Monday, September 30, 2013

intrō...


As I eluded to quite some time ago, I've begun a writing project that has blossomed into what will eventually be a book.  Perhaps even a series of books... but let's not get ahead of ourselves.  It's a tale of a knight, during a nondiscript time period.   Perhaps in a land far-far away.  Fighting an evil that has spread throughout the realm.  I'd love some feedback about this excerpt from the introduction.  I will be performing this piece in an upcoming podcast to ..ahem..."practice".


Darkness...shadows...in the gloom of the silvery moonlight.  I watch.  I see the ruffian ants shuffling from here to fore, searching for the food and wealth to make their queen happy.  They drone on...looking only just ahead...in a stupor from the sweet nectar provided by their mother.  Intoxicated by it's pure beauty and unaware of their approaching end.  I count their numbers...seventeen...then plot my course.  How many before I am seen?  How many before they gather their wits?  How many before they retort to my wrath? The enclave they call home is an abandoned church, but Religion left this place long ago.  Now it knows only evil possession and the grip of hell.  I was made for retribution.

The time feels right.  I strike!  Leaping from the dark confines of my deceit, the alleyway across the street hides me no longer.  Soon I am amongst them; the two hammers of fury drawn and ready to pierce their putrid souls.  I will devour them and make them once more pure.   I was built to earn salvation.

Perhaps not.  The furthest of them sees me, his vantage point higher than the rest.  His cry of warning pierces the night just as I smash into the nearest of them.  No longer is surprise my consort.  This endeavor just became far more difficult.  The first three to the left bare their claws; like slashing knives that look to cut me down.  I rebuff their advances with a vicious burst from one of my two handguns, now morphed into something much more than a routine firearm.  Neither ammunition nor power will run short.  The .50 caliber shells punch holes in their chests where human hearts once ruled; now they pump only poison. Muzzle flash engulfs the air like dragon breath and the stench of death begins it's flow.  I keep firing to my left, killing one more, as the hellions gather to my right.  One leaps in to the air straining to gather height. His shape forecast in the outline of the moon behind, I parry to avoid his attack.  His skull is crushed below my steely boot before he struggles back to a defensible posture. I am the dealer of vengeance.

Five torn asunder.  Twelve plot the course of my journey to the shores of death.  It is fortuitous that these are no longer thinking men, because their numbers would prove advantageous.  The bulk of them is now amassed to the right and so I streak to my left, running near full speed,diagonally across their line.  I level the sights of the infernal goddesses unleashing unimaginable destruction upon them.  The barrage is constant, but aimed roughly because I am moving. Despite the heavy ammunition the blasts MUST be centered on the heart or the head.  Nothing less will do. The elixir that animates these malformed beasts also makes them resilient.  Their bones are heavily calcified.  Their musculature dense.  What they lack in sentient thought, they make up for in sheer strength.  I am stronger.  

The maelstrom of firepower lays siege upon them, felling seven more.  Five left to reclaim. These are different; more robust; able to withstand the rounds that have penetrated their skin.  Even head wounds have afflicted no discernible damage...at least not enough to kill.   I had heard rumors of this breed, designed by their maker to be unstoppable and imbued with greater abilities and wielding weapons the rest do not.  They are Rakshasa.  They will have to be dealt with in a more elegant manner.  My coat...which has merely billowed in the wind thus far hides my weapon of choice.  A blade of my own design and forged in the Japanese style from Tamahagane steel.  It is comprised of a softer inner core of steel wrapped in layers of increasingly harder outer cores.  My power infuses it with the ability to transform at my will to whatever shape or size I deem necessary.   The blade is polished and sharpened with a singular purpose...to cleave it's target efficiently and effectively.  I AM the blade.

The demons advance, the first wielding a blade of rusty iron.  Rust formed from the blood of the innocent.  His gruesome blade swings wildly at my head, but misses by that much space.  I draw my blade up and smash against his defense, simultaneously pushing against him towards his fiendish friends.  I push HARD and then stop short, throwing off his balance.  I swing with a flash through his legs, cutting him down to two thirds his size. The beast howls and for the first time I realize they DO know the fire of pain.  The four behind look on in surprise for loss is not their abode.  Their expressions teach me new things about these creatures, for I did not expect thought nor fear.  I am the source of their discontent. 





 


...birth of a Weapon.


Friday, September 27, 2013

...what monster within.


...let's discuss over a cup of coffee.


WARNING: TECHNOBABBLE AHEAD!!

