|This is the start of a new section for my homepage -- a diary. On this page, I will be free to write my thoughts about the world. Some will be useless, others perhaps poignant. This is basically a "What's going on in Chris' world" page. I hope I'll be able to update this page regularly, and I hope you'll enjoy it somewhat.|
One thing that has dominated my thoughts over the past couple of months is my constant amazement at the ingenuity of the human mind. We are very creative beings, aren't we? Just think: every technological advancement, every created object that you see around you, was invented and made by somebody.|
But we don't really acknowledge the creators of such things as much as we praise or decry their presence. For example, you might use a computer at work and perhaps yell at the damn thing when it doesn't work as you want it. But did you ever stop and think that over the course of decades this century, a "computer" was created and has evolved with the help of many brilliant (and not so brilliant -- I'm looking at you, Bill Gates!) and eccentric people into what we now use today.
Of course, a computer, like most other inventions, is just a tool. It is without a context until somebody uses it. Many inventions are given a bad connotation because of the way in which some infamous individuals use them. Did Thomas Edison ever imagine that people would come to use his invention to grow marijuana indoors? It's a shame that once an inventor creates something, it becomes part of the collective technology called "civilization", and it becomes subject to use by people for reasons good or bad. It is out of the inventor's hands by then. (sigh) A moment's pause to think of the lowly inventor.
My mother still unconvinced, I then played a SID of the title song to "Times of Lore". After the "guitar" solo at the end finished, she said to me, "Wow, that was smooth." Not an instant convert, perhaps, but at least she understands better my argument about melody.
|I received my EEPROM programmer in the mail recently, so you should expect some more of my demos to be updated so that they work better. I'll try to make all of them work on actual NES hardware, you see.|
I went for a nice, long walk yesterday to clear my head. It took me four hours to walk from the waterfront where I live, to the base of Grouse mountain along a mountain trail, and back again. I packed some chocolate-covered cookies (big mistake in retrospect), but nothing to drink. I figured I could buy something along the way. Well, the last venues for purchasing drinks before I had to go into the bush happened to be shut down permanently, and closed on a Sunday, respectively. And it was a scorcher yesterday!! So, I didn't get a drink of water until two hours and fifteen minutes into my walk, when I stopped at the first drinking fountain I could find, which was at the Cleveland dam. All in all, it was a pretty good walk, and a great chance to enjoy nature without many external worries.|
Walks are good opportunities to collect one's thoughts. You should get away from that computer and try it sometime.
Man, this summer is going by way too fast!! I've come to the formula for an endless summer: Do lots of activities, go outside, travel. Hot weather is a must. None of these have I experienced in any good quantity this year, so this summer is blah so far. One thing's for sure, don't curse the gods for bad weather; they answer back with double the rain!|
Music is just so inspirational. Right now, I've given videogame music a bit of a break and have gone back to Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin for some fun. It's great listening to other people's works while creating. Makes the artistic juices flow a little bit easier. Everytime I listen to a classic or landmark musical piece, it reminds me of the amazing capacity we as humans have for artistic expression and creation. One thing about which I was thinking today was the subject of art. Is all art good? Like, is the fact that a work of art was created the sole justification for its existence? Sometimes I hear the term "art for art's sake" vilified, and pornography or the works of Robert Mapplethorpe used as supporting evidence for the contrary. I don't know what to say about that. As I figure it, every artistic creation has a message of some sort. So the artist is trying to express his or her feelings, trying to communicate. Now, is all communication good? See the problem? There's no definitive answer, but not communicating definitely is not good. So, take that as you will...
I haven't added much to my homepage in a while, because I have been busy working on something that didn't bear announcement -- until now. I have been developing my first game ever on the NES, called Solar Wars. Check out its page to find out more.|
I also took a week-long vacation to visit my dad in Penticton. I didn't spend any time on the coding for my game, so that delays the release of it for a little while. But I did manage to enjoy the company of my dad, my sister, and my best friend who joined me in Penticton. The weather was nice and hot for about half the week -- then the torrential rain came in. I definitely don't feel as though I spent enough time away on vacation! Oh, well, back to school soon. Groan....
|Well, I've started another year at SFU. This might be my last one for a little while, because I'd like to go abroad and teach English after this year. School has slowed down the development of my game, Solar Wars, but I will still try to get it out sometime in September. (Fingers crossed) Go and check out some new pictures of Solar Wars in the meantime, why don't you?|
|I want you to try to remember back 15 years, if you can. Think back to 1984 and ask yourself if you can remember actual events or feel specific emotions from that time. That's something that happened to me tonight, brought upon by a certain song by Foreigner. Music does funny things to you. Just hearing a song brings back images, feelings, and sounds from that time. In 1984, I was only six years old when that song came out. I remember really liking the song, and relating emotionally to the lyrics. When I heard that song tonight, I felt almost exactly the same as I did then, something truly amazing. There is in reality just a thin wall of time that separates in my brain the present-day me from the age six me. This made me think of two things: One, that emotions might be the longest-lasting portions of our memories; and two, that we should never underestimate the emotional maturity of children. At what age are children believed to have valid, powerful emotions? Not early enough, I think.|
|Solar Wars is finally out! Check it out here. It is a side-view tanks wargame for the NES, on which I have spent months working. At last, I can take a rest from coding. I think I'll do a game-playing binge, on some other system for a while!|
|Ahhh.... relaxation! Yesterday I finally took a long-awaited break from any kind of coding, and just played videogames for hours. I pulled out my TurboDuo, Genesis, NES, and Commodore-64 and had fun with each of them. It feels good just enjoying the fruits of other people's labours for a change. Anyways, today I updated my NES Audio Ripping Guide, and you can find it on my videogames page.|
I wonder what balance we have to make between meaninglessness and meaning in our lives. This is something that conveniently reared its ugly head at 3 in the morning last night. Think about it: We are biological creatures and we have been on the Earth for just a minute fraction of the Earth's age. We have only a dozen or so thousand years before we are gone too. The Earth and the rest of the Universe will continue to be here long after we are gone. So... if you consider that, why do we struggle so much for so many fleeting things? Why do we create things? Why do we bother going to work? Why, even, feed ourselves? If we thought about how truly meaningless all our little actions are, we would find no justification for doing anything. If I did that, I'd go insane. So, I have to find a balance somewhere between my curiosity about our place in the Universe, and my day-to-day obligations. Otherwise, I'd get hung up on everything that I thought about wanting to do...|
You can picture us as microscopic organisms living in a tiny tidepool somewhere. We frantically search for nutrients and resources under the surface of the water, never knowing of anything more. Life is completely satisfying and self-sustaining under the surface, but if any of us were to pop our heads above the water and see the vast world beyond the pool, we'd wonder what the Hell we were prizing our life there for.
