Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cake Me!

I was in the mood for some cake over the weekend, so figured I'd try an oldie but goodie family tradition--the pineapple upside down cake! This is a dessert my grandma used to make for us kids all the time, and was my personal favorite growing up. Problem was I didn't have a big enough cake pan to do the job. I'd always heard that the traditional method of making this classic was in a cast-iron skillet. I don't own a cast-iron-skillet, but I do have a very heavy, 12-inch Cephalon skillet that I thought might do the trick. And so I set to work on what I hoped wouldn't prove a colossal disaster.

First I melted an entire stick of butter in the skillet over a low fire. Then, I mixed in one cup of packed light-brown sugar until the entire bottom of the skillet was covered in the butter/sugar mixture. Atop this I placed around 8 slices of pineapple.




Some people use cherries, halved, to place within each pineapple slice center. My grandma never did this, so I didn't either. Perhaps next time. And like grandma, I decided to use pineapple from out of the can rather than going through the labor of cutting and coring a whole pineapple myself. After all, I didn't even know if I was wasting my time or not. So I wanted to stick as close to what I remembered from childhood as I could.

Next I combined all my dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, granulated sugar, salt . . . box of instant vanilla pudding mix!) with eggs, more butter, oil and a about a cup of pineapple juice from the can the slices came out of. I dug out my trusty old mixer and set it on medium. After around 2 minutes of this, the batter felt like just the right consistency.




Or so I thought. After pouring the batter into the skillet and over the pineapple and brown sugar, the result seemed a little too stiff for my liking. But I hoped beyond hope that this was just my paranoia taking over, and decided to risk it all. I placed the entire skillet in a pre-heated oven set at 350 degrees . . . and crossed my fingers.




Good thing the skillet has a steel handle! I let it bake for an hour, checking every 10 minutes to make sure the cake was rising the way it should be. What I saw each time was promising. It just rose and rose until the top was almost cresting the skillet's rim. Whoa!

But I'm happy to report the cake came out just fine! Take a peek for yourself:




I noticed the pineapple slices migrated quite a bit from the center during the baking process. Hmmm, will have to pack them in closer together next time, methinks. But overall the coloring and consistency came out just as I had hoped. Better yet, the skillet worked out perfectly! I never would have guessed. It does make me wonder what difference a cast-iron one might have made. I dunno.

But anyway, here is the final result:




Mmmmm. Doesn't that look simply scrumptious? Is your mouth watering yet? Maybe you'll want to click on that image to get a closer look? I know I for one can't wait to eat this! :)

I think next week I will try to make a pie for the very first time. Blueberry is my favorite, but I was thinking of going traditional American and making an apple pie as my first try. I will be making everything from scratch, including the crust. *meep* Wish me luck!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Gaming Milestone



Now this is interesting!

My favorite indie game of the year, Journey, just got nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media." It goes up against a slew of excellent movies this voting season, including: Hugo, Tintin, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and The Dark Knight Rises. This marks the first time an entire album has ever been nominated based off an original video game soundtrack. And what makes it so cool for me is that I genuinely enjoy the heck out of this game! (And, yes, I've already downloaded it off iTunes, of course!)

Journey is a very simple, beautifully moving adventure released exclusively on the Playstation Network back on March 13th. It takes roughly 2 - 3 hours to complete and costs less that $15 to download from the Playstation Store. There is no dialogue. No guns. No fighting. No drawn-out cutscenes. You start out as a mysterious robed figure who's born out of a comet hitting the desert sands early one morning. From this point on you must guide this figure across the dunes on some unexplained quest that even he or she does not understand. Your only clue is a great big mountain peak rising up to the sky in the far distance. A bright beacon of light beckons to you from the summit of said peak, somehow drawing you forward. It's a journey, you see? One that will take you across great expanses and against sometimes impossible odds. And like all great journeys, it's not the destination that is important, but your experiences along the way that shape who you will become.

Journey also uses online play in a unique way which I totally enjoyed. If your PS3 is connected online, the game allows other players to intrude on your session. Now, "intrude" is perhaps too negative a connotation here. In Journey, random online players can appear in and out of your adventure at any time, offering to team up with you along the way if you so desire. You cannot speak to one another, or even see the other player's gamer tag (aka, user name). Your only form of communication is through a series of musical notes. Yeah, how rad is that? Somehow, some way--through carefully placed musical cues and the context of your actions--you and your companion can get the gist of things and work together toward a mutually beneficial goal. Which is, to reach your destination atop that mountain! On my first play through, I ended up buddying up with some guy from China randomly chosen by the game's servers. Because we could not speak to each other, and because there is no dialogue or text to read in the game itself, cultural and language barriers were never an issue. It's was all about the gameplay! Which, frankly, is how it should be.

Check out the trailer below for just a taste of the beauty and majesty this title brings:




Journey is a title that urges pure, unadulterated exploration and puzzle solving. What I loved so much about it is that most of the story is inferred by the gorgeous scenery and music. As such, the orchestral score is some of the most haunting, evocative pieces you'll ever hear. The type of score you'd expect from a deep, well-thought out foreign indie flick. Not a video game!

So it is no surprise to me that the score was nominated for such a top honor. The game's composer, Austin Wintory, did an outstanding job. Wow! And kudos to all the hard work from the members of the orchestra, especially the main cellist, Tina Guo. She's absolutely fantastic here!




I also love how much the scenery and colors draw you into this world. You start out with the golds and reds of the unending desert sands, move on to the muted greens of a sunken world, and eventually on to the drab blues and foamy whites of the snow-capped higher elevations . . . moving inexorably toward that bright light beckoning to you from afar. Along the way, as you successfully solve puzzle after puzzle with the aid of an online buddy, your robed protagonists gain wonderful abilities like incredible jumping height and even a form of flight. Given how much I love flying, you can only imagine how cool this was for me!

But perhaps the most thrilling aspect of the game comes early when you have to dune surf your way to the end of the stage. Yes, you read that correctly: dune surf. As in, surfing on sand instead of water! Or "sand skiing," if you want to get caught up in particulars.

I'll leave you all with this video of a German player's dune surfing session, which not only confers the sheer fun of this game, but the amazingly gorgeous visuals. Check out the lighting and spectrum shift when entering the terraced area of the ancient city. Jaw-dropping!




By the way, those energetic carpet bundles you see gliding through the air alongside your character, dipping below and above the sands like dolphins, are sentient helpers you had to rescue earlier. They assist you sometimes, lending magic to your depleting stores so that you can gain lift and maintain flight when you most need it.

Did I not mention this game is awesome? You should all play it sometime. It's a title anyone can pick up and enjoy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Game of Thrones Looking Good For Next Season!

This will only matter to fans of Game of Thrones, I'm sure. But HBO aired this awesome Production Video last night which gives us our first real glimpse into what's in store for Season 3. Anyone who has read the books knows that the third novel--A Storm of Swords--is when things really get cracking. No joke! This book is the darkest, most violent, most shocking of them all thus far. And judging by this clip, it seems the show's producers are just as intent on capturing all this as we readers are in seeing it all come to our tv screens.

Check out the video for yourselves:




Emilia Clarke looks absolutely stunning in her brief interview (1:05 mark). Wow! And, who cannot be excited by our first on-set sightings of Jojen and Meera Reed (0:35 mark)? Last season I had speculated that we may never see the Reeds at all, since they should have shown up on the show by now. At the very least, I remember saying, only Meera would appear since Bran Stark seems to have taken on some of the role Jojen filled in the books. But, nope, both Reed siblings will arrive in season 3! I'm so excited.

Jojen is played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love, Actually), while Meera is being portrayed by Ellie Kendrick (Upstairs Downstairs). Sharped-eyed viewers may also notice a pair of acting luminaries in this clip in the form of one CiarĂ¡n Hinds (Rome) playing "the King Beyond the Wall," Mance Rayder (1:46); and the incomparable Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) taking on the role of the formidable Lady Olenna Redwyne, aka "the Queen of Thorns" of House Tyrell (0:54).

