Monday, October 31, 2011


Yesterday, everyone was encouraged to attend class dressed in a costume. I was the only one in my class who dressed up, though.  I guess the kids aren't big on dressing up in my new hometown.

I guess this means I should come up with a different costume at the last minute. Let me see...I think I'll go as a boy band reject.  All I have to do is dress, sing and dance badly.  Should be natural for me!

As it turns out, Halloween is pretty low-key here. We don't get trick-or-treaters at our house, so nobody even bothered to buy candy!  That's a travesty, if I've ever heard one.  I'll have to make up for it by buying extra discount candy tomorrow.

I should probably watch a scary movie or something, except I didn't bring any movies with me when I moved.  That and I don't own any scary movies, because the only one I really like is Evil Dead 2.  Hmmm.  Well, gee, I guess I'll just watch the horror movie episode of Total Drama Island, then.  Happy Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake

One of my friends is playing Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake for the first time.  She got it as a joke, and now she's really engrossed in the plot.

I don't really like Ghost Dogs, mainly because it's not character-driven.  Of all the games in the series, Ghost Dogs has the fewest amount of characters.  Also, I don't think the characters really reach their potential; they're just kind of boring and they don't do much, as opposed to being interesting and driving the plot forward.

But the plot of Ghost Dogs is pretty exciting.  The attack of the ghost dogs at the beginning is a real thriller.  Also, halfway through the game, the culprit knocks Nancy unconscious, then ties her up inside a shed.  The culprit then sets the shed on fire, in a blazen, er, brazen attempt to kill Nancy.  That's a pretty exciting way to set up an extended puzzle sequence of getting untied from the ropes, getting out of the shed and stopping the fire.

And this got me thinking.  The culprit in Ghost Dogs attacks Nancy and ties her up inside a burning building.  That's attempted murder.  In other games, the culprit usually just sends Nancy a semi-threatening message like "Stop investigating this case, or else!".  Attempted murder usually doesn't happen, outside of the "bad ending" to the games.

I never thought of the Ghost Dogs culprit as being particularly dangerous before.  Which culprit in the series do you guys think is the most dangerous?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

More on Pixar Movies

I posted about Monsters, Inc. a few days ago, and some of the things you guys said got me thinking.

Even though I'm not a really big fan of Monsters, Inc., I'm kind of looking forward to the prequel.  More than, say, the last few Pixar movies.

Oh, wait, that includes Toy Story 3.  That movie wasn't that bad.  I didn't think the prison break genre fit in with the other films in the series, but whatever.  I still enjoyed it.

Wikipedia says it cost $200 million to make Toy Story 3, which is more than the other two movies combined.  Yikes!

Anyway, where was I?  Right, I'm looking forward to Monsters University.  But then again, I'm not setting the bar too high for it.  I'm not expecting it to be knock-your-socks-off-better-than-the-original.  I'm just expecting it to be moderately entertaining.  I'll settle for that.

There are rumors of a Toy Story 4 and an Incredibles 2 in the works, but I don't know how credible these rumors are. Monsters University will be the third sequel in four movies, so maybe they should cool off with sequels for a while.

Meanwhile, here's the preview for Pixar's next non-sequel film, Brave.

The graphics look nice, but I have absolutely no idea what the plot of the movie is. The trailer makes it seem like some Scottish girl will kill bears with her bow and arrow...and that's about it. I'll wait for another trailer before deciding whether or not to see it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Professor Layton and the Last Specter

I just got my copy of the newest Professor Layton game, Professor Layton and the Last Specter.  I had so much with my recap of the third game that I'm going to recap this game, too.

The Last Specter is the first game in a prequel trilogy.  It starts off with a young Professor Layton meeting his spunky new sidekick, Emmy Altava.  She's a biker chick with a bow tie and a love of photography.  The first thing she does is cut in front of him while he's driving, then she slams on the brakes.  Layton stops his car to yell at her, but then she jumps into his car and drives off.

I think they were trying to show that Emmy is eager to work with the Professor, but instead, it sort of made her look like a kidnapper and a horrible driver, besides.  Don't worry, Emmy, we still like you.

Professor Layton and Emmy are going to Weirdnameville, which is a town that is being haunted by a humongous specter.  The specter only appears at night, when it's very foggy out.  The specter has also destroyed several homes, and it needs to be stopped immediately.

At the end of Chapter One, Layton first meets Luke, his sidekick from the other games.  Because this is the prequel trilogy, Luke is wearing his hideous prequel clothes.  Seriously, the boy is wearing ugly suspenders, and he's constantly frowning, probably because the other children make fun of his clothes.  Instead of the happy Luke we know and love, Prequel Luke is constantly scared, depressed and overly serious.

The first thing Prequel Luke does is predict that the world will end soon.  Five minutes later, the world ends.  GAME OVER.

