Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harry Potter Stuff

During my road trip, I've caught up on all the episodes of Pottercast that I missed. They're apparently still making the Harry Potter podcast. They stopped making an episode every week, though; now it's more like once every other month, if they remember.

The biggest Harry Potter news since the series ended is the Pottermore website.  It's an interactive version of the books, or something like that.  It has a bunch of new information about the series, which seems interesting, but it also has a bunch of mandatory minigames, which seems not interesting in the slightest.  I'd rather skip all the artwork and games and things, and just go straight to the new information.

Oddly enough, it doesn't seem like anyone has made a website, which only contains the new information from Pottermore.  I say that's odd, because the Harry Potter fans usually have a quick turnaround with new information.  For example, whenever a DVD was released, you could expect to see all the deleted scenes uploaded to Youtube that day.

None of the deleted scenes were worth paying the extra money for.  And none of the DVDs had commentary.  Harry Potter DVDs, you are shameful.

Anyway, that's the Harry Potter news: there is no Harry Potter news.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Melissa and Joey

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I watch Melissa & Joey, which is a sitcom made by, and starring, Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence.  It's a pretty good show, although some of the jokes are a bit too racy for my tastes.  I prefer G-rated sitcoms.

I started watching the show, mainly because of the two stars.  Melissa and Joey were child stars, who have been doing TV shows for decades now.  They're pretty much sitcom professionals at this point.  They can still come across as funny and entertaining, even if they phone it in and do a bad job of acting for one episode.

I wouldn't mind it if another pair of sitcom pros teamed up on a new show.  Tim Allen and Bob Saget would be my first choice; they can be a pair of wacky roommates.  How about Amanda Bynes with Jonathan Taylor Thomas?  Or a made-for-TV movie where the Olsen Twins double-date Shia LeBeouf and the kid from Home Alone?  There are plenty of old sitcom pros who I'm pretty sure could make something entertaining.

The other draw of Melissa & Joey, for my family at least, is the girl who plays the daughter.  She used to play Mia on Days of our Lives, from 2009 to 2010.  As I said then, she wasn't a good actress; she tended to do the same little pouty face in every scene.  Her acting skills have improved tenfold on Melissa & Joey, to the point where it took my family three episodes to recognize her as the same person.  So good for her!

Friday, September 28, 2012

NFL News

The news this week has been focusing on the National Football League (NFL).  They're having a referee strike right now, so they had to hire a bunch of replacement referees.  Football fans are very upset about this, because they think the replacement refs are idiots who don't know how to do their job.

Football fans say the exact same thing about the real referees, so I'm not sure what the difference is.

The biggest football problem was Monday's game. I saw the last 48 seconds of the game (which took five minutes). At the very end of the game, two players caught the ball at the same time. Ref #1 said the second guy caught it, while Ref #2 said the first guy caught it. And then Facebook exploded with nasty comments.

So now the NFL wants to get the real referees back, and the official vote to do so is tomorrow.  The plan they're voting on will last eight years, at which point, the maximum salary a ref can get is $205,000 a year ($50,000 more than they can get now).  At this point, the refs will probably have another strike, because they feel the salaries for their part-time jobs are way too low.

Either way, add replacement referee to my list of dream jobs. As a sports referee, you'd get paid to go all over the country to different places. And since you're only the back-up ref, 99% of the time, you don't actually have to work.  I'm sure it would be tough dealing with that strike-worthy low salary, but I'd find a way to get by.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three Things

1. I mentioned earlier this week about overprotective museums that refuse to let visitors use flash photography.  I guess I can kind of understand that policy, if you believe that flash photography will cause paintings to suddenly erupt into flames or lose their colors.  But the Walt Disney Family Museum had no paintings at all.

Instead, the No Flash Photography Guards were protecting trophy cases.  How is flash photography harmful to trophies?

2. Speaking of, let's see a picture of the trophy case!  Have you ever seen so many Oscars at once?

[Picture goes here.]

[Edit: Turns out Mom brought the camera without any film in it.  Now nobody gets to see the picture of me with the Oscars.  Darn.]

