Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Different Type Of "Game"

So, no. This is not yet another Game of Thrones blog entry. Put the sword down and relax. That's probably going to come tomorrow or the day after. I haven't seen the latest episode yet.

This is about the new Playstation 3 game I just started up over the weekend -- L.A. Noire. Yes, yes, I know I've already mentioned it yesterday, and in my "Now Playing" sidebar . . . but since then I've made a bit more progress. And I wanted to tell you about one of the cases I recently completed as newly minted LAPD detective, Cole Phelps.

See, on Sunday I managed to start the game and work my way up to detective. This got me off the patrol desk and placed in Traffic. Now the Traffic desk is not what you might think. As a detective, you don't go around writing parking tickets and telling people to fix their tail lights. No. In Traffic, you deal with any crimes pertaining to automobiles -- such as hit-and-runs, car theft, etc. So, once I made it to Traffic I decided to call it a day. I had been playing for only 2 hours, but I felt I knew enough about the ins and outs of this game to do a stellar job the next time I picked up the controller.

Monday afternoon, after getting some unrelated writing work done, I powered up the machine once more and dived back into the seedy underbelly of 1947 Hollywood.

My first case as a bonafide detective had me dealing with a guy who tried to fake his death by leaving fresh pig's blood splattered all over the cab of his derelict car. Like many of the cases in L.A. Noire, this one was based on an actual case that occurred back in the 40s. I flew through it with flying colors, though, earning a five star rating on my report when the case was closed.

But the next case is where I really shined. And where I began to realize that I'm actually smarter than the game. See, I'm one of those annoying people who watch crime shows and figures them out before the 15 minute mark. My wife hates it. So lately I've learned to keep my mouth shut. Very few shows actually stump me, though, like Dexter or House. Most shows are annoying simple to figure out: to whit, all the CSIs, most of the L&Os, and a good deal of NCIS.

So needless to say, this video game has its work cut out for it if it wants to fool me.

But this next case was far too easy. Laughably so. I figured it all out almost as soon as I arrived on the crime scene. And, despite how I might come across in the preceding paragraph here, I don't actually think it's due to my big brain. No. Unfortunately, it's because they made it too easy for players. Specifically, they left behind way too many obvious clues at the crime scene.

Still, it was a fun case. Let me go over the particular details. At the start of each case in L.A. Noire, you get a nice old skool title card in black and white. Such as with this particular case:

We're treated to a brief preview of the crime, by which a man stumbles drunkenly out into the middle of the street and gets hit by a passing car. The car stops, but then quickly speeds away.

Next, we're Cole Phelps getting the case handed to him by the captain of the Traffic desk. I head out to the scene of the crime and find that the area has already been cordoned off by patrol. An officer briefly informs me of the gory details, and that they have one witness waiting to be interviewed -- an aspiring actress (of course) who lives above the nearby bar and saw the whole thing from her window.

Rather than interview her, I make a beeline straight for the body first. There's tire marks, blood spatter, and a long blood streak leading up to the corpse. The coroner tells me the body of the unknown victim was thrown 20 feet from the point of impact. Straight forward hit and run; the driver didn't even stop. But already I have a sinking suspicion that all is not what it seems. I stoop down and examine the poor sap, sifting through his pockets and finding a wallet and a curious letter from his life insurance company.

So, I learn the victim is one Lester Pattison. Okay. He's married, too. Great, I'm going to have to notify the spouse of her husband's death. Next up, I examine the letter more closely. Seems his weekly premium had recently increased from $3.70 per week to $5.90, with his lump sum payout increasing from $10,000 to $17,000. Back in 1947, this must have been a LOT of money. But on the letter this amount is circled in red and the words: "WHAT THE FUCK!" are handwritten next to it. Hmmm, curious. This makes me think that Lester did not authorize this increase himself. Immediately I smell something fishy here.

Further examination of the body reveals a puncture wound in his chest. But the coroner tells me that this is normal in hit and runs, and that the car involved must have had a fairly detailed hood ornament. I don't know about that . . .

I get up and examine the clues on the street once more. The grisly streak of blood leaving from the point of impact seems too bloody for a hit and run. And at the point of impact, I notice a separate pool of blood. Okay, that doesn't match up. If the car was speeding and hit the vic here, throwing him 20 feet forward, there would not have been enough time for that much blood to collect in a stationary spot. There's something else going on here, I think to myself.

