Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Well Christmas has come and gone and in short time the New Year will begin. It looks quite promising as I noted in my posts last week. This year has been pretty solid for me and I am sure that the upcoming year will be just as equally filled with excitement and joy as well. I have something new, cool and unique to share with you all today. I got my video camera last week and thanks to this I was able to capture some very candid (and groggy) family footage of Christmas 2009 with the Colemans'. I hope that you enjoy these. Thanks for watching.

"Let the Fun Begin..." Part 1: As Christmas 2009 begins some of us are arriving and some are just trying to make it to the kitchen for our first cup of coffee. See our beautiful tree and the artistry of our wrapped gifts beneath it.

"Let the Fun Begin..." Part 2: More rugged footage as Christmas 2009 continues, recorded by Mikey and Merissa. Has footage of everybody, including Coco, D'Argo and Jasper. Very funny footage of Mom dancing, Shawn half asleep and Mikey telling what he got for Christmas before arriving at the house. BTW, Terrie does not like being on camera and I think I am a bit of a camera ham.

"The Presents Are Opened..." Part 1: My attempt to take footage of the presents being handed out did not go so well although I did get these three short clips. This one has grandpa Perry with a gift, mother with a gift and Mikey and Merissa with a Santa Hat on.

"The Presents Are Opened..." Part 2: Another gift opening clip. The lighting is not so great in this one but it does contain a couple worthwhile moments.

"The Presents Are Opened..." Part 3: Dad receives his five disc George Formby CD set. Would have been better had I not had a huge golden bag thrust at me near the end so I could have wrapped up the recording more smoothly, but such is the nature of home video. (As opposed to vBlogging itself, which is far less predictable I would imagine.)


At any rate, I hope that these snips and clips bring to life the warmth, laughter and joy that always surrounds the holiday seasons within my family's home. Feel free to leave comments or to respond with a video or link to footage or writing about your own holiday memories for 2009. Thank you for reading and watching. May the joy of the season carry through into the new year for you and yours. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2010 -- A Year In Preview...

My last article was about what happened last year. In this article, I will talk about some of the things that I am hoping for or looking forward to as the new year creeps up upon us.

1. Video Camera: I do realize that I am likely going to be buying this in the next week or two, but I still count it as something that is going to play a big role in the upcoming year. I am debating between all of the various pocket camcorders and trying to figure out which one I want most. I will be putting up an article on this shortly.

2. Great winter / spring games: There is a lot of cool stuff coming out in the next few months. Mass Effect 2, Bioshock 2 and Final Fantasy XIII are the games I am most excited about right now.

3. Pokemon HeartGold / SoulSilver: I realize that I just listed a ton of games, but I wanted to list this one separately because (a) it is a Nintendo DS game, and (b) it has a neat little gimmick to it by ways of a Poke-Pedometer that will level your Pokemon and give you points you can use to unlock new stuff for them by walking. This little divice is going to be one of the gadgets that I will be using to haul my ass out the door this spring, and hopefully I can get Jay to do this along with me.

4. WoW: Cataclysm: Yet again, another game. I am counting this separately as it is WoW and I do not have anything resembling a release date for it yet. I have a love / hate relationship with WoW. It can either be fun or it can be a pain. It can also help Jay ahd I, or it can hurt us. Which way will Cataclysm go? Only time will tell.

5. Going to Florida (again): If I do go it could be really interesting, or it could be really boring. No Shawn? (Possibly) no Grandma? And Jay does not feel he could get the money and / or time off of work? I love my parents, but I am very torn over whether me going would be better, or whether letting the two of them go and have the equivelant of the honeymoon they never got might be a better call. We shall see.

2009 -- A Year In Review...

Well its that time of year again. The holidays are just around the corner, and after that we will be entering a new year. With that in mind, I decided that this is as good a say as any to give my "review" of things that have happened in the last year and how I feel about them. No, this is not a tribute to Michael Jackson. Nor is it a recounting of who won at this year's academy awards. Rather, it is the highlights and lowlights about my 2009 from how I experienced it. Feel free to write your own and link it in the comments if you wish.

The Good Stuff:

1. Wizard 101: I love this game. Its fun, relaxing and has a whimisical art style that I really enjoy. The gameplay is a mix between an MMO, a turn based RPG and a collectable trading card game. There is lots to do, including questing, having pets, crafting, decorating a house and playing mini games. $9.99 per month, or $6.95 each for two or more accounts linked together.

2. Going to Florida: It was nice to see Florida again, as I had not been there since I was 11 or 12. Going with my parents was a lot different then going with my grandma and grandpa when I was younger, but it was still a fun adventure and a way to get away from my normal routine. (Although I did miss Jay.)

3. Jay's Visits: So far there have been three of these and we are working toward the next one now, and hoping it will be before I go to Florida again (if I do go again). Meeting person to person, as opposed to via the internet, has definately added strength and foundation to our relationship, moving it past being merely an "online thing". My family actually recognizes that he is real and legitimate. Fun or funny memories include randomly deciding to bake a cake together at 9 p.m., going to see "Taken" and "Star Trek" in theatres, sharing our first kiss (this is a public blog -- that is all you guys are getting from me!) and discovering quirky or amusing habits about the other that cannot be found via a computer.

