Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger Episodes 39-43

It had to happen sooner or later. Michigan has been remarkably hospitable these last few weeks. Am unsettling phenomenon for those of us trained to battle mountains of snow & ice who were instead left with the freedom to do whatever they wanted on soul-crushingly dark snowless nights. How do you west coasters deal with that anyway? It's depressing as all fuck. Most of us knew this moderate darkness couldn't last forever. One day we would have to dig out our shovels and face old man winter. And so today we're facing a grand old ice storm. Do ya know what that means, kiddies? It means I'm stuck indoors for a while, so why not share tales of ninja before the weight of a frozen squirrel destroys some power lines?

That was all from yesterday, before I curled up for a ten hour nap “cough.” Yeah, even I think it was a bit excessive. As for the storm, it turned out to be a little underwhelming. Sure if an event like this were to occur somewhere like Atlanta there would probably be fire & chaos. Here though, it didn't amount to much more than an inconvenience. Nice to have some snow and the nighttime glow that comes with it. Would you believe another day passed after this paragraph? At this rate I'll finish by Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Better get a move on.

Episode 39

In something of a holiday miracle we got a Kasumi focused episode that almost made her seem somewhat human. We actually start a new story arc here as the evil baby born during the last post grew up quickly and is primed for battle. Mangetsu is his name and at first childish pursuits seem to be his game. He's on the hunt for snacks and fairs quite poorly in his first confrontation with the team. Looking to continue that momentum, our ninja quickly follow one of Kasumi's plans to draw out this new baddie and finish him off. It doesn't go so well.

Turns out, Mangetsu has been watching events unfold over these many month from inside his mama,. Fucking gross, right? Anyway his first plan of attack revolves around convincing the heroes he's total pushover only to strike back with full force. What this means is while the boys are off keeping the basic goons busy, Kasumi and Fuuka draw out the beast only to get their asses severely kicked. Fuuka is sadly the primary recipient of the physical beating while Kasumi finally realizes what an overconfident twat she's been.

After that we're treated to a quick shame spiral from pinkie ninja until the others boost her mood a little and all work together to formulate a plan to strike back using some trickery of their own. The day is somewhat saved as they beat Mangetsu but fail to kill him. Things end on a dour note as most of the team celebrates while Kasumi continues to doubt herself. Great strides were made for here character in this tale but she got Fuuka hurt which is unforgivable.

Episode 40

During his morning exorcise, Takaharu figures it's time to start Christmas shopping. Such a spirit lifter is well needed at home where Kasumi is in a slump, crafting one useless invention after another. Taka thinks it's best to just confront her about her obvious overcompensation but the others disagree, opting instead to let her sort it out on her own time.
Strictly dealing with emotional imbalances wouldn't make for much of a sentai story so we witness the work of an evil Santa who makes promises of wealth to people in exchange for their silence about his activities. He marks them with a ring which slowly turns them into paupers and continues his cruel work.
Eventually the team has a proper powwow once Taka says it outright that Kasumi is the sole population of slump town. She fesses up, and Kinji admits that the reason he's been so absent lately is because he's been hunting Kyuuemon on his own in hope of recovering Tsumuji's powers. Everybody learns how honesty is the best policy, Kasumi gets her shit together and turns her new inventions into something useful. A truth telling machine which Mangetsu quickly snatches away from her. Still, they defeat the evil Santa while the nasty thief hunts down Kyuuemon, using the machine to make him reveal that he too may be a part of the Kibaoni family. Properly entertaining if somewhat lite affair. Not bad.

Episode 41

While out hunting for Kyuuemon the team once again runs afoul of Mangetsu who invites them to a ceremony declaring himself head of the clan. When they arrive it becomes a multi-part gaming challenge against a drunkard yokai.
There are two main plot points within this tale. One is how the kids have begun to ignore their elders to forge their own path. The old lion spirit guy teaches them that part of growing and leaving the nest is taking in all kinds of viewpoints from different people, it's the adult way according to him. He goes on to win the final part of their challenge for them, unwittingly being drawn into a trap. That's the second important part. The monsters breath allows it to gain control over others and it uses this ability to take control of Lion Ha-Oh and the regular ninja allies. With so much firepower on hand, the villains easily smack our heroes down.

