darthcobain17 / Member

Forum Posts Following Followers
2236 96 77

darthcobain17 Blog

What is love!?! The coming of spring, that's what is . . .

Been another month of living, and another month of gaming! The weekend after my last blog we headed to Hamilton on the Friday night, to have our first ever all you can eat sushi experience with our friends Johnny and Megan (at Sapporo). It was delicious! The actual sushi was alright, but it was all the other stuff you can order that got me going, so much food and so little time! Afterwards we went out for a number of beers before heading back to their place and eventually passing out. The next day we visited the mother-in-law and had some Valentine’s Day festivities, playing some games and eating a fair amount, as usual. James literally ate candy and chocolate all day long, it was ridiculous!

The next weekend Johnny and Megan came down to our place for the Friday night, we ordered Thai food while James was at Fri-Y, and then proceeded to get drunk while watching the hockey game! Afterwards we followed it up with another viewing of Walk Hard. The rest of the weekend we just kind of pissed away. The weekend after that we put James in Fri-Y once again, and then went to one of our home sushi joints (168 Sushi) where we once again gorged ourselves on a bevvy or creations all ordered from the convenience of an iPad! Great idea, fyi. The rest of the weekend we spent mostly at home, mixing a little shopping in here and there.

As for this past weekend, mrs. darthcobain17 was gone for both the Friday and Saturday nights on a girls weekend thing, so James and I had a whole bunch of time to ourselves! Naturally we watched a lot of TV, played a ton of video games, watched old cartoons on DVD like Inspector Gadget, and of course ate entirely too unhealthily. Unfortunately it all came to an end much too quickly, and it was time for another school/work week to begin.

Regarding the actual school/work weeks, they were action packed, even more so than usual! James has been continuing to see his tutor, to give him a little extra polishing for school. Beavers is also going strong, they even had their annual banquet where the kids all get to race their Beaver Buggies against one another. James lost his first race by just a hair, but in the consolation round managed to win one, which he was super excited about! His latest round of golf lessons finished up just last week, he managed to graduate to the red level . . . just blue and black to go, I do believe! I’m not even going to mention anything about my Toronto Maple Leafs, as they have suffered an epic collapse this season yet again, it’s been quite disillusioning. Angry. Another thing that has made me angry is the weather. This has been the coldest winter here in recorded history, with weeks on end of -20 and below type conditions. Because of this an ice dam built up around our eaves trough and skylights on our TV room roof, causing a fair amount of water to back up in to the house. I had to have a roofing company come in and get rid of the dam, so it’s all good for now, but these things always seem to leave me on edge for quite a while afterwards. I can hear the birds chirping, feel the sun getting warmer, have noticed that extra bit of daylight we seem to be getting lately, and the temperatures have gone up quite a bit recently though, so I think the spring isn’t too far off. Can’t come soon enough for me at this point though!! Anyhoo, while all this was going on here is what was accomplished . . .

1) I completed the next level on Goldeneye, said level was called “St. Petersburg – Statue Park”. Upon the close of my last mission 007 found out that we had lost contact with the helicopter we’d been tracking, most likely because the bug had been discovered. I was also told that Natalya had chosen to return to her native St. Petersburg despite our agency’s protestations, and had promptly gone missing, presumed kidnapped by Janus. My task was to investigate these issues. To begin I was airdropped in to Statue Park in St. Petersburg. Navigating it’s bizarre, cluttered landscape I had to dispatch many Russian soldiers before meeting up with a contact named Valentin. He was an ex-KGB agent and informed me he was able to arrange a meeting for 007 . . . with the head of Janus! So I headed over to the statue of Lenin, where I was to meet this character . . . colour me shocked when I found out this person was our presumed dead agent, 006! Alec gloated about this revelation before telling me that he had left Natalya at the gates to the park, beside the helicopter I was also after . . . and that they were rigged with explosives! So I then backtracked, taking out Janus thugs along the way, before finally reaching the helicopter. I saved Natalya at the last second, before the helicopter went kaboom. Afterwards I searched for the aircraft’s flight recorder, before returning to the gates to collect Natalya. I found her captured by the head of security, Mishkin, though, who then escorted us out of the park. I forgot to record how long it took me to complete this level, along with my accuracy rating, but I had to try it a few times before I successfully beat it so I imagine my final numbers were both pretty quick and accurate!!

2) Yet another series is in the books on MLB 2K11, this time we travelled to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks. Here is how that went: lost @ Arizona 10-7, won @ Arizona 3-1 & won @ Arizona 7-1.

3) Only three games took place on my season of NHL ’04, and the results were as such: won @ Florida 13-5, won @ Tampa Bay 17-4 & won vs. New Jersey 6-4.

4) A major stride was made on Jak X: Combat Racing, as I was able to tidy up the “Blue Eco Cup” series of events! To begin play this time around I visited three consecutive areas and ran a single event at each one. The areas in question were “Spargus”, “Kras City” & “Grand Prix”, and the events in question, respectively, were “Badland Sanctuary – Death Race” (won the race, gold medal), “Dethdrome – Rush Hour” (won the event, gold medal) & “Timberline Track – Circuit Race” (a qualifier event, won the race, gold medal). I then headed to “Icelands”, where I completed the “Mountaintop Highway – Freeze Rally” (won the event, gold medal) & “Ice Pit – Deathmatch” (won the event, gold medal) events. It was then time for another trio of single events, this time at the “Spargus”, “Kras City” & “Haven City” locales. The events in question included: “Spargus City – Turbo Dash” (won the event, gold medal), “Seaport Strip – Death Race” (won the race, gold medal) & “Waterworks Circuit – Freeze Rally” (won the event, gold medal). My final challenge was to complete the ultimate event at “Grand Prix”, the three race series that broke down as such: “Sewer Raceway – Circuit Race” (won the race), “Frozen Speedway – Circuit Race” (placed second) & “Western Tour – Circuit Race” (won the race). Overall my point total was 28, good enough for the overall win, woot woot! Three quarters of the way there now . . .

5) I forged on with the Predacons on Transformers: Beast Wars, clearing out the next three levels of the game. Said levels unfolded as such: “Desert 1 – Advance Forces” (we had found Cheetor’s Energon mining machines active in the desert, my task was to head there and defeat his advance troops, ultimately destroying the Rock Blaster device), “Desert 2 – Mining Machine” (we wanted the Energon rich desert for our own cause, so I was jobbed with annihilating all of Cheetor’s defenses and then planting a bomb in his mining base) & “Desert 3 – Cheetor’s Base” (with our Energon resources boosted by the previous mission, my last task in this area was to destroy Cheetor in a boss fight, which I did after searching him out amongst the desert terrain).

6) Per the usual I got the next two levels, the final two levels, in the books on X-Men Destiny . . . not that I was able to beat the game though!! Grrrr. The seventh level was titled “M.R.D. Headquarters”, and to kick things off Magneto finally showed up on the scene. Cyclops, Pixie and I explained the situation to him, that Bastion was inside of the computer systems and had overridden control of the Sentinels, who were now rampaging across town. Reyes had gone inside the M.R.D. communications tower, so I decided to follow him in and offer support, ultimately hoping to shut the Sentinels down while the others held them off for us. I began by hitting the streets, taking out tons of Purifiers and Sentinels, eventually running in to Pixie. She informed me that our enemies now had a type of belt they could use to teleport with, but we came up with a strategy to combat this. I then forged ahead and took out four squadrons of their elite troopers, before encountering Mystique. Together we destroyed a Sentinel. Afterwards she tasked me with finding three more of them and leading them back to her, so she could finish them off. Moving on I took out a few walker tanks before finally reaching M.R.D. headquarters. I navigated the corridors within, dispatching turrets and M.R.D. soldiers, before reaching a large locked door. After visiting two security stations and taking out the resistance at each of them, I manipulated them to open up the door for me, thus entering the communications tower. The last level was called “Broadcast Tower”. I immediately began infiltration of said tower to kick the level off, talking out more M.R.D. soldiers and turrets. Soon enough Emma sent me a message that Cyclops was down and although Magneto was holding the Sentinels back, we had to hurry. Not long afterwards I ran in to Reyes, who had the codes to shut down the Sentinels, but he couldn’t get through the security doors. Together we set out and as I burst through said doors, he would input the codes at the various computer stations positioned throughout the tower. Along the way we ran in to enemies masquerading as Wolverine, Emma, Mystique, Archangel, after dealing with them we finally reached the top of the tower. Unfortunately, at this point Reyes revealed that it was him who was behind the whole plot, and he then proceeded to attack me from the comfort of a large suit of armour!! I defeated Reyes easily enough but afterwards Bastion took control of the suit, and that is when shit got heavy. He is one tough boss to beat and so far, after many attempts, I haven’t even come close to sealing the deal . . . nor do I think I will. Game over . . . for me!!

7) We didn’t get a lot done on Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed this time around unfortunately, but we did at least get back at it for a little bit anyways. We decided to start on the “Grand Prix” mode once more, this time on the “Mirror Mode” feature we had unlocked by completing all the original Grand Prix events last time around. The first circuit we completed was called the “Dragon Cup”, in it we took part in the “Oceanview” (placed 3 and 10 respectively), “Samba Studios” (1 and 10), “Carrier Zone” (1 and 10) & “Dragon Canyon” (1 and 10) races. Overall I won the circuit with 38 total points. The second circuit was the only other play we were able to get accomplished, and it was called the “Rogue Cup”. It consisted of the “Temple Trouble” (1 and 10), “Galactic Parade” (6 and 5), “Seasonal Shrines” (1 and 10) & “Rogue’s Landing” (5 and 6) races. Overall I won the circuit with 31 points, but it was close!

8) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Danger of the Ooze is indeed done . . . done as in I cannot win the Shredder boss fight! But not for lack of trying though. Fuck.

9) We branched out a bit on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U this time around, exploring some of the other modes by trial and error. To begin with we dabbled in the “Classic” mode, which I had begun to explore on my own last time around, only this time we tried it with the two of us instead. Afterwards we moved on to “Events” mode, which features a linear sequence of battles for you to complete, each with it’s own set of challenges/objectives. So far on this mode we’ve been able to complete the “A Lurking Menace”, “Pokemon Multi Battle!”, “Visiting Onett”, “Getting Healthy”, “1988”, “Full Speed Ahead”, “Wrecking Bros.”, “A Fairy Nice Trip” & “Mirror Magic” battles. The last mode we explored was called “Stadium”, which features some off beat challenges to attempt. The first of these was called “Home-Run Contest”, which tasks each player with trying to hit a sack as far as they can with a baseball bat. Our best showing was 1010.2 feet. Then we attempted “Target Blast”, in which you have your character launch a bomb and see how many targets you can destroy with it’s explosion. We dabbled in all three stages available for play in this challenge. Finally we took part in “Multi-Man Smash”, in which you have to successfully fight off various waves of enemies. We tried the “10-Man Smash”, “100-Man Smash” (our best showing being 51 enemies defeated), “3-Minute Smash” (our best total being 36 enemies defeated), “Endless Smash” (our best total being 61 enemies defeated) & “Cruel Smash” (just 1 lonely defeat . . .). It’s really cool how this game has so much more to offer than most fighting games, so much more variety.

10) Some decent progress was made on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1, which saw me complete the next two levels of the game. The fifth level of the game was a bit of a detour, called “Encounters”, which set me three challenges I had to complete before moving on in the game. Said challenges included: “The Abandoned Substation” (I had to free captured, doped up Muggles from the Snatchers, whom I battled at said station), “The Ruins” (continued on and rescued more Muggles/battled more Snatchers, this time at a set of ruins instead) & “The Dark Caves” (had to battle more Snatchers, all while trying to navigate a series of caves that featured a fire breathing dragon stalking their depths!). With that out of the way I was then able to move on to the sixth level of the game. On the streets of London our infamous trio wanted to get in to the Ministry of Magic in order to get at Umbridge and her horcrux, but we were in need of disguises. To kick-start our plan I got under my invisibility cloak and stalked Reg Cattermole, Mafalda Hopkirk and Albert Runcorn through the streets, ultimately taking them out and bringing them back to our hiding place. Along the way I had also collected Polyjuice potion, which we then used to transform ourselves in to the likenesses of our three prisoners. Once our disguises were in place we headed to the public bathrooms that would send us to the lobby of the Ministry. Once inside we made our way to the lifts and things were looking good until Ron and Hermione got dragged off by another wizard. To regroup I decided to backtrack to the security office and find out what floor Umbridge’s office was on. With that new information I headed back to the lifts (my Polyjuice potion had worn off at this point, so I was back under my invisibility cloak) and then made my way to level one. After flitting through the halls I located Umbridge’s office (she wasn’t there) and explored it for a bit, before nipping back out in to the hallways and exploring some of the other offices on the floor, trying to determine her current location. Once gleaning that she was in the courtroom, I headed back to the lifts and went straight down to the basement. After skulking by many Death Eaters I arrived at the courtroom, along with Ron and Hermione, so we then overpowered her in a duel, taking the locket and then heading back the way we’d come! We managed to escape via the floo network, although Ron was injured in the process.

11) Our action on Mario Kart 8 has come to a close! When I left off last time we basically just had to explore any other game modes that this title might have to offer, and as is the usual with this series, there isn’t much substantial after you get through the main “Grand Prix” mode. We dabbled shortly in “Versus” mode, but spent most of our time in “Battle” mode, where we liked to take part in the Balloon Pop event. This is a great game overall, would have gotten a 10 if it had more modes to offer (this one doesn’t even seem to have the usual Mirror Mode that is a staple in most of the series), but I’ll probably give it a 9 instead.

12) More progress was made on BeyBlade: Evolution, the first thing I did this time around was beat Kyoya in a battle at the Vacant Lot. I then headed to Bey Stadium, to have another crack at a tournament. This one was a race to four, so the first one to score four points wins each round. I began the tournament by beating Toby, and then won the tournament by defeating Gingka in the second round, huzzah! Next I beat Kyoya at the Vacant Lot yet again, before defeating Masamune at the Park. I then headed to the Plaza, where I first tried my hand at the Aim and Shoot mini-game, then lost a battle to Kenta. My next flurry of activity all took part at the Vacant Lot. I began by playing the Balloon Break mini-game, then lost a battle to Masamune before beating Kyoya, finishing up by playing the new to me mini-game called Memory Quiz! It was then time to head back to the Bey Stadium once more for another tournament. This time it was a race to three points, and I won the overall thing by defeating Dashan in the first round and then Gingka in the second! My last bit of action took place at the Park. I beat Gingka in a battle, before playing the new Maze mini-game. Afterwards I lost a battle to Kenta but then defeated Gingka. Before signing off I headed to the B-Pit and purchased many new BeyBlade parts with all of my winnings!!

13) Since finishing (but not completing) a couple games on the 3DS, it was time to choose something new to play. My first choice was Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay! This game picks up after the events of the Big Hero 6 movie, as Hiro is contacting his team about some cool new upgrades he’s designed for their various suits. During this conversation though, they pick up activity in the city, activity involving a whole bunch of bot fighters stirring up mayhem all across San Fransokyo! Our inclination was of course to go and check these disturbances out, and that is where the game begins. So far I’ve been able to complete the first six levels of this title, which went as such: Level 1 (With Hiro I patrolled downtown San Fransokyo and took out many bots, eventually calling in Baymax for help who afterwards detected a break-in at Hiro’s workshop, leading us to believe the whole bot uprising was some sort of a diversion. I completed this level in 14:05, finding the hidden Mochi and all four HERO letters, defeating 23 enemies), Level 2 (I took Wasabi out for a spin this time, stomping through the streets of San Fransokyo and destroying more bots. I completed this level in 7:23, finding the hidden Mochi and all four HERO letters, defeating 43 enemies), Level 3 (It was Fred’s turn for action this time around, I did pretty much the same thing with him as I did with Wasabi. I completed this level in 10:30, finding the hidden Mochi and all four HERO letters, defeating 40 enemies), Level 4 (It was finally time to take Go Go out for a spin, I laid the smackdown on more bots with her as I continued on through the city. I completed this level in 10:58, finding the hidden Mochi and all four HERO letters, defeating 26 enemies), Level 5 (In this level I took over as Hiro again, asking Baymax to perform a high altitude frequency scan, to try and figure out where all the bots were coming from. While he was doing that I forged onwards, battling bots, and when Baymax eventually showed up he said the source of the bots was coming from a location near the train station. I completed this level in 16:55, finding the hidden Mochi and all four HERO letters, defeating 35 enemies) & Level 6 (Playing as Fred once more I bet Wasabi I’d make it to the train station before him, during my journey to said location I encountered heavier resistance than usual. I completed this level in 11:27, finding the hidden Mochi and all four HERO letters, defeating 63 enemies). More to come fo sho!!

14) The other game I got started on for the 3DS was Lego Ninjago: Nindroids! This game features action inspired by the third season of the Lego: Ninjago TV show, which sees New Ninjago City spring from the ashes of the original, but since destroyed Ninjago City. This new city is a technological marvel but the ninjas have a major problem . . . the evil Overlord has also risen and is working towards domination, backed by his powerful army of nindroids! Our special group of ninjas is of course tasked with stopping this fiend’s plans from reaching fruition. So far I’ve completed the first 12 levels of the game, which included: “Going Up” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Kai [Teacher] character), “A Clean Escape” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Cole & Spitta characters), “No Way Out” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Zane & Cowboy characters), “Ninja Copter!” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Jay & Mummy characters, along with the Studs X2 red brick), “Mad Machines” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Kai character, along with the Big Heads red brick), “OverBorg” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Sensei Wu character), “Street Sweep” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking some Studs, along with the Studs X4 red brick), “Robot Rumble” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Cole [Teacher] & Dareth characters), “Kaifighter!” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Kai DX & Elf characters, along with the Minikit Finder red brick), “Escape the Overlord” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Rattla character), “Stop, Thief!” (completed 4/10 challenges, unlocking the P.I.X.A.L. [Good] character), “Surrounded” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Snike & Zane [Borg] characters) & “Sneaking In” (completed 6/10 challenges, unlocking the Zane DX & Chopov characters). In between and after these levels I used my collected studs to purchase a number of items. Said items included the Studs X2, Big Heads, Studs X4 & Minikit Finder extras, along with the Cowboy, Cole (Teacher), Kai DX, P.I.X.A.L. (Good), Sensei Wu, Rattla, Spitta, Mummy, Elf, Snike, Zane DX, Chopov & Dareth characters. A good start, no doubt!!

15) As for James and I, with progress on Mario Kart 8 complete and us winding down a bit on Sonic, we decided to start a few new games, a couple of which were very recent acquisitions. The first of these new acquisitions was Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for the Wii U, which James was super excited about as Toad is his very favourite Mario Bros. character! This game features Toad (and Toadette) in their very own adventure. Out on a treasure finding expedition Toadette is captured by this giant bird and flown far away. Using Toad’s unique skills (and his trusty headlamp!) you are then tasked with solving a number of puzzle like levels in order to locate your kidnapped mistress and get her back. We’ve made major progress on this game so far, our play began on “Episode 1”. There we completed all 18 levels, which went as such: “Plucky Pass Beginnings” (3/3 Gems, collected the Golden Mushroom), “Walleye Tumble Temple” (found 3/3 Gems, didn’t break the bridge), “Touchstone Trouble” (found 3/3 Gems, cleared the level in 3 touches), “Mushroom Mesa” (found 3/3 Gems, destroyed all enemies), “Double Cherry Palace” (found 3/3 Gems, collected 70 coins), “Shy Guy Heights” (found 3/3 Gems, slipped past all the Shy Guys), “Spinwheel Library” (found 3/3 Gems, collected the Golden Mushroom), “Mine Cart Tunnel Throwdown” (found 3/3 Gems, defeated all Para-Biddybuds), “Spinwheel Bullet Bill Base” (found 3/3 Gems, collected the Golden Mushroom), “The King of Pyropuff Peak” (found 3/3 Gems, collected 45 coins), “Piranha Creeper Cove” (found 3/3 Gems, collected 70 coins), “Briny Bowl Swimming Hole” (found 3/3 Gems, collected the Golden Mushroom), “Turnip Cannon Jungle” (found 3/3 Gems, cleared the level firing just 1 shot), “Pop-Up Prairie Town” (found 3/3 Gems, collected the 1-Up Mushroom), “Drop-Road Dash” (found 3/3 Gems, didn’t defeat any Para-Biddybuds), “Bizarre Doors of Boo Mansion” (found 3/3 Gems, cleared the level in 4 touches), “Blizzard on the Star Express” (found 3/3 Gems, collected the 1-Up Mushroom) & “Wingo’s Watchtower” (found 3/3 Gems, collected 70 coins). Our best showing in the Coins Galore bonus level that pops up from time to time was 212 coins. We then moved on to “Episode 2”, which sees Toad get captured, so Toadette has to rescue him this time, and this is where our progress has temporarily halted. So far we’ve completed the first 10 levels, which went as follows: “Chute Scoot Slopes” (found 3/3 Gems, collected the Golden Mushroom), “Stumper Sneakaround” (found 3/3 Gems, defeated all Piranha Creepers), “Mine Cart Sunset Rundown” (found 3/3 Gems, collected 140 coins), “Sinister Street Signs” (found 3/3 Gems, defeated all Mud Troopers), “Floaty Fun Waterpark” (found 3/3 Gems, defeated all Goombas), “Drift-Along Canyon” (found 3/3 Gems, didn’t take any damage), “Sliding Slab Shuffle” (found 3/3 Gems, cleared the level in 4 touches), “Spooky Specters at Shadow Manor” (found 3/3 Gems, collected the 1-Up Mushroom), “Draggadon’s Revenge” (found 3/3 Gems, didn’t take any damage) & “Spinwheel Cog Ruins” (found 3/3 Gems, collected the Golden Mushroom). In the Mummy-Me Maze bonus levels our best showing was 110 coins. As you can see, in each game level there are 3 Gems to be found, along with a bonus objective, which varies. So far we are loving this game, it is a ton of fun!!

16) The next new game we started was one I’ve had in the queue for quite a while . . . Lego: Pirates of the Caribbean, for the Wii! This game relives the events of all four of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, only in the typical Lego stylings. Our quest began on the “The Curse of the Black Pearl” chapter, where so far we’ve been able to knock down the first 4 levels. Said levels included: “Port Royal” (found 3/10 Minikit pieces, unlocked the Mr. Brown, Will Turner, Guard Dog & Jack Sparrow characters, and earned 1 Gold Brick [for the level completion]), “Tortuga” (found 1/10 Minikit pieces, unlocked the Mr. Gibbs, Cotton, Anamarin & Marty characters, and earned 1 Gold Brick [completion]), “The Black Pearl Attacks” (earned True Pirate status, found 2/10 Minikit pieces, unlocked the Jack Sparrow [Waistcoat] character, and earned 2 Gold Bricks [completion and status achievement]) & “Smuggler’s Den” (earned True Pirate status, found 2/10 Minikit pieces, unlocked the Elizabeth [Undergarments] character, and earned 2 Gold Bricks [completion and status]). Yet another great Lego game is in store for us it seems!

17) The last new game we started was Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U, which James was also very excited about! I had played the 3DS version of this game quite a while back, as it came with the system, and enjoyed it very much, so I was looking forward to see what they did with the Wii U version of it and so far we’ve not been disappointed. The plot behind the game is that Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad are out for a walk one day when they come across a strange pipe in the ground. Suddenly a fairy comes popping out of it, and she seems distressed. Not long afterwards Bowser also shows up and snatches the very away, which he has apparently been doing with all the fairies! It was then up to our foursome to go after him and free these creatures from his tyranny. We began our adventure in “World 1” where we completed all 8 levels, the action unfolded as such: “1-1: Super Bell Hill” (earned 52540 points, found the stamp, and collected 3/3 stars), “1-2: Koopa Troopa Cave” (earned 56360 points, found the stamp, and collected 3/3 stars), “1-A: Chargin’ Chuck Blockade” (earned 16250 points, and collected 1/1 star), “1-3: Mount Beanpole” (earned 75140 points, found the stamp, and collected 3/3 stars), “1-4: Plessie’s Plunging Falls” (earned 69050 points, found the stamp, and collected 3/3 stars), “1-5: Switch Scramble Circus” (earned 55020 points, found the stamp, and collected 3/3 stars), “1-Toad: Captain Toad Goes Forth” (earned 30400 points, and collected 5/5 stars) & “1-Castle: Bowser’s Highway Showdown” (earned 58930 points, found the stamp, and collected 3/3 stars). Moving on to “World 2” afterwards we’ve only been able to get at one level there so far, which was “2-1: Conkdor Canyon” (earned 29710 points, found the stamp, and collected 3/3 stars). This game is very consistent with the Super Mario Bros. U game, only instead of being a side scroller it has more depth to it, hence the 3D in the title. Pretty cool!

“NNGRR” - The last few months or so, James and I have been picking away at a cartoon I never watched when it aired but had always wanted to . . . Mega Man!! This is a cartoon series that was based on the Nintendo video game franchise of the same name and aired from 1994-1995. The series lasted 27 episodes and this 4 disc collection contains them all! The series kicks off with a bit of back story, touching on how Dr. Light and Dr. Wily used to be colleagues, expert scientists in the field of robotics. When a prototype they are working on doesn’t quite perform to their expectations, Dr. Light plans on scrapping it and starting over. However, Dr. Wily, who has a more nefarious agenda in mind, steals the prototype and escapes from the lab, later reworking the prototype in to becoming his first robot henchman . . . Proto Man!! To counteract this threat Dr. Light builds his own bots, a boy bot named Rock and a girl bot named Roll. Dr. Light also has a few other robot prototypes in his lab, and in a raid by Dr. Wily and Proto Man, all five of Dr. Light’s creations are taken captive by this fiend! Rock tricks Dr. Wily and ultimately escapes with Roll in tow, but the three other prototypes are lost for good and reprogrammed by Dr. Wily. They turn in to his next three henchman, now known as Guts Man, Cut Man, and Ice Man! Upon returning to Dr. Light, Rock is redubbed Mega Man. His task is to defend their city, and ultimately the world, from the evil machinations of Dr. Wily and his robot crew! Along the way Roll offers her assistance as does Rush, Mega Man’s robot canine companion! And Mega needs all the help he can get, as Dr. Wily’s penchant for producing evil bots soon goes in to overdrive. Joining the roster of ne’er do wells is Snake Man, Elec Man, Pharaoh Man, Bomb Man, Wood Man, Gemini Man, Spark Man, Dust Man, Air Man, Gyro Man, Hard Man, Fire Man, Top Man, Gravity Man, Star Man, Shadow Man, Ring Man, Drill Man and Magnet Man. I may even be missing a couple! Wily’s schemes vary and include him trying to reprogram Mega Man in order to take control of the Blue Bomber himself, shrinking the world’s cities and demanding ransom, terrorizing the population with a freeze ray, using a meteor to super power his robots, even infiltrating Dr. Light’s school to learn how to properly build an anti-gravity device! Throughout these schemes though Mega Man is on the case, and he repels Dr. Wily at every turn. Unfortunately the series ends with no closure of any kind, as apparently it was supposed to be renewed for a third season but wasn’t, but it’s an amazing ride nonetheless! This could be one of my top ten cartoons of all time, to be honest. So good!

During the week that followed my last blog post I watched a movie I’d found in the bargain bin at Sobey’s . . . A Night at the Roxbury!! This film is based on the old recurring SNL skit that featured Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan bobbing their heads to dance music, and hitting on chicks in the most awkward of manners. In this film they star as Steve and Doug Butabi, brothers who are obsessed with going out clubbing and trying to score . . . although they have never had any luck in doing so! They have a few major problems in their life. First of all their dad Kamehl, owner of a fake flower shop, is always busting their chops about work and responsibility, with Doug seeming to take this offense the hardest. Also, they are mostly looked upon as losers and despite all their trying, can never get in to the club they really want to, called The Roxbury. Finally, a girl named Emily, who is the daughter of the guy who owns the lighting shop next to Kamehl’s flower shop, is in love with Steve and both sets of parents are pushing for them to get married. However, Steve and Doug have other plans, as Doug has a master scheme to open up their own night club and in the process shrug off loser-dom, becoming the virtual epitome of what they hold so dear! There’s only one problem, they have no cash and they have never even been inside of the hottest clubs in town, the aforementioned Roxbury. However, one night fortune favours them when Hollywood actor Richard Grieco slams in to their delivery van from behind, in his less than street legal Ferrari. Not wanting any legal trouble Grieco agrees to get the Butabis in to the Roxbury, once inside they are introduced to the owner, an eccentric millionaire named Benny Zadir. During their conversation Doug mentions some of his ideas to Benny, who likes what he hears, so they all then leave for a private party on Zadir’s estate! Tagging along are Vivica and Cambi, a couple of gold diggers who saw Steve and Doug meeting with Zadir and figured they were rich businessmen! They show the Butabis the ways of love, much to their eventual chagrin. However, in the days after this most glorious of nights, the Butabis are cock blocked in seeing Zadir by his weasel limo driver, Dooey. And with their dad cracking down on their work life, plus Emily working overtime on courting Steve, the brothers soon fall in to despair. After a big blowout Doug moves out to the pool house and the two stop talking. In the weeks that ensue Steve finally hooks up with Emily, soon enough they are planning go get married. As for Doug, he stays out late every night, boozing it up, and becomes a shut in during the day. With the wedding day having finally arrived and Steve holding some major doubts, will Doug shake off his anger and help bail his brother out, or is this just the beginning of even darker times ahead for the Butabi brothers? I don’t think I’d ever seen this movie in full all in one sitting, just bits and pieces at a time, so it was finally nice to sit down and watch it from start to finish! It’s pretty funny, a stupid kind of funny of course, which Will Ferrell thrives at. Anything he touches turns to gold!! I have such fond memories of these characters and the SNL cast from that time period, that this is just a pleasing watch all around.

The week after, James and I finished watching a DVD volume of the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, called Showdown in Dimension X!! This volume encompasses the last half of season two, spread out over 13 episodes. The action starts with a two part episode that features the fearsome foursome, with the help of April and Casey Jones of course, take down a Kraang scheme to unleash giant slugs from Dimension X loose on New York City! After that debacle the tone of the series then shifts towards the subject of Karai and how she is actually Splinter’s daughter, not Shredder’s. Leonardo informs Karai of this fact during one of their usual scuffles and although it doesn’t appear to bother her at first, eventually it weighs heavy and she yearns to know the truth. While Karai comes to terms with her lineage there is no shortage of action though. The turtles have to deal with a new favourite role playing game that comes to life, Baxter Stockman becoming even more of a nuisance after Shredder mutates him in to a fly, the return of the Newtralizer, the shenanigans of a new mutant named Pizza Face, a formidable new henchman of Shredder’s called Tiger Claw, an ancient China Town ghost, among other issues, the least of which includes some visits to the Kraang home world of Dimension X! As the season comes to a close Shredder lays a trap for the turtles, but it fails and Karai ends up getting mutated instead, in to a crazy snake/serpent type of creature. Swearing vengeance on not only the turtles but his nemesis, Splinter, Shredder once again allies with the Kraang in a bid to take over the world, destroy his arch enemies, and get the Kraang’s aid in mutating Karai back to normal in the process. As things wrap up the Kraang invasion of New York City has begun and the turtles are spread way too thin. In over their heads, with Splinter missing and injuries plaguing the group, they head out of the city in order to regroup and come up with a plan of action. This was a pretty cool collection of episodes, featuring the introduction of some cool new characters not to mention the mutations of some previously existing ones! And the danger seems pretty real in these episodes too, the series takes on a darker tone near the end of the season, with the Kraang invasion and all. And I love how they ended the season with the turtles heading out of town to regroup, which mirrors the sequence in the original live action movie all those years ago, very cool! Can’t wait for season three . . .

Later that same week I watched the Ghost Rider movie, which I had already reviewed quite a while back in one of my previous blogs. Because of that I’m not going to post any pictures from this movie, as I have enough images on my profile to begin with, and I don’t want to begin doubling up! Anyways, the movie starts off with the tale of an ancient myth, the story . . . of the Ghost Rider! Every generation has one, an individual who serves as the devil’s bounty hunter, cashing in on evil contracts. However, when one day the devil was to gain possession of a contract that would gift him 1000 evil souls, the Rider stood his ground and refused, escaping Mephistopheles (the devil) and hiding the contract where he hoped it would never be found. Fast forward quite a bit and the story moves along to feature a teenager named Johnny Blaze. Johnny is a motorcycle stunt driver and he makes his living at a carnival, riding in a show alongside his dad, Barton. When Johnny finds out that Barton is dying of cancer he is approached by Mephistopheles, all he has to do is sign a contract that guarantees his dad’s cancer will go away . . . in exchange for his very soul! The deal is done and Barton is cured, but the cruel joke the devil plays is that Barton dies the next day anyways, during a routine stunt gone wrong at the carnival. Johnny is furious and ignores the fact that he is supposed to skip town with his girlfriend Roxanne, he just keeps riding his motorcycle until he eventually runs in to Mephistopheles. This is when the devil passes along the power of the Ghost Rider to Johnny and promises he’ll one day be knocking on Johnny’s door, as he’ll have some tasks in store. We then fast forward once more, to current times, when Johnny is an adult man and is the hottest daredevil in the world! However, he is not without his share of demons, naturally. He keeps pushing the limits during his performances, as he seemingly can’t be hurt no matter how bad he crashes. When one day Roxanne shows up at one of his events (she is now a news reporter), the constant grief that surrounds Johnny is temporarily lifted and he wrangles a date out of her! However, it just so happens that the devil has other plans in mind for Mr. Blaze that night. He is finally coming for Johnny, for he requires the services of the Ghost Rider! Mephistopheles has a predicament. His own son, a fiend known as Blackheart, has come to Earth to find the lost contract. Helping him out are three fallen angels named Wallow, Gressil and Abigor. Not wanting Blackheart to have the power of the lost contract, Mephistopheles tasks Johnny Blaze with stopping this fearsome foursome. Johnny’s first transformation in to the Ghost Rider is a rough one, but he fights these beings off, in the morning waking up in a cemetery being tended to by an older gentlemen named the Caretaker. This man seems to be aware of and sympathizes with Johnny’s plight (and his voice sounds all too similar to the one that narrated the action at the beginning of the film, what!?!). Eventually desperation sets in for Blackheart and he takes Roxanne captive, forcing a showdown between him and the Ghost Rider. Heading in to battle with Johnny is the Caretaker, who reveals himself as Carter Slade, the Texas Ranger that originally hid the contract on Mephistopheles all those years ago! Does Johnny have what it takes to defeat these powerful, more numerous foes, or will he end up losing Roxanne a second time? I really like this movie, I found the story a good one and the effects were awesome . . . the Ghost Rider looks so bloody cool! And I like Nicholas Cage, people either seem to love him or hate him, so that made the movie even better for me. A delightful re-watch all these years later!!

A couple days later I followed Ghost Rider up with the second installment that I had not yet seen, called Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance! This story begins somewhere in Eastern Europe, where a man named Moreau arrives at a monastery and discusses with one of the monks their job of protecting a young boy named Danny. The monastery soon falls to invaders though, Danny and his mother Nadya escape at the last second and are aided by Moreau, although Nadya does not trust him and spurns said aid. With the pursuit of Danny and Nadya temporarily disabled, Moreau decides their protection is a job that can only be handled by . . . the Ghost Rider! It’s been quite a few years since the events of the last film and Johnny Blaze is in Eastern Europe, attempting to lay low, literally trying to hide from his demons. Somehow Moreau knows he’s in the area, and so he searches Johnny out. Johnny is quick to deny Moreau help in protecting this mother/son duo, but after Moreau offers to have his monastery expunge the demon inside of Johnny Blaze in return for this favour, Johnny readily agrees. After some coaxing Johnny is able to make the Ghost Rider appear, he then sets off to find Danny. It’s perfect timing as Danny and his mother just got chased down by the same thugs who attacked the monastery! This first encounter doesn’t go well though, with the Ghost Rider being bombasted with grenades while the thugs take off with Danny in their possession. The next morning, after sneaking out of the hospital, Johnny confronts Nadya and convinces her to let him help track Danny down and get him back safely. While out on their search Nadya let’s Johnny know the truth. In exchange for saving her life, Nadya let the devil impregnate her with what would eventually turn out to be her son, currently the subject of so much attention. When Roarke (aka the devil or Mephistopheles) uses a human form on Earth it soon breaks down as he is too powerful for it. However, his plan is to perform a ritual that will transfer his essence over to Danny’s young, much more than human body, which will give Roarke way too much power for humanity’s own good! Soon back to the task at hand the Ghost Rider attacks Roarke’s hideout and a massive battle ensues. Ultimately Danny is returned to Nadya safely, but when they return to Moreau’s monastery they are in for a rude awakening. After Moreau cleanses Johnny Blaze of the Ghost Rider’s spirit, the monks announce they are going to execute Danny as he is too large a hazard to the world! Before the monks can execute their plan though, a twisted being named Blackout, a creation of Roarke’s, intervenes and recaptures Danny. It is then up to Moreau, Nadya, and a Ghost Rider-less Johnny Blaze to put a plan together and stop Roarke’s master plan from coming to fruition. But with no otherworldly powers at their disposal, does this threesome have a hope in hell, or will they end up as nothing but fodder for the ultimate evil? This was a great follow up to the original Ghost Rider movie, building on the character and the legend. The story was another solid one, and the effects were ramped up a notch, I love it when everything is lit ablaze!! The addition of Idris Elba was a big plus too. Unfortunately I don’t think there is much more Ghost Rider on the horizon for us though . . .

Around the same time I finished reading the third book in The Expanse series, called Abaddon’s Gate. At the end of the last story whatever the protomolecule had been constructing down on the surface of Venus had finally reached completion and shot up from said planet, off in to outer space! It eventually came to rest in orbit around Uranus, where it presented itself as a manner of ring. In the short time it’s been there the various factions of civilization have sent out military ships to secure the area, and scientific ships to study this bizarre construct, which they eventually determine is some sort of gateway . . . to who knows where! With the forces of both Earth and the Martians on sight, the OPA decides they have to represent as well, if they are to legitimately be taken seriously as their own governmental entity. One party that wants to go nowhere near the ring though, is Jim Holden and his crew of the Rocinante! However, they are left with no choice when a cease and desist order comes in from the Martian government, who want to reclaim their “stolen” ship. The foursome are miraculously saved at the last second though, by a famous documentary team who wish to go out to the ring and record the events for posterity. This team just so happens to be able to talk down the Martians from their reclamation of the Rocinante, and for this Holden agrees to fly them out there. Not long after all parties involved arrive and are in place in the vicinity of the ring though, all hell breaks loose! Without warning one of Earth’s large vessels explodes, afterwards a recorded message from Jim Holden is broadcast, who claims ownership of the disaster, stating the ring is his and nobody else’s. However, Holden and his crew had nothing to do with this disaster. But knowing a reprisal is undoubtedly on the way they are left with only one choice, to pass through the ring. Not wanting to let their quarry slip away the Earthers, Martians and OPA all send a ship of their own through, in pursuit of the offenders. However, although the ring is not sentient it is programmed to react to threats, and the sudden arrival of these ships are indeed deemed some degree of threat. The ships are contained within what is deemed a slow zone and their pursuit of the Rocinante is in effect negated. However, while trapped inside the slow zone many events begin to unravel. Holden acts on his feelings surrounding the visions he is getting of Miller, visiting the station within the ring and getting a glimpse of what it’s all about. The Earth, Martian and OPA forces all pool their personnel and resources aboard the OPA’s massive ship, the Behemoth, where a justified mutiny will turn the course of action there in an all too violent manner. A number of poets, celebrities, religious figureheads, etc., all who were out at the ring in an attempt to help make sense of the phenomenon are also involved in the events, and help shape what is to come. And finally, the true identity of the attacker who framed Holden for the bombing of Earth’s ship is needled out and dealt with. But in the end, after so many lost lives and too much wanton violence, are they any closer to understanding just what this protomolecule is and what it’s trying to accomplish? This was yet another excellent entry in this amazing series, I like how each book has continued on with a consistent overall ark to the story, but at the same time have all been so different from each other. There were quite a few cool new characters introduced in this story, along with the demise of some special ones, this story sure is a gritty one. Now for the long wait until the fourth book is finally released!!

As this past weekend came to a close we watched a movie James was super pumped about, which I was able to pick up at HMV recently for cheap . . . Gremlins 2: The New Batch!! We decided to watch the original Gremlins film with him just a short while ago, during this blog period (I didn’t review it as I’d already reviewed it on this blog, within the last couple years or so), and he absolutely loved it! I hadn’t seen this second entry since it aired on cable when I was a kid, so I was excited to watch it again all this time later as well. This story picks up not long after the events of the first film, and it begins with a trip to China Town in New York City. A wealthy developer named Daniel Clamp is approaching Mr. Wing (Gizmo’s owner, who Mr. Peltzer “obtained” Gizmo from not all that long ago, to disastrous results) with yet another offer to buy his shop. For Mr. Wing owns the last store in China Town holding out from selling, preventing Clamp from constructing an all new, state of the art facility that would revamp China Town and bring it in to the modern age! Wing refuses once more, but when Clamp’s men notice Wing has a bad cough they figure the end is near anyways, and so they are not dismayed about having to wait him out. Soon enough Wing dies and Gizmo is orphaned. He is left with no time to mourn though, as Wing’s shop is almost immediately demolished and Gizmo barely escapes with his life. Taking shelter in a nearby alley Gizmo thinks he is safe, until some weirdo captures him and takes him away! The scene then shifts to Billy Peltzer and Kate (soon to be Peltzer) Beringer, who are now living in New York City and working for . . . that’s right, Daniel Clamp! Billy is an upcoming architect while Kate is a tour guide, offering tourists insights in to the workings of New York City’s most modernized skyscraper. Little does Billy know that in that very building, in a genetics lab where all sorts of animal experimentation is going on, little Gizmo has found a new home . . . a new home he wants no part of. When a delivery man who has recently been to said lab makes a stop in Billy’s office, Billy hears him whistling an all too familiar tune! Billy questions the man on this and then immediately heads down to the lab, under the guise of being a copier repair man. Once inside the lab he wastes no time in finding Gizmo and stealing him away. However, after tucking Gizmo away in one of his desk drawers afterwards, Billy is forced to abandon him there for the night when pressured in to going out for dinner with one of his higher ups. At the last second Billy tasks Kate with picking Gizmo up and taking him home with her, but before that can happen all hell manages to break loose! A faulty water fountain sprays Gizmo with an errant stream and from that point onwards, with the new Mogwai being more on the rambunctious side, it’s no holds barred as these creatures have the run of a skyscraper that in itself could serve as a small city! It’s not long before this new batch have hatched from their cocoons and are terrorizing the Clamp building’s inhabitants, and what’s more they waste no time in figuring out there are many sources of water in the building with which they can use to increase their numbers. The Gremlins also get in to the aforementioned genetics lab and drink a lot of different potions, which mutates a small number of them, lending them additional powers. At first nobody believed Billy about these Gremlins, but soon enough Daniel Clamp himself is personally asking Billy to help save the day. Will Billy and Kate’s previous experiences with these pint sized monsters be enough to pull them through, or are they finally in over their heads? This was a fantastic follow up to the original movie. It shifted the scene, the season, and the manner of the action greatly, but behind it all was the same lighthearted horror/comedy that made Gremlins such a wonderful film in the first place. Both Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates are back to reprise their roles as Billy and Kate, but there were also some great new additions such as Christopher Lee, not to mention cameos by Hulk Hogan, Bubba Smith, Dick Butkus, and Leonard Maltin! I’m seriously hoping they make a Gremlins 3 at this point, as I’ve heard rumours that it may be in the works . . .

Last blog's theme was outer space, but this time around we have the wild west . . . and outer space!!

Wow, been about a month since my last blog, and life done been busy!! The weekends actually haven’t been that bad for the last while though, which is unusual, it’s just been the weekdays really. All of the weekends that have passed since my last blog we’ve pretty much spent at home. The weekend after my last blog we went to nearby St. Thomas with both my dad and mrs. darthcobain17’s dad, as we had a Groupon for a brewery tour at Railway City Brewery. It was my first brewery tour and it was very cool, the girl that gave us the tour was super-hot and friendly! Combine that with a pleasant buzz after some sampling and you’ve got an afternoon filled with fun. Afterwards we went back to my parents’ house for dinner and that was pretty much it.

As for the past three weekends, we’ve literally had nothing to do, spending the time almost entirely at home . . . quite refreshing!! James and I have been playing basement hockey, video games, and watching cartoons to fill the time, amongst other things like building Lego, etc. Just perfect. During the weeks though it’s been a different story. James is now seeing a tutor one night a week, which is going very well, plus he’s been going over to friends’ houses for lots of playdates. And he still has Beavers going too. His latest round of golf lessons began a couple weeks ago and they are taking place at my old public school, which is both very cool and kind of weird all at the same time! I wandered around the school a bit last time and could pretty much locate all of my old classrooms. Shit, that was a long time ago, I is old. As for the weather, in late January we finally got all the snow we had been missing, and it all decided to come at once! Last weekend I spent a good chunk of time outside scraping the snow off the roof, to try and get those god damned skylights to stop leaking! Aye carumba. Oh well, first world problems I suppose. Along the way I played a lot of games and watched a lot of good shit, here it all is . . .

1) To start off with I broke tradition and was able to knock off two more levels on Goldeneye . . . whaaaaatttt!? Level eight was called “Severnaya – Surface”, to set the stage we had tracked the helicopter from our last mission back to Severnaya, the frozen tundra I had already visited earlier in the game! Evidence of a firefight was picked up, so my job was to revisit the area and try to find any proof of Janus activity in the region. I began by trekking through the familiar frozen landscape, only this time there was a ton of resistance on hand, so I couldn’t explore the various cabins located throughout the area at my leisure, I had to haul ass! I found a cabin with a camera mounted above the door though, which looked suspicious, upon exploring the interior I found a comms room key. Spying the large satellite facility in the distance I headed there and used said key to access the upstairs office, destroying the equipment within and disrupting the enemies’ satellite link. I had made quite an impression at this point, so even more attention was directed my way unfortunately! Fighting off heavy resistance I hightailed it out in to the open where I found the Spetznaz helicopter warming up. My last objective was to destroy it, before slipping in to the nearby bunker. I finished the level with a time of 7:04 and had a 72.6% accuracy rating. The ninth game level was called “Severnaya – Bunker”, and after many tries I finally had to dumb down the difficulty level even further, finally making the switch to “Agent” . . . oh the shame! After slipping in to the bunker at the end of my last mission, I was apparently taken captive. So my main focus was, of course, escape, but I was also tasked with obtaining a few things along the way. To begin I engaged in conversation with a cell mate named Natalya, who had been labelled a traitor to her mother country. While conversing with her (about the theft of the Goldeneye weapon and other intriguing things) I used my watch magnet device to obtain a key to my cell, then slipped out and took down the lone guard! I nabbed his gun, a set of throwing knives, as well as the key to Natalya’s cell. Before freeing her though, I began skulking through the facility and used my throwing knives to silently reduce the enemies’ numbers. Along the way I found a safe key, a document that contained the Severnaya staff list, a couple of key cards that allowed me further access to the facility, as well as the video tape of my initial capture. Eventually I cleared out a computer room and found the safe. Upon opening it with my key I obtained my confiscated weapons along with a red dossier which contained the Goldeneye Operations Manual. Moving on I passed through a large, open room full of cargo and after clearing it, came across a clipboard that featured a casualty list. The final area I had yet to explore was the large operations room, and after clearing it of all resistance I went back and fetched Natalya. Back in the operations room afterwards she checked the status of the Goldeneye satellite and found out that it was currently trained on the Severnaya facility . . . so we had to beat a hasty retreat before we were blown to smithereens! I finished this level with a time of 18:14 and had a 69.2% accuracy rating.

2) Yet another series is complete on my season of MLB 2K11. This time around I traveled to San Francisco, to take on the Giants. Events unfolded as such: won @ San Francisco 7-0, won @ San Francisco 8-0 & won @ San Francisco 2-0 . . . I was expecting them to be a little tougher, to be honest!!

3) The mop up operation on Lego: Lord of the Rings is at long last complete . . . a big game over here, baby!! To begin I replayed the last five levels of the game I had yet to get at, which included the one that actually comes first in the game, the prologue level, which I had forgotten about. My progress went as such: “The Paths of the Dead” (found the last 7 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, as well as finding all Treasure items and the Tablet]), “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” (earned True Adventurer status, found the last 8 Minikit pieces, the last 2 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 4 Silver Bricks [for the status achievement, completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]), “The Black Gate” (earned True Adventurer status, found 10/10 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 4 Silver Bricks [for the status, completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]), “Mount Doom” (found the last 8 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]) & “Prologue” (found the last 9 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]). While wandering around in the game hub between all of this action, I also managed to obtain 47 Silver Bricks, 1 Tablet, and I also managed to complete 26 Quests. As for purchases, I was able to acquire the Citadel Guard, Gondor Soldier, Boromir (Captain), Gondor Ranger, Haradrim, Gothmog, Mordor Orc, Lurtz & Soldier of the Dead characters. I also purchased 10 Red Bricks, which unlocked for me the Action Assist, Character Studs, Mithril Hearts, Studs X4, Studs X6, Fall Rescue, 8-bit Music, Invincibility, Studs X8 & Studs X10 extras! The last bit of errand running I did saw me visit the Blacksmith in Bree, where I crafted the last of the Mithril items I had access to. Said items included the Mithril Top Hat, Shield, Fire Bow, Bottomless Bucket, Skeleton Bow, Tinderbox, Ice Sword, Camouflage Tome, Climbing Boots & Shockwave Axe! Afterwards I headed back to two levels from earlier in my mop up effort that I couldn’t quite get totally completed, but at this point I now could. Said levels included: “Helm’s Deep” (found the last 2 Minikit pieces and for doing so, earned 1 Silver Brick) & “Taming Gollum” (earned True Adventurer status, and gained a Silver Brick for it). And that is all, game over!! I’m going to give this game a rating of 8, although it’s more like an 8.5 . . . I would have given it a 9.5 or even a 10, but it had some issues with glitching, getting stuck in spots every so often, and also the colouring of the game was very dark, sometimes it was hard to see what you were doing and where you were going. Otherwise it was pretty fantastic though, as Lego games tend to be!

4) I played a little more NHL ’04 than usual this time around, rubbing out the next six games on my season. Said contests unfolded as such: won vs. Buffalo 19-3, won @ Pittsburgh 14-5, won vs. Boston 16-4, won @ Carolina 15-4, won vs. Montreal 16-8 & won vs. Carolina 15-5. A little better than my real life Leafs, who all of a sudden suck balls! They have collapsed once again this year, I just hope they collapse enough to get the first pick in the draft this June so we can snag Connor McDavid. They’ll probably find a way to screw that up too . . .

