Memoirs of a Geisha

During the semester, I did not have as much time to read as I would have liked. I reread one of my favorite stories, Memoirs of a Geisha, recently and was reminded of why I enjoy this book.

The story is told from first person point-of-view from an older geisha. She begins the story when is a just a young girl in Japan during the Depression. Chiyo Sakamoto is a poor girl from a fishing village, but captures the attention of a man for her unusual eyes, which are a blue-gray color. She and her sister are taken from their home and Chiyo is sold to an okiya (house where geisha live) in a prominent area of Kyoto. The story is based on background information provided by retired geisha, Mineko Iwasaki, but Chiyo’s character is fictional. Without giving too much away, she becomes a maid before she begins her journey to being a geisha. Chiyo is in awe of the beauty of the geishas and the respect they are given, but the path is very difficult.

I enjoyed the novel because it read at a leisurely pace without being slow. In the beginning of the story, Chiyo is just a child. The narrative highlights her curiosities at that age and her emotions as she is taken from her home. It also reflects her maturity as she gets older and encounters different experiences. Reading the story made me feel like I was following Chiyo through her life. A good book will pull in its readers until they feel every emotion and that was my experience with this one. When there were moments of heartbreak, it hurt me to read of her tears and devastation. The story was very detailed, but well-balanced with dialogue. Many different characters are introduced throughout the story, but it was not confusing because there was a clear distinction between them. Each character had a strong impact on Chiyo and I could feel that through their descriptions.

Prior to reading this book, I had heard of geishas and only knew what they looked like. I did not know what they did, but there was a negative association between geishas and prostitutes. Geishas are traditional Japanese entertainers. They entertain men through song, dance, conversation and serve tea as hostesses. Young girls spent years training and perfecting their skills that would make them successful geishas. They went to schools that taught dance, musical instruments, and other skills. It was important for them to be successful because they were expected to repay their okiyas back for the money spent on their food, lodging, kimono, and other tools needed.

There is a great deal of effort and time that is required for being a geisha and not every woman can do this successfully. It is also important to note that some people would confuse geishas with prostitutes. The difference is that geisha’s wear their sash tied in the back, but the prostitutes tied theirs in the front. There are still some geishas practicing in Japan, but they are mostly in the company of the higher social class.

This book is controversial because Iwasaki sued Arthur Golden after the book’s release. According to her, he was supposed to keep her identity a secret and revealed parts of her life that were supposed to remain personal. She felt that he did not accurately portray her life and shamed the geisha profession. Iwasaki published her own book in 2002 titled, Geisha: A Life, to tell her story in her own words.

Whether the story is completely true or not, it is still a very good story that I can always come back to when I want something to read. This is also an award-winning movie.

Monster Hunter World PS4 Beta Ongoing

If you’re looking to take a quick breather from finals, how about taking some time to slay giant monsters?

Monster Hunter World is an upcoming action adventure game being developed by Capcom. It’s the next entry in a long-standing series about hunting down and defeating giant creatures which is now seeing its way to consoles – and is available to play now as a beta!

The Monster Hunter World beta is divided into three missions where you’re tasked with hunting down a monster of Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty alone or with friends. You’ll track and fight these creatures in ever-evolving boss battles across two stages from the full game – the Ancient Forest and Wildspire Wastes, pictured above. These stages also contain an Apex Predator monster, something you’d normally fight in its own mission which is instead just roaming the three missions available to be tackled as an optional boss.

None of these monsters are to be underestimated though – they’re fierce and unique, with styles of attack and characteristics unique to them that change the fight. An example is the above pictured Barroth, a monster with a rock-hard skull who coats itself in mud and muck as a sort of outer shell or armor.

You’ll be fighting these monsters using a plethora of tools and a wide array of weapon types to choose from, ranging from long-range options such as the Bow or Heavy Bowgun to more melee centered options such as the Longsword or Insect Glaive.

