The last few weeks have been a little bit crazy, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so much! The weekend after I last blogged we had our first Christmas party of the year, believe it or not. It was for my Mom’s side of the family to be exact, as she has 5 sisters and it’s hard to get everybody together during the bustle of December. They rent out a room in the bottom of the Legion and there is lots of food, drink, gift auctions, etc. The kids always have a blast and my board game loving cousin usually brings something to entertain us “adults”. The weekend after that was a wild one. On Friday night one of our friends took my wife to a high school play as a belated birthday celebration. Our other friends from Hamilton came down and surprised her as well, so the girls all went to the play while the three of us boys went to the hockey game (London Knights). We got pretty hammered and then got even more gibbled once we returned home to our friends’ house. It was pretty raucous, and I eventually passed out clean in the middle of the living room floor. The next morning I woke up and quickly walked home, showered, puked, went to bed . . . and when I woke up it was all of a sudden a winter wonderland outside. It was cold and clear on my walk home, but just a few hours later there was a foot of snow on the ground with another foot to come! Unfortunately I was hungover the rest of the weekend, and the wife wanted to put out the Christmas decorations. But I struggled through it and the snow as least saved me from having to put up the outside lights. And then this past weekend James and I were alone for two nights leading up to it, as the wife went with her mom to the Toronto area for some Black Friday shopping. James and I ate lots of junk food and played Mega Man, and that was pretty much about it. We loved bachelorhood! When she got home we got back to the regular routine of things. James had a birthday party on Saturday for his girlfriend Addison, and then on Sunday had a playdate with his friend Sam. While he was with Sam we went to the mall and upgraded our cell phones to some new iPhones, and got a new digital box with a built in PVR. Like I said, it’s been wild! In the meantime my Leafs are still managing to gain points here and there, but they have been wildly inconsistent, not only from game to game but even period by period. They need to shore things up and quickly. I’ve got some of my Christmas shopping done, but still have a good chunk to go. Recently it’s been raining, which has taken a lot of the snow away . . . hopefully things will get colder and we’ll get some more of the white stuff on the ground! Throughout all this action here is what I managed to get accomplished . . .
1) On NHL ’02 I finished off my second round series with the Boston Bruins, which ended as such: won @ Boston 14-6 & won @ Boston 13-2. Elsewhere around the league, in the East Philadelphia beat New Jersey four games to two. And in the West Colorado beat Detroit four games to one, while Dallas beat San Jose four games to one as well. Next up . . . Philadelphia!! Losers . . .
2) Unlike last time, this time around I made some really good progress on Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7! To start off we headed to Professor Flitwick’s classroom, where he demonstrated how to destroy shiny steel objects. We then wandered around his classroom and destroyed the five steel statues he had set out for us as a test, by doing so we unlocked the Reducto charm (which also earned us a Gold Brick)! During our wanderings we also unlocked the Justin Finch-Fletchley, Hannah Abbott and Professor Flitwick characters, and helped 1 Student in Peril. Our next stop was Dumbledore’s office, where a cutscene of us trying to view Slughorn’s tainted memory in the penseive played. Afterwards I made my way through Hogwarts on our way to Slughorn’s office, unlocking the Fred (OWLs) and Ron (Green Shirt) characters, helping 1 Student in Peril, and even finding a Red Brick in the process! After an unsuccessful attempt to get Slughorn to give us his full memory we returned to our dorm room, where Ron ate chocolates that were steeped in a love potion! So it was then back to Slughorn’s office we went, which kicked off the fourth level of this chapter, called “Love Hurts”. I began by exploring Slughorn’s office, looking for three ingredients to throw in a nearby cauldron and create a potion. The potion cured Ron of his ailment, but when we had a celebratory drink afterwards it ended up being poisoned, and Ron went down again the poor guy! I searched and found a key to Slughorn’s supply cabinet and took a bezoar, what was needed to cure Ron, and saved the day. A cutscene then played of Malfoy spying on us, running away afterwards. We took off after him and tracked him to a bathroom. Inside I dueled Malfoy and beat him, causing him to run and hide in one of the stalls. After some investigating I managed to flush Malfoy out of said stall, literally, and we dueled once