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True Meaning of Smekday

Gratuity “Tip” Tucci is an eighth grader at Daniel Landry Middle School, assigned with writing an essay with a minimum of five pages about the true meaning of Smekday. If her essay is chosen from thousands of entries, it will be buried in a time capsule to be opened a century into the future. It all began when we found out that there was intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Life of extraterrestrial proportions. Anarchy spreads like wildfire following the visitors’ arrival, discussing plans of renaming Earth to Smekland (to honor Captain Smek) and forcing the entire American population into one state.

If there’s someone who has a lot to tell about their experience, it’s Tip. First of all, her mother just isn’t herself lately. Maybe it has something to do with that strange glowing mole on the back of her neck. Then there’s a friendly visitor who becomes Tip’s friend, dubbing itself “J.Lo”. (I’m dead serious.) But the invasion quickly gives way to a cross-country adventure as J.Lo, Tip, and her cat Pig travel to find Tip’s mom at the Happy Mouse Kingdom. Along the way, they make friends including Chief Shouting Bear, Vicki Lightbody, and the Brotherhood Organized against Oppressive Boov (BOOB). The trio is going to need all the gas in their hovercar if they’re gonna cook up a plan to save the country, maybe even the world.

I think I came across this when I was looking for a good science-fiction book to feast my eyes on. The premise seemed promising and I quickly found myself wanting to read it. My English teacher had the book in his class library, and I found myself plowing through the book a little bit each day during our equivalent of study hall. I was more than elated finding the book at our school library, and days later I’d read the book cover to cover. All the time, all the hours I spent reading this story was definitely worth it. This is the best science fiction book I’ve read since Maximum Ride, and I can tell you why.

  • An exquisite sense of humor - Smekday has the freshest gags I’ve heard in a while, and it’s a good reality check compared to the book’s sci-fi intensity. Rex has a gift for proper comic timing that will leave the reader thoroughly amused.
  • It’s part-graphic novel Smekday tells us of the history of the Boov and the Nimrogs (plus other educational nuggets) via comics. It’s a nice art shift that goes beyond the pictures and newspaper clippings.
  • GIRL POWER! - Tip is a very empowering character that’s strong and sassy, and knows when and how to speak her mind. She’s like the Spice Girls smashed altogether into a little girl. Boys will hardly feel alienated with the BOOB as well.
  • Additional pictures to deepen the experience - Polaroids taken by Tip, newspaper clippings, Tip’s drawings, all of these show up in the book and add some sort of depth to the story so you know what’s happening.
  • A really shocking ending - Trust me, you will not see it coming even if you read all the exposition and context there is to read.
  • Vivid writing and dialogue - Through Tip’s eyes, it feels like you’re actually there. It’s always fun to picture what’s happening in your mind, from the little things to the more climactic events. Rex has the ability to turn a good laugh into a shocking tragedy with just a few sentences, and this shows as the book nears to its unexpected conclusion.
  • Lovable characters - J.Lo has been an adored character by lots of those who read the book. I mean, it’s hard not to love an alien who’s willing to make a car be able to fly, and then later unknowingly eat a urinal cake. Tip’s characterization is more evident since, well, she’s the one telling the story.
  • A unique structure - The book is split into thirds. Two thirds are written in essay form, and the third is the longest part of the novel as Tip convinces herself to come flat-out and finish what she started. “Odd”, I believe, is the wrong adjective to use. Well, when’s the last time you read a book like that?
  • The community loves it - Many people call Smekday one of their favorite books they’ve ever read, and they give away five-star scores like candy. And this book deserves it, since…well, I’ve already gone into detail. Check out snippets of some Goodreads community reviews:

“…loved the cat, loved Gratuity, loved everything about this book.” – Kaethe

“…Adam Rex’s delicious banquet of pop cultureskewers dipped in saucy social commentary and served alongside a heaping helping of warm, filling comfort food…” – Stephen

“Adam Rex rules.” – Ceridwen

“Pretty much my favorite children’s book of the past few years…” – Paul

“…one of the funniest, constantly entertaining books I’ve read in a long time…” – Chris

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Not convinced? Tip and J.Lo have a couple reasons of their own.

“BOOB is an…acronym.” [...] “Brotherhood Organized against Oppressive Boov. It stands for that.”
“Shouldn’t it be B-O-A-O-B, then?”
“We really wanted it to be BOOB,” said Marcos, and at the younger boys giggled again. (126)
*******
“Waitaminute,” I said. “BOOB?”
“It’s the name of our club,” said boy number two.
“Are you guys from Florida or something?”
“No,” said Beardo. “Why?”
“Nothing.”
Both boys shouted over each other.
“It stands for–”
“Backyard–”
“Shut up!”
“Backyard telescope Ob…Observation of–”
“Of Occupations by Boov!”
*******
“I don’t know why I ask,” I said, “but shouldn’t your acronym be like, BTOOB or something?”
“BOOB sounds better,” they said.
Boys. Honestly. (225)

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J.Lo and Tip

The True Meaning of Smekday is a gem among sci-fi books, with vivid writing and fast-paced action, all boiled down to a dramatic finale. Easily one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I hope I’ll see a story like Smekday in the not-too-distant future, if not a direct sequel. I’ll even accept a spiritual successor. But this is not the last I’ll see from Adam Rex. It’s like an alien-infused Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for kids. Yeah, it’s that good. Not only that, but there’s going to be a movie based off of the book. The name? Home (formerly Happy Smekday!). You’d think that maybe it would be called The True Meaning of Smekday, or even Smekday, but they settled with Home. You’ll never guess who’s playing the two main roles. Rihanna and Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. (It took me way too long to realize they’re just doing voices.) The movie doesn’t arrive until next November.

FINAL SCORE: ★★★★★

If you liked The True Meaning of Smekday, check out:

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I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing this! Well, you know the algorithm–tune in, well, whenever for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak! Be sure to Like this post, and if you’re new don’t forget to abduct that subscribe button! You can also find Sammwak on Google+ where you can get more news and stuff there!

Stay classy,

~S~ 8-)

This is where I usually put my video of the week, but I know that you probably don’t know that I have a YouTube channel. Check out my crap-res gaming videos of me playing games on old Nintendo consoles with the power of emulators. I don’t intend for these to catch fire very quickly, but they’re just out there. I think I got the mic working on this one. The computer fan’s a pain in the behind, and I can’t afford to shut it up, so try to bear with it.



I don’t know if you know, but you know that I know, and I know that there’s a slim chance you know. Well, it’s official: Sammwak has its own official Google+ page! Check out weekly hints as to the upcoming new post of the week, breaking news, and more details that you’d never find here! Click on this link-a-ma-jig to check out my page. C’mon, you know you want to.

https://plus.google.com/b/107318780574909420529/107318780574909420529/posts

Stay classy,

~S~ 8-)



Hey guys it’s Sam from the future, and I just want to apologize once again for the whole malware alert fiasco on Google Chrome. I made edits on most of the gaming sections of the post and it is now 100% officially available for all to see. I know this may have come up a bit late, and I can’t wish you a merry Christmas now, but definitely have a happy new year! See you in a few, America!

~S~ 8-) (Sent from the future on 12/29/12)

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Hey guys it’s Sam, and welcome to our third annual Sammwak Christmas/New Year special! But let’s start out with the Christmas half. There’s that one month of the year where the snow falls and temperature drops, but cheer rises. Yep, it’s the month of December, which means the month of Christmas. Most people believe the 24th and 25th are the two days where you hope Santa Claus will come and make your entire year worthwhile, but that’s not even the true meaning of it. It’s actually just a big birthday party for Jesus Christ, as the holiday is actually the “season finale” for Advent, as well as the beginning of the 12 days of Christmastide. (Yeah, I spelled it right, it’s not “Christmastime”.) But anyway, let’s get our party pumping with a nice spin on our trademark Christmas carol…”(Sammwak Wants You To) Deck the Halls 2012″!

Deck the halls with seas of presents,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

‘Tis the season to be goody,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Santa’s coming, so please be good, or he’ll give you a big lump of coal!

One day a year is this jolly

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-LA!

Oh, I also planned to have some SpongeBob in there, so here ya go.

Oh, and here’s a cool song my English Plus class listened to the other day. Here’s the lyrics if you want to partake in a Minecraft Christmas Sing-Along! And since it’ll take too long to go through every word in the entire song, let’s do just the 12th day and work our way down the list of items.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my Steve gave to me,

twelve iron shovels,

eleven tasty cookies,

ten dancing zombies,

nine little saplings,

eight shiny diamonds,

seven golden apples,

six Ender chests,

FIVE GOLDEN PANTS!

four tasty cakes,

three anvils,

two diamond picks,

and a Creeper hissing at me!

Now for some tips to throw a great Christmas party!

  • Book a date. As December moves, people get busier by the second, so it’s good to have a date ready.
  • Send out invitations in late November or early December. This way you can drain out how many people to expect, and remember that this is RSVP only.
  • Plan your eateries in advance. Are you gonna host a relaxed buffet, or a more sit-down meal? Scrawl down your ideas on the shopping list and stick to them. Prepare as much as possible the day before the party, and make things easy and simple—-the last thing you’d want to do is be slaving your own self in the kitchen while guests are having a good time. Some good recommendations to fulfill hungers are cookies, cookies, and more cookies.
  • Welcome guests upon arrival. Be sure to make your guests feel good, and greet them at the door. Take their coats and escort them to the party area. Make introductions if guests aren’t acquainted with one another and strike the conversation. Arrange drinks to hand out to your guests, and the real icebreaker comes for shy guests.
  • Play music. The perfect formula to setting moods fast. Be sure to cook up a few CDs beforehand, but play it at a sustainable volume, since people will want to chat.
  • Host games (optional decision). The most classic party games in the book, like charades, are perfect for Christmas parties. More sophisticated get-togethers can host adult games, but just in case, have plenty of writing utensils, papers, and balloons.
  • Have fun! Don’t feel uncomfortable at the party. Your guests will be looking at you to set the mood, you being the host/hostess. If you lead the way of a fun time, all will follow.
  • Give the kids something to enjoy! Especially if you have children at your party, let them have friends invited. Give the kids something to do that will keep them entertained for a sustainable duration, so keep them busy.

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If you prefer some “picks for popcorn” to satisfy your yuletide needs, check out some of my most favored holiday flick picks!

Golden Tomato Award winner for Best-Reviewed Animated Film of 2011

“…a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength” – Rotten Tomatoes

“Fabulous, funny holiday movie about the Christmas spirit” – Common Sense Media

In her film directing debut, Sarah Smith gives us arguably one of the best–if not the best–Christmas film released to theaters in years. The story revolves around Santa Claus’s titular yet maladroit son Arthur Christmas as he gets caught in the middle of yet another gift-giving spree on Christmas Eve. However, not even Santa’s high-tech ship has delivered every present that needed to be delivered, as Arthur realizes that one girl’s present has been left behind. In one of the wildest, riskiest, and craziest journeys yet, Arthur and his comrades must race against the clock to deliver the lone present and save Christmas. The film ended up grossing almost $150 million–$50 million more than the film’s actual budget. But hey, don’t be nervous because it didn’t win commercially. Grab your family and friends and check out how it can  really bring the “tide” back into “yuletide”…

2010 Kids Choice Award winner for Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie (Jim Carrey)

2010 Kids Choice Award nominee for Favorite Animated Movie

36th Saturn Award nominee for Best Animated Feature

Common Sense Media Editor’s Pick

“…dazzling special effects…an array of fine performances from Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman” – Rotten Tomatoes

“an exhilarating visual experience” – The Chicago Sun-Times

“a marvelous and touching yuletide toy of a movie” – Entertainment Weekly

From the director from some of history’s most groundbreaking films–Forrest Gump,the Back to the Future trilogy, and The Polar Express–comes one of the most unique animated holiday films of all time. Presented completely in motion-capture animation, Robert Zemeckis’ take on A Christmas Carolstars, as always, the cold and gluttonous Ebenezer Scrooge. In 1843, Scrooge shows true hatred for everything related to Christmas or even happiness itself, refusing to attend his nephew’s Christmas party and forcing his employee Bob Cratchit to beg to take the day off. That night, Scrooge gets an unexpected visit by the spirit of his former partner-in-business Jacob Marley whom had passed a week prior on Xmas Eve, now having to carry heavy chains forged from his greed throughout his afterlife. Marley gives off a premonition that Scrooge will be haunted by three spirits that will guide him to finally repent and prevent an even worse fate than himself. Indeed, Scrooge is haunted by the three ghosts Marley had foretold–the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. Through the spirits Scrooge witnesses visions of how he became the man he is now, the ways he will corrupt others, and–if he really doesn’t cooperate–even his own fate…

1995 Kids Choice Award nominee for Favorite Movie Actor (Tim Allen)

“…firmly rooted in the sort of good old-fashioned holiday spirit missing from too many modern yuletide films” – Rotten Tomatoes

“Heartwarming family tale for both kids and adults” – Common Sense Media

Imagine this: one night you cause Santa Claus to fall from your rooftop to his demise and you and your son must finish St. Nick’s gift deliveries, then you travel to the North Pole where you realize–much to your surprise–that you must actually become the real Santa Claus himself and, under the power of the Santa Clause, convince his loved ones that he truly is Father Christmas himself. But you’re not impersonating Santa, you’re slowly becoming him–you’re growing white hairs, you’re adding weight, etc. Well, that’s basically the entire concept of The Santa Clause. In director John Pasquin’s first collab with Allen since his days on TV with Home Improvement, this fictitious fantasia hosts Allen’s first real primetime trip to the big screen after working a minor role in 1989′s Tropical Snow and is sure to be a family hit for both the hilarity and the heart-warming it has to offer. And if you don’t think so, then ho ho ho boy, you’ve got some work to do! (Bonus: If you want to, consider the movie’s two sequels Santa Clause 2 and Santa Clause 3.)

Title-holder of history’s highest-grossing comedy film as of 2009

1990 Oscar nominee for Best Original Score (composed by John Williams) and Best Original Song (“Somewhere In My Memory”)

1991 Kids Choice Award winner for Favorite Movie

“a good-natured, albeit unrealistic, family film that both kids and adults will enjoy” – Common Sense Media

This is easily the most classic yuletide comedy in the book, the one movie that skyrocketed star Macaulay Culkin’s film career, and one that will always live in my heart. In this hilarious hijink, the McCallister family is preparing to spend their Christmas in Paris, but forget one tiny detail: Kevin, whom is one of the two sons. Now home alone, Kevin finds himself to experience true freedom by pigging out and watching mature films, but after an unexpected visit by the Chicago Police Department Kevin gets an even worse scenario where his house is under the besiege of two dangerous thieves…dangerously dull, that is. Once Kevin realizes he has to defend his home if he wants to emerge as the victor of the fight, he begins organizing an increasingly clever series of booby traps that the burglars mindlessly continue to fall victim to. That’s pretty much the entire film, but that premise alone–and how the film’s director, also responsible for Gremlins and Mrs. Doubtfire, pulled it off–grossed the movie an overall revenue of almost $500 million! No wonder it’s the highest-grossing comedy of all time!

