Friday, October 27, 2017

The Bibliophile Sweater Tag /// The Who-Did-The-What-Now Tag?

Quick: what's a blogger's favorite game to play?

Tag!

BA-DUM CHING!

I know, I know, it's a dad joke. But ever since I went to college last September (as in, the one from 2016), it's become my speciality. It's how I charm the ladies. That, and with my good looks.

But you guys didn't come here for my dating advice (although I'm sure that would make for a fabulous and popular post). I'm here because Tracey, that Internet infamous sister of mine, tagged me. The tag was created by the legendary Mary Horton, and she tagged Tracey. So I'm part of the third generation of the tagged.

Seeing as my first tag I did, The Sunshine Blogger Award, ended up being my third most popular post, I figured it wouldn't hurt to do another. But before we get to the rules and such, what on earth is a bibliophile? *looks it up on the Merriam-Webster dictionary* Oh! Someone who loves books! I guess I count, then.

Rules:
  1. Give the person who tagged you a never-ending supply of cookies (or just thank them - either works). *searches my pockets* Uh, I only have a few Kleenexes (#NotSponsored) on me . . . So a thanks will have to do this time. Ahem. Thank you, Tracey. *sits back down and sees everyone staring at me* What? Is that not good enough? Fine, I'll put a little more effort into it. Ahem. THANK YOU, O MAGNIFICENT SISTER OF MINE, FOR TAGGING ME ON THIS MOST AUSPICIOUS DAY THAT SHALL FOREVER GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE DAY I WAS TAGGED BY MY ELDEST SIBLING! Better?
  2. Answer all the questions and use the blog graphic for this tag somewhere in your post. That shouldn't be a problem . . . hopefully. What happens if I don't follow this rule? Do I get blog detention or something? I'd really like to know the consequences of disobedience. I mean, who's going to enforce these? *shrugs* Just asking what everyone is clearly thinking.
  3. Pass along this tag to at least five other people. I shall contribute to the fourth generation! Let it never be said that I don't care about the children of the future.
  4. Wear a sweater (okay, this is optional . . . but why wouldn't you want to??) Since when was an optional rule a thing? As for wearing a sweater, I'm wearing a sweater/long-sleeved shirt/thing, so I suppose that counts. But what if I was living in Hawaii or the Sahara Desert or something? Then I'd be forced to wear a sweater when it would cause me bodily discomfort! How rude to demand such a thing.

Now that we got the obligatory stuff done--wait, not quite yet! Hang on just a sec . . .

I must admit, this is a really sick graphic! Kudos to you, Miss Horton!

Perfect! Now we're finished with all the obligatory stuff. Let's get on with the bookish pictures!

Fuzzy Sweater (a book that is the epitome of comfort)


I'm copying Tracey a bit here because I'm also choosing a book that includes a whole series. I love Andrew Klavan's novels. They're quick reads with snappy action sequences, witty dialogue, and loads of suspense. If you haven't read any of his books before, WHAT'RE YOU WAITING FOR?! This was the first series of his that I read, and it still holds a special place in my heart. Now I want to sit down and reread this book. If I decided to spend more time reading, I'd probably finish this within a few days.

Striped Sweater (a book which you devoured every line of)

The copy of this book that I read had a different cover, but I like this one more.

Tim Downs is an author with only about nine books to his name, but they are all really good books! His Bug Man series is absolutely phenomenal and hilarious. This book, though, was a really suspenseful book--so suspenseful that I read the majority of it in one afternoon. Yeah, I know, it's pretty crazy. When I think of books that I blazed through, this one always comes to mind first. Although, to be honest, I don't remember much about the book. *adds to my mental "read again" list*

Ugly Christmas Sweater (a book with a weird cover)


Okay, it's not ugly, per se. It just looks like a video game that hasn't been quite perfected. Don't let that fool you, though. I actually picked this book up because, at the time, I thought it looked really cool. And I guess I kinda still do, but maybe that's because I know the great story the cover hides. I actually remember more from this series than I do for most. I had flipped through this book two or three years ago, and while I noticed more mistakes than I had during my first time reading it, it still appeals to me immensely. (And yes, the covers, while still looking like video games, do get better. In my opinion, anyway.)

Cashmere Sweater (the most expensive book you've bought)


Like Tracey, I don't remember the most expensive book I bought. But, like Tracey, one of my most expensive books is this one, costing $25 in Canada. It was only available in hardcover. John Flanagan is one of those authors whose books are worth dropping a bit more money on. I can't really comment on this book, since I've only read the first three books in this series so far. But the Brotherband Chronicles is just as entertaining as Ranger's Apprentice was!

Hoodie (your favorite classic book)


I'll be completely honest here: I don't read a whole lot of "classic" novels. However, when I do, Jules Verne is one of my favorite authors. I had to once read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for school, and I decided to voluntarily read this book beforehand. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a fun romp with action, adventure, wit, and memorable characters. This is probably one of the best classics I've ever read! (Right up there with The Lord of the Rings, of course.)

Cardigan (a book that you bought on impulse)


When I was on a trip with my college class earlier this year, I found this book and immediately picked it up. Why? Because it's Jennifer A. Nielsen, of course. No other reason necessary. I've read her Ascendance Trilogy and loved it to pieces (well, I should specify I've read the first two books, but still). So upon seeing another book written by her and reading the back, I knew I had no choice but to buy it! If you haven't read any of her books, you haven't fully lived life yet.

Turtleneck Sweater (a book from your childhood)


Of all the books my parents read to me as a child, this is the one I remember the best. It's a story about how an elephant was never chosen for anything at school one day. He tells his mom about his horrible day, and she always says that she'd choose him. It's an adorable story, one that was brought to my remembrance after watching an episode of The Flash called "The Runaway Dinosaur."

Homemade Knitted Sweater (a book that is Indie-published)

Erm . . . uh . . . I actually can't answer this question. I'm 95.307% sure that I haven't read any indie books, and if I have, they were completely unmemorable. But I never wear homemade knitted sweaters either, so I guess it all works out in the end.

