Unbelievable 30 Facts about Google you didn't know - Google Facts

( Tam Ga news.c10mt.com ) Khong the tin noi 30 Facts ve Google ma ban chua biet. Unbelievable 30 Facts about Google you didn't know - Google Facts

Unbelievable 30 Facts about Google you didn't know - Google Facts news.c10mt.com


Diving with my Family at Racha Yai Island

So, in case you don't know .. I am manager at Sunrise Divers in Phuket, and have been doing this almost non stop since 2001. It's my job, it pays the bills, pays the kids school, puts food on the table etc. Blogging is just a fun hobby. I came to Phuket in 1999 as a dive instructor looking for work. Found some work. No real plans to stay forever, but then I met my wife who was working in the same dive shop and, well, here we are! You can find a little more on the About Jamie page on this blog! I don't dive much these days, but have logged about 1,500 dives over the years. My wife is a certified diver too and is a very relaxed diver. My daughter has done some little scuba try outs in the pool. My son just turned 10 this year and officially you should not allow kids under 10 to scuba dive, so we were waiting ... And at the end of April we found a free day, the weather looked good, and the kids were excited to learn that I'd booked us all for a day trip to Racha Yai Island. We have been there before on a weekend trip (staying in a hotel), and I have dived there maybe 100 times, but now the kids are old enough - it's time to dive!

My Family

(above) On the dive boat and ready to go. Trips depart from Chalong Bay. We met at Chalong pier about 8am and it was about 8:30am when we set off. It takes about 90 minutes on a dive boat to reach Racha Yai Island. The dive boats in this area are quite large, have upper deck seating areas and some have a smaller indoor (aircon) saloon area. So it's pretty comfortable, you are not sitting with the dive gear on a bench! Also, breakfast is provided, along with unlimited coffee, tea, and drinking water. I let the family relax while I set up all our scuba gear (OK, my dear wife helped a bit). Only took about 15 minutes to get 4 sets of gear and 4 weight belts ready, then I could join everyone upstairs for a cup of tea.

Dive Gear Ready

(above) Dive gear, ready to go!

On the Way to Racha Yai Island

(above) Our son takes a seat with a view .. Racha Yai island straight ahead!

When you arrive at Racha Yai, where you dive depends a bit on the conditions. As far as possible, if there is no strong northeast wind, it's best to dive on the east side of the island. It was not at all a windy day, so we started on the east coast with beautiful blue water. Visibility underwater here varies from 15 meters up to 30+ meters year round unless the weather is really bad! Much of the time, even in low season, it looks like this ...

Racha Yai Island

(above) Racha Yai island, east coast. And we were looking forward to getting in the water! We let others get ready first as we were "non paying customers". There were about 20 on the boat including 4 or 5 instructors leading different groups of divers from different countries. I figured we'd take our time getting ready as it would be the kids first dive in the sea. It feels a little odd wearing scuba gear for the first time and even stranger once you start breathing through a regulator underwater!

Kids going Diving

(above) Our kids getting ready to dive

Phuket Dive Boat

(above) We let everyone else get ready first :)

Wet suits on, weight belts on, sit down on the bench, strap into the BCD and then stagger to the dive platform carrying all that weight! Fins are the last thing to put on, as you don't want to be walking around wearing fins. I helped the kids with adjusting their gear. Checked everything was turned on and ready to go ....

Getting fins on

(above) Our daughter getting her fins on with some help from the boat staff

Ready for a Dive

(above) My wife ready to dive!

After a few teething problems ... both kids would go down a couple of meters and then signal to me that they wanted to go up again .. "my ears feel funny" or "my mask is loose" .. After about 5 minutes we all descended to about 7 meters under water, down to the sand, and the kids looked OK, if a little awkward (you normally do look a bit awkward on a first go at anything!), so we started to swim around. I did not take them deeper than about 9 meters. My wife has not logged too many dives but is a natural mermaid :) I did not take an underwater camera, as I knew I'd have to keep both eyes on the kids. Instructors should be using their eyes to care for students, not taking photos! But we saw plenty of marine life ..

Moray Eel

Scorpion Fish

Clown Fish

(above) We saw all of these and more - moray eel, scorpionfish, clownfish, pufferfish, triggerfish, bannerfish, lionfish and more. Always plenty of life at Racha Yai! Many thanks to Simon Ilett (a dive instructor working in Phuket) for the photos. Our first dive was about 35 minutes and I was relieved that it had all gone smoothly! My kids are now divers! These day trips have 2 dives with lunch in between. The boat was moved while we ate lunch, my son had his nose in a fish identification book and both kids were pleased with themselves and ready to dive again. We had our second dive in Siam Bay on the south end of Racha Yai.

Siam Bay, Raya Island

(above) Photo taken from the boat as we entered Siam Bay, Racha Yai Island

There are some underwater elephant statues here, but they are down about 18m deep, and our depth (for first time divers) was a maximum of 12m. We actually did not go deeper than about 7 meters on the second dive, swimming around in the shallows for 45 minutes. Could have stayed quite a lot longer, but it would be rude to delay the boat :) On the second dive the kids were very comfortable, checking out marine life, enjoying life underwater. 45 minutes went by very fast. After we were back on the boat and I got all the gear stowed away, the kids were already asking "when can we go again?" We will certainly go again soon. Diving might not seem like hard work, but I can tell you, combined with a day out on the water, when you breathe compressed air and carry dive gear and swim underwater .. it really is good exercise! Both kids slept in the aircon saloon on the way back to Chalong Bay. A great day out. Anyone wants to dive, contact me at Sunrise Divers! Thanks also to Noon at Local Dive Thailand for letting us go on her boat :)

X-Men '92 Infinite Comic #1 review

*Click here for obvious yet appropriate music*

As someone who was born in 1985, I absolutely loved the X-Men animated series back when I was growing up. It doesn't hold up all that well now, but when it originally aired, it was a total blast and left me feeling in love with the X-Men and their mythos. It was fun, colorful, and embraced the mutant team's world with open arms. In fact, this cartoon - along with the Spider-Man and Batman animated series - is the reason I became interested in comics. So, when it was announced that X-Men '92 would be one of Marvel's Secret Wars titles, I was beyond excited. There's plenty of lighthearted titles out there for readers to enjoy, but nostalgia is such a powerful force and the thought of returning to this universe filled me with joy.

While this first chapter does sort of feel like "X-Men '92 and Secret Wars 101", it does also feel like it's made by people who have a lot of love for the animated series, as well as the comics. I mean, Jubilee says, "Bang. You're dead!" to Wolverine! How awesome is that? (In case you're unaware, that's totally a nod to the time Gambit defeated Wolvie in the Danger Room and said, "Bang. You dead!") This comic is just a mere $1.99, so honestly, how could any fan of the animated series possibly resist?
Seeing as there's no intro/recap page, co-writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers have to assume some readers aren't familiar with the former show and have no idea just how much Secret Wars has changed the Marvel universe. That means there's a lot of details they need to dish out. Each character receives a caption that says who they are and what their powers are - an effective way to educate readers and it utilizes the digital format well - but once Robert Kelly enters the picture, that's when things begin to slow down for a heavy dose of exposition. This is why it would have been great to have this stuff covered in a recap page. So, when the comic does take a turn to blatantly teach us about the world these X-Men live in, it does feel more blunt and informative instead of entertaining and natural. It's not "bad," but it does feel like they're just getting some basic facts out of the way before we can get to the good stuff. There is some fan service with one page and they do attempt to give one character more depth, but the latter doesn't really feel all that compelling because it's tough to swallow that it'll actually happen. But hey, maybe they'll make me eat my words!