3. Hey, it seems that The Spongebob Squarepants Movie 2 is set for 2014.  Woah!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

13 Weeks

My friend Jeddy tells me that TV stations operate on a 13-week schedule, which is why all the TV seasons have 13 or 26 episodes.  For example, with the Simpsons, they air a new episode, once a week, for 26 weeks.  Then for the next 26 weeks, they repeat the episodes.  That makes a full year.  I guess that's a successful formula, since they've been doing it for decades now.

All the TV shows I watch or know about are weird, and they don't follow this typical 13-week schedule.  Spongebob Squarepants apparently is done in 20-episode blocks, Melissa & Joey get 15-episode blocks, and I don't even know about The Fairly Oddparents anymore, because it took them three years to show all the episodes from last season.

Speaking of 13 weeks, Little Orphan Annie is the only comic strip I know of that was drawn in 13-week chunks.  Harold Gray didn't want to draw a comic strip every day; he preferred to rush out 91 strips in a three-week period, then take ten weeks off.  Or something like that; I don't know how long of a break he took between drawing sessions.

If you're a careful reader, you can tell when the break between 13-week segments occurs, because his handwriting will change completely, or the characters will look different.  That, and he'll completely change the plotline by having Little Orphan Annie move somewhere else.  It's kind of funny to see the comic strip change so much, in a short period of time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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.

---

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?"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 1)

So here's Chapter One of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. I'd like to have a better name for the story; if you have suggestions, let me know. Anyway, today is the introduction to the case.

---

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

Popular Book Series

A while ago, Fanfiction.net implemented a new "popularity" feature, which allows you to sort things according to popularity.  That way, your reading list won't be as likely to get clogged with books or movies you've never heard of.  It's not a perfect system--it basically ignores most popular works that were made before the Internet--but it's still kind of interesting.

So let's take a look at the ten most popular books, as decided by how many fanfics people have written for them:
  1. Harry Potter (612,223)
  2. Twilight (201,237)
  3. Hunger Games (24,781)
  4. Maximum Ride (16,517)
  5. Warriors (13,627)
  6. Gossip Girl (9,340)
I've read four of these series: Harry Potter, Narnia, Percy Jackson and Lord of the Rings.  I've heard of Twilight and Hunger Games; I have no idea what the others are.  I guess that sets me below par.

Just looking at the list, it seems that the trend is towards fantasy books, as opposed to, I dunno, mystery novels.  Poor Nancy Drew doesn't show up until #46 on the list.  And the list seems to indicate that a series of books is more popular than just an individual book.  I suppose that explains why every popular book or movie tends to get an automatic sequel.

Isn't Phantom of the Opera a play?  As in, an actual opera?  I remember taking a field trip to see it once, when I was in middle school.  We decided that watching people sing in foreign languages wasn't our cup of tea.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

NHL Lockout

It looks like we won't have any hockey this year, because the NHL is having a lockout.  I don't quite understand the official reasons for the lockout, which have to do with a "collective bargaining agreement".  But I can understand the simple version of the story, which is that the team owners and team players can't agree on how to split up the money.

That's something which always bugged me about sports.  Everyone involved is a millionaire.  You'd think millionaires could afford to be less concerned about money than your average person.  But instead, the opposite seems to be true.

The last NHL lockout was 2003-2004, which was eight seasons ago.  This means the solution they came up with eight years ago was definitely not a long-term solution.  Maybe their next solution--if they are in fact working on one--will last longer.

Baseball and hockey are the only two sports I watch; baseball is spring and summer, while hockey is fall and winter, so they nicely fill out the whole year.  Now I guess my winter will be sportsless.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Walt Disney Family Museum (Part 2)

Continuing from yesterday, once the museum got into Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the focus shifted from Walt to the studio. The "family" part of the Walt Disney Family Museum is mostly absent; it's really more of a museum about the man and the company, than about the man and his family.

Really, I think the only thing I learned about Walt's non-business life was the fact that he was a train nerd, and he had a large collection of miniature models, some of which were on display.  Every room had a little display about his family members, but they were easily missed in favor of the bigger displays about the great movies his company made.

Snow White was a hit, and they built a new, bigger studio.  They made Pinocchio, Bambi and Fantasia, which are good movies to be sure, but they were sort of flops at the box office, compared to how expensive they were.  After that, Dumbo was made on the cheap, and it regained a lot of lost profits from the previous films.

