More busy times recently, this is always a wild time of year, what with the end of summer and then the beginning of fall and back to school. Anyways, the day after my last blog we headed up north to my buddy’s cottage just outside of Huntsville. James and our friends’ two boys had a lot of fun playing around, while the older “boys” made sure to get out on the boat often, to partake of our tobacco products, as well as get a bit tipsy out on the porch (and when I mean a bit, I mean a lot). When the good times were over we made a stop in Toronto on the way home, overnighting at the InterContinental . . . and they gave us a way fancier room than we booked! The day we arrived we went and showed James the Skydome, where the Blue Jays play, and of course we had a look at the CN Tower. We capped the night off with a meal at Lone Star, but my plan to get cheap baseball tickets ($10 each!) was vetoed by the family.
The next morning we got up early and went to the new Ripley’s Aquarium, which is in the same plaza with Skydome and the CN Tower. James has always been a big fan of life under the sea, ever since he first watched Finding Nemo as a youngster, so he was pretty pumped for this visit! And the aquarium didn’t disappoint, they had a ton of stuff there, but the big attraction for everybody was of course Dangerous Lagoon, where the sharks, stingrays, sawfish, etc. all hung out. We had the rest of that week off work as our last batch of holidays for the summer, so when we got home we just bummed around home and the city for the most part. We did go to the drive in one night, where I got to re-watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy, both of which I reviewed earlier in the summer after seeing them in theatres. Then, on the Labour Day long weekend we hosted a pool party and fortunately got some great weather. We had a set of James’ cousins over, as well as some long-time family friends. We ate some good food, swam a lot, drank a solid amount of booze, and James loved playing in bouncy castle with Dylan, McKenna, Hazel and Felix.
As the following week arrived it was back to reality unfortunately. Tuesday brought the first day of school, so we took the day off as we always do, getting James settled in for his grade two experience. He had a great first week of school, playing with some old friends and gaining some new ones, and we are very pleased with who he got as his teacher this year. The week ended with a bit of a bang though, as on Friday night a spot of weather rolled in. There was a heat advisory in effect, and I believe it got up around 40 degrees, which was no problem. But Friday night around 7pm, as I was doing dishes and looking out the kitchen window on our backyard, with the pool and all the nice trees and what not, it suddenly got pitch black . . . like midnight black. The wind began to stir the massive willow out in the ravine behind our house, and just a few seconds later all the smaller trees around it were basically sideways! I sent mrs. darthcobain17 and James down to the basement (which is a lot for me, as I’m let’s say . . . not very safety conscious) while I headed outside to investigate, make sure all the downspouts hadn’t blown off, etc. As I was getting ready to head outside I noticed a lot of lights out in the road in front of our house. When I checked it out traffic was all backed up as one of our trees in the front yard got half of it blown right off, so it was lying out in the street! And right across the road the people’s tree in front of their house was ripped right out of the ground and looked like it had basically fallen right on their house, but I think I heard that it had just missed it. Overall everything was OK enough at our house at this point though. After the massive winds the rain began to come, and boy how it came. I spent a lot of the night checking our basements and roof for water leakage, and around midnight I went out to skim the pool, which had a veritable shit load of leaves in it. Lucky I did too, because there was so much rain the water level had gone up at least 4 inches and the blasted thing was close to overflowing! I also gave it a long backwash while I was out there skimming, to bring the water level under control. It rained long in to the night but in the morning things had cleared up enough, everybody was out there cleaning up the mess. The weather experts were debating whether it was an actual tornado that had briefly touched down, or instead what they call a “downburst”, but for about a half kilometer just along our street (nowhere else in the city) trees were uprooted, houses were damaged, it was a bit of a mess. Now they’re saying it was just super high winds, but I don’t believe it because if that was the case the damage would have been more widespread, not so localized to one small, concentrated area. Our damage wasn’t too bad. I had a ton of debris to clean up, the tree out front was halved (the rest of which the city has since cut down), and we also had a small tree in the backyard come down on the fence, but there was no damage to the fence and I was able to cut the tree up with my handsaw, so that was all taken care of. Other than that it was just a cleaning of the pool and a bit of tidying up, but our little stretch of the street sure looks a lot different now with many of the trees missing!
