Saturday, July 31, 2010

Three Things

1. It's August, everyone! That's the last month of summer, so...I hope all your summer projects are wrapping up.

I have three or so summer projects left to be completed. One is the video walkthrough for Super Mario Galaxy 2, and another is the video walkthrough for Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney: Investigations. I'm working steadily on them, but I don't know when they'll be done.

My other project is editing a rather longish e-book (about 100,000 words long). It's gone through the first three or so phases of editing alreay. [Edit: "already"] Now, I just need to make all the links work, and read through the entire thing one more time, looking for typos or grammatical errors.

2. @ Joker's-Gurl: That's an amazing story. I'm glad I was able to help, even if I didn't know it. It's really amazing how often people help each other without being aware of it. I can think of times in my life when someone has made a huge difference to me...and I'm sure if I told the person about it, he/she wouldn't remember.

It's a good lesson for people to know. People generally want to do big, important things in their lives, but oftentimes, it's the small, unimportant things you do that end up making a huge difference for others. Like smiling at other people and making them feel welcome. I don't think it's a big deal when I do that to people, but I've met with a few people who told me afterwards that it was a really big deal for them.

So, be good to other people. You'll help them more than you know.

3. Several people have told me that the Avatar Aliens are actually called Na'vi.

As in...Navi, Link's fairy friend in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?



That's awesome.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Driver's License

Well, my little sister took her driving test recently, and she...passed on the first try! No doubt, due to my excellent driving advice, such as "Try not to hit any hot dogs carts" and "If you go over 88 miles an hour here, you'll travel back to 1955".

Now she's spending all her free time looking up cars on the Internet, because she wants a brand new car. There is no way she is actually going to get a brand new car, but she hopes to get one anyway. Personally, I am hoping that I will get a spiffy, brand new car, and she can have my old one. I want to get a hybrid car, or something else that's environmentally friendly. I don't care if it's the ugliest car ever; if it has no emissions and gets 100 miles to the gallon, I'm a-buyin' it.

Of course, this speculation is all moot, because I don't make enough money to afford monthly car payments.

My sister showed me her license tonight, and it's funny because they messed it up. They have a picture of her face, taken in front of a blue background, like on most licenses. However, the printer must have colored the background last, not first, because the entire picture is blue. So, yes, my sister's face has a blue-ish tint on her license photo. It looks like she's one of those Avatar aliens. Ha!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Secrets Can Kill Covers

Our friends at the Nancy Drew company recently released some cover artwork for their upcoming game, Secrets Can Kill. Which one of the three covers do you like best?

Number One
Number Two
Number Three

I think I like numbers one and three the best, but I can't help but wonder...is the girl in Number 2 supposed to be Connie Watson?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cell Phone Mania

In my last blog post about awkward cell phone moments, I forgot to mention something that's happened to me a few times.

I'll be walking along, minding my own business when someone who's passing by says, "Hello!" or otherwise starts talking to me out of the blue. I talk back, wondering who this person is and why she is talking to me. Eventually, I realize she's not talking to me at all; she's talking on her cell phone, and she doesn't realize I exist. I end up feeling like a huge idiot.

Back in college, this happened to me a few times. In fact, I wrote a scene called about it for the on-campus TV station. The idea is that they would do a split-screen effect to show the different people on their cell phones, but it never got picked up for filming. Oh well.

Here's the script of "Cell Phone Mania".

---

SCENE: Outside of Nobili Hall. SIMON leaves the building. BETH is sitting down on the steps, talking to JILL on her cell phone, but SIMON does not notice the cell phone.

BETH
So, how's it going?

SIMON
Um...fine. How are you?

BETH
I'm doing great. So what are you up to tonight?

SIMON
I was going to stay at home and watch a movie or something. Why?

BETH
(to SIMON)
Listen, weirdo, shut up. I don't want to talk to you!
(to JILL)
No, not you! I...
(to SIMON)
Great, now my friend just hung up on me. Way to go.

SIMON
Sorry, I didn't know you were on your cell phone.

BETH
You call her up, and you apologize!

SIMON
Um, okay...

SIMON takes BETH's phone and calls JILL.

JILL
Beth, I don't want to talk to you right now. You called me a weirdo!

SIMON
I'm not Beth. This is Simon.

JILL
Oh, really? Wait...I don't know any Simons. Who are you?

SIMON
I'm just this guy. I have [hair color] hair, [general description].

JILL
Mmm. You sound like a nice person.

