Legend of Me

I’m pleased to announce (more than you know) that yesterday marked the released of F-Zero: Falcon Densetsu (Legend of Falcon) to gaming enthusiasts nationwide. This title is of particular interest to us as it features voiceover work done entirely by me. Though I have done voiceovers for other games in the past, none of them were of the mass-commercial release variety, so needless to say I’m quite charged to have had a chance to do something I’ve always loved (using my voice and personality to entertain) on a scale of hundreds of thousands of people.

I recorded over 150 discrete things to say, but as is common in our industry, size limitations saw roughly 30% of the material make it into the tiny Game Boy cartridge. However, there are plenty of times you may hear me say “Choose your car!” or “3 laps to go…”. Those exceptionally familiar with my voiceover history may notice a “GOOOOAAALLL!!!” reminiscent of the Spanish-localized version of Dance Dance Anubis 2.

Anyway, please go out and buy it if you like racers. (US release is mid Jan-Feb next year.) I don’t receive any royalties other than deriving pleasure from the fact you can now hear me say “Congratulations!” any time you wish. 😉 It was great to be a part of a game series my brother and I have appreciated for a long time, to say nothing of working with Nintendo. Look for me in the manual and credits (if you can beat it), I appear with a number of aliases so you’re sure to know me.

Here’s a couple in-game movies in which you can hear my work, as well as the TV spot.

Anniversaries and Holidays

Today is Thanksgiving. Like any other day, I struggled with waking up for work, hungered for more than I had time to eat, and arrived home some thirteen hours after I left. In the meantime, nearly every one of my kinsmen and compatriots is waking up to spend four days away from stress, worry, and strive to focus on family, friends, and good fortune. This weekend also marks my being in Japan for six months. I won’t be cliche’ and say it seems like only yesterday, though I will admit I wish I had made more inroads socially and done more non-work related things. I suppose all I can do is endeavour to continue a cumulative acceleration towards a more perfect balance with my life. There has to be a way I can make my programming tasks evaporate more quickly and with less pain.

Along those lines I think that despite the hated “weekend warrior” rut I’m slipping into, I may have a solution to the sporadic blogging. It probably won’t come until Christmas though, because I can’t seem to find one easily here. In the meantime, I’m still collecting all these sticky notes and reverse-sides of defunct schedules that bear the larva-like jewels of my nascent hobby.

So today please give thanks for being alive. In the blissful company of your loved ones, or across the sea on your own.

I wish there were more outdoor parties this time...

Ever, Ever Raving

I wish there were more outdoor parties this time of year but I guess it’s too cold at night.

I took good advantage of my Seiyu [owned by]/Wal-Mart bicycle today for the first time. Though my wandering expeditions lose a little something in detail when on wheels, the tradeoff is I get to cover a lot more ground quickly.

I didn’t spend nearly as much time out as I did in October, but I got a little later start and it gets darker (rendering my camera useless) much earlier now. Having spent the majority of my excursions pushing south, I decided to head east today and took my instinctual meandering path up and down through backstreets and avenues, though more or less I followed the Chuo-Sobu line from Sendagaya to Akihabara and then back west-by-northwest to Akasaka, the national palace and down to Shinanomachi to meet my old running route through the Meiji outer gardens.

A canal off the Sumida-gawa by Ichigaya and an autumn temple on Shichi-Go-San (Children’s Day).

I think that the bulk of my recurring difficulties involve maintaining good physical and mental health (something I’m not used to as my college lifestyle blinded me to such introspective avenues), and as a result, how much difficulty I have with work. That being said, I am quite certain I love Tokyo like a shadowy-eyed girl that gives me equal amounts of bristling fascination and quiet dedication.

Tokyo is a characteristically Japanese product in that it has the uncanny ability to continually surprise you with how much functionality and variety is seamlessly woven into its every curve. Austere parks line the rivers and then fade slowly past police boxes and concrete embankment murals. Thin, slate mosaic walkways skirt unchecked vegetation under towering expressways as the glow of media and financial neon is nearly consumed by a motionless net of trees. In twenty minutes I can buy five pairs of slightly small (for me) socks, go through 200ml of tea in a perfectly shaped bottle, admire a spotless office park and still have time to catch a restless look from any number of powdered service girls in fur.

It’s as if bits and pieces of every great city in the world were copied, shrunk down, and then twisted into neatly drilled holes supported by a canopy of thick-shielded power lines and PA systems. The suburb where I work has started playing “It’s a Small World” over a network of loud speakers seemingly every 15 minutes of the shopping day. Specialty shops carry Winnie the Pooh and Snoopy in Santa outfits as the grand marbled hotel plazas wrap white Christmas lights and hearts around tragically sooted pillars.

Though a little tired and windblown from darting down more than several stone-lined hills, I feel incredibly satisfied with my three hours’ outing and look forward to tomorrow with pedestrian shopping and luxuriously far more time to accomplish my few humble errands than I need. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll lose myself in a cup of hot chocolate and a threadbare corduroy blazer from one of Harajuku’s seemingly endless community of vintage shops.

Disney Sea

I went to Tokyo Disney Sea yesterday. It was pretty cool. Our company was honoring the completion of numerous long-running projects in October (among them a first delivery of our uber-project to the publisher), so we had in the words of Wallace and Gromit, a grand day out.

Disney Sea is about four years old, adjacent to the pioneering foreign Disney installation, Tokyo Disneyland (currently celebrating its 20th anniversary). Whereas TDL is what you’d expect, Disney Sea on the other hand is slightly different though still characteristically Disney. It’s been called the most mature of all Disney’s parks, generally quiet and calm, lacking the aggressively festive atmosphere and abundance of merchandise vendors every three feet.

