1.28.2010

No Rain

I finally got paid after a week of delay. The first thing I did was rush to Amazon MP3 and iTunes and spend a tiny fraction of that well-earned money on some new music. But then Amazon got crafty and strategically placed a "$5 mp3 albums" ad on their homepage. That, of course, compelled me to browse the page and found Blind Melon's 1992 debut album.


It's a great album, and one that I actually don't have. So I bought it because, even though it's not on my budget, it's only $5. I just can't pass that up. Now I'm enjoying myself listening to "No Rain", which is one of my favorite songs in high school. It's still a great song and I still like it. It speaks a lot about my life now. About loneliness, escapism, and the hopes of finding love.

I especially love this line:

And all I can do is read a book to stay awake
And it rips my life away, but it's a great escape
"No Rain" by Blind Melon








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1.27.2010

Boarding the Normandy

I'm not even near the end of my second playthrough with Dragon Age: Origins but BioWare, eager to start this decade and year, has already released another game. That game, of course, is Mass Effect 2, the highly-anticipated sequel to the 2007 RPG of space operatic proportions. So, in celebration, I took a two-day off from work to spend some quality time with this game.

The Blood Dragon armor, a Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age crossover.

I pre-ordered Mass Effect 2 from Steam weeks ago. I got the digital deluxe edition which costs $10 more but it's worth it. The package includes in-game items, points for purchasing downloadble contents, an artbook, "The Making Of" videos and the Mass Effect: Redemption #1 comic book by Dark Horse Comics. But I didn't have the chance to play the game until earlier today. I was trying to finish the first Mass Effect last night so I could get an endgame save file to import to the new game.

I almost skipped playing the first game though. Because I was so eager to play the new one. But I'm glad I finished it since importing your character from the first game to the second had some benefits, such as extra credits, minerals and experience points. Your decisions from the first game also plays out in the story here, like if Wrex, Kaiden, Ashley or the Council had survived.

As for the meat of the game, I'm not that deep into it yet. But the intro is probably the best prologue I've ever seen in a game. They also made a lot of changes in here, and it actually feels more like an action game rather than a role-playing game. It's fine by me though. Because -with its cyberpunk-ish setting, at least in the Omega station- it actually reminds me of Deus Ex, which is a great FPS/RPG. The story seems to be darker too and is more mysterious than the last game.

Commander Shepard, taking cover.

Overall, I think Mass Effect 2 is going to be an epic game. Even more than its predecessor. While I'm a bit disappointed with some changes, I can still ride it out and I'm still going to lose some sleep over it. But enough talk. It's time for me to board the Normandy and kick some Batarian ass.

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1.26.2010

Free

The best things in life are free. Or some of them, at least. Like Joe the Barbarian #1 and Vampire Weekend's new album, Contra.

You can download the first issue of Joe the Barbarian over at Vertigo Comic's website. Head down here.

Vampire Weekend is generous enough to make their entire album, Contra, available for streaming. Go ahead and listen to it here. It' really good.

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1.24.2010

The Playlist #9

I feel really lazy today. But I'm obliged to share what music I know in this blog, at least every Sunday. So here's another round of my playlist for you guys to listen to. Most of the songs featured here are from artists who have new material coming out this year, and I'm looking forward to hear them.

Anyways, enjoy.

"Fast Blood" by Frightened Rabbit







Frightened Rabbit's Midnight Organ Fight is a great album, full of songs about relationships, and failed relationships, that will make you laugh and cry. It's heartwarming and real. It didn't make it on my top list though. So I hope that their new album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, will make it this year.

"Keep the Car Running" by Arcade Fire







Arcade Fire will be releasing a new album this year. But I doubt it will top Neon Bible, which is a great thematic album. It just touches all the topic I'm concerned about. Like government crackdown on innocent civilians, people using religion to gain money or power, and wage slavery. Although, I'm still excited to her their new stuff.

"Don't You Evah" by Spoon







Spoon, which is a fun indie band to listen to, just released a new album last Tuesday. I want to buy it, since I really liked Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga a lot, but I can't because I'm still waiting for my paycheck.

"A-Punk" by Vampire Weekend







Vampire Weekend released their sophomore album, Contra, earlier this month. I didn't like them at first but, after listening to their debut album a hundred times (because of a lady friend), their intelligent, afro-pop sound kinda grew on me. Like Spoon's album, however, I'm still waiting to be paid before I can buy and enjoy their new album.

"Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" by She & Him







I just found out today that She & Him will release Volume Two, their sophomore album, this year. I'm not really a big fan of their music, however. It's not bad, objectively speaking. I just can't dig it. But I have this insatiable urge to hear, see, procure everything that features She, the vocalist of the duo. She being Zooey Deschanel, that bright-eyed girl who played Summer in (500) Days of Summer or Jovi in Elf.