On a less maudlin (but still boundless) note, I made a program on my NES that can display all the graphics ever possible and ever made. It does this by displaying all the possible bit patterns in a four-colour 8x8 region. If this were to be allowed to complete its cycle, it would eventually show every 8x8 font in every script, all the letters of the alphabet, all the possible Arabic symbols, all the Japanese syllabary, all the graphics in all the NES games made, all the copyrighted and trademarked images, everything. It's neat to watch, and it's educational.
The catch? There are around 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different possible images that the program can make before the cycle is completed. At 60 different images per second, it will take 180,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years to complete. For a clue to the reason why this will never happen, see the paragraphs above.
|Here's my tip of the week to you folks; heed it well. When faced with the choice of doing nothing and doing something, just do it!! I was coming home from a couple hours of work downtown, and I asked myself whether I wanted to go to the pawnshops to check and see if there were any good games there. I had planned not to, but I looked at my watch and realized that I would miss the next seabus no matter what I did. So, I said what the Hell and walked down Hastings street to check out the pawn shops. Lo and behold, in one of them were about 20 Famicom games!! I went home happy with 10 good ones that I had just bought. I would never have expected to find these in a pawn shop in the seediest part of town!|
Well, I just had my birthday recently. I turned 22, which is a significant number for me, at least. I generally regard the entire year that I was twelve as being the best year of my life, as well as probably the most eventful and influential. So, I'm reeling from the notion that it has been a full decade since I turned twelve. 1990 was the best year of my life, no doubt about that; so I will really start laying on the nostalgia come 2000.|
What was so great about being 12? Well, it sparked a big change for me, personality-wise. You could say I came out of my shell. The situation came round at school when I was placed into a group of 4 as the only male member. (No pun there!) Because of this unique (for me) opportunity, I resolved to be less of a nobody in class, and maybe attract some girls as well. I copped more of an attitude, used sexual double-entendres to the max, and actually did garner some attention from the ladies. I went too far, though, with my comedic ebulliance, because I really was still just forcing myself to be this outgoing guy; and I remained underneath just some terminally shy twelve-year-old. When the girl I liked actually started liking me, I still did nothing about it. I kick myself to this day for not asking her out then, as it would probably have enabled me to ask girls out in high school, with no problems at all. Since that didn't happen, I never took the leap into dating until much, much later. Oh well, you take the good with the bad. I think that if I hadn't tried to impress the girls in my group on that first day, I would likely have remained on the sidelines forever as some videogame-playing geek. Instead, I found out how much of a high it was to act out and draw positive attention to myself. This feeling hasn't left me since, but I did retract my personality again during the eleventh grade or so. I'll leave the explanation of that for a later date; I've revealed enough of myself as it is.
I've once again added my poetry and writing page to my website. It shouldn't disappear again, as I consider this to be just as important as my videogame contributions. I haven't written much at all in the last year, and my writing is definitely slowing down over the years, even though I still have just as many thoughts that deserve to be written down. So, why do I let them die? Probably because I feel a little more stability in my life right now. That's not necessarily a good thing: I feel a lot less of the despair that accompanies a shy, lonely life than I did last year or the year before, but it's probably because I gave up taking risks for fear of pain and have been coasting through life, to tell the truth. Please take the time to browse through my writing and let me know if you like it. I really ought to be unloading all this baggage to a psychiatrist, but I instead do it the hard way and try to figure out life for myself.
Well, it's finally 2000 after all these years of waiting!! So what? Was it at all like we all imagined it to be? Not in the least. I remember, back in the Eighties, the year 2000 seemed so far away. I remember when I was in the fifth grade hearing about how the kids entering kindergarten would be graduating in the year 2000. Video games that had 199x or 200x as the chronological setting for their stories seemed futuristic. I remember after I had seen Terminator 2 for the first time that even the year 1997 (when the Cyberdyne robots would take over the Earth) seemed so far away. Yes, the future, 2000 would be utopian and ethereal. The 2000 party would be gigantic and amazing.|
Well, as it turns out, it won't be for many people. You might be able to dream about a perfect place to be, the perfect people to be with, years in advance, but you take what you can get when it's the last day of 1999. Up until about a year ago, everybody was saying how they wanted to hold a gigantic party with everybody they knew. But, I don't know what it was, maybe the cynical and manipulative Y2K advertisements, the Y2K bug, or Biblical fears, but the closer 2000 approached the more people wanted just to stay home and be with their family or close friends. I had even made that decision back in 1998: to celebrate 2000 with my close family. Even that didn't happen. I spent New Year's with my best friends, and their family. That almost didn't happen as well.
But am I disappointed or depressed? Not really. The fact that we are, ironically, still not in the new millennium illuminates the theme of my diary today: nothing is perfect. You might want to have the biggest party on earth for 2000, but many things will get in the way of it happening that way. Christ's birthdate (which is the anchor for the Christian calendar and for the entire designation of the year 2000) has been shown to be debatable. Thus, the year 2000, and the beginning of the new millennium, are highly mutable. We might have already missed the "true" bimillennium by several years, or we might just be chasing a holy grail that isn't even there. Furthermore, the new millennium doesn't even start numerically until 2001, if we do agree on a birthdate for Jesus. If we had twelve fingers on our hands, we'd all be looking forward to the year 2400 to celebrate. The significance of 2000 is just a product of our base-ten number system, is what I am trying to say. It's a numerical convenience. The year 2000 truly is meaningless.
