One hell of a concert

A week ago I learned that Paramore will have a concert, five minutes from where I live, in February next year. I have stated, time and again, I’m a huge Hayley Williams fan. Damn it, my background photo in Twitter is Hayley Williams during a concert in Hamburg. The tickets, are only about 200 USD, and I can stand in front of the crowd and enjoy my first live band experience. And yes, also to weep and scream in front of Hayley.

However, my wife is due with our first child in late May or early June next year. That means serious belt tightening, because, come on, once the baby comes out, it’s all expenses until he/she gets their college degree.

Also, we missed out on Bruno Mars and Coldplay concerts, which, I had promised my wife that we would watch – I had, at that time, been trying to win some points so that the wife won’t ever raise concerns when I insist on going to a Paramore concert- which is actually happening in a few months damn it. Alas, fucking hoarders took all the tickets and will be selling them x6 of the actual ticket prices. Come on, we know that’s true.

In any case, I won’t be experiencing Paramore. I won’t ever get to see Hayley Williams and head bang on “That’s What You Get” and “Brick by Boring Brick” and of course, “Pressure.” But oh well.

At least I got to experience Nicholas Eames’ “Kings of the Wyld.”

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How the fuck did we get from Paramore to this? I don’t know. I don’t give a shit. All I know “Kings of the Wyld” is fucking awesome. I laughed out loud as the characters engaged in the most hilarious banters and scenarios, I wept with them, and I was head banging all throughout the epic action scenes.

Look, “Kings of the Wyld” is inspired by heavy metal rock stars. It’s a world where, mercenaries, called “Bands” are worshiped as one might Black Sabbath, Metallica, DragonForce, Iron Maiden, you know the who they are. I think I also KISS in there somewhere, maybe also The Runaways. Oh, and Elvis is in it too, at least mentioned.

Do you guys know that scene from “Guardians of the Galaxy”?

I’m talking about this.

 

Yeah, there’s something like that in the book. And you know what? It’s freaking awesome.

“Kings of the Wyld” has druins. Basically, elves with Playboy bunny ears. Dragons. Manticores. Basilisks. Golems. You name it. It’s “Warcraft” where everything and anything is in there. And you know? It’s freaking awesome.

I’ve read epics, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” “Malazan Book of the Fallen,” partially “Wheel of Time,” “Mistborn,” “The Dark Tower,” you know, the usual stuff, and often these books are massive with complex stories and sinister plot twists. “Kings of the Wyld” does not have any of that. It’s a straightforward, sword and sorcery adventure. And you know what? Damn right you do. It’s freaking awesome.

It’s about a retired band, who’s getting back together for one last gig, which is to rescue the frontman’s (yes, they literally call him the “frontman” of the band) daughter, who is trapped in a city, under siege by all things nasty, led by a druin (technically elves with Playboy bunny ears). This is, by all means, not save the damsel kind of thing. The daughter happens to be a warrior herself who can butcher monsters that come her way.

The entire journey consists of the band getting back together and going through the Wyld – the forest where all things nasty live – in order to reach the city. And look, there’s not much action until the second half of the book, and you know what? That’s just fine. The characters are what makes the story come alive.

Imagine Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Motorhead, or whoever the hell from the ’70s, coming back to the world and then surrounded by the likes of One Direction. Yeah, it’s that kind of surreal experience, where undergarments are flung and taverns set on fire.

Look, the book is awesome and fun.

Now I take my leave and sulk over missing out on this.

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Sea of Rust

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“Sea of Rust” felt like reading a “Mad Max 2” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” novel.

One of the best books I’ve read all year. It’s fast paced, full of well-written action. It has the flow of a film, likely because of C. Robert Cargill’s experience as a screenwriter. There’s enough excitement and backstory to keep readers entertained.

The characters are fun with just enough development. Well, each character gets a page or a chapter of development. And it served its purpose enough to get us, rather, me, interested or like them.

It’s Brittle, the main protagonist, our first-person narrator we get to spend much of our time with. She’s probably the most reliable-unreliable narrator I’ve encountered in first-person perspectives. We see the world how she describes it and understand the history as she knows it. Also, that ending was terrific and emotional in every possible way.

