Friday, April 27, 2018

The Conclusion /// Humble Beginnings, Part 9.3

And here we are, folks! This is the finale to the side-busting adventure we've had over the last week. I'm afraid I can't make a big show out of it or do a longer post, because it's Thursday night right now and I've got an early start to work tomorrow.

I will apologize in advance for two things. First off, when I split my video at one part to cut out a little clip, I only found out after I saved the whole project as a proper MP4 file that I just barely started to say my next sentence. So sorry for that awkwardness.

The second thing is that I may have made the outro a music just a tad too loud. My apologies if it is. Hopefully all of the songs are at an okay volume.

Like the other two posts, I recommend using headphones, and I'll provide a list of the songs I used:









So that's the end of it! What are your final thoughts? Was the vlog worth the wait? Now that I know how to properly make them, would you like to see more? (I'd happily make others!) If you could ever have another Humble Beginnings vlog, what would you want done differently? I know I read too fast or too incoherently at times. Whoops . . . But I hope the end result was good!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Even More Hilarity! /// Humble Beginnings, Part 9.2

All right, so here's a quick post for part 2 of my vlog! I apologize that the opening track was too loud last time. I had changed the volume for it to be quieter, but I guess I should've turned it down even more. I think I've fixed the issue for this one. I'm also sorry that that this wasn't up yesterday. By the time I went to bed (and it was later than usual when I'm working at 7am the next morning), the video still hadn't finished uploading to YouTube. *shrugs* Whatcha gonna do?

As before, I recommend using headphones to make the experience even better. I'll also link the music to my post just in case.





So what are your thoughts on this part? Was it funnier than the first? Did the music volume turn out okay this time? Did I almost kill you with laughter like I apparently did to Brianna in the other one? Remember, the finale comes out this Friday!

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Surprisingly Good Meme /// Music Monday #22

Ah, man. If only today was the 22nd! Since, you know, we would then have the 22nd Music Monday post on the 22nd. I'm weird, I know.


"We Are Number One"
Remixed by The Living Tombstone


(He again said not to reupload his video to other websites, so I'm just gonna give the link to the song, like I did with his remix of Carol of the Bells.)

So lemme give ya some backstory to this song. An Icelandic TV show called LazyTown, in October of 2014, aired its second-last episode. In it, the villain (named Robbie Rotten) creates three imperfect clones of himself. His instructions on how to be evil is sung in the song titled, "We Are Number One."

Fast-forward two years later, and a YouTuber by the name of SilvaGunner uploads his own version of the song. It became really popular--as in, the meme level of popularity--and spread like wildfire. Videos would be titled like the one I have today: "We Are Number One Remix but by The Living Tombstone."

What's really cool about this is that it's not just a meme. The actor who played the villain, named Stefan Karl Stefansson, was diagnosed with cancer. When the song became a meme, it was actually done to raise awareness about his health issues and the GoFundMe project that had been started. By the end of 2016, the $100k goal had been surpassed.

And actually, the song is really catchy. I first heard this remix before I heard the original, and while both versions are great, I love the energy behind in the remixed song. It's a definitely another earworm, so . . . if it gets stuck in your head, you're welcome.

Before I end this post, I just wanted to announce two things. First off, it's exactly two months until my first blogoversary, which is absolutely insane. I have an idea of what I'd like to do to celebrate, so I'll clue you all in soon. Secondly, I'm aiming to post part 2 of the vlog tomorrow and part 3 on Friday. The rest of the week is going to be very busy with work, so I need something easy to do to maintain my blog schedule.

Thanks for listening! Had you heard of this meme before? Did you even know about LazyTown before this? (I'd be surprised if you did.) Do you think the reasoning behind the meme of "We Are Number One" makes it better than other memes and trends that have circulated?

Friday, April 20, 2018

It's Finally Here! /// Humble Beginnings, Part 9.1

I'VE DONE IT. Hallelujah, it's finally here!

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Well, the first part, anyway. See, when I recorded my vlog, it ended up being close to an hour long. So to make it easier for you guys (and because I don't have enough time to edit the whole thing), I'm just giving you the first part today. I hope to post the other two parts over the course of this next week.

What you're seeing is my second take of the vlog. Just yesterday, I finally tried using Windows Movie Maker again to edit the videos, and lo and behold, it worked like a dream. I had tried using it for my first take, but I don't think the importing worked properly. Whatever the case, I now know how to make vlogs! So big shoutout to Andy for reminding me of WMM. Without you, dude, this vlog might not be here today.

