Anya Stroud: The Cortana of Gears of War

Anya Stroud from Gears of War 3
The titular character of Gears of War, Anya.

So Gears of War 3 is about to hit the Xbox 360 and the other lesser platforms and I thought it would be rude to not do a focus piece on shall we say the titular character of the Gears series, Anya Stroud.

Who the heck is this Anya? you may well ask? Anya is the Communcations Manager for G.O.W. She's the lady who tells Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago that there is a courtyard free some place for them have a group huddle in to talk about their issues. Boom!

Lieutenant Anya Stroud was a Gears of War officer in the COG Army and the daughter of Major Helena Stroud. Our heroine Anya joined the COG army to follow in her mother’s footsteps, but unlike her mother, she did not serve as a frontline Gear soldier. Anya Stroud instead became a communications officer and served in her mother's unit during the Pendulum Wars. It was during that time met soldier Marcus Fenix and formed a love interest with him, and also became friends with Dominic Santiago. Friends being a keyword.

Stroud is proud...
The release of the demo for Gears of War 3 showed two things: 1: it looks awesome and 2: Anya looks set to break free from her communications role and break out into a combat role. Booya...

So why is this Anya character important? She's no Cortana right? Two words come to mind: Marcus Fenix. Despite his daddy issues, he's been through a shit storm. Why shouldn't he fall for one of the last remaining beauties? What's suggested in Gears 1, is intimated in in Gears 2. I'm fully expecting conception in the third adventure of Gears of War 3... unless of course Marcus makes a boob of himself!

Come hither....

My pick is somehow Marcus Fenix has to rescue her and in doing so declares his undying love to Anya. Something you'll never see the Master Chief do... and in that vein, Anya is just as popular a gaming heroine as the Chief's digital love, Cortana.
It's gettin' hot in here!
Gears of War has captured the minds and hearts of many gamers around the world. Some of them have even lost their virginity. This includes those fans who like to play dress up. Of course, people who like to dress up as characters from video games prefer to call it costume play:

Anya appears to be missing 28 GOG tags...
But it is not just the cosplay fans that want to keep abreast of all the Gears of War issues. Some artists just have too much spare time and are happy to come up with their own interpretations of the Anya character:

Come hither Part II......
Order your copy of Gears of War III here from Amazon. Or get the book! Here's what we thought of Gears of War 4's effort.

Is it me or is Micheal Stipe beginning to look like Billy Joel?

Is it me or is Micheal beginning to look like Billy Joel?

Here's a sweet article from Rolling Stone Magazine in which Mike Mills has a wee chat about the up coming R.E.M. album, Collapse Into Now.

When R.E.M. began recording Collapse Into Now last year they decided to throw out the guidelines they imposed on their last album, 2008's Accelerate. "On the last one we tried to make everything focused, short, fast and sharp," Mike Mills tells Rolling Stone. "We took most of the rules off this time, picking the best songs regardless of whether they were fast, slow or mid-tempo."

The disc, which is due out early next year, reminds Mills of the band's 1992 classic Automatic For The People. "The songs go from one type into another really easily and it all seems to fit as a piece," Mills says. "It makes sense as a whole the same way that Automatic For The People did."

Produced by Jacknife Lee, the disc was recorded over the past year at studios in Portland, New Orleans, Nashville and at Berlin's legendary Hansa Tonstudio—where Mssrs David Bowie and Iggy Pop recorded The Idiot and later where U2 cut Achtung Baby. "There's so many, not exactly ghosts...but vibrations in there," says Mills. "It's as very, very vibey place."

While in the city of Berlin, REM met up with longtime friend Patti Smith, who contributed vocals to the track "Blue." "Patti totally changed the song and added a whole other dimension to it," says Mills. "It was a powerful thing to watch." Another track, "It Happened Today," featured vocal contributions from Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam

The songs are also less political than the material on the last album Accelerate. "It's more of a personal record than a political one," says Mills. "Current events do come into our mind when we write, but the themes here are more universal."

Other songs on the album include the piano driven ballad "Walk It Back," a rocker called "All The Best" that features Mills and Michael Stipe sharing lead vocals and "Everyday Is Yours To Win"—which Mills describes as a "slow, beautiful song built around a guitar riff."