No, wait, that's not it.  Luke says that the specter is going to appear in the north part of town that night, so our three heroes go over there to book a hotel room.  After all, Layton saw a Scooby Doo episode like this once, so he's sure that's the best way to catch the fake ghost.

That's as far as I've gotten so far.  Is the specter going to appear in the next chapter?   Why is Luke so depressed?  How does Luke know when and were the specter will appear?  And how does Emmy know the Professor, when he doesn't recognize her?  These questions will probably be answered next time I play the game, unless the world ends before then.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Halloween is coming up.  Do people have good costumes?

I've been told I should go as Peter Pan this year, because I look just like him.  I think that might have been a joke suggestion, though.

I want to wear my hobo costume, but I don't have enough time to grow my hobo beard, because I need to be clean-shaven on Sunday.  So instead, I'm going as Saint John Bosco.  I have the outfit; I just need to restyle my hair to look like his.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Inside the Guide: Alibi in Ashes

Welcome to a special Inside the Guide, a behind-the-scenes look at making videogame walkthroughs.  Recently, I finished my text walkthrough for Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes.  Believe it or not, the hardest part of writing this guide was dividing it up into sections.

When you write a longer guide, you need to break it up into different sections.  That way, people can easily find help with whatever they're looking for.  Some games break up into sections very easily.  For example, Mario games get broken up into different worlds, Fire Emblem games get broken up into different chapters, and so on.

Once in a while, though, you come across a game which doesn't easily split up into different sections.  Usually, these are more open-ended games, where you can do things in any order you want to.  Writing guides for these games is harder, because you basically have to make up an arbitrary standard, just for the sake of making the guide more organized.  Here are three techniques I've used in the past:

1. Don't split up the guide at all.  Instead, pretend there is a correct order to solving the puzzles in the game, even though there isn't. (Example: Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill)
2. Split up the guide, according to the various locations you visit.  (Example: Putt-Putt Travels Through Time)
3. Split up the guide, according to the various puzzles you solve.  (Example: Back to the Future: Episode Four)

The problem with writing a guide for Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes is that it is a semi-linear game.  There are at least six different plotlines and characters that you have to investigate over the course of the game, and they are loosely organized.  Some investigations, like the "double-check the alibis of every suspect", can be performed at any time.  Others have to be performed in a specific order; for example, when you're getting fingerprints from the suspects, you have to get Alexei's fingerprint before getting Brenda's.

When writing my guide, I made a small chart of all the different investigations and how they're related. It turned out that five of the larger puzzles have "solve the evidence locker puzzle" as a prerequisite.  So I decided to use that puzzle as the arbirtary standard for my guide.  The guide goes all the way up to the evidence locker puzzle, and then the investigation section splits up from there.  It might not be the ideal way to organize the guide, but it works.

I put my guide to the test, by replaying the game and solving the puzzles in a completely different order than I did the first time around.  I also tried a 1% playthrough, where you do the absolute bare minimum in order to get through the game.  It was pretty fun doing this, and some of the results were unexpected:
  • You can get through the game without playing as Bess.
  • About four-fiths of the conversations in this game are optional.
  • You have to read the newspaper article in Nancy Drew's house in order to beat the game.
  • You need to learn that three suspects are hiding flammable substances, before you get the lab results that tell you which flammable substance was used to start the fire.
Anyway, that's all I have to say about writing the text walkthrough for Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monsters Inc

I think I mentioned earlier that they're making a prequel to Monsters, Inc. Personally, I like Monsters, Inc., but I think it gets more credit than it deserves.  It especially bugs me when people say it's such a creative idea to have a children's movie about nice monsters, because "nice monsters" has been the premise of Sesame Street for about 40 years now.

I worked at the movie theaters when Monsters, Inc. came out, and I liked the duet that played at the end of the movie, during the ending credits. I heard the song about twenty times, because I'd be cleaning the movie theater while the song played.

But after a month or so, they released a new version of the movie, where bloopers play during the ending credits, instead of the song. And then later on, they released another version of the movie, with more bloopers during the ending credits.  I liked the song during the credits better, myself.

Anyway, it seems that Monsters is getting a 3D re-release, to prep everyone for the sequel, just like they did with Toy Story 3. What's with all these sequels being made over ten years after the original, anyway? Kind of odd.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to the Future: The Walkthrough

A new video walkthrough for Back to the Future: The Videogame: Episode One: It's About Time I Got To The End Of The Game's Title has been released!

The actual video footage was recorded by me, while the commentary is done by Paul Franzen and Nicholas Suprak.  For the most part, I enjoy their commentary.  I do not enjoy the parts where they comment on how bad I am at playing the game, but at least it makes things interesting.

There are plans to make a walkthrough for Episode Two, this time with much better picture quality. Also, I might make an appearance and do commentary for one of the videos.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Alibi in Ashes - Teaser

I made a teaser trailer for my upcoming video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes.

