Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
He shaved off his locks! Now it's a crew cut! Brrr.... his scalp'll be cold this time of year. Anyway... VOTE! Upgrade or Downgrade???
(Just add a comment to this post... you don't have to be a member of Blogger to post either... just do it as a "Guest.")
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
They met playing "Halo" in 2004, and in January they'll get married by a guy wearing Master Chief armor.
Desirai Labrada, 29, and John Henry, 26, are having a "Halo" wedding.
And it was her idea.
(Check out engagement photos, the "Halo"-themed invitations and more wedding details.)
Desirai and John are big-time "Halo" players. She games under the name SickNDeHed. He plays as PsychoVandal. They met when she lived in New York and he was in Florida. She'd become Xbox Live friends with his roommate, and they slowly started to play games together, regularly. When he didn't show up online one day during the time they usually played, she sent him a message and her phone number.
"I was drawn to her laugh," John said in a phone interview with MTV News earlier this week. "I had made her laugh a few times and thought her laugh was kind of cute."
They played "Halo" as teammates. As they were falling in love, they tended to protect each other a lot, watching each other's back as lasers and grenades fell around them. And in an act of sacrifice only possible during a blossoming romance, Desirai agreed to take Dramamine so she could last through three-hour binges of campaign mode on "Halo 3" with John without getting motion sickness.
That's true love.
They met in person in 2005. John picked Desirai up at the airport and got her over her apprehension about a first kiss by kissing her right in the terminal. She moved down to Florida to be around John and enrolled in a graphic-design program at Full Sail University. And in January of this year, as she was waiting for John to pop the question, she had an idea pop into her head: a "Halo" wedding.
" 'Wouldn't it be cool if people at my wedding could play games?' " Desirai remembered thinking. "I kept coming up with ideas of how I could bring 'Halo' into it."
She told John. He wasn't fazed. "I thought it was a cool idea," he said. "I love 'Halo'; I love her." Asked during his MTV News interview which he loved more, he paused a moment, and then blurted, "Her."
Desirai and John knew they'd need help for the wedding. They'd be paying for it themselves. Desirai had graduated from Full Sail and started talking to the school about staging the wedding there, maybe in 2010. She started a Web site with John, AMatchMadeInHalo.com, and planned to solicit sponsors. Full Sail's administration kicked in. They helped find a florist to provide flowers (which will sport their "Halo" Spartan colors of crimson and royal blue, of course). They helped find a jeweler (which wouldn't make rings shaped like "Halo" halos, John found out). They helped find a baker (which will make a "Halo"-themed cake). Microsoft and "Halo" maker Bungie Studios haven't weighed in yet, but it's assumed they'll be happy about this event.
The concept of a "Halo" wedding doesn't mesh with all family traditions. John floated the idea to his family, whom he described as being "along the redneck side." Some of them got it but remain perplexed as to what they should wear. It seems that some guests think they have to dress in "Halo" fashions. They don't. Desirai's family is so "very old-fashioned Cuban" that she hasn't told them about the gaming theme. "I figure the less they know about it, the less they can protest," Desirai said. She's telling herself that it won't be a big hassle anyway, because her wedding will be a subtle affair. Many people won't realize that the emblem on her wedding dress is her "Halo" emblem, for example. They won't realize that, instead of the "Bridal Chorus," the song playing is the music that plays on the "Halo 3" menu screen. But the officiant dressed in the Master Chief armor might be the giveaway that there's something different about these nuptials.
There have been some scares leading up to the wedding. There was the crisis when the matron of honor expressed confusion as to who Master Chief is. That's been cleared up.
Another small crisis: Full Sail suggested that the wedding get moved up to early 2009, to be held during the school's Otronicon tech and gaming convention in Orlando. The problem was that the wedding date wouldn't fall on any of the "Halo"-themed dates John and Desirai were considering, like the "Halo" launch anniversary in November. Full Sail's plans called for the marriage to commence on January 17. Desirai and John accepted this non-"Halo" element. And then, a magical moment occurred. "At one point, I'm typing in the URL that has the date, the number 117," Desirai said. "And I said, 'John, what's Master Chief's Spartan number?' He said: '117.' " Saved!
So the wedding will be on January 17 at Otronicon in a hall in the Orlando Science Center. The wedding ceremony will be private, but the bride and groom will make an appearance for convention attendees. After their wedding, instead of a first dance, they will host a Bride vs. Groom "Halo" tournament that is open to the public.
By the way: Desirai considered dressing up as Cortana for the wedding (John would have been Master Chief), but she nixed it. "I'm too much of a girl," she said. She wanted to wear a real wedding dress.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's hard as a rock, has a slight scent of spice and looks like Frankenstein, with knob-like mints protruding from its sides. But, hey, will any of us look any better than Pierre Girard's fruitcake when we're 97 years old?
"Most people won't touch it," said the Golden Valley, Minn., resident with a chuckle. "Others say, 'I wouldn't have that in my house. I'm afraid of it.' I think I'm the only one that really loves it."
Ya think? Especially when even a young fruitcake, like many holiday traditions, evokes decidedly mixed feelings.
"My first reaction was 'Eww, I don't want to eat that one,'" said Sue Riley, a neighbor who first encountered the cake at Girard's Christmas party last year. "It's really ugly."
The cake's history, aside from its being baked a few months before the Titanic sank, is shrouded in mystery. Two of Girard's friends, Audrey Staber and Dick Scheimo, found it on a St. Louis Park, Minn., closet shelf while doing an estate-sale assessment in 1992. The elderly resident had died with no heirs, and Girard never learned her name before Staber and Scheimo subsequently passed away.
