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

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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!!

Oh, Canada!!!

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Well, the 2014 Winter Olympics closed this past Sunday in Sochi, Russia, and what a games it was! We’ve (Canada as a nation) been having much better results over the last few games and so it should be, as we spend quite a bit of our calendar year in the frigid type of weather that has come to be associated with our country. However, with the increased backing these athletes have been getting in terms of funding and training, and just overall support, we’ve really started to take off!

In Sochi this year we finished third overall in the medal standings, with a count of 10 gold, 10 silver, and 5 bronze, for a total of 25 medals. It’s funny how they rank them, as the overall medal count is less important than your overall number of gold medals . . . quality not quantity I suppose!! Here is how our Olympics broke down:

First to medal, on February 08, was Mark McMorris, gaining a bronze medal in the men’s snowboard slopestyle despite a broken rib. Soon after came the sisters Justine Dufour-Lapointe (gold) and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (silver), in the ladies’ moguls (cute as fuck)!

After quite a few days of figure skating (my one “meh” event of the Olympics) as it started even before the opening ceremonies, Canada took a silver in the team figure skating event that ended on February 09.

On February 10 Charles Hamelin won the gold medal in the men’s 1500m speed skating event. Also that day we dominated the moguls once more, this time the men’s, with Alex Bilodeau getting gold and Mikael Kingsbury the silver!

Dara Howell netted us another gold medal on February 11, when she took the women’s freestyle skiing slopestyle event, which I believe is a new one this year. Adding to this run of medals Kim Lamarre joined Dara on the podium by taking the bronze!

Denny Morrison added a silver to the vault when he placed second in the men’s 1000m speed skating event on February 12.

Fitting for Valentine’s Day Patrick Chan placed second, taking home the silver medal in the men’s free skate.

On February 15 Morrison struck again, this time taking the bronze in the men’s 1500m speed skating event!

February 16 brought us another silver, this time for Dominique Maltais in the ladies’ snowboard cross. It also bagged us a bronze when Jan Hudec (sharing with Bode Miller of the U.S.) placed third in the men’s Super G alpine skiing race!

Skating then led to some more winnings, this time on February 17. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (from my neck of the woods!) took the silver medal in the pairs ice dance.

The following day Mike Riddle bagged us a silver in the men’s skiing halfpipe event. Also on February 18 the ladies’ 3000m relay speed skating team, consisting of Marie-Eve Drolet, Jessica Hewitt, Valerie Maltais and Marianne St. Gelais, did well enough to earn another silver.

A day later a couple of female bobsledders, Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, took the two man event . . . striking gold!

The day after we struck gold again, this time with the women’s curling team, which was not a surprise. Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen took home the gold as most people believed they would.

February 21 was a hugely satisfying day as it saw more gold, and in dramatic fashion!! We got some more hardware thanks to a skiing event, this time the women’s ski cross. Marielle Thompson grabbed the gold, while Kelsey Serwa took the silver right behind her. Another no brainer was the men’s curling team, which saw Brad Jacobs, Ryan Fry, E.J. Harnden and Ryan Harnden also strike gold. Not to be left out was speed skater Charle Cournoyer, who earned a bronze in the men’s 500m event. The biggest drama of the day though, was by far the women’s hockey final. As usual it was Canada and the U.S. battling it out in the gold medal game, and with the U.S. up 2-0 heading in to the third period most people thought it was over. I’ve seen my Leafs blow too many third period leads though, and I knew the Canucks would take a run at it in the final frame . . . and that they did! I’m not sure how much time was left, but I think it was less than 5 minutes to go, when Canada got rid of the goose egg and cut the deficit to one. Not long afterwards, with time ticking away and the net empty, the ladies banged home another (after a close call with the post, thanks to a wayward ref!) and dragged the contest to overtime. Naturally the better team won, with Poulin potting a huge goal in the extra frame and earning Canada’s ladies’ hockey team a much deserved gold medal!! There were some crying, none too pleased U.S. hockey players on the ice, and it looked good on them. Fantastic!!

On the final day of competition, February 23, the granddaddy of all Olympic events finally arrived, and boy was I looking forward to it. The men’s hockey tournament wrapped up, and it saw Canada taking on Sweden for the grand prize. Canada had a great tournament. They didn’t blow teams out of the water like that big, bad, fearsome U.S. team did, but they were stingy on defense, got great goaltending, and despite not scoring a ton it definitely wasn’t because they didn’t have chances!! This team is one of the best I’ve ever seen put together. When they got in a tight round-robin game with the Finns they didn’t get rattled. In their first elimination game against Latvia when they ran in to a hot goalie who kept the underdog in it for most of the game, it was like “whatever”. And then when they ran in to that high scoring U.S. team the goals dried magically dried up as they finally ran in to some real competition, and the Canucks needed just one goal to beat them. This team was rolling along so well it was like the gold medal game was just a formality, and it was, with Team Canada taking home gold on the strength of a 3-0 victory. Unrivaled depth, a magical blueline, and stellar goaltending . . . this team is one for the ages! Hockey, baby, we do it the best, and it’s truly the only sport that matters, woooooooooo!!!!!

It’s important to acknowledge a Canadian athlete who wasn’t at the games because she died in an accident a couple years ago. Sarah Burke was a freestyle skier who was a pioneer in her field, and is an important factor in the new skiing and snowboarding events that made their debut this year being included. She was born in Barrie in 1982 and passed away in 2012, during a training run in Salt Lake City. She was quite an influential athlete and remains so to this day. They spread some of her ashes at the venue in Sochi during these Olympics, and she is certainly missed . . .

Well, it’s going to be a long four years before the next games roll around, but once again I’m sure it will be well worth the wait. The summer Olympics don’t whet my appetite as, quite honestly, I find them entirely useless. I can sometimes get in to the biking and swimming events as those are two hobbies I do enjoy, but for the most part they are pretty boring. There is nothing less exciting in my opinion, than watching people run around a track . . . and that’s it. What I like about the winter games is that there is not just endurance and stamina needed but there is a lot of coordination involved what with the hockey, the ski and snowboard events, etc., and not to mention the risk factor involved with a lot of these disciplines. But I guess that’s typical, being Canadian I definitely would lean towards the winter events. Bring ‘em on!!

One last thing, I must say that our female athletes are by far the sexiest around. Not only can they perform on the ice and snow, but good lord they hot!!!

Bill 69: the third installment.

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The time is upon us for another edition of my Bill 69 blog series! The games are starting to fall a little faster, now that we’ve made our focus completing some easier games first and saving the really hard ones for last. The first of the three games we beat this time around is one of my very favourite games on the NES, a 2 player gem that is certainly short, but also very sweet . . .

Jackal!! This game was released by Konami in 1988 and is easily one of the best 2 player games you’ll ever come across, the fun factor is through the roof! In this title you take control of an army Jeep manned by two soldiers, one doing the driving and the other firing the payload. Your job is to enter hostile enemy territory and retrieve your captured comrades, dropping them off at each level’s helipad and in so doing whisking them away to safety! Judging by the looks of the Jeeps it looks like a 1970’s era engagement, but then a lot of the enemy’s technology looks a little more futuristic, so I don’t think this game is based on any type of historical engagement, even loosely.

Jackal contains six levels, each of them ending with a boss. The enemies you’ll face as you roll through each territory include opposing Jeeps, tanks, helicopters, planes, soldiers on foot, missile launchers, turrets, boats and submarines, and other more rare types of vehicles like grenade launching trucks and the like. Environmental hazards and enemy traps can also cause issues for your team, such as runaway trains, falling boulders, crumbling pillars, land mines, and defensive laser beams. The bosses in the game include a sequence of heavy duty tanks, statues of female heads that shoot heat seeking missiles, a battleship in harbour, a large helicopter dropping paratroopers, a sprawling electrified compound spewing tanks and armed with turrets, and finally a much easier compound armed with just a couple of laser turrets, but after beating it it discharges the main boss, a massive tank with a couple of destructive weapons it uses against you. If you are able to rampage through these six levels, rescue your comrades, and defeat all of the bosses you’ve done it, you’ve completed Jackal!

Like I said, this is one of the best 2 player games you’ll ever come across. But it’s not only fun with 2 players, it also works great as a solo mission! And in Jackal’s case I think the short nature of the game works more to it’s advantage, it serves as something really fun you can play when you don’t have a lot of time, and it never seems to get old. Konami kit a home run with his one!

The second game we beat is a wicked title on the SNES system, called . . .

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts!! This is the third game in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series, released for Super Nintendo in 1991. Similar to the previous games you must take control of a knight named Arthur and attempt to rescue the Princess, who this time has been kidnapped by a baddie named Sardius. He is after a special bracelet that the Princess is apparently in possession of, for it is the only object capable of destroying him.

The game consists of seven hard, grueling levels (see map below), each of which ends with some sort of boss, usually a strange creature of some kind. The bosses in this game include a large half man/half bird of prey, a giant barnacle, a large worm, a hydra, some sort of ice creature, an evil demon, and then the evil demon again, but this time around he has a second incarnation that is more difficult to defeat. Other smaller enemies you’ll encounter along the way include zombies, ghosts, werewolves, fairies, bats, gargoyles, goblins of course, and other assorted beasties. The types of items you can obtain in this game aren’t plentiful. Sacks of money you can collect, which we believe contribute towards earning continues, but most important are the treasure chests. These chests contain the powerups you’ll need to make it through the game, including different types of weapons and upgrades to your suit of armour. Do you have what it takes to wield Arthur against the demon hordes, and battle your way through to the Princess?

This game is actually insanely hard. Not only are the levels and enemies you’ll face in the game more on the difficult side of things, but once you make it through the game you are forced to go back to the very start and do it again, as the Princess stashed that special bracelet back at the beginning and you need it in order to destroy the ultimate boss, Sardius! The fight against Sardius then takes place in what I guess would be the eighth level of the game, but it is simply a boss fight. We played this game on Sieve’s Wii U, which allowed us to create save/load points, and even then it took us a long time to complete. Whoever finished this game back in the day, when they had to do it all in one shot with their collected continues are insane geniuses!!

The third and final completion of this round of play is a wicked, crazy ass game, the fabled . . .

