One of the good ones.

So my busiest days here are Saturday and Sunday. I work 10 hours a day both days with a 30 minute break for lunch (if I'm lucky and on schedule for my classes). It can get exhausting but at the end I've cleared $600 for the weekend. This is mostly due to the fact that after only being here a year, I'm already the longest held employee this school has (including Chinese personnel). Turnover is high in China. Workers tend to do a couple month stint at a place before either moving back home or finding a slightly higher paying job and moving on. Most of my fellow teachers are college students earning spending money on the side. They cancel classes often, don't know how to give good demo lessons, and really think that English lessons consist of talking at their student for the 50-100 minutes they signed up for. This works in the short run, but after a couple lessons, the student catches on and realizes they are paying through the nose for not really learning anything. They don't sign back up. So six months ago when my company took a minute to look at their books and realized that I was the drastic outlier in successfully actually... uh teaching English, I've been booked straight through. This all leads up to the fact that after looking at the books and total lessons sold and taught, I am responsible for roughly 40% of this schools revenue and responsible for 80% of their returning customers. This is great! For the company at first, but even more so for me.

Let me explain. It's my micro econ classes being put to good use.

Since I now know that my quitting would essentially mean an impossible to recover loss of revenue for the company, the company now essentially works for me. Coupling this knowledge with my growing understanding of how the English teaching business here in China works has lead to a drastic increase in wages, quality of work, and management. Today, my company moved to a much nicer, larger more professional space with money earned almost entirely from my students.

Ego much? Let me have it. It feels good to be really good at something.

Here is an example where the obsessive number cruncher in me comes in to play in a move I am very proud of. Mom, Dad, if you ever wondered if all those years of playing video games would ever pay off, let me tell you: they have. Just like in a game, once a system becomes thoroughly understood, it can be manipulated to earn the maximum gains for the person. Except now since the company works for me, I also get to tweek the rules of said system.

For example, the company used to have a policy of paying 200 RMB for new teachers recruited. Approximately $35. That's not much. That's barely more than I make in one 50 minute lesson. So I sat down with the finance lady and told her I had a couple of great friends who were looking for work but I was hesitant to tell them about jobs there.

"Why not Mark? You'd get 200 RMB!"

"Yeah, but if in the future, they end up taking even one lesson from me, I've essentially broken even. Actually, I probably stand to lose money in the long run."

"What?"

"See, students here have their choice of teachers, I'm pretty much booked and my schedule is hard to work around because of it. By introducing these other good teachers to you, I actually stand to lose money. Therefore it is actually in my best interest to keep these other highly capable teachers away from here."

It is at this point I should note, that teachers who are actually good at teaching English are a rarity here. The prospect of being able to have more than just one (me) good teacher working for a company makes casino noises start playing in their heads.

"Okay, so what can we do?"

"How about for every 50 minute lesson a teacher I refer teaches, I get 20 RMB?"

"What?! But then you'd be getting paid for just setting it up!"

"Isn't that how you guys get paid?"

"...We'll think about it."

They thought about it, and now I earn roughly 200RMB a week for doing nothing. Also, I am busy interviewing new teachers for the school as I am infinitely more qualified to find decent teachers than the Chinese staff is. Their job has become to find students, and my job is to make sure we have better teachers to make sure the new students keep coming back.

I like being the puppet dictator of a company. Especially when it becomes apparent to the people in charge that it's actually working, and everyone is making more money.

It's kind of like after the first 6 months they looked at each other and went "Wow, this kid knows what he's doing. Uh... maybe we should let him keep doing it?"

If this long boring rant about how I'm manhandling my way up the income ladder has made you think I don't have a soul I promise you that's not true. I started teaching English, and then found out I really actually liked teaching as a job. More than I ever thought I would. I have a passion for languages and I love actually being able to help other people progress in their own studies.

Some of my fun students?