"Change (In the House of Flies)" by Deftones







One of my favorite bands, Deftones. It's been four years since they released their last album. Plus, they also canceled the release of Eros -supposedly their sixth studio album- last year due to their bassist, Chi Cheng, being on coma. So I'm really anxious to hear some new material from them, to see whether they still have a creative spark or they lamed out. Either way, it's gonna be good because it's from Deftones.

"Black Bubblegum" by The Dillinger Escape Plan







These guys always blow me every time they release an album. They always have something new and different, kinda like Radiohead. That's probably why they're already dubbed as the "Radiohead of Metalcore" by some critics. So I'm excited to see what they're going to bring this time. Espeically now that they've gone indie and they have a new drummer.

And that's that. Until next time.

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1.23.2010

Barbaric Orcs

I picked up my comics yesterday, expecting a ton of books to read. But I was surprised to find my bundle so thin, with only 7 books. Then I remembered that I canceled a lot of titles from my pull list last month, leaving only the titles from Vertigo, Image and a few from Marvel. So, since I had a couple of buck left in me, I shopped around the store for some new titles to read. Two series got my attention: Joe the Barbarian and Orc Stain.


Joe the Barbarian (left) and Orc Stain (right)

Joe the Barbarian #1
8.4 of 10
Joe the Barbarian had been previewed on every Vertigo title I've read last month. That's how I found out about it. I actually wanted to add it on my pull sheet but I forgot. The story in this series is centered on Joe, a sickly boy and a loner, who had drifted into a world where all his toys had come to life. To me, who was once an asthmatic child surrounded with more toys than friends, this modern-fantasy hits all the right notes.

This book, however, this first issue, is pretty slow and bare. While there's enough info about the protagonist -fatherless, have type 1 diabetes, bullied- there's not enough dialogue or action in here. Just a lot of pages with panels of artwork that shows the lay of Joe's house. But I guess those pages serves as a map of some sort, like the ones that you'd find on the first pages of a fantasy book, since the adventure will be in Joe's house for the entirety of the series.

All in all, while this book was pretty slow and almost lifeless, it still carries a lot of promise. As shown in the last pages of the book, I think the upcoming issues will be grand. So I'm going to stick around for a while and wait if this series is going to pick up some pace.

Orc Stain #1
9.0 of 10
I don't know anything about this book. But its title is very nasty and so intriguing that I couldn't help myself but buy it so I can find out what an Orc stain is. Plus, the cover art is also kick-ass. But this series is a gem, and I'm pretty sure it's going to pick up some cult following pretty soon.

The story in Orc Stain is fairly simple, but still entertaining. Orcs run amok, conquering the world, under the Orctzar. But in order for the Orctzar to dominate the whole planet he needs to fulfill a prophecy with the aid of One-Eye, our protagonist, a non sterotypical Orc who loves stealing more than fighting. The artwork, however, is wow. WOW! The designs here are so punk and disgusting (ever seen a naked Orc?), and the colors in this book makes you feel you're in a drug-induced hallucination.

I'm glad that I bought this book, even without knowing what is it about. It's like hitting a gold vein in a mine with a blindfold on. I never really expect to get anything out of it beyond its artwork and title. But it was true to its kick-ass cover art and disgusting title. Now, I can't wait for #2 to hit the stores.

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1.22.2010

Tech Whore

Gadgets and other electronics are worthless investments. But I love them anyways. I even opened a separate savings account -my "E-coffer" as I call it- which I only use to quench my thirst for gadgets and techs.

Last year, there were a lot of doohickeys that I wanted to get for myself. But, due to unexpected events, I have to break my E-coffer and use the money for other things, like buying a new brake and four tires for my car. But I was still able to buy a 64 GB iPod Touch and Logitech PC Speaker System for myself. So it wasn't all that bad.

This year, however, since I'm planning to minimize gaming and only buy used books, I'm hoping that I'd be able to save enough money to afford most of the gadgets I want for 2010.

As for the gadgets, all I want for this year are these:

Headphones

My Ultimate Ears Super-fi. 3, when it comes to sound, still does its job. But it keeps falling off my ears all the time. It's also hard to stow because it gets so tangled up in my pockets. So I decided to try headphones this time. Because I don't think it falls off easily and you can just hang it on your neck when you're not listening to music. I don't know what I'm going to get. But it's definitely not going to be a Grado PS1000. My budget only falls on a Bose Triport.

iPod Dock Player

A portable dock player by Bose is what I really want to have. I heard a demo of it a couple months ago, and the sound coming out from it was just immaculate. It so small too and it even comes with a bag. With it, I can take my music anywhere and share it. Down in the basement when I rock the stationary bike, in the kitchen when I try to cook (emphasis on the try), or when drinking with my friends when I go home to the Philippines.

