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Plague Inc: A Review

The 47 best iPhone games - CNET

I’ve played this game on and off for a few years, and it is seriously addicting.  Basically, you create a plague, and you have to infect and kill the whole world.

A completely harmless and cathartic hobby.

You choose the country you start in, and then it starts to spread.  The more people and countries you infect, the more points you earn.  You use these points to evolve your disease.  You can add vectors for infection, symptoms of the disease, and other traits such as drug resistance.  So, you control your disease and its spread indirectly.

This game is a bit of a time suck, since you spend a lot of time waiting for your disease to spread.  But it is oh so satisfying to watch the world slowly turn red as you infect more and more countries.

There are three settings: casual, which is pretty easy, normal, which is pretty hard, and brutal, which I’m guessing is pretty much impossible to beat.

You see, after awhile the world notices your disease and starts to work on a cure.  So the challenge is to avoid detection until you’ve infected most of the world.  Then you need to make your disease lethal enough quickly enough after detection to kill everyone before your disease is cured, but not so quickly that you kill all your hosts before you infect the whole world.  This can be pretty challenging, which of course makes it all the more satisfying when you win.

In the free version, which I have, you start with bacteria, and have to beat the game on at least the normal setting before you can get virus, then fungus, etc.  For $14.99 you get the “premium version” with all the plague types, scenarios, and some other bells and whistles.  Kinda pricey for a smartphone game, if you ask me, so I’ll stick with free.  (You can also buy things piece meal, but that also doesn’t seem worth it.)

It’s also listed on CNET’s 50 best iPhone games.

Don’t take my word for it; try out Plague Inc yourself.

What are your favorite smartphone games?  Share in the comments below!

 

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A Star Wars Musical Revue

May 2015 145

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband and I put together a Star Wars dinner and a show for a ward party.  We had games for the kids, then dinner, then the show.  After we chose the main acts, I wrote the narration to go in between.  The links are to YouTube videos, and not our performances, but they’re almost as good as we were.  (By the way, if you want to use this narration, go for it!  Tell me about it in the comments!)

Narrator: Good evening!  I’d like to wish a warm welcome to all you Jedi, padawans, younglings, moisture farmers, scruffy looking nerf herders, and wretched scum.  I’d like to give a big thanks to everyone who helped with the food, decorations, and games for our aspiring Jedi.

Few franchises have been as powerful as Star Wars.  You probably remember your first experience of watching a Star Wars movie.  Star Wars has become a tradition, passed down from parents to children.  And now you are all invited to Bayside ward’s next installment in the Star Wars tradition.

How does it begin?  How does Star Wars ever begin?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

 Star Wars theme on piano

Narrator: In the late 1970s, movies featured popular songs of the day, rather than original scores.  George Lucas knew this would not do for Star Wars.  Imagine Star Wars set to disco.  (shivers)  Instead, he enlisted the help of one John Williams.

Lucas had a big job ahead of him.  One day, dejected and discouraged because nothing was coming together, he sat in the studio and listened to John Williams’ score for Star Wars.  It exceeded all his expectations.

We are again in a period of musical confusion.  Rebel musicians, stealing from classic movies, have won their first victory against the evil galactic Tinsel Town.

During the rehearsal, rebel singers managed to steal scores to six different movies, with enough musical power to destroy an entire Justin Bieber album.

Pursued by Tinsel town’s sinister agents, our four singers race to the end of the song, custodians of the scores that can save the movies and restore harmony to the cinema.

John Williams is the Man

Narrator: Star Wars reinvigorated the hero’s journey.  Lucas tapped into the power of myth to create villains and heroes who stir the imagination.  Every child who watches Star Wars dreams of being a hero and saving the galaxy.

But now Luke Skywalker has vanished.  In his absence…hey, what are you doing here?

Rey: I need to find Luke Skywalker

Narrator: Funny, that’s what I was just talking about.  I have a lot of fans here who want to thank him.

Rey: Thank him?

Narrator: That’s right.  For all the great stuff he did.  Look, there’s Luke over there!  Hey Luke, come over here!

Rey: No, you don’t understand.  The galaxy has all kinds of problems.  (Speaking to Luke, who has approached).  Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight and apprentice of the great Yoda…

Luke: And… Hero of the Galaxy. Once more, from the top, and GO!

Rey: Hero of the Galaxy? Wait, it’s your fault that…

Luke : I believe what you are trying to say, is “thank you.”

Rey: (angrily) Thank you?

Luke: You’re welcome.

You’re Welcome Parody

Narrator: Everyone has their favorite parts of Star Wars.  For some, it’s the epic space battles.  For others, it’s the romance.  Scratch that, definitely not the romance.  I think we can all agree that one of the coolest parts of the Star Wars franchise is the lightsaber duels.  Who can forget a dramatic showdown between Sith lord and Jedi knight?

