Thursday, January 31, 2008

The (adjectives) (animal) of (adjectives)

One of my favorite template.

We have had...

  • The Great and Kind Penguin of Passion and Willpower (story)
  • The Magnificent Papa Bear of Passion and Willpower (story)
  • The Noble Ice Cube of Love and Sacrifice (story) (okay, ice cube is not an animal, but its passion and willpower was real!)
  • The Epic Bear Jr. of Courage and Tenacity (story)

It's fun doing this. Very. Much. Especially since they're so satisfying to say.

Make some yourself, but if you tell me, I might steal it and feature it in some less-than-coherent story I might come up with in the near future. You're warned.

Also, I made The Magnanimous Panda of Existence. Don't claim that.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lullaby

I'm a certified 'person with problematic sleeping habit'. Okay, not certified, but if there's certification for that, I'd easily qualify. Whether it's good as a lullaby or not, that won't prevent me from blogging about it and showing off translation with questionable accuracy. Okay, less talk, more showing off:

Arch of Greenery

look, it has come to sight
the red-brown roofs
the flowing wind is
tinted in grey
ever seen the sky spinning?
here, you can feel it
hold me, don't say anything
naturally, it'll come floating down

I want to do something
for this scenery

hear, you can hear it
a broken mandolin
sun rays shining down
are blazing red
when you can no longer hear those precious voices
here, you can find them
hold me, don't say anything
naturally, it'll reach you
what you gave me
weren't words, they're feelings

though I'm silently embracing you
time will still take you away
even so, in sadness, I want to send you off with smile
they weren't words, they're feelings

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

On Indonesian TV

Some people know that I'm not too fond of Indonesian TV. They are mostly of the same mind with me about the subject too. So, because spouting hate without reason is so uncivilized, very much like kicking in the face with a steel boot people who live at the edge of your values (at the edge in the outside side, that is), let's try and analyze the problem. An analysis of hate, if you like.

First: too much drama. You know, that self-replicating (not quite, but close) thing that we call Sinetron over in the archipelago. Self-replicating machines are good, in fact we should make that, but that's not the subject now. If they keep making those at this pace (next-gen assembly line in fast-forward), they will soon have to sell them in bulk; run-of-the-mill romance drama: IDR 1000 a kilogram.

Okay, it's not too bad to have many of those, right? After all it's local product, better than importing right? Well, yes, maybe economically. I know we're exporting those to some neighboring countries. But judging from the content, sometimes I fear for the intelligence of the region. It seems that they stopped trying to come out with something coherent after a while. You know what I mean if you experience it first hand, but don't take this as a dare, I can't be held responsible for any damage.

Second: popularity contest. As far as I can recall, it started with *FI, then Indonesian *dol. Two were bearable, at a time it might have been enjoyable. Then it spread like mushroom, but not the kind of mushroom the concept needs: mushroom cloud. The formula is generally simple: someone sings -> some people comment, at least one is being mean -> next one sings, repeat until all patients have sung, then the crowd vote, the one with least vote lose, repeat next week. De-Mo-Cra-Cy.

Now, last holiday I had the privilege to witness how it has evolved. Hint: look up the word devolved. The time spent on commentaries is approximately a million plus three-quarters times more than the time spent on the performance (or maybe a gazillion times, I lost count). Some would argue that the commentaries are actually educational, but c'mon, it's bland. Pure distilled unadulterated blandness. They even gave up trying to be mean. Everything is watered down. Of course, it pleases the public and keeps the patient happy "ooh he's so nice to the poor thing" "ooh how thoughtful to critic so gently but accurately". I'm of the opinion that the critics belong in class, they can make a program on how to sing, how to groom yourself, etc without all the drama, of course, the money isn't there.

Third: educational ...uh no, gossip. Like drama, you should be able to get this in bulk IDR 1000 three kilograms. When people care very much which singer marries what actress, which musician has a glistening silvery bald patch which he patched with import high-quality purple-shaded grass where, or which regular-dude-who-is-remotely-related-to-a-somewhat-famous-person ate what kind of cookie thirty-three years ago, etc I think we have to begin worrying if overt nosiness can be a dignified part of a culture. If it can, then we should think of how to keep it from spreading.

Fourth: commercial. To watch a two hours movie on DVD you need two hours, maybe several minutes more if there's a really really really good scene that you have to repeat over and over, except if it's aired in Indonesian TV, prepare four hours ...at least. I'm exaggerating, of course. It's not _that_ bad, but bad enough to get mad at. Just don't rally to the street with machete because of that. Violence is bad for all of us, not to mention the traffic won't let you get anywhere anyway. Can't blame people working to make ends meet, 'ey?

'ey, it's not all bad. If you make a million cups of tea, some might be good enough for royalty, or better, for me. If they make a million TV programs, some are bound to be good enough for sanity. Some are indeed are. Nice things like Extravaganza (comedy), OB (comedy), News dot com (Political comedy), Wisata Kuliner (Meal!), Kick Andy (Talk show), and some others. If you know about these, you'd notice that a big share come from only two TV stations.

This is getting too long for my liking, so let's not talk about how they are good. Actually some (one or two) seems to lost considerable edge nowadays. It's just not as interesting to watch them anymore, sad no? There's also this fact: quite a share of that list aren't aired in prime time. I believe some more of worth watching programs are out there some where, if I look close enough. But who watches them? I really shouldn't be talking about this when I personally don't watch TV much. There's so much to live up to if you're a 'penjahat'.

