Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hardy Boys Casefiles 22

Here's my review for Hardy Boys Casefiles 22! I'm posting it here, because it will most likely be over a month, before I post it to my YouTube channel. (Stupid backlog!)

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This book begins on the perfect note, by talking about how delicious bacon cheeseburgers are. 10 out of 10, would read that again.

*theme*

A man named Chris has requested a top secret meeting with Mr. Hardy, in an abandoned part of town. Frank and Joe show up in their father's place, which happens a lot in this series. I mean, they SAY that Mr. Hardy is a great detective, but so far, the only thing he's great at is letting his teenage kids do all of his work.

The meeting is interrupted, when the culprits show up and shoot Chris six times in the chest. Today's culprits are communist secret police, and they've been hired to stop a man named Janosik from giving an anti-communist speech at Harvard this week.

The minor culprit is a nervous man named Dr. Liehm, while the major culprit is a huge guy named Gregor Krc. Krc knocks Joe out with one hit, AND he insults Joe's manhood, so you know we're gonna see this guy again.

Back with Chris, he miraculously survived the drive-by shooting, because he had a video cassette tape under his shirt. The bullets all hit the tape instead of his heart. Oh. Wow. Is that tape made of steel or something? Because all the cassettes I used in the 80's were cheap plastic.

Chris introduces himself as Chris Hardy, Frank and Joe's long-lost brother. He proves his identity with photos, a driver's license, and random family trivia. Sadly, we can't ask Mom and Dad about Chris' true identity, because they're on a "let's stretch out this mystery as long as possible" vacation. So we'll just have to believe Chris when he says he's our bro.

Instead of asking Chris for details about the case, everyone goes to sleep. 'Cause, you know, there's no reason to question a suspicious guy with an obviously fake cover story.

Chris decides he doesn't want to get his brothers involved in this dangerous situation, so he runs away in the middle of the night. He doesn't leave a note or an explanation or anything; he just ditches them without warning, like a huge jerk.

Well, that clinches it. He's a Hardy.

There's another run-in with the culprits, and the Hardys get help from their buddy, Phil Cohen. Phil has repaired the magic, life-saving video cassette. The video shows Chris shooting a police officer. So the lost Hardy Brother is a murderer? Oh no!

Phil also gets the Hardys into Harvard, with the help of a computer hacker called "The Beast". Our heroes split up at this point. Joe follows Janosik, the guy who's giving a speech. The culprits harass Janosik for a bit, and Joe follows them back to their office building, where he is immediately captured.

Meanwhile, Frank visits a reporter. He learns that the culprits are trying to destroy Janosik's reputation, by handing out videos of Janosik taking bribes. With help from "The Beast", Frank tracks the videos to their source: the building where Joe was captured.

Chris is there, because why not? Let's have all three Hardy Boys show up at the same place, at the same time, independently of one another. Chris helps hack their security system, and they save Joe from being killed, but Chris disappears again.

The Hardys go back home, where their family members solve the case. Dad and Mom explain that Chris is a foster child who they took care of, for about half a year. That's how Chris knows all about the family. Meanwhile, Aunt Gertrude watches the magic videotape, and she recognizes it as a scene from a movie. They just copy/pasted Chris' face over the actor's.

It should have been a dead giveaway that Chris had Tom Cruise's body.

Anyway, the videotape is a fake! Meaning the videotape of Janosik taking bribes is probably a fake, too. He's still a good guy, so the case is back on!

We track down Chris. He explains that he helped the culprits make these fake videotapes, before realizing they are evil. You think he would have figured that out sooner, when they asked him to fake a video of him shooting another person, but he didn't. Good thing he's not really related to the Hardys, because his detective instincts are bad.

The Hardys show up at Janosik's speech, just in time to catch the culprits. As usual, we have a big chase sequence, and Joe has an intense fight with Krc. Who's the better man now, Krc? Who's the better man now?

In the end, Chris and "The Beast" are punished for their crimes, by being ordered to teach five hundred hours of computer classes at Harvard. Considering how much Harvard pays its teachers, that's not much of a punishment.

The End

Post-Book Followup

This is a good action book, with fights and dangerous scenes. The mystery was not as good; it's pretty easy to guess that the culprits are plotting to stop Janosik. Before the first chapter ended, I knew the communists would be the bad guys again, and the anti-communist would be a hero-victim.

The weakest part of the book was the subplot with Chris. I was excited by the idea of a third Hardy Brother, but he was gone most of the time. He didn't stay around long enough to make an impression. They could have replaced him with a completely unrelated stranger, and things would have played out the exact same way. Imagine how different it would have been if Chris had told Frank and Joe the truth from the beginning! I would have preferred that book, compared to Chris pretending to be a Hardy to create fake drama.