Sith: Jedi!

Narrator: No, wait, I’m just the narrator!

Sith: It matters not who you are, narrator!

Now you die!

Narrator: (gasping) A little help here!

Jedi: (force pushes Sith away.  Jedi and Sith duel and narrator escapes.  Jedi defeats Sith.)

Duel of the Fates

 

Vibranium is Magic, Not Science

10 Directors We'd Like To See Take On Marvel's Black Panther | The Mary Sue

The latest Marvel movie, Black Panther, is out, and fans and critics are raving.  I saw the movie yesterday, and I also really enjoyed it.  The protagonists are likeable, and I cared about what happened to them.  The action was fun and exciting.  The villain was clearly a psychopath, but still sympathetic.  I’d been worried that the cgi would be too over the top, but it struck just the right balance.

I do take issue, however, with the claim that all the wonder-tech of Wakanda is “science.”  I’ll believe that vibranium is stronger than any other metal on Earth and yet still light.  I’ll even believe you can somehow make it into clothing.  But it ruins all suspension of disbelief to claim all the amazing creations of Wakanda are based on vibranium and is still science.  Vibranium is, after all, still just a metal.  If it really can do all the things Black Panther says it can, then it is not science.  It is magic.  I’m willing to believe vibranium really can do all these things as long as we’re being honest.

In case you aren’t convinced, here is a list of all the amazing things vibranium can do and is used to create according to Black Panther:

  • Deflect bullets
  • Absorb energy and unleash it later
  • Materialize a full suit out of a necklace
  • Spears that are basically hand-held energy cannons
  • Cloak a ship
  • Project illusions (after all, when people fly over Wakanda, they see a relatively barren landscape and shepherds)
  • Communication devices with perfect reception and unlimited range
  • Hovercraft technology
  • Holographic computers like Tony Stark’s
  • A device that can be attached to any vehicle that allows it to be controlled by remote from halfway across the world
  • Stabilize a dying person by sticking a ball of it into the wound
  • Fast healing.  Like, really fast.  As in, a bullet wound that should have been fatal, healed overnight.

I don’t care what you say, metal can not create fast healing.

Vibranium is magic.

Star Wars & CTR Scavenger Hunt

20171007_174854This last year, I helped my husband put together a Star Wars event for our church.  We had games for the kids, dinner, and a show.  One of the games was a scavenger hunt that I wrote.  I wrote two tracks of questions: harder Star Wars questions for the older kids, and easy CTR (choose the right) questions for the littles.  (You can totally use these for your own event, too!  If you do, tell me about it in the comments!)

Here are the questions:

1. Luke Skywalker was raised on what planet?

a. Naboo (go to TIE fighter)
b. Tatooine (go to lightsabers)
c. Coruscant (go to Wookie)

1. What does CTR stand for?

a. Choose to Read (go to room 10)
b. Choose the Right (go to room 2)
c. Chew the Rice (go to room 12)


2. What were Luke and his uncle farming?

a. Moisture (go to Boba Fett)
b. Wheat (go to Stormtrooper)
c. Sand (go to X-Wing)

2. Who is the prophet of the church?

a. Thomas S. Monson (go to room 5) (now it’s Russel M. Nelson!)
b. Dieter F. Uchtdorf (go to room 6)
c. Henry B. Eyring (go to room 8)


3. What color was Obi Wan Kenobi’s first lightsaber?

a. Yellow (go to R2-D2)
b. Blue (go to rebel symbol)
c. Green (go to empire symbol)

3. Your mom asked you to help do the dishes. What should you do?

a. Scream (go to room room 11)
b. Say you’ll do it later (go to room 2)
c. Help with the dishes (go to room 3)


4. Who was Obi Wan Kenobi’s master?

a. Qui Gon Jinn (go to BB-8)
b. Mace Windu (go to Yoda)
c. Yoda (go to Stormtrooper)

4. What did the Lord command Nephi to do?

a. Build a boat (go to room 1)
b. Build a tower (go to room 10)
c. Be nice to his brothers (go to room 9)


5. What species is Darth Maul?

a. Twi’lek (go to lightsabers)
b. Cathar (go to X-Wing)
c. Zabrak (go to Darth Vader)

5. How old do you have to be to get baptized?

a. 9 (go to room 4)
b. 7 (go to room 3)
c. 8 (go to room 7)


6. Who designed the Death Star?

a. Galen Erso (go to the gym)
b. Orson Krennic (go to the drinking fountain)
c. Grand Moff Tarkin (go the lobby)

6. How do we keep the Sabbath holy?

a. Go to church (go to the gym)
b. Go shopping (go to the lobby)
c. Go to the movies (go to the drinking fountain)


Answer key:

  1. B
  2. A
  3. C
  4. A
  5. C
  6. A

And at the end, kids earned a piece of candy.

