Lucien’s Review: Tales of Xillia 2

Tales of Xillia 2Well, here we are for another JRPG.  What’s more, it’s a sequel to a game that I already reviewed.  For those who read that review, you might know what’s coming.  For those who read my Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdrage (SIONR) posts, you’ll know what I thought of the ending of the original game.  Let’s just say, I had problems with it.  However, I could tell right from the ads that this game is not going to be like that, and damn if it didn’t deliver…kind of.  In some ways, this game is SO much better than its predecessor.  In other ways, it is SO much worse.  It is a solid game, if you like this franchise, but buyer beware.  I’ll get more into that soon.

First, the plot.  You play an almost-silent protagonist named Ludger Kresnik.  He is starting his new job at a train station as their cook, when he meets an old friend from the first game – Jude.  Following a situation on a train, he meets a young and mysterious girl named Elle.  Ludger becomes a kind of guardian for the girl, as the two begin to unravel a mystery of failing dimensions, which threatens their own.  Like most JRPGs, the plot gets REALLY complicated.

Now, the best thing, and I do mean this, about this game is its story.  It is better in every way than its predecessor.  Seeing the old gang having grown older is really nice.  Their bonds of friendship now don’t require a TON of awful dialogues about friendship.  Now, like real people, it just is.  They give each other shit, talk about serious thing and it feels so much more natural than the first game.  Ludger becomes one of the gang pretty well too, which is weird, considering how you almost never hear him speak a word.  That is something worth addressing – his silence can get REALLY creepy.  You can choose his responses to things, but he never speaks them aloud, unless you unlock it in New Game + mode, which is really stupid.  Still, the gang is tight, and the little kid is just so adorable.  She reminds me of an actual little kid with some of her responses, and it is just too much fun.

There are a lot of rehashed areas in this game.  However, this game doesn’t just feel like a copy-paste of the previous one.  There are some new places, and little changes to older ones that give it a lot of flavor.  The music is also mostly the same as well.  At times, that can be nice.  At others, it can be dull.  However, some of the newer tunes really fit in.

However, there are two problems in this game primarily – the combat and the leveling-up system.  While in most ways, combat in this game is a rehash of the previous entry, they added a TON of stuff that Ludger can do, and the complication becomes a total drag after a while, because it forces one to REALLY micro-manage battles.  On higher difficulty, it is almost impossible to do well unless you have done the grind to get as high a level as possible.  Easier said than done.  For real, it’s good that I am in to this game for the story, because I turned the difficulty down, just so I wasn’t on some of the same boss fights for a million years.

The other problem is leveling up.  Much like the battle system, they made it WAY more complicated than it needed to be.  Instead of leveling up on a grid, like the previous game, they have you leveling up skills based on which stone that you have.  You have to absorb elemental stones, and have those gradually level up certain things.  What’s more – to change what you level up, you are CONSTANTLY having to change out stones.  When you only have a couple that somebody isn’t already using, this can be such a pain in the ass.  It’s micro-management hell in the worst way.

This is a game that is both very good for what it is, and a giant pain in the ass.  However, as I see it, the story is worth all of that.  It is engaging, the characters are loads of fun and it is fun to play.  However, the problems with it are real and they are sometimes bad enough to be noticeable.  With that in mind, I have come up with a final verdict for the game.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the GalaxyI’m not gonna lie – I’m getting TIRED of sequels.  For real, there are SO many movie sequels out there that I hardly even pay attention to film anymore.  There are the diamonds in the rough, like the latest X-Men film, which was totally awesome in all the right ways, or the Captain America sequel, which actually did manage to be pretty smart and fun to watch.  But overall, the sequels are getting dry and I am getting bored.  When I saw the preview for Guardians of the Galaxy, I brightened up quite a bit.  With how big the Marvel universe is, they hardly ever show us anything past Earth.  This film would do it!  This film would actually make the Marvel universe bigger!  When is this movie coming out?!  And I’m happy to say that this film met all my expectations and was a total blast to watch.

So, the plot of this film is that a young boy is abducted from Earth, following a personal tragedy.  26 years later, the boy is now all grown up, a two-timing thief who thinks himself an outlaw, going by the name “Starlord.”  Following the theft of an orb of unknown value, the man is now wanted by various elements of the galaxy, all of which want this orb for very bad reasons.  Now, the battle is on to get rid of this orb and save the galaxy from a tyrant who you all might know – Thanos.

