March 31, 2017

An Update: First Quarter 2017



Well, I thought I'd provide an update thus far, to let everyone know how the year is so far. I generally post news that interests me, as well as others, but I wanted to provide a general summary.

I've been playing the heck out of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on wii u. If there are any wii u owners have a hard time tracking it down, may I suggest buying it off the eshop? It's going quite well....I want to talk about it, but I don't want to ruin anything though! Perhaps I'll share my thoughts closer to when the first DLC batch rolls around...that way, hopefully, very mild spoilers will be known.

It's officially spring now! Even though it may not seem like it, due to winter weather not wanting to leave.I love winter, and the snow. But enough is enough. I suppose I wish we always had all 4 seasons lasting the same amount of time, weather wise.

The reading has slowed down a tad, in favor of my playing Zelda. I'm reading on the ereader when I travel (even if it's a commute trip). Presently, for actual physical books, I'm reading the Skyrim Library books. I'm on Vol. 1, and my next portion to read is titled "The Argonian Account."I have a few books I'd like to read once I finish the Elder Scrolls game ones [I have the 3 Skyrim ones, as well as the 2 Elder Scrolls Online ones). I recently obtained signed copies of Ron MacLean's Hockey Towns, and Alan Doyle's Where I Belong. They were first editions, signed, 50% off, AND 5X the plum points! Keep an eye out for my books reviews.

I know I'm getting ahead of myself here, but for 'Hobbit Day' ("....the 22nd of September...") I'd like begin reading The Annotated Hobbit. As I mentioned previously via the blog, when I was getting my Tolkien books, I was opting for them to be in hardback, and to match. None of the others 'match' The Annotated Hobbit, so I never really paid any attention to it. Not out of disinterest, but due to that fact. However, it was when I was gifted it, that I decided "the next time I read The Hobbit, it'll be this one." Following that, depending on my mood, or how my reading pile looks, I may even re-read The Lord of the Rings in conjunction with The Reader's Companion; something I didn't use, or do, during my most recent read.

Speaking of Tolkien, I look forward to the release of Beren and Luthien in a few months. Just to know what the contents are will be interesting as well. once I return to reading Tolkien [not counting reading of The Annotated Hobbit, as well as potentially The Lord of the Rings, that is] I intend to read: The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, Tales From the Perilous Realm, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, The Fall of Arthur, Beowulf and The Story of Kullervo. I'm still waiting to see whether or not Harper Collins will publish a deluxe edition of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun before deciding to get the hardback copy. If they don't, I'll get it as an ebook. I'll give them until July, for a listing to start appearing on sites such as Amazon UK, and Book Depository. Speaking of upcoming Tolkien books, that warrants a blog post sometime soon. Also, I'm looking forward to getting the revised edition of The Tolkien Companion and Guide boxed set by Hammond + Scull.

Moviewise, I saw Logan recently - last Friday in fact. I hope to have a review of that up sometime soon. Looking forward, next, to Guardians 2 and Dunkirk. A few others throughout the year, but those are the next big ones for me.

On the TV, my lady and I are presently watching Iron Fist together. It's not too bad. It's a bit uneven at times, but nowhere as bad as people saying it is. It may be possible that they may be unfamiliar with the Iron Fist comics [I am], or comparing it to other fare such as Daredevil or Arrow. I also finished Season 3 of Halt and Catch Fire on Netflix. Looking forward to Season 4, though I know itll be a bit yet. On my 'rotation' I'm keeping an eye out for Season 3 of Turn to be uploaded. Just today I finished watching Season 1 of Badlands. It's worth giving a go. I hope it stays good, and doesn't up sucking later.

I'm also watching more sports [though, again, Zelda...I Have been waiting close to 3 - 3.5 years for this game] namely hockey (Ottawa Senators) and Baseball (Blue Jays). My hockey watching will likely pick up, as we are nearing the playoffs. Once the first round has been announced, I'll share my thoughts on the blog.

