Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

…I honestly didn’t see this coming.

Don’t worry, they still let me graduate and all that. I’ve got my credentials now…they can’t take that away from me.

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What I mean to say is…I thought that the end of 2013 would bring about a significant amount of fanfare in my life…fresh opportunities and enthusiasm. You think the race is gonna be over…nope. There’s just another one on the other side.

Sorry, that’s kind of a bummer line to lead off with for the first post of the new year. Also…February…January literally just flew by. So what has happened since my last post…

I’ve said goodbye to Denton…not permanently. I’ve still got plenty of people requesting money from me up there, and plenty of friends I want to try and keep in touch with. But I’ve got all my stuff crammed in a corner of a room at my parents place while I try to find my next place back closer to “home”. While I’m talking about it…is anyone looking to sublease a 1 bedroom apartment in Denton…fully furnished and on the UNT bus route? Contact me for more info.
I’d love to get that monkey off my back.
The job search for the career continues. As I thought, my people don’t really advertise when they’re looking to fill a spot…they just ask people if they know a guy. I’ve still got my current job to keep me afloat, but I don’t see this as a long term venture, and I don’t see the promise of them trying to increase my hours panning out. I’ve tried seeing if there are any other positions within my company that are more worthy of the degree I have now (still waiting on that degree to arrive by the way) but the most suitable match lies down in Austin. I’m still doing a lot of searching in the DFW area here, as I’m trying to move into a new place here pretty soon, but if at some point, I need to definitively expand my search…well, so much for my plans I guess.

I also lost my grandfather recently. My grandfather had been in and out of the hospital quite a bit in the final months of his life. Heck, he’d been in and out quite a bit in the last few years of his life…but he always bounced back. He broke his hip several years back…an injury that at his age would have led a downhill spiral in most people. Amazingly though, he got through rehabilitation and was able to go back home and continue to live his life. This last time though…it seemed that all his resilience had worn out. On Saturday January the 19th, we were informed by the hospital that after going in and out of a responsive and lucid state the day before, that his kidneys were shutting down…which, I don’t know how much y’all know about the medical world, but when a person’s kidneys shut down…it’s kind of the beginning of the end. He held on until that coming Monday night, when all of his kids and grandkids were able to gather to reminisce, tell old stories, laugh, cry, and say our goodbyes. While he couldn’t say anything…we know that he heard us, maybe even tried to gesture to us. He passed at 1:15 early the next morning, knowing that he had held on long enough. January 21st…the day that I lost the smartest man I will ever know. I will miss you immensely Grandaddy.

David Martin

Losing him took a lot out of me, but there was some good to come out of his death. It has been near a decade since that side of my family has gotten together as a whole. The circumstances could not have been much worse, but we were finally able to change that, and despite the tears and the heartache, we were able to come together and enjoy our time with one another, and promise to one another that despite our distance, it would not take another act of death or a decade to bring us back together.
In his passing, my grandfather was able to bring together those that he loved in a way that he had not seen in a very long time. I like to be optimistic where I’m able, so I see the silver lining here. We won’t mourn his death…so much as we’ll celebrate his life. I haven’t considered myself much of a family guy in a very long time, and I remember now how much I miss everybody. I can’t wait to see them again.

So yea…the grind of the job search, the search for a new place to call home, and the loss of a patriarch…my 2014 thus far. I still have unfinished business from last year though.
I seem to remember that last post, I left y’all with a trio of polls…my Backstage Accolades for Best Movie, TV Series, and Video Game of the Year. A few of y’all voted. But not quite enough to declare a real winner in any category…we had ties all around. I won’t declare more than one though, so…it’ll just have to come down to me.

Without further ado…the Winner for Best Movie of 2013 is…

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Iron Man 3 was a great movie no doubt…but if it were entirely up to me…I think I’d have gone with Pacific Rim, or Kick-Ass 2. The people have spoken though. My other option here for the actual winner was Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I love me some Jennifer Lawrence, but RDJ just kills it every time.

Moving on…the Winner for Best TV Show of 2013 is…

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Even though I’ve never watched Breaking Bad, it seemed this was the obvious choice. 2013 saw the final season of the series, and with it some of the most epic moments in TV history…so I’m told. My other options in the tie were The Walking Dead, and NCIS. I watched both shows this year, but I still feel like based on the fanfare around Breaking Bad’s finale season that it is deserving based on reputation alone.

Finally…the Winner for Best Video Game of 2013 is…

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Yes…Pokémon X and Y. Y’all seriously left this category the hell alone…my five votes were the only ones tallied. I honestly have been going back and forth between Pokémon and Tomb Raider, but I haven’t been able to put down Pokémon since I picked it up. I Even though nostalgia was the only driving force for getting this game, I’ve continued to enjoy it for months. Don’t get me wrong…I enjoyed the crap out of Tomb Raider…but once I beat the game, I didn’t chase down the collectibles for very long. Pokémon is continuing to provide me with new entertainment long after I’ve beaten it. Now…since I was alone in the voting for this one, I had three other ties. They were Grand Theft Auto V, Dead Rising 3, and Forza Motorsport 5. I lost interest in GTA 5 after a while, and I picked Dead Rising and Forza as my only real options for the next generation of Xbox. Pokémon and Tomb Raider were the only real games that have come out this past year that have held my interest to completion. And somehow I still didn’t pick Tomb Raider after following Lara Croft’s hot hiney around for about 20 hours.

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Nostalgia wins out over sex. Childhood wins out over adulthood. You don’t have to grow up.

Now that 2013 is good and shelved at this point, let’s look forward a bit. I kind of missed the whole Winter Movie season, and I do mean that I missed it. It feels like forever since I’ve gone out and caught a flick. I’m just in time though to look forward to the Spring Movie Season…so what’s coming up in the shining lights of the movie billboards?

300: Rise Of An Empire – 3/07
The legendary 300 Spartans have fought their great fight, and died trying to defend their nation. The nation is now left to defend itself against the imposing Persian juggernaut. Can they hold?
Alright, we’ve got a director here that I’ve never heard of, Noam Murro, and a…let’s be honest…cast of Hollywood D-listers and hopefuls. This flick could go either way…it’s built on a strong foundation, but this crew just might not have the chops to make it everything they want it to be. We’ll see.

Need For Speed – 3/14
The notorious game franchise finally comes to the big screen. Fast cars, and high crime. The thing is…I feel like Need For Speed has already been turned into a movie. I mean, isn’t that what the Fast & Furious franchise has been? I’ve already seen this movie…and I know that Aaron Paul with all his grit from Breaking Bad has a lot to bring, but I think we’re all going to be silently comparing it to the Fast & Furious films, and how it falls ever so short. That’s my guess though.

Veronica Mars – 3/14
This is kind of a shot in the dark here. I know that there are fans out there of the show that made a 3 season run from 2004 – 2007, but I haven’t met any. There was a Kickstarter put in place to try and raise 2 million dollars to make a movie…and bring about some sort of extended closure. Kind of like a Firefly/Serenity type situation. The fans stepped up though and brought in 5.7 million by the time the Kickstarter deadline was up. So…Kristin Bell returns to see her character gets a good farewell. I know nothing of the series, so I have no idea what to expect. Worth mentioning though.

Divergent – 3/21
The books that this were based on became popular after the Hunger Games trilogy started gaining a lot of followers, and with good reason. Divergent is essentially a clone of the whole Hunger Games premise. Expect the same type of action and personality types. Just…maybe not quite as good. I’ve got kind of low expectations here, so I may be setting myself up to be pleasantly surprised by the film quality. I just don’t know right now.

Muppets Most Wanted – 3/14
[Insert basic movie description with first impression opinion here.]
You know, I’m sure someone is looking forward to this.

Nymphomaniac Part 1 – 3/14
This is a 2-part NC-17 flick…it is the story of a woman’s life from birth to age 50, and the numerous erotic adventures that the self proclaimed nymphomaniac has endured. I’m just intrigued by the concept of a 2-part NC-17 film, the second part arriving…somewhere, on April 18th.

Noah – 3/28
The biblical story of Noah who after suffering dreams of a coming apocalypse receives a message from God, telling him to construct a great ship, to save all the animals of the land from an upcoming flood. This is a film by Darren Aronofsky, the Director responsible for Black Swan. Might be interesting to see what he does with a biblical tale…and Emma Watson.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 4/4
The first Captain America several years back was a bit of a disappointment. But now that we’ve seen what Cap can do in the Avengers, I’ve got a little more excitement built up for him in this chapter. The rest of the Avengers can go home. Stark can go back to Malibu, Thor can go back to Asgard, Banner can go back to keeping a low profile…Steve Rogers can’t go back to WWII era America, where things were simpler…more black and white. So he stays on with S.H.I.E.L.D. to try and figure out how to fit into life in the modern world. Just as he begins to get a grasp on things, threats emerge that bring him back into the fray.
They’ve had time to get it right at this point, and I think I’m going to enjoy this Captain America.