The thoroughfares are wide and spacious, the various themed sectors presenting their character to varying degrees of charm (I was a bit disappointed with Mysterious Island, but on the other hand Arabian Nights was quite refreshing). Near American Waterfront is a bouquet of shops and restaurants equipped to serve alcohol, though I wish the upper stories of McDuck’s Department Store were accessible. (They may very well be only facades.) A large steam cruise ship is in the harbor behind a massive Christmas tree, and an outdoor stage production provides entertaining musical numbers.

The Indiana Jones Adventure was quite entertaining, I had the surprising reaction of being unable to stop laughing from the excitement several minutes after it was over. The jolting of the car works wonderfully in chorus with the sounds and shock visuals. The animatronic characters were quite impressive and lifelike as well. I bought a jungle green t-shirt with my favorite Harrison Ford personality for about thirty dollars, but I’m sure I’ll be wearing it for at least six or seven years.

The Little Mermaid area was very well done, an undersea cave filled with little rides, a myriad of lights and creative decoration. The stage show was pretty impressive too: the actors were extremely talented, vivacious and sporting delightfully original costumes part human, part mechanical.

I realize I’m starting to sound way too much like a pompous theatre critic, so I’m going to take a break…

[one episode of TNG later…]

I notice that I’ve become critical and disenchanted with my writing recently. I wonder if this is due to a valid observation of its quality or merely discontentment with the atmosphere under which I write (often feeling tired and that I have other things both pleasant and otherwise to do). Perhaps it’s a combination of both. I feel the same way about my photography during cyclic periods of the year. I wish I could produce things that I’m satisfied with under some kind of consistency, but I suppose until I achieve a greater understanding of the causes- mental, physical and biological, it will continue to be hit and miss. This may also be due in part to the artist’s apathy and how the demand for regular and premeditated delivery kills the creative process. Who knows.

Anyway, it was a nice weekend that passed all too quickly. I messed up my back after getting an impromptu massage from my company president while standing in line for lunch yesterday. It might have caused more damage than help; I can’t turn my head to the left now without intense pain and it hurts to get up and down out of bed. Here’s a picture from yesterday, should have a nicer one soon after I pool my data with the not-so-inferior cameras of my coworkers.

Early

I have a long-seated loathing for waking up early, one that surpasses the joy and anticipation of so many Easter and Christmas mornings spent rollicking around the house in pajamas and slipper-socks. It comes from a string of long-journeys, usually involving some considerable amount of physical discomfort and fitful sleep.

When I was fifteen I had major surgery on my chest to correct a genetically-inherited disorder known as pectus excavatum. My sterum has always grown in a cork-screw inward direction, and my ribs and breastplate are dislocated, placing an unnatural amount of pressure on my internal organs. Aside from the cosmetic effects of an asymmetic and under-developed torso, long term side-effects include increased stress on the heart and lungs. Upshot is I had extensive corrective surgery where my sterum was broken and chest bones repositioned. At fifteen, I wasn’t looking forward to my first hospital visit since birth. We left at roughly four in the morning after a sleepless night for a long morning of pre-op in Baltimore.

I used to hate flying. Loathed it. I think that grew out of getting airsick in flying to the Ozarks for my great-grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary when I was six. How small my world was back then, never being more than a couple hours’ drive away from home. I insisted that somehow I would survive college and my career with my trips to the airports few and far between. Ha. As Counselor Troi says “the best way out is through.” After my rise to computer science department student representative at Virginia, I found myself accelerating into an explosive suite of paid flights for interviews, contests and appearances, the dot-com age of recruiting was still in full-force at the end of the 90s, and I was virtually required to be jet-setting on its coattails. I travelled twelve thousand miles in three months after previously rarely venturing any father than two states. Already I marvel at how boastfully accomplished the traveler I thought I was then, where now routinely crossing the Pacific three times a year. Still, at the dawn of my era of enlightenment, fatigue and a mild sense of dread were the prerequisites for those morning rides to Dulles or BWI in my father’s stoic, smoke-filled sedan.

So many pre-dawn rousings for the fraternity did little to improve my sentiment for my grandfather’s adage of “early to bed, early to rise…“. Everytime I awoke to the cold darkness it was matted hair, track pants and eyes glued shut with sleep while Brandon waited with a sports drink bottle of water in the pitch den. We walked in silence, the only sounds the swishing of nylon against nylon, fingers cupped under arms as the we waited the long, hard minutes for the Neon’s diminutive heater to provide yet another bitter reminder of how blissful the sleep we were sacrificing was. Someone would be late. Someone else would be late. Someone would go to call the first person from Small Hall (cell phones were not yet practical). The first person would arrive in supposed ignorance of the planned meeting time. We’d wait for the person who went to call to come back. Someone would go after them. We’d give up on someone and mutter about how many dozens of pledge tasks would be piled upon the woeful class for such insubordination. The roll would meet with mixed results. Some of us would go back to bed for a late class, some would give up and sleep through it. Some would go to O’Hill and be the first at the omelet bar.

I want to change the seemingly insoluble abhorrence I have for waking up early. In a perfect world I’d display the lunar efficiency of my father and have three hours of work done in blissful solitude before anyone else even showed up at the office. Then I could leave at the end of the “working hours” posted on my contract at 6:30 and share a normal life with the millions of 20-something office workers, teachers, and shopkeepers.

The Dalai Lama says change in five steps: education, conviction, determination, action, effort; the last of which requires consistent application for a substantial period of time. He wakes up at 3:30 to start the day. I guess the least I could shoot for is 7. I wonder not what tomorrow’s attempt will bring, but the average for the next three weeks.