Q1 Book List

It's been a couple days since I've updated this blog. It's not that I'm busy, or I ran out of ideas to post. In fact, this week had been a breeze at work, and a couple of ideas popped in my noggin as well. The only reason for me not posting is laziness. All I've been doing in the past couple days was sleep, watch movies and, most importantly, read.

I've read as much as time allowed me this week. But despite the hundred pages I've consumed, I'm still not finished with 2666. The book is just too damn long (900 pages). I'm three-fourths done with the book, however. So, I think, I'll be done with it by next week. Wow, only a couple months in 2009 and I already have two 900-page book under my belt. That's quite an accomplishment for a busy person (busy with work and other hobbies) like me.

Anyways, with 2666 almost finished, I'll only have one more book (The Forever War) before I completely run out of reading materials. So, while I was doing my budget plan for February, I started looking for some interesting books to read. Here are the list of books that seems interesting to me:

  1. The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Kinds of Death - The story is about a former teacher who became a part of a crime scene clean up crew. I don't know if this has been done before but the book's description has a lot of grit and grime to it.
  2. The Next 100 Years - Here's an interesting book. Why? Because it forecasts the next 100 years using real data, not the Mayan Calendar or Nostradamus' The Prophecies.
  3. Daemon - Because as a computer gamer and a tech enthusiast (well, a little bit of it), I think, I should read this book.
  4. Columbine - My knowledge about what really happened in Columbine is next to nothing. That's why I'm getting this book, which is written by Dave Cullen, one of the leading journalist that covered the tragedy.
  5. Appetite for Self-Destruction - I love music but I don't like the corporate recording industry. So reading about their fall, due to small upstarts like Napster, should be a lot of fun.
  6. No Angel - I wanted to know the story of Jay Dobyns, an ATF undercover that infiltrated the Hell's Angels, ever since I saw his interview on CNN. So this book, with its real accounts on gang violence, is going to be chilling, yet interesting, read.
So these are the books that caught my eye. I won't be able to buy them though. Not until March, at least, because I'm still trying to recover from the damage that the Holidays inflicted on me. But I'll definitely try to read and finish all of these books by May.

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Comics Bundle: 01.21.09

As usual, I was weeks late of picking up my comics again. But I don't think I'll be able to go to the store every Wednesday, ever. But all the comics I've read this weekend were excellent. Unfortunately, I won't be able to write a review for all of them. So, like always, I'll just write a quick review for the notable ones. Also, I'll change the format of my "Comics Bundle" posts because I'm tired of looking for cover arts to put in here. Instead, I'll just take a picture of my bundle and add it here. It fits the title, and it's more personal.

Final Crisis #6
9.0 of 10
Like I said before, Final Crisis wasn't my favorite comic book event. It was, to me, under the shadow of Secret Invasion. But, as Secret Invasion quickly waned in quality of writing, the plot threads in Final Crisis started to come together and made a lot of sense. In this issue, the plot threads of Grant Morrison, that he started in issue #1 and Batman R.I.P., finally came together and all I can say about it is: Epic. Oh, yes, someone significant to the DC Universe died too. I won't tell but, since this issue came out weeks ago, you guys probably know it already.

Uncanny X-Men: Annual #2
8.7 of 10
The X-Men titles have become one of the worst comics Marvel has to offer. It's sad but true. Although, as a huge fan of the series, I'll still buy anything from the shelves with X-Men on it. That's the only reason why I picked up this annual issue. However, this issue turned out to be amazing. The story is centered on Emma Frost and her past dalliance with Namor, when she was still the White Queen, and that brought out a lot of suggestive sexual themes. To sum it up, this book, with its beautifully written dialogue, shows how complex Emma Frost is.

Deadpool #6
7.6 of 10
Back in issue 3 (if I'm not mistaken), Deadpool took something from The Skrulls. Something that Nick Fury had wanted but ended up on the hands of Norman Osborn. So this issue, I thought, because there's a big Dark Reign logo stamped on the cover, was going to about Deadpool running after Osborn for crossing him. But, no, this issue, in terms of plot, sucked. Even the villain here is C rated. It's a good thing that Deadpool is quite a character, and his slapstick humor is the only reason I liked this book.