Lucky all of that happened on the Friday and not the Saturday, as this past weekend we went down to Hamilton to visit our friends Megan and Johnny. Before seeing them though, we took James and the mother in law to the Smithville Fair (small town craziness, oh there were some sights to behold). Jimmer rode a ton of rides, we ate much fair food (the Opa Fries were fantastic!), and of course James had to win a prize before we left. Anyhoo, later on during the night for adult time, other friends were having one last party on their back deck as they are moving soon, so we all went over there and hit the party up! Johnny and I left a bit early as a couple of his friends were playing a gig at a bar called the Corktown, so we went and got even more drunk while listening to some rock n’ roll. On the Sunday we went out for a massive breakfast (it’s actually called the “Humongous Breakfast” on the menu) before watching some TV while our beer addled brains slowly came back online. On our way home we picked up James and went for an early dinner with the mother in law at Lone Star, where she gave me my birthday present (my birthday actually took place this week). Once we got home we prepped for another work/school week, but I was disappointed when I lost a few days of biking. I went to the shed on Monday morning to find my back tire flat! Fuck. After finally replacing the tires I was able to get a couple days in, here at the end of the week. On Wednesday night we went to my parents’ house to celebrate my birthday . . . with the usual taco dinner feast! Ooooh baby, that’s one of my favourite nights of the year. Anyhoo, despite being so god damned busy, as you can see above, I was able to get a surprising amount of action in along the way. And it unfolded as such . . .
1) On MLB 2K11 I completed the next series of my season, which saw us play host to the Texas Rangers for a four game set. The series went down as follows: won vs. Texas 5-2, lost vs. Texas 2-1 (10 innings), won vs. Texas 5-4 (10 innings) & won vs. Texas 11-3. That was a pretty good bunch of games, very close!
2) After many months off James and I finally got back to Mega Man 9, and boy did we make some serious progress! Our first success came when we went after Magma Man. His level began in an underground cavern where we had to jump lava pools while engaging (and sometimes avoiding) different types of robots, most of which used fire as a weapon. We climbed some ladders and soon had to avoid the massive lava flows these large pump like machines were blasting through the area. Eventually Mega Man encountered a dragon made of fire, but we destroyed it pretty easily. After moving on and blasting more robots there was a long sequence of lava flows we had to avoid before coming to the boss chamber, where we confronted Magma Man. It was a tough battle with just the Mega Buster as our best weapon of choice, but we destroyed him and in doing so, earned ourselves the Magma Bazooka weapon! Next up we selected Jewel Man. In an underground mine type of environment we made our way through a jewel encrusted landscape, taking out squirrels in carts throwing acorns at us, cave spiders, turrets, as well as these small green rockets that look like money. After making our way downwards for a short while we came to a sequence of swinging platforms that led to the unofficial halfway boss, a room full of living rocks that fell from the ceiling! After blasting them to kingdom come we passed through some chasms we had to jump across, followed by more swinging platforms that were booby trapped with nearby spike traps. Soon after we dispatched a sequence of the same enemies we found at the start of the level, before coming to Jewel Man’s boss chamber. Using our previously acquired Black Hole Bomb weapon (thanks, Galaxy Man!) he was no challenge at all, and upon destroying him we received the Jewel Satellite weapon. Our next victim happened to be Splash Woman, the first female Mega Man boss I can ever remember seeing. Kicking things off under the sea, we made our way downwards through some sort of metal structure, taking on robotic octopi and avoiding mines. Before long we dropped down in to the depths far below, avoiding spike traps as we fell! Once at the bottom of our fall we forged ahead, battling more octopi, charging fish and bullet launching bots, before coming to a more open area. Bubbles were streaming from the ground here, so we rode them upwards and eventually got off in another section of this structure. After battling more enemies we soon came to a