Category Archives: Adventure Writer Favorite

A Frog, Food, and Cajun Culture: A Trip to Louisiana

Originally posted on my Contingency Writer’s Blog

I arrived home at about midnight this morning after a 10-day trip in Louisiana. The primary reasons for my visit were to see family, and to work on a romance novel and the third Detective Games entry; although it became a great deal more.

Instead of a linear progression for this blog post, I’d like to try out bullet points!

  • I tried my hand… er, legs, at Irish dancing. My cousins had been Irish dancing for years, and I had come along to support them. Their instructor welcomed me to join in as well. My fencing instructor had always said I should go dancing, and about a year apart from his remarks, I was clumsily thumping across a multipurpose ballet studio.
  • Trekking through Jean Lafitte National Park, I wished I had first put on some bug spray, with the presence of a multitude of mosquitos. But the beauty of the marsh and swamplands were incredible, and afforded the opportunity for many pictures.
A tiny tree frog

A tiny tree frog

A young alligator surfaces near a walkway

A young alligator surfaces near a walkway

  • We visited Destrehan Plantation and took a tour of the grounds, with its grand trees covered in Spanish moss, and learnt of the vast history, including the day to day lives of the household owners and the enslaved, as well as the construction process and architectural functions. At the end, a blacksmith with a heavy cajun accent, demonstrated the use of his forge.
  • The food. Oh boy, the food. The delicious simplicity of red beans and rice, messy po’ boys, savory gumbo and jambalaya, fun flavors with stuffed snowballs, and the mandatory beignets (from Café du Monde) I had to have on a daily basis.
DSCN1373]

Beignets and powdered sugar! Yum!

Savory gumbo!

Savory gumbo!

  • The French Quarter was a fun experience, with sights to see, a banana smoothie in hand, and trinkets to be had in the market.
DSCN1329

The Jackson equestrian statue

The Avengers (2012): Movie Review

Marvel’s The Avengers is a box office hit, topping The Dark Knight’s midnight premier

The Avengers (2012 film)

The Avengers (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

records and emerging as #1 opening weekend at $207,438,708 [1] in the United States and Canada alone. However, is this highly acclaimed film worth the hype? Or is it simply another blockbuster blown out of proportion? Even many of the staunchest critics agree – The Avengers is a superhero masterpiece.

Incorporating elements from the previous films, The Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man II, Thor, and Captain America, The Avengers embodies a fantastic medley of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and villains, all the while, paving the way for the next installments. It is highly comedic and intensely action-packed, superior to the Transformers series which attempts a similar plot-line in Dark of the Moon.

The Avengers opens up with a most ominous, alien voice, rambling on about some plot which entails the power-hungry Loki, banished of Asgard, like something produced by Garage Band’s “deeper vocals” voice modifier. Following this singular introduction, we find SHIELD agents and scientists (some from Thor) working diligently at unlocking the secrets of the divine Tesseract, a source of seemingly ultimate and limitless power. Albeit, as one might expect of the suspenseful setting, their experimentation goes terribly wrong. The Asgardian device suddenly reacts with a violent burst of light and generates a portal, which may be likened to the destructive force which presumably annihilated the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, sending forth the vengeful Loki who is bent on conquering Earth with an army given him in return for the Tesseract. The available SHIELD agents surround the self-proclaimed “god,” albeit are disposed of by a few blasts of Loki’s newly acquired staff. Nick Fury arrives on the scene, shooting a few rounds in vain, whilst Loki uses his staff to mind-control the mercenary Hawkeye and Dr. Erik Selvig to aid in his escape. The next few moments are without respite – the SHIELD complex sinks underground, collapsing inward as a maelstrom, due to the effects of the Tesseract. Fury and company give chase, although lose their quarry and are forced to flee.

On less dramatic grounds, fan-favorite Tony Stark and his girlfriend Pepper Pots, are debating who deserves the most credit for Stark Tower – a top of the line, self-sufficient complex inspired by the reactor core. Amusing quarrel aside, SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson -promptly arrives with a briefing for Iron Man, in preparation for the “Avengers Initiative” – it would appear the world is once again in peril and only the aforementioned team of heroes can save it.

In another part of the world, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), after dispatching with a Russian general, is sent to extract Dr. Bruce Banner (The Hulk), and Director Fury introduces Steve Rogers (Captain America) to the Initiative. The team slowly comes together as the peril grows greater, and there is much dissonance among the members, as they fight to recapture Loki, and then amongst themselves (Thor vs. Captain America & Iron Man) to retain him. All the while, the preparations for Loki’s army is nearly complete… will the team be able to come together and save the world, or will the alien apocalypse fall upon them?