more. This time I used a spell from the Half-Blood Prince’s text book and the duel ended violently. After the destruction I wreaked on Malfoy Harry’s friends told him to get rid of the book, so Ginny and I went to the Room of Requirement to stow it away. We brewed a strength potion and also used some of the Weasley brothers’ gadgets to navigate our way around all the junk in the room, and eventually hid the book. In the process we found Malfoy’s warp box that he’d been using for nefarious purposes, not realizing what it was. Afterwards Ginny and I kissed and the level ended. During this level I earned True Wizard status as well as 2 Gold Bricks (one for the level completion and one for the status achievement). Once this level was over I went back to the Leaky Cauldron and purchased that Red Brick I’d found earlier, which ended up containing the Stud Magnet extra. Heading out to Diagon Alley I then found a new area that led to Knockturn Alley. Exploring it I unlocked the Slytherin Twin #1 and Slytherin Twin #2 characters, found 1 Gold Brick, and purchased 1 more Gold Brick. With business done here I then headed back to Hogwarts, on our way we unlocked the Mary Cattermole, Mafalda Hopkirk, Luna (Overalls), Lily (Young Casual), Michael Corner, Harry (Winter) and Cornelius Fudge characters, helped 2 Students in Peril, and found 1 Gold Brick. Once back at the school, after taking the Felix Felicis potion, we met Slughorn at the greenhouses. I helped him obtain a plant sample but then a giant plant came up out of the ground and attacked us. This led to the fifth level, called “Felix Felicis”. To begin I explored the outside of the greenhouses, then used some spells to access a couple of the actual greenhouses insides. I was able to blast away at the plant’s roots, which caused it to back off a bit. I then went to the main plant and finished the job off, which allowed us to move outside the greenhouse walls, where we headed down in to a field of sorts. We soon came across Hagrid, who was mourning the death of Aragog. Slughorn was psyched with the fact that he could get a sample of the giant spider’s venom, and so I searched around and eventually built him a contraption that would allow him to drain said venom. After the job we had a funeral for Aragog, in Hagrid’s hut later on I was finally able to convince Slughorn to give me his intact memory of Tom Riddle. During this level I earned True Wizard status, found 1 Crest Piece, unlocked the Professor Sprout character, and earned 2 Gold Bricks (completion and status). That’s it for now!
3) As for Planes, it is finally done! The last thing we had to do was play Ripslinger’s story, which began with the “Trouble for Propwash” level. Ripslinger is of course tired of Dusty and his winning ways, so he plans on shutting the champ down by messing with Propwash Junction. Our first task was to smash through a half dozen billboards with Dusty’s mug on them, afterwards we went and equipped a vortex cannon to our rides. With it we blew up the town’s water towers, to jam the river full of debris and block the flow of water. The last task was to cut up the corn fields with our propellers and ruin the crops. On this level we earned a Platinum medal. The second level was called “Doppeldusty”, in it Ripslinger was trying to set Dusty up for a fall. We began by finding paint cans scattered about the environment, then went to an old warehouse and got all gussied up in Dusty’s colours. After equipping a paint sprayer we flew around and graffiti-ed the entire area. Our last step was to get a camera and take photo evidence of the damage “Dusty” had done. On this level we earned a Platinum medal. Third came the “Ripslinger Smash” level. We showed up early to a race and in a rage over Dusty’s insolence ended up wrecking the course by destroying the various checkpoints. Unfortunately the best we could manage on this level was a Gold medal. The fourth and final level, and our last for the game, was called “Flying Blind”. Ripslinger sneaks in to a Wings Around the Globe race and plans to have some fun at the other racers’ expense. We began by equipping paint sprayers and painted all of the competing planes up in bright colours, then went in for a quick landing. However, upon landing we were busted by the race officials and suspended from the circuit! On this level we earned a Platinum medal, plus we also unlocked the Ripslinger, Globe Trotter!, and All Bronze Medals achievements. Game review incoming, lots of fun this one was!!
4) The next three series of my season are complete on MLB 2K11! First up we were in Los Angeles to play the Angels, which went as such: won @ L.A. 10-1, won @ L.A. 4-2 & won @ L.A. 10-7 (12 innings). Next up the Baltimore Orioles came to town, and that broke down as follows: won vs. Baltimore 3-2, won vs. Baltimore 13-4 & won vs. Baltimore 12-0. Finally was a four game set in Kansas City against the Royals, which went: won @ K.C. 8-0, won @ K.C. 9-0, won @ K.C. 3-1 (13 innings) & won @ K.C. 13-1.
