Game Review: “The Bureau: XCOM Declassified”

Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
Publisher
2K Games

The year is 1962, and in the midst of the Cold War, a new enemy has emerged in the form of alien invaders called the Zujari. With a covert military organization already in place to defend against an attack from the Russians, CIA special agent William Carter is recruited by the Bureau of Strategic Emergency Command and tasked with neutralizing the extraterrestrial threat without creating mass panic across the country. But while aliens and the 1960s seemingly go hand in hand, whether or not it makes for a great gaming experience is another question. Though “The Bureau: XCOM Declassified” looks pretty good for a title that’s been in development since 2006, it lacks the polish and quality that you’d expect from a studio like 2K Games.

Most of your time in the game is spent doing one of two things: going on field missions and running errands around Bureau HQ, the latter of which is mostly comprised of boring dialogue sequences that might not feel so laborious if any of it actually mattered. But despite a deceptively intricate storyline, most of the information you receive over the course of the campaign is supplemental at best, but generally just a big waste of time. Thankfully, the missions themselves are fun, although not incredibly difficult once you get a hang of things. Though there’s a bit of a learning curve at first (especially in regards to keeping your fellow agents alive), as your squad mates level up and receive increased health and new abilities, they become even more powerful than your enemies. Case in point: One of the big boss fights was practically over before I even had the chance to pull the trigger on my sweet alien grenade launcher.

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Drink of the Week: The Clover Club (The Rasp-Wiki Take)

The Clover Club (again). If you have a deep aversion to déjà vu, I advise you to take a break from today’s and, yes, next week’s posts. (I haven’t decided yet about the week after that!)

You see, I’ve always been fascinated by how seemingly very small changes in cocktails can make very big differences. I also was, to be honest, fairly embarrassed to find out at close to the last minute last week that the Clover Club recipes I got from two bonafide cocktail book classics, Harry Craddock’s prohibition era Savoy Cocktail Book and Robert Hess’s vastly more recent The Essential Cocktail Guide, could be seen as  minority takes on the drink.

It turned out that most of the presumably classic recipes I found online, such as the one featured on Wikipedia, suggested rather strongly that raspberry syrup, not grenadine, was the default sweetener/pinker-upper for this refreshing, too little known cocktail treat. I basically had to try this version out, and so we have today’s pinker, tangier take on the Clover Club.

What’s the difference between a little grenadine or a little raspberry syrup? I’ll tell you on the flip side.

The Clover Club (the Rasp-Wiki Take)

1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2-3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 egg white
1/4 ounce raspberry syrup

Once again, we combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, sans ice. Once again, we shake the luke-cool concoction to properly emulsify the egg. Once that’s done, we add some ice and shake again, very vigorously, to add much needed ice water to the mix. Then, it’s naturally time to strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass. Our toast? How about to second (and third) chances?

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So, which is better, the grenadine or the raspberry syrup iteration? If I had to choose, I think I’d go with last week’s grenadine. This raspberry adds a delightful tang I really enjoyed, but it was less sturdy in the sense it doesn’t really stand up to as much variation. Last week, I found my favorite version employed 3/4 of an ounce of lime juice although (a bit less) lemon juice was just fine. This time around, I’m counseling readers to skip the lime completely. For me at least, it just didn’t work. Lime juice has some additional flavors that just don’t blend with the raspberry.

My favorite version of this drink, however, did use the entire 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, which I suppose is odd given my tart-phobia. I’m guessing there’s something about the dryness of the lemon juice blending with the tangier raspberry-derived flavor. Ultimately, it’s a mystery.

And, speaking of mysteries, yes, will be trying another ever-so-slight variation of this week’s beverage next week. Next time around, we introduce something entirely new…a garnish! Stay tuned.