V-neck Sweater (a book that did not meet your expectations)

Since when were V-neck sweaters a thing? And even if they were, would they still be immodest? Don't most people wear shirts underneath their sweaters? Why wear a sweater without a shirt? That's like eating a burger without a bun. It just doesn't work. Mary! We need to have a discussion about your bibliophile sweater logic! . . . Unless I'm just a totally clueless dude who doesn't know that V-neck sweaters exist and that people don't wear--you know what, I'll just stop now and get to the point of this category.


I really wish it wasn't Eoin Colfer who was going into this slot, but he's going to have to. I absolutely love the Artemis Fowl series. It's one of my favorite series of all time. So I went into this book expecting that same awesomeness . . . and was disappointed. It did not feel like it was written by the same author who penned the world of Artemis. I won't give my full thoughts here, as I'm planning on doing a review of it at some point. Suffice it to say my expectations were not met.

Argyle Sweater (a book with a unique format)


This book has got to be one of the most unique I've ever read! Because the book deals with a world in a comic book, scattered throughout it are several pages of comic panels. (I noticed some of were scenes that were easier to tell with drawings rather than words.) It also makes use of different fonts occasionally, like when the villain Tall Jake talks. Again, this is another book that I'd like to do a review on if you guys are interested, so I won't spill all my thoughts here.

Polka Dot Sweater (a book with well-rounded characters)


When I think of well-rounded characters, this book comes to mind pretty quickly. I actually don't remember a ton from this book, but I do know that it's one of my favorite books, if not my favorite book, by Bryan Davis. There are a lot of great characters not only in this book, but in the whole series. One of the characters I remember most is Leo, who's like a dark Starlighter or something with epic powers. You need to read both this series and its companion YA series. They're fantastic books, in more ways than one!

And just because I found a missed opportunity in this tag, I'm adding one category . . .

Itchy Sweater (a book that looked good at first, but betrayed you later on)


This book could've gone under either the Cardigan or V-neck category, but I had other ideas for those, so I needed to make my own. This book cover captured my interest when I picked it up, so I decided to purchase it. I didn't fully enjoy it when I read it, though. The writing was lacking that spark, that extra oomph. You know what I mean? It just wasn't spectacular. And the note at the beginning . . . *shakes my head, tempted to laugh* It said that Satan's name wasn't capitalized because they felt like it would be empowering him. (I kinda see where they're coming from, but he's a defeated enemy, so capitalizing his name is just good English.) Looking at the publishing company's page, I cringe, and I think I may be seeing even more clearly why I didn't care for this book.

Well, it's time to pass on this bibliophile sweater to the next generation. But who am I to limit this gift to five people? I care about all the children! So I say whoever wishes to do this tag, you may do so, and feel free to add my category. (Because I'm not lazy and I clearly know who has all been tagged already.)

And that's the end of it! I hope you enjoyed this splendid tag as much as I did. In all seriousness, my heartfelt thanks to both Tracey and Mary. You guys saved me from having to come up with a post this week.

What did you guys think of my phenomenal post? (Yes, humility is my middle name.) Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with the categories they were put under? Oh, and by the way . . . tag, you're it! Get it? Because this is a tag? Ah, never mind.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Music Monday #9 + An Announcement

About halfway through the afternoon, I suddenly remembered what day it is today.


I know what you're thinking: how could I forget such an important day? And my answer is: I don't know. But to make it up to ya, I've chosen a really good song. (At least, in my mind I think it's really good. You might disagree. *shrugs*)

"Eclipse (Extended Mix)"
Composed by MDK


MDK--Morgan David King--is an electronic music composer who's from Canada. (Lucky us!) I discovered him because one of the YouTubers I watch, DanTDM, used to have MDK's song "Press Start" as his intro music. MDK's style is very different from most electronic music I've heard, and I'm the only person I know who loves his work. While I cannot recommend all of his stuff (due to some swear words), most of his songs are clean.

One of my favorite things about his music is when he combines the electronic beats with the orchestral genre. He doesn't do it in every track, but when he does, I get excited. Why? It's a very unique mix, and one that he succeeds at.

While this one isn't fully orchestral, the opening piano and acoustic guitar let you know this is not your everyday electronic track. In fact, that aspect of the music doesn't come on until about 45 seconds in. Then the female vocals and electronic elements are added. I'm not sure how to describe them, but I'm a fan of them.

Something else that makes this song stand out for me from his other songs is the emotion behind it. While the majority of his pieces are either epic powersongs or whacky dance music, this one is neither. This one is more bittersweet, like saying goodbye to an old friend. The mixture of sadness and hope is quite poignant. I definitely wanna use this in a story playlist at some point.

I don't know what else to say. Sorry if this feels like a rushed post, because it kinda is. I will, however, give one announcement before. I have started my own Spotify account! I've linked my profile here so you can guys can check it out.

So far, I only have one playlist of my favorite songs. If you just can't wait for Music Monday to roll around every two weeks, you can check this playlist out and satisfy your musical craving. It's currently at 70 songs with over 4 hours of music, but it'll expand quickly, I can assure you. I will probably add my story playlists onto there, so you can check that out as well. Just thought I'd let you guys know in case you have Spotify accounts as well.

That's all for today, folks! What did you think of the song? Have you ever listened to MDK before, or even heard of him? Do you use Spotify? Is it worth upgrading to Premium?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Romance Approaches /// Humble Beginnings, Part 4

Welcome back to Humble Beginnings, the post series that takes your childhood works of art and rips them to shreds because they're not actually art! While that may make you feel sad, don't worry. It's all fun and games here.

source; this guy looks like he's constantly dancing to the music I'm listening to

No book is without its sin. (And yes, that was a parody of CinemaSins's tagline thingy.) My old story, which does not have name, is no different. So I think it's time we go back to those time-worn pages and mock them for the fourth time! Are you ready? Then let's do this thing!

This was the same Smits they were looking for?

No, it's a different one. Because Smits is a name you hear all the time.

"Anyway, we, which includes me and soldiers by the names of John, Alex, Xander, and Nathan, fell into this world. The tank landed on some fire blossoms, which sprout flames when something falls on it. We managed to get away with our info laptop before the tank blew up. Justin, a teenage boy, was responsible for the rescue of the computer. He claimed he was immune to fire. Actually, he is."
David frowned. "How is that possible?"
"I'll leave that story for him to tell."