5) On Cars I made a bunch more progress, the next mini-game that I chose to play was Sheriff’s, said game was called “Fishin’ Mater”. At Sheriff’s urging I took control of Mater and went down to the river, using my tow hook as a fishing rod! My goal was to fish as much debris out of the river as I could, within the given time limit. I survived five rounds to win the game. Next up was Mater, who’s mini-game was called “World’s Best Backwards Driver”. In it I had to drive Mater backwards and gain as much speed as possible, before hitting a ramp and shooting up in to the sky! Mater’s goal was to reach the moon . . . my goal on the other hand was to collect as many stars as possible on my jump, and reach the target amount. After surviving five rounds I won the game. Lightning McQueen came next, his mini-game being “Highway Hassle”. Mack fell asleep at the wheel while driving down the highway and his trailer door opened up, allowing all of Lightning’s various trophies to go off bouncing down the road! My job was to take control of Lightning and collect these trophies as they fell, sorting them in to the right coloured bins. After five rounds the game was done. For my victory another Piston Cup race was unlocked, in this second race of Lightning’s season I outdueled Chick Hicks in an 8 lap affair, nabbing the checkered flag. Back to the mini-games the next character up was D.J., who’s game was “Ramone Style”. In it D.J. played some “sick” beats out of his massive stereo. With Ramone my task was to replicate these beats in the correct order, after five rounds I completed the job. Luigi came next, his mini-game called “Casa Della Tires”! A tractor had knocked over the leaning tower of tires out front of Luigi’s store, so using Guido my job was to rebuild the tower within the given time limit. Over a course of five rounds where the tower got higher and higher I got the job done yet again. Finally came a tractor, whose mini-game was called “Tractor Tippin’”. With Mater I had to go to three different fields and creep around in the middle of the night, using my horn to scare and tip tractors. The only way I could have been stopped is if I got caught by big old Frank! For this victory I unlocked another Piston Cup race. In this third race of the season I got the better of Chick Hicks again, winning a 10 lap affair. More to come!
6) Continuing on with Transformers: Prime, the fourth game level was called “Captured!”. The level started with Bumblebee being held captive by the Decepticons in an Energon mine. Raf soon showed up though and managed to hack Bee out of his restraints, then open up a nearby door. As I made my escape I had to battle a lot of Vehicons before entering a large chamber. Said chamber was full of Cons, some of them the annoying helicopter kind. After defeating them and destroying some Energon deposits I made my way up a ramp to an elevator where Raf was hiding. The security in the mine was too tight, so when we ascended the elevator and got out on a new floor Raf searched for their security system. After figuring it out I took Bumblebee out through this level of the mine, battling more Vehicons, and reached the physical location of the system, destroying it. While I was out Raf’s elevator fell under attack, so I then raced back to him and took out the offending Cons. When we took the elevator to ground level Knockout was waiting for me, so I had to outduel the slick talker in a boss fight! Afterwards I heard from Bulkhead about Miko’s capture, and when I went back to collect Raf he was missing as well. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron Artifacts and earned a B ranking. Fifth came the “Dark Envoy” level. It began with Ratchet waking up a discombobulated Optimus Prime, who is lying next to the giant that came out of the asteroid originally and sent the Autobots all plummeting back to Earth . . . a being by the name of Thunderwing! I battled the somewhat now disabled beast as best I could, until the Nemesis showed up. Megatron and his lot then attacked, so I beat a hasty retreat through the nearby ruins. A ground bridge was opened up for us but our way was barred by many Vehicons, not to mention blasts coming down from the Nemesis. Ratchet got cut off from me in the end though, while I got blasted through the ground bridge. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an S ranking. The sixth and final level I’ve played so far was “Shock and Dread”. To begin, a cutscene played of Megatron forcing Ratchet to repair Thunderwing, in exchange for Thunderwing’s temporary allegiance to the Decepticon cause. Afterwards I took control of Bumblebee in some sort of canyon, he was searching out some manner of Decepticon signal in the area. I took on a small amount of Vehicons, then scaled some ledges before meeting up with Arcee. We then stumbled upon Dreadwing hacking an object out of a fallen piece of the asteroid. Seeing us he then took off, but we gave chase and were soon able to subdue him, bringing him crashing back down to Earth. After a drawn out boss fight with the more than capable Decepticon, Soundwave snuck in and stole the object of the Decepticon’s desires. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an S ranking. Love this game . . .
