Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Carlsen Retains World Chess Champion Title By Winning Tiebreak

Wow! On his 26th birthday, Magnus Carlsen was able to defend his world chess championship title over a challenge from Russian Sergey Karjakin by winning the 4-game rapid chess (25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move) match 3-1 today. After two draws, Carlsen won the last two games, finishing the very last game with a flashy Queen sacrifice which forces mate in two moves! (Do you see it?)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 World Chess Championship Tied At 6-All; Tiebreaker Games To Be Played Wednesday

The 2016 World Chess Championship is going on right now in New York City. The current champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who turns 26 on Wednesday while the challenger is Sergey Karjakin is already 26 and was born in the Ukraine but is representing Russia.

After 12 games (with only 2 decisive games, Karjakin won game 8 with Black while Carlsen won game 10 with white) the two are tied with 6 points each. On Wednesday, they will play in several short tiebreaker games to decide who the new World Champion is. Carlsen is expected to have the slight edge, since he has won the World Rapid Championship twice.

Monday, November 28, 2016

EYE CANDY: Fabrice Lemonnier (reprise)

Fabrice Lemonnier has appeared as Eye Candy once before (October 24, 2016). He is a bodybuider and model from France. He has accounts on Instagram (@fabricelemonnier) and snapchat (fabcherry78).  That last screenname would give the impression that he was born in 1978, which would make him 38 but I have no confirmation of any information (age, height, weight, sexual orientation) regarding Fabrice. (If you know any thing about him, drop a note in the comments!) Regardless, I love that ink!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

2016 DAVIS CUP: Argentina Stuns Croatia As Delpo and Delbonis Win Last 2 Matches To Clinch Nation's 1st Win

Wow! The 2016 tennis season ended with a bang on Sunday as Argentina won its very first Davis Cup (in its 5th appearance in the final) when Juan Martin Del Potro and Federico Delbonis won two must-win matches to give their country a 3-2 win in the Davis Cup final over Croatia, in Zagreb.
The day began with Del Potro coming back from 2 sets to none down for the first time in his career against World #8 Marin Cilic to win in 5 sets: 6-7(4), 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 in 4 hours 43 minutes. This is the third time this year Cilic has had a 2-0 set advantage in a five-set match and ended up losing it (Wimbledon quarterfinal against Roger Federer and the USA vs Croatia rubber versus Jack Sock.)

But Delbonis' feat was even more amazing. He had to win a live fifth rubber against a higher ranked opponent, playing at home. The 26-year-old lefty Argentine is ranked 41 in the world and is known as a solid clay court player but he defeated the 37-year-old 6-foot-11 Ivo Karlovic (World #20) in straight sets: 6-3 6-4 6-2. Karlovic leads the tour in aces and has the #2 best serve (behind John Isner) but it was Delbonis who never had his serve broken in the match.

Argentina was in the Davis Cup final in 1981, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2016, finally winning it for the first time this year. Croatia won it once before in 2005. Last year Great Britain won

Saturday, November 26, 2016

THE EXPANSE (S1E08): "Salvage"

The eighth episode of season 1 of The Expanse was titled "Salvage" and aired for the first time on January 26, 2016.  Here (finally!) is my review of this episode. I rewatched "Salvage" again the weekend after Thanksgiving

S1E08: Salvage.
The title of the episode most likely stems from the fact that the crew of the Rocinante finds a deserted ship, the Anubis, attached to a barren rock at the remote coordinates Fred Johnson sent them to on a rescue mission. On boarding the craft, which looks identical to the powerful and stealthy space ships which destroyed both the Canterbury in episode 1 ("Dulcinea")  and the Donnager in episode 4 ("CQB"), the crew discovers that it is abandoned and deserted. However, when they turn the power on, a strange blue glowing organism (which looks alien to my eyes but which no one on the show describes as such) appears to start growing (and glowing) more energetically. They hurriedly leave the ship and over the objections of the spy/hostage/stowaway Kenzo they fire a missile at the Anubis, turning it to fiery slag as they head towards Eros. 

