Kingsman: The Secret Service

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KingsmanBlog

The Awesome:
– Posh Ass-kicking = Tickled by the idea of well-dressed, well-spoken people kicking butt and being awesome?  You’re in for a good time.

The Good:
– Fun = It’s fun.  It’s not dark, and even when it’s trying to be serious, it’s not that serious.  It’s pretty light-hearted and fast-paced, and has some good humor too.

The Bad:
– Main Character Hallpass = The main character does things that would be unbelievable, but the audience/movie gives him a hallpass because he’s the main character.  If you really start thinking on some of these scenarios though, it can make you go, “huh?”

– Plot Hole = The twist/reveal at the end is fun, but if you give it some thought, you realize it’s also probably a plot hole.

Verdict = Doesn’t need to be seen in a theater, but worth the watch.  There is blood and violence, but it’s not of the gore-and-entrails-horror variety; it’s more humorous/purposeful.  There is also nudity, but all you see if a back and a butt; not very scandalous.  Overall, an entertaining watch.

Jolly good show.

Jolly good show.

!!! Spoilers Below !!!

Okay, now for the spoilers that will elaborate on the two “Bad” points I felt the movie had.

– Main Character Hallpass = As Eggsy is fighting his way through Valentine’s base, and again when confronting his mother’s abusive boyfriend, he is shown to have amazing fighting skillz.  How?  When did that happen?  Yes, he was in training/testing for a while, but not long enough to gain that level of skill.  Also, in a base full of super spies and spy tech, trainee Eggsy was the only one to notice that Arthur was a traitor/bugged?

– Plot Hole = Arthur is revealed to be in league with Valentine.  Once Arthur joined up with Valentine, why wasn’t he trying harder to sabotage the Kingsmen’s efforts to stop him?

2014 Mazda3

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For the most part, this blog will be for reviewing things one might enjoy on a lazy day: movies, video games, junk food, etc.  However, occasionally I will review something else, and today is one of those days.  This week marks the one-year anniversary of my 2014 Mazda3 iSport, and I will write a review of my opinion of the car now that I’ve owned it for a year.

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Bias = The only other car I have owned was a 1992 Honda Accord.  My experience with other cars is limited, so my review will all be based on internet information, my brief experiences while car shopping, and my former ownership of a ‘92 Accord.

My first car accident was on January 7, 2015 in my Mazda3.  The accident was partially due to the A-frame pillar blind spot.  I will expand on this after the rest of the review.

The Awesome:
+ Exterior styling = This car is sexy looking.  It has a sleek, stylish look that sets it apart from many of its boring or just plain ugly competitors.  It also has a longer-than-average nose/front that is actually visible while driving; many modern cars have fronts no longer visible to the driver.

+ MPG = I average about 32 MPG during my normal commute, which consists of roughly 60% city driving and 40% highway driving.

The Good:
+ Safety Rating = The 2014 Mazda3 has top ratings in all crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

+ Driving Experience = The gas pedal is fairly responsive; not quite as responsive as a Honda, but is more responsive than, say, a Nissan.  It has decent feedback and handling with some road noise, so there is a definite, solid feel of driving a car.  It is a nice medium between the cheap cars and the more luxurious ones (like the creepily-smooth Accord).

+ Interior Materials = The majority of plastics are “soft-touch” plastics instead of the hard, scratchy/textured plastics found in some other cars.  The door sill is soft-touch for when you rest your elbow own it, and the actual door handle/armrest is padded.  This puts the Mazda above cars with cheaper feeling materials, like the lower trim Nissan Altimas and the old Honda Fits (2013 and older).

+ Simple Dashboard = With all the gadgets modern cars come with, their dashboards are often very cluttered and busy.  The M3’s dashboard is simple and less distracting.

The Bad:
Ugly Radio = People have said the radio looks like an add-on or afterthought.  Instead of being set in the dashboard like most radios, it sticks out the top of it.  The unusual design might make it hard to replace later if need be.

Easily Marked Plastics = The downside to the interior plastics is that they seem to scratch/scuff easily, and that the imperfections are more visible than I’d like.  I am not particularly abusive/tough on car interiors, so I have some concern about how the interior would look after five years or so years of use.

Small Trunk = Compared to some of its competitors, the M3 is on the lower end when it comes to trunk space.  The shape of the trunk opening can also prevent putting larger items in the trunk that would otherwise fit.