7) The other game I finished this time around was Aliens: Infestation, it ended up being another amazing game! Picking up where I left off, the fourth level was up next. I began by making my way through the Weyland facility on Phobos. To begin with I encountered one stranded Marine and a minimal alien presence, although I did encounter some sentry guns. This place was a mostly underground facility, as I worked my way lower I found an access key card which supposedly gave me access to the upper communications levels. Moving along I then reached the start of the lowest levels of the facility. I began running in to different breeds of aliens, so it was apparent that whatever was going on they were somehow genetically modifying the creatures. Still searching around I found a smart gun while battling many of the smaller aliens, and then also found an override device for the sentry guns. Heading back to the upper levels of the facility, I explored the areas I couldn’t reach before because of the sentry guns. As I got close to the top of the facility the whole place began to shake, rattle and roll! The sensors said the source was coming from the top floor, when I finally got to the roof I found a massive, mutated alien boss to engage in an epic clash with! Me 1 – Alien 0 . . . level over. The fifth and final level of the game saw our team head back to the Sulaco, to perform a mop up operation by ridding the ship of all bugs. When we first set out we ran in to U.P.P. head honcho Sean Davis, who was disappointed that we were going to get rid of all his “specimens”. He then sicked his soldiers on us and enacted some manner of override command on the ship. Setting out after this debacle I finally managed to get my hands on the wrench!! This allowed me access to new areas of the ship that were previously barred by pipes spewing hissing steam. In so doing I soon found the access level 4 key card, upon gaining it I then took off in pursuit of Davis. However, some wreckage eventually blocked my way and I had to give up momentarily on my revenge. Radioing Commander Steele he told me to look for some explosives to clear the wreckage. Not long afterwards I ran in to a couple of stranded Marines who gave me all their gear and wished me good luck. I went back and used the explosives on said wreckage. Steele then got in touch with me and said the ship was set to head for Mars, and we couldn’t possibly let it reach that destination, for the beasts would massacre the population! My job was now to destroy the ship and completely eradicate the threat. To do so I searched out the four cooling regulators and switched them all off, hoping to overheat the reactor. However, the ship had a failsafe in place for such an occurrence and our plan failed. Plan B was to then get to the control room and crash the ship in to the Marian desert, hopefully destroying everything in a violent collision! To get to the bridge I had to don a space suit (after first finding the oxygen tank to provide my air supply) and head out to the ship’s hull, making my way to the bridge from the outside as the elevator was down. After altering the controls to crash the ship, my commands were overridden by that weasel Davis! So I tracked him to the cargo area of the ship and headed down there to have it out with him once and for all. Upon reaching Davis I also reached something else . . . the biggest alien I’d encountered yet!! After praising this creature and it’s destructive ways, Davis was then devoured by it. Thus kicked off the boss fight to end all boss fights! Using my weaponry to it’s fullest degree, as well as some conveniently placed sentry guns, I eventually took this beast down in one heck of an effort. The explosions resulting from this fight damaged the ship and sent it hurtling through space though, the last thing I heard before the game ended was for me to reach a drop ship and get the heck out of there . . . this game is fucking awesome!!!
