Bytes, bites, and bloatware

(1) HANGING BY A THREAD: Surviving Globalism and Losing Factory Culture in the Embroidery Capital of the World (Breitbart)

(2) COVID-19, Circumstance, and Groundhog Day (Law and Liberty)

KH3 DLC Postscript

I published my own theory about the end of KH3 before I played Re:Mind. I’m going back now to some of the worlds to take screenshots for #PS4Share. I really love the posters in Twilight Town and Scala ad Caelum. The latter is maybe one of the loneliest worlds in the entire series. The honor of that distinction used to belong to Traverse Town in KH. Traverse Town always felt like a dark ride, movie set, or the city inside of the SDF-1.

(1) Kingdom Hearts May Have Just Uncovered the Mystery Around The Darkness (GAMERANT)

(2) Kingdom Hearts 3 ReMind – Data Young Xehanort No Damage (Critical Mode) (YouTube)

(3) Screenshot from Eden of the East. The detail is amazing (like the posters in Twilight Town and Scala ad Caelum)

(4) Speaking of detail…The Art of Cuphead is sitting on my desk.

The scan is from The Art of the Japanese Baseball Card by John Gall and Gary Engel.

KH3 **FINAL** Post [STR-05]

“My whole journey began the day I lost her. And every time I find her…she slips away again.” — Sora

Finally. I completed Kingdom Hearts 3 at 10:54 on 3.13.2020 earning the KINGDOM HEARTS III Complete Master trophy (3.5% rarity). I haven’t been this excited since Arnold became the Space Sucker champion. Here’s my KH3 post more than 1+ year since the game was released on 1.29.2019.

Firstly, I don’t have anything negative to say about the game. I’ve played every title except Re:coded and Kingdom Hearts Union Cross and have bought platforms (PSP and 3DS) just for this series. I’m definitely a fan and have been since it was released -so- this post is a “hunny drizzle” of un-objectivity. I’ve seen the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra twice and working on The Legends of Kingdom Hearts Volume 1: Creation. Genesis of Hearts by Georges “Jay” Grouard so my credentials are better than Scallop Poêlé from the Le Grand Bistrot.

Tetsuya Nomura is a master storyteller, and whilst the story has gotten very complicated, when you break it down the series is simply about friendship, sacrifice, and the choice between good and evil (and the grayness in-between). It [the ending] was a satisfying conclusion and to see all the characters reunited was really wonderful. I also liked the cutscene at the end between Eraqus and Xehanort. I have my own theories about Sora and Kairi which I’ll end the post with.

23 Reasons to Play KH3
(1) Favorite Worlds: Caribbean / San Fransokyo / Kingdom of Corona
(2) Favorite Location: Twilight Town
(3) Most Helpful YouTube Video: Kingdom Hearts 3 – COMPLETE GUIDE: Ultima Weapon (100% Item Synthesis, 7 Orichalcum+, Minigames) by Soraalam1
(4) Best Link: 8-Bit Blast
(5) Best Attraction: Blaster Blaze
(6) Worst Attraction: Splash Run
(7) Favorite Keyblades: Starlight & Midnight Blue (PS4)
(8) Favorite Classic Kingdom Games: Building A Building, How To Play Baseball, and Giantland
(9) Best Mini Game: Flash Tracer / Verum Rex: Beat of Lead
(10) Most Difficult Mini Game: Festival Dancer (thanks Steve)
(11) Favorite Flantastic Game: Honeydew Flan
(12) Most Wished for KH3 Toy: Schwarzgeist
(13) Favorite Gummi Ship: Endymion
(14) Favorite Organization XIII Member: Luxord
(15) Favorite Shotlock: Phantom Rush / Noise Flux (Classic Tone)
(16) Most Wished for Kingdom Hearts World(s): Meet the Robinsons / Susie the Little Blue Coupe
(17) Most Wished for Kingdom Hearts Merchandise: Classic Kingdom in a Game & Watch device / The Art of Kingdom Hearts
(18) Toughest Secret Boss: Dark Inferno (Battlegate #14)
(19) Favorite Character: Aqua
(20) Favorite NPC: Yen Sid
(21) Favorite Team Attack: Mighty Avalanche
(22) Favorite Trio: Roxas, Axel, and Xion.
(23) Favorite Trophy: True Captain (Sink 200 enemy ships in The Caribbean)

Questions without answers?
(1) How did Kairi get to Destiny Islands from Radiant Garden?
(2) How BIG is Destiny Island and is it part of a chain of islands?
(3) What are Terra, Ventus, and Aqua going to do next? This answers some of that!