So, people looking for a great paradigm-changing revelation will be gravely disappointed. Those who invest little enthusiasm in the year 2000 will probably get the most out of it. This new year, decade, century, millennium of ours won't change anything for us. The future won't automatically be better. We all have to use our positive expectations for the millennium as catalysts for improving our societies. In looking at the countless recent summaries of our passing millennium, I believe that we are really just focussing on the passing century, not the decade or millennium. The "most important people" of all time are generally chosen from the 20th century. And nobody is doing a nostalgic inventory of the 90s. Why? People are placing the highest division between centuries. Everything that we do now will now be viewed as actions in the 21st century, just how there is a clear ideological distinction between the 1800s and the 1900s. The 20th century will be discarded from our minds much faster than the 1980s or 1990s will be. The window to the past has shut, and our perception of this is what is most significant about the year 2000.
|I know it's been a long time since I last wrote a diary entry. I've been unbelievably busy with school assignments and essays. Thank God that's all over for the time being! I still do think about things and have opinions, so I hope to write some more in this space soon. This is just a small note to say I haven't forgotten about this page! Bye for now.|
Okay, here go the floodgates. I've been thinking a lot between other things, and now I feel I have the urge to write some stuff.|
Recently, I saw the movie adaptation on TV of H.G. Wells' seminal The Time Machine, and it brought up many cool ideas that still puzzle us in our time. The most unsettling one is the question of how the human race will evolve over the next thousands of years. Wells' story jumps forward to the year 80,000 or something, and the protagonist (I forget his name) discovers to his horror that the human race still does exist, but merely as mindless livestock for a barbaric race that is debatably more advanced than the humans. The sum of humankind's extant achievements is stored in their museums, but nobody tends to them. They have few books, but nobody can read them. This leaves the burning question for us of why we strive to create so much, so many things, when they are doomed to crumble into dust. Accelerate through time like Wells' protagonist does, and we see empires rise and fall, over and over in flashes, like alternating day and night.
One thing that nobody wants to think about is the inevitable decline of the human race. I don't want to think about that either, but the thought still intrigues me. I know that I will die someday, and so will my progeny, and their progeny too. Every civilization eventually dies out. It's just amazing to wonder what will happen in the future, when so much has already happened in the last five years, ten years, thirty years, fifty years, hundred years, thousand years! Anyway, one thing that I found interesting in the movie was how attached the protagonist was to his love interest, and to the plight of the humans in the future. It dawned on me in the scene where he's leading the humans on their escape from the Morlocks' lair. He's assisting humans, trying to save them from death -- but these humans are in the future! The second he goes back in time, they (and all their problems with the Morlocks) will cease to exist. The protagonist will have undone all his struggling, because none of the humans' enslavement will have happened yet. So, he's fretting over nothing. This is all pretty funny in a paradoxical sort of way. The protagonist could have blown up the entire world in the future, for all it would be worth, because when he returns to his time (1900), none of that would have happened yet at all. Funny. :-)
Ahh again, more ruminations on the subject of time. I can remember so much from every point in my life, back to my early childhood. Some of it seems like an eternity, some of it like a blur. Some of it, strangely, seems like it has disappeared from my life, yet if I think about what actually happened during that time, it all returns accompanied by so much pain. It's a weird thing, that. I think that there's a difference between 'actual time' (ie, 2000 A.D.), and what I might call 'emotional time' (ie, how old you actually feel, or what year your mind is stuck in, or the emotions from which year you are still trying to process.) So, a new term for everybody to kick around.
For example, of course we're in the year 2000, but I don't feel that I'm riding the wave of this year. I'm stuck in the past. When in the past? Well, parts of me are still thinking they're in 1999; other parts, still in 1996 or 1995; and yet others, still in 1990 or 1989. They're still inhabiting that frame in time emotionally, and that's the best I can do to describe the phenomenon that I feel. It's like (picture if you will) waking up in the year 2500, seeing the hovercars whizzing about you overhead, and thinking, "I don't belong here. All this seems foreign to me." Well, that's how I feel sometimes when I think about this year, or what has happened to me in the last decade or so. It's too bad computerized "thought scanners" don't exist, so I could find out just what the Hell I was thinking.
Okay, chapter two of all this. I've been thinking about what I've learnt from ending a relationship, and it's what is about to follow. You might not like this advice, but it rings true for me, and it might for you too. It might save your future emotional state. So, here goes. When you break up with somebody, or somebody dies, or you get a divorce, don't listen to any kind of music. No Zamfir or Morrisey (sp?) or Blue Rodeo or Ricky Martin or Chris Isaac. Nothing. Just deal with your grief in silence or with a friend, or some other solitary way. I'll tell you what happened with me, and then explain why my advice might be universal.
Back in the summer of 1995, I was going out with a wonderful girl. She was very special to me, but she was wrestling with the decision of attending university in town or over on the other side of the country. Well, the night before the day on which it would turn out that she had made the decision, we went out for dinner. After saying goodnight to her and going home, I had this feeling that something was wrong, like this was the last time I'd see her. So, I called her up and asked her if there was anything important that she had to say but didn't; she said 'no'. (This is all just a side-story so far.) So, the next day, I went out with some friends and we rented an SNES game (Super Bomberman), and played it at my place. At one point in the day, I had only one friend over, and he was playing the game in my room, while I listened to music downstairs (Destination Escathon (sp?), by the Shamen.) I got a call. It was my girlfriend calling from the airport, saying that she was there with her dad, and that this was goodbye. (I had the feeling the night before, but never imagined that it would be true, that that would be the last time that I would see her.) Anyway, this absolutely devastated me. I wasn't prepared to see her leave that summer, of course; but I still had fantasies of how romantic our parting would be, with a tearful farewell at the airport gate. Instead, it was over the phone.