I just wanted to introduce everyone to the blog's new commenting system.  It came to my attention that Blogger's Google+ integration, while seamless, limited the commenting abilities of casual visitors who were not Google+ subscribers.

As it IS my goal to open this forum to as many avenues as possible, I thought now would be a good time to experiment with a new commenting system.  Being that we are at but the opening fossa of this endeavor, I figured "Hey...why not?!".

Enter.... Disqus:

































If you are stopping in to check things out, I certainly do appreciate the visit.  It's my hope that you decide to follow this blog in one fashion or another.  Feel free to leave comments or criticisms on any post you wish. ...and please do subscribe to the podcast.  Episode 3 will be up by Monday!


.. the power resides in the name.


Not true in real life...but this be the Interweb! As such, we all know that any destination in this cosmos is best navigated to by an effective (and hopefully short) name.   To prove my point.  You may now navigate to this blog by navigating to:

www.PungentChicken.com



That is all.



Albo

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

...Brotherly Love


No.. this post is not about Philadelphia. As a point of fact, my experiences in that city have not been very favorable. ...but then, what kind of treatment can a guy from Jersey expect?  Still, they do know how to put together a good sammich!

I digress...this post is actually about Fantasy Football.  I'm only playing in one small league this year (13 Ronin running from Godzilla...hosted on Yahoo!), as opposed to the two or three leagues I usually partake of.  For the first time ever, I squared off against my brother in a head to head match up.  To add further intrigue, my fantasy team was being quarterbacked by Peyton Manning, who in turn squared off against HIS brother, Eli Manning.

Now, to be frank, as a New Jerseyite, I was torn.  Fantasy allegiance or loyalty to my hometown favorite New York Football Giants?  I am always a little torn when given this situation.  My policy is to never employ players from teams that I despise in real life.  No Eagles or Cowboys on my roster!  Still it is difficult to balance loyalty to a team that your actually a fan of, with a vested interest in the exact opposite result.  In this scenario, I was left little recourse..the Giants stank up the joint and Sir Peyton of Manning maintained his end of the bargain.

He didn't exactly set any records this week, but he did play consistently and with no turnovers (something that cannot be said of Eli). It was the kind of beating that most older brothers dish out on their little bro'. Dominant, but not enough to totally destroy the kid's ego. Hey..we all have to have someone we aspire to be like!  I hope this week's tilt against the Chokeland Raiders proves to be even more fruitful for the Broncos and the Giants need to turn the boat around against Carolina.

To my brother...whom I beat on the strength of the Seattle Seahawk's Defense:





Friday, September 13, 2013

...Admiral, there be whales here!


...excuse the obscure Star Trek reference.

It's no secret, I drive a lot.   I mean....A LOT.  It used to be that I would commute to and fore two (2) hours each way to work (heaven forbid there was an accident).  So I started entertaining ways to, well.. entertain myself.  At first it was music, but I got tired of that rather quickly.   Next was talk radio, but despite the subject matter (sports, politics, blah, blah, blah) I found my blood pressure elevating with each disagreement.

Then I happened upon literature.  No, I did not start reading while driving (though, I have witnessed others do that very thing whilst driving west on the 91 freeway in Southern California).  I decided to give audiobooks a try.   Mind you, there seems to be somewhat of a social stigma associated with audiobooks...at least, there used to be...but I decided that to give myself the type of mental freedom necessary after a loooong day of  building 401k plans, I needed something to take me to lala land, while concurrently allowing my brain to function (for driving purposes) at a near autonomic level.

Oh boy, did it work.  My very first prey...  The Harry Potter series of works.  J.K.Rowling created an entire mythology for us to live in and it literally jumped from it's "pages" into my mind.  I cannot express how engrossed I became in these books.  The narrative depicted by the movies is spectacular and they did a phenomenal job with casting every hero and villain, but the books provide such a granular history to the wizarding world's ethos, that any thought to not experience the books is a foolish one.

I'm excited to hear that Ms. Rowling has decided to help bring some additional prose to film.  It seems she penned two additional works associated with the Harry Potter lore, but not directly related to his story.
  
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them; A textbook really.  I believe it's one of the books that Harry first buys when he enrolls in Hogwarts.  It's kind of a catalog of most, if not all, the magical creatures of the realm.  I take it the movie adaptation will be centered around the adventures of it's fictional author, Newt Scamander.  Or is it fiction? 

The second work is Quidditch Through The Ages, though I don't have much detail about this book, I think it's safe to say that it will be a biopic on the famed sport of Quidditch. Perhaps there will be a James Potter cameo?

