Thursday, January 31, 2013

Three Things Thursday

This week on Three Things Thursday, I'm putting up the first three videos in my video walkthrough for Mystery Case Files: Shadow Lake.  That's an FMV adventure/hidden objects games.






Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Don't Stop Believing

I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but Don't Stop Believing has been the official anthem of the San Francisco Giants since 2010 (when they won their first World Series in decades).



I find this slightly amusing.  Most sports teams pick victory anthems like We Will Rock You, Thunder, and Can't Stop This.  But San Francisco picked the song whose message is more like "if we hope really, really hard, maybe we can win".  Not the most inspired choice there, San Fran.

Oh, well, it's still a nice song, and Giants fans still love it.  I'm sure they're still be singing it in 2013, when the Giants try to go for their third World Series title in four years.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 10)

Here is Chapter 10  of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy cheats her way out of investigating in the library.

---

Nancy continued her counter-clockwise journey through the school with a trip to the library. She had the key from Aunt Eloise's safe, so she was able to get inside easily. The library was extremely large, with two different stories containing thousands of books.

"I don't have time to read all these books," Nancy said. "Time to use a shortcut."

She pulled out her copy of Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill and flipped to Chapter Ten, entitled "The Library". She started to read the book.

Nancy found herself in Aunt Eloise's domain: the library. The smell of books hit her nose, and she smiled as she began her research in the encyclopedia section. The first thing she looked up were foreign words. Diagrams in the encyclopedia showed some common ones.

"The medallion that Connie is wearing means 'crane'," Nancy said. "And crane is the name of the judo school being advertised in the school. Maybe Connie is the masked competitor who won the boys-only judo competition."

"Wow, the Nancy in this story is a lot farther along in the mystery than I am," Nancy noted.

Nancy also looked up some of the drugs which were stolen from Vandelay Pharmaceuticals. Most of them were steroids which had a danger of being abused by athletes.

"Athletes like Hulk Sanchez," Nancy said to herself. "This would explain his better-than-normal winning record this year, despite his injuries."

"Who's Hulk Sanchez?" Nancy wondered.

Nancy was about to leave, when she noticed an open drawer in the card catalogue. Pulling it out all the way, she saw that the last person to use the catalog had been looking for English Essays Through the Ages. Suddenly, Jake's note popped into her head:

He did what it took to make the grade
Even if it meant cheating to keep up the charade


"I need to find this book," Nancy decided. If Hal was plagiarizing essays, and Jake Rogers knew about it, Hal had a very good motive for killing Jake.

"Agh!" Nancy said, closing the book. "This book is full of spoilers!"

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sitcom Situation

Blog readers, I need some backup from you.  Am I crazy, or do sitcoms sometimes have episodes where people go on fake dates?  Like, Corey for Boy Meets World asks someone to be his pretend girlfriend, so he can impress "the boys".  Or maybe Felix Unger has been lying to his overbearing mother for years, and now that she's coming to visit, he has to pretend he's married.

I think my favorite variation of this was on Full House, when Danny was forced to bring a fake girlfriend with him, so he could be on a dating TV show.  The two of them ended up winning the award for "couple that knows the most about each other", even though they had never met before.

My next question is if sitcoms ever have fake children plotlines.  Like, Joey from Full House pretends that Baby Michelle is his daughter, so he can pick up girls at the supermarket.  Or my mom comes to visit from California, so I ask my wacky next door neighbor if I can pass off his kids as my own.  Hilarity ensues.

I'm asking, because I mentioned something like this to a friend, and he thought I was crazy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lumen Gentium (Part 2)

Today, I'm going to continue my discussion on Lumen Gentium, which is about the church.

When Jesus founded the Catholic Church, he instituted various ministries, which work for the good  of all.  The clearest example of this is when he sent forth the Apostles as leaders of the church.  St. Peter was put above the other apostles, to ensure that they remained one and undivided.  He served as "a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion".

The modern church has the same structure as the early church.  The successors of the apostles, the Bishops, are the leaders and chief shepherds of the church.  The Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope or the Successor of St. Peter, holds a special place above the Bishops.  In addition to bishops, the apostles appointed men to be priests and deacons to assist them in serving and leading the community; likewise, in the modern church, the bishops appoint men as deacons and priests, to serve and lead their respective communities.

Chapter III goes on to describe bishops in great detail.  It discusses the college of bishops (all the bishops in the world, working together), individual bishops in relation to their local churches, the duties of bishops, the teaching authority of the bishops (which stems from their authentic preaching of the faith), the sacramental powers of a bishop, and the role of bishop as pastor and leader.  At the end of the section, the role of priests and deacons is discussed.

Chapter IV turns its focus on the laity, which are all the members of the church who are not ordained or living in the religious state (i.e. monks and nuns).  They are characterized by living in the world, and so they are called by God to "work for the sanctification of the world from within".  The laity may differ in terms of who they are or what they do, "yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ".

