Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nancy Drew Files #9: Review



In today's book, Nancy is asked to recover a stolen diamond. She discovers it in the lost and found box.

*sigh*

I give Nancy Drew Files #9, False Moves, a two out of ten.

---

Hmmm...I guess I shouldn't end the review here. This book was published in March, 1987, one month after the previous book. You might remember that book ended with a dramatic breakup between Nancy and her longtime boyfriend, Ned Nickerson.

Well, Ned sure got over Nancy fast, because he's now dating a professional ballerina named Belinda Morrison. She's young, beautiful and successful; unlike Nancy, she pays attention to Ned and is worthy of his love. Needless to say, Nancy hates her guts.

The book opens with Nancy watching Belinda perform on national TV, while muttering nasty things about her. Belinda's dance partner is Katya Alexandrovna, who is wearing the famous Raja diamond pin. The show is interrupted when the lights go out for a minute. When the lights come back on, Katya is unconscious, and the diamond is missing.

*Oh no!!!*

Ned shows up on Nancy's doorstep the next day. He begs her to take the case and clear Belinda's good name. Nancy isn't thrilled about defending Ned's new girlfriend, but she decides to take the case! Personally, I think this book might have been more interesting if she stayed home and watched more TV.

This book sort of loses focus, partway through the investigation. It starts off in the normal fashion of Nancy investigating people one by one. Halfway through, the book completely gives up on that, and insists on pairing up the suspects like it's Junior Prom. Here are the three culprit couples:

Katya and Colby: Both of them are being forced into retirement this year, so not only do they need money, but they want revenge.

Ana and Andre: Their names sound similar, so they must be in cahoots.

Belinda and James: James the Manager likes Belinda so much that he gave her the lead in Giselle. Either they're up to something, or Ned has major boyfriend competition.

I know the cover indicates that Nancy runs into a topless hunk with girl shoes at one point, but this never happens. Sorry, ladies! Nancy _does_ run into a person dressed in all black, though. It's the culprit, who is in disguise, so they can break into the costume room and steal shoes.

Please note this makes little sense. Both culprits could have easily gone into the costume room, dressed normally, without raising any suspicions.

The next day, Nancy brings her new boyfriend to help investigate. He is Brad Eastman, and you know the relationship is never going to last, because Nancy insults him five times in two pages. The main problem with Brad is that he doesn't know how to solve mysteries correctly, but I dunno. Given Nancy's track record in this series, can we REALLY say that her detective methodology is foolproof?

However, the real fool here is Katya, the culprit. It turns out that Katya faked the robbery and hid the diamond inside her pointe shoe. However, she gave herself away by limping offstage on the wrong foot.

I congratulate Nancy on solving the case, but I question this mistake. Why did Katya limp on the wrong foot? Did she forget which of her legs is the weak one? How does she get an ANKLE injury from stuffing a diamond in her shoe's TOE? I thought ballerinas have superb foot control.

Part two of the plan was for Katya to swap the million-dollar shoes with an extra pair inside her purse. This plan was foiled, when Katya grabbed the wrong purse. Really? REALLY? How do you screw up a plan as simple as "put something in your purse"? When she switched shoes, how did she not notice the replacement pair was the wrong size? And did she REALLY expect to get away with hiding the diamond in her purse? If the police bothered to look into her bag, the plan would have been foiled!

Ever since Katya lost the million dollar shoes, she has been stealing every pair of shoes in the entire theater. All thirty ballerinas have five or six pairs, so Nancy figures that is over 300 pairs of shoes!

*sigh* Nancy, 6 shoes for thirty dancers is not 300 shoes. Someone get Nancy a calculator. Also, why is Katya stealing every shoe in sight? Shoes have labels! There is no reason to steal every pair of shoes in the building, if you're looking for a specific pair of Size 5 shoes.

Nancy goes to Katya and confronts her. Katya more or less admits her guilt and threatens to kill Nancy. I guess nothing interesting happened after that, because the book then skips ahead six hours. Belinda has magically learned all the parts to Giselle in under a week, and it's time for the big performance!

