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Adventures in [insert adventurous noun]

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Book Review: How To Invent Everything

I've been reading this book my wife got me for Christmas called, "How To Invent Everything," by Ryan North, and I can't put it down! It's hilarious and uncanny and so entertaining! It's hard to describe what it is. It's not a joke book, but more like a history book, or a scientific journal, with a sci-fi twist. You know, it occurs to me that it's like a perfectly distilled mixture of James Burke's Connections with Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, with a sprinkle of Jared Dia

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXXVII

To fly ... or to boat ...? That's a question I have now, based on a dear friend's suggestion. She points out that a boat is too slow, so that perhaps the Evil Snowman could use a different mode of transportation to escape from the North Pole with his loot. My first reaction to this was ... hmm ... does it really matter? I mean, it is fantasy after all, and we've somewhat established (via an introductory letter to the reader) that "elf time" runs parallel to, but at a different scale than,

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXXVI

Wow, still here, huh? I thought I was done with this thing. Man, oh, man, was I wrong! For the past week I not only proofread the book, but have spent a considerable amount of time doing some research on preparing query letters and identifying potential children's book publishers that could be interested in my manuscript. I've also written and re-written (and re-written yet again and again) my query letters. I even prepared a plot synopsis and chapter summary. Boy, that took a lot of ef

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXXV

It's been two weeks since I finished writing the story, and I finally took some time to read it start-to-finish and proofread it as a complete work. I was very pleasantly surprised to discovered that it all flowed nicely, and that it had a very compelling story arc which is easy to follow. It also surprised me how well the thing works: it starts as a whimsical story, then turns into a scary adventure, and ultimately into an epic triumph of good over evil, with presents and parties and lots an

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

CvW Grand Prizes

I just got a notice from the USPS that Fushek's special Christmas present has been delivered. I am also packing grips03's special present to ship early next week. I can't wait to hear from them what they think. I ran the Carol vs. The World Championship with my wife from 2012 to 2016 as a way to promote the game and foster camaraderie in the Intellivision community, and because I love Christmas and enjoy sharing the excitement with everyone. Eventually, my wife and I decided it would be bes

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

2018: The Year In Review

As we close the year 2018, I look back at my accomplishments. For a procrastinator of such high caliber as myself, the list doesn't look too bad. I did managed to finish some projects, and that is always a good thing. I also started a new blog and kept at it for several months with semi-regular posts. Not bad at all. Thinking back to my very first blog post, I find the following five items at the top of my "To-Do" list. These were all projects in which I was either actively engaged or pl

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXXIV

Well, I did it. I would not have believed it, but I was there, and I saw it, so I know it to be true. I did it. I finished the story. Phew! It now stands at a full 15 chapters plus the short epilogue, for a total of 83 pages. Here are some statistics, straight from the word processor: Words: 29,615 Pages: 91 Lines: 2,621 Paragraphs: 654 Sections: 3 Characters (excluding spaces): 137,171 That includes the entire manuscript, with the title and dedication pages, and a

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXXIII

I just finished writing chapter 14, the penultimate chapter to the story, where the final climactic confrontation between Carol and her foes takes place. I'm quite happy with it. I think I need to re-read it a few more times and tighten and polish the narrative a little here and there, but overall, I'm satisfied with how it turned out. It has all the elements I wanted -- not only the narrative elements of the interplay between the characters, but the tone and excitement of a final epic battl

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXXII

As I wrap up the ending of the story, it occurred to me that it may be a good idea to offer a brief introduction, like a short blurb describing the world to be found therein. Then I thought it may be even better to offer it as a short letter to the reader, inviting them to believe in the world they were about to enter. You see, to me, Christmas Carol's adventure is more than a children's bedtime story -- it's a way to relive the magic and wonder of your very own childhood memories of Christma

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXXI

Uh-oh! The unthinkable has happened. No, I did not play again with the fonts and the paragraph layout (although I did that last week just to see how it would flow in different formats). Also no, I have not finished the story yet (although that act should not really be unthinkable at this point, having written more than 13 whole chapters, plus change). No, no, it's the other thing that should not have happened any more: I added another chapter to the story. I am still writing Chapter 14

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXX

I can't believe I've made 30 entries on this topic since I started this blog. I probably wrote as many words on them as I did on the story itself! Talk about procrastination, with an emphasis on pro. Anyway, in this entry I have some good news for anybody still reading along (yeah, I know, 30 entries can get exhausting). Wait -- hold your horses, I'm not talking about that good news -- I'm not done with the story yet! However, I have some news which are almost as good: I completed Ch

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXIX

Phew! We're good. We can finally unclench now -- it's all good. As mentioned in the last entry on this topic, my grand-stepson step-grandson grandson-step -- Aargh! You know what? Let's call him Timmy. So, 9-year-old Timmy came to visit last week-end and he read the story in progress, which was up to 12 completed chapters by then. When he finished, he pronounced his final judgement. In his own words: "it's pretty cool." My wife immediately responded with, "so ... 'pretty cool'

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Cruisin' On Auto-Pilot - Part III