The presence of tire marks are also puzzling. This would suggest the car came to a sudden, screeching halt before impact. The driver slowed the car down! He must have driven off out of fear. Okay, so by now I have a pretty good hunch that it wasn't the impact of the car that killed the vic. There must be another clue somewhere else . . .

I notice that the point of impact is directly before the exit of an alleyway. There's a trashbin inside the alley, propped up against a huge dumpster. I head over there, and guess what I find inside the bin?

Yup! The proverbial "bloody knife." I knew it! Ha-ha, something tells me this is tied in with the vic. But in the game, my character seems a little slow on the uptake. I've already put it all together, though. I now know how the vic died, who killed him, and why. But for the sake of the game, I still have to go through the motions.

So I interview the witness. She tells me that she saw the guy step into the street and a red car come barreling into him. In the game, you have to watch the facial reactions of your suspects and witnesses to see if they're lying or holding back on you. This woman so far seems to be telling the truth. Barely 3 hours into the game, I've already figured out a certain trick to seeing through these different expressions. It's so easy!

I ask her what made her decide to come to the window in the first place, and here she gets cagey. So I put the pressure on her, calling her into doubt, and she caves. She tells me she was going to save this last detail for the papers, to get her face out there. But now she comes clean. Before the accident, she was in her apartment when she heard a loud argument coming from the alley. The argument was between a man and his wife. She knew they were married because the wife was using intimate knowledge of her husband to make him angry. The kind of stuff only a wife would know and about her husband.

Afterwards, the man stumbled out of the alley and that's when he was hit by the car.

Realizing I'm not going to get any more out of her, I venture into the bar and question . . . the barman, of course! He's a little antagonistic, but eventually through my questioning I learn that Lester and his wife, Lorna, were regulars. Well mostly Lester, who liked to get drunk and play the tables in the back. Apparently the two were constantly arguing, but on this night Lorna was really pushing his buttons. They took it outside, and that's the last the barman saw of Lester.

Further questioning reveals that the barman is covering for his boss, Leroy Sabo, who owns the joint. Turns out Leroy is looking to open a new, better joint and is a little short on dough. It also looks like him and Lester's missus have been getting cozy as of late. In fact, he took Mrs. Pattison home after the accident and this is why he's not at the bar now.

Oh boy. Now I have to go make that home visit sooner than later!

I grab my partner and book it to the Pattison residence. There, Lorna acts despondent over the death of her husband. I ask her if she's alone, and then Sabo comes slinking out from a back room somewhere. He says he's there to "comfort" his good friend.


I grill the wife pretty harshly, telling Mrs. Pattison that a witness saw her arguing heatedly with her husband just before the "accident." I also show her the updated life insurance policy and ask her if there's a reason why ten grand suddenly wasn't enough for her. At this point Sabo takes over and quickly puts an end to the convo. As I don't yet have enough evidence for an arrest, I have to lay off and leave.

But then I get a call to head down to the coroner's office, and this is where I'm vindicated. Turns out the vic was fatally stabbed twice on the right side of his thorax by a long, sharp object. Hmm, you mean like the big ass knife I found at the scene of the crime? So much for a hood ornament doing the job.

My partner is flabbergasted (stupid man!). He says that this case has just been upgraded to a Murder 1. No shit, Sherlock? I've known that since 3 minutes in!

Anyway, so we rush back to the Pattison residence with a warrant for Lorna's arrest. But she puts the blame squarely on Sabo. Sabo guns her down (the things he WOULDN'T do for love, eh?) and then runs like mad out the back door. I have to chase him down on foot, and when I finally catch up:

The punk ass! He actually has the nerve to pull a hostage on me. Oh, he's going down! I wait long enough for his head to come into view, and real quick -- POP! I pull the trigger.

That's right. Head shot go BOOM! Cuz, you see, that's how I roll baby!

Anyway, case gets closed. Because I collected all the clues and got right down to the nitty gritty in my interrogations ... er, I mean interviews, I get a 5-star rating on my performance, and a hearty atta-boy from the cap'n.

And there you have it. A "typical" case in a day in the life of Cole Phelps, LAPD detective.

