Archive for December, 2009


Aria di Mezzo Carattere

The 1990’s was a good year for videogames, during the fabled “16-bit era,” when the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis competed for domination of the market.

In those days, some of the best RPG’s (role-playing games) came on the scene, though they were not as popular as they have become in recent years.  Nevertheless, gamers of that decade have fond memories of some of the most excellent games ever produced.  One such example is Final Fantasay VI (originally Final Fantasy III when it came out, before it was re-numbered).

Like other RPGs of the day, Final Fantasay VI is a huge game, spanning several hours of dungeons, leveling up, turn-based battling, and a epic storytelling that would put some novels to shame.  It is the story-telling portion of the game that I want to focus on in this entry.  There are 14 main characters (kinda like an ensemble cast), each one with his or her own subplot that plays out throughout the course of the game.

Just to give you a quick idea of the measure of this game, I’m about to describe what is known as the “Opera Scene.”  Not wanting to inundate you with a lot of unnecessary backstory, I’m going to provide some quick context and then describe this plot, which is a rather small portion of the over-arching story:

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In order to invade the evil tyrannical empire Ghestal, the group of heroes needs a flying ship.  They come across an opera house, and the opening day for “Draco & Maria” is approaching.  But the lead female singer has received a note from an admirer, a pirate named Setzer, who has threatened to kidnap her during the function.  In order to protect Maria but also to contact Setzer, whose flying ship will prove useful to invade Ghestal, the group volunteers Celes, who has an uncanny resemblance to the singer, to take her place in the opera.  Celes reluctantly agrees, and halfway through the show, Setzer appears and kidnaps her, while her friends stow away aboard the flying ship.

Setzer is not fooled and sees through the ruse, but eventually agrees to help the heroes.  In a memorable line, Setzer, who is a gambler, throws a coin at their feet and says, “My life is a chip in your pile.  Ante up!”

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That’s the basic premise.  Now, I am of the persuasion that this plan would’ve failed if it wasn’t for one thing:  Celes’ feelings for one of the main characters, Locke.  Locke rescues Celes when she was about to be executed.  She was a former general for the Ghestal empire, but she betrays her orders and became an enemy of the empire.  She is not a sweet, sappy girl, yet she was thrown into a plan that required her to bear her heart out.  “Draco & Maria” has a song titled “Aria di Mezzo Carattere” (or Air of Half Character, translated from Italian).  The character Maria expresses her sorrow at the thought of having to marry a man she is not in love with, especially when she is in love with someone else.  So for Celes to be sufficiently convincing to her audience for this kind of emotional moment, I believe she had to tap into her personal feelings for Locke, who saved her from certain death.

The song itself is a great composition.  After this point in the story, a rearrangement of Aria di Mezzo Carattere, simply known as Celes’ Theme, plays when Celes is the main focus of the plot, especially during the latter part of the game.

Now, keep in mind that I’m talking about a 13-year-old game for a very old console.  I think that’s rather amazing.

Christmas Memories

This was a long time coming, but only now have I had a chance to work on this entry.

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Christmas has come and gone.  The days leading up to December 25th are full of eagerness and great expectations.  It’s a time of cheer and joy, surrounded by our loved ones, celebrating the fulfillment of the promise of our Saviour.

Perhaps it’s in our youth when this time is the most magical.  By that, I mean that things kinda just happened.  As children, do we ever stop to think what our parents go through behind the scenes to make Christmas a special time in our lives?  I know I didn’t.  Whether it was Mom working in the kitchen, or Dad putting up the decorations, they worked hard so we could have precious memories etched in our hearts.

When we become adults, we gain a greater appreciation for the things our parents did so we could have fond memories.  But that magic is not gone.  It passes onto us, and it becomes our turn to make Christmas a great time for our own.

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What is your favorite Christmas memory?  Mine is not a particular Christmas’s Eve, but in my childhood we used to have Christmas dinner at my grandparents’ (both paternal and maternal).  My dad has five brothers and sisters; my mom has three siblings.  So, of course, their homes were jam-packed with uncles, aunts, cousins, and complete strangers that were somehow related to us.

