Infiltration and Sky Base – 11/1/16

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MB2-GIF-2.gifMy trial, to prove I was who I said I was, was to walk through a hallway, riddled with Indiana Jones style booby traps. The floor tiles would depress if I put too much weight on the wrong ones. If they fully depressed, then the walls would spit arrows at me. Or at least that’s what I believed would happen. As I walked tile to tile, I prodded the next stepping place, testing it with some weight to see if it budged. After making some nearly fatal miscalculations and having a great deal of luck on my side, I made it through on a very unceremonious path. The time it took me, however, gave me away, and soon, my escort was calling for guards to take me away and imprison me for both impersonation and treason. I ran. I knew that there were others in my group, like the redhead woman, whose long wavy hair looked black when she pulled it into a tight braided bun. The other man with me decided to run as well. We quickly scaled the wall of the mansion’s courtyard and made it to the outer edge of the palace before we were stopped. Apparently word had not yet spread to these men, as we were able to convince them we had be exiled, and not charged as treasonous prisoners. They sent us to be marooned on a small sand island, that was really more of a sand bar than an actual island. As the tide came in, it became clear that the whole island would soon be underwater, and the nearest landmass was too far to swim to, especially fully clothed in noble attire. Just then, I remembered I had the ability to fly, and scooped up my comrade and carried him to the next nearest island, one that had trees for shelter, didn’t look inhabited, and most importantly, wouldn’t go underwater with the tide.

playing on the sand bar

After a short while, the locals who were hidden at our arrival found us. When they realized we were not actually of the royal guard, or whatever it was we were attempting to infiltrate, they explained to us that they too were part of the resistance, and this was one of their bases. I showed them my rank and explained to them that I believed the redheaded agent had double crossed us and was working with the enemy. They disagreed, telling me that she’d gathered a great deal of intel that we’d since been lacking, including the coordinates that the enemy had of all of our bases. I was shocked to find that my base, the floating sky base, was one of the ones listed as known, and it was scheduled to be raided and destroyed soon.

flying-sky-city-wallpapersFrantic, I needed to warn my people, but fortunately, the islanders had already beat me to it. They told me that they’d sent for an evacuation and that the inhabitants were headed toward a secret sky base, one that I didn’t know existed. I sent my captain, the man I’d saved from the water, to go lead the sky ships safely to their new location, speeding up time for them to ensure their success. Meanwhile, I was also able to see that the enemy captain’s ship would transform each night, changing it from a floating ship with sails to a luxurious modern building, that floated. I remember thinking something about a worker’s union, but that was about the extent of that.

1e9b0e56453739b078b7cbec318c2dee.jpgNearing the end, my vision flashed over to what appeared to be the third member of my initial group. The woman with dark red hair. She was in a beautiful, bright room, with mirrors and high ceilings. I heard someone ask “When did she get those tattoos?” When I looked at her back, I saw what they were referring to, but it didn’t look like tattoos to me. My view honed in on what I finally realized were the laces of a corset, the corset of a white wedding gown, with names scrawled across them. When pulled tighter, the names changed, and I finally realized that they were credits, to my dream…

~Awake~

Ride Review: California Adventure’s Hollywood Tower of Terror

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What is it?

In Disney’s California Adventure, there’s a Twilight Zone themed ride called the Tower of Terror, which opened on May 5, 2014 and that will be closing on January 3, 2017 to make way for a re-themed ride “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!” For the past month, the park has been running a “late checkout” which allows guests to ride the attraction in complete darkness.

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Concept for the remodel

 

 

The Good

tumblr_nkclj1pcmc1tw2a73o4_r1_1280This ride is amazing. The first time I rode it I was grinning ear to ear because of my love of Twilight Zone as a kid and how great that it was that Disneyland’s California Adventure incorporated it into their park. The entire building is themed, sometimes even having live period music. Much like the Enchanted Tiki Room’s waiting area and the Haunted Mansion, the story is introduced in a waiting room, playing a synopsis about the strange occurrence that occurred in the hotel themed attraction and readying guests for what is to come ahead. After, the line leads through an amazingly detailed boiler room area full with a furnace and antiqued set-up.

