Back To Ocarinas!

I’m always weaving in and out of interests, and this I may have mentioned a multitude of times–here it is again! What’s I’m thinking is simply this: if I tend to rediscover information about something, or re-enter a phase where I’m wanting to learn something new, what do I do about it?
The opportunity to obtain tools necessary to build my own pottery wheel has arrived. In a local auction, held in approximately two hours, an old stone grinding wheel can be re-purposed to act as a flywheel for a kick wheel. Given the amount of momentum I could generate with this thing, I could whip up some pots like crazy!
The thing is, I’ve never done pottery, and I switched out my conversation about ocarinas to talk about pottery wheels. You’re wondering what happened. I know. I realized it myself a few years ago when I was in this same rotation of interests, but there’s a very strong connection to ocarinas and pottery. You’re probably wondering why I’m even typing this out.
Well, as it turns out, pottery is a multiple-thousand-year-old craft which allowed rainwater and food to be stored, and within which food could be cooked. This is a similar idea to modern cookware that’s made of stainless steel, except stainless steel doesn’t crack like pots do under similar thermal shock conditions. That’s because stainless steel is more malleable than fired pottery.

You: Okay, so what about cookware? What are you talking about? Your title says, “Back To Ocarinas!
Me: Slow down! Just a minute!

Music is also multiple thousands of years old, one of the oldest instruments known to man being the didgeridoo. Ocarinas and flutes rank a close second in terms of longevity throughout written and unwritten human history. Some of the oldest flutes are more than forty thousand years old, and these were made of eagle bones and mammoth ivory (in fragments, of course, but still ancient nonetheless!). It fits, then, that some of the oldest characteristics for humans happened to be music and the arts. Besides, pottery is still offered in art classes, so one cannot convince me otherwise!

You: You’re still talking about pottery and old flutes. Bones aren’t pottery.
Me: Yes, I’m aware of this. Sit down a minute, I’m getting to the connection here soon.

Pottery does not just involve pots, although it is safe to say that pots were the primary purpose behind pottery, thus the name. But people can make a great variety of other things out of clay on a wheel, and it just so happens that, when I was first learning about ocarinas and other things of that nature, one such potter by the name of Anita Feng was a known ocarina maker, but that was the only association between pottery and music that I could think of, being that she was the only example of throwing vessel flutes on her pottery wheel. Perhaps she was unique in the ocarina awareness storm that happened in the late aughts and early teens (2006-2017) as she was the only potter (that I knew, of course, but I’ve since learned MUCH more about it) who made ocarinas on a wheel. By the bye, it was my ignorance which fueled my thirst for knowledge.
It’s been occurring to me that pottery is one of those things which consistently keeps calling back to my interests. Sure, I like collecting other things, but ocarinas are the one thing I have not yet had the heart with which to part; and in fact, when it comes to my revolving interests, I keep stumbling upon pottery as something which almost permanently holds my interest on a consistent basis, and I’ve never had proper training in making clay anythings! I did, once upon a time, make ocarinas out of clay, but my capacity to fire them was limited by the fact that the local ceramic art store stopped letting people use their kilns for personal projects due to the increased instances of exploding and damaged pieces. So it was this incapacity to fire ocarinas in the first place which kept me from really diving in to this realm of interest, and my scaredy-cat nature which prevents me from learning how to build a propane kiln out of fire bricks (I’ve watched plenty of videos and tutorials, and I still can’t bring myself to make them for some reason. I know to use ceramic blanket if I’m using an old oil drum. I know to use fire mortar and to drill out a certain number of holes for oxygen supply for a propane kiln. I know how to dig out a hole, pile wood up into a miniature mountain and suspending pieces among the branches properly for an even smoke-fired look. Maybe it’s that ONE step that’s keeping me from actually doing what I want as opposed to what I need to do.)
Lack of financial power really kept the doors closed to my interests, and even more so now due to things which I’ve pretty much brought upon myself (debts, et cetera). On the other side of the coin, I’m always changing interests, and that might be keeping me from really pursuing something of this nature. Whatever it is, I know I’m interested in it NOW, and I would like to get a wheel made or given to me, since I cannot afford to purchase one–and maybe a kiln, too. Maybe I’m being picky about what I want, or maybe option paralysis has its iron grip around my well-being. Whatever it is, I’m feeling pretty strongly in favor of using a wheel to make ocarinas, just as a means for trial and error to see if I can produce some of the nicest-sounding ocarinas I’ve ever made. I understand Menaglio ocarinas tend to sound wonderful!
Do you have an interest in pottery or ocarinas? Or perhaps music in general? Maybe you’re a Zelda fan. Whatever it is you’re into, if you liked this post, share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter! If you want, I’ll even give you a link to use so you don’t have to go through the trouble of creating your own link: http://bitigee.com/27CK

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Let’s Talk About Nintendo and the Legend of Zelda

You wake up Christmas morning, and there it is– a golden aura of a box bigger than your head awaiting its wrapping, ever so perfectly taped into place, to be ripped to shreds within seconds. Within, something great. Something life-changing. Something almost magical. An electronic device, the newest to hit the shelves, with paddles and a firearm to be plugged in to their respective sockets for UP TO TWO PLAYERS! This sounds so great, right?

