Thursday, June 28, 2007

Time Ace Review

My latest review is up at See how Time Ace fares against my withering gaze.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Independence Through Underwear

Recently my son needed new undies, which meant a trip to Target and to the product placement as clothing section that passes for boy's clothing. Many options stood before him, including the Transformers, but, as usual, he was drawn to, and picked the Power Rangers.

My son is obsessed with two things, Power Rangers and Lego Racers, neither of which he has ever seen on TV, or actually played with for any appreciable amount of time. This obsession comes solely from his classmates who may or may not know what these things are either. If there were Lego Racer underwear, he would have undoubtedly chosen them, as they occupy roughly 95% of his waking thoughts. Lego Racers, not underwear. Well, I hope underwear doesn't occupy his thoughts.

You think I'm joking, but I can assure you that I am not. Everything has to do with Lego Racers. The car isn't a car, it's a Lego Racer. He and his sister run around the house racing as Lego Racers. Well, he's a Lego Racer, she's just running with him and using it as an opportunity to yell in the house. The dogs are Lego Racer dogs. Dinner is a dinner for Lego Racers. This morning, on the way to school, the song on the radio was a Lego Racers song. For the record, Lego Racers like Snow Patrol.

Along with obsessing over Lego Racers, he's obsessed with winning. Not surprisingly, he wins at everything, even events that are undertaken solely by himself. When he walks into a room, he wins. When he sits down at the table he wins. Sometimes Abby gets there first, at which point he'll say that he almost wins, which is, I imagine, a less traumatizing way of saying you lost. All day, every day, it's just winning and Lego Racers. Whenever he really gets going with the "I win" stuff, I can't help but think of the episode of Friends where the gang was talking about past sexual partners. Monica was remembering someone, I think his name was Scott, who would repeatedly say "I win" when he was, well, "winning". I know it's horribly inappropriate to think of that in regards to my children, but you live with someone saying "I win" easily 4 dozen times a day and see what pops into your head.

I know that he has no idea what a Lego Racer is, because at one point, he said "Lego Racers don't use blocks", why, I have no idea. He'll randomly come up with nouns that Lego Racers do or don't use as well as verbs that Lego Racers do or don't employ. Statements such as "Lego Racers grow jalapeƱos" or "Lego Racers lobby for peace in Palestine" would not be out of place in our home. Me being the thoughtful and understanding father that I am, could not let a statement of such gross ignorance go unchecked, even if it was uttered by someone who can't tie his own shoes. I explained that Lego Racers not only used blocks, but were made from blocks, Lego blocks to be exact. He looked at me like I was a fucking idiot. And people wonder why I choose to not interact with my children.

Getting back to the underwear, when I saw that he had picked the Power Rangers, I was tempted to direct him towards the Transformers, but I resisted. Previous attempts at getting him interested in Transformers met with dismal failure and the Transformer toys purchased for this purpose lay alone and unloved in the toy cabinet. Besides, it's his life and his childhood and it's up to him to pick which corporate created, live action commercial he chooses to gird his loins with. Plus, being that he's 4, hygiene isn't a top priority, so better the Power Rangers fall victim to insufficient wiping than my beloved Optimus Prime.

It is amazing though, how early we, as parents, try to steer our kids to liking the same things we like, and how quickly they resist, either because what you like is lame and old, or they just need to discover and fall in love with things on their own. I'm sure that if his friends had Transformers, it'd be a different story, but dear old dad being the only one isn't quite cool enough. I'm ok with that, as I'd rather he have something he can relate to his peers with, other than the eating of snot and snot by-products. Plus, now I can purchase Transformers in front of him with abandon and, when he asks if he can have one, trot out the fact that he does have some and he never plays with them. I hope to get bonus points for the use of a parental cliche.

In the meantime, he'll be happy with his underwear, unless things have changed and Lego Racers no longer use underwear. As I, clearly, have no idea what Lego Racers do and don't do, I could be completely wrong as to what Lego Racers wear. I know that back in the day, when I made the fateful switch to boxers, walking up and down a flight of stairs made me feel like a winner, so perhaps Lego Racers wish for the same freedom of movement. I'm sure by the end of the evening I'll have an answer, either by maternal decree that Lego Racers do in fact use underwear or by my son just randomly saying "Lego Racers don't go commando". At the rate he's pairing Lego Racers with the rest of the English language, this phrase isn't too far off.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Catching Up

Greetings. It's been a while, hasn't it? Things have been fairly busy at the compound, what with the game reviewing and general summertime laziness. Work has picked up as well, making it harder to post during normal business hours. I'm also experiencing a bit of writer's block when it comes to the funnier (well, attempts at funny anyways) posts, and to be honest, if I can't bring Teh Funny, I usually don't feel like writing.

