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Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 The Summary: Part 3 "All Things Gamey"

2010 was the year of the sequel when it came to video games. It seemed more so than ever that publishers were less willing to take a risk and put their sole focus into producing safe bet sequels to established franchises. That’s not to say there were not any original IP’s put out this year but they were few and far between.
One of the few original IP's released this year.

These comments should in no way be taken as a slight on the quality of games that arrived this year. All in all it was one of the best years ever to be a gamer with a glut of high quality releases causing more than a few gamers to stare at their pile of shame while bemoaning the lack of time in their lives (myself included). Here are my highlights for your perusal.
Commander Shepherd Returns.

February saw the release of one of my most anticipated games of all time, Mass Effect 2 and boy it didn’t disappoint. Generic combat, poorly implemented inventory management and boring exploration missions were replaced by tight 3rd person shooter mechanics, an almost non-existent inventory system and some of the best mission structure I have ever seen. In fact about the only bad thing I can think of with the game is the monotonous mineral collection mini game (which was fixed to some extent in a later patch). Along with a steady stream of both free and paid DLC, ME2 gave you plenty of reason to keep it in your Xbox the whole year round.
Sergio Leone eat your heart out.

The next big gaming release in my eyes was Red Dead Redemption. This is simply a masterpiece of storytelling and gameplay. The open world that Rockstar has created is simply breathtaking, seamlessly portraying a living breathing world that evokes the spirit of Sergio Leone and transports the player into the life of the title character John Marsten. Generally I find open world games a bit of a chore to get through. Once I am done playing in the sandbox I tend to lose interest as the narrative is not strong enough to carry my through to the end. RDR bucks that trend by creating a compelling cast of characters that range from the weird to the intense and somehow manages to make the player care for every single one of them. With RDR and ME2 the gaming industry dispelled the notion that games cannot tell an engaging tale.
A Good Shooter on the Wii?????

The Wii this year fought back against claims that it is nothing but a kids system with a range of games aimed at the older generation. The high quality of Super Mario Galaxy 2, the nostalgia of NBA JAM and the hardcore difficulty of Donkey Kong Country Returns all help to bring the Wii back into the minds of the serious gamer. The major coup that the Wii pulled off was the successful return of Goldeneye. This remake was more than a simple graphical face lift giving fans of the N64 original new levels, tight shooter mechanics and online multiplayer that actually worked on the Wii (which really has never been done.) The replacement of Peirce Brosnan with the current Bond Daniel Craig may cause some purists issues though in reality it is both a minor issue and a logical choice for creators Activision.
Production in South Korea reduced by 60%
Starcraft returned to our PC’s this year after a 12 year hiatus with part 1 of a 3 part sequel. The fact that Blizzard is milking the proverbial cash cow by splitting Starcraft 2 into 3 parts (one part for each of the races) was met with anger and disappointment from a lot of fans. It did allow Blizzard to tell a more complete story in the single player. The first part told the story of the Terran race and a rebel leader Jim Raynor as he faces a dictator, visions from a Protoss priest, Zerg incursions and his old flame Kerrigan who is now the Zerg leader, the Queen of Blades. The quality of the game is as high as you would expect coming from Blizzard and while they may have played it safe with the RTS mechanics they have still put together the best RTS since Company of Hero’s.
A great story is the perfect topping to superb multiplayer
I can’t let a summary for 2010 go by without mentioning the largest entertainment release of all time. Call of Duty: Black ops smashed all sales expectations (and records) out of the water selling hundreds of thousands of copies in the first week alone. The game its self was a strong continuation of the COD series, introducing a new time frame (The cold war/Vietnam war) and a new hero (voiced imperfectly by Australia’s own man of the moment Sam Worthington). Multiplayer as always is COD’s strong point, though this time developers Treyarch have molded a compelling single player story that weaves a tale of intrigue that the best thriller writers would be proud of. All in all another solid entry in what is probably the premier game franchise today.
So for the final paragraph I want to do what every Tom, Dick and Harry does and that is give out a few “best of” titles for the year, I know it is clichéd but sometimes a cliché is fun.
Game of the year: Mass Effect 2, (Runner Up: Red Dead Redemption)
Best Multiplayer: COD: Black Ops (Runner Up: Halo Reach)
Best New IP: Darksiders: (Runner Up: Epic Mickey)
Biggest Disappointment: Star Wars, The Force Unleashed 2 (Runner Up: Puzzle Quest 2)
Worst Game: Naughty Bear (Runner Up: Star Wars, The Force Unleashed 2)

