Friday, September 14, 2018

It's Been Five Months . . . /// The Quote Quota, Part 2

Remember that post I made about five months ago? You know, the one on March 23rd? Well, I figured it was high-time to write up another one in the series that I'm now calling The Quote Quota. Plus, I didn't have any other ideas, so . . . yeah. Hope you don't mind.

Commencing quote extraction!

Kai: "Ugh, Zane. How much further is it to the top?"
Zane: "Thar be a long way. At least a hundred thousand steps up."
Kai: "A hundred thousand?! Good thing I'm not counting."
Jay: "267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 2--oh, look! A little goat!"
*creature makes noise*
Kai: "That's not a goat. Don't you remember? We rode one of those."
Jay: "It's got horns. It's a goat."
Kai: "Even giraffes have horns. And that's not a goat; it's a yak."
Jay: "A yak? No way! Maybe it's a cow."
Kai: "I'm about to have a cow."
Zane: "Arr, look! Tracks!"
Kai: "Maybe another yak?"
Jay: "Or a cow!"
-"Peak-a-Boo" from Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu

Fawful: "Fawful sings a song of bad! The Mushroom Kingdom is so sad! All of it is for Fawful! And the . . . rhyme . . . with that!"
-Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Sam: *rapidly tapping spacebar* "Believe in me! BELIEVE IN ME!"
-from TheGameSalmon's third Mario: The Music Box video


Boromir: "I would've followed you, my brother . . . my captain . . . my king."
-The Fellowship of the Ring

Ken: "Watch me, Barbie! Watch me!" *goes down slide and gets stuck at the bottom*
-"Perf Pool Party" from Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse

Preston: "Pfff!"
-basically every time Preston and I talk

Papyrus: "What? How's this puzzle work? Ummm . . . Whoops, I think it's Undyne's turn to talk!!!"
Undyne: "What!? No, I HATE puzzles! Papyrus, you do it!"
Papyrus: "Well, Alphys made this puzzle, right? You should just call her and say in a hot voice, 'Alphys . . . I need help with a (audible wink) puzzle . . .'"
Undyne: "Oh my [GOSH]! No! Shut up!!!"
Papyrus: "Fine!!! Give me her number!!! I'll do the hot voice!!!"
Undyne: "NO!!!! That's even worse!!!"
*call ends; call again*
Papyrus: "(Audible wink) . . . Wait, whose number is this???"
-phone call with Papyrus and Undyne in Undertale

Mr. Hat: "Argh! My precious hats! That's a lovely helmet, so lovely, so lovely!"
Shovel Knight: "I must inquire, sir, about your curious collection."
Mr. Hat: "Travel the land far and wide, I do--searching, learning, teaching, collecting! All shapes! All sizes! Hats! Each one I wear grants me a new power, and your hat looks powerful indeed!"
Shovel Knight: "Intriguing, but . . . I am rather attached to my helmet."
Mr. Hat: "Yes, yes . . . about that . . . heh heh heh!" *gets ready for battle*
-conversation before Mr. Hat fight in Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope


Me: "Anything is something that is nothing in particular."
-spontaneous wisdom from me

Dan: "Eepa! I don't what that means, but I think it means I'm in danger."
-from DanTDM's fifth Little Nightmares video

"The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"
-from "Ode to the West Wind" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Tell the world I know that my mind is made
It's a hard show, but I'm not afraid
Though I won't be missed, I would say it's time
For a different twist in the storyline."
-from "Bird with a Broken Wing" by Owl City

Harry: "And fortunately, we have someone who can foresee future events."
H.R.: *slurring his words* "Before they happen."
-"Attack on Central City" from The Flash

Jack: "There's two types of people in the world: those who like pineapple on pizza, and those who are wrong."
-from Jacksepticeye's PAX East 2017 panel

The Snatcher: "Wait up, kid. Remember how the old contractor had his head pop off? That wasn't a coincidence. It popped off the moment he stopped being useful to me. And guess who else just became obsolete? That's right. You. Now that that possessed outhouse isn't bothering me anymore, and all those contracts of yours are tidied away . . . I don't need you around. Besides, you didn't think I was gonna let you keep all these Time Pieces, did you. They fell in my forest, kid! They belong to ME." *starts going into battle mode* "Time you saw what I'm really capable of, kid. Say goodbye to that little head of yours!"
-A Hat in Time


Teacher: "Hello, and welcome to Standing Up School."
*student does faceplant*
Teacher: "Aaand you fail."
-from TomSka's asdfmovie6

Ryan: "Super easy, barely an inconvenience."
-all of Ryan George's Pitch Meeting videos

*Brickgirl walks past, wearing her costume*
*Brickman and Soccer stare*
Gideon: *nearby* "You know what's in the air? Lo--"
*Brickgirl glares at him*
Gideon: "Um, lasagna. Lasagna is in the air. I think I can smell the cheese. Far down this hall, I believe. Away. From Brickgirl." *walks away*
*Brickgirl goes away*
*moment of silence*
Soccer: "I wonder if he knew we were staring at that spider on the wall."
Brickman: *shrugs* "Dunno."
*another moment of silence*
Soccer: "Did Brickgirl walk by?"
Brickman: *shrugs again* "Maybe. I'm not sure. I was entranced with the spider."
Soccer: "Yeah, I know. Notice how it has eight legs."
Brickman: *facepalms*
-from my LMBs story Brickman's Businesses: A Sitcom

Batman: "Black. All important movies start with a black screen. And music. Edgy, scary music that would make a parent or studio executive nervous."
-The LEGO Batman Movie

Tony Stark: "Dude. You're embarrassing me in front of the wizards."
-Avengers: Infinity War

God: "Go on now, and walk the entire expanse of the land, for you need to see what I am giving you!"
-Genesis 13:17, The Voice

And thus concludes our second Quote Quota post! Were there enough for your liking? Any you'll be saying from now on? Want another one of these five months in the future? (That's February of 2019, for your information.)