I stopped the music on the stereo, and went upstairs. My friend was still there, naturally. I had to wait a couple of hours until he left, before I could just fall apart and start crying. So, there I was, trying to act naturally in front of him, playing Bomberman on my SNES, shaking minutely. After my friend left, it was the end for me. I cried for days, weeks after that. This was the end of my summer, and the verifiable end of my youth. But of course, time progresses forward, and one has to as well. I continued my summer unhappily and entered college. During that time, one song that I heard on the radio and really loved was Five Days in May, by Blue Rodeo. That song was just beautiful, and it was a balm to me, helping me regain some emotional stability in the months to come.
So, months turned to years, and how do I feel now? Well, I don't feel so goddamned awful anymore, with a little bit of optimism in my life, and pleasant memories of my time spent with her. But what has my experience done to my love of the songs? Every single time I listen to Five Days in May, I think of her. And I don't want to be doing that. Every time the song is played, those very specific memories of loss and months of ensuing pain return to me. The song is beautiful, and I appreciate it, but it has an unwanted emotional component now. As for Destination Escathon and Super Bomberman, well that's even more telling. I can't even stand to listen to that song. I can't look at the album cover. I won't ever play a Bomberman game on my SNES. The mind is associative, and those events bring very specific associations of the pain felt on that day. The opening rhythmic bars of the song would effectively plunk me down in emotional time just one or two minutes before my girlfriend makes that fateful telephone call to me. Right before the bomb hits is where I wouldn't want to be, ever. Especially if you know that the bomb is about to hit. (That's also another interesting thing about time and memories, but I'll address that some other time. Be sure to remind me.)
So, picture a simple event or piece of art, like a movie, book, or song. It is without associations of any kind, until you give it associations all throughout the course of your life. Five Days in May is a great song, and I loved it to pieces during a traumatic time in my life. But now, five years later, I won't touch it unless I'm prepared to feel that little bit of pain during the song. I would never nonchalantly listen to it like I would a Jimi Hendrix or Daft Punk album. In fact, almost all of the albums that I purchased in 1995 have that painful tinge of memory, simply through some kind of temporal contagion; The Who, Moby, The Moody Blues, and Chris Hülsbeck all have some emotional component to them which I can no longer separate from the great music itself.
Therefore heed my warnings, young lovers (he says, waving a bony old finger in the air.) Listen to whatever depressing or inspiring music that you feel like during those times of pain. But be warned that those songs will never mean the same thing to you ever again because of that. It'd be another funny thing about life and time and memories, if it weren't so bloody sad....
Today, I won't be writing much. I just released a new demo on the NES that celebrates the good ol' 1980s, and my memories of that time. You can check it out on my videogames page.|
Also, far more importantly, today I celebrate what was the second-best day of my life, five years ago today, on a sunny Friday evening just like this one. I won't give details, but beloved Denise, if you're out there, I hope you have fond memories too. I'll be all misty-eyed tonight, but just wait until July 9th!
Wow, so we're already halfway through the year 2000! First, I'll wish a happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians. Next, I'll go back to what I said right on January 1, when the whole Y2K hoopla was finally over. Well, the year's half over, and for almost everybody that I know, it has been a difficult one. Business-wise, love-wise, this year has been worse than many in recent memory. Is it just a result of Y2K letdown on a global scale? Or is there something else happening? ...|
Today is also my best friend Simon's birthday. He turns a creaky 23. :-) I predicted that my diary this year would be chock full of nostalgic ramblings, but I haven't written many. I am full of nostalgia and bittersweet happiness over my past, and I truly want to purge it from my system, but I just don't find the willpower to go through with writing it all down. So today, I'm indulging again. The weather outside is gloomy, so I'm just hanging around the house. Just for the hell of it, I decided I'd watch a favourite movie of mine, Chungking Express. Here's my recommendation: if you haven't seen this movie before, then look for it!!!!
Chungking Express is a movie that came out in 1994 in Hong Kong. It was shot in a very minimalistic style, with a portable camera. It is essentially two different movies in one, but many themes and settings are shared between the two halves. The first part centres around two different people in Hong Kong: a drug-smuggling woman who goes to great lengths to avoid double-crossing and capture, and a lonely young police officer who pines for his ex-girlfriend of five years. The man enacts many quiet, desperate measures to assuage his loneliness; anybody who has never wanted a relationship to end will see much of himself in the officer. In the end, the officer and the woman meet at a bar, but neither says much nor does much. They are just there for some quiet companionship.
The other half of the movie revolves around a girl's crush for a different policeman. She works at a fast-food take-out where he usually buys his lunch. He shows no interest in her, but she manages to find out his address and secretly pays several visits to his apartment while he is out on duty. While in his apartment, she redecorates, cleans, changes pictures, and generally goofs around. Finally one time, she is about to leave his apartment as he is entering it. The man then realizes her affection for him, so he decides to ask her out on a date. However, she never shows. A year later, they finally meet at the take-out place, but each acts aloof. This whole movie is about all the narrow misses we make in our desperate search for love. And when we ignore the potential of a relationship with every person we know, we always run the risk of missing something good. I think that anybody who has ever desperately loved another will appreciate this movie. It is sublime and brilliant.
Alright, I know I haven't written much all summer. Well, it's the usual excuses, see. Too busy with teaching and work to write things... I've been in love... I've been depressed...|
Well, I've started writing about my memories of 1990, something that I've been wanting to do since... well, 1990! A story about my trip to California should come soon. Until then, here's something cool that I remembered yesterday. Well, there's a song by George Michael called One More Try, which I just looove. Whenever I hear that song, I get nostalgic for my past.... Anyhow, I remember this nostalgia from a vague feeling of remembrance that I had several years ago. I remembered an incident yesterday. Maybe it happened about 1991 or so, and I heard that song on the radio. I was 13 then, and I remember that when I heard that song, I became nostalgic for my past back in elementary school.
