Hello, World

I fucked up my life. In high school, I was a straight A student who graduated sixth in my class of over 800. I was accepted to the University of Texas as an honors biomedical engineering student with a full scholarship. My first semester GPA was a 4.0.

Then I screwed it all up. My grades slipped, and I lost my scholarship. Engineering became philosophy, bringing constant questions of “Philosophy? What on earth are you going to do with that?” After five unsuccessful years, I dropped out and moved back home to live with my parents. While my friends were graduating and moving on to great careers, I started working again at the same grocery store I bagged at during high school.

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The Flaws of Final Fantasy XV

Full spoilers for Final Fantasy XV follow.

I hated Final Fantasy XIII. After years of hearing how great the series was, FFXIII was my first numbered entry in the franchise, but the game was a major letdown. Outside of Lightning, the characters were annoying. The game begins with a twenty hour tutorial. The level design is nothing more than straight corridors, and the battle system basically plays itself. I gave up on the game before I felt like I had even finished the introduction.

After being burned by the series, I was hesitant to pick up Final Fantasy XV especially after hearing so many negative reviews and comments on it. But I still gave the game a try because of the amazing trailer featuring a cover of “Stand By Me” from Florence + The Machine. Epic fantasy games are overdone, but coming of age buddy adventures are less traveled territory in video games. I picked up the Royal Edition in order to give the game a chance.

What I played was definitely a flawed game. Even with the additional content Square Enix has put out since the game’s release, so many areas of this game are lacking. After a decade of development, the game still feels unfinished. In fact, that long development time is probably a huge cause of FFXV‘s disjointed feel because of how often the developers’ vision changed. There is already plenty of discussion online about Final Fantasy XV‘s flaws. I will not bother rehashing those problems in too much detail, but here are some of the game’s biggest mistakes: Continue reading

King Slayer

For 24 hours, my hatred for the Lakers was renewed. LeBron James left Cleveland and signed with Los Angeles. No matter what your specific list of top 10 professional basketball players entails around half of them have been on the Lakers at some point in their careers1)Imagine you had a time machine allowing you to field a team of the Lakers’ all time greats at their peak powers. Here is what my starting lineup would be: PG-Magic Johnson, SG-Jerry West, SF-Elgin Baylor, PF-LeBron James, C-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I am not sure if those are the 5 best individual Lakers, but it is the best team possible if only to have Kobe and Wilt coming off the bench. Both of them would be playing with chips on their shoulders, and we would get to see Wilt get 40 assists and Kobe score 80 points every game.. The rich get richer.

But then DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Warriors. The greatest team in the NBA signed another All-Star, and they got him for the veteran minimum. Next year Golden State will be better than a superteam made out of the best players from the entire Eastern Conference. The NBA is fundamentally broken right now. We might as well award the Larry O’Brien Trophy right now, and Golden State’s dominance shows no signs of letting up. Continue reading

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Imagine you had a time machine allowing you to field a team of the Lakers’ all time greats at their peak powers. Here is what my starting lineup would be: PG-Magic Johnson, SG-Jerry West, SF-Elgin Baylor, PF-LeBron James, C-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I am not sure if those are the 5 best individual Lakers, but it is the best team possible if only to have Kobe and Wilt coming off the bench. Both of them would be playing with chips on their shoulders, and we would get to see Wilt get 40 assists and Kobe score 80 points every game.

A Defense of Easy Mode

Michael Phelps swam a lot. Tiger Woods golfed for thousands of hours. Steph Curry took a ton of 3-pointers. Practice often develops excellence but not for me.

I have played thousands of hours of video games, but I am still terrible at them. I will confidently pick the standard difficult level and then proceed to die over and over again. Most of the time, I will give up within a few hours and restart on easy. This happens so frequently that I now often just start on the easiest setting. Continue reading

My Worst World Cup Losses

Soccer is usually only a passing interest of mine. I will catch a Premier League match if I am up early on the weekend or a Champions League one if I have a random day off in the middle of the week. However, soccer is not an obsession of mine like college football or professional basketball.

