Monday, December 31, 2012

Nancy Drew: Operation Titanic

I continued reading Nancy Drew Hardy Boys: Operation Titanic.  In the rest of the book, Nancy and Bess go shopping and get ready for the Titanic cruise.  And honestly, not much else.  The billionaire gets flirty with her, and even though Nancy gets held at gunpoint in one scene, she really doesn't do much that's interesting.

Instead, the book focuses on the Hardy Boys.  They have to save people from a sinking submarine, get chased by more hitmen with guns and meet with top secret government agents.  Also, Joe keeps trying to make a move on a girl named Mandy, who shoots him down at every opportunity.

Eventually, The Gray Man (a government agent) decides to hire the Hardy Boys to work on the current case, seeing as they're knee-deep in it already.  He gives them a simple assignment: identify a terrorist who is on the Titanic cruise.  The terrorist is in disguise, but his bodyguards aren't, so it's not too long before they catch him.  The Gray Man says they did a good job, then tells them to scram.

You can't get rid of the Hardy Boys that easily.  They stick around for the rest of the cruise, and they spend some time with Nancy.  Things get interesting again, when the mission to raise the Titanic gets underway.  The terrorists attempt to seize control of the boat, and there is a lot of gunfire.  Nancy and Frank team up to defeat the bad guys and save everyone.

Meanwhile, Joe is under the sea in a small submarine.  Their goal is to help raise the Titanic, but Mandy reveals that she is secretly evil.  So that's why she rejected Joe's advances!  Mandy shoots everyone with a tranquilizer gun, then uses the submarine arms not to raise the Titanic, but to raise some nuclear missiles from the Gulf War.

Nukes which just happened to go missing, right where the Titanic sank.

Fortunately, it seems Joe has built up some immunity to tranquilizer.  He stays awake long enough to fight Mandy and knock her out.  He ruins the submarine arms (so they can't be used for evil), and he sets the submarine to rise to safety.  Then he falls unconscious.

In the end, our heroes single-handedly stopped terrorists from getting the Titanic nukes.  The complex plots to get the nukes (both by the terrorists and the government) is explained.  Sadly, because this is a top secret mission, no one can know about it, so Nancy and the Hardy Boys get absolutely no credit for saving the world.  What a gyp.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vatican II

Fifty years ago, the Catholic Church held a large council called Vatican II.  All the Bishops and leaders of the church attended the council over the course of four years, and they made many momentuous decisions concerning the church.  For one thing, they allowed priests to say mass in languages other than Latin.

For another thing...well, most people don't know what else was decided at Vatican II.  Sad, but true.

The fact that most Catholics have no idea what the Catholic Church believes and teaches has caused Pope Benedict XVI to facepalm.


Pope Benedict has declared 2012-13 "The Year of Faith".  Major goals of this year including teaching people what the faith is, and revisiting what happened at Vatican II.

What am I going to do for the Year of Faith?  I'm going to read all the documents of Vatican II, and I'm going to write about them here on my blog.  I have no idea how long this project will take.  For now, my plan is simply to work on the project every Sunday from here on out, until I'm finished.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 4)

Here's Chapter Four of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy meets the flirty Daryl Gray, when she visits Maxine's Diner for the first time.

---

Nancy left Aunt Eloise's house, and she walked towards Paseo Del Mar High School. But she was hungry, and Aunt Eloise said she was on her own for dinner, so Nancy decided to go to Maxine's Diner instead.
Maxine's was a 50's-style diner, selling old-fashioned hamburgers, milkshakes and things like that. There was a jukebox, and some arcade games in the corner.

The only employee at the diner was a teenager with sandy-colored hair. "Hi, welcome to Maxine's!" he said. "I'm Daryl Gray. I don't think I've seen you here before."
"My name's Nancy Drew," Nancy said. "I'm here visiting my Aunt Eloise. She's the librarian at Paseo Del Mar High."

"I'm the student body president there," Daryl said. "If you need any help, just let me know."
"Thanks," Nancy said. "What's it like at Paseo Del Mar?"

"It's a great school," Daryl assured her. "Lots of good people, nice teachers, and our football team is #1 in the state, four years running."
"Does anything bad happen at the school?" Nancy asked. "Like, I dunno...the occasional murder?"

"Yeah," Daryl said, looking kind of upset. "A senior named Jake Rogers was killed last week. He worked here, but I didn't really know him. He kept to himself, mostly."
Either that, or Daryl's trying to distance himself from the victim to avoid suspicion, Nancy thought. She asked, "Has the culprit been caught yet?"

"No, nobody's heard anything about any arrests," Daryl said. "But my resources say they're bringing in a special detective to solve the case. Maybe even the FBI."
"You must have special contacts," Nancy noted.

"Special enough to let me see beautiful women like yourself!" Daryl said.
Nancy stared at Daryl. "What." she said.

"Get it?" Daryl said, pointing to his eye. "I'm wearing contacts that let me see beautiful women?"
Nancy gave Daryl a death-stare, and he was forced to contemplate the utter ineffectiveness of his pick-up lines as the awkward silence stretched towards infinity.

"...Never mind," Daryl said. "Nice meeting you, Nancy."
Nancy turned and left Daryl to himself.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Limerick

My friend Alex Jedraszczak (pronounced "Jedraszczak") wrote a limerick about me.

There was a man named Michael Gray
Who played Nancy Drew every day
He played every game
And acquired some fame
Now he can't keep the ladies at bay

Thanks Jeddy!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Mulan

My family rewatched Mulan recently.  Here are random thoughts I had:

1. I want more information about Mulan's family.  Why is her dad so much older than her mother?  Is the grandmother related to the mother or the father?

2. I think Mulan could have successfully made it past the matchmaker, if it wasn't for the cricket.  But if she did get matched with a guy, odds are that he would have been summoned to the war, then killed shortly afterwards.

3. The number of people in Mulan's army group seems to change from scene to scene.  Normally, they only have six members.  But there are about twenty guys who come from out of nowhere, just to help out during the musical numbers.  Is that their job?  They don't seem to be with the rest of the soldiers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 3)

So here's Chapter Three of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy gets the phone call from Detective Beech.

---

Nancy decided to leave Aunt Eloise's, so she could mail the letter to her dad. As she approached the front door, her phone went off. An anonymous person was calling her.

Probably somebody trying to sell me something, Nancy thought, as she picked it up and answered.

"Nancy? Detective Beech here," a somewhat congested voice said. "How are you?"

"Fine," Nancy said. "I'm kinda strapped for cash at the moment. How are things with you?"

"I'm frustrated, Nancy," Beech said. "I need answers, and you're my man, er...woman, teen, student, whatever."

"I prefer the term 'international supersleuth'," Nancy said. "But you can address me as 'your royal highness'."

"Uh...sure," Detective Beech said. "Anyway, as soon as you find out anything, let me know right away. All contact should be through me."

"How do I contact you?" Nancy asked. For some reason, her phone was unable to add Detective Beech's number to her contacts list. She figured that was because he called from a secure police line.

"I'll be at Maxine's Diner, near the high school," Detective Beech said. "You can come visit me in person."

"Sounds good," Nancy said. "So, what's our cover?"

"Our what?" Detective Beech asked.

Nancy sighed. "Look, Detective B, if you're going to be my sidekick for this adventure, you need to be more on top of things," she said. "I'm going undercover as a new student. Who are you going undercover as?"

"Oh..." Detective Beech said. "I'll be posing as your uncle. Uncle Steve."

"I guess that'll work," Nancy said. "I was just about to leave the house now, so I guess I'll see you soon, Detective Ocean."

Nancy hung up her phone and stepped outside.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!  We remember the birth of Christ the Lord, the Word of God, who humbled himself and was born as a human, in order to save all humans by reconciling them to God.  Let us not ignore the gift of our redemption, but let us make ourselves worthy by consecrating ourselves in purity, in truth and in adoration of the great and mighty Word.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 2)

So here's Chapter Two of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy goes through things at Aunt Eloise's house.  It's kind of long, but I wanted to fit the entire investigation into one chapter.

---

Satisfied with what she had written, Nancy Drew folded up the letter to her father and stuck it in the envelope. Now all she needed was a stamp, and she could mail it.