Monday, September 10, 2018

Chiptune Greatness /// Music Monday #32

Are you tired of your current music selection? Bored of hearing the same song on repeat for the last hour? Then you're in the right place, because today is Music Monday! Where we give you a new earworm to listen to for the next hour.

Today's selection is . . .

"Strike the Earth! (Plains of Passage)" from Shovel Knight
Composed by Jake Kaufman

So I recently started playing Shovel Knight, a fun throwback to the retro games of old. It currently has three campaigns, which are like games within the game, and is coming out with a fourth, plus a Smash Bros.-like title. I have to say, it's amazing. I haven't done much in the first campaign, Shovel of Hope, but it's shaping up to be one of my favorite Steam games so far.

The plot of it so far is that Shovel Knight used to explore with his love, Shield Knight. Nothing could stop this dynamic duo! Until one day, when they adventured into the Tower of Fate, and Shield Knight touched an amulet that was cursed. Shovel Knight awoke outside, with his companion nowhere to be found.

Brokenhearted, he turned to a life of solitude and labor. But when the Enchantress and her fierce Order of No Quarter rise up, and the Tower of Fate's protective seal opens once again, Shovel Knight knows he must rise up to the challenge and save both his love and his land.

And thus, you enter the Plains of Passage, with this amazing tune playing in the background. It's so catchy and somehow encompasses both a fun tone and a hint of a grand quest in the making. Honestly, I think this is chiptune done right. I listened to part of this soundtrack a while back and thought it was decent enough. I just couldn't really recognize one track from the other. But I randomly listened to this again not long ago and absolutely fell in love with it.

As I've played more of the game, I have enjoyed and appreciated the other songs, but this one has always stuck out to me as one of the most iconic. I figured I'd share it with you guys, because you may end up loving the soundtrack too, or even the game. Both are more than worth their cost.

So what'd you think? Does this type of music interest or disinterest you? Have you ever played Shovel Knight before? If you haven't, would you consider doing so after reading a little about it?

Friday, September 07, 2018

Monthly HapPENings: August

Well, well, well. We are officially two-thirds of the way through the year. Autumn is coming.

For life, a lot of it was same old, same old: working, helping out at home, nothing terribly exciting. Some of the highlights, however, involved going out with Chloe and Kaitlyn for some Friday afternoon food. The first time, we biked to a food truck in the park that turned out to be closed. So we headed across town to a local café; however, it was super warm that day, and Kaitlyn was not feeling well by the time we got there. But it was fun to eat fries and drink milkshakes together. It almost felt like something friends would do in a book or movie.

The second time was cooler (but still warm). We took a very scenic route to get to the same café, where we once again had fries and milkshakes. The third time was even nicer temperature-wise, and we got cold drinks as one last "hoorah" for the summer. Kaitlyn and I also had gone for a walk by ourselves earlier in August to buy drinks. It's definitely something we'd like to continue over the upcoming months.

Bookish HapPENings

Well, I didn't finish any books this month. It's taken a while for me to fully get into the one I'm reading right now, and for some reason, I only read it on the trips to church and back. Here's to hoping September will be at least a little better!

HapPENings on the Screen


I saw the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger, and honestly, I have no idea why it bombed in the box office and was hated by so many. This was a fantastic movie! It had spot-on humor, excellent action sequences, a terrific cast, a phenomenal score . . . Sure, it's not really a movie that you go into expecting you'll learn something from it, but that doesn't mean it's bad. I'm very tempted to do a full review on this seriously underrated film. It deserves more than just a paragraph here.


Infinity War was just as good on the second viewing as it was on the first. If you didn't like this film, you have to realize the fourth Avengers movie was originally going to be called Infinity War, Part 2. This movie only told half the plot. Hold on to your full judgement until you've seen both and get a picture of the immense story the Russo brothers are telling us. I, for one, am very curious to see how this all goes down.


After finally finishing Possession, Kaitlyn, Chloe, and I have started watching S6, Skybound. And man, had I forgotten what a killer opening it was! It does a great job of setting up the rest of the season while establishing Nadakhan as a vicious and manipulative foe. Plus, it never hurts to have Jay as the central character.

Gah, the first season is getting so good! You can always tell when you're getting close to the end of a season in The Flash, because everything ramps up like crazy. I'm remembering why I love this show and its characters so much. Honestly, a lot of writers could take notes on how to properly set up characters and make us viewers fall in love with them. Not to mention the interesting plot and villains!

Gaming HapPENings

If you say that video games can't be relaxing, you have not played any Animal Crossing title. New Leaf remains my favorite in the series. Its charm is undeniable. You get to live the life of a mayor, developing your town with public works projects and ordinances. There are events to attend, villagers to talk to, a main street to peruse . . . I can't do this game justice with my simple words. You have to experience it for yourself to fully grasp the joy of Animal Crossing.

I haven't done a whole lot of gaming other than playing New Leaf, so this section is going to be shorter than it sometimes is.

Writerly HapPENings

Believe it or not, I actually wrote last month! While it was only 649 words, what matters is that I hadn't recorded any writing time since December of last year, which is insane. And while the goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2018 dictate that I write The Tournament of Convicts first, I wanted to work on something I was truly passionate about, rather than a project I want to complete for the sake of completion. Novelizing Darkened Slumber has its challenges, but it'll be fun. I'm hoping that September's word count will be much, much higher.

That concludes today's post! How was your August? What did you read, watch, play, or write? Due to these posts getting no comments lately, I tried to make this one shorter. Do you approve?

Friday, August 31, 2018

The End is Nigh /// Humble Beginnings, Part 13

Welcome back to everyone's favorite show on the internet, where we mock authors and their horrible stories, because they deserve it even if they don't think so. It's the Humble Beginnings show!


