Thursday, April 28, 2011

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon Trailer

Gotta admit, this actually looks WAY BETTER than the Revenge of the Fallen.


Discussing Professionalism

I haven't had a good bitch session in quite some time now. Not just an "old man grumpy complain" session, but an honest to goodness, real reason behind it bitch because I can session. I believe the last decent one was my thoughts on poor customer service. It might interest you to learn that I haven't purchased anything from that EB store since, and have only been in there a couple of times whilst waiting for my wife to get off of work.

Anyway, onto thoughts about professionalism. I'm not going to EVER claim that I am a professional writer, my posts are more bloggy sounding than most and I wouldn't dare offend someone who has put real time and effort into learning how to write an article properly. My thoughts today more concern the look of professionalism, mostly in a retail sector, not demeanor in an office.

Uh oh, the reader says, here comes grandpa complaining about how the cool kids look! Well, to a degree this may have a little truth to it. I am looking at a younger generation than my own, and wondering what the hell are they thinking?But there is also more to it as well, in that the arena for which they are displaying their "individuality" is not the right one.

One of the key places I've truly noticed a poor professional look is at the Bell Aliant stores. I walk by or into one of these stores and I do notice their new dress code with white dress shirts and ties, or scarves for female staff. The female staff are seemingly allowed to have their shirts untucked, but this is still considered a professional, business like look. But when the male staff do the same thing, and have their ties not done up properly and have them hanging low like Avril Lavigne circa 2002, it just looks sloppy and makes me not want to be served by that person. This is made to look even MORE sloppy when it's only a few of the staff doing it, and others come to work with their shirts tucked in and their ties done up properly.

So, grandpa is out a little. Yes, I am aware that it is the fashion these days, not just for young people but also for people of my age as well (I'm at the ripe old age of 35). I'm not blind. But, going to work isn't about fashion, it's about earning a living and doing what you have to do at work. There is an obvious dress code in these stores and if it is being followed, it is only by the skin of it's teeth. There are other things to mention, like fantastical haircuts and having your earlobes stretched to the size of a basketball hoop, or the dirtiest looking beard one can possibly grow, or even tattoos stretching completely from chin to wrist and back, but we don't need to talk about these things, as we ALL know that these are accepted these days and it would be WRONG to suggest that it looks unprofessional. (Hrm.)

There are a lot of things that are wrong about this whole situation. Workings not caring what they look like, establishments HAVING to work these people because it's too hard to get anybody to work anymore. Let's not put the onus completely on people with questionable professional habits. There is a reason why they are in these positions. Most people just do not want to work retail anymore. There will always people who do it out of necessity. But why should someone go to work for minimum or near minimum wages, when they can go on government assistance, get into programs to help them find "better" work, etc, etc, etc. It just isn't worth it when you a) DO have to deal with lower wages b) have to deal with the public and c) have to deal with terrible management and supervisors? Would you work in a place like that if you didn't have to? I've witnessed TERRIBLE management in my days. People who claim to be professionals, yet show obvious favoritism towards blond hair and what we'll call "tight jeans". People who even when obviously wrong will argue black and blue and threaten termination to make sure they never look bad in front of others. People who use their staff and schedule themselves off for every weekend in a summer when in retail, we ALL know weekend shifts, even for management, are part of the territory. The list goes ON and ON. Throw on top of this the obviously difficult task of dealing with the public, and you get yourself a work environment that just isn't desirable.

I say to you, the reader: let's start making life easier for people who have to work these jobs. Let's all say thank you when we are served. Let's not yell at someone for not giving us our way. (Nobody deserves to be yelled at) Let's not take our bad days out on people, just because they happen to be unlucky enough to be standing in front of us. Maybe it'll be the start of something better.

As for the people who aren't showing their professionalism at work, readers who are bosses: Let them know. Don't let it slide. A day where a fella forgets to shave or a girl has her hair tied back is one thing. It happens. But when someone looks sloppy, it takes away from the complete package the store is trying to sell. Call it old fashioned. It doesn't matter, what matters is there still is a definable line between fashion and professionalism and it is being crossed far too often. If these individuals want to wear their pants halfway down their butts and have their shirts untucked and their ties undone, there is a time and a place. It's perfectly ok to so at home or out with friends. In truth it does look good and modern. But not at work.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NDP to go where no man has gone before!

Here is a funny link a buddy of mine sent me earlier today. Mr. Jack Layton himself, in full Federation Officer garb at a convention a while back.

I wonder... what is he looking at?


Thanks Matt for the link.


Custom Coleco Tabletop Hockey Decals: Carolina Hurricanes

I'm not as big a fan of this one as the others posted so far, as I feel the logo looks a little large on the player chests. The jerseys themselves look great!


Custom Coleco Tabletop Hockey Decals: Modern Vancouver Canucks

Would have liked an attempt at Luongo's goalie mask, but honestly, this is still fantastic. Just like the Penguins, this work still keeps that quaint look and feel of the older, original decals. If I were a gambling man, I'd say this was a modified Islanders decal, or maybe the Leafs... but that would be a little harder.

Cheers halteclere12!


Custom Coleco Tabletop Hockey Decals: Phoenix Coyotes!

A good chap going by the name of halteclere12 has been sending me these great custom decals of the modern teams typically not available. The production value is very high here, you can see the care taken in the work. For those of you wanting the Jets back,  a Coyotes/ Jets table would be very fun indeed.

More to come today!

Thanks halteclere12!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Partial Review: Assassins Creed Brotherhood: in a word: WOW...

... and now some more words... :P

So I ran out last fall and picked up my copy of Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, and proceeded to play it fora grand total of about 4 hours before shamefully putting it back on my game shelf to collect dust. 5 months later, I happen to have a little time on my hands that I was required to sit on a couch or a bed and relax (ie: play games) so I start cutting through what I shall affectionately call my "guilt pile" of games. First up wsa Arcania: Gothic 4. If you were able to understand my drug and pain riddled contridiction of a blog post the other day, you'll know that while the game is HEAVILY flawed, I did enjoy it enough to sink 30 hours into it (nearly to the minute actually) and finish it with 75% of the achievements (even the jack rabbit achievement, to my eternal shame).