Nancy looked around at Aunt Eloise's somewhat plain-looking house. She stepped forward to the small dresser in the hallway, and opened the drawer on the right. It didn't have any stamps, but in the drawer was a letter from the Sigma Phi Kappa Delta sorority, inviting Aunt Eloise to some kind of party.

Nancy tried the other drawers. The one on the left had a giant inflatable crocodile, while the one in the middle had stamps. Nancy smiled, and picked up the stamps. As she did so, she noticed a letter on top of the dresser.

Nancy,

I went to go visit a friend in Tampa, so you're on your own for dinner tonight. I wanted to avoid traffic, so I skipped out early on my job as school librarian. Sure, this means that there is no adult supervision at Paseo Del Mar High School today, even though there's a killer on the loose, but I'm sure all the kids there will be fine.

Anyway, if you need to do research for your case, the key to the library is in the safe. Just make sure never to enter a wrong combination.

-Aunt Eloise

Nancy smiled at Aunt Eloise's warning. The safe's security system literally dropped a miniature prison on top of anyone who entered a wrong combination. It was complete overkill, considering that the safe didn't contain anything of much value, but Aunt Eloise was paranoid like that.

Nancy had gotten trapped in the prison at least four times since she first arrived, two days ago. But she was pretty sure she knew the combination by now. It was the name of Aunt Eloise's sorority: sigma phi kappa delta.

Nancy walked over to the safe, which was cleverly hidden behind a tapestry. She pressed the correct buttons, and the safe opened. Nancy picked up the library key from behind the safe door, and she pocketed it.

The safe also contained two scrolls of paper, a folder, and a mystery novel entitled Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill, written in 1998. Nancy picked up the book and skipped all the way to the last chapter, where she started reading. It seemed that the case ended at Vanderlay Pharmaceuticals, where the detective and two high school students fought a murderer.

"Aha, so the culprit is somebody called Mitch Dillon!" Nancy said. "So all I have to do is look out for him, and when I've got him, I've got the culprit! Ha, this case will be a cinch!"

Unfortunately for Nancy, she didn't realize she was playing the 2010 Remastered version of Secrets Can Kill, which has a different culprit. Either way, she figured the book would be useful to have, so she put it in her pocket.

The only other interesting thing in the safe was a slider puzzle. Someone could move the tiles around, in order to form a picture. Nancy wasn't sure where the picture was from, but if she had to guess, it was probably the cover art for a book called Nancy Drew Wears a Ballerina Dress In Order to Escape an Angry Mob While a Mysterious Culprit Cleans the Wall.

Nancy solved the slider puzzle, using the age-old technique of removing all the tiles at once, then putting them in place one-by-one, as opposed to actually sliding them around. With a click, the box with the slider puzzle opened, revealing a small piece of lined paper.

Username: Eloise Drew
Password: O Wise Elder


Nancy frowned. "There's no money in the safe!" she said. "How am I supposed to pay for dinner?"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Twilight Phenomena: The Lodgers of House 13

My next video walkthrough is for a horror game called Twilight Phenomena: The Lodgers of House 13. The game features severed heads, an evil monkey, and...well, mostly just those two things. The evil monkey sets off a bomb, puts our hero in a guillotine, sets a building on fire and kidnaps a woman multiple times.

Why am I playing this game? My last horror walkthrough, Nightmare Adventures: The Witch's Prison, was an under-the-radar hit for my Youtube channel. Not many of my regular viewers, the Nancy Drew fans, watched it. But a TON of people who never watch my videos came by, just to see it. I thought I'd try reaching out to those guys again, with another horror game walkthrough.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 1)

So here's Chapter One of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. I first started the story in September, then sort of abandoned it.  Let's give it another shot at life, shall we?

---

Dear Dad,

You've probably been wondering why I haven't been at home for the past few weeks. It's because I went to visit Aunt Eloise in Florida! Sorry for not telling you about this before I left.

I'm writing because a student named Jake Rogers was murdered at the high school last night. Since I'm a great detective, an undercover police officer has asked me to figure out who did it. I don't want to jump to any conclusions at this point, but I'm pretty sure that the murderer is the culprit this time.

So it's undercover I go! I'm calling this case "Secrets Can Chill".

No, wait. That's kind of a dumb name. "Secrets Can Kill"? "Secrets Have Killed"? "Secrets, Which May Or May Not Result in Death And/Or Killing".

Eh, I'll figure out a better name later. Either way, I'm sure it'll be a killer case.

Love,
Nancy

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bank Trouble

I had to deal with my banks yesterday, and it was a major hassle. See, I have a Visa and a Mastercard now, and the two of them don't get along, and--

Wait, this is a boring discussion. Let's make it more interesting, by replacing bank terms with Final Fantasy characters.

The two magic users in my party are a red mage and a white mage. Recently, I got a white wizard, to replace my white mage.  But since my white mage is a member of the Bank Guild, the guild tried its hardest to stop me from getting rid of him.

In particular, the lady wanted to sell me on a plan, where I could keep my white mage for free, as long as I used him in at least four battles per month.  That's crazy.  I have a white wizard now; why on Earth would I want to keep using a low-level white mage?

In the end, it turned out that I could get double EXP for my red mage, if I had both a red mage and a white mage in my party.  So I'm keeping the white mage for the extra EXP, but I'm never going to use him.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tumblr

I don't really know or understand what Tumblr is yet. Sometimes, it looks like Live Journal, and sometimes it looks like somebody threw up on my computer screen.

Anyway, I've been informed that somebody did a Tumblr post, with animated gifs of my Mmmbop Dance.  Oh, boy.  Now people are going to think I actually dress like that normally.  And I dance like that normally.  Not true!  Normally, my dance moves are less coordinated.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nancy Drew: Weirdness at Waverly Academy

Hey, everyone. My video series for Nancy Drew: Weirdness at Waverly Academy is live!  Due to popular request, you now get to hear me read my excellent fanfiction.

For over three hours.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Portland

Hey, everyone. I moved to Portland, Oregon recently, and one of the downsides of my new place is that I don't have Internet yet. You might have to sit tight for a while, until I can get back to updating this blog on a regular basis.

I'll be back home in California on the 19th or so. I'll be able to continue blog updates from there, at least.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Road Trip (Part 25): Disneyland Day

The final day of the Epic Road Trip was Disneyland. My sister and I charted out a strategy of where we wanted to go, and how we'd get there. The basic idea was to go through the park counter-clockwise, hitting Tomorrowland first and making our way from there to Splash Mountain.

We started by getting Fast Pass tickets for Space Mountain.  Man, that ride is the best.  They try to do a Halloween version of that ride, but you really can't tell the difference.

One of the "must ride" things we did was the new Star Tours.  The trainee pilot is gone; now it's R2D2 and C3P0 piloting the ship.  They zoom throughout the galaxy, while being chased by Darth Vader.  Places you visit are Hoth (the ice planet), the asteroid planet from Episode 2, and...I don't remember the third place you visit.  Since everyone loved the "jump to light speed" segment of the first Star Tours, there are four "jump to light speed" segments in the new one.

Finding Nemo's Undersea Voyage still has a ridiculously long line, so we didn't go on it.  Why do more people want to go on Nemo than the Matterhorn?  Jeez.

We went to California Adventure for a brief time.  Screaming California, the roller coaster where you go upside-down, was craaaazy.  I loved it, but I didn't know they took pictures on the ride.  Now we've got a picture of my sister being ecstatic, and me looking like I'm about to throw up.

The new The Little Mermaid ride at California Adventure is FANTASTIC.  It's one of those rides, where you sit in a small car that drives past animatronics, like Pinocchio's Daring Journey or the Snow White ride.  The difference is that the animatronics in The Little Mermaid were made in this century, so they're much fancier.  They had a pretty sizeable room for all the songs in the film, except Les Possoins (or however you spell it).

The Monsters Inc. ride at California Adventure was in the same vein.  It was good, but not as good at Ariel's ride.  Sadly, the Muppets show was closed, as was the Grizzly Bear water rafting ride.  In Disneyland, the closed attractions were Indiana Jones, Storybook Land and Casey Junior's train.  The later two are being updated/rennovated, as I understand it, and it's about time!