Dark Avengers #1
8.7 of 10
For months, ever since I saw the cover of The Dark Avengers #1, I've wondered who are the Dark Avengers? Is Wolverine and Ms. Marvel really working with them? This book, answers all that. In most ways, the issue reminds me a lot of The Mighty Avengers #1, albeit it is a bit twisted and borrows the tone of the Thunderbolts. Here we see Norman Osborn shop for candidates to join his Avengers and, boy, I do love the members of this new team. While some of them are predicatble choices (like Venom and Bullseye) to fill the spot of former Avengers, some of them came to me as a shock. Yes, I think, I'm going to enjoy this new title very much.

Thunderbolts #128
9.3 of 10
When Marvel revealed what Dark Reign is about, I knew that Thunderbolts is going to get even better. After all, it is Osborn's own team. So with the old team disbanded (its old roster either on the run or transferred to the Avengers) Osborn started recruiting some new members. Although, as of this issue, only four of them were featured. But what really made this issue incredibly awesome (and what surprised me) is Obama's appreance. Yes, the 44th US President also made an appearance here, talked with Osborn, and even told him that he didn't like him having so much power.

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Wolverine and the X-Men Premiere

Wolverine and the X-Men premiered last night on Nick Toons. Although, I completely forgot about it (and even if I didn't, I had no way of watching the show because I don't have cable). Luckily, we have this thing called the internet, which allows people to digitize media and easily distribute it, so frugal workoholics like me (who are too busy with their work and too cheap to pay for cable) won't miss any episodes of their favorite TV shows.

I immediately searched for the first episode on the net and found it right away. But it seems that the show has been airing in Canada since September of last year. So instead of finding just one episode of the show, I ended up with the whole season. At first, I didn't want to download all the episodes. But, in the end, I capitulated to the temptation and watched all of season one, all afternoon long.

As for the show itself, it is highly entertaining. I enjoyed it even more than the X-Men: Evolutions. Mainly because of its dystopian-like setting, which reminds me a bit of the Days of the Future Past story arc, and partly because, even though it's a Wolverine-centric show, a lot of my favorite characters from the comics (Bishop, Psylocke and X-23) made an appearance. But the best appearance of all were by Wendigo (I love this guy...or big foot) and The Hulk, and all three of them (including Wolverine) got into a no holds barred, free for all melee.

All in all, I recommend watching this show. The stories are decently written and every episode is packed with action. The setting here is also a bit darker than X-Men: Evolution. But since its targeted audience are still kids, don't expect it to be one of those serious cartoons. So if you're looking for an in-depth adaptation of the X-Men comics into animation, or hoping that this is the successor of X-Men: The Animated Series, then look somewhere else.

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The Presidential Reading Lists

Last Tuesday was probably one of the busiest day at work. Why? Well, a lot of people called in sick so they could stay home and watch the Obama Inauguration, and those who were at work didn't do their jobs too well since they were busy following the inaugural on TV or on the net. I'm guilty for doing the same thing as well because I've been reading blog posts of all things about the historical inauguration.

Although I wasn't really following the details of the inauguration per se. I was merely following posts that really matters to me, about books and gaming, that celebrates Obama's inauguration. From Kotaku, rejoicing that there's a Wii in the White House, and recommending him the games that he should play, to IGN PC, also listing down the top 10 games that he should play. But my favorite post was Omnivoracious' Obama's Reading List, who then followed it with Bush's Reading List.

Great reading lists from both of them. However, I must admit, while I found Obama's list to be wholesome and shows how good a father he is (with Harry Potter and A Kind and Just Parent), I like Bush's list much better, because he reads a lot of history and supports her daughter's book (Ana's Story). Although, I didn't even know that Bush reads at all.

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Pork Stew ala NDS

I cooked dinner again using the Personal Trainer: Cooking for Nintendo DS. This time, I tried to follow a Chinese recipe for Fried Pork with Tomatoes. Originally, judging from the picture shown in the game, the meal should have a little thick sauce only. But, like with what I did when I made the Lemon Chicken, I also didn't follow the recipe to the letter. That's how I ended up with a very oily pork stew instead.