So first off, there's something about Smits's recap that just makes me laugh on the inside. Maybe I'm getting this image of him calmly telling this outlandish story. Then he doesn't know to say "them" instead of "it" when talking about the flowers. And finally, what's the purpose of waiting to tell them about how Justin is fireproof? Why can't he just tell them now? He doesn't seem to have any good reasons for not doing so.

"They're called ptorelin leaves. They are extremely bitter, but they have miraculous healing qualities." He handed one to David, who accepted.

Deus ex ptorelin leaves. What a convenient way to fix David's bullet wound.

 "Is there a tingling in your shoulder?" Smits asked. When David nodded, he said, "Take off your shirt. You'll want to see this."

Get ready for Smits to say "You'll want to see this" more in the future. It's his favorite sentence in the world.

"I'll be right there," Smits replied. He grinned at the others. "You will want to see this."

See?! Two pages later and he's already running out of creative things to say!

For your info, I've skipped a good chunk of this chapter because it involves a lot of uninteresting info dumping. As in, the dumping itself is uninteresting, not the info. *shakes my head* I often wonder what I was thinking when I wrote this story.

A city rested next to a beach. A port housed many ships. The city stretched far and wide. An enormous castle sat in the distance.

This was the best description I could come up with? It's so bland, so tasteless. It's like taking a drink of water, expecting it to be nice and cold, and it turns out to be room temperature instead. No one likes that! (And if you do, I have to question your childhood.)

Mark, too, was noticing the people, but his eyes were picking out a certain group: the young maidens. They whisper-talked to one another, giggled, and pointed. Most smiled at him, and he smiled back. Then there was more whispering and giggling. He liked the attention. And then he saw . . . her.
She was graceful, with long auburn hair and sky blue eyes. She wore a simple white dress, decorated with golden lace. The dress was cinched at the waist and revealed her slender form.
Mark watched her daintily pick flowers. She looked at him and waved. Mark tried to wave back, but it's hard to wave when your arm feels tied to a block of steel. The girl tittered.

Yep, believe it or not, your boy tried adding a bit o' that timeless romance flavor to this messed-up curry he was concocting. (That has to be one of the weirdest sentences I've come up with in my entire life.) As you can clearly see, I was phenomenal at it! Can't you just how beautiful this girl is as she *cough cough* daintily picks flowers and titters at Mark? Ah! To find such a lass is to find truest love. I'm going to have to hunt me down a flower-pickin', titterin' girlfriend. I'll be back . . . oh, I don't know, NEVER! Because I'll NEVER find one because they don't bricking EXIST because this story LIED to me.

*takes a deep breath* I'm okay, I'm okay. Don't worry about me. Let's see what happens next, shall we?

David had by then observed that Mark was gone and asked, "Where's Mark?"
Smits looked back and chuckled. "He's meeting Michelle."

The name of beauty, I tell you! Doesn't it just invoke images of a girl who picks flowers oh-so-daintily and titters at the male species? . . . I'll shut up now.

David wheeled around. "I'll get him." He went over to the two and gave a little bow to Michelle. "Hello, madam."
"Hello, good sir," Michelle sweetly replied, giving a curtsy.
"Please excuse my friend's behavior. He has just--"
"--never seen a beauty as beautiful as you," Warren finished, coming toward them. "Now, if you don't mind, we must take the Slack-Jawed Wonder with us so we can continue our lovely stroll." With that, Warren gently took Mark's shoulder and led him away.

I'm not gonna lie: Warren's dry sense of humor is one of the best things to come out of this story. It's definitely an aspect of him that I'm going to keep when I reboot the series.

"Have a good day, miss," said David politely.
"You too, sir," she replied. As the three men walked back to Smits, she laughed, something she obviously did a lot.
The dazed look left Mark's eyes, and he turned to Warren. "Slack-Jawed Wonder, eh?" 
 Warren shrugged. "Would've you preferred something like the Gaping Gentleman?"
 "No thanks," Mark said.

Well, there you have it. The first "romantic" scene, and not the last one, I assure you.

There was a little room in between the portcullises. "Is that room for capturing enemy troops?" [David asked.]
"Indeed. You don't want to get caught in there. With the flick of a lever, several large saw blades lower from the ceiling, spinning. It is rare for someone to survive."
Mark frowned. "That would make a gory mess." 
 "It does," Smits simply said.

Sounds a little grisly for the good guys, if you ask me. *shrugs* But there's something I find amusing about Smits's response. I have no idea why. Is something wrong with me?

Mark found the food very interesting. First, there was the meat. It was black and quite tender. It tasted like bison, with a touch of garlic. There was an assortment of colorful, tasty vegetables. Then there was a big loaf of bread, fresh from the oven. Last, but not least, there was glazed scones with fruit for dessert.

I'm oddly starting to feel hungry . . . am I the only one? But I apparently had issues when it came to knowing what words to use around plurals ("was" when I'm talking about scones).

"So, since we're here, what are we supposed to do?" David wondered.
"We would like you to join us in a war," Smits said hesitantly.
"One that's been going on for approximately six thousand years," Samuel [the High Elder] added. 
Warren frowned. "That's too long. Why so lengthy? How did it start?"
"The reason for the length of this war has eternal significance," said Samuel. He reached down, picked three copies of a book, and passed them to the soldiers. "Read it now, for this cannot wait. If it waits, then it could be too late."
The friends knew that if the situation was so dire, then they'd better start reading. So, they began.

Okay, first things first: Mark, David, and Warren literally have no reason to join the war. Yes, they may be soldiers already, but there's no motivation to fight. They should be clamoring to get back home as soon as possible, realistically speaking.

Secondly, they're just going to read this book at the dinner table? What's everyone else going to do? Stare at them until they finish? Because that would be awkward and weird.

Thirdly, if things are really so pressing, don't have read about the reason for the war! Just go ahead and tell them, for crying out loud.