Last, but certainly not least, is the beer! Spring is typically IPA season. I have a few from Beau's I'm looking forward to picking up [I'm due for another Beau's run at some point, as well as a pack of Lugtread. I like to pick up Lugtread up at the very minimum once per season.] In April sometime I'm hoping to pop into Whitewater [if you have they chance to try their beer on tap, do it]. My own 'cache' is beginning to run quit low. I'll have a peek at LCBO this weekend at some point to see what's new and featured, as well what's available. I'll make a note to see if the newest by Creemore and/or Muskoka is in  as well....

And that, is pretty much all!

March 25, 2017

"Beren and Luthien" Deluxe Edition Cover Art




We finally have a look at what the deluxe edition of the forthcoming Beren and Luthien deluxe edition will look like! It is a dark green. The Children of Hurin was blue. So, if I am correct to assume, that should The Fall of Gondolin be published in a similar style, that the deluxe edition will be coloured dark red, almost maroon.

Appropriately enough, this was revealed on 'Tolkien Reading Day', one of the dates celebrated by Tolkien fans. the others include Tolkien's Birthday, ad well as Sept. 22 [Bilbo 's & Frodo's Birthdays, as well as the publication of the The Hobbit, the first book to be published that is set in Middle-earth.]

Apparently, it features a nightingale motif, which is appropriate considering the fact that "Tinuviel", Luthien's last name, is Elvish for "nightingale." This motif is most likely designed by Alan Lee, who also provided similar motifs for the deluxe editions of The Children of Hurin and Tales From the Perilous Realm.

As a reminder, the ISBN for the deluxe edition is: 9780008214203.
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien's manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Luthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien's Middle-earth. The tale of Beren and Luthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year. Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Luthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Luthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Luthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Luthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril. In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Luthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

March 23, 2017

The Next Smash Bros: "Breath of the Wild" Link



So there's a new Nintendo system out. That means, someday, it'll get a brand new Smash bros game on it.

I'm not talking about a deluxe version of an existing one (look at Mario Kart 8 for the wii u, and then Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch) but a brand new Smash game.

The Smash game have always 'updated' their characters as they've had changes to them throughout the series. Take a look at Mario's move set from Smash 64, Smash Bros. Melee, Smash Bros. Brawl, and Smash Bros. U to see what I mean.

Because of the fact that Breath of the Wild was an overhaul for the Zelda series, I think it's safe to speculate that Link will change for the next entry, possibly Zelda as well. At the very least, I can see Zelda getting a new skin change. Link, on the other hand, will be quite different than what we've seen before.

I am talking about Breath of the Wild Link replacing the normal "Link". If there's an additional Link, I can see it being Toon Link (for those preferring a more 'traditional' move set) or even the Younger Link may get redesigned reflecting abilities, etc, from Majora's Mask.

So in this post, I'll take a look at Link from Breath of the Wild, and how he could fit or work in "Smash Bros. Switch."

Appearance

Of course, Link would look the same way he does in the game Breath of the Wild, which is different than his usual look. All the promo artwork and even amiibo seems to show him with what looks like the traveler's shield, and sword, rather than the Hylian shield and Master Sword. It looks like his bow is the Knight's bow and equipped with either Guardian or Ancient arrows. I'm not familiar enough with the game or the items yet to place accurate names to the gear based on looks. Either way, expect Link to look similar to how he does for promo images base don Breath of the Wild.

Colour change or palette could work based on his various outfits from the game. Red could be the "Hylian tunic" for instance.

Moveset

Now for the neat part, and hardest to think of, which is why this post took so long to do! I can see Link being a sort of combination, or mix of, "Link" as well as Shulk.

Similar to how Shulk has the Monado Arts, Link has 'runes' in Breath of the Wild (Stasis, Remote Bomb, Cryonis and Magnesis). Of course, there's also using those as moves in a fighting game. Would Link swap between them, much like Shulk did with his Monado Arts? Or will the move set be a little similar to 'traditional' Link, with the remote bombs repalcing his standard ones?

The bow is featured prominently, as well. Both in game and in promo images. That will most likely stay as the B standard. Remote Bombs or runes could be DOWN+B.

I can see Link's moveset consisting of runes (or remote bombs only), the bow, and possibly a counter (or counters). The Up+B could be the paraglider for a triple jump,replacing the spin attack. Similar to how Peach glides. Link could still have a spin attack of sorts, perhaps, by simply HOLDING the A button. sure it'll be weaker than usual.

