darthcobain17 / Member

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

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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!

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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 . . .

by on

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”.

It's been a Super Hero kind of summer!!

by on

I’ve never been so busy and exhausted in my life, but again it’s all in a good way! The last few weeks have been literally action packed, and a ton of fun. The weekend after my last blog post we were in Hamilton for a party at a friend of a friend’s place. These people are super loaded and live in a virtual mansion, and they were hosting a “Hamptons in the Hammer” party. They had hired a lady to cook and serve food, pour drinks, etc., plus everybody dressed up all fancy and weird! Needless to say I drank a lot, smoked a lot, and swam a lot . . . a most productive evening all around.

The following week was the last week of school, so James was super excited. He managed to bring home a great report card, a lot of improvements, and because he brought up his grades so much he is going to get a Wii U as we had promised him that if he made some progress. We haven’t got it yet, but I’m pretty excited to finally make that purchase. The last day of school, the Friday, was actually a PD Day, so I stayed home with him and we got up to our usual activities like swimming, video games, cartoons, etc. For the weekend we had a reunion with family friends we hadn’t seen in a while, down in St. Catharines. We got to visit with everyone, the kids got to swim, and of course we ate and drank our faces off! The next morning, after a great sleep at our hotel, we went to Perkins for an amazing breakfast before heading home.

The week that followed I had off work as James was not signed up for camp or anything. During our time off we did a ton of stuff such as play video games, watch cartoons and movies, go swimming (I finally got him to go off the diving board, after bribing him with some Cars and Planes toys, and now he won’t stop!) . . . the usual sorts of activities. But we also got up to some other things we’d been planning. Together we built his first model, started his comic book collection, and even went to the driving range for some golf. Unfortunately during that same week mrs. darthcobain17 got in a car accident and wrote our minivan off, so we’ve had a rental the last little while but that just ended recently and we haven’t replaced our vehicle yet. We’re going to get by on one car for the next little while as I’m riding my bike to work as usual, but we will need to get this sorted out sooner rather than later. We ended our time off by heading down to Port Stanley on the Sunday, to meet up with some cousins and go swimming at the beach. Afterwards we had some scrumptious pizza before heading home and getting ready to face reality one again . . .

As for last week, it was just a normal work week for us, while James was at his first week of camp, which was golf camp (through the same folks who have been doing his lessons). As the weekend got closer we prepared for action though, as it sure was a busy one! We headed down to Hamilton on the Friday and went to the rink to play some hockey, as our friends Megan and Johnny got another WagJag deal for ice time like they did last year (they were actually filming a TV show or movie at the rink while we were there, which was kind of cool). We had a great game of shinny and then had some beers in the dressing room afterwards, before heading to a nearby pub to consume even more beer! The following morning Johnny and I headed to his hockey school class, where we were put through some drills by a guy insanely more talented than we are. After picking up some lunch on the way home we didn’t have much time to prepare before we headed to the golf course that is only a couple blocks from their house. . . . our foursome shot 18 hilarious holes at Chedoke Golf Course! After my recent successes at the driving range I just couldn’t translate it into a good round on the actual course. I had some good shots during the day but overall was way too inconsistent. I didn’t even add up my score at the end . . . fuck it! I look to improve on that for sure though. After getting back from golf we were famished, so we headed down to Ray’s, the bar/restaurant right at the end of their street. Getting back home afterwards we watched a couple movies before heading to bed. As for the girls, they were at a stag and doe in Guelph, I woke up in the morning to find out that mrs. darthcobain17 won some prizes, the best of which was a game used, signed hockey stick that belonged to the Boston Bruins’ Dan Paille! It is now mounted on my man cave wall. We then headed back to Ray’s for breakfast, before hitting the highway to come back home. As for this week, it’s back to work . . . fuck me. Anyways, here is all that was accomplished throughout this wild ride . . .

1) To kick things off I was able to get back at Goldeneye and complete the third level, which was called “Arkangelsk – Runway”. I began at the loading docks of the chemical weapons facility I had blown up in the previous level. At first I took out very minimal resistance and then moved outside via a conveyor belt. In a small, nearby building I took out a couple of soldiers and found a plane ignition key. Heading back out in to the cold I explored and much to my chagrin, found a tank sitting all by it’s lonesome! I hopped in to said tank and began blazing a trail of destruction down the nearby runway! Soldiers began pouring out of the buildings and coming after me, but I largely ignored them and focused instead on the three large machine gun turrets, as well as the missile turret that defended the air strip. After they were dispatched I abandoned the tank and hopped in a nearby plane, taking off to freedom!! I finished the level with a time of 1:55 and had a 63.2% accuracy rating. This game is so hard, I may have to dumb down the difficulty level a bit . . .

2) Another series of my season on MLB 2K11 has fallen, this time I competed against the visiting Boston Red Sox . . . who are a collective bunch of douche bags! The series unfolded as such: lost vs. Boston 6-4, won vs. Boston 13-7 & won vs. Boston 19-0. Boooooooya!!

3) I got a bit more progress done on Lego: Lord of the Rings, which was nice. The next three levels fell, which were as follows: “The Pass of Caradhras” (unlocked the Gandalf the Grey, Gimley, Legolas and Boromir characters, found 3/10 Minikit pieces, found the level’s Tablet, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for the level completion and the tablet]), “The Mines of Moria” (found 2/10 Minikit pieces, found the level’s Tablet, and earned 2 Silver Bricks [for the completion and tablet]) & “Amon Hen” (earned True Adventurer status, found 1/10 Minikit pieces, found the level’s Tablet, and earned 3 Silver Bricks [for the status, completion and tablet]). Also, while making my way through the game’s hub between levels, I was able to find 2 more Silver Bricks. This game seems immense . . .

4) The day has finally come . . . James and I have completed Donkey Kong Country Returns, everyone rejoice!! At this point the eighth and final world was upon us, called “Volcano”. There we defeated the first eight levels, as so: “Furious Fire” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Hot Rocket” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Roasting Rails” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Smokey Peak” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Bobbing Basalt” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Moving Melters” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Red Red Rising” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Tiki Tong Terror” (defeated boss). So that was it, end boss defeated, game over!! Or maybe not so fast. After completing the game a new world emerged, a one off level called “Golden Temple”. However, in order to access said level we had to collect eight coloured orbs that are found in each world’s bonus level, which are obtained by collecting all of the K-O-N-G letters in all levels of each world. We tried a couple of these bonus levels early in the game but they seemed so hard that we left them alone, meaning to come back to the later. And so we did have to come back to them, although they were still quite difficult, our experiences playing through the entire game better prepared us for what we were about to face. We eventually completed them all, and the action unfolded thusly: “Jungle – Platform Panic” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the green orb), “Beach – Tumblin’ Temples” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the blue orb), “Ruins – Shifty Smashers” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the white orb), “Cave – Jagged Jewels” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the pink orb), “Forest – Blast & Bounce” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the yellow orb), “Cliff – Perilous Passage” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the orange orb), “Factory – Treacherous Track” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the black orb) & “Volcano – Five Monkey Trial” (found 5/5 puzzle pieces and obtained the red orb). This allowed us entry to “Golden Temple”, which ended up being a long level full of fruit obstacles hung high in the sky that we had to jump across, and had old school Mario Bros. style music. We eventually cleared this level and found 5/5 puzzle pieces. With all of our successes in the game we had managed to unlock everything in our Music Gallery and Diorama Gallery, and pretty much everything in the Image Gallery. An amazing game, but boy am I glad it’s finally over!!

5) Major progress was made on NHL ’04, as I was able to play the next eight games of my season. The violence unfolded as such: won vs. Pittsburgh 12-5, won @ New Jersey 14-12, won vs. Edmonton 7-5, won @ Anaheim 8-7 (OT), won @ Los Angeles 12-8, won @ San Jose 12-10, won @ Calgary 12-6 & won @ Edmonton 7-5. Crushin’!!

6) Another game that fell during this blog period was Shinobi! I ended up completing the last three levels of the game, starting with level six. In it I infiltrated an underwater base and began roaming tunnels, using lifts, and making my way across open bays full of submarines. Taking out Zeed’s forces all the while, another danger surfaced when a robotic shark that had been ramming the glass tunnels I was in eventually broke through! I then had to have a halfway boss fight against this contraption, which was called Mechaladon. After the battle we sunk down in to a lava pit under the ocean floor, where I began making my way over rocky outcroppings, battling ninjas and strange cavern creatures along the way. A smelting factory soon appeared, upon infiltrating it I had to be on the ball, navigating conveyor belts, lava flows, and other equipment. Soon after the boss of the level showed up, a machine called a Lava Crawler. I bashed it to smithereens!! For completing the level I unlocked the Jumped the Shark achievement, as well as the Shark Attack Concept Art item. Level seven kicked off in a barren, mountainous environment. Flitting across the landscape, dispatching ninjas as I went, I eventually came to a series of mine carts lowering from above on chains. Climbing said carts I reached a high ledge where I immediately had to run from a large, rolling boulder, a la Indiana Jones! After losing it I trekked ahead, passing through a cavern and coming to what looked like the inside of a dojo. This dojo was a little different though. Behind the many doors it contained there were portals that would warp me to other locations, so it ended up being a bit of a maze. Making things even more difficult where the huge number of ninjas and cyborgs constantly trying to do me in, not to mention the spike traps! My tenacity finally paid off though when I reached the boss of the level, a very tough to beat baddie named Shadow Master. After many tries I took him out, and although I thought this was the last level and the end boss, I was sure mistaken! For completing the level I unlocked the Die Hard, Shadow Temple Gatherer, and Shadow Temple Hunter achievements. I also unlocked the Fushin Ninja Costume, Challenge 7, and Defense Droid Concept Art items. Level eight, the last of the game, began in a swampy region that reminded me a lot of Dagobah, after Shadow Master crashed the ship we apparently had our battle in there. I set off, having to avoid many sets of deadly purple spikes, eventually navigating very tricky sequences of moving and dropping platforms high up in the air. Making my progress even tougher were the many droid type soldiers determined to bring me to a standstill. At this point there were a lot of technological elements dotting the landscape I was passing through. After dispatching more droids and making my way further upwards via some more tricky jumping sequences, I took a lift up to face the final boss of the game, a strange alien being named Orn. And this guy was tough, he was able to completely refill his energy twice during our battle, which basically meant I had to beat him three times with just one of my lives. Tricky!! I persevered though and finally got a win, ending my Shinobi experience! For completing the level I unlocked the Baby Ninja, You’ve Got The Glow, Secret Mission Gatherer, and Secret Mission Hunter achievements. I also unlocked the Chibi Jiro Costume, Secret Mission Music, Challenge 8, and Captain’s Head Costume items. This was a pretty good game, but super hard though, even on the easy setting!

7) As for Gex, there I was able to fully complete the second world of the game, called “New Toonland”. The levels that fell came in this order: “Twin Towers”, “Pow!” (password was RVTCSHGP), “Rock It!” & “The Flatulator” (defeated the world’s boss, password was XTHCSHGP). I even began play on the third world, called “Jungle Isle”. So far I’ve only completed the first level there though, called “Feeding Frenzy” (password was KVKLPHGP). More to come!

8) Next up was Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. The going has been slow on this one, but I’m plugging away. The second level of the game I chose to play, after completing the tutorial level last time around, was called “Coast City”. In it I traveled to Earth and met up with Kilowog in Coast City. An evacuation was underway, so he tasked me with providing cover while he took on the Manhunter command ship. I insisted on taking the lead though and he eventually relented. I blasted and bashed all the Manhunter enemies I came across as I tore through the city, first looking to destroy the generators that were providing force fields for their ground turrets. After they were destroyed, as were the turrets in turn, I moved underground for a spell. This time I was searching for their destructive drilling machines, and in the process of finding and eliminating them, I met up with even more powerful enemies. Once this task was accomplished I met up with Kilowog and he taught me how to call other Green Lanterns for backup. Once the call was made I headed topside again and eliminated a small number of the Manhunters’ anti-aircraft turrets, before hooking up with the boss of the level . . . a being known as The Admiral. It was a tough scrap but I eventually won the day, destroying him and his lethal weapon of destruction. This one tired me out!

9) Major, major progress was made on Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril! Play began at the fourth chapter of the game, called “The Raft”. The three levels I completed there included “Prison Entrance” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Wolverine and Wolverine [Tan] characters, and gained a Red Brick [Bubble Effects extra]), “Prison Interior” (completed 8/10 challenges, unlocking the Bruce Banner and Iron Man [Heartbreaker] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Prison Rooftop” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Spider-Man [Future Foundation] and Hulk [Minifig] characters, and gained a Collectible Card). After this chapter I used my collected studs to purchase some stuff, including the Bruce Banner, Hulk (Minifig), Iron Man (Heartbreaker), Spider-Man (Future Foundation), Wolverine & Wolverine (Tan) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for the Hulk (Minifig), Iron Man (Heartbreaker), Spider-Man (Future Foundation), Wolverine & Wolverine (Tan) characters . . . as well as the Bubble Effects extra. The fifth chapter of the game was “Stark Tower”, there I completed all three levels, including “Stark Garage” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Tony Stark and Howard Stark characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Stark Labs” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Iron Man [MK1] and Pepper Potts characters) & “Penthouse Exterior” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Iron Man [MK42] and Iron Man [Hulkbuster] characters, and gained a Collectible Card). I made some more purchases at this point, including the Howard Stark, Iron Man (Hulkbuster), Iron Man (MK1), Iron Man (MK42), Pepper Potts & Tony Stark characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for Iron Man (Hulkbuster), Iron Man (MK42) & Iron Man (MK1). The sixth chapter was the last one I was able to get at, and it was called “Hydra Base”. The three levels I ploughed through were “Underground Foundations” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Captain America [WW2] and Wolverine [Days of Future Past] characters, and gained a Collectible Card), “Hydra Base” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Human Torch and Scarlet Spider [Classic] characters, and gained a Collectible Card) & “Portal Room” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Norman Osborn and Captain Steve Rogers characters, gained a Collectible Card, as well as a Red Brick [X3 Super Move Slot extra]). My purchases afterwards included the Captain Steve Rogers, Captain America (WW2), Human Torch, Norman Osborn, Scarlet Spider (Classic) & Wolverine (Days of Future Past) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for Human Torch, Scarlet Spider (Classic) & Wolverine (Days of Future Past) . . . as well as the X3 Super Move Slot extra. Wowee zowee, can’t wait to wreak more havoc on this one!

10) Since we finished Donkey Kong Country Returns, James and I decided to begin play on Disney Infinity for the Wii. We’ve only got three characters so we haven’t been able to do much on it yet, but it has been pretty fun regardless! We began by exploring the game hub, which is a castle and it’s grounds. We earned a lot of points for leveling up, as well as a lot of spins in the toy box, where we collected many cool items. Once we’d had enough of that action we decided to begin the adventures that were available to us at this point. First up was “Sparrow’s Flight”, featuring Captain Jack Sparrow! In it we had to roam around a small island and collect as many yellow orbs as possible. Our best score was 11, which earned us a bronze medal. Second came “Sulley’s Paintball Brawl”, featuring James P. Sullivan from Monsters, Inc.! This was a paintball game against a slew of other monsters, our best performance was 26 takedowns, which bagged us a silver medal. Finally, third came the “Mr. Incredible, the Hero” adventure, featuring, you guessed it . . . Mr. Incredible! In this game we had to save as many townspeople from the evil robots as possible, and the best we could manage was 2, good enough for a silver medal. We hope to explore this game further and see what else we can do with it, as well as get some more characters in order to unlock more of the adventures.

11) I also had to start a new game on the 3DS, since Shinobi suffered my wrath. I picked one I was really interested in, called The Trash Pack! This game revolves around those tiny toys whose theme is what you might find in your garbage, but I have no idea what the whole plot is behind them. This game didn’t shed much light on that for me unfortunately, as it’s simply a collection of four mini-games that don’t have any real story elements to them. The mini-games in question were called “Trash Catch” (had to collect trash falling from the sky in our garbage truck, not letting any of it hit the ground), “Trash Attack” (had to collect as many cans as possible, while avoiding all of the garbage that kept bouncing down the street), “Trash Drop” (I had to flip Trashies off a garbage can lid and knock the various garbage items out of the nearby crane claws, in to the waiting garbage cans) & “Trash Toss” (I simply had to toss Trashies in to the specified garbage bins within the given time limit). I managed to fully complete the first three games, but the last one was a real doozy as the controls were a little oversensitive. I made it pretty far, but wasn’t able to fully complete it. During my initial play on this game I was able to unlock a ton of Trashie characters, including Putrid Sardine, Smelly Mouse, Waste Wolf, Stale Bread, Trashola, Germit, Slop Corn, Trash-a-Pillar, Loo Paper, Garbage Egg, Awful Pie, Crud Can, El-Trasho, Rancid Steak, Trash Rat, Scum Gum, Disinfect-Ant, Moo Cow Disease, Grott Dog, Rotten Apple, Stench Fries, Toxic Trash Rim, Skummy Skull, Dump-ling, Chicky Pox, Blow Fly, Compost Monster, Mucky Maggot, Garbage Gull, Rankenstein, Bird Flu, Bashed Bottle, Sour Snail, Sicken Chicken, Septix, Manglez, Noxious Bee, Snotten, Sludge Can, Rot Moth, Mouldy Milk, Vul-Gore, Puke Pod, Flu Virus, Scummy Squirrel, Stinky Soda, Bin Pig, Scummy Screen, Putrid Pizza, Smelly Fish, Putrid Boot, Smelly Sock, Yucko Taco, Foul Nugget, Germ Worm, Off Cheese, Flesh Eating Virus, Gross Rover, Bin Scab Beetle & Scabby Cat. And there are all different coloured versions of most of the characters too, so I collected even more than this would indicate. At the end of my initial round of play I had collected 125/179 Trashies. After going back and playing through the game again at my leisure, I’m now up to 156/179. This is a fun game for sure, but it’s just way too short! I finished it the day I first started playing it, and not only that it was just a few hours and I had played through the whole thing. Although the games are really fun and there are a ton of Trashies to collect, it’s simply way too short.

12) Finally, since The Trash Pack ended so abruptly I needed another game to turn to, and it ended up being Lego: The Hobbit! This game tells the story of Gandalf the Grey and his select team that went to re-take a Dwarven stronghold from the evil dragon Smaug. Not only that, it tells how the Ring of Power was found by Bilbo Baggins along the way, setting up the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy . . . and it does so all in supreme Lego style! So far I’ve completed the first four levels of the game, which went as such: “The Mines of Erebor” (completed 4/10 challenges, unlocking the Thorin [Young] character), “The Coming of Smaug” (completed 5/10 challenges, unlocking the Dwalin [Young] character), “The Sickness of Thror” (completed 2/10 challenges, unlocking the Dori [Young] character) & “Bag End” (completed 4/10 challenges, unlocking the Bilbo [red, unarmed] character). More to come on this one too!

“NNGRR” - The weekend after my last blog James and I got around to watching our next super hero movie, and of course we chose Spider-Man 2! As this movie begins we learn a few things, first and foremost that life as Spider-Man is wearing Peter Parker out. He’s having trouble juggling his job as a pizza delivery guy, being a student at university, along with the heroic duties of Spider-Man, and it’s showing. We also learn that Mary Jane has become a local celebrity, transforming in to a model as well as a stage actor. And finally we see that Harry Osborn is intent on finding Spider-Man and ending him, for the “murder” of his father. Peter is thrilled though when Harry introduces him to a famed scientist named Otto Octavius, who he just so happens to be writing a paper on. Octavius is working on a form of nuclear fission power, which would provide mass amounts of energy from a very small source, and to help aid him with his project he has built a set of sentient robotic appendages that allow him to manipulate the power source while it’s in action. However, at the unveiling of said project things go very wrong and Octavius almost blows up half of New York City! In the madness his wife is killed and the inhibitor chip that prevents the robotic arms from taking control of his mind is destroyed. Left to the whims of these constructs, Octavius goes on a rampage, demanding that his financial backer, Harry Osborn of Oscorp, get him more of the precious tritium that he so desperately desires in order to power his rebuilt machine. In exchange Harry asks that Dr. Octopus, as Octavius is now known, brings him Spider-Man . . . alive. Dr. Octopus begins his search, but Peter Parker, literally and figuratively feeling a lack of faith in his abilities and just an overall weariness, has quit being Spider-Man. Harry gives Doc Ock a lead though, giving him Peter Parker’s name, and eventually a showdown is planned. After some recent experiences reinvigorate Peter and give him the motivation he needs, he takes the fight to Dr. Octopus and the action culminates in an abandoned warehouse on the waterfront. Can Spider-Man convince Dr. Octopus to fight the dominion of his robotic creations and destroy his precious project, or is New York going to end up a smoking crater in the ground? This was another excellent super hero action film. Once again Tobey Maguire makes the perfect Spider-Man, and they found another great villain to send Spidey’s way with Dr. Octopus. Gotta love Spider-Man, second best only to Batman!!

On opening night my buddy Sieve and I (along with his friend, Greg), went to see Transformers: Age of Extinction!! And boy, was it awesome. So different from the first three, but also very similar in the most essential ways. Anyhoo, it’s been five years since the Battle of Chicago that happened at the end of The Dark of the Moon, and a CIA agent named Harold Attinger (who heads up a secret division named Cemetery Wind) has tasked his unit with not only hunting down all remaining Decepticons and destroying them, but Autobots as well. All Transformers have been vilified, even the Autobots, despite the fact that they saved the planet from enslavement by defeating Megatron and his forces in the Battle of Chicago. Meanwhile, in Texas, a down on his luck inventor named Cade Yeager finds an old semi-truck in an abandoned movie theater, and promptly purchases it. Upon getting it back to his “lab” he begins work on restoring it, only to find out that this old beat up truck is an injured Optimus Prime, who was in hiding after a battle with Attinger’s forces! It’s not long before the CIA picks up reports of sightings of said truck though, and they move in on Yeager’s farm to claim their prize. Optimus fights them off though, and before long he, Cade, Cade’s daughter Tessa, her boyfriend Shane, and Cade’s partner Lucas are on the run from the authorities . . . life as they know it has changed forever. After eluding their pursuers the group soon realizes there are many other factors in play in this scenario that is unfolding in front of them. First, Attinger’s unit is achieving such success in destroying Transformers because he is working alongside another Transformer who has no affiliation, he is more of a cosmic bounty hunter . . . he goes by the name of Lockdown. With the destroyed Transformers Cemetery Wind brings in, they then use the material for research and development via a company named KSI, which is headed by a genius named Joshua Joyce. With the materials gained in Attinger’s crusade, along with some help from Lockdown, Joyce has created his own line of Transformers, which he thinks he is in full control of. However, the material used in his prized bot, Galvatron, was taken from the remains of Megatron . . . so maybe Joyce is not in full control after all! Meanwhile, after meeting up with the remaining Autobots on the planet, which include Bumblebee, Hound, Crosshairs, and Drift, the team of humans and bots prepare a plan to infiltrate KSI’s main office in Chicago to put a stop to what’s happening there. Eventually, after some battles once again with Cemetery Wind as well as Galvatron, they are able to convince Joyce of his folly. The scene then shifts to Beijing, where the race is on to stop Galvatron from creating an army of Decepticon drones that will take over the Earth. To aid their cause Optimus has to recruit four bots that have been on Earth for 65 million years, a group of bots brought in to being when the Transformers “Creators” came to Earth and planted their seeds oh so long ago. But will it be enough to not only stop Galvatron, but repel the nuisance that is Cemetery Wind as well? This movie was pretty awesome. I love Optimus’ retro G1 look at the start of the film, and all of the action sequences that take place throughout. The evolution of Galvatron was pretty cool also, another shout out to the G1 plot line, and the addition of awesome G1 characters like Hound and the Dinobots was very satisfying. The part I really liked was the plot though, it was just so different from the first three (not that I dislike those movies, I love them all very much, it was just such a radical shift in direction) and incorporated so many sub-plots in to one main story, it was really cool to see unfold. And the human actors were all great, too. Wahlberg was awesome as usual, and you gotta respect both Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer’s appearances . . . and then there is Nicola Peltz . . . holy shit, she’s hot. I’m raring to go for a fifth installment, let’s do this!!