sequence of three rooms, each of which had a very trick jumping puzzle using moving platforms over spike traps, to cause all sorts of confusion! We exited these rooms near the surface, and after a few last nagging enemies came to the boss chamber. Going old school and using the Mega Buster once again, we took her down and in doing so earned the Laser Trident weapon. Plug Man was next on our list of suspects. We began in an industrial, robotic type of facility where we jumped along platforms over pits of spikes, avoiding the small floating robots and raging electrical charges that were trying to impede our progress. Eventually we came to a darkened area where Mega Man was harassed by a clone of himself wearing all black . . . is it, Nega Man!? While dealing with him we had to navigate many sequences of disappearing and reappearing platforms, having to get our timing just right lest we plunge in to the depths below. After dispatching a few more floating robots we came to Plug Man’s boss chamber where we equipped the Jewel Satellite weapon, which took him down easy peasy! For this victory we obtained the Plug Ball weapon. Tornado Man came next, and his level began in a wide open area that saw us have to climb some ladders, dealing with hard hat enemies and robots attached to parachutes along the way. Afterwards we navigated a long sequences of spinning, magnetic platforms that rotated and would turn Mega Man around and upside down in a circle. Once that trial was over we reached a rooftop and had to jump across some platforms, but making the task a lot harder was the fact that some stormy, windy weather blew in. Afterwards, back in the safety of a building, we passed through some ice chamber, dispatching more enemies as we went, before coming to another long series of jumps, this time making them in to the wind. At the end of it though was Tornado Man’s boss chamber, and for the occasion I equipped the Plug Ball weapon. It made short work of him, and for the victory we earned the Tornado Blow weapon. The last boss we attempted was Hornet Man, his level began in a grassy, more natural type of setting. As we set out we had to dispatch squirrel carts and potted plants that shot missiles at us. Soon ascending some ladders we avoided pruning shears and jumped some spike traps, before coming to an area we had to descend by harassing some nearby turrets so they’d blow the floors out for us! Afterwards the halfway boss appeared, a flower that would suddenly pop up on any given platform and shoot it’s petals at Mega Man. After sending it to plant hell we navigated a long series of platforms that unfurled for a short time after being shot, soon afterwards descending and battling more of the same enemies we fought earlier in the level. Eventually we came to Hornet Man’s boss chamber, to engage him we equipped the Magma Bazooka. It made short work of poor old Hornet Man, and for the win we received the Hornet Chaser weapon as our prize! At this point that meant that all eight bosses had been defeated, as we had previously destroyed Galaxy Man and Concrete Man quite a long time ago. Next up, the long and winding journey through Dr. Wily’s fortress!
3) As for Lego: Lord of the Rings, it is now complete! At least for my initial run through of the game anyways. This time around I sat down and completed the last three levels of the game, which went as so: “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” (unlocked the King Theoden, Eowyn [Dernhelm], and Merry [Rohirrim Squire] characters, found 2/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 1 Silver Brick [level completion]), “The Black Gate” (unlocked the Aragorn [Gondor Armor] and Pippin [Gondor Armor] characters, and earned 1 Silver Brick [level completion]) & “Mount Doom” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the Frodo [Weary], Sam [Weary], and Aragorn [Royal Armor] characters, found 2/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [level completion and status achievement]). Also, while wandering the game hub I found 1 Silver Brick as well as a tablet. So that’s it for the game, but now the usual process begins after a first run through of any Lego game . . . the mop up operation! I now need to go back through the game and collect all the items I missed the first time around. I wonder how long this is going to take . . . ?
4) I played the next three games of my season on NHL ’04, which is pretty meager, but it is what it is! The results are as follows: won vs. Tampa Bay 14-2, won @ Washington 14-5 & won vs. Montreal 11-3.
5) Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters is getting closer and closer to being done, as I polished off three more levels this time around! To start off I went back to Mogo and checked out what was going on there. Soon after my arrival I was contacted by Arisia, who said the planet was badly weakened and now the Manhunters were back to finish the job. She tasked me with destroying any power sources our enemies could use to restart their destructive beam, and once done with that, to acquire the planet’s data core. So I set out and explored Mogo, destroying many Manhunter soldiers and robotic creations before hacking a computer. After hacking a couple more soon afterwards, I got the call to hurry and find Arisia, as I needed to protect her. She was in possession of the data core and the Manhunters were coming at her. Naturally I destroyed them all so she could safely fly the data core back to Oa! Next I headed back to Ranx where the Lanterns’ contact, Von Daggle, immediately got in touch with me. He informed me that some space pirates have the codes he needs to escape the planet, which he had planned to do during my last visit to the planet when I caused a major . . . kerfuffle, let’s say. In an effort to help him out I hit Ranx’s industrial streets and began slagging Manhunters as well as more organic looking soldiers and creatures, having to destroy three Trash Tanks in the process. I was then ordered to protect Von Daggle, so I took off in pursuit of him and eventually found him in the midst of trying to extract the planet’s data core! I fended off all manner of motley beast, allowing Von Daggle to slip away and head to Oa with the merchandise. The last planet I got to was Ovacron 6, where I received a recorded message from Tomar-Re informing me that the Manhunters had him pinned down, so he required backup. I took off to find him, eliminating all resistance along the way. During my flight I was tasked with hacking some lava routing machines, and I did so to three of them, before turning my attention back to Tomar-Re. I eventually found him, captured and imprisoned inside of some strange robot. I beat the thing down so Tomar could escape and head to Oa with the data core. More to come, we’re getting there!
6) Another Lego game that has now been completed on it’s initial run through is Lego: The Hobbit. And boy that was a lot of work, as there were a ton of levels left to play! Too many to count, almost. Anyways, here are all the levels that fell to my thumbs and fingers this time around: “Mirkwood” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Gundabad Orc [Wig] character), “Bilbo And The Ring” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Tauriel and Thranduil characters), “The Spawn of Dol Goldur” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Legolas Greenleaf character), “Bilbo’s Escape Plan” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Ori [Pants] character), “Arachnophobia” (completed 1/1 challenge), “The Elven Gate” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Bifur [Pants] character), “Mirkwood River” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Dwalin [Pants] and Kili [Pants] characters, as well as the Red Brick [Musical Attacks extra]), “The Armory” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Balin [Armor] character), “Kingsfoil” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Tauriel [Lake-town] character, as well as the Red Brick [Collectible Detector extra]), “Bolg” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bolg character), “The High Fells Tomb” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bard the Bowman [Lake-town] character, as well as the Red Brick [Resource Booster extra]), “Dol Goldur” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Thorin [Armor] character), “Commander of Legions” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Azog character), “The Enemy” (completed 6/10 challenges, unlocking the Balin [Lake-town] character), “Durin’s Day” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Mountain] character), “Smaug’s Lair” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Fili [Armor] and Saruman characters) & “Thorin’s Revenge” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Kili [Armor] and Ringwraith characters, as well as the Red Brick [Invincibility extra]). Another mop up operation be needed here!
7) Some progress was made on Trackmania: Build to Race, although the pace has slowed a bit as the races are getting harder. Starting off play this time around I was able to win the following races, earning gold medals on all of them: “Stadium B1”, Stadium B2”, “Stadium B3”, “Stadium B4”, “Stadium B5”, “Island B1” & “Island B2”. At this point the gold medals stopped flowing so freely, here is how the rest of my play went: “Island B3” (third place, bronze medal), “Island B4” (first place, gold medal), “Island B5” (first place, gold medal as well as the oh so rare author medal), “Desert B1” (first place, gold medal), “Desert B2” (second place, silver medal), “Desert B3” (first place, gold medal), “Desert B4” (first place, gold medal) & “Desert B5” (third place, bronze medal). It gettin’ hot in hur!!
