I doubt you’ve heard of this book called Game of Thrones by this George R.R.R.R. Martin character, but it’s pretty damn good. Unlike anyone else in the world right now I just started reading the series and have been pretty goddamn impressed by how epic it is, how beautifully realized the world is, how realistic the characters feel and how much I’m getting sucked into all the drama. And there are three more books and one more hitting in July? Someone should make a movie of this!
All joking aside, though- this paperback has made me realize what a Nook snob I’ve become. I’m so used to plopping my little e-reader down anywhere I go and not have to worry about all these old world trifles like TURNING PAGES or HOLDING IT OPEN. Quite annoying.
I used that one-week trial for Hulu Plus on my Xbox 360 and enjoyed it for what it was. There are a lot of great films on there- I saw a couple of Zatoichi flicks, Charlie Chaplin features, and even The Toxic Avenger Part 3. (A shit movie, a good sleep aid.) But it hasn’t convinced me that I need it. 9 bucks a month is 9 bucks, and for the same price as Netflix the selection has way too much overlap to interest me. The one big draw of course is the entire Criterion Collection, which is definitely impressive, and it’s going to be the only place to see a lot of these films as they start to expire on Netflix Instant soon. But new TV shows don’t interest me- I can wait till they hit dvd or Netflix Instant, and I’m a bit annoyed that even if I’m paying money for the service I have to sit through commercials on a lot of the programs.
To make things worse Hulu has been badgering me with emails over the last week trying to get me to sign up… for another free month. I’ll probably do it but only when I have some free time to see all the Criterion movies I want to see, and cancel immediately afterwards.
From an email titled “Your TV shows miss you”
We haven’t seen you back since your free week ended and wanted to make sure you know that you can enjoy an additional free month of Hulu Plus by signing up at http://www.hulu.com/plus/xbox through June 27th.
With Hulu Plus you can catch up on episodes you may have missed of this season’s top TV shows, including The Office, Grey’s Anatomy, The Colbert Report, and many more. You can also watch every episode of classic shows like Arrested Development, and explore hundreds of acclaimed movies. Hulu Plus is available on Xbox LIVE, connected TVs, iPhones and iPads, and many more devices.
Not sure if “needy” was what they were going for, but it’s feeling like it.
(Racking the beer from the secondary to my corny keg)
Good God, my honey Kolsch is delicious. Second draft beer after the pumpkin ale and I’m absolutely loving my keg. Definitely the best investment I’ve made for homebrew. The reasons that kegs are the way to go if you want to brew beer are simple- you get to drink your beer faster and you don’t have to clean up as much shit. Normally if you brew beer you have to find bottles to put it in, and since the usual batch is 5 gallons that means just over 53 twleve ounce bottles. You can help things by using 22s and champagne bottles but it’s still a huge pain in the ass, because you have to clean, sanitize, fill, and cap each individual bottle after mixing the beer with a little more sugar. After that you have to wait two weeks for the yeast to eat that added sugar and carbonate the bottles. With a keg you just have one container to clean and sanitize and after dumping the beer in it and chilling it you can carbonate it right from a CO2 canister, making your beer nice and ready in a day or so. It’s a beautiful thing.
This week I’m going to brew a brown ale and also try and grab some apple cider so I can make some hard cider. It’s really easy but seems like a fun little project to try.
On my way home this morning I stood on the platform waiting for the R train reading my nook and a guy walks by and bumps into it, nearly knocking it out of my hand. I stopped and looked up at him to see if he’d do the right thing.
"Sorry," he says, and laughs as he continues to walk by. Not the best response, but I’d take it. Till his lady friend comes waking from behind him and sasses "Oh please! He shouldn’t be doing that anyway."
I laugh, incredulous. “Excuse me? I shouldn’t be reading my book?” They looked back and mimicked my “excuse me” and laughed again and I immediately saw red.
"Keep walking," I bellowed, my dormant Bronx accent rearing its head.They looked back with wide eyes and half-paused, perhaps surprised that this guy in a suit wasn’t backing down for them and I opened my mouth again… and immediately shut it. They walked a little way down to the end of the platform and when the train came I moved farther away to be sure I wasn’t on the same car as them.