During the time off I had with James, we began our movie adventures by watching Spider-Man 3 on opening weekend. This film starts off happily enough. Mary Jane is starring in a play on Broadway, while as Spider-Man Peter Parker has virtually cleaned up the streets of New York, crime is as low as it’s ever been. Peter is even thinking of proposing to Mary Jane! The one wild card though is Harry Osborn, who dons some of his father’s old gear and comes after Spider-Man. However, in the action that unfolds during their battle Harry is injured and gains amnesia, so all thoughts of revenge against Spider-Man are out of his head and they can resume the great friendship they once had. The peace doesn’t last long though, as soon enough the wheels start to fall off for everyone. First (this is in random order), Mary Jane gets fired from her play after some terrible reviews on opening night, and combined with the public adoration Spider-Man is getting it all adds up to a great depression for her. Second, Harry regains his memories and is once again deadset on bringing down Spider-Man. Third, an asteroid hits the Earth and releases a bizarre, living symbiote substance, which binds itself to Peter and causes him to become a little bit evil. Fourth, a photographer named Eddie Brock has horned in on Peter’s territory at the Daily Bugle, and has even gained himself a staff job. And finally, an escaped convict named Flint Marko causes Spider-Man some grief after gaining powers in a particle accelerator accident, forever after dubbed as The Sandman. With all of these forces going against one another it’s not long before everybody’s lives turn upside down . . . and miserable. After an incident in which Peter accidentally backhands Mary Jane, he realizes the suit the symbiote material formed is changing him in a way he doesn’t like. However, in casting off the symbiote, a willing host in Eddie Brock steps in to claim ownership. The end result is now a third villain, Venom, who Spidey has to go up against. The action all culminates in a battle at a construction site, where Venom and Sandman use a captured Mary Jane as bait to lure in the Spider-Man and finish him off once and for all. The wild card that may turn the tide of the battle though is Harry Osborn . . . just what will he make of it all, and whose side will he choose? This was a great film, my favourite of the three for sure. I mostly like it the best because Venom is my favourite Spider-Man villain, so it was awesome to see him represented in the series. And I really like Topher Grace too, so to see him play Venom was pretty cool. I like the fact that they had two main super villains in this movie as opposed to the usual one, and the addition of Gwen Stacey was pretty neat also. It was a pretty exciting way for the Tobey Maguire series of Spider-Man films to go out!!

During our time off I finished a DVD set I’d been working through, that being Darkwing Duck volume 1! This is a Disney show that originally aired when I was a young teenager, way back in the early 1990’s. Drake Mallard is the main character in the series, and although he seems like any ordinary duck living in St. Canard, the opposite is in fact the truth. For at night he moonlights as Darkwing Duck, crime fighting fowl extraordinaire! However, Drake feels as though he’s not getting the recognition he deserves for his role in keeping the streets of St. Canard as safe as he possibly can. All of that changes though, when he stumbles upon an evil plot by famed criminal Taurus Bulba. Although he’s in way over his head, Darkwing comes out on top and thus starts to become a household name in the city. During his adventures Darkwing gains a couple of companions. First is Launchpad McQuack (yes, from Duck Tales!), a pilot who let’s just say . . . is a little bit clumsy. Gosalyn is the other, a small orphan duckling who Drake takes under his wing and raises as his own daughter. The struggle is then on for Drake to balance life as a father with his lust for the limelight as Darkwing Duck! Throughout the rest of his adventures he must face down many villains including Steelbeak, Ammonia Pine, Professor Moliarty, Tuskernini, Jumbalaya Jake, as well as the fearsome five (Negaduck, Megavolt, Bushroot, The Liquidator, and Quackerjack), among others. This collection of episodes includes the 2 episode pilot, plus the next 25 episodes on top of that. Although not one of my favourite cartoons at the time, I found myself highly enjoying this collection as it unfolded all these years later. On to volume 2!!

In the middle of our week off James and I finally watched The Amazing Spider-Man, and boy was it good!! I didn’t think I’d like a reboot without Tobey Maguire, as I really enjoy him as Spider-Man, but boy that Andrew Garfield sure is likeable! In this first film of the most current reboot, the story starts off with a blast from Peter Parker’s past. Playing a game of hide and seek Peter finds his father’s home office ransacked, upon discovering this his parents rush him to his Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s house, where he would live forever after, as his parents soon after perished in a plane crash. Fast forward many years and Peter is now in high school, a bright kid who is in to photography, science, robotics, you name it! One day, in helping his Uncle Ben clean out their flooded basement, Peter discovers a briefcase hidden away that had belonged to his father. He takes quite an interest in it and after poring over it’s contents and finding a secret compartment, Peter finds a link in his father’s research (for he was a scientist) to Oscorp, and more specifically a scientist who works there, Dr. Curt Connors. Posing as an intern Peter infiltrates Oscorp, only to find out that the brainy girl he is interested in at school, Gwen Stacy, works at Oscorp directly under Dr. Connors! After meeting the Dr. and impressing him with his knowledge, it’s not long before Peter stumbles in to an area where Oscorp is doing research on spiders . . . and Peter is promptly bitten by one of them. Soon afterwards he finds he has amazing new powers such as heightened senses, super strength, and the ability to stick to walls. He even constructs robotic web slingers so he can traverse the city by swinging from building to building! It’s not long before Peter’s putting his powers to good use, taking down the criminal element of New York with gusto, especially so after his Uncle Ben is killed by one of said criminals while out combing the streets for a disgruntled Peter. Some portray Spider-Man as a hero, others a vigilante villain as does Gwen’s father, who just so happens to be the chief of police. In between his crime fighting bouts Peter visits Dr. Connors as they have struck up a friendship since their first meeting, and Peter wants to pump him for more information about his research, seeing as what happened to him with the spider and all. Peter even helps Dr. Connors complete an algorithm that brings to fruition years of research Curt’s been doing on splicing human DNA with that of reptiles (Dr. Connors has a vested interest in reptiles as they can regrow missing limbs, and Connors just so happens to be missing an arm). However, this proves to be a mistake by Peter, as the formula doesn’t quite work the way it’s supposed to and Dr. Connors evolves in to a massive, bipedal monstrosity that becomes known as The Lizard! The Lizard goes on a rampage throughout New York, in an effort to further his research and ultimately turn the entire population in to lizard people like himself, and there is only one person who can stop him . . . possibly. Can Peter put to rights what he handed so directly to Dr. Connors, or will New York end up looking like a massive PetSmart terrarium? I loved this movie. As I said, Andrew Garfield is super likeable and made an awesome Spider-Man, and on top of that you’ve got actors involved like Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, and of course the delicious Emma Stone!! I found the subtle differences interesting also, like how he uses a machine to sling his webs, and how there is no newspaper outlet like the Daily Bugle involved. Cool flick, can’t wait until the second is released on DVD!

Another thing I finished during our time off was the book I was working on, Stephen King’s Under the Dome: Part One. The action takes place in a small Maine town called Chester’s Mill. It’s a true, bumpkin lovin’ type of American small town, the main character is a thirty something drifter named Dale “Barbie” Barbara. He is a former soldier and wandered in to town, getting a job as a short order cook at the local restaurant. However, he is currently on his way out of town after an undeserved run-in with some of the town’s younger inhabitants. But while walking his way out of town on the highway, Barbie witnesses some strange phenomena. First of all a woodchuck unexplainably gets cut clean in half while meandering down the shoulder of the road. Then, an airplane high above him seemingly runs in to an invisible wall and explodes on contact, as do many cars and trucks soon afterwards. It’s not long before Barbie surmises that some sort of invisible barrier has gone up along the town line, and it seems to carry a type of electrical current with it. Not being the most popular guy in town though, he can’t really take his claims to the higher ups. Soon enough the rest of the town learns about this development, and the Mill’s second selectman, “Big” Jim Rennie, takes matters in to his own hands. He is a big, fat, religious idiot who thinks of the town as his own personal kingdom, and “for the good of the town” he’s been running perhaps the country’s largest meth lab in a large barn out behind his religious radio station. Big Jim is pissed off when he soon hears from the commanding military officer in charge of trying to get them out of this invisible “dome”, that Barbie should be the one in command of the situation. Immediately Big Jim starts maneuvering his followers to impede Barbie’s authority, maybe even eventually get him arrested . . . and the means are anything but legal. However, Barbie has his own band of followers, people who hate Big Jim and the grip he’s had on the town for years, people such as the owner of the restaurant Barbie works at, the lady who runs the local newspaper, one of the town’s doctor/nurse, and a small group of teenagers he tasks with trying to find the source of power behind the dome. As the days tick by and the dome stays in place, with the military having zero success in bringing it down, the paranoia and fear starts to mount, and things get much out of hand. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll just say that the book ends on a cliff-hanger surrounding a number of issues . . . so the second book should sure be a doozy!! Great read . . .

Early last week I read through a book I picked up at Costco quite a while ago but hadn’t gotten around to looking at, called Tolkien’s World. This large, fully coloured volume glosses over many things that take place in J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of the Lord of the Rings. It describes the origins of the races of Middle-Earth, including Elves, Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits, and goes in to more detail for some of the more important and influential characters from each of said races. Events surrounding both The Hobbit as well as the three Lord of the Rings volumes are represented, along with key allies, enemies, items, weapons, locations, as well as a general overall history of Middle-Earth. Like I said the book is full colour and the artwork is all very well done, giving a bit of a different look and feel from what you see in the live action movies. Although it’s listed as the unofficial and unauthorized guide to Middle-Earth, the information is very accurate, this book is a good addition for any fan of Tolkien’s works.

Late last week James and I finished watching season 2 of Lego: Ninjago on DVD, it put a nice and tidy little ending on the events that played out over the first two seasons. The action picks up right after the close of season one, when the ninjas destroyed The Great Devourer and the threat it imposed upon Ninjago City. In the battle the ninjas’ ship was damaged and Lord Garmadon hijacked what was left of it, turning it in to his own mobile headquarters. Garmadon also recruited most of the Serpentine to his cause, although the heads of the various Serpentine tribes don’t follow him and get to scheming on how to get their power back. As for the ninjas, they are now without a home, so eventually after a chance meeting, they settle in to a small dojo run by a wannabe ninja named Dareth Mojo. Out of this dojo the ninja focus on intensely training Lloyd, for his is to become the fabled green ninja. In between sessions Jay, Kai, Cole, Zane, along with Nya and Sensei Wu, must to fend off Garmadon’s continued attacks. For he has stolen the ninjas’ golden weapons of power and turned them in to the mega weapon . . . which can only create and not destroy, as Garmadon would have liked it to! In one of their encounters a side effect of the weapon is that Lloyd is aged many years, aged enough that it appears his time as the green ninja has finally come to pass. Not much later a couple of events take place that shape the rest of the season. The Serpentine betray Lord Garmadon and push him in to the ocean, where he washes up on the Island of Darkness. There he forms an alliance with the mysterious Overlord, to bring a devastating weapon in to existence and turn it loose on Ninjago City. Meanwhile the Serpentine plan their own attack on Ninjago City and in the process manage to awaken the Stone Army, who cause the ninjas all sorts of trouble. A final mission is then planned, for the ninja team to travel to the Island of Darkness and stop Garmadon once and for all. Aiding them on their journey are a couple of people they pick up along the way, a surprise appearance by Lloyd’s mother, Misako, as well as Zane’s creator, Dr. Julien. Although highly skilled and capable, it’s still a small team going up against Garmadon and his newfound Stone Army . . . do they have what it takes to get the job done? This season of Ninjago was even better than the first . . . lots of cool plot lines, funny and interesting new characters, and some great, dark action near the end. Although this seemed like it would be the series finale, I’ve heard there is a third season . . . gotta love Lego!!

During our recent action packed weekend Johnny and I watched a couple of films, the first being a title I’ve wanted to see for so long now . . . Step Brothers!! This movie begins when a couple of 60 something people named Nancy and Robert meet at a medical conference and immediately fall in love. The relationship moves quickly and soon enough the pair is married . . . not long afterwards comes moving day. The only complication is that both of them have older sons that still live at home, and both are basically shiftless layabouts. Nancy brings her 39 year old son Brennan to live with Robert and his 40 year old son, Dale. The two have a rocky start, and when a fracas erupts over Brennan’s use of Dale’s drum set, the two are at even longer odds. However, when one night Brennan’s older, and highly successful brother Derek comes to visit, Dale eventually stands up to him and punches him in the face. Awed by Dale’s actions the two quickly realize they have a ton in common and become best friends! But with Brennan and Dale being forced by Robert to go out and look for jobs, in preparation for them moving out on their own, the tension is mounting. After many botched interviews the duo come up with a plan to form their own entertainment company and pitch it to Derek at his birthday party. The presentation is taken as a joke and the last straw is drawn when Robert realizes from their video presentation that the boys have crashed his beloved sailboat, which he was planning on sailing around the world with Nancy upon their retirements. This causes Nancy and Robert’s relationship to break down, and they announce their divorce soon after. The boys are devastated and blame themselves, and are finally forced to go out on their own and fend for themselves. Brennan gets a job from his brother at his helicopter leasing firm, while Dale goes in to the catering business. At an event hosted by Derek’s company, the Catalina Wine Mixer, Brennan’s make or break time has come as he has organized the entire event. In doing so he hires Dale to provide the catering, and things are going swimmingly until the band gets kicked out for bad behaviour. It is then up to Dale on his drums, and Brennan, singing for the first time in years, to save the event, potentially reunite their parents, and maybe even lay the groundwork for the company they so badly want to start, called Prestige Worldwide. But can these two bumbling idiots buckle down and get it done after so many previous failed attempts at adulthood? This movie is a non-stop laugh fest right from the get go, I nearly pissed myself when Brennan rubbed his nutsack all over Dale’s drum set!! Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly have such great chemistry together, I hope they do more films in the future. The rest of the cast was really good too, I quite enjoyed the actresses who played Nancy, as well as Derek’s wife, Alice. This is just flat out slapstick comedy gold . . .

The other movie we watched starred John C. Reilly once more . . . it was none other than Walk Hard! This story begins in Springberry, Alabama, in the year 1946. The main character is Dewey Cox. As the film opens up we witness him playing with his beloved brother Nate, who is a very outgoing and talented kid. During their horseplay Dewey accidentally kills Nate, slicing him in half with a machete. Ever since that day his hard ass father insisted that the wrong son died that day. Seeking to make Nate’s last wishes come true, Dewey latches on to playing the guitar, after seeing some older gentlemen playing the blues down at the local store. Dewey’s quest to create a musical masterpiece Nate would be proud of is on, and not too many years later it comes to fruition when his band plays the local school talent show. And Dewey’s music gets the place a rocking! Back at home afterwards Dewey’s father (much to his mother’s dismay) kicks him out of the house, ashamed that he is the author of such raucous noise. Dewey hits the bricks, taking along his girlfriend Edith along with him. Pan forward a short time and Dewey and Edith are living on their own, having children like it’s nobody’s business! There is tension though, as Dewey’s career hasn’t taken off like they were hoping. However, after a fight one day Dewey gets some inspiration from his wife and writes his first hit. The response to the song is immediate and in no time flat Dewey Cox and his band have gained much fame, and are hitting the road hard, touring like crazy. And what comes with life on the road is of course booze, drugs, and sex with all sorts of women. Because of this newfound situation Dewey and Edith begin to grow apart, and when a singer named Darlene arrives to audition for the band, the final nail in Dewey’s marriage coffin is driven in. For Dewey and Darlene fall in love instantly and after abstaining for as long as they can, eventually they get married. But it all comes unravelled when Edith shows up at Dewey’s hotel room on the road, catching him in bed with Darlene, who didn’t know he was married. Losing both women and going in to a funk Dewey hits even heavier drugs, both his behaviour and his music then become more volatile and erratic. Eventually Dewey flames out, after confronting his father and apologizing for Nate’s death all those years earlier. Dewey gains peace with Pa Cox, but only after Pa accidentally offs himself by cutting himself in half with a machete when going after Dewey! These events prompt Dewey to drop out of the spotlight and spend some time getting to know all of the kids he’s been ignoring their whole lives. He finds great peace in it, he even hooks back up with Darlene. Many years later, as Dewey is just in to his 70’s, an agent contacts him and informs Dewey that he is going to be receiving a lifetime achievement award in the near future. They want him to do a live performance on the awards show, which would be his first in over 20 years. Dewey is up to the task, contacting his old band mates, but he wants to write the masterpiece that has eluded him all these years . . . can Dewey come up with some last second inspiration and give his family the performance he’s always dreamt of? This movie was nearly as funny as Step Brothers, and just as ridiculous. The recurring scenes where he gets introduced to each new drug are hilarious, and the songs they wrote for Reilly to perform in this movie are dynamite, so good and so hilarious. What also amazed me was the number of stars that showed up for bit roles along the way, which included the likes of Craig Robinson, Harold Ramis, Martin Starr, Jack McBrayer, Frankie Muniz, Ed Helms, Jack White, Jane Lynch, Jewel, Lyle Lovett, Eddie Vedder, Jack Black, Jonah Hill, Justin Long, Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzman, among others. Add to this a main cast that featured Reilly, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Chris Parnell and Jenna Fischer, and you’ve got one hell of a film. So glad I finally saw this!

That same weekend I closed things off by finishing the most recent book I was reading, The Cold Moon, by Jeffery Deaver. This novel features some of his previously established characters that have been featured in prior novels, most notably the paralyzed forensic investigator Lincoln Rhyme, and his police detective girlfriend Amelia Sachs. The two are teamed up once again when a couple of murders are reported that share a common link . . . the fact that a special clock was left behind at each scene. For the murderer, who has dubbed himself The Watchmaker, killed his subjects in cruel, torturous ways where they would have had time to ponder what was happening to them even as they perished. As the pair are working on this case along with other key members of their team, Sachs is also investigating a separate case, the very first one she has ever been assigned as her own case. The death in this scenario appears to be a suicide, but Amelia’s instincts tell her otherwise and she starts digging. Meanwhile, the team has brought in the help of a kinesics expert named Kathryn Dance for the Watchmaker case, who is in town from sunny California giving a conference on the subject. At first the going is slow as the killer has left behind virtually nothing for them to go on, but after Dance interviews some witnesses and they catch a couple of breaks, the pace starts to quicken. Furthermore, as Sachs continues to dig on her other case some links between the two cases begin to surface and the situation becomes even more puzzling. Will the crew be able to track down this Watchmaker and stop him before he strikes again, or will there be more citizens of New York dying gruesome deaths at the hands of this most efficient killer? This is not my normal type of fare when it comes to literature, as I prefer things a lot less realistic, but I was between books and had this lying around so I gave it a go. It was a pretty good story, the plot was very complicated and interwoven, a very clever story. Solid read.

Finally, for the last while I’ve been listening to a release from Bobnoxious . . . their Greatest Hits CD!! Boy is it amazing, so raucous! Bobnoxious is a band from my hometown here in London, and they are a true rock n’ roll outfit. They hardly ever slow down, it’s balls to the wall guitar driven rock, and the main subjects of interest in their songs are sex, drugs and rock n’ roll . . . oh, and booze too, of course. The frontman, Bob, has one of the most recognizable voices I’ve ever heard, a terrific type of growl that lends their brand of musical mastery an even higher level of awesomeness. The band has quite a sense of humour too, writing their own satirical Christmas songs as well as titles about “that time of the month”. Bobnoxious dropped their debut, self-titled album back around 2003 or so, while this Greatest Hits package was released in 2011, containing 18 tracks from amongst their first five albums. The songs that I’ve heard on the radio for years now that are my favourite include “Big Cannons”, “Won’t Go Quietly”, “Should’ve Been Nice To Me” & “Police Nabbed My Dad”. However, this disc opened up a whole new world for me and my new, previously unheard favourites include “On A Front”, “Rock ‘N’ Roll”, “Holiday In Disney”, “Don’t”, “Let It Go”, “Full Moon”, “Here We Go Again” & “Long Night”. So amazing, consider me a newly appointed Rockaholic!!

There is some pretty serious shit going on in this blog . . . most importantly the Stanley Cup!!

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The last few weeks haven’t been quite as action packed as the previous few were, but there was still a lot of activity going on. On the Friday night after my last blog our pool opened up for the summer, so I pretty much spent the whole weekend outside, getting the pool cleaned and cleared up, as well as tidying up the yard a bit more. The weekend after that we didn’t do much, but the Monday was a P.D. Day (yes, this late in June . . . I should have been a teacher), so the mother-in-law came down on Sunday and looked after James on the Monday. As for last weekend, it was Father’s Day and so it of course was the most action packed weekend of the bunch! On Friday night mrs. darthcobain17’s dad came down and we went out for dinner, then headed over to the Kids Expo festival at the park. On Saturday we took my Dad to the driving range and then mini-putt, afterwards we went back to their house for a taco feast! And on Sunday the family took me to one of our local attractions, Storybook Gardens, where they had a Lego theme day going on. As for other stuff going on during the weekdays and what not, I’m continuing to ride my bike like a fiend. And now I’m also swimming a ton, doing sit-ups, etc., and have also kept up the diet. The weight loss has hit 20 pounds and growing at this point, this is easily the best I’ve looked in probably over a decade. James completed his latest round of golf lessons just recently and graduated to the next level. During the lessons they decided to give the adults lessons for free, at least any of us who were interested, and I must say it’s renewed my interest in the sport a fair bit! Tips and instruction from people who know what they’re doing certainly does go a long way. We also got James one of those Razor scooters and he loves the thing, he’s been taking it to school for the “wheels days” they’ve been having recently. So all in all it’s been busy, but in a good way, with lots of physical activity and outside play. As for our inside play though, here is what we were able to accomplish along the way . . .

1) The next series is in the books on my season on MLB 2K11. The Cincinnati Reds were next on the list, coming to town for a three game set. The results were as such: won vs. Cincinnati 13-4, won vs. Cincinnati 8-3 & won vs. Cincinnati 10-1.

2) I finally got back to playing Lego: Lord of the Rings, although I didn’t get much accomplished overall. I only managed to complete the third level of the game, called “Weathertop”. There I was able to earn True Adventurer status, found 1 Minikit piece, unlocked the Aragorn character, and earned 2 Silver Bricks (one for the level completion, the other for the status achievement). Hopefully I’ll be able to get in to it a bit more this next time around . . .

3) Donkey Kong Country Returns is nearing the end, as James and I have made our best progress there in a long while! First up came the sixth world, called “Cliff”, where we defeated the first nine levels, as so: “Sticky Situation” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 9/9 puzzle pieces), “Prehistoric Path” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Weighty Way” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Boulder Roller” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Precarious Plateau” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Crumble Canyon” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 9/9 puzzle pieces), “Tippy Shippy” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Clifftop Climb” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Thugly’s Highrise” (defeated boss). We also went on to complete the seventh world, called “Factory”. The nine levels we mowed down there were: “Foggy Fumes” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Slammin’ Steel” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Handy Hazards” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Gear Getaway” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Cog Jog” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 9/9 puzzle pieces), “Switcheroo” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Music Madness” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Lift-Off Launch” (made our way to a rocket and then blasted up in to the air) & “Feather Fiend” (defeated boss). I do believe the end just may be in sight now!!

4) The next two games of my season are in the books on NHL ’04, and the results were as such: won @ Buffalo 11-5 & won vs. Philadelphia 8-3.

5) On Lego Batman 2 I was able to put a lot of time in, going back and mopping everything up! Starting the game on Free Play mode my progress through the 14 levels for the second time around went as such: “Gotham Theatre” (earned True Hero status, found 4/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the The Riddler, Harley Quinn, The Penguin, and Riddler Goon characters, and found the Red Brick [X4 Stud Multiplier extra]), “Joker Getaway” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, and found 4/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Killer Moth, Robin [Classic Suit], Joker Goon, and Bane characters), “Arkham Estate” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 2/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Killer Frost and Asylum Inmate characters, and found the Red Brick [Fast Build extra]), “Arkham Asylum” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 5/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Asylum Patient, Scarecrow, Mr. Zsasz, Mad Hatter, and Mr. Freeze characters, and found the Red Brick [X6 Stud Multiplier extra]), “Ace Chemicals” (earned True Hero status, and found 3/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Clark Kent, Vicki Vale, and Captain Cold characters), “Juggernaut Chase” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 2/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Two-Face and Katana characters, and found the Red Brick [Regenerate Hearts extra]), “The Batcave” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 4/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Batman [Classic Suit], Nightwing, Poison Ivy Goon, and Alfred Pennyworth characters, and found the Red Brick [Minikit Detector extra]), “Assault on the VTOL” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 5/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Shazam, Vixen, Captain Boomerang, Commissioner Gordon, and Talia al Ghul characters, and found the Red Brick [Invincibility extra]), “Attack on LexCorp” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 4/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Huntress, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and LexCorp Security characters, and found the Red Brick [Red Brick Detector extra]), “Robot Sky Battle” (earned True Hero status), “Gotham Metro” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 3/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Man Bat, Clayface, and Scarecrow Goon characters, and found the Red Brick [X8 Stud Multiplier extra]), “Brawl at City Hall” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 3/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Hawkman, Red Robin, and Lucius Fox characters, and found the Red Brick [X10 Stud Multiplier extra]), “Wayne Industries” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 1/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Diana Prince character, and found the Red Brick [Grab Expert extra]) & “The Final Battle” (earned True Hero status). Between levels I would purchase some of the stuff I unlocked along the way, first and foremost usually the Red Bricks and the valuable extras they contained. The characters I purchased included Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Supergirl, Batman (Classic Suit), Robin (Classic Suit), Tim Drake, Nightwing, Batgirl, Clark Kent, Cyborg, Superboy, Katana, The Joker, The Joker (Tropical), Harley Quinn, The Riddler, The Penguin, Two-Face (Classic), Two-Face, Bane, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Black Mask, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Zsasz, Mad Hatter, Killer Moth, Red Hood, Azrael, Deadshot, Lady Shiva, Vicki Vale, Captain Cold, Killer Frost, Heavy Joker Goon, Joker Goon, Riddler Goon, Two-Face Goon, Asylum Patient, Freeze Goon, LexCorp Heavy, Poison Ivy Goon, LexBot, Captain Boomerang, Lois Lane, Commissioner Gordon, Huntress, Lex Luthor, Talia al Ghul, Vixen, Shazam, Bruce Wayne, Man Bat, Clayface, Alfred Pennyworth, Asylum Inmate, LexCorp Security, Scarecrow Goon, Red Robin, Diana Prince, Hawkman, and Lucius Fox. As for the extras, I snapped them up in the following order: X6 Stud Multiplier, Minikit Detector, Regenerate Hearts, Stud Magnet, Super Goons, Fast Build, Big Heads, Red Brick Detector, X8 Stud Multiplier, X10 Stud Multiplier, Invincibility, and Grab Expert. At the end of the game I also purchased all 10 hints and all 14 sound clips. When I finally put the game away my completion percentage was at 90.7%. There is some secret stuff you can get with codes and what not, but ain’t nobody got time for that!! Great game, a lot of fun.