When the ride started doing their “Late Checkout” where guests rode in total darkness, I knew I wanted to check it out, but was surprised to find just how much more terrifying it is without lights or sound effects (aside from an eerie narration). During the 2-3 minute ride, the pauses before the drops seemed to drag on forever – letting each rider feel the tension and anxiety in everyone else, even when they couldn’t see their hand in front of their own face. Everyone was holding their breath, myself included, as the usual cues for when the fall would begin were absent.

unnamed.jpgSomething cool, is after you get off the ride, but before you reach the gift shop/picture area under the staircase, you can see the a set of feet sticking out from behind a crate. When facing the stairs as if you would walk up them, the feet are under the right-hand staircase. Ask a cast member to show you if you have trouble finding them, it’s definitely worth it to see in person.

 

The Not-So-Good

Although I think it is a good thing, the overall ambiance of the ride is about as “creepy” as the Haunted Mansion (my favorite ride), but may scare young children. If you’re planning to check into the hotel (ride this attraction) expect the line to be an hour to two hours long, and fastpasses go pretty quick, especially now that the ride will be taken out, which is disappointing considering how popular it is. It’s also important to understand that the ride does close frequently for maintenance and in cases that it breaks down, but tends to reopen in a couple of hours. If you don’t like free-fall rides, or are afraid of heights/falling, this ride is not for you, as at the top of it, doors will open up, giving riders a view of the park, before dropping them to a 130 foot free-fall.

os-disney-tower-terror-guardians-galaxy-rumors.jpgI think it’s also important to note that the Tower of Terror ride in Orlando Florida is a bit more interesting than the straight drop in Anaheim’s California Adventure. The Hollywood Studios (Orlando) ride moves not only vertically, but horizontally, taking guests through different rooms, which was less plausible in the Anaheim location because of the physical space available for the ride.

Final Thoughts

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Overall, I’d give this ride a 9/10. Even though it’s nowhere near as anxiety-causing as other free-fall thrill rides, such as 6 Flags Magic Mountain’s Lex Luthar Drop of Doom, it’s a fun, fairly family friendly attraction that will add some adventure and excitement into your California Adventure Trip. Remember, the ride will be closing January 3, 2017, despite petition to keep it open, however there are not currently any plans (or rumors) to close other The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror rides at other Disney parks.

towerofterror_mgmOther parks that have The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Ride:

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Orlando, Florida – USA)
  • Tokyo DisneySea (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Walt Disney Studios Park (Paris, France)

Writing Exercise #5 – Pictures

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Prompt #5 – A Picture’s Worth a Story

Find a picture or a photograph online and write the story of it. I find this will especially help with writer’s block, particularly when trying to come up with a new idea. Try to incorporate the emotion that the picture first evoked in you, as well as incorporating some of the visual elements in it. Don’t feel the need to represent everything exactly as it is depicted in print, and get creative with it. This exercise is to help see images and let them breathe life into a character, story, scene, or setting.

 

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Response to Prompt #4

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Me as a little “Thug Baby” my cousin (same one who tells the story) tilted my Barney hat and gave me over-sized sunglasses.

Whenever my cousin introduces me to the family, I’m always defined as “the little thug.” It doesn’t matter if he’s introducing me to his girlfriend, or my own friends, the only stories that seem to come from my childhood are violent ones, despite me not remembering the primary incident, nor do I remember being particularly violent.

Despite not being there for the incident, and hearing it second-hand, his retelling of it occurred so often, that now my parents even repeat it to any guests I bring around the house, this includes any potential boyfriends I bring over, if I let them stay near my parents long enough. So, I’ve resolved this issue by telling the story first, where after, one of my friends has dubbed me “Thug Baby.”

So the story goes: I am the only person in my family to get expelled from preschool. Apparently, if someone were to say that as a child I didn’t bite, they’d be lying.

Mostly Hair, Partially Shenanigans- October 2016

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So, I’m not going to lie… this month hasn’t been too different from last month.