Today, however, I'm going to make an exception and instead just bring folks up to date. Wheee.

- So, the review. It was pretty cool to see my name in "print" after all these years toiling away in obscurity. Linda is convinced that this is just the first step in my ascension to the ranks of the media darlings, thereby allowing us to retire early. I certainly don't see that happening, but those controlling the purse strings and the assignments at GameShark, seemed pretty happy with it so the first hurdle has been jumped. Hopefully the readers also found it helpful. When a game is as bad as that game was, it's pretty easy to write a review. The hardest part is to give an honest assessment without looking like you're just beating the thing up. After all, real, actual humans did work on the thing, and anyone who has ever worked in software development can tell you that you don't always have the time or the money to make your product as well as you'd like to. There's a fine line between outlining a game's faults and outright bashing it. There was more I could have said, and in retrospect I probably would have done the review differently, but I think for a first try, it came out OK. This week brings a deluge of games to get cracking on, so there will be plenty of opportunities to flex my critical muscles.

- I just finished "How Would a Patriot Act" by Glenn Greenwald and it was fairly interesting. It outlines the various ways that the Bush administration has gone above the law, and their justification for doing so. The book is a tad repetitive, but it outlines things very well, in simple English, so it's easy to understand exactly what's gone on. It's interesting, and scary, to me that there haven't been more questions asked during the various candidate debates of late, focusing on whether or not the President has the ability to break the law simply because (s)he is the President. In my mind, this isn't a liberal vs. conservative issue or a Democrat vs. Republican issue. You either think that the President, by being granted the ability to use military force in Afghanistan and Iraq, has the power to do whatever he wants to, in opposition to whatever laws may be on the books, and what the Constitution actually says, or you don't. I clearly fall in the latter camp, and I would imagine that most Americans do too, however the issues at hand haven't been presented in such clear cut terms thus far, something we can thank our spineless, crony infested Washington press for. Thanks guys! Personally, I think it's pretty scary that, at any moment, US citizens can be arrested, on US soil, and thrown in prison with no access to a lawyer and no indication of the charges being brought against them, to be kept there indefinitely. The book also helps put the threat of a terrorist attack in the proper perspective, which is to say, it'd be tragic, but hardly the country destroying event that those in power would have you believe.

- My advance ticket for the Transformers movie has been purchased and I am anxiously awaiting the screening. I know that I promised more Transformer reviews, but alas I am lazy and unmotivated to do so. I have a lot of them, and the task seems daunting to review them all in a timely manner. Plus, I want to combine the reviews with other things, so that those that don't care about the toys (most of you) have other things to read as well. We'll see. I haven't gone to a movie on opening night in I don't know how long, so this should be interesting. The geek culture will be well represented, no doubt. My MC Frontalot shirt will probably be in order. I'll resist the urge to purchase an Optimus Prime voice changing helmet and wear it to the screening. I'll put my estimate as to the number of people who do not resist said urge at 6.

- On Tuesday, the Gods of Rock are blessing us with a 7 cd set of Pearl Jam's concerts at the Gorge from the 05 - 06 tour. Verily, we are not worthy of such a blistering offering of rock, but we should accept it and be happy nonetheless.

- I finished Super Paper Mario last night. In the end, it was a love story, which was very nice. The game was fun too, and very well written. I highly recommend it to Wii owners. It's not like you have anything else to do with the console anyways.

- I also finished Puzzle Quest, thereby reclaiming my evenings. I was tempted to replay the campaign as a different character class, but figured I'd save that for the XBLA offering. I should warn you, that if you come up across me online, I am going to use Beserk Rage and Flaming Skulls as a one-two punch that not only leaves you reeling, but sounds your death knell. I would prefer to use them in that order, however given their spectacularly board changing properties, I am prepared to use them in a suboptimal configuration and still hand your ass to you, charbroiled and steaming, displayed in a pleasing manner, adorned with the proper garnishes. Presentation is everything.

- My children are driving me crazy, as kids of their age are supposed to do. My daughter has now taken to collapsing in a heap on the floor when she hears anything she finds to be unacceptable. In a store, it's pretty damn annoying, and is met with a swift trip to the car, where she is forced to endure a spate of loneliness. On occasion, we'll crack a window. At home it is met with amusement on our part, and a fair amount of mocking. I know you're not supposed to mock your children, but whoever wrote that, obviously never had kids. We've tried explaining to her, that if she asks for something, doesn't get it and instead collapses in a heap, that she still doesn't get what she wanted, only now she's got dust and pet hair on her person. She seems immune to reason. I think that if you could start a boarding school that accepted 2 year olds, you'd make millions. You could even give them back at age 5 and still make a ton. Those that would rebut this with the question, "Why would you have kids if you didn't want to spend time with them?" would be answered thusly: "I didn't know they'd be so damn annoying."