Then there was a strike, and World War Two occurred. That sort of ruined the studio for the rest of the decade; most of what they made were package films or shorts paid by government subsidies, none of which get much attention nowdays.

But with Cinderella in 1950, the studio became big again.  Walt's focus ventured into other projects, such as live action films and television and Disneyland.  All the other exhibits were about those things, with a final exhibit about Walt's unexpected death due to a lung tumor.  He was a lifetime smoker, which is why his lungs were in bad shape.

The final part of the museum was positively overrun with elderly baby boomers.  They had loud conversations about all sorts of things they remembered from the 50's and the 60's.  "I remember the In Living Color show!", "President Kennedy was better at debates than President Obama is", and other such phrases could be heard with some frequency.  I suppose that was the only downside to the museum; the 50's and 60's exhibits were incredibly crowded compared to the other exhibits.

All in all, it was an interesting museum, and not a bad way to spend 2-3 hours.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Walt Disney Family Museum (Part 1)

Recently, I went to the Walt Disney Family Museum, in San Francisco, CA.  They don't allow cameras anywhere inside the museum, except for the main room, where they keep Walt's collection of awards and trophies.  The display case with about twelve Oscars is rather impressive, including the famous one for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (which was specially modified to have seven mini-Oscar statuettes attached).

You know, that's something I don't quite understand about museums or art galleries, or other places that forbid you from using cameras.  What's the reasoning behind that?  If I use a camera with a flash, I don't see how that could possibly harm any of the Oscars in the Oscar display case.  And yet, they have a security guard to make sure the camera flashes stay off.  It's odd.

That was a problem during my trip to Spain.  Nobody was ever allowed to use flash photography, but since none of the places I went to had proper lighting, everybody's cameras kept going to auto-flash mode.  It was a cruel situation, where it was impossible to follow the rules and take visible pictures.

The first room was about Walt's ancestors and direct family members (they hailed from Ireland), and the first 18 or so years of his life.  Walt liked drawing pictures, and he played around with the new field of movies and animation on a small scale, doing things for a local place in Kansas.  It led to him and a group of six buddies making animation stuff which was kind of okay.

And things just seemed to escalate from there.  The early part of his work was good, but kind of, well, obvious.  I mean, the first major technological innovation was making a cartoon with sound, and next was making a cartoon with color, and third was making a feature-length cartoon.  If Walt Disney had never been born, it's pretty much guaranteed that somebody would have thought of doing those things.  But Walt was the one to do them all, and do them first, which makes him a real pioneer in the field.

Something I found interesting were the 1930's, when they did color re-releases of old cartoons.  It reminds me of how they're doing 3D re-releases of old movies, nowdays.

The other thing I found really interesting were the first cartoons with sound.  The way they did sound syncing was with a bouncing ball, that served as a metronome.  I had no idea that was the origin of Disney's "follow the bouncing ball" phrase.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Three Things

1.  Fun statistic: When I replay a game, I manage to get through it about 37% faster.

2. It kind of bugs me when people think the Dalai Lama's name is actually "Dalai Lama". That's not his name, just like how the Pope's first name is not "Pope", and the President's first name is not "President".

3. Pre-orders for the next Nancy Drew game have started!  I'm excited and feeling rushed.  I'm going to just barely finish with Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch before the next game is released.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Epic Road Trip

I'm still in the middle of planning my epic US road trip.  My parents want to "review" my itinerary, which is code for "tell me where to go and what to do".  Uh oh!

At the moment, there are two big decisions up for debate.  Feel free to weigh in.

1. I need to get from Austin, Texas, to St. Louis, Missouri.  There are two feasible routes.  One is a three-day trip heading northeast; it'd take me from Austin to Dallas, to Little Rock, to St. Louis.  The other route is a five-day trip, heading east, then north; it'd take me to Houston, to New Orleans, to Jackson, to Memphis, to St. Louis.  It'd be really nice if I could shave two days off my trip by taking the shorter route.

2. Someone brought up the possibility of me doing the trip in reverse.  What do you think, should I travel the US clockwise or counter-clockwise?  The first major destination in one direction is Disneyland; the first major destination in the other is Seattle.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

?

