourStar make up stories for their Pokemon in their various Nuzlocke series.

One thing that fascinates me is when a fandom either creates or gives backstory to alter egos. Most of the time, this is just something done within the community and without the input of the person or work surrounding it. I’ve always been a fan of lore, so I appreciate interpretations of alter egos and/or characters that aren’t given a backstory or have a vague one at best. For example, until recently, the fandom-created evil alter ego of Jacksepticeye, dubbed Antisepticeye, existed through stories and artwork that people built a backstory around. But I especially love it when the original creators get into these alter egos and make something of them. Markiplier has a plethora of them created mostly for skits that he recently brought back, and Jacksepticeye took the aforementioned idea of Antisepticeye and made it a video-based reality starting last October.

I can understand why alter egos wouldn’t be for everyone, but I personally love it when internet personalities use them. I’ve always been interested in the concept of alternate universes and by extension characters. I think it might have started with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Animorphs”, though I’m positive there were other influences between those. In the case of Doug or Lewis, I enjoy both usages of their various characters for the little bits of backstory we get as well as the storytelling aspects. As for producers like Mark and Jack, I adore how they’ve made a compromise between fleshing out their alter egos on their own and also incorporating ideas from their fans. There’s a bit of audience interaction there that I can get behind. At the end of the day, I’m a sucker for both some good lore and entertaining videos. Put them together and, for me at least, you have a winning combination.

Progress Report #2

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I didn’t expect to be blogging about this again so soon, but so much has happened in the past two days that I can’t help it. On Wednesday, our immigration lawyer sent off the last of our documents to the consulate as part of the third step of my visa application. Within the same afternoon, the consulate immediately sent instructions for the next step to myself, the lawyer, and my fiance, Richard. We were shocked at how quickly this happened and immediately started making plans with our lawyer.

To clarify, this fourth step involves me setting up appointments for my medical exam and eventual interview at the consulate. Because I wanted to make time for each thing and didn’t mind waiting a little longer, both of my appointments are scheduled at the beginning and end of June. I’m super excited and nervous, but mostly excited. I’m now that much closer to being with my fiance and it feels like it’s taken less time than I expected.

It’s hard to believe we’ve made it this far. In the course of our relationship, we’ve cherished our temporary yearly visits. However, we often talked about when the day would come when we could see each other permanently. And even though we’ve been engaged for over three years, neither of us were sure when that could happen. It’s just surreal to know that we’ve reached a point where that might become a reality.

I think this will be the last update I make on the subject until I know if I’ve been approved or denied for my visa. I’m being optimistic that I will be approved, mainly because we’ve had no major issues with this process so far. Wish us luck!