- It's really goddamn hot here, and we're in a drought, which should make for an interesting 4th of July. I'm convinced that my neighbor's annual fireworks extravaganza is going to result in my woods burning down. If that happens, I'm going to get it zoned for a mini subdivision that you access via my backyard. Convenient? No. Highly profitable? Yes.

As you can see, there's been a lot going on, so I hope you'll forgive the lack of updates. If not, well, just remember that you get what you pay for.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

To all of my fatherly friends far and wide, I wish you a happy and relaxing Father's Day. Hopefully your kids spend the day leaving you alone.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I R Dumb

For someone who makes a living working with software, at times I have the hardest time doing the simplest things with computers. Take the act of posting a picture to my gaming cabal's message board. I must be mentally deficient or something because I just can't seem to make it happen. I don't know how the youngsters handle all of their MySpaces and FaceBooks and whatever other crazy ass websites they got going on to manage documenting their lives. This right here is about the best I can do.

That being said, Bones, here's the Hellboy picture. The rest of you can enjoy it too, but you probably don't care nearly as much. If you do, you can get the figure by purchasing Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron at Best Buy. The figure is pretty damn cool and the movie is a nice little vampire yarn. It's a win-win.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Because I'm Just That Sad

Bonecrusher is just misunderstood. Really he is.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The First of Many

The fans have been clamoring for Transformers reviews and I am more than willing to oblige. But first, a word about the flowers.

Those of you who visited the gallery of flower pictures were probably surprised to see so dang many of them. I admit that I went a wee bit shutter crazy at the Botanical Gardens, but I have my reasons. When I was young, my family, my mom's parents, all the aunts and uncles on her side and their kids would all trek up to Cape Cod for the annual family vacation. One year, we were following my grandparents up, when my grandfather pulled the car off to the side of the road, got out and started taking pictures of these flowers he saw growing on the median. My grandmother was motioning for him to get back in the car, but he continued taking pictures until he was done. Then he got back in the car and we continued driving.

I asked my mom why Poppy would stop to get out of the car and take pictures of a flower when there are flowers everywhere. She told me that when my grandfather was in WWII, he was shot down over Germany and spent 18 months in a German POW camp. The experience taught him that when you see something of great beauty, even if it's a flower on the side of a Massachusetts highway, it's worth your time to get out and take a better look. I probably don't need to tell you that a sentiment such as that is completely lost on an impatient 11 year old, however for a slightly more patient 35 year old, it has some weight. Plus, whenever I see beautiful flowers, I think of my grandfather, and if taking pictures helps me feel closer to who he was, then by Crom, I'm going to take pictures until the film runs out.

Enough heavy stuff. On to the robots.

Between my somewhat cramped schedule and my meager photography skills, I'm not going to fill these reviews with bunches of pictures. I have a review game arriving any day now which will occupy my evenings and honestly, we have such bad lighting at home that any pictures I take will end up all grainy and crappy. Instead, my camera photos will have to do, along with links to galleries of pictures shot by more competent photogs than myself.

Today I'm going to talk about the Real Gear series of robots as I just got them all in the mail yesterday and I love them to pieces. The Real Gear series is based on the idea that the Allspark goes crazy on Earth and transforms regular devices into robots. How an MP3 player decides to align with evil robots bent on Earth's destruction so soon after being transformed into a sentient being is anyone's guess. I find that asking too many questions significantly diminishes my enjoyment of these things.

On to the pictures.

From left to right we have Speed Dial 800 (cellphone), Power Up VT6 (handheld video game machine), Booster X10 (mp3 player and earpiece) and Longview (binoculars).

From left to right we have Zoom Out 25x (camcorder) and Spy Shot 6 (digital camera).

Speed Dial 800
Speed Dial 800's alt mode is a cellular flip phone, complete with camera. As cell phones are pretty dang small nowadays, he's one of the few Transformers that has a life sized alt mode. Not sure if that means anything to you, but I like it. His "display" shows the time of 7:47 on one side which is a cheeky reminder that the movie comes out on July 4th. The other side has the same thing with the Autobot logo, signal strength and battery power. He gets better reception than I do, which is somewhat annoying. As with all of the robots in this series, his transformation is really simple yet entertaining and charming. Also, as with all of the robots in this series, arms and legs will pop off if too much pressure is put on them, which is preferred over having them snap completely off, but if you're planning on giving these to small kids, be prepared to do a lot of ball joint repair. His robot mode is fairly poseable, despite having unnaturally large shins. The joints appear to have the proper amount of stickiness, allowing for poses far more dramatic than the "Hidey Ho!" I have him currently modeling.

