Saturday, August 31, 2013

On Justice and Free Will

And here's another comment from Monday's blog post. This one is from Stephanie B, and um...well, I guess this is why I don't do comment responses more often. I can get pretty wordy.
*Sigh*. We are woefully off topic. Michael, I agree with most of what you say here.... But I disagree with your evaluation that taking away free-will is always wrong. It will never be "right", per say, but if you believe the words "wrong" and "evil" to mean that nothing positive comes out of the action, or that it wasn't the best option, I'm forced to disagree. An example I will use to justify this is the murder of Osama Bin Laden.

We killed this man. He was not a good man; I have no doubts that he was evil. He deserved to die, and people were saved by his death. But is his death "good"? Is it not still "wrong"? We took away his free-will when we killed him. By your reasoning, we should have let him live (personally, I do not think killing him WAS the smartest move, but that's besides the point). By all rights, at the very least his capture was justified. If we left him his free-will, many more would be dead, and he would be free. That's the problem. If we agree that we all have a right to free-will, that implies that we can do things that take away the free-will of others. In other words, it creates a bit of a paradox. I am not justifying the suppression of the rights' of others by any means. I'm just saying that your reasoning that we all have free-will is a bit contradictory.

Sometimes we HAVE to force others to relinquish their rights for the betterment of society. As we all have vastly different views, it is quite unfortunately necessary to prevent suffering. When it comes to brainwashing.... To me, that will always be wrong. If you need to physically restrain someone, lock them away, even KILL them- I accept this as an eventual necessity. But to rip from a person their mind, what makes them who they are.... There will never be justification, as far as I'm concerned. By all definitions, it is mind-rape, and it should not be practiced. For these reasons, as well as my opinion that it is unnecessary and vengeful, I will never tolerate torture.

But what of people who voluntarily alter their minds and their personality? What if someone wishes to take these medication? There, I feel, is the point in which they cross the line separating what is right for others and what is right for them. At that point, I feel as if they have every right to proceed.
1. Osama Bin Laden, like every other human being on the planet, deserved to have a fair trial before being punished for his crimes. The fact that he was executed without a trial is a gross miscarriage of justice.

I think that you are confusing free will with free liberty, which is the right to do anything you want.  This is an illusion; nobody has free liberty.  There are many things I can want that I can never have.  For example, I want to hear Jesus preach, and I want to see the first-ever performance of Hamlet, and I want to win the World Series at the same time as I win an Oscar for Best Music.  No matter how much I want to do these things, though, I cannot do them.

It is also important to note that imprisoning a person limits what he can do. Does it take away his free will? No.  He can still choose to do what he wants, even if his options are extremely limited.

2. I am against the death penalty, for many reasons. If I was on the jury, I would have voted to sentence Bin Laden to life in prison, after his guilt was proven.

3. Justice demands that some actions should be illegal.  The classic example is a person's right to shout "FIRE!" in the middle of a crowded theater.  This should be allowed, due to the right of free speech.  But because it causes a panic, it is illegal, and anyone who does this should be punished for disturbing the peace.

It is possible to imagine a scenario where a certain person or oganization should be supressed, for the good of society.  However, I am very, very cautious when it comes to giving someone the ability to surpress others.  History has shown time and time again that this power is generally abused.  People quickly go from "surpressing evil-doers" to "surpressing anyone who disagrees with them".

4. It is possible that a good result can occur from a bad action.  However, it is wrong to perform a bad action, in order to achieve a good result.  The ends do not justify the means, especially when you're dealing with other people, because it is immoral to treat someone as a means to an end, rather than treating them as a person.

For example, say there's a guy who makes videogame walkthroughs on Youtube. And say people sometimes yell at him, because he's not making videos fast enough.  They are treating him as an ends to a means, namely, entertainment, instead of treating him like an actual human being who has a life outside of Youtube.  And that would be immoral.  Just a hypothetical situation.

5. It is certainly possible for someone to voluntarily change their personality.  Pills and drugs are not necessary for this, although they can be extremely helpful, depending on the changes you're trying to make. For the sake of the discussion, I only mentioned people who are forced to take drugs to change their personalities.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Hey, I'm trying to be better about answering people's questions! Here's a comment that C left on Monday.
Some people argue that if God exists, there cannot exist free will. God is omniscient. He knows everything.

Say that tomorrow for breakfast you will choose between toast or a banana. God knows you will choose the banana, because he knows every single thing. If instead you choose toast, then God would have been wrong, and thus not omniscient, which he is. If God knows you are going to choose the banana, then there is no possibility of you choosing toast, thus you don't have free will.