The Avengers is a barrel of fun, with enough intrigue to keep the audience guessing until the end and a good portion of comedy to provide the necessary balance. It introduces [to the series] the developmental process of a team, rather than a single protagonist. The villain is likewise in control of a massive army and it is evident another power is pulling the strings at the start, adding depth. In this way, it separates itself from its superhero predecessors outside of the animated realm, attaining the claim by some that it is “the best superhero movie ever.”

Family Perspective

This time around, the violence gets a little bloody, with the death of a great number of characters (as opposed to those scenes which are given little reflection), some more evident than others which are merely suggested.

Language is fairly minimal, albeit a few curse words are used in the course of the film.

Natasha Romanoff, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, remains a source of eye-candy, albeit not as overt in as in the Iron Man films and much more of an independent protagonist. Her top, during the Russian interrogation, is low cut and gratuitous during fighting scenes, yet the “buck stops there” so to speak, in that the female form is not exploited for the vast remainder of the film (note: at the beginning, Pepper Pots wears “short-shorts,” she, however, plays a minor role in the film and takes up only a small fraction of screen time), aside from the skin tight suits.

The Avengers is better suited to teen and adult audiences, especially on account of much more mature conceptions and visuals.

Notable Quotations

“Earth’s mightiest heroes type-thing. / Yeah. Takes us awhile to get any traction, I’ll give you that one. But let’s do a headcount here. Your brother the demigod, the super soldier living legend who kind of lives up to the legend, a man with breathtaking anger management issues, a couple of master assassins, and you, big fella, have managed to [anger] every single one of them.” -Tony Stark to Loki

“You miss the point, there’s no throne. No version of this where you come on top.” -Tony Stark to Loki

“I’m in the middle of an interrogation, this moron is giving me everything.” -Black Widow

“I’m bringing the party to you. | I don’t see how that’s a party.” Iron Man | Black Widow

“How desperate are you? You call on such lost creatures to defend you. / It burns you to have come so close. To have the tesseract, to have power – unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all mankind to share, and then to be reminded of what real power is.” -Loki

“Well, let me know if real power wants a magazine or something.” -Nick Fury

Christian Perspective

The Avengers delves deep into what it means to be a hero, as clashing egos and selfish motives are put aside for teamwork and integrity.

Captain America, Steve Rogers, stands for traditionalist, Christian America, when, after a remark is made about Loki and Thor’s “godhood,” retorts “I mean no disrespect ma’am, but there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that!” All the while calling for team to unite and realize their duty.

References are made to the macro-evolutionary theory, as Loki jokingly states he had thought “humans were more evolved” than they were behaving. Loki, furthermore, observes the depravity of man and the hopeless nature therein (without a remedy).

Caisleán: The Castle of the Pond

DSC00408 (PNG Image)

This is one of the most beautiful captures I made in Ireland and with which I must have had my quality settings aright (contrarily, when I did not, my photographs required graphics editing, whereas this composition needed no tampering). Ireland is a truly fantastic country, and it is no wonder why such a number of renowned poets and artists emerged therein.

Passion: White Flag [Deluxe Edition] (Music Review)


Official Album Cover (Amazon)

Passion: White Flag is the latest installment from the Passion music series, recorded live at Passion 2012, and debuting commercially March 9th, 2012. During its first day, it climbed to the top of the Gospel Christian charts and achieved a high ranking overall.

It is a thoroughly diverse album, featuring the talents of such artists as Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, and the recently retired David Crowder Band who made their last performance at the live event. Boasting [in Christ] an incredible seventeen songs, four videos (including a sermon by GA Pastor & Passion Pres. Louie Giglio), and song booklet –  the deluxe edition is certainly the best deal financially and in terms of quality content.

Its tone is vibrant – full of energy and passion. Its lyrics are not watered down, but beautiful, powerful, and pertinent. A common thread of surrender [and conformation] to Christ unites the album, hence the name, White Flag. 

The full content list reads as follows:

» Not Ashamed (feat. Kristian Stanfill)
» White Flag (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Jesus, Son of God (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» How I Love You (feat. Christy Nockels)
» All This Glory (feat. David Crowder)
» Lay Me Down (feat. Christy Nockels)
» You Revive Me (feat. Christy Nockels)
» One Thing Remains (feat. Christian Stanfill)
» Yahweh (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Sing Along (feat. Christy Nockels)
» The Only One (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Mystery (feat. Charlie Hall)
» 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord - feat. Matt Redman)
» No Turning Back (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Let Me Feel You Shine (feat. David Crowder Band)
» Who You Are (feat. Kristian Stanfill)
» Jesus, All in All (feat. Charlie Hall)
» Twenty Seven Million (feat. Matt Redman & LZ7)
» How Great Is Our God (World Edition - feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Fearless (Passion 2012 Talk - Louie Giglio)
» Passion 2012 Slideshow
» Digital Booklet

The Adventure Writer’s Blog Rating:

10/10 - Quality, diverse content with something for everyone.
iTunes Music Review (PNG)

Brief Review Summary on iTunes

Le Beau Port de Normandie (et amis): Memory Lane

One of my favorite photographs was one I took at a Normandy port. I first posted it on this blog on Oct. 22nd, 2010 shortly after arriving back on American shores. Since very few people were viewing my blog at that time, and moreover would be a pain to search through my never-ending archives I have decided to “bring it back into the light,” as well as a few others.