Now tell me: doesn't this game sound SWEET to you? Despite it being so easy so far, I actually do love all the attention to detail and how each case unfolds differently. Interrogations are my favorite, with clue gathering coming in at a close second. Running and gunning is not quite as fun as it should be, given the gameplay mechanics. But that's never really been the strong suit of Rockstar games anyway.

I went on to unlock 5 more "trophies" yesterday, bringing my total now up to 12 trophies in all after only 2 days of play. Pretty nifty! I've also solved all the cases at the Traffic desk, and have now been promoted to Homicide. My very first case as a homicide detective is based on the real life and infamous "Black Dahlia" affair, which some of you may know about due to the big-budget Hollywood movie of the same name a couple of years back. I'm tempted to read up on that case in Wikipedia before I solve it in the game, but then it'll be beyond easy and so I don't want to spoil it for myself.

Yeah, I'm hooked! Can you tell?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Made Minor Technical Changes

LOL! The title of this entry is a little inside joke for my co-workers who lurk here form time to time.

Anyway, just wanted to pop in to make quick note of a minor administrative change to the blog. It probably won't mean much to some of you, but I've gone into the HTML source and added a small little line of code that now allows all links on my blog to open up in a new window. Rather than switch pages in the same window as is the default. I don't know about you, but I hate that. Say you want to get a close look at one of my pics by clicking on it to expand the photo? Well, with the old way you've just been taken completely out of my blog post. And when you click the "back" button -- voilĂ ! You're not taken back to the place you left off. So now you have to scroll all the way back down to resume reading.

Gone is all that.

Now when you want to click on a pic, a separate window (or tab, depending how your personal browser settings are set up) will pop up. Once you're done, just close that window and you'll still have the original page there to continue reading. This also holds true, obviously, for links to other pages I put up every now and then.

Personally, I think this is much better. And to test it out, I'm going to provide a link to a Youtube clip of one of my favorite Quickenings from a Highlander episode ever. I've figured out how to link to a specific time marker in Youtube clips, so you shouldn't have to fast-fwd through the entire episode just to get to the good part. I've already done that work for you. The one drawback, however, is that you have to put up with a brief commercial first before the clip begins. Sorry 'bout that, but these are Youtube's rules.

So, click on this link and hopefully you will not only be taken to the start of this very cool sword fight and Quickening, but it shall open in a new browser window/tab as well!

*crosses fingers*

P.S. -- I've also updated the "Now Playing" space on the right side of this blog with that new game I started over the weekend, L.A. Noire. Oh, I am having SOOOO much fun with that!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Game Of Thrones For Dummies

So, yeah, as you probably gathered from that last blog entry . . . I've gone a little Game of Thrones Youtube crazy. In my browsings there, I came across this wonderful web series by the very talented and lovely Simone Boyce. She's a huge fantasy geek and so, naturally, is very much addicted to the Song of Ice and Fire series. My god, where has this woman been all my life???

LOL! I jest, of course. But if I weren't already taken . . . hmmmmm. Would it be a joke then? Perchance not, my friends.

Anyway, upon seeing how confused some of her friends were after the first episode of Thrones aired last month, she started up the "Game of Thrones For Dummies" series on Youtube.

I'll post up the first video, but you can click on the links which follow to watch later episodes at your own leisure. I imagine these brief 6-minute breakdowns of each episode might be of enormous help to those of you who are either casual watchers of the show, or who have not even started watching due to feeling daunted by the wealth of back story involved.

No, that doesn't make you a "dummy" at all. Just fictionally challenged, let's say. :)

Seven hells, even if you don't have any interest in the show, check out the clip anyway because Simone does an outstanding job writing, performing, and editing these vids herself. To be honest, I'm quite awestruck by how good she is. Wow!

Geek girls RULZ!!! \_ _/

GoT For Dummies -- Episode 2
GoT For Dummies -- Episode 3
GoT For Dummies -- Episode 4
GoT For Dummies -- Episode 5
GoT For Dummies -- Episode 6

Friday, May 27, 2011

Someone Put Out An APB . . .

On my free time, that is. Because something tells me it's about to vanish without a trace.

So, got a long 3-day holiday weekend ahead and it's come to my attention that I should probably crack open L.A. Noire for the PS3 at some point. So, yeah, I think that's what I'll be doing. If you don't hear from me for a while, then you'll know why.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

You Complete Me

Yes, that's right. YOU DO!