8) Another series of races is down on Mario Kart 7, this time around I played the “Grand Prix” mode on the 100 c.c. class. First up was the “Mushroom Cup” circuit. There I won all four of the races (using my Mii) including “Toad Circuit”, “Daisy Hills”, “Cheep Cheep Lagoon” & “Shy Guy Bazaar”. Of course I won the overall competition, with a total of 40 points. I then participated in the “Flower Cup” series, using Luigi as my racer. I won all of the races with the exception of the third, where I placed second. Said races included “Wuhu Loop”, “Mario Circuit”, “Music Park” & “Rock Rock Mountain”. I finished with 38 points, again winning the overall competition. For the “Star Cup” I used Princess Peach as my racer and once more I won all races except the third, where I placed second. These races included “Piranha Plant Slide”, “Wario Shipyard”, “Neo Bowser City” & “Maka Wuhu”. I finished with 38 points, a winning sum. Bowser was my racer of choice for the “Special Cup”, there I won the middle two races, while placing second in both the first and last races. These races included “DK Jungle”, “Rosalina’s Ice World”, “Bowser’s Castle” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 36 total points, good enough for another victory. Next up came the “Shell Cup”, where I used a Koopa Troopa to steer my rig around the tracks. I won all four races here, which included “Luigi Raceway”, “Bowser Castle 1”, “Mushroom Gorge” & “Luigi’s Mansion”. I finished with 40 points and guaranteed the win! For the “Banana Cup” I raced with Yoshi and was able to win every race, which included “Koopa Beach”, “Mario Circuit 2”, “Coconut Mall” & “Waluigi Pinball”. Once again I finished first overall with 40 total points. Mario navigated me through the “Leaf Cup”, where I was able to win the first two races. My performance sagged a bit afterwards though, as I finished second in the third race and then third in the last race. The races in question were “Kalimari Desert”, “DK Pass”, “Daisy Cruiser” & “Maple Treeway”. My 34 points were still enough for the overall victory though! The final circuit was the “Lightning Cup”, and I chose Donkey Kong as my driver. I started off poorly with a fourth and second place finish respectively, but picked up my socks afterwards, winning the last two races. These races included “Koopa Cape”, “Dino Dino Jungle”, “Airship Fortress” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 33 points, which was fortunately enough for the victory. Next up I’ve got to do all of this again . . . but on the hard level!
9) Lastly, with us getting kind of bogged down on Mega Man 9, what with Wily’s fortress in front of us, we decided to start on another game . . . and that would be Mega Man 10! So far we’ve defeated just the first two levels, deciding to start with Sheep Man. His level was a very digital looking type of area (binary!!), starting out we had to destroy these robot enemies that look like the mouse arrow you see on computer screens, all while navigating platforms that disappeared a couple seconds after you step on them. Eventually heading downwards we combated more robotic foes and also had to navigate series’ of platforms that were activated after Mega Man ran on a nearby treadmill for a little while. We soon came to the halfway boss, a digital octopus that shot jellyfish at us! We wasted him easily enough though and kept on heading downwards, engaging more bots. After ascending some areas using ladders, we came to a sequence of rooms we had to traverse using platforms that were continually disappearing and then reappearing. We then just had to head downwards a little bit, battling more of the collected enemies faced so far, before finally arriving at Sheep Man’s boss chamber! We took the beast down and for our efforts earned the Thunder Wool weapon. Our second victory was over Pump Man. His level began in an underground sewer type of area, as we trudged through the sludge we took on some hard hats and cave spiders, as well as these bots that tried to plug the free flowing drain pipes and bar our progress. Moving onwards and downwards we came to an area of more open water, where we had to jump across some chasms against the forces of the water draining down on us from above. While doing so we engaged new shrimp bots, before finally dropping down a very deep chasm. Once at the bottom we fought the constant current running through the place, using bubbles to transport us safely along our way, avoiding the deadly spike traps that were all around us. We finally began ascending some ladders, encountering scores of the same enemies and using more bubbles to avoid the spike traps, before coming to Pump Man’s boss chamber. We took him down ultra-easy using the Thunder Wool weapon, and for doing so earned ourselves the Water Shield weapon! Six more to come!