My own interpretation of the ending
It looks like Xigbar / Luxu is going to feature prominently in the next story arc but I think I’ve played enough. I’m satisfied with the ending, and although I’m a hopeless romantic, Sora and Kairi could never “live happily ever after.” Sora makes the ultimate sacrifice for Kairi (and his companions) and his fading away on that iconic beach is a little like Frodo passing from the Grey Havens to the Blessed Realm.

“‘Yes,’ said Gandalf; ‘for it will be better to ride back three together than one alone. Well, here at last, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.'” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Sora: What’s so funny?
Young Xehanort: I told you. There’s a high price to pay for all of this.
Sora: And what price would that be?
Young Xehanort: I’ll go back to my time and live out my life. But Sora, you’re done now. Your journey ends here.
Sora: What?
Young Xehanort: Good-bye, Sora. Your time… in this world is-
Young Xehanort fades away.

Kingdom Hearts [re]trospective

“He [Tetsuya Nomura] gave the hero a more cartoonish appearance, inspired by Mickey Mouse, particularly in the color scheme: the baggy pants were red and the shoes were yellow. In addition, he purposely exaggerated the size of the shoes to accentuate the resemblance to Mickey. Then, he redid the last animal features, finished off the hairstyle and the accessories, including giving him a belt. He kept the giant key, which became the Keyblade. Thus, Sora was born, and with him, a defining feature of Kingdom Hearts, even though at that point the project had a different title…” — The Legends of Kingdom Hearts Volume 1: Creation. Genesis of Hearts by Georges “Jay” Grouard

“Beauty and sadness are woven together; even Frankenstein gets lonely.” — Shampoo Planet by Douglas Coupland

I’m not sure how to start this retrospective without being too personal. What’s really essential is that you understand that I’m a GenXer in the core years of the generation (a Douglas Coupland Xer). I read Shampoo Planet in my formative years and love this quote (and have shared it with those I love):

“I cry because the future has once again found its sparkle and has grown a million times larger. And I cry because I am ashamed of how badly I have treated the people I love–of how badly I behaved during my own personal Dark Ages–back before I had a future and someone who cared for me from above. It is like today the sky opened up and only now am I allowed to enter.”

It’s a theme in this long post I’ll come back to in the end and it’s linked to Kingdom Hearts. I love the beginning of The Legends of Kingdom Hearts because Grouard highlights all of these keywords that make Tetsuya Nomura who he is. I think we all do that kind of introspection at some point in our lives (or maybe at many points).

“They are two very interesting protagonists because they establish plot devices that Nomura, the writer, loves to use: solitude, tragedy, depression, individualism, freedom, escape, and blurred the lines between good and evil.”

Who are you? Who are you? I’m a walrus.
One of my favorite posts is A Gen Xers Top 20 Video Game List which I wrote in 2015. I list Ultima IV and 2400 A.D. as my favorite titles (although Kingdom Hearts is my favorite series). I’m re-reading the post and amazingly Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance didn’t break the Top 20. I also read The Art of Atari since writing that post and one factor for early gamers (Gen Xers) was HOW important the role of art and design was in those early games.

“At a time when on-screen graphics were much less sophisticated, Atari needed artwork and graphic design capable of stirring the imagination.”

Generation Z has grown up mostly digital but Gen Xers were raised in an analog world. You had to use your imagination in those early video games and culturally we were just barely removed from a world of dungeons and dragons (pen and paper). Ultima IV and 2400 A.D. rank so highly on my list because of the analog components. I still have the metal robots from 2400 A.D. and the ankh and cloth map from Ultima IV (the manuals for the latter are amazing). When Ultima IX: Ascension was released in 1999 all those analog components were included in the box. It’s funny to even type “box” because games today are downloaded via Steam or streamed via Google Stadia.

The soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window…
I don’t think Generation Y and Z understand the influence the arcade had on Xers. One of my favorite scenes in Tron: Legacy is when Sam turns on the arcade machines at Flynn’s. There’s also an arcade scene in War Games and where else does Ronald Miller find Kenneth in Can’t Buy Me Love but in an arcade.

All of this seems pretty far from Kingdom Hearts and those quotes from Shampoo Planet but I promise there’s a connection.

Weekend 459.2

“Sometimes life has a way of moving you past things like wants and hopes.” — Kevin Flynn

Weekend 459.1

“A station is far more than a group of buildings where the passenger catches [the] train, buys a ticket, a meal or a newspaper. It expresses the very nature of rail transport. The new stations, with their functional look, provide for a smooth flow of passengers of all times. Clear sign-posting, logical arrangement of essential services and spacious interiors match the bold, clean shapes of the external structures. There is the minimum of pretension, the maximum of practical commonsense in architectural terms.”

Source: British Rail Architecture 1948-1997 by David Lawrence

“Disney typically appeared to be in search of new technologies to enhance story-telling, improve an attraction, or, in this case, develop the EPCOT concept.”

Source: Walt Disney and the Quest for Community by Steve Mannheim

Weekend 459.0

(1) A couple of quotes from Paul by N.T. Wright:

“What matters, I think, is the way in which the letters covers so many moods and situations, the way in which, like the great music of our own classical tradition, they can find you at every stage of life, in every joy and sorrow, chance and challenge. I am reminded of one of the finest British journalists of the last generation, Bernard Levin, who spoke of how the great composers had accompanied him through his life: ‘Beethoven first, for the boy who wanted to put the world to rights; Wagner next, for the man unable to put himself to rights; Mozart at last, as the shadows lengthen, to confirm the growing belief that there is a realm ‘where everything is known and yet forgiven.'”

Shades of Absolutely On Music by Haruki Murakami

(1a) “…they were discovering at the same time that Rome, after all, could not really deliver on its promises. When the new communities spoke of a different Kyrios, one whose sovereignty was gained through humility and suffering rather than wealth and conquest, many must have found that attractive, not simply for what we would call “religious” reasons, but precisely for what they might call “political” ones. This looked like something real rather than the smoke and mirrors of imperial rhetoric.”

(2) Kingdom Hearts III Re: Mind’ Is the Antidote to Bad Endings (Wired)

Weekend 458.0

(1) The Sameness and Difference of Saint Thérèse (The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

Weekend 457.1

(1) The Quality of Objects (The Russell Kirk Center)

Weekend 457.0

Quotes from Paul by N.T. Wright:

“But the dark powers do not give up easily.”

“Ephesus was famous as the home of all kinds of magic, the dark and powerful arts that were always popular on the edge of mainstream paganism. When Acts describes converted magicians burning their secret books as evidence of the impact of Paul’s teaching, this makes sense precisely in Ephesus. But it would also make sense to imagine a backlash. And when the dark forces strike back, they do not play fair.”

“In one scene that must have shaken the world to its core, a substantial group of magicians made public confession of what they had been up to and brought their valuable magic books to be burned. The dark arts were being smoked out of hiding, almost literally. All those prayers Paul had prayed, invoking the name and the power of the crucified and risen Lord, were having their effect.”

“But in this case he had sensed that something else was going on. The forces ranged against him were not simply human. He had stirred up a hornets’ nest with his powerful ministry in Ephesus. Think of all those magic books going up in smoke. Just as Jesus warned his followers not to fear those who could merely kill the body, but rather to fear the dark power that could wreck a more terrible destruction, so Paul was learning that human authorities, though important in themselves, might sometimes be acting merely as a front for other powers that would attack through them.”

