Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away earlier today, he was in his mid 40's.

For me, it's a reminder of how fragile our bodies can be. We think we know what's going to happen, what our limits may be, but there's no telling what the future may hold. They say the future is in our hands, but I disagree. We can shape what our future may be, but there's no way to fully control it.

Death scares me. Some times I think about it and get shivers down my spine, that unusual feeling of emptiness when I think about what might happen. I don't want to know what's on the other side, if indeed there is one, because where I am now is exactly where I want to be. I don't want to leave this world the way it is now, there's a lot of things I'm yet to accomplish, places I haven't been yet. I hope, to some degree, I can hang around for a long time yet.

On another point, it's not always easy to understand what anyone may be going through, but the fact remains that we all have our own ways in dealing with life itself. Sometimes it gets us into trouble, other times much worse. I know a lot of you who read this have days where everything feels like it's against you, no matter what you try to do. I want you to know that failure shouldn't be a word on your mind. We may make mistakes or do something wrong, but that isn't failure. Failure is only if you've exhausted every possible situation or tried everything that's available to you but nothing comes of it, and even then that isn't failure at all. Because every little step you take, no matter how small, is an element of success.

We all set goals, wants and needs, dreams. They can all be attained, maybe not the way you initially envision, but it can happen. Patience is a virtue, after all.



There's a lot going on right now, some random some not, significant all the same. It's scary, a stark reminder that some things cannot be controlled no matter what you do.

I feel as if I can do more. Not my career, I know what I have to do there. I mean with everyone else around me. I feel as if I'm supposed to do something, but I don't know what it is. Maybe I care too much, I've thought of that often over the years. Maybe I don't care enough, I don't know. 

The thing is, I see people around me and I feel like I can do more for them. Is it wrong to think like that? Am I trying to push myself into other people's lives thinking I can be something, when I'm something I'm not? 

Maybe it's because I've had my fair share of pain over the years too, that it's a preventative measure I'm trying to pursue, to stop others from feeling what I felt. The more smiles I can put on the faces of others, the better they feel and the better I feel too. 

We can't have everything we want, that much is true. But that doesn't mean we can't try to reach for it, attain it. I'm close to reaching my goals, I can see it getting closer with each passing day. But if I can't help my friends reach goals of their own, then I feel like I've failed.

I don't pretend to know everything either. All I can do is try.


Get That Motor Running

So far this week I have submitted two queries to two different literary agents, with the plan being to submit to five at a time. I've also drafted a new poem, started a new article for Pixels for Breakfast, started a new short story for an upcoming competition and begun editing another short story for the Secret Santa Initiative.

Considering how much I've tried to do in the last few months, that's a considerable step forward in just three days.

I made myself a promise that I would put in the time to write more, so far so good I think. The key is finishing off the things I've started, like the editing and such, whilst waiting responses from the first few agents I've submitted to. I'm following some advice from a few authors, seeing what other things I can do in the meantime.

More importantly, it's about repairing my confidence. The more I write, the more I get out there. The more I get out there, the more likely I'll be able to make progress this year.

Also, now I have a picture of a webcam in a vest in my head ... because I'm in'vest'ing in a new one. Blame Melody :p


Gone and Forgotten

Bad memories are just that, but it's how you deal with them and learn from them that defines you. Personally, I haven't dealt with them very well of late and that's been holding me back. I've lost my way and it's been a struggle to find my way back.

But maybe I've turned a corner. This past week hasn't been kind to me health wise but it's given me time to think, leading to a long conversation or two about where I am and what I want to do. I admit, I hate conversing, I hate trying to communicate what's going on in my head because there are times when even I don't understand it. But it was needed, it was warranted.

So now I need to refocus. Not everything will go my way, I know that, but I have to try. I'm looking at finding a literary agent, that's the first step of many. But first, I need to kickstart this blog and find my voice. I'm creative and, yes, I ramble a bit and my editing skills need work, but creativity drives me. It defines me.

So I'm pushing forward through the scrub and the dirt. It will be slow and cumbersome but that's part of the challenge, after all. Those bad memories will be gone and forgotten with time, I just have to keep reminding myself of that.


Iron Man 3 Review - Glorious

The following review contains spoilers. Seriously, watch the movie first. You have be warned.

I wanted to share my love of the latest Marvel Studios adventure, largely because there's a few things that I've since picked up on since The Avengers last year that I feel I should talk about. You know, being a fanboy and all.

But let's start at the top. I had high hopes for Iron Man 3, largely because of the change in the directors chair. Shane Black, who's previous work includes scripting Lethal Weapon and directing one of my favourites, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (in which Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr. stars in). It seemed like a match made in heaven when the announcement was made, a director who not only knew the primary star but had a knack for writing witty dialogue.

The good news is, Black has delivered. Not only does he continue a few of his little trademarks (such as setting the movie during Christmas and the always important kidnapping), but Black has also hit home the key points of what makes Iron Man great and cranked them up a notch or two compared to the previous two in the series. So much so, in fact, that it eclipses them in both tone and character development, something that was sadly missing during The Avengers.