The first thing that is worth talking about in respect to this movie is that it hardly takes itself seriously.  Like, ever.  That is worth keeping in mind if you are on the fence about seeing it.  It doesn’t take itself seriously, so neither should you.  With so many superhero movies trying to be all gritty and dark, like The Dark Knight, it was kind of refreshing to a superhero movie that had all the campy charm and 80’s humor that this film had.  This film’s humor was its best quality, and it took advantage of it every chance it got.  In fact, this film brought a lot of visual humor to the plate in a way that I haven’t seen in a dog’s age.

The next thing worth mentioning is the visuals.  This film looked amazing!  The best effect was, without a doubt, the animation of Rocket.  He looked like he was there, and the way he interacted with the world, it was just so priceless.  The rest of the film’s visuals were awesome.  I saw it in 2D, because I REFUSE to see 3D films.  It’s a cheap gimmick that needs to die already (it’s showing signs of going).  However, never did the film feel like it only works in 3D.

The next thing to bring up is the movie’s soundtrack.  Oh my god!  As a person who loves music from back in the day, this felt SO freakin’ cool to me!  It’s clear that the director was having fun with the music too, because the way that they integrated it into the film was often hilarious.  They had too much fun with musical integration and I am so glad that they did.  And the film never stops using it.  Right off the bat, the soundtrack is a big part of the film, which is all that better, if you ask me.

However, the best thing about this film is the characters.  Since the plot can get BEYOND cheesy at points, and that is a really big qualm that I would normally have, this film had to have the characters be the thing that the audience got attached to, much in the same way as the reboot of Star Trek.  And I’m glad to report – they are awesome!  Each character has SO much personality.  My favorite was Rocket.  He has so much attitude and given his awesome animation, it was like he was really there.  Plus, a lot of characters had their backstories explained in cheesy ways.  With Rocket, learning his story is actually emotionally jarring.  You see him as so much attitude for so long that you forget that his story is pretty sad, underneath it all.

Of course, this film isn’t perfect.  Some of its pitfalls do stand out enough to annoy me a touch.  All the talks about friendship become REALLY tiresome.  The plot of this film is about as cliche as it gets.  The villain is hardly developed, and you don’t have a lot of time to get to know what either of the daughters of Thanos’ histories are, which would have helped, since both of them are clearly important characters.  Most of the characters have backstories that are explained in the most cheesy way possible.  Oh yeah, and this film’s ending could not have been happier if it tried.  Given how much like a comic book this film was trying to be, I get that, but still.  There’s only so much sunshine I can have dumped on me.

So, all-in-all, this was a very good film.  It was a breath of fresh air for Marvel, and they needed it.  With all the sequels that we are having to suffer through, a film that is its own thing and having fun with it is pretty freakin’ cool.  This is not a perfect movie, but it doesn’t have to be.  Sometimes, it just has to be fun.  Fun, funny and a wild ride.  I am fine with that.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Fantasia: Music Evolved

For those of you who don’t know, my favorite Disney film is also my second favorite film of all time.  It was my favorite film up until I saw The Sky Crawlers and 5 Centimeters Per Second, which are now tied for the top slot.  This was the first Disney film that I ever saw.  It was what got me so in love with music.  I LOVE that film.  It has such resonance with me that if you sit my ass in front of a TV and put that on, I’m just fine.  For real, I’m set.  If you want to talk to me, I can do that, except when Rite of Spring, Nutcracker and A Night on Bald Mountain are playing.  Seriously, you shut the fuck up when those come on.

I remember seeing the trailers for the sequel, Fantasia 2000, and I was like – oh fuck yeah!  It looked amazing!  And aside from the TERRIBLE cameo openings to some of the skits (which were PAINFUL to watch), it was everything I wanted and then some.  For real, the scenes with Pines of Rome, Rhapsody in Blue and The Firebird, you can shut the fuck up.  I’m busy.

I wrote an entire post about what I would love to see in a third movie.  I would have loved it if they got Studio Ghibli to put their talents into a part of the film, using some music from famous Japanese composers.  I can think of a couple off the top of my head who would be nice for that.  Pixar could have created something of theirs to add in.  With a third film, and all these studios they have, they could have let the animation BREATHE a little!  I can see it all in my head, and it looks awesome!  You know what I can’t see?  You know the thing that I never saw when I thought of a new venture into the world of Fantasia – a fucking video game for the fucking Kinect!  Seriously, what the fuck?!

