Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Phantom of Venice Speedrun 1

I recently played Phantom of Venice for the Foreign Nancy Drew games marathon.

Much to my surprise, my notes about the game include a speedrun route, which I made up after doing the 2014 Mega Marathon. I don't remember routing the game at all! My route is pretty broad, though. No real specifics.

It looks like the first thing you do in the game is talk with Colin. The game forces you into a conversation with him if you try to leave the building. It's one of those conversations where he says the same things, no matter which options you pick; he lectures you on tesserae and the fact that he's from Oxford.

I couldn't figure out the fastest way through the conversation, so I went through all the possible variations. It's faster to mention Margherita instead of tesserae, because that avoids a conversation where Nancy comments on Colin's job. It's also faster to talk about Oxford first, and I don't know why. I guess his transition from the Oxford topic to the tesserae topic is faster than his transition from the tesserae topic to the Oxford topic.

After that, Colin offers to show you his tesserae. If you say no, he throws a hissy fit, Nancy feels bad for him, and she offers to watch it. You're stuck looking at those things, no matter what. It's obviously faster to say yes, because that way, he starts the tesserae slideshow right away.

So the fastest way through the conversation is to pick the second option, second option, and the first option. It takes about a minute and 20 seconds, from the start of the conversation to the start of the tesserae slideshow. The longest version of the conversation is a minute and 34 seconds, so overall, you save 14 seconds.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse

There is a solar eclipse today. For the past month or so, Oregon has been warning its citizens that everything will go crazy during the eclipse. Over a million people are going to flood our state, stores will sell out all of their food, and gas stations will go dry. Power outages are likely.

I don't know how true that is, but I made sure to buy a week's worth of food in advance, rather than try to buy food during the Sunday-Tuesday time bloc. I figure the solar eclipse crowd will die down, after Tuesday.

The solar eclipse is going to be best in Salem, the state capital. Portland is about an hour north of Salem. I imagine that a ton of people will eclipse in Salem in the morning, then go up to Portland to do tourist stuff, in the afternoon/evening. Traffic will probably be awful that day, but the highway that directly connects Salem to Portland (I-5) is normally pretty awful, because the busiest part of the highway--the part that connects to the basketball stadium and downtown--is the part where the highway shrinks down to two lanes.

If I don't have a blog post tomorrow, that means the eclipsers got to me. (Just kidding. I wrote tomorrow's post ahead of time.)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Heavy News

There's been a lot of heavy, depressing news coming out recently. I've been struggling the past two weeks, trying to write about it. I don't want to turn this blog into a political blog, but I don't want to ignore important things either.

So I've been writing longer blogs on heavy stuff, then editing them or deleting them. Like I said, this has been going on for two weeks or so. I'm going to try something different! I'll just write short blurbs on the news topics.
  • There were numerous attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare. None of them came to pass. I think people hyper-inflated the drama surrounding this, considering the fact that whatever bill got passed would have to go through the Senate reconciliation process (and be entirely rewritten).
  • People are worried about a possible war with North Korea. I do not think this is going to happen.
  • Nazis got into a fight with Antifa in Charleston, and someone was murdered. That is awful, and the President's response to the situation was poor. The President's second response was good, and his third response went back to awful.
  • Youth and young adult suicide rates have risen. That is also awful.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said they are removing the abortion litmus test for 2018. That is, "person believes x, y and z on abortion" is no longer on the list of mandatory requirements, for someone to run as a Democratic Congressperson. I think this is a good decision on their part, and I applaud the Democrats for being more inclusive and tolerant of people with different opinions.
For basically all of these reports, people on the Internet had responses that were exaggerated, hateful, deliberately biased, and/or just plain wrong. That's the Internet for you.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


One of the What if questions I got was "What if George came out, or if it was ok to have "out" characters in the 1930s?".

1930's George isn't gay. She has a steady boyfriend, and she has the same feminine interests as Bess and Nancy. Her tomboy personality was invented decades later; she was originally more of a clumsy comedy relief character with a goofy name.