8) With us finishing off Planes, James and I decided to start out on our next Wii adventure . . . none other than Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2!! After invading Rayman’s home world in an earlier adventure, the Rabbids are now set on infiltrating Earth. The Rabbids have studied the Earthlings’ history, trends and fads, and are set at invading every aspect of their life, in an attempt to take control of the planet! Your job is to stop the invasion (I think), and you do so by partaking in series of mini-games, usually against three other players. The series of mini-games are divided up in to “Trips”. When James and I started on this game the first trip we took was to “U.S.A.”. The mini-games we played on this trip included “Dial R for Rabbid” (at the movies we had to text on our cellphone when the lights came on, whoever texted the most won, I was the victor with 768 points), “Spider Rabbid” (we had to chase a Rabbid acting as Spider Man on the city streets, whoever hit him with a rocket then became Spider Rabbid until they were hit with a rocket in turn, I won with a total of 8267 points), “Usual Rabbids” (in this game we witnessed four rounds of crimes, after each crime scene we had to pick out the offending Rabbid from a criminal lineup, I won with 3504 points), “American Football” (with four footballing Rabbids on a field we had to tackle each other to gain possession of the football, then hold on to it for as long as possible, I won with 14016 points), “Are We There Yet?” (in a car full of Rabbids stuck in a traffic jam, we had to quiet down the Rabbids in the back seats who were getting out of control, unfortunately we both scored 0 points as we didn’t quite get the hang of this one!) & “Papa’s Got . . .” (with some Rabbids playing a band gig at a restaurant we had to hit the notes on our instruments by following the control commands on the screen, I won with 6670 points). Throughout play on this first trip we managed to unlock three new costumes, one of which was for Rayman. We also unlocked our first “Shooting Game”. So we then headed to the arcade, where we played said game, called “Big City Fights”. In it we tramped around the streets of New York (I think it’s in New York, anyways) and used a toilet plunger gun to take out hordes of raving Rabbids who were rampaging through the streets. For our victory we unlocked another costume. The second trip we’ve been able to play up to this point was “South America”. The mini-games it included were “Fart Wars” (after eating too much chili we had to fly through a long canyon on the power of our farts alone, whoever flew the best won, I came out on top with 12259 points), “Burgeritos” (we had to balance plates of sandwiches while delivering them to waiting customers on a rooftop restaurant, without falling off the roof or dropping the food, I won with 470 points), “Yummy Butterflies” (in this game we wandered around the forest eating butterflies, and hitting the other Rabbids so they would spit out their butterflies, I won with 5747 points), “Bumper Cars” (simply an awesome round of rooftop bumper cars, I won with 6605 points), “O.K. Corral” (a stand-off in the wild west, we had to draw against other Rabbids in a gun fight, I won with 3085 points) & “Celebration” (another music game where we had to replicate the control commands in time to the beat, I won with 7557 points). During these mini-games we unlocked two new costumes for Rayman, as well as a new Shooting Game. Checking out the new game afterwards it was called “Greatest Hits”. In it we pretty much did the same, tramp around New York and blast away at scores of Rabbids, but this one ended with a cool submarine/robot boss fight. Definitely more to come since James is involved, he loves this shit now!
9) I also started out on a new DS game, seeing as Aliens was done. I chose to play Lego: Battles, which is the same style of game as the Lego Battles: Ninjago game that I recently finished! It’s less of an action game and more of a half strategy/half action game that sees you build various types of structures, soldiers and builders, then take them out to engage your enemy in a series of missions. To start play off on this game I went directly to the game’s Story Mode, where the only available option was the “King Story”. “Act 1” of the King Story consists of five levels, the first of which is “Dark Shadows”. Our kingdom’s border outposts were being attacked by the evil Wizard’s forces, my job was to repair the castle and fortify said outposts. To begin I immediately spent a few minutes defending the kingdom against the remaining attackers in the area, then created a builder and got him building a farm and barracks. With those structures in place I started spitting out warriors, as well as the King, followed by some additional builders. I set the builders about creating some more farms to support our war effort, once they were through I took control of my various warriors and ravaged the surrounding land, destroying all traces of our enemy in the area. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. Level two was called “Costly Distractions”, in it some skeleton warriors had moved in on our farmlands, so we had to act quickly to ensure the defense of our food supply. To start off I had to defend four of our farms against enemy warriors, afterwards I built a lumber mill, mine, barracks, and some towers for defense. I then set out with my own warriors and found their two base locations, destroying both bases and all enemy units. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. Level three was “The Great Library”. Our kingdom’s library was under attack and that was bad, as we couldn’t let all of that accumulated knowledge fall in to the hands of that evil Wizard. First off I went to said library and defended it against all invaders in the vicinity. Afterwards I had a team of builders construct a lumber mill, mine, castle, barracks, and towers for defense. Lucky thing too as I then had to defend our location against more waves of enemy soldiers! Once they were out of the way we set out across the land and found our aggressors, destroying all their structures and units. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. “1000 Tree Woods” was the fourth level. A long time ago a magical scroll was purported to have been hidden in said woods. Our elders believe it has the power to reveal the evil Wizard’s nefarious plans, so my task was to find it. I began by setting up a barracks, some farms, a lumber mill, and many towers for defense. I left the King behind to be guarded by the towers, then set off with my warriors. We hacked and slashed the woods, taking out hordes of hidden enemies, eventually finding the scroll. The King came and claimed it and then we escaped back to our kingdom! During this level I found the Minikit, Red Brick, as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. The fifth and final level was “Bridge the Gap”. Retreating enemy forces had cut off our supply routes, so we had to rectify the situation. I began by establishing a home base, building a castle, along with some farms, lumber mills, a barracks, mine, all under the protection of some towers. With my warriors we then set out and rampaged across the land, defeating many enemies. Afterwards we built a bridge over the river, as well as some boats to patrol the river and help our warriors cross to otherwise inaccessible areas of land. We took on hordes of enemy warriors and destroyed them all along with their base structures and city walls, ending the level. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. I also unlocked the Dwarf character, as well as the Wizard Story, Pirate Story, and Earth Story. Phew.
10) Finally, I made the mistake of showing James the various Mega Man games I have downloaded to my Wii and he is now super obsessed!! So we have started play on Mega Man 9 as our current game of choice. The premise of this installment is that Dr. Wily has all of a sudden renounced his ways and turned good (yeah, right!). After this announcement the opposite holds true for Dr. Light, he apparently has gone rogue and has his robotic creations terrorizing the population! Mega Man realizes this situation for what it probably is, a scam by Dr. Wily to set up Dr. Light and in so doing remove him from the equation. We then had to take Mega Man on his usual quest to defeat eight of Dr. Wily’s robotic baddies, and so far we’ve completed just one level, the boss in question being “Galaxy Man”. This level took place in a highly polished, futuristic looking land of gleaming metal! We made our way up and down ladders, through corridors and across gaps, all the while battling Galaxy Man’s minions like small UFOs, helicopters, and other robotic contraptions, not to mention green and orange organic eyeball looking organisms. We also had to avoid a lot of deadly spikes, and after navigating an area of these strange warp launchers, came to the boss. This was a pretty easy fight in the grand scheme of things, after figuring out his pattern we took Galaxy Man down and gained his weapon, the Black Hole Bomb. We’ll see how the rest of the game unfolds!!
“NNGRR” - The weekend after my last blog James and I watched the Lego Bionicle: Mask of Light movie on Netflix! This film takes place within the universe created by the Lego toy line, featuring strange biomechanical creatures which are generally known as the Bionicle. The setting is a small island community full of these creatures, an island that was visited and blessed long ago by the spirit Mata Nui. However, Mata Nui’s evil brother Makuta soon showed up and cast a spell on Mata Nui, causing him to fall in to an endless slumber. With Mata Nui out of the way Makuta was free to submit the citizens of Mata Nui (for they named the island after him) to any torments he so desired. Fast forward many years and the story revolves around two young Bionicles named Jaller and Takua. Takua has gone to explore the lava flows under their kingdom and in so doing discovers a mask that emits a bright light. Deciding to save news of this mask until after their game of Kolhii is over, the two are stunned to eventually learn that this mask is part of a legend that states when it is worn by the right Bionicle, will transform him or her in to the seventh Toa (the Toa are special Bionicles that defend their citizens from harm), who in turn will defeat Makuta’s forces and awaken Mata Nui, freeing the island to it’s previous safe and happy state. The two friends then set out on a journey to find out just who is supposed to be wearing this Mask of Light. Along the way they face many perils, receiving aid from many of the six Toa they encounter along the way. In the end they find out that Takua is actually the herald, the one meant to wear the mask and become the seventh Toa all along! But will the reimagined Takua be able to challenge Makuta and come out the victor . . . maybe, but only if he uses some fancy tricks he’s been saving for a rainy day!! This was a decent movie, I much prefer the regular type of Lego movies for sure, but it was an entertaining watch nonetheless. Cool to finally see what Bionicle is about after all these years!!