There are two problems with this argument.

1. It confuses God's foreknowledge with necessity.  Take the last sentence.  If God (or anyone else) knows that that you are going to choose a banana for breakfast, it does not necessarily follow that you lack free will.  That's because your decision to eat a banana is completely isolated from God's knowledge. Unless you consulted God ahead of time, God's foreknowledge did not affect your decision; therefore, it took nothing away from the decision.

Let's use a non-divine example.  I know with 100% certainty that the US Congress is not going to have a balanced budget this year, or next year. My knowledge of this in no way hinders the free will of the congressmen.

2. God necessarily exists outside of time.  From my perspective, "what happens tomorrow" is knowledge of the future. To God, it is knowledge of the present, because he is equally present then as he is now.


I kind of breezed through the argument; there is honestly a lot more that can be said about this.  A really thorough answer would explain about the nature of time, knowledge and free will.  When all is said and done, though, the possibility of free will not existing is merely a thought experiment.  Our current society is formed around the idea that free will exists, and people are responsible for making their own choices.  America is a pro-choice society, in more ways than one.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Dialects

1. So, what's up with accents in mainstream American media?  Pretty much everyone in TV and the movies is forced to speak with the same regional dialect.

So here are American accents that I never seen on TV: the local dialect in Oregon, the accent my Illinois relatives have, the accent my Tennesee relatives have, and the Boston accent my old boss had.  There are probably several Southern accents which you can add to that list.  Sometimes you hear a Canadian accent, but most Canadian actors are forced to speak like Americans while filming.

I suppose this tendency to only have one "official" dialect isn't limited to America, though.  Ancient Greek had four different dialects, but Attic (i.e. Athenian) was the official, most common one.  Every now and then, you find Athenian comedies which poke fun at the funny-talking Spartans.  As for the Doric Greek dialect, I've never seen it get used.

2. If you've seen my Nancy Drew: Secret of Shadow Ranch walkthrough, you probably heard my southwestern accent. That's actually an Appalachian accent, which I took directly from Li'l Abner. It just sounds mildly Southwestern when I do it.

I might have mixed in a bit of Texan, for good measure.  I don't remember, because I made those videos years ago.

3.  The only accents I sometimes hear are New York accents (and occasionally other accents from that area).  But I only hear them on shows produced in New York.  I suspect that actors from New York, who have moved to Hollywood, get forced to drop their accents.

General Hospital has some native New Yorkers who don't bother hiding their accents. When I first started watching, it took me a while to understand them, especially the guy who mumbles all the dang time.  I just wonder if he mumbles like that in real life, or if that's just his character.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy

Here is the cover art for Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy.

Great popsicles, this looks amazing!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blackmoor Manor DVD

I powered through a large portion of Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor (DVD) yesterday.

It's an interesting game.  They made a number of changes for the DVD version, the most obvious of which is moving around. In the PC version, you just click left and right, and it takes you to a different screen.  In the DVD version, you move left and right, and a short scene of Nancy walking to the new area plays.

For example, if you're going down the stairs of the main hall, the camera moves down the steps. It looks like you're actually seeing things from Nancy's point of view, when she moves around.  There are a few areas where this results in you seeing things which were offscreen in the PC game, such as the ceilings, floors and backsides of things in Blackmoor.

Some of the puzzles have been removed, and others have been simplified.  I was most interested in the puzzles that were completely changed, such as Jane's card matching puzzle and the thirteen ghosts puzzle.  That's right!  The thirteen ghosts are in completely different locations in this game!  It was rather fun, finding all the newly-hidden ghosts.

...Then I got to the point where I was missing four ghosts, and it turned out that I had to check every single coat of arms to find them.  That got kind of boring, because 75% of the coat of arms didn't have ghosts.

I promised to do a video walkthrough for this game, and I intend to keep my promise!  ...Just as soon as I figure out how to record DVD footage.

Monday, August 26, 2013

On Overriding Free Will

I find our discussion of pills and brainwashing to be woefully incomplete.  All I got was a vague "yeah, sometimes pills are abused and that's bad, but sometimes they're not".  I was hoping for a deeper exploation of the nature of free will and the consequences of removing it.

I sometimes see this used as a proof for the non-existence of God.  The argument is that God appears to be unable or unwilling to override the free will of murderers, rapists and other evil-doers.  Therefore, God doesn't exist.  The argument is obviously flawed, in that it skips a few steps and completely fails to distinguish between active action, passive action and inaction.

