Game of the Weak

I have made an editorial decision. Over the last three months I have been publishing the Game of the Week feature. I have run into three dilemmas.
Number 1 - I have run out of good games from my archives.
Number B - I have not discovered enough new games worthy of posting.
Number III - Of all my posts, the games get the fewest hits.

So, I have decided that the Game of the Week has gone the way of Board Games. Or is that bored games? I will feature a new one from time to time but only the best that I find.
In the meantime, I will focus on writing reviews and stories, playing Mafia Wars and occasionally going to work.

I am also taking suggestions. If you have a good site or game that would appeal to the masses send an email or add in your comment.

Game of the Week - The Expendables

Big movie with big names. Celebrate the old school style with this throwback game. The Expendables movie brought us action stars with plastic surgery. Remember when Silicon Valley was new? The game style is a throwback to when Arnie, Bruce, Sly and Dolph were young. The 80s was an era when these graphics may have been considered new. Perhaps the actors have aged gracefully, the game graphics style? I'll leave it to you.

Ok. it is worth a few minutes of fun to play this arcade style shoot em up game.
The game is challenging and difficult. No room for error. The controls are relatively easy to manage.


Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage

I have got to hand it to the film-makers behind Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. This documentary, about the legendary band Rush, is just about as well composed and layered as any Rush album that came before it.

I consider myself a Rush fan. I've seen them in concert twice, I own a number of their albums and I have been following their career since the 80s. There is so much about the history of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart that was revealed to me in this film.

Beyond the Lighted Stage
As the story goes, the world's most popular cult band doesn't have many female followers but every musician loves them. From the epic opening of Tom Sawyer to the brilliant lyrics in Subdivision, the band's growth, success and legendary status has grown over four decades.
This engaging film reveals a complete history of the band. The film is interspersed with interviews, archival footage and homages to the trio that produced such cerebral classics as "Spirit Of Radio", "Limelight", "New World Man". Rush remains one of rock's most influential bands.


Red Dawn of Tron

I am looking forward to the release of two films, both of the remake and sequel variety. Tron: Legacy a sequel to the amazing 1982 film Tron, is scheduled for a December release. Red Dawn, a remake of the 1984 motion picture is due some time in 2010. They cannot be released quick enough for my liking.  Rumour has it though that financial troubles over at MGM has delayed the scheduled fall release of Red Dawn.

My friend Mike suggested that there are far too many remakes and sequels for his liking and he has no interest in seeing these films. This from a man whose living room is covered with Goldorak posters. What's old is new again my friend. Just like you after botox.

Tron is a film about a computer hacker who gets pulled in his employer's mainframe. He is forced to be a combatant in a series of dangerous competitions. The mix of live action, dazzling animation and hand painted effects kept me spellbound when I first saw the film. I plan to watch it before the sequel is released as I am curious if the original can stand up to the test of time. Interstingly enough, the original is a Walt Disney production but has been largely ignored in the last number of years. Jeff Bridges stars in both Tron and Legacy.

While you watch the trailer, keep in mind that in 1982 the household computer was something new, computers were still largely in the realm of science fiction. Also to note the popular Commodore 64 and Apple II were home computers with 64KB capacities.

Tron was produced in 1982 on a budget of $17 million and pulled in $33 million in the North American box office. It was later nominated for two Academy Awards, for sound and costume design. Tron spawned video games and arcade games as well a a couple Family Guy spoofs.

Red Dawn was released two years after Tron. The only connection as far as I am concerned is that they are 80s films re-imagined for today's screens. Red Dawn was a great action film that realized the imagination of many boys. It fulfilled the fantasy of being an action star or a real hero.
The film contained enough grit to make it feel real. It also had enough exaggerated exploits to make it fun.
The plot- High School football jocks take on an army of Soviets invading the U.S.A.
We get our heroes and maidens, and even a conflicted bad guy.