Since the laity of the church make up part of the Body of Christ, they are called to participate in the salvific mission of the church.  They serve as witnesses and living instruments of the church.  This is not something which is reserved for priests and bishops alone; all members of the church are called to holiness of life and proclamation of the Gospel.  In particular, the laity should work to "remedy the customs and conditions of the world...so that they all may be conformed to the norms of justice and may favor the practice of virtue rather than hinder it."

Chapter IV ends by encouraging greater cooperation between the laity and priests.  The laity should obediently follow the decisions of their spiritual shepherds, following the example of Christ's obedience.  As a result of this greater cooperation, the laity will have "a strengthened sense of personal responsibility; a renewed enthusiasm; a more ready application of their talents to the projects of their spiritual leaders."  As for priests, they should promote the dignity of the laity, encourage them, employ their advice and guide them with fatherly love; as a result, they "can more clearly and more incisively come to decisions regarding both spiritual and temporal matters."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Abortion Math

This week was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark trial which legalized abortion in the United States of America. Since then, over 55 million abortions have been performed in our country.

Let me do the math here. The current US population is 315,220,547 (source: US Population Clock), while it was 211,357,000 in 1973 (source: US Census Bureau).  This means about 103,863,547 children were born since abortion was legalized.  In the same period of time, 55,854,140 children were not (source: US Abortion Counter).

As you might have noticed, the number of aborted children in the past forty years is over half the number of non-aborted children.  Percentage wise, it's a 65-35 split.  65% of the children were born, while 35% of them were aborted.  I should consider myself fortunate for being born during this time period; my odds of being carried to term were a little less than two thirds.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oregon DMV

I've been living in Oregon for over a month, but the State of Oregon still doesn't recognize me as an official resident.  This is partially because I'm renting the house from a family friend, as opposed to a house-renting company.  It took me three weeks to get the post office to deliver mail to my new address.

I went to the DMV today, to try to get them to accept me as a new resident.  Their rules were kind of strict.  For example, they did not accept my California Driver's License as a valid ID.  I'm not sure why the DMV thinks driver's licenses are an invalid form of ID.  Fortunately, I had my US passport, which worked.

Once all the paperwork was done, they forced me to take the written driver's test.  Again, I'm not sure why I need to take a driver's test to become an Oregon citizen.  I was completely unprepared for the test--I haven't taken one in eight years--so I failed.  Sort of like how I failed my driver's test five times.

I have to wait a week, before I can retake the test. In the meantime, Oregon considers me to be a resident alien, rather than a naturalized citizen.  You'd think they would make it a bit easier to become a member of their state; the sooner I'm a resident, the sooner I pay taxes!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. The premise of Last Man Standing is that Tim Allen plays an old-fashioned macho man.  Question: Why is it considered old-fashioned for guys to be tough and macho?

2. Also, does anyone besides me remember this commercial?



3. I am actively making a compendium of every burger place in Portland.  I'm up to thirteen places so far.  Yesterday's place was kind of a disappointment.  The burger had way too many extras; if I wanted that much lettuce, tomato and onion, I would have ordered a salad.  It makes me sad when I can't actually taste a burger while eating it.

Also, what's up with some places that put eggs on the burgers?  A full fried egg is a breakfast food, not a topping.

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (DS)

Recently, I played Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS, which is way more fun than it should be.

Why It Should Not Be Fun:
  • If you don't replay any levels, it's rather short (eleven levels, over three worlds)
  • There are cheap enemies, who can only be injured if you hit them at the correct angle
  • There are cheap enemies, who do three hearts full of damage
  • There are cheap enemies, who take six hits to kill
  • The painting challenge gets repetitive quite quickly
  • The health refill items only fill up half a heart
Why It Is Super Fun:
  • The artwork is very nice
  • The Fortress
In between the platforming levels, you can visit The Fortress.  This is basically Disney meets Harvest Moon, or The Way I Was Hoping Kingdom Hearts Would Be.  Every Disney character has a room, and you can go around and talk to them.  Each character has two or three quests for you to solve over the course of the game, like Donald's quest to get a loan from his skinflint Uncle Scrooge, or Princess Tiana borrowing Rapunzel's frying pan, so she can cook some gumbo.  Other quests are collection quests, forcing you to replay levels.

It was extremely fun, seeing the characters interact with each other.  My favorite scene was Donald Duck getting flirty with Cinderella.  My only complaint would be that they didn't need rooms for five separate Peter Pan characters, when Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King only got one character room apiece.  But I forgive any and all failings of The Fortress, because Scrooge McDuck was one of the characters, and he was great.

Scrooge was also in the Disney Christmas parade last year.  Is my favorite non-movie Disney character making a comeback?  Probably not.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Last Man Standing

For the past two Fridays, I watched Tim Allen's new sitcom, Last Man Standing.  I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like the show, but I like the idea of Tim Allen working in Hollywood again.  For the past decade or so, he hasn't done much besides for voicing Buzz Lightyear.

The premise of the show is that Tim Allen lives with his wife, three daughters and his grandson.  He's supposed to an old-fashioned macho guy, and it's funny because he's constantly surrounded by women and has no idea how to deal with them.