The thing I find odd is the fact that this argument presupposes that overriding someone else's free will is the most moral action you can choose.

This is odd, because I was always taught the exact opposite.  I believe that overriding someone else's free will is an intrinsic evil.  "Intrinsic evil" meaning it is always wrong, no matter what the circumstances.  A good example of "overriding someone else's free will is always wrong" is rape.  Rape is always wrong, no matter what the circumstances.

And the primary reason rape is wrong is that it destroys the natural dignity people have, by overriding their free will and treating them as objects, not as people.  Of course, there are also secondary reasons why rape is wrong, relating to sexuality and gender.  Please note that these are not called "secondary reasons" because they are less important, but because they can change from rape to rape, depending on the sexualities and genders of the parties involved.

Question I've Been Leading Up To: Is brainwashing someone (through pills or another means) the moral equivalent of mind rape? In both cases, you forcibly override their free will, which is always evil.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mystery Lengths

Some Nancy Drew mysteries take longer for Nancy to solve than others.  Here's a partial list of mysteries, and how long they last.

One Day Mysteries:

Secrets Can Kill
Alibi in Ashes
Legend of the Crystal Skull
Creature of Kapu Cave
Haunting of Castle Malloy

Multiple Day Mysteries (no set number):

Stay Tuned for Danger
Message in a Haunted Mansion
Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake
Shadow at the Water's Edge
The Deadly Device

Three Day Mysteries:

Warnings at Waverly Academy
Curse of Blackmoor Manor
Secret of Shadow Ranch
The Final Scene
Trail of the Twister

Do you readers have any preference as to how long a mystery lasts? Keep in mind that we're talking about in-game time, not real world time.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy

People are getting super excited for Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy.  I've gotten several messages about it, and everyone wants to know what I think.

The preview says "everything you know about the accident is a lie". Presumably, the accident in question is the one in which Nancy's mother died.  I haven't read any of the books which describes the death of Nancy's mother in detail, so I have no idea if it was car accident, a bomb defusing accident, a potato peeling accident or what.

No, the thing that I find the most surprising about the preview is the revelation that Nancy's mother was named Kate.  Kate Drew!  Did we know that before?  I didn't know that before!  Kate Kate Kate Kate Kate.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Upcoming Walkthroughs

Earlier this week, I complained about having a game backlog which is too large.  Well, throw two more games on the list.  One is the sequel to Twilight Phenomena: The Lodgers of House 13.  My list of games to play just got longer!  The other is DuckTales Remastered, so thanks to Anonymous for pointing that out.

But hey, I managed to finish my text walkthrough for Azada in Libro!  Same with my text walkthrough for Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask.  Here's what I plan to do, with my Youtube channel for the rest of the month (and beyond):
  • Apollo Justice Case 2
  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
  • Apollo Justice Case 3?
  • Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor speedrun
  • Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor DVD
The next walkthrough project (for me) is writing a text walkthrough for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.  And maybe I'll go through some of the shorter games on my list of games to play.  Or I could do something like play Legend of Zelda Wii for the first time, by myself, without making a walkthrough for it.  Gasp!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

More on Drugs

Continuing from yesterday's post, the thing which worries me the most about mood altering drugs and pills is the fact that so many of them are designed to be permanent.  I'm specifically thinking of anti-depressants.  Everyone I know who has started taking the pills is basically stuck taking them for the rest of their lives.

In fact, I only know one person who was successfully able to stop taking anti-depressants, and it took him six months of gradually smaller doses in order to do so.

[Edit: Charles only started taking anti-depressants, because he hit a rough patch in his life. 2-3 months later, things were back to normal, so he didn't need drugs to make him happy any more.]

I don't understand why permanent pills are recommended, as a cure for a temporary condition.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Here's an ethical question for all of you.  Is it good to brainwash other people?

The answer is "no" because it negates their free will.  But let's consider it in terms of yesterday's episode of Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space.  In the episode, they brainwashed the villain into being nice.  That's a classic example of the ends justifying the means; our heroes thought brainwashing was okay, because it had a good result.

For a real life example, consider people in prisons who are forced to take pills which make them less violent and more docile.  That's not brainwashing per se, but it's forcing someone's behavior to change.  The scary part is that the pills work, even if the person taking the pills is completely against the idea of changing their behavior.

More commonly, you see pills like these given to children with ADD, to make them calm down so it's easier for them to pay attention in school.  It's the same idea; you give people pills, and they become more docile, whether they want to or not.