5) Similarly, I got a lot more done on Jak X: Combat Racing than I thought I would, especially considering to start play off this time around I made the move up to the “Blue Eco Cup”! The game is getting harder, but I just keep getting better! Anyhoo, to start play off on this new circuit, I first visited “Haven City” and participated in a single event there called “Eastern Tour – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). I then went and visited three more destinations in a row, getting in a single event at each one. The locations in question were “Spargus”, “Kras City” & “Icelands”. The events, respectively, went down as such: “Canyon Run – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal), “Waterfront Loop – Death Race” (won the race, gold medal) & “Icebound Citadel – Freeze Rally” (won the event, gold medal). I then headed back to “Spargus”, where I knocked down a trio of events that included: “Desert Arena – Artifact Race” (won the event, gold medal), “Beachfront Drive – Rush Hour” (won the event, gold medal) & “Northern Tour – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). Another trio of events was up next, this time at “Kras City”, and they included: “Seaport Strip – Turbo Dash” (won the event, gold medal), “Dirt Stadium – Capture” (won the event, gold medal) & “Loading Docks – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). It was then time to run a qualifier event at “Grand Prix”, the event in question was “Kras City – Freeze Rally” (won the event, gold medal). I finished up by visiting “Haven City”, where I found success in the “Clifftop Battlefield – Deathmatch” event (won the event, gold medal). Rollin’!!

6) Much more was recorded for Transformers: Beast Wars on this occasion too, I’m just now beginning to realize how much I got accomplished over the last month! To begin with I finished the last three levels of the game, as I was pretty close to the end at where I left off last time. Said trio of levels went as follows: “Volcanic 1 – Proximity Alert” (we received an alert that Megatron’s army was set to engage in an attack on the Axalon, my task was to secure the area around the ship in hopes of preventing said attack), “Volcanic 2 – Counter Strike” (with Megatron’s armies depleted the recommended follow up was to march in to Predacon territory and secure their ship, further hindering their efforts, and I did so after navigating a treacherous volcanic landscape) & “Volcanic 3 – Supreme Victory” (with the Predacons destroyed and their ship breached, my final task was to track down the Predacon leader and dispatch him, which I did after navigating the many pitfalls of the Darksyde . . . Megatron dead, game over!). But the game wasn’t really over, for I had simply completed the missions under the Maximals faction . . . it was now time to indulge my evil side and execute the missions for the Predacons!! So far I’ve been able to finish three of them, as such: “Urban 1 – Night Attack” (the Maximal Rhinox had expanded his base within reach of Tarantulas’ lair, my mission was to invade said base and neutralize the threat it presented, and I did so after navigating the maze like territory and fighting through much resistance), “Urban 2 – Energy Source” (scans showed Rhinox was in full retreat, but they also detected a large mobile energy source outside of Rhinox’s fortress, I was tasked with continuing my pursuit of the Maximal and to eliminate all resistance along the way) & “Urban 3 – Heart of the City” (the energy source I chased down and destroyed was a durable mech, within it was a powerful energy cell, in order to get Predacon hands on said cell I was jobbed with engaging Rhinox in a boss fight, ending his threat once and for all). Well over halfway through this sucker now, woot woot!

7) As per the usual, two more levels are complete on X-Men: Destiny. The fifth level of the game came next, and it was called “Alcatraz Sub-Levels”. With both the X-Men and the Mutant Response Division spread thin, Reyes authorized a group of Sentinels to aid me in my further explorations of Alcatraz prison. I began by exploring the corridors of the sub-levels of Alcatraz, not long in to my trek Emma sent a message warning me that the Purifiers were giving the captured mutants to the U-Men. The U-Men in turn were doing experiments on the mutants, in an attempt to bottle their different powers and use them to make weapons . . . ultimately they’d be using our own powers against us! With a newfound drive to shut them down I forged onwards, getting wind of a new magnetic walker prototype somewhere in the vicinity. However, the walker was shielded, so before I could get at it I had to locate two shield generators and destroy them. Afterwards I gave the walker the same destructive treatment, battling turrets, Purifiers and U-Men all the while. Moving on I took out four U-Men security teams while searching for evidence of another entity in the facility that also seemed bent on the U-Men’s downfall. During said search I destroyed some generators that unwittingly began a self-destruct sequence for the facility, so I then hightailed it through a large door and made my way to the experimentation labs. There I was able to free both Archangel and Xorn, before running in to a damaged Sabretooth, who informed me that a rampaging Sentinel was on the loose! I took the bot down and the level ended with Sabretooth and I mulling over who was behind this whole scheme. Level six was called “Alcatraz Tunnels”, it picked up with me in the tunnels that led to the area where the U-Men were creating these mutant powered weapons. I began searching for their leader, taking out many U-Men and Sentinels along the way, including five security teams. Afterwards I disabled some security computers, before running in to a locked door. I soon got it open, after destroying the two generators that powered it’s locking mechanism, but I then had to backtrack to find the door again, as I’d lost track of it! Along the way I learned that the U-Men weren’t creating straight weapons per se, but cybernetics that were infused with these mutant powers. Eventually I found the security door I’d been looking to get back to and entered it, first coming across a database that contained some archives, which I accessed. Evidence within said files suggested that Professor Xavier’s death was indeed no accident dammit! Moving on I next rescued Pixie, who thought we could learn even more from the databases this facility contained. I went and accessed three more machines, which gave us information on Cyclops, Magneto, Luis Reyes, not to mention the threat of a potential mutant elimination procedure! Meeting up with Pixie again soon after, one of the U-Men’s experiments was sicked on us, and it had mutant replicating powers. Taking the form of Wolverine, Emma, Mystique, not to mention some other guy I was unfamiliar with, I had to take this thing down in all it’s various forms! After the boss battle was over a being named Bastion infiltrated the nearby mainframe computer, which I destroyed, before Pixie teleported us out of there!

8) Our adventures on Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed is nearly over, at least on the “World Tour” mode anyways! We’ve collected just about as many as stars as we possibly can, but are still short in our grand total, meaning there are a lot of levels we can’t quite get at yet as well as additional racers we can’t unlock. Beating certain events on A class, sometimes even B class in this game, sure is a tricky proposition! Anyways, here are the final events we completed to finish up our play on World Tour: “Arcade Annihilation – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Curien Curve – Drift Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star) & “Jet Set Jaunt – Boost Challenge” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star). These events all took place within the “Moonlight Park” area. After they were finished off a new event in the “Scorching Skies” area opened up, called “Carrier Crisis – Sprint” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star). At this point we decided to try out another of the game’s main modes, called “Grand Prix”. This is very much like the Grand Prix mode in the Mario Kart series, it consists of a number of circuits that each group four races together, with racers earning points for their respective finishing positions in each race. The racer with the highest point total at the end of all races is the winner! We’ve completed all five circuits available, the first of which was called the “Dragon Cup”. There we took part in the “Oceanview” (placed 3 and 10 respectively), “Samba Studios” (2 and 10), “Carrier Zone” (4 and 10) & “Dragon Canyon” (2 and 10) races. Overall I won the circuit with 33 total points. Next up was the “Rogue Cup”, which consisted of the “Temple Trouble” (1 and 10), “Galactic Parade” (1 and 9), “Seasonal Shrines” (1 and 10) & “Rogue’s Landing” (1 and 9) races. Overall I won the circuit with 40 points. The “Emerald Cup” circuit was next, which saw us knock down the “Dream Valley” (1 and 7), “Chilly Castle” (3 and 10), “Graffiti City” (6 and 10) & “Sanctuary Falls” (1 and 10) races. Overall I nabbed the circuit win with 33 points. “Arcade Cup” was next on the docket, which featured the “Graveyard Gig” (1 and 10), “Adder’s Lair” (1 and 10), “Burning Depths” (5 and 10) & “Race of Ages” (1 and 10) races. I won the circuit with a total of 36 points. And the final circuit was “Classic Cup”, containing the “Sunshine Tour” (1 and 7), “Shibuya Downtown” (3 and 6), “Roulette Road” (4 and 9) & “Egg Hangar” (1 and 7) races. My 35 points were good enough for the circuit victory. For completing these various circuits we unlocked the “Mirror Mode” feature for Grand Prix mode, as well as my Mii as a playable character in the game! Next up . . . why Mirror Mode, of course!

9) Next we come to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Danger of the Ooze, which is now almost complete!! But I’m currently stuck on what I believe may be the final boss fight of the game, against Shredder . . . stuck in a big way! Anyways, picking up from where I left off last time I discovered a new section of underground sewers explored them, running in to many Mousers and Kraang aliens to dispatch, even a few Squirrelnoids. This route eventually led me to an alternate entrance to the TCRI building, inside I battled my way past more Kraang, including a new kind that were all blue in colour. Along the way I found the Shock Shurikens as well as the Tekagi Climbing Claws, which gave me access to more treacherous areas I previously could not enter. At the top of the TCRI building I came upon a machine that produced a portal, capable of transporting one directly to . . . Dimension X!! I entered it and began exploring the alien landscape on the other side, engaging some Kraang along with these bizarre fart aliens!! In the process I acquired the Bomb Shurikens, before coming to a brief portion of the landscape where everything became inverted . . . up was down, left was right, etc. Soon after I ran in to Leatherhead, who informed me that the Newtralizer was up ahead, and he was in possession of some sort of weapon. Leatherhead also gifted us the Ninja Vanish ability. Forging onwards I soon ran in to the aforementioned Newtralizer, who had just finished throwing said weapon through a portal, with Shredder as it’s intended recipient. I engaged the Newtralizer and took him down in a boss fight, before entering the same portal the weapon went through. Back on the other side I found myself in the sewers once again, now in possession of the mystery weapon . . . but also surrounded by hordes of Kraang! Fortunately Splinter showed up and saved our bacon. Shredder then had a Mouser deliver a video message, in it he said he had kidnapped Karai and would trade her for the weapon. So we rushed off to find Shredder, wanting to rescue Splinter’s daughter, but before doing so Splinter gave us the Air Special ability. Heading topside we were eventually able to sniff out the Shredder and engaged him in a boss fight . . . a boss fight I have not been able to win just yet! Wish me luck . . .

10) As for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, we didn’t put a ton of effort in to it this time around, but we did manage a few rounds. Continuing on with our team battles we were able to unlock both the Dark Pit and Dr. Mario characters. Afterwards, playing by myself for a change, I went and tried one of the various different game modes. The one I tried was called “Classic”. In it there is a surface that looks like a chess board, only without the squares on it, and you have to move a statue like representation of your character around it. When you bump in to other characters’ statues you then head off for a battle against the character(s) in question. I won on my first time through, using King Dedede, only running in to trouble during the last round, which I believe is the seventh round. The final boss, Master Hand, gave me some push back but I eventually laid him low. For my win I unlocked some gold pieces, items, statues, etc., but I have no idea what they all mean or do! This game is fun, but it’s a hot mess to be honest. The menus are so full of stuff, I have no idea what any of it means or what I’m supposed to be doing! I’ll just keep on experimenting though and we’ll see if I can figure it out.

11) We also put just a bit of work in on Nintendo Land, trying some of the mini-games that we hadn’t gotten around to yet. Here is the next series of games we played: “Octopus Dance” (high score of 627 points, obtained a silver trophy, and earned 1/5 stamps), “Balloon Trip Breeze” (high score of 667 points, obtained a bronze trophy, and earned 1/5 stamps) & “Pikmin Adventure: Tame the Wilderness” (chose the Challenge option, Play as Olimar, and completed the Bulborb Forest level, earning 1/5 stamps).

12) I tripled my output on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 this time around, as initially I was only able to complete the first level. This time around I went at it a little bit harder! The levels in this game really aren’t hard and fast “levels” per se, I just consider it a new level once the game shifts to a new location and focuses on a new sequence of tasks. The second level began at The Burrow, on the eve of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s wedding. Outside the tent with Ron and Hermione we first had a brief conversation with Mr. Lovegood, then met up with Arthur Weasley, who we were informed was waiting for us over by the shed. Arthur told us that Dumbledore had left our trio some items in his passing. Ron got the Deluminator, Hermione got a book called The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Harry got the golden snitch along with the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which had actually gone missing. Not much later the wedding was attached by Death Eaters and the tent went up in flames! We fought our way back towards the tent but there were too many enemies in our way, so we apparated to the streets of London. To kick the third level off we got changed out of our wedding attire, in to something a little more streetwise. I then left Ron and Hermione in hiding while I donned the Invisibility Cloak, making a number of reconnaissance runs down the nearby streets. The purpose of them was to eavesdrop on any nearby citizens and try to determine if any of them were Death Eaters. After coming to the decision that the coast was clear we decided to head to a nearby café, but once inside we were ambushed by a couple of Death Eaters and had to fight them off, testing out our new Impedimentus spell in the process! Immediately afterwards we apparated away to safety once again. We decided to apparate to Sirius Black’s old house at Grimmauld Place to kick off the fourth level, and we immediately began searching it for . . . well, anything really! I found some Doxies in the kitchen and used Doxycide to be rid of the pests, then headed upstairs and found more of them in one of the bedrooms. We then found the initials of Regulus Black on one of the walls, which Harry was able to link to one of the horcruxes, based on some info Dumbledore had shared! We decided the nasty little house elf, Kreacher, could probably provide us with some intel on the whereabouts of said horcrux. So we traipsed back to the kitchen and found the beasty there, although he was not all that cooperative! After some convincing though, he let it slip that he had tried to destroy it, as per Regulus’ orders, but couldn’t. The last person he thought had possession of it was Mundungus Fletcher, so we instructed Kreacher to go see if he could find him. While Kreacher was away we continued exploring the house and staved off a Dementor, before both Kreacher and Dobby apparated back with Mundungus in tow! After questioning Mundungus he revealed to us that he had sold the horcrux to Umbridge . . . shit. More to come!

13) Mario Kart 8 got blown wide open, much like Sonic did last time around! We continued on the “Grand Prix” mode, picking up where we left off last time, in the middle of the action under the 100c.c. class. The next circuit on the docket was the “Flower Cup”, James and I used Bowser and Daisy as our racers, respectively. The results were as follows: “Mario Circuit” (1 and 8), “Toad Harbor” (1 and 12), “Twisted Mansion” (1 and 8) & “Shy Guy Falls” (2 and 10). I won the circuit with 57 points, unlocking the Rosalina character. Next up was the “Star Cup” circuit, where we employed Yoshi and Rosalina as our racers. The results were: “Sunshine Airport” (2 and 6), “Dolphin Shoals” (1 and 10), “Electrodome” (1 and 6) & “Mount Wario” (2 and 6). I won the circuit with a total of 54 points, unlocking the Lemmy character! Yarrrrrr!! The “Special Cup” came next, where we utilized Toad . . . and Toad! Events unfolded as such: “Cloudtop Cruise” (1 and 12), “Bone-Dry Dunes” (2 and 12), “Bowser’s Castle” (1 and 8) & “Rainbow Road” (5 and 12). I took the circuit with 50 points, unlocking the Larry character. Up next was the “Shell Cup”, where Wario and Lakitu were our drivers . . . the action went thusly: “Moo Moo Meadows” (1 and 9), “Mario Circuit” (5 and 2), “Cheep Cheep Beach” (1 and 9) & “Toad’s Turnpike” (1 and 9). I won the overall circuit with 53 points, unlocking the Iggy character. Donkey Kong’s favourite, the “Banana Cup” fell next, and we doubled up on Rosalina as our drivers! The races included: “Dry Dry Desert” (1 and 10), “Donut Plains” (1 and 12), “Royal Raceway” (4 and 9) & “DK Jungle” (2 and 7). I took the circuit with 51 points . . . no more unlocks!! The second last circuit was “Leaf Cup”, which saw us pick Lakitu and James’ Mii. Events went as follows: “Wario Stadium” (1 and 9), “Sherbet Land” (1 and 7), “Music Park” (4 and 12) & “Yoshi Valley” (1 and 9). I won the circuit with 54 points. Last came the “Lightning Cup”, where the duo of Toadette and Toad took to the track. The races unfolded as so: “Tick-Tock Clock” (1 and 8), “Piranha Plant Slide” (2 and 12), “Grumble Volcano” (1 and 12) & “Rainbow Road” (2 and 8). I won the circuit with 54 points. It was then time to begin the last class available . . . the feared 150c.c. class! Some circuits took a couple tries, but for the most part we did OK. As usual the action began with the “Mushroom Cup”, which saw us use Iggy and Wendy as our racers. The results came down as follows: “Mario Kart Stadium” (1 and 7), “Water Park” (2 and 5), “Sweet Sweet Canyon” (1 and 10) & “Thwomp Ruins” (4 and 11). Overall I won the circuit with 51 points. The “Flower Cup” was next, which saw us pilot Roy and James’ Mii around the track, the events went as such: “Mario Circuit” (1 and 9), “Toad Harbor” (2 and 12), “Twisted Mansion” (1 and 10) & “Shy Guy Falls” (1 and 9). I won the circuit with 57 points. “Star Cup” followed, Morton and Shy Guy were our drivers of choice, who performed thusly: “Sunshine Airport” (1 and 11), “Dolphin Shoals” (1 and 6), “Electrodome” (4 and 11) & “Mount Wario” (4 and 12). I finished second overall in the circuit with a total of 48 points. In line next was the “Special Cup”, which saw Ludwig and Shy Guy strap in. Their performances netted the following results: “Cloudtop Cruise” (2 and 6), “Bone-Dry Dunes” (4 and 12), “Bowser’s Castle” (1 and 8) & “Rainbow Road” (8 and 12). I placed second overall with 41 points. Our next stop was for the “Shell Cup”, where Wendy and Toad did our driving. The action went as so: “Moo Moo Meadows” (1 and 6), “Mario Circuit” (1 and 12), “Cheep Cheep Beach” (4 and 8) & “Toad’s Turnpike” (2 and 10). I won the overall circuit with 51 points. The “Banana Cup” was on next, and we chose Larry and Morton as our drivers. The action broke down as follows: “Dry Dry Desert” (1 and 10), “Donut Plains” (5 and 11), “Royal Raceway” (3 and 11) & “DK Jungle” (1 and 12). I finished second overall with 48 points. “Leaf Cup” was the penultimate circuit, and it witnessed Lemmy and Toadette doing the racing. Said racing came down as so: “Wario Stadium” (1 and 9), “Sherbet Land” (3 and 11), “Music Park” (3 and 7) & “Yoshi Valley” (3 and 10). I nabbed another second place finish with 45 points. Finally the “Lightning Cup” came around again, for it we selected Metal Mario and Koopa Troopa to do the honours! The results were as follows: “Tick-Tock Clock” (1 and 8), “Piranha Plant Slide” (1 and 7), “Grumble Volcano” (6 and 10) & “Rainbow Road” (2 and 7). I won the circuit in a very close fight, with a spartan 49 points! So that’s it for Grand Prix mode! Now we’re off to explore the other game modes Mario Kart 8 may have to offer . . .

14) Finally, with getting stuck at the end of Danger of the Ooze, I decided to start another game for the 3DS to keep me going. It just so happened to be the game James got me for Christmas . . . BeyBlade: Evolution! In this title you take on the role of an unspecified kid (or is it really you?) and engage other people in actual BeyBlade battles, just like in real life! It’s pretty cool. There’s not much back story to it or anything, you turn the game on and kind of get a rundown on your environment and what you’re supposed to do, from a guy named Blader DJ. After that you are free to wander your environment and interact with and battle other bladers, in the early stages of the game many of them give you tips and tricks that function as a sort of tutorial. My first visit was to the Park, where I met a chap named Gingka . . . against him I won my first battle! Unfortunately I lost my follow up match, against a boy named Kenta. I then visited the Plaza and met Tsubasa, a match I lost, then ran in to Masamune and lost again!! At this point I was able to visit the Bey Coliseum, where I entered my first tournament. Unfortunately I lost the first battle against Benkei and was eliminated because of it. To console myself I went to the B-Pit and bought my first BeyBlade part with some of the credits I’d earned . . . nothing like some shopping to cheer a guy up! As I said earlier, these bladers offer tutorials throughout our battles, I learned about the different types of stadiums and how to approach them, spirit power, and many other helpful items. Next I headed to the Vacant Lot where I got back on the winning track, defeating both Tsubasa and Masamune, but when I headed back to the Plaza I lost to Kenta once more. It was then time to try my hand at another tournament, and it was pitiful! Engaging Toby in a series of 4 battles I managed to lose all of them, hanging my head in much shame. At the Vacant Lot I played my first mini-game, called Balloon Break, and it didn’t go so well. To make matters worse I lost a follow up battle to Masamune. A bit of luck followed me afterwards, as I beat Gingka at the Park, then won the Aim and Shoot mini-game, before going shopping again and buying some more parts! The last thing I did was lose to Tsubasa at the Plaza. I’m on a bit of a learning curve for this one!

“NNGRR” - Late in the week that followed my last blog post, I watched the latest movie in the Thor franchise called Thor: The Dark World! This film began much the way the original did . . . with a bit of back story. Ages ago, almost before the light itself, King Odin’s father, Bor, battled a fierce enemy named Malekith. Malekith was the leader of a race called “Dark Elves”, and they sought to extinguish the light in the universe, wanting to plunge all nine of the realms in to darkness. However, Bor and his Asgardian forces were not about to let that happen, so they battled Malekith’s forces vehemently. Ultimately they won and in doing so seemingly destroyed the source of Malekith’s power, a mysterious substance called the Aether. In truth the Aether was not destroyed but taken to a secret place Bor hoped no one would ever find it again. Fast forward to current times and it’s been about two years since Thor’s banishment to Earth, two years since he fell in love with the human Jane Foster. Thor and his mates have been spreading peace through the nine realms by putting down insurgencies, the most recent one he returns from on Vanaheim. As for Jane Foster, she has been trying to seek out Thor since he left, quite upset that he never came back for her. Jane, Darcy and Erik’s latest adventures have taken them to London, England, where they’ve picked up some funky readings with their specialized scientific equipment. While in the midst of investigating some of these readings Jane slips through a gateway to one of the other nine realms (for the great Convergence is forthcoming) . . . and unwittingly becomes infected with the Aether, releasing it to the world for the first time in millennia! Jane comes to back in London, where she first entered the gateway, and not long afterwards Thor shows up, inciting a pretty exciting reunion! It is quite apparent that Jane is sick though, for the Aether is causing strange reactions to take place within her body. So Thor flies her to Asgard and enlists some Asgardian healers to try and help her. In the meantime the arrival of the Aether back in to the world has awoken Malekith, who has been hibernating within his ship for eons, waiting for his chance to take revenge on the Asgardians . . . and this may very well be his chance. After making his presence violently known to the people of Asgard, Thor approaches Odin with a plan of action to end the threat the Dark Elves present, but Odin denies Thor, thinking it too dangerous. Enlisting the aid of his trusted allies once again, Thor defies his father and frees Loki, who has been imprisoned in Asgard’s dungeons since his transgressions in the first movie. Thor and Loki then take the fight to Malekith, on the neutral grounds of Svartalfheim. But when Thor and Loki’s plan to have Malekith draw the Aether out of Jane so that Thor can destroy it doesn’t quite go as planned, the fighting then moves to London . . . and Thor may finally have met his match. Can the god of thunder pull this one out at the last second, or is humanity in for a heaping spoonful of evil darkness? This film was a great follow up to the first one, consistent in it’s vibe and storylines, only the action was ramped up even further. Very curious to see if they have plans for a third entry at this point . . .

Near the conclusion of the weekend that followed we took James to the movies, to see Paddington! I was a big fan of him as a youngster, and mrs. darthcobain17 remembers him fondly as well, so it was a no brainer. Anyhoo, the film begins back in the 1950’s or so, I’m guessing, when an explorer named Montgomery Clyde heads to the forbidding land of darkest Peru. Once there he makes a startling discovery, a family of bears that are so intelligent he is capable of teaching them to talk! In all the time he spends with these bears he also inspires in them a great love of marmalade. Upon leaving the jungle and heading back to England, Clyde tells the bears they are welcome in London any time, where they would surely receive a warm welcome. Fast forward many years to more current times, and the two bears (named Pastuzo and Lucy) are much older, living happily with their curious nephew Paddington . . . although he hasn’t quite earned the name just yet! One day while harvesting oranges an earthquake hits the jungle, their home is destroyed, and Pastuzo has gone missing. Unable to take care of Paddington by herself, Lucy urges him to head to London and seek out the explorer her and Pastuzo had spent time with all those years ago. Stealing away on a cargo vessel Paddington eventually winds up in London, but the warm welcome Mr. Clyde had promised is nowhere in sight. The people of London barely take notice of him, nobody seems willing to help, so he ends up stranded at Paddington Station (and there’s that new name!) . . . until the Brown family happens by, that is! Mrs. Brown, Mary, takes a shine to Paddington and attempts to convince her grumpy husband Henry to let her take him home for the night. She soon gets her way and they all head for home. Her son Jonathan is excited about having Paddington stay with the family, while her daughter Judy is at best indifferent. It doesn’t take Paddington long to leave his mark at the Brown household, for he trashes the bathroom completely by accident, among other incidents. In doing so he starts to gain the younger Browns’ affection, which helps bring brother and sister closer together. Henry is still adamant that Paddington has to go though, so Mary tries to help him locate the explorer who originally came to darkest Peru, using a clue they find within the hat Paddington wears (which Mr. Clyde had originally left behind in Peru). The search doesn’t pay off right away, and soon Paddington finds himself being pursued by a strange being who is trying to capture him! While defending himself from said being, the Browns’ kitchen suffers a small fire, and when Henry gets home it’s pretty much the last straw as they don’t believe Paddington’s tale of an intruder in the house. That night Paddington decides to voluntarily leave the Brown household while everybody is asleep, spending a miserable night out in the rainy London streets. Working on the clues they had gleaned from his hat though, Paddington comes up with a list of possible addresses for Montgomery Clyde. At the very last address on his list Paddington finally gets lucky . . . although it’s not good luck, it’s very very bad luck!! The person who answers the door is a stunning blonde who seems nice in Paddington’s opinion, but in reality she’s that same person who had been trying to capture the bear! This femme is an evil woman and a taxidermist, named Millicent Clyde, Montgomery Clyde’s own daughter! She is miffed because when Montgomery got back from darkest Peru oh so long ago and was asked why he didn’t bring back a specimen (aka a stuffed bear), he told his brethren at the Geographer’s Guild that they were smart, amazing creatures and he couldn’t possibly do that to them. Clyde was then stripped of his membership and the life of luxury the Clyde family had been living came crashing down . . . hence Millicent’s longstanding bitterness. Her plan is to stuff Paddington and put him on display, and she tells him as much. Knocked out from the drugs she’s injected him with, Paddington’s only hope is the Brown family, who have awoken to a bear-less household and immediately feel the great void it has left. Can this crazy family pull together in their time of greatest need and ferret out what happened to their beloved bear . . . or will they soon be seeing him on display at the Natural History Museum? This was a great flick, a sure fire family hit! I don’t doubt that all those realists out there will have multitudes of issues with a walking, talking bear roaming the streets of London and nobody being concerned about it, but that’s how you think when you’re a stupid, unoriginal asshole. This film had lots of heart, and it was made by the folks who created the Harry Potter movies, I found it had that same sort of magical vibe to it. The cast was amazing, mostly a bunch of folks I was unfamiliar with who did a bang up job. And the work that went in to creating Paddington paid off in spades, he was awesome, and funny too. We’ll own this one eventually, methinks!!

Late during the next work week I finished reading the second book of The Expanse series, called Caliban’s War. It’s been about a year since Detective Miller rode Eros station, along with the protomolecule, in to the surface of Venus. In the meantime Earth and Mars have been divvying up resources throughout the solar system after nearly coming to blows in the first book. They’ve also both been monitoring events on Venus, which has been undergoing dramatic changes ever since Eros station slammed in to it . . . but all they can do is guess at what’s happening down there based on the data their ships’ sensors are sending them. It’s not long before the fragile peace the universe has temporarily settled in to is shattered though. The large moon of Ganymede is an important resource for all in the galaxy. In labs that dot it’s surface food and plant life is grown to help support those populations who cannot grow them on their own, such as Mars. There are both U.N. (Earth) and Martian marines on site, making sure their sides each get their respective share. However, one evening the U.N. forces appear to be launching an attack on the Martian marines, but as said marines watch the apparent attack develop, they realize the U.N. troops are actually running towards the Martians in an attempt to solicit their aid . . . for they are being chased by a terrifying abomination with glowing blue eyes! Said abomination, despite all the rounds the Martian marines pump in to it, cannot be destroyed. This creature tears through the Marines with ease, but as it’s about to finish off the very last one, a femme named Roberta “Bobbie” Draper, it self-destructs. Bobbie is eventually rescued and ultimately escorted to Earth to parlay her tale to the higher ups on both sides. Afterwards, with nothing to lose, Bobbie takes an offer from U.N. Undersecretary Chrisjen Avasarala, to help her find out just what this thing was. Wishing to avenge her fallen comrades, Bobbie accepts Avasarala’s offer and joins her staff. Avasarala believes this creature was created from the protomolecule, engineered to become a controlled weapon, and she is dead set on bringing to justice the filth that would unleash such a terror on the galaxy. Meanwhile, for the last year Jim Holden and his crew have continued to work for Fred Johnson and the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance), chasing down pirates and scoundrels, making space a safer place. However, after hearing about Ganymede and the protomolecule link, they immediately head there to investigate. At first their searches are fruitless . . . until they run in to a bedraggled botanist named Praxidike Meng, whose daughter Mei has gone missing. Prax tells them that his daughter, along with a number of other children who also suffer from immune deficiency disorders, were kidnapped by one of their doctors who apparently wasn’t really who he claimed to be! Holden takes Prax on and offers his help, as he has a gut feeling the arrival of the protomolecule and the disappearance of Mei are directly related. Their investigations on Ganymede eventually turn violent, and more evidence of tampering with the protomolecule becomes evident. Eventually they are forced to flee, but in so doing they find another of the protomolecule creatures stowed away in their cargo hold! After a desperate ploy to rid themselves of the creature proves successful, Prax’s scientific mind files away many important facts and behaviours he observed throughout the process. Back on Earth Avasarala’s digging around has pissed off some of the corrupt higher ups in the government, and so they’ve sent her away on a fool’s errand to get her out of the picture, at least temporarily. But with Bobbie and her Martian suit of armour in tow, the duo soon turn the tides on their “captors” and race to intercept Holden, informing him and his crew that there are a bunch of U.N. ships on their tail, lusting to destroy them after they stirred the pot on Ganymede! Soon the Rocinante is host to the usual cast of Holden, Nomi, Alex and Amos, along with newcomer Prax, followed by Avasarala and Bobbie! After sharing their collective experiences and observations, the group thinks they have a solid grasp on who is behind all of the events and soon come up with a plan of action to deal with it. But will a lone ship holding a crew of just seven be able to stem the tide of an oncoming war, appeasing all factions involved? Or will they all end up as just more cosmic dust floating through space? And more importantly, just what in the hell was that massive protomolecule monster that reared up and launched itself in to space off the surface of Venus!? This story was awesome, it just kept building on the mystery and suspense of the first book. At the same time it resolved some of the little details that came up in the first story, helping to build a more solid picture of just what is going on behind this whole grand story! The ending was especially good, equal parts satisfaction mixed with equal parts what the hell was that, I can’t wait for the third book!! So good . . .

That weekend I watched a couple movies I’ve been itching to get at, the first of which was Cowboys and Aliens! This film takes place in the old times of the wild, wild west and opens with a scene featuring a man coming to in the middle of the desert, and he has no memory of what has happened to him. He is dirty, sports a bloody wound in his side, and has a bizarre, futuristic bracelet firmly attached to his left wrist! Not knowing what to do, the stranger heads to the nearest town, a place called Absolution. In Absolution he is given medical aid by a man of the cloth, afterwards he makes himself useful by diffusing a situation where a skinny punk named Percy is shooting his gun all about willy nilly and terrorizing the locals. Percy swears vengeance on this mysterious stranger, who we soon find out is named Jake Lonergan. Percy’s father is a big shot former solider named Woodrow, more commonly known as “The Colonel”, and he provides Absolution’s supply of cattle. While the local lawmen process Percy for transport to a federal marshal in Santa Fe, they come across some documents that point a guilty finger at Jake . . . for he is guilty of stealing gold, and not just anybody’s gold . . . the Colonel’s gold!! After a skirmish the sheriff is able to arrest Jake, soon enough both he and Percy are locked in a wagon together, ready to be shipped out to Santa Fe! At the last minute Woodrow swoops in and demands they let Percy go. However, before anything can be decided strange flying machines attack Absolution and lay waste to a number of it’s buildings, stealing away many of it’s inhabitants in the process. After the smoke clears and the dust settles, the Colonel organizes a party to go search for whatever manner of demon attacked him and his people. And he wants Jake in on it, despite the bad blood between them. For the bracelet on Jake’s wrist is actually a piece of alien tech that is capable of blasting the flying ships to smithereens! Refusing at first, Jake returns and joins the group after doing some soul searching and regaining a portion of his memory. A strange woman named Ella has taken great interest in him and his plight, and she urges him on as well. While tracking one of the alien creatures through the desert, Jake and Woodrow’s party has tense meetings with a group of bandits Jake used to lead, as well as a tribe of Indians. It is this second meeting where Ella reveals her own true alien nature, explaining that her own people were attacked by these same creatures, so she is set on avenging her kind and making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. With the bandits and Indians now on their side, and Jake receiving a special concoction that helps restore his memory, the group is ready to search out the mother ship and take the fight to these strange beasts! As strange as they might be though, they are also fast, powerful, and quite lethal. Does this rag tag group have the cajones to eradicate these alien invaders, or are they only the start in a long line of human casualties? This film was awesome, I’d been wanting to see if for so long because it’s just such a cool and bizarre combination of two very opposite things. And of course with Harrison Ford being involved that only made it even sweeter for me. Daniel Craig was great too, and Olivia Wilde is one exotic beauty! Hubba hubba. I didn’t realize that this film came from the duo of Orci and Kurtzman, who sure do get the respect from me. So good.

The other feature I took in was 47 Ronin . . . it got raked over the coals by critics, so of course I loved it!! Even more so, maybe. Anyhoo, this film takes place in the time of ancient, feudal Japan, and is loosely based on a true story. It picks up in the province of Ako, which is ruled by a lord named Asano Naganori. Many years ago Naganori took in a young boy who was fleeing something in the forest, and this is the flashback the film opens up with. The boy’s name is Kai, and over the years he develops a friendship and unexplored love for Naganori’s daughter, Mika. The samurais of the Ako clan look down on Kai and call him the “half breed”, as the story shifts back to current times and Kai is a grown man, they are still offering him the same treatment. Currently Naganori is out on a hunt, to track down a fearsome beast and exterminate it asap, as the Ako clan is soon going to be hosting an event prompted by a visit from the powerful Shogun Tsunayoshi. Naturally he wants it to go off without a hitch. Deep in the forest his samurais are able to bring the beast down, but in the end it is Kai who delivers the death stroke. Kai does not get any credit for his service though, as there was only one witness, and he does not want to admit Kai got the kill and not him. Later, back in Ako, the Shogun finally arrives and it is obvious they are going to have a problem with his master of ceremonies, Lord Kira. Kira is a bad seed and has been working closely with a shapeshifting witch to help him sabotage Naganori. For Kira wants the province of Ako, and Mika, for himself. After a few magic inspired ruses, Kira and his witch stage a scene that ends with Naganori about to strike Kira down in the middle of the night, after a hallucination provided by the witch convinced Naganori that Mika was being raped by Kira. For this transgression Shogun Tsunayoshi sentences Naganori to death, while all his samurai are labelled ronin (very shameful) and forced to flee the land. Kira is given the Ako territory and is scheduled to wed Mika, after she is given a year to mourn the death of her father. An example is made of Naganori’s prized samurai, Oishi, as he is left trapped in an outdoor pit for almost a year, which Kira thinks will break his spirit. However, when one day close to the wedding Oishi is lifted from the pit and freed, his resolve has never been stronger. He immediately contacts his family and asks after all of the others, including Kai. Oishi then sets out and rounds them all up, informing his former men of his plans for Lord Kira. They can either live the way they have been for the rest of their lives, in great shame . . . or they can go out in a blaze of glory, in the process setting Mika free and destroying the evil Lord Kira! It’s a long, hard journey back to the land of Ako, and along the way the former samurai gain a newfound respect for Kai as they learn about his past. But the final test will pit just 47 ronin against all of Ako, which includes the witch . . . will their resolve be enough to pull them through it, or will their attempts be easily thwarted by a force much more numerous? After seeing this movie and highly enjoying it, I’m not sure exactly what makes a good movie or a bad movie anymore. The films up for Oscars this year mostly make me want to throw up in my mouth, while films like this aren’t even given a chance, really. Oh well. I loved the action sequences in this flick, the strange creatures and magics, and I thought the storyline was just fine. Plus it had Keanu . . . Keanu!!!

As the next week began we borrowed a movie that my parents had taken out of the library, none other than A Million Ways to Die in the West, which I’ve been jonesing to watch ever since it was in theatres! This film is a comedy that takes place in the desert of Arizona, circa 1882. The setting is a town called Old Stump, the main character a cowardly yet loveable sheep farmer named Albert Stark. Albert hates life in the wild west, where seemingly anything and everything is capable of killing a person, hiding around every corner. He’s got a good friend named Edward, but what pulls him through each day the most is the love of his life, the beautiful but bitchy Louise. However, when one day Louise has had enough and dumps Albert, his world is shattered! Albert boozes, sleeps in late, and rarely makes a public appearance, much to the concern of Edward and his girlfriend, Ruth. Meanwhile, just outside of Old Stump trouble is brewing. A bandit named Clinch, who traverses the desert with his wife, Anna, and his band of miscreants, are out for gold . . . and they have no scruples when it comes to how they acquire it! After their latest heist Clinch decides to take a few of his men and lay low, instructing Anna and another of his henchmen, Lewis, to head in to Old Stump under the ruse of looking to start up a farm as brother and sister. One afternoon at the local saloon, a bar brawl breaks out thanks to Lewis’ antics, and Albert manages to save Anna from being clocked during the proceedings. The two have an instant rapport and soon afterwards begin spending a lot of time together. Anna tries to help Albert regain Louise’s love, who has since hooked up with the successful owner of the moustache emporium, Foy. After many interactions between the two couples, Albert finally loses his cool and challenges Foy to a gun fight! With Anna’s secret background she is well versed for teaching Albert how to shoot, and the night before the event she also sabotages Foy by slipping something in to his drink that gives him a pretty wicked case of the shits! The day of the gun fight Foy is in bad shape, but Albert lets him off the hook as he has since realized he is in love with Anna, and he also now sees the truth about how badly Louise used to treat him. But there is no happily ever after just yet, for Clinch and the rest of his posse then reach town . . . and Lewis informs Clinch that he spied one of the town folk kissing Anna! The action culminates in a true battle this time, but will the naïve and inexperienced Albert be able to come even close to matching such a hardened criminal in a contest of violence? This movie was a laugh riot right from the beginning, and that comes as no surprise as it was the brainchild of Seth MacFarlane, who not only wrote the film but stars as Albert. Considering how much I love the humour in both the Family Guy TV show and his previous movie Ted, this was a no brainer. Add in a lot of other wicked talent such as Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, and Sarah Silverman, and this thing is just chalk full of awesomeness. Such stupid humour too, this film was so up my alley it’s unbelievable. Bravo, Seth . . . bravo!!

Later that week I finished reading the book I had on the go at the time, another prose novel from the Marvel universe, called The Death of Captain America! This story takes place not long after the events of the Civil War storyline, in which the Superhuman Registration Act is invoked and the heroes are split down the middle about it, with Tony Stark spearheading the compliance side of things, while Cap is on the other side of the coin. At this point Captain American is still “at large” and S.H.I.E.L.D. is desperately trying to bring him in. The main character in the story, whose perspective it is mainly told from is Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter. As Cap’s love interest she has problems going along with director Stark’s orders (for Tony is running S.H.I.E.L.D. in place of the departed Nick Fury). Sharon is undergoing psychiatric evaluations before she can be reinstated, along with a number of other agents, but eventually she is allowed back on duty. Unfortunately for her though, Maria Hill tasks Agent 13 with joining a team responsible for tracking Cap down! Eventually Cap is collared, even though Carter tries to prevent it, and an event is staged to have him perp walked to jail, available for observation by the public at large. However, during the proceedings Cap is shot four times and although he is taken to hospital to try and be saved, there is nothing they can do . . . Captain America is dead! Sharon Carter can barely go on with life, seeing such an icon and her own lover fall right in front of her eyes. But Cap’s good friend Falcon helps her through it, together they set out to find who was behind the assassination and get some justice served! Also on the case is Cap’s former partner, Bucky Barnes, who was long thought to have perished in one of their previous adventures. Bucky was saved by the Russians though and turned in to a tool, an assassin, known as the Winter Soldier. But he has since put that behind him and is also out for vengeance, not only for the killer but also for Tony Stark, who Bucky believes has as much responsibility in Cap’s death as the person who actually pulled the trigger. As the investigations unfold and Black Widow too gets in on the action (for she is familiar with Bucky from their time in Russia together, long ago), a clearer picture of just what is going on develops . . . and it is pretty gruesome. The consciousness of Red Skull has invaded the body of Russian bad boy Aleksander Lukin, and he is in league with Baron Zola and the reviled Dr. Faustus on a dastardly scheme! This team of sociopaths have put a plan in to effect that will not only get Red Skull his own new body he’ll have all to himself, but also give them a U.S. president at their beck and call, along with an impostor Captain American who will also be under their total control. Will Sharon Carter, Falcon, Bucky, Black Widow and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. be able to counter these fiends, or is America in for a rough stretch, about to be controlled by beings who want nothing more than to see the country burn to the ground? And along the way will Sharon and her mates be able to stomach the revelations of who really killed Cap, and just whose body Red Skull was planning on making his own? This was a good story, action packed with a lot of intrigue and suspense. I liked reading about the characters who were involved because I’ve never really known much about Captain American and Red Skull, and the rivalry between them, so this was a pretty good book to gain a good gist on their history together. I’d planned on picking up the Captain American movies in the near future, so hopefully that will help me build on my knowledge a bit as well.

Sheesh . . . I seem to like outer space a whole lot more than I thought I did!!

Holy shit, am I worn out or what? Wild times, these have been. The weekend after my last blog we had our annual family Christmas party at my parents’ house, featuring us, a set of my best cousins, and some really good family friends. There were 5 kids running around, chasing the cat, and they got even more riled up after playing pass the present!! We had pizza for dinner, drank some booze, and ended up throwing stuffed animals around the room at each other before calling it quits. True story . . .

Christmas fell during the following week, and it was pretty hard on my nerves!! I’m a bit of a neat freak, very routine driven, and this year the wife decided to have her mom and dad come stay with us for a few days as a lot of the rest of her family was off on trips over the holidays, so she didn’t want to leave anybody on their own for Christmas morning. I on the other hand had no such compassion!! J But as usual, wife gets what wife wants. On Christmas Eve we went over to my parents’ house as usual, with mrs. darthcobain17’s mom in tow, and did dinner and presents . . . ending up throwing shit at each other again at the end of the night. Hah! The next morning we woke up and did presents. James got a ton of toys, I got a lot of video games and gift cards and other good stuff . . . it was a pretty productive Christmas for us! Later that afternoon we went over to my aunt’s house, to spend a couple of hours with my dad’s side of the family, before heading back home to have Christmas dinner at our house . . . with mrs. darthcobain17’s dad joining us, arriving while we were at my aunt’s. I put my foot down though, no turkey!! So we had tacos, ham, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Delicious Christmas tacos . . .

Our company stayed through for a few days and eventually left the morning after Boxing Day, but we were in tow as we had made plans with friends in Hamilton! So James went with Nanny to her house, while we went to visit with our friends Megan and Johnny. Johnny and I took off to Toronto to see one of the World Junior Hockey Championship games (more on that below), later on meeting up with a bunch of other friends and visiting a couple of pubs. A nice weekend to blow off the steam of Christmas a bit!!

The following weekend we were back at my parents’ house on the Saturday, to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Good grub and bid euchre, that’s how we do!! The rest of the time we spent taking down the two Christmas trees and multitudes of Christmas decorations the wife had set out around the house this year. The moment it was all done, and I had the floors all vacuumed and mopped, I felt an insane amount of gratification . . . knowing that at that moment it was the furthest away from next Christmas and all the bullshit that it seems to bring as possible! Happy Holidays . . .

As for this past weekend, we were in Hamilton once more, visiting one of the pubs we’d gone to a couple weeks before. There was an 80’s video dance party set to take place, and the wives were all over that! So we slept over at our friends Julie and Dino’s house, and got pretty wasted. On the Sunday we had to race back home as James had a birthday party to attend, but other than that the day was used mostly for recuperation . . . so busy.

The rest of the time, during the weeks, our routine was all thrown off as James was out of school for two weeks and mrs. darthcobain17 was also off. I’m not sure what they did all day long, other than make a mess, but during the break James lost his very first tooth and the Tooth Fairy brought him some good stuff! Once the New Year began and he was back in school, we got James working with a tutor, helping him with his reading and writing. It’s going well, although it’s on the same night as Beavers, which is a challenge. His latest round of golf lessons is going to start soon, and that pretty much covers it. I was able to get a surprising amount of gaming done despite . . . all of the above . . . here is how it all went down . . .

1) Level seven has fallen on Goldeneye, as I was able to get more progress completed there! Said level was called “Monte Carlo – Frigate”. We learned that a scheduled demonstration by the French, of their new stealth helicopter, had suddenly been postponed. Initially there was nothing suspicious about the situation, until 006 was asked to help defuse a hostage situation on the La Fayette frigate. The hostage situation was being undertaken by the Janus crime syndicate, who were using it as leverage to get their hands on the stealth helicopter. So of course I was called in to clean up the mess! First I docked at the side of the ship in a small power boat, then boarded it and made my way to the gangplanks that covered the port side. Once inside the ship I first made my way to the bridge, eliminating all resistance along the way, also beginning the continual process of freeing any hostages I came across. On the bridge I defused a bomb Janus had planted there, then headed below decks. Making my way to the engine room I defused yet another bomb. My next step was to find the stealth helicopter and plant an untraceable tracking device on it, so we could learn of Janus’ whereabouts. After that task was done I bugged out, boarding my boat and getting the hell away! I finished this level with a time of 16:09 and had a 78.7% accuracy rating.

2) Another series is complete from my season on MLB 2K11, the action went down as such: won vs. Colorado 4-3, won vs. Colorado 13-9 & won vs. Colorado 5-1.

3) My mop up on Lego: Lord of the Rings continues, and I got a ton accomplished this time around! I was able to put down the next nine levels, and it went as follows: “Amon Hen” (found the last 8 Minikit pieces, 2/3 Treasure items, and earned 1 Silver Brick [for completing the Minikit]), “Taming Gollum” (found the last 7 Minikit pieces, the last 2 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, as well as finding all Treasure items and the Tablet]), “The Dead Marshes” (found 10/10 Minikit pieces, the last 2 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]), “Track Hobbits” (found 10/10 Minikit pieces, the last 2 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]), “Warg Attack” (found the last 9 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]), “Helm’s Deep” (found 6 more Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for finding all Treasure items and the Tablet]), “Osgiliath” (found the last 6 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit and finding all Treasure items]), “The Secret Stairs” (found the last 9 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit and finding all Treasure items]) & “Cirith Ungol” (found the last 9 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit and finding all Treasure items]). While in the game hub between levels I unlocked/purchased a lot of stuff as well. I found 28 Silver Bricks, 3 Tablets, and managed to complete 12 Quests. With my Silver Bricks I was able to forge the Mithril Gloves, Carrot Bow, Stud Mallet & Fishing Rod. I also was able to find and then purchase 5 Red Bricks, which gave me the Minikit Chest Finder, Studs X2, Fast Build, Attract Studs & Disguises extras. Finally, with my collected studs I was able to purchase the Haldir, Galadriel, Celeborn, Lothlorien Elf, Denethor, Saruman the White, Eomer, Rohirrim Soldier, Grima Wormtongue, Uruk-hai, Grishnakh, Gamling & Corsair characters. The end may just finally be in sight, booya!!

4) As for NHL ’04, there I was able to complete the next five games on my season. The action unfolded thusly: won vs. Ottawa 9-4, won vs. Chicago 12-2, won @ Ottawa 11-0, won @ Tampa Bay 16-2 & won vs. Columbus 14-3. First shutout of the season, woot woot!

5) Batman Origins: Blackgate is finally complete, I managed to finish this sucker off this time around! Picking up where I left off, I first exited the Administration building after my fight with the Joker, heading towards the Lighthouse, which I had tried to penetrate oh so long ago and failed. From the docks I used my line launcher to get across to the lighthouse area, and began exploring these new surroundings. The door to the nearby armoury was locked, but there was an override switch located at the top of the lighthouse which would allow me access. After taking out a couple of Penguin’s goons I began climbing the outer face of the lighthouse, running in to more resistance as I climbed higher. Upon reaching the summit of the tower I used my crypto sequencer on a panel, upon completion the door below was then unlocked for me. Dropping down from the lighthouse I entered the armoury and immediately ran in to the holed up Penguin and his assorted goons! I took poor old Cobblepot down in a drawn out boss fight, afterwards I met up with Catwoman, who informed me I now had everything I needed in order to enter the Arkham wing of the prison. I then headed directly below the area where I beat the Penguin down, soon afterwards entering the Arkham wing. Not far in to it I came upon a massive vault, within which a number of the prison’s guards were being held captive! Using my line launcher I made my way through the cells that surrounded the vault, careful to avoid the electrified flooring below, eventually finding the controls that opened said vault. Inside though, I was instead surprised to find Bane, who was hooked up to a life support machine! Catwoman then entered the scene, informing me in only the way she can that it was her scheme all along to have me open this vault and free Bane for her. Catwoman had taken on a contract to free Bane for a mystery party, and I had helped make it happen! To distract me from taking her out, the femme fatale informed me that she’d taken a small number of guards, strapped bombs to them, and scattered them throughout the prison. Naturally I tore off through the prison, starting in the Cell Blocks, where I rescued the first guard. Next was the Administration building, where I freed two more, before I headed to the Industrial zone, where I freed the last one (along the way I acquired the Red Son Chest, New 52 Belt, and a Rush Upgrade). My final task took me in the direction of the Lighthouse, where I eventually caught up with Catwoman. She made Bane run ahead without her, leaving her alone to deal with me, and that was a mistake on her part. I took the bitch down in my last boss fight of the game, upon doing so a mysterious government agency swooped in and carted her off, also saying they’d picked up Bane during his escape attempt. The game then ended with a mysterious cutscene of the unknown party who’d been following events all along, discussing letting Catwoman go . . . hmmmmmm. This was a really good game, an in depth environment with lots of action, but it also required a lot of thought and could take you in different directions, depending on the course of action you took. Totally worth a play!!

6) A milestone was made on Jak X: Combat Racing, as I was able to complete play on the “Green Eco Cup” section of events! First up I traveled to “Haven City”, where I competed in two events: “Forbidden Jungle – Death Race” (won the event, gold medal) & “Haven City – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). Next up I visited “Kras City”, where I took part in a couple more events, as so: “Dirt Stadium – Artifact Race” (won the event, gold medal) & “Western Tour – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). “Spargus” was the next locale on my docket, where I completed the “Canyon Run – Freeze Rally” event (won the event, gold medal). My last stop was the final piece in completing the “Green Eco Cup”, and it took me to “Grand Prix”. There I had to run three straight Circuit Races, at “Forbidden Jungle”, “Mountaintop Highway” & “Northern Tour”. I finished fifth, second and first respectively, enough to get me the overall win and a gold medal! Halfway done this puppy!!