But the cake came in a box with cryptic inscriptions: "Xmas cake Baked in dec. 1911" on top, "Xmas Cake baked by my mother's brother Alex died Dec. 27. Was operated on Xmas day" on the bottom.
Staber and Scheimo gave Girard the cake at a holiday gathering at T.K. Nick's in Golden Valley. Hilarity ensued. But when Girard decided to keep the cake, his friends "were amazed," he said. They shouldn't have been: Girard said he always has had a well-known weakness for "old things and castoffs ... and I've always had a reputation for keeping old food around."
Since he loves a good yarn as much as he does antiques, Girard baked up one for this cake. "I got to thinking, there's a story here. This is somebody's life, and she valued this."
He first learned that his new possession was part of a Victorian-era holiday tradition in which a family would make a spice cake, soak it in brandy and rum, eat part of it and put it away for the next year, adding a new layer when it got small. Girard took that bit of history and ran with it. His concoction:
"Alex was cooking a new top for the cake. So he was frosting the cake, and while doing that, the knife touched the bottom and got contaminated. And the last thing he did was lick the knife, and he got sick. Once he got sick, his family decided, 'We won't eat the cake 'til Alex comes home.' And when he never came home, they felt bad and put it away and never ate it again.
"So for that family in 1911, that old Victorian tradition stopped."
With crumbling pecans and a motley, uneven frosting streaked with curvy pinkish lines - "I don't think that's blood veins," Girard quipped - the cake, like most things nearly a century old, looks every bit its age. It might be the oldest baked good in the state.
"Nobody around here has heard of any kind of food nearly that old," said Bill Belknap, spokesman for Hennepin County Public Health Protection. "It does beg the question: How long does a fruitcake last?"
Up to 25 years, according to "The Joy of Cooking," "when they are well-saturated with alcoholic liquors, which raise the spirits and keep down molds."
There's no question, then, that the cake was soaked in booze, which has served lo these many years as a preservative and kept it from disintegrating or being eaten by critters. Girard says dogs generally take a whiff and quickly turn away.
Humans, on the other hand, have taken much more interest in at least checking out the cake. Before he retired, Girard would take it to work at Qwest; his co-workers and fellow bus riders would marvel at this chunk of history.
His partner of the last six years, Dennis Borrel, was a bit more nonplussed. "I thought, 'Why in the world would anybody keep this?' But somebody kept it all those years before Pierre got it," he said. "It doesn't mean much to me one way or the other. But it's the only Christmas decoration that gets stored upstairs; all the rest go to the basement. So I do give it its place of honor."
But its real place of honor comes at this time of year. Last December, it was displayed at the neighborhood party alongside a barrel of Nouveau Beaujolais that Borrel had won, marking perhaps the first time anywhere that a wine was 96 years younger than the "food" accompanying it.
"I had one woman say, 'I think I'm getting sick from that, having an allergic reaction.' But knowing her, I think she was probably just trying to get a day off of work," Girard said. "We used to joke that it was the origin of the Ebola virus, or that there is a cure for every known disease in there.
"And of course, 'A fruitcake for the fruitcake,' I've had that comment several times."
The comments will continue, especially as Girard prepares for a gala 100th birthday party three years hence. But rather than a Nouveau Beaujolais, might we suggest a 1911 Port?
Monday, December 8, 2008
A farmer from Lebanon couldn't believe his eyes when he discovered he had grown a prize-winning potato on his land, he told AFP on Saturday, saying he was hoping to enter the Guinness World Records. Skip related content
Related photos / videos Enlarge photo "This giant weighs 11.3 kilos (24.9 pounds)," Khalil Semhat said at his farm in the Tyre area, 85 kilometres (50 miles) south of Beirut.
"I've been working the land since I was a boy, and it's the first time I've seen anything like it."
Semhat, 56, said he had not done anything special to cultivate such a super-sized spud. "I didn't use any chemicals at all," he insisted, adding that he had to ask a friend to help him haul the huge tuber out of the ground.
Now he hopes the find will get a mention in the famous Guinness Book of Records, and said he will send in the details for possible inclusion next year.
He said he was "very proud" to have grown the enormous specimen on his farm, which took a pounding in 2006 during the war between Israel and Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A Vero Beach man is accused of assaulting his girlfriend multiple times with a McDonald's cheeseburger, according to his arrest affidavit.
The woman told the Indian River County Sheriff's Office she was sitting a car in front of the home she shares with Vincent Gonzalez, 22, of the 300 block of 12th Road, Vero Beach. The couple began arguing and Gonzalez would not allow her to leave the car, the affidavit said. The woman threw Gonzalez's drink out of the car, the report said. In response, Gonzalez grabbed the woman's arm and forced the cheeseburger into her face, the report said. Both of them stepped out of the vehicle and Gonzalez smashed the cheeseburger again into the woman's face.
Deputies charged Gonzalez with battery domestic violence. He remained in the Indian River County Jail Wednesday in lieu of $1,000 bail.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) - A lady lobster with four claws was pulled from the deep this week in the waters off Newport.
With a large crusher claw and three pincher claws - instead of the usual one - the crustacean was unlike anything 39-year-old lobsterman Patrick Marks had ever seen in his 14 years catching the creatures.
All of the lobster's excess appendages worked.
Marks, of Portsmouth, trapped the mutated animal about 60 miles south of Newport and hauled her up on Monday.
Marks told the Newport Daily News he sometimes lets lobsters go out of guilt when they look at him funny.
So after showed off the multi-clawed lobster for most of the day, he let her go. She weighed 1.5 pounds and could have sold for $7.50 retail.