Monday, August 3, 2015

New Recipes

The new recipes I tried last week are stuffed mushrooms, pizza and glazed carrots.

Stuffed mushrooms are basically cutting off mushroom stems. I think I did it wrong; whenever Mom did it, she had empty caps. I couldn't figure out how to cut the part of the stem that's in the cap. Anyway, chop the stems a lot and mix them with bacon, salt, pepper, flour, whipping cream and shredded cheese. The recipe has a lot of complicated individual steps; you need to switch your microwave back and forth between 100% and 70% four times. It ended up tasting great! The only problem was the bacon. Apparently, you're supposed to cut the bacon into little pieces, not just throw a full slice of bacon over the mushrooms.

The glazed carrots were okay; the hardest part was figuring out how to cut carrots into strips. I still don't know how to do that. I just gave up, and cut it into circle pieces. So much easier to chop. The glaze is 3 tablespoons brown sugar, with two tablespoons butter and one tablespoon water. You can add small amounts of salt and cinnamon, if you want. Once you make the glaze, coat the carrots with it. I imagine professional chefs do fancy coating. I just threw the carrots into the glaze bowl and said, "There, they're covered." The glaze was good, but there was definitely way more glaze than carrot. Next time, I'll have to use more than four carrots.

I made the pizza from scratch, and it didn't go so well. The dough, the sauce and the meat all have to be cooked separately, at basically the exact same time, so I was expecting Katie to help. She was busy talking to her dad, though, so I got to have the fun of cooking with ingredients I've never heard of before. The dough was the hardest part. The recipe says you cover the table with flour, then put the dough on top of the table...and knead flour into it. This doesn't make sense to me. If your goal is to get flour into the dough, why is the first step "throw flour everywhere except the dough"? Katie says I kneaded the dough wrong, which is possible, because I don't know how to knead. All I did was smush everything together, like play-do. I know that professional pizza people spin the dough and throw it in the air, but I am not foolish enough to try that on my first try.

The dough didn't rise after I cooked it, which is how I know something went wrong. Dough is supposed to rise, right? I added yeast, and I think that's the magic ingredient that makes dough rise. When I cooked the pizza, though, the sauce rose. I...I don't understand. The dough stayed the same height, but the sauce and cheese thing ballooned an inch. So it ended up being deep-dish pizza. It wasn't bad, and it was an interesting difference to have pizza which is heavy on the garlic. Still, a two-hour pizza is too much effort to do normally, especially since it requires some specialty ingredients I don't usually have. So I probably won't cook it again, except for a fancy occasion.

This week, I'm going to try re-cooking recipes. That is, I'll try the stuffed mushrooms again, maybe the glazed carrots, and the yam casserole. This time, I'll make slight differences, like making mashed yams first, and doing stuffed mushrooms with chopped bacon and no green peppers. If everything turns out well, I'll add these recipes to my official recipe book.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Star Trek 1

Katie and I watched the first Star Trek movie together. It is, to be frank, an awful movie. I had to check on the Internet afterwards to confirm what I suspected, while watching the movie.

#1. It was originally supposed to be an hour-long TV episode. They stretch out the story into two hours, through overuse of slow motion and scenery porn. At multiple points, it spends at least five minutes, showing off the outside of a spaceship.

#2. The special effects were not finished. The studio ended up firing that department and replacing them with whoever could get it done, by the release date. They "finished" with less than 24 hours to spare.

As for the story, it was okay. Some fans complain that it's too similar to one of the earlier episodes, but it didn't bother me. They were different enough, to be considered separate stories. The ending was the best part. The worst part is probably our heroes trying to contact the aliens, which takes way too long, and contains a LOT of reaction shots. It was kind of like DragonBall Z, where you see how every single character individually reacts to every single development. In some cases, they react multiple times.

I think they could have stretched out the movie, with more focus on character introductions. Like, there are seven "main" cast members. Give each one of them a scene, where they come back! That takes more time than introducing Sulu, Uhura and Chekov all together.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Marathon

Here are links to every playlist in my big summer marathon.