Nancy finds the million dollar shoes in the lost and found box, at the same time that Katy'a accomplice appears with a knife. Nancy runs backstage, and she decides it'd be safest to run through the six-inch gap behind the backdrop. You know, because that makes more sense than talking to one of the dozens of people there.

Nancy sidles over to the other side of the stage, with the culprit in pursuit. She sees Ned, and she throws the shoes to him with a football pass.

Now that the shoes are safe, it's fight time! The culprit must have lost his knife somewhere, because he gets in a big fist fight with Ned. The two of them end up onstage and interrupt the ballet by knocking over some scenery.

Belinda is SO FURIOUS with Ned for ruining her show that she dumps him right then and there. Ouch, harsh, Belinda! You shouldn't blame Ned for fighting a criminal! And besides, the show lasted for less than five minutes; you can easily restart from the beginning again.

Meanwhile, Nancy and Katya have a karate / ballet fight. I am not making this up. Nancy fights with karate moves, while Katya fights with ballet moves. Of course, Nancy wins.

Brad arrives, with the police. He called them to help protect Nancy, as soon as he saw the fights break out. Brad tells Nancy that contacting the police is what she should have done in the first place. Nancy then decides to break up with Brad, because their relationship is obviously not going to work.

I don't believe this, Nancy! You dumped your boyfriend for being worried about your safety? He has a legitimate point! There was a six-hour gap between Katya's confession and the ending scene. You had plenty of time to have Katya arrested!

Well, now that Nancy and Ned are single again, they make dinner plans, to celebrate a mystery solved. Ned kisses her on the cheek, and Nancy hopes they can be a couple again.

The end.

---

Post-Book Followup.

This book is bad, and as I said earlier, it pretty much falls apart halfway through. The culprit's plan makes no sense, and it has obvious holes in it, just so Nancy can figure out who the culprit is. In real life, the police would have caught the culprit immediately.

The romance drama in this book is a mixture of good and bad. I liked the scenes with Ned, and I liked the scenes with Belinda. But Nancy's new boyfriend, Brad? What was THAT all about? The book would honestly be better, without Nancy dating a guy she hates for no reason. He's absent for most of the book, so removing him from the story wouldn't make that much of a difference.

It's a disappointment that Nancy and Ned both find new partners, offscreen. The readers are told "Nancy has a new boyfriend now", without any explanation as to who the boyfriend is or how they started dating. That's a real letdown; I would have preferred an explanation. Nancy cheated on Ned with a couple of guys in previous books; it would have been better if she went back to one of them, instead of dating some random guy we've never heard of before.

This is not the worst Nancy Drew book ever, but I find very little to recommend it. I give Nancy Drew Files, False Moves, a 2 out of 10.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Schedule

The schedule for my YouTube Channel has been a little weird recently, so I figured I would let you readers pick what I upload next. Here are the various options:

  • Phoenix Wright 5, Case 4, Part 1
  • Phoenix Wright 5, Case 4 Part 2
  • Professor Layton 6, Chapter 2
  • Book Review for Baby-Sitters Club #2
  • Book Reviews for 4 Nancy Drew Notebooks (the series for 3rd graders)
  • Living Legends: Frozen Beauty (the fairy tale princess game that is a mix of Frozen and Snow White)
Just leave a comment here, saying which ones you're most interested in. I'll tally the scores later tonight, and start releasing them in order of most popular to least popular.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Big Hero 6

This year's Disney movie is called Big Hero 6. It's based on a Marvel license that I've never heard of.



From what I can tell, the plotline is "kids and marshmallow man have adventures". I don't care much for the typical movie trailer humor jokes--too much slapstick for my taste--but I suppose it seems interesting. Who wants to see this film?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Angry Birds Epic

I have an update on Angry Birds Epic! I've come up with a new strategy and restarted the game.

The premium currency in the game is golden coins. You want to get them, so you can buy the top-level equipment. As a rough estimate, the "golden coins only" equipment is 40% better than the equipment you get normally.

The downside is that all the equipment you get is tied directly to the level you're at, when you receive it. In other words, whenever you level up, your equipment becomes outdated. All level-ups are 10% across the board, so equipment doesn't become outdated too quickly, but still. Unless you're at the maximum level, 25, it's somewhat pointless to get the best equipment.