SIMON
Well, what do you look like? You sound like a nice person, too.

BETH
Quit flirting with her! Just apologize already!

SIMON
I'm not flirting with her!

JILL
Flirting with who?

SIMON
You.

JILL
Oh, yeah, you probably shouldn't flirt with me. I went out with someone last night.

SIMON
Well, was it just a date or is he like your boyfriend or something?

BETH
She has a boyfriend? Give me the phone.

BETH steals the phone from SIMON.

BETH
Jill, you didn't tell me you had a boyfriend!

JILL
Wait, Beth? Is that you?

BETH
Yeah, yeah. So tell me about this boyfriend. Who is he?

JILL
Well, his name is Joe Angelo, and—

BETH
Joe Angelo? Who's he?

SIMON
Wait a minute, Joe Angelo! That's my roommate! Give me the phone!

SIMON tries to steal the phone away from BETH, but she holds onto it.

BETH
Get your own phone!

SIMON
Fine!

SIMON pulls out his phone and calls JOE.

JOE
Yo, Simon, what's up?

SIMON
Dude, Joe, you didn't tell me you had a date last night.

JOE
You heard about that? It wasn't really a big deal.

JILL
Yes! He's sooo cute!

BETH
Is he a good kisser?
(to SIMON)
Ask him if he's a good kisser.

SIMON
Um, are you a good kisser?

JOE
Dude!

SIMON
It's not me! Beth wants to know.

JOE
Who's Beth?

SIMON
Some girl who wants to know if you're a good kisser.

JOE
(joking)
Isn't that every girl?

SIMON
(to Beth)
He says every girl wants to know if he's a good kisser.

BETH
Ew, what a sleazeball.

JILL
Who's a sleazeball?

BETH
Don't worry, I'll take care of things. Give me the phone.

BETH takes SIMON'S phone and gives him hers.

SIMON
So, uh, hey Jill. It's me again.

JILL
Hey, uh...

SIMON
Simon.

JILL
Right, Simon.

SIMON
So, um...it likes like you're going out with my roommate.

JILL
What? No, Joe told me he has a single room.

SIMON
Huh? He doesn't have a single room. He's my roommate!

JILL
He lied to me? That jerk! Tell Beth to put him on the line!

SIMON
Uh, okay.

SIMON turns around and taps BETH on the back.

BETH
(angrily)
And if you try any of your sleaze tricks with my friend Jill, I will personally send you to the hospital.
(to SIMON)
WHAT?

SIMON
Jill wants to talk to Joe.

BETH
Oh, okay.

BETH puts her phone up against SIMON'S.

JILL
Joe, it's Jill. You didn't tell me you had a roommate!

JOE
You didn't tell me you had a psycho friend who goes crazy whenever somebody makes a joke!

JILL
(gasps)
How dare you! Beth is not a psycho! She's my best friend!

JOE
Yeah, well, birds of a feather flock together! She's psycho, and so are you!

JILL
You jerk! I'm never going out with you again!

JOE
My feelings exactly!

JILL and JOE hang up. SIMON and BETH are left, holding the two phones together. They both put their phones away and stare at each other for a second.

SIMON
So, uh...

BETH
Beth.

SIMON
So, uh, Beth.
(pause)
See ya!

BETH
Bye!

They leave. THE END.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Awkward Phone Moments

I just realized today that I tend to pause during my phone calls so the other person can talk. Is that weird? I think it's pretty normal, and leads to perfectly ordinary conversations like this:

Me: Hello, this is Michael.
(I pause to let the other person talk.)
Other Person: Hello! How's it going?

Today, however, I was on the phone with some woman who did not understand the concept of pausing to let the other person talk. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hello, I'm Michael Gray. I'm calling from [location].
(I pause to let the other person talk.)
Lady: (doesn't say anything)
(Pause becomes awkward.)
Lady: (obviously thinking I'm weird for stopping in mid-sentence) Okay...what do you want?

My question is, "Was I being an ordinary phone caller, or am I some kind of freaky pause-taker?"

Speaking of awkward phone moments, have you ever had a situation where the person you called hung up, but you didn't know it? That's happened to me a few times. I just kept talking, thinking the other person was still listening, and eventually I reached the awkward moment where I realized he hung up a minute ago.

