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Jun 27, 2014

ChaCha's Guide to Monster Slaying

I don't use ChaCha much anymore because I have a smartphone, but it was useful (about 40% of the time) when I just had your standard Nokia brick to have quick answers to questions through texting. I compiled this list a couple of years ago after asking ChaCha how to kill certain beasts. The results, and helpfulness, of the responses varied, but here it is published for the first time.

ChaCha's Guide to Monster Slaying

Q: How do you kill a . . .

  A: Generally speaking, to kill a zombie you have to destroy the brain. Once you manage to kill the zombie it is also recommended that you burn the body.
  Comments: What about headless zombies like on ESIV: Oblivion?
   A: Killing a ninja is like wearing a blindfold and picking a needle out of a haystack. It won’t happen! They are ninjas!!
   Comments: A well-given answer. See www.askaninja.com.
   A: Sorry there is no published information on how to kill a pirate. I thing [sic] the answer should be maybe throwing him over board.
   Comments: Worst. Answer. Ever. Who hired that guy to work at ChaCha?
   A: Please don’t kill the gargoyles! They’re just there to protect you, they mean you no harm!
   Comments: That makes sense, but it was good to know just in case.
   A: One would kill a goblin in the same way you’d kill anything else.
   Comments: In other words, goblins do not have any special abilities or defenses.
   A: It has been said that trolls can be driven or destroyed by the mention of the name of Christ or by the symbol of the cross.
   Comments: It’s a good thing World of WarCraft takes place in Azeroth, or my main 68 Troll Mage would be easy prey against priests.
A: Killing an alien depends on the type of alien. Those in War of the Worlds were killed by the common cold germ.
Comments: Other ways are water, as in Signs, and of course artillery and lasers (everything else).
   A: You cannot kill a ghost.
  Comments: Fair enough.
   A: Tossing a bottle with a witch’s nail or hair in the fireplace will kill the witch.
  Comments: Very helpful information, though I’m not certain why the bottle is necessary.
   A: The trick is to kill them and kill them fast. Start off with an intercept to close distance and hamstring to prevent them
   Comments: Inconclusive and incomplete. Requires further investigation.
   A: Obtain pure silver or mercury and forge it into a weapon. Use weapon to attack the werewolf. When it’s disabled, remove the heart.
   Comments: I assume the last precaution is to prevent reincarnation, which I was not aware of in werewolves.
   A: There are many ways to kill a vampire. Here are a few. Put a stake to his heart. Break his neck or behead him.
  Comments: I find it interesting sunlight wasn’t mentioned. Probably obvious enough.
   A: According to Egyptian myth you would need to erase the mummies [sic] name from all history to kill it.
  Comments: A very interesting method, though I doubt there were mummies in Egyptian myth, since they were mostly just their buried kings at the time.
   A: You can kill an ogre with a sword, gun or any other type of weapon that can inflict mortal wounds.
   Comments: See Goblin.
  A: It is said that sunlight is the only thing that can kill a gremlin.
   Comments: Bright light! Bright light!
   A: Make a mixture of pitch, fat, and other flammable materials, stuff it into a calf’s skin, and offer the calf to the dragon.
   Comments: I tend to wonder exactly what this would do… A bomb would make sense, exploding the dragon from the inside out, but lighting its already burning stomach?
   A: The first step would be to perform an exorcism. If that doesn’t work try using a vacuum to suck it in.
   Comments: In other words, banishment may be the only answer. See Ghost.
   A: Slow down the time and keep attacking his legs. Keep using combos[.] By doing this, a large chunk of his life will be gone.
   Comments: And if you actually have to kill a real one? Do you think this is some kind of game??
   A: Not in Skamania County, Washington! It is illegal to kill Bigfoot punishable by a $1000 fine and up to 5 years in jail.
   Comments: After researching this, I found that the law was actually amended and it is now only a 1 year jail sentence. The means of killing one, in Skamania County or elsewhere, remains unknown.

Jun 24, 2014

Pretzel Lectern Essays, vol. 1

About six months ago, I designed and laid out this book for my print design course in college. I was going to get it printed professionally, but I got lazy and never got around to it. So instead, when my wife got some free Shutterfly book codes, I made it using their website. Worst. Site. Ever. I understand they're meant to make photo books and not text-based books like I wanted, but some of their features (or lack thereof) were inexcusable—no text styles, no automated page numbers . . . oh well.
At any rate, it was fun to practice laying out books. I got an old version of InDesign, so it'll be fun to be able to know how to lay out my own personal publications in the future, such as Alfred and the Cavern of Time (coming hopefully within a year from now, and it'll actually be purchasable, print on demand), my personal history (I'm going to start working on it soon), and perhaps transcriptions of my journals, old writing projects, or other texts for posterity.
The back cover's color scheme got really jacked up, and of course the spine ended up looking crappy. Oh well.