So great, I got through that one easily enough. What's next I asked. AC:B, of course. I stopped playing this one, I think, because I had just finished Assassins Creed 2, which is essentially the same game just smaller, and I was a little "creeded-out". Also, it was the fall of "cheesy cash-in sequels", with Fallout New Vegas, Spider-man Shattered Dimensions, etc coming out all around it, so it felt like this was one of those as well and held a little less favor because of it. So anyway, I stuck it in and I remember what Assassin's Creed was for me to begin with.

First and foremost: All other games with open worlds take note. Assassin's Creed sets the standard. Not GTA, not  Dragon Age. Assassins Creed does. The world is not only spectacular and immersive looking, it literally is alive. The streets are filled with hundreds of people, some just out for a walk, some doing their daily chores, some are guards. The world is ALIVE with a community of NPC's and make the gamer truly feel like he is a part of the environment. Everything not only feels alive, but it even LOOKS alive. When you bump into someone, they swear at you. They don't just graphically clip around you. You, as a character, put your hands up to shield yourself if you walk to close to someone or something. Everything has a very natural, organic feel to it.

Last post I referred to many open world games seemingly sacrificing something to allow them to be so big. Well take note, euro game developers. Ubisoft Montreal (yay Canada!) has put together a world that holds together well, but a premise that also covers it up legitimately if something screws up. A "game within a game", so to speak. But truthfully, it rarely, if ever, happens. Nothing looks out of place in this game. The incredible amount of polish is uncontested, even by games such as Dragon Age (which doesn't hold a candle) or Halo Reach (which in it's own right looks amazing). I'm a graphics guy. It's my life, it's what I do. The themes, the colour palettes, the sheer skill used to create this game are literally incredible. The world of 14th century Rome is alive in this game, and should be experienced by anyone who claims to be a gamer.

Click for larger.
The people who create the Spider-man games should really REALLY consider just buying this game engine and using it to make Spidey games. The crap they usually put out often times feels clunky and un-natural. This game takes the enjoyment of wall climbing, jumping, racing, swinging, dangling from mind numbingly high towers and escalates it to a degree that no single Spider-man game, nor any game really, has EVER done. When you jump and you don't quite make it, you grab on for dear life and cry in pain as the edge of a roof digs into your chest and underarms. Like Wallnuts?(thats a wall climbing gym for you non-St. John's readers) This game takes that feeling you get from jumping from small handhold to small foothold and puts it in the game. Having wallclimbed a few times myself, this game really has an authentic feel to climbing up a guard tower. You look for that tiny handhold and grab on for dear life! When you finally do reach the top, you actually feel like you've achieved something.

In game shot. Click this for a better look.
Speaking of climbing towers, one of the things you do in all the AC games is climb the highest towers so you can get and eagle eye view of the land. (In gamers terms, you open up the map). when you get to the top of the tower and "syncronize", basically look around, you are treated to a birds eye view of this unimaginably authentic Roman world. Fields of flowers and corn, buildings of clay brick and mortar, cathedrals and churches, EVEN THE COLISEUM! All the while, people mill about below you like ants. After you are done you get the joy of a swandive, a leap of faith as it were, to a straw cart or pile below you. 

Now, onto the gamey bits. You are an Assassin. I won't deal with story here, just gameplay. The story itself is functional enough and gets you through and a brisk pace if you want to. I've spent 15 hours with the game thus far, and I have only "synched" about 35 percent of the game. I'm just running around, doing assassination missions, recruiting other assassins, climbing towers, ambushing couriers. You know, assassin stuff. The ways in which you kill the dastardly "Borgia" range from comical to downright torturous. All are animated in vivid, lifelike detail. Just another way that this game depicts the brutal life these people may have lived back in that time. The control is easy once you get the hang of it, although you could say there is a bit of  learning curve to it. Once down though, even the most difficult of moves becomes basic, almost skillful in its delivery. You can stalk your prey methodically, you can go full frontal assault, all of which is generally permissible. (some missions do require stealth) Either way, you can cut a bloody path through the game until you reach the ultimate goal of freeing Rome from tyranny.

I haven't touched multiplayer yet, as I'm sure many of you who read this won't. The only comment I shall make on it is this: I actually WILL try it. Unlike most "capture the flag, frag fest" shooters, this game creates a world of either co-operation or competition. It's all about the kill. It's remarkably different and now award winning. It must have something to it.

With that, I shall leave you with this final thought. When I see a game like Assassin's Creed, it makes me wonder: Why don't other games who try to do similar things, just not do it as good? Look at how Spider-man games have fared and how they handle, look at the visual worlds of Dragon Age or Divinity 2 or Oblivion. When you pit one against the other, it's amazing that these games even manage to sell. I'm not speaking as a fanboy here, I've played them all and likely will continue to do so. I am just looking at one compared to the other, and for lack of anything else to say, I am in awe.

No score as I haven't finished  the game, but definately check this one out, as well as the first Assassins Creed and it's sequel. Take a lesson on how to build a game.


Sony Announces PlayStation Tablets

Sony is embracing Android and its own PlayStation Suite software in a big way -- expect two new tablet devices by the fall of this year.

Here's some Sony news that doesn't (directly) involve PSN for once: the company has announced two new tablet computers, both of which are equipped with Android 3.0 and Sony's PlayStation Suite software.
Sony Announces PlayStation Tablets
The S1 tablet features a 9.4 inch display and an "off-center of gravity design" which apparently "realizes stability and ease of grip [...] offering comfortable use for hours."

The S2 tablet curiously features two 5.5 inch displays that can be folded up. The two screens can either be used as one large display (with a big back bar in the middle) or two separate displays -- for example, playing video on the top and displaying controls at the bottom.

Both tablets feature WiFi and 3G/4G wireless access. They're ready for use with Sony's Qriocity music and video service (assuming it's fixed by the fall) and PlayStation Suite, previously seen on the Xperia Play cellphone. Gamers will be able to "immerse themselves in high quality first generation PlayStation titles" -- though this may be more difficult on these tablets thanks to their apparent lack of hardware buttons. There's also an eBook reader with access to Sony's Reader Store.