I give Hardy Boys Casefiles #22, Double Exposure, a 9 out of 10.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Page Description

The page description I have on YouTube is over five years old at this point. It looks like this:

"Arglefumph plays his way through various adventure games, such as Phoenix Wright, Nancy Drew, and Legend of Zelda. He also does book reviews!"

Any suggestions for a new one? I asked on the Facebook page, and I got this: "I love Nancy and action Games. If you do to or like Funny Comentary please come watch me."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

DS9 Season 1, Epsidoes 15-20

"Progress" is another episode I disliked. Good thing I watched these episodes out of order, because that's four in a row. The premise is that a farmer needs to be evacuated from the planet, because of a flood or something. Kira visits him and tries to convince him to leave. It is about thirty minutes of her, talking to a jerky farmer.

In the subplot, Jake and Nog get trapped in a trading sequence, and they try really hard to break even. I liked that story, although it's weird to have two Jake and Nog episodes in a row. This is pretty much the only time we see them, I think.

"If Wishes Were Horses" had an interesting concept. The characters' thoughts come to life! Sort of like a holodeck episode...okay, exactly like a holodeck episode. Still, it was funny. Dr. Bashir was fantasizing about Dax, and it was awkward/hilarious when Fantasy Dax started pawing all over him while real Dax watched. The story made a nice transition from humorous and playful to a more serious disaster, and overall, I enjoyed it. More than the previous episodes, definitely.

"The Forsaken" is about Deanna Troi's mother visiting the station and developing a huge crush on Odo. I was expecting it to be more like the episode, where she has a crush on Captain Picard (which was amazing), but this one went for a more serious story. I remember liking the episode, but I can't remember anything about it that stands out in particular.

"Dramatis Personae" is about Klingons, and no, wait, it's not. Have you seen the Netflix episode descriptions? They're clearly written by someone who only watched the first thirty seconds of the episode. It's really hard to tell what the episode is like, based on these inaccurate descriptions.

Anyway, the story is that everyone starts acting oddly, and there's a big mutiny onboard, as Kira tries to take control. The end explains this as a "telepathic infection", which caused our characters to take on different personalities and re-enact a big fight.

"Duet" is an extremely serious episode, about a war camp. Kira may or may not have captured the man who ran a horrible war camp, and she's determined to bring him to justice / find out the truth about what REALLY happened. There are several well-done plot twists, and it's a powerful parallel to the Holocaust.

"In the Hands of the Prophets" starts off with a "science versus religion" conflict, over what's appropriate to teach in school. It goes back to the god-aliens in the pilot. Do you treat them like gods, or do you treat them like aliens? That could make for a good debate, but predictably, the show takes the one-sided viewpoint of "science is great and wonderful, while religion is for stupid, superstitious idiots". They at least try to put Commander Sisko in the role of a neutral third party, but it doesn't take very long before he brings up Galileo, in order to make the Catholic Church look bad. Apparently, people are STILL going to bring that up, hundreds of years from now.

So, yeah, the episode's premise alienated me. Pardon the pun. But I was able to compartmentalize my feelings and put them aside; I enjoyed the episode after that. The conflict is interesting, and it introduces a great new villain. The villain is the highlight of the episode, actually! I really want to see her again, even if she's an obvious metaphor for corrupt Catholic cardinals.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

DS9 Season 1, Epsidoes 8-14

"Dax" is an interesting episode, which explores the relationship between Jadzia Dax and Curzon Dax. Jadzia gets put on trial for Curzon's crimes, and there's a lot of discussion about her symbiotic nature. It reminds me a lot of the Next Gen episode, where Data was put on trial to determine if he counts as a unique species. It's interesting world-building, but there's not a lot of meat to this episode, besides that high-falutin' philosophy stuff.

Also, it kind of annoys me that Dax refused to tell the truth about the murder, until the end. Maybe I've played too many Phoenix Wright games, where the client keeps things a secret without a really good reason.

"The Passenger" was a good episode, where a super-clever criminal fakes his own death and takes over the station. Dr. Bashir got a chance to do some grandiose acting here, which was a nice change of pace!

"Move Along Home" is basically "Jumanji" (which came out two years later). Four of the characters get trapped inside a deadly board game, and they must beat the game in order to live! In this case, "deadly" board game means "they solve hopscotch puzzles". No, I'm not joking. I liked this episode, but the Internet tells me that it is widely hated. True, it's very silly and light-hearted compared to the rest of the series, but I still liked it.