“NNGRR” - Not long after getting home from our cottage/Toronto escapades, James and I sat down to finally watch The Avengers . . . and boy was it good! The events kick off focusing on a mystical item known as the Tesseract, which is a source of tremendous power that can also open gateways between different worlds. Nick Fury, along with his top agents Maria Hill and Phil Coulson, are in possession of this artifact and working for S.H.I.E.L.D., an agency tasked with taking care of the more . . . unusual problems the Earth may face. Nick and his aides have been called in by the scientists working on the Tesseract because it has been expending energy all on it’s own, and it’s starting to act up more and more as days go by. Little does S.H.I.E.L.D. know that it’s because on the other end of the Tesseract, the mischievous Asgardian god Loki has summoned an army of Chitauri to aid him in taking over the planet! Soon enough Loki shows himself and destroys the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, taking the Tesseract with him, along with the super hero Hawkeye and the top scientist working on the Tesseract, brainwashing them with his mystical powers. At this point Fury knows he’s in over his head and he instigates a plan dubbed “Avengers”, which never saw the light of day . . . until now! The Avengers program was in theory supposed to bring a handful of super humans together as a team, and as a combined unit help repel the more serious dangers brought against mankind. And this scenario definitely fits the bill! In the end Fury, along with one of his already signed on super heroes, Black Widow, recruit Iron Man, Captain America, and a reluctant Bruce Banner. Thor even ends up on the team after coming after Loki on Asgard’s behalf, and then sorting out some . . . disagreements, with Iron Man. Needless to say the going isn’t smooth at first as there are a bunch of egos involved, nobody really trusts each other, and they all feel as though Fury isn’t telling them the whole truth. However, as the danger Loki presents becomes more and more heinous, the Avengers must cast aside their doubts and work as a well-oiled machine. Can this collection of super beings get it together in time though, to defeat Loki and the beginnings of a Chitauri invasion, or will they show up to the dance a little too late? This movie is right up there with Guardians of the Galaxy as my favourite Marvel movie, it was so good! The story behind it, the characters involved and the banter between them, the amazing action sequences, the talented actors involved, and just the overall high quality of the film make it just a joy to watch. James loved it too, especially the antics of the Hulk when he got smashing people. So good, can’t wait for the next one!
A couple days after watching Avengers I viewed The Punisher, by myself of course! The main character in this film is Frank Castle, a special ops FBI agent who is running one last mission before his retirement. Said mission is to expose an illegal weapons ring, which he does so successfully. But during the course of the mission a shady young man involved in the deal, Bobby Saint, is shot and killed. Unfortunately Bobby is the son of Howard Saint, a Tampa Bay crime boss, so Howard and his wife Livia demand vengeance. The pair soon find out Castle’s true identity after blackmailing one of his former team members at the FBI. Tragedy strikes not long afterwards, when at his dad’s house in Puerto Rico, Frank’s unknown enemies strike. Frank’s father is hosting a family reunion so in an act of extreme violence his entire family is suddenly wiped out, he loses absolutely everything. Frank himself is gravely wounded but is nursed back to health by a local medicine man. Taking a black t-shirt with a white skull graphic on the front of it back to Tampa, his son’s last gift to him, Frank dubs himself The Punisher and sets about scheming the downfall of the entire Saint clan. Renting a run-down apartment with a few low brow but essentially good neighbours, Frank puts his plans in motion. Using his experience as a special ops agent, and fueled by his burning anger, he learns everything he can about the Saint family and then puts his plot in to action. And The Punisher doesn’t simply kill those he wants revenge against, he subtly manipulates them to turn on each other. In the end he even gets Howard Saint to kill his own wife and his right hand man, Quentin Glass, after laying evidence that they were having an affair! Along the way Frank is tested though, as a couple of high profile assassins are sent after him and he barely escapes each encounter. In the end all that is left to do is assault Saint’s place of business, the Saints & Sinners club, and he does so in grandiose fashion! But with the numbers not at all in his favour will The Punisher destroy himself in the process of gaining justice, or will he live to fight another day? This movie was pretty gritty, I love how badass and vicious The Punisher becomes when he sets out to destroy the Saint family, and especially the way in which he does so! I’d never heard of Thomas Jane before, but I really liked him in this role. I’m actually surprised they haven’t done more with this character . . .