The S1 tablet features infrared technology and can be used as the world's biggest universal remote for Bravia devices. DLNA functionality also allows users to wirelessly "throw" music and video to compatible TVs and wireless speakers, much like Apple's AirPlay technology used in the latest iPhone, iPod and iPad models.

No news yet on an exact release date other than "fall 2011" -- and no information on pricing either. Given that Sony describes its new tablets as "complement[ing] network services," let's hope its PSN and Qriocity woes are resolved by the time they release.

(c/o Pete Davison @ Gamepro)

I find it strange that they are releasing TWO tablets, not just one. Given that these guys AREN'T the first to a suddenly flooded market of tablet PC's, wouldn't you want to really develop a strong product that would mushroom the competition in quality instead of diverting attention to TWO products instead? Only time will tell.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Arcania: Gothic 4: The Euro RPG Experience

I had my wisdom teeth out last Thursday. This has in all truths left my as a slurpie sucking, ice jawing bag of shit ever since. I'm home from work today, hopefully this is the only day (although when I got up this morning, let's just say "it feels like the first time". ie: holy F*CK I'm still really sore.

Well, in the wake of this awful, pain inducing procedure, I've been laid up on the couch with not much else to do but game. So, I picked a game that would be easy to play and take a long time to do it. Truthfully, I picked Mortal Kombat first, put it on beginner mode and played through the story mode. 20 minutes later, after I finished that up, I moved onto Arcania, Gothic 4.

This is a very puzzling title for me. I am admittedly a fan of this style of western RPG, or better yet, the EURO RPG, but I have to say, with every one of them, there is ALWAYS something wrong with them. The first title I  chose to play like this was Oblivion. Well, this game was buggy as all hell (I played the 360 version) but I did manage to get through it. The second was Divinity 2. The framerate was crap (I felt like I was playing an old school flip book) and the character models were shit. The dragon mode, while promising, was really, also shit. The third one I played was Two Worlds. This was supposed to be amazing, with horse combat and a large expansive world, DLC, etc... all it was, technically, was horse shit. I then got into Risen, which I never really stayed into so I passed on it after about 5 hours. The came Two Worlds 2, which was a LOT better but still plagued by similar issues of bad framerate and glitches. Now we get Arcania. For some reason, EVERY villager in the world is part of a set of fraternal brothers or sisters! Separated at birth and moved to rural regions of Scotland, Ireland, or the UK. There seemingly are only 3 or 4 character models for NPC's and terribly terribly bad voice acting.

Before I go further, I have to say that these complaints are all technical in nature and each game, while flawed, (sometimes fatally flawed) are all fun to play. Outside of the original Two Worlds, which I finished in 12 hours, and Risen, which I truthfully hated, each one was a 35 to 55 hour game for me, which means that I did enjoy them.

I just seem to notice that with every one of these games, to get them to be "so big", there is always something that needs to be sacrificed that pulls you out of that immersion that people want so much.  Instead of feeling like you are a part of saving this fantasy world, you are simply following a predefined trail and matching wits with digital demons. Sure, it takes a long time and sure, I grow a character stats sheet like a Donald Trump bank book, but in the end  I generally don't walk away with that "wow" factor like I did when I finished Mass Effect or Batman: Arkham Asylum. Now both of those games are different, I agree, but the key goal of immersion is had by these games.

Each of the Euro RPGs seemingly has a cookie cutter like template. There is the open field region filled with spiders and goblins, there is the mountain region filled with larger beasts and Ogres, there is the forest region with Trolls and bigger spiders, there is the Jungle Region filled with creatures that time forgot like Raptors and giant lizards, there is of course the swamp region filled with Zombies and poisonous giant bugs, and the obvious "cave zone" with flip panel graphics of the ogres, trolls, and bugs of other regions, and finally randomly toss in one of "magical" theme with warped creatures, "death valley/ desert theme" with scorpions. To get through each region, you have to "fetch-the-water-from the demons-for-the-useless-idiot-who-can't-do-it-himself-so he-will-give-you-a-key-to-the-wooded-door-that-you-could-easily-climb-over-but-won't-because-you-are-a-hero" quests throw it all into a bingo machine and as each come out, put it in that order and you have yourself a game. If you haven't played these types of games much, you don't notice this. But if you have, it is painfully obvious.

My wife's first question when she watches me play these games is "why are there always SPIDERS?" A very valid question, in truth. Why indeed? Right now I've just trudged through a mountain filled with fantastical "crystal spiders" in Arcania. They had mystical "ice" powers.

In my mind, these games are like the generic sci fi and fantasy novels one sees in a used book store that nobody seems to realize is part of a series, and nobody really cares, but still buys and reads anyway. Each one of these games to the casual onlooker is exactly the same as the other. They are flawed, bugged, and generally unimaginative.

So why do I enjoy them so much?

I honestly have no idea why I like them so much. But I do. I like getting that bigger, badder sword, the killer armor, the super swingie power that chip shots the generic spiders into badly animated rivers. (although, in general, the worlds they drop you in for these games tend to look amazing, at least when you are standing still) I like the blip of achievement when I reach level 5, 10, and 20. (same achievements in at least 3 of the titles) I like running around the world like an extinction event, destroying all evil and savage creatures and beasts alike, then going back to these same parts of the world later in the game, marvelling at how empty the world suddenly now seems. Actually, in Arcania, I love that if you don't loot the bodies, they stay on the ground as you left them, with stinking smoke and fleas emitting from the evicerated carcasses. :P

Why are games that are built on such, unimaginative premises so much fun? I have no idea. But for each one that comes out, I'll lose 30-40 hours of my life over it. Sure, the character models of human characters are terrible, sure the worlds are generic, but it doesn't seem to matter. Don't go by the reviews, most hit in between 60 and 70 out of 100 on the metacritic scale, with key flaws being those that I mention here. (I'll like the ones mentioned here already below). These are ones that you really should try before you dismiss them. They won't be for everyone, but for the ones who get into them, they won't wow you, but you will like them.

