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April showers . . . bring even more May showers!!

The weekend that welcomed us right after I posted my last blog was a busy one around town, and a good one for the most part. Friday night we didn’t do much after getting home from work/school, just played vids and watched cartoons and what not. But on Saturday morning Jimmer and I headed downtown as it was finally time to get my bike in for a tune up, a new chain, some new wheels . . . and the list goes on. Afterwards we headed down the road a short ways to Heroes, to get more comics for that ass! Not long after we got home we had to head back out, as Jimmer had his first ball hockey game of the season, after being placed on the Asteroids team once tryouts were completed. There was a light rain going on (which later that day turned to snow, WTF!?), but the game was a close and entertaining affair. Jimmer scored his team’s only two goals in regulation, and also added one in the shootout to help his team to an inaugural 3-2 shootout win!! For the rest of the day we just chilled and played vids before the Leafs game began. On Sunday morning Jimmer had a friend over for a quick gaming session, but that didn’t last long as we had to head downtown in the early afternoon to see the latest Original Kids production, a funny show called Curtains. Six of the high school kids that were in A Christmas Story with James were in this show so we just had to see it, and it was cool to see how excited they were that we can to see them. It’s very cool to see the bonds these kids make. After getting home we whittled away the rest of the day with some TV and vids while mrs. darthcobain17 did the weekly meal prep . . . and then of course I finished it all off with a very necessary late evening house clean.

The following weekend started off on a busy note, as we had tickets to the latest Original Kids production on the Friday night . . . Clue Onstage! It was a farcical based on the Clue board game, and it was friggin’ outstanding. It was directed by the head honcho who directed Jimmer’s A Christmas Story show, so it was expected to be amazing, and they didn’t disappoint. Before the show we stopped at The Bungalow for dinner, where I stuffed my face with a delicious ass burger. On the Saturday morning I went downtown and picked up my bike, set to begin my rides to work again with the work week that was sadly soon to arrive. Afterwards I took Jimmer to his ball hockey game and they fell 3-1 to the Rockets, with Jimmer finally being held pointless. That evening we watched the last regular season Leafs game of the year, an end to end barn burner against those douche bag Habs! On Sunday Sieve and I got out for our first hill run of the season that morning . . . back in action baby! The rest of the day I just kind of whittled away, with Jimmer and I playing vids, watching toons and what not, and me cleaning the house and getting ready for garbage day after all the food prep was done.

Unfortunately the next weekend was a bit of a gong show as we had an ongoing issue with Bell, when our TV and internet went down early in the week leading up to the weekend, and it took many hours on the phone and a couple different technician visits before they finally figured it out. So on Friday night with no service Jimmer and I simply played video games and chillaxed. On the Saturday morning it was my time to donate blood again, which went well, but afterwards I had to head to the mall and wait in line forever to pick up a new modem from Bell, which they thought was the issue at this point. Upon returning home it did not fix things, and so I waited on the phone with Bell once again as they tried to solve it from their end before finally deciding another technician had to come out to take a look, which was to happen the following morning. After that was all sorted out the three of us headed to the mall and went to the movies to see one of Marvel’s latest dazzlers! Outstanding. Afterwards we hit up Beladi’s for dinner, before returning home to NOT watch game two of the Leafs/Bruins playoff series (Jimmer and I spent the night playing more vids and watching cartoons, of course). On the Sunday morning I hung around the house while I waited for the Bell tech to arrive, and after much diagnosing he found out that the fault was at one of their main boxes that services our neighbourhood. So that meant at least a few more days without internet and TV while they got that fixed up. After he left Jimmer and I played more vids before heading out to Dollarama, Home Depot and Sobey’s, to run some errands and pick up some essentials. As mrs. darthcobain17 meal prepped in the evening Jimmer and I continued to chillax as the weekend came to a close . . . a weekend that seemed to me as though I wasted too much of my time waiting on Bell. I understand this stuff happens, but how long it took to get a grasp on the problem and how long we were without service as a result, I was not happy with. If it hadn’t been right during the first round of the NHL playoffs it wouldn’t have been quite as bad, but that just made the whole thing even worse.

Thankfully the Easter long weekend came next, as I was tired and needed an extra day off! Not sure why I was so tired, maybe it was being back on the bike, but anyhoo. On the Thursday evening we headed down to Ancaster as our friend who has cancer, it was his and his fiancé’s stag and doe. It was a bittersweet situation, given his plight, but at the same time very nice to see how many people showed up to lend their support. We took a bunch of money with us and just spent it all on everything we could . . . including many drinks, of course. Johnny and I got a bit wasted and had a time, that’s for sure! We headed to Grimsby once the stag and doe was over, as the next day we were set to have Easter with mrs. darthcobain17’s family. The Friday was a bit cooler and rainy, but Jimmer and I got outside a couple of times to play catch, and then we had a delicious Easter dinner before then heading to Dundas, to watch game five of the Leafs’ series against the Bruins with Johnny and Megan. More drinks and snacks were in store, naturally! Getting home later that night we didn’t have much going on on the Saturday, with the exception of James’ ball hockey game (they fell 5-0 to the Defenders, but actually somehow ended up getting the win via forfeit). Other than that we chilled out, maxin’ and relaxin’ all cool, and munching some Jimmy the Greek for dinner. On Sunday we had our second Easter dinner of the weekend, heading to my parents to watch game six of the Leafs’ series and stuffing ourselves full of even more deliciousness. That weekend was hard work!!

Another long weekend then arrived, but it was not for any good reason . . . it was in fact for the worst possible reason. A good friend of ours, Joe, passed away at age 36 due to cancer. Joe was a great guy, and I know people bandy that term about fairly regularly, but in this case it entirely applied and was in fact a massive understatement. He wasn’t just a great guy, he was one of the best. Generous, happy all the time, always working his ass off, he partied as hard as he worked and lived, and these are just a few of the many reasons why so many people have been influenced and touched by him over the years. You were always made to feel welcomed and valued by Joe when you hung out with him, it was all part of his charm and affable nature. It’s hard to believe I’ll never walk in to his backyard again and hear Joe yell “Lucaaaaaaasss!!” before coming in for a hug and then slapping a drink in my hand. This situation was entirely unfair. If there is anybody who deserved such a fate Joe was the furthest person from it. R.I.P. Broseph, you are already sorely missed . . .

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We found out the news about Joe on the Thursday morning, and so those last couple days at work were not fun ones. On the Friday night we didn’t do squat, but on the Saturday we of course had to get Jimmer to ball hockey (where they fell to the Rockets 7-3, with Jimmer picking up an assist). We were supposed to go to a surprise birthday party for relatives on mrs. darthcobain17’s side of the family on the Saturday night, but with Joe passing away we needed to do some shopping and pick up some clothes for his services, plus we just weren’t in the mood for it considering the circumstances and all. So after ball hockey we hit up Fireside Grill for lunch, before heading to the mall for way too many hours. We eventually accomplished our mission though and returned home to chill out for the rest of the evening. On the Sunday the wife had a training course to go to in Sarnia so Jimmer and I had the day to ourselves. I got up early and hit up the yard for my first round of spring cleaning, spending a few hours out there and getting a shit ton of stuff done (although my back and hamstrings paid for it over the ensuing days). Jimmer and I then had lunch and played some vids before I headed out to pick up Sieve, as we had planned a hill run for the afternoon and managed to survive the ordeal. Upon getting home we again spent the rest of the day just chilling. I had to take both Monday and Tuesday off, as Jimmer had an orthodontist appointment in the morning before we hit the road to Hamilton to attend Joe’s visitation on the Monday, and then the funeral and celebration of life the day after. It was hard, lots of memories and tears and all sorts of emotions (and of course many drinks), but everybody got through it all and can now just focus on the healing and getting used to a new sort of regular without Joe around. Exhausting, but it was nice to be there to see our friend off.

Some decent weather finally arrived over the weekend that came next! On the Friday night we did jack squat, after a bit of an emotionally taxing week we just chilled out. But Saturday was busy. We didn’t do much in the morning, but soon enough I had to take Jimmer to his ball hockey game where he had to fill in as their, wait for it . . . goalie!! Our regular goalie couldn’t be there so they gave us his pads after their previous game, and so we practiced a couple nights during the week. They played the Rockets in the first game of their playoff round robin tournament, and Jimmer did pretty well even though they lost 6-1 (three of them were goals that came off of breakaway opportunities). All of our parents came to watch so afterwards we grabbed lunch at a place that is new to us called Chuck’s Roadhouse. We then returned home and just bummed around for a bit in order to kill time, as we had tickets that night for Original Kids. The production in question was The Seussification of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Pretty funny and clever, and directed by a couple of girls that directed Jimmer three or four shows ago. The next morning we started off slow with some vids and what not, but as the weather outside bloomed and we had an awesome Sunday on our hands, Jimmer and I chose to bike down to the school with our ball gloves and had a catch. After getting home and refueling we then headed to Indigo to pick up some books, PetSmart to visit the kitties, and then Heroes for some comic books. Returning home we then got back in the car along with the R/C vehicles Santa brought us, heading back to Jimmer’s school. We began racing our cars in the parking lot, before shifting to the rougher, off road terrain of the playground, which was pretty fun and hilarious! Not long after getting home we had dinner, and then I gave the house it’s weekly cleaning before we chilled out with some vids to wrap up the weekend.

The Mother’s Day weekend was pretty busy all around. On the Friday night mrs. darthcobain17’s mom came down unexpectedly to hang out with her, although we were supposed to go see the show at Jimmer’s school, which this year was Shrek. So with the extra ticket we decided to take my mom instead, and the show was pretty good. No Original Kids or anything, but pretty good nonetheless (I’ve been spoiled). Afterwards we headed out for a later dinner, just the three of us, deciding on Swiss Chalet. Returning home afterwards we gave my mom her Mother’s Day gifts before she headed home, and then spent the rest of the night just watching TV before hitting the sack. On the Saturday mrs. darthcobain17 had some sort of all-day fitness thing going on so her mom, Jimmer and I headed over to Johnny’s for breakfast. We had to stop at Wal-Mart on the way to his ball hockey game afterwards as his stick was in the van . . . which was with my wife. As for the game, they lost their third and final round-robin playoff game to the Defenders 5-0. I totally wanted to punch the remaining teeth out of one of the redneck parent’s mouths from the other team. Him and his wife were just brutal, a total waste of humanity. Like that game meant everything in the world to them . . . pretty fuckin’ sad in my opinion. Returning home after the game we just whittled away the rest of the day playing vids, having a draw off, watching some playoff hockey, etc. On the Sunday we gave mrs. darthcobain17 what she wanted most . . . a clean van. Early in the morning we headed to one of those self-clean places that is just around the corner from our house, and totally detailed the interior of that thing . . . she’s such a slob! Anyways, after returning home and warming up a bit we when headed out for a late breakfast/early lunch. Only trouble was, all of the breakfast places were still super busy, which I was totally not expecting! We eventually got a table at Shelley’s and had to wait a while for the food, but it was damn well worth it. On the way home we stopped at Merla-Mae for ice cream, and then hit up Sobey’s for some groceries. Later on we were all pretty much still stuffed from lunch, so we sat down to watch a certain movie we’d been looking forward to for a while and just grazed on a bunch of snacks (both healthy and unhealthy) while we watched. We packed it in not long after the movie was over, in preparation for another work/school week.

A long weekend with bits of nice weather here and there then reared it’s head, our annual May 2-4 long weekend in particular! On the Friday night I bid goodbye to our old barbecue (it was 17 years old and one of our wedding presents, hah!) when I assembled a new Dyna-Glo I’d purchased from Home Depot. Only a minimal amount of cursing went in to the process. I also removed a plug socket at the back of our shed which burnt out last summer, and it’s an important one too as it’s the plug that our pool pump goes in to. On Saturday and Sunday (to a much lesser degree) we were downtown quite a bit as Jimmer had signed up to be in a street hockey tournament! Unfortunately the coach they got was a douche, a typical hockey parent, and it sure as hell made things interesting. They went 1-2-1 on the Saturday, not bad for a cobbled together squad, but lost on Sunday morning and were ousted . . . the coaches got in to it and everything, we were so glad to get out of there and Jimmer didn’t know what to think! Adults, they’re the worst. While at the tournament on Saturday I went for a bit of a walk and picked up some books at Heroes, and when we got home I cooked our first dinner on the new barby, while at the same time working in my ball hockey gear in the backyard. After dinner we played some vids and chilled. On the Sunday after they were ousted from the tournament we went to Billy’s for breakfast, and once we got home took our R/C cars down to the school for some action, and even made a video of them (capturing a ghost on camera in the process!). After that we played some ball hockey in the back yard and then went to the mall to do some shopping, during which we got Jimmer a new bike. It’s a sweet, orange piece of machinery! We picked up some Wendy’s for dinner and then killed the night by watching a movie. On the holiday Monday with most things closed we stuck close to home, playing some ball hockey and then replacing that plug socket in the shed. We also went for a bike ride to the school to play some catch, taking Jimmer’s bike on it’s maiden voyage! When we got home we played some vids and did some drawings before I barbecued dinner and then cleaned the house for the upcoming week. The “long” weekend was way too short . . .

