Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Soap Opera Relationships

I've always been a little skeptical, when people say relationships or marriages are all about feelings or emotions. In general, it seems like a bad idea to base something on a feeling, because feelings are temporary and fleeting.

You see this in soap operas all the time. The characters have superficial relationships, built on passion and romance. Six months later when their feelings change, they decide, oops, guess they weren't really in love after all. So they break up or get divorced and restart the cycle all over again.

When I was still watching "General Hospital", Sonny and Carly were getting married for the fourth or fifth time. That's a lot of breaking up and getting back together.

So I don't like the idea that marriage and relationships are all about feelings. I want a higher standard than that. I happen to like the Catholic idea that love is an action, a conscious decision, an act of the will.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Refunds

I saw "Already spent my refund on" was trending on Twitter the other day. As an IRS employee, that hashtag makes me nervous. I would strongly advise everyone to NOT spend your refund, until you actually get it. Okay?

Don't say, "I'm getting a $2,000 refund in two weeks, so I'm gonna spend the money now." Your refund could get held up because you're missing a form. Or because there's a typo with your bank account number. Or you could be the victim of the Identity Theft Case From Hell.

The most painful reason that a tax return can get held up? The taxpayer forgot to sign it. If you don't sign your return, you can't get a refund.

People will occasionally ask, "I don't have a pen on me right now. Can I sign my return in pencil?". There are currently no laws, indicating what you have to sign in, so you can use pencil, pen, sparkly glitter crayon, etc. As long as the signature is valid, that's all that matters. I wouldn't recommend signing in invisible ink, though.

Monday, March 27, 2017

California Diaries

I'm feeling pressure with my book reviews, because I've got over thirty Sweet Valley High books available on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. My subscription runs out in June or July, so there's a time limit! I think it comes out to one book every two days, so I can get to them all? I'm not sure.

The California Diaries series is also on Kindle Unlimited. That is a spinoff of the Baby-Sitters Club series. It's the "mature spinoff for older readers", which seems just as common as the "lighter spinoff for younger readers". That is, Baby-Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys AND Sweet Valley High all have both spinoff of those types.

California Diaries never caught on, for two main reasons. First, the timing was off. It premiered so close to the end of the main series that they didn't have much time to get many books out. Three books per narrator, that's all. The same problem occurred with Nancy Drew On Campus and the one Nancy Drew manga series.

Second, the series is handwritten. As in, the font they used looks like an eighth-grader's handwriting. I had a hard time reading the one book from the series I own, just because of that. I don't know if other readers had the same problem, but that was a major downside for me. If it is difficult to read the book because of the handwriting, I'm less likely to read it!

Thank goodness I've got the eBook version. That has the downside of editors who did a sloppy job getting the text into eBook format--some sentences are cut off halfway through, that sort of thing--but as least I can read all the words.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Games on Steam Greenlight

"The Pizza Delivery Boy Who Saved the World" is on Steam Greenlight. Please vote for it, so it can get released! I'm told that Steam is revamping its procedures in the near future, so the sooner we get the game pushed through, the better!

We also have "The Francy and Friends Collection", which has "Francy Droo 2", "Trapped in a Soap Opera" and other games. Vote for that, too!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Runes Puzzle

I was playing "Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor" the other day. I wondered why Nancy never told Linda about the runes puzzle, which is right below the plaque with the curse. The curse itself tells you to solve the puzzle, after all. That is relevant information which Linda should know.


"Linda! Linda!" Nancy cried, bounding in the room. "I figured out how to undo the curse!"

"You have?" Linda asked. "But that's impossible!"

"It's not," Nancy said. "It's right there, in the third paragraph of the plaque. 'Prove thy worthiness and memorialize here the innocent one so wrongly condemned for saving lives. Else consider thyself right and truly cursed.' See? You're only cursed if you DON'T prove your worth!"

"And how exactly do you 'prove your worth'?" Linda asked sharply. "I have no idea what that means!"

"It means all you have to do is put Elinor's name into the puzzle, to avoid being cursed," Nancy said. She pulled out a piece of paper with a grin. "And I've got Jane's papers on Norse runes."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Linda said. "Puzzle? Norse runes? Have you been cursed, too? A curse that prevents you from making sense?"

"No," Nancy said. "The picture slides open. Didn't you notice that?"

"It WHAT?"

"You just put your fingers into the little hole where the eyeball is, then you slide the picture away to reveal some Norse runes," Nancy said. "Then you spell out 'Elinor' in runes. It's pretty simple."

"Why did you stick your fingers in the eyeball--whatever," Linda said. "I'm going to see this for myself. Only..."

"You don't want to be seen. I understand," Nancy said. "I'll leave the rune alphabet stuff here, then I'll play a game in Jane's room to distract her. Will ten minutes be enough?"

