the walking writer

I’ve mentioned before that I was once a member of the Mormon church. Although I’m not even on their list of members anymore, I still have friends and family members in the church. So it’s something that I still hear about from time to time, especially when the church does something incredibly unexpected with far-reaching effects.

A few days ago, information was leaked concerning a new change to the church’s handbook meant only for the eyes of the leadership. These changes states that the children of gay couples are, to put it plainly, no longer welcome in the church. The way the church puts it is a bit different, but the effect is the same. Children of gay parents may not participate in any of the essential church milestones, including baptism at age eight and serving a mission, until they take certain steps:

1. Reach the age of 18

2. Disavow your gay parent or parents

3. Move out of the home of your gay parent or parents

This dramatic shift has inspired me to wonder the following:

1. What exactly does disavowing your parents require? From what I’ve read, it sounds like it means you must disavow their relationships with members of the same sex. But, to me, that means disavowing the parents as people since being gay is not a choice.

2. The church is allegedly concerned with the eternal salvation of all souls, which is something that can only be accomplished through baptism (and a few other steps). Why is the church willing to risk the souls of children and make them wait until 18 to get baptized? How many people would still want to join after being denied for years simply because of their parents?

3. The policy change also states that gay individuals who marry (an act that is, by the way, fully legal in the United States) are now considered apostates. Does the church think ANY gay person (or their relatives who can look past the church and still care about their family) will still feel welcome in the church by all of these changes?

4. What about the second Article of Faith, which states: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” Has the church leadership forgotten this simple doctrine?

5. Defense for this policy usually includes a claim that this change is to “protect” the children of gay individuals. The theory goes that this stops the kids from having to listen to how “sinful” their parents are in church, avoiding potential parental conflicts at home. So, why is the church not worried about the children who live in homes with parents who commit other “sins”, such as watching R-Rated movies or drinking coffee? Why are they specifically targeting the children of gay individuals?

It makes me sad to watch people I know support this policy change. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do when someone believes that a policy comes directly from God, even though the Mormon church has a history of changing its mind on its policies when the tide of popular opinion begins to shift. Yet again, the church finds itself on the wrong side of history.

Like many people who watched the “Sailor Moon” dub in the 1990s, I’ve been re-watching the series on Hulu. It’s been fun to see the show as it was meant to be seen, complete with subtitles and the many episodes that the American syndication skipped. While there certainly is way too much filler in each episode, nostalgia is generally enough to keep me watching some of the more cringe-worthy episodes. Unfortunately, the fourth season, “Sailor Moon Super S”, has been a challenge to watch for a number of reasons:

1. No One Cares about the Enemy

In previous seasons, the Sailor Senshi actually investigated and talked about their foes. In this series, they don’t care. They don’t even compare notes or discuss what the enemy is doing. Occasionally, one of the cats will try to bring up the conversation, but it’s quickly forgotten. Obviously Chibiusa knows something about Pegasus, but after the first couple of episodes, no one bothers to question her.

2. Pointless Setup for Each Episode

For the majority of the season, the Amazon Trio are the main enemies and are searching for Pegasus by looking into people’s “dream mirrors”. In most episodes, for reasons that are never explained, they go through an extensive setup to corner their victim. In some cases, it takes days for the trio to get things just right, and it usually involves attempts to get the victim to fall in love with their future attacker. And yet, other times, they simply walk up to the victim and yank out their “dream mirror.” Why bother with the big setup at all?

3. Characterization is All Over the Map

The characters themselves, which usually are one of the best parts of the show, are inconsistent in this season. Usagi, for example, is painfully obnoxious in this season. Look, Usagi, it’s pretty obvious that you and Mamoru will get married. You’ve got Chibiusa standing next to you to prove that. So stop whining every time a girl looks at Mamoru, especially when it’s your own daughter! Ami, obviously accepted as the smartest of the group, doesn’t really seem like herself in this season. Rei only seems to exist just to get into endless fights with Usagi. Minako and Makoto are just sort of there in the background.

4. No One Recognizes Anyone or Anything

Throughout the entire season, the Senshi repeatedly see the Amazon Trio, but they never recognize them without their costumes. Fine, maybe it’s because of magic. But why can’t the Senshi at least recognize a pattern? Every single time an older strange guy walks up to them, the end result is an attack by the Amazon Trio. Why are they not the least bit suspicious when they run into this situation over and over again? Even when everyone realizes that there is a giant circus floating above Tokyo, the Senshi still can’t figure out what’s going on.

Fortunately, “Sailor Moon Super S” has only about 14 episodes left before Hulu finally makes it to the last and far better season of the show: Sailor Stars.

I missed FF13 when it originally came out as I didn’t have a console that could play it. Just before the start of summer, however, I significantly upgraded my computer and made the game my first purchase to try out on my new desktop’s gaming capabilities. After the disappointment I had with FF12, I wasn’t too sure what to expect with FF13, and I had heard a number of critical comments about the game over the years. Unfortunately, I now agree with most of the criticism, especially:

The Linearity of the Game

FF13 is a very linear game; in fact, some have referred to it as a hallway simulator. Most of the game is spent running through hallways, just to get to point X and fighting tons of monsters along the way. There are no towns with NPCs to chat to or stores to visit for goods; you always have access to the shops through the save points. Some fans of FF13 point out that FF10 was solidly linear as well. This is true, but the world of FF10 was populated and rich with interesting people, beautiful backdrops and actual towns to visit. In FF10, your path makes sense: You’re helping Yuna on her pilgrimage that has a set list of destinations. In FF13, there were plenty of chances to go off exploring, but you were never allowed to do so.