Now, I know this post is a bit shorter than the others in the series, but there's a reason for that. We've just reached the end of the chapter, and I know the next one is going to have a lot of juicy pieces of writing. I decided to cut it off here instead. Hope that's okay!

So what're your thoughts on this post? Is it still entertaining? (I know I'm still loving it like crazy.) Didn't I masterfully craft a romance scene? Is it proof that I should simply write romance novels? (That would be so weird.)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Future of a Franchise

And now, we present to you another exciting blog post from the self-proclaimed Internet famous Josiah Dyck! Staying hip and relevant, he has decided to talk about one of the biggest movie series in the history of the film industry. If you haven't heard of it, you've been hiding under a rock in Antarctica for the past four centuries. It's known as . . .

source

Wait a minute: you're telling me this was no surprise to you? The post preview shows this picture? Curse you, spoilery previews!

All joking aside, we were recently given an official full-length trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode of the third top-grossing franchise of the world (bested only by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World). Let me tell you, I am HYPED for this new film. If you haven't seen the trailer, well, stop wasting time and--if I may be so bold as to reference Nike's motto and the Shia LaBeouf meme--just do it! Of course, you may be trying to keep the movie as spoiler-free as possible, and I respect that, in which case you should not just do it.

For those of you who haven't yet watched the trailer, or would just like to see it again, I've taken the liberty to add it to my post. Get ready for some spinal shivers.


source

Now I've seen that some people think this going to be a carbon copy of The Empire Strikes Back. (Did you catch the totally intentional pun in there?) After all, The Force Awakens had a similar plot structure to A New Hope. One person even said he would quit watching the franchise if this happens. I, however, have a theory about that, and to do that, we need a bit of history.

In May of 2011, George Lucas, head of the Lucasfilm company, met with the CEO of Walt Disney, Bob Iger. Debating retirement, Lucas was looking to sell the company and its massive Star Wars franchise. 2012 rolled around (you know, the year where the world was scheduled to end because of the good ol' Mayan calendar), and Disney announced that it was indeed buying Lucasfilm for the grand sum of over four billion dollars. (This info comes courtesy of a quick visit to Wikipedia.)

Now we hadn't gotten a proper Star Wars episode since Revenge of the Sith was released in 2005. The prequel trilogy had gotten a lot of hate, so I'm sure there was some nervous anticipation when Episode 7 was slated for a 2015 release. This is where my theory comes in.

I know Walt Disney is a massive company. I mean, they can shell out over four billion for a company and its immensely popular film series--so popular it has everything from books to TV shows to toys to video games. Who doesn't know characters like Darth Vader or Yoda these days? So while I'm sure Disney can afford to lose money, they definitely don't want. No sane person in the film industry says, "Let's spend thousands upon thousands of hours and dollars to write, film, and edit a movie that'll bomb in the box office!" Disney was walking on eggshells. The Force Awakens would make or break the trust diehard fans had in them.

They needed a safe solution, something that would show they knew how to handle the Star Wars universe. So what do they do? They create a film that's new, but hearkens back to A New Hope in order to bring back the nostalgia and heighten the appreciation for the latest addition to the franchise. It's a smart thing to do, really. And if you think that they shouldn't have used this method, consider that A New Hope is the 68th top-grossing film of all time, and The Force Awakens is the 3rd.

So they've made a hugely successful movie and have earned the trust of the fans. Now what? This is where things get riskier. They need to dive into some new water. They have to create an original movie to test just how loyal people are. Thus, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story appeared last year, bridging the gap between Episodes 3 and 4. While not as popular as its predecessor, it ended up being the 22nd top-grossing film, which is still really good.

Where does that leave us? Well, Disney has proven that they can handle the Star Wars franchise just fine. Honestly, I don't think we have anything to worry about concerning The Last Jedi, provided Disney doesn't make Finn and Poe a couple. The movie is in good hands, so we can rest assured that it'll turn out great in the end.

Already some have compared it to Episode 5 after seeing the trailer, saying that Luke training Rey is like Yoda training Luke. Even if it has similar plot points, who cares? I don't! I'll probably love the movie either way.

In a video adults reacting to the new trailer, one guy put it very well. He said that while you have people who saw the original trilogy when it came out watching the sequel trilogy, you also have a new audience who didn't grow up with the first episodes. He believed that it was like passing the nostalgia down to the next generation, saying that it was his childhood and it could now be their childhood too.

I quite agree with that point. Disney wants to capture a new audience by giving them things that were great with the old movies, while building upon the foundation of the franchise and creating compelling characters we love and hate. With all the technology at their disposal, they're making these films look better than ever, which certainly doesn't hurt. In the end, Disney is shaping the series to be the best that it can be, and as a Star Wars fan, I'll be following every step of the way.

As for my thoughts on Disney's approach to the franchise, you can take it or leave it. It's just a theory--a film theory! (And no, I was sadly not sponsored by MatPat or The Film Theorists to say that.)

(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!)

What did you guys think of the new trailer? Are you a diehard fan, a casual viewer, or a disinterested individual? Do you agree or disagree with my theory? Where do you hope these movies to go next? Let's talk Star Wars and get hyped together!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Music Monday #8

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Well, if you're Canadian, that is. Honestly, I don't know why the American Thanksgiving is in November. It's a month before Christmas! I dunno, it just feels like the two holidays are too close together, but maybe you have no issue with it.

Regardless, I'm thankful for music, and it just so happens that today is . . .


And we've got our second lyrical song! (Can I get a "Whoo-hoo"?)

"So Far Away" from the album Getting Stronger
Composed by Gabriel Brown and Michelle Creber


Okay, before you keep reading, watch the video. It's got some incredible footage from the ISS--International Space Station, in case you didn't know. I'm always stunned by how beautiful Earth looks from space. You don't wanna miss the view.

Now that you've seen the video, let's talk about both it and the song. Gabriel was the one who put the footage together. In the description, he says that he "edited, time stretched, color corrected, and digitally panned" the video. Dude, after being a media student in college, I know how long it takes to edit videos, and he went through hours of footage to find the best stuff. Props to you, man. You've got a lot of patience.

