I kept meaning to put a notice up along the lines of "no new posts until January", but for one reason or another, it just never happened. My apologies to the Druidify faithful. I'm back, I had ~2 weeks off from work, and truth-be-told, that is where I do the majority of my blogging (if any of my bosses are reading, trust me its only ~10-15 minutes and I lump that time into my lunch hour, though lunch and blogging rarely overlap).

I wonder if anyone has ever noticed that I get a little bit sentimental after taking breaks... I end up writing a little more poetically, a little more fondly of times past, and basically a little more depressed-sounding than when I have been working non-stop. I would like to talk about my break from the world for a moment. I had December 24th through January 3rd off from work, which is a very nice vacation (better than I'm used to, anyway). The first two days were filled with family matters, from wrapping presents to decorating the house (and my parents' house). My girlfriend and I made cookies for a party, it was all good times.

The rest of the week, I spent time grinding arena rating... which became a burden... so I stopped playing WoW for the rest of my vacation. As weird as that is to think (given that I haven't really gone a day or two without a few hours of WoW thrown into the mix since Vanilla).

For Christmas, I got some new clothes, and I got a new 5.1 Dolby tuner (I had a Sony Hi5 from ~20 years ago which worked fine until ~6 months ago when it finally stopped picking up radio stations and essentially became 100% inoperable). I hooked up my TV/DVD-player/CD-Player/IPod-Player/VCR(lawl) and anything else with an RCA jack to this monster tuner. I bought a 3-set of speakers ~15 years ago (KLH, good quality, not great) when the Hi5 still worked and (since it only had 2 audio outs) I had all speakers working functionally as a giant room-wide stereo system. I bought a subwoofer, and I HAD the 5 speakers necessary for the 5.1 setup... baller.

Anyway, I was playing with this new beast instead of WoW for the better part of the beginning of my break, but once I had it set up and tested and it was working to my liking... I realized that I didn't really have anything to do unless I was playing WoW. As it happened, earlier in the month, my girlfriend had been moving stuff around while doing her finals and unearthed a cd-case I had not seen in a LONG time.

What was in the cd-case, you might wonder? Well, I thought the same thing, opened it up, and saw my collection of PSX games (PS1 for all you second-generation-types). I cannot, with words, due credit to the feeling, but suffice it to say that it was overwhelming many of my senses. I wondered if it still worked...

I went into the "elektroniks klosit" (must be said with a Russian accent), which interestingly is in the room with the washer-dryer unit so it MIGHT get a little bit wet in there, and started looking. After moving a single box, I found what I was looking for. My Playstation - a first generation PSX with pop-top loading, gray exterior, big enough to bludgeon a man to death, ridged side to make said bludgeoning that much more effective, and a slew of outputs, including an RCA output (which I never used as a child... our TVs were never cutting edge so I almost always used the coaxial connection).

Before I knew it, I had the PSX hooked up through the new tuner and was sitting in front of it with my cd-case thinking about which game I should play... like the words of some unseen entity:

"Final Fantasy"

But which one... there were 3 (that I own) for the PSX, 2 worth playing. That makes it "7 or 9?"

As a quick aside here, I loved FF7, it was a game that turned an entire generation into role-playing-game-loving-freaks such as myself... but I didn't fall in love with it the way many did. I am from a half-generation before the FF7 crowd... I fell in love with the Final Fantasy series on the 3rd American installation (that's FF6J for all you fanboys out there) and, to this day, consider it atop the list of greatest games of all time. No, FF7 was for my younger-brother's generation (though not for Guntir specifically, since he also loves FF3 above all else, having grown up with me playing it religiously). Guntir would, likely, not have known of FF3's existence until AFTER playing FF7, which would have left him in that generation.

No, for me... FF9 takes the cake. It wasn't as dark, it wasn't as down, it wasn't as steam-punk-esque (though it did have SOME steam-punk qualities which I enjoyed... airships, duh)... there were no characters with guns for hands, the quality of the English was hand-over-fist-better... the list goes on and on.

I put the first disc into the console and instantly my world was changed; my hands steadied, my back stopped hurting, my eye dilated, my ears perked up and my eyes, which are horrible at seeing (hilarious prank played by either cruel fate or some omnipotent entity who happens to fancy himself an asshole), instantly focused. That song which had haunted my youthful days had again returned after a many-year hiatus. To put it into perspective... I haven't played a Final Fantasy since before my girlfriend and I started dating NINE years ago, this May 4th.

How fortuitous... nine years since I played Final Fantasy's ninth installment. I will be playing some WoW this week for arena points, but I will be focused on FF9... there will be more to come, this I can promise. In closing, I will leave you with one of my favorite songs of all time.