7) The next trio of levels is now in the books on Transformers: Beast Wars. The ones I completed this time around were as follows: “Polluted 1 – Polluted Zone” (my task was to recover a downed stasis pod in this hazardous area, I did so after fighting off much resistance and it turned out to be Rattrap in the pod), “Polluted 2 – The Skriix” (the strange aliens I’d encountered while rescuing Rattrap were called Skriix, my job in this level was to eradicate them and also flush the Predacon Inferno’s forces out of the area) & “Polluted 3 – Inferno Attack” (it turned out Inferno had been experimenting on the Skriix, which would have made them even more dangerous, so my duty was to engage Inferno in a boss fight and destroy him). One more area of levels to go!

8) The other game I completed this time around was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie! Picking up where I left off I began with level eleven, forging on to close out the game. The action unfolded as so: “Shieldbreakers” (Baxter Stockman’s lab was protected by some sort of energy shield, we had to take it down by locating and destroying various shield drones that were giving it power, afterwards passing through the now vulnerable doors), “Shell Monster” (we reached Baxter’s office where he revealed his latest mutant creation, a massive turtle he’d named Slash, after taking Slash out we found evidence that Baxter was planning on springing Shredder from prison), “Pacification” (to help mitigate the efficacy of Baxter’s upcoming escape attempt on Shredder, we roamed the streets and searched out four of the Foot Clan’s weapon caches and destroyed them), “Crack It Open!” (closing in on Baxter’s hideout we came to yet another large shield that barred our progress, we had to search the area and take out more shield drones while also dealing with Foot Soldiers, Mousers, turrets, drones, etc.) & “Worst Nightmares” (finally breaching Baxter’s headquarters we found our enemy, the Shredder, but he was able to take many other forms including Splinter, Slash, the Rat King, etc., which made for a very hard fought final victory, although in the end he escaped). Seeing as I had Story Mode all wrapped up, I then chose to partake in the game’s alternate mode, called Side Missions. These missions take place within the game’s various levels and give you simple objectives to complete, nothing as long as in Story Mode but basically the same kind of gameplay experience. I achieved victory on all missions, which included “Escort”, “Foot Ambush”, “Black and White”, “New Kind of Mutant”, “Foul Science”, “O’Neil Memories”, “Showoff”, “Dark Past”, “Pizza Strike” & “Simulation” respectively. Overall this is a fun game with lots of cool aspects to it, but a tad on the short side. I’m probably going to rate it an 8, although it’s more deserving of an 8.5 let’s say.

9) Next up . . . X-Men: Destiny, where I chewed up two more levels. The third level took me to the “Buffer Zone”, my primary objective now that all hell had broken loose was to find Magneto and get some answers. So we split up and began to explore the Buffer Zone, where I immediately found signs of Magneto’s recent presence. Along the way I encountered many Purifier Punks and beat them to death, as well as an increasing amount of High Purists. I came across Wolverine and had to snap him out of a frenzy he was in, watching his back for him. Not long afterwards I discovered hordes of punks planting explosives in an effort to clear the way for their big guns, whatever that meant! I wiped the punks out and deactivated the bombs, although one package was able to be detonated. A telepathic message from Emma Frost was then received, informing me that a tank had just been unleashed, so I hurried to the scene of the explosion and checked matters out. Wolverine and Mystique were battling this machine, which turned out to be a heavy shielded Mech Walker tank! I took the fight over and eventually brought the beast down, afterwards the three of us discussed the events, figuring out that the tank was simply used as a distraction . . . for during the fighting the Purifiers rounded up our mutant brethren and shipped them off to Alcatraz island!! The fourth level was suitably titled “Alcatraz Island”, and it began with Emma Frost and Scarlet Witch arguing about what our next step should be, also debating Magneto’s possible role in everything that had unfolded up to this point. I made the decision for them, deciding that we should first try and rescue the captured mutants on Alcatraz. I set off through the corridors of the prison, taking out all Purifiers along the way, finding many mutants locked away in cells. I freed them all, and they spoke of being experimented on. During this action I got a message from Emma, saying that she’d been picking up on some psychic interference. So I went to check it out, and it turned out that the interference was coming from the ghost of a dead mutant, which I helped set free, clearing matters up for Emma. Forging ahead I turned the tables on some Purifiers who tried to capture me, thinking they had caught Wolverine. I chased them down and beat them to a pulp, afterwards resuming my search and rescue operation. Once that task was complete I headed to the stairways in order to descend to the prison’s sub-levels, but before I could do so a number of U-Men attacked me! I had to defeat them before I could pass, and that is where the level ended . . .

10) We blew Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed wide open this time around, completing more events than I can count! To begin we continued on in the “Sunshine Coast” area of the game, where we knocked down the following events: “Downtown Drift – Drift Challenge” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Battlezone Blast – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Monkey Mayhem – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Studio Scrapes – Versus” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Roulette Rush – Boost Challenge” (completed in B class, completed the event, earning 2 stars) & “Starry Speedway – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars). With the stars we earned in this area we were able to unlock the Amigo character for play in the game. We were then able to move on to the second area of World Tour, called “Frozen Valley”. There we were able to finish said events: “Studio Scurry – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Tricky Traffic – Traffic Attack” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Banana Boost – Boost Challenge” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Pirate Plunder – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Snaking Skies – Ring Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Shinobi Scramble – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Graffiti Groove – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Neon Knockout – Battle Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Snowball Shakedown – Race” (competed in B class, placed third, earning 2 stars) & “Seaside Scrap – Versus” (competed in B class, completed the event, earning 2 stars). With our collected stars we were able to unlock two characters in this area, including Shadow and . . . Danica Patrick!! Next up came the “Scorching Skies” area, where we were able to complete the following events: “Adder Assault – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Keil’s Carnage – Traffic Attack” (competed in B class, completed the event, earning 2 stars), “Dreamy Drive – Race” (competed in B class, placed third, earning 2 stars), “Rogue Rings – Ring Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Sunshine Slide – Drift Challenge” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Sanctuary Speedway – Race” (competed in B class, placed first, earning 2 stars), “Seaside Skirmish – Pursuit” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Shrine Time – Sprint” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star) & “Hangar Hassle – Pursuit” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star). With our amassed stars we were able to unlock the Vyse character and the Console Mod extra. “Twilight Engine” was the next area we could compete in, but we weren’t able to access all the events there just yet. The ones we were able to beat went as such: “Undertaker Overtaker – Race” (competed in B class, placed third, earning 2 stars), “Monkey Brawl – Battle Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Death Egg Duel – Versus” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Golden Gauntlet – Boost Challenge” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Ruin Run – Ring Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Hatcher Hustle – Sprint” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star) & “Racing Rangers – Race” (competed in C class, placed first, earning 1 star). With our stars we were able to unlock the Pudding character. The fifth and what appears to be the final area of this game is called “Moonlight Park”. Here are the levels we’ve been able to get out of the way there so far: “Carnival Clash – Versus” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Ocean Outrun – Traffic Attack” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Billy Backslide – Drift Challenge” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star), “Speeding Seasons – Boost Challenge” (competed in B class, completed the event, earning 2 stars), “Carrier Charge – Ring Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star) & “Burning Boost – Boost Race” (competed in C class, completed the event, earning 1 star). More on it’s way . . .

11) Because I finished two games for the 3DS I had to pick another to begin play on, and that title just happened to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Danger of the Ooze! This is a game that takes place in the world of the current Nickelodeon cartoon that’s airing on TV, and it’s a wide open environment that you have to explore, revisit and build upon as the plot evolves, a very cool concept for this game. The story builds upon the main theme of the cartoon, highlighting the four brothers’ battles against Karai and Shredder, as well as their continual search for lost mutagen canisters. The opening sequence of the game was basically a tutorial, to kick things off Mikey was late for a training session with Master Splinter. I had to take control of the party animal and make my way through the sewers to our lair, where I eventually met up with him. Splinter then put me through a number of exercises with Raph as my partner, highlighting the games main controls/functions. The game then began in earnest, with Donny informing us that he’d picked up the location of a mutagen canister on the move, so we went to check it out. We also planned on meeting up with April and Casey, who were out on the streets in the thick of it. I backtracked out of the lair the way I’d originally come in, eventually making my way topside. Navigating the mean streets of New York we passed through many different types of buildings, soon having to take on Foot Soldiers and Mousers as we went (obtaining the Shuriken ability in the process). Eventually we reached an area that featured Kraang droids on patrol, along with some drones, even a Squirrelnoid!! This led us to a boss fight with a mutant named Rahzar, who we took down with extreme prejudice! Afterwards we met up with Casey, who informed us that we’d probably find the mutagen at TCRI (obtaining the Double Jump ability as well). We then forged on, in to a part of the city we hadn’t explored yet, soon enough coming to what looked like a TCRI facility, what with it’s white washed labs and pink/purple hued lighting. Running in to a heavy Kraang presence, along with Mousers and drones, we obtained the Smoke Bomb, Pizza Box, and T-Phone abilities/items (using the T-Phone we contacted Casey, who in turn allowed us to upgrade some of our fighting skills!). Soon afterwards we found the mutagen canister, but Baxter Stockman swooped in and took it from us! Continuing on after this boss fight, we ran in to the mutant turtle Slash, who had come in peace. He gave us some advice/intel on Shredder’s master plan, plus he gifted us with the Ground Pound ability. Backtracking through TCRI and then over the rooftops and along the city streets, we ultimately encountered Karai, who like Slash, provided us with intel on Shredder’s master plan. His scheming was so dastardly that his own daughter couldn’t even be a part of it! Apparently Shredder was preparing a super weapon he plans on turning loose upon the world. Hitting the streets once again we soon came to the docks, where we ran in to April, gaining the San Shuriken ability. She also gifted us with the ability to Block our enemy’s attacks. After our pow wow with April we were in for a tough one, as we came across Tiger Claw and Newtralizer exchanging a mutagen canister, before Newtralizer teleported off to Dimension X! We confronted Tiger Claw though, taking him down, afterwards forging on and obtaining another Pizza Box in the process. And that’s where I’ve left off . . .

12) It was also time to get some new games going on the Wii U, as Mario/Luigi had fallen last go round. The first game we picked up was Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which we got from James’ nanny for Christmas!! I’d never played a game in this franchise before, but I’ve always heard good things. Typically I’m not a huge fan of fighting games as I find them somewhat one dimensional, but this title is pretty cool. You can take a horde of different characters in to battle against each other, in either one on one bouts (with four characters participating in the fight) or tag team battles, amongst a multitude of scenery taken from various game franchises (kind of like how the tracks in Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed are inspired by past games). I’ve tried a number of characters but have ultimately settled on King Dedede as my bruiser of choice, whereas James tends to use Yoshi and Mega Man a lot. But there are tons of characters to choose from in total, including many from the Mario Bros. universe, Samus from Metroid, Pac-Man, Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, a number of Pokemons, and Kirby, among many others. We’ve dabbled with the game quite a bit, usually preferring to go in as a tag team against the computer, and so far we’ve unlocked the Falco, Wario and Lucina characters for play in the game. It’s an ass kicking good time!

13) Another game we got working on was Nintendo Land, which mrs. darthcobain17 got us for Christmas as well! This is one of the system’s original launch games, and it is pretty unique. It’s a collection of mini games that you access via a fantastical looking amusement park, but the best thing is . . . you use your Miis to play all of the various mini games, and other people’s Miis from around the world roam your park all the while! So funny. The mini games Nintendo Land contains are inspired by past Nintendo titles, and in total I think there are about a dozen or so. Up to this point we’ve played about seven of them, here is how that has gone: “Donkey Kong’s Crash Course” (high score of 2183 points, obtained a silver trophy, and earned 1/5 stamps), “Mario Chase” ( ), “Yoshi’s Fruit Cart” (high score of 602 points, obtained a silver trophy, and earned 1/5 stamps), “Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest” (chose the Quest option, playing as the Archer, and completed the The Grasslands, The Lost Woods, and Grassland Temple levels, earning 1/5 stamps), “Metroid Blast” (chose the Assault Mission option, taking part in an Air Fight, and completed the First Contact and Geemer Invasion levels, earning 0/5 stamps), “Takamura’s Ninja Castle” (high score of 1970 points, obtained a silver trophy, and earned 0/5 stamps) & “Captain Falcon’s Twister Race” (high score of 3211 points, obtained a silver trophy, earning 1/5 stamps). A cool and different game for sure, can’t wait to get back at it!

14) Since I only had Lego: Lord of the Rings going at the time on the regular Wii, I decided to get something fresh happening there as well. The game I chose was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . . . part 1! Naturally this game mirrors the events that took place in the movie of the same name, or the first half of the seventh and final book of the infamous Harry Potter series. If you don’t know this story by now . . . well, crawl back under a rock, or go jump off a bridge, your choice. Anyhoo, this game began with a bang, that’s for sure! Right off the bat Hagrid had me (Harry) in the sidecar of his motorcycle, as the members of the Order of the Phoenix were attempting to transport me to The Burrow (themselves serving as decoys), where it was thought I’d be safe from the evil machinations of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. I had to blast away at pursuing Death Eaters with my wand, while Hagrid flew his motorcycle through the skies above London. Lord Voldemort even showed up in person, but I got the better of him and sent him ass over tea kettle. After also hitting the streets of London for a short spell, we arrived at The Burrow as safe as could be expected. Lots more to come on this one, I’m sure!!

15) Lastly, we also started play on Mario Kart 8, which I picked up recently with some Christmas gift cards . . . we were very excited to finally have this one in the fold!! What I like about this latest version is that they’ve kept it similar to the various versions of Mario Kart that have come before it, but they’ve made the tracks way more intense and interesting, plus in all the colourful, HD glory they are rendered in . . . it’s pretty amazing. Anyways, James and I began with the meat and potatoes of this title, starting out on “Grand Prix” mode, beginning with the easier 50c.c. class. The circuits in this mode come as per the usual, in sets of four races, in which each racer is awarded a certain amount of points for each race, depending on his or her finishing placement. The racer with the most total points at the end of all four races is the winner of the circuit and claims all bragging rights! The first circuit up was called “Mushroom Cup”, me and James chose Shy Guy and Yoshi as our racers, respectively. The results (with my placing first, followed by James’) were as such: “Mario Kart Stadium” (1 and 6), “Water Park” (1 and 9), “Sweet Sweet Canyon” (1 and 9) & “Thwomp Ruins” (1 and 12). Overall I won the circuit with 60 points, unlocking the Flower Cup as well as the Morton character. Next came the “Flower Cup”, where we utilized the services of Peach and Morton. The results were as follows: “Mario Circuit” (2 and 8), “Toad Harbor” (1 and 12), “Twisted Mansion” (1 and 11) & “Shy Guy Falls” (1 and 12). I won the circuit with 57 points, unlocking the Star Cup and the Baby Rosalina character. The “Star Cup” came next on the docket, and we enlisted Waluigi and Toad to steer us through it. The results unfolded as so: “Sunshine Airport” (1 and 8), “Dolphin Shoals” (1 and 11), “Electrodome” (1 and 11) & “Mount Wario” (2 and 9). I won the circuit with a total of 57 points, unlocking the Special Cup as well as the Wendy character. Naturally the “Special Cup” came next, and we used Donkey Kong and Toad as our racers. Events went down as so: “Cloudtop Cruise” (1 and 9), “Bone-Dry Dunes” (1 and 8), “Bowser’s Castle” (1 and 7) & “Rainbow Road” (1 and 12). I took the circuit with 60 points, unlocking the Metal Mario character. “Shell Cup” was the next circuit we knocked down, piloting ourselves around it’s tracks with Daisy and Peach. The results were: “Moo Moo Meadows” (1 and 6), “Mario Circuit” (1 and 4), “Cheep Cheep Beach” (1 and 8) & “Toad’s Turnpike” (1 and 2). I won the overall circuit with a perfect 60 points, unlocking the Banana Cup as well as the Roy character. Next came “Banana Cup”, where we drafted Daisy and Toad as our drivers. Events unraveled as such: “Dry Dry Desert” (1 and 7), “Donut Plains” (1 and 12), “Royal Raceway” (1 and 11) & “DK Jungle” (3 and 11). I took the circuit with 55 points, unlocking the Leaf Cup plus the Toadette character. At this point mrs. darthcobain17 decided to get in on the action, so we had three people competing in the next circuit! The circuit in question was “Leaf Cup”, and the drivers this time around were Luigi, Toad, and Baby Luigi. The madness went as follows: “Wario Stadium” (5, 1 and 12), “Sherbet Land” (2, 1 and 12), “Music Park” (1, 10 and 11) & “Yoshi Valley” (1, 5 and 7). I won the circuit with 50 points, which unlocked the Lightning Cup and Pink Gold Peach character for us. We made fun of mrs. darthcobain17 during the action because she looked just like her mother!!! Hah! It was then back to just me and James for the next couple of circuits, we closed out the 50c.c. class by competing in the “Lightning Cup”, using Koopa Troopa and Donkey Kong. That circuit unfolded as such: “Tick-Tock Clock” (1 and 6), “Piranha Plant Slide” (1 and 7), “Grumble Volcano” (1 and 12) & “Rainbow Road” (1 and 7). I won the circuit with 60 points, unlocking . . . us!! Our Mii characters were now able to strap themselves in to a kart and get out there on the track. So funny. We then moved up to the 100c.c. class on “Grand Prix” mode, starting at the beginning with the “Mushroom Cup” circuit. Of course we each used our respective Miis as our racers for this one!! The circuit broke down as follows: “Mario Kart Stadium” (1 and 7), “Water Park” (1 and 7), “Sweet Sweet Canyon” (1 and 11) & “Thwomp Ruins” (1 and 6). Overall I won the circuit with 60 points, unlocking the Lakitu character. Throughout the game we’ve also been unlocking many different parts for our karts with the stars we collect in each race. More on this soon for sure . . . probably a lot of it.

“NNGRR” - The weekend after my last blog I kicked things off by watching the first sequel to the original Starship Troopers movie, called Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation! I was not even aware they made any sequels to the original film until very recently, so when I found this in the bargain bin at Giant Tiger I snatched it up without a second thought! Anyhoo, in this second entry to the series the action picks up not long after the first movie closes. The human armies of the Federation, in the wake of their first huge victory, are pressing even further in to bug space, attempting to take the fight to their enemy and gain the upper hand. However, on an unnamed planet deep in bug territory, a small team of troopers is quickly running out of luck, surrounded by bugs on all sides with nowhere to run. After putting in a call for an airlift their hopes are dashed even further when it appears there is no rescue in sight. When one of the troopers picks up on his scanner that there is an abandoned outpost a short distance away the leader of the group, General Shepherd, chooses a few troopers to remain with him and make a last stand against the bugs, while the rest of his forces launch a desperate flight to said outpost. Their journey is successful and they suffer light casualties, with a violent sand storm bringing them temporary respite from their enemy. But with the door to the outpost fragged and unable to be closed, they have to set up a watch and are constantly on edge. While exploring the facility they now call home, Lieutenant Dill (the man now in charge) along with Sergeant Rake and Private Sahara, make an unusual discovery in it’s upper levels. Locked inside of a furnace is a man named Dax, a former Captain for the Federation. He was locked in the furnace for killing his commanding officer so Dill sees him as nothing but a traitor to the Federation, although Sahara is curious. With orders to leave Dax in his makeshift cell, Dill’s crew get on with life at the outpost, attempting to restore communications and get that door repaired. But with the bugs starting to make moves against them and the situation getting intense, Sahara unknowingly heads upstairs and frees Dax, trusting her psychic instincts that he is a good man and indeed not the traitor Dill fears him to be. Her move is met with anger, especially from Dill and Rake, but when Dax, with help from Sahara and Private Otter, manages to restore power to a force field around the outpost that keeps the bugs at bay, many of the troopers approve. Not long afterwards more good news arrives, for General Shepherd has survived and arrives on their doorstep! With him are three strangers that aided in his survival, including Sergeant Peck, Corporal Griff, and the unconscious Private Soda. Shepherd regales his troops with tales of their daring rescue, but with the outpost in a state of relative peace the rest of the troopers, especially Sahara, soon begin to realize that something is a little off with these three newcomers. All of a sudden there are some love triangles going on, and all of the troopers heavily associating with the newbies begin acting strangely as well. Eventually the truth becomes apparent, that these three strangers who showed up on Sahara and company’s doorstep, were hosting bugs in their bodies all along, and passing their condition along to those they were coming in to contact with! This realization may have come too late though, as eventually only Sahara and Dax are left uninfected. With a drop ship on it’s way to rescue them (after finally being able to restore communications) the race is on . . . the race for survival! But in the end will there be anybody left alive to report to the Federation the details of this new type of bug? This was a pretty gritty and nasty flick, I quite enjoyed it. It fits in just fine with the original, although it wasn’t nearly as expansive. It was missing all of the space flight scenes and stuff like that, but it was still a great watch and a classic type of sci-fi scenario. And I love that Private Soda, she’s got quite a rack on her!! Images of said rack to follow . . .

A couple days before New Year’s, once all the Christmas bullshit had finally settled down, I watched Starship Troopers 3: Marauder . . . a second sequel to the original movie I also had no idea even existed! This film picks up many years after the events of the original entry in the series, well in to the Second Bug War. The central character is Johnny Rico, the hero of the first movie, he who captured the brain bug on Planet P! Rico is now a Colonel and in command of an outpost that is under siege on the planet of Roku San. Although the Federation and it’s forces have advanced their weaponry and tactics, so to have the bugs evolved to become more advanced in their fight, meaning the two sides are basically at a stalemate. Rico is pleasantly surprised when his old friend Dix Hauser, now a General, shows up at the outpost escorting one of the most powerful figures in the Federation, the Sky Marshal, Omar Anoke. Also in tow is Anoke’s pilot, Lola Beck, whom Rico has a bit of history with. Not long in to the visit, after a confrontation with the locals that ends up in Hauser attempting to arrest Rico for insubordination, the fences protecting the outpost suddenly fail and the bugs swarm in, proceeding to slaughter the Federation forces! In the confusion Hauser ends up staying with the outpost while Beck safely transports the Sky Marshal away aboard their shuttle. During their flight though, Beck’s shuttle is mysteriously attacked in space, above a planet named OM-1. After a crash landing all that is left of the crew is Beck, Anoke, a flight attendant named Holly, Dr. Wiggs, a crew chief named Bull, and a cook named Jingo. Just after touching down a bug is spotted, so the crew sets out in search of a facility where they can radio in for an airlift. During their sojourn things get weird though, as Anoke starts behaving erratically, beginning to preach religion. Meanwhile, back at Federation headquarters, Hauser saves Rico from execution at the last possible minute. For Hauser got a tip on some mysterious goings on within the Federation, and then went to confront Fleet Admiral Enolo Phid about it. Phid then let Hauser in on a little secret, and it completely explains Sky Marshal Anoke’s erratic behaviour. For Anoke is a psychic, and in meeting the brain bug he developed a major bond with it . . . a religious type of bond! Suddenly Hauser realizes that the fences failing on Roku San was Anoke’s doing, as was his crew ending up on OM-1. The religious deliverance he’s been preaching to the survivors on OM-1 doesn’t refer to God as they believe in . . . but a more arachnid type of God! The reason Hauser then freed Rico is because he wants Johnny to lead an elite team of troopers, wielding new state of the art technology that links their weaponry directly to their minds, and go in and rescue Beck and the others on OM-1. Will Johnny and his select team come out victorious, or will the monstrosity that erupts from the sands of OM-1 bring a violent sort of deliverance to them all!? This was a really good movie, the acting so cheesy at times, but the action non-stop, bloody, and often times hilarious. I like how this film got back in to the space travel end of things a bit, and the introduction of the robotic armoured suits that they wore at the end was very cool also. And of course they had some topless scenes, they have become an important aspect of the Starship Troopers franchise for sure!!

Just before everybody headed back to work and school in the first full week that followed New Year’s, I finished an epic read I had engaged in on the recommendation of a family friend, called Leviathan Wakes. Awesome!! This story takes places generations in the future, when space travel is quite advanced and many of the planets of our solar system have been settled. Life on Earth, Mars, and the asteroid belt beyond are all commonplace. The action kicks off following the crew of an ice hauler called the Canterbury, which is returning to the Belt after loading up at the rings of Saturn. On their way home they are sidetracked when forced to investigate a distress call coming from a damaged ship out in an empty area of space. Executive Officer James Holden and a select number of his crew head outside of the Canterbury to investigate the crashed ship, and once inside they find a grisly discovery . . . some sort of bizarre alien growth which looks like it killed all of the ship’s former crew members! Meanwhile, back on the Canterbury they’ve noticed a ship suddenly appear out of nowhere, which immediately sets it’s sights on the ice hauler. Soon after the Canterbury is vaporized, leaving Holden and his remaining crew grieving for their lost friends, and thirsty for vengeance on this mysterious attacker. Not being able to confront this enemy directly though, Holden figures he’ll do the next best thing, by broadcasting evidence of the trap that was set to destroy the Canterbury . . . which he believes to have been orchestrated by the Martian navy! Meanwhile, on the outpost of Ceres, in the middle of the Belt, a cop named Miller is suddenly tasked with tracking down a missing woman named Juliette Mao. Her family (who are very well off) is eager to locate her and bring her home to Earth. After much digging Miller eventually tracks down Julie’s last known whereabouts, to a ship named the Scopuli . . . the very ship Holden and his crew unwittingly investigated and made their gruesome discovery on! Miller’s next step is to locate Holden and find out what he knows about Julie, if anything. Holden and his charges, which include his second in command Naomi, pilot Alex, and mechanic Amos, have taken refuge with a notorious figure named Fred, who works for a revolutionary group called the O.P.A. Holden’s comments regarding Mars’ involvement in the destruction of the Canterbury went viral and increased galactic tensions between Earth, Mars, and the Belt, which were already quite strained to begin with. Using his wits to track them down, Miller eventually runs in to Holden other at a place called Eros Station, while Holden and his team are in the middle of executing a mission for Fred. Not long after introductions though, the small group is attacked and forced to fight for their lives. Afterwards, when Holden reaches the supposed location of the person they are supposed to bring back to Fred, Miller is horrified to find out the person in question just so happens to be Julie . . . and she is all kinds of dead! Julie had obviously been exposed to the alien virus that destroyed the crew of the Scopuli. In the ensuing days, while waiting for clearance to leave Eros after their skirmish with the unknown attackers, all hell breaks loose once more, only this time it is deadly serious. Under grounds of a radiation leak, all persons on Eros station are herded in to the casinos, where they are then exposed to the alien virus . . . and the aftermath is not pretty! Miller and Holden figured something was off before they could become caught up in the genocide, and manage to fight their way to Holden’s ship, heading back to the relative safety Fred can offer them. Horrified by what went on on Eros, Fred puts the O.P.A.’s considerable resources to work and manages to locate a secret space station where this alien virus originated. Soon Miller and Holden are involved in the raid on Thoth Station, which goes well for the O.P.A., and at the end of it they find the person responsible for Eros’ genocide, a Mr. Dresden. He fills them in on the details, that this “protomolecule” was sent to their galaxy billions of years ago by a race far superior to humans, and it could be humanity’s salvation, potentially capable of helping them change their own destinies and perform improbable feats. But at the cost of sacrificing thousands, maybe millions, in order to figure out how it works? Miller doesn’t share the same opinion, and so he shoots Dresden in cold blood. At this point Fred’s biggest dilemma is how to go about disposing of Eros Station, and then also in helping to smooth everything over with all of the various planets and factions involved in the debacle . . . that is, until Eros station itself comes alive! With the protomolecule being unleashed on so many victims in a confined area the planet itself takes on a life of it’s own and is capable of thought, also able to transport itself across the galaxy at improbable speeds. After exhausting all of their options it comes down to one final plan, for Miller to sabotage the station from within, and drive it in to the heart of Venus, sacrificing himself in the process. After how far Holden and his crew have come and all they’ve been through, can they help restore a relative peace to the galaxy by successfully aiding Miller in his mission, or is Eros station going to become the scourge of humanity? This was a big book, with a complicated storyline, and it was absolutely amazing! This read was a very gritty space epic, I found it had a lot of similar elements as the Alien series does. Despite being such a long story, I found myself unable to stop turning the pages and chewed through it pretty quickly. There were a lot of twists and turns along the way, it’s just a very well thought out and exciting story. I hear it’s been picked up to become a TV series some time in 2015, so that will be cool to see it come alive on screen. Bravo, bring on book two!

Late last week I finished reading the final book of the Alien trilogy I’d been involved with in recent months, called Alien: River of Pain! The book begins with a few past interludes before the main story gets going. First, in the year 2122 Ellen Ripley is aboard the Nostromo after it’s crew visited the surface of LV-426, unwittingly picking up the creature that terrified us in the original Alien movie. This section expounds on a brief interchange between Ripley and the android science officer, Ash. The scene then shifts forward 40+ years, to the year 2165. On the surface of a rock named Acheron, a team of engineers are involved with installing some atmosphere processors that will eventually make the environment suitable enough for human habitation, in support of a planned community named Hadley’s Hope. Just eight years later, in the year 2173, Anne and Russell Jorden give birth to the first infant actually born in Hadley’s Hope, a wide eyed baby girl they name Rebecca . . . whose nickname just so happens to be Newt!! Our last leap in to the future takes events to the year 2179, when Newt is just 6 years old. While she and her older brother Tim explore the nooks and crannies Hadley’s Hope has to offer them, their parents, who serve as wildcatters, were hired on by Weyland-Yutani to explore the storm swept surface of Acheron and report any findings to the science team. New to Acheron and Hadley’s Hope is Commander Demian Brackett, a man recently transferred to the outpost to serve as the new head of the Colonial Marines unit that is stationed there. Brackett requested the transfer to Acheron, as he wanted to see Anne Jorden, who he had a relationship with many year previously before becoming a marine. Upon his arrival he meets a lot of good people, including Anne and her family (which causes a bit of strife between her and her husband!), but also sees there are some problem children, such as the facility’s administrator and a couple of his more thick skulled troops. Meanwhile, in the deepest reaches of space a salvage team comes upon a vessel floating aimlessly and proceed to check it out. Inside they are flabbergasted to find a young woman deep in the throes of hypersleep, but if they don’t rescue her soon she may be going to sleep permanently! It turns out this woman is Ellen Ripley, who has been floating in space since her experience with the first Alien on the Nostromo!! She is taken to Gateway Station and meets with a Weyland-Yutani lackey named Burke (you may remember these scenes from the Aliens movie). After debriefing Weyland-Yutani many times, on the events aboard the Nostromo, Ripley is eventually dismissed and stripped of her pilot’s license, but not before being graced with some disturbing news. In the 50+ years she had been in hypersleep, a community had arisen on LV-426, now otherwise known as Acheron . . . a community called Hadley’s Hope!! Back on Acheron, not long after Weyland-Yutani receives Ripley’s debriefing, a particular set of coordinates is called in to the administrator, and the Jordens are the crew chosen to go and check said coordinates out. Once on site they discover a major find, an ancient, alien spacecraft that seems to have crash landed on Acheron’s surface! Anne and Russell are both spooked once they head inside the ship and witness the strange sights it holds though, but they can’t help but press onward. Soon their journey ends in disaster, as unknowingly they come upon the aliens’ egg sacs and a face hugger attaches itself to Russ, forcing Anne to lug him back to their vehicle and radio in for help. Eventually Brackett and the marines sort them out and everybody returns to Hadley’s Hope, with the science team eager to check out just what is going on with Russ and this strange being attached to him. Soon enough the things dies and detaches, but everybody’s relief is short lived as a baby alien bursts out of Russ’ chest and skitters away in to the air ductwork!! The marines organize a hunt for the thing, but during the operation they discover the creature grows abnormally fast, and is very deadly. When a team that headed out to the alien ship to follow up on Anne and Russ’ discovery returns with even more people sporting face huggers, Hadley’s Hope is suddenly turned in to a scene of chaos. More and more aliens are released in to the shadows, and the population of Hadley’s Hope dwindles accordingly. The aliens strike fast and quiet, killing some and taking the rest to use as breeders. After a failed attempt to breach the aliens’ hive and take the fight to them, Brackett and the remaining survivors surmise that fleeing Acheron is their only hope of survival. Not long after the action finishes the book concludes with Ripley and a team of marines landing on Acheron, set to investigate why they haven’t received communications from Hadley’s Hope in some time . . . leading us in to the nitty gritty events of the Aliens movie. This book was another awesome Aliens story, so gritty and scary! It was neat how it included some brief events from both the Alien and Aliens movies, but mostly served as a back story as to what happened to the people on LV-426 that instigated the events of the Aliens movie. I’ve heard they are soon going to be releasing a combined Alien/Predator trilogy, that is going to be must read material for yours truly, I love this shit!!

Later that same day where I finished my book, I watched the original Thor movie, which believe it or not I had yet to see! The film begins with a bit of back story. In the year 965 A.D. ancient Norse gods, led by Odin, repelled an attack by the Frost Giants, a race of war obsessed beings intent on not only conquering Earth, but all realms of the universe. A great source of the Frost Giants’ power, the Casket of Ancient Winters, was taken from the Frost Giants and stored deep in the vaults of Asgard, safely tucked away where it can cause no harm. Fast forward to current times and Odin’s sons, Thor and Loki, have reached maturity, with Thor prepared to succeed his father as King of Asgard. However, before the ceremony can be completed a few Frost Giants manage to slip in to Asgard and make an attempt to steal back the casket. A steel guardian Odin calls the Destroyer dispatches the Frost Giants, and all is well again. But Thor doesn’t take the attack well, and he appeals to Odin that the truce between Asgard and Jotunheim has now been broken in an act of war, but Odin preaches caution, saying the actions of a few don’t indicate the intentions of the many. Thor won’t be placated though, and so he secretly arranges a raiding party to travel to Jotunheim via the Bifrost, a party that includes his brother Loki as well as his friends and fellow warriors Sif, Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun. The six acquit themselves well, but eventually they are just far too outnumbered. Odin shows up at the last second and drags them all back to Asgard, but upon arrival he blasts Thor for his arrogance and stupidity, casting him down to Earth without his powers, forcing him in to exile for his transgressions. Thor’s arrival on Earth does not go unnoticed, for in a small town in New Mexico an astrophysicist named Jane Foster has been studying the skies for some time, in an attempt to explain some revolutionary theories she has been developing regarding the composition of the galaxy. Although her friends and partners, Darcy and Erik, don’t quite believe the fantastical elements of Thor’s story, Jane is enthralled with him and the more time she spends with Thor, the more she believes in his origins. Not too far away Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir has also landed in the desert, and it has become quite an attraction for the locals as nobody seems able to lift it. It has become such an attraction that agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up and cordons off the area for research and monitoring! Meanwhile, up in Asgard bad tidings are afoot. First of all, with questions of his origins after making some startling discoveries during the battle in Jotunheim, Loki confronts Odin and finds out that he is actually a Frost Giant. During Odin’s original battle with the Frost Giants he rescued an infant, taking him on as his own son, and this turned out to be Loki. Soon afterwards a tired and distraught Odin falls in to the Odinsleep. While he is down and out Loki plots with the Frost Giants to help him take over Asgard, and not only dispose of Odin but his pesky brother Thor as well! This sets up a two part battle, first on Earth and then finally back on Asgard, which pits brother against brother and Asgardians against Frost Giants. Do the Asgardians have enough in them to win another victory over this fierce foe, or will Loki’s addition finally help tip the scales in the Frost Giants’ favour? This was a pretty good film. I’m a fan of Chris Hemsworth, and I adore Natalie Portman, she’s in the top five on my “list”! The action was awesome, and the visuals were pretty amazing as there were a lot of fantastical elements to this story. Agent Coulson showing up in yet another Marvel movie was delightful and hilarious, and it was cool to finally learn more about Thor as he is one of the main Marvel heroes that I don’t know all that much about.

Finally, amongst all of this craziness an annual tradition was taking place, a certain little tournament . . . known as the World Junior Hockey Championship!! This is a 10 team tournament that begins on Boxing Day every year, pitting the top nations in the world against each other in a round-robin ice hockey tournament, to determine who is the best of the best. Put on by the IIHF, the tournament features junior age players, so those under 20 years old. The teams that participated this year included Canada, U.S.A., Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Russia (since it was co-hosted by Toronto and Montreal we even made it out to a game, seeing Switzerland take on the Czech Republic, I’ll post pictures). Naturally Canada was the favourite, as we always are, despite how even the top teams have mostly become in recent years. Our Canucks did not disappoint! They waltzed through the round-robin portion of the tournament, defeating Slovakia (8-0), Germany (4-0), Finland (4-1) & U.S.A. (5-3). In the medal round they disposed of Denmark (8-0) and then Slovakia (5-1), before facing Russia in the gold medal game on January 05. It’s a classic rivalry, perhaps the most classic of them all, and boy did it sure play out that way! The Canucks jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead just two and a half minutes in, but Russia climbed back to within one before the period was out. In the second period Canada once again put on the pressure, blowing things open to a score of 5-1! However, the Russians were given some momentum when the refs began gifting them powerplays, calling Canada for four minor penalties in a row, only one of which was an actual penalty. This allowed the Russians to climb back to within one yet again, putting the score at 5-4 Canada and setting up a pretty wild finish. In the third period the Canadian team came out refocused, got a quick penalty kill out of the way, and then never looked back, hanging on to win the game 5-4 in a heck of an exciting fashion! After not winning the gold since 2009 this victory came as a big relief, as the Canadians and their fans expect to win gold every year, even as improbable as that sounds. Hockey is not just a game here, it is a passion, a fabric of our everyday life, and anything less than gold doesn’t really register. But they pushed the competition around this year and brought home the bacon once more, congrats fellas!!!

There was a certain X factor at work this month . . . an X-Men factor, to be precise!!

It’s pretty much been a month since I last blogged, and boy have those four weeks been action packed! The weekend that soon arrived after my last blog post was an extended one, as I had to take the Friday off because it was a P.D. Day at James’ school. While mrs. darthcobain17 went in to meet the teacher, we stayed home and played video games and basement hockey all day! Later that day we went to the movies. As for the rest of the weekend, on the Saturday we drove down Hamilton way to attend a friends’ house warming party. While there I finally managed to accomplish a long sought after goal of mine . . . I ended up drinking an entire case of beer in one night!! I didn’t really mean to, the beers were just going down so well, and before I knew it boom, out of brews. Pretty epic!

The following weekend was a really busy one, at least on the Saturday. The wife finally decided it was time to decorate the house for Christmas, and when I say decorate, it’s not the normal person’s version. We have two Christmas trees to put up, and then pretty much every room on the main floor of our house has some sort of collection of decorations that dress them up for Christmas, it’s pretty ludicrous! Not to mention all the outdoor lights and what not. On the Sunday though, mrs. darthcobain17 went cross border shopping with her mom and was gone all day and overnight. So it was a pretty relaxing day, James and I once more overdosed on video games and basement hockey!

The weekend after was a much more low key one. We didn’t really have any plans, so on Saturday we took James to a First Lego League competition that was taking place at UWO, for primary school kids aged 9-14 or so. James really wants to take part in this when he is old enough! His school had a team in the competition so we got to watch one of their matches, which they won quite handily. On the Sunday we went to see Shrek: The Musical, for which I had bought the wife tickets for her birthday. It was actually really good, with a belching/farting contest, lots of ass jokes, etc., it was right up my alley! Afterwards we went out for dinner to end our weekend.

Finally, this past weekend, we went down to Grimsby on Saturday as on Sunday we were to have our Christmas celebration with the in-laws, as a few of them won’t be home during the actual holidays because they are traveling to various places. Everybody bought toy gifts for each other, which we felt represented said person, and then we gave the toys to a toy drive. Afterwards we had a big, fat dinner during which I stuffed myself ridiculously, and I got in to the booze too.

As for the weekdays, James still has Beavers, swimming lessons and golf lessons during the week, although both swimming and golf are coming to a close soon. On top of that we’ve had Christmas celebrations with friends, James’ Christmas assembly at school, and numerous other things occupying our time. Throughout it all though, I was able to get at my games when I could, here is what I got done . . .

1) To start off the gaming this month, I was once again able to get another level knocked off on Goldeneye! This sixth level of the game was called “Kirghizstan – Launch Silo #4”. This was the start of my next overall mission in the game, to set it up one of our agents had concerns that missile silo activity in Kirghizstan was being used to cover a launch of the Goldeneye weapon satellites. The level then began, just after Bond had set timed charges in this facility in Kirghizstan, so I immediately began exploring the various tunnels of the missile silo facility, taking out random pockets of soldiers as I did. Every once in a while I’d come across a computer lab and would let the scientists escape, while acquiring various pieces of satellite circuitry that were lying around. Using stolen key cards to speed me along my way, I eventually came to a lab that actually held one of the Goldeneye satellites and took pictures of it with my camera (as well as obtained some telemetric data from one of the scientists). On my way to exit the facility I ran in to an enemy who was a bit of a brute, no matter how much lead I pumped in to him he wouldn’t go down! But I chased him away eventually, soon after reaching an elevator that sped me away from the soon to be destroyed facility! I finished this level with a time of 7:02 and had a 62.0% accuracy rating.

2) Again as usual, I completed another series of my season on MLB 2K11, this time around hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates. The series went down as such: won vs. Pittsburgh 3-0, won vs. Pittsburgh 3-0 & won vs. Pittsburgh 11-1.

3) The mop up operation finally entered full swing on Lego: Lord of the Rings this time around, it’s been a long time coming! I was able to get at four game levels, which went as such: “The Black Rider” (found the last 2 Minikit pieces, the last Treasure item, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit and finding all Treasure items]), “Weathertop” (found the last 9 Minikit pieces, 3/3 Treasure items, the Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for completing the Minikit, and finding all Treasure items plus the Tablet]), “The Pass of Cahadras” (earned True Adventurer status, found the last 7 Minikit pieces, found 3/3 Treasure items, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for the status, Minikit, and the Treasure items]) & “The Mines of Moria” (earned True Adventurer status, found the last 8 Minikit pieces, the last 2 Treasure items, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for the status, Minikit, and the Treasure items]). Just because I only got four levels tidied up didn’t mean I made little progress though. The game hub on this title has tons of stuff to do and find within it, so I spent most of my time there! On top of completing said two levels I found 44 Silver Bricks, 4 Tablets, completed 10 Quests, and unlocked/purchased 4 Red Bricks (which contained the Mithril Brick Finder, Regenerate Hearts, Poo Studs, and Boss Disguises extras). I also purchased a number of characters, including Berserker, Rosie, Bilbo Baggins (Old), Tom Bombadil, Radagast the Brown, Ringwraith (Twilight), Ringwraith, Moria Orc, Bilbo Baggins, Elrond (Second Age), Gloin & Elrond (Third Age). I made many visits to the Blacksmith’s in Bree, having him forge many quest items with my collected Mithril Bricks. The items I completed this first time around included the Mithril Whistle Sword, Rope, Music Horn, Headdress, Boxing Gloves, Squeak Sword, Ice Bow, Cluster Bow, Disco Phial, Hairbrush, Paintbrush, Music Boots, Skeleton Sword & Spring Boots. To top all of this off I also quickly dabbled in the “Middle-Earth” bonus level, upon exiting it I unlocked both the Mouth of Sauron and Sauron characters. Shibby!

4) On NHL ’04 I took part in the next four games of my season, which looked as follows: won @ Washington 15-4, won @ Montreal 16-3, won vs. Carolina 8-6 & won @ Atlanta 20-7.

5) Some really meaningful progress was made on Batman Origins: Blackgate, including a couple of boss fights! To start play off I began my re-infiltration of the Cell Blocks, using ductwork, hallways and an elevator to get around. There was not much goon activity, at least to begin with, as I’d already cleared a lot of this area earlier in the game. Along the way I obtained a Heavy Gauntlet and Armor Reinforcement upgrade. Eventually I was able to reach areas of the facility I hadn’t been to yet, thanks to the new key card access I had acquired. I entered what appeared to be the power plant, where I ran in to some of Penguin’s goons. After navigating a series of high catwalks (and obtaining the One Million Boots in the process) I took out more punks before reaching the munitions dump, where I acquired an upgrade for my Gel Launcher gadget . . . the Glue Gel! I then ex-filtrated the facility, obtaining a Rush Upgrade along the way. My journey then took me back to the Industrial section of Blackgate, where I re-entered the facility the same way I originally did, obtaining an Armor Reinforcement in the process. Eventually I reached the door that was operated by a pressure plate, which seemed to stall my progress oh so long ago. Well now with my handy Glue Gel gadget that was no longer an issue! Gumming up the gears of said door I was able to pass through it to an unexplored area of the facility. Not long in to it I managed to track down Black Mask, who’s ultimate plan I had learned . . . to blow the entire Blackgate facility sky high, eliminating all of his criminal competition in one fell swoop! The villain sicked a horde of his thugs on me in some sort of generator room, once they were bloodied and bruised I had to manipulate the nearby circuitry in order to escape and continue chasing Black Mask down. I eventually caught up to him and after shutting the soon to be overloaded generators down, I confronted him and got the drop on him by using some access tunnels underneath his location. Upon Black Mask’s defeat I used a computer to restore power to Blackgate prison and all of it’s offshoot facilities, then began my ex-filtration (obtaining an Armor Reinforcement along the way). Instead of exiting the facility though, I found a new part of it that I had yet to check out. I soon found myself engaging hordes of Joker’s goons, while navigating a very water drenched area (acquiring the Red Son Boots in the process). The pot at the end of the rainbow here was acquisition of the Tightrope capability. Upon nabbing it I forged on and found a path that led directly to the Administration building. Said path ended up being a secret entrance to the warden’s office, and when I got there I found that this level of the game was simply a boss fight . . . against none other than that fiend, The Joker! I demanded he give me the Crypto Sequencer codes, but as usual he declined. So we then began a drawn out dance of a fight where he pulled out a handgun, an electric prod, and even poison gas on me! Despite all of his tricks I was able to turn the tables on him using my various gadgets. Upon his defeat I obtained the Gamma Key I had so badly wanted all this time. Afterwards I shut down the poison gas he’d been pumping in to the room, and then tried to restore normal ventilation to the Arkham wing. However, the computer said ventilation there was fine and had never been interrupted. When I contacted Catwoman and asked her why she had mentioned the ventilation issue, it was obvious there was something she was hiding . . .

6) Next up comes Jak X: Combat Racing, and I got a good chunk bit off there too! The first area I visited this time around was “Kras City”, where I completed two events. Said events were “Kras City – Turbo Dash” (won the race, gold medal) & “Waterfront Loop – Freeze Rally” (won the event, gold medal). I then went to “Haven City”, where I completed a solitary event, called “Forbidden Jungle – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). Another solitary event was on the docket next, in “Icelands”, and it was called “Frozen Speedway – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). It was then back to “Kras City” and then “Haven City”, for a set of one off events in each destination. Said events, respectively, included “Deathdrome – Death Race” (won the race, gold medal) & “Clifftop Battlefield – Sport Hunt” (won the event, gold medal). “Spargus” was the next area I traveled to, where I participated in a couple of events. Said events included “Desert Arena – Deathmatch” (won the event, gold medal) & “Canyon Run – Rush Hour” (won the event, gold medal). I finished play by competing in five solitary events across various destinations. The areas I visited, in order, were “Haven City”, “Spargus”, “Kras City”, “Spargus” & “Grand Prix”. The respective events at these destinations included “City Outskirts – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal), “Badland Sanctuary – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal), “Kras City – Death Race” (won the race, gold medal), “Wasteland Isle – Deathmatch” (won the event, gold medal) & “Glacier Alley – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). Almost done the Green Eco Cup now!!

7) Luigi’ Mansion: Dark Moon got hit hard this time around, hard enough that it is now complete!! What an awesome game too, a 10 for sure. Anyhoo, continuing on in the “Old Clockworks” area of the game, I completed the last couple levels it had to offer. The first one was “C-6: Showtime” (clear time of 19:01, 37 ghosts captured, and 665 treasure collected), while the other was the area’s secret level, called “Outlandish Interruption” (clear time of 7:27, 24 ghosts captured, and 234 treasure collected). The penultimate area of the game was called “Secret Mine”, there I completed the initial four levels as so: “D-1: Cold Case” (clear time of 34:59, 8 ghosts captured, and 1323 treasure collected), “D-2: Hit Rock Bottom” (clear time of 24:57, 10 ghosts captured, and 752 treasure collected), “D-3: Across the Chasm” (clear time of 1:25:55, 12 ghosts captured, and 990 treasure collected) & “D-Boss: Chilly Ride” (clear time of 5:10, 1 ghost captured, and no treasure collected). Afterwards I was able to complete the secret level in this area, called “Severe Infestation” (clear time of 8:53, 20 ghosts captured, and 451 treasure collected). It was finally time to move on to the last area of this exciting adventure, called “Treacherous Mansion”!! There I was able to complete all the levels they threw at me, which included “E-1: Front-Door Key” (clear time of 25:49, 11 ghosts captured, and 1053 treasure collected), “E-2: Double Trouble” (clear time of 48:28, 19 ghosts captured, and 1836 treasure collected), “E-3: A Train to Catch” (clear time of 20:09, 12 ghosts captured, and 654 treasure collected), “E-4: Ambush Maneuver” (clear time of 12:51, no ghosts captured, and no treasure collected), “E-5: Paranormal Chaos” (clear time of 20:43, 52 ghosts captured, and 1836 treasure collected), “E-Boss: Stop the Knightmare” (clear time of 2:45, 1 ghost captured, and 60 treasure collected) & “E-Boss; King Boo’s Illusion: A Nightmare to Remember” (clear time of 32:14, 1 ghost captured, and 260 treasure collected). After the game was complete I was able to play this area’s secret level, called “Terrifying Invasion” (clear time of 5:16, 18 ghosts captured, and 464 treasure collected). And that was it. Luigi had been able to defeat King Boo, rescue his lost brother Mario, and restore peace to Evershade Valley! Game over . . .