Here’s a preview to this game that I can already tell you is going to be a giant piece of shit -

Seriously, what the fuck is that?!  Disney, I’m going to try and contain the bottomless depths of my rage and actually talk to you for a moment – what in the HELL were you thinking?!  What on Earth compelled you to make a game about Fantasia?  What compelled you to make it for the Kinect?!  Have you seen the Kinect’s track record?!  That thing is worse than were you unaware of Sonic Free Riders and Star Wars Kinect?  Has nobody told you about how much nobody likes the Kinect?  The latest version of the Xbox One (a system I never mean to own) doesn’t come with it.  Microsoft finally decided to stop trying to get the public to like this piece of crap.

But you know, I could actually forgive all that.  I could actually be willing to give this trash a chance, until you make it clear – this thing will have modern music!  WHAT?!  No!  Modern music?!  Modern popular garbage?!  With words?!  Did you all just forget what Fantasia was supposed to represent?!  Did you all just forget why people were such fans of the film in the first place?  I literally don’t understand how you could possibly believe that this was a good idea.

But you know, I think that I know where this came from.  Just like all other terrible decisions of exploitation on video games, it came from you seeing a chance to make a cheap buck.  After all, if we’ve learned anything from the video games that you are behind over the last 10 or so years, it’s that you don’t care about them and are trying to pander to kids.  Well, nice work, Disney, you branched out.  Instead of pandering to kids, you are now trying to pander to brainless teenagers.  Well isn’t that special.

If only Walt could see you now – a greedy, money-grubbing company that butt-fucks all of your past successes.  It’s not enough to just let a good idea lie.  No, you have to exploit it, because it can still make you money.  For as bad as the intros and one of the skits in Fantasia 2000 (the one with the flamingos) are, I could still see a TON of heart put into that.  Heart that is CLEARLY not in this piece of shit!  This is pandering at its worse, and laziness at its best.

See, I think I’ve figured out what Disney does now, having become a giant and totally evil megacorporation that is trying to take over all entertainment.  See, here’s how it works, and I learned this from when I saw the sequels to Aladdin and The Lion King – you take franchises that already have established fan bases and you decide that you want more money.  Since you seem to be out of people with fresh ideas, you think – hey, let’s just keep going with these ones!  Because the people are dumb and they’ll watch it.  So again and again and again, you take the things we loved as children and decide to chew them up and once you can’t squeeze any more money out of them, you throw their mangled corpses out on to the floor.  That’s how evil you are.  Let’s remember – you decided to buy Lucasarts and then kill them, destroying Star Wars 1313 too.  I shouldn’t expect much.

And now, you’ve gone and shit on one of my favorite movies of all time.  Fuck you, Disney.  Fuck. You.

Initial Verdict
0 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

No Industry is Above Corruption (A Response to Gaming Journalism)

There was a time not too long ago that I used to very avidly watch MSNBC and CNN to take in news.  I would follow The New York Times and other news groups, but those people seemed to be my favorites.  I was young and naive and was just going to college in the Journalism and Public Communication program and didn’t truly understand just how corrupt modern news had become.  However, the moment a person truly starts to get informed, the more you realize just how fucked up it all is.  Now, I almost never even tune in to them.  If I want to know what the 24-hour info-tainment networks are saying, I just watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.  It’s become so blatantly clear how corrupt the media industry is.  The fall of modern news isn’t because of the Internet exclusively.  It’s because of how clear it has become that they are pandering to whoever can give them money, and the act of honest journalism has gone right out the fucking door.

Now I get all my news from The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Frontline, The Young Turks, SourceFed and several other independent sources.  Are they perfect?  No.  But they make no secret of their bias, and they actually do try and report things in a manner of not just soundbytes, but also discussion and looking critically at things.

You’d think, with all the blatant corruption I saw in one industry, and have railed about all over the country, that I would have learned my lesson when it came to corruption in an industry.  But with online journalism, it just felt like this would be more honest.  We would be the people who are telling the story.  We wouldn’t have the filters or systems of the corporate news.  This would be straight-up truth, yo!  Very quickly, though, I realized the truth – that online journalism is just as corrupt as the rest, and it is killing this industry and its credibility as well.  For my example, I am going to use gaming journalism, because seeing some of this corruption has been awe-inspiring.

There are some of the more obvious examples, such as the now-infamous video of Geoff Keighley and his blank stare as he sat in front of a backdrop that had a Halo 4 cut-out, alongside Doritos and Mountain Dew: Code Red, while he talked about how gamers can buy these products before playing the game.  Such blatant corporate nepotism that was absolutely unapologetic.  For real, he didn’t give a fuck about how much of a sell-out he looked like.  This kind of corporate favoritism is nothing new.  It’s kind of telling that in that same video, he tells other people to get into gaming journalism.