Let me see, what else?  We had lunch at the country place, near the petting zoo no one goes to.  They have live music and all you can eat ribs.  That was our only meal for the day, and I ate three whole buckets of ribs.  Gotta get your money's worth, if you're paying over $50 for a meal, right?  Besides, I never eat ribs, so it was a treat to have as many as I could hold.

Oh, I almost forgot!  The Haunted Mansion was all done up for Halloween, with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme.  It was merely okay, but now that I've seen the movie, I kind of want to go on the ride again.  Maybe I'll appreciate it more.

The last ride we went on was It's a Small World, because Mom told us they redid the whole ride. She was wrong.  They put in a few new dolls, such as Lilo and Stitch in Hawaii, Ariel in the mermaid area, Cinderella in France, and Toy Story's Woody in cowboy America.  Everything else was the same; they just added some new dolls.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Road Trip (Part 24): Grand Canyon

My sister from San Francisco joined me in Albuquerque and accompanied me on the last leg of my trip.  From New Mexico, we went to the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon was fabulous, although a bit chilly.  When I was younger, my family always went on nature hikes (because it was free entertainment), so we grew up enjoying that sort of thing.

Hiking along the canyon was great.  I'd love to return and do the bike ride along the canyon.  Even if it triggered my fear of heights, I still enjoyed it.


 

After the Grand Canyon, we visited one of those drive-in nature preserves, like the one near Mount Rushmore. This one was Bearizona, and it had the most active bear cubs I've ever seen.  Two of them wrestled with each other, nonstop.  I'll try to get the video footage of the bear cub wrestling online.


After that, I learned never to let my sister drive to Los Angeles at night. That was it for the day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Road Trip (Part 23): Albuquerque

The next day of my road trip, I went to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  That's a huge event, where dozens of hot air balloons go off, over the course of a few hours.  It is completely sepctacular.





In the lower left is Spider Pig. Spider Pig, Spider Pig, does whatever a Spider Pig does.

Some of the gimmicky balloons inflated, but didn't take off.

That night, there was a large family gathering with our relatives/family friends from the New Mexico/Texas area.  It was pretty fun, even if I didn't know anyone.  The only person I remember from the D--- family is the girl from Colorado, who wasn't in attendance.

True story: The only reason I know this girl is because Mom wants me to marry her.  I told the story of Mom trying to set me up with Colorado girl, and the joke-story was a huge hit with one of the women relatives.  My sister told me later that she was the mother of the girl in question.  Oops.  I guess she was too polite to inform me that I was talking about her daughter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Road Trip (Part 22): Albuquerque and Santa Fe

I went to Albuquerque during their world famous Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.  Unfortunately, due to stormy weather, the balloon fiesta was cancelled.  They still had a fireworks show, but no hot air balloons.

So instead of seeing balloons, I went to the Petroglyph Monument.  I did this mainly because Nancy Drew did this in Secret of Shadow Ranch.  I took the long trail, through the rocky areas.  Some of the petroglyphs are really cool looking.  I wonder if humanity will ever find out who carved the symbols onto rocks and what they mean.


After that, I went to Santa Fe.  Sadly, everyone else had the exact same idea, due to the cancellation of the balloon festival.  It took me 40 minutes to find parking in that town.

I saw some nice art places in the town, and I visited the Cathedral of St. Francis.  That's the somewhat famous cathedral, built by Archbishop Lamy, as detailed in the book Death Comes for the Archbishop.  I liked all the old, original stuff that was there when Lamy was alive.  I did not like the more modern things; they were, by and large, ugly.  The stations of the cross, in particular, look like they were done by a third grader.

Saint Anthony of Padua, distributing food to the hungry.

That's not the world's most accurate Spanish-to-English translation.

Nearby the cathedral were the Miraculous Stairs of St. Joseph, at Loreto Church.  That particular church is no longer owned by the Catholic Church.  It's run by a for-profit organization, that turned it into a hokey attraction, along the lines of Ripley's Believe It Or Not.  It made me sad to see capitalism destroy something which was once sacred.

On a somewhat related note, I don't understand why Loreto Church does not have any references to the Litany of Loreto anywhere.  What were they thinking when they made the place?  That's like a Holy Cross Church not having any crosses inside, or an Our Lady of the Rosary not having anything to do with the rosary.  That completely goes against common sense.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Road Trip (Part 21): Amarillo

I had a half-day in Amarillo, before leaving for Albuquerque.  It was okay, but I couldn't find much to do.  Their cathedral seemed nice, but someone burned it down in 2007 or so (before that church became the cathedral).  Now it's locked all the time, which means tourists like me can't get in and see it.

My favorite part of Amarillo was taking a random sideroad. You know the official road signs, which read "Albany, 10 miles away, New York, Amarillo 160 miles away"?  On the back of one of them, a fan of the movie Psycho painted this:


For lunch, I went to a local chain called Famous Dave's.  Man, that bleu cheese burger was awesome.  And as I just now found out, it is not a local chain!  They have a Famous Dave's within driving distance of my house!  Hope they're prepared for a new loyal customer!

The rest of the day, I drove to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where some family relatives are.  There's not much to say about it, besides for the fact that Mom called, and she wanted me to completely change my vacation plans, for no good reason  So there was drama that night, but none of you need to worry about that.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Road Trip (Part 20): Amarillo

Today was a slow day.  I drove from Dallas, Texas, to Amarillo, Texas.  The most exciting thing I did along the way was stop at a fast food place called Whataburger.

Verdict: Good!  The fries are not so good, but for an independent, Texas-only chain, Whataburger is definitely nice.  If I lived in Texas, I'd probably frequent it with some regularity.

At Amarillo, I went to dinner at The Big Texan.  This is the main draw of the city; it's their super-touristy place.  I love touristy stuff, so it's no surprised I loved it.  It's a massive steakhouse, with a live country band, everyone dressed up like cowboys, and humongous antlered creatures handing from every wall.



I got the barbecue platter, which was delicious.  While I was there, two people tried the Big Texan's 72 ounce steak-eating contest.  If you can eat the 72 ounce steak within an hour, you get it for free.  One of our local hometown California heroes, six time world eating champion Joey Chestnut, holds the record for eating this bad boy in under ten minutes.

So that's Amarillo day.  Mostly, all I did was drive and eat.  But I had fun!  I love these tourist places.  I just wish I could have stayed there another day and tried some of their famous steak.  Oh well; I don't regret filling up on Whataburger earlier that day.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Road Trip (Part 19): Dallas

Today I went to the Dallas Zoo, and the Dallas Cathedral.  I didn't do anything else, because I was still kind of sick from the food poisoning last night.  I had great timing with the zoo; no one else was there besides me and the stroller brigade (parents with children too young for school).

The zoo was pretty amazing, and I would definitely go again.  The four exhibits I loved most were the elephants, giraffes, gorillas and crocodiles.  One of the crocodiles did the classic "dead log" trick.  That's something crocodiles do to catch prey; they float across a pond, not moving at all.  And when they get close enough, they attack!  I never thought I'd see a crocodile try that on me.


Can you see the crocodile hidden in the water?

The downside was the tiger exhibit, presented by some big oil company that wanted a tax write-off.  That oil company really cheaped out here; they got an exhibit area large enough to house six tigers, but they only put one tiger inside.  I guess they thought it was a tiger exhibit, not a tigers exhibit.  And, of course, it was impossible to find the one tiger hiding in the huge area.  I had to settle for a picture of the display sign.


Outside of the Dallas Zoo is the best McDonald's ever.  Zoo McDonald's rules!


The entire outside and inside of Zoo McDonald's is filled with animal statues and pictures.  It is seriously fantastic.

That was it for Dallas Day.  I drove past the Texas Instruments headquarters (they make the TI-83 graphing calculators), and I also drove past the memorial where President John F. Kennedy was shot.  The memorial is blocked off, so you can see almost nothing at all from your car.  You have to pay for city parking and walk to the memorial, in order to see it.  I didn't feel like paying more money for parking, though, so I just drove by.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Road Trip (Part 18): Arkansas, Dallas

Today's trip was Little Rock, AR to Dallas, TX.  Little Rock was celebrating Columbus Day, so the Cathedral was closed.  All the Bill Clinton stuff was either closed or charging admission.  I got kind of frustrated.  First it takes an hour to find my hotel, then everything was closed?  Little Rock, you're killing me here.

