Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blog Plans

Yesterday, I mentioned some possible projects I could take up on this blog, but I'm going to throw them out because somebody had a better idea.  I'm going to take this recap of Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor and turn it into a parody story.

My other Nancy Drew parody stories took forever to write, because I wrote the stories and played the games at the same time.  This time, though, I think I remember enough of the game to not need a replay.  I already remember way more than I want to about Blackmoor Manor.  For example, here is the opening letter of the game, according to my memory:

"Dear Ned,
Greetings from jolly old England! Only right now, I'm not too sure about the 'jolly' part. That's because I'm off to visit Blackmoor Manor, where the daughter of one of our neighbors is living. The daughter, whose name is Linda, recently married Hugh Pennvelyn, a British diplomat.  Something something the wedding, she's practically bedridden, and nobody seems to know why.  Hugh travels a lot, so the only other people at the manor with Linda right now are Hugh's aunt, Mrs. Drake, and Hugh's twelve-year-old daughter, Jane.  So, here I am, about to be dropped at a centuries-old dark, foggy moor.  I can't tell if the butterflies in my stomach are because I'm excited, or just a tad creeped out.
Talk to you soon (I hope),
Nancy."

Yeah, my memory is surprisingly accurate when it comes to that part.  In contrast, here is all I remember of the opening letter to Danger on Deception Island:

"Dear [name],
Something something Katie Firestone something something whales.  Bicycle safety is important, and so is brushing your teeth.
Love,
Nancy."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Evangelii Gaudium

Pope Francis has recently written a document entitled Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).  Part of me wants to read and review it here on my blog, because otherwise, I'll probably never get around to reading it.  It's kind of...long.

Over 50,000 words, including the footnotes.

On the other hand, I still have a bunch of half-written notes for that "Proofs for the Existence of God" series I wrote in October.  How far did I get, about 40% through?  I should go back and finish that.

Readers, let me know what you think. I'll take your input into consideration while deciding which (if either) project I will work on.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kids and Computers

Yesterday, I talked about my parents and computers.  On the opposite end of the spectrum from old people who can't use computers, you have young people.

The little kids (six years and under) have a limited knowledge of computers and technology, mainly because not all of them can read.  So instead of learning how to properly work an iPad or whatever, they learn how to make it do the one thing they want.  For some kids, that's "play Temple Run".  For others, it's "watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".

Dad is just like a little kid, in this regard.  The one thing he cares about is sports scores and updates.  He can get them on his iPhone in ten seconds flat, no problem.  With everything else, he's clueless.  That's slightly frustrating.  He can do one (somewhat complex) thing perfectly on his phone, but he can't apply those skills to working any of the other phone's abilities.

Here's another weird thing about my parents.  They don't know how to send text messages on their phones.  They only know how to send video messages.  So when they want to text me, they send me a video message with text attached, without a video.  Someone needs to tell them that they can send a text message by itself, rather than sending it through the video message program.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Parents and Computers

While I'm home for Thanksgiving, my parents want me to do their computer stuff for them.  My reaction is, "No way, Jose."  I'm not getting anywhere near their computer.  Trying to do tech support for my parents looks like this:

Mom: How do I attach something to an email?
Me: Do you see the "attach" button?
Mom: Yes.
(Pause)
Me: ...Click on the "attach" button to attach something.
Mom: Are you sure?

You laugh, but that conversation repeated every week for months, because Mom couldn't be bothered to remember how to use attachments, or, God forbid, actually try doing it herself.  Eventually, I gave up on helping her, because there's no point in teaching someone who refuses to learn.  It was a huge fight in our house, and everyone yelled at me for being a mother-hating jerk who refuses to help other people.

Dad isn't much better.  He still doesn't know how to go to any website besides Yahoo.  To check his Comcast email, he does a Yahoo search for "Comcast email".  Dad ordered me to fix his computer, because he accidentally set his default home page to Bing.com, and that is way more than he can handle.