These photographs were originally posted when I had abundant space on my blog and posted images in full resolution, therefore you may note they have the potential of greater loading times.

Normandy Harbor

While at this beautiful Normandy harbor, we stopped for a bite to eat at a local seafood restaurant. While there, I had a (featured a few days ago on this blog) fantastic plate of fresh lobster that was likely caught that morning.

Soleil Rouge

A striking blend of various purples, pinks, whites, and violets! This flower stood out quite distinctly (on behalf of its vibrancy) among its kin in Monet's Garden.

Stars in a Black Sky

"What are these? I really have no idea." I had a knack for captions in '10, I did (tone dripping in sarcasm). In my travels, I paid a visit to the second-largest capitol building in the United States (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska_State_Capitol), that of Lincoln, Nebraska. There was a tremendous view from atop it, which if you'll scroll down to the next picture, you'll be able to enjoy.

A Look From Above

One may find an astounding view from atop the United States' second-largest capitol building. Although I'm sure the view from atop the Tour de Eiffel is a tad more beau.

A Storm Is Brewing

On one side, there's a beautiful sunset. However, on the flip side... there's something much more menacing brewing.

Grasshopper

The caption I originally had for this picture was... well, amusing at best. I found this grasshopper on a warm summer day when it was time to provide the plants with a "watery reprieve."

Spinach-Fruit Juice

Oh the terror! Oh the horror! Wait... it's actually quite delicious! A mix of frozen bananas, blueberries, strawberries, and spinach - all you taste is the fruit!

On the original post, I even posted a recipe:

Regardless of the captions (albeit I changed the captions) this drink actually isn’t half bad. Tastes more like a strawberry-banana smoothie, than an intimidating vegetable concoction.

Curious?

Ingredients:
  1. 3 Frozen Strawberries
  2. 2 Frozen Bananas
  3. 3 Handfuls of Fresh Spinach
  4. 1 Handful of  Blueberries
  5. 1 Cup of Water
  6. Combine ingredients in blender, mix well.
12 26 15

PF Chang's egg drop soup is utterly magnificent - with its green peppers, chunks of delicious egg... this photograph is from the time where I'd photograph just about anything.

Le Notre Dame de Paris

Our Lady of Paris - the one, but not the only, Notre Dame!

 

 

 

 

Historical Artifact or Modern Artifice?

As you may stipulate from my previous works, this is indeed the latter entitlement – a modern artifice. The original photograph of this bunker was taken during October 2010 (of which I am the photographer), and adjusted to appear much older than it really is.

For once, you can figure out how I did it!

On one side you’ll see the photograph in question, on the other is the color / effects manager of iMac’s Preview application. As one of Sherlock Holmes’ deductive observations, it does not appear as impressive a work when you realize how it was created so simply. Elementary!

It's an artifice all right. The photograph was taken of a WWII bunker in Normandy, France (as usual).

A similar effect was applied to my photograph of an old fashioned cash register, though with the addition of sepia tone and some other various tweaking’s.

Kansas City Photography-AW[RZ]

This is an interesting graphic I developed using a photograph I captured in Kansas City. I attempted to turn the very modern and colorful image into an older rendition of itself.

Jolly good show? Why not try it out yourself?

Nearly any graphics program will do – all you need is a suitable photograph.

For now, adieu – it would seem lunch is calling.

-Adventure Writer’s Blog

Steady Progress on The House of Silk

I am making steady progress in my reading of the House of Silk, and I must say, I am thoroughly impressed! Horowitz has effectively utilized a vast majority of Doyle’s signature tools (characters, resources of language, plot/case outline, etc.) and thus produced a very nostalgic and thoroughly suspenseful novel. As I read, I am making notes of various plot points to include on Wikipedia and my review of the story here, below is what I have contrived thus far (my Wikipedia version is slightly altered):