Saturday mornings I start with a two hours science lesson with a 10 year old boy named Joe. We spend it reading through a basic chapter from a science book on the solar system, biology, physics, chemistry or energy. I correct his pronunciation, help him with new vocabulary (telescope, lens, gravity, solar system) and finally make him practice some of the grammar he seems to be struggling with. This normally takes an hour and then we spend the next hour surfing wikipedia, talking about outer space, NASA's current projects, the history of evolution, and a million other things. Sunday morning starts off with 75 minutes of teaching a 3 year old boy. We do colors, sing songs, and practice flash cards while I make funny faces and act ridiculous. Want to know how to keep a 3 year old coming back? Act like a raving lunatic. Is the flash card of a gorilla? Act like a gorilla, chest pounding and all. It not only works, it's a hell of a lot more fun than anything in a textbook. Also, the parents (ie: the paying party) will love you. Then there is Caroline. Shes 13, but way too smart and mature for her age. We talk about J-Pop stars, read magazine articles, practice vocabulary and trade manga and anime suggestions. Also she has my exact birthday but twelve years later which means we are both rabbits and Taurus'. It was awesome finding that out.

My favorite student of all though is John. John is an 11 year old boy I only see for an hour on Saturdays. We started doing science chapters 5 or 6 months ago. We finished those quick enough and now work through several language art books. While we do work through the books, we spend most of our time talking about our lives joking and discussing cool new things (while correcting and practicing grammar and pronunciation I promise). He's way too smart for his age and one of the best children I've ever met EVER.

I just recently bought my tickets home for my vacation to see my family and to get a new Visa. I'll be gone for all of February as I enjoy some well deserved R&R. I mentioned this to John and was blown away by his reaction.

"You mean, you'll be gone for February?"

"Yeah, I need to get a new Visa and see my family again."

"But... all of February?"

"Yeah, I guess so, but I'll be right back at the start of March."

I've never seen a child close the distance between two chairs that quickly. He hugged me, and he hugged me hard.

"I'll miss you..." he said.

Few moments in my life have been as rewarding.

"I... I'll miss you too John."

1 Comments

Opinions on reviewing old games.

I'm not a very consistent person. This is especially so when it comes to my opinions. This especially struck me today as I was glancing over some of the reviews I've written here on Giantbomb.

I gave the original Diablo and Lucidity both three and a half stars? Diablo is a classic genre defining franchise starter, and Lucidity is a charming-but-middling all-but-forgotten platformer.

I gave the incredibly simple Osmos five stars which, according to me, puts it on par with Ocarina of Time, but above Knights of the Old Republic.

...what am I doing?

I've been trying to work out in my head exactly why I give games the scores I do and why that leads to some of these bizarre anachronisms.

I think I've arrived at the opinion that reviews, just like the games themselves, encapsulate an idea or opinion at the time they were written.

I played Diablo when it first came out, and like everyone else, it blew me out of the water. Back then? 5 stars. Last summer though? I think now... well to put it simply, I would be just as inclined to replay Lucidity as I would be to replay through Diablo. Time hasn't been especially kind to Diablo, and Lucidity has had the benefit of more than a decade of game design refinement that makes it much more polished and less clunky despite its other flaws. This is especially apparent when comparing something like Diablo to other games from that era that have aged significantly better.

So when I give Diablo three and a half stars, I don't think I'm really saying its a "three and a half star" game. Giving it five stars because it was amazing when it came out, despite its obvious flaws now, also feels disingenuous though.

I think for me, reviewing old games is an exercise in seeing how they hold up and where I would put them on my scale of enjoyment nowadays.

What about you guys? How do you go about comparing or reviewing old games?

17 Comments

#chinesepopulation

Dear Chinese Population,

Before you get all up and arms and protest the Japanese ownership of Senkaku, first realize that you are tools. Realize that any protest you are even allowed to have exists only because it suits the governments needs.

Why do you care about a land dispute with a foreign government that will not affect any of your lives at all when the government you should be protesting is right in goddamn front of you?

Stop being tools and see this stupid news story for what it is. A distraction to keep you scared of foreign boogie men while the government goes through it's only period of instability and possible change for the next 10 years.

Seriously.

4 Comments

Life Update: Texas Hold 'em in Beijing

So.

China.

Beijing?

Yup.

I've been here a little over a month now, and truth be told I'm in love with Beijing far passed any of my original expectations. It's not as pretty as Japan, it's not as warm as Taiwan, the food isn't as good as in India, the people aren't as friendly as in Colombia, but I'm in love none the less.