Basically, I don't know why my parents own a computer.  It's like someone buying a car, just so they can listen to the radio.  I mean, sure, that's possible, but that's not what cars are for.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nancy Drew - Silent Spy Bonus Videos

My throat isn't good enough for me to do commentary, without it sounding a little weird. You probably noticed this, with my recent videos. They're purposely short, so I don't have to talk much.



Monday, November 25, 2013

MLP - Season 4 Premiere - Part 2

Okay, Part 2 of my review for the Season 4 premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Anonymous from yesterday, those flashback sequences were total filler.  The only relevant flashback was the one about the Tree of Harmony.  Nightmare Moon's creation had nothing to do with the plot, and Discord's defeat was only tangentially related.

Anyway, fans love everything their favorite show does, at the same time they criticize all the show's flaws.  So here's all the good stuff about the premiere:
  • New title sequence? Yes, please!
  • So what if the first part is long? It covers all the necessary information that was left out of last season's finale.  Now we officially know how Twilight's transformation has affected her life, her relationship to the other characters and so on.
  • I appreciate that Twilight needs to adjust to her new life. The finale made it seem like she unrealistically fell flawlessly into her new role.
  • The sequence of the evil plants taking over Ponyville was well done.  You could argue that the plants do a better job of creating an imposing presence than some of the talking villains.
  • Um...why does Zecora have a jar of Flashback Potion that can only be used by one particular person? That doesn't seem like a useful thing for her to keep around at all times.
  • The Nightmare Moon stuff was well-animated and very cool.  It's nice to finally see how she turned evil and how she got defeated.  Given that her reign of terror lasted approximately two minutes, though, I'm not sure why the country has two national holidays centered around her defeat.
  • The Elements of Harmony looked a lot different a millennium ago. Okay, I can accept that.
  • Discord was overly antagonistic in these episodes, considering that he's supposed to be a good guy now.
  • Seriously, Twilight cries when her friends suggest splitting up.  Why do they all reluctantly agree to go along with it?  Doesn't anyone see that it is hurting their friend's feelings?
  • So...Applejack is the group leader when Twilight isn't around?  Okay, then.
  • It looks like they're setting up for a season-long story arc!  Um...they tried that last season, and it didn't really work.  But it worked well in the first season, even if it was just a three-episode arc. This one looks like a six-episode arc, one for each character.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Little Pony - Season 4 Premiere

Saturday was the two-episode, one-hour premiere of Season Four of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  The episodes were entitled "Princess Twilight Sparkle, Parts 1 and 2".

The story begins with our hero, Twilight Sparkle, trying to adjust to the fact that she is now a princess.  There are long speeches, and everyone assures each other that nothing bad will happen.  The next day, everyone wakes up to find that giant plants have taken over the country.  Oh no!  Also, in a subplot which won't be mentioned again, none of the unicorns can use magic anymore.

The next fifteen minutes is Twilight drinking Flashback Potion, to let her see what happened 1000 years ago.  This is interesting material, but there's a tiny problem.  It has nothing to do with the current plotline.  Yes, those parts were all well done, but at the end of the day, they were pointless filler.

So that leaves us a half-hour into the episode, before our heroes decide to fight the current villain, who is...um...a plant/tree thing. No, it doesn't talk or anything. It's just a tree.

What follows is a poorly-done subplot, in which our heroes decide to split up, just so they can reunite later and say they learned that "true friends stick together".  This is a lesson they've learned 100 times already, and the entire thing comes across as rather forced.  Seriously, it makes no sense for the world's best friends to suddenly split up.  "Hey, I know that all six of us our needed to work this weapon, but let's kick the most powerful member off the team for no reason. That can't possibly backfire!"

Almost immediately, the plan backfires, as our heroes are captured by the tree.  Fortunately, Twilight returns and saves them!  They use their Friendship Cannon or whatever it's called on the tree. This saves the world, turning everything back to normal.  Twilight is now confident in her abilities as a princess.  The end.

Ugh. As a writer, I don't like this episode.  It's just not well-balanced. The first third is overlong, almost as if the writer intended it to be an episode by itself, rather than the build-up to two-parter. The middle third of the episode needs to be changed or removed entirely.  I know fans will love the extended flashbacks which show the rise of the series' main villains, but it has nothing to do with the plot!  The final third is rushed, putting our heroes through a conflict which logically should have been introduced sooner.

