Monday, October 31, 2011

He Giveth, And He Taketh Away . . .

So, only 2 days after putting up this post about the surprise snow storm we got here in NYC . . . it's almost all gone! Well, yes, I did predict it wouldn't stick around for long (no pun intended), but it still sucks. Here is a panoramic I took outside my bedroom window earlier this afternoon:

Aside from the very small patches of white you can still see, you would never know our area got nearly 6 inches of the white stuff over the weekend. I mean, look at all that green! Luckily for me the temps have not risen too much. We'll be in the low 50s for most of the week. And of course, it IS the start of November tomorrow. Things will only continue to get colder and snowier from here on out. Hip-hip HOORAY!

Oh, and yeah . . . Happy Halloween, all! It's not really a holiday I give a rat's ass about, but all my other adult friends seem to have lost their minds today so -- have fun! :)

Now, bring on Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Suddenly In The Mood To Re-Watch Game Of Thrones

. . . Because, Winter is HERE!

Okay, okay -- no, it's still Fall. Let me not get carried away. Heck, it's still OCTOBER for crying out loud! It never snows in NYC in October. Ever! And yet it did today.

Many of you know how much I love Winter. And snow. And so today it was like Christmas came early for me. Completely threw my body for a loop! All morning long I kept thinking it was much later in the year than it actually was. It all began shortly after 11 am. I looked out my windows and saw:

Holy HELLS! Now, yes, before some of you start: I know this is nothing compared to the Midwest or whatever. But that's not the point. Trust me, we're not strangers to snow here in New York, either. No, the point is that it is only October 29th. It's not even Halloween yet!

Another thing is, the stupid forecasters got it all wrong. They kept going on and on all last night about how only the surrounding areas of upstate New York and New Jersey would get snow, and that NYC would have mostly rain and ice during the day today before turning over to SOME snow near midnight. Well, guess what? They were WRONG! And not only was it snowing so early in the day, but it started to pick up furiously less than an hour later:

Wow! Now that's what I like to see! I was so happy I didn't know what to do with myself. Fortunately (or, maybe the best word is UNFORTUNATELY, according to my wife), we had to go out in this stuff! Yup, Lisa and I had already made plans for today, and so off we went. I couldn't get over the fact that we were busting out the winter clothes so soon, too -- coats, boots, gloves and scarves! The temp reading was a nice 34 degrees out. In October. Before we left, I took one last pic. You can already see how it's starting to stick and accumulate, despite the fact that the trees and grass are still green here:

All in all, this was a delightful surprise for a Saturday. It greatly lifted my spirits, and at the same time I got to witness some pretty sketchy looking driving on the roads from drivers who should really know better about handling themselves in snow. I drove through not one but TWO freakishly cruel blizzards last Winter and survived, so I felt like I was a master at it by now. Today's snow was great, but in actuality it really only amounted to a dusting. Child's play, really. I imagine it will all be gone by mid-afternoon tomorrow, too. Bummer!

Still, I find myself daring to hope this means we'll be getting an early and ferocious Winter. I honestly thrive on such chaos, it seems. I absolutely get off on it!

Yes, I said it before and I'll say it again: I am WEIRD! :)

Hope all of you are having a fun weekend as well. Unless of course you're Texas Rangers fans, then . . . uh, yeah.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last Night I Flew Again

Or, maybe it was early this morning. I can never tell.

Anyway, I had the most interesting of dreams last night. I, and two other unnamed friends, were trapped in a world where humans had been enslaved by vampires. In this dream, I remember being in a dark urban alley, where the tenement buildings all around me soared to skyscraper heights. It was as if I was in the Bronx (where I still live to this day), but all the buildings were as tall as the Empire State building now.

And I had to get out of there! For some reason, I was supposed to rendezvous with my friends at some big deal vamp hangout spot. So I started to rise up from the ground, higher and higher toward the sky. As I flew upward, hands reached out from the windows of the apartments all around me. They were human slaves, begging for me to bite them and give them the "gift" that would make them immortal. They were the downtrodden, living in ghettos meant to keep them down. Vampires were the elite, and these people were assuming that since I could fly, I was a vampire too.

