Category Archives: Music I Like

My Top 10 Final Fantasy Songs

I am trying to compile my top 10 Final Fantasy songs to be shared with a bunch of people who has never listened to video games music before.

This is going to be a long night.

UPDATED (version 3):

Ok, after about 5 hours of going back and forth and sieving through more than 40 albums, these are my final 10 picks:

1. To Zanarkand ~ this is the first piece of music that you hear when you play Final Fantasy X and Tidus ending his monologue with “…this is my story,”. Final Fantasy X is special in many ways – awesome graphics, complex yet engaging storyline, great combat and gameplay. This song becomes especially significant when a very shocking revelation was uncovered in Act III of the game i.e. that Tidus himself is an Aeon (guardian force), summoned in the dreams of the remaining summoners of Zanarkand to end their 1,000 years’ sleep by breaking the cycle of destruction and devastation on Spira once and for all.

2. Endless Sorrow ~ I am particularly drawn to the music of Final Fantasy IX because the soundtrack is diverse and contradictory – some songs are whimsical and joyful, and then there are songs like Endless Sorrow that evokes sadness and nostalgia. This was Nobuo Uematsu’s last score for the series and I was pleasantly surprised when in interviews he said that due to the fantasy nature of Final Fantasy IX, he wrote the score so that “a serious piece as well as silly, fun pieces could fit in.” This piece was played when Princess Garnet returned to (a destroyed) Alexandria to become its Queen, in the cutscenes for other characters in the game right before the (hilarious) love letter scene between Beatrix and Steiner took place.

3. Battle on the Big Bridge ~ this is the theme song for Gilgamesh, a recurring character in Final Fantasy series. He made his debut in Final Fantasy V as a bad guy; in other Final Fantasy games he is a harmless, pun-spewing sword collector who steals other people’s sword in his search for Excalibur. He is a scene-stealer and gets the best lines. This frenetic, crazy piece describes him perfectly. Square Enix should make a standalone game about him already.

4. Rose of May ~ If you have the chance to play Final Fantasy IX, you will come across a non-playable, badass character called General Beatrix who is known as the best swordsman in the continent. Now, why do I choose this song? Because it is so contradictory to her outward character that is seen as merciless and arrogant (her nickname is “the cold-blooded woman that silences even the crying infant”). This song reveals the true Beatrice: soft-spoken, respectable, fiercely loyal and ever-ready to die for her country and queen. But try to push her over and she will slice you with her blade. I love her.

5. Town Theme ~ I can’t even remember which game featured this song. But when I heard it performed in a doowop style at the Voices concert a few years ago, I unexpectedly started humming along and could not get it out of my head until I went online and looked it up. This was from Final Fantasy II and played every time your characters enter a town. Do you know what’s great about Final Fantasy II? It was when chocobos (big, giant chicken that you can ride) were introduced! Which takes me to the next song…

6. Chocobo Theme ~ This was a cover by Moonbow using the version played in Final Fantasy III. Chocobos are hard to tame and its side quests are always so ridiculously hard to complete. But riding a chocobo is an awesome possum experience (though it doesn’t always run in the direction where you want it to go). Kinda like the music which is jumpy and all over the place.

7. Dewdrops at Dawn ~ this is, hands down, the saddest piece of music in the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack. It is played after the game is over and the end-credits are paused midway to play a cutscene of dawn breaking and sunlight slowly piercing through the dark clouds. This piece is so good that you would have gotten that imagery in your head without me explaining it to you. Why the saddest? The name of the main character of the game is Noctis, which is Latin for “of the Night”. When dawn breaks… night ends. The last frame of the cutscene shows four camping chairs facing the Crown City of Insomnia. Just slays.

8. Vamo’ Alla Flamenco ~ the third song from Final Fantasy IX that made my list. I selected an acoustic guitar version by Daisuke Minamizawa because I think he perfectly captures the silly exaggeration and exuberance of a swordfight between two bumbling theatre actors. Best lagu ni. Makes me tap my feet. I can’t play the guitar like this :(

9. Somnus (Sleep) ~ the truth is Yoko Shimamura did a terrific job writing the score for Final Fantasy XV. Somnus is actually the first piece that she wrote ten years ago when it was still known as Versus XIII so I have been listening to this for 10 long years before the game was finally released. The lyric was written in Japanese (and then translated into Latin for its vocals) by Nomura Tetsuya who (originally) conceptualised the game before passing the helm to Tabata Hajime in order to focus on the remake of Final Fantasy VII. This is my favourite piece in the game, and most probably in the whole series.I loved it when I first heard it, loved it even more as I played the game and came to realize what Noctis has to do when he ascends as King. To me it speaks of indescribable love, sacrifice, bravery, loyalty and, most importantly, about upholding the trust and responsibility that is entrusted to you even if it is at the cost of your own life. Walk tall, my friends.