Episode 42

It's finally time to finish the fight with Mangetsu and recover the ninja allies. The team disguises Tsumuji as another one of those clockcat monsters in order to go undercover and get the robots back while the kids deal with a serious ground battle. Meanwhile the old lion guy attempts to talk gramps into getting off his ass and lending a hand.
Really this episode is tons o fighting. On the ground, in giant bots, both the regular crew and the elders. When all is said and done, Mangetsu is finally defeated for good, his last moments being a final meeting with Kyuuemon who reveals himself to truly be the older Kibaoni child. The kids aren't privy to any of that info though as they're busy celebrating Christmas with the gifts Takaharu bought back in episode 40. Didn't figure those would pop up again. Color me surprised, whatever color that is. I'm thinking salmon.

Episode 43

It's New Years which can only mean one thing for Super Sentai, a clip show. Half of one in this case. Shurikenger (a past hero for those who don't know) has stopped by to offer the kids some winter training in the form of a game of Karuta. So we get a big spread of old fight clips & such until a yokai messes with their game and starts to trap the ninja within their old memories for rematches with upgraded foes.
From then on we get some pretty interesting fight scenes, culminating in an ant-man sized fight between Takaharu and the evil card responsible for this mess.
It would been a slightly fun yet mostly forgettable tale if not for the ending. Kyuuemon reveals the fate of Mangetsu to his mother who explodes into a fountain of fear potent enough for Mr. fox to finally revive the biggest baddie of them all, thous setting the stage for the final stretch of the series.

It seems unbelievable but I'm fully caught up with ninninger for the time being. There isn't supposed to be another new installment until the 17th of January which means this will be a shorter series than usual. It also means there should only be one or two more recap features, depending on how I decide to go about it. That's all in the future though. Speaking of the future, I hope everyone has a nice New Year. I'll probably continue my tradition of attempting to get bombed, only to piss it all out before it has a chance to take effect. That's usually about the time I settle in for a viewing of Mortal Kombat. Happy New Year, Everybody!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015. Now with Flying Cars.

The longer I live, the more it amazes me how each holiday gains it's own separate personality from years past. Sometimes Christmas slips by with relative ease, other years it can be a real chore, and then there's ones that prove themselves to be truly unique. I'd say 2015 ranks in that final category. There was already a good deal of anticipation growing from the most over sized pile of presents this family has had in at least a decade, a feeling that was offset by a Christmas Eve care accident. The person involved was absolutely fine, just some bruising but the car in question is totaled. Even if there had been nothing else of interest, this year would be firmly remembered for the singular event of a Pontiac Vibe that dreamed it was one of Santa's Reindeer.

Once the Christmas Eve drama of the flying car had been put to rest, everything began to settle into a more festive mood with the usual spread of fine foods and family. Hell, most of us even went to so far as to actually go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up early the next morning. I'm almost ashamed of myself for it. The slight imbalance to my schedule proved to be worth it however as Christmas morning then yielded a mountain of consumerism unlike any this household has witnessed in many moons. Behold the mess!

Granted there are a few large scale items within this mass such as a microwave and office chair which added quite a lot of girth to the proceedings. Still, what a beauty. I'm reminded of our old Christmas Family gatherings where presents sprawled so far from the tree as to nearly prove a fire hazard. Call me a classic materialist but this scene actually served to solidify my holiday spirit as I sat & watched the yule log while sipping holiday coffee from my Garfield Christmas mug. Of course such a serene environment cannot last forever as it was soon time to tear into some gifts. Let's check this out in batches shall we?

First up were goodies bags that essentially filled in for stockings, an important role since our stocking area doesn't have enough space for all the people in this house. Here we find a few of the more practical gifts like socks, gloves (the kind I can use with my cell phone, woot!), hygiene odds & ends, along with a wee bit of candy a glass gingerbread man full of delicious maple syrup. Also very excited for the dishwasher spinner. Maybe now people will be able to figure out whether dishes are dirty or not. There were a few bits if jerky in this baggie as well, I couldn't resist duck and alligator long enough for photo ops. Failed to photograph a candy bag from my niece, but the sting on my teeth is testament to mini milky way consumption.

These two mugs were originally from the August Villains Loot Crate. My sister hunted one down to spread a few of the items around to different people. She even went to the extra mile to get both mugs since the original crate just had one at random. They're sure to fit in nicely with our array of odd drinkware though I have no clue where to store the damn things.