The fact remains that after three movies, you have to find another angle to make Tony Stark stand out, which is exactly what's been done. Having survived the alien attack on New York, Stark has since become entrenched in his work even more than before, building more complex and different armour sets in response to the new threat on the human race, and the imminent threats that may follow. He's worked himself so hard that panic attacks threaten not only his sanity, but his relationship with his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his best bud James Rhodes (Don Cheadle, aka War Machine, though here he's been rebranded Iron Patriot).

Stark's sudden realisation of what's out there has turned his life upside down, though while the universe keeps turning the Earth continues to bring up threats of its own. Enter The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who I guess you could call Marvel's Osama Bin Laden, though that's an unfair assumption to make considering the character was a primary villain of Iron Man's universe years ago in comic lore. The reflection of modern terrorism, however, is as clear as day. Mandarin, however, isn't the real threat here, which is a little disappointing given the rivalry both have had over the years on the page. Just like Batman Begins, the character has been altered to fit within a different ideal. Thankfully, that change works wonders.

The other threat is A.I.M, led by Aldrich Killian (another great performance by Guy Pearce), who's initial interest is selling a new concept called Extremis, the ability to alter the mind for the better. Of course, as villains do, his plans are much broader than that as the movie settles into its rhythm to explain this new threat.

There's a few things that differ IM3 from its predecessors. For one, Tony Stark has an opening and closing voiceover to help explain the setting. There's also an opening flashback scene which not only introduces us to an earlier Tony and Happy Hogan (great to see him there), but also some very welcome touches that not only fill us in on the story to come, but also some nods to Iron Man's eventual creation (I actually won't spoil this, but hopefully you'll see what I mean, I smiled very broadly).

It's a slow pace at first, though once the action kicks in about a third of the way through (i.e. the end of act one) it barely lets up from there. Tony's life is turned completely upside down as the Mandarin attacks his home and threatens the life of the US President, among other things, whilst almost all of Tony's close friends are left in disarray for one reason or another.

It's here we also get to see another side of Tony, one lovingly crafted and acted by both Downey and a young counterpart who finds Stark in his parents garage, broken Iron Man armour and dented pride barely intact. The dialogue sparks between the two with little jabs and jokes, which helps to allow the audience to breath and laugh just a little considering the action sequences prior to it. It's a welcome addition to the characters development, as I said it's something that was sorely needed given the very little amount seen in Iron Man 2 and Avengers itself. To watch Tony out his comfort zone completely, stressing out about what to do only for a kid to give him advice ... it's refreshing, if nothing else.

The rest of the movie is typical action fare, though it's meaning is stronger than most. We see what Extremis is really capable off, and thanks to some well crafted visual effects it's stunning to watch. It's a shame, really, that more couldn't have been done to link the technology to Stark as in the graphic novel it's based on, but what's here is exciting. I'm just glad Tony not only gets to battle someone equal to him that's NOT in another power suit, but he also gets to use his smarts outside of a suit itself in order to get passed his adversaries. Kinda felt like a cross between Iron Man and James Bond with all his gadgets there for a while.

If I do have a gripe with IM3, it's the Mandarin. Such a strong character and a scene stealing performance by the seasoned Kingsley, but the results are far beyond what we've come to expect of Stark's greatest rival (and what I kinda hoped). The fact that he's a ruse, an actor thrown into the fray to cover for Killian, is a little disappointing. Understandable, but disappointing. It's like Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins, a character portrayed very differently than what we as fans are used to, but it's understandable as to why they went that direction. It does make sense, in fact it's a little more humorous than I was expecting, but the dialogue and the eventual reveal of Killian's true persona make up for any gripes I did have with Mandarin's portrayal.

The final act is brimming with action that is deserving of the Iron Man name. Again, there's no bad guys in battle suits, the threat is much greater for our hero than just a man out for revenge (granted Killian does have that in mind, but it's not just directed at Tony this time, unlike both Iron Monger and Whiplash) and the supporting roles have a much more important and welcome role to play. It's great to see Rhodes and Potts get involved, and even Jarvis has some wonderful moments as hundreds of suits fly in around the battleground.

A few minor things I noted that a few others may have overlooked. I'm actually very grateful that S.H.E.I.L.D play absolutely no part in the story, not even a cameo. It wasn't necessary, though there are various references to the New York incident across the story, so I was relieved that there was no Fury or Maria Hill in sight.

Also, of all three Iron Man movies, this has to be the strongest musical score of the lot. I have a soft spot for the first movie's original score, but the Iron Man theme here booms and resonates as a theme that sticks in your head in the same way the Avengers theme did, though perhaps even more than that.

Lastly, how cool was it to see Happy Hogan get some welcome character development! I was worried that he would be left behind considering the change in the director's chair, but there was a ton of Jon Favreau and it was awesome to see.

