Thursday, November 20, 2014

NEW Character, Sam the Magenta Wizard!

Today I bring you another new character for our upcoming game for Wii U, Of Mages & Pages, Sam the Magenta Wizard.  Sam is a Griffin and has dominion over "earth" meaning soil, rocks, ground, etc.  Sam watches over the Pyroclast people and is the wizard who lives closest to the Evil King Anell.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thanksgiving Entertainment for the Entire Family

As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, you may be looking for entertainment that reflects the spirit of the holiday—one of thankfulness and generosity—and is suitable for the entire family. If so, I would like to share a few suggestions:

Google Images (2014)
The Thanksgiving Visitor: A Beautiful Story with an Invaluable Lesson

I have read Truman Capote’s The Thanksgiving Visitor every Thanksgiving season since I first discovered it years ago. It is a masterfully written and moving story about events in one little boy’s life during this holiday when we give special thanks for our many blessings, most notably our family and friends. .

Originally published as a short story in McCall’s magazine in November 1967, The Thanksgiving Visitor was republished in book form the following year by Random House. It is not a long book, though. In the copy I own, the actual story runs a mere 55 pages, and it would be much shorter if formatted differently, so it doesn’t take very long to read at all. In fact, you can read it in less than an hour, more like 30 minutes really.

Although written for adults, The Thanksgiving Visitor is yet immensely appealing to children, mainly because they can relate to the eight-year-old narrator, Buddy; they enjoy the antics of the dog, Queenie; and they find Buddy’s elderly cousin, Aunt Sook, amusing and loveable. Capote’s tale, however, like much classic literature is more than simply entertaining because it teaches important lessons. For instance, according to the Committee for Children (2010), “The story's events, relationships, and flawed characters are guaranteed to spark lively discussions about such issues as bullying and bystander behavior, anger management, empathy, and friendship.”

Personally, however, I enjoy Capote’s story not for its moral lessons, but because it is beautifully written, with realistic characters to which I can relate, and because, regardless of how many times I read it, it always makes me cry. It is that touching.   

In addition to reading Capote’s story each year, I also like to watch a few Thanksgiving-themed movies, though it seems that good movies about this holiday, unlike Christmas, are in short supply. Then again, though few in number, there are yet some excellent movies with Thanksgiving themes and/or settings, including, but not limited to, the following. 

Google Images (2014)
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving:

Rated four stars by Mick Martin and Marsha Porter, coauthors of Video Movie Guide 1995, and described as an “adorable seasonal special,” this short animated film was originally made for television in 1973 but is still shown in many areas around the country and is also available on DVD.  Filled with Charles Schulz’s delightful Peanuts characters, the story beautifully captures the true meaning of Thanksgiving and does so with humor, warmth, and sincerity. 

The Thanksgiving Story: 
Google Images (2014)
Another original television special, which was also made in 1973, The Thanksgiving Story stars Richard Thomas, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, Ellen Colby, and Will Geer, otherwise known as the Walton family. John Boy (Thomas) has fallen in love with “the girl of his dreams” and is applying for a college scholarship, but then he has a serious accident that threatens to destroy everything. Although Martin and Porter claim the movie is “a bit slow-paced and overly sweet,” it’s well worth seeing and will warm even the coldest heart.

Miracle on 34th Street:
Google Images (2014)

Granted, this movie is associated with Christmas, but it is also a Thanksgiving movie. After all, Macy’s big parade is always held on Thanksgiving Day, and one of the big scenes in the movie is the annual parade. Besides, watching it at Thanksgiving can help put you in the mood for the coming Christmas season.

Made in 1947 and starring Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara, and Edmund Gwenn, this family classic, as Martin and Porter say, is “one of Hollywood’s most delightful fantasies.”  It tells the story of a little girl who has lost the spirit of Christmas but has it rekindled by a department store Santa who causes a furor when he claims to be the real thing. Whether he is or isn’t the real thing, well, that’s up to you to decide.


Committee for Children (2010) “Literature Extension Activity: Truman Capote’s The Thanksgiving Visitor,” retrieved November 1, 2010 from

Maltin, L. (2009) Leonard Maltin’s 2010 Movie Guide; New York: Signet Books

Martin, M. & Porter, M. (1994) Video Movie Guide 1995; New York: Ballantine Books

Monday, November 10, 2014

Disney Infinity 2.0

I can’t wait to be able to play Disney Infinity 2.0. The reason I haven’t as of yet is a lack of funds. And that is the inherent problem. I enjoyed playing through the story levels and toy box mode of the first iteration, and I enjoyed the idea of fighting to collect all the unique figures to play, but my wallet didn’t – nor did my wife.
I think that, for the most part, the wives and mothers, or the husbands, and fathers, as the case may be, have put a tighter grip on the purse-string this time around, I know my wife has. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it gives me more time to think through my purchases. It’s a neat game to play, but it can be seen as a money pit and until I can find a compelling argument to convince myself and my wife that sinking a small fortune into one game is worth it, I won’t be able to play as the Marvel heroes and villains this version has added.

