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Apr. 11th, 2009

Woke up this morning to the cat clambering up onto the bed to nuzzle between us. It's her wake-up call these days, purring loudly so we both stare into her big black eyes. We went back to sleep, because it's nice to a have a cat purring between us in the mornings. The next time I woke up, there was a cat wrapped halfway around my head, as my head seemed to be slowly getting nudged off my pillow. Sif has gone from a neurotic, traumatically broken cat to a more chilled out cat these days. As it was, by the time she turned on her side and began leaning her full weight against my head, I was wide awake. Now she's hanging out next to my chair, so I can reach out to scratch her behind the years. She's a terribly good gaming cat too, quite happy to sit with her people between speakers blasting out simultaneous gunfire and spell blasts.

The Trusty Guide is busy playing Killzone behind me. I like listening to him and watching him play. There's something very soothing about watching the dear husband set up gun turrets and take down ISA soldiers with a shotgun. Sometimes, I help bodycount to keep track of his medal winnings. I might pick up the game myself one of these days. I've just got to get past the twitchy controls.

After three years, I've finally finished Digital Devil Saga. I got stuck for the longest time tracking the optional bosses, until I got so sick of upping levels, I quit. Once I picked it up again, I demolished the final version of Beelzebub and set about on what I thought would be "the quick last boss". My policy with most of these run-around-and-smack-random-encounter RPGs is to not leave a dungeon until every single member of my team has at least been raised a level. So by the time I was at the final dungeon, each of my characters was at least level 80, strong enough, I thought, to breeze past anything. The last dungeon of DDS was not quick. It could've been one of the most badly-designed dungeons I've ever played, which is sad, since DDS is an otherwise underratedly good game. For its time, the scenery managed to be very intricate, with Indian temple-esque detailing on every wall, cornice, doorway and floor tile, while the story, which is loosely based around Hindu/Buddhist concepts of reincarnation and atheist-death concepts of Nirvana, really sets the mood (gloomy and increasingly disconsolate). Having helped Seth tag team Persona 4, the latest in the MegaTen franchise (together we logged some 100 hours of game time), I've actually come to appreciate how far the MegaTen games have come in designing sleeker, leaner dungeons, and especially, improving status attacks. It took me at least another 5 hours of running into seemingly endless portal mazes to get to the final cutscene for DDS. I hate portal mazes, almost as much as I hate water pump mazes. My levels by the time I hit the final boss? 85.

Walked over to Jim's for breakfast. Jim's is my definition of ye olde American diner, at least, what I remember of them from my childhood in Houston and New Orleans. The waiters are sweet. The food comes in massive American portions, and they make tasty hash browns. The bottomless coffee goes with our books. We usually leave once the mariachi band moves in. This is usually accompanied by parents with their screaming children, who have apparently never heard of a baby plug. Afterwards, we headed to Duc Loi Supermarket on 18th. This is a spiffy new Asian market that's often surprisingly quiet. They have a large assortment of very Asian products, but no dried normal won ton noodles -- lots of "imitation egg noodles" and "vegetarian egg noodles" though -- and plenty of very fresh, tasty Asian vegetables. I was hoping to find a replacement pack for the nice scallop-flavoured won ton noodles I got at 99 Ranch over New Year's.

Last night, we watched the first Red Cliff. A combination of being old fans of Koei's Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors franchise, and attempts at reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms with varying success meant there was enough geekery between us to point and cheer at the screen when Zhuge Liang showed up and squeal like little girls at Guan Yu's beard. There was also much cheering because Red Cliff starts off with one of the most famous rescue attempts in history, and it's completely exciting. The movie gives cursory nods to some favourite staples from HK period drama movie tropes of old, such as scholars talking via decidedly rock star-like slide guitar qin battles (it's obligatory!) and lots of smirky, silent pauses in conversations when the chief strategists on each side come up with a cunning plan. It has one of my favourite things about period dramas, namely, pretty hair ornaments. There were plenty of John Woo moments where the aforementioned director was so John Woo, including a scene Chow Yun Fatt abandoned at the last minute for the much nicer to look at Tony Leung (we spent half the movie looking out for him, honest) but that was clearly made for Chow Yun Fatt -- the also obligatory leaping in front of a flying arrow for a comrade-in-arms slow-mo sequence. The movie does drag out its middle far too long, giving fuel to my opinion that sex scenes in most movies (except movies of the more erotic genres) are frequently added to take up film time, although quiet, smirky moments between scholars are still cool. I was waiting for the scene where people would get together in a poetry recitation battle royale, but maybe they saved that for the next movie. Since we bought Red Cliff II too, I'll find out tonight.