Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Rare Bit of Christmas Spirit...

Just so that it's on the record, I absolutely HATE this time of year. For a variety of reasons most of which I will not go into here. I will say that this season brings back too many bad memories and buried frustrations and mixes it with a disgust fueled by the cynical view of the world I have. Now, I'm not trying to convince other people to hate the holidays. If this time of year brings you warm, fuzzy feelings and makes you all gooey inside, more power to you. I am not a completely evil, heartless, soulless bastard. (NOTE: I said "not completely".) I don't begrudge everyone else having a happy holiday season, just don't push your good cheer on me!

That being said, there are certain points of quality entertainment that I enjoy related to this season that allow me to get through every year. I want to share with you one of them.

Back when I was growing up (oh so long ago, it seems...), there was one Christmas special that I enjoyed watching. For some reason this special tapped into a version of Christmas that felt very real for me. And the music wasn't cloying or overly saccharine. My favorite song was their version of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by none other than "The California Raisins"!!

Doesn't that video just ROCK!!! If you get the chance, check out the whole special. It's only a half hour, but it's pretty cool!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Christmas List...

My history with Christmas is not a pleasant one. Most of my memories of this "Festive" holiday involve a great deal of emotional and physical pain. Consequently, christmas has become a non-event in my eyes. You will not see me getting a Christmas tree, lights, or any other such holiday nonsense. To all that crap, I give a wholehearted, "Bah Humbug!!"

Now unlike the villians of Christmas, Scrooge & The Grinch, I don't care if anyone else has a good time. Go, be merry, exchange gifts, kiss under mistletoe or mistlefoot, or mistlearm or whatever. Just don't push your good cheer on me. Now since Christmas is a non-event for me, I usually don't build a list of things that I want. But, there are tons of people out there who keep asking me for this list. After years and years of this, I have finally come up with an effective tactic against this. Widespread advertising of the things I really want.

So, for those of you who can't help yourselves and want to buy me a Christmas gift and so you don't have to bother calling, texting, or emailing and asking me for what I want, here's my Christmas list. Feel free to purchase me any of the following:

01) A Girlfriend
02) A 2004-2006 Dodge Durango
03) A JVC Kaboom box
04) A Mac Laptop (15 or 17 in screen )
05) iTunes Gift card
06) Best Buy Gift card
07) Playstation Network Gift Card
08) DVD Movies
09) Blu-Ray Movies
10) Cold, Hard Cash

And so we're clear, the movies better be good ones! Nothing like "Eat Pray Love" or "The Notebook". If you have doubts about buying the movie, just get a gift card instead. 

By the way, this list also works for my birthday as well!!

My First Thanksgiving...

And here we are on the far side of the Thanksgiving weekend. Surprisingly enough, I survived. Despite certain issues that threatened to destroy the holiday, I was able to spend time with family avoiding the usual bickering and such by having the holiday feast at MY house which seems to have been accorded the status of Neutral Territory.

After that, it was a great low-key weekend. I slept... A LOT! Catching up on missed sleep is such a good thing. I bummed around my house, hung out with some friends, and played video games. I'm almost done with Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow!

It turns out this holiday weekend gave me just what I needed. Rest and relaxation. It's an interesting twist for me. If things keep going like this, I might actually ENJOY this holiday season! I'm sure something will screw it up. Murphy's Law hasn't failed me yet!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My 25 Most Played...