I love all the awesome talent, new and old, being poured into this fabulous show!

We still have a ways to go before Season 3 airs, unfortunately. Mark it on your calendars: March 31st! If you love the show but have not read the books, you're going to be in for one hell of a season. Damn!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Batista's 6 Golden Rules For Staying Out Of Prison

You know, there are times when the actions of my fellow human beings on this planet alarm me. I mean, I have to sit back and wonder just what is going on in people's heads when they do things that are just asking for trouble. Now, I'm no saint. I've made my own share of boneheaded mistakes. Hell, they've made me who I am today: a cautious, careful, law-abiding citizen. But when I look at the news, or listen to some of my friends detail the ails of their own lives, it becomes apparent that perhaps not everyone has learned the same lessons I have.

So I thought I'd write them down. These are generalized, grand sweeping rules I've adopted to govern a lot of what I do in life. Or, to be more accurate, how I go about ensuring that I avoid incarceration. As such there aren't many to list, but the few I have below are cherished chestnuts I maintain in my day to day dealings in order to ensure my cherished chestnuts remain out of the fire  . . . and out of the hands of some big dude named "Bubba."

So, let us proceed:


RULE 1 -- "Mind your damn business."

This should be pretty obvious. We all know it's true, after all. And yet, why do so many people ignore this sage advice? This is one I've been guilty of before in my youth, although usually for altruistic reasons. I was always that guy -- well meaning, but usually sticking his neck out too far for someone else when they don't really require his help. Yup, that was me. Too good for my own good. I got burned one too many times on this one, though, and so generally these days I very rarely help a stranger or acquaintance unless they ask me specifically for help. Because sometimes what you think is a solicitation for assistance is in fact just someone looking for another set of ears to vent their frustrations upon. And all that's required of you in such a situation is to simply listen. Things have the tendency to get much more complicated if you stray from this plan. This also includes breaking up fights and/or trying to referee an argument between two heated individuals. Take it from me, just stay out of it!

RULE 2 -- "Never lend friends money."

I would include family in this one, too, but for me family is different. You have just the same or even less of a chance of getting that money back from family members as you do with friends, sure. But the difference is that you're kinda forced to stay family with these people. Shared DNA, you know? Not so with friends. I swear, nothing sours a friendship faster than a buddy who promises to pay you back and then never does. For me, having to then ask said friend to pay me back is twice as bad and really infuriates me. I've had it happen before; suffice to say I no longer speak to these people anymore. It sucks. I can only recall once lending a good sum of funds to one of my best friends, and only because he was in such dire straits at the time. Happily, this friend wasn't a douche nozzle and actually paid me back. But, no, as a general rule I don't tend to risk this behavior often. I value my friendships, and would like to stay out of prison even more, thank you very much.

RULE 3 -- "Never speak aloud in public your opinions on politics or religion."

When I say "in public," I mean in front of a good sized crowd of people you don't know personally. Like on the subway or at some function you've been invited to speak at. First of all, to those who agree with your views -- you're simply preaching to the choir. What a waste of time! But, for those who do not agree with you . . . you could be risking a huge fight or, worse, your own life. See, you can control what you say. So exercise that control! What you can't control, unfortunately, is if Fred sitting in the third row five seats from the left remembered to take his psych meds that morning. Some people (i.e., MOST people) cannot stand when someone else has a differing outlook from their own. At best, they'll roll their eyes and hate your guts in silence. But at worse, Fred decides your right arm might look better lightly seasoned and sauteed with a nice side of buttered parsnips. Do not feed the lunatic, people! Keep your opinions to yourself.

RULE 4 -- "Never look for easy money."

There's no such thing. Honestly. Easy money is almost always illegal money. Case in point. A good friend of mine recently came into a great deal of dough. His live-in girlfriend--always looking for a good thing--convinced him to invest all that cash in a new development scheme her best friend was cooking up. This friend, not knowing much about real estate and investing, took her word that it was a sure-fire thing and agreed to go along with the plan. He had no idea what he was getting involved with might not be all that legal. All he focused on was that he would make tons more money back on the returns--and quick! Lo and behold, it ended up in the news and is now a huge federal lawsuit in the making. Lesson to be learned? Never trust "easy" money. It's never a sure thing, and is almost always guaranteed to send you to the big house.

Rule 5 -- "Don't commit a crime."

Well, duh. I know this goes without saying, but here's what I mean. Even if you are all but guaranteed to get away with it--don't do it! In my book, even a 0.05% chance of getting caught is too great a risk. A few years ago, a construction worker friend of mine tried to convince me to rent a truck so that we could drive over to the construction site he was working at and load up all the spare spools of copper wiring that were lying around. According to him they were surplus, and if we didn't pick them up quick the rich contractor would, and keep all the money from selling the excess to the scrap yard for himself. This friend swore up and down that there was nothing criminal about the enterprise at all, just a matter of beating someone else to the punch. The site was not guarded or surveilled, and he had the keys to access the grounds nonetheless. It would have been a quick in and out operation, netting us roughly 5 grand apiece! As tempting as it was, my common sense of course kicked in. I just knew this could not be legal. And sure enough, it wasn't! Had I given in to my friend's insistence, who knows where I might have ended up. But it's not all that difficult to guess . . .

Rule 6 -- "Don't be a gossip."

Seriously, no one likes a false witness. Or a rumor monger. Talking about someone else behind their back is probably the lowest form of human social interaction there is, and yet it is the most popular. I guess it's hardwired into our little primate brains. Something our ancestors did to pass the time while picking out gnats and fleas from each others 'dos. But it's just not cute. Not only does gossip have a tendency to quickly escalate to the passing of untruths and wild speculation, but it can end up really hurting the target of said gossip. And if we're dealing with the likes of poor, unstable Fred again . . . You remember Fred, right? Forgot-to-take-his-meds, Fred? Yes, well, you get the picture. I think in the annals of human history more fights have been attributed to he said/she said shenanigans than any other activity, save "yo mama" jokes. And as my man Yoda was once heard to remark: Fights lead to handcuffs. Handcuffs lead to jail. Jail leads to . . . (anal) suffering!


And there you have it. While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it does encapsulate the very rules I try my best to live by. Most of these are fairly obvious, true. And yet, I see them broken time and time again by folk who should really know better. Have you checked your local news lately? Exactly!

But of course, because I'm such a kind and gracious host, if you can think of any more rules of wisdom to live by and keep yourself out of the slammer, please post them in the comments section below. I'll be more than happy to add them to my list!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Help With A New Story

Sometime earlier this month, I mentioned a new short story I had just recently completed. You can find that post here. I also mentioned needing to trim it down to around the 5,000 word mark or below, even though the rough draft clocked in at around 6,800 words or so. It was a tall order, but I was dismayed when, upon re-reading the draft, I ended up only cutting around 400 words when all was said and done. Dang it! Simply put, there was way too much in the story which I felt was critical to what I, the writer, wanted to have said. Try as I might, I simply could not cut anything more out besides the odd word or three here and there. Baby stuff, really. Not the major cutting I would need to do in order to get the ms under 5k.

To make matters more complicated, a dear and trusted friend of mine who I shall not name but who's opinion I trust more than anything, agreed to do an early reading and was able to hash out some of the finer points with me. We both concluded that, rather than cutting anything from the manuscript, I should in fact add more. Specifically, my friend felt as if the story was missing a key scene. Something that would not only help explain the motivations of my protagonist better, but which would also allow some of the finer plot points I was being coy with make more sense to the reader. And I agreed with this assessment.

So I went back to the drawing board and crafted a whole new scene to insert. The scene turned out really well, and I'm very proud of what it brings to the overall effect now.

See? Collaboration is wonderful!