I also wanna give a HUGE thanks to my friends, Preston and Megan, for trying their hardest to come up with a solution for making the videos work. You guys are amazing, and I appreciate all of your efforts. I'm dedicating this vlog to you!

Before you watch, there's just two more things I wanna say. First off, I recommend using headphones for listening to the video. Because of all the volume turned out, wearing headphones will just make it easier to understand me. Secondly, I used two tracks in the video, which I linked in the description. I'll do it again here as a precaution. (But don't listen to the second one before you watch. It'll just make it funnier when it shows up.)



Now that all of that stuff is out of the way, here you go. Enjoy!


What did you think of the first part? Any constructive criticism you could offer (especially about the editing) so that the next two parts could be improved? Anything you found particularly funny? Aren't I even funnier on camera? (Don't feel obligated to answer that.)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Where Do I Go from Here? /// The Journey of Digital Pulse, Part 2

When we last left my writing journey for Digital Pulse, I had sent it off to the judges. I was feeling motivated to keep writing. What started as an idea I thought cool had transformed into a subject of hate before blooming into something I actually really, really loved. I even was convinced that I'd be absolutely okay if I didn't win. It wouldn't hurt; I could just shrug it off.

The weeks ticked by. I was so busy with other things that I didn't really give much headspace for the announcement of the contest winners. But then the date drew nearer, and I found out that there was a Facebook party on March 31st, where members of the Rooglewood group could get the announcement a couple days ahead of time. Plus, they were announcing not just the winners, but a bunch of honorable mentions, finalists, and "Special Unicorns"--stories that got perfect scores from the judges even if they didn't win. My hopes lifted. Surely Digital Pulse would be in there at some point.

So I decided to join in the festivities, especially since Five Poisoned Apples is the last collection of fairy tale retellings. I even made a comment before the announcements that even if I wasn't in any category, my heart would be content. Looking back now, I wonder if I was only kidding myself.

The celebration began.

The honorable mentions came and went.

My name wasn't there.

Then the finalists were revealed.

My name wasn't there, and my heart was sinking.

The Special Unicorns were unveiled, along with specially-made book covers.

My name still wasn't there.

At that point, I knew: who won didn't make a lick of difference to me. Because I knew I had lost. My story, which I considered the best thing I'd ever penned in all of my writing days, was nowhere to be found. I'd begun that evening joking around and feeling good; I finished it by joking around to keep up the fa├žade that everything was fine. Inwardly, I felt crushed.

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The feeling didn't last long. After all, I had feedback coming! I hoped the judge would have a lot of good things to say about it. I had put my heart and soul into it, going so far as to weaving in a personal theme that brought me to tears. I'd been chatting with a friend of mine about it, and I told him that it takes time and maturity to enjoy constructive criticism. Hindsight seems to point out I lacked both.

On Tuesday, April 3rd, as I left work, I noticed I'd gotten my feedback. I drove home eager to open the email and see what the judge had to say about Digital Pulse. Well, because they were doing "proper" feedback forms this time around, they scored you on several categories. Your story could get a maximum score of 60 points.

I got a whopping 38 out of 60.

And while she did mention some good stuff about my opening, pacing, and originality, she seemed to gloss over that. Instead, she hammered down hard on the other aspects: plot, climactic sequence, characterization, dialogue, world-building/setting, writing style, command of the language, use of Snow White themes, and likability. On a scale of 1 to 5, most categories got 3; characterization and dialogue both got a 2.

You wouldn't believe how devastated I was. My self-esteem as a writer took a massive blow. I felt crippled, paralyzed, frozen in grief. I had anticipated this? If I had wanted to tear apart my own story, I could've paid myself to do that!

As I descended deeper into a vortex of blazing emotions, I didn't know what to do. One of my initial reactions was to delay my Monthly HapPENings post by a week and post this instead. Good thing I hadn't, otherwise you would've all been subjected to something much more raw.

I was told things were going to be okay, I was still a good writer, this didn't define me, and so forth. But those words fell on deaf ears. I didn't know how I could see the good in this situation. Perhaps that sounds a little overdramatic, but it's what I honestly felt.