That's how you improve this episode.  Remove ten minutes from the first half and give it to the second half, which is the more interesting and important part.  The series premiere had one episode building up the villain, and one episode fighting the villain; that's what should have been done here, instead of 2/3 buildup and 1/3 actual action.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy - Review

Here's my review for Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy.  I'm thinking of turning it into a video, so give me feedback!

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The Silent Spy is game #29 in the Nancy Drew series. In this game, Nancy goes to Glasgow, Scotland.

You know, I have to wonder what the Nancy Drew series is going to do in thirty years, when Nancy runs out of exciting places to visit. “She’s been to every country in the world, the moon, and 1800s England. I guess the only place left to send her is Green Bay.”

Normally, I’m sold on a game when it has the words “Nancy Drew” in the title, but for this game, I was sold on the premise. The game revolves around the murder of Nancy’s mother. This premise is both incredibly intense and extremely unexpected, because Nancy’s mother is never-to-rarely mentioned in the book series. The only thing the books say is that Mrs. Drew died when Nancy was young. That’s it. Mrs. Drew has about as much character development as Cinderella’s mother.

So it comes as a shock that this game takes Mrs. Drew’s bare-bones backstory and changes it to “she was secretly an international spy, who was killed after stopping a terrorist plot to release chemical weapons on Glasgow.”

“Also, since she doesn’t have an official name, we decided to call her Kate. Kate Drew.”

Kate Drew

The plotline about Nancy’s mother is supported by strong writing. There are phone conversations between Nancy and her father, which are fraught with emotion about their lost family member. Additionally, there are five flashbacks which feature Young Nancy and her mother at home. One of Kate’s old acquaintances features heavily in the plotline, as well.

Nancy’s personal connection to the case aside, the game works like any other Nancy Drew game. Someone has set up an elaborate series of puzzles, which Nancy has to solve in order to find something special. Along the way, she must stop a mysterious saboteur who is on the loose, and she has to do chores for other people. Typical Nancy Drew stuff.

The characters in the game are okay, but at the end of the day, I’m not going to remember any of them besides for Kate. It’s not that the characters are unmemorable, but rather, they’re victims of circumstance. Everyone is a suspicious potential spy, so Nancy’s interactions with them are extremely guarded. There’s a lot of spy-style double-talk, which makes you wonder if they’re being sincere or just putting on an act. Yes, it makes for interest and suspense, but it doesn’t leave you with characters you can easily relate to.

The music in this game is very good, especially the one piece of music that is related to the plot. My favorite piece of music is one I like to call “Awesome Dramatic Spy Music”, which plays when Nancy does cool things like find a secret computer station and zipline across a courtyard. She also gets neato spy glasses and a secret decoder. I’m jealous.

Nancy does archery

The puzzles and challenges in the game are typical fare. You’ve got math puzzles, logic puzzles, a cooking challenge and so on. I particularly liked how the ending sequence was a series of five puzzles in a row. If I had to complain about the puzzles, I would say that it is a tad suspicious that Kate Drew’s eight-year-old puzzle clues are still so useful. Don’t any of these spies change their computer passwords more than once a decade?

No, wait. I take that back. If I had to complain about the puzzles in this game, I would pinpoint the Jabberwocky puzzle. This is one of the larger puzzles of the game, centering around a coded message that you need to crack. In order to do this, you need three things.
  1. A specific copy of the poem.
  2. A record, containing audio instructions on how to decode the message.
  3. A note, which tells you to follow the instructions on the record.
I am not joking about this. You cannot decode the message after getting the instructions. You have to wait until Nancy is told to follow the instructions. Apparently, the logical leap from “getting instructions” to “following instructions” is a bit too much for Nancy Drew to handle.

When I played the game, I accidentally skipped Step #3, making the puzzle unsolvable. Over the course of two hours, the game came to a grinding halt. I worked out the puzzle solution on a separate piece of paper, but that didn’t help. Neither did the in-game hint system, which doesn’t have a specific solution for finding the instructions’ instructions.