Thank you for reading my terribly self contradicting thoughts today. Now, back to my couch because my jaw is killing me and there are some generic spiders to squish.


Divinity 2 Ego Draconis (Metacritic score: 62)

Divinity 2 Dragon Knight Saga (Metacritic score: 72)

TwoWorlds (Metacritic Score: 50)

Two Worlds II (Metacritic Score: 67)

Risen (Metacritic Score: 60)

Arcania: Gothic 4 (Metacritic Score: 64)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Coke Plus Pepsi equals POKE!

The world shall end in 3... 2... 1....

High sales of low quality beer in N.L.

Beer sales were up by 15 per cent in Newfoundalnd and Labrador last year, compared to the previous year.
Link via twitter from


People in Newfoundland and Labrador spent more on beer last year than the year before, but one connoisseur says the quality of beer on the market in the province is low.

Compared to other Canadian provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador saw the single biggest jump in the value of beer sales - up 15 per cent over the year before.

But Stephen Beaumont who has traveled across Canada twice to write two editions of The Great Canadian Beer Guide said quantity doesn't necessarily translate to quality.

He liked drinking beer in St. John's but he didn't really like the beer he drank in St. John's.

"I thought St. John's was one of the best cities in Canada for beer drinking. And one of the worst cities to drink beer," said Beaumont.

Beaumont says it comes down to a lack of craft beer.

Essentially, beer that strays from the norm - beer that has a little more flavour than major commercial breweries are producing.

But Beaumont is optimistic that the quality of beer drinking in Newfoundland and Labrador may change.

"It could be that one particular beer just hits the spot with the people of St. John's and next thing you know St. John's is the next craft beer mecca in eastern Canada.


An interesting read. I've been thinking of brewing a batch to see what it's like. I've done 3 batches of wine now.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Partial Review: Mortal Kombat

So I've spent some time now with the new game, one for which I've been looking forward to for some time now.

Today, I'll go through the basics of what the game offers, only touching upon what I've looked at first and subsequent updates will add to this. 

First, lets look at the intangibles of the Kollector's Set I picked up. Collected with the game came a set of very detailed statuettes fashioned to be bookends. The extreme detail on these is nothing short of incredible. These hand sculpted items will look great on any man's shelf or in a man cave. Practicality is nil, of course.
What grown man or woman will have blood soaked ninja statues on their mantlepiece of a family room? Not many.

The thought is there, however, and this is a nice addon to the set, and truly makes this worthy of the extra $25 or so dollars one will dish out.

Next up comes the in game content, which comprised of two alternate skins for fan favorite characters and an extra fatality. To me, this is the stuff that makes collectors editions worthwhile almost every time. Added content for a game is something that will make your experience stand apart for the standard gaming fare. Sure, a statue or two is nice, but they all end up in landfills eventually. The in game addons truly make the
experience unique for the person who wishes to pay the extra money for it. The idea here is actually a great
one. You get two classic ninjas in Ermac and Scorpion. Scorpion comes with a classic fatality as well. I, for
one, would LOVE to see DLC for this game being more fatalities. This is what made Mortal Kombat stand apart from it's Street Fighter and Clones competition back in the day.

Also in DLC we see avatar items for your Xbox Live avatar. Nice enough, but will only appeal to a certain type of gamer, like me. :) It's a detailed costume of Scorpion to show off to your friends. Pointless, really. I'll
have it on my guy for a week and then back to big boy cloths.

Finally we have the 100+ page artbook that usually comes with Collectors Editions. This is truly worthless,
and compounded more so in this game, as all the artwork in the book is part of unlockable content in the game itself. Glance at it once, and pass on it again until you finally sell it in a yard sale or toss it to the proverbial landfill. Not to take away from the artwork, it is all very nice and even a little informative, but
it really does nothing to add to your gaming experience as a book.

Now, onto the game itself. In the time I played last night, I managed to finish a run through on the tournament mode (I believe it was called Tower Mode) with Scorpion. First and foremost, over the past few MK's, the fatalities were frustratingly hard to pull off, most notably in MK vs. DCU. So far, this game makes that frustration go away delightfully. You only get one fatality starting off, with two more for each character unlockable as you play through the game. The bosses in most MK games are fairly "cheesy", and Shao Kahn in this game is no different, as even on beginner difficulty I found him somewhat hard to beat. In general the game was easy to play, as I was pulling off major combos with little concentration. In gameplay videos, the more complicated combos were present, but I was able to compete with my basic skills right out of the gate. Even the X-ray hits, a major addition to the game, are easy and fun to pull off.

Graphically, the game looks pretty good. Character models are good, but faces in general look terrible and dated. Many of the male characters who were shirtless looked ridiculous, with gigantic shoulders that just didn't look right. This is something that seems to be common in games in general, however. Perhaps technically it just cannot be done correctly yet. The female bodies were similarly rediculous, with gigantic, bigger than "Dead or Alive" breasts that just didn't look right. Make a sexy fighter character, yes. This just doesn't look right though. It looks as if some models were pulled right out of the MK vs DCU game though, a little lazy design to fill a game up never hurts, but does hurt this experience somewhat. Cybernetic and fantastical character in general look amazing, as do all backgrounds and arenas. Musically, the game is very mortal kombat. Dark, mood setting music for all stages really enhances the experience.

I ran through the first 7 or 8 chapters of the story mode, which gives a retelling of the stories of MK's 1 thru 3. It's a time travel tale, as in present time, Shao Kahn has finally beaten all comers and is about to destroy erathrealm, and Raiden sends a message back in time to his younger self during the start of the first Mortal Kombat, warning him of things to come. This story, while a little convoluted, does a good job of making the story a little easier to follow than the one that was presented to us in the first go around.It adds details and characters, and modifies the timelines somewhat, but so far is a fun experience and easy to pick up and go with.

Is it fair to recommend this title yet? Sure. For fans of a series gone far to the wayside, it's a great reboot and a fun game in general. It's a far better "pick up and play" game than many who actually advertise this sort of thing as a game feature (shame on you, WWE Allstars!). It looks good enough in action and it's simply fun to play. There's lots of material for one to go through, as this partial review can atest to as I haven't actually gone through much of it yet. A complete score can't be given as I do need to go through said material. It gets a "worthwhile to play, go get it" though.