The Emperor’s Blades


Holy Hull. This was an awesome book. It kicks off real simple at first, the emperor is dead, and two of his three children are unaware of it: One trains to be a badass assassin, and the other, the heir, invests his time getting buried alive, haul stones, getting cuffed at the back of his head, and drink tea, to reach a state of Nirvana.

The book opens with a prologue that shows you the meaning of rot, and then the following chapter paves way to a graphic scene of a corpse. I should say the chapter had me hooked and I was curious enough to keep on reading until things unraveled.

I have no problem with graphic violence in the stuff I read and watch. But what bothered me in “The Emperor’s Blades” is how it’s all the women getting butchered in graphic detail. The inclusion of one kick-ass woman in the book doesn’t help elevate that. 

Beyond this, the book was a great read. I loved the description and the prose. I loved the pacing, despite being a long book, everything moved at a fast and clear pace. 

There are three main POVs, each of the emperor’s children, but we spend most of our time with the two boys – the assassin and the monk – and only about three chapters with the eldest, the daughter. Though from a certain perspective I can understand why she had so few chapters and I can only imagine things will change, fast, in the next two books when shit gets real.

As the characters are scattered throughout the empire I felt there was deep immersion and how large the world is. Each one was so different from the others. So different when something shook up the status quo, it felt like a threatening alien presence.

After this book I’m pretty much sure I’ll read everything Brian Stavely, the author, writes. For now, onward to Book Two: The Providence of Fire!

Now, this is my type of galaxy


One of my bosses in my day job was invited to an event in Singapore to learn more about Samsung’s newest tablet, the Galaxy Book.

It’s a device that’s designed to go head-to-head against the Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

I got my hands on it for a little while and the first thing I noticed was how heavy it is for a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good portable device and lighter than laptops. And, according to my boss, comes with its own stylus and keyboard, unlike Apple where you need to get the Pencil and the Smart Keyboard separately. 

The keyboard that ships with the Galaxy Book is without its flaws. But it’s something you can really type with on the get-go. From my experience, the early moments of the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro’s keyboards were a little jarring and I needed to get used to it, much more than other foreign keyboards I’ve worked with. It also has those satisfying clicks whenever you punch them down.


It also runs on a Windows 10 platform, something I’m familiar with. Though it’s likely 1000x susceptible to malware infection, depending on your online activities. But that’s more of a cybersecurity matter. 

In Philippine peso it’s priced around 40K, about a little more than $1,000. It’s almost carries the same price tag as an aged Apple MacBook Air, which I still consider a really damn good typing machine.

In any case, I like the Galaxy Book. Consider this Certified DAMN!

Press release follows:

The Galaxy Book is Samsung’s latest offering in the workbook segment boasting of combined power and mobility for the go-getters. Working on the go will be a breeze as this workbook is powered by Windows 10 Operating System, pre-installed with a Microsoft Office Suite, and comes with a full-keyboard cover case.


If you’re one who loves taking notes down old-school style, you will surely love the S-Pen. The Galaxy Book’s Advanced S-Pen has a fine 0.7mm pen tip for precise note-taking and drawing. Its high-pressure sensitivity provides a realistic writing experience that will surely delight he writers out there.

The Galaxy Book also helps you keep that corporate style on point. No need to lug around your bulky laptop in that extra bag. This new innovation comes in an elegant all-metal body–only at 8.99mm thin, and lightweight at 648g.

Grim Company

I just finished reading Luke Scull’s “Grim Company” 2am last night. I ended up waking up real late and having to explain to my boss about my tardiness, especially on a day when important stuff was about to happen.

In any case, it was worth it. I spent about three days reading through the book, with about a total of seven hours. Not a record breaker or anything, except on day three, when I started reading at around 9pm.