Even though I own the only copy of this book, I simply chose my favorite essays here on Pretzel Lectern as the main text inside. The essays included are

  • The Year
  • The Tale of the Phoenix Suns Coat
  • Creative Writing Inspiration
  • A Mowing Veteran Retires
  • The Final Age
  • The Magic of Disney (renamed "What Makes Disney So Incredible")

I originally had Quite Small Tales and The Planet "Dirt" included, but they didn't fit in the finished product. It did have a Foreword written by Robert Strobel, my cousin who is co-writing Alfred and the Cavern of Time and whose blog, The Whited Wall, is featured in the Affiliates section at your bottom right.

Anyway, good practice for publishing and laying out books, which is what I'll be doing professionally once I find a job and start building a résumé. It's that time of life.

Thanks for visiting Pretzel Lectern! If you want your own copy of this book (indeed, a better copy, since it was the original layout without Shutterfly's madness), here, have a free PDF.

Jun 22, 2014

Letter to Past Self

I did this just for the fun of it, but it made an interesting writing prompt. What would you write if you could send a one-page letter back in time to when you were eight? For mine, I made sure not to be too specific and ruin future events for me. I tried to stay vague on the details while still giving useful advice. I even made it unclear how many future siblings I would have. Anyway, I think a letter like this can say a lot about your personality, as well as your current situation and the events of your life in between.

* * *

To:     Austin Ballard         From:   Austin Ballard
        June 22, AD 1997             June 22, AD 2014

Dear Past Austin,
            How are you? I love you and miss you. I miss your innocence, your playfulness, and your creativity. I miss the world you live in, the people, the different cares and worries.
            Life is good for me right now. I just graduated from college in a degree that I will love to use for the rest of my life. I am married to a wonderful, beautiful woman. I know you don’t need to worry about this now, but this letter will give you solace a decade from now. At this time I also have two children—One a daughter who looks just like you.
            I want to thank you, Austin, for all that you do. Thank you for having fun, for making time to be creative and make good memories. Thank you for drawing and writing, and keeping the things you have created safe. Please continue to keep all of the things you write or make secure, in a box with a label on it warning others to keep it safe. Make sure if you move from that house that you don’t misplace a single tablet or drawing. This is even more important: Make sure that you don’t misplace digital files—sound files, maps you make, Word documents. Your littlest brother will be interested in games too, and he will inadvertently delete some files. Make a safe folder now and keep backups of everything. When you switch computers, transfer the files over. If you have issues, ask Scott or Dayne for help. Keep a personal journal whenever you get a chance, and write about experiences you have.
            Continue to play computer games. Play them together with your brother, side by side. This won’t last forever and you will miss it in future years. But don’t play too much. Stick to the time allotted you by your parents, and when your time is up, go play outside with your siblings. Cherish your time with them, all of them. Treat them nicely, especially your sister. There is no honor in teasing to the point of tears.
            Always choose the right. When you are in junior high school, you may be tempted by many things. Don’t give in. Never give in. Fight the temptations. Keep the friends you have now. Do not let popularity tear you away from them. Junior high is a dark phase that will end in only two short years. In high school, popularity ends and everyone is friends. Push forward and make it to that point and beyond.
            Don’t be jealous of others. You have much to be grateful for. Know that drawing is a choice gift for you and few others have it. Draw together with your brother and your other siblings. Draw comics and stories and ideas for computer games. Write ideas you have for stories down, and I promise to make use of them someday.
            Above all, know that you are precious. You are significant. You are destined for great works. Never forget this. There is much in store for you. Lastly, cherish the simpler times. Times are coming when networks , cell phones, and the internet will take over people’s lives, even the ones of those you love. Form relationships with them now so they can remain strong.
            Everything will turn out right. No matter how hard—or wonderful—experiences are, they will soon be over. Enjoy them. Hold them close as choice experiences that you will relate to years later. Stay strong. Have honor. Cherish your time as a child. When you grow up, take risks. Some will be mistakes, but others will give you priceless experience.
            Yours wistfully,
                        Future Austin

P.S. Tell Mom to buy twelve bottles of Sprite Remix and bury them in a box in the backyard. Mark the spot on a map and keep it safe in the box I mentioned earlier.

Jun 15, 2014

Comic: Fatherhood

In honor of Father's Day, I present to you a comic. 

I personally believe that God is literally our father, and such a knowledge can help us trust in Him even though He may not make sense sometimes. It can also give us insight on how to be good parents ourselves—God is neither too lenient nor too strict for us. His only interest is in teaching us the correct way, letting us choose for ourselves, and honoring our choice with relevant consequences.

Jun 12, 2014

WarCraft III Map Movie #7: The Odyssey

I really wish I could be posting more varied projects. I'm working fairly consistently on Knight Guy, but I'm hoping another project will come up to work on soon.
Anyway, I made this particular map movie for a school project in my junior high Mythology class. I'm really embarrassed at how awful and lazy I was on the scenery, but of course the whole class was amazed at how I did it and stuff. Good times.