That was the low point of the game for me—getting ridiculously stuck and having to use online cheats to figure out what I missed. I don’t know if the blame belongs with me for not recognizing a clue that other people found obvious, or if the blame belongs with the game for having a weirdly difficult puzzle. If the rumors are true, this particular puzzle’s solution was originally closer to what I tried to do—work out the solution on a separate piece of paper—but they changed it after testing, and the transition was not as smooth as it could have been. (Me finding the clues in the incorrect order didn’t help, though!)

smokies
Nancy eats Scottish food.

In conclusion, Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy is a solid entry in the Nancy Drew stories, with an especially well-done premise. The puzzles and gameplay are around the same level of quality we’ve come to expect from the series, with the exception of one puzzle that I crashed and burned on. The characters suit their purposes, but none really stands out as exceptional. If you like adventure games and spies, this is a game for you.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sherlock Holmes

A little over a month ago, I made a demo for my own Sherlock Holmes text adventure game.  The people I pitched the game to decided to reject it, for copyright reasons.

They suggested turning the project into a Sherlock Holmes parody, to avoid copyright laws.  So as a side project during October, I wrote a Sherlock Holmes parody story.  It's based on the first story of the Sherlock Holmes book.

I'm not entirely sure if I want to go ahead and turn the parody story into a full game demo.  For one thing, I'm less enthusiastic about writing a lengthy parody, compared to a mystery.  For another, I don't know what the target audience is.  I kind of get the feeling that the project will only appeal to people who have read the original book, due to its oddly specific nature.

Well, read the story and let me know what you think, I guess. Does it feel like it could be turned into an enjoyable game, or should I finish the story there?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Three Things Thursday - Mulan

I rewatched Mulan the other day, and boy, is that movie sketchy about where everything is located, during the ending.

1. The army leaves for the Emperor's Palace.  Several hours later, the Huns (and Mulan) leave for the palace.  Somehow, the Huns beat the army there, while Mulan arrives at the exact same time the army does.  Considering that Mulan is the only person on horseback, and the others are on foot, this makes no sense unless the army purposely took an extra-long route.

2. Our heroes struggle to break into the palace.  When they finally get inside, it turns out that Mushu is already there, perfectly positioned to hurt the villain's hawk and make a pun about it.  Um...how did Mushu get inside before Mulan and the others did?

Furthermore, Mushu flies to the fireworks tower on a kite. The next time we see him, he is on the other side of the palace roof, opposite of the fireworks tower.  Either there are multiple fireworks towers, or he does a lot of moving around off-camera.

3. The Emperor gives Mulan a medal and the villain's sword.  The sword was last seen, holding the villain down on the roof, so he could not escape his big death scene.  Since the Emperor has the sword, he must have climbed up to the roof to retrieve it, just so he could give it to Mulan.

Also, he says, "I've heard a great deal about you, Fa Mulan".  Um...when did that happen?  We literally see when the army arrives in town! There was no time for them to casually chat with the Emperor about Mulan's backstory.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Computer

I still do not have my computer back. I'm going to call today and see what the holdup is.

In the meantime, I decided to go ahead and do the Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy walkthrough on my backup computer.  Shortly afterwards, I got a bad sore throat, and now I can't do audio commentary without sounding weird.

So, enjoy a commentary-free video! Here are all five flashbacks from The Silent Spy.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Loulou's Magic Word Game

Over at the Nancy Drew blog, Little Jackalope wrote a piece on the locked drawer in Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger.  For some reason, even though they decided what was inside the drawer, the key to the drawer didn't make it into the game.

Speaking of things that didn't make it into the games, let's talk about Loulou's magic word puzzle in Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor.  In that puzzle, you tell Loulou a word, and she tells you the word that goes with it.  Occasionally, she demands that you bake her a cake, before she'll tell you the next word in the sequence.

