Monday, October 28, 2013

Bob Carr Nazis

This pic, from another production company, shows correct period costuming.
I went to see my second live opera yesterday at the Bob Carr. "The Barber of Seville" featured good rousing musical numbers, pretty, albeit anachronistic costuming, a cookie-cutter yet epitomically farcical plot and adequate lighting.

The orchestra was positioned this time in its pit yet they were exposed as opposed to during Broadway series musicals when the orchestra (of the touring troupe, not this, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra) is buried under the stage. This foreshortening of the stage depth may be the reason for the rather abysmal set design, but maybe it's just a lack of talent...the set components and props that were used were not that visually aesthetic or creative.

But let's get right into all the other things that just weren't right about this performance, shall we? 'Cause I ain't no reviewer for the Sentinel and I'm not going to be hurting anyone's feelings since they'll never read this. And besides, having to endure yet another visit to the much despised Bob Carr puts me into a snitty, cynical mood.

Yet again, the music emitting from the orchestra pit was actually more than really was quite good (The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra can hold its own any day with other better known orchestras I'm sure) but that quality doesn't matter if you have to strain to hear it. Makes me wonder if they even have them mic'ed? Come to think of it, I couldn't see any visible mic'ing on the performers either (like the flesh-tone little bobbles taped to performers' foreheads in the Broadway productions). It could be they prefer to use only acoustical sound, maybe out of veneration of some tradition? If so, this would be just one of the many differences I've become informed of regarding Opera vs. Broadway Musical performances...especially here, at the dreaded, and evil...oh yes, evil...Bob Carr.

Regarding the music as composed, it had a little bit of everything...peppy, jaunty numbers and swooning romantic tomes but other than the iconic "Figaro" piece, it just seemed, well, kinda forgettable. I didn't come away playing a newly-learned tune in my head. And as for the aforementioned "Figaro" piece, it came up pretty early on, in the first half which was unfortunate for me since I was imprisoned in the cheap seats by the Bob Carr Nazis.

I was five minutes late and arrived to the doors of the orchestra seating area just as the overture had begun. Rather than allow me to quietly and discretely scoot to my seat without much of a fuss, especially since the performance hadn't really begun yet, the usher (ie. self-appointed Gestapo enforcer) told me I couldn't be seated since I was late and I'd have to wait until intermission. Then as if to take pity on me she offered to guide me to the rear of the orchestra seats to see if there were any available seats I could use until intermission. Oh, brother!

Then she was distracted since other people were showing up late and she left me standing there while she went to impose her Nazi rules on them too. Indignant and impatient since the performance was starting without me, I tried sneaking down the corridor towards my appointed seating area and she snapped at me, insisting I follow her to the cheap seats.

She poked her head through the door, used her little flashlight to find an empty seat and let me slide in. But then she left me. The door closed behind her and suddenly I was there standing in the pitch dark unable to see anything except the stage area which itself was only dimly lit to allow focus on the orchestra, illuminated only by their low lumen music stand lamps. No subtle LED aisle strips or even step lights. I now saw (ironic pun intended) why one couldn't be seated during the performance. There was no way I'd be able to see well enough to find my row letter without a flashlight or light from a cell phone. And that would be undoubtedly rude.

Since the Nazi bitch abandoned me without pointing out the available seating, I was left just standing there avoiding feeling my way around lest I potentially be groping peoples' heads and shit. So I had to just stand there, facing the stage until my eyes adjusted slowly to the darkness. After what seemed an eternity I walked down the aisle and stood near the wall right at where I estimated my assigned row to be. I watched as the performance began and stayed there for the first few sets but eventually resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't unobtrusively find my proper row and even if I could, I was in seat 22 which meant I'd be pissing at least 21 people off as I tried to scoot my fat and clumsy self past them. I went back to the cheap seats which I could now see and sat in a relatively deserted section dejectedly.

