Week Wrap-Up

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and I apologize for that. I spent the week watching movies & playing video games — particularly the most excellent Wii 2-in-1 game The House of the Dead 2 & 3 — with my step-brother. Even aside from the five days he visited, it’s been busy.

Last weekend, Alicia & I hosted the annual Memorial Day gathering for Dad’s side of the family, which was quite an experience. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Alicia’s mom for helping us prepare for the gathering — my cooking / domestic skills being fairly elementary and Alicia being sidelined due to (minor) injury, so to speak. ((She’s doing great, your prayers for healing are appreciated, and thanks for the concern.))

Still, I tried my hand at grilling burgers on an outdoors grill for the first time. Alicia was close at hand to supervise, and my aunts and uncle offered some great bits of advice as well. The first batch of burgers wound up not being fully cooked, but now I know how to check for that. The second round went over with everyone very nicely, and a few days later I grilled some more for my brother, Alicia, and I. Yes, I realize 25 is probably far too late to be learning how to cook something as simple as a hamburger, you don’t have to tell me that. :-)

If you’ve been reading here lately, you’ve surely noticed that I’ve been working on a new(ish) WordPress theme called NeoBox, which will be, I guess, a fork of the theme I use here. ((Neoclassical by Chris Pearson.)) So that’s been occupying a lot of my time as well. I’m very happy with the progress I’m making on it, even if the 0.5 release will essentially be completely different from the 0.4, representing a change in direction I’m taking in development. When I first started working on 0.5 features, I realized I was biting much more than I could chew and had lost site of what NeoBox was initially supposed to be. So now, 0.5 is back on track, I’m nowhere near “finishing” it for release, and even after 0.5 is released, there’s still so much to do!

I won’t say much about NeoBox, and if you try out the 0.4 release, you may not be totally impressed. That’s fine, but 0.4 is not quite representative of the final release, let alone 0.5. Stay tuned!

Now, just for fun, here are some ultra-brief ratings for movies I’ve seen recently and games I’ve been digging lately:

  • Iron Man – Great movie, stunningly realistic graphics, fun script – 9.5/10
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Decent movie, too much Mutt and not enough Marian, lost a lot of the spirit of the previous movies – 5.5/10 – Aside: The character of Indiana, despite being invulnerable to even the largest of explosions, isn’t much different from real men. After witnessing the power of God and His Christ through the Ark and Grail adventures, he seems unaffected and unchanged; seems quite like how the apostles were after seeing Christ crucified — He had performed miracles and appeared in glory before them, but when push comes to shove, it’s always easier to walk away. Indiana, rather than walking away, seems to have simply forgotten. Yes, I realize this aside is longer than the main point of this list item. :-)
  • Hellboy – Good movie, interesting storyline and mythos (think H. P. Lovecraft), seemed anti-climactic at times – 7/10
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl – The best Wii game I’ve played yet. There is frankly too much to do in this game! Sure, I’m close to 100% in the adventure mode and I’ve opened up all of the characters, but I’m achieved less than 50% of the challenges, still have well over 250 trophies to earn, plenty of events to clear… Nintendo outdid themselves with this one. The inclusion of Solid Snake & Sonic the Hedgehog are just icing on the cake, and I love the Knuckles cameo in the Green Hill Zone level!
  • Mario Kart Wii – I want to simply love this game. I really do! My last encounter with the Kart series was Mario Kart 64, and I spent so many hours on that thing that without much effort I could shatter the pro records published in the Nintendo Player’s Guide. Mario Kart Wii isn’t garnering that sort of addiction from me. I won’t deny the game is fun — and funner with friends — but the game just doesn’t seem as polished as it could/should have been. The amazing detail of Super Smash Bros. Brawl is nowhere to be found. The tracks — even the classic tracks that I’m used to — seem way too short. Either the vehicles are moving way too fast, or in an effort to dumb this down as much as possible into a party game, the tracks had a strict shortness guideline… I for one miss the six minute+ epic races on Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 64. Item balancing is terrible — being in first place was never so frustrating in Super Mario Kart or Mario Kart 64. Still, I spent $3 to rent Super Mario Galaxy just to open up another character in Mario Kart Wii (Rosalina), and I love the ability to race as my Mii. When all is said and done, though, I can’t help but compare this side-by-side with Super Smash Bros. Brawl as they are two games released at the same time with Mario as the front man. If you have to choose, get Smash Bros. It has more characters, more levels, more items, more modes, more challenges, more detail, more, more, more, more, more.
  • The House of the Dead 2 & 3 – These are by no means new games — I had 2 on the DreamCast six or seven years ago — but the graphics are still gorgeous (especially when compared to Mario Kart Wii), and the gameplay seems perfectly suited to the Wii. Buy a Zapper accessory for some truly enjoyable zombie fragging. Definitely play with a friend, and blast away!

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