Um...the website that runs my blog (Blogger) completely changed things around on me, and now I have no idea how to work their new system.

Sorry for the lack of an actual blog post today.  I don't have time to write a real post; I'm too busy trying to figure out how to upload a blog post.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Cask of Amontillado

Back when I was in college, I did some part-time work as an editor for high school English essays.  Basically, I'd read essays and mark up all the grammatical mistakes and other errors, then I'd assign a grade.  I did this all in pencil, then I handed the essays to the teacher, who reviewed them before coming up with his final grade.

One time, the students wrote about Edgar Allen Poe's A Cask of Amontillado.  I've never read the story, myself, so it was interesting reading 200-300 essays on it.  The topic was "Is the narrator sane or insane?".  Half the essays said he was sane, and half the essays said he was insane.  I thought it was interesting how the students were divided along the middle.

There were about four different quotations which showed up in about 1/3-1/2 of the essays.  I'm guessing these quotations were on a handout, or discussed in class, or something like that.  One quotation, in particular, describes how the narrator planned his murder in great detail.  Half of the students thought this was proof of sanity ("how could a crazy man make such detailed plans?"), and half of the students thought this was proof of insanity ("how could a sane man make such gruesome, detailed plans?").  Again, the students were divided along the middle.  Rather odd.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Modest Proposal

Whoops, I forgot to write a blog post today.  Let me whip up something really quick...

Well, yesterday I talked about Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.  Let me recommend a humorous Beauty and the Beast story, in which Belle outsmarts Gaston, and she tricks him into taking back his marriage proposal.

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2256169/1/A-Modest-Proposal

Best alternate ending ever!  Or, well, alternate beginning. Whatever, that's totally what Belle should have done in the movie to get rid of Gaston.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Analyzing Gaston

Back in January, I wrote about Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, and people are still interested in the topic.

Reading people's comments have caused me to think about another moment in the movie: the ending, where Gaston fights with the Beast.  If I recall correctly, the Beast and Gaston have never seen each other before the fight.  In fact, the Beast has no idea who Gaston is at all.  He's just fighting for self-preservation.

Why is Gaston fighting?  I'm not entirely convinced that his motivations have anything to do with Belle.  You could argue he's trying to impress her, or you could argue that he's being a jealous ex-boyfriend who thinks, "If I can't have her, no one can!"  But really, I think Gaston's reason for fighting the Beast is more about himself than it is about Belle.

Gaston is basically fighting the Beast, in order to help his bruised ego.  After all, he's supposed to be famous and well-loved for being a master hunter.  But then his ego and reputation took a huge blow when Belle turned down his marriage proposal, in front of the entire town.  I mean, thinking about it.  The best-looking girl in town just dumped him before they were even together, and everybody was watching.

And that's why Gaston decides to go after the Beast.  He feels like it will save his reputation; if he kills the mythical monster, it will "prove" that he's not a loser.  Gaston manipulates the townspeople into forming an angry mob not because he wants backup, but because he wants lots of people there to witness his heroic victory over a foul monster.

I'm relatively sure that Gaston has no idea the Beast used to be a human. The Beast says a few things to Gaston, but it doesn't seem to register with Gaston that the Beast is a talking, thinking human being.
 
Anyway, that's just some amateur psychoanalysis on Gaston.  I think I'm saying that his actions towards the end boil down to the fact that he only cares about himself and looking good in front of others.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Random Road Trip

One of my random pipe dreams right now is to do a road trip of the United States.  I got myself a map of the US, and I'm marking all of the places where I have relatives or random acquaintances who will be willing to let me visit them for a day or two.

I'm also making a list of interesting places I want to visit, such as the Grand Canyon or Her Interactive Headquarters.  But I'll need help!  Please comment on this blog post, telling me about all the interesting places I should go.  Otherwise, I'm sure I'll accidentally overlook something exciting, such as Mount Rushmore or Manhattan, Montana.