So, it's weird. Hearing a song, and feeling nostalgia for a time when I was nostalgic for an even older time. I have all these great memories from what seems like ages ago, and I don't want to forget any of them. I think I need to write them down. I should have written them down, maybe at that moment, in a diary. One's past is like a departing ship: it is constantly moving away in the distance, yet it never disappears from the horizon. All the important memories of our lives are still perfectly stored in our minds; it just takes some kind of emotional or physical trigger to shake loose the bubble and bring it to the surface. More on this later, perhaps...
Well, what a weird summer. It's drawing to a close, and I have many regrets about this one. Today was my last day of teaching at the language school where I have been teaching since late May. I'm going back to university in September, so I can't teach there on a regular basis anymore. It started back in February, actually, when I was doing my TESL practicum at the school. I had a good time, and I signed up as a substitute teacher there after finishing my practicum. After two subbing gigs, the director of the school asked me if I wanted to teach classes on Fridays, which really shocked me. It was only a temporary thing, and I thought it would only last a month or two; however, each month, it was expected of me that I'd keep going at the school, to my minor chagrin.|
Starting out teaching was hard. Really really hard. The first couple of weeks had me really wondering if this career was right for me. That, I still don't know. But the teaching got easier. I was becoming less nervous and I began adopting a "don't care" attitude. Maybe it's a good thing to grow a tough shell; maybe it will lead to my downfall. Who knows? Who cares?
The worst thing that happened to me was the fact that I worked 5 or 6 days a week, almost all summer. No, wait, the real worst thing was my falling in love in the most impossible of situations. But that's all I'll say about that. So, now, I want to take a vacation. I need it. I feel I deserve it. Ain't nobody gonna stop me from relaxing until school starts. (And maybe even beyond then, too.) So, because of this working summer, the 4-month break between the end of university and the beginning of university was meaningless. It certainly wasn't a break at all, much less a vacation. In fact, I look forward to taking classes just because they're a break from working. Blah!! Do you see what becoming a drone can do to your thought patterns!?
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not giving some pampered sob-story about wanting to have a break five days out of seven. Boo hoo, wah wah. I'm just saying that in my life, I want a balance between work and leisure time. I suggest to you all that you seek that too. Let's put this simply: work is not the most important thing in life. In fact, if there is work in your life that contributes little to your wealth or happiness or chance for future wealth or happiness, don't do it! But don't just watch TV instead, either. Try to do something to build yourself up inside. We all need plenty of time off just to think, to think about what we can to to reach true happiness in the world, to think about what we can do to make ourselves better people. Too much time is spent worrying about how to make more money, and not enough on simply being happier.
Anybody that calls you a bum for not wanting to work five days a week is just jealous. Not that anybody has called me a bum; it's just the culture nowadays is intently focused on the weekday-work / weekend-party dichotomy. And usually with this pattern, each is done to excess. Dig?
That's why I am kind of relieved that my path forked a couple of years ago. I had the choice of digging in and working harder towards improving my math grades and working for that computer science degree, or switching careers towards something English-related. Well, at least the environment in teaching is there for me (who knows whether I'll actually be able to utilize it): There are far more nice girls in my linguistics and education classes than there ever were in the comp sci classes. And, I've made some good friends from former students. I can picture what I would be doing right now if I had pursued the computing future. I'd be much wealthier, with far more technology around me; yet I'd be toiling endlessly (indeed in an endless loop with no prospect of finality) in a computer cubicle, with a pockmarked complexion and masturbation-addled hands.
I know what I'm talking about because I see these harbingers of what I could have become in my travels. And with the personality that I have which is addicted to the drug of easily-mastered solitude, I know I made the wise choice. So, I wonder how long it will take them to see, to realize. Computers are easy things to dominate completely; that's why geeks go for things like them. But they are completely unfulfilling. Try it with the real test, human relationships. The rules are different. It's hard, a lot harder than assembly. If these guys managed to work for years after high school, alone, just them and their computers, without ever regretting not losing their virginity, or never trying to get more friends, or never questioning their source of happiness, then I'm amazed and awed. But I betcha these guys who are stuck in soul-sucking work will become disillusioned about their entire life sometime in their mid-thirties, just in time for a mid-life crisis. Please, kiss your love today. I know I'm trying.
Wow, whaddya know? Exactly a month since my last diary entry. I've been busy. I took a short vacation at the end of August, and started a new year at university. This year looks like it will be the hardest, with tonnes of books to read and essays to write. However, my romantic prospects look brighter than ever before. And it is on the subject of love that I will speculate today.|
I ruminate philosophically on lots of things when I'm alone, and lately, I have been thinking a lot about love, as a concept, an emotion, a practice, and what it all means to me.
First of all, the basic premise. Love means a lot of things to different people. For some it is as simple as having a certain feeling for somebody else; for others it is as complicated as a desire to dominate or engulf somebody in possessiveness. When people argue about what love is all about, it's not surprising since the arguers probably have their own different ideas in their heads of what love is. Love is the simplest of all emotions, and yet it is the most difficult to describe. Everybody feels it to different degrees for different people, but everybody knows the physical feeling that love rouses from inside. Love can inspire restlessness in the experiencer, or it can bring peace and serenity to him. We can't explain away our feelings of love in the same way that we can rationalize anger or intellectualize suffering. Love is a strong emotion and everybody feels it, but we don't want to know about other people's love, much less that of our own.
I began by thinking philosophically, really hypothetically, about what love at its purest form is. Love is the basic feeling that draws us to other people. We, at some primal level, simply want to be close and intimate with somebody else. Is love a dependence? All people have felt love from when they were babies, but we can't really know whether an infant feels love in the sense that we know it, or whether it is just an instinctual dependency on a parent figure, or some provider of shelter and safety. Who knows? Is the love that we feel as adults more like some higher form of spirituality that people dream about, or is it more like that infantile dependence which shames us?