When intermission came I was feeling the effects of my long day (having stayed up since the evening before due to work) and needed some caffeine. I bought a Diet Coke at the bar and proceeded to make my way back and find my assigned seat. But, shouting "Halt!" in a terse German accent (or so I imagined) the same scrunchy-faced, crimson-colored polyester blazer uniformed, old evil Nazi munchkin lady blocked my way, hands held out as if to actually push me away (I'm not kidding about that, she was really going to physically redirect me if needed!)

"Food and Beverages are NOT ALLOWED in this area, sir!" she barked as she nodded towards a faux-engraved, faux-brass sign posted on the nearby wall indicating this rule.

"Since when?" I boldly barked back, daring to challenge her. (I've always been allowed to seat with beverages before, it was allowed...everyone brought shit to the seats.) She went on to explain that the rules were different for the Broadway series performances than they were for the opera.

"That's how it has always been." she asserted imperiously, perhaps as a jibe to my obvious lack of knowledge of the proper opera etiquette. Well excuse-fucking-me! (No, I didn't say that, but oh, I sure wanted to.)

I meandered back to the bar, finished my soda, walked properly empty handed now back towards the seating area and as I passed her again I gazed at her coolly, jerked my right hand up into a quick Nazi salute, mumbled "Sieg Heil!" and marched quickly down the steps. (Yes, I actually did this. I'm such a prick.)

I finally sat in the seat I'd paid for but I found I was sandwiched between a snobby "gracefully-graying" foo-foo Winter Park type with her voluminous Irish wool cable-knit sweater/shawl cascading across the arm rest we "shared" and a stern looking old baldy who didn't utter a peep, didn't even chuckle at the comic parts of the performance and appeared inconvenienced to give even a faint half-hearted applause where applicable. Oh, and of course he was even bigger than me, smelled slightly of tobacco and breathed like Darth Vader.

The last few things that detracted from my enjoyment of this opera were somewhat minor, but seemed inappropriate or cheesy. The subtitles, high above the stage, were frequently worded in contemporary slang and modern idioms (like when one character is dismissive of another saying: "Whatever.") which was surely meant as a way of continuing the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the opera into another medium but really...where does it go next? Having characters set in the 17th century saying "LOL" or "Let's be BFFs?"

And mentioning setting in time reminds me of another issue I have. The opera's plot and events, though, of course, totally fictional (and too stupidly inane to be believed under any other circumstance) supposedly take place in the "17th century." Well, in this performance, the costuming and, I guess, set design (I'll rib that in a minute) portray fashions more in the style of the mid to late 18th century (silk brocade waistcoats, knee-length breeches, powdered wigs). From researching on the web, it appears many performances of this opera are styled as such so perhaps it was intended to be purposefully anachronistic by Rossini or tradition has set it as the expected style perhaps as a symbolically metaphorical nod to the time just before the French Revolution since the opera and that period of time both have similar themes (rigid class hierarchy, entitlement of the nobility and arranged marriages).

The set was almost minimalist and looked like they ran out of money in their budget. Some elements didn't fit well in my opinion like the contemporary-styled umbrellas hung by wire in one scene, obnoxious strobe light effects in a zany slapstick "tie-up the doctor, fling papers all about and flee the scene" act to the clearly-aluminum ladder propped up to the "balcony" near the end.

But in the end, I did, despite all these detractions enjoy the opera. In the "Fredda ed immobile, comme una statua" Act I finale, the lighting effects added a lot of pleasing visual interest and dynamics to the puppet-miming characters. And in the Act II finale, the golden balloons on sticks (and the hilariously near-naked butler and maid) are another nice touch. Overall, the vocals and instrumentals were superb and the comic elements were indeed funny. I didn't care about the romantic love story other than rooting for the cunning and vibrant underdogs and hissing the arrogant and selfish doctor. But I think that's the intent. The story used the trite stereotypical "damsel-in-distress" formula merely as a way to frame the comedy and frivolity.