Hairbrush with strands of auburn hair stuck in itIn some ways the Alopecia Areata is getting better, in some it’s getting worse. Let’s start with the bad news. I got another new spot, just above my right temple, for a total of 3. This one’s been around for a few weeks and didn’t lose all of the hair. It’s also by far the smallest bald spot, measuring in at about the size of a dime. The one on the back of my head grew from about a quarter to a half dollar and the top of my head seems to have grown, but it’s still about the size of my palm, give or take. The whole thing has been emotionally taxing, to say the least. I feel pretty drained most of the time, and I frequently burst into tears over the loss. Even though it’s unbelievably upsetting, I find myself talking about it more than I’m sure my friends would like to hear, but they’re all wonderful and let me tell them about the research I’m doing on it and my hopes/fears about getting better/worse respectively. Since my last doctor’s appointment I made it perfectly clear to myself that I’d stay positive, even if I wavered a bit on the “all the time” part. Even though the internet is full of doom and gloom, most studies, articles, and even my doctor, tell me that there’s a very high recovery rate, and the fact that I haven’t lost all, or even half of my hair is a good sign. And having my eyebrows is an even better one.

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Hopefully this will be what mine looks like soon❤

Now for the good news about my hair; it’s starting to grow back! Well at least I think it is. When I move my finger above the balding part of my head (the top of my head at least) there’s fuzz everywhere. I can’t yet see it in a mirror, but studies show that many of the hairs will grow in white and wispy-thin, and since my scalp is pretty light, I’m guessing that it’s just hard to see off a few mirrors and adequate indoor lighting. The fuzz feels kind of like rubbing my finger “against the grain” of my arm hair, if my arm hair was super short and stubbly, but the fact that there’s any hair at all I’d say is cause for celebration! I’m still losing more hair than usual, especially from the area around the balding spot… but if it all will grow back, I think I can live with having to wear a wig or a limited hair style for a few years!

Wooh, now that I’m done with the depressing stuff… things with my guy have been going great! He’s been working a lot this month, which is good, but going from seeing him almost daily to seeing him a few times a week, if that, is making me feel like a part of me is missing… which is horrible because I don’t want to be that needy person, but when life starts to feel more like a chick flick than an actual real thing, it’s nice to have that constant good. But it’s not a dream, my hair will remind me of that every time I almost forget to clip it over my bald patch!439cb5484bc7b5f7f0b5a4534af5e99be6e6e7a5c4452557ada3f7ceeb75ba12_1.jpg

As for work, I still have my same ol’ job, only now they’re having me do some social media management as the “Community Manager” – same pay. Sadly, a lot of people are leaving the company, or their contracts are expiring, as there becomes less to do on our projects and as they find other opportunities they find more suitable for them (‘tiz the nature of life). I’m also doing some additional writing as a sort of in-house writer! Which is pretty exciting for me, more than marketing for sure!

Speaking of writing, I’ve been keeping consistent with my daily writing post on my other blog Let’s Get Creative. Last month, I decided to begin writing my Flash Fiction 365 posts which are stand-alone stories of 100-365 words each and post one every day for the next 365 days. Fun, but a lot of work! This is one of my favorites so far:

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Anyway, next month, November 2016, is going to be difficult, as I plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and try to complete 50,000 words of my next book (and hopefully complete my first real novel!) All the while, I’ll still have to keep writing my flash fiction!

Wish me luck❤

And I almost forgot, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!! Happy-Halloween1.jpg

Stay spooky my friends!

Pokemon Mountain – 10/20/16

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Preface:

It’s been about a month since I’ve had an interesting dream, but my dream last night had a tiny bit of structure, so that’s what I’ll write about.


 

pokemonisland.jpgIt was late in the afternoon on the island when I began looking for them, the Pokémon that is. I wasn’t a trainer, more of a breeder or caretaker working for the professor. I didn’t know exactly what he was the professor of, but that’s what we called him, or at least what I called him. There was nobody else on the island. I walked out of the gated valley area where I had taken my nap and looked up the mountain at all of the adjacent, fenced in squares over its winding trail. Most of the pens were empty with the gates open, but a few of them, particularly over the grassy areas, had gates closed with a few creatures that were not quite Pokémon caged inside. The one I could see looked more like a pen of quadrupedal raptors with long feathered tails that ploofed at their ends. I shivered, and opened what I could only describe as my Pokédex in attempt to locate the other Pokémon I needed to get to their pens. By the time I found and returned a few of them, I got a call from the professor asking me to create a new Pokémon, which didn’t strike me as odd at all.