At the most idealistic level, love is a universal thing. As human beings, we can feel love for any other creature, for any other person on the earth. Biologically, we are predisposed to feel love. However, it is cultural and societal influences which limit this universal love. First, in many cultures, gender narrows one's list of potential loves. Then, maybe, age, and race. Wealth, social status, and appearances further narrow down this list. What we are left with is still a pretty large list of people, but passions between people who transgress these boundaries are those that are most perilous, and most interesting to me. I just shot off a quick list of qualities, maybe ranked in descending strength; however, look at these qualities. They are human barriers against something higher and stronger than our humanity can prevent. These are almost all flashpoints for debate and division. Homosexuality is the biggest issue in terms of love in society, but not being homosexual, I won't venture any explanations or strong opinions. However, I picture it thus: we all feel love for different people, from our parents and siblings, our friends, and our lovers. I believe that it is the same kind of love for all of them, however weaker or stronger depending on the person. It is not foreign, then, to feel strong love for members of the same sex. Lust, on the other hand, is a separate matter. I believe that love can be separated from lust, so that love is a binding and universal thing, while our lusts are fickle and selective. I feel lust for females; other people, for males; others, for both. I won't go any farther into the equally complicated issue of lust.
At the same rate, we use the other barriers to limit our emotions. Sexual love between a really old person and a really young person is seen as an unnatural abomination. But would you say that when you were, say, seven, that you didn't feel love for your parents? That you didn't know what love really meant? We tend to think that love is something like intellect, which matures over time, while we forget our own feelings during our childhood and our adolescence. The love felt then is no different than that which I feel now. It is still strong, rushing, and desperate, in some cases. Why do adults reduce the love felt by two twelve-year-olds for each other to nothing more than "puppy love" or "infatuation"? The relationship for these two lovers might be foreseeably brief, but that doesn't mean that the nature of the passion felt by each is necessarily diminished in any way. What are we afraid of in love? What causes us to be cynical when we see another in love, the same feeling which instills completely blind optimism in us?
My point, then, is that culturally we have too much apprehension, too much of a 'hang-up', with love. The Chinese, for example, traditionally view romantic love as being a tragic and sad situation, a degenerative one. Other cultures take a laissez-faire attitude towards it, acknowledging that love is as natural and important a feeling as anger, happiness, or lust. In our North American culture, we're jaded. Romance is a quaint notion. We see being in love as a failing, a sign of weakness, of surrender to the opposite sex. We treat it as a problem rather than a solution to all our problems.
Well, I feel love. I take no shame in admitting it. I feel a strong love for many girls and women at once, for it is both possible and honourable. None of them is my girlfriend, so I don't accuse myself of cheating on them. The love that I feel is an admiration of their endearing qualities and a gratefulness for their mere presence. In short, I am thankful for 1) being attracted to the female sex, 2) their friendship and camaraderie, 3) their beauty and vivacity. It is all these things in love which -- although they make we wish I were dead in their absence -- inspire me to be a better person through kinder gestures, optimistic ideas, and purer feelings in their presence. So, finally, the next time you fall in love with somebody, anybody, count your blessings for this opportunity to reveal the purest part of your soul. And thank providence for there being somebody in the world that loves you back.
|Wow, what a great feeling it is to know that today is the best day of my life!|
Well, Happy New Year, everybody! It's been a long time since I've written in my diary. Since October, I've spent a lot of time with my girlfriend, finished another semester at SFU, moved houses, taken a trip to London, England, spent Christmas Eve with my girlfriend, spent Christmas Day at my Dad's house in Penticton, and experienced New Year's with my Girlfriend (again!). I've even started on a new NES game, which should come out sometime this year. :-)|
Maybe I'll write some more in here when I have more free time.
I'm just writing to give you a quick update of what's going on in my life. I've started a new year at university, probably my last for a little while. I haven't been updating my game much; I've been too busy with school and my girlfriend, plus I've been playing lots of great videogames for the PC-Engine, Nintendo, and Gameboy. I finished an autobiographical story about 1990, which I strongly urge you to read. You can find it on my Poetry Page.|
I had a busy weekend. Yesterday, I went to a flea market and found some cool things, like a Hong Kong NES, a Tengen Tetris, and two Gameboy multicarts. I only went home with a 105-in-1 GB multicart, though. Maybe I'll pick up more next week. I also went to the local thrift store and casually looked through the records for sale (at 50¢ each!). I found some good records that were just too irresistible to pass up. I went home with Zamfir, the Police, the Honeydrippers, and a 4-record set of Classical music greats. I was happy! In the evening, we played videogames together (the aforesaid GB multicart) and I showed her some of my favourite Amiga demos from the good ol' days. Today, I went for a walk around North Vancouver with my girlfriend, and we took home a yummy pizza. Quite a relaxing weekend.
I've been doing so much lately that it's been hard keeping up with the diary. I started a personal diary just last week, something that I should have begun a long, long time ago (Like when I was a kid). I started it because I am forgetting what I had done from week-to-week as the weeks go on. Also, I want to have a record of my thoughts and actions over the years (especially while I have a girlfriend with whom to make some nice memories).|
Recently, I've been doing essays and projects left and right. I have one essay left to write, then I'll be free from school for a few weeks. However, next semester my girlfriend returns to her country, and there is currently a bus strike going on, which makes it almost impossible to get to class on Burnaby Mountain. I'll have to contend with both those traumas this summer. :-(
Until then, I'll keep relaxing when I should be working, and play games when I should be programming. I'm totally inspired by the works of others in the videogame field. There is so much talent going around, I'm astounded. I've been reading old magazines from 1990-1993, catching up on all the forgotten and unreleased games. The 1990s have been quite a ride for all of us old to remember the momentous events that took place. We're quite at an advanced age now, and the only thing hanging around from a dozen years ago is that damn Nintendo Gameboy! It's like a cockroach: you just can't kill it no matter how hard you try! I only wish my Amiga had been that resilient...