That's all I've got for the time being [I know I'm missing SIDE+B] but I wanted to showcase how Link could how quite different the next time you see him in Smash.

March 17, 2017

Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Edition



One of my all-time favourite albums is getting the deluxe vinyl boxed set treatment. It's The Joshua Tree by U2; possibly the very best album they've done. The package is quite extensive, so my post is about the contents of the set. It'll be available June 2

Here are the contents:

Super Deluxe 7LP Box Set

Bespoke boxset. Cover features a textured embossed gold foiled Joshua tree icon.

This collector’s boxset includes:

7 pieces of original, live and unreleased recordings on 12” 180gsm vinyl.
3.5hrs of audio content / 49 tracks (25x unreleased tracks: 17x live, 7x new mixes, 1x archive track)

• The Joshua Tree double album (gatefold) with a download code for a digital version
• The Joshua Tree Live at Madison Square Garden double album 1987 (gatefold)
• The Joshua Tree Remixes
• The Joshua Tree Outtakes
• The Joshua Tree B-Sides

• The Joshua Tree – Photographs by The Edge. An 84-page hardback book of personal never-before seen photography by The Edge, taken during the original Mojave Desert Joshua Tree shoot, 1986

• A folio of 8 rare 12” Anton Corbijn colour prints

Tracklisting:
The Joshua Tree
Side 1
Where The Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
With Or Without You

Side 2
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still

Side 3
Red Hill Mining Town
In God's Country
Trip Through Your Wires

Side 4
One Tree Hill
Exit
Mothers Of The Disappeared

The Joshua Tree Live at Madison Square Garden 1987
Side 1
Where The Streets Have No Name
I Will Follow
Trip Through Your Wires
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Side 2
MLK
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still
In God's Country
Sunday Bloody Sunday

Side 3
Exit
October
New Year's Day
Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Side 4
With Or Without You
Party Girl
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
"40"

The Joshua Tree Remixes, Outakes & B-Sides
Remixes Side 1
One Tree Hill (St Francis Hotel Remix)
Bullet The Blue Sky (Jacknife Lee Remix)
Running To Stand Still (Daniel Lanois Remix)

Remixes Side 2
Red Hill Mining Town (Steve Lillywhite 2017 Mix)
With Or Without You (Daniel Lanois Remix)
Where The Streets Have No Name (Flood Remix)

Outtakes Side 3
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (Lillywhite Alternative Mix '87)
One Tree Hill Reprise (Brian Eno 2017 Mix)
Silver and Gold (Sun City)
Beautiful Ghost/Introduction To Songs Of Experience

Outtakes Side 4
Wave Of Sorrow (Birdland)
Desert Of Our Love
Rise Up
Drunk Chicken/America

B-Sides Side 5
Luminous Times (Hold On To Love)
Walk To The Water
Spanish Eyes

B-Sides Side 6
Deep In The Heart
Silver And Gold
Sweetest Thing
Race Against Time




As you can see, this offers the ultimate Joshua Tree experience.

Don't Drink Green Beer, Drink Irish Beer!



I don't have any [documented] Irish Blood in me, I've got English, Scottish and German. However, I like a good tasting drink, and encourage others to enjoy their taste buds.

I never understood the appeal of ruining beer by making it green. Sure it doesn't affect the taste....but still. If you're going to party on St Patrick's Day, do it properly.

Here are some Irish drinks to enjoy today:

BEER

- Guiness
- Kilkenny
- Smithwicks
- Harp

I recommend giving each of those a try. If you're looking to drink "a lot" or for a "normal beer", go with Harp. Especially if you plan on having other non-beer drinks. If you're just sticking with beer, well then have all 4, but go from heaviest to lightest [the order iIlisted the beers in.] If you're feeling fancy, you can even try this:

Tilt and fill a pint glass just over halfway with pale ale. Wait a few seconds for foam to settle.
Turn a spoon upside-down so the back is facing upwards. Put the inverted spoon into the pint glass and angle it is so that the tip of the spoon just touches the top of the pale ale.
Slowly pour the stout over the back of the spoon, moving the spoon higher as the glass fills up. This will keep the ale and stout separated.