No, really.  He has no idea how to deal with any of his family members.  It's like he first met them a month ago or something.  He's been living with them for fifteen years, and he doesn't know basic things like, "My wife gets mad when I insult her directly".

I'd rate the show as merely adequate.  The supporting cast is great; in general, they're funnier and more entertaining than the characters in the main family.  It slightly throws off the show's dynamic, though, because the one-line characters steal the show.  I like these funny characters, but it seems odd that they're disproportionately funnier than the main characters.

My main problem with the show is that I don't think it understands sitcom morals.  The first show I saw started with a somewhat confusing moral, "you shouldn't show favoritism to pretty girls, and you shouldn't not show favoritism to pretty girls".  This moral then got twisted, then inverted, then turned around to the point where I had no idea what I was supposed to learn.  The second episode I saw had a moral which kind of ignored the main plotline.  Actually...I don't remember if they resolved the main plotline or not.  Huh.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lumen Gentium

The second document of Vatican II is Lumen Gentium, which is about the church.  This is a longer document than Dei Verbum, so I might need to discuss it in three parts, not two.

The first section of the document is on the mystery of the church.  It describes the role of the church, throughout all of salvation history. It then goes into detail about various metaphors which are used to describe the church, such as "the house of God", "our mother", "the bride of Christ", and "the vineyard of the Lord".  The most important title for the church, which is not a metaphor, is "the Mystic Body of Christ".  All the members are the church are united to Christ, through the sacraments, which not only symbolize our oneness with Christ, but also bring it about.  "All the members ought to be molded in the likeness of Him, until Christ be formed in them."

One major problem that occurs is that people will try to separate the church from the church.  I've seen this happen in various ways.  For example, I've heard people say things like "the Spanish community here is a completely different church", "what they do in Rome doesn't affect us here in America" and "things were different in the 1950's".  The truth is, you can't split up the church by language, location, or time, simply because the church transcends all these things.  The one church of Christ has existed, unchanged, in all languages, places and times.

The document makes a particular point to not separate the human and divine elements of the church.  This is a mistake that has been present since the very beginning; in our times, the tendency is to replace divine elements with unsuitable human elements.  Jesus Christ was both fully god and fully human; the church he founded, likewise, is partially human and partially divine.  Trying to separate the two is as foolish as trying to separate the church in Heaven from the church on Earth.

The second part of the document is on the people of God.  The people of God are one, reborn in the new covenant established by Christ's blood, which made them "a chosen race...a holy nation, God's own people".  They are "a lasting and sure seed of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race".  Through baptism, a person becomes one of God's people, and he or she is transformed in a priest and prophet.

A person who is baptised is made into a priest, in that he or she is consecrated as holy to God, and he or she can now offer spiritual sacrifices to God and proclaim the power of Christ.  Of course, the priesthood confirmed during baptism is essentially different from the ordained priesthood (in the same way a dog is essentially different from a cat), but the two are related, because they are both a participation in the priesthood of Christ.

The document goes on to describe the sacraments, which nourish, unite and perfect the people of God.  The people of God actively participate in the sacraments, instead of passively receiving them. The Eucharistic sacrifice is of particular note, because it is "the source and summit of the whole Christian life".

A person who is baptised is made into a prophet, in that he or she becomes a living witness to God, "especially by means of a life of faith and charity".  As prophets, they are led by the Holy Spirit, who gives them supernatural discernment of matters of faith and morals.  "The people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life."

"All men are called to belong to the new people of God"; they are all called to be members of the universal Catholic Church.  The document first turns its attention on the Catholic faithful, who know that the Church is necessary for salvation, as Christ has affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism in explicit terms.  Attention then turns to Christians, who are united in Christ through baptism, but not fully united in that they do not profess the faith in its entirety or maintain communion with the Pope; the Catholic Church constantly prays, hopes and works, so that these people who broke off from the church may return.

Attention is finally given to non-Christians.  God wills that all people be saved, and so he is not far distant from them; he makes his will known to them through the dictates of the conscience.  Sadly, many people have deformed their consciences; "they have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator."  And so, as far as non-Christians are concerned, we must remember the command to preach the Gospel to every creature, to carry the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.  "The Church both prays and labors in order that the entire world may become the People of God".

Saturday, January 19, 2013

DragonBall Z Timelines

My favorite part of DragonBall Z, which is also the part where I started watching the series, was the time travel plotline.  It was pretty exciting.  A character named Trunks, who nobody had ever seen before, mysteriously appeared and killed the series' main villain, without even breaking a sweat.  After that introduction, he turns to Vegeta and says, "Hi, I'm your son from the future, who hasn't been born yet.  I went back in time to prevent the apocalypse."

Okay, so it didn't happen quite like that, but it was still pretty cool.

The time travel material was very well done.  Instead of having one timeline, like Back to the Future, there were multiple timelines.  DBZ kept things relatively simple, by only having two timelines: the main one where everything happened, and the horrible future timeline that Trunks was from.

Here's the part I don't like about the time travel in DBZ.  Fans of the show claim that there has to be a third timeline, in order for the first two timelines to exist.  This timeline is seen briefly, in a filler episode.  There also has to be a fourth timeline, in order for the third timeline to exist.

