Is this just fantasy?

Wheel of Time

Poking TV Tropes, as I do. Ye gods, that’s a bit of a blast from the past. I read it voraciously up until…… Winter’s Heart? Got them as they were released, and waited impatiently for the next. While I do have the entire series, I don’t think I’ve finished reading them, haven’t even touched the Sanderson three…. Should do that sometime.

My brain, however, is on New Spring. The prequel, much smaller than any single volume of the main series. Basically Moiraine chasing rumours of the Dragon Reborn through the Borderlands, mostly. I won’t get into too much, but I did have a thought while reading it that I’ve not seen anyone mention online before.

Moiraine, thanks to The Foretelling, knew that the Dragon had recently been Reborn. She was running around looking for a young child that could have conceivably been born on the slopes of the Dragonmount. Of course, as anyone who’s read the books knows, she doesn’t find that kid until the start of the series proper. But she’s only looking for the Dragon Reborn.

In the course of her search, she discovers that the Dark is apparently also looking for the DR, guided by their own prophecies, but targeting grown men. Or maybe not. In her monologue about the people that the Darkfriends are targeting, two words keep coming up, Blacksmith, and Lucky. I think that the ‘light’, ie Moiraine & co, knew how old the DR would be, so looked for a child, but the Dark knew that there would be three Ta’veren. They may or may not realise that the DR was a kid, but they knew that without the other two, he would fail. They were looking for Mat and Perrin.

Just something that ate my brain this morning.

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Is this just fantasy?

Moving on…

From Lost Odyssey, anyway. I’ve reached a kind of burn out with it, as I do. All that’s left is a few dungeons – one of which is the DLC, and one is the Final Dungeon.

And I’ve burned out. I still love the game, and the characters, but I need a ‘new’ world to explore for a while. It’ll probably be one of the Fables…. or maybe all of them…? A Final Fantasy? A Suikoden? I’m not sure yet. Given that I am done with Lost Odyssey for now, I figured I’d share the spreadsheet I used for the game. It’s not every skerrick of information, there’s a few points where you need a map more than text on a screen, but I tried to gather everything on skills and equipment – not weapons, I didn’t really need that info, but rings and accessories. A couple of side quests – cubic music, and the treasure hunt clues. The list of Dreams…. I think that was it.

As always, it’s not finished. They’re never finished. They’ll be finished when I’m dead, and can’t edit them any more. Hopefully this will help some of you, or maybe even convince someone to hunt down Lost Odyssey and give it a go.

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You’re the Voice, try and understand it. And so he is. The subject of a hundred YouTube reactions. I admit, I have a thing for watching the faces of americans as they listen to this for the first time. The awe as they hear him sing… the Voice, the message, the bagpipes. This song is just magnificent. Of course, as an Aussie that was alive in 1986 (I was seven, Drama Queen was nearly four, and Bratling was only a few months old), I heard this when it was first released. Interesting to see a young Derryn Hinch and Jackie Weaver as the fighting couple, and having seen most of his concerts when they were broadcast on tv, I recognised a few of the musicians too, since I think he had the same band right through the 80s and 90s.

His voice is a joy forever. Even now – he took part in the concerts for the bushfires last year. He’s over 70. His voice hasn’t changed. He’s still the Voice. I love watching him singing live (though I have never had the privilege of seeing him myself, it was always televised) because you can see the power of his voice. Just watch how he is with the microphone. When he starts really belting it out, he holds the mic further out. Such a lovely change from more modern ‘artists’ who often look like they’re sucking on the mic when they sing.

There have been a few covers, but none have gained the popularity of the original. I sometimes think that as long as Farnsey is still around to sing it to us, no one will ever do a serious cover version. Once he’s gone, though… It may even be done as a tribute for our year of national mourning… okay, that last bit I’m kidding, but John Farnham is a fixture of the Australian music scene, and You’re the Voice is on the list of cultural osmosis songs. You know the ones – the first bars of the song come on, and people start to cheer and sing along.

As for the message… It is very much still relevant, even now. Perhaps more so, with the conflict around the world. Some people credit it for helping Australia bring in our gun control laws. After all, how long can we look at each other down the barrel of a gun?