At some point, they turned into a tomboy who loves sports and dislikes dating men. They also changed her name from "George" to "Georgia", meaning that she now purposely chooses to go by a male name. I'm pretty sure this is the George people think of, if they think George is gay.

I think she's only had one romantic subplot in the game series, blushing when a guy compliments her in Shadow at the Water's Edge. In the current book series, her only romantic subplot was in Sabotage at Willow Woods (or whatever the book is called), when she identified a guy as someone she went on a blind date with, but it didn't work out. Neither she nor Bess dated anyone in the previous (2000's) series, although Bess occasionally had to flirt with a guy, to provide a distraction for Nancy. In the 1980's/1990's series, Bess and George dated regularly, although George dated far less often than Bess. I'm going from memory here, though, so I could be wrong.

I took the question to Twitter:

I got several responses from people who think she's bisexual or pansexual. Guess I should have had that as an option, instead of trans.

Friday, August 18, 2017

And Then There Were None - Speedrun Notes

I had to delete my speedrun of Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None due to a copyright strike. I still have my notes which detail the speedrun route, though! Might as well put them up here, in case anyone's interested.

Chapter 1. Skip opening scene.
Run down to dock.
Return to house and talk to Rogers.
Listen to game room convo.
Go to dining room. Get flashlight.
Enter kitchen.
Enter pantry and get necessary items from there.
Go upstairs. Talk to Mrs. Rogers. Two seconds faster to NOT help her.
Talk to everyone else upstairs. Circle them clockwise to save about five seconds.
Right to McKenzie and Emily.
Vera and Lombard.
Blore. Scene plays.
Listen through door for another scene.
The game requires you to get two letters of invitation at this point.
Go upstairs. Get silk sheets.
Get Wargrave's letter of invitation.
Go downstairs.
Get needles and Rogers letter of invitation.
Listen in at the door in the kitchen. A glitch skips the next scene.
Press Escape to skip the accusation scene.
Get doctor's bag from Dr. Armstrong's room upstairs.
Deliver bag to Dr. Armstrong. Walk up to him before giving the bag to skip slow animation.
Go to parlor. Take the record.
Talk to Dr. Armstrong, Marston and Rogers.
Talk to Vera and Lombard.
Talk to Emily Brent.
Marston chokes. Skip scene when I can.
Talk to everyone again. Only ask each person about the first thing.
Skip scene. Take glass. Go upstairs.
Check Armstrong in bed. Go left. Enter and exit Lombard's room. Left. Enter and exit Brent's room.
Go to dining room, skip scene.
Talk to everyone about first thing.

Chapter 3 starts.

Rogers convo. End as soon as possible.
Go to gameroom through the dining room. Doctor/Judge in gameroom. Talk to them, end the conversation as soon as possible.
Go to front door. Talk to Emily.
Rush to Blore/Lombard cliff path. Talk about a way off the island.
Blore/Lombard front steps. Skip as much of this convo as possible.
Blore/Lombard woodshed. Skip as much of this convo as possible.
Raid woodshed. Bucket, ladder and shovel. Read gas card.
McKenzie on the beach. Talk to him about the peaceful spot.
Vera on Shiprock Point. End the converstaion as soon as possible.

Chapter 4. Talk to everyone about the first thing.
Brent in parlor. Start the convo and end it.
Rogers by Dining Room Door. Start the convo and end it.
Screening Room - Vera and Lombard. Talk to each of them about the first thing.
Blore in Rogers' bathroom - start and end
Armstrong in his room (upstairs and left).
Go through Vera's room for the telescope. Her room is 3 left of armstong's
Wargrave in McKenzie's room. Start and end. That room is 2 left of Vera's.
Go upstairs to Vera's room. Select option 1.
Go to the woodshed.

Chapter 5.

