The Playlist #11

It was a painful week due to migraines. But, at least, I was able to use my sick time, which has already accumulated to 20 days! Anyways, my playlist for this week.

"5" by Ultraspank

I was playing an X-Games video game for the PSone when this song came up, being part of the game's soundtrack. That was 10 years ago and I almost forgot about it. But when I saw Shaun White executed his "Double McTwist 1260" moves at the Winter Olympics, I swear that this song was playing at the back of my head. It was glorious.

"No One's Gonna Love You" by Band of Horses

I own Cease to Begin, Band of Horses' sophomore album, for more than two years now. But I never bothered to digitize it, even for my first mp3 player. I don't like it that much. But when I heard this song on Chuck, specifically in the "Chuck versus. the Nemesis" episode, where Sarah was torn choosing between Bryce and Chuck (fucking cliffhanger), I turned my basement upside down looking for this CD, and ripped in to my iPod right after I found it.

'Wolf Like Me" by TV on the Radio

I saw the movie Rachel Getting Married last Tuesday. I've seen this movie before but I didn't realize that the guy who played Sidney, Rachel's fiancee, is actually Tunde Adebimpe, who's also the vocalist of this excellent band TV on the Radio.

"My Grain" by Corrosion of Conformity

I had a really bad migraine attack last Wednesday night, and it actually spanned for three days. If I rate all my migraines, that last one would be on the top 5. Anyways, this song isn't about migraines, I think. I just chose it because its title sound pretty close. Plus, any song by Corrosion of Conformity kicks ass.

"Promises" by Fugazi

I was in a record store earlier (yes, I know, I got out from my den and went to a place with a lot of people called the mall) and I heard two guys, probably around my age, trashing emo. One of them said that emo "is a shitty new music". I know a lot of people think it's a new music. But emo has been around since the mid-80's. It started with a band called Rites of Spring. Their album was produced by Ian McKaye of Fugazi, which is a really kick-ass post-hardcore band.

"Siberian Kiss" by Glassjaw

Since we're on the topic of emo, I have to admit that I also listen to this music. Albeit it was the earlier inception of the genre, the precursor, the pre-mainstream emo. It was emo as emo can be, like crying about break-ups and killing girlfriends, except they were more heavier and aggressive. They were also labeled as Screamo (due to excessive screaming). Glassjaw is one of those bands that I really love. I still do, and I want them to release their 3rd album already.

"Understanding in a Car Crash" by Thursday

This is also one of my favorite screamo bands back then. They're still around, however, but I don't know anything about their music after their sophomore album.

That's it for this week. Enjoy.

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Of Migraines and Civilizations

I haven't accessed the net for a couple days now, and not because I've been sacrificing my PC usage for lent. I had migraines, terrible ones, for three straight days. So I have to keep myself in the dark, literally. No lights, no TV, no computer. It's a good thing I was still able to listen to music and play with my guitar, since my migraine didn't come with sound sensitivity.

But, anyways, the first thing I did when the headaches abated -after I took a bottle or so of Excedrin tablets- was check for some gaming news. Then lo and behold, Sid Meiers and his wonderful team of game developers at Firaxis finally announced Civilization V, the fifth installment of one of my most favorite games. Go drool over the video.

I was kind of expecting this though. I mean, it's been five years since Civilization IV was released. Still, this announcement -even though I got it late- overjoyed me. It overjoyed me so much that I have to take deep breaths and calm myself because the excitement made the blood rush through my head, and it was so painful it made me gag.

Nothing extensive has been released in regards to its gameplay, however. But from what I read on IGN, this line interested me the most:
"Diplomacy is handled full screen now, with full leader animations and appropriate languages."
This is just wishful thinking on my part but, I think, Civilization V's diplomacy might have some RPG elements? Because that would be awesome. It would be really cool if you can parlay with your enemy before you go to battle and, if your player character has the skill, you can perform some dialogue checks (like intimidate or persuade) to make your enemies surrender or at least lower the morale of their troops.

But, with RPG elements or not, this is going to be a great game. I'm definitely going to lose a lot of sleep playing with this game, and probably get more migraine attacks as a result.

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Guns, Devils and Headphones

Hellboy, listening to Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast".