I put down "November" as the release date for the walkthrough, due to a number of reasons.

1. I'm still waiting for a copy of "special edition" with some bonus features. Giving it another week won't hurt.

2. I want to have the entire walkthrough done, before I start releasing videos.

3. Re-recording commentary at certain points seems like it will prove to be a hassle. It will take some time.

People have responded to the news with a mixture of compassion, impatience and cursing. But you're just going to have a wait, everyone! The walkthrough isn't done yet, and I've got other priorities in my life.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Economic Woes

I'm kind of worried about the economic situation in our country right now.

Okay, scratch that.  I'm not kind of worried.  I'm very worried.

All my job-seeking friends still can't find jobs.  The latest statistics show that the poverty rate in America has gone way, way up.  Childhood poverty is at 22%, which is almost 1 in 4.  The overall poverty rate in America is the second highest in the world, behind Mexico.

My current town is kind of safe from economic woes, but that's because the problems are all occurring in the next town over, AKA three blocks away.  There's a lot of low-income housing in that town, and the banks basically own all the houses, because not even middle-income people can afford mortgages right now.

Wells Fargo has just struck a major deal to sell half of all the housing property they own to a company in Chicago.  Most of these are apartments; it adds up to 1800 units in 101 buildings.  The Chicago company basically plans to kick out the tenants and convert the buildings into high-rise apartments, complete with a supermall complex.

Where are thousands of people going to live now?  Those kids I was tutoring all last year live in this area; it's a good bet that some of them are going to be affected by this.

Anyway, that's what's worrying me right now.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Julie the Cat

Here's an update on Julie the Cat.  I don't know how old a kitten has to be before it officially becomes a cat, but Julie is still quite young.  For a cat, anyway.

Julie only kind of liked me last week.  She cared more about running around my room than she cared about me.  But this week, Julie and I were the only people in the house.  After about two days, she went crazy from loneliness, and she came to the decision that I am now her new best friend.

It was kind of fun.  I came home in the evening on Tuesday, and Julie ran all the way down the hallway to see me.  Then, I said, "Hi, Julie."  She must not have been expecting me to talk, because that completely scared her out of her mind, and she immediately ran away, scared.

Julie now likes to barge into my room and demand that I pay attention to her.  She also likes to sleep on my bed and make those purring noises which kind of sound like growls.  It took me a while to figure out it was supposed to be purring, actually.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alibi in Ashes Music

Hey, everyone!  I got a copy of Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes.  It will probably take a while for me to make a video walkthrough for it, so in the meantime, enjoy the background music to the game!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

iPhone Games

My copy of the newest Nancy Drew game is currently lost in cyberspace.  Darn.  And I scheduled in an hour of time so I could play it yesterday.  What did I do during my hour of gaming time, then?


I recently found out that a lot of companies like to make their iPhone games free for a week or so.  That way, they get featured on iTunes' "free apps" section, the game generates a lot of buzz, and when they start charging for the game again, many people will buy it.

That's the idea, at any rate.  Gamezebo keeps a running track of which iPhone games are currently free.  So recently I downloaded about several free games, and here are my reviews:

Paper Glider is kind of a blatant rip-off of a popular Flash game. The game cares more about getting you to spend money than it cares about actually being fun; they deliberately withhold the good features and force you to pay for them with in-game currency. My advice? Play the original, superior Flash game.

Dr. Stanley's House is a Flash games that you can play for free on the Internet, if you feel so inclined. The PC version is better, but really, I don't think either version of the game is worth playing. The graphics aren't so great; they consist mainly of closed doors. Also, the game's directional arrows are a failure, in that you can't beat the game without going in directions that are not marked by directional arrows.  What's the point of having directional arrows if they don't lead you the screens you need to go to?

Chronicles of Spoon looks like another Flash game. I'm sensing a pattern here.  The game has nothing to do with spoons; it's about leading a spaceship through a maze.  The controls are a tad too difficult to master easily, and I gave up after losing the second level five times in a row.

Land-a Panda is a platformer, where you move a bouncy panda from one side of the screen to the other, so he can be with the girl panda.  It is a very cute game, with nice graphics and sound effects.  The gameplay reminds me of the barrel levels in Donkey Kong Country, and I would totally buy this game for its normal price of 99 cents.  My only complaint is that whenever I lose a level, the girl panda start crying her eyes out, and it makes me feel like a horrible, horrible person who makes pandas cry.

Mexiball is not that bad of a game.  It's a puzzle game, involving matching colored balls in mazes.  And for some reason, it's Mexican-themed.  It somewhat inspires me to replay every level to get all three stars, just like Angry Birds does, but I'm going to be honest: I probably wouldn't get it if it wasn't free.

Tripeaks Solitaire is merely passable, in my book.  The tutorial is unhelpful, the levels are more difficult than the Windows version, and the sounds still play even when you turn the volume off.  I'll stick with normal solitaire.

