2016 in Review- Thank Crom It’s Over!

Well, another year has come and gone and boy wasn’t it a shit show?  Bowie, Abe Vigoda, Prince, Chyna, Carrie Fisher and others left us this year.  ISIS was sent running but Syria got much worse for anyone who wanted change.  The UK Brexited the EU, Ultra-right wing groups are on the rise and the US elected Donald Trump as their president.  The good news is we haven’t managed to kill us all off yet, but nothing seems to stop the quickening descend into oblivion we are on.

But this blog has never been about such serious things.  Why start now?  And it can’t all be doom and gloom, at least not for me.  While the passing of my cat Meeloo back in February was a sad occasion, it wasn’t as frustrating as when my hot water tank burst and flooded my basement.  Then there was a situation with paperwork that threatened to prevent my career progression.  The stress of that would have caused me to pull out my hair, had I not lost it all years ago. More water trouble and unexpected bills kept me on my toes for the rest of the year.  Now that I look back, it still looks gloomy..

But I got through it.  I have my health (relatively), the love of my wife and a dog that keeps me on my toes.  I did get the promotion at work and am really enjoying my new position.  I am by nature a “glass half-empty” type of person, as I do not hope that things get better, only that they don’t get worse.

Then, there is this blog.  I sure did not meet my goal of 30 new post this year.  I only posted 21 times, which is still my third best yearly total.  I posted at least once every month except January.  Again, I would like to post more.  Maybe a goal of 25 post this year is possible.

What is there to post about in the next 12 months?  I got the next Legion of Collectors and Smuggler’s Bounty box coming up in the next month.  Unfortunately I am probably dropping one for a while, probably the Star Wars one, unless the hints for the next box wows me.  I got a new PS Vita game coming, Fate/Extella: the Umbral Star.  That could be both a game review and unboxing as I got the collector’s edition.  Too bad Sony has given up on the Vita in the West and the games will dry out.  There is still PS4 games to review though and a backlog of PS Vita games I could delve into.  Then there are movies that I want to see:  Underworld 5, Aliens Covenant, Guardian of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, Avengers: Infinite Wars and Justice League all come out this year   Of course, the is Star Wars VII, coming in December 2017.  I also never got around to review Rogue One.  I may wait for the Blu-Ray release for that.

So, there is a lot more content that I could get to next year.  I hope I continue to entertain and maybe inform with this blog, though it might just be me.  So, brace yourself and gird your loins as we face whatever 2017 have in store for us.  We can make it if we stick together.

-James a.k.a. Xcalibar

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RIP Meeloo the Cat (2002?- 5 February 2016)

Yesterday was a sad day for me.  I had to say good-bye to a pet that has been with me for 12 years..  Meeloo was my first cat and my first pet I had with Chantale, though I knew the cat before I met her.  She had definitely  left her mark on me as I would have not called myself a cat person before I took ownership of her.  I still would not call myself that, but, she was a dear pet that I have fond memories of.

Meeloo has an unusual fondness for boxes
Meeloo has an unusual fondness for boxes
I first met Meeloo as I moved into a townhouse with a friend from work.  As I was unpacking, she came in, sniffed at me, meowed and left.  I guess she was sizing me up to see if I was a threat.  Once I was fully moved in, she would greet me each morning by the bathroom and we were have a conversation of sorts.

Me:  Good morning cat.

Meeloo:  Meow.

Me:  You good?

Meeloo: Meow.

Me:  I’ll feed you after my shower.

Meeloo:  Meow.

She’d then head downstairs and wait.  My roommate thought I was a bit crazy talking to the cat but I didn’t mind.  It became a morning routine with the cat.

About 6 months after moving in, my roommate moved out and left the cat.  I had been dating Chantale for a few months and she came to live with me.  I don’t think Meeloo liked her at first.  She was a bit stand-offish and did not like to be touched.  She also had some bad habits, like biting and pooping on the floor (the downstairs bathroom was her litter box for a while,) but we tried to get her out of those habits to various degrees of success.

Sleeping. She was really good at it.
Sleeping. She was really good at it.
Meeloo warmed up to Chantale in about a year.  She even warned her when the bedroom was flooded by a broken eavestrough  during a summer rain storm.  Chantale warmed to her too, being genuinely concerned when she fell out a second story window when the screen gave way.  Chantale rushed outside to see her on the grass, crouched on all fours, wondering where she was.  Meeloo was an indoor cat but she was always wondering what was outside.

She even tried to escape sometimes.  Once, I found her in my gym bag, trying to go to work with me.  Luckily I noticed before I left home, and got her out of there.  Another time she ran out when I opened the door in our townhouse complex.  Imagine her shock when she saw nothing but doors!  She would have to be contend with looking outside the window for now.