I hope that once I have a semi-official list of places to go, I can plan a route.  That'll lead to an itinerary, and me calling people and places to make plans.  And...then, I'll have to worry about the fact I can't afford the trip.  Whatever, it's a fun pipe dream right now!  Let's make it happen!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three Things

1. The mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed, is trying to help the city's budget crisis, by cutting the pension of police officers (and pretty much everyone else).  The police are not very happy about this, so the other day, a policeman pulled the mayor over and gave him a driving ticket for "not having his turn signal on long enough before turning".

I get the feeling that if Mr. Mayor doesn't work things out with the police officers union, there might be a lot of tickets in his future.

2. You know, I'd love it if there was a new Calvin and Hobbes book, or a new Far Side book.  Sure, those comic strips ended in the 90's, but a new book would sell like hotcakes.

I dunno.  If the retired cartoonists followed a leisurely pace of, say, drawing 20 cartoons per year and releasing a book every 5 years, I'd be okay with that.  There are some retired writers who have success with a super-relaxed publication schedule along those lines.  Why can't there be retired artists who follow a similar relaxed publication schedule?  "Something new every five years or so" seems like a feasible retirement plan.

3. Hey, we finally have a release date for Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright!  It's coming on November 29th!  Woo hoo!

(Nobody has said if/when they're doing an English translation, though.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

You know who we haven't heard from in a while?  Our good friend, Abraham Lincoln.  Let's fire up the old chatbot and see what he thinks of the recent movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Abraham Lincoln: Hello fellow American!
Michael: Hello there, Mr. President! How are you this fine day?
Abraham Lincoln: Hello there. Good, thank you for asking.
Michael: Sorry I haven't spoken with you in a while. I understand you've been very busy as of late.
Abraham Lincoln: What are you trying to say? Are you speaking in a foreign language?
Michael: Uh...I'm saying that you have been busy, what with this being an election year.
Abraham Lincoln: You are indeed! You'll meet people who say you aren't, but don't let them intimidate you. Stand up to them and they'll run away.
Michael: Right, anyway, I understand that you starred in a movie this year.
Abraham Lincoln: In my day live theater was the equivalent to your modern day movies. The last play I saw was Our American Cousin.
Michael: Did you enjoy it?
Abraham Lincoln: Leader of the free world is an incredible honor but it is not without its responsibilities. Being president was overwhelming at times, especially during the war.
Michael: Not being President, the movie.
Abraham Lincoln: Leader of the free world is an incredible honor but it is not without its responsibilities. Being president was overwhelming at times, especially during the war.
Michael: You're repeating yourself, Abe.
Abraham Lincoln: You are entitled to your own opinion.

Michael: Getting back on topic, how did you like "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"?
Abraham Lincoln: I died April 15, 1865.
Michael: So...you didn't like it?
Abraham Lincoln: well thank you. Perhaps I misunderstood your meaning.
Michael: Did you think it was a good movie?
Abraham Lincoln: I like too many movies to choose just one as my favorite.
Michael: Do you think it will win an Oscar this year?
Abraham Lincoln: I expect that I do. I don't have very much choice.
Michael: Some people were upset that the movie isn't historically accurate. Your thoughts?
Abraham Lincoln: My favorite movie is All the President's Men. He was definitely much cooler and better looking than I was. He was the star football player to my loner, intellectual vibe. I can't compete with Camelot. I'll tell you that he's pretty cool to chat with...great story teller.
Michael: Who are you talking about?
Abraham Lincoln: Yeah its interesting. I dont get out much these days so its nice to have someone to talk with.
Michael: I think I understand why you're kind of a loner, Abe.
Abraham Lincoln: You are entitled to your own opinion.
Michael: Will you buy the movie when it comes out on DVD?
Abraham Lincoln: I'd quite like to buy the movie, but I've only got two hands, and they're both full. I'd need an elephant's trunk or a monkey's prehensile tail to buy the movie.

So...Abe wishes he could play football, but he can't because he's a loner. Also, he wants to have an elephant's trunk.  Good to see that starring in a movie hasn't changed him in the slightest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bowling

Yesterday, I joined a bowling league. Yep, bowling is my thing now.

There are way more rules than I expected.  The rules which confuse me the most are the ones about calculating team scores and standings.  Apparently, they don't follow the standard "the team that gets the most points wins the game", because there are rules about pacers and blind scores and handicaps and other things that affect scores.