The next day, I decided to take a risk and make a brief post about it on the Facebook group. I hate to say things like that, because it looks like I'm trying to garner pity. But when one of my top two love languages is words, and I just got my story seemingly ripped to shreds through words, I just need to . . . I dunno. Be encouraged, I suppose.

The response was better than I expected. I got a lot of support from the others. It felt good to know I wasn't the only person who got a lower score. But the comment that encouraged me the most was this one:


Considering that the only time I'd really spoken to Deb was on her blog a number of years back to encourage her, I found it interesting that she came at my time of need to return the favor. This comment, along with the others, helped me begin to move past my grief and heal. Can I say that I don't still hurt when I look at that feedback form? No, of course. It's going to take a while. The writer in me is still recovering.

I've also asked myself where I go from here. I had originally planned on novelizing Darkened Slumber as my next big project, but now . . . now I'm conflicted. What I do know is that it'll be a while before Digital Pulse and I see each other again. It's not like I'm back to hating the story. We just need . . . some space, I guess.

So what was the point in all this, in me sharing my less-than-amazing conclusion to the Rooglewood contests? As I did with A Flaw Most Fatal, there's a lesson to be shared from my troubles. I mean, isn't that our responsibility? I think one way God turns bad situations and occurrences in our life into something good and beautiful is by having us share what we've learned from it with others, to help them improve.

What I gleaned from this emotional, turbulent finale is that my timing isn't God's timing. As the perfect Father, He knows what's best. Let's pretend that you're playing piano, and you aim to make it big. Finally, you get your opportunity. This could be your moment!

But your dad knows you could do even better, or that there will be more favorable chances in the future. So he suggests you get a private instructor to give you some constructive criticism. You agree, confident that you'll nail it.

After you've finished playing, you get the feedback--and you're devastated. You thought you were so good at your gift, but the instructor thinks you need more time to practice. You run to your dad, tears flowing. It hurts. It hurts to seemingly be told that what you put so much time and effort was all for naught. He comforts you and encourages you. And once you're ready to hear it, he tells you that he believes you can do even better. There will be greater opportunities in the future. You trust him, so what do you do? You don't give up, and you continue to practice.

I realized that me getting no recognition in the contest is not a matter of me being lousy at writing or God saying no. Quite the opposite, I think. God wants me to see just how good I could do, then say, "You can do better! I believe in you; I know you can. I gave you those gifts and talents." It's Him saying, "Yes, but not now. Your time will come. And when it does, you'll go farther than you ever thought possible."

And so I believe my Father's words, and I grasp that hope, for it is all I have.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Oh, the Nostalgia! /// Music Monday #21

Another Monday, another music . . . piece. Song. Thing. It was supposed to be a parody of, "Another day, another dollar," okay? Cut me some slack!


Now, I know I've posted a lot of video game music this year so far, and I wasn't planning to today. Then I listened to a certain song while I was doing dishes, and it brought back so many good memories that I have to share it with you.

"The Grand Finale" from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Composed by Yoko Shimomura


If you've never heard of the Mario & Luigi franchise, you're missing out. They are humorous (and sometimes darker) RPGs featuring the bros facing off against out-of-this-world threats--and in one game, that is literally what happens.

Bowser's Inside Story was my first forage into these games. At first, because of the title, I assumed this game would give Bowser's backstory, but I don't think that's something we'll ever get. Rather, it's about Mario and Co. being sucked inside Bowser's body. This gives you a chance to play as the Koopa King himself in this title. I could go on and on, not just about this game, but the entire series. Instead, I will focus on the song itself.

You've reached the end, and it's time for Bowser to face the foe without and the bros to face the foe within. You might expect some powerfully epic song, but what we get is something else. Something a bit . . . grander. There is an urgency to it, as the Mushroom Kingdom lingers on the brink of destruction. You are the only hope of preventing overwhelming evil from enshrouding the entire land. But wait . . . is there another emotion tucked away in this song? Could it be . . .

Sorrow?

I hadn't even realized this until someone asked why it sounded emotional in the video's comments. One person's answer caught my attention. To paraphrase (while doing my best to avoid spoilers, though this game has been out for nine years now), Bowser has lost everything in this game, thanks to the dastardly schemes of the conniving Fawful. And while the King of Awesome may not have revealed his backstory, he has shown more of his character, something virtually none of the Mario games go into. Part of that is his unwillingness to be walked over, especially by his measly Beanish foe.

