Final Fantasy really is going downhill, fast

Earlier in the week, I was reading this article about the supposed slow dying of the Final Fantasy franchise, and it made me think about my own fandom in the series as I was growing up.  For the most part, I agree that the franchise as a whole is a shell of its former self, and I’m not going to pretend like I was nearly a vested fan to care so much about the writers, producers, directors, or whatever positions people held that made the old games great that when they left or moved on, yeah I guess I should have been concerned about the direction of the future games, but I didn’t.

If I were asked to pinpoint the precise spot where the series began its gradual turn downhill, I would say it was from the moment that Final Fantasy X-2 was conceived.  It was at this point did the series break a two-decade old tradition of never making a direct sequel to any one particular game, despite the potential that any one of them may have had.  Not only did FFX2 break the tradition, it ended up being a pretty shitty game by all popularly reviewed standards.  This commenter seems to have nailed how I thought about it:

But FFX-2 was where it became clear to me that Final Fantasy was dead. It was an insipid, grindy package of fan-service that not only insulted fans of the classic Final Fantasy games, but also fans of the original FFX, completely undercutting the original story by bastardizing its own characters and ruining the (ostensibly) tragic sacrifice of Tidus at the end of FFX. That’s when I really woke up and realized that the series I had fallen in love with was gone, turned into a shambling, undead mockery of itself.

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#9

Yeah, that lasted what, two weeks?  Despite my declaration that I wouldn’t get any more belts, I actually did happen to stumble upon the last belt that I was remotely interested in.  And much like the Big Gold Belt, it was priced for more than I would be normally willing to pay for it, but it had the option for a Best Offer, and floated a lowball offer that required very little negotiating over ten bucks to come to a selling price.  And here we stand: championship belt number nine.

It’s the ECW Television Championship belt, which was made famous when Rob Van Dam won it from Bam Bam Bigelow, and held it for just under two straight years.  He never actually lost the belt, and it was stripped from him when he suffered a legitimate broken ankle, and it was apparent that the company couldn’t afford to keep the title off of television when there were storylines to be moved along.  But it was 23 months of mostly excellent Rob Van Dam matches of him in his prime, having classic bouts with guys like Jerry Lynn, Lance Storm, Sabu and each of the Dudley Boyz, giving some good legitimacy to it.

But for reals, this is the last one.  Despite my initial protests that I didn’t want to end with an odd number, I honestly for the life of me can’t really think of any other belts that I’d want.  I’m not remotely interested in any of the belts in current WWE circulation, nor do I want any current, or previous generation of any particular belt that I currently have.  The only belts out there that I would even consider are limited to titles such as WCW Cruiserweight, WWF Light-Heavyweight, ECW Tag, WCW Television or WWF/WCW Hardcore, and for a variety of reasons, I don’t want any of those.  I also have zero interest in any TNA replica belts, or any boxing or MMA championship belts.  The ONLY belt I would really be enthusiastic about getting my hands on would be this classic OVW World Championship Belt, but considering they were like the double-A low-budget minor league affiliates of the WWF for a spell, it’s hard to imagine any actual replicas of their belts were ever made.

So I’ve pretty much finished off my collection whether I like the number nine or not.  But honestly at this point and with however many hundreds of dollars I’ve blown on expensive and useless replica wrestling belts, I can say that I’m okay with that.

Just know that I want to say something about this

I really, really want to write something about this story about how IKEAs in mainland China are being raided on a regular basis by mainlanders who invade the stores, and abuse the showrooms and display furniture by taking naps in the beds, lay all over the sofas, and let their kids run around unsupervised.  About how it’s completely uncivilized, inconsiderate and disgusting, but mostly just how uncivilized it all is.

Despite the fact that there’s so much I’d really want to actually say, the only words that seem capable of formulating in my head are unfriendly remarks about how barbaric and uncivilized the Chinese are, that the world really doesn’t have a lot to fear about their secluded society plotting anything grander than scheming to get into IKEA before others so they can camp the beds, and other insensitive remarks about how Koreans are vastly superior on so many levels over the Chinese.

So, I guess I won’t say anything at all about the matter.

Why can’t NBA players make free throws?

I watched an NBA game while I was eating lunch the other day, because for whatever reason, Moloch Day seemed like an appropriate time to have afternoon specials of NBA basketball.  Either way, it was the fourth quarter of a fairly close game between the Pacers and the Grizzlies, where anywhere every single field goal seemed essential.  That being said, there was about a four minute stretch where neither team scored.

It had nothing to do with guys getting any bad luck with open shots, or layups rimming out unluckily, it was just a bunch of overpaid primadonnas throwing up brick after brick, with teammates open, while being defended, or opting for ill-advised fadeaways.  But the best part about this four minute stretch was that during this time, five free throws were attempted between the two team with the Pacers shooting two, and the Grizzlies shooting two, and one technical shot being taken by the Pacers.  All five of the free throws were misses, including the completely uncontested technical.

This seemingly endless slope of degrading free throw shooting throughout the course of the NBA never fails to baffle me how something so easy is so difficult to do, for the supposed greatest basketball players on the planet.  I mean, free throws are completely uncontested shots; no defender trying to bump you, reaching up to block the ball, or even put a hand in your face.  It’s just the player, 15 feet away from the hoop, with ten seconds to concentrate and shoot a completely unopposed shot; the fact that it’s called a free throw indicates to just how easy it really should be.

If you look up “airball free throw” on YouTube, there are about 700 results, with pretty much like 90% of them being within the last few years.  And these are guys in the NBA or at the collegiate level with NBA aspirations throwing up these air balls too.  AIR BALLS. Shots that don’t even hit the rim, and completely miss outright.  I’m baffled at how that’s even possible, at the level of basketball performance these guys are capable of playing at, at any other aspect of the game.

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Photos: Celebrating good things

So, on Moloch Day, a bunch of us decided to go out and celebrate good things.  No, of course we weren’t celebrating Moloch Day other than the fact that it got a bunch of a us a day off of work.  It just so happened that Moloch Day was also Miss Allison’s birthday and it turns out that both Jen and I had some reason to celebrate that I’m not really at liberty to talk about, but whatever, we gathered at The Melting Pot and scared off random strangers with abrasive conversation, as well as fondue’d it up for a pleasant evening.

I will be the first to admit the disappointing quality of the pictures in this gallery.  This was more or less the first time that I brought out my new point-and-shoot, and I will also be the first to admit that I hadn’t really used it prior to this night, so it was completely oblivious to me that when in low-light mode, this camera for whatever reason is locked into a lower quality.  The result is a lot of photos with compromised quality, and a lesson learned to really avoid using the low-light setting well, ever again.

Leave it to me to screw up what is supposed to be the simplicity of the point-and-shoot, but it too clearly needs a little bit of understanding to get the best out of.  Regardless, photos:

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