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Kooza!

August 20, 2007

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This past Saturday, I took K out to finally redeem her Christmas present: tickets to see Kooza! the newest travelling Cirque du Soleil show. Kooza! brings Cirque back to its circus roots, as some of the recent productions (e.g. Requiem) have started to stray from what truly makes Cirque magical.

The show has all the elements of a traditional circus; clown comedy, jugglers, high wire, and contortionists all with the unique “Cirque” flair added to them. It was an extremely entertaining show with moments that made you laugh out loud such as the person in the dog suit cocking their leg and spraying the front row audience or the pickpocket lifting a unsuspecting volunteer of everything valuable, including his necktie. Then there were other moments that made you look away in fear where one of the Wheel of Death tumblers nearly missed landing on the wheel after a freefall jump, or when one of the high wire acrobats nearly lost his footing after leaping over his co-performer and fought so hard to catch his balance to stay on. And of course, these two acts were really the only ones not to use a safety line.

Kooza has really made itself home down by the Polson Pier district and has extended its original stay here by a few weeks. At last check, there were still tickets available for the newly added shows, and if I could recommend (and I can since it’s my site), I’d say to grab them while you can because this is one extraordinary show that you shouldn’t miss and it’s the closest thing to the permanent Vegas Cirque shows you’ll get on this side of the border.

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Stardust

August 10, 2007

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Stardust was a book I picked up off of the recommendation of Jay-Rome that it was a nice fantasy that was well-written and a good, easy, enjoyable read.

The story starts off a little slower than I would like, but it does the job of setting up for the real meat of the story. As the story unwinds, the reader is introduced to a number of quirky and unique characters, fitting to the imaginary world that they’re taken to. The plot gently rolls along and ties up all the loose ends that were set at the start, but never really peaks. In fact the climactic moment involving the two main characters just fizzles out without any real closure to the ever mounting build up.

However, even with that said, the story is as I was told; a nice, easy, enjoyable fantasy read. With the big screen adaptation coming out soon, I look forward to seeing how this plays out, especially with some additional tweaks to the plot to spice things up.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

August 10, 2007

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When I picked up the new Harry Potter novel, I had hoped that J.K. Rowling had listened to the feedback from all the fans over the two previous lackluster books and returned to the style that captured the minds of millions in the first books. Also, being the final entry in the Potter series, expectations were high.

Without getting into the details and spoiling it for those who have yet to read it, I truly believe that this final book is her crown jewel of the series. Right from the get-go, the action is intense and captivates the audience. I, being the goldfish that I am, forgot most of what happened in the previous book, save for the fact of the death of one the major characters. So it took me a bit to regain some of that knowledge before things fell into place for me (tip: if you haven’t yet read this last book and are like me and forgot happenings of the previous, wiki the Half-Blood Prince before you start on this one).

Rowling keeps the audience hanging in some form or another throughout the book, with a few twists and turns along the way. Luckily for the reader, she manages to stray from her patchwork storytelling, as found in the previous book, and manages to deliver a decent sense of flow to most of the story. Of course, the book isn’t a perfect piece of literature and has its flaws, but after the debacle of the previous entries, you can’t help but overlook those here enjoy the final piece to this hallowed series.

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Transformers

July 10, 2007

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So this weekend, a few of us went to catch Transformers on the big screen, as did most of the continent it seems. I had heard many great reviews from friends and from critics, but still went in with an open mind so I wouldn’t be disappointed. Well, I wasn’t.

The movie lived up to my expectations, and then went above and beyond them. It had all the necessities for a great action/sci-fi flick and more. The storyline was well written, the effects and action was second to none, and the humour was funny.. really funny! Of course it’s nothing like the old cartoons, save for the names of the robots, but I can say right now that any Transformers fanboy going into this expecting it to be like it’s predecessors that: a) you’re sadly mistaken and b) you’ve been living under a rock not seeing how different it is.

A few key things I enjoyed throughout the film:

  • the blatant use of the old cartoon transformation sound effect mixed in with the new sound effect
  • hearing the original voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, reprise his role
  • Bumblebee’s method of communication for the majority of the movie
  • Shia Labeouf’s performance. It was very believable and he manages the dramatic and humourus scenes with the best of them. There’s no doubt this kid is going to be a huge star

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and have to say it was one of the best action movies I’ve seen in ages. If ticket prices weren’t so ridiculous, I’d definitely go see this one again. HUGE thumbs up.

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Pho Mai

July 4, 2007

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A few weeks back, K pointed out a sign for a new pho restaurant on Hamilton mountain called Pho Mai. Of course, being the pho conoisseur that I am, I had to try it out.

Our first impressions walking in was “different”, but in a good way. It looks nothing like you’re typical pho restaurant with that asian fast food feel, rather it has a very sophisticated air about it… and it was CLEAN. Mind you, we happened to go during it’s opening week,but still, it was a great feel.

So sure, it looked nice, but would the food live up to the appearance? So I ordered my staple of a large rare beef with brisket pho, fresh spring rolls, and avacado shake, while K ordered the BBQ chicken vermicelli with fried spring rolls. Portions were in line with what one would get in any other pho restaurant, except the dishware was a little fancier (all Ikea still). The food did live up to expectations and prices were still reasonable.

The only strike I had against it was that they didn’t provide a plate of bean sprouts with my pho. Otherwise, it’s good to have a decent pho place

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Mario Party 8

July 4, 2007

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There was a lot of hype and anticipation when this game was first announced for the Wii. A lot was expected in incorporating the mini-games with the Wiimote in the latest installment of this mega party game. Did it live up to the expectation?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mario Strikers Charged

July 4, 2007

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I’ve had the fortune to get my hands on Mario Charged Strikers for the Wii and I must admit, I’ve got myself a new addiction.

When I first heard rumblings of the game a while back at E3, my firs reaction was (like most people) “Oh great, ANOTHER Mario infused sports game.” However as the details of the game began to surface, it really started to catch my attention, especially with the first real online gaming experience on the Wii. As it turned out, it lived up to the hype (at least for me).

The game itself is first and foremost, fun.. which is to be expected for Mario games. The controls don’t really take advantage of the Wiimote, but that’s actually great in this case. You’re not stuck waggling the Wiimote all the time and let’s you focus on the actual gameplay. Of course, the times you do need to use it (hard tackles, saving megastrikes), it really feels natural and flows well. The gameplay is fast-paced and you quickly learn the tricks they don’t teach you in the tutorials.

Then, there’s the much anticipated online play. It allows each Mii in the console to jump online and keep separate profiles. However, there still IS a friend code system in place, but at least there is one per Mii. At least this is a big jump from the one friend code per console approach the previous DS games used. When connecting to “pick-up” games, the game actually shows you the connection strength for the upcoming opponent, and gives you the option to accept or reject the connection.

The unfortunate thing about the online play is that you always have the sore losers out there that, is they’re getting badly beaten or about to lose, they power off and drop out of the match. The servers won’t record the score of the current game, but will record the previous scores in that match-up, if there were any. I understand the difficulty in identifying legitimate connection drop offs, but 99/100 times, the connection loss is a result of a kid (most likely a grown man/woman) trying to pad their stats and can’t stand a loss in their record. Hell, I’ve been beaten badly (12-0), and have a crappy record (around .333), but I give credit to those folks I play who are damn good and deserve those points.

Overall, great game and definitely a must play when it’s released later this month.