Later that following week I finished watching season four of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on DVD!! In this season the shit really starts to get heavy, gone are the one off episodes that used to make up a lot of the previous seasons, and in are the three, sometimes even four episode mini-series that help an even deeper storyline unfold. The season starts out with Anakin, Ahsoka and Padme helping to solve a dispute on Mon Calamari between the two native species, the Quarren and the Mon Calamari, followed by a quick trip to Naboo to uncover a plot involving a Gungan shaming tricking his people in to attacking the Naboo. Not long after Anakin is leading an engagement on the plant of Umbara when he is called away by the Jedi council, in his place Jedi Pong Krell takes over command of Captain Rex and his regiment of clone troopers. Captain Rex must eventually confront Krell about his combat decisions though, as he seems to continually lead Rex and his cohorts in to increasingly risky situations when much smarter alternatives are available . . . the depth of Krell’s treachery will then be displayed! Next Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka go undercover on the planet of Zygerria to investigate an apparent slaving operation that Count Dooku and the Separatists have taken an interest in. Anakin must try and change the Queen of Zygerria’s attitudes before more harm can come to innocents and Jedi alike. The next operation sees Obi-Wan fake his death and go highly undercover, posing as a mercenary named Rako Hardeen. He falls in with bounty hunter Cad Bane and Separatist leader Count Dooku, who the Jedi believe are planning an assassination attempt on Chancellor Palpatine at a future ceremony on Naboo. Anakin is miffed that he was not brought in on the plan, but in the end the operation succeeds so all is good. And finally the season kicks the bucket with Savage Opress continuing his search for his lost brother Darth Maul, and eventually finding him on a junk planet . . . but Maul is not in great shape, being reduced to a wild, blathering animal! However, Opress takes him to Dathomir and Mother Talzin restores Maul’s mind and body, and he is bent on one thing . . . revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi!! The brothers lay down a challenge for the Jedi and Obi-Wan races off to confront them, only narrowly escaping with his life thanks to interference from his former enemy Asajj Ventress. Linking these sequences of events are some other one off episodes that sees R2-D2 and C-3PO have some more adventures, peace talks between the Republic and the Separatists break down, and Count Dooku getting his revenge on Asajj Ventress by wiping out her entire Nightsister clan on Dathomir. This was an amazing season, so many cool characters and places came in to the mix, and with it ending with Darth Maul entering the storyline I was like a kid in a candy store! Can’t wait to watch the final season, hopefully soon . . .
A couple Sundays ago I finished reading the third book in the Septimus Heap series, called Physik. To start this story off things are as back to normal as they can be for the Heap family and the other residents of the palace. There have been no signs of that troublemaker Simon Heap at all, but things do go awry when Silas Heap unseals a room in the attic of the palace that has been holding back the partially substantial ghost of one of Jenna’s ancient relatives, the terrible queen Etheldredda. The ancient queen’s evil pet Aie Aie is also released, and it immediately starts biting people, causing a tremendous sickness to spread and for the infirmary to be reopened for the first time in a long time! Not long afterwards Etheldredda tricks Jenna and Septimus, manipulating her son, the great Alchemie master Marcellus Pye, to pull Septimus through one of his magic glasses . . . pull him back in time 500 years to when Etheldredda still ruled that is! Septimus spends over five months 500 years in the distant past, apprenticed to the young Marcellus Pye (who he actually likes a whole lot better than his geezer version, who tricked Septimus in to being sent back in time in the first place). Marcellus is working on a tincture that is to give him everlasting life, hence why he is still alive all those 500 years later, but Marcellus’ awful mother Etheldredda wants the tincture all to herself. In the middle of this power struggle will Septimus be able to trick the young Marcellus and catch him unawares, earning a chance to be sent back to his own time? Or is it up to Jenna, Nicko Heap, and a new friend they’ve made in Snorri Snorrelssen (and her pet cat, Ullr) to find a way to do it from their place in time? Whatever may happen, you know it’s going to be action packed!! This was a cool book, I like how Simon Heap and DomDaniel took a back seat to a new evil that came about, I enjoy the variety this series is offering up so far. I enjoy it so much that I just ordered books four and five online last night!