Not only does the NL Budget not pay down the dept, we will add almost $460 million to it

Newfoundland spends surplus on election budget that will add debt

Thanks to Brian (follow on Twitter: @bkidney) for this eye opening article:


Newfoundland and Labrador is awash in cash from oil and mining profits, but a big-spending election budget will increase net debt as future deficits are forecast.

Surprise spikes in offshore oil production and mineral shipments turned an expected deficit into a whopping $485-million surplus last year.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Get OVER HERE!!! Mortal Kombat out TODAY!

I will be picking up my Kollector's Edition at lunchtime today and posting comments on the set around lunchtime, with initial thoughts on the game tonight. I LOVE new game day!


UPDATE #1 1:pm

Just got my hands on my Kollector's Edition. I usually counsel against the purchase of collectors ed's but this one struck me interesting. Bookends, fully sculpted and painted, extra in game characters and free Xbox avatar gear and the usual useless artbook. Having it in my hands really shows me that I got my money's worth (especially because it was $10 cheaper than originally thought). Check it out:

Mine came with Classic Scorpion and Classic Ermac characters, and scorpion gear for my avatar.

More to come!


Update: 3:30pm

Mortal Kombat's metacritic score is an astounding 88 out of 100, with 14 out of 14 reviews reflecting a very positive attitude towards the game.



Monday, April 18, 2011

Just blew past 10000 hits, thank you readers!

I've officially tracked the stats, the blog has passed 10000 hits. Thanks all and keep reading!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


According to Don McLean and Nick Kypreos of Sportnet Radio, the Fan 590, the deal to save the Phoenix Coyotes is now dead, and the Coyotes will be announced to be moving to Winnipeg at the end of the Coyotes playoff run.



About frickin' time.


4:20PM Newfoundland Standard Time

TSN Link

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has told TSN that there is no truth to a Toronto radio report that the NHL is preparing to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Winnipeg in the coming weeks.

The report on Wednesday suggested that a move would be announced by the league once the Coyotes are eliminated from the playoffs.

"The report has no basis in fact. No decisions have been made at this point one way or the other. And we continue to be active in our efforts to effectuate a sale of the franchise in Glendale," Daly told TSN.

Winnipeg sources also say they have no such information of an imminent move and contend the NHL hasn't even remotely suggested such a move is in the works.

Winnipeg continues to wait patiently, but can't wait much longer before having to commit to existing AHL partners.


Another rumor mill cut down. I'm sure there is more to come.


UPDATE: 7:01pm Newfoundland Standard Time

Bob McKenzie, one of the most respected hockey writers in the country, weighs in, and believes they are more likely to play in Winnipeg rather than Phoenix next year. Read on:

Where will the Phoenix Coyotes be playing next season?

Well, since you asked, I will say it's more likely to be Winnipeg than Phoenix. That's my opinion.

I say probably, and qualify it as my "opinion," because all the factual information I can find says to me very clearly that no final or irrevocable decision on the future home of the Coyotes has yet been made by any of the three vested parties - the NHL, the City of Glendale and would-be (under the right circumstances) owner Matthew Hulsizer.

And if we have learned anything in this long and winding Coyotes' saga in Phoenix it is that it ain't over until one of three parties pulls out and says it's dead.

Could that happen? Sure, it could.

When might it happen? I don't know, it could be days or maybe a week or two or three. Months is certainly not a viable answer because if the Coyotes are going to relocate to Winnipeg or anywhere else, there is much that needs to be done to facilitate it both within the league and the new market as well.

So whether it's days or weeks, we should get an answer to our question soon enough.

Now, here's another question: Is there a chance the Coyotes stay put in Phoenix for next season and beyond?

My opinion on that is a qualified yes, it's not entirely out of the question, it could still happen. I think it's probably a longshot at this point and perhaps getting to be a longer shot with each passing day that the NHL, City of Glendale and Hulsizer don't announce they have a deal.

But we must also allow for the possibility of a rabbit to be pulled out of the hat, that as long as the Hulsizer deal hasn't been declared dead it could still be resurrected in some form to keep the Coyotes in the desert.
For weeks now, a lot of people in the NHL community at large have been whispering that the Hulsizer deal is dead or on life support with little or no chance of being revived, but, as of this particular moment in time, none of the three vested parties have communicated that in any meaningful way.

Maybe that changes tomorrow or next week or whenever.

In the meantime, the good news is we have the Stanley Cup playoffs to keep us busy.

I said more than a month or so ago that, for the first time ever, I felt like Winnipeg was a legitimate landing spot for the Coyotes and the return of the NHL to Manitoba could become reality.

For every day that has gone by since then that there hasn't been an announcement the Coyotes are staying Phoenix, I've been getting a stronger feeling that they may actually end up in Winnipeg. With each day that continues to pass without a resolution in Phoenix, that feeling will only intensify.

But for me to suggest it's fait accompli, a done deal, that there is no chance of them staying in Phoenix and that Winnipeg is guaranteed of getting back the NHL?

I can't make that leap. Not at this point and I wouldn't even venture a guess when, or if, we do get to that point.


There you have it.


UPDATE: 2:00pm April 14, 2011

Daren Dreger, also one of the most respected voices in hockey reporting in the country weighs in on the case. As quoted from "The Dreger Report":

1) Desert Stalemate: Sources close to businessman Matt Hulsizer say he has done nothing to alter his proposal to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, nor has he changed his intention to sit patiently while the NHL, the City of Glendale and the city's bankers continue to try and solidify bond buyers.

The fact the league has long since surpassed the point where it hoped a resolution would be found is the reason speculation persists the Coyotes may soon call Winnipeg home.

If a deal can't be reached between the NHL, Hulsizer and the city of Glendale, then the league may have no choice other than to put a stop to this endless saga and embrace relocation. But that decision hasn't been made yet.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly supplied public denials yesterday amid reports the Coyotes are headed to Manitoba after their playoff run, while True North sources also refuted the claims, followed by those close to Hulsizer who insist his position hasn't changed.