We will continue with the technical discussion on the Auto-Pilot soon, but first I want to talk about something I've come to regard as The Great Auto-Pilot Hack. It's the one change made to the Auto-Pilot framework which enabled some of its most creative uses. I liken it to having started out with a nice and sleek sports car, souping it up with some parts stolen from NASA, and eventually ending up with a space shuttle. Only that it wasn't a real space shuttle -- that's just a cool looking fi

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Cruisin' On Auto-Pilot - Part II

In our first part of this series on the P-Machinery Auto-Pilot, we reviewed the general circumstances that prompted its creation, how and why it was created, and an overall idea of the infrastructure that supports it. Central to that infrastructure was the concept of a Sprite Object Record, the data structure representing a game sprite, which is the very thing on which the Auto-Pilot operates. Now it's time to talk about the technical design of the Auto-Pilot itself and go a little deeper int

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Cruisin' On Auto-Pilot - Part I

I mentioned in a previous post that the Christmas Carol game employed a sequencing or scripting engine I created to handle cut-scenes, the so-called "Auto-Pilot." I though I'd give some details on that for those interested in such things. I'll try to not get too technical, but anybody curious enough to wander into this blog and wanting further information can just contact me directly and I'll share what I can. Background First, a bit of background. Back in the yonder days of 2008, when I

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXVIII

I have some exciting news. My grand-stepson step-grandson grandson-step step-son-grand-step step-step-grandson step-grandson-step grandson-step-squared ... the step-son of my step-daughter is paying us a visit next Friday. He will spend the night and has volunteered to read the Christmas Carol story for us and provide his feedback. I am excited (and a bit nervous) about this development. You see, he is 9 years old, and precisely the right target age I've been proclaiming for th

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXVII

Houston, we've had some progress. Yes, indeed we have. After several weeks of goofing off and doing other stuff (even my blog entries were about other topics during that time), I finally came back to the Christmas Carol story and wrote one more chapter. Well, before we celebrate some huge accomplishment, let me temper the mood by stating that the new chapter is merely four pages long, so not really that big a deal. What is a big deal, actually, is the fact that I am now only two more cha

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Caroling For Charity (For Children)

Along with user CharonPDX, I wish to thank Rick Reynolds for dedicating 25 hours of his precious life (for all life, and the short time afforded it on this Earth, is precious) to playing video games for the Extra Life charity event. As some of you may know, Extra Life is a fund-raising gaming marathon for various children hospitals and related charities, that runs for 24 hours. This year it was selected to run on the eve of the Daylight Saving Time switch, and so it added an extra hour.

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Custom Carol Conniptions

Following up on my last post, I did manage to finally fix and build the old Christmas Carol code. As expected, it only took me a couple of hours, maybe less, to get the code to assemble. That's with not fixing any of the old bugs -- I decided that for the sake of stability and expediency, I wouldn't mess with it. As explained in the previous post, the issues had to do with the assembler changing behaviour. Normally this would be a bad thing to do for something already in production and in

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Broken Carols & Frankencodes

I have no progress on the story. None at all. Yesterday I celebrated my 14th anniversary so most of the week has gone into planning that epic event. It came out nicely. It's good to go all out once in a while and celebrate the important things. Anyway, I committed myself to offering a customized version of the Christmas Carol game for an AtariAge member who will be playing it in one of those 25 hour gaming marathons for charity. It's for a children's hospital, so I thought it was very fi

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXVI

After last week's plot crisis, I've since re-read the updated parts a few times. As expected, I had to tighten up some things and polish the narrative a bit more; but it all seems to work and flow with the rest of the narrative. The thing that I am most proud of in this whole "Mountain Magic" episode is that it adds depth to the story without actually getting in the way. You see, there was a real danger of giving too much unduly emphasis to the mountain and its loss of potency, which would t

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXV

I recently received some feedback from my friend, the secret elf who's been reading the story, and he had some very interesting things to say. Among the praise and kudos (he says he is really enjoying the story so far), were some very sharp points on narrative devices that seem to have promise, but did not really work very well. The key argument was a question on what role does the Snowflake Gardens and its magical properties have in the story? Originally, as in the game, the Snowflake Garde

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXIV

Well, look at that, I added a new chapter. This morning I woke up with a clear idea of how to connect the remaining pieces of the plot in order to reach the exciting climax. So, I went through the final sections of my outline to make sure I had everything covered. I added a detailed description of the plot points and the story beats I wanted to cover. It was more of a "brain-dump" of the visions in my head. After all that, I thought to see how it all fits into the chapters, and noticed tha

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXIII

Not much progress to report. After adding the elf characters to the beginning of the story and editing a few things here and there, I completed the Snowflake Gardens chapter and started on the next. As predicted, I added yet another chapter to the story. For those keeping score, the outline now sits at 13 chapters plus an epilogue. I have a strong suspicion that the last two chapters will be turned into at least four, so that'll bring us to a grand total of 17 to 18 chapters plus the epilog

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

 

Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XXII

Following the advice of my 12 years-old nephew, I sprinkled the first few chapters with some elfy characters with proper names. It wasn't too hard, there were a few elves making an appearance already and performing some actions; they were just anonymous. I just added names to give them life. You know what? I think it worked. The narrative feels more lively and the North Pole less impersonal. Santa doesn't just work with a bunch of elves, but with actual living helpers with real lives and

DZ-Jay

DZ-Jay

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