2004 ASCAP Award winner for Top Box Office Films

2004 Golden Trailer winner for Best Comedy

2004 Blimp Award nominee for Favorite Movie

2004 MTV Movie Award nominee for Best Comedic Performance (Will Ferrell)

2004 PFCS Award nominee for Best Live Action Family Film and Best Use of Previously Published or Recorded Music

2004 Teen Choice Award nominee for Choice Movie Actor (Will Ferrell) and Choice Movie – Comedy

2005 Golden Satellite Award nominee for Best Youth DVD

Common Sense Media Editor’s Pick

“A movie full of Yuletide cheer…a spirited, good-natured family comedy…benefits greatly from Will Ferrell’s funny and charming performance as one of Santa’s biggest helpers” – Rotten Tomatoes

“Peppy holiday favorite for both kids and parents” – Common Sense Media

In Will Ferrell’s first primetime starring role for a family film, he portrays Buddy, a man raised among Santa’s elves whom discovers that in actuality he is the son of a father named Walter who likes in NYC and is on Santa’s naughty list. Ditching the North Pole to find his dad, Buddy only incorporates what he’s learned among the elves and elflike, which makes Buddy a snowflake decoration master and gives him expectations to the best from everyone. Which, in case you’re wondering, aren’t really crucial skills in the Big Apple. Buddy’s dad, who’s in the publishing industry, is slipping on thin ice because he needs to find a successful children’s book by Christmas Eve. Despite being skeptical that Buddy is his son, after a DNA test Walter finally accepts Buddy and brings him home to meet Walter’s wife and second son. However at Gimbel’s, Buddy stumbles across a pretty lass named Jovie. On his way to saving the holidays and creating happy endings for all from the North Pole to NYC, Buddy gets lots of opportunities to do idiotically fun activities as he experiences what the Big Apple has to offer, as well as getting more in touch with Jovie and her family.

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That’s enough movies for one special! Now, in reference to this year’s Halloween special, let’s tune in some of your favorite TV show’s efforts in making their viewers’ Christmases a very merry and holly jolly one! But before I tell you that, I need to tell you about the campaigning some of my fave channels have been doing. Cartoon Network has definitely got in the habit, changing their trademark jingle to fit the yuletide mood and even hosting the Naughty Or Nice Christmas event:

And Disney XD has also gotten in a yuletide mood, introducing their new “Shiver-Vision” campaign to support them kinda like how Disney Channel’s “Monstober” campaign kicks in for Halloween.

Now, let’s get to that TV!

Oh, Christmas Nuts!” from Kickin’ It - Yep, even the Wasabi Warriors celebrate Christmas. But Jack, Milton, and Jerry are more interested in getting presents from Santa than unlocking the true yuletide spirit, so Rudy makes the trio volunteer at “Santa’s village” for activities like gift-wrapping and the snowball toss. However, their intentions backfire when they are framed for stealing a bag of gifts from the village and become “the kids who stole Christmas”, becoming banned from the mall and the dojo. The three desperately attempt to show their innocence, targeting an elf named Tinsel, when they discover a shocking secret about the village’s wrapping paper that might just prove they’re not guilty. In the meantime, Eddie and Kim participate in the ultimate “fight before Christmas” by showing off their window displays in a contest full of envy and competition.

The Christmas Special” by Regular Show - For this simplistically titled half-hour holiday special, you might be wondering, “What’s the park doing to celebrate Christmastime?” Well, of course throwing a huge Christmas party! Unfortunately, at the same time Santa himself is getting himself in a lot of trouble. One of his own elves, Quillgin, has betrayed him and now they are fighting to what seems to be the death over a gift box. The clash ends suddenly when Quillgin fires three bullets into Santa and causes him to fall out of his sleigh, taking the box with him. He ends up making a crash landing in Skips’ garage, where Mordo and Rigs discover him while going out to get more drinks for the party. After being skeptical Santa proves to them he is not a scam by reciting the two’s Christmas wishes about invisibility cloaks, and he informs them about his purpose and why the gift box is so important. When opened, the box grants its bearers with what they want most–and it accepts anything, even the worst of occurrences. Worse yet, the gift can only be destroyed when thrown into a pit of lava, which means nothing like a chainsaw or a hammer can even dent it. The pair, now having gotten the rest of their comrades into believing their story, travel with Santa to East Pines to drop off the box in an abandoned mineshaft. However, when Rigby commits an act of vandalism by playing with the park’s snowman, they are held as captors by none other than their worst enemy–Gene. Initially Gene does not believe them, stating that they’re trying to pull a yuletide prank because Benson was mad about the quality of his sweater, but after discovering the box’s true powers he gives in. Gene manages to give the gang a ride to the mineshaft on snowmobiles, and warns the gang about a series of booby traps before heading away. It turns out that before they can get to the pit, they must go through three trials that are not as treacherous as the last…

Christmas” from The Amazing World of Gumball - As the series’ first episode to have a name without “the” in it, Elmore’s Christmas special is obviously a very special one. In what seems to be a reference to The Santa Clause, the Wattersons accidentally hit a filthy bum whom apparently looked strikingly like Santa. When they rush the stranger to the hospital, Richard worries that he will be on the naughty list and decides to do a few impromptu deeds that only manage to wreck the hospital. After Richard’s hospital havoc, the doctor finally gives the family the diagnosis of the situation: the stranger has no ID, no memory, clearly no chances of being Santa, but he does have one thing–he must be cared for by those who caused pain to him in the first place. The family definitely goes overboard with their planning, as Richard surrenders everything he owns to “Santa”, Nicole goes out of her way to ensure that everything “Santa”‘s  filthy fingers touch will be put in their place, and the family even takes “Santa” to the mall and replaces him with the mall Santa…

It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!” from SpongeBob – Remember back in 2000, during SpongeBob‘s second season, when “Christmas Who?” came out and literally redefined Nick’s ways to make a Christmas special? Well twelve years have passed since that, and seemingly to celebrate the success of the original SpongeBob Christmas special, Nick came back with something even bigger. And by big, we mean they took Bikini Bottom, turned it into stop motion inspired by the timeless Rankin/Bass specials, and added several songs to the mix. Yep, that’s a true SpongeBob Christmas. And this Christmastime definitely differs from the rest, as Plankton has his biggest scheme yet to both ruin the happiest day of the year for Bikini Bottom and all its Bikini Bottomites, as well as make himself look good for Santa to put on his nice list and deliver to him what he desires most–the secret Krabby Patty formula. And how does such an evil mastermind do that? Well, after thirteen years of failure Plankton has definitely taken notes, as his new plan is creating…fruitcakes? But these aren’t just any fruitcakes, these are fruitcakes laced with jerktonium, an element “fresh from the periodic table” as “Jt” that can make any consumer become the meanest and nastiest jerk of all. Pretty soon, Plankton spreads his baked horrors across the city and slowly turns everyone Bikini Bottomite around into a jerk. Every single one except SpongeBob. Apparently, his yuletide love is so strong not even jerktonium can reach his heart, so thanks to this Plankton has created a Plan B that will take SpongeBob’s Christmas cheer and crush it–a metallic Sponge-Bot that will impersonate the real being. With SpongeBob curious as to how the city’s gone mad–literally–he visits a cranky Sandy where he finally discovers the secret to the fruitcake’s power…

Note: This episode contains one major error–when in Sandy’s treedome SpongeBob does not wear his water helmet and is perfectly fine in air for some reason–the stop motion likely made it tough to create a helmet for his head, let alone having it stay on.

A Fairly Odd Christmas” from The Fairly OddParents - Now, this isn’t exactly what you’d call a TV episode, but rather a TV movie. But I still consider this a Christmas special, and it still technically is in the show’s canon. In this riveting holiday Odd Movie sequel to Grow Up, Timmy Turner, Timmy is traveling round the world with his girlfriend Tootie and his fairies. While on this magical trek the foursome are granting wishes for the people they meet, but Santa discovers that with these granted wishes Timmy’s customers automatically get removed from Santa’s nice list. After confrontation with a pair of elves, Santa directly explains to Timmy the true meaning behind “with great power comes great responsibility”. But at that very moment an elf informs Santa that the gift wrapping machine has broken, and when Timmy unwittingly decides to grant Santa’s wish, his fairy magic malfunctions and turns into a blast that sends Santa sailing into the machine. Worse yet, he suffered a blow to the head on the way in, and he has suffered brain damage. Luckily, Timmy’s beefcake companion Jorgen arrives and tells him–once again foreshadowing The Santa Clause–that he must become Santa since all godchildren must take the place of a holiday icon they have been damaged to the point where they can’t do their job. Unfortunately, Timmy can’t become Santa due to being on his naughty list, and Timmy’s fairy friends can’t do squat about it since the planet’s magnetic polarity at the North Pole invalidates this type of magic…

Note: This is Drake Bell’s second starring role to a Nick show’s Christmas special in the form of a TV movie. The first was Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh.

Mr. Claus” and “Mr. Elf” from Mr. Young - If you couldn’t already infer, this is indeed another reference to The Santa Clause. After Derby’s planned prank goes wrong, Santa ends up falling from his sleigh on Christmas Eve and his hard landing knocks out his memory! So now Adam, Derby, Ivy, Echo, and Slab must deliver the rest of Santa’s gifts to the entire world in just one sleigh! Unfortunately, upon coming back they discover something shocking about Santa that changes the entire Christmas for them. As for “Mr. Elf”, Santa is also a centric character in this episode as Adam takes a reindeer to the North and convinces Santa to automate the work, but now must care for all the unemployed elves. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but then again this episode has only aired in Canada…

Silent Punch, Deadly Punch” from Randy Cunningham - Norrisville’s favorite ninja is back to kick some yuletide butt, and he is looking for the Skunk Pine so his smoke bombs can be restocked. When Randy does find the Pine, it is stolen by Hannibal McFist to use as a Christmas tree for a party at McFist Industries. After discovering that Howard is also at Hannibal’s party when his company was bought by his industries, Randy disguises as a ninja Santa to infiltrate the party and restock his bombs. Even if it means fighting robo-elves and a robo-snowman…

Generic Holiday Special” and “Orange Carol” from Annoying Orange - Yep, Nerville and his flock of fruits have definitely got their hands full of yuletide spirit. But they have so much of it, they couldn’t cram it all into one episode–they had to knife chop it into two! Their first episode was the show’s first “generic holiday special”, highlighting things like how the Easter Bunny makes his eggs (ewww), Passion Fruit’s plan to outdo Orange’s “new friend”, as well as some celebrity appearances. And not celebrity appearances as big as the Rock Candy Monster (although he does nonetheless appear), these are actual celebrities–people like “Weird Al” Yankovic, Bret Michaels, and Alice Cooper, to be exact! Oh, there’s also famous vegetable guitarist Squash in there. But as for “Orange Carol”, it sounds pretty much 100% as it seems–Orange’s levels of annoyance have slowly begun to upset his fruity friends as they go Christmas caroling, and even Nerville has been infuriated to the point where he bans Orange from the group of carolers. But as he naps, he is visited by three spirits who will one way or another show him the errors of his ways. The first spirit is the Ghost of Annoyances Past (aka Midget Apple), who shows him how annoying he’s been for the past few Christmases. The second spirit is the Ghost of Annoyances Present (aka Pear), who shows him how his friends are doing without him around. And the third and final spirit is the Ghost of Annoyances Future (aka Marshmallow), who shows him how corrupted his future will be if he continues to be so annoying…

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But of course, I’d be a cold-blooded and cold-hearted blogger if I didn’t talk about the tragedy that occurred exactly a week ago. All was well on the 14th of December for Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. Almost 500 kids had enrolled in the school between kindergarten and fourth grade, and it seemed to be a pretty basic day…or so everyone thought. At exactly 9:35 in the morning, 20-year old Adam P. Lanza had just committed matricide and was driving his mom’s car to Sandy Hook, where he broke through a glass door at the front of the school. Sporting apparel fresh out of Battlefield, Lanza spent the 14 minutes he was inside the school shooting every child and teacher in sight. Lanza ended up robbing the lives of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook before committing suicide with a headshot as soon as police authorities arrived. Add all that up with Lanza’s mother, and a total of 28 people lost their lives0 in the shooting. Despite the number the Sandy Hook shooting ranks as the second-deadliest shooting in America (behind the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007) as well as the second-deadliest mass murder at an elementary school in the US (behind the 1927 Bath School bombings). Enough gruesome details, let’s just dive into “moment of silence mode” to honor and remember those who were put to rest last Friday. Yes, from bystanders to heroes.

  • Charlotte Bacon (6)
  • Daniel Barden (7)
  • Olivia Engel (6)
  • Josephine Gay (7)
  • Dylan Hockley (6)
  • Madeleine Hsu (6)
  • Catherine Hubbard (6)
  • Chase Kowalski (7)
  • Jesse Lewis (6)
  • Ana Marquez-Greene (6)
  • James Mattioli (6)
  • Grace McDonnell (6)
  • Emilie Parker (6)
  • Jack Pinto (6)
  • Noah Pozner (6)
  • Caroline Previdi (6)
  • Jessica Rekos (6)
  • Avielle Richman (6)
  • Benjamin Wheeler (6)
  • Allison Wyatt (6)
  • Rachel D’Avino (29, teacher’s aid)
  • Dawn Hochsprung (47, principal)
  • Anne Marie Murphy (52, teacher’s aid)
  • Lauren Rousseau (30, teacher)
  • Mary Sherlach (56, school psychologist)
  • Victoria Leigh Soto (27, teacher)
  • Nancy Lanza (52, Lanza’s mother/killed at home)

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

- Barack Obama in one of his many speeches addressing the Sandy Hook shooting

As you can see in my little blockquote, the shooting has triggered swarms of shock, surprise, and most of all grief across the country and even most of the world. It has gotten tons of reactions from people who took the gratitude to remember those who were put to the big nap in this tragedy. Smosh didn’t even release their usual Friday video one week because of the shooting! Luckily, I think all this was satisfied when practically all the artists and coaches on The Voice banded together to sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with an array of lit candles organized to set the mood. Each artist and coach held a card which bore the name of a young victim in the shooting and their age. Here, it makes a lot more sense if you see it for yourself. (By the way this has over 4.4 million hits, so consider it viral.)