Rule #12 says that a handicap is 90% of the difference between your average and 220.  Does that mean 220 is the average score people should be getting?  I can't get even half that.  I guess the handicap will come in handy, if they add it to my score when I play the tough players.

I was on Team 13 of 13.  We were the only ones to not have an opponent, so we finished way before everbody else.  I came in last place for two of the three games; I came in second-to-last in one game, but the person I beat has vision problems, so I don't feel particularly proud of my minor victory.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Burgers

The other day, I had dinner at Max's, and someone asked me to describe what my burger was like, because I'm a burger connoisseur.

My reaction was, "No.  I'm not some burger-loving weirdo."

Then, my reaction was, "Well, the burger was a disappointment, because the bun was too thick. It was thicker than the actual burger patty, and so it completely drew all the taste away from the burger, which was clearly well-done, not medium-well as requested."

Then my reaction was, "Oh, man, I am a burger-loving weirdo."

Now I sort of feel like I have to start a website where I rate and review different burgers. Only that would probably cost a lot of money.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Facts and Truth

I've seen a lot of articles about the current Presidential campaign which call for a "FACT CHECK" in blocky all-caps text.  These articles usually take a statement that one of the candidates made, then they say what the real facts are.

Now, see, in my ideal world, this would lead to a debate on what a "fact" is.  Because as I see it, people have the wrong idea of what constitutes a fact.  I somewhat grazed this topic in the educational game, Professor Garfield's Fact or Opinion?.  That game uses the more scientific definition of "fact", which is "a fact is something that can be proven through a series of controlled experiments".  In other words, if something can be proven through experiments, then it's a scientific fact.

I think this is a flawed definition of a fact.  Why?  The definition is focused on whether or not you can prove something.  I think the true definition of fact depends more on whether or not something is true, more than it depends on something's provability.

So in the game, I jokingly pointed out two problems with this definition of "fact":

1. If a fact is merely "something that can be proven", you can easily make up bogus facts.  And in fact, that's what the Presidential candidates are being accused of doing.

2. There are some facts which you can't prove.  For example, "I am a direct descendant of Julius Caesar".  Trying to prove or disprove this fact is probably impossible, but that doesn't make it any less of a fact.

To conclude, I say the definition of "fact" as "something which can be proven" is an imperfect definition, because factuality and provability are not identical.  I'd prefer a definition along the lines of "a fact is something corresponds to reality".  It's a similar, but different definition; I imagine scholars will prefer to keep the current scientific definition, though.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch

The wait is over! My video walkthrough for Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries: Shadow Ranch is here!  Her iPad adventures will be coming to Youtube in a pretty steady stream, all the way until the end of October.




Friday, September 7, 2012

1000 Posts

Woah! According to the people who know these things, I just passed 1000 posts on this blog!  This is Arglefumph Blog Post #1001!

I'm going to celebrate by not doing much writing today.  You might have noticed I like to do that every now and then.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Three Things

1. I recently read an article about the current doctor shortage in America.  Just for fun, I took the article and replaced the word "doctor" with "priest".  And it ended up being a perfectly reasonable article about the priest shortage, and why priests can't be replaced by non-priests, in the same way you don't want your doctor to be replaced by a non-doctor.  I found it interesting.

2. Earlier, I mentioned that they're making A Christmas Story 2.  The trailer has been recently released.  Brace yourselves.

3. I was browsing iTunes yesterday, and I found over five mustache apps, which let you draw mustaches on people's faces in pictures.  But there is only one beard app, which does the same thing for beards. Why does iTunes have such blatant facial hair unequality?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Newsletter

The Nancy Drew newsletter for September is here!  It's got a few things for fans to see.
  • There's a Back-to-School Sale going on, and you can get 25% off of some games.
  • There are screenshots of the upcoming Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device. 
  • As always, the merchandise store is full of cool things that I need to purchase someday.
In news which is not mentioned in the newsletter, the Nancy Drew Kickstarter project has been cancelled.  The company CEOs wrote a pretty nice letter about the project.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nancy Drew: Weirdness at Waverly Academy Wrap-Up

Woah. Now that the Nancy Drew story is over, I actually have to go back to making up a new blog post every day.  I'm not sure I can handle that.