In the past I never sought out fights but I wouldn’t run from any that came my way. Fatherhood has changed that. I constantly find myself stopping from doing things I would have done without a second thought, even if it’s as simple as cross a street against the light. Rough or loud people on the subway used to make me more wary but would never prevent me from sitting where I was going to sit, but now I’ll remove myself from the situation so I don’t have one.
It’s funny how at 29 I finally feel like I’m growing up.
But anyway, that asshole’s comment made me think of the late Mr. Hicks’ encounter with a waffle waitress.
A friend just lent me Game of Thrones and I was about to dive into the meaty book before I realized that I had downloaded Joe Lansdale’s A Fine Dark Line from the library, and wanted to get to it on my Nook Color before it expired. I’m a hundred pages in and I’m sad to say that it may be the first story of his that I’m just not getting into. Part of it may be due to the fact that he’s retreading what appears to be the same ground he did so beautifully in The Bottoms. Like that incredible novel, this is an autobiographical tale of a boy talking about growing up in Texas, dealing with race issues, burgeoning sexuality, what may or may not be a supernatural creature, and a mystery revolving around a unsolved murder. The only theme that feels different from the Bottoms is that he’s made the main character live in a drive-in, quite literally, which of course is another theme that he’s done before. (Read The Complete Drive-In if you can, because it’s the most batshit crazy, utterly entertaining tale you’ll ever bear witness to.)
Anyway, A Fine Dark Line is certainly interesting but it’s not grabbing me like his stories usually do. Still looking forward to his L.A. Noire story, and perhaps it’s finally time to start up the Hap Collins and Leonard Pine series.
My latest review on Badass Digest. I really dig this game and am actually planning on firing it up again in a few minutes, but I’m not sure what kind of legs it will have. I’m already getting tired of a few of the levels after a week of playing. I still have many more abilities to unlock, though…
I was very excited to see the trailer for Real Steel, solely because of my love for the original story that it’s based on. Like many short stories by Richard Matheson, Steel has already been adapted into an excellent Twilight Zone episode, where it told the tale of a old man afraid of obsolescence.
See, human boxing has been criminalized in the future so trainers use humanoid robots to fight their fights. Steel Kelly is a former fighter who’s got an old robot (called Battling Maxo!) that’s on its last legs. It’s completely outmatched by the newer models but Kelly has no money for one, and hardly enough to keep him going as it is. When the robot breaks down before a fight Kelly is sunk. He decides to enter the fight himself and of course loses against the latest in technology, is just absolutely battered to a pulp. The episode ends with Kelly, oblivious to his injuries or the fact that his time has passed, telling his partner not to worry about him and that they’ll get Maxo fixed. It’s sad and poignant and it’s about robot boxers, fer chrissakes. Just more proof of how The Twilight Zone was the best tv show of all time.
Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman and some annoying kid, looks fairly horrible. Shawn Levy of Night at the Museum and Date Night directs the film, which has taken No Country For Robot Boxing and turned it into Rock’m Sock’m Transformers. Look.
The Twilight Zone episode of Steel is available on Netflix Instant along nearly every other from the original series (Season Four, with its hour-long episodes of debatable quality, is absent), so get on that if you haven’t seen it already. It’s a classic.
Saw THOR yesterday during a beautiful digital 3D presentation at the Museum of the Moving Image and genuinely enjoyed it. It’s pretty much all I hoped for and I’d say it’s on par with Iron Man, a light, fun summer blockbuster. Like Iron Man the fun may fade a bit when I see it on dvd but it’s a perfect theatrical experience.
Quick story synopsis- Thor’s a warrior prince from Asgard, a planet of (mostly) white Norse Gods. He’s next in line to become King after his father Hannibal Lecter and he’s got a mischievous younger brother named Loki, who weirdly has the same hairstyle I do now. Years ago Asgard had been at war with another planet full of Frost Giants, which are pretty much exactly what they sound like, except uglier. On the day Thor is supposed to be crowned king frost giants break into Asgard and nearly steal back a relic of theirs. Thor, being the immature prince that he is, gathers his friends and sets off to teach them a lesson with the aid of his mighty hammer meow meow, almost causing a war in the process. His dad is so mad that he strips him of his powers and shoots him off to Earth, where he gets run over by a black swan and learns what it’s like to be mortal. Adventure ensues!