Altered Beast!! This title was released for the Sega Genesis in 1989 and is an entertaining experience. It’s a two player co-operative game, the story being that in ancient Greece the king of the Gods, Zeus, resurrects a fallen warrior(s) to ravage the land in search of his kidnapped daughter, the goddess Athena. Although you are mere mortals and face many dangerous foes, Zeus has given you one helpful ability . . . the power to transform in to powerful beasts that greatly increase your destructive potential!

Although Altered Beast contains just five levels, they are not to be taken lightly! The first level takes place on an open plain, the second inside a cave, the third in an underground cavern, the fourth in some sort of frozen palace, and the fifth in a crazy, enemy filled apocalyptic environment. The creatures you will face along the way include zombies, pigs (yes, pigs!), various small flying creatures, snakes, blobs, warriors, mutant chickens, giant turtles, and all manner of abominations like boxing goats, karate kicking zebras, and many more. The bosses you will face, in order, include a large headless being that spits out falling heads at you, a mutant with dozens of attacking eyeballs, a large snail, a flying crocodile creature, and finally an angry, walking rhinoceros. The true enemy though is a character that looks like Uncle Fester and taunts you throughout the levels, transforming in to these bosses at the end of each level before escaping upon defeat. Helping you destroy him is your alternate beast form, and once again in order, the beasts you morph in to include a werewolf, dragon, bear, tiger, followed by the werewolf once more in the final level. The only items you need to collect in this game are the orbs that turn you in to your beast form, each player needs 3 in total to fully morph, with you getting slightly more powerful with each orb you collect. The orbs are obtained by destroying the blue pigs that run through each level. Can you channel the power of these wild beasts and defeat this old, bald fool, rescuing Athena in the process? Good luck!

I mentioned earlier that this is a tough game, and I wasn’t joking. It’s not hard like the previous game I reviewed, because that one was long, and the difficulty factor very high. This one is difficult more because of the restraints that are put on you going in to it. Although there are only five total levels, and they aren’t very long, you only get three lives and no continues to make it through the entire adventure. Making matters worse is that once you lose health, there is no way to recoup it. Also troublesome is that in order for the boss of the level to appear, both players have to be in their beast forms. If you miss a blue pig at some point during a level the action keeps on going until you get enough orbs to transform, and then the boss will show up. So you not only have to memorize each level to begin with, but to make it all the way through and defeat all enemies you also have to execute almost flawlessly. But the sense of satisfaction is worth it as this is a really cool game, and shares some common themes with Golden Axe. Plus I love the Greek mythology element it contains, a fun game for sure!

Cowabunga!! That's a blog chalk full of mutants!

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The last couple weeks and a bit have been busy, and pretty wild too! The cold weather I mentioned in my last blog has kept up for the most part, not quite the -40 conditions from before, but up to -30 at times. My parents were away in Florida for the month so we haven’t had any date nights for a while, so between James’ weekly activities, trying to keep the house and vehicles safe from the wild weather, and work, it’s been a pretty exhausting go! The cars have held up pretty well, but late last week the battery on the van finally went and we had to get it replaced, but that’s it for now so not too bad. Just a couple days after my last blog I had to stay home on a Friday to cover a PD day at James’ school. We had Taco Bell, went to check on my parents’ cat, and did some other fun stuff, so it was great. The mother in law was supposed to come down a couple weekends ago but mother nature opened up a can of winter whoop ass, so that got cancelled and we just bummed around home all weekend, it was also great! Similarly, last weekend mrs. darthcobain17 went to Hamilton for a girls’ night so James and I simply ate, watched YTV, played with toys, and played a ton of video games all weekend . . . it was epic! I didn’t get as much gaming done along the way as I would have liked, but I did OK. Here is how it went . . .

1) On Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7 I managed to complete my first go around of the game, from now on it will just be a mop up operation to go back and collect all the stuff I missed the first time through. Anyhoo, first up I complete the “Dobby!” level, earning True Wizard status along the way, finding 1 Crest Piece, and earning 2 Gold Bricks (one for the completion and one for the status achievement). Thus began the final chapter of the game, called “Deathly Hallows pt. 2”. The first level there was “The Thief’s Downfall”. I beat it and earned True Wizard status, found 1 Crest Piece, and earned 2 Gold Bricks (completion and status). The final five levels of the chapter that I completed unfolded as such: “Back to School” (earned True Wizard status, found 3 Crest Pieces, and earned 2 Gold Bricks), “Burning Bridges” (earned True Wizard status, found 2 Crest Pieces, unlocked The Grey Lady character, and earned 2 Gold Bricks), “Fiendfyre Frenzy” (earned True Wizard status, helped 1 Student in Peril, unlocked the Tom Riddle character, and earned 3 Gold Bricks), “Snape’s Tears” (earned True Wizard status, helped 1 Student in Peril, and earned 3 Gold Bricks) & “The Flaw in the Plan” (found 2 Crest Pieces, unlocked the Bellatrix Lestrange, Lord Voldemort and Kingsley Shacklebolt characters, and earned 1 Gold Brick). Between levels, exploring places like Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, The Leaky Cauldron, our campsite, and Hogwarts, I managed to unlock the Fred (Pyjamas), George (Pyjamas), George Weasley, Fred Weasley, Narcissa Malfoy, Dragomir Despard, Albert Runcorn, McGonagall (Black) and Rita Skeeter characters. I also purchased the last Red Brick I found, which contained the “Christmas” extra. Mop up operation now in effect!!

2) Like last time I managed to complete just one more series of my season on MLB 2K11. This time the Detroit Tigers were in town, and the action unfolded as such: won vs. Detroit 3-1, lost vs. Detroit 1-0 & won vs. Detroit 3-2. My first loss of the season, argghhh!!! Oh well, at least it came against a worthy team . . .

3) Transformers: Prime is in the books, as I finally managed to finish it this time around! There was just one last level of the game to beat, level thirteen, which was called “The Last Stand”. Beat it I did, finding 1/1 Cybertron Artifacts and earning an A ranking along the way. Afterwards I indulged in the game’s other mode, which was called “Multiplayer”. I played against computer opponents as James wouldn’t be able to quite get the hang of this game yet. I won many battles in the mode’s “Brawl”, “Energon Match” and “Emblem Battle” options, getting to control a lot of the characters I encountered in the game but never got to play with. When I finally put this title away I had earned 34/50 Emblems and unlocked all Cinema, Characters and Concept Art extras. This game was really, really good. A couple of awesome game modes, lots of unlockable content, and a seamless entry in to the world of Transformers: Prime. It gets a 10 in my opinion!!

4) Another game that got finished this time around was Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2!! The last time James and I played we had just finished our first journey through the game. All that was left was for us to do was go back through the various trips and participate in the few remaining mini-games that we hadn’t yet experienced. We did so, and played the following new mini-games in each destination: “U.S.A.” (completed Anesthetics, Spitter Sells and Singing in the Rain), “Europe” (completed Ice on ice, Chess and Photo Booth), “Asia” (completed Baseball, Plumber Rabbids and Shopping Cart Downhill), “South America” (completed Rolling Stone, Timber! and Rodeo) & “Tropics” (completed Voodoo Rabbids, RRR Xtreme Beach Volley and Swimsuit Edition). Along the way we unlocked four new costumes for the Rabbids, and two new costumes for Rayman. We also unlocked another music mini-game, this one called “Funky Town” . . . as in let me take you to it. And that was it, game over!! This is a really solid title, lots of different game types in it, and it’s pretty funny too. I’ll give it a score of 8 here on Gamespot, but I consider it more of an 8.5, really.

5) Decent progress was made on Lego: Battles, I picked up where I last left off, on “Act 2” of the “Pirate Story”. I had already completed the first two levels of this act, so I managed to complete the final three levels, which were “Heads Up”, “Pillage an’ Plunder” & “Booty Haul”. On each of these levels I managed to obtain 20/20 blue Lego studs as well as the Minikit, and also found a Red Brick in the final level. For my progress I unlocked the Tiki Golem character. I then moved on to “Act 3” of this story, able to complete just the first level so far, which was called “Adrift”. In it I obtained 20/20 blue Lego studs and found the Minikit. More to come.

6) Another level has fallen on Star Wars: Lethal Alliance, which I believe was about the third level of the game. Zeeo and I headed to Mustafar to explore the mining facility there, not far in to it we met some Wookies who gave us plans to the facility. After reaching the control room we discovered that shipments of the drug we’d found on Alderaan had ceased, and that the finalized Mirkanite alloy had already left Mustafar, bound for a world called Despayre. We proceeded with our plan to blow the facility but along the way found out that Rianna’s tormentor, Kheev, was on planet. We chased after him instead but couldn’t catch up before he departed for Tatooine . . .

7) A number of new games were undertaken over the past couple weeks, what with Transformers: Prime and Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2 both succumbing. The first one we started out on, which James was super excited about, was Star Wars: Angry Birds. This is the classic old game of Angry Birds, launch your birds at the pigs who are cocooned in their various structures, and try to destroy them all! This version though is everything Star Wars, the characters, the environments, the weapons you can use . . . and it is amazing. We’ve played this game a lot so far, here is how we’ve fared: Tatooine (completed 40/40 levels, gained 82/120 stars, and earned 1942920 total points), Death Star (completed 40/40 levels, gained 58/120 stars, and earned 2602720 total points), Hoth (completed 40/40 levels, gained 52/120 stars, and earned 2595975 total points), Cloud City (completed 20/20 levels, gained 26/60 stars, and earned 1605110 total points), Boba Fett Missions (completed 10/10 levels, gained 19/30 stars, and earned 960275 total points), Path of the Jedi (completed 40/40 levels, gained 58/120 stars, and earned 2590420 total points) & Exclusive Levels (completed 13/20 levels, gained 23/60 stars, and earned 1152155 total points). James is really starting to get the hang of it and we are improving. Usually we get between 1-2 stars on each level, but we have been nailing some 3 star levels every so often. We’ve started to go back a bit and upgrade previous levels, but for the most part we’re still plugging along through the game. Definitely more to come on this front!!