Only slightly relevant:
I have the CD from when he took a turn as Jesus in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The power. And his rendition of Gethsemane is to die for. The most recent version I saw, the one with Mel C and Tim Minchin, the guy playing Jesus (who was it again?) was whiny. Gethsemane is supposed to be Jesus’ big power ballad, his moment where he will ‘rage against the heavens’, demanding answers, fury and grief, and fear, all coming out in one beautiful moment. Farnsey had that in spades. No seriously – I may have gone for You’re the Voice here, but go look for a recording of him doing Gethsemane, you’ll thank me. But anyway, Ben Foster (finally remembered his name!) sounds less “Rage Against the Heavens” and more “Daddy wouldn’t buy me an Xbox”. That is not what you want for a song like that. And the Last Supper…. John Farnham and Jon Stevens were just perfect. You could hear the conflict between them, it was beautiful. It may also have been the first time I went “I’m going to hell, aren’t I? I just shipped Jesus/Judas” (Then I watched as Tim Minchin turned out the most beautifully subtle performance of Judas low-key being in love with Jesus. I am convinced of it)

Is this just fantasy?

How do you solve a problem like Lirum?

The nature of the story of Lost Odyssey makes you want to think that the past events all happened long ago. You want to think that Kaim’s been wandering for centuries without his memories, and that recent events had little impact on his backstory. That all falls apart once you reach the Ghost City of Numara.

Once you get there, you run into bratty half-pint Cooke, and her little(?) brother, and follow them home. Then you see them talking to their sickly mother, who recognises Kaim as her father. As I note in my Gongora post, Lirum doesn’t seem all that old at this point. She’s sick, and dying, which ages a person, but not very old underneath that. I tend to place her around 30. Old enough to have two pre-teen children, but still quite young. In the flashbacks, she looks around Cooke’s age, so if she’s 30, then those flashbacks, that up till now have been filed under ‘long ago and far away’, are only about 20 years ago. Unless she ages slowly? Always a concern under the circumstances. Who knows?

Could she be aging slowly? It is plausible. Lirum is the only child of two immortal parents. The nature of their immortality is that they travelled between dimensions, and one year in their home dimension is one thousand years in the game world. Or, that’s how they explain it. How that explains the not-dying from things other than old age, who knows? Then again. They aren’t human. They are (if I understood the explanation right) energy-based beings given a human-like form, and shoved through a portal. Lirum, I am given to understand, is the natural child of Kaim and Sarah – meaning that the forms they have are capable of reproduction. Again, how that works, no idea, given that their bodies are supposed to be somewhat unchanging.

But Lirum. The fact that she is ill, and dies shortly after you find her shows that the immortality is not hereditary. But it still remains, she has no human parent. Was that what eventually made her ill? A non-human physiology trying to cope with the world around it, without the buffer of immortality? Was she aging slower? If she were to travel to her parent’s home world would she be able to survive? Would she age faster? And what does this mean for Cooke and Mack? They are half human, and half whatever the immortals are.

Of course, much of this also applies to Sed. Again, natural-born child of an immortal woman, just his father was human.

I also wonder about Lirum’s husband. A letter found in the house says that Lirum is still living in the home she had with her husband. Presumably, the Arthrosaur was what destroyed the town, but I think her husband was already dead by that point. Cooke and Mack talk of ‘Aunt’ Ming. As I say in the Gongora post, this puts her memory loss within their lifetime, and at an age that they could remember. The kids never mention their father. For whatever reason, he had to have died when they were too young to remember him.

In some ways Lirum’s life is as much a tragedy as Kaim’s. She is (possibly) kidnapped, separated from her parents at a young age, marries, and loses her husband while their children are still very young, her home is attacked by a monster, and the aftermath of the attack means she loses someone she has come to rely upon, in a similar fashion to how she lost her parents, and then she is reunited with her father, only to die, never reunites with her mother, and in death will never have the chance to see either of them again. There is some evidence in game that she is watching over her children, but she still will never get the chance to interact directly with her parents again.