On both junior and senior detective modes, the sequence of words is this:

Magic Word = Loulou is very, very clever and beautiful bird
Barber = Leech
Picture = Book
Baby = Bonnet
Hour = Glass
Ant = Hill

If you look around in the audio files folder for the game, you can find some unused clips of Loulou giving clues for the magic word puzzle. Here's a transcript of those files:

LLG64: Old. Sonnet. Sonnet. Old. Ha ha!
LLG65: Dear little kitten, she lost her mitten!  She lost her mitten!
LLG66: Newton? Apple! Newton and the apple!
LLG67: Bzzzz!  Busy as a bee! Busy as a bee!
LLG68: Your word is milk. Loulou's word is bottle. Milk bottle! Milk bottle!

I'm guessing that the magic word puzzle was originally going to be ten words long, but they decided to cut it down to five because the puzzle was too lengthy.  Or perhaps there was going to be a different set of words used, depending on whether you were a senior or junior detective.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Google+

YouTube has completely redone its comments section. If you want to leave comments on a video (or in my case, remove comments), you need to first sign up for Google+.

Google+ is Facebook's annoying younger brother. He's desperate for attention, and his attempts to be as popular as his big bro seems to make people hate him all the more.

I have not signed up for Google+ yet.  I'm hoping that this experiment by Google will crash and burn, and I can resume dealing with YouTube comments on YouTube.  Seriously.  Logic. YouTube stuff belongs on YouTube.

This is also the same strategy I am using for Obamacare.  I'm told that there are still major issues with the Obamacare laws, which is kind of surprising.  It's been in the final planning stages for over a year; you think all the problems would have been resolved by now. Maybe they should delay it for half a year, while they work out all the kinks.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Poor Wizards

Maybe I've been reading too much Harry Potter fanfiction lately, but I don't understand why the Weasley family is poor.  I mean, they can all do magic.  They should be able to make a fortune with minimal effort!

Remember in Order of the Phoenix, where Dumbledore wants to sit down, so he conjures two fancy armchairs out of thin air?  He literally makes furniture out of nothing!  Am I the only one who thinks that Dumbles can use this power to become a furniture salesman?

Think about it!  He can make any type of furniture he wants, within a couple of seconds, without any production costs!  In one afternoon, he could make enough furniture to supply a hundred stores.  Less talented wizards could easily get similar results, with transfiguration or the duplication spell.

Wow, the duplication spell. You could use that to give you an infinite amount of whatever product you wish to sell, at little to no cost. You could easily sell a huge amount of product to Muggles, then have that money transferred into Wizard currency.  Personally, I would open a mail-order business that sells statues and religious artwork to churches at low prices.

An even simpler business would be a repair shop. My parents complain that it costs way too much money to repair and replace old eyeglasses.  In the magic world, it took about three seconds for Harry's glasses to be repaired, permanently. How easy would it be for a wizard to run a repair shop? Just ten minutes of work a week should be enough to support a wizarding family.

In conclusion, the Weasleys should not be poor. They have plenty of no cost, little effort options which would allow them to make lots of money.  Even a simple laundry service would be able to ease their pocketbook pains!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pope Francis Calls for a Catholic Poll

Remember last month, when Pope Francis met with the G8 to work on reforming the Catholic Church?  We've got an update, concerning that.

The Vatican has released a poll, which they gave to the bishops conference in every country in the world.  The orders are to release the poll to as many parishes as possible, as quickly as possible.  They want the input of everyday Catholics on a number of issues.

As usual, the media is only reporting on the questions that deal with sex, same-sex marriage, and divorce.  So the only questions we know of for sure include the following:
  • What is the value of the family?  What are the difficulties in the church's teaching on the value of the family?
  • Is the church's teaching on birth control accepted by Catholics?  What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple's accepting this teaching?
  • What is being done for people who have chosen to live in same-sex unions?  For those couples who have adopted, how are their children cared and provided for?
The Catholic Church in England and Wales put the poll up on Survey Monkey, for people to fill out.  Right now, the US Bishops are sort of doing their own thing, when it comes to releasing the poll. This week, all the Bishops were in Baltimore, where they did a lot of things, including electing the archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky as their new president (taking the reins from the cardinal in New York, whose term expired).  I imagine the poll is one of the things they worked on and discussed at the conference.