Suffice it to say... OMG.. THIS IS GOING TO BE SOOOO AWESOME!!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

...Four Arrows.


...it is September 12th, 2013


Four arrows drawn from our foe's quiver.
Set loose to pierce our fabric
and break our spirit near that river.

Three find their mark,
spilling blood and life with nary a thought.
Death dealt with abandon,
for what was said, we ourselves wrought.

We nearly fell...some truly did.
That sadness brought our furies.
...and in turn, it was our foe that hid.



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

... off come the covers!


WARNING:  TECHNOBABBLE AHEAD


The last few days have been interesting for technojunkies everywhere.  Apple, Inc. released it's newest iPhones, 5S and 5C, into the wild.  While the 5S packs additional punch to the iPhone arsenal, the 5C is a "budget" iPhone with a plastic (instead of aluminum) shell and largely the same guts as the iPhone 5.   Lifehacker has a nice post about the specifications of both new iPhones here.   For my part, I don't see a hardware-based justification to upgrade to the 5S, despite the new A7 processor.  The A6 does 95% percent of what I need it for, limited perhaps only by Apple, Inc. induced software limitations.

Which leads me neatly into my segue into the point of this post.  As the new hardware rolled out, Apple also announced the release date of it's new mobile operating system, iOS7.  Yesterday, they distributed to developers the "Golden Master" version of the software for final app-compatibility testing.  I've tested the betas of iOS7 on my old iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, but waited for the final version for my iPhone 5.

The Golden Master was good enough.  I backed up my iOS6.1.4 installation and updated to iOS7 GM last night...with some trepidation...but everything seems to be running fine.  The betas were also fruitful, so I did not expect problems, but who actually wants to brick their phone?   My official impressions are very positive.  All apps function as expected, the interface operates very smoothly with nice fade-in/fade-out transitions.   Every app, thus far, seems to open more quickly.  ...and there are evolutionary improvements to nearly all standard features (camera, safari, etc.).

..and thank you to the Apple "Geniuses", for incorporating the Yahoo! weather app as standard.  It seems like someone in Cupertino is actually paying attention.

Finally... the screenshots:

A new and updated Lock Screen with a cleaner look.






















Swiping up pulls up the Control Center with (finally) one-click control over features like wifi, bluetooth, etc.






















Swiping down brings you to an information screen with weather, calendar and call data.
 





















Swiping to unlock takes you to an improved Passcode screen. It's a slicker interface, somewhat reminiscent of screens seen on some Android phones.
 





















Getting the combo right leads to the pot-o-gold!  Immediately you'll notice the brighter interface with flat icons and crisper lines.






















Opening Safari will show you an improved interface as well with new sharing functions that allow you to share items with other iOS7 users via AirDrop or send to a number of Social Networks.
 





















 A cleaner calendar which by default gives you a weekly view. 






















 Improved multi-tasking that allows screen views instead of just icons. 






















 Swiping up will close unnecessary apps.






















I'll dig deeper into the inner workings as time allows, but so far ... two wings up!




Thursday, September 5, 2013

...of Mice and Men with a Wizard or Two thrown in for good measure!



Has it really been a month?  I haven't updated you on the happenings here in PungentChickenville in exactly one month.  Much has happened in that time, though I haven't been able to document it here or record the podcast in that time.  Now that my sabbatical is over, I'll be FULLSTEAMAHEAD!! on all fronts.

As I mentioned in the podcast, we took a vacation to the shores of Florida a couple of weeks ago to experience the wonderful theme parks of Disney and Universal Studios.  I have been there numerous times over the years, but my wife had never.  I've waxed on about the superiority of the Florida versions of the Disney parks forever and this was the prime opportunity to prove it (Hot & Humid weather notwithstanding).

Day 1 was spent at Universal Studios: Islands of Adventures.  Let me be clear... this was priority day for me. This IS the home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.... and there is no other like it in the world.  Albo must go here first.    ....and it did not disappoint!  Now, to be frank, this place is not a faithful reproduction of Hogwarts Castle or Diagon Alley or the little village of Hogsmeade, but it does evoke the spirit of the now mythical place.  We enjoyed Ollivander's Wand Shop, Honeyduke's Cellar and Zonko's Toy shop.  Lunch at the Three Broomsticks was great, with a helping of Roasted Chicken, Pork Ribs and vegetables aplenty for myself and three lunch companions. No sign of Madam Rosmerta, though...  Ron fancy's her.

A few pictures from my favorite theme park (edited for a little extra kick):