The original starred a then cast of unknowns, Patrick Swayze, C Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen and Jennfer Grey. They threw is a couple old timers for balance in Harry Dean Stanton ("Avenge Me!"), Ben Johnson and Powers Boothe. In a seven week wide release it took in $38 million.
The 2010 remake has the Chinese "People's Liberation Army" invading the U.S. of A. It is up to the Wolverines to counter the invasion. In a year that provided us with A-Team, The Losers, and The Expendables, why not a High School football team taking on occupying foreign armies?


Soldiers of Fortune (Cookies)

Fortune Cookies - The best of both worlds. I like cookies. I like reading. After ordering Chinese food the other night I was reminded of the story of the Fortune Cookie. Despite never appearing in print or having been told before the title of the story deserves capital letters.
I went to a Chinese restaurant with some friends a while back. I can't remember what I ate. I do remember the food was good. After the meal we were served fortune cookies. They were authentic Chinese fortune cookies.

I am not superstitious by nature but I admit to an occasional pang of guilt when dealing with anything of the supernatural variety.  Yes, that's right. I wrote that. Fortune cookies are supernatural.

I question myself. Am I doing this right?
Is there a proper way of eating fortune cookies? I do not want to taint destiny. I do not know how fortune cookies work. Perhaps you are supposed to read your fortune and bury the cookie for the fortune to come true? Are you supposed to eat the cookie, throwing out the contents?

One of my friends opened his cookie and his fortune read 'You are Creative'. Or, 'You is Creative'. Either way, it was true. My other friend's cookie told him that he would travel. This was to come true.

Somehow I ended up with three fortunes in my one cookie. The first read, 'You love sports, horses and gambling but not to excess'. This was mostly true, except that I don't really like horses. So far this didn't sound like a fortune.

The second said, 'Many receive advice, only the wise profit by it'. Well, I've received, refused, and given advice, each time with varying degrees of success. And very little profit.

The last fortune was the most interesting. 'Your emotional nature is strong and emotional'. I read that and I was ecstatic.
'Your emotional nature is strong and emotional'. Is that not like saying 'My brown dog is brown?'
'What kind of brown dog is it? Oh, it's a brown, brown dog.'

I feel as if I am being taken advantage of by these fortune cookies. In my usual experience half of the cookies don't have fortunes and they taste papery.
When Fortunes are too Literal


Inception - Not A Film Review - But You Better Go See It

I saw the movie Inception a few days back. And since then I kept dreaming about writing a review. I did not want to read any reviews in advance of seeing the film. I had heard positive comments and preferred to see Inception without any outside influence.

I chose not to search for hidden symbolism in the film at this time so my review will not be overly analytical.
It was a fun action movie where you may need a score-sheet to keep track of what is real and what may have been created by a designer of dreams. It is also a long film.
Is it worth seeing? Yes.

The kid from Third Rock from the Sun stars as the tough guy. It has the guy from Batman. It has the other guy from Batman who was also in 28 Days Later. It stars the girl from Juno. The Japanese guy from Batman was also in it. The guy who played the plumber on Cheers and fell in love with Rebecca also has a big role. And don't forget the actress who played Edith Piaf or that kid from Witness. I can't believe I almost forgot about that guy from Titanic. And lastly, there is the fellow whom many consider to be the best living actor, who came to everyone's attention in The Usual Suspects.
Anyone who knows me also knows that this is the way I watch a movie. I also always wait for the credits so I can watch the bloopers reel.
Now, go see Inception.
Inceptions three female lead. Just kidding. That's Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard.


Game of the Week - Pixel Breakout

Crazy beautiful Pixel Breakout is based on the classic game Breakout. Pixel Breakout takes you to a whole new level. A microscopic level. Only two tools are required, the mouse, and patience. Use your mouse to control your paddle and eliminate the bricks, pixel by pixel. And yes, some patience is required at the start. For the first couple minutes it will feel like an impossible task to eliminate the entire ceiling. But wait for the surprise. Trust me, it's worth it.