Now for the entertainment arena. First up are three more additions to the horror collection. The nephew & I enjoyed the new Poltergeist a good bit when we saw it back in October. It's not an Earth-shattering innovative flick, just a fun spook story. Not sure but I believe we only watched the theatrical cut so I'm intrigued to see what extra bits are on this disc. The Town That Dreaded Sundown was a very nice surprise for me when I first saw it. It serves as such a good follow-up to the old classic and is really well made. You all should give this one a shot if you haven't already. Paranorman is amazing, deal with it. Also got Rise of the Empire which is a collection of the first two Star Wars new canon novels so I can try and play catch up. Next up is Discoveries, a dice game about the adventures of Lewis & Clark. Very excited to play this one. Oh and that Hydra pin is another piece from that villains crate.

Easily the biggest portion of my haul is all this Funko stuff. To think all this started with Phantom of the Opera way back in June. Since then, the entire family has taken on at least some interest in the pops. Especially my brother, who makes my collection seem childish. He along with my mother and sisters all took care of a good chunk of the pops I want. The wish list is down to something like ten items now though I'm sure it'll build up again. Now I've got Godzilla, Pinhead, Hordak, Macho Man Randy Savage, Metaluna Mutant, glow in the dark versions of both Cthulhu and Lo Pan., and so forth. Clearing shelf space for these guys is gonna be am undertaking. Two Dorbz got into the mix also which is great since I love these horror Dorbz. It's so damn delightful to see bloodthirsty monsters with a look of childish glee. They even layered Leatherface so his eyes and mouth are indented, ya know, under the other persons face he's currently wearing. Awesome, I wasn't the only person to get some Funko stuff though, check this out.

That's right, we made a wall! Between Pops, Dorbz, Ponies, and Mystery Minis there were thirty some Funko products scattered throughout the living room. It's rather amazing that we almost completely avoided duplicates except for my sister ending up with two King Arthur's, a situation that can be easily remedied by a quick trip to FYE. I'm kinda hoping this image will get the family placed on some corporate watch list. If you're reading this, company overlords we want Sword in the Stone, Chappie, King King, Blue Velvet, and some Final Fantasy. Thank you.

Hope everyone out there had a fun and memorable Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not. I plan to be back on here at least once before the New Year as there's still plenty of stuff to cover. Haven't even tried all the Christmas dum-dums yet. Diabetes here I come! Happy Holidays, everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear

Hard as it may be to believe, Christmas is just a few days away and I'm more excited than usual for it this year. Why might that be you ask? Well it probably has something to do with the biggest present pile I've seen under our tree in probably a decade. I wont allow anyone to poop on this parade either. Christmas always brings out the giddy, materialistic child within which is a nice feeling to still have when you're nearly three decades old. Generally I also like to give some items to different charities as well though the slow paying job kinda put a cork in that. It's actually a little odd but working for a non-profit actually reduces my both my ability and eagerness to participate in charity. Cruel mental fixations such as this should be unknown to illustrated bears, which brings us to the final installment of our Berenstain Bears holiday line-up. One that actually proved a bit surprising in one key area. Let's not get too far ahead and instead focus on the tale known as “Meet Santa Bear.”

It's just a few days after Thanksgiving when the Bear family makes a trip to the mall seemingly so Mama can find things to moralize about. First on here list of complaints is how there's already Christmas decorations so soon after Thanksgiving. Bitch, are you serious? We live in a world where one must block out the sight of Christmas displays before trick or treaters have even approached our door and your big issue is that a mall went full holiday mode the weekend after turkey day? Thank god Papa's around to shush her with an outburst of how great it all is. Thank you, sir. Thank you. Fearing her eminent defeat, Mama reshapes her whining as concern for her children, as too much excitement isn't healthy for young cubs. Cause that's something they'll harm children, holiday lights. Christ I hope someone caves her skull in with a candy cane. Once again, Papa assures here the kids will stay sensible, even though at that moment they're jumping around like coke addicts in front of the toy store.

Turns out the kids have already been thinking about Christmas. Each of them has been soaking in toy ads and deciding what exactly it is they want to extort from Santa. And wouldn't ya know it? The old boy's supposed to be at the mall any day now.
Over the following weeks, holiday activity picks up and the cubs work on their letters to Santa. Sister has crafted a sprawling manifesto of demands which Brother informs her is a huge mistake. Santa may view her as greedy and simply skip over her ass since he must consider all the kids in the world. Bro suggests refinement, offering his own list as example. This guy has got it down to an art. Only the essential gifts and niceties make up his single page list. What a master. Sister then begins to worry about all her misdeeds throughout the year. Perhaps Santa will judge her unworthy of his prizes. Low and behold, Mama actually provides sensible guidance for once as she informs her daughter how Santa doesn't demand perfection, just a good effort.
To top off the learning experience, Sister is also told that Santa isn't for grown ups and that Ma & Pa's gifts are for her and brother to spend their meager wages on. Newly instructed in the ways of the world, Sister remakes her list which she delivers in a state of pure panic the next day.

