I Heart My e-reader, Book Reviews Incoming!

Sticking to the theme of this blog as a place to dump a review or deliver a “hot take” of whatever it is I’m currently doing, I decided to add a section for book reviews.  I’ve slowly been getting back into reading lately, mostly on my tablet since I prefer a digital screen over paper.  I like how a digital screen allows me to adjust font size, type, background colour, etc; but best of all, I can read in bed.

I work evenings and do not get into bed until very late on most days.  The tablet allows me to read in the dark without the need of a overhead light, so there is little risk of  disturbing my wife who gets up at 5:30AM for her job.  The only real drawback for me is eye strain which comes to me much quicker compared to paper.  I was getting around this by reading a paper book during the day and switching to the an ebook version of the same book late at night.  The first few minutes of each reading session began with me finding where I had left off from one format to the next.

This eyestrain had me beginning to look into e-readers.  e-readers use a different technology than tablets or smart phones as there is no back light.  They call it “virtual paper” or “E Ink” which is designed to reflect light the same way paper does.  The only real draw back is how it is only works in black and white making it a none option for those mini-computers.  After testing a one out at a Chapters, I was sold.  The words jumped off the device’s page/screen while its size and weight is approximately the same the same as a trade paperback.  I could instantly see the benefit of adding yet another device into my life.

Now I had to decide on a brand.  The two big options are the Canadian made Kobo and the American made amazon Kindle.  Both are review very well, and the Kindle’s biggest advantage over the Kobo is it’s connection to the amazon store, but I went with a Kobo for one simple feature.  Free books>buying books.

kindle 1

Kobo with the screen “off”.  It doesn’t use any power in this mode!

In the US, the amazon store is not your only legit option to read books on the Kindle.  The e-reader will link to the US libraries as well allowing you to virtually take out e-books.  The Kindle does not feature any library option in Canada, but the Kobo will allow you to link up to the Canadian libraries.  Kobo it is.  The feature is a little cumbersome as you do need to go through a PC to get your library book onto the device, but it beats spending $10-$15 on each book.

I choose the Kobo aura H2O which is a couple of steps up from the base model.  It has 4 LED lights which point down at the screen allowing you to read in the dark and is water tight.  (I have polished off a few paperbacks that began their time in my hands in mint condition and ended it as waterlogged.)  I’ve owned the Kobo for just under two weeks now and I’m already onto my third book.  Reading this quick has never happen to me before.

kindle 2

This is how it looks with the LED lights on.  The lights have an option to glow amber for before bed reading.

So, my good virtual friend Deke (Read his great blog right here) who after spotting my Goodreads/facebook post on Stephen King’s The Dark Half suggested doing write up here on the ol’ blog instead.  I thought; Yeah, why not?  I’ve written about a book before and I already do movies, music, and video games… I might as well go all in on books too.  I can’t promise constant posts or anything as life is too busy for that, but I will try to write a little something if I have something to say after finishing a book.

I’ll begin working on a write up for The Dark Half after this, but one last plug for e-readers before I go. I highly suggest heading over to a Chapters and giving one a spin for free if you haven’t already.  If you are Canadian I suggest getting a library card with a Kobo.  You won’t need to spend another penny outside of the Kobo itself, and nothing beats the experience of taking out an e-book from your computer desk with only your gitch on.  I love technology.

 

 

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Sloan – 12 Album Review

Full disclosure:  I write this review after having experienced Sloan at the KEE to Bala just the other night and they put on a fantastic show.  So impartial review, this ain’t.

I had been on the hunt for a vinyl copy for Sloan’s new album, 12 after streaming four of its tunes on YouTube.  The sucker had been sold out everywhere I looked, but last night I was able to score one at the show.  Well… truth be told… my Wife & Super Sexy Blogger Extraordinaire, Sarca Sim scored me one.  They had a booth selling the usual concert items, and Sarca was itching to scope it out for a T-shirt.  I handed “Ol’ Cupface” the $40 in cash I had on me and asked her to check for the album while I held claim to our stage-view table.  What she came back with was a clear, purple vinyl, US imported LP for $25:

Sloan purple vinyl

Wild stuff, no?  Needless to say I was not only thrilled at finally snagging a copy, but also proud of my wife’s eye for seeing an opportunity to get the more collectible version.  If you want to know more about our time at the show check out Sarca’s review of it right here.