The weekend that just passed was our annual boys’ weekend up north, opening up my friend Rob’s cottage! Only this year there was a deviation from the norm. Back in the fall Rob bought the property next door, so now his parents have the old place we always used to go to, and now Rob has the one beside it. He had a contractor in there all winter fixing it up and it’s friggin’ awesome inside. The work we did was mostly outdoors, as the property itself was clogged with trees and brush, and very swampy, and so we had to get rid of the remaining obstructions so that they can get some fill delivered and straighten out the yard before laying down some seed to get the grass planted and growing. Besides all of that outside work at the new place we also built some new IKEA furniture for the interior spaces, and did some jobs at the old cottage like putting out the dock, taking the shutters off the screened porch, etc. We got up there on the Thursday night and left early afternoon on Sunday, with our buddy Jeff droving up from Ottawa on the Saturday afternoon. We polluted ourselves with lots of beers, food, etc., and watched a few movies I’ve already mentioned on my blog over the years including the original Austin Powers, Team America and Hot Tub Time Machine. The weekend went all too quickly, but it was totally worth it though, so much fun!

As for the weekdays, as usual they were just as busy if not busier, than the weekends were. Jimmer of course had his week night ball hockey games for a stretch there (their season didn’t end well, they lost in the first game after the playoff round robin . . . let’s just say they were understaffed this season!). He also continued his weekly overnight at my parents’ house and we snuck in an orthodontist appointment too (braces . . . maybe, ugghhhh). He also managed to have a couple of playdates with his friends. Our furnace broke down once again, making that three times in three years, but with how many new parts we’ve got in that thing now hopefully we’ll be set for a good long while! As mentioned above we also had some serious problems with our Bell service that kept on lingering, not having internet or TV for about a week as they tried and tried to figure things out, eventually getting it right. Sieve and I have gotten together, albeit sporadically, for our retro gaming nights. Early in April I got my bike out of the shed and began riding to work once again, giving my car a bit of a rest. The Leafs crapped out in the first round against the Bruins in the NHL playoffs . . . **** me!! Most recently I built a new barbecue I picked up at Home Depot, seeing as our old one finally bit the bullet. It was a workhorse, but now we’ve got a big new Dyna-Glo in the backyard and I’m loving it! We also attended the Original Kids graduation night festivities, which are always something to witness. And lastly, just yesterday our pool opened up, so I’ll probably spend this weekend wet and surly as I try to get it cleaned up and running. Throughout these adventures we managed to accomplish the following . . .

1) I began my play on MLB 2K10 this spring by doing what I love best in video game baseball . . . destroying the New York Yankees! Well, maybe I’d like to destroy Boston a bit more, but the hatred I feel for the two franchises is pretty much equal parts. Anyhoo, here is how the latest batch of games unfolded on my season: won @ New York Yankees 10-2, won @ New York Yankees 13-4, won @ New York Yankees 9-0, won @ New York Yankees 7-3, won @ Detroit 3-0, won @ Detroit 13-0, lost @ Detroit 3-0, lost @ Chicago White Sox 3-2, lost @ Chicago White Sox 6-1 & won @ Chicago White Sox 6-2.

2) To kick off my progress on Gran Turismo 5 this time around I headed back to the B Spec Events, temporarily bumping up to the Extreme Series as I was a bit cock blocked on the series below it, since I couldn’t acquire the right kind of vehicles for the events that remained. The first event up that I could complete there was called the Schwarzwald League B, consisting of just a pair of races: Cape Ring (first) & Nurburgring Nordschleife (first). Then came the European Championship event, which held a trio of races: Rome (first), Deep Forest Raceway (first) & Autodromo Nazionale Monza (first). Next was the Super GT event, which also held three races: Suzuka Circuit (first), Fuji Speedway (first) & Tokyo R246 (first). At this point I ran in to a bit of a roadblock vehicle wise, so I decided to switch over to the A Spec Events and play these same events again, and gain the progress and cash winnings that came with it under this different mode. Again, first up was the Schwarzwald League B event, with just the pair of races: Cape Ring (first) & Nurburgring Nordschleife (first). The trio of races under the European Championship event came next: Rome (first), Deep Forest Raceway (first) & Autodromo Nazionale Monza (first). And then another trio of races under the Super GT event met their maker: Suzuka Circuit (first), Fuji Speedway F (first) & Tokyo R246 (first). At this point I switched over to the B Spec Events and dropped down to the Expert Series, to see if there were any events there I could complete that I hadn’t managed to yet, what with some of the new cards I’d acquired. I was able to complete the Polyphony Digital Cup event, which held three races: Circuito de Madrid Mini (first), Trial Mountain Circuit (first) & Grand Valley Speedway (first). I then flipped back over to the A Spec Events and ran the Polyphony Digital Cup event, with the same results.

3) The mop up efforts began in full swing on Lego: The Ninjago Movie Videogame. I began by playing the dojo missions, short and sweet challenges that could quickly earn us Gold Bricks and characters we could then put to good use later on when we re-did the story levels. Here is how the various dojo missions unfolded: “The Scorched Tomb” (earned a Gold Brick and a gold medal, unlocked the Lloyd [Kendo], General Kozu & Stone Warrior characters along with some new character parts, and earned the Master of Stone and Master of the Skyward Dragon trophies), “The Collapsing Condo” (earned a gold medal, unlocked the Lord Garmadon [Pyjamas] character, unlocked the Character Creator function, and earned the Master of Triple Digits trophy), “The Slithering Catacomb” (earned a Gold Brick and a gold medal, unlocked the Pythor, Skales & Skalidor characters along with some new character parts, and earned the Master of Serpents trophy), “The Secret Factory” (earned a Gold Brick and a gold medal, unlocked the Nya [Ceremonial Robes], General Cryptor & P.I.X.A.L. characters along with some new character parts, and earned the Master of Machines and Master of Collection trophies), “The Stormy Docks” (earned a Gold Brick and a gold medal, unlocked the Morro, Bansha & Soul Archer characters along with some new character parts, and earned the Master of Mystery trophy), “The Deadly Arena” (earned a Gold Brick and a gold medal, unlocked the Master Chen, Griffin Turner & Karlof characters along with some new character parts, and earned the Master of Noodles trophy) & “The Savage Skyship” (earned a Gold Brick and a gold medal, unlocked the Nadakhan, Cyren & Flintlocke characters along with some new character parts, and earned the Master of the Sky and Master of Challenges trophies). With the dojo missions all completed I then went back to not replaying the story mode levels per se, but exploring the various areas of Ninjago which they took place in (basically exploring a bunch of different game hubs), in an attempt to collect all of the items I still needed to acquire. Here is how that went: “Ninjago City North” (found/earned 20 more Gold Bricks, unlocked the Hammerhead, Cole [High School], Kai [High School], N-POP Girl & Angler Goon characters along with some new character parts, and earned the Student of Creation trophy), “Ninjago City Beach” (found/earned 20 more Gold Bricks, unlocked the Crusty, Rocker, Ash, Paleman, Fish Bowl & Zane [High School] characters along with some new character parts, found the Master of Summoning ancient scroll, and earned the Apprentice of the Golden Art trophy), “Ninjago City Docks” (found/earned 21 more Gold Bricks, unlocked the Octopus, Lloyd [High School], Great White Shark, Pufferfish Thug, Jay [Classic], Hot Dog Man & Jay [High School] characters along with some new character parts, and found the Master of Speed ancient scroll), “The Uncrossable Jungle” (found/earned 19 more Gold Bricks, and unlocked the Skylor, Bolobo, Shark Army Thug, Fangton, Acidicus, Cole [Classic] & Snake Army Brute characters along with some new character parts), “The Dark Ravine” (found/earned 20 more Gold Bricks, unlocked the Lloyd [Classic], Fang Suei, Lasha, Lizaru & Ronin characters along with some new character parts, found the Master of Elements ancient scroll, and earned the Master of the Golden Art trophy), “The Lost City of Generals” (found/earned 19 more Gold Bricks, unlocked the Tox, Maya, Shark Army General #1 [Fired], Neuro & General #1 [Fired] characters along with some new character parts, and found the Master of the Forbidden Dance ancient scroll), “Pt. 1 – The Unclimbable Mountain” (found/earned 14 more Gold Bricks, unlocked the Lord Garmadon [Office], Postman, Slithraa & Zane [Classic] characters along with some new character parts, and found the Master of Destruction ancient scroll), “Pt. 2 – The Battlefield” (found/earned 7 more Gold Bricks, unlocked the Shade & Master of Lightning characters along with some new character parts, and earned the Master of the Golden Art trophy) & “Ninjago City Downtown” (found/earned 20 more Gold Bricks, unlocked the IT Bat Nerd, Dareth, Chamille, Nya [Classic], Edna & Gold Ninja characters along with some new character parts, found the Master of Fortune ancient scroll, and earned the Master of Exploration, Master of Speed, Master of the Red Arts, Master of Creation, Master of Disguise & Master of Completion trophies). And that was it, game over. This title is basically organized chaos, but it is a lot of fun and I really enjoyed tidying it up after getting through the main story mode. Another Lego game kaputs for the collection!

