Friday, April 24, 2009

I am giant!

Well today I saw the fruits of my labors being harvested and what a grand harvest it was. In laymen terms I had just finished the first part of my strength training program. One I devised myself to increase my overall strength since it had been a good six months since I've done something of that sort. I did a variation on the 5x5 rule in which in the first week I'd do 5x5 for two exercises (Chest= Flat Bench and Incline) (Back= Dead-Lift and Barbell Row)(Arms=Close-grip bench and EZ-Bar Curl,) followed by two other exercises with a standard 15-8 rep range for four sets each. Next week I did 3x3 and the following I attempted my one rep max followed by 3 reps followed by 5.

I was able to increase my bench press from 200 lbs to 225 and my dead-lift from 300 lbs to 335 lbs. I am not attempting my max for my incline and row until next week since I do not want to attempt a one rep max twice in one workout for two different exercises. The reason I'm estatic is because this is the first time I've put together a strength program that has shown concrete results, which means I'm doing things right. In turn it has sold me on the 5x5 rule in full. I would recommend something similar to this for anyone who wished to increase their strength, but I would probably not recommend the particular exercises to anyone who hasn't worked out for at least a year though since it does put a tremendous strain on your muscles and it could injure someone who isn't used to doing the aforementioned exercises.

Here is basically my workout program if anyone wishes to follow.

Monday Arms/Traps/Lower Abs (I used to skip arms so I put them first to make me do them.)
Close Grip Bench (5x5, 3x3, 2x2)
Rope Cable Extensions (3 sets 15-10 rep range)
Straight Bar Extensions (3 sets 15-10 rep range)
EZ-Bar Curl (5x5 3x3 2x2)
Flat Bench Cable Curls (In this exercise I laid on a flat bench, got an cable straight bar and did the curling motion while on my back) (3 sets 15-10 reps)
Hammer Curls (With cables or dumbbells) (3 sets 15-10 reps)
Lower Abs
Reverse Crunches (3 sets to failure)
Reverse Incline Bench Shoulder Raises (Lying stomach first on an incline bench I proceeded to do shoulder raises, this hits the upper traps) (3 sets 15-10 reps)
Cable Row Shrug (Sitting on a cable row machine, but instead I do a shrug instead of a row) (7 sets 10 reps each with 30 second rest between sets)

Tuesday Quadriceps and Calves (I am not doing the 5x5 rule for my quadriceps)
Barbell Hack Squats
(4 sets 15-8 reps)
Machine Leg Press
(4 sets 15-8 reps)
Leg Extensions
(4 sets 20-10 reps)
Sissy Squats
(4 sets 20 reps)
Body-Weight Squats
(4 sets 20 reps)
One Footed Body-Weight Calf Press (I simply stand on the platform behind an incline bench and do one footed raises while balancing myself with the bar, I go for the lower range of motion in this exercise) (3 sets 20 reps on each foot)
Leg Press Calve Press (3 sets 20 reps)

Thursday Chest/Obliques/Rear Delts
Flat Bench (5x5 3x3 1x1)
Incline Bench (5x5 3x3 1x1)
Cable Crossovers or Cable Raises (4 sets 15-10 reps)
Dumbbell Incline Fly (4 sets 15-8 reps)
Dumbbell or Medicine Ball Twists (3 sets to failure)
Rear Deltoids
Bent Over Shoulder Raises (3 sets 15-10 reps)
Cable Machine or Cable Rear Delts Raises (3 sets 15-10 reps)

Friday Back/Front Abdominal/Front Delts
(5x5 3x3 1x1)
Bent Over Barbell Row
(5x5 3x3 1x1)
Behind The Head Pulldown
(4 sets 15-10 reps)
Cable Rows
(4 sets 15-10 reps)
Front Abdominal
(3 sets 25 reps)
Front Delts
Smith Machine Shoulder Press
(3 sets 12-8 reps)
Incline Bench Barbell Shoulder Raises
(3 sets 12-8 reps)

Saturday Hamstrings/Calves (Though I admit I've been neglecting them)
Yoga Ball Leg Curls
(4 sets of 20 reps)
Sumo Style Dead-Lift
(4 sets 12-8 reps)
Seated Leg Curls
(4 sets 20-10 reps)
Side to Side Weighted Leg Stretches
(I step from side to side, stretching out my inner hamstrings while carrying a weight on my shoulder. (4 sets 20 reps)
Leg Press Calve Press
(3 sets 20 reps)
One Footed Calve Raise
(3 sets 20 reps)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Trashcans don't = Horseshoes