"That would be wonderful, thanks."

Nancy went to Jane, and they played a game of Bul together. They had been at it for less than ten minutes, when Linda entered the room, looking happy, healthy and a tad hairy.

"It worked!" she said. "The curse is undone! I'm no longer turning into a werewolf! And solving the rune puzzle opened a secret passageway!"

"That's wonderful! Did you explore it?" Nancy asked.

"No way! I've had enough of hidden passageways to last a lifetime!"

Jane was confused. "Huh?" she asked. "There's a rune puzzle near the curse?"

Linda's eyes narrowed. "Jane, what do you know about this curse?"

"Uh oh," Jane said.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Eyeball Picture

I'm working on "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor". It's going to take a while, since I did a four hour livestream of the game. I'm in the process of rewatching every minute of those four hours and taking notes.

Something which always confused me about the game was the LouLou word puzzle. Where did it come from? As Jane says, she explored the hallway and only found "a funny picture". It's some weird eyeball thing. But when you click on it, suddenly, there's a parrot puzzle. And when you back away, the eyeball picture is there again. What's up with that? There is a sliding sound when Nancy zooms in on the picture, and I guessed it was Nancy sliding the picture aside? Like, the puzzle is on the backside of the picture?

Well, I finally figured it out. It's not obvious with the LouLou word puzzle, but it's obvious with the eyeball picture on the runes puzzle. The picture itself slides open. As in, Nancy puts her fingers in the eyeball and spreads the two halves apart, revealing a puzzle underneath. You can see the sides of the eyeball on the far left/right edges of the runes puzzle.

I'm still wondering how Nancy knew she had to pull the picture apart to reveal a puzzle. That's not intuitive.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Values

I saw a YouTube video by Bishop Barron last week, about tolerance and inclusivity. He mentioned that every society has certain fundamental values, which people prize. In our society, we prize things like tolerance and inclusivity, freedom and liberty, and love and truth.

Sometimes, the different values can come into conflict. We've seen this recently, with some people saying hateful, intolerant things. Does that trump their right to free speech? If we decide to censor someone or not, that's making a judgment call over whether we prize freedom or tolerance higher.

A moral dilemma that I've seen people propose is whether or not you should tell your best friend that their new haircut looks awful. People say that's making a judgment call over whether we prize love or truth more. I've never quite understood that conflict; it always seems to me that you should tell your friend the truth because you love them. Love and truth don't have to be in conflict, in that case. It seems more to me that the truth flows from love, as opposed to love being against truth.

Bishop Barron makes the point that if love is your highest virtue, there are times when it will come into conflict with tolerance and inclusivity. You can think of a teacher who loves their students, but isn't going to tolerate misbehavior in class. And that's good; it's better for the class overall, if misbehavior and distractions are eliminated. Does this mean the teacher is an oppressive bigot? No, because the teacher is operating out of love, wishing the well-being of the students.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Everything Wrong With Suggestions

As usual, I've got some "Everything Wrong With" suggestions that I'm not sure whether or not to include. What do you think?

1. Who is the woman on the cover of the box? There's no one in a red robe in this game.
2. "There's something out there!" It's pretty out of character for Nancy to shriek in terror at a scary noise.
3. The hand cursor in the opening scene, on the door knocker, tricked me into thinking I have to click in order to proceed.
4. How did [culprit] do the voice and growl at the start of the game?
5. Just like "Danger on Deception Island", this game has a Russian expert who left their phone number in a textbook.
6. Why did Elinor forbid people from hunting the Blackmoor Beast? That was never explained.
7. "Refrain from mucking about with items that aren't yours". Nancy follows Mrs. Drake's orders to stay inside, but she totally ignores Mrs. Drake's orders to not
8. "And then...and then what? And then she changed the subject." Nancy's heavy-handed dramatic cliffhanger.
9. How does using the computer open up hidden panels all over the manor?
10. Nancy types of Nigel's memoirs, but where did she get them in the first place? Is she copying off of handwritten pages? Because there are no pages in this scene.
11. After the chanting scene, the lights turn on, the second Jane's door shuts. How does THAT work?
12. How does solving the door puzzle cause the well to be filled?
13. Why does Ethel make such a big deal out of the fact that only the initiated can find the forge? Nancy is uninitiated and has no problem solving the mystery.
14. Nancy should still be able to move the statue, after Nigel puts a cloth on it.
15. Nancy is forced to solve the dragon and gargoyle puzzles every time she enters the hidden passageways, but with all the other puzzles, she only has to solve them once.
16. You can play the game through and win without finding the letter about the hair cream, which makes things a bit confusing.
17. Someone said "airport codes" in the game were wrong. What does THAT refer to?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wizard of Oz Argument

My friends had a pointless argument over "The Wizard of Oz" the other day! Normally, the pointless argument I hear about that movie is whether or not it's an extensive metaphor for World War Two or the Great Depression or something. It's not. The book was written in 1900; therefore, the author was not lampooning events which happened decades later.