It's similar to brainwashing, because you are controlling how other people behave.  It's not as direct as brainwashing, obviously, but I still question the ethics behind it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Alien Alan

Episode Four of Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space is titled Alien Alan.  The premise of the episode is that Alan has been brainwashed by an evil alien named Magneto.  Can our heroes survive when their leader is working for the enemy?

I have no idea why Magneto only brainwashed one Earthling to be his slave, instead of brainwashing all six of them.

Alien Alan easily captures our heroes, and they get sent to the mines.  Our heroes split up into two groups and escape.  Group One figures out how to get Alan back to normal, while Group Two gets a spaceship and flies them out of the city.

An aerial battle ensues, but Alan manages to escape by flying the spaceship in simple football plays. When our heroes reach Magneto, they use the brainwashing machine to turn him into a good person.  Our heroes then destroy all of Magneto's evil magnet machines before leaving.

This episode is merely okay.  It's mostly made up of chase/escape sequences.  It would have been better, if they focused more on the evil Alien Alan plotline.  He only appears for about a minute, at most.

The best part about the episode was the animation.  This show usually has bad/cheap animation, but there were about five to six minutes of legitimately good animation.  I don't know how to explain this.  Maybe there was a different storyboarder that week, because the aliens and everything else moved in fun, creative ways.  I liked it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Walkthrough Stuff

Walkthrough making has been a little intense for me, for the past month or so.  First there was Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and then there was Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask.  It feels like it's been a while since I played a game for fun.

I've got a backlog of 25 games in my "games to do walkthroughs for" folder.  And there's an equally sizeable backlog in my "downloaded and uplayed games" folder.

I'm using the "go through everything in alphabetical order" strategy, which means I should finish writing my walkthrough for Azada in Libro.  I don't much like the game compared to other work by the company, but I already paid for it, so I feel like I should get my money's worth.

The other "A" game on my list is Awakening 4.  Recently, they just released Awakening 5.  Augh!  They released the new game in the series, before I finished beating the old one!  You're ruining my effort to get through my backlog.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Let's have a short Q&A, based on comments from my post this week about the Assumption.

Q: Was Mary's preservation from original sin a requirement for birthing Jesus, or a 'reward' for it?
A: Neither. It was not necessary for the Virgin Mary to be immaculately conceived, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us.  And it can't be a reward for birthing Jesus, because it took place before Jesus' birth.  In a sense, you could say it is a reward, but it's less like God actively rewarding her for doing what he wanted, and more like God, taking care of his mother.

Q: What's the Catholic view on infant baptism? Why does infant baptism matter?
A: Babies must be baptised as soon as possible, preferably within a month of the child's birth. Baptism cleanses a person from original sin and marks them as a member of Christ's Church.

Q: If death is punishment for sin please explain to me why animals die????
A: The teaching I mentioned is from St. Paul, in Romans 5.  He says that death is a result of sin.  Other Christians (not Catholics) take this idea an extra step, and they believe that death is a direct punishment for sin. For example, they would say something like "God takes a minute off of your lifespan, every time you sin".  This is not a Catholic teaching, and I don't know much about it besides for the fact that Mark Twain loved making fun of it.
I could explain that particular Biblical passage in more detail, but the fact of the matter is that St. Paul only talks about humans, not animals.  You can say this passage indicates that animals did not die, prior to humans sinning, but this is never explicitly stated.
Q: Also, wouldn't perfect mean that you never made a mistake? It says in Luke 2 that when Jesus stayed behind in the temple, his Parents thought he was with them. But they later found out they were wrong. I believe if she was perfect, she would have known he stayed behind.
A: The joke answer is that the entire situation was Joseph's fault, so we can't blame Mary for what happened.  The more serious answer is that, yes, Mary was mistaken in believing her son was with the group.  This is not the same thing as saying she sinned.
Q: Also, where in the Bible does it talk about Mary's death?
A: The death of Mary is not contained in the Bible, just like how the death of her husband Jospeh is not in the Bible.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor Speedrun

I did it!  I finally finished a speedrun of Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor.  About two weeks after my test speedrun.

I actually recorded six different speedruns.  With two of them, I made to the end of the game.  With the other four, I made big mistakes and had to restart.

The go fish game in the main hall is the hardest for a speedrun, because it takes three and a half minutes to play.  If you mess up on that, you've just wasted a good deal of time.  Bul is the next hardest thing to do, because you could waste five minutes if you're unlucky and lose it.  On the other hand, if you're super lucky, you can beat Bul in about a minute.

Other difficult sections of the game are the frog game in the conservatory, petroglyph punch and Aelous' four winds challenge.  They're hard, because their setup is randomized; the pieces are in different places each time.  You have to have exceptional bad luck for these minigames to take you a long time, but it's still a possibility.