I liked it. I really did. But, to be honest, I really do like this version a bit better:


Ha ha! Seriously though, I guess I'll now just have to wait patiently for the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to replace the stodgy and decrepit Bob Carr. Its Nazi staff will hopefully not follow.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One More Year Of The Bellagio Blues

I'd been hemmin' and hawin' pretty much all year over whether I should renew my lease for my apartment or leave. Well, Tuesday, not without a great amount of reservation, I put pen to paper and decided to stay for another year.

I recently wrote here and here about some of the issues I have and how I felt I needed a change. When I actually got serious about shopping around for new digs, it turns out where I am isn't so much of a bad thing after all.

Though I think it would be great to capitalize on the opportunity which still exists for buying at reduced prices, I still have some big obstacles. My credit is still not where I'd like it to be if I were to take out a mortgage. The income I make relegates me to buying small, ie. condo, and some in the lower price ranges are scarier than comparable sized apartments in the lower end rent areas. I don't have any savings so I couldn't place a down-payment. And I believe the days of no down payment mortgages are long gone.

Rents in Central Florida are rising faster than housing prices though and that's put a strain on finding an improved apartment situation to my current state. I set out Monday to view some of the more "affordable" prospects and frankly, by the end of the day, I was shocked. Available rentals in my "replacement" price range (that is, comparably equal or just a bit higher than what I pay now) are down-right frightening.

They all seemed old, smelly and I could sense that I'd be dealing with high energy bills due to ancient appliances and A/C as well as my old yet ubiquitous nemesis: bugs. What's more, though I complain about my current complex's low-end residents, these places, summed up by judging them, their cars and the surrounds by looks alone (c'mon, we all do it) really informed me that my situation could be a LOT worse off.

Since Hulk is getting, according to the latest dashboard reading, about 36 MPG, I don't think the 15 - 20 mile commute each way is going to be too expensive. It'd be nice, especially in regards to time and efficiency to live much closer to work, but from the selections I viewed this week...the cost savings would easily be chewed up and then some by the higher cost of a better quality place, or risk the potential for greater stress and depression by living in more of a ghetto.

I'm a person who has simple needs and relatively affordable hobbies so I usually, on a day to day, month to month basis, don't feel poor. I eat and drink whenever and pretty much whatever I want (often times that's not a good thing though), I go on budget vacations that are fun and interesting enough, I attend movies, live theater and frequent theme parks regularly. I can usually buy whatever video game of other techno-distraction that catches my fancy. I pay bills on time and without straining my budget. I don't feel deprived.

But that's all so very dependent on my current housing costs which are well below standard. If I had to pay what I'd really feel much more comfortable in; say a luxury resort style condo or apartment complex or, better yet, my own single-family home, I'd put an unbearable, and inevitably doomed strain on my finances.

So I know my place. I may be poor, but I refuse to go back to being poor and struggling to survive.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Now Ends The First Chrome Era

My browser preferences change over time. Whether it's real or perceived added benefits, faster or more dazzling technology or just simply being a herd animal and following the general techno-savvy hipster trends I've oscillated between the old-school Big Two and New Age Big Three several times.

Today, I go back to Firefox as my preferred browser. But not without reservations.

I really liked Chrome. It was simple, very fast and, well, hip. It was the cool offering from a technology company who had arguably almost as much of a fanboy following as its somewhat-rival Apple. Google was, in the early 2000s the trend-setter.  But, like everything, and especially true of anything to do with technology, times change.

In the past few days I've noticed what surely must be a compromise to the power of money. Boardroom deals have surely been put into play. Chrome no longer seems to support the Ad Block extension. Oh, I still have it just doesn't do what it is designed to do anymore. All ads are coming through on all sites that have them. This is not acceptable to me. But surely, I think, I knew it was gonna end sometime. Blocking all ads, as Ad Block did so well for quite a while now, not just for me, but the millions of others using it...the corporations that now dictate the way the web works would have none of it.