This is just a huge shout out/thank you to all the fabulous folks who have greatly increased my site's traffic within, literally, only the past couple of months. Not everyone is commenting in the comments sections--although those of you who do, I'm eternally grateful for--but I understand the appeal of lurkdom.

When I first started this blog back in late 2008, at best I would get 3 to 5 unique visitors every few days. Most days I would get zero. In 2010, the average was about 5 to 8 EVERY day, with sporadic spurts here and there. My Self-Guided Highlander Tours of Paris, part 1 and part 2, were the biggest generator of most of this new found traffic (for obvious reasons), while my book and movie reviews consistently garnered no attention whatsoever. Hence why I ended up dropping those. Let's face it: in the great blog-o-sphere, no one really cares what your own personal opinion on pop culture is. We all have such varying tastes, after all.

This year, however, things have changed. My unique daily visitors tripled to the double digits--mostly in the teens and twenties--at the start of 2011, thanks in large part to the addition of some very cool daily followers whom I cherish as good friends now (Yvonne, GYSC, Jen, Frisky, Watchtower, Shin Loo, Nicole, KLo, etc -- you know who you are!) In addition to my old time regulars from the early days of this blog (Tarrell, Rodney, Kim, Ian, Cindy, Sarah), you guys have made this a "happening" place to be! :)

However, nothing has prepared me for the traffic I've been getting since around late March, early April, here. I guess I have Game of Thrones to blame thank for the sudden popularity. These days, it's a regular occurrence for me to get visitor counts in the 50s and 60s range. In the past month, even up to the 80s and--YIKES!--a handful of 3-digit days every now and then! Are you kidding me? Seriously???

Anyway, you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a glimpse at the latest weekly count chart breaking down the numbers, courtesy of my stat counter site BlogPatrol.com:

And, yes, I do remember to exclude my personal IP addies from the count. I'm not completely clueless.

But pretty crazy figures, huh? I'm sure some of my more popular blog buddies snort at these numbers, but they're great to me. Especially considering where they were prior to 2011.

Needless to say, all the tireless work I've been putting into promoting the Game of Thrones show on HBO is paying off! My episode reaction posts in particular bring in the lion's share of all that traffic. I'm sorry, I meant the "Lannister's share," as we're wont to say in Westeros.

So, to all of you out there who take time off your busy lives to check in on me here at The Bimillennial Man -- thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

And now . . . let's party, PEANUTS style!

(Hey, be glad I didn't say "DIREWOLF" style!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ep. 6: Reactions: "A Golden Crown"

After the high octane action of the previous episode, I've been chomping at the bit all week to tear into episode 6. And now it has finally arrived. So let's . . . get 'er done!

But before we do, please take a moment to check out my reactions to the previous episodes by clicking the appropriate links below:

Episode 1: "Winter is Coming."
Episode 2: "The Kingsroad."
Episode 3: "Lord Snow."
Episode 4: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things."
Episode 5: "The Wolf and the Lion."

And now, let us begin the show!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

So . . .

How was your weekend?

Mine was pretty blah, but I don't exactly know why. I guess I'm feeling a bit moody. Lots of things going on in my personal life I can't talk about. But let's just say it feels like the shit's coming at me from all directions. If it's not one thing, it's another. On and on it keeps on coming.

But, anyway. Yeah, don't mind me.

On the positive side, I was sorta productive. I worked on the third rewrite of my new story, "Terra Germinatus." As I said earlier when I first posted the very rough draft of it here on this blog -- this tale has been significantly revised. So what you read back then isn't necessarily the same story I'll be submitting to editors now. I mean, the plot points are the same. And the themes definitely are. But the mechanics have been tweaked, slimmed down, rearranged, and polished all over again. I might just have something here.

I also finished up Dead Space 2 on the Playstation 3 over the weekend. Finally! You can read about it on my "Now Playing" sidebar. I thought I had lost all interest in this game, which is why I stopped playing it for a while. But I had left off so close to the end, so it really didn't take much effort to hop back into the saddle and maneuver Isaac Clarke toward the resolution of his sad little story. I ended up having a lot of fun, though, because the last moments of the game were truly gripping. With all my weapons fully upgraded, I kicked a lot of ass and came out victorious!