You know one of my largest pet peeves? The one that probably is the main reason I prefer to stay away from places like pools and parks? Slobs, that's it, slobs. People who can't take the ten foot walk required to throw trash into the proper trashcans! At this point in history it isn't even excusable anymore. Trashcans can be found every 100 feet in most residential areas and every 100 yards everywhere else. Why can't to throw trash away in the bloody trashcan? What's even worse are the people who throw their shit at the trashcan and think because it's close it counts. This isn't horseshoes you scummy son of a bitch!
What causes this sudden burst of anger to arise is simple actually. Yesterday I decided to head to the pool because it was hitting near the 100 degree mark and I figured it I needed to get some sun that wasn't through a quarter inch piece of glass. So I go and for the most part it's quite relaxing. I swim about ten laps from side to side, do a bit of stretching and relaxing in the jacuzzi, all good. After that I decide to rest on one of those nice extending lawn chairs they have. I drift off a bit and when I come back to my senses I realize that I'm almost completely dry and don't feel like getting wet again, so I decide to take a little walk around the pool.
This is when I begin to notice little bits of trash around the pool, no biggy; I pick them up and toss them in the trashcan, fine. Then I go around the eating area and holy mother of pickles. It looks like an entire family of thirty decided to have a full Burger King buffet, complete with alcohol (Do I really need to mention why that's bad? You've all been to a pool right?), and enough limes to permanently dull your sense of taste. The bad part? It was scattered around the trashcan at almost an inch and a half high and probably about two feet in diameter. Being the tree-hugger I am I spent ten minutes, TEN MINUTES picking up every piece of trash and having to actually stack and slip things in to get it to all fit. You see the fundamental problem? I had to clean up someone else's fucking mess because they were too damn lazy to put the trash in the can properly and instead decided to toss it at the can like a bunch of fucken monkeys!
Now I don't mind slobs for the most part, hey if it's your house or your property you can be as much of a pig as you want. When it's a public area though and there is at least a half a dozen trashcans within smelling distance, there is no excuse to be a lazy bastard. I swear these people rank right up there with the dumbfucks who wear their pants at their knees or the people who can't keep their mouth shut if it would save their life. These people are scum, I mean it, I don't care if they're 10 or 90, if they make 3,000 a year or 2,000,000 a year, if you can't pick up after yourself like a proper adult then you need to go back home and watch some Barney tapes! Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do their share you piece of shit! I'm going to go kill a small animal now..I kid..

Edit: For the life of me I can't spell pool right on the first try.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sonic and The Black Knight

So I happened to have busted my mouse around a week ago and had to leave for the store to get a new one. The problem with this is that I am what you would call a -sale whore-, in that if I see a sale on something I like, even if I currently should be spending the money, I buy it. This disease led me to purchasing both the Sonic Mega Collection and Sonic and The Black Knight, but you know what the biggest surprise was? They were both good, nay they were both enjoyable! I mean we could all guess that the first would be enjoyable because it is Sonic in its quote unquote "golden years", but a current Sonic game, let alone the most recent of them, being good? Unfathomable you say, but I say it is true!

This is even harder to say because, as you could have guessed, I had played the very first Sonic off the mega collection no longer then ten minutes before popping in Sonic and the Black Knight. This led to the first realization (one that comes to an even greater shock to me because I haven't played a Sonic game since Sonic Adventure DX for the Gamecube), the Sonic Team aren't half bad at animation. The entrance captivated me from the very start and just about to the end as well (with a few hiccups provided by rather average, but overall acceptable voice acting.) After that stellar animation it seems that they decided to budget their time to focus more on the gameplay then providing the same stellar animation, the latter switching to a stop motion comic style, but the game seems better for it since this type of cut-scene seems to know it can't last too long on its own and quickly makes with the explaining before shooing away.

Secondly, lets talk about the voice acting. While nothing great in both the script and in the voice actors themselves, it does manage to at least keep you from becoming derailed while speeding through the game. Though I admit that it can be a tad wooden at times, I can also say that I've seen far, far worse. Though besides that there isn't much else to say about it, probably to the games dismay, since it doesn't really supply that many memorable lines or impressive speeches.

Lets go to the story. Oh you remember that whole thing with King Arthur and the Round Table? The part about a noble king who leads a group of valorous knights on the quest for good? No, no you don't, shut up. All of that never happened and is all a lie according to Sonic and The Black Knight. Instead King Arthur was actually an evil prick who can easily be corrupted by the thought of immortality, up to the point that he goes on a complete killing spree of his beloved kingdom. So yeah, the story for this new installation is sort of far-fetched, but to be honest it simply seems to be there to justify the levels you travel through over anything else. Trust me when I say that it gets even more confusing after you beat the first part of it. Sadly, I think Sonic Team needs to invest in some new writers because I've come across fan fiction that had better stories then this. You can skip over it though so all is well (mind you it was very good fan-fiction).