Oh, yes it most certainly was great. That year, my brother, sister, and myself unwrapped the Nintendo Entertainment System. A lot has happened since that year, where my brother and I played more often and with some friends to top each others’ scores in Excitebike, Paperboy, and Skate Or Die 2. Super Mario Bros.’ ubiquitous, albeit exclusively synonymous status, with Nintendo has withstood the test of time by continuing on in various side games to include tennis, MMA-style fighting with magic in Super Smash Bros, golf, and go-kart racing, and introducing a plethora of quests to rescue the princess from Koopa and Bowser, stomping Goombas with reckless abandon. Of course, this is one of several long-running series in the Nintendo name. Playstation has its own, but as I’ve never really played Playstation with as much ferocity and dedication as I have to Nintendo, we won’t really get into that. There are plenty of other places to speak about other consoles.

I must admit, I’ve played games for hours and hours on end within the course of a summer’s day and not regretted it. I’ve played with people, and without people, and I’ve sometimes had the urge to play with provided cheat codes with the Game Shark (I love the big heads you can get in Mission: Impossible). And I have played many games, each good within its own right, some with poor dialogue, some with excellent story lines, RPGs– and I have to tell you that my fandom regarding the Legend Of Zelda began with the Ocarina of Time.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking– that’s a bit late in the running to start being a very strongly-motivated fan for a game. No? Perhaps that’s because, when I graduated 8th grade, instead of a shirt I got a Nintendo 64. I’m sure it made me exponentially happier to have that than a car (because who really wants a car?) because of the amount of entertainment value it meant to me. I had this nice, 64-bit machine that could tolerate the abuses of hours-long pausing, and you could skateboard in a 3D environment, making endless tricks ramp up your scores, hitting glowing chevrons in the road for a speed boost while racing as a time clock, and swinging a sword at walking skeletons from any direction. This was a pinnacle of gaming for me, because it allowed me to experience maps in a way I’d never once had the opportunity to see. (I don’t fully know the history of when 3D maps became available, but for the sake of my own experience, it started in Nintendo 64). It introduced to me a new instrument that I’ve not exactly been able to drop entirely.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is probably my personal favorite on the N64 platform. I spent many hours trying to figure out puzzles galore, tossing the controller and losing my save point, not having enough hearts to complete a volley of energy spheres between my protagonist and the enemy. One of the most memorable things about this game is the ocarina. I can make another post about that in another blog post, but for now, I’ll try to concentrate on the game.

I can say with great confidence that I think playing the game in its entirety from the time you are awoken by a fairy to running your Master sword into the brain of your adversary is one of the greatest rewards for self-achievement in the gaming universe. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy making Link float around Hyrule and trespassing boundaries not intended for that point in the game on purpose, or throwing unlimited Bombchus at cuccos. I just know that playing it in its intended manner is gratifying. And thus, I can explain some of my favorite discussion points in the game, to include characters.

1. Obviously, Navi is your partner throughout the entire quest. Her incessant “Hey! Listen! Hello!” makes you kind of want to trap her in a bottle, but as a false sense of security, you wouldn’t want to mix her up with another popular fairy which revives you upon total loss of heart energy. In fact, the first thing she does is wake you up from a nap, and that’s never pleasant. What I actually like about her is that, for the absolute beginner, she does have a few helpful points which make up the basis of interaction with other characters in the rest of Hyrule. She also points out the locations of certain items based on her color. She turns green whenever it is necessary to play the Scarecrow song, Sun’s song or Song of Storms (well, that just connected the Song of Storms to Make it Rain, now didn’t it?) for a surprise when the staff will not appear. So, her intuition actually helps out a bit more than her screaming at you within the first 30 minutes of game play would have you initially believe.