Firefox now seems to be the only browser where Ad Block is still doing its thing. So, until Firefox too is swayed by the greedy corporate bastards, it's my default browser. Again.

Firefox was maverick when it first appeared on the scene in the early 2000s. As the de facto replacement for the by-then-obsolete Netscape using the same Mozilla recipe, it was easy to get used to, fast, fully-customizable, and offered robust support for emerging and continually-updating embedded technologies such as Flash and Java. Most importantly though, it solidly set the standard for browsers to remain free. Though it's taken for granted today, browsers at the turn of the millennium were on the cusp of becoming what at least the Big Two were pining for: a fee based product or remaining a totally free, full-featured software tool.

The late '90s Browser Wars pitted the then-leader Netscape Navigator against the upstart, yet heavily funded and ubiquitous Internet Explorer. Netscape had been, throughout its Golden Era of the mid-nineties slowly but steadily pivoting its product towards a suite of proprietary web tools which were more and more price tag oriented. Microsoft and its infinitely powerful crystal ball (or Bill Gates' pact with the Devil perhaps) foresaw the future of the web. It knew costs of development and deployment of its browser software was dependent on support from the greater (and growing) web developer community that chose to enable their sites for optimization for only a few browser technologies. Microsoft needed to ensure IE was their primary focus. This would ensure IE's popularity among PC users and thus, by association, Window's continued dominance in the choice of PC manufacturers selection for operating systems.

For me, my ultimate browser preference has always been for the least intrusive, quickest and simplest option. Yet I also want support of developers and add-on apps. What's more, it has to be slick-looking and cool. I want it all.

My first real web browser was a Mosaic version of the NCSA developed software. I think it was supported by the University of Wisconsin, or something like that. Before this nearly everyone was relegated to using America Online's proprietary portal.

Less an actual browser and more like one of their then standard forum interfaces it provided users like me with a mirrored virtual WWW. Only AOL pre-selected sites would be offered and in a format compatible to its software. Once independent ISPs caught on and AOL lost its hegemony, people were free to choose their own browser software. But let me tell you, by saying "people" I'm not using that identifier as one would today. Today, that term would refer to the current market of internet users. And today that literally means virtually everyone. But back then "people" using the internet were still predominantly white, Western, male, young and well, by the nature of the beast, geeky.

When Netscape came on the scene it seemed like it all made sense now. Netscape, if I recall correctly, was the first to integrate FTP, Newsgroups and  the WWW into one package. And when web-based email started emerging, it simplified all your tools into one relatively slim package. Very important in the hard drive rationed, memory budgeted, CPU taxed world of the 1990's PCs.

Internet Explorer came out sometime in the late nineties (I'm writing all this without checking reference material such as Wikipedia...I'll do an UPDATE at the end to let you know how accurate my memory is) and it just seemed to put Netscape to bed. For me at least. I was reluctant, at first, to adhere to the new trend. Even simply calling Bookmarks "Favorites" seemed weird and alien. But it grew on me. And others, apparently, since it grew in popularity to eventually win out on this round of the wars and Netscape trod begrudgingly yet progressively into the sunset.

Yet it started to become more and more encumbered and less adaptable for my tastes. I think it was version 6.0 where it started already looking and performing like a hurdy gurdy in a techno band. I ditched it for Firefox and imported my "Favorites" into now-nostalgically named "Bookmarks" once again.

Chrome came out at a time when GUI interfaces still clinged to semi-3D shaded accents for application controls (back button and the like) and it seemed too 2D and plain. But it got the tabs concept "right" and won me over to using them. It was undeniably fast as well. Plus, it was a Google product and I was a Google fanboy.

But not allowing users to utilize technology which limits the intrusive and corrosive behavior of those who see the web as merely a way to inject more Capitalism into our short lives? To further exploit us into being no more than fodder for the greedy Corporate Machine? To kowtow to the Old World archaic Imperialistic attitudes and subject users to manipulation, subjugation and forced obsequity to the Powers that Be?