 

Wonder Woman a Success by Copying Marvel *Spoiler alert*

Wonder Woman (2017) : Movie Review - Fantoosy.Com™

***Spoiler Alert!***

I’m going to be giving away most of the main plot points of Wonder Woman, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read this post.  Go watch the movie, then come back and read this post.

Wonder Woman has been receiving numerous accolades and high ratings from both fans and critics.  Everyone loves this movie.  I, too, went to see Captain America: the First Avenger…uh…I mean Wonder Woman.  I really enjoyed it, too.  In fact, I never really liked Wonder Woman before, but now I’m totally ready to buy some Wonder Woman merch.

But let’s not pretend this movie is more than it is.  It is not groundbreaking, mainly because it’s straight up copying the story line of Captain America: The First Avenger.

This isn’t meant to actually knock DC for copying Marvel.  DC and Marvel copy each other constantly.  That’s why they have so many characters that are basically copies of each other, like Deathstroke and Deadpool, Green Arrow and Hawkeye, Darkseid and Thanos, Black Cat and Catwoman, and, of course, the Justice League and the Avengers.

In Wonder Woman, the role of Captain America is split between Diana and Steve.  In this analysis, Diana is sometimes the hero and sometimes the love interest.  Nevertheless, the similarities are such that I’m amazed no one else seems to notice.  Here is my point-by-point analysis of the similarities between Wonder Woman and Captain America: The First Avenger:

  • The hero tries to join others in military training, but is stopped by an authority figure.  The hero succeeds in being accepted for training with the help of a mentor figure.
  • The mentor figure dies and the hero is unable to stop it.
  • The hero wants to join the war effort, is denied by an authority figure, and finally joins the war effort by going rogue.
  • The hero is idealistic, with the main goal of saving innocents and doing what is right no matter the circumstances, with emphasis on the high moral character of the hero.
  • The hero’s worldview is depicted as simplistic, but is ultimately correct.
  • The movie is a period world war piece.
  • The hero must overcome a supernatural power.
  • The hero is a captain named Steve.
  • The hero’s first big success: charges in and single-handedly (or nearly so) saves those who are helpless (POWs/village) from the Germans.
  • The hero assembles a rag-tag and multi-ethnic band for the mission.
  • The Big Bad is a power-hungry German with a psychotic inventor sidekick.
  • Psychotic inventor sidekick creates a super-weapon that the power-hungry German plans on using on the enemy.
  • Power-hungry German uses the super-weapon on his own people for standing in his way.
  • Great loss (Bucky/village they just saved) bolsters the hero’s determination to stop the Big Bad.
  • Rag-tag band storms fortress to destroy the super-weapon.
  • The super-weapon is loaded on a plane.  The hero manages to get on the plane and subdue the pilot, and faces a dilemma: how to dispose of the super-weapon.
  • The hero sacrifices himself to save innocents from the super-weapon, saving the day and leaving a mourning love interest.
  • Fast-forward to modern times: the hero waits and is ready for the next Big Bad.

There you have it.  Wonder Woman has the same story line as Captain America: The First Avenger.  Though, it wasn’t until the plane that I was ready to accuse DC of outright plagiarism.  Maybe we should just call Diana “Captain Amazon.”

And, just for fun:

re a pretty happy family don t tell how to do his job robin needs a ...

How My Fair Lady Should Have Ended

Image result for my fair lady

Here I go again, wading into truly controversial territory.  That’s me, fighting the good fight.

Eliza should have married Freddy.

Perhaps a little background is required, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the musical.  My Fair Lady was written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.  In it, Eliza Dolittle is a poor flower girl (meaning someone who sells flowers) with a thick Cockney accent, which in London means she’s little better than a beggar.  Henry Higgins is a phoneticist who encounters Eliza in the street.  On a dare from Colonel Pickering, Higgins decides to take on Eliza as a student, to transform her language and make her pass for a fine lady in London society.

He succeeds.  Meanwhile, Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a young socialite, has fallen in love with Eliza, and has professed his love to her.  In the end, however, Eliza decides to continue living with Henry Higgins.  Eliza made a serious error.  She should have married Freddy.  I shall now present the reasons why.

First off, Freddy is devoted to Eliza.  Granted, his song “On the Street Where You Live” is a bit of a stalker song, but Freddy seems much too innocent to really understand that.  Freddy is unashamed to admit to Eliza herself that he loves her.

On the other hand, Henry Higgins won’t even admit to himself that he cares about Eliza.  In his song “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” which he sings to himself, it is apparent that he does care about her, but he will only admit to being “accustomed” to her.  Ah, yes, that’s what every woman dreams of in a relationship with a man: to be with someone who is used to her.