Meeloo trying to go to work with me.
Meeloo trying to go to work with me.
Now, I said I was not a cat person.  I could have justified giving her up and taking her to the Humane Society.  But I didn’t.  I feel that, when you adopt a pet, you are responsible to that animal for its entire life.  Stories of people dropping the pets off at pounds or the side of the road or give the pet up to punish children anger me.  Allergies and bad reaction to babies I can understand but I still find it sad.  So, when it came time to move to Victoria, I took her with us.

Road Trip!
Road Trip!
Driving with a cat in a carrier in your back seat is an interesting experience, at least with Meeloo.  She would be quiet at first, but after a while, she would meow incessantly.  We would stop for food of a break and I would put here on a leash to let her stretch her legs.  Oh, the looks I got trying to walk a cat on a leash!  At night we would set her up at the hotel, with her food and litter and go out to eat.  When we  came back, she had eaten, done her business and was exploring the room.  The next morning, we would put her in the carrier and it started again.

Summer 09 004
Queen of her domain
Once in Victoria, I notice a change in her.  She became our cat and let us pet her and she would sometimes snuggle up to us.  We would still have the same morning ritual, her greeting me in the morning and me feeding her, but changed slightly.  I worked shift work and on occasion worked from the evening to 6:30 AM.  Meeloo would wait for me in the living room window and greet me as I walked in:

Meeloo:  Meow.

Me:  Morning, cat.  You want food??

Meelooo: MEOW!

Me;  Here you go. I’m off to bed.

She still had an obsession with the outside and wanted to go out.  For all I know, she could have been an outdoor cat a one point before as she was an adult even when my roommate got her.  I was not really sure of her age, guessing a birthdate of 2002 though she could have been 2 to 6 years older than that.  But she still seemed like a younger cat, then.  She would look out the windows, see the birds and “trill”, like a meow/purr combo.  She even like to see the deer.  She once got out and ran towards one but stopped short of it.  She seemed to be in awe.  The deer itself (tame and used to humans)  sniffed her them walked away.  She never went up to one again, but loved it when they were in the yard.

She loved to get under foot
She loved to get under foot
She also got loose a few times.  Once a winter storm knocked the power out in my neighbourhood for two days.  The power came on early Sunday morning, waking Chantale and I.  We went out for a late meal and came home afterwards.  After an hour. I noticed we hadn’t seem the cat.  She must have snuck out as we left or came home as I found her on the front step, meowing to come in.  When I opened the door, however, she ran off but into another cat who hissed at her.  She dropped down and I picked her up and took her inside.

Another time was during a spring storm.  Again, she snuck out as we came home from grocery shopping and we didn’t notice for hours.  Our neighbour came by, telling us she saw our cat huddled under the back step.  Sure enough, Meeloo was there, soaked and shivering.  I picked her up, brought her in and swaddled her in a towel.  And she let me.  Her limit for affection was usually a few minutes before she got bitey, but she let me dry her off  and hold her for few hours.  She even let me rub her belly after that.

Soon, we had to move again.  We went back to Kingston and bought a house.  But we decided to add to our family by getting a dog.  When we brought Azrael home, he was a 10 week old puppy, shy but curious.  As he explored his new home Meeloo came up to him.  With is stubbly tail wagging and went to sniff her and she bopped him in the nose with her paw.  For the longest time that’s how she greeted him.  Azrael thought that’s how you greet a cat and did it back.  When he got bigger, Meeloo found herself at a disadvantage.  Azrael so wanted to play and be her friend, but Meeloo’s age was beginning to show and she wanted very little to do with the dog.

My relationship with her changed too.  Dogs are more needy so Azrael got most of the attention.  Meeloo would prefer to hide until he was sleeping or outside.  I wouldn’t usually see her until after my shower, once I went to the kitchen to eat.

Me:  Morning, old girl.

Meeloo: Meow!

Me;  I gave you fresh food and water earlier.  You should be good.

Meeloo: MEOW!!

Me;  You dish is full!  Look-

I’d noticed that the dish was empty.  Azrael has snuck in and ate her food.  That’s okay because Meeloo would occasionally snack for his dish.  She would also what treats all the time, which we would withhold his she pooped on the floor instead of her litter box, which was often.  Luckily the poop was confined to the laundry room where her litter was.  This was nothing new:  old habits being hard to break.

Meeloo and Azrael in a quiet moment. World Peace never felt so close
Meeloo and Azrael in a quiet moment. World Peace never felt so close
Meeloo eventually learned to accept the dog.  Azrael would occasionally try to play with her but she’d meow and take off.  When he was calm, however, they would lay down near, but not quite beside each other.  They would sniff each other, sleep in the same bed as with each other (with us) and even exchanged licks.  I got a couple of pictures where they were sitting near each other .  Azrael really wanted to play more with his “sister,” but Meeloo was getting old.