Sister's first meeting with old Saint Nick goes remarkably well. She even gets a Santa coloring book for her effort. Soon after, the kids are going about shopping for their parents which also goes smoothly. Can hardly begin to explain how odd it is to go through a Berenstain Bears title and not have them encounter a bully or swindler within the first ten pages. While leaving the mall, the family comes across a classic bell ringer who has the soul shattering look that can only come from working in the non-profit sector. Look at that guy! He hasn't smiled in 4 years, I guarantee it!

At last we come to Christmas Eve. Papa is putting on the finishing decorations (rather late I might say) while Sister goes over the standard list of Santa questions like how does he do this or that? Can't help but share this illustration since I swear this was my childhood blueprint for how homes should look at Christmas time, and yes that includes being a giant tree.

Soon enough, Papa gives a speech to his deer daughter about the magic of the season and how Santa has the best job since all of his existence is giving joy to others. What's amazing about this entire scene is that Papa never once mentions anything religious. I was so surprised as these books always had elements of christian culture, something they seem to have greatly amplified in more recent years, but right here Papa is just about charity and goodwill, no judgment or magic babies needed. He then leaves his daughter outside to stare at the stars in stark terror, contemplating her tiny part in the universe.

On Christmas morning the cubs receive all the meaningless toys they craved but find the experience of giving to their parents even more enjoyable. A moments is shared and all is well but I'd like to bring attention to how Brother wears his pajamas open shirt style in the manner of a drugged out Colombian underwear model.

Phew. Believe it or not, I've been to work between these paragraphs and now I'm starting to settle into my comfy bed to sleep the day away. Never fear though as I'll be back this week with more festive items to boost our collective holiday spirit. Right this moment however, I'm more concerned with which sleeping arrangement will result in a smaller puddle of drool. Ta!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Marvel Collector Corps December 2015 Unboxing: Guardians of the Galaxy

Godzilla added for scale. Damn that's a big box!

Gather round one and all for my last mystery box of the year, albeit probably not the final unboxing, just the last belonging to me. I decided to send 2015 off with a bang and give Marvel Collector Corps a try. The Guardians of the Galaxy/Christmas theme wasn't so much the draw as was my general intuition and the promise of this being their biggest box yet. Is it a golden gift from the stars, or just a dank lump of coal? Let's find out.

If you've never looked into Marvel Collector Corps before, here's the deal. For a somewhat misleading base price of $25 you get a box Marvel comics, shirts, toys, accessories, etc all exclusive to this service and made by the folks at Funko As you can guess, this makes an exclusive Funko Pop the usual centerpiece for each box. That alone should be a deciding factor for most people cause if you don't like Funko stuff, this service isn't for you. Also be aware that this company is fairly new to the mystery box game so there's been many reported problems in both customer service and quality control. Each installment has brought with it fewer issues so they are learning from their mistakes, but the advisement is still valid.

You're probably wondering why I claimed the price was misleading. Well the package itself is $25, that much is true. Once you add shipping & handling along with taxes it ends up being something more like $34. Now if you were to take this as your one and only subscription service, the bi-monthly element makes that price a bit more palatable. Still a decent chunk to ask for just one box and the $7 shipping isn't all too amazing either. First off the packages go out in waves, which means there were spoilers online before mine even shipped out. Determination and careful web browsing kept everything a mystery. Secondly, UPS much like Fedex before them brought the box all the way to my hometown only to leave it with the Post Office to deliver on the following day. Don't understand how that makes any business sense. Anyway, on to the goodies found within.

Every Funko box whether it be Marvel or Star Wars has included both a pin and patch. They're both decent quality items as well. Groot will join all the my other pins on the bedroom lampshade. Rocket on the other hand is sort of a conundrum as I don't wear hats or have a primary backpack, anything like that. Never really been a patch person anyway. It's still neat and pairs nicely with the pin.