Head Rests = The headrests are angled forward in an attempt to prevent whiplash.  However, the angle is severe enough as to be very uncomfortable during regular driving.  The headrests cannot be moved forward and back, only up and down.

The Ugly:
Level of Tech = Compared to its main competitors, the lower-trim M3’s are lacking in tech/features.   For example, the Honda Civic has a backup camera standard on its lowest trim level, but the M3 does not include one until its 3rd trim level.  Mazda’s blind spot monitoring system – a safety feature frequently raved about in car reviews – is also not available until the 3rd level trim.

Blind Spots = The thick A-frame pillars create forward blind spots which are particularly noticeable when turning or pulling out into intersections.  The blind spot is big enough to hide an entire car in intersections.

The Verdict = Knowing what I know now, would I still buy the Mazda3 if I went back in time?  Maybe.  It would depend on if I could find a comparatively-priced car with smaller forward-driving blind spots.  I still think the Mazda3 is a good car, but I’m not sure it was the best choice for me.

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FML

What you see above is the result of my January 2015 accident, which occurred in part when I failed to see a car in my A-frame forward blind spot.  The accident occurred at speeds of less than 15 mph, no airbags were deployed, and no injuries were sustained.  However, the estimated damage to my car was a little over $7,200.  I only had to pay $250 with insurance, but still, that’s a lot of damage for a little accident.

I appreciate the Mazda’s good safety/crash test ratings, but I’d rather avoid getting in an accident in the first place.  To that end, I now feel less safe in my Mazda thanks to the A-frame blind spots.  I have written a letter to Mazda await their response.

Update: Mazda sent me form letter saying they regretted to hear about my accident, and that “my concerns would be passed to their research team.”  Nothing else was said or done.  I traded in my Mazda3 for a 2015 Honda Fit; you can read my initial impressions here.

Marvel Heroes

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Video games are a popular hobby with the sloth-at-heart crowd.  I would not label myself a gamer because I do not play a wide variety of games, and I am not especially good at any of the games that I do play.  Still, I figured my reviews might be of interest, especially to other leisurely players.

One of the few games that I play is Marvel Heroes.  In this review I will review Marvel Heroes as a game, and in later reviews I will review the individual heroes/characters that I play.

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Bias: I like superheroes and I like Marvel.  The only other games I’ve played with leveling systems are Pokemon and RAGNAROK, so my gaming experience is very limited.

The Awesome:
Superheroes = The Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men; they’re all here.  If you want the chance to fight baddies with lasers, guns, swords, and magic, all the while wearing a fantastic costume, here’s your chance.

Easy Combat = For those of you that do not like button-mashing – like me – rejoice!  Attacks are bound to keys A-H, with one attack per key, plus a right-click and left-click attack.  No button combos required.

The Good:
Free-to-Play = The game is a free download, your first hero is free, and in-game currency lets you buy more heroes without spending money.  Decent gear is relatively easy to find without having to pay, even at higher levels.

Character Choices = There are over 40 of heroes to play, and as far as I know, every character has at least once alternate costume you can purchase (for real money).  Some heroes – Iron Man, Spiderman, etc. – have several costumes.  There are also “team-ups,” which function as a sort of side-kick or partner for your character, and are often characters that may not get their own playable version (Groot, Agent Coulson, etc).

Not Grind-y = Grinding – AKA fighting low or mid level enemies to level up your character – gets old fast in most games.  Luckily, Marvel Heroes doesn’t require a lot of grinding.  Playing through the story offers a decent amount of experience points, and special levels/zones offer faster leveling.

The Bad:
Free is Slow = Although all heroes can technically be purchased with in-game currency, accumulating said currency is slow.  At my leisurely play speed, I’d be lucky to earn enough in-game currency to buy more than 3-4 heroes a year.

Wallet Leech = If you are anything like me, you will find it very hard to resist the temptation to spend money in this game.  Alternate costumes are fun, and the buy-one-get-one-free hero sales are difficult to resist.  Plus you don’t get a lot of free storage space, and what you do get fills up quickly.

The Ugly:
– Chat System = The in-game chat interface is bad.  There is no button to toggle it on/off, meaning you have to click.  Considering that your mouse is used for moving, aiming, and basic attacks, this gets irritating fast.  You can’t use the chat function during a fight unless you want to die.

Verdict: Worth trying out at the very least since it’s free.  There’s plenty enough free to stuff to keep you entertained and give you a fulfilling experience without having to pay.  And if you do decide to spend some money, you have a world of possibilities.