4) I busted a nut all over Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, gettin’ shit done, son! Picking up where I left off we had just gained access to further explore the Energy Hold area of Bowser’s body, in our pursuit of the little caterpillar sage that had so far managed to elude us. Battling many minor enemies as I progressed I eventually managed to locate an Energy Hold attack piece. Continuing on I soon afterwards found a batch of four more, while also managing to activate a couple of what were called “star panels”. The two panels I activated allowed me access to a previously closed off doorway, and within this new section of the Energy Hold I was able to gain the Drill Bros. ability. This new ability allowed us to drill in to the ground and move around, so as to avoid obstacles and barriers, activate various processes, or pick up hidden items. Returning back to the original area of the Energy Hold I then ferreted out the remaining five Energy Hold attack pieces, which granted me a new special attack called the Super Bouncer! Moving along I was then able to find the remaining star panels, gaining access to the main hidden doorway I was really interested in. Upon entering this new zone of the Energy Hold I finally spied that caterpillar scuttling away in the distance. Chasing after it we made an effort to trap the thing, but it proved to be quite elusive. Eventually it confronted us, and lo and behold it could talk! We learned that this sage was named Wisdurm, and although it sympathized with our tale of the kingdom being in peril due to Fawful’s actions, it did not want to hand over it’s Star Cure to us because it didn’t know if this news we brought it was for real or not. And so it decided that the best way to figure out if we deserved ownership of the Star Cure or not was to . . . battle for it, of course! It was the longest battle of the game to date, but I hung in there and eventually Mario and Luigi were able to best this pesky little fellow. After the fight it gave us the Star Cure and then told us to stop following it. We forged ahead, soon entering the Joint Tower area of Bowser’s body. Once there we were tracked down by one of our Toad friends, who said that if we stimulated this section of Bower’s body it would grant him the ability to perform a devastating body slam move. So we set about our task and got the job done, gifting this new move to our worst enemy . . . for all the right reasons, of course. At long last I set forth from the Tower of Yikk with this new move in my back pocket, blazing new trails and soon encountering a Goomba named Private Goomp. After some pleasantries (or unpleasantries in Bowser’s case) Goomp revealed to me that a Star Cure was rumoured to be hidden in the basement of Bowser Castle. The doc from Toad Town then interrupted with a private message, informing Bowser that the second sage who was in charge of this Star Cure was named Kuzzle, and he normally lives on Plank Beach. Upon hearing all of this news I headed for Bowser’s castle, post haste (battling minor enemies along the way). Upon reaching it again and making some renewed explorations, I was eventually led up high to a balcony where I discovered a statue of Fawful, pushing it off the balcony in disgust! I followed the statue down to the basement and explored this new area, battling more enemies and navigating pathways and treadmills strewn amongst a lava filled landscape. Coming upon some captive Bob-Ombs I freed them and for doing so gained the Bob-Omb Blitz attack for my combat arsenal. Eventually I came upon Bowser’s super-secret treasure room, but upon entering it he was dismayed to see that train tracks had been laid down right through the middle of the room! A few of his most trusted minions then entered the scene, explaining that he helped dig the tunnel earlier in the game. Before anything could be solved though, a train called the Fawful Express (driven by some Monty Bros.) came charging through. After a brief conversation they attempted to run Bowser down, pushing him along the tracks until he was crushed against a boulder. Taking control of Mario and Luigi at this point we moved down to Bowser’s Rump Command and stimulated his revival, allowing him to recover and push back against this train. Pursuing it before it could get away, I mostly used Bowser’s fire to light the vehicle up, eventually destroying it for good. After that bit of business was out of the way I backtracked to the treasure vault and attempted to extract the Star Cure from the safe. Only problem was . . . Bowser didn’t remember the combination! Taking control of Mario and Luigi I then headed towards Bowser’s Memory Banks. There a globin scanned us and identified us as a potential virus threat, generating a pixel Mario and Luigi to take us out. So yet another battle commenced! After their defeat we had to solve a puzzle in order to gain the safe’s combination. Upon giving said combination to Bowser he opened the safe and gained the second Star Cure! However, his minions then chose to double cross him for Fawful, and pushed Bowser in to the safe, locking the door behind him! In disgust Bowser then swallowed the Star Cure, pissed that it is what got him in to this predicament in the first place. Taking over as Mario and Luigi I steered them over to the Gut Check region of Bowser’s body. There we found the Star Cure he’d ingested, and then exited his body by using the pipes we had discovered earlier in the game. Our first mission was to head to Toad Town and talk to the doctor who had started us on the Star Cure quest to begin with. He first gifted us with the power to ingest air and then float like a balloon, in order to reach higher areas. He then went on to explain that the third and final sage lived on a high cliff in Plack Beach. So we set course for Plack Beach, fighting off some of the same, and some different, enemies than Bowser had faced in comparison when he was there originally. Locating the cliff we also found a hut at it’s base, upon entering it we met an old timer named Kuzzle, who was a retired sage. He enjoyed talking to us and presented us with a puzzle to solve. For doing so he gifted us with all ten of the Plack Beach Attack Pieces, which granted us a new attack called Spin Pipe. He then mentioned that he had four puzzle sacks scattered around the beach, and if we returned them to him and completed the puzzles they entailed he would reward us. We did so and gained many valuable items from the old goat! Leaving our new friend behind we then set off to scale the nearby cliff. At the top we met a strange, Squidward-like looking being named Chakron, the final sage. It said that it had been meditating about outer space high on this cliff for 1000 years, and that it had no time for us and our quest. When we mentioned that it might be time for a rest though, Chakron jumped on that idea. However, it said that only a ground shaking event would be enough to pull it out of it’s state of meditation, hinting that the answer to this issue could be found in the woods. So we traipsed off to Dimble Wood, engaging many small enemies as we went, and found the first Dimble Wood Attack Piece! I continued to roam around the woods, to areas previously explored and areas brand new, taking out hordes of minor enemies along the way. We eventually found the remaining nine Dimble Wood Attack Pieces, which gifted us a new special attack called Snack Baskets. I then steered us back to Chakron’s location where we performed a Snack Baskets attack, shaking him from his meditation! Chakron was reluctant to give up the last Star Cure, but a promise was a promise and so hand it over he did. He also helped us with transportation back to Toad Town afterwards. Visiting the doc again he took the three Star Cures and forged them in to one unit he dubbed the Miracle Cure. With it he healed all Toads of their Blorbs disease, then gave it to us to be used on Fawful’s barriers outside Peach’s castle. Before leaving his office the doc’s intern gifted us all ten Clinic Attack Pieces, which bestowed upon us the Mighty Meteor special attack. Before leaving Toad Town we visited a number of the shops and outfitted ourselves for the coming journey, before setting off for Peach’s castle. I explored it’s extensive grounds, battling many minor to middling enemies, before finally finding some serious action in behind back of the castle. Midbus showed up and spewed all sorts of trash talk our way, and then literally built an enemy out of the trash pile we happened to be near, sicking this cobbled together robot upon us before splitting the scene! We broke it in to it’s component parts after a long, grueling battle. Before it went kaputs though it cleared a path through the rubble we were surrounded by and then flung the safe Bowser was locked in high in the air and upon hitting the ground it split open, freeing the former villain. Mario and Luigi decided it was high time they get back inside Bowser’s body, so taking a nearby pipe we did just that. It turned out Bowser couldn’t move though, he had hurt his back when the safe exploded. So I steered the plumbing brothers towards Bowser’s Lumbar Nook, where Toadworth was hiding. After talking to him we used one of our learned skills to stimulate some healing in Bowser’s back . . . and we ended up healing him so well that Bowser gained a new move called the Spike Ball, what with his newfound agility and all! I used this new ability to exit the area and then actually enter the inside of Peach’s castle. I soon came upon a trio of Fawful copters that each held a coloured key. Fawful trash talked me through the copter’s speakers, before they flew off in all different directions. I couldn’t get too far without the keys, so I chased the copters through the castle’s chambers, and after obtaining both the green and red keys, was rewarded with a rare items and also with finding a caged batch of Bowser’s Magikoopa minions. Upon freeing them they joined Bowser’s ranks as one of his new special attacks! During this journey I had to engage many more minor to middling enemies, and finally managed to find the blue key, which led me to the upper levels inside Peach’s castle. In the process of accessing those upper levels I was shot upwards in Spike Ball form, and at the top of my journey a couple of massive fire breathing piranha plants shot me down! Upon landing I had to utilize Mario and Luigi, heading to Bowser’s Chest Station and repeatedly launching Bowser upwards to retaliate against these two monsters, eventually beating them down. Once that was over I began my explorations of this level, it didn’t take long before I smashed through the floor of a parapet, landing down somewhere in the middle levels of the castle. It was eerily quiet as I explored this new area . . . before I entered a chamber and found Fawful and Midbus hovering over an unconscious Peach! I overheard them talking about how the Dark Star was soon set to awaken, and that is when they noticed Bowser and took exception to my presence . . .

5) The games I was able to complete on my season of NHL 2K9 recently look as such: won vs. Buffalo 5-3, won vs. Ottawa 4-0, won vs. Florida 5-2, won @ Montreal 5-1, won @ Philadelphia 2-1, won vs. Nashville 10-1, won @ Carolina 4-3, won @ Atlanta 4-0, won vs. Carolina 12-1, won vs. Boston 7-0, won @ Minnesota 10-4, won @ Colorado 7-1, won vs. Pittsburgh 3-2 (OT) & won vs. Florida 4-1.

6) Frogger: Ancient Shadow is still somehow not complete, but boy oh boy I had really thought this was it! I thought there was just one area left to play through in the game, but it turns out there were actually two. The next area in question, and only one I was able to complete this time around, was called “Elder Ruins”. There we were able to complete the Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 & Boss levels, bringing us four steps closer to vindication . . .

7) I hit the track once more, this time on Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed, completing more events there as well. First came the European Retro Hot Lap event, consisting of three races: Hockenheimring Short (first), Circuit de Catalunya Club (first) & Brands Hatch Indy (first). Next came the European Retro League, which held four races: Alpental (first), Donington Park National (second), Circuit de Catalunya National (first) & Hockenheimring National (first, earning the Pro trophy). Three races under the Nurburgring Retro 24 event were then on tap: Nurburgring Mullenbach (second), Nurburgring Sprint (first) & Nurburgring GP (first). Old School Masters was the name of the next event, which presented four races: Motorsport Arena Oschersleben B Course (second), Enna Pergusa (second), Circuit Zolder (second) & Suzuka Circuit West Course (second). The Hot Lap Gauntlet event was next on the docket, holding three races: Riviera Port Boucle (first), Hockenheimring Short (first) & Miami Biscayne Boulevard (first). A one off race was next, coming under the Modern B Invitational event: Circuit de Catalunya National (second, earning the Tic Tac Toe trophy). Another trio of races then came up, under the Single Exhibitions event: Circuit de Catalunya National (first), Dubai Autodrome International (first) & Shanghai Bund GP (second). The 4Nations Speed Cup event was next on tap, and it contained a horde of races, which unfolded as such: Silverstone National (first), Brands Hatch Indy (first), Motorsport Arena Oschersleben B Course (first), Nurburgring Sprint (second), Tokyo Westbound Expressway (first), Suzuka Circuit West Course (third), Ambush Canyon (first) & Miami Biscayne Boulevard (first). A quartet of races then arrived under the London City Velocity Tour event, as such: London Cub Drive (second), London River (second), London Whitehall Drive (second) & London Embankment Loop (second). The Time Attack Single Exhibition event was on tap next, which held three races: Hockenheimring Short (first), Nurburgring Mullenbach (first) & Tokyo Westbound Expressway (first). Then the European Time Attack Pro Challenge event arrived, also consisting of three races: Motorsport Arena Oschersleben B Course (first), Circuit Dijon-Prenois Short (first) & Circuit de Catalunya Club (first). Next was the Asian Time Attack Pro Challenge, which lo and behold also held three more races: Suzuka Circuit East Course (first), Dubai Autodrome Club (second) & Shanghai Yan’an Road Circuit (second). The USA Time Attack Pro Challenge was next, featuring three more races: Glendale East (first), Miami Bicentennial Park Route (second) & Dakota Tri-Oval (second).

8) More regular season games fell on NHL Faceoff ’97 as well, as follows: lost @ Los Angeles 3-0, won @ Calgary 3-2 (OT), tied @ Vancouver 3-3 (OT), won @ Edmonton 3-0, lost @ Montreal 4-3 (OT), won vs. Washington 3-0, won vs. San Jose 3-1, lost vs. Boston 4-3 (OT), won vs. Detroit 4-3, lost vs. Hartford 2-1, lost vs. Dallas 2-1, won vs. Chicago 3-2, won @ Florida 4-2, won @ Tampa Bay 3-2, won vs. Philadelphia 2-1 (OT), won @ Pittsburgh 7-5, lost vs. Phoenix 4-3 (OT), won @ San Jose 2-1 & tied @ Phoenix 4-4.

9) My trek on Fortnite’s Save the World game mode continues to unfold, here are the levels I was able to knock over this time through: “Stonewood: Homebase Storm Shield Defense 4” (I began by placing an amplifier to boost our storm shield’s range and then also some defenses around it, afterwards activating the storm shield and then defending the entire setup against various waves of Husks that went about trying to tear it all down), “Stonewood: Mandatory Minimalism” (lots of people at home base were complaining of their stuff being stolen, so I headed out in to the city and found many of these items stashed in garbage cans, pondering the nature of this mystery), “Stonewood: To Boldly Go . . .” (I explored a region of the city and gained many supplies and what not, in the process attracting a powerful outlander to our cause) & “Stonewood: Leave Only Footprints” (I searched out a number of Husk encampments, gaining revenge on the fiends by obliterating them in the hordes, at the same time collecting samples from their carcasses for future study).

10) The going got a lot tougher on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, but we persevered and were able to knock off the final level in the second world, which was a tremendous boss fight. The level in question was “World 2-9: It Came From the Freezer”. Moving on to the game’s third world the levels we completed there include: “World 3-1: Looking for Mr. Tom Phan”, “World 3-2: Peek-A-Boo!”, “World 3-3: Benefits of Getting Lost” & “World 3-4: Madame Bwahstrella”.

11) The regular season games that fell on NHL 17 recently are as so: won vs. Vancouver 4-1, won vs. Los Angeles 6-3, won vs. Philadelphia 6-4, won @ Pittsburgh 3-2, won vs. Nashville 6-3, lost vs. Florida 2-1, lost @ Montreal 4-2, won vs. Carolina 5-0, won @ New Jersey 5-2, lost vs. Washington 9-5 & won @ Edmonton 4-2.

12) Progress on Mega Man 11 became infinitely harder as we went about starting the trek through Wily’s castle . . . where we ended up being tormented by a ridiculous boss who had featured in to many Mega Man games of the past! Here is how we fared on this renewed journey, knocking down the following levels: Wily castle stage 1 (defeated the Yellow Devil boss, earning the Power Gear Master and Brute Force trophies along the way), Wily castle stage 2 (defeated a pink robotic skull inside some manner of energy ring that sent destructive blasts our way), Wily castle stage 3 (had to defeat all 8 of the main robot bosses over again, earning the No Getting Away This Time! trophy) & Wily castle stage 4 (battled Dr. Wily himself inside some sort of hovering, skull shaped space ship, earning the Protector of Peace trophy). And that was it, game over, and what a game! I loved playing Mega Man 11 as much as all of the others that came before it. This series is arguably the best of all time . . .