Now lets get to the meat and potatoes, the level design. I suppose you could think of this like....Well remember that one arcade game where you got into the life raft and would paddle in the various directions you wanted to go? Think of it like that, but with now you have the ability to jump and swing a sword that, to my utter surprise, is actually normal size. (Since we all know that most swords tend to be a tad over-compensatory (I'm looking at you Square Enix), So basically the game is like the rail-cart level of Super Mario RPG repeated with incremental difficulty increases and enemies that are definitely -not- ripping of the Twilight from Legend of Zelda. They just have the ability to spawn from the sky or ground, spawn in vast numbers, are covered in a mixture of blacks and other dark colors, oh and they don't talk...Actually it seems that everyone besides the main characters in this game talk in various "meeps" like Beaker. They never explain this either, but I guess they wanted us to figure that they were short on time (I mean hell they released this five or so months after Unleashed).

I seem to have drifted off, what was I talking about? Oh yes, the levels! This is where most will get a rather nostalgic tingling in their tummies since it plays out a lot like the classic games in a sense. You run across a rather straight forward path that, at various points, allows you to split off and travel in various different routes. You have to avoid or confront various enemies and traps (many of which you can do in mid-stride,) and you collect rings.....Well no actually you collect fairies...Which is even stranger because the sword sidekick (Did I mention the sword sidekick? Well this is a review not a synopsis), tells you that these fairies will give you rings. Why aren't they just rings? I mean true they give you five rings a fairy, but that leaves the levels rather bare except for various enemies and traps....That portion of the game I never really will understand. Anyway, you also get to run through a sign at the end of the level, well I like it..I've noticed that most other reviewers talk about the controls being unresponsive, but I never noticed that. Maybe I was too busy drooling over myself in fanboy glee, but they seemed to work quite well in all honesty. I actually only remember one point I got stuck on and that was because I had to fight with enemies that shove you back with their shields while my back was against a collasped bridge (On that note, Sonic Team you guys are assholes), The last portion is that you get rated at the end of the level, but I'm sure we all are familiar with this by now.

A quick note, the level selection screen is also quite rudimentary, which is too its benefit. You select and area, select a level, select if you want to customize your character before departure, and you go. The only prerequisite to playing the next level is that you beat the previous one. Levels that are unlocked are announced so you don't have to go searching through all the areas either. This is where they kept it simple and I thank them for that.

Lets talk about the final portion, the enemies. I do lie though, because unlike the Twilight, who have a rich and detailed backstory behind them these guys are demonic minions from the underworld that seem to enjoy being evil bastards to Sonic and innocent civilians...That's about all we get to know. Luckily you see a better amount of detail in the types of enemies. As the levels progress, new enemies are presented with simply a small hint blabbered by your sword buddy, short and sweet. These enemies are easily identifiable due to their weapons having a rather bright color scheme compared to the enemies themselves. I believe I counted around ten to twelve different enemy types throughout the game, ranging from your basic sword swinger, to pikemen, to axe swingers, to oversized giants that block your way until you kill them (fucker..). They also supply you with a small variety of long range opponents too, but luckily you can jump over them most the time. While not incredibly exciting you can say that they do keep it interesting.

Boss battles are quite different from the normal fray, most put you on a circular track up against a slower, but usually more powerful boss. Though quite basic, the bosses do require you to learn their movements and attacks before going in. Swinging your sword recklessly will only get you past Shadow...Lancelot. Oh right, you fight the members of the Round Table who are actually Sonic characters with their names changed (clever). I say it's clever because I think we've had enough new characters in this little universe, for now at least. This is also one of the weirdest parts due to, well let me go into more detail. Near the beginning of the game you fight up against Aurthur for the first time. They go through great detail teaching you to swing in time with Arthur to deflect his attack and leave him open for a counter-attack. I go into my first real boss battle with this mindset. I'll go in, wait for the signal, and attack. It never happens though, the only time you ever use this method is when going up against Arthur again, and you only do this one other time! Why would you teach me this mechanic if I'm only going to be using it one other time. I think it would have been better suited to be put at a tutorial right before the final battle with Arthur, but that's just me.

Overall, what can you say about Sonic and The Black Knight? It has the right formula, needs work, but overall it's fun. The pure sensation of speed is there and that is probably what kept me playing to the end. The decent variations of levels, special challenges, and the skip button also play massive points in the games favor. Should you buy it? Not sure, but I do think that this game has gotten a rather unfair stigma attached to it. It's fun, it isn't a technical masterpiece, but it's fun, lets leave it at that. I liked it, that's about all I can say.

Yours truly,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I choose you, Blogasaur!

Yes, well I have finally entered into the realm of blogging. If it wasn't for a shortness of time I'd post something further, but for now I can just say hello!