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And since you know how much of a Jolly Good Bookie I am–that’s right, I am the Bookie–let’s count down this year’s best and worst books of the year!

As I said before, and will say again, I’d be daft if I didn’t mention the first three Sisters Grimm books as some of my books of the year. I don’t know how Michael Buckley pulls it off, whether or not he has some sort of “magic touch” when it comes to writing. He has the humor, adventure, action, surprises, excitement, charm, awesomeness, character, fantasy incorporation, and about a million other things that made the original Sisters Grimm trilogy nothing less than a flawless hit. (Wow, I think someone would ought to say this about Ocarina of Time.) When I first read Fairy-Tale Detectives, all I recognized Buckley for was his NERDS series, which I had eventually gotten quite fond of. But as I read the book, it slowly changed my perspective of the fantasy genre itself, and when I put the book down I was almost itching to get the sequel. A few weeks or months later (remember people, this is an entire school grade ago, so I can’t recall much detail) I eventually got the second installment via “on-hold” and read that through like I’d read the first one. In a rather dimwitted act, I got so antsy for that book that I checked out both the third and fourth installments to try and hold me off. Unfortunately, I didn’t read a chapter of either books since I knew it wouldn’t make any sense, and simply refused to treat a series like this. Luckily when I read the third book, it blew its previous installments out of the water. And to this day, although I’m still waiting for my time with the fourth installment to come–I keep having dreams about it–let’s just honor the original trilogy in the meantime. Especially with our Fantasy Books of the Year honor.

Now, I bet you’re wondering, “Oh, of course Sam would put City of Ember as one of the top books.” Well, actually, I’ve got a pattern going on. I list a good book, and then I list a bad book. And as I already listed Sisters Grimm as a good book, then City of Ember inevitably has to be the bad book. Now I bet you’re shocked, flabbergasted, thinking I’m all hypocritical. But actually, City of Ember only messes up on the small problems that predictably grow bigger throughout the story. Speaking of story, the book’s storyline isn’t half bad: in a post-apocalyptic world, the city of Ember has reached its 240th year of existence and seems to be in more eroding condition each year. The lightbulbs that serve as the city’s only light source are beginning to die out, resulting in blackouts that terrify the entire city, but two kids will get to the bottom of it. Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet, to be exact. On Assignment Day–it’s sort of like a holiday where each young Emberite (I know it’s not a word, but it sounds right) receives a job requiring work around the city–Lina is given the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer. Doon, however, gets the best job of all–the messenger–and shockingly turns it down. Eventually Doon convinces Lina to swap jobs with him, as Doon is interested in the Pipeworks due to them bearing Ember’s generator. Seems cool, huh? Not when awkward storyline and clunky perspective and dialogue get in the way. These are basically what makes City of Ember that much farther away from its true goal, and this is kind of sad to say. Ember had a great storyline and plenty of potential, but its problems in general prose is what corrupted the book. And it got turned into one of the most mediocre movies of 2008, as well as one of the year’s biggest box office failures. That’s corruption itself. Let’s give this book a Sci-Fi Miss of the Year honor just to accentuate the book’s imperfections.

You’ve probably never heard of this book. And that’s what makes it that much better. Paul Feig’s groundbreaking children’s literature debut, Ignatius MacFarland: Frequenaut!, practically takes modern science fiction and gives it his own unique twist. And as he was the true main man behind the notorious Nickelodeon show Freaks and Geeks, it wasn’t a surprise Feig didn’t back down in humor. In fact, all of Feig’s charm, adventure, action, and prose skills were conglomerated in this one novel, and it had an equally impressive storyline to go with it. You see–well, let’s just use the description I had in our last INSANE.

” As the titular star of the book, Ignatius “Iggy” MacFarland, achieves both. The premise of the story revolves around Iggy being the center of lots of teases and laughs from the meaner kids at his school (an example being “Piggy MacFartland”), and when he reaches the last straw he decides to do something that even Neil Armstrong considers bizarre. (Or should I say, considered, due to Neil’s passing earlier this year in August. Long live the man who showed us that it was possible to literally moonwalk. :cry: ) Iggy actually builds a rocket ship that he plans to launch to send him (and his friends Gary and Ivan) into outer space to another planet. Iggy has the metaphor that hopefully the extraterrestrials will be more nice to him, but when something horrible happens with his ship–with him inside–he is somehow blasted to…well, not outer space, but a parallel reality or “frequency” known as Lesterville. (And here’s where the science fiction comes in…)

At this twisted dystopian version of the real world, Iggy discovers a strange race of humans and their even stranger language (made up of the mere “puh” and “pah”), and discovers that the entire frequency is ruled by a man known as Chester Arthur–Iggy’s English teacher! He has now become the frequency’s dictator/president, and literally every brand in sight has been affected with Arthur’s name. Arthur Potter by J.K. Arthling, Artbucks, Art Wars: The Artpire Strikes Back, Art of the Rings, The Artfather Parts I and II, even Spider-Art, for Art’s sake! (Oh great, now they got me doing it.) In this frequency, Iggy meets Karen (another Earthling) who becomes his companion in solving the mystery of Lesterville and defeating this version of Mr. Arthur–and hopefully they can return home with their skins. Oh, there’s also a flying fairy-like girl in the story named Foo, which you could consider his second companion.”

I finished it a while ago, and it turned out to be one of the greatest sci-fi novels I’ve read since War of the Worlds. So with all this smashed together, it’s not a big mystery why I should give this my Sci-Fi Book of the Year honor.

Now, Dan Gutman’s always had a special place in the book section of my heart. From his Million DollarWeird School, and Homework Machine sagas to some of his standalones like Getting Air and Get Rich Quick Club, he’s always nourished his abilities with humor to fuel his prose. But this–I think he was still experimenting his writing skills with this one. I’m not saying that to insult the book, this is actually his second sci-fi book (after They Came from Centerfield, which is actually Gutman’s fiction debut) and arguably his most creative and unique one yet. It basically revolves around a boy named Lucas “Yip” Turner, named after George Lucas and nicknamed after Yip Harburg (responsible for the music from Wizard of Oz). Yip’s family is engulfed in film special effects–his father is a modern VFX expert while his grandpa is a more old-school junkie in horror film effects. One day, Mr. Turner introduces brand-new software that can create virtual actors to take the places of stunt doubles (known as “vactors”), so Yip and his sister create a vactor of their own. This vactor goes by the name of “Victor” (get it?), and he is pretty much intellectually, physically, mentally, and emotionally perfect. To sum all this up, Victor fulfills the book’s title of being “virtually perfect”. However, Yip makes a deal with Vic–if Yip could let Vic break the barriers of cyberspace and enter the real world, Vic could let Yip break the barriers of the real world and enter cyberspace. However, Yip realizes that the software–and Vic–have bugs, and soon Vic turns against his owner. Which is actually one of the most humdrum plots I’ve seen this year.

This is basically the exact same plot as the DCOM Pixel Perfect (see the similarities already?), except it’s put in a book. “Unfortunately, there were lots of bumps in the book, from prose to premises. And not even its endless consumerism mentioning can stop VIRTUALLY PERFECT from several death-defying imperfections.” That was my Google Books review, by the way. And I think you can tell that this is our Sci-Fi Flop of the Year already.

Historical Fiction Book of the Year. Nuff said.

Take the Boxcar Children‘s humor and character and smash it together with X-Men‘s heroism and action, and and what do you get? Booklist‘s formula for the kickoff to James Patterson’s Maximum Ride, The Angel Experiment. If you paid attention during my Middle School, Worst  Years of My Life review a few Fridays ago, you would know that James Patterson writes much more fantastical series. Witch & Wizard focuses mostly on fantasy, while Maximum Ride is Patterson’s taste of science fiction. Anyway, the book revolves around the flock. Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel to be exact. Anyway, these six kids all share an amazing yet at the same time dark secret–as babies they were the test subjects of genetic experimentation, and because of that they became 98% human and 2% bird/avian! And with that 2% avian came their own pair of wings which actually allow them to fly! Unfortunately, the novel doesn’t spend the entire 400 pages with these kids frolicking and partaking in aerial mischief–they’re actually the prey of a fierce manhunt formed by the Erasers, a wolflike species which loves eating up winged kids like the flock for dinner. In fact, the Erasers had abducted the former youngest flock member, Ari, and turned him against his own relatives! The actual plot of the book mainly consists of the Eraser-flock battle, from the Erasers kidnapping Angel to a final subway fight with Ari to serve as the finale of the novel. And in case you didn’t know, that’s what makes the novel so exciting to read and picture [using Dav Pilkey's imagination theory]. Here’s what I had to say about the book in my Google Books review:

“James Patterson proves that his history of action and mystery writing from the 1990s is still intact with this engrossing read. THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT impeccably mixes Patterson’s trademark charm, humor, and action to make for one of the best sci-fi adventures in the past decade. Definitely a recommendation for people who love unique science fiction or don’t like science fiction at all, and for those who are skeptical about the series they can start off with the manga books.”

You don’t even have to read the book for the first hundred pages to see why it’s my Book of the Year.

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We’ve been through movies, we’ve been through TV, we’ve even been through the Sandy Hook sho–oh, what’s that? You want me to talk about video games now? If you say so! Here’s a highlight retrospective of what’s been happening through the fourth and final quarter of the gaming season!

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One of the most anticipated games of the year, Assassin’s Creed III, became Ubisoft’s biggest launching success yet. Its pre-order numbers alone drove both Brotherhood and Revelations‘ ratings into the ground, becoming the company’s most pre-ordered game ever. In its opening week the game topped the UK charts as the bestselling game of the week, boasting the best sales the series has ever seen to date. In fact, AC3 was actually the UK’s second biggest launch of the year only behind FIFA 13, doubling the launching week sales of AC2 and beating Revelations by over 100,000 copies! 3.5 million copies of the game were sold in the game’s first week of release! At the night of this year’s Spike VGAs, it received six award nominations: Game of the Year, Best Xbox 360 Game, Best PS3 Game, Best Action-Adventure Game, Best Graphics, and Character of the Year for Connor Kenway. It also was the centerpiece of plenty of critical acclaim from some of the biggest reviewers out there:

“A resonant story, compelling exploration, and tense oceanic battles make Assassin’s Creed III a rousing success” – GameSpot

“…delivers everything the series has promised, and throws in a little more for good measure” – Game Informer magazine

“…newly refined gameplay and incredibly rich setting are captivating stuff…” – Official Xbox Magazine

“…an impressive adventure that succeeds in most of what it attempts.” – IGN

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Of course, one of the year’s biggest anticipations finally unraveled itself last month, as Nintendo’s entry into the eighth generation of gaming and the first 8th-gen console to date. It already has the pride of its big brothers, the Wii, SNES, and NES, and I believe that it builds much more upon that. It indeed was the Wii U, formerly codenamed as “Project Café”, that I’m talking about. Just a few weeks ago this console finally hit the primetime, boasting jaw-dropping prices of over $300. Surprisingly, the console has already sold over 400,000 units as of December 1! I don’t know whether it’s the console’s backward compatibility with the Wii, or its new services like the Nintendo Network, or even the console-controller design that makes the Wii U so popular. In fact, maybe it’s merely just the games it has to offer! In fact, the Wii U showed both its upsides and downsides with select games that it had on its launch list, and I’m just about to tell you what those games were…

  • New Super Mario Bros. U, the first Mario game for the Wii U or in HD, was  arguably the console’s biggest hit. It was the center of lots of critical acclaim, getting compliments like it being “a great excuse for families to gather round the TV”, “an enticing glimpse of Mario’s HD future”, and that it was “an impressive step in the right direction.” To add to that, it even got luck at this year’s Spike VGAs when it was awarded with the Best Wii/Wii U Game award! And who else to accept the award like the big boss of Nintendo himself, Shigeru Miyamoto? Currently, the game has sold more than 200,000 units with an attachment rate of approximately 60%.
  • On the other hand, the console’s pioneering survival horror ZombiU didn’t do as good. And I could easily tell why–its London zombie apocalypse premise seemed pretty generic and cheesy to me. And to believe this game was supposed to bring back honor and homage to Zombi, Ubisoft’s first-ever game for consoles like the Commodore 64. The game only proceeded to get a mixed share of reviews overall. Reviewers like Eurogamer praised the game for displaying “the success or otherwise of ZombiU could be defining for the Wii U”. Reviewers like Game Informer and IGN strongly criticized the game for having “a clunky control scheme and annoying melee combat” as well as being “sloppy and poorly executed”. Now, if I were to be the tiebreaker of this skirmish, I’d say that the game isn’t an Operation Raccoon City kind of game, nor is it a Left 4 Dead or Walking Dead kind of game.
  • The Wii U’s pack-in game, Nintendo Land, managed to be a hit with most of the game critics out there. Nintendo Land, intended to create a carnival or theme park atmosphere, consisted of twelve minigames/”attractions” that each had roots of an old Nintendo game. Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion, and Pikmin were just some of the games that were rooted into the attractions. The game was created mainly to display the quality and functionality of the Wii U and its GamePad, just like how Wii Sports displayed the abilities of the Wii. And look where that game is now–it’s the most bestselling game in history! Now, since Nintendo Land likely couldn’t achieve a prestigious honor like that, it got its run to glory started with plenty of positive reviews. GameSpot gave the game an 8/10 score and said the game had “plenty of family-friendly fun and [made] great use of the Wii U’s capabilities.” IGN was even more positive about the game, giving it an 8.7/10 score–making the game an Editor’s Choice pick–calling the title “the cream of the mini-game crop” and praising its variety and content. GamesMaster gave the game 86% and said it was “an essential purchase for party lovers that whets the Nintendo appetite.” To me, it looks like Wii Sports has met its match. No, seriously, that’s straight from IGN.
  • The Wii U’s first primetime enhanced game, Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition, made the game look even better than it already is. It’s already won many prestigious titles, awards, honors, and accolades–in fact, so many that it had to release a Game of the Year edition! So how else to praise a good game by enhancing it exclusively on one console to make it even better? And that’s what Armored Edition‘s sole purpose was to do. One of GameSpot’s editors, Carolyn Petit, praised the game from its atmospheric open world to its amazing senses of combat, but only had two problems with the game–BAT mode, as well as the Wii U-specific settings and properties that put “a few chinks in the Caped Crusader’s costume”. IGN, once again, praised the game for the same fields that GameSpot did, and also criticized the game in the same fields that GameSpot did, but this time the game got off the hook with a 9.5/10 score! In fact, Armored Edition is one of the most praised Wii U games out there right now, so it’s definitely worth a glance or two.