I suggest the 'pale ale' being either Harp or Smithwick's.

WHISKEY

- Jameson
- 2 Gingers
- Bushmills

OTHERS

- Bailey's [suggestion: in coffee, replacing milk or cream]
- Magners (cider)

Cheers! That's how you do it right.

Shout-out to the LCBO for the Half-and-Half recipe, as well as the photo I've used (by way of copying its link) 

March 9, 2017

Game of Thrones: Season 7 Premiere Date + How It Could Affect The Winds of Winter's Publication Date



The premiere date is July 16. 

Which means….the absolute earliest that Winds can come this year would be…..the week of September 3. Also, if George doesn’t say “the book is coming out this year” or whatever BY October, it will not be published in 2017.  

I arrive at this conclusion because it would be silly of them to release the book WHILE the show is airing, despite them being 2 different things. October or later means that the book won’t have enough time to ‘become’ a book to be out in 2017. Ultimately, it means George has pretty much until Season 7 premieres to finish the writing the book if it’s to come out this year.

Ed Sheeran Theory



One of my favourite music artists (of ‘today’, I mean…) is Ed Sheeran. He appeals to my music tastes. I was a latecomer to the party, though I did discover him because of his song “I See Fire” which appeared on the soundtrack (and end titles) for The Hobbit: Part 2 back in 2013.

Looking at his music, I discovered a pattern.

1) He has released an album every 3 years since 2011
2) All his albums. So far, are named after the main / basic / key mathematic functions: Plus (+), Multiply (X) and now Divide (….there isn’t a key for that on my keyboard.)

Because of that ‘pattern’ I’ve discovered, I believe that his next album (not his newest one, Divide, released last week) will be titled “Minus” (or “Subtract”) feature a – on the cover, and be coloured red. That one will be released in 2020. Following that, Ed will release what could very well be his final album, titled “Equal” (=) . This one will most likely be on a pure white background, and be released in 2023.

Following this theoretical Equal album, will Ed take a break? Will he start another ‘pattern’? One thing’s for sure – if my thoughts are correct, we’ve got at least two more albums coming from Ed Sheeran, with Equal coming in 2023 finishing off his ‘Math Pattern’.
 

* Please note that this is purely specualtion. 

March 7, 2017

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild [Spoiler Free] Review - The Great Plateau



So I promise I won’t spoil anything from the game, including location names [beyond the starting zone]. I haven’t even barely begun to scratch the surface of the game in all aspects, but I wanted to give my thoughts thus far. I will also include a few hints and tips and the odd warning where necessary.

Everything you’ve heard about this new game is true. All those single-word reviews that praise the game, they are not wrong. Nor can I say anything that’s already been said about the game thus far. I will offer my thoughts, opinions, reactions etc.

So far, this is the Zelda I’ve always wanted. Not quite since ever, but I’d say since Ocarina of Time. I say that because that game in particular changed not only gaming, but the Zelda franchise itself [using a shield, targeting, etc…] plus the idea of moving about in a 3D environment. A Link to the Past I’ve always quite enjoyed, as that’s the game that gave us the Master Sword, the Hookshot…plus gave us a huge world to explore. At the time Ocarina of Time came out, Hyrule was quite vast. As technology etc advanced, in retrospect, the game world in Ocarina isn’t really that large. There’s tons to do. But I’m speaking of geography here.

Breath of the Wild offers the best of both those games in that sense, and greatly enhances it. Anyone familiar with the Elder Scrolls games will feel a bit more at home here, as vast exploration is the main goal. Plus there are new elements, such as cooking, etc to this game that have been in other games. Do not mistake that for a ‘learning’ curve, though.

The method of questing is also slightly similar, in that you’re given a main, overall goal, but you’re not forced to take a particular route to get there. Say you start out East, and you have to go North, well you could go East to North, or go East to west then North, or East then South then North, or East to South to West to North…you get the idea.