First of all, Beijing is HUGE. I've been here a month and still feel like I haven't seen anything. The number of restaurants, neighborhoods, hutongs, clubs, museums.... it's all staggering. I live on the affluent more westernized east side in the right next to the Times Square of Beijing: Dongzhimen. It's a fantastic place and a convenient meeting point of several train lines.

I guess I should fill in the blanks to how I got here?

I arrived December 8th in my usual flurry of excitement. There are few times in my life I'm as happy as when my plane is touching down in a country I no very little about, but am going to live in for the foreseeable future. Tammy met me at the gate and for the first two weeks I stayed in her small studio apartment. After the first two days of resting/getting acclimated/finding a bank where I could withdraw Chinese currency, I set about starting an actual life here.

That meant finding a job.

Which ended up being as easy as simply showing up.

Long story short, any doubts I had about finding a job teaching English were quickly dismissed. Every single interview I had ended with me not only being offered a job, but sometimes being heavily pushed into accepting their offer. I interviewed for everything from High schools, to kindergartens, to private tutoring cram schools. Working hours, wages and conditions varied broadly across my 18 or so interviews during that first week, but seeing as how I ended up taking the job at the very last place I interviewed with, I'm glad I stuck with my sometimes exhausting trek around the greater Beijing area in search of gainful employment.

So now, Monday through Thursday I teach at a Kindergarten in Wanjing 4 to 5 hours a day, making roughly $30 an hour. Friday is my day off, and on the weekends I teach 6 to 8 hours a day at a private cram school in Yonganli (where Tammy lives). At the kindergarten I teach two hours in the morning, and two to two and a half in the afternoon. I use my 4 hours lunch break to go to a local cafe and study Chinese from some new textbooks I've purchased. These long breaks are part of the reason I took this job and not something more full time. For the first time since my classes in Taiwan, I have a structured study schedule. While my Chinese IS improving day by day, little by little. I will admit there are times I want to throw my hands up in the air and just give up with this godforsaken language. I have never had to claw and fight so roughly through a language before. My daily continued attempts to master this language prove ever humbling.

Long story short?

CHINESE IS HARD.

After getting a job it was time to find a place to live. Once again, it was the very last place I went to where I found the perfect fit.

My job is in Wanjing, which is actually kind of an inconvenient location. It's not on either of the large loop lines that encircle Beijing. When I was staying with Tammy in Yonganli, my commute was a grueling hour and a half slog through the morning rush of Beijing's subway stations complete with not one, but two separate line transfers.

It was exhausting, it was stressful, and it needed to change.

I looked at the subway map, and started using some of my free time to search out locations and neighborhoods where I wanted to set up camp.

I instantly fell in love with Dongzhimen. It's perfectly located on the subway map. I'm dead center in the middle of all the cool neighborhoods and areas (Sanyituan, Gongti, the Hutongs) and it's the midway point between my job (no more line transfers in the morning!) and Tammy.

Now all I had to do was find an apartment.

This is where I was introduced to the absolutely terrible world of Chinese real estate agents. I spent the better part of a week chasing down every listing I found for the Dongzhimen area. My results were frustrating. In China as it turns out landlords don't just give their listing of an empty apartment to one Realtor agency, they give them out willy-nilly. This lead me to being shown the same 5-7 apartments in Dongzhimen repeatedly by 5-7 different agents working for different agencies.

So this is how apartment hunting in Beijing went for me.

Step 1: Show up at Dongzhimen station.

Step 2: Meet way-too-friendly Realtor agent.

Step 3: Climb on the back of their broken down scooter or electric bike and feel my heart rise to my throat as we zigzag through insane Chinese traffic to the available location.

Step 4: Be depressed when I realize they have taken me to a location I've already been shown by another agent.

Step 5: Tell them that I've already been shown this location.

Step 6: Be assured that I have not in fact seen this apartment.

Step 7: Be shown the apartment I've already seen 4 times and given a new and different price each time.

Step 8: REPEAT AD NAUSEAM.

Add to that, the fact that while the modest monthly rent is definitively within my budget, the 3 month's rent deposit, along with the 1 month of rent agency fee and I was getting the sinking feeling that I wouldn't be able to get my own place until I had gotten my first TWO paychecks two months later.