8) As for a solo adventure, I’ve decided to take on yet another Lego game as I have so many of them left, this one being Lego: Lord of the Rings!! So far I’ve just been able to play and complete the opening level of the game, which was called “Prologue”. Along the way I earned True Adventurer status, found 1 Minikit piece, unlocked the Elendil and Isildur characters, and earned 2 Gold Bricks (for the level completion and status achievement).

9) Finally, the last new game we started is SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge!! We were both quite excited about this one too, and I really like it so far. I thought it was going to be another party game, like the Lights, Camera, Pants! title we played not that long ago. But this one is more of a level by level, using weapons to blast enemies and getting in to all sort of mischief classic type of game. The story is that a ship passing by overtop Bikini Bottom has an accident, dumping a bunch of batteries in to the sea. Using this tech to his advantage, Plankton has Karen help him build a robotic army in order to finally wrangle the Krabby Patty formula away from Mr. Krabs! You are tasked with choosing between SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, Mr. Krabs, or Squidward, and taking them in to action to stop this new threat. The first chapter of the game is called “Dutchman’s Triangle”, and so far we’ve completed the first three levels of it, which include “Shipwreck Reef”, “Dutchman’s Hollow” & “The Bone Yard”. Along the way I fully upgraded my default Pickle Blaster, and unlocked the Tartar Gun, Neptuner Fork, Pie Launcher and Condiment Cannon. James is a little bit behind in the upgrading department, but he’ll get there. Online reviews for this game seem to suck, but most of the people dishing on this title seem to be pig headed fools! So far this game has been a heap of fun.

“NNGRR” - The weekend after my last blog I finally got around to watching Pacific Rim, which I purchased with some of my Christmas gift cards! And man, this thing blew me away. I knew it was going to be awesome, but not this awesome. In the year 2013 a gateway to an alien dimension opens up under the Pacific Ocean, releasing massive alien creatures that become known as Kaiju. The massive beasts wreak havoc all over humanity and it’s pretty much a massacre. However, the tide of the war turns when nation’s pool their resources and build massive robots known as Jaegers, which are piloted by a pair of humans telepathically linked to each other in order to control the behemoths in perfect harmony. One such pilot goes by the name of Raleigh Becket, in the earliest days of the Jaeger resistance he teamed with his brother Yancy to pilot a Jaeger dubbed “Gipsy Danger”. After a battle that sees Yancy ripped out of Gipsy Danger’s control room and sent to oblivion, Raleigh calls it quits. For five years he dabbles in construction, but he is finally convinced to return to action by his former commander, Stacker Pentecost. For the Jaeger program has been deemed no longer effective by the higher ups and is being scrapped. But Stacker is heading up a resistance movement in Hong Kong that still has a small handful of Jaegers at it’s disposal, and they have a plan to end the threat of the Kaiju once and for all. After training at the facility in Hong Kong for a short while in order to get ready for any upcoming missions, Raleigh finds that he has noticeable chemistry with Mako, a cute young female who has been under Stacker’s wing since he rescued her as a child. Stacker doesn’t allow them to partner at first, but as the regularity of the Kaiju attacks increase, as does their size and lethality, he is forced to concede. Will the last surviving teams of Jaegers manage to penetrate the ocean floor and destroy the portal to this alien dimension, or is this the end of humanity as we know it? This movie had it all, a great (although mostly unknown to me) cast which featured two of my favourites in Charlie Day and Ron Perlman, an awesome story, and brilliant effects. The action in this film is friggin’ amazing. I heard a sequel was being planned, I can only hope that’s true . . .

The following weekend I watched a whole bunch of stuff. First up was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movie, from 1990!! This thing is still hilarious all these years later, I remember going to the theater when it first came out back in the day. When an unflagging crime spree kicks off in New York City, a crime spree that sees wallets lifted from pockets and delivery trucks cleaned out even as they’re being unloaded, it is up to ace field reporter April O’Neil to try and get at the heart of the matter. When she airs rumours that a mysterious organization known as The Foot Clan might be behind said spree, April quickly finds out she is correct when she is attacked by some of their cronies in an alley after work one night. Rescuing her from these Foot Soldiers is a mysterious gang of strangers who she eventually meets when one of them has to rescue her from yet another attack, this time in the subway system. April thinks she is dreaming when she wakes up and realizes she’s talking to a humanoid rat creature! But when she listens to their story April realizes these creatures are for real. The rat, known as Master Splinter, was a pet of his former master Hamato Yoshi, back in Japan. When his master’s rival, Oroku Saki, slew Hamato Yoshi over the love of a woman, Splinter fled to New York City and lived in the sewers. One day he found four baby turtles flailing about in a sticky ooze, taking them on as he would his own sons. Soon after he realized that the ooze must have had some strange properties, as both he and the turtles began to mutate and take on more human characteristics! As the turtles grew he taught them his former master’s art of the ninja, and named them after his four favourite renaissance painters . . . Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael. Back to the present, one night after the boys pay April a visit though, they arrive home to the sewers and find Splinter missing and their lair trashed, for one of the Foot Soldiers had tracked Raphael to their lair back when he rescued April. As the group decides on what move to make next Raphael gets in an argument with Leonardo and heads up to the rooftops to blow off some steam . . . where he runs in to a legion of Foot Soldiers and takes a real licking! Surviving the battle with help from Raph’s new friend, Casey Jones, the six of them then head to April’s farmhouse for rest and recovery. Once Raphael is finally back on his feet it’s go time. The fearsome foursome and their comrades learn of Splinter’s whereabouts and proceed with a plan to free him. However, they are in for a surprise when they find out that Splinter’s mortal enemy, Oroku Saki, who now goes by the name of The Shredder, is the one at the head of this Foot Clan. Has Splinter trained his sons well enough to win a battle with this fiend though? Gotta watch to find out! This is one of my all-time favourite films, it was such a great movie when it came out and just amped up my TMNT fever at the time it was released. I really was (and still am) in to those turtles. So cool.

That same weekend we went to the movies and saw The Nut Job, which everybody enjoyed. This animated film takes place back in the 1950’s or 60’s I’d say, and focuses on a squirrel named Surly, who lives in a park in the middle of a large city named Oakton. Surly is a loner and doesn’t socialize much with the rest of the forest’s creatures, who are led by Raccoon. It is a particularly tough year for the park, food stores are at an all-time low and winter is on it’s way. After Surly accidentally destroys said stores in an accident raiding a nut cart, the situation becomes even more dire and he is banished from the park! Coming with him on his journey in to the city is his best friend, Buddy the rat. The two have some wild adventures together before hitting the jackpot . . . a store that sells nuts! However, the store is just a front for a criminal gang that is actually digging under the street in order to get at the city’s bank vault. Their plan is to replace the bags of loot with bags of nuts, delaying the authorities long enough to escape with their riches. However, they weren’t prepared for a daring squirrel who plans on taking all of their nuts for himself. When Andie, a female squirrel from Surly’s old park shows up and wants to take some of the nuts back to the park, Surly has to wage a battle on two fronts. However, Surly perseveres, eventually learning that Raccoon has always had it in for him and has in fact betrayed members of his own following. Andie doesn’t believe Surly, but on the day of the gang’s bank heist, when all hell breaks loose, the nuts hit the fan and all is revealed! This was a really solid movie, I like the premise of it, found it to be pretty original. The voice talent was pretty great too, with Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph and Katherine Heigl involved. One of my favourite parts was during the credits when an animated Psy showed up and did Gangnam Style with the movie’s character, pretty hilarious!! This film was made in part by a South Korean outfit, hence the Psy. And I hear there will be a sequel . . .

Next I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze! This film pretty much picks up where the last one left off, with the Turtles riding high thinking they rid the world of The Shredder. While temporarily living with April as they search for a new home, the foursome come in to contact with a pizza delivery boy named Keno, who is versed in the martial arts as well. In the meantime Splinter sees a report April is doing on television, covering the industrial cleanup sponsored by a company named TGRI. When the boys return Splinter launches in to their origins story again, only this time he shows them the canister the ooze that mutated them came from . . . and it bears the TGRI logo! The fearsome foursome head to TGRI to check things out, realizing too late that the Foot have already been there and stolen the last, undisposed of canister of ooze, and kidnapped the lead scientist on the project, Jordan Perry. With no leads to go on the team starts searching the sewers for a new home, but Raph becomes frustrated at doing nothing and hatches a plan with Keno, to have him become a Foot Soldier and infiltrate their ranks. Meanwhile, at Shredder’s junkyard base camp (for yes, he somehow survived the plunge in to the garbage truck in the first movie!) he forces Perry to use the ooze on a couple of wild animals, mutating a wolf and snapping turtle in to crazed creatures named Rahzar and Tokka. However, they were baby animals so although their brute strength is much to be desired, their smarts are lacking to say the least! In Keno’s attempt to infiltrate the Foot Raphael gets captured, but Keno escapes and tells the rest of the gang where Shredder’s hideout is. They go immediately and a short battle is waged. The Turtles are outnumbered but they manage to escape the junkyard down a manhole, rescuing both Raph and Perry in the process. When they get back to their newly found former subway station home, Donny and Perry begin working on an antidote that will reverse Rahzar and Tokka’s mutation. As it is being finished Shredder lets his mutants loose on the city, baiting the Turtles in to a confrontation . . . and they oblige! The fight against the Foot eventually spills in to a night club featuring an artist of the day known as Vanilla Ice, and the party goers think the fighting is all part of the show! After dealing with Rahzar and Tokka the four brothers focus on taking down the big guy. However, Shredder has them over a barrel when he uses the threat of a small vial of leftover ooze against an innocent bystander. Using the musical equipment to their advantage the Turtles turn the tide of the stalemate in their favour, but in the process the ooze spills on Shredder and turns him in to . . . Super Shredder!!! Can the brothers survive another fight with this fiend . . . who has been jacked up on steroids this time around!? This was a great follow up movie, lots of action, some great set pieces and creatures, and of course lots of pizza and joking around! It fits right in to the whole TMNT universe just splendidly. I like the new April O’Neil while at the same time I was disappointed, as I liked the first one a lot too. First world problems, I suppose! The only thing I didn’t like was the absence of Casey Jones, as I highly enjoyed his character in the first film. Other than that it’s a great watch!

