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The Beauty of Terrible Stories (Part 1)

Hello!  Happy New Year!

Where have I been?

Well, I’ve been busy.

I got married.

Wedding with Radar

Not to the dog.  I didn’t get married to Radar.  I just like this picture a whole lot.  And you don’t need to see my husband.

I also had a birthday, which turned me 25 years old.

Then I finished my new draft of Grotesque, reread it twice, and sent it to my agent.

So yeah, I’ve not had a lot of time to blog, nor have I had many things to blog about.  The thing is, there is one subject I’ve been meaning to touch on for a while now, and that is the hilarious and inspiring stories that I encounter every day while playing time management games.

For those who don’t know, time management games are a type of clicky, iPad game where you control a character (or characters) to make them complete a set of tasks within a time limit.  It involves managing your time properly, hence “time management.”  I am addicted to these games.  It all started with Diner Dash, which I absolutely loved until it went the route of Facebook games.  More specifically, they wanted me to pay them to turn my real money – which can be exchanged for real goods and services – into fake money – which can be exchanged for fake goods and services in an extremely limited capacity.

I never understood that.  It made no sense to me that people would pay money for like… Farmville or whatever.  But I had already paid to own Diner Dash!  So it was cruel and unusual to ask me to pay even more money on a regular basis.

But that’s beside the point.  The games I love most now are called Gardens Inc. (1,2, and 3), Supermarket Mania 2, and Jet Set Go! (Their exclamation point, not mine).  I want to share some stories about their stories.  I wish I could use a ton of screenshots, but I don’t know what’s going to push me beyond the safety of the Fair Use Act.  Instead I’ll illustrate some of my points using Mini Bex, as per the norm.  I will also say that I love these games.  I bought them and have played them all multiple times.  So this is free advertising for them, because I am recommending here that you buy them.

Today we’ll start with Gardens Inc., which was created by an infinite number of developers.  No just three I guess.  Intenium, World-Loom, and Nitreal Games.

The thing about these games is they often have ridiculous settings.  The best example is Supermarket Mania.  You play a young woman named Nikki who runs a supermarket.

That’s it.

Perhaps the developers are aware of this, because they try to offset the mundane environments with over-the-top plots.  These plots often include Villains (with a capital V!).  And they are the best Villains, as you’ll see.  Here are the plots of Gardens Inc 1, 2, and 3:

Gardens Inc. 1: From Rakes to Riches – You play a young woman in overalls named Jill.  Jill’s grandparents live in a dilapidated villa and owe money to a man who wears a snow-white suit and sunglasses all the time.  This man’s name is Cliff Gold.  How much money do Gramma and Grampa owe?  A cool million.  How is Jill going to help them come up with the money?  By winning a gardening contest, of course!  A gardening contest that comes with a grand prize of a million dollars.  Because such contests exist!

Gardening

Gardens Inc. 2: The Road to Fame – You play Jill again.  Jill and her platonic (for now) business partner, Mike, are starting their own company.  It’s called Gardens Inc.!  Did we mention they garden?  Well, they don’t just do that.  They also renovate fountains, Japanese pagodas, park benches, flooded footpaths, and two (Two!) different kinds of staircases (wood and stone).  Guess what?  Another gardening contest!  This one run by an 129-year-old woman who is a “famous” gardener.  Her name is Lady Bloom (duh!).  But also there’s a thief!  And the villain from the previous game, Cliff “I have a closet full of white suits” Gold, is also back for some reason!  And then Mike gets kidnapped!  By Cliff Gold!  Jill has to save him!  How does she do that?  By gardening, of course!  Because, thankfully for Jill, all of her problems can be solved with gardening.  It would be a real bummer if she was an expert gardener but the only way to solve her problems was through a series of fashion design related tasks.

Gardening 2

Gardens Inc. 3: The One With a Wedding – I forget what the subtitle for this one is.  Hold on… [Looks it up] A Bridal Pursuit!  That’s it.  Jill and her no-longer-platonic friend, Mike, are getting married!  But also they are trying to expand their gardening business internationally, which isn’t going so well because of the new villains, Max and Lydia Perfect.  Max wears a Hawaiian-print shirt all the time.  So you know he’s trouble.  They also garden and for some reason are trying to sabotage Gardens Inc.  Also Jill and Mike’s wedding rings get stolen, and there’s some French chick named Nicole?  And um… something about like… weird ancestry?  And caves?  This one lost me a little.  But you can bet they solve all their problems through gardening!

I highly recommend these games, as I said.  They are unique and challenging, with proper difficulty curves and an abundance of different levels.  Each level comes with a clue for a “Bonus Design Award” where you can plant the right colors of flowers for extra points.  But the “clue” is often something like, “Think about stripes!” or, “Everything!”  And then you just know to make stripes or use every type of plant.  Not so much a clue as a direct, explicit instruction.  Still fun, though.

