Friday, July 20, 2012

Top Three TMNT Games of All Time

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been involved with video games for over 20 years and had their share of ups and downs. Some games were clunky, but others were done right. These are their top three video games:

# 3 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade

This game was originally released in arcades back in 1989. It was so successful that they re-released on the Xbox 360 in 2007. The story begins with April O'Neil being kidnapped and the turtles have to rescue her. The graphics were top notch at the time. The fact that you could have four people playing at once was a big reason why this game was popular and so much fun to play.

The best TMNT games were based off of this game engine. Without this game the TMNT game franchise could of failed.

The only downside was spending all those quarters...

# 2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist

In 1992 TMNT was in full swing. The fan base was booming and toys were flying off the shelves. Sega Genesis was able to not only get a turtle game, they were able to get an exclusive. Hyperstone Heist still had the same plot as most turtles game, but the levels were harder.

The reason why the levels were harder was because of faster movement and more aggressive enemies. Sega was advertised as the more adult system. Their mascot is a speedy hedgehog. It seems only fitting that this game would be faster than the others.

Another unique feature about Hyperstone is that it was the only game to feature Rocksteady as an enemy character without his partner Bebop.

#1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

This should be no surprise to anyone. Turtles in Time is rated the best TMNT game of all time. It was originally an arcade game, but soon found its way onto the home console. In the arcade it was with four players, but on the Super Nintendo it was with two players.

The reason why this game was so successful was because the mechanics were designed right. The graphics were sharper than before, and the ability to throw enemies at the screen was different.
In the previous Turtle games the levels you had were: sewers, cities and the technodrome. This game allowed you to travel through time. You fought in unique levels, including prehistoric times.

Aside from the main story mode, you also had two other options of gameplay. The first was the time trail. Long before trophies were around gamers had to use scores and time for bragging rights. Time trial mode offered just that.

Another option of gameplay was the battle mode. You could battle your friends with your favorite TMNT character. It was nothing great, but it was amusing for a few rounds. 

What made this game great was the fan service. They had characters from both the TV series and the movie.
In addition to the great gameplay it had good music. Music and video games go hand-in-hand. When music is written right, it can become a classic.

The developers even added humor. You could get smashed, burned, frozen , but perhaps the best was stepping on something sharp. It was rather funny to see your turtle grab their foot saying my toes. The game sells itself. It remains a timeless classic and is the best TMNT game of all time.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

TMNT at Comic-Con

According to, Comic-Con fans will be getting an extra TMNT treat. To celebrate the new TMNT TV series scheduled to come out September 29th, Nickelodeon will let fans decide to join either the Turtles or the Foot.

Nickelodeon has set up street teams in downtown San Diego and San Diego International Airport who will be handing out information about what side to choose.

The event begins Thursday, July 12 and ends Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Those who choose to join a side will receive a free badge of allegiance to either the Foot Clan or the Turtles. Fans will also be able to receive a free trucker hat. In addition, fans will also qualify for a chance to win a prize pack with collectibles and an autographed piece of classic memorabilia from co-creator of the original TMNT series, Kevin Eastman.

Nickelodeon has put up information throughout both cities encouraging fans to visit their mobile website,, to participate in missions. Fans can receive a phone call from either Splinter or Shredder.

Comic-Con will also host a panel dedicated to the new series on Friday, July 14. Executive Producer, Ciro Nieli, will be unveiling never-before-seen footage. The panel will feature voice actors: Jason Biggs (Leonardo), Sean Astin (Raphael), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Kevin Michael Richardson (Shredder), Hoon Lee (Splinter) and Mae Whitman (April O'Neil).

Many other TMNT celebrities will be involved with Comic-Con. To represent TMNT comics, Dave Garcia, Erik Larsen, David Petersen, James Silvani and Michael Dooney will be in artist alley. 

Garcia helped create the character Panda Khan. Khan is a samurai panda bear, who was featured in early comics of TMNT.

Larsen took the Turtles in a more violent direction. Events such as: Leonardo losing a hand, Donatello becoming a cyborg, Splinter becoming a bat, Raphael's face being scarred and taking on the identity of Shredder.

Peterson is a cover artist involved with the IDW TMNT Comics. IDW is an eight issue series for Micro comics based on one character per an issue. Peterson has stated on his blog that he has been working closely with Nickelodeon, which could mean the IDW comics may be mentioned in the new show.

Silbani and Dooney have worked on many TMNT comics over the years, however, Dooney designed some TMNT toys.

