Category Archives: Wii

They all have something to offer

Every November, Gail and some of her friends do a scrapbooking getaway weekend in Collingwood. They leave their husbands and kids behind, rent a chalet for the weekend and spend the whole time scrapbooking and chatting, go out for a nice dinner on Saturday night, and one year they even managed to arrange for someone to come to the chalet and give massages and pedicures. They look forward to this weekend all year, and on more than one occasion, Gail has suggested that the guys get together and do something similar (though likely involving golf rather than scrapbooking). We agreed that it was a good idea, but in typical guy fashion, none of us ever got off their ass and actually did anything about it.

Last November when the girls were away, they decided to book the same chalet for us on Father’s Day weekend as a Father’s Day gift. They kept it a secret from us for six months — I found out about it a little over a week ago. On Friday afternoon, six of us arrived at the chalet near the base of Blue Mountain. Jeff’s wife sent up a bunch of food — shrimp, burgers, hot dogs, snacks, a veggie tray, dips, and even breakfast stuff like cereal, bagels, and yogurt. Each of us brought up some of our favourite “frosty beverages”, and luckily someone was smart enough to bring up a case of water. The girls had booked a tee time for Saturday as well, so in addition to our golf clubs, we brought some cards and poker chips, Jeff brought his XBox 360, Mike brought his Wii, and Mike and I each brought our Guitar Hero guitars. As it turned out, the XBox never even got unpacked, and only one Wii game was played all weekend.

Friday evening we fired up the Wii to give Guitar Hero a try. Steve, Mike, Doug and I had played it a lot, Paul had played it a couple of times, but Jeff had never even seen it. Jeff can master just about any video game in minutes, so within a couple of hours, he was trying (and doing well at) the medium difficulty level. We took a break to barbecue some burgers, and then headed out to a nearby driving range, since most of us had yet to hit a golf ball this year. After that, we played some cards for a while, then back to Guitar Hero until one by one, the guys grew sleepy and went to bed.

We had tee-off times set for 9:40 and 9:50 the next morning at nearby Monterra. Steve, Doug, and myself made up the first group, while Jeff, Paul, and Mike teed off after us. We got carts, but because it had been so wet this past week, we had to stay on the cart paths. This was a bit of a problem for me, since the cart paths almost always went up the right side of the fairway, and as a left-handed golfer, my ball frequently ended up on the left side. So I’d end up driving the cart partway up the fairway, walking across the fairway, hitting my shot, then walking back to the cart and driving further up (sometimes not very far) before walking back across the fairway again. Monterra is a very nice course, and although there were a ton of bunkers, I only ended up in the sand a couple of times. I did lose a few balls in the woods and in the water (including three on a single hole), but I played OK. My driving was pretty decent and my short game was better than usual. My putting is usually the strongest part of my golf game, and it wasn’t terrible on Saturday, but just wasn’t quite up to snuff. I had two birdie putts on the day, but ended up bogeying both of them and finished the day with no pars or birdies. I play three or four times a year, usually in scramble-format golf tournaments, so I don’t remember the last time I played a full 18 holes. We were all pretty wiped out by the end of the round.

After golf, we went back to the chalet for some much-anticipated showers (it was pretty warm, but not stifling — pretty close to perfect golf weather, actually), and a little more Guitar Hero before heading back into the Blue Mountain village for dinner at a restaurant called Kaytoo. The food was very good though a little pricey. I had the ribs and found them rather fatty, but the steaks that some of the guys had looked pretty good. The atmosphere was great, however, and we had an absolutely wonderful server named Alison. She took care of us from the moment we sat down, gave us food and drink suggestions, and when we half-jokingly asked her what we could get for her, she said that she was allowed to have shots with customers. We asked what she liked, and she said tequila, so she had a tequila shot with us. I also enjoyed a “depth charge”, aka “Dr. Pepper” — pour beer and Coke into a large glass, then fill a shot glass with Amaretto. Drop the entire shot glass into the large glass and drink the whole thing. I haven’t had one of those in many many years. Anyway, back to Alison — I wouldn’t say she was flirting with us, exactly, but she was certainly attentive. We all knew full well that she was essentially playing us for a big tip — her attentiveness was not because she found the six of us (all fortyish greying and/or balding men) sexy, but because she knew that we’d find her attention flattering and tip her well. And she was right. But we spent almost four hours at Kaytoo, and had a fantastic time at dinner. Alison, if you’re reading this, thank you once again.

After dinner, it was back to the chalet for some Texas Hold-Em, which I inexplicably won. Unfortunately, we weren’t playing for money, so my payoff was simply bragging rights, but hey, that’s worth something. Two people had already gone to bed by the time the game ended, and the rest of us soon followed.