We also have the new trend of sites like Kotaku and pretty much every major gaming publication that has been carrying the line more and more for women like Anita Sarkeesian and her brand of “feminist gamers,” using the Tumblr lingo and the same professional-victim mentality that has made so many gamers annoyed to tears.  And of course, they have to talk all the time about rape threats, how there are too many men in games, how sexist it all is against women (a contention that has NEVER been proven, right Anita?) and how video games are normalizing rape and whatnot.  Ridiculous arguments that have never been proven.  Ever.  But this is more and more starting to become accepted by the gaming journalism industry.

However, a story has come to my attention recently from a YouTube vlogger who I follow about a woman named Zoe Quinn.  Here is his video in its entirety, if you are of a mind to watch.  It goes into much more detail than I intend to.  Zoe Quinn is an Indie developer who recently had what should have been quite a story about her come to light.  Instead, the story has been unreported by a vast amount of gaming journalism.  See, it all began with a WordPress article by a man she was dating.  He wrote a frankly-massive post about why the relationship didn’t work out.  One of the reasons was infidelity.  That seems like a good reason for a relationship to go south, but why should we care?  After all, it’s between the two of them, right?  Sure, absolutely.  It would be, except for one tiny detail – the people in question were five guys.  She was sleeping with five guys, and then, miraculously, a lot of things start going right for her.  Well ain’t that a coincidink?

Not only was she fucking her boss at one time (who is a married man), but she was also fucking indie developers who ended up shilling her game for her.  Even worse, a man who wrote a review of her game was another of the five guys that she was fucking.  He wrote a review for her game, even though they were casually having sex?  Really?!  That doesn’t strike you as the least bit unethical?  I can’t believe that.  For real, I don’t.  I don’t believe that you didn’t have some part of you, if you have any journalistic integrity at all, that didn’t think that promoting the game of a woman you are having sex with was wrong.  That’s just nuts.  What’s more, he went on to promote her on an article on Kotaku and Rock, Paper, Shotgun.  The lack of integrity just bleeds off the page, doesn’t it?

Quinn didn’t stop at just fucking to get herself ahead.  A subreddit called TumblrinAction had a story from an Indie developer who had a contest where women could pitch game ideas, they would do concept art for them, put it up online and have people vote on it.  Whoever got the most votes would have the game made for them, for free, and the proceeds would go to charity.  That sounds like a great cause, right?  Not to mention very nice for all the women like Anita Sarkeesian, who go on and on about how women are not in this industry.  Quinn decided to start a Twitter shitstorm and went after this group, even to the point of doxxing the head of it, because she considered it “oppressive.”  Why did she do this?  Well, they offered to make the game she pitched.  She did it so that she could get what she wanted, using her FWBs and Twitter and Tumblr feminist pals to put the heat on people who could do her dirty work for her.  She says that the idea for the contest is offensive, never clarifying and then being offered money for consulting work on future projects.  Ain’t that a sweet deal?

So, let’s recap – Zoe Quinn has fucked her boss.  She fucked Indie developers and even fucked the man who did a very positive review of her game, “Depression Quest.”  She goes after a company trying to do a good thing, doxx’s them, fucks up what they were trying to do for reasons that she NEVER makes clear, and uses her sexual connections to block the story getting out.  This is the kind of person she is, but that isn’t what bugs me.  For real, if she wants to fuck and manipulate her way to the top, go right ahead.  You aren’t the first to do it, and you won’t be the last (and before anyone says that I’m generalizing women, because of the stereotype that women do this, don’t think that guys are immune.  It goes both ways).

What bugs me is that this is what the gaming journalism industry considers acceptable.  This kind of blatant corruption is considered par for the course, from Geoff Keighley selling Doritos and Mountain Dew in his video about Halo 4 and gaming journalism, the GMAs and their blatant corporate pandering, to this woman and her unethical path to success.  It all shows that this industry is broken, and the people who are getting the worst of it are the gamers themselves.  We can’t trust the reviews and the journalism that we’re getting.  These people have an obligation to report what is important and to protect consumers from bad games.  Instead, bribes, kick-backs and dirty backroom sex games are now coming to light.  Is this what we want gaming journalism to be?

This is the Internet, people!  We can let our voices be heard when it comes to things like this, and we should.  Because at the end of the day, either we stand up for ethical reporting, or we just accept that it’s all just about who is paying or fucking who, and ethical integrity means nothing.  As for me, if they choose to come after some small-time blogger on WordPress, I won’t respond.  I won’t get into some Twitter flame war.  Go ahead and insult me all you want.  Because insulting me means that you have no argument for your unethical behavior.  And that, good sirs and madams, is telling indeed.