This post is inspired by one I saw on a blog I follow, Musings of A Wannabe Star, where the author lists the 25 most played songs on her iTunes player. I took a look at my Top 25 tab and was kind of surprised at the list. Now, this is just on my work computer and doesn't contain my entire music collection, but still talk about reaching all over the place. Anyway, check this list out:

25) Skat Strut - MC Skat Cat & The Stray Mob
24) Snap Ya Fingers - Lil Jon (Feat Sean Paul & E40)
23) Tell Me How You Feel - Joy Enriquez
22) Shake Up The Party (Pound Boys Fiesta Radio Mix) - Joy Enriquez
21) What Do you Want - Joy Enriquez
20) All Jacked Up - Gretchen Wilson
19) Voodoo - Godsmack
18) Right Round - Flo Rida (Feat Kesha)
17) Paralyzer (Lenny B. Radio Mix, Atlantic City Beats Edit) - Finger Eleven
16) My Immortal (Rock Version) - Evanescence
15) Run Back To Your Side - Eric Clapton
14) Thank You - Dido
13) Insomnia (Haji & Emanuel Radio Mix, Atlantic City Beats Edit with Breakdown)
12) Renegade - Styx
11) Kiss From A Rose - Seal
10) Brand New Day - Ryan Star
09) U & Ur Hand - Pink
08) My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It) - En Vogue
07) Men In Black (Album Version) - Will Smith
06) Tango Maureen - Rent Cast
05) Telephone (Glee Cast Version) - Glee Cast
04) Ring My Bell (Mr. Lee's Radion Mix) - DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
03) Safety Dance (Glee Cast Version) - Glee Cast
02) Billionaire (Glee Cast Version) - Glee Cast

and my number one most played track is..... *cues drum roll*

01) Boogie Woogie Wu - Insane Clown Posse

I look at this list and it hits me just how varied my tastes are... I mean three of my top ten are from Glee for crying out loud!!! Who would have guessed that?? And I just recently got into ICP, I never thought I listened to that track so many times. Weird, right? Well, my dear readers, what's YOUR number 1??

Video Games Live - Oh, What A Night....

Last week, I went to one of the most amazing events I've ever experienced: Video Games Live. Some friends and co-workers told me that it was a great time and I was going to love it, but I had no idea how much fun it was going to be. I have to say that anyone who recommended VGL to me in the past was 100% correct!! I went with two friends of mine who had NO CLUE what they were in for. Both were video game fans, and both of them absolutely LOVED it. (They even took video clips which they STILL won't upload so I can see!!) So, it's not just me going off on some tangent. Normal every day folks love VGL just as much as I do. And the age range of the appeal was amazing, I saw people ranging in age from 3 to 83. One family brought their youngest in a Link costume from Legend of Zelda for the costume contest! (My guess: They were going for the Wind Waker Link.)  Of course, they won. Who's going to vote against a mini-Link?

For those of you who don't know what Video Games Live is, let me explain. At it's core, VGL is a concert. Yes, there is usually a bit of a "festival" in the hours leading up to the concert where people can play games and enter in contests, and stuff, but the point is the concert. Anyway, the producers of the show get local orchestras to play out the themes of popular video games, and display scenes from the games in accompaniment. But the show doesn't end there. They also add a live show on stage that interacts with both the scenes playing out on screen and with the music. It's a mind blowing experience to hear a full orchestra play out pieces of music that you've only come out of tv speakers coming from a video game console.

The best part is this concert isn't partisan to any specific console. VGL gave props to games all across the board like the Metal Gear Solid series (but no Snake Eaters, dammit!!), Sonic The Hedgehog, Chrono Trigger, Castlevania, Legend of Zelda, the God of War series, Resident Evil, Halo, Street Fighter 2, Final Fantasy, Super Mario, and others. They even went back to the real classics of video games: Frogger, Centipede, Asteroids, and Pac-Man all got their props.

The most surprising segment for me was for God of War. It was done so well, they started it with an intro from one of the producers of the game and then went into the intro for one of the games with that creepy old woman narrating the events of Kratos's current life. Then the orchestra came in and just swept me away in this grandiose wave of sound that was simply thrilling. In fact, I was so caught up in the music that I didn't notice a woman come on stage (despite the spotlight on her) until she started singing. That woman (by the name of Laura Intravia, look her up. Seriously, do it!) knocked me for a loop. I've never heard someone sing with that level of strength and power live. And it was for God of War! Stunning! Absolutely stunning!!!