4. Terrie & Merissa: I usually think my brothers choose idiots to date, but I get along perfectly fine with Terrie and her (now 5-year-old) daughter, Merissa. Most of my socializing takes place online. Its nice to make new friends who are local though.

5. Games -- Small Number, High Quality: There were not a ton of games out this year that I wanted, but I seemed to have the golden touch all the same. The games that I did want -- with regards to Xbox 360, anyway! -- tended to be good games. The ones that spring most quickly to mind are Brutal Legend, Dragon Age: Origins and Borderlands.

6. iPod Touch: Yes, I actually broke down and spent $300+ on an iPod Touch. And I am very happy with my purchase, and it is doing quite a splendid job of keeping me amused and coming up with small ways to break up random bordom. It now has its own hot pink & silver headphones with gel covers (making my ears not hurt) and a hot pink semi-clear case, making it look cute & feminine. All it needs at this point is a car kit, a car charger and a wall charger so that it will be ready to travel.

THe Bad:

1. Muffy had to be put to sleep: Muffy II, my grandmother's adorable yorkie-poo, had to be put to sleep as he was being diagnosed with multiple medical conditions and he was in a great deal of pain. Take care of grandpa with Baby, Belle, Bandit, Cuddles and Muffy 1 for us, little buddy.

2. PlayStation 3 Woes: When will I learn to say "No."? (Or perhaps just listen to Jay a little more often -- heaven forbid! :p ) I spent over $1,000 on my PS3 in games, console and accessories... Only to have it taken by my brother for $100 because he does not have any other form of entertainment and "I don't need it.". Will I ever get a new one? I am not sure. I *hate* repeat purchasing things. I really do need to decide, though, because if I don't plan to I could always use the trade in value of my PS3 games to get something else. (DSi or Xbox 360 upgrades, anyone?)

3. Throwing up in the van: This one was just totally gross. For two weekends in a row during October, I woke up feeling sick to my stomach and vomited without any real logical reasons. Not life threatening, as it has not continued. Just a little gross and embarrassing.

4. Modern Warfare 2: Huge waste of money. Call of Duty games just seem to ooze rotten luck for me though. I am really not a fan of the franchise at this point. (I was neutral on it before.) Forcing me to listen to guys try to guess the size of my boobs (among other stupid things) is not a good way to keep my business, ActiVision.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Champions Online loses my support. Details Inside!

I have been following the progress of Cryptic's new MMORPG, Champions Online, for the last six to nine months. It looked very promising on paper. You use thousands of options to create your own unique superhero and then explore Millenium City and beyond. It was one of the top three MMOs that I was currently anticipating -- to the extent that I had not even looked at its competitor, DC Universe Online, for a moment. My Xbox clan was going to get it together; it was a complete no-brainer. Right?

Well... Right up until Cryptic decided, for whatever reason, to drop a nerf-nuke the size of Canada on the game's launch day and completely split the player community as if the game had been hit by a socio-political earthquake. From what I have read, the amount of health possessed by and damage done by all enemies was doubled and an across the board percentile nerf made all but the most min/maxed character builds utterly useless. This is bad when you consider that the largest allure that Champions Online had was that you would be able to make *your* character, even going so far as to forgo a class system for a skill based system to add further freedom.

The hardcore v.s. casual debate has reached boiling point and beyond on their forums and the reviews on are absolutely abysmal. As someone who tends to teeter very much in the midle of the two broader definitions I must examine a game from my own perspective and know what I want from it. I can handle additional challenge. I can handle having to make currency in a game for multiple hours to get what I want there. I recognize that MMOs must have a gimmick that will ensure that I keep paying. What I cannot understand is the complete disruption of the actual premise that was making me look forward to the game. In essence it seems that Cryptic was so concerned about min/maxers abusing the skill system that they created classes and have left us to figure out what those are. That is not what I wanted from this game.

Therefore, I am not going to be rushing to test it out. If my clan on Xbox Live does eventually get the game when and if it releases on the Xbox 360 I will likely get it. But I am no longer curious what is happening to it or anything of that such. Not only were the nerfs given without warning, they were also done after people had paid for 6 month and lifetime subsriptions. Clearly Cryptic is an underhanded company. Even if I do end up being Rope(r)ed into playing this by my friends I will certainly be reading all the fine print before I attach the game to my gamertag.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Adventures in Toyland...

So my brother's girlfriend, Terri, has a little girl and she is going to be turning five this weekend. I went through university to become a teacher and -- surprise! -- I really enjoy kids. I also love toys. So I have been researching the latest toy trends so that I will have some idea about what Marissa (the little girl in question) will want. I have found some great new toys that I am sure will be a hit at the birthday party we are throwing her. And I found one that I will definately *not* be buying but which had a review so funny that I just had to link you all to it so you can laugh too. :D So anyway, here we go...

The Good: (i.e. things I might buy):

1. Webkinz: I love these. They are totally adorable, they are educational, they are multi-purpose toys since they have an offline and online component. Not only will she get her very own pet (I am showing her the Webkinz site this evening to see which pet(s) interest her) that she can cuddle with while watching TV or take to school for show and tell but that pet also doubles as a virtual pet on that she will be able to feed, play with, decorate a home for and play mini-games to get more items for. It is an excellent community for kids that monitors what is being said either through excluding bad words or things that could allow the giveaway of personal info, or by allowing her parents to give her a "canned" chat where she can choose from pre-constructed phrases. Further, I could also get her a Webkinz jr pet instead as everything on the Webkinz Jr. site is voiced over.