Massively Disappointing.

Words cannot describe how bad this game is.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 The Summary Part 2: Music

Well 2010 has been a pretty good year for my style of music. I say my style because music is such a subjective medium that I don’t believe that any review can accurately describe the feelings that are evoked by a piece of music for any individual. That being said here are some of my musical highlights for the year:

Aussie Rock at it's most basic.

Early in the year I was greeted by quite a few new additions to my musical catalogue. Airbourne – No Guts, No Glory was basically the same at their previous album but in a world of soft rockers like Nickleback and Maroon 5, their no nonsense approach to rock is a welcome blast from the past. Sevendust hit us with a new album in March and like all of their albums it was another great metal album that no one seems to be listening too. Support these guys folks, they bring the melody with the metal!
Melodic Metal at it's best.

At about the same time I was greeted by the biggest surprise of the year. Slash’s debut album was a ripper. Showcasing his brilliant guitar playing along with some exceptional crafted tunes Slash with the help of some guest stars (Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge and Fergie were standouts!) has crafted one of the best rock albums of the decade. This man can bring it and in the process has made the world stand up and say “Axel who?”
Rock Album of the year!

August brought us a new album from Avenged Sevenfold and it was another corker. Once again A7X have thrown away the standard conventions followed by Metal bands and left us with Nightmare. My wife fondly refers to A7X’s recent albums as “dramatic metal” and during the album you will hear strains of their influences like Metallica and Iron Maiden. This is a quality album to both bang your head too and enjoy at a deeper level. Metal with a splash of different!
Dramatic Metal Ahoy!!

Disturbed brought their new album to us at the end of August and really little can be said. It was a bit of a disappointment, most songs sounding a little samey and apart from a few standout songs (Asylum and Another Way to Die) it was a very generic album from one of the biggest Metal acts in the world today. All in all you are better off grabbing the singles of iTunes than wasting money on the whole album.
Not an Epic Fail, Just a minor fail.

The final big release of the year for me was AB-III, by Alter Bridge. The band consisting of the good parts of Creed (i.e. everyone except Scott Stapp) and rock wailer Myles Kennedy once again has released a very accomplished Hard Rock album. The sound brought forth on this album is both new and familiar at the same time, with one particular song (Slip through the void) opening with a very Pink Floydesque introduction before kicking into the familiar riffs of their past Albums. A big thumbs up from me!
Simple title, kick ass rock songs.

All in all a good year in all for the rocker within us all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 The Summary Part 1

2010 the summary……
Well it is that time of year. It is the time to get the Xmas trees ready, time to get inundated with bad greeting cards and time to reflect on the year that was. This, dear readers, is what I am going to do now, go over the things that excited, annoyed or surprised me over the last 12 months. I am going to split this up in to 4 categories to make reading easier for you folk out there (and it gives my older readers the ability to skip the topics that they don’t understand ;-))
Well the year that was for movies, was it good or bad. For me it was somewhere in between. There were a lot of dud’s out there this year but the big surprise for me was the return of the old school action movie. Predators, The Losers, The A-team and of course The Expendables all brought the 80’s action vibe back into the mainstream and I for one loved it. Now these movies are no Oscar winners but they know it, in fact they revel in it. Big guns and big bangs never get old and these movies prove it.