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In 2014, I noticed how Meeloo was a bit slower getting up the stairs.  In 2015, she started to take longer to jump up on the couch, sometimes failing to jump up and walking away to avoid embarrassment (if cats could feel that.)  I’d brushed it off as her age catching up to her.  She was more affectionate thoug, laying next to me on the arm of the couch or crawling beside me on the bed, despite the dog being there.  She also was more demanding, pawing at door until someone got up and checked her dish (if she could see the bottom of her food dish, there wasn’t enough.) She’d even climb in the shower after we were done and lick the condensation off of the shower curtain.  Meeloo was still a demanding cat, but seemed full of life.

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Meeloo started to be more affectionate this past year.
On February 5th, I got at text from Chantale asking me to come straight home from work.  When I left that morning, it started off like the usual day.  I saw her in the bathroom after my shower.  She demanded her dish to be up to her standards.  The previous day she had crapped outside the laundry room, which wasn’t normal, but it could have been stuck to her fur.  She wandered off to sleep as I was about to go.  Chantale saw her too that morning, but she disappeared into one of the bedrooms.  At 2 PM, she saw Meeloo walk out of the spare bedroom, limping like her leg was cramped.  She hobbled into the room where I keep my kit.  Then she began meowing loudly. Chantale found her under an end table. She pooped herself and could not move her hind legs.  She was breathing rapidly and appeared to be in discomfort.  As we didn’t have a vet for her, we had to wait for the Pet hospital to open at 6 and too her there.  I figured that she wouldn’t be coming back. I thought I could handle it.

Meeloo's last night. Poor girl wasn't doing so well.
Meeloo’s last night. Poor girl wasn’t doing so well.
After taking a look, the vet said she might have had a heart attack.  Her heart was beating erratically and had a murmur.  She had fluid in her lungs.  Meeloo could move her legs due to a blood clot.  Medication could clear out the clots but her heart was bad and there was no guarantee of recovery.  I admit I teared up when I heard that, but I forced it down.  Not wanting her to suffer, Chantale and I agreed with the vet that euthanizing Meeloo was the most humane course of action.  I stayed close to her.  I whispered in her ear that she was a good kitty as they shaved a spot for the needle.  I stroked her head as they injected her to put her to sleep.  I felt her last breath leave her little body.  My friend, my cat, my beloved pet was gone.

 

I cried.  After the vet confirmed she passed on, I hugged Chantale, meaning to comfort her but seeking solace from her too.  I remember other pets that I have lost, wishing I was there with them when they, too, left this world.  A grown man, crying over a cat! But I did.  She was part of my life for 14 years.  She deserves a tear or two.

It’s been a day now.  Azrael has looked for her.  He was confused when we packed her dish away and move his dish to her spot.  He doesn’t quite understand wan his Mon and Dad are sad or where his older sister has gone.  I hope he remembers the kind moments he had with Meeloo.  I know Chantale will miss her, despite her occasional desire to kick the cat outside (I sure she feels the same about me, some times.)  I will miss her.  Her antics.  Her presence.  But most of all, I’ll miss our early morning conversations.  Azrael doesn’t stay too long after I take him out for his duties (unless I have toast) and he rarely talks back.  I like to think that if she could talk, once last time, she’d say she’ll miss us.  I know that I, that we all in this house, miss her.

Rest in peace, my friend.

2002ish - 2016
2002ish – 2016

What a Year! Musing on 2015 and what’s to come

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Well, as I write this there are only two days left in 2015.  It sure took a long time to get here.  Well, it took 363 days, but to me it seemed long.  The first four months dragged on the longest for me, being ‘out an about,’ but that was a good excuse to get back into blogging.

When you are away from home in an austere environment, it is easy to let it all get to you.  It is especially worse when you never really leave work, because you see the same people everywhere all day.  The best thing to do it to get into a routine.  My routine for those months was exercise, play video games and to blog about them.  I would pick a game that I was going to review, play it during the week, getting screenshots to use and write the blog Sunday evening.  I even bought new games online, sent them to my house and got my wife to send them to me.  I threw in a few books for variety and one personal post reflecting that I had this blog for 10 years. Sometimes I would think on what to post during the week as well.  This helped as a countdown until I go to return home, but it was more productive than marking the days on a calendar.  I even continued blogging after I returned, admittedly less often but I tried (and failed) for once a month,

So, this was a productive year for my blog.  In total, I posted 38 new posts this year, far surpassing the meager three I did in 2014.  Before this year, the most post per month I did was 15 in 2013, followed by 13 in 2006(!).  With the screenshot functions of the PS4 and PS Vita (and the Xbox One to a lesser extent) I can post pictures of the games I review which is awesome.  And I intend to keep this up in the new year.