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Ah, Switzerland. This was my introduction to the music of Dead Cat Bounce, and they’re still in my comedy rotation. It’s hard to argue with a song that opens “Such was the expression of the child as he bounced across my windscreen and off the other side” It’s always fun for a roadtrip, and I introduced it to my sister while she was teaching her friend to drive (and I do mean literally sending her the spotify link while she was in the car with said friend) Her sense of humour can be a little lacking sometimes, but for some reason this song tickled her fancy. No idea why. ^____^

They’re not the most prolific musical comedians, (I think Weird Al has everyone beaten there), nor are they the greatest talents – I can probably name about half a dozen I like more overall – but they have some songs that are just plain hilarious. Like Switzerland. The first verse is rather gentle…. and then the police get involved.

Enjoy, and drive safe. ;p

Is this just fantasy?, Is this the real life?

DragonLance, DragonLance,

I see Tika’s underpants.

Just kidding. But even after all these years, it sticks with me. Can’t quite remember where I read it, one of the Tales books maybe? I remember something about an elven bard? (or pseudo-elven bard?) Meh. It’ll come back, or I’ll re-read the book in question. I do know it was one of the ones I own. I’m just about finished cataloguing my fiction, I still have a few hundred books to go, but the fiction is just about done.

The DragonLance keeps catching my eye – probably because the shuffling has moved them closer to eye level now. They were done on the first day, since I decided to just sort them in a chronological order under ‘D’, rather than splitting them by author. My hands keep itching to pull down the chronicles (annotated, since my regular copy has been on loan for over twenty years – I know who has it, we’re still in touch, but she lives halfway across the state from me, so getting it back is…. difficult)

DragonLance is an old friend. I noted in my last book-related post that an old school friend, Ben, introduced me to the Chronicles back in ’94. It wasn’t the only fantasy series he got me into, but it’s the one that matters here. We sat next to each other in class, and I saw him reading this huge book under his desk, and me being me, I asked him if it was a good book, and what it was about. When he finished it, he loaned it to me. I returned it the next day, gushing. Bear in mind, this was a school night, and it was the full trilogy in one volume. He was taken aback, a little, that I had read a thousand plus page book, that took him nearly a week to read, in one night. No doubt I had bags under my eyes, and was possibly a little manic, but he mentioned the sequel, and offered to loan it to me once he had finished it. I borrowed the Legends trilogy from him, and again, he got it back the next day.

There was a bit of gap after that, because we lived in country Victoria, and I almost never had any money for book shopping. Once I had a job, though, all bets were off. I started searching the bookshops in Melbourne’s CBD for DragonLance. Didn’t have a whole lot of luck at first, until I discovered three stores in particular. An employee at Readers’ Feast, one of the big bookstores, asked what I was looking for, and when I mentioned the lack of good Fantasy fiction, he pointed me to Minotaur, a small basement shop around the corner, who specialised in pop culture, comics, and Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I fell in love. I still like to stick my head into Minotaur any time I’m wandering the CBD. The others I discovered for myself, while exploring the city. Mind Games was primarily a games shop, but they stocked all kinds of games. Board games, puzzles, and upstairs, a dedicated RPG section, including a good selection of DragonLance novels. Mind Games is still out there, but they seem to have dropped the RPG novels from their stock. The third store, Slow Glass Books doesn’t exist anymore, I just went to the storefront one day, and found it closed and empty, no explanation for why. It was a dedicated Sci-Fi and Fantasy bookshop. That was it. The other two had books in addition to other stock, but Slow Glass was just wall to wall books. I had loved it. There was also a second-hand bookshop that I would trawl often, it was (is?) in Niddrie, and my Nan would take me there if I was staying with her on school holidays. She would go to trade in Mills and Boon. I would always leave with a new (to me) book. Once I had my own car, I would go on my own, and search the shelves for hidden gems. I got most of the Tales books that way.