Fill water bucket.
Talk Blore at woodshed.
Emily/Doctor fight. Talk to Emily.
Talk Judge.
Grotto run. 28-11-49
Go to apple orchard. Use ladder to get apples.
Get cure from apiary.
Talk to Vera on the cliffside.
Make apple juice.
Talk/see doctor upstairs.
Go to ruined village. Get items from the first two houses.
Use juice on thorns to clear away goats and get the other item.
Give everything to Emily.
Run around the area.
Try jumping off the cliff.

Chapter 6.

Leave to Lombard's room.
Watch the scene and return to the game room.
Up to Vera's room.
To dining room.
Use the cure on Narracott.
Go to the generator. Turn it on.

Chapter 7.

Talk to everyone about the first thing / end convo as soon as possible
Check Wargrave, Vera and Lombard.
Leave house and return. Check Vera.
Leave house and return. Talk to Blore about all, to trigger Lombard / all.

Chapter 8.

Go to screening room. Judge's body is there.
Leave through library to find Blore's body. Take the bear.
Find Dr. Armstrong's body on the rocks.

Chapter 9. Run to the bonfire.

Chapter 10. Enter the house. Use the bear on the culprit.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Internet Archive

I visited the Internet Archive building in San Francisco recently!

Back in March, I said that I wanted to give them my entire River Heights series, so they could scan in the books and put them on Open Library. That way, other people could read the series. The series is somewhat rare, since it went out of print 25 years ago, and nobody has ever heard of it. The later books were especially hard to find; Amazon prices the last book at $43.97. And that's for a used copy.

I was planning to mail the books to them, but I figured that I was going to San Francisco anyway, and I was relatively close to finishing the series. So I power-read to the end of the series, so I could drop off the books in person. It actually worked better that way, because I was able to include the books that I left at my parents' house when I moved out of state. That would be my entire comic strip book collection, which was something like five volumes of Little Orphan Annie and seven volumes of Li'l Abner. Those books are huge. The Annie ones are hardcovers, over 4 pounds each.

I also left a bunch of Latin and Greek books at my parents' house, but I didn't donate those, because there wasn't any room left over in the laundry basket, once the big books were put in.

I'm pretty sure I confused the receptionist at the Internet Archive building, since I was a stranger in casual clothes, walking into their building with a laundry basket. The good news is that my wife told me to email them to confirm their physical address ahead of time, so I had the name/email of one of their employees. I looked slightly less like a crazy person, because I had employee approval.

I thought it was a neat trip, although it would have been neat to get a tour of their facilities. According to the plaque on the door, they have normal tour hours. I didn't know that! I probably looked extra-weird, a tourist showing up outside of tour time. So I didn't hang around long, after giving them the books. I took a picture of their scanning machine in the lobby and left. They had an arcade machine in the lobby which I wanted to try out, but I figured that'd be rude.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Latin Translation

I'm translating "Dialogue Between God and Sinner" by Pope Innocent III. Don't bother Googling it; there are no English translations of this work.

The sinner mentions the passage in Luke, where a disciple tells Jesus, "Teach me how to pray" and Jesus responds with the Our Father. The first sentence of God's response to the sinner is "Pro certo quod sic orare docuit te Filius consubstantialis mihi et coaeternus", which is "Most certainly, the Son taught you to pray that way."

The sentence also has "consubstantial and coeternal with me", to describe the Son. It makes total sense in Latin, since "Son" is the last word in the sentence; all the author did was put adjectives next to the noun they describe.

But "Son" comes first in the English version. So the proper translation is "Most certainly, the Son, consubstantial and coeternal with me, taught you to pray this way". That's not natural-sounding at all. Putting the adjectives before the noun doesn't help, because that's "Most certainly, the consubstantial and coeternal with me Son taught you to pray this way". It sounds better if we put "Son" at the end, following the original word order, but that completely changes the subject of the sentence; "Most certainly, you were taught to pray this way by the Son, who is consubstantial and coeternal with me".

Translating is hard sometimes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cooking Blogs

I set up a new label for this blog: Cooking! You can click it on the right hand side of the screen and see all my posts about cooking. If you find a cooking post which isn't labeled "cooking", feel free to let me know!