The way the co-writers begin the story feels like such a warm welcome to this nostalgic universe. While some may say the dialogue is cheesy and the drama feels forced, I think it's totally fitting considering the show it's based on and that makes this an organic addition to the animated world. It just wouldn't be the animated X-Men without Gambit blatantly hitting on Rogue and getting rejected, Storm loving to monologue as she uses her powers, and Wolverine and Cyclops arguing because they both love Jean. While the second half does slow down a bit too much, the opening is just oozing with happiness and throws you right back into the '90s. Look, I'm not saying you're a coldhearted monster if you don't have fun watching the X-Men play "extreme laser tag," but I do most likely disagree a whole lot with your definition of "fun."With the way these characters are written and the way the scenes play out, I was absolutely hearing the respective voice actors in my heads and all of the sounds the animated series provided for the powers and Sentinels. It's tempting to give this issue an automatic zero out of five stars simply because Cyclops never screams, "JEAN!" but I just have to assume they're saving that for later. That said, Jean Grey does exclaim Scott's first name a few times. Oh yes, I see what you did there, creative team! Oh, and the cliffhanger? That has quite a bit of potential and I was honestly surprised by it. I thought the use of a certain word meant we'd see that villain in the end, but man, I was totally wrong.

Artist Scott Koblish's work has impressed me plenty of times over the past year or so. The way he can change his style to fit any atmosphere is seriously impressive, as is the amount of attention and work he manages to pack into some truly crowded pages. Thanks to the addition of Matt Milla's bright display of colors - which are of course beyond perfect to remind us of the animated series - this is a consistently animated set of visuals that give off the right tone. Part of me hoped it would be a little more similar to the show's style, but their handling of the classic looks and how the characters interact is hugely enjoyable. I really can't get enough of Gambit's dramatic reactions or the body language between Wolverine and Cyclops. And that one page of Jubilee? Priceless. (Trust me, you'll know which one I'm talking about.) The opening sequence is without question the highlight for both the story and visuals. The digital format really thrives in the first half of the book, too. The way characters are eliminated is amusing, as is the way a Sentinel is defeated. Even something simple like Logan putting on his mask is appreciated. This is based on an animated series, so the extra effort to breathe more motion and life into these scenes is definitely appreciated. Any fan of the show is going to adore a specific page of heroes and villains as well. Pure fan service! My only small criticism of the visuals is some of the bigger pages feel like they could have done more with the space. It almost seems like the pages have extra room just so more dialogue can be crammed in there.

It's simple: if you watched the X-Men animated series, you're really going to enjoy this digital comic. The first half is such a fun way to throw us back to the era, and while things do begin to slow down and get a little too focused on exposition and drama, the cliffhanger is really strong and has a great amount of potential. Put on a trench coat and then give this comic a read. (Or just read it. Whatever works for you.) It's a really good time, especially when considering it's only $1.99. Let's hope the creative team does the obvious thing and begins the next issue with a "previously on" recap.

4/5

Old Man Logan #1 review

There are many great Wolverine stories and writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven's Old Man Logan is absolutely one of them. Despite this new follow-up having the brilliant art team of Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo, it's easy to go into this one with a bit of skepticism. While McNiven's artwork in the original arc was nothing short of stunning, it just wouldn't be as good without Millar's compelling, emotional, and interesting story. Now, Brian Michael Bendis has the difficult task of writing the next chapter in Old Man Logan's life. No pressure, right? Thankfully, he's off to a terrific start and, as totally expected, artist Sorrentino and colorist Maiolo's pages are absolutely breathtaking.
First and foremost, there's no reason to worry if you're not caught up with all that's going on in the Marvel Universe or if you haven't read Millar and McNiven's story. The very first page has an adequate recap of what Secret Wars is all about, as well as a brief and efficient summary of Old Man Logan's tale. Because of the intro page, Bendis is thankfully able to limit the amount of exposition we encounter in this debut issue, and that's a huge plus because Old Man Logan's world is so vast. In the wrong hands, a writer runs this risk of feeling the need to explain everything the reader witnesses in this striking world. But in this case, Bendis does a solid job throwing us into this setting and makes sure the way we learn about this world feels natural and not like it's just infodump after infodump. Whether you're a new reader or a fan of the previous story arc, you're going to get a proper understanding of just how twisted this place has become. He doesn't explore too much of it, but it's just enough to leave us wanting more. And the cliffhanger? It has a ton of potential. Now we just have to wait and see where the writer goes with it. That said, I really, really hope we're not going to spend a majority of time away from this world Millar and McNiven crafted. I can understand the desire not to do "more of the same," but there's still so much to explore and reveal. This is his chance to be creative and add so much more to this place. Here's hoping he does that instead of mostly focusing on crossing over with another Battleworld location.

In addition to this being a story anyone can jump into and enjoy, the handling of Wolverine is great. You can tell the man he once was is still present - the good guy who will fight against all odds to do the right thing - but you can also see just how much this bleak alternate universe has molded him. He's much more violent, harsh, and at times, appropriately coldhearted. It's clear this is a legitimately good and kind person who has been enduring in a vicious and evil place. You'll still root for him, but you can tell this Logan has become far more inclined to let loose and take down any obstacle with some fatal stabs.

Sorrentino's art and Maiolo's colors are incredible. These pages do an amazing job capturing both the beauty and savagery of Old Man Logan's world. One landscape was legitimately gorgeous and it made me drop my jaw. This may be a bloody and dark book, but these two do exceptional work making sure it's also full of beautiful settings and the characters are full of emotion. As for the action, it's phenomenal stuff. Sorrentino's able to put so much intensity into these pages and there's one panel of a truly engaged Wolverine that left me speechless. I simply had to just stare at it and take in just how insanely well this chaotic moment was brought to life. The several close-ups pull you right into the frenzy and allow you to appreciate the brutal and fast-paced nature of the fight. Also, I won't spoil who the scene involves, but there's an entire page from one character's perspective, and the way they reveal who it is and handle how it plays out is especially creative. 

Once again, Maiolo does tremendous work enhancing Sorrentino's artwork with his colors. His tactic of going heavy with white and shades of red during more dramatic scenes still amazes and it brings the moments to a whole other level. No matter what Bendis puts in the script, these two do an exceptional job giving the scene so much depth and they always find new ways to impress our eyes. My only minor criticism of the artwork is that Wolverine's claws occasionally appear to be a little too long. I've always been under the impression they're a foot, but when he's stabbing some people, they appear to go beyond that length. Still, it's a really minor criticism and that didn't take away from just how excellent these panels were.

Old Man Logan #1 is $4.99 and it's worth every single penny. Sorrentino and Maiolo's work is truly phenomenal - any fan of theirs would expect no less from them at this point - and Bendis made sure this issue is exciting yet also informative. It tells us everything we need to know about what makes this version of Wolverine different, reveals just how twisted the world around him has become, and takes some simple yet promising steps towards building a bigger story. A new Old Man Logan comic has finally arrived and it was most definitely worth the wait. Do the smart thing and add this to your pull list.

4.5/5

Captain America: Civil War - The Best Crossbones Battles

Captain America: The Winter Soldier marked the debut of Brock Rumlow, a.k.a. Crossbones, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Actor Frank Grillo said the sequel was an origin story for his evil character, and recent photos taken from the set of the third Captain America movie, Captain America: Civil War, show the dude is back with a brand new look and he's ready to punch Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, square in the face. The villain's new design puts an emphasis on armor and gives him gauntlets, a decision that makes perfect sense since the MCU's Captain America is a physical beast and it would be tough for any regular human to challenge him without sporting some extra gear. Still, the 616 version of Crossbones, a.k.a. the one existing in the regular Marvel Universe (well, pre-Secret Wars), is just a human who happened to train quite a lot and has an especially high level of pain tolerance. All you really need to know about his back story is that he's a total scumbag who eventually began to follow Red Skull and he even taught people how to fight at Taskmaster's school.