During that following week I found the Hangover III DVD for cheap, so I picked it up and gave it a watch. It’s not nearly as funny as the first two, probably because the whole “hangover” element is not present, but still worth the watch as these guys are hilarious. It begins with Alan’s family in a state of turmoil. Alan is off his meds and he causes an incident when he buys a giraffe and accidentally kills it while driving home on the highway, causing a massive accident! During an argument with Alan his father is so worked up he has a heart attack and dies. As a result Doug and his friends stage an intervention for Alan, attempting to send him to a facility in Arizona that can offer him help. Alan agrees as long as the boys are going on the road trip with him, but before they reach their destination they are run off the road by a large man named Marshall. He is the employer of black Doug, who sold Alan roofies by accident in the first film. During that original night in Vegas Chow ripped Marshall off for $21 million dollars’ worth of gold bars, and Marshall has found out that the only person Chow has been corresponding with from prison (he just recently broke out) is Alan. Marshall kidnaps Doug on a threat to kill him, tasking Alan, Phil and Stu with tracking Chow down and delivering both him and his gold. The threesome soon meet up with Chow in Tijuana, and after an initial misunderstanding they plan a raid on one of Chow’s former properties in Mexico, where he supposedly stashed the gold. However, his plan is a double cross and it is actually Marshall’s house they raid, stealing his original haul of gold, not Chow’s portion like he told them it was! The search for Chow is then on, and it brings the Wolf Pack back to the original scene of their misadventures . . . Las Vegas. But do they have the wherewithal to track down the high flying Chow and deliver on Marshall’s two day deadline? They haven’t disappointed yet!! This movie was pretty funny, again not as funny as the first two, which I think is due to the fact that they’re not hung over and aren’t piecing their misadventures together through various clues and foggy memories. But there is a good deal of laughs involved, Alan’s interactions with Melissa McCarthy’s character are pretty funny, and there is lots of stupid action throughout as usual. At the end there is a Hangover worthy surprise that leaves the door open for another one, although this one is supposed to be the capper. We’ll see in time I suppose . . .

The following night I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time! To kick things off April O’Neil is set to head out of town on vacation, but before doing so she brings Splinter and his Turtles some parting gifts. The gift for Splinter in particular is intriguing, it looks like some sort of ancient staff. Before she can give it to him though, the staff activates, causing a scene full of wind and lightning, eventually it transports her back in time to feudal Japan! Taking her place is a young man named Kenshin, transported ahead in time as he was in possession of the same staff back in the 1600s. Splinter and the Turtles talk to Kenshin and find out what his situation is, quickly deciding they have to use the staff to go back in time and rescue April. In doing so four of Kenshin’s bodyguards are set loose upon New York, April and Splinter call Casey Jones in to “babysit” them. Meanwhile, in ancient Japan the Turtles have run in to a heap of trouble. For Kenshin’s father, Lord Norinaga, is bent on war and has contracted an Englishman named Walker to supply him with weapons . . . weapons that go boom!! Landing right in the middle of this fiasco the Turtles manage to infiltrate Norinaga’s castle and rescue April, inadvertently hooking up with the resistance against Norinaga in the process. The Turtles are happy to help defend the innocent people of the rebellion, but with Walker adding muscle to Norinaga’s forces, a mysterious character named Whit playing both sides, and an estimated window of 60 hours in which they need to get back to their own time before catastrophic failure commences, it will be a tall task indeed. But they’ve got Turtle Power, baby!! This was an entertaining flick, but not nearly as good as the first two films, I much prefer the streets of New York as the setting of choice for Turtles stories. And lacking a really good villain like Shredder hurt it a bit too. I loved the fact that Casey Jones was back in the cast, and also that he entertained Kenshin and his mates with televised hockey and video games!! It always works for me. Now we just need this newest live action TMNT movie to come out!!

After all of these viewings I finally managed to finish the latest book I’ve been reading, which happened to be Star Wars: Scoundrels! This story takes place not long after the destruction of the first Death Star, and features a few of our favourite scruffy looking nerf herders. With Han & Chewbacca losing the reward they gained from the Rebel Alliance for their role in the destruction of said Death Star to some pirates, they are hitting the cantina circuit hard looking for a big job that can help get them out from under Jabba’s fat thumb. Opportunity seems to knock when a mysterious stranger named Eanjer approaches them for a job. A Black Sun sector chief named Villachor, who resides on the world of Wukkar, has apparently ripped him off for about 163 million credits. With that much cash on the line Han succumbs to temptation and assembles a team of like-minded beings who he thinks can help him pull it off. Entering the fray are Bink & Tavia Kitik, Dozer Creed, Zerba Cher’dak, Rachele Ree, a couple of Rebels named Kell Tainer and Winter, and the oh so splendid Lando Calrissian! The plan to crack a virtually impregnable safe is laid out, with the group using a massive festival Villachor is throwing to serve as a bit of a distraction. However, with a Black Sun Vigo named Qazadi on world to conduct some unsavoury business with Villachor, as well as a couple of Imperial Intelligence agents in the mix trying to expose these Black Sun criminals, the plan continually needs adjusting as unanticipated events unfold. But if there’s ever been a group of more resourceful scoundrels put together I don’t think I’ve seen it, do they have what it takes to complete the job for this mysterious stranger with the deck stacked against them? This was a great read, as someone described it online it’s an Ocean’s Eleven style heist caper, but within the Star Wars universe and starring some of it’s most loveable characters, not to mention some excellent newcomers! The book also includes a short story called Winner Lose All, which is a prequel to the main story and stars Lando, the Kitik sisters, and Zerba Cher’dak. Great read!!

Last weekend I finished watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown DVD compilation! This volume picks up from where the last two volumes I reviewed left off, comprising the final 13 episodes of season one (this is for the 2012 Nickelodeon series, to be exact). In this thrilling conclusion to the debut season of this fantastic cartoon we see a foe from the original series finally enter the fray, none other than the Rat King! There is a lot of other action that unfolds along the way, like a civilian impersonating the Turtles’ crime fighting styles and calling himself The Pulverizer, the unveiling of the Shellraiser, Fishface getting a new set of legs, a battle with Traag, a mutant Cockroach, more tomfoolery from Baxter Stockman, mutant wasps, April’s continued training with Splinter, and the temporary return of April’s father Kirby. The overarching storylines though are twofold. First, the Turtles’ and especially Leonardo’s developing relationship with Karai. And second, the various continued schemes of the Kraang to bring Earth to it’s knees. In this collection of episodes these two aspects finally intersect as Karai gains wind of the Kraang and their activities, asking for a truce with the Turtles in order to stop a mutual threat. However, Karai breaks the truce when the four brothers try and take out Shredder covertly during a weapons heist, meaning the fearsome foursome are back to fighting battles on a number of different fronts. The season ends with a bang when the Kraang hatch a plan to bring the Technodrome through from Dimension X, while Splinter faces Shredder in combat . . . along the way realizing that Karai is his long lost daughter. Dun dun dun!!!! This was an awesome set of episodes, and quite a conclusion to the first season. I’ve heard some people really don’t like this show but man I love it to death. So much action, lots of secrets, and lots of cool tech and mutants. Top it off with great animation and an amazing voice cast and this show is a real winner. Bravo, you’ve done it again Nickelodeon!!

I guess congratulations are in order for the Seattle Seahawks, who this past Sunday won Super Bowl 48 by a score of 43-8!! Back in the day when Peyton Manning first came in to the league I automatically became a Colts fan, as there was just something about him that I loved (I’m first and foremost a Bears fan, but they became my easy number two). So when he went to the Broncos after being released from the Colts I automatically became a Broncos fan, and I’ve always like Denver’s teams in the past too, so this was a great match for me personally. Thus I was big time hoping for a Denver win in the Super Bowl to cap off this magical season they had. The only thing that would have made it even better is if they had drawn Indianapolis along the way and throttled them, as that was a bush league move by Irsay this season with his comments towards Manning, arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game and the main reason they were competitive for a long time during his reign there. Needless to say I no longer like the Colts, in fact it’s quite the opposite. But when I turned the game on over halfway through the first quarter I found that things weren’t going well for Peyton and his Broncos. They weren’t executing well, and on the opposite side of the ball it seemed as though Seattle certainly were. As for the Seahawks, they are a team that I’ve always kind of been neutral towards. Although I did start to like them more this year as I got to experience the type of person Russell Wilson is. He just seems so normal, humble, and laid back . . . and given that he succeeds despite his more diminutive size (relatively, of course) it just makes you like him that much more! So although the Broncos lost, I can be glad it happened against a worthy team like Seattle and not a bunch of douche bags like the Packers or something. It wasn’t a great game to watch, what with the lopsided score and all, but at least it was two worthy teams going at it and a guy like Wilson earned a well-deserved honour. As for Peyton, I have a strong feeling he’ll come back with a vengeance, and barring any serious injuries will soon win a championship with that team in Denver. Can’t wait to see what happens next season!

A new year, a new philosophy . . . at least here on Gamespot!

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Well, it’s been a while but it’s high time I posted another blog! The reason for my tardiness is just how bloody busy we’ve been over the last month or so. I last blogged in the week leading up to Christmas, which is always a busy time for our family. On Christmas Eve we went to my parents’ house for dinner and presents, and then on Christmas morning it was just the three of us at home before we headed to Grimsby to do Christmas with my wife’s parents and other relatives in the afternoon. We also spent a night with our friends Johnny and Megan as we were in the area, before finishing our Hamilton region visits up by seeing a couple of mrs. darthcobain17’s cousins, one of which just had a baby. From there we drove up north, a little ways north of Toronto and east of Barrie, to a resort called “The Briars”. It’s a massive old estate that’s been converted to a resort, on the shore of Lake Simcoe in the town of Sutton. We did lots of winter activities like a sleigh ride, winter golf, tobogganing and tubing, and built a couple good snowmen as well. The food there is like 5 star dining, so we ate quite well, and also visited the indoor pool/hot tub/sauna. Once we got home we had dinner with my parents before they left on a trip, and just a day or two later headed to Burlington for New Years Eve, to spend it with some good friends (my buddy that has the cottage) that are back in Ontario after living in Halifax for a few years. We used to spend New Year’s with them all the time before they moved, so it was nice to get back in to the old routine, the kids had a blast! Throughout Christmas/New Years I had a few days off of course, but I had to work the rest of the time, so it was busy on all fronts for me . . . I kind of need a holiday from the holidays! As for the Leafs, they’ve been very up and down over the last month. They gained points in six straight games, then lost four straight . . . it’s kind of been a gong show! I continued to watch the 24/7 series, with the culmination coming when the Leafs and Red Wings played outdoors in front of 100,000+ fans in Ann Arbour Michigan, in the 2014 Winter Classic!