No Story + Big Guns = A Shitload of fun.
My best movie of the year is Inception. I know I wrote an article earlier about how I disagreed with critics saying it was the most unique piece of cinema around, and I still agree with this point however it doesn’t change the fact that this is one hell of a heist movie. I would go as far as to say that this is probably the best heist movie ever made (yes even better than Heat). Great performances from great actors make this super confusing concept not only seem plausible but actually real. I will never look at a metal spinning top the same way.

A true mind bender!
Another surprise movie for me was Daybreakers. It came out of the blue and made me remember why Vampires were still badass and not pussy sparkly emo dudes that can’t stop pining because the love of their life wants to cuddle someone with a bit more hair. What made Daybreakers so cool was the fact it was Australian made. I thought Aussies had forgotten how to make genre flicks and only knew how to make gritty Melbourne based crime dramas and low budget comedies, but this proved me wrong. If you want to remember when vampires were on the top of the monster pile and forget the fact they are now nothing but a teenage girl’s fantasy then this is the movie for you.

Aussie vamp flick that makes you forget about Twilight
In wrapping up movies here are some more flicks that I enjoyed in 2010: Date Night, The Book of Eli, Hot Tub Time Machine, Law Abiding Citizen, Iron Man 2 and Get Him to the Greek. Movies I didn’t like included: I Love You Man, Edge of Darkness, anything at all to do with emo vampires and the steamy pile that is Sex and the City 2 (didn’t even have to watch that to know it was crap). Finally movies I missed that I fully intend to watch ASAP: Harry Brown, Shutter Island, Robin Hood and Tron: Legacy.

The best part of a pretty good movie!
Tomorrow: Music, in the days following both Games and Miscellaneous will be examined

Monday, November 15, 2010

Metal and Gaming, A match made in Heaven/Hell?

Many great minds have wondered over the years, what sort of music goes best with gaming? Well on Wednesday the 10th of November Playstation, Activision and Metallica set out to put the case for Heavy Metal to take the gaming music title.
With a group of friends and family I set off to see one of the biggest metal acts on the planet, Metallica. The week prior I had received an email stating that PS3 and Activision would be running a Guitar Hero promotion before Metallica took the stage. Being an avid gamer  and not being interested in the support acts, I convinced the rest of the crew that this would be a great place to get a few drinks and to fill in some time before Metallica took the stage.
So with this in mind we all set out to look for the PS3 bar. Once found we were greeted by some big GH: Warriors of Rock promo material and a couple of security folk ushering people in. As we were allowed in we were all handed a voucher for a free drink (which immediately settled my non-gaming friend’s apprehension at being there) and an entry in the lucky door competition (The prize, a brand spanking new PS3).  With a free drink in hand and a raffle ticket safely tucked away I turned my attention to the stage area.
The stage area was dominated by two massive screens, both showing two keen Metallica fans fumble their way through “Nothing else matters” on Guitar Hero Metallica. This brought about my first revelation for the evening; being a Metallica fan doesn’t automatically make you good at Guitar Hero as these two contestants were clearly demonstrating.  After finishing the contestants were thanked and rewarded with GH merchandise by an eager and competent MC. The MC then went on to explain that the best GH player of the evening would receive a sparkling new PS3/Warriors of Rock bundle.
The rules for the winners were strange however. The difficulty of the song was not taken into account and score didn’t matter. The winner was based firstly on percentage from their chosen song and secondly on their note streak, leading to some contestants being dumped from the competition when they were clearly better players then those that were winning.  A promotion for hardcore gamers this was not.
The crowd in the bar however were clearly enjoying themselves, watching the screens and singing along. I was also having a great time, the anticipation of the upcoming concert mixed with my love of gaming and a splash of alcohol was creating somewhat of a euphoric state for me. As the night wore on and the line-up for a turn shrunk I decided it was time to put my formidable GH skills to the test (I am the greatest GH player ever, as long as we only play on medium) so with a friend in tow I wandered towards the stage.
Once in the line I managed to have a small conversation with the MC. He went on to explain that while GH: Metallica was being played this was a promotion for GH: Warriors of Rock and the only reason that this wasn’t being played on stage was due to the crowd begging for GH: Metallica. Obviously in a room full of large, long haired, heavy metal fans the smart move is to do as they ask, hence GH Metallica on stage. I also asked him about the strange rules. His response was that he was instructed to use these rules by Activision who felt that it was the fairest way for noobs to be scored (and yes they apparently used the word noob.)
My attempt at getting on stage was cut short by the announcement that Metallica were 10 minutes from going on stage.  At this point the winner was announced and with a strangely appropriate score of 100% and a note streak of 666 (proving that Metal is still the devil’s domain) a young fellow by the name of Phil was ushered to the stage to be presented with a picture of his winnings, which luckily  he would receive by mail and wouldn’t have to look after it during the concert (which would be quite the task in the mosh pit).  With the formalities wrapped I made a mad dash to the floor to witness the night’s main act. But on my way I couldn’t help but contemplate the evening so far, as far as pre-concert entertainment goes it was a somewhat unique but entertaining way to begin the night. It also served to highlight gaming’s continued march into the mainstream. If a room full of hardcore heavy metal fans can participate and be entertained by some time with a PS3 surely it shows there is fun to be had with gaming by just about anyone.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Trailwalker part 3: Revenge of the Chafed Thighs