To represent the TMNT movies, Ernie Reyes Jr, will be in attendance. Reyes is best known for his work on the first TMNT movie as Donatello's stunt double and and as Keno in TMNT 2.

The biggest name at Comic-Con will be TMNT co-creature Kevin Eastman. Eastman will be involved in a number of panels throughout the weekend.

Nickelodeon is banking that the new TMNT series will take off. If the series is done right, it could mean big money for them. Recently, Nickelodeon launched the “The ’90s Are All That" campaign and had results. “The ’90s Are All That" is a programming block that features shows from the 1990's, including cartoons.  

The 90's hold a special place in TMNT fans hearts. The franchise was at its peak. For TMNT fans Comic-Con will not only be a tribute to the old turtles, it will provide an inside look into what the future holds for them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Michigan College Graduates Struggle to Find Jobs

Michigan's unemployment rate is 10.9 %. That is a little over 1 % more then the national unemployment rate. This means that college graduates are not only fighting to join an already struggling work force, but they are losing jobs to more experienced candidates for entry level positions.

The jobless rate in America is at its highest since the 1970’s. Keep in mind that this was when the U.S. government just started keeping records. College graduates are facing very difficult challenges then the previous generation. The most recent graduating class is known as Generation Y. Generation Y is arguably the most educated generation and yet cannot find jobs.

Recent Oakland University graduate, Amanda Davis, is struggling to get her career started. She received her BA in Journalism in 2011. She was hoping to join a PR firm. Sadly many of the offers she has received have been commission-based only jobs. She often finds herself frustrated trying to find a job.

“It's pretty ridiculous that we work so hard” said Davis. “It's not about how hard you work now. It's about who you know.”

She has applied for over 100 jobs and has no success. She is not alone either.

Unemployment among recent college graduates is at an all time high. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 37 % of Americans between the ages of 18-29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during the recession.

The problem, of course, has to do with timing and the recession. Recent graduates are competing against one another, as well as competing against laid off workers.

With college education becoming a requirement for most jobs more and more Americans are getting a college education only to find themselves with no work and getting part time jobs in retail, fast food or no job at all.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House Speaker, recently said he was outraged over the Department of Labor's unemployment numbers. Recently, Boehner was attending a Republican fundraiser in Michigan and said that the U.S. Government cannot help recent college graduates until the economy recovered.

College is becoming more expensive. Parents and students all throughout the State of Michigan are feeling the impact of this. Wayne State raised its tuition rates by 6.9% for undergrads. Oakland University raised their rates by 7 %. The budget cuts in Lansing are making major impacts on students’ lives.

Many college grads are leaving college with a high amount of debt. This has resulted in a high number of college graduates moving back with their parents. According to a CNN poll conducted in 2010, 85% of graduates were forced to move back in with their parents.

Struggling to find a job is not the only reason why college graduates are moving back in with their parents. Another big reason is college debt. Most debt payments start six months after graduation. Since many graduates struggle to find jobs, they must cut down on spending, which leads to moving back in with their parents.

When college graduates are able to find jobs, they are starting out at a lower pay scale then previous graduates. Some are even applying for jobs not related to their field at all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Magic Man

Backstage at the Lakeshore Theater Nick Paul, a magician, wonders will I be able to pull off my act without messing up? He worries about his show, because for Paul this is his life, career and love. He does not work at a desk or in at a store; he travels from stage to stage performing magic.

Paul has always had a love for magic even at an early age. Paul’s first trick was an illusion. He made a rope penetrate a bag. As a boy he was too nervous to perform in front of a crowd, but he performed for his family and they were proud of him. From that day on Paul decided he would pursue his interest in magic.

He grew up in front of clowns and jugglers. Paul said that becoming a magician is not that surprising to him. He has his dad to thank for his inspiration because his dad is a ventriloquist. Paul’s dad has been a ventriloquist for over 23 years. While growing up perfecting his magic skills, his father was always supportive.

“And yes, my father talks to himself for a living,” said Paul.

Paul’s first big break came in 2001. Paul was just 14 years old and he was very nervous. He was not performing for his family this time; he was performing for his fellow church members. The tricks that he was attempting to perform were not well practiced and as a result he failed. He attempted to perform illusions. Paul did admit the lack of practice was an issue.

“You are never supposed to perform something unless you have rehearsed it to the point of muscle memory,” said Paul.

Nonetheless Paul did not let his failure bring him down so he decided to perfect his skills. Paul was determined to get better and one of his beginning tricks that he performed was an illusion. His illusion involved a box with a hidden door that made the content of what was inside disappear. To make the trick more entertaining Paul decided to use his dog.