The show itself doesn't go into detail about Timelines 3 and 4; this is mostly fan conjecture.  Timeline 3 is the Worst Timeline Ever, in which everyone dies.  The only survivor is the main villain who steals a time machine so he can kill everyone in another timeline.  In Timeline 4, Trunks is sort of boring, and he stops the bad guys with a remote control instead of fighting them.

The points I'm making:

1. The two timelines that are featured in the show are good. I like them.
2. The two timelines that are not featured in the show are bad. I don't like them.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Video Series

Today, I'm starting a new video series.  This time, I'm playing Death Upon an Austrian Sonata: A Dana Knightstone Novel.  It came out in 2012 and won an award or two, so maybe this will be a popular series.



I'll post one video per day. With six chapters and an epilogue, this equates to a week of videos. I think it's an okay game, although I dislike the epilogue more than I should. It has its moments, particularly the cool dog in Chapter Three.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 9)

Here is Chapter 9 of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy meets Hal Tanaka, the Japanese exchange student.

---

Nancy left the lounge and went to the study hall, which was very close by. The only person in the room was an Asian boy, who looked like he was wearing a shirt that was too big for him.

"Hey there," Nancy said. "What's your name?"

"I'm Hal Tanaka," the student said. "Actually, my real first name is Halloween, but Hal is my nickname. I shortened it when I moved here from Japan."

"Why do you think it's easier to have an American name?" Nancy asked.

"I want to fit in and be part of the culture here in America," Hal said. "In fact, I want to live here permanently. Right now, I'm just a foreign exchange student."

"I'm from another state, so I guess I'm kind of an exchange student myself," Nancy said. "My name's Nancy Drew."

"It is nice to meet you, Nancy," Hal said. "You picked a bad time to come visit Paseo Del Mar High School, I am afraid. Everyone is very stressed out about the murder."

"Did you know the victim?" Nancy asked.

"I feel uncomfortable talking about this right now," Hal said, grabbing onto his arm. "Please, excuse me."

He then leaned forward and looked at the books on the table in front of him.

"Uh..." Nancy said. Hal didn't appear to be doing anything.

First Connie, now Hal, Nancy thought. Does every student at this school excuse themselves from conversations, only to remain in place?

"What are you doing?" Nancy asked.

"Studying," Hal said. "I must get good grades on all my exams, if I want to get a scholarship and become a doctor."

"Do you know Connie Watson?" Nancy asked. Nancy wasn't sure how she knew Connie's last name, but now wasn't the time to worry about small details.

"Yes, we've been in a few classes together," Hal said. "She was dating Jake Rogers."

Nancy's jaw dropped. "But she thought he was a creep!" she said. "Why would she date him?"

"Maybe she did not learn he was a creep until after the date," Hal said. "I do not know. I have a hard time understanding girls and dating."

"Really?" Nancy asked.

"Yes," Hal said. He could still remember one particularly disastrous meeting he had with a girl, back in Japan. Her name was Yumi Shimizu, and she worked at a bento stand. Hal had stopped by the stand to get some lunch.

"Hello," Hal said. "The weather is nice today."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Yumi asked. "Are you breaking up with me?"

"Breaking up? But you are not my girlfriend," Hal said. "I have never even met you—"

"Not your girlfriend?" Yumi asked. "So you are breaking up with me! Jerk!"

"I think there has been a misunderstanding—" Hal said.

"I'll smother you with bento!" Yumi shouted. She started throwing boxes at Hal, forcing him to retreat into a nearby conference room.

"Girls are strange sometimes," Hal said to Nancy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nancy Drew Newsletter

The Nancy Drew newsletter for January has been released! It looks like they're giving away free strategy guides now!

Clearly, this is all part of a plot to prevent people from using my video walkthroughs, when they get stuck on a puzzle.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gay Marriage in Illinois

Gay marriage laws have been in the news recently, as it is the start of a new year, when new laws usually go into effect.

Personally, I'm going to wait for the US Supreme Court to give a ruling on gay marriage.  They have two separate bills on this year's agenda which deal with the topic; I'm sure there will be a lot said when those bills are addressed.

In the meantime, I thought I'd mention Illinois.  Their senate recently voted on redefining marriage laws.  The vote was 8 to 5, in favor of allowing gay marriage.  The law didn't pass, so I'm guessing that Illinois requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass laws.  It should be noted that some senators were absent for the vote.

My second cousin, Bishop Tom Paprocki, was one of the people who testified before the senate.  He's a lawyer, in addition to being a Bishop, which made him an ideal candidate for the job.  His testimony was very clear and well done.  You can hear his testimony on Youtube, but since that's just an audio file, I'd recommend his video address on the same topic.

I'm going to quote the part of the speech which I found particularly enlightening.  "[The bill] would enshrine in our law--and thus in public opinion and practice--three harmful ideas:

1. What essentially makes a marriage is romantic-emotional union.
2. Children don't need both a mother and father.
3. The main purpose of marriage is adult satisfactions."