Today, we have a fan-favorite: Josiah Dyck with his unnamed first story in the Portal Chronicles trilogy. (What a guy! He can't even name his own projects.) When we last left off, the convenient Chosen Ones were running off with their tails between their legs because they got their butts whooped by the enemy situated in the Rachendax. Warren has been captured by Leviathan, and the good guys have suffered heavy losses in the battle, due to their bomb being used against them. Let's see what's happening today!

Mark, David, and Taylor rode in silence; it was like they were taking time to respect the courage the army of rebels and Followers had shown.
Eventually, they arrived at the human fort and summed up what happened to those there. Then they boarded the ship that was bound for Zracs. As they were, Taylor said, "General Clive never talks about Detrius, so what do you think caused him to?"
"Tumultous events such as these can prod someone towards a good type of soul questioning," David responded.

Oh, look, it's nothing new. We're getting more impassive showing with no search into what the characters are actually feeling right now after witnessing such a slaughter, and David is offering some religious statements that just don't sound right. How typical of younger me. And it's tumultuous, by the way.

They made their way to the sterncastle, where the quartermaster gave orders for the launch to the crew. Captain Isaac, a wiry young man, greeted them warmly. "Welcome aboard the Thunder Cannon. I hope for your sakes that the trip isn't as treacherous as it normally is."
He showed them his cube map of Erador. "See, Adiryulle, Ghrumet, and Kalansif form half the world, while Zracs, Nirackel, and Darava are the other side. The last three are set in the Carnert Ocean, translating to the misty ocean. Because of the temperature, Zracs has the thickest mist. And unlike the Ocean of Raffas, the Carnert is anything but peaceful. Tales and legends buzz about, describing horrendous sea creatures that smash ships."

Hey, guess what? It's another minor character pulled from a generic template that we don't care about. Man, was I good at those back in the day. I was also good at info-dumping stuff that the main characters should already know since they took a geography class.

I'm going to skip over the next two and a half pages, because it's basically a sermon in the middle of the story. While I agree with the points I made, it's not necessary to jam that kind of teaching in a novel. It bogs down the pace, has the potential to bore the reader, and comes off as really inorganic. My advice for you folks reading--er, watching this show is to avoid that same mistake.

Smits stood near Juinq's harbor, eyeing the rebel ships that were docking. For some reason the air felt more empty, more solemn, more . . . mournful. "Why?" he wondered.
Clive led the knights off the vessels of war. His normally smiling face was slumped with despair. Exhaustion showed itself in the entire group. Clive stopped by Smits. "Half."
Smits was confused, so he asked, "What do you mean?" 
"You were about to ask me how it went, and I told you we lost half our men," explained Clive wearily. "Plus, Warren got captured by Leviathan, who also killed Ethan."

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm going to point out some repeat offenders: use of a term like "vessels of war" instead of saying something like warships; poor description of emotions, which leads to no empathy from the reader; attempted creativity with speaker tags (and potential overuse of adverbs); and reminding us of a character who was barely present and whom we'll never miss.

A gasp escaped Smits's lips. He put a hand on Clive. "I'm sorry, general. I'm sorry for all of us. Did the Chosen Ones, excluding Warren, leave for Zracs?"
"Yeah. We should've listened to you and the others. Maybe we could have avoided the carnage at the Rachendax. I'll give you the whole story later." As the depressed men left, Clive said, "I think us rebels need to rethink Detrius."
Smits swivelled back towards the ocean, gazing far out in the distance for any sign of the missing soldier. "Oh Warren," cried Smits, "where has Leviathan hidden you?"

A simple gasp is such an unemotive response to the news that 10,000 men died in combat. And the rebels need to rethink their whole way of life, not to mention their moral compass. Also, does Smits expect to see Warren out from where he's standing? Because that's not going to happen . . . or is it?

Warren awoke with a start. Had someone callen his name? He shook his head. "Must've been under the sun too long," he thought. He looked at his surroundings. He was in a small room with rock for three walls and metal bars as the fourth. There was a small cot, a table, and a chair. "Am I in a cell?" he asked himself.

Do recall that it's been previously mentioned that the rebels were building a BRICKING CASTLE for Leviathan. That's actually where Warren is being kept right now, which is why he heard his name being "callen." I have to ask myself, why do I always specify when a character is thinking with a speaker tag? It really isn't necessary. It also seems pretty obvious that he's in a cell based off the horrible description. He should know that.

Someone approached from down the corridor. Warren peered out and grew concerned. It was an ox that was eight feet high. Its hide was a brownish-black hue, and it appeared to be very muscular with wickedly sharp horns. And its eyes were like the ones for the statue of Lurkum, only yellow. Behemoth had arrived.

Can we all just appreciate that Warren "grew concerned"? How in the actual heck was I so bad at writing emotions? Gah, it's so frustrating. And I need to stop commenting about poor descriptions at this point, because I'll just be saying the same thing over and over again.

The massive ox stooped down to the jail. "So you are one of the chosen, eh?" Behemoth growled. "Don't look so special to me." He guffawed.
Warren was scared stiff. Never before had there been so much evil concentrated in one place close to him. "What's the matter? Leviathan cut your tongue?" Behemoth laughed again. "Well, I just come by to wish you a hopeless stay here. Enjoy it while it lasts, which won't be very long." He continued on his way, chuckling evilly.

. . . Seems I also need to stop talking about my poor conveyance of emotions. Now let's give Behemoth the "most cliché villain of this post" award.