I enjoyed the background. Magelords risen up to gods, the corpses strewn on the land, where magic is harnessed and all the other cool shit happening. It was a massive thrill ride from start to finish. The characters were interesting and full of so many flaws, so many you can’t help but actually appreciate them for it. One of the main character, Davarus Cole, well, let’s just say he’s a dick, but he always meant well, despite himself. And, even someone like him actually becomes a fun character to follow around.

I really have no idea what else to say about it. It’s fun, full of action, there’s an amazing background, the characters are awesome, and there’s so much more happening behind-the-scenes. No, not another game of politics, this one swings the action and doesn’t let up. There are looming threats that we’re all familiar with.

Prose is great! Though I’ll be a little direct here. Scull isn’t on the level of George RR Martin or Steven Erikson, when it comes to piecing words together in the most stylish and thought-provocative way. But Scull delivers full clarity, with images bursting into your mind as you read through the pages. It’s glorious writing when you lose yourself in the words and just find yourself sitting in the middle of the entire book like you were just watching an IMAX film.

Wrapping this up, “Grim Company” is one of the best damn books I’ve ever read in recent years. And I’m eager to get started with book two “Sword of the North” as soon as possible.

 

Wonder Woman


I’ll keep this brief: “Wonder Woman” is the most amazing superhero film I’ve seen yet.

It isn’t something built on hype. If anything, Warner and DC didn’t put as much marketing effort as it had with “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and still “Woman Woman” was an explosive powerhouse of great action and great storytelling.

I say great storytelling because “Wonder Woman” tells more than one. It’s a coming-of-age tale where Diana comes to understand her purpose, it’s a heroes’ journey, it’s a story about World War I, it’s a love story, it’s a story about gods and mortals, and most of all, it’s a superhero story.

I look back in previous superhero films and not one of them came close to actually being a superhero. In 2008 with “Iron Man,” Tony Stark developed his suit first to escape captivity, and then again, to destroy the weapons manufactured by his own company on enemy hands. “Thor” was just a spoiled battle hungry god who got a time out from his dad and was just making penance. And good ole “Captain America” was a weapon of the United States to punch the hell out of HYDRA. 

I’m not bashing Marvel here. I love their films but you’ve got to admit, the first fight scene with Diana coming out as Woman Woman for the first time, where she went out of her way to help people in desperate need, that’s a superhero moment there. She was willing to abandon her mission and her own safety to save lives. Literally save lives – civilian lives – out of immediate danger between the trenches of World War I.

That moment where Diana rose up that ladder: It was glorious. Of course the music helped stirred my emotions but it was no less the most epic thing I’ve seen in a superhero film. I had to dig way back in the attic of my mind to find something similar, and what came out was Sam Raimi’s own “Spider-Man 2” where our friendly wall-crawler stopped an overspeeding train.

The heroics doesn’t stop there. At some point every supporting character had done something heroic and things continue to build up to the final closing scenes.

“Wonder Woman” is an excellent example that DC and Warner can produce excellent superhero films within their Extended Universe. It tells a clear and comprehensive story with just the right amount of humor and excellent action. That’s why “Woman Woman” succeeded. It’s going to be a tough act to follow up but here’s to the future of “Wonder Woman.” 

Now let’s see if “Justice League” is on par with “Wonder Woman.”

LG plays safe with the G6

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This 2017 there is a spectrum in flagship phones. Both Samsung and Huawei have recently played their cards and are topping the Android industry. Sony is about to show off their newest contender, while HTC just announced theirs in high hopes to make a comeback in the hall of smartphone champions.

What about LG? Year after year they have been giving us excellent phones, though with gimmicky features. The G2, for instance, rocked the industry by placing its home button at the back. (Something that has been replicated in more recent phones, like Asus and Huawei.) The G4 gave us a leatherback with a somewhat curved design. I don’t know what the G3 brought to the table, despite having owned one for a while, I’m guessing it’s the 2K screen. And of course, the G5 introduced modular features that absolutely went nowhere, and that last one was a bad hit for LG.

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So what about the new LG G6? It’s safe to say that this is LG’s safest phone yet. A simpler design and well-built. It comes with hardware you’d expect from a flagship device. Though the chipset used here isn’t the latest one, which is quite a head scratcher, really.