Another weird phone moment I had was when someone called me at 1:30 AM and woke me up. It was a wrong number, but I kind of wish I had continued the phone conversation instead of hanging up. I mean, I went through all the trouble of waking up to answer the phone; I should have at least had the phone conversation, right? At the very least, that's a good premise for a one-act play or something like that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

DSi XL

A few days ago, I bought a DSi XL, which is the latest handheld videogame device. I think I mentioned getting a DSi when talking about digital devices last month.

Well, the DSi is mainly a videogame-playing device, but it also comes with some other standard handheld device features, like a camera and a microphone. That means it can take pictures and record sounds (for ten seconds in a row, oh boy!). It also has an SD slot (ie. place for you to put a memory card into), which you can use to copy photos and play music.

There's also a message program where you can send messages to other people with DSis, or to your Facebook or whatever, but it's the "select one letter at a time" scheme, where you have to wait two seconds in between each letter selection. It's not good for writing.

Question: Does the Internet work on it?

Answer: Kind of!

I ran the Internet program through the toughest challenge it's ever faced: going to this blog. The blog entries came out perfectly fine! The pictures? Not so much. When I tried going to a website that has a lot of pictures (Facebook), the Internet started dying, and I couldn't do much of anything.

Conclusion: Internet is very good, if you only want to read text.

And you know, I don't mind using it for just reading books and stories and stuff. It's pretty handy to have a handheld book reader, in case I ever need one. Mainly, though, I'm going to use my DSi for playing videogames, because that's what it's made for.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Relay for Life

Today, they had the Relay for Life across the street. The Relay for Life is basically a walk-a-thon sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I'm alive, so I thought I'd participate.

They had a lot of booths there, for the various organizations that sponsored teams. For example, the Cancer Survivors had a team, as did the YMCA and Sacred Heart Catholic Church (my team). Team Edward was there, too, although they couldn't stay out in the sun too long without suffering from Sparkle Overload.

They had a band playing music, and a lot of people were there to hang out with their friends and talk. My favorite person was the guy who was throwing a frisbee at various passers-by, trying to get them to throw it back. The frisbee bounced out of my hand twice, but I was able to throw it back to him perfectly every single time.

I stayed for about a half-hour, doing ten laps in all. I got a free t-shirt for the American Cancer Society, which is really nice. If I had known they were giving out t-shirts, I wouldn't have shown up in my clerics. Walking for a half-hour in an all-black suit is kind of tough!

All in all, it was a very nice event, and definitely worth attending. I don't know how much money I raised to help fight cancer, but I hope it was a lot. Protecting life is really important, now more than ever.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trailer

Hey, we have a trailer for Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Remastered!



It's mostly a bunch of scenery in this video, but we also see some death sequences.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shadow at the Water's Edge Question

Okay, so I have a question about the preview for the next Nancy Drew game.



Right at the beginning, Nancy says that she's going to Japan with her friends Bess and George. Does that mean Bess and George will be in this game? Because we got to see Bess and George were in Ransom of the Seven Ships and that was totally awesome, and I would be 100% okay with it if they brought back their characters.

Or will it be like Secret of Shadow Ranch, where Nancy is supposed to go on vacation with Bess and George, but Bess and George don't actually show up, and you can only call them on your cell phone?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trilogies

WARNING: Ancient Greek Nerd Attack!

You know what kind of bugs me? Trilogies. It bugs me when a movie/game/what have you is so popular that it gets two sequels, and then everyone pretends its a trilogy.

For example, take the Toy Story movies. They made one in 1995, one in 1999 and one in 2010. Clearly, the three movies were not made together. But people say it's a trilogy anyway, just because they're three of them.

That bugs me. A trilogy is different from a series with three separate installments. A trilogy is a series with three unified installments, specifically designed to go together.

Sometimes, I think that the only legitimate kind of trilogy is something like Aeschylus' Oresteia, a series of three plays about Orestes. The three plays were performed once, all on the same day. There was no way to see one play separately; you either saw all three or none of them, because they go together. Now that's a unified trilogy.

I don't think we have any trilogies today which are unified like that. Even with trilogies like the Lord of the Rings movies, the three installments were released separately, not all together. Seeing the movies as a group was not possible; people were forced to see them separately. That's very different from the Ancient Greek scheme where you had to see all three plays at once, because they were not performed separately (or multiple times).

The sad part is that most of the Ancient Greek plays got lost over the past few thousand years, so we no longer can enjoy them in the original trilogy format. For example, you can't read the Prometheus trilogy because we only have one of the three plays, Prometheus Bound. That's really unfortunate, because I want to read what happens in the next two plays of the trilogy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Pictures of Polychrome

So here's another picture of Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter. The person who illustrated the Oz books was such a good drawer.