The deadline for the poll is the end of January. This is being done in preparation for the extraordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which Pope Francis announced will take place next October.  The topic is "the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization".

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update on Computer Stuff

I don't have any news about my broken computer.  I still have no idea when it will be fixed, when I will have it back, or if I will have any of my files still on it.

I recorded the first four videos of my walkthrough for The Silent Spy before my computer crashed.  I have the first video, because I edited it, but I don't have the other three.  I'm debating whether I should go ahead and try to re-record the other videos.

Because it will probably take me three hours to replace the half-hour of video footage.  And once I'm done, the computer guy will magically appear with my computer, meaning all my work will have been for nothing.

I dunno. Maybe I'll try making a short, filler video for The Silent Spy while waiting for my computer to return.  You know, like a two-minute video showing off all the death sequences, or a video showing off the easter eggs, or a video with all five flashbacks.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nightmare Adventures

My biggest under-the-radar success, in terms of video walkthroughs, is the video I made for Nightmare Adventures: The Witch's Prison.  It's one video long, and it's gotten a consistent 2,000-3,000 views per month for over a year.



About 90% of the views come from people who are not subscribers to my channel (and only eight of them decided to become subscribers).  I just find it weird that this one video is such a minor hit, given that my goal in making this video was "test out my new recording equipment).

The views I've gotten on Nightmare Adventures has gone down this year, ever since the release of the sequel.  And since my regular computer is still broken for an indefinite period of time, I decided to go ahead and record a video for Nightmare Adventures 2.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Computer Error

When I tried starting my computer this morning, it crashed.  Several times in a row.

I didn't do anything weird with my computer the night before. All I did was record four videos for my Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy walkthrough. I also recorded a video for my Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies walkthrough.

I'm writing this on the backup computer I got for making video walkthroughs. In retrospect, I should use this computer more. I've only used it to record the Dana Knightstone games and part of the 2013 Scary Nancy Drew Games Marathon.  That's not making good use of the "video walkthrough recording" computer.

So, my apologies to everyone if I completely disappear from the Internet for a week or so. I will hopefully be able to get back to video work soon.

More on Abortion

Here's a followup to my blog post last Saturday about abortion. I'm really fascinated by the comments people make, even though the comments are usually made up of people disagreeing with each other.

The Planned Parenthood in Portland has different procedures on different days. For example, they will have breast cancer screenings all day Tuesday, pap smears on Wednesday, and Thursday is when they have abortions. The schedule changes from week to week, presumably depending on the availability of the doctors who work there.

I've been there on pap smear day, and I've been there on abortion day.  The atmosphere is completely different on those two days, as are the women who enter.

I was there the day before Halloween, and by coincidence, that happened to be a day when they perform abortions.  I couldn't help but notice that every woman who came for an abortion walked into the clinic alone.  In fact, there was only one woman that day who came to the clinic with a second person. He was a man, and he was not the father of the baby, but he was there to support his girlfriend and her decision during that difficult time.

I thought that was very admirable of him.  Even if I don't completely agree with his decision, I can appreciate the fact that he put his loved one first.  Personally speaking, I have no idea how I would react if I found out my girlfriend was pregnant with someone else's baby.

But where were all the other men that day?  What happened to all the fathers of the children who were aborted?  I can't believe that all the men in Portland are deadbeats, nor can I believe that all the women in Portland make horrible choices when it comes to sexual partners. So why were all the women that day alone? I know the culture in Oregon teaches that abortion is 100% the woman's choice and no one else's, but does that mean the man can't or shouldn't be involved at all?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vodka

My sister and her friends came up here for a camping trip.  When they were done, they left all their beer and vodka in my fridge.

So, to answer all the questions from yesterday, I do own vodka!  I haven't drank any of it yet, because it tastes nasty.  To be honest, I'll never be able to tell the difference between good vodka and expired, out-of-date vodka, since they have equally foul tastes.