We can see destructive behavior, which results from these ideas.  Marriages built only on emotional attachment, with no solid foundation, crumble quickly.  Parents are much more likely to abandon their children, in a system where the presence of both parents is deemed unnecessary.  And when marriage's main purpose is adult satisfaction, then there is no reason for marriages to be permanent or monogamous.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hooked on a Feeling

What is this?  I don't even...



Well.  Now I know what song will be playing when my bride and I share our first dance as husband and wife.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dei Verbum (Part 2)

Today, I'll continue my discussion of Dei Verbum.

Last time, I mentioned the unity of Scripture.  The Old Testament and the New Testament are different in style (and in language), but not in meaning.  "God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New."  True, the Old Testament contains "some things which are incomplete and temporary", but it is still useful and necessary for understanding God's plan of salvation.

In the New Testament, the Gospels have a special preeminence.  The Gospels show what Jesus Christ did and taught for the salvation of souls.  They are not written in what modern people would call "a historical fashion"; for example, St. John synthesizes some things, and St. Luke explains some things in view of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (which happened after Christ's death).  Nonetheless, the church "unhesistatingly asserts" the historical nature of the Gospels, in that they accurately portray the life of Jesus.

The final section of Dei Verbum is mostly a series of instructions to the church of the 1950's, on what to do concerning the Bible.  They want everyone to have easy access to suitable, correct translations of the Bible.  The church wants its theologians to be intimately familiar with the Bible, as it is "the soul of sacred theology", and again, "ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ" (St. Jerome)

Priests, deacons and catechists are legitimately active in the ministry of the word, and so they must hold fast to the Bible in reading and study.  This will enable them to more fully "share the abundant wealth of the divine word with the faithful committed to them".  All the Christian faithful are urged to gain a greater knowledge of Christ through the Scriptures and especially through the mass.  And, of course, prayer should always accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture.

By reading and studying the Bible, the Catholic Church hopes that the treasure of revelation may more and more fill the hearts of humans.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 8)

Here is Chapter 8  of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy meets Connie.

---

The hall monitor in the study area was a somewhat short girl with reddish-brown hair. She was wearing a pink shirt, and she had a golden medallion around her neck. On the medallion was a foreign-looking letter that Nancy didn't recognize.

"Hi, I'm Connie," the hall monitor said. "You're not from around here, are you?"

"How did you know?" Nancy asked.

"I have every student in this entire school memorized," Connie said. "I have a lot of free time. Things around here are usually quiet and boring."

"That must be nice," Nancy said.

"Of course, now things are totally out of control," Connie said. "Somebody was killed last night, and all the students are worried."

"Who was killed?" Nancy asked.

"Oh, just this wannabe stud named Jake Rogers," Connie said, in a dismissive voice. "He was a total creep! Nobody liked him!"

Connie waved her hand at Nancy. "I gotta go now," she said. "Later."

Connie then leaned back in her chair. Nancy looked around, confused.

"Aren't you going to go somewhere?" she asked.

"No. Why?" Connie asked.

"Because—ah, never mind," Nancy said. "Can you tell me more about Jake Rogers?"

"No," Connie said. "I tried my best to avoid him whenever possible. All the guys at this school are slimeballs, but Jake was the worst of the bunch."

"All of the guys are slimeballs?" Nancy asked, disappointed. If none of the guys were good, she would have a hard time finding a date for the Paseo Del Mar Homecoming Dance.

"Well, maybe not all of them," Connie allowed. "Daryl Gray seems nice. I wish I knew him better."

"Hey, wait a second," Nancy said, putting two and two together. "Daryl got a letter from a girl named Connie, saying that she had to break off their date for the Sadie Hawkins Dance."

Connie looked upset. "That's right," she said.

"And Connie, you just said you know every student in the school," Nancy said. "So, do you know who Connie is?"

Connie stared blankly at Nancy. "It's me," she said finally. "I sent Daryl that letter. I don't want to talk about it."

"But you were just saying you'd like to get to know—"

"It's complicated," Connie sighed. "I said I don't want to talk about it."

Nancy noticed for the first time that Connie had rather large muscles, so Nancy decided to slowly back away. She tripped over her shoelaces and smashed against the soda machine behind her.

*BWWAAAAP! BWWAAAAP!* went the soda machine.

"I didn't do it!" Nancy said automatically. "It wasn't me!"