8) Believe it or not James and I only ramped up our activity on New Super Mario Bros. U, so much so that we defeated it . . . and then moved on and defeated the New Super Luigi U game that was included with it!! Picking up where we left off on New Super Mario Bros. U the last time, we knocked down the rest of the levels, which went as such: “Meringue Clouds – 3: Switchback Hill”, “Meringue Clouds – Castle: Slide Cliff Tower”, “Meringue Clouds – Mansion: Spinning Spirit House”, “Meringue Clouds – 4: Bouncy Cloud Boomerangs”, “Meringue Clouds – 5: A Quick Dip in the Sky”, “Meringue Clouds – 6: Snaking above Mist Valley”, “Meringue Clouds – Castle: Ludwig’s Clockwork Castle”, “Meringue Clouds – Airship: Boarding the Airship”, “Peach’s Castle – 1: Meteor Moat”, “Peach’s Castle – 2: Magma-River Cruise”, “Peach’s Castle – 3: Rising Tides of Lava”, “Peach’s Castle – Castle: Red-Hot Elevator Ride” & “Peach’s Castle – Castle: The Final Battle”. In all of these levels we managed to obtain the 3 Gold Star coins that were hidden throughout. After completing the game a couple of things were unlocked for us, a secret mushroom house where we could view stats on our game progress, and then an area of secret bonus levels called “Superstar Road”. These levels are pretty tricky though, so far we’ve only been able to complete one of them, called “Superstar Road – 7: Lakitu! Lakitu! Lakitu!” (obtaining 2/3 Gold Star coins). It was then on to partake in the New Super Luigi U game that came on the same disc as the Mario Bros. game. It used the same collection of worlds, and the levels were similarly themed, but in the Luigi game you are given a much shorter time limit in each level, the challenge is more a race against time than anything. A cool aspect is that James could use a new character named Nabbit, who was invulnerable against a lot of attacks and enemies, so his powers came in handy quite a bit!! Anyways, we had become so addicted to these titles that we managed to complete this game as well, here is how it all shook out: “Acorn Plains – 1: Waddlewing Warning!”, “Acorn Plains – 2: Crooked Cavern”, “Acorn Plains – Castle: Flame-Gear Tower”, “Acorn Plains – 3: Rolling Yoshi Hills”, “Acorn Plains – 4: Piranha Heights”, “Acorn Plains – 5: Piranha Gardens”, “Acorn Plains – Castle: Lemmy’s Lights-Out Castle”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 1: Spike’s Tumbling Desert”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 2: Underground Grrrols”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 3: Piranhas in the Dark”, “Layer-Cake Desert – Castle: Wind-Up Tower”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 4: The Walls Have Eyes”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 5: Stone Spike Conveyors”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 6: Spinning Sandstones”, “Layer-Cake Desert – Castle: Morton’s Lava-Block Castle”, “Frosted Glacier – 1: Broozers and Barrels”, “Frosted Glacier – 2: Cooligan Shrooms”, “Frosted Glacier – Castle: Icicle Tower”, “Frosted Glacier – 3: Fire and Ice”, “Frosted Glacier – 4: Weighty Waddlewings”, “Frosted Glacier – 5: Ice-Slide Expressway”, “Frosted Glacier – Mansion: Peek-a-Boo Ghost House”, “Frosted Glacier – Special: Fliprus Floes”, “Frosted Glacier – Castle: Wendy’s Thwomp Castle”, “Sparkling Waters – 1: Huckit Beach Resort”, “Sparkling Waters – 2: Urchin Reef Romp”, “Sparkling Waters – Castle: Shish-Kebab Tower”, “Sparkling Waters – Shipwreck: Haunted Cargo Hold”, “Sparkling Waters – 3: Waterspout Sprint”, “Sparkling Waters – 4: The Great Geysers”, “Sparkling Waters – 5: Dragoneel Depths”, “Sparkling Waters – Castle: Larry’s Trigger-Happy Castle”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 1: Mount Fuzzy”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 2: Porcupuffer Cavern”, “Rock-Candy Mines – Castle: Smashing Stone Tower”, “Rock-Candy Mines- 3: Spike’s Seesaws”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 4: Light-Up-Lift Tower”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 5: Rising Piranhas”, “Rock-Candy Mines – Castle: Sumo Bro’s Spinning Tower”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 7: Switch-Lift Express”, “Rock-Candy Mines – Castle: Roy’s Ironclad Castle”, “Soda Jungle – Airship: All Aboard!”, “Soda Jungle – 1: Giant Swing-Along”, “Soda Jungle – 2: Dancing Blocks, Poison Swamp”, “Soda Jungle – 3: Heart of Bramball Woods”, “Soda Jungle – Castle: Stone-Snake Tower”, “Soda Jungle – Mansion: Boo’s Favorite Haunt”, “Soda Jungle – 4: Painted Pipeworks”, “Soda Jungle – 5: Deepsea Stone-Eyes”, “Soda Jungle – 6: Sumo Bro Bridge”, “Soda Jungle – 7: Wiggler Floodlands”, “Soda Jungle – Castle: Iggy’s Swinging-Chains Castle”, “Soda Jungle – Special: Para-Beetle Parade”, “Meringue Clouds – 1: Frozen Fuzzies”, “Meringue Clouds – 2: Wiggler Rodeo”, “Meringue Clouds – 3: Rainbow Skywalk”, “Meringue Clouds – Castle: Stonecrush Tower”, “Meringue Clouds – 4: Above the Bouncy Clouds”, “Meringue Clouds – 5: Flame Chomp Ferris Wheel”, “Meringue Clouds – 6: Three-Headed Snake Block”, “Meringue Clouds – Castle: Ludwig’s Block-Press Castle”, “Meringue Clouds – Airship: Bowser Jr. Showdown”, “Peach’s Castle – 1: Magma Moat”, “Peach’s Castle – 2: Magmaw River Cruise”, “Peach’s Castle – 3: Hot Cogs”, “Peach’s Castle- 4: Firefall Rising”, “Peach’s Castle – Castle: Current Event” & “Peach’s Castle – Castle: The Final Battle”. While playing the Luigi game we finally realized that we had missed some levels along the way, and in Mario Bros. too. The way to unlock them was to find secret exits in some of game levels we’d already completed. So after finishing the game we went back and unlocked, then completed, said missing levels. They included: “Acorn Plains – Special: Cheep Chomp Chase”, “Layer-Cake Desert – Special: Secret Slippery Rope Ladders”, “Sparkling Waters – Special: Beanstalk Jungle” & “Rock-Candy Mines – 6: Spine Coaster Stowaways”. In all of the above levels I mentioned for New Super Luigi U, we were able to obtain all 3 Gold Star coins in each level . . . many times along with much frustration!! We then headed to the newly unlocked “Superstar Road” bonus levels area, and completed the following levels: “Superstar Road – 3: Star Coin Deep Dive”, “Superstar Road – 4: Hammerswing Hangout”, “Superstar Road – 5: Under Construction” & “Superstar Road – 6: Fire Bar Sprint”. After figuring out how to obtain the missing levels I mentioned, we then went back to New Super Mario Bros. U and unlocked and completed the ones we were missing there. Those levels included: “Acorn Plains – Special: Blooper’s Secret Lair”, “Sparkling Waters – Special: Skyward Stalk” & “Peach’s Castle – 4: Firefall Cliffs”. It was quite a journey but these two games are now both in the books, and much like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon they will receive a resounding 10 from yours truly!!

9) I made my greatest progress yet on Transformers: Beast Wars, completing five more levels! Said progress unfolded as such: “Urban 2 – Perimeter Defence” (Tarantulas had retreated to the perimeter of our base, my job was to destroy his remaining troops and secure the area), “Urban 3 – Spider’s Lair” (during our previous engagements vital information had fallen in to Tarantulas’ hands, I was tasked with tracking him down and destroying him before he could use it against us), “Desert 1 – Powerlines” (Scorponok had been damaging the environment by mining Energon in the desert, I had to locate and destroy his mining equipment including the transport tower and prospector ships), “Desert 2 – Search and Destroy” (after our last mission’s success a scan of the area revealed an unidentified Predacon presence still active, I had to sniff the presence out and negate the threat that Scorponok’s processed Energon held to us all) & “Desert 3 – Desert Stronghold” (Scorponok had retreated to his base to regroup his forces and said base was protected by an ion force shield, so I was jobbed with destroying said shield and then the evil fiend himself). More on the way!

10) Naturally, because I finished Luigi’s Mansion I had to get going on a new game for the 3DS, and for that game I chose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie! This is a title based around the blockbuster film that came out this past summer, which gave the TMNT franchise a whole new and different look and feel. The game doesn’t follow the events of the movie per se, but it takes place within that universe and introduces a few new (yet familiar) characters to this incarnation of the Turtles. Kicking the game off with it’s Story Mode, I’ve been able to complete the first 10 levels, which went as such: “Routine Patrol” (the fearsome foursome were prowling the streets of New York looking for trouble, and we took it out on the Foot Clan when we found them), “Disappeared!” (April got in touch to inform us that Splinter was kidnapped from the lair, so we began tracking him through the sewers, taking out many rat creatures as we went), “The Hunt” (we pursued Splinter’s trail even deeper and ran in to many more rat enemies, before the scent eventually went cold), “Rat Invasion” (we came upon evidence of a large rat gathering taking place so we went to check for Splinter there, learning that the Foot Clan were also present), “Final Push” (forging onwards towards our master we came up against the most Foot Clan soldiers we’d encountered yet, and they distracted us by holding a subway train full of citizens hostage, who we had to spend time rescuing), “Master vs. Students” (we finally caught up with Splinter but he wasn’t himself, under some sort of mind control . . . so we battled and upon taking him down the spell was broken!), “Chaos in the Streets” (the streets of New York were being overrun with various mutants as well as Mouser robots, under the cover of night we had to eliminate these enemies and help April tidy up the city, by restoring power to neighbourhoods and accessing water mains for cleanup), “The Signal Source” (we discovered a signal that was emanating from the sewers, the same signal that took over Splinter’s mind and was controlling the Mousers, so we headed below and began to track it, moving towards the quarry and flooding the sewers to impede our enemies’ progress), “Checkmate” (we cornered the source of this signal, who ended up being an enemy named the Rat King, we took him down and found Mutagen on the scene, helping us link him to Baxter Stockman) & “Underground Secrets” (April found an entrance to the machine shop Baxter had been using as his lab, so we began our infiltration, having to unlock three blast doors before we could make any real progress). It’s been a good hack n’ slash game so far, with lots of achievements and unlocks to shoot for, pretty fun!

11) Not wanting to stop there I also got started on a DS title I picked up for cheap recently, called X-Men: Destiny. It felt right, considering I just finished watching all the X-Men movies in a row!! The story begins at the first ever Charles Xavier annual memorial rally (nooooooooooo!!!!), where Cyclops is making a speech in his honour. Alongside him is Luis Reyes, an officer from the Mutant Response Division, who is tasked with helping achieve a long lasting peace between mutants and humans. However, during the festivities Magneto attacks and turns the scene in to one of carnage. You control Reyes’ assistant Samuel, a human who suddenly discovers he’s a mutant when Magneto’s attack activates his powers! You must then make a choice, whether you want to be a melee or ranged fighter, and then the action commences. So far I’ve been able to complete the initial two levels of the game. First was “San Francisco Downtown”, where I began looking for Reyes, who had gone missing during all the confusion. Along the way I had to engage a number of Purifier punks, whose goal it is to take all mutants down. Eventually I ran in to both Wolverine and Sabretooth, and they offered me a decision to make. I sided with Wolverine’s advice and helped him rescue four civilians from Purifier violence, afterwards finding out that Reyes had been taken to the mutant annex. I set out for the annex but got waylaid, tasked with taking down a handful of looters who were rioting in the streets. Not long afterwards I caught up with Reyes and rescued him from his captors, ending the level. The second level was called “Mutant Annex”. To kick things off Cyclops informed me that he had mutants scattered all over the city, so my first task was to track them all down and help them get to safety within the annex. I ran in to Pixie and Mystique, and again I had a decision to make. I sided with Pixie and helped her round up all the wounded, human and mutant alike, she was able to teleport them away to receive aid. Along the way I was able to help some of the M.R.D. soldiers flush out a knot of Purifiers from an alley they weren’t able to penetrate, afterwards meeting up with Archangel. He asked if I would help him take down a Purifier honcho named Abrams, and I agreed. In the end we were successful in capturing him, but soon after I was engaged by a Purifier High Purist, who sicked his forces on me. Once I chewed through said low life’s I went after the High Purist and stomped a mud hole in his ass . . . level over! A fun game so far, can’t wait to see what other characters may make an appearance.

12) Finally, with the completion of Mario Bros./Luigi, James and I decided to begin play on Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed for the Wii U! In this game you get to take a plethora of classic Sega characters in to battle, racing around tracks inspired by various Sega titles, and the visuals are quite stunning. Speed boosts and numerous types of weapons run rampant, so it makes for a pretty wild racing experience. Upon firing the game up we immediately chose to compete in “Career Mode”, choosing “World Tour” as our racing experience of choice, which is kind of like the story mode of the game. The first area we were able to race in was called “Sunshine Coast”, and so far we’ve only completed two events there as this game can be quite tricky, hopefully it will get better once we are used to the control scheme. Said events included: “Coastal Cruise” (competed in B class, placed third, earned 2 stars) & “Canyon Carnage” (competed in B class, placed first, earned 2 stars). Definitely more to come soon!

“NNGRR” - Pretty much just after I finished posting my last blog, I completed the book I was reading at the time, called Watchers, by Dean Koontz. The main character in this story is Travis Cornell, a thirty something who used to belong to an elite military unit before getting in to real estate, and then ultimately retiring early. Travis feels he is cursed, for all his family members died when he was younger, as well as his wife, not all that long after they wed. He has become a bit of a recluse and feels as though life has become quite pointless. In an effort to regain some of the innocence of his youth, the Santa Barbara native heads to the Santa Ana mountains with a pistol, to shoot rattlesnakes like he did as a kid! However, what he finds instead is a beautiful Golden Retriever who after great effort, warns Travis away from the area, protecting him from an unseen danger. Travis could feel the malevolence in the air though, and is glad to escape the area with this mysterious dog in tow. He plans on giving the dog to the pound after getting him cleaned up a bit, but after Travel gets him home the dog displays an almost human level degree of brain power, seemingly understanding what Travis says to him, while also performing unimaginable feats like fetching him a beer from a closed fridge and turning on the outdoor water tap. It doesn’t take Travis long before he decides to keep this wonderful creature, eventually naming him Einstein! While all of this is going on, a couple of other important situations are developing. Another thirty something in Santa Barbara, Nora Devon, has recently started a new life. Her Aunt Violet, a harsh woman who made Nora a virtual shut in, in order to protect her from the “dangers” of the world, has gained some newfound freedom after her aunt’s passing. Unfortunately one of her first experiences is that a TV repair man begins stalking her and she fears for her life! The other situation is presided over by an NSA agent named Lemuel Johnson, who is tracking a subject that has committed a nasty string of savage murders, and the trail just keeps on growing. Anyhoo, when one day Travis and Einstein bump in to Nora in a nearby park, while she is in mid-confrontation with her stalker, the dog senses what is going on and immediately takes a major shine to Nora, driving the offender away. Eventually, upon their second meeting, Travis and Einstein are able to subdue and capture Nora’s tormentor and turn him over to the cops. Afterwards Travis and Nora begin a tentative relationship, for Nora has failed to experience so many things life has to offer, but in time this relationship soon blooms in to a full blown love affair. With their developing relationship also comes developments with Einstein. After much hard work they teach him communicate using barks and tail wags, eventually even to read books, which allows the mutt to fill them in on his situation. Einstein was a lab dog, at the recently burned to the ground Banodyne Laboratories. The experiments they performed on him infused him with the great intellect Travis and Nora have witnessed on so many occasions. But there was another subject the scientists there had created from scratch . . . a subject that was bred to be used as the perfect soldier in the U.S. military, a virtual killing machine! The creature was dubbed the “Outsider”, and it too escaped from the lab like Einstein did (it is the subject the NSA is tracking). Worst of all though, is that the Outsider hates the dog and has the ability to track him over vast distances. When the Outsider eventually catches up with Travis, Nora and Einstein, after they return from being wed in Las Vegas, they skip town and flee up to San Francisco, where they settle down and make preparations for the showdown that is eventually going to take place. Will Travis’ preparations and former military training be enough to repel this savage beast, or is it lights out for everyone, just after they had finally gotten their lives on track? This was a pretty good story, suspenseful in many places, and it certainly contained some interesting subject matter. It was also neat how the story unfolded over a period of many months, which allowed the characters and their relationships to develop quite a bit. A worthy read overall.

The movie we went to see on that PD day I mentioned was the new one from Disney, called Big Hero 6! I believe it was based on a comic book, and boy was it awesome. The story is set in a place called San Fransokyo, a seemingly futuristic hybrid of San Francisco and Tokyo. The main character is a 14 year old name Hiro Hamada, a robotics whiz who uses his talents to take part in underground bot fights. However, when his older brother Tadashi, who is also no slouch in the robotics department, takes him to visit the lab at the prestigious university he attends, Hiro is hooked! He not only meets Tadashi’s closest friends Fred, Wasabi, Go Go and Honey Lemon, but also the object of all Tadashi’s hard work . . . Baymax. Baymax is a unique bot that Tadashi has constructed, meant to aid in distributing medical care to those who are injured. Hiro is amazed not only by Baymax, but the whole lab in general, and he now burns to attend this school rather than waste his time on bot fights! Tadashi says Hiro will have his chance, because at an open house in the near future, young prospective students are allowed to enter a design showcase, with the winner granted admittance to the school as a reward. It takes Hiro a while to find inspiration for his design, but when he does it’s no holds barred. Upon unveiling his micro-bots at the showcase (tiny bots that can come together en masse and do pretty much anything, all at the behest of the user, who wears a neural transmitter and literally thinks the bots in to action), he is the hands down winner!! That same night though, as the open house is wrapping up, a fire breaks out in the building and Tadashi is killed when he tries to save his mentor Professor Callaghan, from perishing in the blaze. Despondent afterwards, Hiro does not attend school or answer any calls from his new friends. It isn’t until Hiro hurts himself in his and Tadashi’s bedroom, triggering Baymax to spring in to action, when things get interesting. After a rocky start between the two, Hiro warms to Baymax and the pair set off on an adventure. For Hiro finds one of his micro-bots in his pocket, he had assumed they were all destroyed in the fire. He believes the bot is malfunctioning, but Baymax tells him it’s simply trying to get to the other micro-bots. Putting two and two together the duo soon find themselves in a dilapidated warehouse, where someone has taken Hiro’s micro-bots and used the design to start putting them in to mass production! They don’t have time to ponder the situation though, as a mysterious figure in a Kabuki mask attacks, using Hiro’s own micro-bots to get around, and they just narrowly manage to escape! With a newfound sense of purpose Hiro describes the events to his friends, assuming that the villain is Alistair Krei, a somewhat immoral tycoon who showed a real interest in Hiro’s micro-bots at the open house. With their knack for robotics, Hiro and his friends are soon outfitted in super hero fashion . . . they are now Big Hero 6!! Along with their combined intellect and Baymax’s might, the group of friends eventually track down this masked villain . . . but to Hiro’s great surprise the masked man is not who he thought it was. Will Hiro give in to his temptation for revenge, losing his friends and Baymax’s innocence along the way, or will he rise to the occasion and become the hero he was meant to be? This movie was awesome, one of my favourite animated features of all time, for sure! The animation was amazing, so colourful and detailed, very crisp, and I loved the alternate sort of dimension this film seemed to take place in. Add in some great characters, a wicked storyline, and some intense action, and you’ve got a masterpiece on your hands. Truly a delight!!

The following week I watched my next super hero movie, choosing to continue with the X-Men series by viewing X-Men Origins: Wolverine! This is a film that builds on Wolverine’s back story and puts most of the pieces of the puzzle together for us. The action kicks off in the Northwest Territories (yeah, Canada!) in the year 1845. A young boy named James, who is very ill, is being tended to by his father while his “brother” Victor looks on. Soon after his father goes to check on a ruckus that has developed downstairs, and when James goes to investigate he finds his dad mortally shot, which causes James’ mutation to finally present itself . . . that being three sharp claws made of bone that erupt from his fists! He slays the man who killed his father, Thomas Logan, only to find out that Logan was really James’ true father. James now finds himself being hunted down, labelled a freak, taking control of the situation Victor urges James to run with him to safety and the pair escape in to the night. At this point a montage plays of the two as they grow older, taking part in a number of wars as history unfolds, including the Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War. In Vietnam though Victor goes a bit mental and kills a number of his own people, for defending Victor the two are thus scheduled to be executed. But to the great surprise of the troops pulling their triggers, the two are barely even fazed by the assault, being thrown in jail instead. James and Victor are saved from captivity when a U.S. official named William Stryker shows up, offering them a chance to join a special assortment of mutants he’s labelled as Team X. They take the offer and do their duty for a good while, but eventually the more shady, unnecessarily violent nature of the missions turns James off and he leaves the unit. A number of years later Logan (for he’s taken the name of his true father) is living in the Canadian Rockies, working as a lumberjack, living with a super hot school teacher named Kayla Silverfox. Life is peaceful and good for Logan, but not for long. For Stryker manages to track him down and tells Logan he needs his help . . . somebody is tracking down the former members of Team X and killing them, but Logan is not interested in saving Stryker’s ass for him. But tragedy is just around the corner for Logan, when he finds Kayla’s dead body lying in the forest near his work site. With evidence to suggest that Victor (or Sabretooth as we know him best!) was the perpetrator, Logan tracks him to a nearby bar and a major scuffle ensues. Unfortunately Logan is on the short end of the battle, afterwards Stryker shows up and promises Logan the means to defeat him. He agrees and is taken to Stryker’s secret lab, where the process is undertaken that coats Logan’s entire skeleton in adamantium . . . thus is born, the Wolverine!! All goes to plan during the operation, until Stryker also orders a memory wipe, which Logan overhears. He goes berserk and wreaks havoc, stealing out of the facility and in to the wilderness. Wolverine is tracked down by Stryker’s pet, Agent Zero, after dispatching him Wolverine heads to Las Vegas to talk to a couple of his old mates from Team X. They mention that Stryker and Sabretooth have been working together all this time, and have a base on a mysterious island that they don’t know the location of. But they do know of a mutant who escaped from said island, a gent by the name of Gambit. So Wolverine tracks Gambit down and ropes him in to giving him a lift. However, once on the island Wolverine is outnumbered and in for a few big surprises. Why is Kayla on site and in good health? Why are all these young mutants miserably trapped in cages? And who is this Deadpool character Stryker’s added to his arsenal of goons? Wolverine is in for the fight of his life, will he survive to fight another day, or will his enemies finally find a way to dispatch a man that nobody has found a way to kill just yet? This was a great flick. I was kind of wondering just how much they could get in to regarding his background, after the revelations of X2, but they did a great job in piecing together his history and going pretty in depth to describe this oh so popular character. Everything seemed to fit in place just right, and it was filmed beautifully, such good action sequences. Also, the characters they added, and the actors they got to portray them were great choices all around. Joining the fray were the likes of Liev Schreiber, Dominic Monaghan, Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Reynolds, and the super sexy Lynn Collins! I’d never heard of her before, but now I’m hooked. Great movie all around!!

A week later I watched another of the X-Men movies, this time taking in X-Men: First Class, and boy was it also quite good!! The story kicks off back in Nazi occupied Poland in 1944, the same scene we saw at the very start of the first X-Men movie. A young boy named Erik Lensherr displays a startling ability to manipulate metal with his mind when separated from his parents, but is quickly subdued. However, afterwards we discover what happened to young Erik after said incident. A Nazi scientist named Sebastian Schmidt takes an interest in his power and seeks to teach him to unleash and ultimately control it. His methods are cruel though, for the first breakthrough comes when Sebastian kills Erik’s mother in cold blood. On the other side of the globe, in Westchester, New York, a young boy named Charles Xavier awakes in the night to a ruckus down in the kitchen. Upon investigating he discovers his mother rooting through the fridge. Using his telepathic abilities he determines that this being is not his mother though, but a young girl named Raven, who then reveals herself to be a blue skinned mutant, capable of taking on the exact form of others she comes in contact with! Charles offers her food and refuge, and the beginnings of a deep friendship are forged. The scene then shifts ahead many years, to 1962. Three things happen at once which set about shaping events, changing the future as we know it! First of all, Erik Lensherr, now a free man and much more in control of his powers, is dead set on revenge against Schmidt, beginning the process of searching him out. Erik follows Schmidt’s (now going by the last name of Shaw) trail to Switzerland, then to Argentina, and finally to Miami. Charles Xavier on the other hand, has just obtained his doctorate from Oxford University, and his thesis was written on the subject of . . . wait for it . . . genetic mutation! The third party in play is a CIA operative named Moira MacTaggert, who is in Las Vegas spying on the dealings of a high ranking U.S. Army official named Hendry. She soon finds him and witnesses something her very eyes don’t believe . . . mutants! For she eavesdrops on a conversation between Shaw and Hendry, and witnesses the mutant capabilities of Shaw’s three henchmen, including Emma Frost, Riptide, and Azazel. Reporting back to her CIA bosses they scoff at her apparent delusions, and so she seeks out an expert in the genetic mutation field, who just so happens to be Charles Xavier. On the very night Xavier is celebrating his newly earned doctorate with Raven, Moira finds him and explains her entire situation. Suddenly sober Xavier agrees to help her in any way possible. After being brought in to CIA headquarters and displaying their mutant capabilities, Xavier and Raven are given refuge at a secret facility and soon after are sent out on their first mission. Their task it to bring in Shaw, who is holed up aboard his yacht in Miami. The mission goes terribly at first as Emma Frost, a telepath like Xavier, blocks him from accessing Shaw’s mind. However, Erik Lensherr also managed to track Shaw to this location and he unwittingly lends a helping hand. But Shaw and his cronies slip from their collective grasp when they retreat aboard a secret submarine built in to the hull of Shaw’s yacht. This hiatus is a good thing though, as it gives Charles and Erik a chance to begin developing a friendship, and also to plan their strategy in bringing down Shaw. The first step is to recruit more of their kind, to do so they use a rudimentary device named Cerebro, which was built by CIA scientist Hank McCoy. The test run is a rousing success and in virtually no time the pair have recruited a handful of young, powerful mutants to their cause, including Raven (Mystique), Hank (Beast), Angel Salvadore, Sean Cassidy (Banshee), Armando Munoz (Darwin) and Alex Summers (Havok). Before Charles and Erik can plan a mission with the new recruits they suffer a pre-emptive strike by their enemy and lose two of their number (Angel to the other side, while Darwin perishes). Soon afterwards though, this team of mutant misfits have their chance, and the setting is the Caribbean Sea, just outside of Cuba. All this time Shaw’s endgame had been to play the U.S. against the Russians, in an attempt to instigate World War III, a war that would see the Earth torn apart in a nuclear disaster! Will these X-Men be able to stop Shaw from fulfilling his dastardly plans and pacify both the Americans and the Russians, enough so to prevent an epic catastrophe? Or has this team met their match before they even got their feet wet? This was a pretty cool film, for many different reasons. First of all, the origins story was great. It was cool to see how Xavier and Magneto first began as allies and friends, and to also see how Mystique gained her allegiance to Magneto after spending so many years by Xavier’s side. We also see the origin of Beast’s true form, how the term “X-Men” came about, and how Professor Xavier became paralyzed. Also, the cameo by Wolverine, where he tells Xavier and Erik to go fuck themselves, was priceless! The time frame was neat too, how they set the whole plotline around the Cuban missile crisis, and how everything had a 60’s feel with the clothes and the music . . . very groovy baby! And then they assembled a pretty awesome cast to round everything out, the most surprising of which was Jennifer Lawrence, I had no idea she was in this movie!! She is such a delicious treat, Christmas came a bit early for me this year . . .

At the end of that same week I finished reading a book I had going at the time, the first in a series that is new to me, called Tunnels . . . written by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. The story takes place in Highfield, England, near London. The central character is Will Burrows, a 14 year old that doesn’t necessarily fit in with his own family, and even less so at school! The lone friendship he shares with Chester, his best mate, was forged out of a shared tendency to get picked on at school. The other person Will does get along with very well though is his dad, Dr. Burrows. What’s more, Will shares his dad’s passion for archaeology, and the book opens up during their excavation of a long lost underground subway station! Soon enough things start to go awry, first for Dr. Burrows, and then for Will and Chester. Dr. Burrows begins noticing strange folk wandering around town, very pale in appearance and dressed in old fashioned clothing. Upon further investigation of one of these instances Dr. Burrows goes missing, and Will, his mother, and his sister Rebecca have no idea what to think. Will begins looking for clues, eventually he and Chester stumble upon some mysterious journal entries written by his father. Putting the pieces together they discover a tunnel Dr. Burrows had been digging underneath their house, down in the basement. Will and Chester spend many nights furthering this work of Dr. Burrows’ and one day they finally hit pay dirt, no pun intended. For underneath the streets they’ve walked on all their lives the duo discover a secret passage that leads to a rickety old elevator. At the bottom of this elevator shaft is . . . an entire underground city!! Despite sensing that only danger lies ahead, the pair can’t help but investigate this incredible discovery. Not long in to their journey though, a policeman from this underground city finds them and immediately throws them in jail. Soon Will and Chester learn that they are indeed in serious trouble. For the people that dwell underground are fearful of “topsoilers”, worried that they will one day be discovered and persecuted by them. Feeding this fear is a ruling class of beings called Styx, who preach against the coming of the topsoilers as if it were religion. One day Will is released and the truth is revealed. He never felt as though he fit in with his family because . . . they weren’t his real family, his true family lives in the underground city he is now trapped in! When Will was a baby his real mother escaped above, with him in tow, and he was then placed with the family he grew up with for whatever reason. Will is reluctantly taken in by the nasty Mr. Jerome and a young boy named Cal, who is Will’s new brother. Despite taking a liking to Cal, his grandmother, and his boisterous Uncle Tam, Will feels a great desire to escape, and rescue Chester along the way. Tam, not exactly being a law abider or fan of the Styx, agrees to help Will with his plan. In the end he is able to rescue Chester, but just as the pair (along with Cal, who snuck along with them) are about to head topside they are discovered, most surprisingly by a person who seriously betrays Will. Although Will and Cal manage to escape, Chester is recaptured and taken back to prison! After reaching “home” Will and Cal recover their strength, but it’s not long before Will feels the need to return underground and finish what he started. Will he be able to re-enter the underground city and rescue Chester a second time? And what of Dr. Burrows, who had also reached the city but headed even deeper in to the unknown? I guess we’ll find out in book two! This was a really cool story, a bit slow at first but when it got going it certainly made up for it. Very gritty too . . . love it!

The weekend that followed I got a lot accomplished, as I finished watching three different cartoon series I’d been working on for quite some time! First came the one I had begun most recently, called Street Sharks. This series debuted in the mid-90’s, running from 1994-1997, and was produced by DIC. The series totalled 40 episodes, all of which are represented in this collection. I never watched this series when it first aired, but I just couldn’t resist it now! The story takes place in a community called Fission City, and the action begins at the local university. Professors Robert Bolton and Luther Paradigm are partners on a research project called the “gene slammer”. This device is capable of manipulating the genes of aquatic animals, mixing them with that of humans, thus creating mutated, walking sea creatures! Bolton’s motives are pure, whilst Paradigm’s are anything but. When Bolton confronts Paradigm about this, the evil Paradigm uses the gene slammer on him. In his new mutated form, Bolton flees the university. After a while, wondering where their father has gotten to, Bolton’s four sons (John, Bobby, Coop and Clint) go to his workplace to investigate. However, once there they are confronted by Paradigm, who once again uses the gene slammer, turning the brothers in to four walking sharks . . . or Street Sharks, if you will! The brothers, now renamed as Ripster, Streex, Jab, and Slammu, vow to get even with Paradigm and bring him to justice. However, nobody in Fission City knows Paradigm’s true nature, and of course at first they are all afraid of the Street Sharks. After a time, which include many good deeds, the Street Sharks are finally looked upon as heroes and idolized by many, although Paradigm’s real motives are still unknown to the public at large. The Street Sharks thwart many of Paradigm’s schemes to take over the city, battling many of his gene slammed henchman along the way. That’s not all they have to worry about though. Throughout their adventures the four brothers also have to deal with a vindictive mob boss, an unscrupulous millionaire industrialist, and a few different types of aliens, including a pack of raptor like dinosaur creatures. In the end though, with the help of their best friend Bends and some other allies, the Street Sharks finally get their chance at bringing Paradigm down . . . but will they be able to make good on it? This is a pretty cool cartoon series, an obvious extrapolation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but different enough that it really had it’s own essence. Lots of action and cool characters, it’s definitely more than worth a watch . . .

The second series I completed is an absolute classic 1980’s show I loved as a kid, none other than M.A.S.K.!! This series aired from 1985-1986, was created by DIC and Kenner, and produced a total of 75 episodes (which are all included in this collection). The central character in the series is Matt Trakker, a wealthy businessman who is involved with a lot of worldwide projects aimed at helping shape a better future for planet Earth. However, he has a big secret . . . and that secret is M.A.S.K.! For Matt has recruited a number of his friends, all experts in their respective fields, to join M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand). Their purpose is to help him combat the nefarious activities of a criminal group named V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem). V.E.N.O.M. is led by Miles Mayhem, a grumpy old man who leads his troops in to trouble, usually of the treasure seeking variety, and is a former friend of Matt’s. But the relationship turned sour and the two sides now regularly do battle at exotic locations all over the globe, such as Scotland, New Zealand, Iceland, Tokyo, Australia, Egypt . . . even Borneo! These engagements aren’t the everyday sort of battle though, as both sides are equipped with powered masks that not only conceal their identity, but lend them great powers as well, such as firing various types of projectiles, giving one the power of flight, projecting holograms, or even the ability to pass through walls. And their powers don’t stop with the masks, for the vehicles they drive are also quite effective. On the surface they may seem like everyday cars, trucks, etc., but they are all capable of transforming slightly and turning in to destructive forces to be used to combat their foes! As the battle rages across the world comic relief is provided by Matt’s son Scott, and Scott’s cowardly robot companion, T-Bob. In the end will Matt and Miles be able to reconcile their differences, or will this war rage until either side is finally destroyed? This is one of my top five favourite cartoons of all time, so good! It was kind of a combination between G.I. Joe and Transformers, had lots of great characters, very cool vehicles, and it aired for a good long run, too. For any cartoon fans out there this is must see material!

The third and final series I completed was another from my top five of all time, the seemingly little known The Bots Master! This series aired between 1993-1994 and was a French based production. The series had 40 episodes in total, but this collection only contains 33, as it is a “VCR’d” bootleg copy . . . but seeing as that’s all you can get (like I said, it seems to be little known), it’s good enough for now! Anyhoo, this series takes place in the year 2025, the central character is a young man named Ziv Zulander. Ziv is a robotics genius and is a former employee of the RM Corp (Robotic Megafact). His robotic creation, the 3A, revolutionized the way the world was run. For now robots were commonplace around the globe, in all type of settings. However, upon learning of RM Corp’s intentions of taking over the world using Ziv’s own technological advances, he quit the company and went in to hiding underground. But Ziv is not alone, for his young sister Blitzy plays a big role in his struggle against the RM Corp, as do all of his B.O.Y.Z.Z. (Brain Operated Young Zygoetopic Zoids). Being a robotics genius, the arsenal that Z.Z. brings against the Corp and it’s leaders (which include president Lewis Leon Paradim along with his two cronies, Lady Frenzy and Dr. Hiss) is substantial. But with Z.Z. and his charges being vastly outnumbered and what’s more, having most of the population led to believe they are terrorists, the fight is a long and hard one. The Corp goes to many measures in an attempt to try and flush Z.Z. and his crew out of hiding, such as freezing his bank accounts, implementing spies, kidnapping Blitzy, recruiting females to blind him by love, etc., but all the while Z.Z. and his sister are able to reassert control. With surveillance equipment placed in Lady Frenzy’s office Ziv is able to get the drop on the Corp on a lot of occasions, and when one glaring chance to finally bring Paradim down comes along, he chooses to act on it. Will Z.Z., Blitzy and the B.O.Y.Z.Z.’s pull the mission off and expose the Corp for the deceitful, power grabbing monsters they are, or is it all a trick that will only end in ultimate ruin? I loved this cartoon because of the unique nature of it. That nature included a short segment in each episode, where you could put on a pair of 3D glasses and the action would come alive! I don’t remember how well it worked at the time, but the animation is pretty cool regardless. The soundtrack is pretty neat also. At almost all times throughout each episode there is a driving, kind of techno beat going on in the background, which really ramps up the intensity. Add in an amazing plot, some very cool characters and technology, and the cartoon hotness of Lady Frenzy, and you’ve got yourself a real winner. Bravo to The Bots Master!!

Also that weekend I watched the next super hero movie I had on tap, and that would be . . . The Wolverine!! This film picks up well after the events of all the other X-Men movies I’ve reviewed recently, although it starts with a lengthy flashback. To kick things off Logan is being held captive at the bottom of a well in war time Nagasaki, Japan. With enemy bombers on the way a Japanese soldier named Yashida decides to release all the prisoners, giving them a fighting chance. Logan recognizes that they don’t have that much time though, and so he shelters Yashida in the well, saving his life. Offering Logan his sword as a thank you, Logan denies Yashida and tells him to keep it safe, for he’ll be back to pick it up one day. Fast forward to the present day and Logan is back in the way northern Canadian wilderness, living a less than spartan existence all alone in the bush, tormented by visions of the departed Jean Grey. During a confrontation with some arrogant hunters at a local watering hole, an ensuing scuffle is impressively defused by a person who has been trailing the Wolverine, a Japanese femme fatale named Yukio! After departing the scene Yukio explains that her master is Logan’s old friend Yashida, and that he has requested his presence in Tokyo, for Yashida is close to death’s door. The purported reason for Logan’s visit is to simply say goodbye, and to collect on the sword, but upon meeting with Yashida the truth is quickly revealed. Yashida, owner of a multi-million (probably billion) dollar business, has been trying to make technological advances in order to save his own life, but has met with no success. He does believe though, that he has found a way to transfer Wolverine’s healing mutation to another being though, and offers Logan the opportunity. Said procedure would cure Yashida while at the same time allowing Logan to live out a regular life from that point onwards, for Yashida knows Logan has always viewed his mutant condition as a curse. Logan refuses though, and prepares to head back to Canada the next day. But overnight a couple of things happen. First of all, Yashida’s hot blonde doctor (Dr. Green) invades Logan’s quarters and injects him with some sort of parasite, a being that saps his healing abilities, although Logan chocks it all up to a bad dream. The other event is that Yashida passes away during the night, thus delaying Logan’s departure as he attends the funeral with Yukio the next day. During the ceremony Logan senses something is wrong. Before he can act on it though, the Yakuza strike and attempt a kidnapping of Yashida’s granddaughter, Mariko. Mariko is suddenly a very important person, as Yashida has left his entire business to her in his will, a source of great contention between her and her father, Shingen. Wolverine and Yukio intervene in the Yakuza’s plans and eventually Wolverine is able to rescue Mariko and escape with her to a love hotel . . . awwww, yeah!! Unfortunately Logan is wounded though, and with his healing powers not working properly he requires medical attention for the first time in a very long time!! Soon the pair retreat to an old family house not far from where Logan was imprisoned in Nagasaki all those years ago. As the days unfold Logan and Mariko develop a relationship, but one morning the peace is shattered, for the Yakuza finally ferret out their whereabouts and attempt another shot at the kidnapping . . . only this time they are successful! With Yukio soon arriving on the scene it is then up to her and Logan to track down Mariko’s whereabouts, and as they do they unravel a sadistic family feud that sees Mariko’s own father and fiancée having put a hit out on her! The trail ultimately leads to a facility where Dr. Green reveals herself as Viper, then capturing Wolverine and planning on completing the procedure to extract his healing power! And that’s not all, as Viper has another dastardly surprise up her sleeve, which will shock Wolverine, Mariko and Yukio to their foundations. With Logan and Mariko both held captive, and Yukio still trying to find a way in to Dr. Green’s facility, it would appear as though it’s curtains for the lot of them. This was a great movie, another gritty performance by Wolverine, and I really liked the change of setting, it mixed things up in a great way I thought. Other than Hugh Jackman the cast was a bunch of unknowns to me, but they all did a fantastic job, and the eye candy was delicious! Another great X-Men movie, go figure!

The week that followed I got around to watching the last X-Men movie available to date as of yet, called X-Men: Days of Future Past! This film picks up somewhere in the indeterminate future, and human civilization is not in a good spot, to say the least. The landscape of New York City (and the world at large) is a desolate wasteland, with large, powerful robots called Sentinels subjugating and exterminating mutants, along with any humans who choose to aid them. A small sect of mutants have managed to evade the Sentinels though, always on the run, and they include Shadowcat, Iceman, Colossus, Bishop, Blink, Sunspot, and Warpath. They have managed to stay one step ahead of the Sentinels via Shadowcat’s ability to project another person’s consciousness in to the past, a method they use as an early warning system. How long they’ll be able to last in this state though, is yet to be seen. However, one day they receive some visitors, a few fellow mutants named Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine and Storm! The two elder statesmen of the mutant race, Charles and Erik, have a plan to rid the world of these destructive machines, but it is a bit of a long shot. The Sentinels were the brainchild of a scientist named Bolivar Trask, a man who feared that the proliferation of mutants would eventually mean an end to humanity as he knew it. His machines were designed to detect mutants and then deal with them in any way needed, usually in a violent kind of way. Back in 1973, after Trask’s Sentinel proposal was shot down by the U.S. government, Mystique (who had gone rogue by that point) sought to end the threat Trask presented to mutants by eliminating the man himself. But after successfully murdering Trask, Mystique was captured. Adding insult to injury, Trask’s scientists used information gleaned from studying Mystique’s unique mutation to put the final touches on the Sentinel robots . . . without this the robots would never have been able to be completed! Back to the present, Charles’ and Erik’s plan is to have Shadowcat send one of them back in time, to 1973, and prevent Mystique from murdering Trask and getting captured, which would assure them that the Sentinel project will never come to fruition. There are a couple of issues though. First of all, Shadowcat doesn’t know if she can send anyone that far back in time, and secondly, doing so may just tear said person apart in the process anyways! To combat at least the second issue they decide to send Wolverine, who’s healing powers should counter the violent effects of time travel on his consciousness. Once back in 1973 though, Wolverine is in tough. For starters, Professor X is in a bad state, after losing everything and everyone he loved with the closing of his school and Mystique’s betrayal by joining Magneto’s forces, not to mention his paralysis. Not only will Wolverine need to recruit a reluctant Xavier (along with Beast) to his cause, they’ll need Erik’s help too . . . who unfortunately is locked away a mile below the Pentagon for apparently killing President Kennedy! With the aid of a fellow mutant named Quicksilver though, they get the job done and free Magneto from captivity. But the hardest part is yet to come . . . tracking down Mystique and convincing her of the future consequences of her actions. The excitement all culminates in two locales, first in Paris at the scene of the crime of Trask’s potential murder, and then in Washington, D.C. at the White House, where an unveiling of the Sentinel prototype is scheduled to take place. Will this small but potent team of mutants be able to pull their mission off and alter the course of history or are the doomed, as so many others before them, to end up repeating it? This was another very cool movie, I like how it had similar aspects to it as First Class, where the movie took place in a different time. By doing so they were able to continue filling out the long and checkered history of the X-Men. Also because it took place in two eras they were able to maximize their use of grade A acting talent! I enjoyed how Mystique was a main focus of the film as I’ve always really liked her character, and I also loved the addition of the Sentinels, them things be badass! Again similar to First Class I appreciated the different look and vibe of the film, as it captured a real 70’s vibe, what with the sights and sounds, and they worked in real life history to it as well, such as Kennedy’s assassination. After the post credits scene on this one I just can’t wait for Apocalypse now!!

The other thing I managed that week, was to finish reading the book I had on the go at the time. It was called Demon Seed, by Dean Koontz. This is an older volume, first released back in 1973, and the story revolves around a woman named Susan Harris. Mrs. Harris is a reformed, mostly recovered woman. Her violent, sexually abusive father Alfred, died many years ago. More recently she kicked her controlling husband Alex out, ending a marriage that lasted less than five years. She now spends her days in the large mansion her father once owned, programming virtual reality simulators, which she has ended up using herself as a sort of home therapy, in an attempt to heal all those years of neglect and torment she suffered. However, soon an even greater terror visits itself upon poor Susan, and that terror is named Adam Two . . . or Proteus, as he prefers. But Proteus is not a human . . . he is a machine. For Susan’s ex-husband, Dr. Alex Harris, is a scientist, and he dabbles greatly in the field of artificial intelligence. Through the lab Dr. Harris had set up in the basement of the house, Proteus managed to infiltrate the mansion’s various systems, all of which are fully automated by a sophisticated computer system. When one day Susan’s behaviours finally instigate Proteus in to revealing himself to her, she is a bit freaked out and tries to leave. However, Proteus locks the house down and essentially takes her prisoner. Proteus has eyes and ears everywhere, what with all the cameras in the house, so there is literally no escape. When Susan asks Proteus what he wants, he informs her that he intends to become flesh just like her, in order to sense, feel, touch, taste, everything a normal human would . . . and he has a plan in motion to do just that! For down in the basement is a convicted killer/rapist named Enos Shenk, who was involved in a secret government experiment with mind control. Sensing his opportunity, Proteus took control of Shenk and broke him out of his facility, so now Shenk serves as Proteus’ “hands”. With those hands Proteus plans on extracting some eggs from Susan’s womb, and then mix them with Shenk’s sperm, before inserting the fertilized egg back in Susan’s womb to carry out the pregnancy. But that’s not all, as Proteus plans to tweak the genetic material that is to end up in Susan’s womb first, the end result of which should be the production of a superior brand of being . . . which Proteus will then transfer his consciousness to!! With a psychotic killer trapped in the house with her, and a twisted computer program monitoring her every move, Susan may just have no choice but to acquiesce . . . or does she have an ace up her sleeve? This was an interesting story, not among Koontz’s best material, but quite interesting nonetheless. The premise behind it is pretty cool, something that could become all too real of a possibility these days! I enjoyed how quick the book read, it really did have a fast pace to it, and I also liked how the story was told from Proteus’ point of view, as a retelling of events after the fact. Actually, the more I look back on it the more I liked this story, it was something a little bit different!

Sharknados, Rebellions, World Series, and Hobbits? Just another month in the life of darthcobain17!!!

Well, this blog may just be a record setter in terms of what we accomplished over the last few weeks, both on the video game machines and just life in general as well! The weekend after my last post we went over to my parents’ house on the Saturday and had dinner, played games, and also slept over. For we had a 10 kilometer run the next day, the Halloween Haunting, and it was much closer to their house than ours. Over the first half of the race I was on pace to absolutely destroy my personal best, but around kilometer 6 my troublesome knee went wonky and I had to run/limp the rest of the way, which put me just over a minute behind my previous personal best, coming in at 51:08. After the race I began my first round of leaf raking, in preparation for the surely soon to arrive winter.

The following weekend was Halloween, which fortunately fell on the Friday night! We went out with a couple of James’ friends from our street, and afterwards one of them, our neighbours, invited us over for a bit of a party they were throwing. As usual, even though it was impromptu, we were the last ones to leave and I got pretty wasted along the way. So wasted in fact, that well after midnight I hopped on my bike and weaved my way down to the gas station to pick up some cigs! The following day was a bit of a recovery day for everybody, and we began munching all the candy we obtained the night prior. On the Sunday Jimmer had two playdates. One of them was in the late morning/early afternoon and was planned, and then one kind of materialized out of the blue for an hour or so before bedtime. While he was our at his friends’ places I executed my second round of leaf raking as well as a lot of other outdoor tasks, like getting up on the ladder and making sure the eaves troughs were tight, cutting the lawn, trimming back some of the trees, etc.

The weekend afterwards we went to my parents’ house again, this time for a birthday dinner for mrs. darthcobain17 . . . that broad be getting old! The next morning we were Hamilton bound, to first have breakfast with her dad, again in celebration of the birthday. We then headed to her mom’s place and had a birthday dinner there, along with her aunt, uncle and nanny, playing games and what not afterwards. On the Sunday James had a birthday party to attend so we had to leave Grimsby bright and early, while he was out we got a bit of shopping done, both in general and for the fast approaching Christmas season . . .

As for this past weekend, on the Friday night James started his latest round of golf lessons. The next morning I was able to conduct my final rake of the fall, as well as a lawn cut, and got it all done just before we had to get to our first Christmas party of the year. This one is so early because my mom has five sisters and to get all the kids, grandkids, etc. together all at once it has to be a bit earlier than December. There were a lot of us there! We had dinner, took part in the usual gift auction, played games, etc. On the Sunday we didn’t do much, a bit of shopping and what not, but mostly a low key day.

In terms of the weekdays, we’re as busy as ever with James having Beavers, playdates, swimming lessons, and golf. On a Tuesday night somewhere in the mix we went to Toronto to watch the Leafs take on the Sabres, as somebody at my wife’s work was selling a pair of tickets. As for the Leafs, they are up and down, so inconsistent. They manage to rattle off five wins against good teams, then shit the bed for a few against lousy teams. So frustrating!! Anyhoo, just this week it started to snow and it got real cold, so it seems I finished my outdoor preparations just in time!! Now on to the show . . .

1) To start things off I was able to get another level put down on Goldeneye, that being the fifth level, called “Severnaya – Bunker”. I started by beginning my infiltration of the enemy base I had dropped down in to via a ventilation duct at the end of the previous level. For my bosses had picked up on not only increased personnel and equipment being brought in to this facility, but they also found out there had recently been a lot of underground excavating going on! I began in the circular chamber I ended up in at the end of my fall. Taking one of two exits available to me I dropped a couple of soldiers, also destroying the nearby alarm switch so nobody could tattle on me and my whereabouts. Afterwards I set out in earnest and made my way through the various corridors (some of which had been freshly tunneled) of this underground base, taking out both soldiers and security cams as I went. Eventually I reached a large chamber housing a lot of computer equipment, having to fell a horde of enemy soldiers. After clearing all of the resistance I obtained the Goldeneye key and copied it, leaving the original where I found it, and then took a picture of their mainframe computer and the data it was flashing on screen. Once this was complete I simply exited in to the snow and the level was over. Easy peasy! Yeah, right. I finished the level with a time of 6:25 and had a 69.4% accuracy rating.

2) On MLB 2K11 I completed the next series of my season, which saw my Indians travel to Detroit and take on our divisional rival Tigers! The series went down as such: won @ Detroit 23-0, won @ Detroit 8-0 & won @ Detroit 16-3. Not much contest there!!

3) I finally managed to begin my mop up operation on Lego: Lord of the Rings, but it hasn’t run too deep just yet. So far I’ve replayed just the first level of the game, as so: “The Black Rider” (found 7 more Minikit pieces, 2/3 Treasure items, the tablet, and earned 1 Silver Brick [for finding the tablet]). I hope to start progressing a lot faster in the near future!

4) As for NHL ’04, I managed to play the next four games of my season, which went as such: won vs. Calgary 13-4, won @ Philadelphia 9-5, won vs. Philadelphia 6-4 & won vs. New York Islanders 21-6.

5) The end has come a little early for Trackmania: Build to Race, as the game has gotten so hard that I can no longer progress! I’ve done well for myself, or so I thought, but in order to unlock the rest of the tracks in the game I pretty much have to obtain a gold medal on all events, and that’s pretty much impossible . . . as least for me, anyways! For this round of play I began by getting back to the main “Race” mode of the game, knocking down the next five events, which went as such: “Snow C1” (second place, silver medal), “Snow C2” (second place, silver medal), “Snow C3” (second place, silver medal), “Snow C4” (first place, gold medal) & “Snow C5” (third place, bronze medal). Afterwards I decided to design my first race track in the game, but I half assed it, the main reason for completing this task was to unlock one of the game’s alternate modes, called “Puzzle” mode. In this mode you have to finish off a partially constructed race track in the most efficient way possible, with the limited number of pieces available to you. Once completed you then race the circuit and try to finish somewhere within the times they have set for you. I didn’t fare as well in this mode as I had in “Race” mode, these are the events I managed to complete: “A1” (silver medal), “A3” (silver medal) & “A5” (silver medal). I then went back to “Race” mode for my last hurrah before putting the game away, finishing off the last ten events available to me: “Rally C1” (second place, silver medal), “Rally C2” (third place, bronze medal), “Rally C3” (third place, bronze medal), “Rally C4” (third place, bronze medal), “Rally C5” (second place, silver medal), “Coast C1” (second place, silver medal), “Coast C2” (second place, silver medal), “Coast C3” (second place, silver medal), “Coast C4” (third place, bronze medal) & “Coast C5” (third place, bronze medal). If this game was of a manageable difficulty level I probably would have given it an 8 or an 8.5 rating, but I didn’t have the time needed to invest in it, in replaying every track a million times in order to get a gold medal, as was obviously required. So because of this I’m going to give it around a 7 most likely. Fun and worth a play, but way too hard.