The final part is here, I know you have all been awaiting this eagerly. Well fear not all 3 of my readers, you should be satisfied with the exciting conclusion to this torrid tale.

Leaving Hornsby for the final time, Jono, Amy and I were starting to feel the fatigue. Tired eyes and driving in Sydney do not mix and to add to this everyone was starting to get a little short tempered. But with a job to do and more coffee we soldiered on. If the walkers could do it we could certainly achieve our small part. We got to checkpoint seven at about 2 in the arvo. The location was Davidson Park, a lovely little spot on the river. Finding a picnic table we went about setting up all the comforts of home for our brave walkers.

Watching the trail of walkers come into this idyllic spot we noticed our team. It was apparent there were problems, Greg was walking like a man with sandpaper on his nuts and funnily enough that metaphor is not far from the truth. Every exercising man’s worst nightmare had hit Greg, the dreaded chafe had struck. The poor man was in pain and needed some form of relief. This was a service that Jono and I were not willing to offer. Supplying food, drink and comfort was in our contract, not rubbing the red man down with vaso. I have standards after all. So we sent him off to the medical tent, so the tender hands of those more qualified could fix his redder than usual ass cheeks.

So with a freshly lubed up Ginger and two newly strapped girls the walkers soldiered on heading towards the final checkpoint before the finish. With only a 7 km walk we knew we didn’t have time to get back to Hornsby so we headed to the nearest shopping centre for a fresh caffeine fix. While there we braved the supermarket to hunt down a cooked chook and some bread rolls and once again hit the road. Now at this point I would like to say that while my car is quite large and comfy I was sick of seeing the inside of it. At this point I had done approximately 500kms in 24 hours and even the most comfy of automobiles gets on one’s nerves after this amount of time, especially through the maddening streets and rage inducing traffic of Sydney.

Onto checkpoint 8 and we were well and truly early. So we met up with the other half of our support crew and enjoyed the spoils of our hunt with some mayo and cheese. With time to kill the girls retreated to the party bus where they feverishly worked on a surprise for the walkers. As punishment for sleeping through the checkpoint earlier in the day, they had promised a motivational speech like no other and they were putting the final touches on a speech that would rival anything Winston Churchill or George Washington could summon. So with the girls engrossed in their speech writing, Jono and Amy both decided a lay down in the sun was a good idea and promptly went to sleep. Being all on my lonesome I decided to retreat to the car and watch some American Dad on my laptop. The comedic stylings of Seth McFarlane kept me entertained until two new members rocked up to join the support crew.