I wasn't excited.

When my hopes had started to scrape rock bottom I stumbled upon an ad on thebeiginger. For those not in the know, thebeijinger in the premier source of info, classifieds, and want ads for expats and foreigners living abroad in Beijing. The ad was simple:

"Looking for roommate. Dongzhimen right next to subway station. Nice area. Nice room. Laid-back room mates. $2,800 a month for the largest bedroom in the place. Available ASAP. Can't get pictures to load on here. Give me a call at xxxxxx".

I was a bit discouraged by the price. $2,800 was significantly lower than any of the other places I had seen that were the bottom of my standards. I didn't really want to start off my adult life by living in some midden heap, but having tried the more conventional means to no avail. I decided to give the guy a ring and check out the place.

I show up. I meet Scott at the station and he immediately comes off as a very friendly, genuine man who's lived in Beijing for the better part of 6 years. We walk five minutes to the complex he opens the door, and I'm stunned.

The place is amazing! Huge flat-screen TV, beautifully furnished, full kitchen, two balconies and best of all a fully enclosed western shower (a true novelty and luxury in most Asian apartment complexes). My room is huge and gorgeous. A king sized bed, amazingly huge wardrobe with a large three sided terraced window facing south.

"Oh, he says. Sorry that only the largest room is available. Hope you don't mind paying an extra 100RMB a month."

100 RMB is roughly 16 dollars for the record.

"Oh, we also play poker every friday."

I love poker.

"We also have some friends who play Dungeons and Dragons if you're into that sort of thing," he mentions nonchalantly.

I feel my heart-rate increase.

"We also drink and play video games kind of a lot. We've got a modded X-box and a huge stack of games. Wednesday's are usually Whiskey/Jenga night."

SLOW DOWN HEART. SLOW DOWN.

"Oh, I hope this isn't an issue, but we also have a cat named 'Wicket'."

I have officially died and gone to heaven.

So here I am now. I sit in my own apartment in downtown Beijing just before Chinese New Year welcomes in the year of the Dragon. I am employed, I am making more money than I know what to do with. I have friends here, I have work to do, I have a language to learn, and I have a life to start.

Last year after New Years in Las Vegas I wrote an entry here wondering where I'd be in a years time, speculating for all I knew, that I'd probably be playing golf on the moon.

The answer turned out to be better.

I'm playing Texas-Hold-Em tonight in Beijing.

1 Comments

Medicated Gaming: Victory! Wait... what?

So, the past two hours have been... unbelievable. I had all four of my wisdom teeth taken out earlier today and am currently on a LOT of pain medication. Seeing as how I already watched two movies, I decided to try my hand at the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Watching the positive reviews for Sonic Generations has gotten me on a bit of a Sonic binge, and I've been casually playing through the first two games quite a bit this week.

Has is really been 20 years since this came out?

Yesterday for the first time, I managed to actually complete the first Sonic the Hedgehog game. I never had a Genesis when I was young, but my neighbors did. As was customary at the time, when we were at my house we played Mario, when we were at his house we played Sonic. Being young however, I can never remember us being able to get past the Labyrinth Zone. The game was, and remains very difficult. It's full of instant deaths, tricky jumps and required memorization. On top of that, it can be fairly hard to earn extra lives until you become familiar with where they are hidden, or how not to take a single hit throughout a level to break the hundred ring mark. While you are given two continues, it resets your score, and when those are gone- in true old school fashion you are sent all the way back to the title screen and told to try again. Brutal.

As an adult, defeating the game wasn't quite the monumental achievement it would have been as a child. I now have the patience, and problem solving skills to quickly get past obstacles that would repeatedly drive Sonic to his grave in my younger years. One thing, that has always seemed beyond the reach of my ability and reason in almost every Sonic game ever, has been the achievement of collecting all of the chaos emeralds and then beating the game.

This is especially true in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.

For those unfamiliar with the game allow me to explain. Throughout the game there are 6 chaos emeralds hidden in 6 different special stages. To enter one of these hidden special stages the player must make it to the end either the first or second stage in a world with at least 50 rings. If you are hit once the player loses all of their rings. In later games there are a lot more rings in stages. In the original however, they are fairly limited and require effort in their collection. So not only must the player collect enough rings, they must not take damage in the later half of the level if they want to enter the secret special stage.