Paper Ninja is just like Fruit Ninja, only with actual ninjas. To be honest, I don't really like Fruit Ninja. To me, that game is just a less fun version of Duck Hunt, where your goal is to hit all of the moving enemies that appear onscreen. I think I'm saying that I'm a little tired of "destroy all the enemies that appear onscreen" as a basic premise for a videogame.

To be fair, Paper Ninja tries to improve upon Fruit Ninja. The cutscenes and storyline are nice, and I like the challenge of having the ninja enemies block certain attacks, thereby forcing you to think a little bit about which attacks to use. But still, that doesn't change the fact that every single level is basically the same. I'd recommend checking it out, as long as it's free.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes comes out today!  Make sure to stop by your local store and buy a copy, if you don't have one already!

As for me, I don't have a copy of the game yet.  I'm in the situation where a copy of the game is on its way, but I have no idea when it will actually appear.  It could be today, it could be a week from today, I don't know.  If I was smart, I wouldn't have deleted the email about it.  Whoopsies...

Anyway, there's no real blog post today, because I'm waiting for my copy of the game.  Once I get the follow-up email about it, I'll update this blog saying that I got the game, and that I love it, and so on and so forth.  But in the meantime, I'm just waiting.

And...apparently there's a song called "Waiting on Nancy Drew", so I'm not the only one who's waiting right now!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room Announced

The folks behind the Professor Layton series have just announced their latest game, titled Layton Brothers: Mystery Room. Here's the trailer.

I couldn't help but notice a few problems here...
  1. Professor Layton is not one of the Layton Brothers.
  2. In fact, one of the Layton Brothers is a girl.
  3. There are no Professor Layton characters anywhere in this game, even though it's supposed to be a Professor Layton spinoff.
So...Professor Layton has a brother and sister that we've never heard of before.  Okay.  They haven't gotten English names yet, so let's call the scientist one "Englebert" and the green one "Luigi".  You can expect to play Englebert and Luigi's murder mystery puzzle adventure game when it comes out, probably next year.

EDIT: Japanese readers have informed me that Englebert and Luigi are not Professor Layton's siblings.  Instead, they say that Englebert is supposed to be Professor Layton's son.  So...Layton has a son we've never heard about before.  Ditto for Englebert's unknown mother.  Oh my.  Layton's family tree just got immensely more complicated.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two Public Demonstrations

In my town yesterday, there were two big public demonstrations.

The first one was led by the America Needs Fatima, which is a Catholic organization that works to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  They also work against corruption and moral depravity in our country at large.  I'm not officially affiliated with them, but I support the cause of improving our country, so I show up for their public rosary every year.

The second big public demonstration was done by the Occupy Wall Street group.  I'm still not entirely sure what this group is about, but it seems that they also are working against corruption and moral depravity in our country.  Their main focus is the economy, and every time I see pictures of them on the news, they are either camping or being arrested.

Now, the America Needs Fatima organization got a permit and everything for our demonstration months ago.  We were going to hold the demonstration in a nearby plaza, so nobody would have to travel very far to get there.  However, the Occupy Wall Street people just marched in and took over the plaza on Saturday morning, setting up all sorts of tents and things.  The local government told us that we'd have to move our demonstration to City Hall instead.  That meant an extra fifteen minute walk for everyone involved, but nobody seemed discouraged by it.

The demonstration itself was about a half hour.  We set up the large posters and signs, and then we prayed the rosary, along with some additional prayers, such as the Total Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  We took some group photos, and that was basically it.  A good time was had by all, and the event was a success, drawing over 50 people and gaining the attention of numerous passers-by.

I don't know how successful the Occupy Wall Street demonstration was, but I understand it lasted for several hours.  I think they had only about 40 people at their demonstration, though, probably because it was a spur-of-the-moment thing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes

The newest Nancy Drew game, Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes, is being released on Tuesday.  I hope I can get my copy of the game then.  Several people have already received their copies.

Meanwhile, the preview for the next Nancy Drew game, Tomb of the Lost Queen, has already been released.

I'm told that the next Professor Layton game is being released next week, too, along with many details about the upcoming Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright crossover game. It's a busy week for fans of puzzle/adventure games!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shining Force

I'm currently playing Shining Force, a strategy RPG.  It's one of those games where a group of unlikely heroes come together and save the world.  These heroes include...
  • Max, the strongest fighter in the kingdom
  • Anri, the princess who knows magic spells
  • Mae, whose father is the head of the royal guard
  • Gort, a famous hero from the last war
And when I think about it, that's not an unlikely group of heroes at all.  If I had to pick a group of people to save the world, I would consider all of them to be likely candidates.