So, now that that's out of the way, I'm ready to tackle the next game on my list: L.A. Noire. But god only knows when I'll have the time to start that up. I don't see it happening until MAYBE next weekend at the earliest. Will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I hope you are all doing well. Have a great start to the week, courtesy of moi!


Friday, May 20, 2011

New Unpublished Short Story, "Hatchling," Is Up!

Well, actually, the title is a misnomer . . . this isn't a new story, but rather an old one I've had floating around for over a year now. If you go and check the right-hand side of this page, you might notice that I've deleted the short story "Terra Germinatus" from my "Unpublished" sidebar. In its place is "Hatchling," a short sci-fi/horror/thriller set in near-future West Papua.

Personally I like this story, but I've been unable to find a paying home for it in the past year. And trust me, I've tried!

So, rather than shelve it away from the light of day, I've decided to post it up here on this blog for all the world to read and (hopefully) enjoy. Click on the link in the sidebar, or below, to get magically whisked away to storyland:


If you'd like, please also leave any comments and/or suggestions for the story in the comments section of this post. Blogger doesn't allow comments on their secondary pages.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ep. 5 Reactions: "The Wolf and the Lion"

It's been a fun 4 weeks leading up to this 5th episode, but now it's time to get serious! If I'm remembering the books correctly, this is where the story starts to get really intricate. Yeah, you heard right. If you had trouble following all the plot points before, well then you better buckle yourself in for a bumpy ride. Because, honestly, things are going to start coming at you fast and furious now.

Before I start up the episode on my trusty ole DVR, however, I would like to take a brief moment to remind you all why I write these detailed reactions. Primarily it's to have fun sharing my most private geek out moments with you all as I experience a show based on a book series I hold in very high esteem.

But, also, I do this so that those watching the show who have not read the books can keep track of all the names and various plot points, and even hint at how everything eventually ties together. Ideally, you should watch the episode and then come here to make sure you didn't miss a little clue here, or a plot crumb there, that might otherwise hinder your maximum enjoyment threshold of the show.

Yes, I just used "maximum enjoyment threshold" in an actual sentence.

Hopefully, reading these scene reactions will help make sense of some of the more confusing elements of the show, particularly all the many characters and their precise relationships with one another. Because even if you read the books this stuff can be quite a bit much to swallow. So, who better to point things out than your resident A Song of Ice and Fire nerd?

So, you see, this is my civic duty to y'all. Don't forget it! And in the meantime, if you would like to check out my reactions to any of the previous episodes, feel free to click on the appropriate link below:

Episode 1: "Winter is Coming."
Episode 2: "The Kingsroad."
Episode 3: "Lord Snow."
Episode 4: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things."

And now, let us begin the show!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday At The Bookstore

I love hanging out with fellow writers!

Today my good friend Cindy Pon was in New York participating in the "Diversity Tour," part of a publicity junket to push her second novel, Fury of the Phoenix, which hit shelves back in March. The panel was held at Books of Wonder, a local independent bookseller in the city catering to the child and young adult reader.

This place is awesome! So many pretty, shiny new books. I sooo wish I had such a place to go to growing up. I loved to read as a kid, but never had many books in the house. This might explain why I hoard books to this day.

The Diversity Tour panel included several up-and-coming YA writers, including another friend of mine, Neesha Meminger. She's promoting her second novel as well -- Jazz In Love. I had a wonderful time meeting up with both talented ladies, and all in all it was a fantastic way to spend my early afternoon.

Left to right: Neesha, myself, Cindy.

One of the audience members posited an interesting dilemma to the panel members: "If you were forced to give up one forever, which would you choose--reading or writing?"

Cindy chose writing, whereas everyone else at the table picked reading. Oops. Guess Cindy and I are the fraud writers, because I also chose writing as the one I would give up if I actually had to pick one to lose.

Thing is, as much as writing is a joy and quite the cathartic experience for me . . . I simply cannot imagine a world without reading. It would break my heart to never be able to write again, but reading was what made me want to be a writer in the first place. It is what still inspires me today. So many times I feel like giving up, but then I'll read an amazing book and remember all over again why it is that I dare dream to be a published writer someday. Because I want to touch the imaginations of others, and have them share my dreams, too! This is the gift--and the burden!--of the writer. But without reading, I feel like I would lose that spark to want to succeed.