So what we have is a stalemate that only the NHL can rectify.

If Hulsizer isn't willing to sweeten the pot and there is no tangible interest among bond buyers, then the deal - while not completely dead - is on life support with Gary Bettman deciding when to pull the plug.

As of this morning, there are no meetings or conference calls between the NHL, Hulsizer and Glendale planned to further the process along one way or another.


As you can see, yesterday's news, while likely telling, wasn't the actual case. No movement has been made on any fronts. As a betting man, after round 1 and the Coyotes are eliminated, you'll see a whirlwind of activity on this story.


UPDATE: 4:15PM April 14 2011

From the Winnipeg Free Press


The Bettman ultimatum

NHL commissioner will tell Glendale, Hulsizer to do deal now -- or else

The NHL is preparing to put a gun to the City of Glendale's head and will again use Winnipeg as the bullet.
Reports that Matthew Hulsizer's $170-million bid to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes is dead may be premature but it appears there is only one chapter left to be played out in this saga.

Expect the next move to be the NHL's. It will involve positioning the city of Winnipeg against Phoenix in a manner reminiscent of last spring's leverage play by commissioner Gary Bettman.

Sports radio talk in Toronto on Wednesday had the deal in the desert near or at the end of the line and the Free Press has a Glendale source stating Hulsizer has pulled any concessions he's made off the table and reverted to his original proposal to the NHL and City of Glendale.

The next move will be Bettman's and it will likely come in the next five to 10 days. He'll need Winnipeg's help again and it's quite possible that talks between the league and True North have begun anew.

The NHL has painted itself into a bit of a corner by waiting this long to resolve the sale and now runs the risk of having to announce relocation of the franchise during a playoff run. It would be bad enough to make such an announcement in the first round but even worse to make it in the Stanley Cup final.

It's unlikely Bettman will wait that long to pull the trigger. Expect the commissioner to get in front of this one in the latter stages of the opening round. Bettman will give Hulsizer and the City of Glendale one final crack at closing a deal.

Mark Chipman and his partner David Thomson are still interested in an NHL franchise they would bring to Winnipeg and operate out of the MTS Centre.

Playing stalking horse for the NHL a second time will, however, come with some strings says a U.S.-based attorney with experience in sports franchise transfer-of-ownership deals.

The lawyer, who has been involved in NBA and NHL relocations deals, demanded anonymity but said the next few steps will be common practice in terms of the league's arrangement with True North.

According to the source, True North will require financial and contractual guarantees to sign a purchase offer that Bettman can then take to Arizona and use to prod Glendale and Hulsizer.

Before True North signs a deal, they'll want exclusivity, a firm timeline, board of governor approval and likely a seven-figure compensation -- called a breakup fee -- should the deal sour at the last moment.

True North will insist Bettman only shop their deal to Hulsizer and that no other party be allowed in at the last minute. The NHL will have the opportunity to use this leverage with Hulsizer alone. If he can't or won't buy the team -- then it's Winnipeg's.

The NHL made its choice to relocate to Winnipeg a long time ago, if needed. Any talk of other markets has been silliness. The league is once again working with Winnipeg and no one else. That won't change.

The deal will have a small window. Once True North signs off, the NHL will have a firm deadline which it will need to work within. Bettman will tell Glendale and Hulsizer they have a certain number of days -- certainly less than seven -- to conclude their deal. If it's not consummated within the agreed term -- the agreement in principle between the NHL and True North will come into effect.

Board of Governor approval, required for any relocation, will need to be signed off on before this agreement is signed. Should Bettman's leverage play in Glendale work a second time and prompt the city and Hulsizer to act, True North will be compensated for its role and efforts. Our source says a sum in the neighbourhood of $5 million would be the norm for a deal of this size.


An interesting piece of information to say the least. Perhaps the league is realizing that this has taken too long and are starting to get nervous. Anyway, more food for thought.



UPDATE: 11:30pm, April 14



From TSN

Five weeks after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman visited Glendale to declare "time is running out", there is still no deal apparent to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.

Now a report in the Winnipeg Free Press states True North, the potential ownership group in Winnipeg, will soon unveil a season ticket campaign to gauge support for an NHL franchise.

A resounding response could boost the city's chances of getting the Coyotes to move back to Winnipeg. However, a poor response could damage True North's chances of bringing the Jets home.

"There is nothing in the constitution on this," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Free Press in an e-mail on Thursday. "Certainly, one of the things the board has to have satisfied is that the market is capable of supporting an NHL team at NHL prices. But that can be done in a variety of ways, depending on the market. There is no one 'cookie cutter' approach here."

The NHL bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy in 2009 and has been trying to sell it ever since.


All you Jets fans, even if you aren't in Winnipeg, BUY A DARNED TICKET. Not many places are given that "second chance" like this. Buy your ticket, prove you want this team back. I, myself am not a Jets fan. The team was a mediocre mess back in the day, the Coyotes aren't much better since. But still... BRING HOCKEY HOME. Bring it to where it belongs.



UPDATE:  April 28th, 1PM


Report: City of Glendale must pay NHL $25M by Monday; Coyotes allegedly lost $36.6M

Apr 28, 2011, 11:25 AM EDT
The 2010-11 season might have left the City of Glendale feeling a bit bloated, but Rebekah L. Sanders of the Arizona Republic reports that they have until Monday to pay the bill. That means they’ll need to pay the NHL the $25 million they promised, although Sanders reports that the Phoenix Coyotes’ actual losses amounted to a whopping $36.6 million in the last eight months dating up to March.

I’ll just let you marinate in that figure for a moment: $36.6 million.

Sanders reports that the city promised taxpayers that they wouldn’t need to foot that $25 million bill since a new owner would take care of it, but the sale is obviously still in limbo.

Some people will jump to the conclusion that the “deadline” is now Monday, but if this twisted saga proves anything, it’s that there aren’t many clear answers to its many questions. The NHL might cut the City of Glendale a break (it is coming off a season of record-breaking projected revenues, after all) by giving them an extension, perhaps.