“She was terrified of the cage. We just shoved her inside there and there was like this fake wall that would come up and she would have to stand there, eventually we switched to my little brother” said Paul.

Paul was just 13 years old at the time he performed the dog/brother disappearing trick but thought the trick was fun to pull off.

As Paul performed his magic act, the more and more his father took notice and invited him to go and perform his magic act in Japan. He agreed to go and in 2004 he went to Japan. Paul describes the experience as amazing. Paul has always had a fascination with the Japanese culture and even took classes in high school to learn the language before embarking on trip. Although Paul did not know a lot of the Japanese language, the little he did learn helped. His magic act was a hit which led him to travel back to Japan the following year to perform a second time.

After high school Paul was accepted into Columbia University in Chicago and decided acting would be a good choice. Although Paul is a magician, he admits that acting played a major role in improving his shows.

“Acting definitely has helped me cause it’s pretending I’m someone else”, said Paul.

While attending Columbia, Paul took full advantage of the opportunities that were presented to him. He acted in many of the Universities shows. This led him to work with: Barbara Robertson (Wicked), Nick Kittle (Blue Man Group), Tim O’Malley, Norm Holly, and Michael Gellman (The Second City).

Paul even took American Silent Language (ASL) while attending Columbia University.

While studying, Paul discovered a type of acting he did not expect that he would ever do, miming. Michael Lee, Paul’s friend, introduced the world of miming to Paul. He discovered that a mime is not just a man in white face pretending to be trapped in a box but a character. Lee gave Paul a first class experience of what miming is like through his company called Opus Mime.

Paul describes Opus Mime as the blue man group. Opus mime can be more physically demanding which can lead to a few bumps and bruises but Paul will do anything for a laugh.

“You don’t become a mime you’re born a mime,” jokingly said Paul.

Recently Paul has been cast as a mime in a music video, Munther Fahmi (Yoma Khatha). He only appears in the video for a minute but his friends and fans love it.

Paul also went to Second City to be in their improv comedy classes.

“Second City of Chicago is a mecca for improv and sketch comedy,” said Paul.

He thinks his improve training helped him out more times then he can count because anything can go wrong in a show. Paul has had his fair share of close calls but one show he can remember all too well. He was attempting to escape a straight jacket in two minutes while dancing to Black Eye Pea’s when he noticed something went wrong. He did not move quick enough and time was running out. Luckily thanks to his quick hands he was able to escape just as the buzzer went off. The crowd did not even know that Paul messed up thanks to his training and making the trick look natural. Paul admits that making the trick look natural is one of the most important things in magic.

His training in both acting and improv comedy allowed Paul to perfect his performance and develop a stag persona. He is loud witty and humorous. On stage Paul is lively, however, off the stage he is completely different.

Ben Radell, a friend of Paul’s, describes Paul as a calm, average person. Radell and Paul have been friends for years.

“Paul’s act is what makes him great,” said Radell.

Radell has seen Paul perform at a Texas Roadhouse and describe his show as entertaining and fun.

“He did card tricks. Made coins disappear and made a ring disappear,” said Radell.

Paul returns to his hometown of Sterling Heights, Michigan to see his family and friends every year and admits the adjustment is not always so easy to get used to.

“It’s actually still an adjustment every time I come home because it’s just a different mentality in Sterling Heights then it is in Chicago. Things tend to go slower. There is no public transportation or subway so everything is a lot bigger and more spaced out so it’s weird even though I grew up there.” said Paul.

He even comes back to Michigan to do a few shows a year. Overall Paul performs over 200 shows a year throughout the Midwest and hopes to someday make it big. He has performed on the same stage as John Belushi in Second City and hopes that he could one day join the tour but knows that it will not be easy.

Paul worries about keeping his shows original. He said that it is very difficult to make new material which is why he studied the greats such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini. He still learns new tricks the same way as he did as a kid, books. Paul spends countless hours reading, watching and putting his own style into magic tricks and the trial and error method. Paul believes by putting a certain style to a trick it will make it successful.

Anyone can learn a card trick, but being able to perform it in an entertaining manor is a whole other ball game,” said Paul.

Card tricks are the most difficult trick to perform for Paul. The problem he said is remembering what to do while talking to the audience member. “You have to make it look natural because if you don’t, the trick doesn’t look good. The trick is to make them believe in the art of magic,” Paul said. He admits that he was messed up plenty of times but is thankful for his acting to help save his shows.