But it was when we moved to Texas that we no longer had the crowds.  It was just the four of us.  Christmas become a rather small celebration, sometimes bittersweet because we recalled those days gone by and missed our family so dearly.  Within the last 10 years, I’d say my favorite Christmas memory is the year when our relatives finally visited us.  We had the crowd at our home.  It was just like old times, and I loved every minute of it.

Since, then, they have come every other year, but that first time was a wonderful time for all of us, and it made that Christmas extra special.

~My Two Cents

What’s a Blog, anyway? Part Two

I mentioned on my first post that I wasn’t sure what use the regular joe (or Jose, in my case) had for a blog.  The more I think about it, the more I can see the endless possibilities a blog can have for me.

I am fascinated by writing and literature.  I have for as long as I can remember, just to different extents.  In the fifth grade, I was well-known in my school for my one-page comic book stories.  Granted, they were blatant rip-offs of whatever was on TV at the time, but I made a name for myself in those days by writing and illustrating stories.  At Lamar High School, I was taking Creative Writing and Shakespeare classes.  At Trinity Baptist Academy, my one-act play was such a hit in my English class that we had plans to perform it, which ultimately fell through.

For years I have been trying to perfect my writing abilities.  Having to learn English in my junior high years definitely set me back, but now I pride myself in my good handle of grammar.  I’m such a stickler for good grammar.  Perhaps it was my great desire to write stories that pushed me to learns all the ins and outs: vocabulary, diction, syntax, the endless exceptions to the rules, the nonsensical idiomatic expressions, the slang and colloquialisms…

The writer in me has this inner desire to convey a story and captivate people’s attention, to help them fully perceive in their minds what I have conceived in mine.  Every writer needs an outlet, a means to sharpen his skills and stay at the top of his game.  And that, friends, it’s where a blog comes in.  I’m going to love this.  Hopefully, you’ll stick around for the ride.

~My Two Cents.

The Two-Bit Invitational Social Gathering

Saturday will be my birthday!  To celebrate, I organized the 2nd Two-Bit Invitational Social Gathering.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “What in the world is that?” (actually, I DID run into some people that had no idea what that was).  Simply put, it’s a party.  I wanted to get away from using the word “party,” because it sounds like birthday hats and clowns and balloons and that type of stuff.  It’s not.  Let me break down the title and explain:

Two-Bit is simply to attach it to me, Aaron Romero, the Two-Bit Specialist.  Now I’m running into a new problem because not everyone knows that’s my online handle (it’s only used for Twitter and YouTube and some message boards so far).  I will explain where the handle comes from some other time.

Invitational has to do with the fact that is only open to the people I invite.  It was originally going to be an “Open Social Gathering,” but then I realized that I may have unwanted guests at my house, so I quickly shut that down and went with its current name.  Both “invitational” and “open” come from the tennis and golf terms for tournaments.

Social Gathering is a fancy and tedious term synonymous with party.  I had so many choices:  partay, hootnanny, shindig, mixer, rave, ect… But they all have terrible connotations attached to them, so I went with “social gathering.”  Dictionary.com (because I love Dictionary.com) defines it as “a gathering for the purpose of fellowship.”  And, ultimately, that is what I want:  to open the doors of my home and have my friends over to have a good, wholesome time.

I originally wasn’t going to host the 2nd TBISG until next year, but it turns out that my birthday is on a Saturday, and the calendars weren’t jam-packed with activities (as they usually are in December), so it all worked out.  Hope to see you there!

What’s a Blog, anyway?

I always wondered what I blog was. I mean, it’s such an ugly word… “blog.” Sounds like you’re chocking on something, like “blegh.”

Well, apparently, it is another contraction (because we love it when we combine two words into one, don’t we?). Blog is short for “web log.”

What I failed to understand, however, was the purpose for the blog. Why would I want to post my thoughts, rants, and ramblings for everyone to see? I understand if you are a celebrity or public figure. People already love you. You can say that you hate your fans and they will still read your stuff. But the average guy? Well, I decided to give this blogging thing I try. Who knows? Maybe you, the reader, will learn something or may even be blessed by something I post.

And maybe it will put some of my Facebook and Twitter friends at rest, when I don’t post consecutively due to the 140 character limit. I may even tweet less (highly unlikely)!!!