Perhaps one of the reasons I liked the film so much is that while it’s an origin story, seemingly created solely to introduce the character before The Avengers kicks off, it’s not your traditional origin story. It’s more of a Spider-man 2 than a Spider-man, if that makes sense. We aren’t saddled with countless scenes of Peter Parker/Logan/Tony Stark/The Fantastic Four/Matt Murdock/Bruce Wayne learning how to control his/their powers/suit/weapons, Thor already knows what to do with that hammer and is an unstoppable force. While we’re shown one scene with Thor and Loki as kids, he’s not learning the meaning of responsibility, he’s learning how to become a leader.
On a whole the film’s quite funny, has some nice heartfelt moments and a good amount of action. It’s all done in the usual childish, silly way, of course, but it’s a comic book movie after all.
Chris Hemsworth plays the charming douche role perfectly, an spoiled brat of a prince who doesn’t know how to act kingly. He also beefed up considerably for the role, a fact that the women in the audience certainty seemed to appreciate during one of his shirtless scenes.
Kat Dennings manages to pull off the actually funny comic relief!
Stan the Man’s best cameo yet.
Asgard is beautiful, visually. Really impressive CGI work there. The Frost Giants’ home too, although the geography makes no sense.
I love that the Asgardians don’t fly through space, they shoot you across it in a giant gun. Why not?
Oh, how that hammer flies. There aren’t enough action scenes but Thor has quite a few showstopping moments in them.
Natalie Portman’s character falls in love with Thor (obviously), but it only takes a day? That’s one helluva quick arc.
Can the product placement get any worse in these Marvel films? Jesus, they even throw cereal in your face this time.
There’s a Hawkeye cameo but he contributes nothing to the film.
The main baddie Thor has to face doesn’t exactly have much personality, or even any explanation of where it came from.
There’s not really the big ending you hope there would be, in fact- we don’t even see what comes thanks to the last events of the film. While Asgard is shown as a massive world with thousands of people you don’t see them for the last half of the movie, and it’s really just the royal family bickering among themselves.
The significance of the ending scene (and yes stay after the credits, there is one) was lost on me till I googled. But it does indicate cool things to come…
Thor goes to a bar and is given a budweiser. Where’s the mead?
Worthy of your cash even if it does feel like an extended trailer for The Avengers at parts. See it in theaters if you see it at all, so that you can feel the subwoofer pound your chest to submission with every blow of Thor’s mighty hammer. 3D is optional, although it’s done fairly well.
I feel like I’m one of the few people to really love Blood Money, the first DLC pack for Fallout New Vegas. It offered up new gameplay opportunities, fun new characters, a massive, dangerous new world to explore. It had new weapons and armor and enough missions to take you a good eight hours to fully complete. What more could you want out of ten bucks of DLC?
Bethesda is releasing more, of course, and rather than make us wait for more details they just dumped the whole thing on us today.
Here’s what’s coming-
Available on May 17, Honest Hearts takes you on an expedition to the unspoiled wilderness of Utah’s Zion National Park. Things go horribly wrong when your caravan is ambushed by a tribal raiding band. As you try to find a way back to the Mojave, you become embroiled in a war between tribes and a conflict between a New Canaanite missionary and the mysterious Burned Man. The decisions you make will determine the fate of Zion.
In Old World Blues, releasing in June,you will discover how some of the Mojave’s mutated monsters came to be when you unwittingly become a lab rat in a science experiment gone awry. You’ll need to scour the Pre-War research centers of the Big Empty in search of technology to turn the tables on your kidnappers or join forces with them against an even greater threat.
Lonesome Road, available in July, brings the courier’s story full circle when you are contacted by the original Courier Six, a man by the name of Ulysses who refused to deliver the Platinum Chip at the start of New Vegas. In his transmission, Ulysses promises the answer as to why, but only if you take one last job –a job that leads you into the depths of the hurricane-swept canyons of the Divide, a landscape torn apart by earthquakes and violent storms. The road to the Divide is a long and treacherous one, and of the few to ever walk the road, none have ever returned.