Mills says the group didn't always see eye-to-eye while recording the album. "This one certainly has its share of difficulty—but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing," he says. "It just means you have creative tension, which is what happens when three strong-willed people manage to find a consensus."

Transformers Dark of the Moon Teaser Trailer

The Optimus Prime Experiment happily spied that the internet is full of joy about the new teaser trailer for the new documentary about the history of the Transformers. This doc, the third in a series put together by renowned historian Micheal Bay tells of a major cover up about what actually happened when Mr Neil Armstrong went to the moon...

Optimus Prime said to me over a meal of dead cat that he thought Mr Bay's footage looked to be bang on and appeared to be a faithful reconstruction of the actual events.

The Cortana Pictures

cortana from the original Halo CE game
"Fancy a look?"

Pictures of Cortana from Halo

Everyone's favourite purple A.I., Cortana doesn't appear in Halo 3:ODST, instead we got a guy that liked to Keep it Clean and talked a little weird.

This doesn't mean Cortana is gone forever from the Halo series, she'll be back in all her nude glory when Microsoft surely does a sequel to Halo 3.

Her very brief but significant cameo in Halo: Reach hardly counted I reckon...

This doesn't mean we can't relive the past with some pictures of Cortana. She's a sex pot to all the 13 year old Halo players didn't ya know? And then some.

There's a reason Cortana's body appeared to be more naked and her boobs got hotter and bigger with the release of the Halo games.

It wasn't because of the improvements in coding technology... or was it?

Compare the picture at the top of this post to the next and note the distinct change in breast size.
cortana halo 3
The mind boggles at what this Halo 3 cut scene was all about.
cortana concept art
cortana witht the key halo
Contrast is key.....
cortana halo flood capture
No sex tonight dear, I have a head ache...
Cosplay is a really popular past time with all the Conventions that happen across America and the ROTW, so it's no surprise Cortana is a popular cosplay costume choice.
Only second to the infamous Princess Leia. bikini outfits...

cortana blue costume cosplay
Cortana cosplay at its finest

Here's another popular Cortana costume play outfit:
cosplay cortana halo

halo cosplay

What's the appeal of Cortana? Why the big deal? Let's face it, she's the real Hero of the Halo series, if it wasn't for her, the Master Chief would accidentally have unleashed the might of the first Halo Ring on the universe, destroying everyone. He'd have been a real boob eh?

The next image of Cortana is taken from the Halo Legends DVD:

cortana from halo legends

Halo artwork is very popular. I think the artist of the below sketch may have got Cortana's breast proportions all wrong. What do you think?

cortana drawing big breasts
Shed a tear, cause I'm missing you. 
Sometimes the owners of the Halo IP call in the big guns, and for the Halo Graphic Novel, this artwork was included. You can almost smell the sexual tension between the Chief and Mrs Cortana in the picture below. Is is me or is one breast slightly bigger than the other?

cortana concept art breasts

cortana covering her boobs
What are you looking at? Stop staring at my breasts!

Here's some Cortana concept are by Issac Hannaford who did some design work for Bungie:

Design work for cortna

Do snakes make you nervous?

Seems like the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in New Zealand gets a little nervous when we talk of snakes, especially as New Zealand doesn't have any!

This week it was an 80cm boa constrictor curled up in a shipping container of ornamental palms from Guatemala, discovered by Auckland port workers.

In July a 19-year-old man was jailed for smuggling in two brown and cream mottled corn snakes from Bangkok in his pants.

And, in May 2008, the stowaway was a 55cm ground boa from Indonesia or Papua New Guinea which made its way to Tauranga underneath an empty shipping container from Vanuatu.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says it is no longer unusual for live
 snakes to make it to New Zealand. Quarantine inspectors from around New Zealand are being sent each year to a snake catcher's course in Adelaide, South Australia, as the frequency of such discoveries increases.

Inspectors are equipped with snake hooks, tongs, white ox gloves, goggles, catch bags and first-aid gear. Detector dogs trained to scent reptiles are available if required. When discovered the snakes are put down immediately.