But I was not.

So, not knowing how to help these people, I rose higher and higher until I was above the rooftops under a brilliant white moon. As usual when I fly in my dreams, I felt so free and wondrous up there -- all alone and removed from it all. But then I remembered my purpose, and started to fly in the direction of where I was to meet my friends. I remember being afraid that the real vampires would see me flying and come after me, so I hurried.

Eventually I discovered that the "hang out" of these elite vamps was this posh NYC-type restaurant at the top of the tallest tower in the city. Again, everyone assumed I was a vampire since I flew in rather than took the stairs, so I didn't have any trouble getting in. When I got to the table on the terrace where my friends were already waiting (who, curiously, still remained nameless and faceless) I got the impression that they had been able to get in by pretending to be my human thralls. One friend, a girl, had somehow faked puncture wounds on her wrist and wore makeup to appear more like a person who's been drained regularly.


Anyway, we started talking about why we were on this world. Apparently we were inter-dimensional travelers come to liberate this world from the vamps. So, from that I took that this dream had sci-fi leanings, and not strictly horror. I still don't know how I was able to fly--except that I always have the ability to fly in my dreams. I wrote about this peculiarity before here on this blog.

Anyway, some officious looking vamps came in and asked to see our credentials or something. But just as the dream was getting good, my alarm clock woke me up and I realized I had to get to work.

Don't you just HATE when that happens?

LOL! Anyway, that was my interesting dream this morning. Or last night. And, yes, for me this dream was a lot of fun and not scary. Nightmares for me don't involve vampires or zombies and such. Those types of dreams are always fun. No, real nightmares are if I dream about, like, losing my job or where I get kicked out onto the street and have to find shelter somewhere. Those are the dreams I don't want to be having. But any dream where I get to fly is a lot of fun. I love flying so much! It's the only superpower I've ever wanted. Well, that and invincibility. Since, after all, it would suck balls if I could fly at mach 5 and then end up slamming into a bird, or a jet, or a building or something and breaking my neck. What would be the fun in that, huh?

So, yeah, in case you didn't already know . . . I'm weird.

Or, as I like to say: I'm an SF writer! You didn't think we all dream normal mundane dreams now, did you? Tsk, tsk.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dude, Don't Be That Dude.

Just a random observation I'm making about the workplace. And by workplace, I am of course referring to my own. I've worked in other offices, though, and have witnessed the same behavior. So I'm sure there's some measure of truth to this beyond the personal.

Anywho . . .

How many opportunities are there for men to make fools of themselves at the office? PLENTY, it seems! I don't know why this is the case, but I notice that anytime you have a reasonably attractive and/or fit female co-worker at the workplace, she becomes an instant target of some of the most dorkable kiss-assers we have employed. And the woman doesn't even have to be a knockout by any stretch of the imagination. Seriously, there's no more criteria beyond the fact that she simply needs to not be, well, gross . . . and all the pathetic Y-chromosome losers come out of the woodwork! It's become a joke, I tell ya.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Drake's Next Adventure

So, in the midst of finishing up Gears of War 3 for the Xbox 360 and preparing to start up Batman: Arkham City on the PlayStation 3, I learned that we're only 2 weeks away from perhaps the greatest game of all time releasing on November 1st . . . Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception!!!

Yes, I know. Blasphemy! For surely, Batista, the new Batman game is the undoubted king this year? And you know what? It just may retain that crown, because from what I'm hearing so far this Batman game is just about better than sliced bread! And I've only played the first 10 minutes, but I'm inclined to agree so far.


The Uncharted series has always been a stellar, shining example of Triple-A game making. Seriously, each title has gone on to win tons of awards and plenty of Game-of-the-Year titles (GOTY) from various reporting agencies in the industry. The last game, Uncharted 2, was seriously the best game I ever played! And from what I'm seeing so far, this third installment is pulling out all the stops. Here, check it out for yourself. The launch trailer below was just released, and I'm PSYCHED beyond belief! Hoooo, boy!