The beta is available to download on PS4 right now and the beta will last until 11AM Tuesday (12/12/17). Better get hunting!

Windows Mixed Reality (VR) Demos in Shreveport!

Looking to try out some new technology this holiday season? Here’s a suggestion – come get a demo from me of the new Windows Mixed Reality headset in Shreveport!

What? The Windows Mixed Reality headset is Microsoft’s own entry into the field of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. It’s been out since mid October and I’ve had the pleasure of demoing it for customers since! To go into detail here would detract from the demo but allow me to leave you with a slightly better idea of the system – Windows Mixed Reality is a VR headset designed to interact with your Windows 10 PC for a more accessible, more valuable VR experience.

Where? At the Best Buy at 7080 Youree Dr, Shreveport, LA 71105. That is unfortunately a full hour and a half from the Texas A&M campus so I’d suggest planning a day out in Shreveport with visiting the store at some point in mind – the demo’s about 7-10 minutes of time with the headset.

When? Here’s my schedule in store:

  • Wednesday: 5PM – 9PM
  • Thursday: 5PM – 9PM
  • Friday: 12PM – 9PM (Out for lunch between 4PM and 5PM, roughly)
  • Saturday: 11AM – 8PM (Out for lunch between 3PM and 4PM, roughly)
  • Sunday: 11AM – 8PM (Out for lunch between 3PM and 4PM, roughly)

This schedule continues until 8PM December 31st, at which point my job (as it is contracted) ends. There’s no word on if I’ll continue afterward or if it would be at the same store so you’ve got the next three weeks to decide if you’d like to stop by!

How? Easy – just come to the store and find me in the Windows department on the right hand side. I will be hanging around that area and I’ll be the only one in a Microsoft uniform – so feel free to flag me down!

Demos are first come first served – especially considering the drive to Shreveport from Texarkana (and I should know – I make that drive twice a day, four days a week!), I’d recommend earlier in the day and not later.

Of note, however, is that you’ll need to sign a waiver before putting this headset on and the powers that be use this to create an age restriction – Anyone under 13 cannot be demoed and anyone under 18 needs a Parent or Guardian signature in addition to their own.

That’s all you really need to know – anything other than that, I’d rather tell you in person. If you do stop by, I’ll be happy to run you through the demo – although as a favor to me, let me know you’re from Texarkana and saw this story when you stop by! I don’t post this expecting a large showing but it’d be pretty neat to know you’re a reader of the newsletter.

PlayStation Plus vs Xbox Live Gold December 2017

Xbox and PlayStation have been competitors since 2002. The evolution of the systems has come to modern-day online services so you can play against your friends. You not only pay a monthly fee to play online but you also receive a couple of monthly games for free. The question is:  which one is better?

This month on PlayStation:

PS4

  • Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition
  • Kung Fu Panda Showdown of Legendary Legends

PS3

  • Xblaze Lost: Memories
  • Syberia Collection

This month on Xbox:

Xbox One

  • Warhammer: End Times – Verminitide (December 1 – December 31)
  • Tales From the Borderlands (through December 15)
  • Back to the Future: The Game – 30th Anniversary Edition (December 16 – January 15)

Xbox 360 

  • Child of Eden (December 1 – December 15)
  • Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death (December 16 – December 31)

Both consoles offer great game but PlayStation only offers two. Another downfall is that once your PlayStation Plus subscription expires, you are no longer able to play the games you got free. Xbox allows you to keep and those games for as long as you want, even when your subscription expires. Xbox also has backward compatibility where you can play Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One.

When I first got my Xbox One, I was able to download Xbox 360 games I got for free with Gold years ago. As an owner of both consoles, Xbox Live Gold is overall the better buy.  If you buy a console this holiday season, you might want to keep these things in mind.

 

Need a Good Book?