But here's the thing. The story is now 7,400 words long. Not terrible; it still falls under the 7,500 max for a classic short story. And I'm sure I can pare that down by another 200 words or so. But it might make this a little harder to sell to certain markets.

But that's besides the point of this blog post. What I wanted to ask of you, my friends, is if I could get any volunteers to do a second round reading for me? I trust my regulars here, and all I'm really looking for is someone to do a cold reading and give me their frank opinion on what I wrote. You don't have to get too technical with line edits and pointing out typos and grammos and all those sorts of nitpicks--although, I certainly would not begrudge that level of attention to detail. No, if all you can do is give me a quick assessment on whether or not the whole bloody thing works as a story (e.g.: yes, it does; or, no, it has some issues, dude!) then that will be perfectly fine as well. As will anything which falls in-between these two extremes.

All I'll say about the story itself is that it is dark and mysterious, with vaguely supernatural and religious undertones, although if you really know where to look you will realize that it takes very definite sci-fictional cues. Or, at least, SFnal ones. Speculative Fiction is, after all, a very broad and generous genre. This story in particular deals with the themes of death, love, and fate. With heavy focus on the first two.

So, if anyone is interested and up to the task, please contact me via e-mail (it's up at the top right of this blog, under my profile) or via my Facebook inbox, and I will send you the link and password to access the Word doc. It will be saved as an .rtf (Rich Text Format) file, so it should work on everyone's preferred device of computing. I hope.

And I must stress this: Please do not feel obligated. I will not disown you for not reading my story. I don't even really need a whole lot of readers; just one or two who are dedicated to the task and have the free time. Of course, the more will always be the merrier . . . but don't feel pressed if you really can't be bothered. I of all people understand how real life gets in the way of things, and there will be no hard feelings on my part. I totally understand.

That being said -- those who do undertake this mission, I will love you long time and FOREVER! :) Not that you in any way need to find that a significant motivator.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sometimes, Life Throws You A Rotten Lemon

. . .  And just you try making lemonade with rotten lemons!

Was watching a tv show last night where this boy gets reunited with his mom after 18 years, having not seen her since he was just a toddler. And I thought what a sweet moment that was, and how it gives one hope. And then it hit me: I'm never going to see my mom. Like, ever. And that hit me pretty hard indeed. See, there won't be any tearful reunions. No "sorry I missed out on most of your life, son." I will never have that. Ever. My life won't resemble a Lifetime movie, or a Hallmark card. My mom is gone from me forever.

Forever.

Now, sure, I've known this all along. But something about that moment, watching it happen on the tv screen, just brought it all home at once in a way that twenty-seven years of mourning have not. I mean, it struck me with such clarity and force that -- HOLY SHIT! I will *never* be with my mom again. I think somehow, some way, deep down inside . . . I think I actually had this feeling like I would see her someday. Like this nightmare would one day end and all would be well again. I would have my mom back, and this lifelong empty hole of loneliness inside me would somehow fill up and make me whole.

But, nuh-uh. Not happening, buddy. This is life. What, you thought it would have a happy ending? Fuck that shit!

Needless to say, I don't believe in heaven and angels and harps 'n' clouds and all that bullshit. I do believe that none of us on this Earth have even the foggiest real notion of what happens to us after we die. So, with that in mind, perhaps there is still a chance I will be reunited with my loved ones someday. Because, who's to say that I won't be, right? I sincerely doubt it, though. Something tells me that what you see is what you get with this life we have to live. So, I guess the message is: make the best of it when you can, while you can. This Earth is meant for living life to the fullest and getting the most out of such a corporeal, tactile existence.

Because we might not know what happens next, but it damn sure won't be like this.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We Have A Winner!


So, yeah, here we are. Wednesday morning.

Two days ago when I wrote this blog piece, I did in fact say that this morning would prove me right. And it certainly has. It's official: sanity has been restored! I'm feeling quite ebullient today to say the least. Despite the prognostications of the punditry who seemed intent on making this a very close race for the sake of ratings, all the so-called "battleground" states with the exception of North Carolina went to Barack Obama. So, really, how close was it all anyway? According to the majority of "in the know" political insiders before the election, there was no way Obama was going to get a clean sweep of these key states. Similarly, I began to hear such nonsense about how the prez could likely end up winning the electoral map, but lose out to the popular vote. The latter claim, because this country isn't run like a sorority, doesn't have any legal merit anyway. But it was being predicted nonetheless. And even that did not come true. By final count, Obama had 303 electoral votes to Romney's 206. There needed to be 270 to win, so the deal is done. We keep the same man in office for the next four years. And in popular votes (so far), he's garnered 50.3% (59,854,458 votes) to the challenger's 48.1% (57,176,621 votes). Even better. I don't know about you, folks, but I see no equivocation in those results. There's a clear-cut winner here!


We're sooo going to Disney World after this.

This race was nastier than it had any reason to be. It left many exhausted and embittered, disillusioned and hopeless. But sometimes that's politics. I remember feeling much the same back in 2000 and 2004. And yet, that too passed. Because I do believe that this country has already been headed in the right direction, I actually have a lot of optimism about the next four years. I believe we as a country needed the stability of keeping the status quo in order to truly get ourselves back on the right track. Mittens would have wrecked all that. So, yes, this is a HUGE win in my opinion. I also feel vindicated for having supported John Kerry back in 2004. I didn't want him as our candidate (I was rooting for Howard Dean), but I went along with my party because I thought getting Bush out of the White House by any means was worth swallowing my doubts about the man. But the rest of the country made me eat humble pie over that decision, and I was okay after a few days. Republicans will have to do the same now. Hello, this was your John Kerry! Mitt Romney was never the right person to send up against the Obama machine, but every Republican pretended to act as if he was. Hogwash! No one in their right mind should have believed in this flip-flopping corporate shill. But they hated the idea of a black man in the White House even more, to the point of ignoring common sense. And so, this is the result. You reap what you sow.


Mitt watches Karl Rove make an ass of himself
on Fox News. That sinking feeling . . .

Ah, yes. Vindication. It feel so good! And now, this ends your obligatory political blog post here on The Bimillennial Man for perhaps another four years. If even that.

Stay frosty, my friends.

EDIT:  For those wishing to view the clip of that blubbering ass Karl Rove desperately trying to deny Obama a win in Ohio--going against even the sober admissions of his cherished Fox News compatriots, no less--simply click here and sit back to enjoy the circus. I know I did.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Thoughts On Tuesday



I try not to get too political here on The Bimillennial Man, and that's not about to change. Not because I'm afraid of offending anyone (I'm entitled to my own opinions after all, aren't I?), but because I see it as rather pointless. After all, to those on the same side of the political fence as I am I'll just be preaching to the choir. And to those who hold opposing views to mine on how this country should be run . . . am I really going to be changing their minds? I didn't think so. So, yes, what's the point?

But seeing as how tomorrow is going to be a fairly important day on the political side of things here in the U.S. of A., and because I will be doing my civic duty as a tax-paying citizen, I thought I'd just briefly and even vaguely describe my general feelings on things.


1) I think it's fairly obvious that the guy I'm backing is in fact going to win. I mean, the media and polls will have us believe this thing is going to be scary and close, and may even involve another Florida voting disaster ala 2000's presidential election. But I'm not buying any of it. I think it's going to be fairly by the books and that my candidate will win. Not because I'm being overly optimistic and hopeful, but in fact realistic. I've been telling my family members this for several weeks now. I have the same feeling now as I did in 2004 when I was absolutely certain John Kerry would be receiving the short end of the stick with Bush's bid for a second term. It's eerie how very similar things now compare to the race back then, in certain respects. But for me to say more I would have to become specific, and I've already stated that this blog entry would not be about that. We'll just have to see if my feelings are correct come Wednesday morning. The world as we know it won't end whoever wins, however, so don't expect any major losing of one's shit here on this blog then. It's going to be business as usual for me regardless, so don't cry for me Argentina.