It was awesome. It took the teams the first period to kind of feel things out, with the very different conditions and what not. But after that it turned in to quite an exciting game, and the Leafs eventually took it 3-2 in a shootout. As for our actual new year, James’ holidays were extended by two days as schools were closed for the Monday and Tuesday school was supposed to start back up, due to the “Polar Vortex” which I’m sure many of you heard about or experienced. Minus 40 conditions and tons of snow was on the menu, but that wasn’t enough to stop us from playing outside when I had to stay home from work with him on one of those days! Honestly, I think they’re trying to make things a little too safe anymore, I remember how many snow days I had when I was young . . . a half a day, that’s it. Oh, well. Once James was finally back at school it was nice, as during the holidays he was up way too late every night, so getting a bit of routine back was key. My wife started a one year secondment on a new job she recently accepted, and as for me it’s the same old same old.

As for Gamespot, I’m making some changes. My life has just become way too busy anymore, between work, taking care of the house, dealing with my wife, playing with James and taking him to all his various activities . . . there’s just way too much on my plate. With the changes that have been made to the Gamespot website it’s kind of helped make this decision a little easier. I find I don’t socialize with my friends nearly as much (or at all, really) under this new format, not as many people read and comment on my stuff, and it’s just not as exciting and engaging as it was under the old Gamespot format. The changes I’m implementing are that I’m no longer going to do any game reviews (they’re way too time consuming, they don’t really get read, and they no longer count towards my Gamespot “Legacy”, that number hasn’t changed one digit since the new site was revealed), once I finish a game I’m just giving it a score and that’s the end of it. I’m also shortening up my blogs a bit. The book, movie, TV show reviews will all still be there, but for the coverage of the video games I’m playing I’m going to be shortening that up quite a bit. I used to go in to great detail with each game and the progress I made on them, but now I’m just going to be doing more of a general overview without all the gory details. And these changes start . . . NOW!! Here is what I’ve gotten done over the last month . . .

1) On NHL ’02 I was just able to play the opening game of my Stanley Cup final series, the result was as such: won vs. Colorado 15-8.

2) As for Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7, lots of progress was made there! I began by beating level two, called “Magic is Might”, earning True Wizard status along the way, unlocking the Ron (Reg Cattermole) character, and earning 2 Gold Bricks (for the level completion and status achievement). Next I completed the “In Grave Danger” level, earning True Wizard status, finding 1 Crest Piece, and earning 2 Gold Bricks (completion and status). Next up was the “Sword and Locket” level, where I earned True Wizard status, found 2 Crest Pieces, unlocked the Ron (Underwear) and Hermione (Grey Coat) characters, and earned 2 Gold Bricks (completion and status) in the process. The last level I finished was “Lovegood’s Lunacy”, during said level I earned True Wizard status, found 2 Crest Pieces, helped 1 Student in Peril, unlocked the Luna (Purple Coat) character, and earned 3 Gold Bricks (completion, status, and student). In between these levels I did the usual exploration of the game hub, this time around we did a lot of apparating, to the streets of London, the diner that the Death Eaters attacked us in, the Ministry of Magic, in between our various campsites out in the wilderness as we searched for Voldemort’s horcruxes, Harry’s parent’s home village, and then the Lovegoods’ house. During all of this action I unlocked the Rufus Scrimgeour, Petunia (Green Coat), Petunia Dursley, Vernon Dursley, Waitress (Luchino), Dudley Dursley, Fleur Delacour, Percy Weasley, Reg Cattermole, Hermione (Ministry), Xenophilius (Wedding) & Xenophilius Lovegood characters, helped 2 Students in Peril, and found 1 Red Brick.

3) Just one more series was completed in my season on MLB 2K11, a homestand against the Kansas City Royals. The games played out as such: won vs. Kansas City 5-0, won vs. Kansas City 8-3 & won vs. Kansas City 3-1.

4) The next three levels are complete on Transformers: Prime! Starting with level ten this time around, the ones I beat were “Dangerous Vantage” (found 1/1 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an S ranking), “Retribution” (found 1/1 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an A ranking) & “One Shall Fall” (found 1/1 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an S ranking).

5) Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2 is almost kaputs, James and I made some great progress there (plus we’ve been watching their new cartoon on YTV every Saturday morning!). The final trip we had to take was to “Tropics”. The mini-games it contained were “Snail Race”, “Trash Race”, “Dizzy Race”, “TNT”, “Hot Cake” & “Teenager in Love”. We completed them all and unlocked a new costume for Rayman as well as a new Shooting Game in the process. Afterwards we played said Shooting Game, which was called “Paris, Pour Toujours”. This was a continuation from one of the earlier Shooting Games that saw us defending a Rabbid invasion in Paris. In this one we exited the theatre where we previously engaged the chef Rabbid, moving through the streets and eventually taking him down. For our win we unlocked a new costume.

6) Major progress was made on Lego: Battles, but I had to change my course of action a wee bit. I previously got stuck on a level under the “King Story”, so instead I went and began the “Pirate Story”! First up was “Act 1”, which contained five levels. I completed all of them, which included “Put to Sea”, “Outpost Offensive”, “Hostile Waters”, “Rebuildin’” & “Shipwrecked”. In each of these levels I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, found the Minikit, and obtained the Red Brick in level four. For my progress I unlocked the Islander character as well as the Imperial Story. I then began “Act 2” of this story, finishing the first two levels, which were “Hidden Treasure” & “Safeguard”. In each of these levels I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs and found the Minikit.

7) As for Star Wars: Lethal Alliance, I’ve managed to complete just one more level as it’s starting to get a bit tricky with the various puzzles and bosses. Rianna began the level by being offered another job by Princess Leia and Kyle Katarn, to further help their efforts at destabilizing the Empire. Plans to construct an Imperial super weapon were tracked to an agricultural ship that was making runs to Alderaan. Zeeo and I traveled to Alderaan and nosed around a bit, in the end beating a boss named Slak Sagar. Afterwards we reported back to Leia that they were shipping some sort of organic drug to Mustafar, which they surmised would help increase production of Malkanite Alloy, used heavily in turbolaser production. Interesting, no?

“NNGRR” - Not long after my last regular blog I finished reading Inferno, by Dan Brown. This is the author that wrote Angels & Demons and the Da Vinci Code, and stars the same main character, Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon. When Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence, Italy with an apparent gunshot wound to the head and no memory of the previous days’ events, it’s just another day at the office! Trying to help Langdon recover from his trauma is an attractive blond doctor named Sienna Brooks. However, when an assassin shows up and attempts to finish the job, Dr. Brooks soon turns in to Langdon’s saviour in a desperate escape plan instead! Back at Sienna’s apartment after their flight they discover something sewn inside of Langdon’s jacket, an electronic projector device that displays a manipulated version of the painting depicting Dante’s seven layers of hell, from his combined works that include the most famous Dante’s Inferno. This altered image of Dante’s seven layers of hell lead the two on a wild goose chase as they attempt to stop what they think to be a catastrophic plan by billionaire geneticist Bertrand Zobrist to curb the world’s overpopulation problem. As the pair race all over Florence and then on to even further destinations they must be wary of involvement from local authorities, the World Health Organization, and a mysterious organization known only as The Consortium. With many twists and surprises along the way Langdon doesn’t know who he can trust in the end, will his efforts be enough to prevent the crisis from happening? This book was a great read, what I like about Dan Brown’s novels is he mixes in so much intrigue to his stories that he makes the subject matter seem so interesting . . . you can’t help but enjoy it and want to learn more about the people and places he’s writing about! I’ve always heard Dante and his Inferno referenced but never known much about him, now I feel more compelled to check it out. Although this was a great book it wasn’t quite as good as Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, as although it had as much intrigue and suspense, the mystical sense of mystery wasn’t quite as high. Still an awesome story though!!

Late last week I finished watching the second volume of Jayce & the Wheeled Warriors on DVD!! This second volume contains the last 33 episodes of the series, picking up with a story arc that unfolded over quite a number of shows. Jayce and the other members of his Lightning League were after a powerful artifact called The Liberty Stone, which they believed would lead them to Jayce’s father Audric, so he and Jayce could then unite the roots each of them carries around their necks and finally destroy Saw Boss and his evil Monster Minds! However, a sorcerer rival to Gillian cock blocks their many attempts to gain the stone, and combined with interference from the Monster Minds their plan never comes to fruition. Jayce and his charges then resume following Audric’s trail through the universe, hopping from planet to planet and feeling like they’re getting ever closer to finding him. They even go back in time and talk to Audric when he was a youngster, before the ill-fated experiment that created the Monster Minds even happened! As they forge ahead they visit many planets and gain many allies, but the series eventually ends abruptly with no closure . . . so the ending is wide open to you, the loyal viewer! The no closure aspect is the only element of this cartoon that I don’t like, I quite prefer when things are at least partially tied off when a series closes. But other than that this is easily one of my favourite cartoons of the 1980’s, not many people know of it and it is highly underrated. So awesome!