Starting in 2015, I got back into reading and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My favorite genre of books to read are motivational/self-help books, because I’m always in the mood for good energy. I also enjoy memoirs/autobiographies, because reading about how someone else overcame hardships remind me that it’s possible for me to. So, I decided to share some of my favorite books for those that enjoy reading or want to start reading.

1. Year of YesShonda Rhimes
This book is one I’m sure I’ll read for a second time and I benefited from it tremendously. For years Rhimes turned down any and everything that was outside of her comfort zone as most of us do. Until one day her sister Deloris whispered six simple words, “you never say yes to anything.” At that moment Rhimes decided to challenge herself for one year to say YES to everything that scared her. With this challenge, she learned so much about herself and the things that scared her ended up producing her biggest accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, because that is when you are really living.

2. Write It Down, Make It Happen- Henriette Anne Klauser
This was actually the first book that sparked my obsession with motivational books and the one that I picked up in 2015 when I wanted to get back into reading. This book Klauser discusses how simply writing down your dreams is the first step into making them a reality. There are many stories in this book of how everyday people wrote down their goals and saw things transform into reality right before their eyes. Klauser stressed that by writing down your goals and being clear about them makes you more motivated to want to do them.

3. Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success- Steve Harvey
I don’t even know where to begin about this book. Mr. Harvey, he helps you to find what your calling is. Once you discover that purpose he mentions how to make your passion your career. There’s a few times when Harvey talks about his personal life and how difficult it was to come from nothing to making a huge name for himself. Success don’t come easy, but as long as you work hard, don’t give up, and believe in yourself anything and I mean anything is possible.

4. Jump- Steve Harvey
Yes, I’m mentioning another Steve Harvey book, because when it comes to motivating people he’s perfect. One day after a taping of Family Feud, a game show in which Steve Harvey host he had an encouraging message to the audience. Well, without knowing someone filmed it and uploaded it to the internet and before you know it the video went viral. That video is what prompted him to write this book. This book talks about how nothing extraordinary can come staying in your comfort zone. All the real magic and joy is on the other side. In order to really maximize your full potential and your purpose you have to take that leap of faith and JUMP. He says that when you first jump from that cliff your parachute isn’t going to open right away. In fact, you’re going to get bruised up, scraped by the rocks but eventually your parachute will open, but you can’t be afraid to take that risk. I highly recommend this book for anyone that has been day dreaming about a goal and need that extra push to get started.

5. Life is not an Accident- Jay Williams
Talk about depressing this amazing memoir inspired me in a way that I can never fully put into words. This three-time Duke All-American player and number two pick in the NBA draft ended his career due to a motorcycle accident. Jay Williams the former player for the Chicago Bulls thought he was invincible until one day that came to an end. This book shows how he hit rock bottom and was still able to rise above and change his life around. I think this book also teach a person to always stay humble no matter how much fame or money you have, because there’s always something in life that will remind you being a good person is key.

The Last Jedi – A Star Wars Recap

MAJOR Spoilers! (For the 1st 8 Star Wars movies)

I have been a huge fan of Star Wars since I was young. So young that I would sneak into my parent’s room grab the collector’s edition VHS tapes and watch them. The first time my dad found me watching it, he was not happy. Since then, it has become a tradition to binge watch all the episodes, usually when a new movie is about to release.

As the latest release of the Star Wars series is coming into view, fans are eager to have a few questions answered. Who are Rey’s Parents?  Who is Supreme Leader Snokes, and what is going on with Luke Skywalker?  All these questions will be answered in the second installment of the third wave, hopefully.

For those who are unaware, the second installment of the third wave is essentially the 8th episode in the series. In the past, George Lucas filmed movies four, five and six between 1977 and 1983. Several years go by and then movies one, two and three were made between 1999 and 2005. Ten years go by, and you had the seventh movie debut. Now we are approaching the eighth installment come December 15, 2017.  Wait, wasn’t there a Star Wars movie that came out in 2016? Yes, however in typical Star Wars fashion it is out-of-order and doesn’t directly tie into the main storyline. It’s best to think of it like Tokyo Drift in the Fast and Furious series. It doesn’t fit into the story when it is released, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get tied in later.