"So, what's the story on the wraithclaw tribe?" David queried. "Why did we single them out as potential allies?"
"It started pretty soon after Lucas and Bart became Lurkum's elite generals," began Isaac. "A wraithclaw overheard the prince of evil discussing his plans of demoting the tribe to be workers with Leviathan and Behemoth. Now, at the time, the creatures were, in a sense, free, and to bring a certain group down to such a level was practically enslavement to the wraithclaws. So, since they could survive any temperature, the race packed up and left for Zracs, a vast, empty, ice-filled land. Troops were sent to get them back, but none survived the chilly weather.
"The aftermath of the situation was Lurkum setting up mini-kingdoms on the continents, with loyal kings ruling. The leaders took orders from the Dastardly Duo, who got their's from Lurkum. The arabons didn't take part in the deal, as they are the common soldiers.
"And the reason we're attempting a treaty is because it is prophesied. Remember what Chief Richard quoted at the war meeting?"
David nodded once.
"Well, we have, in the past, attempted to create a pact with the wraithclaws, because the Chosen Ones must do so. Of course, it never worked, since those who went were not actually the chosen. But now that we know that you guys are, this kind of a test, for both you and the tribe."
"That's right, the prophecy said we had to pass the 'wanting heart's test,' didn't it?" 
"Correct. It also says that those who aren't the Chosen Ones 'will harden the race.' So all this time we've been making it harder for you."

I'm not going to deny that the history/lore that's being presented is interesting, because it is. But I feel like it could be said in a more creative way. Plus, shouldn't David know this stuff? He took a history class, did he not? Just saying. This is obviously for the reader's benefit, not his.

There was a gurgling roar, and a sea serpent arose from the waters. It was the hue of a shiny, pale white and had eyes fully washed with purple. It reminded David of a Chinese dragon, only instead of limbs there were huge webbed fins.
It stretched its neck towards the lookout until their heads were mere yards apart. The serpent huffed, and a small blast of blue energy struck the man, who screamed horridly and toppled off his perch. Little sparks danced around his fallen body. 
"It breathes orbs of lightning? Definitely one of the drucoes' pets," Isaac muttered.

What another horrible reaction to death. I mean, it isn't even really a reaction. Isaac just glossed over the fact that one of his crewmen was just brutally killed.

Isaac went to the bell and rang it a few times. Men streamed out of the lower decks and took positions at the ballistas and catapults. At a yell from the quartermaster, ballistas on the upper layers of the ship fired. Some missed, but most hit their quarry, igniting in a small burst of flame. Now that the monster was lit up, knights in control of the catapults launched them, rocks slamming into the serpent. It trumpeted and dove under the waves, splashing an icy cold one over the main deck and drenching the defenders.

I was gonna point out that the knights don't need the serpent to be lit up, until I remember that they are currently in a thick fog. Instead, I'll mention the proper pluralization of ballista is ballistae. Carry on, gentlemen.

Suddenly, the water glowed with electricity, and the serpent lifted its head out. It began to ram the Thunder Cannon, either attempting to tip it or jolt the crew off, where the ocean sizzled.

For some reason, I really like the simple word picture of the ocean sizzling. At least younger me did a few things right.

 "Archers, your turn!" the quartermaster bellowed. The archers appeared, quickly sizing the situation and nocking their bows. Mark, who was among them, knew they were going to aim at the creature's eyeballs. It noticed the new group and raised its head higher, curious. Unfortunately, for the serpent, curiousity killed the cat. Or, in this case, blinded it. Arrows pierced both of its eyes, and purple liquid leaked out of the wounds. Slowly, they turned white, obviously meaning the beast was without eyesight.

Notice how the POV of this scene was originally David, then switched to a floating camera attached to no one, then transferred to Mark. Bad technique, I say. Curiosity, by the way. Not curiousity.

It howled and hammered its cranium onto the warship, knocking over a mast. Several jets of lightning zapped from the neck. Mark launched back in time, but a number of archers were hit. One near Mark, whose skin was whiter from the coolness, turned and then gray as he was fried from the inside out. He collapsed and broke into ashy pieces.

Pleasant. But I'm pretty sure this is the last gory thing we're going to encounter in our mocking of this story.

Mark stared in horror, not seeing the serpent rearing up and biting at the sea vessel. He would've become monster chow had a female archer not pulled him away.
The Canadian shook off his daze and looked at his rescuer. "Michelle! I hadn't seen you aboard before. How come?"
"I was in the female's quarters." She smiled. "You owe me one."
Mark grinned as well. "I guess being saved by a girl beats not being saved at all. If Warren was here, he'd say something like, 'But you got saved by a pretty girl; that's even better.'"
"Hey, we kind of have to focus on that oversized electric eel over there," David called to the pair. Mark saluted and readied his bow.

While I appreciate the banter, I can't ignore that people were literally fried to death right before their eyes, and they're acting all nonchalant. Mark was only horrified for a few seconds. *smacks all my characters upside the heads* What'sa matta wich ya?

Now the serpent was slapping the boat with its fins, trying to destroy its prey. "I've had enough," Isaac snapped. "Time to unleash the thunder cannon." He went to a big cannon on the sterncastle, loaded it, lined it at the right angle, then shouted, "Cover your ears!" He lit the explosive powder before following his own advice.
There was a second's pause, and the cannon roared like thunder. "Hence the name," thought David. A metal ball zoomed at the creature and broke upon its skull. It swayed with unconsciousness and pain, unable to detect what hit it.

If the thunder cannon is so effective, WHY DID ISAAC NOT USE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE?! It'd be over in seconds, with no one dead. Honestly, I can't be the only who sees the lack of logic these people possess. And why would you name the ship after the weapon? Couldn't that get confusing as to which you're referring to?

Isaac grabbed the next cannonball and coated it with grease before putting it in the cannon. Another thunderclap, and the fiery ammunition careened into the target. The sea monster wailed as a ferocious burn spread across a portion of the milky skin.
"Yes! I knew the explosion of the powder would work," Isaac said to himself.

To quote Lizzy from the Cars movie, "You keep talking to yourself, people'll think you're crazy."