Unappealing Characters

Every Final Fantasy game has at least one character players don’t like, but I struggle to really identify one character I do like in FF13. Lightning is probably the closest, although she is quite similar to Cloud from FF7. Vanille fulfills the Rikku-type role, but even Rikku was more likable than Vanille. Hope is fairly annoying early on, but he do improve eventually. The others are just sort of there, and they didn’t really make much of an impression on me.

Open-World Boredom

When you’ve finished most of FF13, you are finally shipped off to an open world. When I made it to that point, I was hopeful. Although this open zone is nice enough to look at and has some interesting creatures, there’s really not much to do except undertake some “Kill X” type quests. This was a good spot for there to be more to the game, but it was lacking.

The Frustrating Battle System

The battle system is frustrating to me. I don’t expect every Final Fantasy to use the exact same battle system; innovation is a good thing. But I couldn’t stand the system in this game. I absolutely detest not having control over my characters. I don’t like crossing my fingers and hoping that Vanille manages to heal Lightning before she dies. I can handle controlling three characters just fine; it’s not that difficult. The paradigm shifting seemed cool in the first few dozen battles, but constantly switching around (and having to remake your paradigms after every single party change) was annoying.

Poor Storytelling

When I play a Final Fantasy game, I except a good story. Despite not being a big fan of FF12, I can still appreciate that it had an intricate and interesting storyline. FF13 doesn’t rank highly in that regard. The story starts off quite confusing for a very stupid reason: terms with very different meanings have very similar spelling, making them easy to confuse (l’Cie, Fal’Cie, etc). Many of the game’s cut scenes don’t really add much to the story and go on too long. Extra information is stashed away in the game’s datalog in the menu, which is very lazy way to explain the story.

FF13 did have two main features that helped, but unfortunately were not enough to save the game, namely the music and the graphics. The music is exceptional and memorable, including the main battle theme and my personal favorite, Sunleth Waterscape. I enjoy playing the music of FF13 in Theatrhythm on the 3DS. The graphics are also breathtakingly beautiful in FF13. As I was playing the game, I sometimes caught myself thinking about seeing an older Final Fantasy title, such as FF6, in a game as beautiful as FF13.

In the end, I just couldn’t force myself to finish FF13. When I was younger and the available video game selection was lacking, I played all my games until I was done. But now, with better games sitting in my backlog, I just can’t suffer through a bad game anymore.

This summer has been interesting. Usually, in the freelance writing world, summer is pretty dead, giving me more time to work on other work projects on my own. This year has been completely different, leaving me little time to try to work on this blog or much of anything else really. This picture from The Sims 4 captures my summer quite well, minus the bubblegum pink hair.

Writing Sim

Check out the shocked goldfish in the aquarium; I didn’t know fish could have such interesting facial expressions!

Since my husband and I ended our Netflix subscription, we’ve been making better use of our Crunchyroll subscription. Although I’m not quite the anime aficionado that he is, I still find plenty of series to enjoy. Here’s a few shows that we’ve been watching lately:

Sailor Moon Crystal

Sailor Moon Crystal

Sailor Moon was one of the first animes I ever saw, so naturally I wanted to check out Crystal when it came out. Crystal’s art is quite pretty, and the lack of filler that was present during the original anime is a good change. However, the series does have a few flaws, especially during the first arc. For example, we were told over and over how the girls were such good friends, but we rarely actually saw it for ourselves. The final part of the first arc dragged on too long. Finally, I was also disappointed that Mako, Minako, Rei and Ami didn’t really get many chances to shine on their own. I realize how important the relationship between Usagi and Mamoru is, but to me it’s nothing particularly special, especially since it seemed like such a given with few obstacles in this series.

Despite the flaws, I enjoyed the show and I do hope it comes back. I think the show was just starting to hit its stride and do a better job of balancing.

Love Live

Love Live

This show had such promise, but by the end, my husband and I were struggling just to finish it. The show premise sounded fun: An all girl’s school is facing closure, so one student decides to start a pop group attract more students to the school. Oddly, the initial problem that started the show is solved relatively quickly. In fact, most of the conflicts in the show are solved fast and with little stress. The show also has some really strange plotlines, like one character who somehow manages to become a famous maid at a maid café without the other girls knowing, despite the fact that they supposedly spend all their free time together working on their routines. There was also a painful episode that included excessive body shaming. The songs in the show are cute, and the art is nice (although when it switches to 3D randomly, it’s a bit jarring), but it’s not really a show that I would recommend.

My Love Story!!

My Love Story!!

If you want a cute and touching love story that avoids common tropes, this is the series for you. It follows the story of Takeo Goda, a rather large and intimidating high school student who saves a girl, Rinko Yamato, from a groper on the train. Rinko falls in love with the clueless Takeo, who is convinced that like every other girl he’s ever liked, she must be in love with his friend Makoto Sunakawa. As you can probably guess from the title, this misunderstanding doesn’t last long, and we quickly jump into seeing the cute relationship between Rinko and Takeo develop. The romance is sweet, and the show is full of funny moments. Takeo’s friend Suna is one of the best parts of the show, completely happy for his friend’s new relationship. The show is currently airing, and I look forward to it each week.