6) I kept rolling with Shinobi, completing the next three levels. First up was the third level of the game, after defeating the boss of the last level Jiro jumped out of the building he was in and ended up on top of a moving vehicle, what looked like a train. I made my way along it’s roof and through it’s inner compartments, destroying all of Zeed’s forces along the way. The train was full of weird equipment, the purpose of which seemed to be bizarre biological experiments. For completing the level I unlocked the I Have the Power and Cool Headed achievements. I also earned the Ribbon Magic Concept Art and Hyper Transport MG97 items. In the fourth level, after leaving the train behind, I ended up in a forested area. I proceeded, avoiding deadly spike traps and dispatching more enemies, eventually coming to a waterfall. I navigated this area, avoiding an attacking helicopter in the process, and entered what appeared to be an underground temple. After defeating a strange beast I soon came out in to the forest once again, but not long afterwards a series of helicopters took it upon themselves to harry my progress. They blasted me down in to an underground river where I had to surf on a wooden plank and avoid the hazards in the water. After exiting the water in some manner of cavern I then entered what appeared to be a secret base, soon engaging more soldiers and even a submarine, before exiting the base to take on the boss of the level, an H43 Chopper. The last level I completed was level five, and I started off in what looked like a giant industrial facility, with large fans and what not dominating the landscape. Jumping and running through this environment I made short work of enemy soldiers and ninjas, before hitching a ride on top of a jet that was being raised on a platform . . . it turned out I was actually inside an aircraft carrier! The jet took off and I hitched a ride on it, avoiding other planes shooting at me and attacking soldiers donning jetpacks. Eventually I leaped off my ride when we reached some weird, massive flying ship that looked like a fortress. Making my way over it’s decks I dealt with infantry and turrets, before plunging in to it’s innards. I fought a Fushin Ninja before coming to the craft’s Mega Core. After destroying them both I soon came to the boss of the level, a Super Solider. Upon killing it I jumped out of the craft while it blew up around me, and was caught safely by a female commander in a helicopter, who seemed to be the leader of a resistance against Zeed. For completing the level I unlocked the Afterburned Hunter achievement, as well as the Battle Horse Concept Art item. More to come!

7) As for Gex, there I was able to complete the next two levels and thus finish “Cemetery”, the first world of the game. The levels I finished were called “Disco Inferno” and “Spin-N-Puke” (defeated the world’s boss) respectively. The password I got after defeating said boss was BXRFYHGP. On to the next world!!

8) Since defeating Star Wars Angry Birds a short while back I needed another Wii title to keep me going, so I decided to start play on Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters! This game follows the story of a human named Hal Jordan, who has recently been deemed worthy of becoming a Green Lantern, a guardian of the galaxy, and is heading to the Green Lantern’s home planet of Oa to complete his training. The opening level is pretty much just a tutorial. To begin with I had a sparring match with one of the most powerful Green Lanterns around, before meeting up with Kilowog, Tomar-Re, Ch’p, and Arisia afterwards. They put me through some basic training exercises, getting me used to the controls. Not long in to it some alarms began to blare and we found out that the Manhunters (Oa’s first, failed attempt, at creating peacekeepers for the galaxy) were attacking Oa! Ignoring the threat I was tasked with battling my way across Oa, to the meeting place of the heads of the guardians. Once there they gave me my assignment, which was to travel around to different worlds and monitor each situation, helping out the senior Green Lanterns who are in charge at each location in any way possible. In order to do so I then headed to the communications room in preparation for my first journey. This looks like a decent game so far, can’t wait to explore it a little further!

9) Finally, since I completed Lego Batman 2 I needed another handheld game to consume, so I decided on Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril for the 3DS! The story behind this title is that Doctor Doom is collecting cosmic bricks that have rained down to Earth thanks to the Silver Surfer’s ruined surf board. He is teaming up with Loki to construct a powerful weapon of mass destruction out of them! Your job is to take control of a great many Marvel super heroes and stop this from happening. This Lego game is very much unlike most of the rest of them that I’ve played, in the fact that it does not have a central hub that you can roam around and collect items in, while also accessing the game’s levels. You simply pick your level off of a list and away you go. It’s kind of disappointing, but also kind of a relief at the same time!! The game is divided up in to chapters that consist of three levels each. The first chapter of the game is called “Sand Central Station”, and the three levels I completed there were as such: “Park Avenue” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Hulk and Sandman Goon characters, gaining a Collectible Card, as well as a Red Brick [X2 Super Move Slot extra]), “Sand Central Interior” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Iron Man and Hulk [Gray] characters, and gaining a Collectible Card) & “Sand Central Rooftop” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Spider-Man and Sandman characters, and gaining a Collectible Card). Afterwards I made some purchases with the Lego studs I’d collected. The characters I purchased included Hulk (Gray), Sandman, and Sandman Goon. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for the Spider-Man, Hulk, Hulk (Gray), Iron Man, and Sandman characters. The second chapter of the game was called “Baxter Building”, and the levels I knocked over there included: “The Lab” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Captain America and Spider-Man 2099 characters, and gaining a Collectible Card), “Baxter Rooftop” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Mister Fantastic and J. Jonah Jameson characters, and gaining a Collectible Card) & “Times Square” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Mary Jane Watson and Daredevil characters, gaining a Collectible Card, as well as a Red Brick [Honking Sounds extra]). Afterwards I purchased the J. Jonah Jameson, Mary Jane Watson, Daredevil, Mister Fantastic, Spider-Man 2099, and Captain America characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for the Mister Fantastic and Spider-Man 2099 characters, as well as the X2 Super Move Slot and Honking Sounds extras. The last chapter I’ve been able to get at so far is the third one, called “Oscorp”. The levels I nailed there were: “Oscorp Offices” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Hawkeye and Spider-Man [Symbiote Suit] characters, and gaining a Collectible Card), “Oscorp Basement” (completed 10/10 challenges, unlocking the Black Widow and Black Widow [Classic] characters, and gaining a Collectible Card) & “Symbiote Labs” (completed 9/10 challenges, unlocking the Gwen Stacy and Hawkeye [Classic] characters, and gaining a Red Brick [Big Heads extra]). Afterwards I purchased the Hawkeye, Black Widow, Black Widow (Classic), Gwen Stacy, Hawkeye (Classic), and Spider-Man (Symbiote Suit) characters. I also purchased the Super Move 2 extras for the Hawkeye, Hawkeye (Classic), and Spider-Man (Symbiote Suit) characters, as well as the Big Heads extra. Great game so far, can’t wait for more immersion!!

“NNGRR” - The day after my last blog I finally got around to watching what has become a legendary classic . . . Sharknado!! In the town of Santa Monica, California local surfing legend Fin Shepard is in for quite a rough day. While out on the ocean with his buddy Baz, catching some waves, he witnesses a shark attack, but soon realizes things are even worse than they seem. A massive hurricane storm system pushing up from Mexico is driving a pod of thousands of sharks up to the California coastline! After evacuating the water Fin, Baz, and the waitress that works at Fin’s pier side bar, Nova, all take shelter in said bar. However, this storm is unlike any storm ever witnessed before. Shortly afterwards Fin’s bar is under siege from intense wind and massive waves, and what’s riding in with the wind and waves are the thousands of sharks the storm has stirred up. It’s not long before the area, including nearby Los Angeles, is flooded out and there are sharks literally swimming in the streets! A mission is then undertaken by Fin, Baz, Nova, and a bar patron named George, to get to high ground away from the danger, while rescuing Fin’s estranged family along the way. But with all manner of sharks popping up from the sewers, dropping from the sky, and swimming in the streets, it’s a much more difficult challenge than it seems. Does this rag tag bunch have what it takes, or will they end up being chum like much of the rest of Los Angeles? This movie was very cool, falling right smack dab in the middle of that B movie horror/disaster genre I’ve come to love so much! I liked Ian Ziering and Tara Reid as two of the main characters, as I’ve always liked them in their past productions. But there were some cool new actors I was introduced to as well, including Jaason Simmons, Aubrey Peeples, Chuck Hittinger, and the super-hot Cassie Scerbo!! Can’t wait for the follow up film to drop . . .

A day later I finished reading a book called Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi; Into the Void. This story starts out on the world of Tython just over 25,000 years before the Battle of Yavin, and it serves as a bit of an origins story for the Jedi . . . or Je’daii as they were called oh so long ago. Tython is a world in the deep core, and the planet itself is alive with the Force and holds many mysteries. It is here that the first Je’daii Masters honed mastery of their craft, seeking to keep themselves in balance between Tython’s twin moons Ashla (the light) and Bogan (the dark). Lanoree Brock is a Je’daii Ranger and one of the Masters’ most promising disciples. She travels the Tython system and keeps the peace as Je’daii have always been tasked to do. However, when she is called back to Tython to receive orders for a new mission, she is quite curious as to it’s nature. Lanoree’s Master informs her that there is a sect of individuals who call themselves “Stargazers”, and are obsessed with obtaining an ancient piece of technology thought to be developed by the planet’s previous inhabitants, the fabled Gree. The leader of the Stargazers plans on obtaining this device, and powering it up using dark matter, in order to open up a pathway to the unknown stars beyond their home system of Tython (interstellar travel/hyperdrives is not a capability they had at this point). However, it’s believed that if this device is used it could go awry and cause the destruction of their entire system! The reason Lanoree is chosen as the individual to undertake the task of stopping these Stargazers is that her long lost brother Dalien is thought to be the one leading the movement. Dal was never able to channel the Force although everybody pushed him hard to do so, and so he grew to resent the Je’daii. After a violent incident during Lanoree and Dal’s training as youngsters, Dal fled and when Lanoree caught up to him in the ruins of the Old City, all she found were his shredded and bloodied robes. Taking along a shady Twi’lek named Tre Sana for the ride, Lanoree must hunt down her ghost of a brother and do what must be done . . . but does she have it inside of her to pull the trigger, so to speak? This was my introduction to this time frame in the Star Wars universe and I quite enjoyed it. I love the Jedi origins aspect of the story, and although it was full of the typical type of Star Wars action, there was also lots of mystery to it with all of the ancient mythology that was hinted at and explored. The book also came with a short excerpt from a graphic novel that takes place in this part of the universe and timeline, as well as a very short story that details Lanoree’s last mission leading up to her confrontation with the Stargazers. Great read!!

Later that same day I sat down and watched another epic movie journey I had in the works, called . . . Robo Croc!! This tale begins with a military led shuttle launch somewhere off the coast of Florida. Just after liftoff there is a technical issue though and the craft explodes, sending it’s cargo down to the ground far below. The cargo in question is a top secret military weapon known as nano robots, tiny robotic organisms capable of infiltrating host subjects and converting them in to robots themselves, and taking directives form the U.S. military. This dangerous cargo happens to land in a theme park that is part zoo and part adventure land, containing both a water park and an ATV test track. The nano bots land in the paddock of the park’s massive Australian Saltwater Crocodile, named Stella, and immediately they infest her body, beginning a transformation. Meanwhile, not long after arriving at work the park’s animal warden, Duffy, is told there’s been a disturbance, that Stella is missing as is the employee who feeds the animals. Soon afterwards the military arrive and take over the search for the croc and their payload, and the two sides are immediately at odds over how to proceed with said search. Joining Duffy on his crusade to recapture Stella and save the park is their new biologist, Jane. The two immediately get to work, but the action heightens when Stella is able to break out of the zoo portion of the park and wander freely in to the ATV track and the water park, where Duffy’s son just so happens to be enjoying the afternoon! It’s a race for survival, and all the while the people of the park who are being killed and injured don’t realize they are being manipulated by the head of the nano robot project, Dr. Riley, who is mercilessly using the situation as a chance for a field test of sorts. Riley may have bitten off more than she could chew with Duffy and Jane though, but just how many people will die before they can stop the madness? This was another great B horror movie, again right up my alley! I really like the nano bot premise. Although I’ve experienced a lot of nano bot exposure in my sci fi wanderings, I’ve never seen it used in this sort of fashion. The action was great as well, and I really liked the cast, none of whom I’d ever heard of before. I am honoured to insert this title in to my DVD shelf!!

For a short while now James has been on a bit of a super hero kick, his favourite for some reason being The Flash! So we decided to let him start watching some super hero movies that aren’t too, too violent. So the weekend after my last blog we began with Spider-Man, from 2002! As you would have guessed, Peter Parker is the main subject of this film. He is a nerdy high schooler who is way in to photography, and because of this he is the subject of ridicule, often at the hands of his crush Mary-Jane’s jock boyfriend, Flash. However, when on a science field trip one day Peter gets bit by a genetically modified spider, and it changes his life. Waking up the next morning after going to bed early because he was not feeling well from the effects of the bite, Peter finds out that he’s feeling great, appears to be in much better shape, and can do all sorts of things physically that he never would have been able to before. He also discovers that he can shoot actual spider webs out of his wrists! Needless to say his next bullying session from Flash ends in a much different manner! Energized with his newfound, remarkable abilities, Peter soon casts himself as Spider-Man (or the Human Spider if he had his way!) and roams the streets fighting crime. Some cast him as a vigilante villain, while others praise his proactive stance on crime. While all this is happening Peter’s best friend’s (Harry) dad, Norman Osborn, is experiencing trouble at his company. Oscorp is a massive supplier of futuristic arms to the U.S. military, but unfortunately the military is not pleased with Oscorp’s recent progress on a project. Taking matters in to his own hands, Norman forces a co-worker to use an experimental gas on him, but the procedure is cut short when Norman begins convulsing. Although he survives, Norman is mentally altered and he assumes an alter ego . . . which becomes known as The Green Goblin! After the shareholders decide to cut Norman out of the equation, effectively firing him, the pure fury of the Goblin is then unleashed. There to combat him though is your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, and their many battles are epic! However, it all culminates one evening when the Goblin kidnaps Mary Jane and lures Spidey in to a trap only one of them will come out of alive. Just who will it be? I remember this being a great movie when it was released, and it is still a great watch over a decade later. The effects are still really good, it’s got a classic Spider-Man plot and feel to it, and the action is well mixed with some important character/plot development. The cast is really great too. I love Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, he just seems so perfect for the role! And then you’ve got James Franco, Willem Dafoe, and Kirsten Dunst too, pretty solid! I wonder what we’ll choose next . . . ?

The following week I finished reading the second book in The Seven Wonders series, called Lost in Babylon. This story picks up just days after the four kids’ last adventure in Greece, with Jack, Aly and Cass very worried about Marco, who disappeared with the flight Loculus at the end of their time in Greece. However, there really isn’t time to worry as Professor Bhegad and the Karai Institute have their next mission planned, to head to Iraq, the site of ancient Babylon. Bhegad believes the next Loculus is located where the Hanging Gardens of Babylon once stood, another of Earth’s ancient wonders. Upon arrival in Iraq it’s not long before they discover Marco and a happy reunion ensues! He apologizes for taking off, but his excuse seems pretty flimsy. Marco proceeds to show his mates a secret he found while in Iraq. Entering the Euphrates River, down below the surface they pass through a portal which actually takes them to ancient Babylon . . . which has been stuck in some sort of other dimensional time loop for thousands of years! Befriending a girl named Dalia, who ends up being a long lost descendant of Atlantis too, they try to make friends with the evil king in an attempt to gain access to the Hanging Gardens. With Dalia’s help they eventually do, and after battling through many traps they find the invisibility Loculus. However, removing it from it’s shrine causes all sorts of disasters to erupts, which seem like they will eventually destroy this mysterious land. Heading back to the river and informing Bhegad of the situation, the group then heads back to the Institute, eventually returning to Babylon with a device that should hopefully replicate the Loculus and allow them to get what they need, while keeping Babylon intact along the way. But much to their dismay, Jack, Aly and Cass never get to see this plan through, as Marco betrays them. He’s secretly been in touch with the Karai Institute’s rivals, The Massa, and it’s not long before they have both Loculi and all four kids in their possession. The Massa take their captives to a secret base in Egypt, where they believe another one of the Loculi are hidden away inside the great pyramid of Giza. But before The Massa can put them to work, Jack, Aly and Cass escape along with both Loculi, in a daring effort that is aided by a mysterious member of The Massa. However, there is still much to be done for the three kids and the Karai Institute, as they need to stay one step ahead of The Massa in the search for the remaining Loculi. Who will manage to penetrate the pyramid of Giza and find the next Loculus first? Is Marco lost to the Karai Institute and his friends forever? And just who is the mysterious person who seems to have Jack and his friends’ best interests at heart? Unfortunately I’m going to have to wait a while to find out!! This was another great read, a gripping blend of action and ancient secrets. Amazing how much you can learn from a “kids” book!!

Last Friday the 2013-2014 NHL season drew to a close when the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers 4 games to 1 in the Stanley Cup finals, netting them the greatest trophy in sports for the second time in the last three years! The Kings’ road was a tough one. After getting down 3 games to none in their opening round series against the San Jose Sharks, they stormed back to win four in a row and take the series in stunning fashion! After that they faced two more of the league’s more elite teams in the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks, and those two series both went the full 7 games as well. The series against Chicago was so good it was almost like the Stanley Cup finals in itself, better in fact than the actual finals were. As for the Rangers, they were the team that rose to the top out of a field that wasn’t that great to begin with in the East. They made a slightly better showing in the finals than I thought they would, but I hate that team, as I normally hate all Rangers’ teams, so to see them outclassed and out-experienced by a bigger, more exciting L.A. team was sweet music to my ears and eyes. The Kings have become one of my favourite teams in recent years for a number of reasons. They are big and like to punish their opponents with relentless physical attacks, and they are also heavily tilted in their Canadian content (obviously). They have a large number of Canadians on their team, as the eventual Stanley Cup winning team tends to have each and every year. Not only that, but they have some local guys from my hometown in Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty, and a handful of other guys from nearby towns like Woodstock, Toronto, St. Catharines, etc. Thank you Los Angeles Kings, for ensuring that for one more season at least, a team full of douche bags didn’t escape with this most coveted trophy!!

The weekend after the Stanley Cup was awarded I finished reading the second book in The House of Secrets series, called Battle of the Beasts! To start this second installment off it’s been a number of weeks since the Walker children’s last adventure ended, where they were sucked in to a mishmash of fictional stories created by Denver Kristoff, the former owner of the old San Francisco home they now live in. During their intense experiences they dealt with evil doers like pirates and warriors, not to mention Denver’s evil daughter, the Wind Witch, who manipulated Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor in to finding the powerful Book of Doom and Desire for her, which she was planning on using to rule the world. After Eleanor managed to banish the Wind Witch, the recent past had been mostly uneventful, the biggest problem the kids faced were bullies at their new school and such issues. But one day that all changes when Cordelia suffers through some bizarre physical ailments that can’t be explained. She seems to be turning to ice underneath her skin, and her teeth are falling out. It all culminates when Denver Kristoff manages to capture Eleanor, and during her older siblings’ rescue effort the Wind Witch is born from Cordelia’s mouth! Fortunately for Brendan, Eleanor, and Will (a fictional hero they picked up in their last adventure), Cordelia comes back to life afterwards and the Wind Witch is mystified. It’s not too much later that the Walkers are forced in to another hodge podge of Denver Kristoff’s tales, once again being coerced in to doing the Wind Witch’s bidding. Soon they are facing gladiators in the coliseum of Rome, which is ruled by a toad of an Emperor named Occipus, they come under attack from robotic Nazi soldiers from World War II, as well as help Tibetan monks defend their monastery against fearsome creatures called Frost Beasts. Throughout their journey the primary goal is to stick together and find a way home (a goal that is broken by Brendan temporarily), while denying the Wind Witch the power she lusts for. Using their courage and wily thinking the kids may just be able to do so, but along the way they make a startling discovery . . . a discovery that insinuates the Wind Witch is actually a long lost family member. This was another cool story, I find this series to be very fast paced and action packed. And the story is pretty cool too, it will be interesting to see where this revelation goes over the remaining books in the series.

A couple nights ago we finished watching the second season of Orange is the New Black, a Netflix original, which was ready for viewing in full on June 06 I do believe. To start the season off Chapman is mysteriously being transferred to a facility in Chicago, but she doesn’t know why. Chapman believes she is being disciplined for her violent run in with Pennsatucky, but it is actually so she can appear in court to testify against Alex’s former drug cartel running boss. Alex tells Piper to lie and say she’s never met him, in fear of her personal safety, but when Alex takes the stand she caves and tells the whole truth, meaning she goes free while Piper is still stuck in jail and could potentially have one more rap added to her sheet! Returning to Litchfield the mostly peaceful life the inmates lead is about to be turned upside down. A new inmate known by the name of “V” enters the fray, a heroin dealer who used to be involved in current inmate Tasty’s life. V immediately begins sowing distrust among the inmates and they soon find themselves segregated in to groups according to race. She also begins finding a way to bring cigarettes in to the prison, and not long afterwards drugs. Red, no longer in charge of the kitchen but wanting to get in on the action as she is a rival of V’s from one of her previous stints at Litchfield, also finds a way to bring in other contraband, through the prison’s greenhouse. In the meantime there is much going on amongst the prison’s staff as well. The cover up of inmate Diaz’s pregnancy gets returning guard Mendez sent to jail, Healey must deal with his issues of anger and unwillingness to help the women he is in charge of caring for, and biggest of all, with Chapman’s help Caputo takes assistant warden Figueroa down on charges of embezzlement! There are many other plots going on as well, with the action all culminating in a pretty explosive episode that seals off a lot of storylines, but leaves many others wide open. What a great show, absolutely everything about it. Now we have the long wait while season three is produced!!

The last little while I’ve been listening to Super Collider (2013), the most recent release from Megadeth!! This band was formed in the early 1980’s by front man Dave Mustaine and bass player Dave Ellefson, and are pioneers of the thrash/heavy metal sound and scene. Mustaine actually played in Metallica before forming Megadeth, but he was a bit too wild for those guys!! In total the band has released fourteen studio albums, and their sound is for the most part very fast, very guitar driven, and their subject matter touches on the issues of life and death, religion, rebellion against authority and other social issues, and much more. One of their trademarks is Mustaine’s voice, which is one of the coolest in the business, a very gruff type of growl. This album is a very excellent listen, my favourite tracks on it include “Kingmaker”, “Super Collider”, “Built for War”, “Dance in the Rain”, “Forget to Remember” & “Cold Sweat”. Beauty!!

Spring is a time for clean-up and renewal . . . and for starting some new games!!

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The last few weeks have been a veritable smorgasbord of activity, but mostly in a good way fortunately! The weekend after my last blog post was Mother’s Day, so mrs. darthcobain17 planned a weekend in Niagara Falls. On Friday night we went down there and stayed at a hotel while James overnighted at the mother in law’s place. We had an amazing buffet dinner, then lost $85 at the casino! However, we got up early the next morning and had a cheap breakfast, then won back some money, about $150, which took care of our losses and paid for the previous night’s dinner. Tadow!! James and the mother in law then met us at the indoor water park attached to our hotel and we spent the day doing the slides, wave pool, etc., followed by dinner at the Hard Rock. It was then home to chill for the rest of the weekend. The next weekend was our May 2-4 long weekend, we just puttered around town until Sunday, when we went to Burlington to spend the night with our friends Rob and Lisa (who own the cottage). We got drunk, and the kids had a blast playing in the basement. As for last weekend, since the pool opens up at the end of this week we had to clean out the shed and get the yard all organized and in shape. It was pretty much two days of mildly intense labour, but it’s all done now and the yard is looking good. In the meantime I’ve started riding my bike to work, and even installed an app on my phone that tracks all my statistics (turns out my ride to work is just under 11 kilometers, when I thought it was only 7 or 8!). Combined with my new diet I’ve now lost about 16 pounds in the last couple months (give or take depending on the day). As for James, he finished Beavers with a bang, spending all day at the Beaveree gathering last weekend, and he also finished his art class. That means all he has going on now are swimming lessons and his latest round of golf lessons. So nice, that was way too much activity. During all of this crazy madness I/we were able to complete the following . . .

1) On MLB 2K11 the next two series of my season are in the books, although they were both quick two game sets. In the first series I visited Kansas City, here’s how it went against the Royals: won @ Kansas City 8-2 & won @ Kansas City 7-3. It was then on to Chicago to play the White Sox, which went as such: won @ Chicago 6-3 & won @ Chicago 2-1.