I have a lot of unfinished series within DragonLance, where I got part of a trilogy, and wasn’t able to complete it. I think I still have a printed list somewhere of the complete series (pre War of Souls) and I would tick off what I have, and vow to myself to complete that list. Some of the books are probably close to unobtainable now, which almost makes me want to cry. I have the second Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home, but not the first – but I can proudly say that I have made Otik’s Spiced Potato recipe from the book, as well as one for “Dragon-Blasted Steak”. (I have also made the ‘bubbly gather pies’ from the Pern books)

So what now? I continue cataloguing, and resisting the urge to pull down the Chronicles before I’m done. I think I need to go to Niddrie and see if my favourite used bookshop is there, and if there are DragonLance books in the stacks. Maybe make a day, see if I can get to the city, and wander through Minotaur, looking at what books they have. I might even be able to afford something new. And I try to emulate Ben. That long-ago friend, who I lost touch with after high school. Share my love of the books with someone new, who may not have tried them before. Maybe I’ll even track Ben down and try to get that friendship back.

He might even have something new for me to read.

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Is this just fantasy?

Gongora

More Lost Odyssey lore-type things, all about the Big Bad, Gongora.

Gongora was so obviously scenery-chewingly evil, from his first appearance. From his first appearance, there was no mistaking him for a good guy, the only way he could have been more obvious was if they’d given him a flashing neon sign above his head saying “Villain here!” I kept waiting for the twist, that he was possessed, or there was a greater-scope enemy waiting in the wings, or that he was just misinterpreted by the main characters, but nope. Just one very evil man, who looked and acted it. It was such a let-down in a way…. but then again, maybe the writers knew that the more genre-savvy players fed on a steady diet of JRPGs using that very twist would be waiting for it, so…. they didn’t.

As for his scheme… it appears to have been I can’t kill them, so I will cause some emotional trauma so that they won’t want to remember, and lock their memories away. Some sources I looked at (such as the Lost Odyssey Wiki) claim that Gongora attacked the others about 50 years ago, but I don’t think that fits the evidence – it’s more likely to be about 20 years.

Kaim (and Sarah)

Let’s start with these two, since they’re a package deal, and take me a little longer to articulate. The known facts about how Gongora broke them, he apparently caused their daughter Lirum to fall off a cliff near their home. Was it her? Was it an illusion? No idea. It would fit Gongora’s character to have actually knocked her over, but we come across Lirum later, very much alive. So…. did he use an illusion? Did she get away from him? Again, no idea. So how long ago was this? When we meet her later, she’s not actually all that old. She has two young children, and at no point do we actually hear how old they are, but by their looks, they’re ten at most. Lirum herself, in the flashbacks, looks not much older than Cooke. How old was she when she had the kids? (I don’t know if they’re twins, or just close in age, Mack certainly looks younger than Cooke)

This is purely speculation here. If I hazard a guess to ages, in the flashbacks, Lirum would be ~10, and Cooke is about the same in-game. Lirum obviously wasn’t having a child immediately after the flashback, so she’s more than 20. I thought she looked like around 30. She is sickly, when we see her next. Illness, especially a terminal one, ages a person, but Lirum does still look youthful. Argument could be made that she ages slower due to her parents, (look for that ramble soon) but I would guess that she was married at a socially acceptable age, (for now I’ll put 16-20) and had Cooke soon after. This gives a minimum of 16 years between the flashback and now, but I think it’s probably closer to 20, depending on the variables. This also leaves room for the Deeno family in Tosca. In the house you find an older man, his grown daughter, and her two children. The children are comparable in age to Cooke and Mack, which suggests that the mother was of an age with Lirum. The old man tells Kaim about how his ‘cry-baby’ daughter was all grown up with children of her own, as though Kaim knew the lady in question, and throughout Tosca, the villagers of various ages call out to Kaim, and many ask where Sarah and Lirum are. Not to mention that the cliff from the flashbacks, and the house that Kaim and his family lived in are just nearby. This puts the events into living memory of that village. Enough said.

Seth

Seth is a little harder to pin down, due to her more solitary lifestyle as a pirate. Everything I’ve heard points to her ‘breaking’ incident (her companion Aneira turning aggressive and biting off Sed’s leg, forcing her to take him down) happening when Sed was a young child. It’s harder to work out how old he is, but he’s older than Lirum. His spiel in the official guide says only that he’s older, and that he was quick-tempered in his youth. Visually I put him as in his 40s, but that’s only a guess. He could be older, he could be younger. Either way, Seth was most likely the first that Gongora snared.