2) If you are a citizen and don't vote, you are an ignoramus. I'm sorry, but it's true. I don't care what your carefully rehearsed excuses are about the political leanings of the state you live in, the demographics of your neighborhood, or how you no longer live in the voting district you're currently registered for. Just STFU and admit that you suck at being an informed, participating citizen and would just like the country to run itself. It's okay, really. This country was set up to include and represent people like you, whether the rest of us like it or not.

3) Please stop with this Popular Vote vs. Electoral College debate already. People whom complain about the electorate voting system in place here in the States obviously don't know shit about how demographics work. This country would be a disaster if we chose our presidents based on a popular system. The nuances of the Electoral College are many, yes, and at times they may seem convoluted to the point of deliberate obtuseness bordering on the criminal . . . but it's still a whole lot more accurate than a popular vote could ever be. I will always support the electoral system we have in place here, even when at times it may seem to favor the other guy in the race. Just because the candidate you didn't vote for wins by a very small margin in electorate ballots doesn't automatically make the system bunk. It's still a far sight more civilized than the chaos and mob rule mentality that would reign were we ever to go back to the populist format. Ugh! No thanks, please. I'd like my leadership choosing system not to resemble American Idol-style pandering, thank you very much.

4) To those complaining about too many attack ads and annoying commercials on tv, I say: you still watch commercials? WTF dude, it's called a DVR. Fast forward through that crap! Or, skip tv altogether and do something else. I think throughout this entire year I might have seen maybe three pro-Romney or pro-Obama ads combined. And somehow I've managed completely to miss any negative ads out on both candidates. True, New York is not a battleground state and so I have less inundation of these particular tv spots than those in say, Ohio, do. But then I also believe commercials were made to be ignored, and you have only yourself to blame for paying so much attention to them. Me? If I can't fast forward through them, I find myself checking e-mail or Facebook on my phone until the program I'm watching resumes. Romney could come on tv hawking Joseph Smith's golden underwear and it would barely register a blip on my care-o-meter. If you already know where each candidate stands on the issues, as well as their track records in such regards, then those ads have nothing new to tell you anyway. Just ignore them. The rest of us certainly do.


And there you have it. My general thoughts and feelings on the political climate the day before an election. I may elect (pardon the pun) to post something equally vague and non-impacting come Wednesday when (hopefully) all the hooplah is over. Or I might not.

Just please, for the mother of all that's good, please go out and vote if you are eligible to do so. Don't be a mouth breather, not on this.

Thanks all!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Aftermath, Plus More

So, as you all know by now, that bitch Sandy did quite a bit more damage to the Northeast than even I had anticipated. New York City is one hell of a mess right now, but even worse are the surrounding seaside communities in New Jersey. Jeez, Louise! My heart goes out to all those people who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their security.

My area came through unscathed, though, and so I suppose there are some blessings to be thankful for. All my family and friends are fine, too. Even better! It's going to be a while before subways are running again and power is restored to most of the city. So in the meantime I'm stuck at home working via my company's VPN and managing my people who are in varying stages of okay to living in the pre-Industrial Age. But we'll persevere. Thanks for all the concern, comments, and e-mails everybody. I truly appreciate it, I really do.

I did mention a short story of mine I recently finished. It's been a while since I've written one to completion, due to all the personal issues I've been going through this year (and which shall remain vague here on this blog). But I'm proud of it. As I said before, it requires some editing and a lot of polish, so I'm going to be busy with that for the next two weeks or so before I send it out to my first line of readers and then eventually to the markets. God I hope that particular line bites.

And just for fun, I've decided to paste a little passage from the new tale to whet your appetites. At least, I hope it whets it . . . and not whatever the hell the opposite of whetting is. Dulling? Yeah, I hope it doesn't dull your appetites, folks. Oh hell, let me stop typing and just paste the damn thing already.

Here you go:

". . .But the words get caught on his tongue when he notices your other eye. The one that’s definitely not human, but something out of every boy’s darkest nightmare. The inky black eye of the monster under the bed, that gremlin in the closet. The demon crawling out of that TV screen. Whatever they call it, you’re all that and more wrapped neatly into a slim five-foot-ten frame chosen to put your prey at ease. But the poor boy looks ready to wet himself. You’ve dropped your guard and he’s spied what no mortal has ever seen or lived to tell. It’s his lucky day, though. It’s not his time to die, and you have other fish to fry besides."

What in god's name could I possibly be writing, you're wondering after that? Well, you're just going to have to wait. I had a lot of fun writing that paragraph and many more like it, though. Usually that's a good sign for the story as a whole, but I will have to wait and reserve any real judgment until after the 3rd draft is complete.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm's Comin


Working from home today because the city is shut down due to "Frankenstorm" Hurricane Sandy currently bearing down on the northeastern seaboard. Landfall is estimated to be a few hours from now, just a little south of Atlantic City, although I wouldn't find it far-fetched if it lands somewhere north of there. Either way that places New York City directly in the path of the hurricane's strongest winds on its northeastern quadrant. Already we're experiencing over 50 mph winds, and the worst won't even come until after 6 tonight when winds are projected to reach anywhere between 80 and 90 mph at their strongest. Yikes!

Of course, the actual worst part is not so much the winds (we've weathered worst hurricanes, wind-wise), but the huge storm surge it will bring when high tide comes. We could see 11 foot waves crashing into lower Manhattan, which is more than high enough to breach the barriers in place down there. And wouldn't you know it, that's near where I work!

Luckily the city's had the foresight to shut down the metro system and tell everyone to stay home. I'm doing fine where I live, as we're quite elevated above the rest of the city and all our power lines are beneath the ground. Living here all my life, we've never once had the power shut down due to a storm. Not once. And so long as I have my Internet and refrigerator, I'm sitting pretty and waiting the whole thing out.

So, in other words: I'm doing fine, my friends. Completed the short story I've been working on last night and looking forward to going back in and pruning about 2,000 words or so. Will be one hell of an edit, but I think I can do it. I want to get the story under 5k words if possible, although that might be too tall of an order for the type of tale I wanted to tell. We'll see.

How are things in your neck of the woods? If you're in the path of Sandy as well, how are you faring?

Lastly, I hope you all are preparing for Halloween later this week. Last year Mother Nature came as a Nor'easter. This year, she's a hurricane. Can anyone top that?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Where I Write

It's no secret that writers are strange people. And even stranger still are some of the odd habits they keep while engaging in their craft. I for one cannot write with a pencil. I absolutely abhor pencils, have ever since I was in the first grade. I have a peculiar aversion to the feel of graphite rubbing on paper, you see. It sets my teeth on edge! But when it comes to writing, I seem to have lost the ability to write with pen and paper as well. Everything I've written since the age of about 16 has been on some sort of electronic medium--a word processor in high school, or some variation of the personal computer ever since. Writing stuff longhand is simply far too slow for my needs. I need a keyboard of some sort.

Jane Austen's desk. (Photo credit:
Eamonn McCabe.
)
Then we come to where a writer writes. I'm amazed sometimes by all the spoils and riches some aspiring writers need to get themselves going. Some need to be out in nature with a yellow pad in order to get some inspiration, while others can go for long sessions at the local coffee shop. Some writers have big, elaborate home offices with pretty tapestries hanging on the wall and large bay windows overlooking some picturesque landscape, where everything is situated just right to conduct proper writerly affairs. And still others need only a small corner of the bedroom to ply their trade. Worst, however, is the writer that seems to crave more the knowledge that other people can see him writing big important writerly things in public rather than the actual task of creating something worthwhile. This is the pretentious writer type, whom I loathe with a passion.