The only non-closed place was Old Mill Park.  That is a really nice nature park.  It was used in Gone with the Wind, not that I've seen that movie or read the book.  I can see why they'd want to use this location in a movie, though.  It's very scenic.



After that was a drive to Texas.  In Texas, the highways only have two lanes, which is a major hindrance to driving, because inevitably, you'll get two trucks side-by-side in both lanes, holding up traffic.  Texas Law says that the left lane is only used for passing, which helps traffic a little bit, but doesn't completely eliminate it.

I had to get an oil change, which delayed me for about 40 minutes.  I arrived in Dallas/Plano at 4:30, and it turns out everything here closes at 5:00.  I looked around for local sights, such as the aquarium/museum (closed for repairs, shoot!).  I had to settle for the antique store, which was huge, but didn't have much of interest for me.

The reason I decided to go to Plano (on the outskirts of Dallas), instead of Dallas proper, was Amazing Jake's Buffet.  It was advertised as a major attraction, on Dallas' tourism website.  It ended up being a disappointment for me.  If I was ten years old, I would love this place; they have an arcade, go-karts, laser tag, minigolf, a carousel and movie theater.  But my interest was in the gigantic buffet, and it turns out that the buffet was rather threadbare.  It had salad, pizza and...that's it.  I've seen much bigger and better buffets at home, hands down.  It seems odd that they use the 80-foot buffet as their main selling point, when it is the least attractive part of an otherwise fantastic place.  That's like Disneyland marketing itself as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Place.

For dinner, I went to Love & War in Texas instead.  It was a nice place, but the warthog quesadillas gave me food poisoning.  Or maybe I'm just allergic to warthogs.  Either way, it made me sick.

That's probably why this entry in my travel journal is so negative.  I was sick when I wrote it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Road Trip (Part 17): Perryville, Arkansas

My major destination for the day was Perryville, MO.  Why Perryville?  That's where they have the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.  I edited a book on the Miraculous Medal, which was published at this location in 1918.  I thought it would be cool to visit the place in real life.

The shrine is run by the Vincentians.  By complete coincidence, the Knights of Columbus of Missouri were there, for a statewide meeting.  It made for a very nice Sunday mass.


The Knights of Columbus in full regalia

This was an interesting statue. I've never seen St. Therese depicted in the same place as the Shroud of Turin. 

Continuing to Arkansas wasn't so much fun.  About an hour from Little Rock, traffic died completely.  The highway stopped moving, and it stayed that way for an hour and a half.  I don't know what caused the jam; I think it might be the fact that the highway condenses from three lanes into one.  Maybe there was a car accident.

After that, I couldn't find the hotel, because I had the wrong address.  Ugh.  The people were helpful, but they were somewhat hard to understand.  I had no idea the regional accent in Arkansas was so strong.  Usually, I think of people from Texas as having country accents, but the people in Arkansas have them beat.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Road Trip (Part 16.5)

Underneath the St. Louis Arch is a museum about westward expansion. They have some animatronic people there, including THIS GUY:


The instant I saw that, I said, "That's totally the general store guy from The Oregon Trail!" I had to take a picture of it.

Now that I'm back home, I can officially confirm that these two men are pretty much the same. Check my video walkthrough if you don't believe me.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Road Trip (Part 16): Saint Louis

Saint Louis Day was fun, especially because I got to meet up with my long-lost sister.  It's kind of odd, actually.  My sister doesn't live in Saint Louis, but I couldn't convince her to meet with me when I visited her home town.  So we met in Saint Louis instead.

We started by going to the Saint Louis Zoo, which was nice.  They specialize in endangered animals, so you can expect to see species that you've never heard of before, like the bactrian camel, the okapi, and California sea lions that moves.

(Explanation of the previous joke: The sea lions we have in San Francisco never move at all.  The fat lazy things just lie on unused docks, all day long.  But the sea lions in this zoo were swimming around and doing things, which amazed me.)

The highlight of the zoo trip were the kangaroos, who got into a fight.  They punched each other, and wreslted around.  Sometimes, they'd lead back on their tails and do a super-kick with both legs, but apparently, they only use that as a long-range attack, because they prefer the punching.


After that, we went to the St. Louis arch, which was pretty interesting, even if it needs to be cleaned. We were going to ride the elevator to the top of the arch, but the next available tickets were for two hours away, so we decided not to.

That was mainly it for the day.  My sister and I got lunch at a well-known (in St. Louis) concrete mixer ice cream place.  After that, I dropped her off at her place, because she was tired.  The only other thing I did that day was stop by the St. Louis Cathedral, on the way back to the hotel.  It was, hands down, the most amazing cathedral I saw on my trip.  It had these really good, huge mosaics everywhere.

Monday, December 3, 2012

This Blog

Hey everyone.  I'd like to offer an apology for the quality of my blog, as of late.  Recently, I've been busy with real life stuff, like dealing with banks and moving to another state.  The blog sort of fell to the wayside.

So now I'm going to play a bit of catch up. Remember my Epic Road Trip?  I was telling you about it, and I sort of stopped halfway through.  For the next week or so, I'll continue with the discussion of the road trip.  Okay? 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Magic Duel

This week's new episode of My Little Pony was titled The Magic Duel.  Man, it was an exciting episode.  It was so exciting that I'm putting it on the list of "episodes I wouldn't mind watching again".

I have about five episodes on that list.  Does that mean I'm not a fan of the show?  I mean, I like the show well enough, but they don't have many episodes I'm willing to rewatch.  With 90% of the show, once is enough for me.

The Magic Duel featured the return of fan-favorite character, the Great and Powerful Trixie.  She's uncovered some sort of ancient, evil artifact.  Now she's super powerful and super evil, with a hankering for revenge.  She easily manages to conquer the entire town, forcing the main character to go into exile.

Now our main character has to go into training, so she can save everyone.  I think I saw this plot in Kung Fu Panda.  Of course, our hero wins the rematch against the evil Trixie, and it's a happy ending.  In a surprise twist, Twilight doesn't win the rematch by becoming stronger (like in all the sports movies); she wins the rematch by being clever and using her friends.  Way to be smart, Twilight!  Use your brain and avoid fights!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nancy Drew: Operation Titanic

I read a few more chapters of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery: Operation Titanic.  Wow, that book has a long title.

Nancy and the FBI guys continue their investigation, although now it's more of a crime scene investigation than a stakeout.  Thanks mostly to Nancy's bright ideas, they determine the killer is Amos Jericho, an ex-CIA agent who went rogue after the Cold War.  Jericho's appearance is a shock to the FBI guys, who thought he died in a fire three years ago.

Clearly, Jericho is interested in the Titanic cruise.  This is an upcoming cruise, run by billionaire Walter Welsch, in which they are going to raise the famous ship Titanic (or part of it, at least).  Welsch himself shows up, and he offers Nancy free tickets.  Free cruise tickets?  A chance to see the Titanic get raised?  A murderous CIA agent on the loose?  How could Nancy not agree to go?

Meanwhile, the Hardy Boys are driving to some ocean research institute in Conneticut for their vacation.  They get attacked by an incredibly determined team of assassins.  The assassins wreck the Hardy Car, then force it off a cliff.  The Hardys survive, of course, and they decide to split up for a dramatic chase scene.  Frank goes into the swamp, where he gets attacked by a snake, while Joe tries to dodge guys on motorcycles, so he can call for help.

At no time do our heroes ever figure out who the gunmen are, or why the gunmen want them dead.  Eventually, the Hardy Boys are captured alive.  Things are tense as the gunmen try to pump them for information, but they end up being rescued by a helicopter. Looks like Joe's phone call for help worked!

That's the first third of the book.  It's basically an extended chase sequence for the Hardy Boys, and an extended investigation for Nancy.  I think Nancy's going to take her two best friends with her on the Titanic cruise; I'll have to keep reading and find out.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Nancy Drew Troubles

I've got Nancy Drew troubles, everyone.  My video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device keeps hitting up against walls.