As for the song itself, I love the blend of Gabriel and Michelle. Their voices sound really good together. I'm picky when it comes to female vocals, but I can easily listen to Michelle. There's something different about Gabriel's voice; I can't quite put my finger on it, but I love it. When they sing together, it likes the beautiful combination of dough and filling in a Boston cream doughnut. Weird comparison, I know. It's the first thing that comes to mind.

What I wanted to talk about most, though, is the song lyrics. I'm fairly certain that these two aren't Christian (I actually have no idea), yet you can draw some Christian connotations from the song. To me, this song is about wanting to know our purpose in life. We feel a higher calling on our lives, and we long to discover it and know that we're not alone in this world.

The song asks, "Do I belong here, or am I meant for more?" It wonders, "Where can the answers be found?" It feels like the writers are seeking Someone to give meaning to our short slot in the thread of time. We want to make a difference, an impact. We want to be significant. We want to know that there's more beyond this beautiful ball of dust we stand on.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that's how the music speaks to me. I could talk more, but my time has been cut short today. I hope this post is long enough for you guys!

What did you think of both the song and the video? If given the opportunity, would you want to, in person, see Earth from space? What's your take on the lyrics? Is my interpretation an accurate one, or simply that: one of many interpretations?

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Monthly HapPENings: September

Guys, where in the world did September go? I blink once and it's here. I blink twice and it's gone. It practically felt like a mirage. If someone stole my September, I demand that they confess to their crime and give it back!

. . . Yes, I'm in a weird mood. Don't mind me. Once again, it's time to sum up the last month of my life, and once again, I haven't made a special banner/picture/thingy for this series. You know what that means? STOCK PHOTO TIME!

source

That'll do. Now, let's see what happened this month . . . For starters, at the beginning of September (as in, the 1st), I was transferred to a different department at work. It's been much better than the other part of the factory I worked in. The guys are much better to work with, and I love being able to joke around with them. I tell a lot of dad jokes, so it's always fun to see their reactions.

Then during the last week, I had to help out in a third department, which had a more laidback and relaxed pace to it. It was a nice change, and I worked a lot with a really cool guy there. We had some great conversations, so I'm very glad I got to meet him.

To be honest, I didn't really do much more than work this month. Seriously. If I wasn't working, I was either relaxing or helping out at home. I have done nothing interesting. Sad, I know, but true.

Oh! I did get my first cell phone on the 29th. It's an iPhone 7, which I've really enjoyed having. And it takes very crisp, clear photos, something I'll be demonstrating in next week's post. #Foreshadowing

So yeah, one might say that my month was boring. I would disagree by saying that it was simply void of anything spectacular or remarkable for the most part. Which means this post will probably be a bit shorter.

Bookish HapPENings

Ahem. This is awkward. It seems that September is a stark contrast from August in this regard, because I have finished *cough cough* zero books. Yes, it's a shame. I've been reading the same book all month due to the fact that I only read on the drive to and from church. Books have not been given any other timeslot during the rest of my week.

I'm hoping October will be a different story (pun intended, of course). I guess you'll find out in a few weeks. Man, saying it like that makes the month feel even shorter. *shudders*

HapPENings on the Screen


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I thoroughly enjoyed the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and I had high hopes for Vol. 2. While I laughed a lot and enjoyed the character interaction, along with the intense fight scenes, it wasn't quite as good as the first. There were a few more sexual jokes in this one, which contributes to that feeling. But I just felt like the plot was not as tight as the first movie's was. Ronan was a great villain, and for some reason, I liked having the villain established sooner. Plus, the score reused a good deal of stuff from the first soundtrack. Now, don't get me wrong. I have no real problem with this. I just wish there had been a little more memorable new content music-wise. Aside from that, the movie was very good, and I definitely will be adding it to my Marvel movie collection. I can't even talk about one of my favorite scenes because of its spoilery nature, but suffice it to say that someone's reaction to something was perfectly spot-on.

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Chloe and Kaitlyn loved the first Pirates movie so much that they wanted to watch the second soon after. I remember thinking that Dead Man's Chest was my least favorite in the series, but that's because I had a hard time following the plot and character motivations. Trust me when I say that this franchise is one that has to be watched a couple of times to be fully understood, which makes it even more appealing to me. Plus, there was a boatload (yep, more puns) of laughs and epic action, so what more could you ask for? Don't answer that, all you smart alecks who like responding to rhetorical questions.

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My sisters and I watched this together, as it was Kaitlyn's first time seeing it. Ack, the cringe! This trilogy is so bad, but not to the point where it's good. It hovers in-between. The CGI was bad, Mary Jane was annoying, all the high school students look like they belong in a college, Tobey Maguire's crying face is hideous, Norman Osbourne does a poorly acted Gollum conversation (or Golluming, as I called it) . . . the list goes on. Watch this movie only to make fun of it, which I brutally did through my commentary.

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I finally finished season 2 of Once Upon a Time and have started season 3! Season 2 had a great finale, and the third season definitely starts with a bang. I'm really digging the Neverland aspect of it, because much of the show has taken place in Storybrooke. It's nice to get a change of scene. (Yes, I know they did that in the second season, but there were still major characters in Storybrooke that got attention.) Peter Pan is an interesting villain; I haven't fully formed my thoughts on him, so I'll let you know when I do. And judging by this poster, there are Wizard of Oz elements that come in later, so that should be fun as well.

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YAS, IT'S HERE, IT'S FINALLY HERE! After waiting for a few months, I have finally been able to start season 3 of The Flash. And man, is it ever good! It's taken a big turn from what I thought this season was going to look like, so I'm happy it's keeping me on my toes. I've been really enjoying it so far, and I can't wait for the main villain to show up on screen. (The main villains always look sinisterly cool in this show.) Also, it seems as though the cinematography has been ratcheted up a notch. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just seems better. Blame my year in media class during college for noticing something like that. All in all, I'm pumped to see where the storyline goes, because I have a feeling that things are going to get really bad.

Writerly HapPENings

This is another awkward category. I mean, I did better than in August. I, uh, wrote once. Yeah, that's pretty bad. But wait until you hear my word count.

32 words.

What? You didn't catch that? I said:

32 words.