My second speedrun ended up being an hour, one minute and fifteen seconds.  If you don't include the ending cutscenes as part of the game, then the speedrun is a little under an hour.

I am going to post the speedrun on Youtube...eventually.  I need to finish the walkthrough for Professor Layton 5 first.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Message in a Haunted Mansion Scream

Some people had questions about the scream I did, while playing Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion for the 2013 Scary Nancy Drew Games Marathon.

It starts around 34:09.

I told everyone ahead of time that I wouldn't do a scream. My throat kind of hurt, and it's rough to scream loud and long in falsetto. But the people in the studio audience insisted strongly that I do it.

So...that's why there's a scream in the video. Blame the studio audience. I just did what the fans wanted me to do.  If I ever play the game again, I will try to get out of screaming by making a weak excuse.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Assumption

Today, Catholics celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This event is when the Virgin Mary was taken up into Heaven, at the end of her life.  At this time, both her body and her soul.

The Bible teaches us that death is a result of sin. It says, "through sin, death entered the world" and again, "the wages of sin are death".  The Virgin Mary born without sin, and she never sinned during her life.  Therefore, it was not necessary for her to die, as it was impossible for her body to undergo corruption and decay.  However, she wished to follow the example of her divine son, and she too passed through the dark portal of death before being taken up into Heaven.

St. John Damascene is sometimes called the Doctor of the Assumption, because he wrote a lot about it in the 600's.  While passing on the ancient traditions about the death of Mary, he says that all of the apostles were present at her death bed in Jerusalem, except for St. Thomas.  Thomas arrived three days later, and he requested to see her body.  "The body could nowhere be seen, and a delicious perfume filled the empty tomb. The apostles then became convinced that as God had preserved the body of Mary free from sin before, in, and after the birth of His Son, He was pleased likewise, after her death, to preserve that same body from corruption, and to glorify it in heaven."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Equestria Girls

Two months ago, I wrote about My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. The movie is well-animated, but it's not well-written.  It has plot holes everywhere, pacing issues, and they waste about half the movie, introducing the "new" characters who are not actually new in any way.

I recently remembered the original reports on this movie. The New York Times reported that the movie is a lead-in to a TV series of the same name. I don't trust The New York Times in general, and I haven't heard anything about the TV series since. the TV series actually happening, or what?  Please tell me it's not happening.

I'm not sure how the TV series would work in general.  The first problem is that the main character, Twilight, leaves the human world at the end of the movie.  How will you have a TV series, without the main character?  I guess they'd solve the problem by saying Twilight decided to return.  Or they could use her conveniently-absent-from-the-movie human counterpart.

The second problem is that spinoff is too similar to the main series.  The two shows would have the same main characters, who look and act the same in both series.  I don't think that would work.  I'd rather have something different from the main show, rather than more of the same.

Of course, that's what I said about the Nancy Drew Dossier spin-off series, but then it got bad reviews for being different than the origianl series.  I still liked it, though.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Over the years, I've heard a lot of people make fun of Krillin from DragonBall Z.  The joke is that Krillin is weak, useless fighter.

This is not true.  Krillin is the strongest human fighter in the entire series.  He only gets outclassed as a fighter, when the super-powered aliens show up.  How is a human supposed to compete against aliens with super powers?  Especially the aliens with the super power of "automatically get healed after every single attack".

The aliens with super powers show up towards the end of the first episode.  So until that happens, Krillin is one of the best fighters in the show.  Can we all agree to stop making fun of him for being a bad fighter, now?

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Thought

Earlier this year, I threw out the idea of doing a huge Nancy Drew marathon.  Something like "Let's play all 30+ games in the series, to prep for the release of Game #30!" would be extremely fun, but it would take a long, long time.

People seem to really like the live marathons, though.  What if I set up a regular time for recording them?  Say, every week I record a game at the same time.  That would take me...over half a year.

...Maybe twice a week, then.