At the end of last week I finished reading one of my latest books, called Star Wars: Kenobi. This story picks up just after Obi-Wan arrives on Tatooine with an infantile Luke Skywalker in tow. After arriving on the planet and searching out the Lars family, where he leaves Luke in the care of Owen and Beru, he then begins the long process of watching over Luke from afar, protecting the galaxy’s last hope for resisting and ultimately defeating the evil Empire. To properly do so though, Obi-Wan must outfit his new home with the essentials for desert living, and to this end he visits the closest outpost where he can purchase the supplies he needs, a store called Dannar’s Claim. There Ben meets the proprietor, Annileen Calwell, as well as her children and unofficial business partner, Orrin Gault. Annileen is widowed by her former husband Dannar, who’s best friend was Orrin. Orrin is a moisture farmer and blowhard, and his latest baby is the Settler’s Call, an set up that will alert any available forces in the area to a Tusken Raider attack at the moisture farms who have signed up and contribute to the Settler’s Call fund. Not wanting to draw too much attention to himself though, Ben tries to distance himself from this bunch, despite taking a bit of an interest in Annileen. This becomes impossible when one day Ben is forced to save Annileen’s daughter, Kallie, from killing herself atop a raging Dewback! Unnoticed by the participants is Plug-Eye, a Tusken warlord who witnesses Ben use his Force powers in the rescue and mistakenly assumes the powers were generated by Annileen. Plug-Eye then develops plans to “deal” with Annileen, as only Tuskens can. As Ben starts to become a more common visitor to the Claim, trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes, and Orrin is none too happy about his presence. It isn’t long though before we find out that Orrin is a fraud. He is heavily in debt to both the bank and Jabba the Hutt, and a lot of the raids led by Tuskens have actually been Orrin and his closest friends in disguise, scaring people in to signing up for the Settler’s Call fund! After a botched scare job at Wyle Ulbreck’s moisture farm (thanks to Obi-Wan’s interference) Orrin returns to the Claim where he informs Annileen that her son Jabe was killed in the raid, and he also admits that he is heavily in debt. Annileen also learns that Orrin’s recent request to marry him wasn’t out of love, but about convenience . . . and the large collection of credits she’s been saving up from her store that could help bail him out of trouble! Annileen is disgusted and wants nothing to do with Orrin, and that is when he comes up with one last desperate plan, to blame all the latest messes on Kenobi and hopefully dig himself out of financial trouble in the process. However, as is to be expected Obi-Wan is one step ahead of Orrin, and after outlining a plan to Annileen to get them off world and stop Orrin from doing anything drastic, the action all culminates out in the Jundland Wastes when the Tatooine settlers, Tusken Raiders, Jabba’s henchmen, and Ben Kenobi all face off in a high speed, complicated game of chess! And if I were a tiny Toydarian named Watto . . . I’d be betting heavily on Kenobi!! This was a very cool read, it’s nice to have a bit of back story on the origins of Obi-Wan’s many years on Tatooine watching over Luke. A lot is learned about not only Obi-Wan, but also about the ways of the Tusken Raiders. I highly recommend this book for any Star Wars fan.
This past weekend I finished watching the Darkwing Duck volume 2 DVD set, which contains 27 more episodes from this excellent Disney cartoon circa the early 1990’s! If you’re not familiar with this series I gave a bit of an overview of it when I reviewed volume 1 back in my July 15, 2014 blog. This volume just kept up in the same fashion as the first, following the exploits of crime fighter Darkwing Duck as he defends his home town of St. Canard against the evil schemes of his most hated enemies. In the process I learned that the episodes were in no particular order, as there were origin stories on one of Darkwing’s main enemies, The Liquidator, and also on his love interest, Morgana, both of whom appeared in a number of episodes of the first volume. My favourite episode was the last one in the collection, when Darkwing takes over the training duties of future agents for S.H.U.S.H., prompting the resignation of Grizzlikof. Anyhoo, the Disney animation is great, the action is plenty, and of course there is lots of humour thrown in to the mix. Another great DVD set to add to the library!
