Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1

Having been through a play through of Life is Strange prequel, I have some thoughts and theories about the game. The game does highlight Chloe’s feeling of abandonment and loneliness after two of her most important and beloved people, William and Max, left her life. With William dead and Max relocated to Seattle, Chloe is acting out in response and covering up her troubling insecurity and emotions with her rebelliousness. Once Rachel Amber enters her life, her life begins to have a180 degree turn.

On the subject of Rachel, she appears to a charming young woman with have it all, looks, success, intelligence, and popularity. However, as players found out at the end of episode 1, there’s more to Rachel than meets the eye. When Rachel and Chloe were burning Rachel’s photo near a tree, Rachel’s scream triggered a strong wind that fanned the flames. The resulting flames became a whole forest fire, a foreboding sign. The resulting wind might imply that Rachel possessed supernatural powers. It is also be interpreted that Rachel is the storm in the main game Life is Strange. The fact that Rachel plays Tempest’s Prospera, a sorceress with wind power also supports this interpretation. For more elaboration, there are a few possibilities if Rachel is the storm. As Rachel died aware of Jefferson and Nathan’s plans due to her angry expression in the picture, the resulting storm after her death could be her curse or revenge on Arcadia Bay due to her dreams being destroyed. In fact, a deleted line from Life is Strange episode 5 had nightmare Rachel speaking to Max about now she can never reach her dreams now that she is dead. Another possibility of her being the storm would be the vision of the storm is a message to Max and the catalyst for Max’s powers in order to guide and reunite Max and Chloe to find out the truth about  her death and other women by Nathan and Jefferson. Her doe spirit leading Max and Chloe to her buried body  and guiding Max to the beacon of lighthouse is evident of this possibility.

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Also at the end of the montage in episode 1, we see a mysterious woman in a white dress smiling at the forest fire. This woman had reoccurring appearances throughout episode 1, setting her up for a major character in future episodes. She also seems to take the role of the an antagonist. We see her kissing Rachel’s father and in the short transition waiting under the tree when Rachel and Chloe were just arriving at the park. When this mistress was smiling at the forest fire, she was also sitting relatively close to it, meaning she could have seen Rachel and Chloe starting it. Does this woman knows much more about Rachel than Rachel about her? What if she was involved in Rachel’s murder ? Or she is going to blackmail Rachel and Chloe in the future based on her observation of the two starting the forest fire?

Interestingly, animal symbolism makes a return in the form of a raven / crow. The crow appears throughout the game in reality and in Chloe’s dreams. It can represent Chloe and Rachel for different reasons. The crow is said to be a messenger to mortals and the intermediary between life and death. This is evident the when the crow appears in Chloe’s dream of William giving her advice about Chloe and Rachel’s quarrel. It is as if William’s spirit is directly communicating Chloe from death and the crow is enabling the interaction. In addition, the crow also represents power of prophetic insight, in which a picture of 18 year old Max hanging from a tree and appearance of Rachel under a tree and Rachel spontaneously bursting into flames are evident in Chloe’s nightmare. Eventually, Chloe and Rachel reconcile under a tree before they burned Rachel’s photo and accidentally started forest fire. The crow represents both Chloe and Rachel for their train of fearlessness and bold nature. For Rachel, the crow also symbolizes her trickster and manipulative nature. As Chloe stated Rachel seems to like playing games and lying. For Rachel’s charming nature, she gives off a manipulative vibe, given that she goaded Chloe into stealing a bottle of wine. Also, the crow raises a question on if it also foreshadows an omen, likely Rachel’s death and ensuing storm 6 months later?

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Overall, the game is on the right track. There is a definite connection between the main game and this prequel in terms of vibe, character, and consistency of elements and themes. It will be interesting to see how much Rachel impacted Chloe to be the person she is now in main Life is Strange game and possibly give more insight on the explanation of the Max’s powers and the unnatural phenomena occurring the game.

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Santouka Ramen and Matcha Love

When trying the famous ramen shop Santouka popped up, I didn’t hesitate to try it as well as eating matcha ice green and shakes. I was also curious about green tea with fresh Japanese cherries flavor so I also bought that.