13) I have very solid progress to report on Vikings: Wolves of Midgard! Here are the levels I ravaged over the spring: “Vengeance” (I traveled to the Jotan’s camp in Deep Springs, to slay them all and gain revenge for the devastating attack they had perpetrated on our village at the game’s outset, defeating Skulli although her husband Grimmir managed to escape, along the way I found 3/3 Iron Skulls, killed 9/9 Troll Witches, and destroyed 15/15 Troll Totems), “Paladin Crusade” (this time I traveled to Svanung Village, to investigate some metal clad invaders who had arrived on their shores, in the end having to engage the Paladin Champion and obtaining the fabled Kenaz runestone, along the way I found 2/3 Iron Skulls, killed 10/10 Elite Soldiers, and destroyed 9/10 Supply Carts), “Bishop’s Gambit” (outsiders also arrived on the shores of Jarnung Village, so I went there to repel that invasion also, gaining help from the Mire Witch along the way, in the end fighting the Bishop of Earth and obtaining the fabled Hagalaz runestone, along the way I found 2/3 Iron Skulls, killed 14/15 Priests, destroyed 10/10 Supply Carts, and earned the Metal Mayhem trophy), “Unexpected Ally” (following the advice of an old crone I took a portal to Utgard and battled through heavy troll/giant resistance in an attempt to impress Simul and her clans to our cause, finding out her army had already marched, although I found the ring of Odin’s that the crone had mentioned could be important to gaining his favour, along the way I found 3/3 Iron Skulls, killed 5/7 Jotan, destroyed 15/15 Troll Totems, and earned the Otherworld Traveler and Dawn of Winter trophies) & “Flotnar Liberation” (the recent invasions I’d repelled were launched from Hahofr, a harbour town of Flotnar, so in order to strike back at the Imperium’s forces I first needed to take control of this region, which I liberated by blazing through the town and destroying all in my path, recruiting a trader named Fardain who would teach us the route to sail south, along the way I found 3/3 Iron Skulls, freed 5/5 prisoner groups, destroyed 5/5 Vanirite Shrines, and earned the Liberator of Flotnar trophy).

14) I got back to the action and intrigue of Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition, picking up where I last left off I had just taken control of Catwoman. She was looking at getting Poison Ivy’s assistance with a job, but before trying to track her down I had to stop by Selena’s apartment for some kit, taking out a small number of thugs who had been casing the joint. I then hit the rooftops and tracked down Ivy’s base of operations, dispatching all of the perimeter guards before finagling my way inside. There was some bad blood between the two though, which Ivy was not soon to forget apparently, and so she sent a number of plant zombified goons my way! I dispatched them all but Ivy had the last laugh when she was able to subdue Catwoman personally. Control then shifted back to Batman at this point. I was tied to a chair in the lair of Joker and Harley Quinn, and Joker then went on with a spell of storytelling. He was indeed sick with a blood condition, that much was true, although he was by no means dead. Not yet, anyways. To try and secure my aid, Joker admitted to injecting Batman with a dose of his own poisoned blood . . . not to mention sending out deliveries of said blood to hospitals all around Gotham! He said that Mr. Freeze had been working on an antidote for the condition, but the evil genius had gone silent recently for some unknown reason. Upon my release I had Alfred scan for the coldest part of Arkham City and then made a beeline to that region, assuming that would be where Freeze was located. Along the way I ran in to a terrified civilian, who said he had been hired by Hugo Strange to do some electronics work. Upon the job’s completion though Strange had thrown him in Arkham instead of rewarding him! Before this man could go on in much more detail he was sniped from afar and snuffed out. I examined the forensics and made my way to where the shot was fired, examining the evidence it led me to believe that Deadshot was the culprit, deepening the intrigue of this whole situation. Moving on I then ran in to Bane, and from his actions it seemed as though we were on the same page in wanting to track down missing containers of the Titan virus, which is what was responsible for turning Bane in to his monster like state. We agreed to work together and each try to locate and destroy six of said crates. Moving on I finally approached the area where I believed Mr. Freeze to be holed up . . . fittingly enough inside the old G.C.P.D. building! After some exploring I managed to find a way in and broke the Penguin’s communications encryption, meaning I could then listen in on all of the conversations between him and his goons. I made my way through the building stealthily, taking out a handful of said goons before interrogating the last one. He said Penguin had Mr. Freeze captive inside the museum, so I then made my way to exit the building, although Penguin tried to trap me inside. I circumvented this attempt and then hit the streets, soon afterwards coming across the first two containers of the Titan virus that I’d vowed to find and destroy. And so I did!

15) The regular season games that are now in the books on NHL 11 unfurled thusly: lost @ Boston 2-1, won vs. New York Rangers 4-3, lost vs. Ottawa 6-1, won @ Washington 3-2 (SO), won vs. Buffalo 3-0, lost @ Tampa Bay 3-2, won @ Florida 4-1, won vs. Vancouver 2-1 (OT), lost vs. Nashville 3-2 & lost vs. New Jersey 4-3 (SO).

16) Splatoon 2 continues to be oodles of fun! Continuing on with the Regular Battles we got up to more action and played in a couple more arenas we hadn’t seen in our previous rounds, which include the New Albacore Hotel and Camp Triggerfish. After reaching level 10 we were then able to participate in Ranked Battles, which take place with more experienced players and feature a different kind of objective. The two game types we’ve experienced so far include Clam Blitz (be the first to fill the opposing team’s basket with 100 clams), Rainmaker (obtain the Rainmaker weapon and be the first team to hold on to it for a certain amount of time), Splash Zones (gain control of a certain section of the arena and hold on to it for a total amount of time before the other team can do the same) & Tower Control (take control of a moving tower and stay aboard as it moves through a number of checkpoints). The arenas we’ve waged these battles in include The Reef, Snapper Canal, Arowana Mall, Sturgeon Shipyard, Port Mackeral, Ancho-V Games, Skipper Pavilion, Inkblot Art Academy, Humpback Pump Track, Goby Arena, Blackbelly Skate Park, Walleye Warehouse, Manta Maria, New Albacore Hotel, Camp Triggerfish, Musselforge Fitness, Kelp Dome, Piranha Pit & Wahoo World. I also took part in the Easter weekend “Splatfest” event, choosing to play on the side of team Tortoise. I played many events, which took place at Piranha Pit, MakoMart, Manta Maria, Blackbelly Skatepark, Shifty Station & Goby Arena, managing to get my rank up to Tortoise Defender in the end. Another Splatfest event arrived over the recent long weekend, where I chose to battle for team Teleportation against team Time Travel. I participated in battles at the Shifty Station, Ancho-V Games, Musselforge Fitness, Humpback Pump Track & Starfish Mainstage arenas. Before the event ended I had increased our rank to Teleportation Defender. Overall we are now at level 16 and have seen our Ranked Battles rating climb as high as a B-.

17) Mega Man 3 is now kaputs!! After a brief hiatus upon seeing who was waiting for us in the next section of Dr. Wily’s castle, we eventually got back at it and dug in for some serious gaming. Here is how the last number of levels unfolded: Wily castle stage 2 (defeated the Yellow Devil boss), Wily castle stage 3 (defeated the Mega Man clones), Wily castle stage 4 (defeated all 8 of the robot masters once more), Wily castle stage 5 (defeated Wily, who was piloting some sort of spider shaped robot) & Wily castle stage 6 (defeated the Gamma robot along with Dr. Wily himself). And that was it! Once getting past the Yellow Devil it was pretty much smooth sailing. A great game, but let’s be honest . . . are there any bad Mega Man games?

18) Picking up where I left off on Aqua Moto Racing Utopia I continued on with the events under Ski Division. First up was the Caramba Swimwear Ski Racing Cup, which held four races: Through the Shipyard (fourth), Wild Swirls (first), Near the Hull (seventh) & Night Waves (second). Next came the Elemental Sports Water Tournament, containing four races: Against the Skyline (second), Indoor Madness (second), Bungalow Beach (third) & Coral Zone (second). The penultimate circuit on this mode was the XRC Racing Open, which contained four races: Under the Bridge (third), Ancient Tour (third), Among Giants (third) & Wild Ride (fourth). The final circuit of events was called the SpeedCrew Extreme Tour, and it held five very difficult races: Forest Run (sixth), White Cliffs (third), Below the Crane (fourth), Narrow Pathways (third) & Roar of the Waves (second). Overall I finished second in each circuit, which allowed me to finish off this game mode in full. The next option under Championship mode saw me hop on some of the bigger jet skis that you don’t stand up on (unless you want to), which was called the Runabout Division. The first event available was called the WB Racing Beginner Challenge, and it held four races: Aquatic Dream (second), Metropolis Trip (first), Inside the Dome (first) & Big Pipes (second). Then came the Wavestar Wild Race event, containing just three races: Exotic Waters (second), Triple Ripple (first) & Mangrove Mania (fifth). Next was the Ignited Amateur Championship, also featuring three races: Old Passage (fourth), Sun Isles (second) & Between the Barges (first). The Deepblue International event then reared it’s head, holding three races: Gator Lands (third), Pier Pressure (third) & Green Stream (first). Next up was the Wavepro Ocean Challenge event, which featured four races: Water and Fire (third), Rocky Shore (first), Glory Run (third) & Crossing the Rig (first). And last but not least was the Mizumoto World Finals, here is how those four races unfolded: Inside the Harbor (second), Canal Race (third), Tight and Crowded (second) & To the Reef (fifth). My total results pitted me between first and third, variously, over the course of these different events. The final mode under Championship was the Freestyle Division set of events, and they weren’t races but timed competitions where you had to do stunts and gain the most points . . . and they are super hard apparently! I went through it just to say I did, but I couldn’t even come close to the leaders. The first event up under this mode was the Edge Stunt Show, consisting of three competitions: Fond of Fame (fifth), Alluring Lagoon (sixth) & Soar Like the Dragon (seventh). Then came the Neptune Grand Challenge event, also holding three competitions: Splash in the Mud (seventh), Stunt on the Beach (seventh) & Monumental Jumps (seventh). Last was the Jet Heads Racing Showdown event, which increased to four competitions: Lush Opportunities (eighth), Towards the Pier (fourth), Stunt Overflow (seventh) & Showtime (seventh). Overall my finishes in each event were in the sixth/seventh place range. And that was it, all done! This game has some good, crisp graphics behind it (and decent gameplay), but overall it just seems to be . . . lacking something. It’s fun and all, but it’s nowhere near as good as Nintendo’s old Wave Race series, which to me is the granddaddy of jet ski video games. Still worth a play, especially considering this game is now only $20, but I was expecting a bit more . . .

19) Monster Madness: Grave Danger is now complete, and oh what fun we had! The action picked up at the beginning of chapter two, called The Shopping Maul. The levels we had to defeat there included Parking Lot Go Boom, Shopping Day & Maul Field Tour. Chapter three was called Hell School and the three levels we completed there include: Track & Field, Inside Hell School & School’s Out! Cemetery Scary was the title of chapter four, and we defeated all levels there as well, including: Cemetery Trek, Sewers & Swamps & Ancient Catacombs. The fifth and final chapter of the game was called Evil Castle, and here are the final levels we beat in order to complete the game: Road to the Castle, Dungeons of Darkness, Rooftop Rumble & Showdown! And that was it, the city is saved . . . or is it? After beating the game we decided to give the Challenges mode a go, which basically contains a bunch of mini-games you can complete in order to unlock different outfits for the game’s four main characters. Here is how our progress went amongst the various offerings under this mode: Suburban Warfare (B ranking), Jack Attack (B), Witch Hunt (C), Lava Battle (A), Monster Race (F), Match ‘Em (B), Slice N’ Dice (C), Monster Onslaught (F), Castle Brawl (F), Hill Defense (B), Zack-Man (C), Dodgeball (D), Leprechaun Roundup (C), UFO Shooter (A), The Gauntlet (F), Carnage (B), Sort or Explode (C), Zombie Cats (B), Death School (B), Home Run Derby (C), Pizza Delivery (D), Zombie Dance-Off (D), Monster Survival (F) & Construction Destruction (B). And that was it, another game in the books! This one is a little rough around the edges in terms of the polishing of the graphics, and also some sound volume levels, but it makes up for those issues with such a high fun factor that the game turns out pretty solid in the end. We both really enjoyed playing this fun filled, hack n’ slash adventure.