Yeah, I know that it's been a long time since I wrote anything significant in this diary. Well, I've been busy with other things... My girlfriend is going back to Japan in four days, and I have two huge essays that I will have to construct and compose within the next month. I'll be a busy and sad little boy...|
I've been trying to write occasionally in my personal diary, so that's why you haven't seen many updates to this page. I'm not looking forward to the coming month... I've been trying to keep my head above water, as it were, but I've just barely managed to do it. I find that I spend the week working, studying, and then I devote the rest to my girlfriend. I have little time left after that to keep up with current affairs, or even to clean up my room! At least with my girlfriend gone, I'll have a lot more free time for my essays, but I would trade it all for another year spent with her... Oh, well. It's all a learning experience, right?
See ya next time.
Well, nothing for months, then all of a sudden a flood of text, eh? Yes, I have something interesting to say, finally! A while ago, a guy involved me in a discussion about Japanese vs. American videogame choices, Here's what he asked:|
Why do you think companies (Konami in particular) refuse to release certain games here, or if they do, they butcher them all to hell? Is it still economically unwise to release overly-Japanese works in America? Symphony of the Night is a great example of this problem. The manual was god-awful (no extra artwork, it was in black and white, and it actually "forgot" to cover certain key game play issues.) In order to get the real version of the game, it forces people to import it, or worse, buy it off of someone on ebay. I've seen Rondo of Blood (DracX) being sold for extremely high prices. I'd love to play that game, but its almost impossible to afford, and so I can only hope to find the so-so SNES port.
My opinion now follows. I'd like anybody out there who agrees/disagrees to e-mail me with your opinions!
Well, that's a complicated issue, but it's one that I take real interest in. Personally, I believe 100% in the sacredness of artistic vision and integrity. I always lament when a game is changed from its original conception for reasons political, economic, or censorious. I think that a game that is programmed in Japan should be allowed to have all its idiosyncratic Japanese flavour intact if it ever reaches these shores. Of course, we can't just have direct importation of Japanese games in North America; I mean, the reality of life is that most of us speak English, so these games have to be delivered to us in English. That's just the fact about our continent. So, I don't mind that games are translated from Japanese. However, any modification beyond that, and I am angered. Any game programmed in Japan has an obvious Japanese quality and aesthetic; there's no point to try and disguise that.
It all boils down to the companies' perception of what American (really this means North American) gamers want. (Well, actually, I'm talking about the early- and mid-90s' perception, because that HAS changed recently. I'll talk about that later.) Generally, most companies assumed that the typical "American" gamer prefers action and sports games over character- or story-driven adventure, RPGs, etc... Plus, there was anti-Japanese sentiment in America back in the early '90s; you might remember that. Pretty much, the marketing people in the companies believed that if a game or product was perceived to be foreign, it wouldn't gain as much widespread acceptance as a clearly American-made product. So, what they did from the '80s up to the present was remove content from games to eliminate any "unacceptable" Japanese flavour. This included removing Kanji characters in the backgrounds, changing hair colour and eye shape in characters, removing typically Japanese "cuteness" from scenarios, etc.. Ironically, many of these "Americanized" games have ridiculously incorrect and bizarre English grammar, giving away their foreign origins anyway. Of course, many games were simply left in Japan because they were deemed too "unacceptable" to American tastes. That's quite a shame.
Some really notable offenders (in terms of mangling artistic integrity and censorship) are the Ranma½ - Street Combat fiasco on the SNES; Parodius and Goemon 2,3,4 never coming out on the SNES; several chapters in the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series being left out in America; Mother not being released on the NES; Hebereke/Ufouria not being released in America (but in Europe and Australia); Top Secret/Bionic Commando having its controversial Nazi themes removed; the shunning of some beautiful Japanese art for awfully generic American art; the list goes on...
It also comes down to this: In Japan, videogames are considered not only entertainment products, but art forms. This opinion is less held in America, in which games are perceived to be just toys for kids. This is why, I think, many companies showed "couldn't care less" attitudes as far as writing instruction manuals and providing extra, value-added freebies with their games. Thus, in Japan, most instruction manuals (for many systems) were bright and colourful, with great illustrations and text throughout. In America, often the manuals for the same games were flimsy affairs, mostly black-and white, and poorly illustrated and annotated. In addition, game companies assumed that most games would be bought by parents for their kids; this explained removing controversial or "mature" themes from many games, in addition to the perception that Japanese gamers were more serious and better games players than their American counterparts. Of course, the Japanese players are better than the American ones, if one is comparing the entire range of players in Japan to just the children in America!
All my life, I have always enjoyed playing all videogames, and even as a child, I "knew" that many of these games were foreign imports; I simply didn't care. I relished a good game. Personally, I think Japanese humour, art, and aesthetics are great and unique. There is always the opposing viewpoint, however; the stereotype that game companies have about typical American tastes has to come from somewhere. One of my friends, who moved to Canada from Seattle when he was in adolescence, has always liked fantasy games and RPGs on computers. However, he can't stand Japanese art and animation, thinking that it's too childish and effeminate, or something. So, I suppose he's one person who enhances the stereotype. He prefers more photorealistic "American" fantasy art of the Heavy Metal type (which happens to be French, anyway). But, at the same time, that's fine. If a game is made in America, let it have American-style art; but if a game is made in Japan, it should have the aesthetics that its original creators intended.
Nowadays, Japanese art and animation have had such an influence (in the geek circles, at least) that there is now a Japanese "chic" in video games and their advertisements. I don't like this, even though it may still be better than no Japanese art at all. I see many game ads flaunting and imitating Japanese styles and culture, to the point that the companies try to make it a selling point for all the casual (and fanatic) manga and animé otakus out there. Japanese aesthetics are merely being co-opted by the same game companies that used to hide them, for the purposes of selling the games to what it perceives as niche markets. So, a game's Japanese origins aren't being simply conveyed to the same degree with which they exist back in Japan; they're being amplified for the sake of "exoticism." It's good that more Westerners are interested in Japanese aesthetics than before, but it shouldn't be accomplished through exotification of the subject; it should be more honest, more direct.