I've tried filming a video walkthrough for this game twice, but I can't ever seem to make it past chapter two without wanting to restart the entire project.  Maybe I'll try again someday.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Game Prices

I've noticed that the prices of videogames, along with the prices of everything else, tend to be ridiculously high.
And I'm not even talking about the expensive games (yet).  I'm talking about cheaper games, which are apparently not cheap enough for me.

For example, I recently had the option of buying Awakening: The Dreamless Castle for the PC or the iPhone.  The PC version is the better one; it has HD graphics, a better hint system and good controls. The iPhone version of the game, however, was seven dollars cheaper.  So I bought the iPhone version.

Sure, the touchscreen controls aren't as good, and the picture quality is visibly diminished. But I just saved seven dollars.  I think the moral of the story is that I'm willing to sacrifice game quality if it means a lower price.  That's a sign of games being overpriced, or me being cheap.  (Or both).

With DS games, I had the same sort of problem buying Nintendo games.  Most DS games are $30, but all the Nintendo games starring Mario are $35.  I had to ask myself, "Is it really worth paying an extra five dollars, just for Mario?"  And in the end, I always ending up buying something cheaper, like a GBA game.

Now I'm wondering if the $20 DS games sold noticeably better than the $30 DS games.  I think it depends on the game, obviously, but I wouldn't be surprised if the overall trend shows that the cheaper games sell better.

Now for the console games.  $50?  $60?  Are those prices for real?  That's not the price of a videogame; that's my food budget for an entire week.  There's no way I can afford to buy games like those at full price, except with a Black Friday discount.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More EBooks!

Hey, everyone!  Three more eBooks, produced by me, have hit the Internet!
  • The Magic Bed: A book of fairy tales from India.  I like the last one, but I don't really like the others.  I chose to work on this book, because it's illustrated by John R. Neill, who later became famous for becoming the official illustrator of the Oz series.
  • Leo XIII, The Great Leader: An obituary of sorts for Pope Leo XIII, written after he died but before the next Pope was elected.
  • In Illud: Omnia mihi tradita sunt a Patre: A homily by St. Athanasius, in the original Greek with a Latin translation.  This is probably the last time I will produce a text in Greek, because it is a humongous hassle.
...And by now, I'm sure these books are already available on Amazon and iTunes for free, because those websites are good about that sort of thing.

I'm less happy with the website that will print out a paperback version of the eBook and charge $20 for it, because a) I don't get any of that money, even though I produced the book, and b) they always pick really bad photos to go on the cover of the book. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes - Number Punch

Filler post today! Enjoy a video of me playing the minigame for Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes.

Some people have the game already. I myself do not. I have no idea when I will get a copy of the game, and this does not bother me. I want to play the game, but I'm not exactly in the mood to do a lot of extra work to make a walkthrough.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zelda: Four Swords

I'm kind of miffed about Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (3DS).

Four Swords 3DS is a remake of Four Swords GBA.  They made that game in 2003, and they bundled it together with the re-release of Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.  Two games for the price of one was a nice deal, or at least, it was nicer than the recent re-release of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which has no new features whatsover.

I never got to play Four Swords, because it's a multiplayer-only game.  I had the GBA multiplayer cable, but no friends to play it with.  The only other guy at my school who owned a GBA only used it for Pokemon.

They made a Gamecube Four Swords the next year, which kind of disappointed me, because the graphics were SNES style.  The whole Toon Link / Zelda graphics issue was a big deal at the time, and this game didn't help matters much.  The truth is that it's a GameCube game with GameBoy Advance graphics, because you play it with the GBA as a controller.

This version of the game came with a single-player mode, or as the game calls it, "People With No Friends" mode.  I played this for four levels, but I stopped because it was kind of bothersome to move all four characters separately.  I did manage to play the multi-player mode with my little sister for one level, but it was honestly not that much of an improvement, because I had to tell her what to do at every step of the game.

So that years ago, thereabouts.  Recently, Nintendo released Four Swords GBA as a free download for the 3DS and DSi.  This is great news, because the DS can connect to the Internet, and I can play the game with my gamer friends on the East Coast.  Plus, Nintendo's press conference bragged that the 3DS has a great online multiplayer experience, because the built-in camera will show you a live video feed of your friends' faces while the two of you play together.  No camera or headsets required! turns out that Four Swords 3DS doesn't have online features.  You have to be in the same room as the people you're playing with.  Sort of like Nintendo's other big multiplayer game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Now I'm miffed, because it's another supposedly great multiplayer game that I'll never be able to play.  None of the local gamers I know actually own a DS; they all have iPhones or Xbox 360s.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cynicism Doesn't Work

I sometimes meet a lot of cynics and skeptics, people who try to doubt everything or make fun of everything.  I think the main problem with this philosophy--besides for the fact that people who adhere to it tend to be arrogant jerks--is that it's inconsistent.