Ms. Intravia did a couple of other bits where she showed off her flute playing talents with the themes of Legend of Zelda (and she looked SO HOTT in the Link costume! Never realized how sexy that outfit would be on a girl!) and Super Mario Bros. I did have one nitpick about the Super Mario Bros bit, though. While her flute skills were amazing, I didn't think they should have used a recording for the background music. They did have a full orchestra on stage with her... so why not USE IT? But that's just a minor detail.

My personal favorite segment was, without a doubt, Tron. Hearing an orchestra play the various themes from the game (and the movie, since the games borrowed heavily from the movie's score) literally gave me chills. So much so, that I had goosebumps all up and down my arms. It made me want to watch the new movie even MORE!! It was also amazing to see and hear the reaction the audience had to Tron. It was one of the biggest cheers of the night.

They also had a special guest, the inventor of the home video game console, Ralph Baer. This is the man that parents everywhere can blame for having to spend hundreds of dollars on video game systems every couple of years. It was cool to learn some of the early history of video games (like he invented his Brown Box System here in Nashua!!), it gave the perfect sense of scope. Especially when they set up a replica of Baer's original Brown Box and played the ORIGINAL pong. With the orchestra adding music to it for the first time! To go from that to the music of World of Warcraft really emphasized how far video games have come in the last 40 or so years.

If you ever get the chance to go to Video Games Live, you should. Even if you're not a video game fanatic (but really, who ISN'T these days?) you'll love the vibe and energy of the event. I wholeheartedly recommend it, and I'm a hermit-of-sorts!! You can see a bunch of clips of their various shows on YouTube, but they don't compare at all to being there live. I can't wait for them to come back around here, so I can go again! Seriously, do yourself a favor and check it out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Personal Message from Captain Jack...

For a long time, I swore off of Disney movies. Why? Because at the time, they had done multiple DVD releases of every movie they made except my personal favorite, Aladdin. Plus, the Disney movies had seemed to have lost their originality. They were just trite and emotionally flat. But one movie broke all that for me: Pirates of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl.

For one shining moment, Disney was able to recapture that magic they had when they weren't watered down blandness ready to be spoon-fed to the mindless masses. When they blended intelligence and genuine wit with grand adventure to make epic goodness. And the grand star of the show, the master of ceremonies was Jack Sparrow.. um.. CAPTAIN. Captain Jack Sparrow was the true heart of the movie.

Then in typical Hollywood fashion, they made a pair of sequels and the first thing they did was reduce the role of the person EVERYONE wanted to see. Consequently both of the sequels kinda sucked. Rumors started of a fourth Pirates movie, but people weren't too receptive until a key piece of news was released/leaked. The fourth movie would focus exclusively on Capt. Jack. The story with Elizabeth & William is done, but Capt. Jack is still floating around.

Now, it looks like the rumors are true. I found a link to a teaser trailer for Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. If the movie is half as good as this little personal message from Jack, it'll be like the first movie a rollicking good time!! Check it out and tell me what you think!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finally, After All This Time...

I've been in my apartment now, for a little over a month. And while it's still not quite up to what I envision, I thought it might be a good idea to give people a preview of my bachelor pad. If you click on the link below, you will be brought to my album of apartment pictures on FaceBook.

Apartment Pictures

They are arranged in a sort of tour-like fashion if you check them out in order. Otherwise, just click on which ever suits your fancy. Thanks to my little sister for playing photographer for me!

Once I get my place to the standards that I want, I'll take some more pics to really show off. This group of photos is more to give an idea of the layout of the place. As always, thoughts & comments are welcome.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Lost Opportunity Found Again...

Unless you vacuum seal your entire life, whenever you move you lose stuff. Knick knacks, papers, you know small stuff. In my move to Nashua, I noticed that some of my paperwork was gone. Including some tickets to an event I was really looking forward to for a couple of months: Video Games Live.