The beast gave a scratchy bellow, and the waves boiled harder. "I that doesn't stop soon, the bottom of the ship will melt," warned the helmsman.
The serpent began to suck in to deliver the death blow. David, in desperation, threw a knife, hoping to land the perfect hit, just as Mark and Michelle fired their bows.
Lightning flashed from the assailant as it heaved a giant orb. If it struck the warship, it would be the end. All of a sudden, it left its original course and swirled around the three weapons flying at the monstrosity, attracted to the metal of the dagger and the arrowheads.

Okay, hold up, hold up. You're telling me that one dagger and two arrows had enough metal to deter this giant electric orb from hitting the ship, which probably had more metal with the anchor and thunder cannon and whatnot? And how close is this serpent, anyway? I imagined it being pretty close if it's bashing its head against the deck. If that's the case, wouldn't the orb just instantly hit the ship and it'd be game over for the heroes? I know, suspension of belief, but that's no excuse for lazy, non-scientific writing.

The strengthened blast was absorbed by the creature's head. There was sharp crackling, and it swayed violently as it overheated. Then it froze, and its cranium rocketed off the rest of its body. Black, goopy blood splashed the deck.
"Well," David piped up, "I guess it's too late to ask for my favorite knife back."
The crew laughed, but stopped when the sea serpent's head thumped onto the water vessel. David eyed it and said, "You know what, maybe I should just keep that as a trophey instead. I don't want to carve it just to get my--"

Welp. Evidently I lied, by accident. The death by electric frying was not the last gory event. (Dude, why on earth did you add an e to trophy? You're a horrible speller.)

Michelle walked over to him, pulled up her sleeves, and reached into a hole in the scales. Feeling around, she retrieved the knife, along with a sticky mass of innards.
"--blade back," David finished. "If your hand wasn't covered in that filth, I would kiss you. Thank you very much, m'lady."
"You're welcome, noble sir," laughed Michelle.

Who would've ever thought that the girl who daintily picks flowers and giggles at boys would stick her hand straight into a dead monster's head to retrieve a knife? I sure wouldn't have! A little advice for you, David: you can still kiss her. It just can't be on the hand, lest you want to pick up some horrible disease on your mouth or something.

Mark huffed. "C'mon, Dave, anyone could've done that. Watch and learn." He rolled up one sleeve and placed his arm in the wound.
"Hey, I'm stuck. Somebody help, before my limp burns or something," panicked Mark.

Mark, remember that time when you tried to show that you were as muscular as Warren, when you really weren't? You should've learned from that. Don't show off unless you're actually prepared to deliver the goods.

David hefted the serpent's remainder and asked, "Why would it burn?"
"I don't know, there could be an acid inside," the Canadian argued as he attempted to jerk out. Finally, he was able to twist his army from the injury with a pop.
Peals of merriment resounded across the boat. "You weren't stuck," Isaac said, pointing at Mark's hand. "You were just holding onto that beastie's brain."
"I knew that. Wait, its brain?! Yuck!" Mark tossed it away with a vivid expression.

What shall we call this scene? Comical? Disgusting? Over-the-top? Illogical? I mean, how do you not know you're holding on to a brain? Most likely all of the above.

The quartermaster caught it quickly. "Thanks, Mark. I'll use this for my favorite dish--pickled brains. Did you want me to kiss your hand?"
The face of Mark was taut with feat at the possible prospect of eating the gross recipe. He doubled over and vomited near the man. The quartermaster moved away and replied, "Or you could almost puke on me. That works too."

I don't think anyone in the history of anything would eat pickled brains . . . right? *Googles for a minute and decides not to delve too deeply* I feel like the quartermaster and I share the same sense of humor. Whether that's a good thing or not is up to you. Also, "the face of Mark" is the greatest phrase of our time.

David sauntered to his friend, saying, "Watch and learn, huh? At least you taught me how to hurl."
"Har dee har har," Mark said, shoving David aside.
Isaac shook his head in amusement. "Okay, boys. It's time to put on your winter gear. And Mark, you might want to clean yourself first."

The fact that Isaac called them boys is actually pretty funny. I mean, they are acting a bit like schoolyard children right now, are they not?

They all went down, save the helmsman, and put on the warm clothes. There were heavy light gray fur coats and pants, as well as boots line with some kind of soft insulation. Also, things like ski masks were worn under the parka hood. Scabbards were attached to the torso like quivers.

Not gonna lie, these clothes actually sound super comfy. I'd totally be down for wearing this in winter. Though why "things like ski masks" and not just straight-up ski masks?

Isaac brought the helmsman's outfit with him and took the wheel while he put it on. The troops lined the deck as they waited to arrive at Zracs.
Once the steersman was finished, Isaac went to the front of the group and said loudly, "Let us pray. Detrius, thank You for taking us this far and reassuring us that You won't let us down. Help the Chosen Ones soften the hearts of the wraithclaw. May they join our ranks, and help us not to treat them wrongly. Thank You that Your powerful hand is upon us, and thank You that we re more than conquerors through You. In Your precious name, amen. Revier abounds!"
"And He is with us!" the soldiers yelled confidently.
Wham! One of the hatches to the lower levels slammed open and a knight emerged from the bowels. "The ship, she's . . ." he panted. "She's being run aground."

Let's comment on a few things here before we wrap up. Firstly, if Zracs is cold, wouldn't they have had to don their snow gear before they got so close? Secondly, Isaac, you called them wraithclaws before, and now they're wraithclaw. Make up your mind! Thirdly, I still love the whole "Revier abounds" mantra or chant that they do. Fourthly, while I have no issues with you guys praying before you do something dangerous, YOU'RE LEAVING THE SHIP VIRTUALLY UNATTENDED! Do you not feel or hear the ship scraping the ground? Where is your lookout to see how close you are to land? Get your act together!

That's all for today's show, folks! Tune in next month for the last episode of Humble Beginnings! Yes, I said last episode. Stop crying. You're making everyone feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Monday, August 27, 2018

"So Soft, So Soothing" /// Music Monday #31

Wow, we've actually done over 30 of these in the last year? Crazy, man! How am I supposed to keep making the intro interesting without repeating myself?

