I have finished the DS version of the game. Even though I thought the game was pretty much a solid "B" in the end, it was one of the rare Tales of games that didn't make me want to slap around at least half the cast. And the remake seems solid enough. The 3D models look better than they did in Graces and the battle engine is better than Vesperia's. It's nice to see Chalcedony as a playable character (I'm assuming he'll be permanent) but I'm not sure about the other guy...I'm trying to be open-minded, but I think they could have done better than some flamboyantly-dressed middle aged man they just tacked onto the story. On some website they said that Richea might be playable, but I'm pretty sure she's not. Phooey.
I am not happy that they added random encounters and killed the infinite TP gauge. That's going to make the game a lot harder. I'll still keep my preorder, though...
Our Icelandic Poppy opened another flower today. This evening we discovered tiny little annual poppy sproutlets in the south garden. With leaves like romaine lettuce. I'm pretty sure they're seedlings of "Lauren's Grape." ::gulps:: I hope that some of the Shirley Poppies grow up, too. I sure did sprinkle a lot of them!
I hadn't realized that our yellow lilac does have a fragrance. It isn't as strong as that of the light purple lilacs, but it's nice. I'm glad that it finally looks like a proper shrub instead of a bonsai lilac!
I've been finding huge holes in the ground in our backyard. I don't know what kind of animal is living in them, and I don't want to know. We sure do have a big problem with chipmunks in our yard again this year. I can't even go outside to take out the trash without seeing one of the little bastards run screaming for the bushes!
On to other things...Gust has a new Atelier game coming out in June that's supposed to be the start of a new series: Atelier Ayesha. I'm not sure what to think of it just yet. Any departure from the Arland series is okay by me--I hate the cutesy moe garbage they've inserted into the franchise. Still, I doubt that Gust is ever going to reach out to its original fanbase. According to the current development team, we should all be married with kids and good little housewives right now. :P I guess that appealing to lolicon otaku males is much more lucrative. I'd rather play as an overachieving megalomaniac alchemist than a simpering loli any day!
I guess that I'll have to see some gameplay videos before I make my final decision. Part of me says, well, so far all the girls have small boobs and I don't see any panties...yet. Another part warns me that the series will never be the same. To be fair, I only liked the Salburg series and Atelier Violate. I'll probably never love again, so why waste $90?
It's going to be full voice, too, even though the original version had no voice at all. I was especially worried about who they'd cast to play Spooky (because I have a crush on him, even though as you can see from the icon he's not that attractive). Turns out they're recycling Aragaki's seiyuu for him. ::snickers:: Weellll....I suppose it could have been worse. From the voice sample he doesn't sound that bad. At least he isn't Koyasu. Because regardless of how popular he is/was, Koyasu can't play everybody.
We made pumpkin bread from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook last night. We left the nuts out because everyone seems to have a problem with nuts. And it was very, very good. I have a weakness for sweets like quick breads, muffins and coffee cake. I need to watch myself...I can definitely stop myself at one cookie or a small piece of cake or pie, but when it comes to desserts that can pass off as breakfast--I had better be careful! When you're under 5'3'' it seems that you have to watch every single thing that goes into your mouth.
Ha ha ha...
Other than watching the horribly depressing WWII era film The Mortal Storm, I've been playing the rare and hyped Dawn of Ys on my PS3. I'm what might be considered a petite Ys fan, meaning that I've played most of the games and enjoyed them, but would be the first one to list their flaws. Of the versions of Ys IV I have only played the PS2 version of Mask of the Sun. I know that version has a bad reputation as all the Taito remakes do, but I found myself liking the game in spite of the gameplay issues. Now that I've played about 6 hours of what many Ys fans to be the definitive version of Ys IV and one of the most awesome games of the franchise, let me tell you...that I think that Dawn of Ys sucks. I'm sorry. It isn't a great game. The story is bad compared to the remake, the music is most MIDI, and the game is much too hard. Adol is still doing the lame running-at-the-enemy-with-his-sword-
Really, the only Ys game I can recommend to anyone is Ys VII. Still, the others at least had a little something to offer in exchange for crushing difficulty. I'm not sure that Hudson was thinking when they got their hooks into that game.
I was supposed to be banned from playing video games until June 1st, but I ended up taking an even longer hiatus! Finally, I decided that it wouldn't do me harm to try to relax a little and play something. So I broke my RPG habit and tried out Katamari Forever for the PS3. I had actually bought that game around Christmas and never broke the shrink wrap. It's a very fun game, nice-looking with good music and incredibly addictive...but I suck at it. Big time. After a few hours of gameplay my thumbs have been reduced to hamburger. My left thumb in particular is so sore that I can barely compress the button on my electric toothbrush! Am I just stupid, or is it really hard to roll the katamari around?
