Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Hearthfire, week 1

Monday was my last day of work at my other job. And it was complete and utter chaos. Due to the chaos of the previous day, nothing was really completed on beforehand so we were late and stressed already in the beginning. All the drivers arrived on time, but nothing was completed on time, and in the end we finished at 4.30pm. That's 2 ½ hours overtime. When I left the place I got a notification from my phone's pedometer saying I'd had my "best day yet". I was kind of afraid to look at what it said: 37,042 steps, 29,82 km! That's crazy. No wonder my feet hurt for two days. But after this day I was free from work for three days and so I didn't go to bed early. I stayed up for as long as I could watching Charmed and playing The Sims Medieval.

Tuesday to Thursday I had nothing planned but doing laundry on Tuesday. So I spent those days doing nothing much else but playing Far Cry 3. Still working on that backlog and will be for some time!

Friday was work and after work I spent a few hours playing Pokémon Go. I caught my first Vulpix and an Arbok, and I also managed to evolve into a Nidoking! :D When I got home I played Far Cry 3 until bedtime.

Saturday was a lot like Friday. After work I spent some hours playing Pokémon Go. I managed to catch a Mr. Mime, Hitmonlee, and a really bad Rapidash (so I'm keeping my Ponyta until I can evolve it or catch a better Rapidash). I also managed to evolve into Weepinbell and Rhydon.

Sunday was a long day at work and so after I finished I went straight home. I didn't have the mental energy to play something new where I actually had to think so instead of Far Cry 3 I continued on my previously started playthrough of Oblivion. Felt really good not having to go to bed early. No more getting up at 4 am to go to work! :D

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Some Hello! Project musings

I have to make this post although I don't think anyone except for me will find it interesting. But it's my blog and I need to get this off my chest.

In 2006 I fell into the world of J-pop. What mostly caught my eye was Morning Musume and from there I became a fan of all of Hello! Project (the agency to which MoMusu belong). The concept of having members graduate from a group and then audition for new members to join was very new to me, as was the whole idol concept - and I loved both. I was sick of the overly sexy Western pop music (still am). If I wanted pop music I wanted fun and upbeat pop music (still do) for every other mood I go with rock, but nothing lights up an early morning like J-pop. But with the graduation thing also came the thing that the member roster was constantly evolving. Next year nobody will be left in H!P from the time I started in 2006. Not even the original manager is still there. I feel like I'm watching an era come to an end. And I feel old.

Back in 2006, the agency was a lot more bustling, with several groups and soloists being active at the same time. Since then, not only the line-up but the music itself has changed. Let's take a trip back in time.

Line-up 2006:
• Morning Musume (Sexy Boy ~Soyokaze ni Yorisoutte~) [First song I ever heard by them]
• Berryz Koubou (Jiriri Kiteru)
• C-ute (Wakkyanai Z)
• v-u-den (Issai Gassai Anata ni A-Ge-Ru) [Famous for fan service]
• Melon Kinenbi (Onegai Miwaku no Target) [First song I ever heard by them]
• Country Musume (Kakumeichikku KISS)
• Goto Maki (Ima ni Kitto... In My Life)
• Abe Natsumi (The Stress)
• Maeda Yuki (Omae no Namida wo Ore ni Kure)
• Matsuura Aya (Suna wo Kamu You ni... Namida) [Love her voice]
• DEF.DIVA (Let's Go Rakuten Eagles)
• Tsukishima Kirari (Koi Kana)
• GAM (Melodies) [Famous for lesbian undertones]
• Tomoiki Ki wo Uetai (Minna no Ki)
• Nakazawa Yuko (Urara) [Love her voice]
• THE Possible (Young Days!!)
• Hello! Pro Egg (Sora ga Aru)

Line-up 2016:
• Morning Musume '16 (Utakata Saturday Night)
• C-ute (Jinsei wa STEP!)
• ANGERME (Itoshima Distance)
• Juice=Juice (Karada dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai)
• Country Girls (Ran Ra Run ~Anata ni Muchuu~)
• Kobushi Factory (Osu! Kobushi Tamashii)
• Tsubaki Factory (Hitorijime)
• Hello Pro Kenshuusei (Oheso no Kuni kara Konnichiwa)