1. Youtube hated Video #9.  I uploaded five different versions of it, all of which were rejected.  I re-recorded the video; all the versions of the re-record were rejected.  Fortunately, one of the re-re-recorded versions of Video #9 got through.

2. I accidentally deleted my save file, after video #17.  That's two-thirds of the way through the game.  I have to restart from the beginning and replay those four hours.

3. Video #11 has completely disappeared!  Gone!  No one knows where it is!  So I have to re-record that video now, too!

In conclusion, GRAAAAWR!  This makes about six to seven hours of work, down the drain!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Christmas Story 2

I just watched the 2012 movie A Christmas Story 2.  It's pretty bad.  Here are my live tweets about the movie, with some extra commentary, just for you guys.
  • Dear gosh, Ralphie is hideous. No, seriously, his hair was dyed this horrible blonde color, to match the kid from the original movie. It wasn't pretty.
  • Ralphie's fatal flaw is revealed: he does not know how to exit from a car, without getting trapped. His pant leg accidentally got caught on the stick-shift, and so he had to remove his pants before he could leave. Dude, using a car door is NOT that difficult.
  • Ralphie ends up breaking the car, so he and his friends have to get jobs to pay for it.  During the montage of them horrendeously failing at their jobs, Ralphie gets his perv on with a lingerie mannequin. His hand somehow gets stuck on the inside of the manneqin's bra, and no matter how hard he pulls, he can't escape. Of course, a large crowd gathers to watch.
  • The next day, Ralphie's friend attempts to French kiss a messenger tube. His mouth and tongue get stuck inside. Whoever wrote this movie must be a pervert.
  • Ralphie got in a bell-ringing competition with the Salvation Army Guy. That was an amusing showdown.  There was also a fight between Ralphie and his friends (dressed as Santa's elves), complete with commentary from grumpy Santa.  That was less amusing.
  • I liked the part of the movie which should have been the ending.  The movie went on for about ten minutes after that, and I got increasingly grumpier as it kept going on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Operation Titanic

I jsut started reading the Nancy Drew Hardy Boys Super Mystery Operation Titanic.  The book was written shortly after the movie Titanic; I picked up the book on a whim.  I just read Chapter One today, and I can tell this book is going to be hilarious.

The book starts off with Nancy and the FBI crew, ready to bust a dangerous criminal named Trey Carter.  They are deadly serious about the operation, and everything was incredibly intense.

As it turns out, though, the criminal operation is kind of...stupid.  Carter is scamming a radio program, by taping pay phones to cell phones.  This way, nobody else but him can call the radio station.  That means he's guaranteed to be be Caller #104, and win tickets to the Titanic expedition.  A sneaky plan, to be sure, but it's kind of weird that it involves taping sixteen phones together.

Our heroes break into the hotel laundromat that Carter is using. A gunfight soon breaks out, because Carter really wants those tickets.  Carter is about to escape, when he gets shot by a mysterious person wearing an alien mask. Mr. Alien escapes into the darkness.  End chapter.

I don't know about you, but I am excited to see what happens next.  My favorite part of the chapter was this line: "Suddenly, the thought occurred to Nancy that there was no way she could explain getting shot to her father".  Imagine that conversation:

Dad: Nancy, what happened?
Nancy: Dad...I got shot by a criminal mastermind.
Dad: A criminal mastermind? What was his plan?
Nancy: He...taped phones together.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Room Cleaning

Remember in June, how I talked about my project to clean up my room?  The project has finally continued, with me cleaning up about seven shelves full of things.  The things I found include...
  • A half-page of notes on how to solve the puzzles in Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull
  • Eleven pens and five pencils
  • An academic decathalon medal from 2000
  • A coupon for two free Jack-in-the-Box tacos
  • A patch for Trees of Mystery
  • An Easter egg
I need to clean up more often.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sleepy Time Gal

I inherited my grandmother's music collection when she died a while back.  One of the songs I liked was Sleepy Time Gal.  The version of the song on Youtube is rather slow; Grandma had a dance version of the song which is faster and more interesting.

So I've had this song memorized for a while. Imagine my shock when I learned that the song has lyrics.  Now I feel compelled to memorize the lyrics, simply because I know the tune.

I also feel compelled to go through all her other songs, and see if they have lyrics, too.  What about the polka for I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, or the trumpet rendition Make the World Go Away?  Those titles sound like they would be for songs with lyrics.

Does that ever happen to you, readers?  Do you memorize a tune, without knowing that it has official lyrics?  Or do they tend not to make instrumental versions of songs anymore?  I don't think I ever hear instrumentals on the radio, certainly not instrumental versions of Sleepy Time Gal.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

One Bad Apple

This week's new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was entitled One Bad Apple.  It was a Cutie Mark Crusaders episode (the main characters' little sisters).  In general, I usually skip over CMC episodes.  I don't really like them that much; I much prefer episodes that star the main characters.

The episode focused on the semi-relevant topic of bullying prevention, which has been all over children's media for a while.  Apple Bloom's cousin, Babs Seed, comes to stay in town for a week.  Babs becomes a bully and torments the CMC for a while.

The CMC decide to strike back, with an overly-complicated prank involving a parade float.  Eventually, they learn that Babs is a good person.  She's just misguided, thanks to some bully problems of her own.  They all become best friends and live happily ever after.

It was a simplistic episode, with a straightforward moral and a simple ending. I didn't see much to like or dislike about it, and I probably won't bother to watch it again.  I think the only thing I have to say is a lament that Applejack gets more lines in her sister's episodes than in her own episodes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device Walkthrough

My official video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device is live on Youtube! I'm going to release two videos a day, until the walkthrough is over.





I've only done ten videos so far, and I'm around the halfway point of the game. Hopefully, I can finish the video walkthrough, before the videos catch up to me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Obamacare

Today's Friday news happened two weeks ago.  You might have noticed that, over the past few months, not much has been said about Obamacare and the immoral HHS mandate that requires public funding for abortions.  I think everyone was waiting to see what the results of the Presidential Election would be, before making official statements on Obamacare.

Now that President Obama (and consequently, Obamacare) is here to stay, people are starting to speak up about it.  And by "people", I mean "corporations", which are not people.  Big corporations are strongly opposed to Obamacare, because they don't want to pay for their employees' health care.

Quiz time! What are corporations, like Papa John's, Walmart and Denny's, doing as a response to Obamacare?

a) Increase prices, to offset the money of paying for health care.
b) Demote as many employees as possible to part time workers.
c) Both 1 and 2.

The answer is "c".  Note that these corporations currently make more than enough money to give healthcare to all their employees.  They just don't want to, because that would cut into profits.

In what I like to call "ridiculously cruel", restaurants that implementing an imaginary 5% Obamacare tax recommend that customers make up for it, by only giving waiters a 10% tip.  That's taking a 5% tip away from minimum-wage workers, and giving it to the millionaires instead.  Ugh.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Today on Three Things Thursday, I've got three fun moments from my video walkthrough for Nancy Drew: Secret at Shadow Ranch.

1. The start of this video, where Nancy wraps up the mystery of Chapter 5. I think it took me over an hour to do that relatively short shot.



2. The voice I used for crazy Prospect Polly.



3. In what some people call the highlight of the entire game, Nancy gets flirty with Dave. 6:42, of this video:


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cards

I keep a collection of every card I've ever received.  Just the other day, I went through the letters I got this year (2012), so I could add them to the archive.

I need to do a better job of checking my cards when I receive them.  I found a $50 birthday check and $10 cash from May.

Granny is going to believe me when I say I didn't write her a thank you card, because I just now got her present, right?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Latin. Duh.

Since I know some Latin (less that 1,000 words), I sometimes have major "duh" moments, when I figure out what a word means.

For example, I was at a gas station that asked me if I wanted to use credit or debit.  I always forget the difference between the two, and I was trying to remember which one is which.  Then I remembered that "debit" literally means "owe" in Latin, as in "Marcus owes me a pizza"--Marcus debit me pizza.

I still don't know the difference between a credit card and a debit card, but I felt really stupid for not realizing the two words mean "loan" and "owe".