Just the same, it's a very enjoyable game for someone like me who's played nothing but RPGs for the past decade. I'll just have to bandage up my thumbs and play again tonight...
I can't believe how noisy the birds have been this spring. Is it ever not mating season for them? XD
Today is a damp, clammy, nasty day. And tomorrow is Easter! I think I like it better when Easter's in March. At least now that Lent's over, I don't have to worry about keeping meatless Fridays. I'm not much a carnivore myself, but I hate not being able to use chicken broth.
So the Playstation Network has been down for the past few days. Apparently there was some hacking involved, and it seems that it's never going to be restored. Oh well...it happened when I was in the middle of downloading the Golden Week themed Groovy Chat for Tales of Graces f. Those free downloadable chats are so unfunny, it's like there's Christmas every week and you get a lump of coal in your stocking every time. =_= Yet for some reason, I jump to download them every time they announce a new chat on the official ToGf page! I'm like the lab rat who keeps hitting a switch for a treat when all I ever get is an electrical shock. One of these days, I really am going to get a treat...
I had wanted to download Atelier Marie Plus and Atelier Elie off the Japanese Playstation Network. I hear the PSX versions actually have an omake section that lets you save the movies and still pictures. The PS2 port I own doesn't have that option. :P
Speaking of the Atelier series, I managed to get myself of a cheap copy of Hermina and Culus, the visual novel spin-off of Atelier Lilie. I've played through the game twice already, and earned both the "best" and the "worst" ending.
( My impressions of Hermina and Culus. )
I hear it's going to rain all week. That's both good and bad for us. Good because all our garden transplants are getting a nice watering. Bad because I can't leave my poppy pots outside until it lets up. They don't seem like they're doing too well. ;_;
This weekend Kristen and I did some serious gardening, ripping out huge clumps of orange daylilies to make room for prettier, shorter plants. We also finally divided our asters. I think we were about five years overdue for that! Once the weather clears up I'm going to try to pull out as many strawberries from the side garden as I can. Eventually I'd like to fill the whole area with irises. They're the only plants with the invasive power to combat both strawberries and oregano! I love the flower shape of bearded irises, but you can't beat the growth habit of the Japanese variety. Those are my favorites.
We got another butterfly bush this spring: Pink Delight. It's supposed to be the most awesome butterfly bush ever. :D Nanho Purple gave me so much entertainment last summer. Miss Ruby died to the ground this winter but is starting to grow back already. I hope to see a lot of butterflies this year. I know they'll all be monarchs or swallowtails, but I hope to see and photograph lots!
We're going to have three new peonies this spring: Moonstone, Cheddar Charm and Philomele. I hope that at least one of them blooms this year. Moonstone in particular is huge.
I hadn't meant to make this exclusively a gardening post. I've been working hard on writing lately. I've been having a hard time wrapping my brain around the story lately, and I thought it might help if I worked out detailed surveys for the remaining characters. It has helped quite a bit...even if it takes me a few weeks, I wonder if I should do write-ups for everyone before I go back to the main story. I'm not good at writing off the top of my head; I have to plan everything very carefully.
I also started a new rooting project, and did another playthrough of Atelier Lilie (I just loaded an old save at year 4, though, so I didn't need to go all the way through). I'm rerooting my Bluebird's Song III Miu with Lemon Blonde/Cotton Candy mesh. I had been wanting to reroot her for awhile. Her look is cute and all, but her hair is too thin or my tastes and I have the hardest time redressing redheaded dolls. Also, I don't like having the same doll as everyone else. XD The blend suits her coloring really well; it's blond with a slight hint of apricot, and her blush is orange-toned. I will likely give her long, curly hair. I'm so pleased with the way Lili's bob turned out that I'd like to do another short-haired doll, but I doubt it will be Miu.
( What I accomplished on my fourth playthrough of Atelier Lilie. )
That's what we've been getting lately. Yesterday morning I saw a robin taking a bath in a puddle of rainwater under one of the gutters on our garage. We only started seeing a lot of robins in our yard since we had our roof redone. Up until then our roof was pretty much a starling hotel, and those birds are very territorial. Now our yard is officially robin turf. XD I don't know if I only think so because I'm not used to seeing them around, but the robins around here are really fat!
We've been having a lot of freaky bird action lately. Even at night I hear them peeping in the bushes. A few weekends ago, my parents said they saw two red-tailed hawks mating in the trees when they were out doing yard work. In broad daylight, no less! ^o^;...
I find the call of the mourning dove to be especially soothing. I know that they're just pigeons, but I've always liked those birds.