Santouka Ramen

I got the shio ramen, which consisted of white tonkotsu soup and red pickled plum on top, giving it a feminine touch. The rice bowl was full of frog eggs and chicken pieces, which balanced nicely with white rice. The white soup was very delicious to consume on its own after finishing all the toppings and the noodles. For the second round, I had the spicy ramen. The spice gave the soup and flavor a kick but it was mild enough that those who can’t handle spice could enjoy it. Compared to instant ramen, nothing could compare to the authentic ramen from Santouka since you can taste the toppings and noodles without being overpowered by sodium.

Matcha Love

For someone who drinks tea on a regular basis, the review would have some bias. Nevertheless, the matcha ice cream and shakes should be tried out for those who never had matcha flavored desserts. The items weren’t too bitter nor too sweet.

Green Tea with Japanese Cherries

When the box was opened, the tea leaves inside the pyramid bags had a pleasant strong cherry scented green tea aroma. The brewed tea had a hint of cherry flavor with the fresh taste of green tea. Cherry flavor items can be difficult to create since many companies input artificial cherry flavoring, which can led to the item taste like cherry cough medicine.

Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu)

There was a dragon boat festival and I couldn’t pass the opportunity to not experience the festivities for the first time. As with a lot of holidays and traditions, there are stories behind them. According to the story, the holiday is to commemorate the scholar Qu Yuan who lived in the State of Chu. Just when the Qin State was planning to take over Chu, Qu Yuan advised on the military forces to protect Chu though his plans were opposed and he was exiled as a result. When the Chu was conquered by Qin, Qu Yuan committed suicide in the Miluo River. His suicide provoked mourners sailing the river to look for him, which the event led to the tradition of dragon boat racing. Nowadays, the dragon boat races consist of competitive teams rowing in dragon boats to the beating drums to reach the finish line.

In addition to racing, there were cultural shows and other activities such as making zongzi and kite flying.

Dragon Boat Racing

Although I didn’t get to participate in the racing myself, it was a cool sight. There were a lot of tents for the racing teams. The drummer drums in order to maintain morale of the whole team. A range of ages participated including a team consisted of only children.

Kite Flying

Historical Chinese Fashion (Hanfu and Qipao)

To be honest, the traditional Chinese fashion labeled from the Han and Tang dynasties according to the announcer were suited for cosplay instead of being fitted for authentic recreation from those time periods. The construction were not historically accurate and the materials for the Han dynasty were cheap. The hanfu labeled from the Tang was gorgeous regardless.

This would be hanfu from the Han dynasty. The bixi (cloth panel attached from the belt) is worn with a semi formal hanfu that is used for cultural events or meetings.

High waisted and chest high skirts became more popular in the Tang dynasty. The hanfu with the parallel collar has a pleated skirt instead of an outer layer at the sides.

Southeast Asian Fashion Show

It was very interesting to see the different cultural clothing from southeast Asia since compared to the east asian nations, it is rare to see some representation for southeast Asian nations.

Dance Performances

Moana joined for the Polynesian dances. Two songs from Moana were performed. Several children even got the opportunity to be on stage and joined the fun.

Vendors

Food was nothing special. There were some interesting activities such as making zongzi, dish traditionally consumed during the holiday, though majority of the activities seems to be aimed for children.

Dotting of the Eye Ceremony

Objective is to give the dragon life and pay homage for the festival.

 

United Airlines: “If we cannot beat our competitors, we beat our customers”

For the past week, United Airlines has generated negative publicity regarding its treatment of a customer by forcibly removing him from the plane after the man (Dr. David Dao) has boarded due to “overbooking”. While customers have been booted off from their paid seats before as it is a common occurrence, none has resulted in an incident that has the whole world in shock and anger.

It was reported that the plane was at capacity since the only reason the United wanted to remove four passengers to make room for several of their staff. For a lawyer’s perspective, point one makes it clear that the law permitting the plane to allow passengers to deny boarding in event of oversell isn’t applicable as United  should have deny passengers from boarding beforehand instead of kicking people off the plane after they were seated and that the plane was NOT oversold.

