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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Final Farewell for the Big Man

Losing your pet is always a hard thing for a family. Only other pet owners know what you go through when you lose a loving member of your household. I am going through this now having lost my Great Dane today, to what I can only assume was in relation to a tumour that had recently been diagnosed.

Sampson, was a loving member of my family, my wife and I bought him before we had children and really was always an important part of our life. From the first day we got him and he left a nasty package in the hallway (it wasn’t a small one either, the size of the dog = the size of the surprise)to me going crook at him last night for barking at someone walking past the house, his presence was always appreciated.

Now owning a Great Dane leads to unique problems like owning a snow shovel to pick up the poo, losing small children in holes he had dug and assuring the elderly neighbour that the dog sticking his head over the 6 foot fence was not standing on anything and he was just saying hello. 

I buried Sampson today at my In-Laws farm, which itself was a challenge. The size of the trench we had to dig to give the big fella a proper burial was enormous and took myself and my father in-law the better part of an hour to dig out. The hardest part was telling my son that Samps was no longer with us. My youngest (2) was too young to realise what had happened but my eldest (6) knew exactly what was going on. My wife was the person that had to tell him and I don’t envy what she had to do. Dealing with her own grief and telling a crying child that he couldn’t play with his puppy anymore is a task I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

In the end you have to look back at the fun, I know it is clich├ęd but really how else does one deal with grief.

I know that this blog post is self indulgent, but giving Big Stoopid a proper Eulogy is something I had to do. Every family member deserves a proper goodbye. So goodbye my mate you will be missed.

He was a lap dog.


R.I.P Sampson
5/1/2003 – 20/7/2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

True Electric Worms

Time again for me to put some of the things I have seen, done, experienced down on a digital page for your perusal. It has been a little while since I have done one of these so I have a few things to write about.

First is Electric Mary.  Now for those that don’t know, Electric Mary is an Aussie rock band from Melbourne. They play old style rock, in fact the band slogan is “Rock and Roll served up the way it used to taste.” The band sticks true to this slogan with clear influences from classic bands like Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue and even a little bit of AC/DC. I first became aware of this band when they supported Alice Cooper on his most recent tour. They played for about 45 minutes and kicked it the whole time. Massive guitar solo’s great vocals and blues rock riffs abounded and I was immediately in love. I promptly purchased their CD “Down to the Bone” and it has been in heavy rotation on my Ipod ever since.

That was 2 years ago now and I have been anticipating some new material ever since. Well on the 17/7/11 my wish will come true. “Long time coming” is the name of their new EP/DVD that brings 6 new tracks on the CD and 7 live performances on the DVD. Trust me if you like hard rock and want to support Aussie music you owe it to yourself to check these guys out. Their album can be bought on iTunes and the new EP can be pre-ordered here: http://www.waterfrontrecords.com/product/78102

Remakes are the current flame of Hollywood. Old movies are being remade daily saving viewers everywhere from any spark of originality. Most of these remakes have been worse than the original but with the release of a new version of the John Wayne classic, True Grit that trend has been busted. Starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon and directed by the ever reliable Cohen brothers this remake is one worth watching. Telling the story of a young girl on a mission to track down her father’s killer, True Grit is one of the best westerns in recent times. Solid performances by Bridges and Damon, amazing cinematography and a breakout performance by Hailee Steinfield make this a movie that everyone should see.

Steam sales are event that no PC gamer ever wants to miss. Every six months Steam has massive reductions on almost all games with daily deals that simply cannot be ignored. These sales are on right now and for a measly $15 I managed to pick up 3 great games. The first being Command and Conquer 4, a game that, while different to the previous entries in the series, is more than worth the $6 I paid for it. The second game was Oblivion, a game that won so many “Game of the year” awards, that it became the standard that all fantasy RPG’s are held to, even to this day.  Yet even with all of this acclaim I have somehow missed playing it for the last 4 years but no longer. For a pauper’s price of $7 I got Oblivion and all of its expansions giving me about 100 hours of gameplay to look forward to.

The final game I picked up was a classic that has recently been remade. For $2 I got a game that contains over 86 weapons, advanced tactical turn based combat, hand drawn 2d graphics and most importantly small pink invertebrates. That’s right I picked up Worms (yes, I know how bad that sounds). For the two of you out there that have never played a Worms game it is simple. Think Tank Wars with Worms as the tanks and Sheep, Cows, Cement Donkeys and Holy Hand Grenades as weapons. The insane humour makes this a game that almost everyone will get a giggle out of and the gameplay is simple to lean yet difficult to master so there is a lot here to like and keep you playing, and at the cost of a can of coke I just couldn’t say no.

So that’s it for the entry, remember to comment below if you have anything to add or if you simply want to say hey and you can check out my Video game reviews at www.blackpanel.com.au . I am also now on Google+ so look me up if you are a member, I am the only Matthew Hewson on there at this point so I shouldn’t be too hard to find.