Although, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, if I learned anything from the amazingly-insightful film “Thank You For Smoking,” it’s that this kind of behavior is nothing new, to any industry.

Until next time, a quote,

“We have now reached a point where it has become blatantly obvious in. gaming journalism where relationships are influencing what gets published and what doesn’t.  It is no longer about reporting or journalistic integrity.  It is about who is fucking who and who profits from it.”  -Internet Aristocrat

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Rise of the Tomb Raider is Xbox One Exclusive?! WTF?!

I remember when I saw this topic on a couple of Facebook posts, and I thought to myself – no way.  Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix cannot be this stupid.  To make the sequel to the amazing reboot of Tomb Raider exclusive to one console would be the biggest marketing fail since always-online DRM.  However, as it turns out, stupidity and corporate greed do go hand in hand.

I went on to my YouTube page this morning, as part of my morning routine, when I came across this video one of my favorite video game reviewers – Angry Joe.  In his usual angry fashion, he talked about a corporate-lingo-riddled press release that Crystal Dynamics released confirming that yes, Rise of the Tomb Raider is going to be Xbox One exclusive.  I don’t fucking get this.

First – What the fuck, Square Enix?  For a company that is already having financial problems after the last console generation and all the shitty games on it, along with the massive financial black hole that was Final Fantasy XIV, how could you possibly think that making a game as popular as this was exclusive to one console is a good idea?  Your company isn’t doing well these days.  With Final Fantasy XV just around the corner, it seems like you are hinging a lot of hope on that game.  I think it looks amazing and totally insane.  I can’t wait to play it (unless you go and make that Xbox One exclusive too, you stupid fuckers).  But that game seems to be the lynchpin that you are hanging a lot of your hopes on.  You know what could help your financial situation – making Tomb Raider for all consoles and PC!  I don’t get why you can’t see this!

Second – Why Xbox One?  Really, how much dick did Microsoft have to suck for you to put out for them?  Xbox One is being outsold by the PS4 three to one.  I guess that Microsoft is getting desperate for a system seller.  After all, Halo 5 is nowhere to be found.  What else do they have going on?  I get their angle in all this.  They lost brand loyalty when they rolled out the Xbox One and people were disgusted with the DRM bullshit, the creepy Kinect stuff (which felt like Big Brother) and the weird integration that they were trying to force of all other systems into the Xbox One.  Brand loyalty is a fickle bitch, and the moment you lose it, it’s REALLY hard to get back.  Ask Bioware.  But why are you hedging your bets on the people who are selling less consoles?  How much did they pay you?

Finally – how do you, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics, not see how this is going to come back and bite you in the ass?  When you pretty much tell the PC and PS4 owners to piss off, how do you not think that that is going to blow up in your face?  Your press release was the most corporate-washed bunch of shit I have ever seen.  You know, if you just came out and said “Microsoft offered us a shit-ton of money because they are scared to death of the new Uncharted, so they wanted Lara” then at least we could have respected your honesty.  I would still be pissed off, but hey, it could be worse.  So yeah, this is really fucking stupid.

The more I think about it, the angrier I get, so I’m just going to end this too.  This was a terrible fucking decision on Square Enix and Crystal Dynamic’s fault.  It was clearly a corporate bribe that they took.  Short term gains that they better believe will cost them in the long term.  But hey, I guess that the bribe just looked really fucking good.  Remember, Crystal Dynamic – brand loyalty is a fickle bitch.  Bioware has suffered heavily for forsaking it, with the new Mass Effect not even getting a cursory glance from most of the people I know, along with the new Dragon Age.  Do you honestly believe that you are above it?  Do you honestly believe that you can avoid it?  Do you really think that the fans of the franchise are not going to chew you up and spit out your bone fragments into the wall of failed gaming companies?

And don’t think that saying that this is a “timed exclusive” is going to help you.  As a great article I just read pointed out, you may have missed your window with PS4 and PC owners, because, as I put it – you’ve just shit in the faces of the fan base of this game.  If you make them wait a year for your game, do you honestly believe that all of them will come running?  By then, they will have moved on to the next thing.  You get one shot to sell your game, and you’ve guaranteed that it won’t do as well.  Idiocy.  Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics – Microsoft’s money won’t save you in the long term.

But hey, maybe they want to end up like Capcom.  Say, who ended up buying them, anyway?  You know, after they declared bankruptcy.  That’s one major Japanese studio down.  Square Enix, unless you get your shit together, you’re next.