As for the tunes on 12, I will fully admit how the cerebral lyrics for your average Sloan song flies firmly over my head.  For instance, the album’s closer ‘44 Teenagers‘ gives a shout out to Gord Downie that goes:

Just the other day I was reminded of
The many ways Gord Downie died
I see a kid in my head who will be seein’ red
Until his anger yields to pride

I’m sure that means something to a lot of people, but I have no clue.  Gord died only one way that I know of.  Who is this kid?  Their lyrics make me feel like the dumb one in the group who doesn’t understand what hyperbole is.  I don’t mean this as a knock against the band or their writing style since I enjoy it regardless.  I’m only pointing out my own inability to process the meaning behind abstract lyrics.  How I still enjoy Sloan can only speak to the strength of their music.

My shortcomings aside, I can speak of the album’s sound overall.  For the most part, 12 might be their most bright and cheery album to date.  Three tunes, ‘Gone For Good‘, ‘Essential Services‘, and the formerly mentioned ‘44 Teenagers‘ have a bit of a darker tone to them, but the rest of it is full with toe tappin’ Canadian rock.

Spin Our Wheels‘, ‘Don’t Stop (If It Feels Good Do It)‘, ‘The Day Will Be Mine‘, ‘Have Faith‘ are the stand outs that ooze with the positive, while the rest of the album’s solid tracks make for an excellent listen without a dog in the mix.  Perhaps it is not good enough to knock Navy Blues or Action Pact off as my top two favs for now, but every listen is bringing it closer to having a chance.

12‘s feel good vibe makes it for a perfect accompaniment to the windows rolled down, arm out the side window summer driving experience.  A lot more spins are headed toward my eardrums as it sits among the other candidates for:

sloan 12 album of the year contender

State of the ‘Blu-ray Reviews’ Address

I began this blog almost a year ago now, and it started as a way for me to catalogue which movies I’ve watched in my Blu-ray collection.  Since I have a nasty habit of forgetting what I’ve watched, writing about them helps me keep things straight in my head.

I was doing well with keeping up with a weekly Blu-ray review post until the end of September when I took a planned short hiatus in October.  It was going to be a busy month for me with a trip to Portland Oregon and there were a few projects I wanted to wrap up before the trip.  Then my Dad passed away suddenly and shit hit the fan.

I started writing again in December, mostly about AC/DC.  Writing and thinking about my favourite band is like comfort food to me and I sorely needed it.  As the months rolled on by, it began to feel silly to me how the site was branded as one about Blu-ray reviews and I hadn’t posted one since September.  So now the blog flies under the banner of “whatever I feel like posting”, which has mostly been about music lately.

The music blogs and AC/DC album reviews will continue, but I need to get back on track with the Blu-ray reviews and Marvel Universe films in particular.  But before I do so, I need to update you fine readers about a couple of things first.

I Made The Jump to 4K UHD

Last November EBGames had a deal where you could upgrade your Xbox One with a small fee of $25 to an Xbox One S.  The fee was discounted even further with my Edge membership to $18.  The big difference between these two machines is how the “S” will play 4K UHD discs.

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Now that I had some 4K UHD content I now ‘needed’ a 4K UHD TV to go with it.  I found the thinnest of excuses to let go of my 1080p 48″ Sony Bravia from 2007, and headed over to Canada Computers to grab a 60″ Sony 4K UHD set.  I haven’t regretted spending the money at all.  Although I don’t feel the upgrade is large enough for me to swap out all of my Blu-rays for 4K discs, I have been enjoying the visual boost on new purchases.

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Since my collection is standard Blu-rays up to Dr. Strange my first 4K review won’t be until I get to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

I’m Tweaking The Reviews…. slightly

Since the visual and sound quality have largely been fantastic, I’m going to drop the ‘Video’ and ‘Audio’ portions of the reviews unless I see or hear something noteworthy.  Just assume the quality will blow your socks off unless noted otherwise.  Review sections for ‘The Film’, ‘Memorable Moments’, and ‘Special Features’ will stay intact. (Featuring some cars and Stan Lee cameos will be highlighted when required as well.)

So, I guess that is all for the update.  Off to work on a review for the Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron!  Thanks for reading!

In Memory of Dad – Live Charity Stream on February 10-11th!

twitchburiedonmarscharity2“If there is anything I can do, let me know.”