I said last time that I was most likely going to do "Black" from The LEGO Batman Movie as today's pick. But then I heard this and knew I just had to share it with you.

"Hymn to the Stars" from Starbound
Composed by Curtis Schweitzer

I don't know about you, but if I ever go to space, I want this music playing in the background. It's so relaxing. There's something about it that makes you want to close your eyes and just fall asleep. Which I'm definitely not doing right now . . . u88ihyuuuj0onh

Whoops! I accidentally smacked the keyboard with my forehead. (It actually wasn't accidental; it was totally on purpose. I literally lifted my laptop and gently banged my head against the keyboard. It's supposed to be a joke, but I'm tired, so it's probably not actually funny.)

Ahem. As I was saying, the song has a very calming, serene grandeur to it. It fits the space exploration game quite well. Seriously, imagine you're touring the universe right now. Better yet, pull up some cool pictures of space right now and look at them while listening to this song. It's so perfect, isn't it? Mr. Curtis, sir, I've never listened to any of your stuff before this soundtrack, but you are a genius.

Now, because I'm tired, this post is going to be very short. But while I'm showcasing this song, I might as well mention that I've included it in a playlist I'm slowly creating, which is a compilation of relaxing music. As of when I'm writing this post, it has 33 videos in it and will definitely last you at least an hour and a half or so. If you want the link, I'll include it here.

Thanks for listening! What'd you think of the song? Did you fall asleep too and facedesk? Let me know if you listen to the playlist and what you think of it.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Happy Ending /// The Journey of Digital Pulse, Part 3

Let's take a trip back to January 5th. I had just submitted Digital Pulse, my sci-fi superhero story with a dash of mystery (or perhaps suspense), to Rooglewood for the Five Poisoned Apples contest. I was on top of the world. December of 2017 had been one of the worst months of my life, as I had struggled accepting that an online friend of mine--someone I'd adopted as a sister--cut off all contact with me. But it helped me put some very real heart and emotion into the story, and I considered it one of my best. So I waited to hear back.

Now let's fast-forward to April 13th. The Rooglewood Facebook party had happened, and I found out I was not a finalist, an honorable mention, or even a Special Unicorn. That stung quite a bit, but I hadn't received my feedback form yet. Surely that would lift my spirits. Instead, it dragged me back down into despair and doubt, as I barely got 63% of the available points. If the contest had been a test, I would've gotten a D. While I gleaned lessons from the experience, it still hurt, and I decided that I needed some space from Digital Pulse.

And thus, from the day I finished the novella (December 29th, 2017) to just recently (August 19th, 2018), I hardly wrote a word. For two-thirds of a year, I virtually gave up on writing. I set goals for myself, but they were left undone. I sunk ever deeper into the abyss of "no story progress," a place I know all too well.


Why am I only talking about this now? Well, I thought this mini-series was over, but last week Friday changed. Every journey has an end, and this is mine . . . for now, anyway. (For your information, today's post might be on the shorter side, but I hope that's okay.)

I need to explain some stuff before we get to the main point. I've mentioned my two New Zealand friends, Preston and Megan, in previous posts. Honestly, they're two of my best friends, and they've meant so much to me over the past five years. One of the things we like doing is voice chatting together.

Now, I'd sent them my three fairy tale retellings to read, but Megan is a very busy person and found it hard to get around to reading them. We eventually decided that we should read them aloud together, and man, are those fun times! The way we say certain lines, or add our own joke to the story, even going so far as to make our own memes out of things that are said, added a whole new humor to the experience.

Last Friday, we read the last half of the story, and we came to chapter 14, the most emotional--and possibly best--scene I've ever written in my life, which my friends agreed with. It captured the theme of the story, which is "love means letting go," in a wonderful way. I don't say that as an arrogant pat on my back, but simply out of my sheer awe that I was able to write something that good. (Saying that could still be interpreted as prideful, but I don't know how else to put it.)

So we finish the chapter, and I ask, "Do you guys want to hear the story about why this scene is so important to me?" They replied affirmatively, and so I told them about how a girl I considered--still consider--to be a sister to me left and took a piece of my heart with her. I had to realize that love meant letting go of her and hoping that she'd return one day. I ripped off the bandage and showed them the wound, because I trusted them.

(As a sidenote: I lost contact with them after the LEGO Message Boards closed down earlier this year, and I feared I'd never hear from them again. After my adopted sister disappeared, I'd hoped that God would turn my situation around, and later that month, Preston found me by the slimmest of chances on Google Plus. It led to us reconnecting, and telling them this whole story had me crying. It was such a moving and cathartic conversation for me.)

But anyway, after we finished reading the novella, I opened the feedback form to go over it with them and see what they agreed or disagreed with. Through this whole voice chat, I discovered a few important things:

  1. The reason why I took the critique so hard at first was because of how emotionally invested I was in it. I felt that the judge wasn't examining my story, but rather attacking my personal experience, my hurt, my pain. Like she was claiming it was all worthless. I had to realize that she didn't know the whole story, and interpreting her words in that way wasn't right.
  2. You can't please everyone. Some elements were given no written reason for why there were disliked, and others felt like personal opinion. You have to realize that if you try to make all your readers 100% happy, you will stress yourself out 100%. It's just not possible, so don't try. Do your best with what you have, because that's excellence.
  3. There are still things you can glean from unpleasant feedback. There were issues that would've been fixed in the novelized version; others came from her not catching the references to the original tale. I can now focus on these when I expand the story to make sure it's at its peak form.
  4. Surround yourself with a community of readers and writers. What I miss the most from the MBs was the instant feedback. You could post a chapter and have likes and comments by the end of the day. Being able to read my stories and discuss them with Preston and Megan brought my inspiration back and helped me see that I still have worth as a writer. Other friends, like Christine and Deb, or family members, such as Tracey, have also contributed to that.