So what next? IM3 ends with a 'Tony Stark will return', but in what capacity? Certainly in Avengers 2, but will it be his last appearance? Will Downey hang up the armour for good? Personally I believe Iron Man as a standalone series can happily come to an end here, hence the final scenes and the end credits sequence. But it's the AFTER credits sequence that makes me grin in anticipation, that Tony will still play an important role during Phase 2 and 3 of Marvel's movie plans but possibly in a smaller capacity, cameos here and there before major roles in the Avengers sequels proper.

I've kept you long enough, this is actually a little too big an article and I've still got more to say, but I'll do that in a separate article later. For now, see Iron Man 3 and enjoy it. It's fantastic fun and highly enjoyable, and it bodes me with confidence for Thor: The Dark World this November. Phase 2 has begun with an almighty bang.


While 16Bit is Away, Mark Will Play

Yes, if you haven't noticed, 16bitaudit has been going through some visual changes and updates, which means I haven't posted any news or articles this week as I wait for the fresh coat of paint to dry. So I thought I'd quickly post up here to give you a brief preview of what I'm working on:

* A full review of the Nintendo 3DS XL. It's big, it's bright, and it's (almost) perfect.

* A preview/rant of the upcoming, newly announced TV series S.H.I.E.L.D., and what it means to the Marvel Universe and video games.

* A movie review of big bad ultimate blast fest, Expendables 2.

* And a rant about double dipping Blu-Ray releases, as Avengers makes its home video debut.

I'll also be taking a look at the upcoming Nintendo 3DS releases, including the next (and possibly last) adventure for Professor Layton, and what might be on the horizon.

Meanwhile on IGM Mobile, keep an eye out for some exciting new articles by yours truly, where I show my iOS side to the fullest extent.

All in all, exciting times ahead.


Why Mario means so much ... maybe ...

You know Mario, right? Fat italian guy who wears a lot of red? Has a perfectly moulded moustache? Loves jumping on turtles? Saves the same girl over and over and over again?

Seriously, if you don't know what I'm talking about by now, there's something desperately wrong with you.

I've been playing Mario games for a long time now, and every time I think I've had enough of the plucky plumber and his Bowser killing antics, there's just something about him that drags me right back into that world, jumping and fireballing my way through level after level of the same old classic thing.

And that's part of the problem I know I'm going to have with New Super Mario Bros.

Maybe I've just been spoiled by the indie scene, or by Ubisoft's revitalisation of Rayman, but I'm a little concerned about Mario's future. Loveable guy he may be, but the New Super franchise doesn't seem to have the same level of creativity and enjoyment as some of the other titles in the long standing series, especially having played the first two on DS and Wii.

Yes, no doubt I'll still buy the 3DS New Super Mario 2 that's due out Saturday locally, and more than likely the Wii U launch edition will be on my shopping list. I'll probably even enjoy them, to a point. But I've noticed a rather disturbing trend, an almost 'cash in on the name' kind of trend that's become a constant thorn in every gamers side within this console generation. I'm not the only one who's noticed this, of course, but considering how important Nintendo considers its Mario franchise, it's a little sad to think the plumber is just going by the book now instead of pushing the boundaries that so often infused every iteration of his adventures.

Cast your mind back a few months ago, and everyone was going on about how enjoyable Super Mario 3D Land was, a perfect example of 3D design combined with classic Mario platforming of both the 2D era and the 3D, Mario Galaxy era. As great as that was, however, it's hard to overlook that despite the addition of true 3D without glasses, the title itself was mishmash of old ideas. Ye old racoon tail, flag poles, even the Bowser kid boss battles. Sure, all Mario titles have done the same in the past, but since Mario Galaxy, it's almost as if Nintendo has truly run out of ideas.

And that's a big shame if it's true.

There's a silver lining, though. The Wii U has plenty of potential, and knowing Nintendo they'll find a way to profit from it. But maybe, just maybe, the console could also provide an outlet for a true next gen Mario experience, and I'm not just talking visually. Mario Galaxy got it right, balancing the old with the really brand spanking new (hehe, spanking) thanks to the use of gravity and planets that defined each unique level. Nintendo would have to introduce a mechanic as unique as that to bring in the masses if the series, let alone the console, is going to reach the lofty heights Galaxy set.

And that's not going to happen with New Super. Nostalgia is one thing, but Nintendo aren't the only ones pulling the 8bit heartstrings anymore, especially when you've got the now exclusive Rayman Legends by Team Awesome French Dudes *ahem* Ubisoft leading the Wii U launch lineup, and a host of indie and IOS platform titles at near free prices stealing the limelight.

I'll always buy Mario games. It's just one of those franchises I could never say no to. Just count me down as one of the worried few who are holding out for the next big Mario adventure that really mixes things up. Besides, there's only so many times I can rescue the Princess before I say 'screw it, keep her Bowser. I'll go find cake with my Portal gun instead.'