I am fortunate enough to have this said to me by many after my Father had passed away this past October.  I know I have said it to others in the past during their time of need.  Every time, it was with a feeling of helplessness knowing that there is not much I can do and not knowing if it does help.  Having been on the other side now, I know it can.

Sarah and I had just landed in Portland, Oregon when we received the news of how a brain aneurysm placed my Father on his deathbed.  We had to come home immediately if we wanted to say goodbye.  That wasn’t going to happen.  We were too far way.

I was sitting at the Vancouver International Airport waiting for a flight back to Toronto when I began reaching out to others on social media.  I let our group who we were to meet up with know what had happened.   Word spread quickly among my online friends and I was floored by the support that flooded in.  Just knowing that people are feeling your struggle is a help.

The words “Let me know if there is anything I can do” stuck with me.  It was said by so many in different ways.  As the weeks passed and the shock wore off I began think that there is something that you can do.  All it would take is a little ground work for me to get it started and the rest would be up to you to help me support it.

What is Twitch.tv?
Twitch is a website where (mostly) the young broadcast themselves live while playing video games.  Millions of others tune in to watch, and some even tip with real money while they play.  A bit of an odd spot for an old fossil like myself to be in, but it can be a great way to have fun while raising money for a cause I believe in.  

Is watching someone else play a video game fun?
It may sound like a snoozefest but I do find myself doing it more often than I have before.  If the right person is hosting (like myself 😉 ) having fun can be done.  Yesterday, I tuned into a stream by my online friend, TheDonovanViper.  We talked a bit about the game he was playing but mostly live chatted with a few others about getting through the difficult times.  I think that is the appeal of these streams.  You never know what can happen.

What time does the stream take place?
I haven’t worked it all out yet since I am talking to others to extend a helping hand.  It will begin sometime Saturday morning on February 10th.  Updates will be here as soon as I have them.

What is the charity and where is the money going?
I’ve settled on the Heart Research Institute.  My Father’s brain aneurysm was the side effect of the blood thinning medication he had been taking since the late 90’s.  It was discovered that he had a genetic heart condition that made him more susceptible to blood clots than the average person.  Coumadin (or warfarin) was prescribed to him after suffering from two minor heart attacks which gave him 20 years that he probably didn’t have. 

The Heart Research Institute is dedicated to all of their going to research, and I dig that a lot.  They are working right now on improving treatments to have options better than even Coumadin for patients of the future.  Their main hub is in Australia, but their work is international with scientists and doctors around the world, including the US and Canada.  I will be setting up a link on my Twitch channel where people can donate directly to the HRI.  No money will go through me.

Will there be prizes?
Yep. People who donate will be entered into draws for prizes.  Updates coming. Stay tuned.

What exactly can I do?
Donate, silly!  The goal will be to reach $640 Canadian dollars.  February 12th would have been my Father’s 64th Birthday.  Hence, the timing of the stream and the dollar amount.

I want to help but I don’t have any money!
No problem.  There is still a lot you can do!

  • If you stream on Twitch, I’m looking for people to volunteer time.  The longer we are up and running, the better chance we have of reaching the goal amount.  I have a couple of people lined up already but more is needed!
  • Donate a game or item to the cause!  It will be used as a draw prize for those who donate!  Give that extra copy of Earthbound you have lying around to a good person who donates to charity!
  • Spread the word! If you are a content creator with a blog, podcast, make Youtube videos, or on Twitch and share this! Any posting anywhere is appreciated! If you have any kind of social media voice, share this post!

Link me, my good sir.
I will be updating with more posts in the future right here, but here is a link to my Twitch channel if you wish to be proactive with a sub now (or bookmark it if you don’t have an account):

https://www.twitch.tv/buriedonmars

I’m morbid and want to know more about this trip to Portland!
I talk about it here with my friend Ram Vox on the latest episode of our podcast Retro Fandango.  We get into it around 26 minutes in:

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-tubi6-827fef

Many thanks in advance to all those who read this and wish to help!  If you need to reach out to me you can send me a PM on Twitter, Facebook, or email me buriedonmars@gmail.com.

An Awful Tweet

I have the day off today (Canadian Holiday!) and I so wanted it to be about playing video games, and maybe finally getting to Thor.  Instead, I made the mistake of reading Twitter this morning which put me in a serious funk.  I’m hoping writing about this will help me shake it out a bit.