Several years ago, I decided I wanted to draw like him, so I tried doing my own pictures of Polychrome. They didn't all turn out so well, but it was an interesting drawing experiment.





Saturday, July 17, 2010

800

I have just been informed that my latest Super Mario video is video #800. As in, this is the 800th video on my Youtube account.



It's technically not video #800 for me, because I've done some video walkthroughs on other channels, but still! Video #800! I didn't know I made so many. I might have tried harder on the commentary for this video if I knew it was so special. I think the only part of the commentary I worked on was the part where I talked about The Road to Oz.

Speaking of that book, here's a picture from it. It's supposed to be a picture of Polychrome the Rainbow's Daughter being taken back on the rainbow, but it's kind of hard to see:



It turns out the picture is supposed to be in color. The color really helps make it look like they're rainbow fairies.



I'll have more pictures about Polychrome tomorrow, but in the meantime, eight hundred videos! Wow!

Friday, July 16, 2010

???

There were three open rooms when I moved in this summer, and I chose the one facing the street because I thought it would have a nice view. I didn't realize that there would be, like, actual CARS going down the street.

The traffic lasts all day long, pretty much. It's sometimes hard to get to sleep at night.

But tonight, I was trying to get to sleep, when I heard some kind of college kid party going on. You know, music being played at ridiculously high levels so that I can still hear it even though I'm 30 feet away and inside a house. Plus, everyone screams every two seconds.

Needless to say, I didn't go to parties when I was at college. That's not exactly my idea of fun.

So this loud, bad music is playing and people are screaming near-constantly for ten minutes, and I'm wondering what the heck is going on because it's 10:30 and I just want to go to sleep. I finally look out the window and I see that it's not a party at one of the nearby houses...it's a bike party.

At 10:30 PM.

All these bikes are going down the street, and the people on the bikes are screaming their heads off. There are cars every now and then, and the cars are playing the bad music. SERIOUSLY? A drunken bicycle party? And it HAS to go down my street as part of its route?

Why can't people just leave alone and let me go to sleep? And why are there so many of them?

30 minutes later...

Okay, now that it's 11:00, things have cooled down, because they all biked past my house. I have a horrible feeling that they're going to come back at 2:00 AM or something, returning to whatever pit that drunken partygoers crawl out of.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Newsletter

The Nancy Drew folks released a new newsletter today, and it is pretty much awesome.

It's all about the upcoming remake of the first Nancy Drew game. The updated graphics look pretty awesome, I must say. There are only two pictures of the new graphics, one of which is of Hulk Sanchez, which I think looks really cool. Seems like a good jump from 2D to 3D to me!

Question: Will they have new people doing the voices for this game? I wouldn't mind so much if they use the current Bess and George, instead of the original Bess and George.

The game is coming out near the end of next month. I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pictures!

I've got pictures today! Here are two pictures of me inside the Bloodmobile. We had a literal blood drive that day; I stopped by to give blood after lunch. This was back in April, when I had a beard.





About two minutes after those pictures were taken, the lady came by and hooked me up on the machine. She said she couldn't find the vein, because I was too nervous. I don't know why being nervous makes your veins hard to find, but apparently it does. We tried both arms, and she said I could leave without donating.

Oh well. At least I tried to give blood. Next year, maybe I won't be so scared!

However, I am definitely scared in Picture #3, which was taken on Top Gun, the big roller coaster at Great America. It was my first time on the roller coaster, and nobody told me that it goes upside-down.



The roller coaster was more fun than I thought it would be, once you get over the whole "I'm going to die" feeling. It's definitely good prep for next year's blood drive!

Crystal Skull, Test Video #2 is Up

All right, I made a second test video for recording Legend of the Crystal Skull. Compared to test video #1, the sound should be better, and the video should be larger.

What do you guys think about the animation quality, though? Is it good or bad? Should I go with this kind of recording, or jump back to the first test recording (using the enhanced audio, of course)?

I know it has to be better than the quality in my first run of the game, because I didn't learn about the ability to change the recording quality from "choppy" to "smooth". What company makes "choppy" their default recording setting?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Crystal Skull, Video One Up

Okay, it was unanimous! People want to see me replay Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull. So for my recording experiment, that's the game I played.