You still didn't hear me? Fine. I said that I wrote a whopping 32 words.

Shame! Heartache! "How can you ever hope to finish your Snow White story at this rate?" you ask. "What a valid question!" I reply. "I have no blazing idea!"

*sigh* I need to start writing more, and faster, if I hope to enter the contest. Wish me luck!

Yeah, I'm done with my ramble! Was your month similar to mine, or was it more exciting? Tell me about some of your highlights!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A Bunch of Mini Reviews! Part 2

(Note: Blogger is glitching out on me because this post is so long. I have to split it up into two because it's getting late and I don't have to time to research how to fix it. Sorry about that.)

Super Mario 3D Land


One of the first games I got for Wii U was Super Mario 3D World, and I absolutely love that game to pieces. It feels like a sequel to the two Super Mario Galaxies with elements of the Super Mario Bros. series mixed in. But before that game was around, there was Super Mario 3D Land.

The plot is simple enough: outside Peach's castle grows the Tail Tree, whose leaves give special powers. One night, a fierce wind blows them all off, and Mario awakes to find a letter showing that Peach has once again been captured by Bowser. Like the good boyfriend he is, Mario heads off immediately to save his damsel-in-distress.

A bright and colorful set of worlds await you as you venture out on your rescue mission. There aren't a whole lot of abilities here, sadly. You mostly get Fire Flowers and Tanooki suits (from what I've played, at least). And while it's not as good as it's predecessors or successor, it's still a good purchase. Who knows, the game might just surprise me by the time I reach the end.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past


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Yep, this one's an oldie. But I had heard great things about it, and I enjoyed the follow-up, A Link Between Worlds, immensely. As in, it was one of my all-time favorite Zelda games. I had high hopes for this game, and I haven't been disappointed thus far.

Hyrule has been beset by an evil wizard named Agahnim, who has been kidnapping young maidens. Link is awoken by Zelda calling out to him telepathically one night. He discovers his uncle leaving their home armed. Though told to stay, Link follows his uncle and finds him dying in Hyrule Castle. Link's uncle passes on the duty of protecting Zelda with his final breaths. It's up to Link to dig deeper into Agahnim's schemes and save Hyrule.

The graphics are simple, as this game is the third in the Zelda franchise, but appealing. I love seeing how A Link Between Worlds makes many call-backs to this game. It's well worth the $5 I spent on the Nintendo eShop. If you want to play a classic game for a change, I suggest this one. It's probably the hardest Legend of Zelda game I've played, seeing as I died three or four times on the first temple. That, or I'm not as good a gamer as I like to think.

LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins


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I like my LEGO games, okay? They're classics for me. I grew up with the PS2, playing the Indiana Jones and Star Wars LEGO games, so it makes sense that I love them so much now. LEGO City Undercover is undoubtedly my favorite game they've made so far. I hoped this game would be just as good.

A prequel to the abovementioned game, it follows rookie cop Chase McCain as he climbs up the police ladder and becomes a (somewhat good) detective. He also hopes to put LEGO City's most dangerous criminal, Rex Fury, behind bars. I haven't played far enough to know all the details.

The game isn't quite as good as I hoped. After all, the Wii U is a more powerful system with greater capabilities. In this game, voice acting is only present in cutscenes, dense fog hides buildings that are being rendered, and the graphics aren't nearly what they were in the Wii U game. Still, it's enjoyable enough to say that, if you want background info to the first game, you should buy it.

Kirby's Blowout Blast

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And I like Kirby too, so don't judge. His games are a lot of fun to play, and this one looked to be that way too! The game has no storyline. It's just an action/puzzle sort of game where Kirby consumes enemies and spits 'em out to hit other enemies and get points. Sound boring? It's not.

It actually is challenging to get gold on all the levels, especially the hard versions of them. The controls are simple and easy to get used to, sure, but actually racking up those points can be difficult. I don't know how many levels there are in total, so I won't yet say whether or not it was worth the $10 I spent on it. But so far, I've been enjoying it. It's a very different Kirby game, which counts for something.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

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Finally, on the last one! New Super Mario Bros. Wii was actually one of the first Mario games I ever played, so it's kinda nostalgic for me. I've also played New Super Mario Bros., which was for the DS and was a mixture of really easy and somewhat hard levels. I sorta knew what to expect from this installment of the series.

As usual, the plot isn't terribly thick. Mario is out for a stroll when Bowser comes along on one of his flying, creepy clown things. Bowser laughs and flies away, Mario hot on his tail. But the mustachioed plumber isn't fast enough to stop the Koopa King from assaulting the castle and--you guessed it--nabbing Peach on his way out. Mario is on another grand adventure, it seems.

I've only played two levels of this game so far, which means I can't say a whole lot. At first, the levels looked a lot like the ones in the Wii game, which had me worried that this game wasn't going to be creative. Thankfully, they weren't carbon copies, so I guess I'll see how the rest of the game turns out.

And I'm finally done! My apologies for such a long and late (not to mention weirdly split) post. Are any of these games ones you want to play? Have any recommendations for me? Let's chat about video games and nerd out for a while!

A Bunch of Mini Reviews! Part 1

What is it that the White Rabbit says in Alice in Wonderland? Oh yeah, it's, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" That seems to be the motto of my blog nowadays. *shrugs* But I said I wouldn't apologize any longer, so . . . I'm not sorry (although I actually am).

Now, way back when this blog was started, you were promised posts about video games. And guess what? They haven't talked about yet! Can you believe the nerve of this blogger, making promises he can't keep? Someone oughta find him and--wait a minute. I made that promise, because I'm referring to myself in third person again. Heh heh . . .

Ahem. Weird and awkward intro aside, I'd like to give you guys a bunch of reviews, seeing as I said I'd do those too. This summer, I got a New Nintendo 2DS XL, my first brand-new handheld system. All of my other ones have been preowned, in case you were wondering. I have a handful of games for it, so I figured I would do mini reviews on them. These won't be the kind where I make lists of good and bad content. I'm just going to give my thoughts on them, based on what I've played so far. But before we get to the games, we need to talk about the system itself!