Game 1: Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch
Game 2: Grim Facade: Sinister Obsession
Game 3: Samantha Swift and the Mystery from Atlantis
Game 4: Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies
Game 5: Spirits of Mystery: The Dark Minotaur

Game 6: Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death
Game 7: Blackwell Unbound
Game 8: Love and Death: Bitten
Game 9: Dracula: Love Kills
Game 10: Spirit Soup: The Queensbury Curse

Game 11: Dark Tales: Edgar Allen Poe's Red Masque of Red Death
Game 12: Spirit Walkers
Game 13: Fire Emblem Chapter 2
Game 14: Tales of Terror
Game 15: Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride

Game 16: Miles Edgeworth: Prosecutor's Path - Bachelor Party Special
Game 17: Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (Demo)
Game 18: Nevertales The Beauty Within
Game 19: Samantha Swift and the Fountains of Fate
Game 20: Midnight Mysteries 3: Mark Twain

Game 21: Sable Maze: Forbidden Garden
Game 21: Haunted Legends: Bronze Horseman
Game 23: Mystery of the Ancients: Curse of the Black Water
Game 24: Haunted Legends: The Queen of Spades
Game 25: Nick Chase and the Deadly Diamond

Game 26: Royal Trouble
Game 27: Witch Hunters: Stolen Beauty
Game 28: Campfire Legends: The Hookman
Game 29: Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel
Game 30: Redemption Cemetery: Grave Testimony

Game 31: Otherworld: Spring of Shadows
Game 32: Dark Parables: Queen of Sands
Game 33: Otherworld: Omens of Summer
Game 34: Age of Enigma: Secret of the 6th Ghost
Game 35: Enigma Agency: The Case of Shadows

Game 36: Dark Parables: Rise of the Snow Queen
Game 37: Dark Dimensions: City of Fog
Game 38: Reveries: Soul Collector
Game 39: Fiction Fixers Adventures in Wonderland
Game 40: Grim Facade: Wealth of Betrayal

Game 41: Nancy Drew: Model Mysteries DS
Game 42: Dark Parables: The Exiled Prince
Game 43: Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box
Game 44: Azada: In Libro
Game 45: Tiger Eye: The Sacrifice

Game 46: Dark Parables: Red Riding Hood Sisters
Game 47: Mystery of the Ancients 2
Game 48: Unfinished Tales: Illicit Love
Game 49: Engimatis: The Mists of Ravenwood
Game 50: Drawn: Trail of Shadows

Game 51: NightFall: An Edgar Allen Poe Mystery
Game 52: Sable Maze: Sullivan River
Game 53: Grim Facade: Artist and the Pretender
Game 54: Ominous Objects: Family Portrait
Game 55: Grim Tales: The Vengeance

Friday, July 31, 2015

Nancy Drew Hardy Boys Ghostwriters

Here's an interesting article which came out recently, about the ghostwriters for Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. Can you believe the writers of the 1980's series got $2000 up front and $2000 afterwards? That was 30 years ago, and it's STILL a great paycheck!

Sadly, they don't accept manuscripts from authors the way they used to! Now, they contact writers directly, if they're interested in having someone ghostwrite a book. I'll be honest; I was interested in applying to be a Nancy Drew ghostwriter. Maybe I could build a time machine and apply during the 1990's?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dragon Ball Super Episode 2

I watched Episode 2 of Dragon Ball Super yesterday. Like the first episode, it's mainly filler. Nothing important happens, at all. Like, half of the episode is "Vegeta is forced to go on a family vacation, and he doesn't like it".

We saw more of the villain, the dog creature known as Beerus. I guess he's supposed to be intimidating, but he strikes me as mainly weird. The show hasn't really explained who he is or where he comes from. All we've seen is Beerus do is kill innocent aliens and eat food. Most of the time, he acts bored. Occasionally, he acts uppity. I'm not sure where they're going with this enemy.

Apparently, this series is based on a 2013 movie. Which is cool, I guess. They're basically retelling the movie, except now they have 10 hours to get through everything, instead of an hour and fifteen minutes. So...every episode of the show is like three minutes of the movie?

I dunno. I never saw the movie. Maybe the movie explains who this Beerus guy is, and what's going on. It'd be pretty lame if it turns out you can't enjoy the TV series, without seeing the movie first.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Her Interactive Archives

In related news, doing a Google search gave me some super-fancy archives from Her Interactive. They have a ton of production information, for a ton of games! It includes a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that gamers wouldn't normally see. I would love to go through this archive, but alas, it is in Rochester, New York.

I must resist the urge to jump on Interlibrary Loan and have them send over EVERYTHING THEY POSSIBLY CAN BECAUSE I WANT TO READ IT NOW!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Land Before Time 7: Stone of Cold Fire

I only saw the first six Land Before Time movies, as a kid. All the movies from here on out are movies I've never seen before.

Stone of Cold Fire is a bit of an odd duck. The animation is different, and it kept bothering me that the characters didn't look the same as the other movies. Ducky changed sizes a few times, Cera lost some detail, and was Littlefoot always that color? There were also a few moments with blurriness and pixelation, too, which looked bad.

I'm guessing they switched to computer animation, because the movie also contained a few neat 3D animation effects. Mostly, the scenery spun around Pterano as he talked.