My heart attack pork stew.

However, this tastes way much better than the Lemon Chicken. My family loves it a lot. The flavor is so rich because I put in an extra cup of rice wine (Sake), and the pork is so tender as well. It's good thing I let the fried pork simmer in the stock for an hour instead of 15 minutes. Although, I got a little tipsy eating it. At first, I thought it was because of high cholesterol. But my sister, who's very healthy, got a little tipsy too. So it must've been the rice wine.

Now that's 2 recipes down, 243 more recipes to go. Maybe I'll just do 2 or 3 more recipes and then I can write a proper review for this game (or interactive cook book).

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First Impressions: Mirror's Edge

Today, I installed and dabbled with Mirror's Edge. After putting three hours into the game, all I can say about it is: HOLY HEAVEN and HELL! What a great game to open the year. Although, I admit, I was irked when I learned that the PC version of this game was going to be delayed for a month. But, now, I'm kinda glad that it came out later than the console versions.

Faith, my newest game heroine.

The game is truly exhilarating. It combines the elements of chase and platforming games, much like Prince of Persia and Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, where you need to be quick on both wit and feet. A lot of the scenarios in the game, mostly avoiding cops by running and jumping from building to building, had put my adrenaline turbines into overdrive. I swear my palms, keyboards and mouse were all sweaty after I exited the game.

Now, let my catch my breath so I can get back to this game.

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Trucks and Animals

A couple days ago, I posted something about January being a zero month. A month when nothing good comes out in music, movies, books or games. Well...I lied. Because I heard that the film Defiance is good, that the game Mirror's Edge (for Windows) is gripping, and that the new albums of Animal Collective and The Derek Trucks Band are quite an aural treat.

Being a slave to the critics and word of mouth, that I am, I made time to go out and bought all of these stuff (so much for resuscitating my financial assets). I didn't had the chance to see Defiance though. But I got the game, Mirror's Edge (which I'm trying to install right this moment), and the two very different albums, Merriweather Post Pavilion and Already Free.

Animal Collective

I think it was back in 2007 when I first heard of Animal Collective. A co-worker urged me to listen to them and lent me her copy of their album, Strawberry Jam. Honestly, I can't recall the sound of their music on that album. All I remember is that I wasn't too impressed with it, and for reasons unknown or forgotten. Maybe, during that time, my ears were just over saturated with Les Savy Fav's Let's Stay Friends that it can't accept new music anymore. But, man, their new album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, is just sick, in a good way. It's a great indie electro pop album where synths and vocals playfully balances each other, creating a joyous sound.

The Derek Trucks Band

While it took me some time, and a lot of A+ reviews, before I risked my money and bought Merriweather Post Pavilion, I never had any doubt when I bought Already Free, the new album of The Derek Trucks Band. I just whisked the album away from the shelves the moment I saw the thing because Derek Trucks is a given. The dude's a guitar god spawned in this decade. Once again, with Already Free, he's proven himself as an excellent and diverese guitarist. But it's not just Truck's stringcraft that made this album great. It's also the vocals of Kofi Burbridge and the guests that filled this album with a lot of blues, a lot of groove and a lot of soul.

Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective and Already Free by The Derek Trucks Band are both great albums. Initially, I really enjoyed listening to them both. It may take a couple more listens before I can write a lengthier review for both albums. Although, I don't really recommend Animal Collective just to anybody. Because it's the kind of pop that only sounds poppy but not really intended for popular crowds. But, nevertheless, I urge you guys to take a risk, you might end up liking it. As for Derek Trucks, I don't think any open-minded music lover, who's looking for easy chill songs, could dislike Already Free.

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E-Budget 2009

Unlike in 2007, where most of my money went to electronics, I didn't spend a lot on gadgets last year. The reason is that my "E-coffers" (a savings account, where 10% of my paycheck automatically goes into, for my indulgences) got drained for paying the Dell XPS -the gaming rig- that I got myself for my 28th birthday. But this year, now that the new PC is completely paid off, and my "E-coffers" almost replenished, I might be able to get a few tech toys to play with.