“I think that, like a plant in harsh winter, Paul in prison was forced to put his roots down even deeper than he had yet gone into the biblical tradition, and deeper again, still within that tradition, into the meaning of Jesus and his death. The roots slowly found moisture. From the depth of that dark soil, way below previous consciousness, he drew hope and new possibilities. The fruit of that labor remains to this day near the heart of Christian belief.”

Test

Do not delete.

Weekend 456.0

“It is a difficult and rare virtue to mean what we say, to love without dissimulation, to think no evil, to bear no grudge, to be free from selfishness, to be innocent and straight-forward.” — Lead, Kindly, Light

(1) The art of imitation – 19th century Islamic revivalism (The British Museum)

(2) A poem by Robert Frost:

TO THE THAWING WIND
“Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.”

Weekend 455.0

(1) A quote from Paul by N.T. Wright:

“When our words run out, we need images: the look of delight when a dear friend pays an unexpected visit, the glance of understanding between musicians as together they say something utterly beautiful, the long squeeze of a hand by a hospital bed, the contentment and gratitude that accompany shared worship and prayer—all this and more. The other Greek word for which Paul would reach is of course agapē, “love,” but once again our English term is so overused that we can easily fail to recognize it as it walks nearby, like a short-sighted lover failing to recognize the beloved; what we so often miss is that it means the world, and more than the world. ‘The son of God love me,’ Paul had written to the Galatians, ‘and gave himself for me.’ What we see as Paul makes his way around the cities of northern Greece is what that love looks like when it translates into the personal and pastoral ministry of the suffering and celebrating apostle.”

Fighting Back versus Resignation

(1) A quote from The Power Of Silence: Against The Dictatorship Of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah:

“Today the danger lies in the unbridled activism of the modern world. We are always called to fight, to comb the countryside, to overthrow our adversaries, and to destroy them. Indeed, man is driven to compound one evil with another, whereas we ought to let the weeds grow with the wheat. Silence will give us the patience to wait for the moment when the useless plants will fall by themselves. Thanks to silence, we will know how to bide our time and to wait for God’s hour with perseverance so as to forge an alliance with him and to work under his guidance.”

(2) The Death of Europe, with Douglas Murray (YouTube)

(3) Virginia gun ‘sanctuary’ leaders urge resistance to gun laws, compare to American Revolution (Washington Examiner)

(4) Chuck Todd Suggests That Trump Voters ‘Wanna Be Lied to’ Because Noah’s Ark or Something (PJ Media)

(5) Wintry panorama…

2018/2019 by the numbers…

I’m using my retreats as bookends so the timeline covers the period between December 7-9, 2018 and December 20-22, 2019. What I didn’t know before my first retreat ended is that I would spend 6+ months in Paris for work beginning in March.

Some notes…

I’ve provided dates for specific events (matches, concerts, etc.) and if you’re keeping score at home my teams / clubs went 5-1-1. All the links in this post are to Flickr, Vimeo, and/or official sites. While I briefly mention my trips to Belgium (Orval Abbey) and Germany both are covered extensively in other posts. The second part of my post will focus on life in Paris.

Timeline

  • Retreat at St. Josephs Abbey 12/7 to 12/9/2018
  • North Carolina 1st Visit 12/16/2018
  • New York Islanders (6) vs Ottawa Senators (3) 12/28/2018 (WIN)
  • Paris 1st Sprint 3/9/2019
  • La Marche de Saint Joseph 3/16/2019
  • Weekend in Metz 3/30 to 3/31/2019
    • FC Metz (2) vs FC Lorient (1) 3/31/2019 (WIN)
  • A.J. Auxerre (0) vs FC Metz (0) 4/6/2019 (DRAW)
  • Weekend in Southampton 4/12 to 4/14/2019
    • Southampton (3) vs Wolverhampton (1) 4/13/2019 (WIN)
    • Solent Sky Museum 4/13/2019
  • Weekend in Belgium (via Luxembourg) 6/22 to 6/23/2019
  • Kingdom Hearts World Orchestra (NYC) 6/29/2019
  • Bastille Day 7/14/2019
  • North Carolina 2nd Visit 8/15/2019
  • Weekend in Angers 8/24 to 8/25/2019
  • Angers SCO (3) vs FC Metz (0) 8/24/2019 (LOSS)
  • Weekend in Trier Germany & Luxembourg City 9/14 to 9/15/2019
    • Eintracht Trier (3) vs TuS Koblenz (2) 9/14/2019 (WIN)
  • TWA Hotel 9/22 & Walt Disney World 9/23 to 9/29/2019
  • New York City 10/24 to 10/26/2019
    • New York Islanders (4) vs Arizona Coyotes (2) 10/24/2019 (WIN)
    • Emanuel Ax Performs Beethoven @ Lincoln Center 10/25/2019
  • London 11/17 to 11/24/2019
    • Mail Rail at The Postal Museum & Guildhall Art Gallery 11/18/2019
  • Bristol 11/22 to 11/24/2019
  • North Carolina 3rd Visit 12/14 to 12/18/2019
  • Retreat at St. Josephs Abbey 12/20 to 12/22/2019