2) Finally . . . finally . . . we have completed Star Wars: Angry Birds! At least to the best of our ability anyways. The final stats unfolded as such: “Tatooine” (completed 40/40 levels, earned 117/120 stars, scored 2300470 points, and earned 9/40 gold medals), “Death Star” (completed 40/40 levels, earned 91/120 stars, scored 2900510 points, and earned 5/40 gold medals), “Hoth” (completed 40/40 levels, earned 101/120 stars, scored 3214005 points, and earned 4/40 gold medals), “Cloud City” (completed 20/20 levels, earned 47/60 stars, scored 1815870 points, and earned 3/20 gold medals), “Boba Fett Missions” (completed 10/10 levels, earned 25/30 stars, scored 1005340 points, and earned 3/10 gold medals), “Path of the Jedi” (completed 40/40 levels, earned 91/120 stars, scored 2913890 points, and earned 5/40 gold medals), “Exclusive Levels” (completed 20/20 levels, earned 50/60 stars, scored 1868955 points, and earned 6/20 gold medals) & “Bonus” (completed 17/17 levels, earned 36/51 stars, and scored 1296190 points). Awesome game!!

3) James and I also finally got back on the Donkey Kong Country Returns bandwagon, and we’ve managed to complete another world! This fifth world was called “Forest”, there we beat the first nine levels, including: “Vine Valley” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Clingy Swingy” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Flutter Flyaway” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Tippin’ Totems” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Longshot Launch” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Springy Spores” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Wigglevine Wonders” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Muncher Marathon” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Mangoruby Run” (defeated boss). More to come!

4) The next five games of my season are complete on NHL ’04, the results came out as such: won @ New York Islanders 8-5, won @ Dallas 7-4, won @ Phoenix 5-4, won vs. Washington 14-7 & won vs. Atlanta 7-5.

5) With all of the games that were finished last time around, I had to start up on some new ones. First came Lego Batman 2 for the Nintendo DS! The story starts at a Gotham ceremony announcing the “Man of the Year”, where Bruce Wayne beats out Lex Luthor for the honours. Before Bruce can accept the award though, The Joker shows up with his goons and they disrupt the proceedings in only the way such a madman can! Bruce suits up to do battle with The Joker and his allies, but where will Lex Luthor fit in to the proceedings, and will Batman be able to handle so many villains all on his own? On my first trip through the game I managed to complete the whole thing, although I now have to go back through it and collect all the goodies I couldn’t access originally. My play through 14 levels unfolded as so: “Gotham Theatre” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, and unlocked the Batman [Sensor Suit] character), “Joker Getaway” (earned True Hero status, unlocked the Batman [Power Suit] and Robin [Magnet Suit] characters, found 1/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Tim Drake character, and found the Red Brick [Stud Magnet extra]), “Arkham Estate” (earned True Hero status, unlocked the Robin [Hazard Suit] character, and found 3/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Two-Face Goon characters), “Arkham Asylum” (earned True Hero status, and unlocked the Batman [Electric Suit] and Robin [Ice Suit] characters), “Ace Chemicals” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, unlocked the Superman character, found 2/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Black Mask and Freeze Goon characters, and found the Red Brick [X2 Stud Multiplier extra]), “Juggernaut Chase” (earned True Hero status, and found 3/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Heavy Joker Goon, Lexbot, and Black Canary characters), “The Batcave” (earned True Hero status, and found 1/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Batgirl character), “Assault the VTOL” (earned True Hero status), “Attack on LexCorp” (earned True Hero status, and found 1/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Superboy character), “Robot Sky Battle” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 5/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Lady Shiva, Ra’s al Ghul, Supergirl, Hawkgirl, and LexCorp Heavy characters, and found the Red Brick [Big Heads extra]), “Gotham Metro” (earned True Hero status, and found 2/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Killer Croc and Azrael characters), “Brawl at City Hall” (earned True Hero status, and found 2/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Red Hood and Deadshot characters), “Wayne Industries” (earned True Hero status, unlocked the Green Lantern character, and found 4/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Green Arrow, The Joker [Tropical], Two-Face [Classic], and Cyborg characters) & “The Final Battle” (earned True Hero status, found 1/1 sound clips, found 5/5 Minikit Canisters which unlocked the Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, Martian Manhunter, and Flash characters, and found the Red Brick [Super Goons extra]). Of course immediately after finding the Red Brick that contained the X2 Stud Multiplier extra, I purchased it right away to boost my earnings. This is a pretty fun, fast game, and there is still lots of work to be done!

6) The other new handheld adventure I began was for the 3DS, the title being . . . Shinobi!! This game is part of the Shinobi ninja franchise that began all those many years ago back on the Sega systems I believe it was. Anyhoo, in this game you control a ninja named Jiro Musachi, and the year is 1256. His village is being attacked by some rivals so he is called in to repel the invaders, who happen to be led by his arch enemy Zeed. During the fighting Jiro is somehow warped ahead in the future to the year 2056, to a place called Zeed Island, which his mortal enemy is in total control of! Your task is to take control of Jiro and fight your way through all of Zeed’s forces, not knowing what you’ll find at the end of the road. So far I’ve completed just the first two levels of the game as it’s quite tricky, even on the easy level! In the first level I blazed through my village, facing down many enemies, before hopping on horseback and chasing down yet more baddies. Eventually I came to a river and navigated it with a log raft, also encountering some waterfalls, before coming to a craggy, snow covered landscape. At the top of these crags was the first boss of the game, a femme named Yuki Onna. I took her down with prejudice!! For completing the level I unlocked many achievements, including Two Left Feet, All Fun And Games, Its Personal, Float Like a Butterfly, Riddle of Steel, Die Another Day, Dry Iced, and Oboro Clan Village Hunter. I also unlocked some items, including Jiro Concept Art #1, Golden Axe Weapon, Shadow Master Costume, Chainsaw Weapon, Infinite Lightning Magic Cheat, Regenerate Health Cheat, Oboro Clan Village Music, and Japan Sunset Concept Art. In between the first and second level is when Jiro gets sent ahead in the future, before the level started he managed to slip his captors, escaping from the helicopter they were transporting him in. When he touches down on the roof of a moving jeep, in the middle of a highway, on the highly militarized Zeed Island though . . . the action soon picks up. Sticking to the roofs of these military vehicles I defended myself against other vehicles intent on shooting me down, and not long afterwards I took out a behemoth of a military vehicle called a Zeed Goliath II. Upon leaving the highway behind I had to make my way through the streets of Zeed Island, with some detours up and through various buildings along the way. In one such building, on the very top floor, I encountered the end of the level and the second boss of the game, a character known as Trickshot . . . who I destroyed! The achievements I unlocked in this level included Not In The Face, Quit Poking Me, Ninja Reflex, and Double Tap. The items I obtained include Cloven Sword Weapon, Infinite Fire Magic Cheat, Ninja Strike Concept Art, and City of Zeed Music. Intense . . .

7) Finally, I also began play on a PS1 title I picked up over the winter which I’ve really been looking forward to, the game in question being Gex. This is the story of a wise cracking gecko named Gex, who lives in California and is OBSESSED with television! One day while watching something on his massive TV he swallows a fly, not knowing that it is actually a small robotic device built by Rez, overlord of the Media Dimension. Not long after Rez reaches through Gex’s TV and drags him in to this virtual dimension. It is then up to Gex to make his way through this strange land and confront Rez in order to obtain his freedom. Will Gex epically fail, or is he made of stern enough stuff to face this challenge head on? From the game’s main hub, which is called “The Dome”, I entered the only world I could access at this point, called “Cemetery”. In this world I’ve completed the first three levels so far, which include “Frankie and Heli”, “Grave Danger” & “Tomato Soup”. The password I was given after defeating Tomato Soup was SVZFKHGP. Fun game so far, I love all of Gex’s TV inspired quips!

"NNGRR" - The week after my last blog was posted I finished watching the first volume from season two of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, called Mutagen Mayhem. This disc contains the first 6 episodes of the second season, and it starts off with a bang! By accident the fearsome foursome drop over 60 canisters of mutagen around New York City, and the situation immediately begins causing a multitude of problems. First and foremost is that April O’Neil’s dad is turned in to a mutant bat, which prompts April to have a falling out with the Turtles, her hoping to never see them again. But the brothers have more pressing issues to deal with, unfortunately. While out trying to recover these canisters they have to fight off mutant squirrels (known as Squirrelanoids), soldier on through Leonardo’s leadership issues, survive an encounter with Dogpound after he gets a nasty mutagen makeover, stopping The Pulverizer after he samples some mutagen in Donny’s lab and then busts out to go on a rampage, as well as Mikey sampling some of said mutagen and developing . . . shellacne!! Lost amongst all of this action though is the big picture, the fact that Shredder and Karai have been dealing with the Kraang, contracting them to build super robotic Foot Soldiers to utilize in their war against the Turtles! When these Foot Soldiers are deployed by Karai she has a certain target in mind . . . that being April O’Neil! Being hunted by these robotic killers may be just what is in order to reunite April with her extended turtle family, but will they survive to enjoy another day together? This was a short but cool sequence of episodes, introducing a great new character in Casey Jones, building on Donny’s heartbreaking devotion to April, as well as giving us a ton more action and hilarity! One of my favourite parts was the Squirrelanoids arc, those things were taken right out of the Alien franchise, so cool!! Can’t wait for July when the next installment of episodes are slated for release . . .

Not long after finishing the Turtles I also completed my read of the seventh and final book in the Septimus Heap series, called Fyre! To start this story there are a couple of main plotlines developing. The first is that Marcellus Pye, the ageless alchemist, has fired up the mysterious and powerful alchemic fyre underneath the castle. It is most unlike normal fire and in ancient times was shut down by previous ExtraOrdinary Wizard Julius Pike, for reasons unknown and is now a thing of lore. The other happening is that Jenna cannot sense the ailing Dragon Boat’s heartbeat, and she fears the worst. While Septimus is brought in on the inner workings of the fyre by Marcellus, promising to keep it a secret from Marcia until the time is right, Jenna seeks a remedy for the Dragon Boat, searching out Aunt Zelda first to try and find a solution. However, while all of this is going on the evil two-faced ring that once belonged to DomDaniel and was most recently plucked off the severed thumb of Merrin Meredith, has become unstable and escaped it’s highly guarded prison. For the two wizards entrapped in the ring, Shamandrigger Saarn and Dramindonnor Naarn, finally found a way to escape the ring and have taken over the bodies of Silas Heap’s grubby brothers Edmund and Ernold, as their physical hosts. Suddenly the issues surrounding the fyre and the Dragon Boat are put on the backburner, as the castle is faced with it’s biggest threat yet! Will the cast of usual suspects along with some outside help, most notably the original ExtraOrdinary Wizard Hotep-Ra, be able to stop these two fiends and save the castle, all in time for Jenna to finally be coronated Queen . . . or is it finally lights out for the Heap family? This final story was every bit as good and captivating as the other six books in the series, and it really put a nice, closure filled ending on most of the storylines that rose up throughout this series. It’s one of those bittersweet moments, like when I finished all of the Harry Potter books! So glad to have read them, but sad it’s over . . .

On the Saturday of the long weekend we took James to see Rio 2, and it was pretty good. I liked the first one, although I don’t find bird movies all that interesting to begin with, so I’m glad this second one was as entertaining as the first. The two main characters of the first film, rare Spix’s Macaw birds named Blu and Jewel, thought to be the last of their kind, are happily living life together in Rio with their human caretakers Linda and Rodrigo. They now have three children together but life has become a bit stale for Jewel, especially seeing as how Blu, Carla, Bia and Tiago all tend to indulge in human habits a little too much for her liking. However, when Jewel sees a segment on the news from Linda and Rodrigo, who are in the Amazon setting free a rescued bird, they report on evidence pointing towards more Spix’s Macaws in existence! Jewel soon has Blu convinced that a family trip to the Amazon is in order, so along with a number of their friends the whole crew soon takes flight. Upon arrival Jewel soon finds these reclusive Macaws and is thrilled to discover that her father is actually in charge of the flock! Getting used to life back in the wild Jewel and the kids are soon thriving, but Blu wants to head back to Rio as he feels like he doesn’t quite fit in. But there isn’t time to worry about it as all during their trip they were unknowingly pursued by a familiar enemy who soon shows himself. But their true enemy is the less than scrupulous man who is illegally logging the area. Soon not only the birds, Linda and Rodrigo are at risk, but the entire ecosystem is as well. Can Blu dig deep and convince his newfound extended family of the danger, and that it’s OK to work with some humans, or will these Macaws be pushed even further towards extinction and be forced to find a new home? This was a good film, I like the message it gives about protecting wildlife and ecosystems, bringing issues like illegal logging to the forefront. It’s nice to teach kids these lessons early so that they understand them and hopefully grasp their importance for the future, when they are grown up and can potentially help do something about it. I also liked the animation, very well done, and it was a pretty deep voice cast too, including Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan, Andy Garcia, Kristin Chenoweth, and Jake T. Austin, among others.

This past weekend we watched a DVD I picked up at the Sobey’s checkout the other day, and that would be The Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer! This is the second movie in the franchise, and as the story begins Reed Richards and Sue Storm are trying to get married for like the fourth time, hoping that on this go around no grave peril will prevent them from tying the knot. However, in the days leading up to the wedding anomalies from around the globe are reported, such as a sea in China magically solidifying, snow falling on the pyramids at Giza, among many other unbelievable instances. The military contacts Reed and asks him to build a tracker for the object flying through the Earth’s atmosphere that seems to be causing these disturbances. Reed does so behind Sue’s back, and it appears as though his task is fulfilled. But on the day of the wedding this object strikes in New York City, causing a mass blackout and ruining Reed and Sue’s big day. Johnny Storm takes to the skies as the Human Torch and chases down this mysterious object, ultimately realizing it is an all silver, humanoid type creature riding what appears to be a surf board! Barely surviving the encounter Johnny reports back to his teammates and the military, and the chase is then on to subdue this “Silver Surfer”. Reed discovers a pattern in the Surfer’s global appearances and eventually they catch up to him and figure out a strategy to separate him from his board, which is the source of his power. A couple of things happen afterwards though that may change the course of the team’s actions. First of all, in the Surfer’s previous journeys he was approached by Dr. Doom (who the Surfer inadvertently freed with his cosmic energy) for a partnership, which the Surfer denied but in so doing, unknowingly healed Doom’s wounds. Dr. Doom then approaches the military and reaches an accord, offering to help them deal with the Silver Surfer and the problems he’s brought to Earth. As for the Fantastic Four, Sue talks privately with the Surfer and finds out he is from a far away planet and serves an entity called Galactus, a being that swallows planet’s whole without the slightest hesitation. The Surfer is bound to Galactus to scout out new worlds, lest his own world suffer the same fate. Realizing the Surfer is not the threat they first thought he was, he must be made to realize he has the choice to fight back against Galactus. Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben Grimm have their work cut out for them, to help the Surfer find his way while also dealing with interference from both the military and Dr. Doom. This was a pretty cool movie. I feel like the Fantastic Four kind of get lost amongst all the other Marvel franchises that are so huge these days like Spider Man, X-Men, etc. These are nice, bright movies with a lot of action, great effects, and they’ve got an awesome cast to boot. Jessica Alba is so hot!!

For quite a while now I’ve been listening to a couple albums I picked up this past year, both from The Toadies. I reviewed one of their albums last summer, Feeler, and gave a bit of info on the band, but it’s been a while so let’s rehash. The Toadies are an outfit from Fort Worth, Texas that formed back in the very late 1980’s. They gained fame a number of years later, when their debut album Rubberneck was released in 1994 and was a runaway smash hit! After this vast success the going became tough though, and a follow up album wasn’t dropped until well after Y2K . . . and not long afterwards the band broke up. However, they reformed in 2006 and have released a few more albums for us, two of which I’m going to mention in this blog! The band is probably labeled as “alternative”, but they are a very fierce kind of alternative. They can play fast and heavy, but without being heavy metal. And as with Nirvana, a band who wrote amazing songs that were made even better by a lead singer who possessed such a unique and amazing voice, The Toadies remarkable musical escapades are only enhanced by lead singer Todd Lewis’ raspy and highly recognizable pipes. Anyhoo, the first album I’ve been listening to is called No Deliverance. It was released in 2008 and is their third studio effort. Although there are a couple of tracks on this album that are a bit slowed down and sludged out, it is for the most part a fast and exciting listen that gives you little chance to take a breath. Their fast and relentless sound is as usual blanketed by Lewis’ growl, and on the title track there is even a bit of a bluesy influence. I have come to consider this album in the running for my favourite Toadies album, along with Rubberneck and Hell Below/Stars Above. My favourite tracks on No Deliverance include “So Long Lovey Eyes”, “Nothing to Cry About”, “I am a Man of Stone”, “Hell in High Water” & “Don’t go my Way”.

The other album I’ve been listening to, their most recent effort (2012) and fifth studio album in total, is called Play. Rock. Music. And actually, after giving it one last full listen before sitting down to type this, I think it’s even better than No Deliverance and easily in my discussion for overall favourite album also! It’s very similar in sound to No Deliverance, but amazingly I think it’s an even more complete record, believe it or not. I had a real hard time narrowing down my favourite tracks on it, I ended up pretty much choosing the entire album, including “Rattler’s Revenge”, “Get Low”, “Summer of the Strange”, “Magic Bullet”, “Animals”, “Laments of a Good Man”, “Epic Castles” & “We Burned the City Down”. So good!!

Booze, drugs, poon tang, and Lamborghinis? I should have been a stock broker in the late 80's, my bad!!

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The last few weeks have been wicked busy in a whole lot of ways, it’s been friggin’ crazy! The weekend after my last blog finally saw our 10km race come around. On Saturday the mother in law came down so she’d be able to bring James to the race and watch us. We went down to the park and picked up our shirts and race numbers, then on Sunday morning the day finally arrived. I stayed with mrs. darthcobain17 for the first few kilometers, until we saw James. But after that I took off and finished with a time of 1 hour and 44 seconds. If only my knees hadn’t acted up I would have finished well within the hour, dammit!! The following weekend was the Easter weekend. On Good Friday we had my parents over for dinner, then on Saturday we went down to Grimsby and visited with mrs. darthcobain17’s family. We came back home on Sunday and then on the holiday Monday the weather was so nice James and a bunch of his friends wanted to go down to the park, so off we went! We unwittingly got sunburnt in the process, but so be it. As for this past weekend, it happened to be one of my favourite weekends of the year . . . guy’s weekend at my buddy’s cottage!! Unfortunately I missed Free Comic Book Day because of it, but this is one of those rare instances where I’ll take the trade-off. My friend who owns the cottage rented a big truck as we needed to move a picnic table up there, as well as a playhouse for his two boys that he had all in pieces. Once we got up there (just three of us, as our one buddy Paul couldn’t go) we got pretty wasted, smoked a lot of butts, ate a lot of food, and watched a lot of movies. We also managed to build the playhouse and take a bunch of crap to the dump. So all in all pretty productive!! Unfortunately afterwards it was back to reality. As for weekday stuff, James has moved up a level and started a new round of swimming lessons, and he’s also doing well in his art classes. On his last Beavers night before I went to the cottage they went to a scrap/recycling yard, and it was pretty cool what we got to see, I’ll post a few pics on that, as well as some other stuff like our run and what not later. The Stanley Cup playoffs are now in to the second round and so far all my favourites are still alive, it should be interesting!! Even though we’ve been so busy I was able to get a lot of games played, books read, and stuff watched. Here it all is . . .

1) Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7 is now complete, and what a finish!! Before I got back in to the actual levels I made some purchases and gained some unlocks in the game hubs. First off I bought the Score X8, Score X10 & Regenerate Hearts extras. I also unlocked the Madam Irma Pince, Anthony Goldstein, Cho Chang, Umbridge (Wizengamot), Draco Malfoy, Neville (Waiter), Ginny (Dress), Grindelwald (Old), Antonin Dolohov, Grindelwald (Young), Professor McGonagall, Blaise Zabini, Goyle (Jumper), Draco (Sweater), Neville (Tank Top), Marcus Belby, Luna (Pink Dress), Moaning Myrtle, Fat Lady, Madam Pomfrey, McGonagall (Pyjamas), Regulus Black, Dumbledore (Young) & Sirius (Azkaban) characters. The Red Bricks I managed to find along the way included the Fall Rescue, Extra Hearts, Invincibility, Fast Magic, Character Studs & Super Strength extras. I also managed to help 6 Students in Peril and found 4 Gold Bricks, afterwards purchasing 12 more Gold Bricks. I then went and purchased all of the 6 Red Bricks I just mentioned, before entering the Lego bonus level and completing it by finding 1 million studs (earning a Gold Brick in the process). It was then high time to get back in the game! Next up was the “The Deathly Hallows pt. 1” chapter of the game, where I fully completed all six levels, as such: “The Seven Harrys” (unlocked the Mad-Eye Moody, Hermione (Red Dress) & Ron (Wedding) characters, and found the last remaining Crest Piece), “Magic is Might” (unlocked the Harry (Albert Runcorn) & Hermione (Mafalda) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “In Grave Danger” (unlocked the Lily Potter, Bathilda (Snake) & Harry (Godric’s Hollow) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “Sword and Locket” (unlocked the Harry (Locket) character, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 2 remaining Crest Pieces), “Lovegood’s Lunacy” (unlocked the Xenophilius (Luna) & Skeleton characters, and found the 2 remaining Crest Pieces) & “Dobby!” (unlocked the Ollivander, Wormtail & Dobby characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces). Of course, every time I helped a Student in Peril, earned True Wizard status, or found all Crest Pieces, I also earned a Gold Brick. So for the action I just described I also came away with 10 Gold Bricks. I then went on a spending spree in the game hub, purchasing a gaggle of characters! Said characters included Xenophilius (Wedding), Xenophilius (Luna), Xenophilius Lovegood, Mrs. Black, Waitress (Luchino), Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle (Orphanage), Thorfinn Rowle, Sirius Black, Sirius (Azkaban), Snape (Underwear), Seamus (Winter), Professor McGonagall, McGonagall (Pyjamas), Nymphadora Tonks, Tonks (Pink Coat), Ollivander, Wormtail, Petunia Dursley, Petunia (Green Coat), Pius Thicknesse, Professor Flitwick, Professor Sprout, Regulus Black, Molly Weasley, Molly (Apron), Ministry Guard, Milk Man, Marietta Edgecombe, Marcus Belby, Mad-Eye Moody, Madam Rosmerta, Madam Pomfrey, Madam Hooch, Luna (Blue Jumper), Luna (Overalls), Luna (Purple Coat), Luna (Yellow Dress), Luna (Pink Dress), Luna Lovegood, Lucius (Death Eater), Lily Potter, Fred (Pyjamas), Fred (OWLs), Fred Weasley, George (Pyjamas), George (OWLs), George Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Ginny (Dress), Ginny (Pyjamas), Gregorovitch, Grindelwald (Young), Grindelwald (Old), Hagrid, Hagrid (Wedding), Madam Irma Pince, James Potter (Young), Katie Bell, Fang, Emmeline Vance, Elphias Doge, Professor Dumbledore, Dumbledore (Cursed), Dumbledore (Young), Professor Umbridge, Umbridge (Wizengamot), Antonin Dolohov, Dolohov (Workman), Dean Thomas, Dean (Winter), Skeleton, Cornelius Fudge, Fudge (Wizengamot), Cormac McLaggen, Cormac (Suit), Anthony Goldstein, Bathilda (Snake), Bellatrix Lestrange, Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley (Wedding), Charlie Weasley, Blaise Zabini, Blaise (Black Shirt), Dobby, Kreacher, Cho Chang & Cho (Winter). On the way to the store to purchase them all I also found yet another Gold Brick! Getting back to some game action I then began on the “The Deathly Hallows pt. 2” chapter of the game, playing the first three levels, which went as such: “The Thief’s Downfall” (unlocked the Griphook, Bogrod & Hermione (Gringott’s) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “Back to School” (unlocked the Alecto Carrow, Aberforth Dumbledore & Amycus Carrow characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the last remaining Crest Piece) & “Burning Bridges” (unlocked the Seamus Finnigan & Neville (Cardigan) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 2 remaining Crest Pieces). In the process I earned 6 more Gold Bricks. I then felt I needed to go back and purchase even more characters. This time around I picked up Harry (Locket), Harry (Christmas), Harry (Winter), Harry (Albert Runcorn), Harry (Godric’s Hollow), Hermione (Grey Coat), Hermione (Ministry), Hermione (Jumper), Hermione (Scarf), Hermione (Mafalda), Hermione (Cardigan), Hermione (Ball Gown), Hermione (Gringott’s), Hermione (Red Dress), Ron (Green Shirt), Ron (Red Sweater), Ron (Blue Pyjamas), Ron (Quidditch), Ron (Underwear), Ron (Wedding), Ron (Reg Cattermole), Aberforth Dumbledore, Alecto Carrow, Amycus Carrow, Slytherin Twin #1, Slytherin Twin #2, Bellatrix Lestrange, The Grey Lady, Moaning Myrtle, Professor Binns, The Bloody Baron, Fat Friar, Fat Lady, Bogrod, Griphook, Draco Malfoy, Draco (Suit), Draco (Sweater), Vincent Crabbe, Crabbe (Jumper), Goyle (Jumper), Vernon Dursley, Dudley Dursley, Dudley (Grey Top), Dudley (Shirt), Slughorn (Pyjamas), Slughorn (Young), Professor Slughorn, Neville Longbottom, Neville (Winter), Neville (Waiter), Neville (Tank Top), Neville (Cardigan) & Seamus Finnigan. It was then time to finish off the last chapter I had interrupted to purchase all these characters, and I did so by completing the final three levels, as follows: “Fiendfyre Frenzy” (unlocked the Gregory Goyle & Harry (Brown Jacket) characters, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Snape’s Tears” (unlocked the Death Eater, Professor Snape & Fenrir Greyback characters, and found all 4 Crest Pieces) & “The Flaw in the Plan” (earned True Wizard status, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 2 remaining Crest Pieces). For my efforts I earned another 4 Gold Bricks! So, with the game essentially done all I had to do at this point was mop up in the purchasing department. I went and bought the Harry (Brown Jacket), Fenrir Greyback, Death Eater, Gregory Goyle & Professor Snape characters, as well as the 19 additional spells that were for sale at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Overall there were just a few things I missed along the way in this game that I couldn’t seem to find for some reason. There was one Red Brick, a Student in Peril, a couple Gold Bricks, and a few characters that I just can’t seem to locate. So all in all I finished with a 97.9 completion percentage . . . good enough!! Another great Lego title . . .