Then there's where I fit in. And here I take a page from Stephen King, who must write with absolutely no distractions. His preferred writing spot when he was an up and comer was either the attic space when he was younger, or in the basement seated next to the heater when he was older. This is so me. I'm not very particular in the decor of where I write, but it must share some basic characteristics. For one, I need to face the wall. Preferably a bare wall with little to no hanging art. Second, no windows. I get easily distracted and the last thing I need is to be able to see the whole wide world outside when trying to focus on my own created worlds. And lastly, my space needs a door. Because, see, whenever I sit down to write creatively, I mentally shut the world out around me. And a door is that one physical link to the actual world that can correlate with the symbolic action of shutting all the nonsense out. Keeping it behind the barrier, as it were.


My desk, no fuss no muss. Okay, a whole lot of muss!

My space is cozy, bland, and best of all--easily cut off from the rest of the house around me. Once that door closes, everyone knows to leave me the hell alone until I emerge, hours later, bleary-eyed and drained of color. This is how I roll. Over the years I've been unable to write well any other way. On a laptop on the Amtrak to Philly? Nope! Won't work, too many bumps and station stops. In a cubicle at the local library? Nope, still too many noises and people walking by. I've never tried a coffee shop before, simply because I don't drink coffee and can't tell you the last time I've ever walked into one. But I'm pretty sure that wouldn't work for me, either. I mean, I can write low-energy stuff in such situations: work related docs, e-mail . . . this blog. But to write creatively I crave silence and solitude.

To me it all makes sense. I don't know about you. So tell me, what is your process? Better yet, where do you write?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Driving First

So this past weekend I drove my grandma, sister, sis's boyfriend, and their dog 130 miles north up to my aunt's house in rural upstate New York for a family get together, and in the process experienced a driving milestone that I've managed to go 18 years avoiding. Yes, I got pulled over by a state trooper for speeding!

GASP!

I saw the dude, too, right at the last moment. Parked against oncoming traffic in a tree-shaded ditch just past the shoulder. I had already avoided five similar speed traps prior to this one, and was only 20 minutes away from my aunt's home when it happened. Grrrrr! Ain't that often the case? Well, what the hell would I know? Like I said, this was the first time such a thing has ever happened to me. So I zoomed right past the guy and immediately knew I was in trouble. And so I did what any honest, law-abiding driver would do: I immediately shifted into the right lane, slowed down, and tried to hide among the other cars travelling the road with me.

But I guess these guys have seen this trick before. Because, nope, didn't fool him one bit! Next thing I knew, blue and red lights were flashing in my rearview. Shit! So I pulled over and this very young state trooper dude comes up to my window. My sister's dog is barking nonstop from the back seat, mind you, but this didn't seem to faze the guy at all.

After asking for my licence, he asked: "Why are you in such a hurry?"
Me: "I have no idea."
Him: "Do you know what the speed limit is?"
Me: "Fifty-five?"
Him: "And do you know how fast you were going?"
Me: "Uhhhh . . . seventy?"
Him: "Seventy-seven!"

Ouch! Busted! Yes, sometimes I have a bit of a lead foot, folks. Especially on super long, sparsely traveled scenic highways when I'm bored out of my skull. And especially when I'm almost--just ALMOST--at my destination. But the trooper was a nice sort, and seemed to warm up when I told him of our destination. I guess he was a local and knew the town where my aunt lived. He must have figured I wasn't some out of town gunrunner or something, just blowing through on my way to Canada. My granny certainly wasn't packing, anyway. So he ran a check on my license, found that, as usual, my record was completely clean, and then let me go with just a promise that I wouldn't do that again.

I told him that I wouldn't, and I meant it. I really did. But of course . . .

Anyway, so that was my brief and first real run in with "the law" this weekend. How was yours?

Oh, and before I go, here are some pics of the rental car and my aunt and uncle's property where we had a cookout and even a bonfire going to ward off the mid-October chill. The last three pics are panoramas acquired using the new automatic function on my iPhone 5. Pretty nifty for "cheating" your way through wide-angle shots. As always, clicke for larger views.


The Ford Escape in front of my aunt's house.
Not bad for a Zipcar.


My aunt's driveway, with their newly purchased trailer in the back.


Bonfire a-brewing out back. My sister's dog, Shiva, in the foreground.


Food and beer aplenty out on the patio. One of the guests
brought their own pooch, Ralph, to the party.


As you can see, they're not quite at peak foliage season up in the higher elevations of New York state yet--but they're very close! Of course, down here in the city we won't be seeing those colors until the end of the month or right around Election Day.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

She Drives Me Crazy!

"... Like No One Else! She Drives Me Crazy, And I Can't He-elp My Se-elf!"

So, it seems that article I wrote earlier last week discussing the dangers of judging people based solely on their looks went over rather well with followers of The Bimillennial Man. And not just among the usual commenters, I might add. Someone contacted me in response to that post and posed the following paraphrased question:

"So, just for kicks, what do you find attractive in a woman?"

Oops! Forgive me. I suppose in all that writing I forgot to cover this particular base. Although reading between the lines it becomes rather apparent what I don't find attractive in a woman, right? Still, I've given the question some thought. And though I don't actually live by a do or die list of qualities she must pass in order to earn my undying devotion, there are certain physical and intellectual traits in a woman that turn me on immensely. To make things easier, I'll separate them into those two categories:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kids Remember More Than You Realize

Kids are aware of a great many things going on around them than most adults realize. Especially the unpleasant things. I'm often amazed by how quickly parents forget what it's like to be a child, in fact. Sometimes we need to take time out and remember that children are not miniature adults. Some of what you enjoy as a grownup does not necessarily correlate neatly with the needs and wants of a child. Sometimes we forget just what the world looked, smelled and tasted like to us as children. Other times, things simply get lost in the translation of our muddled memories. Memories which, if only properly recalled now that we're supposedly more "mature," might help us understand the antics of that screaming toddler in the corner. For instance: do you even remember what orange juice used to taste like when you were a child? I don't know about you, but I do! When I was a young lad, I can remember orange juice tasting extremely bitter and acidic. I wasn't very fond of it, but now I absolutely LOVE the beverage. It's so sweet and tart and, when properly chilled, can be quite the thirst quencher. But try telling that to a preschool aged David. He was having NONE of it!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

It's In the Eye of the Beholder


I've been thinking lately about the importance society places on physical beauty. We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. What I find physically attractive in the opposite sex might not be the same qualities another man appreciates. And that's fine. Life would be pretty dull, if not just a little contentious, if we all found the same selection of people hot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The iPhone 5: Why I'm Not Underwhelmed

Well, my birthday came and went without much fanfare as usual. For those into details, it was a week and a half ago on Sep. 7th, and I turned 36. And while I didn't do anything on that day except complete one more revolution around the Sun, I did bake brownies in celebration. So that's something!

Anyway, seeing as how it is my birthday, and also seeing how I've had my current iPhone 4 for over two years now, I thought it was nice of Apple to schedule a major unveiling of their latest iteration of this popular product line around the same time. As a mild technophile I always suspected I would be getting the next iPhone anyway. Not just because I was due for an upgrade, but because I really do enjoy the form factor and GUI of Apple phones. So it was a no-brainer that the iPhone 5 would be this year's birthday present to myself. All I needed to see was a reasonable improvement over my current phone. That's it.

And that's not only what I got, but a bit more.


The iPhone 5 (left) vs. the iPhone 4 (right). Fight, fight, fight!


Friday, August 31, 2012

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days . . .

Well folks, it's that time of year again. When the sun sets that much earlier than it did back in June, and the temps are not quite as baking hot and unforgiving as mid-July. Yes, I'm talking about the close of my most hated season of them all--Summer! Haha, it's finally here!

Now, officially Summer doesn't end until September 22 this year--incidentally, my wife's birthday. But here in the States the unofficial end to summer is Labor Day, which is coming up this Monday, Sept. 3rd. And how do I plan to celebrate the close of the season? Well, with a small cookout of burgers and dogs at home. We don't have a back yard or anything, but we do have a George Foreman grill and a lot of imagination. And, hey, that does count for something, you know?