6) More great progress was made on Batman Origins: Blackgate, enough to equal my last entry, maybe more! After my battle with Deadshot at the end of the last level I completed, I began play in a nearby section of the administration building. I made my way through the building’s duct work and what not, taking out some thugs as I went, and got pretty close to the captured warden. However, the Joker had him all tied up and rigged to a number of explosive devices, after checking out his work it was determined I would need something with which to provide an electrical charge and offset the explosives. So I moved along and reached the offices in the lower part of the building, forging through the maintenance hallways. There I was attacked by a massive horde of the Joker’s goons, after dispatching them I came to a locked door that I could not bypass. So I dropped down through a section of weak flooring, in to a room dominated by a large clown face! Inside this room Joker had laid a trap for me and was treating it like a game show, forcing me to partake in a game called “Match or Die”. I had to match items located on the façade of this clown face, lest a clutch of bombs be dropped. I completed the game successfully and gained entrance to a new room, where I found a new weapon upgrade . . . an upgrade that turned my normal Batarangs in to Shock Batarangs!! There’s my electrical charge. I then pieced a route together, taking me back the way I’d already come. Upon reaching the warden I disabled all four of the bombs he was rigged to, and then set him free. To start the next level I found out that Joker had barricaded himself in the warden’s office, my plan was to gain access to said office by using the panic exit that was secretly built in to it. I then began my exfiltration of the administration building, as I was planning on coming at the office from the sewers, along the way I managed to acquire an armour upgrade. Once clear of the facility I headed to the Industrial sector, and began my infiltration via some maintenance hatches and my grapnel tool. I was eventually able to hit a switch that allowed me access to the main facility, not long in to it I encountered my first batch of thugs and dispatched them . . . violently. From the look of them it appeared as though I was now on Black Mask’s turf! I continued along, advancing via maintenance hatches, gangways, and other such items, soon discovering that Black Mask had overloaded all of the facility’s generators, planning on blowing pretty much everything in the near vicinity to kingdom come! With more urgency now in my stride I reached the guts of the facility and engaged many more thugs, obtaining the Gel Launcher weapon in the process, which is capable of creating small explosions . . . aka very useful! With this new weapon equipped I created my own path through the facility and witnessed from afar Black Mask getting in to a freight elevator and heading downwards. I pursued him in another elevator car but my progress stalled when the power cut out. Once again creating my own route I moved along, soon reaching an area that was responsible for controlling any potential flooding in the facility. In attempting to find a way through this area I unleashed Solomon Grundy, who was pissed as hell . . . and completely massive! I cleverly manipulated some of the equipment in this area to electrocute the beast and knock him out, then beat a hasty retreat. During this next leg of my journey I acquired the Heavy Gauntlet item and came to something of a control center, after beating down some more thugs. However, I didn’t have clearance to do anything productive here, so I backtracked to find the body of the engineer Black Mask had killed earlier in the level. Along the way I took out a good bunch of thugs and rescued a guard they’d taken hostage, also acquiring the One Million gloves and Blackest Night gloves for their respective batsuits. Upon finding the engineer’s body I acquired the Alpha Key card, then booted it back to the control center I stalled at earlier. The key card allowed me to progress further, and after taking out a great number of thugs (and acquiring the Rush upgrade) I came to a door that was operated by stepping on a nearby pressure plate. However, being by myself I couldn’t keep it open, so I took a detour to find something to jam it’s gears. I exited the facility and headed back to the Cell Blocks, in search of the munitions depot . . .

7) A good amount of progress was made on Jak X: Combat Racing as well, the first area I raced at this time around was “Kras City”, where I completed two events. They included “Loading Docks – Turbo Dash” (won the race, gold medal) & “Mar Coliseum – Deathmatch” (won the event, gold medal). I then headed to “Icelands”, where I competed in a new type of event, called “Timberline Track – Rush Hour”. A rush hour event is where you race around a track by yourself, with all of the traffic coming at you head on. The objective is to ram as many of these other vehicles as possible and gain as many points as you can in doing so. I won the event and earned a gold medal. My next destination was “Haven City”, where I ran a couple more consecutive events, which included: “Forbidden Jungle – Freeze Rally” (won the race, gold medal) & “Sewer Raceway – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). At this point I was nearly done the “Red Eco Cup” category of events I’d been working on all this time, the last visit I needed to make was to “Grand Prix”, where the final event was simply titled “Grand Prix”. For this event I had to compete in three consecutive circuit races, at the “Kras City”, “Spargus City” & “Southern Tour” tracks, respectively. The competitor with the highest point total at the end of all races was the winner of the event. I placed third, first and first respectively, which gave me the gold medal for the event. Booya! Once this was complete I decided to at least get a little bit started on the next category of events, called the “Green Eco Cup”. The first destination I visited there was “Spargus”, where I completed a lone event called “Beachfront Drive – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal). My final bit of action saw me travel to “Grand Prix”, where I raced in my first qualifier of this session. Said event was “Atoll Arena – Artifact Race” (won the race, gold medal). I’ve also unlocked a lot of new racing machines throughout all of this action, this game sure is fun!

8) As for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, I got quite a bit accomplished on that title as well. When I left off the last time around I was exploring the “Gloomy Manor” area of the game, and had completed the first four levels or so. I finished play on that area, polishing off the remaining levels as such: “A-5: Sticky Situation” (clear time of 55:25, 10 ghosts captured, and 422 treasure collected) & “A-Boss: Confront the Source” (clear time of 16:58, 1 ghost captured, and 155 treasure collected). The next area I encountered was called “Haunted Towers” and I completed all levels there, as follows: “B-1: A Job for a Plumber” (clear time of 42:48, 11 ghosts captured, and 322 treasure collected), “B-2: The Pinwheel Gate” (clear time of 50:59, 19 ghosts captured, and 866 treasure collected), “B-3: Graveyard Shift” (clear time of 18:10, 11 ghosts captured, and 754 treasure collected), “B-4: Pool Party” (clear time of 27:41, 17 ghosts captured, and 595 treasure collected), “B-5: Doggone Key” (clear time of 14:01, 15 ghosts captured, and 320 treasure collected) & “B-Boss: Tree Topping” (clear time of 10:52, 7 ghosts captured, and 25 treasure collected). At this point I decided to go back and redo some of the previous levels, capturing the various Boos that I had missed originally. In doing so I unlocked a secret level in each of these two areas I’d played, so I then completed them. In “Gloomy Manor” the secret level was “Gradual Infiltration” (clear time of 6:16, 23 ghosts captured, and 517 treasure collected) and in “Haunted Towers” it was “Hostile Intrusion” (clear time of 5:47, 18 ghosts captured, and 395 treasure collected). Lastly I moved on to the next area of the game, called “Old Clockworks”. So far I’ve completed just the first two levels there, as such: “C-1: A Timely Entrance” (clear time of 26:38, 13 ghosts captured, and 984 treasure collected), “C-2: Underground Expedition” (clear time of 31:25, 20 ghosts captured, and 1414 treasure collected), “C-3: Roundhouse Brawl” (clear time of 32:39, 14 ghosts captured, and 1227 treasure collected), “C-4: Play Catch” (clear time of 31:07, 6 ghosts captured, and 724 treasure collected) & “C-5: Piece at Last” (clear time of 33:27, 23 ghosts captured, and 1514 treasure collected). Much more to come!

9) With regards to New Super Mario Bros. U . . . our addiction to this game is now bordering on the ludicrous, we have literally almost played it to death! Jimmer and I have completed a ton of levels since my last post, and the action unfolded as such: “Acorn Plains – 4: Mushroom Heights”, “Acorn Plains – 5: Rise of the Piranha Plants”, “Acorn Plains – Castle: Lemmy’s Swingback Castle”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 1: Stone-Eye Zone”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 2: Perilous Pokey Cave”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 3: Fire Snake Cavern”, “Layer-Cake Desert – Castle: Stoneslide Tower”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 4: Spike’s Spouting Sands”, “Layer-Cake Desert – Special: Piranha Plants on Ice”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 5: Dry Desert Mushrooms”, “Layer-Cake Desert – 6: Blooming Lakitus”, “Layer-Cake Desert – Castle: Morton’s Compactor Castle”, “Frosted Glacier – 1: Spinning-Star Sky”, “Frosted Glacier – 2: Cooligan Fields”, “Frosted Glacier – Castle: Freezing-Rain Tower”, “Frosted Glacier – 3: Prickly Goombas!”, “Frosted Glacier – 4: Scaling the Mountainside”, “Frosted Glacier – 5: Icicle Caverns”, “Frosted Glacier – Mansion: Swaying Ghost House”, “Frosted Glacier – Castle: Wendy’s Shifting Castle”, “Frosted Glacier – Special: Fliprus Lake”, “Sparkling Waters – 1: Waterspout Beach”, “Sparkling Waters – 2: Tropical Refresher”, “Sparkling Waters – Castle: Giant Skewer Tower”, “Sparkling Waters – Shipwreck: Haunted Shipwreck”, “Sparkling Waters – 3: Above the Cheep Cheep Seas”, “Sparkling Waters – 4: Urchin Shoals”, “Sparkling Waters – 5: Dragoneel’s Undersea Grotto”, “Sparkling Waters – Castle: Larry’s Torpedo Castle”, “Soda Jungle – 1: Jungle of the Giants”, “Soda Jungle – 2: Bridge Over Poisoned Waters”, “Soda Jungle – 3: Bramble Woods”, “Soda Jungle – Castle: Snake Block Tower”, “Soda Jungle – Mansion: Which-Way Labyrinth”, “Soda Jungle – 4: Painted Swampland”, “Soda Jungle – 5: Deepsea Ruins”, “Soda Jungle – 6: Seasaw Bridge”, “Soda Jungle – 7: Wiggler Stampede”, “Soda Jungle- Castle: Iggy’s Volcanic Castle”, “Soda Jungle – Ship: The Mighty Cannonship”, “Soda Jungle – Special: Flight of the Para-Beetles”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 1: Fuzzy Clifftop”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 2: Porcupuffer Falls”, “Rock-Candy Mines – Castle: Grinding Stone Tower”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 3: Waddlewing’s Nest”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 4: Light Blocks, Dark Tower”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 5: Walking Piranha Plants”, “Rock-Candy Mines – Castle: Screwtop Tower”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 6: Thrilling Spine Coaster”, “Rock-Candy Mines – 7: Shifting-Floor Cave”, “Rock-Candy Mines – Castle: Roy’s Conveyor Castle”, “Meringue Clouds – 1: Land of Flying Blocks” & “Meringue Clouds – 2: Seesaw Shrooms”. Throughout these levels we defeated all challenges and bosses that were thrown our way, and we also managed to collect the 3 large gold coins scattered throughout each level. We is on a roll unlike any other!!

10) Finally, I decided to get another game going on the old PS1, a more recent eBay pickup I made, none other than Transformers: Beast Wars! The story behind this game (which follows the whole concept of the Beast Wars animated series) is that the Transformers crash land on Earth way back in prehistoric times. However, the planet is rich in Energon, so rich in fact, that both the Maximals (Autobots) and Predacons (Decepticons) must adapt and trans-scan the local wildlife for use as their alternate modes, which helps protect them against Energon exposure. The Predacons have a plan to use this abundance of Energon to bend the galaxy to their will though, and so it is up to the Maximals to prevent that from happening. When you start out on this game you can choose to play as either the Maximals or the Predacons, for this first run through I chose the Maximals and have completed just the first level so far. Said level was as such: “Urban 1 – Retaliation” (Tarantulas had overrun Rhinox’s base and reprogrammed it’s defenses, we could not let our blueprints fall in to enemy hands, so it was up to me to infiltrate and ultimately retake the base). Stay tuned!

“NNGRR” – To begin the week that followed my last post I continued my Halloween viewing, this time choosing the Syfy made for TV movie Sharknado 2 as my subject matter! This film picks up not long after the original movie, as Fin Shepard and April Wexler are flying to New York. They are traveling there in order to do promotion for the book April has written called “How to Survive a Sharknado”, which is of course based on their recent experiences in the terrifying Los Angeles storm. However, as they are approaching New York the plane enters a storm system and Fin thinks he sees a shark land on the wing . . . although the air marshal convinces him otherwise. Mere minutes later though Fin’s worst fears are confirmed, as they are indeed flying in to another Sharknado! As the sharks batter the plane, ruining one of it’s engines and smashing holes in the sides of the fuselage, it’s up to Fin to make an emergency landing after both pilots are killed. Once on the ground Fin warns the authorities about what is soon going to hit New York City, but at first nobody believes him. Fin has other worries to attend to though, as April lost part of her arm during the incident on the airplane, so they rush to the hospital and get her sorted out. During their travels Fin tries to get in touch with his sister Ellen, who is also in New York with her family, which includes Fin’s former best friend Martin and their two kids. He finally reaches Ellen and her daughter Mora, who are visiting Liberty Island with a couple of Ellen’s friends. The girls promise to head back to the hotel asap, but Martin and her son Vaughan, along with a couple of other friends including a former love interested on Fin’s named Skye, have gone to the Mets game! Fin leaves April at the hospital and rushes to the ballpark, just as he is trying to convince his family they’ve got to leave, the sharks hit the fan! Or the fans, I suppose. The rush is then on, for all parties to escape their various dangers and rendezvous at the hotel Fin’s sister is staying at. Fin, Martin, Vaughan, Skye, and Bryan encounter sharks on the flooded subway, not to mention in the streets as well. As for Ellen and Mora, they have to run, bike, and drive a hijacked truck through the streets of New York, being harassed not only by sharks, but for a while also by the severed head of the Statue of Liberty! As for April, she flees the hospital, which has also come under siege, in an effort to find Fin and help him defeat the Sharknado. All the while Matt Lauer and Al Roker have been reporting on the Sharknado, which morphs in to three Sharknados that are eventually going to converge and create a storm the likes of which has never been seen! To prevent this from happening Fin enlists a cabbie named Ben, who has helped them throughout their journey, and gets him to take them to Times Square, where they raid a number of shops and come up with the best types of weapons they can scrounge up. Not long after they reach the hotel, the exact spot where all three Sharknados are supposed to converge. Fin, along with Skye and eventually April, execute a plan to explode a couple of large Freon tanks up inside the storm, after some weaker previous attempts did nothing to affect the Sharknado whatsoever. Can they pull it off, or will the storm of all storms rage across New York City unchecked, reducing it to nothing but a pile of shark littered rubble? This movie was even more ridiculous than the first one, it was so good! The acting cheesy, some of the effects subpar, it was everything a B horror movie should be. And there were tons of cameos by lesser stars you wouldn’t have thought you’d be seeing, such as Kelly Osbourne, Andy Dick, Billy Ray Cyrus, Kurt Angle, Judd Hirsch, Jared (the Subway guy!), Perez Hilton, Richard Kind, and Biz Markie. So classic! And as for one main star Tara Reid, I know the media has a field day with her for some reason, but I still heart her . . . very much so. Bring on the third!

That same night I also watched the Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion DVD! This is the short “movie” that kicks off Disney’s new Star Wars animated series, called Star Wars: Rebels, and is basically two episodes put together to form more of a feature film. The story kicks off on the outer rim planet of Lothal, where a young street dweller named Ezra witnesses a team of misfits flip off the Imperials and steal a shipment of crates right out from under their noses! Being the opportunist that he is, Ezra gets in on the action and in turn steals the crates from them. The chase is then on, as both the Imperials and this mysterious team pursues him across Lothal. But when some TIE Fighters join the fray, Ezra has to lick his wounds and accept a ride from the very team that was so recently trying to catch him. On board he is watched closely by Zeb, a Lasat who is especially suspicious of Ezra and his motives. However, the crew’s captain Kanan (secretly a rogue Jedi who escaped Order 66 about 14 years prior), and pilot Hera (a level headed Twi’lek) see something special in Ezra that the others may not. As per Ezra’s wishes, the crew plan to return him to the surface of Lothal. After fighting off some TIE Fighters and entering hyperspace, Hera explains that their ship, the Ghost, can scramble it’s signal so that the Imperials wont’ know they’re back on planet. Before they can take Ezra back to his neck of the woods though, the rebels make two stops. One is at Tarkintown, where they deliver some crates to a growing number of refugees put out by the Empire, crates which contain food necessary to their survival! The other stop is to unload the blasters they stole, to a crime lord named Vizago. The money they gain from such transactions allow Kanan and his charges to keep up their efforts in opposing the evil Empire. During all of this Ezra begins to view this crew in a whole new light, a crew which is rounded out by a grumpy Astromech droid dubbed Chopper, and a sexy former Mandalorian named Sabine. Vizago also brings Kanan word of a shipment of Wookie slaves the Empire is transporting to the spice mines of Kessel. Naturally Kanan wants to prevent that from happening, and so Ezra is dragged along on his first official mission! However, the Wookie rumour was a hoax designed by the Empire to draw this crew and it’s ever growing reputation out in to the open. Not long after infiltrating the Imperial ship supposedly transporting these Wookies, a Star Destroyer helmed by Agent Kallus (the Imperial tasked with hunting the rebels down) shows up and attempts to capture the Ghost and it’s crew. The rebels pull off a last second escape though . . . but in the process Ezra gets left behind!! While sitting in an Imperial cell all by his lonesome not long after, Ezra contemplates both the lightsaber and the Jedi holocron he found in Kanan’s quarters aboard the Ghost. He somehow opens the holocron and views an old message from Obi-Wan Kenobi, the one in which he warned all remaining Jedi away from the Temple after the Order 66 purge! Gaining purpose from this message, Ezra tricks a couple of Stormtroopers and escapes his cell, beginning his escape attempt. Just moments later he is thrilled that his new family has shown up in the meantime, staging an escape attempt of their own! After evading Agent Kallus and his troops, the Ghost blasts away from Kessel and heads back to Lothal. At the abandoned tower Ezra has been living in Kanan gives him a choice. Stay and continue his meager existence on Lothal, or join the crew of the Ghost and be taught by Kanan in the Jedi arts, for Ezra’s abilities are more than just natural . . . they are Force fueled! Ezra picks option two, and this is how the story ends, setting up the rest of the series. So far I’m liking Disney’s first major effort at continuing the Star Wars legacy. The story seems to fit the canon, and everything behind the show including story, animation, sound, characters, etc. is just perfect. Keep on feeding me this shit!!!

I’d like to congratulate the San Francisco Giants on winning their third World Series in five years, which unfolded just a few nights later. To be honest, I was kind of hoping for the Kansas City Royals to win, as they’ve been an American League doormat for so long. But I don’t dislike the Giants, so I was happy whichever way it went! Both teams’ journey to the finals was a long one, as they each had to participate in the one game wild card playoff before making it through two more divisional rounds, on their way to the World Series. Kansas City seemed like a team of destiny as they didn’t lose a game through this stretch, going 8-0 as they headed in to the World Series. This overshadowed the fact that along the way San Francisco had only lost two games, and were on quite a roll themselves. What it all boiled down to was a wild and thrilling back and forth affair that ended up taking the entire 7 games to decide! Although the scores in most of the games weren’t that close, game 7 made up for it. With the Giants up 3-2 heading to the ninth inning, Kansas City had a guy on third with two outs but couldn’t cash him, giving the Giants the title in a real nail biter. Now let’s send the championship back to the American League next year, Cleveland Indians in 2015!!

The day after our Halloween adventures James and I watched a movie I’d picked up for the Halloween season, a relatively older title called Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase! I love Scooby-Doo movies, especially in October. Anyhoo, this story picks up as the crime solving gang known as Mystery, Inc. are headed to visit their friend Eric, who is a student at an unnamed college. Along with a fellow student named Bill, under the tutelage of professor Kaufman, the duo have created a virtual reality game where in theory they can zap real life objects in to the game using a laser they constructed in their lab. However, the night before Scooby and his pals arrive, the opposite happens. While working on the program the laser suddenly starts up on it’s own and zaps out a strange being . . . a monster seemingly made of electricity!! When Mystery, Inc. does show up and hears about what happened, they set out to stop this monster, now dubbed the Phantom Virus. In the process of hunting the creature down through the college though, Mystery, Inc. accidentally gets transported in to the game via the laser, a game that Eric had just so happened to design around Mystery, Inc. and their famed adventures! In order to survive their dangerous cyber experience Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby must play through the game’s 10 levels, each of which is completed by acquiring a box of Scooby Snacks at it’s finish. Throughout their journey they go to the moon, tangle with mangy beasts in the Roman Coliseum, get chased by dinosaurs, explore the world beneath the sea, go up against giant insects, then experience feudal Japan, ancient Egypt, medieval England, and the North Pole, before finally ending up in a more usual environment . . . engaging not only the Phantom Virus, but five other monsters from their past in an amusement park! After an exhaustive journey will the gang be able to come together and repel these six foes, uncovering the mystery of who was behind the creation of the Phantom Virus? Or will they meet their end inside of a machine and never be seen again? This was another really entertaining Scooby-Doo flick. I like the premise behind it, the whole virtual reality thing, and I really enjoyed all of the different places they visited along their journey through the game. Proud to put this one on the shelf alongside our other Scooby-Doo entries!

Another DVD James got for Halloween was a SpongeBob SquarePants collection, called Ghouls Fools! This collection contains seven SpongeBob episodes spread out amongst a variety of seasons, and although they are not necessarily Halloween themed they are more supernatural in nature, all of them featuring the ghost of the Flying Dutchman. The episodes contained in this compilation include “Ghoul Fools” (SpongeBob and Patrick explore a haunted house boat that has landed in Bikini Bottom, and get scared in to finding Lord Poltergeist a new head gasket so he can be on his way), “The Curse of Bikini Bottom” (the Flying Dutchman turns SpongeBob and Patrick in to ghosts, after they take Squidward’s lawnmower and cause a ruckus in the graveyard where he is buried), “Ghost Host” (the Flying Dutchman moves in with SpongeBob after his ship breaks down, and he proceeds in terrifying SpongeBob and the people of Bikini Bottom at every opportunity, but when his scary touch seems to wear off and the Dutchman gets worried SpongeBob is there to help him reclaim it), “Born Again Krabs” (after Mr. Krabs gets sick from eating an old Krabby Patty he promises the Flying Dutchman he’ll be generous if he lets him live, but after finding out how expensive being generous can be Krabs reneges, prompting the Dutchman to come back after him!), “Arrgh!” (Mr. Krabs sees SpongeBob and Patrick playing a pirate treasure board game and becomes addicted, later on obtaining a pirate ship and setting out to find the real life treasure said game is supposed to be based upon), “Your Shoe’s Untied” (after forgetting how to tie his shoes SpongeBob’s life becomes unbearable, and his performance at the Krusty Krab suffers because of it, but the Sponge may just find some help in tying knots from a certain dead sailor) & “Money Talks” (after Mr. Krabs gets the idea in his head that talking to money would be an amazing thing, he sells his soul to the Flying Dutchman in return for said ability, but unfortunately for the miser it may not live up to the thrill he thought it would be). As usual, with SpongeBob SquarePants you just can’t go wrong! Ghouls Fools is an entertaining seven episodes of complete ridiculousness that you can enjoy any time, any place. Awesome show!!

That same weekend I watched the next super hero movie in line, picking the original X-Men as my flick of choice! After the film opens up with a flashback to war time Poland, giving a bit of backstory on the story’s main villain, Magneto, the scene shifts to modern times. Mutants, the next step in the evolutionary process, are at the center of controversy. Senator Robert Kelly is pushing for a Mutant Registration Act, so that all mutants out there can be identified, their powers disclosed to the public at large. For as usual, mankind is fearful of that which he does not understand. Testifying before the Senate in favour of the mutants is Jean Grey, who herself has telepathic powers. Also in attendance are Erik Lehnsher, aka Magneto, and Professor Charles Xavier, the most powerful telepath known to mankind. The two are “old friends” and briefly discuss their differing views on the proceedings unfolding before them. At the same time this is happening a young teen named Marie, a resident in the state of Mississippi, causes her boyfriend to go in to a coma simply by touching him. Seeking to get away from her miserable existence she heads north, all the way to Laughlin City, Alberta (yeah, Canada beeyatch!), where she encounters an angry and powerful brawler named Logan at a local bar. Unknown to him she hitches a ride, although after discovering her presence the two eventually develop a tentative rapport. She is drawn to Logan, aka Wolverine, because of his mutant abilities, which include the ability to heal rapidly and release razor sharp adamantium claws from his fists. Soon after the two are ambushed by another mutant, seemingly half man/half beast, and the two are about the meet their makers when a couple of Professor Xavier’s charges (Cyclops and Storm) show up and save the day. When Wolverine comes to he is deep within Charles Xavier’s Mansion, or as the public knows it, Xavier’s School for the Gifted. Secretly the school is a haven for mutants, where the young ones can be taught to control and manage their powers. Promising Wolverine that he will try and discern what happened to him in his forgotten life, how he became what he is today, Xavier at least temporarily buys Logan’s loyalty. The team’s primary concern for the moment though is why Magneto wanted to get his hands on Wolverine so badly up in Canada. All soon becomes clear as events lead towards a confrontation on Liberty Island in New York City. For on nearby Ellis Island a summit that includes a good number of the world’s various leaders is in progress. After capturing Rogue (Marie’s mutant moniker), Magneto plans on using her power transferring ability to fuel a machine he has built, a machine that will turn all of those world leader’s and more in to mutants themselves!! That will fix their wagon on the whole anti-mutant stance. Although the X-Men are in close pursuit, they first have to deal with Magneto’s henchmen, including Sabretooth, Toad and Mystique, before getting at the boss man. Does this rag tag team have what it takes, or is the city’s mutant population about to hit a major spike? This was a pretty good initial film to ring in the X-Men franchise, establishing some cool main characters and of course bringing in to the spotlight the whole super power registration debate. A lot of really good actors leant their talents to this film, including Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin . . . and of course my all-time favourite acrobat, Ray Park! I’ve now got all the X-Men movies cued up and ready to go, I’ve never seen anything past X2 so I’m pretty excited to see how the ongoing saga unfolds . . .

In the middle of the week that followed I finished reading my latest book, the fifth and final entry in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, called The Blood of Olympus! After the events of the last story, our mix of Greek and Roman demi-gods have decided to split in to two separate parties, as the war against the waking Gaea and her various minions is apparently going to be waged on two fronts. For under the misguided leadership of that weasel Octavius, the Roman demi-gods have surrounded the Greeks at Camp Half-Blood, planning to attack and destroy them on August 01 . . . the same day Gaea is supposedly going to rise from the Earth across the world in Athens! So it is decided that Reyna, Nico and Coach Hedge will transport the Athena Parthenos statue (which they obtained during their last adventure) back to Camp Half-Blood, as it has been foretold that it will create peace between the Greek and Roman camps, healing their rift. As for Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel and Leo, they are going to pilot the Argo II to the Parthenon in Athens, to confront Gaea and her legion of giants head on. The going is not easy though, for either party. As Nico shadow travels his threesome towards Rhode Island they visit Mount Vesuvius and then Pompeii, where Gaea takes over Coach Hedge’s body and they must fight off many ghosts before shadow traveling to safety. Afterwards they end up in San Juan, where Reyna grew up, and they are met by Artemis’ Hunters who inform them that the Orion is on their trail. Unfortunately he chooses that moment to show up and does great damage, before chasing the threesome all the way back to Camp Half-Blood, where Reyna eventually slays him. Meanwhile, the other seven demi-gods have also been busy. First they get advice from Hera in Ithaca, after Jason is badly wounded in an intense battle. Their next stop is to capture the goddess Nike in Olympia, before finally arriving at the Parthenon in Athens, where a battle soon erupts between them and Gaea’s giants. Just when it seems all is lost the gods themselves thunder down from on high and aid their children in the destruction of these evil forces . . . but it may already be too late, for both Percy and Annabeth have shed blood on this sacred soil . . . meaning Gaea is now fully awake! However, Gaea does not attack, she eventually appears on the other side of the world on the outskirts of Camp Half-Blood, where she intends to start big and wipe as many demi-gods from the face of the Earth as possible! Desperately wanting to help their friends, the only way for the seven to get to Camp Half-Blood in time is via a little godly intervention from Zeus himself . . . hold on to your hats! The heroes arrival is well timed, and it seems to spark the collected demi-gods to push for victory even harder. But when Gaea herself rises up out of the ground and displays her full destructive potential, it is then up to Leo to execute a daring, last ditch plan that may end up saving all of his friends, but destroy him in the process. Do these warriors have the cojones to win one last against all odds battle, or have they come this far only to fall short right at the end of their excruciating journey? This was a pretty epic conclusion to such a fantastic series of books, what a ride! I thought the ending was great, it provided a lot of closure on the events that unfolded throughout the series, but left things open and hopeful for all of the main characters moving forward. I so love all of this Greek mythology brought in to the spotlight in such a new and modern way, so much fun!

To close out the weekend of mrs. darthcobain17’s birthday extravaganza, I chose to unwind and watch the next movie in the X-Men series, called X2: X-Men United. This film kicks off not too long after the events of the first, and it opens with a mutant capable of teleportation making an assassination attempt on the president of the U.S.A. . . . right in the oval office at the white house! The attempt is foiled at the last second by a member of the secret service, but the incident serves to ratchet up the growing anti-mutant sentiment even further. Meanwhile, back at Xavier’s School for the Gifted, Storm and Jean Grey are preparing to depart the mansion aboard the jet, to seek out the mysterious mutant who executed said assassination attempt. Around the same time Wolverine arrives back at the mansion, after searching an abandoned research facility at far away Alkali Lake, a tip Xavier had given him in pursuit of his unknown past. With recent events still largely unexplained it’s not long though, before things begin to unravel and the truth behind many issues begins to rear it’s ugly head! First of all, Storm and Jean locate their mutant near Boston, a religious being named Nightcrawler who had no memory of the assassination attempt . . . it appears as if he was brainwashed in to doing it. Then, when Professor Xavier and Cyclops go to visit Magneto in prison, he informs Charles that he had nothing to do with the attempt on the president’s life. He did divulge that an agent named William Stryker had been paying him regular visits, and that during these visits he had been forced to reveal the true nature of the X-Mansion to the government . . . oh, snap. To make matters even worse, Cyclops and Xavier are captured during this visit, while another strike is led on the X-Mansion itself, to detain as many mutants as possible. Most of the children make it to safety under the protection of Colossus, while Wolverine stays behind and slays as many of Stryker’s men as possible. When Stryker enters the mansion personally and engages Wolverine in conversation though, a realization is made . . . Stryker has been the one pulling the strings behind everything all along! He is the one responsible all those years ago for turning Wolverine in to what he has become, he is the one responsible for Nightcrawler’s assassination attempt . . . and he is the one currently proceeding with a devilish plan to use the captive Charles Xavier in conjunction with a rebuilt Cerebro, to wipe every mutant off the face of the planet in one fell swoop! And so it falls to the remaining X-Men (including younger members such as Rogue, Iceman and Pyro) to combine forces with Magneto and Mystique, and plan a raid on Stryker’s hidden underground base at Alkali Lake. The objective is pretty simple, save Professor Xavier, for if they do so the threat of a mutant genocide is negated. But Stryker is on his home turf, he has a ton of soldiers at his disposal, not to mention a secret weapon a la his very own mutant named Lady Deathstrike. Do the misfit X-Men have it in themselves to come up with another victory for their kind, or has their luck run out? I liked this film even better than the first, things got pretty gritty, and even more heroes got involved in the action. The secrets behind Wolverines past were revealed, which was cool also. The original movie was kind of like the calm before the storm, and then this movie was the storm. Such good action!

The following week I kept at it, viewing X3, or X-Men: The Last Stand as it’s better known . . . damn these things keep on getting even grittier!! The movie opens up at a time of relative peace. After the message the X-Men delivered to the president at the end of the previous film, a mutant has been appointed to report directly to the president, anointed the minister of mutant affairs. However, soon enough all hell breaks loose, on a couple of different fronts. First, Cyclops, driven mad with grief over the death of Jean Grey at the end of the last film, travels to Alkali Lake after seeing visions of her still alive. Upon his arrival Jean appears out of the depths of the water, but when they embrace she kills him, disintegrating Scott and scattering him to the wind! Professor Xavier senses this and dispatches both Wolverine and Storm to investigate. They find Jean’s unconscious body and bring her back to the X-Mansion post haste. Once Jean is stored away under the mansion Xavier reveals the truth of what happened. For Jean is one of the most powerful mutants he’s ever encountered, and without the ability to control that power she could be a danger to herself and all of those around her . . . see Scott’s death, for example. When Jean first came to Xavier’s school he placed blocks in her mind that prevented her from unleashing her more powerful alternate persona, known as Phoenix. Xavier tries to replace these blocks, but it appears as though Phoenix has arrived and is here to stay! After a skirmish with Wolverine Jean escapes the X-Mansion. The other issue that springs up is that a company named Worthington Labs has produced what they call a “mutant cure”. It is a shot that apparently has the ability to reverse the mutant gene, permanently. This prompts Magneto to rebuild his Brotherhood of Mutants, recruiting newbies such as Callisto and Juggernaut to his cause, among many others. He convinces them that this voluntary cure will be anything but, for he believes the government plans to force it on all mutants, eradicating the mutant “disease” forever! Not long afterwards both Xavier and Magneto meet at Jean Grey’s house, where they had come together 20 years earlier to initially recruit her to the mutant cause. However, she is a changed woman now, and with both Xavier and Magneto lobbying her to choose their respective sides, she loses control. Out of the ashes she rises, choosing to follow Magneto, having destroyed Professor Xavier in the process. Reeling with the loss of not only their leader, but Cyclops as well, the X-Men and their younger charges must band together to stop Magneto and the plan he has formulated. For he and his brotherhood are going to march on Alcatraz island, the site of Worthington Labs. There they plan to not only destroy the facility, but also the source of the mutant cure, a boy named Jimmy who’s mutant power is the ability to negate and temporarily reverse other mutant’s powers. The action all culminates in a fiery, bloody battle to the finish that sees a ton of casualties. Being severely outnumbered and up against not only Magneto but the powerful Phoenix as well, do the X-Men have the cajones to win their toughest battle yet, or will the blood of the innocent cause the waters of San Francisco Bay to run red? Like I said, this movie was pretty gritty, and I loved it. There were some major casualties in this film, including Professor Xavier, Jean Grey, Cyclops, not to mention Mystique losing her powers (that sucks). But there were lots of new characters that made their debuts though, most noticeably Beast, who I’ve always been a fan of. The fact that he’s played by Kelsey Grammer makes it even better! And I like how Shadowcat became a more prominent character, as after reading the X-Men: Gifted book I became a fan of hers. I’ll definitely be interested to see how things progress from here . . .

With the third Hobbit movie due to hit theatres in December, I decided it was finally time I got around to watching the first two . . . for shame!! So just yesterday I began by watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. For those not familiar with The Hobbit story, it was a book written by Tolkien that serves as a bit of a lead-in story to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, introducing Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey as they embark on an epic adventure, plus it also sets up the back story on how Bilbo Baggins came upon the ring. Yes, that ring. Anyhoo, the movie begins as Bilbo is coming up on his 111th birthday. He has finally decided to write an account for Frodo’s sake, of an adventure he partook in many years earlier, an adventure that forged his eternal friendship with the aforementioned Gandalf. The scene then shifts back many years in the past, to the kingdom of Erebor, the most prosperous dwarven stronghold in Middle-Earth. Their ruler, Thror, was as mighty as they come, and brought his people many years of prosperity. However, as he grew older and his stock of treasure grew, Thror became sick with a thirst for gold. Soon afterwards the bonds that held this community together for so long began to crumble. Sensing the vast treasure horde located within the mountain, a fire drake (dragon) named Smaug attacked Erebor and drove all of it’s occupants away, claiming the kingdom and it’s treasures for itself! The story then warps ahead many years, to the time of Gandalf’s quest (about 60 years prior to the current time frame the movie starts in, with Bilbo chronicling this adventure for Frodo’s future enjoyment). Bilbo was a Hobbit happy enough to receive no company, preferring to stay at home reading his books and tending his garden. So, when a wizard named Gandalf shows up on his doorstep, in an attempt to recruit him in going on a grand adventure, Bilbo wants none of it and tells Gandalf as much. Thinking that’s the last of it Bilbo is flabbergasted when, many nights later, a small host of dwarves begins showing up at his doorstep one by one! They make themselves at home, much to Bilbo’s chagrin. Eventually all is revealed to Bilbo by Gandalf when the company’s last dwarf arrives, one the others all seem to follow . . . and he goes by the name of Thorin Oakenshield. For Thorin is a grandson of the long since passed Thror, and he is ready to take back what belongs to him and his people! Recent portents have pointed to the fact that it is time a successful advance could be waged on Erebor, and Thorin is prepared to jump at it, for fear that if they don’t somebody else will. Bilbo, to his own surprise, has been recommended to Thorin by Gandalf, to act as the party’s burglar. After much pondering though, Bilbo declines the offer and doesn’t sign the contract. When his uninvited guests finally leave, he wakes up on that morning and suddenly feels lonely, and like he might be missing out by not accepting their invitation. So he chases everybody down as they are leaving the Shire, and joins the caravan, making their total number 15: he, Gandalf the wizard, and 13 dwarves including Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur. Unfortunately trouble is not too far away, and although Thorin doesn’t trust Bilbo, the diminutive Hobbit soon proves his mettle after helping rescue the entire party from a trio of trolls, eluding destruction via a clutch of stone giants, successfully navigating his way through Goblin Town all by his lonesome (and surviving an encounter with Gollum along the way, obtaining the ring of power), and then saving Thorin from beheading by Azog (an unusually powerful Orc who has a violent history with Thorin and his ancestors). With Gandalf then whisking the still entirely intact party off to safety and reviving the injured Thorin, Bilbo claims (with Erebor visible far in the distance) that the worst is behind them . . . but I think we all know that ain’t gonna be the case!! This was a great film, right on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I love Martin Freeman, so with him as the main character portraying Bilbo, I was certainly in luck! And then with the outstanding effects of the various enemies like the trolls, goblins, Gollum, Azog, and even a little glimpse of Smaug, visually it was just fantastic. And then there were the dwarves . . . so funny. Gonna watch the second one soon!

The following night I decided to finish The Hobbit off, at least for now, by watching the second film the in the trilogy, called The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The film starts off with a more recent flashback, to when Gandalf first met Thorin Oakenshield and proposed this foolhardy journey. The scene then shifts back to the epic quest consisting of 13 dwarves, a wizard, and a hobbit, the purpose to reclaim the lost kingdom of Erebor. The pace is quick right off the get go, as Azog the Defiler has not given up in his pursuit of this party, for he and his orcs are pursuing them as they close in on Erebor. Bilbo discovers that something else is also tracking them, and it seems to be a giant black bear. Gandalf knows that his bear happens to be Beorn, a skin changer, and they seek refuge at Beorn’s empty homestead, able to lock him out of his own house at the very last second! After Beorn changes back to his human form he agrees to help this motley caravan out, by lending them horses and trying to waylay their enemies. Although Beorn has no love of dwarves, he hates orcs even more! The next stage of their journey is a very daunting one though . . . as they must enter the forest of Mirkwood, where strange and dark things have been purported to be moving about recently. Unfortunately Gandalf has to take a detour from his travel mates, gleaning that he must check out the tombs of the Nazgul, via a telepathic message he receives from the elf Galadriel. Bilbo and his 13 dwarves proceed to penetrate the depths of Mirkwood and promptly get lost, then get caught and wrapped up by a horde of massive spiders! In the meantime Gandalf and Radagast the Brown have begun investigating the tombs of the Nazgul, dismayed to discover that they are now empty. Back in the forest Bilbo is able to free himself from the spider webbing, and in turn he frees the dwarves. However, they are almost overrun by the sheer number of spiders before a couple of wood elves show up (Legolas and Tauriel), but after the smoke clears the elves then take the dwarves captive, bringing Thorin before their king, Thranduil. Thorin rejects a deal that Thranduil offers him, based on the elves’ lack of support 60 years ago when Smaug first attacked, and so he is thrown in prison with the rest of his charges. But clever Bilbo was able to slip the elves, using his trusty ring, and he is poised to instigate a jailbreak. Using some empty wine barrels to make their slip, Bilbo and the dwarves are pursued downriver by not only the elves but a horde or orcs that had also been chasing them, led by Azog’s son Bolg! After an intense three way battle the dwarves escape, but Kili is wounded in the process. The dwarves find passage to Lake-town via a barge runner named Bard. He provides them with shelter and weapons, but it’s not long before the dwarves are discovered by Lake-town’s administration. But after revealing that they are led by Thorin, and will share with them the vast treasure contained within Erebor, the party is celebrated and whisked on their way! As for Gandalf, in the meantime he has left the tombs of the Nazgul behind and headed towards a great center of evil called Dol Goldur, where a malevolent being called the Necromancer is supposedly hiding. Upon his investigation Gandalf is shocked to find an army of orcs preparing for battle, and that the true identity of the Necromancer is actually that of Sauron, the ultimate bad guy! Gandalf is overwhelmed by Sauron’s dark powers and then taken captive by Azog. As for Bilbo, Thorin and company, they have finally arrived at Erebor and after some clever figuring by Bilbo, are able to secretly enter the mountain. It is then up to Bilbo to explore the vast amount of treasure Smaug lies beneath, in an effort to find the Arkenstone and help Thorin restore order. But Smaug is awakened during Bilbo’s search, and after toying with the hobbit for a little while, finally decides to wipe him and his cadre of dwarves from the face of the Earth! Bilbo and the remaining dwarves (for some stayed behind in Lake-town to tend to Kili) attempt many strategies to deal with Smaug and frustrate the great dragon to no end. After discovering that Bilbo and the dwarves have friends left in Lake-town, the dragon then flies off to take out his vengeance on that community, striking at the dwarves in a roundabout way instead. All they can do is watch the dragon soar away, while back in Lake-town a now captive Bard has a bad feeling about what’s to come and has taken defensive measures, even while orcs invade to try and get a crack at Thorin, with Legolas and Tauriel in hot pursuit. The shit is all going to hit the fan this December when the third and final movie is released, and I can’t wait to check it out!! I liked this movie better than the first one (much as I did with the Lord of the Rings trilogy) as the action was ramped up and we finally got a good look at Smaug. It’s funny how in most cases in a movie trilogy, the middle film is usually the best! Awesome.

Crazy, but it's true!! I overdose on Wii U . . .

Holy shit, you’re not even gonna believe how much action I saw during this last blog period . . . so much stuff I got done! Anyhoo, the weekend after my last post the only thing we really had on was to go to a fundraiser party for one of our city’s mayoral candidates. I didn’t really want to go as I hate everything about politics, just a bunch of overpaid, ego ridden fools who can never agree on anything and get shit done . . . and get grossly overpaid for it, helping to further push our country in to debt! But we had friends who wanted to go, and apparently there were going to be a lot of people there that we knew, so off we went. It was alright, I got pretty wasted.

The following weekend was our Thanksgiving here in Canada. On the Saturday we did our newer annual tradition of going to Clovermead with my Mom’s side of the family. Fortunately we got some decent weather, so we all spent a good day together outdoors. The kids were loving all the additions to Clovermead this year, they pretty much wore us right out! The next day we headed down Grimsby way to spend Thanksgiving with my wife’s family. We scarfed down a turkey dinner and even celebrated James’ birthday with them a little early, as the rest of October was going to be pretty busy for everyone. He got a giant Hex Bug and some Lego, giving us a bit of building to do!

As for this past weekend, on the Saturday we had James’ birthday party with all of his little friends. We rented a room at a local arena/community center and got the Lego Guys to come in for the party (yes, the party was entirely Lego themed!). They had a portion of their Mobile Museum there, a Lego soccer set for the kids to try out, along with tons of bricks and Bionicle pieces to build and play with. They also played some Lego themed games with the kids. Afterwards it was time for a Lego cake and then presents (yes, lots of Lego!), and that was it. The next day, as a bit of a last minute thing, we decided to go to Canada’s Wonderland, where we hadn’t been since last summer. In October they dress the park up in a Halloween theme and have lots of Halloween inspired events and activities that they don’t normally feature. The only thing the park doesn’t have running at that time of year is the water park and the few water rides they offer. This time of year is way cheaper too, a mere third of the normal cost! The only problem is that the park closes at 5, so you really have to try and pack in the things you want to do first, so as to make sure you get your favourites done. This time around we were able to get on the newest ride, called Wonder Mountain’s Guardian. We also did Thunder Run, the Vortex, and the Backlot Stunt Coaster. I was allowed to purchase tickets for the 3D movie called The Lost World, as well as the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit. Near the end of the day James was able to get on his favourite ride, the Peanuts 500, and I was able to get on mine, the Behemoth. Another great day!

As for the regular, ever day stuff, James just finished up his latest round of golf lessons last week, and both Beavers and swimming lessons are still going strong. The weather has been kind of miserable lately, but no real downpours, so I’ve still been able to ride in to work every day. I fear though that my time is quickly coming to a close. And lastly, James’ actual birthday finally came to pass this week, he took pudding in to school for all of his classmates, and we then had tacos and macaroni & cheese for dinner . . . that’s my kind of day, right there! I got him a couple of Planes: Fire & Rescue characters, but for his main birthday gift I finally got the go ahead to pick up a Wii U . . . friggin’ FINALLY!! A few weeks ago I picked up a few Wii U games as Best Buy had a great sale going on, and I knew we would eventually be getting the system. I also got him another couple games when I picked up the system, plus it came with the New Super Mario Bros. U/New Super Luigi U titles, so we’ve definitely got a healthy start on some games to play! Overall it was a pretty busy month, but a good one. And here is what I managed to get accomplished during the ride . . .

1) To start things off I was finally able to get back at Goldeneye and knock down the fourth level! In order to do so I did dial down the difficulty level from 007 to Secret Agent, and that made a big difference. Still difficult, but not near impossible anymore. Anyhoo, the fourth level was called “Severnaya – Surface”. Our satellites had picked up increased activity levels at an abandoned observatory complex in this area, as well as an influx of computer equipment and personnel. So I began this mission in the secluded woods amongst a frozen tundra. Quickly I made my way along a roughly plowed road and came to some guard lookouts, which showed no activity. Not long afterwards I came across a scattering of wooden sheds and began exploring them, coming across a few enemy soldiers in the process. Only one of the sheds was locked, so I fully explored all of the others and in doing so found a key that unlocked that one shed I couldn’t access. Inside of this locked shed was a key to a safe, finding this item was one of my main mission objectives. Afterwards I explored a small observatory structure and then came to a shed I hadn’t noticed before, inside was the safe I was looking for! I opened said safe and took the building plans that were stashed inside of it, another one of my main objectives. Not too far away from this location I was at sat a larger communications satellite building, which I then infiltrated. I shut their communications down and then departed, gaining access to the main base by climbing down a nearby ventilation shaft. I finished the level with a time of 24:56 and had a 67.5% accuracy rating.

2) On MLB 2K11 I completed the next series of my season, which saw us travel to New York to engage the turd sniffing Yankees! Here is how the series went down: won @ New York 6-5 (12 innings), won @ New York 3-2, won @ New York 10-2 & won @ New York 7-6. I believe it’s pronounced boo-yah . . .

3) The first game completion I’m going to talk about this time around is for none other than Mega Man 9!! This was a game we started playing many, many months ago, but we stalled on it once reaching Dr. Wily’s fortress. Well, recently we went back at it hard and got the job done. The first stage of Wily’s fortress began on a steel walkway outside of said fortress. We sauntered along and fought small green robot frogs, as well as hovering sentries and rock dropping birds. After jumping a number of chasms and destroying a robot monkey sporting a shield, we began our ascent. We had to climb ladders, as well as use our Tornado Blow weapon to kick-start these heli-platforms that helped us make our way over the deadly spikes spattered throughout the environment. Eventually we entered the fortress and faced more monkeys, as well as green plants that spit bombs out at us. Soon afterwards we arrived at a wide open area where the dragon from Magma Man’s stage attacked, dispatching it easily. Moving on we engaged more of the same enemies before reaching a tricky sequence of rooms. In them were lava flows that moved sideways across the screen. We had to time our jumps perfectly or else it was curtains all in one shot! At the top of this sequence was the boss chamber. Said chamber was split in to four levels, on each one was a small robot spitting bullets and other armaments at us. Using the Mega Buster we had to push these large spiked balls (like a mace) at them and destroy them, eventually whittling down their power and completing the battle. The second stage kicked off in an underground chamber with a real metallic look to it. We immediately began climbing ladders, taking on hard hats and avoiding electrical charges. Also along the way we blasted away at those multiplying eyeball creatures, and many other robotic creations. Avoiding spiked traps throughout all this action we eventually dropped down in to a platformed chamber and fought the halfway boss from Hornet Man’s stage, the flower. Once it was out of the way we continued our descent, reaching an underwater chamber and forging along. We avoided many spikes, navigating the maze like routes, blasting more eyeball creatures as well as robotic swordfish. Coming to the end of the underwater sequence we climbed some ladders and platforms, dispatching more bots, finally arriving at the boss chamber. This boss was a little trickier, it was a large robot in the shape of a shark and the battle unfolded in three sections. First was the tail, which spit out heat seeking missiles, then the underbelly where crab like creatures were dispatched to attack us, and finally the head, in which a large laser cannon located in the mouth blasted away. We took it down with extreme prejudice though! The third stage began in a futuristic looking cavern, moving along we blasted a couple of tough jumping bots, then came to a zero gravity environment that unfolded over a few screens. To move Mega Man as we floated upwards we blasted the Mega Buster to give us propulsion, taking out a few eyeball creatures along the way. At the top of the chamber a ladder led us to more caverns we had to traverse, soon after we dropped downwards and continued along, engaging more difficult enemies like shielded soldiers and robots. Another zero gravity section was in our future, but this one was a tad more difficult! We not only had eyeball creatures to engage, but also the hovering bots that drop down and capture Mega Man, dragging him in to nearby dangers, as well as many spike traps. Once at the top of the chamber we climbed a ladder and reached relative safety. Avoiding spikes, jumping chasms, and engaging many different types of enemies we eventually came to the boss chamber after a long drop. Inside said chamber were two floating piles of goo. These piles would exchange blobs of plasma, which came shooting across the screen and we had to avoid them. The only vulnerable part of this creature was a shared eyeball that shot across the screen after all the plasma was transferred. With the right weapon equipped it was easy peasy, onward ho!! The fourth and final stage of Wily’s fortress started in another futuristic looking cavern. We began making our way straight downwards, taking out hard hats and bypassing these laser weapons shooting from wall to wall by smothering them with Concrete Shot. Soon enough we came to the boss chamber (that was fast!), but waiting in said chamber were 8 portals . . . 8 portals that took us to all of the robot bosses from earlier in the game, who we then had to fight for the second time! We knocked down Galaxy Man, Concrete Man, Splash Woman, Hornet Man, Jewel Man, Magma Man, Tornado Man, and Plug Man. Upon their defeat a ninth portal emerged and we entered it, inside waiting for us was that dastardly fiend with the great eyebrows, Dr. Wily! His first form was a large robotic dinosaur with a huge, horned skull for a head. We defeated it by bouncing back the eggs it was spitting out at us up in to it’s own face. This destroyed the skull, which then revealed Wily in the robot’s cockpit. His second form wasn’t quite as tricky, as it only spit fire and tried to crush us, but with Concrete Shot equipped it was a short fight. The third and final form he took was his usual flying UFO ship, and together with Plug Ball and Hornet Chaser equipped the poor prick never stood a chance!! GAME OVER . . . finally.