Reaching into the box proper yielded a comic. Each month has an exclusive variant cover of whatever issue is included. This time we've got Guardians of Infinity #1 with a sweet image of Rocket decorating a Grootmas tree. I wondered if this was a preview of the pop cause if it was, I would have totally lost my shit. I mean this just looks cool. Haven't read the comic yet. It'll go into the reading pile before finding a place in the long box.

I assumed the next item on the agenda would be a t-shirt as is usually the case, but not this time. No sir, this ain't no measly shirt but a glorious scarf. On one side is a potted Groot, and the other bares the Guardians logo along with shadowy figures of their respective pops. Nothing else in this box inspired quite as much glee as this scarf. I need lots of equipment for winter walks and now I've got a bitching' piece of flare to show peacock while I traverse the tundra.

High on scarf fumes I dug in once again and felt two different boxes. I figured the larger one was the pop and decided to save it for last, it's smaller neighbor turned out to be rather unexpected. This double pack of holiday Groot and Rocket didn't strike me as very unique at first. Sure they're nice & all but there's a mass market Christmas Groot already so being with his buddy and having bobble heads didn't seem like enough. A little later I realized these are actually ornaments which upped the cool factor significantly. Kept the box for later storage since they're still exclusive pops, but for now they guard our presents from the branches above.

Time to figure out what that larger box was. Could this have been one of those packages with multiple pops or maybe some other Funko collectible? Actually it's a mug. A Star Lord mug no less. Wasn't completely surprised by this one since there had been rumors of a Funko Home item joining the box and both Rocket & Groot are widely available in stores, making Peter Quill the next obvious choice. No complaints though. I love me a fine mug and am more than willing to savor delicious coffee from a spaceman's head.

And that's everything. There's no weird filler to top off the box, just a base set of solid items. So how do I feel about it? Well let's consider that this box was fighting an uphill battle due to me not being a huge Guardians fan, the somewhat higher price point, oh and it arriving on a really bad day of work that left me very irritable. Even so, I liked it a lot. The pin, patch, and comic were all decent small items. The scarf and mug are both sweet! As for the pop I would have proffered something a little more extravagant like the Grootmas tree from the comic cover. Still, having them serve as ornaments as well as the apparent start of a new product line is very cool. Not everyone agrees with me though.
After hopping online today and checking out some other folks reactions I found some of em to be pretty pissed. Why's that you ask? Well Funko promises at least one exclusive pop in each box, but the little guys are called “Pop Bobblers,” possibly a new type altogether, which means some people look at this as false advertising or some kind of corporate betrayal. Likewise there were folks complaining in advance about rumors of a mug. Why someone wouldn't want an awesome mug is beyond me. Beyond that are youtube and message board rants bemoaning the lack of traditional pops I even saw one asshole throw his mug onto his driveway. Cause why sell, trade, or possibly donate something when you can throw a fit for youtube views? What a spoiled cunt.

Marvel Collector Corps served its purpose as a fine finisher for my mystery box purchases this year. I can and will use just about everything in it which is a major complement for this kind of service. Most of all, I'm rather tempted to come back for another helping or two. February is themed around Deadpool, something I'm not a huge fan of but it could be fun, April on the other hand is almost guaranteed to be Captain America: Civil War, squeeeee! Time will tell if I continue to subscribe, or chose to do something responsible with my money. Ha, like that'll ever happen.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger Episodes 33-38

You'll have to forgive the lack of any fancy or meandering intro this week as I'm aiming to cover quite a few episodes with this batch, mainly to get em outta the way for more seasonal fare. Most of em are of the stand-alone variety with one lil arc wedged in the center. Let's kick it.

Episode 33
Poor Yakumo. As if it wasn't bad enough having a Peter Tork Haircut and prison bitch lips now he has to deal with the love of a wasp woman. Yes sir, another evil ninja shows up and poisons a few members of the team. The only chance at getting the antidote lies with Yakumo's ability to manipulate wasp lady's crush on him. Guess it's time to reference the old Romeo & Juliet playbook. You know the scheme. First pretend you've betrayed your affiliated group for love, then convince the opponent to do the same. Finally though a stunt fight with your friends, accidentally become poisoned in order to secure the antidote.
For a Yakumo focused tale this one actually fares nicely. It'll most likely go down as his best episode though there's still some issues. The action is tight, especially the final face-off with wasp chick. Both the drama and comedy are handled nicely too. Once we switch to giant robot mode however, things get a little too cheeky and the narrative balance is lost. Still a far cry better than that damn lawnmower story.