Graphics Card

My PC turns two this year. It can still handle the latest games with no hiccups -although not in the highest resolutions. So I'm planning to upgrade my hardware, one at a time, starting this year before my rig turns into a coughing hag under my nose. Since I don't really want to touch the motherboard (it's proprietary), I'm just going to skip that and start with the graphics card. Right now, I'm debating between a Radeon HD 5850 or a GeForce GTX 280.

Xbox 360

I'm no console gamer. But, originally, I wanted a Wii for entertaining guests and my godkids when they visit me at home. But now I want an Xbox 360. Because, not only the 360 have a huge library of games that I actually want to play (Brutal Legend and Tekken 6), it can now stream hundreds of movies and TV shows from Netflix. Since I happen to have a Netflix account, an Xbox 360 is a perfect console for entertaining gamer and non-gamer guests.

Well, these are the toys I want for this year. Although, except for the headphones, I'm not gonna start buying them until after summer. Because good deals are always found at the end of the year.

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1.21.2010

Comics Review: Wasteland - The Apocalyptic Edition Vol. 1

Wasteland: The Apocalyptic Edition Vol. 1
8.8 of 10
Writer: Antony Johnston
Penciler: Christopher Mitten








Comic book trades are getting more popular these days, and it's easy to see why people are trade-waiting instead of getting the monthly series. Trades are much cheaper and -if you're gunning for the omnibuses or the deluxe and absolute editions- they're more gorgeous and sturdier. That's why, in my current financial situation, I canceled some of the series off my pull sheet and decided to wait for the collected trades instead. Amongst those comics that I dropped was a post-apocalyptic series entitled Wasteland.

But I'm glad that I canceled the series though. Because it only gave me a reason to buy Wasteland: The Apocalyptic Edition Vol. 1. It's a massive and gorgeous collection, I tell you. 13 issues of Wasteland, including an amazing cover art gallery and the "Walking the Dust" prose, bound together in a red velvet-like hardcover. Neat freaks should watch out, however, since the velvet-like cover is a dirt/dust magnet. But I think the book should look dirty, just to appear more "wastelandic".

Wasteland, however, is not just a good-looking book but also a good book. The story is set a century after an enigmatic cataclysm, known only as The Big Wet. Unlike most post-apocalyptic stories, the theme in this series -or in this volume, at least- isn't focused on character survival but in rebuilding civilizations. And world-building is where this book really shines. While there are strong central characters in the story, like Michael and Abi, their origins on this volume are still in the dark. So they're easily swallowed by the awe-inspiring and complex setting that is filled with a different and uniquely inspired slang language, sand-eating monsters, machine caravans and sun-worshiping religions.

The artwork by Christopher Mitten is also stunning to behold. It doesn't have a lot of flair but each panel is purposely drawn. It's also in black and white. But what it lacks in color, its subtlety makes up for it. Still, there are some muddy parts and panels that I have to turn the book upside down or sideways just to make something out of what is drawn.

Overall, Wasteland: The Apocalyptic Edition Vol. 1 is a stupendous collected trade. The setting here will leave you open-mouthed. The story is also great but -since this volume focuses more on world-building- a lot of things such as The Big Wet and the origins of the main characters are still in the dark. So that might put-off some readers whose interests lies in stories and characters rather than the setting. But I still recommend this book if you're into post-apocalyptic fiction. And if you're worried about not getting enough characters and stories, just wait for volume two.

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1.17.2010

The Playlist #8

I heard a lot of good instrumental music back in 2009 -mostly post-"something". While many of them are not that good enough to make it into my "Best Music of 2009" list, they're still good enough to merit some attention.

So, in this issue of The Playlist, I'll feature 7 songs from 7 of my favorite instrumental music in 2009.

"Thirty-Six Silos" by If These Trees Could Talk







This post-rock band debut in 2006. But I only became familiar with their work last year, when they released Above the Earth, Below the Sky, which is an amazing album. Although the music is pretty much recycled from post-rock godfathers, the shoegaze of Explosions in the Sky and the gloom of Mogwai. Still, it's a great listen. Songs like "Thirty-Six Silos", which opens up with an atmospheric sad sound and launches into a cacophonous explosion a minute before it ends, will tickle your ears and set your souls in turmoil.

"Strung Up From the Sky" by Pelican







Pelican's 2005 album, The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw, started my addiction to post-metal and post-rock. But when they released City of Echoes, two years later, Pelican curbed my appetite for the genre. The album was just atrocious. It's a good thing they have redeemed themselves with their current album, What We All Come To Need. While it's not as good as The Fire...or Australasia, it's definitely way much better -and also heavier- than City of Echoes.

"Prepare Your Coffin" by Tortoise







If not for bands affiliated to them, like The Sea and Cake or Slint, I surely would've missed out on Tortoise and their latest work, Beacons of Ancestorship. It's a hidden gem of an album, a sonic nirvana of music experimentation. But unlike most experimental bands these days, which mostly uses rock or electronica as a basis, Tortoise displays their musicianship through songs laden with jazz chops. "Prepare Your Coffin" is perhaps the best example. While the song is repetitive, you can only drool at the quick fusion jazz solo and the meticulous drumworks.