I left the voice chat feeling so ready to write again that I began drafting my novelization of Darkened Slumber, my pseudo-feudal-Japan fantasy Sleeping Beauty retelling, on the following Sunday. Digital Pulse--and even the Rooglewood contests--and I left on a good note, something I had never expected to happen.

So yes, this post is fairly short, and it may feel out-of-the-blue. But I wanted to be open and genuine with you guys. I wanted to show you what's been taking place in the background because you might be struggling right now. You may be thinking there's no hope, and I empathize. I've said before that I feel like it's my duty to share this kind of stuff with you so that you can learn from it as well. My journey had been a dark, painful one, but I got my happy ending. God can do what we think is impossible. Trust Him. He can turn your worst situation around for good.

All you have to do is let go.

Friday, August 17, 2018

An Overdue Promise

Recall, if you will, October 7 of 2017. On that day I posted my Monthly HapPENings for September, and I made an offhanded comment to you guys:

And [my iPhone 7] takes very crisp, clear photos, something I'll be demonstrating in next week's post. #Foreshadowing

So what happened the week after I said that? I posted about The Future of a Franchise, in which I gave my thoughts on the direction of the Star Wars series. I had this afterthought to offer:

(Also, a quick sidenote: I promised to be showing off my new phone's camera for this week's post, but I worked a lot of overtime and wasn't able to finish up the post. I want it to be as good as it can be, so you'll have to wait just a little longer before you see what I have in store for you. Thanks for understanding!)

Then I had a Humble Beginnings post. Then the Bibliophile Sweater Tag. Then another thing, and another, and another, until no one even remembered my promise . . . save for me. Today, I'm finally making good on that promise.

I'm doing a photo dump of my LEGO Ninjago sets! I took 50 pictures last year for the post, and I hadn't even shot any of my buildings and whatnot. Now I have even more, so if you guys like these, I'll definitely be doing more of them. (Truth be told, I'd love to do more LEGO photo dumps whether you like it or not, so you may not have much say in the matter.)

Because 50 pics would make this post excessively long, I'll start with some of them now and do the rest later, maybe as a special post. *looks at checklist* I got the intro out of the way, which means it's time for the fun part!

Also, a little aside: Kaitlyn whipped up a lovely watermark for me, since I didn't know how to make one myself. Let's all congratulate her talent! You can thank her every time you grace your eyes upon it.

This is Jay, the Master of Lightning. Despite the sets often depicting him with a serious face, he's the group comedian. Then again, he can get pretty frowny and hysterical when he's stressed. He's often a blabbermouth, but that's part of what makes him funny. In case you're interested, his suits are the Techno Gi, Honor Robe, and Fusion Armor, respectively.

As you can see, I've got a number of variants of Kai, the Master of Fire. Naturally, he's hot-headed a lot of the time, but he cares deeply about his "brothers" and his sister. He's also shown himself to be selfless in critical moments. You can see him wearing his Destiny Robe, Deepstone Armor (top, left to right), Elemental Robe, Training Gi, and Jungle Gi (bottom, left to right).

Meet Cole, the Master of Earth. Of all the members of the team, he is one of the most dependable--like a rock, I guess you could say. He's a go-getter and the natural leader of the group. At the time of this photo, I only have two minifigures of his Techno Gi. Not sure why they gave him a katana, because he generally uses a scythe (perhaps it's because that version came with a book).

Lloyd is the prophesied Green Ninja, the savior of Ninjago and the Master of . . . Energy. Which is kinda vague, but whatever. (In the movie, they poked fun of the show in a friendly manner and said his power was "green.") Technically, knowing the Green Ninja's identity is a spoiler, but the episode that revealed that aired over six years ago, so I think it's fine if I mention it. Out of all the Ninja, Lloyd has had to mature the most, and his character arc is really interesting when you consider everything he's dealt with. Here, he's got his ZX (Zen Extreme) Armor, Elemental Robe, Techno Gi, and Honor Robe.

Zane is as cool as the ice he wields. He started off as a stiff dude who didn't understand jokes, but upon finding that he was a Nindroid, he's grown into his new role. He even found that his funny switch had been turned off, so . . . that's something. Honestly, while all of the Ninja have had great development and character arcs over the years, Zane's is special for me, due to spoilery reasons. I've got him in his Elemental Robe, Destiny Robe, and jail uniform. Because reasons. (And no, don't start getting ideas that I like him because he had an evil stint or something, since that'd be inaccurate.)

Nya is the girl power on the team. She can take on bad guys just as well as the others, and while she has a tough exterior at times, she can also be really sweet. So she doesn't fall into either pit of the female protagonist. Before she discovered that she was the Master of Water, she fought crime as Samurai X to prove her importance to the Ninja. From left to right, she's wearing her Destiny Robe, Honor Robe, the jungle variant of her Samurai X armor, and her . . . I dunno, her standard outfit before she became a Ninja.

Meet Senseis Garmadon and Wu. Garmadon wasn't always a wise sensei; in fact, he was the show's main antagonist for a while. Due to the prophecy that the Green Ninja would defeat the Dark Lord, he did everything in his power to prevent the final battle from happening. Honestly, whether he's good or bad, Garmadon will always be one of my favorite characters. Not only do I love his voice, I love his character development. I'd watch the show just for him. He's one of the best villains I've ever seen.

Wu, younger brother of Garmadon, has stayed on the path of light his whole life. He put together the Ninja as a team, and has taught them much along the way. But even wise men make mistakes, and Wu is no exception. Some of his have brought difficult trials upon the heroes. Also, he's the only person to have a 3D mouth, for some inexplicable reason.

. . . I'm sorry, I'm probably doing more info-dumping than I should. I'll try to cut back.