The story is that Littlefoot sees a comet land, while everyone else is sleeping. Everyone gets up in arms about this "stone of cold fire", because it might have magical powers. That's what a pair of mysterious Rainbow Face dinosaurs say, at least.

Enter Petrie's uncle, Pterano. He's a villain, who tried to declare himself king a few years ago. He wasn't a very good king; he tried to lead some dinosaurs to safety, but they all got eaten. Pterano was exiled after accidentally killing half the herd. Now he's back, and he thinks the stone's magical powers will make him a better king. He lies and even kidnaps someone, to get his hands on the stone.

Halfway through the movie, it is decided that Pterano isn't evil; he's just misguided. Kidnapping? Manipulation? Leading people to their deaths? Nah, those aren't indicative of his character. Deep down, he's just a nice guy, with minor delusions of grandeur. There's even a musical number about his delusions of grandeur. I thought that was odd.

Most of the movie is spent, trying to reach the stone of cold fire. Turns out it isn't magical at all. It's just a crashed meteor. Pterano is exiled a second time, although his sentence is lessened because he helps save the kids.

As for those Rainbow Face dinosaurs? They secretly follow Littlefoot the whole time, and help him a bit. The end of the movie reveals that they are ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET. They go away, and Littlefoot keeps their secret. It was incredibly unexpected and weird.

Monday, July 27, 2015

To Be Or Not To Be...Murdered! - Book Review

During my honeymoon, I read a lot of books. One of them is To Be Or Not To Be...Murdered!. I bought this book, because it was described to me as "Catholic Nancy Drew".

The book is narrated by a girl named Peyton Simons. She has a boyfriend, and their relationship has gone sour, ever since he lost out on a scholarship. She wants to break up with him, and start dating the super-hot guy from her theater group. The romance plot takes up most of the book.

Someone at the school commits suicide, by hanging themselves. Peyton is the one who finds the corpse. The book takes the death very seriously, compared to Nancy Drew, who regularly finds corpses and shrugs it off. Peyton is very disturbed by the death, and things get even worse when there is a copycat suicide.

The third suicide? The hot guy from Peyton's theater group. She goes into mystery-solving mode at this point, because she knows he wouldn't commit suicide. Sure enough, she discovers that the suicides are really murders, and she stops the murderer.

Peyton is taking confirmation classes, which is where most of the Catholic stuff occurs. I'm surprised that a priest runs those classes by himself; every place I've been to, they have someone besides the priest teach.

Overall, it's an okay book. I was expecting it to have a lot more mystery elements, when in reality, the first half of the book is mostly romance. That's not bad; it's just not what I expected. The mystery was well done, in my opinion. People say that, with a good mystery, you can go back and see all the clues that you missed the first time around. That certainly happened for me with this book. I gave it four out of five stars on Amazon.

On a not-so-good note, this book definitely needs an editor. I saw multiple sentences with incorrect grammar. But the main editing issue is the spacing. Some paragraphs start with a tab, some have two tabs, some have three. There seems to be no reason or consistency to how large the start-of-paragraph tab is. I read the book on my iPhone, so it was extremely noticeable when a paragraph started with a huge tab, one so big that only two words fit on that line.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer Marathon

Right now, I'm working on the last three weeks of the big summer marathon. The games that I've recorded are marked with asterisks.

Monday August 10
Dark Parables: Red Riding Hood Sisters
Game 42: Unfinished Tales: Illicit Love*
Game 43: Azada: In Libro*
Book of Legends
Game 45: Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians*

Mon Aug 17
Dark Parables: The Exiled Prince
Drawn: Trail of Shadows*
Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box*
Sable Maze: Sullivan River*
Tiger Eye: The Sacrifice

Aug 24
Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull
Ominous Objects: Family Portrait
Grim Facade: Artist and the Pretender
Grim Tales: The Vengeance
Engimatis 2

This makes nine games, for me to record. Book of Legends has proven to be impossible to record, on Windows 7. I might have to replace it with something else. I was hoping to do the Dark Parables games with Mary, but if I can't get to those in time, I'll rearrange this schedule.

Right now, the biggest time waster is uploading the videos, since my Internet is slow (an upload speed of 1.25 MB per second). Each walkthrough is about 7 to 10 GB, so...it takes multiple days to upload a walkthrough. This week, it took four days to upload all of Unfinished Tales, and two days to upload Azada. As I'm typing this, I'm uploading Mystery of the Ancients. I think I'll just have to leave my computer on and running all night long, to get it done in under three days.

