Category Archives: Life is Strange

Celebrating Beauty: Max Comforts Kate

These last 2 months have been rough.

In February, I started my first job in over 3 years. I’m glad I’m working again, but it can be hard.

Last week, I decided to end a relationship with a friend after I came to the conclusion that communication had broken down and such a relationship was now doing me more harm than good. In short: Briefly, I became the kind of person I promised myself I would never be, and that cost me someone dear. I pray for her, wishing her the best. But I came to the conclusion that it is better for me if she not have such a prominent place in my life anymore.

My deadline for deciding whether or not to continue my college education is drawing near.

There has been at least one bright spot, though: I finished my first screenplay.

It’s a short film about how a young woman’s choice to go naked effects her search for meaning in her life after she returns home upon dropping out of college.

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The reason I say all of this is:

I am bringing back Celebrating Beauty.

Celebrating Beauty was a series of posts I wrote in December — I tried to write one every day — celebrating the beauty in the world.

I was sick of, and depressed by, the 24-hour news cycle of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, rapes, and murders, and wanted to do what I could to shine some light into the darkness.

After the rough time I’ve had lately, I’ve realized that I need beauty in my life now more than ever.

There won’t be any limit on Celebrating Beauty now — I won’t be doing it just for one month.

The first entry in the new Celebrating Beauty series:

Max Caulfield comforting a depressed Kate Marsh in DONTNOD Entertainment’s Life is Strange:

Thank you to Wild Woman Sisterhood for the photo.

Boundless Challenge: Week #11

OriginalPhoenix, I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up with the Boundless Challenge.

Boundless

My last entry in the challenge was almost a month ago.

The point of the challenge is to write about how I “lived boundless” this week — to write about one example every week of me doing more than I thought I was capable of.

And, I really do hate to say it, but: Lately, my neighbor’s cat has been more boundless than me.

Since I used to have two dogs — they died after living long, happy lives — my neighbor’s calico cat — that hangs out around my house because I give her food — has, for the longest time, resisted actually coming into the house. She must still be able to smell the dogs. But, over the weeks she’s made progress.

Yesterday she jumped on my couch and stayed there for 10 minutes before running to the door and meow-ing to be let out.

The light is bad, but here she is:

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I call her “Kiki,”  thanks to Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).

Why?

Because: Instead of delivering bread, Kiki the calico delivers “Aww!” Whenever I see her, I can’t help but go “Aww!” She always makes me do this:

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To get back on subject:

This week, I do have something to be Boundless about:

I finished the screenplay for my short film.

There will, undeniably, be more edits as I show it to people more knowledgeable about screenwriting than I. But, I’ve hit a wall: I feel like I’ve done everything for this screenplay that I, with my current knowledge of writing, can do. Hence why I consider it “finished.”

Have you ever felt like that? You write, and write, and write, and you get to a point where you look at what you’ve written and think I’ve done everything I can.

For weeks, my life has been relatively unexciting.

Just been trying to get more used to my job stocking shelves, since it’s the first job I’ve had in over 3 years. (School, family obligations, and soul-searching kept me busy during that time.)

When I’m not working, I’ve been listening to the Life is Strange soundtrack while I try and think of more ideas for screenplays…

…and spending time with my best friend. We hang out more frequently now, which I’m glad for. In my quest for awesomeness, I don’t want to neglect relationships.

What else has happened recently?

Well, thanks to Wild Woman Sisterhood

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…and some editing, I found a picture that captures what my short film is about:

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Regarding my short film:

I’ll write more on that later…

Thank you to TheOriginalPhoenix for inspiring me to get back to doing the Boundless Challenge.

Her fiery, phoenix-y awesomeness is just what I needed today.

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Everything Great About “Life is Strange”

Contains spoilers for Life is Strange.

Everything great about Life is Strange (in no particular order):

A Protagonist Who Isn’t Ellen Page

Ellen Page accuses ‘The Last of Us’ developers of ‘ripping off’ her likeness

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The Last of Us (2014)
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Beyond: Two Souls (2013)

I have nothing against Ellen Page. I think she’s a good actress.