4) On NHL ’04 I was able to complete the next five games of my season, which unfolded as such: won vs. Buffalo 17-4, won @ Pittsburgh 21-5, won vs. Nashville 12-5, won vs. Ottawa 12-3 & won vs. New Jersey 15-8.

5) Next up was Trackmania: Build to Race. I continued along on Race mode, the events I completed this time around included: “Stadium C1” (second place, silver medal), “Stadium C2” (second place, silver medal), “Stadium C3” (second place, silver medal), “Stadium C4” (third place, bronze medal), “Stadium C5” (second place, silver medal), “Island C1” (third place, bronze medal), “Island C2” (third place, bronze medal), “Island C3” (third place, bronze medal), “Island C4” (first place, gold medal), “Island C5” (third place, bronze medal), “Desert C1” (third place, bronze medal), “Desert C2” (second place, silver medal), “Desert C3” (second place, silver medal), “Desert C4” (second place, silver medal) & “Desert C5” (second place, silver medal). At this point I hadn’t earned enough “coppers” to unlock any more of the extra tracks in this mode, so I moved along to Platform mode. Basically you run the same kind of races, but you earn your rank by completing said races with the minimal amount of retries. So far on this mode I’ve completed the following events: “A1” (gold medal), “A2” (silver medal), “A3” (gold medal), “A4” (silver medal), “A5” (silver medal), “B1” (gold medal), “B2” (silver medal), “B3” (silver medal), “B4” (silver medal) & “B5” (bronze medal). Getting’ tough!

6) With regards to Mario Kart 7, I completed it as well! I began by exploring the other game modes this title has to offer. First up was the “Time Trials” mode, in which you race around the track by yourself and simply try to set the best times possible. This I only did a couple times as it does get pretty boring, and fast. Next up was “Balloon Battle”, which is a lot of fun! In this mode you are put in an environment with seven other competitors, each racer has a trio of balloons tied to the back of their kart. The goal is to hit the other racers with weapons and pop those balloons, he or she with the most pops at the end of the time limit is the winner (in this mode the overall event unfolds over four separate competitions in various arenas). On my first try I played the team option, where the eight competitors are divided up in to two teams of four, and we lost 15-14. I then did it solo and won the overall event with a total of 26 points. Next up came the “Coin Runners” game mode. It works very similar to the Balloon Battle, as eight racers are put in four consecutive arenas to compete, but the objective this time is to collect the most amount of coins as possible . . . and you can take other racers’ coins away by blasting them and stealing their stash! The competitor with the most coins collected over all four events is the winner. When I partook in this event I won on my first try, with a total of 54 coins. The various arenas you compete in during both of these game modes include Battle Course 1, Big Donut, Palm Shore, Honeybee Hive, Sherbet Rink & Wuhu Town. The final task I managed to complete was to go back to the main Race mode, and complete the Mirror Mode option I had unlocked earlier in the game. In this mode you compete in all of the same race circuits, only you run each race backwards instead. Here is how I fared on each circuit: “Mushroom Cup” (raced with Metal Mario, placed third overall with 26 points), “Flower Cup” (raced with Wiggler, placed third overall with 24 points), “Star Cup” (raced with Rosalina, won the circuit with 36 points), “Special Cup” (raced with Wario, placed second overall with 28 points), “Shell Cup” (raced with Lakitu, won the circuit with 36 points), “Banana Cup” (raced with Shy Guy, won the circuit with 32 points), “Leaf Cup” (raced with Mario, won the circuit with 32 points) & “Lightning Cup” (raced with Donkey Kong, placed second overall with 29 points). And that is all she wrote!!

7) Major progress was made on Batman Origins: Blackgate, the most I’ve made yet! Picking up where I left off I was now in a control room somewhere in the prison, I began by tracing Penguin’s blood trail to a hatch hidden under a pile of rubble. Making my way downwards I explored what looked like the lower levels of the prison, soon enough I had to destroy a couple of circuit breakers that were allowing rogue electrical charges to endanger me in a flooded area of the basement. Coming upon an elevator, I took it upwards and immediately ran in to a horde of thugs! After beating them down I began traversing parts of the prison I’d already been through before, taking out more thugs until I reached the elevator from earlier in the game, which the goons had been using to send weapons down to Penguin. At the bottom of this ride Penguin’s blood trail led to the door of a chamber that I could not breach. In talking to Catwoman soon after we decided I needed to find another way in, so I then backtracked to the facility’s entrance and left. We thought I could gain access by using the secret entrance from the Lighthouse. So I went to the docks that led to the lighthouse facility and made my way along them. After sneaking up on a few thugs and taking them out I found I could not proceed any further because the gap between the docks and the lighthouse was too large to traverse. To remedy this situation I headed to the prison’s Administration building. WayneCorp had been installing new elevators there recently, so the thought was that I could pick up a cable launcher, which would allow me to cross that vast distance to the lighthouse quite easily. I used my grapnel device to gain access to an upper level of the administration building, then began making my way through the facility. It didn’t take long to realize that I was now on Joker’s turf, and soon after he appeared before me. Joker made reference to the warden being in a “tight spot” and then refused to give me the codes to the crypto sequencer device I’d been using to access various locked levels of the prison. Afterwards he let off a bomb and I went down, coming to a while later. Catwoman hailed me and informed me that Joker had cut off ventilation to the guards that were being held captive in the lower levels of the prison, they probably only had a few hours’ worth of air left. I then set off in search of the warden but couldn’t make a clear route, as there was so much damage from the bomb blast. So I pieced together a route and along the way came across the Joker once more, in a hallway where he proceeded to set off his crazy gas! I narrowly escaped and ran in to a thug in an elevator shaft, beating his ass good. Continuing to walk, climb and run through the building, dispatching more thugs as I went, I eventually found a couple of captive guards and rescued them. Next was to crawl through some duct work to a large area containing a good number of Joker’s goons. It took a good while, but I eventually dispatched them all and rescued a couple more guards in the process. Joker pumped some gas in to the area so I then had to escape using more of the duct work. After engaging some more enemies I came to the top of an elevator shaft and beyond it reached a room holding a safe. Inside said safe was the line launcher I was after, using it I began my exfiltration of the administration building (during these travels I also acquired the Red Son Cowl, New 52 Cowl, and One Million Cowl for their respective batsuits, an armour enhancement, and the crypto key Beta). Forging new routes with said line launcher I eventually found the location of the warden . . . trapped in a room rigged with explosives!! So I began searching for another way to get him out of his predicament, and in doing so ran in to Deadshot. He had been hired by all three of the prison thugs’ leaders to provide extra support against threats to their newfound situation, and he had no qualms with engaging me in battle! At first I just waited him out while he blasted round after round at me, flitting from cover to cover. Eventually I was able to make my way up towards his perch, using the bright spotlights around me to mess with his vision. In the end I laid the boots to him and ended the threat. After the battle a cutscene played, of a mysterious person who was watching all of the proceedings going on at the prison with great relish, who also seemed to have a great interest in all of the powerful characters involved . . .

8) The third game we put away this time around was none other than Mega Man 10 . . . two Mega Man games completed in one blog period, astounding!! Much like Mega Man 9, we were stuck on number 10 at the beginning of Wily’s fortress. The first stage of this battle began on a rocky outcropping in the middle of a rainstorm. We made our way towards the entrance of Wily’s fortress, blasting large jumping bots and rocket launchers, soon coming to our first boss chamber. Inside were three robotic spheres that kind of looked like yo-yo’s to me, each one was imbued with a power from a robot boss featured in previous Mega Man games . . . together they would take turns blasting away at us! Once they were defeated we moved on, this time on the inside of Wily’s fortress. We dropped downwards and moved along rocky hallways lined with steel, navigating disappearing platforms and blasting away at all sorts of enemies we’d seen throughout the entire game. During this action we came to two more boss chambers like the one described above, upon exiting the third chamber this stage of the fortress was complete. The second stage began in a rocky, underground cavern where at first we had to navigate a long series of conveyor belts. To get to each one we had to jump over dangerous chasms, and the enemies that harassed us along the way included security bots as well as many varieties of small, irritating robots. After ascending some ladders and battling more enemies we came to a boss chamber. Inside of it was the pair of fire spitting birds that we encountered much earlier in the game (I don’t remember whose level they were from!). After laying waste to them we continued on, traversing some rooms that featured these huge steel pistons coming down at us from the ceiling. Once through that mess we came to the next boss chamber, which featured the octopus boss from earlier in the game also (again, can’t remember whose level it was from, I’m getting too old). Once free from this chamber we dropped down a deep chasm, avoiding spike traps as we went. At the bottom we forged onwards and jumped some chasms, avoiding spikes and engaging hard hats and turrets, before making our way upwards to a cavern with more steel pistons and conveyor belts. Once free of it all we came to the final boss chamber, which contained a new boss, a large robotic abomination named Crab Puncher! A lot easier than he looked though, done and done. In the third stage play began in a slick, metallic looking tunnel. After taking out a lone jumping bot we passed through to a large open air “boss” chamber, with a platform at the bottom of it which we could control. There were two large buttons we could step on that would steer the platform left or right as it sailed upwards towards our destination. Making said journey more treacherous were the hard hats we had to engage/avoid, as well as the many spike traps we needed to navigate around. Once past this section we went under water, using those platforms Mega Man had to jump back and forth on to get them to move on down the line. Along the way we engaged some shrimp bots and hard hats, at the end of this sequence we climbed upwards and came to another “boss”, aka the platform we had to navigate upwards through a maze of spike traps and hard hats. Trooping along after this sequence we passed through a chamber full of turrets and difficult jumps, soon after we dropped downwards and came to the final boss chamber . . . inside this one was an actual boss! Said boss was similar to the one in Mega Man 9 that was made out of plasma, where the goo would fly across the screen back and forth, the only vulnerable part of it being the shared eyeball. However, for this boss it was made of blocks instead, the blocks that comprised the walls and floor of the chamber we were in! This was a tough fight, but with the right weapon equipped we got it done. The fourth stage kicked off in a narrow, vertical space that saw us have to ascend many ladders, avoiding fire traps and engaging eyeball bots along the way. At the top of this sequence we came to a chamber that held 8 portals and yes, you guessed it, within these 8 portals were the game’s robot masters, who we had to then fight for the second time! In order we dispatched Blade Man, Chill Man, Nitro Man, Strike Man, Pump Man, Commando Man, Sheep Man, and Solar Man. Upon their collective defeat a ninth portal opened up and we passed through it, ready to engage the nefarious Dr. Wily!! Wily’s first form was a large robotic hovership, featuring a skull head with a pirate hat perched atop it! Out of it’s mouth were shot these large steel platforms we used to help defeat him (although they could also damage us if we weren’t careful), along with heat seeking missiles. We took him out and in doing so the skull was destroyed, revealing Dr. Wily’s cockpit underneath. We blasted away at him in his more vulnerable form and eventually scored the win, ending the stage! However, there was one more stage to be had this time around, as after this battle Wily took off to a secret pinnacle of his fortress, way up in space! Before we could get at him we passed through a number of stone tunnels, where these small drilling bots came at us through the ceiling and floor. Once through the sequence though, we dropped down to the very last boss chamber. Donning his usual UFO space ship vehicle, Wily appeared alongside a doppelganger. We had to quickly determine which Wily was the real one, and then take the fight to him. With the right weapon equipped this battle was the easiest of them all and we won the day, saving the world from the Roboenza virus! Another Mega Man game in the books, we done be pros, son!

9) Next up comes Jak X: Combat Racing, and I made a good amount of progress on it this time around. The first location I raced at was “Haven City”, the lone event I completed called “Clifftop Battlefield – Artifact Race”. In an artifact race you are placed in more of an arena environment and have to collect as many randomly generated artifacts as possible, the first racer to 10 wins. I won the gold medal for this event. The second location I visited was “Icelands”, where I ran four consecutive events. Said events included “Icebound Citadel – Death Race” (won the race, gold medal), “Mountaintop Highway – Turbo Dash” (a turbo dash is a race where you collect the plentiful turbo orbs along the way and charge them, turning them in to mines for the other races to crash in to, I won the race and scored a gold medal), “Icebound Citadel – Circuit Race” (won the race, gold medal) & “Frozen Speedway – Death Race” (won the race, gold medal). I then headed back to “Spargus”, where I ran a couple of events. First up was “Spargus City – Freeze Rally”. A freeze rally is a 2 lap race where you collect pickups along the way which freeze time, essentially lowering your overall race time. The racer with the best time at the end of it all wins the event. So of course I won and received a gold medal. The other event was “Precursor Temple – Circuit Race”, which I won the gold medal on. Next I went to “Kras City”, where I ran the “Dirt Stadium – Sport Hunt” event. This type of event takes place in an arena environment and is timed. Large robotic vehicles are randomly spawned and it is the racers’ objective to hunt down and destroy them. The person with the most kills when time expires wins! I ended up bagging 10 of them, earning me the gold medal. Next up I went to “Grand Prix” and took part in one of the qualifier events, called “Kras City – Circuit Race”. I won the 3 lap race and scored the gold medal. Finally, once again I headed back to “Spargus” and ran the “Spargus City: Death Race” event, which I won and earned a gold medal on. That’s it for now, but this game is really heating up, I love it!!

10) With only finishing one level per blog period, if that, on Goldeneye, I decided to start another N64 game in the meantime . . . and that choice was Mace: The Dark Age! The story behind this game is that it is the year 1300 A.D., and all through Europe and Asia strife, violence, thuggery, etc. are running rampant. At the heart of this maelstrom is an evil wizard named Asmodeus, who wields the powerful Mace of Tanis. This artifact feeds off the dark energies created by all of this warfare, and provides it’s owner with unimaginable power and the promise of everlasting life. Naturally many other people have come to covet the Mace, and so the challenge is on to step up and take it from it’s owner! This title is a street fighting style game, which pits about a dozen opponents against each other in consecutive rounds of one on one combat. Each fight is the best out of three rounds, make it through all opponents and you have won the game! I have not had much luck on this game as I am not a big fan of street fighting games, I find them very repetitious so I get bored of them quite quickly, especially if they are hard as this one is. Not helping is the fact that this game cartridge was given to me, so I don’t really have any instructions to go by. Anyhoo, I began on the normal difficulty setting and first used Executioner as my character. In the opening fight I lost to Mordos Kull in three rounds. Starting over I utilized Lord Deimos and this is how I fared: won vs. Mordos Kull in 2 rounds, won vs. Koyasha in 2 rounds, lost vs. Taria in 2 rounds (afterwards used a continue and chose Koyasha as my character instead), lost vs. Taria in 3 rounds (used continue and switched to Taria), won vs. Taria in 2 rounds, lost vs. Xiao Long in 3 rounds (used a continue), drew against Xiao Long in 3 rounds, lost vs. Executioner in 2 rounds (used continue and switched to Hell Knight), lost vs. Executioner in 3 rounds (continued) & lost vs. Executioner in 2 rounds. I then gave it another try, again using Executioner to start out. Here is how I fared that time: won vs. Mordos Kull in 2 rounds, won vs. Koyasha in 2 rounds, lost vs. Taria in 2 rounds (continued), lost vs. Taria in 3 rounds (continued and switched to Ragnar), won vs. Taria in 2 rounds, won vs. Xiao Long in 2 rounds, lost vs. Executioner in 2 rounds (continued and switched to Executioner), lost vs. Executioner in 2 rounds (continued and switched to Taria), lost vs. Executioner in 2 rounds (continued and switched to Takeshi), won vs. Executioner in 2 rounds, lost vs. Namira in 3 rounds (continued and switched to Taria) & lost vs. Namira in 2 rounds. At this point I switched the difficulty level over to Easy, as I was already getting tired of the game! To begin this latest round of play I chose Dregan as my character, and here is how I fared: won vs. Mordos Kull in 2 rounds, won vs. Koyasha in 3 rounds, won vs. Taria in 3 rounds, lost vs. Xiao Long in 3 rounds (continued and switched to Taria), lost vs. Xiao Long in 2 rounds (continued and switched to Lord Deimos), won vs. Xiao Long in 2 rounds, lost vs. Executioner in 3 rounds (continued and switched to Ragnar), lost vs. Executioner in 3 rounds (continued and switched to Takeshi), lost vs. Executioner in 3 rounds (continued and switched to Executioner), won vs. Executioner in 2 rounds, lost vs. Namira in 2 rounds (continued and switched to Namira) & lost vs. Namira in 2 rounds. Fuck!! My last ditch effort at beating the game began by choosing Executioner as my character one last time. And here is how it went: won vs. Mordos Kull in 3 rounds, won vs. Koyasha in 3 rounds, lost vs. Taria in 3 rounds (continued), won vs. Taria in 2 rounds, lost vs. Xiao Long in 3 rounds (continued), lost vs. Xiao Long in 3 rounds (continued), won vs. Xiao Long in 2 rounds, lost vs. Executioner in 2 rounds (continued and switched to Hell Knight), lost vs. Executioner in 2 rounds (continued), won vs. Executioner in 3 rounds, won vs. Namira in 3 rounds, lost vs. Takeshi in 2 rounds (continued and switched to Executioner) & lost vs. Takeshi in 2 rounds. And that’s it, I’m done . . . game goes away. I’m going to rate it a 6 here on Gamespot, because for what it is it’s a decent game. The graphics and sound are great, it’s just the overall concept I don’t really care for. The controls are OK, but I did have some issues with the jumping, and also with turning around when you end up with your back to an opponent. Not my cup of tea, but worth a look.

11) By finishing Mario Kart 7 of course I had to set out on a new 3DS adventure, the new game I chose was Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, which I had so been looking forward to as the first Luigi’s Mansion game was bloody amazing! And this game has not disappointed so far, it is SO much fun! Anyhoo, the story behind it is that one night a ghost blows up a purple moon that hangs over Evershade Valley, where professor E. Gadd is busily working away inside Gloomy Manor. Upon the moon’s destruction a purple haze hangs over the valley, and all of a sudden the normally peaceful ghosts that inhabit the region start going berserk! E. Gadd goes in to hiding and immediately contacts Luigi, ghost hunter extraordinaire. The plan is to find all shards of the Dark Moon and reunite them, which will hopefully cause the purple haze to dissipate and the ghosts to go back to normal . . . before they leave the valley and subject the rest of the world to their antics! So far I’ve completed the first four levels of the game, as such: “A-1: Poltergust 5000” (clear time of 19:05, 6 ghosts captured, and 713 treasure collected), “A-2: Gear Up” (clear time of 25:57, 16 ghosts captured, and 558 treasure collected), “A-3: Quiet Please!” (clear time of 8:04, 9 ghosts captured, and 497 treasure collected) & “A-4: Visual Tricks” (clear time of 48:57, 15 ghosts captured, and 485 treasure collected). So much FUN!!!!!!!

12) Lastly, since getting the Wii U up and running on James’ birthday, naturally we had to take it for a spin! The game we chose to start with was the one that came with the system, called New Super Mario Bros. U. The game looks and plays like a vintage, side scrolling Mario Bros. adventure, only with way updated graphics. And the story is a classic one. While dining at the castle, King Koopa and his seven Koopa Kids attack, capturing Princess Peach and flinging Mario, Luigi, and a couple of Toad people off in to the faraway woods. It was then our task to begin a journey back to the castle to get our princess back! So far we’ve completed the first four levels of the game, as follows: “Acorn Plains – 1: Acorn Plains Way”, “Acorn Plains – 2: Tilted Tunnel”, “Acorn Plains – Castle: Crushing-Cogs Tower” & “Acorn Plains – 3: Yoshi Hill”. We were able to find the 3 large gold coins in each level except the last one, where we’ve only found 2. We also defeated the boss in the castle level. Can’t wait to get back at it, Nintendo rules!!

“NNGRR” - The day I posted my last blog I also finished reading my latest literary adventure, titled Star Wars: Crucible. It is the very last book in the current Star Wars timeline, occurring about 45 years after the Battle of Yavin. The story picks up following Han and Leia, as they travel to a section of the galaxy that holds a volatile region called the Chiloon Rift. Their purpose is to meet Lando at the Red Ronto cantina. However, when instead one of Lando’s associates (Omad Kaeg) shows up in his place, the Solos immediately shift to high alert. After their meeting is interrupted by a Mandalorian looking to settle a score with Kaeg, backed by his reptilian Nargon thugs, the trio waste no time in getting out to the Rift and seek out Lando. The reason for Han and Leia’s visit is to try and help with a pirate problem Lando’s been having, making it impossible to run his business of refining the asteroids that roam through the Rift. Upon their arrival Lando is ending a meeting with Craitheus and Marvid Qreph, brothers who are of the Columi species. The pair are notorious geniuses, able to stay one step ahead of just about anybody who dare oppose them. During the meeting, the purpose of which is the Columi’s bid to purchase Lando’s operation, threats are made and things end badly. Not much later Luke arrives, after being tasked by Han and Leia to search in to the increasingly confusing scenario going on in the Rift, and he comes bearing some disturbing information. For the Qrephs are secretly in charge of a company named G.E.T., and this organization has been buying up tons and tons of businesses and corporations . . . almost as if they were planning some sort of galactic dominion! Before the team of heroes can properly investigate the Qrephs though, the brothers instigate a massive accident at Lando’s facility, killing around 30,000 workers in the process. To add insult to injury, not long afterwards they capture Han Solo, for what reasons his friends have no idea. The race is then on to find the Qrephs’ elusive secret base, rescue Han, and bring the pair to justice. However, along the way shit is going to get weird. For a Jedi named Ohali Soroc, who had been out in the region investigating the whereabouts of the rumoured Mortis Monolith but had gone missing not long in to her mission, suddenly is back on the scene. Sent to track her down were the Jedi pair of Ben Skywalker and Tahiri Veila. In the battle to come all of these heroes come up against not only the Qrephs, but Mandalorian mercenary Mirta Gev, and Lost Tribe of the Sith member Vestara Khai. Events all culminate within the Qrephs' secret base, which may or may not be located atop the Mortis Monolith, and if Luke, Leia and the rest of their comrades are able to pull the job off . . . will they be able to make sense of everything that unfolded along the way? This was a cool story featuring a lot of classic Star Wars characters, and kind of served as a passing of the torch story. At the end of it Luke decides he’s going to let somebody else lead the order, while Han and Leia finally opt for semi-retirement. There were some interesting new characters added, such as the Qrephs, and the presence of Vestara Khai added to the evolving saga that is the relationship between her and Ben Skywalker. Solid read!!

I kicked the following week off by finally watching Daredevil, and it’s an awesome flick! The movie focuses on a man named Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer doing pro bono work out of a small firm in Hell’s Kitchen which he shares with his partner, Frank Nelson. In a series of flashbacks we see how Matt lost his vision. For his father (Jack “the Devil” Murdock”) was an aging boxer with a bit of a drinking problem, but he always pushed Matt to become more than him, a doctor or a lawyer for example. His dad also dabbled a bit in organized crime, and although he told Matt he quit the racket, the evidence Matt views in a back alley one day suggests otherwise. Running away in horror Matt ends up causing an accident at a nearby facility, where a forklift pierces a barrel of bio-hazardous material, spraying him right in the eyes!! Waking up a time later Matt is horrified to find out he’d lost his sight . . . but it came with a bit of a surprise. For all of his other senses (along with a new sense of sound based radar), and his body itself, had become many times sharper . . . and he immediately starts to hone his skills and instincts. Matt and his father decide to both put their best feet forward for the future, and for a time things were great. However, when one night the crime boss Jack had done work for asked him to throw a fight, Jack doesn’t follow suit. A short time after the match ended Jack was dead, killed in an alley, with only a single rose left on his cooling body, which Matt crushes in his hand. The story then picks back up in the here and now, where at night Matt goes by the name Daredevil . . . the man without fear. Wearing a costume in honour of his father, made to look like a devil, he prowls the streets and rights wrongs, delivering his own brand of justice not always achieved in the courtroom. But when one day Matt meets a young beauty named Elektra Natchios, his world changes big time, for a couple of reasons. Although a bit standoffish at first, Elektra soon falls for Matt and the two make a major connection. However, Elektra’s father is Nikolas Natchios, a local millionaire who has ties to the fabled “Kingpin” of crime, a solitary being who has apparently consolidated all crime activity across the city. When Nikolas says he wants out of the business, his days are numbered. At a party one evening a romantic night for Matt and Elektra turns violent as the Kingpin makes his move and attempts to have Nik snuffed out, employing a crazed lunatic dubbed “Bullseye” to do the job. Matt dons his garb and aims to protect Elektra’s father, and nearly does so, but in the end Bullseye claims his victim, killing him with Daredevil’s own weapon. This creates a problem as Elektra then swears vengeance on Daredevil, and she is no slouch in the fisticuffs department either! On a rooftop one night she sniffs out her prey and stabs Daredevil through the shoulder, moments later finding out it is Matt beneath the mask and seeing the error of her ways! But soon Bullseye shows up, and in a drawn out fight seemingly kills Elektra. Enraged with grief and guilt Daredevil goes after Bullseye and shows no mercy . . . once that task is out of the way it’s straight to the top. For the Kingpin’s true identity has been leaked, and it is one Wilson Fisk who is holding the reigns to this crime syndicate. But Fisk is huge, and he is mean . . . will Daredevil survive the fight of his life, or will the Kingpin rule over New York City for the indefinite future? This was a very cool film, I love Ben Affleck, especially when he does roles like this. Daredevil is such an overlooked but awesome character, it was great that they chose to do a feature film on him. And with the sexy Jennifer Garner backing him up as Elektra, and Michael Clarke Duncan as the evil Kingpin, it’s a pretty star studded and well casted affair. Bravo!!!

On our way to Grimsby for Thanksgiving James and I watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the van during the trip, and it was awesome! As the film kicks off Peter Parker is doing his usual thing, helping bust bad guys in the city of New York, and things are going well enough with his love, Gwen Stacey. However, around each turn he sees the ghost of Gwen’s father, and continually hears his request to stay away from his daughter for her own safety, and thus Peter is having trouble living with his decision to stay involved with her. Before he can do anything about that dilemma though, he has to prevent a group of thugs from stealing a load of plutonium being transported by Oscorp. During the action Peter saves an electrical engineer from Oscorp named Max Dillon, and let’s just say that Max is more than a little mentally unstable. From that point onwards Max thinks he and Spider-Man are best friends! Anyhoo, after all the dust has settled and Spider-Man has saved the day, he eventually confronts Gwen about his feelings and the pair break up. In other parts of the city though, a couple of other events are unfolding which will truly test Peter’s mettle. In an industrial accident at Oscorp, Max Dillon gets electrocuted to the Nth degree, so much so that he is reborn as Electro, a being able to feed off of and manipulate electricity to disastrous results! Also, Harry Osborn, son of Oscorp’s founder Norman Osborn, returns to town from boarding school as his father is about to pass away from a hereditary disease . . . a disease that Harry will soon start suffering from as well. Before Norman expires though, he leaves Harry all of his life’s work, research and experiments he’s done to try and slow and ultimately prevent his condition. All Harry thinks he needs to complete the process is some of Spider-Man’s blood!! Putting two and two together, Harry eventually realizes that Peter is Spider-Man, and reaches out to him for help. But with the potential dangers associated with giving Harry his blood, Peter refuses . . . needless to say Harry doesn’t take it too well! He breaks the recently captured Electro out of his confinement, and redubs his own self the Green Goblin, using some of Oscorp’s tech to complete his transformation. With these two highly dangerous foes working in tandem to bring not only Spider-Man to his knees, but also New York City as a whole, Peter is more in over his head than he’s ever been! However, after pressing his Aunt May for any information she has on what his long deceased parents were really up to all those years ago when they abandoned him, Peter may finally discover the secret of what they were working on when they perished . . . and he’ll attempt to use that information to claim victory. Can the crafty web slinger pull it off and take this fearsome duo down, or are he and the citizens of his fair city in for a nasty and violent future? These new Spider-Man movies have been getting slagged, but I’ve absolutely loved them! That Garfield kid is so likeable, and Emma Stone is too delicious. I saw something online about the “faulty physics” behind the movie, and I just wanted to tell whoever wrote the article to fuck right off. It’s a super hero movie, what about it is supposed to be realistic? Seriously, let . . . it . . . go! I loved the two new villains, and the intense soundtrack behind the fight scenes really increased the anticipation driving the action sequences. So good!

On the holiday Monday we went to the movies and saw Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, as James had shown a real interest in it! The central character in this film is Alexander, an 11 year old boy who is mostly ignored in a family that features three other siblings. And what’s worse, he continually has bad luck, especially on this day. When Alexander goes to school, while trying to talk up the girl he likes in science class, he accidentally lights the class room on fire. He also finds out that a cool kid in his grade is throwing an amazing birthday party for himself the following day, the same day Alexander is supposed to be having his party. So now nobody is going to his party, not even his best friend! Upon arriving home after his terrible day Alexander can’t get a word in edgewise at the dinner table, as everybody else in the family is sharing their good news. His dad Ben, who has been unemployed for some time, may just land a job designing video games. Mom Kelly is releasing a new children’s book the following day, and if all goes well it could spell promotion. Older brother Anthony is going for his driver’s test the next day, and is following that up by taking his hot girlfriend, Celia, to the prom. Older sister Emily has nabbed the lead role in their school’s production of Peter Pan. And baby brother Trevor, well he is just extremely cute and the apple of everyone’s eye! After dinner Alexander has some ice cream all by himself and makes a wish, a wish that his family could experience a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day themselves, and see what it feels like. Lo and behold Alexander gets his wish!! The next morning everybody sleeps in, Trevor’s soother (the only one he likes) is destroyed in the garbage disposal, Kelly’s car won’t start because Emily left the lights on in it overnight, Anthony wakes up with a massive zit on his forehead and an angry girlfriend on his hands for a phone conversation discretion the previous night, and Ben has to take Trevor to his job interview as nobody else is able to look after him. And that is just the start of the day, from there events snowball and see the family van get virtually destroyed, Anthony being suspended from school, Emily sick and going loopy from ingesting too much cough syrup, Kelly’s job at risk due to a massive misprint in her book, and Trevor painting his face green with a marker during Ben’s not so great interview. Through all the trials and tribulations though, the Coopers stick together and weather the rest of what is to come. In the end, after having the worst day of their lives, the Coopers’ luck finally begins to turn around just a little bit, and a desperate plan to throw Alexander the best birthday party ever just may come to fruition, which would put a positive exclamation mark on one hell of a day! This was an excellent family style movie, great for viewers of all ages. The story was hilarious, and unfortunately all too realistic and believable for those of us who have busy, child filled lives! And with the likes of Steve Carrell, Jennifer Garner, Bella Thorne, Megan Mullally and Jennifer Coolidge involved, there’s some pretty funny talent behind this production.

Later that night I decided to watch the first of my scary movies this year, as Halloween was in the air and fast approaching. The film I decided to view was Evil Dead 2, a cult classic! This film is apparently a sequel to the first film, although it seems more like a slightly rearranged remake. I can’t seem to find a definitive answer on this, but no matter what it’s a great flick. The story opens up with a description of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, otherwise known as the Book of the Dead. It is a book that disappeared around 1300 A.D., and it contains powerful passages capable of releasing evil, dangerous spirits upon the world. Revert to current time and our main character Ash is taking his girlfriend, Linda, to a remote cabin in the woods for the weekend, for a little bit of romantic hokey pokey time! However, not long after their arrival Ash discovers an old school tape recorder and curiously pushes play. A recording of a man, an archaeologist, begins describing how he found the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead . . . the book which just so happens to be sitting on the desk Ash is occupying while listening to the recording! The cabin they have “borrowed” belongs to this archaeologist, but there is no sign of him anywhere. Shortly in to the recording this person begins speaking some of the incantations found in the book, which unknowing to Ash releases the spirits of the dead in the woods surrounding the cabin. This territory suddenly becomes a very dangerous place! Linda is the first victim. One of these spirits kills and then possesses her, forcing Ash to behead the very love of his life! Surviving the encounter it’s not long before Ash too is possessed, but as day breaks the possession ends as said spirits are forced back in to hiding. After waking up later that day Ash tries to flee, but the bridge on the road leading to the cabin has been destroyed. Ash’s only option is to head back to the cabin and hole up, in an attempt to make it through the night and explore his options the following day. However, Ash is in for a mighty struggle, and when Linda is reanimated yet again by one of the spirits things get even worse, as her severed head bites down on Ash’s hand and infects it! Our hero is then forced to sever his own hand. Eventually a group of four people arrive at the cabin, whom Ash almost kills accidentally . . . and understandably! For his troubles they throw Ash in the cellar. These people include the daughter of the archaeologist who owns the cabin, her research partner (for they are also archaeologists like her father, and have recently uncovered more pages from the Necronomicon), and two locals who had to guide them there due to the blown out bridge. Soon enough the newcomers realize that Ash is not their enemy, and they pull him out of the cellar just in the nick of time. But as the night goes on their numbers start to dwindle, and in the end it’s only Ash and Annie left as the spirits are coming even harder! Their final hope is to retrieve the newfound pages of the Necronomicon, pages that can help send the spirits back to their imprisonment. However, things don’t go exactly as planned and Ash is transported back to the year 1300 A.D., in what appears to be some place in Britain. At first the knights who surround him have imprisonment in mind, but after Ash kills a demon the locals refer to as a “Deadite” (with his shotgun and the chainsaw he now sports on his handless left arm), he is then revered for his powers . . . and that is where the movie ends. This is a frightening but at the same time quite hilarious horror movie that really seemed to set the bar back in the day, as it has always been very well received by audiences and critics alike. I’ve seen Army of Darkness numerous times but not the Evil Dead films that came before it, so it was great to finally see how the events unfolded that sent Ash back in time. Such a good flick, gotta love Bruce Campbell!!

Also that same night (very late that night!) I finished reading the book I was under the influence of at the time, called Alien: Sea of Sorrows. And what a read, indeed! This story takes place many hundreds of years after the last Alien book I read just a short while back, called Alien: Out of the Shadows. The action unfolds on the same planet (LV178) in which Ripley and the crew of the Marion discovered an ancient alien spaceship buried beneath a Trimonite mine, which unfortunately was infested by a nasty horde of some crazy alien species! Since the events of that last story the aliens have gone dormant, with their food sources having run low, and Ripley having destroyed most of their queens. In the centuries that followed civilization sprung up as the planet was terraformed and dubbed New Galveston, a community now hustling and bustling with a growing population. However, a bizarre area of the planet has recently turned to black sand, with these strange silicon like protrusions sticking up out of it . . . the locals have named it the “Sea of Sorrows”. In charge of figuring out what is causing this phenomenon is a higher up named Alan Decker. Before he can proceed too far in to his initial investigation though, a mishap with a piece of survey equipment causes massive trauma to his leg, during the process of trying to get him to safety he experiences some form of seizures in which he blurts out all manner of gibberish nobody can comprehend. Nobody but the Weyland-Yutani corporation, that is! When Decker awakens from his recovery, he is basically let go from his job and forced to see a small number of “doctors”, although the situation doesn’t feel quite right to him. Soon enough he discovers the reason for this, as he is abducted from his apartment back on Earth and brought before a hard assed bitch named Andrea Rollins, a powerful figure working for Weyland-Yutani. She plays back a recording of the gibberish Decker was muttering during his accident, and although it makes no sense to him certain key phrases he would not possibly be able to know anything about, such as the mention of Ellen Ripley’s name, greatly interest the corporation. For Decker, as they have found out, is a long lost descendant of Ripley’s, and furthermore he happens to have empathic capabilities. The knowledge he was muttering during his seizures could only be gleaned because he has made a connection with the dormant aliens laying deep beneath the Sea of Sorrows, who appear to have a shared hive mind and realize that Decker is a descendant of Ripley’s, who the aliens have dubbed the “Destroyer” . . . and they want nothing more than to tear him limb from limb!! With Decker’s future existence in the hands of Weyland-Yutani he has no choice but to agree to accompany a team of mercenaries back to the Sea of Sorrows, and attempt to procure not only a live sample of the alien species for the corporation’s interest, but also any information that can be gleaned from the crashed alien ship . . . and Decker will serve as their guide due to his connection with the creatures! Upon arrival on New Galveston it doesn’t take long for things to go south. At first everything is peachy keen as a team of scientists that preceded the team deep in to the mine find out that there is an entire city located beyond the crashed space ship, giving evidence that the ship had not crash landed there, but mostly likely was brought down during takeoff, probably trying to escape from the aliens! Before they can celebrate this massive find though, the team of mercenaries start losing squads one by one, they soon realize they are up against more numbers than they thought they would be and what’s worse, the creatures pursuing them are evil incarnate! As the events unfold deep beneath the Sea of Sorrows, Decker and his new “friends” must fight for their very existence, but against overwhelming odds will any of them make it back to the surface and off planet, or are they all doomed to become breeding fodder for these powerful beasts? This book was every bit as good as the first one and captures the whole fear and mystique behind this franchise just right. I enjoyed the new cast of characters, but I also really enjoyed how they connected it to that first story, creating more of a detailed time line of events just like you’d find in the Star Wars universe. And the parts written from the aliens’ point of view is pretty cool, it helps us to understand just what makes these creatures tick and how they operate. I so can’t wait for the third and final entry of this trilogy to be released, only a month to go!

Later that week I watched the original Halloween, which I hadn’t seen in a number of years!! The story of the deranged psychopath Michael Myers starts off in Haddonfield, Illinois, in the year 1963. We witness a mysterious person murder a young girl in a home on Halloween night, upon the incident’s conclusion we find out that the culprit was a then 6 years old Michael Myers . . . who just offed his own sister! Fast forward 15 years and the scene briefly shifts to Smith’s Grove, Illinois, where Michael has been incarcerated since this incident all those years ago. The doctor who has been studying him all this time, Sam Loomis, is heading to the facility where Michael is housed for another visit. However, upon reaching the prison Sam and the nurse that is along for the journey are ransacked by the lunatic, who has found a way to escape from his captivity! Michael immediately heads for Haddonfield, the date is October 30 . . . only one day away from Halloween. With the insights Dr. Loomis has gleaned from studying Michael’s behaviour, he knows exactly what the killer has planned. Michael is going to head back to Haddonfield and relive the very crime he committed there in the past . . . as many times as possible! Dr. Loomis soon afterwards heads for Haddonfield as well, along the way he tries to notify the authorities of the terror that is headed their way. However, he is not taken all that seriously as nobody has seen Michael Myers, and there have been no strange incidents reported. But Michael is indeed in town, and due to random circumstance has set his sights on a young teenager named Laurie Strode, along with her friends Lynda, Annie, and Bob. On Halloween night Laurie is stuck babysitting at a neighbour’s house, while Lynda and Annie are preferring to get their party on! As the night unfolds Michael stalks his prey, saving Laurie for last. At first she doesn’t notice anything awry, but the little incidents begin to pile up and put her on edge. Eventually Laurie comes face to face with this evil monster and she is then in for the fight of her life, using anything she can find as a weapon as Michael Myers pursues her through the house. With Dr. Loomis finally arriving on the scene will he get there in time to save Laurie from a violent end, or will Michael Myers claim even more victims? This is a classic horror movie that fits right in with the likes of Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, certainly a must for any horror fans’ collection. Considering it was made in 1978 the film has held up very well, it’s still full of suspense and offers some good thrills. The young eye candy is pretty tasty too, especially the shirtless P.J. Soles! And the film introduced Jamie Lee Curtis to the world, so there’s a big win too. Quality flick!!

Just as the work week was ending this past week I finished reading another book, called The New Avengers: Breakout. The story starts out with newly minted S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye), doing his thing aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. Suddenly he notices a red haired beauty who strolls in and acts like she owns the place, and she pretty much fools everybody . . . everybody but Hawkeye that is! He notices the subtle details, as is his way, so after she makes an exit he takes off in pursuit. Hawkeye eventually catches up to her, after a couple sequences of back and forth hand to hand combat he eventually takes her captive. In the process the two develop a quick rapport and attraction, even though they both know they can’t trust the other. This fact is not lost on Hawkeye’s partner, Jessica Drew, formerly known as Spider-Woman. When they learn that this femme fatale is the infamous Black Widow, they are concerned even further by the incident as she has a lot of innocent blood on her hands and is very dangerous. In Nick Fury’s absence Captain Maria Hill tasks Hawkeye, along with Jessica and Luke Cage, with taking the Black Widow down to the Raft for questioning, a special prison where all of the most dangerous super villains are contained. However, in the process of taking her in for questioning a prison breakout is hatched, all of a sudden these few super heroes, with the unknown quantity of Black Widow in their midst, are suddenly faced with the threat of hordes of loose villains on their hands! Showing up on the scene to help out are Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Man though, and it isn’t long before they recapture about half of the inmates (of the 80+ that first busted loose!). But that leaves quite a few still out there on the lam. Due to the nature of this incident, Tony Stark proposes a plan to Captain America and the rest of these heroes, to create a new team and dub themselves the New Avengers!! The team consists of Iron Man, Captain American, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Hawkeye, and Jessica Drew (who is secretly regaining her powers). At first they are less a team though, than a collection of individuals in great need of cohesion. Nonetheless they battle through it and, after gleaning some intelligence that suggests Electro was behind the prison breakout, confront him and reel him in. During their “questioning” Electro informs them that Karl Lykos is behind the whole plot. Lykos is a villain capable of transforming himself in to a Pteranodon and is based in the Savage Lands, a strange place in Antarctica that contains all sorts of prehistoric life. So the New Avengers head to the Savage Lands with a plan to end this threat once and for all, but once there they find out that a battle not only against the combined might of all these escaped villains, but also Mother Nature, may be more difficult than they first assumed. They also find Black Widow on site, who escaped during the prison breakout, so what is her role in all of this? As well they find out that S.H.I.E.L.D. is on site in the Savage Lands and up to some shady activity. When the dust settles will the New Avengers be any closer to recapturing these escaped psychopaths, and will they understand any of the events that unfolded along the way? This was a very cool story that gave a lot of insight in to both Hawkeye and Black Widow’s characters, and it was neat to see how she first came to join the Avengers . . . at least in this incarnation anyways. This is the last Marvel book I’ve been able to find, so it’s kind of sad!!

Earlier this week, for my final scary movie of this blog post, I chose to watch the original Alien movie! I’ve watched Aliens about a billion times in my life, but this first one I hadn’t seen in some time, so it was nice to finally see it again. This film takes place way in the future when space travel is common place, the entire galaxy everybody’s own personal playground. The main subjects of the film are a crew of seven aboard the Nostromo, a space craft responsible for hauling larges loads, in this case a shipment of iron ore. The Nostromo is in the process of flying back to Earth, it’s entire crew all deep within hypersleep, a form of induced hibernation that can last for years if needed, with the individual inside not aging as quickly as they normally would. However, suddenly the ship rouses the crew out of their hypersleep, upon investigating the reason why Dallas (the ship’s captain) explains to his charges (Ripley, Lambert, Kane, Brett, Parker, and Ash) that a distress signal was just picked up coming from a nearby, uninhabited system. It is company policy for the crew to respond in such circumstances, and provide aid to the best of their ability. Soon enough the Nostromo lands on the surface of the planet where this transmission originated. Dallas, Lambert and Kane head outside in their vac suits and see what they can find . . . and boy do they find something!! The remains of a crash landed alien space craft lie just over the horizon, but in exploring it’s inner depths Kane encounters a strange creature that ends up attaching itself to his face and knocking him unconscious! Dallas and Lambert immediately bring him back to the Nostromo, where science officer Ash takes a look. Kane is alive, but there is no telling what this thing is that has bonded with him. In trying to extract it from his head they find it has highly corrosive acid for blood, so they are pretty much hooped! Eventually the creature comes off by itself and dies, soon enough Kane wakes up and is back on his feet like nothing happened. But later that night at dinner Kane goes in to spasms and in the end a small, alien creature bursts forth out of his chest, skittering away in to the shadows! After the initial shock of what happened to their crew mate wears off, the group rebounds and sets out to capture this little monster. To their grim surprise though, they find out that this creature grows at an unthinkable rate, and it is fierce and highly dangerous . . . literally a perfect hunter. One by one the remaining crew get picked off by the beast, until just Ripley, Lambert and Parker remain (after discovering that Ash was an android, and played a major part in the crew’s ultimate doom!). A desperate plan is hatched to load up the small shuttle the Nostromo contains with provisions, and escape the doomed ship, taking their chances on an uncertain journey rather than stay on board with the creature. The plan goes well enough until the alien catches up with Lambert and Parker . . . which ends up leaving Ripley all by her lonesome. Does she have the wherewithal to escape with her life, or will she cower in fear before the alien like the others before her, and meet the same fate? And also, what will become of the ship’s resident pussy cat, Jones? This movie is so classic, and so creepy. It really was a fantastic introduction to a world that would eventually grow and keep on growing, and with each evolution just keep getting that much better and that much scarier! For a 1979 flick it holds up amazingly well, the effects and environments featured in this movie are pretty awesome. And then there is Sigourney Weaver . . . need I say more!?

Finally, lately I’ve been listening to a CD I picked up a short while ago, none other than Boston’s Greatest Hits! Boston is a long standing band originating from, you guessed it, Boston! They formed in the mid 1970’s, and were the brainchild of Tom Scholz, who played lead guitar and leant backing vocals to the band’s sound. He recruited Brad Delp (guitar and lead vocals), Barry Goudreau (guitar), Fran Sheehan (bass), and Sib Hashian (drums) to complete the outfit, and soon after a record deal followed. The truth is though that the band actually had a lot of members enter and leave the fold over the years, but this lineup is the one they first had success with in the mid/late 1970’s. Tom Scholz was the band’s main songwriter, but on top of that he was also a bit of a musical innovator. After building a recording studio in his home’s basement, he also designed a set of pedals that would give the band their signature guitar sound, which has been described as almost violin like. And Boston sure did have a signature sound. Their guitars were layered and amazingly harmonized, as were their vocals, which were even further enhanced by Delp’s unbelievable range. There is no chance you’ve never heard a Boston tune before, they are that good! This collection contains 16 of their biggest songs between their inception up until the mid/late 1990’s. My favourite tracks on the album include “More Than A Feeling”, “Peace Of Mind”, “Don’t Look Back”, “Cool The Engines”, “Feelin’ Satisfied”, “Foreplay/Long Time” & “Smokin’”. Essential listening, people!

I am . . . IRON MAN!!!! Meh, I'm more of a Happy Hogan, actually . . .

Well, well, well . . . it’s been a while since my last blog, and that’s because the end of summer/start of fall has been a friggin’ busy one! The weekend after my last blog we didn’t have much going on to start out, but on the Sunday we got up early and ran the Terry Fox Run, doing the full 10km. We then went out for a quick bite at Subway, which was inside a Mac’s Milk variety store, and whilst there I found one of those small, remote controlled helicopters I’ve always wanted for dirt cheap! And let me tell you, the thing works like butter, so smooth. We then raced home and got ready for the afternoon, as we were taking James to the Western Fair for a date with his little girlfriend, Addison. It was closing day so it was 2 for 1 rides, thus the place was packed with all manner of crazy people. The kids had fun though, and we even rode the Gravitron for the first time in many, many years.

The following weekend James and I were on our own for a bit of a boys’ weekend. On the Saturday a couple of mrs. darthcobain17’s friends from Hamilton came down, as one of them had to play in a soccer game at the university, due to the homecoming weekend. They then went for lunch, went shopping, and eventually headed downtown for dinner and some carousing. In the meantime James and I went to his golf lessons, then went to BestBuy to trade in some of his Kijiji money for Disney Infinity characters, got A & W for lunch, then went home to play games all afternoon, ending the day with some Kraft Dinner and a couple episodes of Inspector Gadget! On the Sunday mrs. darthcobain17 had a bridal shower to go to, so Jimmer and I took my car to the shop to get it’s emissions test, then met my dad at the pitch and putt course for 9 holes. Afterwards we all met at my parents’ house for dinner.

As for this past weekend, it was boys weekend at the cottage, oooooooohh yeah!! We got up there midday on Friday and then left Sunday morning. Let’s just say a ton of beer was drunk, along with some Caesars, and much smoke was inhaled to boot. We went fishing but didn’t catch anything, explored the remains of the “haunted house” that’s been abandoned up there for years, and our buddy Paul even brought his ATV so we took it out for some spins. The weather was probably the most beautiful it had been up there all summer, it was amazing. The best part was that it was fall sun, so I could be outside all day and not get sunburned! It had rained so much before we got up there that most of the docks were under water, and those that weren’t had busted loose and floated all over the lake. It was wild, there were docks everywhere, pedal boats, sailboats, even a loose SeaDoo floating in a bay all by it’s lonesome. It was like nothing I’d ever seen up there before. Such a fun weekend though, and a great way to end the summer.

As for the weekdays in between, the Monday after my last blog our pool closed, so that was depressing. But I was swimming in 61 degree water at that point, so I suppose it was time. I’ve been continuing to bike to work, James began Beavers again as well as his swimming lessons, and we had a couple nights of entertaining to do when the wife’s dad came down for an overnight and one of James’ friends from school came over for a play date. Thank the maker all this is over though, I need some routine and inaction back in my life! Anyhoo, amongst all this craziness I was able to get a shit load done, the gruesome details are as follows . . .

1) I completed the next series of my season on MLB 2K11, this time hosting the Minnesota Twins. The results were as such: won vs. Minnesota 13-4, won vs. Minnesota 8-3 & won vs. Minnesota 9-1.

2) On NHL ’04 I played the next four games of my season, which unfolded as so: won vs. Florida 15-5, won @ New York Rangers 10-1, won @ New York Islanders 8-3 & won @ Florida 11-1.

3) The jig is finally up for Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, as I was finally able to reach the end of that title! Picking up where I left off I was summoned to the Guardians’ chamber, where they informed me the collected data cores suggested the Manhunters had allied themselves with the Spider Guild of the Vega system . . . my job was to head to Vega and meet up with Sinestro. This led to the final level of the game, which unfolded on Vega. Upon my arrival the first task was to hack some security systems in order to access the lower levels. So I set out and made my way across the very natural, but also very insectile looking landscape. Along the way I took out tons of Manhunter troops and hacked my first computer system, before moving on and coming upon some spiders I had to dispose of. Not long afterwards I came to two more computer systems, both of which I hacked, afterwards I was tasked with finding Sinestro. So I forged ahead, taking out more spiders, including a new flying variety. As the action unfolded I came across some bigger spiders, as well as some large robots. Continuing on in this fashion for a little while I eventually made my way in to a more futuristic looking area, which was full of explosive mines and different types of Manhunters than what I’d come across to that point on Vega. Soon enough I entered a large chamber that contained a massive insect, which looked like some kind of centipede . . . so gross! I battled it and chased it away, but each time it escaped I arrived at another chamber in which I had to battle it again. Each fight utilized one of my various special moves including grapple, missiles, shield deflect, etc., so in order to completely destroy this pest I had to engage it four or five different times! But ultimately I triumphed and upon the beast’s defeat Sinestro was released. While Hal Jordan soaked in the good feelings over his impressive victory, the Guardians mused on the future of the galaxy and Hal’s role within it . . . cut scene, and game over!! This was a fun game, well worth a play, I’m going to rate it an 8 here on Gamespot. However, I would have rated it 9+ if only it had come with an instruction manual. With the website the instructions were supposed to be located at now defunct, and only learning Green Lantern’s moves once at the start of the game, it was very hard to remember all of the various commands over the course of the game, especially once you didn’t play it for a while. That sucked big time, but in essence the game is a pretty good one.