Who knows at this point, though. Yesterday’s big story was that the Winnipeg city mayor Sam Katz openly doubts that the Coyotes will move to his city because of the threat of a lawsuit. The potential sale of the Atlanta Thrashers also hangs in the balance of this mess, so there are two NHL franchises greatly affected by what shall occur in the next weeks/months.

Every time there seems to be a moment of clarity in this situation, the odds-on favorite scenario flips on its head. For that reason, we won’t forecast a winner; instead, we’ll just keep you up to date as the situation continues to change. Eventually we might even be able to discuss a resolution to the matter.


Just a little more evidence that the team needs to move, be it Winnipeg or anywhere else.


Def Leppard is the circle of GODS of ROCK. Listen to this new effing awesome single, "Undefeated".




Shopping Derecommendation is St. John's #1: Phototec Services

Before we begin, I want you to know that this won't be a throwdown, Phototec sucks review. This is a more going to be an "in comparison to" review and how this place simply doesn't do as well as others.

It was approximately 1 year ago that I started to shop seriously for better photo and DSLR equipment. In town at the time, you could buy things at a few places, Newfoundland Camera, Wal Mart, Futureshop, Staples, and Phototec. There were a couple of other places, but these would be considered the major players.

Phototec is a camera shop over in Pippy Park. It originally started out as a small repair shop for lens' and the like, but grew into something more. It sells all forms and sorts of cameras, from purse/family cameras to top of the line Digital SLRs, filters, bags, and so on. You can purchase used gear there as well, albeit a very limited selection of it. You can even purchase GPS equipment there (Magellan Brand only).

There is also an output service through this store as well. Given the fact that I do not use this service I cannot
make any comment on it.

Phototec repair services are what the business was built from and what truly carries it. I have never used this, as I have been lucky (knock on wood) to not need it as of yet. I have taken reports however, and Phototec is basically the "go-to" service in the St. John's area for camera and lens repair. Other shops, such as Henry's Camera, offer repair services, but actually just take the camera and your money, and ship the goods to Phototec for repair.

Everything about this store is small. It's a little "elbow room only" shop with gear everywhere. I was completely overwhelmed the first time I walked in the store. To your right, there was the small GPS counter, then the small selection of bags. On the back wall there was a selection of filters and small camera nick nacks, and to the left you'll find a small display cabinet with new and used lens' and cameras. It's all perfectly serviceable, mind you. If you aren't too picky, there should be something there to meet your needs. However, why go to a place like this when basically EVERY other dealer of camera gear has a better, AND CHEAPER selection?

The thing that really turned me from this store wasn't it's size or the quantity of goods in carries. It was the "we can order that for you" line given to me by the owner, and to this day (approximately one year later) I've yet to receive a call concerning the goods. This little store has little in it, so if they ARE going to be an "order it for you" store, they better damned well do it and do it well. This store gets a big effing red "X" in that department. From my own experience to those of friends of mine who have also experienced this poor service, this alone makes this store a de-recommended shop in St. John's. Truth be told, if one wants to live with "pay now, get later", one should simply buy from the much cheaper services on ebay. At least there, most dealers will actually stay in contact with you.

With regards to their GPS sales, they carry the #3 brand in the province, Magellan GPS. the Triton series of GPS was released late 2008, early 2009 and is not only usable, but even quite pleasant to use. While this is a perfectly serviceable and usable brand, it's #3 for a reason. The customer service for this brand of GPS is absolutely, mind-numbingly awful, to the point of non-existent. Accessories are hard to find, and map updates are difficult to do. (For anyone interested, if you DO have a Triton, I DO have a Go Maps chip available for this product, that work easily when you insert the chip, with 100% hands on customer service by yours truly :P) The Magellan service shouldn't reflect upon Phototec, but the poor choice of this brand over the National #1 brand, Garmin, is near mind boggling.

In conclusion, the simple frustration of poor ordering services are what turns me from Phototec. Everything they do and have is completely serviceable and good enough if you aren't picky over what you want, and their repair service is second to none.  However, if there are places in this city that provide better selection, better customer service, and better prices, why would you shop there? I'm not a professional photographer nor a professional reviewer. I am simply a guy who looks for good service and good prices. Sorry Phototec. I usually side with the little guy, but this time you come up a little short.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The BEST background site on the web


Hey people. Bored of your current background? Photographers or illustrators, need a little inspiration? Check out this site. It's worth it, it's safe, and it's FREE. :D

Thanks you Mr. Mallard for this link.


Monday, April 11, 2011

St. John's Store Recommendation #2: Microplay/ Jumbo Video - Mt. Pearl

I am loath to think I am writing a recommendation based on someone picking on my last one, but to be honest with you, there's a little hint of that in here. :) But, not to take away from dear Steven Power, manager of Microplay/ Jumbo Video, as he deserves some highly touted praise for his work.

I've known Steve since back in the '90's when I worked at Microplay. He was an up and coming graphic designer, and a regular customer at the shop over on Freshwater Road who fell into a job because a sales associate just wasn't working out. (I can't remember the guy's name... hrm...) anyway.

To the unknowing eye, Steve may come across the wrong way. But if you listen to him, he'll generally tell you what you need to know about a game or a video without the hinderance of whether he is paid to do it or not. He's an honest soul, not just some guy paid to pander to idiots who want to rent the latest Denzel Washington movie. (Ugh... BTW:P) And man, does he know his games.

My latest favorite game is a little gem called Crimson Gem Saga for PSP. How did I find out about this game? Why, Steve Power of course. Over the run of years of going back and forth to his shop, he's picked up on my gaming tastes (which are remarkably similar to his) and has in turn been able to sell to me what I want. Nearly every recommendation that Steve has made to me over the past... oh... 5 years or so has been a game that I've loved. Two Worlds, Two Worlds II, Gothic 4 Arcania, Mass Effect 1 and 2 (which own my soul), the ORIGINAL Guitar Hero, and the list goes on and on. It's remarkable how often he hits the nail on the head when it comes to recommendations.

It's too bad that there is a video store thrown in on top of a very good video game store, because in the long run, I think that is holds Steve and his team back from being a great game store.