The audio version of Weirdness at Waverly Academy is about three and a half hours long, and it will be posted to Youtube...someday.  The audio version, in some ways, is better than the text version.  It's better, because there are some super-funny parts where I try hard not to laugh while reading the story.  It's also worse, because I'm sure there are parts where my diction fails, and you can't understand what the words I'm saying are.

In the meantime, I'm thinking of doing another Nancy Drew parody story, based off Secrets Can Kill Remastered.  I chose that game because it is short.  That should prevent me from writing another sixty-chapter monster story, right?

When I replayed Warnings at Waverly Academy, though, I realized something.  I don't really care about snooping around in other people's things or spying on people.  Some people seem to be really disappointed, if a Nancy Drew game doesn't have enough snooping.  But if a game has no snooping at all, I tend not to notice it.  Maybe I'm weird like that.

Monday, September 3, 2012

WWA, Chapter 68

Here's Chapter 68, of my story Weirdness at Waverly Academy. Today is the final chapter. Hooray!

---

Six Months Later...

It was graduation day at Waverly Academy. Nancy had been invited to attend the ceremony, even though she had only been a student there for three days. Of course, Nancy accepted the invitation. She liked being able to see all her friends at Waverly one last time, before they went off to their various colleges.

Nancy had kept in touch with most of the people at Waverly, so she had some idea of what happened over the past six months.

When Mel's roommate recovered and moved back in, they got in a huge fight over the fact that Mel had painted the room pink. That inspired Mel to write a cello piece she called, "The Walls Are Pink, Deal with It."

Leela was made permanent Snack Shop Monitor after Nancy left. The teachers argued that Leela spent all her time in the rec room anyway, so she might as well make herself useful.

Izzy was, well, still Izzy. She managed to get accepted into Harvard, even though she hadn't become the valedictorian. The number of boyfriends she had stolen in her time at Waverly was in the double digits.

Rachel and Kim Hubbard were kicked out of Waverly Academy for committing "audacious fraud". Thanks to the urging of some alumni, the twins were reinstated as students shortly afterwards. They weren't allowed to join the valedictorian race—the school thought it was unfair for two people to compete as one person—but they didn't care.

The girls at Ramsey Hall all got to sit in the front row, during the official ceremonies. Everyone looked impressive in their graduation robes. Leela wore a sports jersey over her robe. Mel's robes were pink. Rachel and Kim had matching robes that made them look like twins.

Once the commencement address was finished, the headmistress came onstage. "Before we hand out the diplomas, there are two very special graduates I have to take note of," the headmistress said. "The first is our valedictorian for this year, Paige Griffen!"

Izzy slumped down in her seat. "It is such a rip-off that Paige won," she muttered. "She was out of the running for months!"

"All because she found her lost term paper," Leela said. "I can't believe Becca—I mean, Nancy—gave it to her!"

"It was the right thing to do," Mel shrugged. "Although I kind of wish she hadn't done it, either."

However, no one could hear the grumbling of the losers of the valedictorian race, over the loud applause that Paige received. Paige went onstage to get her special diploma and award.

"And our second special graduate," the headmistress continued, "is none other than our good friend, Nancy Drew!"

Nancy fell out of her seat. "WHAT?" she shouted.

"For special services to the school, and for her unparalleled achievement in the field of American literature, we are pleased to present her with this honorary diploma," the headmistress said.

"I...graduated?" Nancy asked. "WAHOO! I graduated!"

Nancy ran onstage to get her diploma, and everyone applauded, even though she tripped over a microphone cord on her way up. Getting the diploma—and the party afterwards—made it the best day Nancy ever had at Waverly Academy.



"Well, that trip was worth it!" Nancy said to her father, once she had returned home. "I'm now an official Waverly Academy alumnus!"

"I'm very proud of you," Carson Drew said.

"Who would have thought I could graduate from a school, even though I was only there for three days?" Nancy asked. "And Waverly's a really prestigious New York school! This'll look great on my resume!"

"You might have a diploma, but I'm still expecting you to pass all your classes at River Heights High," Carson Drew reminded his daughter. "From what your teachers say, you still have plenty of unfinished makeup work to do."

"Darn," Nancy said.