Paris 1st Sprint
I spent my first weekend in Paris participating in the La Marche de Saint Joseph. It was an amazing event but notable for two reasons— we attended mass at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris less than 1 month before it was devastated by a fire on April 15 and we visited Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. The former was my refuge whilst in Paris, and it wasn’t until my retreat to St. Joseph’s this Advent that I realized HOW special this cathedral is.

Here is Saint Therese of Lisieux on Our Lady of Victories:

“We reached Paris in the morning and commenced our visit without any delay. Poor little Father tired himself out trying to please us, and very soon we saw all the marvels of the Capital. I myself found only one which filled me with delight, Our Lady of Victories! Ah! what I felt kneeling at her feet cannot be expressed. The graces she granted me so moved me that my happiness found expression only in tears, just as on the day of my First Communion.”

Here’s a photo and video from the limestone archives from inside the cathedral. Coffee and books will feature prominently in this long post and I spent many weekends at Bar du Moulin (right next door to the cathedral) sipping coffee and reading in the shadow of Our Lady.

Metz & Auxerre
My first trip outside of Paris was to Metz via Gare de l’Est. The goal of my weekend excursion was a football match between FC Metz and FC Lorient. This photo of Stade Saint-Symphorien is one of my favorites. I was able to the explore the stadium the day before the match completely unmolested and the walk from Gare de Metz to Stade Saint-Symphorien follows the beautiful Moselle. Don’t miss the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, Cathedral of Saint Stephen of Metz (Good Lord’s Lantern), and Temple Neuf. When you need a little caffeine and rest find La Moselle. It’s one of three really exceptional cafés discovered on these trips. The others being Foliage Café in Bristol and The Caféothèque of Paris.

My second excursion was a day trip to Auxerre for a football match. I was perched outside the stadium early enough to see the club arrive via bus.

Southampton
I returned to the US via Southampton and London. A brief summary of my trip was captured in Southampton, P2. One of the highlights was my visit to the Solent Sky Museum and it’s featured in a documentary about the Spitfire on Netflix. I was also there for a football match at St. Mary’s.

>> Related: Southampton, P1

Belgium
I took two really great weekend trips outside of France during my assignment in Paris. The first was to the Orval Abbey in Belgium whilst the second was to Trier in Germany. I took the train from Paris to Luxembourg for both and then rented a car. The Orval Abbey and St. Joseph’s both share a Cistercian and Trappist history. I stayed at the Hotel Le Florentin and it’s one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at (not exaggerating). The area around Florenville is also very pastoral / bucolic.

I was back in NYC in June for the Kingdom Hearts World Orchestra and the highlight was meeting Yoko Shimomura!

One perk of this assignment was the opportunity to celebrate two national holidays within ten days of each other on two different continents / countries— Independence Day and Bastille Day. I have never seen better fireworks than the ones in Paris (and having the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop just adds to the pageantry). I also had access to a special viewing section (long story for another post).