The other day, I was thinking about Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights.  I spent about a minute trying to translate Aurora Borealis into English, when I suddenly realized that it literally means "northern lights".  That was another big "duh" moment for me.  Also, I felt dumb for trying to translate something which is already translated.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Too Many Pinkie Pies

Following last week's post, I've decided that I'm going to review all the new episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  That'll be a nice little ten-week series for me to write.

Yesterday's new episode was Too Many Pinkie Pies.  In this episode, Pinkie Pie (the crazy pony) clones herself with a magic mirror.  Disaster ensues as the clones make their own clones, and soon there are 40 Pinkie Pies running around and wreaking havoc.
  • You were able to tell the difference between Pinkie and her clones, because the clones all had mental problems (such as the inability to remember names).  That unintentionally reminded me of Clone #4 from the movie Multiplicity.
  • It's an okay episode overall, but I didn't like the ending sequence, where they got rid of the clones by killing them with exploding magic.  It seemed unnecessarily violent to me, despite the assurance that no clones were harmed in the making of this episode.
  • Also, Twilight had a hair trigger during the entire "get rid of the clones" scene.  Some clones got killed, when all they did was turn their heads to the side.  You think Twilight would be more careful when it comes to not accidentally killing one of her friends.
  • There was a weird scene, where somone finds a hidden compartment inside the library, containing a magical book.  Nobody comments on this at all, as if it's perfectly normal to find unknown hidden compartments.
  • They did an interesting job, showing how Pinkie reacts to her clones. It's nice to see her show emotions besides "hyper" or "completely insane".

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Deadly Device Speedrun

Earlier this week, I was stuck on Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device.  I figured out what the problem was.  It turns out that you have to ask Mason about Ryan's possible motive for murder. Otherwise, you'll get stuck in the lab later on.

What a weird trigger.  I mean, you can't use the photolithography lab or go into the Tesla coil control booth, without first asking Mason about something unrelated to those two things.

I guess it's the game's way of making sure that you talk to all the characters.

I'm trying to plan a speedrun for Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device, but I'm running into a lot of triggers like this.  They did a really good job, making sure you have to do things in a certain order.  You can't do the 3D model puzzle early; you can't do the book puzzle early; in fact, the only thing you can do early is get a high score on Aggregation.

So right now, it looks like my speedrun is just going to be "Michael plays the game normally", because I can't think of any time-saving techniques. Any suggestions?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Gaston Boast Generator

Time for a pointless little game!  You know Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast?  The one who always boasts about his accomplishments?  He's always saying things like, "No one hunts beasts like Gaston!  No one eats eggs like Gaston!  No one gets left out of Kingdom Hearts like Gaston!"

Let's randomly generate a Gaston boast, shall we?

No one [verb] [noun] like Gaston!

Step 1: Get a verb from the Random Verb Generator. That's your verb.
Step 2: Hit the "random article" button on Wikipedia.  That's your noun.

Samples:

No one familiarizes Traou Mad like Gaston!
No one glues Leland Hawes like Gaston!
No one releases the Roman dam of Bellas like Gaston!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gray Cortright

Hey everyone. I wasn't able to play any Nancy Drew at all yesterday, but I did set up a fake Facebook account for Gray Cortright, the security guy in Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device. Feel free to add him as a friend!

Basically, I created him for a Facebook game, and I didn't want to be the jerk who sends Facebook Game Requests to friends. So I made a fake account. Now Gray and I can send stuff back and forth in the game, and I can get all those precious, precious achievement points.  And unlockable characters and stuff, too.

I mean, instead of adding ten friends in the game, I'll just add Gray ten times. The game developers aren't smart enough to see through that ruse, right?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Deadly Device Walkthrough

I made some progress on my walkthrough for Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device.  I made it all the way through the first third of game or so.  It was sort of tricky to figure out what happens in this portion of the game, because it has a lot of one-time things that introduce you to characters and such.  Things like...

1. The first time Nancy enters the lounge, the power goes out.
2. The first time Nancy talks to Ellie, she gets a tour of the lab.
3. The first time Nancy uses her alarm clock, there is a power emergency.
4. The second time Nancy uses her alarm clock, Deirdre calls.
5. The third time Nancy uses her alarm clock, Deirdre calls and agrees to help with the case.

Unfortunately for my walkthrough, I got stuck at the lab, and I'm not sure how to progress.  I need to do something to trigger the loud humming noise (which lets me get rid of Ellie, so I can snoop in her area and take some items needed for puzzles).  However, I have no idea what to do.  I tried checking the support forums, but no luck.

I guess tomorrow, I'll spend another hour trying to figure out what it is I have to do next.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device Tasklist

I'm working on my text walkthrough for Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device.  I thought it might help if I had a separate section for each item on the tasklist, so I typed out the entire thing.

1. Read Case File
2. Investigate Ryan
3. Meet Everyone at the Lab
4. View the Security Video Mentioned in the Case File
5. Explore Niko's Office
6. Investigate the Log-In Irregularity from the Night of the Murder
7. Explore the Halls
8. Explore the Lounge
9. Power Off the Electrical Grid
10. Snoop in Ellie's Workspace
11. Get a High Score in the Aggregation Arcade Game
12. Snoop in Mason's Workplace
13. Snoop in the Security Booth
14. Find Something to Open the Locked Lab
15. Explore the Tech Workshop
16. Use the Key Card to Get Past a Locked Door
17. Find the Password for Mason's Computer
18. Figure Out What the Video File Referenced on Mason's Computer Shows
19. Power on Gray's Computer
20. Figure Out the Password for Gray's Computer
21. Figure Out the Password to Activate the Keycard Program
22. Inquire After the Loud Humming Near the Lab
23. Find a Way to listen to the Audio Card
24. Get Koko Mallos for Ryan
25. Investigate Ryan's Threats Against Niko
26. Explore the Lab
27. Repair the Small Tesla Coil in the Lab
28. Explore the Tesla Coil Lab
29. Explore the Photolithography Lab
30. Unlock the Supply Closet in the Photolithography Lab
31. Find the Missing Bottle of Hydrofluoric Acid
32. Repair the Tesla Coil
33. Replace the Capacitors in the Tesla Coil
34. Unlock the Control Booth Door
35. Unlock the Supply Cabinet
36. Make a New Circuit Board for the Small Tesla Coil
37. Manufacture the Missing Part for the Tesla Coil
38. Follow up with Victor about New Evidence on Ryan
39. Track Down Some New Leads
40. Escape from the Photo Lab
41. Find Out Why Mason Was in the Lab After Hours
42. Find Out What Gray Was Shredding
43. Figure Out the Meaning of the List of Book Titles from Ellie's Desk
44. See What's Inside Niko's Notebook
45. Find Out Who the Owner of the Key Card from Mason and Ellie's Office Is
46. Break into Ellie's Cellphone
47. From the Shredded Page, Find Out What's Been Placed in "Safe Keeping"
48. View the Video Referenced in Gray's Lock Box
49. Figure Out What the Extra Data Showing on the Video with Gray Means
50. Track Down the Source of the Alarm
51. Save Mason!
52. Find a Way Back into the Lab
53. Play Niko's Song on the Small Tesla Coil
54. Illuminate a Black Light Under the Glow
55. Find a Way Past the Biometric Fingerprint Scanner
56. Get Victor's Candy for Ryan
57. Stop the Elevator from Crashing!
58. Make a Fake Fingerprint
59. Explore Niko's Study
60. Listen to the Audio Diaries from Niko's Study
61. Discover the Pigeon's Secret
62. Figure Out the Importance of Frequency 37
63. Turn on Niko's Video System and See What's On It
64. Find the Password for Niko's Video System
65. Get the USB with the Video Showing Niko's Murderer Out of the Lab
66. Find a Way to Safely Get the Video Out of Niko's Study and to the Police
67. Avoid Electrocution!
...Maybe I'll use the checklist from Master Sleuth mode instead. You know, the task list that doesn't take note of every small detail?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Timon

You know what they should make a movie out of?  The story of Timon.  I know Shakespeare made a play about him, but hardly anyone ever reads it.  In fact, the play is so bad that scholars like to think someone else wrote it.

