Posted in Freedom Friday

Christmas Talk Already?

I wrote an entirely different post for today that I eventually scrapped because I felt the tone was not conducive to a positive atmosphere. My original post poked fun at the phrase “pay it forward” and it’d implied a message of performing good deeds with the expectation of getting something in return. Some folks call it reciprocation, but I have a better word for it.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve

In my world, I call it a transaction.

Anyway, after thinking about it, for today’s Freedom Friday I decided to talk about something else.

With winter right around the corner, it’s that time of year when I start thinking about putting the lawn furniture away, raking the leaves, and sealing all doors and windows to our house in preparation for those cold days when all I can see is my breath floating in the air. For some, autumn is over the day after Halloween. The Christmas lights go up. The carols play in the department stores. And the first snowflakes hit the ground.

It’s also the same time of year that many use to finish old or plan new projects. In my case, I look forward to this time as a way to draw closer to the family. Given I have such a stringent writing schedule, it’s nice to settle indoors and spend time with the people I love.

Christmas shopping season madness
Christmas shopping season madness

However, in the hustle and bustle of yearend, I’m eagerly anticipating one thing—Christmas shopping season. It may be a strange thing to think about, considering Christmas is a month away, but I actually love the buzz in the stores. As we get closer to that fateful period. Many of the game manufacturers wait until now to deliver their most prized treasures to consumers.

I know the film industry is on top of it. Who can deny Jurassic World hasn’t already prep’d the audience last summer with the subliminal suggestion that folks ought to offer the DVD or Blu-Ray as a gift under the tree? The whole opening sequence to the movie has Christmas in mind.

Then LEGO announced recently the company has a brick shortage and won’t be able to fill all its orders on time, in spite of opening new manufacturing plants throughout the world. I don’t know about you but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one LEGO set making an appearance. Isn’t there some unwritten rule about that? I don’t know.

Let’s not forget the crowds. Oh, how much the crowds make up the best part of the season. Elbow to elbow, everyone gunning for the last toy on the shelf. Is there anything else that can be so perfect?

Of course, I’m being facetious. The idea of driving around senseless to grab the last parking spot in the mall so that I can drag my butt into a store I never will visit again to buy a toy that in a year’s time will end up as part of a junk heap really appeals to me. Do you see me jumping for joy?

Okay, so maybe I’m not really looking forward to Christmas as much as I thought, but you can’t tell me it isn’t fun watching the season unfold into chaos. That’s the best part.

Nothing quite replaces the spirit of giving when everyone’s thinking about materialism.

After all, greed and fear is what makes the economy go around, especially during this time of year.

Get the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy now!

Are you looking forward to the holiday season? What are your plans?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Wyldstyle

I grew up with LEGO. I love LEGO. Can I make it any plainer? Now that I’m older, and maybe somewhat wiser, I play the LEGO video games. Yes, I’ve played them all. The incomplete list includes Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, and Batman. I say incomplete because if I were to list them all, we’d be here all day. Thank me for sparing you the inconvenience of my prattling on to infinity and beyond.

The LEGO Movie's Wyldstyle
The LEGO Movie’s Wyldstyle

All right, enough with the introductions. This week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday focuses on Wyldstyle, the female character extraordinaire featured in The LEGO Movie. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it. Know this, though, I’m a massive LEGO fan, hence, keeping tightlipped about the movie may prove to be a challenge for me. Nevertheless, I will not spoil it. I promise.

Where do I start? It’s an awesome movie. How’s that for a beginning? Really, it’s that good. I dare the skeptics to prove me wrong. The story’s awesome, the characters are awesome and it’s hilariously awesome (you didn’t think I’d pass up another opportunity to use the word awesome again, did you?)

Wyldstyle's funky hairstyle
Wyldstyle’s funky hairstyle

Let’s talk Wyldstyle. Who is she? What does she do? In a quick summary, she’s one of the movie’s lead characters with a funky hairstyle. When I mean funky, I mean two streaks, magenta and cyan running across her bangs that fall just above her right eyebrow, and a cool ponytail dancing from the left side of her head. What’s more? She sports the darkest hair and leathers that would stop a construction worker in mid thought.

Wyldstyle rocks the house
Wyldstyle rocks the house

There’s more to her, a lot more. She sees the potential in a situation without getting excited about it—understatement. Actually, when she finds something that works, she’ll keep at it until she exhausts every available means at her disposal to make things right.