Transcendence – 4/18
Will Caster, played by Johnny Depp, is the leading developer in Artificial Intelligence. After an incident which leaves his days numbered, he and his assistants make the decision to connect his consciousness to the internet before he dies so that he can continue to live in virtual form. AIs have needs though, just like the living…and no one can predict what this new intelligence will do next.
There isn’t a whole lot of publicity for this movie yet, but it’s one I’m really looking forward to. Based on subject matter alone, I’m hooked…but the cast looks phenominal as well. Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, I’m excited.

The Amazing Spiderman 2 – 5/2
The rebooted Spiderman franchise with Andrew Garfield  gets its sequel this May. Paul Giamatti plays The Rhino, and Jaime Foxx jumps in as Electro. I’m actually pretty excited to see Jaime Foxx suiting up as a bad guy in the Marvel Universe. I think he’ll do well as a villain, and great alongside Garfield, definitely a better choice for the webbed crusader than Toby Maguire. I’m just left wondering now when Columbia will release the franchise so Spidey can finally join up with the Avengers.

Neighbors – 5/9
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star alongside Zach Efron in this story of a couple who have a baby and are forced to deal with the debauchery of a frat house moving in next door. With the same creators that brought us This Is The End, I’m expecting raunchy laughs all the way through.

Godzilla – 5/16
It’s being remade…again. It’s got to be better than the last version with Matthew Broderick. I mean, how can it really get much worse. I loved that movie at the time, but I look back on it now and shake my head. It will be better.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past – 5/23
Oh God yes. X-Men: First Class was so unbelievably good. And we finally got ourselves a good stand alone Wolverine movie too. Brian Singer said it was such a hard job wrangling all the huge personalities in this movie, but that it was so worth it. I don’t know how they’re going to handle the time travel thing, but I don’t care. Jennifer Lawrence…body paint. Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry…eye candy. If there’s one movie I could see this coming season, it’d be this.

Maleficent – 5/30
Disney’s most iconic villain finally gets her backstory told, and with Angelina Jolie playing the leading lady herself, Maleficent. It’s been a good long time since Jolie has lent her talents to the big screen, but even given her hiatus, I wouldn’t have picked anyone else for the role.

That leads us into the summer, and I suppose the end of this installment. My timetable is a complete mess right now, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to do this again. So, let’s just say…I’ll see ya when I see ya.

One last thing though…with a new year, it’s time to change the theme of my closing image. After giving it some good thought, I think I’m gonna go with classic cars. Anything made before I was born is fair game.

In loving memory of David Michael Martin Sr. One of the smartest and most loving people that ever existed. Rest in Peace.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

1970 Plymouth Hemicuda

1970 Plymouth Hemicuda

The day has finally passed that I honestly never knew was ever going to happen or not. My college career has drawn to a close. I have graduated.

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Not only did I, but once grades were posted, I’ve come to find out that I had all A’s and boosted my overall GPA up to a 3.583, which should have earned me the Cum Laude designation. What can I say, I’m a genius.
As I entered my first week of freedom, it still didn’t really feel real, and it continues…like I’m any other college student that’s simply on break right now. I thought it would hit me on Monday, when I didn’t have to go to class, but I just went about my business buying Christmas presents and spreading holiday cheer.
Now that certainly sounds nothing like me, maybe the new adult in me doesn’t feel requisite of being so dark and broody about holiday fanfare. Maybe.
I don’t think it’s really going to hit me that I’m a graduate until I see a lot of my friends return back to their studies in January, and I’m still here twiddling my thumbs…trying to find a real job.

It’s hard to tell right now how that process is going to go about happening. For the first time in my life, I’m worried about building my career path, a path that could lead me the hell out of Texas. Before, I would have told everyone that travel was not a possibility, that I’m staying right here. Now, I feel like I’d be ridiculous turning down a good job virtually anywhere…even if that means dropping everything and moving out to California.
With my chosen industry, I may not have the option of settling down in central Texas…it’s kind of scary. I’ve talked a lot of game for a while, that I’d probably end up in Los Angeles at some point…but now is the time where I have to see if I have the balls to actually play my cards if I’m dealt that hand. Time to put on the big boy pants and where the tie like an adult.
Could I really just drop everything and move halfway across the country, at a moments notice, if someone told me that a job was waiting for me? Hmm…let’s leave that at, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

As for now, Christmas is only days away, and that’s all I can think about, as it should be. It might just be because I’m now an educated man, but I have been absolutely cracking full of holiday cheer.

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…and I mean, if I’m genuinely going to be in the spirit this year, by all means, I’m going to spread it. If I could, I’d go out there and give absolutely everyone presents. Unfortunately, my pockets aren’t that deep…so maybe I can find some other way of being rewardious…it’s a word.
Hmm…

Heck, I have an idea, how about some Best of the Year Blog Awards? A Backstage Accolades if you will. I’m thinking we can take a look back at the years best movies, tv shows, video games, etc. and try and figure out our favorites.

This has been a strange year for movies. There have been a lot of good ones, but there haven’t been any that were truly exceptional as far as I’m concerned. For instance…Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, The Great and Powerful Oz, Oblivion, World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Elysium, Kick-Ass 2, The Wolverine, The World’s End…most all of these were excellent movies, but most all of them were also extremely forgettable. I could name a dozen more, all the same story…great in their own right, but remarkably unremarkable.
Regardless, I don’t want to make this decision, or any of these decisions. I’d like to have a dialogue, get y’all involved in the awarding process. So…you’ve got 5 picks each, what are you feeling this year?

That’s…a bit substantial, but I think I got everything. If I missed something though, feel free to add it to the list and give it a vote.
Moving on, I’ve got a few more categories I’d like to explore. The next one, is one that I’d definitely have a struggle with if forced to find a true winner on my own, as I don’t really watch a whole lot of TV…but I know there have been some very good TV shows that have aired this year. After a quick glance, this is what I can come up with.
Grab another 5.

I don’t know if I’m stepping out of bounds by slipping “Orange is the New Black” in the list, as it’s never aired on a TV station, being a Netflix original series. Things are changing…it’s the future. The ways in which we watch shows and movies are changing. Might as well go with the times.
For the next category, I want to take a look at interactive media. In less fancy terms…video games. With the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 released in the fall, and companies trying to milk every last bit of functionality out of the 360 and PS3, there have been some amazing developments. Nintendo has been doing some interesting things with WiiU games as well. And you can’t ever count out the PC market.
These are my findings. Choose another 5.

As before, if I missed anything, feel free to add it. Remember, 5 choices for each of the polls, so that nobody feels forced to decide which of their babies they love the most. You’ve probably figured that out by now though. Y’all are smart people.
I figure I’ll leave those open for a couple of weeks so that there’s plenty of time for y’all to get your votes in. Then, I’ll bring it down for a Top 5 for each, and we can figure out what our favorites were this year.

Well, I’ve been concentrating on finals and projects for so long, I don’t really know all to talk about here. I didn’t do my research for this post…my apologies.
I’m remembering though that I promised at some point in the past that once I had time to post my film projects, I would do so here…I guess I finally have that opportunity now.

So…Project 1, our guidelines were to establish tone, in 90 seconds, without the use of dialogue…just visuals. It was kind of a hard task. One of the first things I was ever taught at TCC was that dialogue was the most important element of any story. I’ve learned though that all your elements need to be strong to best tell a story, and sometimes…an extremely good story can exist without any dialogue at all. How did I do?

Our next project was a 4 minute film with dialogue, that had to incorporate elements from indoors and outdoors, day and night. I originally had a pretty good narrative idea planned out, but I couldn’t get enough support from my people in Denton to be able to execute it. What I ended up doing was switching to a documentary idea, and going solo down in Arlington. I enlisted the help of my buddy Jason to be the starring role. So, I decided to make him do what he’s best at…make delicious food, and let me document it.