When I spend time on tumblr a part of me thinks it's cute when fans think they've been in the fandom long when they started in 2010 or 2013. Another part of me thinks it's good - we're gaining more fans overseas (from Japan) and they need that! But here I am, feeling like a grandma telling tales from ancient times. I remember Morning Musume's 8th gen audition vividly (currently there's an audition for 13th gen), and the confusion that arose with the addition of two Chinese members back in 2008. I remember when one member was literally kicked out of the agency for underaged smoking and relations with a much older man (Kago Ai). I remember when a member of Morning Musume resigned without a graduation concert for having a boyfriend after just one month as the group's leader (Fujimoto Miki). I remember the amount of clamor and confusion when another member announced at a press conference that she was getting married and was already pregnant (Tsuji Nozomi). I remember the horror as I learned that one member's newborn son had passed away (Iida Kaori). I remember the pain of the 2009 graduation, when all the members over 20 years old graduated the agency together. I still watch that concert from time to time and cry my eyes out as all my favourites leave.

The old line-ups are still stubbornly stuck in my heart, but I can't say I follow the ongoings of the current line-up as closely. It can go months before I listen to a new single, while before I listened to it the day after it was released. I hardly know any of the members anymore, and I feel like there aren't any good places to find out. The best places to get to know the members "in the old days" were Utaban and Hello! Morning. And none of those TV shows are around anymore.

So here I am in my own little bubble feeling like the oldest person in the fandom on tumblr. But that won't stop me from continuing to love Hello! Project and keep on supporting and following both old and current members.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Playing Skyrim quest mods: Pit Fighter & Pit Fighter Travels

This mod is basically what it sounds like. It adds an arena in Windhelm and you fight in it and go up ranks. From what I've read the original plans for Skyrim was to have an arena in Windhelm, the game's code includes codes for an arena there, but it was scrapped before release.

What I expected when I got the mod was the arena quest from Oblivion. I was wrong. It was so much more. First of all, all the fights don't take place in the same arena. You get to choose where you want to fight: Windhelm Arena, Ratways of Riften, Orcish Stronhold, Imperial Fort, or a smuggler ship. As you go up in rank you can challenge different champions. There's one for each arena, and with every victory against a champion you're rewarded with a unique weapon, which gets added to your trophy room in the Windhelm Arena.
 The Windhelm Arena, the Ratways of Riften, the Orcish Stronghold, the Imperial Fort, the smuggler ship

The mod Pit Fighter also has a sort of DLC called Pit Fighter: Travels. This DLC-mod gives you the opportunity to compete in arenas around the continent: Summerset Isle, High Rock, Valenwood, and Morrowind. As in the previous mod, you can challenge random enemies or a champion and with each victory against a champion you're rewarded with a unique weapon.
 The Summerset Isle arena, the High Rock arena, the Valenwood arena, the Morrowind arena 

I think that I was over-leveled for this mod in general, but I still liked it, and at least the arenas in Summerset Isle and Valenwood offered some challenge (as in I couldn't one- or two-shot the enemies there). If you want to get the most out of this mod you should not be level 70+. Just saying. I was overleveled even for the unique and pretty weapons. Nothing can beat my character in full-on dragonscale armour and dragonbone weapons.

The trophy room really looked nice in the end, though :)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Last Seed, week 4

Monday was work as usual. On the bus home I caught a Charmander that finally enabled me to evolve into Charmeleon :D When I got home I mostly just watched Charmed until I went to bed.

On Tuesday I finished Moonpath to Elsweyr and then started up yet another playthrough of Dragon Age Inquisition as intermission between games on my list. The question is whether I'll actually go through with this one or if it will be added to my pile of started but uncompleted playthroughs. But that's basically all I did this day.

On Wednesday I started up a new Skyrim quest mod called Pit Fighter and started playing. In the evening Toni and I went out for another three hour walk; he to play Ingress and I to play Pokémon Go. During the walk I hatched a Lapras and caught another Eevee that enabled me to evolve into a Jolteon :3 I also managed to take over a few gyms - for a few minutes.

Thursday was work, but it was a short day so after work I spent some time in the Royal Gardens catching some Pokémon. The only new Pokémon I caught was Grimer. When I got home I played Pit Fighter, which I also completed.