Secondly, Freddy is kind and respectful, even deferential, to Eliza.  Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is rude, irascible, and tyrannical, and doesn’t appreciate the things she does for him.  He doesn’t recognize her achievements, claiming all success for himself, as seen in “You Did It.”  He excuses has appalling behavior by saying he treats all women that way.  Ultimately, Eliza is going to be happier with someone who treats her well.

Additionally, as Freddy’s wife, Eliza will have a place and future in society.  As a married woman, she will be respectable.  Living with Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is a very ambiguous position.  When he first introduced her to society, she was a charming novelty.  As others get to know her and her situation, however, she will not be so welcomed.  An unmarried woman, who is not a servant, living with an older man will not be a savory role in society.  Furthermore, Eliza is going to tire of being a novelty and will want a life with meaning, such as she could have as a wife and mother with Freddy.  I mean, Eliza isn’t going to sleep with Henry Higgins, is she?

You might say that Freddy will end up wasting his estate, and leave her for someone else.  We also have no evidence for that except for Henry Higgins’ assertion, and he’s jealous, so we can’t really trust what he has to say on the matter.

Finally, what will happen to Eliza when she grows old?  As Freddy’s wife, she would be entitled to an inheritance when he dies, and any sons she has would be obligated to care for her.  With Henry Higgins, she would have no official status.  Since she is an unmarried woman who is not part of his family, there is no assurance that she won’t be thrown out into the streets upon Henry Higgins’ death.

In summary, Freddy loves Eliza, treats her better, Eliza will have a better role in society with Freddy, and has more assurance of being taken care of in old age.

Also, Freddie is a much better singer.

Top 10 Disney Animated Musicals

If you are familiar with this blog, you know that I’m no stranger to controversy.  Today, however, I venture into truly contested territory: ranking Disney musicals.  Here, I rank them primarily based on the quality of their music as a whole, with story and animation considered only as tie-breakers.

These musicals were really hard for me to rank, because there are so many great Disney musicals, but if I’m going to make a top 10 list, then they have to be in some sort of order.

*Trigger Warning*

You may find I rank musicals lower or higher than you believe is warranted.  You may find that your favorite Disney musical has been snubbed.  You have been warned.

10. Tarzan – I put this one at the bottom since it’s not a proper musical, since the characters aren’t actually the ones doing the singing.  But Phil Collins and his songs are amazing, aren’t they?

9. Hunchback of Notre Dame – This is a seriously under-rated musical, both as a musical and as a movie, perhaps because it doesn’t have a princess or because it’s pretty dark for a kids’ movie.  If you want pathos, Hunchback has it in spades.  Granted, the singers aren’t as good as those in some of the other Disney musicals, but what songs has Disney ever created that are more emotive than “God Bless the Outcasts” and “Out There”?

8. Pocahontas -Pocahontas herself is clearly the star of this score, though the white settlers have some interesting songs.  This musical is also one of the few Disney musicals to get a memorable end credits song, “If I Never Knew You.”

7. Mulan – The songs are fresh and classic at the same time, with plenty of clever lyrics, as well.  The score has a good blend of silly and serious.  Plus, Donny Osmond.

6. The Little Mermaid – What teenager can’t relate to Ariel?  “Part of Your World” was my anthem.  Sebastian and his blues-y “Under The Sea” and “Kiss The Girl” are also crowd pleasers.

5. Frozen – Mind you, Frozen only made it onto this list on the strength of its music.  This movie was so overrated, and there are plenty of potholes in the story.  But you can’t deny that the music is really good, though fairly unoriginal.  The score is in a decidedly Broadway style.  Idina Menzel is always amazing, so Frozen was bound to sound good.  (Tangled is still a better movie!)

4. Aladdin – The score of Aladdin is playful, fun, and jazzy.  It has lots of clever wordplay, and is where I learned the phrase “nom do plume.”  Aladdin will also always be remembered, of course, for the beloved Robin Williams, who brought a lot of the fun to this musical.

3. Moana – These songs just keep moving.  You can’t help but be caught up in them.  The melodies are catchy and singable for the layperson but still complex enough to be interesting

2. Beauty and the Beast – (The original, not the shameless money grab that is the live-action remake) This is the classic Disney musical.  The songs are an integral part of the plot, both setting the scenes and showcasing character development.  Every subsequent Disney musical gets compared to this one, and for good reason.

1. Hercules – Hercules has everything you could want from a musical.  It has a stirring ballad, a sassy but poignant song from the leading lady, a funny character song, and an energetic and jazzy chorus.

What do you think the best Disney animated musicals are?  Ready…Set…Debate!

Upon reviewing my list, this article could also be appropriately titled “Alan Menken writes most of the best movie musicals.”

On a side note, here’s an interesting article about how Disney Saved Musicals for a New Generation.