"The Nagus" introduces Grand Nagus Zek, who instantly became my family's favorite character. It's the villain from "The Princess Bride", only now he's been promoted to King. Great actor, great character, I loved it so much, I skipped ahead in the series to watch the other episodes with this character. (And I accidentally stumbled upon Kira, pregnant with O'Brien's baby. WHAT? Also, Worf. Hey, Worf. You're on this show, too?)

The episode was great. My only real complaint would be that the Nagus doesn't say anything for the first quarter of the episode, to give him an air of mysteriousness. I didn't like that, partially because I already knew what his personality was like, and that's the best part of his character! He's hilarious when he's plotting and scheming, but not so interesting, if he's just being quiet and hiding in shadows.

"The Vortex" is another episode where the first quarter is good, but the rest sort of fell flat. There is a criminal named Croden, who gets involved with a murder at Quark's. At first, it seems like we're going to have a mystery, figuring out who was killed and why. Then the story shifts, so it's all about Odo. Croden claims to be the only person in existence who has been to Odo's home world, and he more or less badgers Odo into taking him there. It turns out that Croden is lying; he was making up excuses, so he could reach his long-lost daughter. Poor Odo, not getting to meet his own family.

"Battle Lines" is about Kai Opaka, who is basically the Pope of the planet. We haven't seen her since the pilot, so I kind of forgot all about her. Anyway, our heroes crash land on a planet, in the middle of a war. The twist is that nobody can die on this planet, so this war has been going on for decades. Our heroes try to broker a peace, but they're unsuccessful.

The episode seems kind of long and drawn-out, because there's no resolution to the war conflict. Also, there is about ten minutes of O'Brien and Dax in a spaceship, trying to get everyone off the planet, through the use of technobabble. The ending with Kai Opaka deciding to stay on the war-torn planet was probably the best part.

"The Storyteller" makes three episodes in a row that I don't like! Sad. The storyline is that O'Brien is mistakenly elected as a religious leader, and the main message is "Ha ha, all religious people are superstitious idiots!". Definitely not a good follow-up to an episode with a kind and generous Pope figure, and besides, it's a story we've seen before in other Star Treks. There was also a fair amount of technobabble--O'Brien is a magnet for that stuff--so I pretty much skipped over those parts. The other storyline is about the boys, Jake and Nog, both getting a crush on the same girl. That part was okay.

Friday, April 29, 2016

DS9 Season 1, Epsidoes 1-7

While I'm still thinking about Season 1 of Deep Space Nine, I figured I could talk about the various episodes. Sort of like my reviews for the Land Before Time series? I dunno. I can review the first season's episodes, at least, and if people don't like it, I won't continue.

Does the pilot count as an episode? I liked it a lot, and I especially liked the god-aliens who live in the eternal present. Great idea, great execution!

"Past Prologue" introduces Garak the Cardassian tailor, who is a really fascinating character. I liked that! The other storyline was Kira's old boyfriend, who tries to reconnect with her, but it ends up being a trick. I did not like that.

In "A Man Alone", Odo is framed for murder. At one point, he asks why Sisko trusts him, when the two men barely know each other. That's the main problem with the episode! We don't know Odo's character and what he's like at this point in the series. It's only the second episode! I think I would have liked this episode better, if it was at the end of the season.

"Babel" is more of a traditional Star Trek episode, in that the crew is suffering from an unknown ailment, and we need to figure out what it is. They easily could have done this story on one of the other Star Trek shows. I seem to remember that it was mostly well done.

I didn't like "Captive Pursuit". The first third was interesting, as a strange alien appeared on the station, and we had to figure out what was going on. That was neat, and the mystery was good. But then other aliens appeared, and we learned the story: they're hunting the first alien for sport. Cue a LOT of moralizing about how hunting is evil. I don't like hunting myself, but I thought it was overdone.

I talked about Q-Less elsewhere.






Thursday, April 28, 2016

State-Level Voting

I've talked about voting a little bit in this election cycle. Right now, weird things are happening, because a lot of states are going into Round Two of their voting process.

Round One is where everyone votes in the state votes. The candidates get delegates, based on what the voters decided.

Round Two is where they have county conventions. Here, people get to pick delegates for the state convention. At the state convention, there is another vote, and the candidates get delegates, based on what the voters decided.

This is supposed to be the same basic idea of candidates getting delegates based on a vote, but it's a lot convoluted, when you're voting on the county level, for people to represent you on the state level. I guess the idea is that it balances things out, if a candidate wins a lot of different counties but loses overall.