In case you don't know the story, Nathan Drake is a treasure hunter descended from the historical Sir Francis Drake. His illustrious ancestor was quite busy in his time tracking down various legendary artifacts across the globe, and he's bequeathed the same unquenchable thrill-seeking genes down through the family line, it would seem. The Uncharted games are sort of a cross between the Indiana Jones movies and the Tomb Raider games. No, really, there is no better way to to put it. The series is just THAT much fun! If you're a gamer and you own a PS3 but you haven't yet played these games . . . seriously, dude, what the hell are you waiting for? Do you honestly want to miss out on THIS much greatness?

The trailer above wowed me, though. I knew the game was going to be great, but I had no idea it would look this fantastic! I didn't think it was possible to improve on the visuals of the second game . . . but now I eat humble pie, because this is ridiculously gorgeous! And the story looks soooooo intriguing. Gave me goosebumps!

Sure, I'll be missing out on it myself since I'll be busy playing Arkham City. I usually save the Uncharted games for the holidays, though, so this is actually coming out at just the right time. Hopefully by December 25th I'll have completed the Batman game. It's going to be close, but I'm sure I can pull it off.

Oh, and one more note on this whole Uncharted thing . . .

A co-worker of mine sent me a link today to this video clip of Harrison Ford playing six minutes of the yet to be released Uncharted 3:

Lucky man!!! But, LOL, it's funny seeing his reaction to the visuals. See, this guy is an ACTOR! He can pretend quite convincingly that this game is blowing his socks off. You can tell he's not a gamer, though, but at least he gives it the ole college try. This was part of a Japanese promo event to sell the game in the Land of the Rising Sun. Apparently they all love themselves some Harrison Ford. But, I guess: who doesn't love the man, right?

Han Solo is still cool after all these years. Bet!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend Update, Post Mortem

This blog post was to go up last night . . . but I completely dropped the ball. So, you get it a day late. Sorry.

You ever have one of those weekends where you have so much planned, but then so much other crap comes up that you get none of your original plans done? Yeah, that was me. Nothing bad, I must add, but I sure did get a lot of distractions to prevent me from doing what I wanted to do. Of primary suckitude was not getting to continue working on the novel. I had planned to bang out an additional chapter or two, but instead I ended up getting squat done. Oh well, I'm not too stressed about it. Work is coming along nicely on that, and I'm still ahead of the pace I had set a few months back. So, in the long run, I doubt this will be a major setback. As always, you can keep monitoring the word counter at the top of the page to see my progress. I'm about 20,000 words in right now, which I think is roughly 7 chapters or so. Nowhere near the end goal of 120,000 words, or course, but I'm not in a race.

Luckily, I did manage to get in my daily workouts. I almost didn't, because when I get majorly distracted by outside influences it can make it damn nigh impossible to find the motivation. But find it I did. For those wondering, I work out 6 days a week rain or shine. I really don't play around, and never really had a problem with motivation. My schedule is usually:

Mon. and Weds. -- weight training and 3 mile run (1 hour)
Sun., Tues. and Thurs. -- 4 mile run on treadmill with variable incline (35 mins)
Friday -- Rest day.
Saturday -- weight training and calisthenics (45 mins)

Saturday is always my big day since I workout with much heavier weights than I do during the week. So I was glad I forced myself to get that in this weekend. I always get cranky if I miss my Saturday workout.

Additionally, although many of you did not know this, I've been on a juice fast for the past 3 weeks. Yesterday was my last day. This was my first time undertaking such a thing, and I did it primarily as a cleanse. I had no intention of losing weight on it since I'm in very good shape as it is, but in the end I lost 6 pounds anyway. Wow. The "juice" I drank was nothing more than fresh fruits and vegetables put through the grinder. 100% natural, with nothing else added except some wheat grass and spirulina powder for an added energy boost. Still I'm extremely careful with my daily nutrition--I keep charts and everything! So I made it a point to make sure I got a more than adequate dose of protein, too, throughout the day. I'm very particular about my carbs to protein balance since I work out a lot and it's very important to me that I burn fat and build muscle at the same time.