20) After finishing Dr. Wily’s Revenge I decided to start out on my next Mega Man handheld adventure, a solid title originally released on the GameBoy Color that I had no idea existed . . . Mega Man Xtreme!! This title takes place within the Mega Man X storyline, in between a couple of the early games in that series I believe. It is the year 21XX and humans co-exist alongside robots dubbed “Reploids”. Most Reploids are good, however some out there are what you would consider evil, known as Mavericks. Two robots from the past, named Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero, are the police force that bring these Mavericks to justice. However, recently an unknown attacker broke in to the mother computer and messed with the programming of many other Reploids, causing a number of them to go haywire. The only way to stop them is for X to go inside the mother computer in a digitized version of himself, and stop the madness from the inside. The levels/bosses I had to defeat during my journey include: defeated Storm Eagle (gaining the Storm Tornado weapon), defeated Flame Stag (gaining the Speed Burner weapon), defeated Chill Penguin (gaining the Shotgun Ice weapon) & defeated Spark Mandrill (gaining the Electric Spark weapon). At this point the regular levels were over and it moved more in to the mode where you are attacking the final base (like in other games the trek through Dr. Wily’s castle, comparatively). At the end of each of these legs were various bosses, which included some sort of spider bot, a dude encamped in a metallic treaded behemoth that was bristling with artillery, a battle against all four of the previous robot bosses followed by the game’s main villain, Sigma, and then one final fight against Sigma who donned some sort of gigantic, wolf themed suit of armour for the battle. Upon the game’s defeat “Hard Mode” then became available, allowing me to go through the game again and defeat even more types of bosses. After briefly trying this mode though I realized it should have been named “Way Too Hard” mode . . . so I gave up with the completion on the normal difficulty being good enough for me. A pretty good game, if a bit short.

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21) Also, with having finished off Mega Man 3 we of course moved right along to Mega Man 4! After putting a stop to Dr. Wily’s plans three times up to this point, the finally fades away. But taking his place is a new scientist named Dr. Cossack, who enters the fray and thirsts for acknowledgement. Picking up where Wily left off he sends eight powerful and corrupted robots Mega Man’s way, meaning the Blue Bomber must again jump to action to save the world! Armed with a new mega buster weapon that now allows Mega Man to charge his shots, our hero heads out to eliminate this “new” threat. The order we defeated the eight robot masters in was as follows: defeated Skull Man (gaining the Skull Barrier weapon), defeated Toad Man (gaining the Rain Flush weapon as well as the Rush Marine Adaptor), defeated Bright Man (gaining the Flash Stopper weapon), defeated Pharaoh Man (gaining the Pharaoh Shot), defeated Ring Man (gaining the Ring Boomerang weapon), defeated Dust Man (gaining the Dust Crusher weapon), defeated Dive Man (gaining the Dive Missile weapon) & defeated Drill Man (gaining the Drill Bomb weapon as well as the Rush Jet Adaptor). The scene then shifted to Dr. Cossack’s lab, and here is how that journey went: Stage 1 (defeated some manner of robotic, insectile drilling machine), Stage 2 (defeated a violent, shifting computer console), Stage 3 (defeated a pair of psychotic, twin robotic spiders) & Stage 4 (defeated Dr. Cossack and then learned the truth about Dr. Wily’s involvement and blackmail). It was then onwards to the final journey on the game . . . why Dr. Wily’s castle, of course! Here is how that went: Stage 1 (defeated a Metall Daddy boss), Stage 2 (defeated a Tako Trash boss) & Stage 3 (re-defeated all 8 of the robot master bosses followed by Dr. Wily in his flying skull machine) & Stage 4 (amongst darkness defeated Wily in his little flying pod). And that was it, another Mega Man game in the books. And as usual it was a consistent, fun and satisfying gaming experience. Seriously, what an effin’ series!!

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22) I tracked down some more Ben 10 games at Game Cycle, as Jimmer and I played one a while back and recently he mentioned that he liked that game, so I thought why not? The first one we started of the new batch is a continuation from the game we played that he was thinking about, this next installment being Ben 10 Omniverse 2. In this follow up to the original Omniverse game Ben has been exiled to space by Emperor Milleous of the Incursean Empire. However, Ben was rescued by Azmuth, the creator of the Omnitrix, and together they plan a way to sneak around the Incursean warship they find themselves stowing away on, in an attempt to get back to Earth. The levels we’ve completed on the game so far are as such: Learning the Ropes, Stow Away, Mess Hall Mashup, Welcome to Erf & Undertown and Beyond. So far compared to the first Omniverse game this one is just OK, unfortunately.

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23) You may have guessed this by now, but with Mega Man 4 out of the way we of course then turned our attention to Mega Man 5! In this installment eight robot masters are once again up to no good, with it being up to Mega Man to put a stop to their antics. But in this instance it doesn’t seem to be Dr. Wily who is behind it all. Proto Man, brother of Mega Man who has lent his assistance in past engagements, is apparently behind the scheme and has even kidnaped Dr. Light. So we charged up our Mega Buster and went to town! Here is the order in which we overcame the robot masters: defeated Star Man (gaining the Star Crash weapon as well as the Super Arrow gadget), defeated Gravity Man (gaining the Gravity Hold weapon), defeated Gyro Man (gaining the Gyro Attack weapon and Rush Jet ability), defeated Crystal Man (gaining the Crystal Eye weapon), defeated Napalm Man (gaining the Napalm Bomb weapon), defeated Stone Man (gaining the Power Stone weapon), defeated Charge Man (gaining the Charge Kick weapon) & defeated Wave Man (gaining the Water Wave weapon). We then made the march on Proto Man’s castle and began the second half of this game, here is how that journey went: Stage 1 (defeated a version of the Darkman robot that was like a small tank in appearance), Stage 2 (defeated a version of Darkman that had shields that attacked us), Stage 3 (defeated a version of Darkman that had a very busy arm cannon) & Stage 4 (defeated a version of Darkman that was a combination of the last two robots, after it’s defeat Dr. Wily showed up and admitted that this whole scheme was his doing, that he had framed Proto Man for these crimes!). This revelation of course then led us to Dr. Wily’s castle, and here is how our final journey of the game unfolded: Stage 1 (defeated a tall robot that could come apart in sections and hurl said sections at us), Stage 2 (defeated a large robot head inside of a ring of protection), Stage 3 (defeated all 8 of the robot master bosses again, followed by Dr. Wily inside some manner of UFO) & Stage 4 (defeated Dr. Wily, whose first from was inside a skull tank/truck, followed by a disappearing hover pod of some sort). And that was it, another Mega Man game down . . . it’s almost as if we cannot be stopped!!

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24) With us making some PS4 completions recently I decided to get started on a newer retro platformer inspired masterpiece called . . . Axiom Verge! The story begins with the tale of some sort of lab technician/scientist who seems to be experimenting on some sort of alien find, when all of a sudden something goes wrong during his testing. When this fellow comes to he awakens in some sort of pod in the middle of an alien landscape, and must set about figuring out just what the hell happened, armed with a weapon known as an Axiom Disruptor. Over our initial foray in to this game we’ve defeated many aliens, many small ones but also some bigger ones, including a boss or two. We managed to pick up a few more weapons including the Multi-Disruptor, Nova and Kilver, along with a special drill that helps us bore through certain types of rocks. Another gadget we gained later on is called the Address Disruptor, which messes with the pixelated structure of certain objects. We also found some pickups that increased the size our weapons’ ammunition and the damage that it does, not to mention a number of Health Nodes and Health Node fragments, which help to increase to our health bar. A Power Node fragment was also acquired, which will eventually serve to increase our weapon power. We found a Journal Page and added that to our inventory. Finally, a few trophies were earned by our initial play on this game, including Xedur, Telal and Hack. This is a very fun game, it reminds me a lot of the earliest Metroid games!

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25) Of course with Mega Man 5 completed we moved on to Mega Man 6 . . . and this one I know I never played when I was younger . . . forging new ground here! Anyways, the story behind this one is that in the year 20XX a fighting tournament has been organized for robots. However, a powerful man named Mr. X makes his presence known, explaining that with the world’s eight most powerful robots at his disposal he is going to use them to take over the world. Oh, and also that he was the one secretly backing Dr. Wily and his zany schemes for all those years! So once gain Mega Man is called in to duty to stop a handful of armoured bots from ruining life as he knows it. Our journey through the game unfolded as such: defeated Wind Man (gaining the W. Storm weapon), defeated Flame Man (gaining the F. Blast weapon and Rush Power Adaptor gadget), defeated Blizzard Man (gaining the B. Attack weapon), defeated Plant Man (gaining the Plant B. weapon and Rush Jet Adaptor gadget), defeated Tomahawk Man (gaining the Silver T. weapon and Beat B. Parts), defeated Yamato Man (gaining the Y. Spear weapon and Beat E. Parts), defeated Knight Man (gaining the Knight C. weapon and Beat A. Parts) & defeated Centaur Man (gaining the C. Flash weapon and Beat T. Parts). It was then on to ravage Mr. X’s castle! Here is how that journey went: Stage 1 (defeated some sort of robotic drone defenders that traveled along a pre-determined track), Stage 2 (defeated a bot made of pistons that climbed the wall and fired ordnance at us), Stage 3 (defeated one of the helmet robots that was piloting some manner of tank type vehicle) & Stage 4 (defeated Dr. Wily, who revealed he was the true villain behind this scheme, he was piloting some sort of robotic swinging mace). If you’ve been following along, then by now you know that at this point it was high time for us to head off to Dr. Wily’s castle and beat the game for good! Here is how that final journey unfolded: Stage 1 (defeated a robotic Brachiosaurus), Stage 2 (defeated a bubble shooting spider tank type of robot), Stage 3 (defeated all eight of the original robot masters from earlier in the game) & Stage 4 (defeated Dr. Wily, whose first phase was a hovering contraption with crushing spikes on the bottom, and then his second form the now infamous disappearing hover pod). After the last fight Mega Man finally managed to catch Dr. Wily and jail him! Series over?

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26) Jimmer and I decided to start on a game for the Nintendo Switch that we just recently learned about and were super excited for . . . Cuphead!! In this title Cuphead and his best mate Mugman live in the region of Inkwell Isles, under the watchful eye of the Elder Kettle. However, one day they journey across the tracks and enter the Devil’s Casino, only to go on a major run at the craps table! Soon enough the devil himself enters and makes them a deal for one last roll of the dice. Untold riches for them if they win, but if they lose the devil will claim their souls! Much to Mugman’s dismay Cuphead agrees without a second thought and throws the dice . . . only to lose miserably. The pair beg the devil to let them out of the agreement, and he says he will . . . but only if the duo travel the land and collect on all of the missing souls that the devil has swindled other citizens out of. And that is where our journey began. So far the levels we’ve completed are as such: Forest Follies (earning a B rating), Ruse of an Ooze (B- rating, collecting the soul contract for Goopy Le Grande), Threatenin’ Zeppelin (C+ rating, collecting the soul contract for Hilda Berg), Treetop Trouble (B- rating), Floral Fury (C+ rating, collecting the soul contract for Cagney Carnation), Mausoleum I (gained a new super weapon), Botanic Panic! (B rating, collecting the soul contract for The Root Pack), Clip Joint Calamity (C+ rating, collecting the soul contract for Ribby and Croaks) & Pyramid Peril (B rating, collecting the soul contract for Djimmi the Great). This game is absolutely amazing!!

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“Free Game(s) of the Month” – Continuing on with the Zone of the Enders: HD Collection I maintained my play on the initial game in this collection, picking up a couple more trophies including Hacker & Gun Runner.

I also started up on one of the PS4 downloads from a few months back or so, called Rogue Aces. This game is a more simplistic run and gun style of flying game where you are tasked with taking on a number (100 in total) of short missions to help your side win the war! At your disposal you’ll have your plane’s unlimited supply of machine gun ammo, along with a limited number of bombs and missiles. In between missions you can land on your side’s aircraft carrier and repair as well as top off your weapons, before heading back out in to the chaos! This game is so much fun and has a very Neo Geo look to the graphics, which is amazing. The flight control is so intuitive and easy, and the game looks and sounds fantastic, also quite funny at times. Over the course of my play across a handful of different modes of play, I managed to obtain a number of trophies including On The Head Son, Mow Down, Baron Schmaron, Grand Theft Aircraft, Lucky Son Of A . . ., War Rations, Wait . . . Wha . . . ?!, Strafe Magnate, The Long Drop, The Head Of The Snake, Hop, Skip And A Jump, Call The Ball, Scuttle Bonus & As It’s Meant To Be Played (Vega’s Homage). And that’s about it, such an amazing little game!!