Throwing Out My Childhood

I think I was disowned. Or maybe it was not personal and I merely lost claim to my possessions after fifteen years of storage. Here, let me tell you what happened. I went to visit my parents this week. They are nice people. You would like them. My parents are alone in a large house and the stairs are getting more and more of a challenge for them. They have been talking about moving out of my childhood homestead for a few years. 
Think about it. Moving after living in the same place for 47 years is a huge challenge. Heck, moving is a challenge in itself. I was in my last place for four years and it took a couple months to pack everything up. It took me a year to unpack.

47 years of accumulated stuff. Forget about packing, the clean-up is an enormous task. But, my parents finally took the plunge and started the clean-up. They started with my stuff.
In a big box labelled as garbage lay not an inconsiderable amount of my childhood memories. Toys, games, books. 

Phil and Tony Esposito Action Hockey Game
A little musty, a little dusty, but it's my stuff. It took me a of couple hours to go through my garbage. But, it has been saved.

Now they didn't say, there is Ohara's stuff, let's throw it out. It was more like, see that dusty stuff, let's throw it out without looking at what's inside.

Amazingly enough, they have tons of their own things to go through. I don't think they know what is in the bottom of their hall closet. Or pantry. Or pockets.

How does this work? Do I lose claim to my possessions after a number of years? I suppose squatter's right won't apply as we aren't talking about land or a building. What is the statute of limitations for claiming your belongings from your parents? I am trying to remember from my studies how this applies but I do not believe this was ever addressed in any Law and Order episode.
Am I supposed to be notified by the Department of Unclaimed Properties and Effects (D.U.P.E)?

As I mentioned my parents are nice people. You would like them. Mostly because they didn't try to throw out your stuff.


Dog Days of Summer

Where do ideas come from? The dog days of summer have been dragging me down. A mixture of heat, humidity and a little too much going on at work may have fried my brain. I need to take a few months off. Anyone want to pay my bills?

A day off and some rain and cooler temperatures has actually offered some relief. My brain really has been overtaxed as of late. Maybe it's time to get a guest blogger or two.

For a while ideas were flying into my head and onto the screen. I couldn't understand other bloggers concern over writer's block. In my case I believe it's caused by lack of time and less energy.

I can't increase my coffee intake. I am at the legal daily limit.
I suppose I could sleep more and work less.

I have some started articles. Some require the finishing touch others require some research. I also have to paint my bathroom, fix my car stereo and brakes.

I heard a joke yesterday. Did you hear about Robin Hood's house? It has a little John.



Facebook privacy? Facebook security may not be your biggest enemy. You may be your own biggest enemy. Failbook shares your mistakes with the world.

see more Failbook

Good save. I wish I thought of this one.

see more Failbook


Grow RPG - Game of the Week

Grow RPG is a great game. It has such a simple playing concept but will manage to keep you enthralled. I have to admit I have not been able to solve this one yet. Grow RPG is one of many games in a series created by the brilliant On, a Japanese programmer and game designer who runs the site Last week I featured another of On's creations, Tontie.
The concept behind Grow RPG, and most of the other games on the site, the player must drag or click the pieces in the correct order to complete the puzzle.
The animations are charming and intriguing as, depending on the order you select the pieces a different little series unfolds.

Simply drag your pieces into the centre of the Grow sphere and watch what happens. Try different orders until you maximize each piece. You have eighty moves in Grow RPG.


Are you Ready for Some Football?!

Looking forward to the new NFL season? Maybe the following will satisfy you in the mean time. This video was part of the award winning NFL Fantasy Files campaign that went viral when it first hit the web in 2008. A newer 2009 video is below.

"Everybody has fantasies. What's Yours?" asks the Fantasy Files Rebook campaign.

Here is the long play Deluxe version. It showcases NFL players as they show off their impossible  athletic moves in an effort to be chosen by fans for their fantasy football teams.
Amazing football feats. Amazing editing feats. Great fun to watch. This video features Chris Cooley, Marques Colston, Neil Rackers, Jason Campbell, Braylon Edwards, Chris Chambers, Laurence Maroney among others.
Blue Room, the New York-based creative services agency, was awarded a Silver Webby Award in the category of branded content/promotion for their contribution to the Fantasy Files viral campaign in October 2008.