A recap of the episodes and the order best to watch them to avoid spoilers:

  • I: The Phantom Menace (1999) (32 BBY)
  • II: Attack of the Clones (2002) (22 BBY)
  • III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) (19 BBY)
  • Rogue One (2016) (15-0 BBY) Stand Alone Spin-Off
  • IV: A New Hope (1977) (0 BBY)
  • V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (3 ABY)
  • VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) (4 ABY)
  • VII: The Force Awakens (2015) (34 ABY)
  • VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) (34 ABY)
  • IX: Unknown (2019) (Unknown)

Solo (2018) (TBA-BBY) Stand Alone Spin-Off

[BBY- Before the Battle of Yavin; ABY- After the Battle of Yavin. The Battle of Yavin took place at the end of A New Hope (1977). It was the Death Star Explosion.

The Phantom Menace opened the door for Anakin to be trained as a Jedi. Anakin has grown up in Attack of the Clones and has become a skilled Jedi who defeats a clone army and later marries Padme. In Revenge of the Sith you watch Anakin turn into Darth Vader while his wife dies in childbirth to twins. In Rogue One they steal the Death Star Plans. In A New Hope they destroy the Death Star. The Empire Strikes Back by having Lando Betray Solo with the rest of the rebellion determined to rescue Solo. In the sixth movie, Return of the Jedi you learn that there is another death star and that Darth Vader had a redeeming moment. Finally moving into the recent installments with The Force Awakens you discover that the son of Leia and Solo has taken over his grandfather’s (Darth Vader) throne. The bad guys are building an even more destructive death star, and Kylo Ren does something unforgivable in the eyes of star wars fan and Chewbacca.  In the end, Rey finds Luke.  The Last Jedi picks up exactly where the last one left off which is not the typical George Lucas style. Without giving any spoilers the villain in this installment is called the Supreme Leader Snokes.

Somewhere in the 70-year timeline, the Solo movie will come into play as it reveals more about Lando, Chewbacca, and Han Solo’s history. Most fans will already know the correct order to watch the series, and will already be aware of the basic plots that go along with every installment. Few, however, know George Lucas kept the licensing and merchandising rights. During that time, people did not make much of a profit off of the merchandising rights. However, George Lucas did, and it was the rights to the first Star Wars film that allowed him to branch out and go on to create the following episodes.  From their George Lucas created LucasFilm and Industrial Light and Magic. As much as George Lucas enjoyed having realistic props, he also enjoyed using technology which was why he waited so long before producing the second wave of star wars films. He wanted access to more technology and thus started the Industrial Light and Magic studio which is the founder company of Pixar.

December 15, 2017, cannot get here fast enough for most fans, as they are eager to have another adventure. They are ready to fall back into the space western realm and have their questions answered.

Cinemark Launches Movie Club

In recent years movie theaters have been competing to have the better deal. Cinemark announced their new Movie Club to stay above the competition. The Movie Club will be $8.99 a month for one 2D ticket. At checkout, you can add an additional ticket for $8.99. If you want to cancel you can at any time through your account. Benefits continue through the end of your paid billing cycle. Unused credits are good for six months after cancellation. After you’ve used your monthly credits, you can buy two additional tickets per transaction for $8.99 each. Unused credits roll over and never expire when you’re a member. You can even use your roll over ticket as an additional ticket for your guest. Online fees will be waved on additional tickets. Redeem your credit online, in Cinemark’s app or at any box office. Credits are saved to your Cinemark account and are automatically applied at checkout. Also, concessions will be 20% off! This is an interesting trend that could change the way we see movies. So be sure to download the app and join!

Don’t forget to scan and earn points for every purchase to redeem for great rewards like movie swag, digital downloads, sweepstakes and more!

To find out movie information go to https://www.cinemark.com/movieclub