To get the premium currency, you either have to pay real money or win a daily battle.

My new strategy is to not progress through the game. I stopped as soon as possible, and now the only thing I do is fight the daily battle. Since I'm at the very beginning of the game, the daily battle is ridiculously easy. After all, I only have one character, who can't do any moves besides "attack".

I'll keep this up, until I get, I dunno, 300 gold coins or something. Then I'll go back to playing the game like normal.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Senate Vote

In the news this week, the Hobby Lobby case returned!

The Senate voted on a bill, which would have overridden the Supreme Court's decision concerning Hobby Lobby, by requiring all for-profit business to provide all 20 types of contraceptives. (The Supreme Court case ruled that Hobby Lobby only had to provide 16 types, due to religious objections against four of them).

The vote failed, by four votes. There were only four senators who did not vote along party lines. Three of them were Republican, while the other was the majority leader Harry Reid. I wonder why he voted against his own party's bill.

Political analysts believe the bill failed, because both parties are gridlocked against each other, and it's near impossible to pass any bills whatsoever because it went too far beyond its scope. That is, the Hobby Lobby case was about contraceptives coverage, but the proposed bill went beyond that and dealt with abortion coverage, too. Other analysts are saying the bill failed, because it didn't have the support of the leading Democrat.

People have been vocal on Twitter about the topic, using the slogan "not my boss's business". The argument is that birth control is a private matter, between a woman and her doctor. Her employer should have no say in the matter whatsoever. But if it's not her boss' business, why should her boss pay for it? Usually, when someone is financially responsible for something, they feel like they deserve to dictate what it's like. I can remember many times when my parents overrode my preferences, on the grounds that they were paying for something, so they had final control over it.

Maybe there can be a different middleman between people and their health care, besides employers. There are many people like me, whose employers have chosen not to provide health care, based on the type of work I do. If I had a choice between "no health care at all" and "health care which does not provide full contraceptive access", I'd take the latter.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

High School Musical 2

I recently rewatched High School Musical 2. I had forgotten that the movie ends with the villains being redeemed and becoming friends with everyone else, because the third movie pretends that didn't happen. They go right back to being villains. This is especially unfortunate for the male villain, because he had decided to stand up for himself and never be bossed around again. He instantly goes back to doing whatever his sister says.

I also forgot that there are some half-flirty scenes between the male villain and the hero's girlfriend. Why didn't they develop that into a subplot? It had the potential to be more interesting than half the movie.

In case you were wondering, the baseball song is still awful. Whoever choreographed the song clearly has no idea how baseball works. Players don't hold baseball bats like that, no player would bunt with the bases loaded, and the "home run hit" was really an easy infield out. Sure, it's technically possible those plays worked the way the dance number showed, but that would require multiple errors from the team on the field.

Zac Efron has Justin Bieber hair throughout the entire movie, which is interesting, because the High School Musical series predates Justin's career. My YouTube channel does, too. Gosh, High School Musical and I are older than I thought...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Party Conversations

I went to a party the other day, and I felt extremely out of place because the conversations revolved around things I know nothing about. These included:
  • Mechanical engineering. I'm sure what they are building is interesting, but debating which type of cooling tube is best goes way beyond my skill set.
  • HR Departments. I have never worked at a business big enough to have an HR department. I've only encountered the manager-type person, who doubles as HR whenever necessary.
  • Farming and irrigation systems. Apparently, pistachios require a lot less water to grow than oranges do. Fun fact of the day.
  • Building your own gun. Those wacky mechanical engineers, always building things which will probably kill people! I've never actually seen a gun in person.
  • Sermons. People started making jokes about priests, and how they always give long, boring sermons. I wisely decided to keep my mouth shut, since I've given about 50 sermons, most of them confined to a 300-word limit.
  • Class-C Licenses for Non-Profits. Okay, IRS people, now you're trying to prevent other people from joining the conversation.
did manage to hold my own at the start of the party, when the conversation was about baseball. That was basically the only conversation I was able to contribute to.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Celebrity Voice Actors

Disney recently announced the voices for its animated movie this year. They are mostly comedians I don't know about, from TV shows I don't know about.