At one point Crossbones inhaled some Terrigan Mist and that temporarily gave him the ability to fire deadly blasts from his face, but aside from that short peroid of time, he's simply a deadly human who happens to be quite tough and very, very good at fighting. It really is a shame he and Punisher never had a big conflict. They did encounter in Punisher's recent run, but Brock was just a small part of a much, much bigger story. Anyway, you're here to see some of Crossbones' best fights, so let's get to it!

vs. Bullseye in Captain America #377
Who would win in a fight between Red Skull's right-hand man and Kingpin's top assassin? Both are badass villains with a love for shooting, punching, and stabbing things, but what happens when the two clash? The Daredevil villain is more accurate, but he has quite an ego. Crossbones is the more brutal one, but he's not as inventive with projectiles. Well, the two finally met in Captain America #377 and it didn't go too well for Bullseye.

Thanks to overestimating his own abilities and underestimating Crossbones' capabilities (Lester figured Brock was slow and unintelligent), the Cap fiend was able to close the gap between the two and put a serious hurting on the accurate assassin. Crossbones' own arrogance plays a bit of a role as well, because when he does get his hands around Lester's throat, Crossbones states it would be easy for him to end things right there. But instead of eliminating Bullseye swiftly, he wants to make his target suffer a slow and painful demise. You know, because he's kind like that. This delay gives Bullseye the chance he needs to spit a fake tooth in Brock's eye, stab him in the bicep, and the make a run for it.

Maybe a second encounter between the two would be more balanced, but thanks to Bullseye's arrogance, Crossbones was able to temporarily humiliate the Man Without Fear's lethal and incredibly dangerous villain.

vs. Captain America (Bucky) in Captain America #36
First and foremost, you need to understand there's some important context here. This match begins with Brock shooting Bucky in the back (he's wearing bulletproof armor, but it still hurts), so the fight starts with Brock having an unfair advantage. From there, we see Bucky give it everything he's got in the harsh melee fight, but unlike their previous encounters, Brock is able to take the hits and send some very painful ones back at the good guy.

In the end, Crossbones winds up throwing the new Captain America out of a window, but thanks to Black Widow and her flying car, Bucky doesn't fall to his death. He actually ends up shoots Crossbones in the chest several times when the enemy takes a look out the widow to see what happened. Crossbones of course lives to see another day, but that defeat has got to hurt his ego.

Even though Brock has given Steve Rogers rough fights, he's had some pretty unlucky encounters against Bucky. From hitting his head against a hard corner to getting knocked out with one hell of a blow, Bucky appears to be Crossbones' kryptonite. This is the one time it wasn't a pretty embarrassing display for him.

vs. Daredevil in Captain America #376
In Captain America's Streets of Poison story, Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, is having a really terrible time. Firstly, his radar sense isn't even at 100%, so that alone is throwing off his game. Secondly, he's beaten up by a pissed off Captain America. Thirdly, he's forced to fight Crossbones shortly after getting wrecked by Steve -so that means he isn't in top form - and to make matters even worse, Daredevil leaps into action to save his archenemy, Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin, from Crossbones.

Wilson Fisk is able to casually stroll away from the scene, but the encounter doesn't go well for the agile hero. It isn't long before Murdock finds himself on the floor and in even more pain. Luckily for him, he's able to escape the situation as Brock attempts to see if he can find Fisk. Brock has no such luck and returns to the room only to find out that Daredevil has fled the scene, too. Crossbones may have not killed either of the people he wanted to, but he certainly gets an A for effort.

vs. Prison facility guards in Captain America #600
Even a terribly despicable man can fall in love and have that passion totally overwhelm his heart. While Crossbones is being held in a H.A.M.M.E.R. facility, the inamtes are allowed to watch television. It just so happens to be the anniversary of the "death" of Captain America, and Brock laughs at just how little the media knows about what truly happened on that day. One especially patriotic guard doesn't take Brock's laughter over the loss of Cap very lightly and proceeds to taser the villain in the back. The guard then threatens to put the bad guy in an infirmary bed "near his girlfriend." Telling Brock that the women he loves is being held in the same facility he's in? Probably not the best idea.

Many of us would do anything for love, and for Brock, that means obliterate every single guard in his way until he finds his lover, Sin, in the infirmary. From snapping necks to simply plowing through enemies, the mercenary is eventually able to find the woman he loves. The two share a kiss before they're both taken out with gas. How romantic, right?

vs. Wolverine in Fear Itself: The Fearless #7
Let's get one thing out of the way: Yes, Brock's violent encounter with Wolverine is downplaying the X-Man's pain tolerance. Logan's known for being able to take a staggering amount of punishment, so having him temporarily out of commission after suffering several shots to the stomach is selling him short. That said, as a Crossbones fan, this is an awesome albeit brief display of Crossbones' own impressive level of pain tolerance and his refusal to throw in the towel, even if he's facing a major uphill struggle.

Wolverine does have the Captain America villain outclassed in terms of skill and physicals. It's a match Crossbones is going to lose unless he has some major prep time on his side, but this short and bloody encounter is memorable because, even after having his stomach sliced open, Crossbones was still able to trash talk and keep attacking. He may only be a human in a world full of super-powered beings, but he has the drive, determination, and skill to give a fair amount of them some trouble or even take them down. Wolverine isn't someone Crossbones is going to drop, but this shows he isn't going to make a run for it, either. Rogers previously referred to Brock as "as rough a customer as any I've ever tangled with!" This showing certainly proves the fiend's no pushover.

vs. Deadpool in Deadpool #25
Brock's big encounter with Wade Wilson, a.k.a. Deadpool, is every bit as savage and hilarious as you'd want it to be. When there was a price on Wade's head, Crossbones attempted to collect the huge sum of money. Unfortunately for the villain, he didn't succeed and the anti-hero left him standard for a little while. While the two are able to have a heart-to-heart in a bar right before fists begin to fly, Crossbones says he just isn't able to forgive Wade for what happened. After the two enjoy a drink, the ridiculously fun slugfest begin!

Wade's heart isn't really in it at first, but as the fight progresses, the two begin to really lash out. Some silly elements are thrown into the mix - this is a Deadpool story, after all - but after a ferocious fight, Wade's able to take the edge and he begins to pummel Captain America's nemesis. Crossbones is turned into a bloody mess, but it's without question an entertaining fight that gives both combatants plenty of love. As for why Brock is in his undies, well, I won't spoil that for you.


vs. Captain America in Captain America #363-364
Last and definitely not least, this is the very first fight between Captain America and Crossbones. The super-soldier's able to restrain Brock after a pretty amusing skirmish, but Crossbones isn't just a villain who relies on direct fights for a victory. The guy had several traps set up - in fact, the battle begins with Cap stepping on a bear trap - and thanks to his tactical mind and dirty tactics, Crossbones is able to escape as Captain America is left to deal with a pressure sensitive explosive trap.

It's not the most intense encounter around, but it sure is a memorable one and it showed us that Crossbones isn't just another generic mercenary who can only throw a decent punch or spam some projectiles. He's not as skilled or as physically powerful as Cap, but his heartless approach to combat makes up for that and allows him to give the Avenger a challenge. Additionally, Brock's vocabulary may not make him seem all that intelligent, but he sure is a cunning foe and that's on display in this classic brawl.