Maybe. Maybe not. In either case, writing is also hard! Whereas reading? Pssht! Reading is fundamen. . . er, easy. Yeah, easy. Reading is my escape. Well, moreso than writing is for me. Although there's not much separation between the two, I must admit. Not in terms of my affection for both.

Hmmm, tough decision wouldn't you say? So let me ask you writers out there (because you knew I would):

Which one would you give up?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Is This My Next Game?

Well, Blogger's been offline for the better part of a day now, so sorry for not having any new posts up since Tuesday. And it seems that in order to bring it back online, The Powers That Be had to temporarily delete all posts and comments made after Wednesday morning. I guess this explains why the comments section over on my Ep. 4 Reactions have been gutted. 6 of the most recent 8 comments have vanished!

I'm sure they'll be back shortly, however. No big deal. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a new blockbuster video game title hitting stores next Tuesday. The game in question? Rockstar Games' detective thriller, L.A. Noire.

I've purposely kept myself in the dark until just this week regarding what this game would look and play like. But now that I've educated myself, already I can see that I'm going to have a blast! This is right down my alley. It's got good guys fighting bad guys; clues to be followed and cases to be closed; and a thoroughly researched and historically accurate setting to play in. In this latest opus from Rockstar Games--the name behind the legendary Grand Theft Auto series, as well as last year's Red Dead Redemption--L.A. Noire takes place in the golden age of Hollywood, circa 1947. You start off as a beat cop by the name of Cole Phelps, a WWII vet trying to make a name for himself on the payroll of the L.A.P.D. Through the game you'll work your way up to detective, climbing the ladder through various departments like Vice and Homicide, and collecting clues along the way on various cases. Some of the bigger cases are based on actual crimes from the day, like the infamous Black Dahlia case, to name just one.

So far the visuals are looking fantastic, but of course it's the story and acting I'm salivating over. Real actors were used as the character models in the game, who look remarkably similar to their flesh-n-blood counterparts. These actors provided voices to the characters as well, which gives the finished product a very believable and accurate look. This is important because apparently a big factor in the gameplay will involve being able to accurately read suspects' faces during interrogations. Read a wrinkle of a forehead or the curve of a mouth the wrong way, and you'll send Cole down the completely wrong path.

I mean, WTF? How freaking AWESOME is that??? You'll basically being playing Hal Lightman from the FOX show, Lie To Me! Time to bone up on my micro expressions!

Anyway, enough of this reading chore. Mayhaps some of you will actually like to SEE what the game is all about? Well, if so, then you're in luck! For below is a cool little featurette breaking down just what makes this slick looking title tick. Give it a watch, won't you?

For a video game, L.A. Noire looks and sounds quite cinematic! It's been making some waves in movie circles recently, due to the excellent historical setting and on the strength of its story narrative.

Yeah, like I said: my kind of game!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ep. 4 Reactions: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"

We're now well under way into the very first season of HBO's Game of Thrones series. It's been a mostly spectacular ride up to this point, with only a few minor quibbles here and there. Mostly due to the amount of back story they've had to cram down our throats to truly get this story rollin'. But it's really a lot of ground to cover from the book, so it's to be expected if not completely accepted.

Anyway, this Sunday we get the airing of Ep. 4, "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things." Looking at the title alone, it's kinda hard not to figure out what the focus will be on this time around. If I were to hazard a guess . . .

But, then, I've read the books so it really wouldn't be fair now, would it?

As I get the episode primed to run on my Tivo HD--along with two good friends to watch it with; one a reader, the other a non-reader of the books--I find myself once again at the edge of my seat waiting to find out what's in store for us now.

But as always, before I start writing off my scene-by-scene commentary as the action occurs on screen, please take a moment to read up on all my previous episodic reactions below. Trust me, you won't regret it:

Episode 1: "Winter is Coming."
Episode 2: "The Kingsroad."
Episode 3: "Lord Snow."