Not to be a jerk, but I don't think I've ever been excited to find out that a particular celebrity is doing a voice for a children's movie. I suspect the target audience of five-year-olds doesn't care much, either. People make the argument that "parents who want to take their little kids to movies appreciate having celebrities do voices", but that seems like an invalid argument. If you are a parent who wants to take your little kid to the movies, the animated movie is more or less your only option, no matter who's doing the voices.

I dunno. There are some celebrities who are legitimately good at non-visual acting, but most don't seem to take it seriously. I've definitely seen movies where it feels like the majority of the dialogue was recorded on the first take. As in, the table read first take. With that sort of quality, I hope the studios are paying the celebrity voice actors by the hour, not by the movie!

Monday, July 14, 2014

BSC #1: Kristy's Great Idea

People requested it, so here's a review of the first Baby-Sitters Club Book:



I picked up a copy of the visual novel version, for review purposes, but it is almost literally the exact same as the book. None of the dialogue was changed at all. They removed one or two scenes, like the one that explains that the title "Baby-Sitters Club" desperately needs an apostrophe, but that's about it.

I kinda liked the visual novel better. Kristy was less of a self-centered jerk in the visual novel, because you got to see her do things, not just monologue about doing things.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

eBooks

It has come to my attention that all the eBooks that I edited in college give out a link to my old e-mail address. The e-mail address doesn't work anymore, and I'm not sure what to do.

I probably can't call Comcast and tell them, "Hey, keep this particular address blocked out forever, so no one can steal it and imitate me". Likewise, I probably can't call the eBook publishers and tell them, "Hey, recall every copy of the book and remove one line from them".

So...my apologies to any eBook fans who have tried to email me!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Josie 7 - The Mini-Man Menace

Episode 7 of Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space (AKA "Discount Version of Star Trek")is called "The Mini-Man Menace". The premise is that our heroes are captured by a tiny alien named Midgeco. Midgeco is planning on taking over the Earth, with his robot army.

The episode plays out almost exactly like Episode 8. There is a chase sequence, and our heroes are captured. They do a musical number, and they reprogram a robot to help them. There is an escape/chase sequence, and they manage to capture the villain of the week. As usual, the spaceship is reprogrammed to reach Earth, but Alexandra accidentally messes it up, and our heroes remain lost in space.

I didn't like the story or the villain in the episode. The aliens weren't very interesting at all. However, the animation was better than usual. Clearly, this was an episode done by the good storyboarder. You can tell by the fact that the characters are drawn from more than one angle. You can even see the backs of their heads, at one point! That is high-quality material, which rarely happened in the comic strip I drew in college.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Backloggery

I made myself a Backloggery to keep track of games I haven't finished yet.

The problem is that I have a lot of games to keep track of, so entering them all into the computer is going to take a while. I only entered my iPad games and the games that are physically here, in the room with me.

On a side note, I remembered why I dislike Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, which I believe is the first game in the series. I got stuck in a multi-wave battle, going up against overpowered enemies. The villains were all five levels higher than my characters, and it was impossible for me to level up, since all random battles were removed at that point. Winning the battle was out of the question, unless I got several lucky critical hits.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Games to Play

I moved recently, and I had to pack up all my videogames. I was going to post a list of every game I have, so you readers could vote on which games you want to see me play! Sadly, I forgot to do so.

You readers can still vote on which games you want to see me play, right? Give me some game suggestions! I've only got 16 different game demos on my computer now, which is clearly not enough.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Schedule

Here is the upcoming schedule for my channel, as of now:
  • Nancy Drew TV Show Reviews
  • Lost Lands: Dark Overlord
  • Phoenix Wright Case 4, Section 1
  • Nancy Drew Notebooks Reviews
  • Nancy Drew: Shattered Medallion: Awards Video
  • Nancy Drew: Shattered Medallion: Review
  • Professor Layton Chapter 2
After this, I'll probably go back and forth between Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright, until they're done. I'll also slip in other videogames occasionally, because recording 3DS games is frustrating.

I also have book reviews that I'm working on, in the background. Currently, I'm working on a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Supermystery and The Baby-Sitters Club. I will eventually set up a poll, to decide which book series I should review, rather than me picking at random.