The single reason that Microplay doesn't get my #1 recommendation over Netherworld Collectibles is as such: Microplay/ Jumbo Video ISN'T a geek store. It has games, but the games are there to support the declining video store. We all know about digital transfers and Netflix and what have you, so Jumbo Video is a business in the decline. Games, even though they are available online, are still a major market and somewhere down the line, expect to see Microplay Jumbo become Microplay alone once more. I shop geek stores, and geek things. The single best place to cater to my needs of geekdom is Netherworld. However, the customer service provided by not only Steve but his staff as well make them a close #2.

If you are looking for a shop that has staff that knows their stuff and are willing to give the truth on it, whether you want to know it or not, Microplay Jumbo in Mt. Pearl is the place to go. You will get a real evaluation of the game or product you buy. (I think the hate Rock Band gear... but you be the judge when you go by) You will definately leave with either the game you want, or be better educated in the game you thought you wanted. What else could you ask for in a video game dealer?



PS: Steve, scan that code!!! :P

Thrashers want to stay in Atlanta, but does Atlanta care?


Now I'm not going to act like every other bleeding heart Canadian screaming for a team to go to Quebec City or Winnipeg, as I feel that both of these locales have a ways to go before they can support another major professional team. But Atlanta, in it's second go around with a new NHL franchise, has essentially fallen flat. People just don't know or care about this team in their market.

I also feel that winning has a lot to do with fan interest, as the Islanders proved this past year when the attendance skyrocketed towards the end of the season, when the wins were far more common than not. I wonder if the NHL should step in when a team is first put in place, put people who know what they are doing in to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again. Entering a market that the NHL isn't well known in, maybe putting your best foot forward would work better, as opposed to the mess that teams like Atlanta have?


ATLANTA -- Thrashers president Don Waddell understands that local NHL fans want to know something definite about the team's future in Atlanta.

A few minutes after his team missed the playoffs for the 10th time in their 11-year history, Waddell, the
Thrashers' general manager from 1999-2010, says the search for new ownership is nowhere near over.
"It's been a work in progress," Waddell said. "We're certainly going to continue to move forward and do everything possible to keep this team in Atlanta."

The Atlanta Spirit, a group that owns the Thrashers, NBA Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, has sought to sell the NHL franchise for several years and claims the hockey club has lost over US$150 million since 2005.
"We've had lots of people interested," Waddell said. "We've had a couple of people move to the next step. Nothing is close at all."

Team captain Andrew Ladd, who just finished his first season with the Thrashers after helping the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last year, wants new ownership to keep the club in Atlanta.
"Hopefully they can get it figured out and the team can stay here," Ladd said.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

St. John's Restaurant Recommendation #1: Klondike Jakes

Now, much like everything else in my life, I'm very critical over what service I receive at a restaurant. Is my drink always full, am I bothered too much by a server, am I taken care of enough, is the food good, and so on and so forth. It's a very difficult balance when it comes to good customer service and over indulgence from a server. Today, I'm going to start giving some thoughts on restaurants in our fine city. Yesyerday, I spoke of a great Geek Store, Netherworld Collectibles. (Don't worry Steve, you'll be coming up next at the goodship Microplay!) Today, I'm going to tell you about Klondike Jakes.

Now, I'm not going to say KJ's is the best restaurant in the city. It most certainly isn't. It's your basic, run of the mill family restaurant that is a step about McDonald's and a step below fine dining. It's the sort of restaurant that is a great place for a first date for a young couple, as it is very affordable and a step above the aforementioned McDonalds. It's a great place for a supper for a couple on the run, such as my wife and I tend to be a lot. It's even great for a stop in for a drink and a pound of wings when you just don't feel like cooking for a night.

I've eaten numerous items from their menu, including the hot wings, the steak, a meaty hamburger, pork shops, a club, a club wrap... all the "usual suspects" for someone who might eat at a place like this. The wings are great, with lots of zingy sauce, and not too over the top in flavor as to take away from a side dish or a drink. The steak, while a little dry, was very servicable and suitably tasty while reasonably priced. The burgers were great, rivalling some of the best hamburgers I've eaten in the city. Clubs and wraps are always filled properly with lettuce and chicken, and an ample supply of my ever loving favorite, bacon. :) The pork chops are easily the best I've eaten at a restaurant in St. John's.

The service in this restaurant is exactly what you would think it would be. The serving girls are very pleasant (I say girls because I think I've only seen a guy there once) but not the "over-the-top-because-I-want-a-tip" pleasant. When I'm there, my drink is always full, although from time to time I need to ask for a refill. They are speedy and generally you get service right away, and they are alway prompt with a bill when you are done. (This is a big point for me) Having been frequenting KJ's for a number of years now, with me being a former mall employee and now with my wife working there, I notice that many servers have been there for a long time, so they know the layout and know the menu well enough for me to be confident enough to ask for a recommendation. (Also a big point for me)

The thing about Klondike Jakes for me is that I know that they aren't the best restaurant in the city. It's a family restaurant built on a business of servicing mall customers, not just from luring the average restaurant faring public in. It targets mall staff and consumers alike, and does so very well. It's fast and good, but not great. When you go in, you know what you should expect and you get it, EVERY TIME. This is something not a lot of restaurants in this city can claim. (I'm looking at you, Jungle Jim's) If you want a safe, servicable, and fast place to eat out, check out Klondike Jakes in the Village Mall. You won't be blown away, and you definately won't be disappointed.


A collection of Doctor Who Series 6 stuff

Here are some collected tidbits (with as little unofficial stuff as possible) on Series 6 of Doctor Who. I don't think I've ever so looked forward to a TV series. It's such a well written and played out show, it's worth a watch if you are a non-viewer.

Here is an official trailer from BBC One. 

Here is a little prequel from series head Steven Moffat.

Here is the full length official trailer for Series 6 from BBC America.

Here's some non offical material with news on Series 6 with Steven Moffat.

Matt Smith (aka The Doctor) on Episodes 1 and 2 of Series 6.
The Doctor Who Insider on Series 6.

My favorite companion, Karen Gillan (aka Amy Pond), on Series 6.