Anyway, it's just a thought.  If I start this marathon, it'll probably be next year.  I've already done a Nancy Drew marathon for 2013.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Portland Burger Week

This week was Portland Burger Week.  Various places had a $5 burger for sale.  It was great, because normally I'd never visit these expensive burger places.
  • Alberta Pub—They had a nice elk burger.  The elk tasted nice, thicker than normal beef.  Sadly, this place was unprepared for demand, so they ran out of elk burgers in three hours.  I was lucky enough to be one of the final four people to get burgers, which meant mine was smaller than it should have been.  By the time I was 3/4 through, only bread remained.
  • Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub—This was merely adequate, to be honest.  They didn't have the cool sauce and stuff on top, presumably because they ran out.  "They ran out" should be the theme of Burger Week.  Either way, the burger was extremely juicy.
  • TILT—This place is so remote from my house that I won't visit it again.  Their deal was a huge burger with everything on it, including a third bun (like a Big Mac).  It was good, but you couldn't taste anything with everything there.
  • Foster Burger—They had a great Kimchi burger.  A kimchisburger, which came with bacon.  They were a little light on the kimchi, but the spicy sauce made up for it.  I'd visit again easily, but it's not in the nicest area of town, and I don't like paying $3.50 for fries. What burger place charges that much extra for fries?
  • Dick's Kitchen—This is a healthy food place.  The burger was delicious, and easily a 9 out of 10.  However, I'm going to take points off of the score, because it was small.  It was, in fact, a slider-sized burger.  And it was just one slider, too.
  • Pause Burger—This place probably did the best out of the places that participated.  All they did was take their normal, $10-12 burger and sell it for $5.  This is opposed to other places, which made up a fancy burger for the event, only to run out of supplies quickly.  The place with the venison burger completely ran out of stock on Day One and dropped out of the event.
  • Skyline Burger—I didn't get their $5 burger. Instead, I got their monster burger, which is known as the Quadzilla.  It's a four patty burger, and if you eat it in 30 minutes, it's free.  I made decent headway, until patty #3.  The mozzerella cheese was rancid, and I had to stop eating immediately.  I think I could have eaten it all, if the burger had no vegetables and all good cheese.
I used up my entire food budget, so I'll never eat out for the rest of the month.  And maybe next month, too.  I don't think I can eat burgers for a long time after this.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Teen Beach Movie

Disney is promoting their newest TV movie, Teen Beach Movie.  Just like with the Big Time Rush summer beach movie, my question is why.  WHY?

Seriously, why is anyone making beach movie parodies?  They stopped making those movies, long before today's teenagers were born.  They stopped making them before the parents of today's teenagers were born.  A beach movie parody is as timely as a parody of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

I expect to see President Johnson jokes in the movie, by the way, or else I'm declaiming it as inauthentic to the genre.

While I'm on this topic, let me take a moment to official declaim Annie as inauthentic to the source material.  The movie portrays President Roosevelt in a positive light, even though Harold Gray hated FDR.  He often attacked American socialism in the comic strip.

Back to Teen Beach Movie.  Is it a good parody of the genre you've never experienced?  Is it more like High School Musical On a Beach than a Beach Boys movie?  Let me know!  I don't have the Disney Channel at my house, so I can't watch the movie myself.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Silent Spy Awaits

We have information about the next Nancy Drew game! It's Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy.

Pre-orders begin September 15th and get sent out a month later, on the 15th. Physical copies of the game arrive in stores on October 22nd.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

I saw Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters yesterday.  I really enjoyed the movie.  The first movie is a favorite in the Gray family; we have watched it a ton of times.

I've heard some complaints from people who like the book series, but I have to say that I like the movie adaptations.  In fact, I like it better than the Harry Potter movie adaptations.  The Harry Potter adaptations followed the books rather closely, which only made things all the more painful for the book fans when the movies deviated from the books, in favor of weird things.  (See: Harry Potter 3)

The Percy Jackson movies are much more loosely based on the book series. That's both good and bad.  On the bad side, they left a lot out of the first movie, such as Mr. D, Clarisse, Thalia, the prophecy and Kronos.  They had a major hurdle, in fitting all of that backstory into this movie, so things would make sense.  The good news is that I think they did a magnificent job with this task.

One way they handled this was by giving Luke a villain upgrade.  In the book, he shows up once, on the yacht.  In the movie, he shows up three times: as the villain who poisons the tree, on the yacht, and at the end, he temporarily steals the fleece from our heroes (more on that later).  Is that following the book?  No.  But it made things more cohesive, it fit in well with two of the subplots (Thalia's tree and Hermes), and it made the ending showdown all the more exciting because the movie was building up to it.  Plus, Luke's actor does a great job; I find him more interesting in the movies than in the books.

Another way they handled the adaptation was changing Percy's motivation.  In the book, Percy wants to save Grover, and that's mainly it.  In the movie, Percy's main motivation is the fact that he feels inadequate.  He's depressed, because he failed a lot of quests in between the two movies, and he doesn't think he has what it takes to still be a hero.  It's different, and it fundamentally changes his relationships with Clarisse.