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“NNGRR” - Just as the weekend arrived that saw me pick up my tuned up bike, I finished reading my first book of this blog period, called Who is the Black Panther? This Marvel story takes place quite a ways after T’Challa has assumed the kingship of Wakanda and become the latest Black Panther. The action starts out with him and his entourage in New York City, attending the opening of a Wakandan museum exhibit. After years of isolation from the rest of the world, T’Challa believes it is finally time to bring their advanced nation out of the shadows and become more open with the rest of the world. However, after a terror attack in which the Black Panther has to intervene, he then travels back to the familiar comforts of Wakanda. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., a blowhard military stooge named General Matigan believes it is the U.S.A.’s right to take Wakanda’s supply of Vibranium (and everything else that comes with it) for themselves. He is warned against this course of action by the Wakanda experts on staff, told that the Wakandans are not to be trifled with, that it would be better to work with them and become allies rather than to try and take them by force. Matigan brushes this advice off though, secretly instigating a course of action that will eventually spill much blood. He contacts a Belgian mercenary named Ulysses Klaue, or Klaw for short, a formidable assassin with a blood feud against the royal family of Wakanda! Klaw enlists another mercenary, a Frenchman named Batroc, to lead the assault with him. On top of that they add Rhino, the Black Knight and Radioactive Man to their roster, not to mention the entire army of Niganda, the neighbouring country to Wakanda whose ruler M’Butu has always wanted to claim Wakanda’s riches for his own! The Wakandans don’t see the invasion coming until it is on their front doorstep, and to make matters worse things at home are already in a state of turmoil. T’Challa has been questioning the continued purpose of his cadre of female bodyguards, the Dora Milaje. T’Challa’s mom Ramonda is upset with him because he continues to put himself in danger for no apparent reason. And T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, is upset with him for never taking her and her ideas/suggestions seriously. But with this unexpected attack coming everybody will have to stow their beefs for another day . . . if there is another day. Can T’Challa and his loyal subjects of Wakanda repel such a sneaky and well-crafted invasion, or will Wakanda finally be exposed to the rest of the world whether they wish it to be or not? This was a pretty good story, helping to expand on my understanding of Wakanda and it’s place in the Marvel universe, and the main characters that make up it’s leadership. Lots of violence too, there were a number of deaths, and I like how the Black Panther goes savage on people with little or no afterthought . . .

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The movie we went to see the weekend I donated blood was the amazing Captain Marvel! As the film opens up we are introduced to a certain Kree (a savage, war faring race) named Vers, a loyal soldier in their military cog. However, lately she’s been having dreams featuring visions of a past life she can’t remember. Her mentor, Yon-Rogg, is attempting to train and prepare her for future warfare, urging her to keep her emotions in check, which are being adversely affected by her dreams and the confusion they bring regarding her unknown past. Upon visiting the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence, Vers is surprised that it takes on the form of an older woman that features prominently in her dreams, and it too urges control over her emotions. Not long after this experience Yon-Rogg puts a team together to go and extract one of their allies, a spy, from the clutches of the Skrulls, a shape shifting species that are mortal enemies to the Kree. This rescue team ends up being ambushed and Vers is taken captive by a Skrull named Talos, who prods away at Vers’ memories while she is in captivity. Vers manages to engineer an escape though, and the escape pod she commandeers deposits her on Earth right in the middle of the 1990s, huzzah!! She immediately tries to contact Yon-Rogg and tell him what has transpired, then sets to the task of tracking down Talos and his Skrull compatriots. Along the way Vers experiences push back from some agents belonging to a certain organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D., most notably a young Nick Fury. As the situation evolves Vers and Fury form a bond and begin to work together, and she is able to gain some of her memories back. Vers discovers that she used to be a test pilot on a project dubbed Pegasus, which was led by the older woman from her visions . . . one Wendy Lawson. The aim of Lawson’s project was to create a faster than light jet engine that would help put an end to war. Vers, or Carol Danvers as she was formerly known, also remembers her best friend and fellow Pegasus test pilot Maria Rambeau. Along with Fury, Carol pays Maria a visit and gets filled in on what happened six years ago when Carol vanished and was presumed dead in a Project Pegasus test flight crash. When Talos suddenly shows his face and convinces Carol and friends to listen to his story, her world is turned upside down. Carol is enraged to learn that for these last six years her Kree compatriots have been feeding her a load of bologna about her origins, about their relationship with the Skrulls, and worst of all she learns that her mentor Wendy Lawson was a complete fraud! A mission is planned, for Carol and her newfound allies to head up in to space and access Lawson’s hidden lab, and make things right. Along the way she’ll have to face off against her former Kree allies and confront the Supreme Intelligence, and in doing so reforge herself in to the powerful Captain Marvel!! This movie was brilliant. Dazzling special effects, awesome story, great action, and amazing performances from the actors involved. I also love how the time frame was the mid-1990s, which made the soundtrack an absolute delight, and a lot of the vintage visual references were amazing to see as well! My favourite part of the film though, was of course Brie Larson. She’s been on my radar ever since Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and I was very excited to see that they cast her in the MCU, which next to the Star Wars galaxy is probably my most anticipated movie universe these days. Can’t wait to see what they have in store for Endgame!!

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Over the Easter long weekend I finally got around to watching Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And I don’t see why everybody hated it! The film opens with a brief scene of Superman’s battle in Metropolis against General Zod and his forces, where during the course of said battle many buildings are destroyed causing countless civilian deaths. One of the buildings destroyed belonged to Bruce Wayne, who loses many of his employees to the violence. Bruce sees Superman as nothing but a threat to the safety of the planet and it’s citizens, and vows to eventually stop this alien from causing more damage. Fast forward a couple of years or so and many things are happening all at once. The safety issues Superman represents has spread and split people in to two camps. Some want to see him gone, as they fear he represents a volatile and unknown threat to humanity, while others see him as a saviour and a hero, a powerful alien who should be revered. This matter has gone straight to the political world and inquests are being held as to what kind of decision should be made regarding Superman’s future on Earth, and how he should be handled. Clark Kent (Superman, for those of you living under a rock) in the meantime is urging his supervisor at the Daily Planet to allow him to report on the Batman story, as Clark doesn’t look kindly on a vigilante running amok that thinks he’s higher than the law. As for Batman (Bruce Wayne, again for those living under said rocks), he is currently on a rampage. Bruce is tracking a group of big time thugs who all seem to link back to the eccentric but brilliant scientist known as Alexander, or Lex, Luthor. As for Lex Luthor, he has approached a senator from Kentucky regarding the recent find of a large store of Kryptonite, the only substance known to weaken Superman and other metahumans of his nature. Lex asks this senator if he should build a weapon out of the Kryptonite, just as an insurance policy against Superman, should he ever go rogue. Lex is denied though, and so he takes matters in to his own hands, heading to the crash site of the Kryptonian vessel and embarking on a bit of an experiment. At a gala hosted by Lex, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne come face to face, and after a brief conversation it is clear the pair’s views on current events are at great odds. Bruce is only at the gala to obtain some intel from Lex’s computer servers, but getting the drop on Bruce is a beautiful woman named Diana Prince, who is also after some of Lex’s intel. Bruce is baffled by her appearance and that she was able to get the drop on him. Their paths eventually cross again though, and Diana surprises him again by giving Bruce back the device he used to extract the info on Lex. Upon investigating this data he realizes that Diana is impossibly old, yet looks so young, it is clear there is something special about her. Bruce also views video entries detailing her and other individuals with extraordinary abilities, and ponders heavily on the matter. While this is all unfolding Lex is continuing to stir up trouble, using Batman’s long seeded emotions and fears over his parents’ deaths against him, using Lois Lane to get at Superman, all the while motivating an unavoidable battle between Batman and Superman in hopes that Superman will off Batman and then Lex can use the Kryptonite to off Superman, leaving him alone as the true super power in Metropolis and Gotham! Events don’t exactly unfold as Lex envisions though, as eventually Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman team up to take him on, going head to head against the abomination Lex births in the depths of the Kryptonian spacecraft. But can these three heroes defeat this monster? And even if they can, how much damage will be done and how many innocent lives will be lost along the way? I personally thought this movie was great. I loved the performances of the three main heroes and the super villain, I thought the story was a good one, and the action too. And how they began to bring the heroes together in a way that sets up the Justice League movie was pretty cool also. It’s not the best super hero movie out there, but it’s a great watch whatever the case. I’m starting to lose faith in humanity any more, always having to complain about something just for the sake of it . . .

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Early in the work week that followed Easter I finished watching a cartoon series from my youth . . . Jem and the Holograms! This DVD set I got from Amazon a while back, and it’s a monster, all 65 episodes from three seasons spread across 8 discs. The main character in this series is a young woman named Jerrica Benton, who owns and runs a music company called Starlight Records. Her parents are both deceased but were both in the music industry, her mom being a singer and her dad more on the technical/business side of things. He ran Starlight Records and left the company to Jerrica upon his death, but perhaps the most important thing he left behind for her was an experimental computer console he had been piecing together over the years dubbed “Synergy”. It is an advanced artificial intelligence capable of projecting holograms and performing other amazing feats. Using Synergy’s capabilities Jerrica takes on the persona of Jem, and together with some other girls she grew up with including Kimber (her sister), Aja, Shana, and eventually Raya, they form a band called Jem and the Holograms which take the music world by storm! It’s not all rainbows and bunnies though as the girls take on the task of running Starlight House, a home for orphaned girls, which pretty much taps out all of the earnings Jem and the Holograms bring in. Complicating matters is a rival group called The Misfits, which include Pizzazz, Roxy, Stormer and eventually Jetta. They are always trying to climb over the Holograms in the charts and sabotage their plans on a routine basis. Later in the series another rival band from across the pond enters the fray, The Stingers, which consist of Riot, Minx and Rapture. The Stingers also don’t care much for the Holograms, all except Riot, who takes a serious liking to Jem and pursues her relentlessly, causing stress between Jerrica/Jem and her boyfriend Rio. But throughout it all Jem and her Holograms persevere in all aspects of life and rise above their petty competition, ending the series on an upbeat, positive note. As a kid I really enjoyed this show. Jem was on at a time when Transformers, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., Voltron, Robotech and the like were still in heavy rotation, so it wasn’t always close to my first choice to watch. But somehow I fit it in amongst all the rest and it provided a bit of diversity in my cartoon watching frenzy, being so much different from all of these more action oriented series. It was still a great watch all these years later as well . . .

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Later that same week I finished reading my next book, The Complete Predator Omnibus. For those of you who might read my blogs regularly you may know by now that I’ve read most of the Alien Omnibus’, as well as the Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus, so this tome was logically to follow. And what a book! This volume contains three Predator focused “short” stories called Concrete Jungle, Cold War and Big Game. Concrete Jungle focuses on two New York detectives named Schaefer and Rasche, who used to work in narcotics but have since been moved to homicide due to some incidents. However, when a mass killing sees many of the drug peddlers they’ve been after for so long killed and skinned the pair, especially Schaefer, are desperate to find out who done it. As they revisit the scene Schaefer ends up confronting an unimaginable, otherworldly creature that tosses him around like a child’s plaything! Barely surviving the encounter Schaefer suddenly realizes that the stories his brother told him about a mission gone wrong in a jungle on the other side of the world was definitely more than it seemed. For Schaefer’s brother is Dutch, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character from the original Predator movie! Schaefer seeks to find out what really happened in that jungle 6 years ago, and just what the hell these creatures are now doing in New York City. Most important though, he wants to find out how to defeat these aliens and where the hell his brother disappeared to after that ill-fated mission! In book two, Cold War, it’s a continuation from this story. Schaefer is still working the beat in New York City while Rasche, having seen enough of the big city and the craziness it offers, has moved his family across the country and is now working as a small town sheriff in Oregon. Trouble finds them again though when a Predator ship crash lands in the Siberian wasteland, near one of Russia’s oil pipelines. The aliens quickly make short work of most of the Russian forces in the region, and when the U.S. finds out about the incident they mount a mission to recover the alien tech before the Russians can. And seeing as how Schaefer seems to have an innate understanding of the creatures, he is basically forced to come along on the mission. Once again Schaefer must go toe to toe with these beasts, while Rasche finds out about the situation and does what he can to help from the home front. But can this pair get lucky twice against such a sophisticated enemy? The third story, Big Game, is a complete departure from the previous two. It takes place in the New Mexico desert and focuses on a main character named Enoch Nakai. He is a corporal at Cole Army Base and he is also Navajo. Amongst his people he is rumoured to be the great “monster slayer” of lore, stories that have been passed down from generations. One day while on tank duty Nakai’s friend, Dietl, is struck down by a bolt of blue energy that seemingly came from . . . nowhere. Reporting the incident to his superiors, Nakai soon learns that they have discovered a manner of strange spacecraft landed in the desert nearby. As the army’s investigations of this spacecraft and it’s mysterious occupant unfold, more and more soldiers are killed and it’s apparent they are up against something they’ve never seen the likes of before. Due to the circumstances Nakai is given a three day leave, even though he doesn’t want it, but thankfully for him it is good timing as the alien’s ship detonates not long afterwards and eradicates the entire base! In response the army calls in a team of big guns to root this alien out once and for all. In the end though it will come down to the one on one scenario of predator vs. prey. But which side of the paradigm will Nakai fall under? These were three excellent stories! The first two I really enjoyed on their own, but then the link to Dutch and past Predator goodness was just an added bonus. And the third story was so different from the first two that it gave the whole collection a bit of diversity. Great action all around. Is there a volume two on the way, perhaps?