2. Dora the Explorer stuff: I already got her a Dora pencil case (almost time to go back to school) and I know my parents want to get her a Dora backpack and lunch bag. I am also hoping to find a Dora t-shirt for her too. I may also get her a pair of jeans to go with that. We'll see.

3. Wizard 101 account: I already have one and this is a side-gift so what I am doing is letting her make her own wizard on my account. The big pluses about this are (a) I can pass money to her wizard, (b) the entire game is voiced, (c) its another kid-friendly game, and (d) since I already have the account its just going to get the account more use for the $10 a month that I pay to own it.

4. Art supplies: What little kid can resist art supplies? Construction paper, kid-safe scissors, kid-safe glue-stick, crayons, stickers... The Dollar Store should have most of these assorted goodies (except the stickers, which I have brand new here at the house). Also need to buy her a good quality (hopefully pink!) pencil sharpener to go with the pencil crayons my parents got her.

THe Bad / Very Ugly (Who came up with this?!)

This is just plain disturbing and the toy does actually exist. There is no WAY I would let a kid play with this if I had one and there is even *less* way I would give this to someone else's child as a gift. Whoever developed the concept for this toy should be investigated for possession of child pornography. Whoever approved the design and manufactoring of this toy should be banned from the toy industry all together. The things people will not come up with... This definately takes the cake on the most "ballsy" toy I have seen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TROLL TIME: "This Thread Already Exists!"

I am a huge fan of discussing things on forums. Whether it is game design, shopping for a new gadget, learning to make tripple chocolate brownies or getting dating advice... Forums rock! Or at the least they do if people are actually allowed to write in them. Unfortunately there is a phenominon that plagues the forum writing community. "This already exists!". There is nothing that pisses me off on forums more then this. If you wanted to run an FAQ site you should have made one. Its really that simple.

Now don't get me wrong... If something is being repeated again and again that is causing "flame wars" I can understand this. But that sort of topic should only be had on a debate forum anyway. Topics that I see get this issue a lot that do not generally deserve it are polls "Is game A or game B better?" and "Should I buy...?" threads. I get it: some people work their behinds off writing excellent guides on making certain purchases. And its great that they do. But that does not, and should not, give those people the right to feel that they are the sole authority on said subject henceforth through eternity.

There are three very interesting topics I have been following on forums this month: advice for my upcoming PS3 purchase, research on Sims 2 vs.s Sims 3, and comparisons between InFAMOUS and Prototype. In my reading I have come across two "This already exists!" retorts. One was actually on my own PS3 advice thread on and the other was on a Prototype v.s. InFAMOUS poll on IGN. It was nice of the gentlemen who commented on my thread to link me to his advice column -- it had some good video links that were quite handy -- but I was rather shocked at his insistance that I post nothing more about the topic without first consulting his thread first. Get. Over. Yourself. !!!

There are reasons that certain topics are going to be repeated a thousand times over on certain types of forums. There are always going to be "I am buying XYZ system -- Advice?" threads on a gaming forum. Its as certain as the sun rising in the east. I think that the poster on GameSpot did have a good idea having a guide for mundane things like system types, necessary v.s. unnecessary accessories, history of the console in question, getting started, etc. I do not think telling me not to post again was a wise move in increasing his (or her, I am asuming its a guy since I was on a gaming forum. Ironic since I am a woman, I know.) reputation or that of his guide.

The problem with autocratic and static guides being the only permitted method of getting information on something is that you lose the human aspect and are unable to ask questions you might want to get answered in contexts that are specific as an individual. I do not need some game-guru wannabe using a mass discussion platform to try and pretend they know everything. If I want a singular opinion on something from a professional reviewer I will go look up a review of whatever I want on, or I will just hop onto YouTube.

So, how could we fix the problem? First off, if there are good guides that a forum has on something like this that they want people to refer to those should be stickied at the top of the board, they should be clearly labelled and they should be well written. Second, if such a guide is going to be a manditory source of information then it needs to be updated accurately and quickly when changes happen and it needs a Last Updated specification. Lastly, while encouraging users to use the guide should be important, paying attention to what they write and its specifics should never be pushed to the wayside. It is annoying to have 100 topics on the same thing. But if everything on a forum becomes a "check this guide" reference then we no longer have a forum.

Thank you for reading. How do you feel about repeated topics on forums? Do you have a solution? Discuss!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Where the Hell is Bioshock 2?

I did not know what I would end up wanting to buy once E3 rolled around. I often use E3 as my tool to see what is up for grabs and that usually works very well. This year has been exceptionally quiet for fall -- although spring is looking very loud. The one game that I know I am buying -- and the one game I was most looking forward to viewing at E3 -- was Bioshock 2. So the question is... Where is it? I cannot believe that I have seen no new footage or information for the game. Yes, it is coming out November 3rd. Yes, there is a wonderful demo and a strong interview for the game on YouTube (that I watched prior to E3) but nothing new has popped up. Grr...