After a month of searching for the perfect and affordable set of new cans, I've finally decided to get the Audio Technica ATH-30. I just received them today and my initial impression is great. But I have to spend more time with it and do a couple of comparisons before I write a proper review. So, if you're interested, keep an eye for my review in a couple of days.

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The I in iPod Touch

It's been months since I bought my iPod Touch. But I haven't posted anything to show if off in this blog. The reason being is that I haven't tinkered with it, save for loading it with music and listening to it. It wasn't until the last month that I realized the gadget's capabilities, that it is more than just a music player, that it caters to all my entertainment needs, whether as a music lover, a gamer, or a comic book aficionado.


My iPod Touch, sitting triumphantly on top of my ZEN Vision and Nintendo DS.

The main reason I bought the iPod Touch was because it plays music. Sure, I could've gone with another brand. In fact, I was gunning for an Archos 5, which is $100 cheaper than the Touch and has an HD space that is 4 times bigger. But it is too cumbersome to carry around. The Touch, however has a sleek and thin design. I can just shove it inside my pocket without bulging. The HD capacity of my Touch is only 64 GB though. But it's sufficient enough to hold all of my mp3s. Right now, I have 4500 songs, in bit rates of 256-320 kbps, on my device and it's taking up 40 GB of my hard drive. Combine that with its 30 hour battery life, I could take and listen to all my music anywhere for long periods of time.


Plants vs. Zombies, invading the iPhone/iPod Touch.

Another reason that I bought the iPod Touch was because of its apps, mainly the games. I didn't really expect to find good games, however. I just thought it would be nice to be able to play some games, even casual ones, and listen to music without having to take both my Nintendo DS and mp3 player with me. But I did find some really good gaming apps for my Touch, and I could see that gaming has a future in this platform. Zenonia, for example, is a fun RPG that reminds me a lot of SNES games. Then there's the iPhone/iPod Touch version of my favorite defense game, Plants vs. Zombies. But the best thing about these games is that they don't cost a lot at all.


Spider-Woman, the motion comics.

Even though I went fully digital with my games and music last year, I still plan on staying the hard copy route with my comics and books. However, there are some comics that I really want to read but are just too expensive for me to buy. That's where digital comics come in. They're cheap and don't need any maintenance. Apps such as comiXology has provided me with titles from publishers like Devil's Due and Image for only $1. Then there's also the motion comics, a cross between a comic book and animation. I just recently purchased the Spider-Woman motion comics, and I'm very pleased with it. The voice acting is great and it's only $9 for 5 episodes, which is $6 cheaper than the paper version.

I know a lot of people think I'm an Apple hater. I'm not (but I do have something against nosy Apple fanboys). I just don't feel their products are that special. But the 64 GB iPod Touch is different. It has the capacity to store all my music, it has games that I want to play and it even provides me with cheap comic books. I just feel that this device was made for me. Now, if only Jobs and his crew could focus more on gaming and then release a 64 GB iPhone. That would be great.

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The Playlist #10

It's been a while since I posted playlist in here. I kinda broke my promise there, of making a playlist every Sunday. But, anyways, since I have nothing better to do, here's what I'm listening to in the past couple of days. I apologize for the short comments but my fingers hurt for playing too much Dragon Age.

"New Noise" by Refused

One of the best punk bands ever. Their album The Shape of Punk to Come is a personal favorite of mine, and I just dug it up from my boxes of CDs yesterday.

"No Epiphany" by Fucked Up

Speaking of Refused, here's another awesome punk band. Fucked Up blew me away with their 2008 album, The Chemistry of Common Life, which was probably influenced by The Shape of Punk to Come.

"All I Know" by Karnivool

I found out about this band a couple weeks ago. They're a nice prog-rock band with a nice Tool-ish sound and some nu-metal influence.

"H." by Tool

Speaking of Tool, here's a song from them. I don't think I can live in a world without their music. Hopefully, the rumors that they're working on a new album are true.

"When I'm Small" by Phantogram

A friend told me about this electronica dance rock band, of how good they are, when she saw them open for Yeasayer. I didn't know what she was talking about back then. But I agree with her now after I listened to their debut album, Eyelid Movies.

"ONE" by Yeasayer

Speaking of Yeasayer, here's a song from them too. Their new album, Odd Blood, is excellent.