Honorable Mentions:
vs. Captain America (Sam Wilson) in All-New Captain America #2
vs. Young heroes in Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #2
vs. Werewolves in Captain America and Crossbones #1
vs. Gambit in Gambit #18
vs. Captain America in Thunderbolts #150

Oh, and how could this article be complete without the most brutal, earthshaking blow Crossbones has ever dealt to Captain America? Behold! Crossbones vs. Captain America's foot! Let's hope they have this exact choreography and dialogue in Captain America: Civil War!
Go get 'em, Cappo!

Hill Country Barbecue Market - NY and D.C.

I am always looking for buffets that feature barbecue and I "sought of" found one practically in my own backyard. Right off I am going to tell you that this is NOT a buffet restaurant. This is a menu barbecue restaurant BUT on Monday nights varying by location there is an All You Can Eat barbecue dinner. I will also tell you right off that I have not been there yet but I felt that I should share this with our readers. There are three locations of this restaurant - one in Manhattan, NY, one in Brooklyn, NY, and one in Washington, D.C. . Each one offers the all you can eat barbecue dinner on Monday nights with a variation in prices and an offering variation in the restaurant in Washington, D. C. . In NYC the meal is only available on the First Monday of the Month from 5 pm to 10 pm. In Brooklyn the meal is available EVERY Monday at dinner. In Washington, D.C. the dinner is available EVERY Monday at dinner.

Modi 1st year report card

The intent was for a post and a cartoon, but it fizzled half way, mirroring the topic in question.


Mad Max: Fury Road review

Hey everyone,

I reviewed Mad Max: Fury Road -- a two hour dose of weird craziness and action -- for Comic Vine. Don't worry, the review's spoiler-free!

http://www.comicvine.com/reviews/mad-max-fury-road/1900-4118/


The Phad Thai Shop

This blog post was first written in 2008. The Phad Thai Shop is still there, I still eat there and I finally got round to updating this post now in 2015!

Phad Thai is a very common Thai dish made from noodles, egg, chili, tofu, normally some shrimp or some chicken, plus onion, fish sauce, nuts, lime... ingredients can vary. You can order Phad Thai in 10 different places and get 10 different tasting meals depending on the amount and variety of sauces added, the size and type of noodles used, type of meat added and so on... Phad Thai can be bland sometimes or it can be spicy, it can be dry or saucy. You get a lot of variety out of one dish! If bought from a street stall or roadside restaurant you're normally only going to be paying 40 - 50 Baht for your lunch - it's a cheap dish to make and thus a popular lunch all over Thailand, nearly as popular as Noodle Soup (Kuaytiow).

Close to our dive shop, Sunrise Divers in Karon Beach, on the back road near the Baan Karon Resort, there's one of the most popular little lunchtime restaurants I have seen in Phuket. Every day workers in the local area flock here for lunch, and the most popular dish is Phad Thai. The restaurant does not really have a name except "The Phad Thai Shop". They also do noodle soup with chicken or beef, a good Phad Grapow with beef, a popular fried rice with crab. The menu is expanding - when I first ate here in 2005 they had only Phad Thai or Noodles and beef stew. It's open every day from quite early until late afternoon. Mostly caters to a local lunch crowd.



(above) There used to be just a wooden handwritten sign (in Thai) - now the Phad Thai Shop is easier to spot!

It's only a little place but it can be packed at lunchtime. You can get Phad Thai to eat there or take away - the take away is wrapped in a banana leaf. The cooking is mostly done by one guy, with others helping to serve noodle soup, package up takeaways etc.. You can see the huge bowls full of chicken and beef at the counter - these are ladled over the noodles. The famous Phad Thai is really tasty, and you have extra bowls of chili sauce, prik nam pla (fish sauce with chili) and dried chili on the table in case it's not spicy enough for you.



(above) Cooking Phad Thai

You can get Phad Thai there either to eat there or take away. Bear in mind that by Western standards this is not really a "restaurant" - a collection of tables in a shack by the road outside someone's house... but this is real local eating here in Phuket. If you want to mingle with the people, get on the back roads and get some Pad Thai right here! I tend to get food from here at least once a week as it's so cheap and close to work.... oh and very tasty! Phad Thai is 50 Baht and it's a huge portion.





(above) Inside the Phad Thai Shop

The place was "tarted up" a couple of years ago with a concrete floor and nicer tables, but still the same food and same price (50 Baht). Just before the Baan Karon Resort on the way from Karon to Kata on Patak Road. It's not a big obvious restaurant, just a small local place... just look for the sign saying "The Phad Thai Shop". If in doubt come to see us at Sunrise Divers first. Only a few minutes away. Part of the reason for the new sign and the slight improvement in decor was the visit of a writer from the Lonely Planet guide, who was directed here by me and a former employee at Sunrise Divers. I recall the owner being very happy to be listed in the guide and they have a 5 foot tall copy of the page on the back wall!



(above) Listed in Lonely Planet and proud of it!

The Phad Thai Shop (Karon) - Location Map


View The Phad Thai Shop near Karon Beach in a larger map

Hawkeye: The Unexpected Star of Avengers: Age of Ultron

*Contains minor spoilers*

In a movie that's full of popular superheroes and teasers about the Marvel Cinematic Universe's exciting future, one of the biggest surprises in Avengers: Age of Ultron is just how much love Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, received. Director-writer Joss Whedon certainly made Hawkeye an impressive archer in the first movie, but this follow-up does an excellent job humanizing the marksman.
How could just one man with a bow and arrows hope to make a difference when his teammates can shatter mountains with their fists, run as fast as cars, fly above ordinary people, and effortlessly humiliate armed enemies with nothing but their bare hands? The character may get ripped on for being just "a dude with a bow," but this movie proved he's an essential part of the team. He may not have fancy powers or armor, but the movie's heartfelt and humorous approach to the hero turned him into one of the standout characters -- and that's saying a lot since this is a movie that's absolutely loaded with spectacle.

Who is Hawkeye and why should you care about him? That's a question the first movie failed to answer. The Avengers showed he has phenomenal aim and some cool trick arrows, but aside from that, he was just Black Widow's friend and the guy who was unlucky enough to get brainwashed by Loki. By the time Avengers: Age of Ultron opened in theaters, he was the only current Avenger to not receive a proper amount of insight. Thankfully, Whedon fixed that by subverting just about everyone's expectations of the movie. Sure, it still has a fast pace and almost always finds a way to throw action and comedy in there, but the look at Hawkeye's personality and his life takes us out of all of the seemingly surreal craziness and makes things far more relatable. Suddenly, we get to see what it's truly like to be a "normal" human on a team full of powerhouses and geniuses.
While Clint may not be the one making the big calls or providing tactical insight, he does prove to be the heart of the team. When everything hits the fan, it's Hawkeye who's able to inspire Scarlet Witch, an incredibly important character to the story and possibly the future of their universe. Someone like Captain America or Black Widow could have given her an inspirational speech, but Clint's words of wisdom were both hilarious and uplifting. He's able to point out just how absurd the situation is, but despite that, nothing will stop him from doing everything he can to save humanity from Ultron. If a man with such a simple weapon can stand against this insanity, why can't Scarlet Witch find the courage to fight using her stunning powers? It was just the kind of talk she needed to get her back out there and battle Ultron's forces.

Hawkeye's role technically isn't "important" compared to Captain America or Iron Man when it comes to the bigger picture, but his arc gave us all such a better emotional connection to the character and it made him infinitely more likable. It's cool he can shoot an arrow absurdly well and has a variety of pretty awesome trick arrows, but now when we see him in Captain America: Civil War, we'll know the guy firing those arrows isn't just some generic fellow who occasionally cracks a joke or two.