This morning was spent cleaning up, packing up, and playing a few last games of Guitar Hero, and then we headed home. The six of us have known each other for at least fifteen years, and some well over twenty. I lived with Jeff and Steve in residence in first year university (1987-88), and I ended up living with Jeff all the way through university, and with Steve again in third and part of fourth year. Jeff was best man at my wedding, Doug was best man at Jeff’s, and Paul and I were also in Jeff’s wedding party. Paul was the MC for both my wedding and Jeff’s, and Mike played the piano at my wedding as well. Paul, Jeff, and Doug all went to high school together. Notably missing was Faisal, who was also in my wedding party, and with whom I also lived throughout university, and have known since grade nine (1982). Fais was at a conference in Quebec City, so hopefully he will be able to make it next year. These guys are my best friends in the world, and I look forward to many more of these Father’s Day weekends in the future. Guys, we said it a number of times this past weekend — we should have gotten off our butts and organized one of these things years ago.


I continue to rock

I got Guitar Hero III for the Wii for Christmas, and as I found with Guitar Hero II, I rock. I played a bunch of different songs on easy mode and I must say, I kicked serious ass. During Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, I blew the very first note, than hit the next 170 in a row, then messed up two more in the solo, than nailed the rest of the song. I missed three notes out of about 275. I was over 90% on every song, and over 95% on most. I might just be the world’s greatest Guitar Hero III player.

On easy mode, anyway.

After getting all cocky, I played one song on the medium difficulty level, and my inflated ego started to deflate back down to it’s normal size. I think I was still over 90% on that song (but only just), but it was significantly more difficult than easy mode, and I had to work a lot harder. I’ll have to play a few more songs on that mode, but someone at work did confirm that the jump from easy mode to medium mode is pretty big. I haven’t tried hard or expert modes yet, but I should probably at least try those before I crown myself king.

The game is seriously cool. Not only is there a whammy bar (which I use far more often than the on on my real guitar), but you can do hammer-ons and pull-offs, and even play chords. No sliding though. The graphics are cool — if you have time to look at anything other than the streams of notes coming at you, you can see the guitar player playing the song (i.e. strumming at the right time and such — haven’t checked to see if the fingering is correct), and the singer’s mouth is even sync’ed to the lyrics.

I read an article once where the author wondered if the next generation of guitar players might be starting out now with Guitar Hero, and I don’t think it’s all that far off. Obviously you will not learn how to play the actual guitar or read music or anything like that by playing this game, but it’s pretty good for teaching rhythm and it’s good as a finger exercise as well.

We also got Mario Galaxy and Lego Star Wars for the Wii, and I haven’t quite finished Super Paper Mario yet, but I’m not sure how much playing of anything other than GHIII I’ll be doing in the next while…

Apparently, I Rock

Someone at work brought in an XBox the other day, and we played Guitar Hero II at lunch time. I had heard a lot about this game, but had never played it. It’s kind of like Dance Dance Revolution, except that instead of stepping on a particular part of the floor pad, you hit buttons on a “guitar”. Holy crap, was that a lot of fun. I did three songs: You Really Got Me (Van Halen’s version), Message in a Bottle by the Police, and finished off with a tougher one, Iron Maiden’s The Trooper. After every song, it came up and said “You Rock!”, though I’m not sure if that’s a rating of my performance, or just what it says when you’re done. A couple of people were watching, and they said I did really well — I hit over 90% of the notes on all three songs, got 100% in numerous passages (though I only did about 75% during the solo in The Trooper), hit 160 notes in a row in Message, and ended up with over 100,000 points in The Trooper, which, apparently, is very good.

I don’t have an XBox, and I doubt I’ll buy one just for this, but if this game comes out for the Wii, I’m there.


I have been looking for a Wii for several Wiiks (everyone reading this is thinking “Oh, please don’t start with the Wii jokes, they are Wii-lly annoying”) months now, and have had no luck. I’ve called numerous stores numerous times, and they’re always sold out, and nobody knows when they’re getting any more. The other day, a guy at work, aListair (he always capitalizes the L) emailed me that the EB Games near him had a couple of consoles, and would I like for him to grab me one. Rather than asking where it was and getting off my lazy ass and going there myself, I just said sure and let him do my legwork for me. He went on his way to work, and came by my office yesterday morning with a Wii console. You da man aListair!

I set it up last night (no internet yet, maybe this weekend), and played a few games after the kids went to bed (by the time I got it set up, it was bedtime; it’s not like I waited until they were in bed). I bought Wii Play on the way home, which is $59, but comes with a free controller! Well, it turns out that a more accurate description would be that it’s a $49 controller that comes with a $10 game. The game itself is pretty good for practicing using the remote, but not much else. Wii Sports is much better — it turns out that I’m a bowling expert. Who knew? I figured out quickly that because of the way I throw it, the ball always spins to the left, so I managed to compensate for that, and did pretty well. I didn’t manage to figure out why it goes to the left in the first place, but as long as you can compensate for it, it doesn’t much matter. Hey, that’s the same as my golf game!

We also rented some games from Blockbuster — Cars and Super Paper Mario. I never managed to figure Cars out, but I thought about it later, and I think you have to turn the remote sideways. I looked at Super Paper Mario as well, but the opening sequence (telling you the story) is, as aListair put it “very very very very very very verbose”, so after a while I just went back to Wii Sports.

This morning, I read an article on how the Wii shortage “could last months”. Thanks again aListair!