There is a lot going on here.

In the special stages, the player must make his way to the chaos emerald without touching any of the glowing "Goal" orbs that will warp a player out. Sonic is limited to ball form and the stages rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise at varying speeds depending on which other objects the player hits. These courses are also filled with rings, bumpers, and dissolving barriers and one-way walls. Sonic also controls differently, resembling a pinball with the ability to jump. A single slip or miscalculation on the players part can easily land sonic in the wrong spot ejecting him from the level sans-emerald.

The only way to get another shot at getting the emerald?

Start the game over from the beginning.

Want to get the best ending in Sonic? Play all of these 6 stages and their bonus hidden stages almost perfectly and consecutively without screwing up.

A tall order that I never had any intention of actually completing.

Today though... I was on FIRE. Maybe it was the Vicodin, maybe it was that my nerves are dulled by having 4 of my teeth ripped out earlier today, maybe it was the casual week long play sessions- I don't know what it was!

I was Zen.

I was perfect.

I avoided every trap! I cruised through every level, and I collected each and every Chaos emerald!

I defeated Eggman with 15 remaining lives and watched the credits role. What was I rewarded with for this astounding act of gaming perfection?

Oh, are you upset that I got all the Chaos Emeralds? Poor baby.

An angry image of Eggman at the end of the game instead of a smiling one.

...

Goddammit I love old games.

4 Comments

Fire Emblem (GBA) Journal: #1

Just going to use this as a place to record my thoughts on games as I play them.

First of all, this games presentation is stunning! The music! The art! The animation! The writing! I'm blow away!

Especially by the writing/translation. Maybe it's because I've been playing "Secret of Mana" for the first time as well, and that games dialogue is about as stilted as it gets. Fire Emblem though... hats off to whatever soul translated this. This person obviously understands the art behind good translations: that you can't translate things literally or word for word.

That may seem painfully obvious to most of you out there- but take it from me, poor translations are the norm. Ever play a game with English dubbing and know that it's obviously wasn't originally written in English? Ever read dialogue in an old RPG and went "...huh?"

That's because languages are very fickle concepts. It's not all just vocabulary and grammar. Languages touch on the very core of our cultural norms and how we use words to evoke character traits and emotions.

Boring Japanese/English/Translation digression follows.

Take for example the Japanese phrase: 懐かしいです。(Read: Natsukashii desu)

Now, the literal translation for this would be "It's nostalgic". Japanese is a tricky language however. This sentence is incredibly vague and contextual. Now it is probably meant to evoke a certain emotion, sensation or character trait about the person saying it. This could be entirely lost by a literal translation.

Let's explore, shall we?

Now because Japanese tends to be a kind of vague language, an old surly warrior looking down on a battlefield and a blushing bride-to-be holding a childhood teddy bear could both say this phrase and have it fit perfectly. Every sentence is very contextual. English doesn't quite work that way though. Having both of those people simply say "It's nostalgic" sounds stilted and gives no insight into their character.

So here is where the work of a good translator and writer begins.

What is the importance of the phrase to each character? Why did the original writer use this choice of words? Essentially, what is the writer trying to convey with the original words and phrasing?

In my example, the dialogue is showing that the warrior is presumably recalling past battles and glory.

Now, I can promise this is not a literal translation of the original Japanese, but doesn't it convey Sain's character and the idea perfectly?

Perhaps his line could be translated to: "Ah, this takes me back," or "Just like the good 'ol days." Now both of these are a far cry from the literal translation yet convey the intended message much clearer. Languages are not about words. They are about communicating ideas, concepts and emotions. If you let yourself get tied down with words, your translation is going to come out unnatural, stilted and awkward.

This is an almost impossible thing to be good at if you are not a native speaker of the language who has been steeped in the culture's reference points since birth.

It is possible though, and whoever is responsible for translating Fire Emblem for the GBA definitely gets it. Kudos to you sir or madam. I fully intend on looking you up when the end credits roll.

Back to the game now.