Friday was a long work day. In between shifts I managed to evolve into Dewgong and Parasect, and I also caught a Porygon! That was cool. I was on the bus when Porygon showed up and two ten-year-old boys behind me sounded like they might pass out from excitement when Porygon showed up. It was a lot of fun ^^ When I got home I was very tired so I spent the evening watching Toni play Dark Souls 2 and then I went to bed.

I was originally supposed to be free on Saturday, but a colleague asked if I could take his shift in exchange for his next week, and since I didn't really have anything planned for this day I accepted. So I went off to work for a 5 hour shift. My first hour I had company from the girl working the shift before me (first shift ends one hour after the middle shift starts and the middle shift ends one hour after the last shift starts), and we talked about Pokémon Go for most of that time. My last hour I had company from the girl working the shift after me and we talked about France, French and French people most of that time. It was interesting because while I like the language I'm not really a fan of the French, but she is. When I got home I just had dinner and then went to sleep.

Sunday started at 4 am. My last ever Sunday at my other job. I walked to the train station and took the first train leaving at 5.30am. When I got to the station I had some time left so I spent about ten minutes taking down the gym there and then taking over it. I got to keep it for a good two hours this time - probably due to the early hour when I got it xD Work was chaos, though. The meat that we needed for packing the food boxes was supposed to arrive at 9.30, but it didn't show up until almost 11. Our first departure was at 12, so we had to hurry. At 11.15 the first driver shows up and tells us that if we're not done within 30 minutes he'll leave without our pallets. Excuse me?! You have a friggin job to do and if you leave here without our stuff you're not really doing your job, are you? But we stressed like crazy and he could leave with all his pallets before 12. Ha! But wait, the bad stuff isn't over. The meat that arrived at 11 wasn't all the meat we needed, just part of it. The next batch didn't arrive until 1-ish. So once again we were running late. The last drivers were supposed to leave us with their pallets before four o'clock. 5.45pm the last driver left. In the end we only got 15 minutes overtime, but the whole day was complete chaos. As with Saturday I just had dinner and then went to sleep when I got home. Monday would start at 4 am.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Playing Skyrim quest mods: Moonpath to Elsweyr

Next on my list of quest mods was Moonpath to Elsweyr, which literally takes your Dovahkiin to the land of the Khajiit.

I was really excited to try this mod, but while I sort of liked it I also feel like it fell flat. The scenery was amazing and I really felt like I had travelled from the chilly world of Skyrim to the damp jungles and arid deserts of Elsweyr. However, the quest line was very short and didn't feel well thought-out, like it had been hastily prepared and not quite finished.

When you arrive in Elsweyr you're almost immediately pulled into the Khajiiti attempt to defend their homeland against the Thalmor intrusion. There are also a bunch of side quests, all lore friendly (if you're on top of your Elsweyr lore - mine was kind of rusty). I really liked how the quests played out, but I feel like they came to an abrupt end, like the quest line was intended to go on for longer but the creator lost inspiration and just finished the thing instead.

The mod was worth the time for the scenery, the new armour you get as a reward for a simple side quest, and for my favourite part - the airships! I just wish it didn't feel so incomplete.

Dealing with backlog: Game of Thrones

I bought this game at the Steam Summer Sale in 2014. It's not the Telltale one, but the RPG, which was released 2 years prior to Telltale's game. This game's story is centered around the books rather than the TV show, although there are some features from the show. Like the music from the TV opening on the main menu, or the fact that the actors for Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and Varys reprise their roles for this game. George R. R. Martin also has a cameo, and his character apparantly writes books about the history of the realm and his assistant keeps asking him when his next book will be finished. A not-so-subtle hint towards all the fans that keep asking him when his next book will be finished IRL ;) I was somewhat disappointed, though, to find out that Lena Headey doesn't reprise her role as Cersei in the game. Only her likeness was used, not her voice.

Anyway, the game is divided into 16 chapters, and you follow two characters. Those characters are Ser Mors Westford and Ser Alester Sarwyck. Both of them were a part of Robert Baratheon's rebellion against Aerys Targaryen fifteen years ago, and because of their choices during the end of the rebellion we find them in their current situations: Mors decided to take the black and become a brother of the Night's Watch rather than being executed for disobeying an order; Alester went into self-imposed exile in the Free City of Braavos, due to a choice he had to make, and there became a red priest of R'hllor. Until chapter 11 we play every other chapter as each character separately until they are united in chapter 11. At the end of chapter 13 you have to choose which character you want to complete the story with, the first step towards one of the game's four endings.
Mors to the left and Alester to the right.