Or am I confusing vodka with bourbon? Or scotch?  I think one of those is the one that tastes like fire and makes your forehead like you slammed it against a wall.  Either way, none of them come recommended from me.

Also, thanks to the anonymous commenter for his or her help. I, um, can't sing the choir music without looking at the notes every single second, because I don't know how to keep a beat.  Not when it's a capella music I've never heard before, which makes a bunch of time switches.  So I was looking at the music book in my lap 90% of the time.  Maybe that's why my neck hurt.

Maybe at next week's choir practice, I'll learn what it means when the conductor waves her arms around like Superman.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. When the government shut down last month, pretty much every news report I saw said, "Oh no! This could put us back in the recession!".  And my reaction was, "But we never left the recession!".

Seriously, it bugs me when news reports (and President Obama) pretend that the economic recession is over now.  I'm sorry, but the economy has not been fixed.  It is still near-impossible for people to get jobs.  Things might be better than they were in 2008, but they are nowhere near as good as they were in 2007.

2. I don't understand why people say Christopher Columbus proved the world was round, not flat.  Everyone already knew that, thousands of years before Christopher Columbus was born.  Aristotle talks about it in his work on astronomy, unless I'm mistaken.

3. I'm in a choir that's doing a special concert for Christmas, and I'm not feeling good about it. I know I'm doing something wrong, but I don't know what it is. Choir practice last night caused the back of my neck to start pounding like crazy, and I was feeling dangerously light-headed.  You know, the kind of light headed where it feels like the area behind/above your eyeballs has been scooped out.  At a few points, I felt the need to pant in order to get air back into my body.

On a positive note, I didn't get a sore throat like I have at other practices!  Still, I wonder what I did wrong.  Maybe I drink too much vodka before choir practice.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nancy Drew Mini-Mystery

On Monday, we were treated to a Nancy Drew Mini-Mystery on Facebook.
Nancy Drew stopped by Ms. Gray's house to inform her that the creep who had been stalking her years ago had just escaped from prison. She seemed to take the news fairly well, and was very polite, though she didn't invite her in.

"You know how dangerous he is, I'm worried that he'll come after you. Who knows what he might try!" Nancy said.

"Oh, I'm sure I have nothing to worry about," she replied. But she did sound pretty nervous.

"Would you like me to call the police for you?" Nancy asked.

"Oh, no. I'm a teacher for heaven's sake! Having bodyguards following me around would just scare the students at my school."

"Well, please give me a call or text me if you see anything suspicious at all. In fact, send me a text message later no matter what, just to let me know that you're alright."

"I will definitely do that!" Ms. Gray replied.

Nancy Drew got in her car and started home, but after only a few minutes her phone buzzed to inform her that she received a text message from Ms. Gray. It read:

This morning I tried a fun new seating style for the kids during the morning assembly. I helped arrange them into rows of twenty one. The kids didn't care, but I really loved it. I liked the second column the best.

"Why on earth would I care!?" Nancy thought to herself. But then she remembered Ms. Gray’s passion for codes and realized she may be trying to tell her something. She took a closer look at her text, and couldn't believe what he found! What did the coded message say?
The top comment on the post was "Why is Nancy reading text messages while she's driving?!" The solution is this:

"He is here". That's the second column, if you line the message up in groups of 21.

tHis morning I tried a fun
nEw seating style for the
kIds during the morning a
sSembly. I helped arrange
tHem into rows of twenty o
nE the kids didn't care, but
i Really loved it. I liked the
sEcond column the best.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nancy Drew: The Deadly Plot Device

After eleven months, I've finally finished my parody of Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device.

I'm a little confused, as to the end of the game.  The very last thing we see is [Culprit] getting zapped by the Tesla coil.  I like the irony of the murder weapon hurting the murderer, but I have to wonder what happened after that.

I mean, if you think about it, Nancy is still trapped in a room with an active Tesla coil.  And now that [Culprit] is unconscious, there's no one who can go to the control room and deactivate the Tesla coil.  How did Nancy get out of that situation? Did the culprit wake up, crawl back to the control room, then turn off the Tesla coil?