And so he goes forth to reclaim that which has been taken from him, and also save the whole kingdom. After all, if someone's gonna rule, it'd better be him, right? So perhaps "sorrow" isn't the right word for it. Maybe it's . . .

Determination.

Oh wait, wrong game.

Anyway, like I said, I could blabber about these games a lot. I'll spare you today, but maybe I'll post more about the series in the future . . .? (Man, my list of posts that I wanna make is absolutely massive.) But I hope you enjoyed the music. It definitely sets the mood for the final curtain; I should know, since the first time I tackled the last battle, it took me about an hour. Or at least, it felt like an hour. I didn't die, though, so that's a plus!

Thanks for tuning in! Have you played any of the Mario & Luigi installments? If you have, what're your thoughts? If you haven't . . . I'm questioning all of your life choices right now.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Monthly HapPENings: March

Welp. It seems like we're a fourth of the way through the year already . . . WHAT THE ACTUAL BRICK?! Since when did time fly by so fast? Well, since I became an adult, but still. I guess it's time to sum up another month.


As far as the majority of my life was concerned, it was business as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just work and stuff. (I know, descriptive, right?)

However, it was the calm before the storm. And by that, I mean that I anticipated the 31st, because that's when the Rooglewood Facebook party was. At the party, they announced the winners, the finalists, the honorable mentions, and the "Special Unicorns." Tracey and I decided to make accounts so we could participate in the festivities of the final contest. And it was fun! But it was also . . . hard. More on that stuff in next Friday's post. You guys love foreshadowing, don'tcha?

I also thought a lot about the spring break day camp my college class and I pulled last year. It was good to revisit those memories. I actually missed it. Even though I was sick that entire week, it was definitely one of my biggest highlights from my college year.

Bookish HapPENings

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This was the only book I read this month, and I wish it wasn't--because it's definitely a fixer-upper. The premise got me interested--a man finding himself in a body not his own--and while the beginning was enjoyable, the rest of the book was a downward spiral. From poor speaker tags, to a villain who was epic when he was evil and not so much he was good, to a whole backstory given through dialogue when it would've been far more interesting in a flashback sequence, the story only kept me because I wanted to see how it ended. Now, recent . . . circumstances make me feel very hypocritical saying all this (again, more details next Friday). But I wish it had been better. I'm still holding onto hope that the next two books will be far superior, because all four other Robin Parrish novels I've read have been phenomenal. This is his first work, so that might explain some things.

HapPENings on the Screen

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Oh mah word. This move was so entertaining, filled with both action and hilarity. Definitely the best Thor movie yet, and one of the best Marvel movies thus far. The character of Thor is just ten times better now. I loved seeing new characters, such as Hela, Valkyrie, and Korg, and the return of others, like Loki, Hulk, and (briefly) Doctor Strange. Plus, the score was absolutely phenomenal, combining all the epic tones of a superhero film with groovy synth music. All in all, I want Taika Waititi to direct more Marvel installments with his amazing New Zealand humor. (I don't know how he so expertly honored the previous Thor movies while completely making fun of them. He's a genius.)

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An entirely different movie from Ragnarok, Black Panther was very enjoyable, albeit in a different way. It didn't focus so much on fight/chase scenes, so I suppose one could describe it as a quieter superhero film. I enjoyed getting to know the titular character better while meeting more people from Wakanda. T'Challa's sister (I'm blanking on her name at the moment) was one of the best new additions to the MCU. Also, I loved Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman and their roles! It was like Gollum and Bilbo meeting in another life. (Too bad Benedict Cumberbatch couldn't have joined in.) And the villain, Killmonger, was very different from Marvel's other ne'er-do-wells.

My only complaint had nothing to do with the movie, but rather some of the audience in the theater. There was a gaggle of ditzy tween girls who kept whispering to each other--fairly loudly at times--throughout THE ENTIRE MOVIE. I shot them a few glares, which didn't seem to do much. What I really wanted to do was ask them why they thought a movie theater was an appropriate place to have conversations, because they were being disrespectful to everyone around them. I would've enjoyed the experience just a little more if they hadn't been present.

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I've only seen one (or was it two?) episodes of Once's fourth season, and so far, I don't really have much good to say about it. The only Frozen character I like at this point is Kristoff; the others all seem to be trying far too hard to live up to the animated version. And the trolls--don't get me started on how bad the trolls are animated. At least Marshmallow looked fairly good, considering all the other poor CGI in the show. Actually, Marshmallow and Pan's Shadow are the two best animated characters.