So, yeah, after 3 weeks of eating like a vegetarian hooked up to a tube, I lost a bit of body fat and actually GAINED muscle mass. It's ridiculous, I tell ya! But I feel and look great. Today marks the start of real food, which my body had no problem adjusting to apparently. I guess because I'm still eating healthy anyway. I did have one lapse around a week back when my good buddy GYSC came to visit New York City for his first time. We watched the Jets vs. Pats game at a crazy little Irish pub in Hell's Kitchen, then I introduced him to good ol' NY pizza at this really cool spot I know nearby. But, see, I had already factored in at least one "cheat" day during this juice cleanse--and that happened to be it. So it was actually no big deal. I'm good at not guilt-tripping myself like that. It's how I've managed to keep in sound body and mind all these years. :)

So, at least that didn't get side-railed this weekend. What else?

Oh, yeah, I finished up playing Gears of War 3. You can read all about it in the "Now Playing" sidebar to the right of this page. And just in time for Batman: Arkham City to come out tomorrow! I will most likely pick the game up on Wednesday, however, and won't get around to playing it until this Friday. I have a busy week ahead of me, including catching up on some of the stuff I didn't get to do this weekend, like read and update my iPhone to the newly released iOS 5.0 update. That's going to take me a while to get through since it will erase everything on my phone and I need to make sure I do an adequate backup of all my settings and files first before I commit. Wish me luck!

So, that's all the news that's fit to print in my neck of the woods. How was your weekend?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Movie Trailers That OWNed Me, Big Time!

So, if you are big into genre movies like I am, no doubt you've already heard the hooplah surrounding the new trailer for Marvel's The Avengers movie. It was just released earlier this week and geeks are going batshit crazy over it. And I'm one of 'em! The film releases next May and will showcase some of the big blockbuster names in the Marvel universe who have already had their own standalone movies prior to now: Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America. Now imagine all that bad-assery teamed together in one flick. What do you get? A kick ass-o-pacalypse, that's what!!!!

So, yes, I'm am very geeked out at the moment. And if you want to check out the trailer and see what all the fuss is about for yourself, click here. May 2012 can't come fast enough!

But it got me to reminiscing about other movie trailers in the past that got me seriously amped up. Now, I'm not talking good movie trailers -- or even great ones. No, I'm talking FUCKING great movie trailers! These are the promos that, before I even really new what the movies were truly about, had me literally tingling from head to toe with excitement. Yeah, I know it sounds like hyperbole and all, but trust me--this really was my reaction to each and every one of these!

I'm going to embed clips of each movie's trailer below, followed by a brief explanation of why they--more than most--stand out to this day as key defining moments in my movie going experience. By now, of course, those of you who know me should know that I'm a huge movie buff. I own close to 800 DVDs and Blu-rays at home! It's positively SICK, I tell ya! But before they arrived on my shelves, I first had to have seen the movies in theaters. And before even that, first came the promotional trailers. This is what I wish to focus on here. These things can be works of art, I tell ya.

And so, here we go:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Autumn Is Officially Here

Well, for me that is.

I took my wife apple picking this weekend. The weather wasn't looking too great for it Friday night, pouring rain like cats and dogs and all. But bright and early next morning it looked like a doable day for it, so I took out a Zipcar from the nearby garage and we drove about 90 minutes north of NYC to a family orchard in Warwick. I've never been there before, but it was a quaint little place. The smell of trees and all that fresh air reminded me a lot of my college days spent in the northern wilds of Vermont. And although it drizzled on and off the entire time, it was a very nice day for picking apples.

My favorite apple is the Red Delicious variety. Why? Well, because it's neither too tart nor too mushy--two things I absolutely loathe in an apple. A good Red Delicious has a chewy outer skin, crisp and watery inner, and can be eaten practically to the core without oxidizing too badly and getting all brown and gross. My next favorite apple is the good ole Macintosh. That one's a little more sweet than the Red Delicious, but still very good. It has to be very fresh and not overly ripened for me to enjoy one, though. Which is why I never eat Macs in the city. By the time they reach the fruit stands here, they've usually gone too soft.