Stacey’s (the remaining blonde) parents had arrived and with all the enthusiasm of people that have had a good 8 hours sleep began pacing and waiting eagerly for their daughter and her team mates to arrive. So keen to see them Stace’s mum boldly headed off down the trail to meet them. Those of us who had received less than the recommended amount of shut-eye patiently waited for our charges to arrive. As we noticed Greg’s insane boardies round the bend we also noticed that those legs were once again doing their best not to touch each other lest the chafe totally destroy his will power. So as the team stopped for a moment and Greg received a fresh dose of Vaseline to caress his inner thighs the Girls delivered their amazing motivational speech.

And what a speech it was, borrowing lines from some of the most famous Disney movies of all time the speech was finished with a rousing chant of Quack, Quack, Quack imitating the most famous moment of Emelio Estivez’s movie career, the finale of the Mighty Ducks. This speech was enough to raise the dead, so with a quick check around to make sure that no Zombies had arisen we waved and cheered off the team on their final 11kms. It was like something out of a western, 3 heroes slowly walking off in to the sunset with their friends and family waving them off.

It was at this point in time I could feel my sanity slowly starting to leave me and I think the strange little man sitting on my shoulder was feeling the same. We drove on to the final checkpoint with the intention of maybe catching a few minutes sleep in the car and/or listening to the Raiders destroy the cowgirls in the footy. Unfortunately we were denied both of these things. Firstly being Sydney, the Raiders game wasn’t on the radio and secondly none of us could find it in us to get some sleep. So we decided to explore the finishing area and watch some of the walkers finish their arduous trek.

The finish line was on a cricket oval that looked out over Sydney Harbour, just outside the main gates of HMAS Penguin. The view was something special. No matter where you go and what you see there is something unique about Australia’s most famous waterway. The walkers entered the oval and had a marked and bannered track to walk down as their names were chanted out of a PA system. The smiles on the faces of these brave folk were something to behold and I couldn’t wait to see the same look on the face of our team.

But like all good stories there was one final twist.

At about 8pm we received a panicked call. The walkers were lost. Having left the previous checkpoint without their walking lights (after being told they wouldn’t need them) the team had arrived at a park and in the pitch black of a moonless night had gotten turned around. On the edge of hysteria they had called us in the hope that one of us could point them in the right direction. So with no thought to the enormity of the task at hand and no knowledge of exactly how far the team were away from us Stacey’s old man set off like a man possessed. The fatherly instinct had kicked in and there was no way that he could stand by and do nothing.

After Dave’s heroic exit we received another call. The guys had found another team of walkers and were trailing their helpful lights. Our worries eased and we knew now that there could be no more possible problems in this epic journey. Things only improved when we received word that Dave had reached the team with a walking light and that they were only 20 minutes away. So with the knowledge of their imminent arrival and a case of beer under our arms, the support crew plus Stacey and Nicky’s parents we set up at the finish line, eagerly awaiting the sight of our loved ones walking towards their well-deserved applause.

With all of us watching the road intently and applauding other teams as they finished one of us noticed the loudest pair of board shorts man has ever worn and we all leapt in excitement.

They had arrived, the finish line was insight and the smiles were leaping onto their faces. Greg still walking like a man with a cactus in his pants lifted his walking poles in glee and put his arms around the girls. They had done it. In 36 hours and 55 minutes my family and close friends had truly completed something extraordinary. 100kms, 30 of it through Grade 5 walking trails. Almost 37 hours of, blisters, sore ankles knees and feet. The loss of a team mate, getting lost in the dark and a case of chafe that had made Greg red from toes to tits, all of this and so much more had assaulted our heroes on their journey and none of it caused them to falter.

