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If Life Is A Bowl Of Headcrabs, This Must Be Ravenholm

It has been much too long since I shared with my loyal (or at least, loyal in my head) readers, and I apologize for the oversight. The last week has been filled to the brim with joy, sadness, and gaming goodness across the board - so rather than cause any more delay, please indulge me while I catch you up.

Allow me to start with the sadness: today I received word that my great aunt Thelma died of lung cancer. It was a tough way to begin the day, as I loved her dearly, and she was one of the few members of my extended family that I truly adored. My strongest memories of her were of the protracted gossip sessions she held with my mother on the telephone, which developed a vague aura of hens cackling in a barnyard. In fact, that particular image I have of her is so strong, I wrote a poem about her for my college poetry class (presided over by the incomparable Rita Dove, an extraordinary American poet). Thelma had been suffering for some time, and while I can understand that her delivery from pain is a blessing, I will miss her terribly. She was a strong, loving woman, grounded in reality but always kind and empathetic, a shining gem in my small, industrial hometown. Aunt Thelma, if perhaps you are still somehow with us, I hope you can hear my prayers, and know that you touched my life deeply. I regret never being able to say goodbye, but I hope in my heart that it is simply au revoir, and that we will soon see each other again.

My sad news capped an otherwise productive but busy week. Busy, because work has been particularly stressful; productive, because I finished Half-Life 2 in time to write what I hope is a comprehensive review of what I now consider to be the best shooter of this generation, and possibly the greatest FPS of all time. I won't waste space telling you here, when you can zoom over to my review. Feel free to email me any feedback, particularly since the emails from angry Killzone fans continue to stream in. I don't know if this is some kind of concerted effort to elicit apologies from the many reviewers that scored it low (including all three major gaming sites), but I am growing weary of the whining - so please, Killzone fans, drop it already. It's just not very good. If you enjoy it, that's great, but really, stop wasting your time with unnecessary flames and spend that valuable time playing this game you seem to sincerely love, against all odds.

The next half of today's journalistic sweetness will be a little pictorial, hopefully first in a short series. I realized I have been sharing a lot of deeply personal information, but I have failed introduce you to my daily life, such as it is. For those who are just catching up, have been awakened from cryogenic slumber, or simply suffer from sudden narcolepsy upon reading my blog, welcome to my world. So, now, without further adieu, KTV productions presents:

Cub At Home

Sit, Ubu, Sit.

Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, sit back and relax, while I take you on a guided tour of my home. On a side note, if you have any connections with those Extreme Home Makeover people, make sure to toss out my name. I'll invite you over for chips and dip - or Tostitos (or is it Tostitoes? Dan Quayle, where are you when I need you?) and Salsa, if you prefer.

We start with the room that sees the least amount of action: the bedroom. Note the well-made bed, which illustrates a cardinal rule in housekeeping: even if the room is in shambles, it looks a great deal neater if the bed is made. You oppressed housewives out there, take note. A corollary of this rule is that a made bed feels better to crawl into after a long day, so take that extra 3 minutes, even if you wait until you get home from work; you won't regret it. Also note the stairstepper to your left. It sees very occasional use, although if I am too zealous, my quads hurt so much I can barely descend the stairs to the parking lot the following day.

Here, we have the most important component of the bedroom: the entertainment center. Currently, this TV has a PS2 and GameCube hooked up to it (the Xbox is elsewhere, as you will discover soon enough). Currently, the games getting most play in this room are Hot Shots Golf Fore! and X-Men Legends. The GameCube has been gathering a bit of dust lately, but Viewtiful Joe 2 is about to get its motors whirring again. That DVD player has Finding Nemo in it, still one of my favorite "comfort films," and the stereo is playing a few items, most commonly Rich's Shania Twain CD and Zero-7's brilliant album When It Falls. I wish I had a more comfortable chair in there, though, and I am considering getting one of those comfy-looking gaming chairs I saw at Best Buy.

Next we have the kitchen and dining area. I have yet to paint the dining room, but it will eventually be some shade of green or another. I do love my dining room table, although the chairs pissed me off. Due to a factory mistake, the wrong seats shipped with the chair frames, so I was not able to assemble them without a great deal of effort, which involved drilling new holes and the such (I'm butch for a homo). You can also see another little gaming area in the corner, where the kids have been playing a lot of GTA: San Andreas and Midnight Club 2. Do I approve of them playing these mature games? Hell, no - but Rich supervises them and trusts them to make the right life choices, and he always makes sure they understand the consequences of their actions. I love Rich, and I am proud that he trusts his children more than I probably would.

Here's the infamous living room, where the Golden Margarita walls and the frilly border have grown more home-y as the weeks pass, with the help of those Martha Stewart curtains. I also lucked out with some cheap plants from my friend Jeff, whose father is a florist. The center to the right sees NO gaming, whatsoever; Rich is adamant that there be one place where he can watch TV in movies without having someone usurp his space with another video game. Conceivably, we have enough televisions and systems that all three kids, Rich and I could all be gaming at the same time in different places, but he reserves the television in the living room for himself. Can't say I blame him.

But if Rich gets his own space, well, I deserve mine too, right? Never fear, my compatriots! Allow me to show you - THE SPOT. THE SPOT consists of my super-duper gaming pc, which features a 3.4 Ghz Pentium 4 processor, a Radeon X800 256MB video card, and can iron my clothes, shine my shoes, and wash my back when I shower. On the monitor, you can see Half-Life Source loading, although the TV is oddly dark. Odd, because Halo 2 has been taking up a lot of the screen lately. This is where my Xbox and another PS2 reside; the Xbox has also seen some Otogi 2 action lately, while 12-year-old Ryan spends some time on Kingdom Hearts there. I attempted in vain to make the plant look like an organic extension of the space, but at least it camouflages the area somewhat from the side, which is where the front door is located.

Last, but definitely not least, is the kid's room. Dustyn sleeps on the top bunk and Ryan on the bottom; Gregory takes the other bed. What you don't see here is their little gaming center, where they have both a Gamecube and a Nintendo 64 (Pikachu edition) hooked up. When I was looking through their games today, I noticed they have a copy of Turok Evolution. I really must sit down with them and have a little talk, dontcha think? I am a particular fan of that orange monkey grasping the ladder. In fact, almost all of the stuffed animals in the room I won at carnivals and amusement parks.

Well, friends and neighbors, that brings us to the conclusion of today's episode of Cub At Home. I hope you will join us on the next edition, entitled: Cub At Work.

Which reminds me: can I borrow a cup of sugar?