The final project of the year was a group project where we were simply told to use all we’ve been taught, and make something cool. Our instructor kind of flipped the script on us, and let the class, as a whole define what the project requirements were. He had faith in us that we would all want to do our best to do our best work possible, and that we would all push each other to be our best. It was up to us to determine how many people per group, how long each group had to shoot, how long our projects were to be, and any other miscellaneous guidelines we had to follow. We ended up deciding that each group would have 5-7 people, have 3 days to shoot once issued equipment, and that each project needed to be 4-6 minutes long. Also, each group had to incorporate the line of dialogue, “Let’s just get this over with.” as kind a statement that we were all ready for the semester to be over.
My group decided that we wanted a more comedic idea, so we came up with a script pretty quick that each of us loved. We heard of other groups having no end of trouble getting their equipment to work, or negotiating with the elements, actors, etc. Their were several horror stories. When our turn came around though, we had a blast. The whole process was a load of fun, and an experience I wouldn’t ever trade if given the chance. That includes the night spent in the edit lab, finalizing the project until about 4:30 in the morning. It was fun. And here is what we produced as a result of all of it…

I suppose I could also give you a review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but while I like it, and would probably end up giving…
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – 7 out of 10
…all I really want to talk about is the trilogy middle child syndrome. That is, the stigma that typically befalls the second film in most trilogies. Most trilogies, whether or not it was planned out from the beginning to have three films, or just the first, they usually end up following the same format. The first film is usually a perfectly good stand alone film, as in if they had never decided to make a 2nd or a 3rd, the first could be a perfectly encapsulated story that doesn’t require any elaboration. Great examples are the original Star Wars trilogy, and The Matrix trilogy. Believe it or not, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was never intended to be the beginning of a trilogy. It was supposed to be a stand alone film, and it was decided in post that it could be expanded on in further films. It was after that when it was decided to add the crawl at the beginning, and the whole “episode iv” business. Think about it though…the Emperor had yet to be introduced, Darth Vader was sent flying out into space, and the main conquest…the Death Star, was completely destroyed. Everyone is happy at the end, Luke and Han are both given medals…end of story. It could have ended right there.
The makers decided however that one just wasn’t enough, so they shoe ended the other 2 into the story and made it work. I’m not saying that they didn’t do it well in the case of Star Wars, but The Empire Strikes Back does suffer some downfalls as an individual film. There are a lot of different problems I could name, but the big one that I’ll keep coming back to is that it is not a story that can stand on it’s own two feet. If it weren’t for the crawl, we wouldn’t have any form of proper introduction to characters, or the overarching story. The most annoying thing however is the ending. In A New Hope, you get a clear sense of resolution. The Empire Strikes back leaves you with the Rebellion on the run, the Empire with the upper hand, Luke lacking a hand, and Han frozen in Carbonite. You would think that there is no possible way that you could end a movie on such terms, but right then and there…fade up music, roll credits. The Matrix trilogy, same problem. The Nebuchadnezzar is destroyed, Neo is brain dead after taking on a Sentinel, and the ending scene shows him laying right next to the mortal embodiment of his greatest nemesis. Fade up music, roll credits. Catching Fire is exactly the same way. The story is interrupted rather suddenly through a plot device, you get dumped with some massive heavy information bombs, you get a stern look from Katniss, and, predictably…fade up music, roll credits.
Now, before you begin griping at me that the movies were made that way because, in a lot of cases, that was how the books were written…my argument can be applied to the books as well, in that they are following the same trilogy function that the movies do.

It’s not all trilogies that do this, but you know them when you see them. The expression you make at the very end bares a striking resemblance to this…

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I’ve griped long enough.

This post has been everywhere, but I’ll have my senses together next post. I’d love Love LOVE y’alls help with those Backstage Accolades polls…without it, I can’t really give y’all your true winners of the year, a people’s champion.
Hopefully next time the polls will have some good progress, or I can move on to the Top 5’s. I’ll try to have some other topics planned out for you too. Till next time.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Salmon and Crab Stuffed Flounder

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Salmon and Crab Stuffed Flounder

Top of the morgen my loyal army. I’ve found some time to come out of my little hidey hole to make some commentary. I’m really glad I’m on my last semester of school, because this workload has, frankly, felt rather ridiculous. I’d love to show off some of the fruits of my labor, but I have yet to load them up on the interwebz. Once I do though, I’ll come back and post it up…

<…Here…>

These projects have just eaten up so much of my time. And yea, I knew they would too…but I’ve had some significantly stressful days as of recent. Combine that with my boss telling me that my coworkers are hurting for more help, as I’ve only been able to give them 1 of my possible 4 days to work while I’m in class most of the time. I’ve caved and agreed to give him more days for a little while, so my free time to meditate, or drive recklessly in GTA V, is greatly reduced.

I’ve had some help though. Since my last post, I’ve found a very amazing lady that makes me feel like no one else on this earth ever has before. You’ve heard similar claims before, and might expect me to talk on how I might go about wooing said temptress, but…there’s the thing, I believe this conversation has already been had…and we’re already crazy about each other. I don’t know quite how this whole thing got started…I’ve known this girl forever, and we’ve been electronically in touch for quite some time as well. All the sudden, things just started clicking, and we’ve been getting on swimmingly. I’ve been more open with this girl than I believe I have been with anyone else, and I’ve found out details about her life that less than a handful of others are privy to. I could go on for eons about the way this girl makes me feel…but that’s no fun for anyone but her and I, and she hears plenty of my puffery on a daily basis. We’ll leave it then with me telling you that…I’m smitten, and this boy is off the market.

Now, I’ve missed some relatively big news since I last checked in. In fact, when we last met, I was still talking about the Apple announcement, and by now I could probably run out to the Apple Store and pick up a Gold 5s like it’s nothing.

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(And yea, I know those are a special 24 Karat Gold build)
Well, now that I’ve had some time to conk out for a bit, and recharge my batteries, I decided that I would get caught up on my gaming news. Now, I know that none of this is breaking news…that is all.
Let’s start with Valve. There were a lot of speculations before E3 that Valve was join the console fray and introduce a “Steam Box” that would enter the market and absolutely baffle the competition. We were all disappointed when Valve said nothing of any possible console developments, but late in September, Valve finally threw us a bone and said that they were going to be releasing some big news in 3 waves. In that last week of September they released three big announcements. First was SteamOS, a Linux based gaming operating system to make your living room run at top performance.

SteamOS

With the announcement of an operating system in round one, the second round announcement seemed to be a sure thing. Sure enough, the second announcement gave us the name of a dedicated piece of hardware to run SteamOS, and to act as a gaming platform…the Steam Machine. A unified platform for all Steam games to be based on.

And we thought at that point about a possibility that could have granted them instantaneous market share. If you look at Valve’s catalog, you will find a number of games that have made it to 2 installments, for which we are eagerly awaiting a third. Portal 3, Team Fortress 3, Left 4 Dead 3, Counter Strike 3, and the title that everyone is waiting for, Half-Life 3. The opportunity was ripe to make this third announcement be the bombshell that beckoned a new era of gaming. With a mountain of possibilities in front of them, what did they go and do then…?

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The Steam Controller…ok. If there was one thing that Steam didn’t need to waste considerable development energy on, it was a new controller. Years of research from both Microsoft and Sony have brought us to a pair of controllers that bare a striking resemblance to one another, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s the configuration that has shown to be preferable to most people. Nintendo, well, nobody knows what the hell Nintendo is doing nowadays, so I won’t go there. I don’t know, I know that there are plenty of people out there that would have poured money into the potential lineup that I mentioned before, much more so than a controller that will probably perform mediocre.
There’s talk though that we might see some of that line, however. Left 4 Dead 3 might have been unintentionally confirmed in some footage posted one of their social media accounts, and at least a development team has been named for Half-Life 3 through some sort of internal database leak. Time will tell if any of this information will amount up to anything though.

I just mentioned that Nintendo has been up to some real weird hocus pocus lately. They recently released a new handheld console that had a lot of people scratching their heads, the 2DS.

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What Nintendo has essentially done is to make a bigger handheld console that won’t flip closed, and that has lost the 3D capabilities of its predecessor. I don’t know what they were thinking in terms of style. The thing is just so ugly, and the buttons just so high up. Its like no one who was on the design team had any sense of ergonomics. Their only redeeming factor at the moment is their price. The 2DS clocks in with a price tag right in around $130, where the full-powered 3DS is still right in around $200.

Pokémon X and Y came out recently, and actually really interested in playing it. It’s a 3DS title though, and the last time I bought a handheld was the Gameboy Advance years ago.

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And, I don’t know if I’ve just been out of the market for too long, or if I’m just out of place with the pricing, but $200 feels like a little steep for a handheld console. Either way, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for some Pokémon, and the 3DS just feels too expensive. The 2DS however, is much more within a price range that I would consider acceptable. What’s a guy to do?
I mentioned last post about when Pokémon was a kind of underground obsession, out of fear of ridicule from the middle school ruling elite. It’s weird how trends change, because I feel like if I was walking around playing Pokémon now, not only would I not care at the least what other people thought of me, but I’d be taken aback if I got any kind of ridicule at all. I like how as adults, for the most part, have learned to leave their judgements at the door, and can be perfectly fine walking around with Pokémon screaming from their electronic devices.

I can’t get my Pokemans fix right now, but I have managed, at some point in the past several weeks, to go out and pick up Grand Theft Auto V though.