In that moment I was almost dumbstruck with pride. These three people had been through hell for the benefit of others and along with my wife had raised over $7000 dollars for those that need it most. It truly was a case of ordinary people achieving the extraordinary. I also felt pride for my small part in the proceedings. I like to think that the small effort I went to helped them achieve this amazing feat. So with a beer in hand and a hug for the team we all sat and enjoyed the moment. The astonishing had been achieved and I was lucky enough to be there to witness it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Part 2 the Oxfam Trailwalker report.

So where did I leave you……. That’s right, Amy had just pulled out and the others were about to leave checkpoint 3.

Well the team were determined, the loss of a team mate meant that all three remaining members had to watch each other and provide motivation during the tough times ahead. This motivation would be needed sorely as the team wouldn’t see any their support folk for over 20kms. So with the team members off towards checkpoint 4, and Amy tucked in the back of the party van, the 4 support crew headed back to Hornsby for a couple of hours shut-eye before we met the walkers again at checkpoint 5.

It seemed that as soon as I had shut my eyes my brother was waking me up to head off and see the crew. It was 3am, Saturday morning and we had a 20min drive to Checkpoint 5 at St Ives showground. So with sleepy eyes, a can of rockstar and a thermos of Chicken soup my brother and I jumped into the car and headed off. Driving in Sydney at this time in the morning is a lot easier and we got to the showground in about 15 minutes. Once there we met up with the other half of the support crew and once again set up the picnic area.

We saw the team walking towards us, obviously exhausted but in good spirits. They were tired and happy. They had a look of triumph on their face with 60kms down and 40 to go. This 40 was the easiest part of the walk as far as the trail goes and the walkers could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The two girls sat down with some soup and bread and casually changed their strapping tape, talking as if they had just been for an afternoon stroll. Greg (the ginger) however was cooling down fast and we feared that he was in the early stages of hypothermia. So with the car heater at full blast, a change of clothes and a couple of cups of hot soup we nursed Greg back to the point where his finger and toes were able to be felt, allowing him to get the motivation back to keep on keeping on.

With the team off again my brother and I headed back to base camp. It was now 5:30am and we knew we had to be at the next checkpoint at about 9 in the morning. My brother promptly settled into bed and went back to sleep and while I would have liked to this was not possible due to a combination of worry for my wife and the walkers and the large can of energy drink I consumed to actually make it to the previous checkpoint. So tired, yet wide awake I sat down with a fresh cup of coffee and loaded up Starcraft 2 on the laptop to fill in an hour or so.

It was at this point that my wife finally felt human enough to speak to us. The spewing had subsided and with a large dose of panadol and asprin she was able to return to the world of the living. So with an extra support member now on board and a list of food that we had to purchase from McDonalds we once again hit the road. Quickly running into Maccas Hornsby we realised that we may be running a little late and with Sydney traffic doing it’s very best to piss me off we ended up being about 10 minutes late to the next checkpoint. We felt horrible we had failed the team but when we arrived we realised that the situation was actually worse. The other half of the support team hadn’t arrived yet and they were carrying all of the clothes and strapping for the team. Calling them got us nowhere as their phones kept ringing out. Had something happened to them? Had they gotten lost? Or worse had they forgotten?

So the team set off again, angry and smelly. With no fresh clothes and old strapping tape the next 10kms would be tough. Luck struck the team though with all of us spotting the party van down the hill. We all headed down there and found the girls asleep in their van. They had driven straight from the previous checkpoint to here and decided to sleep in their cars. The problem being their phones froze and their alarms didn’t go off. Of course this meant our phones weren’t ringing through and we couldn’t wake them. Unceremoniously they were awoken, and with embarrassed looks the girls got up and saw to the teams clothing and strapping needs.

With a better outlook now that they had fresh outfits, the anger that the walkers had towards the girls evaporated and turned into good natured ribbing. The team were fresh and keen and wanted to power on. So with a wave of support we sent them on their way, 30 odd kms to go and 2 checkpoints to the finish line. Back into the cars we piled and headed back for what would be the support crew’s final trip to Hornsby. The three of us had quick showers to freshen up, grabbed more of our stimulant of choice (coffee for myself and brother and a diluted powerade for Amy) and hit the frog and toad towards the 7th checkpoint.