Actually, my animosity toward the season hasn't always been the case. It only really started once I graduated college. Before then, summers were great! Summertime was the bestest time, because it was the time of no school. Hooray! Remember that feeling? I don't care how good of a student you were, the minute that final bell of the school year rang, you WERE excited! Don't try to deny it. Summer was a time of idyllic days playing with your friends, and eating lots and lots of ice cream. Your family went on exciting trips, and you might have even visited a big amusement park or two along the way.

To be honest, I miss that. I miss it a lot. I was just walking through the little park across the street from the house I grew up in the other day, reminiscing of how I used to play baseball there with my brother and our friends during middle school summers. Even in the South Bronx, as dangerous a town as it was to grow up in, we still had a place to run around and be kids. For the most part the adults ignored us and the other kids in the neighborhood were either locked up or too busy getting in trouble elsewhere. So that park was OUR little spot. We owned it, insomuch as a bunch of 12- and 13-year old know-nothings could own anything, let alone a piece of public property. But what did we care about such things? We would meet there by the big ole Elm tree which served as home plate and backstop. My brother and I owned the bats and gloves, another friend the balls. Someone would inevitably bring a brown paper bag or an old baseball cap to serve as third base, while a natural flagstone served as first (a half-buried rusted pipe delineated our second). The pitcher's "mound" was a worn patch of earth where nothing natural grew, and we had to imagine the baselines in our heads. Yet to us kids this might as well have been our private Yankee Stadium! We would play from dawn to dusk--and I mean that literally! Sometimes, even, we would play when the sun was almost down and we could barely see the ball leave the pitcher's hand. We never let such small things as "facts" and "physics" worry us, though. We certainly never stopped for rain or thunder or 100+ degree heatwaves, neither.


Summers were like this, except: less butterflies, more tetanus shots.


I swear, many an epic battle was waged on that makeshift baseball field those summers! We would arrive home dirty and exhausted, ravenous like West Virginian coal miners after a long day of back-breaking labor. It made us robust, hearty--strong in that way of young men just growing into the semblance of their adult bodies. We were champions!

In-between baseball matches we would also go swimming at the nearby public pool, watch movies at the newly opened cineplex a few blocks further away, and play lots and lots of video games. Those were the best days to be so young and carefree!

Yes, walking through that park the other day reminded me of all this. I remembered what it was like to once love the season I so despise now. Nowadays, summers mean unbearable heat and long, unforgiving days at the office. It means daily runs that are that much more taxing on my body than they are in the winter, or meals that are made more quickly and with less effort than I would otherwise be willing to expend in a cooler kitchen. Summers are devoid of any exciting holidays, too. The months are long and monotonous, broken up only by the brief excitement of a quick vacation if we can afford it. Otherwise, it's three months of nothingness. Ninety-odd days of life-sapping commutes in foul, sweat-smelling subway cars back and forth to offices filled with people who are likewise missing those carefree summer days of childhood.

Is it no wonder I hate Summer so much? Good riddance, I say! I welcome Labor Day and the restart of the school season with open arms. My younger self would not recognize this new me, of course; this older me. But this older me loves the coming of Autumn and its cool, crisp days ahead. Days of apple picking and baked fruit pies. Of rustling multi-hued leaves and Halloween. Ahhhhh! I can smell the roasting pumpkin seeds already! Can you?

Here's to you, Summer time. May you be on your way and not show yourself 'round these parts for another nine months. I certainly won't miss you.

Sound off below in the comments section if you, too, are happy to be putting away your white pants and shorts for more somber hued clothing this weekend. Or if summer is actually your thing, let us know why you are so sad to see it going bye-bye. I would imagine those of you living in less urban and people-choked locations of the world than here in New York City would mourn the changing of the season more than most. Heck, if I lived in Vermont like I would love to again some day, I'd probably be singing a different tune myself.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Freak



Jennifer Hillier is a regular visitor here on The Bimillennial Man -- you may have seen her around a few times. I consider her a very good friend in fact, and have been vicariously following her burgeoning writing career for the past several years. Now, true, I don't review books here on the blog anymore. For one, I simply don't have the time these days. And, two, well . . . see point one. The process is even doubly troublesome when reviewing the published work of a friend, because to be honest I lack the ability to be impartial and objective when it comes to my friends' books--HA!

Needless to say the only reason I'm breaking this rule now is because the book in question is FREAKing awesome! Therefore, I have no need to be impartial here. And, also, I don't have to worry about hurting my friend's feelings. So in other words, you know right off the bat that this book is an amazing read simply by the fact that it's even being reviewed here. I'm so giddily excited for my friend, and so happy that she's getting all the praise and love she deserves from the reader community at large. Alas, consider yourselves properly forewarned of some shameless squee'ing taking place in this blog entry. And if you're okay with that, then continue reading below for the skinny.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hello, Hello!



Just a quick note to let you know that, yes, I'm very much alive--and that reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Heh, heh.

Sorry, couldn't resist paraphrasing Mark Twain there.

We flew out to Las Vegas over the weekend to attend my little brother's wedding. It was originally planned for Houston, which I was actually looking forward to visiting for the first time. But then it got changed at the last minute to that little gem of debauchery in the middle of the Nevada desert. Vegas is a great town, despite the way people seem to always put it down. But at the same time, it's a little alarming how easily folks discard their morals and personal regard while in Sin City. It's true that pretty much anything goes there, and that whatever it is must truly stay there. Because, honestly, no one would ever believe you back home if you told them the things you did or saw there.

I've been away from the blog world for quite some time. Can't really say why. I think the whole blogging idea is wearing itself thin. At least for me. Plus, I have a lot on my plate these days. Nothing worth talking about here, though.

Anyway, this was meant to be quick and I meant it. So, it's good to be back home and I'm looking forward to this hated season coming to a close and my favorite (Fall) starting up again.

On one last note, I would like to say I've been greatly enjoying the Summer Olympics coverage these past couple of weeks. As always, USA represented itself extremely well on this world stage. You know, for how much other countries rib us for being so fat, we sure do win an awful lot of medals at major international sporting events, no? And against much bigger countries with far rigorous training programs to pump out machine-like athletes. Hmmmm . . . gee, I wonder to whom I could possibly be referring. Do you know?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Diversity In The 'Pocalypse



I swear, lately these days I've been beaming non-stop with pride--and I must admit, just a tad bit of jealousy--at the wonderful success a lot of my writer friends have been receiving this year. It seems everywhere I turn now someone I know is being published, re-published, or about to be published. And I couldn't be happier for them!

But what happens when many of those friends end up in the same sci-fi anthology alongside highly admired established authors in the field, I ask you? An explosion of AWESOMENESS, that's what! Awesomeness that all the squee'ing in the world can't adequately exhaust. Trust me, I've tried. It just doesn't work.

But such is the case with Diverse Energies, a new anthology being released by Tu Books later this Fall. This is a collection of short stories taking place in a future dystopia, written by some of the most diverse writers in the industry not just in terms of background, but writing styles as well. And trust me, these are good writers. Really, really good! For a wannabe like myself who just eats this stuff up, the anthology's TOC is a real who's who of hot talent around today. And believe me, it's even better when I can call some of these names friends. Names such as Cindy Pon, Tempest Bradford, and Rajan Khanna to name just a few.

In addition, there's Paolo Bacigalupi and Ursula K. Le Guin also contributing short stories, among others. Mr. Bacigalupi is perhaps my favorite new writer in SF. His novel, The Windup Girl, had me raving like some fried-out street preacher to any who would hear my glowing recommendations of this amazing near-future tale. While Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness is perhaps the most influential, seminal and important piece of fiction I hold near and dear to my heart! Yes sir! It's right up there with A Canticle For Leibowitz and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress as having the most profound influence on my desire to become a writer.