300px-crested_raptorHe wanted something powerful, but kept naming Pokémon that had abilities that would not combine to be as extraordinary as he was expecting. I told him that I’d come up with something, and hung up. After looking at a chart of Pokémon on my Pokédex, I decided I wanted to go with something that had a lot of flair, and that knew Hyperbeam, naturally I chose Gyarados. It took me a while to think of what to combine him with, however. I wanted something that would help to eradicate weakness as well as strengthen his Hyperbeam overall, and instead of choosing Dragonite (which I only thought of once I woke up), I went with Venusaur. Since during the dream, I didn’t realize, or care that Venusaur knew Solar Beam, not Hyperbeam, I decided they would be a magnificent combination, and began getting to work on how it would look, how to create it, and what to name it.

3.130.pngWhile trying to come up with a name, I got a call from a young colleague of mine, who heard about my predicament and what I was attempting to do. She came up with the name “Garysaur” but I could only have it if she was allowed to draft the email to the professor, begrudgingly, I said yes, and regretted it immediately. When I finally read the letter (after she’d sent it) I realized that she’d tried to take credit for the entire creation, not simply the name. Fortunately, he’d already agreed upon the Pokémon combination, so I didn’t have to worry, but I felt a sickening combination of betrayal and aggravation before I woke up.

~Awake~

Video Game Review: Life is Strange (2015)

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What is it?


An M-Rated episodic video game with an interactive non-linear story developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix. The game is a cross-platform single player game, available on Steam (Mac and PC) PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The full game is 5 episodes long, and was released worldwide with the first episode launching January 2015 and the final episode in October of 2015. 

The Good

urlThere so many good things about this game. Any of the reviews you read on Steam are just about guaranteed to rave about the game’s music, composed by Jonathan Morali. I am not an exception. One of the first things I do when playing a game is adjust the music and sound effects so that I can listen to other things (people chatting in Skype/Ventrillo or Netflix going in the background). I was pleasantly surprised that this game had an indie music feel to it, meaning the music was phenomenal and I highly recommend to any gamer to keep it audible while playing.

From the very first episode the game itself was engaging, immersing the player in the fictional town of Arcadia Bay Oregon. I was pleasantly surprised with how painless and streamlined the tutorial was. I was also excited when I saw how the game both allowed players to skip any backstory they weren’t interested in, but made sure it was there, for those who were interested or those who would eventually want to go back and get a more thorough experience. This optional depth played through in the later episodes as well, allowing for players to get exactly as much story as they needed while letting them get as much backstory and additional information as they wanted. Plus, most of the game has voice over, where Hannah Telle , the voice of Max Caulfield and Ashly Burch, the voice of Chloe Price did a phenomenal job. (I think it’s worth mentioning that the original script was in French and Dontnod had decided allocate more of the script to their voice overs and script than any other part of the game).

life-is-strange-allusionOriginally, I was going to say the shout out to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was a slightly annoying marketing ploy, but upon further research and a brief conversation with a friend about how Platinum Games, the developers of Bayonetta II, did a shout out to Nintendo for letting them make the game, I realized I couldn’t just assume that Square Enix requested the Easter Egg. I also found it cool that there were a lot of other geeky references that I enjoyed, and a few I missed during my play through.

Although the game is not very long, it is a very content rich game. One of the things I felt was done exceptionally well was Dontnod Entertainment’s ability to tell an interactive story that actually changed with the decisions the player made. Although overall story wasn’t changed all that much, the decisions the players made had an impact on the options for decisions they could have in future episodes. I loved how real they were able to make the game, despite having fictional characters and a fantastically unrealistic mechanic (time travel) allowing it to combine entertainment and engagement. Not only did the player have to think, but they often had to feel the consequences of their actions. That being said, this is not really the type of game to play while half asleep or if you want a game to just pick up and play for some mindless fun. Luckily, even though the subject matter was pretty heavy and fairly deep, the controls and general gameplay was simple to understand, making the player focus on the puzzles they need to solve, rather than the format of the controls (even though I had a hell of a time controlling the camera even up until level 5… I’m still not sure why it gave me so much trouble).

