Sleepy Christmas…

So, I, uhh…am pretty tired right now.  I had to work Christmas Eve and halfway through my shift I got a call from one of my officers.  He called off for the overnight shift.  I was quite perturbed, because we have additional manpower requirements on holidays so we have a harsher penalty for calling off on holidays than for regular days.  When I asked him why he was calling off he said, “…my father just passed away, I’m at the hospital now.”

Whoops...I might be an asshole.

Well…this just got awkward.

The only officer who wasn’t already working or out-of-town admitted he was already three sheets to the wind by 7pm…and was actually drinking while on the phone with me.  So I worked a double on Christmas Eve, and had to come back to work Christmas Day for the afternoon shift.

So I just thought I’d share a video I found while sitting around with nothing to do which helped me get through the night…


Goodbye Gandolfini

As I’m sure you’ve probably all heard by now, James Gandolfini has died.  The presumption right now is heart attack after becoming ill on vacation in Italy.  Gandolfini is most famous for playing Tony Soprano on the HBO drama, The Sopranos.  I know him more, however, as Colonel Winters, the villain from one of my favorite movies: The Last Castle.

He called himself a 260 lb Woody Allen.

He called himself a 260 lb Woody Allen.

He was a good actor and judging from the anecdotes and stories from Larry King about him last night on CNN, he seemed like a pretty cool guy.

So in honor of a great actor, here is some interesting trivia, thanks to the awesome website IMDB:

-Gandolfini could play both the Trumpet and the Saxophone.

-Gandolfini helped a woman who was being mugged on the streets of New York City in 2001.

-Used to work as a bartender in Manhattan before making it as an actor; also worked as a bouncer.


Condolences to his family, especially since he’s got a teenager and a 1-year-old.  He was a good actor in the prime of his career.


Ebert’s Death Gets Two Thumbs Down

As you’re all certainly aware if you’ve seen the news at all recently: Legendary movie critic Roger Ebert has died of cancer, at the age of 70.  I’ve always been a fan of his witty movie reviews and valued his opinions, especially since he was one of those critics who would look at an action film devoid of any original storyline or fancy videography and say, “Two thumbs up, because it gives you exactly what you expect for a story-devoid action flick!”

He wasn’t a ‘hipster’ critic who would give a movie low ratings because it didn’t have a moral message or didn’t have fancy screen transitions or crap like that.  He would watch a movie and say he liked it and tell us all “if you like this stuff, you’ll like it, too”.

As a gamer, however, I have been on the supportive side of a lot of vitriol against the man.  This is because in 2005 he took a ‘greater than thou’ stance against video games.  Not because of violence, or overt sexism, or even over-sexualization…but because he believed that video games are not and will not ever (he later modified to ‘not in this lifetime’) be art.

I think his opinion is incredibly faulty when you consider this…

abstract_art Weeping Woman 1937 by Pablo Picasso 1881-1973 warhols_campbell_soup_image_flickr-15112330_std

…to be art.  But not this…

FF 20100207_heavy_rain LC

And we’re just talking visually, let’s look at sound.  Movies have iconic music such as the Godfather, the Terminator, Lord of the Rings, Titanic, Indiana Jones, James Bond, etc.

But what about video games?  Listen to the Halo opening, FTL’s Milkyway theme (which I’ve been playing a bit of recently, BTW), Final Fantasy 8’s theme song for the Landing at Dollet, Assassin’s Creed III’s title theme.  And that’s not even including the classic games like Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Brothers, Mega Man, and Castlevania!

Especially considering Ebert felt that movies were art.  The same thing that in the early 1900’s was laughed at as a passing fad and writers and literary critics said that movies would never be considered art.

But that was just the start, calling games not a medium of art.  He went further when he defended his position and was asked whether or not he had ever even played a game to see their artistic significance.  His response?  “I’ve never found a game worthy of my time.”

He did later soften his stance and admit that he didn’t have enough experience with the medium to really consider any opposing views because he just had no interest in games to even research them.