So, needless to say Diverse Energies is going to be a must-buy for this fan. I swear, short-story collections don't get more full of WIN than this! Oh, and the whole shebang is edited by Tobias Buckell, whom some of you may remember me praising a while back here.

So tell me, what are you waiting for? Pre-order this gem, like, RIGHT NOW!!!

Unless that is, like me, you want to try and snag a free copy of the book before it's even released? Yes, that's right, my good friend Cindy Pon is actually GIVING AWAY a free ARC of the anthology to any who will play by her nefarious rules. And what might those rules entail? Well, hop on over to her wonderful blog for more details by clicking here.

In the meantime, I'm going to get back to writing. Being surrounded by all this insane talent has GOT to rub off, right? I mean, RIIIIGHT???

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Earliest Scaries

Hi. This is me, age 4. So for those counting, circa 1980 or thereabouts. Around this time, I was afraid of a great many things. The dark. Thunder 'n' lightning. Warm milk (yeah, don't ask). I was just thinking about this today, the crazy things that would frighten me as a boy. Some of it, like the warm milk mentioned above, doesn't make much sense to me now as an adult. It's an interesting reflection into the mind of a child, though, don't you think? I mean, it explains how we adults sometimes don't understand why kids wake up screaming in the middle of the night. All sorts of silly things scare them, and sometimes as a parent you can only try your best to understand. I'm not a parent, but I know parents. And, also, I remember my mother's reaction to my own "scaries" growing up. Unlike most people, however, I actually do recall many examples of my fears when I was child. Below are just a handful of the more entertaining ones. They revolved mostly around sound, oddly enough. And while some you'll just have to take my word for, others should be more obvious in their horrifying elements. I'm sure you share a few of these terrors yourself. Or, at least, the little version of you probably did, once upon a when.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hitman: Absolution Trailer Parody

Sometime early last year I put together this blog entry regarding a crazy dude by the name of Toby Turner (aka, "Tobuscus") who goes around creating these wildly hilarious parodies of popular video game trailers. Back then I linked to the ones for Dead Island and Dead Space 2. This time, Tobuscus has tackled a game I've been highly anticipating for later this year, Hitman: Absolution.

Quick background. I first fell in love with this series back during Hitman 2: Silent Assassin's run on the Playstation 2. The last one in the series I played was Hitman: Blood Money, which was a fine achievement in video gaming I must say.




The main character of Agent 47--the bald-headed, barcode sporting, white-shirt-and-red-tie-wearing assassin extraordinaire--is one of the most iconic badass figures in modern gaming today, and even the feature film starring him wasn't all that bad. But Hitman: Absolution seems to be going to the next level. I mean, awesome does not even adequately encompass all that this game is looking to deliver! Here is one of the more recent trailers, which doesn't show any gameplay but which is a really cool setup to the story that is to come:





Now, as is his wont, Tobuscus went ahead and made his own parody--a literal translation, if you will, of the trailer you just saw. As usual with these I could not stop laughing. This is some good shit right here! Seriously, if you're a gamer or just like to laugh, do yourself a favor and check out both the original trailer above and the parody version below:





Was that not pure genius? I thought so.

And -- yippee! November can't come fast enough!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Whoa, Father's Day!

I completely forgot about Father's Day this weekend. Whoops, silly me! To me it was just another Sunday, and I ended up doing the usual Sunday things I do. Writing, playing video games (Assassin's Creed 2), running 4 miles, and eventually settling down at night to watch tv with the wife. You know, your average restful Sunday.

I've always been ambivalent about Father's Day. On the one hand, I've never had what one would call a "father." My real father was never around, and my stepdad ended up taking our mother from us at an early age. On the other hand, for when it mattered most, I only had the women of my mother's family to raise me. They made me who I am, without any influence from a real male authoritative figure in my life. So I celebrate these women on Mother's Day -- but Father's Day is a complete non-issue in my household. My wife doesn't have any connection with her father, either. Never has. So you can see now why the day is so easily forgotten in our house. It really is!

Yet in the spirit of things I want to dredge up from the early days of this blog a post I'd written once about the only father figures I've ever really known -- and all of them from television! So below, reposted in its full form in honor of Father's Day, is the blog post titled: "My Three Dads." Some of you may remember this one. Okay, maybe only one or two of you. This was almost four years ago, after all. Many of you didn't even know me then! But still . . .

Enjoy!
====================================================

MY THREE DADS. (Originally posted: 9/2/08.)


Okay, I know it sounds silly, but I have a confession to make: I was raised by television.

Of course in actuality I was raised first by my mother, and then by my maternal grandmother and aunt, but television always played an integral role in my childhood. So much so that I have nothing but fond affection for the "boob tube" today. And, you know, there was never that male adult figure in my life to teach me the things that many little boys learn from their fathers: specifically, how to be a man. I was surrounded by women growing up, after all. And while it's true that I learned a great deal from these strong, independent female family members, I had to turn to tv in order to get the paternal influence that was missing from my existence. In essence, I had to learn how to become an honest man, a fighter, a good husband and/or father, and how to treat a woman the way a good man should -- all from the tube!

Now, I'm only being half serious here. Because, of course, I didn't need tv to teach me right from wrong, or honesty from dishonesty. I'm my own keeper. It's been that way ever since my parents left me alone in this world. Still, I consider the following three television characters to have had the most profound influence on shaping my teenage personality, leading to the adult I am now. The essences of these three fictional characters reside within me even to this day, and those who know me really well can easily discern the part and parcel characteristics I've borrowed from these figures to make my own.


JEAN LUC PICARD



Yes, to no surprise, my latching on to tv role models began at the age of 12. I'm sure there are studies out there that correlate a boy's self-identity with the time he enters puberty. So it's no surprise that my subconscious effort to find a father figure who would teach me what I needed to know to be a man would start around this time. I'd just started junior high school, and Star Trek: The Next Generation had premiered the year before. I'd grown up watching the original 60s show with William Shatner as the young, cocksure Captain Kirk. So I naturally took a disliking to this new show and its new Captain, which were nothing like the original. However, over time the show started to grow on me, to the point that it soon surpassed my love of the original. Now after all these years, ST:TNG is the quintessential Star Trek for me. Nothing before or after it tops this show. And this character was one with which I had a strong attachment as a young boy.

Captain Jean Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) was in many ways the thinking man's captain. Picard very much preferred to use his wits and diplomacy to defuse a dangerous situation, rather than his fists. He was a refined gentleman, well-read in various scholarly pursuits (notably music, botany, and archaeology), yet he was stern under pressure and no-nonsense when it came to saving the lives of his crew. He commanded great respect for his ability to keep his emotions in control under tense situations. All these aspects endeared me to the character, and slowly during the course of the show I found myself imitating Picard's demeanor in real life.


KWAI CHANG CAINE



In January 1993, a spin-off to the 70s show, Kung Fu, premiered on what was then called the: "Prime Time Entertainment Network." The show was called Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, once again starring David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine -- though now the grandson of the original Kwai Chang. I credit this show--and the character of Caine in particular--with awakening the fire in me to learn everything I could about Chinese culture and language, as well as cultivating my interest in gong-fu.

Kwai Chang Caine, like Jean Luc Picard, was refined and wise. He was someone who could obviously carry himself in a fight, but whom--more often than not--sought the peaceful solution to a conflict. This was who I wanted to be like. I was always a quiet and observant child by nature, and by 1993 I had grown into one of those intense, focused teenagers. The type of person who other kids in high school had no idea how to deal with, and would generally leave alone for fear of what he might do in reprisal. But the values that Caine stood for were my values as well, and so it was easy to see why I would latch on to this character as my role model.


DUNCAN MACLEOD



Finally we come to the last of my three dads, Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. This figure appeared in Highlander: The Series as the titular character, portrayed by one Adrian Paul. While premiering before Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in the Fall of 1992, I wasn't introduced to the show until shortly after I had already been addicted to KFtLC for a couple of months. But when my best friend, Tarrell, finally convinced me to check it out, I was hooked from the get-go!