This is not a tool I'll use. Because the web must remain, forever and always, FREE, as our Forefathers Tim Berners-Lee, Marc Andreesen and Al Gore intended.

We now pause for a brief commercial message...


UPDATE: My timeline is pretty much accurate but I made sure that Chrome had both AdBlock and AdBlock Plus (two different ad blockers) and it's all good again. So I guess the Chrome Era marches on.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Last week when Nugget started making that strange noise she made a couple years ago I rolled my eyes in frustration. Sure enough, right on schedule, American cars start to become one thing after another repair-wise as soon as they pass the 60,000 odometer miles point. Nugget proved to be no exception.

The wiring issue making the speakers only half work intermittently, said wiring issue affecting the front left directional light, the directional light auto-off after turn function broken, even the clock that can't maintain the right time. These hassles, which were bearable in order to avoid repair costs but a nuisance (and in the case of the direction light being out, somewhat a safety risk) got joined by that loud noise when the speed reached 30 mph or higher. To find out what it was, it took me a YouTube video, a Pep Boys inspection and this blog post where I mention the same issue occurring a couple years back. Only then it was still under warranty. Now, the estimate to repair it was in excess of $250. To top it off, I noticed this week that Nugget endured some finish issue where some fine gritty yet sticky black dust coated the roof and parts of the hood and trunk. I took it to a car detailer and they said it would come off but not without a lot of work. $100+ of work.

So, I utilized my pre-approved credit union auto loan and traded Nugget in. So long my dear Nugget, but you were starting down the path of a slow destruction of my budget. Better to go to a new home so I can make room for this:

Within a few glances of this incredibly fun-styled mini-car, with its neon green metallic finish I knew what her (or I guess his) name would be:


And like the roller coaster he reminds me of, he's just as much fun to drive. A perky little 5-speed, I'm back, finally, to manual shift. I loved driving my stick shift hatchback cars (the Subaru, the Geo Metro and the Focus) and I'm so glad to be back in one again. I have a bit of a bigger frame to put the smaller sized car but I'm working on that. Slowly but surely.

The car is a brand-new 2013 Chevy Spark. And let me tell you, even though I'm not ecstatic about having a car bill again, I think I got a pretty good deal. With the $4,700 trade and $1000 down, I financed a mere $8,000...for a brand new car! With a 36 month payoff, and a pretty decent rate, my payments are very manageable and not a lot going to interest.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Keep Givin' 'Em Hell, Alan!

I can envision a near-future TV sitcom where I as the "every-man" narrator give the audience a rundown of the weekly shenanigans and eye-popping media-whore-orgy that is Alan Grayson...My Representative.

It'd be called: "That's My Rep, Yo!"

Grayson would be portrayed by Daniel-Day Lewis or maybe Tom Hanks and would personify the sole voice of reason in a corrupt and broken system. The Ubermench for modern America!

In the meantime, until that project is greenlighted, we have the real world Alan Grayson and his attempts to out the Republicans for what they are...greedy, hating, evil mo'fos! But the Mo'fos control the House so he will be silenced, of course. Heil Bachman! (Or whatever Neo-Nazi they're allying with nowadays)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Woonsocket The Musical

Apparently, sometime in 1982 when I was graduating high school in this eponymous city, some guy was shooting this decidedly low budget movie. Lots of memories within these grainy, age-faded 8mm images. And if you know the locales and mythos of Woonsocket lore, you'd be able to better appreciate the tongue-in-cheek lyrics of these horrible songs. Ah, once a Woonsocketite, always a Woonsocketite.

Friday, October 11, 2013

On The Nightshift

Gonna be a long night, it's gonna be all right on the nightshift
You found another home, I know you're not alone on the nightshift
Nightshift - The Commodores

So this week a new employee started her hours on the night shift and seeing her, slowly, yet ever so progressively, disintegrate into a pile of limp flesh in rumpled clothing reminded me yet again how difficult living the night shift lifestyle is for most people. For me, I feel pretty acclimated by now but living the life comes at a great price of course.