Last weekend I finished reading book four of the Septimus Heap series, called Queste. It starts off by following the life of the evil wizard DomDaniel’s former apprentice, Merrin Meredith (the boy who used to think he was Septimus Heap). Merrin is now working for the slightly less evil Simon Heap, but in a plan to trick his master Merrin soon escapes and heads back to the castle. Once at the castle Merrin finds a place to live and hide, and gets a job at the Manuscriptorium. His plan is a simple one, bring down the real Septimus Heap, the boy who in his opinion ruined Merrin’s life! To do so he enlists the aid of a ghost named Tertius Fume, a former ExtraOrdinary Wizard from many, many years ago. Once an agreement has been made Tertius Fume attempts to doom Septimus by sending him on the fearsome Queste, a potential trial for every ExtraOrdinary Wizard’s apprentice, which usually only comes along at the end of an apprenticeship, not the beginning. Trying to escape his fate, Septimus, his sister Jenna, and his best friend Beetle escape to the forest and head out on a mission to rescue Nicko Heap and Snorri Snorrelson from the ancient time they got trapped in at the end of the last story. Little do the threesome know that Septimus’ Queste and the mission to save his brother eventually lead them to the same destination, the House of Foryx, where all times meet. Having survived the many trials just to get there though, do they have enough left in them to brave what they will find inside? What can I say about this book other than it was another great addition to this series that just keeps the magic and suspense speeding along! Just a few more volumes to go . . .

Also last weekend I watched the original Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger!! This film takes place in the future (2084 to be exact), when space travel is old hat and the other planets of the solar system have all been colonized and inhabited by humankind. Back on Earth a construction worker named Douglas Quaid has dreams of a bigger, more exciting life . . . at the heart of his longing is a great desire to go to Mars! However, Mars is in a state of civil war with the mutant population rising up against the local government, who are terrorizing them with their monopoly over the planet’s precious air supply. After being talked down by his wife, Lori, Douglas opts to go to a place called Rekall, a medical office where memories of a fantastic vacation are inserted directly in to your brain, memories that your mind can’t distinguish as being fake. Everything about the Rekall experience is guaranteed 100% authentic. But when Douglas wakes up from his Rekall experience, after being chased by a bunch of thugs working for the government and also being attacked by his wife, who he finds out has just been a plant in order to keep tabs on him, Douglas learns his true identity is Hauser, and he is somehow involved in the uprising on Mars! Slipping his attackers and heading off to Mars, Douglas/Hauser searches out the resistance and meets with it’s leader, Kuato. A desperate plan is then hatched to take down the government and free the people of Mars, but in the end did all of this action really unfold, or is it all just part of Douglas’ Rekall experience? Who knows!? This is a great movie. First of all, it has a great cast. Arnold is one, if not the best, action hero of all time and his role in this film was fantastic. Add a young and super sexy Sharon Stone to the mix and that’s an amazing one-two punch. The concept of the movie was amazing as well, it really gets you thinking and trying to figure out what is actually going on. And then of course the special effects were outstanding, one of the most lauded aspects of this movie at the time. Total Recall is an essential for any science fiction/action fans out there!

It was going to be a white Christmas, and then not so much . . . but it's finally white again!!

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That special time is upon us for yet another year, the magical Christmas season!! I don’t like Christmas nearly as much anymore as when I was a kid, but now that James is six and he’s really starting to get excited it’s back to being as good as it used to be. He has been totally berserk for that past month really, with the last week or so going in to overdrive. I think he may give himself a heart attack he’s so worked up, thank the maker that Christmas Eve is finally here! And we have snow now too, which is nice. We had a ton of it since late November but then there was a big freezing rain/ice storm last weekend that pretty much melted it all, but last night it snowed pretty good and we’re back to normal, hopefully to stay.

Tonight we go to my parents’ for Christmas Eve dinner and presents, and then tomorrow we are home for the big morning. In the afternoon we’ll see my wife’s parents and then finally the madness should all be over and James can begin his come down. This year we got him lots of little stuff, like Planes toys, the Planes movie, BeyBlades, Pokemon cards, cartridges for his LeapPad, more Cars toys, etc. He’s going to be super excited. As for me, I sent my list out back in November . . . but you never can tell just what I’m gonna get!!

As usual, what I would like to see under the tree and addressed to me is a little bit of sexy sweetness . . . maybe something like . . . this!!

Christmas is a time for dreaming after all. Everybody have a good one!!!

I think the Devil also put women here, to be quite honest . . .

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The last couple weeks have been wild, things just keep on getting busier as we get closer to Christmas!! And of course James is through the roof right now, he’s edited his Christmas list and added to it about 100 times! Anyways, the weekend after my last blog we hosted our friends who have the four kids for our annual Christmas brunch, which was delicious, and the kids all got to play together and exchange presents, a great time was had by all. That night friends of ours from Hamilton were supposed to come down and the girls were going to do a “craft night” while the boys got drunk and watched the hockey game. Unfortunately our friend Megan got sick and so they couldn’t come, so we went out for dinner as originally planned, at the Dancing Greek, with the same friends we had brunch with earlier in the day. The kids stayed back at their house with the babysitter and watched movies, etc. Afterwards we went home and I got buzzed by myself and watched the game! On the Sunday I had to mop and vacuum about a dozen times as the wife decided to make Christmas wreaths that were ultra-heavy on the glitter. Fuck me! As for last weekend, it was a busy one as well. On the Saturday James had a birthday party (a bowling party) in the afternoon, and then that night we had the annual Christmas party at my parents’ house with cousins and family friends. There was a lot of food and booze, and of course the kids provided a lot of entertainment! Too bad we can’t post videos on here anymore cause I got a real funny one. The next day mrs. darthcobain17 went in to work as she is taking a year’s secondment to fill a maternity leave in another department at the university, so she had some last minute work to do and clean out her office, etc. James and I stayed home and built a snow fort in the front yard (pics to come), then went over to the neighbours’ house and played some hockey on their backyard rink. We also played some video games, had some snacks, and in general just had a pretty fun day at home. And of course it’s been busy with James’ Beavers nights (they actually went bowling last week, hilarious!), the Leafs playing a lot, and the general busyness of the season. This year the Winter Classic outdoor hockey game is in Detroit and features my Maple Leafs taking on the Red Wings! And what comes with the Winter Classic?

The HBO special 24/7, which chronicles the two teams in the final weeks before they head in to this wonderful game. The show premiered this past Sunday and it was awesome, it’s amazing to get a look behind the scenes at my favourite team in the world. Can’t wait for this Sunday’s episode! Anyhoo, throughout all this craziness here is what I managed to get accomplished . . .

1) On NHL ’02 I managed to sweep my conference finals series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the results were as such: won vs. Philadelphia 16-5, won vs. Philadelphia 12-3, won @ Philadelphia 11-3 & won @ Philadelphia 11-3. In the other conference final the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars four games to two, meaning I’ll be taking on the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup final! All too easy . . .

2) More good progress was made on Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7. Kicking things off this time around I explored the castle grounds, finding a Red Brick and unlocking the Professor Grubbly-Plan character, before moving in to the castle and going to Dumbledore’s office. We watched Professor Slughorn’s full memory and then apparated to a craggy island out in the sea, cuing up the sixth and final level of this chapter, called “The Horcrux and the Hand”. Inside a cavern within this craggy island we hopped across some small islands and scared away a spider that was blocking our way up a ledge. Once atop this ledge I lowered a staircase down from above that led us deeper within said cavern. Following a rocky path we eventually had to solve a puzzle and as our reward a paddleboat appeared, which we then took to a small spit of land within the lake that surrounded us. As Dumbledore drank the potion that protected the horcrux resting in the basin in the middle of this island, I had to fend off the lake zombies that were attacking us and trying to drag us back to the water with them! After gaining the horcrux we apparated back to the school, but soon after Malfoy and some Death Eaters appeared and confronted Dumbledore, with Snape eventually dealing him the killing blow. Meeting up with Ginny we raced around the castle grounds, putting out fires caused by the Death Eaters and eventually dueled Bellatrix Lestrange, before the Death Eaters retreated. In the process the revelation was made that Snape was the Half-Blood Prince. During this level I earned True Wizard status, found 1 Crest Piece, and earned 2 Gold Bricks (for the level completion and the status achievement). Afterwards there were cutscenes of the aftereffects of Dumbledore’s death, and a plan to find the rest of the horcruxes began to take shape in Harry’s mind. Thus began the next chapter of the game, “Deathly Hallows pt. 1”! I began by exploring Diagon Alley and then the Leaky Cauldron, purchasing 3 Gold Bricks and the last Red Brick I found, which contained the Fast Dig extra. Once finished a cutscene played of the Dursleys furiously exiting Privet Drive, to escape all the craziness going on in London. Some members of the Order of the Phoenix then showed up, and the first level of this new chapter began, called “The Seven Harrys”. We began by exploring number 4, tidying up, straightening pictures, vacuuming, etc., and also checked out the backyard. Finding some ingredients in the process we then brewed a Polyjuice potion that turned six of the others in to replicas of Harry. They all set out as decoys while I remained with Hagrid. Before we could leave we had to explore the front yard at Privet Drive and figure out a way to fix his flying motorcycle, which he accidentally broke. After doing so we took off and were then pursued by the Death Eaters through the skies and streets of London town!! We eventually arrived safely at The Burrow and received a visit from someone who was close to Dumbledore. Afterwards we unlocked the Deluminator and Hermione’s Bag! The wedding then began for Fleur and Bill Weasley, but the Death Eaters soon crashed the party. We had to move through the tent where the reception was being held and defend ourselves against attack, apparating away to the streets of London just as Bellatrix popped out of a cake! During this level I earned True Wizard status, helped 1 Student in Peril, found 3 Crest Pieces, and earned 3 Gold Bricks (completion, status, and student). For apparating away to the streets of London we also unlocked Apparition. More to come!