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Early in the weekend that saw us head to Hamilton for our friend’s passing I ended up watching Justice League, wanting to hit it while I was still hot after seeing Batman vs. Superman. This film picks up a couple of years after the events that brought about Superman’s death, and the world is still in mourning. Crime, fear and desperation are on the rise without the man of steel patrolling the skies and doling out justice, and Bruce Wayne knows there is something even worse coming on the horizon. Together with Diana Prince, Wonder Woman, he is attempting to recruit other metahumans to their cause in order to be prepared for whatever form this currently invisible threat takes. Bruce heads to a small, remote fishing village to recruit Arthur Curry, otherwise known as the Aquaman . . . but he wants nothing to do with Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, the Batman. Bruce experiences much better luck though when he tracks down Barry Allen, The Flash, who is all too willing to join the ranks of Batman’s burgeoning squad! Diana in the meantime has been sent out to investigate a youth named Victor Stone, who was thought to have perished in an accident but was in fact kept alive by his scientist father, now dubbed . . . Cyborg! He doesn’t want to join at first, but over time Diana gains his trust and wins him over. While all of this is happening all hell is literally breaking loose. An ancient demon named Steppenwolf has broken his chains and plans to rain down terror and misery across the Earth. His plan is to acquire three mystical boxes that, when combined, form a weapon dubbed The Unity, which Steppenwolf will then use to re-forge the Earth to his liking. He begins on Themyscira, the home of Wonder Woman’s Amazon sisters, and after a hard fought battle makes away with the first box. Queen Hippolyta sends a message to Diana, warning her of this danger, and so the Justice League (including Aquaman, who eventually sees reason) then focuses their attention on protecting the other two boxes. After Steppenwolf acquires the second box Bruce Wayne decides on a drastic plan of action . . . to use the third and final box to resurrect their fallen comrade Superman, who he feels is the only being capable of stopping Steppenwolf. Diana disagrees with this course of action but Bruce, with the backing of the others, goes ahead with it. The results are disastrous at first as Superman is very confused upon his revival, but Lois Lane soon intervenes and manages to calm him down and remove him from the situation until he can organize his thoughts and emotions. With Steppenwolf moving in on the third box though Superman needs to make a decision on what he wants to do, and he chooses to fight. And so the battle begins. The new, fully functional Justice League featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and The Flash, engage the fiend Steppenwolf in a battle to save planet Earth. At five on one odds will this battle be easy peasy for our heroes, or is Steppenwolf even more powerful than he seems? Just like Batman vs. Superman I thought this flick was a really good watch with a solid story and some great action. For such a dark movie there was a fair bit of lighter moments worked in to the mix, and the post credits scene with Lux Luthor and Slade point at even better things to come. Next stop . . . Aquaman!

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Also not long after getting home from the funeral services I finished reading my next book, this one another from the Marvel universe called Ant-Man: Natural Enemy. In this story Scott Lang, the Ant-Man, has recently moved to the upper east side in New York city with his daughter Cassie and only wants to put his shady past behind him, be a great father, and moonlight as Ant-Man when the need calls, helping to keep the city and world safe in relative anonymity. However, his life is turned on it’s side one day when some feds come knocking. A former colleague of Scott’s in the criminal underworld has just recently escaped from prison, a fellow named Willie Dugan. A few people Dugan worked with in the past have turned up dead, apparently at Dugan’s hands, and the feds believe Scott and his family might be next on his hit list . . . especially seeing as though Scott testified against Dugan and helped put the fiend in prison to begin with! Scott poo poos the feds’ concerns, not believing his family is in any trouble, but against his will agents are assigned to shadow him, Cassie and also his ex-wife Peggy, who is out on the west coast. Nobody is happy with the situation but they get on with their lives despite the intrusion, and Scott even manages to wrangle a date with a hot woman named Jennifer! He is conversely disappointed when he finds out Cassie swiped his Ant-Man suit and used it to shake her agent, in order to head to school and gain revenge on a friend of hers who had thrown her some shade. Soon enough though Scott’s worst fear comes to bear when he learns that the feds were indeed correct in their assumptions regarding Dugan’s future behaviour. Cassie is abducted in broad daylight outside of her school after the agent assigned to her, Roger, is shot by her abductors. Scott is then contacted by Dugan, who is on to the fact that Scott is Ant-Man. He sets up a private rendezvous for them to make a deal for Cassie’s life. So Scott then dons the Ant-Man suit and rushes to the address Dugan provides him in upstate New York. Once on site he locates Cassie and also the dead bodies of Dugan and his cronies, but is promptly disabled by a mysterious stranger before he or she flees the scene. With Cassie’s help Scott gets the Ant-Man suit back up and running again and they begin the trek home, concocting a story around these events that will not get them in trouble. Scott’s real concern though is the identity of the stranger who saved their lives, but at the same time also disabled Scott’s suit. Is there another threat out there plotting against Scott and his family? And what is with the sudden rash of disease afflicting the local ant population? This adventure is not over just yet, but Scott is determined to bring about it’s demise. Will he be able to do so, or will this unseen enemy get the better of him? This was an exciting, fast paced story that helped delve in to the life of Scott Lang a little more, as well as the Ant-Man suit and the details behind what makes it tick. Tony Stark figured in to the story a bit as well, which provided some insights on the friendship he and Scott share. Thanos is the next character on my Marvel book list, so stay tuned for that adventure in the near future!

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For the past while Jimmer and I have been watching a certain show on Netflix that was inspired to us after we watched Sam & Cat . . . and that show would be Victorious, the program that featured the origin of the super loveable Cat character! Anyways, the show revolves around a young woman named Victoria (Tori) Vega. Her sister Trina attends a fancy school in the Los Angeles area called Hollywood Arts, where young artists and performers go to hone their various crafts before setting off in to the world of entertainment. Trina is set to star in the school’s big showcase but unfortunately comes down with a swollen tongue. Tori is roped in to taking her place at the last minute even though she doesn’t attend the school, and her ensuing performance is a smash hit. It is so good in fact that she is offered a spot at the school no questions asked! Tori accepts and then begins classes, most notably under the tutelage of an eccentric and funny teacher named Mr. Sikowitz. It’s not long before Tori has made a handful of friends including the very musically talented Andre, the dim witted but super adorable Cat, nerdy Robbie (along with his ventriloquist dummy Rex), the handsome Canadian Beck, and Beck’s terrifying but sexy girlfriend Jade. Tori and Jade aren’t necessarily friends so much as frenemies, but you get the gist. At first Tori suffers some setbacks and doesn’t know if she’s cut out for life at Hollywood Arts. But with the help of her friends she finds her way and unlocks all of her talents, embracing her new direction in learning with open arms. Over the course of the show numerous support characters like Trina, Sinjin, Burf, and of course the hilarious Sikowitz chip in on the antics, which sees the kids deal with the rigours of attending such a prestigious school, along with their own personal problems. It all results in a very lighthearted, slapstick, Nickelodeon type of goodness that just can’t be ignored. This show is every bit as addictive as Sam & Cat. Now if only Netflix would add iCarly to their roster we could witness Sam’s beginnings as well!

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The day we went back to Hamilton for Joe’s memorial birthday celebration I finished reading the first book in a new series called Max Tilt. It’s written by an author named Peter Lerangis, whose Seven Wonders series I highly enjoyed, so this choice was a no brainer. The first book is called Fire the Depths and as it opens up we are introduced to one of the story’s main characters, a young boy named Maximilian Tilt. He is a 13 year old boy who lives in Ohio and has developed some mental peculiarities. Adding more stress to Max’s life though is the fact that his mom is really sick, not to mention that his dad has in effect quit his job in order to care for her, putting even more stress on the household. His mom’s condition becomes so bad that his parents need to travel to Minnesota so she can start a new experimental treatment. Coming to take care of Max while his parents are away is his cousin from Canada, Alex. She is a headstrong young woman who is taking a year off after school to focus on writing a book. Things don’t go so smoothly in the days after Max’s parents depart for Minnesota though. They discover that the Tilt family’s financial situation is so bad that the house is going to be foreclosed on in three weeks, and to make matters worse the electric company just recently shut off the power! Max and Alex embark on a plan to round up as much stuff in the house as they can find, and then sell it online to help at least pay off the electric bill, and maybe take care of some other expenses. In the process of doing so, in a secret area of the attic, they discover a shrine devoted to Jules Verne, the long deceased, world famous author. The kids both know that they are related to him, but this find leaves them flabbergasted. They decide to sell the treasure chest they find amongst this shrine, and a buyer is lined up to arrive the next day. However, it’s the secret document hidden inside the chest that really ensnares them. This document, written by Jules Verne himself, hints at the fact that his book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was in fact no work of fiction. There may just have been a real Captain Nemo, a real Nautilus submarine, and a real live adventure surrounding those things! The note also explains that if the reader wishes to discover great fortune, while at the same time making sure a world threatening plot dreamed up by that same Captain Nemo all those years ago never sees the light of day, then they will have to embark on a journey of their own . . . a journey retracing some of the steps Jules Verne and the despicable Captain Nemo trail blazed back in the past. However, the next day when the buyer shows up for the chest the kids are confronted by one Spencer Niemand . . . a descendant of Captain Nemo himself! A desperate chase is then on, for Max and Alex to complete this journey and keep Niemand in the dark, so Max can use the fortune to save his mom and solve his family’s financial troubles, while also saving the world from Niemand’s horrible vision. But what hope do two kids have against a grown adult with the backing of his multi-million dollar corporation and all of it’s resources? This was an awesome read, so fast paced, full of adventure and intrigue and mystery, and of course a good dash of humour. Books that retrace history, whether it be mysteries of the real world or of fiction always pique my interest. That sense of mystery and anticipation, I love it, this series is going to be right up my alley I can tell. I know there are three books in it so far, whether that will be the total or there are more to come I’m not sure, but needless to say I am completely on board for the rest of this adventure!

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The movie we watched on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend was the second in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, called The Crimes of Grindelwald. The events of this film take place not that long after the those of the first movie, in 1927. The ministry of magic in New York is transferring the vile prisoner Grindelwald over to Europe so that he can be tried for his numerous crimes, but an escape attempt has been engineered and is successfully accomplished. Grindelwald lays low at first, sending out some of his agents to work on leading the young man Credence in to his presence, so that Grindelwald can ultimately lure him to his side. Grindelwald’s ultimate goal is to have magicians everywhere ruling the world, not seeing Muggles as fit to have a say in future events, and Credence is one of the keys to this future. In the meantime Newt Scamander, beast charmer extraordinaire, is doing his usual thing. Collecting, caring for, and cataloguing any sort of magical beastie he can get his hands on. He is soon summoned to the Ministry of Magic by his brother Theseus however, on the subject of having his international travel ban lifted (after the events of the first film, of course). The higher ups say they will indeed lift the ban . . . if Newt promises to work for them and head to Paris to track down Credence. Newt declines and upsets his brother, but Newt just plain refuses to choose sides in this brewing conflict. Later on at home his friend Jacob and his lady Queenie (Tina’s sister) arrive unexpectedly, but Newt feels as though something is off. He lifts some sort of love spell from Jacob that Queenie had put him under (because she is not allowed to associate with a Muggle and Jacob didn’t wanted to put her in danger). Afterwards they fight about their relationship with Queenie storming off. Newt is later approached by a young Albus Dumbledore and persuaded to travel covertly to Paris and do the job that the Ministry had originally asked of him. The rumour going around is that Credence is actually the long lost brother of Leta Lestrange (who is engaged to Newt’s brother), and the only one reputed to be able to kill Dumbledore. Grindelwald of course values Credence for this ability, while Albus and the Ministry very much don’t want that to come to pass and so want him on their side. Albus is helpless to confront Grindelwald directly because of a blood oath the two made when they were younger and in a relationship at Hogwarts. Newt finally agrees, and so he and Jacob are soon on their way to gay old Paris. Once in the city many things happen. Credence’s trail is picked up, having been forced to work at a circus of freaks and during this time having developed a friendship with a young woman capable of turning in to a snake . . . named Nagini (whaaaaaaaattttt!?!?). Newt and Jacob locate Tina and eventually clear up a misunderstanding that saw Tina believe Newt was the one marrying Leta and not his brother Theseus. Queenie gets recruited to Grindelwald’s forces. And Jacob gets some help and advice from a certain friend of Albus’ named . . . Nicholas Flamel (another whaaaaaaatttt!?!?). In the end forces good and bad are all drawn to a location where Grindelwald is having a rally, a rally that quickly turns disastrous for the good guys and will help spread Grindelwald’s cause across the globe. Will our intrepid heroes manage to turn this disadvantage around at all? Will they merely manage to survive the battle and regroup for the rest of the war? And what of the secret identity of Credence? This movie was great, I really enjoyed all of the twists and turns, mystery and intertwined fates and relationships. I love the tie-ins to the Harry Potter movies, what with Dumbledore factoring in pretty heavily, learning the backstory of Nagini, seeing the Mirror or Erised revisited, and also getting an actual glimpse at Nicholas Flamel. It seems as though this series is just ramping up, the war is now on. I’m not sure how many movies are planned to flesh the rest of this storyline out, but I’m totally on board!