Anyway, since E3 is not giving the game any love then I suppose that I will be compiling all the Bioshock videos I have found onto this blog post for your viewing pleasure. You may have seen these before, or you may not have. Feel free to check them out either way. I will be updating if I do find any new details about the game. Enjoy!

Bioshock 2 Demo: Hunting the Big Sister

Bioshock 2 Trailer: Dream

Bioshock 2 Gamespot Interview

E3 2009: Sony Press Conference

Sony and I have been at war this generation. It did not start out that way. I had every intention of buying a PS3 without a second thought when announcements of the new consoles came out. But Sony's reps started sounding too cocky, and I started wanting to play Oblivion. So I went ahead and got an Xbox 360, figuring that since Sony's console release was still a ways off I could just get one later. Then I read that a Sony rep stated (basically) that Sony could sell dogshit in a bag and their customers would buy it. I was infuriated and I decided that Sony needed to be taught humility and a respect for their customers. So I bought a Wii (which I wanted anyway) instead.

Fastforward to 2009. I am not a huge fan of the Wii (see my "Nintendo" activle) and Microsoft's fall lineup is looking rather quiet. My best friend, RJ, just got a PS3 and is encouraging me to join him and "expand my options as a gamer". It has been three years now. Sony has (seemingly) learnt a few lessons in that time. So I will be paying attention to what the PS3 can offer me this year as a potential buyer. In short, their E3 conference will be playing a large role in my ultimate decission. Check back soon to read my discoveries from Sony's presentation. Right now, its time to go and watch it.

Final Fantasy XIII

Yesterday witnessed the first viewing of Final Fantasy XIII being played on an Xbox 360. It was an exciting and historic moment for Xbox fans everywhere. But today, Square Enix shared a much deeper trailer for the PS3 version of the game, filled with many interesting new faces that I am sure we will grow fond of in the future and asking many questions to which I am sure any Final Fantasy fan will be itching to find answers for. Here is the trailer that was released at the conference.

Final Fantasy XIV... ONLINE?!

(As a quick aside: Jay, I can see you cringing. Stop! *hug*)

Yes, you read that right. In 2010 Square Enix plans to release not one but two Final Fantasy games. The first is the much anticipated Final Fantasy XIII which is suppose to release in the spring. But wait... There's more. At Sony's press conference it was announced that Final Fantasy XIV will also be releasing in 2010. This was followed by a trailer for the game, which you can view below.

As much as I love Final Fantasy, this is the game that stole E3 2009 in my opinion. Its new, its exciting and its innovative. The fact that this will let me design any character, any car, and any track my little heart desires. The best part is that all of this stuff can be shared with family and friends. The design is very fun and enjoyable: its old school kart-racer gaming. Yes, that means crazy driving, weapons, launchers, stompers, etc. and more. The video below took me half an hour to find but I am delighted to share it as I was quite honestly stunned by what I saw here. Tell me what you think. Enjoy!

The Last Guardian

I am not 100% sure whether I will buy this game. Why? Because I am not 100% sure I would be able to play this game. But the art style looks cool and the critter your character is with looks so cute that I could not resist posting it here and giving my support. Take a look at the trailer and decide what you think.

Sony's New Motion Controller

Everybody is getting in on the motion control gig it seems. Yesterday we saw Microsoft unvail Natal. Today Sony is unveiling their new motion sensing controller that works (if I understand correctly) in conjunction with the EyeToy. The actual level of control and the focus on how this could actually effect specific "hardcore" games are definately this new system's strengths. For me personally my biggest concern is whether I will physically be able to use this and whether it will be optional, manditory or game-specific once it enters the market. (This is especially important for me regarding my purchasing decission.) Only time will tell how this project will pan out for Sony. Want to see this for yourself? Check out a video:

All in all I feel that Sony had a good solid showing at E3 2009. They did not surpass Microsoft in innovation in my opinion (which is likely biased based on the fact that I am unsure how the new Sony tech will work for me.) But I do feel that Sony had a very strong showing with regard to games. There is a lot more adventure and RPG stuff here, as opposed to the majority of FPS fare shown by Microsoft. There is nothing "wrong" with FPS but they are not my favorite genre.

E3 2009: Nintendo Press Conference

I like Nintendo. My first game console was the original NES. We had Mario, Fester's Quest, Pinbot, Final Fantasy 1... Good memories. I love Nintendo DS. I don't spend as much time with it as I use to, since I own an Xbox 360 and I love social gaming. But I still pick up a game for that system here and there. The DS broadened my interest in gaming and I have a lot of respect for that system for that reason. The Nintendo Wii has been a large disappointment for me. I really wanted to like it and hoped it would be somewhat a console equivelant of the DS. It is not. Why? Because I do not have the ability to use a Wiimote and a Nunchuk at the same time for medical reasons.

So if it seems I am going a little too hard on Nintendo today, please recognize (as always) that this blog focuses on what is of value to me. Nintendo is a great company and did much good for gaming. But since I cannot play their main console my current views of them are not necessarily the most favorful. I wanted to be upfront and disclose my bias so that it will not color the judgement of my readers.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

I did not get to catch a video of this until just now since I decided to spend time with Jay and skip part of the Nintendo conference (good choice -- I missed a lot of the marketing mumbo-jumbo that I don't care about.) I also missed hearing about this game, but thankfully IGN's Nintendo Recap gave me a good guideline to use about which games I would likely have wanted to see. I am a huge DS fan and a huge fan of RPGs so this fit the list. I will try to get more details but for now you can check the trailer right here.

Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Yet again, this is one of the games that I missed. I still need to get Phantom Hourglass, but I still stand by my belief that playing zelda with a stylus would probably go over very good for me. Anyway, the video that is shown here looks pretty cool and this is another game that I may need to keep an eye on in the future.

New Super Mario Brothers Wii

This. Looks. Awesome. Remember what I was saying about not hating the Wii but being frustrated that I have trouble with some games? Well this looks like it should be a joyously comfortable fit for me. You flip the Wiimote to act like an old school controller. With modern TVs (either me 37" one or my parents 42" one) and four player coop with competitive stats, this shows major promise and looks very fun. Care to see more? Check out a video:

Other Interesting Things

Do not let the smaller number of videos here fool you. Nintendo did show some other interesting things, noteably Metroid Another M and Super Mario Galaxy 2. As I stated at the beginning of my article, I am sticking to stuff that I can actually play. Galaxy is a no in the hugest way (my brother bought me the first one and it was BAD with me playing it.) and the second is fairly dicey, although it is interesting to see Nintendo collaborating with Team Ninja. Overall Nintendo seemed to have a pretty good conference. Oh wait, there was one more thing I wanted to show you...

Wii Vitality Sensor

I think my pulse went up when I saw how far some people are willing to go in order to make money. And I think if I can't sleep this video would definately do the trick. Sorry if I sound harsh here, but really... What will they think of next? Don't believe me? Think I am pulling your leg? If you can see through your tears this will show you that I am being 100% serious...

Monday, June 1, 2009

E3 2009: Microsoft Press Conference

Many big things went down at the Microsoft Press Conference, which took place today at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at 10:30 a.m. PST this morning. Below I am going to cover some of the highlights that I personally found interesting. To view the full conference I recommend that you check out, or and look for their E3 coverage sections.

Rock Band: The Beatles

I have been a huge Beatles fan since shortly before my first year of university (yes, it took that long!) and I was both thrilled and delighted to see a game of this nature being released. This is definately getting added to my wishlist. Among the comments made regarding this game were that "All You Need Is Love" will be available for purchase on Xbox Live with all proceeds going to Doctors without Borders, that there are 45 songs that are included on the actual game disc and that entire albums by the Beatles will be available for download and purchase for the game, starting with Abbey Road. A further interesting surprise was the fact that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were actually at E3 to show their support for the game. Here is a video showing gameplay and revealing ten of the forty-five included tracks. Enjoy!

Final Fantasy XIII -- Playing On Xbox 360!

Yes, yes, yes! Not only does this look awesome, it looks very fun. Apparently it is currently aiming for a spring 2010 release but my money is still on a 2010 winter release knowing how Final Fantasy tends to work. Here is a video with some combat that was shown at Microsoft's conference:

Joy Ride

This looks like it will be cute, fun and charming. You get to take your avatar for the ride of its life in a vehicle that you can chose different things about. I do not know a great deal about this yet but it looked like it could show promise for having some casual fun. Here is a nice little video of the trailer included at the conference. I wish that I could have found a video with the spoken introduction but that was, unfortunately, not possible.

Other Goodies...

In addition to many other games shown, Microsoft also announced that a partnership with will be coming to the 360 and that a new video / TV service will allow more people then ever to take advantage of the console's multimedia functions. Further, there are plans to add social networking via Facebook and Twitter. Looks like I will need to update the former more more often, and get an account with the latter. No point in letting good tech go to waste.

Natal: The Future of Gaming(?) Awaits...

The Final announcement from Microsoft's conference confirmed two suspected rumors: a camera focused on motion gaming, and a presentation of a new project by Lionhead Studios' Peter Molymeux. First we will look at Natal itself.

So, what is it? It is a full body motion camera, complete with face and voice recognition. Don't believe me? Just check out the video below. As the presentation claims: You are the controller!

But what does Mr. Molymeux have to do with all of this, you might ask? Plenty! It seems that Lionhead have had access to the technology for several months now and what they have managed to do with it is quite astounding. Prepare yourself: this may feel like you have stepped into the pages of a science fiction novel. Also, please note that this is (at least currently) a demo to my understanding, so do not attempt to judge what you are about to see as a complete product.

*shiver* Tell me that is not the most -insane- thing you have ever seen?! Is Natal a Wii clone? Definately Not. I dunno about you, but I have never seen the Wii do stuff like that. So, guys... What do you think? I look forward to hearing your opinions. Stay tuned! Tomorrow I will be writing about Sony and Nintendo's conferences. I will also try and find a way to view EA's conference so that I can get e3 2009 information about Mass Effect and The Old Republic.

I hope that you have enjoyed my coverage of Microsoft's 2009 E3 conference!