Timon lived in Ancient Greece.  He was basically a rich party boy, who spent most of his time throwing parties with all of his friends.  Eventually, he used up all of his money.  He thought his friends would help him out, but they all bailed on him.  He had to move out of Athens and become a farmworker.

One day, while he was working in the fields, he found a huge pot of gold that someone had buried.  Timon became rich again, and he moved back to Athens.  His old friends reappeared, expecting a huge party.  Timon went completely postal on them.

That's a true story, even though the pot of gold part sounds like it was made up. I dunno, I just think that they could make an entertaining comedy based on that premise.  Timon loses his money, becomes unexpectedly rich again, then swears revenge on all his former friends.  When's the last time you've seen a good revenge comedy?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crystal Empire

I wanted to do a live Twitter-stream while watching the 2-part season premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but I decided not to, because it might annoy my followers who don't know about the show.

I have no problems annoying you blog readers, so here's my analysis of The Crystal Empire two-parter.
  • The plot is that the Crystal Ponies have become depressed amnesiacs. So our heroes have to save them all, by putting on a historical fair.  Makes sense to me!
  • Princess Luna is super-grumpy during the exposition scene.  Really?  Girl, you only get one scene per season; you need to make yours count.
  • Shining Armor is the worst unicorn ever.  At the start of the first episode, he gets black stains on his horn, and that stops him from doing anything else for the entire two-parter.  It never occurs to him that he can, you know, wash the stains off.
  • To put things in perspective: Shining Armor is a Mary Sue.  He's a Prince, Captain of the Royal Guard and the most powerful (male) unicorn in the entire world.  But a little dirt on his horn manages to stop him cold for two episodes.  Worst unicorn ever!
  • During the big climax, Shining Armor picks up his exhausted wife and throws her at the villain.  I kid you not.  WORST UNICORN EVER.
  • No, wait, throwing his wife at the villain actually kills the villain.  Woah!  Maybe that was Shining Armor's plan all along.  Best unicorn ever?
  • They end the episode with a pun, a song, and the Mysterious Book of Foreshadowing.  I approve.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Novel

November is National Novel Writing Month.  The challenge is to write a 50,000 word story/book/novel/whatever in a month.

Do you guys think I should enter?  What should I write about?  Is it too late for me to catch up to all the other people who have been writing for about two weeks?

I mean...I kind of want to do it, but it's getitng late in the month, and I don't want to ignore my other stories.  Like the Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill story, for instance.  That thing hasn't been touched since October 26th.  I'd like to finish that before starting something new.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

I saw Wreck-It Ralph yesterday.  I arrived about 25 minutes late, because I left the house late and walked all the way to the theater.  It ended up being perfect timing, because I showed up about half a minute after the movie started.

Man, that's a lot of previews I miseed out on.

The movie itself was pretty good.  It's all about characters who live in the videogame world.  There are three videogames that they show: a 1980's arcade game, a modern first person shooter, and a go-kart game with a candy theme.  Those are all vastly different games, and they did a good job of making each of those areas feel unique and true to its genre.  If you ever got bored with the movie, you could have fun simply looking at all the cool backgrounds and environments.

The two main characters of the movie are going through an...occupational crisis, where they want to change who they are and what they do.  Ralph wants to change from a villain to a hero.  Vanelope wants to change from an unused glitch character to a real character.  It actually took me a moment or two to understand Vanelope's backstory, because when she started saying things like "I was never supposed to exist.  I'm just an accident that no one wanted," my mind instantly thought she was talking about abortion.

I'm not sure what else I can say, without going into huge detail.  Some of the videogame jokes are clever, like the inclusion of the Koonami code, but there's never a situation where a non-gamer won't understand what's going on.  I didn't like the way they ended Vanelope's storyline, but it'd be spoilerrific if I said more about that.  Also, on the whole, I'm not a fan of Disney movies without characters singing, but the film is so good that I won't hold that against it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Voting Edition

1. I mentioned earlier that the death penalty was on the California ballot this year.  The people voted to keep using the death penalty, which is a complete tragedy because deliberate murder is wrong in all circumstances.  It passed with a majority of 5.6%, or a little over half a million votes.

2. My particular county in California still has 200,000 uncounted votes.  Most of them are mail-in ballots.  I'm not entirely sure what's up with my county and mail-in ballots, to be honest.  A few years ago, the government changed my mother's voting status "person who votes in her home town" to "permanent vote-by-mail in the next town over".  My dad lives in the same house as her, but votes in a different city.

The decision kind of reeks of gerrymandering, to be honest.  Or as we call it in California, "Jerrymandering".  Speaking of which, Governor Jerry Brown is probably pleased at the failure of Prop 40, which wanted to redo the current voting districts that favor his party.

3.  For the record, Wikipedia uses California's voting districts for four of their ten examples of gerrymandering in the United States.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Results

[Written 9:40 PM, PST, on Tuesday.]

Okay, so what happened this election day?

I'm not sure. Following elections news is hard, because every station jumps the gun in the rush to be first to figure out who the President is.  So, for example, the news reporters said Obama won California, when only 2% of the ballots in California had been counted.  That's highly inaccurate and offensive to the name of journalism.

If the news people are right in their guesses...Romney got more votes, but Obama won overall, because he got Ohio.  That's what the news people are saying; Ohio got to pick our next President.  But I'm looking at the map, and I have no idea how Obama won Ohio, because I'm seeing Romney outnumbering him at least three to one.

Hmmm...you know what? I'm going to sleep now. Maybe when I wake up tomorrow, the vote tallies will be more complete.  As of now, North Carolina is the only state that has counted all its ballots.  That makes it too early to know for sure, but I'm guessing the news folks are right about four more years for Obama.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

It's Election Day! Hooray hooray hooray.

I hope that this year, the same candidate who wins the popular vote also wins the election.  People have been running numbers through the electoral college, and things are looking weird.  It's probable that one candidate will get more votes overall and win more states overall, yet still lose the election.

Of course, for a long time, it's been possible to become President, just by winning 11 states.  But that's a technicality, which hasn't ever really been a serious possibility.  This year, however...a discrepancy between how people vote and who gets elected seems entirely possible.  I just hope that doesn't happen.

Thought experiment: What would happen, if one candidate became President while losing the popular vote?  How would the country react?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Electoral College

You know, I'm one of the people who thinks that the electoral college is a flawed system which should be replaced.  My home state of California gets 55 votes in the electoral college, which is more than any other state.  Technically, if California wanted to be a jerk, it could pretty much override the decisions made by at ten other states.

Oddly enough, the flaw in the system isn't that California makes other states irrelevant.  It's that other states make California irrelevant.  Actually, only about six or so states matter in the upcoming election, the so-called "battleground states" where the candidates spend all their time and energy. The other 44 states are pretty much a foregone conclusion, thereby making voting in those states highly unnecessary.  I'd prefer a system where all the states are important, not just a few.

Wouldn't it be unexpected if, say, New Hampshire's three electoral college votes end up deciding the election?  It's possible.  New Hampshire is a swing state.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election

I had a long blog post prepared about the upcoming election, but it was kind of mean, so I deleted it.

I think the problem I have is that both candidates seem to be typical politicians, whose behavior during campaigns has little to no correlation with their behavior in office.  He'll promise you the moon in order to get your vote, but once he has it, you're instantly forgotten, and he just follows his own agenda.

Sigh...in representative democracy, the politicians are supposed to represent the people, not themselves...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thorton Hall

Want to see the teaser trailer for the 28th Nancy Drew game, Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thorton Hall?

It's right here.



I watched this with Phoenix, and she screamed loudly. I'm going to edit that into the video walkthrough I'm doing with her.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Resident Evil 4

To get into the Halloween spirit, I decided to play Resident Evil : Degeneration for the iPhone.  I've never played any Resident Evil games before.  All I know is that it's a horror series, where you go around, shooting zombies.  The demo for the game is free, and I know the series is popular, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

The plot of the game, as far as I can tell, is that terrorists have hijacked a plane.  These terrorists must be incredibly incompetent, because about a minute later, they accidentally drove the plane into the side of the airport, instantly killing themselves.