2) On MLB 2K11 I managed to play another series on my season, this time around we were hosting the Seattle Mariners. Said series went down as such: won vs. Seattle 4-0, lost vs. Seattle 3-0 & won vs. Seattle 10-2.

3) I picked up where I left off on Lego: Battles, resuming play on the “Soldier Story”. Next up was “Act 2”, where I completed all five levels, including “The Prisoner”, “Sitting Ducks”, “Abandoned Outposts”, “Temple Raid” & “Mutiny on Brickbeard’s Bounty”. On each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the third level I found a Red Brick. For completing this act I unlocked the Ninja Flying Ship! “Act 3” was next on the docket, there I completed all five levels, which were “Monkey Business”, “Royal Territory”, “Sneak Attack”, “All Mine” & “End Game”. On each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the third level I found a Red Brick. For completing this act I unlocked the Camilla, Ninja Master & Sheriff characters! The last thing I had to do in the game was move on and complete the “Alien Story”. First off I completed all five levels of “Act 1”, which included “Impact!”, “Taken”, “Shock and Awe”, “Captured” & “Exodus”. On each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the fourth level I found a Red Brick. I unlocked the Space Criminal character for completing the act. The five levels I then completed in “Act 2” were titled “Criminal Minds”, “Cryolab Down”, “Hotwired”, “Supply Lines” & “Missing in Action” respectively. On each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the second level I found a Red Brick. For the overall completion I unlocked the Space Criminal Hotrod. My final task was to complete “Act 3”, which consisted of the “Running on Empty”, “Guidance”, “Feed the Fire”, “Freedom” & “The Final Countdown” levels. On each one I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the fifth level I found a Red Brick. For the overall completion I unlocked the Alien Queen, Space Criminal Leader & Agent Chase characters. Since I had completed the game at this point I then went in and spent the rest of my blue studs, purchasing the Camilla, Ninja Master, Ninja, Alien Queen, Space Criminal Leader, Space Criminal, Sheriff & Agent Chase characters. I also purchased the Ninja Flying Ship, Space Criminal Hotrod, and concept art images 41-66. I didn’t partake in the Battle Mode this game offers as there wasn’t really much to be gained by doing so, and I already played that type of mode on Lego Battles: Ninjago. So that was it, game over!! Pretty fun, and super long too, a great value for the money.

4) The third title to fall on this round of play was SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis, as I was able to complete the final 12 levels of the game! The action unfolded as such: Level 10 (defeated a giant jellyfish and got Squidward’s clarinet back), Level 11 (played a rhythm game that had us all dancing as Squidward finally was able to play the sheet music on his clarinet), Level 12 (at long last we went to Atlantis and searched a temple, eventually reaching an exit and ran in to an Atlantean by the name of Lord Royal Highness, who welcomed us and asked what everybody wanted to see), Level 13 (went to Atlantis’ treasure room and filled a money bag with enough riches to satisfy Mr. Krabs!), Level 14 (Sandy got her wish and went to their science lab, where we traveled through some sort of virtual reality land, searching out enough clues to figure out the code to access the exit), Level 15 (SpongeBob and Patrick traversed a series of chambers where they had to match the musical tones of a large bell, using a collection of smaller bells), Level 16 (passed through a sequence of rooms with different enemies to fight, like jellyfish, drones and tanks, before finally navigating a maze of conveyor belts), Level 17 (finally reached the world’s oldest bubble, and using Patrick had to snap a number of pictures of SpongeBob posing with it!), Level 18 (the flash on the camera broke the bubble, so while the others tried to escape I used Sandy to fend off all the Atlanteans who were attacking us due to our transgression), Level 19 (we busted through a series of chambers, fending off enemies and booby traps, before reaching a set of gates that a massive Atlantean was guarding, but we blasted him with a giant laser), Level 20 (at the main gates of Atlantis now our host wouldn’t let us leave, swallowing the key to the gates as some insurance, we fought him and in the end made him laugh so hard that he barfed up the key!) & Level 21 (as we were escaping Atlantis Plankton showed up having commandeered one of the Atlanteans massive tanks, we had to use some nearby cannons to stun the tank and then attack it’s vital components, eventually destroying it and foiling Plankton’s master plan). And that’s it, another one bites the dust!

5) As for me and James and our gaming adventures, play kind of stalled on Donkey Kong Country Returns recently, so we started up on another Wii game I had acquired . . . Wreck-It Ralph! This is only a 1 player game so we had to take turns, but it was a fun experience. It’s quite short and easy, but when playing with a 6 year old that’s not such a bad thing! The story takes place after the events of the movie, when apparently some of the bugs survived. To prevent yet another attempted invasion we had to fight our way through three of the various video game lands featured in the movie, taking down all resistance. The game began with a short intro level that got us used to both Wreck-It Ralph and Fix-It Felix’s controls, and brought us to the main game hub. From there we chose to explore the world of Fix-It Felix Jr. first. Our play there broke down as follows: Level 1 (gained 96 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 2781600 points), Level 2 (gained 134 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 3712200 points), Level 3 (gained 28 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 850600 points) & Level 4 (gained 60 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 1875000 points). The next world we chose to explore was that of Hero’s Duty. Our play there went as such: Level 1 (gained 55 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 1524000 points), Level 2 (gained 194 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 5075400 points), Level 3 (gained 94 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned ??????? points as James pressed the A button before I had it recorded!) & Level 4 (gained 150 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 4065000 points). The final world we trekked through was James’ favourite . . . Sugar Rush, naturally! Our experience there was as follows: Level 1 (gained 119 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 3222200 points), Level 2 (gained 135 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 3655800 points), Level 3 (gained 43 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 1255200 points) & Level 4 (gained 23 coins, found the Easter Egg and the Hero’s Medal, and earned 671000 points). Once all of the game levels were completed we unlocked a boss in each of the three worlds as well. So we went back and did them in the same order, as follows: Fix-It Felix Jr. – Level 5 (beat a large bug armed with blasters), Hero’s Duty – Level 5 (destroyed a large bug that was spawning smaller ones which harried us all the while) & Sugar Rush – Level 5 (took down a bug that was hiding inside ice cream cones while shooting at us). After all three bosses were destroyed, the ultimate bug boss then appeared in the game hub. It was massive, but using platforms and ladders we were eventually able to get the drop on it and save all of our pixilated friends for a second time! This is a really fun game, very well executed, the only knock on it is that it is way too short.

6) Finally, since Wreck-It Ralph didn’t take too long to complete we also started up on Mater’s Tall Tales, which is based on the Cars Toons animated shorts! We finished it as well, bringing the grand total to five completed games in this blog period . . . tadow!!! Anyways, this is a game that relives and expands on the events featured in a good portion of the Mater’s Tall Tales cartoons that Disney released just a couple of years back or so. It takes on a mini-game format where human players can control up to four brand new characters (which they can change and edit), and go on adventures with Mater as he relives these stories from his past. The various stages must be played in a pre-set order, so the first one we explored was “Rescue Squad Mater”. Our play there went as follows: “Race to the Scene” (earned gold/silver medals), “Firetruck’s Carry” (earned gold/bronze medals), “Super Squirtin’” (earned gold/silver medals), “Save the Stuff” (earned gold/nil medals) & “Emergency Escort” (earned gold/gold medals). Second came the “El Materdor” stage, and play there went as such: “Mucho Matcho” (earned gold/bronze medals), “Pass the Cape” (earned gold/silver medals), “Roar of the Roses” (earned gold/bronze medals), “No Way, Ole” (earned bronze/bronze medals) & “Dozer Dodging” (earned silver/nil medals). Next came the “Tokyo Mater” stage, and that unfolded as so: “Mater-Fication” (earned gold/bronze medals), “Downtown Drifters” (earned gold/bronze medals), “Lose Them Ninjas” (earned gold/bronze medals), “Construction Zone” (earned bronze/nil medals) & “Up the Tower” (earned gold/bronze medals). Fourth was the “Mater the Greater” stage, which went as follows: “High Hoops” (earned gold/nil medals), “Whirling Bars of Dent” (earned gold/bronze medals), “Mater’s Favorite Fan” (earned bronze/nil medals), “Big Bad Jumpin’” (earned gold/nil medals) & “High Dive” (earned gold/bronze medals). The “Monster Truck Mater” stage came fifth, and there events went as so: “I-Scream Rink King” (earned gold/nil medals), “Score a Goal” (earned gold/nil medals), “Big Time Brawlin’” (earned gold/nil medals), “Ring Fighter Alpha” (earned gold/nil medals) & “Beat the Monster” (earned gold/nil medals). The final stage of the game was called “Unidentified Flying Mater”, and our experience went as follows: “Hit the Cans” (earned gold/silver medals), “Hubcap Hubbub” (earned bronze/nil medals), “Canyon Chaos” (earned gold/nil medals), “Creepers Peepers” (earned gold/bronze medals) & “Desert Dash” (earned gold/nil medals). And that was it!

“NNGRR” - The day after my last blog post I finished reading the third and final book in the Beyonders series, called Chasing the Prophecy. The previous book left off after Galloran, Jason, Rachel and the rest of their retinue received a prophecy from the oracle of Mianamon. After an extended stay at Mianamon where everybody rests up, trains, and otherwise prepares for what lays ahead of them, it was time to begin the mission the oracle spoke of. On the very slim chance of deposing the evil emperor Maldor the group must divide up in to two factions and attempt separate tasks that, if successfully executed in the end, could give them the chance they have strived for. Jason, along with Aram, Drake, and a number of other allies, are to head to the fabled Celestine Library, which is guarded by an apparently invincible creature known as the Maumet. If successful their mission should point them in the direction of an ancient being known as Darian the Seer. The information he has for Jason is paramount to potentially harming Maldor and his vast armies. As for the other mission, Galloran, Rachel, Tark, Nedwin and many others are the ones who are tasked with rousing an army and marching to battle against Maldor, in his impenetrable castle at Felrook. First stopping at his old kingdom of Trensicourt, Galloran outmaneuvers one of his arch enemies and re-takes control of what was once rightfully his. After rallying the people and recruiting many allies such as the Amar Kabal, the Drinlings, and even the Tree People, the army sets out and reaches Felrook with little trouble. At this point though everything hinges on Jason’s mission. Only if he succeeds does Galloran’s forces have a chance of bringing down the tyrant. Does this small band of highly competent but vastly outnumbered rebels have what it takes, or will Lyrian soon face an eternity of darkness? This story was a great cap on the series. For being a series geared to younger readers what I really liked about it is that it had a lot of grit to it. The challenges they face are extreme, and many friends perish along the way, it’s a very real and in your face kind of fantasy. With how good Fablehaven and now Beyonders have been, I may just have to try out Brandon Mull’s latest adventure, the Five Kingdoms series!

Late in the Easter long weekend, after all the fanfare had passed, I finally got around to watching The Green Hornet. Most of the reviews and opinions I heard about this flick were poor, but I have no idea why as this was a pretty epic film! The main character is a young, 20s something slacker named Britt Reid. His father, James, is the owner of The Daily Sentinel, one of Los Angeles’ premier newspaper institutions. However, when one day James passes away from an allergic reaction to a bee sting, Britt is suddenly the new CEO of the Sentinel. But Britt has no interest in running the paper as he always thought his father was a bit of an asshole, so he leaves the duties to James’ right hand man, Axford. In the meantime Britt wakes up one morning to a shitty cup of coffee and goes on a rampage, asking what’s left of his father’s housekeeping staff (the ones Britt didn’t fire!) what happened. He finds out that Kato, the one who makes said coffee, was one of his firees. Britt gets Kato back on the scene pronto, and finds out that not only does Kato make great coffee, he also is a mechanical wiz and also made the actual machine that produces the coffee! The two instantly form a bond, and when later in the evening they get a bit drunk, Britt comes up with a plan for them to cut the head off the statue the Sentinel erected of the late James Reid, as Britt feels such an asshole is undeserving of this type of honour. While out performing this act of vandalism things get pretty heavy though, as Britt witnesses a mugging/beating and steps in to intervene. Kato comes to Britt’s aid and Britt finds out that Kato is also a martial arts phenom, there is pretty much nothing that this guy cannot do! Once back at the mansion after escaping the police, Britt inspires Kato to form a team with him, a crime fighting duo who will actually pose as bad guys in order to eliminate the various groups of gangs and crime syndicates across L.A. To do so Kato outfits them with weaponry and gadgets, while Britt uses his influence as the Sentinel’s owner to beef up their legend in the media, plus he also plans their next moves by consulting with his new secretary Lenore, who is also an expert in criminology. Eventually the dysfunctional duo find themselves in way over their heads, and it will take a pretty clever plan to get them out of it. Do these two have what it takes to pull it off? This film was so cool. First of all, it’s Seth Rogen playing a super hero type of character, and second of all, he’s got a kick ass sidekick who is pretty much an expert at everything. Third we have all the tech Kato comes up with, most noticeably their amazing car, Black Beauty. Then we have all the action, not just the fighting, but also the boozing and partying! Last we have Cameron Diaz . . . enough said!! So basically this movie has just about everything a guy could ask for. Great job critics, at continuing to suck balls. Maybe somebody should critique the critics . . . I give you all a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes!

A few days before I left for the cottage I finished watching the second volume of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers on DVD! I reviewed the first volume a number of months back, and what I was surprised with was that there was no real origins story, the series just kind of started with no explanation. However, it just seems that Disney for some reason released the volumes in a weird order, as this second volume contains the earlier episodes in the series. The 24 episodes this collection contains kicks off with a 5 part mini-series that introduces Chip and Dale, and how Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper become involved with them and their Rescue Rangers movement. In said mini-series the Rangers team up with a police dog named Plato, who’s human partner has been set up for a jewel theft by a criminal mastermind named Aldrin Klordane, and his pet cat . . . Fat Cat! In unraveling Klordane’s master plan they also meet the evil scientist, Professor Nimnul. In facing off against these new enemies the bonds that hold the Rescue Rangers together are sealed, and the rest is history! As for the rest of the episodes, they are all one offs and seem a little more varied than the episodes contained in the first volume. Although Fat Cat and Professor Nimnul show their faces every once in a while, the bad guys are quite assorted, featuring many different types of human criminals, as well as other animals and creatures they must square off against. This is a great collection for anyone with kids, or for those who just appreciate good cartoons. I love the Rescue Rangers and consider them to be the best cartoon Disney came up with in their golden age of television cartoons, such a cool premise!

A day later I finished reading the fourth book in the Lost Heroes series by Rick Riordan, called The House of Hades. At the end of the previous book Percy and Annabeth had fallen down a pit in to the underworld, after recovering the long lost statue Athena Parthenos from Arachne. Picking up where that story left off Percy and Annabeth land in the depths of Tartarus and begin to make their way to the Doors of Death, the portal where Gaea’s forces are entering the mortal world in their push to throw all of Earth’s population in to torment and suffering! However, the pair have a lot to deal with along the way including harsh landscapes, a lack of food and water . . . not to mention all of the constantly spawning demons and monsters (some of whom they have previously slain) who are looking to devour them! Thanks to some help from a very unlikely ally though, they may just figure out a way to get to the doors and close them, sealing off Gaea’s minions. In the meantime the other five demigods, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, and Nico, are trying to fly the Argo II over Italy on their way to Greece, to meet Percy and Annabeth on the other side of the Doors of Death in a bid to help rescue them and seal said doors. They have trouble along the way as well, as they run in to mountain gods, mischievous thieving monkeys, poisonous bovines, among many other even deadlier instances. On the advice of a goddess they are unsure they can trust, the team chooses their path and hopes for the best. Throughout their various journeys all of the demigods involved will experience revelations. Revelations about themselves and each other, their powers and their purpose, but will it all be enough to deal with what waits for them at the Doors of Death? And making matters even more interesting, will Reyna reach them in time and find a way to take the Athena Parthenos back to Camp Half-Blood, defusing an impending attack by the members of Camp Jupiter? It all seems overwhelming, but if there’s any team that can do it, it’s this one! This was a great book, full of non-stop action, humour, and even more references to classical myth. When I started it I thought this was the last book in the series, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there will be one more! Groovy.

While at the cottage we watched a bunch of movies, some I’ve reviewed in previous blogs, like This is the End. However, we watched a number I hadn’t seen yet, the first of those being Anchorman 2!! A number of years after the first Anchorman movie, now in the late 1970s, Ron Burgundy and his wife Veronica Corningstone find themselves at the top of the news world. For they are cohosting a news program on a major network in New York. However, when famous nightly newscaster Mack Tannen decides to retire and offer Veronica his old job, his other task is to fire Ron due to his many on air gaffes. This sends Ron in to a funk, and in his blind rage about being fired he separates from Veronica and his 6 year old son, Walter. Not long afterwards Ron is approached by a chap who works for the brand new GNN news network, whose ambition it is to become the first 24 hour news network in history! After some convincing Ron agrees to sign on and goes on a mission to round up his old mates from San Diego. With Brian, Champ and Brick on board it’s not long before the team once again makes their mark on the news world. But in the process of trying to beat his rival at GNN, Jack Lime, in the ratings, Ron and his team start reporting stories that aren’t really “news” per se. Patriotic pieces, animal tricks, and live car chases are the order or the day, and it works. However, Ron is headed for a fall. When celebrating his success one night with all the people at GNN, Jack Lime sabotages Ron and causes him to fall and hit his head, making Ron go blind. Moving out to an abandoned lighthouse and wallowing in his own self-pity Ron is pretty much done for. But when one day Veronica shows up and helps Ron through his funk, he starts to see what’s really important. When an operation that restores Ron’s sight is a success will he remain a reformed family man, or will the lure of the big story be too tempting and draw him back in to his former work world? This movie was pretty funny, the humour was even more ridiculous than the first one to be quite honest!! The talent involved in this main cast is extraordinary, and to it they added folks like Kristen Wiig, Chris Parnell, and Greg Kinnear. This film had another news team showdown fight scene like the first one did, and in it were a number of cameos which increased the talent pool even further. Making short but sweet appearances in this movie were Harrison Ford, Vince Vaughan, Jim Carrey, John C. Reilly, Liam Neeson, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kirsten Dunst, Will Smith, and Sacha Baron Cohen. It’s crazy how many amazing actors were in this one!

The next flick we watched was a comedy called Bad Words, starring Jason Bateman, who I always enjoy. He stars as Guy Trilby, a middle aged fellow who proofreads warranty manuals for a living. For some unknown reason he has gone on a quest to enter and win the National Quill Spelling Bee, and because he never graduated from grade school the loopholes in the rules allow for it to potentially happen. Guy is an amazing speller and at the various competitions along the way he wins the Bees with the greatest of ease, drawing the ire of event organizers as well as the parents of the other competitors. During his journey through these competitions a reporter who is covering the National Quill, Jenny, latches on to Guy and is transfixed by his attempt to win this child’s competition. Their relationship is tenuous at best. It’s when Guy meets one of the young contestants, Chaitanya Chopra, that things change for him. Guy and Chaitanya develop a true friendship, with Guy taking him on many adventures while they prepare for the final spelling bee, most of which are unsuitable for such a young child! With this new friendship meaning so much to Guy will he follow through with winning the National Quill, or will he hand it to his new companion? And will we ever find out what Guy’s motives were behind this whole pursuit? This movie was really funny, but in a darker, slower type of way. It’s a very different kind of movie. It featured a great cast, the reporter Jenny was really cute and funny, and the kid that played Chaitanya did an amazing job. Well worth a watch!

Then came Semi-Pro, a movie we started to watch last year but never finished, so I was dying to see the rest of it! The year is 1976, the scene is Flint, Michigan. The city’s American Basketball Association team, the Flint Michigan Tropics, are playing what could potentially be their very last season. Behind the helm of this team is it’s owner/player/coach, Jackie Moon. Moon bought the franchise off the profits of his one hit wonder single, titled “Love Me Sexy”. The NBA has agreed to a merger with the ABA, but they are only willing to take the top four teams. With the Tropics sitting in last place, hopes of being accepted as part of this merger are pretty low. When Jackie breaks the news to his teammates they are heartbroken. In a bid to boost their chances Jackie trades the team’s washing machine to the Kentucky Colonels for a veteran forward named Ed Monix, who won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics as a backup. When Monix gets to Flint though, he can’t tolerate how things are run. For Jackie isn’t much of a coach, he is more suited to showmanship and zany promotions. So the team presents Jackie with a plan. Monix will take over the technical coaching duties, while Jackie concentrates solely on promotions, trying to increase fan awareness of the Tropics all around the country and boost attendance. Soon enough the Tropics start to win, and their climb through the standings is dizzying! When the team reaches fifth place with one last game to go in the season, they are that close to realizing their dreams. However, there are a number of other factors at work. Will the Tropics win their last game and reach fourth place? Will their late season performance be enough to satisfy the NBA? Will Jackie Moon get mauled by a bear? It’s worth finding out!! This movie was a really funny watch. I despise basketball with every fibre of my being, but with Will Ferrell the inspiration behind the action in this movie, and the fact that it takes place in the 1970s so it’s got a majorly retro vibe to it, I found myself able to highly enjoy it. Add to the cast guys with the pedigree of Woody Harrelson, David Koechner, Rob Corddry and more, and you’ve got yourself a hilarious spoof on sports!

The Wolf of Wall Street came after, which is the true story of a man named Jordan Belfort, who took the U.S. stock market by storm in the late 1980s. Jordan begins his career as a youngster, taking an entry level broker position at a prevalent Wall Street firm named L.F. Rothschild. However, when Black Monday hits and the firm goes under, Jordan is then out of a job. Scanning the want ads his only choice is to join a motley crew of characters dabbling in penny stocks. He joins their team and instantly becomes the go to guy, seemingly able to sell anything to anyone! As he enjoys continued success Jordan eventually decides to go in to business for himself, partnering up with a guy he meets that lives in his building, Donnie Azoff. Jordan recruits his parents to maintain the books, a number of his shady friends to act as his brokers, and it’s not long before he is riding high!! With his former boss at Rothschild instilling in him the need for drugs like cocaine to get him through the day, as well as the need to bang anything that moves, the lifestyle Jordan, Donnie, and all of their friends adopt is one of serious partying, including orgies, many different kinds of drugs and booze, and just all over lavishness and craziness! However, this group is riding so high because their dealings in the stock market are, let’s say . . . not quite legal. And the fuzz are on to them. An agent named Denham has been assigned to take Belfort down, and he relishes the opportunity. In a last ditch effort to avoid trouble Jordan and Donnie decide to put their money in a Swiss bank account, but the wheels eventually fall off and Belfort is fried. To avoid jail time Jordan is offered a chance to bring down the friends that work for him by wearing a wire, but just what will he choose to do, and how will it all end up? This isn’t my normal type of movie, a little too close to reality for my liking. But I actually did quite enjoy it! I love Jonah Hill, and Leo is pretty cool too. Mix in a ton of tits, sex, substance abuse, and cool cars, and it was enough to win me over. I found it to be some good inspiration to become insanely rich! Just gotta figure out how now . . .

The last movie we watched was American Hustle. This film takes place back in the late 1970s and the primary character goes by the name of Irving Rosenfeld. Irving owns a chain of dry-cleaning operations, as well as some other business ventures, but his primary concern is a little more shady, taking money from people in small time loan scams. At a party one day Irving meets a woman named Sydney, who he pretty much falls instantly in love with. The two hit it off wondrously, and when he fills her in on his “profession” she is all in, adopting the moniker “Lady Edith Greensly”, spreading rumours that she has banking connections in London, England. Business prospers, but when one day a potential client named Richie DiMaso enters their office, everything changes. For Richie is an undercover cop and he’s got Sydney right where he wants her! Irving is offered a deal though. In order for them to go easy on Sydney the pair has to team up with DiMaso and get four major busts, using their connections to do so. Their primary target is Carmine Polito, the mayor of New Jersey, trying to catch him accepting a bribe. During their dealings with Carmine, Irving ends up developing a true friendship with him, and their targets expand to include other high profile members of congress. Shit gets all too real when an infamous mob boss from Miami shows up at one of these back door meetings, and Richie is anxious to bust them all. Complicating matters is Irving’s wife, Rosalyn, who he is reluctant to leave as it would mean he’d be cut off from her son, Danny. And she would have no problem blabbing on Irving and his dealings as well! With a number of these types of wild cards in play, and Irving’s friendship with Carmine on the line, will Richie nail his targets or will he end up being conned by the cons? This was a really good movie, but it’s one that you can really only watch once. Although the action is exciting and the story intriguing, it has a really slow pace and is quite long. That being said though, it’s got a really good cast, including Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Louis C.K., and the oh so delicious Jennifer Lawrence!!