I'm finishing up a rooting project I've been working on for a long time. I've rerooted my little Volks Nakoruru with Ash Blond/HiHo Silver mesh. That doll has a cute face, but her hair was terrible quality. Rerooting a black-haired doll with blond hair is kind of nerve-wracking. I usually always prefer the brunette dolls, after all! I hope she turns out all right. I think she'll turn out all right. I'm not sure what kind of hairstyle I'll give her yet...
On the gaming front, I'm continuing with my obsession with old Atelier games by playing Atelier Marie, Elie and Anis for the GBA. The game is pretty much shovelware based off Atelier Elie, but it's proved to me that I can handle a sound and graphical downgrade from the disk games if I like the characters and scenario. The game is much better than Atelier Annie. It did, however, reveal something to me about a certain character in Atelier Lilie that I've apparently been too thick to catch onto, even though I've played through the game three times already.
( The true identity of Gerhard. Oh, my lovely man... )
I still haven't started my Shirley poppy seeds. It's been too cold lately. I've never done poppies from seed before, and all the annuals I started from seed last year were late summer as opposed to late spring/early summer bloomers, so I really don't know what I'm doing. :O I read that some people even throw the seeds on top of the snow, which is not plausible considering the amount of birds we have around here. Who knows? I'll probably try sowing one pot tomorrow.
If all else fails, I'll still have my breadseed poppy "Lauren's Grape" showing up some time in May. I ordered those as live plants from Select Seeds. I'm assuming I won't kill them. I'm determined not to kill a plant that shares my name.
So now that I'm editing Chapter Five, I realize that it's a badly-written piece of trash. It's going to need a lot of work before it's even fit to show to one person. And it happens every time...XD
( You can never go back. Attempting to replay Atelier Totori. )
I've managed to put an end to a few things this week. I don't know if I'm the kind of person who feels better after finishing a project or starting a new one. I have a bad habit of dropping the ball on a lot of projects, so when I finish one I feel a sense of accomplishment. At the same time, I have such a hard time finding motivation sometimes that when I'm involved with something that really clicks with me when I finish I feel like something just died. That's kind of the way I feel right now.
Like dandelion fluff blowing in the breeze. XD
For starters, I finally finished writing the rough draft of Chapter Five of my novel a few days ago. Before any of you start thinking that I'm just a great big slacker, I have to point out that Chapter Five took up an entire composition notebook, minus a few pages for extra notes in the middle. It's going to be quite a task to revise all that work. Sometimes revising is fun, though--like fixing up a new house. At this point I don't think the writing is terrible...maybe it's okay. I've read a lot of books that were okay, but not terrible. You can still get a lot out of an "okay" book, but when you're writing it yourself you have a responsibility to yourself and your future readers to make the okay parts as good as the great parts. Sometimes it's tempting to rush it out, especially when you're looking for acceptance and validation. I've always found it to be a big mistake to let other people read my first draft. I won't even let Kristen read my first draft, and I rely on her imput to make Draft Two into Draft Three.
( Two More Things I Finished. )
I'm hoping that today's torrential rains will melt most of our snowpack. Then I can find out once and for all if my rosemary survived the winter!
I had really wanted to plant my poppies this weekend. So far it looks like a no-go. Yesterday we had some problems with our furnace again, and I spent most of the day stressing out/waiting for the repairman. This time our boiler was leaking water from its pressure relief valve, which resulted in corroded pipes that needed to be replaced along with the valve. Oh well. At least it wasn't once of those explosive soot and black smoke related disasters. The boiler was still working the whole time, but I was worried about water damage and wanted it taken care of immediately. That probably was a good thing. If we had waited a few weeks longer, we might have had to replace the whole damn boiler. That's $5,000 for you!
I keep telling myself that while it's annoying to have to take care of snow removal, heating, plumbing and electrical problems yourself, if you have to leave it to a landlord or building committee they usually don't take care of it until it's too late. At least, that's what I tell myself in order to make myself feel better. XD
( Chugging through the Future Arc in ToGf. )
This public service announcement is brought to you by a self-confessed chocolate hater. Their cream-filled chocolates are to die for. So are their creme brulee chocolates. I know that they're a CT based company, but you can order chocolates from their website. Get a custom-made box. Dark chocolate orange creams are the best.
( Almost at the end of the main story. 55 hours into ToGf. )
Or maybe not.
I guess I haven't posted in a while. It's been a whole three days! I don't really count picture posts as legitimate entries, so it really does feel like a long time. I wanted to post earlier this weekend, but it was so windy that all the windows on the east side of our house kept rattling like they were going to shatter. Miraculously we didn't lose power, unless I count the short blackout we suffered when I was in the freaking shower. We rely on an electric pump well for our water, so that really sucked.
On the bright side, if anyone dumps poison in the local reservoir, our water would still be safe to drink. Also, water main breaks don't affect us.
On the dark side, if we lose electricity we can't even flush our freaking toilets.