Are there any other labels I should set up for this blog? I use the generic label "other" for most of the blog posts. Maybe there's a topic I talk about often enough that it's deserving of its own label.

Speaking of those labels, I have no idea why all of them are capitalized, except for "movies" and "pictures". I once tried to capitalize them, but Blogger autocorrected them back to being uncapitalized. I think what I have to do is go back through every single one of those posts, unlabel them, then put capitalized labels on them. That's too much work!

I made up the labels years ago. Some of them don't get used much anymore, like "TV Shows", since I haven't had cable TV in years. "Walkthroughs" has also fallen out of usage, as I stopped writing walkthroughs for GameFAQs. As for "Videogames", it's rare that I play a videogame that I don't do a video walkthrough for, unless it's an iPhone game.

And sadly, there haven't been many opportunities to use the "Nancy Drew previews" label in the last two years...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Video Series

This past week, I've written about a shipping wars series, and a what if series. I'm just floating around ideas for possible video series.

One to two years ago, I decided to start three Nancy Drew video series. I did "Everything Wrong With", speedruns and long game reviews. The plan was that I'd do them for every single Nancy Drew game.

This only lasted for three or four games, because the speedruns took a long time. Now I just do "Everything Wrong With", although the last two videos (games 12 and 13) have taken a long time. Sorry about that! My editor Olivia had computer issues. I occasionally speedrun a game, if it catches my fancy. I'm planning on going back and doing all the reviews when I finish with EWW.

I suppose I shouldn't be thinking of starting new Nancy Drew series, while I haven't finished the old ones yet. Oh well.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Shipping Wars

Another idea I had for a video series was "Nancy Drew: Shipping Wars", where I go through each game and say which characters should date each other. Because romance.

I could try to make it interactive, with Twitter polls! Like, "Message in a Haunted Mansion". I do a poll, asking if Charlie should date Nancy, Abby, Rose or No One. Same with Louis. Then for the girls, I ask if they should date Charlie, Louis or No One. I would be interested in seeing if my followers agree with my romantic preferences.

This raises the question of gay relationships. Should I include them? I don't want to be homophobic and exclude them, but on the other hand, the only Nancy Drew character who's confirmed as gay is Dagny from Sea of Darkness. There's not a lot of options for gay pairings with only one gay character.

What about phone contacts? The phone contacts in that game are Hannah, Bess and George, and the one reporter whose name eludes me now. Do they get a chance for loving, too?

I also thought there could be a "date someone from a different game" category. Maybe? Like, Hal Tanaka from "Secrets Can Kill" with Miwako from "Shadow at the Water's Edge". They are both quiet, Japanese people. That was actually the only one I could think of, but I think it'd be neat to at least have the option available. I have no idea how I could poll people on the topic, though. Maybe that'd be something for Facebook topics.

As you can see, I gave the idea some thought. I dunno if I should go through with it or not.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Romance Novels

Yesterday, my friend Paul shared this list of computer-generated romance novel titles. The program based it off of real romance novel titles. I thought it'd be funny to write plot summaries for these fake books:

The Billionaire’s Marriage Valley. The best kept secret in Washington D.C. is the tiny Jefferson neighborhood, where all the richest politicians go to find love. Josie and her sister Alexandra are completely unaware of the neighborhood's reputation, when they inherit a house there. Soon, Alexandra is being courted by two senators from the same state! But when Josie's ex-fiancĂ©e reappears as a lobbyist for the military industry, Josie wonders if this is one movement she'll have to veto.

The Baby Surgeon Seduction. Melody and her boyfriend are expecting a baby this November, and tensions are running high as her career and her relationship seem to be falling apart. A severe attack of false contractions lands her in the hospital, where she meets the handsome Dr. Braxton-Hicks. Soon, Melody is faking any number of pregnancy problems, so she can spend as much time as possible with the charming baby surgeon. Is this blooming relationship going to deliver her heart's desire, or is Melody doomed to go into labor...alone?