"The Great Plains" by Scale The Summit







Now here's a progressive metal band who, instead of indulging themselves with the technicalities that comes with the genre: off-beat time signatures and Dream Theater-like guitar and drum solos, opted a post-rock mentality by creating a sweeping atmospheric sound with metal riffs. Their music, like on the song "The Great Plains", which dips in and out of mellow and heavy rhythms, is a very refreshing kind of metal.

"Melee" by Russian Circles







Out of all artists from Chicago's music scene, Russian Circles is probably my favorite. They enthralled me with their first album, Enter, and have continued to do so ever since then. Geneva, their latest album, is no exception. In this album, their music as beautiful and vicious as ever. But, this time, they also made their music more lush by adding a cellist and a violinist into the fray. Now their songs, like "Melee", is even more dense with drama.

"You Can't Shake Hands with a Clenched Fist" by Maybeshewill







Most post-rock bands are bent on making gloomy and atmospheric ambiance inspired by chaos or elemental forces. But Maybeshewill, in their album Sing The Word Hope In Four-Part Harmony, created a different apocalyptic soundscape that is inspired by our current social and political climate -one that is riddled with wars, lies and greed. Their songs, like the explosive opener, "You Can't Shake Hands with a Clenched Fist", are filled with depressing, haunting and angry rhythms, reminding me that our world is going downward spiral.

"Buster Voodoo" by Rodrigo y Gabriela







If there's an album I missed jotting down on my "Best Music of 2009" list, it's 11:11 by Rodrigo y Gabriela. Due to the financial strain inflicted on me by the holidays, I wasn't able to procure this album until earlier this month. But better late than never. Because this album is a gem full of amazing guitar works. Each track offers variety too, often contemporary Latin guitar married with another genre. "Buster Voodoo", for example, a tribute to Jimi Hendrix (Buster, his nickname. Voodoo, for his song Voodoo Chile), clearly sports metal licks hiding behind a Latin guitar.

Well that's it for this week's The Playlist. I hope you guys liked all the instrumental music I've prepared for your listening pleasure.

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1.16.2010

Mass Effect 1.5

I'm playing Mass Effect again. I know, I know. This game is not included on the list of things I should be doing this year (see here), like reading all 46 novels of Philip K. Dick. So you might think that I've been derailed from my goals, shirking away from all the work that will fulfill my resolutions. But, no, not really. Because, while Mass Effect isn't on my 2010 "to do" checklist, all the choices and decisions I've made in this game will actually carry out on Mass Effect 2 -a game which is on my checklist- by transferring my save files (see article here). So if my character on the Mass Effect is an alien hater of mass destruction, people will treat him as such in Mass Effect 2. Nifty, no?

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1.11.2010

Soup of Leftovers

The holidays maybe over but its residue still lingers on. Because it's too cold to take them down, the light icicles and other Christmas decors remain showcased outside my house. I have an astronomical debt to pay caused by the holiday shopping spree. I have tons of unfinished games and books -bought and given to me last month- cluttering my room. Then there's the honey glazed ham -or should I say honey glazed bone- taking over almost half of our fridge space.

So, since an arctic blast is blowing down on Illinois, I took it upon me to hit two birds with one stone: empty the fridge and warm myself by making a soup out of the leftover honey glazed ham.

A Warm Soup of Leftovers

Except for Pancit Molo, I haven't made any kind of soup. I'm no cook either. I only have little knowledge on how to make a soup, which I learned from watching the Food Network. So this was more like a trial, an experiment to see if I could do it. Surprisingly, it turned out to be good -that's coming from a modest man- even with the lack of ingredients and skill. It has this sweet taste, probably from the honey glazed bone.

As for how I did it. Well, I didn't write it down or measured anything. But I know all my ingredients were rummaged from our pantry and vegetable compartment. 2 tomatoes, 2 garlic cloves, 1 onion, a box of ziti, 1/4 bag of green peas, 5 baby carrots and a leftover honey glazed ham. I took all the meat that I could from the ham, cut them into tiny cubes and boiled the bone for an hour. Then I dropped all the diced vegetables into the pot, followed by the cubed meat and then the ziti. Let it all boil for another 30 minutes until it turned into an edible soup.

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Another Year, Another Checklist

In conjunction to my resolutions post (which you can read here), I have decided to make a checklist of the things I want to this year in order to keep track of what I've accomplished. This idea was inspired by and borrowed from Julie Powell's blog, Julie/Julia Project, after watching the movie Julie & Julia. However, instead of cooking 536 recipes in 365 days, I have 251 game achievements to unlock, 41 character levels to reach and 90 books to read in less than a year.