Lucas has been doing fine lately. I haven't posted about him because eventually everyone gets tired of hearing about the wacky adventures of somebody else's cat. We finally got him to jump in the cat stroller of his own accord. He enjoys it when I push him around inside the house, but I don't think it's good for my arms! That thing's about as big as a supermarket shopping cart. I wonder if I was wrong to choose the largest stroller I could find? Lucas is a big boy, but I could fit three of him in there!
On the book front, I've been reading Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler. I got the recommendation somewhere as an example of a fantasy/sci-fi book written in "transparent" a.k.a "non-purple" prose. I'm about halfway through the second book in the anthology. I'll post my detailed opinions when I'm done with all three books. All I can say right now is that it's a fascinating book and very brutal, kind of like Saramago's Blindness except with tentacle monsters. And the prose is not purple, thank God. Anyone who's been following my blog for a while must know how much I hate purple prose! XD
I'm still not done with Chapter Five...but I'm getting there. My right hand is permanently stained with ink from my Space Pen, which I've decided I prefer to the Parker Jotter. I've been faithful to my doll-rooting ban. When I finally finish writing I'm going to bushwhack my Blue Bird's Song III Miu. Weep not for her! I have a very interesting hair color picked out for her that I've never used before.
( Forty-two Hours into ToGf. )
I have several packets of poppy seeds that need planting! The yard looks pretty nasty right now. The snow dunes have shrunk down from seven feet to four, and everything's stained with mud.
Soon, I'll be able to take doll photos outside again. I hope you all like mud and dead grass! I'm afraid of what I'll find on the ground once the snow melts. I hope no animals got buried under there.
( A little over thirty hours into Tales of Graces f. Spoilers up to Sneak Laboratory. )
They say our weather pattern is going to change over the next week. That means no more back-to-back snowstorms and warmer temperatures to induce melting! Most of the snow on our roof has melted already, but every day there are more reports of roofs collapsing under the weight. Every day I walk around the house and survey the outside for any sign of imminent failure. We look like we're in pretty good shape, probably because we have a steep pitch and our roof is only a few years old. Also, we have no insulation in our attic, so all the heat in our house has been escaping through our roof and melting the snow. :O Just the same, all these reports of roofs collapsing in town have rattled me. I can't wait until this crap is over for good.
I still haven't finished writing Chapter Five. Snow removal has been my top priority lately.
I've still been managing to play ToGf for about an hour and a half every night. That shows where my priorities really are.
( TOMODACHIIIII! Blargh glorg glorg... )
Today's the first day in a long time that we've had a temperature above freezing. Water is running off the roof in torrents.
I've spent the past few days doing magical snow removal (I quit) and playing Tales of Graces F for the PS3. Considering how much I had been waffling about whether or not I wanted to risk being disappointed by another Tales game, I actually like ToGF quite a bit. I've clocked about eighteen hours now. I've heard the game is quite short. Not that I have a problem with that. I have more of a problem with supposedly epic games that drag you through mindless clusters of events for 100+ hours. XD
( Some Thoughts on the Game. Spoilers Through The First Battle With A Certain Character. )
I haven't posted in a little while because I damaged myself shoveling snow. Even though my heart can take a lot my muscles are still puny and underdeveloped. If we really do have another snowstorm in the middle of next week I might seriously consider taking my own life. Fluffy snow is one thing, ice boulders are another. Over the past few weeks I've felt like Sisyphus trying to push the rock up the hill. Just where in the hell are we supposed to be putting all this snow? The piles on the sides of the driveway are five feet high. And it's been too cold for anything to melt. Somebody save us from this horrible plague of winter! ::screams::
I have managed to wrap up a few things over the past few days. 1). I finished reading Titus Alone 2). I finished rerooting Maya (though she still needs her hair curled) 3). I managed to get the Sarai ending in elan plus 4). I made a lot of meatballs 5). I watched a few movies.
The meatballs and Maya are the only things I can talk about safely without a cut! We've made Cook's Illustrated's Swedish Meatballs many times, but this is the first time we tried making their Italian-Style Meatballs The recipe was for spaghetti with meatballs, but we ended up making meatball grinders instead, with melted mozzarella cheese on top. I think I may have discovered my new favorite thing! Storebought frozen meatballs are so gross, and jarred tomato sauce is just as bad. I'm glad we were able to find a recipe for smooth tomato sauce that doesn't require the use of a blender.
Maya didn't take me nearly as long as Alma and Nao. The sky-blue/azure blue mesh looks nice, and I'm surprised that I was able to pull off side-parted hair with straight-across bangs without having to constantly check back and fill in bald spots. I ended up using one and a quarter large format skeins. I guess that's only of interest to me, though.
( Talk of Titus Alone and the Sarai Ending. )