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I hear the same stories about this game that you usually hear about World of Warcraft when people first purchase it; it will absolutely destroy your life. Like once a person goes in, they haven’t been seen to come out. I don’t know what I was thinking buying this game, but I told myself that I could defy the hype.
Thank goodness I have a dedication to my schoolwork, because somehow to this point, I’ve only gotten about 20% of the way into the game. Man, this game at times doesn’t play like a game, it plays more like a movie, most all of the missions feel so motivated, and the characters are amazing. I can’t wait to get some more time to play through it. I hear that the story get really intense. Time willing, I may have a review for it in a year or so.

Now, I haven’t talked much about it, just a little bit during E3, and that’s because the release date is still so far off, but I’ve been eagerly awaiting the new Bungie game, Destiny to drop.

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I talked enough about it in that post, but Bungie has recently announced that there will an open beta for a select number of players out there starting next year. Several weeks ago, I got an email saying that I have been given a beta access code, so I’ll get to jump into some Destiny gameplay hopefully not too long after Christmas this year.

I was doing some speculation last week about another game that was announced at E3, that at this point still doesn’t have a release date, Kingdom Hearts 3.

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The Kingdom Hearts franchise has been a mashup of Disney characters and Square Enix characters thrown together in an epic adventure of colliding worlds.  I don’t know anyone that dislikes this game, and it has been one of the most waited for games in quite a number of years.
My speculation is this: Disney has acquired several large entities in recent years…most notably Marvel and Star Wars. I wonder, do you think we might see any of those new characters pop up in Kingdom Hearts 3? Think about that for a minute…what if Kingdom Hearts 3 had Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk? What if Kingdom Hearts 3 had Darth Vader, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Chewbacca, hell, what if Kingdom Hearts 3 had Han Solo?
Part of me thinks that this would never happen in a million years. But, with a release date still looming in the shadows, who know s what they might have time to do, or what they might even be motivated to do.

Lots of potentially cool things on the horizon. And once I get my time back (and a little bit of dime as well) I intend to take it all on.

Still don’t know when I’ll find free time again to make another post, but rest assured, I haven’t forgotten about y’all yet.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

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Crab Nachos

As I speak, children everywhere are crying out in misery as they are being forced back on the bus and back off to school. I myself shall resume my studies here in a few days, but for now, I shall cherish these last few days of summer. For me, that probably means steak, some adult beverages, and a few more movies. My Summer Movie List has also seen it’s finish. So without any further basking in the glory of the final summer hours, let’s get on with it.

Fittingly, we shall begin with…

The World’s End

Poster designed by Alex Pardee

Poster designed by Alex Pardee

Five friends from high school are brought back together by nostalgic Gary King (Simon Pegg) decides he wants to get the gang back together for another go at a legendary pub crawl, all culminating at a pub called The World’s End. Due to a series of events, the gang comes to find out that there home town has become overrun by robots, and their only chance to make it out alive is to blend in and complete their journey to The World’s End.
This is the third installment of what has come to be known as the “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” of films directed Edgar Wright and featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Also featured in this film are Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddy Marsan, Rosamund Pike, and even a few brief cameos from Pierce Brosnan.
This flick was full of quick-witted laughs, and the unabashed gore and violence was on point, but something felt kind of off. I felt like this film was written to follow its’ two predecessors, instead of to really stand on its own. The film felt reliant on the humor and fan base of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to keep its’ audience grounded. I feel what I’m really trying to gripe about hear is that the film didn’t bring anything new to the trilogy, and as a stand alone film it borrowed heavily from the past works of its creators.
It’s still a great film, and you’ll laugh all the way through, but don’t expect any new life to be breathed into it.
The World’s End – 7 out of 10

I also happened to see another movie this past weekend that wasn’t on my list…

Two Guns
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When I first saw the ads for this flick, I honestly wasn’t that excited. It looked like kind of a generic buddy cop movie, so I guess the marketing just didn’t quite do it justice. A DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence officer team up team up to recoup some money, not knowing their partner’s true identity, or who the money truly belongs to. They end up stealing money from the wrong people, and must figure out how to work with one another, and get each other out of their unexpected situation. Mark Wahlberg made this movie for me. His character was just so quick-witted, and loved to run his mouth…I was unexpectedly laughing my butt off in a couple of places. Washington‘s character had a pretty smart mouth on him too, but not near as snarky as Wahlberg’s. The unexpected brief nudity was also rather nice. I didn’t know it going in, but Paula Patton very briefly bares her chest for all to see. Very brief, if you blink, you might miss it. The story wasn’t very original, but you’re not really expecting innovative with a buddy cop flick. It’s good, it’d definitely get the intentional walk at the Roman Coliseum.
2 Guns – 7 out of 10

Well, with that, we’ve come to the end of what I would consider the summer movie season, and have entered the Fall season for movie releases. From here until next summer there is a drop in the volume of movies, and we also begin to see movies of a different caliber. Ever since Jaws, summer is the season for big hollywood blockbusters, and in between summers are we see more indie films, dramas, and documentaries.
The following list are the movies that stand out in my mind for the upcoming fall season.

Riddick – 9/06
Vin Diesel reprises his role as Riddick, the enigmatic and reluctant last son of the Furyan people. In his last film, Riddick just wanted to be left alone, now all he wants is revenge. Every bounty hunter in the galaxy is out get him, but for Riddick, that’s just part of the plan. Still directed by David Twohy, we can probably expect the same caliber of story and story telling that we’ve come to expect from the previous two movies of the franchise.

The Family – 9/13
Robert DeNiro is a former mobster turned witness against his former mafia clan. He and his family are forced to move to Normandy, France in the witness protection program to keep the mob from finding them. They must learn to live in their new surroundings while keeping a low profile so the mob doesn’t catch wind of where they’ve been relocated. I almost didn’t add this to my list, this just looks like it’s going to fall flat. I think this is going to end up being one of the huge bombs that Relativity Media has built a poor reputation on. I was surprised though by 2 Guns, so I decided to throw this in there.

Prisoners – 9/20
Two little girls go missing, and the only lead is a ratty looking old RV parked on the same street that the girls live on. The driver is arrested, but with nothing to hold him on he is soon released. With time wearing on, the father of one of the girls (Hugh Jackman) decides to take matters into his own hands. How far will he go to get his daughter back?

Machete Kills – 10/11
The Mad Mexican named Machete returns, this time under the employment of the U.S. government. His mission is to go deep into Mexico to take out a cartel leader and a billionaire arms dealer. An army will stand in the way to his objective, but they’ll have probably wished they brought more guns.
I never saw the first Machete, or the short in between the 2007 double feature, Planet Terror/Grindhouse…for which I am reluctant. Just never got around to it, but I’ll probably make the effort before this comes out. The cast here is star studded; Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara, Amber Heard, Jessica Alba, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga, Carlos Estevez…yes, Carlos Esteves. Charlie Sheen has decided for the first time to drop his stage name and use his legal name. What role is he playing? President of The United States…this is bound to be good.

Carrie – 10/18
Under the torment of her peers, a sheltered high school discovers that she has telekinetic powers, and unleashes them. This is a remake of the 1976 classic under the same name. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as the title role. (Still too early to say she’s hot? Still 16? Crap.) Julianne Moore will play the role of Carrie’s overprotective mother. You know I’ll go and see this.

Bad Grandpa – 10/25
Johnny Knoxville stars in this 4th film of the Jackass franchise. Instead of the usual crazy instincts of the entire crew, this film will center on the character created for him, Irving Zisman…or Bad Grandpa. It seems a strange turn for the Jackass guys to make a movie about one person, and a “character” at that, but supposedly this movie will still be very grounded in reality, and the interactions and reactions of others. I’ve still never seen a Jackass film in theaters, and may wait for the DVD to come out, but let’s see what’s going on that weekend.

Ender’s Game – 11/01
The film adaptation Orson Scott Card’s 1984 novel is finally being brought into the light! The script has technically been ready since 2009, but Lionsgate didn’t pick it up for distribution until 2011. I’m torn here; I’ve read one of the books which it is based on, and I can tell you from a sci-fi perspective that Card’s vision of the future is amazing…but from a socio-political standpoint it’s catching a lot of flack. Card evidently has a very heavy bias against the LGBT lifestyle and movement, and a strong boycott movement has been aimed at the film. Lionsgate is trying to distance themselves and the film from its creator, but I guess we’ll see how well that goes. I’m a real fan of the story, and I feel like despite Card’s personal views, the story should speak for itself.
The story: after barely fending off an attack from an alien race called Formics, more commonly know as Buggers, the world’s military strategists begin training children from an early age to one day be proficient enough to lead Earth’s forces against the Buggers. But, is there enough time to get these children up to speed, and at what cost to the children?

Thor: The Dark World – 11/08
One year after the events in The Avengers has passed, Thor finds himself in a fight to save the 9 Realms from an enemy older than the Cosmos itself…and no, the Chitauri and Thanos are in no way involved with this film. The villain[s] of this film are Malekith the Accursed, and his Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. The Marvel Universe has such a huge catalog of villains, it’s hard to keep up with them. Since getting into the modern Marvel Avengers franchise, I’ve become interested enough that I’ll most likely go and see it.