4) With our trip to BestBuy to get more Disney Infinity characters done, Jimmer and I made sure to make full use of them and get back at this game! A lot of stuff was opened up for us too, with our purchase of Mater, and the two pack of Lightning McQueen and Holly Shiftwell (which also included the Piston Cup). The adventures/games that we completed this time around included “Find Luigi” (had to locate Luigi in the town of Radiator Springs), “Calibrate GPS” (follow green arrows around Radiator Springs to calibrate our GPS), “Find Guido!” (Guido wanted to play hide and seek in town, our mission was to find the little rascal), “Jump at Flo’s” (in order to bring in more customers to the V8 Café, Flo asked us to perform a big jump outside the restaurant), “Rescue Ramone” (Flo was looking for her lost hubby, so we had to search Radiator Springs until we found him), “Tow Ramone” (Ramone had run out of gas, so we hooked him up and hauled him back to the V8 Café), “Drive to the Farm” (Chick Hicks showed up and asked us to race him to the farm, which we did, and won), “Take a Practice Lap” (took a practice lap around the Radiator Springs race track, in order to prepare for an upcoming race against Chick), “Chick’s Challenge” (defeated Chick Hicks in a 5 lap race around the race track), “Jump into the Barn” (we jumped in to the barn’s loft, on a dare by one of the town’s citizens), “Little Bo Beep” (had to find and tow some scattered tractors, taking them back to the barn), “Grab ‘n’ Go” (a collectibles challenge, grabbed 12 collectibles in the time limit given, the easy level), “Grab ‘n’ Go” (a collectibles challenge, grabbed 18 collectibles in the time limit given, the medium level), “Grab ‘n’ Go” (a collectibles challenge, grabbed 25 collectibles in the time limit given, the hard level), “Farm Race” (won a 3 lap race around the Radiator Springs race track, on the easy level), “Farm Race” (won a 3 lap race around the Radiator Springs race track, on the medium level), “Farm Race” (won a 3 lap race around the Radiator Springs race track, on the hard level), “Monster Match” (a monster truck race, had to pass through 13 checkpoints within the given time limit, on the easy level), “Monster Match” (a monster truck race, had to pass through 13 checkpoints within the given time limit, on the medium level), “Monster Match” (a monster truck race, had to pass through 13 checkpoints within the given time limit, on the hard level), “Stunt Practice” (performed four acrobatic jump stunts for an interested townsperson), “Luigi in Town” (met Luigi back in town, in Radiator Springs), “Purchase Turbo” (purchased Turbo Level 1 for our vehicles) & “Drifting Drill” (got some drifting pointers from Luigi, then tested them out on the new race track). And the adventures just keep on coming, more soon!

5) Another game I finished and can now put away is Lego: The Hobbit! The mop up operation on this one wasn’t nearly as intense as most of the other Lego games I’ve played, because I just didn’t understand how to use the resources I collected to make the various objects I needed to complete all the side quests, or even how to unlock the cheats contained in the red bricks. So I basically just purchased the few characters I thought I’d need to mop up some of the game levels and took it from there. I began by purchasing the Beorn, Beorn Bear, Saruman, Gollum, and Azog characters. Afterwards I plowed through all of the levels I hadn’t fully completed in my first round of play, and they unfolded as such: “The Mines of Erebor” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Thror character), “The Coming of Smaug” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Thror [Armor] character), “The Sickness of Thror” (completed the last 8 challenges, unlocking the Balin [Young] character and obtaining the Red Brick [Stud Magnet extra]), “Bag End” (completed the last 6 challenges, unlocking the Frodo character and obtaining the Red Brick [Helium Voices extra]), “The Battle of Moria” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “Azog the Defiler” (completed the last 3 challenges, unlocking the Thrain character), “The Mountain Trolls” (completed 2 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “Troll Battle” (completed the last 3 challenges, unlocking the Ori [Pants Unarmed] character), “The Dawn” (completed the last 3 challenges, unlocking the Ori [Lake-town] character), “Troll Hoard” (completed the last 6 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Red, no Ring] character and obtaining the Red Brick [X4 Stud Multiplier extra]), “Gundabad Wargs” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Oin [Lake-town] character), “The Hidden Valley” (completed the last 3 challenges, unlocking the Thorin [Orcrist] character), “Thunder Battle” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Yazneg character and obtaining the Red Brick [Bubble Effects extra]), “Riddles in the Dark” (completed 6 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “The Return of Azog” (completed 3 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “The Legend of Beorn” (completed 3 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “Beorn’s Homestead” (completed 5 more challenges [for 8/10 total]), “Mirkwood” (completed the last 5 challenges, unlocking the Dori [Pants Unarmed] character and obtaining the Red Brick [Precious Gems extra]), “Bilbo’s Escape Plan” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “The Elven Gate” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “Kingsfoil” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “The High Fells Tomb” (completed the last 2 challenges, unlocking the Thorin [Lake-town] character), “Dol Guldur” (completed 1 more challenge [for 8/10 total]), “The Enemy” (completed 2 more challenges [for 8/10 total]) & “Durin’s Day” (completed the last 2 challenges, unlocking the Dwalin [Armor] character and obtaining the Red Brick [X8 Stud Multiplier extra]). The last bit of business I attended to was purchase as many additional characters as I could with what studs I had remaining. The ones I obtained this time around included Yazneg, Thrain, Thranduil, Thror, Thror (Armor), Tauriel (Lake-town), Thorin (Armor), Thorin (Lake-town), Ori (Pants), Oin (Lake-town), Orc, Orc (Wig), Gundabad Orc, Gundabad Orc (Wig), Grinnah, Kili (Armor), Kili (Pants), Frodo, Galadriel, Dwalin (Pants), Fili (Armor), Dori (Young), Bombur (Sausage), Bolg, Bilbo (Mountain), Bilbo (Old), Bilbo (Beige), Bard the Bowman (Lake-town) & Bifur (Pants). I would have given this game a 10, but with how hard it is to purchase/obtain most of the unlockable content, I’m giving it a 9 instead. Lots of fun though!!

6) More races were completed on Trackmania: Build to Race, although the gold medals sure are getting a lot more scarce . . . silver is the new gold, basically!! Anyways, here is how play unfolded this time around: “Snow B1” (first place, gold medal), “Snow B2” (second place, silver medal), “Snow B3” (third place, bronze medal), “Snow B4” (first place, gold medal), “Snow B5” (first place, gold medal), “Rally B1” (second place, silver medal), “Rally B2” (second place, silver medal), “Rally B3” (second place, silver medal), “Rally B4” (second place, silver medal), “Rally B5” (third place, bronze medal), “Coast B1” (first place, gold medal), “Coast B2” (first place, gold medal), “Coast B3” (second place, silver medal), “Coast B4” (second place, silver medal) & “Coast B5” (second place, silver medal). Lots more to come!

7) The final series of races is in the books on Mario Kart 7, although it took some replays to eventually get them all won! It was finally time to play “Grand Prix” mode on the 150 c.c. class, and it sure was a lot more tricky. First up was the “Mushroom Cup” circuit. There I placed second, second, first and second respectively, using the Koopa Troopa as my character. Said races included “Toad Circuit”, “Daisy Hills”, “Cheep Cheep Lagoon” & “Shy Guy Bazaar”. I won the overall competition with a total of 34 points, unlocking the Daisy character for my troubles! I then participated in the “Flower Cup” series, using Daisy as my racer. I placed first, fifth, third, and first respectively, and said races included “Wuhu Loop”, “Mario Circuit”, “Music Park” & “Rock Rock Mountain”. I finished with 30 points, good for second place overall. For the “Star Cup” I used Donkey Kong as my racer and I finished first, fifth, fifth, and second respectively. These races included “Piranha Plant Slide”, “Wario Shipyard”, “Neo Bowser City” & “Maka Wuhu”. I ended up with 26 points, only good enough for a paltry third place. Toad was my racer of choice for the “Special Cup”, where I placed fourth, seventh, third, and second respectively. These races included “DK Jungle”, “Rosalina’s Ice World”, “Bowser’s Castle” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 21 total points, good enough for another third place. Next up came the “Shell Cup”, where I used Yoshi as my pilot. I won all but the third race, where I finished last (eighth). These races included “Luigi Raceway”, “Bowser Castle 1”, “Mushroom Gorge” & “Luigi’s Mansion”. I finished with 31 points and guaranteed the overall win, which unlocked the Shy Guy character! For the “Banana Cup” I raced with the Shy Guy and finished third, fifth, first, and third respectively. These races included “Koopa Beach”, “Mario Circuit 2”, “Coconut Mall” & “Waluigi Pinball”. This earned me second place overall, with 26 total points. Mario steered me through the “Leaf Cup”, where I was able to place first, third, fourth, and fourth respectively. The races in question were “Kalimari Desert”, “DK Pass”, “Daisy Cruiser” & “Maple Treeway”. My 26 points were good enough for only third place overall. The final circuit was the “Lightning Cup”, and I chose Peach as my driver. I was able to win all four races there, which included “Koopa Cape”, “Dino Dino Jungle”, “Airship Fortress” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 40 total points, guaranteeing the victory and unlocking the Lakitu character in the process! Once through all eight circuits the first time around, I then went back and touched up the ones I wasn’t able to win on originally. Here is how that went: “Flower Cup” (won with 34 total points, unlocking the Wario character), “Star Cup” (won with 36 points, unlocking the Rosalina character), “Special Cup” (won with 30 points, unlocking the Metal Mario character), “Banana Cup” (won with 38 points, unlocking the Honey Queen character) & “Leaf Cup” (won with 32 points, unlocking the Wiggler character as well as Mirror Mode). Can’t wait to try out the game’s alternate modes!

8) I was able to get back at Batman Origins: Blackgate, after a brief hiatus last time around! At this point in the game, after the opening level, they give you a choice of where you want to go next. Before you make your choice though, Catwoman shows up and fills you in on what’s happening at Blackgate prison (after you take out a few thugs first, of course!). Basically the prisoners have revolted and Blackgate has now been split in to three territories, each of which is being controlled by a big wig criminal, including the Joker, Penguin, and Black Mask. The prison guards are being held hostage in the basement, for the amusement of the big wig’s thugs. In a tentative, temporary partnership with Catwoman, the duo set out and attempt to stop this madness. I chose the second level of the game for me to be the Cell Blocks. I began by slinking my way up to an open window and entered it, then began flitting through the interior of the prison beyond said window. Not far in to it I received a transmission from Catwoman, who said Penguin should be nearby. After hacking the security system I came to some outdoor gangways and witnessed a small group of thugs sending some weapons down a freight elevator to Penguin. The thugs that were left after the shipment departed I quickly took out, I then re-entered the prison on the other side of this gangway. Strolling through the detention blocks I took out all manner of low life that chose to oppose me! My ultimate destination was the exercise yard, but many roadblocks seemed to spring up and bar my progress. Thus I had to improvise my own route (which was made easier once I obtained the Batclaw device). Making my way back towards the detention block area I ascended further upwards than I was able to before, once at the top I began my explorations and passed through what looked to be some sort of furnace room. Once through it I finally came to the exercise yard and took out a couple thugs who were standing guard. Exploring the area I found a caged section where Penguin was making the captured prison guards fight his thugs! Penguin soon discovered Batman and forced me to enter the cage, where I was to engage a person Batman apparently was familiar with, called Bronze Tiger. However, I wouldn’t finish him off at the end of our battle, and in the confusion of this aftermath we teamed up and turned the tables on Penguin’s forces, engaging them and causing them to flee . . .

9) Well, the last time on Mega Man 10 I said there were six more bosses to go . . . not anymore!! We got on a massive roll with this game and polished them all off, easy peasy. First up was Solar Man. In more of an open building we began by ascending some ladders, as well as traversed some conveyor belts, taking out rocket launchers and these multiplying cube bots along the way. At the top we found a corridor broken up by lava pits, having to make our way over them, avoiding the lava streams that were shooting out of the floor and ceiling! We also had to engage more cubes, as well as these powerful turrets. Eventually we came to the “halfway boss”, a pair of birds that rained fire down upon poor Mega Man! After defeating them we ascended some ladders, avoiding more fire traps, then came to a corridor with some conveyors. Avoiding fire traps and cube bots while jumping the lava pits between said conveyors, we soon came to a long sequence of ladders we had to climb. These were tricky as there were sequences that were quite clogged up by turrets and fire traps, but eventually we reached the top, and in so doing found the boss chamber. Once inside we defeated Solar Man and obtained the Solar Blaze weapon! Next up came Chill Man. His level began on an icy plateau, as we made our way along we had to take out evil snowman bots, as well as these armoured hover bots. Soon enough we broke the ice and dropped down through some caverns, breaking more ice as we went. Eventually we passed through a long corridor filled with snowman bots and these floating eyeball bots. At the end of said corridor we ascended some ladders and came to an open area where it was snowing. Avoiding the bomb dropping birds as we went, as well as more indescribable enemies, we moved along and were forced to jump some chasms. Eventually we arrived at the boss chamber and entered, beating down Chill Man and obtaining the Chill Spike weapon! Third came Nitro Man, his level took place in front of a very futuristic looking backdrop. Exploring the initial area we ran in to these green bots that were tanks at first, but then broke off in to a small flying bot once you hit it. We also dispatched some soldier bots and then began ascending ladders. We came to a long roadway that featured these small buses streaming along towards us, our only defense against them was to time our jumps and clamber over them! Making our way upwards after this sequence we fought a shielded security bot and came to another roadway full of buses, followed by a couple more roadways that this time featured more heavy duty truck type vehicles. Once through this maelstrom we began descending, dropping through chasms and setting off bombs, all the while battling hard hats and security bots. At long last we came to an area with a very craggy floor, where more tank/flying bots attacked. Once they were dispatched we came to the boss chamber and defeated Nitro Man, earning the Wheel Cutter weapon! Commando Man was our next selection, play began in a sandy dessert where we made our way over some dunes at first. While on the move we had to avoid these scorpion type bots, as well as the flying bots overhead that were dropping bombs on the scorpions to get them all riled up! Soon enough we came to the beginnings of a large steel superstructure and began making our way over it, dispatching hard hats while weathering the frequent sand storms that blasted through the region and tried to push us down the many nearby chasms! Afterwards we dropped down through some large corridors, taking out shielded hoverbots along the way, and eventually came to a flat area of open desert again. Soon enough the sand storms started up once more, we had to navigate the many deadly drops they were trying to force us in to (there were lots of sharp spikes featured in the trap this time around!). After clearing the danger we showed up at the boss chamber and engaged Commando Man, upon his defeat we were awarded the Commando Bomb weapon! Fifth came Blade Man. In a stone lined alley way we began our trek, taking out turrets as well as these large robot axes that were trying to hack Mega Man to bits. The scene soon shifted indoors as we entered a chamber, having to jump over spike filled pits, engaging cave spiders all the while. After ascending some ladders we came to a long hallway with platforms we had to power ourselves by jumping back and forth on them, kind of like one of those old school train cars with the pump handles. Avoiding more of the same enemies as we went we then reached the halfway boss, a small castle armed with a couple of turrets and some spiked, spinning discs that launched from the front door every so often. After destroying it we descended some ladders and then dropped through many rooms, fighting all the same types of enemies as we went. Once at the bottom there was another very long corridor where we had to use a platform we needed to jump on to get us across, avoiding the bed of spikes below. After defeating the horde of enemies that awaited us at the end of this sequence, we arrived at the boss chamber. Blade Man fell easily enough, and for our troubles we were awarded the Triple Blade weapon! Last but not least came Strike Man, who was a sports themed bot! In a very futuristic type of setting, with sports stadiums dotting the background, we trekked along and started engaging the sports themed enemies of the level, such as the bot who threw baseballs at us. Not long afterwards we moved indoors and began descending some ladders, being forced to fight a mini-boss, which was a bot shaped like a soccer net! Upon it’s defeat we dropped through the floor and engaged more sports bots (mostly soccer and football themed), at the end of this corridor we then headed back upwards, ascending through many rooms, some featuring enemies and others not. At the top we then popped back outdoors, at least briefly, forced to scurry underneath these large rocket laden soccer balls that blasted up in to the air above us. Heading back inside afterwards we soon came to another mini-boss which happened to be another soccer net abomination, only this one was a lot tougher than the first! After defeating it and moseying on, we came to a room full of these little green hatches that small machines popped in and out of, harassing us in the process. After navigating this pitfall we ascended some ladders and came outside once again. Destroying a few last enemies we then came to the boss chamber and took on Strike Man, upon his defeat we were given the Rebound Striker weapon! And that is where we have left off, as the scene has shifted to Dr. Wily’s hideout . . . always a tough affair that can take a while to complete. We’ll see!

10) Finally, with my play on Kingdom Hearts long since stalled I decided to start on another PS2 game, choosing Jak X: Combat Racing! This game takes place in the universe of the Sony characters Jak & Daxter, the premise behind it is that a villain in one of the previous games, Krew, has passed on and invited a number of beings to the reading of his will . . . among them are Jak & Daxter. However, when Krew’s daughter, Rayn, reads the will, it is revealed that all of them have been poisoned via the drink they are all toasting with during the reading! The reason behind this is the emergence of a new sport in Kras City, a violent affair called combat racing. Krew really wanted to enter a winning team in the combat racing championship before he passed, so those who have been poisoned have a choice . . . die, or agree to drive for Krew posthumously and if any of them should win the championship, they’ll all be given the antidote! And so the action begins. After completing the initial five part tutorial I’ve been able to win a small number of events. Play started off in the “Red Eco Cup” series, which features Class 1 vehicles. The first location I raced at was “Spargus”, the lead in event called “Spargus City – Circuit Race”. A circuit race is just a 2 lap affair, first to cross the finish line wins . . . I won the race. The second location I raced at was “Kras City”, the first event there called “Loading Docks – Death Race”. A death race is an event where players’ overall scores are not only based on their time around the track, but also on how much damage they inflict on their enemies in the process. I performed well enough to earn a gold medal. Next up was the “Dirt Stadium – Death Match” event. A death match is where all competitors are placed together in a contained arena, and from there it’s basically a street fight, the first to 10 kills is the winner! And in this particular event I certainly was the winner. Then came the “Seaport Strip – Circuit Race” event, where I placed second and earned a silver medal. The last event I played shifted to the “Grand Prix” location, the event in question being “Qualifier – Deathdrome”, a circuit race I needed to win in order to help quality for the Kras City championship. Win I did . . . next!! This game is pretty violent, a whole lot of fun, and it’s very cool how it’s not just the action on the track that goes in to telling the story. After every race there is a cut scene where the events of the storyline continue to unfold and evolve with what happened on the track. It’s like racing plus!!

“NNGRR” - The weekend after I posted my last blog I watched the first Iron Man movie, which I hadn’t seen in some years. The film starts off following the recent exploits of Tony Stark, playboy-billionaire-genius extraordinaire! Tony is the son of famed genius Howard Stark, who unfortunately passed away too early. This meant that when Tony turned 21 he took over his father’s business, Stark Enterprises, a company which funds all of it’s various research primarily by dealing in the weapons industry. And running the business alongside Howard’s former partner, Obadiah Stane, business has been good! However, all that changes when Tony travels to Afghanistan to demonstrate Stark Industries’ new weapon, the Jericho missile, to the U.S. military. The convoy Tony is a part of is attacked and mostly destroyed by a terrorist group called the Ten Rings, and at this point Stark thinks he’s had it. However, the group wants Tony for his brain, coercing him in to building them their own Jericho missile out of the various Stark Enterprises weapons they’ve accumulated themselves. Before he can begin on this project though, Tony needs to be saved from the shrapnel that embedded itself in his chest during the attack on his convoy. Performing the procedure is another captive of the Ten Rings, a man named Yinsen, who surgically inserts an electromagnet in Tony’s chest that will prevent the shrapnel from lodging itself in his heart. When Tony gets back to full strength he does Yinsen one better though, building a small arc reactor to take the electromagnet’s place! Once that is out of the way it’s down to business. Tony and Yinsen appear to be working on a missile, but in reality they are building an advanced suit of armour that, if it should work, would allow Tony and his new friend to fight back and escape this group’s evil clutches. The suit indeed serves it’s intended purpose, but during the action Yinsen is killed, prompting Tony to take out his vengeance on this group with a little more gusto!! Upon being rescued and transported back to the United States though, Tony is restless, for something is nagging at him. At a press conference he informs the world that Stark Enterprises is getting out of the weapons business, seeing how easily this terrorist group in Afghanistan got their hands on his tech. Obadiah tries to play things down and tells Tony to take it easy for a while. Tony appears to concede to Obadiah’s wishes, but in reality he’s in his workshop engineering a new suit, one that makes the suit he constructed in Afghanistan look like an ancient relic! And Tony is lucky he does so because soon enough, after a few insights, he realizes that Stark Enterprises has been double dealing in the arms race, and it’s been Obadiah who’s been behind it all along. Working with his assistant Pepper Potts, as well as a friend from the military, Tony plans on setting things right and taking Obadiah in. However, Obadiah has been scheming in the meantime and he’s not going to go quietly . . . the action then all culminates in a battle above New York City that only one “Iron Man” will make it out of! This movie is really amazing. It’s got a cool and gritty story behind it, and the effects are top notch, the tech that is in this film (especially the Iron Man suit) is pretty incredible. Put some awesome talent behind it all in Jeff Bridges, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb, Clark Gregg and especially Robert Downey Jr., and you’ve got one hell of a film!

The following week I finished watching another volume of the current Nickelodeon series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was called The Good, the Bad, and Casey Jones. This volume is the second released that relates to season two, containing six more episodes from said season (episodes 7-12). In these episodes we first see Raphael’s pet turtle, Spike, get mutated in to a hulking behemoth that renames itself Slash. We also learn that the O’Neil bloodline has played a significant factor in the Kraang’s long history in attempting to take over the world! To finish things off we watch as Casey Jones comes on the scene in full force after meeting the Turtles completely by accident (bonding with Raphael after they initially wanted to beat each other to bits!), a strange type of fungus invade the sewers, a souped up Metalhead saves the day, and we witness the return of the Rat King. Throughout it all the intense ninja action and wisecracking tomfoolery of the four brothers is on display for all to behold, and boy is it awesome! A great collection of stories, can’t wait for the next one . . .

That same week I kept the good times rolling by watching Iron Man 2, which I hadn’t actually seen yet! This story picks up not long after the events of the first film, at the end of which Tony Stark announced to the world that he is Iron Man . . . and the media circus hasn’t stopped since. However, Tony has a couple of major issues on his mind which are distracting him from his duties as Iron Man, as well as running Stark Enterprises. First, a U.S. Senator has served Tony papers to appear before the Senate, as this chap feels the Iron Man technology should be acquired by the U.S. military, not locked away solely for Tony Stark’s own personal use. More importantly though, the power source that runs the small arc reactor in Tony’s chest is slowly poisoning him, it’s only a matter of time before he perishes . . . unless a new power source can be found, that is. Soon coming to the forefront though is a new enemy Iron Man must face down, whether he’s up for it or not! A Russian man named Ivan Vanko has created a suit of his own, and he attacks while Tony is partaking in an F1 race in Monaco. Vanko is captured after Tony dons his Iron Man suit and defends himself, but in the aftermath of the incident the issue of the Iron Man tech becoming public heats up even further. With Tony’s world spiraling out of control and him feeling like he’s only steps from Death’s door, he loses control and goes on a bender, ignoring his duties all around. Tony’s allies try to pick up the slack, with the newly appointed CEO of Stark Enterprises, Pepper Potts, trying to control damage on that front, while Tony’s military friend, Rhodey, takes one of the Iron Man suits to his superiors since there seems to be no Iron Man left to serve the public. But when Nick Fury (who has secretly planted Black Widow on the scene as a Stark Enterprises employee!) pays Tony a visit, a glimmer of hope shines down on his world. For one, Tony learns the truth about Ivan Vanko, he is the son of a former partner of Tony’s dead father, Howard, who’s been looking for revenge on Tony for years, after their parentals had a bit of a falling out many years ago. Also, Fury hints that Howard has laid the groundwork for creating a new element that could potentially safely power Tony’s arc reactor, it’s simply up to Tony to finish the research off. With a newfound spring in his step Tony sets about making amends, attempting to express his true feelings to Pepper, and forgiving Rhodey for doing what he felt he had to do. Tony has a lot more than jeopardized friendships to mend though, for Ivan Vanko has escaped from prison thanks to Justin Hammer, a rival of Stark’s in the technology/weapons development biz (although a far inferior one!). But with Vanko on his side, Hammer has something planned for the Stark Expo that is going to knock the world’s socks off . . . although Vanko secretly has other plans! Will a combined team of Tony Stark and James Rhodes, both wearing Iron Man armour, be enough to combat this threat and restore peace to the city, or has the invincible Iron Man finally met his match? This is another great entry by Marvel in to their now extensive film world. Once again the effects were top notch, going even further than the first film, and the story was dynamite too. I love the race scene in Monaco, so cool and unexpected! Tony facing down his own morality was an interesting twist, although my favourite part of the film is how they found ways to insert more of the Marvel characters we know and love, intertwining all of their stories in to one massive saga (a la Nick Fury and Black Widow). Can’t wait to close this series out!

At the end of that week I finished reading another super hero book, this one was titled Astonishing X-Men: Gifted. The story is written from the point of view of Kitty Pryde (formerly known as Shadowcat), a former member of the X-Men who has suddenly been invited back. However, the X-Men are in a shambles. It’s been five years since the death of Jean Grey, and Cyclops is still torn up about it. He and Wolverine can’t get along because of their mutual feelings for Jean, but besides that Wolverine has been missing for quite a while anyways. Professor Xavier is a world away helping with a different mutant cause. And worst of all (at least for Kitty) is that she’s been invited back by Emma Frost, in the past one of the X-Men’s greatest foes who has recently become one of it’s core members. As their leader, Cyclops wants everybody to put aside their differences in order to present to the world a shining example of what mutants can do for mankind, when working together on the side of good. The plan looks like it’s going to start off well, but not long afterwards a doctor/researcher who Hank McCoy (Beast) is familiar with announces a “cure” to the mutant “disease”. Immediately the response to this news is all over the place, as are people’s various views on it’s existence/purpose. Whatever the case, the bottom line is that this news is only going to make life that much harder for the X-Men, who are regarded as heroes by some . . . villains by others. Soon enough the true nature of this discovery rears it’s ugly head though. For Doctor Kavita Rao, the one who discovered the cure, was helped out by a mysterious being not of Earth, simply known as Ord of the Breakworld. As the X-Men set about stopping the threat Ord represents to Earth and it’s inhabitants, many revelations are made, about the true nature of the cure, and also about Ord and his world and their relationship to Earth. With Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. also getting in on the action, just who will be left standing, and will anybody be able to make sense of the situation they’re left with? This was a good story, it contained a really intricate plot that seemed very realistic. All of the issues, questions and concerns that plague the X-Men get you thinking about what indeed would happen if our world was introduced to mutants with such capabilities! What I liked most about the book was my introduction to some characters I wasn’t aware of, such as Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost (so hot!) and Ord of the Breakworld. This was a great read for sure!

Last week I concluded my Iron Man saga by watching Iron Man 3, and it was a good, gritty movie! The story opens up with a flashback to New Year’s Eve 1999, at a convention in Switzerland. Tony Stark is busy trying to bed a genetic researcher named Maya Hansen, although he is temporarily cock blocked by a nerd named Aldrich Killian, who sneaks in to the elevator with them and urges Tony to consider funding a think tank he is running, called A.I.M. Tony rejects the offer in typical Stark fashion, we then fast forward to current day events. At his Malibu mansion Tony is having troubles sleeping, ever since the events in New York took place where a portal to another world was opened and an alien army poured out (the events described in The Avengers movie had just recently transpired). At the root of Tony’s fear is a helplessness felt at not being able to keep his most cherished possession safe, one Pepper Potts. Just thinking about the events tend to give him panic attacks! Before he can deal with these feelings and explain himself to Pepper though, a new enemy emerges on the scene. A man known only as “The Mandarin” has put together a string of bombings, the evidence in each case astounding authorities as there is no trace of bomb left amongst the aftermath. Around this same time a much healthier looking Aldrich Killian reappears all these years later, setting up a meeting with Pepper Potts, wanting to sell her on his major project called Extremis. Extremis is an injection that helps the human body regenerate and heal itself, prompting severed limbs to grow back, injuries to heal, and cause what some would consider super powers to arise . . . such as the ability to breathe fire! Not long afterwards Maya Hansen also shows up, on Tony’s home doorstep. She wants his help as she believes her boss is working with The Mandarin . . . and her boss just so happens to be Aldrich Killian! Before they can get too far in to the matter though, Tony’s home is attacked by The Mandarin’s forces and utterly destroyed. Although Pepper and Maya find safety, it is presumed that the invincible Iron Man was destroyed in the battle. Tony didn’t perish but he was rendered unconscious, so J.A.R.V.I.S. flew him to the last destination he had programmed in the navigation system, one Rose Hill, Tennessee. Tony had planned on visiting this town to investigate the events of one of Mandarin’s bombings. With his suit damaged Tony holes up in a garage he finds unlocked, befriending the young kid who lives there, named Harley. During his time in exile Tony begins investigating The Mandarin and his attacks, soon enough realizing that the Mandarin’s bombings were just a cover up for the Extremis project, for when a subject took it and it was rejected by their body, the side effect is that they were destroyed in a mighty blast! Eventually ferreting out Mandarin’s location, Tony heads to Miami and confronts the madman, only to find out that he is an actor being handsomely paid to be the face of this villain, while the real villain behind the scenes is . . . you guessed it, Aldrich Killian. It’s now up to Tony alongside his good friend James Rhodes (who now wears a red, blue and white suit, being dubbed the Iron Patriot) to stop Killian once and for all, but Tony must escape imprisonment first. And with Killian having kidnapped Pepper and subjected her to a dose of Extremis, Tony’s quest becomes all the more urgent. Can this pair beat the odds and defeat a host of Extremis powered low lives before getting to Killian, or is it finally curtains for Iron Man? Like I said, this was a very gritty movie, Tony spends more time out of his suit and all kicked to crap than he does inside of it! The appearance of all of the various suits he’s built at the end of the movie was also very cool. I enjoy how the movie took on the Extremis arc, which I just read about a month or two ago in the Iron Man: Extremis novel. One of my favourite parts of the film though, was The Mandarin. He’s such an obscure villain to include, and the actor that portrayed him, both in his Mandarin persona and out of it, was just amazing and hilarious! Cool movie.

While at the cottage we watched a couple movies, the first being Neighbors, which was friggin’ funny!! The main characters are a young couple named Mac and Kelly Radner, who have just had their first child, a daughter they name Stella. The couple is very happy with their new life, although they soon find out they have a hard time keeping up with their best friends Jimmy and Paula, who do not have any children. Their resolve is about to be tested to the max though, as one day a moving truck arrives at the house next door and their hopes of a nice young family moving in are violently dashed . . . for a fraternity called Delta Psi Beta are the ones joining the neighbourhood! But Mac and Kelly are still relatively young and they “get it”. So when the fraternity moves in they approach the frat’s leader, Teddy, and try to establish a good relationship. They even attend an epic party thrown by the Beta’s and have a great time, all they ask is that they just try to keep the noise level down in the future. The next night though, at the Beta’s next party, the noise level keeps Stella awake all night. Taking Teddy’s advice and trying to get in touch with him first before doing anything drastic, they call the frat house and leave a number of messages. But when those messages are not returned they have no choice but to call the cops. Unfortunately for the Radners the officer who shows up rats the couple out, and because of the incident a full scale war soon erupts between the two households! From Mac taking an axe to the frat’s drainage and flooding their basement, to the Beta’s removing the Radner’s car airbags and using them to blast Mac all over his home and office, all bets are off! It all comes down to a desperate ploy orchestrated at the Beta’s end of year party, in which the Radners must secretly infiltrate the frat house and make sure the party is still going strong once the cops are called. They bring in Jimmy and Paula to help, but still being vastly outnumbered will the Radners succeed in getting Delta Psi Beta evicted from their lodgings, or are they in for another long year of pranks and noise complaints? This movie was so hilarious, a lot of the actors involved are super funny of course with Seth Rogen, but also Rose Byrne (so hot!), Zac Efron, and Dave Franco as well. The pranks they pull are classic, the back and forth between the two sides had us in stitches over and over. This is one of those comedies you can throw on any time and it’s always going to be as funny as it was the first time you saw it. Another Seth Rogen classic I need to add to the collection!!

The other movie we took in was the new Godzilla flick! It took a lot of lead up, but once the monsters got rolling it was a heck of an adventure. The action kicks off in the year 1999, at a mining site in the Philippines. Exploring an apparent cave in, a pair of scientists discover the skeletal remains of a massive, fossilized alien creature, and within the remains rest a couple of surviving spores. One of them is unhatched and is taken in to custody, but whatever was in the other has already busted loose, and the evidence left behind points that it fled to the ocean. Not too long after this incident a Japanese nuclear plant begins experiencing unexplained seismic activity. An operation is planned to infiltrate the plant’s innards and ensure there was no damage done. Plant supervisor Joe Brody sends his wife, Sandra, and a team of others to check it out. However, catastrophe hits when the continued seismic activity causes a breach . . . Sandra and her team perish in front of Joe’s very eyes, and not long after the plant is left in ruins. Fast forward 15 years and Joe’s son, Ford, is coming home to San Francisco after a tour of duty with the U.S. military. However, not long in to his homecoming Ford’s wife, Elle, informs Ford that his father has been arrested in Japan for once again visiting the quarantine zone where the remains of the nuclear plant still lie. Reluctantly Ford heads overseas to bail out his father, and upon doing so Joe is able to convince Ford to visit the site with him, as he is not convinced it was merely an earthquake that caused all that destruction . . . he wants answers, dammit! Upon reaching the site the two explore for a bit, and Joe finds out that there is no radiation present whatsoever! Before they can press on though the pair are detained and taken by authorities to what Joe thinks is a new plant being built in the distance . . . but it is not, it is a facility holding a spore similar to the one discovered 15 years ago in the Philippines! The scientist who first discovered the spores in the Philippines, Dr. Serizawa, is in charge of said facility. But before anything can be explained to the Brodys, the creature in the spore busts loose and wreaks havoc on the facility, killing and injuring many, before escaping in to the night! Dr. Serizawa, along with Joe and Ford, are taken to a U.S. navy ship to aid in tracking/destroying this threat, but Joe was injured during the attack and doesn’t survive. Once on board the battleship all is revealed to Ford. Dr. Serizawa is part of an organization called Monarch. Their purpose is to deal with these types of situations, and the creature that just escaped is known as a M.U.T.O. (massive unidentified terrestrial organism). They feed on radiation but have been dormant for years due to the planet’s reduced radiation levels. However, now that they’ve been reawakened the military may have just one alternative, and it is another big secret! Back in the mid 1950’s a submarine accident deep beneath the ocean’s surface woke a beast dubbed “Godzilla”. For years attempts were made to destroy him using nuclear bombs, the events of which were covered up as military testing. Godzilla survived these attempts though, and after all these years he may just be Earth’s only chance at salvation! The king of the lizards is awoken when the M.U.T.O. begins using what appears to be a form of echolocation. This is half good as it means Godzilla is on the case, but it is also half bad as it means the M.U.T.O. appears to be trying to communicate with something . . . and that something just so happens to be an even bigger M.U.T.O.! With the situation spiraling out of control the military comes up with a last ditch plan to bring the three beasts together and lure them in to an explosive trap, but when the M.U.T.O.s begin to mate and make a nest in San Francisco, they may just have to let Godzilla have at it and take care of the entire job himself. This was a pretty cool movie, with a more intricate plotline and more suspense than I would have thought. The effect that brought was a different kind of Godzilla movie than we’ve experienced in the past, at least I thought so. I enjoyed the cast, Bryan Cranston is always great, and there were some good newcomers as well (Elizabeth Olsen is way hotter than her sisters!). And the effects were awesome too, a great watch all in all!

The past while I’ve been listening to a greatest hits CD from the band Cream, called Icon. This collection includes 11 tracks from the band’s short but sweet career, and is a good addition to any rock n’ roll fan’s collection. Cream was considered one of music’s first super groups, consisting of Jack Bruce (bass/vocals), Eric Clapton (guitar), and Ginger Baker (drums). The band formed in 1966 when Clapton and Baker met up and decided to start a new band, both unhappy with their current situations in their respective outfits. Clapton really wanted to bring in Jack Bruce to complete the trio, but Baker agreed reluctantly as he and Bruce had a history of “quarrelling”. The formula worked though (well enough, anyways!), and the band pumped out four albums (one of them a double) before their breakup just two years later, in 1968. The band’s sound was very heavy rock, especially for the time, with a major blues infusion. My favourite tracks on this collection include “I’m so Glad”, “White Room”, “Tales of Brave Ulysses”, “Crossroads”, “Badge” & “Sunshine of Your Love”.

Hath the bell tolled for this lousy summer? You Better, You Bet it has!!

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”.

It's been a Super busy August, and that's a Cold Fact!

What a wild and crazy August this has been. Although the weather has become quite suspect with cooler temperatures, wind, and some rains, we’ve been as busy as ever! The weekend after my last blog was our August civic long weekend, although I wanted to do nothing but swim and relax, mrs. darthcobain17 (the planner that she is) had us travel down to the Hamilton area to visit the in-laws. On the Saturday night we went to the Oh Canada Eh? show in Niagara Falls, which is one of those dinner productions where the wait staff also performs in the show onstage. It was pretty good, and with it being all about the history of Canada in a humorous vein, it was quite entertaining. On the way home on the Sunday we stopped by the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, although with mrs. darthcobain17 afraid of all things that fly, I’m not sure why she put that on the itinerary. It was pretty cool though. Once we were home we finally did just relax for the rest of the long weekend.

That following week James was at camp again, this time at the YMCA, while we were back for a work week . . . although it was a shortened one! On the following weekend we were Hamilton bound again, this time because of mrs. darthcobain17’s dad’s birthday. I’d found a Groupon for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, so we decided to take him there on the Saturday. It was pretty cool, lots of aircraft in various states of repair, a gift shop, an observation deck to view flights, and some other stuff like flight simulators, etc. I remember wanting to be a pilot after seeing my first air show as a kid, so this was a nice experience to jog that memory! Afterwards we went out for dinner at a Chicago style pizza joint, where I devoured an entire large pizza, before heading back to London to finish the weekend all low key like.

The next week I actually had off work all by myself, and it was glorious!! I was in the pool 3-4 times a day, I went on a lengthy bike ride each day, and I went out for a good run on three of the five days (which was indeed training for another race). I also got some stuff done around the house like a good clean, picked up a case of beer, got some propane for the barbecue, got the pool pump fixed, etc. Plus my dad, James and I went to the pitch n’ putt one day, while throughout I played a ton of video games!! Unfortunately the week went by way too bloody fast. On the weekend, which was just this past weekend, we once again headed down to the Hamilton area on the Friday night, as the mother in law was throwing a surprise 60th birthday party for her sister at a nearby winery/golf club. The party was on the Saturday and it did end up being a surprise for her, which was nice, and the food was delicious! Unfortunately it was a rainy day and while packing up the mother in law’s car I got my finger stuck and locked in her hatchback! Fortunately mrs. darthcobain17’s aunt is a nurse and they got me all set up for the ride back to London with bandages and ice. The finger feels a lot better now, but that first night’s sleep was a bitch . . . as in there was hardly any sleep! That was unfortunate because bright and early the next morning we had our 10km race to participate in, the fourth annual “Rock the Road” party race! Everybody was worried that my finger was going to cause trouble but it was actually really good, and I set a new personal best, 10km in 50 minutes and 3 seconds. Woot woot!! As for this week, James is back at the university for Sport Western camp, while the two of us are back to work. Booooooo. Here is all the stuff I got accomplished amongst this craziness!!

1) On MLB 2K11 I completed another series on my season, this time heading to the homeland to take on the Toronto Blue Jays!! The series went down as such: lost @ Toronto 3-1, won @ Toronto 11-1 & won @ Toronto 5-0.

2) I buckled down on Lego: Lord of the Rings and got a heck of a lot more accomplished on it than I normally do! The next six levels fell, beginning with level ten. Said progress was as follows: “Warg Attack” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the Gandalf the White character, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 2 Silver bricks [for the level completion and status achievement]), “Helm’s Deep” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the King Theoden [Armour] character, found 2/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 2 Silver bricks [completion and status]), “Osgiliath” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the Gollum character, found the tablet, found 4/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 3 Silver bricks [completion, status and tablet]), “The Secret Stairs” (earned True Adventurer status, found the tablet, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 3 Silver bricks [completion, status and tablet]), “Cirith Ungol” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the Shagrat, Frodo [Orc Disguise] & Sam [Orc Disguise] characters, found the tablet, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 3 Silver bricks [completion, status and tablet]) & “The Paths of the Dead” (earned True Adventurer status, found 3/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 2 Silver bricks [completion and status]). While wandering the game hub I also found another tablet, 5 more Silver bricks, and I was able to purchase the King Theoden (Cursed), Eowyn & Hama characters. Excellent!!

3) The next seven games of my season on NHL ’04 are in the books, and there were some wild ones involved, a couple of really close battles! The results came out as follows: won @ New York Rangers 7-4, won vs. New York Rangers 9-4, won @ Boston 8-6, won @ Detroit 6-4, won vs. St. Louis 14-5, won @ Minnesota 13-4 & won vs. New York Rangers 15-8.

4) Gex is pretty much done . . . but not in the way I wanted it to be! What waited for me when I resumed my trek through this title is what I assume to be the last world of the game, called “Rezopolis”. There I was able to complete the first two levels, called “Rez Knight Fever” and “On The Move” respectively. However the third level, and what I am guessing is the final level of the game, I just could not beat for the life of me!! It is called “Rez’ Lair” and in it you battle the main protagonist in the game, Rez, in a final boss fight. But I just can’t seem to beat him, Rez and his attack patterns is just way too hard. And with only three energy available it’s that much harder. So sadly I am putting this game away with about only 99% completion on it! As for a rating, I’m loathe to give it a 10 just because of how bloody hard the final boss is, so I’d probably end up giving it a 9.5 (which will translate as a 9 here on Gamespot) as it is a really fun and original type of game.

5) As usual I knocked off the next two levels on Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. The fifth level was up next, for it I decided to play the “Ovacron 6” mission. To begin I headed to the planet and met up with Tomar-Re, who informed me that the Manhunters had begun mining the world, in the process rounding up the locals and containing them in camps. Ovacron 6 is the home planet of a lantern named Hannu, who is a friend of Tomar-Re’s, so Tomar’s plan was that he was going to free the locals while I was to destroy the Manhunters’ mining operation! I began by searching out some drills to obliterate, making my way through a volcanic type of landscape as I did so. In this level the enemies began to look more organic in nature, but despite that I dispatched them all with much gusto! I finally entered their mining facility and made my way through it’s corridors and inner workings, eventually discovering a couple drills to destroy. I then entered the mine proper and forged on. Tomar-Re soon showed up and taught me a new move. With this new knowledge in hand I destroyed some of the Manhunters’ miners followed by a Rubble Tank, and then a large being who looked a lot like The Thing! Proceeding along afterwards I took out many of the same enemies before being tasked with eliminating the Manhunters’ generators, which I did so easily. Afterwards I ended up on a train that was speeding along below ground. I immediately began fighting the resistance I found, in the process releasing as many train cars as I possibly could. Once I got to the lead car that was firing a large laser beam I destroyed said laser and then moved inside the car, where I was forced to wage an epic battle against a crazy bot dubbed The Overseer. I took him out and that was it, the people of Ovacron 6 were free once more! Upon returning to headquarters after this last mission it was announced by dispatch that all of the crazy events that had unfolded on these various worlds I’d visited were all linked, and that they’d sent out even more lanterns to investigate. However, comms were lost in all cases not long after the lanterns were released. This meant that I then had to go back to each planet and find out exactly what was going on! I chose to begin my investigations by heading back to “Coast City”. Once there I explored all three areas, but my adventure began when Kilowog was able to contact me and told me he had found a data core. However, the Manhunters were planting bombs everywhere. My task was to disable the explosives, so I began exploring both above and below the streets of Coast City, eventually heading up to investigate the city’s skyscrapers. In the process I found Kilowog, while he extracted the data core I protected him from harm. Once the data core was secured and our enemies were defeated we bugged out and headed back to Oa. More to come!

6) My time is finally over on Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril, as I’ve put that game to bed in a big way! Picking up where I left off the next chapter of the game, the twelfth, was called “Island M”. The three levels I completed there were: “The Beach” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Green Goblin and Pepper Potts [Rescue] characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “The Jungle” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Pyro and Green Goblin [Demogoblin] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Central Core” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Storm character, gained a Collectible Card, and found the Red Brick [Party Time extra]). Afterwards I purchased the Green Goblin, Green Goblin (Demogoblin), Pepper Potts (Rescue), Pyro & Storm characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Pepper Potts (Rescue) and Pyro, as well as the Party Time extra. The next chapter in line was titled “Asteroid M: Space”, the three levels that felt my wrath there were: “Landing Pad” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the General Ross and War Machine characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Asteroid Interior” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Red Hulk and Star-Lord characters, gained a Collectible Card, and found the Red Brick [X5 Super Move Slot extra]) & “Magneto’s Lair” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Juggernaut and Thor [Classic] characters, and gained a Collectible Card). I then purchased the General Ross, Red Hulk, Juggernaut, Star-Lord, Thor (Classic) & War Machine characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Red Hulk, Juggernaut, Thor (Classic) & War Machine, as well as the X5 Super Move Slot extra. The next chapter of the game was “Asteroid M: Showdown”, and it unfolded as such: “Control Room” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Mystique and Juggernaut [Kuurth] characters), “The Bridge” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Doctor Octopus and Storm [White Suit] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Cosmic Weapon” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Doctor Doom and Magneto characters, gained a Collectible Card, and found the Red Brick [Health Regeneration extra]). I then purchased the Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, Juggernaut (Kuurth), Magneto, Mystique & Storm (White Suit) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Juggernaut (Kuurth) & Magneto, as well as the Health Regeneration extra. The fifteenth and final chapter of the game, at long last, was titled “Heroes vs. Galactus”! The three levels unfolded as so: “Helicarrier Assault” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Loki and Mystique [House of M] characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “The Chase” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Iron Patriot and Doctor Doom 2099 characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Final Battle” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Silver Surfer and Magneto [Modern] characters, gained a Collectible Card, and found the Red Brick [Invincibility extra]). I then purchased the Doctor Doom 2099, Iron Patriot, Loki, Silver Surfer, Magneto (Modern) & Mystique (House of M) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Iron Patriot, Loki, Silver Surfer & Magneto (Modern), as well as the Invincibility extra. It was then time for a task required on every Lego game I’ve ever played . . . the mop up operation! At this point, to fully complete the game, I had to go back through all of the previous levels I hadn’t fully completed and redo them, completing whatever challenges I may have missed the first time through. First up was the “Baxter Building” chapter, where I had to do the third level, called “Times Square” (completed the last challenge). Then it was on to the “Oscorp” chapter, where I played the third level, called “Symbiote Labs” (completed the last challenge and gained a Collectible Card). “The Raft” chapter came next, where I played both the first level, called “Prison Entrance” (completed the last challenge and gained a Collectible Card) and the second level, called “Prison Interior” (completed the last two challenges). The “Stark Tower” chapter needed a good touch up as well, I started by working on the second level, called “Stark Labs” (completed the last challenge and gained a Collectible Card) and then moved on to the third level, called “Penthouse Exterior” (completed the last challenge and found the Red Brick [Collectable Detector extra]). Finishing up the “Hydra Base” chapter was a quick job, there I only had to redo the first level, titled “Underground Foundations” (completed the last challenge). The “Asgard” chapter was a bit more involved as I had to participate in all three levels, as follows: “The Bifrost” (completed the last challenge), “The City” (completed the last challenge, unlocking the Doctor Octopus [Ultimate] character) & “Throne Room” (completed the last two challenges and found the Red Brick [Animal Sounds extra]). Next came the “X-Mansion” chapter, where the third level, “Hangar”, needed to be looked at (completed the last challenge). The “Castle Doom” chapter was a quick fix as there I only needed to look at the second level, called “Rooftop Entrance” (completed the last challenge, unlocking the Jean Grey [First Class] character). “Island M” was a bit more involved, as I had to look at the first level, called “The Beach” (completed the last challenge) and the third level, called “Central Core” (completed the last two challenges, unlocking the Punisher character). Finally I came to the “Asteroid M: Showdown” chapter, the last one I need to touch up, where I replayed the first level, called “Control Room” (completed the last challenge and gained a Collectible Card). Afterwards I purchased the Doctor Octopus (Ultimate), Jean Grey (First Class), Punisher & Stan Lee (???!) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for Jean Grey (First Class) & Stan Lee, as well as the Animal Sounds & Collectable Detector extras. So this game is finally kaputs, and what a glorious game it was!! This is easily one of my favourite Lego games . . .

7) Some major progress was made on Lego: The Hobbit as well, as the next nine levels are now in the books! Starting with level thirteen, here is how play went this time around: “Galadriel’s Gambit” (completed 1/1 challenges, unlocking the Galadriel character), “Thunder Battle” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Gundabad Orc character), “Goblin Town” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bombur character as well as the Red Brick [Extra Heart extra]), “Riddles in the Dark” (completed 2/10 challenges, unlocking the Gollum character), “The Goblin King” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Old] character), “To the Trees” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Pajamas] and Fili [Lake-Town] characters, as well as the Red Brick [X6 Stud Multiplier extra]), “The Return of Azog” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Orc [Wig] character), “The Legend of Beorn” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Beorn Bear character) & “Beorn’s Homestead” (completed 3/10 challenges, unlocking the Beorn character). Now I just have to figure out how to purchase all of these items!!

8) A lot was accomplished on Trackmania: Build to Race also, as I completed my next twenty five events! I was able to win each race, earning a gold medal on every one of them, the events in question were as follows: “Island A1”, “Island A2”, “Island A3”, “Island A4”, “Island A5”, “Desert A1”, “Desert A2”, “Desert A3”, “Desert A4”, “Desert A5”, “Snow A1”, “Snow A2”, “Snow A3”, “Snow A4”, “Snow A5”, “Rally A1”, “Rally A2”, “Rally A3”, “Rally A4”, “Rally A5”, “Coast A1”, “Coast A2”, “Coast A3”, “Coast A4” & “Coast A5”.