Unlocked Game Achievements

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum - 29 out of 47
  • Fallout 3 - 3 out of 72
  • Dragon Age - 49 out of 87
  • Mass Effect 2 - 0 out of 50
  • Torchlight - 36 out of 62
  • Left 4 Dead 2 - 0 out of 50
Character Levels and Renown to Reach
  • Champions Online - 12 levels out of 40
  • Warhammer Online - 47 renown out of 60
Books to Read
  • Philip K. Dick novels 1 out of 46
  • Ernest Hemingway novels 0 out of 9
  • Back logs read 0 out of 20
  • New books read 0 out of 16
Looks like I'm going to lose a lot of sleep this year. So do you think I can do it? I think, no. I can only accomplish half ot it. I know, because I like to half-ass things.

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1.10.2010

The Playlist #7

I've been actively blog hopping for almost two years now, leaving my ink and opinion on other blogs. For all these years, I found a few personal blogs that are a kin to mine, even though they're just a few. Most of them are about books, and a couple of them have geeky touches and talk about gaming or comics from time to time. But, for some reason, I haven't stumbled upon a blog that shares my love for metal, or even hard rock.

So I think I'm going to coax all metalheads and "rakistang bloggers" out of the woodwork by making a metal playlist.

"Blood and Thunder" by Mastodon







They're one of the best metal bands that came out in the last decade, hands down. Their 2005 album, Leviathan, is also one of my favorite albums of all time.

"Bat Country" by Avenged Sevenfold







I'm not really a big fan of Avenged Sevenfold. But I did love their 2005 album, City of Evil. Too bad that their awesome drummer, The Rev, died at an early age, last year, on December 28.

"Iron Man" by Black Sabbath







I saw the trailer of Iron Man 2 earlier this week. It was kick-ass. But I'm pretty sure that this Black Sabbath song was a contributing factor to the trailer's kick-assery.

"Black Bubblegum" by The Dillinger Escape Plan







In order to fill the void in me, which was caused by the discovery of a new DEP album coming out this year, I started to listen to all of DEP's older material. Waiting sucks.

"Cemetary Gates" by Pantera







This is one of the many songs that actually inspired me to pick up a guitar and learn to play it. But I never learned to play this song. Dimebag's solo was too much for me.

"So Did We" by Isis







One of the first songs I heard from Isis. However, I didn't like it back then. I wasn't that much into post-metal yet. It wasn't until 2004 that I came to appreciate post-metal/post-rock.

"Bleed" by Meshuggah







I love this song. It's just so heavy. The guitar riffs here has the power and relentlessness of a jackhammer. I bet if I put my speakers on full, this song will break all my walls.

I do hope this playlist is loud enough to attract metalhead bloggers out from the darkest corners of the internet.

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1.09.2010

2010, Please Entertain Me

Usually, I try to make a list of "my [insert number here] most anticipated [insert form of media entertainment here] in [insert current year here]". But since it's 2010, that means I'll have to find 10 games, 10 books, 10 music and 10 films to post in here. That's a lot of things to look forward to, I think. It'll cost me a lot, too, if I happen to play, read, listen to and watch all of them. So, since I'm saving money this year, I decided to throw 10 various entertainment that I'm anxiously waiting for this 2010. (list is not in order of importance)

1. Mass Effect 2
Just when I thought I would get a brief respite from holiday spending, BioWare decided they're going to release Mass Effect 2 this January, even though Dragon Age: Origins is still warm on the shelves. I guess they're pumped to open this decade with another epic RPG. So be it, then. I guess I'll have to shell out some cash this month and drown myself in this space opera, killing Geths and making alien love -or hate, if I decide to give Shepherd a xenophobia.

Mass Effect 2

2. Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising
The first expansion of Dawn of War II, one of my favorite RTS games. So what is it that I'm excited about this game? Well, there are Chaos Marines in this game, for one. They're like the Sith version of the Space Marines, which makes them even more bad ass. Secondly, all the characters you control in the original campaign (Cyrus, Avitus) can be corrupted, depending on the choices you make. That means, the campaign, its even more of a RPG/RTS hybrid with the good and evil choices.

3. BioShock 2
The spiritual successor of System Shock and sequel to one of the best shooter game returns, and is scheduled to be released this February. Like its predecessor, BioShock 2 promises a great storyline, art direction, and it will also include a multiplayer feature that will increase the game's replay value. But what I'm really excited about this game is that you'll be playing as a hulking Big Daddy, the superstars of the first game. Kick ass, no?

BioShock 2

4. Toy Story 3
Honestly, the plot in Toy Story 3 is a little bit similar to The Brave Little Toaster. But who cares, right? This is the next Pixar film, which every decent mom and 9 out of 10 people with a reading comprehension of a 3 year old look forward to see each summer (this, by the way, is just my guesstimate). In addition, it's also the next Toy Story film. So that's a double whammy right there.