So what’s the point of all this?  Why talk about the ridiculousness of clicky-game stories?  Well, where else do you get to get away with shenanigans like the kind listed above?  It’s so refreshing and fun.  You can laugh at it, but still be engaged by it.  Sure I don’t give a toss about Jill’s grandparents.  They look old enough to live comfortably in a retirement home.  And sure the mayor of her town wears a top hat.  It’s absolutely ridiculous, but it’s fun to play along and pretend there really is a universe where gardening is the end-all-be-all for everyone’s livelihood.

The only other medium where you can be as crazy as that is manga, I think.  Like, my favorite manga is about a family that has been possessed by the spirits of the animals of the zodiac, and anytime they get hugged by someone of the opposite sex they turn into their respective animals.  So yeah… sometimes crazy, outlandish stories are fun.

Until next time!

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A Game

Let’s play a game called “My life was awesome, then it was shitty.”

The rules are simple.  First I’m going to tell you about how my life was awesome, and then I’m going to tell you how it abruptly turned shitty.  Your role is to respectively envy and pity me.  Then we all go home feeling mildly disappointed.  The number of people who enjoy this game is exactly zero.

Ready?

Okay.  So on Sunday the fiance and I went to see Lorde perform live.

It.

Was.

Amazing!

She had her own personalized confetti!

She had her own personalized confetti!

She is not even eighteen years old yet, but she is a captivating performer.  You can tell she really, truly enjoys it, too.  She also did two quick-changes for just one short concert.  Her performance of “Royals” was out of this world.  She is going places.  Awesome places.

Now for the second part:

On Monday I went in to work a lunch shift.  (For those who don’t know: I am a waitress.)  At the end of my very short shift, I went to grab my purse and put my tip money into my wallet only to find that, well…my purse was half unzipped (Odd because I always zip it up 100%) and my wallet was nowhere to be found.

There was between 100 and 200 dollars in that wallet.  As well as a credit card, a debit card, and my health insurance cards.

Gone.

Needless to say…I was not happy.  I called the police, and then I set about cancelling my cards and doing all the other annoying things you have to do when your wallet gets stolen.

The policeman looked exactly like you’d expect a policeman to look.  He was youngish, white, had a strong jaw and a buzzcut.  He stood with his arms not quite rested at his sides like he was ready for action at any second.  But for all that readiness, there wasn’t actually much he could do for me.  He did ask me if I thought someone I worked with could have committed the crime.

My answer was a resolute “No.”

Yesterday my wallet appeared again.

In the kitchen.

Without any cash in it.

You know…in the kitchen.  Where only employees go.

I am happy and relieved to have my driver’s license and all my cards back.  Unfortunately my credit and debit cards remain useless, but that’s okay.

What’s not okay is that someone I work with stole from me.  You might even call it shitty.

Thus ends the game.  I have nothing else to report…OH!  Right.  There were some signed signature cards in my wallet as well.  Really happy to get those back.  Here’s an updated count:

Cards

45!!!  That’s great!

Radar + Cards

Radar and I are both very happy with this outcome.

Remember it’s never too late to join in the fun!  The more the merrier!  It’s easy and free!  Look at how happy you’ll make my dog!  There will still be prizes for writing in to get a card.  Read all about it by clicking “signed signature cards” above or clicking right here.

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Boop!

You know what I really want to know?  What is our obsession with booping the noses of things we find cute?  I boop my dog’s nose like…fifteen times a day.  And he always just looks at me like, “Man…why?  Why you do this?  I do not understand.”  ‘Cause you know…he definitely doesn’t get it.  But I’m not sure I do either!  It’s just something I like to do and I can’t even understand why.

Anyway so yeah…The Fault in Our Stars.  For those who don’t know, this is a movie based on the book written by YA God, John Green.  I don’t remember if I ever reviewed the book, but it’s fantastic.  Definitely my favorite of all Green’s works.  And the movie?  Just as good.  You have to understand that “good” here means “You will cry so much your soul will hurt.”  Which you know…that can be good in a weird way.

The movie stayed remarkably true to the book, and it was very well cast.  You know this is true because going into it I knew exactly what was going to happen and I still couldn’t avoid getting invested in the characters and crying my eyes out and such.  For those who have not read/watched, I highly recommend reading then watching.  That order only, folks.  Let’s not forget that I am always going to promote the book first and the movie second.

Click here to watch John Green at the TFiOS premiere.  And definitely go see it yourself.  But don’t forget the tissues!

That’s all.

*BOOP*

Love,

Bex

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