Good News: I recorded 47 minutes of material in a row, with no breaks at all. That's a step up from having to take a break every three minutes.

Bad News: For some reason, there's an inch of black surrounding the video.

Also Bad News: It's hard to hear the characters talking.

The first video of the series is here for you all to see. Let me know what you think. Keep going with this? Stop and start over so the video is fullscreen and you can hear what Henry is saying? I'm kind of leaning towards, "Good experiment, but redo it so it's better quality".

Also, what should I do with the original walkthrough for Legend of the Crystal Skull if I do a new one? Delete it entirely, or save it somewhere as a novelty? Where could I save it, though?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Games?

In response to comments on my last blog entry about driving, I would like to deny any and all rumors that I crashed into a hot dog cart during my driver's test in Los Gatos. They don't even have hot dog carts in downtown Los Gatos; I don't know why the woman who failed me started that silly rumor.

Also, my TV needs to start airing Full House reruns when I'm not at work, because my memory of the episodes is apparently failing.

Tomorrow, I need to test out some computer filming to see if it's possible to record a computer game for an extended period of time. Right now, my upper limit is about five minutes, which isn't much. I haven't figured out which game to play yet, though. So, any suggestions? Computer games I have available are...

  • Samantha Swift 2
  • Treasure Mathstorm, and the other Super Solver games
  • A lot of Nancy Drew games I already played
  • Demos for the Nancy Drew games
  • Pajama Sam 3
  • Pajama Sam 4
  • Spy Fox 1-3
  • Putt-Putt Travels Through Time
  • Chaos or Curse of Monkey Island, if I can make them work (which is doubtful)
  • Pepper's Adventures In Time
  • Oregon Trail (again?)
  • Ancient Adventures
  • Dino Park Tycoon
  • And maybe I could try one of those King's Quest games that sound pretty good.

Any of those games really stand out to you as good to play through? Most of them are games from the last century.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Driving

My sister's birthday is tomorrow, which means she's going to take her driver's test soon. Yes, the same little sister that almost crashed into a bus. I don't know how good her chances are at passing the exam.

My parents trust her more than me when it comes to driving. She's allowed to pull the car into the garage. I still have to park on the other side of the street, just because I hit the side of the house that one time.

Video re-enactment of me driving:



Hitting the house wasn't a big deal. It was more of a side-swipe than a full-on collision, and the sliver of wood that fell off afterwards was smaller than my hand. But Mom and Dad still refuse to let me park anywhere near the house again.

Too bad life isn't like the Full House where Michelle accidentally drove through a wall of the house. I forget how that episode ended, but I'm willing to bet that Michelle didn't get in trouble at all. Now if Stephanie had done it, she would have been grounded for life, but Michelle never gets in trouble, ever, because she brings in the high ratings. That's so unfair.

I think there was also an episode where DJ got into a minor car accident when Uncle Jesse was giving her driving lessons in Danny's car. I think I'd better pull out the Full House DVDs and do a marathon until I find this episode, just to double-check.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Villains, Speeches and Socks

I finished my fanfic for Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister. It's up on Fanficion.net now! The story contains minor spoilers for the game.

---

"You make sure to give him the old one-two for me, ND!" P.G. Krolmeister said enthusiastically.

"Will do," Nancy promised.  "Now if you'll excuse me, Mr. Krolmeister, I have a saboteur to confront."

She hung up her phone and mentally prepared herself.  It was time to bring this mystery to a close.

So far, she had confronted all of the suspects about their misdeeds, to no avail.  She had talked with Chase about the oil, Frosty about the "missing" video footage, Debbie about her plan to get Scott fired, and she even cornered Scott about his secret meetings with Brooke.  Nobody confessed to being the culprit.

And that left only one more suspect: Pa.

Nancy stepped into Ma and Pa's General Store and marched over to the front desk.

"Well, howdy, Nancy!" Pa said.  "How's my favorite customer?"

"All right, Pa, the jig is up," Nancy said, jumping into Sassy Detective Accusation Mode.  "I know it's you."

"Who—what now?" the kindly old man asked.  "What're you talkin' about, Nancy?  I haven't done anything 'cept mind my store."

"You're the one behind the sabotage at Canute College," Nancy said.  "You've had a grudge against Scott ever since he failed to report that one tornado on time...the tornado that killed Ma."

Pa's face turned cold.  "So you found out, didja?" he said.  "Found out about the twister that killed my wife?"