New Nintendo 2DS XL


I originally wanted to buy a 2DS for a couple of reasons. First, I had tried the 3D function on the 3DS, and I didn't really care for it. I found it more disorienting than anything else. My second reason was because the 2DS was cheaper, at only $75 or so Canadian for a refurbished one. Then Nintendo announced the New Nintendo 2DS XL, and I knew I was going to wait for that instead. Why? Because it was bigger, better, and folded shut, unlike the original 2DS.

The name of the system is a mouthful, I know, but that's not what is most important. The system is pretty comfortable to hold, although you have to make sure you grab it on the sides and not close to the bottom so that you don't cover the speakers. People have said that the system's sound is tinny. I'm not an uber-techie guy or anything, but I think the sound is perfectly fine. However, I've started using earbuds when playing because you have to turn the volume up fairly high to hear it well without headphones or earbuds.

I love using the Circle Pad instead of the arrows. It makes movement in games so much more natural. You can't see them here, but on the back of the system are the L, R, ZL, and ZR buttons, all of which are not a pain to use. The hinge is a little wobbly, though not too bad. Now, I have yet to figure out which games make good use of the C Stick (that little gray nob up on the top right); supposedly it's for "enhanced controls," as the box claims.

The game and SD cards are protected by a flap, making them harder to accidentally pop out. I almost didn't find the stylus at first, but it's right next to the headphone jack. I don't have a screen protector on the touch screen, but it's holding up well. I'm very careful not to apply excessive pressure on it. A light touch will do much of the time. The system can read amiibo, so that's a plus. I'm not sure what else to say, because this is supposed to be a MINI review. Suffice it to say that at the price it comes at ($200 Canadian, $150 US), it's definitely worth picking up if you want to give those 3DS games a whirl.


Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

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I absolutely love the Mario & Luigi series. They're great RPGs with a sense of humor that never fails to make me laugh or grin. Dream Team is just as witty as its predecessors, and it's got a new animation style to boot. While I loved the look of both Bowser's Inside Story and Partners in Time, the improved design is better, in my opinion.

The story is that the Mario Bros. are taking a vacation with Peach and her Toad entourage on Pi'illo Island. They are warmly greeted when they arrive, but not all bodes well. An ancient evil known as Antasma, a bat lord of nightmares, has got a heinous plot brewing. When Luigi falls asleep on a magical pillow and opens a portal to the Dream World, Antasma snatches the pink princess. It's up to the bros to save her and defeat the villain by crossing between reality and dreams.

Everything about this game is just so fun: the combat, the dialogue, the score, and everything in between. While I would say that you should probably play the M&L games in order (it's technically not necessary, but some characters are in multiple games), you could probably pick this game up and still really enjoy it. I give Dream Team a hearty recommendation, as it's one of my favorite 3DS games that I've played so far.

LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval's Journey

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I already owned Laval's Journey for my DS, but I was able to get it for free due to a deal at the game store I bought it at. I thought, "What the heck?" So far, I don't regret my choice.

In a world filled with anthropomorphic animal tribes, Laval was best friends with Cragger, but things have gone sour (the backstory to this is explained in the TV show). The game starts with the two jousting each other on Speedors. Cragger wins and claims his prize of Chi orbs, which give a warrior great power for a limited time. Laval, unhappy with the loss, wanders off and stumbles upon Cragger beginning to unleash a sinister plot that involves the legendary Triple Chi Armor. Laval will need his friends if he wants to save the day, but can they do it in time?

This game has improved from the DS version. The hub is a lot more interesting to walk around, there's extra content, and the levels have less loading screens. There is more voiced dialogue here than there was in the DS game, which could be considered bad for some people, since the voice actors aren't spectacular. Other than that, it's an entertaining installment in the LEGO video game collection.

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer

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If I'm not mistaken, this is one of the first truly different Animal Crossing games. For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, they're fun little games about just living life. You own a home with a mortgage, you make friends with your animal neighbors, you catch bugs and fish, and much more. Happy Home Designer is a different spin on that.

There isn't a whole lot of plot involved. You make your character, who joins the Happy Home Academy. Animals come to you when they wish to get a new look for their house. It's your job to design it and fill whatever needs they have.

Some might say it's repetitive and boring, but they're the type who wouldn't like the franchise in general. I would say that if you enjoy design, this game is obviously for you. Making homes is actually more fun than one might think, and your options are many when it comes to choices of furniture, d├ęcor, wallpaper and flooring, and outdoor items. Why decorate your house when you can design a virtual one? (Don't answer that. It was a rhetorical question.)

Team Kirby Clash Deluxe

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Who loves free games? I certainly do! But sometimes free games are free for a reason: because they aren't great, and no one would play them if they were P2P (pay-to-play, for all you non-gamers). This is definitely not the case with Team Kirby Clash Deluxe! This honestly has got to be one of the best free games I've ever played.

There isn't a ton of story involved. A faraway land called the Dream Kingdom is assaulted by a slew of monsters. A team of four Kirbys must set out to take them down. This is where the real fun comes in. For the battles, you can choose between four classes. There's the swordsman, a swift, up-close-and-personal fighter who can generate a large shield to protect his teammates. We have the mage (my personal favorite), whose beams can attack right next to the baddie or from across the battlefield. He can even stop time for a spell to give his team the advantage. The warrior wields a ferocious hammer capable of doing a ton of damage, but he's slow and unable to fly high. Lastly, the medic is poor at fighting, but he unleashes healing areas for his friends to recover and charge back into the fight.

I won't get into all the aspects of battles, but I quite enjoy playing this game. It's simple and easy to get into, and some of the bosses prove to be tough challengers. Speaking of your combatants, it's fun seeing both old and new foes appear. For example, Landia from Kirby's Return to Dream Land shows up. As he started using his original moves, I figured I'd have an easy time defeating him. I soon discovered that his attacks had been given significantly more power and did a tremendous amount of damage. I have yet to beat this fiend, but I'm glad that not every enemy is beaten in one shot.