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Trip to The Rock

I got to go to The Rock yesterday. What's that? Well, its the new Christian bookstore that opened about 5 - 10 minutes from my house. Its a short drive but its out of the way and too far for me to walk to, unfortunately for me (and quite fortunately for my purse!) I had a lot of fun and got quite a few new books that I am starting to spend some time with now. So, what did I get? Take a look below:

My first instant grab was Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. I own another copy of this; I think it is out at camp along with The Case for Faith but just incase those have animal droppings or anything on them over the winter, I figured "Why not?". I only paid $6.50 for it. Its not as large as my old copy (the larger version was $16.50 and I bought a lot) but it will do. I did not get to get any more Lee Strobel since the only other book by him that the store had in stock was "Unequally Yoked", which is about being with someone who does not share your faith. I already realize the problems with that issue and do not need them repeated, thanks! (Especially when Jay's
not the problem to begin with.)

Next on my list was to see what the store had in stock by Liz Curtis Higgs. They had Bad Girls of the Bible and Really Bad Girls of the Bible. I own both of those and like them. They also (yay!) had a copy of Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible which is a set of in-depth character portraits of Sarai (later Sarah), Hagar, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel. I am already a good hundred pages into this book and am enjoying it thoroughly. Then again, I was pretty confident on this one since I have purchased stuff by this author before and tend to love
her work.

Next on my wanted list was The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartin. Prayer has always been the out of tune string for me with regard to Christianity and I figured that if I am going to be trying to connect with God that is something I need to work on. So while I was at it I grabbed her Power of a Praying Woman Bible. Love the book, LOATHE the bible. I have nothing against the NIV translation -- and in all actuality it will be GREAT when I go to do my comparison with The Bible Experience (when I *eventually* (SIGH) get that.) What is wrong with it then? First off... NEVER again will I get a bible that is hardcover. It is already having issues that my leatherbound CEV one I have owned nearly 10 years does not have. Also, I am kinda meh about the normal print in the book, and I *HATE* the way that the purple on white / violet background with white text works. It seems to fade in and out and makes reading the passages by the author -- the REASON for the new Bible(!?!?!?!) -- practically illegable. ARGH. I will NEVER understand why so many Bibles are in bubble wrap. I felt hideous making the lady open it and did not notice the purple on its pages until it was too late. Ew.

Next up was an easy choice for me: The Love Dare. I had kicked myself for nearly two months that I did not grab this on my trip to Florida since it was in practically every WalMart. But I did not grab the novel it ties to (FireProof, which is excellent, btw.) until the ride home. Returning to Canada, guess how many copies of The Love Dare I found in the last week? Zip, up until yesterday. But I have it now so I guess that is alright. I know Jay and I are not quite at THAT point yet but I am still enjoying it and you know... it is pointing out something to me. Being a good person does not make me weak or a pushover or mean that I am asking for trouble. It paid for itself with that revelation. Now I need to learn to live that like I mean it.

Next on my list of purchases was The Greatest Life of All: Jesus by Charles Swindoll. This seemed like a good idea since I am doing a study of the gospels right now and the books in his series of character portraits (forgive me if that sounds horrifically crass! I am speaking strictly as a writer here!) received excellent reviews from I figured that studying his book on Jesus might add some more flesh to the study that I am currently doing. (And hopefully I will succeed in getting The Bible Experience, which will add even more layers for me.) Have not gotten to really start this yet but I am quite excited about it.

The last two books that I bought were recommended to me by the shopkeeper. One is "God's Trophy Women" by Jacilene Jakes and the other is My Utmost for His Highest which is a daily devotional. I wish that I had done more homework on these areas before going to the store (and that Shawn had not been whimpering about being stuck there for twenty minutes -- although I guess it is sort of cruel to drag an athiest to a Christian bookstore. At any rate, I am not sure whether I will end up warming up to these two or not.

Why? The book by Jakes does not really seem to be focusing on any form of active teaching. She seems more interested in retelling stories from the lives of other women. I did not need a book on how other Christian women have done it -- I need things that are going to enable *me* to do this. I went through quite a complicated mess in high school thanks to a grade 12 english teacher's (very uncouth, for the record!) subliminal pagain propaganda and I am trying to fix a lot of brainwashing.

As for the devotional... I just don't *feel* it. The lady got it in her head that I needed a large print devotional since I explained to her that I needed a large print Bible (why couldn't she get it right? *sigh* Obviously I did not communicate well enough -- I am sure she meant well.) At any rate, I do not really feel that I am getting anything out of this book that I have. I do not feel like it is really tackling anything that I care about or that I am concerned about. Maybe its a problem with me? I don't really know, to be completely honest.

Overall I am relatively pleased with my visit to The Rock and I look forward to going there again. Next time I will be more prepared and know what I am looking for before I step through those doors though. Ah well... I still have a "shopping trip" on Amazon to do and am still over my budget so I can do some damage control if I really want to.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

REVIEWED: Bride Wars

The Plot: Lifelong friends Liv and Emma have both shara common dream their entire lives: having their own dream wedding at the Plaza Hotel. As each of them is proposed to and accepts they book an appointment with a well respected wedding planner and each get a date for their ceremony at the Plaza. All is going well until a scheduling mistake happens, causing their weddings to have been booked on the same day. Now only one question remains: which will give up her dreams of a Plaza wedding and reschedule somewhere else? Neither is willing, and thus Bride Wars ensues.