"Scott has a copy of the obituary in his room," Nancy said.  "He still feels terrible about what happened—"

"It's all his fault!" Pa cried.  "If it wasn't for him, Ma would still be alive!  He killed her, and he deserves to pay for it!"

Pa slammed his fist onto the counter in front of him, baring his teeth in anger.  Nancy took a step backwards, ready to run out of the door in case this encounter turned deadly.

Pa grinned and stood back up.  "So how was that?" he asked.

"How was...what?" Nancy asked.

"Why, my acting, of course!  Looks like I fooled you again...Nancy Drew," Pa said, only he didn't sound like Pa any more.

Pa removed his glasses, and pulled off his wig.  "Remember me, Nancy?" the man asked.

"Brian Powers!" Nancy said.  "The man who kidnapped Bess on Dread Island!"

"My name is Dwayne, you idiot!" Dwayne shouted.  "Dwayne Powers!  Sheesh, for a super genius detective, you sure are bad with names!"

"Dwayne Powers, right," Nancy said.  She knew exactly who Dwayne was; she just liked to make him upset because it was fun.  "I thought you were busy searching for Cibola."

"Oh, I'm going to find the Lost City of Gold someday," Dwayne said.  "But I decided to take a break from villainy for a while to meet up with some of my out-of-state relatives.  I haven't seen them in a while, you know?"

"Um, right," Nancy said, not sure why Dwayne was talking about his family.

"Imagine my surprise when I learned one of my cousins knows you.  In fact, thanks to your meddling, he was sent to prison!  Naturally, as soon as I spoke with him, I knew we'd have to team up together and defeat you, once and for all!"

Nancy rolled her eyes and snuck a peek at her watch.  The police said they would be there in five minutes.  Surely, she could get Dwayne to babble about unimportant things until then.

A second man appeared behind the counter and put his hand on Dwayne's shoulder.  "Remember me, Nancy?" he said, in a voice which sounded identical to Dwayne's.

Why do criminals always want me to remember them? Nancy wondered.  She looked intently at this newcomer.  Fluffy brown hair...a flannel shirt that had gone out of style decades ago...

"You're that guy I met in Washington," Nancy deduced.  "The one who put a harness on the lost orca whale!  Andy Jason!"

"Exactly!" Andy said.  "I was one day away from finishing my last smuggling job, and you had to ruin it!"

Andy was about two seconds away from a long rant—apparently, giving dramatic speeches ran in the family—but a memory about Andy tickled the inside of Nancy's brain, and she gave voice to her thought.

"Wait...weren't you the one I defeated with a beach ball?" Nancy asked.

Andy's face fell.  "A...beach ball?"

"Yeah!" Nancy said.  "I remember now!  I threw a beach ball in the water, and the orca threw it back because it plays catch!  That was so cute!"

Dwayne looked confused.  "You were defeated by a beach ball?" he asked.

"It was an air tank," Andy said.  "You know, the kind scuba divers use?"

"I'm pretty sure it was a beach ball," Nancy said.  She distinctly remembered playing beach ball catch with the orca.

"I did not get defeated by a plastic toy!" Andy yelled.

"If you say so," Nancy said.  "It was still the most hilarious escape ever.  Bess and George made me act it out, like, ten times."

Andy growled furiously.  "That's it, Nancy!  I'm going to destroy you!"

The counter was still in between Nancy and the two villains, so she felt relatively safe.  Still, she decided it would be best to stop Andy before he did something dangerous.  She grabbed a Krolmeister Salad Cannon off of a nearby shelf, and threw in the first soft thing she could find: four pairs of blue socks.

Andy furiously jiggled at the door which led to the side of the counter.  "Why—won't—it—open?!" he cried.

"You have to hold the lock up while pushing," Dwayne explained.

"Hey, Andy!" Nancy cried.

Andy looked up from the stuck door and turned his face towards Nancy.  "What?" he asked.

"Say good night," Nancy grinned, pointing the Krolmeister Salad Cannon right at his face.  She pressed the ON button, and the eight blue socks went flying at Andy's face.

"Nuts," Andy said, spinning in a circle and falling down.

Dwayne was silent for a moment before he could find his voice.  "You defeated my cousin with socks?" he asked, amazed.

"And a salad maker," Nancy said, smugly.  She would have to thank P.G. Krolmeister for that particular invention when this was all over.

"Not bad," Dwayne said.  "But I must admit, the man had no talent! I'm the star of this evil operation!  You're still in big trouble, Nancy!"

