June 12 Can’t Come Fast Enough

To prepare for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, ESPN is doing a very nice job at covering every team until the tournament begins (32 Teams in 32 Days). Additionally, some cool, specialized artwork has been created for every team (you can see all of them here) and I’ve added some of my favorites below. The teams I’m rooting for, in no particular order: Italy, because I’m an Italian and and have greasy hair.  The Netherlands because I like their style of play and because they win the prize for brightest color in the tournament.  America, because, well….I live in America and the poster features a guy who looks like me (a bald tough guy). Can’t forget France, because I didn’t think it was possible to make French people look so intimidating.

 

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Italian Side Quest- Israel

Kick ass hummus

(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it.

Moving on from Italy I decided to head to another country that begins with an I.  ISRAEL!!  Luckily I have some friends there who I had visited over Christmas and since I was already in the neighborhood I thought I’d take a little trip back to the Promised Land.  Though this time, getting into the country was a little more difficult.

My first attempt was through Israir with an 11:55 PM flight.  I got there two hours early as per international travel protocol but two hours wasn’t enough.  If you’re heading to Israel, protocols state you have to arrive three hours early. Whoops.  After an hour of trying to get on the plane while being asked a series of outlandish security questions I was told I would not be getting on this flight and to try again tomorrow.  How outlandish, you ask? Well, it was to the point where security read  my Facebook messages and looked at my bank account to make sure that I was in fact a public school teacher and not lying about my profession.  The situation wasn’t helped when security noticed I told me friend that I would shave before the flight; This prompted a new round of questions about why I would want to shave.

Acre – Seat town close to Tel Aviv

I decide to go home and sleep at my friend’s house and try again the next day through El Al.  I get there three-and-a-half hours early, just in time for the fun to really start.  I get yanked out of line by security again, this time though I get the pleasure of a tiny room all to myself  for the next three hours.  I was told that my bags would not be allowed on board with me and that I would have to submit to a full body search.  Naturally I just comply and don’t make a fuss because I have nothing to hide (ed note: yeah right).  When all was said and done I was escorted to my seat with a few minutes to spare and and only after the seat-belt was around my waist did airport security leave my by myself. As you can imagine, a great experience.

Upon my arrival to Tel Aviv I was told to go to lost and found and file a missing luggage report.  I was given a very nice tote bag with a shirt, shorts, socks and various toiletries (ed. note: Score!!).  My luggage finally did arrive… two days before I was set to leave.  All that nonsense aside, once in Israel my time I had a crazy, exhilarating, exhausting time. From floating in the Dead Sea, side trips to Acre & Jerusalem, and culminating with a Dark Knight Rises showing (which surprisingly had an intermission), Italy and Israel really knocked me on my ass.  Though welcoming me home is none other than……..ACE FREHLEY. I LOVE YOU ACE!!!!

Enjoy the photos!!

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Italian Side-Quest: Milan

(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it.

Taking a break form the chaos of Rome I decided to head up to Milan for a few days.  Arriving in Milan you get the feeling of organization that is usually (read: always) lacking in Rome.  The trains run on time, the streets are clean, and it’s a much more classier set of people.  Granted some shops still close on Wednesday for no reason but am I really upset that the  Prada, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Feragamo, Alexander McQueen, and two, count ’em, TWO Dolce and Gabana stores are closed whilst window shopping?  The city center is much smaller than Rome’s and I found three days to be absolutely perfect. While traveling I met two brothers who have lived in Milan their entire lives but had spent time in Reno, Chicago, and Fort Lauderdale.  I also found a self cleaning toilet and an Italian book store that had a comics section.  And by comic section I mean an issue of Rat-Man all by its lonesome and a shelf of Dylan Dog comics. YO WHAT UP RAT-MAN!!

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Vive Italia!

(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it.

So every summer in Rome, on the island that sits on the Tiber River (which runs through Rome, actually) there’s aseason long festival filled with shops, restaurants, bars, and copious amounts of Italian men trying to mack it to gorgeous Italian women.  Being the clever fellow I am, I went to the spot that I knew for sure would have the flyest, breeziest Ialian babes…and found some video games to play instead. In the back corner on an upper part of the level I found a section with old games called, imaginatively enough, Area Retrogames

An intriguing scrap.
One of the games that was available to play to any rando that walked in was the delightfully terrible Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Do you remember that game? If you don’t, I can’t say that you’re missing out on any sort of keystone of video game history. Nevertheless, I was here, I’ve found it and now I’m going to play it.

A handsomely terrifying visage

The Blur

PURE ECSTASY! Wow…the Playstation was cutting edge back when I was in college..I think it’s currently considered cutting edge in Italy.


Game onThe banner to the side of me is advertising a video game museum that’s set to open on October 20th and it is called VIGAMUS. Sadly I’ll be long gone by then. Longshot, sure, but if you’re in Italy in October, check it out! File a report!