10. Main theme ~ the song that starts it all. This version was released to celebrate Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary. The one song that ties and binds them all. So much feels.

Can you tell how much I love the series?

p/s: there are many songs that I left out of the top 10 such as Aerith’s Theme and One Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII, Dalmasca Estersand from Final Fantasy XII and Why from Crisis Core and so on. These, to me, are very specific to the game (and scene) that it is featured in. So it loses impact particularly on those who have never played a single Final Fantasy game.

For this list, I wanted to showcase the diverse musical styles in video games music and their versatility. So I picked songs that are striking in terms of musical arrangement, and evocative and expressive in terms of feelings and imagery so that non-players could relate to them too.

And that, as they say, is that.

(To listen to all of them in the versions that I have selected, click the youtube playlist below.)

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Siti Britney Goes to London

This tiny little book is going on an aeroplane and heading to London! Get a copy now by tweeting @zarn_G, @opzaharin or @studioanaianai (RM20 + RM6 postage).

BeFunky Designlondoncalling

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31 Days (Nights) of Rain is here!

My debut with indie publisher Studio Anai-Anai is (finally) born!

The book is sold at RM20 per copy, please add RM6 for postage (Malaysia only).

To purchase, place your order with:

  • Whatsapp: 0193681917 (Zaini)
  • FB Messenger: Mohzan OP-Zaharin

Or visit Studio Anai-Anai’s booth at Kotakata @ Kota Buku at Parkson, Maju Junction this Saturday (26 March 2016).

You can also purchase limited copies of signed and numbered books (1-100) at RM30nett (including postage). For these, write directly to sitibritney@gmail.com. RM5 will be donated under your name to Cancer Research Malaysia for each book sold. Purchases of 10 books and above will make you eligible for tax exemption.

What are you waiting for, little darlings?

31 Days of Rain book cover

 

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Siti Britney’s Coming!

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You see the book with the umbrella on the cover? That’s Siti Britney’s maiden book under the indie label. It will be launched real soon. Sit tight!

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Excerpt from Conversations/Arguments: I Have to be Strong Because I Have No Other Choice

I Have to be Strong Because I Have No Other Choice
Kota Bharu, October 2014

(follow Siti Britney on facebook.com/sitibritneysayang)

Today I went to the launch of Rumah Sahabat, which is located in Kota Bharu, at the invitation of Malaysian Aids Council. It is a halfway home that provides shelter, support group and methadone therapy to former drug addicts who are HIV+.

I was greeted at the airport by a designated driver, let’s call him Abu.

Abu is a well-dressed, well-spoken guy who works as a peer counselor with Ministry of Health. His main role is to provide counselling and, I guess the best word to describe it is “pujukan”, to those who are HIV+ to start antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. He also volunteers at the centre that provides needle exchange to current addicts who are not ready to graduate to methadone therapy.

On the way to Rumah Sahabat he told me that he came back to Kota Bharu earlier this year. Prior to this he worked for 4 years with Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA) teaching Fardhu ‘Ain to Orang Asli children in Gua Musang.

“It is hard work, kak,” Abu explained. “I worked for 3 weeks without any leave, and then I get one week off.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“The location is very remote,” said Abu. “It takes about 2 hours by motorbike just to get out to the main road, and then it would be another hour to get to Kota Bharu.”

“So, after four years I took a job with Ministry of Health at its Health Education Division. But I could not get used to living in Kuala Lumpur, so after 3 months I came back to Kota Bharu.”

“Kuala Lumpur is hot,” he said with a chuckle.

After the launch ceremony was over, I decided to try to catch an earlier flight back to Subang so I turned down the invitation to join the delegation for a Kota Bharu food tour. So Abu, once again, became my designated driver.

I asked him about his education and how he ended up choosing a career as a peer counsellor.

“I went to a religious school,” Abu said, “Then I went to further my studies in Melaka.”

“I lived in my kampong my entire life that when I went off to college I became completely uncontrollable. I experienced an extreme form of cultural shock. That’s also the reason why I cannot live outside Kota Bharu for too long,” Abu explained.

Then he slowed the car and confided, “Kak, actually I am HIV+ too. I was diagnosed in 2007 but I refused to get any treatment because I could not believe it. I only started treatment in 2011, and now I am in a 2-year clinical study for a new combination of ARV.”