Love how each of the Fallout DLC packs have sought to bring you to new places, rather than just throw new missions around the existing world. PS3 and PC owners won’t have to wait for it this time, as it’s being released across all three simultaneously.
Why? Cause Rockstar commissioned Joe Lansdale, quite possibly my favorite author, to write a short story set in the world. He’s probably best known among movie folk as the author of Bubba Ho-Tep, but besides a lot of horror and science fiction novels he’s written a ton of crime novels, so he’s a perfect fit to play around in Rockstar’s world.
Lansdale isn’t the only one either- other huge names like Lawrence Block and Joyce Carol Oates will be contributing to a short story collection that features characters and cases from the game.
Good on Rockstar for showing how serious they are about the material. Even if somehow the game is a disaster we’re getting new stories from some of the greatest living crime writers, so it’s already a great thing.
The full press release-
New York, NY – May 3, 2011 - Rockstar Games, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), in conjunction with Mulholland Books, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, has partnered with notable authors of the thriller genre to publish a series of short stories, some of which are based on characters and cases from the world of L.A. Noire. “L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories” will be available for digital download on June 6, 2011 through all major eBook retailers.
“L.A. Noire draws on a rich history of not just film, but also great crime literature for inspiration,” said Sam Houser, Founder of Rockstar Games. “Using the game’s world as a springboard, we worked with the genre’s best writers to create stories that lived up to the finest traditions of crime fiction.”
“We are thrilled to be embarking on a creative partnership with the team at Rockstar Games,” said Michael Pietsch, Publisher of Little, Brown and Company. “The possibilities for cross-promotions of this nature, encouraging gamers to read and readers to play games are huge. We’re looking forward to a new frontier of book publishing possibilities and see Rockstar as an ideal partner.”
Authors with stories in the anthology include such renowned writers as Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Joe Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Francine Prose, Jonathan Santlofer, Duane Swierczynski and Andrew Vachss. 1940s Hollywood, murder, deception and mystery take center stage as readers reintroduce themselves to characters seen in L.A. Noire. Explore the lives of actresses desperate for the Hollywood spotlight; heroes turned defeated men; and classic Noir villains. Readers will come across not only familiar faces, but familiar cases from the game that take on a new spin to tell the tales of emotionally torn protagonists, depraved schemers and their ill-fated victims.
Select stories will be available across various media outlets prior to the launch of L.A. Noire on May 17, 2011 in North America and May 20, 2011 in Europe. An excerpt from “The Girl” by Megan Abbott is now available for readers at www.rockstargames.com.
Had a lot of fun this weekend in Baltimore with the family. Went to the Aquarium, went to a beer fest, ate a lot of great food and walked around the city for hours and hours.
But it might be the strangest city I’ve ever been in. Friends warned me that you can turn down a block and suddenly be in a shitty area, but I thought that was exaggeration. It wasn’t. Multiple times during our long walks around the city we ventured from one absolutely beautiful block full of fancy houses to find a block full of bricked-up doors to abandoned buildings and people dealing right in the street. Never seen anything like it. We walked by a few projects and counted how many liquor stores were around (hint- LOTS). It’s just weird to be a place where there aren’t any “safe” zones. I always knew where to avoid or at least be more careful growing up in The Bronx but it seems like it would have to be on a block-to-block basis in Baltimore.
The “Heritage walk” didn’t help. We weren’t following it intentionally, we just ended up on top of it and were amused to note to note that it led through a really shitty area of town. Not exactly the place you’d want visitors to see.
Of course, our hotel was down near the touristy section near Inner Harbor, which was just as depressing. Reminded me of those tourist traps in Orlando near the parks, with the requisite shitty restaurants and colorful buildings to waste your money.
But hey, we saw that theater that John Waters is always featuring, walked through one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever been in, tried some delicious new beers (and brought a few back) and really enjoyed exploring the city. It’s no place I’d like to live, but I’d love to go back one day.