Am I hungry? Yes. Do I like games? Yes. Jennifer Lawrence and I would be perfect for each other!!!

by on

The last few weeks haven’t been too action packed, thankfully, which probably explains how I was able to get so much done! The weekend after my last blog we didn’t really do much, but the weekend after my wife had an overnight at one of our friends’ house for a girls night thing. It was great, James and I just played video games, and once he was in bed I watched the hockey game and then played even more games! As for this past weekend the weather suddenly got really warm, like sunny and low 20s, it was amazing! I took the opportunity to clean up the yard a bit, raked the leaves that came down after the snow arrived in the fall, and finally managed to buy a pair of those really long tree trimmers/clippers. I pruned the trees all along the side of the house to hopefully prevent the animals getting up there so easily, and also along the side of the pool to hopefully help get more sun on the water this summer. The wife and I are continuing to practice for our run at the end of the month, and to help that along I’ve changed a lot of my bad habits. I eat nothing but fruit and veggies for lunch now, barely drink any pop, don’t stuff myself at dinner, and don’t snack at night either. It’s all helping me shed weight and sleep better, so hopefully over time I should really see some good results. It hasn’t been that hard, it’s just a matter of making it all part of my routine, and then I’ll be set. As for James his golf lessons are now over, although he is starting more in May. On the last day the kids got to teach the parents what they learned, it was pretty funny seeing us all up there whacking the balls! His swimming lessons are also done and he passed those easily, plus he also started a new art class called Oodles of Doodles. Unfortunately the Leafs shit the bed in the closing weeks of the regular season and played themselves out of an NHL playoff spot, so I’m pretty fucking angry over that. But, with the warmer weather (although it’s supposed to snow tonight apparently) on the way it means I’ll hopefully be back on my bike soon, so that should help ease the pain. Anyways, here is all that we got done this time around . . .

1) My play on Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7 has been sporadic of late, but this time around I buckled down and undertook a massive mop up effort, even taking James along for part of it as my second player! With just having beat the game the last time I blogged about it, my final task was to go back and grab all the stuff I wasn’t able to on my first time through. To kick off play I decided to purchase a bunch of characters to aid me in this effort, and those characters included Tom Riddle, Mundungus Fletcher, Narcissa Malfoy, McGonagall (Black), Rufus Scrimgeour, Rita Skeeter, Fleur Delacour, Professor Grubbly-Plank, Lily (Young Casual), George (Winter), Fred (Winter), Albert Runcorn, Dirk Cresswell, Mary Cattermole, Michael Corner, Hestia Jones, Hannah Abbott, Ernie Prang, Zacharias Smith, Reg Cattermole, Mrs. Figg, Lavender Brown, Argus Filch, Charity Burbage, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Penelope Clearwater, Parvati Patil, Padma Patil, Madam Malkin, Mafalda Hopkirk, Dudley’s Gang Member, Dragomir Despard, Muggle Orphan & Dedalus Diggle. It was then time to re-embark on the first chapter of the game, the “Order of the Phoenix” story. There I replayed all six levels, which went as such: “Dark Times” (unlocked the Elphias Doge & Arthur (Suit) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Dumbledore’s Army” (earned True Wizard status, unlocked the Neville (Winter), Hermione (Scarf) & Cho (Winter) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Focus!” (unlocked the Molly (Apron) & Snape (Underwear) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “Kreacher Discomforts” (earned True Wizard status, unlocked the Kreacher & Sirius Black characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “A Giant Virtuoso” (unlocked the Professor Umbridge, Emmeline Vance & Neville Longbottom characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces) & “A Veiled Threat” (earned True Wizard status, unlocked the Hermione (Jumper) & Lucius (Death Eater) characters, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces). Also, every time I earned True Wizard status, helped a Student in Peril, or completed a house crest I earned a Gold Brick. So with all I accomplished in these levels I also came away with 14 more Gold Bricks! In the midst of this action, before the fifth level, I had to go back obtain a certain character to proceed properly. While looking for this character in the hub of the game I managed to unlock the Thorfinn Rowle, Dolohov (Workman), Mrs. Cole & Ministry Guard characters, plus I also found both a Gold Brick and a Red Brick (the Score X4 extra). Afterwards I purchased the Red Brick as well as the Mrs. Cole character, as she was the individual I was after. Before starting the next chapter of the game I unlocked the Pius Thicknesse and Mrs. Black characters, helped 2 Students in Peril, found 2 Gold Bricks, and found 1 Red Brick (the Hogwarts Crest Detector extra) in the game hub. I then purchased said Red Brick as well as the Arthur Weasley, Arthur (Suit) & Arthur (Torn Suit) characters. The time then came to start out on the “Half-Blood Prince” story, once again I completed all six levels, as follows: “Out of Retirement” (earned True Wizard status, unlocked the Milk Man, Slughorn (Pajamas) & Dumbledore (Cursed) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Just Desserts” (unlocked the Cormac (Suit), Madam Rosmerta & Harry (Christmas) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “A Not So Merry Christmas” (unlocked the Bill Weasley (Wedding) & Molly Weasley characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “Love Hurts” (unlocked the Professor Slughorn, Ginny Weasley & Draco (Suit) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Felix Felicis” (unlocked the Hagrid & Fang characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces) & “The Horcrux and the Hand” (unlocked the Professor Dumbledore, Tom Riddle (Orphanage) & Hagrid (Wedding) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces). All of this also netted me 13 more Gold Bricks. In exploring the game hub after this last bit of action I managed to unlock the Marietta Edgecombe, James Potter (Young), Slughorn (Young), Arthur (Cardigan), Professor Binns, Crabbe (Jumper), Bellatrix (Azkaban), Katie Bell, Ron (Quidditch), Nymphadora Tonks & Madam Hooch characters, helped 6 Students in Peril, found 8 Gold Bricks, and found 5 Red Bricks (the Red Brick Detector, Score X6, Score X8, Score X10 & Regenerate Hearts extras)! Afterwards I purchased the first two Red Bricks. We’re almost there!!

2) I managed to play the next series of my season on MLB 2K11, hosting the Tampa Bay Rays. Here is how that went: won vs. Tampa 3-1, won vs. Tampa 2-1 & won vs. Tampa 5-4. I bumped the difficulty level up to “Pro” to give myself more of a challenge and the games are a lot tighter now. Shibby!

3) As for Lego: Battles, I made massive amounts of progress there, the end is nearly in sight! Next up was to partake in the “Wizard Story”. Starting with “Act 1” as usual, I completed all six levels, which were titled “Pieced Together”, “The Foundation”, “The Uninvited”, “Momentum”, “Underfoot” & “Swarm”. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the second level I found the Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Troll character. Next up was “Act 2”, the five levels there included “Convenient Alliance”, “Strength in Numbers”, “A Devious Machine”, “Shrouded Garrison” & “Battle Royal”. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the fourth level I found the lone Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Troll Blimp. “Act 3” was next, I completed all four levels, including “High and Dry”, “Bring It Down”, “Shoot The Messenger” & “Homecoming”. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the final level a Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Sorceress, Troll King & Ghost characters. With all of the helpful Red Bricks I had unlocked up to this point, I was then able to go back and resume the “King Story”, which was the very first story of the game. However, I ran in to trouble on it during the second act and couldn’t proceed, so I had to move on to other stories. But I now had a lot more resources and extras at my disposal, so it was easy peasy! Picking up on “Act 2” I had to play the last four levels of the six in total, and they were called “Stand Fast”, “Knowledge of The Ancients”, “Forgotten Passage” & “The Barren Wasteland” respectively. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the final level a Red Brick. For finally completing the act I unlocked the Dwarf Glider. I then moved on to “Act 3”, the levels that fell to yours truly were “The Maze”, “Grave Mission”, “Perilous Journey” & “Confrontation”. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the final level a Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Queen, Dwarf King & Forestman characters. At this point I decided to spend some (as in all!) of the blue Lego studs I had collected on the various items I’ve unlocked. I purchased the Queen, Dwarf King, Wizard Sorceress, Builder, Skeleton, Crossbowman, Skeleknight, Troll Giant, Troll King, Troll, Captain Brickbeard, Lady Pirate, Builder, Oarsman, Gunman, Horseman, King Kahuka, Islander, Tiki Golem, Governor Broadside, Builder, Swordsman, Rifleman, Cavalry, Biff, Gemma, Builder, Trooper, Commando, Gripley, Space Police Captain, Space Police, Alien Commander, Builder, Drone, Laser Trooper, Grav Runner, Forestman, Ghost, Conquistador & Classic Space characters. Some of them sound like repeats (aka the Builders) but they are not, as the characters are specific to each type of story in the game. I also purchased some vehicles/weaponry, including the Dwarf Glider, Siege Tower, Wizard’s Dragon, Transport Ship, Troll Blimp, Barracuda, Battleship, Brickbeard’s Bounty, Transport Ship, Clipper, Battleship, Flagship, Transport Ship, Claw Tank, Starfighter, Starship 1, Transport Ship, Space Police Cruiser, Alien Attack Ship, Alien Strike Ship, Alien Assault Ship & Transport Ship. Next was to purchase the various maps for the alternate mode of the game, and I got them all, which included The Junction, Outbreak, Crossover, Tri-Star, Dark Waters, Pulsar, Devil’s Horn, Kahuka’s Strait, Crossed Island, Proving Grounds, The Dead Marsh & Ruthless. Last of all I purchased some concept art, including images 1 through 40. Since I was on such a roll at this point I decided to start out on the next story, which was the “Soldier Story”. So far I’ve completed “Act 1” only, the five levels that fell were “Royal Commission”, “The Canary”, “Raiding Party”, “Sabotage” & “Precious Cargo”. On each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and on the fourth level a Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Ninja character. Phew, so close . . . to completion . . .

4) The only game to be completed on this round of play was Lego Chima: Laval’s Journey . . . boy did I clean this one up in a big way! I managed to complete the game in full the last time I blogged, but there was a mop up operation that needed to happen, in order to go back and get everything I couldn’t manage to the first time through. I went back through all of the game levels in the following order: “Spiral Mountain” (unlocked the Bladvic & Dom de la Woosh characters), “Eagle Town” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Eglor, Elida, Eagle Scholar, Ewald & Eagle Veteran characters, and found the other Treasure Token), “Eagle Library” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Equila & Eagle Librarian characters, and found both Treasure Tokens), “Sanctuary Forest” (unlocked the G’loona, Rawzom & Bungey characters, and found both Treasure Tokens), “Gorilla Village” (unlocked the Razar, Grumlo, Gorilla Dudette, Gorilla Dude & Gorilla Elder characters, and found both Treasure Tokens), “Rhino Canyon” (unlocked the Rukus & Lion Veteran characters, and found the other Treasure Token), “Rhino Caves” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Grizzam character, and found the other Treasure Token), “Croc Swamp” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Furtivo & Crawley characters, and found both Treasure Tokens), “Croc Fort” (unlocked the Crug, Croc Hunter & King Crominus characters, and found the other Treasure Token) & “Wolf Camp” (unlocked the Wilhurt character, and found both Treasure Tokens). While accomplishing all of the above I had to traipse in and out of the various game hubs, and in doing so I unlocked a lot of additional stuff. Said stuff included character bios for the Wolf, Gorilla, Bear & Eagle tribes, location bio for Sanctuary Forest & Gorilla Village, the Gorilla Brawler, Gorilla Warrior, Rhino Fighter & Rhino Warrior characters, and 9 Red Bricks (which included the Stud Magnet, X2 Stud Multiplier, Character Token Detector, X6 Stud Multiplier, Helium Voices, X10 Stud Multiplier, Triple CHI Power, X8 Stud Multiplier & Invincibility extras). I also managed to find the Gorilla Tribe Wheel and the Lion Tribe Wheel artifacts. Early on in my game play this time around I purchased the Skinnet character, as he gave me access to a lot of areas I couldn’t reach previously. As the rest of the action unfolded I also purchased all of the various Red Bricks I collected, as the bonuses they provided were too good to be ignored!! To finish things off I purchased all of the remaining characters I’d unlocked throughout the game, which included Lennox, Longtooth, Leonidas, Lion Guard, Lion Elder, Lion Veteran, Ewald, Equila, Ewar, Eglor, Elida, Eagle Scholar, Eagle Librarian, Eagle Elder, Eagle Veteran, Grumlo, G’loona, Grizzam, Gorilla Dudette, Gorilla Dude, Gorilla Elder, Gorilla Brawler, Gorilla Warrior, Chi Armor Worriz, Wakz, Wilhurt, Windra, Winzar, Wolf Veteran, Wolf Huntress, Wolf Hunter, Rukus, Runk, Rhino Brawler, Rhino Fighter, Rhino Veteran, Rhino Warrior, Chi Armor Cragger, Crooler, Crawley, Crug, King Crominus, Croc Sister, Croc Brother, Croc Veteran, Croc Huntress, Croc Hunter, Bladvic, Balkar, Bungey, Razar, Rawzom, Razcal, Rizzo, Raven Veteran, Raven Bomber, Furtivo & Dom de la Woosh. In ended play with a 91% completion status, thanks to some of the stuff you have to do online, unlocking some bonus items and what not. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Great game though!!

5) As for my adventures with James, we’ve primarily been concentrating on Donkey Kong Country Returns and it’s gone really well! Picking up from where we left off last time we moved on to the second world, called “Beach”. We completed the first eight levels there, which included “Poppin’ Planks” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Sloppy Sands” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/7 puzzle pieces), “Peaceful Pier” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 2/5 puzzle pieces), “Cannon Cluster” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/7 puzzle pieces), “Stormy Shore” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 4/5 puzzle pieces), “Blowhole Bound” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Tidal Terror” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Pinchin’ Pirates” (defeated boss). Next up was the third world, called “Ruins”, and we beat the first seven levels there. Said levels were “Wonky Waterway” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Button Bash” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Mast Blast” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Damp Dungeon” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 9/9 puzzle pieces), “Itty Bitty Biters” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Temple Topple” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Ruined Roost (defeated boss). The fourth world, “Cave”, is the last we’ve been able to get at so far. We’ve completed the first six levels there, which were “Rickety Rails” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Grip & Trip” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Bombs Away” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Mole Patrol” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Crowded Cavern” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “The Mole Train” (defeated boss). As we played through these worlds we sporadically went back and retrieved all of the missing puzzle pieces from the first two worlds that we weren’t able to get on our first attempts. So as of now we are all caught up in terms of collecting the necessary items for the first four worlds of the game. So much fun!!

6) Since I completed Lego Chima I decided to fire up a new game on the 3DS, making SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis my pick!! This is a game that takes place in the underwater realm of SpongeBob SquarePants, the premise being that he and Patrick accidentally stumble upon the missing piece of an ancient amulet that is rumoured to take it’s bearer to the fabled city of Atlantis! And what resides in Atlantis just so happens to be the world’s oldest bubble . . . so naturally SpongeBob is super pumped about going there. However, when the magic bus SpongeBob and his friends board to take them to Atlantis suffers from some technical difficulties, that is when the true adventure begins. Now, this game is just one long continuous journey interrupted by save points, it doesn’t have any levels per se, but I have broken it up in to levels for the sake of organization. So far I’ve managed to complete the first nine levels, and the action has unfolded as such: Level 1 (found 10 Atlantis artifact pieces and united them in to the amulet half, Squidward then told us the legend of Atlantis and our magic bus arrived), Level 2 (Mr. Krabs wouldn’t join us on our trip as his golden spatula was missing, so we found it for him), Level 3 (Sandy wouldn’t come with us as she had a karate lesson planned, so I beat her in a karate battle and she agreed to come), Level 4 (we got on the magic bus, which was powered by our singing, we asked Mr. Krabs what he expected to find in Atlantis and he said riches, so I then played a level where we had to throw bags of money at him while he floated on a magic carpet), Level 5 (the magic bus didn’t have enough singing juice to get us to Atlantis so we broke down on the Lost Continent of Mu, soon after we went out searching for riches in a nearby cave system and found a jewel that was a blue orb in appearance), Level 6 (this time we searched a nearby volcano area and found another jewel, this time a red orb), Level 7 (we then used the pair of orbs we found to open a door in to a cavern-y grotto and explored it, eventually finding an ancient piece of sheet music covered in grime), Level 8 (a trip to the top of a volcano came next, to obtain a rare fire flower, the only thing capable of safely cleaning the grime off of our newest artifact) & Level 9 (Squidward was set to play the sheet music on his clarinet, but the music was then stolen by a jellyfish). And that’s all for now!

7) Lastly, seeing as I finished NHL ’02 during my last blog period I began playing the next hockey game I had waiting in the wings, and that is NHL ’04. This one plays more realistically than ’02 and thus is a lot harder, but it’s a ton of fun! I began by creating a new season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and so far I’ve played the first four games of said season. The results were as such: lost vs. Montreal 5-3, won vs. Washington 9-2, won @ New Jersey 8-2 & won @ Montreal 10-4. Opening night loss . . . avenged!!!

“NNGRR” - The weekend after my last blog I got up to a whole bunch of stuff, the first being the Transformers: Prime; Beast Hunters movie, called Predacons Rising. This is a feature length production that is meant to finish off the storyline that developed over the three seasons that Transformers: Prime ran. To start off Optimus’ small team of Autobots are back on Cybertron and they have reawakened the ancient planet, pushing ahead with some efforts to begin to restore it to it’s former glory. In doing so they have awakened Primus, the massive bot at the heart of Cybertron, and the dormant Unicron feels the ripple effects. In a bid to eradicate Cybertron and all of it’s inhabitants the consciousness of Unicron inhabits the destroyed form of Megatron, warping him in to an even more twisted version of his previous self! Megatron then begins a long journey to Cybertron, to carry out his destructive mission. In the meantime Ultra Magnus and Smokescreen make a startling discovery when they find two new Predacons foraging in some back alleys. During the ensuing battle Ultra Magnus is wounded, but the Autobots soon have more pressing matters to worry about when Megatron finally arrives. After Megs awakens the remains of hundreds of destroyed Predacons, creating an unstoppable army, the Autobots, Decepticons and Predacons realize they must join forces to stop a common enemy. With Megatron and his army on the march to poison the Well of Allsparks and destroy Cybertron, Optimus Prime must make the hard choice . . . a choice he won’t likely survive. But if all goes well he will at least ensure future generations of Transformers a safe home, something him and his Autobots haven’t enjoyed in many generations. This was a really cool movie, lots of action, a couple of new characters, and I loved that the action mostly took place on Cybertron. The Transformers’ home world is still such a mystery, every chance I get to learn more about it I accept with vigor!! I really liked the ending too, it gave quite a bit of closure, and it honestly wasn’t what I was expecting. Well done, and a great series overall!

Next I convinced the wife to watch This is the End with me, and although it wasn’t her favourite I laughed my bag off the entire time! This unique story features a great number of real life actors who actually star as themselves in the film. The two main characters are Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel. Jay flies in to L.A. for the weekend to spend some time with Seth, and the two proceed to get blitzed out of their mind, with the weed and the beers and what not. When Seth tells Jay he wants to take him to a party at James Franco’s new place, Jay is less than pleased. For Jay abhors the L.A. Hollywood lifestyle, and it is an issue that has been driving a wedge in their relationship. However, Jay relents and he quickly finds himself as uncomfortable as ever around all of Seth’s friends. The list of people at Franco’s party is extensive, including Mindy Kaling, Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, Jason Segel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Channing Tatum, Michael Cera, and Emma Watson (and probably some others that I may have forgotten). However, the main cast that the movie focuses around are Seth and Jay, as well as Jonah Hill, Craig T. Robinson, Danny McBride, and of course James Franco. Anyhoo, Jay finally convinces Seth to go to the store with him to get cigarettes, and that’s when shit starts getting weird. In the store beams of blue light rip through the place and suck people up in to the sky. Upon making a hasty exit they find no safe haven as the hills of Hollywood are literally ablaze! Racing back to Franco’s house they find the party inside virtually undisturbed, and nobody believes the wild claims Jay is making. That doesn’t last long though, for when a giant sinkhole appears right out in the front yard, people begin to realize something very bad is happening. In the panic that ensues many are lost, and our main cast ends up reconvening in the safety of Franco’s house. As events unfold it appears as though there is more going on than just a mere earthquake. Jay has a theory, believing that it is the apocalypse, backing up his theory with quotes from the bible. The others scoff at him, but as their fight to survive takes many unusual twists and turns, they are forced to concede that perhaps there is more truth to what Jay is saying than they first realized. In the end their only option may be salvation, but are these six characters capable of it? That’s debatable!! J This was such a cool movie. An awesome premise, and featuring many of the best actors of this current generation, which might I add contains a fair amount of Canadian content! The effects were pretty cool too, which I wasn’t quite expecting. The raunchy laughs were my favourite part though, when poor Jonah gets . . . worked over by a demon, I just about pissed my pants!! So good . . .

The final thing we did that weekend is finish watching season one of Happy Endings on Netflix. This cool little show follows the lives of six friends who live in Chicago, it’s actually kind of like Friends now that I think about it, but a little more gritty and wacky. The series opens up at the wedding of two of these friends, Dave and Alex . . . but it doesn’t go so well. Alex leaves Dave at the altar and goes on their honeymoon alone. The next dozen episodes chronicle the adventures of this group as they all try to coexist with each other despite what happened between the two former love birds. But it’s not just Dave and Alex who contribute to the craziness that seems to follow this bunch, couple Jane and Brad (her Alex’s sister and a crazed control freak, him a smooth talking businessman), Max (the anti-big-brother gay guy who doesn’t seem like a gay guy) and Penny (the zany femme who is afraid of growing in to an old spinster) all contribute in their own ways, and the end result is hilarity. With Dave forced to move in with Max as well as many other changes in store, will the bonds that hold them together stay secure, or will it all unravel? This show is way underrated and met an early demise because of it, which is unfortunate. I started watching it because of Elisha Cuthbert (Alex) as she is number one on my “list”, but when I found out it also starred a Wayans it was a big bonus! Add in the other four actors (of which the two other girls are also quite hot), who are all amazing as well, and this is a surprisingly great show. I highly recommend!

The following weekend I finished reading the sixth and penultimate book in the Septimus Heap series, called Darke. This story picks up quite a number of months after the previous book, Syren, as Septimus and Jenna’s 14 birthdays approach. Because of his coming of age Septimus is quite distracted, for it means his Darke week is about to begin, a time in an ExtraOrdinary Apprentice’s training when they have to go on a quest that dabbles in the less savory side of Magyk. Jenna also has her hands full as it means she is now set to take over the Palace, for the princess has also come of age. She is not distracted enough to ignore the eerie darkness that has taken up residence at the top of the castle’s attic staircase though! After unsuccessfully trying to get Septimus to check it out, she asks Beetle to help her out instead. At the top of said stairs Beetle encounters a Darke Domain, a dangerous Darke cloud instigated by Merrin Meredith, formerly known as the original Septimus Heap and current owner of DomDaniel’s powerful two faced ring. Beetle rushes to tell the ExtraOrdinary Wizard about what he’s found, but by the time they are able to get around to doing anything about Merrin, Beetle and Marcia are too late. Merrin’s Darke Domain is spreading, and anybody who succumbs to it within the castle walls faces an uncertain fate. At the last minute Marcia puts a quarantine and a safe shield in place around the castle, but there are too many forces working against them. With the Darke Domain soon running unchecked over the kingdom it’s up to a small, though highly capable band of friends to put things back to rights. It all ends in a fantastic dragon duel high above the castle grounds, but are Septimus and Spit Fyre ready for what awaits them up there? This is a great book, it all took place within the castle walls over the course of just a few days, but it was pretty tense as a lot of crazy stuff happens in those few days! It seals off a lot of storylines, at least it appears so, so I’m really interested to see what the final book will be about. We’ll find out soon enough!

Last weekend we took James to see Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which I was actually really looking forward to seeing. This is the story of Mr. Peabody, a dog that is no ordinary canine . . . for he is a Nobel prize winning genius! Also, he has adopted a young orphan named Sherman. Not wanting Sherman to end up like himself, the dog nobody wanted to take home, he cares for this boy as a real father would. Also, since he is a genius, Mr. Peabody has invented a time machine he calls the WABAC. Instead of merely teaching Sherman about history, Mr. Peabody helps Sherman to experience it first hand, by actually living it! After their latest adventure to witness the French Revolution in gay Paris, Sherman goes on his next adventure . . . his very first day of school. However, it doesn’t go well, for when a jealous classmate named Penny taunts Sherman about having a dog for a father, they get in a fight and he ends up biting her! With child services called in to action over the incident Mr. Peabody plans a dinner party to win over not only Penny’s parents, but the liaison from child services, Mrs. Grunion. In an effort to win Penny over (for he secretly likes her), Sherman does the one thing he is told not to during their visit, he tells her about the WABAC. Before he knows it the two of them have traveled back to Ancient Egypt and Penny stays there, planning to marry King Tut. Heading back to the present to consult Mr. Peabody on the matter, this trip kicks off a chain of zany and often dangerous events that sees the threesome visit Florence during the Renaissance, as well as the battle of Troy, before making it back to their own time. However, in order to do so (thinking that Mr. Peabody perished during the Battle of Troy) Sherman and Penny have to go back in to the not so distant past, which causes a tear in the space time continuum. In a last ditch effort to stop the chaos that is now reigning down on the city of New York, Sherman comes up with an idea that may just save their bacon . . . and win him the girl in the process. Does this dynamic duo have it in them to complete one last epic journey? This movie did not disappoint. I remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman fondly from my childhood, when they were on the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, and seeing as how Ancient Egypt and Greek Mythology are two of my most favourite historic pursuits, this movie was kind of a no brainer for me! It had a great sentimental story behind it, but spiced it up with a ton of cool action. Plus it had some great voice actors in Ty Burrell, Ariel Winter, Leslie Mann and Patrick Warburton, among others. A great family flick!!