Here are some of the things that I want to get this year:

Portable Media Player

My Creative ZEN finally ran out of space. I already knew this was going to happen, it was inevitable. 30 GB of space isn't enough to hold huge music libraries with higher sound quality. So, after two years of servitude, I'm going to retire my ZEN and grab a new player. Initially, Archos 5 was my choice because of its huge space (250 GB). But it's bulky and pricey. So, instead, I'll go with Microsoft Zune. The largest disk space available is only 120 GB, however, but that will suffice me. Although it's the Zune Pass, a $15/month subscription that gives you access to unlimited mp3s, that got me into the Zune groove.

Smart Phone

Admittedly, I don't need a new phone. My sister does, however, because her phone went kaput about a month ago. But since she can't afford to buy a phone, I'll just buy a new one for myself and hand her down my old phone. Since I can't afford an iPhone, T-Mobile G1 is the first phone that comes to mind. My friend owns a G1, and I was able to tinker with it a couple weeks ago. I, instantly, fell in love with it. I never thought I would ever need (actually it's more like "want") a smart phone. But with G1's full web browsing capabilities, I can access maps, check movie schedules, or twit while on the go.

Desktop PC Speakers

Unfortunately, the PC that I bought didn't include any speakers. So I've been using a cheap Logitech headset, instead, when I play games or listen to music. The sound quality is, of course, abysmal. That's why my first buy this year is going to be a desktop speaker. I've decided to go with a Logitech Z-2300. It's a 200-watt, THX certified, 2.1 speaker system that looks really sleek. I was able to demo this baby over at Best Buy and I love its thundering sound. I'm sure it'll turn my PC into a more than decent audio machine. But what I really love about this speaker is that it only cost less than $100.

Guitar Effects

I haven't bought any guitar related doohickeys in these past few years since I stopped playing the guitar. But now that I'm back in the game, or trying to get back in the game, I'm slowly building a guitar rig that is fitting and decent enough for a bedroom guitarist like me. Guitar effects are the first thing that I'm going to get. At this point, however, I don't know what I'm getting. Except that I'm definitely going for a mono effects pedal. I always prefer mono effects over multi effects because they're cheap, durable, and full of character. My amp also delivers great effects. So, instead, I might just buy a foot switch for it.

Gaming Console

I've been thinking of getting a gaming console this year as well. But that depends on whether I get to attend the 2009 Comic-Con, in San Diego, or not. If I can't go, then I'll definitely get a gaming console. My console of choice is the Nintendo Wii. I chose it over the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 because I already have the PC as my main gaming rig, and so I don't need another platform that is intended for hardcore gamers. The Wii is also designed for everybody, even the ones who aren't into playing games, and it's great to have for entertaining visitors that can't frag players in Gears of War.

These are the tech toys that I have my sights on for this year. My budget for all these is $1000. Although I'll try not to hit that mark, and definitely won't go overboard. Also, since its too early, and nothing really interesting was shown in CES 2009, I'm holding some of these purchases until summer. Because they might announce a newer and better smart phone and/or mp3 player.

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Directions to Naboo

Where's Naboo?

I like the Star Wars franchise but I'm not really a hardcore fan. I'm not hardcore because I actually liked the prequel films (and not only because of Natalie Portman), I don't own a Jedi or a Storm Trooper costume, and I know nothing of its expanded universe beyond the Knights of the Old Republic game.

But, man, after looking at this newly released hi-res map of that Galaxy Far Far Away, I couldn't help but appreciate the expanded universe of Star Wars. What only started out as three space opera films, set on an unknown galaxy with a couple named planets, has now grown into this living monolith that is worshiped (or vilified) by many.

Oh, how I wish BioWare will make all these planets available as playable locations in their new MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

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Spider-Man Saves Obama!