And now, without further ado, let us begin the show!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Out Of The Loop

I took a rather long blog vacation recently without telling anyone. Oops! Sorry about that, but sometimes you just need to step back and, you know, do other things. Things which don't require me sitting in front of a blasted monitor for hours on end. Because that can get a bit annoying after a while. And, while I'm back now and have caught up on all my favorite blogs (Jen, GYSC, Yvonne, Rodney, Frisky, Kim), I'm afraid I just don't have the energy to comment at the moment. Sorry you guys, but I'm just not in the mood. I'll be fine in a few, though, and then things will be back to normal. I promise.

So, this all means no new updates on this end either. You can expect the next Game of Thrones reactions review honestly sometime between tonight and the end of the week. I have no idea. Those things actually take a lot of my time and I might not be up to it for a few days. I have seen the latest episode, however, and I do have my notes already written. It's just a matter of collating it all and acquiring the scene-specific screen caps.

My weekend was rather low-key and wonderfully stress-free. But I was a bit irked by the onslaught of all the SUPER HAPPY FUN FUN Mother's Day postings on Facebook and the blog-o-sphere fronts. I guess you can say that this is why I've been absent these past couple of days. I just couldn't take it anymore. Look, it warms my heart that so many people out there have super awesome moms that they just can't help celebrating for all the world to see. But, from my end, it was just a pretty sucky reminder of what I don't have in my life.

Now it's not like I'm hating on the holiday. After all, it's no one's fault. Not even mine. But all the hype did force me to withdraw a little over the weekend and just disconnect from all media outlets. No computer, no tv (except for pre-recorded shows on my TiVo), and no social media.

I did visit my grandma, though, and brought her a nice dinner and told her how much I loved her. Because, she really is the next best thing to a mother I have in this world. I wrote her a long note in the card I gave her, which of course made her cry. But I meant every word of it, grandma! Without you I would be nobody today.

But, yeah, Sunday was a sad somber day for me. Some years I'm okay, and then some it really hits home how alone I am. I think of the type of woman my mother was, and how she would have been my biggest fan and staunchest supporter of my writing. How she would be the one person I could always turn to and count on. That person who would fight for me--champion my cause--when no one else will give me the time of day.

But I don't have that. To be frank, quite a few other people don't have this either. And some people have it worse -- they HAVE mothers, but those women are evil skanks who only care about themselves. I don't know which is worse: to have had a wonderful mom and lose her early when you needed her most, or to have a mom who exists solely to suck all the life out of you and toss you aside when she's got all that she can get. Because I know people who have the latter, and trust me . . . they're in a far worse place than I am.

So to you who DO have mothers, and who ARE wonderful moms at that -- HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to you all. You are the lucky ones. Don't ever forget it. This day goes both ways: a celebration for those cool moms out there, and for their children lucky enough to call them mom. Please appreciate what you have.

Like Forrest Gump once said: ". . . and that's all I have to say about that."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Oh, My Sweet Summer Child . . .

"What do you know about fear?"

I'm reposting this video of an earlier Game of Thrones teaser trailer simply to hear Old Nan's awesome voice-over as she tells Bran what it truly means that "Winter is coming!" If you remember, at the very end of my Episode 3 commentary roundup yesterday, I mentioned that the actress playing Old Nan recently passed away. Which is much to the anguish of many fans who, like me, thought she was just the most PERFECT person to play her. Her lines are only at the beginning of this clip, but it still sends goosebumps up my arm.

Also, I thought it would be nice for some of you who have already seen a few episodes to take a second gander at this trailer and notice how it's all starting to make sense now. Cool, eh? Almost every shot in here is from the first 3 episodes, which have already aired.

I'm still trying to find a clip of just the Old Nan scene in Bran's bedchamber. Just that one part alone and nothing else. Preferably with impeccable sound so that I can savor the rich timbre of the actress's amazing delivery. But so far I've been digging up blanks.

This will have to do for now, I suppose.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ep. 3 Reactions: "Lord Snow"

Yes! Sunday night is here!!! And besides Game of Thrones, I also have Treme to check out afterwards. Oh how I miss HBO double-header Sundays. It's been a while.

Anyway, you're all here to read my reactions to the latest episode of Game of Thrones, episode 3: "Lord Snow", as I watch it for the first time. And that's what you're going to get. But first off, if you'd like to catch up on my recaps and impressions from the previous episodes, just click the appropriate link below:

Episode 1: "Winter is Coming."
Episode 2: "The Kingsroad."