2. Saria is Link’s best friend. For a long time, though she has not said a word to you about it before you depart the Kokiri forest, she had a feeling that you are different from the others and that you would be destined to leave the forest. Now, leave it to her to have a sweet spirit and an endearment toward you when Mido won’t. All the other Kokiri won’t really give too much ego about themselves, and their conversations are of minimal help anyways– although it is a crucial point that the Know-It-All brothers provide information to you when Saria or Navi won’t go in-depth about anything practical to anything other than the story line. As a Sage, her wisdom and her healing presence are with you in the medallion that you earn after the Forest Temple has been cleared.

But her real purpose is that she gives you an ocarina to sort of act as a cell phone of sorts. You dial her song, and she answers. Don’t play Saria’s Song right next to her because she will get you for charging her magic minutes (don’t text me when I’m in the same room, stupid). It creates the foundation for one of the most important aspects in the game– music. (Read the italicized text for more information not directly related to the game.)

[And here, the ocarina makes its debut as an instrument not just found in a game, but can actually be found in real life. There are several ocarina makers, one of whom makes an official replica ocarina for the budget-minded (there is also a ceramic version which I would really like to add to my collection), who actually makes these instruments for people to play. There were a couple of forums I used to frequent (Ocarinas United and The Ocarina Network) where awareness was spread around for those seeking to play these awesome little things.]

3. Kaepora Gaebora is an owl whose purpose appears to help you enlighten yourself about your strengths and courage, while not actually doing much more than providing some very insightful advice. He’ll fly you to Kakariko village, but that’s the extent of your personal contact with Kaepora. Although it would be pretty cool to have him fly you around Hyrule, you really don’t need him for that purpose, since the ocarina helps you transport to different areas anyways. There’s not much more to say, at least from me. You, reader, may not even give a hoot about it.

4. Zelda seems to not really be in too much distress, initially. You meet her spying on her father the King’s loyal subject (not) who obviously does not look like a typical Hylian or Gerudo. Or Zora. But I suppose she had this inkling that she would meet a green-clothed someone being dropped off in a cloud followed by a harmless speaking wasp, because she just so happens to be right there on the same day you break into the castle. Suddenly, someone she has never met before is now her confidante about extremely personal matters about which no one but Impa will hear. You somehow manage to survive a cutscene regarding the Goddesses creating Hyrule and the land’s law and inhabitants (not like when you nearly fell asleep in front of the Deku tree before he died).

Soon enough, you go to get the Spiritual stones which she requests from you. And she JUST so happens to be riding a horse in rapid pace and she tosses a blue thing into the moat. Shortly thereafter, you meet the lowest form of Ganondorf in all his dark-robed glory upon an equally dark and demented horse. He hits you with an energy sphere, knocks you on the grass, and basically sets the scene for a tough-to-beat enemy. The very grounds upon which you stand are now the entrance to what will be a ruined castle town in seven years’ time for the final battle. But, you still have to swim and pick up a sunken flute.

5. I actually like fighting against Koume and Kotake. You know for a fact that they’re dead by the presence of halos above their heads when floating away, and they seem to bicker a lot. It’s of interesting note that they’ll sit down and try to kill you with fire and ice repeatedly, since forgetting that their method getting backfired by a mirror shield shows that at least they’re realistically in the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Not that I support such a disease in the real world, but when a nemesis is obviously being suffered upon by something uncontrollable, no matter how many potions are made to the contrary, you sort of want to take advantage of that. I don’t know if it was in the game designers’ intention to include this feature, but that’s what I get out of it.

6. Roaming around Hyrule on a horse is quite awesome, but it never actually shows Link feeding those carrots to Epona. I’m just making an observation that if he really is feeding her carrots, then those are some carrots with a deafening crunch that scares her into running faster…

I like the speed at which you travel on horse with much appreciation, since rolling around in a field all day would cause some sore bones after a few miles (for me personally, probably once is enough– ever), with particular attention to the shield and sword hilt and quiver being on your back each and every time. Now I can’t say for sure if that would be a faster way to travel compared to jogging, but we will have to test this out on some paved roads and plenty of able-bodied volunteers… And perhaps the Myth Busters?

I don’t know about you guys, but Ocarina of Time was a turning point in gaming for me. The battles, the introductory cut scenes for the bosses (and the appearance of the bosses!), and multiple number of items you can access at any given point in the game were all great features. I’ve beaten the game at least 15 times since high school, and I never really get tired of playing it when I do go on a playing spree. Those of you who might have more points on your favorite points of the game, feel free to post your thoughts below. It was through this game also that I began to actually make (and sell) ocarinas on my own. Due to a lack of a kiln, however, I had to stop what I was doing. I’m thinking of accumulating some fire bricks over time to try again, using propane. I hope you enjoyed this post, and I apologize if I have an erratic style of writing. That’s my ADHD kicking in.