3) I finally managed to knock down the second level on Goldeneye, it’s been a long time coming!! This level was called “Facility – Arkangelsk”, in said mission I went to the chemical weapons facility where our enemies were actually producing the agent they planned to use in their terror attacks. I began in the ductwork of this facility, following it for a short time I came to a bathroom, where I dropped down and took out a small force of soldiers who all seemed to need to use the facilities at the same time! Exiting the bathroom afterwards I explored the section of the facility I was in, which was an area with a few different corridors I could take. I played possum with the many guards in the area and took them all down without too much trouble, then unlocking a security door (after gaining a clearance level B card from a dead guard) and passing through to the laboratory area of the facility. Making my way deeper in to the labs I encountered many more soldiers and took them out, while leaving the scientists alone to flee the scene. During my explorations I ran in to an undercover scientist named Dr. Doak, who gave me a lock decoder so I could get in to the bottling room. I immediately made my way there and entered, taking out just the couple guards who were on duty. After planting some remote mines on the bottles I encountered agent 006!! We had a brief discussion before a heavy force discovered our whereabouts and entered the room. But I used my remote detonator to blow the mines, destroying this part of their operation, and then headed out a nearby door, ending the level. This level took me 14:16 to complete and my accuracy was 81.2%. I don’t believe I posted these stats from when I beat the first level, but on that one it took me 25:39 to complete and my accuracy was 87.3%. I really seemed to be getting better at this game in recent days, so hopefully the next level won’t take me as long to complete!

4) The next series of my season on MLB 2K11 is now in the books, it went down as such: won @ Minnesota 12-1, won @ Minnesota 8-5 & won @ Minnesota 8-2. The Twins are now seeing double, a yuck yuck!!

5) As for Cars, the next trio of mini-games I unlocked began with Doc, his mini-game being called “Willys Butte”. Doc challenged me (controlling Lightning) to take on Mater in a backwards driving race around Willys Butte. So I then had to take down the wily pickup truck in five rounds of racing, avoiding the obstacles on the course and making sure to stay ahead of Mater. Next came Ramone, his mini-game being “Hydraulic Jump Jam”. In an attempt to show off his hydraulics to Lightning, I had to take control of Ramone and time the jumps he was making on his hydraulics so that he soared as high as possible! My goal was to achieve a certain target amount of total height within the time limits given, spread over four rounds. Finally came Sally, her mini-gamed titled “The Drive-In”. On a date with Sally I had to take control of Lightning and head to the concessions stand to get some snacks before the show started . . . but the traffic was gridlocked! I had to navigate five rounds of puzzle solving as I moved vehicles around and made my way through the mess. For beating these last three mini-games I unlocked the fourth and final Piston Cup race, a 12 lap affair for all the marbles, representing the end of Lightning’s racing season! Unfortunately I could not beat Chick in this race, the last four laps keep proving troublesome and prevent me from completing the game. So I guess that’s it, Cars is kaputs for me, review forthcoming! The game was somewhat underwhelming, to tell the truth.

6) Next up on Transformers: Prime was the seventh level, called “Into Ruin”. It began with Optimus Prime spying on Megatron as Megs was in the process of recovering a section of Thunderwing’s innards from the wreckage of the asteroid. Bulkhead was with Prime but Starscream soon showed up and the two of them took off with one another to engage in yet another scrap. Afterwards Optimus confronted Megatron and demanded he give the children back to the Autobots. We then clashed in another epic battle and after whittling down his energy I lost track of him after throwing him through a stone wall! I then got in touch with Bulkhead, who said he was inside of some nearby temple. I took off through the ruins I found myself in, battling various Vehicons along the way, before a bridge collapsed beneath me and slowed my progress some. I continued on though, battling more Cons and jumping more faulty bridges, before reaching the entrance to the temple Bulkhead was in. However, soon afterwards Megatron showed up and blasted the place, making all sorts of rubble rain down on Optimus. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an S ranking. Eighth came the “The Escape” level. To start it off Megatron returns to the Nemesis with the scavenged piece of Thunderwing, telling Ratchet to go ahead and fix the behemoth. But soon after Bulkhead bridged through with Starscream as his captive, which caused quite a ruckus on board! In the aftermath Ratchet escaped and I began barreling down the corridors of the Nemesis, trying to contact Bulkhead in the process. Avoiding security measures I eventually arrived at a central chamber where I had to do battle with some Vehicons, finding out that Raf and Miko were held captive in some nearby cells. Heading back out in to the ship’s corridors I explored more rooms and battled more Cons, eventually crossing some suspended platforms in the chamber where Thunderwing was being stored. Finally reaching the kids I whisked them away and we came across a large freight elevator, beginning our ascent. The Cons soon found our location and sent ranks of Vehicons to stop us, even targeting the lifts generators in an effort to maroon us. I destroyed them all though and we finished our ride, ending up in a large computer room. Soundwave was within this chamber and had been monitoring us the whole time . . . and unfortunately he was protected by a force shield. With some hacking help from Raf I destroyed the generators issuing this force shield and then engaged Soundwave in a battle, eventually coming out the victor. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an S ranking. Afterwards I redid the fourth level (Captured!) as I’d only been able to get a B ranking on it previously. I finally managed to upgrade it to an A ranking! The final level I’ve managed to get at was the ninth, called “The Spider’s Web”. In it Bumblebee and Arcee bridged to the Nemesis as well, soon splitting up to look for Ratchet and the kids. Controlling Arcee I got caught by Arachnid and taken to the outside deck of the ship, where I simply partook in a drawn out boss fight against Arachnid, eventually taking her down despite interference from her Insecticons. During this level I found 1/1 Cybertron Artifact and earned an A ranking. More to come on this one as well, can’t wait!

7) James and I played some more on Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2, the game is hilarious! And we’ve since found out they have a new TV show too, brilliant!! The third trip we decided to take was to “Europe”. The mini-games it contained were “Snake Charmer” (in a subway station had to match the notes on screen to play our flutes, charming the snakes in our baskets, I won with 8827 points), “Little Chemist” (in a Dr. Frankenstein type setting we had to check the bottles of potions on the shelves above us, making sure they matched our ingredients list, then use them on our rabbid test subjects, I won with 1500 points), “Burgerinni” (again on a rooftop restaurant we had to bring plates of sandwiches to a hungry diner, not letting them spill, I won with 4355 points), “Bike Race” (playing together as a team James pedalled our trike while I steered it and threw water bottles at our competitors, but we lost, coming in second place), “Burp” (here we engaged each other in a rooftop burping contest, by shaking up a bottle of pop and then chugging it, I won with 8352 points) & “Satisfaction” (another musical performance where we matched on screen notes, performing a Rolling Stones classic in a roadhouse bar, I won with 8972 points). During all of this action we unlocked a new costume, a new costume for Rayman, and of course a new Shooting Game! The new Shooting Game was called “Paris, Mon Amour”, in it the rabbids were invading the city of love! Our job was to move through the streets and blast said rabbids, eventually moving in to some large theatre where we battled the boss of the level, a rabbid chef. We didn’t beat him though, and the game said it was “to be continued”. We then embarked on our final trip of this blog period, to “Asia”. The mini-games this trip consisted of were “Spicy Chicken” (in an Asian market we had to eat spicy peppers and then use our hot breath to cook spicy chicken, I won with 7297 points), “The China House” (some rabbids were in a shop busting all the wares, we had to catch plates they were throwing at us on poles and keep them from breaking by spinning them, I won with 12714 points), “Laundry” (in a river we had to hand wash our clothes, whoever washed the most won, I triumphed with 5971 points), “The Office” (working in our cubicles at our job we goofed off at our desks, then went back to work when the boss entered, I won with 8591 points), “Rabbid School” (at our desks in school we threw paper balls at the teacher when he wasn’t looking, going back to normal when he turned around, I won with 4125 points) & “Smoke on the Water” (another musical jam at a roadhouse bar, we played the Deep Purple classic this time, I won with 10339 points). During all this action we unlocked a new costume, a new costume for Rayman, and a new Shooting Game. We also unlocked the last trip of the game! When we checked out the latest Shooting Game it was called “Year of the Rabbid”. In an Asian monastery setting we fended off the rampaging rabbids, soon moving through a restaurant before coming to some manner of outdoor temple. Then the bosses of the game, four alien like rabbids attacked, and we took them down. Not much further to go on this one methinks!

8) Unfortunately I’ve hit a bit of a snag on Lego: Battles! Picking up where I left off I began “Act 2” of the “King Story”, the first level there being “Old Allies”. The Evil Wizard was now apparently working with the trolls, so to help our own cause we decided to journey to the Dwarven Hall and recruit the Dwarves to our side. First I immediately headed to the Dwarven Hall but found out on arrival that the Dwarf King had been kidnapped by our enemies. So we began setting up our war machine right next to the Dwarves’ camp, soon after setting out and ravaging the land. Eventually we found the enemy encampment and destroyed everything in sight, freeing the king. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. The second level was called “War Machines”, in it the Dwarf engineers were helping us revive an old factory of ours that hadn’t been in use for some time. My job was to use this factory against the Northern troll stronghold. I began by immediately rushing to said factory and defended it against a small force of attackers. I then tasked our builders with setting up our war machine surrounding the factory, helping to fortify it. Once this was all in place I set out with our forces and searched out our enemy, first pillaging their defensive walls before destroying the rest of their towers and other structures, finally destroying two cauldrons to end the level. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. The problem I’ve run in to is how impossibly hard the third level is . . . I may have to search the interweb for some help on this one!!

9) The pace continues on Mega Man 9 at this point, as James and I were able to complete one more level. The baddie we beat this time around was “Concrete Man”! His level starts with Mega Man in the middle of a forest on top of a concrete dam. Moving along we had to fend off rock dropping birds and robotic sentries, before moving in to the dam and making our way up and down the corridors there, taking on more kinds of robotic sentries. Next up was a series of three large robotic elephants that kicked a giant ball at us and then used their trunks to suck Mega Man towards them! After figuring them out the rest of the level was fairly easy, moving through another interior area of the dam, avoiding chasms and destroying turrets, before coming to a series of rising and falling platforms. Once over the platforms we came to Concrete Man’s lair, once I got the hang of his rhythm he was toast. Upon beating him we acquired his weapon, the Cement Shot . . . but unfortunately it’s useless!! Can’t wait to see who falls next.