The game was very Game of Thrones-y, in the sense that just like in the TV show where all the action happens in the last two to three episodes, all the action here was reserved for chapters 13-16. Until Mors and Alester are united and you have to choose which one to follow there's more story and talk than action.

I found the controls of the game somewhat weird, but it was still something I got used to quite quickly. But because the controls were odd it took me a while to get back into it when I took a break from the game.

The battles are very similar to Dragon Age Origins, in that you can pause and tell your characters and their allies what moves to use. The amount of energy (stamina) they have determines what moves and how many they can do. Mors is a warg and also has a dog that he can control with him in battles.

The game has a lot of secrets hidden here and there. Playing with Mors you can use his warg ability to sniff out hidden objects with his dog (I really enjoyed doing that). Playing with Alester you can use his ability as a red priest, the Light of R'hllor, to find hidden objects.

Originally I liked Mors a lot better than Alester, but as the game progressed Alester grew on me until I saw Mors as nothing but a grumpy fool (he has every right to be grumpy, but I still don't like it). As the game progressed I also thought that Alester's story made more sense to use for the game's completion. While Alester was always in the midst of things, Mors seemed to be sort of just along for the ride. But in the end I got a bad ending - everyone died and then at the end of the epilogue Alester hanged himself in his bedroom.

The game, in the true spirit of Game of Thrones, was all intrigue, and as much as I wanted more action and less story it was exciting to watch the pieces fall into place and realise how it all fit together. There are just two things storywise that I didn't like. 1). I realised who the "bad guy" was way before that revelation. 2). The cliché that the pregnant lady always gives birth during the most inopportune moment in the entire show.

The game was good. Not brilliant, but good. Seeing as there are three more endings to explore, I may come back at a later time to see those as well. I did think ahead and made a separate save just before the moment when I had to choose between Alester and Mors.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

My last 5 books: Harry Potter, Gaiman, and more Rowling

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (illustrated edition), by J.K. Rowling & Jim Kay. This book doesn't really need an introduction, does it? I had told myself to not buy any more editions of Harry Potter, but when an illustrated series was announced I just had to have it! I've wanted Harry Potter with pictures since I was 9 - I'm getting Harry Potter with pictures! It's been a while since I read the series, though, and I have to admit that even though I know every single thing that's going to happen in the book, the storytelling is still amazing. Even though I know everything the storytelling pulls me inside, compelling me to read on to find out what's gonna happen next - although I already know. It's amazing :P

2. M is for Magic, by Neil Gaiman. This is a short-story collection, and because I had read both Smoke & Mirrors and Fragile Things before, only two of the short-stories in this collection were new to me. There were 11 stories in M is for Magic. Those were:
1. The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds
2. Troll Bridge (read in Smoke & Mirrors)
3. Don't Ask Jack (read in Smoke & Mirrors)
4. How to Sell the Ponti Bridge
5. October in the Chair (read in Fragile Things)
6. Chivalry (read in Smoke & Mirrors)
7. The Price (read in Smoke & Mirrors)
8. How to Talk to Girls at Parties (read in Fragile Things)
9. Sunbird (read in Fragile Things)
10. The Witch's Headstone (an actual chapter from The Graveyard Book)
11. Instructions (read in Fragile Things, also released as a children's picture book)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties is being turned into a movie, and is widely praised as one of his best short stories, but it took a long time for me to like it. It had to grow on me, which I feel like it has now done. Sunbird has been kind of forced upon me too. Partly in this book, also in Fragile Things, and in the Unnatural Creatures anthology. But that is one of my favourites now. The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds was cool. What if Humpty Dumpty didn't fall off that wall, but was pushed? Murder in Fairyland. If I had to choose I'd say that Chivalry is my favourite story in the book. Closely followed by October in the Chair, Troll Bridge and Sunbird.

3. Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. I read American Gods a while ago and while I thought it was good, I also thought it had to many narrative threads that all didn't get resolved properly. Anansi Boys is supposed to be an independent sequel to American Gods, but I like Anansi Boys a lot more. With American Gods I got the feeling that Gaiman tried to squeeze every little thing he knew into one book, but for Anansi Boys he had learnt how to be moderate and not space out the story too much. Anansi Boys seems more professional and I really like how the main character develops as a person throughout the story.




4. Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a J.K. Rowling). I really like how
this series has turned out. The first book was incredibly boring to me. But the last two have been amazing. This book was intense and I didn't want to put it down. One thing that I really liked was that Strike's new girlfriend was named Elin. Do you know how rare it is for me to find my own name in things? Especially things that are not Swedish? I loved how Strike's and Robin's relationship evolved, and was horrified when Strike actually fired Robin. I was equally horrified when Robin actually got back together with Matthew instead of permanently dumping his ass. I did not expect who the murderer was. That was skill. I usually figure it out before the end, but I had seriously no idea with this one.

5. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne. This book needs no introduction. I've now had a week to contemplate the story and despite the short-comings that several discussion have revealed to me, I still love it to bits. Some fans are outraged by the trolley lady thing, but that only made me laugh out loud. Why not? was my feelings. If you can be chased by fireworks in the Potterverse, and also charm snowballs into bumping off the back of Quirrell's turban and thereby hitting Voldemort in the face - then why can't we have the trolley lady? Seriously. A lot of discussions have taken me back to the third book, trying to get a deeper understanding of how time-turner's work. But I admit that some things may have been overlooked there. But I'm okay with that too. Basically the whole story is amazing. I don't care if the basic plot has already been covered in different fanfictions (9+ years of fanfiction attempting to fill in gaps kind of makes it hard to create a brand new story, don't you think?), this one is canon. But some people are hilarious. Like the people complaining that there are so few people running the Ministry. Come on! It's not just the four or five people mentioned in the play! There are lots more! But unlike books and movies you can't fit innumerable people into a play. Deal with it. Let your imagination fill in the gaps. This book was amazing to me. I love it. And I hope that the play will get filmed so that I can watch it, because I really want to watch the play but doubt I'll get a chance.
Oh! And Scorpius for president.

Last Seed, week 3

Monday was work, but we got off early, and on my way home I picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from the post office. I spent most of the afternoon watching Charmed and hanging around on Tumblr, but I also read the first act of the new book.

On Tuesday I spent most of the day reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. When I finished it I couldn't stop crying for 15 minutes xD It was weird. After I had finished reading I spent most of the evening on Tumblr and various other places online discussing the book. I also played Game of Thrones.

Wednesday was work. After my first shift I had three hours to kill until it was time for my second shift, and so I spent those three hours chasing Pokémon. I didn't catch many new ones, only Exeggcute. But I managed to evolve my Geodude into Graveler and my Meowth into Persian ^^ When I got home I met up with Toni downtown and we had sushi for dinner. Just as I got off the bus there I caught a Haunter! :) When we got home we cosied up on the sofa and watched an episode of The Strain.

Thursday was basically the same as Wednesday. During my three hours between shifts I hatched a Lickitung, caught a Machoke, and evolved into Sandslash, Cloyster and Poliwrath. I also ran across a Kabutops at a Pokéstop but he was almost CP 900 and I failed to catch him. Afternoon shift was hell, though. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, machines stopped working, cranky customers, and even a self-entitled asshole who questioned whether I was Swedish or not because he couldn't understand my dialect. Try leaving central Stockholm from time to time and you may realise that most of Sweden don't talk the same way you do. Idiot. I may do a ranting post just because of him.

Friday was a short day. Sort of. After my work shift in the morning I spent a really long time catching Pokémon. I caught an Ivysaur and evolved into Wigglytuff, but other than that nothing special. When I got home I played Game of Thrones.

Saturday I didn't have any work until the evening shift so I spent the whole day playing Game of Thrones. Then I went to work and when I got home I continued playing Game of Thrones and completed the game. Afterwards I started playing a new Skyrim quest mod called Moonpath to Elsweyr.

On Sunday I was in a weird place all day. I felt stressed out about going to work for the evening shift although I had hours of free time during the day before leaving. I don't know why. It was just weird. Got a weird headache too which I assume was from the stress that I don't understand feeling, because it wouldn't go away until I was safely at work. I don't know why I wind myself up like this. Before he left at the end of his shift I talked about Japanese with a colleague, and then I spent the rest of my shift rehearsing kanji whenever I got a moment. It was a lot of fun to see how many I actually remembered. And here I thought I was forgetting stuff... When I got home from work I immediately went to sleep. Monday would start at 4 am as per usual...