My “in case you missed it” section on Twitter had a bunch of people arguing back and forth about bigotry and whether someone is trans-phobic or not.  I followed the tweets to the originator and this is what I read:

bad tweet

My heart sank.  I don’t know “Avalanche” Jared from a hole in the ground but I do watch his videos on YouTube when the subject matter tickles my fancy.  I consider him to be someone who I may not always agree with, but his opinions are well thought-out.  So it was odd to see him refer to another human being as “this”.  I needed context.

After going down a mini internet rabbit hole, this is what I found out.  The photo is of a writer for the geek-culture/heavy-on-the-video-games website Kotaku, named Heather Alexander.  Heather wrote an article about the original Earthworm Jim, a Sega Genesis platform game that came out 23 years ago.

It’s a pretty standard “click bait” Kotaku article where a younger writer will write about their personal experience with a retro game.  Rose-colored glasses and nostalgia do not play a factor in the writer’s view, and the post’s title is designed to rev up a majority of Kotaku readers who hold these games up on a pedestal.  I’m a fan of Earthworm Jim and I read the post.  I didn’t agree with a lot of the criticism, but it was fair and the opinion of only one person.  Nothing to get worked up about.

I know most adults on the internet can handle a disagreement with maturity and it pains me to say that Earthworm Jim‘s creator, Doug TenNapel, is not one of them.  His response to Heather’s Twitter post for her article was disappointing :

TenNaple

“You’re a good man”.  Some jumped to TenNapel’s defense from the get go saying it was a mistake despite Heather’s feminine name and Twitter handle identifying her as trans. Sadly it was not an error.  TenNapel’s follow up tweets confirm that the insult was intended.  Gross.  So, not only did Jared’s tweet suck, the creator of Earthworm Jim does too.

First thing I did after was let Jared know what I thought of his tweet:

mytweet

I see it as awful not because he might be defending what (at the time) might have been a possible mistake, but for the complete dismissal of the person TenNapel attacked. Imagine if someone kept referring to your wife, mom, or sister as a man.  Would that not piss you off?  Wouldn’t you take “offense” because you would know how hurtful it would be to someone you care about?  Why is it not okay to do this to a straight person, but it is “justifiable” when the person is transgender?

At this point I shouldn’t have to give you context as to why this has my “panties all up in a bunch”.  I should be justified in pointing out how gross someone’s take is on a situation when it is gross.  Unfortunately, it is not reality.

There are too many now who troll the internet with an air of superiority, looking to pick fights with people on social media with despicable opinions about race and sexism, only so they can feel good about how they “took the moral high ground”.  They are known as the Social Justice Warrior or SJW for short.  They spend their time labeling those on the other side of the keyboard as bigots or sexists doing little to sway them.  It is all garbage and a waste of time.

Meanwhile, the people who are living through it get dismissed among the SJWs.  As a white male just hitting 40 and married to the super sexy blogger extraordinaire, Sarca Sim, I am in a very lucky situation.  My marriage has the benefit of being socially acceptable since it became uncool for men to club women over the head and drag them into a cave to start a family.  So, it would be very unlikely that I would know the pain, stress, anxiety, social pressure, and family strain someone with a gender identity crisis or change is going through, but I do.  Someone very close to me is going through this right now and it isn’t easy.  I missed a month of recording Retro Fandango because of it 18 months ago and it is still working itself out.

So now that you have an idea of my situation maybe you’ll understand better why I will speak out against garbage like what Jared tweeted out.  His take on the situation stinks, and for the people who joked around with/defended him – not your finest moment either.

I might not be able to make the hardship better for the person I know and love, but I will speak out when I see harmful behavior aimed at making it worse. Dismiss me as a SJW if you wish, but that will not stop me to continue to point out when you are being awful.  I know how deeply it can hurt.

 

I’m Thorry

The number one rule my Retro Fandango co-host Richard (aka THE Ram Vox) and I have on our podcast is to NEVER promise anything.  By that we mean never promise any content.  Never promise you’ll make a video, write a blog, post a podcast, etc.  Because when you do, you create an expectation for you to deliver that content, and sometimes you just can’t or don’t want to anymore.