The End

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Garfield

So, uh, I recently came to the realization that I love Garfield.  You know, the comic strip.

I used to read the Garfield comic books all the time as a kid, even the weirder ones which were written by people not affiliated with the comic strip, such as the one which went through Garfield's nine lives, or Garfield's Pet Force.

Oh, man, Pet Force was an exciting series.  Garfield and his friends travelled to a parallel universe, where they were superheroes, and they had space adventures.  It was the first time I heard of parallel universes, and it was a sci-fi concept I thought was fantastic.  Plus, the fact that it was an actual book and not comic strips meant that there could be actual plot and character development.  Granted, it might not have been extremely deep, but compared to a medium where Garfield communicates in only three sentences per day, it's pretty good.

The comic strip has been going on since 1978, and I lost interest in the strip around the time it stopped being funny.  That was around the late 90's, I think.  The jokes became rather repetitive, and most of the cast members disappeared for years at a time.  Story arcs were eliminated, with the closest possible replacement being "Garfield complains about dieting for a week".  And there were some CGI movies which looked really bad.

Anyway, the good news is that Garfield has become a funny comic strip again!  Jim Davis brought it back to life, by giving Jon Arbuckle a permanent girlfriend (Liz). And since that happened, the strip's quality improved.  I'm not sure of the reasons behind this.  Maybe Jim Davis just needed to switch things up to get back into the writing groove.  Maybe there was a nine year stint of ghost writing, and he decided to regain control of the strip.  Or maybe he gave up the reins to a new ghost writer.  Either way, Garfield made it through the multi-year drought of tedium that should have long since ended in its demise.

I should check to see if The Simpsons has managed to do the same thing.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

WWA, Chapter 67

Here's Chapter 67, of my story Weirdness at Waverly Academy. Today, Nancy catches the culprit and writes a book.

---

Corine Meyers had planned to escape through the hidden tunnel that connected Mel's room and the furnace room. It was a good plan, except for one small problem: Mel Corbalis.

"No," Mel said, blocking the doorway. "I'm not letting you out of here until I get some answers."

"Mel, you have to let me through," Corine said. "I need to get going."

"You just came into my room through the wall," Mel said. "I demand an explanation."

"Come on, Mel, it's too long of a story," Corine said. "Now let me past."

The two of them were still arguing, when Nancy Drew heroically stumbled into Mel's room, using the same passage Corine had taken.

"Don't let her escape, Mel," Nancy ordered.

"You, too?" Mel asked. "What is this?"

"For Corine, it's over," Nancy said. "I'm calling the Headmistress right now."

Nancy took out her cell phone and pressed the eight speed dial number. "Hello, Dumbledore?" Nancy said. "It's Nancy Drew. I just caught the Black Cat."



One Week Later...

Nancy was typing on her laptop.

Shortly afterwards, Corine was kicked out of Waverly Academy. From what I heard, her victims are expected to make a full recovery, and they'll be back at school by the time the next semester starts.

"Hey, Nance, whatcha doin'?" Ned Nickerson asked.

"Writing a book," Nancy said. "It's going to be about the mystery I solved last week. I call it Warnings at Waverly Academy."

"Catchy title," Ned said. "What made you decide to start writing a book, though?"

"I got an email from the big publishing company who got the rights to publish the collection of lost Edgar Allen Poe works I found," Nancy said. "They said they would love it if I wrote the story of how I found the lost literary masterpiece."

"Is that right?" Ned asked. "Maybe I can help you edit it."

Ned did help Nancy edit her book. Some of his comments were helpful ("Try to be more descriptive here") and some of his comments were not so helpful ("Instead of saying 'the detective called her boyfriend,' you should say, 'the detective called her incredibly handsome boyfriend.'")

After about a month, Nancy finished writing the book, and she sent it to the publishers. They had a number of editing suggestions to make, and the book was published the next year, under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene.

Nancy's book was a small success. It didn't make the top of the bestseller list, but it was still popular enough that she was asked to write another mystery book. She immediately said yes. If there's one thing Nancy Drew had in steady supply, it was plenty of good mystery stories.

The biggest surprise, in Nancy's opinion, was that some videogame company out in Washington got the rights to make her book into a computer game. But that's another story.