When Paul is not performing magic, acting or being a mime, he loves to play the drums. He plays in a band called Toast. Recently they have released a CD. They have even played a few shows. Toast is just starting out but Paul hopes that it will all go over well. Paul describes Toast’s style of music as listening music through an eight track. He admits the style is unique and enjoys playing with the band a lot.

Paul likes to combine his talents in his shows. In one show he used balloon animals to make a card trick more interesting. He asked an audience member named Laura to pick out a card. He ripped off the corner of her card and then threw her piece of card and a popped a balloon animal into an ordinary bag and told her that he would bring her balloon dog back to life using CPR. Paul blew the bag back up, ripped it open and magically her dog was back to life and attached to the dog was her card.

Another interesting magic trick he does is light his wallet on fire. He has opened his act with a joke,

“I’m Nick Paul I’m a magician. Would you guys like to watch me magish?”

He then pulled out his wallet and it was magically on fire. The fire wallet trick always leaves audiences amazed.

Paul admits that money is sometimes hard to come by but that is the life of a performer.

“There is no set schedule when you are a performer, and I still struggle with the mindset of not always having a solid paycheck. But you get used to it and persist when things get difficult (mainly booking gigs so I can pay rent), and enjoy it when you are busy,” said Paul.

He usually only works weekends as a magician but during the weekdays he performs with an improv comedy team called Wildcards and works as an intern for O’Connor casting company.

Paul loves performing magic not only because it is fun but because people treat him differently. He said that people treat him like a rock star and it is a huge ego boost even though he does not live like a rock star. He lives in a small house with a few roommates and when one of them moved out life got hard for Paul. He had to pay a few hundred dollars more in rent. Since Chicago can be expensive, Paul said that it is difficult having to pay more just because one person left.

Paul has shown his audiences that magic is not simply pulling a rabbit out of a hat saying “abracadabra.” It is about skill and practice. Magic was once the hype of the world. People used to wonder what trick Harry Houdini would do next. Magicians to this day regard Houdini as the greatest magician even 84 years after his death. Sadly the attention to magicians has faded, leaving magic in the backlight of entertainment.

Paul is hopeful magic is making a comeback. He recently performed at the famous Navy Pier and his show was a hit. This led him to do multiple shows which he is grateful for but he says that the best thing about the Navy Pier is the people themselves. One fan even dressed up as a storm trooper. Paul said that was pretty sweet.

“I do it because I can be my own boss and write my own show much of the time. I also get a thrill from honest-humorous reactions from the audience. There is an honest child like quality with magic and comedy that can’t be found in many other art forms,” said Paul.

Paul believes that magic is a lost art form and his website is dedicated to his love of the art of magic.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Michigan’s Oakland University wins Snow Bowl

Michigan’s Oakland University Rugby Club became champions overnight as they went undefeated in the Snow Bowl. The Snow Bowl is an amateur rugby tournament that colleges participate in. The competition was held at Western University, MI.

“Everybody played hard. They put heart into it,” said Billy Jacobs, an Oakland rugby player.

Oakland played three games and went undefeated. Randall Owens, an Oakland rugby player, said that each game was a challenge. No players had proper gear to play rugby. Each player was playing rugby out of the love for the game. Owens and Jacobs said that the weather was unbelievably cold.

“It was very cold, below freezing. You had to keep warm,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said there was at least two feet of snow on the field which lead to a lot of fun. Team members were slipping and sliding as they were tackled down into the freezing snow.

Owens said he could not feel his toes at one point but he did admit that some teammates drank well before the game. Many of Oakland University teammates were buzzed if not drunk. Owens believes that drinking may have been a factor in not only keeping members of the team warm but winning as well. Other teams did have members buzzed but each team still played their best.

Out of their three games Jacobs and Owens said that one game was the hardest. That game was versus a neighboring rugby team from Illinois. Although Oakland did win Owens said that the Illinois team was clearly there to win. Members from each team were being tossed around like rag dolls and they were charging at each other at full force.

Owens said his worse hit was when he was tackled by a huge guy that knocked him back a few feet. He said it hurt a lot and did not like the fact that some players played more dirty. One opponent kneed Owens’s chin as he was getting up from a tackle. He said that he seriously thought his chin moved two inches to the left. Owens said that it was all in good fun and worth the beating to become champions. In the end Oakland won 5-3.

Oakland’s team was then presented with the Snow Bowl trophy, which was a toilet seat. Owens describes the trophy as nothing special. He said it was a plain toilet seat with Snow Bowl Champions written in marker.