The 2008 US Presidential election maybe a thing of the past and of history but the Obama fever hasn't died down yet. With his inauguration in just less than 10 days from now, there's an out pour of Obama-related news on every media. But what I found very interesting is that several of those news are about art regarding the President-Elect. From the Smithsonian acquiring a stencil and wheatpaste piece (by Sheperd Fairey), an artist from Georgia College getting recognition for his work, and to the pages and cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #583.

obama meets spidey

Yes, the President-Elect (who is a big Spidey fan) will appear on the pages and variant edition cover of the friendliest comic-book title in the neighborhood, Spider-Man. As the preview suggests, the issue will probably satirize all the smears that the other party gave Obama during the election campaign. As for the story, however, I don't know what's going to happen in this issue. But I don't think I'm the only one who wants to know. I guess I'd better get in my comic-book store as early as I can. Else I'd be trampled both by comic book fans and ardent supporters of our President-Elect.

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Upcoming Comics-to-Films That I Want To See

It's good to be a comic aficionado and a movie goer in these times. Why, you say? Well both are the cheapest sort of entertainment, and comics to film adaptation are plenty nowadays. 2008, especially, saw a rise of good comics to film. We saw great movies like Wanted, Hulk, Iron Man and, of course, The Dark Knight. But, the fun doesn't stop there. Besides sequels to Iron Man and The Dark Knight, there are many more comics to film that are coming out this year and the next. So, having said that, here's a few comics-to-film that I'm looking forward to see.

8. Fathom

I don't know anything about this comic-book. Except that, the story revolves around the race of people that lives underwater, its pages are rife with well-drawn bikini clad women that can make love starved comic geeks go nuts. Admittedly, I'm only interested in this film because I want to see Megan Fox, an aesthetically perfect choice to play Aspen Matthews, wet and wild in a skinny mini bikini.

7. Avengers

One of the biggest team in comics is finally coming to the big screen. At first, I actually thought that this was impossible to make without being campy. But after reading Mark Millar's (Wanted) The Ultimates, and saw what they did with Iron Man and Hulk, the idea of an Avengers film isn't too far-fetched anymore. In addition, Marvel is also smart enough to release films for each major characters, but still tying them altogether, before the big team up.

6. Thor

I wasn't a big fan of Thor before. But after reading an issue of Thor volume 3, by J.M. Straczynski and Oliver Copiel, I was blown away by the writing and the art, and Thor become one of my favorite comic-book characters. However, as much as I love the original version (Earth 616) of Thor, I wish that the film will be using the origin of Ultimate Thor instead. Film wise, Ultimate Thor is just much more dimensional and realistic.

5. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

A lot of people know that I'm a G.I. Joe geek. I've been a collector of toys and comics since my grade school days. So I've been waiting for this film since...forever. But, honestly, I can't look at the stills of this film, or even think about it, without reminding me of the campiness that Street Fighter hit me with. Well, at least, all the female characters look good, and they were decent enough to cast a real model (Karolina Kurkova) to play Cover Girl and a real fighter (Ray Park, a.k.a. Darth Maul) to play Snake Eyes.

4. Y: The Last Man

This is probably one of the best stories I've ever read in comics. That's why I'm so excited about the movie. The comic-book is about the only man who survived a mysterious plague that caused the death of all males. Men have this fantasy of being the only guy alive so they can have all the chicks. I used to have that fantasy too. But this series changed all that. If you wish that you're the only guy alive, then just think about those ugly girls running after your balls.

3. Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass may only be five issues young but, I'll bet you my four meager paychecks, this movie will, literally and figuratively, kick some ass. The book, written by Mark Millar, the guy who also wrote Wanted, is about a comic-book geek who decides to become a superhero. He has no superpowers, fighting skills, or gadgets to help him. He only has his ambition, a YouTube video that made him popular, and a MySpace account so people can reach him. This film is about comic book guys, made by comic guys, for comic book guys.

2. Runaways

This is the coolest and spunkiest comic-book title I've ever read. It's about a group of teenagers who ran away from their homes when they discovered that their parents are villains who plans to destroy the world. But why I'm really looking forward to see this film is because I want to know who'll play Nico Minoru. She's the leader of the team, a Japanese girl with an affinity to dark magic, and I have a nerd love for her.

1. Watchmen

I don't have to say anything about this film. Except, maybe, that it's the greatest graphic novel, written by one of the best comic-book writers, and now it's coming to the theaters. Read it, watch it, love it.