In my state of Oregon, Round One decides 55% of the vote, while Round Two decides 27% of the vote. (The remaining 18% is made of superdelegates.)

Most states delay Round Two until May or June, when the primary election is usually over. The states that haven't delayed Round Two have given us some surprises and turnabouts. Most recently, Cruz won Round Two in Maine, with 95%! (He got less than half in Round One.) Sanders lost Round One in Nevada, but he has a majority going into Round Two, meaning he's probably going to win overall.

I wonder how close the Presidential race must be, for someone to lose Round One in every state, yet win the general election because they dominated Round Two.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Custom URL

YouTube has given me a custom URL. It's https://www.youtube.com/c/arglefumph

Pretty neat! Not too different from https://www.youtube.com/user/arglefumph, though. I wonder what the "/c/" stands for.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Deep Space Nine

I'm done with the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Here are my various thoughts.

The show's critics say that the show is Star Trek Airport. The complaint is that they always stay on the spaceship, and they never go anywhere else. That's not the case in the first season! There was a fair amount of leaving the station, travelling to other planets and meeting new species.

It reminded me a lot like the first Star Trek series, where every episode had a gimmick. What if everyone was sucked into a board game? What could make our heroes try to kill each other? What if they got trapped on a planet with endless war? What if all the viewers were huge fans of the first series, and we just reused ideas from that show?

I personally prefer the episodes where the characters stay on the station, instead of doing space exploration. I think that's mainly because my favorite character is Quark. He's both funny and interesting, and the constant tension between him and Odo is good fun. They're my favorites, followed by Dr. Bashir.

Surprise, surprise, Michael likes the comedic characters.

As for the other main characters, I'm kind of indifferent to them. O'Brien doesn't seem to have much of an emotional range, beyond "vaguely flustered" and "vaguely annoyed". He tends to use his "I'm spewing meaningless technobabble" voice at all times, even when dealing with his wife, which puts me off. As for Dax and Kira, I want to like them, but they didn't have any good storylines! Kira's storylines were mostly "she has feelings for a guy who turns out to be a huge jerk". Dax's best (only) storyline was about her past, when she was a completely different person. Interesting, but I'd rather have some focus on who she is now, not who she used to be.

Which brings me to Commander Sisko. He was great in the pilot episode! But that was the only episode where he's the main character. The rest of the time, he only took center stage in ensemble episodes. As the season went on, I found myself liking him less and less. It's not that he's a bad character who I actively dislike, but he doesn't get enough focus for me to take an active interest in him. Most of the time, he's just the guy who talks in a calm voice.

I dunno. I wonder what it would have been like, if Deep Space Nine had Commander William Riker in charge. You know, like a more traditional spinoff show. I find it odd that O'Brien was picked as the character to center a spinoff around.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Group Membership

Something I've been wondering about is how much you can disagree with a group, while still being a member of the group.

With politics right now, the bar seems to be set pretty high. If you disagree with a political party on an issue, even a relatively minor one, they tend to attack and denounce you. It's like both parties want 100% compliance.

At least, it feels that way to me. I disagree with the Democrats and the Republicans about a third of the time, I agree with them about a third of the time, and about a third of the time, I'm neutral. That's not good enough for them; both parties say I'm an outsider to them.

So I wonder if there's a magical percentage. Like, if you agree with the group 80% of the time, you're a member. If you agree with them 70% of the time, you're not. Does that exist?

There are probably some non-negotiables, as well. Like, you agree with the group on 99% of all topics, but you disagree on one, crucial topic, therefore, they don't want you.

I also wonder about this, when it comes to religion. I've met Catholics who don't agree with the Catholic Church's views on God, morality, the Bible, priests, etc., etc. At some point, I have to wonder how and why these people are still Catholic, when it seems like they're opposed to pretty much everything the Church teaches.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

No Blog Post Today

No blog post today! I keep writing long blog posts, then deciding to delete them.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Rube Goldberg Machine

Someone made an Arglefumph / Nancy Drew Rube Goldberg machine!



Pretty neat. It reminds me of the Rube Goldberg puzzle in Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull. That was a neat puzzle.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cat President Now on Steam Greenlight

I've been talking about Cat President on this blog for many months. Now the game is finally available on Steam Greenlight!

Please vote for the game! As I understand it, the game will be published on Steam, once it gets enough votes. 900 votes? Is that the limit?