The second point makes it clear that United violated a law since the failed to give priority to people with reserved confirmed seats. Even United employees and other carrier employees could be denied seating if they don’t have confirmed seating.

With the third point, the CEO, Oscar Munoz claimed that the Dao was belligerent and that did gave United the right to remove him from the plane. From the video, it would have been an acceptable reason except for the fact that the police initiated the violence and belligerence.

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To rub salt on the wound, the CEO’s initial apology avoided responsibility and ownership of the problem with words apologizing for “re-accomodating” the passenger even though Dao came out with concussion, a broken nose and lost two front teeth. As a result, United’s reputation plummeted even further. If the CEO apologized about the incident with full ownership of the problem and offer corrective actions, then the uproar would have been mitigated. It wasn’t until the consequences of stock dropping $950 million are dire enough to warrant a serious response from the CEO.

Additionally, a lot of dirt was dug up on Dr. Dao on his past concerning drugs and sex with patients to discredit him and justify their treatment of the man. While his past is less than clean and unsavory, his past is irrelevant to the situation at hand. Even if it was known beforehand about his past on the flight, it should still NOT be acceptable to bash his head and dragged him off like a rag doll. Furthermore, even if the doctor has engaged in some dark actions in the past, it doesn’t mean he is still the same man in the present.

Not only the news caused outrage in the USA, but also the incident made headlines around the world, especially in China. Many social media Chinese users raged upon hearing the news because they perceived racism factoring in the incident. Many claimed that his race was a factor on how he was treated on the plane due to common perceptions of the stereotype that Asians are meek and won’t fight back. While there is no concrete evidence supporting the racism angle, it is a possibility but is a speculative idea due to difficulty in proving subconscious thoughts and bias. Regardless, United will suffer heavy loss of revenues due to relying on Asian routes since many Chinese will boycott the carrier because of this incident.

The whole United fiasco is a lesson on effects of increasingly global world and access of information that can  impact public relations of a company in a significant way. It could be possible that United would be mentioned in future business textbooks.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Recently, the anticipated remake of a Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast has been released in the theaters. Like many others, I jumped for the chance to see how the remake captures the execution of one of most beloved Disney animated film in history. I did enjoy the film and would watch it again. Though I am biased, I did note there were some improvements the film should have addressed.