Except when the World Cup comes around. Every four years my social life gets put on hold as I try to catch every game. I will quickly form passionate opinions on players like Neymar and Mo Salah. I will support a team based solely on how good their uniforms look.

As an immigrant from the UK, football is in my blood, and I am forced to support both the England and USA international teams. Yet my love for the World Cup is more than genetic; several reasons make it the world’s greatest sporting competition: Continue reading

Rockets/Warriors: Infinity War

Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follow.

Sometimes I like to feel depressed. After a long day at work, I will listen to the Smiths, watch a sad episode of Scrubs, or remember that Donald Trump is president. Embracing your inner darkness feels good from time to time.

This summer I have been able to add a new piece of media to my list of depressing works of art: Avengers: Infinity War. I have already seen the movie multiple times, and despite (or perhaps because of) its heartbreaking ending, I have already fallen in love with it. Sometimes the bad memories have the largest impact on us.

The other event of the summer for me was the Western Conference Finals. All year, I have looked forward to Rockets-Warriors. Now that it is over, it too can join my list of depressing things to torture myself with. Multiple moments and lines from Avengers: Infinity War remind me of this NBA series. Let’s take a look back at how Rockets-Warriors 2018 went down. But first, let’s ask, Which Avenger is each Rocket? Continue reading

3 Dishes, 3 Observations

Photo by Lou Stejskal. Used under Creative Commons license.

Oxtail Stew

The world is unfair. Mean people can be successful. Nice people get stricken with terminal diseases. Karma does not exist.

Except, perhaps, with cuts of meat. Most meats fall under a continuum with flavor on one side and price/ease of cooking on the other. Take, for example, the filet mignon, which is expensive and takes only a few minutes to sear. That steak is tender and tasty, but it is a little bland and forgettable. Continue reading

The Possible Letdown of LeBron Going to Philadelphia

The NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals have been a huge letdown. Philadelphia has barely avoid getting swept by a Celtics team missing their two best players. And after a difficult first round, LeBron and his team of nobodies have demolished the Raptors. Neither the Celtics nor the Cavaliers deserve to play in the NBA Finals, but one of them is almost certain to make it.

LeBron knows his team is bad. The Cavs have been a flawed team both before and after the trade deadline. At times during the regular season, LeBron James looked listless and rightfully so when you look at whom he is playing with. The situation has not improved in the playoffs. Kevin Love, JR Smith, and Tristan Thompson have had at most two or three good games apiece during the first two series, and everyone else on the roster has been completely forgettable. Continue reading

Nier: Automata – Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story

Full spoilers for Nier: Automata follow.

The least attractive quality a woman can have is being in to me. Too much interest is going to make me bored. Also, being attracted to me is an obvious indication something is wrong with you because clearly you need to raise your standards. I should always be the reacher in a relationship.

This is why I am attracted to girls with a bipolar personality. I want someone in my life who can be the kindest person one moment and then say psychologically damaging words immediately afterwards. Love and hate should always be intertwined1)This is not healthy..

And that is the reason I love Nier: Automata. Continue reading

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. This is not healthy.

The Magic of Marvel

In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker and his classmates compete in Academic Decathlon. I love that AcaDec is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because I competed in it my senior year of high school. In fact, academic decathlon class was where I first heard about Marvel’s grandiose plan. One day during seventh period, a classmate of mine was talking about the Avengers movie. He said they would have to make Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor films first. And I remember thinking, “That’s too many movies. This will never work.”

Boy was I wrong. I have loved the MCU since the release of Iron Man and seen every single one. Seeing tribute videos makes me incredibly emotional.

My opinion is not unique. Walking into a comic book shop can be an off-putting experience. I walked into one this weekend. A group of teenagers was playing a tabletop game. Another group of middle-aged men sat across the room talking comics. Even for a nerdy loser like me, a comic book shop can be too dorky. On the other hand, everyone can talk about the movies. Continue reading