Luckily for me, the two varieties that were ripe on the trees this time of year (last week of September, early October) are the Red Delicious and Mac types. So I scored big time by going now. Yay me! The dirt roads in the orchards were very muddy, however, so the Nissan Sentra I had rented out for the day had a tough go at it. Everything was going fine, for the most part. We had picked around three bags worth of apples, and were just leaving the farm when the missus decided she wanted to check out a grove of Concords off the side of the road. Me being an idiot, I drove off the road right up under the trees.

Big mistake.

After we had picked a few apples, we got back in the car and I reversed. Only to find the Sentra going nowhere fast. Sonuvabitch! I got out of the car and found the tires mired deep in mud and loose grass. We were stuck! Why oh why didn't I pick a 4WD vehicle instead, I thought. The Sentra didn't even have a lower drive setting--grrrr!

I tried pushing the front of the car while my wife reversed, but still no go. The tires were only sinking deeper. It was one of the most frustrating predicaments I'd ever been in. At one point, I got so bent out of shape pushing at the front bumper that I slipped almost face first into the mud. Do you know what it feels like to have your clothes completely covered in wet mud, and nowhere to go to wash it off or change into another set? I would've settled for a hose at the back of a barn at that point, actually. Not only that, but the mud smelled like manure. Yep, that's right: I smelled like a cow's ass!

But anyway, that was the least of my worries. I still had to figure out how to get the car unstuck. We were out in the middle of nowhere, and God only knew where the main house was. Luckily, I found a stack of hay bales nearby. I grabbed one and lugged it on over to the car. I then proceeded to stuff hay beneath and behind the tires, jamming it in there really nice in the hopes that I could give myself some traction. After several touch and go attempts--by which I mean the car got unstuck and then stuck again numerous times--I finally managed to push the car to some gravelly ground with the help of a few kind strangers who assisted me in pushing.

Unfortunately, the Zipcar was covered in more mud than I was now. Arrgh! There was no way I could return it looking like this. Even worse, I had no choice but to climb back into the driver seat and muddy up the interior now.


Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed.

But, I took it all in stride I have to say. I drove and found the main area eventually. My wife and I sat down with some other pickers at picnic table and had some apple cider (yum!) and apple cider donuts (double YUM!!), and purchased a homemade apple pie to take home. Yes, it was a very apply Saturday for us. :)

But, boy, you should have seen the stares I was getting from everyone. I looked like I had come out of the losing end of a rugby match--YECK! I even had mud caked in my hair. And my shoes were shit! But they were hiking boots so that's what they were designed for, I guess. The whole time I was driving home, I couldn't wait to get out of those clothes, drop them in the washer on the "HEAVY SOIL" setting, and then take a nice hot shower.

But first I had to take care of the car.

Luckily I stopped by a car wash in the Bronx just before reaching home. I paid for the FULL SERVICE option and watched a team of undocumented workers who couldn't speak English go to town on the interior first. Then the car went through the old washer-roo and I watched on the waiting end as it got all spit-shined and polished. Wow! What a difference that made! I wish I had remembered to take pictures of it all, but by this time I just wanted to get home. I tipped the workers generously, though, then hopped in and burned rubber out of there! Got the Zipcar back to the garage with time to boot, then trekked the two blocks home while generating even more odd stares. Funny thing was, they're filming a movie in my neighborhood. The trailers had been set up on my street, and I'm sure someone thought I was some sort of extra or something. I passed by the crafts services truck and the guy working the counter gave me a double take.

Hmmm, on second thought . . . I should have tried to score some free food!

Anyway, I'm home now and I have delicious apple-tastic treats to show for it. Well not show, per se, as I don't want to bother with the camera right now. So you'll just have to take my word for it, but they're GOOD!

It's getting pretty chilly here in New York, too. Temps are now in the 60s for the following week, with nighttime temps even getting as low as the upper 40s here. Sweet! Perfect sleeping weather! I do so love this time of year.

Otherwise, I hope you guys had an awesome weekend. Tell me about it in the comments section, if you please.

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 ...