Mortal Kombat X: Jason Voorhees review

Today, Mortal Kombat X's first Kombat Pack combatant, Jason Voorhess, is available for anyone and everyone to purchase. Back when it was announced the iconic killer would be the first character in the DLC pack, there was a whole lot of negativity. Many were upset it wasn't Spawn being selected, but a lot of people expressed concern over the murderer's move list. "How can a guy with a machete bring anything awesome to Mortal Kombat X, a game that's full of crazy powers?" Some degree of skepticism is understandable, but if NetherRealm Studios is adding a character, the odds are pretty good they believe it's because they can give the character some entertaining moves. Thankfully, they didn't disappoint and Jason Voorhees feels like a solid addition to the roster.

Just like everyone else, the classic movie character has 3 variations. His are slasher, unstoppable, and relentless. My top choice is slasher, a variation that allows Jason to use his signature machete for melee attacks with better range, vicious combos, and a few special moves. Two of the combos -- brooding and machete launch -- are very easy to pull-off and leave your opponent open to additional combos. With Jason, it's very easy landing a combo that could do around 24%, and I say that as someone who really isn't all that good at the game. Two of his special moves, bloodshed and psycho slash, are just downright brutal. The third unique one for this variation, machete toss, just gives the dude a ranged attack as he throws his bladed weapon. It's not a particularly fast or original ranged attack, but it has proven to be useful.
The lumbering guy also has a boost called "killing machine," which is also available in the relentless variation. That move gives you a temporary "armor" that allows you to go unfazed by all of your opponent's attacks. The only downside is you can't jump and at the end of the boost, Jason is left vulnerable for a second or two. So, if you're going to use that boost, make sure you know what you're doing, otherwise you'll end up totally open to attacks. All in all, slasher is definitely the "easiest" variation to use and unleashing combos with that machete is a blast. It may be a "simple" weapon compared to the options other characters have, but NetherRealm Studios made sure using that sharp weapon is a really good time. If you like Sub-Zero's cryomancer variation or Scorpion's ninjutsu variation, then slasher is definitely something you'll want to use.

Relentless seems to be the most advanced variation, one that'll be very useful in the hands of especially good gamers. You know how fodder in movies always attempt to run from killers and totally fail at it? The special move "pursuit" is inspired by that. For around five seconds, your opponent's controls will be inverted and they can't dash or run. If you use this in combination with lake mist, a "teleport" Jason gains in this variation so he can sneak up behind his opponent, then it's pretty obvious a truly skilled player can humiliate their enemy. In this variation, Jason is also "damned," meaning his damage increases as his health gets lower.
Seeing as Jason doesn't have his machete for melee attacks in this variation and the final one, unstoppable, he has plenty of other oh-so-harsh moves to dish out. For special moves, we have back breaker, choke, and tight squeeze. And yes, they're all as savage as they sound. You'd think we'd be used to shocking displays of violence in this game by now, but these are still delightfully cruel. For combos, Jason has two very easy ones called camp killer and final friday. They do 15% and 17% damage -- which seems great for such an easy to land set of attacks --  and man, they're wicked. Seeing this slow and strong killer grab, crush and toss his enemies is a real joy, and I say that as someone who isn't a big follower of Jason's movies. All variations also have a dash attack called temple punch, a basic way for him to close the gap pretty quickly.

The final variation, unstoppable, could be a game changer in the hands of a tactical player or even when a match appears to be a coin toss. This is where Jason can temporarily boost his damage via punishment or slowly regain health via rise. Using the health regen and then using time consuming moves like throws really helps out and, assuming you can juggle, the damage boost can prove to be really helpful. However, what makes this variation really standout is a little feature called resurrection. If you lose the round, Jason will get back up and whatever is in your super meter will be used to replenish his health. This can only occur once per round. So, if it seems like you might lose in a close fight and you believe an enhanced or X-Ray attack is too risky, this feature could be hugely beneficial.
Jason's fun to use, but it is a little disappointing more time wasn't spent on unique dialogue in the match intros. Obviously, Jason doesn't talk, but there isn't much variety here. There's a few amusing ones here and there (Cage and Ferra/Torr), but based on my experience, it seems like everyone only has one line about the character and some are as simple as, "Who are you?" Sure, it makes sense they wouldn't know who he is, but it would have been great to see them use this chance to really make each character's personality shine. Thankfully, Jason's X-Ray attack and brutalities are every bit as jaw-dropping and over-the-top as you'd want them to be. His X-Ray attack, the horror, puts his machete to good use and his enemy's spine is shown no mercy whatsoever. This X-Ray can also be used for a brutality. After Jason damages the person's neck, he has no problem lopping it right off. There's also ridiculously amusing entertaining ones like breaking someone in half with his knee or slicing them apart with his blade. And best of all? They're all unlocked right away. Oh, and his ending is definitely fitting for the character.

As for his fatalities, the one called "Kill for Mother" is easily the most memorable. Fans of horror movies will love how it's handled because it's clearly pulling a ton of inspiration from classic slasher flicks. From a quick close-up shot of the machete to the victim's shocked reaction to the sound effects, it's a blatant nod to the dude's history and it's surprisingly cinematic. Plus, slowly slashing someone apart is a pretty effective way to make sure they're down for the count, right?
His other one, sleeping bag killer, feels like a missed opportunity. As you can tell by the title, he grabs the person by their ankle and then begins to violently smash them over and over. On paper, it sounds gruesome and oh-so-perfect for Mortal Kombat X. But the execution? It's just, well, weird. When Jason smashes his enemy and then drags them, a limb just snaps off during each drag. The implication is he's smashing them with such great force and then pulling them extremely hard, but having the limbs just effortlessly tear off like that feels odd. Having him brutally smash someone multiple times, to the point of them doing that horrifying gargling noise, would have been more effective. Or it would have been really cool if it was environment based and they had him drag the person to a solid object in a stage and then he smashes them against the object over and over again. There aren't that many stages, so this wouldn't have been too big of a task.

If you plan on playing Mortal Kombat X for months and months to come, then yeah, I'd say Voorhees is definitely worthy of your $4.99. His variations can be enjoyed by both casual and competitive gamers and the studio definitely put Jason's strengths to good use. It's too bad one of his fatalities isn't all that stunning and he may not have the most original move list around, but the masked murderer definitely fits right in.

Still here and still enjoying life in the Rai and Thailand...

Being uncertain what I should write about today I decided to share a-day-in-the-life sort of post to shed some light on what daily life looks like for me these days.  Seldom is any one day eventful enough to make a good story so I am going to recant a period of several days if you don't mind.

We just returned from a five day trip to Bangkok with a short one night side trip to Hua Hin.  We were stuck in that horrible holiday traffic down to Hua Hin but we were with friends so it really didn’t seem to matter, making several stops along the way to break the monotony and eat.  We had some great meals garnished with even better conversation.

One night in Bangkok the four of us went to a popular Thai musical, Homrong, which I was a little surprised to find I enjoyed tremendously.  I have admittedly been out of touch and was impressed with every aspect of the staging and performance.  It was a far cry from what I was exposed to during the brief time I spent appearing on Thai TV.  I am so glad my wife arranged for this fantastic evening of entertainment.

It took me a couple of days after returning to Chiang Rai to recover from the long days in Bangkok, to a point where I felt like getting back on the bike.  The day I felt ready turned out to be very hot and I could feel that it was not a great idea to complete my intended route so cut things short at 55 km.  The following day we drove into town to run some errands and have lunch.  I really do enjoy spending time with my wife and it seems to help with my recovery.