"You set off the soda machine alarm," Connie said. "Don't worry; it happens all the time. I'll turn it off for you."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Top Ten Games of 2012

I played about sixteen games in 2012. In no particular order, here are the ten games I thought were the best.
  1. Twilight Phenomena: Lodgers of House 13 was a rocking horror game.  The plot makes no sense in retrospect, but it had a good number of scares.
  2. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective was so-so.  The scenes and mysteries were good; the solutions to the mysteries were bad.  The game gets bonus points for having Sherlock Holmes actually resemble Sherlock Holmes, unlike the last few adaptations.
  3. Inappropriate Llama Disaster was a quick, ridiculous game.  It's hard to go wrong with silly llamas on roller skates.
  4. The Grunts: Beard of Bees was a quick iPad game.  You'll play it twice, then delete it.  The concept of the game--based off a children's book--is ridiculous enough to be humorous.
  5. The 7th Guest really shouldn't be on this list, because it's not very good.  And that makes me sad, because there is clearly a good game inside it, just waiting to be released.  Hmmm...okay, I'll say that I'm giving this game bonus points, because the iPad version cut out the annoying "memorize a 25 note sequence" piano puzzle.  Getting rid of that was definitely a good call.
  6. Resonance was good enough, I suppose.  The inventory system was kind of weird, but the Gruff Cop character was fantastic.  I should replay it someday, to determine how much I like it.
  7. Cherry Tree High Comedy Club was a nice effort.  Replaying the game to get the special ending is a humongous pain, though; it needs a fast-forward button.
  8. Death Upon an Austrian Sonata was rather fun. I would not recommend spending the extra money for the collector's edition, though.  Many puzzles in the epilogue section feel like they were removed from the main game for a reason.
  9. Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device was fantastic!  They did a great job of charting out the game and how things should go.  Storywise, it fits perfectly into a three-act layout, with the first and third acts being distinct and balanced in length.  I liked the characters, too; I'm going to keep doing the Victor impersonation for a while now.
  10. Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen was our first experience with the new interface and the larger screen.  It was a good transition to the new system, and I happened to like exploring in the game.  Other people had issues with it, but I didn't think it was that bad.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Birthday Post

It's my birthday again today, so I'm not doing any work.  Hopefully, this year's post won't get overrun with a medical spambot, like last year's birthday post.

Oh, and I'm 27 now.  That's like...old.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Three Things: DragonBall Z

1.  A new DragonBall Z movie is coming out this year.  It seems like it could be halfway decent.  Unlike the other movies, the author of DragonBall Z was actually consulted this time around.

I'm kind of wondering how they made over ten DBZ movies, without once consulting the series author.  Maybe his connection to the TV series doesn't go far beyond him writing the comic books that the series was based on.  And maybe the movies don't have much of a connection to the TV series.

2.  DragonBall Z ended in 1996, which is seventeen years ago.  This will be the fourth (or so) bit of new DragonBall Z animation since the TV series ended.

I'm kind of resentful, because all of the new animation is high budget, compared to the original series.  If you ever watch one of the show's DVDs, you'll notice that the animation quality completely changes from episode to episode.  (General rule: bad animation = filler episode).  But all of the new material has the same level of quality.  Sure, now they're paying for consistent animation.

3.  The press release that I saw talked about DBZ's worldwide success, calling it a "global phenomenon".  It went on to not mention that the movie will only be released in Japan.

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 7)

Here is Chapter 7 of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy learns about one of the crazy students at Paseo Del Mar.

---
 
Nancy Drew decided it was a good time to visit Paseo Del Mar High School, the scene of Jake's murder. She walked into the building and headed down the halls to her right. Pretty much every bulletin board had a secret message for Nancy to decode, along with a note along the lines of Hf:L1.

Poor Nancy had no idea how to decode these hidden messages. Were they hidden messages? Maybe they were just random letters and numbers written everywhere.

Nancy found the door to the boiler room, which was locked. She continued down the hall and found herself in some sort of lounge. There were study tables, a magazine rack, a soda machine and various posters. There was also a girl in the room, and if the plaque in front of the girl was to be believed, she was the hall monitor.

Nancy eyed the right side of the room, which had a door to the teacher's lounge. It also had a large board, containing pictures of the various students of the month at Paseo Del Mar High. One of the students stood out to Nancy: Mr. September. She recalled talking to Aunt Eloise about that boy, a few days ago...



"School started on September 30th that year," Aunt Eloise said. "There was no way to determine who the best student was, so we gave the Student of the Month award to some random kid whose name we picked out of the school directory. Big mistake."

"Why?" Nancy asked.

"He threw a fit at the award ceremony," Aunt Eloise said. "He was screaming and crying and making a huge fuss. Nobody could calm him down, and after about an hour, we sent him home. He was still shouting about how this was the greatest moment of his life."

"What happened to him after that?" Nancy asked.

"He never returned to school," Aunt Eloise said. "We got a letter from him, six months later, saying he moved away and changed his name to 'arglefumph'. I don't know what to make of it, myself. The school psychiatrist said that he freaked out, but he never freaked back in again."

"Poor Mr. September," Nancy said. "I can't believe he went crazy."

The other students on the Students of the Month board looked reasonably sane, though, so Nancy decided to shrug it off.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

MLP: FiM

This year's season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is almost over.  Boy, it seems like it was a really short season this year..

No, wait.  It doesn't seem short.  It was short.  This year was a half-season.

Hasbro didn't bother to pay for a full season of MLP (or Transformers), using the logic that a) it's cheaper and b) the show is popular, so it's gonna make money no matter what.

Yeah, so they're cutting back on their two most popular shows, because...they're popular.  Huh.  Do they not know how television works?  Because usually, you try to promote our popular shows.