In the book, Clarisse is portayed as a second fiddle to Percy, and she wants to prove that she has what it takes to finish a quest.  The situation is almost reversed in the movie.  Here, Clarisse is the main hero of the camp, while Percy is more of the aging underdog whose glory days are probably behind him.  That also changes the effect of the ending where Clarisse cooperates with Percy.  It's more of a victory for them when they cooperate, whereas in the book, it's more like Percy having pity on Clarisse's failure.

The most obvious change--besides for the fact that our heroes are eaten by Chabydis and have to fight out of her stomach--is the part with Polyphemus.  It takes place in a run-down amusement park, instead of the island from The Odyssey.  He's less threatening in the movie than in the book, because they shrunk him down from 20 feet to 8 feet.  Also, the heroes don't fight him directly; the confrontation with Polyphemus is more like a chase sequence.

Our heroes steal the fleece and escape the cave.  They trap Polyphemus inside, by rolling the giant boulder over the entrance.  Um...yeah.  Apparently, two teenagers can move the boulder, but Polyphemus can't.  You don't have any time to think about why this soluion could not possibly work, because our heroes almost immediately run into Luke and the bad guys.

The bad guys shoot Tyson and steal the fleece.  They tie up our heroes with large ropes that have plenty of slack, so they can easily move around.  To be honest, I don't think our heroes would have trouble escaping, even if Percy didn't have a magical sword.  Meanwhile, Luke uses the fleece to bring Kronos back to life.

Yep, Kronos comes back to life and wreaks havoc for a while.  Percy and the others fight him, while his body is reforming.  Conveniently, Percy's magic sword happens to be Kronos' weakness.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  The movie did have foreshadowing leading up to this plot twist, but it still came as a surprise to me. I'll probably rewatch the movie before deciding if it's a good way to defeat the large villain, or a cheap, last-minute trick.

Overall, I liked the movie just as much as the first one.  Which makes sense, because it's pretty much the same thing as the first one.  The two movies are cut from the same cloth; this one is not significantly better or worse than the first.

Other thoughts:
  • Apparently, the "h" in "Thalia" is silent.  So...I've been pronouncing it incorrectly for years.
  • Mr. D was hilarious. Good job.
  • Grover is kidnapped halfway through the movie, instead of at the beginning.  This works for me, because Movie Grover is a lot better than Book Grover.
  • On the other hand, I think Book Tyson is better than Movie Tyson.  I didn't particularly care for him, and I imagine his role would have been larger if they didn't need to spend so much time catching up on other things.
  • The only time I disliked Percy's acting was during the scene where Annabeth talks about Thalia's death.  He reacted way too casually, for such an emotional scene.
  • Absent from the movie are the hydra (which was in the first movie), the sirens, the Lastrygonians, and Circe.  Rainbow the hippocampus was there, and I expect to see hilarious My Little Pony seapony jokes now.
  • Clarisse's first mate, who gets a few lines, is named Riordan. I see what they did there.
  • The movie has the same ending as the book, mainly because it is the perfect cliffhanger which cannot be improved upon.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gay Priests

Today's question comes from several people.
What is the official stance of the Catholic Church on gay priests?
There is not really an official standard in the church, when it comes to gay priests.  There are some documents and statements that people point to as official, but they are not accepted and followed everywhere.

If you want an official document on who can and who cannot be accepted as a priest, you're looking for The Program for Priestly Formation.  This document sets the guidelines for the entire United States, and the most recent update was in 2006.  All the document says about gay priests is this: "With regard to the admission of candidates with same-sex experiences and/or inclinations, the guidelines provided by the Holy See must be followed." (PPF, section 56)

In practice, what happens is that the local authorities decide who they want to sponsor for the priesthood.  Some places refuse to allow gay people to become priests, while other places refuse to allow straight people to become priests.  I've seen discussions on whether the priesthood should be all-gay or all-straight, but neither side has a superior argument, and neither side seems to properly understand celibacy.

I think most places will accept a good man as a priest, regardless of his orientation.  In my seminary experience, sexual orientation, in and of itself, was never an issue for anyone.  Celibacy is a whole different ball game, though.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Creepy Moment

I sometimes feel like the creepy guy in my neighborhood, because I don't get trash service.  So every Thursday, I sneak outside in the middle of the night and go through everybody's trash cans until I find one which is empty enough for me to add my trash to.  The late night dog walkers look at me funny, when they see me looting through everyone's garbage.

I tried explaining to them that I am a normal person, looking for a good place to illegally dump my garbage, but that does not reassure them.