Maurice Jones-Drew 2009 season video.

I have yet to find a 2010 version of NFL Fantasy Files. Post the link below if you find it.


Record Number of Pirates (and other stories)

BBC news reported that there has been a record number of pirates gathering in the coastal town of Hastings, England. As the headline reads Hastings pirates smash world record. No, not Somalian pirates. Just regular folk dressed up as pirates.

I couldn't embed the BBC news video so here is a participant's video I found on Youtube.

One of the reasons I enjoy the festivals in and around Montreal is that I can wander around and drink in public, albeit in the enclosed confines of the festival territory. But I am outside, on the streets. Sort of like Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I suppose any legal excuse to gather and drink in public is a good one but aside from that I am trying to find the purpose behind pirate day.

And did each of these thousands of people have all the pirate gear in their closets?

The kicker? There were rules. "According to their criteria, people could only qualify as pirates if they wore a pirate hat or bandana and eye patch, a striped or plain T-shirt, tatty or rolled up trousers or a pirate-style skirt, and an accessory such as a sword, a musket, a pirate flag or a parrot."

That's just like my dress code at work.


Book Review: Raymond Feist's At The Gates of Darkness

Raymond E Feist's 2010 novel At The Gates of Darkness continues the saga of Pug the magician. In this novel Pug marshals the Conclave of Shadows, their allies, master spy Jim Dasher, the young Knight-Adamant Sandreena, and the warlock Amirantha against the invading horde of battle demons. The demon invasion has already caused the fall of dozens of worlds and the deaths of millions. Among those deaths were Pug's wife Miranda and their youngest son.
Murmandamus in Armengar
I enjoyed At The Gates of Darkness but it is far from Feist's best. As a stand alone novel, or if you have only recently been introduced to the author, you may enjoy it more than the seasoned Midkemian reader.
His early books were epic. Gates of Darkness comes across as an afterthought or a quickly thrown together story as if Feist was rushed to meet his publication deadline. This is a novella and, his ideas may be running thin. I got the impression at times that I was reading fan fiction.

As of late, I have compared this series to the Star Wars saga in the sense that we already know what is going to happen and Feist is pigeon-holed into completing the entire story in a set number of books all the while filling in the gaps. Another problem that has surfaced stems from Feist killing off his best and most original characters. Sandreena and Amirantha pale in comparison to the heroes of yore Arutha, Jimmy the Hand, all the way to Nakor and Miranda. Feist's 26 novels span hundred's of years, so it is expected that his mortal characters would have to be killed off. For every Arutha that dies an Erik Von Darkmoor is born. But for this latest publication, At The Gates of Darkness where was Thomas? He was barely mentioned. The author should at least make full use of his characters.
At the Gates of Darkness: Book Two of the Demonwar Saga

And (spoiler alert if you didn't read Rides a Dread Legion) why does Feist keep repeating over and over that Miranda's death has effected Pug? It only brings attention to what most fans consider a waste, the death of a popular character. Mention it once and move on Ray.

Feist's earlier books were epic novels of great detail, with well developed characters. He was recognized for producing well researched fantasy stories of adventure and political intrigue. Feist knew who he was writing about, he knew his characters personally. His later books are filled with rushed stories and thin characters almost as if he is repeating a story secondhand.

Over his last couple novels I also began to wonder how many other types of elves he is going to discover. I hope the Keeblers don't attack next.

All in all, the book was not bad. It fits in as a placeholder before the final trilogy. The two books that make up the Demon War Saga would have been better released as one novel. I could have stomached the teaser ending much easier on a full length novel.

I remember reading Magician, Silverthorn and Sethanon for the first time and staying up all night because I could, literally, not put them down. Here's to hoping that the final three Midkemian books contain some of that spark that made us fall in love with the world Feist created. Anyone know what happened to Honest John's at Honest John's seems to have disappeared. (edit: click here for my review of A Kingdom Besieged.)