Positives

  1. Plot holes fixed – The curse time limit of the rose blossoming until the prince’s 21st birthday and references to how they have been under the curse for 10 years were deleted. As this would have implied that the prince was cursed when he was 11 years old, this raises the unfortunate implications of the whole situation considering not many 11 year olds would have the authority nor the maturity to handle that type of situation. In fact, it was confirmed that the prince was an adult when he was cursed in the remake so the problem was alleviated. Another plot hole present in the original film was the question of why none of the townspeople were aware of a giant royal castle in the forest nor wondering why the prince and his staff were suddenly gone. This was explained by the enchantress’s curse causing everyone to forget about the castle and its residents.
  2. Prologue – The prologue explained more of the prince’s character on how he was before the curse. It was said and shown he revels beauty and decadence so much that he taxed the people to host extravagant parties and afford beautiful objects. This shows him to be very concerned with outer appearances and wasteful. His masquerade ball with elegantly clad guests and his garish makeup supports the notion of his superficial vain nature. When the witch arrived at the ball, not only he denies her sacred hospitality but also she was in his eyes ruining his perfect ball by being her ugly self in the castle according to the novelization. In addition, his garish appearance at the beginning contrast his human appearance at the end where he is much more natural and pleasant looking to match his changed character.
  3. Gaston and Lefou – They both stole the show. Luke Evans as Gaston has a great singing voice. Though not as baritone as Richard White’s voice, his voice conveyed emotions and the character of Gaston well, especially during the Mob song. Josh Gad as Lefou adds some one liners that gave me a laugh as well as adding depth and development to the character. The reveal of the sexuality adds another layer of motivation on why Lefou fawns over Gaston so much.
  4. Proactive Belle – Belle is modified to be a more proactive character in the film. She is less soft than her animated counterpart. Instead of sneakily sending Gaston out her door, she directly tells him she won’t marry him. In her assigned bedroom, she constructed a rope to execute her plan of escaping the beast’s castle instead of crying on the bed. Additionally, she takes a more active role in saving the beast when she wrestles Gaston’s gun to prevent him from hurting the beast.
  5. Maurice Character Expansion – The father in the movie is much more competent than his animated counterpart. His ability to judge other people’s characters is more effective than in the animated version in which he suggested Belle socialize with Gaston since he is a “handsome fellow”. In the live action version, he protects Belle by refusing his daughter’s hand of marriage to Gaston once he saw Gaston’s true colors. Furthermore, he was knocked off his trail by a supernatural cause than by his own stupidity in insisting in turning on the dark and foreboding trail instead of the sunny cheery trail that his horse wanted to go.
  6. Enchantress Involvement – Although the enchantress’s morality is still questionable considering she cursed Chip, Cadenza, and Madame Garderobe when they couldn’t have been responsible for the prince’s upbringing as the latter two were visitors invited to the debutante ball, it was nice to see the Enchantress keeping tabs on her curse on the royal subjects. Her action in saving Maurice from being eaten by wolves and lifting the curse after it was too late for Belle to break suggests she wasn’t as malicious in the original and realizes she was wrong.
  7. Lefou Redemption – Lefou in the original was a mindless hero worshipping who thought Gaston could do no wrong. In the live action, he still puts Gaston on a pedestal but with the added angle that he was legitimately attracted to Gaston also. Over the course in the movie, Lefou began to question his friend’s actions, which the process was jumpstarted by Gaston leaving Maurice to die in the woods. He also was given some snarky one liners such as “This is the family you wanted to marry into?” that gave me a laugh. At the end, he realizes Gaston was the real monster all along and does not care about him in the same way he did but instead view him as a disposable pawn. This epiphany causes him to switch sides and led him to save Mrs. Potts.
  8. Visual – The film is gorgeous from a visual standpoint. The Be Our Guest sequence was a sight to see, the town looks so idyllic and cute, and the ballroom scene was stunning. Those scenes alone make me want to see the whole scenes in person if that would be possible, maybe several years later, we would get the virtual reality and sensory stimulation treatment for films.

Negatives

  1. Emma Watson’s Acting and Singing – I wasn’t impressive by her vocal abilities in the film. Considering the original was a musical, it should be logical to require the lead actress to a singing background. There were parts in the film in which her voice was auto-tuned and robotic, which was disappointing. I wished they would have casted a broadway actress who was involved in singing musicals onstage. Emma’s acting in some scenes were lackluster when it was expected to show more emotions and character.
  2. Book Plot Hole – If the book is a portal that transports the person into another location in an instant, why doesn’t Belle uses that book to quickly teleport to the town in order to save Maurice? Of course, if she did that, it might look like she was using magic and might be accused of being witch, which wouldn’t be a good idea in a provincial town in rural 18th century France. Anther instant she could’ve used the book would be to quickly travel to the beast’s castle to warn the beast about the upcoming mob. It would’ve saved a lot of headache and the beast’s heartache and motivation in stopping the mob.
  3. Enchantress’s Amnesia Spell – The amnesia spell that occurs after the curse was set on the beast in order to fix the plot hole that the town doesn’t know anything about the royal castle and its inhabitants despite close proximity raises more questions on how would any girl be able to stumble upon the castle in order to break the spell? It doesn’t look like the town gets a lot of visitors from other places. Does the enchantress intended the savior to be from outside the town since the town is just as superficial as the beast before he was turned?
  4. Beast’s Name – I wished they gave the prince / beast a name since it was jarring to hear Belle calling the beast “Beast!” in the original at the Gaston vs Beast scene. Did the beast ever requested Belle to call him by his name? Or did he requested her to address him as the master or just beast since he felt he was no long human? The jury is still out on the question of the beast’s name. In the live action, it did look like his father appears to be Louis XIV.

In all, I do like this film and appreciate the add ons that attempted to fix on the animated film’s flaws. If one hasn’t seen the animated film, I would say one would very much like it. Without being compared to the animated film, I think the live action version is strong enough to stand on its own.