Power Up VT6
Power Up VT6 is a handheld video game machine. The fact that he's a Decepticon leads me to believe that Hasbro thinks that video games are evil, particularly Transformer video games, as that's what's being played on his chest. I can somewhat see Hasbro's point with this. After all, if kids are playing video games, they're not playing with Transformers. Oh well, I guess Hasbro will have to just get by with losers such as myself willing to part with hundreds of dollars in the vain hopes that they can reclaim their childhood. Power Up's transform mode is fairly simple, almost too simple as his head, arms and legs are all connected to ease the transformation from robot to game machine. Once you get the mechanics right the fun is somewhat taken out of him, however his alt mode has a bunch of working buttons and who doesn't like buttons. The back of his head is clear plastic, so that if you illuminate him from behind, his eyes not only glow green but peer into your soul and find you lacking.

Booster X10
Booster is the Real Gear version of Laserbeak and I'm just fine with that. The mp3 player transforms into the bird part and the headset just snaps onto his back as a laser cannon. The transform is super easy and his translucent, orange plastic feathers are the shit. He has poseable feet however they are very finicky which, when coupled with his natural front heaviness makes getting him to stand up a bit of a problem. Once you get him posed, don't plan on moving him lest you want to spend the next 15 minutes futzing with his feet. You can't tell from my crappy picture, but you can tilt his head, allowing you to express the full range of inquisitiveness you would expect from a murderous robot bird.

Longview is my absolute favorite. Maybe it's his massive quads, maybe it's his dude-like face, complete with wraparound visor thing. Maybe it's his big upper body that just screams "weight lifter". I don't know what it is, but this figure is just way too much fun to play with and pose. His alt form is a pair of binoculars that have a random robot image in them, however given that my eyes are much farther apart than your average 5 year old, I can't really see what's going on in there. His transform is pretty easy but with an interesting little part where you fold his head out from the recesses of his crotch. Bummer for him that he has to spend all of the time in alt mode sniffing his own nether regions, but maybe he can turn his head off in alt mode. Let's hope so. He's pretty poseable, and given my thinking of him as some sort of musclebound freak, I was compelled to make him flex for the camera. Later on he's going to go and kick sand in Booster X10's face.

Zoom Out 25x
Zoom Out is a camcorder, and as such is one of the tiniest camcorders you'll ever see. He has a flip out display that pictures, surprisingly enough, a giant robot. His focus ring also moves, if you want to pretend that you're actually using a camcorder the size of a box or raisins. He has an interesting transform, including pulling out these wing things from his back. I'm not sure what purpose they serve other than making him look like the offspring of a camcorder and a large beetle. He's not the most limber of the bunch due to the fact that the main camera body makes up his torso with the eyepiece as one shoulder and the lens as another. He can pose a little, as witnessed by my mad posing skills, but you won't be asking him to break out the breakdancing moves any time soon. I do like that he has one eye bigger and redder than the other. It evokes a zoom lens, or a horrific case of pink eye.

Spy Shot 6
Spy Shot is my second favorite of the Real Gear, and it's all because of his head. I can't put my finger on what his face reminds me of, but he's got these big red goggles and this vaguely Devo-ish head. You can get a better idea of what I'm talking about from this picture in the Seibertron gallery. His alt mode is a camera with a working shutter button. When I say "working", I mean "clicking". His transform is fun, if only because when you first pop out his one arm, his head is right there as if to say "Surprise!". I know it sounds stupid, but when I popped out his arm and saw his big Devo head, I laughed out loud. I'm easily amused. I know this now. He's fairly poseable, despite me not having him doing anything but kind of standing there and has a lot more leg range than the other ones. Plus, he's got pincer hands and pincer hands always win.

I promise to get into more detail for the other Voyager and Deluxe class robots and will possibly pen a 5 part editorial for the Leader class figures, but there's not too much you can say about these guys other than they're lots of fun, pretty creative and at 7 - 8 bucks a figure, you can pick up all 6 for slightly more than a Leader class figure.

As promised, here are links to's super awesome galleries. They have galleries for everyone but Booster X10 so you'll just have to take my word for how cool he is.

Speed Dial 800
Power Up VT6
Zoom Out 25x
Spy Shot 6

Monday, June 04, 2007


I'm working on getting some Transformer reviews up, as I know you're all anxiously awaiting them, but I have family visiting so I don't have a tremendous amount of time to do reviews. Plus, I need to start playing Death Jr. for the DS once I get it so that I can review it and help pay for all these goddamn robots.

In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of flowers that I took at the Botanical Gardens this past Saturday. Or, you know, don't.