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.