A Great Gaming Website featuring yours truly

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Story of A Sci/Fi Convention Virgin: My surprise trip to Supanova.

It was any normal Friday afternoon, working away at my place of employment. Suddenly I received a phone call from my wife.  She promptly instructed me to leave work and head home.  After voicing my concern that this wasn’t possible as I simply had too much to do, my boss strolled over to me and told me to leave. It seems my wife had a cunning plan. So out the door I dashed and quickly headed home. Once there I found the family car packed, my bags included, and my wife waiting patiently to hit the road to our mystery location.


So it was with a quick de-tour via school to pick up my youngest son we headed off for my surprise trip. It was clear fairly soon that we were heading to Sydney and therefor I assumed that we were going to visit my parents for the weekend. I was right (or so I thought.) and after a slow drive due to an accident and road works, we arrived at my parents flat. We quickly followed the usual routine, dragging the bags up stairs, settling in for a drink and to watch the footy. It was then that my wife surprised me a second time with a ticket to Supanova.
With a grin on my face I continued getting comfortable; assuming that we would catch the train to Homebush in the morning and my parents would look after the kids for the day. Just as I got my laptop out my wife told me to pack it up and grab my bags. It turned out there was one surprise left, which was a hotel room for 2 nights in Kings Cross. My parents had agreed to have the kids for the weekend and Amy and I were going to get a weekend together.  So after a bit of a train ride into town we quickly found our hotel room, grabbed some dinner and drinks and hit the hay.
Just a small part of the line up to get in.

After rising at a reasonable hour, we had a quick bite to eat and jumped on a train to head to Olympic Park and the Supanova pop culture expo.  The first thing I noticed was the size of the line to get in. It was enormous, at which point I almost thought it would be better to do something else for the day. But after a few seconds we noticed that the line was moving through quickly and we took our place at the rear as we headed into the event. After a short wait of about 20-30 minutes we reached the front, paid our entry and went into the event.

Some of the great Cosplayers
My god there were a lot of people, and the cosplayers were out in force. Some were simply outstanding and I could do nothing but applaud the effort they went to in order to look like their favourite Sci/fi hero. Ezio to Aliens, Ariel to Poision Ivy. The variety of characters was amazing. My personal favourites were the girls who came as the weeping angels from Doctor who and the two lads dressed as Alien and Predator.

Moving on from simply gawking at passers-by, I went about checking out some of the stores and displays. GAME, Madman Comics and JB HI FI were probably the biggest stands there but there were many, many others to check out.  As I made my way towards the centre of the expo, I was greeted by a wrestling ring, with two very bad performers pretending to hurt each other in the middle. After seeing this, I can see why professional wrestling never took off in Australia. To be honest the acting in a Uwe Boll was more convincing, and even more entertaining to watch.

After a quick marvel at how bad the so called “wrestlers” were I moved quickly to the theatre section of the expo to try and catch some of Amy Acker’s Q and A session. As my wife well knows I have somewhat of a crush on Amy Acker’s “Fred” character in the TV show Angel and I was surprised to see she was even better looking in person. Even my wife commented on how good she looked. Yup my nerdy dreams were coming true. So my wife, being the greatest wife ever, lined up to get us some autograph tokens. An Amy Acker token for me and a James Masters token for herself.  While she was lining up I proceeded to wander around the expo, checking the sites and buy a few things here and there (I bought a Mario and Yoshi plush toy for my boys.) After almost 2 hours (I kid you not) my wife calls me and says she has finally gotten to the front of the line. So we both line up for our chance to meet our chosen crush and get their autograph. Apparently Amy Acker isn’t as popular as James Master s and I managed to get in, say a few polite words with Amy, and get out in under 15 minutes. My poor wife had a much longer wait.
A sneaky shot of Amy Acker

So once again I went a wandering while my patient wife waited in line, luckily for her she had her Kobo with her, giving her something to do while she shuffled forward ever so slowly.  I went off and decided to try and get in to a demo session for the upcoming game “The Darkness 2” (Which I wrote about in my last blog entry) which went for 35 minutes. While in there my wife finally managed to meet “Spike”, went weak at the knees when he called her a “pretty little thing”, and come out to the front of the expo and waits for my demo session to finish.  As I exited the demo I spied her seated on the overhead balcony, exhausted from all of the waiting she had to do. 
The Expo floor


And that was it, both of us a little tired and hungry we decided to call it quits and begin our train trip back to the hotel room. I had a great time and it was a wonderful surprise and early birthday present. While I am glad I went, the expo its self was a little hit and miss, some things I loved and some things were poorly organised to the point of frustration.  I don’t know if I will go back again, I think it would depend on which stars were in attendance as I can’t see it being too different year to year. In saying this it is something everyone with a little bit of “nerd” in them should do at least once, even if it is just to see to sights and maybe meet one of your crushes.