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This month, Spike hosted its 10th-anniversary Video Game Awards. They got so in the mood that they actually renamed the award show VGA 10 for any purpose involving the anniversary. For his fourth time yet Samuel L. Jackson returned as the show’s host, the show had a first for presenting awards via Xbox Live, and also users could “play” the show while it aired. Audience members and users with Xbox Smartglass got an incomparable 2nd-screen experience that had real-time updates along with the show. And to add to that, Entertainment Weekly and the Spike VGAs banded together to make the show’s first “Entertainment Weekly and Spike VGA Best Game of the Decade” award. That is, in case you’re curious, a very prestigious honor. Many games that won’t be hitting retail until 2013 were debuted at the show in their exclusive world premieres, including South Park: The Stick of Truth, BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, and Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington (the game’s first DLC pack). Wolfgang Gartner, Tenacious D, Linkin Park, and the Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla. For those who want the results of the show and couldn’t see them live, here they are now:

Game of the Year Nominees:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Dishonored
  • Journey
  • Mass Effect 3
  • The Walking Dead

Game of the Year Winner: The Walking Dead

Studio of the Year Nominees:

  • 343 Industries for Halo 4
  • Arkane Studios for Dishonored
  • Gearbox Software for Borderlands 2
  • Telltale Games for The Walking Dead

Studio of the Year Winner: Telltale Games

Character of the Year Nominees:

  • Connor Kenway for Assassin’s Creed III
  • Commander Shepard for Mass Effect 3
  • Master Chief for Halo 4
  • Raul Menendez for Call of Duty: Black Ops II
  • Claptrap for Borderlands 2

Character of the Year Winner: Claptrap

Entertainment Weekly and Spike VGA Best Game of the Decade Nominees:

  • Batman: Arkham City
  • BioShock
  • Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Portal
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • Half-Life 2
  • Wii Sports
  • World of Warcraft

Best Game of the Decade Winner: Half-Life 2

Best Xbox 360 Game Nominees:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Borderlands 2
  • Dishonored
  • Halo 4

Best Xbox 360 Game Winner: Halo 4

Best PS3 Game Nominees:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Journey
  • Borderlands 2
  • Dishonored

Best PS3 Game Winner; Journey

Best Wii/Wii U Game Nominees:

  • The Last Story (Wii)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
  • New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
  • ZombiU (Wii U)

Best Wii/Wii U Game Winner: New Super Mario Bros. U(by a landslide, I believe neutral)

Best PC Game Nominees:

  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Diablo III
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Torchlight II

Best PC Game Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Best Shooter Nominees:

  • Borderlands 2
  • Max Payne 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II
  • Halo 4

Best Shooter Winner: Borderlands 2

Best Action-Adventure Game Nominees:

  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Darksiders II
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Dishonored

Best Action-Adventure Game Winner: Dishonored

Best RPG Nominees:

  • Diablo III
  • Torchlight II
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Xenoblade Chronicles

Best RPG Winner: Mass Effect 3

Best Multiplayer Game Nominees:

  • Borderlands 2
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Halo 4
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Best Multiplayer Game Winner: Borderlands 2

Best Individual Sports Game Nominees:

  • Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13
  • WWE ’13
  • SSX

Best Individual Sports Game Winner: SSX

Best Team Sports Game Nominees:

  • Madden NFL 13
  • NHL 13
  • NBA 2K13
  • FIFA 13

Best Team Sports Game Winner: NBA 2K13

Best Driving Game Nominees:

  • DiRT: Showdown
  • F1 2012
  • Forza Horizon
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Best Driving Game Winner: Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Best Song in a Game Nominees:

  • “Castle of Glass” by Linkin Park for Medal of Honor: Warfighter
  • “I Didn’t Ask for This” by Austin Wintory for Journey
  • “Tears” by Health for Max Payne 3
  • “Cities” by Beck for Sound Shapes

Best Song in a Game Winner: “Cities” by Beck

Best Original Score Nominees:

  • Journey by Austin Wintory
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II by Jack Wall
  • Halo 4 by Neil Davidge
  • Max Payne 3 by Health

Best Original Score Winner: Journey by Austin Wintory

Best Graphics Nominees:

  • Halo 4
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Dishonored
  • Journey

Best Graphics Winner: Halo 4

Best Indie Game Nominees:

  • Fez
  • Journey
  • Mark of the Ninja
  • Dust: An Elysian Trail

Best Indie Game Winner: Journey

Best Fighting Game Nominees:

  • Dead or Alive 5
  • Persona 4 Arena
  • Street Fighter X Tekken
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Best Fighting Game Winner: Persona 4 Arena

Best Handheld/Mobile Game Nominees:

  • Gravity Rush (handheld)
  • Sound Shapes (handheld)
  • LittleBigPlanet PS Vita (handheld)
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2 (handheld)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game Winner: Sound Shapes

Best Performance by a Human Female Nominees:

  • Jen Taylor as Cortana in Halo 4
  • Emma Stone as Amanda Cartwright for Sleeping Dogs
  • Jennifer Hale as Commander Shepard (female) for Mass Effect 3
  • Melissa Hutchison as Clementine for The Walking Dead

Best Performance by a Human Female Winner: Melissa Hutchison as Clementine

Best Performance by a Human Male Nominees:

  • Dameon Clarke as Handsome Jack for Borderlands 2
  • Dave Fennoy as Lee for The Walking Dead
  • James McCaffrey as Max Payne for Max Payne 3
  • Nolan North as Captain Martin Walker for Spec Ops: The Line

Best Performance by a Human Male Winner: Dameon Clarke as Handsome Jack

Best Adapted Video Game Nominees:

  • The Walking Dead
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2
  • Lego Batman 2
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Best Adapted Video Game Winner: The Walking Dead

Best DLC Nominees:

  • Mass Effect 3: Leviathan
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard
  • Portal 2 – Perpetual Testing Initiative
  • Borderlands 2: Mechromancer Pack

Best DLC Winner: Skyrim – Dawnguard

Best Downloadable Game Nominees:

  • Fez
  • The Walking Dead
  • Journey
  • Sound Shapes

Best Downloadable Game Winner: The Walking Dead

Best Social Game Nominees:

  • Draw Something
  • You Don’t Know Jack
  • SimCity Social
  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance

Best Social Game Winner: You Don’t Know Jack

Most Anticipated Game Nominees:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Tomb Raider
  • BioShock Infinite
  • The Last of Us
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth

Most Anticipated Game Winner: Grand Theft Auto V

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Pretty cool, huh? Unfortunately, this time of year isn’t all for fun and yuletide cheer. I think I’ve made it quite clear on both my blogs that I was a fan of two magazines. One was Game Informer. The other introduced me to reading game magazines themselves (the first actual mag I read was Nick Mag) and did it in such a unique and creative way. Sure, it was centric around just one company, but still. And, of course, that magazine was Nintendo Power. Since summer 1988 it’s been the one, only, and official Nintendo magazine for all Nintendo diehards’ gaming needs. Unfortunately, this August Nintendo revealed heartbreaking news–since they couldn’t renew their licensing agreement with Future Publishing, the magazine would not be making it to 2013.

Oh, come on Peach, don’t be sad. There are plenty of other Nintendo magazines out there!…I think. But then again, this is pretty much the only Nintendo magazine worth caring about. I can’t believe that this mag has to celebrate its 25th anniversary releasing its final issue! Most game series’ 25th anniversaries are times of celebration, but–sorry, I got a bit emotional there. Let’s not waste time trying to force me to give the saddest yuletide speech and let’s take a look at NP‘s final issue’s cover, and how it so gracefully reflects that of the first:

issue

Let’s all “get the power, Nintendo Power” one last time as this great big ship sails into the sunset…or at least, that’s how the magazine described it. :cry:

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Now, in the same fashion as last year, let’s get more into the “new year” spirit by introducing something that I’ve never really done before–our Channels of the Year. Not just videos of the week, but in my opinion are the channels that have brought the biggest and best stuff to their home pages for the entire year of 2012. And in addition to that, this might get you anticipated for those of 2013! Now, without further ado, here are the best channels of 2012!

You probably should’ve seen this coming, but indeed Tobuscus ranks among the best channels I’ve seen this year. As the fifteenth highest-subscribed YouTube channel of all time, Tobuscus just keeps getting better and better every year, even if it’s his vlogs we’re talking about! Toby already made a smash at VidCon 2012 (the audience actually sang “Dramatic Song” with him! :D) and got a smash for real in his infamous iPhone 5 breaking. His Minecraft song “I Can Swing My Sword!”, after two thirds of the year, became Toby’s second most-viewed video in history with over 20 million hits! (His literal Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood trailer still leads by five million hits.) Not even that, but I also got in touch with Toby more personally at his official Google+! I know for a fact that under all those pictures he takes of him and his fans, he will always be a humble YouTuber. After all, he does have over 500 million video views. So let’s give him the Veteran of the Year Award.

This is definitely one of the newer channels that I’ve been attracted to: Jacksfilms. Much like Toby, his highest video is at over 20 million hits, but he definitely doesn’t have as much subscribers. In fact, he’s only the 378th highest-subscribed channel. That makes me believes that Jacksfilms definitely wins the Underdog of the Year Award in my book. Jack Douglass, the man behind Jacksfilms, does lots of things from his notorious Your Grammar Sucks series to lots of multi million viewed sketch compilations and parodies. He is one third of the “Sideburns Crew” alongside Toby and fellow YouTuber Sean Klitzner, who collaborate in a number of videos. The most-viewed video involving one of these collabs was “TOBJACKSCUS” which got just over 1 million hits since its launch in May 2011. Some of Jack’s parodies also consist of him merely voicing over other commercials like the ShamWow and Snuggie commercials–ironically and coincidentally, these parodies are his top 2 most viewed videos of all time. Sure, Jack doesn’t impress me with every video he releases, but with the videos he does release with impression comes lots of interest. And it’s pretty cool if you’re friends with almost 20,000 people on YouTube.

The fan art Pewdie.
The real Pewdie.

This is probably one of the most famous YouTube channels out there, let alone within the top-10 most subscribed range, and one of those rare channels that manage to bring something great to the table every single dinner. That was a metaphorical statement, but you know what I mean. Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known by his YouTube alias PewDiePie or Pewdie, is a 23-year old YouTuber from Sweden who partakes in playing various video games and uploading his reactions to the web for all to see. Some of these games include Cry of Fear, Happy Wheels, PaRappa the Rapper, Shadow of the Colossus, Just Dance, and–easily his most famous one–Amnesia: The Dark Descent. He is the tenth-most subscribed YouTuber of all time, with over 3 million subscribers for his channel, making his channel one of the few fastest-growing ones on YouTube itself. Because of this, Felix definitely deserves a Man of the House Award. He also calls his subscribers “bros” or “the bro army”, which is accentuated by his tendency to perform a viewer-interactive “brofist” at the end of each video. I mainly take pleasure in watching most of the gaming montages he makes, as well as his Happy Wheels and Amnesia videos as standalones. I love PewDiePie so much because he portrays a very humorous but down-to-earth character that is fueled by curiosity and exaggerated human emotions like fear or sorrow. His real-life persona compared to the kind of persona that he portrays in fan art is very intriguing to witness. Speaking of character, sometimes in the games he plays he gives names and life to certain inanimate objects, and here are some of them:

  • Stephano - Arguably Felix’s primary companion while playing Amnesia. Stephano is a golden statue that Felix has speak in a French accent, and he also carries lots of leadership in his attitude and occasionally yells at Felix for being scared or not noticing a blindsighted clue. Stephano was apparently “born” and his birthday is on August 17, 2011, but I can likely infer that day was the first day he starred in a PewDiePie video. Felix usually sets Stephano down every now and then, but then promptly comes back to get him again. Some of Stephano’s trademark phrases are “Allos Pewdie!”, “You found meh!”, “This way, Pewdes”, or “Follow me, Pewd.” He can also hoarsely whisper whenever he is dropped by surprise or when Felix gets startled.
  • Gonzalez - The evil twin of Stephano, except he is bronze instead of gold which makes him easy to differentiate from Stephano. He often tries to trick Felix into believing he is Stephano, gives him good counsel, and is possibly related to Gonzales from the game Facade (another PewDiePie-played title).
  • Piggeh - Likely Felix’s secondary companion in Amnesia, Piggeh is a dead pig that has a birthday two days after Stephano’s, which somehow makes him older than Piggeh. Piggeh’s usual catchphrase is “I’m pumped!” and his humor is very creepy and satirical with a very wide topic range. He has very fluid movement whenever he is carried by Felix, and often says “You thought I’m a pig? No, I’m a snake.” because of this.
  • Jennifer - A rock that Felix sometimes comes across in Amnesia, and is often criticized for her weight due to being large when discovered. Jennifer actually loves Felix but is almost always rejected by him when he says “You’re too fat, Jennifer” or “I know, you’ve told me 1,000 times already”. Jennifer is one of PewDiePie fangirls’ most sympathized characters as her striving to finally win Felix’s heart seems to be very realistic–for a rock. Currently she does not appear in many videos except when Felix gets a rock thrown at him or is being chased by a rock.
  • Barrels - In Amnesia, barrels are Felix’s mortal enemy. When encountering a barrel or a number of barrels, he usually shouts “Barrels!!!” and proceeds to throw them around. Sometimes he yells at barrels in Swedish (most notably in Cry of Fear) and often comments about its look or what it says on it. One of Felix’s lesser-used companions, Mayo, actually works for the said barrels and Gonzalez often foreshadows that he is in league with the barrels.
  • Vespa - Also known as the Segway in Happy Wheels. When playing as the “Segway Guy” character in the game, he will usually refer to the Segway or any used vehicle as “Vespa”. Through Felix, Segway Guy seems to have emotional attachments or attractions to Vespa sometimes wanting to kiss it or cuddle with it. When he plays as the “Moped Couple” characters the moped is also considered “Vespa”.
  • Farsa/Farsha - What reads of all train destinations in Cry of Fear, and is mainly the moniker he gives to the in-game train(s). Farsa barely shows up but unfortunately committed suicide near the game’s end by driving off a cliff.

