Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It Goes on Everything

Last Sunday morning a considerable contingent of GameSpot editors and producers past and present, their significant others, and even my own parents converged on San Francisco's best British pub, the Pig & Whistle. Led by our resident loveable limey Justin Calvert, we took part in the sort of terrible breakfast gluttony that I thought was unknown outside my own native southeast. Ladies and gents, I give you the Full English:

That's baked beans, bangers (sausage to us yanks), bacon, a frightening mess of scrambled eggs, English muffin, fried potatoes (how did I forget the fried potatoes?) and one lonely slice of fresh tomato. Understand this picture represents no more than two-thirds of the original quantity of food; I was so excited to start eating that I actually forgot to take a picture beforehand. Here's the aftermath, in which I take a great deal of pride:

The best part about enjoying this breakfast is that the Pig & Whistle stocks copious amounts of HP Sauce, arguably the finest condiment known to man. (I also forgot to get Mr. Calvert on camera extolling its virtues, which he does very well.) Imagine a sauce with the consistency of ketchup but a flavor much closer to a traditional steak sauce, like A1. But there are some other subtle flavors going on in there too, something sweet and tangy that I can't put my finger on. It's delectable. The best part, as the title implies, is you can put it on ANYTHING. You may notice the gentle looping, the delicate distribution of brown sauce across the entire plate. It went on the eggs, the meats -- heck, even the beans, and those come in their own sauce already. Next time I get a chance, I'm putting HP on my ice cream. (It's great in a bloody mary, natch.)

There are actually multiple types of HP, based on where they're manufactured. Calvert will tell you the UK version is the best, because it's made with a specific kind of sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup or some madness like that. Whatever, let's not split hairs. Get it however you can. I encourage you to educate yourself on this best of all sauces. You don't hear a lot of kind words said about British food, but they sure as hell got this one right.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Token Update

Do those of you with your own blogs feel a burning compulsion to update a lot? I do, and I feel like I've been shirking my responsibility to fill this space. As in, nobody will read this stupid thing if I don't write in it. (Duh.) The blogosphere abhors a vacuum, I guess.

Lots of free time with games is one of the things I was most looking forward to after I left my job. So I'm disappointed (or ashamed?) to admit I haven't even touched a controller since I was last paid to do so -- though over the weekend I did get in one mission with Company of Heroes, which is rocking my socks off. (Totally late to the party, I know.)

No games yet, but I did finally see No Country for Old Men last night and really liked it. There's not much I can say about it that its Best Picture award didn't already say, but the Coens have got to be among the savviest filmmakers working these days. What an uncanny sense of narrative pacing those guys have, and they're successful in so many genres too. Also Javier Bardem can be one really creepy dude when he wants to be. The casting was pretty great in general -- Josh Brolin was especially convincing as the salt-of-the-earth, blue collar Texas badass -- but the movie lived and died by Bardem's ability to scare the hell out of you. That guy literally became the face of evil here.

If you haven't seen it you should stop reading now: the open ending left me hanging. I wanted to see less injustice and more resolution for the protagonists, largely because the filmmakers did such a good job getting you attached to the characters, but you just don't get it in this one. (In defense of this movie, however, I hear the book's conclusion didn't really differ at all.) It seems like the sort of ending I would have loved in my more pretentious pseudo-intellectual art-house college days, but instead it was really a bit unfulfilling.

Such a vast majority of movies use the more typical Hollywood style of ending -- the one where the hero offs all the villains, blows shit up, gets the hot chick, utters a one-liner, and flies off into the sunset clinging to a rope ladder dangling from an Apache or whatever. So it was kind of jarring to have the film just end with all these seemingly loose threads still hanging, and without the bad guy getting what I thought was coming to him. Maybe one's tastes tend more toward the mainstream as one gets older. Maybe it's really that hard to see bad people get away with doing bad things. Oh well, whatever -- sign me up for the next focus group.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Don't Play With Your Food

These guys managed to combine two of my favorite things -- 20th-century geopolitical strife, and food -- into one amazingly well animated and way-too-clever short film. Starts out with World War II, obviously:

They offer a handy breakdown of the foods' nationalities, but I recommend watching it first before you look at the cheat sheet. Figuring out who's blowing up whom on the fly is half the fun of it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Slowing Down and Catching Up

Big enormous sappy thanks to everyone who wrote to me or left a comment today wishing me well. You guys made all the hard work and late nights worthwhile. On the record, I don't have any immediate professional plans, which I know sounds crazy to a lot of people with steady gainful employment (and more so to those without it). But there you go. Conveniently, my girlfriend and parents are all visiting next week, and after that, I'm gonna be ready for a little break. Sometimes you just really and truly need it. The ruthless San Francisco economy will understand, right?

Games-wise, I do plan to start writing freelance for a number of outlets in the fairly near future, so you can look out for that if you're interested. There will be links to specific articles when the time rolls around. I'll also offer thoughts here on whatever I'm currently playing, and I'm really excited to finally plow through a daunting backlog of important games that eluded me the last couple of years. (Started early by plowing through Half-Life 2: Ep2 last weekend, quick verdict: exemplary. Valve is more on its game than ever.)

Then on the "crazy abrupt change of life direction" tip... Since around this time last year, I've been toying with the idea of ditching this stupid landmass and heading down to Hawaii, where my girlfriend currently lives, to get into the booming business of beach-based shaved ice stands. It'd only be a year, tops. Do you know how much spam one man could eat in a year? Do you want to find out?

My pledge to you: if enough of you make a compelling argument in the comments (or alternatively, send me $1 each), I'm gone. Continents are bullshit, anyway.

Well, that would be at least a couple of months away. In the short-term: Anyone out there playing Condemned 2? Would a person need to play through the first game to appreciate it?

note: I've enabled anonymous comments per request; you won't need a Blogger account to post. Like Rufus said, be excellent to each other.

On the Flip

So this is what it's like on the other side. At least the background is lighter.