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The movie we watched on the Sunday of the Mother’s Day weekend was none other than . . . The Penguins of Madagascar! We had really wanted to watch this after Jimmer played Kowalski in his Original Kids performance, plus we had attachments to the three kids that played the other Penguins, so it was hilarious to watch this adventure and imagine our four real penguins in their shoes. Anyways, the movie starts off with a brief sequence from the past, when the young penguin brothers Skipper, Kowalski and Rico are out on the tundra migrating with their fellow monochromatic fowl. When an egg goes rolling by though, and nobody thinks to go get it before something bad happens, the three brothers turn their backs on nature and go after it themselves! After a hair raising chase they manage to catch the egg, which then hatches, birthing them a new brother, who they dub Private. Skip ahead many years later and the four penguins are with the rest of their zoo buddies at the circus, after the events of Madagascar 3, although they soon depart and head to the facility at Fort Knox in order to raid the vending machine and get Private a bag of Cheese Dibbles for his birthday. However, upon doing so the four brothers are then abducted and taken to Venice, where their captor is revealed to be a world famous scientist named Octavius Brine. In truth though Brine’s countenance is just a disguise, for underneath lies . . . a purple octopus named Dave?!? Dave explains to Skipper and crew that he kept on getting kicked out of zoos around the world whenever the cute and cuddly penguins arrived and stole his thunder, rendering him unwanted and unloved by the public. And so this octopus, the evil genius that he is, has invented something called the Medusa Serum. It is a substance that, when exposed to all of the penguins he plans on capturing, will render them hideous monsters, leaving them unloved and unwanted by the public just as he was for so many years! Skipper and crew engineer an escape to the streets of Venice, and are rescued at the last second by a wolf and his associates, who work for a covert organization known as the North Wind. They don’t take the penguins and their abilities seriously though, and have them sent to one of their facilities in . . . Madagascar of all places! However, once again Skipper and crew engineer as escape from this latest situation and get down to business. Penguins all over the world have suddenly started to go missing in mass quantities, and they know it’s the work of their arch enemy Dave. Skipper feels it’s up to him and his brothers to save penguin kind, and so they set out to do so. However, North Wind is attempting to do the same. Seeing as the two factions don’t get along they not only have Dave and his octopus forces to contend with, but each other as well. And what about Private, who feels as though he is not a valued member of the team, more mascot than anything else? Maybe this mission will be his time to shine! This was a great movie, so lighthearted and funny, colourful and adventuresome. I’m so glad I finally got to watch it, we had a good laugh imagining Jimmer and his penguin theatre friends playing out the events of the movie . . . especially the butt slapping!!

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As the May 2-4 long weekend approached I took a couple of hours one night to watch a movie I’ve had on my shelf for a while now . . . Goon: Last of the Enforcers! This is a sequel to the original Goon movie, and it picks up at the start of a brand new season for the Halifax Highlanders. Pro hockey is going through a lockout so all eyes are on the minor league teams, meaning Doug “the Thug” Glatt and the rest of his teammates have a huge shot at getting noticed. However, in their opening game of the season against the Reading Wolfdogs, Doug is challenged to a fight by a psychopath named Anders Cain. Cain cheapshots Doug with a head-butt before the fight begins and he never manages to recover, getting beaten badly and injuring his right shoulder in the process, effectively forcing him to an early retirement. This doesn’t please his wife, Eva, but when she finds out she’s pregnant with their first child it will at least allow them to settle down and become a proper family, what with Doug not being in danger anymore and being away for stretches at a time on road trips. She even manages to get him a job at an insurance company . . . which he hates. Doug just can’t stay away from the ice. He approaches his old rival, Ross “the Boss” Rhea, who is out of hockey but currently the champion of a sideshow league that features hockey fighting only. Doug wants Ross to train him to fight with his left hand, and also to just become a better hockey player in general, and Ross finally agrees. While the weeks and months pass as Doug secretly trains with Ross, the Highlanders owner (Hyrum Cain) looks to shake things up since the team went on a massive losing skid after Doug left the team. He makes a trade for his own son, the aforementioned psychopath Anders Cain, which needless to say doesn’t sit well with the rest of the team. On the ice it’s not any better. Cain’s violent temperament cancels out any positives his skill brings to the table, and the Highlanders continue to flounder. Eventually though Doug and Ross are showcased in the fighting league’s next event, which takes place in the Highlanders’ home arena! Hyrum takes notice of both Doug and Ross, and together with the coaching staff decide to bring Doug back, assuming after his performance that he is healed up and good to go. And that is where things get interesting. Can Glatt and Cain coexist on the same team after what happened at the start of the season, doubly so seeing as how Cain is a psychopath? And what of Doug and Eva’s marriage and relationship, how will she react to Doug wanting to play again? It all culminates in an epic battle during the last game of the season, with the Highlanders on the brink of a playoff spot . . . just how will it all unfold? This was a great movie, so much violence and so much raunchy humour . . . two of my favourite things! And the talent involved is fantastic. Of course you’ve got two big actors in Sean William Scott and Liev Schreiber, as two of the leads. But then you’ve got some great Canadian content too with Jay Baruchel (who is the brainchild behind the whole series), Alison Pill and the delicious Elisha Cuthbert. And then of course there are some pro hockey players appearing in a lot of the scenes including Colton Orr, George Parros, Georges Laraque and Brandon Prust . . . and probably some others I missed that I didn’t recognize at the time. I assume there won’t be a third movie based on how this one ended, but I’m all in if it ever does come about!

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The movie we watched over the May 2-4 weekend was one I’d wanted to see for a long time, for sentimental reasons mostly, none other than Thunderbirds. This movie is based on a show I watched as a kid that was filmed with those marionette type of puppets and toy vehicles and what not, it was very cool. Click here to see the old show intro. Anyways, in this Hollywood update from 2004 a young man named Alan Tracy is attending a fancy boarding school, although his attention is focused on anything but his education. For he has a family secret, a big one. His father, a former astronaut named Jeff Tracy, leads a team known as the Thunderbirds! The Thunderbirds operate advanced machines to help mitigate disasters and save lives around the world, and Alan is desperately waiting in line to become the next member of the team. His four older brothers including Scott, John, Virgil and Gordon are already full-fledged members of the team and Alan is feeling as though his time will never come. However, his opportunity is much closer at hand than he thinks. Alan and his friend Fermat (son of the Thunderbirds main engineer, who is nicknamed “Brains”) are extracted from school early one day and flown back to top secret Tracy Island where the Tracy family lives, by an ally named Penelope Creighton-Ward and her butler Aloysius. At the same time the Thunderbirds are engaged in an operation to rescue some oil platform workers in the middle of the ocean, where a fire is threatening to blow them to kingdom come! During the rescue one of the oil workers fires some sort of a tracker at Thunderbird 1, afterwards we learn that this fellow’s boss will be using said tracker to hunt the Tracy’s down and dispatch them. This fiend, known as The Hood, has a vendetta against Jeff for not rescuing him during a past operation concerning a mine cave in. The Hood survived the ordeal and plans on making Jeff and his family suffer as much as he did. The Hood also has psychic abilities that make him a much more powerful foe than an ordinary human man would be. The Hood and his hench people track the Tracy’s to their secret island in his submarine and then launch a missile in to space, attacking Thunderbird 5, where Jeff’s son John is manning the space station. The plan works perfectly, enabling the Hood and his forces to move on the Tracy’s compound after the Thunderbirds scramble and take off to rescue John. That means the safety of the Tracy compound falls in to the hands of Alan, Fermat and Brains, along with a young girl named Tin Tin (her and her father Kyrano live and work on the island for Jeff, and Kyrano just so happens to be the Hood’s brother). What chance do a few young kids and an eccentric engineer have against a psychopath like the Hood and his vicious forces? And furthermore, just what are the Hood’s aims in taking over the Thunderbirds operation? This movie wasn’t received well, and I never imagined it would have been. These types of family films never impress the critics for some reason, once more proving that there is not really a use for “critics” in this world anymore anyways, not that there ever was if you ask me. To me Thunderbirds is a fast paced, lighthearted family film with lots of fun and adventure. Bill Paxton was a beaut, so it’s nice to see another one of his past works. It also featured a young Vanessa Hudgens as Tin Tin. And then of course the nostalgia factor for me was really high, as I really enjoyed the old Thunderbirds show when it was on TV.

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Over this past weekend that saw me up at the cottage I finished reading my latest book, a Star Wars title called Thrawn: Alliances. This story takes place during the height of the Empire, when Emperor Palpatine senses something in the Force . . . in particular a threat from out in the Unknown Regions. Wild Space, if you will. In order to investigate this unknown threat Palpatine brings in two of his most trusted top agents. Of course one of them is his right hand Sith, Darth Vader, for obvious reasons. Grand Admiral Thrawn is the other member of this pair, a slick thinking Chiss alien whose people actually live out in the Unknown Regions, thus giving him a bit of an advantage on the matter. The pair aren’t thrilled to be working together though. Vader questions Thrawn’s loyalty to the Empire, while Thrawn doesn’t appreciate Vader’s rash, aggressive, and usually violent way of dealing with situations. But work together they do as they head out to the Unknown Regions to try and ferret out whatever situation it is the Emperor got a sniff of. While this story is unfolding another side story is told as well, from many years prior to this adventure, during the Clone Wars. Chance happenstance bring Anakin Skywalker and Thrawn together on the planet Batuu. On the information discovered by one of her trusted friends and handmaidens, Padme Amidala heads to Batuu to investigate what is assumed to be some significant Separatist activity. However, when she doesn’t report in Anakin has to go searching for her and instead finds Thrawn, and after a hesitant introduction to each other they decide to work together as their ultimate goals seem to align somewhat. As these two adventures, separated by many years, unfold and evolve, parallels and contrasts are drawn between the two missions these powerful characters participated in, and how they each handled them. In the end both missions meet with success, but Vader is left with many questions when all is said and done. Is Thrawn indeed loyal to the Empire and not his own people, the Chiss? Does he suspect that Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are one and the same? And did he know all those years ago that Anakin and Padme were more than just colleagues? I found this to be a very interesting book, almost as if the story and events were secondary to the interplay between the two main characters, and how each influenced the other. I have a feeling that this story and some of it’s locales, like Batuu, are going to factor in to future Star Wars lore quite heavily. Overall this is a very interesting book, a little different than the usual Star Wars fare but none the less interesting and exciting.

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Over the last two months I’ve again had a couple of albums in heavy rotation on my stereo, the first of which is as classic as you can get . . . The Sex Pistols’ lone studio album dubbed Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols! The Sex Pistols are infamous for a number of reasons. After forming in the mid 1970’s they went on to release just the one aforementioned album in 1977, and it is perhaps the greatest punk rock album of all time. Fast, catchy, and wild power chords drive the backbone of their sound, and lying overtop it all is Johnny Rotten’s snide, sneering, attitude filled drawl, laying bare the problems facing the common folk of 1970’s Britain. They shocked the world with one of the singles from the album, called God Save the Queen, where they call her a fascist and “not a human being”, amongst lots of other stuff. Their behaviour and language was brash and crazy, one of the most entertaining interviews I’ve ever seen. And then of course there was their short stint together as the band broke up in 1978, followed by Sid Vicious’ death by heroin overdose after he allegedly murdered his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. All of the antics and craziness aside, this is one of the best albums ever recorded. It falls in to the category of if you were stranded on a remote island for the rest of your life and could only take ten albums with you, let’s say, this one would make the cut without a second thought. A masterpiece, truly. My favourite tracks on the record include “Liar”, “Problems”, “God Save the Queen”, “Seventeen” & “Sub-Mission”.

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The other album I’ve been listening to, and I’m sure you’ve probably picked up on the theme by now if you’ve read my last few blogs, is Megadeth’s fourth studio album called Rust in Peace. Released in 1990 this album is popularly considered one of their best, and it is quite brilliant. Despite the lineup changes the band has gone through over the years (there were two new members on this album alone) I have always found their sound quite consistent. This fourth album of the band’s early career was every bit as good as their previous three releases, and continued the early metal masters’ ascent to the top of the metal heap. The only difference I noticed with this album versus the three that came before it is some different vocal styles from Dave Mustaine on a few of the songs, and a lot more backing vocals from the other members of the band. Whatever the case it’s definitely another masterpiece! My favourite tracks on the album include “Holy Wars . . . the Punishment Due”, “Hangar 18”, “Tornado of Souls” & “Rust in Peace . . . Polaris”.

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