Here's Ronin, a man with not much moral code who'll sell out to the person with the deepest pockets. While he has helped the Ninja on a few occasions, he's also turned on them, so they never fully trust him. Again, one of my favorite characters because of his voice and his conflicting values. And c'mon, those outfits are nothing short of epic, especially the one with the rice hat.

First off, this is one of the best pictures I took, in my opinion. The focus is just really appealing to my eyes, and I'm proud that I got them to stand in dirt. It was easier than you might think!

Second, these peeps (don't ask) are Shade, the Master of Shadow, Ash, the Master of Smoke, and Skylor, whom I can't really say much about because spoilers. They came in a special set with just the three of them, and I knew I had to get them. My only complaint is that LEGO should've made more of the Elemental Masters.

The vicious, indestructible Stone Army arises. To cross them is to court death, for they are unstoppable . . . or are they? Headed by General Kozu (the tall one in the center with his Day of the Departed version on the far right), they will stop at nothing to crush the Ninja. Unless, however, you wear the Helmet of Shadows, in which case you can control the Stone Army.

This is another one of my favorite pictures. Getting them to stay standing on loose stones was a challenge, especially for the three taller guys. But my efforts paid off, and this picture is the result. That's actually at the base of my family's shed, and it looks like they're emerging from a dark tunnel.

Why be a regular ol' pirate bound to the sea when you can fly and have the advantage? These are two members of the Sky Pirates, Doubloon and Clancee. Doubloon was once a great--albeit talkative--thief who made the mistake of trying to steal from Nadakhan, the djinn who heads the crew. Using his magic, Nadakhan made Doubloon literally two-faced: he only has two different expressions. The man became the quietest member of the gang, but is still quite deadly.

Clancee, on the other hand, is quite different. He felt that he never belonged with the Serpentine, and this could be because he doesn't quite fit in with any of the five tribes. Desiring to be a pirate, he joined Nadakhan's crew. He's nervous most of the time, and gets both airsick and seasick. However, he is possibly the most honorable of the pirates. And it's hard to classify the guy as bad. He just got in with the wrong crowd.

Morro is not a ghost you want to cross. Not only does he want to curse all of Ninjago, he's got a personal vendetta against the Ninja. Led to believe by Wu that he was the Green Ninja, only to discover that he wasn't, Morro became revenge-bent and desired to claim that role for himself. While he leads many ghosts into battle, the ones depicted here are a Skreemer (who can attach to a person to make them a ghost), Ghoultar, and Attila.

I think the color design of the ghosts works really well with the old fence. If it was a bit darker outside, it might look a little spooky. Maybe. I'm also really happy with how the focus turned out.

This just an assortment of minifigures who belonged to none of the other groups I've shown. I've got a security guard for Kryptarium Prison, the place for Ninjago's most dangerous criminals; Captain Soto, a pirate brought back from the past in his jail uniform; and the autopilot robot for the D.B. Express, a massive truck used by Nya in The Tournament of Elements.

People say technology will rebel against us one day. Well, that already happened in Ninjago, when a powerful entity known as the Overlord digitally possessed tech. One of the first things he did was take over the head of technology's production, Cyrus Borg. He then created an army of evil Nindroids based off of Zane's blueprints. His second-in-command, General Cryptor (far right), was a foe to be reckoned with. While the season they were in was the shortest, it was the first to have a hero die in an emotional scene.

While the wood of the shed in the background doesn't quite fit, the metal on the ramp does. And really, this was the only place on my yard that matched the tech vibe.

Now, while I'm very knowledgeable about Ninjago, I can't tell you much about these guys. I have et to watch the season they're in, so I can only say that they're part of the Vermillion. The dude on the left is Commander Blunck, and the one on the right is Tannin.

The picture, however, is probably my favorite. I don't want to sound proud or anything, but I love the aesthetic of the scene. They're standing on one of the swings that my dad made years ago; you can tell they haven't been used much anymore by the rust on the chain. But it somehow really works with the design of the Vermillion.

Ah, the old crew . . . the ones that started it all. The Skulkin were the first enemies to appear on the show. Spearheaded by Lord Garmadon, who usurped the role of leader, they captured Nya as part of their plan to obtain the Golden Weapons of Spinjitzu. Although they failed, they've appeared in the show a couple times afterward to still prove that they aren't easy targets. From left to right, they are Chopov, Krazi, Master Samukai (former leader), Bonezai (far back), Lord Garmadon, General Kruncha, Frakjaw, and another Bonezai.

Here we have four of the Ninja on their own bikes, heading out into battle in a way that's pleasing to the eye. Well, my eyes, anyway. Of all of them, I think Jay's bike might be my favorite, but maybe that's because it looks big and tough. Kai's is probably the wimpiest.

A variation of the above shot. The neighbors must've thought I was weird to be lying down on the driveway to take pictures of LEGO. If only they knew just what they were missing!

Sorry, I don't want to come off as boastful, but I enjoy photography. So when I take pics like these, and they turn out well, it just makes me happy. That's all.

OverBorg (as in, Cyrus Borg being controlled by the Overlord) and Tannin have their own monstrous machines to do battle. They seem to have an excessive amount of blades. I hope the Ninja stay sharp. Get it? . . . I'll see myself out once this post is over.

Is it weird that this makes me want to write, for some reason? That it kinda inspires me? I think so, but I'll run with it.

I do not remember how I got Kai's bike to stay tilted. but that's pretty amazing. I don't the little knob sticking out on the side would've touched the ground. Regardless, it's wonderful. Also, I kept the back of Lloyd's bike just out of frame so I could use my finger to make him pop a wheelie.

Nya appears to be in danger, but don't worry! Her lover is coming to rescue her!

. . . That probably sounded way too strange. Let's end here.

I've got more pictures, so if you want to see more, lemme know. I also have tons of other LEGO themes that would be really fun to photograph. Did you have a favorite shot? Did I do too much info-dumping and not enough photo dumping? Are you interested in watching the show now?