The worst case scenario is that I won't be able to upload the videos in time. If that happens, the marathon will be a little shorter than original planned. I'm working three weeks ahead, so hopefully that won't be the case.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yam Casserole

I'm trying out recipes from the Sharp Carousel Convection Microwave cookbook. I have, like, dozens of recipes from this book on my to-cook list. The book is just that awesome.

Yam casserole was pretty good, even if I totally messed it up. The recipe wants you to bake the sweet potatoes in the microwave, for 8-10 minutes. Then you peel and slice them.

Peeling the potatoes took FOREVER. I could barely hold the potatoes because they were so hot. And the insides were mushy, because they just got cooked. Are there, like, cooking gloves that you can wear to protect your fingers?

The recipe then has you add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup margarine and 1/2 tsp of salt to the potatoes. Then you mash them. I did this with a hand-held masher thing, and that did not end up well. Next time, I'll do that in the food processor or the mixing bowl. (Both of those were wedding presents!) Or, I'll just make mashed yams the normal way, where you peel them BEFORE cooking them. Seems good either way.

On top of the mashed yams, you add a can of crushed pineapple. I made a mistake in not draining the pineapple juice first; that made the end result way too watery. Still! The pineapple was unexpectedly delicious! Microwave the pineapple-on-mashed-yams for 2 minutes.

Finally, you make a topping. Mix a teaspoon of water, with a tablespoon of brown sugar, a tablespoon of margarine, a half teaspoon of cinnamon and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg. You microwave the topping for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Add a cup and a half of marshmallows to the topping, then coat the topping over the casserole. Microwave it for 2-4 minutes. Top it with pecans if you want. (We didn't.)

Mary decided she hates cinnamon, so she refused to eat ANY of the meal, besides the pineapple. (Sad chef face.)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sea of Darkness Speedrun - Update

Q: When are you posting your speedrun for Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness?

A: I will return to speedrunning, when summer is over. All the stuff I recorded is obsolete, since I found a faster way to earn money. So I had to delete my recordings. I'll start over from the beginning again, when the big summer marathon is over, and I have free time again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Father Barron

So here's something interesting! I talked about Father Robert Barron two days ago. Yesterday, Pope Francis picked Fr. Barron to be one of three new Bishops for Los Angeles! Congratulations to Fr. Barron!

It's probably a coincidence I was talking about him, right before his promotion. Pope Francis isn't a follower of this blog.

This brings Los Angeles to a total of eight Bishops, not including the retired ones. Los Angeles must be a pretty big place to have eight Bishops.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner

One comment on my blog post yesterday was this:

Caitlyn Jenner, you mean. She wants to be called Caitlyn, and showing tolerance to her would be respecting her wishes (even if you don't agree with her lifestyle.)

I meant no offense; I merely called her "Bruce", since I was summarizing an article which did so.

I have a question, though. How far back do you go, when referring to Caitlyn Jenner? I'm asking, because this came up in a Nancy Drew book review I did in February, long before Jenner's sex change operation. Specifically, I made the joke at Bruce Jenner writes Nancy Drew books, since multiple Nancy Drew books refer to the 1976 Olympics.

Do I have to redo my review and change that line to Caitlyn Jenner? Or is it okay to keep the reference to Bruce Jenner, since we're talking about things done long before his sex change operation? I don't want to offend anyone.

EDIT: I originally wrote something here about my wife Katie. I thought it was relevant, because she's also a Cate/Kate making a name change right now. People thought it was a backhanded insult, so I'm deleting it at their request.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Love and Tolerance

While I was on my honeymoon, Fr. Robert Barron wrote a nice philosophical piece on love and tolerance.

People either don't know, or have forgotten, that Catholics don't believe love is an emotion or feeling. We believe that love is an act of the will, a decision, a desire. To love someone means that you want what is good for them. Hatred is the opposite; to hate someone means you want what is bad for them.

When you criticize someone, it can either be an act of love or an act of hatred. If I tell a family member to stop using drugs and clean up their life, that is an act of love, because I want what is best for them. When John the Baptist criticized Herod for marrying his brother's wife, that was an act of love, because he was trying to get Herod to convert and live a life free of sinful immorality.

This is an important thing to note. In a lot of debates today, people assume criticism is the same thing as hatred. And they tend to use "you hate [x]" as an excuse to dismiss or ignore you; sometimes, people go further and attempt to censor you. At least, that's what happened when Fr. Barron talked about Bruce Jenner. He disagreed with Bruce's ideas, on how the soul interacts with the body; people responded by saying Fr. Barron is a horrible person who hates transgender people.

Fr. Barron also talks about "tolerance", which used to mean "willingness to put up with something that you disagree with". Today, people think it means "acceptance and celebration of something else". I wonder how the definition changed so radically.