I asked him if it was his HIV+ status that made him decide to work as a peer counsellor.

“Not at first,” Abu said. “Working with JHEOA was the best option for me. I get to go to the hospital once a month, and then at the same time I get to do something useful with my life.”

“I love teaching. I did a lot of volunteer work during the one-week leave that I got every month,” Abu added.

“At first it was helping to distribute condoms to sexual workers. Then I volunteered at the needle exchange centre.

Drug addicts have it a lot harder than other high-risk groups. They don’t know how to tell if they are sick; on top of that they have to fight off the addiction. Almost always when a drug abuser discovers that he has HIV+, his CD4 count is very close to 200, which means it would progress to full-blown AIDS soon.

Sexual workers depend on being healthy in order to be able to continue getting customers. So they are the most aware; they will voluntarily get tested twice a year.

I, on the other hand, am in the promiscuous group,” Abu explained.

“Before you say anything,” he continued, “Let me just say it – padan muka saya. Serves me right, right?”

I laughed and said I did not intend to say that at all.

“We have different challenges and carry different burdens,” I said to Abu.

“You are given a second chance at life and are able to contribute back to the society in a meaningful way. Not all of us are given the opportunity, or come to self-awareness, to do so.”

“That is true,” Abu agreed.

“In fact, I knew I was putting myself at risk. I remember saying berani buat, berani tanggung when the people around me asked me to practice safe sex. So, when I discovered I was HIV+, I told myself, well Abu, you got what you deserve.”

“Acceptance took a long time,” he added.

“I waited 4 years before accepting that I need to look after myself and started my therapy. Not that I was blaming God or anything: I just simply could not believe I am HIV+ because I felt completely healthy. But 8 HIV+ tests couldn’t all be wrong, right?”

“How young are you?” I asked.

“I am 32 now. I discovered I was HIV+ when I was 25.”

“My parents still don’t know about this,” Abu said.

“They are nice people. I just haven’t found the right words to say.”

“Is it hard living with HIV?” I asked.

“Not at all,” he answered. “Of course I miss eating sushi and Bliss yogurt (we both laughed), but managing my condition is pretty easy. It is a lot about compliance to the ARV therapy and the usual stuff — eat healthily, exercise, sleep.

There is a lot of support group and the Government is doing a lot of work behind the scenes that regular people don’t see. What is hard, at least for me, is talking to these drug addicts and trying to convince them to take the medicine. Most of them don’t want to because they fear the medicine will interfere with their “enjoyment” of taking heroin. Being a HIV+ person gives me a better understanding of what these abusers go through, and I think I can reach out to them.

It is not easy to be a peer counselor. You need to have a very steady and strong heart and mind because 99% of the time you get defeated. But I have to be strong because I have no other choice.”

We hugged our goodbyes at the airport. I wished him well and told him to give me a call if he is ever in Kuala Lumpur again. I knew now what he meant when he said Kuala Lumpur is hot.

I don’t think I can do what Abu does. I am book-smart, I know how to make money but I don’t think I have the presence of mind or heart to be able to devote my life to saving other people’s lives.

Saya doakan Abu dipanjangkan umur dan dimurahkan rezeki dan diberi keberkatan supaya dia boleh membantu seberapa ramai yang mungkin mengatasi masalah ketagihan dadah dan mendapatkan rawatan yang sewajarnya, Inshaa Allah, amin.

END

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Maiden Book is on Its Way!

 

31 Days of Rain

 

This not the real cover, but that’s the title of my maiden book!

Received the Final Artwork (FA) today so I am spending the weekend proofreading this. It won’t be available til 2016, but that’s just two months (and change) away.

I am quite worried about the content because 31 Days of Rain (DoR) is written in a non-linear format so it is not going to be the kind of book that you read from page 1 til its last. Approaching it that way will make the book seems jumpy and disjointed. But, during the initial stage of writing I realized that I wanted the stories to evoke the different feelings you get at different stages of love. So I wrote one story per day, and each one reflects the way I feel on that particular day itself, depending on which man that crosses my mind.

These stories are meant to make you talk — you may hate or identify with them; much like how they affected Nemo that he wrote a commentary that corresponded with each one (which I cleverly named  “31 Nights of Rain”).

The stories borrow heavily from past experience, though I didn’t have the heart to name these men. Some of them deserves no name to begin with. Days set the scene; Nights provide a male point of view. Obviously I had a lot of anger when I wrote this. But I am a girl, I am allowed to be dramatic! You may disagree with Nemo, or you may disagree with me — but that is the whole point; we dissected these pieces based on our individual yardsticks and how we think we would act/react if we happen to be in the same situation.