Catching Fire – 11/22
The sequel to the mildly loved Hunger Games is on its way. Jennifer Lawrence, and Josh Hutcherson step back into their roles as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, having just returned from their victory at the 74th Annual Hunger Games, and having to set off on a victory tour of the the other districts. Revolution however brews on the heels of their victory, and everyone can sense it. The capital however remains firmly in control though as the President prepares for the 75th Annual Hunger Games: the Quarter Quell. The downfall of this film, like its predecessor, is the film’s rating. PG-13 is not an appropriate rating to properly convey the events. Hunger Games was supposed to depict children killing one another, extremely brutally in some cases. The only way to accomplish this in a PG-13 movie is to quickly cut away from the action. I fear that Catching Fire will target itself at the same audience, and ultimately end up suffering the same fate. An R rating could save this franchise. In reality though, I’ll hope for the best, and expect the worst.

My list ends at the end of November. I know that Texas rarely ever gets a true winter, but it still doesn’t feel right grouping December flicks in on the Fall List. Like I said though…not much. There will be even fewer once my Winter List comes out.

While on the subject of upcoming movies, there was an announcement this past week that’s had the info tubes up in a huge tizzy. Warner Brothers and Zach Snyder have cast a new Batman in the new title, Batman vs. Superman, slated right now to be released in July of 2015. Ben Affleck is the man that has been chosen.

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Everyone is having an extremely visceral reaction to this news, and though I really don’t want to rush to form an opinion on this too quick, I really do want to talk about it. I’m pretty sure that most of the people that are responding negatively are remembering his portrayal of Daredevil back in 2003.

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I’m sure I speak for…the majority when I say that it wasn’t good. I’m pretty sure that even Affleck himself said after Daredevil flopped that he would never play a superhero again. 10 years have passed between then and now though, and he’s had a lot of time to grow as an actor. Anyone who saw Argo (2012) will know that he is very capable of powerful dramatic roles. Stepping into the role as a superhero again is a big step, but I think he’s ready for it.
Let’s not forget either, the huge backlash that occurred when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker in The Dark Knight. People were outraged at that news, and his performance of the villain went on to be the one that most everyone will agree as the best in the history of the role. I think Affleck will surprise us, and actually put on a good show. I’m honestly more interested to see if there will be a Robin.

I want to say that this next thing is big news as well, but it’s more speculation of big news. Rumor has it that on September 10th, Apple will unveil their next range of new products across the whole spectrum with which they operate.

Apple Sep 10

They will supposedly unveil the new iPhone (the 5s or whatever they want to call it), and also a cut-down, lower cost version of the phone, for those that want a smart phone on a budget. iOS 7 has been beta testing for a few months now, and it’s reasonable to assume that the new phones will come with the final build of that. It is also expected that Apple will also launch, if not at this event then sometime extremely soon, the new version of Mac OS X, referred to as Mavericks (I guess they’re getting tired of the big cats motif). I’m just guessing here, but maybe they’ll have a new iPad as well? We’ll see I guess…2 weeks and some change, let’s see if I’m right.

How about some real news? Video games save lives. This isn’t what you normally hear in the news. You usually hear about video games killing cops or shooting up schools. Well, about 4 weeks or so ago, the tables turned.
In Colorado, a 10-year-old boy named Gryffin was the passenger in a car with his younger brother and 74-year-old grandmother. The grandmother passed out at the wheel for unknown reasons, and young Gryffin, thinking quickly, seized the wheel of the 60 mph car and directed it into a muddy ditch before the car could veer into oncoming traffic. When asked where he learned to do what he did, his response was Mario Kart. Thorough training in the Nintendo racing game decreased little Gryffin’s reaction time, and increased his decision-making ability. Confusion or panic could easily have been Gryffin’s instinctual reaction, but his training took over and he jumped behind the wheel.
Thanks to video games, Gryffin was able to save the life of his grandmother, his little brother, and himself. We should be thankful though that he didn’t have any banana peels or tortoise shells to contend with.
It’s nice to see something positive about video games popping up in the news from time to time. Thank you Gryffin, for breaking the stereotype that video games are the bad guy.

Finally, a good story with which to end this post. I guess that means I’m at my stopping point for the day. With school starting back up here this week, I’ll try and cook up some school related material for next week. I’m having a thought. Something that I used to do for my roommates was put together a schedule of big college football games for the week, so that we’d know at a quick glance where and when big games were being played, and try plan accordingly. If time permits, I may try and work that into blog here.

Alright lads and lasses. It’s been fun. Till next week…

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Scratching the Itch at J Sushi in Denton

Scratching the Itch at J Sushi in Denton

Welcome back interneters, how’s the net been? Good I hope, it can be weird out there. Well, I have entirely too much stuff to get through this week, so I’ll probably be picking and choosing from this weeks internal list, and shoving a lot of it off until another. First and foremost though, I have a little bit of somewhat breaking news, so let’s dive in.

Microsoft announced this past week that the one last problem that people were still complaining about with the Xbox One has been solved. “Chief Xbox One Architect” Marc Whitten spoke with IGN last week answering questions about the console when the topic of the Xbox Kinect came up. Whitten first spoke of all the interesting  and innovative interactions that the Kinect allowed you to have with the console, but went on to say that it in fact could be completely shut off, to where it would only be functional for IR blasting. Further, the console will still function if the Kinect were to be unplugged, except for any features that specifically require its use.
In essence, the Kinect is no longer required to be always on, you can now unplug it and the system won’t complain at you. The console will be sold with the Kinect as part of the included package, but no longer is it a required component for most core functionality. IGN’s original interview with Whitten can be found here.

While I’m on the subject, Whitten also announced late last month that every Xbox One will be able to be used as a development kit. Usually and classically, development kit consoles are only available to licensed game developers, but Microsoft has said that they want everyone to have that ability to create in their new environment.
Development functionality will not be a feature at launch, but will be added at a later date. Microsoft says that more details will be revealed at gamescom later this month.

At this point in the game, with all the concessions Microsoft has made to their fans and customers, it should be clear that they have their sights set on delivering the best product possible to their audience. They have listened to their feedback and adjusted the the product accordingly to how they feel that their community will best enjoy it. I’m really glad I’ve chosen to stick with Microsoft in this case, they’re continually showing me that they are not only committed to making the best product possible, but they are also listening to what their consumers have to say, and taking that feedback to heart.

Moving on, I’ve seen the next couple of films on my summer watch list, bringing me very close to the end, so let’s go ahead and get those out of the way.

Elysium
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Science fiction writers have the unique ability to give us a vision of what the Earth of the future could be like, so why is it that so many see the planet in ruins or complete upheaval?
Neil Blomkamp gives us a vision of the world where in the future, almost everyone has become the slums. If you’re making any kind of a living at all, it’s as some sort of slave to the people of Elysium. Matt Damon, when given his own expiration dates, reluctantly steps up to become our hero.
Like some sort of sci-fi Jesus Christ, Matt Damon has risen to cleanse us of our disease and our sins. Yea, I just went there. I saw a lot of religious allegory in this movie, and probably let a lot of that implication weigh on my rating of the film. I saw the Halo/Citadel like ring world(Elysium) as a metaphor for heaven turned hell, with everyone living there in their lavish ignorance of the poverty on Earth. I also saw Sharlto Copley‘s character as an inverted archangel, like an evil Michael or Gabriel. Maybe Jodie Foster could then be Lucifer could then be trying to gain control over the mantle of Heaven.
I’m probably the only one that has read in all the religious implications into the movie, but I couldn’t get it out of my head the whole time. Blomkamp’s view of the battle for heaven…I don’t know, my imagine was working on overdrive in this flick.
The visuals were amazing, and looked completely believable. It had the same aesthetic quality that you’d expect from a Blomkamp film after seeing District 9. Everything from VFX down to the lighting felt completely natural.
The acting was great, nobody under or over performed. Jodie Foster was a perfect asshole, and I mean that as a compliment. I rarely see her play a villainous role, and she executed it so well. I haven’t seen Sharlto Copley play a villain either, and wouldn’t have thought that he had it in him, but he was so fabulously creepy, and sinister. Come to find he can wear it like a glove. I wanna see Matt Damon do evil. I wonder if he could handle it. As a good guy, he usually seems pretty…well, vanilla. If there was anything weak about this movie, and I’m shocking myself saying this, but it was him. He just felt like he was such a bland hero. Then again, if you ever were going to make a sci-fi Jesus, you really wouldn’t want to give him any kind of an ego, would you?
Elysium – 8 out of 10