Sure, they’re only the 135th most subscribed channel of all time, but they’ve been among the prime YouTube channels to successfully make the Internet-to-TV transition that so many channels have failed to make properly. They are the comedy, filmmaking, music, and advertising duo of Rhett J. McLaughlin and Charles L. “Link” Neal, better known by their combined YouTube alias RhettAndLink. Ever since 2006, a year after YouTube was first born, these two have been working their butts off to make videos for our amusement and pleasure. But they’ve actually been pals since the first grade. On the first day of school in the said grade, the pair were forced to stay inside during recess as a punishment from writing bad words on the desks. When they were assigned to silently color pictures of unicorns, their companionship really sparked. They wrote their first screenplay, Gutless Wonders, at age 14. Coincidentally, they were Wolfpack roomies at the NCSU, where they studied engineering. Some filmmaking lessons and low-budget DIY productions later, they became Rhett and Link itself. But in the first year Rhett and Link became YouTubers (or, as they call themselves, “Internetainers”) they never got a single multi-million hit video. The highest they ever got was 100,000 with their song about velcro. The next year, however, their drive-thru rap video became their first video to exceed a million hits with 3.2 million views. Through 2007 lots of ups and downs went through the channel, with their BBQ song becoming their next multi-million hit and then their “worst commercial ever” becoming the next. You can clearly see that Rhett and Link have not always had it as easy as other more famous YouTubers like Nigahiga or Smosh. But today, they’ve gotten much more innovation, effort, and creativity woven into their videos, their success had led to a clothing line that accompanies their videos, and they have been sponsored by and working with a lot more YouTubers like Orabrush, Tobuscus, MysteryGuitarMan, etc. Because of all this, they definitely deserve an Innovation Constipation of the Year Award and a Diamond Award for being so unique. Some of their most famous videos include:

  • 2 Guys 600 Pillows” or “My Favorite Pillow” – Write a heartwarming song about one’s long-lived affection and feelings for one another. Take six hundred pillows, do crazy things with them, put in lots of backwards video editing and lots of backwards speaking, and even throw in a sponsor from SleepBetter.org, and you have Rhett and Link’s 2011 Webby Award-winning hit of 2010. To add to that, Rhett and Link were nice enough to throw in a bonus video highlighting most of the original video’s secrets as well as throwing in some extra goodies as well.
  • Epic Rap Battle” – The same year “2 Guys 600 Pillows” came out, the pair had also made a rap song made trying to get a restaurant waitress’ attention and affection. Like most of the channel’s songs, the rap contained lots of bizarre things about Rhett and Link that wouldn’t really occur in real life. Here are some examples right here. On the way to work, Rhett carpools a group of third graders and teaches them multiplication tables. Link can apparently speak sentences like “The square root of raspberry should be legalized” in Morse code. Rhett has his own yoga meditation DVD called Mind Reps. Link successfully performed the Heimlich on a horse choking on beef jerky, and it eventually went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Well, you see what I’m trying to say here? And coincidentally, back in September the two released what seems to be a sequel to the video, now centric to their masculinity and manliness, which was entitled “Epic Rap Battle of Manliness“. (And for those of you who are curious and/or skeptical, Rhett and Link were indeed in an Epic Rap Battle of History in case you mistook this one for it. They played the Wright brothers going up against the Mario brothers.)
  • 5-Word Songs” – Occasionally, the two might run out of song ideas and ask their fans what they think they should make a song out of. But here’s the rule–it can not be any more or any less than five words long. Currently there are two ideas that have been found and successfully made into songs: “rub some bacon on it”, and “Nilla Wafer top hat time”. Combined the two have over 3.1 million hits.
  • Good Mythical Morning” – Well, I have two things to say about this that differentiate it from the rest of their videos. 1. This is actually on Rhett and Link’s second channel, RhettAndLink2. And 2. This is not one video, it’s actually an entire show. As the title suggests, Good Mythical Morning (often abbreviated as GMM) is a show that runs every morning on every weekday, from Monday to Friday. Some of the topics discussed on the show include the greatest movie quotes of all time, the strangest name a human can receive, stuff you didn’t know about The Avengers, tips on bear attack and quicksand survival, what makes fire ants special, and if Furbies can really learn anything. It is one of Rhett and Link’s most famous series and their only regularly-airing show to date.
  • Dope Zebra” – What do you do if you take a zebra costume, put two people inside that know how to dance, and make that zebra do the most dope moves around? That’s pretty much the story behind Dope Zebra. Since its release a while ago it has 5.1 million hits, making for one of the channel’s biggest hits. But in a full background story on the video and its conception on an episode of Good Mythical Morning, it was told that the Dope Zebra had arguably become the two’s most famous video character yet. Not only did it get both Dope Zebra and Rhett & Link in the music video for LMFAO’s “Sorry for Party Rocking”, they also appeared on America’s Got Talent! Needless to say, the threesome were buzzed with the dreaded triple X before the Dope Zebra could even lift his hind legs off the ground, but luckily Rhett and Link did not expect to pass to the Vegas round, nor did they actually want to. How modest of them.

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Now let’s accentuate our new year celebration by nutshelling all the games you might want to check out!

  • After the first leg of Rayman’s rebirth plan (Rayman Origins) became a success, our limbless lad can continue his new console experimentation with the upcoming Wii U-exclusive Rayman Legends
  • After Lara Croft, one of gaming’s most famous heroines, disappeared from the limelight following 2010′s Guardian of Light, the Crystal Dynamics-Square Enix team reunites once more to bring us Lara’s first series reboot, Tomb Raider
  • After stellar success with the Sims 3 saga, Maxis has finally decided to revive the true genesis of the Sim world in the PC & Mac exclusive SimCity
  • One of the most popular FPS series in history, BioShock, gets a complete makeover from characters to setting in the 20th century-era BioShock Infinite
  • Isaac Clarke’s necromorph-filled bad day continues into a new installment, but now Sgt. John Carver gets to share the pain with him to stop the scourge permanently in Dead Space 3
  • In the city of Los Santos within San Andreas, three equally troubled men’s stories will intertwine in the pursuit of the “almighty dollar” in Grand Theft Auto V
  • Kratos still hasn’t made ends meet for Ares, the god of war, and now he’s on an ancient-Greek quest to defeat the Fury threesome to sever all ties in God of War: Ascension
  • Picking up where the first installment left off, the Palanai island in the Banoi archipelago has become the source of a zombie outbreak, and now after an unsuccessful escape our four survivors must relive their undead nightmare in Dead Island: Riptide
  • 20 years after millions within the human population have ceased from a cordyceps-type fungus, a black-marketeer named Joel and a young girl named Ellie make a dangerous and Infected-filled trek across post-apocalyptic America in The Last of Us
  • Epic Games reveals their newest in the Unreal Engine series, Unreal Engine 4, in an open world survival-of-the-fittest monster adventure known as Fortnite
  • Nintendo’s famous rural village full of personified animals has taken the big jump to the 3DS, and while Japan has already gotten their share us Americans and Europeans will have to wait a bit longer for Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  • Marvel’s ever-so-famous “merc with a mouth” is smashing through the 4th wall from Marvel vs. Capcom and into his own game known merely as Deadpool
  • After Skyrim and its DLC Dawnguard changed the perspective of the RPG genre forever, Bethesda plans to make the breakthrough accessible for PCs and Macs everywhere in Elder Scrolls Online
  • Luigi made a smash hit on the GameCube as the fourth Ghostbuster, and now he’s been sent on another spine-tingling mission from Professor Gadd to punish all the spirit scamps out there in the newly-named Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
  • After Mortal Kombat and the DC Universe collided in the greatly disappointing Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, NetherRealm and Warner Bros have teamed up once more in the 100% superhero-centric Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • One of TV’s most raunchy and beloved shows takes LARPing to an all-time extreme for not just consoles, not just computers, but clouds as well in the hopeful and hilarious RPG, South Park: The Stick of Truth

(Now let’s talk about movies…well, it won’t be much of a time saver to explain every single movie, let’s just nutshell a few that’ll be coming in 2013.)

  • The director of the original Spider-Man trilogy brings us a story about the Land of Oz older than the groundbreaking 1939 film or even the 1900 book, portraying James Franco as the new Wizard of Oz in Oz: The Great and Powerful
  • The director of Space Chimps teams up with the co-director of How To Train Your Dragon to create a story about a family of cavemen and cavewomen as a disaster leads to them journeying to find new shelter in The Croods
  • After the weight of An Unexpected Journey was finally lifted off Peter Jackson’s shoulders, he only had to enhance the LOTR world in preparation for the second installment in the Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug
  • One of Disney-Pixar’s most notorious films, Monsters, Inc, gets its well-deserved backdrop explaining everything from their first meet in college (even monsters have to go to school) to putting their bitter rivalry behind them in the prequel Monsters University
  • Gru, the three orphans, and his ever-so-lovable minions will be returning through a storyline that will seemingly be incorporating aliens into the plot lines in Despicable Me 2
  • The second “true blue” film of the trilogy chronicles Gargamel as he creates evil Smurf-like creatures called Naughties, and furthermore kidnaps Smurfette and takes her to Paris where he will use the Eiffel tower as an energy-generating antenna powered by Smurf essence, so the remaining gang must travel back to the human world and regain help from Pat and Grace in The Smurfs 2
  • Having shaken off the food storm that almost ate the world, Flint and friends are forced to flee from town where Flint accepts an offer from his idol Chester V to join the Live Corp Company in cleaning up the island, but he realizes that his FLDSMDFR is still alive and is now creating mutated food beasts in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2(formerly subtitled Revenge of the Leftovers)…
  • After starring in one of Martin Scorsese’s most successful movies, Hugo, Asa Butterfield has decided to reload and star in another film from the director of X-Men Origins: Wolverine which takes on yet another classic book but of way bigger proportions, Ender’s Game
  • When Anna is cursed by her sister, the Snow Queen Elsa, she must reverse the curse by surviving a trek across an icy landscape, but luckily she is joined by outdoorsman Kristoff as well as his one-antlered reindeer and a snowman, which may give her hope to finally melt Elsa’s heart in Frozen
  • After Katniss and Peeta manage to survive the 74th annual Hunger Games, they try to forget their time in the battlefield but are only reminded by it when rebellion is simmering across the districts, and while she and Peeta embark on the Victors Tour of all twelve districts President Snow is only crafting a 75th Hunger Games will be a much bigger and bolder affair in Catching Fire

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Surprisingly, Austin & Ally and Jessie even had their own plans set out for the new year! Actually, they did their first collab over it! And that created the one-hour crossover special “Austin & Jessie & Ally All-Star New Year’s Eve“/”Big Dreams and Big Apples“! I can’t believe they actually went through all the trouble to make this special, so say kudos to them as I explain the crossover’s plot:

To wrap up 2012 with a bang, Austin has got himself a gig in Times Square to play on New Year’s Eve in front of billions of people! Unfortunately, Sheri, Trish’s phone AI–think of “her” as a less-intelligent Siri–has mixed up Times Square with Tim’s Square Pizza! (But hey, it’s the best square pizza in Miami.) Luckily, the dilemma is erased when Sheri manages to book Austin, Ally, Trish, and Dez for the next flight to Times Square! Unfortunately, Sheri mixes the 1:00 pm flight with the 1:00 am flight, and now they’re really stuck. On the other side of the east coast, Emma is ecstatic to find out that Austin will be playing in Times Square, as she is an eccentric fangirl, and begs Jessie to take her. Despite initial rejection, she eventually gets convinced when she realizes that Ryan Seacrest would be there. (Ugh, media these days.) Austin, Ally, Trish, and Dez manage to get a taxi there, but cannot afford the ride and must hoof it to the Square. When they get there, they realize that full capacity has been reached and no other person can be let in, but Jessie uses her riches to hitch a helicopter to ride them. Unfortunately, Bertram has allowed Luke and Ravi to attend the concert as well, and worse yet they’ve abandoned Zuri! And I think you may already know by now that Zuri loves shiny things, and–well–the Times Square ball is pretty shiny…(and that’s only part one…)

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I think that’s a pretty good way to wrap up the year, so I’m Sammwak saying “ho ho ho” right before you go. :D

See you in 2013, America,

~S~ 8-)

And here’s for our super-special honor-filled and totally clean Videos of the Year! (Luckily, I managed to narrow down my choices so I didn’t have a list that went on for infinity. Enjoy! :D)

(Believe it or not, “TNT” is actually the fourth most-viewed gaming video of all time according to the YouTube charts. As the top three above it are all Angry Birds-related/themed, consider this the most bestselling gaming video of all time that isn’t Angry Birds-related. Shockingly, “TNT” actually beat out the official Minecraft trailer itself!)

If you want a more general video, here’s one that takes the most viral videos and stars 2012′s YouTube season had to offer and conglomerates them all into one amazing “Gangnam Style”-themed medley song/video. Can you name all the YouTubers in this video? If you think you can, comment me in the section below and get a secret prize…



Hey guys it’s Sam, and I’ve got some darn important news today. News that could make or break my career of blogging, and your career of viewing my blogging. This could be the best news of your life, or the biggest upset in history. What’s going to follow from these news could be the epitome of blogging alone, or it could be one of the biggest lowlights in WordPress’s reputation. This–gosh, I’m terribly good at stalling, so I’m gonna give it to you straight. No curveballs, no fastballs, no sleazeballs, no nothin’. Well,(sigh), SAMMWAK IS GOING MOBILE! No, I haven’t made the official Sammwak app (yet), but I’ve made something equally crucial. My brand-new, officially 3rd blog. (Yeah, we’re putting that Third Power on hold.) It’s called 3GS: “like my own little social network”. What this means is I can still put up widgets (without widgets, you couldn’t check my stats, read the archives, or even subscribe) I can put up little “what’s on your mind” status updates, full posts, quotes, and links. Now, 3GS is open right now, and you can check it out by going to:

www.3gsam.wordpress.com

Once you get there–lemme warn you–it’ll look kinda ugly, but do expect a new coat of paint coming soon. Well, off I go, and off you go!

Stay classy,

~S~ 8-)

p.s. Now, a lot of you know, that today’s (sigh) September 11. The eleventh anniversary of one of the most tragic events that ever occurred to the USA–9/11, also known as September 11September 11th, and the September 11 attacks. The global Islamist military organization al-Qaeda (whom was 13 years old at the time BTW) landed a series of four equally devastating attacks in the NYC-D.C. area. Altogether nearly 3,000 citizens became 9/11 casualties (including the hijackers), and so were several buildings; the most notorious destruction of all was the permanent demolition of the Twin Towers (which also became a pivotal subject in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, but that’s not the point), as well as several other World Trade Centers surrounding it. There was also the partial destruction of the Pentagon, but that got patched up in a year’s time. Enough talk, let’s get down to business. The meaning of all this is, we shouldn’t be standing in the darkness of the past–we should be stepping into the light of the future. And you can’t hog all this light for yourself–ever heard the song “This Little Light of Mine”? What did they do with that light?–They let it shine. Shine down on those who survived the attacks or lost a loved one in the attacks, shine down on the citizenship out of the 9/11 target area who were willing enough to go through sticks, stones, and broken bones to help the 9/11 unfortunate. And Michael J. Fox, the Marty McFly of Back to the Future, was willing to pitch in. So can you. Now God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.