While I realize that the plot is highly unrealistic and over the top I stilled thoroughly enjoyed Bride Wars. It is a comedy so a certain amount of suspension of disbelief has to be permitted to really "get it". Interestingly, though, there is a lot more to the movie then the hilarious snippets shown in the trailers. Overall I was quite impressed.

Characterization: This is a comedy so a ton of depth is not really expected. I think that what happens to the characters *as* characters (as opposed to the actual 'bride wars' stuff) is very interesting though. Overall I think that the movie hit on something of real depth in the parallels and contrasts that occur between Liv and her fiance (names are eluding me here!) and Emma and hers. My one big issue with all of this is the "bow tie" scene and what it eventually leads to. While it was a crucial part of the movie's resoluton, I wonder if there might have been a better way to give it more of a connection to the overall story.

Packaging: This is where Bride Wars tripped over its own heels for me. There was no inclusive booklet telling me the scene names (or anything else for that matter) which is something I'd expect when paying $9.99 for a movie -- not $23.99. Further, there was only one featurette and three deleted scenes. While this does not actually impact the movie itself, what it tells me is that the marketing team behind it did not care and did not take the project -- and thus in turn its target audience -- very seriously. Bad form!

Overall: I think that Bride Wars earns 4 stars out of 5 for me.

Haven't heard of Bride Wars? Check out the trailer below!

A Few Cool WoW Images...

This first image is of Katallina and her pet pig, Mr. Wiggles. I got Mr. Wiggles for Katallina as a prize during Children's Week
on World of Warcraft when I completed the Human Orphan questline. I also did the Draenei Orphan quest line to get "Peanuts" an Elekk. He is cute too.

This achievement is for making bunniesin the event Nobles Garden in WoW. I had a little help from Jay on this one. ;)

This image shows Jay and I got for completing Children's Week.
We got our Matron (me) and Patron (him) achievements. There was some tough PVP involved but we did it. Go us!

Here is an image of Twylla and Manaki. These are our low level Horde characters that we play when we just want to goof
around and explore. Don't they look cute together? <3>

WANTED: Lullaby by Jewel

I have been following this for a while now and it has finally released today. I am very anxious to get a copy of it. Don't let the fact that "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Brahms Lullaby" are on this fool you -- this is not only for infants. The album is being promoted as being "remnicent of ... Pices of You. " This is a very good thing, and the samples that I have checked out around the net definately back up this fact. This is the best way to hear Jewel, in my opinion. Excellent vocal, good lyrics and simple, clean musical accompanyment that works with the vocal rather then trying to shield some type of preceived imperfection. Oh, and I am even more hyper to see that it is on sale for $8 brand new on ($7 on Are you looking to get a copy?

Click here.

I am also including a video that I found on YouTube that has a bunch of the samplers on it. Feel free to take a peek! You might like this!

Let me know what you think. :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

How About A Hamster?

" Isn't she cute? "

I have been considering whether I would like to get a hamster. Jay has one (it is a dwarf hamster named Jet.) and he seems to enjoy that. We talked about it today and he said that looking after Jet is relatively easy and that watching him play and playing with him is fun. Well, I have Coco and D'Argo and they are awesome. Would they eat my new friend? Also, my right wrist is incapable of twisting normally -- would I have trouble holding my pet? And of course there is the challenge of actually having my parents let me get one. That ought to be fun.

But I have started researching. It seems that hamsters come in three broad varieties: Syrian, which are the larger ones. Dward, which are the smaller ones. And Chinese which are smaller but more mellow then the dwarf ones. Within those there are other variations but I am going to keep this simple here. Apparently, Syrian hamsters are 100% solitary and each one owned needs its own cage. Dwarf and Chinese hamsters can be in pairs or groups provided that you get the bunch at the same time.

I am still not 100% sure which species that I want to buy. I think I want my hamster to be brown, which likely rules out the Winter White Dwarf hamster. Nothing against that breed -- its just that Coco is white and D'Argo is black so a brown hamster seems like it would be unique. I think that there are steps that I need to take before I can really think of going and getting my new pet though. Those are as follows:

1) Get a book on hamsters so that I can research them properly. This may cause me to choose between the larger Syrian variety and the smaller Dwarf counterparts.

2) Go to a pet store and look at / hold different hamsters to see what it is like. Do I like them as much up close as I do in pictures? They look cute but closer evaluation might prove they are not right for me at all. I need to know this before I buy one.

3) Find out how much different things cost. How much is a good cage (I want a quality one -- not some $10 piece of crap!). How much are toys? Treats? A hamster ball? A stand-alone wheel? A hamster house? Food? Vitamin additions for water? The list goes on and on. And of course -- how expensive is a hamster and does it need to go to the vet for anything as a baby? (The way a cat or dog might.)

4) The last preparatory step is to choose where I will be housing my new pet (my nightstand or my dresser are my best guesses right now.) and (ew) making sure that my family will actually let me get one. I am not Mike or Shawn -- I do not just walk in with a living breathing creature without announcing it. Especially when it is small enough to be easily drowned!

5) Finally, if all goes according to plan, I get to go out and get my new pet. Ideally I want to buy everything together so that I can make sure that the equipment I buy will be the right size for the hamster I choose. Then it is just a matter of bringing my little buddy home and letting him / her get adjusted to their new life.