The next day I stumbled out of bed quite late in the morning.  Having learned to listen to my body, when it wants to sleep, I let it.  I would have preferred to have coffee first but Cookie looked like she needed a walk more than I needed my caffeine fix, so she came first.  The Health App on my iPhone 6 says I average between five to ten kilometers each day between walking Cookie and puttering around the house, which I found interesting.  I spent most of the day writing and corresponding but thought better about posting what I wrote.  Regardless of the lies people spread about me in some circles, I am not going to stoop to their level and say slanderous things about them.  Anyway, no two days begin or proceed in the same way and that is the way I like it.  Perhaps that is one reason I have found life in Thailand much easier than some have.

Yesterday by late morning I felt good enough to contemplate another bike ride, after two days of rest.  It was only a few degrees cooler but that can make a big difference.  I got started around 11 am and felt so good I stretched my ride to 74 km.  I rode through one area where the trees had been uprooted the night before and several power lines were down with the poles snapping at the base causing a domino effect and pulling down adjacent poles.  Crews were hard at work trying to repair the damage and locals were harvesting the fallen tree, determined not to let all that good wood go to waste.  I never know what I will encounter while out on the bike or who I may end up talking with when I stop to buy water at a roadside shop.

Last night we were kept awake by thunder and torrential rain which continued on past one in the morning.  Then this morning we were rudely shaken from our slumber by three loud explosions which I am guessing came from a 100 day merit making ceremony in our village.  The funeral which is in progress now won’t be finished for a few more days so I doubt the noise came from there.  Since we are thinking about going to Sunday Brunch at the Meridien today I guess it is just a well we didn’t sleep in.  Cookie has already had her walk, the fish have been fed and I have had my coffee so things are moving along quite nicely this morning.

To follow up, we drove to the Meridien expecting a quiet lunch for two.  We ended up bumping into several people there but chose a table next to two other couples we have known for sometime but don’t see all that often.  We had a great time catching up and ended up being the last to leave.  I always enjoy these spontaneous encounters.  We drove from there to a another friends house to drop something off before heading to Central Plaza for a little shopping.  With all that we still made it home in time to feed and walk the dogs a little after sunset.

I know many people who struggle with the lack of a regimentation and routine in their daily lives.  External forces have always controlled what they do and turning inward is not something they are familiar with or care to try.  Some try to replace old routines with new ones but that can be hard to do in a new country.  The wise ones, in my opinion, adapt to a new way of life instead of clinging to what they know.  After all, isn’t change a major reason for moving to another country?  If you are not willing to step outside your comfort zone, do yourself a favor and stay home.

Recently I have stumbled upon a new way for me to combine new and old media.  I have discovered magazine bundles which can be downloaded and viewed at my leisure on the computer.  I understand this is not something new, but it is new for me.  The variety of material exposes me to topics and articles I might not otherwise read.  I used to like magazines but there are no big city bookstores in Chiang Rai so they had faded from my awareness.  I quite like reading almost anything on my 5K iMac.

In the health and fitness related magazines one comes across articles dealing with longevity and the secrets of aging well, which is something on my mind, especially now that I am in my sixties.  The majority of things on their lists are easy for me and are things I naturally do as a matter of course.  Where I fall short is in my ability to surround myself with people who are not toxic and encourage one to live a better, healthier life.  Fortunately I don't find it necessary to lean on others.

That said I seem to make do with the people I have in my life, even if they are scattered over the globe.  Sometimes I get requests to meet for coffee in Chiang Rai, from both new and old readers.  I recently received an email from one guy who has been around since the beginning of this blog and it looks like we may get the opportunity to meet after all these years.  That is something I am looking forward to later this month.

So that is what my life looks like these days.  I am not into fixed routines, fixing things or building things though I have been know to make minor repairs in a pinch.  I don’t belong to any groups.  My wife is still my best friend and favorite companion after nearly 18 years together.  We tend to gravitate toward interesting people we both like and who typically do not live full time in Chiang Rai.  My wife and dogs are more than enough company for me on an average day and when we do get together with our friends there is always so much to catch up on.

Here are a few Hua Hin shots taken with the iPhone.






Golden Corral, Freehold, NJ - Revisited

In December 2014, I wrote about the new Golden Corral located in Freehold, New Jersey. This is the closest Golden Corral location to the Metro NY area. Our experience there was not the greatest and if this was a first time to any Golden Corral I likely not go back. We found ourselves in that area in April and other than Asian buffets, there are no other buffets in this area. I thought that despite that first visit, we would go back again and see if things were the same or if they have improved.

The CW promos need a lesson in spoiler etiquette

We all know the internet can be a pretty ugly and negative place. With so many people having no issue spewing their hate, I often try to focus on talking about the things I love. I'd much rather support what I enjoy than tear down something I'm not a fan of. However, the CW's handling of promos for The Flash and Arrow has been bothering me for several months now and I just have to talk about it. Yes, this article includes SPOILERS for the latest episodes of the two comic book shows.
The point of a promo is to tease an upcoming episode, not spoil big moments and drop reveals. It doesn't matter how obvious the twists may be; it's just not the job of the promo to show us what should be important scenes in an upcoming episode. The job is to promote the fact those big scenes are on the way, make us think about how they'll play out, and get us excited to eventually see them in context. I've been doing my best to avoid ranting about this for quite some time now, but I simply can't resist after last night's Arrow promo. Again, spoilers ahead.

In Arrow, Oliver Queen has joined the League of Assassins and is on the path to become the next Ra's al Ghul. He underwent harsh conditions and brainwashing to erase "Oliver Queen" and accept his new identity, Al Sah-Him. This week's episode revealed a pretty obvious twist: Oliver's been faking it just to earn Ra's trust. After all he endured on the island and what not, it's pretty easy to swallow him holding up to this kind of treatment. Many of us were assuming that would be the outcome or some plot device will be used to break him free of Ra's influence. Then, Oliver locks his allies in a room and releases the Alpha and Omega virus -- something that apparently has no cure. We're meant to believe he was faking faking it and this was all an elaborate trap to kill the strongest ties to his past in one fell swoop. Many viewers won't believe this for a second, but the cliffhanger ends on a note that attempts to make us believe his supporting cast just died. Odds are that wasn't really the uncurable virus or there's some deus ex machina that'll save them. Still, the objective of this episode is to leave us asking two questions: is Oliver still on Ra's side and did his supporting cast really just die? To many of us, the answer is obviously no and no way. I mean, we know one of those characters will star in the spinoff series and to kill the entire supporting cast like that would be absurd. But less than a minute after that scene aired, we received a preview of next week's episode -- one that immediately reveals the supporting cast is not only alive and well, but also back in Starling City. Then it also shows us the scene of Arrow standing up to Ra's and exclaiming, "My name is Oliver Queen!" Did I know both of these things will happen? Absolutely. Is it the job of a promo to show me these key things before the episode airs next Wednesday? Hell no.

I find it very difficult to believe next week's episode doesn't have 20 seconds worth of footage that doesn't blatantly show the supporting cast is just fine and it doesn't show Oliver's big moment as he stands up to Ra's. They should tease these moments. Show us a moment of tension between Ra's and Oliver, or a quick shot that'll make passionate viewers go, "Hey, I totally just saw Diggle! See, told you there's no way they're dead!" A promo should reward passionate fans with great teasers and get them speculating about how everything will play out; not show how things play out. When even a casual viewer can get the basic idea of the next episode's story and key parts, you know you've spoiled too much. It doesn't matter that the twists are obvious to many of us; they aren't obvious to all of us and showing us right away immediately takes away any small feeling of there being actual stakes in what just happened.