"If you say so," Nancy said.  By now, she was so used to confronting criminals that it didn't even phase her anymore.  So far, she had been led on six high-speed chases, captured seven culprits in clever traps, and escaped from a locked area twelve times.  Dwayne didn't stand a chance.

Dwayne leaped on top of the counter and struck a dramatic pose.  "Next time, if there is a next time, watch upon whose toes you step, Nancy Drew!"

Dwayne then surprised Nancy by turning around and running straight for the Employees Only door.

"Hey!" Nancy cried.  It looked like this encounter would be a chase after all.  "You can't get away that easily!"

She ran into the Employees Only room after Dwayne.  It was a tiny area, not much bigger than four feet by four feet wide.  The only thing inside it was a large pipe running from ceiling to the floor.  Before Nancy had time to wonder where Dwayne had escaped to, the door shut itself behind her, trapping her inside.

"A trap!" she said.  "I should have known."

When she had been in similar situations before, the culprit had tried to drown her.  This time, however, Pa Pennies started raining down from the ceiling.  In a matter of minutes, the room would be full of Pa Pennies, and she wouldn't be able to move.

"There must be a way out of here!" Nancy said.   The door was locked—naturally—and she didn't have her lock-breaking hairpin with her at the moment.  She turned her attention to the only other thing in the room: the pipe.

On the pipe were six knobs, each with the numbers 1 through 10 written on them.  Above the knobs were a series of clues.

The first number is the same as the fourth number.
The third number and the second number put together is twice as much as the fourth number.
The sixth number is...

"I don't have time for more logic puzzles," Nancy grumbled.  "Oh well.  At least it's not mice catching again.  Let's try...1 1 1 1 1 1."

She spun the knobs to that formation, and amazingly, it worked.

"Thank you, Junior Mode!" Nancy said to herself.

As soon as the knobs spun into place, the back wall of the room opened, giving her access to the next room.  This room contained the exit to the general store, as well as an old man who was tied up in the corner.

"Pa!" Nancy cried.




Dear Ned,

Well, it looks like Dwayne Powers got away again, but at least we managed to catch Andy.  I don't think he's going to be bothering me again for a while, though.  The last I heard, he developed a huge fear of socks and refuses to be anywhere near someone who's wearing them.  He's now living on a hippie ranch, where he can't harm anyone ever again.

When I rescued Pa, he said that Dwayne and Andy knocked him out shortly after I started work on the mystery.  Apparently, their plan was to give me a case that I couldn't solve, which would ruin my reputation as a super sleuth.  Too bad for them their plan didn't work out so well.

In any case, I can't wait to get home soon and act out my defeat of Andy for you.  It's hilarious, trust me.

Love,
Nancy

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister

Adventure strikes again in Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister, and I am proud to say that my video walkthrough for this game is now complete!

The game was finished in 21 videos, and there are a number of bonus videos, including death scenes, easter eggs, bloopers and three music videos.

I had a lot of fun while making this video walkthrough, and it's always interesting to see the comments that people make. Some people pick up on things I didn't even notice, like the fact that Frosty mentions Lori Gerard at one point. Some people make convincing arguments for why one suspect or another is the real culprit. And some people just want to be the first to comment on a video with an insightful comment like, "First!"

Sometimes, I think I do a bad job of commentary. For example, at the part of the game where Nancy confronts Frosty, I wanted to say something along the lines of, "And now, it's time for Nancy to go into Sassy Detective Accusation Mode again!" But instead, I flubbed my line and did a slight improv by saying, "I'm going to confront Frosty: one on one, sassy detective to bald-headed guy!". A lot of comments on the video are about how funny the bald-headed guy line is. So the moral of the story is that sometimes, messing up my commentary works for the best!

I think that tomorrow, I'm going to write a short fanfiction about Trail of the Twister, where the culprit is really Dwayne Powers and his villainous new cohort.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Michael Sees Toy Story 3

The first thing I realized while watching Toy Story 3 is that I hate having to watch 20 minutes of not Toy Story 3 before the movie starts. And no, you can't just show up 20 minutes late to the movie, because there are no more seats left when that happens.

I know I complain about previews every time I see a movie, but back when I was a kid, they would only have one preview before a movie, and even then, everyone would fast-forward through it on the VCR machine.

When I first heard about the plot to the movie, I said, "That sounds like The Brave Little Toaster," which is a movie the Toy Story guys made before Pixar. And sure enough, the movie did remind me of The Brave Little Toaster, especially since both movies have big dramatic finales at the exact same location.