I meant, if you're a true skeptic and you really doubt everything, the first thing you should doubt is the skeptical method.  And if you're a cynic, the first thing you should be cynical about is cynicism.  I mean, you never hear lifelong cynics say things like this:

Noah: (cynically) Oh, yeah, being cynical.  That's going to make a difference.

Other philosophical methods have the problem of being inconsistent, in that they follow basic principles but don't apply these principles to the principles themselves.  Here, I'm thinking of subjectivism and pragmatism and moral relativism.

Subjectivism says that everything is subjective.  What's good to Person X may not be good to Person Y.  People will jump into subjectivism a lot when you try to ask why a particular piece of art has positive qualities.  My problem with subjectivism has always been that the premise of subjectivism--"everything is subjective"--is put forth as an objective statement, not a subjective one.  It has to be an objective statement, or else their philosophy has a weak grounding, but that's still ridiculous because the premise of subjectivism dispoves subjectivism.  They should be more honest and change the premise of subjectivism to "everything is subjective...except for this premise".

Another problem I have with subjectivism/pragmatism is that it usually breaks the law of non-contradiction, one of the basic logical principles.  And furthermore...

Hey, where did all the non-philosophy majors go?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Next Republican Presidential Candidate

There have been a lot of Republican debates on TV recently.  I haven't watched them because I don't own a TV anymore, but from what I understand, pretty much every Republican is trying to run for President. It reminds me of a comic strip I drew four years ago.

I usually wait until there are only two or three people left, before I research the candidates and figure out which one I like. I mean, the election is over a year away. There's no reason to research all the candidates now, because most of them will drop out of the running.

And boy, have people been dropping out of the race! First, there was Donald Trump, although I secretly think that the "Trump will run for President" rumor was just a practical joke that got out of hand.  Then, there was the governor of New Jersey.  And most recently, Sarah Palin.

I think it might have been interesting if Sarah Palin had decided to run for President, mainly because I don't know much about her.  All I know about her is that back in 2008, when she was running as John McCain's Vice-President candidate, people said she was crazy.  They said, "Don't vote for John McCain, because he's super old, so he's going to die in two months.  Then Crazy Sarah Palin will become President."

John McCain is still alive, by the way.  I knew he would be.

[EDIT: I don't believe the idea that the stress of being President would have killed John McCain, for two reasons.  First, he impresses me as a very strong individual who can handle a lot of stress.  Second, stress hasn't been a major cause of death among the Popes, even though Popes tend to be older than McCain, and they hold their offices for longer.]

Well, now there are no more Republicans in the running whose names I actually know, so it's going to be a surprise to me to see who will become the official Republic Candidate.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Hobbit (Again)

Hey, here's a question.  Where should they split the two The Hobbit movies?  I mean, that book isn't like Lord of the Rings, where there's a convenient "Part 1" and "Part 2" listed in the actual book itself.

Years ago, I read The Hobbit to my little sister for storytime.  Only, I didn't have a copy of the book with me.  So it ended up being "Michael acts out The Hobbit from memory" for an hour.  It was a pretty fun time.  I should repeat that experience in a one-man play someday.

Anyway, when I reenacted The Hobbit, I totally forgot everything that happened after Bilbo and crew meet Bjorn, the man-bear guy. So I think that's the halfway point of the book.  After that, I totally made everything up, like the dragon's personality and the fact that Bjorn goes bowling.  No joke.

Maybe they'll split The Hobbit into two movies, the way Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did.  The first movie will be rather boring and just focus on our heroes camping in the woods.  And the second part will be the super-long battle, and that movie will be so good that people will forget how bad the first part was.

I know they're not going to do this, but I think they should get rid of, like, half of the characters.  In the book, it's Bilbo and Gandalf and twelve dwarves with similar names, and it's impossible to tell which dwarf is which.  It'd work better if they only had, say, three dwarves.  And they could get called Moe, Larry and Curly, instead of Gimli and Gomli and Gili and Giolo and Gillio.

Oh, and there should be a bowling scene in the movie, too.  Like, Gandalf, Bjorn, Bilbo and Gollum form a bowling team, facing off against Smaug the Dragon.  Not to complain about the book, but it needed an epic bowling battle at the end.

Or maybe that's where they'll split the two movies!  Bilbo will take a shot, and dramatic music plays as the bowling ball rolls down the lane.  Then, everyone gasps dramatically, and you're left wondering if he made a strike or not.  CUT, END MOVIE, FADE TO ORANGE.  People will be running to the theaters to see the conclusion, in Part Two.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Hobbit

So, maybe I don't like The Lord of the Rings, but The Hobbit was pretty good.

It kind of bugs me that they're making a Hobbit movie after The Lord of the Rings movies.  I mean, The Hobbit comes before Lord of the--

Wait, they're making two Hobbit movies? splitting up a book into two movies is a trend now, apparently.  I'm not sure how to feel about that.  From a fan's perspective, it's good because you get more material to enjoy.  From a cynic's perspective, it's bad because it's an obvious ploy to milk the public/fans for as much money as they're worth.