Ming

Ah Ming. I think she might be more powerful than Gongora normally. Where the others were traumatised until they agreed for Gongora to seal their memories, in Ming’s case, he had to put her in an untenable position, with an ultimatum, seal your memories, or I destroy your people. It had to have happened recently, as in within the last 5 years. The kids clearly think of her as ‘Aunt Ming’. After the memory loss, Ming became distant, withdrawing from the city to hide that she didn’t remember them, and becoming little more than a figurehead. She would have had to have spent enough time around the kids for them to be so familiar with her, and if it had been too early in their lives, they wouldn’t remember her that way. It probably took Gongora a lot longer to find an angle he could use to trap her.

TL:DR?  Seth was snared around 20-30 years pre-game, Kaim and Sarah had their memories wiped something like 16-25 years before the game, while Ming, being more powerful than Gongora, would have been more like 3-5 years.

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Is this just fantasy?, Is this the real life?

The Perils of Too Many Books

I have a lot of books. Not a surprise to anyone that knows me offline, and even a few people online. I taught myself to read at the age of three, and I never really stopped, often to the detriment of everything else in my life, up to and including remembering to eat. For the last few years (about five or six) I have moved from home to home, and all my books were in storage, in boxes crumbling under the weight of the contents. I’m finally living in a home that has space for me to have my books with me, and it’s done wonders for my mental health. I had a cycle for a while, “I have Too Many Books!” I would moan as I was moving house, and the pile of boxes filled with books would grow. “I need more books!” I would sigh as I looked around my own personal library, and the gaps that could be filled with yet more books. I like to think that I have currently hit a happy medium. I still like to buy new books, because you can never go wrong with new books, but it isn’t the over-riding obsession of my youth. (Hah. Youth. As though I didn’t spend much of 2019 desperately scanning the bookshops for something to read)

I knew that for so many reasons I needed to catalogue all my books, and sort them better. Up to now, I tended to roughly group them: fiction by genre, series and author; reference by subject and series (in the case of For Dummies and Complete Idiot’s Guide). There was no order outside of that, just shove things where they would fit. Last year, just before the lockdown, I went to a furniture store, and ordered five large white bookshelves. When I got them, I retired my older shelves, (mostly snatched from my family as they offloaded them, plus a giant custom shelf that my Dad had made for me when I was a teen) and the Drama Queen, (who I live with) built the shelves. But I sorted the books the same way I always have. I decided earlier this year to change that. In 2019, I had started a Certificate IV in Library and Information Services. Last year, thanks to a combination of unemployment, ADHD, and Covid lockdowns, I had to drop the course. But I had learned. Oh, yes, I have learned much from the units I had done. I went hunting, and found a catalogue app for my phone. I needed one that I could also edit on the computer, because trying to type on a phone screen is hell.

And then…. nothing. Until this week. I got a burst of motivation from somewhere, (maybe under the fridge?) and cleared the first shelf, and then went hunting for the books by authors starting with ‘A’. It’s taking me a while, because as I said, I have ADHD, plus I’m not very fit. But I am slowly getting through. I have just finished the ‘L’s with Mercedes Lackey, and I have carefully catalogued every book before it is put on the shelf. It’s been interesting, seeing where the clusters are, where I got obsessed with a series or author to the point of buying every book they’ve written.

It’s also brought back some memories.

There was a guy I knew at school, who was to blame for most of my taste in fiction now. He introduced me to the DragonLance Chronicles, when I was fifteen. My DragonLance collection now takes up about two shelves, and I often think about getting more, finishing the series. He loaned me Belgarath the Sorcerer, and the first five Wheel of Time books. I now have the full series, and most of David Eddings’ works.

My Ann McCaffrey collection I got from a family friend. Every time we went to his house when I was a teen, the adults would talk, my brother and sister would hang around being a nuisance, and I would find his bookshelves and read the Pern books. When he moved to Queensland after he was married, he couldn’t bring the books with him, so he asked if I wanted them. I took his whole collection.