The House of Silk begins with a brief, personal recounting of events by Watson, much like the Study in Scarlet by the original author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The reader is informed of the particulars regarding the first meeting of Watson and Holmes, including the circumstances of the Afghan War which were inexplicably tied therein. In this we have the prologue, and once the first chapter begins, we are hot on the case. At the start of the first chapter, it is discovered that due to certain unknown circumstances other than the departure of Watson’s wife, Mary (Morston, in The Sign of Four), Watson has returned to board with Holmes, the latter being quite pleased with the reunion, after having little correspondance due to the family life of Watson. Holmes’ proceeds to unravel these unknown circumstances forthwith, deducing that Watson’s wife has left, accompanied with their child [Richard Forrester] (who is sick with influenza) to seek care from Mrs. Cecil Forrester (another prominent figure in the Sign of Four, and the boy’s governess). Shortly thereafter, with an example of Holmes’ ‘deductive powers’ made, the client of the The Flat Cap case is introduced. He is a man by the name of Edmund Carstairs, an art dealer who has come upon unfortunate circumstances. A year after his return to America, he finds himself being stalked by a man in a flat cap, characteristic of an infamous Irish gang. He proceeds to tell Holmes of the events which first led to his acquaintance with the man – he had come to America after a train robbery and destruction therein had destroyed paintings which were to be sent on request of a wealthy client. The gang responsible were based in Botson, led by two Irish twins, Rourke (muscular and assertive) and Keelan (pale, frail, and possible mastermind) O’Donaghue wearing distinct flat caps (thus the name of the gang), and had destroyed the paintings by way of setting charges to one of the train cars containing numerous English pound notes. Mr. Carstairs, with the full financial backing of his wealthy client, proceed to hire a private detective by the name of Bill McParland. The detective soon locates the hideout of the gang and their discovery results in a fierce firefight in which all but one of the gang perishes. As the sole survivor, Keelan O’Donaghue allegedly enacts his revenge by tracking down Carstairs more than a year after the instant, watches his every movement, and supposedly robs of his household a pearl necklace and a few pound notes.

Adventure Writer's Blog: House of Silk Summary (Prologue, Ch. 1 - 2.5)
Fun Fact:  In Chapter one there is some mention of Dupin, a character 
developed by the late Edgar Allen Poe,  and his ability to make astounding
deductions based on visible emotions reflected through the physical medium. 
Holmes demonstrates this by uncovering Watson's anxiety and the source 
thereof.

Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program: Claim your Games!

On Monday, September 1st, Nintendo made available the first ten NES games in the 3DS Ambassador Program.

The titles include:

  • Ambassador Certificate (an introductory video)
  • Ice Climber
  • Zelda II
  • Yoshi
  • Balloon Fight
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • NES Open Tournament Golf
  • Metroid
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Wrecking Crew
  • Super Mario Bros.
To claim these titles, simply follow the instruction below:
  • Before you begin, you’ll need to be within reach of a Wi-Fi hotspot or Wireless Internet (such as produced by Netgear appliances) signal.
  1. Tap on Nintendo eShop and wait for it to load.
  2. Once loaded, navigate to the far left corner of your options, until you reach Settings / Other.
  3. Select Settings / Other.
  4. Scroll down until you spot “Your Downloads,” tap it.
  5. Scroll down until you see the titles listed above, tap “Redownload” on a title of your choice.
  6. Repeat this process until you have downloaded all the available titles. The titles will be transferred to your 3DS main menu where you may access them at any time.
Each of these titles were produced before the year 2000, and may easily be considered “classic games.” There is little instructions for new players, and you are expected to figure out things on your own – such is the way of the classics.
To receive continual updates regarding the Ambassador Program, be sure to download the Ambassador’s Certificate and activate SpotPass.

The Only Remedy

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, Oil on canvas

Image via Wikipedia

I often find myself looking over the Book of Romans, particularly at Chapter 7 – it’s amazing how quick I can forget the most important detail, and only to “discover” it again with a greater revelation than the previous. Paul, the guided author of this book, is a man who previously lived engulfed in sin. He was previously a high-standing Jewish church official, with great authority and power, born with the name of Saul. Throughout his life he persecuted the early Christian body, watching martyrs fall to the ground with a stone cold heart, likely believing himself to be the right hand of justice and the vessel of providence. He soon discovered however, that he was sorely mistaken. While on a journey to persecute more Christians, he was blinded by light from the heavens, and in a moment of overwhelming fear and awe, Saul heard the voice of God [Read1]. From this point on Saul would become Paul, a passionate Christian man till’ martyrdom, after which he resumed his life in the presence of his Savior.
It is this same man, readily acquainted with sin, that writes:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[b] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[c] a slave to the law of sin.

-Romans 7:15-25 (Read Context)

When selfishness, pride, and envy – enemies of love – enter in, I find myself wondering how to escape the seemingly inescapable bonds that hold to me so tightly. The answer is a simple and awesome one: Jesus Christ. 

The Characteristics of Love: Quote of the Week

The Greatest Gift

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

-I Corinthians 13 (NKJV)