Expected Release dates:
A Kingdom Besieged (2011)
A Crown Imperilled  (2012)
Magicians End (2013)

Magician Apprentice Volume 1 Premiere HC (Magician Apprentice (Numbered)) (v. 1)Magician: Master (Riftwar Saga, Book 2)Silverthorn (Riftwar Saga, Volume 3)A Darkness at Sethanon: Volume IV in the Riftwar Saga

Game of The Week - Tontie

Tontie is a fun and free internet game. And it is the game of the week. As the site describes it "this is kind of an evolved whack-a-mole game". Instructions at each level tell you what to hit and what not to hit. Each level adds a little difficulty. Accumulate gold coins to purchase a bigger mallet or more lives.
You use your number pad for controls. Click the number that corresponds with wear the tontie appears. This game takes reflexes but also an understanding of the pictogram. When the Store appears whack it to get inside to purchase upgrades. 
If you don't need lives, I suggest upgrading your hammer as soon as possible.


Break Up Songs Part II

Continued from Break Up Songs (They Don't Write Em) Part 1. I split this in two parts. It was a little clunky to load. More upbeat breakup songs. There are a lot of those slow, sad love ballads and breakup songs. But how many upbeat breakup songs are there? Did I miss any?

So She's Leaving - The Trews
This first song was a late addition. The Trews, hailing from Nova Scotia have released four studio albums and two EPs. From their 2005 release Den of Thieves here is The Trews with So She's Leaving.

Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) - Looking Glass
Sing along to the Looking Glass' number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100 from 1972. It features Elliot Lurie’s rich vocals.

Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John and Kiki Dee
Kiki and Elton’s clowning around make this the most fun video of the entire lot of breakup videos. No vayas a romperme mi corazon.

Here is Cake responding on behalf of all men in their cover of I Will Survive. While in Gaynor’s version she is shouting out to the world, here John McCrea’s take is less of anthem and more of a self reassurance.

Maggie May - Rod Stewart.
I love early Rod Stewart when he was still Rod the Mod and was rocking the Blues. That was before he became Rod the Disco sell-out and before he became Rod the Pop sell-out. Maggie May is in my Top 5 favorite Rod Stewart songs.

96 Tears - ? & The Mysterians
One of the most distinctive keyboard sounds of any song.

Blue MoonMarcels The up-tempo version the song.

There’s Always Something There to Remind Me - Naked Eyes
Burt Bacharach wrote this in the early 1960s. The Naked Eyes version is synthed out and set to 80s electric drum beats in this New Wave hit.

Jealous Man - Hoyt Axton
Not quite a break up song, Axton refers to it as a love song. But it could just as easily be the jealous ex-boyfriend singing. Axton is one of America’s greatest storytellers, the big man with the guitar, you’ve got to believe every word he says. Or else.
(Also try if you can to find his haunting (and hard to find) cover of House of the Rising Sun. It is beautiful)

(don’t know why this is set to video from Taxi Driver aside from the fact that it kind of fits)
And if you are in the U.S. via Hulu you can stream the episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where Axton performs the song.

Babe I'm Gonna Leave You - Led Zeppelin
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page. Plant howls about the road a callin’ and overpowering his want to stay.

Gone, Gone, Gone - Bad Company 70s super group. The first to sign to Led Zeppelin created record label Swan Song.
Well, I been havin’ a little trouble lord
But I'm keepin’ it together yeah
My baby just walked out the doors
She said this time forever...

Listen for the wicked good chorus.

You Oughta Know - Alanis Morrisette
This song that sparked Morrisette’s comeback and re-branding.

(I Hate) Everything About You - Ugly Kid Joe.
I forgot about these guys. And probably will again. But it’s a fun song.