Maybe the "split a book into two movies" trend is just a natural extention of the "film back-to-back sequels" trend.

Anyway, the news sources seem to say that The Hobbit will star the actors from The Lord of the Rings.  That makes sense, of course.  People want to see familiar characters like Frodo again.  Plus, a lot of those actors are famous, so they're a big draw.

The problem is that, besides Gandalf, pretty much none of the Lord of the Rings characters are in The Hobbit.  How are they going to shoehorn these characters in?  It's not like they go on the adventure with Bilbo or anything.  And I think fans would be disappointed if, say, Orlando Bloom only has a three second cameo.

So...that's something I'll be interested in seeing.  Will they make the Lord of the Rings characters important to the plot of the movies, thereby not following the book so well?  Or will they follow the book faithfully, and make the Lord of the Rings characters totally irrelevant?  We'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Lord of the Rings

Confession time: I don't really like The Lord of the Rings.

I read the trilogy two or three times, but I still had a really hard time following the plotline.  The first book was okay, and I was able to kind of keep track of what was going on, because all of the adventurers were together.  But then the book ends with the group splitting up, and that's where the plotline confuses me.

The book sort of jumps around at the start of Book 2.  It has Merryweather and the other hobbit trying to find Frodo for a chapter or two.  Then I think it switches to the Legolas/Gimli Power Hour for a chapter or two, and I'm confused because I have no idea what they're doing besides bickering with each other.  And then Aragorn does stuff for some chapters, and by this time, I'm completely lost because I haven't seen Aragorn in 100 pages.

And then Gandalf is back from the dead, for reasons that aren't fully explained.  And he's fighting Sauron, who...I have no idea who he is.  He must be a bad guy.  The dialogue with Sauron is cool, though.  And there's a huge battle at Sauron's castle.

[Edit: I apparently mixed up Sauron with Saruman.  In my defense, the two bad guys have similar names.]

Eventually, I stumble my way to Part 2 of Book 2, which starts with Frodo and Sam, who are still on the quest to destroy the ring.  And their adventures are...actually, pretty boring.  I remember a whole chapter being dedicated to the fact that they were having rabbit soup for supper.  Even Gollum the Creeper had a hard time making these scenes interesting.

There's a chapter about them going up a long flight of stairs, and Sam conveniently steals the ring from Frodo, shortly before Frodo gets kidnapped by bad guys.  Then The Two Towers ends, and I'm left wondering...when was a tower ever mentioned in the book, much less two towers?

Book Three picks up Aragorn somehow being a king in charge of a huge army now.  Wasn't he just a forest ranger named Strider when we first met him?  Anyway, Aragorn deals with a lot of people I don't remember, and they're fighting other people I don't remember.  I just sort of skip through this, until I get back to the part I can actually understand, the adventures of Frodo and Sam.

Sam and Frodo escape the bad guys, and they have the worst hike ever while going to the volcano and throwing the ring inside.  Only the ring turns Frodo evil, and he doesn't want to get rid of it anymore.  There's a showdown between Gollum and Frodo, and Gollum accidentally destroys himself and the ring in the volcano.

Somehow, somehow, destroying this one ring manages to kill the main villain of the book series.  Even though the villain is hundreds of miles away.  Even though the villain hasn't had the ring in centuries or so.  And then the magical eagles come to save Frodo, and you're sort of confused as to why Tolkein brought back some obscure characters from The Hobbit to save the day.

The book series gets simpler and winds down after that, kind of.  Frodo and the hobbits have a mini-adventure defeating the bad guys in the hobbit village, and that was fun.  And the book ends on kind of a weird note, with Gandalf and Bilbo and Frodo and crew sailing across the sea, and they've all got rings now.  I bet the movie had a slightly different ending.  I only watched the first movie, so I wouldn't know.

...So yeah, that's about what happened when I read The Lord of the Rings.  Re-reading it didn't really help my comprehension of the plotline, and I just sort of focused on the plotline with Frodo, because that's the one I can understand the best.  Maybe I'll re-read the trilogy a fourth time, but probably not.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Julie the Cat

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but there's a cat at my new home.

I don't like cats, mainly because my dad hates cats, so he banned all cats and cat talk from our house when I was growing up.

Now I have to live with a cat.  It's different, to say the least.

I like my dog Snickers better than the cat.  Snickers always gets super-excited and runs to see me whenever I come home.  But Julie the cat doesn't have much interest in me, I don't think.  She's more interested in exploring my closet.

It's weird.  Every time I open my closet, Julie tries to run inside and explore, even though there's absolutely nothing to see except my clothes hamper. I have no idea why she finds it so fascinating.  It's like she expects to run inside one day and find that I've secretly been keeping a huge stash of cat food in there.