The Ministry seems nervous about these incursions and perhaps with good cause. New Zealand already provides a damp, temperate climate conducive to snakes.

"Snakes are excluded by law from entering New Zealand. There are no exceptions which is why they are not found in zoos, research establishments or accompanying visiting entertainers," says Jaimie Baird, a quarantine inspector in Nelson and one of 24 Biosecurity New Zealand staff trained to deal with serpent trespassers.

Smugglers face hefty penalties: a maximum of five years in jail and fines of up to $100,000.

Mike Mullany, who was 18 when he smuggled in the two corn snakes in his back pockets on his return from a holiday in Thailand, was sentenced to three months in prison but got out this month after serving only six weeks.

If snakes were to become established in New Zealand, they could wipe out many of our native frogs, birds, and reptiles. According to Mandy Tocher, a Department of Conservation 
herpetologist (snake expert) based in Dunedin, New Zealand's native animals could be vulnerable because they have not evolved to deal with such predators. And the snakes could also transmit parasites and disease to native reptiles.

"And they bite," she says. "And it costs money to have anti-venoms ready to go and the experts trained to deal with snake bites."

Kevin Hackwell, from Forest and Bird, agrees. "New Zealand's fauna has evolved over millions of years in the absence of mammals and snakes," he says. "They are not adapted to avoiding predation by these animals and are therefore particularly susceptible to their introduction."

But why not put them in zoos where at least our Kiwi kids could get a chance to see the real slithery slimy thing? "In case they escape," says Tocher. "The risk is too high."

Where's my dinner?
The parents of little Shaiunna Hare didn't hear a thing. The snake moved silently through the house while they were sleeping. When they rose in the morning and checked the 2-year-old's cot, she was not still breathing. A 2.6m-long albino Burmese python lay wrapped around her body.

The southern stretches of the United States are home to dozens of native species of snakes. Many, like the corn snake, are harmless. Some, like the venomous rattlers and water moccasins, are more dangerous. Love them or loathe them, they all belong and have their place in that ecosystem.

The Burmese python does not - it hails from Southeast Asia. So how did a python come to be in Shaiunna's Florida bedroom last year?

The python, along with a boa constrictor named Dixie, was a family pet.

That same week, thousands of miles away in Bristol, United Kingdom, a 4-year-old tabby cat was killed by a 
Burmese python as it wandered outside to a neighbouring backyard.

"We don't know whether 
Wilbur stumbled across the snake and it was an opportunistic kill or if the snake was actively hunting him," says owner Martin Wadey on his website. "But either way, we heard the python's strike from the terrified scream that came from Wilbur and the subsequent blood-chilling cries as he fought for his life." It was over in less than a minute. Wilbur was consumed whole. His killer, a 4m-long 80kg snake named Squash, had been left outside unattended in an unsecured property while his owner reportedly tended to his laundry.

Stupid snake, he got caught!

Lady Gaga pioneers the meat bikini for Vogue (Vegans Hate HERRR!)

lady gaga meat bikini
Nice to meat you, Gaga

Music's biggest thing since Madonna stuck a pose, Lady Gaga has again stirred up the critics, punters and most importantly, that most obnoxious of lobby groups, Peta by posing in a meat bikini for Vogue Magazine.

You may recall how Pink once gotta captured by Peta's ideology - not Lady Gaga, she takes her meat seriously and was happy to pose for a Vogue Magazine cover.

Hold the Telephone, this is actually a PSA add!  Let's face it, she's actually doing a public service, inspiring young women all over the world to eat meat to get their iron levels up.

Anyways, PETA's all round gimp Terry Richardson said of the Vogue cover, saying "meat is something you want to avoid putting on or in your body," and that "no matter how beautifully it is presented, flesh from a tortured animal is flesh from a tortured animal."

What's all the fuss about really? Let's face it, Gaga is a publicity whore. It's actually part of her charm and appeal. In terms of the celebrity meat market, she's like Paris Hilton but is actually interesting. 

But let's get real, Gaga isn't the first person to come up with the concept of wearing a meat bikini.