But: She seems to be the go-to woman when making movie-esque video games.

Which is why: I’m glad Life is Strange is blazing its own trail by — as far as I know — having a protagonist not based on a real person.

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Max Caulfield

Choices That Matter

Whenever I heard this…

…a chill went down my spine. Even when (I thought) I’d made the most compassionate choice possible. I didn’t know how my choice could come back to haunt me. But it just might! Anything was possible when I saw that butterfly.

Not every action has consequences…

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…but the ones that do caused existential panic.

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Thank you, Life is Strange, for making me ask myself What am I doing with my life?

The Setting

Living on the west coast, the fictional town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, made me see my home in a new light, and appreciate it more.

As someone who is currently itching to put home in their rearview mirror and go out into the wide world…

…it did me good to realize that there is more to my home than I had previously thought.

On a related note: Against the Cult of Travel, or What Everyone Gets Wrong About the Hobbit

Lately, just sitting back and listening to the Life is Strange soundtrack reminds me that, currently, I’m exactly where I need to be.

That’s another thing that’s great about Life is Strange: The chances the game gives Max — and, thus, you — to just stop, sit, and think.

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Complexity

There is a lot of grey in Life is Strange.

Choices that I thought were right, and made with the best of intentions, came back to haunt me.

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Choices that I didn’t think much of at the time had consequences I didn’t imagine.

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And characters who, at first glance, I thought I had all figured out, revealed sides to themselves that made me go “Wait. What?”

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I believe in good and evil.

But good and evil isn’t always as easy to tell apart as black and white. And I’m glad that Life is Strange acknowledges that reality.

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Love

I’m glad that Max’s and Chloe’s relationship isn’t romantic.

Unless you allow it to be:

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The reason I say that is: There is no shortage of stories about romantic love between two people. The first story that comes to mind is Titanic (1997).

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And so I’m glad Life is Strange‘s story can revolve around a platonic — i.e., non-sexual –relationship between two people: Former best friends Max and Chloe.

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Because: I feel like not a lot of love stories do that — explore love from a non-sexual perspective.

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Tough Love

Near the end of Chapter 3, Chloe and Max get into a fight after a revelation about Chloe’s missing friend Rachel Amber.

I’m glad Life is Strange gave me the option to tell Chloe “Grow up. You’re not the only one with problems.”

This is why: I’ve run across a lot of people saying Chloe isn’t a good person. And such a view is justified. For example: Chloe asks Max to steal money from a fund for handicapped students so that she can pay off a debt to a drug dealer.

But the reason actions like that ultimately don’t bother me is: I don’t have to stand for it.

I can put my foot down and basically say “Chloe, you’re out of control.” Whether or not Chloe will listen to me is another matter. But at least I can make it crystal clear where I stand on her life choices.

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Max’s Nightmare

Max’s nightmare in Chapter 5 is one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen.

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Part of me is too scared to play through it again. At night, at least.

But another part of me wants to play it again purely for the sake of playing the Stranger Things theme as I navigate the endless hallway:

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This Scene

The Soundtrack

The more I listen to it, the more the Life is Strange soundtrack becomes one of my favorites.

For example:

Twists And Turns

“Predictable” is not the word I would to describe Life is Strange.

It’s the kind of story that made me think I’ve been playing for almost 4 hours, but this chapter isn’t going to finish itself!

It’s one of the few series I’ve binge-watched/played. (The others are: Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Eureka Seven.)

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And lastly:

The Ending

Chloe’s realization at the end of Chapter 5 is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen.

0:00 — 3:26:

It’s one of the reasons that I don’t believe the world needs more “Christian movies”…

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…the world just needs more goodness, truth, and beauty. No matter where that goodness, truth, and beauty comes from.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
~Philippians 4:8

Update

Life has been strange this week.

And it’s not just because I’ve been playing Life is Strange.

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I’ve continued to make progress on a screenplay I’m writing. I’m hoping that, one day, it will become an animated short film.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that college, for the time being, is out of reach.

This week, acknowledging my limitations has been a big deal for me. Now that I know more about what I can do, I feel I’m more capable of knowing what I want to do.