Oh, and so help me Cthulhu, if you try this shit with Final Fantasy XV, there will be Hell to pay!

Until next time, a quote,

“Yeah, they don’t want my money.  Apparently, they don’t want our money.  Everybody who bought it on Sony’s console, I’m sure was like ‘wow, that’s a pretty damn good game.  I can’t wait for a sequel.’  Well, guess what – same sort of situation.  Same sort of situation as Bayonetta.”  -Angry Joe, Angry Joe Show

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Fictional Teachers

Well, with school just around the corner, I thought that I would pay some lip service to the fictional teachers who we all got to know and come to love so well.  Those teachers who either brought something funny, absurd, insightful or educational into the world of their students and made them all better for it.  Now, I couldn’t restrict this to any one genre, but I am saying this – only one teacher per franchise.  That way, I don’t have half of the teachers from Hogwarts that I liked.  That said, here are my personal favorite teachers from fiction.  Let me know who you like in the comments section.

Mr. Garrison10. Mr. Garrison
South Park
Probably the only person who has ever been able to reign in the absolute dick-hole nature of Eric Cartmen, Mr. Garrison is fun on so many levels.  I still have fond memories of the scene where Mr. Garrison tries to teach the class about endothermic reactions by shoving a glass tube and then Lemiwinks up Mr. Slave’s ass.  He was a horrifically awful teacher who was just so much fun to watch.  Yet, despite his flaws, he was still there for his students, and was a part of the gay community in South Park, which made him even more interesting.  While not a great teacher by any stretch, he still did his best.  Being a totally perverted dick just happened to be a part of that.

Mrs. Krabappel9. Mrs. Krabappel
The Simpson
It was a sad day when I heard that the women who did the voice of Mrs. Krabappel, Marcia Wallace, had passed away.  Much like Mr. Garrison, Mrs. Krabappel was the only person who could reign in the antics of another famous problem-child, Bart Simpson.  On the surface, she sounds continually bored by her job, wanting to be anywhere but there.  However, she does have a certain soft spot for Bart.  There is an early episode where she is about to flunk him unless he retook a test.  Bart studied like crazy and actually put his very best into the test.  And yet, he failed.  It was an emotional scene when he tells her how hard he tried, yet still didn’t succeed.  A lesson that so few shows teach kids – that that can happen.  She was moved by him and decided to let him pass.  Not only was she a fun teacher, but seeing this woman’s on-again off-again relationship with Principal Skinner was hilarious.  Marcia Wallace leaves behind a legacy of an amazing character, and she will be missed.

Merlin8. Merlin
The Sword in the Stone
This whole film was a lot like being at school.  And what better teacher than the wizard himself, Merlin?  This is a fun guy to learn from.  Not only does he put his magical talents to use to show Arthur how the world is, but he also gives valuable lessons on what it takes to be a good king.  He’s a fun old man who enjoys being out in the wilderness and being able to be all magical and whatnot with his young pupil.  It is a role that feels very much like being an English schoolboy and listening to teacher give you your lesson.  I wonder what the English kids think about it?  Something to ponder, I guess.  In any case, not much to say other than – he’s a lot of fun, and it’s a very laid-back film.

Roland Pryzbylewski7. Roland Pryzbylewski
The Wire
This is one of my favorite characters on the show.  Originally, it is for the quiet and analytical mind that he brings to the table in the cases he works on.  He becomes a kind of protegee to Lester Freamon, he becomes one of the most valued assets of the investigations he is involved in.  After an incident on a case where he ends up shooting a black man, he is under investigation for what the department believes to be a racially motivated action on his part.  Rather than fight it, Pryz decides to ditch police work.  He becomes a teacher in the poorer part of Baltimore, and it is here that you see how good of a man he really is.  Rather than just teaching a dry and boring curriculum, he tries to engage students.  When he sees some of the hard-luck cases in his classrooms, he goes out of his way to try and help.  It is part of the cruel reality of the series when you realize how all his effort is for naught, as he is still just one man, against a system that is cruel and uncompromising.  Still, he is a great teacher and one of my favorite characters.