My situation this week falls into the former.  I just could not get to reviewing Thor this week.  Now technically, I never promised to do it this week but I do feel my weekly schedule might have created an expectation.  So, since I’m outta time to review Thor, I’m going to write about what took up the time and get a little shameless self promotion in as well.  I know at few people here only know me for this blog and as the husband of the super sexy blogger extraordinaire, Sarca Sim.  But I also podcast, make YouTube videos on occasion and…  listen to a ton of music.  Yes, I’m a music fan too!

There was a lot of yard work, a PC issue, and a couple of podcasts to prepare for this week; but what took up most of my time was Mars’ MixTape.   It’s a spin-off of Retro Fandango where I pretend to be a radio DJ and play some music for 90 minutes.  I’m wanting to get these out once a season and there isn’t much summer left if you can believe it.  So, time is ticking.  Plus, with the Barrie Game Exchange coming up (Big time game swap with a lot of friends from all over the US and Canada attending) I knew a lot of people will be traveling.  And maybe my show could entertain them for a bit during the pilgrimage.

The show is a mix of blues, metal, country, 80’s/70’s pop, Motown and mainly rock ‘n roll.  My taste is pretty much anyone influenced by Chuck Berry.  The episode I worked on is the fourth episode and you can check it out here…

Mars' MixTape 4 thumbnail

If you’re hooked, here are the three other episodes:

Mars' MixTape 3 thumbnail

Mars' MixTape Halloween editionMars' Mixtape

I do take requests as long as it fits the format of the show and I like it.  Just shoot me and email at buriedonmars@gmail.com, or do the facebook/Twitter thing.  Or even leave a comment here.  You can subscribe to the feed in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, etc if you like.  The show shares a feed with Retro Fandango (which is a mighty fine podcast, IMHO) so just search for that.

Thor is coming.  I’m planning on working on it this coming week and to have it posted… but no promises.

State of the Blog Address, July 2017

Some of you might have noticed how there was no new Blu Ray review from me this morning, but it is cool if you didn’t.  Part of the reason why is I played 55 to 60 hours of Horizon Zero Dawn this week on my PlayStation 4.  (For you gamers out there who care, I beat the game and got the platinum trophy.  It was good times.)  This left me with only time to take in one film which unfortunately was Rising Sun starring Wesley Snipes and Sean Connery.  I found the movie to be kind of blah and began working on a review but I wasn’t feeling it.  If I was getting paid, I would push on and force myself to get ‘er dun but I’m not.  So, I decided to drop it for now.

To be honest though, the biggest roadblock for me is not being able to write what I want to.  Part of the reason why I started this blog is because I have trouble remembering movies.  Writing about them helps me and allows me to go back to read what I wrote if I don’t.

The movies I wish to revisit the most right now are the ones in the Marvel universe.  I watched most in the series only once and can hardly remember what happened in them.  I have been watching the new ones as they come out and try to piece together the back story with my Swiss cheese memory.

What I want to do is watch them in the proper order and hammer out a review for each with the previous movie(s) fresh in my mind.  I haven’t been able to do so yet since my collection is missing a couple in the “Phase One: Avengers Assembled” series.  “Phase One” are the five films that led up to the Avengers and Avengers.  I didn’t want to commit to reviewing all of them without the proper pieces.  I’d then be under pressure to find the ones I was missing, but now…. I got them ALLLLLL!

Marvel Phase One

Yep, I was able to find Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger so my journey to review these bad boys can begin!

I have enjoyed all of them for the most part and don’t care about how they change things from the comic books they are based on.  I have read my fair share of Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Daredevil through the years, but when it came to the extended universe, my brain checked out.  I thought it was stupid to have to buy a bunch of books, including ones from characters I didn’t like, to get one complete story.  I was more into the Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, Kevin Smith, and Mark Millar one offs or graphic novels that contained a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

At the pace of one review a week it will take six of them to get through these, so I’ll see about continuing Phase Two right away when I get there.  I am still missing Guardians of The Galaxy from that series and don’t want to be pressured to get it. With the sequel just wrapping up a successful run in the theaters, the first film is red hot right now and hard to come by if I want to pick up for a deal.  So I’ll need to bide my time for now.  Maybe Amazon Prime day will be good to me.

So that’s what you have to look forward to for the rest of July and most of August.  I hope you like super hero movies!  If not, I hope you like reading reviews about them!