After all, the celebrated Bacon Bikini has been around for years:

bacon bikini bra

Gaga has already done an awesome cover for Rolling Stone Magazine where her breasts seemed to support the 'big guns':

lady gaga gun tits bikini

But there was the time where the Bad Romance singer decided she would pay homage to Marilyn Munroe but her stylist misheard the request and thought she asked for Marilyn Manson:

gaga looks like manson

Let's not forget the 'bloody show' incident either!

lady gaga covered in blood

But we can't forget Gaga's appearance at Lollapalooza a couple of weeks ago where she let the fans grope her and basically wore the most see-through top she could find:

lady gaga see through top

Burmese Albino Pythons and Britney Spears: A perfect combo

big Breasted Selma Heyak with a snake
A reason to buy Dusk till Dawn......
Burmese Pythons are light-coloured snakes with many brown blotches bordered in black down the back. Albino Burmese Pythons are often found to be  white with patterns in butterscotch yellow and burnt orange. If you have any difficulty telling which is which, ask Salma Hayek.

If she's too busy saving her beard off, check out out these pictures. Turns out albino pythons love to pose for the camera. Their, 'I can't be fucked with this photo shoot' attitude is so hot right now:

Check out Blue Steel, or more properly Yellow Steel.

See this bruva below? That's not his tongue. It's the tail of a rat. That's right, albino snakes eat rats just like normal snakes eat rats. Sometimes pythons are known to eat electric fences. Those ones are just a lil too kinky if you ask me. 

In the wild, Burmese pythons generally grow to 3.7 metres on average while specimens of more than 4.5 metres have been found. There are also dwarf forms of these pythons on Java, Bali and Sulawesi but they don't attract such wonder. Also, if they are albino, the other snakes won't play with them. Kids huh?

What's a his favourite song? Coldplay's Yellow?
Burmese Pythons are often sold as pets - this is probably due to their attractive colours and apparently easy-going nature. However, these scaly animals have a rapid growth rate, and will often exceed 2m in length in a year if fed and cared for properly. By age 4, they will have reached their adult size, though they continue growing very slowly throughout their lives, which can be longer than 20 years.

Pythons also consume large amounts of food. Apparently many owners believe if a snake acts hungry, then it should be fed baby seal. I personally don't know how a snake can act hungry other than biting or eating someone whole. None-the-less Burmese albino pythons are opportunistic feeders, they will eat almost any time food is offered. Unwise owners may then overfeed their pets leading to obesity related problems.

But what would a responsible python owner feed their beloved Python molurus bivittatus? Baby seals are nice but difficult to come by so Jessica Rabbits are always a tasty treat:

Hmmm, I love that furry feeling in my mouth.

I should have stewed this rabbit. At least it could have had some seasoning.
Sorry Kids, Easter is cancelled. My bad. 

Albino Pythons sure are more popular than other snakes. They are more greatly sought after because they just look freaking cool when draped around your neck. Don't believe me, ask the womansizer herself, Britney Spears:

Britney Spears wearing a snake over her bikini
I dunno what it is with celebrities enjoying having giant yellow pythons hanging round their necks but it's gotta have some appeal otherwise Angelina Jolie wouldn't have done it:

Angelina Jolie with a snake
Brad's is this long!
Crickey, I think this just ate a dingo!
Even bloody Steve and Terry Irwin both got in on the act and tried to share wearing one to the opening of a zoo somewhere. The fashion critic in me laughs at their matching outfits but applauds Terri's attempt to accessorize.

Seeing celebrities get in on the wear an albino snake craze, the fashion industry has figured out they can go further and show off the latest sexy bra and panties combos by using the snakes. It's some kind of Adam and Eve guilt complex, I'm sure. I tried to ask model Ana Hickman (below) about it and she simply stole my fags and said 'Jimmy Jangles, who the fuck let you in here?' and stormed off in her pink bikini, with one fucking lucky snake in tow:

Does this snake make me look fat in this? Seriously guys, could I lose a few pounds? Maybe the snake should be a different colour to match my eyes? 

According to
National Geographic, habitat depletion, continued demand for Burmese albino pythons in the pet trade, and hunting for their skins and flesh have landed these python on the threatened species list. So who's fault is that? Consumers? People who like nice hand bags? Yes. And Britney Spears.