"Don't Make Me Your Target" by Spoon

I've also been enjoying Spoon's latest album, Transference. But the reason I chose to feature one of their old song is because it's the theme song of Chuck. I just finished watching the entire season 1 this weekend and I'm in love with Yvonne Strahovski.

Well, that's my playlist for this week. You guys enjoy it.

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On Dragon Age: Tips & Mods

So I just finished my second playthrough of Dragon Age this morning. I completed all the available quests this time, which took me more than a total of 50 gaming hours.

I played as a Rogue City Elf with the Duelist specialization and a really high Dexterity. She deals a decent amount of damage, wielding two daggers, and she has a really high defense. Though a lot of people in the BioWare forums said, if you want to deal huge amounts of damage, an Assassin specialization with high cunning is the way to go.

For my companions, I took Shale, Wynne and Oghren with me most of the time. If possible, bring Shale along with you. The golem's tough, I mean it's made of rock, making it the perfect tank. Take Wynne because she's one of the two mages in the group. Plus, she's a good healer and less whiny than Morrigan. Oghren, I just took him because he's funny, and Steve Blum (Oghren's voice) is one of my favorite voice actors.

As for the mods, I suggest you go use the No Follower Auto Level. It is a great mod that prevents your follower to auto level when they first join you, giving you more control of them. With this, I was able to turn Oghren from a two-hander to a dual-wielder. There are other mods I use as well but only for aesthetic purposes like more hair and face options.

Dragon Age: Awakening is still a month away, and I think I got one more game in me. After all, I didn't like my ending with my second playthrough, she became the Bann of the Elven Alienage. I heard that you can marry Anora and become king instead of Alistair. I don't know how, but I think I'm gonna work on that one.

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A Night with Antje

After working for 5 days straight, 12 hours each day, I'm really glad that I'm off for the next couple of days. I deserve it and I will spend, or waste, those days as I please. Yesterday was day one, and I tried to learn how to use the Dragon Age: Origins toolset. But my effort is fruitless. The toolset is way too complicated for me. Day two is a bit more productive. I spent four hours on the stationary bike while watching the first season of Chuck. Then at night, I watched a flick entitled Pandorum.

is a sci-fi thriller that stars Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. I know this movie didn't really get any good reception. But I liked it. It's the best sci-fi thriller I've seen since Sunshine. It has a lot of twists and turns. Then there's mutants too, as well as paranoia. Lots of paranoia. But what I really loved about the movie is Antje (pictured above). The German actress is really looking lovely, even though she's got a messy hair and was covered in dirt and blood the entire film.

I wanted to see more of her. So I tried "Netflix'ing" her movies but she has none. Although she have an upcoming movie with Emmanuelle Chiriqui, entitled Georgia. I'm not sure if it's going to be good but, with her on it, it's gonna be worth watching.

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Mass Effect and BioShock Toys

A couple months ago, I thought of moving to New York and bunk with my cousins. But I soon discarded the idea because I have such a comfortable life here in Chicago. Then all the geeky blogs that I visit on a daily basis covered the Toy Fair 2010 in New York. Suddenly, I found myself wishing that I reside in the Big Apple, just so I could witness the event.

Ah, well. I guess I'll have to start looking for some nuke med jobs up there, then. So I can live there, do what I love the most -which is shooting radioactive stuff inside the hearts and guts of people- and enjoying geeky events such as Toy Fair and NYCC. Right now, however, I'll just droll over the new line of toys. Especially the Mass Effect and BioShock action figures.

Mass Effect 2 figures, wave 1. Tali looks cool.

I need me one of them Big Daddies.

Man, these toys are cool. I especially want Tali and Sheperd. Hopefully, wave 2 will also include Garrus, Miranda and a female Shepard figure. As for the BioShock, I'll only get the Big Daddy with the drill arm, the one that is featured on the box art.

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Dating Pixelated Girls

It's Valentine's Day...again. This will be my 5th year to be without a date ever since Guatemalan-Italian and I separated ways when she left to live in Tennessee back in 2005. I suppose, in the span of 5 years, I could've found myself a nice girl already. But no, I got too busy with school, work, and hobby. Gaming, especially, took most of my spare time in the past years. So, every Valentine's, instead of dining and wining fine-looking women, I retreat into the solitude of my room and date pixelated girls of gaming.