So these are the comics to film I'm looking forward to see. Some of them already have their release dates schedule but most are still in pre-production stage. So we might not see most of the films I listed in here.

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Playmate Elections

I normally don't like to vote because I don't like to choose. I never voted in American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or in any other stupid TV contests. In fact, if the Bush Regime didn't fuck America and the world so badly, I would've never voted for a new President either. Although, as an exemption and as a gentleman of the world, I do take part in choosing the next Playboy's Playmate of the Year.

Miss July, Laura Croft, and Miss October, Kelly Carrington.

Unlike the U.S. Presidential Elections, where you only need to pick one from two aging male candidates, you'll face a conundrum when voting for the next Playmate of the Year because you'll choose one from 12 stunningly sexy women. That's why I've reached an impasse and can't pick between Laura Croft (Miss July) and Kelly Carrington (Miss October). Usually, I always vote for brunettes. But Kelly Carrington has this killer smile that is hard to pass up.

So, now, I leave this decision to you guys and VOTE for either one of these two vixens. I would definitely love to see one of them become Playmate of the Year.

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Lemon Chicken ala NDS

I finally had the time to play with my Personal Trainer: Cooking, today, and made some Lemon Chicken. This is probably the most useful game (or maybe it's an interactive cook book) ever developed. While most games will give you a little sense of accomplishment when you score high, save the princess, or complete a unique set of armor. Personal Trainer: Cooking gives you real skill and real food.

The Nintendo DS, a portable gaming system that would fit right in the kitchen.

The end result: A sloppy Lemon Chicken on a pink plate.

I had a lot of fun using it, or playing with it? It's simple and very easy to use. Although, since I tend to cut a little corners, I made a mistake with some measurements when I prepared the lemon sauce and it came out a little too tangy. But that's okay since we finished eating the whole plate for dinner. Looks like there still hope for my cooking after all.

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Last Year's Leftovers

I like to call January as a zero month because nothing good ever comes out. Whether in music, movies, books and games, the releases are just bad. But that's okay because I have no money left anyways. So, instead, I'll just spend the whole month catching and finishing up with the leftovers -books, music and games- from last year, and resuscitate my financial assets by not buying new stuff.

This year, I've quite a handful of leftovers.

I still got three books to read. I've yet to read 2666: A Novel and The Forever War (the non-fiction, not the sci-fi novel), both late Christmas presents from my aunts in New York. The books are still sitting on top of my drawer, untouched. That's because I'm currently reading Anathem (or at least I'm trying to read it). Anathem is a very large and thick book, 900 pages and could kill a man if you slap him with it, by Neal Stephenson. So far, I've only read five chapters of it but I can tell that this is a great sci-fi novel, and probably the greatest this decade. Its writing and the story is just so impressive. If not for its heaviness, or intimidating thickness, I would've finished it by now.

I've got two games to finish as well. I'm trying to play Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia but I just suck at platform action games (I hate falling). I'm certain that I'm going to give up on this game soon. I need to try cooking with my Personal Trainer: Cooking as well. I actually got all the ingredients for a Lemon Chicken. I just need to find the time to cook. Besides from these two, I also need to play Fallout 3, Storm of Zehir and The World Ends With You again, inch by inch, and write a couple guides for these games. Particulary a character guide for Fallout 3 and Storm of Zehir.

"Things Don't Look Good" by Genghis Tron

As for the music, I just finished listening to two kick-ass metal albums: The Ruiner by Made out of Babies and Board Up The House by Genghis Tron. 2008 gave me two rock bands with female vocals, one's Paramore and the other's Made Out of Babies. Paramore is...okay, I don't hate them. But, to me, as a big fan of post-metal, they just can't hold a candle to Made Out of Babies. Although the most brutally heavy album I've heard from last year is probably by Genghis Tron. Board Up The House will relentlessly beat your head with a hammer.

Well those are my leftovers. Hopefully, they'll keep me occupied while I wait for the next best thing and let my wallet grow fat. Now I'd better get back to them. More reading and playing, less writing.