Oh, well.  Maybe Season Four will be a full season.  We don't know at this point, because they've haven't announced if they're making a fourth season or not.  Let's just hope they don't realize that it'd be cheaper to cancel the show immediately.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Question and Answer

Some people have been commenting on this blog, complaining about how I don't read comments and answer questions.  To make a long story short, I don't usually respond to question-comments on this blog, because I tend to write entries a few days in advance.  It's kind of hard for me to be topical and answer questions right away.

Anyway, today I'll answer a popular question.

---

Dear Michael,

Why don't you do a video walkthrough for a Sherlock Holmes game?

--Reader.

---

Dear Reader,

The Sherlock Holmes games are awful.

-Michael

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dei Verbum (Part 1)

I said I would read the documents of Vatican II. Let's start with the first constitution, Dei Verbum ("Word of God").  It's 26 paragraphs long, divided into six chapters.  Today, I'll summarize the first half of this document.

The first chapter is on revelation.  God has revealed Himself to humans, in order that humans may come to know God and share in the divine nature.  God reveals himself in many ways, but the primary and most perfect way is through his son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the image of the invisible God, seeing as they share the same nature.  "To see Jesus is to see His Father (John 14:9)."

Christ's self-revelation has been preserved in two main ways.  First is the apostolic tradition; Christ commanded the apostles to preach the gospel to all nations, and they did so.  The apostles traditioned, or handed over, Christ's teachings and beliefs to their successors, the bishops.  The Catholic Church holds onto its traditions and beliefs, which are thousands of years old, because they can be directly traced back to Christ and the apostles.

The second way God's revelation to humanity has been preserved is through the Bible.  The Bible is the word of God, inasmuch as it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is God.  It is a mistake to say, "I only follow the Bible", or "I only follow the Church".  Scripture and tradition are closely linked, seeing as they have the same source, deal with the same topics, and both lead to God.  "Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence."

Chapter Three deals with the inspiration and interpretation of Sacred Scriptures.  As stated above, the Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  God made use of human authors to transmit his message, without overriding their free will.  The authors, although they wrote about divine things in human fashion, did not corrupt their writings by adding or deleting parts of God's message.  As a result, the Bible teaches "solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation."

In order to understand Scripture, a person should pay attention to things like what the author originally intended, the times and cultures the authors wrote in, and literary forms (like poetry, prophetic work, etc.).  Attention should also be given to the unity of Scripture, and how Scripture relates to tradition.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 6)

Here is Chapter Six of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy explores the kitchen of Maxine's.  It doesn't take long before she almost burns it down, accidentally.

---
 
Nancy sat around for a while, until she got tired of waiting for her food. She decided to go to the kitchen in the back, so she could see what was taking the cook so long.
It turned out there was no cook, which explained why Nancy's meal was taking so long to make. Since the murder victim spent a lot of time in the diner, Nancy figured it couldn't hurt if she snooped around for a bit.

In the corner of the kitchen was a large sink area, where they cleaned utensils. Nancy rifled through them, and picked up a particularly cool-looking soup ladle for no real reason. Then she noticed a crumpled-up piece of paper nearby. She picked it up and read:
Dear Daryl,

I need to break off our date to the Sadie Hawkins' dance. I'm very sorry—but something suddenly came up.
Connie

"Daryl has trouble finding a date? I'm not surprised," Nancy said dryly.
Nancy passed over some shelves full of cooking supplies, and her attention was caught by a piece of paper attached to a fridge. It was a list of instructions for employees, with Hg:L3 written on the bottom. Not too far away was the work schedule, which indicated that Jake Rogers usually worked with Daryl.

"They should really think about hiring a third employee to work here," Nancy said to herself.
At the bottom of the work schedule was a note which read Te:L3. Nancy immediately wrote this down in her notebook. One weird clue was a fluke, but two? That was a pattern.

Nancy looked around the rest of the kitchen, but it was pretty boring. They had cooking supplies, utensils and grills. Nancy rarely cooked herself, mainly because Hannah had banned Nancy from the kitchen. Hannah made this decision after Nancy accidentally set the oven on fire while attempting to make apple slices for lunch. Nancy thought that was an excessive punishment.
"I am a great chef!" Nancy said. "In fact, I can prove it by cooking my food myself!"

Nancy hunched over the oven, which looked kind of old. She had no idea how to use it, so she started by turning some of the knobs around. This had no effect, so she tried kicking the oven, which caused a loud clanging sound. Nancy looked to her left, and she was surprised to see that the old pipe was being supported by some bolt cutters.
Uh...why do they use hardware tools to hold up the oven pipes? Nancy thought. She picked up the bolt cutters, and the pipe immediately fell apart. The hiss of gas filled the air.

"Oh no! Oh no!" Nancy said, looking around for something to hold up the pipe and stop the gas from flowing freely. She knew she had to act quickly, or else she'd get woozy and faint.

"The soup ladle!" Nancy said, picking up the first item she could find. She jammed it under the pipe, and amazingly enough, it worked. It looked incredibly dangerous and unstable, but at least gas wasn't leaking everywhere.