I know, I may seem weird (because I am weird). But, while they're not as good as real girls, female video game characters have some advantages. For example, I like them because they're more animated and I can fully control them -not the other way around. They're also low maintenance and cheap (some you can even download for free. Illegally, of course).

During my gaming years -including my arcade years during the 90's- I've met many fine pixelated girls, and controlled them to do my whim. But alas, I can't make a really long list to accommodate them all. So, I have to cut it short and only list 10 of them. Anyways, here's my list:

My Top 10 Female Video Game Characters

10. Cammy (Street Fighter)

I had a hard time playing Street Fighter back then. I'd always get beaten up by my friends, and even by my friend's 5 year old brother. But their bullying stopped when I got my 'beat 'em up groove' when I started using Cammy.

Why I like her? She has strong, long legs that goes up to her neck.

9. Carla Valenti (Indigo Prophecy)

I bought Indigo Prophecy because I heard it was a good game, and its story was praised by a lot of adventure gamers. But I was surprised that the main characters, Lucas and Carla, had a sex scene. Of course, the censored they North American version, which disappointed me to no end.

Why I like her? Hardworking and, like me, a completionist. Daring enough to pose for Playboy.

8. Morrigan Aensland (Darkstalkers)

Darkstalkers was my favorite beat em up game during the mid 90's, and part of it was because of the sexy Morrigan. She may be a cute looking devil, but she's a devil nonetheless. I kick-ass with her too.

Why I like her? She's a succubus, a demon lover. What more could you ask for?

7. Faith (Mirror's Edge)

Honestly, I haven't finished playing Mirror's Edge. I'm just scared of heights, even in video games. But the intensity of the vertigo I get from heights is nothing compared when I see Faith's face. She rocks my world.

Why I like her? She's got nice tattoos. Great agility and endurance.

6. Alyx Vance (Half-Life 2)

Honestly, Alyx isn't the prettiest female video game character I've seen. I'm sure those chicks from Dead or Alive or Soul Caliber are way more hotter than her. But what she lacks in the T&A department, she makes it up with her brains and caring personality.

Why I like here? She's smart. Knows a lot about technology.

5. Cate Archer (Nobody Lives Forever)

I only bought Nobody Lives Forever because it was a bargain ($2). Little did I know that the main protagonist, Cate Archer, is going to become one of my favorite video game characters of all time. I even like her more than Gordon Freeman (who's probably a mute).

Why I like her? She's classy, she's sassy, she's groovy. The female counterpart of James Bond.

4. Tifa Lockheart (Final Fantasy VII)

As a kid who grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons, I don't play a lot of Japanese-made RPGs (because they're not RPGs). But Final Fantasy games, I'd replay them over and over just to see the cute girls. Amongst them all, however, Tifa is probably the best.

Why I like her? She's cute and chesty. Looks good on a tank top.

3. Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect 2)

Miranda's probably the prettiest video game character. Of course, her face (as well as her voice) belongs to actress Yvonne Strahovski, the sexy spy chick from Chuck. Next to Carla Valenti, she also delivered the steamiest sex scene in a game.

Why I like her? She's genetically engineered to be perfect. She's got assets...great ass sets.

2. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

I haven't played a lot of Tomb Raider games. But it would be sacrilegious if don't include Lara in this list. After all, she's the first video game vixen. The first female character who had 3Ds (DDD).

Why I like her? She's rich and adventurous. Has nice guns and great air bags.

1. Morrigan (Dragon Age: Origins)

Morrigan grew up in the forest with no companions except for her mother, making her a sex-starved loner. You can always go to her tent and have sex with her, no strings attached such as love or commitment. She's the perfect girl.

Why I like her? She's willing to bear you a child and will even take full responsibility of raising the kid alone. How great is that!

Well, that's it for my Valentine's Day post, my top female video game characters. Although, as much as I enjoy writing this, I do hope to find a real date next year. I'm getting old after all.

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Blood and Vampires

I haven't featured any new bands or new albums in this blog for sometime now. Since today's Sunday -and a Super Bowl Sunday, might I add- I feel really lazy compiling a long playlist. Instead, I'll just double feature two bands that I'm currently listening to: Surfer Blood and Vampire Weekend. Coincidentally enough, both bands' music are riddled with Afro beats.