Buonanotte e buona serata!

How I Would Improve EA Sports NHL ’13

(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it.

Every year sports games try to add innovation to keep their titles fresh, something innovative and interesting to play. I’ve been playing the EA NHL games for the last three years but I think this is the installment I skip, even with the improvements they’ve made to  Hockey IQ (via Digital Trends).

Look, I’m a HUGE hockey fan whose always looking to see the game itself improve alongside the game franchise.  Every year the new version of NHL is one of the games I’m most interested in playing.  However, during these past few years I have found myself getting more and more frustrated keeping up with the strategy it takes to play these games.  Even though the playbooks, general controls and strategies of the Madden franchise are much more complex, I am more familiar with the sport and can hold my own against both  computer & online opponents.  NHL is the complete opposite. If the game’s complexity keeps rising and even avid fans can’t play it anymore, who are these games for?

Now I understand that these games are more and more being made for the die-hard fans of the sport and the series.  You would think that, by my earlier description, that would be me.  Yet it’s not.  Then when EA swings the other way, like they did with Madden 11, it’s equally terrible. EA tried to make the game more for casual gamers and it actually ruined the experience for me because the game was way too easy, incredibly unrealistic, and the online scores were in the range of almost 100 points between both players. The dilemma for EA is how do they straddle those two worlds, between the diehards & hardcore and the casual, “Hey, I used to play NFL Blitz” crowds? Judging by their recent releases, I’d say that the casual gamer is being left in the dust with nary a look book.  Forget it Jake, it’s just videogame sportstown.

I Came, I Saw, I Played Sonic and Knuckles.

(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it.)

Buongiorno readers! I’m in Italy for the summer but in between slowly sweating to death in the unforgiving sun & dodging erratic motorinos driven by feral Italians I’ll try to find some interesting & relevant bits about the gaming & comic culture here in Roma.  Only being here a day or so but I was able to find this funky quasi arcade sporting some very current titles, including the previously mentioned Sonic & Knuckles.  Which, seeing as how it was released in 1994, puts Italy only about 18 years behind the curve, gaming wise.  Do they even know that a major franchise has based several AAA-titles on exploits of their (imaginary & not-so imaginary) countrymen? I’m going to have to go with a big ol’ niente.  

latest & greatest

Roman Holiday

(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it. This is the first.)

Due to my traveling schedule, my comic book thoughts have been delayed.  The best part of traveling is spending all those  hours on planes and trains (and automobiles?). Since I’m always on the move, I save all the comics I want to read for just those occasions. I’ve  just touched down in Rome to teach English at a day camp, which hopefully won’t take up my entire days, leaving me ample opportunities to get the goods, sit in a nice piazza and read away.

The beginning of my trip was fairly auspicious, what with the airline losing my luggage and me being stuck wearing the same thing for three days in the Roman heat.  Ignore anyone who says different, the heat is what caused the downfall of the Roman Empire. After watching 21 Jump street many,many times (ed. note: C-Tates!!) to pass the time but I am now settled with comics in hand!!!  When in Italy….start with the comic that deals with Italians…….

Dancer #2 – Still enjoying the story but for some reason I cannot get into the art work.

Astonishing X-Men #51 – For a comic book issue that is supposed to touch on one of the hottest topics in society, this issue was not as nearly as exciting or edge of your seat as I’d have thought.  I understand that a wedding is much more different from a huge battle among superheros but the writing seemed a bit too “do it for the sake of doing it to get it over”.  The art was not very captivating (Is Wolverine supposed to look like Elvis?) and what was the deal with Warbird? Has she always had these feelings or is this something they just threw in to cover all sides of the gay marriage spectrum.  Just seemed a little out-of-place.  This book did very little to keep me entertained and interested.

The Crow #1 – As a kid, there wasn’t a movie I was more obsessed with than The Crow.  Brandon Lee’s death, the soundtrack, the story, something about all of that just hit me at the right time and it  just became my everything.   God only knows the amount of posters and pictures I had on my wall (God: You had 36). I don’t think I ever saw City of Angels,  nor did I ever really care to.  However, sic transit gloria. The obsession was gone…until I saw this comic at which point all of those memories came roaring back.  I think this is a great opportunity to go back, revisit the comics and maybe look at these comics & the movie from a different perspective, maybe try to figure out why they had such a hold on me as a teenager.  As I started reading this I was trying to compare every page and every panel to the movie, which was ultimately frustrating because almost nothing was similar.  It wasn’t until the last two pages where the connection happened and the AAAHHH moment hit me.  The main character is in the wrong place, wrong time scenario and the quest for revenge begins.  I’m definitely going to read the next issue and am honestly hoping that it continues to hold my interest.