I guess it's possible that the Tesla coil can be activated and deactivated remotely.  If so, why didn't [Culprit] use this feature when killing Niko?  That way, [Culprit] wouldn't have left behind incriminating video footage or the ID card record.  Maybe [Culprit] wanted to be there to witness the death firsthand, or maybe it only works when deactivating the coil. But if that's true, why didn't someone use this feature earlier, during the two "turn off the switches before the grid goes critical" puzzles?  Maybe "the grid" refers to a different deadly device.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Recording Plans

What are my recording plans for November?  Well, I hope to record walkthroughs for Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies and Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy.

I have no idea what I'll do after that.  Here is the list of games I purchased this year (2013) which I haven't played yet.  Let me know if any of them leap out at you as games worth playing, okay?
  • Twilight Phenomena: Strange Menagerie Collector's Edition
  • Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull ™ Collector's Edition
  • Awakening: The Sunhook Spire Collector's Edition
  • Mystery of the Ancients: Curse of the Black Water Collector's Edition
  • Nightmare Adventures: The Turning Thorn
  • Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart Collector's Edition 
  • Witch Hunters: Stolen Beauty
  • Reveries: Sisterly Love Collector's Edition 
  • Dark Dimensions: Wax Beauty Collector's Edition 
  • Otherworld: Omens of Summer Collector's Edition 
  • Redemption Cemetery: Grave Testimony Collector’s Edition
  • Sable Maze: Sullivan River Collector's Edition
  • Unfinished Tales: Illicit Love Collector's Edition

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Impromptu Livestream

Yesterday, I spent three hours, working on a text walkthrough for Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy.  For fun, I decided to show the entire thing live on the Internet.

It was pretty different from my normal live gameplay streams, because I kept switching back and forth between the game and the Word document. And I kept replaying the same parts of the game over and over again, to make sure I had everything in the correct order.

The first part of the game is pretty structured, in that you have to do things in a specific order.  For example, you can't leave Nancy's room before looking at the case file, you can't go to Bearsden until you know why, you can't leave Moira's house before getting the key to a place in Loch Lomond, and you can't get to Cathedral HQ before unlocking the computer in the safe house.  After you first meet Ewan, though, you can basically go anywhere at any time.

Most of the video was me typing into a Word document, so I played ragtime music in the background to make things more interesting.  I think people liked that.  Except for classical symphonies and the like, it's rare to hear songs which are nothing but music.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Controversial Texan Abortion Law

In the news this week, there was much uproar over a controversial abortion law in Texas.

I can't speak for Texas, but here in Portland, the Planned Parenthood has a big sign which says they are a health center.  Legally speaking, though, they are not classified as a health center or a medical clinic.  This means they do not have to follow medical or health laws when performing abortions, including the most basic laws such as "all equipment must be sterilized before use" and "the patient must be informed if there is a mistake in the operation".

As someone who is concerned for women's safety, I'd like to see this situation changed.  I'm not sure how to do it, though.  Maybe we could change it, so abortions can only be performed at hospitals (which have to conform to medical safety standards).  Or maybe we could repeal Planned Parenthood's exempt status, when it comes to performing abortions.

Part of the Texas law which got overturned was the rule "all doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital".

Pro: This makes abortions safer, because it prevents non-doctors from performing abortions.
Con: This law is sketchy about the definition of the word "nearby", considering the fact that Texas is an absolutely humongous state.

I suppose this raises an interesting question.  We can all agree "safe abortions are better than unsafe abortions", but what about these places in Texas where people only have access to unsafe abortions?  Is that better or worse than having no access to abortions at all?  The people who argued for this law to be repealed say that 1/3 of Texas was affected by the law, which is a pretty sizeable portion.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween

On Halloween, my family keeps track of all the costumes that kids are wearing.  Here are all the costumes I saw:
  • Wolf
  • Lion
  • Monkey
  • Gladiator
  • Tweedledee and Tweedledum
  • Pirate
  • Minion from Despicable Me
  • Cowboy
I guess that means the most popular costume of the year is an animal costume.