The Flash is usually a little better with this. For example, the way it recently teased Barry trying to outrace bullets didn't spoil that twist and the one for the latest episode didn't ruin the story progression with Iris or show us cool parts from Grodd's role. However, the "Who is Harrison Wells?" promo blatant reveals they do indeed find Wells' body and that Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin do find Reverse-Flash's hidden room and gaze at the costume. In a promo, you need to give us fan service that doesn't take away from these major plot points. Show Joe and Quentin, Cisco and Laurel, and the team searching. Show a bit of action. Show a reaction shot of the group looking shocked.  Passionate fans will be able to recognize the setting and put together the pieces on their own. Casual fans won't be blatantly spoiled. It's more exciting for both groups that way. Oh, and seeing as The Flash already showed us Oliver will stand by Flash in a fight against Reverse-Flash, how can anyone question, even for a second, whether Oliver Queen is still a good guy or at least going to be good in the near future? Knowing he'll be fine takes away a vast majority of the drama, tension and emotion that's displayed as people like Felicity struggle with losing Oliver yet again. There needs to be more communication between the minds behind the shows and the promo department. If I was writing for the show, I'd be upset to see the work I'm doing is being spoiled a week before it airs. Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "So don't watch the promos. It's that easy." To me, that's missing the point of this article. I shouldn't have to worry about witnessing game-changing moments and having the whole story spelled out for me in brief promos that air right after the episode ends. We should see footage that gets us excited and leaves us speculating. Imagine if the promo for the final episode of Breaking Bad blatantly revealed the fate of the two lead characters? Or revealed the plot device that plays an important role? That sure would have been ridiculous, right?

Do I know Oliver Queen will stand up to Ra's al Ghul and say his true name? Of course. Do I know his entire supporting cast is still alive? Obviously. But just because I'm certain these things will happen, it doesn't mean I want to see them unfold just seconds after the latest episode has aired. Look, I know I'm being repetitive here, but it's not the job of the promo to spell out and reveal big plot points; it's the job of the promo to tease them. A promo needs to build our anticipation for an episode and allow us to eventually enjoy those critical scenes in proper context; not already witness them and then enjoy them a second time as they play out during the episode. Will fans still love seeing Oliver angrily say, "My name is Oliver Queen!" Most definitely. Should we have already seen this big moment? Well, I'll let Dr. Evil answer that one for me.
I still love you, Arrow and The Flash. But seriously, CW, you can promote your episodes without giving away really important and critical stuff. The episodes have more than enough footage to get us hyped, okay? And don't even get me started on how much those sizzle reels spoiled. I mean, finding out Quentin and Ray discover Arrow's identity that far in advance?!

Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1

Seeing as I haven't read the first Roche Limit series, I can't comment on whether any themes have carried over into this sequel or say how this debut issue holds up to the previous run. However, what I can say is the first issue of Roche Limit: Clandestiny is some damn good sci-fi. Not only is this first issue totally out there, fully embracing much of the potential a science fiction universe has to offer, but it's also surprisingly human.
Written by Michael Moreci and with visuals by Kyle Charles (art), Matthew Battaglia (colors), Sarah deLaine (flora/fauna), Tim Daniels (design), and Ryan Ferrier (letters), this first issue throws you into the middle of a pretty intense dialogue. It doesn't hit you with a ton of exposition; it just pulls you right into a mysterious moment and has you wondering what the hell just went down. Everything just hit the fan for two characters and their conversation will have your mind racing. What really just happened? What was the point of this mission? Where are they? She's going to kill what?! Before you know it, we're given a splash page that immediately made me think, "Could this protagonist be the next Ellen Ripley?" I sure hope so.

You can tell Moreci is pulling some elements from quite a few iconic sci-fi franchises, but for me, what helps this standout is how the lead character, Sasha, is being presented. She's not just some one-dimensional and strong lead character. You can tell there's an interesting backstory here and I'm left honestly wanting to see what it is. She's courageous and intelligent, yet you can also see she's somewhat broken -- a quality which is revealed in a pretty clever and emotional way, too.  My connection to the rest of the cast isn't nearly as strong and I can't shake the feeling that at least one or two of them are there just to serve as fodder, but I'd rather not race to conclusions about how they'll be handled just yet. I may not recall all of their names or even be able to immediately tell them apart, but so far, their dialogue feels natural and it leaves me feeling optimistic they're not just there to spew exposition and they're instead there to feel, you know, human.
When it comes to the bigger picture, this first issue sets up quite a few plot points. Honestly, I couldn't even tell what the overall theme was going to be because there's totally different plot threads popping up as we progress through the story. However, once we reach the end, it seems far more clear. It's tough to discuss this part without spoiling it, but let's just say 2015 seems to be a big year for this subject. Last week, I saw two movies posing similar questions. Despite that, this story element doesn't leave me feeling like it's something familiar or unoriginal. The newspaper article in the very end gives us some much-needed information and has me feeling like this story has a ton of promise. Without it, I'd be left feeling very in the dark about the cliffhanger. So, I believe the article was a nice way to give us readers some important information without harming the issue's pacing or making some characters randomly fill in the gaps.

This almost feels like Prometheus in the way it's setting up one big mystery after another. From horror elements to interesting questions, you can tell each one has potential. Now, I know Prometheus is a polarizing movie, but, based on this issue, this feels like it's going to give us a proper amount of insight into each of the elements that were just established. It would be hugely disappointing if that wasn't the case, but given how organically this first issue puts everything in place and teases them, I'm left feeling confident each of these subplots will receive a good amount of attention. Only time will tell, though!

Aside from a few small criticisms (e.g. sometimes eyes appear too far apart; rarely the environments seemed to lack depth), Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1's visuals are a nice mix of humanizing displays of emotion and gorgeous shades of purple and blue. Whether it's a fast-paced crash landing or just a simple conversation, the use of angles always kept me feeling immersed in the story. I may have some small, personal criticisms with some of the anatomy, but these visuals rarely pulled me out of the moment and I was left properly understanding and appreciating a vast majority of what was occurring. I especially enjoyed the occasional close-up shot of the eyes for the more dramatic moments.
Sure, I'm left with a whole bunch of questions, but what good story would reveal everything in the first chapter? A solid sci-fi tale needs to engage your eyes and your imagination. Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1? Yeah, it definitely does that. If you're craving some smart sci-fi, you have no good reason not to check this out. It's just $2.99 and new reader-friendly, people! Man, now I'm left wanting to pick up the first volume's trade. I guess that'll help kill some time before the next issue is released, right?

4.5/5

The Flash "Grodd Lives" review

*Yes, there's spoilers in here. Watch the episode first!*
"I can't believe I'm down here looking for a supernatural gorilla. I'm terrified of regular gorillas!"