Surfer Blood


I discovered this Florida band when I read a review and heard their debut single,"Swim", over at Pitchfork. I was intrigued so I bought their debut album, Astro Coast, during its release a couple weeks ago and ended up liking it a lot. Their sound is so chunky and fun, using a lot of sounds from genres like Afro pop, Brit pop and surf.

Vampire Weekend


I wasn't a big fan of Vampire Weekend's debut album. Don't get me wrong though, I didn't hate it. But as a guy who grew up listening to metal, that album was just too clean and too "feel good" for me. Their sophomore album, Contra, is no different. But this time, however, their afro beat influences is much more pronounced, giving more texture to their music.

Well that's it for my double feature this month. I hope you guys will enjoy this.

I also found out that my other double feature posts have broken music streams. I was using imeem before I started hosting my own stuff. But now imeem is gone, they got bought my MySpace. So all my uploaded music are no longer available. I'm going to fix it when I get the chance.

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Comics Review: Demo vol.2 #1

Demo Vol.2 #1
8.0 of 10
Writer: Brian Wood
Penciler: Becky Cloonan

I've never really read a lot of books written by Brian Wood. Except for DMZ, of course, which has a unique setting and a great war/political theme, making it one of my favorite comic books. I've also read the first issue of Demo vol.1, which is free for download at Vertigo's website. It's a cool book with a different take on super humans. Since it made an impression on me, I decided to give volume 2 a shot.

Demo is about people with powers but not about superheroes. No, there's no villain in the book or any "save the world" plot. The characters in the comics are just regular Johns and Janes that are trying to live a normal life, keeping their powers a secret from the public. Vol.2 #1 tells the story of Joan. She hasn't slept in weeks due to recurring nightmare, a woman falling over and dying inside a cathedral in London, which she believes to be a precognition. At a whim, she drops everything in her life -her boyfriend, her job- and books a flight to London to prove if it's true or not.

The story is great. It's not really about superpowers. It's about personal conflict, about dealing with what's to come. Kinda like me, sometimes, being a pessimist, thinking that I failed in my Chemistry class. In the end, I have to go online and check my grades to put an end to it.

But great might this book be. I think I'm still going to skip it. I've got enough comics on my pull list already and I don't see any titles worth dropping over Demo.

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Return to Dragon Age

I just finished playing Mass Effect 2 today. I have to say that it's the best damn game I've played since Deus Ex. But before my FTL drives can cool off for another playthrough, I found out that the Dragon Age: Origins expansion, Awakening, is already coming out next month. I thought this game wasn't due until this Summer. Oh well.

Since my hero on my last game died, I went back in time, to the age of dragons, and create another hero in preparation for this expansion. Now I feel like BioWare just demoted me from a space faring marine to a mute rogue who doesn't even own a horse. She's cute, at least, and not so full of herself, unlike Sheperd.

In order to spice things up in this Dragon Age: Origins playthrough, I also bought the latest DLC, Return to Ostagar. The DLC costs $5 and it's available over at the EA online store. I haven't played it yet so I don't know if it's good or not. All I know is that your party will -well- return to Ostagar and retrieve Cailan's armor. But since I got a fraud alert call from my bank, 30 minutes after I purchased the DLC, I think Return to Ostagar might suck. Hmmm, even my bank thinks buying from EA is a fraud.

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A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I was a bit disappointed with some of the changes in Mass Effect 2. One of those changes was the removal of the Barrier skill from my beloved Vanguard's skill set. Barrier and shotgun were my bread and butter in the first Mass Effect. I'd just activate Barrier and wipe everything that moves in the room with my shotgun.

But after 20 hours of playing Mass Effect 2. I'd say you can keep your Barrier, I'll take the Charge skill instead. It's a lot more fun to use. To prove my point, here's a video of me charging and wiping a room full of mercs and mechs with my fists and shotgun.

It's just so awesome coming out from the charge animation. You can see your enemy flying in the air, and everything is in slow motion so you can have cheap shot on them with your fists or shotgun. I have to say that Mass Effect 2 got the best and most satisfying combat there is in gaming right now.

Anyways, that's enough blogging for now. I'm on hiatus until I finish this game...twice.

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