Duncan MacLeod was a 400-year old Immortal, master swordsman, and martial artist. However, I found myself more drawn to the deep pathos that arose from the character's long life than the action-y elements (although those aspects were a nice bonus on the show). How it was that, despite never being able to die, his life was far from a happy one. For in those 400 years Mac, as he was known to his friends, has had to deal with the deaths of countless loved ones, all the while remaining alive and struggling to make it through another year without those he cherished. As someone who had lost his mother at an early age, this pathos resonated deeply with me. I actually *felt* the heart-wrenching pain of this character's loss, and I was never the same again.

Duncan MacLeod, more than any character on any other show, has defined who I am as an adult man dealing with a monstrous past. The strength to face the world and the demons it holds, I drew from this character most of all. Highlander has had the most profound influence on the young man I was becoming and would remain even to this day.


And there you have it! These are the three biggest TV influences to shape my personality in those turbulent teenage years when I struggled to find myself. I'm not any one of these characters, nor am I the sum of these men. I've taken only certain facets from all three--aspects which I suspect I already exhibited naturally on my own. But the influence is there nonetheless.

So, do any of you have tv or film characters who have inspired you in life? If so, please sound off in the comments section below.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

True Blood Sundays!



Yes, it's back! There, there . . . no need to cry your tears (of blood!)

This has truly become my favorite time of the year for television. 1) Game of Thrones beginning in April; 2) Regular bullshit tv season coming to an end in May; and 3) True Blood begins in June! HBO is really killing it with their two best series airing back to back like this. And I, for one, am so glad!

Season 5 begins tonight, with the premiere of the first new episode, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" kicking things off. The previews have been looking good for this season, and hopefully it will be a lot better than the previous two. I think it will.

And how am I preparing for the big night? Well, look what just came in the mail last week:






Yes, I'm going to be getting my premiere night on right! I love the specially formulated True Blood beverage from the HBO.com store. You can also buy it in person here in NYC at the cool HBO brick and mortar store located on 6th Avenue (just off 42nd Street). I purchase around two to three 4-packs each year around this time. And this year, I even picked up the True Blood brand glasses like the one in the pic I took above. And even though that's my microwave in the back, I in fact prefer my synthetic blood drink chilled to perfection . . . and not nuked to 98.7 degrees body temp!

In other words, I'll be drinking True Blood out of a True Blood glass while watching True Blood. Makes sense, eh? Or am I just kooky?

Whatever the case may be, enjoy your Sunday night, folks!

Friday, June 8, 2012

You Keep On Completing Me

Last year around this time, I posted this blog entry about a severe increase in visitor stats to The Bimillennial Man. At the time, I had gone from having unique visitors in the 10s and 20s per day, to over 60 and even nearing 100 each cycle.

Many of you had kind words of encouragement then and congratulated me on this progress. And I, in turn, thanked you all for making it possible. And, of course, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to stop by once in a while.

Now, a little over one year later, that sentiment still stands. Thank you all for remaining loyal visitors to this humble blog. And to those of you who only lurk, my heartfelt thanks goes out to you as well. Trust me, I know who you are. I can see your IP addresses!

But I thought I would update you all on the state of things now. Yes, I haven't been able to blog as much this year as I'm accustomed to doing. Some of that was intentional, while most of it was not and was due to circumstances beyond my control. And yet, despite it all, I have to say the numbers have been crazy this year! Looking back, I scoff at thinking I was anything special with a mere 80 unique daily visits. Wow, cool dude. That's awesome!

But now, everything has changed. Things are starting to get serious. At the start of the year I saw the blog's stats double. Whoa! And as the year went on, it just got even more bizarre, increasing more than 400% over last year's numbers. And these past several weeks in particular have seen the site's traffic reaching stratospheric heights! Here's a snapshot of the chart, provided by Blogger's new built-in tracking system:




That's well over 400 hits each day! Now, because this is a new tracker over the one I used last year, I can't rule out that the numbers might be slightly skewed here. I do know that you can get wildly different results from one tracker to another. Alas, my old tracker is a buggy piece of crap and can no longer be relied upon. Also, while I am still not including my own visits to my blog, I can't rule out the fact that a good portion of these numbers are from people who are not truly landing on my page, per se, but instead retrieving my pics through Google Image Search. Let's face it, I put up a lot of pics--particularly in my Game of Thrones reviews which, just like last year, continue to be the prime generator of around 80% of the traffic this blog receives daily. Sheesh! People are going absolutely bananas for this show!

To clarify, I went from receiving 60 to 100 daily visitors last year to now averaging between 380 and 680! Last Sunday alone saw me reach a site high of 730 unique visitors in a 24-hour period. Wow! I'm guessing I have the Thrones' season 2 finale to thank for that! If I expand the chart to cover my yearly numbers since this blog opened back in 2008, you can get a better sense of just how rapid the increase in numbers has been over the past 4 years:




That's what I call progress!

Now, let me make something clear. I am not sitting here thinking that I'm something special. I'm well aware that I have the tv show to thank for most of this. You pick something wildly popular to write about on your blog, and chances are your numbers are going to skyrocket. Also, I'm well aware that quite a few of my regular commentators here have blog numbers that far trump mine. After all, some of you have dedicated followers alone numbering in the hundreds. I only have 30. And it's my fault, too, that. I really need to get out there in the blogosphere and meet more of my fellow bloggers. I know, I know.

And yet, I can still feel a sense of achievement with these numbers. Maybe you only like me for my screencaps, maybe you like me for my non-Thrones content. But whatever the case may be, I appreciate the hell out of you all for visiting me here. Ya'll are the best.

'Nuff said!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ep. 20 Recap: "Valar Morghulis"



Previous Game of Thrones Season 2 episode recaps:
Ep. 11: "The North Remembers."
Ep. 12: "The Night Lands."
Ep. 13: "What Is Dead May Never Die."
Ep. 14: "Garden of Bones."
Ep. 15: "The Ghost of Harrenhal."
Ep. 16: "The Old Gods and the New."
Ep. 17: "A Man Without Honor."
Ep. 18: "The Prince of Winterfell."
Ep. 19: "Blackwater."

Episode 20: "Valar Morghulis"
Original Air Date:  June 3, 2012.
Directed by:  Alan Taylor.
Written by:  David Benioff & D.B. Weiss.

Tonight, as befitting, we close out what ended up being a fantastic Season 2 with the showrunners themselves returning to pen the final episode. And what would a Benioff & Weiss episode be without Alan Taylor directing? Also, after last week's masterpiece, how would the season finale fare by comparison? These questions and more will be answered . . .

. . . Now!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ep. 19 Recap: "Blackwater"



Previous Game of Thrones Season 2 episode recaps:
Ep. 11: "The North Remembers."
Ep. 12: "The Night Lands."
Ep. 13: "What Is Dead May Never Die."
Ep. 14: "Garden of Bones."
Ep. 15: "The Ghost of Harrenhal."
Ep. 16: "The Old Gods and the New."
Ep. 17: "A Man Without Honor."
Ep. 18: "The Prince of Winterfell."


Episode 19: "Blackwater"
Original Air Date:  May 27, 2012.
Directed by:  Neil Marshall.
Written by:  George R. R. Martin.

Tonight we get a real treat, folks. We get an epic film director in Neil Marshall, a super fan of the show who came in at the last minute to save HBO's bacon when the originally planned director bowed out. And lucky for us, too, since he would end up directing what book readers all knew was going to be an amazing battle-TASTIC hour of television! But best of all we get the author of the books himself, George R. R. Martin, adapting his own work in writing the teleplay. George wrote last season's episode 8: "The Pointy End," but could he do the impossible and write an episode to surpass that one?

Two words: HELLS YES!!!

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