-          Whalicoco

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Non-Stop: An Exiting though Flawed Film

Google Images (2014)

My husband, Chet, and I watch a lot of movies, mainly because Chet is a movie “nut,” and one of the more recent movies we’ve viewed is Non-Stop (We saw it over the weekend), so I thought I would share my opinion on this flawed but at times exciting film while it’s still fresh in my mind

Billed as action/mystery/thriller and rated PG-13, for intense action, violence, and some language (The action is intense at times, but the violence is not graphic and the language is mild compared to most of today’s movies; in fact, I noted little profanity), this 2014 film was directed by Jaume Collet-Serrastars and stars:

  • Liam Neeson as Bill Marks, formerly of the NYPD, now a United States Air Marshal with a drinking problem

  • Julianne Moore as Jen Summers, a passenger whom Bill instantly trusts for some unexplained reason

  • Michelle Dockery as Nancy Hoffman, a flight attendant whom Bill has known for a while and therefore has reason to trust

  • Nate Parker as Zack White, a brilliant programmer who aids Bill as he searches for the terrorist

  • Linus Roache as Captain David McMillan, the captain of the plane, though he’s role is short-lived since he mysteriously dies not too long into the flight

  • Scoot McNairy as Tom Bowen, a school teacher who gets roughed up by Bill

  • Corey Stoll as Austin Reilly, NYPD police officer who has his nose broken by Bill

  • Lupita Nyong'o as Gwen Lloyd, a flight attendant with a weird hairdo

  • Anson Mount as Jack Hammond, the other Air Marshal on board the flight

  • Omar Metwally as Dr. Fahim Nasir, a passenger and Muslim doctor, who is automatically suspect since he’s Muslim

  • Jason Butler Harner as First Officer Kyle Rice, the co-pilot, who has to fly the plane after the pilot dies mysteriously, so it’s a good thing he knows how to fly

  • Quinn McColgan as Becca, a little girl who whines a lot so Bill wastes time consoling her when he has better things to do

Brief Synopsis of the Plot of Non-Stop:

Bill Marks (Neeson) and Jack Hammond (Mount) are U.S. Air Marshals assigned to a Boeing 767 non-stop flight from New York to London. Don’t ask me why. They just are. Anyway, when the plane is approximately half-way across the Atlantic, Bill begins receiving text messages from someone on the plane. The sender says that someone will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into a specified account.
Google Images (2014)

Bill tries to figure out which passenger is sending the texts, but that’s hard to do when almost everyone on board is intent on some device. So, Bill takes Jack to the lavatory (I guess it’s as good a place as any for a conference) to tell him about the text, but before he can, Jack, who’s been acting weird since the flight began, blurts out, “But I need the money,” leading Bill to believe that Jack is the culprit, so a fight ensues and Bill accidentally kills Jack. Then he opens Jack’s briefcase (I guess he was curious), only to learn that Jack was concealing a large amount of cocaine in a plastic bag in the briefcase (He was obviously smuggling it to London).
Okay, so Bill thinks he has eliminated the terrorist. Wrong! He immediately gets another text saying basically, “See, I told you somebody would die in 20 minutes.” Oops! Bill killed Jack! Now, the clock starts ticking again and in 20 minutes someone else will die unless the money is transferred.

Bill solicits the aid of Jen (Moore) and Nancy (Dockery) to help him identify the passenger sending the texts by watching them closely to see who is using his or her phone.  (Yeah, right. They all are, well except maybe the baby.) One of the women pinpoints the school teacher (Heck if I know why), so Bill roughs him up, drags him down the aisle, plops him down in the rear of the plane, and duct-tapes his hands together (Duct tape is a handy thing to have, isn’t it?) Wrong again! It isn’t the school teacher because while he’s sitting there with his hands duct-taped, the pilot falls over dead.

Google Images (2014)
Now things get even more implausible in this implausible chain of events because suddenly the powers-that-be in the States decide that Bill is hijacking the plane after some idiot passenger uploads a video of him manhandling the school teacher. Of course, the situation is complicated by the fact that the account where the money is to be transferred is in Bill’s name, even though, as Bill points out, “Would I be so stupid as to have the account in my own name?” Bill Parks may have a drinking problem, but he isn’t stupid. After all,  he’s played by Liam Neeson.

In the meantime, the co-pilot has been told by those same powers-that-be that Bill has gone rogue and to ignore Bill. Moreover, the co-pilot is to divert the flight to Iceland and land there. An escort of fighter jets is being sent to ensure that the plane, one, doesn’t descend any lower than dictated; and, two, it doesn’t deviate from the assigned flight path. If it does, the jets will shoot the 767 out of the sky. (Is this standard procedure for a suspected hijacking?)

All right, this review is getting a bit long, so to make a long story somewhat shorter, another passenger dies, people begin panicking, and Bill receives yet another text message, this one saying that a bomb is on the plane and will be activated in 20 minutes if the money isn’t transferred.  Bill, Jen, Nancy, the programmer, and the NYPD officer all begin searching for the bomb, and “Voila!” they find it. It’s inside the package of cocaine. As for why Bill didn’t notice the bomb when he slit the plastic to verify the package’s contents, heck if I know, but the clock on the bomb is now ticking.  

Bill says that he knows how to minimize damage to the plane and saves lives. One, the co-pilot must descend to 8,000 feet (Something about equalizing cabin pressure). Two, they need to place the bomb at the farthest point to the back of the plane, which is in the galley. Three, they need to take the bags from the overhead racks and stack them in front of where they placed the bomb. (Will a bunch of suitcases really limit the destruction of a bomb big enough to blow a jumbo jet out of the sky?) Finally, the passengers need to move to the front of the plane, buckle their seatbelts, and cover their heads. (Another question: if everyone moves to the front of a plane, won’t the plane tilt drastically forward and go into a nosedive?)

And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot; otherwise, you’ll know everything that happens, so you need to see the movie to find out if Bill’s ingenious damage-control plan works and who the “bad guy” is on the plane.

A See-Again Movie, but Not Anytime Soon

In summary, the plot is at times illogical, but Non-Stop keeps you guessing the terrorist’s identity almost until the very end, provides an entertaining ride, and showcases the talents of the always-watchable Liam Neeson. The final ten minutes are non-stop action, so I guess that’s why they called the film Non-Stop. And, although I would not see the movie again anytime soon, I would definitely see it again once enough time had elapsed for me to have forgotten the implausible plot.