For those of you who don't know, VGL is basically a concert where a live orchestra plays the themes of a bunch of classic video games: Mario, Halo, Zelda, etc, while playing clips of the games on a screen above the orchestra. As I understand it, there's also a live stage show to go along with it.

A friend of mine went to the show in NJ and he said there were events before the concert. One audience member won a Guitar Hero contest before the show, and got a chance to play the Guitar Hero song live on stage with the orchestra!! Cool, huh? I'm going next week and I'm going to have a blast!! I found a video that give a glimpse of the show.

The show tours around the world. Check out their site VideoGamesLive.com to find when they're going to be in YOUR area!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flynn's Return Is Almost At Hand....

In about six weeks, the movie I've been waiting the whole year to see, Tron: Legacy, will be out in theaters. I've been staying away from news and stuff about it cause I don't want to spoil the movie for myself, but I am VERY excited to experience this film.

This film is the ONE film I will watch in 3D because this is the only film that actually has a legitimate reason for being in 3D: the story supports it. I just recently discovered that Daft Punk was tapped to do the music for the film, and I can't think of a better choice! I saw their DeRezzed video/movie clip and it was fantastic.

For those of you who don't know, the original Tron film was a landmark in the film industry due to it's massive use of computer animation. These days, anyone can CGI a film, but in the mid 80s to do almost an entire feature in CGI was thought to be impossible.  Check out one of the signature scenes from the first film, the LightCycle race:

By today's standards it's pretty tame, but 20 years ago that was cutting edge! And now, Disney Pictures is returning to the world of Tron and bringing with it all the massive advances in computer technology since the first one. Check out the LightCycle circa 2010:

Just for that jump alone it's worth watching the movie. Now, they have released the final trailer for the movie. And you get to see a little more of the world of Tron. Check it out and then join me on Dec 17th, 2010 in theaters to watch what will be an EPIC of DIGITAL proportions!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Battle Resumes...

I wrote a post awhile back about acquiring a PS3. It's been about a month since I've had it and I must say, I'm still LOVING it. I'm now up to 4 games:

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Prince Of Persia: Forgotten Sands

I've played all of them a little bit, but I'm focussing on Castlevania. Why? Because it's Castlevania. I'm a huge fan of the series. I've played a bunch of the games, though not all. And I've always enjoyed them. I was worried about LOS at first, but Konami did a good job with the game. Translation: I can't believe how freaking difficult this game is!!!

Now, I've been out of the video game scene for awhile, I grant you, but it shouldn't take 5 hours of battle to beat ONE boss. Who are they making these games for anyway?? People who have PS3s & XBoxes linked directly to their brains using neural jacks??  As you can probably surmise, I've beaten the first of the Lords of Shadow, a schmuck named Cornell who thought being the Lord of Lycans made him something special. But since it was such a massive battle (two game sessions, one for 2hrs and the other for 3hrs cause I had to restart the battle from the beginning), I took a break from playing. But, I'm going to start back up again tonight.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The First Of Many Holiday Gripes...

Any of my friends will tell you that I'm not the biggest fan of the Thanksgiving/Christmas season (known in the My Church has taken over your Mid-Winter Pagan rites collection nicknamed "The Holidays"). While I have a great deal of personal reasoning behind this, which I'll most likely get into later on in the season when the cheerful masses will REALLY get me pissed about The Holidays, I try to put on a neutral face and let the good cheer flow around me.

Still there is a limit. For example, I heard people listening to Christmas carols today. THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN. For crying out loud we haven't even had THANKSGIVING yet, people!! Give me a little time to build up my Scrooge Shielding before exposing me to all that good cheer.


I hope this is NOT an omen for the rest of this season... Damn, and I just remembered, my birthday is coming up too... The big 3-4.

*fake smiles* Happy Holidays, people... *end fake smile*