Now, being hateful is bad. There's a saying: "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem". I hate being part of the problem, see. So I'll try to present some practical solution. The easiest one is to not watch it at all, sell your TV or dismantle it and rebuild it into a vacuum cleaner or something. If you read my last post, you know what I did instead. Video Game is one solution, we can't just leave the TV alone gathering dust if it won't do the laundry and dishes for us, no? Net surfing is another. Something better? Reading, I guess. I hope the rise to popularity of a certain novel set in Egypt is a good sign toward Indonesian interest to books. I can't say much on this, because I'm not in touch with what people are reading in Indonesia, much less than what people are watching. Or we can always spend the evening drawing a plan to take over the world.

One more thing. TV programs, no matter how intelligent (or not) they are, often serve as a medium to get the family to chat with each other, commenting the intelligence of the program for example. Although some solutions I put can be made into group activity, they would face more resistance for realization[citation needed]. Or keep some cats and play a lot with them.

Very simple rebuttal to all the wall of text above: "If you think they're so bad, why don't you make one that's good".

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Holiday Well Spent?

What does holiday mean? Gaming, of course! And for my rather cut-short home coming, a game awaits: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs The Soulless Army. Long title, short game. Really, they thought the game needs the long name to make sure that gamers know that it is a part of the Devil Summoner series, which is a part of Shin Megami Tensei series (which includes Persona games), maybe to attract fans and zombie fans of the previous games to get it simply because it's a Shin Megami Tensei game. Anyway, I played a little Persona 2 some long time ago and lost interest halfway through, and that's about all my entire previous experience with the whole universe of Shin Megami Tensei games, expect no expertise.

Simply, the game is devil pok*mon. You catch demons, put them in a tube, summon them in battles, earn their loyalty, ...and fusion them together to make new demons, or just forge it into your sword (all the time taking note of the phase of the moon). Okay, as far as I know, you don't fuse pok*mons together, much less in an underground lab run by a stereotypical mad scientist, aptly named Victor (hello, Victor Frankenstein?). Oh, and pok*mon masters don't usually have swords.

Let's begin with the story. The year is Taisho 20 (around 1920s, but Taisho era only lasted 19 years, go figure). You are Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th, a newly-inaugurated Devil Summoner whose task is to protect the capital. Oh, and you have epic side burn, be proud. You work with an ex-army turned private eye 30-something Shouhei Narumi in his detective agency, which only takes on 'special' cases. A high-school girl from a rich family called Kaya Daidouji called, she wanted the boys from the agency to kill her. Being a good gents and all they agreed to meet her, just to see her get kidnapped by military guards in red cape. Again, being good gents and all, they investigated the case to find out a way to save her, and it'd take 12 chapters and about 25-30 hours of your time. Along the way you meet interesting characters like a newspaper reporter, restaurant owner to whom Narumi owes a lot of Yen, good yakuza dudes who love hot bath, Grigori Rasputin, a lot of ghosts, and a merry rocket scientist who's approximately the embodiment of passion and willpower, among others.

Kuzunoha Raidou is a silent-protagonist, so his character is about as deep as you want it to be. If catching demons just to be fusion parts or sword forge parts is how you roll, do roll like that. Personally I won't recommend getting attached to the same demons. Combine a lot and get stronger ones. Unlike pok*mon we're not out to make friends but to protect the capital! Now, the other characters (characters that matter, not bystander NPCs which are pretty interesting too) aren't one dimensional plainsters who are there for the sake of telling you what to do. I can't really put it down, but simply, they add to the atmosphere really nicely, even the time tourists. It's like a cultural trip.

Next, gameplay. It's about as simple as the pok*mon comparison above. Of course, the demons all have different orders, each order is weak against something and strong against something else, and different demons in the same order can have different strengths and weaknesses too. The battle is real time, which is nice, but has a lot of button mashing (at least it's not press X when the prompt appears until it's over like most old time turn-based RPGs). You're given a sword and a gun, which bullets have elemental properties, and allowed to summon one demon at a time, arguably it'd be too easy if you can summon two, three, or thirty-three demons at any time.

Little details are important too. In fact it's a major factor for me to decide if a game is good or awesome. I really like the way they make the characters talk, especially the retro-detective styled speech Narumi has (capers, dollface, bird). There's also the way Victor conduct himself, and how Rasputin says 'da' every other sentence. The game does not have voice track but unless it's of the same quality as FF12's, I think it'd become detrimental to the experience. Even the demons, there are several speech patterns for some broad category of demon personalities like deranged, playful, flirtatious, old-man-like, old-lady-like, pessimist, honorable, mean, etc. and from time to time you get a little variation in the regular pattern, which are refreshing. Saluton Mr. Summoner! Like I said it's a cultural trip, not as massive a trip as a Suikoden game, but a scenic trip nonetheless.

The adventure lasts around 25~30 hours, perfect for a somewhat short holiday. If you want to try and fuse every single demon there is, you'd need more time, a lot more. There's also a kind of a new game+ feature. I didn't have the time to try that this time around, internet is your friend.

I am a... (not weirdo)

You Are An INTP
The Thinker

You are analytical and logical - and on a quest to learn everything you can.
Smart and complex, you always love a new intellectual challenge.
Your biggest pet peeve is people who slow you down with trivial chit chat.
A quiet maverick, you tend to ignore rules and authority whenever you feel like it.
In love, you are an easy person to fall for. But not an easy person to stay in love with.
Although you are quite flexible, you often come off as aloof or argumentative.
At work, you are both a logical and creative thinker. You are great at solving problems.
You would make an excellent mathematician, programmer, or professor.
How you see yourself: Creative, fair, and tough-minded
When other people don't get you, they see you as: arrogant, cold, and robotic
What's Your Personality Type?
So the test says. Dilla made me do this. You judge the result.