Episode 34
Within the first few seconds of this episode we get a tiny cameo by the current blue power ranger. Don't let it go to your heads PR fans, the guy only gets like 3 seconds of screen time. The more notable cameo here is the appearance of Jiraiya from the old Metal Hero franchise. Like so many superhero team-ups gone by, he assumes our team to be trouble makers at first just so we can be treated to a quick fight. After that he helps them battle a yokai who saddles people with their elders in the literal sense. Yes he actually stacks people on top of each other. Taking him out wouldn't be so difficult a task if not for a ninja council instituting new rules about what ninja are allowed to do in public. Jiraiya is supposed to be the president of this council but he hides from his responsibilities. After helping out our kids, he decides to finally be a proper head of his organization.
Overall I liked this one except for it having one of the corniest endings I've seen in quite some time. It's a total cheese overload that kinda spoils this otherwise fine adventure.

Episode 35
Remember way back in episode.....27 maybe, when I mentioned how Kinji's arm wound from the wolfman would become a plot point one day? Now is that day. Thanks to the aforementioned gouge, Kinji is slowly turning into a new wolfman. In his desperation he searches out Kyuuemon, still alive by the way. They team up in order to find a demon sword, the exact same one Nagi's been researching. Before you can say synergy, everybody's scrambling through a mystical office maze while fighting a power strip centipede, or is it a millipede? Does it really matter when they're part office equipment?
Despite what you may think from the plot, this is actually a Nagi focused tale. Like many of those it's pretty solid and even has a damn fine fight where he gets to try out the transcendent armor. The story doesn't end here though since the demon sword doesn't work as described, forcing Kinji to go full wolfman.

Episode 36
The inherent drama of a teammate turning into a beast should provide plenty of fodder for good storytelling. Too bad this entry screw things up right off the bat with the quick and unexplained resurgence of the old ninja allies that were destroyed during the last story arc. I guess they were repaired but really they just come outta nowhere only to be smacked down once again.
Other than mystery repairs, this is all about Kinji dealing with his impending transformation which has been made worse thanks to the demon sword. The rest is just lots & lots of fighting. You should be able to guess that everything works out fine and victory is assured with the use of a golden pancho and shiny new sword. Oh and another powerfully cheesy ending. The first part of this arc had potential, but I don't feel like this lived up to that promise.

Episode 37
In what is probably the best episode of this batch Even more focus is placed on Nagi as he leads the team into an RPG based on the exploits of the last ninja. Decent humor, good action, and even a little story progression help push things along and we also get a small preview of the end shuriken when Nagi gets to take it for a small test drive.
On two side notes, the evil demon lady is sickly and Kinji's taken to having solo trips into the woods for some reason.

Episode 38
Ready for a return trip to Yakumo's love life? No? Would you any more willing if I mentioned this one has a creepy pedobear vibe to it? Yea, let's talk about it anyway.
A visitor from England stops by the dojo, one by the name of Elena. She was a former classmate of Yakumo's back at magic school with a major crush on him. Did I mention she's like ten years old? She wants to see this super team he claims to be the leader of, and he pretends it's a magic based sentai as he can't bring himself to destroy her dream of marrying him once he becomes a great wizard. General creepiness ensues before the girl is disappointed in his new ninja style and gets her dumb ass kidnapped by this weeks monsters.
Thank god we get a cameo from Magiyellow who's apparently a teacher of theirs. He takes Elena back home after she learns to respect Yakumo's magic ninja lifestyle and inform him of her new boytoy.
For a cliffhanger, demon lady gives birth to a son. A very interesting new development which leads to some good stories, but that's next time.

I'll be seeing you guys soon enough as a mystery box is heading towards home at a steady pace, also got an odd Christmas discovery to share with everyone. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Show and Tell December 2015

Twas the month of December and all through the house, much was stirring most notably a twelve foot snowman ruling over the front yard. I've taken a rather proactive approach to Christmas. Largely it's to make up for being such a lazy ass last month. Of course there's been the traditional activities like putting up the tree and viewing fine Christmas classics like Silent Night, Deadly Night. Most of all there's been a push to step-up our decorative game. The front yard in particular provided a classic dilemma as we chose between classy or enormous statement pieces. You can probably guess which camp won the day which worked out for the best as I now know the thrill of seeing our lumbering snow man from a block away. If you can believe it, there was an even tackier option in the form of a 16 foot tall nutcracker. These are the choices one faces when it comes to adding items to their lives, which makes a somewhat thematic intro to show and tell.