5. Iron Man 2
Next to Nolan's revision of Batman, the Iron Man film franchise is the best comics-to-film. So I have plenty of reasons to be excited about this sequel. Let me enumerate them: (1) Robert Downey Jr., I have a man crush on him. (2) War Machine, because he's metal. (3) Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, sporting a bad Russian accent and her 34 C's in a latex overalls. (4) More Sam Jackson as Nick Fury, paving the way to the Avengers movie.

Iron Man 2

6. Kick-Ass
This movie is about a teenage boy decided to become a real-time hero, after being inspired by comic book super heroes. The film is based on the comic book of the same title, written by Mark Millar, who also wrote Wanted (you know, that movie where they can curve bullets). Unlike Wanted, however, Kick-Ass seems to be royally faithful to the books, which is a good thing.

7. Alice in Wonderland
I'm a Tim Burton fan. Although his most recent films (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride), I wasn't a very big fan of. So when I found out that he's working on an Alice in Wonderland movie, I couldn't help but be excited about it. The setting is just perfect for Burton's "technicolor gothic" style. Then there's also the cast. I'm especially looking forward to Johnny Depp playing the Mad Hatter. This is going to be fun and crazy film.

Alice in Wonderland

8. The Victors (rumored title of the third The Hunger Games book)
Honestly, with all the books I got the last Holiday, I haven't had the time to read Catching Fire (2nd book of the trilogy). But, I know, once I finish reading this dystopian novel for the young adult, I'm pretty sure I'm going to crave for book 3 right away.

9. Option Paralysis (Dillinger Escape Plan's new album)
Honestly, I thought DEP was no more when I found out that their drummer left, when they left their label, and when their singer got sick. But here they are now with a new drummer, their own new label, healthy band members and a new album to follow up Ire Works, their 2007 "heavier than metal" album. I just couldn't wait to hear their new material. I'm pretty sure though that it's going to give me neck injuries.

The Dillinger Escape Plan

10. Deftones' untitled album
I'm a big fan of Deftones. But for almost 4 years now, I've been straining my neck and waiting for them to drop their new album. It's understandable though, why they have to cancel the 2009 release of Eros, their latest completed work, in respect -I guess- for their bassist, Chi Cheng, who's under comatose. But now they're back with a new bassist, Sergio Vega (from Quicksand, also a favorite band), and a new album. I'm extremely looking forward to hear it.

That's my list. I hope this year will entertain me even better than the last.

Similar Posts:
My 9 Most Anticipated Games for 2009
Games for 2008
Games for 2007
6 Games for 2006

1.08.2010

Just Another Resolution Post

At this point, the blogosphere must be suffocating with all the New Year's resolutions that have been posted this week. Unfortunately, as much as I want to deny that this isn't one of those posts, I must let you suffer through another round of "resolutions". I promise, though, that it will be quick.

Here are my resolutions for 2010

  1. Only buy games that are on sale or if their prices have dropped (Mass Effect 2 and Guild Wars 2 are an exception).
  2. Replay some of my older games and, if available, unlock all their achievements.
  3. Reach renown rank 60 and don a full Invader set in Warhammer Online.
  4. Reach level 40 in Champions Online.
  5. Only buy used hardcover books.
  6. Read all of my back log books and graphic novels before getting new books to read.
  7. Read all novels by Philip K. Dick.
  8. Read all novels by Ernest Hemingway.
  9. Maintain comic book spending at $40/month, and become a trade waiter instead.
  10. Brush up my blues guitar skills.
That's that. Short and effortless to do. Not like losing weight or getting a wife.

Similar Posts:
Springing Forward
Re-Organization
Twitching Eye

1.07.2010

Top 9 Books of 2009

I'm sorry if this post is a little bit late. I know there are some of you who are interested to know what books I've read last year. But work happened. So I wasn't able to make the list right away.

But, anyways, while I haven't read a much new books in 2009 (12 new books), here's my top 9 books.

1. Let The Great World Spin 9.8
Author: Colum McCann
The best book I've read this year. This novel is about different lives and culture colliding everyday, showing us that we're all connected by place or event, whether you're a judge, a housewife, a monk, a prostitute, an artist, a nurse or a high wire walker. Truly, this is beautiful book.


2. When Skateboards Will Be Free 9.5 [Review]
Author: Said Sayrafeizadeh
I was so curious about this book's title. So much that I bought it without reading its synopsis. At first, I thought it was about skater culture. But it is actually a memoir of a child growing up a socialist in a capitalist's world. It's the most heartwarming, as well as heartbreaking tale I've read so far.


3. Far North 9.4
Author: Marcel Theroux
Far North is about a world where global warming has reduced civilization through famine and floods and has turned the once frozen wasteland of Siberia -the setting in the story- a habitable settlement. It may not be as good as The Road. But it's still a good post-apocalyptic fiction.