Considering I loved me some advance wars it's really not a surprise that I'm enjoying Fire Emblem so much so far. The tactics gameplay is right up my alley, but the characters are all so much better defined here than in advance wars. Love the terror of not wanting a party member to die- forever. This encourages the perfectionist in me. I'm going to be aiming to clear the game without losing a soul. I presume it can be done, but we'll see.

Going to have to look up some OC Remixes of some of these tunes. They are already way to catchy. That's all for now. We'll see if these become regular occurrences.

4 Comments

My last cigarette.

So, here I am, a little after 7:30 on a Wednesday night, and I am dreading using up my last cigarette. Been slowly working myself down over the past month from roughly half a pack a day down to now... my last cigarette for the foreseeable future.

Started smoking abroad as it was cheaper and didn't hold most of the negative connotations that exist here in the U.S. I've gone months at a time without smoking but when I get angry or stressed I pick it right back up again. Started smoking again in June due to a drastic increase in stress, and I've been a chimney ever since. Now it's quitting time again and I am mentally preparing myself for the next week of unpleasantness.

Headaches, mood swings, lethargy and the desire to rip out the throat of anyone who even tries to talk to you.

I've done it before, and I'll do it again this time. It's not as hard as everyone else makes it out to be. It really does just take willpower.

It's just not any goddamn fun.

Any other smokers out there trying to quit and want to share in my pain? Any tips etc... for making the process any easier?

Non-smokers who just want to rag on the habit or call it stupid- you can keep it to yourself. Yes, smoking is bad for you, but there are very few cigarettes I've regretted smoking. Not everything in life is measured by the metric of human health. There are aesthetics, (the taste, smell and act of smoking, all of which I enjoy), and the social benefits as well. You can always ask a stranger for a light or a smoke and I've met some crazy people and had some amazing experiences because of cigarettes.

It's never as black and white as your parents tell you. Smoking IS bad for you and IS harmful, but I AM an adult, and I can make my own choices.

Now, I'm choosing to stop. Brace yourself brain: it's going to be a long week.

52 Comments

The sound of heavy luggage.

Well, it's that time again.

For the past 6 years now, I have been alternating between living abroad in Asia (Japan, Taiwan) and coming back to the U.S. to finish my degree. Now I have it, and I'm moving to Beijing in a little over a month indefinitely. So for the next month I will be packing my bags, and scouring my parents house for any and all possessions that are mine and putting them into deep storage. Some things I'll probably never use again, others might potentially be shipped over to me in time, and a choice few possessions that aren't clothes and the necessities of life will come with me.

It feels strange this time. I've been talking about moving and living abroad for so long, that now that it actually is happening.... I don't know. Lord knows I've had enough practice at it and there are certainly things I am very excited about. It will be nice to start speaking Mandarin again, and this year has taught me that I really won't ever be happy living alongside my parents again (they are still great, I'm just far passed that age). It will be nice to be earning actual money too. Acting and serving has provided adequate supplementary income, but that's about it. At least I really enjoyed the work.

Things that I will miss however? First and foremost, I will miss Olivia. I've gotten used to saying goodbye to girls and I can recall more tear-filled airport goodbyes than I have any right to. You'd think it would get easier with time and experience.

It doesn't.

On the contrary, over the last month I seem to find myself getting more and more attached to the damn woman.

It's life though. We had a great run. I'll always remember her and the time we had together. Highlights including but not limited to: The best Tuesday ever, Lonesome Dove, drunken Smash TV, spring break, Pho Quan, her birthday dinner and show, having her save me by breaking into my car with nothing but a coat hanger and some pliers- the list goes on and on.

As for everything else? It's transitory enough to not really bother me. I imagine that I will certainly miss certain parts of the internet and am not looking forward to living behind the Great Firewall of China for at least a year, but I'll survive. I'll miss acting, but teaching English in front of kids isn't all that different from acting anyways, and the pay is much better.

I will definitely miss console gaming as I always do. Still can't quite rationalize bringing any of my systems with me though. My old gray launch DS will have to continue its service for at least a little while longer.

I'm going to get back to my coffee and late night PBS marathon as I pack up crap.

1 Comments

People have been swinging at me for years...

...but they always seem to miss.

 So it's been a month I guess?

It's been a pretty good month.