Click here for the Top Ten
11 - Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass
12 - Don't Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee
13 - I Will Survive by Cake
14 - Maggie May by Rod Stewart
15 - 96 Tears by ? & The Mysterians
16 - Blue Moon by The Marcels
17 - There’s Always Something There to Remind Me by Naked Eyes
18 - Jealous Man by Hoyt Axton
19 - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You by Led Zeppelin
20 - Gone, Gone, Gone by Bad Company
21 - You Oughta Know by Alanis Morrisette
22 - (I Hate) Everything About You by Ugly Kid Joe

There are fewer 90s songs that could be considered classics. I also had trouble finding songs from the 00s and 10s that fit the bill. There are plenty of ballads or slow songs but not many upbeat tunes. I had the urge to throw in Fiona Apple’s Shadowboxer but the song was too somber so I just threw the CD into the player and had a beer. Once my lover now my friend… Can you think of any? What else did I miss? Here's the link to Part 1 of Upbeat break up songs  Break Up Songs (They Don't Write Em) .


Breakup Songs (They Don’t Write ‘em)

There are a lot of those slow, sad love ballads and breakup songs. But how many upbeat breakup songs are there? Driving to work this last week I heard two songs on CBC Radio2 that got the old brain fired up. I was on a mission to find more. The first song that came to mind has to be the supreme and unmatched leader in this category. I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. The anthem for all women shouting out to the world I will survive.

The song I heard earlier this week could be an anthem for men. Paul Carrack’s 1987 single Don’t Shed a TearCarrack’s defiant F U in Don’t Shed a Tear carries a little bitterness but probably sends the strongest and coolest message to the former love who left him.

The video is mostly of a model walking around with cuts of the singer performing and doesn’t capture the power of the lyrics. Carrack, you will probably remember, was lead singer of Squeeze and Mike and the Mechanics.

The second song that set me on this project is Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. A humourous song with the rat-a-tat drums. But what a gip! Simon only mentions five ways to leave your lover.

The Greg Kihn Band’s The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write’em), not only provides the title for this post but was a top 15 hit in 1981.

Australian New Wave band Mental As Anything probably have the quirkiest and funniest of the breakup songs singing “If you leave me, can I come to?

Don't You Want Me by Human League Captures the best of the he said - she said tenet. What always struck me about this song, the guy is saying how she can’t survive without him. Is he emotionally immature or emotionally abusive?

Live video? He's not even singing into the mic.

Heartache Tonight by The Eagles . Glenn Frey singing. What do I have to say about this? It’s the Eagles.

Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen. An updated “live” version. Slightly more up tempo then the original.

Tunnel of Love - Bruce Springsteen. Had anyone else sang this song it would have been a depressing love-lost song. With Springsteen’s phrasing on the brilliant lyrics there is a message of hope.

You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi. I can’t say I was ever a Bon Jovi fan. I didn’t mind Wanted Dead or Alive. But as for breakup songs, you can’t get more rocking then You Give Love a Bad Name. Rocking, in the I’ve-got-big-hair-filled-with-hairspray sense.

Top Ten Breakup Songs.
1 - I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
2 - Don’t Shed a Tear by Paul Carrack
3 - 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon
4 - The Breakup Song by The Greg Kihn Band
5 - If you leave me, can I come to? by Mental As Anything
6 - Don't You Want Me by Human League
7 - Heartache Tonight by The Eagles 
8 - Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen
9 - Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen
10- You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi

To see songs 11-22 click here Breakup Songs Part II.

There are a lot of those slow, sad love ballads and breakup songs. But how many upbeat breakup songs are there? Can you think of any? What else did I miss?

It's a Numbers Game

A simple numbers game , you may even call Chain Factor a mathematical Tetris. A Connect Four with more numbers?

While at first glance the board may appear intimidating, the concept is simple.
Eliminate the tiles based on their number.
A row of three tiles will wipe out tiles with the number three. A row of four will eliminate the Four tiles, etc.

The goal, remove as many tiles as possible and get the highest score.

Start off in Basic mode to learn the game. Later, try Power Mode. The Power feature allows you to use three different Power Ups which will help in clearing the board. The game's simple concept reveals a greater complexity at this level.
Survival Mode allows one Power Up and is considerably more difficult. Have fun!