Kick-Ass 2
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Is it still too soon to say that Chloë Grace Moretz is hot? Still 16? Well, crap.
This is the sequel we have been waiting for. I said in my writeup earlier this summer about how everything just worked so perfectly for the original; the casting, the acting, the story, the visuals…everything. I was worried that with Jeff Wadlow as the new writer/director, that the sequel would fall well short of the original. Nope…just as before, this film hit on all cylinders, everything just worked here; the casting, the acting, the story, the visuals…everything. Almost all of the original cast returned. The only change I could find was Todd, the third member of Dave’s group of friends.
Everyone was kind of wondering how Jim Carrey‘s role of Colonel Stars and Stripes would turn out, and I’m glad to say that he fit it just perfectly. Now, I haven’t read the original Kick-Ass comics, so I don’t know how well the role correlates to the original, but he just fit. Christopher Mintz-Plasse apprising the new role of The Mother Fucker, incredible. It was hard to imagine how, after they set up Chris D’Amico in the first movie, he could truly rise as some sort of badass, but they did, and like everything else, it just worked so perfectly. It also felt weird to imagine that even though Aaron Taylor-Johnson‘s role as Kick-Ass, despite getting his act together and saving the day in first film, could still be anything more than the wannabe nerdy hero in the follow up. They somehow though turned him into a muscled down badass with actually fighting ability…that still retained the lovable nerdy awkwardness that defined his role. I mean, everything just worked, I don’t know if I can say that enough.
At one point in the film, I thought they might have slipped up with the story a little, when they started getting into Hit Girl’s journey through high school, and learning how to act more like a girl. I started to sigh when they started with that plot line, but Jesus does it pay off.
What is one thing that you would love to see in a [super]hero movie? A battle royale between a giant group of heroes and villains, right? Well, not to give anything away, but that’s the climax right there. Everything comes to a head with a gigantic showdown between the forces of good and evil. I was literally gripping my seat. I even started cheering in one notable scene.
This film could have fallen so completely and horribly flat, and at the same time so much potential for this film to soar in every way possible. It is so gratifying to see a film live up to its potential, and shatter all your expectations.
Kick-Ass 2 – 10 out of 10

We’ve just about gotten through my Summer Watch List at this point, with only “The World’s End“, which comes out on Friday. Given that, I’ll probably have a review for it next week. I missed a couple of movies, but I still got around to most of them. Something I wanna try to do for next week, it addition to “The World’s End” review, is try to put together a Fall Watch List because…why not. I’m torn as to whether or not I want to identify my favorite movie for the season, or just wait until the end of the year, and do like an award show for it or something. I think that’s what I may do…yea, keep an eye out for that in December.

At some point after I did my first Nerds of the Future segment, I started wondering about designing the perfect car…designing the car of the future. And then I remembered, I’m not an engineer, I should stop that line of thinking right there. I can’t design the perfect vehicle…hell, I can barely even draw. It takes days of effect to even sketch up a simple floor plan. There are a lot of other people out there though that that have designed a lot of really cool vehicles that give us visions of the future. I began wondering, if I could choose any vehicle from any work of fiction, what would it be? Here are a few of the options that I came up with.

The Normandy SR-2 (Mass Effect 3)
Normandy_SR2_Alliance_Livery

Enough room for your friends, family, and a full set of crew members. Faster than light speeds, radar/ladar cloaking, terrestrial descent capability…full kitchen, bar, med bay, and communications suites. She ain’t the fastest ship in the galaxy, but she’ll get you there in style. Oh, and it also comes with a fully functional A.I., EDI

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There’s truly not much she can’t do…I did say fully functional.

Serenity (Firefly and Serenity)
Serenity ship

She may not be the most elegant ship out there, but she’s made with love, and that makes her a home. Serenity has a lot of hidden nooks and crannies, which makes her idea for smuggling. She’s got two shuttles for running errands or reconnaissance, a roomy cargo bay, and lots of common space, but then again, so does the Normandy. The Serenity though is geared for running with a smaller crew than the Normandy is; probably 5 or 6 people could suffice. She doesn’t have the same kind of offensive and defensive capabilities that warships do, but with the right man at the helm, she can dance like a leaf on the wind.

The Flutter (Mega Man Legends 1 and 2)
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This is more of a nostalgia choice, as she isn’t that reliable, and she spends most of her time being broken down. She was a very clean running green ship though, running on refractor shards. It’s surprisingly roomy, given its’ appearance from the outside. Despite it only being 60 feet long by 60 feet tall, it still has 3 bedrooms, a bridge, engine room, r&d area, a cargo hold, a kitchen, and a common area. It’s not capable of space flight, but it’s gotten every job done so far, and even saved the day on a few occasions. Minimal crew required, you can probably get by with 3 or 4.

Millenium Falcon (Star Wars Episodes IV V and VI)
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She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. Here’s another one that can be operated with a minimal crew, but this one was actually built with offense and defense in mind. She has top and bottom situated laser gunner mounts, concussion missles, and directable deflector shields. The captain boasts that she can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, but that’s more of a function of the navigation computer than the hyperdrive. Bunk space is limited, she can sleep 7, but they’re pretty small bunks. Small galley, small common area, large cargo bay. She’s here to do the job…not much else. But she’s definitely the best ship for the job.

Maybe you’re in the market for something smaller though, something a little bit more personal, we’ve got a few options for that too.

The Warthog (Halo Series)
Halo4Warthog

Seating for 3, off road capability, 4 wheel steering, M41 anti-materiel gun, wench, easily flip-able. Extremely fuel efficient, and the chain gun has a seemingly limitless supply of ammunition. The only issue with it that I can see is that you need a friend to operate M41.

Tachikoma (Ghost in the Shell Manga/Anime)
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Your very own A.I. loaded multi-legged tank. It can fire guns, drive at highway speeds, climb buildings, cloak itself to become invisible, and be your friend if you know what fuel to feed it. Plus, it can do all that with or without you in the cockpit. Don’t be surprised though if it spies on you from time to time, they’re very eager to learn.

Still too big? How about this…

The Iron Man high-tech prosthesis (Iron Man comics/cartoons/movies)
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Single occupancy, form fitting, flight capable, and more firepower than half of the above options. Comes with a very friendly British virtual operating system named Jarvis, who could run this suit himself if he had to, but knows that you probably got into the driver’s seat for a reason. Depending on the model, it might require a little finesse to remove the suit.

I realize, looking up at this list, that it is highly autobiographical. As always, I’m sure there are a crap load of things that I missed. What are the vehicles that you’re yelling that I overlooked? Drop me a comment and let me know what I left out.

Ugh, this is why I usually don’t say what I’m going to do for the next week. Stuff comes up, and I end up spending half of the post talking Xbox One and movie reviews. I’m not making any promises for next week, but you can probably expect a review of “The World’s End”, a Fall List of Movies, maybe another Nerds of the Future installment, and…I don’t know what else.

Oh, before I go, TWC and CBS are still at each others’ throats. One development is that lawsuits have been filed against TWC by its’ own customers, for breach of contract and such. They’ll break, trust me…they’ll break.

Alright guys, see ya back here next week for…stuff.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Omelet Sandwich on a Blueberry Bagel

Omelet Sandwich on a Blueberry Bagel

I didn’t really know what kind of shenanigans I’d be getting myself into this past weekend, otherwise I’d have made mention in my previous post. But, I actually got to do something pretty cool this past weekend…attend part of the opening weekend festivities of the new Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson.

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For those of you that don’t know, the Alamo Drafthouse is, in their words and I agree, a theater franchise made by movie fans, for movie fans. The hallmarks of the Drafthouse that make it great are…
1) Absolutely no talking or texting once the lights go down. In most theaters it’s just frowned upon. Here, you get one warning before you’re ejected with no refund.
2) No kids, get ’em out. They’re okay at certain movies, but for most…find a baby sitter.
3) Good food, original beverages, and an aim at supporting local breweries.
4) Exceptional presentation quality, the Richardson location, for example, has 4K projectors in its’ theaters. (Highest resolution available at this point)
5) This is a home for cinema classics and special events. They know who their audience is, and know that doing classics and unique showings will keep the cinephiles at their doorstep.

The lobby of every Alamo Drafthouse has a lobby unique to the atmosphere of the area in which the theater is located. For Richardson, with the Texas Instruments HQ virtually just next door, and the mid-century modern architecture of the surrounding area, the Richardson lobby has been given a post-modern technology feel to it. And attuned to that, the theme was set for the special movies and events being featured on their soft launch weekend: Robots! Special titles and events featured this past weekend included The Master Pancake Theater‘s take on Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), The Iron Giant (1999) in 35mm, Robot Jox (1989) in 35mm, *Batteries Not Included (1987) in 35mm, Short Circuit (1986), The Transformers: The Movie (1986) in 35mm, The Terminator (1984), Logan’s Run (1976, filmed in Dallas), Forbidden Planet (1956), and finally, the one that I got to see, Fritz Lang’s The Complete Metropolis (1927) with 25 minutes of long lost footage, and orchestration by the Dallas-based improvisational ensemble: BL Lacerta.