No, relax. It’s not 2012…yet. I’m just here to take a good break from my creation of my profit-pioneering parody Harry Daughter and the Half-Blood Unicorn, and celebrate yet another holiday of the year…the new year! Who knew that 365 days (or 366 in a leap year) could be the home of such legendary creations? Mortal Kombat finally came back early this year, two Assassin’s Creed adventures came out in one year (Brotherhood and Revelations), Ubisoft desperately tried to make another Experience title (The Black Eyed Peas Experience) after the crumbling of their Michael Jackson title, among other video game publications. But I’m here to talk turkey about 2012, not 2011! Well, we all know it’s been a truly great year. I’ve turned 10, we’ve reached 50,000 hits, Sammwak has celebrated its solid 1st birthday anniversary (now currently at 1 year and 8 months; what an old blog!), and lots more. And I hope that Sammwak will keep on doing its good deeds into the new year. Now let’s talk about our first topic: TV!

Finn and Jake look extra cozy in their swank sweaters. Is mine coming?

We all know the last time we saw the “dude and his dog” duo of Adventure Time: secretly watching Ice King’s tapes of embarrassments like video diaries, personifications of PB (Ice King) falling for the Ice King (Gunter), and Ice King’s terrible cover of Marceline’s “Fry Song”. This was just some of the bacon bits that made the long strip we know as the 2-part “Holly Jolly Secrets”. But what are Finn and Jake’s plans for 2012? Starting next month, Adventure Time is now moving from 8:00 pm on Mondays to 7:30 pm on Mondays! Why do I think that’s a bad decision? I usually eat dinner around 7:30! In the dining room! Thanks a bunch, Pendleton, my man; now I’ll be catching up to your adventures on demand.

And how is the cast of Ooo celebrating the new year? Well, all I have to say is…it’s MiXiT time! That’s right, not only is Ooo going to celebrate 2 days from now (New Year’s Eve) on 1:00 sharp, but I’m giving you an extra day to work on your new MiXiT creations extra hard, and with just enough luck, your creation might be shown during the marathon! How cool is that? Oh, and speaking of MiXiT, be sure to expect tons of titles coming your way, including (but not limited to) Gumball, The Looney Tunes Show, Scooby Doo Mystery Inc., Johnny Test, and—finally—Regular Show! The craze that is now known as MiXiT actually started 2 years ago, with titles like Chowder and Flapjack dominating the software. Man, did I miss out.

And speaking of which, remember how Disney Channel butchered (did I say butchered, I meant revamped) the holidays by turning them into “Fa-La-La-Lidays”, the exact same way they turned October into “Monstober”? Well they’re turning next month into “JaNEWary”. Apparently all the DC shows you can think of are churning out all new episodes, which I thought they’ve been doing all this time. Do you want to see Jessie (Jessie) realize how it’s like to be high above moving traffic? In the upcoming episode “Star Wars”, your wish becomes granted. Do you want to see Ravi (Jessie) finally become a coolio like Luke? In the episode “Are You Cooler Than A 5th Grader?”, your wish also comes true. Do you want to see Zendaya and Bella Thorne (Shake It Up‘s Rocky and CeCe) together in their first-ever DCOM? With the new movie Frenemies, you’re going to see plenty more.

This half-movie half-anthology is a threesome of stories. The first one, starring Zendaya and Bella, features the hardcore friendship of Avalon (Bella) and Halley (Zendaya), BFFs who are overjoyed when their Geekly Chic fashion blog is going to be turned into a magazine, but only one person can stay on board as senior editor, which means that only one person can live their dreams. This turns their frisky friendship into red-hot rivalry, and will these “Best Friends Forever” become “Best Friends For Never“? Well, I can’t give away too much, so let’s go onto the next story.

Science-whiz Jake is about to show his dog Murray to his project partner/crush Julianne (A.N.T. Farm‘s Stefanie Scott), but Julianne has something about her that Murray doesn’t enjoy—and the feeling is mutual.

The third and final story goes off to the tomboyish Savannah who comes from a nice and energetic family, and she then meets the uptown-styled Emma, who looks almost like a twin to her. Like a storyline off the bars of Garfield: A Tail of Two Kittens or Monte Carlo, the two switch lives and realize that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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Well, I’ve considered that I’ve talked enough about games, so let’s look at 3 games I always see on every top-1o list I look at.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dubbed as one of the best games of 2011, this game finally jumped into retailers’ hands around Thanksgiving, and Bethesda Softworks/Game Studios has never been the same since after the downfalls of Brink, and the already made success of Rage. Skyrim has been the head of the pack for things like an immense world, amazing dragon brawls, lovely art design, atmospheric touches, enjoyable battles, the list goes on. This adventure is obviously the fifth adventure of the Elder Scrolls pentalogy started in 1994 by Bethesda Softworks and Game Studios. Think of your usual Viking quest. Full of dragons, horned headgear, and lots more. Skyrim gives you that and more. Just ask the number of critical gaming sites that have given this game such high, near-perfect/perfect praise:

GameSpot – 9.0/10

1Up – A-

IGN – 9.5/10

GameStop – 9.6/10

Toys R Us (no lie) – 5 stars out of 5

Amazon – 4.6/5

Portal 2 - The original Portal was a test against speed, skill, and strategy, and that’s what made it such a hit in puzzle gaming. It spiked a countless amount of memes from “The cake is a lie” to “Still Alive”, so you’d think that the sequel to it would be even better. And that’s just what it was. Supporting clever writing, delightful puzzles, intriguing co-op situations, and hugely entertaining newcomers to the Portal roster, this may be the only puzzle game created in such science-fictional fields to be considered “hilarious.” “Uproarious.” “A hoot”, if you may. GLaDOs from the original Portal may have been outdone by the new robots in town: Atlas (the short one) and P-Body (the tall one). Just look at what the people across the interactive planet had to say:

GameSpot – 9.0/10

GameStop – 9.3/10

IGN – 9.5/10

Amazon – 4.7/5 stars

Toys R Us – 5 out of 5 stars

Batman: Arkham City - If you thought Arkham Asylum was all the Batman amazement you’d get in a year or two, think again. Arkham City has proved itself as one of the most dynamic games of 2011, getting acclaim and praise from everywhere you could think of (aka the interactive world). One of the highest rated of 2011 alone, this born legend was scripted out by pro comic book author Paul Dini, who also provided the scripts to Arkham Asylum, Freakazoid (Candlejack, anyo-), Krypto the Superdog, and lots more. Stealth and tactics are the two most vital thirds of the game, amongst the beat-em-up third of the game. Already out for the PC, the Xbox, the PS3, and even (coming soon) the Wii U, the game has already impressed critics worldwide and has never received a score that left the boundaries of 9.0 or higher. It also became one of the fastest-selling games with 4.6 units shipped in one week! Let’s do our own research, shall we?

GameSpot – 9.0/10

1Up – A

IGN – 9.5/10

Amazon – 4.4 stars out of 5

Toys R Us – 5 stars out of 5 (Is any game bad to them?)

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Did you know that sometime next year, also take notice and expect a Sonic 4: Episode 2 coming out? There’s gonna be a new playable sidekick (Tails, Sonic 2), a new enemy (Metal Sonic, Sonic CD), and a brand new adventure. If you’re not convinced enough, check out this pic and vid!

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What do you usually do on a New Year’s dawn?

Now, let us celebrate with a couple decent firework videos! If you want to fall asleep from beauteous light, watch these and you’ll be snoring in a jiffy. Or if you just want to see beautiful fireworks, your quest is over.

Well anyway, tell me what you’re planning for the New Year (your New Year’s resolution); I’m going back to my 2011 resolution and become a better person both to myself and others! What’s yours? Comment below, and leave a little New Year’s gift for me and subscribe, will ya? 10 subscribers. That’s all I need to be happy and fulfilled! TEN! Well, I gotta make like a hockey game and get the puck out of here! And apparently, everyone’s making use of that phrase “Haters gonna hate”. I know I’ll never use it!…

- Sam

p.s. The best New Year’s gift I could ever receive is 50,000 hits this year. So the only way to give thanks is to do it through song.



There comes that gracious time of year where the snow piles down, and the temperatures drop, but the Christmas cheer rises. Ah, Christmas. The only 2 sacred days of the year where you rely on Santa Claus to make your entire year complete. The only 2 days that you spend with your house decorated with Christmas lights, bake a dish of cookies and milk for Santa’s pleasure, and you anxiously come downstairs in the morning to find what presents await you. You could get the items you’ve been itching for all winter, or you could get a lump of charcoal if you’ve been bad. But hey, at least the coal can act as something to get your patties nice and grilled! Santa Claus has been part of Christmas lore for as long as I can remember, and I remember when artists used to go through all the trouble to record their holiday albums: Mariah Carey with Merry Christmas (1994), Big Time Rush with Holiday Bundle (2010), Aly & AJ with Acoustic Hearts of Winter (2006), and more. Even Nintendo Power is suiting up for the holidays with their “holiday special” magazine, as well as their December 2011 issue. Check out these super-swank covers!

And the news I should’ve told you at the start of the post: we are celebrating our “second” annual Sammwak holiday special! Last year, I was barely doing a good job of giving you the Christmas cheer. But now I’m going to make it a fun time that will be remembered for years if not centuries to come! I’m going to tell what movies are good for the holidays, guides on a great Christmas, and more! But first, we need to sing our first Christmas-friendly number. SpongeBob, Patrick, take it away!

first-christmas-clip.html

Now, anyway, I should probably tell you how to have a sweet Christmas party, Sammwak-fueled!

  • Book a date. As December moves, people get busier by the second, so it’s good to have a date ready.
  • Send out invitations in late November or early December. This way you can drain out how many people to expect, and remember that this is RSVP only.
  • Plan your eateries in advance. Are you gonna host a relaxed buffet, or a more sit-down meal? Scrawl down your ideas on the shopping list and stick to them. Prepare as much as possible the day before the party, and make things easy and simple—-the last thing you’d want to do is be slaving your own self in the kitchen while guests are having a good time. Some good recommendations to fulfill hungers are cookies, cookies, and more cookies.
  • Welcome guests upon arrival. Be sure to make your guests feel good, and greet them at the door. Take their coats and escort them to the party area. Make introductions if guests aren’t acquainted with one another and strike the conversation. Arrange drinks to hand out to your guests, and the real icebreaker comes for shy guests.
  • Play music. The perfect formula to setting moods fast. Be sure to cook up a few CDs beforehand, but play it at a sustainable volume, since people will want to chat.
  • Host games (optional decision). The most classic party games in the book, like charades, are perfect for Christmas parties. More sophisticated get-togethers can host adult games, but just in case, have plenty of writing utensils, papers, and balloons.
  • Have fun! Don’t feel uncomfortable at the party. Your guests will be looking at you to set the mood, you being the host/hostess. If you lead the way of a fun time, all will follow.
  • Give the kids something to enjoy! Especially if you have children at your party, let them have friends invited. Give the kids something to do that will keep them entertained for a sustainable duration, so keep them busy.

Are those some good party recommendations? Well, if those don’t work, let’s try these recommended holiday movies!

“…full of adventure and positive messages” – Common Sense Media, 4 stars out of 5

The Polar Express has to be the most classic holiday movie in the book. An amazing 2004 motion-captured film that even ended up in the Guinness World Records 2006 book for being the first “all-digital” motion-capture film, this book was actually an adaptation of the award-winning children’s book of the same name by Chris van Allsburg. It tells about a young boy residing in a city an elapsed hour away from ours, Grand Rapids, who hopes for the true spirit of Christmas. Upon a budget of $165 million, this young boy, one we know as Hero Boy, finds a mysterious and magical train called the Polar Express after he hears rumbling from his bedroom. The conductor convinces him to board the Express, considering that this year is the year, and so he indeed embarks on a snowy adventure to Santa’s own home in the North Pole which teaches that the wonders of life never fade for those who believe.

“Dark yet sweet underdog tale for older kids” – Common Sense Media, 4 stars out of 5

It may not seem like a holiday movie, but it was released in the December of 1990. And how could you not feel bad for a poor guy like Edward Scissorhands? Really portrayed by the film legend Johnny Depp, this movie revolves around an artificially created man named Edward who ends up using pairs of scissors as substitutes for hands after his inventor unfortunately got heart attacked before he could make him real hands. He is then taken in by a family of the suburbs and finds love with their teenage daughter Kim. But he finds neighbors’ interests when he shows his unnecessary mastery of hedge-trimming and hair-cutting. One of 20th Century Fox’s most heartwarming creations, this movie has been acclaimed for its new meaning to “beauty is only skin deep”, its darkly sweet portraying of adolescent angst, and humorous powers to soften the sharpest appendages…you know what I mean by that.

“Spectacular book adaptation is great for tweens and up” – Common Sense Media, 5 stars out of 5

There are lots of books famous enough to become movies that turn to the big screen instead of the print presses. These movies are known as “film adaptations.” These include Ramona and Beezus from last year, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010) as well as its sequel (2011), Charlotte’s Web from 1973 or 2007, and more. But the most anticipated film adaptation of the year had to go to an adapting of the first-ever novel to have more than half of its pages shrouded in picturing (even winning a picture book-usual Caldecott Medal in the process), The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It has now been adapted into the movie with the name that confused even me, Hugo. Since it was called just Hugo, instead of something like Hugo Cabret, I had no clue that this even had a relationship with the novel. When I did find out, I was…let’s just say a mix of ticked off and surprised. This movie goes back to 1931 at a Paris railway station, revolving around the namesake Hugo Cabret, whose mother has died and is sentenced to life with his clock-making master father. He is bound to see films with his dad a lot, who adores the works of Georges Méliès most of all. Hugo’s second parent dies in a museum fire, forcing Hugo to then live with his uncle, who also makes watches, and also has interests in alcohol. But let’s get to the point of the movie: Hugo’s house is now in the walls of a train station, and Cabret then becomes wrapped in a mystery about his late father and an automaton. No, not an autotune. An automaton. Concerning about dream-chasing, everything having a purpose, and film importance.

Tim Burton has given us the weirdest creations, like last year’s reimagining of Alice in Wonderland, Beetlejuice, Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and more. But one of his most odd creations had to date back to 1993 with The Nightmare Before Christmas. A stop-motion musical horrifically comedic fantasy movie, this chronicles the events of Jack Skellington who serves as the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, a dream world inhabited with every kid’s terror, and who accidentally opens a portal to Christmas Town.  It also tells about Jack’s love for a rag-doll creature named Sally, as well as the heartwarming holiday spirit that brought them together. Still one of the world’s most classic stop-motion movies, it has been quoted as “Tim Burton magic”, been rewarded with a rare approval rating of 100% on the Tomatometer, and lots more, especially the messages of being grateful for your possessions.