People don't realize what it takes to do it. Most people wouldn't even consider it. They logically know that it means flipping from a normal diurnal sleep cycle and they immediately realize this would cut into their accustomed patterns of eating at "normal" times, working and socializing, and generally living amongst the majority of their friends, family and community. They may not fully realize that it means allocating time during the day, every day, to sleep in order to handle staying up all night. And not just a cat nap...that'll get you by for a few days at'll eventually need to sleep a full eight. Or suffer. They might remember all-nighters they may have done studying for exams in their school days or for other occasions and recall the fatigue and stress of sleep deprivation. They probably think all night shift people have this deprived state of being all the time. A perpetual jet-lag, without the perks of actually going anywhere. And some (like Eric) do, in fact, operate that way. For how long? Not long for most. Somethings gotta give.

But some people like Kimmesha, the 22-year-old girl who just started her overnight hours this week, are smart enough to know that you've got to shift around things in your previous life, many things that were taken for granted in fact, and impose an "unnatural" pattern to your daily regimen. Yet knowing that a new timetable is needed and implementing it are two different things. She, like many others who have tried, and, other than Eric so far, have failed, has a child. Being what I'd classify as a child herself, this must mean it's a baby. Lord help her.

She told me at the beginning of the week, when she was still plucky and fresh, how she'd planned her sleeptime to coincide with her baby's day-care. Of course by week's end, she was apologetic to me, though I'm not put out by her falling asleep in her chair. She'll need to save that apology for her neck and back in a few years when the limberness of youth fades away.

Fades, like the long, dark and quiet night into the dawning sunlight stabbing into your bleary, bloodshot eyes.

Monday, October 07, 2013

New Stuff At Universal Studios

I went to the original park yesterday and took some photos of some of the new stuff installed since the last time I came. Pretty interesting.

Here's a couple of pics of the new Transformers ride. An exterior shot of the entrance and a character meet-and-greet with Optimus Prime. This thing (at the meet-and-greet) really moved around and shit too, maybe remote control? IDK.

Here I captured some Top Secret under construction shots of the soon-to-be Daigon Alley expansion of the other park's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Though I'm not a ├╝ber-fanatical follower, I am looking forward to this. It looks least a couple more rides...and with the monorail connection to IOA via the Hogwarts Express themed transport vehicle. Oh, this will be sweet.

Here's the coaster I haven't been on yet. Chickened out today and still haven't been on it.

Here we see iconic landmarks in the new Springfield themed area near the Simpson's ride. What was before a nondescript food court and some wasted space is, well, the same, except now it's Simpson's themed, you see. Oh, and the Duff Beer one is a bar. Yay! 

I had lunch at the Nascar Cafe again. I've got to remind myself it's not what it used to be. The food is much worse. But the view is great. Here's a couple shots from where I sat. I love Orlando.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Surprisingly Good

After last week's folly at the Amway Center I was really leery about how well I'd enjoy the musical I went to last night, "Mamma Mia!" Again I was forced to squeeze my butt into a tiny, moldy Bob Carr seat but that was really the only negative of the night. The performance, the music and even the sound system, lighting and staging were all superb.

I'd never seen this musical before and I hadn't seen the movie so I really had no clue as to what it was about. I vaguely knew it was about a young girl about to be married on a Greek island. I really feared it might be a musical version of something like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with lots of sterotypically loud and boisterous ethnic people. Thankfully it wasn't.

Wow, that comes across racist, eh? It's just that although I don't mind rom-coms revolving around that tried-and-true-though-somewhat-overused quirky ethnic family theme, the wonderful "Moonstruck" comes to mind, I was in the mood for less garlic and more "gaiety," like "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." Well, that's what this was exactly! It was, essentially, "Priscilla" without the drag queens. It even had a lot of the same music, some Day-Glo costuming and a splash or two of hot shirtless men. Gots to have me my hot shirtless men!