I'm continuing to watch this with my parents, Chloe, and Kaitlyn. (My sisters and I already finished watching it ourselves.) It's always fun to rewatch a season and see how they led up to the conclusion. You notice a lot more foreshadowing that slipped past you the first time around.

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I've started watching season 5 with my youngest two sisters, and while we haven't gotten terribly far, I'm enjoying the creepier vibe this season has. Morro is definitely one of my favorite Ninjago villains (and I can also do a pretty good impression of his voice). It's also funny how, in one of the episodes, the writers made fun of seasons past when the Ninja turned to a certain teammate to lead them when he clearly was never the best choice. I respect writers who can cleverly poke fun at themselves.

Gaming HapPENings


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I don't know about you, but the Animal Crossing franchise has some of the most relaxing games to play--and New Leaf - Welcome amiibo is the best installment I've played. In March, I nearly clocked in 15 hours for this game. It's so easy to start playing, lose track, and end up spending an hour of your life on it.

One of the things I love most about it is that your first character (at least, I think you can make more characters like in the other games) is the mayor of your town. So you have to do things like fundraise town projects, make sure you're listening to your citizen's comments, getting signatures for various things, etc.

Just recently, I went on vacation to a nearby island, which was tons of fun by myself, but would've been even more fun if I had friends to join me. *cough cough if you play this game we should be friends cough cough* You get to buy souvenirs, play fun minigames, all sorts of stuff! It's definitely a cool addition to the AC formula.

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A friend of mine and I played this game together the other day. Talk about a hilarious experience! Simple controls make it easy for anyone to join the fight, which, by the way, doesn't require strategy. Brawls are filled with more mayhem than you could shake a stick at. (BA-DUM CHING!) It would've been even funnier if we'd been voice chatting while playing.

If you want a fun, bloodless fighting game with explosions and weapons galore, this is the one for you. But trust me when I say it's the most when you're playing with friends. I've done a few rounds with random people online, and it's just not quite the same. Play with people you know, and much laughter will (probably) ensue.

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Twilight Princess and I have never been on the best terms. Lakebed Temple only made matters that much worse. But the last temple I did--Arbiter's Grounds in Gerudo Desert--was a step-up from Lakebed. While the first room held me back for several minutes, thanks to the games poor jumping mechanic, the rest of the temple was pretty interesting. Chloe, Kaitlyn, and I were laughing the whole way through with our amazing commentary. I enjoyed using the new tool I was given, the Spinner. Thankfully, this game was originally released before fidget spinners were a thing. My only complaint is that I've heard it isn't fully utilized in the rest of the game--as if it was designed for just this one temple.

Also, actually getting into the temple was an adventure all on its own. I had to run across the desert (and Link's not a fast runner in this game!), which had some very odd sheer cuts into the turf. Then when I finally got outside the grounds, I had to fight off a bunch of Bokoblins that don't really look Bokoblins in any sense of the word. Some I had to shoot with my bow, and apparently I've been too privileged with Breath of the Wild, because in this game, you can't walk ANYWHERE while aiming the bow.

Then I had to ride a boar to smash barriers, which was a little crazy. Link can barely hold on for dear life when that beast is going full-tilt. I fought a mini-boss I'd fought before (whom I thought dead), and I let him go at the end when I could've easily killed him. Guess who's probably going to come back for a third fight? As thanks, he decided to burn the area I was in with graphically-horrible flames. Good thing the fire stopped spreading after it lit the walls around me, huh?

Writerly HapPENings

Again, I didn't really do much writing except for a few sessions with one of my friends for our co-authored story. I'm a bit embarrassed about that, to be honest. Because it's time to assess my writing goals, and I know that none of them have been accomplished yet. Thankfully, I can do better this next quarter of the year.

At the same time, my writer side has taken a blow to his self-esteem. I'm trying to work through it, but it hasn't been easy. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm going to hold off on talking about it until my next post, which probably won't be easy for me to pen. I have to try, though, if I want to begin to heal.

How was your March? Do anything fun or exciting? Did you participate in the Rooglewood Facebook party, or even submit a story for the Five Poisoned Apples contest? Watch any good movies, read any good books, or play any good games? Do share whatever you'd like about your month!