I also wanted to give the story props for hitting a subject that is seldom touched upon in games such as suicide, abuse (emotional and physical), abduction, and the gritty portrayal of victims. These along with the sociopathic portrayals can be a daunting thing to put mass market on an entertainment platform, but they were done in such a way that was both indelicate and well received.

jtrmf6djjhwsbqybmeypFinally, on the expected story path, the game was very well written, making players feel the emotional baggage. When I first started playing, I had started streaming the game on my Twitch.tv channel (a site that allows people to watch gamers play a game live). When I was about a third of the way through the first episode, someone came in my channel and told me “I hope you like crying on camera,” then left. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I cry pretty easily during movies, especially Pixar movies, those guys really know how to tug my heart strings, but I had made it to episode 5 without sheading a tear, even though I was pretty emotionally invested in the story. However, I can tell you with fair certainty, that one of the possible endings is very likely to make most players at least well up, with how it’s told (and yes, I did cry).

The Not-So-Good

SPOILER ALERT – Until “Final Thoughts”

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So the core of the game, and its story, circled around how Max had a vision of destruction, then obtained time control powers… from taking a picture of a butterfly? The way the game seemed to go was there was a phantom deer that represented Rachel, and the butterfly seemed to represent Chloe, but it didn’t make much sense to me how she got her powers, unless it was just some sort of weird cosmic happenstance to teach her a lesson… but even then, why would she have had a vision of what was to come if she kept using her powers, before she got her powers…? The whole thing probably could have been explained and/or thought through just a bit better.

ce612875d67d9f49cc27ddb7ea393186Another major problem I had with the game was the alternate ending (the one that the developers didn’t want/expect players to see). It felt like a total cop out, or something that had to be quickly thrown together because the developers ran out of either time or money. Whereas the scene that I (and presumably most) players chose first is rich with emotional hardships for sacrificing one person, the ending where you let the entire town die to save your best friend just shows the player the wreckage without any heartfelt turmoil as you get to drive into the sunset of rainbows and unicorns leaving responsibility and regrets behind you, even though you passively murdered your best friend’s mother, she’s just OK with the whole situation. It was like they just parachuted something in to “appease” those who chose an ending beside what they wanted/expected. At the end of the game, when it shows the statistics of who picked what, you find that about half of the players chose the disappointing ending (although as I mentioned before I’m going to assume that most of those were people replaying the game to see the alternate ending, because you know you were curious – I just looked it up on YouTube, but still!).

Final Thoughts

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Overall, I’d give this game a 9/10 stars, deducting a star because of the secondary ending and the lax explanation of how Max obtained her time travel powers to begin with (as well as her random psychic ability?)

 

What did you think of the game? Please leave your comments below!

Writing Exercise #4

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Over the weekend, I saw a performance called “Raw Stories” at Theatre of NOTE, a theatre in Hollywood. It was a fun event with a bake-off and some rather entertaining stories, all with a general theme of family holiday mishaps and other relatable stories. It got me thinking about all the crazy, wacky, and seemingly dysfunctional mishaps my family has; both during and outside of holiday times.

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Prompt #4 An Amusing Family Dysfunction

For this prompt, I thought it would be fun to tell a story of a “family incident.” It could be something funny, lighthearted, some sort of blunder, a slip of the tongue, or some full blown drama. The story can be pulled from something that you remember recently or that has long since past, but it has to be at least based in truth. For this prompt, try to focus on bringing the reader along with the characters, your family, and allow the story to unfold (cutting out what you think is irrelevant or less compelling for your point). This will also help to create characters that are more relatable when creating an entirely new story, as you remember people who you love and interact with acting at, well, not their brightest moments. Try to keep it to a story that could be read in under 5 minutes, or told in less than 10.

office.jpgResponse to Writing Prompt #3:

I didn’t sit outside, but here is what I heard on my lunch break at my office.

The air conditioner was blasting air colder than it needed to, it always did. It bit at my skin and made my fingers numb. I wondered if I’d ever remember to bring my jacket in. Around me, I could hear the clicks of keyboards, those who were not yet ready to leave their desks to seek nourishment. From behind, I could hear the crinkle of plastic bags and the crisp sounds of chips, they made me want to walk across the street to the convenience store and pick up a bag of Doritos chips. Behind the closed doors I could hear the faint murmurs of meetings and conference calls.