Let’s break things down, rating each of them.

Design: 4/5 

If you ask me, I love the simpler design the G6 has over its predecessors. It has no curved screen, no disgusting leatherback, no modularity with expensive modules, no nothing. Just a great-looking phone with nice specs and other staple things.

This is an era where we are getting regular-sized phones with larger screens. The bezels of the G6 is almost nonexistent, a testament to the screen’s durability over years of development. It’s a tall phone with a tall screen and a width so much slimmer than the G5. It’s a great phone to binge on Netflix and just chill the F-Out.

While the frontal design of the G6 is nice and swell, the rear, should be smooth and, well, nice to touch. The G6 unit I managed to get my hands on was covered with a protective film, and that could only mean the darker colored G6 is a fingerprint bitch. As far as I know, without the protective layer, the back is an all glass panel built with Gorilla Glass 5. And as far as my experience goes with LG, they have sturdy phones. My G3 unit had a lot of bad drops. So did my LG G4 Beat. And before those, I had an LG L70, which underwent a ton of accidental waist-high drops. Oh, there were scratches and some dents, but the fact remains, the screen was intact and fully operational.

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The volume rockers are found in the left side of the phone that allows left-handed users to thumb through the volume. Right-handed users can go finger them with the index finger. SIM tray goes to the right side, a Type-C USB port for fast charging and fast transfer speeds, and a headphone jack. (Go suck it Apple, we want our wired headphones!)

Specs: 4/5

Display: 1440×2880

Screen size: 5.7-inch

Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM: 4GB

Memory: 32GB and 64GB

Dual cameras: 13MP (Both)

Front camera: 5MP

Battery: 3300

Water and dust resistant with IP68: Hell yeah!

If you look at it like that, it’s not so bad, right? While some phones kick balls with six gigs of RAM, the G6 maintains a stronghold for 4GB, and that’s not really a bad thing, as the phone is blazing fast as it already is. The difference would have been only fractions of a second.

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What bothers me here is the chipset. While most flagships use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or an 831, at least, the G6 uses an 821. Phones that use this are: Google Pixel and Pixel XL, Xiaomi Note 2, OnePlus 3T, and Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe. All of those phones are well regarded with excellent performance, so I wouldn’t think twice about how well of a performer the G6 is.

That wasn’t to say the 821 chipset is bad. It’s just a little outdated. But make no mistake, the 821 fires up all the G6’s cores and runs all the apps you’ll ever need without flinching.

Software: 4/5

Who cares about software? It runs on Android 7 Nougat. LG’s own Knock-On has returned without a doubt. If you’re unfamiliar with that, you just double-tap your screen to awaken the phone. LG has this since the G2 and it’s been a nice addition. Though, I’m not sure if it’s the unit I have right now, or if there’s some flimsy code on LG’s part, but the Knock-On feature doesn’t always respond. The same goes with my pressing of the rear home button.

The Always-On Display, which is seen in some phones today, is present in the G6. So if you rely on your phone to check the time, you no longer have to open your phone to view it. Other notifications and battery status are always on the screen despite the phone being locked.

Camera: 3/5

Let’s get this down before the initial knee-jerk reaction. The G6’s camera is excellent. The colors are accurate, vibrant, and sharp. It has nice gestures that allows you to take selfies without pressing the shutter button. You can switch between its two rear cameras to get different aspect ratio contrasts and depth. It has the usual staple: Time-lapse, filters, slow-motion, among others. The dual rear cameras firing at 13MP each and the frontal 5MP, are absolutely fine and deserves to be in a flagship phone. However, compared to other phones out there, the G6 lags behind by a hair.

Here are some sample shots.

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Conclusion

Unlike other phone makers: Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and OPPO who all introduce their flagship phones alongside a bigger “Plus” version, LG sets aside their big-ass phone for a couple months. I’m talking about the LG V series. Last year the LG V20 received a warmer and more loving welcome than the main G5 had. While I do love the simpler G6, it’s hard not to hold my breath for a few more months before making up my mind, the next LG V phone is just across the horizon, after all.