Essentially, never before has Link, or the Zelda franchise been set so free. Also, you can go literally anywhere. You’re at the bottom of a trail, against a cliff wall, and you see that it slopes. You can take the slope up, the ‘normal’ way, or, you can climb up the wall itself. Provided you have enough stamina to make it to the top, that is….or if it doesn’t rain. There’s trees in the way, no problem, you can climb those, too. And hey, this one has some apples. Grab them. Oh, that next one has a beehive. You can take the honey so long as you avoid the bees. I can provide so many examples, or things I’ve encountered first hand, but I want this to be ‘overall’. What I’m getting at, is that this game is a definite game-changer, the same way that Mario 64 was, as well as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Think of that sense of wonder and shock (the good sense) you felt when you were first playing those games way back when.

I should also mention which console I’m playing the game on.
  
I’m playing it on the wii u. This isn’t a “middle finger” to the Switch or anything, but I’m stating this matter-of-fact: if you own a wii u, you may as well get this game for it. It’s a terrific send-off to an ‘under’ console [under selling, under rated, under marketed, etc…]. In terms of graphical comparision, I believe that the wii u version is identical to the switch version IF you play the switch version undocked. I should also mention that if you own a wii u, at this time there’s no reason to upgrade to the Switch, in terms of exclusive games. Everything on the Switch thus far, and for the next few months [let’s say until June] is also available on the 3DS, the wii u, or both. Either way, enjoy this game no matter what system you get it on.

Now, I’ll provide a few hints and tips:

- pick your fights well. It’s well-known that your gear can get damaged and break. Fight enemies a little bit at a time at first until you get either better gear, or more [if it’s the same ‘level’ or worse, at least you’ll have replacements ready.]
- try and go anywhere you can. You never know what you may find.
- there is only ONE save file. I think there’s a slight loophole that if a different mii or, profile, signs onto the wii u [or the switch…?] that you can have multiple saves THAT way, but there’s only one save [a la Pokemon, let’s say.]
- cook EVERYTHING you find, and try different combinations. Even if it’s ONLY one mushroom. This took me a bit to figure out: stand next to a fire that has a pot on it, go to your inventory, select your food and press hold [for as many as 5 things] then exit, and press A to ‘cook’.
- the sooner you get the bombs, the better. Using unlimited [with about a 5 second cool down] remote bombs for some fights is highly recommend. Just be careful of the blast! You can find them in the shrine by the ruins (East Abbey). I recommend going against the VERY back wall when you see them, and climb in behind the shrine….
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you happen to notice some trees or tall grass, perhaps use those to crouch and snipe with your bow.
- if you obtain a new ability or item inside a shrine, try it out just outside the shrine.
- if you see something you want at it but can’t right away, take note of where it was and how you would want to get there. You may find the means later…
- if you don’t think you’ll be able to get from point A to B under the safety of the sun, in terms of general exploration, maybe stop in at a town along the way, or other safe spot to pass the hours until daylight. A shorter way of doing this rest by a fire.
- Some enemies can one-shot you [at 3 hearts and no proper ‘armor’] so if you plan to take those on, plan your fight before you start it. This where the bombs have come in handy for me. Start by throwing a bomb towards the enemy, detonate it. By the time the enemy recovers from the blast and comes at you, you should be able to PLACE another bomb because he’ll be closer to you. From then on, it’s a matter of running out of range, placing bombs and detonating them.
- I’ve only encountered different climates so far on The Great Plateau [though you can bet there will be other areas…] but if the temperature is about to drastically change, you’ll get an audio clue in the way of ambient sounding music. You’ll need to adjust your attire accordingly in order to proceed.
- if you see a shrine you want to go, and think you’re able to, but don’t plan visiting immediately [ie, on your way to your first town] use your Sheikah Slate and place a pin on it, so you can easily find it again. Pins are great overall, though I find their best use is marking Shrines.

I could easily write a lot more, though it’s safe to say that this is the best Zelda game yet; which makes it one of the video games yet. Each Zelda milestone has been a stepping stone to get to this point. This is a true adventure game, with the focus being on the experience and exploration. Not “XP” experience, but playing the game for the fun of it. When the overall object of the game becomes clear to you [when you leave The Great Plateau at the very earliest] never before have I felt so mall and so under-prepared for that goal in a Zelda game. There’s a whole world out there, and bit by bit I’m scratching the surface. And I love it every step of the way. A great farewell to the wii u, or a warm welcome for the Switch.

Score: 10/10