Also on the decoration spree is my attempt at remedying some former omissions in our display. For whatever reason, my family has been nutcracker free for the last 3 decades. Now we have two high ranking officers known as Admiral Butthead and....hmm, the lil one's name escapes me at the moment.
The advent calendar was another missing element from past Christmases. Nearly everyone of a certain age dreams of owning something akin to the Christmas Vacation calendar house until reality and the simple offerings of a local thrift store lead us to a magnetic picture instead.
Thrift stores have really been the corner stone of this Christmas for me. Alongside the nutcrackers and calendar are stocking hangers which are allowing those poor things to see action for the first time in at least a decade. I even found my dads gift at the local goodwill, allowing me to get him much more than usual. I'll gladly accept the good luck as the rest of my gift shopping has been going at a somewhat glacial pace. I did come up with an absolutely inspired idea for my mom. Sadly the price turned out to be outrageously beyond my means. Back to the drawing board.

Haven't indulged in too many holiday treats so far but as it stands Hostess & Starbucks are leading the pack. Matt over on Dinosaur Dracula was quick to sing the praises of Hostess Holiday cupcakes. I'll admit some distrust on my part as we all fall victim to placebo effects from different seasonal offerings. Who knows, that may be the case here. I don't know if they added fine cut Colombian cocaine or the sweet blood of Jesus but something gives these cakes an extra punch their non-holiday brethren lack. This joyous flavor can be doubled down with the addition of some fine Christmas coffee. There's a positive overabundance of java choices this years as all the hallmarks return with some snazzy cousins. I was very interested in Donut Ship Holiday Buzz which proved to be a bit too dark & crude. Starbucks Holiday blend turned out to be solid, just not amazing. Their new Holiday Blonde however is just what I'm looking for these days. It's clean, tasty, and just light enough to have multiple cups a day without going overboard. Ideal for returning from a late night walk.

Oh yes, and lest I forget. Peeps has a new Christmas variety this year with Sugar Plum. Given the general gross results from their Halloween offerings I wasn't stoked to give these a try. The results weren't altogether terrible. They resemble those gummi-like jelly fruit candies in both taste and smell. If you hate peeps and those gummi thingies, consider this a personal nightmare. If not, you might find a refreshingly unique holiday treat. You've been cautioned.

And what better way to spend those nights of candy & coffee than lots of gaming? My brother and I indulged in Target's buy two get one free deal last month. It's a solid dose of entertainment, so much in fact that I'm only on my second title so far, having spent November knee deep in Assassin's Creed Syndicate. In case you're wondering it's riddled with many of the standard Ubisoft glitches but it's still a fine improvement over Unity which I couldn't summon the gumption to finish. Don't let that taint your expectations too much. Syndicate's actually a pretty fun installment. My biggest complaint is the sheer number of kidnapping missions....oh do those suck.
Currently I'm on the first Uncharted as a pallet cleanser. The HD upgrade is one of the better ones I've come across and makes a good entry point for newbies. Part one is entertaining enough to keep me playing but the outdated jumping puzzles can get downright shitty. Those portions make me all too eager to hop into the pure Japanese fun of Tales of Zestiria. Huge fan of the series despite having played very few. I blame the release strategy of spreading the series over as many consoles as possible. Hell, I haven't enjoyed a Tales title since Vesperia when I was still in college.

Speaking of Japan, the first information about next year's Super Sentai is starting to pour out. We're getting an animal theme with robots not dissimilar to something out of minecraft. As per tradition, fans are already complaining about everything they've seen. Time has taught me that Sentai fans protest the future to a ludicrous degree. January always marks a fun turn of events where they suddenly love the current series, having transferred all complaints toward the coming thing. Somehow this behavioral pattern is forgotten every year only to being anew. Madness personified. I'm rather looking forward to the new series as I've an idea for a different style of recaps, leaving behind the episode by episode basis.

Returning to Christmas. Found this little treasure at Goodwill. It's the sheet music for Albert Finney's Scrooge, possibly the best holiday musical of all time. This book is intended for use with a chord organ, and can you guess what I have in the closet?

Let's call that a wrap for today. Got some good Christmas items lined up for this month along with a big unboxing or two. Now I must return to educating my nephew in the realm of Star Wars. Actually convinced the poor bastard to watch the prequels as well. He'll never trust me again.