Next year should offer a lot of things to review.  Movie-wise, we got Deadpool in February which looks to be fun.  March has the long-waited Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which looks promising, with the live-action team up of the iconic DC heroes., with Wonder Woman popping up to complete the Trinity.  Then we got Captain America: Civil War in May with Cap and Iron Man going head to head.  X-Men Apocalypse is looking good for June and we got a second DC movie in August, Suicide Squad, with Margot Robbie playing a crazy/hot Harley Quinn and Will Smith playing the “Freshest” Deadshot I have even seen.  With Doctor Strange and Gambit also coming out by years end.  2016 will be an interesting year for comic book movies.

Of course, there will be games.  Except for XCOM 2, there is not too much on my radar.  Street Fighter V looks to be a winner.  I’m sure there will be a few titles that will catch my eye as the year progresses, but I hope XSEED and NIS America port over some interesting games.  And I’m sure I’ll get the next Neptunia games(there even a Blanc-centric game, like Hyperdevotional Noire, coming out.)  And for the PS Vita, I have pre-order the Asia multi-language version (including English) of a certain volleyball/beach game similar featuring girls from a fighting game know for its advanced breast-jiggling simulation.

So 2016 should see this blog continue onto bigger, better things (if not bigger or better, there will certainly be something.)  To end 2015 on a high note this is the 100th post on this blog.  Thanks to anyone who bothers  to read this blog and my 15 followers (bots and all).  I would like to make a goal for next year:  at least 30 post by this time in 2016.  I’m sure I will come up with at least that many topics to post on.

 

Have a Happy New Year and see you all in 2016

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James, aka Xcalibar

10 Years… Of a Whole Lotta Nothing!

On this day, 7 April 2005, I did the first blog post on Xcalibar’s Space.  Back them, it was part of the Windows Live Spaces, which all got transferred to WordPress back in 2011.  I started this blog on a whim, just to write about what interested me.  I did my first review a few days later (on the PlayStation Portable/)  I tried to blog frequently, but life, as always, often makes you shift priorities.  So in the past ten years I have done 77 blog post.  77!  Not much of an output, that is for sure.

The past few years, I have tried to post more.  The PS Vita, with its screen shot capabilities, makes I easy to add photos from games without taking them from elsewhere.  I also find blogging fun.  Sometime it might be a while between games or I get too busy to blog, but I always come back.  Since the new year I have tried to do a post weekly, and even picked up new games to have something to review.  I got at least two new games to review for the next two posts (Criminal Girls and Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Blackheart) but I might not post again until May afterwards.  But this blog is still alive.

I will continue to post reviews of games, mostly PS VIta and PS4 (maybe even Xbox One, if I can get my hands on one) with the occasional book or movie review (and I plan on reviewing Avengers: Age of Ultron when it comes out.)  I will continue this as long as it is fun and I still find it fun.  It gives me an outlet to write (something that I wish I kept up)  and an excuse to buy and play games.

So I hope all ten (not all of you are bots, right?) of my followers have enjoyed the past few months.  Here’s to 10 years of blogging and lets hope I can break 100 posts before the end of the year…

Back from the Dead

I’ve been very bad when it comes to blogging.  I just don’t do it enough.  Not like anyone actually read this regularly (or at all) but, once again, I’m back on the horse.

What I want to to is do a review of the latest handheld from Sony, the PS Vita.  Well, I have one and I and putting it though its paces.  In a few days. I’ll post a review of it and some of the games that has come out for it.  It is fitting that The PS Vita brings me back to blogging.  The PSP was the first thing I reviewed when I started this blog 7 years ago.

So, watch out for my review of the Vita.  I may through in a look at the 3DS for kicks later.  And them I’ll probably abandon this blog again as my life priorities come first.  I intend to stick around, though.

Well, at least the Japadog was good…

I’m back from the game, well, I should slay the mauling of the Ottawa Senators by the Vancouver Canucks.  Now, I had little hope that the Sens would be able to beat them, but I did not foresee a 5-1 loss that was so painful to watch.  They took stupid penalties, gave up the puck a lot and only shot the puck at the goal 14 times the ENTIRE game..  I cringed as a guy would take it into the Canucks’s zone and try to pass to some slub that  wasn’t ready/paying attention.  I mean, when you are down 4-1, let alone 5-1, should you take as many chances as you can get.  The Offense was not there.  The Defence was horrible, leaving Leclaire at the Canuck’s mercy.  He did what he could but there were just too many give aways.

So, Ottawa has been my go-to team, but being from BC I like the Canucks.  I have a Western and an Eastern team.   The Canucks are doing good this year but the Sens haven’t returned from the Olympic break.  So, if the Ottawa Senators do not get their asses in gear and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in their next match up.  I am putting my Ottawa jerseys/flag away for the season.  Unless they make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, I am DONE with them for the year.  For now on, it’s the Canuck and ONLY the Canucks.

The Sens are giving me ulcers