I'm told that I'm not allowed to give spoilers about the movie...which kind of makes it hard to write about the movie. I mean, how can I talk about the movie if I'm not allowed to talk about things that are in the movie?

Buzz is cool in this movie, but that's because Buzz is usually cool. Woody is his normal self. I never really liked Woody. He's not very funny. Plus, he throws too many hissy fits for my tastes. But underneath all that, he's very concerned about his friends, which is nice of him. I still like Buzz better.

The movie is on the same par as the other Toy Story movies. If you liked the other ones, you'll like this one, which is good. I haven't seen any Pixar movies since "The Incredibles", which I didn't like very much--it's a well-done movie; I just didn't like it--so I'm glad to see they made another film I liked.

I should see "Up", but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I saw a bit of "Ratatouille", and it looked okay, but the characters had French accents which were too thick for me to understand. My friend Paul says he fell asleep halfway through that movie, but since I started watching halfway through, that wasn't a problem.

Question: Why don't they have songs in Pixar movies? They had a few songs in Toy Story, especially that "You've Got a Friend in Me" song that they play a lot, but you never see the characters sing, like they do in, say, The Jungle Book. I know Walt Disney insisted on songs in his movies because he was a major fan of music, but do people not like songs in their animated movies anymore?

Side-note: For Monsters, Inc., they originally had Mike and Sully sing a song during the ending credits, but they replaced that with bloopers after a few weeks, as a sort of gimmick to get people to see the movie in theaters again. I kinda liked that song better than the bloopers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Illinois, Part Three

On Wednesday, we had breakfast, said goodbye to all the Polish relatives, and took a three hour car drive back to Chicago.

That was when the bad weather struck.

I thought it was pretty crazy. After all, the newest Nancy Drew game is about storms in the midwest, and I was actually in the midwest at the time, being attacked by storms.

Thunderstorms were there in full force, and even though thunder and lightning aren't so frightening, it was pretty bad. You couldn't play the "count the number of seconds in between the lightning and thunder" game because they occurred simultaneously.

There was also, believe it or not, a tornado alert for the county next to us. It turns out the sound effects they used for the tornado alert in Trail of the Twister are 100% accurate.

There was even a report of an earthquake in Canada, although I'm not so sure about that one.

Naturally, our flight out of O'Hare Airport was cancelled. They cancelled over 500 flights, so we got to stay in Illinois another day. Dad was happy because it gave him time to buy some Chicago Blackhawks gear, because the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the first time in over forty years. Good for them!

I was happy, because I found out that we were fifteen minutes away from the National Shrine of St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Therese is more commonly known as The Little Flower, and she's a Doctor of the Church.



I accidentally came a half-hour early, but Fr. Bob, the Carmelite who is in charge of the area, let us in ahead of time. He last assignment was in California, and he was a really friendly person.

They had a lot of great things there, like statues and the largest wood carving in the United States, which took up an entire wall. There was an antique rosary collection (going back to the 1400's) and statues of Our Lady of Mount Carmel from all over the world.

Most of all, they had relics from St. Therese, like her childhood toys, letters she wrote, and so on. There were also a ton of photographs of her, because she lived in the late 1800's, and her sister was a bit of a shutterbug. Just like how the Lincoln Museum had a different picture of Lincoln for every year he spent as the President, they had a different picture for every year she spent as a nun.

The best relic, I'd say, is the chair they had from her convent. THE chair she used while writing her autobiography.



I got to make a relic card from the chair, which means I touched my relic card to the chair for a second or two. It was, I imagine, like being in the center of a hurricane or tornado: a tremendous effusion of wind concentating on a single point. At least, that's what it felt like.

The whole pilgrimage was a very moving experience. St. Therese was such a good person; I wish I could have met her. She was only 24 when she died. That's my age.

24 years old, and already a saint. It gives me pause. If she can be a saint at that age, why can't I? I think that's the topic of Frank Duff's pamphlet "Can We Be Saints?" (which I've never been able to find a copy of): why there should be no reason to stop anyone from living a saintly life.

We went to the airport that afternoon, but the flight got delayed again. We ended up having to stay at the airport from about 2 to 6, which is about as long as the flight from California to Chicago takes. Needless to say, Dad and I were both bored out of our minds by the time we got home.

Tomorrow's blog entry: Michael sees Toy Story 3.