10) Since defeating Cars on the DS I began the next game on my list . . . Star Wars: Lethal Alliance!! This game follows the story of Twi’lek mercenary Rianna Saren, who was once a slave to the Empire and so has no love for them. When the Rebellion gets in touch with her about a mission to steal the top secret plans to the Death Star from them, naturally she is all ears! The game stars off on kind of an introduction level that gives you hints on a lot of the basic controls as you move along. I found myself on a Coruscant rooftop and began by making my way across the connecting pedways and rooftops, taking out the odd Stormtrooper along the way. The level ended when I reached a rooftop that featured a view of the Senate building. I then received a comlink call from Kyle Katarn, a member of the Rebellion, asking if I could do a job for them. The job involved infiltrating Black Sun (Coruscant’s largest criminal organization), who were set to send out a large shipment of weapons to the Empire. My job was to infiltrate and swipe a part of this shipment. So in the second level of this game I began by continuing across the rooftops, soon entering Black Sun territory. I took out some alien thugs, avoided these electrical booby traps as well as some mines, before finally reaching the warehouse I was after (after using a turret laser to annihilate more thugs!). Once inside I made my way down a series of gangplanks, taking out more thugs and avoiding more of the same defensive measures. I then came to an area of many cargo containers, but before I could proceed any further I was surprised and then captured by some smugglers. During the melee I accidentally blasted a small droid named Zeeo, which fired him up after a period of inactivity. Taking control of Zeeo at this point I made my way through the warehouse in search of Rianna, as the droid recognized her as his saviour. Using maintenance hatches to avoid the lurking thugs I eventually made it to Rianna’s cell and sliced her out of there, giving her her blaster back. After convincing her to let me come along I then took control of Rianna again, working together we made our way deeper through the warehouse (using some cool new co-op tricks). We soon found the weapons shipment and then beat a hasty retreat, taking on all comers along the way! Outside the warehouse I climbed aboard Zeeo (who hovers) and we sped away down a pedway, taking out mines and avoiding electrified obstacles. Once back on the rooftops we continued our retreat, beating down more thugs. As we got away from Black Sun territory we had to dispatch a couple of Stormtroopers before meeting up with Kyle and ending the level.

“NNGRR” - Over the last couple of weeks, helping feed James’ Christmas frenzy has been a number of Christmas specials that have aired, mostly on YTV. I’m not going to review them all individually as they usually come on at 6pm while we’re still in the midst of dinner, or cleaning up after dinner, so I haven’t given them the attention they quite deserve. But there have been a great number of them so far, including Home Alone, Home Alone 2, It’s a SpongeBob Christmas, Merry Madagascar, The Happy Elf, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas, The Flight Before Christmas, Abominable Christmas, and The Legend of Frosty the Snowman!! And I’m sure there’s many more to come in the last week or so before we finally get to the big day. The spirit of the season is definitely alive and kicking in our house, that’s for sure!!

The last couple weeks I’ve been listening to King Animal (2012), the sixth studio album from Seattle area band Soundgarden. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts when referencing bands like Nirvana and the Pumpkins, I’m a huge fan of the whole “grunge” movement of the early 1990’s. Back at that time I was in high school and these bands really grabbed a lot of people by the throat and wouldn’t let us go, and Soundgarden was another one of these contributing bands! This is actually their first album after a breakup that lasted 13 years, and it sounds as if they never did. What I like a lot about Soundgarden is their range. Their music can be loose and jangly, fast and frantic, or even heavy and sludged out. They offer you a lot of different sounds, and King Animal is no exception as you can witness all of them here on one record. My favourite tracks on this album include “Been Away Too Long”, “By Crooked Steps”, “Taree”, “Attrition”, “Eyelid’s Mouth” & “Rowing”.

I’ve also been listening to The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013), the fifth full length studio release from Alice In Chains. This Seattle band is another of grunge’s main instigators and is a band I was also heavily in to back in high school and beyond. They haven’t been without their hardships as former member Mike Starr died back in 2011, and former frontman, the ultra-popular Layne Staley, died of substance abuse way back in 2002. Layne’s issues were a big factor in the band not producing maybe as much music as you would have expected over their original span, but he was amazing and Dirt is still my favourite A.I.C. record, and probably always will be. Their sound, when they choose not to go the acoustic route, is very heavy with depressing, harmonized lyrics . . . but in a good way!! New front man William DuVall (this is his second album with the band) has very much the same type of voice as Layne did, which has made the transition more seamless, but I still prefer their original lineup much more. Overall this is a pretty solid record though, and my favourite tracks include “Hollow”, “Voices”, “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”, “Low Ceiling”, “Breath on a Window” & “Scalpel”.

Bill 69: the second installment.

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Finally the time has come to post the sophomore entry in my Bill 69 blog series!! Things really got busy there for Sieve and I after my debut entry back in March. With everyday life happenings in the way we didn’t get to complete more of these hordes of retro games we’re conquesting on up until the last little while. The first game that fell to our mighty thumbs and fingers this time around (completed on June 28, 2013) was none other than a certain classic NES title I picked up for cheap on eBay a while back . . .

Little Nemo!! This game was released on the NES in 1990, I never had it as a kid but Sieve did and we used to love it and play it do death back then. The game features just one player action, and the story revolves around a little boy named Nemo, who in his dreams visits a place called Slumberland. Nemo doesn’t have any weapons on his person at first, but he gets by with feeding hungry animals candy and putting them to sleep. Once they are asleep Nemo jumps inside of them and can control them, using their powers to advance through the levels! The animals you get to control in this game include frogs, gorillas, bumblebees, crabs, lizards, and more.

There are eight total levels in this game, including Mushroom Forest, Flower Garden, House of Toys, Night Sea, Nemo’s House, Cloud Ruins, Topsy Turvy, and Nightmare Land (which is broken up in to three sub-levels which you have to complete all together, very difficult). To make it through the game Nemo has to collect a certain amount of keys in each level, to unlock the door that waits at the end of each one. His ultimate goal is to rescue the king of Slumberland, Morpheus, who has been kidnapped by the evil Nightmare Lord from Nightmare Land. Nemo is informed of this by Morpheus’ daughter, Princess Camille. With her and a few other allies helping Nemo out along the way . . . as well as a handy weapon that comes in to play later on in the game, Nemo may just be the one to solve this little problem.

This is a tough game, especially that most difficult eighth and final level. It took Sieve and I a few nights and many hours to do it, but we got our timing down, remembered how to beat each level as we went along, and eventually put the Nightmare Lord in his place. Another fantastic Capcom game!!

The second game that we completed (finishing it just recently, on December 04, 2013) was the very first NES game I ever owned. This is the game that is most likely responsible for my now lifelong obsession with playing video games. The title in question is none other than . . .

Renegade!! Renegade was released by Taito in 1987 and is based on the arcade game of the same name (of course with a lot of changes involved). The arcade game was apparently a very revolutionary title for it’s day, heavily influencing future beat ‘em up style adventures. In this version for the NES you control a guy known to us only as “Mr. K”. For reasons unknown he is obsessed with taking down a gang of street thugs, your job is to take control of Mr. K and guide him along this journey (the game is only 1 player), taking on all comers and leaving none standing!

There are four stages in this game, the first three of which are very short and simple. The fourth and final stage though is a bit of a maze, as there are multiple paths you can take. Only one path will lead you to the final boss, the other routes all lead back to the start of the level and see you have to start all over again (not to mention sometimes re-fight bosses you defeated earlier in the game)! Along the way you have to deal with typical street thugs, ninjas, groups of ho bags swinging chains and purses at you, as well as young Elvis look-alikes you have to jump kick off of motorcycles! The moves available to you are a punch, back kick, jump kick, grab (from which you can knee enemies in the groin and then throw them), as well as sprinting, which can be both an offensive and defensive move. There are four bosses in the game, including Jack (a painted face thug who looks like somebody out of The Warriors), Joel (a denim clad bloke who looks like the leader of a biker gang), Kim (a whole lotta woman!), and Sabu (a guy in green army fatigues who’s gun kills you in one shot). If you can beat them all you’ve done Mr. K proud and completed the game!

This is a relatively easy game in the grand scheme of things. There are no continues, which is a bit of a challenge, but if you know the correct path to the end boss in the fourth level, have the patience to engage him properly, and really buckle down and concentrate so as not to lose any lives before said boss, it’s easy peasy! But if you get lost in the maze in the fourth stage and rush the last boss fight, things can go awry pretty quickly. This is such a super fun game!

The last game we completed in this trifecta (again on December 04, 2013) is an absolute classic for the Sega Genesis, one of my favourite games of all time even . . . the fabulous . . .

Golden Axe!! It was released by Sega in 1989 and although I never had the cartridge back then, Sieve did and we used to play it to death. As soon as I got in to the whole downloading thing in the Virtual Arcade on my Wii, this is one of the very first games I snapped up, so good! The premise of the game is that in a medieval looking type of land, the kingdom there has been accosted by a fiend known as Death Adder. Said fiend has taken the King and his daughter hostage in an attempt to gain control of their population, on his quest to becoming the ultimate ruler of the land. Enter our heroes. You can pick between three warriors to control (the game is 1 or 2 players), Gilius Thunderhead (a battle axe wielding dwarf), Ax Battler (a barbarian who carries a large broadsword), and Tyris Flare (a sexy femme who engages enemies with her long sword). These three warriors are the land of Yuria’s only hope against Death Adder!

The game is broken up in to eight total stages, mostly medium in length with some short ones mixed in. As you battle your way through each stage on your way to the palace for your date with Death Adder, you will be confronted by various types of enemies. They range from orc looking creatures armed with clubs, sword swinging skeletons, amazonian type female warriors, giants, knights, and finally the main bosses of the game Death Adder Jr., Death Adder, and Death Bringer! Along the way your main weapons will of course be the axe and swords your characters carry in their hands, but each warrior also has differing types of magic they can use, so collecting potion bottles is a must. There are also a few different creatures that will show up from time to time, which your characters can mount once you knock your enemies off of them. The dragons that shoot fire are the most lethal and can really help you out of a jam, but on the other hand when your enemies use them on you they are just as lethal! If you have what it takes to brawl and battle your way through these eight stages and then successfully confront Death Bringer, you’ve beaten the game and can go buy yourself something nice for your efforts!

Like Renegade, Golden Axe can be a fairly easy game, but only if you really concentrate and play at your best. If you suffer some deaths early and use up some continues you may eventually reach the end of the game, but you may not have enough lives to spare to beat it. Whether you consider Golden Axe easy or whether you consider it hard one thing is for certain, this is one of the best video games ever made!