Finally, just last night I watched the second movie in what I assume will be the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire. After defying President Snow and the games makers in the 74th Hunger Games, both Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark of District 12 survive and find themselves living in much more comfortable surroundings in the victor’s village. However, their trials are not over as they must embark on the traditional victory tour to each of the other districts. Before heading out though, President Snow threatens Katniss with harm against those she loves. He says she needs to make her and Peeta’s manufactured love story convincing, and to praise the Capitol and all they do for the people while on tour, as her and Peeta’s actions at the games have become the catalyst for an uprising that is spreading like wildfire through the districts. When the tour doesn’t go as well as he had hoped it would, President Snow gets an idea. For the 75th games, a special quarter quell edition, he invokes a rule that the participants can only be culled from the pool of each district’s previous winners . . . this means Katniss and Peeta are going back in the arena! Seeing as it’s such a special edition of the Hunger Games, the arena is a real doozy to boot. Immediately Katniss and Peeta gain allies in their fight for survival, but the tribulations that put them all to the test seem increasingly insurmountable. However, their mentor Haymitch and the recently reinstated head games maker, Plutarch Heavensbee, might just have something up their sleeve that could turn the game, and all those in the Capitol, right on their collective ears. Has President Snow finally lost control? This was easily my favourite book of the three stories that make up the Hunger Games, and I believe it will probably hold up as my favourite movie too. I love the arena in this story, it is so nifty, plus I also really like a lot of the new characters Katniss and Peeta meet up with in the games. The action is pretty awesome, and I really enjoyed how they pretty much filmed the movie exactly as how events went down in the book. No weird additions, and no strange cuts, that’s the way it should be! They had Jennifer Lawrence looking so hot with all of her different styles and outfits in this film, I swear she becomes infinitely more attractive each time I lay eyes on her . . .

Derelict of duty I've been . . . oh well, what are you gonna do?

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Wow, I just realized it’s been a month since I last blogged!! Not much incentive anymore, to be honest . . . but I’d best keep plugging away, this is the journal of my life after all! Overall not much has been happening over the last while, with the exception of March Break. At the end of February and in through the first bit of March we really didn’t do much. James started on his new activity, which is golf lessons, and he’s been steadily improving each week. It’s pretty funny to watch all these kids golf, some of them are quite good already, and all of them are leagues better than myself. LOL!! The wife and I entered ourselves in to a 10 kilometer run at the end of April, so I’ve been out running often in an attempt to not embarrass myself come the big day. I’m also trying to eat better, as in healthier night snacks as well as eating fruits and veggies for lunch instead of stuff that comes out of cans or other strange packaging. Curse you middle age!! As for March Break, it happened a few weeks back and began with the mother in law taking James for a few days. Over that opening weekend we visited our friends in Hamilton and did some drinking, played some cards, and watched Johnny’s hockey game . . . overall a very successful weekend! During the March Break week James came home and then went off to my parents’ for a couple of days. We closed the March Break week by taking the Friday off work and staying home with him. On the Saturday we overnighted in Vaughan and took James to Legoland, and then on the Sunday we drove to Goderich to visit our friends. James got to play with his buds Dylan and McKenna, and they had a blast as usual. Last weekend we went to my parents’ house for dinner and played cards, and that’s about the extent of our action lately. The weather has relented for brief periods, with a bit of sun and rain here and there, which has killed off a lot of the snow, but it’s still unseasonably cold and it appears as though spring is a long time coming. As for my Leafs, they were looking pretty good even just a week and a half ago, but after a recent 6 game losing streak they’ve pretty much played themselves out of a playoff spot. Fuck me, I am not a happy camper right now. Anyhoo, here is what I got up to gaming wise over the last month . . .

1) I finally managed to get back down to the basement and play some NHL ’02!! Picking up where I left off oh so long ago, I was in the middle of a Stanley Cup final series with the Colorado Avalanche. I just so happened to play the final three games of the series, winning the Stanley Cup!! Games 2, 3 and 4 went as such: won vs. Colorado 10-6, won @ Colorado 11-3 & won @ Colorado 10-0. Shutout to finish them off, yarrrrrrrr!!!! My leaders in the playoffs were: Gary Roberts (goals, 29 and shots, 110), Mats Sundin (assists, 34 and points, 57), Wade Belak (penalty minutes, 74), Bryan McCabe (+/-, +71), Steve Thomas (powerplay goals, 5), Shayne Corson (shorthanded goals, 3), Robert Reichel (game winning goals, 3), Darcy Tucker (faceoff wins, 102), and Dmitri Yushkevich (hits, 255). As for our goalie, Curtis Joseph, he went 15-0 (Healy apparently got a game in there somewhere, which I don’t remember) with a 5.07 goals against average, an .828 save percentage, 1 shutout, and 3 assists. After it was all over they announced the awards and I had a lot of wins there, including: Mats Sundin (Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy & Conn Smythe Trophy), Gary Roberts (Rocket Richard Award, Selke Trophy & EA Sport Award), Dmitri Yushkevich (Norris Trophy, Masterton Trophy & Pearson Award) and Curtis Joseph (Vezina Trophy). Putting the game away I had unlocked 149/189 of the NHL Cards, although I have a lot of doubles to sell that could possibly net me more of them. Great game!

2) I completed more games of my season on MLB 2K11 as well, next up we traveled to Los Angeles to play a set with the Angels. The results were as such: won @ Los Angeles 14-2, won @ Los Angeles 8-0 & won @ Los Angeles 5-1.

3) As for Lego: Battles, more major progress was made there. I resumed my journey on the “Spaceman Story”, next up was “Act 2”. I completed all five levels there, which were titled “A Hard Place”, “Purple Haze”, “Search For Scum”, “Stranded” & “The Motherlode” respectively. I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs in each level, as well as each Minikit. I also found the Red Brick that was hidden in the second level. For completing the act I unlocked the Space Police Cruiser. I finished off my play by also completing “Act 3”, which consisted of the “Ancient Treasure”, “Drop Zone”, “Head Start” & “Mothership Connection” levels. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs and found each Minikit. I also found the Red Brick in level three. For completing this final act I unlocked the Biff, Space Police Captain & Classic Space characters. Booya!

4) After playing the shit out of Rayman: Origins, James and I have finally completed this fantastic beast of a game! We last left off in the “Ticklish Temples” world, having just beaten the first level. Resuming play we finished it up, completing the “Up And Down” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Hunter Gatherer” (completed 3/3 challenges), “Climb Out” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Still Flowing” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Poor Little Daisy” (completed 6/6 challenges, earned a medal) & “Playing in the Shade” (won race, earned a gem) levels. We then moved on to the world of “Grumbling Grottos”. There we completed the “Savage Swarms” (completed 6/6 challenges, earned a medal), “Tricky Winds” (completed 6/6 challenges, earned a medal), “Don’t Shoot the DJ” (completed 3/3 challenges), “High Voltage” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Tuned-Up Treasure” (won race, earned a gem), “Snake Eyes” (completed 6/6 challenges) & “To Bubblize a Mocking Bird” (completed 3/3 challenges) levels. Next up was the world of “Luscious Lakes”. There we completed the “Dragon Soup” (completed 5/6 challenges), “You’re on Fire!” (completed 3/3 challenges), “Fickle Fruit” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Ice-Fishing Folly” (won race, earned a gem) & “My Heartburn’s For You” (completed 3/3 challenges) levels. “Angsty Abyss” came next, and it consisted of the “Why So Crabby?” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Scuba Shootout” (completed 3/3 challenges), “Risky Ruin” (won race, earned a gem), “Beware of Mini-Murray” (completed 6/6 challenges, earned a medal, earned a trophy) & “Murray of the Deep” (completed 3/3 challenges) levels, which we completed. The last world of the game was called “Moody Clouds”. There we completed the “Riding the Storm” (completed 3/3 challenges), “On Top of Old Smokey” (completed 5/6 challenges), “Mecha No Mistake!” (completed 5/6 challenges), “Tricky Temple Too” (won race, earned a gem) & “The Reveal, Get Away!, and Shoot for the Stars sequence of levels” (completed 3/3 challenges) levels. For collecting all the gems throughout the game we unlocked a bonus level called “Land of the Livid Dead”, but we weren’t able to get very far on it. And that’s it, Rayman and his cohorts saved their land from the evil witches and their forces, then went right back to sleep after all of their tiring adventures!! This game unfolded over just two of my blog posts, but that’s because we played the crap out of it. This is a lot of game at a low price, and more importantly it’s an amazing game. Recommend it to anyone, I would!

5) I also managed to complete Spy Hunter this time around, finishing the 13 levels that remained. The levels in question were called “Screamers”, “Search And Destroy”, “Deforestation”, “Gun Shy”, “Unfriendly Fire”, “Second Chance”, “See No Evil”, “Along For the Ride”, “Data Protection”, “Eye in the Sky”, “Storm Chaser”, “Bait” & “Into The Dragon’s Den”. This is a pretty solid game, not any alternative game modes or anything, but a long enough Story Mode and some challenges to strive for along the way. I’ll have to give it an 8 rating here on Gamespot, but I’d say it’s more of an 8.5 really.

6) With the defeat of Rayman James and I had to pick a new game on the Wii, and it was my turn to choose this time . . . I went with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! This is the game based on the newer cartoon series produced by Nickelodeon. The story behind it is that Shredder’s minions, aka Dogpound, Fishface and Baxter Stockman, have stolen a bomb that they plan to use to turn the entire population of New York City in to mutants. With an army of mutants at his command Shredder will finally be able to destroy the Turtles and from there, turn his eyes to bigger and better things. Using the fearsome foursome your job, of course, is to stop this all from happening. This was a pretty fun but not very long game, as James and I were able to finish it off pretty quickly. The action is divided up in to five different sections, with a boss at the end of each section. In the first chapter we completed the “Roof” (found 3/3 mutagen canisters, performed 1/1 scans), “Alleyways” (found 3/3 mutagen canisters, performed 1/1 scans) & “Docks” (found 1/1 mutagen canisters) levels. In the second chapter we completed the “Underground” (found 4/4 mutagen canisters, performed 1/1 scans), “Subway” (found 4/4 mutagen canisters, performed 1/1 scans) & “Stockman Lab” (no tasks to complete) levels. The levels completed in the third chapter included “On The Shellraiser” (no tasks to complete), “Dojo’s Rooftop” (found 4/4 mutagen canisters, performed 1/1 scans) & “Dogpound” (no tasks to complete). In the fourth chapter the levels that succumbed to our thumbs and fingers were “Kraang Warehouse” (found 4/4 mutagen canisters, performed 2/2 scans), “Mutagen Facility” (found 4/4 mutagen canisters, performed 1/1 scans) & “Super-Mutant” (no tasks to complete). Lastly, in the fifth and final chapter of the game the levels we beat were “Back on the Shellraiser” (no tasks to complete), “Streets” (found 4/4 mutagen canisters, performed 1/1 scans), “Shredder’s Lair” (found 2/2 mutagen canisters) & “Shredder’s Throne” (no tasks to complete). And that was it, consider the day saved . . . mutant style. Like Spy Hunter I'm going to give this game an 8, but it's actually more like an 8.5. Booyakasha!!!!

7) Also, with the completion of Spy Hunter I needed to pick a new game for my 3DS as well. I chose to go with Lego Chima: Laval’s Journey! The land of Chima is inhabited my many different animal tribes, with everything kept in balance and harmony via the magical Chi substance that flows throughout the land. However, a member of the crocodile tribe named Cragger, under the influence of his nasty sister, is seeking to disrupt this balance by stealing Chi for himself and unlocking the secrets of the Triple Chi Armour! Laval of the lion tribe, who used to be friends with Cragger, is not going to let this happen. You are tasked with taking control of Laval and his party of friends, and set out amongst the varied lands of Chima in order to capture Cragger and end the threat he represents. I’ve made really good progress on the game so far, completing the first nine levels, which went as such: “Spiral Mountain” (earned True Legend status and unlocked the Lennox character), “Eagle Town” (found 1 Treasure Token), “Eagle Library” (unlocked the Ewar, Eagle Elder and Bozy characters, while adding the Eris character to Laval’s party), “Sanctuary Forest” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Razcal & Raven Bomber characters, and added the Gorzan character to our party), “Gorilla Village” (earned True Legend status), “Rhino Canyon” (earned True Legend status, found 1 Treasure Token, unlocked the Balkar, Winzar & Raven Veteran characters, and added the Rogon character to our party), “Rhino Caves” (found 1 Treasure Token, and unlocked the Runk, Rhino Warrior, Wakz & Rhino Veteran characters), “Croc Swamp” (unlocked the Croc Brother, Croc Sister & Rizzo characters, and added the Cragger character to our party) & “Croc Fort” (earned True Legend status, found 1 Treasure Token, unlocked the Crooler & Croc Huntress characters, and added the Lagravis character to our party). At this point in the game I had played most of the levels, the story then saw me have to go back and redo a previous level, that being “Spiral Mountain” (found 2 Treasure Tokens and unlocked the Skinnet & Longtooth characters). Once that was finished I managed to find the tenth and final level of the game, called “Wolf Camp” (earned True Legend status, and unlocked the Wolf Huntress, Wolf Veteran, Windra & Wolf Hunter characters). For completing the game’s story mode I also unlocked the Chi Armour Cragger & Chi Armour Worriz characters, as well as “Chi Play”, whatever that is. Although I have completed the game, there is still much to do, I have to go back and find a whole bunch of items and what not. Now, in between all of these levels, while exploring the various hubs of the game, I managed to unlock a bunch of other stuff. These items included character bios for the Rhino, Lion, Raven, Beaver & Crocodile tribes, as well as for the Skinnet, Furtivo & Dom de la Woosh characters, location bios for the Rhino Caves, Rhino Quarry, Lion Temple, Spiral Mountain, Croc Swamp, Eagle Town, Eagle Library & Croc Fort, the Lion Guard, Croc Veteran, Leonidas, Lion Elder & Raven Warrior characters, 2 Red Bricks (containing the X4 Stud Multiplier and Treasure Detector extras), as well as the Crocodile Tribe Wheel, Eagle Tribe Wheel & Wolf Tribe Wheel items. I also managed to add the Worriz character to our party, and purchased both of the Red Bricks I unlocked, as well as the Bozy & Raven Warrior characters. More to come soon as this is a pretty fun game, and it’s nice to learn what Lego Chima is all about finally!

8) Finally, since we also beat TMNT on the Wii after using it to replace Rayman, we had to start out on yet another two player adventure. The game to fill that void this time, was none other than Donkey Kong Country Returns!! This is my first modern Donkey Kong experience and so far it’s been awesome, we’re finding it very similar to our Rayman journey. When a volcanic eruption awakes a race of evil Tiki monsters, they soon set to work hypnotizing the animals in Donkey Kong’s jungle. Donkey Kong is immune to their effects though, so he is quite pissed off when he finds out these creatures are using said animals to steal all the bananas in the jungle! Your task in this title is to take control of Donkey and Diddy, and us them to get to the bottom of this fiendish plot. Right now we’re playing on the first world of the game, simply titled “Jungle”. We’ve completed the first seven levels of said world, as follows: “Jungle Hijinks” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 6/9 puzzle pieces), “King of Cling” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Tree Top Bop” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 0/5 puzzle pieces), “Sunset Shore” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Canopy Canyons” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 4/5 puzzle pieces), “Crazy Cart” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Muggly’s Mound” (defeated boss). Every time we collected all the puzzle pieces in a level the image gallery was updated, and when we beat the boss the music gallery was updated. Can’t wait to get back at it!

"NNGRR" - The opening weekend of the March Break week we watched Taken with our friends in Hamilton, and boy is it a good flick! The central character is Bryan Mills, a former CIA operative who has retired and moved to Los Angeles, in order to be closer to his daughter Kim. He is looking to make up for lost time, as his job kept him away from her throughout her childhood. However, when Kim begs him to let her go on a trip to Paris with her friend Amanda, Bryan is not impressed. He finally relents after his ex-wife, Lenore, wears him down. Not long after their arrival in Paris though, Kim and Amanda are kidnapped from the apartment they are staying in, just as Bryan and Kim are in the middle of a conversation on the international cell phone he gave her for the trip. Immediately Bryan’s training kicks in and he takes what clues he could glean from the phone call with him on the first flight out to Paris. Upon touching down at the airport it isn’t long before Bryan is able to find the person who first made contact with the girls and instigated their kidnapping. After a confrontation with this Peter character, a series of events unfolds that sees Bryan rampage all over Paris, getting to the bottom of an Albanian sex trade ring. How many people will Bryan have to destroy before he finds his daughter? Watch to find out, you’ll be glad you did! This movie was amazing, so intense and such great action. The story really was cool, it’s a pretty dark journey and Liam Neeson is the perfect host. I was first introduced to him in the Star Wars: Phantom Menace and have loved watching him ever since. Can’t wait to see the second one now!!

During the March Break I finished a surprise book I found at Chapters a while back, called Transformers: Retribution! This book serves as a bit of a prequel to the Transformers: Prime TV show, showcasing an adventure that unfolds before they reach Earth. With the All Spark jettisoned and it’s whereabouts unknown, the Autobots resume their pursuit of it after some previous adventures on a planet known as Velocitron. However, the Decepticons in turn are in pursuit of the Autobots. Although the Autobots have temporarily lost them, that situation erodes when Megatron and his thugs finally catch up to Optimus and the Ark as his charges are exploring a new world called Aquatron. Upon landing on Aquatron the only being in sight is a bot known as The Curator. He explains that the majority of their population resides below the surface of the water, as evolution has tailored them to adjust for aquatic life on this very wet world. Before claims of Aquatron being a massive Energon producer that used to deal in trade with many other planets in the universe (before the current civil war knocked out all the space bridges that is) can be authenticated, that is when the Nemesis shows up. But the Curator aids the Autobots by disabling the Nemesis using one of their planetary defense weapons, afterwards convincing both factions to meet up on the surface of Aquatron for peace talks. But both sides soon realize this is all a ruse, that the Curator’s true agenda is to bring an end to these Cybertronians at the behest of his true masters . . . the duplicitous, double talking bots known as the Quintessons!! What’s worse is that the Quintessons have figured out a way to invade Cybertron, piggybacking on an experiment that Shockwave is conducting back on the Transformers’ home world. With legions of Sharkticons set to devour all Cybertronians on both Aquatron and Cybertron, mortal enemies are suddenly going to have to work together to overcome a common foe. Who will be the hero this time around? This was a pretty cool story, I like how they found a way to slip the Quintessons in to the mix as they were such a weird and interesting part of the original Generation 1 storyline. I also love the many cameos from popular G1 characters like the Autobots’ Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Kup, Rodimus, Ironhide, Perceptor, Brawn, Jazz, Prowl, Bluestreak, Mirage, Blaster, Springer, Superion and all of this Aerial Bot components, Omega Supreme, and even a mention for Hound. As for the Decepticons, there was Skywarp, Thundercracker, Dirge, Thrust, Ramjet, Slipstream, Devastator and all of his component Constructicons, as well as RatBat! Man, the Transformers are so cool . . .

On the closing weekend of March Break we watched a movie I recently picked up that I was very much looking forward to, that being Role Models! Danny and Wheeler are the main subjects of this film, they work together flogging an energy drink called Minotaur. However, when one day Danny realizes he’s been with the company for a full decade, he believes he’s wasted his life. Being a negative person to begin with Danny takes the realization pretty hard, and when his girlfriend decides they have to break up due to his negativity, that puts him right over the edge. At their next Minotaur gig Danny ends up getting in to a confrontation with a tow truck driver and assaults a cop, before driving their Minotaur truck over a statue in front of a high school!! Danny’s former girlfriend is a lawyer though, and she gets their jail sentence reduced to community service. Danny and Wheeler’s task is to spend 150 hours mentoring kids at the Sturdy Wings foundation! Danny gets paired up with Augie, an older kid who is obsessed with the realm of fantasy and escapes to it any time he can, while Wheeler matches up with Ronnie, a youngster who has a filthy mouth and loves to get in to trouble. Upon their first meeting things don’t go well, as do a lot of the follow up visits. However, after a while Danny and Wheeler both begin to develop meaningful ties to these two kids, and they actually do start acting as somewhat of a role model to them. But just as their 150 hours are almost up, a series of events leads to them being kicked out of Sturdy Wings, and it appears as if they are going to have to do some prison time. In a last ditch attempt to help Augie on his quest to win the title of king in his local fantasy battle, before their court hearing, Danny gets the four of them together and they hatch a plan. But will it be enough to crown Augie king and win him the hand of his fair maiden? Will it get them out of going to prison? And will it earn Danny the love of his life back? I bet you already know the answers!! This movie was hilarious, which doesn’t surprise me. It didn’t get the best reviews if I remember correctly, but I don’t know why. The humour was relentless, raunchy at times, and really any movie with Seann William Scott is amazing by default, the guy is a master! And Paul Rudd is amazing too. Whispering eye!!!!!

Earlier this week I finished reading Star Wars: The Old Republic; Annihilation, and it was a good one! The main character is a Republic special agent named Theron Shan, who is easily SIS’ top field agent. When a daring mission comes along that could rid the galaxy of an extremely potent Imperial threat, the supreme commander of the Republic, Jace Malcom, wants Theron as his man. The threat is an Imperial battleship known as the Ascendant Spear. It is captained by Darth Karrid, and it is no ordinary ship. Thanks to her late Sith Master, Darth Mekhis, the ship is able to form a cybernetic bond with Darth Karrid, allowing her to control it using mere thought, and also supplement it’s power using her dark side powers. However, if the elaborate plan laid out to sabotage the Spear is not difficult enough, there are a number of other factors at work. Theron involves a Twi’lek mercenary named Teff’ith that he seems to have taken a shine to, and she’s a bit of a wild card. Also, before the mission Jace is forced to deal with some unresolved feelings toward his mother, Satele Shan, who is the grand master of the Jedi order and chose to give Theron up at birth. The unresolved feelings don’t stop there though, as Theron finds out that his father just so happens to be the supreme commander, Jace Malcom. Top this all off with having to work alongside a Jedi Master named Gnost-Dural, who used to be Darth Karrid’s master before she turned to the dark side, and Theron has his plate full! But SIS doesn’t call him their top agent for nothing. Can Theron put his feelings aside, buckle down, and get the job done? You best be reading to find out! I really liked this story, such a cool plot, some great characters, and a butt load of action. The Old Republic era is still somewhat new to me as I’ve never played any of the games, since I abhor both Xbox and PC gaming, but the more I read the more I like it. We’ll see what’s in store next, soon I hope!

Finally, just last night I finished watching the fifth and final season of the Clone Wars TV show . . . it was kind of bittersweet. Anyhoo, this season had a few main plotlines. It kicked off with a four parter that took place on the world of Onderon, with Ahsoka helping the local resistance movement gear up to repel their world’s Separatist oppressors. Another four parter took places afterwards, with Yoda and Ahsoka taking a small group on younglings to the planet of Ilum, in order to find each of their crystals and complete construction of their lightsabers. However, the notorious pirate Hondo interferes as he wants the crystals for himself. A series of events unfolds that eventually sees them team up in order to fend off that fiend, General Grievous! R2-D2 and a small team of droids starred next, in yet another four parter that saw them partake in a mission to steal a Separatist encryption module from an enemy battleship. They get way more than they bargained for though, and eventually have to save key figureheads of the Republic from a Separatist assassination attempt. Shit really starts to get serious at this point, when Obi-Wan and Adi Galia confront Darth Maul and his brother Savage Opress at Hondo’s pirate headquarters. Escaping the Jedi the brothers are found and rescued by Pre Vizsla, who takes them back to Mandalore under the protection of Death Watch. They hatch a plan to take over Mandalore from Duchess Satine’s control, and set up a crime syndicate in the process. Luring Obi-Wan Kenobi to Mandalore, using Satine as bait, Darth Maul plans to end him once and for all. However, Darth Sidious learns of Maul’s actions and also heads to Mandalore, chastising Maul and engaging him in a drawn out lightsaber duel. Once the smoke clears many have fallen, including Adi Galia, Duchess Satine, Pre Vizsla, and Savage Opress . . . but Sidious has some nefarious plan in mind for poor Maul. The season then ends on a pretty heavy note. A bombing at the Jedi Temple is investigated by Anakin and Ahsoka, but in the process Ahsoka is set up to look like the guilty party. With no option but to flee, she is pursued by Jedi and Clone Troopers alike, forced to partner up with the likes of Asajj Ventress along the way. Anakin is the only once convinced of Ahsoka’s innocence, and he saves her just in time, as she is captured and about to be announced guilty. For Anakin discovered that Ahsoka’s friend Barriss Offee, had set her up. Ahsoka is thankful that Anakin set her free, but seeing as how the rest of the order believed in her guilt and didn’t stick up for her, she decides to leave the Jedi Order. Whew, a pretty intense finish to this one!! Ever since I found out that Anakin had an apprentice I wondered how that storyline would play out, as we hear nothing about it in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. So that’s a bit of closure on that matter, which is nice. I also love the violent reunion between Sidious and Maul, that was amazing. So sad the show is over though!! There is actually a season six out now, which is called the “Lost Missions”, but I’m not sure if it just picks up from where season 5 leaves off, or if it’s just random episodes or whatever. I believe season 5 is the true end of the series, but it will be nice to have at least something beyond it to look forward to. I don’t know why they cancelled it, this show is amazing!!