First of all, I just came from the annual Sanford Syse award ceremony where I walked away with the "Best Actor" award for the 2010-2011 academic year. I won it for my portrayal of Sheridan Whiteside in "The Man Who Came to Dinner".

Wow. Very flattering. Very awesome. It's also more than a little bewildering. While I've always been interested in theatre, I honestly never imagined I'd ever win an award like this. In the past, I've been lucky to get bit parts, small comedic rolls, ensemble etc... and this year has simply been one huge pile of unexpected awesomeness. When you don't have a lot of confidence in what you're doing, to then have a group of people tell you they think you were the best out of all of them is... well... its ridiculous.

The other reason this is beyond my comprehension is that I really thought the person I was up against was going to win. I saw Taylor as Uncle Peck in "How I Learned to Drive" and was flat out blown away. He was amazing, and I didn't have a whole lot of confidence that others would view either of my leading roles this year as comparable. It's really hard to judge your own performance sometimes, and to think that I won it over his performance doesn't exactly make sense in my head.

Don't look an award horse in the mouth I suppose. This will probably be something I'll be proud of until I die however. Again, very, very, very cool.

More good news? My final thesis is done. My 40 page epic titled "The Welfare State and Declining Population of Japan" is done.

And yes, its a very, very boring read. Unless you have a passing interest in increasing pension costs, declining fertility rates, and the necessary tax burdens an aging population must bare, I can't say I'd really recommend giving it a read.

I must have read over 3,000 pages when gathering research for this stupid thing. I've read everything from 200 page dissertations on the Birth Control Movement in Japan, the history of the Welfare state in Argentina, to case studies on the Bubonic Plague in China in the 19th century.

In a very weird way, I've probably learned more from this paper than I have from any other class in recent memory.

Long story short, I got my paper back and I got an "A" on it.

I feel like this journal entry is kind of dissolving into one big "pat-myself-on-the-back-aren't-I-great" session but... well, I don't really have a response for that. it does feel good though to have something I've worked so hard on be well received.

Also: Game of Thrones.

*slow clap*

Well done HBO. Well done.

Tyrion, Jon Snow, Ned, The Hound, Bran, and Jaime!

Very excited to see the new episode tomorrow. I really hope we get some more Syrio Forel.

"All men are made of water. Did you know this? If you pierce them, the water leaks out and they die..."

First day of training at BWW. My boss seems really really nice and it seems like it will be a great summer job. Hopefully, I'll get behind the bar fairly soon, but for now I'm satisfied being a server. On top of that, I am still working at Sholom home (where I am writing this at the moment), and start rehearsals for the Hudson House's dinner theatre on the 16th.

Looks like I'm going to have an eventful and busy summer before I jet off to wherever it is I'm going next.

Other little notes or things about life being terrific:

-Waking up and reading Nietzsche in bed for two hours before I decide I need to do anything.
-Rediscovering Settlers II and Civilization's IV.
-Getting to watch Bill Maher's show now that I have HBO.
-Craig Ferguson and his wacky shenanigans.
-The Masquer's scrapbook is going to be bad-ass.
-The rest of the award ceremony was really fun.
-Been kind of writing something? We'll see.

That's all for now intertron. I'll try and get back to updating more than once a month.

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Live Blogging! Friday Night with Tequila, and Megaman X!

That's right ladies and Gentleman, I'm flat broke and can't afford to go out tonight. So, what beats going out on the town?


Megaman. 

Megaman and Tequila.

 Tall Cooler Glass x1, Shot of tequila x1.5, Fill with OJ, Top with grenadine = Tequila Sunrise
So, follow along (or not) as I boot up an old favorite of mine and write down my thoughts after completing each level. We'll see how far I get before I get to frustrated or drunk to continue!

Let's do this!
11:45 PM, Title Screen: Its iconic. Its awesome. It brings back memories and its got me pumped.    
11:48 PM: Dropped immediately into a crumbling cityscape. Great way to start a game.Shit yeah! Giant flying wasp thingies. You guys remember these? This is how you know this game is going to be good.

11:50 PM: Riding robot cars! If you played this game, you know how much fun I'm having right now.