More and more, I’m learning that I can’t please everyone — that I can’t do everything my family wants me to do. I know they only want what’s best for me. And, I will always be grateful for their love and support. But: When all is said and done, I have to do what makes me happy — not what makes anyone else, even my family, happy.

On another note: One thing I struggle with is pride.

So, I prayed: “God, give me more opportunities to be humble.”

And He did…

Word of advice: Be careful what you ask God for.

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I didn’t make use of all the opportunities to be as humble as I would have liked to be…

To put it another way: This week, I was all three of these people:

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Dumb and Dumber (1994)

In more ways than one, I devolved into the kind of person I hate.

I know this is all vague.

It makes me uncomfortable to talk about subjects like my struggle with pride. I don’t believe it’s because of  pride. Subjects like pride are just touchy. They make me do this:

Which is ironic.

Because: If you follow this blog, chances are you know that I’m all about being “emotionally naked” — being open and honest about one’s thoughts and feelings.

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And yet, here I am, building a wall for myself…

To end this post on a positive note:

Life is Strange: Chloe, Euthanasia, and Seeing All Ends

In Chapter 4 of Life is Strange, “Dark Room,” you are faced with a choice:

Euthanize, or refuse to euthanize, your best friend Chloe, who is dying from an injury that has left her paralyzed.

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I know that Chloe’s intent isn’t malicious. Her parents are up to their eyes in debt paying her medical bills, only a miracle will cure her, and she’s slowly dying. And here you come, her best friend Max, back in her life after 5 years apart. You spend the day with Chloe and, despite everything that has happened to the both of you, it’s like no time has passed at all. And with that in mind — filled with memories of the happiest 24 hours of her life — Chloe wants to make the only choice that, because of her condition, she alone is capable of making: The choice to die.

All Chloe wants is to be at peace. And she believes death is the means to that end.

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I looked up the Catholic Church’s teaching on euthanasia, to make the best choice that I could:

…an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.
~Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2277

A part of me hated reading those words.

All I wanted was to make Chloe happy. To show her that I was everything she wanted me to be.

I’m convinced the only reason I didn’t cry during this scene is because I was dehydrated — I’m better now: got a glass of water next to me as I write this — and I turned the volume down so that I wouldn’t hear how Chloe took my refusal to grant her request. I had subtitles on though.

I couldn’t kill Chloe.

Even though she hates me now, I thought, someday, somewhere, she’ll understand.

I thought that because: This wasn’t Chloe’s end. There was a miracle that could save her: Max’s time travel powers.

And that realization got me thinking about God…

God, like Max with her knowledge of alternate realities thanks to her powers, knows more than we do. Like Chloe, we say “This is the only way,” and God, like Max, sits in a chair at our bedside, wanting us to know that there is another way:

“I am going to help you, but not like that. You have to believe me, Chloe.”

This scene taught me about trust.

This scene reminded me that I don’t have all the answers. And it’s because of that, that there are times where I need to do what Chloe refused to do and put myself in the hands of one who only wants me to be happy, trusting that they see what I cannot.

Chloe’s desire for peace reminds me of one of Kate Marsh’s favorite Bible verses. Kate being another friend of Max’s who wanted to die. It’s this verse that finally convinced her to not jump:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
~Matthew 11:28

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On a humorous note:

After I refused to euthanize Chloe, I realized I was glad to refuse her for another reason:

What if the police charged Chloe’s parents, or Max, with her death?

After all: There is no evidence to prove that Chloe died because she wanted to.

All I could think of was Ron’s words to Brick:

“Lay low for awhile because you’re probably wanted for murder.”

Life Is Strange, And Time Travel Is Weird

So… I just beat Chapter 5 of Life is Strange.

And I feel like I took all the drugs.

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Note to self: Never play Chapter 5 for the first time after you just wake up.

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Time running backwards.

I knew what I was seeing was just a part of the game, but a part of me wondered if I was still asleep and dreaming.

As I hid from Mr. Jefferson(s) in what I’m now calling “The Hell Maze” — I’ve officially heard “Gotcha!” enough for one lifetime — I honestly didn’t know what to think.