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In my eyes, this was pretty much the Sci-Fi movie that opened up the Sci-Fi genre. Metropolis was certainly the first full feature-length Sci-Fi film, running 153 minutes in it’s original condiiton. It featured one of cinemas first robots, and arguably cinemas first android. A sizable amount of the film had been lost over time, but in 2008, an original cut was found in a cinema museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The film was slightly degraded, but most of the film was salvaged and adequately restored to include up to 148 of the original 153 minutes of film. Metropolis was a German silent film, with title cards and accompanying orchestration. The version I got to see was adapted to have English title cards, and some summarization for the parts that couldn’t be restored well enough to be included. It’s a shame that this film wasn’t respected near enough as it should have been when it was originally released. I guess German expressionist science fiction just wasn’t that well accepted back in 1927. I’d have thought that audiences would go for Brigitte Helm though, even by modern standards she’s pretty foxy.

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Having the BL Lacerta Improvisational Ensemble there was such a treat. They completely made up the score as they went along, and even though, in my opinion, it took them about 10 minutes or so to gain a little bit of traction, they made the whole experience breathtaking. 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that any film made before 1986 could give me goosebumps, but with BL Lacerta driving the movie forward, I certainly got them.

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There will literally never be anything like it again. Like I said, they were making it up as they went along.

Adding an experience like that onto my film résumé is a once in a lifetime experience for me. I mean, I got to see the original Alien (1979) in theater at Cinemark earlier this summer, but that’s just not the same thing at all. This is arguably the Holy Grail of Sci-Fi films, the progenitor of the genre. Films like this aren’t going to cross my doorstep that often, but the great thing about Alamo Drafthouse is that they’ll certainly try to do it more often.

I also saw Elysium while I was out there, but as I’ve already gone on a long exposition on the Drafthouse and Metropolis, so I’ll save that review for next week. I’d have added a score to my little trope through Metropolis up there, but that movie is honestly well above me. It’d feel wrong for me to render any kind of judgement to a film so classic other than awe, so I’ll just say that it broke my scale.

It’s no secret, I love my Sci-Fi movies. It’s a big love of mine. I love it even more when I find out that quite a few movies that I enjoy have little Easter Eggs hidden in them. It’s a fairly often occurence nowadays, and most people know to look out for them, but not a lot of people know where the term or the practice of including Easter eggs came from. The term Easter Egg, as it applies to movies, can be attributed to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. One day, for whatever reason, they decided to have an actual easter egg hunt on set, and some of the eggs were hidden so well that they weren’t found by the time they had to resume filming the next day. Some of those unfound eggs found there way into the shots of the film, and into the final cut.

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So quite literally, the first Easter Eggs in film were actual easter eggs. Easter Eggs have become a little more elaborate, deliberate, and figurative since then, and I wanted to account a few of my more favorite ones that I’ve seen crop up in films I like.
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) Okay, yea, I lied. Not one of my more favorite films, but it does have an awesome Easter Egg in it. When Queen Amidala calls for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum, the shot moves around to look at the reaction of various other species and nations. If you’re looking closely, you might notice something.

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Don’t see it? Look a little closer…

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Yep, those are the Extra Terrestrials from Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982). That little bugger that Elliot was hanging out with in 1982 probably had Yoda on speed dial.
I Am Legend (2007) At Comic-Con earlier this summer, it was announced that Superman would return in 2015, facing off against rival superhero, Batman. This was a graphic they provided at the announcement…

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For many, this graphic looked very familiar…very very familiar.

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They may have predicted it to happen about 5 years too early, but the I Am Legend filmmakers had it spot on. I mean, I bet when someone from Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman camp were coming up with promo materials for Comic-Con this year, someone was like, “Hey, they had a good poster in I Am Legend…let’s use that.” The awesome thing about this, is that it didn’t become an Easter Egg until 6 years after the film’s release.
Star Trek (2009) There were a lot of mixed emotions when J.J. Abrams was appointed as the Director of the upcoming Star Wars Episode 7, mainly lots of people, myself included, that didn’t want to see someone that has had some influence of the Star Trek universe to have the same influence over the Star Wars universe. The fact is though, Abrams has already allowed a little mixing of the two universes. Many of you may have missed R2D2 popping up for a split second in the 2009 Star Trek, but he was there. When the Enterprise emerged from warp into the debris of the fallen Star Fleet ships around Vulcan, this little guy popped up in front of the view screen…

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Yep, that’s R2 in all his glory bouncing off the windshield of the Enterprise, tossed aside like a bug off windshield wipers. ::Sigh:: You’ve actually got the pranksters at Industrial Light and Magic to thank for this. Apparently they like to toss R2 into a lot of the projects they help out with. Supposedly R2 also popped up in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen when Optimus Prime was gearing up towards the end. Who knows all where the ILM boys stuck that little guy.
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Temple of Doom (1984) You might be shocked to hear that the Easter Eggs that has been found in Indiana Jones are ones from Star Wars. What Indie failed to realize while digging around for the long lost Ark of the Covenant, that he’d already found it…perhaps in a previous life, a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…from anywhere else. What Dr. Jones failed to realize while tomb raiding were a couple of his old friends immortalized in the hieroglyphics behind him.

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There’s also another one that pops up in the Temple of Doom right in the beginning. The night club that Indie finds himself in, where he first meets Willie is none other than, Club Obi Wan.

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Lucas and Spielberg were pretty tight back in those days.
I’ve got one more for you, and it’s really a bit of a stretch, so bare with me.
Iron Man (2008) When Tony Stark finally escapes captivity and returns to America, he asks for two things: an American cheeseburger, and a press conference. A cut or two later, when Stark steps out of the car and is greeted by Obadiah, he has a Burger King cheeseburger in hand (I would love to provide you with a screenshot, but the internet has actually failed me this time, you’ll have to watch it for yourself to confirm). The Easter Egg here is the BK cheeseburger, if you know enough about Robert Downey Junior‘s life. In 2003, before RDJ had turned his life around, he was driving around with what he described as “tons of f—ing dope” in his car, and decided to stop for a burger…at Burger King. He said that the burger was so terrible, that he felt that something terrible was going to soon happen, so he tossed all his drugs into the ocean, and decided then and there he was going to turn his life around. He credits Burger King for being the catalyst that got his life back on the right track, and the inclusion of the cheeseburger scene in Iron Man was RDJ’s way of making a metaphor of his own life, as having the cheeseburger was the last thing Stark did before announcing he was turning his company around.

I remember when I watched that movie for the first time. Seeing RDJ, with his courage steeled and his mission understood, suiting up in the red and gold Mk. 3 armor for the first time. That first viewing is a feeling you can’t ever really recreate. There are plenty of movies and games out there whose turning points make the initial viewing infinitely better than any following occurrence. I would like to venture a ponder out there, and make an inquiry to my audience.
What game or movie would you want to play through/watch again, with no memory, just so that you could have your mind blown for a second time? I’ll go ahead and start us out.
Mass Effect 3 (2012)…the franchise marked the first console games that let you carry on a storyline through a line of games, and was a unique game in that most people who played it chose to design their own character, instead of using the default. You genuinely got attached to your character, and all the supporting cast that you picked up along the way. It was known well ahead of time that this franchise was a trilogy, 3 games and done. So much anticipation was built up around the release of Mass Effect 3. If I could go back and live through that anticipation, and the playthrough to find out how the characters resolve all their conflicts after nearly 5 years of built up dedication…that would be so cool.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)…seeing a childhood favorite cartoon brought into live action for the first time was about as exciting as it gets for a kid.

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Childhood joy is beautiful. But the pure manic drooling excitement of a 4-year-old is something altogether fearful…but innocent. I miss having that same raw enthusiasm. And to think that Megan Fox is now going to be dirtying up the role of April O’Neil…

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::Sigh:: Michael Bay is like a battered wife. He know’s that she is nothing but bad, but he just keeps going back to her. Had I been consulted for the casting of the new TMNT, I would have just dropped this on Michael Bay’s desk…

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He could have done so much better with Miss Winstead.
Speaking of M.E.W. I’ll go ahead and wrap up this exercise with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). I remember going and seeing this movie in theater on opening day. I had literally no idea what to expect; I hadn’t played the game, nor had I read the mangas. Within the first five minutes, with the video game sound effects, the dry humor, and the lead-in to the title sequence, and I found myself leaning over to my buddy and whispering, “I think I’m in love.”

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Then I saw Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing Ramona for the first time, and I felt an odd tingling somewhere behind my man tackle. Seeing her for the first time with that pink hair, well…it lit my fire. I still think she looks ravishing, but nothing really ever compares to seeing a girl for the first time that matches your proposes specifications for sexy angelic perfection.