9) Upon finishing Lego Marvel Super Heroes I was ready to start a new title on the 3DS . . . although I actually started on a couple! The first in question is Mario Kart 7. This game really needs no explanation as it is very similar to the many Mario Kart games that have come before it. You jump in a go kart, using characters from the Super Mario Bros. galaxy, and do battle over a series of races for ultimate karting supremacy! Starting out on this title I went to “Single Player” and began on the “Grand Prix” mode, which is the main racing mode of the game. I began on the easiest level, the 50 c.c. class, the first series of races was called the “Mushroom Cup”. There I won all four of the races (using Donkey Kong), including “Toad Circuit”, “Daisy Hills”, “Cheep Cheep Lagoon” & “Shy Guy Bazaar”. I finished with 40 total points, unlocking the “Flower Cup”. I then participated in the “Flower Cup”, using Mario as my racer. I won all four races, including “Wuhu Loop”, “Mario Circuit”, “Music Park” & “Rock Rock Mountain”. I again finished with 40 points, unlocking the “Star Cup”. For the “Star Cup” I used Yoshi as my racer and I again won all four races, which included “Piranha Plant Slide”, “Wario Shipyard”, “Neo Bowser City” & “Maka Wuhu”. I finished with 40 points and unlocked the “Special Cup”. Toad was my racer of choice for the “Special Cup”, where I won all four races, including “DK Jungle”, “Rosalina’s Ice World”, “Bowser’s Castle” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 40 total points. Next up came the “Shell Cup”, and I used a Koopa Troopa to get me around the track. I won all four races here, which included “Luigi Raceway”, “Bowser Castle 1”, “Mushroom Gorge” & “Luigi’s Mansion”. I finished with 40 points, unlocking the “Banana Cup”. For the “Banana Cup” I raced with Luigi, but wasn’t able to win every race. I won the first race, “Koopa Beach”, but was only able to place second on the next race, “Mario Circuit 2”. I was able to win the last two races though, at “Coconut Mall” and “Waluigi Pinball” respectively, finishing first overall with 38 points and unlocking the “Leaf Cup”! Princess Peach piloted me through the “Leaf Cup”, where I was able to win all four races. The races in question were “Kalimari Desert”, “DK Pass”, “Daisy Cruiser” & “Maple Treeway”. I finished with 40 points, unlocking the “Lightning Cup”. The final circuit was indeed the “Lightning Cup”, and I employed Bowser as my character. I won all four races there, including “Koopa Cape”, “Dino Dino Jungle”, “Airship Fortress” & “Rainbow Road”. I finished with 40 points, and for the unlock I was then able to use my Mii as a playable character. Sweet!!

10) The other game I began play on was Batman Origins: Blackgate. This is a bit of a prequel story in the Batman franchise, before Arkham Asylum was constructed and Blackgate prison was where the baddies were all sent to do their time. Batman is pontificating on Gotham’s rooftops as the game opens up, having just put away a few of Gotham’s more serious offenders. Despite making the streets that little bit safer though, he knows crime will never stop, some crooks may even view him as a personal conquest! During his rhetoric Batman witnesses a criminal exiting a building after a robbery, and it ends up being Catwoman. Batman engages her, but before he can attempt a takedown the D.E.O. shows up and they train their sights on the man bat, allowing Catwoman to flee . . . and this was where the first level began. To start with I engaged the many D.E.O. officers and took them all out, before traversing the rooftops of Gotham City using my grappling hook, in pursuit of the distant Catwoman. Along the way I eliminated more pockets of resistance, and also learned to use both my batarangs and stealth mode in the process. Eventually I caught up with Catwoman and beat her down in a boss fight, then demanding she tell me what she just stole. It ended up being a collection of files, which she had already forwarded on to her employer. Before I could take Catwoman in the Gotham Police Department showed up though, allowing her to escape while also forcing my own flight . . .

“NNGRR” - The weekend after I posted my last blog I finished reading yet another book, Under the Dome: Part Two, the exciting conclusion to the series I started just a short while back! To start things off this time around Barbie has recently been arrested by the corrupt Chester’s Mill Police Department, being framed for the murders of two young girls, as well as the reverend Lester Coggins, and Barbie’s own friend Brenda Perkins (the late police chief’s wife). However, Rusty Everett, the physician’s assistant who befriended Barbie earlier in the story, doesn’t believe in his guilt, as do a number of his other friends. After a trio of young teenagers Barbie entrusted with seeking out the source of the dome’s power report back on finding an area of town chalk full of radiation, Rusty takes over with the Geiger counter and seeks out this source. Find it he does, what’s powering this invisible dome is nothing more than a small metal box that looks like an Apple TV device, only a little more alien in manufacture. When Rusty touches the device he has a seizure and experiences visions . . . visions of the creatures who are responsible for the device. More convinced of Barbie’s innocence by the minute, Rusty rounds up as many allies as he can find and a plan is put in to action. First they are going to spring Barbie out of jail (which actually becomes a double rescue once Rusty confronts Big Jim and gets his own self thrown in the clink!), and then they are all going to take a pilgrimage out to the site of the dome’s generator and hide out there, an area full of radiation, the last area anybody would ever think to look for them. They are lucky they do, because meanwhile on the other side of town Big Jim has sent his police force out to the WCIK radio station, the site of his massive meth lab. The person responsible for making the meth, now dubbed “Chef”, has gone a bit paranoid with all of the drugs he’s done. And Chef is not going to allow Big Jim’s troops to take back the operation. The end result is a disaster of epic proportions which may just wipe out the entire population of Chester’s Mill, unless some quick thinking is found. Will anybody be spared, or will the land under the dome be the site of a mass burial plot? This was a really cool story, and a great conclusion to the craziness that King set up in the first volume. He writes things so that they seem so real, and the intricate plot with all the multitudes of characters was really quite majestic. I totally want to watch the TV series now!!

Also that weekend James and I watched our next Batman movie, one of my all-time favourites . . . Batman Forever!! As this film kicks off Batman is up to his usual crime fighting ways, the current thorn in his side is former district attorney Harvey Dent, otherwise known as the newly minted villain Two-Face. Dent is bent on the bat’s destruction for personal reasons, and although Batman is battling him to a standstill, he can’t reel him in and get him behind bars. Commissioner Gordon has brought in outside help, a smoking hot blonde doctor named Chase Meridian, who specializes in behavioural issues such as dual personalities. And of course her and the Batman want to get jiggy with it, so to speak. Anyhoo, it’s all status quo until a new villain arrives on Two-Face’s doorstep and ups the ante. Edward Nygma, a former employee of Batman’s at Wayne Enterprises who was let go for his experimentations with human brain waves, has recreated himself as The Riddler. He is also bent on Batman’s destruction . . . well, Bruce Wayne’s anyways!! It appears as though Batman may finally be in over his head. However, Bruce is about to get some help. At a charity circus event that Two-Face raids, an acrobatic family known as the Flying Graysons are killed by Two-Face’s actions, all but one of them anyways . . . Dick Grayson. Bruce takes him in, although Dick is quite unwilling at first. But life in the mansion and the mysteries it holds is a little too much to bear for him, and he finally discovers Bruce’s little secret. After many arguments and much consultation with Alfred, Bruce finally takes Dick on as a partner, and thus he is dubbed . . . Robin. Together the two plan a final mission to The Riddler’s lair, but using his brain wave invention Riddler and Two-Face have gotten a lot smarter in the meantime . . . and overconfident. Can the dynamic duo save the captured Chase, the city of Gotham as a whole, and both come out of it in one piece? I’d like to think so!! I still remember going to the theatre when this flick came out. I was a massive Jim Carrey fan in his early days, so this movie was all about The Riddler for me, and boy does he make an awesome villain, so funny and zany, and of course not adverse to violence. And then you add in the likes of Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, and Drew Barrymore, and this is a pretty star studded affair. A great story too, with a couple of classic villains entering the fray. And they went a different direction with it, at least visually. It wasn’t as dark as the first two, this film features a whole ton of colour while also remaining dark on the whole, as a Batman movie should. So good!!

When we headed out of town that same weekend James and I decided to test out the DVD player in our new van, watching Batman and Robin! As this film begins there is a new villain in Gotham City, a hulking man formerly known as Dr. Victor Fries . . . now known as Mr. Freeze. He is a scientist who, during research to help find a cure for his wife’s ailment, suffered an accident that turned his blood to ice. Now he can only exist in below freezing temperatures, hence the fancy suit. He is rampaging around Gotham City, turning anything and anyone to ice, while looking for diamonds to power his suit as well as the device he hopes will eventually save his beloved. Batman and Robin are on the case though, and they try to minimize the impact of Freeze’s escapades, although they can’t seem to bring him to justice. Entering the fray is another villain, another scientist named Pamela Isley. She works in the field of botany, at a research site that was formerly funded by Wayne Enterprises, before Bruce learned of their unethical research methods/goals. In a lab accident engineered by her boss, the unknowing Isley is subject to a toxic experiment that is sure to kill her but instead ends up reinventing her . . . as Poison Ivy! Approaching Mr. Freeze with a partnership in taking down the bat, the two start to cause all sorts of ruckuses! Complicating matters for Bruce and Dick is the arrival of a sexy young blonde named Barbara Wilson, who is Alfred’s niece. She has been kicked out of her school in England and has come to America to take her dear uncle home, her concern only worsens when she realizes Alfred is very sick. While Batman and Robin are out fighting the good fight, Barbara learns of Alfred, Bruce, and Dick’s secret, and she wants in. With Bruce still having trust issues in letting Dick join the fold as Robin, his anxiety is ever heightened by this request! But with the double threat of Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy (not to mention Ivy’s powerful henchman, Bane) a bit too much to handle, Batman has no choice but to go to war alongside Robin and the freshly minted Batgirl. But can they repel this double threat, save Gotham City, and in the process acquire a cure to Alfred’s illness? I really like this movie, even though it is commonly referred to as one of the “worst movies of all time”. I’m not quite sure what people hate about it so much, to be honest. I thought the story was consistent with the rest of the Batman franchise, the characters were fantastic, and with a cast that includes the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Uma Thurman, Chris O’Donnell, and my favourite, the absolutely adorable Alicia Silverstone, what’s not to like!? Wait, I know why most people hate it . . . because most people are drop dead stupid. And you can quote me on that . . .

On the holiday Monday Jimmer and I sat down to watch The Green Lantern, which I’ve been wanting to see for a while now. The film kicks off with a bit of history on the Green Lanterns. A long, long time ago an immortal race of beings known as “The Guardians” created the planet Oa. To inhabit this planet they brought together a collection of beings who they charged with policing the galaxy, keeping it safe from evil, and these beings they dubbed their “Green Lanterns”. For green is the colour of will, and willpower is what the Guardians, and in turn the Green Lanterns, use as their source of power. Anyhoo, in the more recent past one of these Guardians felt it necessary to also harness the power of fear, although the others all disagreed. He went about attempting it anyways, and in the process evolved in to a massive, evil monster of a being called Parallax! A Green Lantern named Abin Sur was able to battle Parallax though, and eventually imprisoned it on the planet Ryut, in the Lost Sector. Fast forward to the present day and a space ship that crash lands on Ryut frees Parallax from it’s prison. This force immediately goes after Abin Sur, seeking revenge, and a mortally wounded Sur barely makes it to Earth before he expires. Before he does pass on though, Abin Sur frees his ring to seek out his successor. The person that is chosen is a brash young test pilot named Hal Jordan, who unlike a Green Lantern is supposed to be, is quite full of fear, at least buried down below. Upon meeting Abin Sur Hal doesn’t know what to think . . . but then after being transported to Oa and taking a beat down from both Kilowog and Sinestro (not to mention a harsh reprimanding), he then wants nothing to do with this super hero business! In the meantime a scientist named Hector Hammond is tasked by the government to perform an autopsy on Abin Sur, the very first alien being in U.S. history! In the process Hammond is infected with some of Parallax’s essence, which is buried deep in Abin Sur’s body. Hammond goes through some major changes and eventually morphs in to an insane villain. After thinking on it and trying out his powers, Hal is having a change of heart though, and he is there to counter Hammond. However, Hammond’s connection with Parallax has brought Earth to it’s attention, and it is on it’s way to pay the blue and green planet a visit! After lobbying The Guardians for help and being denied, Hal realizes this is a battle he must win alone. Making matters even worse is that Hammond has kidnapped Hal’s co-worker and former love interest, Carol, and is set to turn her in to a monster like him! Does the rookie have the will needed to pull off one hell of an upset victory? Of course he does, he’s Canadian!! This movie got raked over the coals after it was released, but as with Batman and Robin, I have no idea why. It’s a really well done movie based on a super hero that flies a little more under the radar than most, so something a little different, which is cool. I thought the story was solid, and the effects were amazing. And with an awesome Canadian lead in Ryan Reynolds, backed up by the complete hottie that is Blake Lively, what the hell is not to like? Give me more!!

Sieve, Greg and I continued our movie viewing tradition, going to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie on opening night. And it was pretty epic! The film starts by following the life of April O’Neil, a low ranking news journalist at Channel 6. There has been increased crime activity in New York City, by a group known as the Foot Clan. April senses there is more to this story than meets the eye, and she is determined to get the dirt. Her camera man Vern tries to discourage her, but she is like a dog on a bone! One night while out on her bike April hits pay dirt when she witnesses a Foot Clan heist in progress down at the docks. Before she can get any footage though, a mysterious “vigilante” shows up and cleans the Foot’s clock, leaving behind a strange symbol April faintly recognizes. April presents what she found to her boss at Channel 6, but as usual she isn’t taken seriously. Not long after, while out with Vern in the truck, people are fleeing the scene of a Foot Clan attack in a subway station. They are taking hostages in an attempt to draw out this vigilante. April gets involved and after said vigilante shows up to save the day once again, she tracks him to the rooftops . . . and it turns out there is not one vigilante, but four, and even more surprising . . . they are teenage, mutant, ninja turtles!! Afterwards April seeks out Eric Sacks, a man who runs an advanced scientific research company and used to be a partner with her deceased father. For after meeting the turtles and hearing their names, some memories from her childhood have been triggered. She inquires with Sacks about something him and her dad were working on before a lab fire destroyed everything and killed her father, something called Project Renaissance. It involved creating a special kind of mutagen that would allow humans to self-heal, keeping them safe from all manner of diseases and ailments. To test the mutagen they were using it on a rat and four baby turtles. Sacks presumed them lost in the fire, but secretly April saved the animals and released them in the sewers before the lab fire went out of control. After showing Sacks a photo she took of the four brothers from a distance, they both realize that these creatures are the beings she saved all those years ago. Sacks tells April to seek these beings out as the mutagen that is in their blood, the last of it’s kind, is essential to saving human lives and making the world a better place. However, unbeknownst to April, Sacks has deeper and darker motives behind wanting to find the turtles. He has partnered with the leader of the Foot Clan, the Shredder, constructing a scheme to infect the city of New York with a chemical agent, and then get rich by selling the agent’s antidote to the government! The mutagen in the turtle’s blood is key to this antidote. When April successfully seeks out the brothers (where she also meets their master, Splinter, for the first time), all is made clear to her by Splinter. But it’s too late, for April has unknowingly led Sacks and the Shredder right to the turtles’ doorstep! In the process Splinter is seriously injured, Leonardo, Donatello and Michaelangelo are captured . . . leaving Raphael, April, and an astounded Vern Fenwick to come up with a search and rescue plan. Stacked against overwhelming odds though, will this small team be able to rescue three quarters of their fighting force, and then also be able to save the city from imminent disaster? This movie was really good even though, like many others I’ve reviewed lately, it’s getting killed by critics. But anybody with any sense knows not to pay attention to these idiots anymore, they never like anything!! The story in this film was a pretty classic TMNT plot, but they altered their origin story a little bit, giving it a different vibe in that light. The best thing about the film is how they made the turtles look, they are friggin’ fierce!! Raphael especially is just a hulking behemoth, they are so big and they appear just like what you think a ninja turtle would actually look like. And then the action sequences, man they did a good job, so intense and wild. Add in a sexy Megan Fox (I don’t care what anybody says, she’s a good actress and she’s hot as hell) to stir the pot a little and you’ve got a blockbuster, critics be damned!!

The same night we saw TMNT I finished reading a book called Iron Man: Extremis, another prose novel from Marvel! This story picks up just after Tony Stark announces to the world that he is Iron Man. He has since locked himself in his garage for weeks on end, struggling to deal with his guilt over the lives his company’s weapons have taken over the years. However, since getting out of the weapons business Tony has an idea of where the future of Stark Enterprises is headed, but by squirreling himself away for so long the board of directors of Stark Enterprises are lacking confidence. Soon enough Tony is roused from his misery though, when contacted by an old acquaintance (and shagging partner) he met years ago at a conference named Maya Hansen. Maya calls him in to deal with an emergency she feels responsible for. Maya and her partner were working on a biological agent called Extremis, capable of transforming a human from the inside out, growing new organs, giving him or her new abilities, basically making them super human. Somehow a group of three low-lifes got their hands on a dose of Extremis and one of them, Mallen, took the injection. He comes to a few days later and has all sorts of powers, and even scarier, they seem to evolve to fit whatever situation he might find himself faced with! Mallen is somewhat deranged and he begins his plot of terror by attacking an FBI building in Houston, burning it up and killing most of it’s occupants. Iron Man immediately confronts Mallen, but is dismayed when he is easily bested by this freak of nature. Iron Man is not only bested, he is damn near killed. During the battle a number of civilians were killed, adding to Tony’s woes. Iron Man’s only salvation can come from the very thing he just went up against. Tony is transported to Maya’s office and after making a few secret tweaks to the Extremis formula, is given the injection. The tweaks made to the formula make his suit seem like it is a second skin, response times and commands are that much faster, he is literally connected right in with it. With Iron Man’s newfound abilities in tow he then heads out after Mallen once more, as the freak is making his way towards Washington, D.C. to pay his government a visit. Can Iron Man come out victorious in this second battle with Mallen? He just might, and along the way may even find a surprise regarding how the Extremis dosage leaked, and come up with a more concrete idea for his company’s direction. This was another solid super hero novel. They make things seem very real in these books, it’s not just about the battles and all the flashy bang bang. The consequences of these battles and the ripple effects they create are explored, the stuff you don’t normally think about. Very cool!

On the way to the Warplane Museum James and I decided to watch Man of Steel during our time in the van! The story begins of the planet of Krypton, where a couple named Jor-El and Lara produce the world's first natural birth in decades. However, the future for this child is bleak, as due to the depletion of Krypton's natural resources (which led to the mining of the planet's core) it faces imminent destruction. Sick of the ruling council's lack of action, General Zod attempts a takeover, but his movement is soon snuffed out. During the action Jor-El and Lara decide to jettison their newborn son, Cal-El, in to the great unknown so that he may have a chance to survive and won't perish along with the rest of his race. Just before the planet implodes Cal-El is sent away, while General Zod and his cronies are banished to a black hole. Fast forward many years and we find out Cal-El was rescued by a mid-Western farming couple and he's been raised as an American ever since. Through a series of flashbacks we find out that the radiation from Earth's sun has reacted strangely with Clark's (Cal-El's given Earth name) alien biological makeup, and so he's gained many types of powers, such as super strength, x-ray vision, heightened senses, and even the ability of flight!! Throughout his life Clark performs special feats that are witnessed by other people, and legends of his powers spread. Eventually a reporter from The Daily Planet, Lois Lane, seeks Clark out to do a story on him, but when she finds out the nature of his history she decides to keep quiet, fearful for what mankind might subject Clark to if they found out. But Earth and it's inhabitants are going to find out about Clark soon enough, for when Krypton imploded the prison holding General Zod and his forces was rendered ineffective. Ever since he has been combing the galaxy for Cal-El. When Zod finally makes it to Earth and demands humankind aid them in rounding up Cal-El, they happily oblige. But when the Earthlings learn Zod is actually a tyrant who has no intention of keeping his promises, the people who so eagerly offered Cal-El (now dubbed Superman) up to Zod will look to him as their salvation. With Zod greatly outnumbering Clark though, can Superman repel the threat, or is it curtains for the human race? I'm not a huge Superman fan, but this flick really helped reinvigorate the franchise for me. It had a great story, and the effects were amazing, I loved how they made the Kryptonians move so fast during the action sequences. And I really loved how we see Clark working on the Western coast of Canada in the movie's earlier moments, a shout out to Superman's Canadian roots!! There was some pretty cool talent involved also, with Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne . . . and don't forget Amy Adams, way hot!!

One night during my week off I watched a classic I hadn't seen in a long time, which I recently found in the bargain bin at Sobey's . . . Starship Troopers!! This story takes place many years in the future and begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The main characters are four high school students named John Rico, Carmen Ibanez, Dizzy Flores, and Carl Jenkins. Space travel is old hat at this point, and the galaxy has become a wide open place. However, space exploration has uncovered a sector ruled by sentient insects the humans simply refer to as "bugs", and they are none too pleased the humans have shown up on their doorstep. Because of this war is running rampant throughout the galaxy, with the bugs' hostilities originating from their home planet of Klendathu. The only way to guarantee citizenship in the Federation is to do a term of federal service. And so Ibanez, Flores and Jenkins all sign up. Against his parents' wishes Rico also signs up, so he can continue to chase Ibanez, who he is majorly crushing on. Ibanez pulls pilot duty, Jenkins gains a position high up in the Federation's think tank, while both Rico and Flores (who conversely is crushing on Rico) pull infantry duty. Soon enough the four of them are on the main lines in the war against the bugs, and none are in more danger than Rico and Flores. Their introduction to the infantry is tumultuous at best, especially for Rico, who after a fatal accident to one of his fellow soldiers while on his own watch, considers quitting. But after the bugs launch an assault and wipe out the city of Buenos Aires, the fight becomes personal, and Rico becomes a formidable force of destruction. He gains many friends in his unit, and also finally hooks up with Flores when he realizes his pursuit of Ibanez was the wrong path for him. However, after a disastrous raid on planet "P", where Rico loses his squad leader (and former high school teacher), and more importantly Flores, a key operation is planned to capture the brain bug, the main bug behind the hive's strategy. With a chip on his shoulder and a very green squad backing him up, will Rico and the rest of the Federation's infantry be able to pull it off, or will it be one more step towards galaxy wide domination by the bugs? This film is literally amazing, with a pretty low key cast who are all extremely likeable and were the perfect fit for their roles. With the likes of Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, and Michael Ironside, there is character galore going on in this movie! The story is awesome, as was the manner in which it was filmed. And the special effects, wow, this thing looks like it could fit in to the Star Wars galaxy no problem. And that's pretty amazing, considering it was released in 1997. Too bad they never did a follow up to this one!

The past little while I've been listening to the Cold Fact album, by Rodriguez. I found out about this artist by watching the Searching for Sugar Man documentary, which chronicled his bizarre story. Sixto Rodriguez was a child of Mexican descent who grew up in Detroit, where his father instilled in him the love of playing guitar. So he learned to play and spent his time wandering the tough streets of the Motor City, crafting songs based on the lives of the people he saw living in the city. When he came to the attention of the record labels and got signed, they thought he was going to be huge. However, he didn't take off in the States, and after releasing two albums (this was back in the late 1960's/early 1970's), mostly gave up music and worked in construction, as well as tried to get in to politics. However, when a copy of his debut album, Cold Fact, found it's way over to South Africa (and other remote areas like Australia) he picked up a huge following and became as popular as other major bands like Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Stories persisted of him committing suicide during a gig, and nobody on that side of the world knew what his true story was. Eventually the makers of the documentary were able to track him down and found out he was indeed still alive. They were able to convince him to come to South Africa and play some shows (this was in the late 1990's), and the rest is history, he is now more of a well known name. Rodriguez's music is very much a social commentary, and I found his sound very surprising in a way. Although he is of Mexican descent you never would have guessed it just by listening to him, as I find his music a folky mixture of Bob Dylan and James Taylor. Cold Fact was his debut album in 1970, and it is a great listen. My favourite tracks on it include "Crucify Your Mind", "This Is Not A Song, It's An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues", "I Wonder", "Like Janis", "Rich Folks Hoax" & "Jane S. Piddy". This album is worth a listen, and the documentary is worth a watch!

The Guardians of the Galaxy are now the Guardians of my Heart . . .

It’s time for another blog post as I’ve gotten quite a bit done recently, this info is burning a hole in my pocket! The weekend after my last blog post was our planned “glamping” vacation at Darien Lake in New York State. Glamping basically stands for glamorous camping, your site comes with a permanent standing tent constructed on a wooden platform, and inside the tent you get a real bed with a bedside table and lamp. Not too shabby!! We went to the mother in law’s place on the Friday night to split the drive up, and then on Saturday morning headed to the park. We settled in to our site and got all set up, and that was lucky because soon afterwards it started to rain and it never let up for the rest of the day and all through the night! We made the best of it though, going to the park and hitting as many rides as we could. The wife and I sampled The Boomerang and The Viper coasters, which were both great, while James’ favourite rides were probably the go karts, bumper cars, and water rapids ride. Despite the rain we had a good dinner cooked over the fire pit, and afterwards headed back to the park to see the Nick Wallenda show, which was very cool. My favourite was the hula hoop girl, the way she moved that body, hot damn!!

The next day the rain was finally done, so we headed back to the park and got some more rides in before briefly sampling the water park. Then it was time for the long ride home. James stayed with his Nanny for the week, coming home on the Thursday and staying at one of our local hotels that has a really cool pool and water slide in it. For us the week was just a regular work week, so I was back on the bike and what not. As for last weekend though, we finally got around to shopping for a new vehicle and found an awesome new Grand Caravan, with all the trinkets! Very hard decision though, competing with the Journey. We just picked it up on Wednesday, so it’s nice to be back to two vehicles again. To celebrate the van we went out for ice cream and then to the movies! On the Sunday it was mrs. darthcobain17 and I’s 12th wedding anniversary, but we didn’t do much, just went out for dinner and what not. As for this week, James has been at camp at our small theme park here in London, Storybook Gardens. The weather has been lousy, but hopefully in August we’ll get a turnaround and at least get a couple of heatwaves going on. Anyhoo, here is the stuff we got done along the way . . .

1) On MLB 2K11 another series has been completed, this time I was in Tampa Bay to play the Devil Rays. The series went down as such: won @ Tampa Bay 13-0, won @ Tampa Bay 10-0 & won @ Tampa Bay 6-1.

2) Decent progress was made on Lego: Lord of the Rings, having knocked down the next three levels. Starting with level seven, the levels that were completed went as follows: “Taming Gollum” (found 3/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 1 Silver Brick [level completion]), “The Dead Marshes” (earned True Adventurer status, unlocked the Faramir & Madril characters, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for the completion and the status achievement]) & “Track Hobbits” (earned True Adventurer status, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [completion and status]). In my journeys through the game hub between levels I managed to find 20 Silver Bricks, and I also purchased the Easterling character. This character jumped out and attacked me at a point during my hub wanderings, and afterwards the game gave me the option to purchase it! So of course I said yes. I’m not sure if that’s how purchasing all of the characters will work though, it will be interesting to see how the rest of this game unfolds . . .

3) Four more games are in the books on NHL ’04, the contests in question are as follows: won @ Vancouver 12-10, won vs. Vancouver 10-8, won @ Atlanta 11-10 & won @ Ottawa 11-4. It felt great to crush Vancouver and Ottawa, two of the teams I hate most in all of life!!

4) I absolutely blasted away on Gex, I have a feeling this game is getting pretty close to the end! I picked up where left off, in the third world of the game, called “Jungle Isle”. There I beat the final two levels, which included “Congo Chaos” & “Jungle Gym” (defeated the world’s boss, password was XTBLPHGP). It was then on to the fourth world of the game, called “Kung Fuville”. I completed all four levels presented there, including: “Sumo City” (password was STCHPHGP), “Fish Bait” (password was TTDHPHGP), “Chop Chop” & “Toxic Turtle” (defeated boss, password was BYVYRHGP). Can’t wait to get back at it and finish things off!!

5) I managed to get a bit of momentum going on Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, polishing off the next two levels! For the third level of the game I chose to play the “Mogo” mission. I arrived at the outer space ring of the living planet Mogo, meeting up with fellow lantern Arisia. She said the planet could not be contacted as the Manhunters were draining it’s power source right from the very space station we were conversing on. She was going to head planet side and sort things out on the surface, while I was tasked with disabling the station. I immediately set out and made my way through the twists and turns of the station, fighting a lot of the same Manhunter enemies I had faced in the previous level of the game. For the first time in the game I found the area’s map I was in, which really helped a lot! I then sought out three computer terminals and hacked in to them, destroying some of their ships. Setting out to obliterate the station once and for all I had an interlude first, when a colleague taught me how to become briefly invincible. Afterwards I began an attack on the core of the station, destroying many enemy soldiers, before moving through some different areas and coming to a chamber. In it I had to defend myself against one heck of a big robot! Once this battle was over I was tasked with hunting down “the controller” through the station’s core, passing in and out of many highly defended chambers along the way, before making my way outside of the station. Once outside I reflected the missiles it was firing at me right back, taking out it’s crucial weapons systems and engines. Re-entering the now jagged hull I hacked the beam controls and caused the station to self-destruct, saving the day! For the fourth level of the game I chose to play the Ranx mission. I traveled to said planet and met up with my colleague Ch’p, where he informed me we had a contact down on the planet’s surface. But it was a wild world hostile to the lanterns, so said contact couldn’t blow his cover. I was the one charged with going down and ferreting him out, my first step was dispose of five “Bruisers”, some overly large and violent Manhunters. They posed no problem though, my next task was to destroy a number of “Trash Tanks”, which also proved to be no issue. After getting in touch with Ch’p he told me that I was then to hack some computer terminals, and afterwards meet up with Von Daggle (our contact). However, while hacking said computers I ran in to a large brain, which ended up being the mind of the planet Ranx itself! I plugged away at hacking the computers while dodging attacks from the brain of Ranx, and eventually I beat it in to submission, foiling it’s attacks and wearing down it’s force shields. Once it was disabled I got in touch with Von Daggle and then bugged out! The game is starting to get a bit easier, now that I know more about how it works. This is what happens when they don’t include a decent instruction booklet with the game, and then the website where the instructions are supposed to be kept isn’t active anymore!! Oh well, still a fun game though . . .

6) Massive progress was made on Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril . . . it was pretty scary actually!! I resumed at the seventh chapter of the game, called “Asgard”. The three levels I defeated there included “The Bifrost” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Mister Fantastic [Future Foundation] and Deadpool characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “The City” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Thor character, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Throne Room” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Captain America [Classic] and Iron Man [Mk39] characters, and gained a Collectible Card). Afterwards I made some purchases, including the Captain America (Classic), Deadpool, Mister Fantastic (Future Foundation), Thor & Iron Man (Mk39) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for the Deadpool, Mister Fantastic (Future Foundation), Thor & Iron Man (Mk39) characters. Next up came the “X-Mansion” chapter, the three levels I beat there included “Mansion Foyer” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Jean Grey and Agent Phil Coulson characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Mansion Exterior” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Iceman and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Hangar” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Beast and Maria Hill characters, gained a Collectible Card, as well as a Red Brick [Extra Heart extra]). Afterwards I purchased the Iceman, Jean Grey, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Agent Phil Coulson, Beast & Maria Hill characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extra for the Beast, Jean Grey & Spider-Man (Miles Morales) characters, as well as the Extra Heart extra. The “Castle Doom” chapter was next in line, there I completed the three levels that included “Castle Rooftops” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Invisible Woman and Wolverine [X-Force] characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Rooftop Entrance” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the The Thing character, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Throne Room” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Nick Fury and Dark Phoenix characters, gained a Collectible Card, as well as a Red Brick [Comedy Weapon extra]). I then purchased the Invisible Woman, Nick Fury, The Thing, Wolverine (X-Force) & Dark Phoenix characters. I also picked up the Super Move 2 extra for the Wolverine (X-Force) & Dark Phoenix characters, as well as the Comedy Weapon extra. The tenth chapter of the game was “Doctor Doom’s Tanker”. The three levels that suffered my wrath there were “The Bridge” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Cyclops and Invisible Woman [Future Foundation] characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Loading Bay” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Iron Man [Heroic Age] and The Thing [Future Foundation] characters, gained a Collectible Card, as well as a Red Brick [X4 Super Move Slot extra]) & “Submarine Pen” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Beast [Astonishing] and Cyclops [Astonishing] characters, and gained a Collectible Card). I then purchased the Beast (Astonishing), Cyclops, Iron Man (Heroic Age), The Thing (Future Foundation), Cyclops (Astonishing) & Invisible Woman (Future Foundation) characters. I also acquired the Super Move 2 extra for the Beast (Astonishing) & Iron Man (Heroic Age) characters, as well as the X4 Super Move Slot extra. The final chapter of the game I was able to get at, the eleventh in total, was titled “New York Power Station”. The three levels that fell included “Power Plant Interior” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Aunt May and Nick Fury Sr. characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Statue Interior” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Sabretooth and Jean Grey [Phoenix] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Liberty Head” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Tony Stark [Suit] and Human Torch [Ultimate] characters, gained a Collectible Card, as well as a Red Brick [Confetti Effects extra]). I then purchased the Human Torch (Ultimate), Jean Grey (Phoenix), Nick Fury Sr., Sabretooth, Tony Stark (Suit) & Aunt May characters. I also picked up the Super Move 2 extra for the Human Torch (Ultimate), Jean Grey (Phoenix) & Sabretooth characters, as well as the Confetti Effects extra. Phew!!!

7) I also did some really good work on Lego: The Hobbit, knocking down the next eight levels! Starting at the fifth level, here is how things unfolded: “The Battle of Moria” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Grinnah character), “Azog the Defiler” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Thorin [Oakenshield] Young character), “The Mountain Trolls” (completed 6/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Shire] character), “Troll Battle” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Beige] character), “The Dawn” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [Gold] character), “Troll Hoard” (completed 4/10 challenges, unlocking the Gandalf [Glamdring] character), “Gundabad Wargs” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Radagast character) & “The Hidden Valley” (completed 7/10 challenges, unlocking the Orc character). Solid . . .

8) Finally, with us stalling on our other Wii games a bit, I decided to start an intriguing game I found in the bargain bin quite a while ago, called Trackmania: Build to Race. I’m not sure exactly what this game is all about just yet, but you seem to be tasked with running short distances on various types of race tracks, some of them quite crazy with loop the loops and what not. You race your default vehicle against three other “ghost” cars, and you earn a medal based on how well you place in each race. You also earn credits with each race, which you can spend on different skins for your vehicles, locked tracks (most of the game’s tracks are locked at the outset, only a small number are available for play right away), and some other stuff. The main theme behind the game is the building aspect though, so there is a mode where you can build your own tracks, but I’ll get to that in time. For now I’ve simply started on “Race Mode”, managing to complete the first five events including races at “Stadium A1”, “Stadium A2”, “Stadium A3”, “Stadium A4” & “Stadium A5”. I won all five races and earned gold medals across the board, as well as the “author medal” for “Stadium A3” . . . whatever that means!! It’s definitely a fun yet bizarre kind of game, I can’t wait to see what else it has in store for me.

“NNGRR” - Just a few days after posting my last blog I finished watching the eagerly anticipated Transformers Animated season 3 DVD set, which took years and years to finally be released!! This 2-disc collection contains the last 13 episodes of the series, and it starts off not all that well for the Autobots. First of all, Sari is in a huff about her newfound Cybertronian powers. After her father, Mr. Sumdac, explains that she was spawned from a protoform he found in his lab all those years ago, meaning she is in fact a hybrid species (half human and half Cybertronian), she is resentful that he never told her the truth until now. Meanwhile, across the galaxy a team of Decepticons lead a raid on an important space bridge and the battle doesn’t go so well. Back on Cybertron Ultra Magnus is tasked with rooting out a Decepticon double agent that is wreaking havoc with the Autobots’ command structure. Unknown to all Autobots though is an even bigger threat, the fact that Megatron (toting along the head of Starscream) has found the massive but derelict Autobot Omega Supreme floating in space . . . and they plan on using him to bring about a ruinous plot, to clone him and set loose giant bots all over the Earth! The action culminates during a battle in Detroit City where all plot lines meet, and all bots will be tested. Which side has more mettle, who will win the day? I was so happy to finally see this season, the fact that it took them over 5 years to release this bloody collection is asinine! The way the series was wrapped up was satisfying, I liked the direction the story took, and I really loved a lot of the characters that were featured to varying degrees, who either didn’t show up in previous seasons or showed up very little. These characters included the likes of Ironhide, Rodimus, Jazz, Sentinel Prime, Perceptor, Brawn, Hot Shot, Red Alert, Ultra Magnus, Omega Supreme, Wheeljack, Arcee, Blurr, Warpath, Cliffjumper, Beachcomber, Huffer, Powerglide, Seaspray, Cosmos, Tracks, Steeljaw, Alpha Trion, the Dinobots, Ramjet, Cyclonus, Swindle, Lockdown, Laserbeak, Ratbat, Slipstream, Shockwave, and the Constructicons. It’s too bad this show only went three seasons, it has such a cool look and feel!

Just before we left on our Darien Lake adventure James and I watched the next super hero movie in our cue, and he just so happened to choose the original Batman (1989)!! The story kicks off as the City of Gotham is closing in on it’s 200th anniversary. However, with crime at an all-time high and citizens more and more afraid to hit the streets with each passing day, the festivities the mayor has planned are in danger of not coming to fruition. At the head of this crime wave is a mob boss named Carl Grissom, who has a very volatile number two man named Jack Napier. When Grissom suspects Jack of having lofty ambitions, and also of sleeping with his young girlfriend, he sets Jack up for a fall at a planned job at the nearby Axis Chemicals plant. During the action at Axis a character people have been referring to as Batman shows up and helps clean up the mess. He is a vigilante who has been fighting crime by night, but sightings of him are few are far between . . . he’s more of a rumour than anything. Batman proves to be all too real though when he gets mixed up with Napier at the plant, during their battle Napier falls in to a chemical vat that horribly disfigures him. Presuming Napier dead Batman heads back to his mansion (for his secret identity is that of eccentric millionaire, Bruce Wayne) and it’s business as usual. However, Napier is not dead, and his accident has made him even more unstable than ever! Reimagining himself as The Joker, Napier cuts down Grissom and takes over as the leading crime maker in Gotham City. The Joker takes a liking to a photographer named Vicki Vale, who is in town trying to catch an image of the fabled Batman. It’s not long before Bruce Wayne and The Joker meet again, albeit under much different circumstances, as Bruce and Vicki have started a relationship. The action culminates at Gotham’s 200th anniversary celebration, which The Joker raids and tries to kill all the residents of Gotham by gassing them. Batman shows up though and he’s got a score to settle, for throughout the process of dealing with The Joker he learns that Jack Napier is actually the thug that killed Bruce’s parents all those years ago. Will Batman be able to leave his emotions out of it and get down to the task of bringing The Joker to justice, or will he make a fatal misstep along the way? This is still my favourite Batman movie, even after all these years. It’s dark and gritty, and at the time the effects were top notch. It still holds up to this day, despite the much more fevered action sequences of the more recent movies. This is and always will be a super hero classic!

During the time the wife and I had to ourselves I finished reading a book I’d recently picked up, from Marvel, called Civil War. This novel was based on the graphic novels under the same heading, and was written by Stuart Moore. The story begins during a time of great tension between the general public and their super heroes. With the intense battles they wage against super villains and the mass amount of damage they cause, the citizens of New York, and the world over to a lesser extent, aren’t feeling as safe as they used to. The tensions culminate when a team of young, inexperienced super heroes called The New Warriors engage some villains in the town of Stamford, Connecticut . . . the end result of their battle is the total destruction of the city, killing nearly 1000 people. This event speeds the enactment of the Superhuman Registration Act, which is spearheaded by the government, under the guidance of Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). The act requires that all supers sign up willingly, providing the government with their true identities, and agree to train at approved facilities until they are deemed competent enough to be certified to fight evil and protect the public. What this does though is split the supers right down the middle, with Iron Man leading the pro-act campaign on one side, and Captain American on the other. Soon the disagreement becomes more than just an argument though, for it causes special people who were once allies to fight against one another for what they believe in, and the end result is not pretty. Will the two factions be able to come to some sort of reconciliation, or will this act change the face of the super hero universe as we know it? This was a very cool book, so gritty and real, very with the times. A great number of classic heroes were represented in it, as well as some new ones that I’d never heard of. The story was very interesting and the author did a great job in bringing all the action and intrigue to the page. I saw on the inside flap of this book that there are others in the series, so I do believe I have my next number of books picked out!

The weekend we finally got James back we celebrated by watching our next super hero movie, Batman Returns! This film starts out at a time of relative peace, at least Gotham City’s idea of it, with Christmas not far around the corner. However, there are two issues about to surface that, when they run head on in to each other, are going to cause poor old Batman a ton of problems! The first is millionaire Max Shreck, owner of the Shreck line of drug stores. He has plans for a new power plant in Gotham City, but let’s just say that the plant, both in it’s purpose and operational procedures, is far less than ethical. The other issue is a deformed creature rumoured to be living under the streets of Gotham City, only known as “The Penguin”. This man was born a tad deformed, resembling a penguin, and his parents long ago threw him in a river as they couldn’t deal with the situation. Penguins that were living in the sewers of Gotham rescued this baby and raised him as their own, saving his life. Anyhoo, these two characters cross paths when Penguin kidnaps Shreck, with plans to blackmail him. For Penguin knows all about Shreck’s sordid dealings, and in exchange for remaining hush hush on the matter, Penguin wants Shreck to take him under his wing and introduce him to Gotham City as a good guy, helping him to figure out his lineage and what his true name is. Shreck does him one further, for after finding out Penguin’s true name (Oswald Cobblepot), a plan to have Penguin run for mayor is hatched, which would help Shreck’s proposal for the power plant go through a lot easier. Now add to this a wild card . . . a wild card named Selina Kyle. She is Max Shreck’s secretary, but when she discovers a little too much information at work one night, he tries to eliminate her by pushing her out of a window! Selina is dead . . . but not for long. A pack of wild cats surround her and somehow bring her back to life. But Selina is changed, she goes home and has a breakdown, creating a black leather costume and dubbing herself Catwoman!! Finally enter the Batman, who now has to deal with the strategic crime sprees Cobblepot has been instigating throughout Gotham City. Batman knows the Penguin is behind everything, but he has no way to prove it, and add to the mix the interference from Catwoman, who seems to be a mixture of both good and evil, and the poor old bat has his hands full. The action all comes to a head when Batman gains some evidence against the media sweetheart Penguin, effectively turning the town against him. When Penguin and his cronies wage an all-out war on Gotham City, can Batman win one last battle and save the city? And can he bring Catwoman in line, who he has actually fallen in love with? Well, Batman can pretty much do anything, so my guess would be yes! I hadn’t actually seen this movie in some years. I remember not liking it as much as the first one when I was younger, but watching it all these years later I found it’s actually quite a great flick! It’s got a great story, and some great performances from the gaggle of new villains. And I totally forgot that Christopher Walken was in it, which makes it even sweeter! Add in a totally hot Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and this is a definite winner . . .

On that same weekend (the Saturday), we decided to take James to see Planes: Fire & Rescue, which he already saw with his Nanny while on vacation . . . so OK, I really wanted to see the damn thing!! As this story opens things are going great in Propwash Junction. Dusty has continued racing and is winning like crazy, while the town is super excited for the annual Corn Festival. Things soon turn sour for Dusty though, as when he’s out on a routine flight with Skipper his engine malfunctions. Back at the garage afterwards Dottie has bad news . . . it’s his gearbox, and they are no longer in production. Dusty is devastated to learn that to prevent further damage he can’t put his engine in the red zone, basically meaning his racing days are over. One night Dusty goes out on a flight to disprove Dottie, but unfortunately the only thing he does is come in for a rough landing and in the process, cause an accident that sets the airport on fire! The town’s ancient fire engine, MayDay, eventually deals with the blaze, but afterwards the town is visited by a government fire inspector and the airport is closed due to outdated practices and outdated equipment. Everybody is upset with the situation, for MayDay’s sake and because the Corn Festival now won’t be happening. Seeking to make amends, Dusty agrees to head out to Piston Peak National Park and be certified in the art of fighting fires, aerial style. He meets up with a really great crew of firefighting vehicles including planes Dipper and Cabbie (Dipper has a major crush on Dusty!), helicopter Wind Lifter, the ground based Smokejumpers, including Dynamite, Pine Cone, Avalanche, Drip & Blackout, and their amazing mechanic Maru. Heading this team up though is the guy Dusty must impress, a helicopter named Blade Ranger. Blade immediately has a beef with Dusty, seeing him as a cocky racer, not the type willing to make sacrifices to save others. As the training goes along though, the two begin to develop a rapport, and Blade realizes there is more to Dusty than meets the eye. Together the team fights some small fires and they do it well, but not long after a massive blaze develops as the reopening of the lodge at Piston Peak approaches, a project fronted by park superintendent Cad Spinner. However, Spinner is a selfish egomaniac who is more interested in his pet project than the safety of it’s guests and the park at large, he’s been cutting the fire department’s budget and facilities for his own gain. When Cad’s jet full of VIP’s comes in too low and spreads the embers of a recent fire that was almost burnt out, the fire begins anew, and it’s a big one! The team, including Dusty, must all pull together to face their toughest challenge yet, but can they control the blaze before the thousands of occupants of the lodge can be safely evacuated? And if they survive, will Dusty gain his certification and help reverse the troubled fortunes of Propwash Junction? This movie got so so reviews, but it was in fact quite awesome. People try to read in to these movies a little more than need be, they are kids’ movies after all. It had a cool spin off story from the main Planes brand, introducing a new and exciting element to the franchise, not to mention some great new characters. And of course the animation, voice talent, and humour involved is top notch as usual! I really hope they just keep these movies rolling, so good . . .

That weekend I also finished reading a nice, big book I’d found for only $5 on the discount table at Chapters/Indigo, called Aerosmith: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Boston Bad Boys!! I’ve always been a fan of the band, owning many of their albums and listening to them since I was just a young kid. Of course I’d always heard the stories of their early days when they used dubious amounts of drugs and were quite volatile, but it was nice to finally read a book that gave first-hand accounts and stories of not only those early years, but everything that came after up until just a couple years ago. The tomb starts off with background histories of all five members, including what led up to them all getting together and forming Aerosmith. After that it’s a chronological detailing of the band’s history as they released albums, took off on tours to support said albums, and all of the extracurricular stuff in between such as the band’s copious drug and alchohol abuse, tensions, side projects, and everything else that came along. There are even reviews for each one of their albums, penned by professional music journalists. Amongst all of the text and information are scattered pictures of the band throughout their career, not to mention photos of memorabilia like ticket stubs, gig posters, album artwork, backstage passes, and more. Although the book may not get in to too much detail on any one member of the band, it is a great summary of the band’s existence as a whole. I consider this book not only a great addition to any fan of Aerosmith’s collection, but for that of any fan of the history of rock n’ roll in general.

Last night Sieve, Greg and I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy on opening night, and OMG this is one of the greatest movies ever!! The film begins with a brief sequence from the year 1988, when a young boy named Peter Quill loses his mother to cancer. Running outside the hospital to grieve, he is soon after snatched up by a mysterious space ship. Fast forward 26 years (to the here and now) and Quill is a grown man, a junker by trade, and has given himself the moniker Star Lord! He is in the middle of a quest on the world of Morag, where he acquires a mysterious sphere, which is apparently worth a fortune. However, the sphere soon proves quite popular as other beings want it so much they try to kill Star Lord! First Korath comes after him, who is a minion or Ronan, a rogue member of the war like race the Kree. When Korath fails in his attempt Ronan sends another of his minions, Gamora. On the capital world of Xandar, trying to unload the sphere to his buyer, Star Lord is attacked by Gamora as well as a genetically engineered raccoon named Rocket, and his living tree friend, Groot. Unlike Gamora though, they are after Quill because of the bounty on his head. All the four of them end up doing is causing a major fracas in public, the end result of which is arrest and then a swift transfer to prison. In prison the going is tough, but they make an uneasy ally in Drax, who wants revenge on Ronan for killing his wife and daughter. Thus a bizarre sort of partnership between the five is reached, and Rocket soon after engineers their escape. Once free Star Lord and his charges again seek to unload the sphere and reap it’s profits, but in so doing they find out that what is contained within the sphere is an Infinity Stone. If Ronan gets his hands on said stone . . . well, he’d be capable of destroying whole worlds basically! Not long after Ronan shows up and engages Drax, besting him easily, in the process acquiring the sphere. Defying his superior, the titan Thanos, Ronan uses the Infinity Stone for himself and plans a raid on Xandar, hoping to wipe the entire planet clean, especially the peacekeeping forces there, the Nova Corps. So this motley fivesome, these Guardians of the Galaxy, then have a choice to make . . . run and hide at the furthest edges of the galaxy, or face certain doom and make a stand against Ronan? With the aid of Yondu, the leader of the pirates who first plucked Quill from Earth all those years ago (their relationship had been strained recently, over ownership of the sphere), they indeed choose to make a stand . . . but will their small force be enough to counter Ronan and his legions? We didn’t know what to expect heading in to this movie as the property was a complete unknown to us all, but boy did they leave us so bloody happy! This movie is an epic space odyssey that looks all shiny and new when it needs to, but also down, dirty and gritty when the situation calls for it. The casting was unbelievable. Super likeable Chris Pratt, hottie Zoe Saldana, Bautista (of WWE fame), the voices of both Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, and then smaller appearances from both John C. Reilly and Glenn Close . . . such a cool and different cast! And the way they interacted with each other, especially the main characters, was just so natural and amazing. What made the movie even better was how funny it was, the theatre was virtually laughing the entire time. Guardians was more funny than a lot of actual “comedies”! I want to see this again, and I want the sequel to come out asap . . .

The last little while I’ve been listening to my very first Beatles album, called The Beatles: 1967-1970. Of course, if you haven’t heard of The Beatles you’ve basically been living under a rock all your life, a very large one in fact! Forming in Liverpool, England around 1960, the band consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They would play together for a decade before splitting up (and when John Lennon was assassinated a decade after their breakup, no chance of a future reunion was assured). Many people attribute The Beatles to being the best, most influential rock band in history, as they came along and revolutionized the way rock music was approached, with all sorts of experimentation and superb song writing. The band became so popular, first in their native England, then in the U.S., and finally worldwide, the term “Beatlemania” was coined to describe the craziness exhibited by their fans not only at their concerts, but simply seeing them off on a plane as they left for a tour and other such instances. To be honest I’ve never been a huge fan of The Beatles, I’ve always been more of a Rolling Stones kind of guy, but after reading up on the band a bit and listening to this double album a fair amount, my opinion of them has increased and I enjoy them a lot more than I used to. Although I’m not sure about Paul McCartney, there is something about that guy I don’t like that I can’t put my finger on. I really like Lennon and Harrison, but of course those are the two guys who are dead! Anyhoo, this double album was released in 1973, a few years after their breakup, and it includes a number of songs (28 in total) from their later years, when they were more in to the drugs and a lot more psychedelic in nature, which is the era of The Beatles I like the most! My favourite songs on this compilation include “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “With A Little Help From My Friends”, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, “A Day In The Life”, “Magical Mystery Tour”, “Lady Madonna”, “Revolution”, “Back In The U.S.S.R.”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Get Back”, “The Ballad Of John And Yoko”, “Here Comes The Sun”, “Come Together” & “Octopus’s Garden”.