4. Genesis 9.3 [Review]
Author: Bernard Beckett
Set in a technologically advance island nation, Genesis is a book for the young adult. Hence, the story has no complex plot or sub-plots. But the book is full of philosophical debates, such as modernism vs. traditionalism, that will satiate your intellect. Definitely the best sci-fi I've read this year.


5. Zeitoun 9.0 [Review]
Author: Dave Eggers
Zeitoun is a riveting story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born American and a well-known contractor in New Orleans, who was falsely accused as a terrorist and was imprisoned by the US Government after being stranded by Hurricane Katrina. The scary part: this book is a non-fiction.


6. The Year of the Flood 8.9
Author: Margaret Atwood
One of the eeriest books I've read. Atwood knows her speculative fiction well. Loosely tied to Oryx and Crake, the setting in this book is a dying world -corporate run and materialistic, where people kill people for sport, food and organs. While still far from our own reality, it's still too possible to happen.


7. The Next 100 Years 8.6 [Review]
Author: George Friedman
This is a non-fiction book the forecasts the future. But it didn't use any crystal ball as a guide. Instead, it's written with the best geopolitical insights. While it's too American-centric, I enjoyed reading it because I learned a lot about the upcoming technology, like hypersonic jets and wireless energy transfer.


8. The Book of Dead Philosophers 8.5 [Review]
Author: Simon Critchley
I bought this book only because I wanted to learn about various philosophers, and maybe even study their work. But this book turned out to be a miscellany of anecdotes and short writings of the deaths of some 190 philosophers. Still a lot of fun to read though, and you do learn a lot of philosophy from it.


9. Lowboy 8.4 [Review]
Author: John Wray
The story in this book is about a schizophrenic boy who's off his meds and wandering underground the New York subway system, with a mission to save the world from global warming. While I didn't like its story, it's still an interesting read because it lets the readers experience schizophrenia.


Well, that's that. Hopefully, I'd be able to read more new books this 2010 (I'm aiming for 20) so I could make a better list for next year.

My other Top 9 of 2009:
Top 9 Games of 2009
Top 9 Films of 2009
Top 9 Music of 2009

Similar Posts:
Best of 2008
Best of 2007
Best of 2006

1.03.2010

Top 9 Music of 2009

2009 was a good year for music. I discovered a lot of cool new bands, and most of which are metal bands too. Then, of course, old grunge rockers like Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains got out from the woodwork and gave us some pretty decent albums. I also bought a 64 GB iPod touch, whom I named "thedoohickeythatplaysallmymusic". Like with gaming, I went fully digital this year and stopped buying CDs.

Anyways, here's my top albums for this year.

1. Wavering Radiant 10 [Review]
Artist: Isis
Wavering Radiant is Isis' magnum opus to date, and my favorite album of 2009. While it is not as heavy as Oceanic this album is dense with majestic sound textures that will give you multiple eargasms.

"Ghost Key" by Isis








2. Blue Album 9.5
Artist: Baroness
I only found out about this band a couple months ago. But their Blue Album impressed me right away with its Southern sludge and prog-metal sounds. Definitely one of the heaviest albums in 2009.

"A Horse Called Golgotha" by Baroness








3. Bitte Orca 9.3 [Review]
Artist: Dirty Projectors
I heard this band while listening to Dark Was The Night. I fell in love with them and bought Bitte Orca, which is a fun and creative album, filled with a variety of music and oddly structured songs.

"Stillness is the Move" by Dirty Projectors








4. Two Suns 9.0 [Review]
Artist: Bat For Lashes
I liked Khan's first album, Fur and Gold. Regrettably, it was forgettable. Two Suns, however, is not. It's a beautiful album filled with synths and 80's electropop beats. Khan's voice also shines in here.

"Daniel" by Bat For Lashes








5. Travels With Myself and Another 9.0 [Review]
Artist: Future of the Left
Travels... is the first album I've heard that is both hardcore and comical. The wisecracking lyrics, the often times angry, often times melodious vocals, and in-your-face guitar riffs is just awesome.

"The Hope That House Built" by Future of the Left








6. Meriweather Post Pavilion 8.9 [Review]
Artist: Animal Collective
A lof of critics have named Meriweather Post Pavilion as their album of the year, and I can definitely see why. Because this album's unique sound -a digitized tribal and folk music- is a joy to listen to.

"Brother Sport" by Animal Collective








7. No More Stories... 8.9 [Review]
Artist: Mew
Not a lot can get into prog rock. But Mew's No More Stories, with dance rock tunes and pop elements throw into the mix of prog rock eccentricities, might be able to charm non prog rockers.