Just last night I finished reading a book I was very excited to find at Chapters a short while ago, called Alien: Out of the Shadows!! Awww yeah, I love the Alien series, so intense! Anyways, this book links events between the first two movies of the series, and begins by following the crew of the mining ship Marion, stationed in orbit above planet LV178. They are mining Trimonite, the hardest substance known to man, which is very valuable. However, what they also find buried deep in the mine is a malevolent species of alien that is bent on the humans’ destruction! A couple of drop ships try to make it back to the Marion, but with the aliens on board only one manages to dock safely (although their crew is entirely wiped out). The other drop ship collides with the Marion and does major damage, causing the ship to begin a slow descent that will eventually take it in to LV178’s atmosphere and ultimately crash land on the planet below. With the Marion’s captain killed in the drop ship’s collision, next in command is Chris Hooper, known by “Hoop” to his colleagues. His immediate plan of action is to seal off all of the hangar bays, to prevent the aliens from getting loose aboard their ship, before settling in and assessing the damage to the Marion and seeing if they can get it fixed. However, there isn’t much that can be done and for a couple months the remaining crew live aboard the ship, trying to come up with an alternative plan of action. Soon a special visitor arrives. Ellen Ripley, in hypersleep aboard her shuttle for 37 years, auto docks with the Marion and upon waking up, explains to them what happened all those years ago with the Alien, while trying to return to Earth with her crew aboard their ship, the Nostromo (the evil android Ash is who led Ripley to the doomed Marion, although he died in Alien, some of his presence remained within her ship’s computer). Armed with this new knowledge Hoop and his gang come up with a plan, although it’s a desperate one. They need to take the remaining drop ship (the one infested with Aliens, of course!) down to the surface of the planet, enter the mine and grab fuel cells for Ripley’s shuttle Narcissus, then return to the Marion and stock the shuttle with supplies, before blasting off for Earth and hoping they get picked up somewhere along the way . . . for the journey could take many, many years to complete. The plan starts off well enough, but when the group gets down in to the mine they make an ancient discovery that astounds them, but it also delays them and alters their ultimate course of action . . . for now they are being pursued, herded even. Armed with only plasma torches, spray guns and charge thumpers to defend themselves, it seems the odds are stacked very much against them. But Ripley is a survivor and Hoop has shown some real mettle, will anybody manage to survive this doomed mission, or will the Aliens use them all as birthing hosts and add even more to their numbers!? Ever since I saw the first Alien movies as a kid I’ve been fascinated with this series, it’s so gritty and so god damned frightening! So to find a book series available that manages to capture that same feeling for me, this is all very exciting. This is a great read for any fan of sci-fi, but if you enjoy Alien you are going to absolutely love this book. So good!
Recently I’ve been listening to a CD I picked up not too long ago, which happens to be a Greatest Hits package from The Who! Much like my recent Beatles review, if you haven’t heard of The Who you’d better book some surgery to have your head removed from your ass. This band formed around 1964 in the town of Acton (London), England, and consisted of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwhistle, and Keith Moon. Their music was very much Beatles-esque, especially in the early years, until they began to get a bit heavier later on in their career. They almost sound like two entirely different bands when you listen to the different eras of their music! The Who were a very influential band, one of the very first to ritually destroy their instruments during their live act, and are consistently listed by many rock outlets such as Rolling Stone and the like to be amongst the top 100 artists of all time. Although the band had a very volatile relationship over the course of their history, the remaining members in Daltrey and Townshend have continued to play together up until very recently, despite the drug related deaths of Moon (1978) and Entwhistle (2002). This Greatest Hits package combs the bands’ best songs from their entire career, putting together a whopping 19 tracks that make for a long and fantastic musical journey! My favourites on the album include “I Can’t Explain”, “Substitute”, “Pictures of Lily”, “Magic Bus”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Who Are You”, “You Better You Bet” & “Eminence Front”.