Red Dwarf I think marks the first time where I watched the show before reading the books, and I met one of my best friends through a shared love for the series. I have a few like that now, Torchwood, for example, plus a few movie novelisations.

The Valdemar books conjure up memories, from when I was about 18-21. Dad worked in Brunswick, I worked in South Melbourne, and Mum worked in Northcote. We all lived in Gisborne. To get to work, Mum and I would travel with Dad, then she would drive the car on to Northcote, while I took trams through the city. After work I would take the tram back to Brunswick, and since I tended to finish a few hours before Dad did, I would stop at the library on the way. I would spend the time before Dad finished finding new books to read. I had discovered yaoi fanfiction by this time, so the blurbs for the Last Herald Mage intrigued me. Within a week, I was heading to Dad’s office with armloads of Valdemar books. Dad passed away in 2006, so reading those books now is a little bittersweet.

Tolkien has been with me my whole life. I didn’t read the books until I was older, but I’d been hearing about them since I was a baby. My godfather, my dad’s little brother, my favourite uncle. He was my most frequent babysitter when I was little, and he managed to upset my mother. You see, he would read me the Hobbit as a bedtime story and, more importantly here, had nicknamed me Hobbit, and got me answering to it. I just think it’s more evidence that I have never liked my birth name, but try telling my mother that. It may also be why I don’t like wearing shoes now.

I have more books than this, of course. Don’t even get me started on my non-fiction collection. Most of my books have some kind of memory attached, I still have some of my earliest books, some with written messages from my grandmother, or various aunts and uncles that bought the book for me… there are also the books that my siblings, or Mum have tried to offload and I’ve just gone, “I’ll take that one!”

There are more that are pretty much lost forever, because I wasn’t quick enough to take them, or I didn’t have the means to get them before Mum threw them out, and a part of me is going to feel that lack for the rest of my life. Books have been a part of me my whole life, and I couldn’t really live without them. Even those years where I had to keep them in storage, because there just wasn’t room where I was, was painful to me. Some of the books I have, I bought during those years because living without any books at all was just awful. I think I got so hooked on gaming as a way to fill that void, and ebooks didn’t work as a substitute. (now there’s a rant)

Phew. I think this post got a little out of hand, longer than I thought it would be. If you down got this far, thanks for letting me vent about my favourite subject in the world. ^___^ Maybe share your own stories about how books have shaped you?

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Is this just fantasy?

Game Guide Spreadsheets

After a discussion with someone on another blog (https://laterlevels.com/2021/01/11/taking-note-keeping-records-during-video-games) I thought I’d try this. the caveat is that all my spreadsheet files are works in progress, always being tweaked and adjusted. This is not the final version. There likely never will be a final version. As I think of something I need to keep track of, I add another sheet.

Here’s a nice simple one as an example, for the original Suikoden. All that I’ve been tracking in it are the people I’m recruiting, what my opponents say in a one on one duel, and the composition of the war battle teams. All my workbooks are Excel, because that’s what I have, and they’re not really intended for anyone but me. Sometimes this may lead to the column titles not making sense to anyone that has not been inside my head.

All of this, of course is info that can be found online readily – either the Wiki, or GameFAQs, or in this case, Suikosource. But why have a dozen tabs open in my browser (or one hundred and eight?), when I can consolidate all the info into one spreadsheet, and know at a glance, that Viktor is awesome?

Feel free to play around with it, if you want. Even share it around, just please give me a little credit, ok? Consolidating that much data takes a while. I may share other workbooks in future, I tend to make them for almost every game I play. If you’re interested in seeing what I may have for a specific game, feel free to ask. I may not have one – I tend to shy away from playing most of the really popular games – but Final Fantasies, Suikodens, Skyrim and Inquisition, sure, got those.

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Musical Mondays, Uncategorized

Musical Mondays

New thing I want to try. Sharing a song that I like, and discuss why I liked it. There’ll be mostly older songs, with the occasional new release. Some shall be chart music, some fan songs, some comedic. We’ll see how long my attention span holds.

If nothing else, I get to share my favourite songs with others, and hope that they liked them too.

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