Miss Trunchbull6. Miss Trunchbull
Matilda
What’s that?  Why not Miss Honey?  Well, I’ll tell you why – because this woman was so much fun!  It’s clear that the woman who played her was having a lot of fun too, because this role was one of the most deliciously-evil villains I have ever seen.  The head of the school that Matilda ends up going to, she rules with an iron fist.  Any student who steps out of line is dealt with in the most severe way possible.  She flings one girl over a fence by her pigtails!  She also makes a kid who stole some of her personal chocolate cake eat an entire cake on his own, the goal being to either make him sick, explode or pass out.  Sure, this woman is about as pure evil as it gets, but you can’t help but love to watch it.  I’m glad that the woman who played her enjoyed the role as much as I did watching it.  I hope she went on to have a good career.

Ms. Grotke5. Ms. Grotke
Recess
If there is a more enjoyable and wholesome teacher to watch, I can’t think of it.  Ms. Grotke is a child of the 70’s, who never really left her hippie roots behind.  She brings that belief structure into the classroom with her, but doesn’t let that allow her to slide in her dedication to being a good teacher.  Not only does she teach differently, she is also very tight with her students.  It’s clear that she cares very deeply for each of them, and you see in the Recess film that parting with them is hard for her.  But that dedication is paid back in full.  Her class is dedicated to her as well.  When a substitute comes into class when she is away for surgery, TJ steps up against the man who very quickly becomes popular to the class.  This woman was a lot of fun to watch, and I also have missed being in her class in the mornings when I ate cereal and waited for the bus.

Ms. Frizzle4. Ms. Frizzle
Magic School Bus
If there was a class that I wished I could attend, it would have been this one.  This woman is 8 different kinds of cool!  With her catchphrase being “let’s take chances, make mistakes and get messy!” she shows that she is all about living life to the fullest.  This translates into her students and their classroom activities.  Every day must just be so fun in her class.  Granted, I’m sure that some days must be less exciting than the days where they are going on their regular “field trips,” but still, I doubt that anything in the class has students being like “ugh, not this again!”  A dedicated woman who I wish I could have had as a teacher back in the day, she is loyal to her students and despite putting them in extreme situations, she is always in control.  She wouldn’t let anything happen to one of her pupils.

Dumbledore3. Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter (series)
The definitive awesome teacher, this guy is arguably the most dedicated to his students as well.  The headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Professor Dumbledore is an eccentric wizard who loves to be ridiculous.  However, he never once takes his responsibilities to the students anything but seriously.  Known for being a soft-spoken man, he can get enraged and very unpleasant when he wants to.  Following the revival of the Dark Lord, he becomes the leader of the new Order of the Phoenix.  His battle against Lord Voldemort eventually leads him to having to sacrifice his life, knowing that he has put the elements in play for his plan to be completed.  The thing that stuck out most about Dumbledore, though, was his dedication to Harry Potter.  Becoming a kind of surrogate parent, he sees that boy like the son he never had.  A wise, brilliant and tragic man, he was loved by so many, before he passed on.

Heisenberg2. Walter White
Breaking Bad
Nothing like a teacher who is willing to break rules, right?  As a teacher, Walt’s talent was wasted.  A brilliant chemist who ended up having to become a teacher to pay his bills, Walt hates his life and wants it to change.  He gets his wish when he is diagnosed with lung cancer.  Following that, along with the fear that he will have no money to leave his family, a darker life begins, with him pursuing new world as a meth manufacturer and eventually distributor.  Thus begins his long battle between him and his ruthless alter-ego, Heisenberg.  The tragic descent of both characters into this new life, with it gradually consuming more and more of his world is a brilliant tale that should be counted among the greatest of American tragic films.  Alas, it won’t be.  Too bad.

And my favorite fictional teacher is…

Charles Xavier1. Charles Xavier
X-Men
The founding member of the X-Men, he established the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters.  On the surface, it appears to be a school for really smart kids, but in reality it is a safe place for mutants.  The school has all kinds.  It has kids whose parents want them to get help with their abilities, those who were thrown out by their families and those who are a danger to themselves and others, looking for a way out.  A wise man who cares very much for his students, like Dumbledore, Professor Xavier will do anything to protect them.  God help anybody who fucks with the school.  While he prefers to handle things without violence, Xavier has a special team of agents who will do whatever must be done to not only protect his people, but the normal people as well.  It’s one thing to stand up for your friends.  It’s another to stand up for your enemies.  Xavier was the most intelligent, kind-hearted and wise teacher who has ever been, and that earns him his spot here.

Remember to be grateful for the teachers in your real life who are better than the average dipstick.  And make sure to thank them for all their hard work.  Their wages and the public at large treat them like shit.  I’m sure they could use the praise.