It's cute when the cat falls asleep in my lap, though.  That happened earlier today.  I felt kind of bad beacuse I had to stand up and leave.

Monday, October 3, 2011

School Dances

Two Fridays ago, I helped chaperone a school dance at my old middle school.  It was a really weird experience for me.  The last time I went a school dance was when I was in middle school, back in 1999.  It was so strange to be back at a dance in the exact same place.

Personally, I was never a big fan of school dances.  I was really short in middle school, and all the girls were about a foot taller than me.  That made dancing kind of awkward, to say that least; it's hard to put your hand on the shoulder of someone much taller than you.

Also, I seem to remember that one dance, I brought a murder mystery along with me, so I could read instead of dance.

Watching the dance was rather interesting.  Mostly, there were groups of 6-10 boys, and groups of 6-10 girls, and these groups just moved the gym.  That is, the boys and girls didn't really talk much to each other.  They were mostly in separate groups the whole time.  On rare occasion, the boys and girls would dance.

I think when I was in middle school, we did a little bit more dancing.  Not much more, though.

It was kind of weird, watching the school dance and remembering how school dances terrified me when I was younger.  I was frightened by the tall girls; I remember that it took me two whole dances to work up the nerve to ask a girl to dance with me.  In retrospect, there was nothing to be scared about, because the boys at the dance didn't really dance that much, or deal with the girls.  They mostly just stood around and listened to the loud music.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Next Video Walkthrough

Thanks to the recent poll, I decided the next video walkthroughs are Pajama Sam 3 and Phoenix Wright 2.

I want to put up the Phoenix Wright games, before putting up Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.  That's because I make references to the Phoenix Wright games in Apollo Justice.

For example, in Apollo Justice, there is a character named Trucy Wright, who is Phoenix's daughter.  She was born around the time Phoenix was in college, so I decided that Phoenix's college girlfriend--who we meet in the third Phoenix Wright game--is most likely the mother.  I mention this a few times in the walkthrough.

But then, about 80% through the game, they mention that Trucy is Phoenix's adopted daughter.  And it sort of upsets me that we don't find this out sooner.  That's sort of something worth mentioning, although I can see how the game has fun, forcing you to guess who Trucy's mother is.

In any case, that's why I should probably post the third Phoenix Wright game before the Apollo Justice game.  If I don't, nobody will know who I'm talking about, when I say so-and-so must be Trucy's mother.

I'm going to post the Phoenix Wright 2 videos at a rate of seven per day.  In the meantime, I'll try to edit the unedited video walkthroughs.  Hopefully, they'll be done by the time I ask you guys which walkthrough I should post next (i.e. after PW2 is done).

EDIT: Total change of plans, everyone!  It turns out there are way too many Phoenix Wright videos to get through before Nancy Drew: Albi in Ashes.  So instead of rushing these videos, I'm just going to go slowly.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

St. Therese of Liseux

Today is the feast day of St. Therese of Liseux, one of the most popular Catholic saints.  She is sometimes called "The Little Flower of Jesus", and she is best known for her "little way", which is a method of loving service towards others that gets described in detail in her autobiography.

I really like St. Therese, and I'm ashamed to say that I actually haven't read her autobiography past the first four pages.  I'm halfway disappointed that I do not get to give a homily today, because about seven months ago, I started writing a homily about St. Therese.  Here's what I wrote:
Small acts of kindness can redeem the soul just as easily as great ones can.  Helping the few people that you can is equal to helping the many people you cannot, for it is by your deeds that you are proven. As the Lord says, "By your fruits you shall know them". And again, "The servant who is faithful in small things will be faithful in heavy matters".  Do not hesitate, then, to perform small acts of charity.  Do not be distracted by thoughts such as This won't do any good or This is too small to be worth noticing.  Rather, follow the example of St. Therese, and perform works of mercy no matter how great or small.

It's not finished, obviously.  Maybe next year, I'll have an opportunity to preach on St. Therese's feast day, and then I'll have a good reason to actually finish this homily.


As it turns out, two of the eBooks I'm working on right now have to deal with St. Therese.  One is a book of quotations from her, such as "Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing" and "I have understood what true glory is. He whose Kingdom is not of this world showed me that the only enviable royalty consists in loving to be unknown and esteemed as nothing, and finding our joy in contempt of self. I wished that like the Face of Jesus, mine might be as it were hidden and despised. That none upon earth might esteem me. I thirsted to suffer and to be forgotten."

The other book is called Shower of Roses, and it's not really a book, per se.  It's the publication that was printed in France, by the group who ran the cause for her canonization.  The book contains about five hundred pages' worth of all the reported miracles and prayers answered, through her intercession, from 1914 to 1919.

The amazing part is that the 500 pages represents only a fifth of the total material they had.  I might try to find the other four volumes someday.

St. Therese was officially canonized four years after the printing