Wyldstyle is headstrong, confident and never minces words whenever she’s in a tight spot with guns blazing overhead. She’s a true friend as well, keeping a confidence and being honest with whomever she meets. If an idea seems bad, she’ll say it’s a bad idea. She doesn’t hold back and she doesn’t hide her feelings like other tough girls. If she sees it, she says it.

Overall, Wyldstyle has her issues, like not following instructions, but if anyone were looking for a best friend, she fits the role to perfection.

If you haven’t caught her at the theater in The LEGO Movie yet, now’s your chance. Have at it and prepare to laugh like never before.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you seen The LEGO Movie yet? What did you think of it and Wyldstyle?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Games I Loved Playing

I’m an avid game player. I thought for Freedom Friday I’d treat you all to some of my favorite games of all time.

Monopoly - The Canadian Edition
Monopoly – The Canadian Edition

When I talk about games, I’m talking about video games. I enjoy playing the good board game with my kids and others, like The Game of Life, Monopoly and chess. But I get personal satisfaction when I vanquish invading Martians attempting to colonize earth in a no holds barred slugfest for my PSP.

Not that there’s anything wrong with loving our family game nights when we play a good round of Risk with ample snacks and drinks to carry us through the night!

Nonetheless, here are my über-favorite video games I’ve played over the course of my life. Maybe you might recognize some, maybe not.

Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64: Doesn’t Mario ever die? You know it’s rather awesome walking into my local Best Buy store and talking with the employees who grew up with Mario. “I love the part where I hit the block over the head and all the coins come out, one after another.” Yeah, it’s those scintillating conversations that make my trip to my nearest retailer something to look forward to. I mean, really. Hasn’t anyone not heard of Mario? I remember playing this game thinking, wow, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this. The game features bright, primary colors. The reds, greens and blues flood the screen, giving the gamer a wonderful and immersive experience. Boy, I wish I had kept the old Nintendo 64 console.

Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong 64

Donkey Kong 64: This is another one of those Nintendo 64 games that kept me entertained for hours. It belonged to my older son, but I played tons of it late night, into the weekend. I enjoyed racing through the quests and grabbing keys along the way. My favorite part was to change into the various apes to perform feats of wonder and magic (actually, a player couldn’t get to a particular part of the map without transforming into one of the apes with special abilities). This game truly caused me insomnia.

Duke Nukem 3D: How can I describe this game as anything short of “action game crack”? It was the first game that featured a rich 3D environment in a cartoon-like setting. The storyline was over-the-top, the characters—lovable, and Duke’s quotes—hilarious. Here’s one of my favorite lines in any game, ever…

“Time to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I’m all outta gum.”

Duke’s a gun-toting, muscle man is reminiscent of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator characters. I’ll never forget playing multi-player for the very first time with this game. One of my friends had his place wired with networked computers and we wailed on each other, flying through the levels in hysterics after killing off one of our opponents. Fun times!

SimCity 2000: Well, included in this, is any SimCity game, really. But I can’t tell you how much time I’d wasted building the absolute perfect city. Balancing residential, commercial and industrial zones to achieve that all-so-glorious-and-mighty, top mayor score. I still have screenshots of my cities I’ll peruse occasionally, admiring my handiwork. And of course, being the responsible player I was, I never let hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or alien invasion harm my cities. Or did I?

FIFA 10: I have almost all the FIFA Soccer games. I began playing them on the PC then moved to my PSP. I think FIFA 10 had the right balance between game play, music, aesthetics and sheer fun. I burned through all the tournaments, creating my own player and training him to score at will. I’d gotten so good on the hardest level that I think even the goalies were afraid of my Frankenstein monsters I’d created!

LEGO Batman
LEGO Batman

LEGO Batman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter: I’ve played them all. Completed each level. Collected all the bonuses. And found all the secrets. These games are awesome. I have yet to play some of the newer titles, but I’m sure I’ll get to them soon. The wonderful part about these games are the puzzles. I loved working through a level a few times to see if I could find every item. Most of all, I adored, yes, adored having the ability to play the various levels as different characters. This is what makes these LEGO games so addictive (not to mention blasting away anything into a big pile of collectable bricks).

Do you have any games you like playing to pass the time? What platform do you use to play your games (ie. phone, tablet, laptop)?