Nancy dashed out of the kitchen and out of Maxine's diner. "Hey, you guys might want to fix the pipes on your oven!" she shouted at Daryl Gray, on her way out.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Having Children

One of my new neighbors here in Portland firmly believes that poor people are responsible for the current demise of the US economy.  I'd explain her argument in more detail, but since you don't know her, let me tell the story using Harry Potter characters.

The first time that Draco Malfoy meets Ron Weasley, he says that all Weasleys have red hair and more children than they can afford.  He's making the same argument my neighbor makes: poor people should not be allowed to have children.

Please note that no poor person has ever made this argument.

The logical flipside to the argument is that only rich people should have children.  After all, they can afford it.  Oddly enough, though, this doesn't seem to happen.  Draco Malfoy is an only child, his father is an only child, and his son is an only child.  Considering that they're blood purists who are obsessed with geneaology, they're doing a horrible job of continuing the Malfoy bloodline.

Which brings me to the heart of the matter.  When someone says, "I don't think poor people should have children.", they usually mean, "I don't think anyone should have children."  Also, they tend to imply, "I dislike poor people."  That's true for my neighbor, at least.  I wonder if she's related to the Malfoys.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Video Series

My new videos series launches today.  For the next week, I'll be playing fifteen minute chunks of Awakening: The Dreamless Castle. It's a casual adventure game, about a fairy tale princess.



I'll be interested in seeing the reaction to this game. The reaction to my last video series, Twilight Phenomena, was fantastic. People loved that video walkthrough; it got about three times as much attention as my Weirdness at Waverly Academy videos.

If people like horror games so much, I'll have to play more of them.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill (Chapter 5)

Here is Chapter Five of my fanfic, Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Chill. Today, Nancy gets briefed on the case.

---

 
Nancy made a beeline towards the only other person in Maxine's. If she was right, this man was Detective Beech, working undercover as her uncle.
"Uncle Steve!" Nancy said, slipping into the booth across from him.

"Nancy!" Detective Beech said. "I haven't seen you since...uh...well, for a long time!"
"Well, it's not my fault you don't come and visit more often," Nancy said. "So what's up?"

Detective Beech looked right and left, making sure no one could overhear them. Since there was only one other person in the diner, this probably wasn't a necessary precaution. He leaned in closer to Nancy and said, "We prepared a case report for you. It turns out there are two stories about the victim."
"Goody!" Nancy said. She liked storytime.

"Everyone already knows the public version of the story," Beech said. "Jake Rogers was a senior at Paseo Del Mar. Kind of a nasty fellow, unpopular as a result. He was at school after hours, for an unknown reason, when he was pushed down a flight of stairs."
"Uh huh," Nancy said. She grabbed a menu and started looking through it. For some odd reason, "Xe:R3" was scribbled inside.

"The private version of the story?" Beech said. "Jake Rogers was a small-time crook. His personal bank account is huge, at least ten times what he made as an employee here. He was probably involved in drugs, blackmail, or both."
"That's not good," Nancy said.

"Students mention the fact that Jake always carried a blue notebook around with him. Always. He was never seen without it."
Detective Beech took a sip of his coffee.

"Of course, everyone figured it was his math notebook or something like that," Beech continued. "But we know better. That notebook probably contained a list of his illegal dealings, or some other kind of incriminating evidence. When he was killed, the notebook disappeared."
"Hmmm..." Nancy said thoughtfully.

"The notebook is our best lead right now," Beech said. "Maybe the killer took it, or maybe Jake hid it in the school somewhere. Either way, find the notebook, find the killer. That's the plan."
"I've got it!" Nancy said.

"You...you have the notebook?!" Detective Beech asked.
"No, I know what I'm going to eat!" Nancy said. "I'm going to get the Maxine's Special! It sounds delicious!"

Nancy put down the menu. "Now, what were you saying about the case report?"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

General Hospital

It's no secret that I like to watch Days of Our Lives.  Recently, though, I've been getting into another soap opera, General Hospital.

I know I don't want to get addicted to two soap operas--I might as well wear a sign that says, "I have nothing to do during daytime hours"--so I'm limiting myself.  Instead of watching all of General Hospital, I only watch the scenes with Sabrina in them.

Sabrina--otherwise known as me if I were a girl--is trying to get the attention of Dr. Hotty.  Unfortunately, she's stuck firmly in the Friend Zone.  To make matters worse, Dr. Hotty is currently dating Nurse Shallow and Catty, who is constantly rubbing it in Sabrina's face.

Will Dr. Hotty ever realize that Sabrina is a much better girl for him, even though she's kind of young?  I'm not entirely sure that will happen.  For one thing, men on soap operas are ridiculously oblivious.  For another, this is clearly a joke plotline, not one of the "serious" plotlines.  It might not have your typical happy ending.

Then again, no one on soap operas really gets a happy ending.  If they did, there would be no drama at all, and the show would be boring.  But sometimes characters can get a temporary "and they all lived happily ever after..." ending.  Here's hoping that Sabrina can get some happiness in 2013.