Naturally even normally non-vocal gamers rose up in arms against Ebert, some going so far as to call for boycotts of his show, articles, and even appearances.  People wanted to see him fall!

But now?  Now he is dead…and gamers are sad.  We admit our differences of opinion and we lament the passing of a legendary movie critic.  We admit that ‘our’ boycott failed miserably because we valued his opinion on movies too much to ignore him.

This is, ironically enough, exactly why we were so mad about his flippant opinion.  Because it made our ‘art’ sound like some childish fascination, when really we are high-thinking individuals whose opinions and experienced should be valued and regarded just as equally and just as highly as a movie watcher.

That being said, it’s a sad loss for good criticism.  Not perfect criticism, because there’s no such thing.  But when it comes to movies…I know I’m probably going to be forced to watch a lot crappier movies without his advice to guide me in the right direction.


Syria’s Bloody Revolution

For those who are unaware, or ignoring, the issues in Syria.  This is a compilation of what’s going on there.  Syrians are protesting a tyrannical rule considerably worse than Moammar Qhadafi’s.  The leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad makes Moammar Qhadafi look like Big Bird.

Al-Assad has surrounded the 3rd largest city of Syria, Homs, with artillery, tanks, snipers, and a few army battalions.  The Syrian army, under al-Assad’s direct orders, are shooting unarmed civilians, including women, children, and the elderly.  They are also kidnapping, torturing, and murdering children from the homes of protestors.

Defectors from the Syrian Army have formed what they call the Free Syrian Army.  These soldiers abandon tanks and sneak inside the rebel-favored cities, such as Homs.  The FSA could badly use said tanks, but the Syrian Air Force bombs the defectors if they try to abscond with their armored artillery or tanks.

The FSA have limited ammunition and few good rifles.  They are fighting army snipers with small arms and black-market scope-less AK-47s.  They are fighting tanks with outdated rocket-propelled grenade launchers and hand grenades.

The international community (i.e. the U.N., USA, and E.U.) are ignoring the situation for the most part, at least militarily.  The rebel initiative of the FSA could be aided exponentially by simple things: Food, rifle scopes, ammunition, and medical supplies.

An $80 scope, $20 worth of canned food, and two $30 boxes of ammunition would be less than many people spend on presidential candidate donations, but would allow a single soldier of the FSA to stop a Syrian sniper from gunning down a handful of pregnant women.

Welcome to Syria bitches, another couple of years and the Second American Revolution will be looking like this.  Just wait for it.


Connecticut Christmas Fire

I’m rarely very topical (because I’m slow to post things, so I usually avoid severely topical issues), so by now you’ve probably already heard about the fire in Connecticut.  That’s a tragedy with lots of heroism from within the house.  Sometimes, though, heroism just isn’t enough.

Somebody placed fireplace embers in a trash can which caught fire and the house went up with it.  The mother escaped by leaping through a window onto scaffolding and when the fire department arrived she directed firefighters to where the sleeping children were located, on the third floor.

A man inside, a family friend, gathered up two of the children and headed downstairs to the second floor where the heat was too great to go further.  The three of them got separated and one of the children rushed back up stairs where she collapsed and perished in the fire, while the other child her elderly grandmother found her.  The grandmother and the other child also failed to make it out.  The man wasn’t able to find either child before being forced to make it out of the house, sadly alone.

The third child was found by her grandfather and they rushed to a window in the back.  The grandfather placed the child on a set of books and crawled out a window onto a back porch.  He then reached through the window to pull the girl out, but alas he was too weak at that point to save the girl.  The grandfather perished before he could get the child out and both of them perished in the window.

The fire was so great the firefighters were unable to remain in the house for long.  With all their equipment, they made it through two rooms on the third floor, and then were forced back by the flames.

Here’s CNN’s official report on it.

Certainly makes me want to put a battery in the smoke detector, I must admit.  I wonder if any lives could have been saved in that house by a fire alarm or a smoke detector, which the house lacked as it was under remodeling.


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