That is the end of part 2. Like all good trilogies hopefully this part left you wanting more. Tomorrow I will return with the triumphant finale and one final hurdle that threatened to derail the team.

Monday, August 30, 2010

2 Blondes, A Doc and a Ginger do the Extraordinary.

The day has been and gone, the day that my wife, my brother-in-law, his wife and my brother's girlfriend lose any shred of sanity and go through the hell of a 100km walk. Now this walk was not just for the hell of it, but for Oxfam, the international charity helping underprivileged people and communities all around the world. So the fact that this trek to hell and back was for charity makes my close family slightly less insane but let’s just say I still have the men-in-white on speed dial.

This blog will be a retelling of my time as a support person to these stark raving mad folk as they trek though some of the toughest walking trails this side of the Sahara (ok slight exaggeration.) My day started with me going to work just like any normal Friday. My wife and her team had gone to Sydney the day before and were starting at 8:30 am. So here I was stuck at work in Canberra while my wife was about to start her walk 350 kms away at the Hawkesbury river. Shit bloke aren’t I.

This meant I spent most of my day staring at my phone, hoping to see some update on the interwebs as to how they were travelling. Needless to say I didn’t get much work done and I am glad my boss didn’t catch my constant starting at the twitter and facebook screens on my mobile. As I sat in my comfy office the team were walking through to Checkpoint one, a grade 5 trail (which is basically 1 step shy of mountain climbing) that took them to the middle of the Ku-rin-gai chase National park.

3pm rolled around and I high-tailed it out of work and hit the highway. With G.A.P and Australian Gamer podcasts to keep me entertained I hit the Hume highway and headed north. Just as I was about to stop and refill the tanks (mine not the car’s) at Macca’s I got a call from my wife stating they were at the second checkpoint, 32 km’s into the walk. She said that my brother had got there in time to see to their support needs and that they were feeling really good especially as the hardest part of the walk was now over. I was feeling like the worst husband in the world at the moment, not being there in the team’s hour of need. So I grabbed a Large Cap and a Big Mac and got back in the car.

I got to Hornsby at about 7:30pm and headed to my parent’s flat. Once there I met up with my brother and old man and got to preparing a few things I thought the walkers could use. Knowing that one checkpoint would be at about 4am in the morning and it would be bloody cold I set about making my famous Chicken and Sweet corn soup, thinking that the warm chickeny goodness would be just the ticket at that ungodly time of the morning. With the soup in the slow cooker and my brother’s Pasta salad in tow we waited out the front for the other half of our support crew to pick us up and meet the team.

At about 9pm we got picked up by my brother-in-law’s sister-in-law and her friend (not as confusing as it sounds) stopped for the requested bucket of hot chips and headed to checkpoint 3. We got there about half an hour early so we set up a nice picnic for the walkers. Chairs, rugs, food, drink all was ready for their arrival and I had all of my pep talks sorted out in my brain. A line of walkers steadily streamed by, their walking lights bobbing along towards the checkpoint and then we saw them, storming towards us. And I mean storming; things were not good for the team and with the exception of my wife the team was in a bad place (mentally not physically. Physically it was quite a nice spot!)

This is where irony hit home hard. My wife the only happy team member at the time started to vomit. By vomit I mean she was seriously wrestling the bear and to make matters worse this bear was a grizzly. This was the hardest time of the experience for me. My wife, who I had watched for the last 8 months prepare for this event had to pull out 46km in. Devastated only begins to describe how I felt. What was even worse was the fact that I knew my wife was feeling twice as bad. The only good to come out of this was the team seemed to pull together and use this setback in a positive way. The remaining three members used this as motivation and the mood seemed to change from one of anger and exhaustion to one of steely determination. From this point on there was no doubt that these three would finish the walk.