No, this argument was over Glinda. She asks Dorothy, "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?", later adding "only bad witches are ugly".

The first person says this is an insult, suggesting that Dorothy is ugly. Dorothy is clearly pretty, and since bad witches are ugly, Dorothy can't be a bad witch. Why would Glinda ask that question.

The second person says "only bad witches are ugly" does not mean "if you are a bad witch, you are ugly"; it means "if you are an ugly witch, you are bad". It is possible for there to be a bad witch who is incredibly gorgeous. That doesn't contradict the statement "only bad witches are ugly". Glinda's statement is about all ugly witches, not about all bad witches.

Who wins the argument? Should we go back in time and correct the movie script, to make it more clear? Do my friends have too much free time?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cliffhangers

I was wondering about cliffhangers the other day. It's pretty standard for Nancy Drew to run into several cliffhangers per book. She always seems to get herself into danger and get right out of it, that Nancy Drew.

Sometimes, I feel kind of sarcastic with cliffhangers. Like, I feel they're a total waste of time, a cheap gimmick to keep readers' interest. I know that Nancy isn't ever going to be seriously injured or die. Quit pretending otherwise, books.

I think it annoys me more when the cliffhanger is quickly introduced and immediately dropped. Like, Nancy is walking around, and there's a GUNSHOT! Oh no! Cliffhanger! Next chapter, the first paragraph says the gunshot was just a car. Nancy continues on, like nothing happened. There's no real need to interrupt the story with a fake scare like that.

I dunno, I was just wondering why I dislike some cliffhangers, and other cliffhangers I'm okay with.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rosie Update

Rosie is two and a half months old now*. She can smile more easily now, and she most often smiles when she's looking at someone who's smiling at her. The doctors call it "social smiles". She gives social smiles much more often than she smiles of her own accord.

Her facial muscles are still developing at this point. She can make the "m", "g" and "w" sounds more clearly now. She can do two syllable words now, too! It's all unintelligible things like "wa-ga", but that's a step up from doing "waaa" "gaaaa" in separate breaths.

This past week, she seemed less social than normal to me. She sometimes does the baby version of conversations, where she coos at you. If you respond to her, she'll give you a different coo. It's incredibly cute. But sadly, I must be coming home from work too late, because all I get is grumpy nighttime Rosie. She gets grumpy around 8 PM every night, before going to sleep.

She's still not sleeping the whole night through. We are trying to get her used to sleeping in her crib, instead of sleeping with one of us on the couch.


*She'll be three months by the time this posts. I wrote this over a week in advance.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

DBZ Fanfic

I just wasted a whole bus ride, trying to write a DragonBall Z fanfic. If you've seen my DBZ fanfics, you'll know I'm particularly fond of Season Seven of the show. That's the season with comedy and high school romance, the one where Gohan goes to high school and starts a double life as a superhero.

Sadly, the show quickly goes back to being a serious action show, and Gohan's brief moment of being the official main character disappears.

Gohan has a secret identity, like most superheroes. I've seen dozens of fanfics where his female love interest tries to expose his true identity. My fanfic idea was the reverse. What if SHE was a superhero with a secret identity, and he's trying to expose her? She occasionally fights crime as herself on the show. What if she did it as a disguised superhero? They could have superhero fights, trying to expose each other's identities, and stuff.

I didn't get very far, in writing the fanfic. All I did was have the idea of reversing the standard story, because I'm tired of seeing the standard story. I'm also tired of seeing the standard reverse of that story, which is "exact same thing happens, except Gohan is dark and serious instead of a comedy goofball".

Friday, March 17, 2017

Paper Mario 64

It feels like my Paper Mario (N64) walkthrough has been going on forever at this point. The good news is that the end is near! I'm going to post Paper Mario videos for the next two weeks, which will take me to the end of the game.


Editing the videos proved to be more difficult than expected, because my recording equipment shrunk the game screen. Like, the title screen of the game is a full 640 by 480, same size as a Wii game. But the rest of the game is smaller, with black bars about 40 pixels wide on all sides. I don't know if it's a Wii emulation issue or what, but I started cropping the black bars out of every video, which doubled the editing time.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Backlog Clearing

I did a series of backlog clearing videos last week, when I noticed there are about ten games that have come out this year, which I'm interested in.



I'm hoping to use these videos to gauge people's interest in these games, because I personally like all of them, and if it were up to me, I'd do walkthroughs for all of them.

Wait. It IS up to me to decide which games to walkthrough. Well, then. It'd still be nice to know which ones are popular, so I know what games to start working on first.