Christmas With Her Blackmail. It's the most wonderful time of the year, right? Wrong! After a drunken holiday party that went way out of control, Valerie finds herself being blackmailed by one of her co-workers! She's forced to dress up in a ridiculous elf costume, watch snotty children, and fend off the advances of a lewd mall Santa. The only way Valerie can make her life normal again is if she figures out a way to blackmail the blackmailer. But she never expected to fall in love along the way...

Friday, August 11, 2017


I don't live in California anymore, but I figured I would check in on my birth state. Have they finally finished the high speed rail? I was living in the state in 2008, when they voted to start the project. It's a train that runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and it's awesome!


Oh, hey, they've barely even started construction. It looks like the most recent development was being sued by environmentalists in LA. You keep on trying, California.

In other news, some people are trying to have California leave the United States of America. Called "Yes California", or more commonly, "Calexit", they got permission to gather signatures from citizens. If they get enough signatures, it will be on the ballot in 2018. This group stopped their work in April, but another group has picked up where they left off.

It's an interesting idea. California has the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world, by various counts. It's certainly possible that it could exist as its own country, although there would have to be some big restructuring. My first reaction, though, is that this will NEVER happen. It sounds like it's just a load of sour grapes, from people who dislike President Trump. People in Texas, who disliked President Obama, started a similar campaign to have Texas leave the United States, after the 2012 election.

As you may know, both California and Texas are huge states. One is Republican, the other is Democrat, and they more or less cancel each other out in every Presidential election. If one of them leaves the United States, it pretty much guarantees that the other political party will win. Take the 2016 election, for example. Hillary Clinton got about three million more votes than Trump, but eight million of her votes were from California. If California hadn't been part of the United States, Trump would have won in a landslide. Similarly, if Texas wasn't part of the United States, Trump wouldn't have won.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What If Videos

The other day, I watched some "What If?" videos by MasakoX. He's a DragonBall Z fan, and he's gone through a lot of various scenarios, like "What if [big event] occurred earlier?", "What if [Villain] became a hero?" and "What if people died for real on the show, instead of being brought back to life all the time?".

Some critics say this is basically alternate universe fanfiction theater. Fair point, but I still find it interesting.

I wonder if I could do something similar for Nancy Drew. The only "What if" scenario I could think of was "What if Bess was the main character, not Nancy Drew?". Also, "what if George or Deirdre Shannon was the main character?", which is the exact same thing, only tweaked a little.

"What if Nancy didn't have a boyfriend?". Honestly, I think if Ned hadn't been introduced in Book 7, she would have been given a different guy as a generic boyfriend. Nancy and her friends all had generic boyfriends in the original series; Ned was the only one who survived the reboot. The Hardy Boys had generic girlfriends, too. They are in the reboot, but they're not dating the Hardys anymore, so they almost never show up.

"What if [Game] had a different culprit?". That could be fun! But if I did that for every game, it might be super repetitive.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice (German)

Game #4 in the 2017 Foreign Nancy Drew Marathon is The Phantom of Venice, in German.


. Rosie throws up on me, during the intro.
. You know how the French and German versions of the game tried to sync the audio with the animation? The person playing Colin doesn't even kind of try to do that. He will regularly talk for 5-10 seconds after the animation. So Colin will be frozen in place on the screen, while his voice actor is still talking. Occasionally, he says Nancy's lines for her, too.
. All the other voice actors are spot-on, and they're especially good at speaking German with Italian accents! I like Teenager Nancy the best.
. Helena's scream in the scene where the Phantom robs Nancy is so fake, it's hilarious.
. In the first Scopa scene, Nancy tells Enrico (in German) that she wants to speak with him in English. He agrees, and they continue speaking in German. A lot of people in the chat thought this was hilarious.
. There is no German/English translation book. That was the one thing I was wondering about, going into this game. They just make it unavailable for purchase. The "Italian to English" book is changed into an "Italian to German" book.