Hope you're all up to speed. Now let me just push play on my Tivo remote and get this party started quickly!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We Interrupt This Broadcast . . .

. . . To bring you this rare political-themed blog entry.

I thought for once that, considering all the commotion going on over this latest "victory" in the war against terror, I'd chime in here with some really quick reactions to the news. But first, I'll encapsulate it all with just one humorously captioned Internet pic:

Teh LOLz! I imagine him pointing straight at Donald Trump, don't you?

So what are my reactions, exactly? Well:

1) I'm glad this one man was found and finally put to justice. And in his case, justice really could only mean a bullet to the brain. It's harsh, but hey . . . thems the rocks, kid.

2) No one in America truly believes that this is the end of Al Qaeda or U.S.-directed terrorism. So all the smarmy commentary I keep reading online from overseas instigators about how Americans should tone it down and face reality can go shove something sharp and lengthy into their left eye socket. Dudes, we know! Now can you just shut the fuck up and give us this moment? Jeez!

3) That being said, from one American to another -- yeah, we should probably not be shouting and screaming in the streets like a frat party gone wrong. Ebullient and proud? Sure. Toot off a few horns and chant USA at a baseball game? Hmmm, maybe. Burning effigies and name signs in the street while chanting ROT IN HELL? Eh, I can really do without that kind of behavior now. We're supposed to be the civilized ones, remember? Remember????

4) Stop telling us that this was only one man, and that the effort, cost, and time it took to get this done was so not worth just one's man life. This was more than one man, people! In our search to catch him, scores of top level Al Qaeda leaders, soldiers, informants, and sympathizers have been apprehended or otherwise put out of business over the past decade thanks to the dedication and hard work of an international coalition of top professionals. Was it worth all the money and time? You bet your ass it was! We truly are safer now than we were before these steps were taken.

5) Yes, this was largely symbolic. But you know what? So were the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon. Only an idiot would have believed that our financial base could be negated by the fall of the former, or that our military might would be realistically crippled by the destruction of the latter. So, therefore, it was symbolic. And so is capturing and killing the head mastermind of said symbolic act.

6) No, Obama is not taking the credit from something started back in Bush's presidency. If you'd be willing to think back all of 5 years ago, the Bush administration specifically said they were scaling back CIA operations tasked with finding Bin Laden. Simply put: his capture was no longer being considered a realistic, attainable goal. However, when Obama came into office, one of the first things he said he would make a priority (after re-focusing our attention on Afghanistan) was the apprehension of one Osama bin Laden. He said this! And, guess what? He delivered!

7) If you honestly think this point will be forgotten come elections next year, you're either a crazy tea-bagger (heh, heh) . . . or FOX news.

And there you have it. Pretty much all I have to say, or will ever say, on the matter here on this blog. Life continues, and I can't say I feel any more safe than I was already feeling before the news broke (which was pretty darn safe, I might add). But it does feel like closure to have this monster no longer in our world, and for that a little part of me does sigh in relief. To our brothers and sisters fighting on our behalf out there . . . thank you for your sacrifice and dedication to protecting this nation.

And to SEAL Team Six, whoever or wherever you are: You guys ROCK! Thanks for a job well done. I look forward to playing an FPS game based on your mission sometime very soon. Because, let's face it, you know EA or Activision is already all over this!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Tao of David

This will be a long, serious read. Skip if you're not in the mood for such, because I'm about to bring it! As Eminem said: "But tonight, I'm cleaning out my closet."

Last week I read a Yahoo! Sports article on current UFC welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre, and how he dealt with bullying and the pressures of being the new kid in school when he was growing up. You can read the entire article here if you like.

Reading this got me to thinking on my own rough childhood, where bullying was just the icing on the cake. I realized that, despite how good I have it now, I had to work far too hard to get to where I am. What I'm talking about is this culture of fear that some bullied children live under. Like St. Pierre says himself, just the thought of going to school each day was a cause for fear. And it was like this for me, as well. It's why to this day I always hated school. From elementary on up through high school, going to school felt like going to prison. And when you grow up in the South Bronx like I did, prison is in fact an apt analogy for the public school system here.

Panama Trip - Day 1: Here There Be Balboas!

In late May, 2017 I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. A trip to Panama's steamy tropical province, Bocas del Toro. Now, before 2017 ...