Anyway, this one is going to take some time. My mother is like "Ew! Why would you want a hamster? We already have Coco and D'Argo." So we shall see. Anyway, I just wanted to get the thought out there. You know what they say about positive thinking, hm?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

When Life Gives Me Lemons...


Or at least be prepared to be turned into it. Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to be an optimist. What only those who know me well know, though, is that it isn't always easy. Everybody suffers disappointments, setbacks, hurts, embarrassments... The list goes on and on. But the thing is, you have two choices in this life. You can get into it or get on with it when bad things happen. Now, I am not advocating turning a blind eye when something awful happens. Lets get that straight here and now. But I am saying that being able to work through how you feel (no emotion is good or bad in and of itself -- its what we do with it) can be a major step toward creating a more balanced, happy and stress free life.

For example, today I wanted to go to a bookstore. I love books, I really do. But I can't drive and I live out in the country outside of a small town. The bookstore of choice was in town but it would have been a two mile walk and that would not have worked very well. I had mentioned it to my mother but she was too busy. I then mentioned it to my brother, Shawn, but he (after having taken a two hour nap) said he felt "too tired". To put it blunty, I was extremely disappointed. But it is not specifically about the Bookstore. I felt disappointed that I would not be able to go today when I had been looking forward to it. I felt frustrated that I had no power, no "way" to enable myself to go. I felt pushed aside by my family, regardless of the fact that I intellectually understood that their reasons were from within their own lives, not to do with how they view me as a person. In short, I was sad. I was also spending the afternoon with Jay.

Now, Jay is great. I don't think I have mentioned him on here yet (not surprising since this is only my second post). Jay is my boyfriend and (sssshhh, not sure if He knows this) its probably safe to say he is pretty much my best friend as well. (Along with you, RJ and Tommy). With the job he works now, Saturdays and Sundays are important to us because we get to spend the whole day together. So I didn't want to wreck our whole afternoon because of one stupid little disappointment. So, what do I do about it? I start to think of good things that are happening right now, to begin. Lets see...

1. We got the Two of Nobles so Jay will be able to get his Nobles Deck that he has wanted for months.

2. I won a totally amazing new mace for Katallina and to my surprise and delight it glows white and blue and little bals of energy trail behind it when I move.

3. I got Bride Wars when I went shopping today, which is awesome since I have wanted to buy that movie for the last two months. (Should I be saying that in public?) I will do a review of that soon.

4. I got garlic sticks with cheese that can be cooked in the oven. Yum! Can't wait to try them.

5. Its May! You know what that means? Beautiful weather, more BBQ'd food, and Jay's next visit is edging closer and closer. (Which is a given anyway, but taking something that I care about so much for granted would be silly.)

Why am I giving you my "attitude of gratitude" list here? Because it is by looking at the good things in our lives that we can put the more frustrating or disappointing moments into perspective. You wanna know what got me out of my rotten mood? Thinking about the garlic sticks with cheese. Yes, I realize that to some people the idea of food being used to trigger changes in emotion is terrible. But that goes beyond my point, which is twofold:

1. If simple things can make you happy you will have more happy moments then someone who waits for the Big Events to feel this way. I am certainly not saying you shouldn't Have the Big Events, but rather that life is not all about them. An ordinary day can have extraordinary moments when you take the five minutes that might be needed to do little things that are special to you.

2. Taking joy in good things happening to good people is a great way to boost how happy you feel. Did you notice Jay's upcoming trinket on my list up there? We worked together to get that and we had a few 'intersting' moments along the way. But to me there are two successes with him being able to get that. First, sure X will be stronger. And that is great. But far more important to me is the fact that working toward something that took time and dedication from both of us taught us things about how we can deal with things as a couple, which caused us to grow. So while the item is for his character, there is a lot more depth as to why I am happy about it.

Being able to get past a bad mood has made me able to avoid having so many bad days. I am not sure if my way of doing things would really work for everybody, but I know that it does tend to work for me.

So, how do you handle having a negative experience? Do you have bad moods or bad days? What little things do you do that brighten your day -- and could it benefit you to do more? Discuss!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Its A Good Day...

Every day has the potential to be a good day. Yet so often we allow the little details of life to stop us from embracing this cheery and optimistic outlook. A bill is due. A tellamarketer tries to badger us into doing a survey on the phone, the car keys go missing... Any number of things can turn the mood of our day sour without any prior warning. And heaven forbid those things begin to stack up. Then you're really in for it. There is something you can do to balance out those less then precious moments, though. You can develop an attitude of gratitude.

What is that and how does it work? Its simple. Instead of thinking about what is missing, you focus on what you have. Instead or worrying about what is wrong, you set your mind on what is right. One of my goals within my daily blogging efforts is going to be listing five things that I am grateful for each day, as suggested by Sarah Ban Breathnach (one of my favorite authors) in her book Simple Abundance. So, here we go... My First

Five Thankful Things...

  • My check arrived safely, which means that I did my accessment properly.

  • I found a gorgeous dress for when Jay visits me. Very excited about wearing that.

  • Jay and I completed the Noblegarden event today in World of Warcraft. Go us!

  • I had KFC for dinner. I'm the first to admit it: I am a fast food addict. Bad kitty!

  • I shared popcorn with Coco and D'Argo. I love my furbabies!