“Wonderful antidote to cutesy holiday tales” – Common Sense Media, 5 stars out of 5

Bawdy and naughty? Yes. Still a Christmas movie? Uh, duh. A Christmas Story is one of the most original holiday films in the book. Based off of author/raconteur Jean Shepherd’s short stories like In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, this movie is about a young nine-year old named Ralphie Parker in the 1930′s/40′s of the fictional Hohman, Indiana. He wants only one thing for the holidays: a Red Ryder BB gun. Although he schemes frequently to change his parent’s minds, he keeps running into phrases like “You’ll shoot your eye out.” He also has to deal with a seemingly endless wait for his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, a nasty bully, and an overworked department-store Santa, but it still ends up in a very merry Christmas celebration, and that alone has gotten it into the book of legendary Christmas movies in mine.

………………………………………………..

And finally, let’s start celebrating the nearing of 2012! Hopefully director Roland Emmerich’s 2009 predictions weren’t true, and that the world’s roads will not collapse into deep, maybe endless, chasms, and that the White House and its president will not be destroyed by the impact of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy. (Sorry for any obscene images there.) I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we’re totally fine under the protection of God our Lord.

So, what is our New Year half of this special going to be about? First, I’ll guide you through a couple of famous YouTubers that you should definitely learn about for 2012′s arrivals. Alas, we must start!

Toby Turner, aka Tobuscus, has ranked as one of YouTube’s most famed in comedy ever since summer 2006 (27th on the big, bad, besties’ list!)! 6 solid years! No one can top that! Well, maybe except Rebecca Black and a lot of other people, but the point is! Toby’s had almost 300 million upload views to date, with 1.5 million subscribers to support (one of them being moi :D). He is known for his “Literal” game/movie trailer lyricizing, or his entries in his “Cute Win Fail” series. He also not only supports the channels TobyTurner (for lazy vlogging) and TobyGames (for his game commentary), but he has also gone on adventures in the world of animation along with his much smarter pal, Gabuscus (or, as he likes it, Gabe-uscus). Whether he’s singing about safety torches, proposing the new idea of a “nugget in a biscuit”, or aiming for a portal gun as a Christmas present, this buscus will always be a very good buscus.

The Gregory Brothers (made up of Sarah, Andrew, Michael, and Evan Gregory), also known as schmoyoho, may be only the forty-second on the most-subscribed list, but they managed to shimmy up to number fourteen on the list of directors, and believe me, if there was a list called “Auto-Tune”, it would’ve already topped it faster than you could say “Whoa, slow down, man!” Created in 2007, this foursome has stuck together like a family (which they pretty much are) and Auto-Tuned anything you imagine: the Bed Intruder song, Chuck Testa, Amir [of Jake and Amir]‘s constant pleas for Jake to poke him [via Facebook], and more. These have ended up in almost 400 million upload views in accumulation, and I bet they’re still waiting for another viral video. And if you can’t wait, then go on and make your life sound better with the free (did I say free? I meant “FREE FREE!”) iPhone app that instantly Auto-Tunes your voice. Now, what mechanism could do that?

Well, anyway, what’s your New Year resolution, and what’s on the top of your list for Christmas? Tell me below, and make sure to have a dynamic Christmas and New Year! Well, let’s close up our good time with the classic carol “(Sammwak Wants You To) Deck the Halls”:

Deck the halls with seas of presents,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

‘Tis the season to be goody.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Santa’s coming for a visit, or he’ll give you a big lump of coal!

One day a year is this jolly

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-LA!

- Sam :D :D

p.s. Do you believe in Santa Claus? Good ol’ St. Nick, the crazily cool Kris Kringle, the friendly Father Christmas? Are you a SpongeBob or a Squidward? No need to answer this SpongeBob verbally, answer me poll-y!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yes, it’s finally come, folks. The big part of the year I’ve been nagging at you all month for. This is the first-ever-5:00 premiere (opposed to our usual 1:00 timing) of Sammwak’s second annual Halloween special! Last Halloween, I barely gave you any spirit. But in 2011, I’m totally gonna make your bones quiver! Carve your pumpkins, buy your candy, and change your underpants…this holiday special is about to begin.

These dogs really know how to choose their food fashion.

As a fact I stated in our 2010 special, Halloween was started during around the 1880s. Since then, the entire world has given up this one day to doing things like trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, playing pranks, etc. What am I going to be doing? Celebrating my best of the best friend’s 7th birthday, rationing out my stash of fall harvest party candy, stuff like that. And lots of channels are celebrating Halloween by releasing creepy episodes. Disney Channel has been celebrating “Monstober” since the start of the month, and Cartoon Network’s animated shows are releasing at least one scary episode. I saw Regular Show‘s, and it is surprisingly awesome.

TIPS FOR AN AWESOME HALLOWEEN PARTY

  • Make good invites for people. An attention-grabbing invitation will encourage them to come.
  • Afterwards, make a guest list. A good party has a capacity of a good twenty people.
  • Decide the snacks, party favors, and drinks. It’s a good idea to be willing to include cake.
  • Decorate your house, but make it good. Any old papier-mâché ghosts or stuff scrawled on paper simply won’t cut it, and your party will be a total bust. Buy your own decorations that are creepy and cheap…they’re cheapy.
  • Make sure your food is prepared before people arrive. If half of your capacity is already attending the party and you only have a bag of pretzels willing to be eaten, the party-goers won’t have much of a strong appetite, and the chances they might hoof it will rise. Make sure you got food, and food that guests would want to eat.
  •  Try and dress up in a costume yourself. If you host a creepy Halloween party in just a shirt, khakis and a cardigan sweater, you’ll be the center of the audience, yes, but not in an entirely good way. You can leave out this tip if you want, but if you want to blend into your surroundings, try and buy your own costume. Don’t make it too scary, because you might leave a visual scar if half of your attending guests are kids.
  • Tidy up the house. I don’t mean to sound like I’m quoting something your dad would probably say inside your room, but a good party has a clean atmosphere. If your guests are noticing junk like empty bags of Doritos behind the couches, or colonies of dust bunnies, you, and your party, will probably look like a slob.
  • Decide where, when, and directions. This is the most important part of a Halloween party. Don’t tell your guests unsure sentences like, “Uh…I honestly don’t know”, because this is the biggest chance that they’ll bail out. Maybe hand out flyers of your party, and have every necessary detail on them, location, date, and address. This makes sure that they’ll know where to come, why they’re coming, and the time they’re expected.
  • Is the party going to be outdoors or indoors? Another important tip. Make sure if your party is going to be out or in. And make sure everybody gets the same information, because people will be arguing if they get different info. If you plan to have an outdoor party, set up tables and chairs. If indoors, set up stuff like food and décor.

GOOD INVITATION FORMAT

You’re Invited – The simple phrase that makes an invitation an invitation. This phrase sets the tone and lets people know, instead of jumping out and slapping them across the face with other detail. “You’re invited” is merely what an invitation cannot lack.

Where, When, and Why – Another essential invitation detail. Attending guests need to know where they’re going, why they’re headed there, and when they’re expected. Without these details, your invited guest will be more baffled than a half-brained kid taking a MEAP test. Also, be on the safe side and put your number on your ads if guests don’t have invitations, because they gotta reach the host/hostess somehow.

(optional) RSVP – Translated from the classic French phrase repondéz s’il vous plaît, RSVP means “reply please” or “please respond”. This is so that guests can respond to you with “Yes, I can come” or “No, I cannot come” as a response.

HALLOWEEN BIRTHDAYS

  • Adam K. Horowitz, also known as the Beastie Boy, King Ad-Rock or just Ad-Rock. This some-of-everything man (music, acting, producing, guitar-playing, and rapping) came from New Jersey from a mom named Doris and a play-writing father named Israel. Beginning his musical passion in the punk rock band, The Young and the Useless, he became the Beastie Boys’ replacement guitarist in 1982, when the original one quit. He has been a piece of the pie since, although he has an epilepsy diagnosis and a 5-year marriage with riot grrrl artist Kathleen Hanna. He is celebrating his 45th birthday today. Happy birthday, King!
  • Robert M. Van Winkle, also known as Vanilla Ice. This extreme athletic rapping home improvement TV personality pioneered Billboard chart-topping songs with his timeless summer 1990 single, “Ice Ice Baby”. Currently signed to Psychopathic Records (do mass murderers rap there?), he began hosting The Vanilla Ice Project since October 2010 (that’s his home improvement show), and has even survived his own suicidal attempt, as well as surviving a major 3-year fame fall. Today he is turning 44. Happy birthday, Ice!
  • Willow C.R. Smith is turning 11 today. Better known as Willow Smith, or mononymously as Willow, she encouraged the music junkies of pre-Halloween 2010 to whip their hair like 21st-century girls. The song was only number eleven on the Billboard chart, but it’s been part of meme lore ever since. She’s also dipped her hand into the jar of acting, starring as Robert Neville (played by her own father)’s daughter in I Am Legend and also as the hobo jungle resident Countee in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Happy birthday, Willow! And make sure to whip that hair real good!
  • Sir Peter R. Jackson, known for directing all 3 Lord of the Rings movies, alongside the 2005 revival of King Kong, is turning 50 today. To me, 50 is a big number of age, but the 50-60 area is recently the most prone death area. No offense, Sir Jackson (I’m not a fortune teller), but just be aware. This New Zealander scored global attention by churning out “splatstick” horror comedies such as Bad Taste and Braindead. I’ve seen a little of one of his movies, and all I have to say is: Awesome directing, Pete. Although sometimes he did slip under the line, such as with The Lovely Bones. No offense, but happy birthday, Sir!

The Grim Reaper, the angel of darkness. Or should I say, the Grim Ripper (in this situation), an old-school Guitar Hero.

Anyway, I’m hosting Sammwak’s first-ever Bone Chill test: Think you’re strong enough to outdo these horrifying pictures? Prove so by taking a long look of horror at these pictures of terror from the video above. After you’re done screaming, please vote in the poll and determine which picture is the scariest…

Done screaming? Want to know what these pictures are of? These are all characters from different Cartoon Network animated shows: from left to right, would be Gumball from his amazing world, Hi-5 Ghost from Regular Show, Marceline from Adventure Time, and Festro from Secret Mountain Fort Awesome. You can see all these pics excluding Festro in the video above. Now, it’s time to vote!

Pretty good Halloween special so far? Not if I show you this hilarious video from Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, starring Festro and his amazing bonehead trying to determine if “Hmm” means everything’s cool, or everything’s cool. (weak amount of views. But then again, it was released Oct 7.)

And have I told you that YouTube may be turning into 3DTube? I was watching a Regular Show video with the ability to be converted into legit 3D…but you need actually lame red and cyan old-schooled glasses to pull it off. (*groan*) Unfortunately, that video got deleted before I could show it to you. (*double groan*) But fortunately I’ll dish about a couple of games that are releasing this era of the year. (*triple gr….wait, what?*)

  • Spider-Man: Edge of Time shot its spiderweb at retail stores on the 4th, and it’s depicted Spidey like never before: across the face of time. From the modern Spidey to the Spidey of the future, Peter Parker’s trying to keep future events from occuring, while the Spidey of 2099 is trying to fight for his life while keeping his preceding hero out of jeopardy. (Wii, DS, and N3DS.)
  • The horrifying dance craze began in 2009 when Ubisoft totally took the Wii’s motion controls for granted with the first Just Dance game. Then it somehow returned to retail store shelves last year with Just Dance 2, and now, they’ve finally moved onto the X360 Kinect and PS3 Move sensing controls in Just Dance 3. Some songs on the list include B.o.B’s “Airplanes”, Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”, Katy Perry’s “E.T.”, and the classic hip-hop groove, “Everybody Dance Now”. Wii and Kinect owners can already stock in on the game since the 7th, but PS3 owners will have to wait until the very end of the year (12/11/11, specifically) to get their share. (Wii, PS3, and X360.)
  • The word “Sim” has been part of life-simulating lore since 1989 introduced the SimCity series. Then EA evolved that into the Sims series, each main entry getting several additional games known as “expansion packs”. Now, The Sims 3 has gotten its fifth expansion, The Sims 3: Pets. What seems to be based off the 2006 disaster of The Sims 2: Pets, the game introduced chances to raise pets from dogs to horses. Will you raise your pet in a peaceful and gentle state, or will you live in the garden with your pets, after having your house destroyed?
So that’s my amazing new celebration, coming to an end! Speaking of which, come back October 31, 2012 for our 3rd Halloween special! And come back the same day on 2013 for our 4th, 2014 for our fifth, and so on. Anyway, do you have some Halloween-like ideas and stuff? Tell me and I might put them to good use one day!
- Sam


Hey guys it’s Sam back from a gnarly 2 days at camp! But the happiness will have to go sad in this post; remember when we had to say our final goodbye to famous faces like Bernie Mac, Heath Ledger (aka The Dark Knight‘s Joker), and Michael Jackson? It shattered our hearts, but they still remain spirits that created a revolutionary breakthrough. And just two days ago, we had to say goodbye to a big piece of computer technology…the 56-year old Steve Jobs.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today. Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve. His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.”
 - Apple Inc., Oct. 5, 2011

Yes, it is true, folks. I am not trying to ruin your weekend. iMac? iPhone? iPod? No…iSad. This man’s big nap triggered a global sadness almost as powerful as Michael Jackson’s. Steve Jobs was considered a visionary, a genius, a computer pioneer in his field of business. But he was like the Titanic of computer science–they thought he was unsinkable…but he sank. Cancer is taking away a lot of our adult friends these days, and Steve’s death was caused by pancreatic cancer, after being diagnosed in 2004. Such a good chairman, I bet those chairs are going to miss this man deeply…

But that’s not all. This is not the end of Apple Inc.; we may actually get our iPhone 5. We still have our remaining body of workers, so don’t be completely bummed out. Apple is taking such a big part of it, upon visiting their site, almost the whole front page is concealed by a picture showing Steve’s lifespan aside a greyscale picture of Jobs himself. Anyway, I guess it’s time to play that “moment-of-reflection” song again…

Okay, so I did ruin your weekend. Sorry, but I’ll have more fun stuff in the weeks to come. Rest in peace, Steve, my man. Rest in peace.

- Sam



Hey guys it’s Sam, and have you ever wondered how my life is like? Well, you searched upon the right post, because Sammwak presents My Day My Life starring yours truly! This is the ultimate way to take a look at celebrity life, so why not my life?

FIRST ROUTINE

First I wake up in the morning, probably at 11:00 to noon, 1:00 if I’m extra sleepy.  I hobble to the bathroom to comb my hair, brush my teeth, and wash my face. Then I go down for breakfast.