Angers
One of my last weekend trips in France was to Angers to see newly promoted FC Metz get steamrolled by Angers SCO. The city follows the contours of the Maine. The area around the Château d’Angers offers excellent vistas and don’t miss the Tapestry of the Apocalypse within the castle. The Crêperie du Château is a nice break from adventuring, and I’m NOT a foodie so its inclusion in this post is significant. You could also spend a half-day taking photos in the narrow streets around the creperie.

Trier & Luxembourg City
My trip to Trier was just before the end of my assignment and included a football match between Eintracht Trier and TuS Koblenz. I also revisited Porta Nigra (was there once upon a time). I spent the night at the BECKERS Hotel and Restaurant and you can see vineyards from the property.

Some poor planning on my part resulted in almost a full day in Luxembourg City (kind of a happy accident) which included a self-guided tour of Saint Michael’s (the oldest Catholic Church in Luxembourg City) and a stroll through the Parcs de la Pétrusse.

TWA Hotel and Walt Disney World
I spent a night at the TWA Hotel at JFK in September with my brother en route to Walt Disney World. I’m not going to write about the latter because it’s getting much more difficult to see any trace of Walt Disney. The restoration of Eero Saarinen’s Bird Terminal on the other hand will result in an architectural and historical sensory overload. We spent most of the night just wandering around the hotel taking photographs. I wish Disney would restore Tomorrowland to its original Saarinen-like design.

>> Up, Up and Away with TWA (Flickr Album)

New York
I did return to Paris for one final sprint but work obligations made any weekend excursions difficult. The end of my assignment and return to the US coincided with the start of hockey season (AHL/NHL) and a concert at Lincoln Center/David Geffen Hall. I went home to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum a couple days before my birthday to see the Isles (founded in 1972) play the Arizona Coyotes. The Isles WON 4-2 and I caught a puck in the third period.

Fun Fact: I saw the North Carolina Hurricanes (Hartford Whalers) defeat the Arizona Coyotes on 12/16/2018 3-0 on my first trip to Raleigh.

London and Bristol
I finished Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History sometime in the summer (no doubt at Bar du Moulin in the shadow of Our Lady) and was enamored by a painting depicting one of the important battles. My trip to London in November included a day trip to the Guildhall Art Gallery to see the painting Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, 1782 by John Singleton Copley. I also rode the Mail Rail at the Postal Museum. IF you are not claustrophobic (and love trains) this tour / museum should be managed on your itinerary like expedited first class. I also went to the London Transport Museum for some gift shopping and left with British Rail Architecture 1948-1997 by David Lawrence for the limestone library. I haven’t finished the book yet but quotes are appearing in posts and correspondence to friends. I was so inspired by a passage about an experimental station that I’m managing something similar in my backyard (in miniature of course).

I left London for Bristol via Waterloo Station. The highlight of this trip was the Foliage Café and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The weather was really (really) lousy but I was still able to explore the city by foot. Make sure to explore Giant’s Cave. If you fancy vinyl there’s a Rough Trade on Nelson Street.

Paris Closing Notes
A quick list of my favorite places and things in Paris not mentioned in the body of the post:
RATP / Châtelet / Paris Métro
La Défense
Saint Joseph’s
Hôtel de Ville
Ashiana (Indian Restaurant)
Au Plat d’Etain
Gare de Bercy/Gare de l’Est/Gare Montparnasse
Jardin du Luxembourg/Jardin des Tuileries (Big Wheel on Place de la Concorde)
The Abbey Bookshop
Marché couvert les Enfants Rouges
Cinq Fois Plus
The Musée de l’Orangerie
Grand Palais
La Caisses de Bières
Arc de Triomphe
Sacré-Cœur
La Droguerie
Le BHV Marais (Caran d’Ache)
Atelier des Lumières
Marche aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux

Companion Books and Music
Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins
Absolutely on Music: Conversations Haruki Murakami with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa
Orval: Histoire de la reconstruction de l’abbaye by Danièle Henky and Èric Hance
British Rail Architecture 1948-1997 by David Lawrence
The Baroque Oboe: Harold Gomberg performs Vivaldi, Telemann and Handel; Seiji Ozawa conducting the Columbia Chamber Orchestra with the Gomberg Baroque Ensemble