 Imagine the wind in his hair.
11:54 PM Oh man, Sigma got me guys. This doesn't look good. How will Megaman survive this?

 That looks painful.

Thanks Zero! You're the man! You blow that bastards arm clean off!

From here, Zero tells me I will need to Power up if I want to reach my potential and defeat Sigma. Well I'm ready assholes. Lets bring these Robot Masters on!

Levels completed: 1
Times Died: 0
Drinks Finished: 1
***
Making myself another drink. The snow guy is easy right? I'm going to go and try and kill the penguin robot ice man. Frost Penguin? What's his name? We'll find out when I megabuster his ass back to the ice age that's for goddamn sure.

 Chill Penguin. Right, right...
12:08: Why the hell is this Evil Sigma bastard basing his evil robots on fluffy forest animals? I mean, bunnies? Really?
 Megaman is not impressed

Tequilla continues to be pleasant. I'm coming for you Danny DeVito! Robot bunnies or no!

12:13 Now I'm in a cave blowing up bats and spiky wheels. Then a capsule with Dr. Light is blocking my way? This seems pretty intense. I guess I forgot about these things.
 Shits getting real.

12:16: Oh yeah! He powers you up! I can dash now, so that's cool I guess. 

12:20: Hopped into a giant mech-suit and used it to kill some robot dragonflies. 
Awww yeah! Boss time! Let's see if I can beat him without dieing! I am getting a little tipsy so, so we'll see.



12:22: Aaaaaah! He got me. I was doing really well, and then his pattern changed. Lets try this again.
12:25: ...aaaand there we go. 2nd try is not to shabby I suppose.

Suck it DeVito. 
I'll finish my drink while I ponder what level to do next. Fire right? I think it's the fire one...

Levels Completed: 2
Times Died: 1
Drinks Finished: 2
Powerups: Dash Shoes, Weapons: Shot Ice

12:36: Got my new drink and I'm on to battle... 

This should be good 

12:42: Already made it to Flame Mammoth. I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't beaten Chill Penguin first, this level would have had a lot more fire in it. I think, beating certain bosses alters the levels of others. Interesting. I found a health tank, and an E tank on this level so that's cool. I'm feeling more and more tipsy so I'm pretty curious how this fight will go.
 Lets rumble!

12:45: Aaaaahhh, he got me once. Same thing as Chill Penguin. I need to go into these fights with more than half health. Turns out he's not weak against Ice Shot either.
12:47: Almoooost got him.

 Little more....

 12:50: Got the bastard. Next is.. forest man? He's a lizard right? Also: more tequila.
 Fuck yeah!
I really do love this game. Everytime I play it, I notice all the little details. Like how the miners laugh at you when they manage to hit you with one of their mining pics etc. Great game. 

Levels Completed: 3
Times Died: 2
Drinks Finished: 3
Powerups: Dash Shoes, E. Tank x1, Health Tank x1
Weapons: Shot Ice, Flamethrower

   
12:56: Sting Chameleon. Alright, I remember this guy. He jumps around in the trees.

12:59: Going through the level. Fighting off robot lumberjacks, worms, and grasshoppers. Then I remembered a secret and wall jumped up to face this guy. If I remember right he's kind of hard. We'll see. More and more tipsy as time goes by.
 You have to hit him in his really tiny eye. It's kind of hard.

1:03: Okay, I think I understand his pattern, Just need to either wall jump over his arm, or dash under him. I got this.
 Wall jump X!
1:03: Beat him! Looks like I get another capsule.

 Wow. That's actually really good.
Nice.
 Tequila!
1:11: AM: The level continues, but the only real highlight is this awesome mech fight.
 Inspiration for the movie "Avatar"
1:17: AM: Found you sting Chameleon! Full health here. Let's roll!
1:29: AM: He got me once, but I had the last laugh. See you in hell you scaly bastard.
 Ha!
Levels Completed: 4
Times Died: 3
Drinks Finished: 4
Powerups: Dash Shoes, Body Armor, E. Tank x1, Health Tank x1
Weapons: Shot Ice, Flamewave, Chameleon Sting

***
I think I might be taking a break for now. I've succesfully had enough fun, am plenty drunk and I do have class tomorrow. On that note: Good night internet! Get some sleep!

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