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My 9 Most Anticipated Games for 2009

Last year, PC gaming wasn't so good. Well, not to me anyways even though I've played some good titles like Sins of a Solar Empire and Fallout 3. What irked me was the lack of exclusive PC games. I don't want to be greedy or anything but console gamers don't share their games to us. So why can't we do the same?

Anyways, that was yesterday and I don't want to mull over it because 2009 is the year of real-time strategy, and this is the only genre that console gamers can't play (or can't play well yet). So here are my few choice games for this year:

9. Mirror's Edge

One thing about being a PC gamer is that you're not important. So while console gamers got Mirror's Edge last Christmas, I have to wait until this month to play this adrenaline pumping, vertigo inducing and platform jumping game. This game, I think, is much similar to Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth where all you do is run from your enemies while thinking quickly on which way to go next. That was a fun game but Mirror's Edge pushes it to the next level with its kick-ass graphics and dystopian setting.

8. Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor

I'm not much into real-time strategy (except for Total War). Mainly, and honestly, because I get bored building bases and mining resources. But Company of Heroes, as well as Dawn of War, changed all that. I just fell in love with its fast and action-packed combat, and its interactive environments which gives the game a lot of tactical depth. I'm not really expecting much from this game, however, except that I'm thrilled and eager to play another of its campaign.

7. Demigod

This game is a combination of real-time strategy, tower defense, and elements of action RPG, much like Warcraft III: Defense of the Ancients. But this game will push and break the barrier even more than DotA did. If you're not convinced yet, just know that Chris Taylor (developer of great RTS such as Total Annhilation and Supreme Commander) of Gas Powered Games and Stardock (developer of Sins of a Solar Empire) are handling the reigns of this game.

6. Empire: Total War

The Total War franchise have always been one of my favorite real-time strategy game. From Shogun to Medieval, all games in this series have unprecedented tactical and strategical depth compared to other games of similar ilk. I must admit, however, that I always found Total War's learning curve to be quite hard, and mastering it is near impossible for me. But with Empire's naval battles, I think losing sleep to learn how to play this game will be worth it.

5. Disciples III: Renaissance

I prefer turn-based combat over real-time, and Disciples have always been my preferred turn-based strategy game. What I like about this game is its simplicity. Recruit a hero, give him two or three units (depending on how many he can lead), and let him loose to expand your kingdom. So I'm glad that in Disciples III not much have changed. Although there are only three races to choose from this time, and the graphics is much more stunning.

4. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

I don't know what I can say about this game except that I love this game for the reasons I love Company of Heroes (see above). Although I'm looking forward to see this game's new feature, such as Hero leveling, play its non-linear missions -similar to Total War and Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth- and the Games for Windows Live support.

3. Deus Ex 3

Deus Ex is one of my favorite games of all time. It's a FPS/RPG hybrid with an excellent storyline, cyberpunk theme and a gameplay where one problem can be solved in multiple ways, whether the use of stealth, guile or direct force. So you can't imagine how excited I am to get my hands on this game. Although, as of now, there's not much info about it. Except that its story is set before the first game, where Mechs are still the shit and Nano Augs don't exist yet. Nonetheless, I expect nothing less from Eidos on this one.

2. Alpha Protocol

I love role-playing games. But, unfortunately, most games that are out now have themes of medieval fantasy or science fiction. While I don't have much problems with that I just wish a little bit of change. That's why I'm excited about Obsidian Entertainment's Alpha Protocol. Its contemporary setting, espionage theme and high C4 combat, similar to Mass Effect, is something I really look forward to this year.

1. Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age: Origins is a role-playing game developed by BioWare. A spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate, as they claim it, the game features pause and play tactical combat, sterling storyline, copious amount of cinematic dialog, and dialog options that can affect the game world. I actually thought that this role-playing game was on its way to being a vaporware when BioWare stopped feeding us news and updates about it. But, after 5 long years of waiting, Dragon Age: Origins is finally going to be released this spring. Now all I have to do is bite my nails until that day.

These are the nine games that I'm looking forward this year. I think most of the games here will be released early (Demigod, Alpha Protocol and Dragon Age will be released this Q1). So that means it'll be a bit easier on the wallet. I can't guarantee if these games will live up to their hype though. But I'm hoping they will.

Happy New Gaming Year!

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