Here's the weird twist.  The terrorists had Zombie Disease, so everyone at the airport has now been infected.  Our hero, Leon Kennedy, has been sent to Zombie International Airport to save a US Senator, who is waiting in the VIP lounge.  The senator figures he's safe there, because none of the zombies have VIP privileges.

I don't know if it's the iPhone controls or what, but Leon moves very, very slowly.  Maybe he's trying to give the zombies a fighting chance, because if he moved at a normal speed, he'd easily outrun them.  The gameplay was mostly Leon wandering around through the airport, and occasionally shooting zombies, then stealing their money.

I only played for about ten minutes, but from what I can tell, it's an okay game.  It reminded me a bit of Tomb Raider, for some reason, despite the fact the two games are nothing alike.  I would have enjoyed it more if the controls worked better, but that's what I get for playing the iPhone version.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mmmbop Dance

Hey blog readers! I have an exclusive for you!

For one of the upcoming videos I'm making with Phoenix, there will be a short thing of me doing a victory dance. I recorded myself dancing for about a minute, so I would have plenty of footage to pick from. I thought you might like to see it.

Here's the full dance video. I'll probably take it down next week. From what I understand, Hanson has some really good lawyers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Otherworld: Spring of Shadows

Today, I've got a Halloween video for everyone to enjoy! It's a short video of me playing a horror game.



I had no idea that it was a horror game. The other games I played by that company were all really bright and cheery games, so this caught me totally by surprise.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

World Series

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series!  They're the local baseball team, so everyone is super excited.  They managed to defeat Detroit without losing a single game, too, which is very impressive!

As I mentioned last year, the Giants didn't even make the playoffs.  In fact, here's a chart of their past five seasons:

2007-08: Didn't make the playoffs at all.
2008-09: Didn't make the playoffs at all.
2009-10: World Series Champions!
2010-11: Didn't make the playoffs at all.
2011-12: World Series Champions!

So apparently, whenever the Giants are in the playoffs, they become the World Series Champions.  Good to know!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Road Trip (Part 15): Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri

After going to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, I drove south through Wisconsin. The weather turned horrible, and it got very stormy.  While I drove, two towns in Wisconsin caught my eye.  Cheboygan got my attention because that's a funny name.  Milwaukee got my attention because it seemed like a great place.  It seemed about five times better than Green Bay was; if I ever visit Wisconsin again, that's where I'd like to go.

South of Wisconsin is Illinois.  I tried my best to avoid Chicago and its horrible toll roads of doom. They will charge you two dollars to get on the main freeway, and then charge you two dollars to get off the same freeway. That's bogus, Chicago. I had a minor misadventure trying to get Chicago pizza, which was a total failure. As a result, I was hungry AND eight miles out of the way, in Deerfield. It took a half hour for me to get back on track, what with the bad traffic and the toll road avoidance.

So...yeah, it was not a nice day, due to stormy weather, bad tolls, traffic and getting lost.  I managed to find my relatives, however, and we had a nice dinner together.  The next day was slightly better, although it was still quite stormy.

I drove to St. Louis that day, and about the only exciting thing I did was visit an antique market where I purchased four Nancy Drew books.  I also visited the Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, in Saint Charles.  The shrine was a huge disappointment; it's basically a small church with her tomb inside. It is completely barren; the clock on the wall is one of the nicest things there.  I did manage to peek into the locked basement area, and I caught a glimpse of statues and an official Vatican declaration.  Why don't they have those interesting things in the shrine itself?

The shrine is connected to Sacred Heart Academy, which St. Rose Duchesne worked at.  It is still a fully functioning school.  The school had much better things to see than the shrine did.  Funny how that worked out.

I spent the night at the Crowne Plaza hotel, which was way too classy for my tastes.  So instead, I wandered around for a few blocks, until I found a sports bar.  That night, the Saint Louis Cardinals (baseball team) were competing in the Wild Card game.  That's a game where the two best teams who didn't make the playoffs compete against each other, and the winner gets into the playoffs.  The Cardinals won, and of course, it was a lot of fun celebrating the big playoff game in St. Louis with actual St. Louis fans.

Tourist warning: Do not get the St. Louis Blues Bleu Cheeseburger, which is tiny, expensive and not tasty.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Road Trip (Part 14): Our Lady of Good Help

I went to Wisconsin, so I could visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, located in an unincorporated town called Champion.  It's about fifteen minutes northeast of Green Bay.  The shrine is built where the Virgin Mary appeared three times to a Belgian woman named Adele Brise.  Adele later became Sister Adele and dedicated her life to teaching children, as the Blessed Mother requested.

This happened in 1859.  At that time, they only had one priest to cover a large area in Wisconsin. There was no way that he could take care of everything by himself. As a result, a lot of the Catholics ended up doing non-Catholic things, like supporting slavery or worshipping saints, simply because they weren't educated in true church teachings.  Therefore, Sister Adele's mission was both noble and necessary.

The problem of people not knowing church teachings happens a lot today, too, even though we have the Internet, and people can easily get information. For example, you'll sometimes hear Catholics complain that they don't know what the word "consubstantial" means; the odd part is that they rarely go through the trouble of looking up the definition.

Even though the apparitions took place in 1859, the local Bishop did not give official approval to it until 2010.  You can't blame the Bishop for taking a long time with the process.  There have been at least three Marian apparitions in the United States which were proven to be hoaxes upon official investigation.  Here is what the Bishop said in his offical document: "I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Road Trip (Part 12): Minneaoplis

Minneapolis has bad traffic.  Seattle's problem was that it had four or five highways converge into a huge mess of crazy.  Minneapolis has the same problem, with a twist.  They purposely tried to get all the highways to intersect and merge.  That way, you won't have a long wait before you reach the highway you want, no matter where you're going or where you start from.

It's a good plan, actually.  The downside is that the roads have more forks than a silverware convention.  It's helpful when my GPS tells me to "take the left fork", but when there are three froks in quick succession, my GPS can't react quickly enough, and I end up taking the wrong one.

The city was also undergoing large construction work that day, so many streets and highways were closed.  I ended up having to take a half-hour detour through the University of Minnesota.  It's a nice-looking campus, but it takes way too long to go through.

In Minneapolis, I drove past all three stadiums.  The baseball one is in a bad part of town that I would never want to visit at night.  The football one seems like it's in an inconvenient location; it feels sort of squeezed into a place near the highway.  The hockey stadium seemed like it had the best location, with plenty of open parking lots and everything.

I think the saving grace in Minneapolis was a great radio station I found called Jack FM.  The gimmick behind the station is that they don't have any DJ banter.  Ever.  I really liked it, and I'm going to start listening to it online.

Once I finally left the traffic disaster of the Twin Cities, I went through Wisconsin. I got some cheese at a local dairy on the way to Green Bay, but I left it alone too long and it spoiled.  Now I don't know what their famous cheese tastes like.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Road Trip (Part 13): Twin Cities Cathedrals

While I was in the twin cities, I visited the two big churches (one per city).  Minneapolis has St. Mary's Basilica, which is the first Basilica in the United States of America.  Unfortunately, it seems to have fallen into disrepair, from lack of use.  For example, the confessionals are used as storage closets, not confessionals.  It kind of depressed me.  The Basilica would be a beautiful place if everything was in use and up-to-date, but I guess they have more tourists than parishioners.

The only part of the Basilica that seemed to be thriving was the basement area, where they have all the paintings and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  One of the women there thought I was a homeless man who came seeking help.  We chatted for a bit about St. Vincent de Paul; the group they have in Minnesota is doing much better than the group we have in Palo Alto (who got evicted from their building a few years back).

This was my favorite of the ten paintings in the St. Vincent de Paul area.

The doors were the most recently refurbished things in the Basilica.

The good news is that the Cathedral of Saint Paul in St. Paul was much nicer (and it has free parking!).  It's located in a much better area, too; it's close to the State Capitol Building.  The only downside to the Cathedral is that the smaller saints chapels were badly lit; I arrived during the week they were changing the light fixtures there.

A highlight of the Cathedral would be the display of the relics of Saint John Vianney, including his clerical collars.  The other highlight would be the four absolutely gigantic statues of the evangelists, one in each corner.

Saint Mark

A copy of Michelangelo's Pieta, but not done in marble