So yesterday, I was walking down the street, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a videogame.  I immediately stopped and started moving around, trying to get a good look at the person's TV through their front window.  Eventually, I was able to confirm that, yes, they were playing Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES.

Good game.

Because I was distracted by the videogame, I failed to notice that someone was sitting on the front porch.  And she was looking at me strangely.  From her point of view, I was walking down the street, stopped in front of her house, and tried to look in her house through the window.

What's the best way to handle that situation?  "Ha ha, I'm not a robber!  I just happen to enjoy videogames from over 20 years ago!  Sorry about going through your trashcan last week!  I had a lot of recycling left over from the grocery store!"

The worst part is that they didn't invite me inside to be Player 2.  I totally could have gotten through that level.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bear Cubs Video

I don't think I shared this on my blog. Here's a video of bear cubs that my sister and I recorded, last October!

The music is by Emily Bear. Take a wild guess as to what search term I used, in order for her name to come up.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Random Recording

Yesterday, someone started a false rumor that I was going to play a Nancy Drew game live.  About a dozen people showed up to watch me play nothing, and I got messages asking me where I was.

This interrupted my naptime, after a long walk, so I was kind of grumpy. I told everyone to go home, because I didn't schedule any Nancy Drew recordings.

Three hours later, I jumped online and did a live playthrough of Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor.  Because I'm a huge troll.  Don't ask to see the video, because I didn't record it.

So what did I do specifically?  I did the test speedrun I talked about last week.  It's a good thing I did a test for the speedrun, because I messed up horribly at the end.  I didn't know that you have to make Nigel scream, in order to beat the game, and so the half-minte conversation with Nigel ended up taking me a half-hour to trigger.

All in all, the test speedrun took me an hour and twenty-four minutes.  I imagine if I do a really tight speedrun, I can beat the game in an hour and fifteen minutes.

After playing the game, I did some more work on the speedrun route, and we had a weird Q&A session which involved watching three Japanese music videos.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gays in Ancient Greece

My blog post yesterday was mainly an excuse to share a funny picture.  If I didn't have an image limit, I'd post a lot more funny pictures up here.  Athena left a long comment about historical views on sexual orientation, and I thought I'd talk more about that today.


In our culture, we think that sexuality is something people are born with.  You're either born straight or gay (or both), and that's it.  You can't change your sexual orientation, any more than you can change your hair color or eye color.  Sure, you can dye your hair and wear contacts, but those methods don't really change who you are, in the same way that pretending to be gay or straight doesn't change your orientation.

The ancient Greeks had a different view on sexual orientation, which might seem strange at first.  They saw that children naturally separate themselves into gender groups.   Boys play with boys, and girls play with girls, and the two groups usually avoid each other.  When I taught fourth grade, this was certainly true; all the boys sat together in one group, and all the girls sat together in another.

Everything changes when children get older.  Boys become obsessed with girls, and girls become obsessed with boys.  With my class, this happened around sixth or seventh grade.

The Greeks concluded that everyone is born gay, and when they get older, they go through puberty and become straight.  Since people believed this, they encouraged their children to be gay, and they encouraged them to stop being gay once they grew up.  Gay adults weren't looked down upon, exactly, but some people thought they were weird for being grown adults who acted like litte kids, instead of growing out of their gayness like everyone else.

In some ways, the ancient ideas about sexuality are completely different from the modern ideas.  Your thoughts?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday News

In the news this week, there was another celebrity baby born.  I didn't pay much attention to that particular news story, but it was everywhere.

The other major news story this week comes from World Youth Day, held in Rio, Brazil. Over a million Catholics attended, including Pope Francis.  When it was over, Pope Francis gave an extended interview which lasted over an hour.

One of the questions was about the gay lobby in the Vatican. Pope Francis' response was about lobbies in general, and about gay people in general.  All he did was repeat the Catholic Church's stance on homosexuality, which hasn't changed in centuries.

As a result, there were dozens of news stories, saying that the Pope has changed the Church's beliefs on homosexuality. *face palm* It looked like this:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. Amazing but true: If Youtube has messed up one of my videos, don't wait six months until you tell me about it!  I can't re-record a video, when I've already sold the game.

2. I finished writing the Temple Run story!  Kinda bummed that my co-author / ex-girlfriend only helped with the first chapter.  I could have used a little help when writing the rest of the story.

3. Hey, the 2013 Scary Nancy Drew Games Marathon is coming to Youtube!  Every day, I'm going to post a new hour-long video.  This will continue for a week.