Eros is where Miller is going, having been fired in episode 7, he is continuing with his obsession with finding out what happened to Julie Mao, albeit now as a private citizen with a lot of friends in law enforcement due to his status as an ex-cop himself. He runs into Sematimba, an Eros cop, who bails him out after Miller beats up a guy to get information on where Julie's ship, the Anubis 1A is docking and where the registered owner, "Lionel Polanski" is holed up. Of course, that's the same name of the person that Holden and crew are looking for and they both arrive at a flophouse where a bunch of very heavily armed thugs attempts to put bullets through every member of the crew. (Earlier in the episode we had seen that Errinwright on Earth confirmed to Avasarala that his attempt to assassinate Holden was going to take place on Eros, which he referred to as the murder capital of the Solar System.) Holden and his crew are saved by Amos' quick instincts and Miller's entry into the battle at a crucial moment. Finally, Miller and Holden,the two protagonists of the two key threads of the story meet, and of course immediately clash. The entire crew (plus Miller) go up to Polanski's room and there they find Julie, clearly dead for days, with very strange (clearly) alien growths coming out most of her orifices.

  • The fight sequence at the Blue Falcon Hotel is really well done, as the tension rises higher and higher as the audience knows that a "hit" is going to happen and so we view every passer-by with suspicion (which appears to be what Amos does as standard operating procedure). The eventual gun battle is bloody but exciting.
  • The dialogue between Holden and Naomi as they navigate through the eerily empty (but clearly dangerous) environment of the Anubis is a fun signal of future development in their relationship because it shows they have clearly moved from blatant hostility to grudging respect and perhaps even camaraderie.

  • Avarasala only appears in one scene this episode but she infuses it with great emotion as she discovers that her friend, the former Ambassador to Mars (whom she betrayed in order to get useful intelligence for Earth about Martian intelligence) has been found dead, listed as a suicide.

GRADE: 8/10.

Friday, November 25, 2016

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Is People's Sexiest Man Alive

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been named the 2016 People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. Johnson, 44, is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds and is the largest person to receive this recognition. According to The New York Times, he is currently Hollywood's highest paid male actor. Interestingly, other people who have been named the Sexiest Man Alive are Bradley Cooper, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon and Denzel Washington.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: A Night Without Stars (Chronicle of the Fallers, #2) by Peter F. Hamilton

A Night Without Stars is the sequel to The Abyss Beyond Dreams, which is the latest entry in Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth saga. The Commonwealth saga takes place in the fictional Universe of some of Hamilton's greatest works, whch include the great duopoly Pandora's Star / Judas Unchained and the Void trilogy (The Dreaming Void, The Temporal Void, The Evolutionary Void).

A Night Without Stars is a somewhat inconsistent but very enjoyable entry in the Commonwealth saga. There is a very strong ending (with cameo appearances by some of the most famous and beloved figures in Hamilton's recent oeuvre) rescues this entry in the Commonwealth saga from relative obscurity.

One of the most exciting aspects of this new duopoly is the completely new setting of the planet of Bienvenido and the interesting possibilities for new plots and characters this allows a grandmaster of science fiction like Hamilton to create. There is a huge twist that happens about halfway through A Night Without Stars that I kicked myself for not seeing (it's even hinted at in the prologue!) which guarantees that any Hamilton fan will enjoy reading this book. However, there are some definite drawbacks in the book as well. There are some clumsily written (heterosexual) sex scenes between some of the new primary characters that were a bit cringe worthy.

Hamilton's primary strength, in my opinion, has typically been his imaginative portrayals of a technologically complex world, coupled with intensely violent and action-packed conflicts between (often alien) intelligences with competing (and competitive) ideologies. There are definite stretches of the book which are pulse-pounding scenes of action, but there are also stretches of the book bogged down in prosaic depictions of political intrigue with one-dimensional characters.

Overall, I'm very glad that Hamilton is writing in the Commonwealth universe again and would LOVE him to write many more books in this series. However, the way the book ends, it feels like he is ready to move on to something else, However, for some reason this doesn't bring me sadness, it makes me feel gratitude at how much he has already created that I have enjoyed for so long.

Title: A Night Without Stars (Chronicle of the Fallers, #2).
Peter F. Hamilton.
Paperback: 720 pages.
 Del Rey.
Date Published: September 27, 2016.
Date Read: October 13, 2016.


OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).


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