The plot was a bit far-out-there but that's not at all unheard of in musical farce. Think of "The Producers" and how unrealistic that plot was. Doesn't detract from anything since the silliness of it all just adds to the fun. The word ABBA. If, like me, you've loved ABBA from the start and continued to do so even when it wasn't cool, you'll know and love the score. (I actually remember the derision I endured back in the seventies when some kids in class asked me what groups I liked to listen to and I stupidly admitted "ABBA." My rep was sealed for the rest of my school days. I was a fag. LOL now, but a pain in the ass back then.)

There were parts that were sung more subtly and scenes where the dialog and action was muted, attempting to reiterate ad-infinitum the plot premise. Yes, we get it, these guys are the potential daddies and mommy doesn't know why there here. It got repetitive and draggy and started to make me sleepy. But it wasn't long before a rousing ABBA tune was belted out accompanied by super-energetic dancing to snap me out of my stupor.

Overall, it definitely made up for the Italian Idol blunder of last week. And, since the only downside was again, the seating, it made the Bob Carr tolerable for yet one last time. Well, maybe. The new venue, from the still exposed iron I-beam skeleton of it, isn't going to be finished until, I'd guess, late next year. So my butt better get thinner 'cause I may have to plop down in one of those nasty, creaky kiddie chairs yet again.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

GTA V: The Ballad Of Gay Everyone

So like millions of other gamers across the entire world, I got GTA V and have been playing it virtually non-stop. Being on vacation this week, I've been able to devote mad hours sitting back in my comfortable leather executive chair and basically crashing into, shooting and blowing up every mutha fucka in my way. That's the essential goal in all GTA titles of course...mayhem. Pure mayhem.

I just last night "beat the game" and finished all the main missions. This is the first GTA in which I even had the enthusiasm to do so...a big hand to its creators...they've got a really well designed, balanced and, most importantly, fun game here. But I do come away scratching my head a bit. (And it ain't 'cause I've been playing so much I've neglected showering. Well, I have, but that's not the reason for the itch.)

What the fuck is with all the homosexual innuendo?

The storyline features three main characters, two of which (Michael and Trevor) have an ever-constantly alluded to mysterious past which seems, at least in the incessant whining and just general "drama" Trevor kicks up anytime Michael is around or discussed, well, gay. It's like former lovers who've had a bitter breakup and are now forced to deal with each other, years later, and the wounds that have never quite healed over time.

Trevor right from the get go seemed "a bit off" as they used to say. And it wasn't just the obvious psycho-derivative, hot-headed trailer trash persona he was purposely designed to portray. His dialogue was rife with some gay sex remark with virtually every sentence. He lives "alone" but has a weird nerdy neighbor (who's probably a slight nod to the odd coke-bottle glasses wearing character (Bubbles) in the Canadian TV show "Trailer Park Boys ") who's always in his trailer. Trevor also has a protege of sorts; Wade, a twenties-something dreadlock-sporting sycophant who's constantly abused both verbally and physically by Trevor but comes loyally back again and again to do Trevor's deranged bidding. During one cutscene, Trevor quips that Wade could beat him off while they drive into the city. When Wade questions this Trevor chuckles and says, "No, not really. You can suck me off instead!"

In the end (The way Trevor likes it I bet. See, now I'm doing it!) the Trevor/Michael thing is never fully resolved. Their's a weird, possibly Stockholm-syndrome influenced relationship Trevor has with an older lady he kidnapped and later released, but it actually comes across as a bit Oedipus-complex-ish, if you ask me. And speaking of Oedipus-complex, Trevor's mother actually makes an appearance towards the end of the main storyline. What does she have to say about all the gay sex jokes, the homo-erotic tension and continual self-denial triggered homophobic attitudes portrayed by her son and all the men around him?

I don't remember. I was drunk by the time she arrived on the scene and passed out having earned my characters close to $30 mil in cash.