Tomodachi Life

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When I first saw trailers for this game, I thought it looked really strange. My opinion changed when I watched the popular YouTuber DanTDM play the game. I've decided to buy it, and it's been a real hoot. (For some reason, saying that either makes me sound old or like a hillbilly, and I have no idea why.) My youngest two sisters have watched me play, and that's only enhanced the experience.

I'll say it right up front: if you want a game with a story, this is not the game for you. It's a sim game, which means you're taking care of people's needs and trying to make them happy. You live on an island where you can create anyone you imagine. On my island, I have everyone from me and my sisters to Markiplier to sans and Papyrus from Undertale to an evil version of me. The interactions between the characters are amusing, and the program used to make the voices heightens the humor.

Often when I play, I can spend an hour or so without even realizing it's been that long. While you do some of the same things over and over again, it manages not to get tiring. Using your creativity in making Miis definitely helps. A whole bunch of unique characters on your island make for some pretty interesting times. I'm always wondering who's going to become friends or a couple (just so you know, homosexual couples don't occur on the game). This is a fun, quirky sim game that'll keep you entertained for many hours.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe


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I'm a huge fan of Kirby games. You might even say that they've sucked me right in. Get it? . . . It was a good pun. You know you laughed. Anyway, Kirby's Return to Dream Land is probably my favorite of his games. It's a classic, in my mind. Animated in the same style, Kirby: Triple Deluxe (his first game on the 3DS) is just as good. That's not to say I'd consider it a classic, but maybe I will by the time I reach the end.

The story goes that Kirby is living a happy, normal life of eating, having fun, and sleeping. One night, as the pink puffball slumbers, vines wrap around his house. He wakes up the next morning to find that a giant beanstalk has lifted his home high into the sky. Spotting the castle not far away, he goes to check on his old nemesis, King Dedede. Perhaps the lout is behind this trouble once again. Upon arriving, Kirby encounters a six-handed miscreant by the name of Taranza, who looks like he might be related to Magolor from Return. The nasty fellow beats back all of the king's guards and kidnaps him. Like the hero he is, Kirby isn't about to let Dedede come to harm, so he gives pursuit further up the beanstalk to Floralia, an archipelago consisting of six floating islands.

The gameplay is much like any Kirby game. New abilities have been added, such as Circus and Beetle. Whereas Return went for the traditional worlds--forest, desert, ocean, etc.--Triple Deluxe gets unique. One of my favorites is Wild World, a jungle world that hides a temple or two at its heart. This is a fantastic game, also like any Kirby game. Whether it's your first venture into the Kirby franchise or you're a seasoned veteran, you're sure to see the game's appeal, which includes new 3D elements.

LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin


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You guys all know how much I love the Ninjago TV show. When this game came out, I desperately wanted to play it. I had heard good things about it from a friend of mine in the UK, so that made me want it more. I finally got my chance.

Taking place between seasons 4 and 5 of the show, the plot starts with the Ninja relating their experiences on Chen's Island--in a dramatic, not-entirely-true way. Sensei Wu interrupts their storytelling to remind them to train. Their friend, Dareth, has brought some of his finest students to help them hone their skills. However, the students are actually frauds who wish to harm the Ninja. They've been sent by Ronin, a shady man who steals the heroes's memories. Now they must regain both their powers and their memories while thwarting Ronin's scheme.

If you've played any LEGO games, you know the drill. You go through levels smashing objects, fighting enemies, and solving puzzles. The way the levels work confused me at first, though. You do three short levels in a row, and they kinda count as one big level. (It sounds weird, I know; I can't think of any other way to describe it.) The voice actors are, unfortunately, not the same as the ones in the show. I'd have to say that, while it's not a superb game based on what I've played so far, it is enjoyable and still worth picking up, especially if you watch the show.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo


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The Animal Crossing series is great for casual gamers. They're very relaxing, and it's easy to spend a lot of time hunting down fossils, running errands for your neighbors, and listening to K.K. Slider belt out a tune for you on Saturday night. New Leaf - Welcome amiibo does what the other games did well and gives you more.

In this game, you arrive at a town and are mistaken for its new mayor. You must pick up the mantle and get on good terms with the townsfolk so you can work on various projects and do your mayoral duties. I won't cover all the new features here, but you can swim if you have scuba gear, your stores are all in one section of town, there's an island you can eventually travel to, and much more. The Welcome amiibo edition of this game adds amiibo compatibility and other things. By clicking the link under the picture, you can read what those new features are.

This is most certainly a worthy addition to the Animal Crossing family. You don't have to be a gamer to enjoy the series. I've played other AC games, and I must say that they get better each time. If you've never dipped your toes into this Nintendo franchise, pick up New Leaf - Welcome amiibo and try it out. You may never want to leave this happy little virtual world. (That's a lie, you will want to because it's good for your health and you don't want to be one of those gamers you're always hearing about who stay at their parents's house playing Animal Crossing.)

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes


Ever played a Zelda game and thought, "Man, wouldn't it be great if I could adventure with my friends? I mean, they did that in Four Swords, but I want that feature in a new and improved game"? Well, Nintendo has heard your pleas and answered the call with Tri Force Heroes! No, that's a not spelling mistake. I'm a Nintendo nerd, so I know how to spell Triforce correctly. The title is a play on words, actually.

See, here's the scoop: in the fashionable realm of Hytopia, Princess Styla rules fairly and, of course, fashionably. But while the land's denizens adore her, the witch of the Drablands, Lady Maud, despises her. So she sends a gift to the princess, only it's not really a gift. It's a curse that forces Styla to only wear a brown onesie, which is clearly not fashionable. Her father calls upon heroes from nearby kingdoms to save them from this fashion disaster, hoping that the legendary Tri Force Heroes will appear to win the day.

While the story may not take itself terribly seriously, this is still a blast to play. You and two of your friends (or just random online people) can quest together as green, red, and blue Link. Or you can just play by yourself, like I've been doing. I think that makes the game harder, as I have to switch between the three characters. Having more than one Link to play with adds a level of challenge to the whole experience. It's a unique game with plenty of costumes to get (betcha never thought you would see Link wearing Zelda's dress, huh?), and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a different type of Legend of Zelda game.

(This is continued in a second post because of issues with Blogger.)