Stay tuned for Part two of my Oxfam walk round up tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Oxfam 100km walk

I just thought I would put this up for those that are interested.

On Friday my Wife, Brother-In-Law and two others will begin the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km walk. This walk starts from the Hawksbury river and Finishes close to Taronga Zoo on the harbour. It must be completed in 48 hours. For those that know the area it is a very rough and hilly trail with the first two checkpoints being catagorised as level 5 walks (one step shy of mountain climbing)

So if you are interested in how they team is going you can check them out at, on twitter @trailwalker42 and on Facebook in the group "2 Blondes, A Doc and a Ginger"

On the walk they will be doing live updates on Facebook and Twitter as to their progress and I will be updating my Twitter (@Hewso81) as well as I follow them around and meet them at the checkpoints with well earned food and drink.

So if any of you have a spare $5 or are interested in how they are going please head to the website and make a donation. Every little bit helps.

Thanks for your time

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Incepting Expendable Infamous Nightmares

Welcome all to: My first post (be careful to hold in your excitement!).

In an attempt to get some more writing experience and to satisfy my delusions that people actually care what I think I have started this blog. It will hopefully be informative, humorous and ever so slightly strange all at the same time. Basically my personality on the virtual page.

Now that the introductions are over, on to my first topic. Inception.

I was late to the party for this movie, not seeing it until about 4 weeks into it's release. During these 4 weeks I had friends, family, neighbours and even the bloke at the bottle-o telling me I am a crazy S.O.B for not having seen it yet. I was told it was an amazing film with a brilliantly executed story. So going in I had huge expectations that this was going to be the film of the year.

Well I was a little let down. Don't get me wrong, it is a good movie - hell a great movie but not the life changing experience I was led to believe. Basically my feelings towards this movie are as follows: Heat + (Matrix - Bad leather outfits) = Inception. It was a clever heist movie and nothing more. Now this isn't a bad thing at all and I think that it will be remembered for years to come, but not in the way that a movie such as "Lawrence of Arabia" or "Gandhi" is. I feel it will be remembered in a similar to the way "Back to the Future" or "Jurassic Park" are, great fun movies that took an existing genre and added something new. I guess I am saying that Inception is an awesome movie, just not the second coming that some reviews are suggesting.

Now on to the actual Second Coming - The Expendables.

When I say "second coming" I mean the return to the wonder of the 80's action flick and all of the excess it entails. Really if you like Guns, Gore and things that go boom you need to get out and see this movie. I have read some reviews that indicate the story is lacking and the character development is non existent and the only response I have to that is "NO SHIT DUMBASS!" This movie doesn't need small details like character development or plausibility and the story only has to be an excuse to blow a hole bunch of bad guys/buildings/cars into tiny little pieces. This is a movie to go see after you have been at the pub with your mates and is exclusively targeted at this crowd. I can't imagine that this will appeal to many of the fairer sex but for the burly blokes out there this is a must see.

Next, Infamous. Being new to the PS3 I have only just gotten hold of this gem of a game. For those out there who haven't played this you need to give it a whirl. A beautiful open area (that thankfully isn't New York again), an interesting story and a guy who can wield electricity and move about like Spiderman. This really is one of the best games I have played recently and is a great reason to own a PS3.

Speaking of the PS3, is it just me or is the PS3 becoming more of a Media centre that plays games than a Games console that has media capabilities? I know it is a fine distinction but with Play TV, I-view, VidZone, the upcoming Channel 7 catch up service and obviously Blu-ray capability the PS3 seems to be focusing more and more on being an all-round entertainment package as opposed to a Hardcore gaming system. Not a bad thing, just an observation.

Finally I just want to mention the new Avenged Sevenfold album - Nightmare. If you like your metal with a splash of different you really owe it to yourself to check it out. See below for a link to the video for the title track it is worth checking out (not for the kiddies though).

Well that's it folks, My first blog,  I hope you enjoyed and please feel free to add comments below and tell me how dreadful it is.