 DoR will be a limited edition release, so keep watching this space for updates!

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Siti Britney Sayang

sitibritney-2

I am in the midst of writing 3 books simultaneously under the moniker Siti Britney.

It’s a long, slow process because I write with my mobile phone whenever the muse strikes me, mostly during taxi or train rides.

Look me up on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sitibritneysayang/

Here’s an excerpt, from *** MENCARI YAMAZAKI ***

What does Mr Pink Shirt do?

Well…he used to build airports. Not anymore. But his work takes him to and through a lot of airports.

He likes sending me photos of airports that he happens to be in and explaining to me the beauty in each one. The curvature of the roof, the way light and air flows through the structure, how the foot traffic is designed. Kansai airport is his favourite. I have been in love with it for twenty years, he told me.

He loves Towers – Tokyo, Twin, Eiffel. The first time we met, as he was leaving, he told me he was heading to Paris that night for a bespoke dinner at the Louvre. I replied, I hate you. The group laughed. I don’t know if they saw or realized that as we shook our hands good bye, he ruffled my messy hair like I was a child and said we should have dinner there someday. I am short, it’s not very hard to do that.

It would be 4 months after that first meeting before he sent me a text to say he only realized he was in a seafood restaurant in Subang when he passed by my office.

Did you send this text to me in error, sir? I replied, puzzled at the sudden appearance of the uninvited text. Because if this was intentional, then I am highly offended that you would talk about seafood restaurants and not invite me along for dinner.

He speaks several languages. He switches mid-sentence sometimes, the show-off. I know who he is, his legacy, the burden of the name that he carries. I don’t remember how I know, but I knew right from the beginning. It is intimidating, he said, now I am back in my kampong where I am judged not just by how well I do my job, but mostly by how well I carry my name. We don’t talk about it all that much. He is not comfortable and I don’t pry. Maybe you could write a book about it someday, he joked. Hah. Little did he know….

He wears colors. Orange, blue, pink, green, mustard. He is so skinny and fit he makes me sick (not really). One time as he kissed my cheeks goodbye and his scruffy 5-o’clock shadow scratched my face, I whispered, comel sangat. I have never seen him clean-shaven since.

He says I am naughty. Madam creative genius, he once called me from across the room. I don’t take photographs with old people, I told him when he tried to take my pic. Especially old people with iphone6s.

(He is not old. If we fill up a form, we tick the same box.)

I know he steals a look whenever we are in the same room. When I catch him, he doesn’t look away. He just breaks into a smile in the middle of whatever yarn he is spinning to whomever he is talking to.

He lightly touched my hand once as I sat across him at the dinner table. I was trying to catch the eye of the waiter to ask him to refill my glass. He lightly touched my hand to get my attention and then poured half of his drink into my empty glass and simply said, share. Then he stole the sous vide chicken from my plate.

Mama sends her love, he texted the night that I did not turn up for the waltz concert. Can I please arrange for tea, at least?

(Hell no).

He once offered, if you’ll allow me, I’ll speak to someone to make sure that no harm will come to you. I can have someone look out for you to make sure you will be alright.

(We were talking in the context of work).

No, I told him. I don’t need anyone to save me. If I sink, I sink.

The only thing he knows about me is that I like to eat chicken rice.

It’s not fair, he protested. You know so much about me.

That’s how it works, I told him. Everything you need to know about me, you have to learn. I will not tell you.

Wakarimashita, he replied. Understood.

We’re not in a relationship. We are not in any —-ship. We don’t talk, meet or text that often. Please. Lots of planes to catch and bills to pay. What we have is an understanding. When we are in public, we don’t even talk to each other. I mean, we do. But respectfully and sparingly. Listen, this is not antara dua darjat nonsense. The simple fact is, in our individual, official capacity, we are defined by the title on our business cards. That’s the kind of world that we operate in. I am fine with that.

But if this was a friendship, he’s putting in a lot of work to keep it alive while I giddily share his texts with friends and discuss challenges that we would throw him or things we’d like him to buy the next time he flies to Japan. I have only been speaking about him recently, but the truth is I have known him for a year.

I like him. Can you tell?

He is my Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013. Hard to find. But not impossible. Just elusive.

Di mana kan ku cari? I don’t know. But if Mr Pink Shirt exists, there must be more from the tribe.

In the meantime, I’ll worry about what to wear next week. Meet or hide, buying new clothes is always a very nice thing to do for myself. Duit banyak2 nak buat apa? Shopping la.

Don’t you agree?

…to be continued.

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