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I’m not sick, but I’m not well…

Is Max dreaming?

Is her sardonic comment from earlier in the chapter true and she really is in Hell?

I know Max says that what she went through was a nightmare, but it sure didn’t seem like it.

It’s like Max fell into the Fly of Despair.

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If I ever want to experience what it’s like to get high, sorry Walter White, you won’t make a customer out of me.

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Why?

Because: I’ll just play Life is Strange again.

Even though a part of me doesn’t want to.

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What’s worse:

I almost made the choice to sacrifice Chloe.

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I don’t know what to call that spiteful version of myself, so I’m just going to call her “Earl.”

As I talked to Earl, I realized that — gasp — actions have consequences!

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I wondered if it was right to cause so many people to die just to save the life of one person.

And Chloe was no saint, either.

But, I justified myself by remembering Luke 15:4:

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?”

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The “lost sheep.”

And, after feeling like I went through Hell, I also just wanted to do to Arcadia Bay what I wish I could do to The Hell Maze, and destroy it.

That place put me through the wringer, and a part of me was happy to return the favor.

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Revenge is a dish best served cold.

I’ll write more about Life is Strange later.

For now, I need to de-stress by watching dog videos.

Thoughts On The Reality Of Evil

Throughout the movie, Louise is subject to visions of Hannah at various stages of maturation ranging from infant to adolescent. Her memories begin as innocent moments playing with her in the back yard or having a chat at the lake but then they take a turn when Hannah develops cancer, gets sick, and eventually dies. All of these wonderful moments she has with her daughter develop Louise’s rationale for deciding to have her at the end of the film. But why? Why bring Hannah into existence knowing full well that she will become the victim of natural evil (i.e. cancer) and suffer and die at a young age?

…there are certain virtues that display themselves only as a specific response to evil; for example, the soldier that jumps on a grenade or the father who drowns in a flood to save his children. While the soldier and father’s death is tragic and a product of the evil that exists, their sacrifice would not exist were it not for the presence of evil acts. In other words, a world with no evil contains less virtue than a world with evil.

…the world He created, from beginning to end, is designed to show us the immeasurable glory that flourishes in the midst of pain and suffering, to show us what true love can do in the face of evil…
~How ‘Arrival’ Affirms a Christian Worldview

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Reading these words last night, I was reminded of Illuvatar’s (God’s) words to the Ainur (angels) after Melkor’s (The Devil’s) failed rebellion in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion:

…no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

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Having recently re-played episode 1 of Life is Strange that week, I found myself thinking, too, of Syd Matter’s “Obstacles”:

Let’s say sunshine for everyone
But as far as I can remember
We’ve been migratory animals
Living under changing weather

Someday we will foresee obstacles
Through the blizzard, through the blizzard
Today we will sell our uniform
Live together, live together

What do this movie (Arrival), this book (The Silmarillion), and this song (“Obstacles”) have in common?

1) An awareness that our world is not as it should be — for example: an awareness that there is something profoundly wrong with a person dying so young — and 2) A hope that suffering is not in vain.

According to my Catholic faith:

We lived in a world where there was “sunshine for everyone” (Eden).

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But, as a result of Adam’s and Eve’s sin…

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…as far as we can remember we’ve been “migratory animals living under changing weather.” We’ve been cast out of Eden, and have been trying to find our way back ever since.

There will come a day where we will “foresee obstacles through the blizzard” — we will see what it is that prevents us from being our best self — a day where we will cast off our shackles — “sell our uniform” — and “live together.” There will come a day where we will be reunited with the one we love, able to face life with a kind of knowledge that we did not have before. To me, that state of being sounds like Heaven.

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On a related note:

6:02 — 9:11:

My point with posting that video is:

Christopher Hitchens recognized that all is not as it should be — that our world is broken, and must be set right.

He recognized that it’s not enough to throw up one’s hands and say “Nothing really matters!”

He recognized that something did matter.

He recognized that injustice, like filth, needs to be washed away.

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Spirited Away (2001)