Film Title: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I’m getting caught up in the fair skinned muse. The movie itself was kind of a homage to everything that I love in life; music, video games, beautiful women, bass battles, hidden Easter Eggs, and over the top imagination and creativity. For me, everything little thing in this movie worked, and seeing it come together for the first time in theater, well, I was  writhing in my seat, I’m pretty sure.
Unfortunately, we can never go back, but it’s a nice exercise in nostalgia. So, I ask you, what are some movies, games, and various other media that you’d love the opportunity to experience again for the first time? I’m sure I’m leaving out plenty of good ones, so let me know what I’ve forgotten.

Alrightly then. Before I go, I’d like to make a short Public Service Announcement about Monster Cable®s, for all of my fellow musicians out there.

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I was perusing through one of my favorite news aggregators, and I came across a thread talking about how Monster Cable®s’ instrument cables are essentially ripping your instruments and other hardware to shreds. The way the rumor goes, and it has been confirmed by several other independent sources, is that Monster Cable®s’ 1/4″ instrument cables can range anywhere from .001 to .0015 inches larger in diameter than other 1/4″ cables on the market. That doesn’t sound like much, but when no other cables are capable of making a connection, let alone staying plugged in to your equipment. Let’s compare your guitar regularly functioning individual of the feminine gender. Have that lady deliver a child, and that’s how your guitar is going to feel after a Monster Cable® has had its’ way with her. I for one want to preserve the functionality of all my fair ladies’ holes, so my use of Monster Cable®s will cease today.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. Next week I’m thinking of doing another Nerds of the Future segment, talking about the downfall of the Beatles, majestic red meat, and some fancy rides of fiction. I may throw some other stuff in there, but those are the big talking points I’ve got planned right now. Until then…

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Balsamic and Garlic Marinated Pork Roast

Balsamic and Garlic Marinated Pork Roast

Well, perhaps my expectations are unrealistic. This blog has always been a personal outlet, but I’ve always tried to write it in a way so that it’s entertaining. I tend to forget sometimes that my audience here is actually pretty small. Should I advertise…hell, should I monetize?

Why is that even a word? Monetize…everything else in this world, we would just say that we were going to sell it, but on the Internet, for some reason we like to come up with special terms.

Regardless, however I take off, I don’t see it coming from humble little scribe sessions here. Humble…ha, I have such a swollen ego here.

You know what can really easily humble your ego? Most everyone has a favorite video game, or book, or show, or something from which they can claim that they know the entire universe backwards and forwards. Well, I stumbled upon this game recently, called Akinator

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…in which this genie dude asks you to think of a character…any character (alive, dead, fictional, historical, from a movie, book, video game, anything you can think of really), and within a couple rounds of questioning he can guess your character. This dude is good. My track record against him is pretty loss heavy.

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You start off just like this. Pick a character, any character, and hit go. If you try and pick any kind of main character, he’ll guess it every time. Like 100/100, top billed casts and characters central to narratives, he’ll never miss. That’s why I tell you to think of media for which you know everything in the universe…you have to dig deep. So, for example, I’ll pick some ancillary character from the Mass Effect series, and hit go. He’ll go through a few baseline questions to get his bearings: male of female, real of fictional, human or other, etc. Once he starts getting into the attributes of your character, you think that there’s no way he’ll guess, the questions are pretty vague.

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At some point though, he asks a question in which you just know…he’s got it.

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Once you get there, it’s all over pretty quick. Very rarely does he guess incorrectly. This was not one of those cases.

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Out of 77 times, I’ve only beaten him on 7 occasions. It’s addictive trying to dig deep into the worlds that you know so well, and trying to find something that will stump him. You can play him for free for a few times at the Akinator website, and at some point he’ll direct you to the App Store to buy the game for smartphone or whatever. It’s 2 bucks on the iTunes app store, and probably similarly priced on the Android marketplace, and the markets for Windows phone and Blackberry. It’s fun, and definitely makes you get closer to your favorites if you’re going to stand any chance of beating him.

That’s a nice little boredom deterrent whenever you have an internet connection. I wish though that I could find more of my people to get together with in Denton though, so that I wasn’t constantly needing to privately entertain myself. I know that my people are out there somewhere, but I still haven’t found them in droves yet.
I’ve been thinking…Denton has a pretty good bar scene. Between Fry Street and the Square, we have a pretty good little collection of watering holes. There’s got to be at least one of them that would be willing to set up a Geeks Who Drink night.

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Geeks Who Drink is a themed pub/bar quiz setup that bars can pick up and host once a week. It brings together friendly competition, nerding out, and social drinking. A lot of non-nerds might feel turned off by a name like Geeks Who Drink, but I feel like Denton would be perfect for this kind of thing. A lot of people describe Denton as an amalgamation of various eclectic personalities, kind of like a miniature Austin, of which many would probably fall under that classification.
We game, we drink, we socialize…let’s make it happen.

I don’t know why nerds get such the straight-laced reputation that we do. Sure, I may not be the biggest partier in the world, and ridiculous crowds get me kind of edgy, but I love myself a good beer once and a while. I’m far from being the only one too. In fact, I probably have a more rounded taste in beer than most of my friends. I always kind of wonder what went wrong when I ask a person what type of beers they like, and I get a response like, “Something light and crisp, like a Natty Light or something.” It’s possible that I’ve been hanging out with too many younglings, but there is so much more out there than the typical American light beers…Natty Light, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Rolling Rock, Keystone Light…ugh, you get the picture. Most places I go, this is what I see in the fridge 90% of the time.

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People, we can do better.

I know that for most of us, we make our alcohol purchasing decisions based on the content of our bank accounts, but at some point you have to cultivate a little taste. So, I really want to ask the question; if money was not an issue, what criteria would y’all use for picking a beer, and what types of qualities do you look for in a beer?

If I was responding to the question, I’d first say that I don’t like a beer that is extremely bitter or hoppy. So a Sam Adams Boston Lager, or any kind of IPA is something that I try to stay away from. I also don’t like anything that is extremely stout. I have a running joke with my buddy Jason that drinking a Guinness Draught is essentially the same as drinking mashed potatoes.

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It’s just so heavy, I feel like it’s not a beer anymore. Guinness Black Lager though, definitely on my radar.
I tend to like untraditional flavors too, like flavors that aren’t based in wheats and grains. For example, I’ve really jumped on the Redd’s Apple Ale bandwagon recently. Crisp, clean, and brut, to steal some of their marketing terms.

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Okay, weird, sidebar real quick. Looking for that picture, I just found out that there is also a Redd’s Strawberry Apple Ale.

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This may be one of those ‘pot calling the kettle black’ situations, but…weird.

So yea, the qualities I look for would probably be crisp, clean, and full-bodied flavor. It sounds really abstract, but I’m not trying to describe just 1 beer.

How about a top 10…yea, my Top 10 Favorite Beers at the moment.

1) Redd’s Apple Ale
2) Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug
3) Dos Equis
4) Ziegenbock
5) Guinness Black Lager
6) Shiner Bock
7) Blue Moon
8) Leinenkugel’s Lemon Berry Shandy
9) Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat
And to round it out, I’ve got a beer that I keep in my fridge for special occasions. Just in case I have something worth celebrating, it’s there for me to bust open, and it’s probably the fruitiest thing that could be on any list. So finally, no homo…
10) Lindemans Framboise

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I am fully aware that that is far from being the manliest list in existence, but like I said, I’m a fan of flavor. The flavor can be more traditional, or be really wild, but don’t give me a bland beer.

Alright boys and girls, I think I’m going to call it a day. Before I go though, I’m sad to say that this past Saturday morning, the DFW area, and for what it’s worth the entire world as well, has lost one of its’ great radio icons, David Cradick (aka Kidd Kraddick). Kraddick was hosting a charity golf event in New Orleans when he suffered a fatal brain aneurism. Kraddick was best known now for being the voice of morning drive, on Kiss-FM’s morning show, syndicated in numerous markets throughout the United States. This past Monday, in an odd thought process, Kraddick talked about how a lot of people die suddenly, without getting the chance to thank the people in their lives, and express the love they have for all the friends and family that make their lives that much more rich. I don’t know if that was transpiring there, but he got the rare opportunity to thank his loved ones, and express the gratitude for the opportunities he’d been granted, and the blessed life he’d been fortunate to live. Kidd Kraddick was 53, and he shall be greatly missed.

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I hate to sign off on a somber note, so maybe instead I can solicit y’alls participation again in a fun little exercise. In the following image is a list of various video game/movie/anime items. If you could only pick 1 of the following 10 items, what would it be, and why? Click the image if you need to blow it up some.

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Think about it, and get back to me. I’ll tell you next week what my pick is. Until then…

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

The Royal's Bagels and Deli's version of a Reuben

The Royal’s Bagels and Deli version of a Reuben