"Introducing Palace Players" by Mew








8. Sainthood 8.8 [Review]
Artist: Tegan and Sara
It may not be as good as the twins previous work, The Con. But Sainthood's 80's influence, from the pop of Madonna to the new wave of The Cure, is bursting with energy.

"Alligator" by Tegan and Sara








9. Crack The Sky 8.7 [Review]
Artist: Mastodon
Crack The Skye is more streamlined and toned down than Mastodon's previous works. A lot of fans hated it. But, with the inclusion of stoner rock elements in this album, I loved it a lot.

"Oblivion" by Mastodon








Well that's my list. While I did miss a few notable music that were released last year-like Phoenix and Sunn O))), for example- I'm still pretty happy with all I've heard and listened to in 2009. I hope you guys had a good year filled with music too.

My other Top 9 of 2009:
Top 9 Games of 2009
Top 9 Films of 2009
Top 9 Books of 2009

Similar Posts:
Best of 2008
Best of 2007
Best of 2006

1.02.2010

Top 9 Films of 2009

Believe it or not but I've only been inside the theaters for 6-7 times this year. I gave up going to movie houses and left Netflix in charge of my film watching activities. Saved me tons of money because I only have to pay $22 every month (average of 12 rents a month) instead of going out and spending $32 for 4 movies. Although I missed a lot of good flicks this year that aren't out on DVD/Blu-Ray yet. The Road being one of them.

But anyways, I scarped up enough movies to put into my top 9 films of this year. Here they are:

1. The Hurt Locker 9.3
The Hurt Locker is a film about a bomb technician that is serving in Iraq. It's definitely my favorite war film in a post-9/11 setting. Because unlike other war films, this one doesn't spew any anti-war sentiments at all. It's not pro-war either, or involves any politics. It is, however, a film about a soldier's skill and dedication, of doing what he loves even if it's dangerous.


2. Inglorious Basterds 9.0
Quentin Tarantino may have over indulged himself when he made this film, rewriting WWII the way he wants it. But, hey, WWII have been repeatedly butchered and raped by Hollywood anyways. At least, Inglorious Basterds managed to be funny. It's probably the funniest film with Nazis since To Be or Not To Be. There's a lot of great performances here as well.


3. 500 Days of Summer 8.8
I only watched this romantic comedy because of Zooey Deschanel. She's the kind of chick that will sweep you away from your gamer chair, and inspire you to do great things. She did just that in the film, and then some more. Because her character is kind of half-evil/half-good, torturer/lover, and she played it real well. The soundtrack rocks too (The Smiths and The Pixies).


4. Avatar 8.7 [Review]
Avatar is probably the prettiest film I've seen this year. The visuals in this movie is just mesmerizing. However, it wasn't the graphics that made me dig it. It was the anti-war, anti-racism and eco-friendly sentiments embedded underneath that made me like it. True, the story maybe as old as the founding of Jamestown. But, right now, it's the perfect story to tell.


5. District 9 8.7
Done in a mocumentary style, the film's story is about a man who's undergoing a metamorphosis, his body transforming into a shrimp-like alien. The film looks cheap, and feels cheap. But it's a simple sci-fi film with a lot of cheap tricks that'll entertain you. I also like the story, which focuses on issues such as race/social segregation and xenophobia.


6. Star Trek 8.6
I wanted to become a Trekkie for a long time -because what kind of geek doesn't watch Star Trek- but I just can't. My brain always short circuits every time I try to get into the series' extensive lore. Luckily, J.J. Abrams was nice enough to reboot the film, indulging Trekkie wannabees like me, giving us a new Star Trek alternate reality to start with.


7. Drag Me to Hell 8.5
I don't watch horror movies. The world is scary as it is. But since this film is from Sam Raimi, I thought I'd make an exception and rent it. True enough, it is more like Raimi's older work, Evil Dead, which oddly delivers scary, gory and funny moments. This movie will spook you one minute and then will make you laugh so hard as if it's apologizing for spooking you.


8. Up 8.4
Up is not really my favorite Pixar film, and it's probably their worst film in my opinion. I don't know if I was over examining things while watching it or comparing it to WALL-E. But, anyways, even though a little messed up, this film is fun, adventurous and colorful. The story is heart warming. The characters -especially the dogs- are very interesting, and also oddly paired.


9. The Hangover 8.0
The film is about four guys having a bachelor's party in Las Vegas. At first, the story felt like a regular night out went wrong. But after the cast woke up and found out (more like couldn't remember) what really went wrong the other night, how they really fucked up, the fun begins. I swear I couldn't stop laughing for about an hour watching this film.


So there's my top 9. It's not a great looking list, I must admit. Like I said, I missed a lot of good movies this year since I've forgone watching new movies in theaters.

My other Top 9 of 2009:
Top 9 Games of 2009
Top 9 Music of 2009
Top 9 Books of 2009

Similar Posts:
Best of 2008
Best of 2007
Best of 2006