Friday, November 13, 2009

Chile pepper pending.

So I harvested almost a dozen serranos from my plant this morning. I finally know what the plant is, I had forgotten what seeds I planted. Now I just have to figure out what to do with them. Probably just going to end up pickling them.

Thanks to the fine folks over at World Spice Merchants for sending my latest order quickly and efficiently. I picked up some Aframomum melegueta aka "Grains of Paradise", Urfa Biber, Poivron Rouge, and another ounce of Bhut Jolokia (my new friend aka "ghost chile").

Here's a quick run down:
  1. The grains of paradise have an outstanding aroma and peculiar flavor. When ground they have a floral, peppery smell with a hint of I don't know what. The taste is a combination of pepper, coriander, and possibly a hint of anise. I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to use this in but I may end up using a pinch here and there for my grains.
  2. Urfa Biber is a Turkish chile that is dark chocolate brown. I got it ground so I don't know what the chiles look like. The stuff looks like freaking tar but has a mellow, mid-range heat and a very mysterious flavor. I know that may sound insane but I tasted the stuff and got a weird sensory image in my head of a bazaar in Instanbul. I think I might have to use this stuff on ribs.
  3. The Poivron Rouge hails from Marrakech and has a similar look and taste to Hungarian Paprika. I plan to have this as an additive to couscous or quiche.

That's all the news I have today folks. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins Tips and Tricks 1

  1. I discovered that by holding down Left Trigger/L2 (brings up the radial menu) you can scan the area for items of interest and in some instances enemies. The names of said items will pop up in the general area they are in. Granted, it's a very short range scan but it is helpful in discovering secret areas and pickups you might have missed.
  2. This may depend on your style of play but I wholeheartedly recommend bumping up your persuasion skill ASAP. Communication actually matters in Dragon Age: Origins (unlike most RPGS where communication is a wasted skill *cough* Oblivion) and unless you want to strong arm everyone a little tact is a good thing to have.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins Voice Actors, or I thought I knew that voice!

Yes, Dragon Age:Origins is awesome, narf, narf, narf...we know Joshua why do you keep writing about it?

Because it just gets more awesome!

The Grey Warden Duncan sounded very, very familiar but I couldn't figure out who the hell it was. Turns out it's freaking Peter Renaday! The voice of Splinter, about a million video game characters, and bit parts ranging back to The AristoCats. Awesome!

Turns out Steve Valentine does a voice, you'd know him if you saw/heard him, he's kind of like a bizarro Richard E. Grant. I like him.

Kate Mulgrew, who played Capt. Janeway does a voice though I haven't encountered the character yet.

Tim Curry also does a voice and I have yet to encounter his character either.

I'm sure there are more but I have to go to class.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins (2009) First, first impressions.

That was how I felt about Dragon Age: Origins over the last few days and although I only got a few hours of gaming in I still feel that way.
The manual (you know that thing that comes with the game that has been rendered archaic by most games) is dense with 8pt font text. Bioware calls the game, "a modern re-imagination of an epic party based fantasy roleplaying game, dense with story and tactical combat" and so far they are right. Narf, narf, narf. I am +d20 with glee.
For my character I chose a female dwarf commoner (dwarf commoners excel at stealery) rogue with a specialization in ranged weapons. Her name is Scylla and she rules.
Apparently there's a different opening story for each race and class - for a total of six. That's kind of wicked awesome in my opinion. I don't want to give away Scylla's story but it's pretty fucking bleak. Odd that I experienced racism and classism in a game. Interesting too.
There is a serious learning curve in Dragon Age: Origins. If you're a gamer used to FPS styled RPGs (i.e. Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Fallout 3) then you might be in for a shock. I was drinking while playing so that might have impaired my ability to assimilate information but damn this game has a lot to it. Some gamers might be put off by the amount of tinkering and menu fiddling (weapons, armor, assorted gear, etc.) but I love it.
Hopefully I will be able to get some serious game time in tonight. Granted we do have a guest but I want to make him feel comfortable and at home. Besides I can either goob out about Dragon Age: Origins and bore people or I can sit quietly.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Red Cliff (2008) Dir John Woo

Ever since John Woo came to America he has made movies that are so bad that even with the taste of Tarantino could like them. They suck. Hard Target-sucked. Face/Off-blew. Windtalkers-both sucked and blew. You get the idea. I had pretty much written Mr. Woo off. Fin. I wasn't expecting much of anything from the man ever again.

Then I heard drums in the deep about Woo returning to China to make an epic of such sweeping proportions even Ang Lee and Yimou Zhang said, "Damn! Now that's a sweeping epic!" I've read that Woo's Red Cliff was released in Asia in two chunks for a total of four viewing hours and has outgrossed Titanic in China. Outside of Asia Red Cliff has been edited down to two and a half hours. The movie is not due in theaters until later this month. I downloaded a copy from XBOX Live and watched it with the missus last night.

I tell you what-Red Cliff is awesome. While there were one or two weird editing problems I noticed I was quickly distracted by all the awesome. I don't know if Red Cliff is as pretty as a Yimou Zhang (Hero, Curse of the Golden Flower) movie but it has an excellent look of its own. I don't recognize the movies the cinematographers (Zhang Li & Lu Yue) have worked on but I want to track those movies down. Red Cliff is blessedly 99% free of spastic camera work allowing the viewer to watch the action. The action director was Corey Yuen, stunt supervisor Dion Lam, and stunt coordinator was Jian Yong Guo (all have impressive backgrounds to say the least). Red Cliff is a top notch action movie (at least this version was). When the main ass kickers are let off the chain they seriously dish out the Mu Shu Pain. One awesome move I haven't seen before was: impale a guy with a spear, keep running, yank the spear through the guy and keep fighting. Amanda and I were actually cheering because some of the action was so awesome. Cheering, in the house, I shit you not. At one point the action got me so riled up I started whistling the action theme to Better Tomorrow II.

The basic story of Red Cliff takes place during the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" period c208 BCE. If you're familiar with the story (or played any number of the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" KOEI games) then all the major players will be familiar-Cao Cao, Liu Bei, Sun Qian, Zhang Fei, etc. Zhang Fei (played by Jinsheng Zang) captures the image and personality I had of him in my head perfectly; plus it was fun to watch him bodyslam a horse. For viewers not really familiar with the story Red Cliff does a perfectly decent job of introducing the characters and their roles in the grand scheme of things.

Wow. I gotta say Red Cliff is so damn enjoyable. I'm still excited by seeing it. I would see it again and will probably buy the complete cut if and when I see it for sale. John Woo, I love you again, please don't make shitty movies in America any more. xoxo Joshua

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