Has summer come, because a lot of the content in this blog is pretty wet and tropical!!

by on

The last few weeks have been just a friggin’ blur, so much stuff going on! Anyways, the weekend after my last blog the mother in law finally made her way down to visit. While she was down we went to watch a certain amazing movie you’ll see mentioned later on, went out for a nice dinner at Fellini Koolini’s, and on the day she left we went tobogganing on the small hill James went to for his tobogganing night with the Beavers. It was pretty funny!! The week after that it was our “Family Day” long weekend and we didn’t really do all that much. On the Saturday we went to my parents’ house for dinner and some cards as it was my mom’s birthday, and then on the holiday Monday we went to Circle R Ranch to try James at cross country skiing. Once we finally got his boots attached to his skis he did a pretty good job, although one lap around the trail was enough apparently!! As for last weekend, we spent it mostly at home just doing chores, playing video games, watching TV, plus we ran a few errands.

In between the weekends James had his usual swimming and Beavers nights, and one of those nights was the Beavers banquet, where they all got to race their “Beaver Buggies”. That was excitement, let me tell you!! The weather has still been consistently cold for most of the time, although there was a bit of a warm up a week and a half ago or so, which saw more balmy temperatures along with some rain. This made for a bit of leaking as all the ice build-up on the roof wreaked havoc with the rain coming in on top of it. And to add insult to injury the dryer broke down earlier this week, so we had to spend a bit of cash getting it fixed. Can’t be without my clean socks!! But the silver lining to the various issues I’ve encountered has been Canada’s great performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics, which I did my last blog on. Now that the winter games are over the NHL is starting back up, so I’ll soon get to see my Leafs back in action. The break was good for them as most of their players got some much needed rest, and the timing was perfect as they will be getting a key player back from injury not long after action resumes. Bring the noise!!!! Anyways, here we go with what I’ve accomplished in between all the chores, work, weekend action, and streaming the Olympics while at work . . .

1) I completed one more series of my season on MLB 2K11, which saw us head to Oakland to play the Athletics. Here is how it went: won @ Oakland 12-1, won @ Oakland 3-0 (11 innings) & won @ Oakland 12-0.

2) On Lego: Battles I made some wicked progress, knocking down quite a few levels. I last left off on the “Pirate Story”, in the early stages of “Act 3”. There I managed to complete the final four levels, titled “Lining our Pockets”, Save yer Mates”, “Blockade” & “Under his Nose” respectively. I managed to obtain 20/20 blue Lego studs in each level, as well as each Minikit. I also managed to find the Red Brick in the third level of the act. After finishing off this third act I was awarded with unlocks of the Lady Pirate, King Kahuka & Conquistador characters. At this point I then moved on and began the “Spaceman Story”, beginning play on “Act 1”. There I was able to complete all six levels, which were titled “The Red Planet”, “Something’s Out There”, “A Purple Lode”, “Retaliation”, “Purple is the New Green” & “Orders from Above” respectively. In all levels I managed to obtain 20/20 blue Lego studs as well as the Minikit. I also grabbed the Red Brick in the fourth level. For my performance I was then awarded the Space Police character as well as the “Alien Story”. Still got a lot of Spaceman to go through first though!!

3) Another game has been completed by yours truly, this time around it was Star Wars: Lethal Alliance for the DS! I had a lot of work still to do on this game, but I buckled down and got it done. To begin with, at the start of the next level of the game I was shot down by Boba Fett over Tatooine. After recovering I set about exploring my surroundings. Fending off some Stormtroopers I encountered Kheev’s lieutenant, Sedriss. In a short battle I took him down and then moved on, eventually catching up with Kheev. He set a Rancor on me however, but I was able to destroy it. Continuing after Kheev his forces soon captured us and put us on a ship to the prison world of Despayre! The next level began with me slipping my captors on the world of Despayre and then taking off through the facility. With no weapons I had to use turrets to take out Stormtroopers, before finding Zeeo discarded in a scrap heap. Continuing on through ducts and other such passageways, we battled a probe droid before reaching the surface of the planet. Off in the distance we saw the Death Star loading up with shipments of supplies. Kheev then showed his face again and admonished me for my efforts, before retreating. Zeeo and I then found secret passage up to the orbiting Death Star. In the penultimate level of the game I was aboard the Empire’s loathed space station. Making my way out of the hangar bay we engaged Stormies and officers, eventually passing outside to the scaffolding surrounding the station. Soon making our way back inside we avoided mines, droids, and other clever traps before eavesdropping on Kheev, who was talking with Darth Vader. I found out that the station was almost operational and that it would soon be heading to Danuta for final preparations. I found a safe place to contact the Alliance and informed Leia of what I had learned. After talking to her I stole a ship and headed to Danuta, with a scheme in mind to steal the Death Star plans! The final level of the game was basically just a big boss fight. I challenged Kheev on Danuta, who was encased in some manner of droid carapace that resembled a crab. In a long, tough battle I eventually defeated him and escaped with the plans, heading back to rendezvous with the rebels. This is a pretty good game. The graphics were good, the gameplay was good enough, but what captivated me most about it was the story. We finally know how those Death Star plans were acquired, it’s a really cool piece of lore!! I’m going to give this game a 7 rating here on Gamespot, but it’s more like a 7.5. It’s got some technical issues, and it’s pretty short. But the interesting story, puzzles, dual action between Rianna and Zeeo, etc. really make up for it.

4) James and I have been plugging away at Star Wars: Angry Birds but there is nothing serious to report yet. I’ll give a statistical update as soon as we have some major progress in place.

5) Lego: Lord of the Rings saw a bit of progress made. Picking up where I left off I explored the game hub, which starts off at The Shire, and I found 2 Silver Bricks in the process. The second level of the game then began, called “The Black Rider”. In it I earned True Adventurer status, found 1 Minikit piece, unlocked the Sam, Frodo (Shire), Merry & Pippin characters, and earned 2 Silver Bricks (one for the completion, the other for the status achievement). Afterwards I further explored the Shire and beyond (the city of Bree), finding 3 Silver Bricks, unlocking 1 Red Brick (which contained the Quest Finder extra), and afterwards completed one quest. More to come!

6) There was another completion this time around, but this time it was both James and I in on the action, the game in question being SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge! We really went to town on this game. Although it’s not the longest of games, we really did put in an lot of work to get it finished. Picking up where we last left off we were still on the first chapter of the game, “Dutchman’s Triangle”. We’d completed the first three levels already, so we then just had to finish off the last two, which were called “Davey Jones’ Locker” & “Rainchild” respectively. We then began the second chapter of the game, “Rock Bottom”, completing all five levels it contained. In order the levels were “Stonefish Street”, “Barracuda Boulevard”, “Anemone Avenue”, “Leviathan Way” & “Clem”. The third and final chapter of the game was called “Bikini Bottom”, and it included another five levels. We beat them all, and they were titled “Anchor Way”, “Barnacle Road”, “Coral Avenue”, “Conch Street” & “Plankton” respectively. During all of this action I was able to fully upgrade my Pickle Blaster, Condiment Cannon, Bubble Gum Blaster & Pie Launcher, while my Neptuner Fork, Tartar Gun & Reef Blower weapons are still in various stages of upgrades. I’ve seen this game ripped a lot online for being short and repetitive, which I admit it sort of is. But I would give this game an 8 as it really captures the essence of the whole SpongeBob vibe, has great graphics, the original voice cast, a funny story, and some really smooth gameplay. Plankton’s Robotic Revenge doesn’t hit a home run, but it’s at least got a double that could be stretched in to a triple. Lots of fun!

7) Seeing as SpongeBob was all done, James and I had to pick a new game to keep us occupied, and that game ended up being . . . Rayman: Origins!! And let me tell you what a choice that was, this thing has us fully addicted! Rayman is a strange creature who lives in the forest with a race of bizarre, small beings that he calls his friends . . . and they all love to sleep a lot!! One day when their snoring reaches a fever pitch the witches of the underworld have finally had enough and they act up, sending all sorts of enemies Rayman’s way and capturing a number of nymphs. Your job is to take Rayman in to battle against these forces, save the nymphs, and make the witches pay for their actions. James and I have completed a ton of this game so far, the first world we explored and conquered was “Jibberish Jungle”. It contained eight levels, including “It’s A Jungle Out There . . .” (completed 3/3 challenges, earned a medal), “Geyser Blowout” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Punching Plateaus” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Go With the Flow” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Swinging Caves” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Over the Rainbow” (completed 3/3 challenges), “Can’t Catch Me!” (won race, earned a gem) & “Hi-Ho Moskito!” (completed 3/3 challenges, earned a medal). The second world was “Desert of Dijiridoos”. The levels we beat there were “Crazy Bouncing” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Best Original Score” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Wind or Lose” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Cacaphonic Chase” (won race, earned a gem), “Skyward Sonata” (completed 6/6 challenges), “No Turning Back” (completed 3/3 challenges) & “Shooting Me Softly” (completed 3/3 challenges). Third came the “Gourmand Land” world. There we rampaged through the “Polar Pursuit” (completed 6/6 challenges, earned a medal), “Dashing Thru the Snow” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Piping Hot!” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Sink or Swim” (won race, earned a gem), “Mending the Rift” (completed 3/3 challenges, earned a medal), & “Aim for the Eel!” (completed 3/3 challenges) levels. Next up was the “Sea of Serendipity” world. The levels we completed there included “Port ‘O Panic” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Swimming with Stars” (completed 6/6 challenges, earned a medal), “Freaking Flipper” (completed 6/6 challenges, earned a medal), “Bad Bubbles and Beyond” (completed 3/3 challenges), “Fire When Wetty” (completed 3/3 challenges) & “Pirate’s Treasure” (won race, earned a gem). The world of “Mystical Pique” came next, there we completed the “Moseying the Mountain” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Mystical Munkeys” (completed 6/6 challenges), “Way of the Electoons” (completed 3/3 challenges), “Tricky Treasure Temple” (won race, earned a gem) & “Golly G. Golem” (completed 6/6 challenges) levels. The next world we chose to visit was “Ticklish Temples”, and it is where we have left off. So far we’ve completed just the first level, called “Outta My Way” (completed 6/6 challenges). Awesome game!!

8) Finally, with finishing Lethal Alliance I needed to get another DS game going, and I ended up choosing the Spy Hunter 3DS title! In this game you play a secret agent, testing out the new G-6155 Interceptor prototype, a spy car armed to the teeth that can also convert to an off road mode as well as a boat! However, during a training exercise, while showing off it’s capabilities to the brass, the Interceptor is attacked by numerous vehicles. It is then training on the fly as you have to figure out the car’s capabilities and fight off these attackers at the same time! The rest of the game then unfolds as you try to counteract this secret organization, an organization that has terroristic ideals and has no qualms at causing harm in order to carry them out. I’ve made some pretty good progress on this game so far, beating the first 10 levels. Those levels include “Training”, “Interception”, “Sewer Rat”, “Executive Elimination”, “Carnage”, “Easy Does it”, “Fight or Flight”, “Nuclear Fallout”, “Rogue” & “Anchorage”.

“NNGRR” - That weekend the mother-in-law came down we went to the movies for James and saw The Lego Movie, which was amazing!! In an animated Lego universe this film tells the tale of Emmet, a regular type of guy who toils as a construction worker. He loves everything about his city and the person who rules over it, President Business. However, what Emmet doesn’t know is that President Business moonlights as the evil Lord Business, who secretly plans to end the world on Taco Tuesday! Trying to counter Lord Business’ evil scheming is a group of resistance composed of a number of master builders, featuring Batman, Superman, Michaelangelo, and many other well-known figures. This resistance is led by a blind man named Vitruvius, who has spoken of a prophecy, a prophecy that says a master builder the likes of which they’ve never seen before would find the piece of resistance to Lord Business’ plans and save them all from certain doom. Well, after work one day Emmet sees somebody poking around his construction site and then engages with this person, who happens to be a member of the resistance, named Wyldstyle. In the course of dealing with her Emmet accidentally falls down a shaft and finds the piece of resistance! After being captured soon after by Lord Business’ henchman, Bad Cop, Emmet is rescued by Wyldstyle and taken back to the resistance headquarters. Upon meeting Emmet and learning that he has no discernible skill or talent at pretty much anything, panic sets in. Making matters worse a tracking device planted on Emmet leads Bad Cop and his minions right to the resistance! Escaping with a few key members Emmet and his new cohorts embark on an epic journey that just may unlock his true potential and prove to everybody that really might just be the one Vitruvius spoke of after all. This movie was amazing, and the ending was totally cool! mrs darthcobain17 didn’t see it coming, but I knew something of that nature was in the works as there are a lot of small clues and flashes throughout the film that tip you off. The story was awesome, the animation was amazing, and the voice talent was top drawer. Lego doesn’t skimp on anything, do they!?

That Sunday we got around to watching Fast & Furious 6, which I’ve been wanting to see since it came out. It picks up down in the Canary Islands where Brian and Dom are racing to the hospital, for Mia is about to give birth to her and Brian’s first child. After their successful heist in the previous film they are all living quite comfortably, as is the rest of the crew, who are scattered around the globe. However, Hobbs, the cop who they worked sometimes against/sometimes with in the last story, contacts Dom about helping him out with a case. A former British soldier by the name of Owen Shaw is leading a small but lethal gang of criminals, and they just hit a Russian military convoy. Hobbs fears the end game of their attack pattern could be catastrophic for national security, but with how talented and fast Shaw’s team is, Hobbs needs to bring in some specialists for the job! Dom accepts when Hobbs plays his last card, recent surveillance photos of Dom’s long thought deceased girlfriend, Letty. Heading over to the UK the team sets up shop and all of the others arrive, including Roman, Han, Gisele, and Tej. They track Shaw down easily enough, but once they find him they realize they might be in over their heads, for this guy has some serious tech at his disposal! But the team perseveres and eventually they figure out that his final target in Scotland is actually a decoy, setting up a wild final sequence on the highways of Spain. Can Dom and his team succeed and earn the pardons they so badly want, but even if they do, will they all come out of it unscathed? This was a great movie, containing all the usual things you get from this franchise. Fierce action, amazing cars, hot women, and action heroes extraordinaire! I love this film just as much as I do all the rest of them, but it was very bittersweet knowing it’s the last time we’ll see Paul Walker on the big screen. Shit just ain’t fair sometimes . . .

In the week that followed I got some more good stuff done, first finishing the third book of The Jaguar Stones series, called The River of No Return. This edition starts with Max Murphy on vacation in Venice with his parents, who after learning how real the Mayan Death Gods are in the last book, have vowed to become better parents. But when an opportunity to head back to San Xavier and work on restoring the Black Pyramid arises, their instincts as archaeologists win out and all of a sudden Max is headed back to the place he would least like to be on Earth! The bright side is that he’ll get to see Lola, who he hasn’t had contact with for quite some time. However, when Max gets to San Xavier Lola doesn’t show up right away, and when she eventually does she is not well. The Gods of Death have been tormenting her as they have been Max, and she is considering giving up and handing over the white jaguar stone to them. Max peps her up though, and they decide to stand firm and fight Ah Pukuh until their final breaths! But when a string of events unfolds that sees Max and Lola trying to reach his Uncle Ted’s villa before an approaching hurricane hits, calamity ensues. The duo end up sheltering at a brand new hotel in San Xavier called The Grand Hotel Xibalba. Lola has her doubts, feeling that it’s pretty obvious it’s a setup by Ah Pukuh, but Max is having none of it. Once in the hotel though it doesn’t take long before Max realizes Lola is completely correct! The pair must then battle their way to freedom, and along the way many revelations are made about Lola and her lineage, answers to questions she’s been asking for many years. Despite eventually reaching safety the larger question looms. Now that Ah Pukuh has all five jaguar stones, what is to come, does it even matter that they managed to escape? Can’t wait to see what happens next to these two young adventurers!

The next thing I did was watch Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, which I have been absolutely hankering to see since it came out in theatres!! This is a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale, less the Witch Hunters part of course. Anyhoo, one night long ago, in what I assume is a German forest of some sort, a brother and sister who go by the names of Hansel and Gretel are seemingly abandoned by their father. Eventually setting out to explore when they feel their father is not going to be coming back for them, they stumble upon a small dwelling made of candy. Entering it they are horrified to find an evil witch, who takes them captive and begins fattening Hansel up so she can eventually eat him. However, with some ingenuity on Gretel’s part the pair break loose and desperately battle the witch, finally managing to trap her in her own oven and burn her alive! The action then shifts ahead almost 9 years, and headlines are being made by this pair who now make a living hunting witches such as this. They arrive in a town called Augsburg, where the disappearance of young children has seemed to increase at an alarming rate. Despite interference from the local sheriff the two quickly track down the culprits, but they are shocked to learn that the witch they are dealing with in this instance is a more powerful grand witch by the name of Muriel. After capturing and interrogating one of Muriel’s acolytes they learn the disappearance of the children is linked to an important ritual the coven will be performing on the Blood Moon. With the aid of a few unlikely allies Hansel & Gretel must launch an all-out attack and prevent the ritual from happening, but can they succeed with such an overwhelming discrepancy in numbers? This movie was awesome, I love how they took an ancient fairy tale and turned it in to something fierce, modern and creative that adults can enjoy. The action is awesome, as are the effects, and I love the actress who plays Gretel, she is friggin’ delicious!! Bravo, give me more!

Soon after we watched the second and newest movie in the Percy Jackson series, called The Sea of Monsters! This film begins with a bit of back story on how Annabeth first arrived at Camp Half Blood. Her and three others, including Grover the Satyr, Luke (who turned evil in the first movie), and a girl named Talia, were being pursued by a couple of Cyclops as they tried to reach the safety of said camp. Talia stayed behind to distract the beasts while the other three reached safety. Unfortunately Talia was fatally wounded in her stand against their enemies, but to prevent her from perishing Zeus (who is Talia’s father) turned her in to a tree that produces a magical barrier which forever more enveloped Camp Half Blood, protecting it from outside attack. Back at Camp Half Blood in the present time, after the events of the first film, the campers are hard at work in their continued training . . . soon a surprise arrives at their doorstep though. This surprise is the arrival of another demi-god, one who was fathered by Poseidon, previously thought to have had only the one son in Percy! Adding to the surprise is that this new arrival, Tyson, also happens to be a Cyclops. Before anybody can really become accustomed to this new situation the barrier surrounding Camp Half Blood is breached and a mechanical bull attacks, leaving much destruction in it’s wake. After defeating this contraption Percy learns that Luke is behind it, and they also figure out that he is the one who poisoned Talia’s tree and allowed the bull in in the first place. In order to save the tree and protect their home a quest is needed. The mission: to find the fabled golden fleece, an item that has unnatural healing powers and should be able to fix up the tree lickety split. With Ares’ daughter Clarice (who is a rival of Percy’s) getting the go ahead for the quest Percy has to take matters in to his own hands. He, Annabeth, Grover, and a tag along named Tyson, secretly depart camp on their own quest to capture the fleece, which leads them to Luke and his team of deserters deep in the Sea of Monsters (known to human kind as the Bermuda Triangle). This bunch not only has to thwart Luke in his attempt to reanimate the titan, Kronos, while also nabbing the fleece, but Percy and Clarice must learn to work together instead of being at odds, while Annabeth needs to get over her attitude towards Tyson (due to the fact that he is a Cyclops). Does this small but able team have what it takes? I’d like to think so!! This was another great movie, I really hope they finish the series up with the last three stories. Cast is great, effects are top notch, and of course what I like about this franchise most is the story, the way they integrate ancient Greek myth in to today’s society. And that Annabeth, yowza . . .

On the Family Day weekend we watched Honey I Shrunk the Kids, a classic film from when we ourselves were a whole lot younger! Wayne Szalinski is an inventor, albeit not a successful one. His latest project happens to be a shrink ray, but when he can’t get it to work and his presentation to a board of potential investors is a bust, he’s ready to pack it in. However, while at this presentation, back home one of the neighbours’ kids hits a baseball through the Szalinski’s attic window, striking the machine and causing it to finally work properly. When the neighbours come over to apologize, both the Szalinski kids (Amy and Nick) and the Thompson kids (Russ and Ron) are accidentally shrunk when they go to investigate any potential damage to the shrink ray! Coming home and cleaning up the curious mess in the attic, Mr. Szalinski accidentally sweeps up the four pint sized kids and throws them out in the trash! A dangerous, epic journey is then undertaken by the four children to safely navigate the Szalinski’s backyard and make it back to the house where they can get the adults’ attention and be restored to their normal size. Along the way they’ll have to face insects, the elements, and the bumbling of their own friends and family! Do they have it in them, or will they end up as four tiny smears in the grass? This is a really cool movie, quirky and funny, and at the time I remember the effects being really cool. Of course they look a bit dated by today’s standards, but it shouldn’t prevent you from giving this film a watch as it’s definitely worth it.

Last weekend I finished watching season three of Transformers: Prime, which saw the series take on the subtitle “Beast Hunters”. This season picks up right where the last one left off, with the Decepticons just having destroyed the Autobots’ base, and seemingly Optimus Prime along with it. In the meantime the remaining Autobots have scattered along with their human counterparts, hiding from the Decepticons, who are actively seeking to destroy them. Piling on more bad news for the Autobots is the fact that the mad scientist known as Shockwave has been discovered alive and active on Cybertron, and is brought back to Earth to consult with his leader. Shockwave has brought a surprise with him too . . . a being known as a Predacon, a wild Transformer hunting beast that Megatron plans to use to eradicate the remaining Autobots once and for all! Shockwave also makes a discovery that will allow Megatron to rebuild the Omega lock, meaning they can not only restore Cybertron, but also Cyberform Earth as well! With the odds increasingly stacked against the Autobots a couple of really good things happen that bolster their cause. First, they all manage to reunite and form a plan to take the fight to the Decepticons, in the process welcoming the legendary warrior Ultra Magnus to the fold. And second, Smokescreen was actually able to pull Optimus from the wreckage of their base before he could perish, and using the forge of Solus Prime brought him back to life with some major enhancements to boot! It all comes down to one final battle, a battle which will see a tyrant toppled, and not by the hero you would have imagined. This was a great season, I love the mythology they brought in to it with the Predacons, and I also love the new (but classic) characters introduced in Ultra Magnus and Shockwave. All that remains is the feature length movie they produced to wrap up the events of this series, which I ordered on eBay and should be showing up any day now!!

Earlier this week I finished reading the fifth book in the Septimus Heap series, called Syren. The story picks up not long after the last one left off. Septimus is back at the castle with Marcia and his dragon, Spit Fyre, but Nicko, Snorri, Jenna and Beetle all decided to stay at the port near the House of Foryx for a bit of a vacation. Septimus is eager to get them back home and reunite their whole family though, so he sets off on Spit Fyre to collect them, after Marcia tells him the news that he’s become a Senior Apprentice! However, arriving at his destination after a long journey Septimus is disappointed that he can’t find his friends and family. Soon after he locates them aboard Jenna’s father’s (Milo) ship, the Cerys. Spending some time on board it’s not long before Milo’s droning on and on gets on most everybody’s nerves. So Septimus, Jenna and Beetle decide to leave on Spit Fyre post haste! But on the journey home they get caught up in a bad storm and Spit Fyre is hit by lightning. The party crash lands on a beach in a small chain of islands and are all OK, except for Spit Fyre that is, for his tail is in bad shape. Exploring the island Septimus is horrified to find that a former apprentice named Syrah Syara has been marooned on the island for about 500 years, kept alive by a malevolent possessive spirit known as a Syren. In the meantime Wolf Boy and Lucy Gringe arrive on island after being forced to board a pirate’s ship by the Port Witch Coven, and the Cerys also soon passes by on it’s journey home to the castle! Events transpire that see everybody reunited, and it’s good that they have the numbers, because a plot to overthrow the castle is hatching on this very island they have all been marooned on. A plot that will see the ghost of Tertius Fume plan a siege using a fabled weapon. It will be up to the combined wit of Septimus and his friends, not to mention interference from a couple of unlikely characters, if Tertius Fume is to be stopped!! This was another great story, I love the setting of it and all the new characters. And I’ve mentioned this before, but I appreciate how no one book in this series is in any way like the others, it is a very diverse and rich storyline being weaved. Two more to go!!