That same Sunday the 101st Grey Cup was played in Regina, Saskatchewan, with the big trophy up for grabs to crown this year’s best team in the CFL (Canadian Football League)! The showdown was between the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I didn’t get to see any of it unfortunately as that weekend happened to be our put up the Christmas decorations weekend, and it is always and absolute shit storm . . . doubly so now that we have two Christmas trees instead of just the normal one! Anyways, myself being a Toronto Argonauts fan I had a clear favourite as one of our arch rivals are the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, so in no way did I want them to win this game!! Fortunately that was the case and the Riders pulled off a lopsided 45-23 victory. Congrats to Saskatchewan on their fourth Grey Cup title in franchise history!
This past weekend I finished the opening book in a new series I’m reading called Seven Wonders, the title of this first book being The Colossus Rises. Jack McKinley is a normal 13 year old boy living in Belleville, Indiana. His mother is no longer with him and his father spends a lot of time overseas working, so he lives a bit of a lonely existence. However, one regular old day when he goes to school all of that changes drastically! In a confrontation with a bully on school property Jack passes out, when he wakes up he’s in a hospital room with his family doctor and a couple of strange men who eventually whisk him away to a strange facility! This facility Jack eventually finds out is called the Karai Institute, after trying an escape attempt and not making it very far. The head of this institute, Professor Bhegdad, explains to Jack that he (and his three inmates Marco, Aly and Cass) are ancient descendants of the Lost City of Atlantis. There is a genetic anomaly inside each of them that, if untreated, would kill them by the time they reach the age of fourteen. Thus why they were all secretly monitored and then evacuated to this facility . . . to keep them alive! However, the kids feel there is more to it than this, that there is something “P Beg” as Marco calls him, is not telling them. After another futile group escape attempt the kids soon realize that they need the treatments they are getting, and that there is at least some truth to what they are being told. However, after finding a small clue to what might help them bring about the return of Atlantis (and in the process hopefully saving their lives from this genetic disorder), the kids go on a journey to a nearby mountain at the Karai Institute, which actually sits on an island thought to be the location of the former site of Atlantis. Inside this mountain the youngsters have a grand adventure they barely escape from, in the process finding the potential key to their salvation. What they find is an ancient relic with seven indentations in it, each indentation able to hold one of the fabled Loculi, artifacts that wielded great power for the ruling Atlantean family way back in the day. Unfortunately while exploring this relic Jack lets loose a griffin, a monster responsible for tracking down the Loculi and safeguarding them. So the kids are then whisked away on their next adventure, following the griffin (who kidnapped Cass) to the Greek island of Rhodes, where they hope to find the Loculi amidst the wreckage of one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Colossus of Rhodes! And of course rescue Cass in the process. It’s a wild ride but in the end the kids triumph, although when Jack leaves Marco alone with the Loculi (which gives the user the power of flight) he suddenly disappears and the residents of the Karai Institute are left in disarray as they head back home. This is a really cool book, a very Percy Jackson-ish type of adventure with tons of action and lots of cool history. I’ve always been fascinated by the legend of Atlantis, and I loved learning about the seven wonders of the ancient world in this story, I can’t wait to read book two and see what comes next!
Finally, the last little while I’ve been listening to Oceania (2012), the ninth studio release from The Smashing Pumpkins. The Pumpkins came along on that initial grunge wave back in the early 1990’s and were one of the bands I listened to quite a bit back in the day. When I think of the term “grunge” (and god knows who coined it), the type of sound that word inspires makes me think of The Smashing Pumpkins almost first and foremost. With the tremendous amounts of distortion prevalent in their sound it’s easy to see why they were lumped in with great bands of the same scene like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, etc. All these years later the Pumpkins are still going strong and their sounds is pretty consistent with what is once was. However, with Oceania there are some subtle differences. I noticed a slight electronic influence on this album, and also a fair amount of acoustic guitar scattered about. It’s not nearly as aggressive as their earlier works but it still rocks pretty hard at times. I found this album to be very much a mood setter, gets you to thinking. It sounded like it could have been the exclusive soundtrack to some crazy ass dramatic movie like American Beauty and the like! My favourite tracks on this album include “Quasar”, “Panopticon”, “The Celestials”, “Violet Rays”, “Oceania”, “The Chimera” & “Inkless”.