CW's The Flash may only be in its first season, but that's not stopping the show from totally embracing the source material and giving us fans a whole lot of love. While the show's been doing an excellent job building up the Reverse-Flash story, this week's episode, "Grodd Lives," brings in a telepathic gorilla named "Grodd." I'm guessing if a casual viewer heard what this episode is all about, they'd probably think it's pretty silly. Comic fans, though? It's kind of surreal this is already happening. Thankfully, the handling of Grodd is far from silly. The foe is frightening and full of promise. Not even a banana joke takes away from this villain's formidability.
Look, obviously the special effects for Grodd aren't going to be on par with the motion capture used over in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; this show just doesn't have the same kind of budget. So, it is blatantly obvious Grodd is purely CGI. But considering just how much we see of the character, I have to say they did a pretty solid job bringing the big fellow to life and they made him look pretty damn intimidating. To top it off, David Sobolov gave the perfect voice to this scary and imposing threat. With chilling expressions and a fitting voice, you can definitely understand why detective Joe West is so terrified when he comes face to face with Grodd. Thankfully, the "metagorilla" also has a pretty spectacular action sequence. It's not the longest one around, but it most certainly delivers. For once, Barry attempts to end a fight before it even begins by dishing out a swift and powerful attack. It's no surprise the fight isn't over with a single hit, but what is a surprise is how Grodd reacts to it. Witnessing the giant enemy catch the hero's hand and then effortlessly toss him away was totally thrilling.

After going through such a rough patch, I really love how it's Iris who technically saves the day. She may not have the technical knowledge Caitlin and Cisco have, but she can motivate Barry like no other and it was a satisfying way to follow-up all of this episode's tension and drama. The shot of Grodd's defeat is really cool, but part of me was left thinking, "What about the people in the train?" I mean, if the subway train hit something like that, I'm guessing the conductor  would stop the vehicle. Maybe Grodd then ran away instead of lashing out? Also, that train came very soon after the other one. Maybe Central City just has a more efficient commuter system than they do over here in New York? Whatever, it's not a big deal and the awesomeness of that slow motion shot vastly outweighs those questions.

Before I talk about the drama, there is one more thing I'd like to mention about Grodd. Technically, he's just a diversion in this episode. I guess some could label him as a villain-of-the-week, but what helps Grodd stand apart is the amount of depth and previous hype he received. When the episode is over, you can tell this isn't the last we've seen of the character and there's definitely more story to tell with him. And let's be honest, Gorilla City would be a little tough to swallow in this world. Even if you can make it work, then introducing it to Central City would be quite a task, especially since it isn't the main story this season. So yeah, I think his origin story was a fine way to introduce him.
An explosion between Barry and Iris has been building for quite some time and, after Iris finally realized who the Flash is in the last episode, the time has come for that overdue and very passionate talk to take place. While the show does get into some heavy and heated dialogues -- I'll get into those soon enough -- what I love about this show is it always manages to sprinkle in some personality. Before and after a big and dramatic talk between Barry and Iris, we get some much appreciated humor from Caitlin and Cisco. They do everything they can to justify why they should listen to the talk and then they do everything they can to act like they totally weren't paying any attention when the talk concludes. Even later on, after a solid heart-to-heart moment, there's a bit of humor as Iris accidentally presses on her father's injured ribs. This show has plenty of character-driven drama, but it always remembers to make sure we're enjoying the experience, too. It never goes overly dramatic for too long and I love it for that.

As for Iris and Barry, I think it was mostly handled well. Like Barry said, Iris has every right to be upset. Everyone close to her has been blatantly lying to her and now she's finding this all out in such a short period of time. Gustin's physical responses felt fitting -- they were often a mix of empathy and a bit of frustration. It's a lot to take in for Iris, but I can't help but feel somewhat annoyed by two of her reactions. Firstly, when Barry opens up and says he finally knows who killed his mother, you can see a compassionate reaction build in Iris, but then she quickly makes it about her situation and never returns to the subject. I understand why that made her question Eddie's safety, but come on, she understands just how important that is to Barry. It's surprising she didn't bring that up again, even when she's in that mindset. Secondly, her blaming her father for Eddie's situation made me say, "That's harsh, Iris." Technically, the logic holds up, but man, that's some cold logic. But hey, I guess we've all said things we regret, right?

As usual, actor Jessie L. Martin offers a powerful performance. You can't help but feel sorry for the guy as he's beyond petrified of Grodd and the final scene with his daughter was legitimately heartfelt. Iris has every right to be upset and hold a grudge, but seeing her father suffer is the wake-up call she truly needed. It allows her to realize they did this because they love her. It's something she of course knows early in the episode, but disappointment and frustration took over and understandably so. Was lying to her the right thing for them to do? Probably not, but it's time to move forward and have the honest talk they need to have. It's an appropriately moving and humanizing conversation, one which puts the drama behind them and allows them to focus on what's now important: finding Eddie and stopping Wells. It makes me so happy they resolved this conflict in the span of one episode. I could see them dragging out Iris telling them she knows until the cliffhanger. Then there's an episode full of drama. Then there's an episode that allows them to resolve it. Instead, this tension gets the attention it deserves, everyone has mostly natural reactions, and then they're able to put it behind them. Thank you so much for not making this conflict last any longer than it needs to!
Wells isn't in the spotlight for much of this episode but he definitely isn't forgotten. As a comic fan, Eddie Thawne's last name immediately made me (and countless others) question the character's future. "How long before he potentially turns evil?" Well, this episode adds a little more weight to that question and leaves me wondering if they're purposely building him towards a more villainous future or if he'll remain strong and end his time on the show as a good guy. Noble, but heartbroken. I hope it's the latter, but we'll just have to wait and see. Oh, and it's also worth noting that Wells had some very amusing dialogue in that sequence. The one about his intelligence immediately comes to mind.

One of my biggest criticisms of the episode is really pretty minor. Joe hesitates for way too long during the heist sequence. I get what they're trying to say there: good guys don't want to kill and Joe is most certainly a very good guy. But to have an experienced detective hold off firing for that long against a heavily-armed gunman -- one who just shot two of his partners and is now taking aim at him? It's just a little too silly and took me out of the moment. Maybe -- just maybe -- you can say that, deep down, Joe was waiting for the Flash. However, as an experienced officer, waiting for that long in that dangerous of a situation is just foolish. Anyway, that's a lot of words for such a minor critique, but I think it was worth noting.
Random thoughts: So, now that Wells' cameras are taken down, I guess they have like, zero security in S.T.A.R. Labs? It's pretty funny how Iris just comes and goes as she pleases. You'd think they'd put something in place now that Wells is out there and knows where they operate. They probably know it won't do them much good, but something is certainly better than nothing at all. I love how Wells is hiding right under their noses. Also, I was left wondering why Wells didn't have Grodd kill Joe, but I'm guessing it's because that would make the team act emotionally and that would make their actions less predictable and potentially far more dangerous. He didn't need them broken; just distracted. Lastly, I'm glad they didn't cheese it up and have Barry and Iris kiss when it was blatantly implied the feelings are mutual. I didn't mind it in the previous episode (they were going to potentially die in a minute or so), but now that Eddie's in trouble? That would have been messed up, so I'm glad they brought it up. Oh, and I can't help but love how Cisco's dropping so many movie references and then Grodd's final scene is a blatant nod to King Kong.

"Everything Grodd did, it was just to distract us." That line probably makes some people think this episode was filler, but I disagree. In just one episode, The Flash handles a major dramatic plotline (something other shows may have dragged across several episodes), properly introduces the world to a major villain, and it makes a few small developments with Wells while also dropping a teaser or two. "Grodd Lives" may have a little too much emotion and drama for some viewers and I do think a reaction or two from Iris was frustrating, but overall, I believe it was all handled in a fairly realistic way. Best of all, it addressed the drama head-on and didn't save the resolutions for another day. Even if you aren't happy with that arc, aren't you at least glad they got it out of the way and didn't make it last for a few episodes? Plus, Grodd was awesome. Man, when he caught Barry's punch? How can someone not love that? This may not be one of my favorite episodes, but it sure is an important one and it takes some critical steps to set the stage for what's to come. Thanks to The Flash's personality, excitement, and heart, you really don't need to be a comic book fan to love this show. 

4/5