“We play for this because we can and it gives us an excuse to drink,” said Jacobs

Randall and Jacobs said that Oakland’s team is a great group of guys and although the Snow Bowl is just for fun it is worth it.

“This is just for fun. Doesn’t count but a good time,” said Jacobs. “One player dressed up as the cat in the hat. He had the hat and bow tie. It was pretty funny”

Jacobs voted Randall as team MVP.

“Randall kicked some butt. He’s hardcore,” said Jacobs.

Owens not only played his heart out but drove a third of the team to the game. Randall also works out at a gym to keep himself in shape for the games. Jacobs said that Owens is fast and a great teammate.

After the tournament was over everybody went to a rugby bar called Big Ruggers Up and Under. Because of the entrance fee of $30 for the tournament there was a never ending feast as Owens put it. From beer to pizza there was everything. Jacobs said the never ending beer was the best thing.

“There was enough food to have a third helping,” said Owens.

Overall Oakland has 15 regular team members and a few that only show up during game time. Jacobs does admit that this can get annoying but what can you do? Oakland practices two times a week.

Oakland’s Rugby Club hopes to defend its reputation at a different tournament at Ruckcity Kalamazoo ,MI. Owens said that he sees the same school s participate in all of the tournaments. Oakland’s club sees this as chance to defend its title.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Rising Star

Wesley Miles is a Macomb Community College student who has always wanted to become a movie star. Although he had little training he was determined to make it. He auditioned for a role in a small play and for the first time he was acting on a professional level.

Miles's role was young Scrooge in Warren Community Center's play A Christmas Carol. He said that the play was one of the best acting experiences he has ever had.

"I learned a lot," said Miles.

Miles said his director was responsible for the play's success. The director, Greg Trzaskoma, who is also a professional actor and professor at Macomb, acted as a bartender in Gran Torino. Miles said Trzaskoma's acting experience and coaching helped.

"Getting proper directions from a professional was a refreshing change from the mediocre teaching of a someone who never acted before," Miles said about Trzaskoma's directing.

Miles said actors generally look out for one another. This unwritten rule as Miles put it has resulted in him landing another role in an upcoming play based on the movie Footloose. Sadly because of scheduling conflicts Miles had to turn down the role.

Miles does believe that the film industry coming to Michigan could result in a break that he is looking for.

"I think that being an extra you can make connections on scene," said Miles, "you're not an actor but you could break in."

Although being an extra isn't the most glamorous thing, Miles thinks that local actors could benefit from the film industries move to Michigan. He believes that because of the experience local actors have, it gives them a slight advantage over those who do not have any acting experience.

Miles does not know if he will make it big but he said that his dream role would be to play the Riddler in a Batman movie.

Miles got his start in a high school play and has never looked back. He tried to become an EMT at Baker College but realized that the theatre was his home and transferred to Macomb Community College to complete his general education courses.

He says that he is planning to transfer to Oakland University to get his Bachelors Degree in the fall and then get his masters at Wayne State University.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mello Follow Up

Nine months ago David Mello was struggling to make ends meet but today he doing well thanks to some unexpected events.

In 2009 Mello applied to receive financial aid to help pay for Macomb Community College but he did not receive his money, however this semester things looked different for Mello. He said that this time he did receive aid and will be taking classes this fall.

Mello has recently moved out of his dad's house and into a small house by downtown Utica.

“It’s great. Very nice, everything was just redone before I moved in. Small, but definitely serves its purpose,” said Mello.

Although Mello did not plan on moving out he is glad he did. He said that his friend one day just asked him out of the blue if he would like to move. Mello said yes and said that it was unexpected but that he is glad that he did it.

He has also quiet his job at Red Robin in order to find a better paying job to help pay for his new home. Mello had worked at Red Robin for three years but knew in order to pay his half of the rent he had to find a better paying job.

That new job was at a furniture company delivering orders. Mello said that he loves his new job because he gets to travel all around Michigan meeting new people and does not have to wait on tables anymore. Mello not only loves the change in atmosphere but the pay as well.

“My new job pays about three or four times more than Red Robin,” said Mello.

Mello's job was farther from his house then Red Robin and his old van was not going to last and sadly it died. Mello's old van had many problems which included: a broken door, starting issues and horn issues.

"My new car is a lot better,' said Mello

He is very grateful for the van that his friend Kela Robinson was able to help him obtain but is glad that he can get around town without having to worry about his car starting up.

Overall Mello said that he is very happy with how his life going. He had a welcome party with a few friends over and many are happy to see thing turn out for the best for their friend David Mello.