As an example of a more healthy relationship, I'll point over to England and Europe. England has been more receptive to Japanese aesthetics than America for years. Animé isn't considered a part of geekdom in England as much as it is in America. So, Japanese animation is sold as yet another interesting import; it isn't either amplified or diminished in status and prestige (as it is alternatingly so in America). As a testament to this, NES and SNES games such as Parodius, Pop 'N Twinbee, Dragonball, Rodland, Ufouria, and Xandra no Daibouken (Whirlo) have been released in Europe, and never over here. These are all games that have a cutesy, Japanese flavour to them that American companies have somehow found unsellable.
As for Konami, I can't blame them too much for their sporadic release schedule. They release(d) dozens of games each month for many systems, so their American arm wouldn't be able to cope with the flood of releases and translations, even if they really wanted to. But, generally, yes, in the 1980s and 1990s, many companies (including Konami) could have done much better in releasing great games over here, as well as translating them better and with more respect to the original artistic vision of their Japanese producers.
So, I've written a lot. These are just my opinions on the subject, not statements of fact. If you want to read other examples of what I say on the subject of Japanese/American censorship, I'll point you to:
and, I recommend trying to find (for great SNES info) Super Play Magazine, published in England from 1992-1996. I have some reviews of the mag here: Magazine Special. If you ever track down issues of the magazine, try to find issue #10, which has a photo exposé all about the differences between Japanese and American "tastes."
That's it for now! Let me know what you think!
So, where do I start? The context. The Pentagon and the World Trade Centre towers were attacked by terrorists. I was sleeping that morning of September 11 and I received a phone call rather early. I ignored it. Then a second phone call came. I answered it, as I always assume that any phone call that comes early in the morning has to be an emergency. It was my friend Simon on the phone. He told me to turn on the TV right away. Something major has happened in the States. So, I went over to the TV and watched the news for two hours. It was horrible. I thought of all the people who had died in all of these attacks, and I felt saddened. What a waste. Why must people fight each other, and in such a way?|
I'm a Canadian, so these attacks on the U.S. hit close to home without actually affecting me patriotically. I understood that it was a symbolic attack on the U.S., but I cringed when I heard President Bush say that it was an act of war. I knew where he was leading; I knew what was coming. I knew what he would be trying to do in the months to come. A declaration of war is when a country attacks another. In this case, it was a group of terrorists who attacked another country independently of the country that they were residing in. So, it isn't an "act of war." I'm sure Bush realized this or was told this, so he came up with the logic that the U.S. will treat those who harbour terrorists the same as the terrorists themselves. Brilliant logic, that. George W. Bush, do you plan on attacking North Ireland, too? Remember the I.R.A.? Pretty much every country on the planet is home to somebody who could be defined as a terrorist...
I think Bush is just conveniently using this attack as a way of overthrowing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan rather than methodically and ploddingly trying to root out the terrorist presence in the Middle East. Hell, not that I have a problem with that; the Taliban has been committing some inhumane and outrageous acts against women and other religions since it rose to power. Nevertheless, the U.S. should just be honest about that. They're trying to go back to being the international cops and bullies without making it obvious.
Anyway, what has begun disturbing me is the position the U.S. has taken in the last few weeks. I knew that the U.S. would begin retaliating against the terrorist attacks, but it is becoming overly offensive too quickly. This bipartisanship in Congress has taken the necessary brakes off the process of revenge, and it is being done in the name of unity. Who cares if you're unified? You need somebody to say whether a missile attack is a stupid idea, or whether limiting the freedom of U.S. citizens is done to an acceptable level or not. This isn't happening. Many American people are trying to silence the naysayers, the critics, the pacifists, and the civil libertarians among them. The government is telling those against the strikes to "step aside." Dissent is currently "un-American" once again. I'm getting tired of seeing all those patriotic messages from TV drama shows and sitcoms, and flag-waving ads by car companies and retail chains.
Enough about that, though. Let's talk about me. I consider myself a pacifist. I think that war ought to be the final resort in a conflict, not the first resort. However, when I heard about the attacks, my gut feeling was for action, in order to make sure more attacks don't happen. I wanted to join in the fight and begin fighting with my fists. Somebody might argue that I am not a pacifist, then, and that I should go with my gut feelings because that it what I truly feel. But, that is what happens all too often: people go first with their gut feelings (read: emotions) rather than considering the logic of situations. That's why I am a pacifist. My gut instincts might always be reactionary and violent, but my logic must necessarily be in control of that. It is one's logic that lets one know whether fighting is a good or bad idea in the long run.
My emotions are what interest me, however. I feel patriotic for the Americans. When I see somebody from the Canadian or American armed forces, I feel, "there is a brave man," even though my logic is telling me that they are trained to kill. My reasoning lets me know that the eventual outcome of any war is not good. The only good thing is the cessation of war. But it's interesting. I can think back quite easily to the Gulf War that began when I was in the eighth grade in school. It was all very exciting. It made 1990 and 1991 very interesting and memorable for me. Back then, we were all excited about and in favour of a war against the "tyranny" of Iraq. We all celebrated (to a small extent) the end of the Gulf War. I have nothing but good memories about the whole experience. Why is this? Was I blinded by GI-Joe-type boyish excitement? Was I fed my good memories by the media? Was I immature? I don't know the answer. I'll think about this as the stories develop. And develop they will.
Feel free to e-mail me with your comments or opinions!
Recently, one of my friends, Hunter McKnight, died at the unreasonably young age of 26. He was a unique soul and the world was just too unkind to him. You will be sorely missed, Hunter.|
1975 - 2001