By all accounts, it generally takes several months before a game makes it through the Greenlight process. The more popular the game, the faster it goes through the process. Let's hope our game doesn't get stuck in Greenlight Purgatory. I'm told when that happens, your game only moves up in the rankings when games ahead of it get removed.

We are currently a little over 2/3 of the way through programming the game. Let's hope the game is finished, around the same time that it's greenlit! If not, we'll release it on itch.io first.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Land Before Time: Adventuring in the Mysterious Beyond

The last Land Before Time DVD is a themed one! In every episode, our heroes visit the Mysterious Beyond, the dangerous place where carnivores live. I find it amusing that this is the DVD's theme, considering how they do this in the majority of episodes. That's like having a Simpsons DVD, themed around Homer doing stupid things.

First is "The Great Egg Adventure". This episode features the return of the bullies from the third movie, and I was impressed by the writing here. The episode does a balancing act between their original bully personalities from the start of the movie, and their reformed bully personalities from the end of the movie. Characters with semi-complex personalities? That's way more effort than the rest of the show has led me to expect.

The story is that our heroes find three carnivore eggs. They don't want the carnivores to hatch near their home, so they decide to move the eggs far, far away. They split up into three groups, with each group getting one egg. The entire time, the mother chases them and tries to kill them. The mother made for an interesting enemy, partially because she's the only female carnivore we've seen (besides Chomper's mom) and because she was smarter than your average enemy on this show. Other enemies have been scared away by things like echoing voices and smelly flowers, while this one was smart enough to knock down trees to hurt her foes.

Overall, a good episode! It has an above average villain, and the movie cameos worked well. The only downside to the episode that bothered me was the fact that Hep looks completely different from the way he looked in the movie. He's a lot smaller, which is ironic considering that his theme song is "When You're Big". I imagine some people might dislike how the episode kicked Cera, Spike and Ruby out of the group, to make room for the three bullies, but that was probably for the best. Otherwise, the episode would probably have a character overload.

Second is "Escape from the Mysterious Beyond". There's not a whole lot of story to this. Our heroes are lost in the Mysterious Beyond, where they get chased by carnivores. That is the entire story. In the subplot, Chomper, Ducky and a carnivore get stuck on an island. The carnivore's tail is trapped, so it can't reach them. Tensions are high, as they deal with the nearby carnivore and worry that they won't be rescued by their friends.

The subplot was the best part, and I found it to be really different. Ten minutes of two characters talking to each other in a closed space, while someone three feet away tries desperately to kill them / break their morale. Not a typical storyline! Also, not typical for this series for the heroes to hold conversations with the carnivores. Plus, this is only time Ducky and Chomper have had an extended conversation by themselves. The scene of her hugging him for emotional support probably inspired a lot of fanfics.

I'd probably give this episode a 6 or 7 out of 10. The animation was neat, especially with the carnivore attacks. This could be the only time Red Claw is shown as a legitimate threat, and not just the stupid villain that gets easily defeated over and over again. But on the other hand, the episode's story is so non-existent that it's overshadowed by the subplot of two people talking for ten minutes. The last episode was also nothing but chase sequences, but at least they had eggs and different characters to talk about, instead of just screaming and running the whole time.

Third is 'The Lonely Journey". Everyone is celebrating the Time of Great Giving, when some of the adults make racist comments against Sharpteeth. Chomper is offended and sad he doesn't fit in, so he goes to the Great Beyond and tries to make friends with the Sharpteeth there. Things go badly, and he gets rescued by his real friends. Chomper sings "Feel So Happy", end episode.

Wasn't there another episode with this exact same storyline? It feels really familiar. The scene with Chomper talking to the young Sharptooth was interesting, but other than that, it was a generic Chomper episode. I liked it, even if it was a kind of average episode, with Chomper re-exploring issues he's already explored.

Side note: They sing "Feel So Happy" in eight episodes. Each time it has different lyrics. How do we know which version of the song is the official version?

Last is "The Hermit of Black Rock", featuring the return of Guido from the 12th movie. He's not as annoying here as he was in the movie, but still, I wasn't thrilled to see him again. Guido gets flying lessons from Petrie, when they both get caught in a wind and end up at Black Rock.

There, they meet a blind pterodactyl. I wasn't expecting to see a kindly, elderly blind man in this series. All three of them work together, to get back home, with Guido testing the wind and Petrie guiding the blind one. I don't think there's a subplot in this episode; it's all just Petrie and Guido. In other words, the worst character with one of the weaker movie characters. The episode is all right, but it's still the worst one on the DVD.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Facebook Page

Okay, the Arglefumph Facebook Page is now up and running! Thanks to everyone for their help!