  

Movie Review: “You’re Next”

Starring
Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Joe Swanberg
Director
Adam Wingard

When a movie has been stuck on the proverbial shelf for as long as “You’re Next” has, it usually doesn’t speak well of the film’s quality. But in the case of Adam Wingard’s home invasion thriller, it’s actually quite the opposite. After debuting to rave reviews in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival, “You’re Next” was quickly scooped up by Lionsgate, only to be placed on the back burner for two years while the studio completed its merger with Summit Entertainment. During that time, the movie gained even more buzz on the festival circuit, and for the most part, the hype is justified. It’s not exactly an instant classic, but “You’re Next” is a horror movie lover’s treat that embraces as many genre tropes as it subverts.

The Davison clan has gathered at an isolated vacation home in the country for the weekend to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their waspy parents (Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton), and they’ve all brought along their significant others for support. It’s been a long time since the entire family has been together under the same roof, and it immediately becomes clear that Crispin (AJ Bowen) and his siblings don’t get along. But when they’re suddenly attacked one night in the middle of dinner, the family learns that they’ve been targeted by a gang of deadly intruders wearing creepy animal masks. As the houseguests are murdered one by one, Crispin’s girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) surprises everyone – including the intruders – when she begins to fight back, proving that she’s the most dangerous of them all.

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John McEnroe Partners with Dove + Men’s Care for 2013 ING New York City Marathon

Dove John McEnroe

Thomas Edison famously said, “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” If tennis legend John McEnroe and Dove Men’s + Care have their way, those numbers will be 100% inspiration and 0% perspiration, particularly at this year’s 2013 New York City Marathon.

McEnroe is serving as “Anti-Irritation” coach to the Dove Men+Care Marathon team, a group of five runners that elected to run with 48-hour anti-irritation protection on their side. The best part is, readers can enter DOVE’s contest to run the marathon and occupy the team’s two final spots!

Johnny Mac will be ready to chide, deride and humiliate the members of DOVE Men + Care 2013 NYC Marathon team and you could potentially be dehumanized by the most historically significant US tennis player of all-time.

“With me being the irritable type, the product we’re working with at DOVE  made sense,” he said in a recent interview.

John only wants the best for you, and his level of apparent irritation as he trails you with a bullhorn is only spewed at that sad-sack that you refer to as a “body” because he’s irritated; irritated at inferior men’s skin cleaning products.

“I know a thing or two about irritation and I am giving these guys tips so they can make it to the final mile without any distractions,” says McEnroe.

While Dove Men+Care Antiperspirant/Deodorant has anti-irritating underarm care covered, McEnroe is tackling physical and emotional irritation on the road, starting with a series of humorous shorts:

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Exercises you haven’t done but probably should, Part Two

couple_03

Ask anyone who’s been in the iron game that’s had any type of success and they’ll tell you, “stick to the basics and don’t try and reinvent the wheel.” I couldn’t agree more from a coach/competitor stand point. However, one needs to throw a wrench in their workouts in order to prevent or break through plateaus. Variation is a universal principle that, when applied correctly, can yield incredible results.

One of the most obvious and easiest ways to add variation is to incorporate different exercises into one’s program. Following the first installment in the series, here’s another list of recommended exercises that I’ve rarely seen used.

Band push-ups

Even though training with bands has been around for a while, and used successfully in conjunction with strength training and power lifting, most people who weight train have never been exposed to, let alone used, this outstanding tool.

The laws of physics dictate the specific characteristics of strength curves while performing exercises. The force of movement is more or less dependent on the joint angle during an exercise. For example, in the barbell squat, you may be able to quarter squat 500 pounds, but can only full squat, ass to the floor, 300 pounds. Another common example is the exercise I’m highlighting today: the band push-up. The force at the top of the movement is much greater than the force at the bottom.

Push-ups-with-bands

In a nutshell, bands work by applying more resistance where you’re strong and less where you’re weak. Bands accommodate that natural strength curve; this type of training is referred to as accommodating resistance. Researchers addressed strength curves in training as early as 1900 by putting a cam on selectorized machines. The cam on these machines is what accommodates the ability to apply force according to the strength curve. Nautilus equipment is a prime example of this type of equipment.

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