BREAKFAST

I usually have Ensure nutrition drinks (the king of dairy products), even though my sister says it isn’t real breakfast. If we’re on an Ensure shortage, then I usually grab a bowl of cereal, whether it’s plain Cheerios or Lucky Charms.

10-MINUTE GAMING

I used to head down to the family room for some extreme ten-minute gaming. I usually played SSX Tricky (you know, when the PS2 actually still worked), then I varied to Diddy Kong Racing for the N64, and then that was pretty much my last ten-minute gaming time…excluding the nights I bashed on Super Street Fighter IV.

EXTREME COMPUTING

Then I head upstairs, get comfortable in the chair, and relax surfing the web. I usually make a couple post drafts right here on Sammwak, or I help the web otherwise like editing wikis. If there’s something going on in my head, either if it’s something I have or something irrationally wild, I usually make a video about it on my webcam. I also do a great amount of work at Cheezburger.com, where I go under the alias saml0lz. Yes, I have made the home page of several sites several times.

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH?

I usually either get called down for lunch, or go myself by around 3:00 to 4:00…or those extremely and lazily unlucky times where I need to have my dinner, which is also my lunch (a lunner?) I usually have a tasty plate of rice, whether it’s white or brown. If I feel extra appetizing, I usually garnish my meals with strips of bacon. During or after my meal, I usually go to the bathroom to have a baby. My latest boy was named Mr. Feces. Where is he now? In his home…halfway between my toilet and the Atlantic Ocean.

Then I go back upstairs and repeat Extreme Computing all over again.

VIDEOHEAD

I go on YouTube every day. Both to get a few laughs out, or to check some of my channels…sorry, me and my brother’s channel. Yeah, I watch viral videos (Annoying Orange and whatnot), and some channels I really like (nigahiga, TheFineBros, etc.) get subscribed…on Google Reader.

DINNER DASH

Just take a look back up at What’s for Lunch? I usually have rice, whether I have to wash it down with a bowl of Romaine hearts. (It’s just salad.) The only time I didn’t have rice was when:

A) I went out for dinner (which I wish would happen more often) at a restaurant.

B) I got stuck with a plate of mushy ugali. (That’s corn meal)

Then I infrequently go to the bathroom and have another baby. My latest girl’s a shortie, and her name’s Ms. Scat. She and Mr. Feces are probably raising a wonderful family together.

AFTER-DINNER DOINGS

Okay, now it’s time for my nightlife. My brother usually stays down at the family room with his nighttime meal. I usually watch TV or do some street fighting. Then I usually go back to the TV of mild boredom and watch some TV up until 11:00, my bedtime. But if I feel like a bad boy, I’ll squeeze in a few more minutes of street fighting, just to reward myself.

Then I run upstairs, change into my pajamas (or shower, if I feel like a goody gumball), and drift into sleep, whether it’s quick and dreamless, or with at least one sad, weird, or freakishly creepy dream.

——————–

TRIP DAYS

This is a new kind of day. I usually wake up, do my first routine, and then get whisked off in our Chevy Impala, usually (if not always) to Chicago. We usually make a couple stops at gas stations to get a reload or to reload on energy with some sweets, then we head right back on the road. We usually spend the night at our destination (speaking of destination, did I mention we use a GPS?), then we chug back home. Take all our stuff out. And if we’re extra early, take a nap. Or sleep, whatever you would call it.

——————-

And that, my friend, is a look at my life! Thanks for being a part of Sammwak, and if you blog right here at WordPress, please like my posts. If you don’t blog here, just subscribe and/or leave a comment. Remember, it’s 100% natural!

- Sam

p.s. Tomorrow, I fall into the evil clutches of what is known as…school. Wish me all the luck you can.

p.p.s. This is the first post categorized under Home in a long time.



Hey guys it’s Sam, and I feel really super good today (besides feeling sluggish about it being September aka school month). You know why? Because I checked my site stats, and last Saturday morning I had fifty views! Did you know that’s the same number of homes in a city of Nebraska? Do you know how good that makes me feel? Anyway I figured that it’s a Monday, and after an ignorant hiatus, I’ve decided to come back at you with an old Sammwak original: the top 10 Xbox 360 games! (See I published it!) To agree or disagree? That is the answer. From the fighting ring to the soccer field and everything in between, bring on the list!

10. Get ready to soil your plants in Plants vs Zombies.

It's like Left 4 Dead, but with plants.

for animated blood and cartoon violence.

One of last year’s most memorable games that hit the Xbox Live Arcade, PvZ took tower defensive games to the next level. If you’re not very “bright” (get it?), you won’t know the storyline: Your house is attacked by hordes of zombies looking for brains, and while you chill in your house, the only battlefield you have is your lawn. The soldiers? Plants.

HOW THIS GAME ROCKED: Beautiful graphics never go awry. Endless amount of opportunities, such as getting new plants (earned or bought as a Twiddydinky) or facing new zombies. Impressive mini games when you want to take a break from the adventure. Awesome versus mode.

HOW IT DIDN’T: You actually have to w-w-(if I say this, my lips will swell like salami)-work to earn things! Progress is unbelievably slow (unlike the iPhone version, the most fair edition sold). Take a white kid and dab two drops of ketchup on his neck and call him a vampire, that’s simply not my league of gaming.

9. Be the predator, but don’t be the prey in Mirror’s Edge.

Faith in mid-fight with a “Blue.”

  for blood, violence, and language.

One of 2008-2010′s most reflected action-adventure games (and my sister’s only played game), taking the phrase “freedom of movement” to a dangerously high level. You play as Faith, a 24-year old in a utopian city that makes a living as a runner, a master of parkour who carries communiques about the city. Faith discovers corruption at the city’s core, and she gets hunted down (at least, that’s what the back said). Along the way, you encounter the Pursuit Police (also skilled in parkour), former runner Jackknife, and even Ropeburn the bulky wrestler!

HOW THIS GAME ROCKED: The most beautiful graphics I’ve seen in an action-adventure game. The core controls are super easy, and you can string them together for even more combat skill. Reasonable voice acting for each character, and a real bang of an ending.

HOW IT DIDN’T: Freaking impossible, even on easy. The combat does sag a little, and the amount of trial and error is time-sucking, soul-sucking, and…well, frustrating.

8. Team up and throw down in Skate 3.

Who’s gonna break the most bones? Guess in your comment!

for crude humor, drug reference, mild violence, suggestive themes, and language.

The third and most recent installment in Electronic Art’s open-world skateboarding series Skate, this game flipped into retail stores May 2010. Since San Vanelona has put up a strict skate-free rule, we take to the streets of Port Carverton (home of the Sharks). But this city of not only the residence of Sharks, but stars. Stars in the skateboarding history, that is, from Danny Way to Rob Dydrek and everyone in between.

HOW THIS GAME ROCKED: The controls did churn out easy and quite impressive. The environments were breathtaking and so lifelike, and there are very worthy skaters to unlock, even if they’re skeletons of slabs of meat. Simply throwing yourself off buildings is instant fun.

HOW IT DIDN’T: The engine just couldn’t keep up with the visuals, so every now and then Skate 3 does glitch up (carrying the series’ old tradition). The droning format it undergoes simply melted away my entertainment. Challenges slowly got impossible.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the game before this installment was not Skate 2, but instead the spin-off Skate It? Since Thanksgiving 2008, this extreme sporting game has been getting air on the DS, the Wii, and the iPhone.

7. It’s a futuristic battle to the finish in Monday Night Combat.

An Iceman Assassin gives a juiced piggyback ride to a Hotshot Assault. Hey, am I next?

Juicing up the XBLA last summer as part of the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade, MNC has intelligent and heavy use of a Monday Night Football background, with a character-class based system with clones that fight for money. Speaking of money, there’s a Moneyball (a ball of money….) that must be defended on one team, while destroyed on the other. Classes, defense, money…yup, it’s pretty much tower defense.

HOW THIS GAME ROCKED: The visuals are also clean and striking, and the controls are actually awfully easy at the core. It makes you feel as if you’re in the arena, and I might be a thick-header for saying this, but it’s very lifelike. Bullseye has to be the best mascot in a 3-person shooter game.

HOW IT DIDN’T: And that’s pretty much it, save the fact that you’re literally blazing bullets every five seconds.

FUN FACT: Did you know that MNC is getting a free-to-play sequel sometime in late 2011 or early 2012 called Super MNC? It’s got new classes, bringing back the old ones, but gives out more of a strategical test.

6. Take the rallies and the ridges in Kinect Adventures.

Two adventurers rush through river rapids in "River Rush."

for…mild animated blood?

The first game for the Xbox 360′s Kinect, Kinect Adventures depicted an adventurous storyline with people looking for journeying. There are five mini-games in Free Play, let alone Adventure Mode: River Rush (see picture), Reflex Ridge, Space Pop, 20,000 Leaks, and Rallyball. Adventure on your own or have a cooperative or competitive time with friends.

HOW IT ROCKED: The events did have lots of range, and they were fun in their own ways. As long as the Kinect could track you, the controls did work good. Successful multiplayer, whether it’s co-op or competition.

HOW IT DIDN’T: The most annoying way of telling players that they can’t be tracked: A huge message pops up in the corner of the screen, and tells you to move backward or move forward or left, IT’S SO ANNOYING! Anyway, the game’s also really repetitive so it doesn’t have much interest for people to stay round for at least a handful of hours.

5. You’re the ninja Terminator, and you’re no conjurer of cheap tricks in Mini Ninjas.

The protagonist Hiro, attacks a massive "large one".

for crude humor and cartoon violence.

Welcome back to the world of Japanese adventure! In this big little action-adventure, flatlands are attacked with horrific weather as bad as earthquakes, and mysterious figures are seen caging animals. The truth is that the Evil Samurai Warlord banished 300 years ago had made an unholy return turning caged animals into mindless warriors in an attempt to take over the world! When the ninja master sends out armies of ninjas with no return, he turns to his final two, knowing that the fate of the world rests in their little hands.

HOW IT ROCKED: Beautiful art making a cohesive world of vibrancy. (sorry, too psychedelic?) Unlimited combat options, which make for some pretty fun fights, whether you need to possess a fox for a quick retreat, or a bear for a good old mauling.

HOW IT DIDN’T: Every flaw literally points their finger at the bad camera. Fighting does get tiresome towards the end of the game. And a not very impressive way to fight bosses, but an extremely hilarious one at most: pantsing them. (I’m not even pulling your chain!) So points for and against you.

4. Get to the dancefloor and get funky in Dance Central.

Miss Aubrey breaks it down mid-game.

The killer app of the Xbox 360′s Kinect (hands down), Dance Central is the second game for the Kinect (see no. 6 for the first) and actually sneaked exercises into what seems to be just having a good time. With a soundtrack with grooves as classic as “Funkytown”, to as current as Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)”. There are ten avatars (counting ELIOT and the Pink Ninja), and t0 top it off, there’s even a ten-second freestyle!

HOW IT ROCKED: Invigorating visuals upon a wide complexity of dance, a helpful training mode. It’s hard to resist dancing with your friends. A party’s dream game.

HOW IT DIDN’T: Girlie moves that men can’t survive to perform. When routines are easy, they’re a little too easy; they’re super-duper-fragilisticexpialadocius-1-million-points easy. No character customization? Well, that stinks, because I was looking forward to dancing under my own creation. And at first glance, you’d think you reached hip-hop-happy land. So why is this game always defending the right to get funky?

3. For these ragdolls, it’s a rush in Activision’s Wipeout: In The Zone.

If old ladies really have to cross streets like this in the future....

for comic mischief and mild cartoon violence.

In 2008, we first received the hilarious show, Wipeout. Then we received Wipeout: The Game in 2010. And now, the Kinect evolution! Yessiree, this game totally supports Kinect gaming! And for once…this isn’t garbage! It’s actually fun for a change, even if you’re playing a little experience at Best Buy!

HOW IT ROCKED: Successful Kinect mechanics for multiplayer, and awesome mechanics of obstacles you’d actually see on the show. Good voice samples and entertaining visuals never grate up. A good game to get a simple handful of laughs out of.

HOW IT DIDN’T: Replays rub your misfortune in your unlucky face. Tasks to do before running a course are embarrassing, like striking poses or dancing. Kinect models do patch up, while it’s infrequent, but noticeable. Not really some achievements worth striving for.

2. Put the pedal to the metal with over twenty Sega characters in Sonic & Sega Racing.

Sonic zooms in the foreground with Tails hot on his track on the Whale Lagoon course.

for comic mischief, cartoon violence, and mild suggestive themes.

First revving into the market February 2010 nine days after Valentine’s Day (six after my birthday), Sonic & Sega Racing is the third and most recent installment in the Sega Superstars crossover series. With an endless amount of courses to unleash your inner all-star, it’s also a great game for friends who want competition, whether it’s racing or the mini-games’ varies from king of the hill to knockout!

HOW IT ROCKED: Very smooth controls with endless speed senses which fall into the beautiful visuals and great frame rates. Impressive course design with plenty of variety and range even when you have to drive in a circle three times. Even when they’re literal Sega mascots to ultimate D-listers, this game has a good mix range of racers. Ultimately successful multiplayer with endless fun.

HOW IT DIDN’T: No way to Grand Prix with a friend. Even with up to four players racing, the one signed in gets all the credit.

———————————

Okay, this is it. My most recommended game. Change your underwear. Man the floorboards. Take your vitamins. Because number one has arrived, and even critics and players alike agree with me all across the country….

A CPU Makoto attacks Dudley with a Hayate. Official X360 Magazine courtesy.

for alcohol reference, mild language, suggestive themes, and, of course, violence.

The best fighting game around for ages. Super Street Fighter IV brought everything back of what we needed. Bringing back “forgotten” characters while introducing newcomers, giving “that new touch” to that old game, man this game has it all. I can do the whole evening just in training mode. No wonder me and my brother made onebyonetv in its honor.

HOW IT ROCKED: Gorgeous models and arena designs. Ultimate success in rebalancing characters along with the robust gameplay. Excellent competitive multiplayer if imperfect. Video replay is the best way to share fights with friends in a new, evolved way. All together, definitely makes a better game than last year’s at 2 thirds of the price.

HOW IT DIDN’T: Only limited to a wee two-player multiplayer. You know what would’ve patched it up? Team battle. DUH! Online fighting does suffer if either fighter has slow connection. Video replay mode could be a tad easier to use.

————-

So that’s all, folks. A deep sorry for not being able to catch up these past weeks, so I forced myself to do this one. Thanks for always being a part of Sammwak, and if you blog here at WordPress, please like this post. And if you’re just a viewer, then please subscribe or leave a comment in that section!

- Sam

p.s. Do you know I’ve gotten up to sixty comments here on Sammwak? Good golly!



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