Until next time, a quote,

“These lights represent every living person on the planet. These white lights are the humans… and these are the mutants. You see, Logan? We’re not as alone as you think.”  -Charles Xavier, X2

Peace out,

Maverick

Living With Depression, and Getting Up Each Day

I’ve been thinking about the death of Robin Williams.  Where once he was an amazing actor, making me, my family and my friends laugh, he battled some very hard depression.  It got me to thinking about my own life.  I’m also able to crack a good joke or a smartass quip that puts a smile on people’s face.  And like Williams, I battle some pretty hardcore depression.  It’s something that I’ve been fighting since a head injury when I was 14.  I don’t know if I am ever going to get better.  There are better months, and there are worse months.

LakeI was in the middle of a series of good months.  I got an apartment with a girl I was going out with.  After a failed relationship and years of loneliness, I finally thought that this was going to be it.  The sun was shining, for the first time in a long time.  Alas, like every other thing in my life, the moment that I thought I had found happiness, it slips through my fingers and shatters on the floor.  Now I am sitting in the lonely apartment, so ready to move out and never look back at this place.  I can’t bear to wake up here anymore.  I think to myself – why bother?  I mean, all I am going to see is evidence of the failure of my romantic abilities.  So yeah, I had a few good months.  For those months, I was sure that I had found something amazing.

The first thing I tell people who are battling depression – don’t listen to anyone who says that you just need to be more positive.  They are fucking retards and they don’t have a fucking clue what it’s like to have this ghost following you around.  They don’t have a single fucking idea.  The next thing is – have someone to talk to.  Be it a therapist, a dear friend, anybody.  I don’t have anybody anymore.  All my friends have stopped being around my life anymore.  I guess you can only be so depressing before people decide that it’s time to up and go.  It sucks, but that’s how it is.  I am too poor for counseling.  Wanna know what keeps me going?  Me too.  I can’t tell you why I keep doing what I do..  I honestly don’t know.

I’ll tell you what I think it is – those good memories.  I remember when my former best friend Emily was crying in to the Periodicals Room at the library of my first college.  I remember putting my arms around her and how tight she gripped me.  That memory is so amazing.  It hurts now because of how our friendship ended, but it still is an amazing memory.  Then there is when I rescued my friend Maddie from a bar downtown when her friends ditched her.  When she ran into my arms and held me tight, I felt like fucking Galahad.  Then there is the night that I ate peach yogurt and sat with my cat, watching Moonlit Lakemoonlight reflected on the lake.  So peaceful, and I could feel life returning to my bones.  The night I got to see my favorite musician, Chris Botti, in concert.  The band’s chemistry and their performance.  It was so fucking awesome!  Getting to share a kiss with a girl as I dropped her off at the airport, never knowing if or when I would see her again.  It was such an amazing kiss.  Her color, red and beautiful.  The hug she gave me afterwards, not wanting to let go.  Not wanting to leave.  Chilling on top of the fuel tank at my grandma’s house with a girl I still love (my first love, as far as I can remember.  Long story, that you won’t know) and the guy that I held as the brother I never had.

Those memories still mean so much.  I remember listening to Michael Jackson in the summer, baking to jazz and old-timey music.  That stuff grows on you!  It’s those little moments, along with the fear that I’m right (a safe assumption) and there is nothing after all this.  Don’t want to hedge your bets, right?

The best part of my day is when I’m at my hiding spot at work, watching cars passing by outside.  I watch the wind on the trees, rustling through the grass by the window, and I feel like, if I just was able to get out there, I could spread my wings and fly away.  I could fly into freedom and never look back.  I could find a roost somewhere quiet where I could live out the rest of my life in peace and quiet.  That’s the best part of my day.

Here’s my shitty advice – find someone you trust, and be honest with them.  Don’t do what I do and keep it all bottled up, hoping that you will eventually feel better.  You don’t want to live like that.  Trust me, I am the first guy to know what it’s like to live with this pain inside.  Next – have something you love to do.  Don’t let anyone else judge you.  If you want to do it, then fuck everybody else and get that shit done!  Lastly – pets help.  For real, I can’t wait to see my kitty again.

I am going to have to live with this my entire life.  My brain is damaged and there is not any cure.  But you all can find something better.  If you ever need anyone to talk to, hit up my Facebook or Tumblr  -

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LMaverick123
Tumblr: http://lmaverick123.tumblr.com/

Hit me up anytime on those pages, and I will listen.  Nobody should go through life alone.

Until next time, a quote,

“Sometimes I feel like I’ve felt everything that I’m going to feel.  That from here on everything is just going to be lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.”  -Theodore Twombly, Her

Peace out,

Maverick